Thursday, September 20, 2012

Italian Sausage with Glazed Onions and Peppers

I know, I know...fats and preservatives - those things we should all watch out for and avoid. Sometimes, though the flavors of the ingredients in a food like Italian sausage just call out to me.

While sausage of any kind is not something served in our home very often, I don't worry too much about including it on our menu once or twice a year. The seasonings in Italian sausage remind me so much of my mother's cooking and my father's Italian heritage. It is a delicious and comforting food for me.

Italian Sausage with Glazed Onions and Peppers was prepared quickly and complimented with a side dish of fresh fruit. Avoided were those caloric layers of cheese and bread - no sense compounding the effects of the sausage. I will say, I enjoyed every tasty bite!
 
 
Italian Sausage with Glazed Onions and Peppers
 
 


1 package mild Italian sausage (turkey or chicken sausage may be substituted)
Sweet onion (like Vidalia), sliced lengthwise
Green bell pepper, sliced
Prepared Italian tomato sauce (with artichoke - optional)
Red wine
Olive oil
1 T butter

Prepare sausage: add 1/2 inch of water to a skillet and arrange sausage links in the water. Cover skillet and bring to a simmer. Turn heat down to med-low and cook sausage for 15 minutes. Uncover and turn heat up to medium. Allow the water to boil off. Watch carefully! When water has disappeared, add 1-2 T olive oil to pan and push links around to coat the undersides. Brown sausage evenly on both sides. Remove links to a warm plate.

Add 1-2 T olive oil to pan and toss in pepper and onion slices. Saute them evenly and when they are almost tender crisp add 1 T butter. Continue cooking for 1 more minute and remove to a plate.

Turn heat to med-low and add 1/4 C wine to pan and using a spoon, stir to release any browned bits of sausage and vegetables into the wine. Add desired amount of Italian tomato sauce and blend evenly. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Plate sauce, sausage and vegetables. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cat Portraits

As some of you know, I not only love to cook and invent new flavor combinations, I also love to spend time creating artwork in colored pencil (CP) and pen and ink.

At this time, I am fine-tuning my cat portrait skills and will happily make a portrait of your favorite cat's picture for a very nominal charge.

Original cat portrait using owner's High Resolution color photo -
7x10 with a single mat -  $125 plus shipping/handling.

Print - color copy of original portrait using owner's High Resolution color photo -
7x10, unmatted - $25 plus shipping/handling.

Send inquires to : dianesdianes@hotmail.com and include 'cat portrait' in subject line.

Example of my work:

 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

2-14 Harbor Chicken Salad with Pecans - Gluten-free

I sat and looked at the lunch menu.It was filled with cleverly named pasta dishes, layered sandwiches with specialty breads and battered and breaded meat and fish.  What I wanted was a modestly-priced, gluten-free meal. The gluten-free aspect eliminated most of the menu and I moved on to the salads. They all came with a side of bread, but I hoped the salad I selected would be generously proportioned and enough to fill me up.



My friends and I talked about our lives until the waitress arrived with a very heavy tray of food. My choice of salad was meal-sized, but it lacked the mouth-watering appeal of lasagna or a Ruben sandwich. Still, because of digestive issues, gluten-free was what I had to have.



Half-heartedly, I tasted what I thought would be the usual flavors of restaurant-style, chicken salad.


Wow, was I wrong! My salad was heavenly and I fairly inhaled the whole plateful of food; it was out-of-this-world delicious!



My Harbor Chicken Salad with Pecans recipe is a close duplicate of the memorable luncheon salad. Happy eating!


Harbor Chicken Salad with Pecans

 



1 can chicken, white meat
1-2 ribs celery, finely chopped
2-3 T dried cranberries (raisins may be substituted)
2-3 T toasted, chopped pecans (may be toasted in the microwave)
Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise
1-2 T carrot slivers

Juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
1 can mandarin oranges (Clementines may be substituted)
Candied-cinnamon pecans (purchased or recipe below)
Baby lettuce salad blend
Apple, thinly sliced

Fruit-based dressing (optional) - cherry/poppyseed pictured.

Drain chicken and shred meat to a fine consistency. Add finely-chopped celery, lemon juice and dried cranberries; blend with enough mayonnaise to make a creamy mixture that holds together. Gently fold in carrot slivers. Taste and adjust. (This mixture may be made ahead and refrigerated at this point).

Add chopped, toasted pecans and mix gently. Arrange salad greens on a serving plate and place a dollop or two of chicken mixture on top. Garnish side of plate with mandarin oranges and apple slices. Sprinkle top of chicken salad mixture with sweetened pecans just prior to serving. Serve dressing on the side if desired






Candied Pecans

 


¼ C pecans
2 T sugar
2 T water


Combine water and sugar in a small sauce pan over medium high heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add pecans and stir to coat; sprinkle with cinnamon to taste. When sugar mixture comes to a boil, turn down heat to low and simmer 6-7 minutes until the pecans are evenly coated. (There should be no  syrup in the bottom of the pot and pecans will look dry).




 

Remove coated pecans to cool in a single layer on a piece of parchment or wax paper.





Sunday, August 12, 2012

2-13 Stir-Fry Rice, Deluxe


Everyone buys food. The big question is, will we buy it prepared, partially prepared or fresh and waiting to be prepared?
Other options include all that stuff crammed into the freezer…which probably includes frozen left-overs or something we bought for the sole purpose of giving a cooking break to the household chef.
One of the prepared meals I have enjoyed is a frozen, fried rice entrĂ©e sold at Sam’s Club. This satisfying mixture pours out of a bag and stir-fries in minutes. The only down side to this meal is that it is not inexpensive.
Today’s recipe replicates that comfort-food meal with a substantially lower cost, more wonderful ingredients and better flavors. If more rice is added, Stir-fry Rice, Deluxe, can be stretched to feed several hungry people very economically. Another plus to this recipe is that it freezes well and can be made ahead, packaged by portion and saved for the next too-tired-to-cook day!


Stir-fry Rice, Deluxe
Gluten-free Meal





3 cups prepared rice (white or brown)
½ C chopped, smoked ham
2 T bacon bits

½ C braised chicken, chopped
1 egg
2 T (each), chopped vegetables: sweet onion, carrot, zucchini, celery.

Optional vegetables: chopped green pepper, chopped red pepper, peas, soy beans, chopped water chestnuts, thinly sliced mushrooms.

Soy sauce (optional – gluten free)
Salt (Himalayan pink, optional)
Pepper blend (Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
Olive oil, olive oil spray

Heat a heavy pan to med.; coat pan bottom with olive oil spray and scramble egg, breaking cooked egg into small pieces; remove to heated plate. Turn up heat to med-high. Add olive oil to coat pan bottom. Add chopped vegetables, season with pepper blend and stir until tender crisp; remove to a warm plate. Coat the pan bottom with more olive oil and add cooked rice. Stir rice to quickly heat through and brown slightly. Add soy sauce to taste and continue stirring until well blended. Add cooked ham, cooked chicken and bacon bits. Heat through. Add egg  pieces and vegetables back to rice mixture in pan and gently toss to blend and heat evenly.
Remove pan from heat and taste. Add Himalayan salt to taste and bled gently. Serve immediately. Serves 4

(From the frozen: pour the desired amount of mixture onto a heated, griddle which has been coated with olive oil spray. Stir until heated through. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve).


Saturday, February 18, 2012

2-12 Flaxseed Muffin for ONE (V, G)


My parents expected me to eat the food they provided. Even if I did not like the food, I had to sit at the table until I finally gave in and choked down every morsel.

The items I disliked the most were carrots, peas, creamed corn, whole wheat bread, eggplant and Brussels sprouts.  With time, I grew to enjoy most of these foods except for the creamed corn! Ugh.

 These days, I am very conscious the effects certain foods have on my body and my overall health and I enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables at every meal. I have also discovered flax!

Flaxseed is a food that I had never thought about to until it was brought to the forefront as a health food. If a person eats flaxseed meal they can expect to reap the benefits of lowering their cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.  Rich in lignans and Omega-3, flax even protects women from breast cancer.
By itself, flaxseed lacks the, 'wow', taste-factor, but combined with other foods it is quite edible! Ground flaxseed can be sprinkled on salads, soups and other dishes. It can be added to smoothies and combined with other flours in baked goods. It can also be the  main ingredient as in the muffin recipe below.

Flaxseed muffins are easy to make and my recipe serves ONE person. How easy is that! All of the ingredients are mixed in the baking container. The baking time only takes one minute and the end product  releases from the container withoutany added fats. The flavored olive oil is a wonderful addtion. If that oil is not available in your area, add grated orange peel or orange flavoring.



Flaxseed Muffin for One



1 egg
¼ C ground golden flaxseed (brown flaxseed meal may be substituted)
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sweetener
1 tsp margarine, butter or Blood-orange flavored olive oil
1 T mini chocolate chips (optional)
1 T chopped pecans (optional)
Few dried cranberries or cherries (optional)

Add all ingredients to a mug or small ceramic 1-serving soup cup. Mix until well blended. Microwave on HIGH for one minute. Remove and transfer to a plate. May be sliced and eaten with butter, cream cheese or fruit.


Monday, January 2, 2012

2-11 Crab Pizza - So Easy

When I was growing up, I remember that my mother had one basic cookbook. That well worn book was like a kitchen Bible. Its cover bulged with recipes that Mother had clipped or torn out of newspapers and magazines and a few scraps of paper contained handwritten recipes for dishes she had made up or remembered from her childhood.


During a multi-state move, when I was in high school, the book was lost. I did not realize how important that loss would be to me, until years later when I wanted to replicate my mother’s cheesecake, her light fruit cake, her unforgettable barbecue sauce and other amazing dishes and flavors. Mother did not remember the ingredients and I have failed to come close to what she had been able to accomplish. From time to time, I long for those flavors and I sometimes wonder where that book ended up and if someone still has those precious recipes.

A word to the wise…if you find or create a good recipe that others will enjoy, be sure to share it with your friends and family…you may just need them to give it back to you someday!


My daughter recently reminded me of a recipe that I had given to her many years ago. I forgotten all about it and I actually could not find the recipe when I searched for it in my extensive collection. Lucky for me, my daughter passed it on back to me and I was able to recreate Crab Pizza  for a party my husband and I were attending that same night!

Crab pizza is an easy recipe to make, it is also tasty and very pretty. Party on!




Crab Pizza






2-8oz pkgs of cream cheese, softened
1 T milk
2 tsp Worcestershire
1 ½ tsp minced dry onion
¾ C cocktail sauce, (make your own)
1-6oz can crab, drained and shredded (imitation crab may be substituted)
1 ½ T parsley, chopped (cilantro may be substituted)



Beat together the first four ingredients until well blended. Spread on a plate or pizza tray and form a raised edge around the border. Carefully spread cocktail sauce on top of the cream cheese up to the edge. Scatter the shredded crab pieces attractively on top of the sauce and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with wheat crackers. (Imitation crab was used in the pictured dish and recipe was halved).

Cocktail sauce: Mix ketchup with desired amount of horseradish; blend well and refrigerate until needed.