Thursday, November 3, 2011

Southwest flair

These south-of-the-border turkey melts, from the Lion House recipes, are delicious, fun and easy. They would be great for dinner, appetizers, parties, whatever. We highly recommend them!

THE RECIPE:

French bread, cut into 3/4-inch slices
1/2 c. chopped olives
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. mayo or Miracle Whip
1/3 c. sour cream
1/3 c. chopped green onions
Sliced deli turkey
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
2 ripe avocados, sliced
1 1/2 c. shredded cheese, any kind or combo (cheddar, pepper jack, Monterey jack)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine olives, chili powder, cumin and salt; set aside 2 tablespoons of this mixture. To the remaining mixture, add mayo, sour cream and green onions.

Spread a generous amount of mayo mixture on each slice of bread. Top with turkey, tomatoes, avocados and cheese. Sprinkle reserved olives on top for looks. Bake on cookie sheet for about 15 minutes.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hidden zucchini

There are 12 zucchini in my fridge right now. Two of them are the size of my new twin niece and nephew. And those are what's still left over after I used four to make this zucchini soup with coconut and curry. The zucchini flavor is virtually undetectable amid the other strong flavors, but that's OK, because coconut and curry is one of my favorite combos.

THE RECIPE:

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 small to medium zucchini, cut in chunks (leave skin on)
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. yellow curry powder
4 c. chicken broth
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
Fresh basil for garnish (optional)

In large pot, heat olive oil then add onion, zucchini and salt. Saute for a few minutes. Add curry and broth, then bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes, or until zucchini is tender. Using an immersion blender or regular blender, puree soup until smooth, then stir in coconut milk and heat through. Garnish with basil if desired.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Perfect panzanella

Let me introduce you to panzanella. It is a rustic Italian tomato-bread salad, and it's a delicious way to use garden fresh tomatoes. Panzanella originated in the Tuscan countryside, where peasants needed a way to use stale bread. Today, you can make the recipe your own with all kinds of yummy add-ins. Here's what I did.

THE RECIPE:

6 c. rustic Italian bread OR 1 whole French baguette, cut into chunks*
1/2 c. olive oil, divided
3/4 tsp. salt, divided
3 large, juicy vine-ripened tomatoes (3 to 4 inches in diameter)
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
3 Tbsp. drained capers (optional)
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss bread chunks with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Arrange bread in single layer on baking sheet and bake on middle oven rack for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Bread will be hardened and crisp and golden when done.

Meanwhile, cut tomatoes into chunks and put in a colander over a large measuring cup or dish to drain and catch juices. Toss tomatoes with 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir periodically, letting drain for at least 15 minutes. Try to reserve 1/2 cup juices.

Whisk remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, sugar and pepper into reserved tomato juices to create a vinaigrette. Toss thoroughly with toasted bread pieces and let stand 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, feta, capers, basil, or whatever your heart desires. Serve immediately.

*Choose a bread that is dense and crusty, not fluffy like French bread.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Once a decade

Having freshly cooked artichokes with dinner is a fun experience, but I think doing it about once a decade is enough. They're kind of a hassle to eat. I remember having them as a child at my friend Brooke's house. My kids were also very intrigued by them. It's worth introducing your kids to something unique and new, just this once.

Here is the classic version of preparation and method of eating, as given by Better Homes and Gardens.

THE RECIPE:

2 artichokes
Lemon juice
1/4 c. butter or spread
1/4 tsp. dried dill, tarragon OR oregano
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Wash artichokes and cut off stems. Cut off 1 inch from the top of each artichoke, and snip off the sharp leaf tips (see photo). Roll the cut edges in a little lemon juice. In a large pan, bring salted water to boiling and add artichokes. Return to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a leaf pulls out easily. Drain artichokes upside down.

Meanwhile, melt butter and stir in dried herb and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Serve artichokes with butter sauce.

*Note: To eat artichokes, pull off one leaf at a time and dip base of leaf into sauce. Draw the base of the leaf through your teeth, scraping off only the tender fleshly part. Discard the remainder of the leaf. Continue removing leaves until the fuzzy choke appears. Remove the choke and eat the remaining heart with sauce.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bad buckwheat

I had no idea what buckwheat tasted like, until I made these buckwheat pancakes. I hated them with all my heart. Buckwheat has a really strong taste -- probably an acquired taste for those who like it -- with some lovely dirt and dust undertones. It is extremely healthy, however, and gluten-free, which is important for some people.

This recipe was a cute-looking one found in my daughter's Mother Goose cookbook. It called for half buckwheat flour and half white flour. I wonder if they would have been tolerable with just a fourth buckwheat? I'm almost crazy enough to try it.

THE RECIPE:

1/2 c. sifted white flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 c. unsifted buckwheat flour
2 eggs
1/4 c. melted and cooled butter
1 c. buttermilk

In medium bowl, mix white flour with salt, baking powder, soda and sugar. Stir in buckwheat flour. In a small bowl, combine eggs, cooled butter and buttermilk. Add to dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Batter should be lumpy. Heat an oiled griddle or skillet to medium. Pour 4-inch rounds of batter onto skillet and cook until bubbles form on surface and edges become dry. Turn and cook until nicely browned on underside. Eat, and try not to gag.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A way to use all that zucchini

I've got zucchini coming out of my ears. Our garden is producing so much that, at any given time, I have about eight zucchini in my fridge. Who needs that much zucchini? I've pawned them off onto my neighbors. Today, however, I found a whole new use for them.

Thanks to Smitten Kitchen, I made four batches of zucchini fritters. I'm going to freeze a bunch of them. They are really yummy and different. I was very excited to find the recipe!

THE RECIPE:

2 medium zucchini*
1 tsp. salt, plus extra to taste
1-2 Tbsp. finely chopped onion (green, yellow, whatever)
1 egg
Pepper to taste (I also used some lemon pepper)
1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Olive oil

Trim ends of zucchini. Shred with the large holes on a box grater or with the shredding blade of a food processor. Toss shredded zucchini with 1 teaspoon salt and let sit in a colander to drain for about 10 minutes. Put zucchini in cheesecloth or a clean dish towel (that's what I used) and wring it out until you release as much of the juice as possible. Zucchini are FULL of liquid. This is kind of a messy, annoying part, but everything else is so easy.

Mix the drained zucchini with onion, egg and seasonings to taste. It might need up to 1/4 teaspoon more salt to make up for what went down the drain. Mix flour and baking powder separately, then stir into zucchini/egg mixture.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy skillet on medium-high. Plop bunches of zucchini mixture onto skillet and flatten slightly with back of a spatula or spoon. Fry until nicely browned, then flip onto other side. Reduce heat if they brown too fast. Put cooked fritters in a 200-degree oven for about 10 minutes while the others fry. Repeat process, ensuring that skillet stays well-oiled. Makes about 7 fritters.

Serve with sour cream sauce, if desired. If you freeze the extras, they can be spread on a sheet and reheated at 325 degrees until they are hot and crisp again.

Sour cream sauce:

1 c. sour cream or plain yogurt
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. lemon zest (I used lemon pepper instead)
1 small clove garlic, minced (I used 1/4 teaspoon powder)
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate so flavors can mix.


*Medium is one that is about 2 inches in diameter.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Calling all cauliflower haters

I have been feeling bad for cauliflower, because we rarely eat it. So, when I saw this roasted, curried cauliflower on Mel's Kitchen Cafe, I had to give it a try. I love curry. I'd say the recipe was a success. Everyone in my family ate it. Plus, it was something different from the norm.

THE RECIPE:

1 head cauliflower, washed and cut into florets
2 to 3 Tbsp. olive oil
Up to 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 to 3/4 tsp. yellow curry powder

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss cauliflower with oil. Sprinkle evenly with seasonings. Bake about 18 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Cauliflower is ready when tender-crisp and browned in spots.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Berry delightful

Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits. They're sweet and beautiful. This summer strawberry cake is a great use for them. My whole family and our guests loved it. It's kind of like a cobbler and would be fantastic served with vanilla ice cream. It's a Martha Stewart recipe I got from Smitten Kitchen.

THE RECIPE:

6 Tbsp. softened butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
1 egg
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 lb. strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch pie pan or a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan or a 9-inch springform pan. (A standard 9-inch pie pan is too small.)

In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In larger bowl, beat butter with 1 cup sugar. Add egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pan. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter as closely as possible in a single layer. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries. Bake for 10 minutes, then leave pan in oven and reduce heat to 325 degrees. Bake 50 minutes more, or until tester comes out clean. Let cool in pan on rack.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Kids like eating from a stick

This recipe comes from our wonderful neighbor Angie. She said these savory chicken skewers never fail her, so we had to give them a try. We really liked them, and they were very easy to make. The recipe says to soak wooden skewers for an hour before using/grilling, but a lot of people online said that's unnecessary. We soaked ours for a half-hour and they didn't go up in flames. Plan ahead for the marinating time.

THE RECIPE:

1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1/8 c. olive oil
1/8 c. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 lb. chicken tenderloins or breast chunks

Place all ingredients in a gallon bag and squish until chicken is well coated. Refrigerate for at least an hour. (I made mine the night before.) Slide chicken onto skewers and grill as desired. I would double the recipe if I were you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Blueberries are in season

My husband made these blueberry-cornmeal pancakes for breakfast a couple of weekends ago. We really liked them. There's only a hint of cornmeal, but somehow it gives a nice touch. And you can't go wrong with fresh blueberries. The recipe comes from Better Homes and Gardens.

THE RECIPE:

1 c. flour
2 Tbsp. cornmeal
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 beaten egg
1 c. buttermilk or sour milk*
2 Tbsp. cooking oil
1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

Combine dry ingredients, then make a well in the center of the mixture and set aside. In another bowl, combine egg, milk and oil. Add mixture all at once to dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Batter should be lumpy. Gently fold in blueberries.

Cook over medium heat on lightly greased griddle or skillet until golden brown. Pancakes are ready to flip when their surfaces are bubbly and their edges are slightly dry.

*Place 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar in measuring cup. Add milk to make 1 cup total liquid. Let stand for 5 minutes before using.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dip into delicious

We put our garden-fresh spinach to good use in this spinach dip. It makes a nice summer appetizer. It's a popular recipe by the company Knorr, and it's been around for years. My sister called me a minute ago, asking why I had not yet posted the recipe and demanding it. It's really good. So, here you go.

THE RECIPE:

10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed*
16 oz. sour cream
1 c. mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
1 packet Knorr vegetable recipe mix**
8 oz. water chestnuts, drained and chopped
3 green onions, chopped

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate at least 2 hours so flavors can mix. Serve as a dip or spread with crackers or french bread.

*I chopped a big salad's worth of fresh spinach from my garden.

**I found this at the store by the dry onion soup mix.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Nice buns

This recipe for sticky buns comes from the Whitesides family. It uses Rhodes rolls and is extremely easy to make. Just plan ahead for the rise time. The butterscotch sauce is delicious.

THE RECIPE:

24 Rhodes rolls, still frozen
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 package Jell-O cook-and-serve butterscotch pudding mix
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Put frozen rolls in greased 9x13 baking pan. Pour butter over rolls. In medium bowl, combine dry pudding mix, brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over rolls. Cover with plastic wrap lightly sprayed with cooking spray and let rise overnight. In the morning, place baking pan on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let stand 20 minutes, then invert onto cookie sheet.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

One of my favorite desserts ever

This cocoa tiramisu is dangerous. I could easily eat the whole pan by myself. My family loves it and can't get enough. Traditional tiramisu is made with coffee, which we don't drink, and whose flavor we do not like, so we made our tiramisu with hot chocolate mix. The idea came from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. It is flavored with rum and almond extracts. The creamy homemade custard is mixed with mascarpone cheese. It is truly divine.

THE RECIPE:

1 c. hot water
2 packets good-quality hot chocolate mix OR 6 Tbsp. hot chocolate mix
1/8 tsp. almond extract
1/8 tsp. rum extract
1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 c. heavy whipping cream, divided
8 ounces mascarpone cheese*
30-36 ladyfingers biscuits*
1 Tbsp. cocoa powder

Combine the water and hot chocolate mix. When cooled, add extracts. Set aside.

In small saucepan, and over medium heat, mix egg yolks, sugar and salt. Add 1/4 cup cream. Stir for a few minutes, or until thickened enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat and let cool 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make whipped cream by beating remaining 1/2 cup cream until stiff peaks form. Beat mascarpone cheese into cooled egg mixture. Gently fold in whipped cream.

Whisk hot chocolate mixture often. Dip ladyfingers into hot chocolate, letting each side soak for about 1 second, then layer side by side in 8x8 baking dish. The last couple may need to be trimmed to fit. Top with half of custard, spreading evenly to edges of pan. Then with a mesh strainer, sprinkle with half of cocoa powder. Repeat layers: soaked ladyfingers, custard, cocoa powder. Refrigerate at least 8 hours before eating.

*I couldn't find these at Walmart, so I had to go elsewhere.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pie for dinner

I am always on the lookout for meatless main dishes. Beans are a great way to add fiber and protein to your diet without all the fat, cholesterol and expense of meat. This tamale pie, from Better Homes and Gardens, fit the bill. It made for a yummy and fast weeknight dinner. It is also a great recipe for using canned food storage.

THE RECIPE:

1 c. chopped green sweet pepper
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. cooking oil
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 6-ounce can (2/3 cup) vegetable juice, such as V8
1 4-ounce can diced green chile peppers, undrained
1/2 tsp. chili powder (the original recipe called for 1 teaspoon, but we're wimps)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1 8-ounce package corn muffin mix, such as Jiffy, and required milk and egg
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro

Grease a 2-quart square baking dish or 10-inch quiche dish and set aside. In a medium skillet, cook sweet pepper, onion and garlic in hot oil until tender. Stir in beans, vegetable juice, chile peppers and seasonings; heat through. Spoon bean mixture into prepared dish.

Prepare corn muffin mix according to package directions. Add cheese and cilantro, stirring until just combined. Spoon batter evenly over bean mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until golden. If desired, serve with salsa and sour cream. Serves 6.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Rockin' broccoli

I could eat an entire dinner plate full of roasted broccoli by myself. Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables, and roasting it makes it even better. My whole family gobbles it up. I highly recommend it.

THE RECIPE:

Fresh broccoli, washed and cut into florets
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a cookie sheet, toss broccoli with olive oil. Be sure each floret is coated, but not drenched. Season well. Bake on middle rack for 30 minutes.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Granola girl

I love making parfaits with this homemade granola. It tastes delicious with vanilla yogurt and fresh berries. The base recipe comes from Phemomenon. The granola really is so good. I even like to grab handfuls to munch on. Plus, it is very easy to make.

THE RECIPE:

3 c. old-fashioned oats (not quick)
1 c. raw almonds, chopped
3 Tbsp. wheat germ
1 Tbsp. whole flax seed
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon*
Dash salt
3 Tbsp. canola oil
1/3 c. honey**
1 Tbsp. water
2 tsp. vanilla

Mix oats, almonds, wheat germ, flax seed, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, stir together oil, honey, water and vanilla. Microwave to melt honey. Pour over oat mixture and stir well.

Spread out entirely over large cookie sheet or jelly roll pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes, then stir with spatula and spread out again. Bake for 20 minutes more. Let cool completely on cookie sheet. Store in airtight container.

*I only wanted a hint of cinnamon, but you could do as much as 2 teaspoons.

**Swirl the oil in your measuring cup, then dump it into the bowl. That way, when you measure your honey in the oiled cup, it will slip out instead of sticking.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Tilapia time

I am really lucky that my whole family loves fish. It's light and healthy. I only wish it were less expensive. I stock up on tilapia and salmon when they go on sale. This garlic tilapia is really tasty and easy to make.

THE RECIPE:

1 1b. tilapia fillets, completely thawed
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed*
Cilantro, if desired

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place fish in baking dish, taking care to tuck under any thin parts to ensure even cooking. Cover in melted butter, oil, salt and pepper, and lemon juice. Spread around garlic bits with a fork. Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes, or until fish flakes when pierced with a fork. Spoon juices over fish. Garnish with a little chopped fresh cilantro, if desired.

*I used two cloves, which gave the dish a little kick. After all, it is called GARLIC tilapia.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Just beet it

We love beets -- freshly cooked beets. We didn't know this until recently, but now we're hooked. They are so yummy. My kids love them. You buy them whole in the produce section. If they have their greens still attached, you can supposedly use those in salads and things, but you'll have to look online. I haven't tried that.

If you haven't had beets, you are missing out. You can't...uh...beat their gorgeous magenta color and high nutritional value. Plus, Dwight Schrute would be proud.

A word to the wise: Beets alter the color of urine.

THE RECIPE:

2 1/2 lbs. beets, peeled with a vegetable peeler
2 Tbsp. melted butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut peeled beets into fourths, or about 2-inch chunks. Place in baking dish and toss with butter and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover tightly with foil and bake for an hour and a half.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Don't trifle with trifle

I've seen this peanut butter brownie trifle on multiple food blogs, and I finally made it. It was our Mother's Day dessert, and it was a success. My brother-in-law was "mmm"ing with every bite. See, we're Reese's fans around here.

THE RECIPE:

1 9x13 pan baked brownies, cut into 1-inch pieces*
1 large (5.1 oz.) package instant vanilla pudding mix
3 c. milk
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. whipping cream, whipped and divided**
40 bite-sized or 24 regular Reese's peanut butter cups

Beat pudding mix and milk until thickened. Add peanut butter and vanilla, then mix until combined. Fold in 1 cup whipped cream.

Place half of brownies in bottom of trifle dish. Sprinkle with 16 coarsely chopped bite-sized Reese's. Spread half of pudding mixture on top. Repeat layers. Top with last cup of whipped cream and remaining 8 bite-sized Reese's for garnish. Chill at least six hours before serving. Serves 12.

*Option: Add a 10-ounce bag of peanut butter baking chips to brownie batter.

**Homemade whipped cream: With an electric mixer, beat cream with 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until soft peaks form.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Use your food storage

This stuffing chicken bake is just a recipe I got off the back of a Stove Top stuffing box. It's one of those throw-together meals that use food storage ingredients. It tastes pretty good, though. My kids ate it, so that means something.

THE RECIPE:

1 pkg. Stove Top stuffing mix for chicken
1 1/2 lbs. raw chicken breast, cut into chunks
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/3 c. low-fat sour cream
16 ounces frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and drained
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare stuffing as directed on package; set aside. Mix chicken, soup, sour cream and vegetables in 9x13 pan. Season with pepper. Top with stuffing. Bake for 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Serves 6.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Scrumptious shells

My whole family loved these stuffed shells. I adapted a recipe from Carrie's Cooking Corner, using fresh spinach from our garden instead of frozen. I will definitely make this again. I am always glad to have another good meatless recipe on hand.

THE RECIPE:

20 jumbo pasta shells, cooked and drained
16 oz. low-fat cottage cheese
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained*
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. Italian seasoning**
At least 16 oz. spaghetti sauce

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix cottage cheese, spinach, 1/2 cup mozzarella, Parmesan and seasoning. Spoon filling into shells. Pour half of spaghetti sauce into bottom of 9x13 baking dish. Line up filled shells in baking dish, then spoon remaining sauce down the middle of each line of shells. Bake 20 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and bake a couple of minutes more.

*I used 4 packed cups fresh spinach, which I washed and cut up into about 1-inch pieces.

**I used 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon dried basil, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bring on the spring

This is a fun idea for decorating cupcakes. Frost your cupcakes as desired, then cut marshmallows into fourths to make flower petals. I used kitchen shears coated with cooking spray. Use gumdrops for the centers. Fun and easy! Thanks to my cousin Kristy for the idea.

Friday, March 25, 2011

St. Patrick's Day dessert

My kids took St. Patrick's Day very seriously this year. They literally pinched me at least 100 times in the morning, until I put on a green shirt. I got with the program, and everything was green after that! We had a St. Patrick's Day dinner of corned beef and a bunch of yummy green sides.

We ended the night with the lime Jell-O cream cheese pie you see above. It is the easiest thing in the world to throw together, and its thick, creamy, Jell-O-y filling is delicious. You must serve it with fresh whipped cream. Plan ahead for refrigeration time.

THE RECIPE:

1 graham cracker pie crust
1 3-ounce package lime Jell-O
1 c. boiling water
8 ounces light cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. lime juice

Dissolve Jell-O into boiling water. Add cream cheese and beat with electric mixer until smooth and combined. Add lime juice. Pour into pie crust. Refrigerate at least four hours, until set.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Superior sandwiches

These sandwiches are so delicious. They make us happy. I've seen them all over the Web, so I don't know who deserves the credit, but pouring sauce over a sandwich is a wonderful idea. The recipe is quite versatile. You can change the meat, the roll size, the mustard type. You can use it as a main dish (large rolls) or an appetizer (little slider rolls) -- whatever you want. Enjoy!

THE RECIPE:

24 small dinner rolls OR 12 large French rolls
Ham or turkey slices (I used deli meat)
Swiss cheese slices
Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip

Slice rolls in half and spread Miracle Whip on both sides. Place meat and cheese inside, then close rolls and place tightly together in baking dish. Pour or spoon sauce over all. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Uncover and bake a couple of minutes more. Serve warm. Sandwiches can be assembled ahead of time (including sauce) and refrigerated before baking.

Sauce:

1/2 c. butter, melted
1 1/2 Tbsp. yellow mustard or spicy brown
1 Tbsp. minced onion
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 Tbsp. poppy seeds

Whisk together sauce ingredients, and then pour evenly over sandwiches.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Little red jewels

This is a fun new twist on an old favorite. Pomegranate guacamole is a concept my lovely cousin Kristy introduced to me. I make it differently every time, according to what I have on hand, and you can do the same. You can add tomatoes, but I kind of like to let the pomegranate go solo. I just always make sure to include the coriander, because its fruity undertones complement the pomegranate nicely.

THE RECIPE:

3 ripe avocados, mashed
3 Tbsp. lime juice
1-2 Tbsp. finely diced red onion
1 clove garlic, pressed (add another if you like spice)
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro leaves
Seeds from half a pomegranate*

Whip together thoroughly first six ingredients, then stir in cilantro and pomegranate seeds. Refrigerate about an hour so flavors can mix.

*Click here to learn how to seed a pomegranate without a mess.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cornmeal has a new job

This creamy soup is called cornmeal chicken chowder with sweet potatoes. Cook's Country came up with a unique thickening agent -- cornmeal batter. Our family really loved the flavor it added. We also loved the sweet potatoes.

Cornmeal thickener:

1 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. flour
3 1/2 Tbsp. cornmeal
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt

Mix everything together in small bowl and set aside until ready for use in chowder. If you don't want to make your own thickener, you may use 1/2 cup of dry store-bought corn muffin mix (such as Jiffy) and combine it with the 1 1/2 cups milk.

Chowder:

1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 c. finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. thyme or oregano
1/4 tsp. salt
4 c. chicken broth
2 chicken breast halves, cut into chunks*
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 c. shredded cheese
1 1/2 c. frozen corn

Make cornmeal thickener and set aside. Heat butter in pot, then add onion. Saute for a couple of minutes before adding garlic and spices. Saute one minute more, then add broth, along with raw chicken and sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer about five minutes. Stir in cornmeal thickener, then bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer again -- this time about 10 minutes. Add cheese and corn and cook a couple of minutes more.

*In some recipes, I don't love the texture of boiled chicken. This was one of those. It was my only hang-up with the recipe. It didn't bother my husband. Even though it's convenient to just throw the chicken in, I might try cooking it first next time and stirring it in at the end. Or, it might be nice to use rotisserie chicken. I have made this recipe twice -- the first time with the boiled chicken and the second time without any chicken. You can do whatever suits your fancy.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I dare you to eat only one

Your life isn't complete if you don't know about these. They are Rolo pretzel bites, and I've never met a soul who didn't like them. Or one who ate fewer than 20 in a sitting. Our sister Joanne introduced us to these years ago, but we forgot about them for a long time. Never again.

THE RECIPE:

Small pretzels
Unwrapped Rolo candies
Pecan halves*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pretzels on cookie sheet lined with foil. Place a Rolo on top of each pretzel. Put in oven for three minutes -- so the Rolos become melty but keep their shape. Mash a pecan half into the top of each Rolo. Eat them warm or let them cool on the foil. They will peel off easily after they have hardened.

*If you are allergic to nuts or just want a little color, replace the pecan halves with regular M&Ms.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Swirl of sweetness

This is some seriously good frosting. It's raspberry cream cheese frosting. Pile it onto your favorite sugar cookies for a fabulous Valentine's treat. Your loved ones, and your sweet tooth, will thank you.

THE RECIPE:

1 8-ounce brick cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. raspberry extract
6 c. powdered sugar

Beat together first four ingredients, and then add powdered sugar. You should have a nice thick frosting, which is perfect for piping. Makes enough for about four dozen cookies.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Quick tip

Spaghetti is one of those fast and easy meals we often make when we are starving and short on time. Here's a quick tip to give a fresh approach to an old favorite: Melt a couple of ounces of cream cheese into your regular marinara. It gives the sauce a yummy twist.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Zesty teriyaki

This is an extremely easy way to end up with delicious teriyaki chicken. The recipe uses thighs, which cook slowly and soak up all the flavor. Serve the chicken and a splash of yummy juices over rice. I'm using half brown rice and half white until my white is gone, and then it's just brown for us.

THE RECIPE:

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs*
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. bottled zesty Italian dressing
1/4 c. water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place thighs in 8x8 baking dish. It's OK to overlap a little. The chicken will shrink. Mix sauce ingredients and pour over chicken. Cover with foil and bake for two hours.

*Don't substitute breasts unless you adapt the cooking time. Dark meat and white meat cook differently. I can't be held accountable for the results. :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Don't skimp on shrimp

Do you like grapefruit? We do. And we really like this fun and unique shrimp salad with grapefruit. It might sound like a crazy mix, but it is delicious. After his first bite, my husband started nodding and said, "Yep. You can make this any time."

Note that the dressing recipe makes a lot. (The measurements are easier this way.) You could probably halve it. Or double the salad.

THE RECIPE:

1 1b. shrimp, cooked (veins and tails removed)
6 oz. spinach
1 grapefruit, peeled, sectioned and cut into chunks
Sugar (optional)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 c. shredded Swiss cheese OR desired amount of crumbled feta
1/2 c. walnuts or pistachios*

Place grapefruit chunks in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar. Set aside while assembling remainder of salad ingredients. Toss in grapefruit. Pour dressing over individual servings as desired.

Dressing:

1/3 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. grapefruit juice
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. poppy seeds
1/2 c. oil (I used canola)

Mix first five ingredients, then add oil in thin, steady stream, whisking as you go.

*I used walnuts and toasted them under the broiler.