Friday, December 31, 2010

Asparagus Puff Ring

This recipe was the Grand Prize Winner in the first issue of "Taste of Home" magazine I ever received (April/May 1997). I am generally leary of baking any kind of bread, but since no yeast is involved, I gave it a try. Several times! It's so easy and really good. I keep meaning to try it with shrimp in place of the ham, but with our leftover honeybaked ham, had to be ham again!


3/4 cup water
6 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, divided


1 lb fresh asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
1/4 cup diced onion
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan
2 cups diced cooked ham

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring water and butter to a boil. Add flour and salt all at once; stir until a smooth ball forms. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each; beat until smooth. Stir in 3 Tbsp Parmesan.

Using 1 scant 1/4 cup (about 3 Tbsp) of dough, form a ring around the sides of a greased 10" quiche pan or pie plate (mounds should touch). Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook asparagus until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes depending on thickness of spears; drain. In a saucepan, saute onion in butter until tender. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Gradually add milk; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; stir in cheese until melted. Stir in ham and asparagus. Spoon in to ring. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Asparagus Puff Ring-Dough

This is what the dough looks like in a pie dish before baking.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Microwave Nut Brittle

About a year ago, I ran across an Alton Brown recipe for microwave peanut brittle. Brittle peanut was a holiday tradition in my home growing up and the only thing I can ever remember my father preparing. I remember him standing in our kitchen over the stove stirring a big cast-iron skillet full of makings for peanut brittle.

I'm not a baker. I like to cook. Baking is a stretch for me so, if you know anything about candy, you can only imagine how I dread the thought of making candy. But my friend Donna's husband, Gene, loves toffee and peanut brittle. I thought I had the toffee mastered but had a bad run of luck with it last year so I'm a bit gun-shy. But this brittle recipe is so easy, full-proof, and quick that I have no fears!

A few notes before the recipe. Peanuts are, of course, the obvious choice. But just about any nut will do. I made one batch of peanuts and one of cashews using Emerald Salt & Pepper Cashews. Oh so good! Thanks to Alton's suggestion of using cinnamon and cayenne (who'd a thunk it?) the black pepper in the cashews bumps it up one more level. This is my new favorite.

First, my microwave is a 1000 watt oven, so you may need to adjust times if yours is another wattage. Secondly, it is very important to use a heavy glass Pyrex bowl as the brittle is extremely hot. Third, between each step I clean the utensil I am using (a wooden spoon) to stir the mixture and re-spray it with canola oil Pam. Fourth, have ready a cookie sheet.....I cover mine with aluminum foil and then spray it with Pam for easy clean up. Lastly, I have all my ingredients ready and lined up so they can be stirred into each phase without losing time. And it is helpful if you have someone else while you pour out the brittle onto the baking sheet to help smooth out the mixture so you won't have one big mound of candy......a thinner candy is crisper. REMEMBER REMEMBER REMEMBER........this mixture is extremely hot and could cause serious injury if you're not careful. Make sure no pets or children are anywhere near the kitchen in case you drop the bowl!


1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup........microwave 2 minutes, stir, then microwave 3 minutes

add, then stir:
1/2 tsp cayenne
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup nuts........if using halves or pieces of nuts, microwave for 2 minutes. If using full nuts, microwave for 3 minutes

add, then stir:
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp butter......microwave 90 seconds

add, then stir:
1 tsp baking soda

Pour onto baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with Pam. Spread out with utensils sprayed with Pam. It cools pretty quickly, then break it into the size of pieces you like.

Ham Jambalaya

For Christmas dinner, we picked a a Honeybaked Ham Co. ham. We don't get them very often since they're pretty pricey, but we do enjoy every bite! And there are so many wonderful recipes that use the leftover ham. This is a really, really easy one and if you like okra, and we do, this comes out so very tasty, thanks in part to the wonderful honeybaked ham.
This recipe serves four and I make the entire recipe so I'd have leftovers and am so glad I did! I wasn't paying attention to the recipe and cooked the rice separately, so if I thought this recipe was easy the way I did it, you could make it in a snap if you made the rice with the jambalaya instead of separately.
2 cups cooked ham, diced
1 cup green pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
10 oz sliced fresh okra
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 cup uncooked rice
hot sauce to taste
Combine all ingredients except rice in a large, heavy skillet; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in rice and simmer, tightly covered, for 20 minutes or longer, or until rice is tender.


We woke up Saturday morning to a gently falling snow and thought......isn't this nice....a White Christmas. But it kept on and on until 3 p.m. We got around 5"! It was a wonderful surprise and a beautiful Christmas Day!

Lazy Christmas Eve afternoon

After a tiring morning at the Dog Park and getting ready for Santa, the girls spend a quiet afternoon resting and contemplating........

Shrimp Teriyaki Fried Rice

WOW!!! I can't believe it's been over a week since I posted anything! I got a bit busy around Christmas and, while I took photos of different meals, The Girls, and The Snow, I just didn't get it posted. But I'm back on track now and ready for 2011!

I thought I had posted this recipe before but didn't see it as I looked at past posts. I've made it several times and it has never disappointed. Whenever I cook up a batch of rice, I always make extra to stick in the freezer for a quick dinner. I try to stick with Brown Basmati rice, but I just love Jasmine rice so it's kinda 50/50 as to which I use. Either works wonderfully with this recipe. Also, if you can find the teriyaki sauce brand "Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki," USE IT! It makes all the difference. I've never had trouble finding this is carried in both of our local supermarkets.

Also, feel free to throw in whatever vegetables you have. I'll list the recipe I originally found below, but here are some of the variations I have used (and I usually half the recipe since there are just two of us): scramble an egg or two (or add Egg Beaters) and add to the rice as it warms and until the egg is cooked, julienned red peppers, frozen peas and/or carrots, cabbage (I'll add the cabbage near the end before I like the crunch, but add it early if you like it cooked/softer), or I like chopped water chestnuts, also for their crunch,  grated get the idea.  I've also substituted shrimp for the chicken. or used cooked, rotisserie chicken in place of the uncooked chicken.

2 cups uncooked rice (4-5 cups cooked)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large chicken breast, finely sliced (about 1 lb)......shrimp also works
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1-2 cups sugar snap peas
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce

Cook rice as directed on packaged (or use leftover cooked rice). Over med-high heat, stir fry the chicken in 1 Tbsp olive oil until fully cooked. Remove from pan. Add the other Tbsp olive oil and saute green onions and carrots over medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir in peas, rice, and chicken. Pour in the teriyaki sauce and stir to distribute evenly. Cook another few minutes to heat throughout, stirring constantly.
I've served this with baked egg rolls or egg-drop soup.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Brazilian Chicken Curry

You know, I'll never post any recipe I wouldn't cook at least one more time, probably much more. A bunch of staples here, but every once in a while there's a dish that says "Oh my, that was good!" Here's one of them.

This is a Publix Apron's recipe. Another fast and easy recipe. I'm sitting here thinking..."there's a bit of leftovers downstairs.....hmmmm." Absolutely we'll be doing this one again, and I'll certainly double the recipe next time. I altered the recipe a bit because I wanted more sauce. The recipe below made enough for two with just a tiny bit leftover. I made jasmine rice and asparagus to go with it (the asparagus was a really good match).


1/2 small sweet onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 small russet potato, chopped into about 1/2-3/4" cubes
2 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 pound chicken, diced into bite-sized pieces
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp coarsely-ground black pepper
1 tsp curry
1 cup light coconut milk
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp minced garlic
Cooked rice

Coat onions, peppers, and potato with cooking spray. Saute in a pan until browned.

Coat chicken with cooking spray, then season with salt, pepper, and curry. Add chicken to vegetables, cook and stir 3-4 minutes or until chicken has browned on all sides.

Whisk coconut milk, tomato paste, ginger, and garlic into chicken/vegetable mixture until smooth and potatoes are tender. Stir in cilantro. Serve over rice.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Roasted Beet Salad/Red Wine Shallot Vinaigrette

This was I salad I used to make at a restaurant I worked at in Red Wing, MN. It it really a beautiful presentation and would probably be well-suited for a woman's get-together. I think next time I will probably at least double the beets (I just love beets) and their sweetness nicely balances out the saltiness of the olives and capers. For the two of us, I just used two roasted (small-ish) beets, I'll definitely up that to at least two large beets, or four small ones. Serve simply with some nice artisan bread. This recipe makes two large main salads.


3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp minced shallots
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt


Freshly roasted beets (I wrap each one of mine in aluminum foil, like you might a potato, and roast at about 450 for 45-60 minutes, until a knife comes out easily, skin when cooled and thinly slice)
1/2 bag Spring Mix
1 romaine heart, chopped
Ricotta cheese
Italian Seasoning
Kalamata olives (I prefer oil-cured), pitted
Marinated red peppers

Blend together all vinaigrette ingredients.

Mix Italian Seasoning to taste into the ricotta cheese.

Toss salad greens with some vinaigrette, add a spoonful of ricotta mixture (I used about a quarter/cup) and mix in. Use your (clean) hands for even coverage.

Put a thin layer of dressed greens in the center of a salad plate. Top with 4 thinly sliced beets, another layer of greens, another layer of beets, building as high as you'd like, ending with sliced beets. Surround with 5 olives, put 5 red pepper strips up the sides and sprinkle about a Tablespoon of capers over the top.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Chicken Saltimbocca

I have been so busy working on my Christmas gifts that cooking has taken, well, a back burner. Meals this week have to be fast and easy. So naturally I resorted to my Publix Aprons recipes. I had everything in the house and this meal came together and was on the table within 30 minutes.
1/4 cup flour
1 pound boneless chicken cutlets
1 Tbsp canola oil
4 slices prosciutto (about 2 1/2 oz)
1/8 tsp pepper
4 small sage leaves
4 thin slices Swiss cheese
1 cup tomato basil pasta sauce, warmed
Preheat large saute pan 2-3 minutes. Place flour in shallow bowl. Dip chicken in flour, coating both sides, then shake off excess flour.
Place oil in pan, add chicken. Cook 3-4 minutes on on side.
Turn chicken; reduce heat to medium. Place one prosciutto slice on each cutlet and sprinkle with epper; add one sage leaf and top with one cheese slice. Cover and cook 3-4 more minutes until chicken is done.
Spoon sauce onto serving plates, place chicken on sauce, serve (I cooked some linguine and serve the sauce and chicken on top).
1 bag arugula (4-5 oz)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 Tbsp cooked bacon pieces
2 Tbsp diced onions
2 Tbsp Caesar dressing
Mix all ingredients (except dressing) and then toss with dressing.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cherry Kisses Cookies

I think this makes a pretty holiday cookie. It's basically a flavored shortbread. Nice to have something a bit different. And they're pretty tasty even without the chocolate!
makes about 2 1/2 dozen
1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp maraschino cherry juice
1/2 tsp almond extract (I'll increase it to 1 tsp next time)
2 drops red food coloring
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, drained and chopped
Hershey's Kisses
Cream butter and powdered sugar together, add cherry juice, almond extract, red food coloring, and salt. Beat well.
Add flour 1/2 cup at a time. Scrape bowl.
Add cherries and mix only enough to blend. Dough will be stiff.
Using a small cookie scoop (or a heaping tablespoon), place dough on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Smush down a bit as there's not much spread to these cookies.
Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.
Remove from oven and immediately place a Hershey's Kiss on the top of each cookie, pressing down slightly.
Cool on a wire rack.

Power Enchiladas

A friend got this recipe from a personal trainer years ago. I think it's my favorite enchilada recipe to date. It just all works together so well. I served this with charro beans and my favorite Spanish rice recipe from "The Joy of Cooking." I made just half of the following recipe, and it was plenty for the two of us with some left over. The leftovers are just as good!

4 oz chicken broth
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup grated zucchini
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or diced
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 1/2 cup+ low fat mozzarella cheese
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies
4 cloves garlic
1 (19 oz) green enchilada sauce
8-10 tortillas
sliced black olives for garnish, optional
Light or fat-free sour cream
Preheat oven to 350. In a large frying pan, bring chicken broth and canola oil to boiling. Add onion and green pepper to broth and saute until onions are tender. Add grated zucchini and saute until just cooked. Drain off liquid and remove pan from heat. Add cooked chicken to vegetable mixture and stir. Add cilantro, 1 1/4 cups of cheese, green chilies, and garlic. Stir to combine.

Layer 1/2 cup enchilada sauce into the bottom of a 13x9 dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Fill tortillas with meat and vegetable mixture. Spoon about 1 Tbsp enchilada sauce over meat mixture. Roll tortillas up and turn enchilada seam down. Ladle remaining sauce over enchiladas, making sure tortillas are completely covered in sauce (so they don't dry out). Cover with tin foil and bake 12-15 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle enchiladas with remaining 1/4 cup (or a little more) of cheese. Bake 10 minutes more until cheese is melted. Then turn on broiler until cheese is slightly brown and crispy. Garnish with olives and sour cream.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cranberry Bread

I have never tried much less made Cranberry Bread so when I ran across the recipe, I thought, "Why not?" This came out perfectly, a moist-moist inside and that nice crunchy/chewy crust. The tartness of the cranberries is just wonderful. Generally I would always put nuts in a fruit bread and I may try walnuts the next time I make this. This recipe also calls for raisins (ickkk.... I only put raisins in my meatballs!) but I'm leaving it the recipe in case you're a fan. This would make a wonderful Christmas breakfast treat.
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup cold butter
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp (I used 2) grated orange peel
3/4 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice (1 large orange)
1 1/2 cups light raisins (if you dare)
1 1/2 cups (about 5 1/2 oz) fresh cranberries, chopped (I used my mini-food processor)
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add egg, orange peel, and orange juice all at once; stir until mixture is evenly moist. Fold in raisins and cranberries. Spoon into a greased 9x5x3" loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool in pan on wire rack for about 10 or 15 minutes, remove from pan, let loaf cool or wire rack.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

DIY Holiday Pillows

I just ran across this idea is so easy!

Instead of spending $15+ (I just looked at Pottery Barn's pillows which range from $30-$50) for a holiday pillow, pick up a double-sided placement. I got these at Target for $4. Using a seam ripper, open the seam a few inches and stuff it with polyester fiberfill (I got this at Jo-Ann fabrics). If you have a sewing machine (I don't), just stitch it back up. I used a needle and thread. And that's it! I have a feeling I'm going to turn into a full-time pillow maker!

I'll definitely be keeping an eye out at clearance tables, and after any holiday when stuff goes half-price. Just think, you could have pillows for every holiday (Easter, 4th of July, Halloween.....any holiday)!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Salmon Satay with Orange Jasmine Rice

Tonight's Publix dinner was Salmon Satay. I used the leftover Pineapple Rice from last night to serve with it and made the "Chopstick Salad," a salad made with broccoli slaw. I didn't exactly follow the salmon recipe, I used some of the prepared Peanut Sauce (photo above) and just added some minced ginger and sesame oil to it. This was a fast and delicious dinner.
The recipe I'll list is the full Publix recipe. Again, I just doctored up the Peanut Sauce and used the leftover pineapple rice we had last night. Their recipe makes four servings.
1 cup water
1 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1 cup jasmine rice
1 1/2 pound salmon fillets, skin removed
1/3 cup sesame ginger marinade
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp peanut butter
Combine in medium saucepan, water, orange juice, and seaoned salt; cover and bring to a boil for rice.
Stir rice into boiling mixture and return to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low; cook 15 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.
Cut salmon into eight equal pieces. Combine marinade, sesame oil, and peanut butter; reserve one-third of the mixture for final step. Brush one-half of the remaining mixture over both sides of salmon.
I broiled the salmon, maybe 4-5 minutes. You could turn it over if you wish half-way through the broil.
Use the reserved marinade as a dipping sauce. Serve salmon over rice.
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup EVOO
1 (12-oz) package broccoli slaw
(I halved the dressing recipe, using only 1/4 cup EVOO, 2 Tbsp RWV, and 1/2 Tbsp soy)
Toast the almonds and sesame seeds. Whisk the dressing and toss everything together.

Chex Party Mix

Let's step back in time, shall we? Who amongst us has not eaten Chex Party Mix sometime between Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl? This is something always in our home during that period. Since I make so much of it, I've kinda figured out a recipe that works for us and that I can keep around for those two months. Plus, I find that stores usually run specials featuring the ingredients during this time so you can usually stock up and make this on the cheap(er). Although I have found the wheat Chex at Wal-Mart for $2 compared to almost twice that amount at my local grocery stores. The original recipe is a bit different, I've adjusted this one to our tastes. My friend Donna (HI DONNA!!!!!), a fellow foodie has never made this (you might want to throw in a dash or two of Nunu's Seasoning or more hot sauce, Donna) and asked that I post the recipe. Here it be:

12 oz Crispix (I buy Publix Crispy Corn/'s a half/half version of Chex Corn and Chex Rice cereals))
14 oz Wheat Chex
11.5 oz Cheez-It (I like Cheez-It Grooves/Sharp White Cheddar flavor)
8 oz pretzel sticks (I like Snyder's of Hanover Nibblers/Honey Mustard & Onion 11 oz bag)
10-18 oz Deluxe mixed nuts
Mix all this stuff together. This amount will make two batches of Party Mix. Put half in a ziplock bag for batch #2. For the other half:

Preheat oven to 250.

Melt 1 stick butter in a 13x9 glass baking dish in the oven. When melted, add in 3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1-3 Tbsp Louisiana Hot Sauce (depending on how much heat you like, I use 1 1/2 Tbsp), and

1 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

Whisk all this together. Now, I have a great big yellow plastic bowl that I put all the cereal in and then pour this mixture's much easier to mix it up this way instead of using the 13x9 dish.

Then, put all the cereal back in the baking dish. You'll bake the mix for a total of one hour, stirring every 15 minutes (I take the mix out ever 15 minutes, pour it into the plastic bowl and stir it, then put it back in the baking dish......I think this gives the mixing a much better coverage.)

The variations on the mix are endless.....use whatever you like in the amounts you like. But you just gotta have Party Mix around this time of year!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Floribbean Shrimp, Island Rice, and Sugar Snap Peas

OK, I am in the first week of frantic stamping to try to get my Christmas gifts done and in the mail. I told Jim that this week (and probably next....thank goodness for Priority Mail) would have shortcuts in cooking and homecare. Lots of Publix menus on the list.
These are great little recipes this grocery store puts out. For the most part, these are meals that can be put together and on the table in under an hour, oftentimes under half an hour. I'd been wanting to try this recipe for a long time (I have so many Publix recipes they're hard to choose just one) so tonight was the night. I made enough rice to use with another Publix recipe tomorrow night, so that will only quicken my cooking time. The only disappointment in this meal was that I overcooked the sugar snaps peas a bit (we like them with a bit of a snap). Great shrimp and rice.
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp honey
4 drops liquid smoke flavoring
1 tsp lemon pepper
1/8 tsp curry powder
1 pound peeled/deveined large shrimp
1 Tbsp garlic butter
Combine all ingredients (except shrimp and garlic butter) in medium bowl.
Pat shrimp dry and stir into mixture; let stand 10 minutes to marinate.
Preheat large saute pan on medium-high on 2-3 minutes. Place butter in pan; swirl to coat. Add shrimp; cook 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, or just until shrimp turn pink and opaque. Serve over rice.
1 cup water (less if using extra pineapple juice)
1 (6 oz)can pineapple juice (I used two)
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp allspice (optional)
black pepper, to taste
2 cups instant rice (I used Jasmine rice and cooked in a rice cooker)
Combine all ingredients (except rice) in medium saucepan). Cover and bring to boil on high. (I combined rice and all ingredients in rice cooker and set to "COOK." The amount of water is indicated on the cooker, I first added the 12 oz pineapple juice and filled to the line with water)
Stir rice into boiling mixture. Cover and remove from heat: let stand 5 minutes or until water is absorbed. Serve.
16 oz frozen sugar snap peas
1 Tbsp garlic butter
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
Place peas in microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on HIGH 3 minutes or until defrosted (I went 2 minutes and think they were still a bit too cooked.)
Drain peas and return to bowl; stir in butter and seasoned salt. Cover and microwave 2 more minutes (I would go less) or until peas are tender (we prefer crisp). Stir and serve.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Beef Stew

Last night when we heard the weather forecast (high in the mid-30's), I asked Jim if he had any suggestions for Monday night's dinner. He suggested either chili or beef stew. Since we so seldom eat beef (except for the occasional burger when we go out to eat), it sounded pretty good for a really cold night (stew, not chili as I always use ground turkey breast to make chili). Since beef stew was not a part of my up-bringing and the only place I had ever made it was at a restaurant I worked at in Minnesota, that was the recipe I went to. Now when we made it at this restaurant, it was in a much larger quantity, so I kind of whittled down the amounts to work for us. This recipe would probably make four very hearty servings. The recipe is in weights so you'll need a scale. It really did hit the spot tonight and has a deep, savory flavor.
In a large saucepan or smaller stockpot, combine:
3 cups water
2 oz onions
2 oz celery
2 oz frozen green beans
4 oz carrots
1 oz beef base
1/2 to 1 tsp Kitchen Bouquet
minced garlic, to taste
coarsley ground black pepper, to taste
Bring to a boil, lower heat for a few minutes. Add 1 pound diced russet potato.
In the meantime, prepare a roux:
1.5 oz flour
3 Tbsp butter
Whisk on medium heat until beginning to brown. Add to above mixture when vegetables are about tender. Thicken stew.
At end, add:
2 oz frozen green peas (can be thawed)
4-6 oz cooked beef (I used boneless chuck roast cooked in a crockpot).
Prepare a fire in your fireplace, warm some good bread or prepare some rolls, and warm yourself with some tasty beef stew!

Lindie's Monday Night Activity

While Jim and I were out of the room, I guess little Lindie Lou Who was bored. So she decided she needed to rearrange one of her beds. We came into the living room shortly thereafter. The aftermath.........

Food Find: Castelvetrano Olives

OK, I like to think I'm relatively knowledgeable about the different foods out there. But somehow I completely missed this one: Castelvetrano Olives. Thank goodness they were demo-ing these at Publix the other day or I never would have tried them. It's a much milder-tasting green olive and much, much less salty. I hadn't noticed them in the olive bars prevalent in almost every grocery store these days....maybe I just overlooked them. But if you like olives and happen to run across these, give them a try.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Honey-Soy Broiled Salmon

We eat salmon at least once a week and for the most part the recipes are Asian-inspired. As is this one. Easy-peasy, fast, and tasty. Too bad I served it with the awesome rice dish below, otherwise it would have been the star of the dinner. It is so good. It came out just right and only took a few minutes of prep and cooking time.

2 servings

1 minced scallion
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/2 pound skinned salmon fillet
1/2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Whisk scallion, soy sauce, vinegar, honey, and ginger in a medium bowl until the honey is dissolved. Place salmon in a resealable plastic bag, add 1 1/2 Tbsp of the sauce and refrigerate; let marinate for 15 minutes. Reserve the remaining sauce.

Preheat broiler. Line a small baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Tranfer the salmon to the pan. Broil 4-6" from broiler for 6-10 minutes. Garnish with sesame seeds.

Venetian Rice and Peas

Did you see the movie "Julie and Julia?" I love this movie...absolutely one of my favorites. My first big giggle came when Julia and Paul first arrived in Paris and sat down in a restaurant and the waiter brought out a pan of fish which he was de-boning. Julia (Meryl Streep) dreamily looked at the pan with the fish and then at her husband and uttered one word....."butter."
A bit later as they flashed to the new character "Julie," she is talking about how if you've ever had anything that was so delicious, you had to know that butter was the main component.
This is one of those dishes. I swear, were I ever on Death Row, I think this might be my request as part of my last meal. Oh my. It is that good.
I ran across the recipe in one of those holiday food supplements prior to Thanksgiving. Just for the heck of it, I did a search for "Venetian Rice and Peas" and ran across a bunch of different recipes. Mostly the same ingredients with a bit of variation, but I am so glad I stuck to the original I found. I won't make this very often because it is just so decadent.....but believe you me! This one will be back.
Jim suggested substituting bleu cheese for Parmesan and my heart just skipped a beat. Like this dish could be any better. Goodness!!!! That would be absolutely divine!!!!!
4 slices diced bacon
1 onion, minced (I diced)
10 oz frozen peas
6 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup rice (I used jasmine)
2 cups chicken broth
S&P to taste
Parmesan Cheese (or Bleu!)
In skillet (I used a saucepan), saute bacon until crisp. Pour off fat, remove bacon.
In same pan, cook onions and peas in butter for about 5 minutes. Add rice. cook until coated with butter. Stir in broth, S&P. Simmer covered for about 20 minutes or until rice absorbs broth and is tender.
Top with cheese and bacon.
Makes 4 servings (right!!!!)

Does Anyone Know Why Sometimes Paragraphs Don't Separate?

Do you blogspot? I am having trouble having consistency with my paragraphs having a space between them. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. If anyone knows, I'd really appreciate the help.


Lentil Vegetable Soup

I've been making and eating lentil soup for years, albeit somewhat unenthusiastically, because I know it's good for me and I do enjoy soups with an earthy feel/flavor. But as I've mentioned before, texture rates almost as high on the charts for me as does flavor. And regular lentils are, well, a bit mushy.
And then I discovered French Green Lentils. These actually have a bit of a snap to them. And this recipe from Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) is just a wonderful blend of flavors and texture.
I've not seen French Green Lentils in traditional grocery stores. I found these in our local Seventh Day Adventist market which has a bulk item section, but I imagine you would probably find them in a good health-food market or specialty market.
Serves 4-5
1/2 pound French green lentils
2 cups chopped yellow onions
2 cup chopped leeks, white and light green parts (1 leek)
1/2 Tbsp chopped garlic (about 2 cloves, depending on size)
2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp coarsley-ground black pepper
1/2 Tbsp minced fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried (I used fresh, plus added another 1/2 Tbsp after cooking)
1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 cups medium-diced celery (4 stalks)
1 1/2 cups medium-diced carrot (I used 4, mine were kinda small)
1 1/2 qt chicken stock (I used turkey stock made after Thanksgiving)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp red wine or red wine vinegar
Freshly shaved or grated Parmesan
In a bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit at least 15 minutes. Drain.
In a stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions, leeks, and garlic with the olive oil, S&P, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and very tender. Add the celery and carrots and saute for 10 more minutes. Add the stock, tomato paste, and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes until the lentils are cooked through (don't let 'em get mushy!) Check seasonings. Add the red wine and serve hot, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with Parmesan.
Yum, yum, yum......enjoy!!!!

Pat's Freezer Pickles

My friend Pat brought me a batch of these pickles some time back. I LOVE pickles, pickles of any kind. But never in a million years would I ever think of making some. I learned this summer after making a huge batch of salsa that I cannot can on my smooth-top cooktop (I don't really understand it, but for some reason the canning process can't ruin your cooktop....something to do with the heat). Anyway......Pat's recipe doesn't require canning, but FREEZING! These are so easy, delicious, and crunchy! The recipe says it keep for you to 6 weeks, but I know this batch has been in the freezer for maybe 6 months and they are still just wonderful. If you like pickles, please try these!

Thank you, Pat, for sharing!


10-12 medium pickling cucumbers (about 2 pounds), thinly sliced (I used a mandolin)
3 medium onions (I only use sweet onions: Vidalia, Texas 1015, Peru Sweets, etc), thinly sliced
1 large green pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 Tbsp salt, divided
1 cup white distilled vinegar
1 Tbsp celery seed
3 Tbsp salt, divided

In a large container, combine cucumbers, onions, green pepper, and 2 Tablespoons salt. Cover with crushed ice; mix well. Refrigerate for 8 hours. Drain; rainse and drain again.

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, vinegar, celery seed, and remaining 1 Tablespoon salt (or to taste). Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute. Spoon over cucumber mixture. Pour into jars or freezer containers. Cool.

Top with lids. Cover and freeze for up to 6 weeks. Thaw at room temperature for 4 hours before serving.

Yield: 4 pints

Friday, December 3, 2010

Corkscrew Blue Pasta w/Chicken and Tomato

We are lucky enough to have a Publix Market just down the street. One of my favorite things there is the food demo they do everyday. I don't think I've ever NOT picked up the recipes, and everyone I've sampled or made at home have been delicious. But HOLY SMOKES, this one just melts in your mouth! It doesn't hurt that it has bleu or gongozola cheese in it, but this recipe added a whole other dimension. Kerrygold Garlic Herb Butter. WOW!!! Oh, this stuff was so good. The Girls enjoyed it also.
At Publix, they sell Kerrygold Garlic Herb Butter by the stick. But you could easily just adjust your own butter by adding a bit of chives, parsley, garlic, dill (I think this might have been the biggest surprise), paprika, and S&P (assuming you used unsalted butter).
This is one of their Sunday recipes which means......QUICK!!!! Once you've cooked the pasta and have all the other ingredients on hand and ready to go, this dish is ready in minutes. I served it with a simple Caesar Salad (romaine, shaved Parm, coarsley-ground pepper, homemade croutons [Panera's Everything Bagels and Jalapeno/Cheese Bagels, cut into 1" cubes, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with Italian Seasoning and Garlic Salt, baked at 325 and stirred every 15 minutes until crispy], and a bottled Caesar dressing of your choice) and my favorite Pepperidge Farms Artisan Whole Grain roll. I really should have chopped up a bit of parsley or something to add some color to the photo, but please trust me.....this stuff is good and creamy!!!!!
serves 4
4 1/2 cups corkscrew pasta (or penne, bow-tie, pasta of your choice)
4 Tbsp Kerrygold Garlic Herb Butter
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 (10 oz) package Grilled Chicken Breast Strips (I grilled 8 oz thawed chicken breast in olive oil, S&P, then chopped into cubes)
4 oz Gorgonzola or Bleu Cheese
Cook pasta.
Preheat saute pan on medium-low 2-3 minutes. Place butter (and added herbs if not using Kerrygold), tomatoes, and cooked chicken in pan. Cook 2-3 minutes or until butter melts and chicken is hot.
Stir in pasta and cheese into chicken mixture until warm.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Baked Tilapia Parmesan and Roasted Root Vegetables

This is a really nice combination, great on a cool autumn night. I usually just broil the tilapia, but ran across this recipe in the Holiday insert that came in the paper a few weeks ago. And I usually do my standard roasted red potatoes, but this time threw in some carrots, red onions, and sweet potatoes. I served it with some steamed asparagus. I just love this time of year!


Serves 2

2 tilapia fillets
2 ounces sour cream
1 Tbsp Parmesan
1/2 Tbsp Italian bread crumbs
1/2 Tbsp melted butter

Place fillets in a greased baking dish. Stir together the sour cream, Parm, and seasonings, spread over fillets.

Sprinkle fillets with breadcrumbs and drizzle with butter. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily.


2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb red potatoes
1 lb sweet potatoes
4-6 carrots
1/2 red onion

Preheat oven to 400. Peel vegetables and chop into 1" cubes or so. In a medium bowl, toss chopped vegetables with olive oil and garlic. Drizzle with more olive oil if not well coated.

Spread vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with S&P. Roast for 40 minutes, stirring after the first 20 minutes.

(I adjusted the temps as I was baking the fish, vegetables, and some rolls. I cooked the vegetables at 400 for 25 minutes, then turned the oven down to 350 to cook the fish and bread. It actually all came out at the same time and everything was just perfect!)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Turkey Tetrazzini

I made this really easy, tasty entree using some of the wonderful leftover, brined turkey. I served it with a simple Italian salad of spring greens, onions, tomatoes, olive-cured olives, and an Italian vinaigrette, along with those wonderful Rosemary Salt rolls from Fresh Market.
Serves 4
6 oz spaghetti, cooked
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cup turkey/chicken stock/broth
1/4 cup +2 Tbsp cream
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
2 tsp fresh thyme
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Coarsely-ground pepper
1 1/2 cups diced turked (about 1/2" dice)
5 oz frozen, thawed green peas
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 375. Spray 8x8 glass dish with cooking spray. In saucepan or skillet, melt butter. Add flour and cook, stirring, until faintly colored, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in stock until sauce is smooth and thickened, just a couple of minutes. Whisk in cream. Add 1/4 tsp salt, rosemary, thyme, nutmeg, and pepper to taste. Stir in turkey and peas, and heat through. Adjust seasonings.
Put the pasta in the dish and spoon the turkey mixture over it. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and Parmesan. Sprinkle evenly over the sauce. Bake, uncovered, until heated through and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Turn on broiled and quickly brown the top. Serve immediately.
Can easily double recipe and make in 13x9 pan.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Turkey/Rice Soup and Black Bean/Corn Salad

Tonight's dinner was all recipes. Turkey/Rice Soup with a Black Bean and Corn Salad. No real recipes. This is what I did.
First, put the turkey carcass in with some onions, carrots, celery, fresh parsley and thyme, peppercorns and almost covered with water. Brought to a boil and then immediately brought to a simmer for about 4 hours. About half way through I kinda stirred the carcass around to get it mixed up. About this time I tasted the broth and added a bit of kosher salt and some Knorr's chicken broth to bring up the flavor. After about the 4 hours, I lined a sieve with cheesecloth, poured everything through it into another stock pot. I let cool, then cleaned the carcass for meat for The Girls.
I let the broth cool in the frig to form a layer of fat and skimmed it off. Then I put a couple of cups of broth in a pan with about a quarter cup of wild rice and brown Texmati rice, brought to a boil, then let simmer for about 45 minutes or until the rice was cooked.
In the meantime, I chopped up a stalk of celery (with leaves) , half of a sweet onion, a couple of carrots, and a couple of cloves of garlic. I threw all this in with several cups of turkey broth and cooked until almost done. I added about a cup of diced turkey and then the cooked rice (along with remaining broth) to the original broth. That's it. Taste it and serve with done.
I served this with another off-the-cuff salad: Corn and Black Bean. I had a package of frozen corn and thawed out about half of it. I drained a can of black beans and rinsed them. Chopped up some red onions, red pepper, and cilantro. I whisked together 3 Tbsp canola oil, 1 1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar, some S&P, some Durkee Ethnic Seasoning (southwest....cumin, chili powder, etc) and poured it and stirred the salad.
I served this with my new favorite Pepperidge Farm Artisan Whole Grain Rolls. It was a really nice dinner.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tomato and Olive Tapenades (with blurry photo!)

These are two tapenades we used to make at a restaurant I worked at in Minnesota. I love tapenades and would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. They are so easy to put together and will keep for weeks (or longer). I make my crostini using a good baguette (I usually buy at Panera, sometimes using a whole-grain baguette), cut into about 1/4" slices, brush with olive-oil, and bake at 325 for about 15 minutes. I usually turn them over and bake maybe another 5 minutes or so until crisp.
OLIVE TAPENADE (this is the full recipe, I usually half it and gives me plenty to snack on for a few weeks.....Jim doesn't eat much of it)
8 oz green olives, chopped
16 oz black olives, chopped
4 oz sun dried tomatoes, chopped (I use smoked SDTs)
16 oz marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
2 1/2 Tbsp garlic
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 cup olive oil
That's it. Just mix it up and mmmmmm........enjoy!
TOMATO TAPENADE (again, I usually 1/2 this recipe)
10 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup basil, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 lime, juiced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 tsp salt
1/4 coarsely-ground black pepper
Mix, then just pour a bunch of balsamic vinegar until it's soupy. Serve on crostini.

Delicious Turkey Gravy (no photo)

I have never made turkey gravy! Jim doesn't care for it and when brining a turkey, you simply don't need it. But we were having company and since it is usually a basic on the Thanksgiving table for most people, I thought I better give it a shot.

This recipe is so easy and it really has a wonderful flavor. I was shocked that I turned out such a great turkey gravy!


1 Tbsp canola oil
Neck and giblets from turkey
3 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
Pan drippings from roasted turkey
2 cups chicken/turkey/vege stock or broth
S&P to taste

In medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Brown the turkey neck and giblets in the oil, turning until well-browned and there are bits stuck to the pan. Remove giblets and neck and discard (I cut up the kidneys and added to the dressing and saved the neck to cook down with the carcass).

Reduce heat to medium-low and add butter until it melts, stirring and scraping up the browned bit on the bottom on the pan. Add the flour and pan drippings (I just kind of scooped them out of the roasting pan, trying to avoid the grease) and stir to combine. Cook over medium-low or medium heat, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes, until butter/flour mixture is golden. Slowly whisk in the broth and cook over medium heat, stirring or whisking often, for about 10-15 minutes until the gravy has thickened and is bubbly and hot. Season with S&P.

Scalloped Potatoes with Three Cheeses (no photo)

This is a dish that was demo-ed at Central Market when we lived in San Antonio ( and Jim and I both went nuts over it. It is a staple anytime we make a big dinner. The blue cheese just puts this one over the top. It is delicious!!!

Since it's usually just the two of us, I generally half this recipe and use an 8x8 glass dish to bake it. When I made it yesterday, I went ahead and baked it and the dressing at the same time, took out and covered while turkey roasted, then reheated as directed. I don't know if it was the size I made, or the reheating, but it was, sadly, a bit dry. Hopefully you can make this and serve it right away. If you are going to reheat, I would initially bake it less, maybe 1/2 hour each time instead of 45 minutes.


Yield: 12 servings (using a 9 x 13 dish) or half recipe using 8x8 dish

3/4 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar (4 oz)
3/4 cup blue cheese (4 oz) (I add a bit more!)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan (1 1/4 oz)

4 lbs Russets, peeled, cut into 1/4" thick rounds (I used a mandolin)
1 1/2 Tsps salt
1/2 tsp coarsely-ground black pepper
1/4 very finely minced onion
3 Tbsp flour
4 Tbsp butter
3 cups milk (recipe calls for whole, but I've used skim with fine results)

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly butter 13x9 glass baking dish (I used cooking spray). Mix cheeses in a small bowl.

Arrange half of the potatoes in prepared dish, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Sprinkle onion over, then flour. Dot with 2 Tbsp butter. Sprinkle half of the cheese mixture over. Top with remaining potatoes, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 2 Tbsp butter. Reserve remaining cheeses.

Bring milk to simmer in medium saucepan (I microwave on half power) until warm. Pour milk over potatoes (milk will not completely cover). Cover tightly with foil, bake 45 minutes. Remove foil (liquids will probably look somewhat curdled); sprinkle potatoes with reserved cheeses. Bake uncovered until potatoes are tender and cheese is a deep golden brown, about 45 minutes longer. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Cover and rewarm in 375 degree oven about 20 minutes). Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes before serving.