BLACKBERRY AND RED WINE GELATIN

Gelatin is not among my weaknesses, but blackberries…oh my. And an occasional glass of red wine…quite nice. Here, I combined the two for a beautiful, elegant, and delicious side dish that was all the dessert anyone could want. But that’s just my opinion 🙂

Blackberry and Red Wine Gelatin

1 cup sweet red wine

2/3 cup granulated white sugar

12 oz fresh blackberries, divided (frozen work well too, but thaw first)

1 cup water

2 envelopes Knox unflavored Gelatine

1) To a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat, add wine and sugar; stirring continuously to dissolve sugar, bring to a boil; reduce heat to low, add 8 oz blackberries (reserving 4 oz for garnish), and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally

2) Meanwhile, add water to large bowl, sprinkle gelatin over surface; let sit 5 minutes

3) Slowly stir blackberry-wine mixture into gelatin mixture, then pour into a loaf pan; cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate 3-4 hours until set

4) To more easily unmold gelatin, set loaf pan in a shallow pan of hot water a few seconds to loosen gelatin from bottom and sides, then invert pan onto serving plate; garnish gelatin with reserved blackberries and serve immediately

Yum!

Servings: 6-8

PORK FRIED RICE

Pork Fried Rice–love it! Fortunately, it’s relatively easy and quick to put on the table. Although our family usually leans more toward chicken, there’s no beating juicy pork tenderloin in fried rice. All thumbs up!

Pork Fried Rice

3 tbsp hoisin sauce

3 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp honey

1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2″ dice

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped

4 cups cooked white rice

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup peas

3 scallions, thinly sliced

1 tsp Asian sesame oil

1) In medium-sized bowl, mix hoisin sauce, honey, and soy sauce; stir in pork and marinate 10 minutes

2) Add oil to large skillet and heat over medium-high; add onion and cook, stirring often, 3 minutes; drain marinade from pork (reserving marinade) and add pork to skillet; cook, stirring often, 4 minutes; add carrots and cook, stirring often, 2 minutes; stir in rice and reserved marinade and cook 3-4 minutes

3) With large spoon, push rice mixture to sides of skillet, forming well in center; add beaten eggs to center and scramble; add peas, scallions, and sesame oil to skillet and, stirring continuously, cook 3 minutes until heated through; serve with additional soy sauce

Servings: 6 dinner-sized; 10 side-sized

LAYERED SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

Senior adores sweet potatoes…and cranberry sauce…and marshmallows. Layer them in one baking dish, sprinkle with butter-oat crumble topping and pecans, and you have an easy, unbelievably tasty side dish.

IMG_6905

6 cups mashed sweet potatoes

1-14 oz can whole cranberry sauce

2 cups marshmallow cream (I used Jet-puffed brand)

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup oats

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 cup Craisins

1/4 cup pecan halves

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees; lightly butter 8×8″ baking dish

2) In medium-sized bowl, mix butter, oats, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon until well combined and crumbly; refrigerate

3) In baking dish, layer casserole as follows: 2 cups sweet potatoes (reserving 4 cups), cranberry sauce, 2 cups sweet potatoes (reserving 2 cups), marshmallow cream, and remaining 2 cups sweet potatoes; bake in oven 20 minutes

4) Crumble butter-oat mixture over casserole and bake additional 15-20 minutes until casserole is bubbly and crumble topping is golden brown; scatter Craisins and pecans over top and cook additional 5 minutes; serve

Servings: 8-10

HOT-OR-COLD CHICKEN POTATO SALAD

Hot or cold, you can’t go wrong with this potato salad. Hot, it’s fabulous as an entree–think “casserole.” Cold, it’s a fabulously tasty side. If you decide to prepare it as a side, skip the baking step and mix in the cheese as the final step before refrigerating and, prior to serving, sprinkle parsley over top. Scrumptious!

Hot-Or-Cold Chicken Potato Salad

1-1/2 lbs small potatoes (I used the itty bitty honey gold potatoes)

2 tbsp olive oil

1-1/2 lbs chicken tenderloins, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp dried tarragon

3/4 cup light mayonnaise

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp champagne wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar)

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup grated Colby-Monterey Jack cheese

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees; lightly oil a medium-sized casserole dish

2) Put potatoes in large saucepan and cover with water; bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium and cook 15 minutes until potatoes are cooked through but still on the firm side; remove from heat, drain water, and set aside

3) Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat; add chicken and sprinkle salt, pepper, and tarragon over top; cook, stirring often, 5-6 minutes until chicken is cooked through; remove from heat and set aside

4) To small mixing bowl add mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, vinegar, and lemon juice; mix until well combined; set aside

5) Quarter potatoes and place in large bowl; add chicken and pour mayonnaise sauce over top; gently mix ingredients, careful to not break up potatoes; spoon potato-chicken mixture into casserole dish and bake in oven 20 minutes; sprinkle cheese over top and bake additional 5 minutes until cheese melts; remove from oven, sprinkle with parsley, and serve

Servings: 4 as an entree; 8-10 as a side

PINEAPPLE-PORK FRIED RICE

Though I tout this dish as an entree, I served it with sushi for my guys who believe fried rice has no business disguising itself as anything other than a side. I, however, stuck to the Pineapple-Pork Fried Rice that is entree enough for me. Where did I get the idea of adding pineapple to pork-fried rice? I looked in my fridge and a beautiful pineapple looked back at me. We came to an understanding and this deliciousness resulted. Give it a try.

Pineaapple-Pork Fried Rice 2

5 cups prepared brown rice (Confession #2: I used instant); chill in fridge before using

3 tsp sesame oil, divided

1-1/2 lb pork loin, fat removed, sliced into thin strips

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 cup carrots, diced

3/4 cup onion, chopped

3 green onions, sliced thin

1 tbsp butter

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup peas (I used frozen and thawed)

1-1/2 cups fresh pineapple, diced

3/4 cup soy sauce

1) To large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1-1/2 tsp sesame oil (reserving 1-1/2 tsp) and pork loin; sprinkle pork loin with pepper and sea salt and cook 6-7 minutes until meat is no longer pink; remove pork from skillet and set aside

2) Heat reserved 1-1/2 tsp sesame oil in skillet over medium heat; add carrots and onion and cook 2-3 minutes; add green onions and cook 1 minute; remove carrot-onion-green onion mixture from skillet and set aside

3) Add butter to skillet and melt; pour beaten eggs into skillet and let set without stirring for 1 minute; stir eggs and break into small pieces with spatula; add pork, carrot-onion-green onion mixture, peas, and pineapple; stir to combine; stir in soy sauce and cook 4-5 minutes until heated through; serve

Servings: 6-8 as entree; 10-12 as side

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 06/12/12.

AMAZING CRANBERRY-PECAN MIXED RICE

Obviously, I’m not as big on side dishes as I am on entrees and sweets, but this recipe is so good I have to pass it on. Although I used mixed rice this go around, wild rice is lovely too. Also, I did make it with chicken Rice-A-Roni once and it was delicious in its own right. Of course, that might have something to do with the cranberries, pecans, and roasted red peppers. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with a combination like that.

Amazing Cranberry Pecan Mixed Rice

2 cups mixed rice (I used Rice Selects’ Royal Blend brand containing Texmati, white, brown, wild, and red rice)

1 chicken bouillon cube

3/4 cup dried and sweetened cranberries (Craisins)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

3 scallions, sliced thin

1 large roasted red pepper, chopped fine (I used jarred and, in the past, opted for a mix of red and yellow that was not only tasty but very pretty)

3 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup sherry cooking wine (or the non-cooking kind, AKA very drinkable)

1 tbsp + 1 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1) Prepare rice according to package directions, adding bouillon cube to water in which rice cooks

2) During the rice’s last 5 minutes of cooking, to large mixing bowl add: Craisins, pecans, scallions, roasted red pepper, olive oil, sherry cooking wine, lemon juice, salt, and pepper; mix well; stir in cooked rice; transfer to a lovely serving bowl and send out into the world 🙂

Servings: 8

BLACK EYED PEA AND SUN-DRIED TOMATO SPINACH SALAD

This was a winner at our Christmas dinner, so much that I’ll probably serve it again for New Year’s dinner. Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is, after all, a Southern tradition. Thank goodness it’s such a tasty one!

Black Eyed Pea-Sun Dried Tomato Spinach Salad2

1 can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

2/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, chopped (reserve 3 tbsp oil)

1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced

1 tbsp chopped cilantro

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1-1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

6 cups baby spinach

1) In medium-sized bowl mix: black-eyed peas, sun-dried tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, vinegar, reserved sun-dried tomato oil, and mustard; refrigerate 1 hour

2) Place spinach in large salad bowl, spoon black-eyed pea mixture on top and lightly toss; serve

Servings: 6-8 as a side