Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
As with many salad recipes, there are endless variations. I've listed some of our favorite ingredients below. We mix and match according to what we have on hand and what seems to look the prettiest. The kids agree that the essential ingredients are bacon (of course), eggs and cheese. And of course, spinach.
6-8 cups fresh spinach, stems removed
1-2 mushrooms, thinly sliced
5-6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
1/3 to 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1-2 carrots, shredded or thinly sliced
1/2 cup mozzarella or cheddar cheese, grated
2-3 hard boiled eggs, sliced
Mix all ingredients except the eggs in a large mixing bowl. You can actually chop up the eggs and mix them in if you like; I think they look great sliced and placed on top. Toss all the ingredients with the dressing (recipe below). Top with the eggs if you chose not to mix them in.
Spinach Salad Dressing
1/2 cup creamy salad dressing (e.g. Miracle
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
Transfer to a serving dish and serve.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
1 large tomato, diced small
1 T. finely chopped onion
1/4 t. ground coriander
1/2 t. salt
1 T. lemon juice
1/8 t. cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy)
Seeds of one pomegranate
Mix all ingredients together. Serve with large Fritos corn chips or Fritos Scoops.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 bottle of cocktail sauce
1 6-ounce can of tiny shirmp
Spread the cream cheese evenly on a plate. I like to leave rather deep fork marks on the cheese so that it makes ridges for the cocktail sauce to settle into. Pour cocktail sauce over the cheese. I often only use about 3/4 of the bottle because I don't want it to be overpowering. Then sprinkle the tiny shrimp over the top. We usually serve this dip with an average sort of cracker such as Town House or Ritz; you don't want to use anything too flavorful or it will clash with the flavor of the dip.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
1 package deli or sandwich sliced ham
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
Green onion stems or chives
Spread a thin coat of cream cheese on each ham slice. Lay the green part of an onion stem (or chive) on the slice. Role the ham slice like a jelly roll or sweet rolls. Chill ham rolls for 1-2 hours, then slice into 3/4 –inch segments.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
This particular appetizer is a favorite with kids. It's also easy enough that our kids can make it. It's probably a stretch to even call it a recipe, but I'll include a recipe for honey mustard dipping sauce just to keep everything on the up and up. Other favorite dipping sauces include barbecue sauce or mandarin sauce. The kids insist that ketchup is also really good with them, but I haven't been able to bring myself to try it.
Pigs in a Blanket
1 package cocktail sausages, such as Little Smokies
2-3 packages pop out crescent rolls
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Open the packages of crescent rolls. Cut each perforated roll into three roughly triangular sections. Wrap a cocktail sausage in each section of roll. Seal it carefully and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-11 minutes or until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and serve them while they're hot!
Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
Mix honey and mustard and serve alongside Pigs in a Blanket
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
While the kids are ranch fiends and will consume incredible quantities of it in almost any form, Bob and I are what you might call ranch snobs. This is our new favorite home made version. We make vats of it (I am not making this up), but have scaled back the quantity to a level more appropriate to the average ranch consumer.
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
3/4 teaspoon granulated onion
Dash white pepper
Combine the above ingredients and mix well. Then add:
6.5 ounces buttermilk (yes, it helps to have a kitchen scale. If you don't have one, use a little over 3/4 cup)
Add these ingredients and mix well:
13 ounces mayonnaise (a little less than 1 1/2 cups)
8 ounces sour cream (one cup)
Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
This sauce has a number of alternate uses. It's great on chicken nuggets for a quick kids meal. Since the recipe makes quite a bit more than we ever eat as a ham sauce in a single meal, we also often make a quick meal a few days later by adding some stir fried chicken, pineapple chunks, green pepper and onions for sweet and sour chicken. It's great served over white or fried rice.
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped green pepper
½ cup crushed pineapple (juice and all)
1 ½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ginger
Dash red cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon corn starch
1/4 cup water
Combine all ingredients except water and cornstarch in a blender and puree until liquified. Transfer to a small saucepan, bring to a boil, then let simmer for 20 minutes. Mix cornstarch with 1/4 cup water and add to the sauce; bring to a boil and cook until it thickens, about five minutes.
Monday, December 7, 2009
I love buttermilk as a beverage, but if you aren't a fan, don't shy away from this pie. It has a mild, custardy taste. It's another recipe that's extremely easy to make, but dresses up well for a party or guests. We prefer it warm, but it can easily be heated in the microwave for a few seconds if your schedule doesn't work out to take it out of the oven just before serving. Then top it with whipped cream and the berries of your choice. Thaw the berries ahead of time so that there's a little juice to drip over the cream.
1 recipe pastry for a 9-inch single crust pie (for my viewpoint on the make vs. buy decision on pie crusts, see here.)
1 ¼ cups white sugar
¼ cup all purpose flour
2 c. buttermilk
1 t. vanilla extract
¼ c. butter
Mix sugar and flour. Add buttermilk, beaten eggs, vanilla. Melt the butter over low heat. Add to buttermilk mixture and mix well. Pour into pie crust and bake at 360 degrees for 80-90 minutes or until brown on top. I know that 80 to 90 minutes sounds like a very long time to cook. Even then, it will probably still jiggle when you take it out. But it will settle into a solid pie. Leave it in until the top starts to brown a little. Then take it out and let it rest awhile before serving.
Also, I've never tried this with soured milk (milk with vinegar or lemon juice added). I've substituted that combination for other recipes that call for buttermilk, but I've always used the real thing for this recipe.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Meatloaf sandwiches are a great use of meatloaf leftovers. Believe it or not, they are better when the meatloaf is cold. I like mine very plain--Miracle Whip or mayonnaise, meatloaf, and classic white bread. Bob, of course has improved upon my original "recipe." Here's his list of preferred ingredients.
2 slices white bread
Miracle Whip or Mayonnaise spread of both slices of bread (he did a taste test between the two today, which I believe was inconclusive)
Enough 1/4-inch sliced meatloaf to cover the bread
1 or 2 slices of dill pickle
1 or 2 slices of cheddar cheese
1 leaf of romaine lettuce (although I'm sure iceberg would also suffice)
Thinly sliced rings of red onion
Here's a photo to illustrate his construction process:
Monday, November 30, 2009
There are a variety of ways to serve it. Bob likes to dress up the meatloaf by putting it on a thick-sliced piece of French bread, grilled with butter and parmesan cheese on it. He then drizzles a little barbecue sauce over the top. At other times, we serve it with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy for true comfort food. It's also a substantial meal on its own with a salad or side of mixed vegetables.
This recipe makes quite a lot. We make it in our industrial-size loaf pan that is roughly equivalent to two standard loaf pans. Our family eats about three quarters of this in one meal. If you're cooking for fewer people, you may want to reduce the recipe. But be sure to make enough so that you have leftovers for meatloaf sandwiches!
Best Ever Meatloaf
3 Tbs. butter
¾ cup onion, finely chopped
¾ cup green onion, finely chopped
½ cup carrots, finely chopped
¼ cup celery, finely chopped
¼ cup red bell pepper, minced
¼ cup green bell pepper, minced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 eggs, well beaten
½ cup ketchup
½ cup half-and-half
2 pounds lean ground beef chuck
12 ounces sausage meat (we like Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage)
¾ cup fine fresh bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet, and add the onion, scallions, carrots, celery, bell peppers and garlic. Cook until the moisture from the vegetables has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
Combine the black pepper, white pepper, cayenne, cumin, nutmeg and eggs in a mixing bowl, and beat well. Add the ketchup and half and half. Blend thoroughly. Add the ground beef, sausage and bread crumbs to the egg mixture. Then add the chilled vegetables and mix thoroughly with your hands.
Place the mixture evenly in a large loaf pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 60 minutes or until brown all the way through. Remove from oven; let rest for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
Friday, November 27, 2009
For several years I have used an alternative coleslaw recipe that was more tangy than this one. The other night I discovered a head of cabbage in the fridge and wondered what I could do with it. I decided to try the Original Pantry recipe. When I asked the kids if they noticed any difference between this coleslaw and our usual coleslaw, one of them responded, "Yes. This one tastes good." So there you have the family editorial on my (apparently former) coleslaw recipe.
This recipe really does taste good, and has a creamy, luxurious feeling to it given that one of the ingredients is, well, cream. It's great as a salad for a picnic, or the perfect complement to barbecue (see my pulled pork recipe, for example). The original recipe calls for cabbage as the only vegetable. I added a bit of carrot because I happened to have a peeled carrot right in front of me, and I also like the color it adds.
Original Pantry Coleslaw
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/3 cup oil
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 head cabbage, finely shredded (I have tried using both a food processor and a salad shooter to achieve the appropriate texture, but they both turn the cabbage into a sort of mush. I've discovered that with a high quality kitchen knife, it's actually faster to just chop it).
1 grated carrot, optional
Blend together mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, and oil. Add garlic and onion powders, mustard, celery salt, pepper, lemon juice, half-and-half, and salt. Stir until smooth.
Pour dressing over cabbage in large bowl and toss until cabbage is well coated.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
A few months ago my friend Amanda sent this recipe, which I've modified slightly and continue to make with never a bad batch. Tonight when I made it to go with Tacos de Machaca, the kids thought it was unusually good. This is a knock off of the rice recipes served at local fresh Mex restaurants like Cafe Rio.
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lime zest
2 ½ cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
Melt butter or margarine in a large saucepan. Saute onion until translucent; add garlic for the last couple of minutes. Add rice and lime zest. Saute rice until it turns opaque. Add the chicken broth mixed with lime juice and bring to a boil. Cover and cook 25-30 minutes on the lowest heat setting until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.
Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro. Place a double layer of paper towel under the lid. Let it sit for five to ten minutes.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Last week, Anna, Jenny and I went to harvest the last of our garden (see more about it here). We dug up tons of carrots and talked the whole time about all the things we could make with them. We all agreed that carrot cake was our first choice (Anna isn't a fan of cooked carrots). I have been using the Betty Crocker recipe, but haven't been all that happy with the results. I went looking around and found this, which I have modified a bit from the original recipe. It's good.
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 cake pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar, and vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans. Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. When it's cooled, top with cream cheese frosting. We tried the recipe below, which wasn't as stiff as our usual recipe. I liked it, though, because it tasted great and was less sweet than my usual version.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cake. Note: This recipe makes enough to frost the cake after it has been removed from the pan. If you put all of this on a cake that is still in the pan, prepare to be sick.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
We've started using a ranch-flavored dressing instead of the traditional layer of mayonnaise (yuck). We like this salad a lot.
Seven (or Eight or Nine) Layer Salad
Layer as many of the following foods as you like, as you have on hand, or as you think will fit in the bowl. We generally use a clear glass bowl for the complete visual effect.
1 head romaine lettuce
2-3 shredded carrots
1 bunch green onion, chopped (red onion works great, too)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
2 diced Roma tomatoes
1 thinly sliced cucumber
2-3 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1/4 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (I like to use the large side of the grater)
We've found lettuce works well as a base, and that peas or eggs work well as the last layer before the dressing. I like to alternate colors, usually alternating green and non-green layers. After the top vegetable layer is in place, spread the dressing (see recipe below) over the top. Then garnish with bacon and cheese.
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 package dry ranch dressing mix (7/8 ounce)
Mix the ingredients thoroughly. Spread over top vegetable layer of the salad.
There are two ways to serve this: you can toss it once it's on the table and everyone has had a chance to see how pretty it is. Or you can serve it by taking a cross section of the salad (rather than taking from the top).
Monday, November 16, 2009
As with many recipes, the possibilities for variations abound. I've found that sharp cheese really does make a difference. But green peppers work just as well as red peppers (although they aren't as festively pretty at Christmas time), and red or yellow onions can easily be substituted for the green onions if you prefer or don't have green onions on hand. And walnuts and pecans work equally well for the nuts on the outside.
Kathy's Cheese Ball
8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Combine cheeses, onions, pepper, granulated garlic and Worchestershire sauce in a large bowl. I find it easiest to do this by hand, wearing a latex glove. When all ingredients are thoroughly mixed, shape the mixture into a ball. Place the chopped nuts on a plate and roll the ball in the nuts until all outside surfaces are covered. Refrigerate until about 30 minutes before serving time; then take it out of the fridge so that it will be soft enough to spread. We've found Wheat Thins to be the cracker to serve with a cheese ball because they're sturdy enough to not crack under the pressure of the cheese and also have a great complementary flavor.
Friday, November 13, 2009
This is now a family favorite. It's a particularly unhealthy dessert (I've actually cut down the fat a bit from the original recipe), so we try to eat it as an occasional treat. For some real indulgence, try warming it up and topping it with a spoonful of whipped cream.
1 cup pitted, chopped dates
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp. soda
Boil water, then pour over dates. Stir in baking soda and let mixture cool.
8 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup chopped nuts (either walnuts or pecans)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix above ingredients well. Add the date mixture to this batter and fold all together. Pour into a greased 9" x 13" pan. Sprinkle with the following:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
8 tablespoons butter, melted
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 - 45 minutes.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The recipe calls for dried cherries. I substituted dried cranberries this time and liked them almost as well as the cherries I've used before. I've never thought of this as a holiday salad before because I've always made it in the summer, but the red and green colors (plus the Christmas music playing in the background) made it seem like a perfect fit for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.
1 1/2 cups sliced celery
1 1/3 cups dried sweet cherries
1 1/3 cups frozen green peas, thawed
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise
1/4 cup plus two talespoons plain low-fat yogurt
4 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Combine celery, cherries, peas and pecans in a large bowl. Mix remaining ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake until well mixed. Pour the dressing over the other ingredients and mix until everything is well coated.
Monday, November 9, 2009
The jars almost always seal on their own if you pour the jelly in when it's very hot. If they happen not to seal, you can process them in a steam bath for about 10 minutes and they should seal with no problem.
1 cup red bell pepper, cut in strips
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1/3 cup fresh quartered jalapeno peppers, seeds removed (or you can leave the seeds in if you like it a little hotter)
5 cups sugar
1 pouch (3 ounce) Certo liquid fruit pectin (the powdered kind doesn't work with this recipe)
Combine peppers and vinegar in a food processor. Process to desired size; I like the pieces a little smaller than 1/4 inch. Combine peppers and vinegar with sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for five minutes. Remove from heat. Cool for two minutes, then mix in pectin. Pour into sterilized half-pint jars and fasten lids. If the pepper pieces aren't evenly distributed, invert jars a few times after 30 minutes to distribute evenly before jelly sets.
This recipe makes about six cups.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
We use thinly sliced pork or beef - steak from the Mexican store is perfect--or chicken thighs (breasts tend to be too dry). Pork steaks work well and are very inexpensive. When we're cooking for a crowd, we usually prepare a couple of different kinds of meat for the sake of variety.
½ gallon soy sauce
2 cups water
10 cups sugar (now you know why it tastes so good)
2 Tbs. granulated garlic
1 Tbs. ground ginger
Combine ingredients in a large pot and stir together over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Use several cups to marinate meat (pork steaks, chicken thighs, beef, etc.) for 2 to 3 hours before grilling. After grilling the meat, chop it into bite-sized pieces. Serve with short grain or Japanese rice; pour additional sauce on rice topped with chopped meat. Makes one gallon.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I suppose potsticker is the Enligsh name for these little delicacies; they are known in Japan as gyoza, in China as jyaudz, and in Korea as mandoo. Whatever you choose to call them, they are fabulous, and easier to make than you might think.
For several years we were consumers of the Costco frozen variety. Then a few years ago our Japanese neighbor, Yumi, came over to teach us how to cook a variety of Japanese foods. We've been making these ever since.
1 lb. ground pork
2 T. soy sauce
1 ½ cups shredded Napa cabbage
½ t. hot chili oil, or to taste
2 green onions, diced ½ t. sesame oil
4 t. fresh ginger (2 t. dry)
4 T. vegetable oil for frying
1 egg lightly beaten
1 pkg. round potsticker wrappers
In a medium bowl, combine the ground pork, shredded cabbage, green onion, ginger, egg, soy sauce, chili oil and sesame oil.
Lay a wrapper in front of you. Place a teaspoon of filling in the middle of the wrapper. Wet all the edges with water. Fold the sides up to form a semicircle, and then pinch the edges firmly to seal. We like to pleat the top edge after we've sealed it to make it prettier. Continue with the rest of the wrappers until the filling is gone.
To cook, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy frying pan over medium-high to high heat. Add 12 - 15 of the potstickers and cook for 2 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom. Turn the potstickers. Add 1/2 cup of water to the pan. Cover the pan and cook until the water is absorbed (5 to 7 minutes). Repeat with the remainder of the potstickers.
1/4 c. white vinegar
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
3 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. ginger
Mix all ingredients together. Serve over potstickers.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Microwave Carmel Popcorn
4 quarts popped popcorn
1 cube butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup miniature marshmallows
Cook the butter for one minute in the microwave. Stir in the brown sugar and cook for another minute. Stir in the marshmallows and cook for another minute. Stir. Cook for another 30 seconds and then stir until smooth. Pour over popped popcorn and stir until popcorn is evenly coated.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
A few weeks ago I ran across this recipe. I'm not a big dessert person, but this is a cake that I actually get cravings for. It follows a pattern similar to the triple chocolate cake, but for some reason I seem to be more successful at creating a wonderful cake using this recipe. The glaze makes this cake. Rumor has it that this cake can be frozen for up to a month. It still emerges looking and tasting great.
Lemon Pound Cake
1 box Betty Crocker or Pillsbury lemon cake mix
1 3-ounce box instant lemon pudding
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
Juice of one lemon
Zest of one lemon
½ cup oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly grease and flour a bundt pan. Mix all ingredients and pour into the pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool ten minutes, then invert the pan to release the cake.
2 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup lemon juice
Mix sugar and lemon juice with electric mixer. Pour over cake while it is still hot so that a lovely lemon crust will form. Hint: I find it much easier to do this if the cake is on a wire rack with foil or wax paper underneath to catch the drippings.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Shamlessly Stolen Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups oats
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Cream sugars and shortening. Blend in vanilla and eggs. Then add dry ingredients, oats, and nuts. Roll in balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 14 minutes.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
A word of warning: the carmel sauce here is overcooked and far too thick. I served this dessert for my book group last night and tried a very small crock pot as a way of keeping the sauce warm until we were ready to eat. When I took off the lid, I was shocked to see that the sauce had continued to boil all the time we were talking. So watch the cooking time, and don't store it in a mini crock pot! I'll try for a better photo next time I make it.
Apple Cake with Carmel Topping
1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
6-7 apples, peeled and grated
For the caramel sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Spray a 9 x 13 inch cake pan with non-stick cooking spray (Pam) or grease pan and set aside.
In a large bowl cream butter with sugar. Beat in egg. Stir in flour, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. Fold in apples. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until cake is done and toothpick comes clean when inserted in cake.
Cut in squares when cool and serve with hot caramel sauce (see instructions below).
To make caramel sauce melt butter in saucepan over low heat and then add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Serve over apple cake squares.
Note: My friend Kip posted a similar recipe on his blog, but included a recipe for a butter sauce that sounds delicious. You can find it here.
The shrimp come frozen in a bag from Costco; I thawed them in water and then sauteed them in olive oil and garlic. I drizzled it with a mixture of vidalia onion dressing, also from Costco, mixed with a little bit of mayonnaise (which was intended to tone the dressing down a bit). But the photo with dressing drizzled hid some of the salad's true elegance.
Yesterday the snow flew for the first time. We're looking forward to lots of soup and comfort food, but we'll miss the beautiful and healthy vegetables, or at least the idea of finding them waiting for us in the back yard. But one thing we love about living in Utah is the four seasons. The fact that each one is fleeting helps us to enjoy the unique beauty of any time of year.
Goodbye, Summer! And maybe even Fall.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
This recipe is originally from my friend Cindy. It's perfect for potlucks because it holds up quite well even after the dressing is added. I made this for dinner one night when Bob and the boys were gone (a girls' night in). The kids laughed because I couldn't stop eating "just another bite."
I modified this recipe a bit by cooking the chicken in a teriyaki sauce (the same one I use for the won ton chicken salad recipe given to me by another friend), but I think it all works out in the wash because I use the dressing for this salad for that recipe.
Spinach Pasta Salad
2-3 chicken breasts
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
Mix soy sauce, sugar and water in a small sauce pan; bring to a boil. Add chicken breasts and cook over low heat for about an hour, until chicken is shreddable. Shred chicken and set aside. This can be done the day before if you want.
1 16-ounce package bow-tie or farfalle pasta, cooked according to package directions
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
8 to 10 cups of spinach
Combine these ingredients with the shredded chicken in a large bowl.
2-3 Tablespoons of sesame seeds
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons of sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Pour dressing over the salad and tossed until all ingredients are coated.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Like most salads, this one is quite versatile. It's great with pears and blue cheese, but also delicious with apples substituted for the pears or feta substituted for the blue cheese. Red fruit is prettier than green fruit, although the green fruit (especially apples) are usually a little more tart and give the salad a great flavor. It's shown here with red delicious apples and blue cheese crumbles.
The salad is originally from the Betty Crocker Entertaining cookbook, which doesn't include the possible variations.
Pear and Blue Cheese Salad
1 medium bunch romaine, chopped in bite-sized chunks
2 medium red or green pears or apples, cut in 1/4 inch slices
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese or feta (1 ounce)
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (for the record, pecans also work well)
Toss these ingredients together in a large bowl. Then toss with the dressing until coated.
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of ground pepper
Place ingredients in a tightly covered jar. Shake until mixed.
At about the time Bob and I were married, I learned of the intense competition to be the best bean baker in his family. I thought his baked beans were excellent. But a couple of years ago, one of our neighbors brought this dish to a neighborhood party, and I don't think we've made his usual recipe since. This one takes longer than Bob's, which is made on the stove top. This also makes quite a lot of beans, so feel free to cut the recipe in half if you're not cooking for a crowd.
8-10 generous servings
4 15-ounce cans of pork and beans
2 large onions, chopped
2 large green peppers, chopped
1 cup catsup
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce
1 pound lean bacon cut up, cooked crisp, then drained and crumbled
Combine ingredients thoroughly. Pour into a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Bake for 2 1/2 hours, covered with foil, at 325 degrees. Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes. Serve hot.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
With the onset of football season, we have been creating fall appetizers every Saturday afternoon. You can tell by the photo that this is not the world's prettiest snack. But it's one of the most delicious. Our friend Eric made this for a neighborhood party a couple of years ago. We've sort of claimed it as our own by now, and you will too once you try it.
1 pound Jimmy Dean sausage
1 15-ounce can Rotel tomatoes (we prefer mild, you can experiment if you like)
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
Brown sausage in a small sauce pan and drain. Add Rotel and cream cheese. Stir over low heat until cheese is melted. Then serve it with tortilla chips.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Our family loves Chinese food of any kind. I don't remember how I came across this recipe for sesame chicken; I don't think I had ever eaten this dish at a restaurant, so I can't imagine that I was actively searching for it. I do know that I found it on some random website, and am sorry that I'm a poor record keeper and can't give appropriate attribution. But this is a relatively quick and inexpensive meal that looks great and tastes even better.
(Serves 8, or in our case, 9)
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 pounds bloneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds*
1 bunch green onion stem, cut into 1-inch slices
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or skillet. Combine flour, garlic powder and paprika. Dredge small chicken chunks in flour. Fry pieces in oil until juices run clear.
Meanwhile, in another pot, bring ingredients for the sauce to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
Pour the sauce over the chicken in the skillet or wok and mix together. Top with toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onions. We like it served with hot rice.
*If you don't have pre-toasted sesame sauce, you can toast the regular kind by tossing them in a hot, oil-free pan for a few minutes over medium heat until they begin to turn golden brown.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
My husband Bob loves French silk pie. His particular favorite is the Village Inn version; waiting tables there was one of his college jobs. One night when I was in a particularly benevolent mood, I decided to try to re-create his all-time pie favorite.
The first couple of efforts weren't quite what he had in mind. One recipe was too rich (aren't all French silk pies a little on the rich side?); another was too much like a chocolate cream pie (in other words, not rich enough). But after an adjustment here and an addition there, we have finally reached French silk pie nirvana.
French Silk Pie
(Be aware that Betty Crocker, one of my original sources, warns that using raw eggs in this recipe carries the risk of the eater contracting salmonella. We are all healthy and well after partaking of this pie on multiple occasions, but if you want to eliminate that risk, use 3/4 cup fat-free, cholesterol-free egg product).
Homemade or prepared pastry for one pie
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened (margarine won't work; it will curdle the crust)
1 1/2 teaspons vanilla
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
Bake the pie crust in a nine-inch pan. Cool completely.
In a medium-sized bowl, beat sugar and butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and chocolate. Add eggs one at a time, beating for about one minute after adding each one. Pour mixture into pie crust. Refrigerate until set (about two hours, but don't leave it in the fridge for more than 24 hours).
Serve topped with sweetened whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles or curls. I make the curls by using a vegetable peeler on a Hershey bar. They are not the same as Village Inn.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Quite a few years ago I mentioned to a client that I love home grown tomatoes. Love may be an understatement. She told me that she had a recipe I must try. She actually remembered to email it to me, and it's been a favorite ever since. So thanks, Janice! I hope all is well in Tennessee.
This snack is remarkably easy to make, but makes a good impression. Put a homemade or purchased pie crust in a 9-inch tart pan. Spread grated mozzarella cheese on the bottom of the crust until it is completely and evenly covered. Then layer as much chopped basil as you like; I usually use a little more than a quarter cup, but you can go as high as a full cup if you truly love basil.
The order of ingredients in this recipe is important. If the basil isn't mostly covered by sliced tomatoes, it will burn. The juice that emanates from the tomatoes during the baking process also helps protect the basil.
Thinly slice 3-4 Roma tomatoes. You can slice them any way you want, depending on the look you're going for. I chose to slice these the long way for a sort of flower petal effect; I've also sliced them cross-wise, which is lovely. Layer the tomato slices as close to each other as possible in order to cover the basil.
Drizzle the tart with a little bit of olive oil, and bake it at about 375 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is golden. Slice and serve. This is delicious, but it's best served in appetizer-sized portions; Bob and I tried splitting one for a meal once and it was just too much goodness.
1 single homemade or prepared pie crust
About 3/4 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 to 1 cup of chopped fresh basil, depending on how much you love basil
3-4 thinly sliced Roma tomatoes
Drizzle of olive oil
Put pie crust in a 8 or 9-inch tart pan. Fill the crust with grated cheese. Layer chopped basil on top of the cheese. Top with sliced tomatoes, taking care to cover the basil, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Most of our family loves quiche. Anna hates it, but that is another story. David drew the breakfast category in our cook off and has always wanted to learn to make quiche. This was the perfect opportunity.
Most of what I know about making quiche I learned from my Betty Crocker Entertaining cook book and my next-door neighbor, Cory. BC has a great basic recipe; Cory enlightened us to understand that you can customize quiche to your heart's desire. For example, David loves chives, so we put some chives in the mix. I love finely diced green peppers with eggs, so we added some of those, too. And since we had both Swiss and cheddar cheeses, we made the quiche a cheese festival and added generous amounts of both. We had some diced ham and thought about either adding it to the bacon or replacing the bacon with it, but the bacon won out in the end.
I'll include the recipe's super simple crust recipe, which you don't have to roll and transfer. We simply used a Great Values brand pre-made crust from WalMart, which was truly delicious.
Basic Betty Crocker Quiche
Pat-in-the-Pan pastry (below)
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 small onion, finely diced
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese (4 ounces)
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Move the oven rack to its lowest position. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Make the Pat-in-the-Pan pastry (see recipe below).
Sprinkle bacon, cheese and onion in pastry-lined pie or quiche pan. Beat the eggs slightly in a large bowl with a wire whisk or hand beater. Beat in the whipping cream, salt, pepper and cayenne. Carefully pour the egg filling into the pie pan. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Bake about 25 minutes longer or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Place the pan on a wire cooling rack. Let stand ten minutes before cutting.
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cold water
Mix the flour, oil and salt with a fork in a medium bowl until all flour is moistened. Sprnkle with cold water, one tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork until all the water is absorbed. Shape the pastry into a ball, using your hands. Press the pastry in the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
We recently completed our first annual family cook off. We believe it's important for our kids to leave home knowing how to cook. They haven't always been thrilled about our formal cooking lessons; we thought this might be a more fun way to make sure that each of them had prepared a complete meal on their own.
We aren't completely insane; we only included the five kids who are twelve or older. We started by choosing five types of food and had each of them draw a category. The person who got sandwiches was thrilled; the person who chose Asian food was a little overwhelmed. They got to choose the menu within those constraints. We gave them five or six criteria against which to be judged (presentation, flavor, difficulty, cost, etc.) and asked them to use a five point rating scale--five is good, one is not good. The whole family voted on each person's meal each night. We posted the menu and a running total of the scores to date on the fridge.
The cost was something that obviously couldn't be judged objectively by the kids; having them judge difficulty of a meal was a stretch. We added a cost score in later by calculating the out-of-pocket expenses for that meal (we didn't include the cost of items we already had on hand). Katie, the winner, got to go to lunch with Mom and Dad.
We think the activity was a success. All of the kids did well, and even those who aren't all that interested in cooking took it seriously. The point spread between the high scorer and the low scorer was only five. Most of them agreed to participate again next summer.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Last Sunday we decided to make a sort of feast. Bob grilled kabobs and I made focaccia.
I was first introduced to focaccia when I lived in Italy almost 30 years ago. Italians think of it as a sort of pizza; you buy it by weight at the panificio or bread store (which is a specific kind of bakery, distinguished from a pasticeria or pastery bakery). In the Puglia region where I was living it was usually topped with olives and sometimes thinly sliced tomatoes. We usually ate it for breakfast on the run.
In the US, focaccia is usually understood to be a flat bread that can be eaten plain or used for a lovely sandwich. We found our recipe on the back of a 50-pound flour sack; of course we have improvised somewhat to make it our own.
Note: Most Americans pronounce the word focaccia with an -sh sound in the third syllable--focashia. The proper Italian pronunciation is a harder sound, as in focachia.
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons instant active dried yeast (if it isn't instant, be sure to activate it by whisking it in the warm water and the tablespoon of sugar)
1 1/3 cups warm water
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons dried rosemary leaves
3 Tablespoons thinly sliced white or yellow onions
Mix flour, salt, sugar, yeast and 3 tablespoons of oil. Mix dough until pliable; I use a stand mixer (Bosch) and knead it for 5-7 minutes. Place dough in oiled bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Roll the dough into a flat circle, about 1/2 inch to one-inch thick. You can raise it on a baking sheet, or I prefer to raise it on a pizza peel. Where you raise it depends on how you plan to bake it. I prefer to bake the bread on a pizza stone because it leaves it with a crispy crust. If you don't have a stone, you can bake it on the same oiled baking sheet that you raise it on. I find that covering the pizza peel with corn meal helps keep it from sticking to the pizza peel, and also gives the crust a nice grainy finish.
Make dimples by gently pushing your finger into the dough. Brush the dough with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle on the onions, rosemary, and cheese (the order of these ingredients is important if you want to avoid burning the onions). We sometimes put thinly sliced Roma tomatoes on top as well, especially in the summer when they are in season. Here is what the pre-baked product looks like:
Let the dough rise until doubled, about 35-40 minutes. If you're baking the bread on a pizza stone, heat the oven with the stone inside it to 500 degrees. As soon as you put the bread in the oven, turn it down to 375 degrees. Bake for 15-20 minutes. If you are using a baking sheet, heat the oven to 375 degrees and bake for about 25 minutes. Here's what it looks like when it comes out of the oven.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
I started searching for Indian recipes that would fill up our rapidly growing children,use ingredients we had on hand and complement the Tandoori chicken I was making as a main course. I came across this recipe for Indian baked potatoes. When I took it out of the oven and offered Bob a taste, he said, "This tastes a lot more Utah Mormon than Punjabi." Maybe it was the zucchini. I had to agree with his verdict, even though I found the recipe on what appeared to be a fairly Indian site.
I made a few changes to the original recipe. I increased the cream cheese and other cheeses a bit, which may also have contributed to the Utah feel. The original recipe calls for whatever vegetables one has on hand; we had cauliflower, carrots, onions, and of course, zucchini. I think the only one of those that wasn't included on the original list was zucchini.
This is a pretty dish to look at and it made the house smell great. It's also fairly simple. The kids loved it, so I'm sure it will make an encore appearance on another night when we get tired of rice again.
Indian Baked Potatoes
4-6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and boiled
Juilienned pieces of various vegetables (I used carrots, onions, cauliflower, and zucchini)
2 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mash potatoes while hot with cream cheese. Stir fry various vegetables for about five minutes in a small amount of butter or vegetable oil. Mix potatoes and vegetables together until well blended. Spread into a 9 x 13 baking dish and top with mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook on high broil for 2-3 (moving the oven rack to the second-to-the-highest shelf) or until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly.
Friday, June 26, 2009
This is the best strawberry pie recipe I've ever tried. I've sampled others with cream cheese on the bottom of the crust and they are tasty, but the mashed up fruit in the glaze is what really makes this pie for me. I first acquired the recipe my freshman year in college from my roommate Dana, who I believe got it from Betty Crocker.
The same formula also works well with raspberries or peaches. My order of preference probably goes raspberries, strawberries, then peaches. But strawberries are a lot cheaper than raspberries, so that's what we usually make.
1 9-inch baked pie shell (I am not skilled at crust making, so I usually use store bought. Store brands seem better to me than national brands as a general rule, and I can particularly recommend the Great Values brand from Wal Mart. And I'm not a Wal Mart fan)
4 cups fresh berries (about 1 1/2 quarts)
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons corn starch
1/2 cup water
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
Mash enough berries to measure one cup. Stir together the sugar and cornstarch.
Gradually stir in water and mashed berries. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir one minute. Cool for a few minutes.
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Carefully spread on the bottom of the baked pie shell; the shell can break easily if you get aggressive with your spreading.
Fill shell with remaining berries. Pour the cooked glaze mixture over the top of the berries. Chill for three hours or until set. You can see that we ate it this particular night with ice cream; it's a wonderful complement to the tartness of the fruit.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
As one would expect, most Americans pronounce the word according to the rules of English, with the sch combination having a sh or ch sound. However, the actual Italian pronunciation is a harder sound, the same as the sch combination at the beginning of the word school. So it's actually brusketta. At one point in my life I spoke Italian very well, so you can trust me on this one.
As I finished making the topping on Saturday and ran it past Bob's nose, we both agreed that for us, this is the smell of summer.
Makes about 25-30 pieces
2-3 Roma tomatoes, finely diced
1/4 - 1/3 cup finely diced red onion
Up to 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil, depending on your taste
1 - 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 baguette, sliced in quarter-inch slices
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Grated parmesan cheese (I prefer a large size grate)
Combine all ingredients except baguette, 2 tablespoons olive oil and parmesan in a glass bowl. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. Brush baguette slices with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Broil for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned.
Immediately before serving, spoon combined ingredients onto toasted bread. Top with grated parmesan and serve.