Sunday, May 31, 2009

Poached Pears for Dessert

One evening in April Greg was watching Good Eats (Alton is his hero...) and this recipe was featured. I had purchased some vanilla beans from Penzeys Spices well over a year ago and knew this would be a wonderful use for them. Unfortunately, they were pretty dried up (I stored them too long), so I couldn't really scrape the insides, but I still cut it in half and tossed the whole thing in the pot. We really liked the pears, so I will try this again with fresh beans.
Vanilla Poached Pears
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2005
Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 1 hr 0 min
Cook Time: 55 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 4 servings
1 (750-ml) bottle white wine, Riesling or Viognier (I used Chateau St. Michelle Riesling)
1 cup water c.
5 ounces vanilla sugar, approximately 3/4 cup
1 whole vanilla bean, split and scraped
4 firm Bartlett, Anjou or Bosc pears, peeled leaving the stem intact (mine are Bosc)
Place the white wine, water, sugar and vanilla bean and pulp into a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
Core the pears from the bottom.
Decrease the heat to medium low and place the pears into the liquid, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the pears are tender but not falling apart. Maintain a gentle simmer.
Remove the pears to a serving dish, standing them upright, and place in the refrigerator.
Remove the vanilla bean from the saucepan, increase the heat to high and reduce the syrup to approximately 1 cup of liquid, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Do not allow the syrup to turn brown.
Place the syrup in a heatproof container and place in the refrigerator until cool, approximately 1 hour.
Remove the pears from the refrigerator, spoon the sauce over the pears and serve.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


I didn't realize it had been a couple of weeks since I wrote a post here. I have been cooking a little bit here and there, but did have a week when I was sick and we had take-out for a few days. Before that happened, however, I made some grilled tuna for supper one night. It is very difficult to find fresh tuna here on the Great Plains, so when I came across a package of vacuum sealed pieces several months ago, I snapped it up. I only purchased one, since my two previous experiences with fresh tuna were less than tasty, but I wanted to try again. Now I wish I'd grabbed two or three more.
This was so simple - just a dab of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, then grilled. It was way too windy that day for the outside grill, so the cast-iron grill pan saved the day for us. It just took 4 minutes per side and we had perfectly cooked and moist tuna. This was served with the cucumber and black-eyed pea salad recipe I linked to in my last post. They worked wonderfully together and it made a nice light supper.
I really hope I can find this again, and I'm really glad to have had a good experience with fresh tuna. :o)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Eating Well on Menu Monday

Eating Well magazine is one of my favorites, and I spent some time last week thumbing through a few old issues. I was looking for a specific recipe, but came across a few others to try this week.

Monday - Chicken and Asparagus w/ Melted Gruyere, whole grain medly
Tuesday - Grilled tuna, cucumber and black-eyed pea salad, focaccia
Wednesday - Stuffed turkey burgers, sweet corn, green salad
Thursday - Loaded Twice-baked potatoes, Ceaser salad
Friday - Jessi's choice - she'll be home by suppertime (yea!)

So tonight I made the chicken recipe and it was so good! If my table manners hadn't been refined by years of maturity, I might have licked my plate. Now I didn't have fresh tarragon, and I checked around town to no avail. I always recommend using fresh if possible.

Chicken & Asparagus with Melted Gruyere
Makes 4 servings
8 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

⅔ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

2 teaspoons plus ¼ cup all-purpose flour, divided

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1-1 ¼ pounds), trimmed

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 shallot, thinly sliced

½ cup white wine (I buy those 4-packs of tiny bottles of white wine to use in my cooking. There is just a tad more than half a cup in those, and it's pretty decent wine.)

⅓ cup reduced-fat sour cream

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried

2 teaspoons lemon juice

⅔ cup shredded Gruyère cheese (This costs about a zillion dollars a pound, so I think a Swiss or Parmesan would be an acceptable substitute.)

1. Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, add 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Add asparagus; cover and steam for 3 minutes. Uncover, remove from the heat and set aside.

2. Whisk broth and 2 teaspoons flour in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside.

3. Place the remaining 1/4 cup flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and dredge both sides in the flour, shaking off any excess.

4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side, adjusting heat as needed to prevent scorching. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.

5. Add shallot, wine and the reserved broth mixture to the pan; cook over medium heat, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; stir in sour cream, tarragon, lemon juice and the reserved asparagus until combined.
Return the chicken to the pan and turn to coat with the sauce. Sprinkle cheese on top of each piece of chicken, cover and continue cooking until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.

Nutrition Information
Per serving: 306 calories; 15 g fat (6 g sat, 6 g mono); 91 mg cholesterol; 7 g carbohydrate; 31 g protein; 1 g fiber; 298 mg sodium; 343 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Selenium (36% daily value), Calcium (25% dv).
1/2 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 1/2 starch, 4 lean meat, 1/2 fat

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bacon Cheeseburger Quiche or a variation thereof...

This week I'm deciding our menu on a day-to-day schedule, depending on the weather. Here's what's happened so far:
Monday - Ground beef sliders, fresh veggies, chips
Tuesday - Parmesan crusted chicken, creamed peas and potatoes (including mushrooms)
Wednesday - Quiche, green salad, rolls

I have this wonderful recipe for a low-carb quiche that can be tweaked to include any ingredients you wish. The original title is "Moonchild's Bacon Cheeseburger Quiche" and I found the recipe years ago here. You can make any variation of this that you like, using a different meat, different cheese, adding veggies, tweaking to your family's taste. It's a great way to use up little bits of this and that in your frig.
Tonight ours will be made with browned ground beef from the freezer, fresh steamed broccoli, mushrooms, and grated mozzarella cheese. I might have a piece of cooked bacon to chop up and sprinkle on top.
This is one of those dishes that is still wonderful the next day for lunch, and it freezes well, too.

1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, chopped, 2 1/2 ounces
4 slices bacon, chopped
3 eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cheddar or Swiss cheese, shredded
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
Brown the hamburger with the onion and bacon; drain the fat. Season to taste. Spread in a greased pie plate.
Whisk all of the remaining ingredients except the cheese.
Mix about 1/3 of the cheese into the hamburger mixture and arrange the rest over the meat.
Pour the egg mixture over the cheese. Bake at 350º for 35 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.
Makes 6-8 servings
Can be frozen
Per 1/6 Recipe: 394 Calories; 35g Fat; 17g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 2g Net Carbs
Per 1/8 Recipe: 296 Calories; 26g Fat; 13g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 2g Net Carbs