Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

What was I thinking to start making these at 5 pm? They are labor intensive but a labor of love. 90 minutes later, I had 3 cookie sheets filled with gnocchi freezing on the back porch and a batch cooking for dinner had been accomplished.

My thinking was to make a huge batch to put in the freezer but oh, my aching back. We even have elevated counters for our heights but still, I was too hunched over the dough.

But I'm done and it was worth it! Homemade gnocchi has been a recent addition to our kitchen. Somewhat like a potato dumpling, these tiny pasta like products are worth the effort. I put in the oven 2 large sweet potatoes and 2 large baking potatoes and baked them at 350 degrees for an hour. Place the potatoes on a cookie sheet so the sweet potatoes don't drip to the bottom of your oven like mine did.

Baking the potatoes brings out the sweetness in the sweet potatoes and a better texture to the regular potatoes than if they were microwaved. Adding sweet potatoes into the gnocchi dough not only turns them a gorgeous orange, but adds a sweetness.

Once the potatoes are done, cut them open to cool and then scoop the cooked potatoes into a food mill or potato ricer. Put this mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer.

To this mixture, add:

2 eggs
salt and pepper
3 T fresh, chopped parsley
2 t minced garlic
4-5 cups flour

Use the dough hook of the stand mixer.  Add the flour in 1/2 c increments. Mix until the dough easily pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead for 2-3 minutes. Cut a piece of dough off and roll between your floured hands into a long roll about 1/2" in diameter. This is a somewhat sticky/soft dough because of the potatoes. Cut the roll into 1/2-3/4" pieces and roll each piece down the back of fork to form indentions. Put the pieces on a baking sheet to dry.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add a couple of handfuls of the gnocchi and cook, stirring, until the gnocchi rise to the top of the pot.  When you add very fresh gnocchi to the water, the gnocchi will still have a bit of moisture to them and you'll think they will just sink. Well, yes, they will immediately sink to the bottom but in a few minutes, they will float to the top.

We made tomato sauce for the gnocchi. I placed the baking sheets filled with fresh gnocchi out on our (frozen) back porch for about an hour and then put the gnocchi into freezer bags and into the freezer.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

We have made various versions of cottage cheese pancakes for years. The combination of cottage cheese, eggs, and flour make a fluffy pancake filled with protein. This version we tried this a.m. and I like it because the batter can be saved in the fridge for a later use.  We have served this to many people who think they don't like cottage cheese. Well, surprise, they do!

Mix together:
4 eggs
2 T oil
1 c milk
1 1/4 c cottage cheese

Add to the mixture:
1 c flour
1/2 t baking soda
a dash of salt
1 t vanilla
1 t cinnamon

Ladle onto a hot griddle and cook until the middle begins to set and then flip.  Serve with your favorite syrup which in our house is maple syrup--the real stuff not the chemical wannabe.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Zucchini and Tomatoes--a winter dish

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

It really is not much fun to come up with exciting vegetable dishes in January compared to July when I can walk outside and plan my dinner around what is ready to pick. Sigh. But January it is and creativity still needs to take place.

I had two zucchini in the fridge from a recent market visit. So I came up with a dish that is a bit like a Creole vegetable dish only I used Italian herbs. It turned out great!

I used what I had, my mantra. A couple of fresh zucchini, onion, garlic, green pepper with a quart of canned tomatoes (mine, of course) and fresh basil and dried oregano. I simmered it until it was thick. There are leftovers which would be great on pizza, pasta or rice.

2 med zucchini, sliced in 1/2" slices
1 med onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 green pepper, chopped
2 T olive oil
32 oz canned tomatoes
2 T fresh basil (from my AeroGarden)
1 t oregano
salt and pepper

Saute the onion in olive oil until they begin to shimmer with color. Add the green pepper, garlic, and zucchini and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add the tomatoes, undrained, and spices. Bring to a slow boil then turn to low heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes until the mixture is thick. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

My first experience with panko bread crumbs--Japanese style coarse bread crumbs--was on Pine Island, Florida. Brother Dave was planning his shrimp and panko dish and where did we buy the panko? At the fish market, of course.

Back in Northern Michigan, I searched for panko with few successes. Trips downstate to Trader Joe's helped me stock the pantry but then Trader Joe's stopped selling panko.

So now we make our own! It couldn't be easier. When old bread starts to get hard, we put slices of it on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 min. at 350 degrees or until the bread is just beginning to brown--this isn't toast, it is just crunchy bread.

Then using the grating blade for the food processor, the bread is pushed through the tube of the processor and through the blade. That's it! You have panko.  And cheap--this bread would have been tossed but no more; now all old bread becomes panko.

We like the plain, unseasoned panko so nothing is added to the crumbs. To store, put the panko crumbs in a large storage bag and keep in the freezer.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Roasted Tomato Vegetable Sauce

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

We have lots of jars of tomatoes in our pantry since we canned 65 quarts of them last summer. So in our usual 'eat out of the pantry as much as possible' mode, we have been creative with the tomatoes. Marty cooked up this dish yesterday. He's not one for following recipes or logging what he's concocted but this one needs to remembered.  He is a spontaneous cook and knows how to blend the flavors and it shows in this dish.

What he did was saute some vegetables--onions, celery, garlic, carrots--add some seasonings and two quarts of tomatoes and then slow roasted them in the oven for several hours. He then pounded some pork tenderloin into thin slices and sauteed those in olive oil and placed the pork on top of pasta and then smothered with the sauce. Great stuff!

3 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 T olive oil
2 qts  canned tomatoes
1 t dried basil
1 t oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the vegetables in olive oil until they begin to soften. Add the tomatoes and spices. Cover and bake in a 325 degree oven for 2 hours.

This makes a big pot of sauce. So for Day 2, I used the leftover sauce in a meat loaf. To 1 lb. of ground beef, I added 1 chopped onion, 1 egg, 3/4 c panko bread crumbs, and 2/3 c of roasted tomato vegetable sauce. I blended the mixture and packed tightly into a bread pan, topped with 1/3 c of sauce and baked for 45 min at 350 degrees. 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Greek Yogurt--Make Your Own, It's Easy!

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

I often hear friends talking about how they have fallen in love with thick, tangy, Greek yogurt. In the last few years, several brands of this silky yogurt can be found on grocery store shelves--and at a hefty price tag.

What is Greek yogurt anyway? Basically, it is just plain yogurt that has been allowed to sit in muslin or cheesecloth over a bowl or container so that whey drains from the yogurt. What is left is very thick and creamy and different in consistency than typical yogurt.

Even if you don't make your own yogurt like I do--which is easy: just heat milk to 180 degrees, cool to 110 degrees, add some yogurt from a previous batch as the culture, put in a bowl, wrap with a dish cloth and let it sit in an oven with either the heat of the pilot light or the oven light to keep it warm overnight--you can easily make Greek yogurt with store purchased yogurt plain yogurt.

Read the labels when you buy yogurt. What you want to see is a list of the cultures/bacteria that are in the yogurt not preservatives, corn syrup or artificial flavors. If you make your own yogurt, you can buy dried cultures or buy a good organic yogurt and freeze cubes of the yogurt (in ice cube trays) to use. You can use a couple of tablespoons from a previous batch for 2-3 times then grab one of the thawed ice cubes for the next batch to freshen it. The yogurt I make has 5 cultures: S. Thermophilus. L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, and L. Casel.

What you'll need:

Plain yogurt--quite a bit of whey will drain out, about 1/3 of the amount you begin with will drain
A steamer or strainer placed over a bowl
Line the steamer/strainer with cheese cloth or muslin or a paper coffee filter

Place the yogurt in the cloth or coffee filter, cover with plastic wrap and place the bowl/strainer/yogurt in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. The whey, or liquid, from the yogurt will have drained into the bowl. Scrape the thick yogurt from the cheesecloth and store in an air tight container. You have Greek yogurt at a fraction of the price of grocery store Greek yogurt.

In my house, the whey goes to the dog who waits patiently for it! He loves it and it is good for him.

Homemade Yogurt

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tuna Melts

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

This has been a stand by in our house for years. It is simple, tasty and always surprises a first-time diner at our table. It is basically just a lightly dressed tuna salad--not heavy on the mayonnaise--mounded on an English muffin, topped with cheese and put under the broiler for a minute or two. This not only tastes great but looks appetizing. These ingredients will make 4 tuna melts and uses 1 can of tuna so multiply by what you need:

1 can tuna, drained (I always use Albacore in water)
3 T mayonnaise
2 T minced green onion
2 t snipped fresh dill (from my Aerogarden at the moment)
salt and pepper to taste
2 English muffins, split
Grated cheese--your choice of kinds!

Mix the tuna, mayo, onion, dill, salt and pepper. Mound on the English muffin halves. Top with grated cheese and broil for 3-4 minutes until the cheese begins to bubble and brown.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Buttermilk Substitute with Vinegar

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

My pantry typically contains a dried buttermilk product that mixed with water, becomes buttermilk. But when I was making Cornbread Roxie this week, my pantry let me down: no buttermilk.

Not to worry: I whipped up a buttermilk substitute using milk and vinegar. To just under 1 c of milk, I added 1 T of white vinegar. I let the milk/vinegar mixture stand for about 5 minutes. This became the perfect stand in for buttermilk and my cornbread was perfect, too.

Cornbread Roxie

Monday, January 4, 2010

Vinegar as a Cleaning agent

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

At any given time, there are 5-10 different types of vinegar in my pantry. Cider, white, rice, wine, sherry, balsamic and more. They each have very different flavors and can be used in many ways.

But this post is about using it for cleaning as I did yesterday. The soap dispenser built into my sink was clogged with soap and would no longer work. I Googled a solution and came up with soaking it in water, soaking it in boiling water and if those didn't work, tossing it. I did the first 2 and without success. So before tossing, I tried my standby: vinegar.

I put the dispenser in a glass of cider vinegar and within an hour, pieces of soap were floating in the water. 3-4 hours later, the dispenser was as good as new. So on I went to the sink's attached spray hose. It was discolored from water deposits and not spraying well. I put the hose head in a glass of vinegar and several hours later, it was white again and sprayed so hard that I'd forgotten it could spray that well.

Next came our slow-to-brew coffeemaker. This happens every few months and I can tell by the (struggling) sounds the coffeemaker makes, that is clogged with water deposits. I poured 2 cups of white vinegar in the coffeemaker's water compartment and turned the coffee pot on.  When it had finished, I could see pieces of calcium deposits in the vinegar. I took the coffee filter, held it over the water compartment and poured the vinegar back in it. The filter kept the deposits from going back into the coffeemaker. I ran the vinegar through the coffeemaker again. One more time, I poured the vinegar back into the coffeemaker but this time I left the vinegar in the maker to sit for several hours.  This let the vinegar work on any calcium deposits.

After running the vinegar through the coffeemaker again, I then ran 3 pots of water through the coffeemaker and each time, the water brewed through with sediment. By the third time, the water was clearer. Today, the coffeemaker is back to full steam!

Three tasks in one day aided by vinegar.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

Muesli (pronounced muse-lee) is a breakfast cereal that has been popular in Europe for more than 100 years and is made from raw, rolled whole grains like oats or wheat with nuts and dried or fresh fruit. It wasn’t until the health food movement of the 1960s that this tasty and nutritious cereal appeared in the U.S. Muesli is now found not only in health food stores, but also in grocery stores.

I have been a muesli fan for years and have never purchased it--I've always made it. My pantry usually has the basic ingredients for muesli as it did today when I made a batch. Basically, the mix begins with a whole grain; I typically use whole oats (not quick or instant). To that, I add nuts and dried fruit--any kind, any combination.

For 2 cups of whole oats, I add 1/4 c each of dried fruit and nuts.  Today, I used slivered almonds and raisins. Sometimes, I use walnuts or pecans, and dried cherries, dates or cranberries. Other grains can be added like flax seed or flax meal or sunflower seeds. The mixture is stored in an airtight container.

When I am ready to eat the muesli, I mix and let stand for 5-10 minutes or overnight:
1 c muesli
1 t honey,
1 c of yogurt or milk or apple juice 

I am a cinnamon fan so I usually stir in some cinnamon, too. When my boys were in school, this was a common breakfast for them and often I'd stir in chopped fresh apples. My first memory of eating muesli in a restaurant was in a hotel in Disney World in 1988 and it was called Energy Riser. I liked it so much that a recipe of a version like this was included in the preschool health and safety curriculum I co-authored in 1989.

Try it, you'll like it!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Spicy Thai Slaw with Red Cabbage

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

I cut this recipe out of the Detroit Free Press years ago because I love red cabbage. And I never made the slaw until last week. That was a mistake. This slaw is outstanding. It begins with a water, vinegar, soy sauce, corn starch and sugar mixture that is brought to a boil and then peanut butter is added before it is cooled.

Recipes using red cabbage are not as prevalent as those using green cabbage. I like the flavor of the red cabbage and I love the color on the dinner plate. This slaw will hold for several days. If you are looking for a new slaw recipe or a new way to spice up and dress up your plate, this is it.

1/2 c water
3 T rice wine vinegar
1 T soy sauce
1 1/2 t cornstarch
1 t sugar
1 T creamy peanut butter
1 garlic clove, peeled, minced
1 T freshly chopped cilantro
1/2 t crushed red pepper
4 c finely shredded red cabbage
1/2 c shredded carrot
1/2 c sliced green onions

In a small saucepan, combine the water, vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch and sugar. Bring the liquid to a boil and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the head and add the peanut butter, whisking until the mix is smooth.

Stir in the garlic, cilantro and red pepper; cover and chill.

In a large bowl, place the cabbage, carrots and green onions; add the dressing, tossing to coat. Cover and chill before serving.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Chess Pie

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

Today is the one year birthday of Three Siblings in the Kitchen. In this past year, we--well, mostly me--have posted many times about the foods we create in our kitchens. During this new year, I hope my brothers will appear more often on the blog so I don't have to carry it solo! Perry and David are fabulous cooks. This morning, Marty made a wonderful breakfast of roast beef hash using leftover roast beef and he asked how many people that we know who would go to the effort to create this from scratch. I named off Perry and Dave and our friend Bev right away.

Our Mom was a fabulous pie baker. The tradition goes on in our family as pies are a favorite and a specialty. This is our Mom's, Rose Bond Washburn's, chess pie recipe that she clipped from the Chicago Tribune on June 24, 1962. It's easy and sweet and silky and a surprise when it hits your mouth. Chess pies are really like a sugar pie with eggs and butter. Definitely not low cal!

1 c brown sugar
1/2 c white sugar
1 t flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 T milk
1 t vanilla
1/2 c butter, melted
unbaked pie shell

Mix dry ingredients. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla and stir until blended. Add butter and mix thoroughly. Turn into pie shell and bake at 325 degree from 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Here is a post from a year ago with Mom's pie crust recipe: