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QUICK PUMPKIN SOUP

1 tablespoon light olive oil

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 medium-large onion, chopped

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

6 cups vegetable broth

dash of salt

1/4 cup scallion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup toasted croutons

Heat oil in large saucepan. Add coriander, cumin and cinnamon, stirring 1 minute, just to warm. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes, but not browned. Add pumpkin puree and vegetable broth, blend well. Bring to boil; lower heat and simmer, covered, until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. Add dash of salt to taste. Pour soup into large bowl and puree in batches in a blender or food processor. Return to pan. Heat before serving. Garnish with scallions and croutons, if desired.

TIP: To boost the flavor of the canned pumpkin, sauté garlic, ginger and 1 teaspoon curry powder with the onion.

SWEET-N-HOT BAKEDCHICKEN BREASTS

1/3 cup apricot jam

1/4 cup prepared mustard

2 tablespoons salted cashew or macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

rice pilaf (recipe follows)

Combine 1/4 cup of the apricot jam, prepared mustard, coarsely chopped nuts and breadcrumbs in small bowl to form thick paste. Sift flour lightly over chicken breasts, shaking off excess flour. Spread small amount of jam on both sides of chicken. Place chicken breasts in baking pan large enough to hold 1 layer. Spread apricot-mustard mixture on top and bake at 350º for 30 minutes until chicken is lightly browned; then place under heated broiler to crisp; about 2 minutes. Serve with rice pilaf, if desired.

To make rice pilaf: Prepare your favorite white rice according to package directions. During the last 3 or 4 minutes of cooking, stir in some thawed frozen peas, chopped dried apricots and chopped salted nuts, such as cashews.

CHEESY RISOTTO

1/3 cup thinly sliced green onion

1 tablespoon butter

2/3 cup arborio or long-grain rice

2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon instant

chicken bouillon granules

1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

In a saucepan cook green onion in hot butter until tender. Add uncooked rice; cook and stir 2 minutes more. Carefully stir in water, bouillon granules and a dash of pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover; simmer 20 minutes (do not lift cover). Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for about 5 minutes. If necessary, stir in a little water to reach the desired consistency. Stir in the Parmesan or Romano cheese. Yield: 4 side-dish servings.

STUFFED PORK CHOPS

2 cups unpeeled red potatoes,

(about 3/4-pound) diced

6 lean, center-cut loin pork chops

(1/2-inch thick)

3/4 cup skim milk

1/3 cup canned no-salt-added chicken broth

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1/3 cup chopped green onions

1/4 cup diced celery

1 clove garlic, minced

1-1/2 cups herb-seasoned stuffing mix

1/2 teaspoon sage

1 cup water

Cook potatoes in boiling water about 10 minutes; drain and set aside. Trim fat from chops. Coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray; place over medium-high heat until hot. Add chops; cook 2-1/2 minutes on each side; remove and set aside. Wipe drippings from pan with paper towel. Return chops to skillet and add milk, broth, juice and pepper. Bring to boil; cover; reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or until tender. Combine flour and 3 tablespoons cooking liquid; stirring well. Add to skillet; cook until thickened and bubbly; set aside and keep warm. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray; add oil and place over medium-high heat until hot. Add green onions, celery and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add potato; sauté 5 minutes until potato is browned. Add stuffing mix, sage and water; stir well. Reduce heat; cover; cook 3 minutes. Place chops on serving plates; top each with 1/2 cup stuffing mixture. Serve with gravy. Yield: 6 servings.

HALLOWEEN MOLASSES CUT-OUTS

(Fun to make with the kids.)

1 stick butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1 egg

1-1/2 teaspoons vinegar

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

frosting recipe:

4 cups powdered sugar

1 stick butter, softened

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 to 4 tablespoons milk

In a large mixer bowl, combine butter, sugar, molasses, egg and vinegar. Beat at medium speed until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add all remaining ingredients and beat until blended well, 1 to 2 more minutes. Divide dough into thirds; wrap in plastic food wrap. Refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or overnight. On surface covered with equal mixture of flour and sugar, roll out dough, one portion at a time (keeping remaining dough refrigerated), cut to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with assorted 2- to 3-inch cookie cutters. Place 1-inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350º for 8 to 10 minutes. Let stand 1 minute. Cool completely.

Frosting: In a small mixer bowl, combine all frosting ingredients, except milk. Beat at low speed and gradually add enough milk for desired spreading consistency. Decorate cooled cookies with frosting and decorator sugar, as desired. Yield: 4 dozen.

PUMPKIN, MACADAMIA, AND WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamon

2 sticks butter or margarine, softened

1/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 cup canned solid pack pumpkin

1 egg

2 teaspoons vanilla

1-1/2-cups (10-ounces) vanilla milk-chocolate chips

2/3 cup toasted macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350º. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and cardamom in a small bowl; set aside. In large mixer bowl, cream butter and add sugars. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla; beat until light and creamy. Add dry ingredients, mix well. Stir in vanilla chips and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto lightly greased cookie sheets. Flatten slightly with back of spoon. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet. Yield: 3 dozen cookies.

Any comments, questions or favorite recipes? I would love to hear from you. Feel free to send your email to helenkitchen@msn.com, and please write “Helen’s Kitchen Request, ATTN: Lori” in the subject line to make sure that I receive your email. Thank you.