Tag: recipe

Sliced Steak With Crispy Polenta

Parents faced with the nightly task of preparing meals for their families often feel as if there’s just not enough time to cook a hearty, homecooked meal the whole family can enjoy. Long hours at the office can make some parents feel like they need to be magicians to serve up a delicious meal in the time between arriving home from work and going to bed.

But family-friendly meals can still find their way to your dinner table even if you are pressed for time. The following recipe for “Sliced Steak With Crispy Polenta” from “Weightwatchers: Cook It Fast” (St. Martin’s Press) can be whipped up in roughly 30 minutes, meaning it’s entirely possible for families to sit down to a fresh and delicious meal any night of the week.

Sliced Steak With Crispy Polenta

Serves 4

1 1-pound lean flank steak, trimmed

1/2 teaspoon ancho or regular chili powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 16-ounce tube fat-free polenta, cut into 12 slices

11/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 jalapen^to pepper, seeded and minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1. Spray ridged grill pan with nonstick spray and set over medium-high heat. Sprinkle steak with chili powder and salt. Place steak in pan and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into side of steak registers 145 F for medium, about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer steak to cutting board and let stand 5 minutes. Cut on a diagonal into 16 slices.

2. Meanwhile, spray boiler rack with nonstick spray and preheat boiler. Arrange slices of polenta on rack and broil 5 inches from heat until crispy and heated through, about 2 minutes on each side.

3. Spray medium skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium heat. Add corn, bell pepper, onion, and jalapen^to pepper; cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in cilantro.

4. Place 3 slices of polenta on each of 4 plates and top each serving with 4 slices of steak. Divide corn mixture evenly among plates.

Do it faster: To neatly and quickly remove the kernels from an ear of corn, place a bowl in the sink, stand the corn on end inside the bowl, and cut off the kernels with a knife. Any fly-away kernels will end up in the sink.


Soda Bread for St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate Irish culture. Such celebrations are not truly complete without some traditional Irish food, such as the following recipe for “Irish Soda Bread” courtesy of Linda Collister’s “Quick Breads” (Ryland, Peters & Small).

Irish Soda Bread

Makes 1 medium loaf

31/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

11/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

12/3 cups buttermilk (roughly)

Nonstick baking sheet, lightly dusted with flour

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Sift the flour, baking soda and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the buttermilk into the well and mix it into the dry ingredients with a round-bladed knife or your hands to make a soft, slightly sticky, rough-looking dough.

Turn out the dough on a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a ball. Set the dough onto the baking sheet and gently flatten it so it is about 11/2 inches high. With a table knife, score the dough with a cross. Dust with a little flour then bake for about 35 minutes until a good golden brown. To test if the loaf is cooked, tap underneath with your knuckles. If it sounds hollow, it is ready. If it gives a dull thud, bake it for a few minutes longer and test it again.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Wrap well to store or freeze for up to 1 month.

Make Weeknight Meals Healthy and Simple

Households in which both parents work and kids have school and extracurricular commitments can get a little hectic, particularly on weeknights. Parents who want to prepare nutritious dinners may feel it’s impossible to do so without making elaborate, time-consuming recipes. But there are ways for busy, time-strapped parents to make sure weeknight dinners are both healthy and simple.

· Stock a healthy pantry. When grocery shopping, purchase some healthy nonperishable foods that you can rely on in a pinch. Instead of stocking the freezer with unhealthy yet easily prepared frozen foods that are often loaded with saturated fat, stock your pantry with whole grain pastas. Whole grain pastas are lower in calories and higher in fiber and contain more nutrients than refined white pastas. And once water is boiled, whole grain pastas can be prepared in roughly 10 minutes.

· Rely on a slow cooker. One of the simplest ways to prepare healthy meals that won’t take much time to prepare each night is to use a slow cooker. Set dinner in the slow cooker in the morning before leaving for work, and by the time you arrive home each night you will have a fully prepared, healthy meal ready to be served.

· Make meal prep a family affair. Families who share the responsibility of making dinner on weeknights may find it easier to prepare healthy meals. Younger children may not be able to join in the preparation of too many dishes, but middle school and high school students can help out by chopping vegetables while their parents work on other parts of the meal. Preparing meals can take as much time, if not more, than cooking meals, so making meal prep a family affair can save a substantial amount of time.

· Cook meals in advance. Families who are hesitant to use slow cookers may benefit by preparing healthy meals over the weekend and then refrigerating or freezing them so they can be cooked on weeknights. If you plan to freeze meals prepared in advance, remember to remove them from the freezer the night before and place them in the refrigerator so they are thawed out when you arrive home from work to place them in the oven.

· Choose simple recipes. Trying new recipes is one of the joys of cooking. But trying new recipes on weeknights can be time-consuming because cooks have yet to grow accustomed to each step in the recipe. When looking for new weeknight recipes, look for meals that can be prepared in five steps or less, leaving the more complicated recipes for weekend meals. FP165057

A Tasty and Traditional Take on Chicken

Chicken can be served in various ways, and that versatility no doubt contributes to the popularity of poultry. Some people love their chicken fried, while others can’t get enough grilled chicken. Baking chicken may not be as popular as frying or grilling it, but baked chicken is no less delicious. For chicken lovers used to frying or grilling their favorite meals, the following recipe for “Home-Style Baked Chicken” from Laurie McNamara’s “Simply Scratch: 120 Wholesome Homemade Recipes Made Easy” (Avery) may just make you a baked chicken devotee.

Home-Style Baked Chicken

Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

11/2 teaspoons Poultry Seasoning (see below)

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon paprika

4 to 5 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs and


Preheat the oven and a 9-by-13-inch metal roasting pan to 375 F. Place the olive oil and butter in the pan and place the pan in the oven on the lower rack.

In a small bowl, combine the poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Place the flour in a resealable bag. Place a few pieces of the chicken in the flour at a time, seal, and shake to coat. Remove and vigorously shake off any excess flour. Place the flour-dusted chicken on a clean platter. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven and immediately arrange the chicken skin-side up in a single layer over the bottom of the pan and then sprinkle with some of the poultry seasoning blend and paprika. It should sizzle.

Place the hot pan back on the lower rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove, baste by spooning the juices that have collected in the pan over each piece, and then sprinkle the chicken with the remaining poultry seasoning blend.

Return the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes more. Remove and baste one last time before moving the chicken to the middle rack and baking for 10 to 15 minutes more to further crisp the chicken skin.

Let rest for 5 to 8 minutes before serving.

Poultry Seasoning

Makes 3 tablespoons

3 teaspoons dried thyme

11/2 teaspoons dried marjoram

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons ground sage

In a spice grinder or using a mortar and pestle, combine 2 teaspoons of the thyme, the marjoram and the rosemary. Blend until finely ground. Transfer to an airtight container and add the remaining 1 teaspoon thyme, the nutmeg, the paprika, and the sage. Store in a dry, dark place for up to 6 months.

Slow Cooking = Convenient & Delicious

Slow cooking has become very popular in recent years. The convenience of slow cooking, which allows home cooks to begin preparing meals in the morning or afternoon and then enjoy a delicious dinner without having to put in much work after a day at the office, no doubt plays a big role in that popularity.

Slow cooking also allows home cooks to experiment with various ethnic cuisines. For those who love Mexican food and slow cooking, the following recipe for “Pork and Shrimp Posole” from Andrew Schloss’ “Cooking Slow” (Chronicle Books) makes the perfect meal.

Pork and Shrimp Posole

Makes 6 servings

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
21/2 pound boneless pork shoulder (picnic ham), trimmed of most of the exterior fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 fresh long red chile or serrano chile, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup good-quality, low-sodium chicken broth or fish broth
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 15-ounce can posole (whole hominy), drained and rinsed
12 ounces large (26-30 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
3/4 cups chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat the oven to 200 F.

Mix together the flour, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper on a sheet of aluminum foil. Toss the pork pieces in the seasoned flour to coat completely.

In a large Dutch oven, pour enough olive oil to coat the bottom generously and place over medium-high heat. Heat until the oil is shimmering hot. Working in batches as needed to avoid crowding the pot, add the pork to the hot oil and cook to brown nicely on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer the pork pieces to a plate as they are finished. When all of the pork is browned, set aside. Do not discard the remaining flour mixture.

If the pot seems dry, add more olive oil and return to medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and saute^a until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add the chile and garlic and saute^a until the garlic is aromatic, about 30 seconds more.

Add the reserved flour mixture and stir until dissolved in the oil in the pot. Cook, stirring constantly, until the flour toasts lightly, about 1 minute. Add the broth and the tomatoes with their juices and stir to mix well. Return to a simmer and season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Return the pork to the pot, along with any juices that accumulated on the plate. Stir in the posole. Cover, transfer to the oven, and cook until the flavors have blended and the pork is fork-tender, about 6 hours.

Remove the pot from the oven, uncover, and stir in the shrimp and lime juice and zest. Re-cover and set aside and let the shrimp cook in the steam until firm and opaque throughout, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and serve.


Fall Entertaining – Autumn Harvest Sangria

Today features a top pick for fun and fresh Fall entertaining – Autumn Sangria! While there are many variations available, Sangria requires minimal assembly and only a few basic ingredients.

Autumn Harvest Sangria

1 bottle red wine (or white!)
1 bottle sparkling apple cider
1 orange, peeled & sliced
1/4 c. molasses
1 c. dried apricots
2 apples, peeled, bite-size pieces
1/4 c. pomegranate seeds (garnish on top before serving)

Mix all ingredients together in a large punchbowl with ice, top with pomegranate seed garnish. Enjoy!

Do you have a favorite holiday punch recipe? Share in our Comment section below! 🙂

Pumpkin DIY, Recipes & Health Benefits

With Fall in full swing, pumpkins are popping up everywhere from Autumn décor to the dinner table! There are many ways to utilize this fresh fall produce with both DIY home decorations and delicious recipe ideas.

  • DIY pumpkin decorations:
    • Spray paint – Go for the gold! Spray pumpkins in a gold shimmer for instant upscale Fall décor
    • Lace – Slip a black lace stocking over a pumpkin for an unusual gothic Halloween look
    • Ombre – Choose naturally colored pumpkins but display either stacked or lined up in order from light to dark – ombre effects are on trend for this Fall
  • Health benefits of pumpkin:
    • Low calorie
    • High in anti-oxidants – vitamins A, C, & E
    • Natural source of copper, calcium & potassium

Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe? Share in the Comments!

Apple Butter: Fall Recipe Favorite

Fall apples are a fresh, Pennsylvania favorite! Autumn offers the pick of the litter when it comes to this locally produced fruit. Perfect for mid-day snacking, baked in a pie, or start canning now to have holiday presents for friends and family!

One classic way to preserve is by making apple butter. Apple butter has a long history in the Pennsylvania & Ohio areas – like tapping trees for maple syrup, it was often a big celebration, with families and friends all gathering to pitch in for this yearly tradition.
Apples are are peeled, corred and boiled to create this sweet and creamy fruit butter. Copper kettles were a mainstay of this tradition, kept with a fire underneath for an entire day to make a batch of apple butter. Now, apple butter can be made worry-free at home in a crock-pot or with some watch, on the stove.
To make your own apple butter at home, follow one of these recommended recipes:

Crock Pot Apple Butter

Classic All Day Apple Butter

Applesauce Apple Butter

What’s your favorite way to enjoy Fall apples? Fresh from the tree? Pie? Crisp? Carmel dipped? Share your Favorite in our Comments!

Recipe: Chilled Cantaloupe Soup

Enjoy this summertime twist on – cantaloupe – a local Pennsylvania favorite! Chilled cantaloupe soup is a fun and fresh way to feature this classic melon!

-> Follow the Links below to find the full Free Recipes!

• Chilled Cantaloupe Soup – with lime juice and cinnamon

• Try a sweet twist by adding a dash of ginger!

• Like it spicy? Add some red chili for an extra kick!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy cantaloupe? Leave your answer in the Comments below!

Simple Basil Pesto Recipe

Simple basil pesto can be a bright, flavorful twist on a classic spaghetti & red sauce. Pesto can be made ahead and frozen or canned for homemade taste anytime. Pesto can be tossed with pasta, or serve as a spread with bread!

Our featured basil pesto recipes range from sweet to spicy & even feature a nut-free pesto! Click on the links below to find the full recipe – image

*Classic Basil Pesto
*Garlic & Basil Pesto
*Walnut & Parsley Pesto
*Spinach & Basil Pesto: Nut-Free Pesto

Do you have a favorite pesto recipe? Share your recipe or post the link in the Comment section below!