Monthly Archives: November 2006

Bavarian Sausage and Kraut Supper

Another day, another Cooking Light recipe. This one is an old standby, which we make when we don’t have a lot of time to cook, and it uses ingredients that we usually have on hand anyway.

Bavarian Sausage and Kraut Supper

Bavarian Sausage-and-Kraut Supper
courtesy Cooking Light

4 cups uncooked medium egg noodles (about 8 ounces)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup sliced onion
1 teaspoon caraway seeds 2 cups sliced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 3/4 pound)
1 1/2 cups refrigerated sauerkraut, drained
1 (12-ounce) package chicken apple sausage (such as Gerhard’s), cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup sherry

Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain and set the noodles aside.

While the noodles are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced onion and caraway seeds, and cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring constantly. Add apple, sauerkraut, and sausage, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth and sherry, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes. Serve over the noodles. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups noodles and 1 cup sausage-apple mixture)

CALORIES 445(29% from fat); FAT 14.5g (sat 3.4g,mono 6.9g,poly 3.3g); PROTEIN 20.1g; CHOLESTEROL 114mg; CALCIUM 31mg; SODIUM 1118mg; FIBER 9g; IRON 4.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 59.9g, 9 WW POINTS

Balsamic Chicken, Israeli Couscous, and Spinach

Over the past few months, from time to time I’ve seen recipes, usually Mediterranean ones, that have Israeli couscous as an ingredient. Unfortunately, for the longest time, I couldn’t try out any of these recipes as I was having great trouble trying to find the ingredient locally. Israeli couscous, despite popular opinion, is not couscous at all, but actually a form of pasta – it reminds me of acini de pepe, only nuttier. There’s a great article here that goes into the origins of it. I found it locally at A Touch of Earth in the North Market for $4.25/lb.

And occasionally, I like to eat “light” – much more less than I should be, but after the heaviness of last week’s Thanksgiving dinner, I just wanted something simple for dinner – this week has been eating light week, with Cooking Light recipes as the staple for the past two nights, and also with tonight’s dinner as well. Since I had some chicken breast I needed to use up, I decided on a balsamic chicken recipe to prepare.

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Balsamic Vinegar Pan Sauce, Israeli Couscous and Spinach

The chicken had great flavor, which could have been even more improved with a better quality balsamic vinegar – nonetheless, it was still quite excellent – I just didn’t feel comfortable using the “good” stuff ($40+ for a small bottle) for this recipe because of the quantity it calls for. So, if you decide to make it yourself, I recommend using the cheapest good vinegar to make it, something aged should do nicely. I prepared the couscous in a recipe that wouldn’t clash with the flavor of the sauce. The original recipe for the chicken calls for serving it over orzo (which I was out of), and the couscous was a good substitute. I rounded out the meal with some steamed spinach seasoned with just a little butter, kosher salt, and pepper.

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Balsamic Vinegar Pan Sauce
courtesty Cooking Light

1/2 c. fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. honey
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 (5-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. finely chopped shallots
Chopped parsley (optional)

Combine broth, vinegar and honey. Melt butter and oil in a large nonstick skillet over low heat. While butter melts, sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in flour; shake off excess flour.

Increase heat to medium-high; heat 2 minutes or until the butter turns golden brown. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Add shallots, and saute 30 seconds. Add the broth mixture, scraping to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil, and cook until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 3 minutes). Serve sauce over chicken. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired. Yields: 4 servings (serving size: 1 breast and 2 tbsp sauce).

Per serving: 269 cal (27% from fat), 8.1g fat (sat 2.7g, mono 2g, poly 2.5g), 34 g pro, 90 mg chol, 29 mg calc, 331 mg sod, 0.2 g fib, 1.7 mg iron, 13.1 g carb, 6 WW points

Israeli Couscous
recipe courtesy

1 small onion, chopped
2 tbsp. oil
1 c. Israeli couscous
2 c. hot chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion in the oil. Add the coucous and stir for a few minutes until lightly browned. Add the hot broth and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes or more until liquid is absorbed. Season to taste.


Up until a couple of years ago, I hated greens. Just though they were the nastiest, bitterest thing I had ever tasted. But I had one co-worker who made them for a potluck, and people were fighting to be able to get to them before they were gone – the co-worker asked me if I was going to have any before they were gone, and I explained to her that I never really liked greens. She convinced me to try hers. I was converted. Turns out I (or whoever was making them for me) was cooking them wrong, and that’s why they were nasty. So I got the recipe from my coworker. The secret lies in letting the ham hocks cook for hours before you even put the greens in. When you do, you’re rewarded with rich, meaty flavor incorporated throughout the greens. This recipe is unchanged from hers. I made mine with a combination of greens that I got in my CSA box.

Greens (Soul Food Style)

Several bunches of greens (collards, mustard, turnip, kale, whatever), stems removed, cleaned, and sliced
2 ham hocks or shanks
1 onions, sliced
Splash of vinegar
Hot sauce, to taste

In a large pot of water, cook hocks for several hours, or until the meat starts falling off the bones. Throw in greens, onions, vinegar and hot sauce, and simmer until tender. Serve with additional hot sauce if desired.

Review: Starliner Diner

I had been meaning to post about this a while ago, but got caught up in holiday prep and never got around to it.

A month ago, we were fortunate enough to be able to meet up with Rosie and her husband at Starliner Diner for dinner – we had a blast, and tons of excellent food.

If you’ve never been to Starliner Diner, it’s a little place in Hilliard (best described as a ‘hole in the wall’) that serves Cuban-Tex Mex fusion. The decor can best be described as kitschy and mismatched, the atomsphere boisterous and welcoming – it’s definitely a casual joint, so don’t bother dressing up in your finest. It’s one of the places that we hit regularly. When Rosie and I were trying to come up with somewhere to meet, I found out she had never been there, and knew right then she absolutely *had* to try this place.

We got seated immediately, even though the place was a bit busy, and got down to the business of ordering. The waitress was patient with us, giving us plenty of time to settle on something, as we were busy chit-chatting and getting to know each other.

We settled on a couple of appetizers to share – the plantains appetizer and black bean nachos.

Starliner Diner Plantains Appetizer

The plantains appetizer is excellent – and consistently so. They saute perfectly ripe plantains until they are caramelized, sweet, and a little bit crunchy, and then serve them with a creamy pico de gallo dipping sauce that has just the right amount of bite. They are so good that I would happily go in there *just* to eat these.

Starliner Diner Black Bean Nachos

The black bean nachos are good, but not outstanding. Topped with cheese, black beans, and some of their smoky red chili sauce, they are a good start to any meal, and a definite “safe” bet to please most palates.

Starliner Diner Fetuccine Calliente

For my entree, I chose the Fetuccine Calliente, a chicken and fettucine dish topped with a creamy chipotle sauce (hint: I’ve reproduced the recipe here, and the reason it tastes identical is because I buy the chili sauce from Starliner). It’s a huge serving, definitely enough for two meals, and is served with their Cuban bread and a salad. I have to admit, as many times as I’ve gone there, I seem to either get the Cuban sandwich or the fetuccine, unless there’s a good special that night – which brings me to another hint – check the specials board on your way in, some of the best dishes are listed there – the ropa vieja being my favorite of their recurring ones.

Starliner Side Salad

The side salad is one of the best in town, all fresh and crunchy and not stingy with the toppings. Topped with some of their creamy salsa, it pairs perfectly with any of the pasta dishes.

Starliner Diner Big Beef Burrito

My husband opted for Big Steak Burrito, stuffed chock full of tender steak, beans, cheese, grilled onions, and smoked chili sauce, and then topped with chili sauce and cheese. It comes with a side of of white rice and black beans, which my husband said is perfect mixed together with McIlheney’s Mild Green Jalapeno Sauce. This is also served at lunchtime, and again, is quite the value for the price – anyone is hard pressed to finish this behemoth.

Starliner has a very limited dessert menu, but dessert is not why you’d go to Starliner – it’s all about the food, baby. They serve an excellent brunch, too. If you haven’t been there yet, you must. It’s one of the hidden gems of the Columbus metro area.

If you’d like to go: Starliner Diner, 5240 Cemetary Road, Hilliard, OH 43026, 614.529.1198 Hours: Tu W Th 9-3 and 5-9, Fri Sat 9-3 and 5-9:30, Sun 9-3, Closed Monday.

Starliner Diner on Urbanspoon

Candied Yams

A few days ago, I promised to post my recipe for candied yams, and I’m finally getting around to it. It’s fairly inexact, so I’ll focus more on method than I will on ingredients.

You can use either yams or sweet potatoes, as both will work with this recipe. You’ll also want to have the following ingredients on hand: a bag of brown sugar, a stick of butter, a bag of coconut, a bag of walnts, a bottle of rum, and a bag of mini marshmallows.

The number of sweet potatoes depends on their size – in this case, I used 3 large. You want to boil them (skin on) until they’re tender, and allow them to cool to the touch. When you’re ready to assemble the candied yams, peel them, and then slice them in 1″ thick rounds and line the bottom of a baking pan with them. No need to grease the pan first, as the butter in the topping will keep them from sticking. To make the topping, melt a stick of butter in a nonstick saute pan. Once it’s melted, pour in a splash of rum (about a shot’s worth or less), and let the alcohol cook off a bit. Throw in a handful of walnuts (or pecans) and coconut, and then add enough brown sugar to soak up the butter. Spread the topping over the yams in the baking pan, and throw on some mini marshmallows if you don’t think that marshmallows on candied yams is an abomination. Bake at 350 for about 30-45 minutes, or until topping is browned, and marshmallows are melted.

Thanksgiving Desserts

We’ll start our review of Thanksgiving dinner with the usual ending – the desserts. I made three desserts in total – a couple of squash custard pies, a caramelized nut tart, and a Sara Lee Blueberry pie. I’ll skip the pic of the blueberry pie since I’m sure everyone has seen one at one time of their life.

I got the idea for the caramelized nut tart from this post at Simply Recipes, and let me tell you – words can’t describe the great flavor of this. It’s like the part that makes sticky buns good condensed into tart form. Of course, I’ve always had a thing for caramel and nuts together, so… For some reason, this one didn’t go over too well, so lucky me has tons of leftovers. 🙂 Probably because there was what everyone though was pumpkin pie to be had.

The other dessert that I made from scratch was Brown Sugar Squash Pie. It’s a great custard pie that I made with butternut squash from the CSA box, and it tasted like a cross between sweet potato and pumpkin pie, only with better flavor. I always find the spices in both a bit overwhelming, but this recipe was a nice balance. I will definitely make this again, it came out perfectly. My only change to the recipe was that I used refrigerated pie dough instead of homemade. This went over like gangbusters, my guests went through an entire pie in 10 minutes flat. 🙂

I definitely should do more baking. As a matter of fact, I need to start my Christmas baking soon. Haven’t decided what to make yet.


Friday Roundup 11/24/06

This week is a little quiet on the blogging front, with most posts focused on Thanksgiving. There are only so many ways to roast a turkey, so I’ll focus on the posts that really stood out to me.

And let me just say now, Penzey’s Turkey Base rocks my world. Looks like The Food Ass agrees with my Penzey’s love. Why did it take me so long to discover the place?

Since the holiday is done and overwith, now we all have a bunch of leftovers to use up. The Columbus Dispatch suggests Turkey Panini with Farmhouse Cheddar and Cranberry Chutney or Mashed Potato and Turkey Soup.

Last week, Dispatch readers voted Bob Evans (?!? you’re kidding, right?) as best Turkey dinner. To say I thoroughly disagree is the understatement of the year. Blech. This week, they want to know who has the best gourmet burger in Central Ohio. Out of the ones I’ve tried (about half of the list), I’d have to say Elevator for eating in, Red Robin for takeout (have you guys seen the way they pack up to go orders? Awesome!). Contribute your two cents for a chance to win a $25 gift certificate.

I found it interesting that yet another publication is reviewing the Trattoria at Whole Foods – while as a whole, I’ve been unimpressed with the hot prepared foods at Whole Foods (with the pizza being an exception – their pizza rules), and have been wary to try them, this is like the 3rd or 4th in a row good review of the Trattoria that I’ve seen. I may have to give it a try soon, seeing how often I end up at Whole Foods anyway.

This week’s recipes that caught my eye: alpineberry’s Chocolate Hazelnut Tartlets, cookiesinheaven posts Bill Nicholson’s Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding with Butter Rum Sauce, Cooking Debauchery’s Butternut & Apple Risotto, Cream Puff in Venice’s Hot Buttered Pretzels, Culinary Concoctions by Peabody’s Candy Cane Meltaways, Culinary Fool’s Apple Chutney, and The Expatriate’s Kitchen’s Vanilla-Sweet Potato Pie with Pecan-Brown Sugar Crust

In instructional posts, Helen of Beyond Salmon teaches us how to work with leeks.

Well, like I said, it’s been a fairly quiet week. Until next week, folks…

Memento Meme

Stolen from Toni:

“Ask me to take a picture of any aspect of my life that you’re interested in/curious about – it can be anything from the house I live in to my favourite shoes.

Leave your choice here as a comment, and I will reciprocate by taking the pictures and posting them in an entry as a reply to your request. That way you get to know a little bit about my life.”

Best. Snack. Ever.

One of the blessings of the past few days is that while sampling cheeses the other day at Whole Foods, I managed to discover the best snack ever – brie w/ cranberry mango pepper jelly:

Now, mind you – I’m not usually a huge fan of brie, at least not by itself. I don’t mind it if it’s part of another dish, or the cheese in a hot sandwich. But all by itself? I usually find the rind too salty, and not enough yummy innards to justify buying a wheel of cheese just to throw away the rind. But for some reason, this cheese is different. Hopefully this picture will give you enough information to be able to source it locally. It’s reasonably priced, with a 2.2 lb. wheel costing $13.99, and the smaller wheel costing much less. I found it locally at Whole Foods.

Now, they had samples out, and the jelly that it was covered in was absolutely divine – sweet with a little bit of heat, and paired with the cheese perfectly. I’m planning on going back to stock up on it, as I’m sure it’s a seasonal item and I’m already half way through the jar I got the other day. If you go to Whole Foods to get the cheese, the jelly is in the same display with the cheese.

And Trader Joe’s crostini is the perfect delivery vehicle for the cheese.

Not only is it an excellent choice for home snacking, but also great as the centerpiece of a cheese plate and it’s portable enough to bring to an office potluck, party, or family gathering.


If I’m thankful for anything today, I’m thankful that Thanksgiving (at least in my household) is over. I should have known better than to try to cook a huge meal this year, especially with how sick I’ve been. Even normal everyday meals take me two to three times as long to prepare as they should. This holiday’s massive undertaking took me a combined (not including passive cooking time) twenty-four hours to prepare. That’s right – a whole day to prepare for a meal that’s consumed in less than an hour.

To say that I am absolutely exhausted is an understatement. I’ve slept nearly thirteen hours trying to recover, and I’m still exhausted.

So, how did the meal go? It went, and everybody seemed to like it. A few boo-boos, because I was trying to juggle too many things at once. There was a huge miscalculation on the turkey cooking time – the stuffing cavity was HUGE (and hubby would kill me if I didn’t stuff the bird), and even though the turkey was pretty much done at 6pm, I stood firm on not pulling the turkey out of the oven until the stuffing temperature reached 165. Luckily, I brined it, so the bird was still moist despite the overcooking, even though the drumsticks turned into jerky. Also, because it was a free range bird, there were very little pan drippings, so not much gravy either.

Everything turned out fine, although it was organized chaos. The pictures didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped, but I’ll feature a couple of them along with the promised recipes in the next couple of days.

Next year, I’m letting someone else cook (or if I *do* cook, it’s going to be me and husband only with a chicken rather than a turkey and just a couple of our favorite side dishes). No more big Thanksgivings for me, at least for a while, until I’m feeling better.

The rest of you, I hope you enjoy your holiday more than I enjoyed mine!