Meg’s Cooking Corner

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I'm Thankful for Side Dishes!

It's almost Thanksgiving, the top food holiday of the year! Although I love this day, sometimes the food selection is predictable and well, boring. I'm grateful for unique side dishes to go along with that yearly turkey and pumpkin pie! Here are two twists on traditional favorites, I'll have to beg my mother-in-law for her sweet potato recipe later, it's superb!

If your family enjoys a cranberry sauce with their turkey, try this! We enjoy this every year. The fresh cranberries and orange make a far superior sauce than just jellied cranberry sauce. This recipe is from my mom and Aunt Kleis - thanks for sharing with us!

Cranberry-Orange Sauce
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp grated orange rind
1 pkg fresh cranberries

Mix together in saucepan. Cook until cranberries pop. Bring to a boil, then turn lower until they pop and thicken. Cool and store.

I found this recipe years ago amongst several recipes sent by a company trying to get me to buy their magazine. I'm not a fan of the popular green bean casserole but I do love this version that uses fresh green beans and fresh bread crumbs. If you decide to use store bought bread crumbs to save time, try the Panko bread crumbs. These Japanese crumbs are much better and crispier than the regular ones. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy that pumpkin pie!
Green Bean Casserole

Sauce:

1 1/2 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk
3-4 tsp dry ranch salad dressing mix
1/4-1/2 tsp pepper

Casserole:

1 cup chopped onion
2 gloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (can leave out if you don't like mushrooms)
1 1/4 pounds fresh green beans, cooked until crisp-tender

For white sauce: melt butter in small saucepan over low heat. Stir in flour; cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Using wire whisk, stir in milk; bring to a boil. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in dressing mix and pepper; set aside.

Preheat oven to 350. Spray medium skillet with nonstick cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until tender. Remove half of onion mixture; set aside. Add mushrooms to onion mixture remaining in skillet and cook about 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Combine mushroom mixture, green beans and white sauce in 1 1/2 quart casserole. Combine bread crumbs with reserved onion mixture; sprinkle over casserole. Bake, uncovered, until heated through, about 20 to 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Comforting Cream Cheese Potato Soup

We have had some very rainy weather lately. The foggy mornings and rainy days make me want to curl up next to a roaring fire with a good book and some steaming soup or hot chocolate in my hands. That doesn't happen as nearly as I would like, but at least I can make my comfort food! This is a new favorite I found on The Sisters Cafe cooking blog. I love potato soups and this one is wonderful!

Chicken Cream Cheese Soup
1 lb chicken (breasts, tenders or combo)
1 onion, diced
1-2 Tb butter
2 handfuls baby carrots (about 2 cups sliced small)
3-4 potatoes, diced small
1 c milk
1/4 c flour (to make gluten-free, use Pamela's GF flour blend)
8 oz package cream cheese

1. Put chicken in pot and cover with water; boil until cooked. Take chicken out of water but keep the broth. When chicken is cool, shred.
2. Saute onion in butter. Put onion in pot and add carrots and potatoes. Add 3-4 cups of water or enough to cover vegetables. Add bouillon cubes (I add 4 bouillon cubes). Bring to a boil and simmer until veggies are tender.
3. Mix flour with milk and add to soup. Soften cream cheese in microwave then add to soup in little pieces and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper.