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PUREED ASPARAGUS SOUP

1 pound fresh asparagus

1/2 cup chopped celery

2 tablespoons chopped scallions

1 (13-3/4-ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

1 cup half-and-half

Break off asparagus stalks as far down as they snap easily. Wash spears; cut into 1-inch pieces. In medium saucepan, simmer asparagus, celery, scallions, 1/2-cup chicken broth and salt until tender, about 15 minutes. In a food processor or blender, puree asparagus mixture until smooth. Make a white sauce using butter, flour and remaining chicken broth. Stir in asparagus puree, milk and half-and-half. Reheat, just to boiling point. Yield: 6 cups.

BONELESS BEEF WITH RED ONIONS

1 pound boneless beef sirloin, cut 3/4-inch thick

3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 tablespoon Olive oil

1 large red onion, thickly sliced and separated into rings

1/4 cup dry red wine

1/2 teaspoon dried sage, crushed

Dash of salt

Cut beef steak into four equal portions. Rub each piece on both sides with pepper. Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add steaks and cook about 5 minutes on each side or until cooked to medium. Remove steaks from skillet; save drippings. Keep steaks warm. Cook red onion in skillet with drippings for 7 minutes until crisp-tender. Add wine, sage and salt. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until some of the liquid is evaporated. Arrange steaks on serving dish and top with onion mixture. Yield: 4 servings.

SAVORY SWISS STEAK

(Crock pot meal.)

1-1/2 pound round steak

1/4 cup flour

2 teaspoons dry mustard

Salt and black pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and grated

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 (16-ounce) can tomatoes

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons brown sugar, firmly packed

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Cut steak into six bite-sized pieces. Coat with mixture of flour, mustard, salt and pepper. In a large skillet, brown meat in oil. Transfer to the crockery pot. In the same skillet, sauté onion, carrots and celery until glazed. Add tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Heat, scraping up browned bits, and pour over meat. Cover and cook on low 200º for 6 to 8 hours, or until tender. To serve, spoon sauce over meat. Sprinkle with parsley. Yield: 6 servings.

TURKEY AND VEGETABLE DISH

2 carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized slices

1 yellow onion, sliced

3 whole cloves garlic, peeled

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch strips

2 celery stalks, sliced into 1-inch pieces

1 boned turkey breast, with skin, (about 2 pounds)

1/2 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon dried sage

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Fresh sage leaves for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350º. In a 4-quart casserole dish lightly coated with cooking spray or oil, put carrots, onion, garlic, bell pepper and celery. Place turkey breast on top. In a small saucepan, mix broth, wine, seasonings and cornstarch. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Pour over turkey and vegetables. Cover and bake 1-1/2 hours or until turkey is white in the center and vegetables are tender. Garnish with sage leaves, if desired. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

ROSEMARY PEAS AND PASTA

12 ounces dried medium pasta shells

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

20-ounce bag (4 cups) frozen green peas

1 large onion, coarsely chopped (sweet preferred)

12 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta using package directions. Reserve 2 cups cooking liquid; drain pasta and leave in colander. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and swirl to coat bottom of skillet. Cook peas, onion, garlic, rosemary and red pepper flakes, covered, for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in reserved cooking liquid and black pepper. Cook, covered, for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. To serve, transfer pasta to a large serving bowl; stir in pea mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Yield: 8 servings.

HOT AND SPICY CUCUMBER SALAD

1 cup seasoned rice vinegar

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger

4 pounds seedless cucumbers, halved crosswise

Whisk together rice vinegar, pepper flakes and ginger in a large bowl for dressing. Using a vegetable peeler, cut cucumber lengthwise into ribbons and add to bowl with dressing, tossing to combine; salt to taste. Chill at least 15 minutes, stirring once. Yield: 8 servings.

PEACH AND BANANA CUSTARD

2 cups milk

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3 egg yolks mixed with 2 tablespoons milk

dash of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 bananas, peeled and cut up

3 oranges, peeled and cut up

Mix milk, sugar and cornstarch in saucepan. Whisk slowly over high heat, stirring constantly. When mixture begins to thicken, remove from heat and add the egg yolk mixture, salt, vanilla and almond extract. Return to medium heat and whisk until thick and bubbling. Set aside to cool. Cut the fruit into a bowl, mixing bananas with oranges. Serve custard at room temperature over the fruit. Yield: About 4 servings.

LEMON CREAM PIE

2/3 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup milk

yolks from 3 large eggs

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 stick butter

1 cup sour cream

1 (9-inch) pie shell, baked and cooled

Garnish: sweetened whipped cream

In medium-size saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in milk until smooth; then yolks until blended. Stir in lemon peel and juice; add butter or margarine. Whisk constantly over medium heat 4 to 5 minutes until thick. Do not boil. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Stir in sour cream until well blended; pour into pie shell. Cover loosely and refrigerate at least 6 hours or up to 2 days. Garnish with dollops of whipped cream. Yield: 8 servings.

Any comments, questions or favorite recipes? I would love to hear from you! Feel free to send your email to helenkitchen@msn.com, and please write “Helen’s Kitchen Request, ATTN: Lori” in the subject line to make sure that I receive your email. Thank you!