Monday, December 10, 2012

Better than a sloppy joe

I got this recipe for Stromboli sandwiches from my sister-in-law Joanne. It makes a really quick and easy weeknight dish, or as my sister-in-law has done, you can use it to serve a crowd. Either way, you'll be happy with the results. It's a tasty sandwich!


1 lb. ground beef
1 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
1/2 c. tomato sauce
1/2 c. ketchup
3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 tsp. oregano
6 large rolls or hoagies
Butter or spread
6 slices mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In skillet, cook beef and onion. Drain excess fat if necessary/desired. Add tomato sauce, ketchup, Parmesan, garlic powder and oregano. Simmer until flavors have melded, up to 20 minutes.

Split each roll in half and butter both sides. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Spoon meat mixture onto one side, then top with a slice of mozzarella. Close roll, then wrap in foil and place in oven for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Finger food

I bought jumbo olives on a great Thanksgiving sale and thought to myself, "I should stuff these with something!" How about cream cheese and spices? The stuffed olives turned out to be a really yummy and fun appetizer. The seasoning options are endless, so use whatever you want. We made a southwest kind and a ranch kind.


3 cans jumbo black olives, well drained
4 ounces cream cheese, softened

Seasoning option #1

1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. salt

Seasoning option #2

1/2 tsp. spicy brown mustard
1/8 tsp. dill weed
1/8 tsp. dried basil
1/8 tsp. salt

Mix cream cheese with your choice of seasonings, then spoon into piping bag fitted with flower tip. Pipe mixture into olives, then refrigerate about an hour so seasonings can meld.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Appearances are deceiving

I'm a huge fan of classic dishes with a twist. I love tradition, so I could never do away with the stereotypical holiday dishes. But, I love adding a little interest and intrigue. Keep your guests guessing the special ingredient in these yummy mashed potatoes and...parsnips! The recipe is a basic one to allow for gravy, but feel free to add whatever mix-ins suit your fancy.


2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks*
10 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks**
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 tsp. salt
Pepper to taste

Put parsnips and potatoes in large pot of water and boil until tender, about 15 minutes. Parsnips take a little longer than potatoes. Drain well, then put in large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients, then beat with electric mixer until smooth.

*Parsnips look like fat, whitish carrots. They taste a lot like carrots, too.
**When I say medium, I mean the size that comes in the bags.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Always worth it to try something new

We tried a new stuffing this year -- mushroom-artichoke stuffing. It was very good, but next time I make it, I'm going to make some changes. I loved the mushrooms and artichokes, but I used an egg as a combining agent, and it gave the bread a spongy, stick-to-everything texture. I know that's a common way of making stuffing, but you see, it reminded me of regular spongy Stove Top Stuffing. Maybe you'd love it, but I can't have that. I like my bread to be a star and hold its own. This recipe is definitely worth keeping and tweaking, though.


1 lb. thick, crusty bread, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 c. butter
1 onion, diced
1 c. diced celery
16 oz. sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz. marinated artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 c. chicken broth
1/2 tsp. ground sage
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 beaten egg
1 c. shredded Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay out bread pieces on baking sheet and cook for about 10 minutes, or until dry and crispy.

In large skillet, melt butter, then saute onions, celery and mushrooms until mostly tender. Add garlic and saute one minute more. Place mixture in large bowl and add bread. Add remaining ingredients one at a time and mix well. Spoon stuffing into 9x13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Citrus kiss

I hope no one will be horrified if I post a couple of belated Thanksgiving recipes. Our menu contained a few first-time items. The meal was voted a success! These orange-kissed sweet potatoes were so delicious. I loved the combination of flavors. I will definitely make them again. The base recipe came from America's Test Kitchen.


4 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks*
1/2 c. brown sugar, divided
2 tsp. freshly grated orange zest, divided
1/4 c. fresh orange juice
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put sweet potatoes in 9x13 pan sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons brown sugar and cover very tightly with foil. Bake about an hour, or until potatoes are tender. When done, change oven setting to broil.

In a small bowl, thoroughly mix remaining 6 tablespoons brown sugar with 1 teaspoon orange zest and set aside.

Pour sweet potatoes and any liquid into large mixing bowl. Add orange juice, butter, cream, salt, cinnamon, pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon orange zest. Beat with an electric mixer until nicely pureed. Spoon potatoes back into 9x13 pan and sprinkle with brown sugar/zest mixture. Place pan on oven's middle rack and broil on high about 2 minutes, or until topping is browned and bubbly.

*I used three huge sweet potatoes.