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February 27, 2011

How to Roast Red Peppers

It’s hard for me to understand why someone wouldn’t love red peppers. Maybe they haven’t experienced a wonderfully rich and flavorful roasted pimento red pepper. Pimento is a red heart shaped sweet pepper, so what’s not to love.

They are the only true red pepper variety; the majority being ripened green bell peppers.

Pimento is Spanish for “pepper” and they are used in the familiar red stuffing found in green olives. However, most are used to make paprika and amazingly enough pimento is the name of the tree from which allspice comes.

Fresh pimentos may be found from late summer to early fall but canned pimentos are available year around. Roasting them brings out the rich, sweet flavor making this the best way to prepare them.

Roasting

To roast any pepper simply wash and pat dry. Slice both ends from the pepper and remove seeds and veins. Cut pepper into four equal pieces. Place on a baking sheet, skin side up. Roast in a 400 degree F oven until the tops are evenly charred. Peppers can also be roasted over medium-high heat coals. The peppers should be placed with the skins down on the grill and left until they are evenly charred. After the peppers are charred, place them into a plastic bag, seal and allow them to cool. They will sweat the skins away from the flesh making them very easy to peel. Now they are ready to use in sauces, salads, or on your favorite sandwich. Try one of my favorite chicken casseroles

Posted by terri at 02:25 AM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2011

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

A creative way to use last night's chicken in a totally new dish that's deliciously yummy.

Serves 8.

Ingredients:

• 6 ounces egg noodles, cooked, drained
• 6 tablespoons butter
• 6 to 8 ounces sliced mushrooms, (optional)
• 6 tablespoons flour
• 1 2/3 cups chicken broth
• 1 cup milk
• 1/4 cup pimiento, drained, chopped
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1/2 teaspoon pepper
• 2 cups cooked diced chicken
• 1 cup frozen peas, thawed under hot water
• 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese , plus more for topping

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 2 1/2- to 3-quart baking dish.

In large skillet or saucepan over low heat, melt butter; sauté mushrooms until tender. Blend in flour, stirring until smooth and bubbly.

Gradually add chicken broth, milk, pimiento, and salt and pepper; stir constantly until sauce is thickened.

Stir in chicken, peas, and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, and the cooked noodles.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese over top.

Bake chicken noodle casserole 20 to 25 minutes, until hot and bubbly.

Cooking Wiser:

  • Cook just before the pasta is al dente because it will continue to cook in the oven. There's nothing worse that mushy pasta!
  • Pimento is a particular sweet red pepper. When used in a recipe, it is commonly referring to a roasted red pepper. If you don't have pimentos you can roast a red pepper, then slice and whoola you have pimento
  • Add sliced almonds or sliced water chestnuts for extra crunch

  • Save time and money by using left overs in creative ways. After roasting a chicken, remove remaining chicken, dice, place in freezer until ready to use for casserole
  • This can become a great vegetarian dish by using vegetable stock, omit the chicken and add an additional cup of finely diced mushrooms. Add sliced almonds for protein

    Posted by terri at 06:32 PM | Comments (0)

    Berry Good Tiramisu

    A twist on traditional tiramisu, this is a delightfully delicious and colorful dessert.

    Serves 10
    Prep time: 20 minutes
    Total time: 40 minutes (+ refrigerate for 2 hours up to 8)

    Ingredients:

  • 2- 12 ounce packages ladyfingers
  • 1 ½ cup whipping cream
  • 2 cups blueberries, wash and drain well
  • 1 cup strawberries, halved
  • 1 can mandarin oranges, drained
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ cups lemon curd

    Lemon Curd
    Makes 1 ½ cups

    Ingredients


    • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 5 egg yolks, beaten
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed

    Instructions:

    In a 2 quart saucepan, melt butter, add sugar. Temper in the eggs. Add lemon juice and zest. Cook over double boiler on medium-low heat stirring until thick enough to hold marks from whisk and first bubble appears on surface, about 10 minutes. Remove and cool. Refrigerate until ready to use up to 5 days.

    Tiramisu
    In a bowl, whip cream to stiff peaks, add sugar and nutmeg. Layer 1/3 of the ladyfingers in a single row in a trifle dish. Top with 1/3 of the lemon curd, layer 1/3 of the fruit (reserve a few for garnish) on top of lemon curd, top with 1/3 of the whipping cream, repeat 2 more times ending with the whipped cream. Top with a reserved fruit for garnish. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

    Posted by terri at 06:30 PM | Comments (0)

    No Guilt Creamy Spinach

    When you taste this rich, creamy dish you won't believe it's a healthy version. Enjoy as a side dish or serve with vegetables, crackers or low fat tortilla chips for an appetizer.

    Prep time: 20 minutes
    Total time: 20 minutes


    Ingredients:



  • 1 bag (16 ounces) frozen spinach, thawed
  • 3/4 cup 1 % or fat-free milk
  • 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, cut into chunks and softened
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • Pinch nutmeg freshly ground
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (1 ounce)
  • garnish with finely chopped tomatoes or red peppers

    Instructions:

    Place the thawed spinach in a colander set over a large bowl; squeeze to extract the juice, reserving 2 tablespoons of the juice in a cup. Discard any remaining juice.

    In a medium saucepan, combine the spinach juice, milk, and cream cheese. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring and pushing the cheese against the pan to break it up. The mixture should be well combined but will not be smooth. Remove the pan from the heat.

    In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes.

    Add the spinach, stirring to coat. Stir in the milk mixture and cook until bubbling, about 3 minutes.

    Season the spinach with nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve hot.

    Posted by terri at 06:23 PM | Comments (0)

    Basmati Rice with Apricots and Almonds

    This is an elegant side dish that has a wonderful combination of color, texture and flavors. As a bonus it contains your daily requirement of Vitamin C. Serve it with baked chicken or fish.

    Serves 8
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Total Time: 65 minutes

    Ingredients:

    • 2-1/2 cups basmati rice
    • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 3/4 cup diced dried apricots
    • 3/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
    • 1/4 cup orange juice
    • 2 teaspoons curry powder
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Instructions:

    In medium saucepan, heat the oil. Add the rice and toast until slightly golden. Add the broth and bring to a boil; cook for 10 minutes or until water is absorbed. Stir apricots, almonds, orange juice, curry powder, and salt and pepper into the partially cooked rice. Cook over low heat, shaking pan occasionally, until rice is tender, about 25-35 minutes. Add dried cranberries, let stand, covered, off the heat for 10 minutes, then serve.

    Terri's Tips:

  • Add 1/2 cup dried cranberries for color and additional flavor
  • Toasting the rice before adding the broth will decrease the cooking time and enhance the wonderful nutty flavor of the rice

    Posted by terri at 06:19 PM | Comments (0)

    Pasta Salad with Fresh Summer Vegetables

    Get your daily recommended vegetables in with this wonderfully fresh and colorful summer pasta.

    Prep time: 15 minutes; Total time: 30 minutes
    Serves 8 to 10

    Ingredients:

    •12 ounces rotini (corkscrew) pasta •1/4 cup white-wine vinegar •1 tbsp. water •1 tablespoon Lime pepper •1/2 tablespoon honey •1/2 cup minced fresh herb leaves •1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil •2 pints red or yellow pear tomatoes or cherry tomatoes or a combination, halved •3/4 cup shredded carrots •¼ cup diced zucchini •¼ cup diced yellow squash •½ cup black and green olives (optional) •3/4 cup diced Cheddar, Fontina, Edam, or Swiss cheese. •Lime slices to garnish

    Instructions:

    In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente, about 8 minutes. During the last 3 minutes add the zucchini and squash; drain in a colander.
    Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, water, honey, lime pepper, and herbs. Add the oil in a stream, whisking until well blended.
    Add the pasta and the remaining ingredients including the vinaigrette to the bowl and toss well. Garnish with lime and serve the salad at room temperature.

    Terri’s Tips:

    o I use cilantro and parsley for this salad because I love the flavor combination with lime and pepper. But you can use your favorite herb, such as mint, basil or dill.
    o If you use dill or mint try garnishing with lemon slices
    o If you prefer different pasta, select one that will hold up in this salad: bow tie, penne, or rotoni. Use tri colored for added color
    o Be sure and cook the pasta al dente.
    o The vegetables should only be slightly tender. You can steam them in advance and keep refrigerated or try them grilled for changing the flavor profile. Try adding a dash of liquid smoke to the vinaigrette

    Cooking Wiser:

    o Select a whole grain pasta
    o Spray the pasta with low fat oil and use only ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
    o Select a low fat cheese
    o This recipe has no salt, the flavor comes from the lime, pepper and herbs

    Posted by terri at 06:16 PM | Comments (0)

    Basmati Rice with Shiitake mushrooms

    This dish creates a delicious side dish or it can be used as a stuffing for chicken, fish or pork.

    Serves 4
    Prep time: 8 minutes
    Total time:45 minutes

    Ingredients

    •1/2 cup wild rice (about 12 ounces)
    •1 tablespoons butter
    •4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    •1/3 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, sliced
    •1/3 cup button mushrooms, sliced
    •1 large onions, chopped
    •1 cup basmati rice
    •1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth + ½ cup
    •2 bay leaves
    •1/2 teaspoon (or more) coarse kosher salt

  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds

    Instructions:

    Heat 2 T. olive oil, add wild rice and basmati rice and sauté until basmati turns golden. Add 2 cups of chicken broth. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Cover with lid and allow to steam until vegetables are ready.
    Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onions and sauté until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Add mushrooms to rice. If rice is very dry add additional ½ cup chicken broth, reduce heat to medium; cover and simmer until heated through. Fluff rice mixture with fork. Stir in parsley. Season to taste with pepper.

    Terri's Tips:

  • Sautéing the rice before adding the liquid brings out the flavor of the rice and decreases the cooking time
  • Use low to medium heat when cooking shitake mushrooms to maintain flavor and soft texture; high heat will cause the mushroom to toughen
  • One can of chicken broth equals two cups
  • Create a vegetarian dish by replacing chicken broth with vegetable broth


    Posted by terri at 06:12 PM | Comments (0)

    Roasted Winter Vegetables with Apples and Thyme

    I never really cooked with Butternut squash until I tried this recipe. Now I love it. The color is so vibrant and the health benefits include a rich source of vitamin A.

    Serves 8
    Prep time:15 minutes
    Total time:35 minutes

    Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium Butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 2 golden delicious apples, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced
  • ½ cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated

    Instructions:

    Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add onions, sweet potatoes, squash and apples. Pan roast until tender and vegetables are slightly caramelized, about 15 minutes. Add thyme and cheese, remove from heat and cover with a lid. Allow 5 minutes for the cheese to melt.

    Terri's Tips:

  • Cut butternut squash in half and roast in a 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes. This will tenderize the squash and make it much easier to peel and dice
  • Cook the sweet potatoes (do not peel) in the microwave for 4 minutes to cut down on roasting time.
  • Gala or other firm red apple also work well in this recipe

    Cooking Wiser

  • Save time by cutting up the vegetables in advance; refrigerate up to 3 days until ready to use

    Posted by terri at 06:09 PM | Comments (0)

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