PORK AND PLUM SAUCE STIR FRY

This Pork and Plum Sauce Stir Fry is easy and tasty. The only negative for my guys: chopsticks. They know how to use those lovely little pinchers–well, close enough–but chopsticks do limit one’s ability to quickly devour a tasty meal–a plus in my opinion since it always takes far longer to make than to eat 🙂

Pork and Plum Sauce Stir Fry

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp sesame oil (optional, but it adds a nice, snappy flavor)

1-1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, sliced thin into bite-sized pieces

1 orange bell pepper, chopped

4 green onions, sliced thin

1-8 oz can bean sprouts

6 oz whole wheat thin spaghetti, prepared al dente according to package directions

3/4 cup plum sauce

3 tbsp sherry cooking wine

sea salt

ground black pepper

2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1) To large wok (or deep skillet), add olive oil and sesame oil and heat over medium-high; add pork and cook, stirring often, 4-5 minutes until lightly browned on both sides and no longer pink

2) Add bell pepper and cook, stirring often, 3 minutes; add green onions, bean sprouts, and pre-cooked spaghetti and cook, stirring often, 3 minutes

3) Stir in plum sauce and cooking wine, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook 3 minutes; remove from heat, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve–see, easy!

Servings: 4

THAI-CHILI TOMATO BASIL SOUP

Junior is the tomato soup lover in the family, but the rest of us enjoy it as well. This easy version has the added oomph of Thai-Chili sauce and basil–a fabulous combination that, though I served it hot, would probably be delicious as a cold summer soup. Come soon 🙂

Thai-Chili Tomato Basil Soup

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2-14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)

2-1/2 cups chicken broth

2 tbsp Thai-Style Chili Sauce (I used Kikkoman brand)

1 tbsp basil paste (I used Gourmet Garden brand found in produce section)

1 cup croutons (I used Texas Toast brand)

1/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese

1) Heat oil in large soup pot over medium-high heat; add onion and cook 8 minutes, stirring often, until onions are soft and lightly browned

2) Reduce heat to medium and add canned tomatoes with juices, chicken broth, chili sauce, and basil paste; cook 10 minutes

3) Using an immersion blender (if you don’t have one, use a table top blender–careful, it’s hot!), blend into a coarse puree; remove soup from heat, ladle into soup bowls, and scatter with croutons and parmesan cheese; serve

Servings: 3-4

CHICKEN AND BUTTERMILK DUMPLINGS

Yes, I squeezed in another soup-y meal before the hot weather hits hard–and this is one of my favorites: Chicken and (Buttermilk) Dumplings! Note: Because I adore dumplings (that’s mom’s Southern belle coming out in me), I went a bit overboard with these tasty lumps of biscuit, so you may want to cut back a little. Your call.

Chicken and Buttermilk Dumplings

SOUP:

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

1 cup chopped onions

1/2 cup diced carrots

1/2 cup diced celery

1-1/2 lb chicken breasts, sliced thin and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 bay leaf

1 tsp dry thyme

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

6 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 tbsp chopped parsley

DUMPLINGS (Note: makes a load of dumplings):

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp baking powder

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1) To large soup pot over medium-high heat, add oil and butter and melt; add onions, carrots, and celery and, stirring often, cook 10 minutes until vegetables soften; stir in chicken and cook, stirring often, 5-6 minutes until chicken cooks through

2) Reduce heat to low and add bay leaf, thyme, and pepper; sprinkle flour over top and, stirring continuously, cook 2-3 minutes; stir in chicken broth and cream (Note: unless you like mushy peas, hold off on them); stirring occasionally, cook 15 minutes

3) Meanwhile, in medium-sized bowl lightly beat eggs, buttermilk, salt, and baking powder; gradually stir in flour until dough comes together (will be quite moist)

4) Stir peas into soup mixture, then drop dough by tablespoonfuls on top of soup; cover pot with lid and cook 5 minutes; gently turn dumplings and cook 5-10 minutes longer until dumplings are firm and cooked through; remove from heat, pluck out bay leaf and toss; sprinkle with parsley and serve

Servings: 4 hearty dinner-sized bowls

BANANA-BLUEBERRY-LIME RICOTTA CREPES

Really, these crepes (AKA “blintzes”) should be dessert, but we made them into dinner (notice the ricotta cheese and…um…eggs). What made them special? Everything. However, I believe the lime juice and zest sets them apart. Put those thumbs up!

Banana-Blueberry-Lime Crepes

CREPES (about 12):

2 eggs

2 cups milk

1 tbsp granulated white sugar

pinch of salt

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

8 tbsp butter, melted (plus a little more for cooking crepes)

FILLING:

1-15 oz container reduced fat ricotta cheese

1 egg

1/4 cup powdered sugar

zest of 1 lime

SAUCE:

2 tbsp butter

12 oz frozen blueberries

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

1 tsp cornstarch

juice of 1 lime

2 ripe but firm bananas, sliced thick on the diagonal

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees; lightly grease 9×11 baking pan

2) In medium-sized bowl, whisk eggs, milk, sugar, and salt; gradually whisk in flour; pour in melted butter and whisk until well combined and lumps disappear

3) In non-stick skillet over medium heat, melt a little butter; using a 1/4 cup scoop, pour crepe batter into skillet, tilting skillet to form 6-7″ diameter crepes; cook approximately 30 seconds each side until lightly golden; transfer to plate and continue until all batter is used (should make about 12 crepes); set aside

4) In medium-sized bowl, mix ricotta cheese, egg, sugar, and lime zest; divide ricotta filling between crepes, spooning down center of each crepe; roll up crepes and place seam-side down in baking pan; bake in oven 20 minutes

5) Meanwhile, to medium-sized saucepan add butter, blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, and lime juice; cook 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally; reduce heat to low

6) Remove crepes from oven, pour blueberry sauce over top, and scatter with banana pieces; serve

Servings: 4

THE REDEEMING: Book Three in the AGE OF FAITH series

Only one month away from the release of THE REDEEMING: Book Three in the Age of Faith series. Here’s a peek at the back cover copy:

In the eyes of the Church and men, hers is no small sin.

Lady Gaenor Wulfrith is a woman scorned—and now King Henry’s pawn. After three broken betrothals, she is ordered to wed her family’s enemy, a man she has never met and has good reason to fear. Faced with the prospect of an abusive marriage that will surely turn worse when her sin is revealed, she flees her family’s home with the aid of a knight—a man who could prove her ruin.

Christian Lavonne, the only remaining heir to the barony of Abingdale, has thrown off his monk’s robes—and God—to minister his lands. Determined to end the devastation wrought by his family’s feud with the Wulfriths, he agrees to marry his enemy’s sister—a woman no man seems to want. When he learns she has fled with a knight who has broken fealty with the Wulfriths, he pursues her, knowing that when they meet his own sin will be revealed and he will be as much in need of redemption as the woman who may carry another man’s child.

Cover Redeeming Final

To read an excerpt, visit: The Kitchen Novelist

SHRIMP BISQUE

Yes, I’m still pushing soup though the weather is warming up fast. And since this is a relatively light soup (thinking Tame Hunter’s Stew), it went over well with my guys. In fact, one of Junior Too’s favorite soups is Panera Bread’s lobster bisque that, unfortunately, disappeared from their menu years ago. After one bite of my Shrimp Bisque, he proclaimed it every bit as good as Panera’s legendary Lobster Bisque. Glowing 🙂

Shrimp Bisque

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

1 red onion, diced

1 leek, green leaves removed and tossed, white bulb diced

3 celery stalks, diced

1 cup grated carrots

1 tsp dry thyme

3 tbsp ketchup

1/2 tsp cayenne

1/2 cup white cooking wine

3 tbsp all-purpose flour

2 cups chicken broth

3 cups half-and-half

1 lb pre-cooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tailless, divided

1 tbsp parsley, chopped

1) To large soup pot, add olive oil and butter and heat over medium-high heat; add onion, leek, celery, carrots, and thyme and cook 10 minutes, stirring often

2) Reduce heat to medium; stir in ketchup, cayenne, and cooking wine; sprinkle flour over top and stir to combine; cook 5 minutes, stirring often

3) Reduce heat to low; stir in chicken broth and half-and-half; stirring occasionally, cook 30-40 minutes until soup thickens and reduces

4) 5 minutes prior to serving, chop half the shrimp, leaving the other half whole

5) Stir chopped shrimp into soup; using an immersion blender, blend soup in pot to a smooth consistency (if you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a countertop blender, but be careful–it’s hot!); remove soup from heat and divide soup between 4 large bowls; place shrimp in center of each bowl of soup, sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately

Servings: 4

LIME COCONUT-MACADAMIA OATMEAL COOKIES

Recently I shared a recipe for Lime-Coconut Oatmeal Cookies that featured the always lovely and tasty Craisins. This week, I substituted macadamia nuts for Craisins. And, oh, are they good!

Lime-Coconut-Macadamia Oatmeal Cookies 2

6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated white sugar

1 egg

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

zest of 1 lime, divided

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1-1/4 cups shredded sweetened coconut, divided

1-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick cooking)

1 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts, divided (since I used roasted and salted macadamias, I cut back on the salt in this recipe)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2) In large bowl, cream butter and both sugars with mixer on high speed until light and fluffy

3) On medium speed, beat in egg, vanilla, lime zest (save a large pinch for cookie tops after baking), lime juice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt

4) Beat in 1 cup coconut (reserving 1/4 cup) and oats; stir in 3/4 cup macadamia nuts (reserving 1/4 cup), and flour (dough will be on the moist side)

5) Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet, press a pinch of coconut and a couple pieces of reserved macadamia nuts into tops; bake 10-12 minutes until cookies are golden but still soft

6) Remove from oven and transfer cookies to wire rack; when cool, scatter with tiny pinches of reserved lime zest; enjoy!

Makes: 2 dozen cookies

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 04/29/12