Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best Recipes of 2008

Asking a cook to pick out favorite recipes is an impossible task, like asking a mother to single out her favorite child. These recipes, they're my babies and I love them all! Sure, there are days when one 'baby' is better than another, that's the very 'nature' -- literally -- of seasonal cooking. But pick, I have, my favorite recipes for 2008, just one recipe a month. What do you think, have I picked your favorites too?

Plus, I think you'll love what's in store for 2009, including the celebration of Kitchen Parade's 50th anniversary, back to my mother's first columns in 1959.

Happy New Year's to all!
~ Alanna

My Favorite Recipes from 2008

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
January - Oven-Baked Brown Rice February - Pork & Poblano Skillet with Creamy Slow-Cooker Beans “March
April - Lemon Asparagus Pasta May - Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler Finnish Summer Soup
July - Mom's Blueberry Coffeecake August - Chilaquiles (Mexican Tortilla Breakfast) September - Green Chili Burgers
October - No-Knead English Muffin Bread November - Slow Cooker Turkey Breast December - Cinnamon Apples

More Favorite Recipes from Kitchen Parade

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences.

Never miss a Kitchen Parade recipe: Sign up for a free e-mail subscription.

If you like Kitchen Parade, forward this recipe to a friend who might too!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Mini Crab Bites

An easy elegant appetizer recipe, tiny portions of crab meat served in 'spoons' of endive. A rich-tasting appetizer but still low-calorie, low-carb for Weight Watchers, zero Old Points and just one PointsPlus.

Mini Crab Bites

RECIPE for a
A round table, holding eight;
A hearty welcome and little state;
One dish set on a time,
As plain as you please, but always prime;
Anonymous words of wisdom,
discovered via The Writer's Almanac

Many of us will host or attend dinner parties over the remainder of the holidays, most especially on New Year's Eve.

I love this easy appetizer recipe, one first taken to a New Year's party in 1996 and served on special occasions ever since. But somehow, the recipe seems especially suited for New Year's, when we're still in celebration mode but at the same time, mentally and physically ready to lighten up and return to the normalcy of the New Year.

(Did you notice? Thanks to the small portion size, each bite of crab is only 15 calories, making it both a low-calorie appetizer and a zero-point appetizer, so a definite winner in the calorie and Weight Watchers departments. Plus, it's a low-carb appetizer, making it perfect for low-carb dieters and diabetics, both.)

The crab mix itself is delicious, just crab meat with bits of corn and onion, then presented in tiny portions in 'spoons' of slightly bitter endive leaves.

Endive? Yes, endive [EN-dyv, AHN-deev, ahn-DEEV], the pale, tight football-shaped heads of lettuce found near other salad greens in high-end supermarkets. Some times they're labeled Belgian endive, also witloof. (There are more recipes for endive at A Veggie Venture.)

Happy New Year, Kitchen Parade readers. May all our parties, whether for eight or eighty, whether 'plain' or 'prime', be altogether pleasant! See you in 2009!

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Send a favorite easy appetizer recipe to e-mail.
Never miss a Kitchen Parade recipe: Sign up for a free e-mail subscription.
If you like Kitchen Parade, forward this recipe to a friend who might too!


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes (can be made ahead)
Makes 1-1/4 cups crab mix
  • 1/2 cup corn (see ALANNA's TIPS)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (low-fat works fine)
  • 1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
  • 4 teaspoons fresh tarragon, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces fresh or canned crab (see TIPS)

  • 2 - 3 endive heads, leaves separated, ends trimmed (see TIPS)

Mix all crab mix ingredients except the crab. Taste and adjust seasoning. Stir in the crab. (Stop here if making in advance, as much as 24 hours before serving.) Place a small spoonful of crab in the 'bowl' of each endive leaf. Arrange on platter and serve immediately.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE (assumes 1/2 tablespoon crab mix per leaf, so about 40 servings): 15 Calories; 0g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 6mg Cholesterol; 24mg Sodium; 1g Carb; 0g Fiber; 1g Sugar; 2g Protein; Weight Watchers Old Points 0, PointsPlus 0

ALANNA's TIPS In summer, use fresh corn so tender, no need to cook it. In winter, use frozen corn and cook briefly in the microwave, drain well. I've used both fresh crab meat and good canned crab meat that comes in not-cheap but less-expensive large cans at Costco and Sam's Club. An endive's inside leaves are much smaller than the outer leaves. If same-size leaves are important, you'll need more heads. Save the leftover crab mix for the best-ever omelettes, perfect for a late 'n' lazy breakfast at home on New Year's Day.

More Favorite Appetizer Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Cheese Puffs - Gougère Cream Cheese-Chutney Spread Olivada with Mozzarella & Pimento.

More Diet-Friendly Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Low Fat Vegetable Soup Alice Waters' Coleslaw Two-Way Lentil Skillet (Black Lentils with Tofu)

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Oyster Stew

A traditional dish in the Midwest at Christmas, oyster stew, an oyster soup really, just fresh oysters steeped in a milky broth.

Unlikely Fact: Oyster stew is a Midwestern specialty.

As long as I can remember, I’ve made oyster stew on Christmas Eve for my Iowa-born father, who remembers it fondly from his childhood. In my family, he’s the only one who eats oyster stew, just gently cooked fresh oysters in a milky broth, an oyster soup, really. But he doesn’t mind, all the more for him!

The question is, how would oyster stew become a specialty in states like Iowa and Missouri and Minnesota and Nebraska? The coasts, sure, where fresh oysters would be easily had; but the Midwest during the 1930s and 1940s, when oysters would have travelled long distances? (My dad remembers refrigerated rail cars, perhaps that’s it.)

So it’s a mystery to me. What’s not a mystery is how this oyster stew recipe is relished – think silent but obvious appreciation, think spoons clinking the sides of bowls then spooning up the last drops. It’s a keeper, a worthy specialty for the Midwest, proving once again that when it comes to treating those you love to a childhood specialty, it’s just fine for ‘traditional flavor’ to trump ‘local fervor’.

Here's wishing Kitchen Parade readers a very merry Christmas!

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Is there a special Christmas recipe from your childhood? Share the recipe via e-mail.
Never miss a Kitchen Parade recipe: Sign up for a free e-mail subscription.
If you like Kitchen Parade, forward this recipe to a friend who might too!


Fresh oysters in a milky soup
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes
Serves 4
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons flour or arrowroot
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Dash of white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 pint fresh oysters and their liquor

  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Additional salt & white pepper to taste
  • 4 pats of butter, optional

In a saucepan, heat the milk just to the boiling point, but do not allow to boil. (Kitchen Lingo: this is called ‘scalding the milk’.)

Separately, stir together the flour, salt, pepper and water in a large saucepan until a smooth paste forms. Stir in the oysters and their liquor and cook over medium-low heat until the oysters’ edges begin to curl. Add the scalded milk and Worcestershire sauce. Take off heat, cover and let rest for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Briefly heat again to return to temperature.

With a slotted spoon, transfer oysters into four individual bowls, spoon milk mixture over top. Sprinkle with additional white pepper. If you like, top with a pat of butter. Serve immediately.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Serving: 246Cal; 10g Tot Fat; 6g Sat Fat; 89mg Cholesterol; 823mg Sodium; 19g Carb; 0g Fiber; 13g Sugar; 17g Protein; Weight Watchers 4 points
Adapted from an old family recipe from an Iowa farm wife


Turns out, margarine is illegal in Missouri! Butter lovers unite! (more info)

More Traditional Christmas Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Swiss Muesli Apple Yogurt Salad Caramel Corn
~ more soup recipes ~

More Seafood Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Tiapinno (Ciopinno) - Italian Fish Stew Lemon Basil Shrimp Red Lentils with Shrimp

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fresh Cranberry Drop Cookies

A festive, colorful cookie for Christmas cookie plates, quick to make, easy to enjoy. The recipe uses less-expensive and lower-calorie fresh cranberries, spiked with orange essence and pecans.

Fresh Cranberry Drop Cookies ♥, easy, festive cranberry cookie, a real crowd pleaser.

"Luxury is not a necessity."

Many of us are celebrating Christmas frugally this year. We are “making the list, checking it twice” to save a few dollars here, more dollars there.

So a favorite food magazine’s frugal (ahem) entertaining ideas caught my attention. Granted, the article was titled "Luxury for Less" – but still, it suggested we substitute American caviar for Russian beluga and truffle oil for scrapings of fresh truffles. “We get it,” the story opened. And they do, if luxury is a necessity. But luxury is luxury – and luxury not a necessity.

Me, I’m baking less this year, an accommodation to fewer cookie monsters within cookie-grabbing distance, and with less-expensive ingredients, in nod to life-strapped budgets.

But baking at all? It’s a luxury.

It’s a luxury to collect fresh cranberries and butter and sugar in my warm kitchen as Christmas carols waft in from the other room. It’s a luxury to put out cups of tea and a plate of fresh cookies and have loved ones reach out to enjoy them.

I feel rich beyond words.

This recipe goes way-way back to cookie swaps hosted by my dear friend Lisa (who much to my delight, now has the great blog My Own Sweet Thyme!) when we both lived in Dallas. I haven’t made the recipe in years but was attracted to the easy ingredient list, the use of less-expensive fresh cranberries versus dried cranberries, getting five dozen (and since then, even seven dozen) cookies from a single stick of butter – and most especially, the festive color! It’s going to be my contribution to my own cookie swap on Saturday.

So many Christmas cookie recipes seem to require chilling the dough before rolling or baking. This one – hooray, another hat-tip to simplicity – actually works better if the cookies are baked immediately after mixing the dough. If the dough rests, the cranberry begins to stain the dough, resulting in a slightly muddy color, although no change in flavor.

Fresh Cranberry Drop Cookies ♥, easy, festive cranberry cookie, a real crowd pleaser.

"... pretty and delicious!" ~ Lisa
"... absolutely wonderful!" ~ Laura


Cookie bites bright with fresh cranberry, sweet orange and toasty pecans
Hands-on time: 45 minutes
Time to table: 90 minutes
Makes 5 to 7 dozen small cookies two- to three-bites big

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick/4oz/112g) salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 3/4 cup (150g) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk (see TIPS)
  • 2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 375g
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup (4oz/112g) toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups (6oz/170g) fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped in a food processor

Heat oven to 375F/190C.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugars until it's the consistency of wet sand, scraping the bowl and beaters once or twice. Beat in the milk, orange juice concentrate and egg until well combined.

Separately, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then blend well into the butter mixture.

With a wooden spoon, stir in the pecans and cranberries.

With a small cookie scoop, scoop out dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment; the cookies don't spread but do leave some space between them for "breathing room".

Bake for about 15 minutes for light-colored cake-like cookies, slightly longer for golden chewy cookies. Let cool for 5 minutes, remove from baking sheet to continue cooling.

ALANNA's TIPS Skim milk works fine, so does buttermilk. The original recipe called for two tablespoons of orange juice. But I like to use orange juice concentrate, it bumps up the orange essence considerably. Once I added the zest of an orange too. This added to the orange-y-ness but is optional, for sure. Here's a quick way to toast pecans. Just put them in the oven while it preheats, as soon as you can smell the pecans, pull them out! If you have access to black walnuts, they're wonderful in these cookies! Do chop the pecans by hand so they don't turn to mush. But even a mini food processor works for chopping the fresh cranberries. The original recipe suggested greasing the cookie sheets. The dough’s sugar content is quite high so something underneath is a good idea. I've successfully used parchment (my favorite), a silicone mat and a good-quality non-stick baking sheet. No cookie scoop? No problem. Just use two spoons (one to scoop and one to scrape) to drop the dough onto the baking sheet. The cookies will be be slightly more rustic in appearance but the taste won't suffer. It's also possible to roll the dough into balls with your fingers although please, do know that the dough is quite sticky.

Whole Recipe: 4543 Calories; 172g Tot Fat; 68g Sat Fat; 456mg Cholesterol; 2770mg Sodium; 687g Carb; 26g Fiber; 374g Sugar; 61g Protein.

Per Cookie, assuming 84 or 60 cookies: 54/75 Calories; 2/3g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 5/7mg Cholesterol; 32/46mg Sodium; 8/11g Carb; 0g Fiber; 4/6g Sugar; 1g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS 1/1.5 Old Points & 1/2 PointsPlus

More Cookie Recipes for Baking on a Budget

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Mini Coffee Cookies Molasses Cookies Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

More Recipes for Fresh-Cranberry Lovers

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Fresh Cranberry Bars Fresh Cranberry Cake Cranberry Apple Crisp