Month: December 2006

Savory Chestnut Turkey Stuffing

Picture of ChestnutsWhere I grew up we had a couple chestnuts trees in our yard. You have to have at least 2 chestnut trees if you want to get chestnuts because the trees are self sterile. Our two trees were fantastic and and we always got lots of nuts from them. We ate the chestnuts in the typical methods of roasted and steamed, but my favorite way to eat chestnuts is in stuffing for turkey and chicken.

About Chestnuts
If you don’t have your own chestnut trees to gather the nuts from (before the squirrels do), then bare in mind that they are only briefly available in the grocery store from about Mid-October until just around Christmas. The chestnuts themselves are enclosed in a thin brown case with a furry inner lining. The nut of the chestnut is a soft, moist and woody tasting meat. They don’t keep well out of the shell, and should be kept in a moist part of your refrigerator until ready to use to keep them both from spoiling and drying out. If you gather fresh chestnuts, then you should wash the nuts, then treat them for worm eggs by placing them in a pot of water at 105° F for 10 minutes.

Homemade Chestnut Turkey Stuffing

Picture of Chestnut StuffingEach year at Thanksgiving and Christmas we make our favorite Chestnut Stuffing for Turkey. We prefer to make this stuffing in a pan or casserole dish outside the bird but you could stuff the bird if you like.

Ingredients in Chestnut Turkey Stuffing

  • 12 ounce bag unseasoned bread cubes for stuffing (one 1/2 24 ounce loaf of stale bread cut into cubes)
  • 1 pound mild pork sausage
  • 12 chestnuts
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup celery pieces
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp Poultry Seasoning

To make Chestnut Turkey Stuffing

  1. Make an x in the tops of the chestnuts, and bake in an oven at 350° F for 15 minutes. Then remove from oven, let cook, peel the chestnuts, and chop finely.
  2. Melt butter in a 3 quart non-stick saucepan.
  3. Add onion, celery, sausage and cook until sausage has cooked through ans is lightly browned, about 10 – 12 minutes.
  4. Place bread cubes in a large bowl. Mix in the chopped chestnuts, onion, celery and sausage. Sprinkle with poultry seasoning and mix well.
  5. Add milk, a little at a time, mixing with additions, until bread cubes are moist.
  6. Put the stuffing in a non-stick pan or casserole.
  7. Bake in a 350° F. oven covered for 1/2 hour. Remove cover and cook another 8 – 10 minutes until lightly browned on top.

Cajun Pork Chops with a Pasta Salad

Cajun Pork Chops RecipeWant something that’s quick to make on a weeknight, and yet has great flavor and nutrition; then try this recipe for Cajun Seasoned Pork Chops. In only takes about 20 minutes to cook the chops, and meanwhile you’re making the pasta salad, which is a jiffy when made with Salad Supreme®.

Recipe for Cajun Seasoned Pork Chops
This recipe is so easy, I’m not sure if it really should be called a recipe!

  • 1 – 2 Center Cut Pork Chops [per serving], all visible fat removed
  • Cajun Seasoning
  1. Place 1 tbsp of olive or canola oil in a non-stick skillet, and heat over medium heat for 1 minute.
  2. Reduce heat to low. Add the pork chops, and sprinkle with Cajun Seasoning.
  3. Cover pan, and cook 8 – 10 minutes, depending on thickness of the chops, until lightly browned. Thin chops made need less time. Turn, season other side with Cajun Seasoning and cook other side about 5 – 7 minutes.
  4. Serve with Pasta Salad (recipe below).

Pasta Salad with Salad Supreme
Pasta Salad with Garden Vegetables

  • 1/2 pound spaghetti noodles
  • 1 tbsp McCormick Salad Supreme
  • 1/2 cup Italian Salad Dressing
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Sliced baby carrots
  • Sliced bell pepper
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Mix 1/2 cup Italian Salad Dressing with the Salad Supreme.
  3. When pasta is cooked to your desired liking, cool it under cold running water and place in a serving bowl large enough for the pasta, and vegetables.
  4. Add the vegetables to the pasta and mix.
  5. Pour the Salad Supreme/Italian Dressing seasoning over top of the pasta and toss gently to season pasta and vegetables.
  6. Sprinkle each serving with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Salad Supreme® is a registered trademark of McCormick & Co Inc, Hunt Valley, Md 21031

Sweet Texas Ruby Red Grapefruit for Breakfast

Serving of Sliced GrapefruitThere is something to be said about enjoying fresh citrus fruit on a cold winter’s morning. When I look outside, and see the bare trees and the leaves all over the ground, the tropical grapefruit sections on the kitchen table brings thoughts of warm summer days, and bring flowers. We slice our grapefruit in half cutting across the fruit perpendicular to the stem end. Then we use a sharp paring knife to cut the grapefruit sections along each side of the membrane the separates the sections. Next, we use the same paring knife to free the sections by cutting the grapefruit along the rind. To serve, place the grapefruit sections in a cereal bowl, sprinkle the tops of the fruit with a little sugar or non-sugar sweetener, and serve with a small spoon. Use the spoon to dig out the grapefruit sections. When all of the sections have been eaten, grab the grapefruit in one hand, and squeeze the remaining juice out, catching in on the spoon. Repeat until no more grapefruit juice can be squeezed out.

Cutting Grapefruit Sections1. Cut Grapefruit along each side of membrane.
Cutting Grapefruit Along Rind2. Then cut along each section along rind and sprinkle with sugar.
Closeup of juice left in grapefruit3. After eating the sections there will be lots of juice left over. Simply squeeze the grapefruit in half, and catch the juice on a spoon to enjoy.

Home Cooked Chicken Meatballs with Kluski Noodles

Chicken Meatballs with Kluski NoodlesIf you’ve never read the nutrition label on most pre-made store bought meatballs, you might be surprised at the fat content. Many times the daily value for fat is at 25% or higher, and that’s only for a few meatballs (the nutritional values are listed for an arbitrary serving which isn’t a portion). So because of that high fat content in the prepared meatballs, we always make our own using lean ground beef, ground turkey breast or ground chicken. It’s really not that hard to make meat balls, and all most all are made with 4 key ingredients: meat, bread crumbs, egg, and seasoning. The short story is you toss everything into a large bowl, mix well with your hands and then form the meat balls into Picture of Kluski style egg noodlesballs with the palms of your hands. Place the formed meatball on a piece of wax paper and if making lots of meatballs, separate the layers with additional wax paper sheets.

Last Sunday night we felt like making a meal with kluski style egg noodles. While kluski egg noodles are more often used with soups, they are hearty enough to use in a chicken pasta dish. To the right is a picture of kluski noodles along with a quarter so the size can be judged. Kluski noodles are about 1/4 – 3/8″ wide, 2 1/2 to 3″ long, and are a little bit thicker then regular egg noodles.

Recipe for Chicken Meatballs with White Cheese Sauce and Kluski Noodles

To Prepare Chicken Meatballs

  1. Prepare a place to put the formed meatballs by placing a piece of wax paper on a plate.
  2. In a small cereal bowl beat and mix well:
    1 1/2 tsp Poultry Seasoning
    1 egg
    2 tbsp milk
  3. In a large bowl add:
    1 pound ground chicken
    1/3 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
    Seasoned egg mixture
  4. Mix well with hands for a minute or so, and then form into 1 to 1 1/4″ balls with the palms. Place on plate covered with wax paper. Repeat until all of the meatball mixture is used up.
  5. Place the meatballs in a lightly greased large non-stick skillet, cover, and cook on low heat, turning every 2 to 3 minutes to cook through, and brown on all sides.
  6. Total cooking time will be about 10 – 15 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, make the White Cheese Sauce and Kluski Noodles.

Kluski Noodles

  1. Cook 1/4 pound of Kluski Noodles according to package directions. Ours cooked for about 10 minutes.

White Cheese Sauce

  1. Add 1 cup milk and 2 tbsp white flour, and 1/2 tsp Poultry Seasoning to a 1 quart non-stick pan.
  2. Place over low heat, and stir constantly until the milk thickens, about 8 – 10 minutes.
  3. When sauce is thick, add 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.

To serve, place a layer of cooked kluski noodles in a small bowl, top with 6 chicken meatballs, cover with some Cheese White Sauce, and Sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese.

Chicken Meatball Sandwich Recipe
Chicken Meatball SandwichAs an alternative for serving this recipe over kluski noodles, you could instead make a Chicken Meatball Sandwich. Make the meatballs and Cheese White Sauce as described above. Spread the Cheese White Sauce on a kaiser roll, cut meat balls in half, and place on roll, and finely sprinkle with finely sliced lettuce.

Looking For An Easy Dinner? Try Open Faced Beef Sandwiches

Open Faced Beef Sandwich On those busy weeknights or weekends for that matter, it’s nice to have a standby recipe that’s quick and easy to make. This recipe for Open Faced Beef Sandwiches is exactly one of those. Our sandwiches were served with Homemade Garlic Mashed Potatoes and they took 1/2 hour to make — but you could easily replace the mashed potatoes with instant mashed potatoes, potato salad, or macaroni salad to save that effort. Of course, this is only a quick meal if you have the ingredients on hand but it’s a great recipe to have to plan for those busy days ahead.
Here’s what you need to make Open Faced Beef Sandwiches

For each sandwich you will need:

  • 2 slices bread (we prefer whole wheat but any bread will do)
  • 3 slices of luncheon beef (you could use shaved beef as well)
  • 1/4 cup prepared McCormick Brown Gravy Mix
  1. Toast the bread to your liking. We like our toast dark but not burnt for these sandwiches so that the bread doesn’t get soggy from the gravy.
  2. Warm the beef in microwave, quickly in a frying pan, or if you are making lots of gravy, in the gravy.
  3. Place toast on plate. Top with Beef, and then cover with gravy.

Tip: Make extra brown gravy if you are serving the Open Faced Beef Sandwiches with mashed potatoes as we have in the picture. McCormick Brown Gravy is essentially fat free and has a nice flavor to use liberally on these sandwiches.

A Different Omelet for Breakfast

Looking for a change of pace in your breakfast meal? Serving of Inverted OmeletThe typical breakfast omelet is made by pouring scrambled eggs into a hot frying pan, cooking the egg until firm, and then adding filling ingredients such as ham, cheese, tomatoes, green pepper and even blanched fresh asparagus. We regularly make omelets this way and have a post in our blog about the exact steps needed to make a good omelet.  We’re always seeking change and variety in our meals, so todays post is about making an omelet in a different way.

By adding the ham or pepper into the eggs when the eggs are first added to the frying pan, you’ll end up with an omelet with the filler ingredients imbedded into the eggs.  If you like, you can think of this method of making an omelet as an inverted omelet. It’s basically taking the same ingredients that you’d add to the omelet after the eggs were firm and mixing them into the eggs.  The only exception is cheese which we sprinkle on top of the omelet just before removing the omelet from the pan.

To make this type of omelet, first chop up what ever you want to add to the omelet.  We like ham, green pepper, red pepper, tomatoes, asparagus, and carrots. Start with a 10″ non-stick skillet that has been lightly greased with olive or canola oil.  Heat the pan to medium heat. Scramble 3 eggs, and pour the eggs into the pan. Immediately add the ham or other items you like to the eggs, distributing them evenly.Making ham and cheese omelet

 Lower heat to medium low, and cover the pan.  The eggs will cook through faster with the cover.  Take a peek into the pan after 2 minutes to see how the omelet is progressing.  You may need to lower or raise the amount of heat.  When the eggs are done, they’ll be rising from the bottom of the pan.

When the eggs are cooked through, then it’s time to add cheese.  We use shredded Cheddar Cheese often, either white or orange. Other cheeses we’ve used include Mozzerella and Blue Cheese.  Whatever cheese you choose, it should be grated and spread evenly over top of the omelet. For the 10″ skillet we use, 1/2 cup of shredded cheese is plenty.  Once the cheese is on top of the eggs, replace the cover and without the heat of the stove let the cheese melt, about 1 minute.

Cooked OmeletThe picture to the right here is of the finished omelet before adding the cheese as  discussed above. If you look closely, you’ll see how the ham is in the cooked egg mixture which is different from the standard omelet.  This is a great way to serve the same omelet, and yet have it be different.

Here’s a list of foods we use to fill omelets:

  • Mushrooms
  • Tomatoes
  • Ham
  • Sausage
  • Cheese
  • Green Bell Pepper
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Cubanelle Pepper
  • Asparagus
  • Carrot Slices
  • Onion
  • Salsa
  • Potatoes

Poached Eggs on Toast with Ham Recipe

Poached Eggs with Ham Recipe It is said that variety is the spice of life and variety is something we actively seek in our breakfast meals. Yesterday, we made poached eggs with ham on whole wheat toast topped with white cheddar cheese. This was a nice change of pace for us and we can’t remember the last time we made poached eggs.

For those that are not familiar with poached eggs, they are simply eggs that are cracked open into a frying pan filled about 1″ deep with boiling water. The eggs are cooked in the boiling water until the desired doneness is reached. Some like the yolks runny, and other like their poached eggs with a firm yolk. The poached eggs end up with an egg white with a consistency like you find with hard boiled eggs.

One of the common recipes using poached eggs is Eggs Benedict, which is very simliar with our recipe we will describe here with the exception that Eggs Benedict is served with Hollandaise Sauce. Hollandaise Sauce is a very rich and fat filled sauce made with egg yolks and butter so it’s not something we cook with. The eggs themselves already are loaded with fat so it’s our opinion that there is no reason to add insult to injury and add tons of fat to an egg dish.

When cooking poached eggs, you can speed up the cooking time by covering the pan. But watch the pan closely because as the water boils and mixes with the egg whites it can easily boil over. If you’re standing nearby when that happens, you can prevent a mess by simply lifting the lid from the pan and the boil over will stop immediately. You don’t have to cook the eggs covered and can gently turn the eggs over once in the pan to allow the top to cook through. One last tip for cooking poached eggs is it’s helpful to have a slotted spoon to lift the cooked poached eggs from the water and allow the eggs to drain before serving. Lifting Poached Eggs from PanThere will be some thin egg white surrounding the poached eggs when they’re removed from the pan and these should be discarded.

Poached Eggs with Ham on Whole Wheat Toast Recipe
For each serving you’ll need:
2 eggs
1 slice of luncheon ham
1 slice toasted whole wheat bread
shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Begin to make poached eggs by filling a 10 inch skillet with 1 inch water, cover and bring to a boil.
  2. Break up to 4 eggs into this pan of water. Cook eggs in the boiling water to your desired yolk doneness. Turn the eggs once; or cook covered and watch pan carefully for boil over.
  3. Meanwhile toast whole wheat bread; heat ham in microwave or in another skillet.
  4. Butter toast very lightly, place toast on plate, top with a slice of ham.
  5. Remove poached eggs from boiling water with a slotted spoon, drain and place 2 eggs on top of each slice of bread.
  6. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. If desired, microwave poached eggs for 20 seconds to melt cheese

Hawaiian Boneless Pork Ribs for a Cold Winters Dinner

Hawaiian Ribs with RiceEnjoying a delicious Hawaiian flavored pork ribs recipe on a cold winters night congers memories of warm tropical nights in the islands. Flavored with pineapple, ginger and garlic, these ribs are very tasty and it is a simple recipe for a weeknight as long as the ribs are thawed.

Start with:
2 pounds of boneless pork country ribs

Chop the ribs into 3 to 4 inch long chunks. Place a large 10 quart sized non-stick pan on the stove, and season with 2 tbsp canola or olive oil. Heat the pan for a minute, and then add the pork ribs. Cook over medium until the ribs are browned, stirring often to brown all sides.

Add 1 cup fresh chopped onion, and 1 tsp chopped garlic

Cook for 3 – 4 minutes until the onion is tender but not browned.

1 20 ounce can pineapple chunks
1 cup black vinegar
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp ground ginger

Mix well, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Check the pot every 10 – 15 minutes and add water to the liquid should it get too thick.

Mix 1 tbsp corn starch with 1/2 cup water using a fork to blend well. Add to pan of ribs, stir in and cook, stirring often until sauce thickens.

Serve with Seasoned Rice and your favorite vegetable.

Seasoned Rice Recipe
2 cups water
1 cup basmati rice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp sesame seed
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp molasses

Heat water to a boil in a 2 quart sauce pan. Add rice, and all seasonings. Return to boil, cover tightly, reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 10 – 12 minutes until water is absorbed. Remove from heat, and let sit covered for 5 minutes. Mix to fluff the rice, and serve.

Stove Top Barbecued Boneless Pork Ribs

Picture of Barbecued Boneless Spare Ribs For some reason when December comes around our thoughts turn to cooking slow cooked foods for dinner. Some of our favorite slow cooked foods are beef stew, beef vegetable soup, chicken soup, and chuck roast and we make those all of the time.  We wanted to make something different, and there were some very nice boneless pork ribs at the grocery store this week. We bought the boneless pork ribs with the idea of grinding up the pork to make pork meatballs. Since the grocer is too often tempted to get some value from the waste fat and toss extra fat into the grinder, we try to grind our own meat, as we are sure to leave out as much fat as possible. As it turns out, when we got home the ribs were just too nice to be turned into meatballs and we decided to make Country Boneless Pork Ribs with them instead.

Stove Top Country Barbecued Pork Ribs are a simple and easy slow cooked meal. You’ll need a large stockpot or dutch oven with a cover to cook these ribs in. While we made the pork ribs on the stove top this recipe can easily be adapted to the oven by replacing the stove top simmering and cooking the pork ribs at 315° F. for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

  • 1 pound boneless pork ribs
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/2 tsp McCormick Pepper Supreme
  • 1/4 tsp Tabasco Sauce
  1. Cut 1 pound of boneless pork ribs into about 3 inch long pieces.
  2. Place 1 tbsp canola oil in a large pot or dutch oven and heat.
  3. Add the boneless pork ribs to the pot, and cook until browned on all sides.
  4. Add the diced onion and chopped garlic, and cook, stirring about 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Add tomatoes, liquid smoke, Worcestershire Sauce, Tabasco Sauce, molasses and Pepper Supreme. Stir well, and bring to a simmer.
  6. Cover and simmer for 1 hour, checking every 15 minutes to make sure the sauce isn’t too thick.  Add water if needed.  Oven Method: Bake covered in a slow oven (315° F.) for 1 1/2 to 2 hours instead of cooking on stove top.

Serve Country Barbecued Boneless Ribs with your favorite vegetable.

 Note this recipe calls for using McCormick Pepper Supreme.  Pepper Supreme is a wonderful blend of 7 peppers and is a delightful mix to add taste to meals.  If you don’t have Pepper Supreme on hand, subsititute 1/4 tsp black pepper, and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper in it’s place.

Greek Seasoned Scrambled Eggs and Tomatos

Greek Seasoned Scrambled EggsWe are always trying to add variety to our breakfast meals. So this recipe ranks high among our favorite new breakfast dishes. This last weekend we thought we would experiment with McCormick Greek Seasoning with our breakfast. What we came up with was a Mediterranean Tomato and Scrambled Egg dish that was wonderful.

In a 10 inch non-stick skillet, add a 1 tbsp olive oil, and heat. Then add 3/4 cup of fresh chopped tomatoes (or a 3/4 cup of canned diced tomatoes). Add 1 tsp McCormick Greek Seasoning, sprinkling widely over the tomatoes. Add 1/2 tsp chopped garlic. Cook the tomatoes and seasonings for about 10 – 15 minutes over a low heat until most of the water in the tomatoes has evaporated. Chop 1/2 cup ham, and add to skillet. In a medium bowl, scramble 4 or 5 eggs, and add to the skillet. Cook, stirring carefully to mix eggs with tomatoes and ham until eggs are cooked through. Serve with fresh toasted and buttered rolls.