Thursday, May 20, 2010

Southwestern Slaw

Tis the season for rummage sales.  I love to go rummaging but don't take the time to go nearly enough anymore.  I used to go quite often when my kids were little.  I would come home with bags of toys, clothes, sporting goods etc. for the family for only a few dollars.  It was very rewarding!!!  To think you could acquire all of this for little money.  That was important then as I was a stay at home mom raising 4 kids.  I still love rummage saling but don't take the time to go very often anymore, although I would love to.  Once or twice a year my husband and I will take a day and rummage.  We each get an allowance to spend that day (to keep us from over-doing).  We go out to lunch and generally just enjoy the day.  Well last Saturday was a day that we did that.  The weather was beautiful!!  There was a city-wide sale that provided plenty of goods to choose from.  My weakness is always kitchen gadgets and books.  I can't pass them up.  I always have to stop and take a look.  Well, again as usual I came home with a recipe book that I am quite excited about.  That book is "The Dinner Doctor" by Anne Byrn.  She has many ideas and tips that she shares in this great book.  I have been browsing through that almost 3" thick book to choose recipes to try.  One that I tried last night I liked quite well and will mark it to make again.  Here it is:

Southwestern Slaw

1 16 oz. pkg. coleslaw mix
1/2 c.  finely chopped red onion
1/2 c. ranch  salad dressing
1 t. ground cumin
1 ripe avocado, peeled and cubed
Creole seasoning or salt
black pepper
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro

Place coleslaw mix and onion in a serving bowl and stir to combine.  Stir the cumin into ranch dressing and pour over the cabbage mixture stirring to combine all.  Add salt  to taste. (At this point I put in frig. to marry flavors until dinner, about 2 hours). At serving time I folded in the avocado cubes and sprinkled the top with cilantro.  I didn't have Creole seasoning so I didn't use that.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cherry Rhubarb Jam

If you know me you know I love to make jams and jellies to give away as gifts.  We have apple, cherry and pear trees in our yard and red and black raspberries along with rhubarb.  These fruits are handy to experiment with and use to make multiple batches. During the summer when the fruit is ripe I pile up on jam to give as gifts for Christmas.  I have simplified this process by using my bread machine.  I have a West Bend machine that has a jam cycle on it and have started using that and it works wonderfully.  I still make some versions the old fashioned way, but found that I can make various versions quite simply by using this wonderful kitchen appliance!  With rummage sale season upon us, you should be able to find a bread machine someone foolishly wants to get rid of.  Just be sure it has a jam cycle on it and you are in business.
A few years ago, my husband Mark and I went for a weekend in Door County and ate breakfast in a cute little Swedish Restaurant. We ordered Swedish Pancakes served with (since Door County is known for their cherry orchards) Cherry rhubarb jam.  They were delicious!!!  We have talked about those pancakes many times remembering how great that jam was.  I have tried to replicate it and found something I think is quite close to what they served us.  Serve this with my recipe for English Muffin bread.  You won't be disappointed.

Cherry Rhubarb Jam

2 c. sugar
1 T. low-sugar fruit pectin
3 c. chopped rhubarb
1 c. pitted sour cherries, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Put these in bread machine pan in order given.  Select jam cycle.  When done pour into clean jars. Let sit out on counter 24 hours before refrigerating.  This can be stored in refrigerator or frozen.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Scalloped Rhubarb

 The butter and sugar carmelize to give an outstanding flavor which goes well with the rhubarb.  Yummo!!  This is a very simple yet delicious way to make rhubarb.  White bread works best for the flavor you are going for.  I have only made this as is, but I am sure you can use less butter to cut down on fat and calories but still keep the important butter flavor.  You don't even need ice cream or whipped cream with this, but if you prefer, go ahead.

Scalloped Rhubarb

4 c. cut rhubarb (cut into 1/2" slices)
4 c. white bread cubes
1 1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter

Cut butter into sugar to make pea sized pieces.  Layer bread cubes in bottom of buttered 8'x8' pan.  Top with rhubarb, then with butter/sugar mixture. Place into greased 8"x8" glass pan.  Bake 325 degrees for 45 minutes.  Let cool slightly and serve.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bleu Cheese Dressing

I don't remember the first time I had Bleu Cheese Salad dressing, but I fell in love that day!  It is my favorite salad dressing---if made correctly.  There are some restaurants that make it wonderfully and some that just stir it into sour cream or something...not so great.  It is very high in fat and I don't eat it too often these days.  My family does not enjoy the flavor of blue cheese and get turned off by the fact that it contains a type of mold.  I however don't let that deter me.  If you are like me and need to have Bleu Cheese dressing in your life, try this recipe that I got from an episode of Elie Krieger's on Food network.

2 T. mayonnaise
1/4 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. fat free yogurt
1 T. vinegar
1/2 t. sugar
1/3 c. crumbled blue cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Drain yogurt 20 minutes.  Whisk with rest of ingredients and crumble in blue cheese.  Serve over your favorite salad greens.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Marinated Salmon

Today I am not in the mood for small talk so I will just post this.  It is one of our favorite ways to make salmon.
I usually serve this with Golden Rice Pilaf and steamed broccoli.

Marinated Salmon

4 4-6 oz. salmon fillets
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. sherry
2 t. lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 T. canola oil

Measure soy sauce, sherry, lemon juice and oil into ziploc bag.  Put in crushed, peeled garlic clove.  Pat dry salmon fillets and add to bag. Shake around to cover salmon with marinade.  Marinate at least 1 hour or more in refrigerator turning occasionally to fully distribute the marinade.  The longer you marinate the more flavorful the salmon.  When ready, remove fish from marinade and grill skin side down on oiled piece of aluminum foil over hot coals 15-20 minutes or on preheated Foreman Grill about 5 minutes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Golden Rice Pilaf

The wonderful blend of flavors in this dish are amazing!  A great side dish paired with grilled fish or chicken.  I got this recipe off a radio show that you could call in and share favorite recipes.  I will give you the recipe the way it was given but I have adapted it somewhat by using less butter.  It still has great flavor but with less fat and calories.  I also make it now using 1/2 brown rice and half white, but the cooking times are more complicted that way so I will give you the original and you can adapt it to your own preference.

2 medium carrots, julienned**
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 c. butter
2 1/4 c. water
1 c. rice
1/2 c. raisins
1 T. chicken bouillon powder
1/2 t. curry powder
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. thyme
1/4 c. toasted, slivered almonds

Saute onion in butter until wilted and starting to carmelize a bit.  Add in carrots and saute 1-2 minutes longer. Add rest of ingredients but almonds.  Heat to boiling; cover and simmer on med-lo  heat 15 minutes until rice is cooked and water is absorbed.  Fluff; cover and let sit 5 minutes more.  Sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve immediately.
**If you don't have a mandolin for julienne, just use the largest holes on your box grater to grate the carrots.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Turkey & Pesto Panini with Provolone and Roasted Red Pepper

Here is a great gourmet style sandwich which is impressive when served, but simple to make.  Change it up by using different pesto flavors and changing up the cheeses.  I don't have a panini press, I use my George Forman grill and that works just great.

Turkey Panini with Pesto and Roasted Red Pepper

1 Arnold Sandwich Thin or Foccaccia bread
2 oz. shaved deli turkey
1 slice Provolone cheese
1 T. of your favorite pesto
1/2 of a whole roasted red pepper from a jar (drain between paper towels)
baby spinach leaves

Spread bottom of sandwich thin with pesto, layer on cheese, red pepper, spinach leaves turkey and top of sandwich thin.  Grill on preheated grill about 3-6 minutes until nicely toasted with grill marks and cheese is melted.  This is a great combination that we like real well, but you can change up the sandwich by using roast beef or ham and changing the pesto and the type of cheese.  Try Swiss or Havarti cheese.  I like spinach pesto but you could use basil or cilantro pesto.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Focaccia Bread

This bread goes well served alongside a lasagna or spaghetti dinner or as a snack dipped in marinara sauce or cut into 1 inch x 6 inch "breadsticks" and baked till crisp.  I love to use the leftover bread for panini sandwiches.  Using the bread machine makes this an easy process.

Focaccia Bread

7 1/2 oz. lukewarm water
3 c. bread flour  (I use 2 c. whole wheat +1 c. bread flour)
2 T. dry milk powder
2 1/2 T. sugar
1 t. salt
2 T. ground flaxseed
3 T. olive oil
1 t. dried minced garlic
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried basil
2 t. active dry yeast

Add all ingredients to bread pan in order given.  Select dough cycle.  When dough cycle is done, punch down dough and let rest 10 minutes.  Meanwhile spread a 15 x 10 inch pan liberally with olive oil.  When dough is done resting spread it into oiled pan stretching and gently pulling to make it fit to edges of pan.  Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in warm place about 30 - 45 minutes.  With handle of wooden spoon, make indentations in dough every inch or so.  Brush with olive oil then sprinkle with:
2 T. grated Parmesan cheese
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. garlic salt or garlic powder.

Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes or until nicely browned.  Cut into squares for serving.  Serve warm.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Peach Pork Picante

This is a recipe I got from a friend in our play group years back.  We made a cookbook for a fundraiser and she submitted this recipe to that book.  It is simple and quite delicious.  This is a quick and easy dish to make when you are short on time.  Serve over rice with a vegetable and you are good to go!  It also uses the "other white meat".

Peach Pork Picante

1 pound boneless port, cut in 3/4 inch cubes
2 t. veg. oil
1/3 c. peach preserves or jam
1 T. taco seasoning
8 oz. picante sauce or salsa

Coat pork cubes with taco seasoning.  Preheat a large skillet over med-hi heat.  Add the oil and brown the pork cubes for a couple of minutes, til browned.  Add picante or salsa and preserves, stir to combine.  Cover and simmer on med-lo heat 15-20 minutes.  Serve over rice.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Big Boy Strawberry Pie

Remember the Mark's Big Boy Restaurants?  Maybe they weren't a nationwide chain but we had a few in our area of Wisconsin.  They were owned by Bill Marcus of the Marcus Theaters.  They had the best burgers in town and also great malts and shakes.  Desserts there were fabulous too from what I am told. (I usually don't order dessert out).  This recipe is supposedly the strawberry pie recipe that they made at those restaurants.  It is delicious and I make a few every year during strawberry season and always get asked for the recipe!  This is also great with raspberries and raspberry jello!

BIG BOY Strawberry Pie

1 1/2 c. water
3/4 c. sugar
3 T. cornstarch
Mix these three ingredients together and bring to a boil; cook until thickened.  Add 3 oz. strawberry jello.  Mix well.  Cool slightly.  Meanwhile bake a graham cracker crust 5 min. at 350 degrees.  Set aside to cool.  Layer 4 c. sliced strawberries in the cooled crust.  Pour jello mixture over.  Chill a couple of hours and serve garnished with whipped cream (no cool whip please)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Crustless Asparagus Quiche

Tis the season for asparagus.  Marvelous!!!  Spring is such a hopeful time of year.  With all the blossoms, singing birds, rain showers, green grass, warmer temperatures how can you not feel hope?  Along with all of those niceties comes asparagus.  I love asparagus and for me the season is too short.  The patch in our garden only feeds us for a couple of weeks and that is not at all long enough for me.  Sure I can buy it at the grocery store, but that is not the same as harvesting it from your own yard!  I received an email the other day that touted the benefits of asparagus as a natural remedy against cancer.  Taken daily it claims to get rid of cancer.  According to the article, asparagus is the highest tested food containing glutathione, which is considered one of the body's most potent anticarcinogens and antioxidents.  Whether this is all true or not, I like feeling good about what I eat rather than the guilt that can go along with food.  I really don't need a good reason to eat asparagus.  So with that I leave you with the recipe for:

Crustless Asparagus Quiche

6 oz. lean ham, cubed
3/4 c. asparagus cut in 1" pieces
1 c. shredded Gruyere cheese, or Swiss
pinch nutmeg
8 large eggs,
1/2 c. milk or 1/2 and 1/2.
1/2 t. salt

Spray 9" pie pan with cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Microwave asparagus pieces in 1T. water in covered microwave safe bowl 2 minutes just to soften a bit.  Drain.  Layer the ham, then asparagus, then cheese in bottom of pie plate.  Beat eggs, add milk, salt and dash nutmeg and beat until well combined.  Pour over ingredients in pie pan.  Bake 35-40 minutes until knife inserted into center comes out clear.  Let sit about 10 minutes, cut and serve.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Breakfast Sausage Squares

     The original recipe comes from my mom.  This is one of her recent additions...meaning she didn't make this when we were growing up.  The name she has for it is Egg Squares, but I don't really like that name so I am changing it!  Not that the name I have assigned to it is any better, but I think it gives a better idea as to what is in it.
     I love to do brunches. They can be elegant or informal.  You can entertain early in the day and visit throughout the afternoon or make an early departure and still have time to do other things.  With Mother's Day fast approaching, I have been on the lookout for recipes to make for our Mother's Day brunch.  This is one that I think I will make this year.

Breakfast Sausage Squares

1 package sausages, cut in 1/2 inch slices
9 beaten eggs
3 c. milk
3 slices of white bread, cubed
1 1/2 c. grated Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 t. salt
onion flakes to taste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Butter 9x 12 pan and set aside.  Brown sausage slices and drain.  Beat eggs and add remaining ingredients.  Mix well.  Pour into buttered pan.  Bake 40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Winter Fruit Salad

This fruit salad is perfect for this time of year when we are waiting for the summer fruits to ripen and become fully flavored.  I got this recipe from my dear friend Laurel and have made it many times over the years.  My mother-in-law always requests it for Christmas brunch.  I maybe should have posted this recipe this winter as it is a winter staple recipe when a fruit salad is needed and all that is available that tastes good are bananas, apples and canned fruit.  It uses all of the above.

Winter Fruit Salad
 1/2 c. sugar
2 T. cornstarch
1 c. orange juice
1 T. lemon juice
20 oz. can pineapple chunks, drained
8oz.can mandarin oranges, drained
2 c. diced apples, I use red delicious
1/4 c. marachino cherries, drained
2 large bananas, sliced

In a serving bowl, whisk the sugar and cornstarch to mix.  Whisk in the orange and lemon juices.  Microwave on high 2 minutes, whisk and microwave 1-2 minutes more or until thickened.  Set aside to cool.  Meanwhile, open the mandarin oranges and pineapple and drain in sieve until orange juice mixture is cool.  When oj mixture is cool, cut in apples and add pineapple, cherries and mandarin oranges.  Chill a couple hours and when ready to serve cut in bananas, stirring to combine well.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mini Cheesecakes

We went to a potluck on Saturday night.  It was to raise funds for some teacher friends who are adopting a little orphaned girl from China with downs syndrome.  There was a silent auction, cash bar and potluck.  We had a great time bidding on the multitude of items people donated.  There were many homemade items auctioned such as whole wheat bread, white bread, coconut pecan pie, canned goods like pickles, asparagus, salsa etc.  The potluck also had many great items to sample.  How is it that when you go to a potluck it seems that everyone takes something different?  It is like everyone was assigned what specifically they are to bring.  Yet that is not the case.  We are all left to bring whatever we want, yet there are never too many duplicates.  There is always a great variety of items and many new dishes to try.  I hadn't made these little cheesecakes in a while so I took these.  They always disappear quickly.

Mini Cheesecakes

10 vanilla wafers
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 t. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line 10 muffin cups with foil cupcake liners.  Put 1 vanilla wafer in each cup.  Beat softened cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla.  Beat until smooth. Fill cups 1/2 full.  This should make about 10.  Bake @350 for 15 -20 minutes.  Cool.  Top with either cherry, blueberry, or strawberry pie filling or with caramel ice cream topping and mini chocolate chips or whatever you like with your cheesecake. Chill till serving time.  These are also good made with chopped Snickers bars baked into the batter.   You can also add 1 t. lemon zest and 2 t. lemon juice to the cream cheese mixture before baking.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easy Strawberry Sorbet

With strawberry season coming or for some already here, now is the time to stock up on strawberry recipes and ideas.  I love strawberries and can never have enough.  We usually go strawberry picking of course, and come home with loads to make jams, pies, shortcakes etc. and add many to the freezer for winter months to enjoy in a smoothie or to make this wonderfully simple sorbet.  It feels like ice cream to the tongue, creamy and delicious.  It is low in calories and fat free.  It lends itself well for entertaining as it is quite elegant when served in pedestal sundae glasses after a heavier meal where you want a light or cool dessert.

Strawberry Sorbet

2 c. frozen strawberries
2 T. sugar or splenda
2 T. apple juice or grape or whatever you have

Let strawberries sit on counter about 10 minutes to thaw just a bit but not too much.  Put in food processor and with chopping blade, pulse about 10 times.  Add in sugar or splenda (use more or less according to taste) and apple juice. Pulse and blend until smooth.  Serve immediately.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Lemon Raspberry Streusel Muffins

These are my all time favorite muffins.  Every time I make them and take them somewhere I get compliments and get asked for the recipe.  My sister-in-law Julie got the recipe from me a few years ago and shared that she uses the base of this recipe and adds other ingredients to make different kinds of muffins.  She made one version for a family brunch that was really good. She omitted the lemon and raspberries and added mandarin oranges and coconut. They were very good.  I think she also made one with crushed pineapple and something else too.   You could use orange zest in place of the lemon etc.  So use your imagination and create your own version.  I will give you the original recipe here and then tell how I alter it to make it "healthier".  These would make a terrific addition to Easter brunch.

Lemon Raspberry Streusel Muffins

2 c. flour (I used 1 1/3 c. whole wheat and 2/3 c. all-purpose)
1/2 c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. soda
1/2 t. salt
8 oz. lemon yogurt (I used vanilla)
1/2 c. oil (I used 1/4 c. oil + 1/4 c. applesauce)
1 t. grated lemon zest
2 eggs
1 c. fresh or frozen raspberries (if using frozen, do not thaw)


1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. flour
2 T. butter

Heat oven to 400 F.  Grease 14-16 muffin cups.  In mixing bowl, beat eggs; add oil (and applesauce) and whisk; next add in lemon zest, yogurt and sugar. Sift all dry ingredients together (I don't sift) and mix well.  Gently stir in raspberries.  Spoon into muffin tins and top with streusel.  Bake 15-20 minutes.  Cool about 5 min. and using knife loosen muffins from tin and lift out. (You don't want to tip them out as they will lose the topping)

For topping:  Mix flour and sugar; cut in butter until 1/2 pea size crumbles and spoon evenly over muffin batter in pans.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Hummus is high in iron and vitamin C, and also has significant amounts of folate and vitamin B6. The chickpeas make it a good source of protein and dietary fiber; the tahini consists mostly of sesame seeds, which are an excellent source of the amino acid methionine, complementing the proteins in the chickpeas. Depending on the recipe, hummus carries varying amounts of monounsaturated fat. Hummus is useful in vegetarian and vegan diets and like other combinations of grains and pulses, when eaten with bread it serves as a complete protein.  This information comes from Wikipedia.  Here is the recipe I use:


3 c. well cooked garbanzo beans (chick peas)
1/2 c. toasted sesame seeds
2 cloves garlic
2 T. lemon juice (fresh is best)
1 1/2 t. ground coriander
1 t. salt
1 t. cumin
1/4 t. cayenne

To toast sesame seeds, put in dry skillet over med heat stirring occasionally till golden.  In food processor pulse the garbanzos till chopped a bit.  Add rest of ingredients and process until smooth, scraping sides of bowl.
Serve as a dip with toasted pita chips, tortilla chips, crackers, veggies etc.
This is also good served in a pita half with lettuce and tomato as a sandwich.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lemony Lemon Cookies

Lemon is a flavor that I associate with spring.  I think the flavor is "springy" as well as the color.  My mother-in-law brings lemons back from Arizona in the spring for us and I always look forward to them. She will be coming home soon bringing back with her those wonderful fruits. This is a recipe that my dear friend Laurel shared with me and one that I always get asked for the recipe.

Lemony Lemon Cookies

1 package lemon cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 c. oil
1 1/2 T. lemon juice
1 c. flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Combine cake mix, eggs, oil and lemon juice in a large bowl.  Beat at low speed with mixer until well blended.  Add coconut.  Shape into 1 inch balls.  Place on parchment lined cookie sheet 1 inch apart.  Bake 5-7 minutes.  The key is not to over bake.  When edges are just starting to brown, remove from oven.  When cooled, frost with lemon glaze if desired.  Many times I make them without the glaze and we like them that way too.


1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 T. lemon juice
Enough watered if needed to make a spreadable glaze.  Do not make it too thin as you want this to stay on cookie.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Strawberry Spinach Salad

It's strawberry season again, finally! Yesterday while grocery shopping I noticed that my grocer had strawberries on sale for $.99 a quart.  Amazing!  They looked really good so we bought 4 quarts.  We will eats lots of them fresh but of course there are many amazing things to do with strawberries.  I like that it is quite fashionable to add fruit to salads these days.  Since we are encouraged to eat more fruits and veggies anyway and green leafy veggies are very high in vital nutrients that we should be eating more of, I will be making this salad alot this spring again.  I just read an article in a diabetes magazine that people should use vinegar in their diets.  Bob Greene (Oprah's trainer for the past 16 years) in the article "encourages everyone to use vinegar, whether or not they have diabetes, because it lowers the glycemic index of a carb-containing meal.  The leading theories:  vinegar reduces starch digestion--so you're actually taking in fewer carbohydates--and it slows the rate at which the stomach empties, leading to a slower, more even trickling of glucose into the bloodstream.  I like to know when I am eating something delicious that it is also good for my body.  This salad has greens and also vinegar as well as healthy strawberries.  Heart healthy nuts can also be added.

Spinach Salad with Strawberries with Raspberry Viniagrette

For each salad I put a large handful of  pre-washed baby spinach into a salad bowl.  I then slice a few strawberries in,  add about 1 T. slivered almonds either toasted or not.  Sometimes I slice in a kiwi too.  Spoon about 2 T. of the viniagrette over each salad.  Fresh raspberries or blueberries can be substituted or use macadamia or hazelnuts etc.

For the Raspberry Viniagrette:

2 T. raspberry vinegar
2 T. olive oil
2 T. raspberry jam

Whisk the ingredients together and serve over salad.  You can also use balsamic vinegar or other flavored vinegars.  Vary the flavor of the jam as well.  This of course tastes best with homemade jam or jelly.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

English Muffin Loaves

Don't you just love English Muffins?  With all the nooks and crannies to hold the butter and jam you slather on?  They are so nice and crunchy when toasted.  Yum.  Well here is a recipe for English Muffins only in a loaf!  It tastes just like the real thing but easier to make.  I say that, yet I have never made individual English muffins.  Why should I  when I have this terrific recipe!?  I got it from a magazine years ago, don't remember which one.

English Muffin Loaves

2 pkgs. Fleischmann's active dry yeast
6 cups unsifted flour
1 T. sugar
2 t. salt
2 cups milk
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 c. water

Combine 3 cups flour, yeast, sugar, salt and soda.  Heat liquids until very warm (120-130degrees F)  Add to dry mixture; beat well.  Stir in rest of flour to make a stiff batter.  Spoon into two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch pans that have been greased and sprinkled with cornmeal.  Sprinkle tops with cornmeal.  Cover; let rise in warm place for 45 min.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes.  Remove from pans immediately and cool.

This is great served with your favorite jam or try my recipe for bread machine jam.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Personal Pan Chicken Pesto Pizzas

I love kitchen gadgets and am always seduced into buying them. Most of the time over the years I have gotten them guilt free by buying them at garage sales. I love garage sales! I can usually justify the purchase of kitchen collectibles reasoning that "it is really cheap entertainment" first of all "shopping" and then putting these finds to good use. Some of the time I use the item once or twice and never get in the habit of using it. Such as the Microwave Waffle Maker. Only 75cents and if I only use it once oh well. Well, I only used it once. And then there is the donut maker...used once and the spaetzel maker...never used. But this little appliance is different. I do use it occasionally. It is good for one person cooking, so if you cook for one this may be a valuable tool in your kitchen. It is the Express, Ready, Set, Go. I am sure you have seen the infomercials. They are seductive...just like the Easy Bake Oven commercials when I was a kid. This I did buy new as I couldn't find any used ones out yet that came with all the accessories which of course I had to have. Here is a recipe that I make in it. You could bake these in the oven and make more than one at a time and they would be just as good. But, I use my little appliance making only one for myself for lunch when I am home alone just to get past the guilt!

Personal Pan Chicken Pesto Pizza

1 gyro bread or pita
2 T. Spinach Pesto
2 T. leftover cooked broccoli
2 T. chopped roasted red pepper
2-3 T. chopped cooked leftover chicken
1 slice provolone or shredded mozzarella

Preheat your Ready Set Go for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, spread pesto on bread; top with broccoli, pepper, chicken and top with cheese.  Spray inside of appliance and set pizza in.  Cover and cook 10-12 minutes until cheese is melted and golden.  If making these in the oven, bake at 350 degrees about 10 minutes.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sweet Salsa Dump Chicken

This is a go to recipe for a quick meal. You can make it ahead and freeze it or bake it right away. I have even made this in the crockpot I got this recipe from Tish on the Recipezaar website. Serve over rice with a veggie on the side. A quick and easy, tasty meal. I only use 1/2 pkg. taco seasoning mix and if I don't have apricot jam I have used peach jam or orange marmalade and it was just as good. Enjoy!

Sweet Salsa Dump Chicken

1 (1 1/4 ounce) package taco seasoning mix (I use only 1/2 pkg.)
8 ounces apricot jam
12 ounces salsa
1 1/2 lbs chicken pieces (4-6 pieces)
1For immediate cooking: Pre-heat oven to 350°F Place all ingredients into a large baking dish, turn chicken to coat.
2Bake until chicken juices run clear (45-60 minutes for chicken pieces, or 20-30 minutes for chicken breasts).
3For freezing: Place all ingredients into a 1 Gallon freezer bag.
4Lay flat in freezer.
5To thaw and cook: Take the bag out of the freezer the night before, make sure the baggie is completely closed.
6Place the Bag on a refrigerator shelf to thaw.
7Preheat the oven to 350°F Empty the contents of the bag into a large baking dish and bake until the juices run clear (45-60 minutes for chicken pieces, or 20-30 minutes for chicken breasts).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Broccoli Oriental

Broccoli is one of those great for you veggies that are of the cruciferous vegetable family along with cabbage and cauliflower.  They are associated with cancer prevention.  We eat broccoli at least once a week and this is one variation.  I think broccoli pears well with oriental flavors and this is no exception!

Broccoli Oriental

2 10 oz. pkgs. frozen broccoli spears (I use fresh)
1 T. butter
1 T. sugar
1 T. soy sauce
2 t. toasted sesame seeds

Cook broccoli according to package directions.  Drain; keep warm
Combine butter, sugar, soy sauce and 1 T. water; heat till butter melts.  Pour over broccoli; top with sesame seeds.

***To toast sesame seeds, sprinkle in skillet on stove top over med. heat.  stirring occasionally until light golden brown.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


My husband and I went to a restaurant several years ago.  It was a restaurant we had never tried before.  We had an entertainment book with buy one meal get the second free.  It was a nice, sort of elegant restaurant and we were excited to try it.  The waiter came with a bread basket and we uncovered the warm contents.  They looked to be little football shaped burnt looking little loaves of bread served with a whipped butter on the side.  Yuk!  Why did we waste our money coming to this restaurant!  We were hungry, so we decided to pick at the bread a bit to tide us over until the meal came.  Hopefully that would be good!  Spread a little of the softened butter on the burnt bread to make it swallowable.  Bite, this ever good.  Not at all like they looked.   Those "burnt looking" little loaves were popovers and they were served with honey butter!  They were delicious and were we ever glad we had tried them!  We ended up eating all 4 of them and enjoyed every bite!  They weren't burnt at all.  I don't remember what the entree we had that night was, but I do remember those little popovers.  I have wanted to make them ever since.  I have seen recipes and have intended on making them, but somehow never did.  Maybe I was afraid.  I don't know why.  Maybe I thought they would be too hard or complicated or that they wouldn't turn out.  I even bought a popover pan at a garage sale that sat here for a few years.  So today, I blew the dust off  of the popover pan and actually made them.  They turned out great!  I even made honey butter to spread on them.  I don't know why I waited so long.  They were very simple and delicious.

Popovers with Honey Butter

1 1/2 t. shortening
2 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1 T. cooking oil
1 c. all purpose flour
1/2 t. salt

Grease popover pan or six 6-ounce custard cups with 1/4 t. of the shortening for each cup.  Place custard cups or popover pan on 15x 10 inch baking pan or baking sheet and place in oven; preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Meanwhile, in a 4-cup liquid measure or mixing bowl combine eggs, milk, and oil.  Add flour and salt.  Beat with electric mixer until smooth.  Remove pan from oven.  Fill hot custard cups or popover pan half full.  Return to oven.  Bake 450 degrees for 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees 15 to 20 minutes more or until very firm.  (If popovers brown too quickly, turn oven off and finish baking in the cooling oven till very firm.)  A few minutes before removing from oven, prick each popover with a fork to let steam escape.  Serve hot.  Makes 6

Honey Butter

1/4 cup softened butter
1 T. honey or to taste

Beat butter and honey together to combine.  Serve with popovers.

***You could also blend butter with say orange marmalade in place of honey to serve with popovers.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Homemade Smart Balance

There is a lot of talk these days about saturated fat and the health risks involved with them.  Butter contains saturated fat.  I however LOVE butter!  I will not give it up.  I grew up on butter.  I don't know of anyone who does not love butter and things made with it. I have always felt it was healthier to eat butter than margarine.  I have been proved right in that thinking (at least for the current moment).  There is also much talk about the health benefits of consuming healthy fats and the benefits you get for your heart with the types of fats contained in olive oil.  I like olive oil too but don't enjoy it as much in certain things as I do butter.  I want health benefits, but also want butter flavor.  I have come up with a solution that satisfies my taste buds as well as benefits my heart.  This is stored in the refrigerator and stays spreadable even when cold.

Homemade Smart Balance

1 stick butter, softened
1/2 c. olive oil

Cream butter with electric mixer; with beaters running, drizzle in olive oil.  Beat until well blended.  Remove to
covered container and store in refrigerator.

Use as you would butter.  Use on vegetables, toast, fish anywhere you would spread butter.  I have never used this for baking so I can't guarantee the results in say cookies, but it has worked fine in cakes or biscuits and things like that.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Kathleen's Crunchy Granola

Preheat oven to 275I try to make healthy recipes most of the time.  I choose ingredients that have known health benefits to compose my meals.  Oats are known to lower cholesterol as well as being high in soluble fiber which is beneficial in many ways.  Granola therefore is quite a healthy breakfast or snack if you do not add too much fat or sugar to it.  This has no added fat other than that naturally occurring in the oats and nuts if you add them. Sugar on the other hand is a little high in this recipe, but if you would usually add sugar to your cereal or snack anyway, this may be a healthier alternative than something else you might choose.  The recipe comes from a cookbook by Kathleen Daelmans.  I usually don't add the dried fruit as I like it best with out.  Hickory nuts are the best in this, but if you don't have them, pecans or walnuts are good too.

Kathleen's Crunchy Granola

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 c. water
4 t. pure vanilla
1 t. salt
8 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1-2 c. chopped nuts (hickory, pecans, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts etc.or combination)
dried fruit, optional  (raisins, dried cherries, cranberries etc.)

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Combine sugar and water in 4 c. glass bowl or cup.  Microwave on high for 5 minutes.  Add salt and vanilla.  Pour over oats and nuts.  Bake on two parchment lined jellyroll pans for 45-60 minutes stirring every 15 minutes until lightly browned.  If using fruit, add when it comes out of the oven.
Cool thoroughly and store in airtight container.  I usually store in gallon-sized ziploc bag in freezer.  Eat with milk or yogurt or just the way it is!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Easy Gyros at Home

I remember the first time I had a gyro.  It was at a food fair with my Mom and I was in my young twenties.  It was a love affair from the start!  Back then (about 30 years ago) they weren't quite as easy to find, at least in our area.  It was always a treat when we would find a restaurant that actually served them.  Now Greek restaurants are more widespread and we have a few in our area.  We still love to go out for the occasional gyro, but I have found a recipe where I can actually make them at home.  I have combined three different recipes that I came upon to make my own version.  Here it is.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.  It is also a quite easy recipe.

1 medium onion, finely chopped or shredded
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
2 T. dried oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt I don’t usually use quite this much, so use your judgment
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Process the onion in a food processor for 10 to 15 seconds and turn out into the center of a tea towel. Gather up the ends of the towel and squeeze until almost all of the juice is removed. Discard juice.
Return the onion to the food processor and add the meat, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper and process until it is a fine paste, approximately 1 minute. Stop the processor as needed to scrape down sides of bowl.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Place the mixture into a loaf pan, making sure to press into the sides of the pan. Place the loaf pan into a water bath and bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the mixture reaches 165 to 170 degrees F. Remove from the oven and drain off any fat. Place the loaf pan on a cooling rack and place a brick wrapped in aluminum foil directly on the surface of the meat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees F. Slice and serve on pita bread with tzatziki sauce, chopped onion, shredded iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and feta cheese.

Tzatziki Sauce

1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt or low fat sour cream
1/4 cup cucumber, grated
1/4 teaspoon dill weed
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

Stir together the above ingredients and let sit 30 minutes or so to blend flavors.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bread Machine Peach Jam

Jam is usually one of those seasonal things made only during the fruit harvest.  If you don't set yourself up by making lots during the summer you may have to resort to store bought varieties in the middle of winter which pale by comparison to the homemade varieties.  I love gadgets and have had a bread machine for several years. I had been using it to make homemade breads, of course, cinnamon rolls, foccaccia bread, homemade sandwich buns and the like for many years.  One day my old bread machine gave out and I needed to get another.  There were several varieties now.  Bread machines had come along way since the first ones that came out, and the price went down considerably from the first one I invested in.  As I shopped, I noticed the different cycles that the new ones had and thought to myself, I don't need all these features...jam cycle, quick bread cycle, cake cycle.  I will never use these cycles, but the price was right and even though I would never use these other features, well the machine came with them so I guess I just had to take them along with it.  A few years went by and I ignored these special features.  I am not sure how I came to pay attention to the fact that I could use these other features, it just happened.  I think it was the fact that I had lots, I mean lots of cherries in the freezer from our tree in the back yard.  I love cherry jam and just thought to use the machine to make the jam instead of standing, cooking and stirring at the stove.  Am I ever glad I did!  It has been a couple of years now and I make jam in it all the time.  There are many varieties to be made in it.  Here is one that I use frequently...the basic recipe:  Play around with fruit combinations to see what you like.

Peach or Cherry Bread Machine Jam

1 cup sugar
1 T. low-sugar fruit pectin (Sure-Jell)
2 c. thawed frozen peaches or cherries
2 t. lemon juice

Chop the peaches or cherries a bit.  Put in bread machine pan in the order listed.  Select jam cycle.  When jam is complete pour into clean jars.  Let jam stand on counter for 24 hours before refrigerating.  This may be frozen or used within a few weeks.

I have made this with peaches, cherries, cherries/raspberries, cherries/rhubarb, pears, raspberries/peaches.  You can also add ingredients like vanilla or ginger to spice it up a bit or try cinnamon etc.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Baked Tilapia

This is another recipe that my daughter Kiley shared with me.  It is simple yet delicious and makes the house smell wonderful.  The beauty of this is that if you have not planned ahead or are in a rush you can just use the frozen fillets. I paired this with Crockpot Creamy Ranch New Potatoes.  You can use different varieties of fish with good results, just keep in mind the thickness of the fillets in regards to baking times.  Tilapia is a thinner fillet and baking times are according to that thickness.

Baked Tilapia

16 oz. tilapia fillets
4 T. butter**
2 cloves minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 t. dillweed
1/8 t. paprika

Spray 13 x 9 inch pan with cooking spray.  In microwave safe dish melt butter and add the seasoning ingredients.  Lay fish in pan and top with butter mixture.  Bake 350 degrees 12-15 minutes.   If frozen bake 25 minutes.

To cut calories and fat I used only 2 T. butter. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rhubarb Muffins

I know it isn't rhubarb season but I have a dilemma.  I have leftover whey from my ricotta making that I need to use and I also have some rhubarb in my freezer to use before rhubarb season is upon us again. I thought I would solve these two problems (problems?) by making these yummy muffins.  Rhubarb paired with nutmeg, crunchy nuts...warm from the oven...mmmm.  If you have rhubarb in your freezer, here is a good way to use it. This recipe is also low in fat.  If using frozen rhubarb, do not thaw as it will become mushy.  You can use the whey from the ricotta making in place of the buttermilk or use sour milk.

Rhubarb Muffins

2 1/2 c. flour (I use whole wheat)
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. buttermilk
1 egg
2 T. oil
1 t. vanilla
2 c. diced rhubarb
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

1/2 c. sugar
2 T. butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray 12 muffin cups. In bowl, combine first five ingredients; set aside. Beat egg; add oil and whisk til thickened, whisk in brown sugar, then buttermilk and vanilla.  Stir in dry ingredients, then rhubarb and nuts.  Spoon into muffin pan.  In small bowl cut butter into 1/2 c. sugar and sprinkle over each muffin.  Bake 20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spinach Pesto

Last week I found a recipe for homemade ricotta as I was surfing the net.  I had never heard of making ricotta at home before but I used to make yogurt all the time.  After looking at the recipe I decided it looked easy enough.  I would definitely have to try it.  I used 1% milk as I wanted a lower fat version and it turned out great.  It was delicious!   I had just happened to watch a show on Food Network a day or two before that used ricotta in the recipe and decided to pear up the two and make the dish with the homemade ricotta.  The recipe on Food Network was by Sunny Anderson called Ricotta Ravioli with Spinach Pesto.  You can check it out if you desire.  I made the ricotta one day and the next used it to make the ravioli.  I did make some changes to the ravioli filling that I thought we would like better.  I kept out the lemon zest and added some of the pesto to the filling to add in some flavor.  I thought the ravioli were quite time consuming even though I used wonton wrappers which did save some time. But it was very good.  Like a restaurant meal if I must say so myself.  I was impressed.   I also changed the pesto just a bit, and have decided to post this part of the recipe as it was my favorite part.  It could be used on pasta, fish, chicken as a spread on toasted baguette slices etc.   Here is my version:

Spinach Pesto

·         4 cups spinach, loosely packed
·         1 clove garlic
·         1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
·         1/2 cup olive oil
1     3/4 cup toasted hickory nuts, toasted

1 lime,  juiced

To make the spinach pesto:

In a food processor, combine remaining 3/4 cup hazelnuts, lime juice, spinach, garlic, parmesan, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste and puree until smooth.

The original recipe called for toasted hazelnuts, but I didn't have any in the house so substituted the hickory nuts, didn't have a lemon so used a lime.

Stuffed French Toast

My kids loved this recipe growing up.  We got the recipe from a children's cookbook that I bought for my daughter Sadie when she was about 10. I had not thought about this in awhile, until my 20 year old son was here with a friend and mentioned how he would have to make this Stuffed French Toast for them one of these days. I have seen versions of it made in restaurants but usually steer away from items that I can easily make at home. This is simple to make but tastes great.  You can pretty easily make your own variation of this, but this is how we like it.  You can use any flavor jam in this, but we think homemade freezer jams taste best in this.  Strawberry is our favorite but cherry or blueberry are great too.  Depends on what you have in the house.

3 beaten eggs
3/4 c. milk
1 t. vanilla
10 slices dry white bread
**8 oz. brick cream cheese, softened
**8 oz. jar strawberry freezer jam
powdered sugar

Beat eggs, milk and vanilla in shallow dish.  Set aside. Spread a couple of tablespoons of cream cheese (to taste) on 5 slices of bread.  Spread a couple of Tablespoons of jam (to taste) over cream cheese. Top with remaining 5 slices of bread.  Heat skillet over medium heat til hot. Dip "sandwiches"  in egg mixture. Swirl a pat of butter around in heated pan and fry sandwiches in butter until browned.  Turn over to brown other side.  Serve topped with additional butter and sprinkle powdered sugar over top.

**You may not use all of the cream cheese or jam.  It depends on how much you use according to your own taste.

Friday, February 26, 2010

No Bake Chocolate Cheesecake

If you love chocolate, cream cheese and Oreos you will absolutely love this cheesecake recipe.  No baking required.  It is quite easy to throw together and you will love it.  It does take some chilling time so plan accordingly.

No Bake Chocolate Cheesecake

1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 3 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter, softened
2 c. frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed
1 8 inch Oreo crust

In small microwave-safe bowl place chocolate chips.  Microwave at HIGH (100)% 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred.  Set aside to cool.  In large mixer bowl beat cream cheese, sugar and butter until smooth.  On low speed blend in melted chocolate.  Fold in whipped topping until blended; spoon cheese mixture into crust.  Cover; chill until firm.  Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate shavings if desired.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tex-Mex Casserole

This is a great potluck dish.  It makes a nice amount and goes fast.  It is always a favorite when I serve it.  Sometimes I add in a can of pinto beans or refried beans into the hamburger mixture. You can use either plain tortilla chips or if you prefer you could use nacho, taco or ranch flavor.  They all work equally well.

Tex-Mex Casserole

2 pounds ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 t. garlic powder
1 10-3/4 oz. can cream of chicken soup
1 10-3/4 oz. can cream or mushroom soup
16 oz. enchilada sauce (hot or mild)
3/4 c. milk
10 oz. bag tortilla chips
8 oz. pkg. shredded cheddar cheese

In skillet, brown beef with onion and garlic powder; drain. Stir in the soups, enchilada sauce and milk. Crush chips and place in bottom of sprayed 13 x 9 inch baking dish.  Spread beef mixture over chips and top with cheese.  Bake in 350 oven for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Top Secret "Shake and Bake" Chicken

My grocery store had bone-in chicken breasts on special this week so I stocked up on them.  This recipe is better made with the bone-in variety than the boneless, skinless.  It just has more flavor.  Serve this up with Easy Rice Pilaf, cooked veggie of choice and a salad and you have yourself a meal.

"Top Secret Shake N Bake Chicken"

2 1/2 # bone-in chicken pieces, (I use breasts)
1/2 c. plus 1T. cornflake crumbs
2 t. all purpose flour
1 t. salt
1/4 to paprika
1/4 t. sugar
scant 1/4 t. garlic powder
scant 1/4 t. onion powder

Combine all ingredients but chicken in a gallon ziploc bag.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Wash and pat dry chicken pieces. Dip chicken in milk and then add to bag.  Shake until coated and remove to foil lined jellyroll pan.  Bake 45 minutes. ( 40 minutes for drumsticks)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Blueberry Oat Muffins

I love muffins for breakfast on weekends.  Its not that I don't like muffins any other day of the week, its just that I have more time on the weekends to whip up a batch.  Sometimes I will make extra to have during the week, but usually they are gone in one day.  This is one of our usuals.  I make this one probably the most of all the other recipes for muffins.  I like the idea of the oats and I make it with whole wheat flour, so I think of it as a healthy recipe.  It is also low in fat which makes it healthier, but you would never know it by the taste.  The buttermilk is the preferred liquid, but if you don't have it on hand you can use regular milk with a teaspoon of vinegar added to it and it will turn out fine.  It is just better made with buttermilk.

Blueberry Oat Muffins

1 c. rolled oats
1 c. + 2 T. buttermilk**
1 beaten egg
1/4 c. canola oil
 3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

Add buttermilk to oats in small bowl.  Set aside for a few minutes to soak.  In medium bowl, beat egg and whisk in oil till thick and lemon colored.  Stir in brown sugar with whisk.  Dump in oat mixture and add all but blueberries.  Mix and stir in blueberries.  Drop spoonfuls into sprayed muffin tins and bake in preheated 400 degree oven 15-20 minutes.  This makes 14 to 16 muffins.  **(If you use regular milk, just use 1 cup)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Easy Rice Pilaf

This is a good side dish to go with chicken.  It is a homemade version of Rice a Roni.  You could also make this with beef stock.  The original recipe came from The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash, but I cut the butter down from 4T to 2 to save on fat and calories.

Easy Rice Pilaf

2 T. butter
1/2 c. thin pasta, such as vermicell, broken into 1/2 inch pieces (I use orzo)
1 c. rice
2 c. chicken stock

     Heat butter; just before it begins to brown, add pasta.  Stir until lightly browned.  Stir in rice and saute for a moment until lightly colored.  Add stock; stir once.  Cover pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a gentle simmer.  Cook until all the liquid is absorbed, 15-20 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Crockpot Sausage and Pea Soup

I hate winter.  The cold, the snow, the shoveling, the achy back (from shoveling), the icy roads the gray skies...etc. It just lasts too long here in Wisconsin.... I love winter... the warm fire in the fireplace, the sweatshirts and sweaters, the comfy quilts, snuggling up with a cup of coffee and a good book, vegging out and watching movies, building snowmen, sledding, coming in from the cold to hot chocolate with marshmallows.  The seasonal grapefruit, oranges, lemons and limes, and of course, soup!  So even though  winter is not my favorite season I can find reasons to love it and be thankful for it.

Crockpot Sausage and Pea Soup

1 1/4 c. dried green peas
1/4 c. pearled barley
1/2 # sliced smoked turkey sausage or kielbasa
1 chopped onion
1 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped carrots
1 c. diced potatoes
3 16 oz. cans beef broth
1/4 t. cracked black pepper
1/8 t. nutmeg

     Add all ingredients in crockpot and cook 6 hours on low.  Serve with a loaf of crusty french bread.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chocolate Mousse

I realize that Valentine's Day was on Sunday and I should have posted this recipe last week in preparation for the holiday, but I often wait til the last minute and don't plan ahead. Who says you can only eat chocolate on Valentine's Day anyway?  I didn't think of it actually until the day itself...  Valentine's Day.  I was thinking what could I make today that uses the traditional Valentine ingredient ... chocolate?  Something that is special yet simple.  Something that I don't make everyday but would love to eat everyday.  This is the recipe that came to mind.  I have served this on occasion to company and was embarrassed when they asked for the recipe and  saw how much effort I did not put into this dessert I had made for them.  I had impressed them with the delicious dessert, and ruined it by letting them know how easy it was.
I got the original recipe from the "Back of the Box  Gourmet" cookbook.

Chocolate Mousse

1 10 oz. pkg. Nestle Toll House Mint-Chocolate Morsels
(I used 1 10oz. pkg. Ande's Creme de Menthe pieces
2 eggs
1 c. scalded milk (I used 2%)
Whipped cream (optional)

In blender container, combine chocolate pieces, eggs and scalded milk.  Cover; blend on high speed 2-3 minutes.  Pour into individual parfait glasses.    Chill the mousses for an hour or two or until set.  Garnish with whipped cream.

*Note-I have used semi-sweet chocolate chips also in this and added 2T. Amaretto or Kaluha to the blender as well.  You could also use white chocolate chips or raspberry flavored etc.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chicken Alfredo Lasagna

My oldest daughter and her husband had us over for dinner the other night.  I must say it was delicious!!!  I am very impressed with her culinary skills as she was never much interested in the kitchen while growing up.  I had always wanted to share my love of cooking with my kids and had wanted them to get as excited about cooking as I always was.  It didn't really happen until they were out on their own.  Now occasionally one or the other might call for a family favorite recipe or to share a new recipe with me.  This is one she came upon on  the Food Network site I believe and made for us the other night.  I can't wait to impress friends with this one!

Chicken Alfredo Lasagna

10 lasagna noodles
16 oz. jar alfredo sauce (lite)
1/4 c. milk
1/2 t. oregano
3 c. chopped cooked chicken
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 chopped red pepper
1 finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
3 c. mozzarella cheese
4 oz. pkg. lite feta cheese
2 c. baby spinach

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a small bowl, mix alfredo sauce, milk and oregano.  Whisk, set aside.
Coarsely chop chicken and artichokes, pepper, onion, mince garlic and add to med. sized bowl.  Add mozzarella and feta cheese.  Stir this up to mix.  In sprayed 13 x 9 pan, spread 2/3 c. alfredo sauce mixture.  Top with 5 uncooked noodles overlapping to fit them in. Layer 1 c. spinach leaves over noodles, top with 1/2 of chicken mixture, sauce.  Repeat layers ending with remaining sauce.  Pour in 1/2 c. water around sides; try not to disturb layers.  Cover with aluminum foil.  Bake 45 minutes.  Remove foil and bake 10-15 minutes longer.  Let sit 10 minutes, cut and serve.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Cowboy Caviar

Super Bowl Sunday is a "big holiday" and we are all looking for easy to serve finger foods that don't require our attention at gametime.  We may need a dish to pass when invited over to watch the game with family or friends or may be having them all over to watch with us.  When I need to bring a dish to pass I often get requests to bring this.  This is a make ahead snack that is delicious, made with healthy ingredients and sure to please.  Serve with Tostitos Scoops which hold it all well.

Cowboy Caviar

2 15 oz. cans black-eyed peas***drained and rinsed
2 cans white shoepeg corn, drained (Green Giant)
15oz. can small diced tomatoes, drained
8 oz. Italian dressing
1 bunch green onions, sliced thin with green part included
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped fine
dash or two of tobasco

Mix all ingredients and chill at least 2 hours or overnight.  If tomato pieces are bigger, cut in half as you want them about the same size as the corn and beans.  In the summer you may use fresh roma tomatoes, 2 or 3.
***I use the Goya brand black-eyed peas as they are cooked without smoked meat.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Southwest Chili Pot

Over the years my friend Janet and I have traded recipes that we discovered to be great and well loved by our families.  They would have us over, she would make something fabulous and I would come home with the recipe.  She is a great cook and has passed many great recipes on to me.  Her mother-in-law is also a fabulous cook and would share recipes with her and she would pass them on to me.  I have many well-loved recipes from them.  This is one of the many and is well suited to Super Bowl entertaining.  Chili is the perfect Super Bowl meal as it can be made ahead, even a day or two.  Then at game time just heat and serve.

Southwest Chili Pot

3 # ground beef
4 c. chopped onions
1 T. garlic powder
4-5 T. chili powder
2 t. cumin
2 quarts tomatoes
6 oz. tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 T. salt
1 t. paprika
1 t. sugar
2 15oz. cans chili beans

Slightly brown ground beef.  Add onions and continue to cook until onions are softened and meat is brown.  Drain; add remaining ingredients except beans and simmer 2-3 hours to blend flavors stirring occasionally. Last half hour or so add the beans. Remove bay leaves at serving time.

 At this point you may serve topped with grated Cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped onions, crushed corn chips or whatever you like or you can serve ladled over cooked macaroni topped with the above condiments.
This recipe freezes well if you want to serve it at a later date.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pizza Burgers

With the Super Bowl coming up, we need to be thinking of some easy recipes that can be made ahead and served at gametime without much extra fuss.  This recipe is a crowd pleaser, can be eaten out of hand and is easy enough to please the cook who doesn't want to miss out on the game due to food prep.  Serve with a veggie platter, chips and pickles and you are good to go.

Gametime Pizza Burgers

1 # ground beef
1 can Spam or luncheon meat
1 small onion, finely diced
15 oz.can pizza sauce
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Grind spam in meat grinder or shred in food processor.  Brown beef and spam with onion.  Drain: cool.  Stir in sauce and cheese.  You can refrigerate at this point or spoon onto hamburger bun halves.  Bake open faced at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Serve.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Coconut Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is the perfect comfort food.  You can either eat it for dessert or sometimes I like it for breakfast.  When we go to the Chinese buffet restaurant, they have rice pudding that tastes a bit coconutty.  I had some leftover coconut milk from the Thai-Style Halibut I made the other night and decided to try using the rest to make this rice pudding.  I think it turned out pretty good.

Coconut Rice Pudding

  • 1/2 c. medium or long grain rice
  • 1 c.  water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 14 oz. can lite coconut milk or 10oz. coconut milk + 4 oz. milk
  • 2T. sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

    1. Bring rice, water and salt to a boil over med-high heat. Turn down heat to low.Simmer covered until water has been absorbed (approximately 15 minutes).
    2. Stir in milk and sugar and cook uncovered over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently--especially towards the end of cooking.
    3. The pudding is done when the rice and milk have amalgamated into a thick porridge-like consistency.
    4. DO NOT OVERCOOK or the pudding will be solid instead of creamy once cooled.
    5. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
    6. Serve either warm or cold.  Sprinkle cinnamon if you like or leave plain.