Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More Apps and Picks

'Tis the season for parties so I am doing another installment of appetizer recipes.  I LOVE to do apps on Sundays while we watch football.  Lots of times, we won't even have a real dinner...we just fill up on little stuff.  I think it's a great way to spend a Sunday and I have found some great new recipes.

This first recipe I got out of a magazine.  It comes from Stacy's Pita Chips and it's so simple and SO good on crackers.  If you click on the hyperlink, you can find it under "Classic Dips."

Classic Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 cup sour cream (I use Light)
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use Light)
1/4 cup cream cheese (I use reduced fat)
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese (I use Parmesan)
1/4 teaspoon garlic gloves, minced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a small baking dish, mix together artichoke hearts, spinach, sour cream, mayo, cream cheese, Romano cheese and garlic.  Cover and bake until hot and bubbly, about 25 minutes.  Serve warm, hot or cool.

My notes:  I serve it hot and I also uncover it for the last 10 minutes of baking.

This next recipe was one I remembered from my childhood and I was excited to find it.  When I made them, it brought me right back to my family's Christmas Eve get togethers.

Spinach-Cheese Balls

1 box (9 oz) frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed to drain
1 cup Original Bisquick® mix
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz)
1 egg                                           
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic salt                                           
1 cup tomato pasta sauce, if desired

Heat oven to 400°F. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. In large bowl, mix all ingredients, except pasta sauce. Shape mixture into 1-inch balls; place on cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from pan. Serve with pasta sauce.

These next two recipes I tried this past weekend after seeing them on an episode of "Down Home With The Neelys"  Oh my God...they were both SOOO good.  On the second one, I have NOT tried the dip yet but I can't wait to!

BBQ Pot Stickers

1/2 pound ground pork

1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Neely's BBQ sauce, plus an additional 1/4 cup
1 teaspoon Neely's BBQ seasoning, recipe follows
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Dash hot sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
25 to 30 small square wonton wrappers
Canola oil, for frying
1 cup chicken stock

In a medium bowl, add the ground pork, green onions, garlic, BBQ sauce, BBQ seasoning, mustard, Worcestershire, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Mix together with a wooden spoon until incorporated

Lay 3 wonton wrappers at a time out on your work surface. Cover the others with a damp paper towel to keep them from drying out. Dip your finger in a small ramekin of water and brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with water. Drop a teaspoon of the filling into the center of the wonton, add a drop of BBQ sauce, approximately a teaspoon, on top of the filling. Bring 2 opposite points together and seal, then bring the next 2 points together and pleat the top, making a little purse. As you go, set the filled dumplings on a sheet tray and cover with another damp paper towel. Repeat until all the filling is used.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add just enough canola oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Once hot, add the dumplings to the pan. Make sure they are not touching or crowded together. Let the dumplings cook, for 2 minutes. Add 1/3 cup of the chicken stock and cover. Reduce the heat to low, and allow the dumplings to finish cooking by steaming, another 2 to 3 minutes. Once done, gently remove the dumplings from the pan.

Repeat with the remaining dumplings. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

Neely BBQ Seasoning:

3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups paprika
3 3/4 tablespoons onion powder

Mix all the ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

Onion Dip:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 Vidalia onions, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Dash hot sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
Shrimp Hushpuppies, for serving, recipe follows

Add the olive oil and butter to a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until caramelized, about 20 to 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove from the heat and allow the onions to cool.

Blend the sour cream, mayonnaise, hot sauce, garlic powder, and chives together in a medium bowl. Add the onions and stir well to blend. Taste for seasonings. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
*Cook's Note: This dip is best made the night before, so the flavors have time to meld.

Shrimp Hushpuppies:

1 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup self-rising flour ( I didn't have any so I Googled a substitute recipe...easy peasy!)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 small onion, grated
1/4 cup chives, chopped
1/2 pound cooked shrimp, cleaned and tails removed, chopped
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Peanut oil, for frying

Preheat oil in a deep-fryer or Dutch oven to 350 degrees F.

Now, I will admit I haven't tried the next recipe  but I plan to make it on Christmas Day.  It looked so good, I just had to share.

White Beans and Rosemary Crostini

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 ounces pancetta, diced
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thickly sliced
Two 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Squeeze of lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Baguette, sliced

Heat a fireplace to medium heat. Adjust the grill racks over the flame and heat a heavy Dutch oven over the rack. Alternatively, heat a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Once hot, add the oil to the saucepan. Add the pancetta and render some of its fat. Add the rosemary and garlic, and saute until fragrant. Stir in the beans, lemon juice and some salt and pepper. Mash the beans with the back of a wooden spoon. Don't mash them all smooth, you want some texture.

Toast the baguette slices. Serve the beans on top of the toasted baguette. Drizzle with olive oil if desired.

If you love apps like I do, definitely give these a try.  I guarantee they'll become staples.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Time For Giving Thanks...And EATING!

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays mainly because of the food.  We always spent that holiday at another family member's house...even after I got married but I longed for the day when I could host my own.  Once we moved away, I figured I would have that chance and we would be able to make some new traditions.  Well, that hasn't quite happened yet.  The first year I did host dinner for my parents.  But last year we spent the week of Thanksgiving at Disney World with Hubby's entire family and we ate dinner at a restaurant (not something I ever care to repeat).  I did make a turkey breast dinner for our immediate family the following weekend.  But this year, I am really looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with some good friends who live a couple hours away.  We will be heading up to their house the day before and I CANNOT wait (neither can my husband and kids).  They love to cook as much as I do so we will all be pitching in.

They will be ordering a turducken which I cannot WAIT to try.  We'll also be frying a turkey which I will supply.  I am going to bake the apple cranberry pie I posted here.  I am also going to make the stuffing.  Now, stuffing has ALWAYS been my favorite part of Thanksgiving.  I made this recipe for the first time the year my parents were here and it was a hit so this has become my staple recipe.  It is SO good.

Raffy's Turkey Sausage and Chestnut Stuffing

1 medium green apple, cored and diced into 1-inch cubes
1 medium red apple, cored and diced into 1-inch cubes
1 medium onion, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons cubed
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 (6-ounce) bag dried cranberries
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage, meat removed from casing
8 ounce jar steamed whole chestnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 pound day old cornbread or bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 cup canned chicken stock
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a medium saute pan add the apples, onion, 1 tablespoon oil and butter cook over a medium low heat for 10 minutes to soften. Add the wine, cranberries, and salt and pepper, simmer for about 5 minutes. Take off the heat and allow the mixture to cool.

In a large saute pan over medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and turkey sausage meat and break up with a wooden spoon and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl toss together the fruit and onion mixture, the sausage, the chestnuts, the cornbread and red pepper flakes. Combine all the ingredients.

Add the chicken stock, and 3/4 cup of the Parmesan. Gently place into an 8 1/2 by 8 1/2- inch glass Pyrex baking dish and top with the remaining Parmesan. Dot with butter. Place in middle rack and bake until top is golden brown, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

My Notes:  I leave out the chestnuts.  I also don't measure the chicken stock...I just add it until the consistency is right.  I also leave off the Parmesan cheese and butter on the top.  The top browns nicely enough without it.  I use ciabatta bread that I leave out to get stale but I think any bread would work.

I will also be supplying the cranberry sauce.  I like whole cranberry sauce and it is SO easy to make, there's no reason to buy it.  When I was a kid, we used to make cranberry relish in elementary school around Thanksgiving.  We make it with oranges and walnuts so I went looking for a similar recipe.  This one brought the memories flooding back.  I've also made it without walnuts and it's just as good.

1 12-ounce bag cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup sugar
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 medium seedless orange, all peel and pith cut away, fruit diced
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Combine first 4 ingredients in medium saucepan; bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook until cranberries are tender and mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in orange pieces and walnuts. Transfer to bowl. Cover and chill until cold, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

We will also be having the Thanksgiving staples such as sauteed spinach with bacon, butternut squash, mashed potatoes, corn bisque and sweet potatoes.

Another good side side that incorporates a green veggie and butternut squash is a salad made with roasted butternut squash and arugula.  I made also made this the year my parents were here and it got rave reviews.  I tweaked it a little so I'll add my notes at the end.

1 (1 1/2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and 3/4-inch) diced
Good olive oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 ounces baby arugula, washed and spun dry
1/2 cup walnuts halves, toasted
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

My Notes:  I used spinach in place of arugula.  I also used goat cheese (chevre) in place of Parmesan.  I just think it goes better with the tangy dressing and the sweet squash and cranberries.

As a last note, another good pie to serve is the caramel apple pie I posted at the same time as the apple cranberry pie (link above).

I hope that as time goes on and I cook more Thanksgiving dinners, I can use it as a chance to try new spins on traditional recipes.  I will be buying an extra turkey to make another turkey dinner for my immediate family so maybe I'll go look for some new recipes.  You know if I find good ones, I'll share them!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

C Is For Cookie And Cookie Is For Me

I thought I would get an early start in the holiday baking posts this year in case anyone has a cookie swap or holiday party to go to.  I've already posted some cookie recipes here but I have lots more thanks to several years of attending a cookie swap back in CT so I thought I would share a few more.

I'm not sure where I got this first one.  My mom used to make these cookies but I can't remember if this is her recipe or if I got it elsewhere.  I quick search of the Web didn't turn up any exactly like this one so if anyone knows where it came from, let me know.  This is also for one of my friends...I was supposed to send her this recipe WEEKS ago (Sorry, Chibi!)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 C butter
1 1/2 C white sugar
1 egg
1 C canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 C AP flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 C semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 C chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg, then stir in the pumpkin and vanilla.  Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon; gradually mix into the creamed mixture.  Stir in the walnuts and chocolate chips.  Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 15 minutes or until light brown,  Cool on wire racks.

This next recipe is a bit nostalgic for me because Hubby and I spent our wedding night at a Double Tree.  I do have to say, the cookies are amazing!

Double Tree Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup rolled oats
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups semi-sweet, chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Grind oats in a food processor or blender until fine. Combine the ground oats with the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Cream together the butter, sugars, vanilla, and lemon juice in another medium bowl with an electric mixer. Add the eggs and mix until smooth. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture and mix until just blended. Add the chocolate chips and nuts to the dough and mix by hand until ingredients are well blended.

NOTE: For the best results, chill the dough overnight in the refrigerator before baking the cookies.

Spoon rounded 1/4 cup portions onto an ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheet. Place the scoops about 2 inches apart. (You will probably only fit 4-6 cookies per sheet at this size) Bake in a 350°F oven for 16-18 minutes or until cookies are light brown around the edges and soft in the middle. Store in a sealed container when cool to keep soft.

This next recipe I got from my sister-in-law.  You could probably use any kind of miniature candy bar you like for this.  I've made them with Milky Ways.

Snickers Surprise Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
24 Snickers miniature candy bars

Preheat oven to 300°F.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, mix together butter, peanut butter, and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and combine thoroughly.  Then mix in flour mixture.

Cover and chill dough 2-3 hours.

To form cookie, scoop a tablespoon of chilled dough and flatten.  Place a miniature Snickers in the center and form the dough into a ball around the Snickers.

Place on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-20 minutes.  Cool cookies on a rack.

Optional: Decorate cookies with powdered sugar or drizzled melted chocolate or both.

Well, that's it for now.  In the next week or so, I'll be putting up some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes so keep an eye out!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Going Meatless (Temporarily)

A lot has been in the news etc. about the benefits of going meatless once a week.  Many people do Meatless Mondays and my family is no exception.  I have a friend who is vegan so she often helps me out with ideas.  She was the one who got me to sign up for a month's worth of emails from Vegetarian Times.  This first recipe came from there and I was surprised at how much my family liked it.  It's great recipe for the summer months.

1 cup French green lentils, rinsed and drained 
1/4 small onion 
2 bay leaves 
1 large shallot, finely chopped (1/4 cup) 
2 Tbs. lemon juice 
1 small cucumber, diced (1 cup) 
2 medium tomatoes, diced (1 cup) 
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint 
1 Tbs. olive oil 
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Place lentils, onion, bay leaves, and 6 cups water in large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 25 to 30 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Drain, remove onion and bay leaves, and cool.

2. Stir together shallot and lemon juice in large bowl. Add lentils, cucumber, tomatoes, mint, and oil; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Chill 1 hour, or overnight. Serve topped with feta.  Serves 4

Frittatas are another thing that I often make for Meatless Monday.  I use this basic recipe and add whatever veggies, cheeses, etc. that I have in the fridge. 

Basic Frittata 

4 eggs 
1/4 cup liquid such as milk, tomato juice, broth 
1/4 tsp.dried thyme leaves or herb of your choice. 
Salt and pepper 
1 cup filling (see below) 
2 tsp. butter or vegetable oil 

Beat eggs, liquid, herb and salt and pepper in medium bowl until blended. Add filling; mix well.

Heat butter in 6 to 8-inch nonstick omelet pan or skillet over medium heat until melted. Pour in egg mixture; cook over low to medium heat until eggs are almost set, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove from heat. Cover and let stand until eggs are completely set and no visible liquid egg remains, 5 to 10 minutes. Cut into wedges. 


Season your frittata with chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil or cilantro. Choose seasonings that complement your filling.

Frittatas taste good cold and travel well - perfect for picnic fare or a take-along lunch.

Make fillings from your favorite foods or from leftovers. Use a combination of meat, seafood or poultry, cheese, vegetables and cooked pasta or grains.

For fewer or more servings: Adjust the filling, liquid, seasonings and pan size proportionally to the number of eggs used. For 2 eggs, use a 6-inch pan; for 6 eggs, an 8-inch pan; for 8 eggs, an 8 to 10-inch pan.

Filling ingredients should be cooked, not raw. Pieces should be cut fairly small and drained well.

Three ways to serve a frittata: Serve wedges right from pan, slide uncut frittata topside-up onto platter, or invert frittata onto platter to show its nicely-browned bottom.

Broiler Method:  Prepare frittata in a pan with an ovenproof handle. (To make handle ovenproof, wrap it completely in aluminum foil.) Cook on stovetop until eggs are almost set. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, bread crumbs or crushed chips. Broil about 6 inches from heat until eggs are completely set and no visible liquid egg remains and cheese is melted or topping is lightly browned.

I don't use the broiler.  I do start it on the stove but then I put it into 350 oven and finish it that way.   I also don't put the cheese on top...I mix it in.

This last recipe isn't actually a main dish but hummus is a vegetarian staple.  Lots of people use it in place of mayo on sandwiches and my kids love to dip veggies in it.  Alton Brown has never steered me wrong and this recipe is no exception. I did cook the chickpeas in the Crockpot but I am sure you can use the same amount of canned beans.  But I do have to say, after cooking them myself, I doubt I'll go back to canned!  

Hummus For Real  

1 pound Slow Cooker Chickpeas, cooled, recipe follows 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 
5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 
1/4 cup water 
1/3 cup tahini, stirred well 
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving 
Powdered sumac, optional

Place the chickpeas, garlic, and kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 15 to 20 seconds. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and process for another 15 to 20 seconds. Add the lemon juice and water. Process for 20 seconds. Add the tahini. Process for 20 seconds, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil.

To serve, transfer the hummus to a bowl and drizzle with additional olive oil and sprinkle with sumac, to taste, if desired.  

Slow Cooker Chickpeas

7 cups water 
1 pound dry chickpeas, sorted and rinsed 
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
Special equipment: a 2 1/2-quart slow cooker

Place the water, chickpeas, and baking soda in a 2 1/2-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on high heat for 4 hours, or on low heat for 8 to 9 hours, or until tender. Drain and serve immediately, or use in desired dish.

I am constantly looking for new recipes for Meatless Mondays so keep your eye out for more!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pass the Snacks

OK, I found this DRAFT of a post I wrote in February 2008...I guess it nver got published so here you go!

One of my favorite snacks is chicken quesadillas. Heck, most of the time we eat them as a meal. Now once again, this is something I usually TOTALLY wing but the last time I made them I did try to take measurements but I will admit, it still may be a little vague.

Chicken Quesadillas

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in to strips (or chunks, whatever you like). You can also use chicken tenderloins
1 pablano pepper (or again, any pepper you like), cut into strips
1 medium onion, sliced
1-2 garlic cloves, just cracked and peeled
1 chipotle in adobo, seeded and finely minced along with maybe 1 tsp. of the adobo
The juice of 1 lime (this may depend how big and juicy your lime is...you want about 2 tbs.)
1/4 C canola oil
Tortillas is whatever size you prefer. I think I use fajita size and I buy whole wheat
Shredded Mexican Cheese
Nonstick cooking spray

Put the chicken, onion, and pepper in a Ziploc bag or shallow dish. Combine the rest of the ingredients and whisk together. Add the marinade to the chicken and veggies at let marinate at least 30 minutes but not more than an hour because of the lime juice.

Saute the chicken and veggies until the chicken is cooked through. I remove the garlic before cooking.

Now how you cook the quesadillas will vary. You can grill them, do them in a frying pan or my preferred method is the Foreman Grill. Oh, you could use a quesadilla maker, if you have one. I did try the skillet method and it was too complicated a messy. So what I go is heat up the Foreman, spray one tortilla with nonstick spray and put it (spray side down) on the bottom. I add some cheese, them some of the chicken and veggies and top with a little more cheese, making sure to get it around the edges to kind of seal it. Then I spray a second tortilla, put it on top and close the grill. They take anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on your grill. You want the tortillas to be browned and crispy. Take it off the grill, cut it into wedges and serve with whatever toppings you like. We like guacamole, pico de gallo and sour cream. My kids LOVE these.

Another family favorite is a dip served in a bread bowl. I got the recipe from my MIL spo I have no idea where it originated. I changed the original recipe so I'll post it the way I make it.

Dill Dip in a Bread Bowl

1 1/2 tbs. Beau Monde seasoning (this is made by Spice Island. If you can't find it, celery salt works great as a substitute)
2 tbs. dried onion flakes
2 tbs. dried dill weed
1 1/2 C sour cream (I use reduced fat)
1/2 C Mayo (again I use reduced fat. The original recipe called for 1 C each of mayo and sour cream but I thought that was too much mayo)
1 round loaf of bread with the center removed and chunks reserved,

Combines the herbs and spices with the sour cream and mayo. Let sit at least an hour in the fridge to combine. Spoon the dip into the hollowed out bowl and serve with the bread chunks for dipping.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Playing Catch Up

I have a small stash of recipes I've been meaning to post but with it being summer vacation and having out of town guests, I haven't been able to get them posted until now.  Hubby will be working from home most days from now on so I am hoping that will free me up to blog more often.

These first two recipes I found in my Publix flyer one week.  Usually their recipes don't appeal to me but both of these sounded good so I gave them a try.  I haven't made the chicken one in a while since I grill most nights right now but the squash one has become a weekly staple since I can find great squash at the weekly farmers market.

Lemon Thyme Chicken With Sautéed Squash Ribbons

Lemon Thyme Chicken

1 3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup white wine
1 (14-oz) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
8–10 whole sprigs fresh thyme
4–6 whole sprigs fresh oregano
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water

Preheat large sauté pan on medium-high 2–3 minutes. Season chicken with salt and pepper (wash hands). Place oil in pan and then add chicken; cook 2–3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.

Stir in lemon juice, wine, broth, thyme, and oregano; cover. Cook and stir 8–10 minutes, turning chicken occasionally, or until 165°F. Remove chicken, thyme, and oregano from pan.

Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; pour into pan and bring to a boil. Cook and stir 2–3 minutes or until thickened. Slice chicken, top with sauce, and serve.

Sautéed Squash Ribbons 

1–2 medium zucchini
2–3 medium yellow squash
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Cut zucchini and squash thinly, using vegetable peeler, down length of squash until reaching seeds. Rotate squash and continue cutting ribbons until only seeds remain.

Preheat large sauté pan on medium-high 2–3 minutes. Place butter in pan and then add garlic; cook and stir 2–3 minutes or until softened.

Add squash ribbons, salt, and pepper; cook and stir 3–4 minutes or just until tender. Serve.

My notes:  Most of the time, I use just zucchini because I think it's easier to peel plus I like it better.  I also use olive oil in place of butter and sometimes I sprinkle parmesan cheese over it at the end.  My kids LOVE this.

This next recipe is another that has become a staple in our house.  My family LOVES risotto but in an effort to eat healthier, I have cut most white products out of our diet.  I tried to make it with brown rice but it took FOREVER.  When I heard about barley risotto, I was skeptical but it actually really good.  In fact, my husband says he likes it even better than the regular stuff now.  This is my basic recipe that I canme up with after researching a few different recipes.  It's easy to add veggies, etc. to it to make it a complete meal if you want.

Basic Barley Risotto

1 cup pearl barley
4 cups of chicken stock (I use the fat free low sodium kind)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 to 2 tbs. olive oil (you know me, I don't measure.)
1/4 to 1/2 cup white wine
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated parmesan
Chopped parsley (optional)

Warm stock to simmering in small saucepan, keep hot over low heat.

In large, heavy bottomed saucepan, olive oil. Add onions and cook until softened.  Add in garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes.
Pour in barley and cook 4-6 minutes, just to allow grains to toast slightly.

Add the wine and stir until all the wine is absorbed.  Add 2 cups of the broth and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the broth is all absorbed.  This takes about 20 minutes.

Add the remaining 2 cups of broth and continue to simmer, no need to stir, until the broth is absorbed and the barley is al dente.  This should take about 35 minutes.

Add in the parsley, if using, and Parmesan just before removing from heat.

This last recipe I got from a friend.  I've searched the Internet for the original recipe but I haven't been able to find it.  If anyone knows where it came from, please let me know.

Crustless Spinach Quiche

1/2 cup reduced fat shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
1 large onion, chopped
8 oz fresh baby spinach
1 Tbsp garlic
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup Egg Beaters
1 1/4 cups fat free 1/2 & 1/2
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Spray 9" glass pie dish (or an 8"x8" glass baking dish) with cooking spray. In large bowl, mix cheeses, onion, spinach, garlic & flour. Sprinkle into baking dish.

Mix together Egg Beaters, 1/2 & 1/2, salt and pepper. Pour liquid mixture over spinach/cheese mixture in baking dish. Make sure to press the spinach and cheese down a bit so the egg covers at least part of it.

Bake @ 375 degrees for 45 minutes or unitl knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

My notes:   I had to cook mine a bit longer than the recipe called for and it was a bit watery.  My suggestion would be to reduce the 1/2 and 1/2 by about a quarter of a cup if you use fresh spinach.  The other alternative it to use thawed, well drained frozen spinach.

Well, that's it for now.  I have a stash of new recipes that I'm oping to try so hopefully I'll be back soon!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Baking Recipes From a Non-Baker - Part 1

I know I have mentioned on here before that I'm not much of a baker.  As I have previously mentioned, I make cookies at the holidays but baking is a bit too precise for me.  That being said, there are a few things that I do bake a few times a year so I thought I would share the recipes here.

The first one is my grandmother's recipe.  She made them all the time when I was growing up, mostly during the summer when it was blueberry season.  I just made some the other day with my daughters.

Grandma Crowley's Blueberry Muffins

1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of butter
3 cups of AP flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup of milk
2 eggs
2 cups of blueberries tossed with a bit of flour

Cream the butter and sugar together.  While that is working, mix the dry ingredients together.  Once the butter and sugar are creamed, add the eggs and the milk and blend well.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated.  Fold in the floured berries.  Pour the batter into greased muffin tins and bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

This makes about 2 dozen muffins when the tins are filled about 2/3 of the way.

This next recipe comes from The Neeleys and I swear it is by far the best corn muffin/bread recipe I have ever used.  I love to make cornbread with chili and this fits the bill.  I just adapted the recipe from muffins to bread.  I bake mine in an 8x8 square pan and start checking it at around 20 minutes.  I'm not sure exactly how long it takes.

Honey Cornbread Muffins

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
Special equipment: paper muffin cups and a 12-cup muffin tin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Into a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the whole milk, eggs, butter, and honey. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.

Place muffin paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin. Evenly divide the cornbread mixture into the papers. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden.

Now, during the holidays, I have been known to make a pie or two and last summer I went on a search for a good blueberry pie.  This first recipe I got from my aunt who makes this pie every Thanksgiving.  When I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner, I made it too.  I have tried to find where it originally came from but haven't been able too.  If anyone knows the origin, please let me know.

Streusel-Topped Apple Cranberry Pie


1 cup of dried, sweetened cranberries
5 cups of thinly sliced apples (My aunt noted she uses Cortland.  I usually use a combo of Granny Smith and another red baking apple...whatever is available)
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbs. flour
One 9 inch ready made or homemade pie crust


3 tbs. flour
3 tbs. sugar
2 tbs. butter, cut into small pieces

My aunt noted she usually doubles the topping ingredients and I have done the same.

Heat oven to 425.  Lay the pie crust in a 9 inch pie pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the filling ingredients and mix well.  Spoon into the crust lined pan,

In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients, cutting the butter in with a pastry cutter ot a fork (I use my fingers).  Continue cutting in until the topping is crumbly.  Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until pie is bubbly and apples are tender. If necessary, you can cover the crust with foil after 15-20 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning.  Serve warm or cool.

My aunt noted that she bakes the pie at 350-375 for about 50 minutes because it would burn at 425 in her oven.  I have done the same because I can usually combine the pie with another dish at those lower temperatures.

I found the next pie online during my blueberry pie search.  I'm typing it as I make it but you can follow the link in the title for other options.

World's Best Blueberry Pie

3 to 4 cups of blueberries, fresh or frozen (without syrup)
7 tbs. corn starch
3 tbs. water
2 tbs. lemon juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
One 9 inch pie crust

Crumb Topping

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup butter or margarine

Combine the sugar, corn starch, cinnamon and allspice in a bowland mix well.  Add the lemon juice and water and stir to combine.

Add the blueberries to the pie crust.  Pour the above mixture evenly over the top of the blueberries.

For the crumb topping, mix the sugar, flour and butter together until crumbly then sprinkle evenly over the tope of the pie.

Bake the pie at 375 for one hour or until crust is golden and the pie is bubbling.

This next pie recipe I got from a friend but eventually found it online.  It calls for pecans on top but I use a crumb topping.

Easy Caramel Apple Pie

10 caramel candies
1/3 c. flour
3 c. Jonathan or Rome apples, chopped
2/3 c. caramel ice cream topping
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 c. pecan pieces
One 9 inch pie crust

Combine the 10 caramel candies, each cut into 4 pieces, and flour, apples, caramel topping, and the lemon juice; mix well. Pour mixture into frozen pie crust and sprinkle with the pecan pieces. Bake at 375 degrees on a preheated baking sheet for 40 to 45 minutes. Do not refrigerate.
This is the crumb topping I use:
Crumb Topping
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, combine the ingredients until the resemble crumbs.
Last but not least is the EASIEST single pie crust you will ever make.  My Neighbor gave me the recipe and I found the following one online that was VERY close.

No Roll Pie Crust

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons milk (my recipe called for 3 tbs. so that's what I use)

In a 9 inch pie plate, sift flour, sugar and salt. make a well in the center and pour in oil and milk. Mix with a fork, then press into the bottom and sides of pie plate.

To bake: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C.) Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. (My recipe says to bake for 15-17 minutes at 375).

The baking instructions are ONLY if you are making a pie with ingredients that do not need to be cooked.  If your making any of the pies above, just follow those baking instructions.

Well, that's it for now.  I have a couple more family recipes I'll share soon.  Happy Baking!

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Off The Top Of My Head

    Every once in a while, I make up a recipe with ingredients I have on hand.  I'm usually inspired by another recipe or something a friend has made.  Some results are great.  Others...not so much.  In yesterday's case, my friend Shannon shared a quinoa salad recipe she had made.  Once I saw the recipe, my wheels started turning.  Hubby has been trying to take healthy lunches to work and a quinoa salad seemed like the perfect solution.  I could make a nice big batch too keep in the fridge and we could both eat it for lunch.  So assessed what I had on hand and this is what I came up with.

    Quinoa Salad with White Beans

    2 cups quinoa
    3 cups water
    1 can white beans (I used great northern but canellini or chick peas would work too)
    2 large tomatoes, chopped
    1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
    1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
    2 cloves of garlic, minced (more or less depending on your preference)
    1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    3/4 cup olive oil
    2 oz. feta
    1/4 cup parsley, chopped
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Cook the quinoa in the water with a bit of salt.  While it's cooking, combine the beans, tomatoes, onion and cucumber in a bowl.  Make a dressing with the garlic, lemon juice and olive oil, whisking to combine.

    When the quinoa is done cooking, remove it from the heat and let it cool a bit.  Once cooled, combine the quinoa with the vegetables in the bowl.  Add the dressing and stir to combine.  Let the salad sit for a bit then season as needed.  At the very end, add the parsley and feta and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    I really liked it but the true test is always hubby and wouldn't you know, he liked it too.  I am sure there are tons of ways you can vary this too.  I can't wait to try some different versions!

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    A Mish-Mash Of Recipes

    Yes, yes, you can all yell at me because of my absence.  I have been lax about updating ALL my blogs and I need to get back into the groove.  I did update my wine blog today so I figured while I was on a roll, I would update this one too.

    The weather here in Florida is in the 80s most days now but when it was cooler, I made a deal with myself to use my Crockpot at least once a week.  I've posted a few of favorite recipes in the past but I have a couple more I would like to add. 

    The first one is from the Skinnytaste blog.  Man, I LOVE that blog.  I had posted a similar recipe before the Super Bowl but this is the one I ended up making.  It's not a Crockpot recipe PER SE, but I'll add my notes about what I did at the end.

    White Bean Turkey Chili

    2 small onions, chopped
    5 garlic cloves
    2 tsp chili powder, to your taste
    1 bay leaf
    1/2 tbsp cumin
    1/2 tbsp oregano
    2 tsp red pepper flakes (to taste)
    3 lbs 99% lean ground turkey
    4 16 oz cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
    2 cups of fat free chicken broth
    1/2 cup of fat free sour cream
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Heat a large heavy bottomed pot over medium flame. When hot, spray oil.  Add onions, garlic, saute about 5 min.
    Add meat and cook, breaking it up until white, about 5 minutes.  Add salt, chili powder, cumin, oregano, red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes.  Add beans , broth, cook uncovered about 10 minutes.

    Lower heat and cover, simmer about 45 minutes mixing occasionally.  Add sour cream and cook 5 more minutes.  Adjust seasoning and salt to taste.

    Top with chopped red onion, chopped fresh cilantro, light sour cream, jalapeños and reduced fat cheddar if desired.

    My notes:  I pretty much halved this recipe.  I just used one 20 oz. package of regular 93/7 ground turkey and halved the rest of the ingredients.  I also added a pablano pepper, used less chicken broth and omitted the sour cream.  I did saute everything together but right before I got to the part where it says to add the beans, I put everything in the Crockpot and cooked in on Low for about 6 hours.  It was SOOO good...I think I may make it again this week!

    I am not sure of the origin of this recipe.  My friend Lana posted in on a message board ages ago and I have made it a few times since.  I did find this one that is similar, but not quite the same.  My family loves it and it's SO easy.

    Crockpot Pot Roast

    2-3 lb chuck roast
    1 can Campbell's tomato soup (I use the low sodium)
    1 large white onion, sliced
    2 handfuls baby carrots
    4-5 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced.
    1or 2 Bay Leaves

    Place the roast at the bottom of the crock pot. Season liberally with the salt, pepper, and thyme. Place the vegetables around the roast, and cover everything with the tomato soup. Season again with the salt, pepper, and thyme. Place the bay leaves on top.

    Cook on low 8-10 hours, until veggies are tender and roast falls apart.

    My notes:  I skip the second seasoning because to me, it's a bit too much.  It sounds so weird but trust me, it's GOOD.

    OK, this is my last Crockpot recipe.  Again, I am sure you can find this around the Internet but I'm posting it as I got it from a message board.

    Creamy Italian Chicken

    4 boneless skinless chicken breast
    1 envelope Italian Dressing (Good Seasons Zesty works well)
    1/4 c water
    1 - 8 oz cream cheese (I use low fat)
    1 can cream of chicken soup (I use low fat, low sodiukm)
    1 - 4 oz can mushroom ( I skip these)

    Place chicken in crock pot. Mix salad dressing and water together. Put over chicken, cover, and cook on low for 3 hours. Add cream cheese, soup, and mushrooms. Stir well and cook one hour on low.

    Serve over rice or noodles.

    OK, my next recipe says it's for the oven but I make it on the grill.. Obviously, with the weather the way it is here in Florida, I grill almost year round here and I much prefer it to heating up the oven.  And, as I've said before, I try to be mindful of what we eat.  I'm not a huge pork fan in general but I do love pork tenderloin and it is very low in fat.  My husband finds it kind of blah, though.  Or at least he did until I tried this recipe.  I have the cookbook it's in but I'll link the title to the Food Network Page.  Just one note, while the recipoe calls for 3 pork tenderloins, I have used the same amount of marinade and only made one although I am sure you could cut back on things.

    Herb-Marinated Pork Tenderloin

    1 lemon, zest grated
    3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 to 6 lemons)
    Good olive oil
    2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
    1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (I've skipped these if I don't have them)
    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    Kosher salt
    3 pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each)
    Freshly ground black pepper

    Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, mustard, and 2 teaspoons salt in a sturdy 1-gallon resealable plastic bag. Add the pork tenderloins and turn to coat with the marinade. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag. Marinate the pork in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours but preferably overnight.

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

    Remove the tenderloins from the marinade and discard the marinade but leave the herbs that cling to the meat. Sprinkle the tenderloins generously with salt and pepper. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large oven-proof saute pan over medium-high heat. Sear the pork tenderloins on all sides until golden brown. Place the saute pan in the oven and roast the tenderloins for 10 to 15 minutes or until the meat registers 137 degrees F at the thickest part. Transfer the tenderloins to a platter and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Carve in 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices. The thickest part of the tenderloin will be quite pink (it's just fine!) and the thinnest part will be well done. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm, or at room temperature with the juices that collect in the platter.

    I have a nagging feeling there was another recipe I wanted to post but I can't for the life of me remember what it was.  I promise that as soon as I remember it, I'll post it.  And I promise to post more often...it gives me the incentive to try new recipes!

    Monday, January 24, 2011

    Super Bowl Eats

    For a long time, I wasn't much of a football fan.  But, after hubby and I got a 50 inch plasma TV, we started watching more.  And now that we live in Florida where we actually have football teams, we started watching it even more.  Now, most Sundays during football season I make some kind of appetizer or two that we have during the games.  And with the Super Bowl coming up, I thought I would share some of my favorites.

    My first recipe is really simple but SOO good.  You soften a block of cream cheese, spread it in an 8x8 pan, top with chili or refried beans and shredded Mexican cheese.  You can either bake it or nuke it until it's hot and bubbly.  I serve it with tortilla chips.  SOOO yummy.

    My next recipe is one I just got on New Year's Eve.  Many people have heard of Texas Caviar but every recipe I've ever found has been a bit complicated.  Someone brought Tennessee Caviar to a party I went to on New Year's Eve and I liked it even better.  It's much simpler and I think it tastes better.  I found several versions online but none that matches this one so I'm not sure of the origin.

    Tennessee Caviar

    3 cans of black-eyed peas, drained but NOT rinsed
    1 C of chopped onions
    1 C chppped green pepper (I don't like green so I use yellow, red, or orange)
    2-3 Chopped, fresh jalapenos
    2 cloved of garlic, minced
    8-12 0z. of Zesty Itlalian dressing (I used Light)

    Mix all the ingredients together and let sit overnight.  Serve with Fritos Scoops or Tostitos scoops.

    Note:  I add chopped cilantro to mine.  I think it makes a great addition.

    Another game time favorite is shrimp cocktail and once I tried Ina Garten's new take on it, I never looked back!

    Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

    For the shrimp:

    2 pounds (12 to 15-count) shrimp
    1 tablespoon good olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    For the sauce:

    1/2 cup chili sauce (recommended: Heinz)
    1/2 cup ketchup
    3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
    2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

    Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place them on a sheet pan with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread them in 1 layer. Roast for 8 to10 minutes, just until pink and firm and cooked through. Set aside to cool.

    For the sauce, combine the chili sauce, ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Serve as a dip with the shrimp.

    Note:  I make my own version of cocktail sauce but hers is good too.

    Another thing I love to make for football is chili.  I don't usually follow a recipe when I make regular red chili but I also like white chili.  I saw this recipe on the Food Network and I ROUGHLY follow it.  It's really good.

    White Bean and Chicken Chili

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 large onion, chopped
    4 garlic cloves, minced
    2 pounds ground chicken
    1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
    2 tablespoons ground cumin
    1 tablespoon fennel seeds
    1 tablespoon dried oregano
    2 teaspoons chili powder
    3 tablespoons flour
    2 (15-ounce cans) cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
    1 bunch (about 1 pound) Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces
    11/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
    4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
    1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    Freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

    In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the ground chicken, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, fennel seeds, oregano, and chili powder. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Stir the flour into the chicken mixture. Add the beans, Swiss chard, corn, and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer, scraping up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer for 55-60 minutes until the liquid has reduced by about half and the chili has thickened. Add the red pepper flakes and simmer for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

    Ladle the chili into serving bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

    Notes:  I use ground turkey instead of chicken.  I also eliminate the corn, Swiss chard and fennel seeds and use shredded Mexican cheeswe and cilantro in polace of parmesan and parsley.  I usually make it ahead of time and then heat it up in the Crockpot on the day of the game.

    So, there you have some of my favorite game time treats.  Enjoy!