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December 2007 Issue
by Ronda L. Halpin
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When you find yourself wondering what to get the foodie on your list this year, you know you can rely on Seasoned Cooking to help you out! This year, we are taking a look at three major gift themes and offering a wide variety of options within to let you mix and match to suit your own tastes and budget.

Semi-Homemade

    Food TV hostess and writer, Sandra Lee has her very own Semi-Homemade empire. But that hasn't always been the case. In her new autobiography, Made From Scratch, she tells the tale of her humble upbringing, the challenges that she faced as she built her first business, only to fail, and how she rose from the ashes of that to create the Semi-Homemade cookbooks and programs we've come to know and love. For anyone that's a fan of her work, this book is both inspiring and entertaining. Some fun things to pair with the book include:
    • Any of her cookbooks, including Semi-Homemade Cooking 3, Semi-Homade Slow Cooker Recipes 2, and Semi-Homade 20-Minute Meals 2;
    • A basket with assorted items commonly used in Sandra Lee's recipes, such as brined olives, assorted packets of specialty flavored instant oatmeal, jars of roasted red peppers, bottles of your favorite gourmet salad dressings or marinades, and decorating items for cakes and cookies;
    • Better yet, consider tucking a couple books and ingredients into a large slow cooker ... make sure you include one of Sandra Lee's slow cooker cookbooks;
    To get an idea of the kinds of recipes Sandra Lee favors in her cookbooks, here are two from two of her most recent offerings:

 

Chicken Pasta Milanese

From Semi-Homemade Cooking 20-Minute Meals 2
  • 12 ounces refrigerated fettucini, about 1 1/3 (9-ounce) package, Buitoni
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, Bertolli
  • 3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 package (8-ounce) sliced fresh brown mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic, Christopher Ranch
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, McCormick
  • 3 cups baby arugula, Fresh Express
  • 1 can (15-ounce) diced tomatoes with basil and oregano, S&W
  • 3 cups white wine
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese, DiGiorno
1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat and add chicken, mushrooms, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Cook and stir until chicken is cooked through and mushrooms have released their juices, about 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Add arugula and cook and stir until wilted. Add tomatoes and wine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes. Drain pasta and toss with chicken mixture. Serve immediately with shredded Parmesan cheese.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes
 

 

Pumpkin Maple Bread Pudding

From Semi-Homemade Cooking 3
  • Butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 loaf (16-ounce) cinnamon-raisin swirl bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, Oroweat
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, Planters
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, McCormick
  • 1/2 cup real grade A maple syrup
  • 1 can (15-ounce) solid pack pumpkin, Libby's
  • 1 jar (4.5-ounce) brandied hard sauce, Crosse & Blackwell
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract, McCormick
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 3-quart casserole dish with butter-flavored cooking spray. Toss together cubed raisin bread and pecans in casserole dish. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients, except hard sauce and maple extract. Pour over bread cubes. Let soak for 1 hour, occasionally pressing bread down into custard.

2. Bake bread pudding in preheated oven for approximately 1 hour, or until knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

3. Remove hard sauce lide and place jar in a microwave-safe bowl. Fill bowl with water halfway up the side of the jar. Heat on HIGH in microwave for 30 to 45 seconds. Remove and stir in maple extract. Drizzle over bread pudding.

  • Yields: 10 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
 

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