Friday, December 18, 2009

Turkey Pie

Even though we weren't home for Thanksgiving and did not even have turkey on that day, my father-in-law ensured we would have turkey leftovers. God bless him! He put three plates of turkey meat in the freezer and I decided to make a turkey pie from one plate. DELISH!

I wish I could provide exact amount for you, but I was working with what I had and it was at the last minute so here are the basics.

about 3 cups of turkey meat chopped
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 stalk of celery, thinly sliced
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
dash of garlic powder
4 tbsp butter, separated
2 tbsp flour
3/4-1 cup milk
1 tsp dried thyme
1 small can of turkey gravy
pie dough for top and bottom crust (see my quiche recipe for basic dough and notes before for added touches)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare pie pan or casserole with half of the pie crust dough. I added 2-3 tbsp Pecorino Romano cheese, 1/4 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp thyme, and 1/2 tsp marjoram to the flour before making the pie crust. I would have liked to add rosemary, but I was out.

Heat 2 tbsp butter in a large pan. Add onions, carrot, celery, garlic powder salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until veggies begin to become tender.

Add turkey and remaining 2 tbsp of butter.

When butter has melted, sprinkle 2 tbsp of flour over the entire mixture and stir to incorporate.

Let flour cook for 1-2 minutes without burning, then add milk and stir quickly. Add thyme and 1/2-3/4 cup gravy. You're looking for a thick consistency, but not too thick so add more gravy if necessary.

Put turkey mixture into prepared pie crust, cover with pie crust and add 4-5 slits in the top crust to vent steam.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then drop oven temperature to 350 and bake for 20-30 minutes until top crust is brown. I keep a baking stone in my oven to help ensure the center of my pie crust is not soggy and raw, but crispy and brown just like the sides.

Things I would change
My husband missed having potatoes in the pot pie. I did not. If I were making this for my husband, I would add a bit more gravy or make more sauce and add some cooked potatoes to the pie. I actually took my first bite and thought, "This is missing peas...not potatoes" I like the meatiness of the pie and that it wasn't all sauce and veggies. But if you really like sauce and veggies, adjust for your tastes. I would have probably used chicken broth if I had had it instead of the gravy. I just wanted to make sure there was plenty of flavor as turkey can be a bit bland when paired up with strong flavors like onion and celery.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kathy's Karamel Korn

When I delivered the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Rice Krispies to our friend John, his wife Kathy lent me her air pop popcorn machine so I could make her famous Karamel Korn. This is delicious!

6 quarts popped popcorn
2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
2 sticks butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Heat oven to 200 degrees. Mix all the ingredients besides the baking soda is a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Boil and stir until mixture reaches 260 degrees (about five minutes). Remove from heat and thoroughly but quickly stir in baking soda. Pour syrup over popped corn and stir until all corn is coated with mixture. Pour on two cookie sheets sprayed with no-stick PAM. Bake at 200 degrees for 1 hour, stirring two or three times. Turn out and let cool completely. Break apart and store in a tightly covered container.

You can also use this recipe for popcorn balls. Omit baking step and form balls of syrup coated popcorn (but don't burn yourself!)


Thanks Kathy, this was GREAT! My husband requested that I put some almonds in the next batch, which I think was an excellent suggestion. I'll probably toast them beforehand. I've even considered drizzling a little chocolate on it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Peanut Butter Cup meets Rice Krispie Treat

I heard our friend John really likes Rice Krispie Treats and since we've been baking treats for all of our friends all month I wanted to make something he liked. However, I'm not a fan of Rice Krispie Treats. I can eat them, but I don't love them.

I found a recipe for peanut butter krispie treats with chocolate chips. This sounded like something I would like as I adore peanut butter and chocolate together. However, I do not like chocolate chips unless they're melty and soft so I changed the recipe a bit and this is what it resulted in:


1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
8 cups Rice Krispie cereal
1 - 1 1/2 cups of chocolate for melting
Measure cereal into a large bowl with plenty of room for stirring.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine peanut butter, sugar and corn syrup. I did not bring this to a full boil, but there were bubbles on the side of my pan. I cooked long enough for the sugar crystals to dissolve.

Pour peanut butter mixture over cereal and mix completely. Spread into a 13X9 pan coated with cooking spray.

Melt chocolate and drizzle or evenly spread over the peanut butter krispies.

Now, I must admit....I looked in my pantry and was stunned to find I was out of chocolate chips. This never happens! So I went to the shelf with the chocolate stash and found a Kron Bunny that was missing his tail and part of an ear and decided it was perfect for chopping up and melting down. I LOVE Kron and if you've never had it, you should try it. The truffles are my favorite! We keep them in the freezer and then pull them out one by one as a little treat. Anyway, I've used bits and pieces of different Kron sculptures we've had for melting and dipping because you can't buy this kind of chocolate at the grocery and it sure is tasty.

We used a gingerbread boy shaped pan and using royal icing we decorated him with m&m's.
This was perfect for me! It tasted like a peanut butter cup, one of my favorite sweets, but this really fulfilled my love for something to chew on. I love sweets, but I'm picky about the sweets I eat because I like texture and part of my enjoyment from food comes from being able to chew it. I love pastries versus candy because of it's texture.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bottom Round Roast with onions

This is quick, easy, few ingredients and tasty!

For roast
1 tbsp olive oil
1 (4 pound) bottom round roast
salt and pepper to taste
2 -3 large onions, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup red wine vinegar

For gravy
2 tbsp flour
1 cup cold water

In the bottom of a large pot with a lid, add 1 tbsp olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Season your roast on all sides with salt and pepper and add to the hot oil. Brown all sides of the patient, wait for it to brown. You can't recreate the flavor from browning later in the cooking process so do it right in the beginning.

Once the roast is brown all over, remove the roast from the pan and add onions and garlic (I just hold the roast up with tongs and have my husband add the onions and garlic from my cutting board). Place the roast on top of the onions. Sprinkle dried thyme over the roast and onions, add bay leaf and vinegar to the bottom of the pot. Place a tight lid on the pot and simmer until roast is done...avoid removing the lid! The onions are create a lot of moisture which can eventually be made into a gravy, but if you take the lid off the steam/moisture leaves the pot and you end up with a dry roast and burnt onions.

Done is a relative term and could take varying amounts of time so what I do is use my digital oven thermometer (click link to see the type of thermometer I'm referring to). I run the thermometer probe through the steam vent on my pot lid and set the alert for 145 degrees. Once the alarm goes off (in this case about 2 hours), I remove the roast and onions then cover with foil to keep warm.

For Gravy:
Add 2 tbsp of flour to 1 cup of cold water and stir completely. Slowly add this to the juices in the pot, bring to a boil then simmer until desired thickness.

What I would change?
Not much would I change about this roast. However, I would like to try balsamic vinegar next time and we love onions so the more onions the better, in my opinion.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Potato and Ham soup

I'm back on a roll! I am cooking again and it feels so good. Yesterday I made cinnamon rolls and yeast rolls from the beauty of bread post and then made a lovely potato soup with the ham bone from Thanksgiving.

Usually if I have a ham bone then I make a pot of beans but since the baby and I are usually the only ones to eat them, I thought I would try something different with the ham bone. This turned out great.

1 ham bone
5 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 medium onions, chopped into large sections
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, diced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
olive oil
salt and pepper
ground nutmeg

In a large pot I placed the ham bone, about 2 tbs olive oil, chopped onions and salt. I sauteed the onions and ham to get some of those nice brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Once the onions became translucent I added 12 cups of water, brought to a boil and then simmered for 2 hours.
Remove the ham bone, pull off any meat and chop into bite-size pieces. Discard ham bone and add ham back to pot. Add celery, carrots, potatoes, salt (remember the ham will be salty so don't over salt) and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 40 minutes.

Mix flour and 1/4 cup water then slowly pour into the soup while constantly stirring soup. Cook for another 5 minutes, add cream then remove from heat. Sprinkle a little nutmeg on each serving.

This was a thin potato soup so in the future I would consider removing some potatoes, mashing them and then returning them to the pot. However, I would also like to add some cut up cabbage that would serve as a filler and my husband added some shredded cheddar which also thickened it a bit. I think for personal taste I would add some thyme and maybe even some coriander, you know how I love the combination of these two!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cranberry Pecan Pie

This is my favorite pie. I even adapted it to make a bar cookie with a shortbread base when I didn't want pie but wanted the cranberries and pecan goodness.

1 9 inch pie crust
1 1/2 cup cranberries
3 eggs
2/3 cup white sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Finely chop cranberries in food processor or by hand. Spread into bottom of pastry-lined pie pan.

In a large bowl beat eggs until frothy. Add sugar, corn syrup, melted butter or margarine, vanilla, allspice, and salt. Mix well.

Pour mixture over cranberry layer. Neatly arrange pecan halves on top of sugar mixture.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until golden and set in center.

Perfect Pie Crust

I wish I could express how flakey and delicious this pie crust is and there is no picture that can capture how delightful this crust is in your mouth, but here is a picture of the pie crust being used for my pumpkin pie.

I've never made good pie crust...I don't understand baking very well. So I did what any smart cook would do, I asked my friends for help :) My friend Sarah really came through for me on this one! She shared this recipe from The New Best Recipes.

Enough for double crust

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 T sugar
1/2 cup shortening, chilled
12 T cold unsalted butter cut into 1/4 inch pieces
6-8 T ice water
(I put everything in the freezer for about 40 minutes, including the flour)

In food processor: flour salt sugar, until combined.

Add Shortening. Process until like coarse sand. (10 seconds) scatter butter over mixture. Cut the butter in until pale yellow and coarse crumbs. (No bits larger than small pea - 10, 1 second pulses).

Put in med bowl. Sprinkle 6 T water over mixture. Fold in with rubber spatula. Press down on dough with spat until the dough sticks together. Add up to 2 T water as needed.

Divide dough into balls and flatten into 4 in disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour up to 2 days.

The key I found to all of this is COLD everything.

I used powder sugar instead of granulated sugar and after rolling out the dough and putting in the pie plate, I put the crust in the refrigerator for another 30 minutes before baking. This crust turned out beautiful! It was flakey and buttery and just delicious.

Pumpkin Pie

I know it has been a long time since I've posted anything, but we've been sick since September and we've been living on macaroni and cheese from a box and chicken nuggets from the freezer. I'm not proud of it, but it is reality.

I did make 2 pies for Thanksgiving and I must say, they were outstanding! The first of which is pumpkin pie from a fresh pumpkin. This makes the most perfect pumpkin pie! And even though you're suppose to refrigerate overnight, ours was eaten within hours. It was a little soft and I could definitely see that it firm up overnight, but we couldn't wait.

UPDATE: I made this again tonight and only had 1 cup of cream instead of 1 1/2 cups. This fixed the firmness issue and allowed me to eat it a few hours after making it rather than having it set up in the refrigerator overnight. So I'm adjusting the recipe to reflect the change in cream.

I'll add the recipes for the pie crust that I used and for making your own pumpkin pie spice.

1 sugar pumpkin
1 9 inch pie crust
2 eggs
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup heavy cream

1. Prepare pumpkin - Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds. Place cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with lightly oiled aluminum foil. Bake at 325 degrees F for 45 minutes, or until the flesh is tender when poked with a fork. Cool until just warm. Scrape the pumpkin flesh from the peel. Puree in small batches with an immersion blender.

2. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F.

3. In a large bowl, slightly beat eggs. Add brown sugar, flour, salt, 2 cups of the pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and heavy cream. Stir well after each addition.

4. Pour mixture into the unbaked pastry shell. Place a strip of aluminum foil around the edge of the crust to prevent over browning.

5. Bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees F, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake an additional 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove the strip of foil about 20 minutes before the pie is done so that the edge of the crust will be a light golden brown.

6. Cool pie, and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Slow Roasted Tomato Soup

We have an abundance of fresh tomatoes popping up in our garden. My large heirloom tomatoes are not doing well, but the cherry tomatoes are sort of like weeds, they're everywhere! With bowls upon bowls of cherry tomatoes, I decided to make a roasted tomato soup. I found this recipe at Alexandra's Kitchen. She has gorgeous pictures of this soup and a new website if you would like to see what she is currently working on. This is simple, delicious and easily tweaked for your own tastes.

Tomatoes - large or small
onion, cut into quarters or eighths
head of garlic, broken and peeled
baby carrots
olive oil
salt (I prefer kosher)
black pepper
dried thyme
chicken stock or broth
loaf of french bread

If using cherry tomatoes you may leave whole but quarter your large tomatoes. Remove as many seeds as you can, as the seeds are bitter. With cherry tomatoes, you can cut a small hole in the top of the tomato and gently push on the bottom of the tomato to remove seeds easily.

The ingredient quantities are based on your supply and personal tastes. Spread tomatoes on sheet pan (I had enough tomatoes to fill two sheet pans). Add onion cut into quarters or eighths and cloves of garlics. Add a handful of baby carrots to each pan of tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat everything in oil.

Roast veggies in the oven at 300 degrees for 3 hours until everything is brown and caramelly. Dump contents of the sheet pan into a large pot, add about 2 cups of chicken broth or stock, approximately 2-3 tsp of coriander and 2-3 slices of dried french bread broken into small pieces (you can slice it and dry it on the counter or for quicker drying you can lightly toast it in the oven or in a toaster).

Using an immersion blender, blend everything together. Taste and adjust for your personal preference. Add salt, more coriander, black pepper, fresh basil, etc. You can leave a little chunky or make it smooth.

Last night, I served this with a spoonful of sour cream and a piece of toasted french bread. However, I like it with a bit of basil pesto stirred in, as well. My husband enjoys a little heavy cream in his to mellow the tomato flavor. And what isn't enhanced by some shaved Parmesan?

Once I purchase a new camera, I'll take pictures of the process to show you how easy this is and how delicious it looks!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Herbed Salmon Fillets

2 tbls lemon juice
1 tbls Worcestershire sauce
6 (4 oz.) salmon fillets
2 tbls bread crumbs
2 tbls grated Romano cheese
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried tarragon
½ tsp dried marjoram
Cooking spray
1 tbls butter

Combine lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Place fillets in an 11-x7-x2-inch baking dish; pour lemon juice mixture over fillets. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour.

Combine bread crumbs and next 5 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.
Remove fillets from marinade; discard marinade.

Coat a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray; add butter. Place over medium-high heat until butter melts. Add fillets, and cook 1 to 2 minutes per side or until lightly browned.

Transfer fillets to an 11-x7-x2-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture evenly over fillets. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
Transfer to serving dishes accompanied by your favorite side (I served ours with fettuccine alfredo).

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hawaiian Turkey Burgers




Tuesday, July 21, 2009


This is Amandas Aunt Junes recipe. It is really a great meal.
The slaw is a must for great BBQ. It must be a North Carolina thing because you don't see it (or at least I haven't) anywhere else.
I hope you enjoy.











3/4 TSP. SALT,
6 1/2 TBSP. SUGAR,


Monday, July 20, 2009

Layered Fruit Salad

I know I'm being a slacker with my recipe posts lately but it's the summer and I'm barely cooking these days. However, I've been using some delicious recipes and felt I should be sharing them so you can get great reviews at your summer parties, too.

I made this fruit salad for 2 cook outs in the month of July and it was a hit at both. Once again, my father-in-law is dieting so I wanted to make a fruit salad he could eat but allow other people to dress it up a bit if they weren't watching the scale. So here is my layered fruit salad:

Seasonal fruits and berries of your choice cut into bite size pieces
I used different fruits for each salad, but cantaloupe was a favorite in both

Creamy topping
8oz cream cheese softened
2 cups vanilla, low-fat yogurt
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tblsp brown sugar

Crunchy Topping
2 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the cereal and nuts onto a baking pan. Stir in the brown sugar and butter. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until toasty. Stir occasionally. Set aside to cool.

Mix cream cheese, yogurt, brown sugar and flavorings in food processor until thoroughly combined. (I was never able to get it completely lump free, but was not a big deal).

When preparing fruit, be sure to coat apples and pears in a little lemon juice or pineapple juice to prevent browning and add sliced bananas just before serving.

To serve place cut up fruit into individual serving bowl, top with cream then sprinkle with crunchy granola like topping.

NOTE: I used a plain puffed rice cereal for one batch of the crunchy topping and although it was tasty, the airy cereal soaked up a lot of butter. I would suggest sticking with the crispy rice (such as Rice Krispies brand).

1 Pan Cubed Steak Meal

My mother-in-law bought some cubed steak and threw it in the freezer. I decided to give it a whirl...not a cut of meat I would normally purchase, but I figured it can't be that hard to use, right? I also had a zucchini our neighbor brought over from his garden and I definitely did not want to waste homegrown goodness!

Growing up in the south we breaded and fried everything. I ate lots of cubed steak growing up....dusted in flour, salt and pepper then cooked in a pan full of butter or vegetable oil until tender and soaked in oil. And then it gets even better when you make a pan gravy from the drippings and pour right on top of that fried cube steak, YUMMY! But not so good for my waist line so that is the real reason I don't purchase cubed steak.

My father-in-law is on the Scarsdale Diet and since I do the cooking around our house I decided to find a diet friendly way to prepare this meat....he's a meat eater, BIG fan of meat so this meal pleased his tummy.

2 portions of cubed steak (my package was about .8 lbs)
small onion, sliced into rings
zucchini, diced in 1 inch cubes
Worcestershire sauce
Dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
cooking spray

I lightly sprayed the bottom of a non-stick fry pan with a touch of cooking spray, heated the pan to medium high and seasoned both sides of the meat with salt and pepper. Placed my meat into the hot pan and browned each side (only browned, you're not trying to cook it through). Once brown, remove steak from your pan and place on a plate that can collect the juices that will pool while the meat rests.

After removing the steak from the pan, add onions and zucchini and season to taste with salt and pepper. Since we're not using a fat to cook the veggies, you will need to add some water to keep your pan and food from becoming a charred mess. While your veggies are cooking, slather 1 tsp Dijon mustard on each steak (this will help to evenly distribute the mustard when you add the steak back to the pan). Cook until onions and zucchini are just becoming tender.

Place steak in the pan and add all juices from the plate. Add 2tsp Worcestershire sauce to the pan and cook until veggies and meat are cooked through (5 minutes or so depending on thickness of steak). You may continue to add water here to ensure even mixture of sauce.

I served this with a side salad and it made a quick, easy and tasty dinner! I was happy to find another diet dish to add to my favorites menu.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Flank Steak

The flank steak is probably my most favorite cut of beef. It is super lean, always tender (when cooked and sliced properly) and can be cooked inside the oven or outside on the grill. The flank steak comes from the belly muscle of a cow; it should have a bright red color and lean as this is a well-exercised part of the cow. You should always cut across the grain when serving! Your flank steak should be rectangular in shape so cut down at an angle on the short side of the meat to ensure easy chewing. You should be able see the long lines in this cut of meat. Do not cut along those lines, cut perpendicular to them on diagonal. You can also help tenderize it by using an acid in a marinade (vinegar, lemon juice, tomato, pineapple).

Speaking of marinades, here is my favorite marinade for flank steak, of course I do not follow this recipe exactly so here is how I use the recipe.

• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1/3 cup soy sauce
• 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
• 1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1 1/2 pounds flank steak

1. In a medium bowl, mix the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic, and ground black pepper. Place meat in a shallow glass dish. Pour marinade over the steak, turning meat to coat thoroughly. Cover, and refrigerate for 6 hours.

2. Preheat grill for medium-high heat.

3. Oil the grill grate. Place steaks on the grill, and discard the marinade. Grill meat for 7-10 minutes per side, or to desired doneness.

For increased tenderness and less marinating time I vacuum seal about half the marinade with the steak and only need to marinade about 3 hours. If marinading in a zip bag or covered container use the full 6 hours and consider as much as 8 hours. You can also broil this in the oven when grilling is not an option.

Thinly sliced flank steak makes an excellent protein for salad, fajitas and our favorite is to coarse chop and put in two tortillas with monterey jack and cheddar cheeses and carmelized onions, cook in frying pan on both sides to crisp tortillas and melt cheese...YUM!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spaghetti Bake

My family really likes this and I love it because it's super simple and few pots/pans to clean.

There's no real measurements nor necessary items, put in your favorites with a few shelf staples and viola!

1 small box of spaghetti noodles, cooked
1lbs ground beef, cooked and drained
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
3/4 cup sour cream (MUST have this ingredient or substitute with some cottage cheese)
various shredded cheeses (sharp cheddar and mozzarella make a good combo)
1/2 tsp dried marjoram

optional items
sliced mushrooms
diced pepper
black olives

Cook noodles, drain and set aside. Cook ground beef , with diced onion and sliced mushrooms if you would like and you may season with salt and garlic powder. Mix sauce, beef, noodle and sour cream together. Stir in shredded cheddar (1.5 cups or so) and some Parmesan if you have it on hand. Pour into a 9X13 pan, top with marjoram, shredded mozzarella (1 cup or so) and additional Parmesan if you would like. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Easy peasy and tasty!

Over-used Recipes Swap

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ham Leftovers

I believe ham may be one of the two most popular meats on the table at Easter (lamb being the other). With so many having ham on this most special of holidays, I thought we could share our favorite ham leftovers.

So please share your favorite use for left over are a few of mine. I have previously provided my favorite use of a ham bone and another favorite for leftover ham is quiche. We had quite a bit of left over ham today so my husband requested ham salad....YUM!

Here is my not so specific ham salad recipe:

Put into to your food processor -

2 handfuls of ham chunks (I used plain smoked ham, not glazed or spiced ham)
1 slight tblsp diced onion
6 small gherkins and a bit of the pickle juice
3/4 cup mayonnaise or to taste
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

Process until desired chunkiness and thoroughly mixed. Leave in the refrigerator overnight for superb flavor!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Banana Muffins

We had some overripe bananas that needed to be used so I made some deliciously moist and dense banana muffins! These muffins have a delicious banana flavor without being overpowered with spices. And because they're so moist, no need to slather with butter or cream cheese.


1 cup bread flour
1 cup grounds oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups mashed overripe bananas (about 4 bananas)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease muffin pan (makes approximately 18 muffins).

Process oats for 30-45 seconds in your food processor to a course flour. Then combine in a large bowl with flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in vanilla, eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Could be made into a loaf, just adjust pan size to 9X5 loaf and baking time to around 1 hour. If you like nuts, toss in some chopped walnuts or chocolate chips. But in my opinion, these are perfect as written!

I don't have a camera as my husband has it at work taking pictures for his portfolio. If the muffins last until the end of the day when he gets home I'll try to snag a pic for you.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Chicken Parmesan

This recipe comes from Bon Appetit magazine. A friend made this for us and my husband could not get enough. He's been asking for me to make this for some time, now. He even used one of his special dinner coupons that I gave him for our anniversary.

This recipe actually comes from Otto, Mario Batali's NY Pizzeria. It is so delicious, as is! This might be one recipe I'll never tinker with.


Basic Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 3/4 cups chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup coarsely grated peeled carrots
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 28-ounce cans peeled whole tomatoes in juice

10 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
3 cups fresh breadcrumbs (from crustless French bread ground in processor)
2 large eggs
1 cup (about) all purpose flour
6 tablespoons (or more) olive oil, divided
3 cups coarsely grated well-drained fresh water-packed mozzarella,* divided
1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 1/4 cups freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram


basic tomato sauce

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic; sauté until onions are soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add carrots and thyme; sauté until carrots are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice; bring to boil, coarsely crushing tomatoes with potato masher or fork. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until sauce thickens and is reduced to generous 5 cups, about 1 hour. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Rewarm sauce before using.


Place chicken breast halves between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Using meat mallet or rolling pin, pound chicken breasts to 1/3-inch thickness. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Spread breadcrumbs on plate. Whisk eggs to blend in medium bowl. Spread flour on another plate. Coat both sides of chicken with flour, then eggs, then breadcrumbs.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add chicken to skillet and cook until brown, about 2 minutes per side, adding more oil as needed (chicken will not be cooked through). Transfer chicken to platter. Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of 15x10x2-inch glass baking dish. Arrange 1 layer of chicken over sauce. Spoon 2 cups sauce over. Sprinkle half of mozzarella, Parmesan, and Pecorino over. Repeat with remaining chicken, sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan, and Pecorino. Bake until cheeses melt and chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and marjoram and serve.

*Available in 1/3 -ounce, 1-ounce, and 8-ounce balls at many supermarkets and at specialty foods stores and Italian markets. Regular mozzarella can be substituted.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chicken Cordon Bleu

4 skinless, boneless Chicken Breast
1 slice of Deli Mozzarella cheese (processed cheese melts to quick) ¼” thick, cut into 4 strips. Block cheese works well just have to cut it to fit pocket in chicken.
1 package Budding type Ham
Flour for Dredging
Beaten Egg for Drenching
Italian seasoned Bread Crumbs for Dredging

Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees

Cut pocket in thick side of chicken breast. Roll 1 strip of cheese in ¼ of the ham slices.
Place ham and cheese into pocket of chicken, close pocket and secure with toothpicks
Dredge breast in flour then drench in egg and finally dredge in breadcrumbs, coating completely
Place in a casserole dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
Bake chicken for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Pour 2 Tablespoon lemon juice into ½ stick melted butter.
Spoon a little of lemon butter on plated chicken.

I serve this with Pasta Alfredo

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Slow Cooked Carnitas

I had a 9.5 lbs pork shoulder in my freezer and felt the need to break it down into a couple of meals. I started with the BBQ Pork, which was tasty! Then I still had a lare chunk of meat left but was looking for a way to use the avocados on my counter. So this is what I came up with:

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 - 4 pound pork shoulder roast (mine was bone in & I trimmed all the excess fat off which was a LOT)
3 bay leaves
2 cups chicken broth

1. Mix together salt, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, and cinnamon in a bowl. Coat pork with the spice mixture. Place the bay leaves in the bottom of a slow cooker and place the pork on top. Pour the chicken broth around the sides of the pork, being careful not to rinse off the spice mixture.
2. Cover and cook on Low until the pork shreds easily with a fork, about 10 hours. Turn the meat after it has cooked for 5 hours. When the pork is tender, remove from slow cooker, and shred with two forks. Use cooking liquid as needed to moisten the meat.

We used this on tortillas with rice, sour cream, shredded cheese and avocado. It was really good! We ate the left overs just as meat, not added to anything and the flavor was really nice.

I goofed and added 1/2 tsp cinnamon instead of 1/4 tsp, which is why I put the amount in bold text. I did not mind the extra cinnamon...however, next time I make this, I will add much more corriander and half again as much cumin than in the original recipe. I also added smoked paprika.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Tonight was cultural cooking group and our theme was Mediterranean Cuisine so I grabbed my favorite Sicilian recipe and hit the store...well, my husband went to the store for me as he was already out and he'd much rather be out shopping than taking care of our 4 rambunctious kiddos at dinner time :)

The recipe calls for a zucchini so my husband calls me to say there is no zucchini at the store. So I asked for yellow/crookneck/summer squash instead and the light bulb went off and he says, "Oh, is zucchini green squash?"

"YES! get the green squash," I request.

When he arrived home, he actually had a cucumber so this was made without squash which is no big deal, this recipe is one of those refrigerator specials...clean out your need-to-use produce for this dish.

2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 Medium Eggplant, diced (peeling is optional)
1 Zucchini, diced
1 14oz can artichoke hearts, rinsed & drained
1 3.8oz can sliced black olives, rinsed & drained
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 15oz can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (place in palm of one hand and use thumb of other hand to rub flakes together. Releases oils and flavor! Just be sure to scrub hands immediately afterward.)
2-3 sprigs of fresh Thyme

Heat a deep 12" skillet to medium setting add olive oil and saute garlic and onion for about 2 minutes. Add red pepper and saute for about 5 minutes more. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Turn up the heat a little and cover. Stir often to combine flavors. After about 20 minutes, bring heat back down to medium or a little lower. Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes or until veggies are tender.

Serve over toasted baguette slices, pasta or by itself. Top with grated Parmesan and enjoy!

I'll try to get a picture tomorrow...I had to rush out the door to get to cultural cooking on time :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Raw Applesauce

My friend Wendy had this recipe listed on her blog and I had to try it!

5 small apples, cored and sliced - peeled or not (your choice - I peel some and leave the skins on some)
1/3 c pineapple juice - or you could use lemon juice...just use less
2 T honey
1 t cinnamon

Blend it all together on a really low setting. I use "2" on my blender, you could pulse it on a food processor. You want there to be really tiny chunks, not liquefied.

My Version
I used 3 medium golden delicious apples, 1 of which I left the skin
1/3 cup pineapple juice
no honey
2 shakes of cinnamon, maybe 1/2 tsp

I added this to my blender and used the ice crusher setting and left the apples just a little chunky. This is super delicious and you don't lose ANY nutrients through the cooking process.

The apples were really sweet naturally so I wanted to taste this before adding honey and there was no need for it!

Friday, March 20, 2009

BBQ Pork Sandwiches

Today was a hectic day and I did not have time to fuss with an hour or so in the kitchen preparing and serving dinner. So I opted for something that could sit in the pot for a couple of hours (or slow cooker for even longer) and serve quick on sliced rolls. I was born and raised in North Carolina where they know BBQ pork. Please note, this is NOT Carolina BBQ Pork. This is quick and easy pork that beats the heck out of store bought BBQ pork, but I don't think I'll ever be able to match Carter Brothers in High Point, NC.

3 lbs pork shoulder
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tsp prepared mustard
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients except pork in large pot, dutch oven or crock pot. Add pork shoulder and coat with sauce.

If using stove top, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 2-3 hours until pork is falling apart and sauce it to desired thickness. Stir occasionally.

If using crock pot set on low temperature and cook for 6-8 hours stirring occasionally.

Pull the pork apart with a fork, stir into the sauce and pile on top of a sliced roll or hamburger bun. May top with coleslaw as I like it or chedder cheese as my husband likes it. The kids like the meat itself served with rice.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Corned beef & cabbage

I was a day late making this St Patrick's Day favorite however it's star power was not diminished by my delay.

3lbs corned beef brisket (brined with seasoning packet)
4 medium sized red potatoes, diced in large chunks (about 2 inch X 1 inch)
1/2 lbs baby carrots
1 medium onion, cut into large chunks
1/2 medium head cabbage, cut into small wedges

Remove corned beef from package, discard brine and rinse meat under cool water. Place meat in large pot, cover with water and add seasoning packet. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 50 minutes per lbs of meat (per package directions).

15 minutes before meat is done add carrots, potatoes and onion, bring back to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until veggies are fork tender. Remove beef, cover with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Add cabbage to pot with veggies, bring to a boil and cook over medium low heat for 15 minutes.

Remove veggies from pot, straining liquid. Thinly slice beef against the grain and serve over veggies.

DELICIOUS!!! The 3 kids loved the meat and kept asking for more :) I had to eat quick so I could feed the baby. Before I finished feeding the baby anything that resembled corned beef was gone so no pictures this time...will have to make again, soon.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cajun Shrimp Alfredo

2 tblsp Olive oil, divided
2 tblsp of Cajun seasoning
½ lb Shrimp, Peeled and Deveined
½ Onion, chopped
1 Garlic Clove, minced
½ small Red Bell Pepper, diced
8 oz Pasta
8oz Heavy Whipping Cream
5 Tblsp Butter, divided
¾ cup Parmesan Cheese

In a bowl lightly coat shrimp with 1 tblsp of oil then coat wth Cajun seasoning, let set in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Cook Pasta according to package directions.
In skillet heat olive oil and 1 tblsp butter over med. High heat, add onion, garlic and pepper.
Sauté until onion has become translucent, add Shrimp and cook until color changes (pinkish)
In saucepan melt remaining butter over med heat and add cream, when mixture just starts coming to a boil add cheese a little at a time, stirring until incorporated.
Top pasta with cheese mixture, then with Shrimp.
Top with extra Parmesan cheese if desired.
Serves 2

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chicken Stock

One of our followers asked, "What is chicken stock?" and I felt this was the perfect opportunity to discuss the difference between chicken stock and chicken broth as well as link you to my method for creating a delicious stock. In my previous post for homemade chicken noodle soup, I begin with how I make stock for the soup so if you choose to make your own stock please reference the above link.

What is chicken stock?
Chicken stock is a heavily concentrated reduction of bones and bony parts along with a lesser (if any) amount of breasts, thighs, and legs. Fresh vegetables and seasonings can be added for richer flavoring. After straining, stock will turn gelatinous when cooled (as opposed to broth, which remains in a mostly liquid state).

To create a true stock, the liquid and chicken carcass – plus added ingredients – must simmer for a minimum of six hours. This results in a darker concentrate that is then added to recipes. Many cooks refer to a stock as the “foundation of the kitchen,” which translates into the French “fond de cuisine.”

Buying Tips
• Good quality chicken stock can be purchased at gourmet and health food stores as well as through on-line retailers. Always read the label if purchasing in a standard grocery; be sure that it is true stock and not broth.
• Some specialty markets will save chicken carcasses upon request.
• Bony wing tips, necks, and backbones are excellent for a thick stock. Any type of chicken will work (i.e., roasters, fryers, stewing hens).

Storage Tips
• Refrigerate stock as soon as it cools. It should remain good for about three days. To “freshen,” re-simmer for about fifteen minutes, cool, and return to the fridge.
• Since stock is concentrated, it can be frozen in ice cube trays, then popped into freezer bags. Remove a cube or two as needed for soups and stews. It will be good for several months in the freezer.

Usage Tips
• Remember: stock can be used to create a broth, but not the reverse.
• When boiling a chicken for salads or cooked dishes, remove the meat and return the bones to the liquid. Continue simmering for the perfect stock.
• The most common vegetables used to make stock are onions, celery, and carrots (mirepoix).
• Use stock for deglazing; broth will not work.
• Mixed with flour to create a veloute, one of the “mother sauces.”

Substitution Tips
• Chicken broth can be used in many recipes, but the flavor will not be as full.

Thank you Big Oven for the informative article on chicken stock.

What is chicken broth?
Chicken broth is technically a reduction of liquid from the various meaty parts of a chicken that are simmered in water. Vegetables are often added to increase flavor. The breasts and/or legs and thighs are removed after approximately three hours of cooking and used in other dishes.
Broth tends to be more liquid and lower in fat, especially when allowed to cool and the top layer is skimmed. At this stage, a thin broth can be strained, seasoned, and consumed as soup.

• Homemade broth has better flavor than commercially canned products.
• Canned and carton broths are convenient and will keep for a very long time unopened. Reduced sodium and organic versions are available.
• Bouillon cubes and granules (also available in reduced sodium) are handy and have an even longer shelf life.

Buying Tips
• Look for “stewing” hens for making broth (as opposed to roasters).

Storage Tips
• Fresh broth can be kept in the refrigerator for about three days. It is easily frozen and will keep for several months.
• Freeze in small quantities that can be thawed – as needed - slowly in the microwave.

Usage Tips
• To keep fresh broth clear, bring the chicken parts and water to a boil and reduce the heat. For about twenty minutes, continuously skim the surface to remove proteins.
• If it does cloud, simmer for a few minutes with an egg white and strain to turn it into a clear consommé.
• Broth – fresh or canned – can be substituted for water when cooking rice.
• When making broth, do not include the heart or liver, which will darken the liquid. Also, use seasonings and other additives sparingly; these can be included when the broth is used in a recipe.
• Because broth is lighter than stock, it can be used as a partial water substitute in many milder recipes.
• To tenderize and add flavor to a tough onion, chop and simmer for two hours in a saucepan filled with broth. Strain and reuse the broth at a later time.

Substitution Tips
• Chicken stock with water added.

Thank you Big Oven for the informative article on chicken broth.

Parmesan Risotto

(2 large servings)

1 Cup uncooked rice (I use regular long grain)
½ small onion
3 cups chicken stock
3 tbsps grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsps olive oil
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)

Peel and finely chop onion, place onion in sauté pan with the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté until onions become transparent.
Without washing the rice add it to the saucepan with the onion. Sauté the rice for 30 seconds.
Add ¼ cup of the stock, simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Pour half the remaining stock into the saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat so the surface bubbles gently and continues to simmer. When the stock has mostly simmered off, add three-fifths of the remaining stock and simmer over medium heat. Turn the heat down slightly when it comes to a boil stirring the rice gently to prevent it from becoming too sticky. When most of the liquid has evaporated add the remaining stock. If the rice seems to have already absorbed a lot of water you can reduce the amount of stock you add. Continue to simmer over medium heat until the rice is cooked but still slightly firm in the center. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the stove. Add the butter and the parmesan and stir until they are completely mixed in with the rice.

Risotto is now ready (Enjoy)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Top Foods People Love or Hate

Someone showed me this article on yahoo:

The links to the recipes didn't come through when I cut-and-paste so go to the original link to get those

The Top Foods People Love or Hate
Posted Mon, Mar 02, 2009, 3:55 pm PST

Certain foods are as polarizing as hometown sports teams and politics. Here at Serious Eats, we've put together a list of eleven love-or-hate foods. If you love them, be proud. We've included a recipe highlighting each controversial flavor.

1. White Chocolate: The "chocolate" part trips people up. It's really just a sweet confection (no cocoa involved). Moving on from terminology, when good, it's creamy and vanilla-y, but like "normal" chocolate, when bad, it's just waxy calories.
Recipe for white chocolate bark with fresh mint, almonds, and dried berries

2. Cilantro: Soapy, rotten, or just plain vile are popular complaints from cilantro haters. Did you know Julia Child hated the leafy herb? But behavioral neuroscientists would argue that America's food darling had no control. It's all about genetics. Studies have linked liking cilantro to being able to detect the "pleasing" chemicals in the leaf.
Recipe for white beans and cilantro

3. Eggplant: For some, it's an old purple sponge and others, the soft-firm texture is what makes a veggie sandwich or an Italian pasta dish. Raw is never good, but fried, grilled, or roasted (always doused with gobs of olive oil), eggplant deserves another chance. Or, the vegetarian sponge will always make you nauseous -- and the roof of your mouth mysteriously itch.
Recipe for eggplant lamb lavash wrap

4. Coconut: The smell in shampoo and sunblock is one thing. But the sawdust-like shreds of real coconut can mean chewing and chewing forever until you eventually swallow the darn lump. Sprinkled on pies, cakes, and chicken, coconut either adds a mild tropical zing or a vile, never-ending chewing party. That's when it comes out that a lot of coconut haters don't even know about young fresh coconut which is as soft as a Hawaiian baby's bottom.
Recipe for coconut domes

5. Tomato: This one really comes down to texture. Slimy and gritty is never good for the tomato world. The cooked, soft version brings in a few fans. Others are only in it for the vine-picked version during their peak season in August (cut to romantic images of Italian countrysides). Others can only bear them on pizza or completely masked inside ketchup.
Recipe for marinated tomatoes with linguine

6. Anchovies: Cat food or human food? A small whiff can make you seasick or have you loading them on pizza and Caesar salads. Whether fresh or in flat metal cans, the salty little fish has some so obsessed, they'll eat the bones.
Recipe for roasted sardines with bread crumbs, garlic, and mint

7. Black licorice: Even the red licorice-tolerant may draw the line here. Black licorice gum, jelly beans, tea, Good n' Plentys, and Jägermeister—get it out. Along with any herb, like anise or fennel, that resembles the flavor. Out. Lovers say it's an acquired taste, but I think the little kids have it straight here. Not a real candy.
Recipe for baked fennel with prosciutto

8. Stinky cheeses: If this smell came from something else (a shoe or dog), I might take issue, but knowing it's from a dairy gob, growing moldy in a controlled environment, I'm fine with the pungent aroma. When others sniff Gorgonzola or Roquefort, they're convinced that feet or laundry were actually involved.
Recipe for tortellini with Gorgonzola cream sauce

9. Mayo: Whether Hellmann's or even Miracle Whip, does the creamy off-white slime strip the taste off food or magically make anything better? Haters have been told to try it homemade, but for many, this won't make a tuna or egg salad look any less scary.
Recipe for avocado mayonnaise

10. Bell Pepper: To some, all those colorful strips are a mouthful of crisp freshness. To others, they're the backseat driver of vegetables. On a pizza or in pasta, they're supposed to be one of many veggie passengers, but no. The bell pepper's always got to be the loud guy telling your taste buds where to go -- and green, he's the loudest. Green is actually unripened, picked from the vine before its more sweet (and edible) brethren.
Recipe for angel hair pasta with red pepper pesto and basil

11. Beets: Despite all my white T-shirts you have stained purple, I still love you, beets. People fear you from an early age, but roasted or pickled, you take on a whole new form. The other camp thinks that the beet smell is such a toss-up between ick and gross and that the beet taste is so much like a metallic vitamin that it's just not meant to be.
Recipe for roasted beet salad

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sauteed Pork with Mustard

4 7-oz pork loin (I have used regular bonless pork chops)
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)

Mustard Sauce:

2 1/2 tbsps butter
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsps whole-grain mustard
2 tsps lemon juice

Pound the pork to uniform thickness, then score the fat around the pork slicing partway into the meat.
Sprinkle salt and pepper on the pork.
Pour 2 tbsp of oil into panover medium heat.
Saute' pork until golden brown on both sides, once browned turn heat to low and cook until done.
When pork is finished remove from pan and reserve.
Wipe pan with paper towels.

Put the 2 1/2 tbsps butter in pan over medium heat, Once the butter has melted add the 2/3 cup of cream. Mix the Mustard and the Lemon Juice with the cream.
Bring the sauce to a boil and cook until it slightly thickens, then place the sauteed pork back in the pan and coat it with sauce.

Serve with veg. of your choice.

Over-used Recipes Swap

Monday, February 9, 2009

Pizza, part II

My family enjoyed last week's pizza so much that we had pizza again tonight. I made a really yummy cheeseburger pizza and wanted to share it with you.

I followed the dough recipe found in the original pizza post. I made a thicker crust, approximately 3/4 inch thick, uncooked. I then topped in this order:
pizza sauce
garlic powder
dill relish
prepared mustard
Wisconsin sharp cheddar and mozzarella cheeses
cooked ground beef
caramelized onions.

IT WAS FABULOUS!!! I made one without mustard and pickles for my picky husband and he told me it was the best pizza he had ever had. The caramelized onions really add depth to the pizza...I think the only thing that could have made this particular pizza better would have been a bit of bacon.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner since I did not plan ahead and put anything out of the freezer. I thought about the scanty ingredients I had; I rarely get to the grocery these days, with 4 kids it's hard to find room in the cart for the food.

I realized I had everything I needed for pizza and this is a kid favorite. It's mostly a kid favorite because they get to help build the pizza. So I searched for a quick pizza dough and found this one. I used a bit more flour (1/4-1/2 cup) than the recipe called for and I added 1 tsp garlic powder and onion powder, 1/4-1/2 tsp dried parsley, thyme and oregano directly to the dough.

I divided the dough in half so I could make two pizzas. I was able to stretch the dough working it by hand and never used the rolling pin. I put down a flexible cutting board, put a piece of aluminum foil on top of that and put the dough right onto the foil. This allows me to heat my stone in the oven so when I put my pizza on it is already hot. The foil also allows me to remove my pizza from the oven without having to take the stone out. This is helpful when making multiple pizzas. I can build a second pizza while the first is baking and not need additional pans.

I lightly dressed one side with pizza sauce and left one side with just olive oil on the crust...two of my children don't like red sauce and one does. I added some grated parmesan and fresh grated mozzarella. Since I divided the dough I only baked for 15 minutes at 400 degrees rather than the recommended 20 minutes at 350 degrees in the recipe.

When making a pizza for myself I love to add chicken, fresh brocolli, black olives, cooked ground turkey, fresh tomatoes, spinach, bacon...well just about anything! Tonight I caramelized onions added fresh mushrooms and black olives.

The only thing I would have changed would have been to add garlic powder on top of the pizza sauce, otherwise the herbs in the crust flavored the pizza beautifully!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Chicken Noodle Soup

I love chicken noodle soup, but do not like it made with chicken broth so I take the time to make chicken stock so my chicken noodle soup is rich and delicious. This is time consuming, but worth the effort in my opinion.

For Stock

5 pounds chicken pieces, wings, backs and necks. (If you purchase whole chickens to cut up for a recipe, you can always remove these parts and freeze them until you have enough to make stock.)
4 quarts cold water
2 onions
3 carrots
3 celery stalks

For Sachet:
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs of fresh parsley
12 whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried

Place the chicken pieces and vegetables in a sturdy roasting pan. You may want to apply a thin layer of oil or spray Pam to the surface to prevent sticking. Roast the chicken and vegetables until the chicken pieces are brown. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a large stock pot.
If there is a lot of fat floating on the surface of the roasting pan, remove it with a spoon but leave the wonderful caramelized juices that are a result of roasting the ingredients. Put the roasting pan on your stove top and add 1 quart of the water. The pan is already hot so be careful and be sure to use your oven mitts.

Using a wooden spoon, scrape any brown bits of chicken or vegetables that may be stuck to the bottom of the pan and mix them into the rest of the liquids. Pour the combined water and juices over the chicken and vegetables in the stock pot.

Add the rest of the water to the stock pot and bring the heat up to high. You want to watch this closely at this point because as soon as the water comes to a boil, you want to reduce the heat to a nice gentle simmer. You will find impurities floating to the top in the form of fat or foam. Remove it with a spoon.

Make your sachet and add it to the pot

Gently simmer for 3 to 4 hours removing any impurities as they form on the surface. When done, remove the sachet and strain the stock through a fine meshed strainer. Let the stock cool and then transfer it to airtight containers and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. You may find a thin layer of fat that has congealed on the surface of the stock after you have refrigerated it. Just scrape it off with a spoon. You can also freeze your brown chicken stock up to 3 months.
You now have a rich, flavorful, important ingredient that you can use to make all sorts of soups and stews.

If your chicken stock does not taste as rich as you would like, put back in to a pot and reduce until you get the delicious flavor you're looking for. And don't add salt!!! If you are saving your stock for use in multiple recipes then you can add and adjust salt with each recipe rather than in the stock.

Now for the chicken soup:

1 tbsp olive oil
2 lbs chicken cut into one inch cubes (skinless dark or white meat)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 lbs carrots, chopped
2-3 leeks, sliced into 1/2 inch rings
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
5 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried parsley
salt to taste
approx. 4 cups chicken stock
12 oz package egg noodles

In a large pot add olive oil and heat over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add chicken pieces sprinkle with salt. Cook chicken until brown on all sides, add garlic, onions, leeks, carrots, celery, thyme, poultry seasoning, peppercorns, parsley and bay leaves. Continue to cook for 3-5 minutes stirring often. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil then cover and cook for 90 minutes. Check level of liquid, you need enough liquid to add your egg noodles. If you do not have enough liquid, add more stock or water if the liquid is very concentrated. Add egg noodles, cook for 5-10 minutes (depending on size of your noodles).

Homemade Oreo Cookies

Posting this recipe was inspired by my blogging buddy Crash. She had this odd dream about eating fruity oreos and I instantly started thinking of how to make fruity oreos. So I'm taking a favorite recipe and putting a spin on it.

My friend, Tsugumi, joined in a cookie exchange I hosted a few years ago. She brought the BEST oreo cookies. The cookie is soft, cakey and chocolaty. Here is the recipe:

Cookie Ingredients

2 Devil's food cake mixes
1/2 cup flour
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs

Filling Ingredients

8oz package cream cheese
1/2 c butter, softened
6-7 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla


For cookies - Combine all ingredients, mix well.
Roll into 1.5 inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet
Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes. Cool completely.

For filling - Combine all ingredients, mix well.
you may add milk to thin or powdered sugar to thicken to the correct consistency.
Spread or pipe filling on bottom side of a cookie and top with another cookie to create a sandwich.

Now for the fruity part! You can make fruity oreos by adding orange extract to the filling or you could add fresh fruit or jams. Thinly slice strawberries, bananas, apricots and layer with the filling or mash fresh raspberries and smear a bit on one cookie with cream filling on the other cookie and then sandwich together! You could even add dried cherries. There are many options for fruity oreos :) If the post to Hawaii were not so lengthy I'd make some and send them to you, Crash :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

ABC Salad

My mother-in-law recently discovered this salad and I loved the textures as well as the sweet and sour taste of the dressing. Super simple and all ingredients that I normally have in the house, This recipe is courtesy of Taste of Home.


1/2 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cranberries
3 large red apples, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups fresh broccoli florets
1/2 cup chopped walnuts


In a bowl, whisk the oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, sugar and salt. Add cranberries; let stand for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, toss apples with remaining lemon juice. Add the broccoli, walnuts and cranberry mixture; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until chilled. Toss before serving. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Trail Mix Cookies

When my in-laws were fighting over the last cookie, I knew this was a recipe I needed to post! This cookie originally started as an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, but I've adapted it to suit my family's tastes. I put the oats in a food processor to make a sort of meal or coarse flour instead of using the whole rolled oat. I prefer the chunky part of the cookie to be from dried fruits and nuts rather than the oat itself. You can add in anything you like or use the dough plain to make a smooth oatmeal cookie, this is how my husband really likes it.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 1/3 cups rolled oats (processed into a coarse flour)
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Optional ingredients-
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4-1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets.
Thoroughly cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then mix in vanilla and egg.

Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt then mix just until dough is formed. Stir in raisins, cranberries, pecans and chocolate chips.

Use a two inch cookie scoop to shape cookies and place 1-2 inches apart on cookie sheet.

Bake 10-11 minutes let cool on pan for 2 minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool.

Do not over baked these cookies if you want them soft!!! The cookies will appear under cooked when removed from oven but will continue to cook on the pan. If cooked for more than 10-11 minutes you will have a crunchy cookie.

If you're using the plain dough, place cookies 2 inches apart on pan.
Substitute mini M & M's for the chocolate chips or walnuts for pecans or dried cherries for the whatever sounds good to you!