Wednesday, September 29, 2010


When I started this blog almost a year ago I was going to share my recipe for apple bread but opted for pumpkin instead because I thought the apple was too fussy for an introductory post. Apples are a fussy fruit. First of all there are so many varieties and if you're not familiar with their qualities, you never know what kind to buy. Secondly, if you're cooking with apples, more than likely they have to be peeled and sliced or chopped. Time consuming. And of course, then they oxidize and turn brown. Let's put these negatives aside and dive into a tasty apple quick bread that's very forgiving and tastes great. Set aside time for peeling, grating and clean up and you'll be very happy you put forth the effort. Plus, the re-mix offers a lot of choices.

Apple Quick Bread
Makes 2 loaves (4 1/2 x 8 inch pans, measured on the top)
Cooking spray
1 T AP flour for dusting loaf pans
1 cup AP flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup quick or old fashioned oats, ground in food processor or spice grinder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
1 cup Splenda No Calorie Sweetner
4 large eggs, room temperature
1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 cups peeled, grated apples (I used 3 large MacIntosh)
Juice of 1 lemon
Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Prep 2 loaf pans with cooking spray and a light dusting of flour. In medium size bowl combine AP flour, whole wheat flour and ground oats. Add salt, baking soda and cinnamon and whisk to incorporate. Grate apples in food processor or use a hand grater and squeeze lemon over the fruit to eliminate browning. In large bowl combine canola oil, butter and both sugars. Mix for 3-5 minutes (I use a simple hand mixer). Add eggs and vanilla. Mix until mixture is smooth and luscious. Slowly add flour mixture. Don't over mix. Fold in grated apples and turn into prepared loaf pans. Bake 50 to 60 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pans on wire rack 15 minutes. Remove from loaf pans and continue to cool on wire rack. Slice and enjoy. This bread is great with butter and even better with cream cheese.

Re-mix and tips: If you don't have whole wheat flour or oats, use all AP flour. The recipe works fine. Granny Smith and Fuji apples are a great substitute for the Macs. And if you have any no-sugar-added applesauce in the house, toss in 1/2 cup before you mix in the dry ingredients- more flavor, more moisture. By the way, this recipe also works with 2 large eggs and 1/2 cup of egg substitute. If you like nuts, add 1 cup of your favorite (chopped). And if you're a raisin fan add a cup of those too. Apple Raisin Nut Bread is deliciously dense and hearty. You must try it toasted. And if you want to get a bit decadent, add a streusel-like topping: 1/2 cup of AP flour or ground oats, 1/2 cup Splenda No Calorie Sweetner, 4 T butter, 1 tsp ground cinnamon and 1/4 cup chopped nuts.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thai Red Curry Stew...The Sequal

When it comes to cooking and creating in the kitchen I often develop Obsessive Compulsive Recipe Disorder. I went through that when I discovered Panko and more recently with my Red Curry Chicken Vegetable Stew. I couldn't get enough of that tasty dish which I devoured in no time, and had to have it again 2 days later. There were a few changes I decided to make and a new technique I thought I'd try on this go-round. I wanted to cut back slightly on the amount of coconut milk and cook the rice in the same pot as the stew- so this would truly be a "one pot" meal.

Being the frugal cook that I am, I hated discarding 1/2 a can of coconut milk (that's why I used 1 full cup in the last recipe) but Google informed me that I could freeze what I didn't use. How convenient. So I cut back on the milk. And then the rice element...well, I have a hard time making a properly cooked pot of brown rice (I always burn the bottom) and decided to use a bag of Success Rice and cook it directly in the broth. Success was achieved. The rice not only came out perfect, but the starch in the rice thickened the liquid/broth to perfection. And by now you've guessed I added ground cayenne pepper and changed the vegetables too. Well, snow peas and red peppers were on sale. What's a gal to do?

Thai Red Curry Chicken and Vegetable Stew #2

1 T canola oil
1 cup onion finely chopped (1/4 cup more than last time)
1 T Thai Red Curry Paste
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/2 -1 tsp ground cayenne pepper (I used 1 tsp)
1/2 cup lite coconut milk
1 14.5 oz can fat free chicken broth
1/2 cup water
2 T fish sauce
1 T brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 bone in chicken thighs, skinned
1 bag Success Brown Rice (I used the small size but the large would work equally as well)
2 red peppers sliced in 1/2 inch strips
1 8 oz bag of snow peas
1 8 oz package of sliced mushrooms
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat oil in large pot over medium low heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes until onions are soft and translucent. Add garlic, curry paste and cayenne pepper. Cook for one minute. Add coconut milk, broth, water, fish sauce, brown sugar, salt and black pepper. Stir to combine and bring to boil. Add chicken and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 35 minutes. Remove chicken to a separate plate and add the bag of Success rice. While rice is cooking (uncovered), shred chicken and set aside. Cook rice 10 minutes and remove. Add mushrooms and red pepper strips to liquid and cook 10 minutes (covered). Add the snow peas, cook 2 minutes. When snow peas are done, place chicken back in pot, add lemon juice and stir. Dinner is ready. And this is one GREAT one-pot meal.

Monday, September 13, 2010

From a cold nose to an Asian stew

It seems that summer is saying good-bye to those of us in New England. I left my bedroom windows open on Saturday night and reality hit when I awoke Sunday morning with a cold nose and a strong desire for my electric blanket. My first thought was that I needed to do some shopping for fall clothes. But then I quickly switched gears and realized it's once again time for some comfort food. I have to admit I've been getting tired of the grilled fish and salad routine and the thought of spending time in the kitchen was more enticing than looking at clothing styles I don't even like. So I perused my pantry and decided to make a variation of my mom's stewed chicken. An Asian variation. I've had this half-used jar of Thai Red Curry Paste in my fridge that became the inspiration for this stew/soup. The dish turned out milder than I expected due to the rich coconut milk, but very tasty. And with the possibilities of additional spices and different vegetables this is a versatile meal that you can adjust depending on who you're dining with. Also, I had all the ingredients at home, but they are readily available in the Asian aisle of most supermarkets, and their shelf lives are long lasting. And one more thing, this recipe is simple and quick. The only work I did was chop the garlic, open a few cans and pre-washed vegetables in bags. And did I mention this meal is delicious?

Red Curry Chicken and Vegetable Stew

1 T canola oil
3/4 cup onion finely chopped (I use the frozen already chopped-no more tears)
1 T Thai Red Curry Paste (comes in a 4 oz jar)
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 cup lite coconut milk (it comes in a can)
1 14.5 oz can 99% fat free chicken broth
2 T fish sauce (in the Asian aisle)
1 T brown sugar
1 tsp salt
4 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
1 15 oz can cut baby corn drained
1 12oz bag green beans, halved
8 oz sliced mushrooms
juice of 1/2 lemon

2 cups cooked brown rice

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes until translucent and softened. Add curry paste and garlic and cook one minute. Do not let the garlic burn. Add coconut milk, chicken stock, fish sauce, sugar and salt. Bring mixture to a boil. Add the chicken, cover and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook 30 minutes. Add vegetables and cook 10 minutes more. Turn off heat and remove chicken to a separate plate. Squeeze in the lemon juice and stir. I like to shred the chicken so I let it cool slightly and once shredded I add it back to the soup/stew. I serve this in bowls with a half cup of brown rice piled in the center. If I had cilantro I'd have sprinkled it as a garnish.

As I mentioned earlier, if you're looking for heat, you can do a lot to this recipe to fire it up since the coconut milk does tame it. I'd add 1/2 tsp of ground cayenne pepper or 1 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes when you're cooking the garlic. A teaspoon of Sambal Olek garnish on top of the rice is a nice touch too. Now let's talk about the various veggies you can use. How about sliced zucchini, sno peas, bok choy, canned bamboo shoots, canned water chestnuts or carrot rounds?

However you make this Red Curry Stew, I bet you'll see clean plates all around. Enjoy!