Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Food

February 4, 2014

Lee Ward: Meals for two can help you celebrate Valentine’s Day: 2/4/14

ASHLAND — A caller asked if I knew of a substitute for brown sugar, as she’s diabetic.

Unfortunately, I don’t know of a substitute other than manufactured sugar substitutes, which come in a brown version.

However, if you’re at home and you run out, you can add molasses to regular sugar to get brown sugar, according to recipes.howstuffworks.com.

The website states: To make dark brown sugar, mix 1 cup of white sugar with 1⁄4 cup of molasses, making sure to mix well.

To make light brown sugar, add 11⁄2 tablespoons of molasses to 1 cup of sugar. Mix well.

“You can get creative when working with brown sugar,” according to the website. “For example, you can make light brown sugar out of dark brown sugar by simply mixing some white sugar into your dark brown sugar. Keep adding white sugar until you're happy with the color.”

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Even when my husband was living, I didn’t cook for two. He had a big appetite so I could make a recipe for four for dinner; he would eat two servings at dinner and a third around midnight.

Now, though, I find myself needing to cook for one. I also like to cook for two and have leftovers for lunch the next day.

With Valentine’s Day approaching and lots of people thinking in romantic terms, I thought I would look into some recipes for suited for two. These are all from allrecipes.com.

SPICED PORK CHOPS II

1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground mustard

1 teaspoon paprika

1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1⁄4 teaspoon celery salt

1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger

1⁄8 teaspoon dried oregano

1⁄8 teaspoon dried basil

1⁄8 teaspoon salt

1 pinch ground black pepper

2 (1-inch thick) bone-in pork loin chops

11⁄2 teaspoons vegetable oil

3⁄4 cup dry sherry

3⁄4 cup water

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1⁄4 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9-by-14-inch baking dish.

Mix flour, garlic powder, mustard, paprika, cayenne pepper, celery salt, ground ginger, oregano, basil, salt and pepper together in a shallow dish.

Dredge pork chops in the flour mixture to coat. Reserve remaining flour mixture.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook pork chops in hot oil until browned, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer pork chops to prepared baking dish, reserving any drippings in the skillet.

Stir sherry, water and brown sugar together until sugar dissolves; pour over pork chops.

Bake in preheated oven until tender and no longer pink in the center, 40 to 45 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 145 degrees F (63 degrees C). Move pork chops to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Pour liquid from baking dish into the skillet with reserved drippings.

Place skillet with drippings mixture to medium-low heat. Stir cream into the drippings. Cook and stir, gradually integrating reserved flour mixture, until the mixture begins to thicken. Serve as a gravy for the pork chops.

INDIVIDUAL GRILLED VEGGIE PIZZAS

1 large portobello mushroom, sliced

1 small zucchini, sliced

1⁄4 pound butternut squash, peeled,

seeded, and thinly sliced

1 cup bite-size broccoli florets

1⁄4 cup chopped red onion

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 ounces refrigerated pizza crust

1⁄4 cup pesto

1⁄4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or blue

cheese

1⁄4 cup fontina cheese, cubed

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat.

Place the mushrooms, zucchini, squash, broccoli and onion in a grill pan, and brush with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cook on preheated, covered grill until tender when pierced with a fork, about 5 minutes. Remove from grill and set aside.

Roll out pizza dough on a floured surface to make two 8 inch circles 1⁄4 inch thick. Place onto pizza pans. Brush tops with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Bake on preheated, covered grill until browned, turning once, about 3 minutes each side. Remove from grill and spread with pesto. Top with cooked vegetables. Sprinkle with blue and fontina cheeses. Return to grill, cover and cook until cheese melts, about 3 minutes.

STUFFED PEPPERS MY WAY

1 cup water

1⁄2 cup uncooked Arborio rice

2 green bell peppers, halved and seeded

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

1 pinch ground black pepper

1 tomato, diced

1⁄2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in the rice. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.

Place the peppers cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Roast 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until tender and skin starts to brown.

While the peppers are roasting, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onions, basil, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper in oil for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato, and cook for 5 minutes. Spoon in the cooked rice, and stir until heated through. Remove from heat, mix in the feta cheese, and spoon the mixture into the pepper halves.

Return to the oven for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

EASY YET ROMANTIC FILET MIGNON

2 (8 ounce) beef tenderloin steaks, cut 1 inch thick (about 1 pound total)

2 teaspoons olive oil

1⁄4 teaspoon onion powder

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons minced shallot

2 slices bacon

Place oven rack in its highest position. Set oven to broil. 

Rub steaks all over with olive oil. Sprinkle with onion powder, then with salt and pepper. Wrap one slice of bacon around each steak, and secure with a toothpick.

Place steaks onto a broiler pan, and broil for 5 to 7 minutes. Turn the steaks over, and sprinkle the tops with shallots. Broil for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, or until the steaks are cooked to your liking.

SAUSAGE-STUFFED 

EGGPLANT

1 (11⁄2 pound) eggplant, halved

lengthwise

1 tablespoon olive oil

1⁄2 pound bulk Italian sausage

1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder

1⁄4 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1⁄8 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs

2 cups spaghetti sauce, divided

1 cup mozzarella cheese, divided

1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Brush cut sides of eggplant with olive oil and place, cut-side up onto a baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven for 30 minutes, then remove and allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, brown the Italian sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat; drain off the grease. Place into a mixing bowl, and season with garlic powder, Italian seasoning and pepper. Stir in bread crumbs, 1⁄2 cup of spaghetti sauce, 1⁄2 cup of mozzarella cheese and the beaten egg; mix well.

Once the roasted eggplant has cooled enough to handle, scoop out the flesh to within 1⁄2-inch of the skin to create a shell. Roughly chop the eggplant meat, and fold into the sausage mixture. Divide evenly among the two eggplant shells and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake in preheated oven until the filling has set, and the cheese is bubbly and golden-brown, about 30 minutes. While the eggplant is baking, warm the remaining spaghetti sauce in a saucepan over medium-low heat to serve with the eggplant.

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Chicken of the Sea is sponsoring a Name the Mermaid Contest, the winner of which will receive $10,000.

As part of its yearlong centennial celebration, Chicken of the Sea is challenging fans to name the brand’s famous mascot, which first appeared on Chicken of the Sea tuna labels in 1952 but has never had an official name.

Inspired by the brand’s 100 Years of Good initiative, which will award 100 community-minded individuals and nonprofits $10,000 each in 2014 to empower them to continue their charitable ways, the grand-prize winner of the naming contest will receive his or her own $10,000 Great American Gratitude Award to also pay it forward.

“The contest is part of Chicken of the Sea’s Centennial celebration and a precursor to our Great American Gratitude Tour, kicking off in March,” said Christie Fleming, senior vice president of marketing for Chicken of the Sea.

“Instead of simply presenting the winner with a $10,000 check, we’re also challenging him or her to honor the pay-it-forward spirit of the initiative and use the money to continue the cycle of good.”

Seafood fans can visit chickenofthesea.com/100/name-the-mermaid through Feb. 14 to enter ideas for the mermaid’s new name. While the grand prize winner will receive $10,000, another 10 first-prize winners will be awarded Chicken of the Sea seafood for one year and 20 runners-up will receive a Chicken of the Sea-branded prize. The winners will be announced March 6 to coincide with the launch of Chicken of the Sea’s Great American Gratitude Tour, which is being hosted by the newly named Mermaid.

LEE WARD can be reached at (606) 326-2661.

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