Mix and Match Skillet Meal
1 cup grain, uncooked
1 ½ cups vegetables, fresh, canned or frozen, ~cut bite-sized~
1 cup protein, cut bite-sized
2 cups sauce, stirred
½ tsp. spices
3 Tablespoons topping
To make in a skillet: Combine all ingredients except topping in a large skillet. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until grains are tender, about 15 to 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and add liquid if too dry. Add topping before serving. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.
To bake in oven: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients except topping in a casserole dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until grains are tender, about 50 to 60 minutes. Add topping before serving. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.
Grain – try bulgur, pasta, quinoa or rice
Vegetables – try a mixture of corn, carrots, green beans, onions, mushrooms, peppers or zucchini
Protein – try cooked cubed or ground beef, pork, chicken or turkey, canned tuna or salmon, tofu or beans
Sauce – try one can (10.75 ounces) condensed cream soup such as chicken, potato or tomato soup plus 1 1/4 cups water or low-fat milk
Spices – try basil, oregano, parsley, chili powder, garlic, onion powder or ground ginger
Topping – try grated cheese or crushed whole grain cereal or crackers
One Pot Lemony Chicken Sausage and Artichoke Orzo
As long as you can remember a simple formula, the possibilities for one-pot orzo dinners are endless. Cook one pound dry orzo pasta with four cups of water in a skillet or Dutch oven with your favorite combination of vegetable or protein mix-ins. The rice-shaped orzo pasta cooks quickly, making this the perfect solution for busy weeknights. Stir the pot frequently to keep the orzo from sticking to the bottom of the pan and to thicken the sauce with the pastaâ€™s starches
12 ounces cooked Italian chicken sausage
1/2 small red onion
1 large lemon
4 cups water
1 pound dried orzo pasta
1 (12-ounce) jar marinated, quartered artichoke hearts
1 T. olive oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Cut 12 ounces chicken sausage into 1/2-inch thick rounds and thinly slice 1/2 small red onion. Place both in a 3 1/2-quart straight-sided skillet or Dutch oven. Finely grate the zest of 1 large lemon (reserve the zested lemon) into the skillet. Add 4 cups water, 1 pound dried orzo, 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts and its liquid, 1 T. olive oil, 2 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, stirring frequently so the orzo doesnâ€™t stick, until the orzo is al dente and the liquid has nearly evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. Halve the lemon and squeeze the juice into the skillet. Gently stir before serving.
Cranberries have a special place in my heart.Â The best place that I lived while growing up was perched on the edge of a cranberry bog in a tiny town in northwest Washington, near the coast.Â (My love of blueberries started back then too, with several bushes in the back yard).Â It wasn’t that we ate them; I don’t think we considered them food at my tender age, hah! but on the bog was a magical place to grow up.
In a smoothie: Freeze a bag of fresh cranberries, then whirl some with frozen blueberries, vanilla-flavored yogurt, orange juice, and a little honey.
In pancakes or muffins: Substitute 3/4 C. fresh cranberries and 1/2 C. chopped dotes for each C. blueberries in your favorite pancake or muffin recipe.
In a granita: Simmer 2 C. water, I C. fresh cranberries, 3/4 C. sugar, and 1 tsp. grated orange peel until cranberries pop. Puree in a blender, strain, and freeze until firm, then scrape with a fork to create fluffy crystals.
In dressing for roast poultry: Add a handful of fresh cranberries, some chopped apples, toasted pecans, sage, and a little maple syrup to a bread stuffing mix.
In chutney: Cook fresh cranberries with some golden raisins, brown sugar, a little cider vinegar, minced ginger, star anise, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, and pepper for about 5 minutes.
Cranberry Ice: Place cranberries into the bottom on a bundt (or other decorative) pan, add water and freeze. A decorative floating ring to spice up a holiday punch.
Cranberries are too tart for most people to want to eat them out of hand, but you can sweeten them and use them along with other fruits in a fruit salad or toss a handful into a lightly sweetened smoothie. Chop cranberries and toss with sugar, then allow to macerate briefly if you would prefer a sweeter taste. Try stirring sweetened raw cranberries into yogurt for a healthy breakfast or even tossing a few on top of your morning oatmeal.
Holiday Cocktails:Â Bourbon & Cranberries, Cranberry Champagne Cocktail
Their tart freshness is good for cutting through rich savory dishes as well, like pork chops or sausage meatballs.
Uses for Spaghetti Sauce
For a quick sausage or steak sandwich, pan-fry your favorite sausages or thin-sliced top round sandwich steaks in a skillet. Remove the meat, then sautÃ© sliced onions and peppers in the pan. Add your favorite spaghetti sauce and return the meat to the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes then serve on steak rolls.
To mix up a quick marinade for Southwestern-style chicken, combine 1 C. marinara sauce and 1 tsp. pure chile powder such as ancho chile powder.
Or use a blended seasoning such as chili powder. Use to marinate 1 pound chicken parts in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 hours.
For a speedy pizza, spread 3/4 C. spaghetti sauce over a prepared pizza crust (such as Boboli). Or for individual pizzas, use four pita bread rounds. Add 1 C. shredded mozzarella and 1/4 C. grated Parmesan if you like. Add any number of other toppings from anchovies to zucchini. Bake at 450Â°F until the cheese melts and is lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
To keep beef burritos moist and flavorful, brown 1 pound ground beef along with 1 chopped onion, 1 seeded and chopped red bell pepper, and a few chopped garlic cloves. Stir in 1 C. marinara sauce, 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. dried oregano, 1/2 tsp. ground cumin, and 1/2 tsp. chili powder. Simmer on low for 15 minutes and serve with tortillas, shredded cheese, and salsa.
If you need an instant simmering liquid for clams or mussels, use jarred spaghetti sauce. Doctor up the sauce with saffron, white wine, fresh garlic, and/or chopped fresh herbs.
For a one-dish chicken meal, cook seasoned chicken parts in olive oil in a deep skillet until browned all over. Remove to a plate and keep warm, then add onions and bell peppers to the skillet and sautÃ© until tender. Add mushrooms, thyme, red-pepper flakes, and fennel seeds and cook until the mushrooms begin to give up their liquid, about 5 minutes. Pour in jarred spaghetti sauce and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan, cover, and simmer until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a fork. Serve over noodles.
To get a jump-start on the sauce for braised meats, use spaghetti sauce as the base. Most sauces include the same ingredients you would be braising with anyway, such as onions, garlic, and tomatoes.
To make gazpacho when you don’t have fresh tomatoes, use spaghetti sauce. Combine the sauce in a food processor along with fresh orange juice, cucumber, bell peppers, scallions, cilantro, and a little hot-pepper sauce. Pulse until the vegetables are just chopped. Thin with a little cold water, if necessary, then refrigerate the soup for 3 hours and serve chilled.
Uses for Soy Sauce
To give steamed rice a savory flavor, add 1 tsp. soy sauce to the cooking water.
For a delicious glaze on roasted pearl onions, mix together equal parts soy sauce and molasses and toss with the onions before roasting.
To make a quick Polynesian sauce, stir together 1/3 C. soy sauce, 1/2 C. pineapple juice, 1 can (5 oz.) crushed pineapple, and 1/2 tsp. hot-pepper sauce. Add to cooked vegetables or meat as a stir-fry sauce or serve over roasted pork, chicken, or fish.
For an Asian-style glaze, mix together 1/4 C. soy sauce or teriyaki sauce, 6 oz. Dr. Pepper, 1 tsp. hot-pepper sauce, 1/2 tsp. ground cloves, and 1/2 tsp. ground ginger. Boil over high heat until reduced in volume by about half and thickened to a syrup, about 10 minutes. Brush over baked ham during the last 20 minutes of cooking.
Grilled: Mix asparagus with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, then grill until tender and starting to brown (a grill basket is helpful), 3 to 4 minutes.
In salads: Slice tips and tender stalks very thinly on the diagonal and add, row, to tossed salads.
Steamed: Cook asparagus in a basket or bamboo steamer over boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes. Drizzle with a vinaigrette of lemon juice, olive oil, and chopped fresh mint for an easy side dish.
In a gratin: Lay asparagus stalks in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and top with grated parmesan cheese. Bake in a 400[degrees] oven until asparagus is tender and cheese is melted and browning, about 10 minutes. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Stir-fried: Cut asparagus into bite-size lengths and stir over high heat in a little hot chile oil with minced garlic and ginger until tender-crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Splash on a touch of rice wine or dry sherry at the end.
For a creamy marinade for chicken or fish, use evaporated milk. The milk subtly flavors the food without breaking down its delicate fibers. It is especially good paired with spicy sauces or seasonings.
To doctor up gravy for leftover turkey sandwiches, combine 1 can (5 oz.) evaporated milk, 1 can (15 oz.) turkey gravy, and 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Arrange the turkey over toast and pour the gravy over the top.
For quick-and-easy pumpkin pie filling, mix evaporated milk with canned pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs, and pumpkin pie spice.
For a healthy alternative to whipped cream, chill a can of evaporated milk, then whip just like heavy whipping cream. Use to top your favorite desserts.
To make creamy sauces and soups with less fat, use evaporated milk instead of cream.
Enrich the texture with a tsp. or two of sour cream after removing the sauce or soup from the heat. This trick is especially good with cheese soups.
To stir up a quick pasta sauce, mix together evaporated milk, cream cheese, and blue cheese.
To make richer-tasting mashed potatoes, replace 1/2 C. the regular milk with evaporated milk.
For better-tasting meat loaf, soak 2 bread slices in 1 can (5 oz.) evaporated milk until saturated. Break up the bread and use in place of breadcrumbs in your favorite recipe.
For a healthy alternative to sour cream, mix together 1 C. fat-free evaporated milk and 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice.
To give sherbets and ice creams a smooth, rich texture, use evaporated milk in place of the cream.
For rich-tasting gratins and quiches without excess fat, use evaporated milk instead of cream or whole milk.
To give meat loaf a whole new taste, replace the tomato sauce or ketchup in your favorite recipe with bottled barbecue sauce. The smoky taste of the barbecue sauce will add a new dimension of flavor to your old recipe.
For a smoky hamburger spread, stir together 1 T. barbecue sauce and 2 T. mayonnaise. Use on hamburgers or in salads.
To mix up a quick steaming liquid for clams, put 3 dozen scrubbed littleneck clams on a very large sheet of heavy-duty foil and drizzle with 1/2 C. spicy barbecue sauce and the juice of 1 lemon. Fold the foil over the clams, leaving ample space for the clams to open, and crimp the edges to seal. Bake at 375Â°F or put the foil bag on the grill and cook until the liquid in the foil is bubbling and the clams open, 10 to 12 minutes. Slit open the foil and serve the clams with the sauce. Discard any unopened clams.
For moist and marvelous hamburgers, mix 1/4 C. barbecue sauce into 1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground beef. Shape into 4 patties and grill, broil, or pan-fry over medium heat. Cooked to about 160Â°F on an instant-read thermometer and the meat is no longer pink, about 4 to 6 minutes per side, basting the burgers with additional barbecue sauce as they cook.
To make delicious baked turkey tenderloins, split 2 turkey tenderloins lengthwise in half and remove the vein. Place the tenderloins in a foil-lined baking dish. Mix together 1/2 C. barbecue sauce, 1/4 C. finely chopped onion, 1/2 tsp. dry mustard, and 1/4 tsp. chipotle chile powder. Spoon or brush over the turkey until completely covered. Bake at 350Â°F until a thermometer inserted into the center of the thickest portion registers 165Â°F and the juices run clear, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
For hot roast beef sandwiches with just the right flavor, bring 1/4 C. bottled barbecue sauce to a simmer in a saucepan. Add 1/4 pound sliced deli roast beef and heat through for 5 minutes. Put on a roll with some prepared horseradish.
- Sprinkle M&M Candies over the top of the brownie mix in the pan before baking. At different times try the plain M&M’s and the Peanut M&M’s. You will end up with some great flavors.
- Spread Milk Chocolate , White Chocolate , or Peanut Butter Chips over the top of the brownies as soon as they come out of the oven. They will melt over the top of the brownies and you will have a unique brownie. I have taken it a step further some times and mixed all three flavors of chips together and spread them over the top of a just baked pan of brownies. Remember they get spread over your brownies as soon as they come out of the oven.
- Add 1 T. of Vanilla Extract to the Brownie Mix when you mix up the brownies. Be sure to use real vanilla extract not the imitation stuff.
- Bake the brownies for 10 minutes less than the time on the box. They should still be fudgy in the center when you remove them from the oven. Spread the top of the cooled pan of brownies with a C. of sweet chocolate chips or butterscotch chips that you have melted on the stove.
- Buy 4-6 large peppermint patties and chop them up and add them to the brownie mix before you mix it up and bake it.
- Stir a handful of chopped up mounds bars into the brownie mix as you are mixing it up.
- Add 1 T. of powdered instant coffee and a pinch of cinnamon to the mix as you are mixing it up.
- Top a pan of baked brownies with caramel topping , sweetened flaked coconut and chopped sweetened pecans.
- Swirl softened cream cheese into the batter just before baking the brownies, For a unique twist try using orange or strawberry cream cheese.
- Stir sliced almonds , chopped dried cherries and a dash of almond extract into the brownies before baking.
- Make triple chocolate brownies by mixing white , milk and semi sweet chocolate chips into the batter before baking.
- Add chopped macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips to the batter and drop it by the spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet for wonderful brownie cookies. Bake until crisp at the edges but soft in the centers about 8-10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.
- Fold a C. of mashed banana into the brownie mix before baking.
Swab hot baked brownies with Kahlua when they come out of the oven. Just brush it on.
- For a nostalgic version mix a handful of chopped walnuts and a 1/2 C. of chocolate chips into the brownie batter.
It’s How You Slice a Brownie That Counts
Who says a brownie has to be square. Add some pizazz.
Bake brownies 20-25 minutes and bake them in a pie pan instead of a square pan. Cut them out in wedges instead of squares.
Use a smaller deeper pan for thicker brownies. They’ll bake in about 40 minutes and then cut them out extra-large or smaller for tea parties.
Cut brownies into rounds with a biscuit cutter and sandwich two together with your favorite jam. Dust the top with powdered confectionersâ€™ sugar.
Dust brownie triangles, squares, or rectangles with confectionersâ€™ sugar to jazz them up.
Crumble up brownies and serve them over ice cream.
To balance the flavor of tomato sauce, stir in 1/4 C. grape jelly for every 4 C. homemade sauce. The sweetness of the jelly helps to balance the acidity of less-than-perfect tomatoes.
To make muffins with a surprise inside, spoon 2 tsp. muffin batter into each muffin cup. Make an indentation in the muffin batter with the back of a spoon and ladle in 1 tsp. jam, marmalade, or preserves. Spoon the remaining batter over the jam in each muffin C.. Bake as directed in the recipe.
To make overnight stuffed French toast, cut 1 loaf Italian bread crosswise into 8 to 10 slices that are each about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut a slit through the top crust of each slice to form a deep pocket. In a medium bowl, mix together 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, 2 tsp. confectionersâ€™ sugar, and 1/2 tsp. almond extract. Spread the cream cheese mixture equally inside the bread pockets, then spread 1/2 to 3/4 C. strawberry, raspberry or cherry preserves equally inside the pockets, opposite the cream cheese. Lay the stuffed bread in a single layer in a shallow 4-quart baking dish (roughly 15 x 10 inches). In a medium bowl, combine 5 eggs, 1 1/2 C. light cream or half-and-half, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 tsp. confectionersâ€™ sugar, and a pinch of salt. Pour evenly over the bread, tilting the pan and swirling the egg mixture to completely saturate the bread. Cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, bring the bread to room temperature, then cook in unsalted butter or oil on a griddle until golden brown on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Serve with maple syrup.
To make a quick glaze for baked or grilled chicken, mix together cherry preserves and fresh orange juice. Brush onto the chicken before baking or during the last 5 minutes of grilling to create a glaze.
For a quick carrot slaw with a twist, combine 3 C. pre-shredded carrots, 1/2 chopped red onion, 1/4 C. golden raisins, 1 tsp. orange marmalade, 1/4 C. olive oil, 3 tsp. capers, 3 tsp. red-wine vinegar, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper.
For sweet and savory slow-cooked brisket, put a 3-pound brisket in a slow cooker, in one or two pieces. In a medium bowl, combine 1 C. ketchup, 1/4 C. grape jam, 1 envelope onion soup mix, and 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Add the mixture to the slow cooker, making sure the meat is well-coated. Cover and cook on low until the meat is tender, 8 to 10 hours.
To thicken a vinaigrette, whisk in a few tsp. orange marmalade, apricot jam, or raspberry preserves.
For a quick filling for thumbprint cookies or nut rolls, mix together raspberry jam and almond extract.
To pull together a fresh strawberry dessert sauce, melt 2 tsp. strawberry preserves over medium heat. Add 2 tsp. brandy, a pinch of salt, and 1 pint sliced strawberries. Cook until the berries begin to fall apart. Cool, then serve the sauce over cake or ice cream.
For an easy cherry marinade for grilled chicken, combine:
1/4 C. cherry preserves
2 tsp. olive oil
6 oz. black cherry soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Add to the mixture 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs and marinate in the refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours. Grill or broil the chicken, then bring the marinade to a boil in a saucepan. Add another 6 oz. black cherry soda, a drained can of dark sweet Bing cherries, and boil for 5 minutes. Dissolve 1 tsp. cornstarch in 1 tsp. cold water and stir into the marinade until thickened. Serve with the chicken. Some grated orange zest makes a nice touch.
For a wonderful sauce for salmon or chicken, mix 1 part blueberry or raspberry jam into 2 parts barbecue sauce. Spoon a layer of the sauce over the salmon or chicken and broil until finished. Spoon a little more sauce over the salmon or chicken before serving.
For a simply outstanding glaze for roasted or grilled leg of lamb, use red currant jelly mixed with fresh orange juice.
To stir up a quick glaze for barbecued ribs, combine 2/3 C. apricot preserves, 2 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil, and 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper in a saucepan. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes, then brush onto the barbecued ribs during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
For an easy apple glaze for pork, combine 1/4 C. apple jelly, 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp. ground allspice. Place 1 pork tenderloin in a small roasting pan and brush with half of the apple-jelly mixture. Roast in a 375Â°F oven until the center registers 155Â°F on an instant-read thermometer and the juices run clear, about 25 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, on a broiler pan, arrange 2 cored and thinly sliced red apples and brush with the remaining apple-jelly mixture. Broil 5 inches from the heat until the apple slices are tender, about 5 minutes. Serve with the sliced tenderloin.
To make an easy orange sauce for fruit desserts or cheesecake, boil 3 C. fresh orange juice until reduced to 1 1/2 C., then stir in 1/2 C. orange marmalade and 1/4 C. firmly packed brown sugar. Thicken with a mixture of 1 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice.
To make upside-down muffins, spoon 1 1/2 tsp. your favorite jam or preserves into the bottom of each greased muffin C. in the pan. Top with your favorite muffin batter and bake as directed in the recipe. Run a knife around the sides and invert the muffins onto a rack to cool.
To make a glaze for Brie cheese, stir together 1/2 C. strawberry or cherry preserves, 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest, and 1/4 tsp. almond extract. Spread over the wheel of Brie and bake at 350Â°F until the cheese just begins to melt, 12 to 15 minutes.
For a jump-start on cold strawberry soup, combine strawberry preserves and buttermilk as the base.
For a dessert of strawberries with warm rhubarb sauce, cook 1 pound frozen, cut-up rhubarb and 1/2 C. sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until the rhubarb is softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 C. strawberry preserves. Serve warm over 1 1/2 pints sliced strawberries. Garnish with sour cream or whipped cream, if you like.
To doctor up plain yogurt, stir in strawberry, raspberry, or blueberry jam. Itâ€™s both cheaper and healthier than buying yogurt C. that are premixed with â€œfruit at the bottom.â€
For an easy cake filling, mix 1/2 C. your favorite jam, jelly, or preserves with 1 tsp. brandy or liqueur and microwave until the mixture can be stirred smooth.
To quickly glaze a fruit tart or cheesecake and give it a pretty sheen, melt some red currant jelly in a microwavable bowl. Brush the melted jelly over the top of the fruit tart or cheesecake.
Uses for Ketchup
To make real Russian dressing, whisk together 1/4 C. mayonnaise, 1/4 C. sour cream, 2 tsp. ketchup, and 3 tsp. fresh lemon juice. Then, to be truly authentic, fold in 2 tsp. red or black caviar (rememberâ€” salmon eggs are very reasonably priced if you donâ€™t want to splurge on the serious stuff).
For a basic sweet-and-sour stir-fry sauce, dissolve 1 tsp. cornstarch in 1 tsp. cold water in the bottom of a medium bowl. Stir in:
1/3 C. rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
3 tsp. ketchup
2 1/2 to 3 tsp. dark brown sugar
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. rice wine or dry sherry
Add the sauce to the hot wok or skillet at the end of stir-frying and cook until thickened, about 1 minute. This sauce tastes great with chicken, pork, and seafood.
To make an easy braising liquid for beef brisket, mix 2 1/2 C. ketchup with 2 1/2 C. beef broth. Scatter 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper over 2 to 3 pounds of beef brisket. Brown the brisket in a Dutch oven in 1 tsp. vegetable oil. Remove the brisket and sautÃ© 2 large chopped onions in the pan. Add the ketchup mixture and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the brisket, cover, and simmer until the meat is fork-tender, about 2 hours. Skim the fat from the gravy, then slice the meat and serve with the gravy.
To use overripe bananas, store them whole in the freezer to make smoothies later. When ready, peel off the skins from the frozen bananas with a paring knife. Slice into a blender and add berries, milk or yogurt, and fresh orange juice. Blend until smooth.
For a tropical ice cream that will cool you down in the summertime, peel 2 bananas, wrap them in plastic, and freeze until solid. Then place in a food processor with:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries or strawberries
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Blend to the desired smoothness (or chunkiness). Pour into a shallow metal pan, cover, and freeze until firm. Scrape out servings with a spoon. Keeps frozen for up to 2 months.
For complex-tasting blueberry muffins with less fat, replace the butter in your favorite recipe with a mixture of mashed bananas and vegetable oil.
To give the kids a more nutritious frozen treat, make chocolate-covered frozen bananas on a stick. Peel whole bananas and skewer each one with a wooden craft stick or chopstick, then freeze until solid. Dip each banana into 1/4 cup melted chocolate (melted chocolate chips work fine). If you like, quickly roll in chopped nuts or sprinkles before the chocolate firms ups. Place on wax paper and return the chocolate-covered bananas to the freezer for 15 minutes.
Tidbit Adding a banana to a bag of peaches will help ripen the fruit faster. Ethylene gas emitted by the banana speeds the ripening process.
To make easy caramel sauce (dulce de leche), remove the label from a 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk. Put the unopened can in a large saucepan and cover with water by 5 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 2 hours, adding water as necessary to keep the can covered. Remove the can with tongs and cool to room temperature. Open the can and spoon the thick, sweet caramelized sauce over ice cream, brownies, pound cake, apple crisp, or your favorite desserts.
For ultra-easy strawberry sorbet, puree 1 quart strawberries with 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk and 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice. Freeze in a shallow metal pan, stirring occasionally. Scrape out servings with a spoon.
To roll up some chocolate truffles in no time, combine 20 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (or a mix of bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate), 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until the chocolate melts and the mixture can be stirred smooth. Let cool until the mixture can be handled, then roll into 1-inch balls between your palms. Roll in powdered sugar and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. You can also refrigerate the truffles for up to 2 weeks, but bring them to room temperature before serving for the best flavor.
For no-fuss refrigerator fudge, combine 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk, 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract in a saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until the chocolate melts and the mixture can be stirred smooth. Scrape into a foil-lined 8-inch square baking dish. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until the fudge is firm. Grab the foil to remove the fudge from the pan, then cut into 1-inch squares.
For a tasty topping for green beans, sautÃ© 2 minced garlic cloves in 1 teaspoon canola oil until opaque, then add 2 cups brewed tea. Let the mixture simmer for a few minutes, then pour over a pound of steamed green beans. Garnish with sliced almonds, if you like.
To make an orange-scented sauce for pan-seared chicken or pork, remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm. Saute 1/3 cup chopped shallots in 1 teaspoon olive oil in the same pan. Add 1 cup chicken broth, 3/4 cup fresh orange juice and 2 Earl Grey tea bags. Boil until the liquid is reduced to 3/4 cup. Remove the tea bags and whisk in 1 1/2 teaspoons honey and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter. Serve over the chicken or pork.
To make an aromatic fruit relish, brew hibiscus tea in a saucepan. (Hibiscus tea is available in supermarkets, sometimes mixed with rosehips, which works just fine.) After the tea steeps for 5 minutes, discard tea bags then add sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until the liquid reduces and becomes syrupy. Stir in finely chopped onions, pineapple, and apple and simmer over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Serve the relish with seafood such as shrimp, scallops, or broiled fish.
For rhubarb scented with jasmine, bring 11/4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Remove from the heat and add 3 jasmine tea bags. Cover and let the tea steep for 5 minutes. Discard tea bags, then add 2 pounds (6 cups) fresh or frozen sliced rhubarb, 1 1/4 cups sugar, and 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger to the saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the rhubarb is just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and refrigerate until well-chilled, about 3 hours. Keeps in the refrigerator for about 4 days.
For a warm, energizing autumn drink, combine 4 cups apple cider, 4 cups pineapple juice, 1/2 cup water, 1 cinnamon stick, and 4 whole cloves in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then add 1 tea bag. Let steep for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 1 hour. Discard the cloves, cinnamon, and tea bag before serving.
To make muffins with a surprise flavor, add 1 tablespoon fine loose English breakfast or Earl Grey tea leaves to the batter of your favorite basic or blueberry muffin recipe. Bake as directed. If you donâ€™t have loose tea leaves, open two tea bags and add to the muffin batter.
When you want to add something different to mulled wine, toss a few lemon spice tea bags into the simmering liquid. Remove the tea bags before serving.
For an autumnal twist on steamed broccoli, use apple cider to make the sauce. Saute 1/2 chopped onion in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil along with 1 teaspoon crumbled, fresh rosemary leaves until soft. Add 1/2 cup apple cider and boil until the liquid is reduced to a syrup that is about 2 tablespoons in volume. Add the steamed broccoli and toss until heated through. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice.
To mix up a sweet glaze for roasted pork chops, stir together 1/2 cup apple cider, 2 tablespoons dark rum, 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice. Pour over four boneless pork chops and roast at 400Â°F for about 30 minutes. For more flavor, add a few sliced apples and some dried thyme.
For a wintertime sauce to accompany roasted chicken, saute 2 thinly sliced apples in 2 teaspoons butter until the apples are soft, about 3 minutes Add 1/2 cup apple cider and 1/2 cup chicken broth. Cook until slightly reduced in volume, about 3 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup sliced scallions and cook 1 minute more. Serve with the chicken.
To make apple pot roast, use apple cider as the base liquid. Combine 1 1/3 cups apple cider, 3/4 cup dry white wine, and 1/3 cup fresh orange juice to use as the liquid instead of the broth, wine, or other liquid in your favorite recipe. Add 4 large minced garlic cloves, 1 cinnamon stick (3 inches long), and 1 teaspoon dried thyme for more flavor. Serve the pot roast with roasted potatoes, turnips, parsnips, and carrots.
To make a quick Asian-inspired sauce for chicken, fish, pork, or beef, combine 1 cup apple cider, 1/3 cup hoisin sauce, 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the liquid simmers.
1. To add a savory flavor to tomato sauce, add 1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste or mashed anchovies per cup of sauce. Donâ€™t stop at tomato sauces. Anchovies are the secret behind the savoriness of many sauces such as those in braised meats and vegetables.
2. For a one-of-a-kind twist on roasted chicken, slip a few anchovies under the skin before roasting. Or spread anchovy paste under the skin. The briny taste of the anchovies seasons the meat as it cooks, lending an incredible flavor boost.
3. To kick up the taste of tuna salad, stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons anchovy paste. A squeeze of lemon juice also blends well with anchovy paste and balances the saltiness with acidity.
4. For more complex tasting vinaigrettes, whisk 1/2 teaspoon mashed anchovy into the dressing. Taste the dressing before adding salt, as anchovies pack their own punch of sodium. You can even add anchovy to store-bought bottled dressing. Just pour the needed amount into a small bowl and whisk in the mashed anchovy.
5. For an Italian-style chicken salad sandwich, combine the following ingredients: 1 cup finely chopped cooked chicken breast, 4 finely chopped hard-cooked eggs, 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 1 can (2 ounces) drained and chopped anchovy fillets, 1 small grated onion, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and a pinch of salt. Spread butter over your favorite sandwich bread and top with the chicken filling.
6. To give plain old couscous a more aromatic flavor, prepare a box (10 ounces) instant couscous according to the package directions. Drain 1 jar (6 ounces) roasted red peppers and cut into strips. Add to the couscous along with 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, 8 chopped anchovy fillets, the juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
7. To make a Mediterranean-style sauce for pan-fried fish, remove the fish fillets after frying and transfer to a platter to keep warm. Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet, and cook until the butter melts. Stir in 1 1/2 tablespoons tiny, well-drained capers, 3 chopped anchovy fillets, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. Cook for 1 minute over medium heat, then pour over pan-fried fish fillets. The anchovy, while not a dominant taste, adds an irreplaceable depth of flavor to the sauce.
Shrimp Lafayette (instead of chilled shrimp cocktail)
Fill a frying pan with about 1/3 C. of olive oil, add 4 or 5 bay leaves and heat on medium. Add about 2 lb. of raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined, raise the heat a notch and cook until they start turning opaque. Then add a can of beer, a tsp. of corn starch and hot pepper flakes. Cook for another 4 or 5 minutes, then transfer shrimp and the juice to a serving bowl and enjoy.
Mediterranean platter (instead of celery, carrot sticks and dip)
On a large serving tray, arrange several slices of pita bread cut into triangles, a pile of broken-up feta cheese, a couple handfuls of shelled, halved walnuts, a few scoops of flavored hummus, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes. Park a ramekin of olive oil in the middle of it all, and viola.
Baked green olives with bacon (instead of a relish tray)
Wrap each pimento or garlic-stuffed green olive in a thin thread of bacon and fasten with toothpicks. Bake on a cookie sheet in preheated 325-degree oven until bacon is cooked (about 10-12 minutes). Arrange on a platter with canned black olives and jarred pepperoncinis.
Chicken-stuffed endive leaves (instead of green salad)
Start with two C. of either homemade or store-purchased chicken. Add fresh tarragon, walnuts and finely diced apples to the mixture. Then fill the bottom tip of a dozen or more baby endive leaves with the salad. Arrange the leaves in a star formation on a large platter and sprinkle with dried chives.
Pierogis (instead of pasta or potato salad)
Boil one or two dozen of frozen potato-cheese-stuffed pierogis (purchased from freezer sections of major grocery stores) for 5-10 minutes. Drain and transfer into shallow baking pan filled with two sticks of cut-up butter and 2-3 chopped brown onions. Salt and sprinkle generously with black pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes in 225-degree oven, occasionally turning the pierogis with an oven spoon. Serve in a wide, shallow bowl with a ramekin of sour cream on the side.
Asian pork tenderloin (instead of meat skewers)
Marinate a two-or-three-lb. pork tenderloin overnight in a half-C. each of orange juice and Hoisin sauce, one-quarter C. each of dark molasses and soy sauce, four cloves of minced garlic and dash of salt and pepper. Bake in a roasting pan according to package instructions. Let cool 20 minutes and then roll the meat in toasted sesame seeds before slicing. Serve on a cutting board with sliced baguette or Kaiser rolls.
Turkey-cranberry rolls (instead of cold-cut platter)
Spread thin layer of cream cheese over three to five sheets of Lavash bread (from Trader Joeâ€™s), then top with another layer of cranberry sauce, covering only about half of each sheet. Add over the cranberry sauce a thin layer of shaved turkey. Roll each rectangular sheet beginning at one of the shorter edges. Refrigerate one hour. Cut into one-inch-thick pieces and transfer to large plate garnished with parsley sprigs.
Smoked turkey asparagus (another alternative to plain cold cuts)
Remove the hard bottoms of a dozen or so asparagus spears and discard. Then blanch the spears in boiling water for about four minutes and let cool. Roll each spear in a slice of medium-thick smoked turkey, arrange onto a platter and serve with aioli, hollandaise or plain.
Collection of French Bread Spreads
Cheese & Olive French Bread Spread
8 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1 (3 1/2 ounce) can sliced black olives, drained
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 (16 ounce) French bread, sliced in 1 inch slices
Combine butter and mayonnaise and stir until well combined; stir in the grated cheeses, chives, black olives, garlic salt and pepper. Spread one side of each slice of bread thickly with butter mixture; lay the slices spread side up on a cookie sheet and slide under the broiler until the edges are brown, watching carefully to as not to burn the bread. Serve warm.
Italian Bread Spread
Â½ cup softened butter
1 teaspoon Italian dressing
Â½ teaspoon garlic powder
Hot Pepper Spread
Â½ cup softened butter
Â½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Sun-Dried Tomato Spread
1/2 cup softened Butter
2 Tbsp. finely chopped, drained sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
1 shallot or small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Â½ C. Parmesan + 1 clove Pressed Garlic + 3 T. EVOO
1 T. thinly sliced Garlic + Â½ C. chopped Tomato + 2 T. EVOO + salt
Â¼ C. chopped Tarragon, Rosemary, Chives or Parsley + Â¼ C. Parmesan + 3 T. EVOO
Â½ C. shredded Sharp Cheddar + 4.5oz. diced Green Chiles
Diced Plum Tomatoes + Mozzarella Cheese + Oregano + Basil + EVOO
1. Add Â¼ C. sautÃ©ed minced shallot to cooked peas.
2. SautÃ© a small diced red bell pepper in butter. Fold into cooked peas.
3. Cook a packaged rice blend, mix together with cooked peas.
4. Add 10oz cooked, drained frozen spinach and a quarter C. butter sautÃ©ed onions to cooked peas.
5. Add thawed but uncooked peas to a baby lettuce salad. Dress with mustardy vinaigrette and shaved parmesan.
6. Cooked peas + salt + butter + 2 T. chopped fresh mint
7. Cooked peas + diced ham or crumbled cooked bacon
8. Toast a handful of sliced almonds or pine nuts; fold into cooked peas.
9. Cook peas in 2 C. of chicken stock. Add 2 T. chopped tarragon or chervil. Add peas and stock to food processor and blend, adding a quarter C. of heavy cream
10. Mix thawed peas with 10oz. refrigerated prepared alfredo sauce and a handful of chopped ham. Fold into a pound of cooked fettuccini and serve.
11. Mix thawed peas with a C. of steamed sugar snap peas. Add red bell pepper strips and chopped scallion. Dress pea salad with blue cheese dressing.
12. Fold thawed peas into potato salad
13. Add thawed peas to egg salad. Spread on wheat bread, cut into tea sandwiches and garnish with watercress
14. Puree thawed peas, 1 Â½ C. chicken stock, some minced onion, chopped cucumber and 2 T. plain nonfat yogurt in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper and serve as a cold soup. Garnish with additional yogurt
15. Thawed peas + minced onion + cucumber cubes + cilantro + plain nonfat yogurt seasoned with a little cumin
1. Combine tuna with a drained can of cannellini bean; chopped onion, celery and fresh parsley; olive oil; and fresh lemon juice. Serve with crusty bread.
2. Flake the tuna with a little olive oil to make it moist. Serve it over salad greens with steamed green beans, hard-cooked egg, anchovies and an oil and vinegar dressing.
3. Make a fast tuna spread by pureeing the tuna with black olives, salt, pepper, and an oil and vinegar dressing.
4. Add chopped hard-cooked egg and fresh tarragon to tuna, using mayonnaise to bind it.
5. Fold in sweet or dill pickle relish into tuna, add a dab of mayonnaise, and serve it on sturdy white bread.
6. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice â€“ my motherâ€™s surefire trick for freshening up canned tuna.
7. Add a handful of any chopped fresh herbâ€”basil or chervil, for exampleâ€”and enough mayonnaise to make the tuna moist.
8. Turn leftover tuna salad into an easy tuna melt by spooning it onto slices of bread and topping it with shredded cheese. Broil until bubbling.
9. Put the tuna on slices of bread and top it with roasted red bell pepper strips. For a stupendous tuna melt, blanket everything with Monterrey Jack cheese before broiling
10. Add olivesâ€”any olives, such as stuffed green olives, chopped kalamata, or oil-cured French olives.
11. Mix in diced pickled jalapeno peppers and a dollop of mayonnaise. Sprinkle the tuna with a little cumin before serving.
12. Stir chunks of mango, mayonnaise, and a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice into the tuna.
13. Heat marinara sauce in a medium-size saucepan, stir in the tuna, then serve it on top of pasta with drained capers.
14. Add chopped water chestnuts or diced jicama to tuna for maximum crunch. Use mayonnaise to moisten it.
15. Blend drained tuna with a little softened cream cheese, fresh lemon juice, and chopped scallions for an easy sandwich spread
16. Make Tuna Croquettes. Mix 7oz. tuna with 2 diced scallions, 2 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1 tsp. lemon juice, 2 large eggs (beaten), Â¼ C. panko bread crumbs and salt and pepper to taste. Divide into 8 portions on a sheet pan and rest 15 minutes. Coat each round with additional panko bread crumbs and cook in EVOO, 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden. Remove to wire rack set over paper towels; cool a few minutes and serve.
17. Heat in a pan with a little lemon pepper
18. Open a can of high-quality tuna and heat its oil in a skillet over medium heat. Mix in garlic, parsley, and lemon peel. Add tuna, gently breaking it up, and add a pinch of dried crushed red pepper. Toss the tuna with al dente spaghetti and enough pasta cooking liquid to moisten. Top with toasted breadcrumbs and herbs. No cheese necessary.
19. Add a can of tuna to cooked elbow macaroni, fresh grated carrot, chopped green onion, and mayonnaise. Add thawed frozen peas, if desired. Mix everything together and keep it in the fridge for all day and night snacking.
20. Take eight canned piquillo peppers and trim off the last quarter inch to even them out, reserving the trim and juices from the tin. In a sautÃ© pan, sweat minced carrot and leek (about 2 T. each) in olive oil with salt until tender. Dice the piquillo trim and add to the warm carrot and leek mixture. Add reserved Piquillo juices. Add sliced scallion and pinch of dry marjoram or fresh thyme. Add 2 tsp. Sherry vinegar and fold in a can of good quality tuna with its packing oil. Bring to a simmer and pour mixture into a fine mesh colander fitted over a container to catch the vinaigrette. Stuff previously trimmed peppers with the tuna mixture and serve warm or chilled with reserved vinaigrette spooned over top.
21. Hard cook 6 eggs, cool and cut in half. Flip the yolks out into a small bowl. Add 1/4 C. mashed or flaked tuna, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, 2 T. butter at room temperature, minced garlic ( 1/2 garlic clove pushed through a press and minced), 1 T. mayonnaise. Mix well. Season with fresh lemon juice and a few drops of red pepper sauce. Spoon back into the egg white halves, mounding the stuffing. Top each egg half with a caper.
1. Add canned anchovies and a poached egg to each serving.
2. Bake frozen popcorn chicken and scatter over the salad while itâ€™s still hot.
3. Top each serving with a portion of grilled salmon.
4. Surround salad with halved cherry tomatoes and top with fresh basil.
5. Marinate chicken pieces in bottled Caesar dressing. Grill chicken and add to salad (use separate dressing, discard marinade).
6. Serve salad with pre-cooked shrimp and fresh mango.
7. Add grated lemon zest and 1 T. drained capers to the dressing.
8. Top with roasted asparagus and roasted red pepper strips.
9. Wrap raw shrimp with prosciutto; grill and arrange on top of salad.
10. Toss salad with diced cucumbers and pickled pepper strips; top with cleaned crabmeat.
11. Stir olive tapenade into the dressing.
12. Add 1 T. Dijon mustard to the dressing.
13. Fold a drained flaked can of tuna into the salad and garnish with oil-marinated green olives.
14. Toss salad with 3 C. of hot cooked penne pasta and pass extra grated Parmesan at the table.
15. Fold cubed avocado into the salad and season the dressing with a little chili powder and fresh lime juice.
1. Add pitted kalamata olives that have been cut in half and 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano.
2. Fold in chopped cucumber and plenty of chopped fresh dill.
3. Stir in several slices of smoked salmon that have been cut into slivers.
4. Sprinkle crumbled cooked bacon on top of the salad.
5. Fold in more finely chopped celery for extra crunch.
6. Add a teaspoon of curry powder and some chopped scallions and shredded carrots. Sprinkle with fresh parsley.
7. Stir in diced pimiento peppers and a handful of shredded sharp Cheddar cheese.
8. Sprinkle crumbled blue cheese and cracked black pepper on top.
9. Top each serving with a dollop of caviar and a dusting of minced chives.
10. Season the salad with a teaspoon of ground cumin and add a tablespoon of canned or fresh chopped chile.
11. Fold a tablespoon of prepared horse-radish into a pound of potato salad. Surround the salad with peppery watercress.
12. Add Â¼ cup of chopped fresh parsley and a tablespoon of chopped tarragon.
13. Make an American-style salade nicoise by serving steamed green beans, chunks of tuna, and black olives alongside the potato salad.
14. Create a Greek-influenced salad by placing the potato salad in the bottom of a salad bowl and covering it with shredded iceberg lettuce, cucumber slices, bell pepper rings, tomatoes, kalamata olives, and feta cheese.
15. Squeeze the juice of a lemon over the potato salad, the sprinkle with black pepper.
16. Fold in sliced black olives, diced scallions, and season with chile powder.
Preheat the oven to 350. Place oil in mixing bowl and stir in the dressing mix, herbs and seasonings. Add oyster crackers and toss until they are well coated. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crisp, 3-4 minutes. Do not over bake, as they will quickly burn. Serve warm or allow to cool completely and store in a air tight tin container in a cool, dry place for up to 1 week.
Slice thawed puff pastry into 1/3â€ strips. Holding strip at each end, working quickly, dredge it in a shallow dish of grated parmesan cheese. Turn one end clockwise to twist the strip into a gentle corkscrew. Sprinkle with cayenne or paprika. Bake at 400 until golden brown and aromatic, about 15 minutes. Serve alongside a soup and salad, or try it as a dipper for your favorite dip as a change.
1 pint fresh blueberries or raspberries
1 C. crushed strawberries macerated in 2 T. sugar
1 C. lemon and orange slices
Â½ C. Seedless Cucumber Slices
Â½ C. Tea or herb steep (like lavender stalks or basil)
Stir together a full jar of Thai peanut sauce, a little bit of pancake syrup, a dash of hot pepper sauce, and a squeeze of ketchup. Youâ€™ll wind up with a sweet, tangy peanut sauce with a kick!
Mix equal parts mayonnaise and honey-flavored mustard for a great sauce to dip chicken nuggets in.
Begin again with mayonnaise, but this time add a dollup of ketchup, a spoonful of pickle relish, and a dash of hot pepper sauce for a speedy rÃ©moulade. Serve with boiled shrimp or crab cakes.
Start with your favorite bottled Italian salad dressing and squeeze in some fresh lime juice. Add a pinch of sugar and a handful of chopped fresh cilantro. Now itâ€™ll be your favorite Mexican dip.
Donâ€™t forget the classic: a packet of dried onion soup mix and a container of sour cream. A chip couldnâ€™t ask for anything better.
Add avocado cubes, chopped fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.
Stir in mango chunks, chopped fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice
Fold in a small can of drained, crushed pineapple and fresh cilantro
Marinate chunks of white Mexican cheese in salsa; serve with toothpicks
Stir in a small can of drained corn
Combine with drained and rinsed canned black beans and drained canned yellow corn.
Add chopped jicama, shredded carrot and chopped fresh ginger.
Stir in a chopped fresh, vine ripe tomato.
Mix shredded radish and pinch of ground cumin with the salsa.
Add chopped canned tomatillos.
Stir in a chopped, soaked chipotle pepper.
Ass 1 tsp. prepared horseradish and fresh lemon juice; serve with shrimp.
Mix in chopped roasted red peppers, a dash of balsamic vinegar and chopped fresh basil.
Ass a couple T. plain yogurt, chopped cucumber and cumin seed. Serve with toasted pita bread wedges.
Fold in shredded carrot, a dash of fish sauce, a squeeze of lime juice and chopped fresh JalapeÃ±o pepper to taste. Serve with crackers.
-Blend 1/4 C store bought pesto with cream cheese. Top it with lightly toasted pine nuts.
-Blend 1/4 C pitted kalamata olives into the cream cheese. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves.
-Blend 1/4 C chopped, oil-packed, sun dried tomatoes into the cream cheese. Sprinkle 1 T. of chopped fresh basil over the top.
-Blend a jar of chopped marinated artichokes into the cream cheese and spread this on pumpernickel or rye bread.
-Drain a small can of tiny shrimp and blend them into the cream cheese. Season with a pinch of ground mace or nutmeg and sprinkle with 1 T. of minced red onion. Spread on bagel chips.
-Blend a can of drained chopped chiles, 1/2 C. of shredded Cheddar cheese, and a pinch of cumin into the cream cheese.
-Blend 2 ounces of smoked trout and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice into the cream cheese. Garnish with 1 T. of chopped fresh parsley.
-Blend 1 clove of garlic that you have crushed in a garlic press, 1 tsp. of herbes de Provence, and a pinch of black pepper into the cream cheese for a homemade Boursin-style cheese.
-Blend 1 small can of deviled ham and 1 tsp. Dijon mustard into the cream cheese.
-Blend 1/4 C. of chopped radishes and some black pepper into the cream cheese.
-Blend 1/4 C. of finely chopped honey-roasted almonds and a dash of hot pepper sauce into the cream cheese.
-Spread the top of the cream cheese with 1/2 C. of chutney. Sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds.
-Cover the cream cheese with 1/2 C. of whole-berry cranberry sauce.
-The classic-spread the top of the cream cheese with 1/2 C. of top-quality pepper jelly. Let it drip down the sides.
-Stir in 1 C. of chopped ham
-Add 1/2 C. frozen peas or chopped broccoli (and 1/2 C. chopped ham, too, if it’s in the fridge)
-Drain a small can of sliced mushrooms and fold them into the macaroni & cheese
-Add 1 C. chopped fresh, ripe tomatoes and 1 T. minced basil
-Stir in 1/2 C. of drained flaked tuna plus 1 tsp. of drained capers
-Fold in 1/2 C. of smoked salmon strips
-Add 1/2 C. cooked cauliflower florets and a dash of ground nutmeg
-Top each serving with a spoonful of fresh spinach that has been briefly sautÃ©ed.
-Add 1 C. of browned ground beef that you have lightly seasoned with salt and black pepper
-SautÃ© 2 sliced garlic cloves briefly in melted butter and fold these into the macaroni & cheese
-Stir in 1 C. of drained canned white beans, then season the macaroni & cheese with a little dried thyme
-Spoon the macaroni and cheese into a serving bowl and top it with strips of grilled sausage.
-Toss a C. of toasted bread crumbs in olive oil, run these under the broiler, then sprinkle them on top of the macaroni & cheese.
-Stir in 1/2 C. of sautÃ©ed shrimp and a dash of Cajun seasoning.
-SautÃ© some thin slices of red bell pepper briefly in olive oil, then stir them into the macaroni & cheese
-Stir a handful of finely chopped fresh parsley into the rice
-Add 1 T. of fresh lemon juice and 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
-Pour in 1/4 C. heavy cream, add 1/2 C. of grated Parmesan cheese, then stir the rice slowly over low heat for a time-pressed person’s risotto
-SautÃ© sliced fresh mushrooms in butter and toss them with the rice.
-Toss some melted butter, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a spoonful or so of drained capers with the rice
-Add sautÃ©ed minced onion and cooked peas to the rice
-Stir in chicken stock to moisten the rice, then add currants and sliced toasted almonds. Reheat the rice before serving.
-Toss the rice with garlic slices you have browned in butter
-Mince a scallion and some fresh parsley. Reheat the rice with butter and salt, then fold in the minced scallion and parsley
-Toss the rice with drained canned corn kernels, the kind that come with diced red and green peppers, then reheat it
-Warm 2 tsp. of curry powder in 1 T. of butter in a small skillet for 1 minute, then transfer the rice to the skillet and reheat it.
-Reheat the rice, then fold in toasted sesame seeds, a dash each of soy sauce and Asian sesame oil, and minced scallion
-Add minced onion and chopped tomato that have been lightly sautÃ©ed in olive oil with a dash of saffron or turmeric
-Brown some mild Italian sausage, toss in some fennel seeds, and stir in the rice. Add enough stock to make the rice moist.
-SautÃ© a 1/4 C. each of chopped onion and bell pepper in 1 T. of olive oil, and stir in 1 C. of rice. Season the rice with salt and black pepper, then pour in 4 lightly beaten eggs. Stir and cook, adding 1/2 C. shredded Monterey Jack cheese at the last minute so it melts
2. Slice chicken, pile on top of slices of bread, and then put Swiss cheese on top. Pass under the broiler and serve with avocado slices and a spicy mayo.
3. Put slices of warm chicken on toast, add slices of crisp bacon and ripe tomato, then blanket with your favorite cheese sauce (or cheese, I suppose)
4. Serve warm on toasted bread or a bed of cooked spinach with a chutney or your favorite salsa.
5. Shred chicken and scatter over a salad.
6. Top sliced chicken with mushrooms that have been sautÃ©ed in olive oil with a bit of dry sherry or dry white wine.
7. Shred the meat, layer onto warmed flour tortillas along with black beans, shredded cheese, salsa, and avocado (if you’ve got it).
8. Spread Dijon mustard all over the chicken, sprinkle it with black pepper, then shower it with chopped fresh tarragon and bake in 350 oven until warmed through.
9. Save juices from deli packaging to make gravy then spoon over the sliced chicken and mashed potatoes.
10. Chop chicken into bite-sized pieces and toss with chopped pecans, green grapes, a little minced onion, tarragon, and enough mayo to pull the salad together. Season with salt and serve with sliced tomato.
11. Spread #10 on tortillas, roll up, and slice into pinwheels.
12. Chop chicken, heat it along with favorite curry sauce, and serve over basmati rice.
13. Spread mayo on slices of sourdough bread. Layer slices of chicken, jellied cranberry sauce, and slices of sharp cheddar. Top with more bread, brush sandwich w/ olive oil. Grill or broil until cheese melts and bread is golden brown on both sides.
14. Place chicken slices on split squares of hot corn bread. Boil the juices from the packaging and spoon on top.
15. Serve sliced chicken codl w/ a quick gribiche sauce made by adding chopped sour pickles, capers, parsley, and minced hard-cooked egg to your favorite salad vinaigrette.
Â¼ C. low sodium Soy Sauce
3 T. Dry Cooking Sherry
2 T. Cornstarch
2 tsp. sugar
1 lb. chicken tenders, rinsed and patted dry
1 T. Vegetable Oil
4 Scallions, both white and green parts, sliced on the diagonal
2 T. chopped peeled fresh Ginger
2 cloves Garlic, sliced
Place soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch and sugar in a medium-size mixing bowl with Â¼ C. of water and whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved. Stir in chicken tenders and set bowl aside. Pour the oil into a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add scallions, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring until soft, 2 minutes. Drain the marinade from the chicken; do not discard the marinade. Add chicken to skillet and cook for 1 minute on each side. Pour the marinade over chicken, reduce heat to medium low and stir until chicken is cooked through, and sauce has thickened, 6 to 7 minutes. Serve at once.
1. Something Green (spring mix, watercress, spinach, romaine, any of a number of lettuces, herbs, etc.)
2. Something Sweet (carrot, pear slices, tomatoes, apple slices, berries, grapes, dried fruit, roasted red peppers, etc.)
3. Something Crunchy (toasted pine nuts, sliced almonds, pecan or walnut halves, croutons, canned French fried onions, etc.)
4. Something Tangy (crumbled feta, blue cheese, or goat cheese)
5. Something to Dress It Up (as simple as oil and vinegar, to as complex as you like with your chosen salad combination)
1. Greens: A handful of leafy greens like frozen spinach, thinly sliced chopped kale or bagged arugula add color, nutrition and a fresh flavor.
2. Acid: A little acid from lemon juice, vinegar, crÃ¨me fraÃ®che or pickles brighten up even the dullest soup.
3. herbs or spices: Leafy herbs like parsley or cilantro, or spices like toasted cumin or smoked paprika add a ton of flavor with very little work.
4. Meat: Anything from leftover grilled chicken breast to crumbled bacon or sausage can bulk up soups.
5. : Add a sliced hardboiled egg, a soft poached egg, or drizzle a scrambled egg into simmering broth for an egg-drop-style soup.
6. Grains: Leftover cooked grains make for a nice textural contrast.
7. Cooked potato: Ladling hot soup over a baked potato, a roasted sweet potato or leftover mashed potatoes makes for a filling meal.
8. Caramelized onion or shallot: Stirred in or added as a garnish, crispy caramelized onions add a blast of flavor.
9. Grated cheese: Try adding a handful of finely grated Parmesan or a sprinkle of sharp cheddar.
10. Bread: Go simple with a few crunchy croutons or all the way with a cheesy, toasted-bread top.
1. Add a slice or two of peeled fresh ginger. Remove the ginger before serving.
2. Add a handful of tiny broccoli florets.
3. Toss in Â¼ cup of mushrooms that have been lightly sautÃ©ed in butter.
4. Ladle the soup into bowls. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese to each bowl before serving.
5. Add 2 tablespoons of minced fresh parsley, snipped chives, or chervil just before serving.
6. Add a pinch of ground cumin and a chopped small tomato.
7. Mix in small can of corn niblets and a healthy grinding of black pepper.
8. Stir in a pinch of curry powder and a handful of finely diced apple.
9. Stir in Â¼ cup of drained and rinsed canned white beans and a tablespoon of store-bought pesto.
10. Add a handful of young spinach leaves. Stir; the heat will cook the spinach. Dirzzle extra-virgin olive oil over the soup and serve.
11. Stir in a minced and seeded small jalapeno pepper and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
12. Heat the soup, then puree it in a food processor or blender and ladle it into bowls. Garnish each serving with a dollop of store-bought green salsa and some tortilla chips.
13. Stir a handful of watercress leaves into the hot soup. Ladle into bowls and drizzle a little heavy cream over each serving.
14. Ladle the hot soup into bowls and shower each serving with crumbled crisp bacon and chopped scallion.
15. Add a generous handful of frozen peas, another of fresh carrot slices and a couple of sprigs of fresh dill. Remove the dill sprigs before serving and top each bowl with a sprinkling of snipped dill.
Change up the flavor.Â Add 1/4 cup coconut milk, 1 teaspoon of lime juice, and 1 teaspoon of fresh cilantro (per 1 can of soup) to make a Thai Chicken Noodle Soup.Â Or add half of a diced jalapeÃ±o, 1/4 cup sliced bell pepper, 2 tablespoons shredded cheese, and a few crushed tortilla chips (per 1 can of soup) for Mexican Chicken Noodle Soup
Boost the flavor with additional herbs. Try adding oregano, basil, thyme, and ground pepper to boost up the basic flavor of canned chicken noodle soup. Add small amounts of herbs at a time and taste test until your preferred flavor is reached.
6 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth (from one 49-oz can)
1 tsp. pre-chopped ginger or peeled chopped fresh ginger
1 package (9 oz.) refrigerated cheese tortellini
2 scallions (green onions), green parts only, chopped (for 1/4 cup), for garnish
1/4 cup pre-grated Parmesan cheese (optional), for serving
Place the chicken brother and ginger in a 4-quart saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Cover the pan and bring to a boil, then add the tortellini. Reduce the heat to low, and let simmer until the tortellini are plump and nearly done, 5 minutes. Add the spinach and season with pepper to taste. Cover the pan and let the broth simmer until the spinach is wilted and the tortellini are soft but the cheese centers are still firm, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Garnish each serving with some scallions and Parmesan cheese, if desired.
1. Chopped Nuts or Seeds
2. Crostini, croutons and other crunchy things. Go beyond the ordinary. Try an olive and goat cheese toast, a parmesan crisp, or crumbled cheese crackers. Crisp tortilla strips can work in more than just tortilla soup. Try cutting shapes from a flour tortilla and frying them in vegetable oil until crisp. Season your croutons in interesting ways â€“ coconut curry for instance.
3. Minced Fresh Herbs â€“ break away from parsley. Try fennel fronds, cilantro, rosemary or thyme. Minced scallion or chives add a light onion flavor.
4. Cheese — Try a crumbled queso fresco, a shake of parmesan, or the old standby, grated cheddar.
5. Vegetables â€“ add freshly chopped vegetables to the top to echo a vegetable in the soup. SautÃ©ed vegetables can be nice too, try mushroom and onion, or a colorful trio of bell pepper.
6. Heat â€“ diced jalapenos, a spicy bottled salsa, crushed red pepper flakes, a shake or two of tabasco
7. Velvety Creams â€“ Stir a flavoring into light sour cream or plain yogurt. Try citrus zest, horseradish, or lemon pepper. Apply to soup from a squeeze bottle for a pretty presentation. Place several dollops in the middle of the soup and pull a toothpick through the center to form a heart shape. For a ring of hearts, put your sour cream in a squirt bottle, squeeze small dots about 1/4″ in from the outer edge of the soup, drag a toothpick through all the dots to form a ring of hearts. For a spider web, with the sour cream in the squeeze bottle, starting in the middle of the soup, squeeze a circle of sour cream. Then another circle around that about 1/2″ toward the edge of the bowl. Make 4 or 5 circles, or however many you can fit. Drag a toothpick from the center toward the edge of the bowl. One inch away from that, drag the toothpick from the edge of the bowl to the center. Continue, alternating direction, until you have a spider web atop your soup.
Consider having a few crunchy options like croutons or toasted nuts (pumpkin seeds are always a favorite). I also love having sour cream, a little bowl of shredded cheese, chopped green onions and parsley, and some sort of pesto or salsa verde.
Cut puff pastry into squares. Brush with egg/water mixture and sprinkle herbs de provence over the tops. Lay pastry squares on the baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes.
Garlic Butter Croutons
SautÃ© minced garlic in butter over medium-low heat for one minute. Add bread cubes. Cook and stir until toasted, about 3 to 5 minutes. Variations: Add rosemary, thyme, orÂ oregano.
Place tablespoon-size mounds of grated Parmesan cheese 2 inches apart on a lined baking sheet. Bake at 350Â° F for about 6 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool to firm up before removing. Variations: Add minced herbs to cheese before baking.
Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Stars
Use mini cookie cutters to cut shapes out of flour or corn tortillas. Toss with oil or butter and cinnamon sugar. Bake at 375Â° F for 10 minutes. Variations: Go savoryÂ with cumin orÂ smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.
Toasted Sweet Potato Strips
Use a vegetable peeler to make thin strips. Toss with oil or butter, and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 375Â° F for 10Â minutes, or until lightly crunchy. Variations: Season with cayenne, curry powder, or cinnamon sugar.Â
More Quick Ideas forÂ Great Garnishes
- Matchstick apple slices tossed with lemon juice
- Sage leaves fried in brown butter
- Slivered garlic fried in oil until lightly brown and crisp
- Sliced and fried shallots
- Baked kale, beet, or carrot chips
- Minced herbs (whichever kind you used in cooking the soup)
- For curried soups and Mexican-influenced soups, stir lime juice into sour cream or yogurt with a pinch of sugar; spoon onto soup just before serving.
- A little grated ginger, finely chopped orange zest, or a dash of curry powder are also good in a cream topping for curried soups.
- AÂ dollop of cream will help tone down the fire in spicy soups.
- A spoonful of salsa, or a few chopped tomatoes, bell peppers, scallions, or cucumbers add a cool, fresh taste to your soup.
- A dusting of finely grated hard cheese such as Parmesan, Romano, or Emmenthaler, adds lots of flavor but not much fat.
1. Stir in one half cup diced smoked salmon.
2. Add 1/2 cup steamed cauliflower florets and a dash of nutmeg.
3. Stir in one half cup spinach that has been well drained.
4. Stir in one cup cooked ground beef that you have seasoned with salt and pepper and drained well.
5. SautÃ© a tablespoon of minced garlic in butter and then stir it into the mac and cheese.
6. Stir in one cup drained white kidney beans and a teaspoon of dried thyme and mix well.
7. Cut the skin from Italian sausage and chop it up into small pieces. Cook it done and drain well and add a cup of the chopped cooked sausage to your mac and cheese.
8. Toss a cup of toasted bread crumbs in olive oil and then sprinkle them with Parmesan Cheese. Toast them under a broiler and then stir a cup full into your mac and cheese.
9. Stir in one cup of diced cooked ham.
10. Stir in one cup of small baby shrimp and a teaspoon of Cajun seasoning.
11. SautÃ© some thin strips of red and green bell peppers in a pan with some olive oil and some fresh minced garlic and stir it into the mac and cheese.
12. Stir in a can of tomatoes with green chilies into your mac and cheese and stir well.
13. Really jazz it up by stirring in a half cup of cooked peas, a half cup of broccoli florets and a 1/2 cup of cooked chopped ham.
14. SautÃ© a large container of fresh chopped button mushrooms in butter and stir them into your mac and cheese.
15. Stir a half cup of cooked crumbled crisp bacon and a half cup of fresh diced tomatoes into your mac and cheese.
16. Take a half cup of drained canned tuna and a teaspoon of fine diced capers and stir them into a cooked and prepared box of mac and cheese. Pour this into a casserole dish and spread the top of the dish with sour cream and then top the dish with bread crumbs sautÃ©ed in butter, Parmesan cheese, and minced garlic
17. Make a jazzed up taco chicken casserole by cooking boned skinless chicken thighs sprinkled with dry taco seasoning until your chicken is done and then chop your chicken up fine. Stir the chopped cooked chicken up into a prepared box of mac and cheese and then stir in a half cup of sour cream and a half cup of fine shredded Mexican Cheese and pour everything out into a casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with more shredded Mexican cheese and put in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 10 – 12 minutes until you can see that all the cheese is well melted.
1. Wrap Prosciutto slices around pear slices, fresh fig halves or chunks of melon
2. Sprinkle olives with chopped fresh thyme or rosemary and a teaspoon of grated orange zest.
3. Arrange salad bar veggies on a pretty plate and serve with a fresh dip from the deli; use hollowed out bell peppers as your dip bowl.
4. Spread deli meat with a thin layer of cream cheese then roll around lightly steamed asparagus spears. Secure with toothpicks.
5. Top toasted French bread rounds with chopped deli olives, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto and an herbed cheese spread.
6. Choose a tuna or chicken salad from the deli and spread onto slices of white bread. Cut into triangles or strips.
7. Combine bottled Italian dressing with salad bar mushrooms for a quick marinated mushroom. Serve with toothpicks and French bread rounds.
8. Arrange smoked salmon slices on a pretty platter with piles of capers and minced red onion. Accompany the salmon with lemon wedges and small slices of dark crusty bread.
9. Set up a mustard bar with different mustards, small knives, slices of salami, sour pickles and bread rounds.
10. Surround a hunk of good blue cheese with red and green grapes and mounds of toasted pecans or walnuts.
11. Purchase hummus from the deli and spoon into pretty serving bowl. Drizzle with EVOO and top with a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley. Serve with warm pita triangles and olives.
12. Warm purchase buffalo wings at the deli and serve with celery sticks. Perk up a bottled blue cheese dressing by adding crumbled blue cheese.
13. Spear marinated mushrooms and cherry tomato halves on toothpicks to make mini kabobs.
14. Top a baked, store bought pizza crust with olives, marinated mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes. Drizzle with EVOO, warm in the oven and cut into small slices to serve.
1. Blend Â¼ C. of chopped, oil packed sun dried tomatoes into 8 ounces cream cheese; process well and then transfer to serving dish. Sprinkle with chopped fresh basil.
2. Add one half cup of high quality pepper jelly to eight ounces of cream cheese in the food processor and mix everything up together well. â€˜
3. Blend a small jar of dried beef, 8 oz. cream cheese and 1 T. horseradish in a food processor.
4. Blend Â¼ C. chopped radishes and pepper to taste to 8 ounces cream cheese; process well and then transfer to serving dish.
5. Mix one fourth cup of store bought pesto sauce into eight ounces of cream cheese; process well and then transfer to serving dish. Top with some toasted pine nuts.
6. Process one fourth cup of pitted kalamata olives into eight ounces of cream cheese and garnish this spread with a few fresh thyme leaves.
7. Mix a small jar of marinated artichokes into eight ounces of cream cheese; process well and then transfer to serving dish.
8. Drain a can of tiny baby shrimp and add them to eight ounces of cream cheese. Season with a pinch of mace or nutmeg; process well and then transfer to serving dish. Sprinkle on finely diced red onion; serve with bagel chips
9. Blend a can of drained green chiles, Â½ C. shredded cheddar cheese and a pinch of cumin into 8 ounces cream cheese; process well and then transfer to serving dish.
10. Mix four ounces of smoked fish and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice into eight ounces of cream cheese; process well and then transfer to serving dish. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.
11. Mix an eight ounce can of crab meat into eight ounces of cream cheese along with salt and pepper to taste and a teaspoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice to the food processor; blend well and then transfer to serving dish.
12. Mix one small can of deviled ham and one teaspoon of Dijon mustard into eight ounces of cream cheese; process well and then transfer to serving dish.
13. Mix one half cup of crumbled blue cheese into cream cheese; process well and then transfer to serving dish. Top with a spoonful of pear preserves and toasted almond slices.
14. Crush a clove of garlic with a garlic press and add to cream cheese in a food processor, along with a teaspoon of herbs de Provence and a pinch of black pepper; process well and then transfer to serving dish.
15. Spread Â½ C. Chutney over room temperature cream cheese. Sprinkle with toasted slivered almonds before serving.
16. Spread Â½ C. whole berry cranberry sauce over room temperature cream cheese. Sprinkle with chopped toasted walnuts.