Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thursday's Side Dish: Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

The Mixed Stew is on hiatus for the holiday. We are serving up oldies but goodies (re-runs) for the whole week. Happy New Year!

Post from October 12, 2009

Tossing together a tasty dish

Take al dente pasta and toss with sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan cheese for the foundation to a fancy pasta dish. Add pine nuts for a crisp crunch that compliments the chewy texture of pasta. We also suggest using whole wheat pasta.

What you will need:

1 pair of tongs
1 large bowl
1 package whole wheat or multigrain thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta
1/3 cup pine nuts, crushed
3 oz dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup parmesan, grated
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced or sliced really fine with a potato peeler
¼ cup fresh basil, sliced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt

Cooking and Directions:

Follow package’s directions for cooking pasta. Drain cooked pasta well. Let it cool to room temperature. Combine pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, basil, garlic, pepper and salt in large bowl. Add cooked pasta and mix well. Next, add parmesan and toss well with tongs. Garnish with minced fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

Optional Additions:

½ cup mushrooms, chopped
¼ cup olives, chopped
¼ cup green onions, chopped

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wednesday's Helping: Maple Syrup-Glazed Salmon

The Mixed Stew is on hiatus for the holiday. We are serving up oldies but goodies (re-runs) for the whole week. Happy New Year!

Post from September 28, 2009

A sweet seafood sensation

After a week of hearty pork selections, we’re feeling sluggish. Therefore, The Mixed Stew has opted to lighten up this week with salmon. Mix maple syrup with just a dash of cider vinegar and baste salmon filets with liquid blend. Season fish with a little sea salt and pepper then bake in preheated 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes for a tasty and healthy entrée. Simple ingredients combine for a sweet and savory main course. The syrup forms a sweet caramelized seal that locks in the salmon’s natural juices. Just make sure to spray the baking pan with cooking spray. If you want a little spice, add pepper flakes or a sprinkling of chili powder. The Mayo Clinic offers a recipe of its version of the dish here. Serve with fresh steamed green beans or corn -- whichever you prefer.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tuesday's Cupful: Chicken Kelaguen

The Mixed Stew is on hiatus for the holiday. We are serving up oldies but goodies (re-runs) for the whole week. Happy New Year!

Post from July 20, 2009

Forget the mayo with this twist on chicken salad

Chicken kelaguen is a dish that conjures up ceviche flavors. It is a signature dish from Guam. White and dark meat of chicken is cooked on a grill or under a broiler until just done (it is important not to overcook the chicken or let it sit too long after removing from heat). Then the chicken meat should be deboned, chopped finely, and mixed with grated coconut, freshly squeezed lemon juice, chopped green onions and hot peppers. Add salt and black or white pepper to taste. Next, refrigerate it for at least three hours so that the flavors can combine. Serve this at your next party with pita bread chips or tortilla chips. Small flour or corn tortillas are great too. Just wrap a serving of the kelaguen in the tortillas and eat like a soft taco. Serving this dish cold is a must. We don't get too wrapped up in portions for this recipe as it takes some trial and error for each cook to reach the right mix that he or she prefers. But if you must, here is one version of a recipe.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday's Bread Bowl: Swedish Meatballs

The Mixed Stew is on hiatus for the holiday. We are serving up oldies but goodies (re-runs) for the whole week. Happy New Year!

Post from September 14, 2009

Bring a taste of Sweden home
The slight minty flavor of dill combines with the rich texture of sour cream in this dish. Thank the Scandinavian region for producing such an elegant interpretation of ground beef and gravy. Serve Swedish meatballs on top of spaghetti noodles or with mashed potatoes. IKEA (Yes, the furniture store has a public cafeteria) serves it with lingonberry jam; however, we think that any good raspberry jam makes a fine substitute.

What you will need:

1 large frying pan with lid

1 wooden spoon

1 bag frozen meatballs (Armour, Simek, Mamma Lucia, or other favorite)

3 tablespoons butter

½ cup milk

½ cup water

1 can beef broth

¼ cup yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

Pinch of salt and pepper

1 16 oz container sour cream

2 teaspoons dried dill or 4-6 fresh stems, finely chopped

2 teaspoons dried parsley or 3-4 fresh stems, finely chopped

Cooking Directions:

Heat frying pan on medium-high for a few minutes. Add butter to heated pan. Next, throw in onions and garlic. Let the onions turn translucent and be careful not to burn the garlic. Pour in whole bag of frozen meatballs and lower heat to medium. Cook for at least 10-15 minutes so meatballs can sear a bit. Add canned broth, milk and water. Bring to a boil. Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste. Now, cover and let pan simmer for 25 minutes. Next, add the whole container of sour cream and mix well. Make sure to turn meat balls every so often. Throw in dill while mixing. Finally, cover and let it simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Toss parsley on top and give a final stir before removing from heat. Garnish with a little more dill. Serve and enjoy.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

Here's a link that will remind you to dream big and think happy thoughts during the Christmas season. The Mixed Stew wishes everyone a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thursday’s Favorite Thing: The Stock Pot

A traditional standby that makes sense
Every kitchen should have a stock pot. Pull out one of these for making stew, soup, boiling potatoes, or cooking pasta. The stock pot is great when preparing with family-size meals. The sizes range from 6-qt. to 12-qt. for home kitchens. Look for stock pots with heavy and solid bottoms, so that ingredients don’t burn during prolonged cooking times. Cheaper stock pots have thin construction, which can lead to ingredients burning onto the pot’s bottom surface. A stock pot usually has a round base, deep sides and a lid. Grandma had a stock pot she used in the outside kitchen, and it was big enough for her to put over the fire and braise an entire pork shoulder with soy sauce and seasonings. Mmmmm...
Note: For the holidays, The Mixed Stew is changing it up a bit and talking about some of our favorite things in the kitchen. We hope you enjoy this little break from the routine.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wednesday’s Favorite Thing: Chef’s Knife

A sharp kitchen companion

The modern chef’s knife ranges from 6 to 14 inches long and 1 ½ inches wide. It’s also known as a kitchen knife or French knife. There are two specific types of blades: German and French. The German chef’s knife has an obvious curve toward the pointy end of the blade. This allows for a rocking motion, so food is cut with the heel and belly of the blade. A French chef’s knife has no curve toward the pointy end of the blade, so food is sliced with a pulling motion toward the person using the knife. Cooks can select which type of blade is right for them. A good chef’s knife is useful with general cutting duties in the daily preparation of meals in the kitchen. The Mixed Stew reminds blog readers that they should also look for a knife with a sturdy handle. A cheaply made handle might break too easily. Also, sharpen your chef’s knife routinely to get the most out of it.

Note: For the holidays, The Mixed Stew is changing it up a bit and talking about some of our favorite things in the kitchen. We hope you enjoy this little break from the routine.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday’s Favorite Thing: Cast-Iron Skillet

A basic necessity that can pull double duty
The Mixed Stew crew is very fond of the cast-iron skillet. It’s heavy enough to confront burglars and can also crush ice cubes (just kidding). Make sure to season a new cast-iron skillet before actually cooking with it. Coat the skillet’s cooking surface with oil and then place it in a 350 degree preheated oven for an hour. A non-stick patina forms that gives the skillet a nonstick cooking surface. Cast iron is durable and oven-safe, which means that the skillet may be tapped for use in the oven. Cooks can safely start cooking a recipe on the stove and then finish it off in a hot oven with a cast-iron skillet. Use almost any utensil (steel spatulas, wooden spoons, etc…) to cook with cast iron. If they’re maintained well (routinely seasoned to prevent rust), pans (or cookware) made of cast iron will develop a non-stick cooking surface. Cast-iron cookware can last for many years. And in fact, the older, the better so keep an eye out for a used cast-iron skillet at yard sales or flea markets. Be wary of cooking with cast-iron cookware if you have trouble lifting and moving heavy things. Because they are heavy, they might not be the best option for older folks. Also, acidic foods (like tomatoes) will react with iron. Recipes with acidic foods and prolonged cooking times should not be cooked with cast iron.

Helpful Hint: People with iron deficiencies can benefit from using cast-iron cookware. Small amounts of iron leaches out into the food cooked in cast iron.

Note: For the holidays, The Mixed Stew is changing it up a bit and talking about some of our favorite things in the kitchen. We hope you enjoy this little break from the routine.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday’s Favorite Thing: Wooden Spoon

Stir it up with the right implement

The wooden spoon ranks high on The Mixed Stew’s list of kitchen tools for several reasons. They won’t scratch expensive cookware. Also, they work with cold and hot cooking temperatures. Wooden spoons are better for the environment when compared to plastic kitchen utensils. They are a throwback to old-fashioned outdoor kitchens. We’ve spotted wooden spoons at the local dollar store. But if you feel inclined to order online, here is one site to check out. Look for multiple sizes (lengths of the handle) that work in different cooking situations.

Note: For the holidays, The Mixed Stew is changing it up a bit and talking about some of our favorite things in the kitchen. We hope you enjoy this little break from the routine.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday’s Last Spoonful: Hot Cocoa

A kid-friendly option to coffee

Did you know that hot cocoa has a complex history? Hot cocoa is usually flavored with cocoa powder. The powder is a product of chocolate with the fatty and rich cocoa butter removed. The old Mexican recipe for this beverage contained wine, peppers, ground cocoa beans, and water. It didn’t contain any dairy-based ingredients. Milk was later added to hot cocoa by the British who enjoyed it as a treat after dinner. Don’t confuse hot cocoa with hot chocolate. Authentic hot chocolate is made from unadulterated chocolate that’s melted into cream. The modern luxury of instant hot cocoa means that people can make hot cocoa from individual packets that brew servings. Look for hot cocoa in the coffee and tea aisle of major grocery stores. Do you prefer to top your hot cocoa with marshmallows or whipped cream? Or do you prefer yours naked?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thursday’s Side Dish: Latte, Cappuccino, and Mocha

A choice of three coffee characters

There can be confusion regarding these gourmet coffee drinks. What makes them different? Here is a short primer regarding these java joint mainstays:

Caffè latte -The most basic of the espresso-based coffee drinks contains espresso and steamed milk. A good latte should also have a smooth texture. It’s not just warm milk. The steamed milk is infused with air, giving it a richer consistency. An unsweetened latte should have a strong coffee taste.

Cappucinno - A cappuccino consists of espresso and milk. The difference between a latte and cappucinno is in the preparation of the milk. There should be more air infused into the milk of a cappuccino compared to a latte. A good cappuccino is frothier and feels lighter than a latte of the same size.

Mocha – This is simply a latte with chocolate in the form of cocoa powder or chocolate syrup added to the formula. There are dark chocolate or milk chocolate varieties.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday’s Helping: Coffee

A jolt of java keeps the joints jumpin'

Before Red Bull and other energy drinks, there was the original: coffee. The popular beverage is brewed using the seeds of the coffee plant. Most of the beans come from the family called Coffea. The plant originated in western Africa and was cultivated for trade by Arabs as far back as the 15th Century. Today, coffee is a prized commodity all over the world; however, the plants grow well in tropical regions. The beans are found in the plant’s berries. The beans must be dried, roasted, and ground before they can be used to brew a cup of coffee. Remember that coffee may be addictive because it contains caffeine. If it's decaffeinated, it must be labeled as such on the packaging. Coffee also comes in various varieties including Jamaican (a rich coffee that tends to be dark), Kona (a premium coffee that comes from the Kona region of Hawaii), and the extreme Kopi Luwak Civet (or Civet coffee is a South East Asian coffee that’s made from coffee beans that have passed through the digestive system of the cat-like mammal called a Civet). Look for coffee sold as whole beans or ground. Recent health studies have shown that consumption of coffee may play a role in lowering the occurrence of Type 2 diabetes or Parkinson’s disease. On the other hand, moderation is the general recommendation when consuming coffee, soda, or any other beverages besides water.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday’s Cupful: Eggnog

Cheers with this libation

This dairy-based beverage appears just in time for the holidays. Eggnog’s main ingredients are milk, cream, sugar, and eggs. The eggs and cream give eggnog extra frothiness and richness when compared to plain milk. There are different stories regarding the origin of eggnog. American colonists called heavy drinks “grog,” so eggnog may have come from egg-and-grog. Meanwhile, Europeans used eggnog and wine punches to make toasts as far back as the 1600s. It was mostly enjoyed by high society. Luckily, modern eggnog can be bought at most major supermarkets during the Christmas season. More health-conscious drinkers can find low-fat eggnog and eggnog made with soymilk. Otherwise, homemade eggnog recipes are available. Use skim milk or substitute Splenda for sugar accordingly to make a diabetic-friendly eggnog. Other hard liquors served with eggnog include cognac, brandy, and rum.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday’s Bread Bowl: Eggnog-Kahlua

Ring in the season with zing
The creamy richness of eggnog combines with the zesty shot of coffee liqueur for an adult-rated holiday beverage treat. A little goes a long way when it comes to using the famous Mexican coffee liqueur with holiday eggnog. This grownups' drink is a great alternative to fruit punch at seasonal parties. Need a big batch? Combine 3 cups of eggnog with 1 cup Kahlua liqueur to make 1 quart of this mixed beverage. Serve it up hot or cold for party guests.
Helpful Hint: Sprinkle with nutmeg or cinnamon and have cinnamon sticks handy to use as stirrers. Guests might also like some whip topping. Feeling frisky? Try adding shredded dry coconut on whipped topping.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday’s Last Spoonful: Field Trip

Thai Cafe: Glen Burnie, Md.

The Mixed Stew crew has sampled stuffed Thai chicken wings at this homey restaurant. Thai Cafe is probably 10 minutes from BWI-Marshall Airport and a short drive into Anne Arundel County from either the Howard County or Baltimore County lines. The chicken wings are stuffed with seasoned pork, shrimp, cellophane noodles, and mushrooms. Next, the cook batters and fries the wings to a golden brown. Enjoy this appetizer with the sweet and tangy dipping sauce that accompanies a serving of three pieces ($6.95). Thai Cafe has a candlelit dining room with Asian artwork that’s charming. The restaurant also serves pad Thai, spicy soft shell crab, Thai curries, and pork with Thai basil. Try Thai-iced tea for a refreshing change. But if you prefer something a bit stronger, the restaurant is affiliated with a bar next door and liquor is available.

Helpful Hint: Thai chicken wings can be found at many Thai restaurants. Expect different variations. The Mixed Stew crew has sampled this dish in Los Angeles area restaurants and another Thai restaurant in Columbia, Md.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thursday’s Side Dish: Buffalo Chicken Pizza

A combination to savor sparingly
The combination of chicken and pizza seemed like such an odd combo years ago, but not so now it’s not unheard of. Try adding the spicy and tangy flavor of buffalo chicken to a store-bought cheese pizza for a yummy change that might rival carryout. Simply take precooked white meat chicken strips (leftovers are fine) and drench them in buffalo sauce. Next, spread “buffalo chicken strips” on top of your favorite frozen cheese pizza immediately before baking.

Other suggested toppings:
Red onion, sliced
Jalapeno or bell pepper, julienned sliced
Mushrooms, sliced

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wednesday’s Helping: Chicken Wings

These parts are something to flap about
Good wings can come in handy. Grab one (or some) and dip to your heart’s content. Chicken wings have a convenient size, which make them ideal for appetizers or munching in front of the television. Discard the wing tips because they have hardly any meat and easily burn. There are two edible parts: the drummette and the wing section aka wingette. These pieces are labeled party wings and are sold by the bagful at major supermarkets. Wing connoisseurs can find several restaurants that focus on preparing only this part of the fowl. Franchises like Cluck-U, Wings To Go, and Wing Stop serve chicken drummettes and wingettes in several flavors that may have varying amounts of spiciness. The Mixed Stew crew will have a branch of Wata Wing in our neighborhood soon and we’re looking forward to trying out their wings. Customers can order wings by the half-dozen, dozen, or several dozen and take them home. More than Buffalo wings are on restaurant menus. For example, The Sea Hut Inn near us makes a batch of wings seasoned with Old Bay seasoning. The Mixed Stew suggests braising wings parts in onions, garlic, and Italian dressing (or a favorite bottled sauce) if you’re in a pinch. Do you have a favorite chicken wing recipe?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuesday’s Cupful: Lose the Breading

Keeping it healthy with a lot of flavor
It’s no secret that many cooks fry chicken wings, pork chops, fish fillets, etc…with heavy breading or double-dip coatings that are high in carbs that contribute to high blood sugar levels. But what are healthy and flavorful options? The Mixed Stew prepares oven-fried chicken, as described in a previous post. We also suggest making customized dry rubs with salt, black pepper, and measured portions your favorite savory herbs and spices. Lightly coat poultry, meat and fish ingredients in a dry rub. Experiment by using ingredients like grated parmesan cheese or dry soup mixes. One way to achieve success with the method is to start the cooking process on the stovetop with an oven-safe pan, cooking spray, or a little cooking oil. Brown all sides of the meat you are using on the stove. Next, transfer the meat and pan to a preheated oven set at 350 degrees. Finish off the cooking process by baking the lightly coated ingredients. Adjust cooking time as needed.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday’s Bread Bowl: Buffalo Wings

A fowl snack for the football fanatic

Football season is in championship rounds so it's the perfect time to revisit a game favorite. We don’t recommend frying in our Buffalo wing recipe. The secret is to place the baked wings under the broiler for a few minutes to make the chicken wings crispier. Try our rendition out for the next game party. Here is our recipe:

What you will need:

1 wooden spoon
1 small saucepan
1 large bowl
1 large baking pan
Non-stick cooking spray
18 wings’ pieces
¾ cup hot sauce
1 stick of butter
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
Pinch of salt

Cooking and directions:

Buffalo Sauce - Heat saucepan on medium heat. Melt butter in pan then add hot sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper and mix over heat. Add salt to your liking. Bring everything to a slow simmer while constantly stirring. Pour sauce into large bowl and let cool to room temperature.

Wings - Preheat oven at 375 degrees. Spray baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Lay out thawed wings (pat them dry with paper towels) on greased pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Put the pan into the preheated oven for 30 minutes of baking time. After first 15 minutes of baking, take wings out of the oven and turn them over. Return them to bake for remaining 15 minutes. After baking, change the oven setting to broil. Place the wings under the broiler for 2 to 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn wings.

Finally, dip and/or toss broiled wings in Buffalo sauce. Serve immediately with blue cheese or ranch dressing. Have cut celery sticks on the side.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday’s Last Spoonful: Field Trip

Linda's Cafe: East Hagatna, Guam
Guam has a dining tradition in Linda’s Café, which is on the beach side of Marine Drive in East Hagatna. The homey atmosphere is just what you would expect in a kitchenette. Linda’s Café attracts a diverse crowd of patrons. Expect to see co-workers, nightclubbers, businessmen, and families enjoying the food. Linda’s Café offers popular Guam fare, such as: fried spam and eggs, oxtail stew, the Chamorro sausage omelet, and even ramen noodle soup. If you crave American cuisine, try the bacon cheeseburger or fried chicken dinner. Linda’s kitchen is open at all hours of the day for those unusual midnight cravings. Chamorro-style chicken soup (kadun manok) and Filipino porridge (arroz caldo) are also offered for those with more local tastes. Order the Chamorro sausage breakfast platter during dinner time and vice versa for dinner dishes in the morning.

Pictured above: The Chamorro Sausage Breakfast Platter at Linda's Cafe

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thursday's Side Dish: Criss Cross Chorizo

Fries get a meaty island flavorThe Mixed Stew crew found this island-spiced interpretation of loaded fries at King’s Restaurant in Guam. It's a big plate of crispy waffle fries with sour cream, chives, and melted cheese. Now, add a generous amount of crumbled Chamorro sausage on top. King’s calls this menu item the “Criss Cross Chorizo.” The spiced meat flavor combines with fried potato and other toppings for a combo reminiscent of nachos. It's a pretty decadent and heavy appetizer that actually could substitute for a meal. The online menu lists the price at $8.95.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wednesday’s Helping: Quinoa for Breakfast

Answering a wakeup call with the first meal
Quinoa is a neat alternative to oatmeal, grits, or cream of rice. It’s healthy, yummy and easy to prepare. Just follow the directions on the outside of the package. Add low-fat or skim milk to freshly cooked quinoa. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top. Mix in sunflower seeds, nuts, or granola clusters for an added bite. Other great toppings: raisins, yogurt-covered raisins, honey, butter, fresh fruit, or maple syrup. Feeling frisky? Add dried cranberries for a tangy kick. Of course, we suggest topping servings with a moderate number of mini marshmallows to get kids digging into bowls of quinoa in the morning.

Helpful Hint: For a richer and creamier blend, substitute milk for water when cooking quinoa.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday’s Cupful: Hawaiian Portuguese Sausage

A meaty bite from the islands
Hawaiian Portuguese sausage comes in large links that are prepared for breakfast in Hawaii and Guam. The big links are sliced into rounds that are pan-fried or grilled. The flavor is porky with a slight sweetness and hints of specific herbs and spices, such as paprika. Breakfast platters in Guam and Hawaii consist of 3 to 5 pieces of Hawaiian Portuguese sausage, fried eggs, and steamed rice. In the islands, McDonald’s restaurants include Hawaiian Portuguese sausage on the morning menu. Hawaiian Portuguese sausage may be considered a regional variant of the more widely known Portuguese linguica. Portuguese immigrants and sailors brought sausage to Hawaii in the early 1800s.

The flavor is less acidic, sweeter, and milder than linguica. The Mixed Stew crew orders Hawaiian Portuguese sausage. It's not easy to find on the East Coast, and after a search of retail outlets that might carry the product, we gave up. But thanks to a friend, we discovered an outfit in Maui that will ship the sausages at a reasonable price. We stock up in winter to allow the sausages to stay cool during shipping. So right about now is the time to consider placing an order. Try some Hawaiian Portuguese sausage for the holidays!