Saturday, December 19, 2009

An ingredient you might not expect

My husband loved eating these butterscotch jumbles when he was growing up. He was excited for our little family to make them this year. The ingredients may seem a little strange, but they are really quite good and have a nice crunch. Plus, they are incredibly easy to make.

THE RECIPE:

1 package butterscotch chips
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
6 ounces roasted, salted peanuts
5 ounces chow mein noodles

Melt together butterscotch chips and peanut butter in microwave on reduced power, stirring frequently. Add peanuts, then chow mein noodles. Spread on foil-lined cookie sheet, then refrigerate until firm. Break into pieces.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A marvelous mistake

I started out making fudge -- white chocolate cherry cheesecake fudge. I had seen the recipe in the Deseret News and had to try it. It was the easiest thing ever to throw together. The problem is, my fudge didn't set. Instead, it was more like thick frosting, but it tasted delicious to say the least. All I can figure is that I didn't drain the cherries well enough. Anyway, I got creative and decided to use my "fudge" as a filling for mini tarts. I thought about giving some to the neighbors, but then I ate them all. Give it a shot. If you end up with fudge, great! If not, you know what to do. Or just eat it with a spoon. It's that good.

THE RECIPE:

1 pound white chocolate in chunks, or real white chocolate chips
8 ounces cream cheese
1 c. drained maraschino cherries, quartered

Carefully melt chocolate in double boiler or in microwave on half power, stirring frequently. Place cream cheese in bowl and microwave about 1 minute to soften. Beat cream cheese, then add white chocolate and blend well. Fold in cherries. Spread in 8x8 pan that's been buttered or lined with foil or plastic wrap. Chill several hours or overnight, until firm. Store, covered, in refrigerator.

Tart shells:

1/2 c. butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 c. flour
1 Tbsp. sugar

Beat butter and cream cheese until combined. Add sugar, then flour. Press pastry evenly into bottom and up sides of ungreased mini-muffin tins. Bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes (I think -- maybe start watching a few minutes early and get them out when they are golden). If you don't have mini-muffin tins, maybe just try regular ones. I bet it would be great. You'd just put a lot more filling in them, but it would be delicious that way!

Fill tart shells with "fudge" and refrigerate until ready to use.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A surprise inside

These pumpkin cupcakes are divine. I stuffed myself with them. They have a sweetened cream cheese filling and a crispy streusel topping. I can't imagine anyone not liking these. Plus, 'tis the season for all things pumpkin. As is the case with much of the food I make, I got this recipe from My Kitchen Cafe.

THE RECIPE:

Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 c. powdered sugar

Cupcakes:
3 c. flour
2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. cloves
3/4 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 eggs
1 1/4 c. oil (I used canola)
2 c. sugar
2 c. pumpkin puree

Streusel:
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. flour
4 Tbsp. cold butter, cut up
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

To prepare filling, whip cream cheese with powdered sugar until smooth. Form into a log on plastic wrap or greased foil, ensuring that diameter is small enough to fit into well of muffin tin. Wrap tightly and freeze about 2 hours, or until slightly hardened.

To make cupcakes, mix dry and wet ingredients separately, then mix together until just combined.

To make streusel, mix ingredients with pastry blender or fork until you have crumbs.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Fill each well a third of the way with batter. Remove cream cheese log from freezer and cut into 24 slices. Place each slice on top of batter in wells and press down gently. Divide remaining batter over tops of cream cheese slices. Sprinkle with streusel. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into top part of cupcake comes out with moist crumbs. Cool completely before serving.

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's OK to eat with your hands

These chicken taquitos make a fun, quick and delicious dinner. I am a huge fan! Even kids seem to like them. Plus, they're baked instead of fried, which increases their health value. You could make the filling ahead of time and refrigerate it. I got the recipe from My Kitchen Cafe, although I tweaked it according to the ingredients I had on hand. Dip them in salsa, sour cream and guacamole.

THE RECIPE:

4 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. green salsa (I used red)
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro*
1 green onion, finely sliced
2 c. chopped cooked chicken
1 c. shredded cheese

Corn tortillas
Salt
Cooking spray

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Mix filling ingredients in order. Place three tortillas between damp paper towels and microwave for 45 seconds until really pliable. Place about 3 Tbsp. mixture near edge of tortilla and roll up fairly tightly. Place seam-side down on baking sheet. Spray tops lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. (The original recipe recommends kosher salt.) Bake about 15 minutes, or until crispy and golden on edges.

*I didn't have cilantro, but they were still delicious. I love cilantro, though, so I will try it next time.

Stuff yourself with this

I made this stuffing, along with some creamed corn, for Thanksgiving this year. My husband said it was his favorite dish of the day. It has an excellent homemade -- kind of gourmet -- taste brought on, I think, by the use of sourdough bread. I'm not normally a fan of sourdough, but this really is wonderful. You can't go wrong with the other ingredients, either -- spinach, cashews, bacon. It's a winner! By the way, the recipe came from Smitten Kitchen.

THE RECIPE:

1/2 pound bacon, sliced crosswise into 1-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 c. chopped red onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
7 1/2 ounces fresh spinach, trimmed and coarsely chopped (7 cups)
5 c. country-style sourdough bread cubes*
1 c. salted, roasted cashews/pieces
1/4 c. melted butter
1/2 c. plus 1/8 c. chicken broth

Lightly toast bread cubes for a few minutes under a broiler set to low. You want them kind of dry and crispy. Then preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook bacon in skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towel to drain. Reserve about 3 tablespoons bacon grease in skillet. Add onion, celery, salt and pepper to skillet. Saute a few minutes, until tender. Add garlic and saute a minute more. Transfer mixture to large bowl, then stir in spinach, bread, cashews, butter, broth and bacon. Put stuffing in greased 9x13 pan, then bake uncovered for about 25 minutes. Stuffing is best reheated in oven, as microwave makes the bread chewy.

*Country-style bread is dense and stiff with a hard crust. I used La Brea's country sourdough, which I got at Albertson's. You don't have to use that, but just be sure not to get a light, soft, airy bread.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Southern treat

Have you ever heard of chocolate chess pie? I hadn't, until maybe a year ago. I guess it's a Southern thing. It's really, really good. It has a crispy, brownie-type top with a chocolate custard filling.

This recipe, which supposedly comes from the award-winning Angus Barn in North Carolina, is easy to throw together. The only hard part is that you want it to cook just the right amount of time so the filling will set properly. I think I undercooked mine slightly because the middle was a bit runny. Or maybe I didn't let it sit long enough after it finished cooking. That's the other must. Don't worry, though, because it tastes good no matter what you do to it. I served mine with homemade cinnamon whipped cream. Oh, and I just used a store-bought pie crust, but feel free to make your own.


THE RECIPE:

1 unbaked pie shell
1/2 c. butter
2 squares Baker's semi-sweet chocolate (1 ounce each)
1 c. sugar
2 beaten eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
Dash of salt

If you're using a store-bought crust, follow directions on package. (For example, set shell on cookie sheet and let thaw 15 minutes.) Melt together butter and chocolate. Add remaining ingredients. Pour batter into pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. It feels jiggly when you pull it out. Let pie sit AT LEAST 30 minutes -- I'd recommend more -- before slicing into it. You must resist the temptation. Serve with cinnamon whipped cream.

*Note: Do not bake more than one pie at a time. I tried baking two, and for some reason they kind of explode on themselves, which requires you to take them out early and leave them undercooked.

Cinnamon whipped cream:

1/2 c. whipping cream
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

Beat together ingredients with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Makes 1 cup.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Eat your veggies

I love to dip bread in soup. One of my favorite things to dip is garlic toast. I cut French bread about a half-inch thick, spread real butter on it, sprinkle garlic powder on top, then broil it. I then proceed to eat at least five slices with my soup -- no joke. It complements any creamy soup magnificently. Wanna try? Here's a recipe for cream of vegetable soup. My kids gobbled it up -- even the picky 1-year-old, who won't eat vegetables to save her life. Tweak the recipe according to what vegetables you have on hand.

THE RECIPE:

1/2 c. roughly chopped onion
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 Tbsp. butter
6 c. chicken broth
1 c. dried split peas
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. rosemary
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
3 smallish potatoes, cut into chunks
1 c. milk (I used whole)

Saute onion and celery in butter in bottom of pot. Add broth, peas and seasonings. Bring to boil, then cover and simmer about 10 minutes. Add carrots and potatoes, then simmer about 20 minutes more, or until vegetables fall off fork when pierced. Add milk. In blender, puree soup in batches, then mix together again in a different pot or bowl. Be careful when blending hot liquids. Leave the lid partially off for steam to escape or you'll get a volcano effect.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Orange you glad you saw this?

If your sweet tooth is in the mood for something different, try this orange-flavored cream cheese frosting. I threw together a carrot cake from a mix and topped it with this delectable treat. The frosting was the best part. If I had had a real orange on hand, I would have sprinkled orange zest on the finished product. Keep this recipe in mind for spice cake, carrot cake, pumpkin desserts -- anything really.

THE RECIPE:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter or spread, softened
2 tsp. orange extract*
6 c. powdered sugar (more or less)

Beat cream cheese, butter and extract with mixer. Gradually add powdered sugar to reach spreading consistency. This is enough to frost the tops and sides of two 9-inch layers. You could easily halve it if desired.

*It's fun to keep a few different extracts on hand to experiment with.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Highly appetizing appetizer

These stuffed mushrooms are so wonderful. I just love them. Sometimes I crave them. I've been making them for years, and I have heard only compliments -- even from people who say they usually don't like mushrooms. Everyone thinks they are SO good and asks how to make them. They are incredibly easy. I got the recipe from my cousins, so the credit goes to them!

THE RECIPE:

4 8-oz. packages whole mushrooms
1 16-oz. roll uncooked pork sausage*
8 oz. plain reduced-fat cream cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix softened cream cheese with uncooked sausage. Scrub your hands well, and then dive in! Rinse mushrooms and twist out stems. Spoon filling into mushrooms, then arrange in rimmed, ungreased pan lined with foil for easier cleanup. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Sausage will get cooked through and be nicely browned on top.

*I used Farmland original pork sausage, because I got a good deal. My cousins use Jimmy Dean hot sausage.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween snack

No sense in throwing away perfectly edible pumpkin seeds after carving a pumpkin, right? These are flavorful and crunchy and savory -- a snack my whole family loves.

THE RECIPE:

2 c. pumpkin seeds, rinsed and patted dry
1 1/2 Tbsp. melted butter OR olive oil
2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. paprika

Toss pumpkin seeds thoroughly with other ingredients. Spread out on cookie sheet. Bake at 275 degrees for 1 hour, stirring about every 15 minutes. They will seem done before the hour is up, but the longer they cook, the crunchier they will be, rather than chewy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hot fudge, anyone?

This hot fudge cake is fabulous. It's a great recipe to have on hand if you're craving chocolate. I got it from the Hershey's website. It is a pudding cake, so you pour hot water over the top before baking, and it soaks through and makes its own sauce. The result is chocolate cake floating in a sea of hot fudge sauce -- all in one pan. You might accidentally eat the whole thing. Oh, and by the way, it's a great dessert option when you're out of eggs, because the recipe doesn't call for any.

THE RECIPE:

1 1/4 c. granulated sugar, divided
1 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa powder, divided
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. milk
1/3 c. butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 1/4 c. hot water

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine 3/4 cup granulated sugar, flour, 1/4 cup cocoa, baking powder and salt. Stir in milk, butter and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Spread batter into ungreased 9-inch square baking dish.

Stir together remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar and remaining 1/4 cup cocoa. Sprinkle mixture evenly over batter. Pour hot water over top. Do not stir.

Bake about 35 minutes. The top will look like the top of a cake, but it will seem wobbly and jiggly because it is floating in sauce. This is the way you want it. If you overcook it, the cake will absorb the sauce and be dry. Let stand 15 minutes before eating.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fluff 'n stuff

This honey butter is so delicious, I kind of wanted to eat it with a spoon. I refrained, though, and instead spread it on corn bread. I can't get over how fluffy and creamy it is. The original recipe came from My Kitchen Cafe, but I adjusted the honey-to-butter ratio to suit my taste.

THE RECIPE:

3/4 c. butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. marshmallow cream

Beat ingredients until fluffy and creamy. Use as desired.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Award winner

I won third place at our church's chili cook-off with this cilantro-lime chili. Person after person told me how much they loved it, which made me feel so good! I also love that it is a vegetarian dish, but no one notices. It tastes best after it has been refrigerated and then reheated. I used bell peppers and tomatoes from my garden, which you may not have, so feel free to tweak the recipe to your liking.

THE RECIPE:

Splash of olive oil
1 large bell pepper, cleaned out and chopped
5 c. chopped fresh tomato*
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can fat-free refried beans
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, drained
2 packages taco seasoning
1 package dry Italian dressing
1 tsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 c. beef broth
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. lime juice
1/2 bunch cilantro (stems removed), finely chopped
Avocado, if desired
Chips, if desired

Over medium-high heat, cook peppers in olive oil for a couple of minutes. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper, beans, corn, seasonings, vinegar, broth and brown sugar. Mix well, then bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Stir in lime juice and cilantro. Cook 10 minutes more. Cool and refrigerate for a few hours. Reheat and serve with sliced avocado and crushed tortilla chips.

*Note: I have made this twice. The first time, I added an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce. The second time I did not, because my tomatoes were very ripe and meaty and juicy. So, basically, do whatever you want.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fajita fiesta

We made some really yummy chicken fajitas the other night. One of the best parts was a big old helping of fresh fried bell peppers from our garden. They added a light crunch and a nice punch of flavor. The other tasty part was the creamy sauce for the chicken. We just mixed salsa with cream cheese, and it tasted great.

THE RECIPE:

Sliced bell peppers
Splash of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
2 chicken breasts, sliced into inch-wide strips
1/4 c. cream cheese, softened*
1 c. salsa*
Tortillas
Desired toppings (chopped tomato, avocado)

In frying pan, toss peppers with olive oil, salt and pepper, and garlic powder. Fry over medium heat until crisp-tender. It takes about ten minutes. Meanwhile, in a different pan, cook chicken, then toss with cream cheese and salsa until well coated. Layer chicken and sauce, then peppers and additional toppings on a tortilla. Wrap it up, and enjoy!

*Note: I'm not sure about the amounts I used for my sauce, so this is just a guess. The consistency of your salsa will make a difference. It should be pink when it's ready.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Have a nice soak

If you need an easy and yummy marinade for chicken or turkey, here's one with a teriyaki taste. It's simple to throw together, and you can let it soak for as long as you want (at least an hour, though). You have the option of cooking your meat in the marinade or tossing the marinade and cooking the meat by itself.

THE RECIPE:

3/4 c. lemon-lime soda
1/3 c. oil (I used canola)
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Mix ingredients in sealable plastic bag or container, then add raw chicken or turkey and toss to coat. Refrigerate for desired amount of time before cooking.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Put the lime in the coconut

I had leftover coconut milk frosting after making coconut cake, so I got creative and paired it with these lime cookies. I sang that Harry Nilsson song as I worked: "She put the lime in the coconut; she drank 'em both up... ." I had some good shoulder-shaking going on. Everyone seemed to like the results (the cookies, not the dancing).

THE RECIPE:

3/4 c. butter, softened
2 c. sugar
2 limes, zest and juice
1/2 c. sour cream
3 drops green food coloring, if desired
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 1/2 c. flour

Beat together butter, sugar and lime zest. Add sour cream, food coloring, then eggs yolks and lime juice (it amounted to 4 tablespoons of juice for me). Add dry ingredients, then refrigerate dough at least one hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (this is not required, but the cookies stick otherwise). Shape dough into balls and place on baking sheets. The cookies took about 16 minutes in my oven.

You don't want them to turn golden or they'll be crunchy when they're cool. If you see a golden color creeping out around the edges, get them out right away. They still look puffed and doughy when you pull them out, but they flatten as they cool. This way, they will stay soft even after they've cooled.

Coconut frosting:

1 can coconut milk, well chilled
3 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Plan ahead, and put the coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight or for at least four hours. The cream separates from the oil and rises to the top. (Reserve oil for another use if desired.) Beat coconut cream with powdered sugar and vanilla until thickened.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Creamy, dreamy coconut

Everyone commented on this coconut milk cake after tasting it a few nights ago at a family get-together. They all said they loved the taste and liked that it was "something different." I like the flavor of coconut -- fresh coconut, coconut milk -- but I despise dried, flaked coconut. I'm cringing at the thought of it. So I catered this cake to my taste. If you want to decorate yours with dried coconut, knock yourself out.

THE RECIPE:

1 white cake mix
1 package coconut pudding mix (I used Jell-O brand)
1 can coconut milk, refrigerated for several hours*
1 c. sour cream
3/4 c. oil (I used canola)
4 eggs
3 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix dry ingredients. Open can of coconut milk and scoop out cream. Cream rises to the top during refrigeration. About half the can will be cream. Set cream aside. Measure remaining coconut liquid and add water to equal 3/4 cup. Add liquid to dry ingredients, along with sour cream, oil and eggs. Mix well, then pour into desired pan/pans (sprayed with cooking spray). Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Don't overbake or cake will be dry. As soon as toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, take the cake out. Meanwhile, beat coconut cream with powdered sugar and vanilla until thickened. Use icing as desired.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The taste of fall

We grew acorn squash this year. We grew it last year, too. And we're going to grow it again next year. That's because it's so good. We like to make it into a sweet puree and serve it as a side dish. It would be fabulous for Thanksgiving. If you don't want a sweetened version, make a savory one by seasoning it with salt and pepper. Or use your puree to thicken a soup. It's up to you. Below are the directions for making brown sugar acorn squash puree.

THE RECIPE:

2 whole acorn squashes*
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 c. brown sugar
Ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place whole acorn squashes on baking sheet. (This is the way to go. In the past I've cut them in half before baking, but they are a lot easier to cut when they're soft.) Bake for about an hour, turning over once after 30 minutes. Squash is done when it is easily pierced through with the tip of a paring knife. Let cool for a few minutes, then slice in half and scoop out and discard seeds. Scoop out flesh and place in mixing bowl or food processor. Add butter and brown sugar, then mix thoroughly. Sprinkle ground cinnamon on top of individual servings.

*This recipe works well with butternut squash, too. Adjust ingredient amounts according to squash size.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Health food

This is the way my cousin eats a tuna fish "sandwich" -- inside a raw bell pepper. She really loves it. I thought we'd give it a try with the peppers from our garden. I'm sorry to say that my husband thought our meal tasted like grass. My 4-year-old had a few bites, so she must have thought it was fine. I thought it was OK -- it definitely tasted healthy -- but maybe a red pepper would have been more to my liking. If you are a fan of raw peppers (maybe you are someone who puts them on veggie trays) you will like this.

THE RECIPE:

2 cans tuna fish, drained
Mayonnaise
Splash of lemon juice
Salt and pepper
2 whole bell peppers

Mix tuna with your desired amount of mayo, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Slice bell peppers in half. Remove seeds and membranes. Spread tuna mixture into bell pepper halves.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Can't go wrong with cantaloupe

I can't think of a more refreshing summer treat than homemade sorbet. This is my third time making it this summer. I'm sure you remember the watermelon sorbet from a while back. This time the fruit of choice was cantaloupe. It's lovely and delicious. Wouldn't it be fabulous to make both kinds and mingle little scoops of pink and peach in the same bowl?

THE RECIPE:

2 ripe cantaloupes
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 c. sugar

Puree cantaloupe flesh in blender or food processor. Add juices and sugar, then blend well. For best results, pour into an ice cream maker. Or pour in 9x13 metal pan, cover with plastic wrap or foil, then freeze until firm. Let it sit out until the block softens enough to cut up and puree again. You don't want it to melt. My blender is too weak to puree frozen things, and I don't have a large food processor, so I used my hand mixer. Put sorbet in a freezer-safe container, then refreeze. Let it sit out just until it's scoopable. Makes a half-gallon.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Eat your oats

I'm excited to have another great breakfast dish. I loved topping my baked oatmeal with fresh blueberries. The nice thing about this dish is that it's incredibly versatile. Tweak it to your liking. The recipe came from my cousin's food blog, Table for 7.

THE RECIPE:

2 c. oats (either old-fashioned or quick)
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. milk
1 egg
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 c. mashed banana or unsweetened applesauce (I used banana)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, then mix together. Pour into 8x8 baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes. (I actually had to cook mine for 35 minutes.) Serve with milk and your choice of fruit.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tangy tilapia

This recipe for tilapia with roasted corn came to me by way of my sister-in-law Jennifer, who I think found it online. We loved this recipe, and my favorite part was how extremely easy it was to put together. The lime juice really makes this dish.

THE RECIPE:

4-6 tilapia fillets, completely thawed
1/3 c. mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. corn (frozen or canned)
Juice of one lime (about 3 Tbsp.)

Preheat broiler on high. Mix mayo, chili and onion powders, and salt. Spray pan or baking sheet with cooking spray. Place tilapia fillets in pan, then spread mayo mixture over all. Top with corn. (No need to thaw frozen corn. Drain canned corn.) Broil for 10 minutes on middle oven rack, or until fish flakes easily and corn is browned. Squeeze lime juice evenly over all.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A spoonful of pesto

Ah, pesto. It's beautiful, isn't it? We make it fresh, using basil from our garden. Its smell is beyond wonderful, and its taste is even better. We can't get enough of it.

THE RECIPE:
2 1/2 c. packed basil leaves
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. pine nuts (or a couple of tablespoons)
3/4 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese

Mix all ingredients in food processor. Store in air-tight container in refrigerator or put in freezer bags and freeze.
To make bruschetta, spread pesto on a slice of French bread, top with tomato slices and cheese, then toast under the broiler. It's divine!

We used a bunch of our freshly made pesto to make creamy pesto pasta. It was so delicious, I wanted to eat it until I exploded.

THE RECIPE:

8 oz. pasta, cooked and drained*
2 chicken breasts, seasoned with lemon pepper, cooked and chopped
1 c. prepared pesto
3/4 c. mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 c. frozen peas, thawed
1/3 c. pine nuts, toasted under broiler (watch them closely)

Toss ingredients in a large bowl while chicken and noodles are still hot. Enjoy!

*I used elbow pasta, but I think something like bowtie would look nicer -- not that it matters for taste.

PESTO ROCKS!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Add some zest to your life

This lemon cake is fabulous. It got some rave reviews last week when I made it for a family get-together in California. My brother-in-law even said he'd like me to make it for his birthday and mail it to him. I'm sure it would look quite appealing after that. Anyway, you've got to try it. It's a great summertime dessert. It's moist and tangy, and the frosting is divine. The whole thing tastes like lemonade. Once again, I adapted the recipe from one at My Kitchen Cafe.

THE RECIPE:

Cake:

1 box lemon cake mix
1 small box instant lemon pudding
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. lemon juice
3/4 c. oil (I used canola)
4 eggs

Mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour into greased pan/pans. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. You don't want to overbake or the cake will be dry. Just watch it, and as soon as a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean, you're good to go. Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting:

1 c. butter, softened
6-8 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest

Beat 4 c. powdered sugar into butter. Add juice and zest, then mix until creamy. Add powdered sugar until you reach desired stiffness. It is fabulous with a light, whipped texture, but you need it to be stiff if you are frosting a layer cake or else the top layer will slide off. Garnish as desired. Serve either at room temperature or chilled.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Scone me


Psst. Psst. If you're reading this just as it's posting, you're up too early. But that means that you still have time to wake up your family — the late risers — with the smell of freshly fried scones.

I wanted to surprise Marie with a tasty breakfast on Mother's Day, so this is what she got — fried dough with delicious cinnamon honey butter.

I stole borrowed this recipe from Taste and Tell, a blog I stumbled upon. You get a story with every recipe.

Our story is simple: We loved, loved, loved these scones. Simple, a little time-consuming, but totally worth waiting for.


THE RECIPE:

2 pkg. dry yeast
1/2 c. water
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. boiling water
1/2 c. butter
2 tsp. salt
3 eggs, beaten
5 c. flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, pour the boiling water over the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, the butter and the salt. Add eggs and mix well. Add yeast mixture and 2 cups of flour. Beat with mixer until smooth. Add the remaining flour and mix in. Let rise for one hour and then refrigerate 30 minutes.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough about 1/4 inch and cut into 3-inch squares. Fry in hot oil until brown, then flip and fry until both sides are browned and puffy.

Serve with butter and honey, jam, coated with granulated sugar, or make your own cinnamon honey butter while you wait for the dough to chill.

Cinnamon honey butter:

1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. honey
1 tsp. cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and whip with a mixer until light and fluffy. Try not to eat it all before the scones are ready.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Banana-rama

This banana bread is wonderful. I liked it the best out of three different recipes I tried in the past three weeks. See, I got a ton of bananas when they were on sale for 25 cents a pound. No one's complaining around here, though. Banana bread is a hit at our house. I got this recipe from My Kitchen Cafe. The sour cream makes it very moist and delicious.

THE RECIPE:

1 c. sugar
1/2 c. oil (I used canola)
2 eggs
1 c. mashed banana (about 3 bananas)
1/2 c. sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour (I used whole wheat for half)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together sugar and oil. Add eggs, bananas, sour cream and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour, baking soda and salt. Stir just until moistened. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A reason to get up in the morning

Have you ever had eggs Benedict? I hadn't. Neither had my husband. That's why he wanted it for Father's Day breakfast. I have to say it is incredibly delicious! I never would have guessed it. In fact, I wasn't all that excited. But now I am. I wouldn't mind making this every week! It's so easy and versatile. For example, eggs Benedict are traditionally made with poached eggs and Canadian-style bacon. But you can just as easily -- and deliciously -- make them with fried eggs and ham. Try them, try them, Sam-I-Am!

THE RECIPE:

Eggs, fried or poached (directions below)
English muffins, split, toasted and lightly buttered if desired
Slices of Canadian bacon or ham, heated
Hollandaise sauce, a must-have (directions below)

Place ham on muffin. Top with egg, then sauce. Serve warm.

Poached eggs:

Lightly grease medium skillet. Fill halfway with water. Bring to boiling, then reduce heat to simmering. Bubbles should begin to break water's surface. Break egg into measuring cup. Carefully slide egg into simmering water. Repeat with remaining eggs. Simmer, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until whites are completely set and yolks begin to thicken but are not hard. Remove with slotted spoon.

Hollandaise sauce:

Option 1 -- Buy a packet of powdered mix, which requires you to add milk and a little butter. That's what we did. You'll find it with the other gravy and dressing packets.

Option 2 -- Make your own. There are tons of recipes online.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer refresher

This is adapted from an online recipe for watermelon sorbet. It is very easy, and it makes a unique, delicious and refreshing dessert -- perfect for summertime! I added mini chocolate chips because, well, I'm obsessed with chocolate. Plus, they add a little texture and look kind of like watermelon seeds. The sorbet is great without them, too. You could mix the chips into the sorbet, but I sprinkled them on afterward. I scooped my sorbet with a melon baller for fancy presentation.

THE RECIPE:

5 lbs. seedless watermelon, cut into small chunks (about 6 cups)
1/4 c. sugar
3 Tbsp. lime juice
Pinch salt
1/2 c. light corn syrup OR sweetened condensed milk

Puree watermelon in blender. You should end up with 4 cups of puree/juice. In saucepan, bring 1 cup puree, sugar and lime juice to simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. It's hard to tell when it's dissolved, so just know it takes a few minutes. Season with salt. Pour in remaining puree, then whisk in corn syrup OR condensed milk, whichever you chose. Pour mixture into metal pan, cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.

Let pan sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes. Using a butter knife, break up frozen puree into chunks and blend again. You could use a food processor or hand mixer, but a blender is horrible. Trust me. You could serve it soft like this, or if you want to be able to scoop it, put it in a freezer-safe container and refreeze until firm. Each time you get it out, you'll have to let it sit for a few minutes before scooping.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Any favorite crust recipes out there?

Isn't pizza wonderful? I can't think of anyone who doesn't like it. We decided to make our own pizzas the other night, but we didn't have time to wait for dough to rise. Therefore, I went to the Web for a quick and easy recipe for no-yeast crust. It was completely easy to make, and it tasted fine, but I didn't like it well enough to make it again. Our main enjoyment was in making the pizzas and adding all the toppings. Do any of you have a favorite pizza crust recipe you can share?

THE RECIPE:

2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2/3 c. milk
1/4 c. cooking oil
2 Tbsp. cooking oil

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Combine ingredients (except 2 Tbsp. oil) in bowl and mix well. Knead dough in bowl ten times, then split into two balls. On lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a 13-inch circle. Place on pan and turn up edges about a half-inch and pinch. Brush with remaining oil. Add desired toppings. Ours took 25 minutes to bake.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Homemade heaven

This recipe makes a fabulous brownie. It's a nice change from the gooey, rich brownies that come from a mix or from other recipes. These brownies have a stiffer, fudgier inside and a lighter, crispier outside. They are made with butter, not oil. They only have a few basic ingredients, so they are a snap to throw together. I got the recipe from my sister's in-laws. Be advised that the batter is almost as delicious as the brownies. It tastes like whipped frosting.

THE RECIPE:

1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
4 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1/3 to 1/2 c. cocoa powder

Start at the beginning and add ingredients one by one to bowl, mixing with electric beaters as you go. Spread into 9 x 13 pan greased with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. Note: I often make half the recipe and put it in an 8 x 8 pan.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

This is dill-icious!

We loved this cucumber-dill sauce with our poached salmon. It was delicious! This is a fantastic way to serve fish. The recipe came from none other than Market Street Grill (a Utah hotspot for seafood) -- right off their website -- so is there any doubt it would be good? You've got to try this.


THE RECIPE:

1 large cucumber
1/3 c. mayo (I used light)
1/3 c. sour cream (I used light)
1/2 tsp. to 3/4 tsp. dried dill weed
1/8 tsp. to 1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Peel and seed cucumber, then puree in food processor or blender. Squeeze out juice. Mix mayo and sour cream. Add pureed cucumber. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate at least four hours before serving. Makes enough for 1 1/2 pounds fish.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Everything but the campfire

This recipe for s'more brownies is on the Kraft Foods website. Click here to find it. They were good, but the marshmallows were so darn sticky. I melted them for too long, though. I guess they were a little easier to cut when they were all the way cooled. Either way, the marshmallows irritated me. And I love marshmallows!

Anyway, I loved the idea of lining the pan with graham crackers. It worked great. My favorite part was the relationship between the grahams and the brownie. You can use a brownie mix instead of the ingredients listed. I put chocolate chips on top instead of chopped-up candy bar.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A few frog eyes never hurt anyone

I've been making this frog-eye salad for years. And I've been eating frog-eye salad for a lifetime. I always loved it when I was young. Part of me thought it might really have frog eyes in it. Feel free to adjust the add-ins to suit your fancy. Just be advised that the recipe requires a lot of refrigeration time.

THE RECIPE:

1/2 c. sugar
1 T. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 20-oz. can pineapple tidbits, juice reserved
1 egg
2 tsp. lemon juice
8 oz. acini di pepe (pasta)
2 cans mandarin oranges, drained
8 oz. whipped topping, such as Cool Whip
3 c. mini marshmallows

In saucepan, stir together sugar, flour and salt. Whisk 1 cup pineapple juice (from can of tidbits) into sugar mixture. Whisk in egg. Cook on medium heat until boiling. Stir in lemon juice. Cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, cook pasta. Rinse with cold water and drain. In large bowl, stir together pasta and juice mixture. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Add pineapple tidbits, orange segments, whipped topping and marshmallows. Mix well. Refrigerate until cold.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A nice "square" meal

Have you ever bought frozen Maddox turkey steaks? They are really good. (Maddox is a restaurant in northern Utah, but their steaks are sold in the freezer section at stores.) They are great dipped in honey or Thousand Island dressing. They come in packages of nine, which cost about $12 at Walmart. I price-match them when they go on sale for $8 at Kent's Market.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Your eyes don't deceive you

Yes. That is a plate-sized doughnut you're looking at. It's easily 600 calories of glazed goodness. Make sure you bring a friend and a gallon of milk before you embark on this adventure. Now, I need to say that this isn't the best doughnut I've ever eaten. The glaze-to-dough ratio was lower than a normal-sized doughnut.

But it was good, and I'd do it again.


So where can you buy this monstrosity for $1.49? At Bowman's. That's 326 N. Main in Kaysville. Here's what it looks like thanks to Google Street view:


View Larger Map

My goal here is to induce insane calorie consumption and weight gain. So please let me know when you jump on the bandwagon and eat the doughnut as big as your face.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Something fishy's going on

We are on a salmon kick lately in our family. Healthy stuff, you know. It's also delicious, and there are so many ways to cook it. This recipe has an Asian twist. We really liked it. The other nice thing about salmon is that it takes mere minutes to cook.

THE RECIPE:

1 lb. salmon fillets
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground ginger

Toss salmon and sauce ingredients in plastic bag. Refrigerate for as long as possible so flavors can soak in. Place bag contents in frying pan, cover and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Uncover and cook salmon for about two minutes on each side, or until salmon flakes easily. Discard liquid. Cook just a little on each side in dry pan until salmon is browned and glazed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The whole enchilada

An easy way to make run-of-the-mill enchilada sauce is to combine canned red sauce and canned tomato soup. The soup mitigates the spice a little bit for us wimps, although I still think it's a little spicy. I am the wimpiest of the wimps, though. Above, I just made plain old cheese enchiladas, but they are lightning fast to put together, and with the toppings, they make a great weeknight dinner.

THE RECIPE:

8 flour tortillas
Shredded cheese
1 10-ounce can red enchilada sauce
1 10-ounce can condensed tomato soup
Desired toppings

Fill tortillas with cheese and roll. Place in baking dish. Mix sauce and soup well, then pour over tortillas, ensuring that sauce sinks down to bottom of dish. Top with extra cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with sour cream, lettuce, etc. if desired.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Good garlic!

These garlic green beans have served us well over the past few years. Everyone loves them, and they make a nice side dish for almost any meal. I eat massive amounts of green beans when they are served this way. I use frozen green beans, but if you want to use fresh, you might need to steam them first so they are partially cooked.

THE RECIPE:

1 1/2 lbs. frozen green beans, thawed
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. canola, vegetable OR sesame oil
1 tsp. sugar
6 cloves garlic, pressed

In small bowl, combine soy sauce, oil and sugar; set aside. Put garlic in skillet coated with cooking spray. Cook on medium-high for a minute or two, until softened. Add green beans. Stir until well-coated. Add sauce and stir until most of liquid is absorbed. Makes 6 servings.


Friday, May 1, 2009

Flurry of curry

This recipe for coconut-curry chicken was something different for us and really good. We definitely want to make it again. I might add chopped peanuts next time. I love the combination of coconut milk and curry. And the addition of basil was a pleasant surprise. And in case you're worried, it's not spicy.

THE RECIPE:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut up
2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1 c. chopped red onion (I'm sure this could be optional)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk*
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 Tbsp. snipped fresh basil OR 3 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger OR 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
Cooked rice

Mix curry, salt, pepper and chili powder in small bowl. Put chicken pieces in baggie and toss with spices. Close bag and refrigerate for as long as possible to allow spices to penetrate.

Cook onions and garlic in hot oil over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Remove from pan. Cook chicken through, then remove from pan as well. Combine coconut milk and cornstarch, then add to pan and cook until slightly thickened and bubbly. Return chicken, onions and garlic to pan. Stir in basil and ginger. Serve over hot rice.

*I know lowfat coconut milk exists, but I didn't see it at Walmart.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Love at first sight

My daughter recently told her grandma: "My mom is addicted to chocolate." What a smart girl. It's very true. Chocolate cake is divine with this chocolate cream cheese frosting. Store-bought frosting doesn't even hold a candle to this. Boxed cake mixes are fine, though. You'll want to walk around with a fork if you have this decadence at your house.

THE frosting RECIPE:

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter or spread, softened
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. cocoa powder
5 to 6 c. powdered sugar
Milk to thin, if desired

Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla together. Add cocoa. Gradually add powdered sugar until you reach desired consistency. Thin with a couple of tablespoons of milk if necessary. I like mine to be really spreadable and smooth, not thick and pasty.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

And that's a wrap!

My friend Kylie gave me the recipe for these lettuce wraps. We have made them many times since. They have a mild flavor and are very good. There are never any leftovers. Someday I might tweak them to see if I can end up with a stronger flavor, just for a nice change. We'll see.

THE RECIPE:

3 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
3/4 tsp. rice vinegar*
1 Tbsp. oil
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
4 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can straw mushrooms, drained and chopped*
Lettuce leaves, washed and dried

Mix soy sauce, brown sugar and rice vinegar, and set aside. Saute remainder of ingredients in oil, then add sauce. Mix thoroughly and remove from heat. Before serving, cool until just warm. Wrap in lettuce leaves.

*Rice vinegar tastes very similar to white vinegar, so if you don't want to pay for a whole bottle, I'm sure you could just use white. You'll find straw mushrooms by the water chestnuts in the Asian food aisle.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chickety China the Chinese chicken

My sister-in-law hooked me up with this recipe for Oriental chicken salad. We used it as our main dish for dinner and gobbled it right up. It's a simple salad with only a few ingredients, which you can adjust to suit your fancy. I did a little of that myself.

THE RECIPE:

1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped (I boiled mine)
3/4 c. sliced almonds, lightly toasted if desired
1 package Oriental-flavored Ramen noodles
1 11-ounce can mandarin oranges, drained

3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/3 c. oil (I used canola)
1/4 c. sugar
Seasoning packet from Ramen

Wisk together dressing ingredients and chill until ready to serve. Break up dry Ramen noodles (I pounded the package before opening it), then brown in skillet. Toss with lettuce, chopped chicken, oranges and almonds. Toss with dressing.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A little luck o' the Irish

Corned beef with mustard sauce is the traditional Irish-American meal for St. Patrick's Day. It is really good and so easy to make. It is usually served with cabbage, but we served ours with roasted asparagus, which we absolutely love. Mind you, asparagus isn't just for St. Patrick's Day. You'll want to mark this recipe and use it all through spring!

CORNED BEEF:

1 corned beef brisket, flat cut*
Seasoning packet that comes with the meat
Water

Put corned beef in slow cooker. Cover with water, then sprinkle with seasoning. Cook on high for 6 hours, or low for 8 to 10 hours. *There are two popular cuts of corned beef brisket, flat cut and point cut. I recommend the flat cut, even though it's more expensive. Every thread of meat on the point cut is laced with fat.

MUSTARD SAUCE:

1/8 c. mayo
1/8 c. sour cream
1 Tbsp. prepared mustard (I used spicy brown for half)
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. creamy horseradish

Mix ingredients well. Use as a dipping sauce for corned beef. Refrigerate leftovers.

ROASTED ASPARAGUS:

Asparagus spears, washed
1 Tbsp. olive oil or melted butter
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Break off woody ends of washed asparagus. Bend the end of the spear, and the asparagus will know what to do. It snaps where it needs to. Arrange spears on shallow baking pan or cookie sheet. Drizzle oil over all, then roll spears around so they are well-coated. Season with salt and pepper. Bake spears of medium thickness for about 10 minutes. Skinny spears may need less time, and thick ones may need more. Asparagus is best when it is still a little crisp. Don't make them mushy!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Food in a flash

Tonight I needed a really fast, easy dinner. There were leftover mashed potatoes in the fridge, so I came up with a chili casserole that was actually really good. I would make this again. It's kind of a food storage meal, because it calls for canned ingredients. You could even use instant mashed potatoes. These kinds of recipes are great to have on hand when you're in a rush.

THE RECIPE:

1 15-ounce can chili with beans
1 15-ounce can corn, well-drained
2 c. mashed potatoes*
1 c. shredded cheese (I think)

Coat an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread chili in dish, then top with corn. Spread on mashed potatoes. If your potatoes have been refrigerated, microwave them to make them more spreadable. Cover with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. Serves 4.

*My potatoes had been mixed with butter, sour cream and a little garlic powder. Also, I always leave the skins on for the nutrients.