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Letting the juices of life (or food) drip from my chin!


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Peach Crisp

IMG_9865When I think of summer, I think of peaches.. there are few things in the world that are as good as the peaches I have eaten in South Jersey – juicy, drippy, goodness.  Well, I am in Southern California, and bought some peaches that were begging to be used up.  I found this recipe for Peach Crisp in my America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook.  Unfortunately, I did not have as many peaches as the recipe called for, because two of them had gone bad, but I used what I had: 4 large peaches. Reading over the ingredients, I found I had everything except for lemon zest to make this dish, so make it I did. And yummy it was.

Peach Crisp

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook (15th Anniversary Edition page 804)

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 3 lbs of peaches, peeled, pitted and cut up into bite size pieces
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon, optional

Crumble Topping:

  • 6 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 F

Place the peach pieces in a pie dish. Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Stir with a fork.  Add the pieces of butter and work with your hands to combine them into a crumb like topping. Stir in the pecan pieces.

Spread the crumb topping across the top of the peach filling.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes.  Cook an additional 5 minutes at 400 if the topping is not browned.

Serve warm.  Great with ice cream of whipped cream.

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Cool and Creamy Macaroni Salad

IMG_9603This recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen.  With Independence Day quickly approaching, I wanted to try a new recipe for macaroni salad.  The ingredients caught my attention because of the addition of lemon juice.  I followed the recipe exactly – and what I liked was that the dressing was not overly thick.  The lemon added a nice fresh flavor to the salad.  What I did not like is that it seemed to be lacking something else.  I thought the parsley was overpowering.  I would change that to something like basil – and I bought a ham steak, diced it up and added about 1 cup to the salad.  It was now much better!  It still is not my most favorite recipe, but it is a nice change from the same old same old.  I also added about 1/2 tsp of Spike seasoning to the salad.  It is a seasoning I use in my Hawaiian Potato Mac salad and really like the flavors that it adds.

Cool and Creamy Macaroni Salad

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced basil (originally parsley)
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp Spike (optional)
  • 1 cup diced ham steak

Instructions:

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water and cook the elbow macaroni according to the package directions.  Do not overcook the pasta though, you want it to still have some texture once you add the dressing.  Drain the pasta.  Rinse the pasta in cold water and give it a quick drain (you want to keep a little of the moisture of the water in the pasta – it will keep the dressing from becoming overly thick.

Combine the chopped red onion, chopped celery, chopped basil (or parsley), lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, cayenne pepper in a small bowl and add these to the cooled macaroni salad.  Stir together and allow to sit for 2 or 3 minutes to allow the flavors to absorb.

Add the mayonnaise to the pasta and stir to combine.  Season with Spike if you think it needs more flavor.  Add the chopped ham to the pasta salad and stir. Chill until serving.

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Mediterranean Chopped Salad

IMG_8936Here is another lovely salad that I made.  I found this recipe in my America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook on page 74.  I love most of the recipes that I have tried from America’s Test Kitchen.  They are on TV on PBS as well.

Mediterranean Chopped Salad

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook pg 74

Serves 6  Calories: 180/serving

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 10 oz cherry tomatoes, cut in half (I love Cherub brand cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into pieces
  • 1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup pitted  kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce, washed, dried, and chopped into bite size pieces
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Dressing:

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Combine the salad ingredients in a large salad bowl.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine.  Pour over the salad and gently toss the salad.

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Crab Cakes and Remoulade Sauce

IMG_5100Recently, my daughter requested crab cakes for dinner.  I was actually surprised that she wanted them, I was sure it was salmon cakes she liked, but to be honest I was happy to oblige.  I like Crab Cakes.  When I think of crab cakes, I think East Coast, but as I live on the West Coast – I also think Disneyland Blue Bayou crab cakes.  They are good!  I found a nice recipe in one of my many cookbooks:  America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (page 281) I doubled the recipe because the recipe served 4 and we are a family of 5.  I took leftovers to a neighbor, who said the crab cakes rivaled those served in a fancy restaurant.  It made me smile.  This truly is a good recipe!  They make very large crab cakes though, so I probably would have been okay keeping the recipe at 4 servings and making the crab cakes slightly smaller.  I added a kick of creole seasoning (Konriko brand is my favorite seasoning, that is available through the internet).

Crab Cakes

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s Family Cookbook

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs canned refrigerated backfin crab meat (Pacific Cove is an excellent brand)
  • 6 Tbsp dried breadcrumbs
  • 8 scallions, thinly sliced (green part only)
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley (or cilantro, dill, or basil)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 tsp Creole Seasoning (optional, but if not using increase Old Bay to 1 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2  eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup flour, or more as needed
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Instructions:

In a large bowl, using a fork gently combine the crab meat, dry breadcrumbs,  scallions, parsley (or other spices), Old Bay Seasoning, Creole seasoning.

Add the mayonnaise and gently fold it into the crab meat.  Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper if necessary.  (If you are adding creole seasoning it may not need any and if you are not using it then increase the Old Bay seasoning to 1 Tbsp.)  Gently fold in the beaten eggs.  Add more breadcrumbs if necessary.  I used less than called for.

Divide the crab meat into 8 equal portions.  Gently form them into balls and flatten them slightly. They are quite large almost fist sized.  Cover the crab cakes with plastic wrap and cool for 30 minutes or longer.

Heat 1/4″ canola oil in a non stick skillet, or cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  Remove the crab cakes from the refrigerator and lightly coat them in flour just before frying them in the oil.  Fry them until golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side and remove them to a platter and keep warm while you finish cooking the remaining crab cakes.  Serve with lemon wedges and Spicy Remoulade Sauce if you wish.

Remoulade Sauce

adapted from: http://southernfood.about.com/od/saucerecipes/r/r90627b.htm

Yields: about 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp finely chopped dill pickle
  • 1 tsp finely chopped rinsed capers
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
  • dash Frank’s hot sauce, or to taste (I used about 3 tsp)
  • salt, to taste

Preparation:

Combine the mayonnaise, chopped dill pickle, chopped capers, lemon juice, mustard, and parsley. Taste and add hot sauce and salt, until you like the taste of the sauce.

Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

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Skillet American Chop Suey

I remember my mother making “Chop Suey” when I was growing up.  For some of you, this means Chinese food.. no, this is the American version.  A nice way to doctor up a pound of ground beef and other staples you have in your pantry. It is a better alternative to Hamburger Helper. A much tastier one as well!

I just came home from our church’s Ladies Retreat.  What a let down to return to dishes, a broken dishwasher and the dirty laundry that multiplied while I was away, but I was getting hungry and wanted easy and tasty for dinner.  I had not gone to the store since returning, but had ground beef and this has ingredients that I usually have on hand.

http://www.americastestkitchentv.com/

This recipe for “Skillet American Chop Suey” is from America’s Test Kitchen’s book The Best 30-Minute Recipe (page 148)

Skillet American Chop Suey

Serves 4

  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided use
  • 1 lb. 90% lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped medium
  • 1 celery rib, chopped medium (I didn’t have any this time)
  • salt and ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 oz elbow macaroni (about 2 cups-dry)

Making the minutes count:  Before cooking, mince the onion. While the beef cooks, chop the bell pepper and celery.  While the vegetables cook mince the garlic.

  1. Cook Beef: Heat 1 Tbsp. of oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add beef and cook, breaking it into pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Saute Vegetables: add remaining Tbsp oil to skillet and return to medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, bell pepper, celery and 1/2 tsp salt and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes.  Stir in Garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Simmer Macaroni: Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, macaroni, and browned beef. Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed to maintain a vigorous simmer, until macaroni is tender, 10-15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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