Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cherry Almond Granola

I wanted to make a few homemade Christmas gifts to give friends and family. I always make my peppermint bark but this year I've also added granola into my gift-giving routine. Barefoot Contessa takes the credit for this recipe but countless reviewer helped modify the cooking process. The result is fantastic it's yummy over yogurt or ice cream and bonus - it makes your house smell amazing while you're making it!

Cherry Almond Granola

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
2 cups sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups dried cherries, chopped (dried cranberries or blueberries would be good too)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Toss the oats and almonds together in a large bowl. Pour the vegetable oil and honey over the oat mixture. Add the cinnamon, and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated with the liquids. Pour onto a sheet pan. Bake, stirring every five minutes with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even golden brown, about 20 minutes. Then add in coconut and dried cherries. Stir and continue to bake another 5 - 7 minutes until coconut is golden brown.

Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gulliver's Creamed Corn

If you Google "Gulliver's Corn" this recipe comes up about 9,000 times so it certainly has a small cult following. Apparently it hailed from a famous San Francisco restaurant but as far as I'm concerned, it's just another great recipe that hails from my mother's table. Certainly decedent but holiday worthy.

Gulliver's Creamed Corn

6 Tbls. butter, melted
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (I think one could use a combo of milk and cream to cut the ridiculousness of it all just a bit!)
2 16oz. bags frozen sweet corn
2 tsps. salt
1 tsp. sugar
3 Tbls. flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a 9x13 casserole dish with some of the melted butter. Sprinkle with about a third of the cheese or enough to lightly coat the bottom of the dish. In a 4-quart saucepan or deep saute pan heat cream, salt, sugar until almost boiling. Add corn and cook a few minutes until corn is heated. In a small and separate bowl mix the rest of the melted butter with the flour to make a paste. Slowly mix paste into corn mixture and mix until thickened. Carefully pour corn into dish and then top with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbling and the cheese slightly browns.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Moscow Mule Cocktail

Everyone seems to be buzzing about this drink. Maybe it's because Oprah just had this cocktail on her "camping" trip but we were glad to try this on Thanksgiving. It's a variation on a mojito and the ginger beer is different and refreshing. Ginger beer makes this so don't be tempted to use ginger ale. There's no alcohol in ginger beer so a virgin version is safe for kiddies.

Moscow Mule

1 ounce vodka
1 tsp. sugar syrup (or simple syrup which is one part sugar to one part water and heated until the sugar dissolves)
Fresh lime juice
1/2 cup ginger beer
1 sprig fresh mint
1 slice of lime

Pour vodka over ice in a glass or mug. Add sugar syrup and lime juice. Top with ginger beer and stir. Garnish with mint sprig and lime slice.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Durham Eye of Round Beef Roast

Imagine yourself eating a Sunday supper in an episode of "Leave it to Beaver" and June leans over and dishes you out a fabulous roast beef dinner. This is the beef she'd serve. It's economical but done right, it's company worthy and you look like a smart hostess minus the dated apron. This is really more of a cooking method versus a recipe. The trick is to use an electric knife and slice it as thin as you can get it. Makes ridiculously good sandwiches. Must be made 2 days in advance so this take a little planning!

Durham Eye of Round

4-lbs. eye of round beef roast

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/c cup vinegar
2 Tbls. seasoning salt such as Lawry's
Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Place beef in large plastic freezer bag. Mix marinade and pour over roast. Marinate for at least two days, turning occasionally. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove beef from marinade and place in roasting pan. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Now the fun part - leave beef in oven (DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR) and turn oven off. Let sit for two hours. Remove and let sit for 10 minutes. Then slice, against the grain, as thin as you can and enjoy.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Yorkshire Pudding with Bacon & Sage

My love for recipes certainly comes from my mother whose collection of cookbooks and cooking magazines rivals any bookstore or library. Yesterday I was happy she's a recipe hoarder and had dug out a 2006 Bon Appetit magazine with this delicious and different side dish. She served it along roast beef and it felt like early Christmas. My kids loved seeing the pudding puff in the oven but we enjoyed eating it more!

Yorkshire Pudding with Bacon & Sage

6 ounces bacon slices (about 7 slices), cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons (about) butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, divided
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 large eggs

Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 450°F. Sauté bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Transfer drippings to glass measuring cup. If needed, add enough melted butter to measure 1/4 cup total. Pour drippings into 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Place dish in hot oven to heat drippings 10 minutes.

Whisk flour, 2 tablespoons sage, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Whisk milk and eggs to blend in large bowl; add flour mixture and whisk until batter is smooth. Whisk in 2/3 of bacon. Remove hot baking dish from oven. Using oven mitts or pot holders to protect hands, tilt dish to distribute drippings evenly. Pour batter into pan. Bake 15 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue to bake until golden brown and puffed, about 12 minutes longer (do not open oven door while baking).

Remove pudding from oven. Crumble remaining bacon over pudding, sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sage, and serve warm.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Zucchini Bake

This is one of my all-time favorite side dishes and you can find yet another reason to pull out that box of Bisquick!

Zucchini Bake

4 cups grated zucchini - squeezed dry if needed
4 eggs
1 cup Bisquick mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbls. parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
pinch of garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs, Bisquick and oil then fold in the rest of the ingredients until incorporated. Pour into a 9x13 casserole dish and bake for 40-50 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Brussels Sprouts in Maple Mustard Sauce

Here's another one of my mother's legendary recipes. Who knew brussels sprouts could make such an impression? These have graced many a holiday table and the beauty is that you can make this ahead and even the pickiest of eaters will find them hard to resist.

Anita's Famous Brussels Sprouts with Maple Mustard Sauce

2 lbs, or 4 cups brussles sprouts
2 Tbls. champagne vinegar
2 Tbls. balsamic vinegar
3-4 Tbls real maple syrup
2 Tbls Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. course grain mustard
1 tps. salt
1.2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Trim brussels sprouts by cutting a small "x" at the stem and removing any touch or wilted outer leaves. Drop sprouts into boiling water (enough to amply cover) and boil with a pinch of salt for about 8 - 10 minutes or until a knife goes in easily.
Remove from heat and drain. The mix the rest of the ingredients for the sauce with the exception of the olive oil. Once everything is combined, slowly add oil in small steady stream, mixing well to create a dressing. Add sauce to warm sprouts and toss and coat. Serve at room temp. Can be made one day in advance by just cooking sprouts and mixing sauce but combining just a short time before serving.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Texas Sheet Cake To Die For

Yes, I realize this my 400th chocolate cake recipe but you can never have too many chocolate cake recipes, right? What I love about this one is that it doesn't require chocolate chips which disappear in my house like umbrellas and matching socks. This is yet another Pioneer Woman recipe and she's never let me down. I made this in a snap for a neighborhood clambake and served it to many happy people!

2 cups Flour
2 cups Sugar
¼ teaspoons Salt
4 Tablespoons (heaping) Cocoa
2 sticks Butter
1 cup Boiling Water
½ cups Buttermilk (I used the trick of a touch under 1/2 c. of milk with 1-2 Tbls. vinegar mixed together, let sit a few minutes and voila - buttermilk!)
2 whole Beaten Eggs
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Vanilla

½ cups Finely Chopped Pecans (I omitted because my kids are not nut fans)
1-¾ stick Butter
4 Tablespoons (heaping) Cocoa
6 Tablespoons Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 pound (minus 1/2 Cup) Powdered Sugar

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoa. Stir together.
Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.

In a measuring cup, pour the buttermilk and add beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into sheet cake pan and bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes.

While cake is baking, make the icing. Chop pecans finely. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Stir together. Add the pecans, stir together, and pour over warm cake.

Let sit until glaze sets and then dig in!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hammy sammies

For some reason, I've been thinking about my cherished Bermuda bags from the 80s. I just loved these sassy little wooden-handled gems with countless covers and cute patterns. But I digress...

Here's an old recipe that is just as good now as it was back then. I guess some things just never go out of style. Easy and a huge hit for a quick lunch or perfect for gathering a crowd around a football game.

16 ounces, weight Thin Sliced Deli Ham
12 slices Swiss Cheese
1 package King Hawaiian Rolls, 12 Count
½ cups Butter, Melted (can use less since this is A LOT of butter!)
2 teaspoons Onion Flakes
1 teaspoon Poppy Seeds
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
½ teaspoons Ground Mustard

Layer ham and cheese in between sliced rolls. Mix all other ingredients and spoon over sandwiches. Let set for several hours if possible. (I'm not sure this is critical but I do what I'm told...)

Bake on 350F for 15 min before serving. Note - although I was convinced my little one would see poppy seeds and run for the hills, the promise of hot ham & cheese lured her in!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Indian Butter Chicken

Oh Lord have mercy, I have made a culinary break through at my house and made Indian food that tastes exactly like my favorite Indian dish! No reservations, no passport - just an easy recipe. I owe many thanks to the Tasty Kitchen blog where I discovered this wonder of a dish. It packs a bit of underlying warmth. Not really heat but a complex blend of deliciousness. Serve over Basmati or fragrant Jasmine rice consider yourself quite the gourmet.

Butter Chicken

4 or 5 boneless chicken breasts (cut into bite sized pieces)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoons black pepper
½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoons ground coriander
¼ teaspoons cumin
¼ teaspoons cardamom
1 whole lime, juiced
1 whole onion, diced
¼ cup butter
1 can (14.5 oz. can) tomato sauce
1 can (14.5 oz. can) petite diced tomatoes
1 pint whipping cream (or light cream or half & half because a pint of cream is scary)
1 bunch chopped cilantro, to taste
2 cups Basmati or Jasmine rice (or more if you'd like)

*Note - I didn't have cardamom so I used 1/2 tsp. garam masala spice blend (mix of coriander, pepper, cardamom and cinnamon) and then added the cumin, cayenne, salt and lime juice.

Combine first 9 ingredients and marinate overnight. Or for 20 minutes because that's all the time I had on a busy night.

Saute the onion in the butter until soft. Add marinated chicken and cook about 10 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Cook for 30 minutes over medium-low heat with the lid on. Add the whipping cream and cilantro just before serving over Basmati rice.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Anita's Hot Fudge Sauce

My mom has been making her own hot fudge sauce ever since I can remember. The funny thing is that she doesn't really like ice cream. Go figure. Well, after many different recipes and methods - this might be her best and easiest yet.

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 cup milk
1 package chocolate chips

Just dump everything in a saucepan on medium heat and stir until it's all melted into smooth deliciousness. Top on your favorite frozen treat.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mushroom Delights

I confess. I don't really love mushrooms yet I could eat this by the spoonful. Who knew boring white mushroom could be elevated to sophisticated party food? These little treasures do not disappoint with a creamy, herb flavor. Pre-made phyllo shells are your secret weapon here!

Mushroom Delights

3 Tbls. minced green onions
4 Tbls. melted butter
½ lbs. minced white button mushrooms
2 Tbls. all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. dried parsley
2 Tbls. fresh chopped chives
2 Tbls. water
2 Tbls. lemon juice
Pre-cooked phyllo mini shells (maybe 24 shells?)

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large saucepan over med-high heat, saute onions, butter and mushrooms. Add flour and saute two more minutes. Add rest of ingredients and simmer on low heat until thickened. Place shells on baking sheet and spoon mixture into shells. Bake for approximately 8 - 10 minutes until hot. Serve warm.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

5 Ingredient Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

My little girl is growing up. These cookies are Olivia's first true foray in the kitchen. I didn't help (well, just got them out of the oven) despite my better judgement. She measured, mixed and whistled while she worked. I on the other hand spent some quality time with my beloved couch and Bravo t.v. and we all enjoyed the fruits of her labor. You're bound to make these at some point because - let's face it, who can resist baking when it's this easy.

5 Ingredient Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup milk chocolate chips (or used semi-sweet)
(I would cheat next time and add just a touch of salt - so 6 ingredients!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips. When blended, mix in the chocolate chips. Using your fingers, form 1 1/2 inch balls (dough will be very wet and sticky) and place onto an un-greased parchment lined cookie sheet. You don't want to make them too big because they do spread. Bake for 9 minutes. Let the cookies sit on the cookies sheet for about 30 seconds to 1 minute before letting cool on a wire rack. When hot they are a bit fragile. Makes around a dozen small cookies.

Roasted Ricotta Tomatoes

So this week we were met with the attack of the killer tomato plant. We can hardly pick 'em fast enough but my sister-in-law reminded me of this great recipe that I had made for Mother's Day. With fresh summer tomatoes, this would be even better!

Roasted Ricotta Roma Tomatoes

8 whole Roma Tomatoes, Halved
1 bunch Fresh Italian Parsley
1 bunch Fresh Basil
2 cloves To 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1-½ cup Ricotta Cheese
Ritz Crackers Or Bread Crumbs
Kosher Salt To Taste
Olive Oil

Begin by washing and halving your Roma tomatoes.

After halving them, gut out the insides (seeds, etc.) with a spoon. Sprinkle a bit of kosher salt inside each tomato.

Discard guts and lay the halved, gutted tomatoes face down on a clean towel.

Chop up your herbs and garlic and mix with the Ricotta cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Next, fill each tomato half with a nice heap of the Ricotta mixture.

In a food processor (or if you don’t have a food processor, you can mash in a plastic baggy with a rolling pin) crumble about 15-20 Ritz crackers. Or you can use dried bread crumbs from your favorite kind of bread if you want.

Press each ricotta filled tomato half face down into the crackers/crumbs and then place face up on a baking sheet. Drizzle each tomato with a bit of olive oil.

Place in 400º oven for 25-30 minutes.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Blueberry Whole Wheat Brownies

This is a great use of all those summer blueberries that you may have right about now. My kids love brownies and I love the idea of adding fruit for some nutrients and texture. I did end up sneaking some chocolate chips into the batter but they turned out moist and fudgy without a distinct blueberry taste. In fact, once Olivia discovered my secret she had another!

Blueberry Whole Wheat Brownies

1 cup Blueberries, Fresh Or Frozen
2 sticks Unsalted Butter
1-½ cup Light Brown Sugar, Packed
¾ cups Cocoa Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
½ Tablespoons Vanilla Extract
2 whole Eggs
1-½ cup Whole Wheat Flour
½ cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 x 9 baking dish. Cook berries in a saucepan over medium heat until they beging to break down and reduce berries to a slightly thicker (not syrupy) juice. Add butter and sugar to the saucepan and heat until most of the sugar is dissolved. Add cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and vanilla extract and stir well. Let cool for a few minutes. When mixture is cooled slightly add eggs one at a time and stir well to completely incorporate. Add whole wheat flour and mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!

Monday, July 26, 2010


We had friends over this past weekend. I was dreaming of a relaxing night chilling outside, grilling and fighting over s'mores. Mother Nature had a different dream - one that included sideways rain, humidity and darkness. So grilling was out and instead we baked fish. As a side, I made this wonderful version of panzanella. It's hardly revolutionary but I thought I'd post it because you may have forgotten all about this lovely summer staple. I almost did!


3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes (I use 4-5 plum tomatoes)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained

For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar (can use white wine vinegar)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Or lightly coat bread with oil in large bowl, then place on cookie sheet and toast under your broiler (turning occasionally) to avoid all that frying mess! Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend. You can also toss all veggies with dressing and then add bread during last 20 minutes to avoid the bread soaking in too much dressing.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sugar Cookie Bars

I love food blogs. I love them so much that it's a small problem. I can spend hours reading tales from home cooks and this particular recipe showed up on several blogs. I took it as a sign that I had to make these over the weekend. They were also intriguing because I despise the labor of cutout cookies but a good sugar cookie cannot be beat. Be sure you have the right sized pan for these because I cheated and used a 9x13 pan and they were way too thick and had trouble baking all the way through. With the right pan, these will be a great go-to recipe. Recipe and picture are thanks to Annie's Eats - yet another food blog that I just began reading. I know...I need to stop!

Sugar Cookie Bars

For the cookie bars:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (I didn't use this since I never have this on hand)
Zest from 1 lemon
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda

For the frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract (could use almond extract as well!)
Pinch of salt
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
5 tbsp. milk
Food coloring (optional but oh so fun!)
Sprinkles (optional but oh so very fun!)

To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Grease a 13 x 18" rimmed baking sheet (bars pictured used 12 x 17" pan). Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until light and smooth, about 2 minutes. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla, seeds from the vanilla bean, and lemon zest. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Stir together with a fork to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl and beat on low speed just until incorporated.

Transfer the cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet and press into an even layer. Bake 10-15 minutes, until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Blend in the vanilla, salt, and confectioners' sugar until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Mix in the milk. Tint as desired with food coloring. Spread over the cookie in the pan, cut into bars and serve.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Marcy's Chicken Salad

Who can cook when it's melt-your-eyeballs hot outside? As record heat sweeps much of the country, there are probably countless people thinking - how about ice cream for dinner? Well put the hot fudge sauce away because here's a simple throw together no-recipe recipe that you customize based on your taste. My mom's friend, Marcy, doesn't like to cook therefore she doesn't linger in the kitchen. Good thing she makes a mean chicken salad which can stand in for a quick oven-less dinner. You'll notice that I just list ingredients and, for the most part, left out exact measurements because you just add as much as you like of each item. How easy?! Serve this on fresh rolls or lettuce cups and stay cool.

Marcy's Chicken Salad

4 cooked chicken breasts (rotisserie chicken can be your best friend here!)
Seedless Engish cucumber - seeded and chopped finely
Clausen (a must!) dill pickles, chopped
Red & Yellow pepper, chopped
Celery - chopped
green onions - chopped
mayo - enough to moisten
salt/pepper to taste
dried dill

Mix well and serve on rolls or lettuce cups.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


To me, nothing says summer better than gazpacho. Cold, refreshing, light and no oven required. I make this recipe multiple times during the warmer months and have fond memories of sharing this cold soup with friends and neighbors. It's summer in a bowl. This is yet another fabulous Ina Garten recipe so you know it's good. As Ina would gently say, be sure not to overprocess the veggies or you'll just have mush.


1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded (feel free to use yellow or orange pepper too!)
4 plum tomatoes
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
23 ounces tomato juice (3 cups) (I use spicy V8 sometimes!)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess!

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill (for several hours) before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the better it will get. Now stash in the fridge and enjoy a bowl whenever you need a refreshing pick me up!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Campfire Foil Dinner

I once said that the only way I'd camp is if it said "Hilton" over my head. Bugs, heat, public bathrooms, smelly tents...need I say more? Well, despite my complaining I have ended up taking an annual camping trip with a great group of friends and have come to enjoy a few uncomfortable nights in the great outdoors. Of course, a few beers and laughs can make up for a few bugs! We all take turns with meals and this time-honored Girl Scout recipe would be a fun casual meal. It's perfect to make over an open fire or even on a grill. It's not fancy but fun, just like camping!

I've also made this at home (oven) when I need a sure fire hit with the kids.

Polish Sausage Foil Dinner

recipe makes one serving packet so multiple as needed...

1 cup frozen loose-pack diced hash brown potatoes with onions/peppers (O'Brien style)
3 oz. sliced smoked sausage (can use turkey polish sausage too)
1 Tbls. Italian dressing
2 - 3 Tbls. shredded cheddar cheese
optional - various veggies - pepper strips, mushrooms, jalapenos, squash - you get the idea...

Tear off a 24x12-inch piece of heavy foil and fold in half to make 12x12 square. Place potatoes and sausage in center of foil, drizzle with Italian dressing. Bring up two opposite edges of foil; seal with double fold and seal remaining edges. Basically making a sealed pouch with some room for steam. Grill packet on grill rack or directly over medium coals for about 15 minutes, turning once. Open packet and sprinkle with cheese. Reseal and let sit five few minutes until cheese melts. Serve in pouch with a cold beer and have the bug spray handy!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Agave Salmon with Citrus Salsa

Salmon is the new chicken of our house. My youngest daughter would eat it everyday and typically eats more than any of us on nights when I serve salmon. So I was looking for a few different ways to prepare it that were not too time consuming but were a little different. I had recently come across this recipe and was intrigued by the use of agave. A natural sweetener that seems to be everywhere. So I picked up my first bottle last weekend with this recipe in mind. Fresh, sweet and light, this will become a dish we serve all summer.

2 large oranges
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 scallions, finely sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I used a couple of drops of hot sauce in place of red pepper flakes)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable or canola oil, for oiling the grill
4 (4 to 5-ounce) center cut salmon fillets, skinned, each about 3-inches square
2 tablespoons amber agave nectar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salsa: Peel and trim the ends from each orange. Using a paring knife, cut along the membrane on both sides of each segment. Free the segments and add them to a medium bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, scallions, mint, capers, orange zest, lemon zest, and hot sauce and olive oil. Toss lightly and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

For the salmon: Put a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Brush the grilling rack with vegetable oil to keep the salmon from sticking. Brush the salmon on both sides with the agave nectar and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Grill until the fish flakes easily and is cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Transfer the salmon to a platter and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Spoon the salsa on top of the salmon or serve on the side as an accompaniment. Serve with some herbed couscous and consider yourself very chefy!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mexican Street Corn

True summer corn is not ready yet but keep this gem on your fridge because when fresh farmer's corn is abundant, this is a fun way to doctor up plain corn. It's Olivia's number one request all summer long and living in Ohio, my kids have been gnawing on corn cobs since they were babies so corn is big in our house. I have seen corn-on-the-cob cooked in a myriad of ways and I'm always amazed to learn of various time-honered family techniques. Choose whatever cooking method suits you. I will not judge.

Mexican Street Corn

sweet corn, - as many as you like but the recipe covers about 4 cobs well.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lime, quartered
Optional - finely grated Parmesan cheese/queso cotija, shredded/or crumbled feta

Cook corn however you see fit. Boil, grill, whatever. Mix together mayonnaise, chili powder, garlic salt, and black pepper. Remove corn from grill and brush with the mayonnaise mixture. Serve with lime quarters to squeeze over corn and fell free to sprinkle with cheese of choice. Serve warm and drippy with plenty of napkins.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Baked Lemon Pasta

I'm torn. I've been debating on whether to post this pasta recipe because I cannot decide how to best serve it. I've baked it where you get lovely crispy bits. Served it before baking so it's creamy and rich and even eaten it cold. Still good but not my preferred method. I guess it's a versatile little number, huh? In any case, use lots of lemon zest to cut the richness of the sour cream. I tend to serve this as a side with something light. Last night it made a guest appearance next to salmon. Very nice indeed!

Baked Lemon Pasta

1 pound Thin Spaghetti
4 Tablespoons Salted Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 whole Lemon, Juiced And Zested (could even use two for extra punch!)
2 cups Sour Cream (I've used much less at times and opted for reduced fat)
½ teaspoons Kosher Salt, Or More To Taste
Plenty Of Grated Parmesan Cheese
Flat-leaf Parsley, Chopped
Extra Lemon Juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook spaghetti until al dente.

In a skillet, melt butter with olive oil over LOW HEAT. When butter is melted, add minced garlic. Squeeze lemon juice into the pan. Turn off heat.

Add sour cream and stir mixture together. Add lemon zest and salt. Taste, then add more salt if necessary. Pour mixture over drained spaghetti and stir together, then pour spaghetti into an oven safe dish. If you like the pasta very creamy, go ahead and dig in now. For the baked version keep reading...

Bake, covered, for 15 minutes. Then remove foil and bake for an additional 7 to 10 minutes. (Don’t bake too long or the pasta will dry out too much.)

When you remove it from the oven, squeeze a little more lemon juice over the top. Top generously with Parmesan cheese, then chopped parsley. Give it a final squeeze of lemon juice at the end.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Forklift Salad

Summer is almost officially upon us. Kids are winding down with school, patio furniture is out but in desperate need of cleaning and I'm dreaming of outdoor entertaining. This is a colorful and beautiful salad to serve. I also buy some flatbread or naan and grill it to soften and provide some grill marks - cut into wedges and pile around this mound of goodness. It's called "forklift" salad because of the bounty of vegetables that you'll be consuming and that's a good thing!

Forklift Salad

2 cups English cucumbers that have cores removed and diced
2 cups seeded and diced plum or Roma tomatoes
2 cups cored and diced red pepper
1 can drained and rinsed garbanzo beans
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup diced red onion
3 Tbls plus 1 Tbl. white or cider vinegar
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp. whole-grain dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbls. fresh mint
3 Tbls. fresh basil
3 Tbls. fresh flat-leaf or Italian parsley

Combine all veggies/beans and in a small bowl whisk together vinegar, garlic, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper and mustard. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Pour over veggies/beans and let sit for up to two hours at room temperature. At serving time add herbs and adjust salt/pepper as needed. Serve with wedges of grilled flatbread. You may also want to consider serving with a slotted spoon.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Marlboro Man Sandwich

I've become a little obsessed with the Pioneer Woman Blog and find that I'm checking it at least once a day. Ree (who pens this wonderful diversion) is witty, entertaining and the woman knows her food. This sandwich is yet another example of something that's simple but so good. Cube steak is something that I thought was only reserved for "chicken fried" steak and therefore NEVER considered buying it. Boy, have we missed out. We added cheese to our version so this will forever replace any lame version of chewy cheesesteaks we've made in the past. Marlboro Man is Ree's rancher husband and he's got good taste!

The Marlboro Man Sandwich

1 whole Large (or 2 Small) Onions
2 sticks Butter (lots And Lots Of Butter)
2 pounds (to 3 Pounds) Cube Steak (tenderized Round Steak That's Been Extra Tenderized)
Lawry's Seasoned Salt (or Similar Seasoned Salt)
½ cups (approximately) Worcestershire Sauce
Tabasco Sauce, To Taste
4 whole French/deli Rolls

Slice onions and cook in 1/4 stick butter until soft and light brown. Remove and set aside. Slice cube steak against the grain. Season with Lawry’s.
Heat 2 tablespoons butter over high heat (in same skillet) until melted and beginning to brown. Add meat in single layer. Cook one side until brown, then flip and cook until brown, about a minute on both sides. Add 1/2 cup (at least) Worcestershire sauce, 5 to 6 shakes Tabasco, and 2 tablespoons butter. Add cooked onions. Stir to combine. Butter halved French rolls and brown in skillet.
To assemble, lay bottom half of French roll on plate. Place meat mixture, followed by a spoonful of juice from the pan. Or place meat on roll, cover with cheese (provolone is a good choice) and pop under the broiler for an amazing cheesesteak that rivals any restuarant version.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Simple Tomato Sauce

I have come to love the Steamy Kitchen Blog for all things Asian. I don't cook Asian food well but dream of a day where I can whip up an effortless moo shu pork. Until that day, I'll keep reading but I was stunned to find this classic Italian sauce on my beloved Asian blog. This recipe seemed too good to be true but it hailed from a iconic Italian chef - Marcella Hazan so I had to try it. I served it with some egg fettuccine from Ohio City Pasta and it was simple but heavenly. Close your eyes when eating this and envision yourself at a little trattoria in Italy. P.S. Even this pic is off the Steamy Kitchen Blog given that my sauce disappeared before I could take a close up!

1 whole onion - preferably Vidalia, cut in half
1 28-ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes (from San Marzano if you can find them)
5 tablespoons of butter
pasta of your choice (I used fresh pasta for a bit of a chewy texture)

Place the butter, onion and tomatoes into a medium saucepan. Onion can be left in halves or quarters so they are submerged in liquid from tomatoes. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Remove onion and discard. Stir to break up any last bits of whole tomato. I then added pinch of salt and just a pinch of sugar which will take away any acidic bite from the canned tomatoes. That's it. Crazy but it was simple and delicious. Serve over fresh pasta with from freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Boursin Chicken

Why don't I buy Boursin cheese more? Stirred into mashed potatoes or eggs or on toast...again, why have I forgotten about this humble little herbed cheese? Here's yet another great use. Chicken and Boursin together? Genius!

Boursin Chicken

4 split chicken breasts
1 box garlic Boursin cheese
1/4 cup crushed walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup chopped carrots
bread crumbs (made from 2 Tbls. Parmesan cheese, 1/4 c. plain bread crumbs)
2 Tbls. chopped parsley
1/2 stick melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pound chicken breasts until thin. In a bowl mix Boursin cheese and 1 Tbl. flour, nuts, carrots and parsley and stir to combine.
Place a 1/4 of mixture in middle of the chicken breast and roll. Brush with melted butter and roll in bread crumbs. Place in greased pan - seam-side down. repeat with all breasts. Bake for 45 minutes.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Make this dip when you want to see grown men fight over the last scoop. A big shout out to Caroline Maurer who (thankfully for the rest of us) perfected this addictive dip. Trust me, you will thank her for this recipe!

Jalapeno Popper Dip

2 8oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
1 4oz can chopped green chilies, drained (and rinsed if needed)
1 4 oz can chopped jalapenos drained
¾ cup mozzarella
½ cup grated Parmesan
¾ cup shredded Parmesan
5 or so shakes Tabasco
Seasoned salt

Pita chips, tortillas chips, or Frito Scoops.

Mix everything and spread in 9x9 pan, bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Serve with pita chips. Watch men swoon.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

French Breakfast Puffs

I dream about these lovely cinnamon darlings. Imagine a muffin and donut having a love child. I'm hosting Mother's Day brunch this year and I think I will treat myself and make these ahead so I can serve a few and stash some in the freezer for later!

French Breakfast Puffs

3 cups Flour
3 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoons Ground Nutmeg
1 cup Sugar
⅔ cups Shortening (Crisco)
2 whole Eggs
1 cup Milk
1-½ cup Sugar
3 teaspoons Cinnamon
2 sticks Butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups.
In a large bowl stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.
In a different bowl, cream together 1 cup sugar and shortening. Then add eggs and mix again. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.
Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden.
In a bowl, melt 2 sticks butter. In a separate bowl combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Dip baked muffins in butter, coating thoroughly, then coat with cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pasta n' Lentils

So I'm hoping to raise kids that love lentils. Honestly, if they loved making their beds, homework and their mother forever - then I'd be okay if they skipped the lentils but a mom can dream...I've been challenging myself to create more meatless meals and just may adopt the meatless Monday dinner routine. I think the addition of some browned Italian sausage would give this dish great depth but it was a surprising hit without it.

Pasta n' Lentils

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 - 2 (19 ounce) cans lentil soup - depending on how much sauce you want
1 cup crushed tomatoes (can also use diced tomatoes - do not drain)
1/2 pkg. (5 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach or package of fresh baby spinach
1 (16 ounce) package ditalini pasta or small pasta (I use whole wheat)
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 pinch crushed red pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese to taste

Saute onion and garlic in oil over medium heat. Stir in lentil soup and tomatoes. Bring to boil. Stir in spinach and spices. Simmer.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until almost done. Drain. Mix pasta into lentil sauce. Cover, and keep warm a few minutes allowing sauce to mingle with the pasta. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spicy Beef with Parsley Tomato Sauce

I love the idea of family Sunday dinners. I imagine a large extended family sitting around a bountiful table - laughing, sipping wine, swapping stories. Very Norman Rockwell. However my Sundays now consist of many things - car wash, grocery shopping, multiple soccer games, etc. and Sunday has not lent itself to slaving in the kitchen all day. With this recipe, I can dish up a true Sunday dinner in no time. The flavorful sauce is what makes this recipe fabulous. A baked potato and salad would complete the meal.

Spicy Beef with Parsley Tomato Sauce

Roast Beef:
1 (2 to 2 1/2-pound) sirloin tip or chuck beef roast
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 Roma tomatoes, cut in 1/2
2 teaspoons herbs de Provence
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Spicy Parsley Tomato Sauce:
1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

To make the beef roast, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Season the beef with salt and pepper. Season the tomatoes with salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence.

Place a medium, heavy roasting pan or Dutch oven over high heat. Heat the olive oil. Sear the beef over high heat on all sides. Turn off heat. Place the seasoned tomatoes around the seared beef and place the pan in the oven. Roast until a meat thermometer reads 130 degrees F. for medium rare, 135 for medium, about 30 to 40 minutes. Take the roast out of the oven, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. The internal temperature of the meat should rise 5 degrees F more and the juices will redistribute into the roast.

To make the sauce, place the parsley and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the parsley is finely chopped. Add the red pepper flakes, salt, red wine vinegar and the roasted tomatoes from the beef pan and process until pureed. Add the olive oil in a steady stream with the machine running.

To serve, slice the roast and place on a serving platter. Drizzle a little sauce over the meat. Serve the remaining sauce in a small bowl alongside.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pecan Bars

While on a roadtrip through Georgia, we passed dozens of signs advertising locally-owned pecan farms. I then spent the next five hours dreaming of pecan bars I had made for a family reunion several years ago. My food-editor relative dubbed them sublime but I cannot take credit. These bars are a classic Barefoot Contessa recipe but they are indeed a true showstopper. While a bit more labor intensive than my recent dump-and-bake cake recipes, these are oh-so-worth it. Don't bypass the citrus in the recipe because it really adds something special to these beauties. This recipe makes a large pan (larger than 9x13) and they are rich so plan on serving this to a lucky crowd.

Pecan Bars

1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 pound unsalted butter
1 cup honey
3 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 pounds pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. You may want to line the bottom of the oven with aluminum foil since the filling can drip.

For the crust, beat the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until light, approximately 3 minutes. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 18 by 12 by 1-inch baking sheet, making an edge around the outside. It will be very sticky; sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Allow to cool.

For the topping, combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, and zests in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the heavy cream and pecans. This will be wicked hot so carefully pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Not Your Average Chocolate Cake

I'm now rethinking the title of my blog and maybe it should be titled "Another Chocolate Cake Recipe" but when I find one that's a keeper, I cannot resist. Really this is another box cake with lots of bad-for-you stuff added but it's delicious and I'll get many requests from the kids to make this. I first had this in Florida and it was a "cake for grandkids" but the adults are eating it up. Many thanks to my mom's friend Betty who was kind enough to share this gem.

Betty's Cake

1 box Devil's Food Cake
1 small pkg. instant chocolate pudding
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix everything together and pour into a bundt pan. Bake 50-55 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Cool hour on cooling rack then turn out. Dust with powered sugar.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hot Chicken Salad

There's a little place in our neighborhood that's a quintessential ladies lunch spot and they are know for their hot chicken salad. The last time I frequented this little gem, I swore I'd get a respectable ladies salad for lunch but who can resist this delectable salad? The owner did not divulge the recipe but I guess this is the next best thing. Served with some fresh fruit this is a would be a lovely dish to serve your ladies.

Hot Chicken and Rice Salad

2 cups cooked chicken, diced
1 cup celery, diced
2 cups of cooked rice
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup fresh mushroom, sliced
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup corn flakes
1 (4 oz) pkg slice almonds

In a bowl combine chicken, celery, rice, mayonnaise, mushrooms, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cream of chicken soup. Mix ingredients until well combined.
Pour mixture into sprayed 9 x 13 inch dish and spread out evenly in the dish.
Combine corn flakes and butter until corn flakes are well coated with butter.
Spoon corn flake mixture evenly over chicken/rice mixture.
Place dish in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.
Remove dish from oven and sprinkle with sliced almonds.
Place dish back into oven for 5 more minutes. Serves 6-8.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Cake

I made this many years ago for a dear friend's birthday and it was a memorable treat. Chocolate cake from a box? I can handle that. And peanut butter mousse? Sounds very chefy, right? If you cannot manage to properly frost a layer cake, try the parfait version below because your friends and family will love you either way. Your hips? Well, that's another story.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Cake

1 (18.25-ounce) package devil's food cake mix without pudding
2 1/2 cups whipping cream, divided
1 (10-ounce) package peanut butter morsels
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
Garnish: chopped roasted peanuts

Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Pour into 2 lightly greased 8-inch round cakepans. Bake according to package directions. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely.

Combine 2/3 cup whipping cream and peanut butter morsels in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until morsels melt and mixture is smooth; remove saucepan from heat. Stir in vanilla extract, and cool 25 minutes.

Beat 1 1/3 cups whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Stir one-third whipped cream into peanut butter mixture. Fold into remaining whipped cream. Spread between cake layers; cover and chill.

Bring remaining 1/2 cup whipping cream and 1 tablespoon butter to a boil in a small saucepan. Add chocolate morsels; remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes. Stir until morsels melt and mixture is smooth.

Pour glaze over cake; garnish, if desired. Serve warm, or chill and serve at room temperature.

OR - if frosting a layer cake is just too much to take...

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Mousse Parfaits: Cut cooled cake layers into cubes. Layer 8 Parfait glasses evenly with two-thirds peanut butter mixture, cake cubes, and half of chocolate mixture. Top with remaining peanut butter mixture and chocolate mixture; sprinkle each parfait with chopped peanuts, if desired.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Olive Cheese Bread

Get out those stretchy pants and pray for forgiveness because this bread is sinfully good. Salty, gooey, delicious and I may not be able to make this again for fear I'd eat the loaf. I made these over the holidays and sliced them as an appetizer since they are so filling.

Olive Cheese Bread

1 loaf French Bread
6 ounces, weight Pimiento-stuffed Green Olives
6 ounces, weight Black Olives
2 stalks Green Onions (scallions)
1 stick Butter, Room Temperature
½ cups Mayonnaise
¾ pounds Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated

Roughly chop both black olives and pimiento-stuffed green olives. Slice green onions into thin pieces. Combine butter, mayonnaise, cheese, olives and green onions in a mixing bowl. Stir together until thoroughly combined. Spread mixture onto French bread that has been sliced lengthwise. Bake at 325ºF for 25 to 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and browning.

Mixture can also be refrigerated up to two days if you're a work ahead gal like myself!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cuban Black Beans

Many many years ago, I hosted a large backyard party of mostly college friends. Being young and ambitious, I decided to tackle an entire Latin-inspired menu from a recent Bon Appetit issue. I'm just tired thinking about that party prep. After convincing my mom to buy me a juicer - and then having her help me juice about 329 limes for various recipes, I regretted not keeping it simple. On the bright side, these beans were a standout and I make them again and again. I love black beans so this is a flavorful side to accompany anything even remotely Latin in flavor.

Cuban Black Beans

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 15- to 16-ounce cans black beans, rinsed, drained
3/4 cup canned vegetable broth or water
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
print a shopping list for this recipe

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic and oregano and sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of beans to pan. Using back of fork, mash beans coarsely. Add remaining beans, broth and vinegar and simmer until mixture thickens and flavors blend, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Mix in sugar, if desired. Season beans to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Broiled Tilapia

After a giant run to Costco recently, I was staring at the frozen fish and trying to convince myself that I'd use up a gazillion pound bag of frozen fish fillets. My answer was sadly no but now that I have this recipe, I will gladly pick up tilapia on my next trip.

Broiled Tilapia

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
2 pounds tilapia fillets

Preheat your oven's broiler. Grease a broiling pan or line pan with aluminum foil.

In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with dried basil, pepper, onion powder and celery salt. Mix well and set aside. Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes. Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to over cook the fish.

Monday, March 1, 2010

BLT Pasta Salad

I admit, sometimes there's nothing better than a BLT sandwich. It's an iconic sandwich because as simple as all the components are, they just work together to make something divine. Well, this salad is a close cousin of the original. And because it's technically called a salad - I feel somewhat better about blissfully consuming bacon.

BLT Pasta Salad

12 ounces corkscrew-shaped pasta
1/2 cup milk
12 ounces lean bacon
3 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons chopped chives or scallion greens
5 heads Bibb lettuce, quartered, or 5 cups chopped romaine hearts

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water as the label directs. Drain and toss with the milk in a large bowl; set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Discard all but 3 tablespoons drippings from the pan. Add the tomatoes, thyme and garlic to the pan and toss until warmed through; season with salt and pepper. Crumble the bacon into bite-size pieces; set aside 1/4 cup for garnish. Toss the remaining bacon and the tomato mixture with the pasta.

Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream and 3 tablespoons chives with the pasta until evenly combined. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lettuce; toss again to coat. Garnish with the reserved bacon and the remaining 1 tablespoon chives. Serve at room temperature.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Snack Cake

I've been so busy at work that I'm dreaming of free time. The kind of free time that entails sitting around watching old movies, doing my nails, organizing my spices and perfecting the perfect buttercream frosting. But alas, time is fleeting so I'll stick to this wonderful pantry cake. No eggs or butter so your vegan friends (and I only have a few) will love it too! Double recipe for a 9x13 that's company worthy!

Angela's Chocolate Snack Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon white or cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup cold water

For us non-vegans - Ice cream or whipped cream, if desired

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease bottom and side of 9-inch round pan or 8-inch square pan with
non-stick spray.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a
small bowl, stir oil, vinegar and vanilla until well mixed. Vigorously
stir oil mixture and oil into flour mixture about 1 minute or until
well blended. Immediately pour into pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out
clean. Cool 15 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired. Serve warm or cool with ice cream.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Roast Chicken

We're on a family vacation at Disney and I'm on day four of Disney park food. While funnel cakes, taffy, corn dogs and the like are nirvana to my kids, I am missing home cooking. Right now I'm dreaming about my own bed and this chicken. It's a very basic recipe that has never let me down and fills your home with the smell of...well, home.

Roast Chicken

1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Spicy Soba Noodles

On a recent snowy Saturday we were cold, hungry and scouring the pantry for lunch ideas. Low and behold, I had everything on hand to make this spicy noodle dish for a quick lunch. Since my new favorite condiment is Sriracha, I'm just finding all sorts of ways to use it and bring a little more spice into my life. I've made many variations on this dish but this version comes together in a snap and is great to keep in the fridge to snack on during a cold weekend!

Spicy Soba Noodles

Kosher salt
8 ounces soba (buckwheat) noodles (can also use whole wheat pasta or whatever you have on hand)
1/4 cup natural crunchy peanut butter (or smooth and just chop some peanuts in)
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Juice of one lime
2 to 3 teaspoons chili sauce (recommended: Sriracha and go easy and start with 2 tsp. and taste)
2 scallions - chopped
1 red pepper - chopped
(I added some chopped cooked pork tenderloin I had left over but could even add cooked chicken or leave vegetarian)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; overt high heat. Add a generous amount of salt and stir in the noodles. Cook according to package instructions; drain and rinse well under cold running water.

Meanwhile, whisk the peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice and chili sauce in a large bowl until smooth. Add the drained noodles, scallions, red pepper and with tongs, toss until coated with the dressing. Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. To serve cold, just loosen noodles with a touch of water.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Asian Salmon

As a youngster, I lived on canned tuna and before that carrots but that a whole other story...My mother claims that at lunchtime I would bring her the tuna can and she'd gladly make me tuna salad. Being a foodie herself, I'm sure she was very happy that the daily request wasn't PB&J. Then my dad, unfortunately, got involved. He proceeded to show me a whole fish skeleton and that was it. I was horrified to learn that my sweet can of deliciousness had originally come from something with nasty, smelly bones?! No more fish for me. For a long time. I've come to my senses and really enjoy seafood but assumed that my kids would not. Boy, I was wrong. My little peanut can eat her weight in fish so I'm trying to find all sorts of kid-friendly flavors and this is Barefoot Contessa recipe is a winner especially when served with some fluffy rice and steamed snow peas.

Asian Salmon

2 1/4 pounds center-cut salmon fillet (1 1/2 inches thick)
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce (go easy because it's salty)
1 tablespoon toasted (dark) sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons chili paste (I used Srircha Hot Chili Sauce - a new fav)
1/2 cup sliced scallions (2 scallions)
2 tablespoons minced garlic (8 large cloves)
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

Line an 8 by 12-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Place the salmon in the pan.

In a mixing cup, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, lemon juice, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, scallions, garlic, and ginger. Pour 1/3 of soy sauce mixture over the salmon fillet. Sprinkle the panko evenly over the fillet. Pour the rest of the soy sauce mixture evenly over the panko. Be sure to soak the panko completely and if any runs off, spoon back onto the salmon. Set aside for 15 minutes, leaving all the sauce in the pan.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Roast the salmon for 18 to 20 minutes, or for about 12 minutes per inch at the thickest part of the salmon. The internal temperature will be 120 degrees F on a meat thermometer when it's done. Remove from the oven, wrap tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Texas Black Eye Pea Salad/Dip

Happy New Year! Like many of you, I'm not sad to see 2009 go and hope 2010 will be filled with better things for all. Let this little salad/dip be one of the better things. Very similar to my black bean salad, this is an keeper and was a great dish to serve on New Year's Day to usher in a new year filled with good health and prosperity. Well, at least I'd like to believe this quick salad did the trick! In any case, it got rave reviews at a recent party so I'll opt to keep this one in my repertoire. I tend to serve this with tortilla chips but it would be a great side as well.

Texas Black Eye Pea Salad/Dip

2 cans (drained and rinsed) black eye peas
8 green onions, finely chopped
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/2 - 2/3 of a bottle of spicy Italian dressing (your favorite variety)
juice of one lime

Combine all ingredients, except lime juice, in a bowl and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. When ready to serve, I dumped the mixture into a fine colander to help drain excess dressing (there's a lot!) and then added lime juice. Serve with tortilla chips like "Scoops" to gather all the goodness!