Chase away the chill with these sizzling recipes.
By Janet Groene, F47166
In many parts of the country, November takes a bad rap for motor coach travel, so let’s give it a warm reception by preparing hot, comforting dishes. Here are some ideas to heat up your autumn menus.
Panini For Two
This recipe is from 200 Best Panini Recipes (see “Books for Cooks” section). If you don’t have a panini grill, make these pressed, toasted sandwiches in a skillet. Place the sandwiches in one skillet and top with a second skillet, foil-wrapped and weighted with a brick or heavy pot. Made this way, the panini must be turned to brown both sides.
I also have made panini in a 400-degree oven. Place the sandwiches on a sprayed cookie sheet, buttered sides out. Coat the bottom of a second cookie sheet with nonstick spray, weight it with heavy pans or bricks, and place it over the sandwiches. Bake until they are toasty on the outside. No flipping is necessary, although browning may be darker on one side than the other.
4 slices pumpernickel bread
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 ounces smoked turkey breast, sliced
2 ounces Brie, rind removed and cheese thinly sliced
6 thin slices from a Granny Smith apple
1/4 cup alfalfa sprouts
1/4 cup Russian dressing
Brush one side of the bread with butter and place on the work surface butter side down. Add the turkey, Brie, apple slices, and sprouts. Drizzle with dressing and add the top slice of bread, butter side up. Cook in a panini grill for three to four minutes or until toasted.
Corn Cob Soup
Loaded with corny flavor, this soup is a good choice for lunch the day after a cookout. While you have the grill fired up, put on extra corn for this soup. Once grilled, the corn can be refrigerated up to three days.
4 medium ears corn, shucked and rubbed with canola oil
1 cup water
1 quart chicken broth
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons butter
Minced parsley, optional
Sour cream, optional
Grill the corn until it’s golden with flecks of brown. Cool and refrigerate for future use. To proceed, run a sharp knife down the middle of each row of kernels. Cut the kernels from the cob and set them aside. Bring the water and broth to a boil in a large saucepan; add the corn cobs; cover; and simmer over low heat for approximately 20 minutes. Remove the cobs with tongs and discard them. In a small skillet cook the onion and garlic in butter until soft and stir the combination into the cob broth; add the corn that was removed from the cobs. Heat through and add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with minced parsley. Add a dollop of sour cream if you wish. This recipe makes four servings.
Pasta Salad Surprise
This salad can be served slightly warm or at room temperature, alone or to anchor a soup-and-salad meal. The surprise is the flavorful marinated cheese. String cheese can be cut with a knife or scissors.
6 to 8 pieces string cheese
½ cup red wine vinaigrette dressing
½ cup fresh basil, cut in ribbons
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
Handful minced parsley
1 12-ounce package fork-friendly pasta, such as fusilli or penne
Cut the string cheese into bite-size pieces. Mix the vinaigrette, basil, tomatoes, and parsley with the cheese and marinate for 20 to 30 minutes. Cook the pasta al dente; drain off the water; and stir in some of the marinade to coat and cool the pasta. Fold in the remaining marinade, including the tomatoes and cheese. Serve as is or on a lettuce leaf. This recipe makes six servings.
Let this meaty dinner simmer in your slow cooker all day, then use two forks to pull it into shreds and pile onto toasted buns. The recipe yields eight servings; or make just a couple sandwiches and freeze the leftovers.
3-pound boneless beef bottom round roast
2 tablespoons celery salt
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 onions, diced
6 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup beer
1 cup barbecue sauce
Pat the roast dry and trim the excess fat. Cut the whole roast in half across the grain and rub all sides with a mixture of the celery salt and chili powder. Let stand while you put half the onions in the slow cooker. Top with the meat, garlic, and remaining onions. Pour the beer and barbecue sauce over all and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours, stirring once after five or six hours. Shred the meat to serve on buns, and spoon on as much sauce as two fists can hold.
Bar cookies are easier and quicker, but molded and drop cookies are a satisfying, drawn-out activity for a cold day when the oven’s heat is welcome. This recipe makes approximately 40 cookies. Prepare the dough up to three days ahead of time and refrigerate it. If you don’t have a mixer, use a wooden spoon.
1 stick butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ cup miniature chocolate chips or finely cut-up chocolate bars
1 12-ounce package butterscotch chips (you won’t need all of them)
Mix together the softened butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract until creamy. Stir in the flour, baking soda, and salt to make a smooth dough. Fold in the chocolate. Chill the dough for at least three hours. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place on a greased cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Dip your thumb in flour or sugar, then press down into the middle of each cookie to flatten it and form a depression. Fill each thumbprint with butterscotch chips (approximately four). Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for approximately 12 minutes or until they are golden. Using a spatula, carefully remove the cookies to cooling racks. To store, cool thoroughly and place between layers of waxed paper.
Warm Chicken-Shroom Salad
Once you’re finished cutting up the ingredients, this meal can be thrown together quite quickly, rewarding you with the fresh crunch of a salad plus the warmth of a hot dish.
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons pancake syrup
½ teaspoon dry mustard
1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat
1 16-ounce bulb anise (also called fennel)
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 onions, cut in large dice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 16-ounce package fresh mushrooms, sliced
Cover four dinner plates with a bed of shredded lettuce and set aside. Whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, pancake syrup, and mustard to make a salad dressing; set aside. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Trim the anise and cut into bite-size slices. Heat the oil in a large skillet and gradually stir in the nutmeg, onions, anise, garlic, and chicken. Brown the ingredients, then add the mushrooms; stir again; cover; and simmer for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Spoon the chicken and mushrooms over the lettuce, drizzle with the dressing, and serve at once. This recipe makes four servings.
Note: If you cook for only one or two, save some of the dressing and reheat the chicken mixture another day to serve on a fresh bed of lettuce.
America is the melting pot, so it’s okay to put okra and kidney beans in a classic Cuban dish that’s usually made with sliced, stuffed olives and no beans at all. A must-have meal during any visit to Key West, picadillo takes on a different look and taste when made with okra, a Southern favorite.
1 pound lean ground beef
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 small onion, finely diced
1 15-ounce can tomatoes with sliced okra
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes plus 1 cup sliced, fresh okra
1 15-ounce can red beans, drained and rinsed
Salt, pepper to taste
2 cups cooked rice
In a roomy skillet or saucepan, fry out the ground beef with the garlic and onion. Pour off any excess fat. Add the tomatoes, okra, and beans; cover; and cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender. Season to taste. Serve over rice and pass the Louisiana hot sauce. This recipe makes four portions.
Chicken-Wild Rice Chowder
This is a quickie meal, just right for two dinner-size servings with crackers or four mug-size servings to go with salads or sandwiches.
1 10-ounce can chunk chicken with juice
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 4.5-ounce jar mushrooms, drained
2 cups water
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 6-ounce box Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice mix
½ cup whipping cream
Bring the chicken, vegetables, water, and soup to a boil and stir in the rice mix with its flavoring packet. Reduce heat; cover; and simmer until the rice and vegetables are tender. Turn off the heat, stir in the whipping cream, and ladle into soup bowls. To thin the chowder, stir in milk as needed.
Potatoes Whole Hog
This recipe serves two, but it can be multiplied to serve any number. Just grab one end with a paper napkin and eat it out of your hand. Any cheese (Velveeta brand processed cheese, cheddar, etc.) works well, and a fancy cheese such as Brie or blue adds an exotic touch. Picture a hot dog with the potato as the bun.
1 large Idaho potato, about 6 to 8 inches long
1 piece kielbasa or other fully cooked sausage slightly shorter than the potato
2 squirts grainy mustard
2 tufts sauerkraut (optional)
Bake the potato your favorite way and slice it in half. Cut the sausage in half lengthwise. Using a grapefruit spoon, carefully scoop out a trench the length of the sausage, leaving a nice wall of potato in the jacket. (Save the extra potato to fry with eggs for breakfast.) Put a shallow line of cheese in the trench, squirt with mustard, add a tuft of well-drained sauerkraut if you like, and press the sausage into the trench. Heat through in the microwave oven. Serve at once.
Books For Cooks
The whole world has gone wild for panini, so why not coach cooks, too? Whether you have a panini press or just squash them in a skillet, the toasty pressed sandwich with the Italian name can be put together for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Tiffany Collins’ new book, 200 Best Panini Recipes ($24.95, Robert Rose), is a sturdy paperback loaded with scrumptious photographs, recipes, and tips. It can be purchased at bookstores, online booksellers, or through the publisher at www.fireflybooks.com.