Lots of people make wish lists, from where they want to vacation to repairs needed around the house.
One of my wish lists consists of food I enjoy eating out, but have never made in my kitchen.
Now, there are lots of weird and wonderful dishes I've tried and would never attempt to make -- like lobster risotto. It's best left to the experts.
But, I'm embarrassed to say, my list is full of relatively uncomplicated food I've eaten repeatedly, some for decades.
I don't have a really good reason why I've never made homemade cinnamon rolls, other than I'm lazy.
And while I'm confessing, and here I cringe, at least two on my list are fast-food classics.
Anyway, I was clearing out junk on my computer and came across the list, which I only occasionally look at, and thought, "I should start at the top and make one of these a month." That should keep me busy for a couple years.
Of course, I'm making no promises. An inspiration in February could be forgotten by March. But in case you want to know what's on the list, here are some recipes, which swing from healthy to not even close.
When I moved to the metro-east in 1976, one of the first downtown St. Louis restaurants I visited was Trader Vic's. A friend and I would go shopping at the Famous-Barr and Stix, Bauer & Fuller stores, then have lunch at the faux-Polynesian restaurant.
It was there that I become besotted with the chicken salad that was on the menu. It had crunchy noodles mixed in with it.
When Norma Maret Bolin published her expanded version of "The Route 66 St. Louis Cookbook" last year, she sent me a copy for helping her with some other recipes. In it was the chicken salad recipe. My mouth started watering.
Trader Vic's Chicken Salad
1 1/2 cups pineapple tidbits, drain and reserve juice
4 to 5 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup sliced water chesnuts
1 cup sliced celery
1/3 to 1/2 sliced green onions
1/2 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Major Grey's chutney
1 teaspoon curry powder
3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups Chinese noodles
Lettuce leaves, optional
Salad: Combine pineapple with chicken, water chesnuts, celery, green onions and almonds.
Dressing: Stir together dressing ingredients. Add a little pineapple juice to loosen dressing just a bit.
Add dressing into salad at least an hour before serving and refrigerate.
Assemble: Add noodles just before serving. Serve on a bed of lettuce. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
I ate wonton chips at a party a couple years ago. They'd come from a takeout Chinese restaurant and were delicious. Being someone who likes all kinds of salty crunchy foods, I added this to my list.
I'm sure they were fried in oil, not something I would likely do at home. I found this alternative recipe instead, which calls for baking them. If I get ambitious, I could alter the recipe and add cinnamon and sugar instead.
The salsa is a winter bonus, since you don't need fresh garden tomatoes to make it.
Look for wonton wrappers in the produce section of the store.
Baked Wonton Chips with Corn Salsa
24 wonton wrappers
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons water
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 can (15-ounce) black beans or red kidney beans
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro or parsley for garnish
For the chips: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the wonton wrappers on two large greased baking sheets.
Combine the olive oil and water in a small bowl. Generously brush each wonton wrapper with the olive oil mixture. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Using a paring knife, cut each wonton wrapper into two triangles.
Bake 6 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown.
For the salsa: Combine the corn, black beans, diced pepper, and chopped onion in a large salad bowl.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the corn mixture; mix until thoroughly combined.
Garnish with cilantro or parsley. Serve with Wonton Chips. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Cinnamon rolls have been the bane of my baker's existence. I've always wanted to make them, but didn't want to have to deal with a yeast bread recipe. (Yes, I do know how to bake bread and rolls.)
Whenever the urge strikes me for a homemade cinnamon roll, I don't want to wait hours for dough to rise, etc. With this recipe, I can have cinnamon rolls on the table in about an hour.
Quick Cinnamon Rolls
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk/buttermilk substitute
3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup whole-wheat and 2 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose)
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk/cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Either grease or line a muffin tin or get 12 paper bakeware muffin cups/ramekins out.
For the filling: In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar together. (Butter will be used later.)
For the dough: In a medium bowl, mix brown sugar, baking soda, salt, vanilla and egg. Add buttermilk and then the flour (start with 3 cups and then add more as needed). Stir until combined and not too sticky.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes.
Roll dough into a 12-by-24-inch rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough (leaving a small border around the edges) and sprinkle the filling evenly across the dough.
Roll the dough into a log (starting with a long side); stretch slightly to keep the seam tight as you roll.
Cut the log in half, then halve each half. Cut each quarter into 3 pieces to created 12 rolls total.
Place rolls in the muffin cups.
Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.
Allow cinnamon rolls to cool for 5 minutes and then move them to a cooling rack.
Icing: Whisk together the ingredients for the icing and drizzle over the cinnamon rolls.
Store leftovers in an airtight container; can be reheated.
If I have a choice between noshing on french fries or onion rings, I go for the rings.
Unfortunately for my waistline, if you put them in front of me, I will eat them. Anytime, any where.
I have never made them at home for a variety of reasons, including that I don't like to get hot oil everywhere.
This recipe seems so simple, that I may just dip my onions in this batter and try it.
In a wide bowl, mix together 1/3 cup of milk, 1 egg and a pinch of salt and black pepper.
Slice 2 large white onions into rings and soak 30 minutes in the egg mixture.
Break open some pancake mix and pour some onto a plate or wax paper. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Dip each onion ring in the breading and deep-fry in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Load the onion rings into a loaf pan, forming a very loosely packed loaf, and bake 10-15 minutes.
I admit it, I have a fondness for chicken nuggets. Actually, I just like finger food.
I would never order McDonald's Chicken McNuggets, but when I see kids scooping nuggets through barbecue sauce, it just looks like they're enjoying themselves more than I am eating my cheeseburger!
Baked Chicken Nuggets
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, (approximately 1 pound)
1 1/4 cup panko (bread crumbs)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Spicy Ketchup Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons Sriracha or any spicy chili sauce
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Combine all the ingredients for the Spicy Ketchup Dipping Sauce and chill.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the chicken into 1.5-2 inches pieces. Set on a dish.
Spread panko in a thin layer on rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes, until golden brown.
Transfer the panko to a shallow dish and mix in the Parmesan and coarse salt. Drizzle the oil and mix well.
Set out the flour and eggs in separate dishes. Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees.
Place a wire rack on the baking sheet, lightly coat with cooking spray.
In small batches, coat the chicken in flour, shaking off any excess, dip in egg, and lastly coat well with panko. Transfer to the rack.
Bake the chicken until desired tenderness, about 12-14 minutes, turning when halfway through. Serve nuggets with the Spicy Ketchup Dipping Sauce. Serves 4.
-- Joy Cho on Pinterest, adapted from Everyday Food, April 2012
One of the most under-used vegetables in my food repertoire is eggplant. All I ever do with it is make Eggplant Parmesan, which is not exactly a healthy dish, since it's sliced, breaded, fried and then smothered in red sauce and cheese.
Mediterranean food has become a favorite of mine, especially baba ganoush, which is simple: smashed roasted eggplant with a few other ingredients. Problem is, I forget to buy an essential ingredient, tahini, which is sesame seed paste. (I get it at World Market in Shiloh.)
This baba ganoush recipe is adapted from Williams-Sonoma's "Small Plates" by Joanne Wier, published 1998. It calls for black olives, which can easily be omitted.
1 large eggplant
1/4 cup tahini, plus more as needed
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
1 pinch ground cumin
Salt, to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup brine-cured black olives, such as kalamata, optional
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Prick eggplant with a fork in several places and place on a cookie sheet. Bake until very soft, about 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven, let cool slightly and cut in half. Drain off any liquid and scoop flesh into a bowl. Discard skin.
Using a fork, mash the eggplant to a paste. (Or, use a food processor.)
Add tahini, garlic, lemon juice and the cumin; mix well.
Season with salt, then taste and add more tahini and/or lemon juice, if needed.
Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and spread with the back of a spoon to form a shallow well.
Drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the parsley.
Place the olives around the sides, if desired.
Serve at room temperature with pita. Serves 6.
I really like eggplant, but I always ate it the same way at home and in restaurants: Eggplant Parmesan. Then I went to Italy and devoured it almost daily -- and it was never sliced, smothered in cheese or fried.
This recipe isn't too far removed from what I like, but it would be faster, surely, and definitely healthier. I found it at Healthyrecipes.blogspot.com, where the author describes it as "a delicious, pizza-like experience." She cut back on the sauce and cheese, using a recipe on the Dr. Oz website,.
Use 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano if you don't have fresh basil. If you double the recipe, bake it in a 9-by-13 baking dish.
Olive oil spray
1 large eggplant (total weight 1 pound), unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup tomato or marinara sauce
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella, divided
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray the foil with olive oil cooking spray.
2. Transfer the cubed eggplant to the baking sheet. Spray with olive oil spray. Sprinkle pepper and garlic powder. Roast, tossing once, 15 minutes, until golden.
3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the tomato sauce, cayenne and basil.
Spray a 1-quart casserole dish with olive oil spray.
4. When eggplant is roasted, remove it from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Add the roasted eggplant to the tomato/basil mixture. Add half of the mozzarella and mix well.
5. Transfer the mixture to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and the Parmesan on top. Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 2 servings, each with 210 calories, 9 grams fat, 18 mg cholesterol, 442 mg sodium, 2 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fiber, 5.5 grams sugar, 12 grams protein. Weight Watchers Points Plus: 5 points
"Many folks shy away from pie, thinking it's much too finicky or persnickety for them," Ashley English writes in her book, "A Year of Pies: A Seasonal Tour of Home Baked Pies," (Lark Crafts, $19.95). "I can tell you with the utmost confidence that baking pie is considerably easier than baking many, many other things."
Well, that may be true, but I have never made my favorite pie, which is banana cream. It may simply be that pies have always been a dessert I've made for other people, not myself.
BANANA CREAM PIE
1/2 cup sugar
5 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter, in 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream
3 large, ripe bananas, peeled, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 9-inch pie shell, baked, cooled
1. Sift sugar, flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. With a large spoon, beat in yolks one at a time. Heat milk and butter in a small saucepan until butter melts and small bubbles form around pan's edge. Slowly pour it into the mixing bowl, a little at a time and stirring constantly with a whisk so the eggs don't curdle. Stir in vanilla. Return mixture to saucepan. Heat almost to a boil; reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring, until it thickens to a heavy custard; cool to lukewarm.
2. Meanwhile, beat 1/2 cup cream until it forms firm peaks. Gently but thoroughly fold into cooled custard. Spread 1/4-inch custard on bottom of pie shell; arrange a layer of bananas on top. Continue layering custard and bananas, ending with a layer of bananas. Beat remaining cream until stiff. Spread atop pie in decorative swirls. Chill at least 1 hour before serving. Makes one 9-inch pie, 8 servings.
-- Chicago Tribune, adapted from "American Cooking," part of Time-Life's Foods of the World series (1968)