Sunday, December 18, 2011

Quick Cooking Polenta

This is a great quick and easy recipe to use in place of pasta or rice.  By using the microwave technique in place of stove top, you have time prepare the remainder of your meal.

 If you want to make the day ahead, cool the cooked polenta in a large flat pan.  Before serving, you can then slice and saute in olive oil, top with a little cheese or sauce... and yummy eats are there before you!  OR, if you want to serve a soft polenta with a sauce on top, add extra liquid to make 'softer', and just keep it covered for an hour or so before you want to serve.  You can also keep it warm in the oven while the rest of the mail is prepared.  I hope you enjoy!  Also, send me any comments, as I love to here how these recipes work in your kitchen!

Baked Polenta

This is a technique, not a precise recipe

Quick Cooking Polenta
Liquid:  chicken stock or water
2 or more tablespoons butter
Grated Cheese  (Jack, Swiss, Cheddar, Parmesan), optional and amount depends on the amount of polenta you are preparing.  (1/4 – 1 cup)

Grated Parmesan cheese for topping.

Using instruction on package, measure out dry polenta and water or stock. 
Add salt as per package directions and 2 - 4 Tablespoons butter. 

Preparation techniques:  following package directions, you can make on stove top.

 Alternative preparation method is to place casserole or glass pan in microwave oven (turn off turntable if you have this feature on microwave).  Microwave on high for 10 minutes.  Stir. Cook another 5 minutes.  Stir. Cook another 5 minutes Repeat.  The 3rd time you remove from the microwave, check the liquid. Depending on your polenta, you may need to add additional liquid.  At this time add grated cheese. 

Cook another 1 – 2 times, each for 5 minutes.  Stir after each 5 minute increment.  Taste to check when the polenta has your preferred consistency. 

When cooked to your satisfaction, top the dish with parmesan cheese and place under broiler to brown.  Serve.

NOTE:  For each 1-cup dry polenta, use ½ cup of grated cheese and 1 tsp salt You do not have to make the entire box of polenta!  Also, I like to replace the water with chicken stock.  This makes it more flavorful. 

Leftovers.  Slice thinly and fry in olive oil.  Top with cheese, pesto or marinara sauce.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pumpkin Soup

It's time to get ready for Thanksgiving and all the fun cooking and culinary traditions that have special food memories for our family.  One frequently requested dish is Pumpkin Soup.  This is spectacular when served in a scooped out pumpkin, using it as your soup tureen.  Enjoy!!

Pumpkin Soup

16 ounces canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
10 cups chicken stock
1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg, freshly grated, to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Sugar, to taste
2 cups half-and-half

Curry powder (optional)
Toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish (optional)

Sauté the celery and onion in the butter until tender, but not brown.

Simmer the tapioca in 2 cups of the chicken stock until tender, about 8 minutes.  Stir this regularly while cooking.  Set aside.

Method A:  If using an immersion blender:  Place the pumpkin into a 6 quart soup pot.  Add the celery and onion along with a bit of the chicken stock and puree until smooth

Method B:  If using a blender:  Blend the celery and onion with 1 cup of the stock until smooth.  Add this to the pumpkin into a 6 quart soup pot.   

Into the kettle with the pumpkin, celery and onion, add all the remaining chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Be careful that you do not burn this soup.

Add the tapioca, nutmeg, salt, pepper and sugar, all to taste. 

If using curry powder, this is the time to add to the pot. 

When hot and ready to serve, add the half-and-half and correct the seasoning. 

This is spectacular when served in a scooped out pumpkin, using it as your soup tureen. 

NOTE:  if you want to use fresh pumpkin, use 2 ½ pounds fresh pumpkin, cleaned and peeled.  Cut into large pieces and steam until tender, about 45 minutes.  Or, you can bake the pieces until tender.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lamb Cacciatore

Are you ready for a "hit out of the park" dish???  This is it.. so enjoy!  (wish I had a picture, but we ate it too fast!)

Lamb Cacciatore

Kathleen Barnett

Serves 6

This is a classic stew from Italy and a favorite for the fall.  It is a braised dish and the sauce is flavored with anchovies.  Don’t let that put you off as they finish the sauce and your guest will say…”this is great!”.

3 lbs boneless lamb
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Flour for browning
½ cup olive oil
2 large carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, rough chop
3 fresh sage leaves, chopped,  or 1 teaspoon dried sage
1 long sprig fresh rosemary, chopped

1 cup beef stock
¼ cup red wine
¼ cup red wine or balsamic vinegar

6 anchovy fillets OR 2 teaspoons anchovy paste

Pre heat oven to 375°

Cut the lamb into 2-inch cubes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Dredge the lamb in flour.  Heat the olive oil in large casserole or dutch oven, and in batches,  brown the lamb on all sides.  As done, transfer into a holding plate. 

Into pan, add carrots, celery and onion and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic, sage and rosemary and continue to cook for 1 minute.  Add stock, wine and vinegar to deglaze pan.  Bring to a boil, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan; then add lamb into pan.  Cover and braise in the oven until tender.  Check at 45 minutes and every 15 minutes thereafter, about 1 ½ hours maximum.   

Mash anchovies, or stir in anchovy paste into small about of the sauce.  Return to the casserole, stir well and continue to cook another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and taste for seasoning before serving.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hip Huggers

 Yuppp… these just go right to the hips.  Not only because they are so calorie laden, but because you can’t stop eating them!  This is a recipe I developed in the early 1980’s for school bake sales.  They were a hit then and now.  ENJOY!!

Hip Huggers

By Kathleen Barnett
Cradle Mountain Kitchen

1 (14 oz) can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
6 tbsp. butter
6 oz (small package) chocolate chips
Dash salt
1 tsp. vanilla

1 ½ cup brown sugar
¾ cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 ¾ cup flour
1 3/4 cup oatmeal
1 tsp. vanilla

Optional:  ½ cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a 9 X 13 inch baking pan.

Heat milk, 6 tablespoons butter and chocolate chips together until melted.  Add dash salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Set aside.

Mix together all remaining ingredients (except nuts).  Press 2/3 of oatmeal mixture into the greased pan.  Top with the chocolate mixture (try to put more in the pan than you taste!). 

Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture on top.  If desired, add ½ cup chopped nuts.

Bake 25 minutes then cool for a few hours before cutting into small squares.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Red Bell Pepper Bisque

September has an abundance of beautiful, fresh red bell peppers in the grocery stores and farmers markets.  They are at their height of sweetnes so load up on them!  (Also full of vitamin C)

Here is a great easy way bisque to make and pop into your freezer for a yummy soup on a cold winter's night!  Make it a little more substantial by adding some cooked shrimp or crab!

Red Bell Pepper Bisque
Serves 4 as a main course

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, peeled and copped
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 red bell peppers (about 1 ¾ pounds total), seeded, de-ribbed, chopped into 1 inch pieces
4 cups chicken stock
¼ cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2/3 cup crème fraiche, or sour cream, for garnish

Heat heavy 4 quart pot over medium high heat.  Add the olive oil and carrot, onion and celery.  Sauté until carrot turns bright orange and onion is translucent, about 8 minutes.  Stir in 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and the bell peppers.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until peppers start to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add enough stock to cover vegetables and bring to a rolling boil.  Reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer until all vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes

Removed from heat and blend using an immersion blender or a stand blender.  (Use caution as the mixture is very hot.  Start with a low speed and gradually increase.)  If desired, strain pureed soup through a medium-mesh strainer. 

Stir in the cream and season to taste with salt, pepper and additional cayenne is desired. 

If necessary, gently reheat the soups over low heat, stirring constantly.  Garnish with a drizzle of crème fraiche or sour cream.

COOKS NOTES:  If you are going to freeze, do not add the cream.  Just add when you thaw and serve. 
Also, don't strain and the soup has a little more texture. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kathleen’s Basic Rice Pilaf

Kathleen’s Basic Rice Pilaf

This is a family favorite.  It works wonderful with and grilled or roasted meat.  It also holds well for an hour or two in the oven while you finish making dinner!

On medium heat in sauté pan w/ lid
Melt                 1 cube of butter

Add                 1 cup crushed vermicelli

Brown until golden

Add                 2 cups white rice (or basmati rice which holds it’s shape better)

                        3 – 103/4 oz. Cans of broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable)

Simmer 30 – 40 minutes

May also add chopped and sauté mushrooms or onions

Serves 6 – 8

Kathleen Barnett

Quick Chicken Supreme

This is such a good recipe for a rushed week night or a crowd on a Saturday night.  I don't remember where the original recipe;e came from.... but I found it about 30 years ago!!!!  Add this to your recipe collection!!!

Quick Chicken Supreme

Serves 4


½ cup bread crumbs

4 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley

3 cloves minced garlic

1 lemon rind, grated  grated

 Salt & pepper, to taste

4 tablespoons Dijon mustard

4 skinned & boned chicken breast

2 tablespoons melted butter

Pre-heat oven to 375º.

Mix bread crumbs, parsley, garlic, lemon rind and salt & pepper. 

Coat chicken with mustard.  Pat on bread crumb coating

Place in baking pan.  Drizzle with melted butter

Bake for 20 – 30 minutes or until cooked through.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

 (This is a post from my garden blog, and I wanted to share it here.  Red peppers are in abundance right now, so if you find some on sale or in quantity at the farmer's market... try roasting them!!)

Looking at these beautiful red peppers.... I feel like a proud mama!  These have been a huge success.  With the weather staying consistently warm, these red peppers are coming into their own.  If you have the room, make a note to yourself to plant red bell peppers next spring.  When you slice into a fresh from the garden pepper, it makes a "crack" sound unlike anything you'll ever get from a grocery store pepper.... and the smell..... yummy!

I'm grilling these and freezing for 'fire roasted red peppers' all year long.

*** Grill or roast in a hot oven.  Then put into a paper bag and close tightly for 20 minutes.  Remove the skins and seeds.  Lay flat on cookie sheet to freeze.  Place in zip seal bag once frozen and don't forget to label the bag.  Another option:  instead of freezing, put into a jar with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and keep in the frig... eat or use within a few weeks....YUMMY.

Simple Tomato Sauce

Getting some children to eat vegetables can be tricky.  So I'm a big believer in tricking them!!  This quick and easy tomato sauce can be loaded up with grated vegetables to increase their intake of fiber and vitamins. 

Tomatoes are  loaded with lycopene -- a substance that protects against many cancers. Cooking tomatoes makes them even healthier because the heat releases the lycopene. Also, pairing tomato foods with a good fat, like olive oil, helps the body absorb more.


Simple Tomato Sauce
Makes about 2 cups

This is a quick and easy tomato sauce that you can adjust to suit your family’s taste. The red pepper is optional.  If you have an extra tomato on hand you can add to the canned tomatoes to brighten the flavor.

Basic Sauce

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
4--5 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
½ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil leaves
Salt and black pepper

Pulse the tomatoes in a food processor in  10 --1 second pulses; set aside.
Cook the garlic, tomato paste, pepper flakes(optional) and oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until tomato paste begins to brown, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the pureed tomatoes and sugar and cook until thickened, about 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
This hold in the refrigerator for several days.

This is an easy recipe to supplement from what you have in the kitchen.  Grated carrots or zucchini (1/4 cup) can be added with the garlic to increase the fiber and vitamins.  Minced parsley is a bright addition to the basil.  Whole or chopped tomatoes can be used in place of canned diced tomatoes or use fresh. 

I like to use tomato paste in the tube.  You squeeze out what you need so there is no waste in using a partial can of paste.

To make this into a dipping sauce, cook about 45 minutes or until the desired consistency.

Cradle Mountain Kitchen

Sunday, September 18, 2011



Super Foods for Your Child

Kathleen Barnett
Eggs    Eggs offer protein, and they're one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. Eating protein at breakfast helps kids feel satisfied longer (no mid-morning hunger pangs)
Oatmeal     Research shows that kids who eat oatmeal are better able to concentrate and pay attention in school. Fiber-rich whole grains, like oatmeal, digest slowly, providing kids with a steady stream of energy.
Fruit…..Any fruit is good for your child, providing essential vitamins and minerals. Fruit also has fiber, which keeps kids regular. To reap the nutritional benefits, aim to eat a variety of fruits, like berries, melon, kiwifruit, and oranges.
Nuts     Nuts are made up of healthy fats, which kids need for growth and development, as well as for heart health. Having a little bit of “good” fat in the morning gives your kids a burst of energy to keep them going.
Milk     Protein and calcium in dairy products provide fuel for the brain and body. Protein helps build brain tissue, while milk's calcium keeps kids' bones and teeth strong.
Blueberries     They've ranked among the healthiest fruits for years (go, antioxidants!). Now research suggests that in addition to protecting against heart disease and diabetes and improving brain function, blueberries may also help reduce visceral "toxic" belly fat -- a type of fat that has been linked to obesity and metabolic syndrome. Ways to get them in your kid's diet: They're a natural go-with breakfast choice (say, tossed into a bowl of granola and milk) and are also great in summer salads and desserts.

Tomatoes     They're loaded with lycopene -- a substance that protects against many cancers. Cooking tomatoes makes them even healthier because the heat releases the lycopene. Hint: Pairing tomato-y foods with a good fat, like olive oil, helps the body absorb more. Ways to get them in your kid's diet: Pizza and pasta sauces are obvious choices, or add tomato sauce to turkey meatballs or meatloaf if you need to
Low-Fat Greek Yogurt     It contains healthy bacteria known to boost immunity and aid digestion, and has two to three times the amount of protein and less sugar than regular yogurt. Add a drizzle of honey (after age 1) for sweetness, a bit of maple syrup, or try a squeeze of agave syrup (a sweetener with a lower glycemic index, so it won't make your child's blood sugar -- and energy level -- spike and then crash soon after breakfast).
Cabbage     It has a mild flavor and crunch that kids tend to like better than the usual salad greens. And cruciferous veggies such as cabbage, broccoli, and kale contain phytonutrients known to lower the risk for many types of cancer, as well as improve digestion. It also helps clear harmful toxins from the body by triggering the release of enzymes whose job it is to whisk them out. Ways to get it in your kid's diet: Make coleslaw with low-fat mayo; shred and toss it into soups or Asian noodle dishes.  Cut into strips to use as a finger food. 
Salmon     It contains heart-healthy omega-3 fats, which are also known to boost brain development, fend off depression, and have superb anti-inflammatory powers. Be sure to pick the wild kind, which is lower in mercury and higher in omega-3's. Best way to get your kid to eat it: Pair salmon with ingredients he already likes. Glaze salmon fillets with orange juice or brush them with teriyaki sauce. Or serve it as salmon cakes, burgers, or salad.
Black Beans     Beans are a great source of protein, as well as fiber and calcium -- two things kids tend not to get enough. Make nachos or quesadillas with black beans, cheese, and salsa; try black-bean veggie burgers, or whip up black-bean hummus.
Cinnamon     Research shows that this spice can help regulate blood sugar, which may also minimize those all-too-common mid-morning energy crashes . Ways to get it in your kid's diet: Sprinkle it on oatmeal, pancakes, cold cereal, and yogurt, and add a few extra dashes of cinnamon to muffin or quick-bread recipes that call for it.

Lunch Time Ideas

The daily task of packing a lunch for your little moppet can be overwhelming some mornings.  Here are some basics that will help you send your child off with a lunch she may actually eat!!

  • Prepare your child. Talk with your child about nutrition and the importance of developing a healthy body.
  • MOMICKING.  Set an example for your children. What do they see you eat and drink?
  • Eat a Good Breakfast.  A health breakfast is the most important mean for your child’s energy level all day long. 
  • Involve your child. Children of all ages can help with menu planning, shopping, and preparing meals. Children who feel they have had a part preparing the meal will be more likely to eat it.
  • Introduce a wide variety of foods. Offer a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Offer a few teaspoons of each at every dinner. Even if your child eats only two bites, he will understand that these are the foods that make up a healthy diet. When he starts wanting more than two bites, expand your offerings to include more foods. As your child grows, increase serving sizes.
  • Experiment with old favorites. Offer a new food with a familiar one. Applaud adventurous eating.
  • Offer the same food prepared in different ways. Offer foods alone and prepared in combination with other ingredients. Cut foods in different ways. Try carrot sticks one day and carrot coins another.
  • Don't Give Up. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, many children will not accept a new food until it has been offered at least ten times. Continue to offer new foods until your child considers them familiar.
  • Introduce foods one bite or several bites at a time. Some children become overwhelmed by large quantities of food on their plate. Others will feel more successful if they can finish a small quantity of food you have provided, so keep portions small.
  • Serve vegetables and new foods as an appetizer. If vegetables and new foods are served last or with other foods, children can easily fill themselves up and leave vegetables behind. Start dinner, for example, with two green beans and two carrots or a green salad as a starter. When everyone has finished their, serve the rest of the meal. Consider serving fruits with the meal or saving them for dessert.
  • Institute the “two-bite” rule by eating two bites of each item on their plate. Remember that children's food preferences change frequently. What they don't like on Wednesday might be a great hit on Friday or vice versa.
  • Don't become a short-order cook. Prepare only one meal for the entire family. At first your child may refuse to eat dinner. Remain calm, stand firm, and ignore tantrums. Your child will not die of hunger from skipping a meal, but will likely come to the next meal with a healthy appetite and a willingness to eat what is served. Allow each family member to plan one dinner a week. Doing so will ensure that everyone has at least one dinner to look forward to.
  • Don't make a big deal when your child rejects a food. Stay cool and reaffirm the boundaries you have established by insisting that your child eat two bites before leaving the table. Don't let your child engage you in a power struggle.
  • Give your child a choice. Give your child some choices within the boundaries you establish. For example, instead of asking, “What do you want for lunch?” ask “Would you like a turkey sandwich, or a quesadilla?”
  • Encourage children to bring home their lunch leftovers. Looking at leftover lunches is a great way to get information about your children's lunch preferences. Find out why certain foods have come back uneaten. Did your child not like it? Was she not hungry enough to eat everything in the lunchbox? Was there a birthday celebration at school that day? Did she share someone else's lunch instead? Maintain a dialogue without criticizing. Consider making a list of foods that your child likes to eat for lunch and update it regularly with input from your child.. Providing a dip for carrot and celery sticks might make eating them more fun.