Thursday, February 26, 2015

Long Grain & Wild Rice with Cranberries & Pecans

Have you tried any items off of Applebee's new Pub Diet?  Seriously, you should at least try the Cedar Grilled Lemon Chicken, Granny Smith Apple Relish, Lemon Olive Oil Vinaigrette, Quinoa Cranberry Pecan Rice Blend.  Yes that was a mouthful--a mouthful of deliciousness! That rice was to die for.  I could not even concentrate on the dinner conversation.  I am attempting to replicate that recipe right here.  My recipe is good, but it is not the real deal.  Plus, I didn't use quinoa.  Not sure what kind Applebee's had in their rice. I will try this recipe again, after I have done some more field studies, i.e., gone back to Applebee's for more. Also, while putting this recipe together I found a quick way to toast pecans.  Yummy.  Future post. Stay-tuned.

1 pkg. Long Grain & Wild Rice Blend (I thought the wild rice was a nice addition)
Dried cranberries
Pecans, toasted (you can leave them halved or chop coarsely)
Olive oil
Cranberry Juice Cocktail (little tip from the waiter)

1.  Cook the rice according to package directions and taste preferences.  I used my rice cooker for this because at the end of steaming, I added about 1/4 cup of cranberry juice cocktail and let it steam a bit more.  The waiter told me about that little step when I was raving about the rice.

2.  Add in desired amount of dried cranberries, and the toasted pecans.  Fluff the rice and evenly distribute the other ingredients.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Baked Spinach-Artichoke Dip

This may not look like much, but it is so yummy. It's from a Betty Crocker quick and easy cookbook that I have. I have been making it for years and it is always a hit. 

1 C. mayonnaise
1 C. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
1 package (10 oz.) spinach
1/2 C. chopped red bell pepper
1/4 C. shredded mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese
 Toasted baguette slices or assorted crackers (I slice my baguette in half lengthwise, spread with a bit of butter and toast in the oven til just golden on the edges. then I cut it into triangles or simple slices.)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. 

Cook spinach by microwaving in a microwave safe bowl with a touch of water until fully wilted, or by steaming in a pot until wilted. Let cool slightly, then squeeze to drain and roughly chop. 

Meanwhile, combine, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, artichokes, bell peppers in a bowl. Add the chopped spinach. Mix til fully combined.

Place mixture into a baking dish (I use my deep pie dish) and sprinkle with the mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese. 

Cover and bake about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve warm with baguette slices or crackers.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Toasting Pecans in the Microwave

Yes, I toasted my pecans in the dang microwave.  Does that sound like cheating?  Perhaps, but if time is an issue, this is a great alternative to the standard oven procedure.  Here it is, in a nutshell.  

4 cups pecans, shelled
1/4 cup butter
sea salt

1.  Place the pecans in a microwave-proof pie plate.  Add the butter, then salt to taste.
2.  Microwave on high for 3 minutes, then stir to distribute the butter.
3.  Microwave on high for another 3 minutes.  You can certainly check on the pecans and make sure they are not getting too done.
4.  Taste immediately, or wait until they have cooled a little.  These suckers are yum!
5.  Coarsely chop or not.  Add to whatever recipe needs them.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Mushroom Marsala Risotto

I found this recipe a couple years ago. It takes some time (like most Risottos) and is a labor of love, but it is so very very worth it! It is absolutely delicious. It is one of my favorite things to eat. I normally double the recipe too.

Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side dish.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 cup Arborio rice
1 cup Marsala wine, divided
3-4 cups low-sodium broth (chicken or vegetable)
2 cups cremini or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano (I used a lovely grana padano cheese)
2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced (additional whole leaves for garnish, if desired)
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large heavy-bottomed skillet or saute pan over medium heat until foaming subsides.

Add shallots and saute until soft, 2-3 minutes.

Add garlic, tomato paste, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and stir to combine. Cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a separate medium saucepan until simmering.
Add the Arborio rice to the skillet and toast until opaque around the edges, 3-5 minutes.

Add 3/4 cup of the Marsala wine and cook, stirring often, until absorbed, approximately 5 minutes.
Stir in 1 cup of the broth, and stir occasionally until almost absorbed, 8-12 minutes.

Working 1 ladle of broth at at time, continue to add broth, stirring constantly.  Add the next ladle when the broth is almost completely absorbed.
After you have been cooking the risotto for 10 minutes, stir in the mushrooms.  Continue to cook risotto, stirring constantly, until it is al dente, a total of 20-25 minutes.
Remove from heat, and stir in remaining 1/4 cup of Marsala wine, Parmigiano-Reggiano (or Grana Padano) cheese, basil, and remaining 1 tablespoon butter.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste, if necessary.

Garnish with basil leaves.  Serve immediately.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Mom's Beef Stew

I love simple, tasty food.  Especially when it's comfort food.  And this Beef Stew hits all those attributes for me.  I just love it.

2 pounds stew beef
2 Tbsp. bacon grease (or shortening)
1 large onion (sliced)
1 tsp. minced garlic (from the jar)
1 quart hot water
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 bay leaf

6 small potatoes, cut in chunks
6 small onions, cut in chunks
3 carrots cut into 1" pieces
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cold water

1.  In large pot, heat bacon grease over medium-high heat.  Brown stew beef.
2.  Add remaining ingredients up to and including the bay leaf.  Bring to a boil; then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
3.  Add veggies.  Cover and simmer 1 hour.
4.  Remove and discard bay leaf.  Combine flour and water in a small bowl to form a paste.  Stir this into the stew.  Cover and cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly.

Makes 2 1/2 quarts of stew.


  • Though I always use the same type of ingredients, their form varies from time to time for me.  This time I didn't have any fresh onions so I used my freeze-dried Thrive onions.  
  • To make this GLUTEN FREE, use an alternative flour like I did this time.  I used Krusteaz Gluten Free flour.
Source:  my mom