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December 16, 2005

From My Kitchen: Christmas Spice Cookies

My family has made these spicy-sweet cookie-cutter cookies for more than 30 years. It's a very easy dough to work with, and decorating the cookies is a fun project for kids.

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November 11, 2005

From My Kitchen: White Bean Chicken Chili

A perfect recipe for the slow cooker or Crock Pot. I've been making various versions of this chili for years, and it's particularly easy when you make it in the slow cooker.

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November 09, 2005

From My Kitchen: Cherry-Cardamom Crisp

Taking inspiration from Jacques Pépin, I developed this tasty combination of Morello cherries, orange zest, and a crunchy cookie topping.

I'm a big fan of fruit crumbles and crisps. They're easy to put together and taste fantastic. Try this one in the fall, when fresh cherries are a distant memory.

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October 31, 2005

From My Kitchen: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

If you're carving up a few pumpkins today, try roasting the seeds. They taste great and are a fun counterpoint to all the sugar you and the kids will be eating later.

Slow roasting is the key to success, since it takes a while for the seeds to get really crisp. Cooking in an oven that's too hot will lead to burnt, flabby seeds.

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October 13, 2005

From My Kitchen: Pumpkin Pancakes with Cinnamon Syrup

More pumpkin! These pancakes have a delicate pumpkin flavor and a soufflé-like texture.

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October 10, 2005

From My Kitchen: Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

Have you been afraid to try to make crème brûlée at home because it seems too complicated or difficult? The enormous popularity of a simple custard dessert has been one of the restaurant industry's favorite shortcuts over the last 10 years. Crème brûlée couldn't be simpler to make, as long as you invest in a couple of relatively inexpensive pieces of equipment. Essentially, it's pudding with sugar on top. No need to pay $7.00 for it at a trendy bistro when you can make it at home.

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August 21, 2005

From My Kitchen: Chicken Soft Tacos

Virtually no prep required. Start with a grocery-store rotisserie chicken, and buy as many pre-prepped ingredients as you can find. Most stores have bags of shredded lettuce, and some carry pre-diced tomatoes, onions, and peppers, which makes this recipe easy to pull together. Place everything in bowls on the table, and let everyone build their own tacos. Pick and choose which ingredients appeal to you: the tacos could be as simple as chicken and lettuce in tortillas, or you could serve all the ingredients listed for taco-palooza. The amounts can be adjusted upwards or downwards, depending on how many servings you need.

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From My Kitchen: Soup and Salad with Crostini

A very simple way to dress up canned soup. You can assemble the salad while the crostini are baking. Be sure to use high-quality Parmesan cheese. If it's too much of a pain to grate your own, buy it pre-grated in the small containers available in the deli section of your grocery store. Don't ever use the stuff that comes in a green can. That's not Parmesan (it barely even qualifies as cheese) and won't melt properly. Depending on how hungry your family is, you can use three, four, or even five cans of soup. I recommend a tomato bisque or a minestrone, but you can use whatever soup strikes your fancy.

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From My Kitchen: Frito Casserole

Classic Frito pie is just a bag of Fritos topped with chili. This version is a bit more involved, but it's still extremely simple to throw together, and tastes delicious. The amount of spices given below is an approximation; I usually just toss them in until the chicken looks well seasoned. I cook the spices with the chicken for a couple of minutes to tame the harshness of the chili powder and bring out the full flavor of the spices. Preheating the chicken and beans also means the casserole spends less time in the oven.

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August 20, 2005

From My Kitchen: Turkey Manicotti

A fairly easy dinner to throw together. You can use lean turkey or fat-free. Same with the ricotta: low-fat, part-skim, or whole-milk all work fine. Avoid fat-free ricotta, as the texture isn't that great. Be sure to squeeze the hell out of the spinach, otherwise the filling will be watery. You can use the entire package of spinach if you want, but I prefer to leave out a good handful (1/2 to 3/4 cup), for a creamier filling. If you've never filled manicotti before, it can take a couple of tries to get a feel for it. I don't bother with a pastry bag, since that's one more thing to clean up. Just use a smallish spoon and put a tablespoon or so of filling into the pasta tubes at a time. If a tube splits, don't worry. Hold it flat in your hand and place the filling on top, then roll it back up and place it seam-side down in the baking dish.

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©2005 Colleen Flippo. All rights reserved. Contact the author.