Monday, October 8, 2012

Raspberry-Glazed Acorn Squash

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If you’ve never cooked an acorn squash, you don’t know what you’re missing. They’re super easy to cook! The hardest part of the process is cutting them in half (which I’ll admit isn’t easy). But once that part’s done and you scoop out the weeds, you can stick them in the oven at 375 degrees with a pat of butter and a tablespoon of brown sugar, and forget about it for an hour. I like to wrap mine in foil so that it gets nice and soft.

Here’s a slightly more involved recipe with a delicious tart twist. The glaze cooks along with the squash, resting in the bowl created after you scoop out the seeds. As you eat the squash, you can dip each forkful into the glaze just before biting into it. Heavenly! One squash is substantial enough to make a healthy main dish meal for two people.

Recipe: Raspberry-Glazed Acorn Squash

1 acorn squash, cut in half and seeds removed

2 T olive oil

¼ c minced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ C raspberry jam

½ t cinnamon

½ t cayenne

2 t red wine vinegar

On a jelly roll pan, place each half of the squash on a piece of aluminum foil large enough to wrap it completely. You might want to slice off a narrow piece at the bottom so that it will rest without rocking on a jelly roll pan. Mix together the remaining ingredients and pour half into each squash half. With a spoon or basting brush, drizzle some of the glaze over the rest of the exposed flesh of the squash.
Wrap the squash in foil. Bake at 375 degrees for one hour. (You can also place the foil-wrapped squash on the grill over indirect heat for an hour.) Serve in a bowl.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Skillet Beef Stroganoff

Although I’m not a fan of the shortening days of Autumn, there is one thing I love about this time of year – the food. With the cooler temperatures, cooking inside no longer makes me feel like I’m fighting the air conditioning, wasting energy.

I’ve been in the mood for beef stew, but I spent the day writing and didn’t have time to put together a stew. So I decided to come up with something that I could make on the stovetop in half an hour, that would give me the same hearty pleasure. I came up with this easy recipe for Skillet Beef Stroganoff. From start to finish, 30 minutes… and a delicious Autumn treat!

Recipe: Skillet Beef Stroganoff

1 lb beef sirloin, sliced thin and cut into two-inch pieces
3 T flour
½ t black pepper
½ t salt
½ t ground mustard
2 T vegetable oil
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 C beef broth
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 C sour cream

Put the flour, pepper, salt, and ground mustard into a large Ziploc bag. Mix well. Add the beef and toss to coat. Set aside. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms, onion, pepper, and garlic for five minutes. Add the floured beef. Stir frequently. Once the beef is brown, add the broth a little bit at a time, stirring well, then add the Worcestershire sauce. Stir frequently, breaking up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Heat to boiling, then simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream. Serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Oven-Baked Onion Blossom

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It all started with a tweet. The Food Network tweeted their recipe recreating the Blooming Onion from Outback Steakhouse. I love the Blooming Onion, so I couldn’t resist taking a peek. Oh, I wish I hadn’t! Because while my mouth watered, my arteries hardened just from reading the ingredients. I don’t want to know! A gallon of oil? Seriously? That’s just depressing. Delicious but depressing.

I wondered whether I could come up with a lighter version of this recipe. Full disclosure: my version is not as delicious as the real thing nor, presumably, as the Food Network’s. However, it has much less fat and really tasted pretty great. I was proud to serve it to guests, and their compliments seemed sincere. I wouldn’t call this health food, but at least you won’t have to have a defibrillator on standby when you eat it.

Oven-Baked Onion Blossom

1 large sweet onion
2 C flour
1 t garlic salt
1 t cayenne
½ t thyme
½ t ground cumin
½ t pepper
2 eggs
1 C milk
2 T mayo
2 T butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the top off the onion. Peel, then turn cut-side down onto a cutting board. Spear the knife into the onion about half an inch from the uncut bottom. Slice down to the cutting board. Using this method, cut the onion into pieces about the width of your pinkie finger. (But don’t slice your pinkie finger!)

Combine the flour and spices in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and set aside. Combine the eggs, milk, and mayo in the smallest bowl you have that will fit the onion with the liquid. Mix well. Put the onion cut-side down into the egg mixture, then rotate so the cut side is up. Spoon egg mixture amidst the onion wedges, separating the wedges with your fingers, getting egg everywhere you can. Then hold the onion upside down over the bowl to allow the excess egg mixture to drop off. Put the onion into the Ziploc bag with the flour and shake gently to coat. You may need to open the bag, separate the wedges, and close it to shake again.

Place the onion cut-side up onto a cookie sheet. Drizzle with 2 T melted butter. Bake until golden brown all over. The tips of the onion wedges may get very dark, but that’s okay. You need to cook the onion long enough to soften the pieces thoroughly so they’re easy to pull from the blossom.

Serve immediately with your favorite salad dressing for dipping.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Summer Days Berry Dessert

SUMMER DAYS is coming out in less than two weeks. The last couple of weeks before a new book comes out, time slows way down. I am so excited to introduce readers to the Stryker brothers. You know that feeling you get when you set up your best friend on a blind date with a great guy, and you wait breathlessly for her to call, so you can find out how it went? That’s how I feel now, waiting to find out whether readers will love the Stryker brothers as much as I do.

Rafe is up first. Rafe is a high-powered entrepreneur, but he didn’t start life that way. In fact, the Stryker kids were the poorest kids in Fool’s Gold. I adore a self-made millionaire. A man who refused to give in to the odds stacked against him. Rafe is smart, savvy, and sexy, and I want readers to meet him NOW!

But I’ll have to wait until May 29, when SUMMER DAYS lands in stores. I decided to distract myself with something sweet. In these situations, I almost always turn to chocolate. But SUMMER DAYS called for a summery dessert. Fresh berries, prepared simply. Ice cream. And just a tiny bit of crunch in the topping. Delicious! I sent the recipe to my assistant for testing, as I often do. She made it on her barbecue grill, which means you won’t have to turn on your oven during the hot summer days. A perfect dessert for a Memorial Day picnic!

Recipe: Summer Days Berry Dessert

6 C fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries
1 T brown sugar
2 T Cointreau or other orange-flavored liqueur
3 slices of bread or 2 dinner rolls
2 T butter, softened
1 T brown sugar
1/8 t teaspoon cinnamon

Wash and drain the berries. Cut the strawberries into pieces. Toss the berries in a bowl with 1 T brown sugar and liqueur. Put into a deep pie pan if you plan to bake it in the oven, or into an aluminum pie pan if you plan to cook it on the grill. In that case, build up the sides of the aluminum pan with aluminum foil so the bread layer won’t fall out.

Tear the bread into pieces. Pulse in a food processor with the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle breading layer over the fruit. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or the same amount of time over indirect heat on a warm but not hot grill.