Monday, October 26, 2009

Cream of Mushroom Soup

My favorite soups as a kid, Mushroom, Cream of Celery, Bean and Bacon and Vegetarian Vegetable, all Campbell's. I still eat those soups today but now they are homemade. This mushroom soup is tasty and quick, you can have it made in about 30 minutes. If you want to take this soup to the next level top the soup off with a slice or two of Brie.

Cream of Mushroom Soup
Recipe downsized from Diane Phillips

2 tbls. butter
2 shallots, chopped
2 level tbls. flour
1 lb. mixed mushrooms Cremini, Shitake, Button
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup cream
1 tbls. cream sherry
salt and pepper

Melt butter in heavy bottom pot and add shallots. Cook shallots for 2-3 minutes then add mushrooms. Cook mushrooms for about 5 minutes until the juice starts to evaporate, add the flour and cook for 2 minutes stirring constantly. Once the rawness is cooked from the flour add the chicken stock, stir until everything is smooth. Add the cream and sherry and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for just a few minutes making sure everything is incorporated. Serve with a sprinkling of chives and some brie.

This soup is easy to increase, just add another shallot, cup of broth, 1/2 lb of mushrooms and 1 more tbls. sherry.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Boeuf Bourguignon

It's been unseasonably cold here this past week, today the sun actually came out but it was still chilly. Nothing better than a long cooking stew on such a day, by late afternoon the house was smelling really good.

This recipe comes from a French woman I took a cooking class from. I really enjoyed the class, the food was great. The dish she cooked was much chunkier but my stew meat was pre-cut in smallish chunks so I cut everything else to match so it would cook more evenly. This has a great taste, caramelizing the onions and mushrooms separately adds a lot of flavor.

Check out more great recipes at Blessed With Grace.


Boeuf Bourguignon
6 oz. bacon
3 lbs. beef shoulder
2 onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large carrots, sliced
2 tbls. olive oil
2 tbls. flour
2 1/2 cups French Bourgogne red wine (Pinot Noir)
2/3 cups beef stock
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tbls. herbes de Provence (blend of thyme, bay leaves, and rosemary)
Several cups of water
20 pearl onions
1 tbls. olive oil
2 tbls. sugar
3 tbls. water
1/2 lb. white mushrooms, sliced

1. Cut the bacon slices into 1/2" lardons (wide strands) . Cook the bacon in a large heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat until the bacon is cooked through, but not crunchy. Remove the bacon from the pot, and set aside.

2. Cut the beef shoulder into 2" cubes. Brown the beef in batches in the pot, being careful not to crowd. If you should need more oil use the 2 tbls. of olive oil. You want to develop a nice fond on the bottom of the pot but be careful not to burn.

3. After the beef has browned add the onion, carrot and garlic to the pot and saute until lightly browned.

4. Add the beef and bacon back to the pot along with the flour and stir, cooking the flour for just a minute, stirring constantly.

5. Add the wine, stock, salt, pepper and herbes de Provence to the pot and mix well.

6. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 2 1/2 hrs, stirring occasionally and adding water as necessary.

7. Meanwhile, peel the pearl onions and place them in a saute pan with 1 tbls. olive oil, sugar and water. Cook the onions over medium heat for about 5 to 10 minutes until they caramelize and the sugar becomes syrupy. Remove the onions from the pan, and set aside.

8. Add the sliced mushrooms to the same saute pan and cook over medium heat for a few minutes.

9. About 10 minutes before the beef mixture is done simmering add the sauteed onions and mushrooms to the pot.

10. Serve immediately over noodles or potatoes.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Chicken Pomodoro

This is a quick and easy chicken dish. Even though it has a little cream in it, the lemon makes it light and fresh.

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Chicken Pomodoro
4 chicken cutlets, flattened to about 1/4"
2 tbls. Canola oil
1/4 cup vodka
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbls. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
2 tbls. heavy cream
1/3 cup scallions, minced

Heat skillet on med-high heat and add canola oil. Season cutlets with salt and pepper then dust with flour. Saute cutlets until just done, a few minutes on each side. Remove from skillet. Pour off any excess fat from pan and deglaze off heat with vodka. Return pan to flame and cook until vodka is almost gone. Add broth and lemon juice and return cutlets to the pan and cook each side 1 minute. Transfer cutlets to a warm plate. Finish the sauce with tomatoes and cream. Heat through, then pour over the cutlets. Garnish with the minced scallions.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fall Root Vegetable Stew

Fall has finally arrived. The temperature was down in the thirties last night and it was a cold and rainy day. Just the right kind of weather for a good stew and this is a good stew. It has a different taste to it with all the sweet root vegetables. The first time I made this stew I tasted the broth at the beginning when the beef was just starting to cook, I thought I'd made a big mistake and it tasted, kinda harsh. But I continued on, figuring The Little Buddy would eat it, he'll eat almost anything. I'd just have peanut butter toast. After the vegetables were added and everything cooked, it was a whole different stew. All those wonderful sweet root vegetables had cooked together and added a subtle sweetness to cut the harshness of the red wine and all that basil and garlic. The two flavors really work well together balancing each other nicely. This is really a unique taste and a good change of pace from the tomato based stew.
This is great with whole grain bread or rolls.

Check out other great recipes at the Grocery Cart Challenge.


Fall Root Vegetable Stew
1/2 Cup Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper
2 lbs. Stew Meat, cut into 1" cubes
3 tbls. Canola Oil
1 Cup Red Wine
2 Cups Beef Broth
3 tbls. Tomato Paste
2 tbls. Worcestershire Sauce
5 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 tsp. Dried Basil
2 Bay Leaves
1 1/2 lb. Sweet Potatoes, cut into 1" pieces,
1 1/2 lb. Turnips, cut into 1" pieces
1 lb. Carrots, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 Cups Frozen Small Pearl Onions
2 cups water (add this as needed)

Combine flour, salt and pepper. Heat dutch oven to med-high heat. While dutch oven is heating cut beef into 1" cubes and dredge in flour mixture. Reserve any leftover flour mixture. When dutch oven is hot add oil. Shake off excess flour from beef and brown in dutch oven until browned on all sides, you may have to do this in a few batches. When beef is browned add wine, beef broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, basil and bay leaves to the pot with the beef. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hr. This will depend on the type of beef you use. When the beef is almost tender add the carrots and onions, cook for about 15 minutes. You may have to add some of the water at this point. Next add the turnips and cook until carrots and turnips are almost tender, about 30 minutes, then toss the sweet potatoes with the remaining flour mixture and add . Cook until sweet potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Make sure to stir every 15 minutes or so because this will stick to the bottom.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Roasted Vegetables

I had a lot of pieces of different vegetables left over from this week, red, green, yellow peppers, mushrooms, onion, zucchini and asparagus. So I chopped them up, tossed them with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them, not really having any plan on what to do with them when they were done. I could have just eaten them as is but they needed to turn into supper. I ended up mixing them with orzo and chicken thigh meat, sprinkled on a little fontina cheese and it wasn't bad. Forgot to get a picture of that.

As they were roasting I had so many different ideas, frittata's, gazpacho, omelet, different pasta dishes, definitely some things I want to try. Roasted vegetables are so easy to make and have so much flavor.

What are some of the things you do with roasted vegetables?


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Quick and Easy Chili

I luuuuuv chili. I could eat it every week no matter what the weather. When I was a kid my mom and I often ate at a little restaurant that had the best chili, I have been trying to recreate it with no success. My standard chili recipe is one my Grandpa got off the radio, it's suppose to be the recipe for the chili served at Chasens, the once famous L.A. eatery. I make that quite often, but I still search for that elusive taste from my childhood. I ran across this recipe a few years ago in the Rachael Ray magazine. It's not what I was after but it was good and it can be made quickly and doesn't use a lot of ingredients. I was a little wary of it at first since it called for adding the beans and liquid from the can. I always rinse canned beans, because I thing the packing liquid is kind of... well gross, but I followed the recipe and low and behold the liquid really adds a thickness to the chili that is quite good. I would recommend using a good quality canned bean like Bush's, which is what I normally use, the one time I used a generic brand from Wally World it was noticeably different and not as good.

How does everyone eat their chili? To me it depends on the chili, I can eat it plain or with a combination of crackers, buttered crackers, jalapenos, Frito's, cheese, corn bread and to the Little Buddy's disgust, pickles. Do you have any odd foods you eat with chili?

Check out more great recipes at the Grocery Cart Challenge.


Corn Chip Chili

1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup finely chopped sweet onion
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
One 15-ounce can black beans
One 15-ounce can pinto beans
One 10-ounce can tomatoes with green chilies
Salt and pepper
12 ounces pepper Jack cheese, shredded (optional)
One bag Frito's

In a Dutch oven, cook the beef over medium-high heat. Once beef has lost it's pink color, add the onion, garlic, chili powder and cumin and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add the beans, with their liquid, and the tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 20-30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

If you want to serve with the cheese turn off heat, then top with the cheese, cover and let stand until the cheese melts, 5 to 10 minutes. Place a handful of corn chips in a bowl. Top with the chili and serve.

You can adjust the heat by using different levels of canned tomatoes with green chilies. Other additions that go well are jalapenos either cooked in the chili or sprinkled over the top as a garnish.

The original recipe can be found here. Tex-Mex Corn Chip Chili

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Turkey Bacon Club Salad

Summer means fresh ripe tomatoes and all the things that go with them. I like turkey-bacon clubs but sometimes I don't want all that bread. Also, I'm not overly fond of hard to eat food, clubs aren't really user friendly. A salad is a good alternative. I can have all the goodness of a turkey club in nice neat little bites, no worrying about keeping the sandwich together and stuff shooting out the back because I have to compress it to take a bite. To make this extra good, make homemade croutons, it really makes a difference. I just make simple croutons for this with only a little salt and pepper for seasoning, I don't want to detract from the salad.

For homemade croutons: Cut some Italian bread into 1" cubes. In a skillet over medium-High heat melt enough butter to lightly coat the amount of bread you are using. Once the butter is hot add the bread and toss to coat, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. Cook stirring as needed until the bread is browned. Remove to a plate to cool.

For the Salad: Cook bacon to desired doneness and remove to paper towels to drain, then cut into 1" pieces. Clean and prepare iceberg lettuce, chop tomato, and dice a 1/2" slice of turkey into cubes.

When I make these type of salads I put all the individual components out buffet style. The Little Buddy and I never seem to like the same amounts of things in salads. This way we can make our own and everyone is happy, or you can just toss all together in a big bowl.

I want this to taste like a club so I just make a simple mayonnaise dressing. Take mayonnaise and thin to the proper consistency with half and half or cream, then salt and pepper to your individual taste.

Check out more great recipes at Blessed with Grace for Tempt my Tummy Tuesday and The Grocery Cart Challenge.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Caramelized Pears

I'm back after a little vacation from blogging. We've had a cool stretch this past weekend with lows in the 40's and highs in the 60's. A little tease of fall. It's really gotten me ready for the change in seasons. Fall is my favorite season, The Little Buddy thinks I'm whacked, but I love the colors of everything as they die, leaves rustling, the cool crisp air and the start of the fall rainy season. The food changes to a heartier fare and you go from the berries of summer to apples and pears. The first of the pears haven't really started to show up yet, but I did manage to find a few at the store that would work for the this quick and easy dessert. It only takes a few minutes to make and taste great.

Check out other great recipes at the Grocery Cart Challenge.


Caramelized Pears

4 pears
about 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 water

Cut the pears in half and scoop out the core. Press pears cut side down in the sugar, then place cut side down in a skillet. You want to use a skillet just big enough to fit all the pears. When I make just 1 pear I use a small sauce pan. Cook on medium heat until pears begin to turn brown. 8 minutes or so.

Add 1/2 cup water, cover and simmer until pears are tender, 5 to 10 minutes (depending on ripeness). Add more water if sugar begins to burn. When done remove pears from skillet. If the liquid in the pan is thin, simmer until thickened to a sauce like consistency. If it's thick, add more water.

Serve pears with sauce. This is very good with ice cream or just drizzled with cream.

Monday, August 17, 2009


My friend Rosemary (Hi Rosemary) and I went to see Julie&Julia opening weekend. Other than the very rude older lady that stole my seat, which had my purse in it when I went to the restroom, it was great.

The movie was very good. For me the parts about Julia Child were the most interesting and I wish there had been more of them.

Anyway, after the show we dined at the Olive Garden. For dessert I had the zabaglione with fresh berries and mixed berry sorbet. It was delicious, very light and refreshing. I knew I had to recreate this at home.

Well that was easier said than done. While I did make a good zabaglione, it didn't quite taste like the Olive Gardens. I don't know if the Olive Gardens was made with alcohol or not. Zabaglione is an easy recipe, basically a ratio 1:1:2 of egg yolks, sugar and Marsala wine. There are variations with cream, vanilla and a few other things out there, but the basic recipe is just, egg, sugar and Marsala. It can be eaten warm as a custard, topped with some berries or cold as a topping for berries.

The zabaglione came together very easy and turned out great. I did have a problem with the taste but it was due to my personal dislikes. I don't like the taste of alcohol. I have cooked with Marsala before and haven't had a problem with it, but since this really doesn't come to a boil or even a simmer, there was a greater alcohol taste that I liked. I ended up whipping 3/4 cup of cream and folding it in. That diluted the taste and once eaten with the berries, it was just fine.

This was a great dessert that I'll be whipping up again.

Check out more great recipes for Tempt my Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace.



4 egg yolks
4 tbls. sugar
8 tbls. sweet marsala wine

Place all ingredients in a heat proof bowl and whisk together. Place bowl over a pan with about 3" of water in the bottom, the water should not be touching the bottom of the bowl. Bring water to a heavy simmer while whisking the egg mixture. Whisk egg mixture until it thickens and becomes lighter in color and about triples in size.

When done remove from heat and either pour in bowls and top with a few berries or chill and use as a topping for berries.

If you would like a more mousse like consistency, whip 3/4 to 1 cup cream until it will hold a stiff peak and fold into chilled zabaglione. If you just want to lighten the taste of the zabaglione but don't want it mousse-like, just beat the cream to a soft-medium peak.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sloppy Joes

Yikes, I didn't do a very good job in chopping the celery and onion. I usually like a small dice for this, but last night I hacked stuff up and threw it in.

There are a ton of different Sloppy Joe recipes out there ranging from very tomatoey (is there a recognized spelling for tomatoey) to very sweet. This recipe falls somewhere in the middle. You can adjust the sugar to your own taste, but you do need some to offset the Worcestershire and A1 sauces which give this a great depth of flavor.


Sloppy Joes

2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 celery rib with leaves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1-2/3 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon steak sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Cook beef, onion, celery and green pepper until the meat is no longer pink and the vegetables are tender; drain. Add the rest of the ingredients; mix well. Simmer, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chicken With Broccoli

Chinese again tonight. I love, love, love Chinese. Have I said that before? Probably.

A few years ago I took a cooking class with
Helen Chen and I learned a few things that really make my Chinese food taste more authentic.

1. Slice the meat and then stir in cornstarch and a little sherry. This light coating of cornstarch really makes a difference when you stir-fry the meat. If you've ever went to fry your meat and too much moisture comes out and it ends up stewing instead of frying, this will take care of that. I use cream sherry and it adds just a bit of sweetness.

2. Adding the ginger to the oil with the garlic at the beginning and stir-frying for just a minute or two before adding the meat, really adds a lot more flavor than just adding the ginger during cooking.

3. If at all possible use authentic Chinese ingredients. I'm lucky that I live not too far from a college town with a huge Asian population, so there are several Asian markets. Things are so much cheaper there I get 2-3 times as much for half the price of some items. If there isn't an Asian store near you there are several online sources.

I like this recipe because it is fast and easily adaptable when it comes to quantity.

Chicken with Broccoli

1 head broccoli
1 1/2 lb chicken breast - sliced 1/4" thick
4 cloves garlic - sliced thin
3 tbls soy sauce
1 tbls cornstarch
1 tbls cream sherry
2 quarter size pcs of ginger 1/4" thick
1 tsp sugar

Mix chicken, cornstarch, sherry and sugar and set aside. Separate broccoli into florets. Put a few inches water in the bottom of the wok and add broccoli. Cook broccoli a few minutes until crisp tender, remove from wok and empty water out of wok.

Heat wok on high heat until hot. Add enough canola oil to pan to lightly coat. Add half of garlic and 1 pc ginger to the wok, stirring constantly, when garlic and ginger start to perfume add 1/2 of chicken and cook until just done. Repeat with remaining garlic, ginger and chicken. When the second batch of chicken is done add the chicken and broccoli back to the wok. Add soy sauce and stir to coat and bring back to temperature. If you would like to have a little more sauce you can mix 1 tbls cornstarch with 1/2 cup cold water and add to the wok.

Serve with rice.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

General Tso's Chicken Revisited

If I had to pick a favorite cuisine, it would be hard. Mostly because I'm decision making challenged when it comes to things like this, but Chinese would be battling for 1st.

A few months ago I ran across a recipe for a lighter General Tso's Chicken at Everyday Food. It turned out very well, had a great taste and I loved the lighter breading on the chicken. But I didn't like that it only had pea pods. I needed more veggies.

This time I added broccoli, red pepper and some pineapple. It turned out great, I will be making this again and again.

Check out more great recipes for Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays at Blessed with Grace.


General Tso's Chicken
adapted from Everyday Food

1/4 cup cornstarch
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 or 2 crowns of broccoli, depending on size
1/2 red pepper, cut into strips
8 oz can chunk pineapple, drained but save juice
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated and peeled
3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 large egg whites
salt and ground pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons canola oil

In a large bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water until smooth. Add garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, pineapple and red-pepper flakes; toss to combine, and set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together egg whites, remaining 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken, and toss to coat.

Slice red pepper and separate broccoli into florets, set aside.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Lift half the chicken from egg-white mixture (shaking off excess), and add to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining oil and chicken, and set aside (reserve skillet).

Add soy mixture to skillet, add broccoli and red pepper and any of the pineapple juice to taste if desired. Cover; cook until broccoli is tender crisp and sauce has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet (with any juices); toss to coat. Serve with rice.

This recipe is easy to double.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Easy Coffee Ice Cream

Mmmmm....... Hagen Daz Coffee ice cream, my favorite ice cream. I went to pick up a highly overpriced pint only to see that it wasn't even a pint anymore, needless to say that put my panties in a bunch. I put it right back and decided to make my own.

I remember when my dad would make ice cream back in the day of the crank. When you're small you think it's great and want to turn the crank but they won't let you. When you finally get old enough to turn the crank, that's the last thing you want to do. But by that time you're slave labor and are forced to. We finally went the electric route, but it's such a mess with the rock salt and ice.

Several years ago The Little Buddy found a brand new Donvier at a yard sale for 3.00. Nope I'm not missing a zero, 3 buckaroos, one of his best yard sale finds. This thing is great for the two of us. It makes 1 to 1 1/2 quarts and only takes about 20 minutes, you only have to crank it about 2 turns every 3 minutes. I sat this on my lap while watching Jeopardy and before final Jeopardy I had ice cream.

I lean toward the non custard ice creams. The nice thing about this recipe, you can mix around cream, milk or 1/2 & 1/2 and control the fat content. If you are worried about using raw eggs, just heat the liquid until it's almost to the simmer stage. Temper the eggs with about 1 cup of liquid then add the rest mix well and chill.

Visit the Grocery Cart Challenge for more great recipes.


Coffee Ice Cream

2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup half & half
2 cups cream
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tsp. espresso powder mixed in a small amount of hot water (this can be adjusted according to how strong you want it)
dash of salt

Cream eggs and sugar together until thick and pale yellow. Add remaining ingredients and blend. This can be used immediately or stored in the fridge until ready to use.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Raspberry-Almond Muffins

Fresh berries are one of my favorite things, so when I came into possession of 2 clam shells of huge perfect berries I couldn't resist eating one or two or maybe half. Which left me short for the recipe I had intended to make. I did have enough left to make muffins.

This recipe is sort of an all-purpose muffin recipe that can be changed around for whatever berries you have. It's also good without the streusel topping.

For more great recipes check out Blessed With Grace's - Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays

Raspberry-Almond Muffins
10-12 muffins

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. almond ext.
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup berries

Grease or spray muffins cups and preheat oven to 375 F. Combine all the dry ingredients. Beat egg, milk, extract and oil. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until moistened, don't over mix. Fold in berries until combined. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Top with streusel topping and bake for 20 minutes.

Streusel Topping

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
2 Tbls. margarine

Combine brown sugar and flour, cut in butter until combined and crumbly. Stir in almonds.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Honey-Soy Glazed Chicken Legs

This is a new recipe I tried from Everyday Food. If you like honey with your chicken, this may be for you.

I had a fairly strong honey, so it really stood out and the soy was in the background. It was a very easy recipe, and since I was puttering around in the kitchen, basting them every 10 minutes wasn't a big deal.

I dished up the remaining cooking liquid as a dipping sauce, but it ended up being to sweet, what was on the chicken was plenty. I wonder what it would be like with a little ginger added?

Check out more great recipes at The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap


Honey Soy Gazed Chicken Legs

1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
8 skinless chicken drumsticks (about 3 pounds total)
coarse salt and ground pepper

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line a shallow roasting pan or 9-by-13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, mix together honey, soy sauce, and 1/3 cup water. Add chicken, and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Put chicken and honey mixture in prepared roasting pan.

Bake chicken, basting with juices from edges of pan every 10 minutes, until well browned and registers 165 degrees, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve chicken drizzled with pan juices.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cherry Cream Scones

There's nothing better for breakfast, lunch or just a snack than a scone and a good cup of tea. I'm always looking for baked goods that have a low refined sugar content and scones fit the bill. When I ran across this recipe with only 3 tbls. sugar and cherries, one of my favorite fruits, I knew I had to give them a try.

They came together really well, a very soft and tender dough. I had to resist the urge to knead in too much flour. But I know that scones benefit from a light hand, so I only kneaded enough to bring the dough together and fold in the cherries. The next time I make these I'll be sure to have some turbinado sugar on hand to sprinkle on top.

The texture was moist and not heavy. The flavor was clean, a light hint of almond with the sweet/tart of the cherries. Very good, these will definitely be a keeper.

We ate one round and the other went into the freezer. Mmmm, something to look forward to.

Check out more great recipes at Organizing with Sandy and Our Chaotic Life and Blessed With Grace


I'm not sure where this recipe came from I think it might have been one of the Reiman publications.

Cherry Cream Scones

3/4 cup dried cherries
1 cup boiling water
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 egg, separated
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup half-and-half cream
1-1/2 teaspoons almond extract
Additional sugar

Soak cherries in water for 10 minutes. Drain well. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cream of tartar. Cut in the butter. In a small bowl, combine egg yolk, sour cream, cream and extract. Add to flour mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface; knead gently six to eight times. Knead in cherries. Divide dough in half and shape into balls. Roll each ball into a 6-in. circle. Cut into six wedges. Repeat with remaining ball. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Beat the egg white until foamy; brush tops of scones and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cheesy Chili Mac

I was in the mood for chili, which I can eat year round, but didn't have all the ingredients, but I did have the ingredients for Chili Mac. Chili Mac is a dish that goes back to childhood, only it was a much blander version back then.

I've been seeking the ultimate version of Chili Mac, so this is a work in progress, a tweak here, a tweak there, I think I will up the cumin next time. The version I made last night was quite tasty. This is an adaptation out of the America's Test Kitchen cookbook. I switched beef broth for water and added some peppers and used crushed tomatoes because that's what I had on hand.

This has a little spice to it. You can control the heat level by using green chilies to lighten it up or if you don't want it spicy at all, use green pepper.

Cheesy Chili Mac
adapted from America's Test Kitchen

1 lb ground chuck
1 small-medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small poblano or 1/2 large
1 small jalapeno
1 sweet red pepper
28 oz crushed tomato
2 cups beef broth
1 tbls. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tbls. brown sugar
2 cups dried macaroni
1 rounded cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Cook ground chuck in 12"deep skillet until no longer pink, drain. Add poblano, jalapeno, and red pepper, onion and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook until the peppers soften, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin and cook for a few minutes combining well, do not let burn.

Stir in the beef broth, macaroni, sugar, tomatoes. Cover and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the pasta is tender, about 20 minutes. Add additional water if it becomes to dry.

Salt and pepper to taste. You can then mix the cheese in or sprinkle the cheese on top, cover and let sit off the heat until it melts.

For more tasty recipes check out Gayle at the Grocery Cart Challenge for Recipe Swap Friday.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad, it's a good thing. Sorry, I channel Martha from time to time, I get it from my sister. I love pasta salad in the summer, it's cold, it's crunchy and you get different delicious flavors in every bite. It has multiple personalities, like Cybil.

I can't say I have some great original recipe for Pasta Salad. Up until now it has consisted of boiling pasta, chopping up whatever veggies I have on hand and dumping Wishbone Italian Salad Dressing on it. But I have run across a few tips that have bumped it up a notch.

Pasta is like potatoes in the way that it's very absorbent while hot. If you dress a pasta salad cold, it just won't have as much flavor. I always dress mine while hot, so that the hot pasta soaks up some of the dressing as it cools. But I don't add my veggies until it has cooled down, I want my veggies crisp, so I don't want them to be softened by the hot pasta. I dump my warm pasta in a Ziploc bag with about 1/4-1/2 cup dressing, depends on if I've cooked the whole package of pasta or just 1/2. Then throw that into the fridge to cool. Once cool I transfer it to a bowl add whatever veggies I'm in the mood for. My favorites are tomatoes, cucumbers, red and green peppers, red onions, black olives, broccoli. If you want to make it more of a main dish add some salami, pepperoni and chunked mozzarella. Then add more salad dressing.

The second addition of salad dressing is where I changed it. This time when I added about of 1/4 cup of additional Italian dressing I mixed it with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise and about 1/4 tsp of pepper. It gave it a little creamier texture and made the dressing adhere to the pasta better in my opinion. Since it was only a tablespoon it didn't overpower the Italian dressing.

I even used whole wheat Rotini this time. When I first tasted it after cooking, I'll have to admit my first reaction was gak, yucko, blehck, but I continued on because The Little Buddy said he would eat it. Something has to be pretty bad for him not to eat it. But after everything was put together and it was chilled, Yum. I may have to investigate this whole wheat pasta thing further.

Check out Gayle at The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap for more Recipe ideas

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July,

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Thingies

I made the Pioneer Woman's Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Thingies yesterday. I agree with PW, Major Yum. I liked these much better that the breaded, fried ones found in restaurants. How can you not like something stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon?

These are a keeper.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lighter General Tso's Chicken

I love Chinese food and am always looking for new recipes. I found this in a recent issue of Everyday Food, that it was a lighter version of one of my Chinese buffet favorites was a bonus.

I chunked the chicken and added it to the egg white and corn starch, while the pan was heating. Then I started the rice in the cooker. While the chicken was frying I put together the sauce and it was ready to go when the chicken was done. Everything came together right on time. This is about a 30 minute meal.

The light coating on the chicken was excellent. It was substantial enough to hold the sauce, but it didn't have the flour taste or heaviness of the normal breading. I hate it when I bite into a piece of chicken and instead get a big gob of semi-cooked breading.

The sauce was very flavorful. You could taste all the components, soy, garlic, ginger all in the traditional sweetness expected of General Tso's, finished with a kick from the pepper flakes.

This is definitely a keeper. Next time I think I will substitute some broccoli for some of the pea pods, not much maybe just a crown, and maybe add just a few red pepper strips. I could also replace some of the sugar with some pineapple, and use thighs instead of breast, or maybe I should just leave it alone.....nah.

Since I haven't adapted it yet, the recipe can be found here at Everyday Food.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Mini Java Monkey Muffins, Peach Muffins

I love muffins. I prefer the moist dense muffins as apposed to the light airy cakey muffins, something more substantial. I ran across this recipe for Java Monkey Muffins while checking out My Own Sweet Thyme. This recipe intrigued me as it used coconut milk in place of oil and it only had 3 tablespoons of sugar.

Since the temperature has been in the 90's all week and I didn't feel like firing up the big oven I made mini-muffins in my little convection oven. These turned out well and had great texture. The coconut and the coconut milk added a lot of moisture and texture without imparting a lot of coconut flavor.

After The Little Buddy and I scarfed down the mini-muffins I decided to experiment with the recipe. All I had on hand at the time were some peaches. Using the same recipe only substituting 1 cup of peaches in place of the bananas. For the frosting I exchanged cinnamon for the coffee. They were pretty good, I must admit peaches are not my first or even second choice in muffins.

I think this base recipe has a lot of room for experimentation. I'm going to try apple next. One of my favorites, or maybe pear and candied ginger.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Jalepeno corn

Fresh corn isn't really ready around here until next month, so I picked some up at the store. After shucking, it didn't look as juicy and plump as good corn on the cob should. So I threw a couple of tablespoons of butter in a skillet and added a diced jalapeno and sauteed on low while I cut the corn off of 5 small ears. Toss the corn in the pan with a little salt and pepper to taste and cook on lowish heat for about 5 minutes. You don't want to fry the corn just add some moisture back in with the butter and soften it up a bit. The best way to describe it would probably be al dente. You can add a bit more butter if doesn't look moist enough.

This is really good, the predominant taste is the corn, then the butter and then just enough heat from the jalapeno for a little kick but it doesn't detract from the corn taste.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies

This recipe came in a seasonal Kroger recipe booklet a few years ago. I thought it looked good, stuck it in my recipe box and forgot about it. I have a lot of recipes like that, and I'm sure I'm not the only one out there with a stash of recipes that have never gotten around to being made.

This is my goal now, to make these forgotten recipes. Of course some of them can be weeded out automatically for not meeting my recipes criteria; fresh ingredients, not a lot of ingredients, relatively quick and fairly frugal. I'm sure there will be a few that aren't quick and may have a few more ingredients than I would like, but you have to have a few of those "extra effort" recipes for rainy or cold days when you feel like puttering around in the kitchen.

If you like dark chocolate this is the recipe for you. I loved the texture of this cookie, shiny and crackly on the outside, cakey and fudgy on the inside. They were very fudgy right out of the oven and turned a little more cakey as they cooled. I'm not really a bittersweet chocolate person, they were just a tad to strong for me. I think I will try them again using semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips instead. When they say it's a soft dough they aren't kidding, I had to refrigerate it before I could form it into logs. My eggs were on the large side so that may have been a contributing factor. After a little tweeking to my tastes, I think this will be a keeper.

Ghiradelli Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies
Yield: 24 cookies

12 ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
11 1/2 ounce 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
6 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped walnuts

In double boiler over hot water, melt bittersweet chocolate chips and butter. In large bowl with electric mixer or whisk, beat eggs and sugar until thick; stir into chocolate mixture. In small bowl, stir together flour and baking powder; stir into chocolate mixture. Gently mix in semi-sweet chocolate chips and walnuts. Using a sheet of plastic wrap, form dough into two logs, each 2 inches in diameter and about 12 inches long. As dough will be quite soft, use plastic wrap to hold dough in log shape. Wrap tightly; refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm. (Dough may be frozen; thaw in refrigerator before proceeding with recipe.) Heat oven to 375°F. Unwrap dough; with sharp knife, cut into 3/4-inch slices. Place slices 1 1/2 inches apart on greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until shiny crust forms on top but interior is still soft. Cool on baking sheet; store in airtight tin up to 1 week.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Vegetable Tian

This is a Barefoot Contessa recipe. I like Ina Garten's recipes because they are usually fresh ingredients and not that many. The older I become the less likely I am to make a recipe with a big long list of ingredients. My attention span seems to be shrinking.

The recipe in Barefoot in Paris had enough for a 9 x13 pan. I've downsized to a 9" pie plate. That is still enough to serve 4, I think. I also didn't have any Gruyere, so I substituted Parmesan, which worked fine but next time I want to try it with the Gruyere. But as usual with spur of the moment recipe decisions I was missing an ingredient and didn't want to drive to town for 1 item. When I retire I'm going to find a rockin' retirement home next to a grocery store.

This is a pretty frugal meal, especially now that it's garden season. Even though it has a longer cooking time, the prep is supper easy. The main thing to remember is to get vegetables about the same size in diameter so they will cook evenly and make a nice presentation. If you want to make the original recipe in a 9x13 the recipe can be found online at the Food network site.

Vegetable Tian
adapted from Barefoot in Paris

Good olive oil
1 medium to large yellow onion, cut in half and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium round russet potatoes, unpeeled
1 6-8" zucchini
1 6-8" yellow squash
3 plum tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 scant tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus extra sprigs
2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Brush a 9" pie plate with olive oil. In a medium saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the onions over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Spread the onion mixture on the bottom of the pie plate.

Slice the potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes in 1/4-inch thick slices. Layer them alternately in the dish on top of the onions, fitting them tightly, making only 1 layer. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme leaves, and thyme sprigs and drizzle with 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Uncover the dish, remove the thyme sprigs, sprinkle the cheese on top, and bake for another 30 minutes until browned. Serve warm.

Check out Friday's Recipe sway on the Grocery Cart Challenge

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Simple Ginger Applesauce

We haven't had anything notable this past week. There was a ton of leftover meatballs from a carry-in and I haven't been that hungry, so it was a boring week.

Yesterday I did cook some loin chops with lemon pepper and broccoli. The Little Buddy likes applesauce with pork, really who doesn't like it with pork, it's one of those no fail pairings.

I went to a class a few years ago and the chef made a large pan of smashed applesauce that he cooked in the oven along with a crown roast of pork, it was excellent. I made it once and it was way to much for the two of us. Now I just use a few apples and cook it on the stove, takes a lot less time and doesn't heat up the kitchen. The thing I liked the most about the recipe was the addition of ginger. I had always used cinnamon in applesauce and had never thought of ginger. The ginger goes great with the apples and adds a bit of heat.

When I made this yesterday I did throw in a few pinches of cinnamon to see how it would go with the ginger. It was ok, but both of us preferred it without.

For just the two of us I use:

2 large Granny Smith apples
1 tsp of grated fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp of dry ginger (I prefer the fresh)
2 tsp of brown sugar
1/4 to 1/2 cup water

Core and peel the apples. Quarter the apples and chop each into 3-4 pcs. Place in sauce pan with ginger, sugar and 1/4 cup of water. Cook, covered on low heat stirring a few times, until water is absorbed and apples are soft enough to smash with a spoon. Add more water if it gets to dry before the apples are soft enough. Smash with spoon. This is good served warm or chilled.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

I'm still here

I haven't abandoned the blog, just been sick this past week. I will be back to posting in a day or two.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chungking Pork

I take cooking classes at the kitchen store in the college town about 25 miles away. I like going to the classes for different cuisines. One of the first cooking classes I went to years ago was by Helen Chen who is the daughter of late restaurateur Joyce Chen. Helen, like her mother, has her own line of Asian products, Helen's Asian Kitchen. I have her large wok and it works great.

I really enjoyed her class, not only was I finally able to cook Chinese food that tasted like Chinese food, but I learned a lot about the reason the Chinese eat like they do. Why they don't eat much beef, why they stir-fry and why they don't have ovens. It was most interesting. If you ever have the opportunity to see Helen Chen in person, do it.

I am fortunate that the college close to us has a huge Asian population. So there is a great Asian market close by. This recipe is adapted from Helen's Chen's Chinese Home Cooking. There is a chapter in the beginning that's all about ingredients and gives good recommendations of what brand to buy if you're close to an Asian market. There is quite a difference between the products you buy there and what you get from an American grocery store. The dark soy sauce is thicker and richer, the hoisin sauce is not as sicky sweet. If you don't live near a market, there are sources on the Internet.
I'm just glad my Chinese food tastes better now.

Chungking Pork
adapted from Helen Chen's Chinese Home Cooking

1 lb. pork tenderloin
3 tsp. cream sherry or dry
4 tsp. cornstarch
2 tbls. fermented black beans, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, if you want it a little hotter add some Sriracha hot chili sauce
3 tbls. hoisin sauce
2 tbls. dark soy sauce
4 tbls canola oil
1/2 small head cabbage, about 4 cups cut into 1 1/2" chunks
1 medium red bell pepper cut into 1 1/2" chunks
4 slices unpeeled ginger root, 1 x 1/8" each
3 cloves garlic, sliced

Slice the tenderloin crosswise 1/8" thick. You can freeze briefly to firm up and make it easier to slice. Place in a bowl, stir in sherry and 2 rounded tsp. of cornstarch and mix well so all pork is coated. Set aside. Dissolve remaining cornstarch in 1/3 cup water.

Stir the black beans and crushed red pepper together in a small bowl and set aside. Combine the soy sauce and hoisin sauce in another small bowl and set aside.

Heat 2 tbls. of the oil in a wok or stir-fry pan over high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the cabbage; it should sizzle. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes. Add the peppers and cook for 2 minutes. The cabbage may brown slightly. Remove the vegetables to a plate.

Pour the remaining 2 tbls. oil into the same pan and place over high heat. Add the ginger root and garlic and stir around the pan until they become fragrant and begin to sizzle. Do not brown. Mix the pork up again and add to the pan, stirring briskly, until the meat is no longer pink, about 2 or 3 minutes.

Stir in the black bean mixture, stir around a few times, add the sauce mixture, and stir a few time to mix. Return the vegetables to the pan, stir, then ad the cornstarch slurry, and stir for 30 seconds. Discard the ginger root.

Happy eating,

Saturday, May 30, 2009


We had a pop-up thunderstorm this afternoon which resulted in a nice bright rainbow.
I shot this through the window, but it didn't turn out too bad. It looks like the pot of gold is in the well house. It was hailing so I didn't feel like running out and getting it.

Happy Saturday,

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chocolate Cake - Recipe Swap

Please disregard the big crumb on the left side and the big goober where I dropped the knife on the right. It's a wonder I didn't drop the camera in the cake.

I don't make cake that often because I'm to lazy to make one from scratch and for just the two of us most cakes are just too big. If I do make cake it's usually 1/2 of a boxed cake mix. I ran across this recipe in Rachel Ray's magazine, I liked it for it's size and simplicity. It only takes a few minutes to prepare and you don't even have to dirty the mixer.

This cake has a great fudgy taste and is very rich and moist, since it only uses a little over 1/3 cup flour. I did make a small change by adding the instant espresso powder and using a round cake pan instead of the square one the recipe called for. You can leave out the espresso if you want, but it does make the chocolate pop.

Fudgy Chocolate Cake
adapted from Rachael Ray magazine

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
Preheat the oven to 275°. Butter and flour an 8-inch round baking pan. In a medium saucepan, melt the chocolate chips with the milk, heavy cream and espresso powder over low heat. Add the butter and sugar and stir until smooth. Remove from the heat. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Whisk in the egg and vanilla. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

After cake has cooled pour glaze on top and spread out in a circle letting it run down the sides.

Chocolate Glaze
adapted from Rachael Ray magazine

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate chips with the butter, cream and espresso powder over low heat, stirring, until combined.
For more ideas check out The Grocery Cart Challenge

Mmmm, Mmmmm, chocolicious,


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Italian Sausage Subs

To go along with the fine Broccoli Salad we had Italian Sausage Subs. I haven't decided if this is a strange pairing or not. These are Yummo.

Italian Sausage Subs

1 lb. Sweet Italian Sausage
1 large green pepper, cut in strips
1 large sweet red pepper, cut in strips
1 large onion, cut in strips
3-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1-2 tbls. olive oil
hero rolls
Parmesan cheese
salt to taste

Cook sausage until done, remove from heat. Place oil in skillet, add peppers and onion. Saute until softened. While peppers are cooking slice sausage into coins. When peppers are almost done add garlic and oregano, saute for 1 minute. Add sausage back into the skillet with any juice that accumulated. Cook for 1 minute. Add salt if needed.

Spoon into hero buns and top with Parmesan cheese if desired.


Broccoli Salad

Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. We didn't do anything special for the holiday so to commemorate Memorial Day we ate off disposable plates. I know, I know, how could we be so ecologically irresponsible, but it was a holiday and The Little Buddy deserves a day off from the dishes.

I love Broccoli Salad, but in the past it usually consisted of mixing a little sugar with miracle whip and dumping it on broccoli, bacon and cheese. This time I decided to find a better recipe, the problem is there are 53 trillion recipes for broccoli salad. After reading about a dozen, I took components from different recipes to make mine. The biggest inspiration for the dressing was this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Broccoli Salad

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tbls. cider vinegar
4 packets splenda or about 1 tbs sugar (sugar level is really personal preference)
pinch of salt

4 cups broccoli florets, chopped bite size
1 medium apple, chopped with peel on
8 slices bacon, cooked crispy and chopped
1/2 small red onion, diced
1/2 cup shredded colby jack or cheddar
1 small snack size box of raisins
1/2 cup toasted almonds or pecans (optional)

Mix together the mayo, buttermilk, vinegar and sugar and refrigerate for a couple of hours to chill and let the sugar dissolve. If you use splenda, it dissolves much easier.

After the dressing has chilled mix with the remaining ingredients except bacon. Return salad to the refrigerator to chill. Add bacon and mix right before serving. If you add the bacon earlier it will get soggy.

You can adjust the amounts for the salad ingredients to suit your own taste.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli

This recipe was on the back of a magazine I was reading the other day and the picture looked really good. This is a fairly quick, it can be made in the time it takes to cook the pasta.

The advertisement this recipe was in was for cheese. There was also a coupon, and said cheese was on sale at Kroger so that is what I used. Usually I get my Havarti at the Dairy in our area, it's fresh, it's organic, is yummy. I would use that next time instead of this brand which had a more piquant taste and was so soft I had to put it in the freezer to grate.

I didn't have a red chili pepper and forgot to get one at the store. I substituted 1/2 of a red pepper and about 1 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes. After I cooked the chicken and peppers and broccoli, I deglazed the pan with a little cream sherry(I didn't have any white wine). I couldn't let all that frond go to waste. If you don't want to use sherry, using a little of the pasta cooking liquid would have the same effect. Instead of just topping the dish with the cheese, I used a few ladles of the pasta cooking liquid to thin out the dish and make the cheese melt and the whole dish a little more cohesive. The nice thing about a recipe like this is that it leaves you a lot of room for experimentation.
Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli
1 16 oz. box spaghetti
6 oz Havarti, shredded
4 tbsp. butter
1 lb. chicken breast, sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
3 tbsp. red chili pepper, coarsely chopped
3 small garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 tsp. salt
Slowly melt 2 tbsp. of butter in medium size skillet or frying pan. Add chicken and brown, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from pan. Melt the rest of the butter and add broccoli, chili pepper and garlic: saute approximately 1 minute. Return the meat to the pan and season with salt. Fry for another minute. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Serve chicken and broccoli mixture on pasta and top with shredded cheese. Makes 6 servings.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Potato Salad

I almost didn't post this recipe because I wasn't totally pleased with the finished product. But I did learn some things, so what did I learn.
  • I don't like dill pickles in potato salad
  • The first part of the recipe where the pickle juice and mustard is added to the potatoes had some merit.

This recipe came from Cook's Country on PBS. It starts with cooking peeled and cubed potatoes instead of whole potatoes, this was much faster. After cooking, the potatoes are spread out on a cookie sheet where they are tossed with a mixture of mustard and dill pickle juice, then cooled. The idea behind this is that the hot potatoes will suck up and be flavored by the juice. Then once cooled it will not take as much mayonnaise. All of this proved true, and the recipe came together well, I just don't like dill pickles in potato salad. I am a sweet pickle girl. I think I will try this recipe again but with a little tweeking(sweet pickles), and maybe throw in an extra egg.

Potato Salad

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes , peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
3 tablespoons dill pickle juice , plus 1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickles
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 onion, red (small) , chopped fine
1 rib celery , chopped fine
2 hard-cooked eggs , peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (optional)

1. Place potatoes in large saucepan with cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil over high heat, add 1 teaspoon salt, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Drain potatoes thoroughly, then spread out on rimmed baking sheet. Mix 2 tablespoons pickle juice and mustard together in small bowl, drizzle pickle juice mixture over potatoes, and toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate until cooled, about 30 minutes.
3. Mix remaining tablespoon pickle juice, chopped pickles, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, celery seed, mayonnaise, sour cream, red onion, and celery in large bowl. Toss in cooled potatoes, cover, and refrigerate until well chilled, about 30 minutes. (Salad can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 2 days.) Gently stir in eggs, if using, just before serving.

From the episode: All-American Picnic
Make sure not to overcook the potatoes or the salad will be quite sloppy. Keep the water at a gentle simmer and use the tip of a paring knife to judge the doneness of the potatoes. If the knife inserts easily into the potato pieces, they are done.
Serves 4 to 6.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Fears then and now

I was talking to my friend Sally the other day about a blog post I had read about childhood fears. I started thinking about my fears from childhood versus now.

Sally also shared with me one of hers. It seemed she had a reoccurring nightmare in which Danny Partridge covered her with leeches. To this day she has a dislike of leeches and is leery of red heads.

I don't have anything quite that good.

1. Tornado's - Growing up in South-Western Illinois there was a lot to be afraid of in the spring and summer month's. We had no basement and my mother took the "if we're going to blow away, we're going to blow away" approach. That didn't work so well for me. Luckily my grandpa would come pick me up, take me to his house and sit it the basement and play cards or Yahtzee with me until the storm passed. I loved my grandpa, he was the greatest.

2. Demon Possession - I was 9 when the Exorcist came out. Normally a 9 yr old wouldn't come into contact with the Exorcist. With 3 older sisters and a brother ranging from 10-16 yrs older, I came into contact with many things I probably shouldn't have. I would lay awake at night waiting for my bed to shake and levitate. Living in front of a train switching yard my bed shook any time a train hooked up. I had some rough nights. I would lie in bed and blow out my breath to see if the temperature was dropping in my room. I knew that should I become possessed my mother wouldn't be able to handle it so I became my sister Claudia's shadow. She was tough, she could handle a demon possession. That next summer my dad moved into a new house, a big white house, that to my by then 10 yr old eyes looked just the the Exorcist house. YIKES

3. Sharks - I remember standing in line at the theatre to see Jaws. It was sold out and this was back in the day of large theatre's with balconies, not the piddly cineplex of today. I remember sitting in the dark, duhn duhn duhn duhn duhn duhn, all the gasps when the chic gets pulled under water and the screams when it chowed down on the little boy. My stepsister and I took turns reading the book on the long trip from Illinois to Boston. By the time we arrived the fear of sharks had taken firm hold. First to be tested when my brother took us to Salisbury Beach, there was no way I was getting into the water.

My dad had a vacation place in the mountains on a lake in Maine, I was convinced there was an outlet to the sea and a shark had swam up and was at that moment cruising the lake looking for me. Did I mention we also read When Sharks Attack, lots of sharks moving up tributaries in that book. Of course we were in the corner over by New Hampshire and Canada, that shark had a heckuva swim.

4. Vampires - My sister Claudie gave me Salem's Lot to read. That book scared the crap out of me. Thank God by that time my dad had moved back to Indiana and we didn't go to Maine that year. Because according to Stephen King, Maine is rife with vampires. I wore a cross for 2 years.

5. Nuclear Winter - I don't know why I was scared of this just that I was. Growing up in the 70's the arms race and the USSR was big news on TV and in the movies. I just knew they were going to bomb us and I'd get radiation poisoning, my hair would fall out and I would get pus filled lesions all over. Or I would have to escape the zombie people. Either one a no-win situation. Dawn of the Dead another movie I shouldn't have watched. Zombie people really freak me out.

Looking back it's funny to see how stupid the stuff that used to terrify me really is. Today about the only thing is Death either mine or The Little Buddy's. And a fear of heights that has developed as I've gotten older.

Although I did have a night last week I didn't get much sleep because of the extreme wind we were having during some storms. Sometimes at night when I go to the kitchen for a drink and look out the window into the dark I still expect to see Danny Glick hovering outside. Even though the scare of nuclear war has diminished, Bio-terrorism could probably produce pus filled lesions or zombie people. And when I woke up one morning last year right as the earthquake hit and my king size bed was jiggling around, earthquake wasn't really the first thing I thought of(in Indiana). I knew I was going to start levitating any minute.

Oh well at least I'm not scared of Danny Bonaduce.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pinto Beans

I have a ton (or 4 lbs) of pinto beans to use up, so I made the Pioneer Woman's pinto beans. I had made this a few weeks ago and it was good as is, but I just feel the need to fiddle with things.

I used apple wood smoked bacon and a medium chopped onion and put them in at the beginning of the cooking. The onions will disintegrate during cooking but will add a nice flavor and thickening to the finished dish. I add chopped ham that was left over from a few days ago and a finely diced jalapeno once the beans had started to soften. I think next time I will add 2 jalapenos as 1 didn't add quite enough flavor. Yummy.

I would usually have cornbread with this but I was messing around with a bread recipe from the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes cookbook so we had that.

I would recommend checking out the Pioneer Woman's cooking section she has some great everyday food recipes.

Happy cooking,

Monday, May 11, 2009


What I learned tonight? I should check the picture to see if it's in focus before eating the subject.

I love Fajitas, but I am too lazy to make them the traditional way. This is the lazy man's version.

I had some lean precooked beef cubes in the freezer so that's what I used this time. You could use flank steak or sirloin. I sauteed the peppers and onions on high heat, removing them when the began to char slightly on the edges. Toss about 1 Tbls seasoning per 1 lb of meat and quickly stir-fry at high heat. When they are almost done add the peppers and onions back in and stir. Serve in flour tortillas. I like an Avocado Pico de Gallo with this but didn't have all the ingredients to make it tonight. This is an all purpose fajita rub. I don't remember where I found it.

1 Tbls chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp garlic
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
pinch of cayenne

Store in an air tight container.

Just remember Fajitas don't have to be a pain, you can turn them out in less that 30 minutes.

I'll work on that focus thing.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Taco Soup

I love this soup. It's super easy and quick, you can have it made in 30 minutes. This is a recipe by Frank Farmer.
I didn't have any guacamole today, so I just used the sour cream and added some minced red onion. The taste of this soup can really change according to the type of chili beans and salsa you use. I prefer a smokier taste so I use the On the Border salsa. The heat level can also be changed by using different heat levels of beans and salsa.
Taco Soup
1 cup corn. I usually end up using more that 1 cup
1 can (16 oz) chili beans. I use Bush's Med. heat
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed. I just use the whole can
2 cups beef stock
2 cups salsa. I prefer the On the Border Medium
1 lb. lean ground beef, cooked and drained
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup guacamole
Totilla chips. I like the blue corn tortillas
In a large pot over medium heat, combine corn, chili beans, black beans, stock, and salsa, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and stir in the cooked beef. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until heated through. Stir in cilantro.
In a separate bowl, stir together the sour cream and the guacamole until smooth.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, and top with guacamole mixture. Serve with Tortilla chips.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Welllll. I decided to go all out and get my own domain name. Yeaahhhh. But that has slightly screwed up the site. The comments aren't working like they should and it may take 24-72 hours for everything to work. So if you can't leave a comment at this time please come back and try again at another time.

The address when everything is working will be At this time the blogspot address should still work.