Asian Shrimp with Spinach

For lunch today we are having a Shrimp and Spinach combo that is served over whole wheat farfalle pasta.  This recipe definitely has an Asian flair!  If you are not a fan of spinach this preparation may just change your mind.  I wilt tender baby spinach in a little bit of Mirin (rice wine) and it is mild and sweet tasting.  Mr. Extruded Noodle liked it a lot.  I thought the dish was light, delicious and dare I say healthy?  This lunch will not weigh you down!  Have all your ingredients ready because once you start cooking it will all come together quickly…

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Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. (1-1/2 cups) whole wheat farfalle pasta
  • 2 tbsp. pignoli (pine nuts), toasted
  • 8 oz. (20-24) medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce, divided
  • pinch of cayenne pepper, garlic powder and ginger
  • 8 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup mirin (rice wine)
  • pinch of garlic powder, ginger and salt
  • 1-1/2 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 wooden skewers, soaked in water

Preparation:

Toast the pignoli in a dry skillet over medium low heat.  Stir constantly and don’t walk away, they burn easily.  Remove and set aside for garnish.

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Combine the shrimp, 1 tbsp. soy sauce, pinch of cayenne pepper, garlic powder and powdered ginger in a small bowl.  Let it sit for 15 minutes then thread the shrimp onto 4 skewers.

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Cook the pasta in 1-1/2 cups chicken broth for 2 minutes less than package directions.  Most of the liquid should be absorbed and the pasta will be coated with starch.  Don’t rinse!  Keep it warm while you cook the shrimp and spinach.

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Heat 2 tsp. of sesame oil in a large skillet over medium low.  Cook the shrimp skewers 2 minutes per side or just until they turn pink.  Remove to a plate and sprinkle with more seasoning.

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Wipe the skillet clean.  Combine 1/4 cup of Mirin, pinch of garlic powder, powdered ginger and salt.  Add the Mirin to the skillet and bring to a boil.  Add all of the spinach, cover and cook 1 minute, just until wilted.

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Divide the spinach and pasta between 2 bowls and toss well.  Top each bowl with 2 shrimp skewers, drizzle with 1 tbsp. soy sauce and 1 tbsp. pignoli.

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Our lunch was delicious.  The Asian inspired seasonings are perfect with shrimp and spinach.  The whole grain pasta and pignoli added great texture and nutty flavor.  Make it today for your favorite spinach lover!

 

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Posted in #dashdiet, 30 Minutes or Less, Asian Inspired, Dash Diet Friendly, Seafood, Whole Grains | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Spinach Mini Quiche

Let’s get the day started with an easy recipe that would make Popeye proud!  It is perfect for a casual breakfast or Sunday Brunch.  The recipe will yield about 16 mini quiches.  I used a 12 cup muffin pan and cooked the rest in small Pyrex custard cups.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 5 oz. baby spinach
  • 12 large eggs, beaten
  • 8 oz. mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 package of white button mushrooms
  • 1 package of baby bella mushrooms
  • 1-1/4 tsp. Lawry’s Seasoned Salt (I like the 25% less sodium blend)
  • cooking spray

Preparation:

Melt butter with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium low heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook until softened, 3-4 minutes.

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Remove the mushrooms from the pan, drain in a colander and set aside.  Wipe the pan clean.

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Add the spinach with 1/4 cup water.  Cover and cook 1 minute, just until the spinach is wilted.

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Drain the spinach well and pat it dry with paper towels.

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Preheat the oven to 375º and coat the muffin tin with cooking spray.  When the mushrooms and spinach have cooled to room temperature, whisk the eggs in a large bowl.  Stir in the cheese, mushrooms, spinach and seasoned salt.

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Spoon the mixture into 16 muffin cups, to about 3/4 full.  Bake 25-30 minutes until set.  The quiche will puff up during baking and may deflate a bit when removed from the pan.

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Carefully scoop out the quiches with a spoon and transfer to a rack.  They should slide right out.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

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This is a very easy recipe that you can double or triple to feed a crowd for brunch.

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I made a meatless version but you could easily jazz it up with bacon, sausage or prosciutto!  Be sure to pin this easy and delicious recipe for your next Sunday brunch!

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Posted in Breakfast, Comfort Food, Holiday Favorites | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Rocky Point Red Clam Chowder

I was born and raised in RI and have lived here for most of my life.  This post celebrates a Rhode Island icon of my youth, Rocky Point Park.  The amusement park, which closed over 20 years ago was a favorite childhood destination for its incredible thrill rides.  Shore Dinner Hall at Rocky Point was the place to go for clam cakes and chowder that were famously served to thousands at a time.

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Copycat recipes abound for Rocky Point Red Clam Chowder.  Here is my rendition, and I think it is a fitting tribute to the original.  Try the recipe and let me know what you think!  You don’t have to be a local to love this chowder, it is fabulous!

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Fresh clams are always available in RI, but if you don’t want to do all that prep, frozen raw clams are a great alternative.  They are so much better than canned, and worth seeking out.  Remember, clams cook quickly and should only be added to the chowder during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

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Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. salt pork
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 2 bottles (16 oz. total) clam juice
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • 16 oz. container raw chopped clams, thawed
  • 1 can (10.75 oz.) condensed tomato soup
  • 1-1/2 tsp. paprika
  • black pepper to taste

Preparation:

Dice the onions, peel and dice the potatoes, and dice the salt pork into 1/2″ pieces.

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or heavy stockpot over medium low heat.  Add the salt pork and cook for 10-13 minutes, stirring constantly until browned.

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Remove the browned bits of salt pork, drain on paper towels and set aside to serve with the finished chowder.  Reserve the fat in the pan.

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Add the onions and cook 5 minutes.

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Add the potatoes, clam juice, water and Old Bay seasoning.  Bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes.

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Add the clams, tomato soup and paprika.  Cook 5 minutes longer (a simmer, not a rolling boil), season with black pepper and remove from the heat.  Let stand for 1 hour before serving.

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Serve in shallow bowls and top with a few of the reserved bacon bits.  For a little something special, be sure and check out my Homemade Oyster Crackers.

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The bacon bits really make the flavor pop!  And how about those Oyster Crackers? Yes, they are from scratch and they are wonderful!

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Fellow Rhode Islanders, I hope you have enjoyed this bit of local nostaglia.  Foodies, wherever you are, this one is a must try!

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Posted in Seafood, Soup | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Homemade Oyster Crackers

Oyster Crackers.  Those cute little crackers that restaurants give you with chowder and soup.  Some are round and some are hexagon shaped.  Yes, you can buy them, but what am I doing today?  Of course I am making them at home, from scratch!  We had a snow day this week, and you know what happens when I am home and looking for something new to try!  Everyone thought the Oyster Crackers were excellent.  We were snacking on them right out of the oven!

Homemade-Oyster-Crackers-The-Extruded-Noodle-085B My Oyster Crackers tasted like the original, but had far less salt.  They were crisp and held up well in soup!  I didn’t have a mold to cut the little circles or hexagons so I made mine in a diamond shape. The dough handles very much like pie dough.  The trick is to keep it cold.  Here’s how to make it…

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. very cold butter
  • 1/3 cup ice water

Preparation: Cut the butter into small pieces and refrigerate it (keep it cold) while you gather the other ingredients.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Pre-heat the oven to 375º.

Homemade-Oyster-Crackers-The-Extruded-Noodle-025 Whisk together the dry ingredients and place in  small food processor or mini chopper.  Add the butter and pulse a few times to form a coarse dough.

Homemade-Oyster-Crackers-The-Extruded-Noodle-027a It will look shaggy, like pie dough but it will hold together when you give it a squeeze.

Homemade-Oyster-Crackers-The-Extruded-Noodle-031a Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for 10 minutes.  Then roll it out between 2 sheets of waxed paper to about 1/8″ thick.

Homemade-Oyster-Crackers-The-Extruded-Noodle-063a Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into 3/4″ diamonds.

Homemade-Oyster-Crackers-The-Extruded-Noodle-076a Gently lift the crackers with a thin spatula and place them on the parchment lined baking sheets, don’t let them touch.  Put the baking sheets in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before baking.  Don’t skip this step!  The dough needs to be cold going into the oven.

Homemade-Oyster-Crackers-The-Extruded-Noodle-082a Bake 15 minutes on the middle rack (not too close to the bottom or they will get singed).  See how the crackers puff up and retain their sharp edges?

Homemade-Oyster-Crackers-The-Extruded-Noodle-085a Cool the crackers in the pan.  Then lift the edges of the parchment paper and slide them into a bowl for serving.

Homemade-Oyster-Crackers-The-Extruded-Noodle-100a Curious about the bacon bits?  I made them to top off  a delicious red clam chowder, so you won’t want to miss the next post.

Homemade-Oyster-Crackers-The-Extruded-Noodle-121a I was very proud of my little snow day experiment.  We had enough for about 8 servings.  The next time I will make a double batch, so we have extra for snacking.  Yes, they were that good.  Check out the next post for a very special chowder recipe!

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Butternut Squash Risotto with Shrimp and Roasted Vegetables

The inspiration for this recipe was an entrée that I enjoyed at a new restaurant a few weeks ago.  When I took the first bite, I just about swooned!  From that moment I knew that I had to try making it at home.  It is an elegant dinner for two that is both comfort food and fine dining, all rolled into one meal!  The steps are easy to follow and the results are impressive.  I put this together after work one night, and although it took a little longer than my usual weeknight dinner it was well worth waiting for.  Make this for your someone special.

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2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/3 cup sweet onion, cut into small dice
  • 1-1/2 cups Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and quartered
  • 1-1/2 cups cauliflower, chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 1/3 cup warmed butternut squash puree (reserved from another meal)
  • 1/3 cup Carnaroli rice (or substitute another short grain rice such as Arborio)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • 3 tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3-1/3 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth, warm or room temperature

Preparation:

Chop the Brussels sprouts and cauliflower into small uniform size pieces about 1″.  Rinse, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 425º for 20 minutes.  There should be just a bit of browning around the edges.

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Heat a heavy nonstick skillet with 1 tbsp. butter.  Add the shrimp, and sprinkle with Old Bay.  Cook the shrimp just until they turn pink, then remove from the pan and season again.

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Carnaroli rice is widely regarded as the best for making risotto and it is worth seeking out if you can’t find it at the grocery store.  It is a high quality short grain rice with a wonderful texture that is perfect for making risotto that is creamy but firm.  If your risotto turns to mush you must try this rice.

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To get started, wipe the skillet clean, then melt 1 tbsp. butter and add 1/3 cup Carnaroli rice.  You may be thinking this will not be enough to feed 2 people, but just wait and see  how the rice absorbs several times its own weight in liquid!

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Stir the rice to coat with butter, cook for 1 minute then add 1/4 cup white wine to the pan and stir it in.  When the wine is nearly evaporated add the onions.

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Begin adding the chicken broth 1/3 cup at a time, stirring frequently.  When the broth is almost absorbed add another 1/3 cup.  Continue this process until the rice is cooked.  It will take about 30 minutes and you will use about 2-2/3 cups of broth total.  When the rice is done, finish it with 1 tbsp. butter and 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese.  See how the risotto has filled the pan?

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Next, stir in the butternut squash puree (be sure to warm it first).

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Fold in the Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and shrimp with 2/3 cups more chicken broth.  Heat through, about 2 more minutes.

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Now it’s time to pour wine and light the candles.  Transfer the risotto to a serving platter for a nice presentation when you bring it to the table!

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Look at that, I think it was even better than the restaurant version!  Mr. Extruded Noodle loves risotto and he was impressed.  I will definitely be making this again!  What a great meal for date night.

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Posted in Dinner for two, Elegant Dining, Seafood, Skillet Dinners, Under an hour | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Mediterranean Chicken

Mediterranean Chicken dinner checks all my boxes for an easy weeknight meal.  It’s on the table in 30 minutes, so you can throw it together when you get home from work.  It’s comfort food.  It’s loaded with healthy veggies and whole grains.  And there’s pasta. ♥  The evening is off to a great start!  4 Servings.

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 Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. boneless chicken tenders
  • whole wheat seasoned breadcrumbs, about 1/2 cup
  • 1/2 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1/2 lb. whole wheat fusilli
  • olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 pkg. mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • flour
  • seasoned salt

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Preparation:

Cut the chicken into 1-1/2″ chunks and toss with the breadcrumbs.  Heat a large skillet over medium low.  Brown the breaded chicken in olive oil, then add the broth and stir until absorbed.  Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.  Cook the pasta 2 minutes less than package directions.  Drain and set aside, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.  Add more oil to the skillet, toss with all of the vegetables and season to taste.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Add the diced tomatoes and return the chicken to the skillet, turning and tossing well to heat through.  Sprinkle with flour to thicken the liquid in the pan.

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Add the drained pasta and toss well to coat with sauce.  If needed, add a little of the reserved pasta water.  Season to taste.

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Transfer to a platter and serve with grated cheese.

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Skillet dinners like this are so fast and easy.  You can vary the recipe to use veggies you have on hand, use sausage instead of chicken, etc.  Click here for more 30 minute meal ideas!

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Posted in 30 Minutes or Less, Chicken, Chicken Dinner, Comfort Food, Pasta, Skillet Dinners, Whole Grains | Leave a comment

Honey Molasses Bran Muffins

I hate to throw food away, so I am always trying to be creative with leftovers.  Some of my best recipes come about from this “use it up” mindset.  Today I am bringing you one of them.  I have been wanting to make Bran Muffins, and this week with a little leftover coffee, dried fruit and half of a ripe banana on hand, a new muffin recipe was born.  Get your fiber fix with a moist, tasty muffin that is a little different from the usual.  Instead of raisins, I substituted dried fig, prune and date.  The addition of coffee and almonds are a nice twist on the traditional bran muffin recipe.  Be sure to buy toasted wheat germ, and if you can’t find toasted almonds, bake them yourself for that extra flavor.

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Some of these ingredients (nuts, dried fruits, wheat germ) can be purchased in small amounts from the bulk section of your grocer, so you can try a new recipe without buying the whole package.

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Wet Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup minced dried fruit (fig, prune, date)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 tbsp. molasses
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 small banana, mashed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup cold coffee
  • 1 cup 1% milk

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Dry Ingredients:

  • 1-1/4 cups white whole wheat flour (milled from 1 cup white wheat berries)
  • 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 1 cup wheat bran
  • 1/2 cup bread flour
  • 1/4 cup unsalted whole almonds, toasted and ground fine
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • cooking spray

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Preparation:

Mince the dried fruit in an electric chopper.  Stir the fruit together with the egg, honey and molasses in the bowl of your stand mixer and let it sit for 15 minutes.  This allows the fruit to hydrate before baking.  Your muffins will be nice and moist!

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If your almonds are raw, toast them on a baking sheet at 350º for 6 minutes before grinding them.  This little extra step adds great flavor!  Whisk together all the dry ingredients.

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Preheat the oven to 400º.  Coat a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray.  Add the remaining wet ingredients to the mixer bowl and beat on low with the whisk attachment for 2 minutes.  Fold in the dry ingredients, just until moistened and spoon the batter into the muffin cups.

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You should have just enough for 12 muffins.

Bake for 20 minutes and cool on a rack.

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Mr. Extruded Noodle said the muffins were very moist and tasty.  We had a few with our afternoon coffee and I froze the rest for breakfast and healthy snacks.  Wrap muffins individually in plastic wrap then store in a freezer bag for easy grab and go.

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I hope you enjoyed this “use it up” challenge.  For some other muffin ideas check out my Breakfast Muffins with Dried Fruit recipes.

 

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Posted in Baking, Breakfast, Whole Grains | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Pork and Bean Soup

Cold winter days make me crave comfort food.  Pork and Bean Soup is so rich and thick, just what we need when New England weather is at its worst.  It is nutritious, full of fiber and surprisingly low in fat.  Pork shanks make a wonderful soup base, but you can substitute a ham bone if you have one on hand.  Don’t shy away from cooking with beans.  When you know how you will have tender flavorful beans every time.  Making your own ensures you control the ingredients, including salt content.

Here are some tips.  Always soak beans overnight, don’t take shortcuts.  Rinse beans well before soaking and change the water before cooking.  Plan on 3+ hours cook time at a low simmer.  Do not add salt until the last hour of cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 16 bean mix – 1 package
  • 1 fully cooked, uncured pork shank (please, no nitrites!)
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. sage
  • 1/2 cup soup pasta

Preparation:

Place the beans in a colander and rinse well.

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Place them in a stock pot and fill with cold water.  Cover and soak overnight.  The beans will more than double in size.  Drain and rinse again.

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Place the beans in a clean stockpot and cover with cold water.  Do not add salt.  Cover and simmer on low for 2 hours.  Drain and rinse the beans again, and return them to the stockpot, fill with water for the final time.

Pork-and-Bean-Soup-The-Extruded-Noodle-010aAdd the pork shank.  Chop the carrots, celery and onion into 1/2″ dice.  Add to the soup pot along with the herbs and seasoning.  Here is where you add the salt.  Simmer on low one hour more.

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Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Transfer the pork shank to a cutting board and shred the meat.  Use an immersion blender to partially puree the beans and vegetables.  If you don’t have one, you can carefully transfer a few scoops of the soup to a regular blender, puree and return to the pot.

 

Stir in the cooked pasta and shredded pork.  Cover and turn heat down to low until ready to serve.

Pork-and-Bean-Soup-The-Extruded-Noodle-027a Spoon the soup into shallow bowls.  It’s substantial enough to be a main course.

Pork-and-Bean-Soup-The-Extruded-Noodle-030aWe had a wonderful lunch and there was plenty left over for several more meals.

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The soup was even better (and thicker) the next day.  After refrigerating overnight, there was no fat to be skimmed from the top.  We enjoyed it throughout the week, a cup with dinner, a bowl for lunch.  Thanks for stopping by today.  If you too are a soup lover, check out some of my other soup recipes here.

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Posted in Comfort Food, Dash Diet Friendly, From Scratch, Soup | 1 Comment

Flourless Dark Chocolate Torte with Chocolate Ganash

Oh my!  Just look at this beautiful heart shaped chocolate torte.  It is a decadent dessert, worthy of a 5-star restaurant.  I still can’t believe I made it at home.  Because I have the “best husband ever” I wanted to do something special for Valentine’s Day this year.  I even bought special heart shaped pans.  It was worth the effort.  Mr. Extruded Noodle thinks I am amazing.

Valentines-Day-The-Extruded-Noodle-015a You may be surprised to know that this cake contains only a scant 2 tsp. of flour.  And a ganash is not that difficult to make.  I know, I was surprised too!

I wanted a petite sized cake, something for the 2 of us to enjoy.  The 6 inch heart pans were perfect!   The set actually contains 5 pans.  This recipe has just enough batter to fill 3 of the pans.

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 8.5 oz. good quality dark (bittersweet) chocolate, divided
  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds, ground fine in a food processor
  • 1-1/2 tsp. flour
  • 2-1/4 tsp. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup half and half or cream
  • 2 tsp. rum
  • cooking spray

Preparation:

Melt 4 oz. dark chocolate with 6 tbsp. butter in a double boiler, whisking until smooth.  Set aside to cool before adding to the egg mixture (so the eggs don’t cook).  Beat together the eggs, sugars and extract.  With the mixer running, gradually add the melted chocolate, ground almonds, flour and cocoa and beat until well combined.  Pour into 3 pans that have been misted with cooking spray.  I set my pans on a baking sheet to make it easier to transfer them to the oven.

Flourless-Dark-Chocolate-Torte-The-Extruded-Noodle-004a Bake 15-17 minutes.  Cool in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer the layers to a rack.

Flourless-Dark-Chocolate-Torte-The-Extruded-Noodle-006a When the layers have cooled to room temperature, make the ganache.  Place 4-1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (break into small pieces) in a medium bowl with the rum.  Heat the half and half (or cream) in a small sauce pan, stirring frequently.  As soon as it comes to a boil, pour over the chocolate and whisk whisk whisk until it is perfectly smooth.

Flourless-Dark-Chocolate-Torte-The-Extruded-Noodle-007a Allow the ganash to cool 5 minutes.  Now arrange the first layer of the torte on a serving dish.  Pour a little of the ganache in the center, and spread it outward to the edges with a spatula.  Top with the next layer of torte and do the same.

Flourless-Dark-Chocolate-Torte-The-Extruded-Noodle-008a Now place the top layer and pour the rest of the ganache over it, letting it drizzle evenly over the sides.  Let it set for 2 hours at room temperature.

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Friends, this cake was sinfully rich!  Look at it!  We had a thin slice each and it was so delicious and filling.  I was so pleased with how this came out, I think it is going to become a Valentine’s Day tradition at our house.

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American Chop Suey

Today we had our first real blizzard of the season.  We were very lucky not to have lost power and it was fun to spend a cozy day at home.  Tonight we are eating out of the pantry and I’ll bet you have all of the ingredients for this meal on hand too.  This is an easy recipe and a family favorite.  Here’s what you need.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. ground beef or veal
  • 1/4 lb. sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1-1/2 tsp. basil
  • 6 oz. whole wheat elbow
  • grated cheese
  • fresh basil

Preparation:

Heat a large heavy skillet or Dutch oven over medium low.  Add olive oil, sausage and ground beef (or veal).  Break up the meat with a spatula, turning to brown all sides, about 5 minutes.  Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and cook 5 minutes longer.  Add the tomatoes, garlic, ground pepper, garlic pepper, dried basil and oregano.  Simmer 30 minutes, stirring frequently.  For a nice thick sauce, I covered my skillet with a splatter screen to allow some of the liquid to evaporate.

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Cook the elbows according to package directions.  Drain and add to the skillet, tossing well.  Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve with grated cheese.  Yes, I know it’s winter but I do have a basil plant growing on my window sill!

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Days like today call for comfort food.  I made a side of garlic bread to go with the meal and it was just enough.  Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed our easy skillet dinner.

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Posted in Comfort Food, Healthy Italian Favorites, Italian Sunday Dinner, Pasta, Skillet Dinners, Under an hour, Whole Grains | Leave a comment

No Knead Bread

No Knead Bread.  What is all the fuss about this technique?  Can you really make a good loaf of bread without kneading the dough?  You know we love our bread at The Extruded Noodle, and I will not settle anything less than GREAT results.  So, this weekend I decided to put this popular method to the test.  If you don’t own a stand mixer but want to bake bread at home then this is something you must try!

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A full 24 hours from start to first bite, the process is mostly hands off so you can time it around your schedule.  Along with each step I have included the time, so you can envision how you might fit this into your weekend.

I used a sourdough and freshly milled whole grain flour in this recipe, a combination of white wheat, spelt, Khorasian wheat and barley.  Substitutions are provided if you want to try baking with store bought flour and commercial yeast.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup white wheat berries, milled
  • 1/3 cup hulled barley, milled
  • 1/3 cup spelt berries, milled
  • 1/3 cup Khorasian wheat berries, milled

OR —> substitute 2 cups purchased whole grain flour

  • 1 cup white bread flour
  • 1/2 cup fully active sourdough starter
  • 1/8 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. diastatic malt powder
  • 1 cup warm water + up to additional 1/2 cup as needed
  • extra flour for dusting and shaping
  • cornmeal for dusting

OR —> omit the sourdough and increase instant yeast to 1/2 tsp.

Preparation:

Saturday, 6:00 PM  Whisk together the flours, yeast, salt, and diastatic malt powder.  Whisk together the starter and 1 cup of the warm water.  In a large bowl, stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture.  Add additional water, up to 1/2 cup more as needed to form a wet sticky dough.

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Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel, then leave at room temperature for 18 hours.  The surface will be bubbly.

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Sunday, 12:00 PM  Flour a cutting board or work surface.  Turn out the dough and perform a stretch and fold using a dough scraper to help fold the dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and rest for 15 minutes.

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Sunday 12:15 PM  Heavily flour a cotton dish towel, then sprinkle with cornmeal.  Use a tightly woven dishtowel, not terry cloth (you don’t want fabric lint in the dough).  Turn the dough out onto the dish towel.

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Fold over the floured dishtowel, place in a large bowl and let it rise for 2 hours.

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Sunday 2:15 PM  Preheat the oven to 450º for one half hour before baking.  Place the Dutch oven uncovered in the oven while it preheats.

Sunday 2:45 PM Carefully remove the Dutch oven.  Sprinkle cornmeal on the bottom and immediately turn the dough into the pot, cover and return to the oven.  Bake for 30 minutes.

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Sunday 3:15 PM  Remove the cover and bake for 15 minutes more.

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Sunday 3:30 PM Remove from oven and turn the loaf onto a rack.  Cool completely before slicing.

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Sunday 6:30 PM The Verdict is in.  Our loaf has a crispy crust and open, spongy crumb.  It had a strong sourdough flavor from the long rise time.  I made a dipping oil with extra virgin olive oil infused with fresh garlic and rosemary.  It was divine!  We toasted it up for breakfast and the crust was fantastic.

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One drawback, there were a few streaks of dry flour in the center of the loaf.  Next time I will do several additional stretch and folds to encourage the flour to distribute and hydrate evenly.

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I think it’s a do over!  What are your thoughts?  Give it a try and I welcome your comments.

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Posted in Bread, From Scratch, Sourdough, Whole Grains | 2 Comments

Crock-Pot Beef Stew with Homemade Egg Noodles

What could be more comforting than Beef Stew simmering all day in the crock-pot?  How about serving it over Homemade Egg Noodles?  Look at them!  Yes, they are from scratch and they are delicious.  I used my KitchenAid® pasta roller and cutter attachments to make the egg noodles.  Use any pasta roller or rolling pin and a sharp knife!

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Ingredients:

  • 100 g. semolina flour
  • 100 g. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 100 g. 00 flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 8-12 tbsp. ice water
  • 2 lb. chuck roast, cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 tbsp. onion dip mix, divided
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 bag (~15) cipollini onions, peeled and halved
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1-1/4 cups Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1-1/4 cups Homemade Beef Broth
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. Wondra flour
  • salt and pepper

Preparation:

To make the noodles, combine the first 5 ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  Add the ice water, 1 tbsp. at a time until you have a dry crumbly dough.  It should hold together when you give it a squeeze.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest 15 minutes at room temperature, then divide into 4 pieces.

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Cover your work surface with floured sheets of waxed paper.  Working with one section of dough at a time, roll the dough out into long thin sheets.  I used my KitchenAid® pasta roller attachment and rolled the dough to thickness #4.  Then I used the fettuccine cutter to cut the sheets into ribbons.

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Once the ribbons were cut, I used a bench knife to divide them into 4″ egg noodles.  I then dusted lightly with flour and separated them a little so that the noodles didn’t all clump together.

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Follow food safety guidelines, refrigerate fresh pasta within one hour.

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To make the stew, cut the chuck roast into 1-1/2″ chunks.  Toss with flour and onion soup mix.

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Brown the meat in olive oil.  Cook in batches if needed, so that the meat isn’t crowded in the pan.  I divided mine into 3 batches using 1 tbsp. olive oil per batch to get a good browning.  Season with salt and pepper and transfer to the crock-pot.

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Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup of red wine.  Scrape the bottom of the pan to release all the browned bits.

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Pour the deglazing liquid over the meat.

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Soak the cipollini in cold water for 15 minutes, this will make them easier to peel.

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Peel the cipollini and slice them in half lengthwise.  Brown them in 1 tbsp. olive oil for 2-3 minutes then add them to the crock-pot.

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Add the beef broth, cream of mushroom soup and garlic.  Stir well, cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  During the last half hour of cooking, saute the mushrooms in butter then sprinkle with Wondra flour to thicken.  Season with salt and pepper.

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Stir the mushrooms into the beef stew and keep warm until ready to serve.

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.  Cook the noodles for 3 minutes.  Don’t overcook!

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Drain and transfer to a large serving platter.

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Spoon the beef stew over the noodles and garnish with fresh parsley.

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Friends, what a meal this was!  So rich and hearty, perfect for a cold winter night.  Of course we had homemade bread to go with it.  Pour yourself a glass of red wine if you indulge.   I hope you enjoyed reading about our crock-pot dinner and will be inspired to try making your own egg noodles!

 

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Posted in Comfort Food, Crockpot, fresh pasta, handmade pasta, Pasta, Stew | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Dutch Oven Country Style Ribs

When country style ribs are on sale you can be sure that Mr. Extruded Noodle will be coming home with a big family pack!  So what to do when winter is here and the grill is covered with snow?  Make these mouth watering Country Style Ribs in a Dutch oven.  A long slow cook time on low heat yields moist, falling off the bone tender meat.

Dinner for 2.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 large bone in country style pork ribs
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • cooking spray

Preparation:

Whisk together the seasoning ingredients and rub all over the ribs.  Mist the Dutch oven with cooking spray and add all of the diced onion.  Place the ribs over the bed of onion.  Do not add any liquid.  Cover and bake for 1-1/2 hours at 250º (yes, that’s 250º, not a typo).

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You can see how the onion and juices from the meat have created their own liquid.  As the liquid evaporates it will condense on the cover of the pan and drip back down to baste the meat.  Brush with BBQ sauce, cover and return to the oven for an additional 30 minutes.

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When the ribs are done, meat will easily pull away from the bone.  It will be moist and tender.

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Plate each rib and spoon some of the onions over the top with their juice.  Serve with more BBQ sauce.

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Even in winter you can still enjoy a great BBQ dinner.  Bring it indoors and enjoy Dutch Oven Country Style Ribs no matter what the weather.

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Breakfast Muffins with Dried Fruit

Over the holidays we were gifted a beautiful dried fruit tray (thanks Uncle Dan and Shirley!).  Since then I have been on a muffin kick, trying out different fruit and grain combinations.  Here are 2 of my favorites so far.  Dried fruits can be a little tricky to work with, as they absorb moisture from the batter and you can end up with muffins that are on the dry side.  Prevent this by adding the dried fruit to the wet ingredients first, and letting it soak for 10-15 minutes before folding in the flour mixture.  First up is a banana muffin with dried fig and apricot.  In the second recipe I use dried apple and dates.

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Recipe#1  Banana Muffins with Dried Fig and Apricot

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole grain flour, milled from white wheat, millet and sorghum
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of cardamom
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. white sugar
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup dried apricot, fig and prune

Preparation:

In this first recipe the addition of ripe banana was just the thing to produce a moist, mildly sweet muffin.  I used a blend of white wheat, millet, sorghum and all purpose flour.  1 cup whole grain blend + 1/2 cup all purpose flour.  For the dried fruit I used apricot, fig and prune.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the eggs and honey.  Switch to the paddle attachment and beat the egg mixture with the ripe banana.  Stir in the oil, vanilla extract and milk.  Use an electric chopper to mince the dried fruit and add it to the egg mixture.  Let it soak for 10-15 minutes.

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Preheat the oven to 400º and mist a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray.  Whisk together the dry ingredients, spices and sugars.  Gently fold together the wet and dry ingredients, just until moistened.

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Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full.  Bake 15 minutes.

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Recipe #2  Muffins with Dried Apple and Date

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. white sugar
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup low fat ricotta (or sour cream, or yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup dried apples and dates

Preparation:

For the second recipe I used a blend of whole wheat pastry flour and all purpose flour.  For the dried fruit, I used apple and date.  Follow the same steps as above.  Combine the wet ingredients, add the dried fruit and allow it to soak for 10-15 minutes.  Fold in the dry ingredients, just until moistened.  Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full and bake 15 minutes at 400º.

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Serve warm with fresh fruit for an easy breakfast.  Pack them for lunch, or enjoy with your afternoon coffee.

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The muffins freeze well, so you can make a big batch and defrost them during the week for breakfast and snacks.  They won’t last long!

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Posted in 30 Minutes or Less, Baking, Breakfast | 1 Comment

Shrimp with Wild Rice

Shrimp, sprinkled with Old Bay® seasoning and quickly sauteed in butter is served over a bed of wild rice.  There is no reason you cannot have a healthy home cooked meal during the week.  It doesn’t get any easier than this!  Dinner for 2.

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz. large raw shrimp
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • Old Bay® seasoning
  • 1/3 cup long grain and wild rice mix
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp. butter

Preparation:

I usually buy raw, frozen shrimp.  It’s more economical and I can defrost just the amount that I need for dinner.  Measure a little extra to allow for thawing and peeling.  Place the shrimp in a colander and rinse under cold water.  Peel off the shell, leaving the tails on.  Run a sharp knife down the back of the shrimp and remove the black vein (yes, I know it’s not a vein #keepitclassy).  Rinse well, drain and sprinkle the shrimp with Old Bay.

Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a sauce pan with a tight fitting lid.  Add the rice, and stir for 1-2 minutes to toast.  Add the broth, salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and simmer on low, for the time indicated in the package directions.

When the rice is ready, melt 2-tbsp. of butter in a nonstick skillet.  Add the shrimp and cook 2 minutes, turning frequently.  Sprinkle more Old Bay.  Shrimp is done as soon as it turns pink.  Spread the rice in a layer on a serving dish and spoon the shrimp over the rice.

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Turkey Meatballs

Foodie friends, when you feel like having a little “Thanksgiving Lite” try these Turkey Meatballs.  The flavors of sage, thyme, onion and celery mirror the big Thanksgiving dinner in a fraction of the time.  A little ricotta in the mix keeps the meatballs nice and moist!  You are going to love this easy entree!  Complete the meal with a side of stuffing and drizzle of turkey gravy.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup low fat ricotta
  • 1/2 stalk celery, fine minced
  • 1/4 cup onion, fine minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1-1/2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs, divided

Preparation:

Use an electric chopper to finely mince the onion and celery.  Combine all of the ingredients through poultry seasoning in a bowl and mix thoroughly (use your hands).  Add the breadcrumbs a little at a time, using just enough to bring it all together.  I used about 1 cup.  Line a baking sheet with foil and mist with cooking spray.  Spread 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs in a bowl or plate.  Form 1 dozen meatballs, roll each meatball in the breadcrumbs and arrange on the baking sheet at least 2″ apart.  Broil 5 minutes on high, turn and broil another 5 minutes.

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With dinner on the table in under a half hour, you will want to add this to your weeknight rotation.  Everyone will love it!

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Posted in 30 Minutes or Less, Comfort Food, Holiday Favorites | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

There are so many good cooks in our Extruded Noodle family.  Credit for this recipe goes to my cousin Donna, who made this delicious soup for our Christmas dinner. ♥  Sweet and savory come together in a smooth puree of butternut squash and pear, with just the right balance of onion and garlic.  A drizzle of half & half, stirred in at the end is the perfect finish.  Start the New Year with a comforting bowl of soup that is good for you!

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Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chicken brothbutternut-squash-and-pear-soup-the-extruded-noodle-017a
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 4 cups)
  • 2 pears, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup half & half

Preparation:

In a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil and butter.  Add the remaining ingredients through Worcestershire sauce, and simmer until soft.  Remove from heat, puree and stir in the half & half.  Serve with a garnish of fresh sage.

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Special thanks to my cousin Donna for this recipe 
Posted in #dashdiet, Comfort Food, Dash Diet Friendly, Eat your Vegetables, Soup, Under an hour | Tagged | 1 Comment

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Biscotti are at the top of my list of treats to bake for Christmas visits and gifting.  Everyone loves this traditional Italian cookie, even Santa!  There are so many variations of biscotti but this one is my favorite.  Each year my Chocolate Almond Biscotti get rave reviews from family, friends and co-workers.  You will be surprised at how easy they are to make, learn how here!

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp. rum extract
  • 1/4 tsp. orange extract
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds
  • ¾ cup dark chocolate chips

Preparation:

Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes at 350º.  Set them aside to cool then coarsely chop them, just a few pulses to break them up a bit.

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Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and dry spices.  Cream together the butter and sugar, then add the eggs and the extracts.  Beat well then incorporate the flour mixture just until moistened.  Last add the nuts.

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Preheat the oven to 325°.  Divide the dough into 2 pieces, and roll each into a log.   Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the logs about 2″ apart.  Pat and press each log to about 1/2″ high and 4″ wide.  An easy way to do this is to cover the logs with another sheet of parchment and use a small rolling pin.

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Bake for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before slicing.  Use a serrated knife or a bench knife to slice the biscotti about 1″ thick.  If you like a softer cookie, stop here.

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For a crisper cookie return the slices to the baking sheet cut side up, and bake for an additional 5 minutes.  For extra hard cookies (great for dunking), turn and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.

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Arrange the biscotti on a cooling rack over a sheet of wax paper to keep the counter clean.  Let them cool completely before frosting.

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Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave.

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Now for the finishing touch.  Use a 1/2 teaspoon to drizzle the chocolate over each cookie.

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Let the biscotti stand at room temperature until the chocolate is completely set, then arrange on a platter.

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Now that you know how easy it is to prepare this holiday treat, start your own Christmas tradition and bake up a batch for gifting your family and friends.

 Merry Christmas

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Soft Sourdough Loaf

Look at that gorgeous loaf, all tricked out in sunflower and sesame seeds!  Every loaf I bake is a little different, but when something this good comes out of the oven I want to be able to recreate it again and again.  So with that in mind, I always keep a notebook in the kitchen to jot down my ingredients and preparation.  I’m glad I did!

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The ingredients are similar to my other artisan loaves, but this a softer bread with a delicate crust.  I have made it a few times now and it has quickly become a family favorite.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup red wheat berries
  • 1/3 cup white wheat berries
  • 1/3 cup spelt berries
  • 1/3 cup Kamut (Khorasian wheat) berries
  • 1-1/4 cups + a little more of bread flour
  • 3/4 cups fully active sourdough starter
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. diastatic malt powder
  • 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • a little less than 1-1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • sunflower seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • tbsp. whole milk

Preparation:

I milled 1-1/3 cups of grain to yield 1-3/4 cups of whole grain flour.  You can substitute 1-3/4 cups purchased whole grain or multi grain flour.  Together with the bread flour there is just a bit over 3 cups total.  Whisk together the whole grain flour, bread flour, salt, diastatic malt powder and instant yeast.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sourdough and honey.  With the dough hook attachment, gradually add the flour and water on low speed, alternating flour and water until it is all incorporated.  Increase the speed to #3 and knead for 5 minutes.

The dough is soft and supple, but should completely pull away from the sides of the bowl.

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Use a dough scraper to transfer the dough to an oiled bowl.  Turn the dough to coat.

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Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel and set it in a warm spot to rise for 3 hours.

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Perform a stretch and fold, and shape the dough into a long rectangular loaf.

I used a perforated loaf pan because it was the shape I wanted.  Often I sprinkle the pan with cornmeal to crisp up the bottom of the loaf but I omit that here.  Instead I lined the pan with parchment paper.  Don’t oil the parchment.

Cover the shaped loaf with plastic wrap for a 2nd rise, about 45 minutes.

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Preheat the oven to 425º.  Set up a jelly roll pan on the bottom shelf and fill with 1/2″ of water to create steam.  Set the top shelf several inches above.

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Brush the risen loaf with milk and sprinkle with sunflower and sesame seeds.  Just before placing in the oven, use a sharp knife to score the loaf down the center, about 1-1/2″ deep.

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Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Your nose will tell you when it’s done!  Let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes then turn it out onto a rack.  Try to wait several hours before slicing, if you can resist!

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Look at the beautiful open crumb!  I served ours with dipping oil at dinner and we toasted it for breakfast the next day.

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I know this bread will be a regular at our Sunday dinner table!  I hope you have enjoyed Today’s Bake.  Your comments are welcomed!

 

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Posted in Baking, Bread, From Scratch, Sourdough, Today's Bake, Whole Grains | Leave a comment

Chicken Fried Rice

The next time you are craving Chinese food, try this delicious homemade version of everyone’s favorite, Fried Rice!  I had leftover chicken in the fridge but you can use pork, beef or shrimp.  For best results, cook the rice in advance and keep it refrigerated until ready to prepare the dish.  4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup uncooked long grain brown rice
  • 2 tsp. butter
  • salt
  • 2-1/4 cups water
  • 3 cups leftover cooked chicken, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup pancetta cut into small dice
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 small carrot, shredded
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 tbsp. mirin
  • 4 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup scallions, sliced thin
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Preparation:

Use brown rice for a healthy whole grain option.  Simmer the rice 45 minutes in 2-1/4 cups water, pat of butter and pinch of salt.  Cook the rice at least several hours ahead of time and refrigerate until cold.

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Whisk the egg with one tbsp. water.  Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a large skillet and pour in the egg.  As it cooks, turn and cut into small pieces with a spatula.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

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Render the pancetta, then add the onions.  Cook in the rendered fat, about 5 minutes.  Add the shredded carrot, garlic and ginger and stir fry 2 minutes more.

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Add the cooked chicken with 1 tbsp. each of sesame oil and mirin.

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Add the rice and peas, 1 tbsp. sesame oil and 2 tbsp. soy sauce.  Spread the mixture out in the skillet and stir fry several minutes longer.  Add back the egg and toss until combined and warmed through.

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Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.  Stir in 2 more tbsp. soy sauce.  Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.

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This was a fun dinner, a little different from my usual!  My family gave it 2 thumbs up.

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Posted in Asian Inspired, Chicken, Comfort Food, Skillet Dinners, Stir Fry | Leave a comment