Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Late Night Pizza

By Zachary Penrod

The pizza pictured here is not my "best" pie, but rather my "fastest" pie.

It stemmed from a unanimous, but unforeseen need for pizza. This need arose after a fabulous night of celebrating Sara's birthday with friends, but unfortunately late night pizza is far less available in the suburbs. When the birthday girl wants pizza the birthday girl gets pizza...and so I sprang into action whipping up a quick pie in under 30 minutes.

This recipe for the dough is super quick because there is no yeast, and therefore no need to proof or rise the dough.  

The one in the picture was topped with a spicy pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella, pepperoni, and then some fresh mozzarella.  It wasn't my prettiest or most circular pie, but it definitely the fastest from start to finish.

1 cup flour
1 t baking powder
1/3 cup milk
2 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup corn meal
1 egg
Herbes de Provence
(Toppings of choice)

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. If you are using a pizza stone (experienced pizza makers only), it should be in your oven to heat at the same time;
2. Mix all ingredients, except the corn meal and egg, in a bowl and stir vigorously until the dough pulls from the sides;
3. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes;
4.  Sprinkle the cornmeal liberally on your working surface and work the dough into a 13-inch  circle. You can use a roller or your knuckles, but this dough turns out better if it’s worked instead of stretched;
5. If you are an experienced pizza maker, place the pizza on your pizza paddle, cutting board, or the back of a cookie tray (you’ll need to slide from here to your pizza stone!).  If you’re a pizza novice you can make and cook the pizza on the flat side of a cookie tray to avoid the expert pizza sliding maneuver;
6. Beat the egg and brush it onto the outer inch of the pizza crust;
7. Sprinkle your herbes de provence on the egg covered crust.  You can also sprinkle some sea salt and cracked black pepper on the crust if you like.
8. Finish the pizza with your favorite combination of sauce, cheese and toppings;
9.  Experienced pizza makers can then transfer the pie onto the pizza stone with one swift sliding motion.  The novice crowd can simply place the pizza in the oven on the upside down cookie tray;
10. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until the pizza looks and smells done.

Click here for recipe card.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas cookies

By Paul Briand

In the spirit of the season, I wanted to offer up two

archived links to Christmas cookies recipes that have been in our family for a long, long time.

I don't bake, so I leave it to my Mom, my sister Margaret, and my sister Ella to meet the Christmas cookie need each year.

Here's a Bird's Nest Cookie recipe from Margaret.

And here's a Chocolate Crinkles recipe from Ella.

Both originated with my mother Marge.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lemon Shrimp On Rice

By Paul Briand

One way or the other, I planned to do a shrimp recipe for this week.

And I had two in mind: This Lemon Shrimp On Rice, which came as part of a coupon book from the supermarket where I food shop; and a Puff Pastry-Wrapped Jumbo Shrimp recipe that I found cruising the web.

My wife Jane preferred the pastry-wrapped shrimp -- with its garlic and herb spread and bacon and buttery puff pastry.

I decided on the lemon shrimp for the simple reason of getting on on the scale Monday morning and not liking what I saw.

This is pretty simple and low fat, and I adapted it here from the original.

I’m sure I’ll get to the puff pastry shrimp recipe soon.

1 cup of your favorite rice (enough to make for four servings)
1 cup of low-sodium chicken broth
1 ¼ cup water
1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil)
2 cloves minced garlic
Red pepper flakes to taste (1/8 to ¼ teaspoon)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 pound prepared cooked shrimp (the larger the better)
1 lemon, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro

1. Make sure the prepared shrimp is fully thawed, at room temperature and dry;
2. Cook the rice according to normal instructions, but bringing the cup of broth and the cup and a quarter of water to a boil;
3. Add the butter, garlic, red pepper and lemon zest, stir;
4. Add the rice, stir, cover and turn the heat to low;
5. Simmer rice the normal cooking time until done;
6. Stir in the shrimp and lemon slices;
7. Cover, remove from heat and let sit for three minutes;
8. Top mixture with cilantro and serve.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Speedy Pasta In A Pan

By Paul Briand

I’m a news hound, and I have a variety of apps on my BlackBerry smartphone and my Apple iPod Touch to browse headlines and read stories.

I’m also a recipe hound. And there’s an app for that too: Foodily.

I’ve been using the Foodily app on my iPod Touch for a few weeks. Foodily compiles recipes, and, if you see one you like, it connects you to its original source. I recently connected with this recipe for Speedy Pasta In A Pan.

It worked out well, and gives me yet another source of recipes to satisfy my need to find something interesting, something fun to cook and eat at home.

Note: When it says use large skillet, use a very large skillet. You may even want to use a pot. This recipe creates a pretty good sized bulk of sauce, pasta and cheese.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 14-ounce can organic, diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon each chopped fresh basil and oregano
1 pound fresh or defrosted frozen cheese ravioli
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 cups tomato sauce, homemade or store-bought
8 slices fresh mozzarella, or 3 cups shredded mozzarella

1. Heat a large nonstick pan and drizzle in the olive oil. Over medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic until golden;
2. Add the diced tomatoes, basil, and oregano. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes;
3. Remove half the tomato mixture and set aside;
4. Top the tomatoes in the pot with a layer of uncooked ravioli, then a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, a cup of the tomato sauce, and the remaining tomato mixture;
5. Nestle the last raviolis into the pan, topping with the tomato sauce and the mozzarella;
6. Cover the pan with a lid or a layer of foil and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes;
7. Let the dish relax off the heat for a few minutes to let everything settle before serving.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Turkey Sloppy Joes

By Paul Briand

It’s a challenge to extract taste while using low-fat ground turkey meat in a recipe.

So I liked the idea of this take on the tradition Sloppy Joe recipe, courtesy of a cooking segment on the Today show fearing "Top Chef" judge Padma Lakshmi.

It takes the turkey and infuses it with a lot of big taste from the garlic, shallots and bay leaves, and adds some kick with the chili-pepper flakes (and jalapenos, if you opt in on that for a topping).

If you really want to go more low fat on this recipe, substitute the hamburger buns for whole what sandwich thins. The buns will run you about 150 calories, while the thins will come in at about 100 calories.

Note: The recipe calls for two cups of hot water. I didn’t use it, didn’t need it.

2 tbsp olive oil
4 peeled whole cloves of garlic
1 cup diced shallots
1 large green bell pepper, diced
3 medium-size bay leaves
1tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp red chili-pepper flakes
1 lb ground lean turkey
28 oz can whole tomatoes
6 oz can tomato paste
2 cups hot water
Salt and pepper to taste
6 whole-wheat hamburger buns, split
Dill pickle slices and jalapeno slices, for garnish

1. Heat the olive oil over moderate heat in a deep skillet. Add garlic and stir;
2. After 2 to 3 minutes, add shallots, bell pepper, bay leaves, oregano and red chili flakes. Stir for a few minutes;
3. Add the ground turkey to the skillet and brown for 5 minutes, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon
4. Add canned tomatoes, paste and 2 cups of hot water. Stir;
5. When mixture starts to boil, lower heat and let simmer until thickened, 30 to 40 minutes;
6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir mixture occasionally, breaking up tomatoes into a rich, ragu-like consistency;
7. Add salt and pepper, to taste, then toast buns split-side down on oven rack for 6 to 8 minutes;
8. Discard bay leaves. Spoon sloppy joe mixture on buns and garnish with dill pickle slices or jalapeños.

Click here for recipe card.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Steak with Stout Sauce

By Paul Briand

A recipe with beer in it? I’m definitely in.

Rachel Forrest, the Wine Me, Dine Me food writer for, recently wrote about stout beer and the variety of ways you can use it in cooking.

A sauce for steak caught my eye.

My wife Jane, who’s not big fan of putting any type of sauce or condiment on steak, liked it, comparing it to a much heartier -- and much better -- than a Worcestershire steak sauce.

I liked it so much I used it to smother the fresh-steamed asparagus I had cooked to accompany the steak.

A couple of notes: I used four rump steaks, instead of strip steaks. Also, once the butter/flour mixture goes into the pan, the sauce is likely to thicken up quickly.

5 teaspoons Dijon mustard, divided
2 12-oz. New York strip steaks
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons all purpose flour
1 large garlic clove, pressed
½ cup low-salt beef broth
½ cup stout
1 tablespoon (packed) dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce

1. Spread 1 teaspoon mustard over steaks; sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper;
2. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook meat about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare;
3. Transfer to plate; tent with foil. Wipe out skillet;
4. Mash butter and flour in small bowl; set aside;
5. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; sauté 15 to 20 seconds;
6. Add broth; bring to boil;
7. Whisk in stout, brown sugar, soy sauce, 3 teaspoons mustard, and butter mixture. Whisk until thick and remove from heat;
8. Thinly slice steaks, divide among plates. Drizzle sauce over and serve.

Click here for recipe card.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chicken Sputnik

By Paul Briand

This is a recipe that I’d have to rank as looking better than it actually turned out.

I came across the recipe in Sunday’s Parade magazine.

The dish comes from Dash Recipes.

It gets its name, according to the story behind it, from having an out-of-the-world taste, as in Sputnik, the first satellite ever launched into space, courtesy of the Russians in 1957.

By the time all the potatoes here cooked through, the broth of chicken stock and sherry had been reduced to, basically, mashed potatoes.

I don’t think that’s the intent. It’s tasty, maybe not out-of-this-world tasty, but a little too mushy.

1 large chicken, cut into serving pieces
Salt and pepper
¼ cup flour
2 tablespoon butter (1/4 stick)
2 large onions, sliced ½ inch thick
5 large potatoes, sliced ½ inch thick
¾ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
¾ cup dry sherry
1½ cups homemade chicken broth

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and coat it with flour;
2. In a Dutch oven, sauté the chicken in butter until it is golden;
3. Layer the onions and potatoes on top of the chicken;
4. Top with the cheese, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste;
5. Add the sherry and chicken stock;
6. Cover and simmer for 2 hours, or until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through.

The recipe included a couple of cooking tips:
“Slice the onions and potatoes nice and thin so they soften during cooking.”
“If you substitute boneless, skinless chicken breasts, use half a cup (or one stick) of butter.”
“Sauté the chicken on medium-low to keep it from burning.”
“This dish requires a lot of stirring and attention. Stir it often so it doesn’t stick.”

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Apple & Sage Pork Chops

By Paul Briand

I normally shop for groceries on Monday, so Monday morning I organizemy shopping list around the meals I plan to cook for the week.

Some weeks, however, I’m completely unprepared. I go to the store, literally, with a blank slate (in this case an empty shopping list).

So I get to the store hoping that something will inspire me.

This week it was one of the aptly named “Recipe Inspirations” from McCormick Spices.

I’ve written about these before:

The packet includes a step-by-step recipe for a particular dish -- in this case Apple & Sage Pork Chops -- and provides the right dosage of each spice to accompany the dish.

Of course, if you have the spices already in your pantry you don’t need to buy the product, but I was grateful for the idea so I bought it as a way to say thanks.

1 package McCormick Recipe Inspirations Apple and Sage Pork Chops, which includes:
1 ½ teaspoons rubbed sage
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 boneless pork chops, 1-inch thick (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 red apples, thinly sliced
1/2 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1. Mix flour, all of the spices and salt in small bowl;
2. Sprinkle both sides of pork chops with 1 tablespoon of the seasoned flour;
3. Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add pork chops; brown on both sides. Remove from skillet;
4. Add onion; cook and stir 3 minutes or until tender. Add apples; cook and stir 2 minutes.
5. Stir in juice, sugar and remaining seasoned flour until well mixed;
6. Return pork chops to skillet. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 minutes or until desired doneness.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Beef and Black Bean Chili

By Paul Briand

I love chili. I rank the dish up there with meatloaf as one of my favorite comfort foods and believe, like meatloaf, that you can’t have too many different recipes for it.

I have a quick chili that I’ve made for years using jarred salsa -- my so-called Easy Chili.

And, over the years, I’ve played with other recipes involving chili, including:

As I said, you can’t have too many chili recipes.

This one is thick Texas-style chili with meat and beans.

It comes courtesy of Relish magazine, which is inserted into many newspapers across the country, including the newspaper where my wife works. She’s good enough to bring Relish home for me on a regular basis, knowing I’m always on the look out for good recipes, especially chili

3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1 (28-ounce) can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons honey
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. Add beef, and sauté, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no pink remains, about 5 minutes;
2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a small bowl. Sprinkle with salt, and set aside;
3. Drain liquid from pot, and add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Add onion and sauté until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes;
4. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute more;
5. Stir in chili powder, cumin, oregano and cinnamon. Cook together 1 minute;
6. Add chicken broth, water, beef, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and honey;
7. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally;.
8. Add beans and lime juice and cook 5 minutes.

As for toppings, I lean toward shredded sharp cheddar. Other possibilities include sliced avocado, sour cream, diced green onions, chopped cilantro, even roasted pumpkin seeds.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Leftover Chicken Tortilla Stack

By Paul Briand

The question: How to turn a refrigerator full of leftovers into dinner?

The answer: Combine the chicken, onion and peppers into a oven-baked dish that came together into something I dubbed Leftover Chicken Tortilla Stack.

I was lucky enough to have flour tortillas leftover, some shredded cheese and an avocado that needed using.

Here’s how it came together.

1 ½ cups of leftover roasted chicken
Vidalia onion, sliced
Red pepper, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
8 ounce package of shredded cheddar cheese
4 8-inch flour tortillas

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees;
2. In a large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of oil over medium high heat and add onion, pepper and garlic;
3. Saute until onions start to become translucent, remove from heat and set aside;
4. Add remaining oil to skillet and saute chicken, stir in cumin and chili powder;
5. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray, place two tortillas side by side;
6. Layer each tortilla with healthy layer of cheese, then the chicken, then the vegetable mixture, then another layer of cheese;
7. Top each stack with another tortilla and place in oven;
8. Cook until cheese is fully melted and tortilla is heated through, about five minutes;
9. Serve with your favorite toppings: Guacamole, salsa, jalapeno peppers, hot sauce, etc.

For recipe card click here.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sweet and Sour Chicken

By Paul Briand

This is another recipe offering posted on a bulletin board at my health club.

It comes via

It requires medium prep, but cooks up fast and flavorful, particularly with the sauce that combines honey, ginger, chili-garlic sauce, soy sauce and orange juice.

2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 teaspoons peanut oil
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pint small, sweet mixed peppers, quartered, or 2 mixed bell peppers, cut into 1-inch strips
6 scallions, whites cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces, greens cut into 1-inch pieces and thinly sliced vertically into thin strips
8 ounces snow peas, trimmed
Serving suggestion, cooked brown rice
Chopped peanuts for sprinkling, optional

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, chili-garlic sauce, vinegar, ginger soy sauce, orange juice and cornstarch, set aside;
2. Meanwhile, coat the chicken with 2 teaspoons oil and heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat;
3. Season the chicken to taste with salt and pepper and cook, turning occasionally with a wooden spoon, 2 minutes;
4. Transfer the partially-cooked chicken to a plate. Reserve the pan;
5. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the pan; add the peppers, scallion whites, and snow peas;
6. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes;
7. Stir in the reserved chicken; whisk the sauce again and add it to the pan;
8. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is tender, 1 to 2 minutes;
9. Serve over rice and sprinkle with the scallion greens and peanuts, if using.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Grilled Pizza

By Paul Briand

This comes from my daughter, Elizabeth, who describes this Grilled Pizza as “our new favorite Sunday dinner.”

Here’s how she describes how to do it:

“We buy the dough from the store, put tin foil with a little olive oil on the grill, put the dough on, flip it, then put whatever toppings you want.

“Crunchy and delicious.’

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Porco In A Blanket

By Paul Briand

Porco is Italian for pig … as in sweet Italian sausage … as in pigs in a blanket. Got it?

You know pigs in a blanket -- those tasty little hot dogs wrapped in baked dough, then dipped in mustard. So good and so not good for you.

This variation on that theme takes Italian sausage links and wraps them in either your favorite wrap or burrito. You can fill it with peppers and onions (much like you’d have at the ballpark) and you can even add the mustard.

1 package of sweet (or hot) Italian sausage (usually 4 - 5 a pack)
Wraps or burritos (for as many sausages as you cook)
Green bell pepper, sliced
Vidalia onion, sliced
Two cloves onion, crushed
Olive oil
Package of shredded Mozarella cheese

1. On a grill heated to medium, cook the sausage, turning regularly, until done, about 15 to 20 minutes;
2. Meanwhile, in a medium hot pan heat three teaspoons of the oil and saute the vegetables until they are translucent;
3. Spread a layer of cheese on a wrap and heat in the microwave for 45 seconds;
4. Layer the wrap with a sausage, some of the vegetable mixture, and any condiments, such as mustard, if desired;
5. Roll the wrap, tucking in the edges, and serve.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Schlow Burger

By Paul Briand

I expect more from a hamburger than just cheese, ketchup, mustard and relish.

I want some life, some pizazz, some razzle-dazzle.

Not too long ago, the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal in its cooking and eating section (yes, that Wall Street Journal … it’s come a long way, baby) featured “Burgers To Flip For.”

The story included the recipes for a variety of burgers that kick it up several notches.

This particular burger -- the Schlow Burger -- is named for its creator, chef Michael Schlow at the Radius restaurant in Boston.

I didn’t concentrate on the burger itself, which he makes with beef chuck, brisket and hanger steak.

Instead, I concentrated on his toppings -- a lemon and horseradish mayo and crispy onions.

For the lemon and horseradish mayo:
½ cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons prepared white horseradish
Juice of 1 lemon
For the crispy onions:
2 large white onions, slice thinly
2 ½ cups canola oil (or enough to cover the onions)

1. Combine the mayo, horseradish and lemon juice into a bowl and season with black pepper;
2. Combine onions in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring to a boil;
3. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, until onions are golden brown;
4. Remove onions and let drain and cool in a single layer on paper towels;
5. To assemble, with burger on bottom half of a toasted bun, spread plenty of mayo on the patty so that it drips down the sides then add a mound a heap of crispy onions;
6. Top with bun and serve.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grilled Citrus Glazed Salmon

By Paul Briand

I think my wife Jane was a grizzly bear in a past life. She loves salmon, so anything that I can do with salmon makes me a hero.

This recipe was included in a coupon book that I received from the Shaw’s supermarket where I normally shop for groceries.

Note: This recipe calls for flipping the salmon. I don’t do that. I grill it skin side down with the grill cover closed. It’s done when it flakes. The skin chars and peels away easily.

Four 6-ounce portions, skin-on salmon (about 1 ½ pounds)
? cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place the brown sugar, lemon zest, salt and pepper into a bowl and mix with a wire whisk until well combined;
2. Evenly spread the mixture onto the salmon and allow to sit for 25 to 30 minutes at room temperature;
3. Pre-heat the grill;
4. Once grill is hot, oil the grate to prevent sticking, then place salmon on grill, skin side down and cook until salmon releases from grill grate;
5. Flip the salmon and cook until the thickest part of the fish reaches an internal temperature of 131 degrees;
6. Remove salmon from grill and allow to rest uncovered for 5 minutes before serving.

I served this topped with the Tomato Salsa recipe featured last week, along with a dollop of guacamole.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tomato Salsa

By Paul Briand

I consider salsa and chips one of the major food groups.

This recipe from AARP the Magazine provided me with a tasty salsa that was easy to prepare, if you don’t mind all the slicing and dicing that is necessary.

I liked the alchemy of mixing all these ingredients, to the point that it was easy to slip in another ingredient -- in my case some leftover watermelon -- without affecting the overall flavor. I also mixed in a chopped yellow bell pepper.

I served this salsa with a dollop of guacamole as a topping to a salmon fillet that I grilled with a brown sugar/lemon zest rub (more on that recipe next week).

2 cups seeded, chopped tomatoes (variety of red, yellow and orange suggested, if you can find them)
¼ cup diced red onion (I mixed in some sweet Vidalia onion for good measure)
½ teaspoon of minced garlic
¾ teaspoon freshly ground cumin (I used the cumin from my spice rack)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 banana pepper, stemmed and diced (I used jarred hot and sweet banana peppers)
¼ cup diced green mango (optional … I substituted the watermelon here)
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup minced cilantro leaves for garnish (I mixed in some cilantro for taste)

1. Combine the first seven ingredients into a large bowl along with the mango (if using, or other ingredients as necessary);
2. Season to taste with salt and pepper;
3. Refrigerate to let all those varying tastes marry up;
4. Garnish with cilantro just before serving.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Zesty Flank Steak

By Paul Briand

I didn’t have to look beyond my refrigerator to find this recipe, specifically the squeeze bottle of French’s Brown Mustard there on the door shelf.

It’s a combination marinade/topping for the steak that I also used to cook hamburger sliced Vidalia onions, red peppers and green peppers, all on the grill.

1 cup balsamic salad dressing
1/3 cup French’s Spicy Brown Mustard
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 pounds flank steak

1. Mix the dressing, mustard and garlic together in a bowl, reserving a third of the mixture;
2. Place steak and remaining marinade in leak-proof zip-tight storage bag and let sit in the refrigerator for up to three hours, a minimum of a half hour;
3. Over medium-high heat, grill steak to preferred doneness;
4. Let steak rest for three minutes, then cut in slices against the bias, drizzle some of the reserved sauce over the slices and serve.

For the vegetables, use a brush to lightly coat the vegetables with the marinade on each side as they grill. Remove from heat as each side begins to blister.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

White House Turkey Lasagna with Spinach

By Paul Briand

Who wouldn’t want to eat like the president and his family at the White House?

But we’re not talking the lavishness of an official State Dinner here.

We’re talking about a healthy dinner dish prepared for President Barack Obama and his family by White House Chef Sam Kass.

Kass was on NBC’s “Today Show” a few weeks ago to talk about and demonstrate this recipe for White House Turkey Lasagna with Spinach.

It was a hit in our not-the-White House, as dinner one night with family and as leftovers.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound fresh ground turkey
1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes, crushed
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
16 cooked whole-wheat lasagna noodles
15 ounces low-fat ricotta or low-fat cottage cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, beaten
2 cups fresh spinach, washed, but not dried
1 pound low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or dried flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or dried basil

1 .Preheat oven to 400 degrees;
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent;
3. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more;
4. Add ground turkey and cook for about 10 minutes;
5. Add damp spinach, stir until wilted;
6. Add plum tomatoes, tomato paste, and season with salt and pepper; let simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes;
7. Stir in basil and parsley; set aside;
8. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and egg; season with salt and pepper and set aside;
9. Ladle one-quarter of the turkey mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; spread to cover;
10. Add 1/4 of lasagna noodles, one-third of the mozzarella, one-third of the ricotta mixture;
11. Repeat process two more times; top with remaining lasagna noodles;
12. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan over top; transfer to oven and bake until bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes;
13. Let stand about 5 minutes before cutting; serve.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Barbecue Meatloaf

By Paul Briand

I’m not sure what the best part of this dish was -- having it hot out of the oven the night it was made, or having the leftovers in sandwiches the next day.

It was a big hit both times, which speaks to how much we liked this take on good, old fashioned, old reliable meatloaf.

This one comes via, and I liked creating the barbecue sauce essence from scratch.

Note: I didn’t need a two-pound meatloaf, so I used a pound of meat (combination of ground beef and turkey) and used one slice of bread instead of two, but kept everything else in the recipe pretty much the same in terms of quantities.

2 lbs ground beef (or a combination thereof of pork or beef, or maybe veal)
2 tablespoons prepared mustard ( cheap old yellow will do)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 small onion, minced
1 garlic cloves
2 pieces bread, torn into small pieces
bacon fat ( for pan-greasing)
For the sauce:
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pinch salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees;
2. Grease a loaf pan;
3. In a medium-large mixing bowl, put all main ingredients in and mix until it’s sticky and combined;
4. Put into the loaf pan, smooth the top out a bit if you would like. Bake for an hour or until it reaches 165 degrees on a meat thermometer;
5. While it’s in the oven, mix up the sauce ingredients. Just before meatloaf is done (10 minutes or so), spoon/brush sauce over the top, return to oven and let it go in there for the remaining time/temperature.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Balsamic Baked Haddock

By Paul Briand

My health club is proactive about good health -- as it should be.

One of its ideas is a bulletin board of health tips that includes printed out recipes of healthy meals.

I liked what I read in this recipe after finishing a workout -- something about the combination of balsamic vinegar and blue cheese.

This recipe from all calls for tilapia. But I substituted it for haddock, a more native and locally fished species. I also substituted the salad greens in the original recipe for cooked spinach.

My wife Jane ranked this dish as among the “best of the best”, nominating it for the Eats@Home Hall of Fame.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, halved and sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
2 (8 ounce) haddock fillets
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 package baby spinach, steamed

1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees;
2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion and red pepper in the oil until onion is tender and golden, and peppers are slightly soft, about 10 minutes;
3. Stir balsamic vinegar into the vegetables; season with salt and pepper;
4. Rub haddock fillets with 2 teaspoons olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper;
5. Place fillets in a small baking dish, and top with the balsamic onion mixture. Sprinkle fish evenly with blue cheese;
6. Bake in preheated oven until fish flakes easily. Serve atop spinach.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Grilled Shrimp with Tomato Salad

By Paul Briand

When it comes to looking for good recipes to try and write about, my wife Jane is a valued co-conspirator.

In part, she knows I’m always on the hunt for something new. But largely, I think, she knows how she benefits with another delish dish on the table.

This recipe comes from the Relish magazine her newspaper, the Eagle-Tribue in Massachusetts, puts into Tuesday’s edition once a month. You can find the recipe online at here.

This recipe oozes summer. Grilling shrimp. A light, tasty vinaigrette. And tomatoes galore.

One note: I couldn’t find yellow pear tomatoes at my supermarket. So I substituted a yellow bell pepper. It offered the same color effect to the salad, and had the added bonus of adding texture and a crunch to the salad that it wouldn’t have had otherwise.

For the vinaigrette:
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons orange juice, freshly squeezed
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon honey
For the shrimp:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
White pepper
For the tomato salad:
2 beefsteak tomatoes
4 Roma tomatoes
12 red grape tomatoes, cut into halves
12 yellow pear tomatoes, cut into halves
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons basil, cut into thin ribbons

1. To prepare the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk well;
2. To prepare the shrimp, combine olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and shrimp in a large bowl;
3. Let stand 15 to 30 minutes. Add white pepper;
4. Heat grill to medium-high. Thread shrimp on skewers;
5. Place shrimp on grill rack and cook on grill 2 to 3 minutes, until just pink. (Or grill jumbo shrimp directly on the grill.);
6. To prepare salad, toss grape and pear tomatoes into vinaigrette. Sprinkle with pepper. Slice beefsteak tomatoes and Roma tomatoes into 1/8-inch-thick slices and place on serving plates. Spoon grape and pear tomatoes and vinaigrette on top and garnish with basil. Serve with shrimp.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Grilled Steak and Spring Vegetable Salad

By Paul Briand

Spring is here, though you wouldn’t know it from the very unseasonal spring we’ve been having here in northern New England.

But the idea of outdoor grilling was too much of a draw with this recipe, despite the rain and cool temperatures.

This salad of steak and spring vegetables comes via the Associated Press.

Everything goes on the grill -- the sirloin steak (of course) plus the asparagus and artichoke hearts, even the grape tomatoes if you wish. Not so the lettuce.

And the dressing is a light combination of lemon juice and olive oil infused with some Parmesan cheese to smooth it out.

For the dressing:
5 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
For the salad:
1 pound sirloin steak, 1- to 1 1/4-inches thick, trimmed of fat
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound asparagus, bottoms trimmed
14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
4 cups arugula
Shaved Parmesan cheese, to garnish (optional)

1. Heat a gas grill to high or light a charcoal fire;
2. For the dressing, in a blender combine the lemon juice, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Blend until emulsified. Set aside;
3. Season the steak on both sides with the salt and pepper;
4. Grill the steak, about 5 minutes per side for medium rare, 6 minutes per side for medium. Remove and let rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes;
5. Meanwhile, grill the asparagus and artichoke hearts, turning occasionally, until slightly charred and the asparagus spears are tender-crisp, about 5 minutes;
6. Remove from the grill and cut the asparagus into 2-inch pieces and the artichoke hearts in half;
7. Place the vegetables in a large bowl with the cherry tomatoes (as an option, grill the tomatoes until they soften);
8. Thinly slice the steak across the grain and add to the bowl with the asparagus and artichoke hearts. Toss with half of the dressing;
9. In a large salad bowl, toss the arugula with the remaining dressing;
10. To plate the salad, place some of the arugula on each serving plate and arrange the grilled steak and vegetables on top. Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese, if desired.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

By Paul Briand

My wife Jane and I love sweet potatoes and all the culinary creations that come from them.

For Thanksgiving dinner, for example, my wife makes a sweet potato puff that is a family favorite. (Note to self: Let’s get this recipe published in time for Thanksgiving 2011.)

We’re also very big fans of sweet potato fries. As we try to eat with our health and weight in mind, they are a favored alternative to regular potato fries when we eat out.

A sweet potato, cooked and baked in its skin with no salt, is low in sodium, and very low in saturated fat and cholesterol. It is also a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6 and potassium, and a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese. Read more here.

I do a variation of Baked Sweet Potato Fries at home that involves a coating of olive oil, black pepper and Old Bay seasoning. Old Bay, by the way, has a lot more uses than crab cakes.

The hardest part of homemade sweet potato fries is getting them to crisp up. To get there, I often will put them under a low broil in the oven for a couple of minutes after they’ve baked.

Here is another variation of sweet potato fries that I picked up from

Given the brown sugar and the salt, these are a little higher in fat, sugar and sodium content.

Note: The amount of olive oil called for in this recipe -- ½ cup -- is way too much in my opinion. You can easily halve the amount and yield the same yummy results.

4 sweet potatoes, unpeeled and cut into wedges
¼ cup sage, fresh chopped (substitute 2 teaspoons if from your spice rack)
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees;
2. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, sage, brown sugar, and oil. Season with salt and pepper, and toss;
3. Spread on a baking sheet;
4. Bake for 40 minutes and serve immediately.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chicken Tikka Masala

By Paul Briand

This is said to be the most popular restaurant dish in the United Kingdom.

And this is a simple recipe, courtesy of the McCormick spice people, who packaged together all the spices needed for this dish as part of their Recipe Inspirations.

“Masala” means mixture of spices and that’s exactly what this is -- though I might use a bit of hyperbole and call it an explosion of spices.

The garam masala is a pungent mixture of spices, its origin in India.

2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon mixed garlic
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Melt butter in large nonstick skillet on medium heat;
2. Add chicken, onion and lemon juice; cook and stir 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink;
3. Add all of the spices (except red pepper) and cook and stir 1 minute;
4. Stir in tomatoes until well mixed;
5. Stir cream into cornstarch and salt until smooth. Gradually stir mixture into skillet;
6. Stir in red pepper to taste, if desired;
7. Bring to boil then reduce heat to low; stirring frequently, simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thickened;
8. Serve with cooked rice or naan bread, if desired.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ham Casserole

By Paul Briand

What to do with the leftover Easter ham? Well, my mother is taking care of the bone by making a split pea and ham soup. I doled out some leftovers to family, and I still had plenty for this casserole, adapted from a recipe titled (appropriately enough) End of the Line Ham Casserole on

The AllRecipe version used a little parmesan cheese -- all of 2 tablespoons. I went all out with a package of low-fat Italian blend cheeses. Also, I topped mine with a handful of crumbled French Fried Onions that I had leftover from the breaded pork chops I made not too long ago.

1 can condensed cream of celery soup
1/2 cup milk
ground black pepper to taste
2 potatoes, sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 cups cooked ham, diced
1 7-ounce package of low-fat shredded Italian cheeses
¼ cup French Fried Onions, crumbled

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees;
2. In an 8x8 inch casserole dish, combine cream of celery soup with milk and a generous amount of pepper;
3. Layer the potato slices, then onion slices then ham on top;
4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour;
5. Remove foil and sprinkle the cheese and crumbled French Fried Onions over the entire surface;
6. Bake uncovered for another 20 minutes or when cheese is bubbly, then let rest five minutes and serve.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

French Fried Onion-Crusted Pork Chops

By Paul Briand

You can bread pork chops in the usual fashion. How about including French Fried Onions as part of that breading? It creates a crunchy layer that has a burst of flavor, while keeping the pork moist.

This recipe can be used with other dishes where you might use bread crumbs -- chicken breasts, for example.

4 boneless pork chops
1 egg
¼ quarter cup of milk
½ cup Panko bread crumbs
½ cup of French Fried Onions, crumbled

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees;
2. Prepare egg wash in bowl by whisking egg with milk;
3. In large plate, mix the bread crumbs with the crumbled fried onions;
4. Take pork chop and dip both sides into egg wash;
5. Press one side of pork chop then the other into the bread crumbs and onions mixture;
6. Repeat with three other chops;
7. Place encrusted chops onto baking dish that has been coated with cooking spray;
8. Cook until the pork is no longer pink, about 35 - 40 minutes.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spinach & Avocado Salad

By Paul Briand

This is a great, simple little salad recipe that will bring the freshness of spring right to your taste buds.

It’s light and wonderfully refreshing with the vinaigrette that combines lemon juice, rice vinegar and olive oil.

The basis of this salad comes from a recipe I received with store coupons mailed to me by my favorite supermarket.

1 6 ounce package of spinach leaves
1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced into bite-size pieces
1 cup of grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup of slivered almonds
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Combine the spinach, avocado, tomatoes, and almonds into a large bowl;
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and lemon zest;
3. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until it is well combined;
4. Toss salad with vinaigrette and serve immediately.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lobster Mac & Cheese

By Paul Briand

If you’re looking for a fish recipe for no-meat Fridays during Lent -- and you’re willing to fork over a few bucks -- here’s sinfully rich dish that combines lobster meat with very cheesy macaroni and cheese.

Fresh lobster meat -- picked from a cooked lobster -- isn’t cheap, but it’s oh so good when lightly sauted in butter and lemon then folded into a cheese sauce that combines Parmesan and Monterey Jack and is topped with sharp cheddar.

1 pound box of Rotoni macaroni
3 heaping tablespoons flour
8 tablespoons of butter, divided
3 cups of whole milk
7 ounce package of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
7 ounce package of shredded Monterey Jack cheese
7 ounce package of shredded Parmesan cheese
2/3 to 1 pound of fresh lobster meat
Old Bay seasoning
Lemon juice
Panko bread crumbs

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees;
2. Cook the Rotoni according to the directions on the box, drain, set aside;
3. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter and stir in enough flour to make a roux;
4. Add milk slowly to the roux, constantly stirring;
5. Reduce heat and add the Monterey Jack and Parmesan cheese, continuing to stir;
6. When cheese has fully melted, remove pan from heat;
7. In separate small saute pan over medium high heat, melt remaining butter then lightly saute lobster meat then spritz with a dash of lemon juice;
8. Return cheese skillet to the heat and fold the lobster fully into the mixture;
9. Add a generous palmful of Old Bay;
10. In large bowl, pour the drained Rotoni and mix in the lobster and cheese mixture;
11. Pour entire mixture into a large casserole dish, top with cheddar cheese;
12. Cook for 20 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle bread crumbs (half a cup or so) then cook another 10 minutes;
13. Remove from oven, let sit about 5 minutes then serve in generous slices.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chorizo-Tortilla Tortillas

By Paul Briand

Eggs for dinner, you bet. Especially when they’re part of a richly flavored, densely packed recipe like this one.

It comes courtesy of Rachael Ray. I saw her making it as I was doing a treadmill workout at the gym recently and couldn’t wait to go home, do the shopping, put it together and feast on it.

I liked the introduction of chorizo into the mix. Chorizo is a Portuguese-style pork sausage. It isn’t your typical Mexican dish meat filler of beef, chicken or pork, which is one reason I was attracted to the recipe.

Note: I toned down the heat on this by forgoing the chile pepper. I opted to garnish it on my plates with jalapenos and hot sauce.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 pound cured chorizo, casings discarded and meat chopped
4 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped, or 3 drained Spanish Piquillo peppers, chopped
1 red chile pepper, such as a Fresno, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
A handful cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, chopped
4 handfuls unsalted thin yellow or blue tortilla chips, lightly crushed
12 extra-large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups shredded young Manchego or Monterey jack cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a 10-inch, oven-proof non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat;
2. Add the chorizo and lightly brown, 2 to 3 minutes;
3. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, bell pepper, chile pepper, salt and pepper; cook for 5 minutes;
4. Scatter in the cilantro (or parsley) and tortilla chips;
5. Add the eggs and season with salt and pepper;
6. Stir to combine; let the eggs settle, then cook until set at the edges (some of the tortilla chips will pop up);
7. Transfer the tortilla to the oven and bake until cooked through, 15 to 18 minutes;
8. Turn the oven to broil. Top the tortilla with the cheese and melt under the broiler.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Creamy Mushroom Skillet Chicken

By Paul Briand

I appreciate the fact that you can make a mushroom-based sauce for a chicken dish using a good old Campbell’s soup recipe, especially now that the company is introducing low-salt soups into its line.

I had good success with Southwest White Chicken Chili using a Campbell recipe.

But sometimes it’s just good to create your own creamy mushroom sauce for pan-fried chicken, and I found this recipe recently while combing through my news feeds from the Associated Press.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
8-ounces sliced white button mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 pounds chicken (breasts, legs, thighs or mix)
2 cups chicken broth
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cool water
2/3 cup low- or no-fat sour cream

1. In large skillet over medium-high, heat the olive oil, and add the onion, mushrooms and garlic, saute for 4 minutes;
2. Add chicken, turning to brown evenly, four 4 minutes. Be mindful to stir the vegetables as well;
3. Add chicken broth and thyme, bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer. Partially cover and cook for 12 - 15 minutes or until the chicken pieces are cooked through;
4. Remove chicken and set aside. Cover with foil to keep warm;
5. Return skillet heat to medium. Mix cornstarch and water in small glass, and add to the skillet, stirring constantly until mixture thickens;
6. Remove skillet from heat and add sour cream. Season with pepper;
7. Serve chicken over rice or pasta. Spoon creamy mushroom sauce over it.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kelsey’s Irish Stew

By Paul Briand

An Irish stew without potatoes is not the oxymoron you might think.

We associate Irish food with potatoes, indeed, but this Irish stew recipe -- created in honor of stepdaughter Kelsey Murphy’s birthday this week -- has no potato.

Jane -- my wife and Kelsey’s mom -- and I went searching for an Irish stew made with Guinness Stout, and many of the recipes we found don’t have potato. Kelsey’s Irish Stew is an amalgamation of the best of what we found.

We served it at a combination Kelsey’s birthday party/St. Patrick’s Day party and doubled this recipe -- cooking two stews in two big pots -- so that we could feed a dozen revelers. And yes there was potato: Twice baked potatoes filled with garlic smashed potatoes served as a side.

6 tablespoons oil
Black pepper
All-purpose flour for dredging
3 pounds stew beef
6 gloves garlic minced
1 onion chopped
1 cup cut carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 package sliced mushrooms
1 can (14.9 ounces) Guinness Stout
1 can tomato paste
24 ounces of beef broth (no salt or low salt preferred)
Parsley, thyme, rosemary

1. In a large storage Zip-lock type bag, add three cups of flour and season with a generous amount of black pepper. Add the stew beef and work the bag in the meat to fully dredge each piece with flour;
2. In a large Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium high heat and brown the beef, stirring occasionally until all pieces and all sides are browned. Remove and set aside;
3. Add the remaining oil then add the onion, garlic, celery and mushroom. Saute until onion becomes limp, 3 to 5 minutes;
4. Stir in the tomato paste and then add the Guinness, stirring as you pour. Make sure you are stirring to de-glaze the bottom of the pot of all the beef bits;
5. Add a palmful each of the parsley, thyme and rosemary and thoroughly stir;
6. Add the beef back to the pot;
7. Stir in the beef broth to fully cover the mixture;
8. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 90 minutes and serve.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tomato and Thyme Haddock

By Paul Briand

I’ll go anywhere in search of a good recipe for preparing at home. I traveled recently to England -- OK, more like the British Broadcasting Service and its BBC Good Food web site.

This recipe originally called for cod, but I used haddock instead. And I doubled the recipe since something this good deserved to get on our dinner table at least twice this week.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 14-ounce cans of chopped tomatoes (opt for low salt or no salt added)
1 heaped teaspoon of soft brown sugar
A few sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped (1 tablespoon if you have to use prepared thyme from your spice rack)
1 tablespoon soy sauce (again, opt for the low salt)
2 pounds haddock

1. Heat the oil in a medium large skillet over medium high heat;
2. Add and saute until lightly browned;
3. Stir in the tomatoes, brown sugar, thyme and soy, then bring to a boil;
4. Add the fish into the sauce, making sure some of the tomato mixture gets onto the top of the fish;
5. Cover and cook on medium low until the fish flakes easily, about 8 to 10 minutes.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Creamy Chicken Florentine

By Paul Briand

Do you ever pay attention to the coupons the register at the grocery store spits out along with your receipt?

Normally, I don’t. They seem like so much litter to me because the coupons are for items I don’t normally buy.

But lately my litter stream has included recipes.

In one case, there was a recipe for Bacon Broccoli Salad.

In another case, there was this recipe for Creamy Chicken Florentine. In this instance the recipe was included with a dollar off coupon for Philadelphia cooking creme, which is part of the ingredients.

I gave it a try and was glad I did: Quick, easy, good.

3 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
½ cup red pepper, cut into strips
1 six-ounce package baby spinach leaves
1 tub (10 ounces) Philadelphia Savory Garlic Cooking Creme
2 cups hot cooked penne pasta
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

1. In a large skillet over medium high heat the olive oil and cook the chicken and peppers until chicken is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes;
2. Add spinach, cook until wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes;
3. Add cooking creme, stir and heat through;
4. Stir in pasta;
5. Top with nuts and serve.

I used toasted slivered almonds instead of pine nuts because that’s what I had in my cupboard.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pork Chops with Sweet Potato

By Paul Briand

Looking for recipes on your smart phone? There’s an app for that.

Lacking inspiration recently, I went searching for a recipe site compatible with web-enabled cell phones., it turns out, has an app for the iPhone -- called a “Dinner Spinner”. You can use it to search by ingredient or by nutrition information.

Allrecipes also has a mobile site for phones like the BlackBerry that I use. With it too you can search for a recipe by ingredients.

I used it to poke around a big variety of recipe options and settled on this one with pork chops and sweet potatoes.

2 boneless pork loin chops, 3/4-inch thick
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/3 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground mace
Dash pepper
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons cold water

1. In a small nonstick skillet, brown pork chops in oil. Place in an 8-in. square baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Layer with sweet potato; drizzle with butter;
2. In a small saucepan, combine the orange juice, brown sugar, salt, ginger, mace and pepper; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Pour over sweet potato;
3. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until the pork reaches 160 degrees F and potato is tender;
4. Remove pork and potato. Set aside and keep warm;
5. Pour pan juices into a small saucepan. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into juices. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Serve with pork and sweet potato.

A couple of notes from my experience with this recipe: I used four chops, instead of two. Instead of using a saucepan to prepare the orange juice and brown sugar sauce, use the skillet instead.

After the pork chops have been browned and removed from the skillet, tasty bits will remain. Use the orange juice to deglaze the pan for a richer tasting sauce.

Also, I’m suspect of the cook time. It took almost an hour in my oven at 350 degrees for the sweet potato to cook enough to eat.

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Stuffed Cheese & Jalapeno Chicken Burgers

By Paul Briand

Full disclosure: This is a rip-off.

I borrowed -- stole? -- this idea from Burger King and its Stuffed Steakhouse Burger.

But I put a healthy less caloric, less saturated fat spin on this burger that is stuffed with cheddar cheese and jalapeno peppers.

Instead of ground beef, I used ground chicken. I used low-fact cheese. And instead of your typical hamburger bun, I used whole wheat, whole grain deli thins.

4 pre-packaged ground chicken patties
¼ cup crumbled cheese from block of low-fat cheddar
Jalapeno peppers to taste
4 whole grain/whole wheat deli thins

1. Place the chicken patties in a medium size bowl and add the crumbled cheese and peppers (as many as your palate can handle);
2. Mix all the ingredients together, much as you would a meatloaf;
3. Form the mixture into equally sized patties and place into a large skillet over medium high heat;
4. Cook the patties as you would a hamburger, making sure it is completely cooked through;
5. Serve the patties on toasted deli thins with tomato slices and Romain lettuce and your favorite among the mustard, ketchup and relish genres.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Southwest White Chicken Chili

By Paul Briand

Just one more chili recipe then I’ll back off this riff I started last week.

I stumbled onto this one while reading Parade magazine in my Sunday newspaper. The recipe was part of an ad for Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup.

My biggest problem with can of soup recipes is that canned soup has way too much sodium.

Campbell’s and others are trying to introduce products with less salt and with less fat, and good for them.

The cream of chicken soup in this recipe comes in the low-fat version, which I did find on my grocer’s shelf.

A couple of other notes: I added roasted red peppers and some red kidney beans to give the dish more color. Yes, there is “white” in the recipe name but it was a little too pale for my liking..

You can find this and other Campbell soup recipes at

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound), cut into cubes
4 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium green pepper, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (Regular or 98% Fat Free)
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
2 cans (about 15 ounces each) white kidney beans (cannellini), rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese

1. Heat the oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat;
2. Add the chicken, chili powder, cumin, onion and pepper and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender, stirring often;
3. Stir the soup, water, corn and beans in the saucepan and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low;
4. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally;
5. Sprinkle with the cheese and serve.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Italian Chili One-Pot

By Paul Briand

Can you have too many recipes for chili?

I say no.

Chili, for me, is one of those comfort foods I will return to time and again, and in my book it's OK to tweak a favorite recipe or even create a stockpile of different recipes.

I think the same is true for spaghetti sauce and for meatloaf.

This Italian version on the theme is from one of my tried-and-trues, Rachael Ray.

A couple of note on my approach to this recipe. I didn't use the chili peppers out of respect for my wife, Jane, who is slowly warming up to spicier food. And the 3 cups of stock called for in Ray's recipe seemed like a lot as I was cooking. I used maybe a little more than a cup.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta, diced, optional
About 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, a scant palmful
2 pounds ground beef or ground pork or beef and pork combined
Salt and pepper
2 red cherry chili peppers or red Fresno chili peppers, sliced or seeded and chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
About 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 28-ounce can cannellini beans or chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup dry wine, red or white or 1 cup Italian beer
3 cups beef stock for beef-only chili or chicken stock for pork chili or beef and pork combined
Optional Accompaniments:
Shredded provolone cheese
Shredded basil
Finely chopped raw onion

1. Heat the oil in pot over medium-high heat;
2. Add pancetta, if using, brown to crisp then add fennel seeds;
3. Add meat, brown and crumble, and season with salt and pepper;
4. Once the meat is browned well, add chili peppers, onions, garlic, fresh or dried oregano and cook until onions are translucent, 8-10 minutes more;
5. Add beans and stir in tomato paste. Cook 1 minute until fragrant, then add wine or beer;
6. Let the liquid cook down then stir in stock. Simmer to combine flavors;
7. Serve in bowls topped with cheese and basil or chopped onion.

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