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, mmmm...is 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.