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Overnight Carrot Soup

by Jane Wangersky December 18th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions, Soups & Stews
bowl of carrot soupI really didn’t think this one was going to be a keeper. Maybe months later, I thought, I’d look back and laugh and write about it as one of my near misses (read: disasters). When I took my first taste of this soup I’d just invented, all I got was bitterness. But I’m the kind of person who really hates to throw away food when it’s technically edible, so I just put the whole pot in the fridge to postpone the final decision till the next day. And when I tasted it then, I ended up eating half of
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Southwestern Pork Stew

by Jane Wangersky December 11th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions, Soups & Stews
pork stew (400x400)This is a stew recipe for people who don’t like making stew. With a limit of four ingredients, I needed to make the process simpler too, and you can’t get much simpler than this.  No flouring the meat, no measuring spices, no need for stock or broth, no thickening the gravy, you don’t even have to peel the potatoes. The liquid, vegetables, and seasoning all come out of one can -- of flavored diced tomatoes, the beginning cook’s friend -- and still this is very much a homemade dish.

I found the pork shoulder for sale already cubed, labeled “sweet
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Winter Green Soup with Garlic

by Jane Wangersky December 4th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
winter green soup (400x400)No, I’m not talking about the herb wintergreen, as in wint-o-green Lifesavers. (Though they’re one of my favorite flavors, and yes, they do shoot sparks if you crunch them in a dark room.)  I’m talking about cabbage and spinach, two of those old reliable, unexciting green vegetables that stay with us through the winter.

And I’m talking about soup because it’s the cold, dark, sometimes discouraging season for it. Soup is not only comforting. It fills you up, often with fewer calories than solid food, and hydrates you. It also keeps all its nutrients instead of losing them when the
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Thanksgiving Improv: Spinach Pinwheels

by Jane Wangersky November 27th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
spinach pinwheels (400x400)Happy Thanksgiving! Though if you’re reading this on Thanksgiving Day itself, you probably have some last-minute gap in your holiday dinner. Not to worry -- so did I, and I’ll tell you what I did.

Here in Canada, Thanksgiving comes in October. This year, unfortunately, it also came just after I’d been sick for several days. I had the turkey, cranberries, stuffing ingredients, and sweet potatoes, not to mention (almost) everything for pumpkin pie -- but I hadn’t been able to go out for fresh vegetables, and everyone else was too busy. So there I was on the morning of
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Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar Carrot Stuffing

by Jane Wangersky November 20th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
sweet potato (400x400)Sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping are a holiday food that cause just about as much disagreement as fruitcake – maybe more, because lots of people actually like this sweet potato dish. Others . . . well, I remember reading a Thanksgiving cookbook whose author had meant to put in a recipe for them, but, as she wrote, just couldn't bring herself to do it.

Still, for many families, sweet potatoes in some form are just part of Thanksgiving. And of course there are other ways to cook them. You can always just bake them like regular potatoes, but there are
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Cranberry-Ginger Relish

by Jane Wangersky November 13th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
cranberry relishAs Thanksgiving gets nearer (for those of you in the U.S., anyway -- in Canada, we had it last month, so you get the benefit of my recent experience), you probably know you’re expected to serve cranberries in some form. You may think your only choices are canned cranberry sauce, shaped exactly like the inside of the can, or homemade cranberry sauce, which you carefully concoct from fresh cranberries and boiling syrup. But there’s another option that’s fresh, homemade, and no-cook: Cranberry relish.

I discovered cranberry relish a few years ago while writing reviews of Thanksgiving cookbooks. You’ll find recipes
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Easy Stuffed Eggplant

by Jane Wangersky November 6th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
eggplantEggplant is one of those foods, like fish, that people think they don’t like, but it’s really got a lot going for it -- a mild taste that goes with countless other foods, a shape and texture that can be transformed into almost anything you want, a Mediterranean background, plenty of fiber, relatively short cooking time -- and, contrary to popular belief, you don’t really have to salt it or squeeze out the juices to make it palatable. With all this in mind, I hit on eggplant when I was looking for some fresh ingredient to bring
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Sugar and Smoke Ham

by Jane Wangersky October 30th, 2014| Simple Solutions
hamUsually, the only reason I buy cooked ham is to slice it up for sandwiches -- unsliced ham is half the price of sliced -- but the last time I went grocery shopping, bone-in cooked ham was on sale, so it was time to figure out how to turn it into a dinner. Actually, I had done that before with boneless ham, but always by cutting the ham into nice neat slices, or cubes to scatter over pasta, and browning it quickly. The bone was going to make that more difficult -- might as well just leave it in.

A
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Quick Beef Stroganoff — From Scratch

by Jane Wangersky October 23rd, 2014| Simple Solutions
file4531272158954Beef Stroganoff has taken lots of different forms over the past 150 years since the recipe was first published. The only constants have been -- obviously -- the beef (cubes, strips, even ground beef) and sour cream, whether just a little or a lot. Those are the two tastes everyone expects from a dish by this name.

Though you can make quick versions of beef Stroganoff from mushroom soup, or even, ahem, Hamburger Helper, this recipe is just as quick and much shorter on processed ingredients. (Yes, it uses powdered beef bouillon. If that bothers you, try using a few
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Pork Loin Filled with Apricot-Cranberry Stuffing

by BnB Finder October 21st, 2014| Best BnB Bites, Recipes
Pork LoinStuffing is not just for turkey, and it doesn't have to consist mainly of breadcrumbs. In this recipe, pork chops are stuffed with a sweet and tart fruit (and breadcrumb) filling that sets off their mild flavor. They're first browned for crispness, then baked to cook them through with a minimum of fuss. Meanwhile, you're making a simple sauce out of fresh ingredients to finish off the dish. Though this all takes preparation, it's worth it for a special occasion at home. From the Castle in the Country in Allegan, Michigan, a great place for a celebration
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Lemon Pepper Tuna Cakes

by Jane Wangersky October 16th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
file00041689699Canned tuna has a lowbrow reputation -- we think it's good mainly for quick lunches, especially to take to work or school, or maybe retro casseroles swimming in canned soup. But if you read Tin Fish Gourmet by Barbara-Jo McIntosh, you’ll see that tuna and other canned fish has way more potential. Here’s a simple dish I’ve been making for years; it varies according to what I’ve got in the house, but this version makes a nice end-of-summer supper.

If you like crab cakes, these are much more affordable. If you’re secretly craving something at the other end of the
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Seafood Gumbo

by BnB Finder October 14th, 2014| Best BnB Bites, Recipes
Seafood Gumbo - CopyGumbo is much more than soup, and this gumbo is special enough for a Sunday dinner, even if you're having guests. Shrimp, crab, and oysters come together in a thick, rich, spicy base. It will take patience, especially if you've never made roux (a flour-fat base for soup or sauce), but it's worth it. Unlike the usual lard-based Cajun roux, this one uses vegetable oil, which you're more likely to have on hand. It's from the Fuquay Mineral Spring Inn and Garden Bed & Breakfast in Wake County, North Carolina, a designated landmark convenient to Raleigh and Chapel Hill.

 

 

 

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