Archive | December, 2013

Vanilla (or Chocolate) Pudding

31 Dec
Vanilla pudding

Vanilla pudding

My husband has decided he needs to lose weight. Whenever he does that, he stops eating cold cereal and eats oatmeal every morning for breakfast. But he never puts milk in it. And he keeps buying milk that expires about 10 days later. What to do with all that milk before it goes bad? I often turn a couple of cups into delicious home-made pudding.

It’s not much harder to make your own pudding “from scratch” than to buy a box  of pudding mix (filled with preservatives and other chemicals), and it’s undoubtedly cheaper.

When I make vanilla pudding, I like to add a drop of yellow food coloring at the end so the pudding doesn’t look so unappetizingly white. You can reduce the calorie count by using low-fat or fat-free milk and substituting Splenda for the sugar.

If you don’t have a large household to feed, you can easily halve this recipe to make four half-cup servings.

Chocolate pudding

Chocolate pudding

Ingredients:

½ cup sugar
5 Tbs. corn starch
¼ tsp. salt
4 cups milk
1½ tsp. vanilla

For chocolate pudding, increase sugar by ¼ cup and add ¼ cup cocoa

Directions:

Mix the sugar, corn starch, the cocoa if making chocolate pudding, and the salt in the top of a double boiler. Gradually add the milk, whisking until smooth. Place over simmering water and cook, stirring constantly (using a wire whisk works well), until the mixture thickens. Continue cooking 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and blend in the vanilla. Pour into serving dishes to cool. Chill before serving.

Serves 6 to 8

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Bundt Noodle Kugel

24 Dec

Bundt Noodle KugelNeed a fancy-shmancy but easy-to-make dish to bring to a festive New Year brunch? This is just the thing!

This recipe came from a Detroit newspaper but I can’t remember which one. It says it comes from Barbara Klein of West Bloomfield, who got it from her mom, Irene Eagle. The original recipe was very sweet, so I cut back on the sugars a little.

The hardest part is getting the kugel out of the Bundt pan without breaking it, so be sure to grease the pan very well. When you pour the melted butter into the pan, be sure to swirl it around so it coats the entire bottom of the pan.

Ingredients:

½ cup melted butter, divided
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 16-oz. package medium noodles
1 tsp. salt
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. cinnamon
⅓ cup sugar
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 apples, cored, peeled and sliced
¾ cup yellow raisins

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the noodles according to the package directions and drain. Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray. Pour ¼ cup of the melted butter into the bundt pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter and place the chopped nuts over the brown sugar.

In a large bowl, mix the remaining ingredients. Add the noodles and mix thoroughly. Pour into the bundt pan and bake about an hour until the kugel is firm and brown.

Remove from oven, loosen the sides with a spatula and turn the pan upside down on a serving plate. Scrape out any topping that remains in the Bundt pan and press onto the kugel.

Serves 12

Stick-to-Your Ribs Cabbage and Bean Soup With Pasta

17 Dec

Cabbage-Bean-Pasta SoupThis is my favorite winter soup recipe. I adapted it from one I got at a Weight Watchers meeting many years ago; I make it every winter. It can stand on its own for lunch – or add a salad and some crusty bread to make a nice dinner. The hardest part of this recipe is opening and recycling all the cans!

The recipe makes a huge potful of soup, but it lasts well in the fridge. The original recipe says it is 3 points per 1½-cup serving, but the Weight Watcher system has changed since then so I can’t say what the points value is now. If you use vegetarian soy crumbles instead of beef, as I do, the soup will have fewer calories and less fat. You can also use high-fiber pasta. Even with regular pasta, it’s high fiber and low fat – and very tasty.

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef (or 1 bag veggie “beef” crumbles)
2 tsp. vegetable oil (if you use beef)
3 cups water
A small head of cabbage (1 to 2 lb.), chopped
Large can tomato juice
1 Tbs. dried oregano
1½ tsp. garlic powder
1½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. dried thyme
3 15-oz. cans kidney beans, Great Northern beans or a combination, drained and rinsed
3 14.5-oz. cans diced tomatoes, not drained
2 14-oz. cans fat-free beef or vegetable broth (or use 2 cups water and 2 tsp. beef or vegetable stock powder)
8 oz. uncooked pasta (I like elbow macaroni best, but you can also use spaghetti or angel hair pasta broken into smaller pieces or another small shaped pasta like shells)

Directions:

If you use beef, heat the oil in an 8- or 12-quart Dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat and cook the beef until browned, stirring to crumble it. Drain well and return to pan.

Add all remaining ingredients except pasta. If you use veggie crumbles instead of beef, add them at this point as well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Add a little water if the soup seems too thick.

After 2 hours, raise heat if necessary to bring soup to a boil. Add pasta (if you use spaghetti or angel hair, break it into small pieces) and cook at medium-low heat for another 8 to 10 minutes until pasta is done.

Serves 12

A Tuesday Threefer: Glazed nuts

10 Dec

Candied nutsThis is the year’s busiest entertaining season, so whether you’d planning a party or going to one as a guest, you might be able to use these recipes. They’re all terrific and  easy, especially the first two.

Candied or glazed nuts make a great party snack and they also make a great hostess gift if you’re a little tired of bringing wine. Just pack them in a pretty plastic bag or glass jar and add a little ribbon.

These are good recipes to make with kids or grandkids, as long as you’re careful not to let them touch the nuts when they first come out of the microwave or oven, because they are very hot.

Orange Candied Nuts

Ingredients:

¼ cup orange juice (pulp-free is best)
1 cup sugar
2 cups raw pecan halves (you can also use walnut halves, whole almonds, whole cashews, hazelnuts or a mixture)
A pinch of ginger and/or cinnamon (optional)

Directions:

Stir the sugar into the orange juice. Place the nuts in a shallow glass baking dish and pour the sugar mixture over them. Stir so that all the nuts are evenly coated. Cover with plastic wrap, leaving one corner open to vent, and microwave at MEDIUM for 6 minutes. While the nuts are cooking, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. After six minutes, stir the nuts and microwave at MEDIUM for 4 to 6 minutes more. The liquid should be almost — but not quite — absorbed by the nuts.

Turn the nuts out on the parchment paper and spread them out so that they are in a single layer. If you see a small pool of syrup, move some nuts into it.

Cool for at least a half-hour, then break into small clumps.

Cinnamon Glazed Nuts

Ingredients:

candied nuts2 pounds nuts (pecans, cashews, almonds or a mixture)
1 large egg white
⅔ cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well to coat the nuts. Spread the nuts over the baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 15-25 minutes, turning once with a spatula. Nuts should be bubbly and lightly browned.

Remove from oven and cool completely. Break up the nuts and store in an airtight container.

Sweet and Spicy Glazed Nuts

Ingredients:

2 pounds roasted nuts (pecans, cashews, almonds, pistachios, peanuts or a mixture)
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup water
1 Tbs. hot red sauce, such as Tabasco
1 tsp. salt (omit if the nuts are already salted)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 large baking sheets with nonstick spray, or line with parchment paper.

Combine all ingredients except nuts in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.

Place nuts in a large bowl and pour the glaze over. Toss well to coat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the nuts to the prepared baking sheets (discard any remaining glaze – or use with more nuts).

Bake the nuts, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes until the nuts are golden. Cool completely and then break up the clumps.

Jerusalem Spinach Salad

3 Dec

Jerusalem spinach saladAfter a weekend of gorging, I thought everyone might be ready for a lighter recipe!

This recipe is adapted (very slightly) from one in Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. It’s easy and delicious.

The book is absolutely gorgeous and would make an excellent gift or look good on a coffee table. Many of the recipes are interesting, although some of the ingredients may be difficult to find in the United States. We’re lucky to live in an area with a large Middle Eastern population, so I had no problem finding pita or sumac powder. I didn’t have any chile flakes (which are easy enough to find) so I used cayenne pepper, about half as much as the recipe calls for.

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. white vinegar
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
¼ lb. pitted dates
¼ cup olive oil
2 small pitas (or one large one) roughly torn into 1½-inch pieces
½ cup unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. sumac
½ tsp. chile flakes
5 oz. (half a standard-sized package) baby spinach
2 Tbs. lemon juice
Salt

Directions:

Put the vinegar, onions and dates in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix well with your hands. Allow to marinate for 20 minutes, then drain out any residual vinegar and discard.

Heat the 3 Tbs. olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the pita and almonds and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring all the time, until the pita is crunchy and golden brown. Remove from the heat and mix in the sumac, chile flakes and ¼ tsp. salt. Set aside to cool.

Just before serving, toss the spinach leaves with the pita mix in a large mixing bowl. Add the dates and red onion, the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil, the lemon juice and another pinch of salt.

Serves 4