Food, Recipes

Cooking Light

If you are standing in line at the grocery or drug store checkout and see this magazine, buy it.  I can’t promise you will slim down but be assured you will prepare some very tasty recipes.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve tried many….chicken and vegetable hand pies, meatloaf with mushroom gravy,  basil ricotta ravioli with spinach, lentil shepherd’s pie to name a few, and all were delish.  

A real favorite that sent mouth watering fragrance while cooking was Slow Cooker Sausage Cassoulet.    We are crazy about the traditional cassoulet, but this one is a close second and much easier to prepare.  The recipe is definitely one worth sharing.

Slow Cooker Sausage Cassoulet

1 t. olive oil

1 1/2 c. chopped yellow onion

1 1/2 c. diagonally cut carrot

1 c. chopped peeled turnip

1/2 c. chopped celery

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 15 oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

2 (4 oz.) links fully cooked sweet Italian chicken sausage, chopped*

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes

3/4 c chicken stock

2 t. chopped fresh thyme

1/2 t. kosher salt

1/4 t. black pepper

1 bay leaf

1 T. unsalted butter

1/2 c. whole grain breadcrumbs

1/4 c. grated Parmesan

2 T. chopped parsley

Heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet.  Add onion, carrot, turnip, celery and garlic; cook , about 5 minutes.**

Place mixture in a slow cooker.  Add beans, sausage, tomatoes, chicken stock and seasonings.  Cover and cook on low 8 hours or until vegetables are tender.

Melt butter in a small skilled.  Add breadcrumbs; cook until browned, stirring frequently.  Remove pan from heat, stir in cheese.  Stir half of mixture into cassoulet in cooker; sprinkle remaining mixture and parsley over each serving.

*I wasn’t able to find chicken sausage links so I used a ground Italian turkey sausage and browned it with the vegetables.  It worked fine as would any Italian sausage.

**If you have a multi purpose cooker, this step can be done in the cooker which means one less pan to clean.

This recipe makes about 6 servings and thankfully, there was enough left for another meal.  The cassoulet may  may have even even better the second time around.

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Food, Tablescapes

One Last Time

white tablescapeWhen I like something, I really like it!  So it is with the collection of white pumpkins and squash that have appeared here and here.  I couldn’t bear to leave them behind so they traveled from Maine to Houston and have found themselves surrounded by all new things.  

tablescapeFor a different look, the pumpkins and squash rest on a glass top table atop two pieces of burlap used as table runners.    Add a bit of fall colored ribbon and candle holders gussied up with the same ribbon and here is a new look using the whites, now sporting a slight yellowish tint, one last time.

tablescapeAdding a little kick to the table is handpainted pottery from Ravello, Italy.   Each plate has a different critter, but what the plates have in common is a touch of orange that goes right with the ribbon.

tablescapeWith such fun pieces on the table, it need not be fussy so nothing more is added except for napkins that again repeat the colors in the ribbon as well as complement the pottery.

 pumpkin tablescapeLight the candles for a soft glow

pumpkin tablescapeand  there you have it, a table using the whites one last time unless, that is,  I decide to do something with them for Christmas.  Think they will last that long?

As I set the table I was thinking about what to have for dinner.  Chicken breasts are in the refrigerator, and with a little cool snap headed this way, I’m getting out the Cuisinart multi cooker to prepare Moroccan Chicken with Couscous.  It’s simple, tasty and fills the house with wonderful aroma as it simmers away.

Moroccan chickenMoroccan Chicken with Couscous

8-10 chicken pieces, bone in

2 T. olive oil

1/2 large yellow onion, chopped

3 bay leaves

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 t. ground cumin

1/2 c. dry white wine

1/2 c. chicken stock

Season chicken with salt and pepper; brown on both sides in hot oil.  Remove and sauté onions, bay leaves and garlic until softened.  Add cumin, 1/2 t. salt,wine and stock.  Transfer to slow cooker and add chicken.  Cover and cook on low setting for about 3 1/2 hours.


Bring 1 1/4 c. chicken stock and 1/2 t. salt to a boil.  Pour hot stock over 1 1/4 c. couscous.  Add 3/4 c. raisins, cover and let stand about 5 minutes or until stock is absorbed.  Fluff with a fork and add 1 can of chickpeas, well drained,  1/2 c. lemon vinaigrette, 1/2 t. cumin and 2 T. chopped parsley.

To serve, mound couscous in the center of a plate, top with chicken, drizzle with pan liquid and top with toasted, sliced almonds.


Combine 1 t. Dijon mustard, 1 T. white wine vinegar, 1 t. lemon zest. 2 T. lemon juice, 1/4 c. olive oil, salt and pepper.

Savor every bite and don’t be surprised if seconds are requested.

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Asian Style Short Ribs

Asian tableWith an Asian inspired table, how could the menu not follow suit?  I had just gotten some beautiful boneless short ribs from Costco and thought they just might lend themselves to some of the exotic flavors I so enjoyed on my recent trip to Southeast Asia.

Seasoned with Asian spices and prepared in a slow cooker the ribs were not only tasty, they were so tender they melted in your mouth.  As a side, I prepared a stir fried rice with pineapple which was a perfect complement for the flavorful meat.

Asian Style Short Ribs Asian Style Short Ribs

3-4 lbs. boneless short ribs

1 t. five spice powder

1/4 c. each hoisin sauce and ketchup or chili sauce

2 T. rice vinegar

2 T. soy sauce

1 T. fish sauce

1 T. honey

1 small onion, chopped

1 T. peeled and finely chopped ginger

4-6 cloves minced garlic

Season the short ribs with salt, pepper and 5 spice powder.  Brown on all sides in a skillet or multi cooker.

Mix together the remaining ingredients.  Place the ribs in your slow cooker and pour the sauce over them.  Cook for approximately 5 hours or until meat is very tender.  You will love the smell that fills your house as the meat is simmering away!

Serve on a warmed plate or bowl.  Spoon some of the sauce on the ribs and top with daikon salad.

For the salad, combine  a daikon radish and 2 carrots, both julienned or grated, 1 minced shallot and 1/2 c. cilantro or Italian parsley.  Add 3 T. peanut oil and 1 T. rice vinegar.  Mix well.

Asian Style Sort RibsNow, here’s where I have a confession.  I made the salad, put it in the refrigerator and FORGOT to use it.  Rather than looking like the first photo, the finished dish should have been like this on the plate.  Oh well, no one knew, and it didn’t keep the meal from being enjoyed.

Just wondering, do you ever not get everything on the table?

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On the Menu Monday


Check it Out!

While browsing Houston this week, I stopped in at Williams Sonoma to see what’s new in the world of kitchen gadgets.  Here’s what caught my eye, Cuisinart’s new slow cooker.

I’ve never been one for crock pot cooking, but look at what this one can do: roast, sear/brown, steam and slow cook.  Now, that’s like having a steamer, cooktop and oven all rolled into one.  Plus it’s a very nice looking piece of equipment, clean lines, compact, so I just had to have it.

Or maybe it was this cookbook I had to have, and to try them the slow cooker was a necessity.

It was hard to decide what to cook first, so I made a random selection which turned out to be a very good choice.  Take a look!

Asian-Style Short Ribs

6 lbs. beef short ribs

salt and freshly ground pepper, 3/4 t. five spice powder

1/4 c. each hoisin sauce and ketchup, or 1/2 c. ketchup

2 T. rice vinegar

2 T. soy sauce

1 T. Asian fish sauch

1 T. honey

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 T. peeled and minced fresh ginger

5 cloves minced garlic

Season the ribs with salt, pepper and 5 spice powder.  Brown ribs in slow cooker on both sides, about  5 minutes per side.

Stir together the hoisin sauce and ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, honey, onion, ginger and garlic.  Pour over the ribs, coating evenly.  Cover and cook on slow cook, low setting for about 6 hours.

To serve, divide the ribs among warm shallow bowls or plates, moisten with some of the juices and top with daikon salad if desired.

Daikon Salad

1 large daikon, peeled and shredded or julienned

2 carrots, peeled and shredded or julienned

1 shallot, minced

1/2 c. cilantro or parsley

Add 3 T. peanut or salad oil and 1 T. rice vinegar.  Toss to coat ingredients evenly.

The cooking aromas were divine,  the finished result  yummy the meat so tender it fell off the bone and the flavors delightful.  I served the ribs with stir fried baby bok choy,  a nice accompaniment.

If you like the sound of this recipe, I think it could easily be done on the stovetop.  The ribs could be browned under the broiler or in a frying pan.  What I loved about the slow cooker is that it eliminated the extra steps, and, by the way, it is very easy to clean as the cooking pot lifts right out.  In my opinion Cuisinart has a winner with this appliance.

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