Follow me on a journey through the Duxbury Free Library's cookbooks. Together we will explore new recipes, new cookbooks, and life's adventures through food.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Recipe Referal

Some of my best recipes come from referrals.  Either I taste something at a party and ask for the recipe, or someone tells me about a recipe that they tried and liked.  This weeks recipe is one of those referrals.  Carol, a co-worker at the circulation desk, told me about a recipe from Ellie Krieger's cookbook "The Food You Crave".

The recipe was for Tuscan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables, and I agree with her it was a really good recipe.  I had most of the ingredients at home, I only had to buy a bulb of fennel and a lemon.

The recipe went together very easily.  Cut up your veggies and put them into a sprayed baking pan and season.

Top the veggies with your skinless chicken breasts.

Mix together lemon juice and zest, oil, garlic, salt and pepper and rub the tops of the chicken with this mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes and then mix the veggies and sprinkle the rosemary over everything, bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes until the chicken is done.

I did use less of the veggies than the recipe called for because I knew that I would be the only one eating them.  My family doesn't know what they are missing.  These veggies were delicious and I was more than happy to not share. This meal was great as leftovers also.

And speaking of leftovers, be sure to check out the next blog to find out what I did with my leftover chicken and the scraps that I had left when I cleaned the chicken.

Tuscan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

6 Roma tomatoes (about 1 pound)
3 medium zucchini (about 1/2 pound each)
1 bulb fennel
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 bone-in chicken breast halves (about 2 1/2 pounds), skin removed
4 cloves garlic, finely minced (about 4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the tomatoes lengthwise into quarters and remove the seeds.  Trim the zucchini and cut it in half crosswise.  Then cut each piece in half lengthwise twice if the piece is thin and three times if it is thicker, so that the pieces are relatively uniform.

Remove the outermost layer of fennel bulb and discard.  Cut the bulb in half sio that each half retains part of the stem end.  Cut each half into 8 thin wedges so each wedge is held together by a little piece of stem.

Put the vegetables in a large baking dish.  toss them with 2 tablespoons of oil and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt.  Arrange the chcken pieces in the pan with the vegetables.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt, the garlic, and lemon zest and juice.  Rub the mixture into the chicken in the pan.  Season with a few turns of pepper.  Roast for 30 minute, then give the vegetables a stir and add the rosemary.  Return to the oven and roast until the chicken is just cooked all the way through and the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, 20 to 30 minutes more.

Friday, September 27, 2013

What do I do with all those chipotle peppers?

I hate when I find a recipe that I want to make and it calls for a small amount of an ingredient that I have to buy a large amount of.  Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are a perfect example.  You only use one or two peppers for most recipes, but the can has 8 to 10 peppers in it.  I do love this ingredient, it adds a great smokey taste to recipes and some nice heat.  I always add it to my chili recipes, and it makes a great spread if you grind up one pepper and mix it with some of the adobo sauce and mayonnaise.  Just taste it for the heat level.

 I never use up a whole can at one time though, so I put the remainder of the can into a small freezer bag and flatted it out.  You can then freeze it and just break off a chunk when you need it for a new recipe.  Notice in my ingredients picture, the small bag.  That is the chipotle.  I also did the same thing with my left over tomato paste from the last recipe.  When I need a tablespoon or two next time I can just break off a piece.

Last weeks chili recipe called for 1 1/2 lbs of ground beef, but I had a 2 lb package.  Since I am trying to follow the recipes mostly as written I had an extra 1/2 lb of ground beef.  I decided to add this beef to the bowl that I had mixed the tomatoes in.  This bowl still had a little bit of tomato and seasoning in it.  I also added some chopped pepper and onions and then formed it into burgers.  I popped them in the freezer, and there is dinner one night for DH and me.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Magazine recipes are keepers!

I think I have come up with a new diet, it is called the Patriots stomachache diet.  My goodness I love those boys, but they make me so nervous watching them each week. I need one of those blow-out weeks where we are accused of running up the score.  It has been a while.

September 7th Pats 23 Bills 21 / September 11th Pats 13 Jets 10

But anyway back to cooking.  I tried both of the recipes that I wrote about last time.  Chipotle Beef and Black Bean Chili and Raspberry-Chip Coffee Cake from the Family Circle Magazine.  Both of the recipes are keepers.

The Chili was very easy to make and I loved that it cooked in the slow cooker. I was concerned that the hamburger wouldn't cook well and would clump together, but it didn't as you will see in the following pictures.

Chop one red pepper, one green pepper, a large onion and the garlic.  Place in the slow cooker, then add the hamburger.  I broke it up with my hands so it was loose and then mixed it with the veggies. (Sorry picture slightly blurry)

In a large bowl mix the tomato (I used one can of petite diced tomatoes and one can of tomato sauce, because my family doesn't like large chunks of tomato), chipotle peppers ( I used two, but it does make for a spicy chili, use only one to make it less spicy), and spices.  Pour this over the meat and veggies and mix together.

Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 8 hours adding beans for last 30 minutes and ta-da yummy chili is ready when you are.

Now for dessert.  Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another. Then mix together.

Mix in the chocolate chunks (I used mini chocolate chips and they did settle on the bottom, next time I will look for the mini chocolate chunks and flour them before I add them to the batter).  Pour this mixture into a sprayed 8x8 pan and top with raspberries (I broke my berries in 1/2 before I put them on the cake).

Mix the topping ingredients until crumbly (be sure to get the butter well incorporated). Add to the top of cake and bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

Give these recipes a try, and maybe eat before the Patriots game so you can really enjoy the food.

Next post I will give you some tips on what to do when you have too much of an ingredient.

Slow Cooker Chipotle Beef and Black Bean Chili

1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large red pepper, seeded and diced
1 large green pepper, seeded and diced
1 1/2 lbs ground beef chuck
2 cans (14.5 oz each) stewed tomatoes
3 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, seeded and chopped
2 cans (15 ox each)black beans, drained and rinsed
Tortilla chips and sour cream (optional)

1. Coat the bowl of a slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.  Place onion, garlic, peppers, and ground beef in bottom of slow cooker.
2. in a medium bowl, combine tomatoes thru chipotle peppers.  Pour over ground beef and mix lightly.
3. Cover and hook on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours.  Stir in beans during last 30 minutes of cooking time.
4.  Serve with crushed tortilla chips and sour cream, if desired.

Raspberry-Chip Crumb Cake

1 1/4 cups all -purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract\
1/2 cup dark mini chocolate baking chunks
1 container raspberries (6 oz), about 1 1/2 cups

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat an 8x8x2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  In a small bowl, whisk together egg, milk, oil and vanilla.
3. Make a well in center of flour mixture.  Add egg mixture to well and beat with a wooden spoon 1 minute, until evenly moistened; stir in chocolate chunks.  Spoon into prepared pan and top with raspberries.

1. In a small bowl, combine flour and sugar.  Cut in butter with pastry blender until crumbly.  Stir in walnuts.  Sprinkle topping evenly over raspberries.
2. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on wire rack.  Cut into 9 squares.  This cake is best eaten on the day it's made.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Patriots and Zinio and Food, some of my favorite things!!!

I was reading the new issue of Family Circle magazine on my iPad yesterday.  There was an article called Good To Go!, 10 take-it-with-you ideas for tailgates, potlucks or anywhere there's a hungry crowd.
 There are three reasons why this should be of interest to you:

#1 - MAGAZINES. You might ask how I was reading a magazine on my iPad.   I was using a great application that OCLN provides for free called Zinio.  Zinio is a great way to get all the new issues of more than 120 magazines free and as soon as they come out.  No waiting for anyone else to return a magazine or waiting for a new issue to come out so you can check it out.  Just pull up our catalog on your computer and on the right hand side you will see NEW IN THE LIBRARY. Under that is Zinio downloadable magazines.  Click there and follow the directions.  You to will be able to get all the magazines you could want instantly.

#2 - FOOTBALL!!! I am so excited about this link! I am a huge Patriots fan and I will often schedule my Sundays to work at the library around the Patriots schedule.  If  I have to work on a day when the Pats are playing,  you are sure to see me at the Circulation Desk with a pin that says "Please don't share the score", because I have the game recording at home.

#3 - TAILGATING.  Whether at home or at a game, tailgating food is a favorite with my family.  I am always on the look-out for new recipes so I've decided to share with you the recipes I find in magazines as well as in the great cookbooks we have at the library.  This week I will be trying Slow Cooker Chipotle Beef  and Black Bean Chili and Raspberry-Chip Crumb Cake.  I will let you know how they turn out, but in the mean time, check out Zinio.

Busy, Busy, Busy!!!

Both DSs were off to school on Monday, so hopefully things will slow down at home..  However, last week was a different story; packing, shopping, laundry, cleaning and organizing kept me pretty busy.  That doesn't allow for a break from cooking though, so I thought I would share with you a couple of easy dinners that got me through the crazies.

 The first is my French Dip, which consists of a quick au-jus made by sauteing a small onion chopped with a clove of garlic in a tablespoon of oil.  When translucent, I add about two tablespoons of flour, cooking for a minute or two, then I whisk in a box of beef stock.  The flour doesn't actually thicken the stock, it just gives it a slightly opaque quality.  I season this with Montreal steak seasoning to taste.  When I get to this point, the DH is capable of getting dinner on the table when I am at work.  He only has to re-heat the au-jus, add sliced roast beef from the deli, and heat through.  The warmed meat is placed on rolls that are toasted in the oven with slices of swiss or provolone cheese.  Serve with juice on the side for dipping and french fries or chips. Really easy and super good.

The second meal came about because DH said he was in the mood for Italian sausage pizza.  However, neither one of us felt like going out and funds were on the low side.  Therefore, Italian Sausage Pasta Bake was born.  I had some Italian sausage in the freezer, green peppers and onions. I defrosted the sausage in the microwave, sliced one green pepper, one medium onion and sauteed those in a little olive oil, seasoning with salt, pepper, garlic powder, a few red pepper flakes, AND oregano, just like a pizza!  When the sausage was defrosted, I noted it happened to be Italian chicken sausage, although any sausage would be fine.  I sliced the sausage, added it to the veggies and cooked this until the sausage was done.  Because of my sausage was precooked it only took about 10 minutes, however, if you are using regular sausage I would cook this separately from the veggies and then mix the two together. I then added a can of crushed tomatoes, letting it simmer while I boiled a box of penne.  I mixed everything together and put it in a casserole dish, topped with Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, baking in the oven just until the cheese melted (about 10 minutes).  This literally took about 30 minutes from start to finish.  Great busy night dinner.

Enjoy, and I hope these can help get you through the crazies.

Sneek peek for my next post, downloadable magazines, cooking and football.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

First Day of School, WOOHOO!?!

First day of school, or is it the last day of summer?  I kind of have mixed feelings.  It will be nice to get back into the routines that are necessary to survive the school year, but I will really miss sleeping as late as we want and not worrying if dinner doesn't make it to the table before 6:30.  Oh and homework, I am sure that most parents love it just as much as the kids do (not!).  But anyway, back to baking.  I figured it would be a nice surprise to have homemade cookies available for an after school treat.  So I took some time and made the recipe for Chocolate-Caramel Surprise Cookies, from "The Flying Brownie" by Shirley Fan.

First combined the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

Cream the butter and sugars until fluffy and then add the eggs and vanilla.

Mix in the dry ingredients and then place in the refrigerator for an hour to chill. I always put my dough into a flatter bowl, so that it will chill more quickly, and if I am in a real rush, I will even put it into the freezer for a little while.

Scoop about 2 teaspoons of dough (I used a 2 teaspoon ice cream scoop) and then press a Rolo into the middle and form into a ball.  Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet, (I was out of parchment paper so I used non-stick aluminum foil) for about 9 to 10 minutes (mine took 11 minutes).

These cookies were fairly easy to make and tasted delicious, the cookie is nice and soft and chocolaty and the caramel stays soft and chewy in the center.
Chocolate-Caramel Surprise Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (12 ounce) package chocolate-covered caramel candies (such as Rolos)

1.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla, and mix until combined.  Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated.  Refrigerate the dough for at leas 1 hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking liners. Unwrap the candies.

4.  Taking a small amount of cookie dough (about 2 teaspoons), stuff the caramel candy into the dough and roll the dough around it, making a ball.  Make sure that the candy is not exposed or else it will not stay inside the cookie.  Place the balls on the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.  Bake until the cookies have firm edges but soft centers, 9 to 10 minutes.

5.  Cool the cookies completely on the baking sheets.  Repeat with the remaining dough.  Pack in zipper-top plastic bags, pressing out any air, or in airtight containers, separating the layers with waxed or parchment paper.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Black beans last week, cookies this week!

So after being asked to eat black beans last week, DD (Jillian) asked for a dessert this week.  It just so happens that a new cookbook to come across my desk today was "The Flying Brownie", by Shirley Fan.  The sub-title is 100 Recipes for homemade treats that pack easily, ship fresh, and taste great.  It sounds like it could be the ticket. Especially with both my DSs (CJ and Eric) going off to school next week, maybe and idea for a care package??? 

The cook book has many classic recipes, including; Chewy Gooey Blondies, Classic Snickerdoodles, Chewy Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies, Double-Ginger Molasses Cookies and Autumn Spiced Pumpkin Loaf.  It also has some very different recipes, including; ANZAC Biscuits, Chinese Almond Cookies, Cornmeal-Blueberry Biscotti, Almond, Fig, and Apricot Squares, and Earl Grey-Meyer Lemon Tea Bread. This book even has a chapter called Shippable Savories and includes recipes for; Sriracha Party Nuts, Golden Cheddar Coins, and Old Bay Nut Mix, among others.

I am leaning towards trying the recipe for either Box Office Brownies, Chewy Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies, or Chocolate-Caramel Suprise Cookies.  What do you think?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cooking Light: Good Mood Food

So this is my very first recipe post and I realized I am going to have a problem.  I am a chronic recipe adapter.  What this means, is that I love to read cookbooks and find great recipe ideas and then just use the recipe as a springboard for how I think the recipe should really be done.  This works out fine in my real life,
 and I would whole heartedly encourage you to take that approach if you are comfortable with it. However, for this blog,  I want to share the actual cookbook recipe with you as it is written.  So I will try to adhere to the recipe (at least mostly) as written. I will occasionally substitute an ingredient (because I already have a similar ingredient on hand) or add more or less of an ingredient (because I do have to convince my family to eat these recipes), but I will always be sure to tell you exactly what the recipe called for.
So as promised, here is a recipe from “Cooking Light Good Mood Food; Cook up some feel-good vibes!”.

One of the things that I first loved about this cookbook was the color photos.  There is a photograph for each recipe and the overall feeling of the cookbook is happy, light and fun.

 With chapters that include; Sweet Rapture: Eat Dessert First!, Nibble & Sip: Starters & Snacks, Eat With Your Fingers! Sandwiches, and Totally Perfect Mornings: Breakfast, I knew I was in for a feel-good time.  After considerable mouthwatering thoughts I decided to try Southwestern-Style Shrimp Taco Salad.
The marinade for the shrimp and the dressing are one in the same including lime juice, olive oil, cumin, garlic, maple syrup, and chipotle hot sauce.

One tablespoon of this is drizzled on the shrimp (I used 1 pound) and the rest is saved for the dressing. The shrimp is then cooked on the grill along with 2 ears of corn.

After cutting the corn from the cob, it is combined with the shrimp, chopped lettuce (I used 2 cups), green onions, cilantro, plum tomatoes, black beans and lime dressing and tossed.

Place on top of the tortilla chips and serve with about 1 tablespoon of the sour cream/avocado mixture (I added 2 teaspoons of the chipotle hot sauce to the mixture) and an additional lime wedge.
So the final verdict for this recipe is that I thought it was delicious.  However, my DD would only eat the shrimp and the tomatoes, and DH informed me that it is official he doesn't like cilantro at all.  Would I make it again? I definitely would for a party, or an occasion where more than just I would be eating it.

Southwestern-Style Shrimp Taco Salad
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons chipotle hot sauce
¾ pound medium shrimp
   Peeled and de-veined
2 ears shucked corn
Cooking spray
1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
½ cup chopped green onions
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can black beans,
     Rinsed and drained
2 ounces baked blue corn tortilla chips
     (about 1 ½ cups)
Lime wedges (optional)

1.        Preheat grill to medium-high heat
2.      Combine lime juice through hot sauce siring with a whisk.  Place shrimp in a shallow bowl.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon lime juice mixture over shrimp, tossing gently to coat.  Reserve remaining lime juice mixture; set aside.  Thread shrimp onto metal skewers.  Lightly coat corn with cooking spray.  Place shrimp kebabs and corn on grill rack coated with cooking spray.  Grill 8 minutes, turning kebabs once and turning corn frequently until browned.  Remove from grill; cool slightly.
3.        Remove shrimp from skewers, and place on a large bowl.  Cut kernels from ears of corn.  Add corn, chopped lettuce, green onions, cilantro, plum tomatoes, and black beans to shrimp.  Drizzle reserved lime juice mixture over shrimp mixture, and toss gently to combine.
4.        Divide tortilla chips evenly among 6 bowls; top each serving with 1 cup shrimp mixture.  Combine sour cream and diced avocado in a small bowl; mach with a fork until well blended.  Top each serving with about 1 tablespoon mixture.  Serve with a lime wedge, if desired.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Hi, my name is Lisa and I have been working at the Duxbury Free Library for about 3 years. I am the mother of 3. Two sons, 21 and 19 and a daughter, 10 (I know, what was I thinking). I am also the grandmother of a 2 year old girl (it wasn’t me that wasn’t thinking this time). I love to cook and have been doing so since I was able to climb up on a stool and help my grandmothers spread the pizza dough. I give them all the credit for inspiring my love of food and feeding people.

I have three passions in life; family, books, and cooking. In this blog I hope to share some of my insight into how I use each of these to enhance the others. Each week I will be trying a recipe from one of the cookbooks that we have here at the Duxbury Free Library and sharing the results with you. I will also be throwing in some hints, tips and ideas that I have accumulated for cooking and celebrating food.

Look for my first entry from a cookbook whose title made me smile, Cooking Light good mood food : cook up some feel-good vibes!. Coming soon.