Best Recipe: Small Batch Italian Dressing

IMG_0864Makes about 2.5 oz (5.2 Tablespoons; about 3 servings). Serving size is 1 to 2 Tablespoons.

Favorite Italian Dressing

  • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian herb blend without salt (such as Penzeys Pasta Sprinkle, which blends basil, oregano, thyme and minced garlic)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Place ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously. Serve immediately, or store in the fridge for up to a week. Stir again before serving if needed.

Continue reading

Turkey Chili for Two

IMG_0677Cook’s notes: This hearty chili is very satisfying. I was happy to find a great chili recipe that makes only a small batch. It’s perfect for lunch. In addition to using turkey instead of beef, I added a little cinnamon. Serve 1 cup turkey chili with shredded cheese.

 

1/2 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 roasted garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried shallot
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (16 oz.) chili beans in sauce, undrained [mix of kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans]
1.5 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

In a large saucepan, cook turkey and onion over medium heat until meat no longer pink. Add garlic; cook one minute longer. Drain.

Stir in the remaining ingredients; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until heated through.

Source: Adapted from Taste of Home (link).

Turkey Meatloaves for Two

4 servings of meatloaf

4 servings of meatloaf

Cook’s notes: The Kraft website has a simple recipe to make free-form turkey meatloaves with roasted root vegetables. This recipe worked out well, and I made the following modifications:

Roasted vegetables:
1 sweet potato instead of 10 oz. red potato
12 baby carrots instead of 2 regular carrots

Use cooking spray to coat the vegetables, instead of oil.

Meatloaves: Use 1.25 lb/20 oz. package of ground turkey, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, and 2 egg whites. Divide the mixture into four loaves. I topped these with a seasonal pumpkin-molasses barbecue sauce. Makes 4 meatloaves.

Leftovers are terrific the next day.


Kraft says, “This little turkey meatloaf for two is big on flavor and texture, with tangy BBQ sauce.”

1 small sweet onion
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
12 baby carrots, cut diagonally into 1-inch-thick slices

1.25 lb. (20 oz.) 93%-fat-free ground turkey
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 egg whites
4 Tbsp. barbecue sauce without high-fructose corn syrup

Heat oven to 375ºF.

Line a 15x10x1-inch pan with a Silpat mat.

Mince enough onion to measure 1/4 cup; set aside. Cut remaining onion into wedges. Spread potatoes, carrots, and onion wedges onto bottom of 15x10x1-inch pan. Lightly coat with cooking spray. Bake 15 minutes.

Mix minced onions, turkey, bread crumbs, and egg whites in a bowl. (I put on food-handling gloves and kneaded the mixture by hand until well-combined.)

Remove vegetables from oven; stir, then push to edges of pan.

Divide turkey mixture into 4 portions; shape each portion into 6×3-inch oval loaf; place loaves in center of pan. Top each loaf with 1 Tbsp. barbecue sauce.

Bake 15 to 20 min. or until meatloaf is done (165ºF) and vegetables are tender.

Small Batch Russian Dressing Dip

Russian dressing dip is excellent with baby carrots

Russian dressing dip is excellent with baby carrots

Cook’s notes: This healthier version of a popular salad dressing doesn’t have any added mayo or sugar. I had a leftover turkey Reuben with some baby carrots, and thought having Russian dressing would be a great dip for the carrots. This recipe is less sweet than commercial dressings.

Makes about 1/2 cup. No added mayo!

1/4 cup red pepper and basil hummus
1/4 cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1.5 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons pickle relish
Ketchup to taste (one squirt, up to 1 Tablespoon)

Combine all ingredients in a small container. Stir together until well-mixed.

Best recipe: Small Batch Balsamic-Rosemary Vinaigrette

Best small batch vinaigrette

Best small batch vinaigrette

Cook’s notes: The original version was broadcast on the Splendid Table program (link). Designer Isaac Mizrahi gave an entertaining interview, but his recipe just calls for herbs. As host Lynne Rossetto Kasper pointed out, you could use any combination of herbs and vinegar. The suggestion to combine balsamic with rosemary comes from several sources.

More importantly, this is an amazing balsamic vinaigrette that you can make fresh right before dinner. It’s so good, we were tempted to sip it. The 2:1 ratio of oil to vinegar was terrific (a lot of dressings call for 3 parts of oil). This recipe is going to be in heavy rotation at our house.

Makes 2 servings (about 4 Tablespoons total).

1 clove garlic
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
1/8 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
3/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
Optional: 1/16 teaspoon sugar

Prepare garlic with the “press and rest” method: run the garlic clove through a garlic press and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Combine all ingredients in a small container with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously until well-mixed. Taste and add sugar for balance if needed.

Best Recipe: Cinnamon Skillet Pecans

2 cups raw pecans

2 cups raw pecans

Cook’s notes: You can use pecans, almonds, cashews (or a mix of nuts) in this recipe. I’d also like to try these with the Chai Spice Mix. I like that this small-batch recipe only makes 2 cups of nuts, which is just enough to enjoy without being too tempting.

I made these pecans for a friend’s birthday, and this was her reaction: “Deliciously addictive. I love ‘em! Lots of flavors going on with slightly sweet at the beginning, then salty, and a little heat kick at the end…. I am enjoying these nuts tremendously. Thank you so much!”

Spice mix:
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups pecan halves
1 teaspoon sugar, plus a little more for sprinkling

Make the spice mix: Combine salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice in a small bowl.

Melt the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat; stir in the the spice mixture. Stir in the pecans, and cook for 3 minutes.

Sprinkle the pecans with the sugar. Continue to toast the nuts, stirring often, until the color of the nuts deepens slightly, for a few more minutes (6 to 8 minutes total). Transfer the nuts to a bowl and sprinkle with a little more sugar. Spread the coated nuts on a plate to cool.

Adapted from The Frugal Girl (reduced sugar; reordered ingredients) http://www.thefrugalgirl.com/2010/05/how-to-make-spiced-pecans-or-cashews-or-almonds/

Small Batch Maple Vinaigrette

Just enough dressing for a few days of packed lunches.

Just enough dressing for a few days of packed lunches.

The 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar of traditional salad dressing can taste too oily to me. This dressing lightens up the oil. I saw maple vinegar in the grocery store and knew it would make a great salad dressing.

Makes about 3.1 oz (87 g), a small amount that can easily go in your lunch box.

Serving size: 2 Tablespoons (30 g).

1 oz. (2 Tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
1 oz. (2 Tablespoons) maple vinegar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon dried herb blend, such as Italian
1/4 tsp minced ginger

Place all ingredients in a container with a secure lid, and shake to combine.

Store the leftover dressing in the refrigerator. If the olive oil solidifies, just let the dressing come to room temperature or microwave it for a few seconds.

Sweet Potato Burritos – Small Batch

Cook’s Notes: The original recipe makes 10 cups of filling (4 cups potato and 6 cups beans and vegetables). While it is delicious, sometimes you just don’t want to roll 18 to 20 burritos in a night. Sometimes that much leftover food is just overwhelming. So I scaled the recipe down to make just 4 burritos. The burritos freeze well and can be reheated in the microwave. This recipe is loaded with all my favorite vegetables.

1 sweet potato (golden yam), scrubbed (to yield 1 cup cooked)
2 cups baby spinach (60 g / 2 oz raw)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 tsp minced garlic
2 scallions, sliced
4 oz sliced mushrooms (half of an 8-oz box)
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained (half of a 15-oz can)
1/2 cup yellow corn kernels

2 teaspoons Mild Chili Spice Mix
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon prepared mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
4 (10-inch) flour tortillas, warmed
2/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Pierce sweet potato (golden yam) all over with a fork. Microwave using the Potato setting (1100-watt microwave). When the potato is cooked through and very tender, carefully remove its peel. Scoop the cooked sweet potato into a bowl. You should have about 1 cup.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the spinach until it is wilted. Set aside.

Heat the oil in the skillet, and sauté the garlic until soft. Add scallions and mushrooms. Cook for a few minutes.

Stir in beans and corn. Add cooked spinach and sweet potato chunks. Stir after each addition. Sweet potato chunks will mash as you stir. Keep stirring until mixture is heated through.

Stir in the chili spice mix, cumin, mustard, cayenne pepper, and soy sauce. Stir in the shredded cheese.

Divide filling into four portions, and place one portion of filling on each warm flour tortilla. Top with additional shredded cheese and salsa, if desired. Fold up the tortillas burrito style.

Serve with optional garnishes: plain non-fat yogurt, additional chopped scallions, and salsa.

Variations:

  • Burrito bowl: Dish filling into a bowl. Serve with a tossed salad.
  • Make ahead: Wrap individual burritos and freeze. Reheat the frozen burrito in the microwave, starting with 2 minutes on High. Turn burrito over, and heat for an additional 30 seconds if needed.

Best Recipe: Small-Batch Bean Chili

Cook’s Notes: I was delighted to find a chili recipe that doesn’t make 5 or 6 quarts. Prepare this in the evening and set aside portions for lunch the next day. Makes 3 to 4 servings (about 3 cups).

Lunch menu: 1 cup bean chili, 1 oz low fat cheddar cheese (shredded or 1 cheese stick), 2 whole-grain Wasa crisp-breads, and a side salad (2 cups baby spinach and romaine lettuce) with dressing. Dessert: 1 fruit serving. This is a balanced meal, but a lot of food. You may opt to save the salad and fruit for a snack later in the afternoon.

1/2 sweet onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)
15 oz can pinto beans in chili sauce (do not drain or rinse)
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (do not drain or rinse)
1.5 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
1.5 teaspoons Mild Chili Spice mix or plain chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon baking cocoa (unsweetened)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In small soup pot, saute onion and bell pepper in 1 T olive oil for 5 minutes. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, mustard, and spices. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until heated through and thick. Stir chili several times while it cooks.

Source: Adapted from a “Chunky Vegetarian Chili” recipe in Cooking for 2 magazine

Blueberry Hazelnut Pancakes for 2

1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c ground hazelnut meal
1.5 T sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 c milk
2 T melted butter
1/2 c frozen blueberries

Combine the dry ingredients (flour to salt) in a mixing bowl.

Beat together the egg, milk, and melted butter in a separate bowl. Stir into the flour mix just until combined – the batter should be slightly lumpy.

Using a 1/4-cup measure, drop batter onto a hot, lightly greased griddle or skillet. Being careful not to burn yourself, spoon a few frozen berries onto each pancake’s raw side. (Blueberries will thaw out while cooking.) Turn pancakes when bubbles form on the surface and the edges are golden brown.

Serve warm. Feeds 2.

Sources for this recipe include the Joy of Cooking.