Archive for December, 2012

New Year’s Food for Good Fortune

I like to hedge my bets, so am planning on eating as many “lucky” foods as possible New Years Eve and New Years day.

And wearing red undies. Red lingerie brings giddiness, passion, love and luck. Right?

But, as for food that brings good fortune, here’s a short list, that I’m picking up at the grocery store for these next two days. Just in case. Oh…skip the lobster and chicken. They don’t have good New Year’s vibes. But these foods do.

  • Grapes, 12 of them Eat them at midnight for luck in each month of the new year. Raisins work too.
  • Turmeric-laced foods:  Gold-colored foods bring financial prosperity.  Monica Bhide, who leads a life of spice, talks turmeric and has an amazing Fish Curry recipe here.Post image for Spice of the month: Turmeric
  • Pork Recipe below: Pork Sauerkraut with Sour Cream
  • Beans, lentils, black-eyed peas Combine them all in a super good-fortune soup
  • Cabbage or sauerkraut It’s just lucky. My German heritage means this is the recipe I’m including here.
  • Fish I might only have time for a tuna sandwich today
  • Long noodles They’re Japanese symbols of long life, so Soba or buckwheat noodles work…or what about ramen noodles? I’m sure spaghetti works too. Noodle up!
  • Sweet bread or cakebaked in a ring shape You know—coming full circle. Add a little trinket to bring extra luck to the person who gets that trinket in her slice.
  • Share, share, share! Food and friends guarantee happiness in the new year…and always. xo

Pork Sauerkraut with Sour Cream
Makes 8 servings

Despite my German heritage (sauerkraut is served at EVERY family holiday), I’m not a big fan of sauerkraut. Except for this version. The sour cream mellows the kraut. I sometimes cut down on the pork and add some Polish sausage.

2 pounds pork (I like pork butt), cut into 1-inch chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 tablespoons canola oil
3 large onions, chopped
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 pound jar sauerkraut (drained and squeezed dry)
1/2 cup water (or low-sodium chicken broth)
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup sour cream

 1. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork; cook and stir until brown. Remove pork from pan and set aside. Add onions and cook until soft. Drain excess fat. Stir in paprika; cook for 1 minute.

2. Stir in browned pork, sauerkraut and water. Cover and cook gently for 60 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, whisk together the sour cream and flour. Stir into sauerkraut mixture. Simmer gently until heated through.

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Dark Chocolate Brownies at Midnight

One pot uber-fudgie brownies. No mixer required.

One pot uber-fudgie brownies. No mixer required.

I typically triple the recipe and put them in a half-sheet pan (18 x 13 x 1 inch) because these brownies are meant to be given away. I actually ran out of walnuts, so this photo only has about half the amount. Usually they’re fully loaded—a nut-lover’s dream. Works too if you leave ’em out.

But, remember, walnuts are high in good-for-you fats that provide protection against a host of health problems. And dark chocolate, including bittersweet, has heart-healthy antioxidants and has been found to lower blood pressure. Never mind the butter and sugar. Surely the nuts and chocolate cancel out the butter-sugar concerns. I like to think these brownies are a health food.

Walnut-Studded Dark Chocolate Brownies

1/2 cup butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8x8x2-inch or 9x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine butter and bittersweet chocolate. Cook and stir over medium heat until butter and chocolate are melted. Remove from heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir granulated sugar and brown sugar into chocolate mixture until smooth. Add eggs, beating with spoon until well combined.

3. In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Stir flour mixture into the chocolate mixture just until combined. Stir in nuts and milk chocolate pieces (batter will be thick). Spread in prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until top is set but still soft. (A toothpick inserted in center will come out slightly gooey.) Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes 16 brownies.

Tip: The secret to fudgy brownies is to make sure you don’t overcook them. For easy clean up,  line the baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. Butter the foil. When brownies are baked and cooled, lift out the foil along with the slab of brownies. Remove foil and cut brownies.

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Quick Garlic-Parmesan Chicken

Quick Garlic-Parmesan Chicken

Was hungry NOW. Usually when I’m hungry NOW, I end up filling up on cheese and crackers while I figure out what to cook for dinner. Then I start cooking. Then I eat more cheese and crackers or maybe a brownie or more than likely a couple of gigantic garlic-stuffed olives that I keep in my fridge for emergencies.

But I’ve been watching my weight, so I figured if I could fix dinner fast, I’d avoid the extra pre-dinner calorie gorge. Skinless, boneless chicken thighs were awaiting. (Thighs cook quickly when untucked and opened flat, butterfly style.) So, I narrowed it down to either lemon chicken or, hmmm, Parmesan chicken.

Parm chicken won because I just happened to have a chunk of Wisconsin’s own Sartori SarVecchio Parmesan in my refrigerator. It’s rather awesome. It has big sharpish taste and that same crystalline-crunch of Parmigiano-Reggiano. (I buy local not to just buy local, but because it tastes remarkable).

I also had a little bit of grated Parmesan in the fridge, too. You know. Green can o’ Parmesan. Couldn’t resist combining the two. But you can use one or the other if you don’t want to use both.

I served the chicken with pasta tossed in pesto. And a salad. And now I’m happy.

Here’s my recipe. It serves 6. Guess what I’m bringing for lunch tomorrow?

Quick Garlic-Parmesan Chicken  

1/4 cup butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup fine bread crumbs (I used a fine grater to make my own crumbs with a piece—the heel—of a loaf of multigrain bread. You can use Panko or purchased bread crumbs, too.)
3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan (green can)
2 Tbsp. freshly shredded Parmesan
Coupla shakes Italian seasoning
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 lb. skinless, boneless, chicken thighs (6 thighs) 

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine butter and garlic in a small skillet. Heat (low) until butter melts. In a bowl combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, and pepper.

2. Dip chicken in garlic butter (both sides), then into crumb mixture to coat. Put chicken in a 9×13 baking pan. Drizzle with remaining garlic butter. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes or so, or until chicken is cooked through (165° F).

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