Apr. 19th, 2011

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I want to try some Middle Eastern cooking, but I have no clue how to go about it. So, I am starting easy. I read a bazillion recipes and ate at a bazillion restaurants and so I decided I was ready to start.

Beef Kabobs with Orange Sauce and Israeli Couscous were my first attempts and they turned out ok.

I started with a great piece of sirloin. And picked vegies we both like. I could have basted the kabobs more often for more flavor, but it turned out ok. I put 3 pieces of beef, 3 brussel sprouts, 2 of each color of pepper, 2 onion pieces and 2 mushrooms on each kabob. One was enough for me and John ate 1 1/2.

Beef Kabobs with Orange Sauce

1/4 cup(s) Fresh Orange Juice
2 tablespoon(s) Worcestshire Sauce
2 teaspoon(s) Dried Mustard
4 tablespoon(s) Butter
1 1/2 pound(s) Boneless Sirloin
12 whole(s) Fresh Mushrooms
1 whole(s) Green Pepper
1 whole(s) Red, yellow or orange pepper
1 whole(s) Red, yellow or white onion
12 whole(s) Brussel Sprouts

In a small saucepan, stir together, OJ, Worcestshire, mustard, and butter until just begins to boil. Stir constantly.
Alternating beef and vegetables, thread onto 6 skewers. Lay skewers on a cookie sheet (with sides) and brush with Orange mixture.
Bake for 20 minutes, turn skewers over, brush with more orange mixture.
Bake 20 minutes more. Then check beef for doneness. If you like them more well done, baste with more sauce and cook 20 minutes more.
You can change out the vegies for others that are in season or that your family likes. You can also cook these on the grill or under the broiler. Adjust time accordingly.

I over cooked the couscous a bit, I think. Everything I read about how to cook it said to make sure it was completely done and not al dente, but I think I over did it. It was a bit too soft for my taste, but John said the texture was perfect. I will definitely make this again, but will cook the couscous a little less.

Israeli Cous Cous
1 cup(s) Israeli Cous Cous
2 cup(s) Water
3 tablespoon(s) Olive Oil
1 clove(s) Garlic
1/4 cup(s) Red Pepper
1/2 cup(s) Green Onions
1/2 cup(s) Fresh Basil (or 1 T dried)
1/4 cup(s) Fresh Parmesan Cheese

In a medium saucepan, bring water, couscous, and a pinch of salt to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Test for doneness. You are not looking for al dente, you want it completely done. Drain and gently rinse.
While the couscous is cooking, saute garlic, onions, and peppers until aromatic, but still crisp.
In a covered casserole dish, gently stir together the couscous, vegetable mixture, basil, and salt and pepper to taste.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and bake at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes until cheese melts.

For a first attempt, though, this was a total success. I had fruit salad for dessert.
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Here are the recipes from last week...

Brussel Sprouts and Baby Carrots with a brown sugar/pepper glaze
2 pound(s) Brussel Sprouts
2 pound(s) Baby Carrots
1 1/2 cup(s) Chicken Broth (or vegetable broth)
6 tablespoon(s) Butter
1/3 cup(s) Brown Sugar
2 teaspoon(s) ground black pepper

Blanch carrots in a large pot of boiling salted water until crips but tender (about 6 minutes). Transfer carrots to bowl of ice water using slotted spoon. Return water to boil and add sprouts. Blanch until crips-tender (about 6 minutes). Transfer sprouts to a separae bowl of ice water. Discard boiling water.
Bring stock, butter and brown sugar to a boil in a heavy large skillet. Stir until sugar dissolves. Boil until reduced by half (about 7 minutes). Add carrots and cook until amost tender and sauch begins to coat - occasionally shaking skillet or stirring gently (about 5 minutes). Add sprouts and pepper and cook until heated through. Occasionally stir gently to coat vegetables (about 5 minutes).

Rice Pilaf
2 tablespoon(s) butter
1/2 cup(s) onion (or green onions)
1/4 cup(s) red bell pepper
1/4 cup(s) yellow or orange bell peppers
1/8 teaspoon(s) salt
1 cup(s) basmati rice (or brown rice)
1 cup(s) chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 tablespoon(s) dried parsley (or 1/4 cup fresh)
1 teaspoon(s) dried dill week (or 1/8 cup fresh)
1/4 cup(s) dried cranberries
1/4 cup(s) almonds

In a medium saucepan combine chicken broth with 1 cup water, salt, and rice. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook 25-30 minutes until rice is tender and fluffy.
Melt butter in a small skillet and saute onions and peppers until aromatic, but still crisp. Add spices and mix well.
Add onion mixture, cranberries and almonds to rice and mix well.
Serve warm.
Keep left overs in air tight container and this dish will remain tasty for several days.

Coconut Cream Pie
3 cup(s) half-and-half
2 whole(s) Eggs
3/4 cup(s) granulated sugar
1/2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
1 cup(s) flaked coconut
1 teaspoon(s) Vanilla Extract
1 whole(s) 9 inch pie crust (Pillsbury refrigerated, rolled pie crust)
1 cup(s) Whipped cream

In a medium sauce pan, combine half-and-half, eggs, sugar, flour, and salt. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Boil til thickens (about 1 or 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup of the coconut and the vanilla. Pour into pie shell and chill 2 to 4 hours or until firm.
Top with home made whipped cream and sprinkle top with remaining coconut. I add these to each slice as it is being served. Then you can store the rest of the pie in an air tight container in the refrigerator for several days.
Note: To toast coconut, spread flaked coconut on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 7 or 8 minutes until golden brown. Stir occasionally to brown evenly.
Note: To make home made whipped cream, simply use an electric mixer to whip 1 cup of heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. This takes about 5 minutes.

Spinach-Feta Tarts
2 tablespoon(s) olive oil
1 bunch(es) green onions
1 clove(s) Garlic
1/2 teaspoon(s) Freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
1 pound(s) Fresh Spinach (or 10 oz frozen)
3 whole(s) eggs
1 tablespoon(s) dried dill weed (or 1/2 C fresh)
1 tablespoon(s) Dried Parsley (or 2 T fresh)
2 tablespoon(s) milk
1/2 box(es) phyllo dough
1 cup(s) Feta Cheese
1/2 cup(s) butter (or butter-flavored cooking spray)

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and saute onions until tender (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly. Add pepper, salt, dill, parsley, and spinach. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 3-4 minutes until spinach cooks down. Remove from heat. Drain excess moisture.
In a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs with a whisk until well mixed. Add spinach mixture and milk. Stir until well combined. Stir in 1/2 C feta. Set aside.
Place first phyllo sheet on a cutting board and coat lightly with melted butter or cooking spray. Immediately place another phyllo sheet on top of the first one and coat lightly with cooking spray. Continue this process until you have 6 or 8 sheets in the pile. End with a phyllo sheet with no butter on top of it.
With kitchen shears or very sharp knife, cut the stack into 12 even squares (3 cuts across and 2 down).Coat a cupcake pan with cooking spray. Carefully place phyllo stack into each of 12 cupcake cups. Very gently press stacks into cupcake cups to form a bowl. Fan out the corners.
Spoon spinach mixture evenly into each phyllo cup. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle remaining feta evenly over each cup. Return to over and bake an additional 10 minutes or until phyllo is golden brown and feta is melted.
Let stand in pan for 5 minutes. Gently remove each up from the pan being careful not to tear the phyllo.
Serve with Greek Salad.


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