Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Brown Sugar Ham and Bean Soup

I ran across this recipe some time ago and it caught my eye. I love navy bean soup, but usually do it with a basic vegetable combo: onion, celery, carrots and keep it around often for a low-fat, high-fiber "snack." This recipe sounded like the Cadillac of bean soups, a bit decadent calling for brown sugar and cream (I did cut the sugar in half and will half that amount next time, plus it called for cream which I switched to half-and-half). Holy Smokes! This stuff is good! I can hardly wait to get hungry again so I can go after some leftovers! BROWN SUGAR HAM AND BEAN SOUP

1 lb navy beans, soaked overnight

1 meaty ham bone (I would usually use a bone leftover from a spiral-cut ham, but this time I used a package of "Country Ham Pieces for Flavoring")

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 cup cream, half-and-half, or whole milk

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/8 tsp ginger powder

1 cup brown sugar (I'll do 1/2-3/4 cup next time....original recipe calls for 1-2 cups!)

Place navy beans and ham bone in crock pot and fill with enough water to just cover beans and most of ham bone. Cook on low for 3-4 hours. Add remaining ingredients and cook an additional 2-4 hours. Take bone out and shred remaining meat off bone and add to soup.

Calico Cornbread

We have two favorite cornbread recipes in our home. This one is Jim's. It's called "Calico Cornbread" and comes from a Cooking Light "Light and Easy" cookbook. I've been making this for over ten years and it has never disappointed.


1 cup flour

2/3 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 Tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp pepper

2/3 cup buttermilk

1 (7 oz) can Mexicorn

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 Tbsp butter, melted

1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute), beaten

cooking spray

Place a 9" cast-iron skillet in a 450 oven for about 5 minutes.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl, whisk. Make a well in the center. Combine buttermilk and next 4 ingredients; add to dry ingredients, stirring until moistened.

Coat skillet with cooking spray; immediately pour batter into hot skillet. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes or until golden. Cut into wedges.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Orange Rosemary Salmon

I caught this recipe on "Home Made Simple" this last weekend. Since I serve salmon at least once a week I am always looking for something a little bit different. They're recipe calls for honey, but I substituted maple syrup. Easy, easy. And I drizzled some of the leftover marinade on the brown rice/whole grain side dish I served with it. Yummy!!! I also served a green salad of romaine, cucumber, grape tomatoes, and croutons dressed with my favorite Buttermilk Dressing. A really nice dinner. This recipe serves two.


8 oz salmon fillet

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice (I zested the bit of orange I juiced, about 1/4-1/2 tsp zest)

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1/2 Tbsp olive oil

about 1/2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped


Whisk the marinade ingredients together. Spray baking dish with cooking spray and place salmon fillet in dish. Pour marinade over salmon. Let sit in frig for about half an hour. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes, depending on thickness of salmon (mine was about 3/4" and took about 15 minutes, I then turned the broiler on for a minute or two).

Cherry and Lemon Scones

Jim is starting to go out to the Sequoyia Nuclear Plant more often and will soon be officing there 5 days a week. While I don't enjoy baking the way I love cooking, I really like to be able to make sweets for him to take and share with the office. I have a long list of goodies I'm anxious to try for him to take to share. Personally, I don't have a big sweet tooth, so this sweet treat tends to suit me a bit better. While these scones do have some sugar, they're not overly sweet. It's a really nice mixture of mild sweetness along with the tanginess of the lemons and dried cherries. They're really so easy to make. This time I doubled the recipe (a single recipe is listed below). However, I did make the double batch in two separate bowls, it's just easier to blend the flour/butter mixture in the smaller quantity. But since I already had all the ingredients out and was measuring, it was no big deal to double it. You can either top the scones with an egg wash/raw sugar recipe, or finish the cooked scones with a lemon glaze. CHERRY AND LEMON SCONES

2 c flour

1/4 c sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 c unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces

1/2 c dried tart cherries

Zest of 2 lemons

2/3 cup buttermilk


Egg wash: 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 Tbsp milk. Brush unbaked scone with egg wash and then sprinkle with raw sugar. OR:

Lemon glaze: Juice of one lemon and 1/2 to 1 cup of powdered sugar. Depending on how much juice you get from the lemon, you want it a bit runny.

Preheat oven to 400 (last time I made these the temperature was perfect, this time the first batch got too dark so I turned it down to 375 for the second batch and they were perfect) and place rack in middle of the oven. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Stir i the dried cherries and lemon zest. Add the buttermilk to the flour mixture and stir just until the dough comes together. Do not overmix the dough.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead dough gently four or five times and then pat the dough into a circle that is about 7" in diameter and about 3/4-1" thick. Cut this circle in half, and then cut each half into 3-6 wedges, depending on high large you want your scones (I do 3-4). Places the scones on the baking sheet. If using the egg wash/raw sugar combine, brush the egg wash on now and then sprinkle with sugar. If not, wait until after baked and cooled to apply the glaze.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and check with a toothpick. Transfer to a wire race to cool.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chicken Shepherd's Pie

I had made this dish before and wasn't overwhelmed with the results, but I had a rotisserie chicken I needed to use so I decided to try it again. I don't know what was different, but the two of us ate the entire dish. It just hit the spot today.

I took some shortcuts (like using the store-bought cooked chicken) and bought the ready-made mashed potatoes (I used the Bob Evans brand of Garlic Mashed Potatoes). While the rest of the recipe pretty much stayed the same (I used half Pepper Jack cheese and half Cheddar), you could certainly substitute the vegetables, even using those frozen mixed vegetables (you know the ones, peas, carrots, corn). Most importantly, don't skimp on the fresh herbs, especially the thyme (and S&P). This made all the difference. Since I was making this just for two, I used a very small casserole dish (7 x 5 1/2 x 2"). I cooked the whole green beans in salted water, then sprinkled them with a bit of kosher salt. This recipe serves two.


2 lb container of prepared garlic mashed potatoes, use only the rest for tomorrow

1/2 cup (about 6 oz) finely chopped or shredded, cooked chicken, or enough to cover the bottom of the dish


1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme

1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup fresh corn kernels

(or about a scant cup of frozen mixed vegetables)

1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice

Spray casserole dish with cooking spray. Cover bottom of dish with chicken. Sprinkle with S&P and herbs. Add the vegetables. Spread the mashed potatoes over this (I first took the prepared potatoes out and put in a different bowl to mix up a bit since they were refrigerated and stiff) and then spread then over the vegetables using my fingers. Smooth out. Cover with cheese.

Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. I turned the broiler on for the last few minutes to brown the cheese.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lindie's Newest Trick

Well, I haven't had any new noteworthy recipes to post for a while. I made a new soup last night "Chicken Enchilada," but it really wasn't good enough to list. However, while making it yesterday, Jim encouraged Lindie to try to get onto the kitchen counter through the pass-through. She climbs onto the back of the couch and tries to get over the ledge. This is as far as she made it. And yes, I sanitized the counter before I continued! We have definitely cooled down here in Chattanooga. It rained all day yesterday. We'll be back in the 50's with clouds and/or rain almost everyday this week! This is good cooking weather so hopefully I'll have some new delicious dishes to share this week. Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Most Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

I ran across an New York Times article the other day discussing The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie. Now, I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I always enjoy a bite or two of a good cookie. This time, I ate the entire thing. And these cookies are ginormous! According to the article and the inventor of the Toll House Cookie, two very important steps were left out of that recipe. One, after making the dough, it must be allowed to be refrigerated for a minimum of 24 hours. Two, before baking, you must just barely sprinkle the balls of dough with some kosher salt. And there is an interesting blend of flour (bread flour and cake flour). And the size. Apparently, it is important to make a huge cookie (3.5 oz, about 1/3 cup) so you get the crispiness of the edge and the soft, chewiness of the center. Doing my own experiment, I divided the dough the put 8 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips and 4 oz of walnuts in one half, and 8 oz of milk chocolate chips and 4 oz of pecans in the other. I really wish I could tell you I had a favorite, but I can't. They are both outstanding. Absolutely the best chocolate chip cookie I've ever had in my life. So, here's the NYTimes recipe as listed. Vary it as you like (it calls for chocolate disks or feves, at least 60% cacao content......what the heck are feves?!!!). And given the size of the cookies, this only makes about 18 5" cookies. THE PERFECT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES 2 cups less 2 Tbsp (8 1/2 oz) cake flour (leave in the 2 TBSP for higher altitudes) 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 oz) bread flour 1 1/4 tsp baking soda 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, room temp 1 1/4 cups (10 oz) light brown sugar 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp (8 oz) granulated sugar 2 large eggs 2 tsp vanilla extract 1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or feves, at least 60% cacao content Kosher salt Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Set aside. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until very light, about 5 minutes (this was another important step in the article). Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, about 10 seconds (I did this in 4 steps). Drop chocolate pieces (and nuts if using) and incorporate into dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24-36 hours. You can refrigerate up to 72 hours. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Scoop six 3 1/2 oz mounds of dough (about 1/3 cup) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and bake until golden brown, but still soft, 18-22 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. NOTE: It was a difficult decision, but if I had to put my finger on one choice, I would go with the milk chocolate and pecans. But you won't go wrong either way! UPDATE: 4/1/11 Weirdest thing! I was in EarthFare today and what did I run across?!!! CHOCOLATE FEVES......and in all different cocoa percentages!!! Weird! I had never heard of them, but then I post a recipe, and voila!!!! There they appear. They are simply chocolate disks, maybe about 3/4" in diameter, and 1/8 or 1/4" thick. Go figure! Also, listening to Everyday Foods on Martha Stewart Radio (satellite radio) I heard a segment on the perfect chocolate chip cookies and yes indeed! Time is the essential quotient! Must let dough refrigerate at least 24 hours. 36 is optimal.

Shrimp, Black Bean, and Corn Salad

Oh My! I think I may have found my new favorite salad! This is so good.

We are definitely into spring here. Yesterday was in the upper 70s (that'll sound pretty good come August) and so I went leafing through my "Salad" file looking for something that would be nice and light at the end of a warm day. I found this recipe torn from a magazine.....I think it was from Byerly's Supermarket (Minnesota) but I never made it, which means it's been sitting in my files for at least six years. What a waste! I can tell you, this will be on our table several times a month this coming summer. It is very simple and the combination is so close to many dishes I've made before, but somehow this was a bit different. Absolutely delicious.

The recipe calls for grilling the shrimp, but I learned an incredible secret from Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa). Roast your shrimp. It makes all the difference. It is so simple and since I've been roasting shrimp (400 degrees for 6-8 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp), I've had absolutely perfect and predictable results. Every time.

UPDATE: I made this again tonight (4/25) and hand some extra arugula on hand....what an incredible addition! I you have some on hand, please add it!

SHRIMP, BLACK BEAN, AND CORN SALAD (this recipe makes two entree salads)

Shelled and deveined shrimp for 2 (I used 24 {31-40} shrimps)

1/3 cup olive oil

3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

3 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro

2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp salt

pinch cayenne

1/2 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 can (11 oz) white and yellow corn

10-15 grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup green onions, chopped

one head of romaine, chopped

a handful of arugula, if you have it

large tortilla chips, for garnish

Rinse shrimp. Pat dry with paper towels. Place in ziplock bag. Whisk together olive oil, lime, cilantro, cumin, salt, and cayenne. Put 3 Tbsp of dressing in ziplock with shrimp. Refrigerate for at least one hour (mine sat for about 6 hours). Combine beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, and remaining dressing. Refrigerate, covered, several hours.

Now at this point, the recipe instructs you to skewer the shrimp and grill until cooked. As mentioned above, I chose to roast the shrimp. Since I used smaller shrimp, I roasted them at 400 for just 6 minutes. Perfection!

To Serve: Toss romaine into bean mixture. Spoon onto serving plate. Top with shrimp. Garnish with tortilla chips.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

OK, last night I needed to get back to working cleaning out stuff from the freezer. I had a stack of corn tortillas I've been meaning to get to. I ran across this recipe and I had never made taquitos before. These really came out nicely, a great crunch and really low-cal, low-fat! Oh, these will definitely be on the menu again. These would make a wonderful Super Bowl-type appetizer because they do keep their crunch for a long time (I ate leftovers a couple of hours after dinner and they were still crunchy). They're great finger-foods. You can use guacamole, sour cream, buttermilk dressing as a dipper. I used these as my entree and served them with Charro Beans and my favorite Spanish rice recipe (from Joy of Cooking, adding cilantro to the mix). I cut the recipe in half and this amount made 8 taquitos. We both ate two each at dinner, so The Girls got some leftovers, and I ate two later that night. So the recipe I'm listing will make approximately 8 taquitos.


2 oz cream cheese (I used reduced-fat style)

2 Tbsp salsa verde

1/2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp (+) cumin (I like cumin)

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 1/2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

1 green onion, chopped

1 cup shredded chicken

1/2 cup Mexican cheese mix (shredded in packaged-cheese section)

about 8 small corn tortillas (or few if using the larger flour version)

Cooking spray

Kosher salt

Soften cream cheese in microwave for about 30 seconds at 50% power. Stir in salsa verde, lime juice, and spices until well mixed, then add cilantro and green onions. Stir in shredded chicken and cheese and combine well (this can be made ahead of time and stored in the frig).

Preheat oven to 425. Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray.

Working with 2 corn tortillas at a time, briefly heat in microwave so they are more malleable and easier to work with (place a wet paper towel over tortillas and heat for about 25 seconds). Spoon 2-3 Tbsp of chicken mixture down the middle of the tortilla (maybe a bit closer to one end) and keeping it about 1/2" from the end or it will all melt out and burn. Roll up tightly. Place taquitos seam side down on cookie sheet, making sure they are not touching. Lightly spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt (this makes all the difference!). Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and edges start to turn golden brown.

Serve with your favorite salsa, guacamole, sour cream, or Buttermilk Dressing (see previous post).

Pear and Spicy Pecan Salad with Raspberry Dijon Vinaigrette

This was the Number One salad seller at a restaurant I worked at in Minnesota. It is so good and although this is not the best photo, it is a striking presentation. It's actually quite simple. Mixed greens (half romaine, half spring mix), grilled chicken (or not), crumbled gorgonzola or bleu cheese, a pear or Asian pear, and spicy pecans. She used candied pecans, but I was always afraid of breaking a tooth on these! Plus, I like that bit of heat on the spicy pecans. This is a wonderful main course salad and I make it quite often during the summer. An aside, I usually double the vinaigrette recipe because it's just a basic dressing to have on hand, plus it will keep just about forever. And I usually at least double the pecan recipe because these, too, will keep in the freezer for a long time. I'm also including her recipe for Candied Pecans in case you prefer those.
1/2 cup olive
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
3 Tbsp sugar
4 tsp Dijon
1/4 tsp salt
Dash freshly ground black pepper
Whisk all ingredients together.
Mixed garden greens, I like half romaine, half spring mix
Crumbled Gorgonzola or Bleu Cheese
1/2 pear or Asian pear, per salad
Chicken grilled with olive oil, S&P, about 4 oz per salad
Sweet and Spicy Pecans
3 Tbsp lite corn syrup
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 1/2 cups pecans
1/4 tsp hot sauce
Heat oven to 350. Mix everything together. Place on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 5 minutes. Stir. Bake another 10 minutes. Let cool on tray. Break apart and store in freezer-safe container.
Candied Pecans
1/2 cup pecan halves
2/3 cup sugar
Heat sugar in a small skillet over medium heat until sugar melts. Stir in pecans until all are well-coated. Spread quickly on buttered foil and spread apart with two forks. When cool, chop or break into pieces.
Salad Construction (!):
Toss greens (I use one large handful per serving) with dressing and divide onto plates. Top with cheese and sprinkle with pecans. Cut each pear in half and cut fan-like and fan out in the center of each salad. If using chicken, slice into strips and lay fanning around the salad.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Indian Butter Chicken

I'm always in the mood for Indian recipes. This is so basic. So easy. So good. The ingredient list may look daunting, but I chopped and measured everything out earlier today, so it took just minutes to throw this entree together. I used a rice cooker for the rice (I use jasmine) and started that first. Everything else came together in less than 15 minutes. I served the chicken on rice with artichokes. This recipe is two healthy servings with a nice helping of leftovers for lunch tomorrow :-)


1/2 onion (about 4 oz), chopped

1 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced

1/2 fresh jalapeno, seeded and chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 Tbsp canola oil

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/4 tsp coriander

3 oz tomato paste (1/2 small can)

1 1/4 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup half and half or cream (I understand fat-free half&half works fine!)

1 small bay leaf

1/2-3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces


2 Tbsp butter

cooked Jasmine or Basmati rice

Lime wedges, for garnish

Fresh cilantro, for garnish

In a large saute pan, combine onion, ginger, chili, and oil. Stir often over medium-high heat until onion is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, garam masala, chili powder, cardamom, and coriander. Saute an additional 2 minutes.

Scrape mixture into a blender or food processor; add tomato paste and chicken broth. Whirl until very smooth. Pour mixture back into pan, and half and half or cream and bay leaf, and bring to a gentle boil over high heat (mixture will spatter.....use a splatter screen!) reduce heat and simmer, sitrring often, until reduced a bit, about 5 minutes. Pour sauce into a bowl. Rinse and dry pan.

Pat chicken dry. Add S&P. Set pan over medium-high heat; add 1/2 Tbsp butter and chicken. Stir until chicken is no longer pink on the surface, a couple of minutes. Add the sauce and simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until chicken is no longer pink in the center, 3-4 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp butter into sauce until melted.

Spoon chicken and sauce onto rice. Squeeeze lime juice over portions and garnish with cilantro.

Heath Bar Cookies

Jim (and the girls) were running out of cookies so I ran across this recipe the other day and gave it a shot. A good shot. The original cookie calls for either chopped up Heath bars or chocolate covered toffee bits. I really didn't want to spend the money buying 8 Heath bars, and I could only find an 8-oz bag of English toffee bit (sans chocolate), so I just bought these and threw in half a bag of milk chocolate chips. It worked. I threw in a photo of the dough showing my handy-dandy cookie scoop I found at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Super cool!
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped Heath Bar pieces (eight 1.4 oz bars) or 1 (8 oz) package of chocolate-covered toffee bits (I used an 8 oz bag non-chocolate covered toffee bits and about 6 oz milk chocolate chips)
In a medium bowl, whish together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside. In a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric stand mixer), with an electric handheld mixer, beat together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs and vanilla and mix until the mixture is very light in color and creamy. Add the flour mixture and stir to combine. Once it is about halfway combined, add the heath bits (or toffee bits and chocolate chips) and mix until all the ingredients are mixed together. Chill the cookie dough a couple of hours.
Preheat the oven to 350. On cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or a Silpat liner, scoop the cookie dough into about 1" balls. Place the dough about 2" apart on the cookie sheets (they do spread).
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are just starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cookies cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Just the Black Girls, Please

This blog is, afterall, called The Fulton Girls, right? I really need to post more photos of my babies, especially at the Dog Park. But when I caught the three black sweeties cuddled together underneath my desk, I had to grab the camera. Whenever I'm upstairs, I can almost always count on company. I love these girls.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Crock Pot Pork Chops and THE BEST RICE!

You are getting a double treat today! Both of these recipes are just wonderful! The pork chops have an incredible flavor and being cooked in the crock pot, oh so easy! And this rice is so, so, so, so good! What a wonderful combination of flavors. I used two thick bone-in pork chops and it was plenty for three meals. I will definitely double the sauce recipe for the chops next time. The rice was so good and we kept eating on it, but I would say it is generally a 4-serving dish. I served this with steamed asparagus. I do hope you'll try both of won't be disappointed.
1 Tbsp EVOO (I used cooking spray)
2 pork chops, boned or not, least an inch
1-2 finely minced garlic cloves
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp chicken broth
1 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 Tbsp cold water
In a large skillet, heat the oil (or cooking spray) over medium-high heat until it is hot. Season the pork chops on both sides with S&P. Brown for 1-2 minutes on each side. Transfer the chops to the crock pot. Add the garlic to the drippings in the skillet and stir constantly over medium heat until the garlic is aromatic and golden (DO NOT BURN.....if you do, scrape the burned garlic out, NOT the drippings, turn heat down, and try again.....burned garlic will ruin your dish). Stir in the soy sauce, broth, brown sugar, and pepper flakes. Cook and stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour over chops.
Cover the slow cooker and cook on low 6-7 hours (more if you double the recipe) or until meat is tender. If using bone-in pork chops, fish out the bones from teh slow cooker. Remove the chops fromt he slow cooker to a shallow pan or plate, they will most liely be falling aparat in tenderness at this point, and shred the meat. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the sauce in the crock pot. Return the chops to the slower cooker. Turn the slow cooker heat to high and cook for 30 minutes to an hour longer, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Return the pork to the crock pot.
Serve over rice and garnish with green onions (I forgot.....this would have been a nice touch).
1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
Zest and juice from one small lemon, or from half of a large, juicy lemon
1/2 cup Parmesan
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 apple, finely diced (I used a Gala and it was wonderful)
Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8x8 glass baking dish with Pam. Place the rice and broth in the dish. Stir. Cover tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for five minutes before removing the foil and fluffing with a fork. Stir in lemon, Parm, sugar, and apple. YUMMY!!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tuscan Garlic Chicken

I ran across this Olive Garden knock-off recipe the other day on-line. I've not had this dish at OG, but it sounded simple and tasty. And easy. It is, all of these. And I was able to significantly reduce the fat calories by using cooking spray instead of olive oil and used just a touch of cream with a mixture of skim milk and cornstarch (versus all cream). I cooked the fettucine earlier in the afternoon, keeping it in the frig in water, then just poured boiling water over it to reheat, saving the anxiety of trying to get everything timed to come out at the same time. Easy, right? I served this with a simple spinach salad dressed with Julia Child's Basic Vinaigrette (see earlier post) topped with red onions, mandarin orange slices, and goat cheese. This recipe served 2.
1/4 cup flour
S&P to taste
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
2 boneless chicken cutlets, 4-6 oz each
olive oil cooking spray
1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup chicken broth
3 oz fresh spinach
1/4 cup light cream
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
4-6 oz dried fettucine, cooked
Preheat oven to 350.
In a shallow plate or ziplock bag, combine flour, S&P, basil, and oregano. Dip the chicken piecesin the flour mixture until both sides are well coated.
Heat a large nonstick skillet, then spray liberally with cooking spray until hot. Cook each side of the cutlet about 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Don't move the chicken around until they are ready to turn or the coating could fall off.
Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Place the chicken on the foil and bake 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken (my cutlets were thin 4 oz'ers, it only took 10 minutes).
Either cook the fettucine or warm up water to reheat cooked noodles. Wipe out skillet with a paper towel and return to medium heat, respraying with cooking oil. When hot, add bell pepper and garlic, saute for 2-3 minutes.
Stir in 1/2 Tbsp flour and stir constantly while cooking for another minute. Add the chicken broth to the skillet and bring the mixture to a low simmer, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 2-3 minutes. In a small liquid measure, whisk together the cornstarch and cream. Add the spinach, milk, and cream mixture to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan.
Toss the cooked pasta with half of the cheese sauce. Place some of the coated pasted on each plate. Top with a breaded chicken breast and spoon some of the sauce over the top of the chicken and pasta. Serve immediately.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cashew Chicken

How do you get an idea in your head and it just won't leave? For whatever reason, I had a craving for cashew chicken with green peppers. Oddly enough, I had a bit of trouble finding a recipe which included green peppers. I thought that was kinda standard of cashew chicken. Anyway, this is a very simple recipe (with one odd step I had never heard of before) and outstanding results. And the cold leftovers made a mighty tasty snack, too!


8 oz chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup cashews
1/2 small green pepper, cut into small squares
about a tsp of finely minced fresh ginger
4 oz mushrooms, quartered
1/4 sweet onion, chopped


1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp rice wine vinegar


1 tsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp water
2 dashes white pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/8 tsp sesame oil
Salt to taste

Marinate the chicken meat with the baking soda for 15-20 minutes and then thoroughly rinse chicken, leaving NO baking soda.

Pat the chicken meat dry with paper towels and then marinate with the corn starch and vinegar.

Mix the sauce together and set aside.

Heat up a skillet with 1/2 Tbsp cooking oil (I used Pam) and stir-fry the chicken meat until the color turns white and is half-cooked. Dish out and set aside.

Add a bit more oil (or Pam) then add ginger, bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions.

Stir-fry until you smell the peppery aroma from the green peppers and add the chicken meat back in.

Add in the cashews and do a few quick stirs.

Add in the sauce and stir continuously until the chicken is cooked and well-coated with the sauce. Add salt to taste.

I served this over brown rice and also made some egg-drop soup.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Treat Cookies

Happy Sunday! And here's an amazing treat for you to try. I'm not a big sweets-eater, but I really had to stop myself from eating the entire batch. This is a pretty dry dough and a bit crumbly, so pack a tight Tablespoon-ish roll. And be sure to use parchment paper or a Silpat or you will never get the marshmellows of of the cookie tray. This recipe made about 5 dozen cookies for me. I found this recipe at
2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 (3.4 oz) pkg vanilla instant pudding mix
1 1/2 cup mini marshmellows
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups crisped rice cereal
In a medium bowl, which together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Using a mixer, cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until creamy. Add the pudding mix. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Add the marshmellows and chocolate chips. Stir in the cereal by hand. Scoot onto a baking sheet. Bake at 35o for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Million Dollar Chicken and Quinoa Black Bean Salad

Back in the late '90's we were living in San Antonio. Having found a new all-consuming interest, cooking, I also discovered Central Market. For all foodies out there......TEXAS IS A FOODIE'S VACATION-DESTINATION DREAM!!!! Especially now. When we lived there, Central Market was only in Austin and San Antonio. Even back then, CM was featured on The Travel Channel. Oh my! So worth the trip. By the way, they are now also in the DFW and Houston areas.
Anywho.....CM offers so much. Food demos, classes (with world-famous chefs), and items you could never find in any other market. Well, this was one of their demos. What luck I just happened to be in the store the day this was featured! It became a staple in our home for years. And then, amidst the moves and being apart, I just kind of forgot about it. And then the other day I ran across a similar recipe on-line which triggered my memory and I dug up this CM recipe! And it is just as incredible as I remembered. For the first time ever, I did not serve this on couscous, but made a Quinoa Black Bean Salad to go along with it. And then steamed some broccoli.
The chicken recipe won Ellie Mathews of Seattle, Washington the first prize in a Pillsbury Bakeoff (I don't know what year). It is a fusion of Moroccan and Mexican cuisines. I used two 4 oz chicken cutlets and then halved the rest of the recipe, but am including the recipe in its original format. Although my CM recipe does not indicate number of servings, I'm assuming it is 4, but then, I don't know how much meat is on a chicken thigh (I used breast meat). I hope you'll give it a try!!!!!
3 cups hot cooked couscous or rice
1 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1/4 cup coarseley chopped almonds
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 chicken thighs, skin removed
1 cup salsa, mild or hot
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp dried currants (I omitted this)
1 Tbsp honey
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
While the couscous is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the almonds and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the nuts from the skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the garlic to the skillet, stirring, for 30 seconds. (I did not brown my almonds, and I used olive oil cooking spray to saute the garlic, then added the chicken.) Add the chicken and cook, turning once, for 4-5 minutes, until browned (mine took just a few minutes per side since I had thin cutlets).
Combine the salsa and all the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Add to the chicken and mix well. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes (mine took about 10 minutes), or until the chicken is fork-tender and the juices run clear when pierced with a fork. Stir in the almonds and serve with or over the couscous or rice.
Put 1 1/2 cups of water and 3/4 cups of quinoa into saucepan. Bring to a boil. Turn to simmer and cook, covered, 10-15 minutes, or until water is absorbed.
Toss 3/4 cup canned, rinsed and drained black beans with 3/4 Tbsp of red wine vinegar and S&P to taste.
Mix quinoa, beans, 3/4 cup thawed, frozen corn, a few slices of seeded pickled jalapenos, diced, and chopped cilantro to taste. Toss with dressing to taste (I used about half of this amount):
2 1/2 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 t salt
3/4 t cumin
2 Tbsp EVOO

Orange Roughy with Mango Coconut Pepper Sauce

I ran across this sauce at The Fresh's so easy and wonderful for grilling any kind of fish. This was wonderful on Orange Roughy, although O.R. is a pretty delicate fish to grill (it kinda fell apart!) I just brushed a bit on both sides of the fish, grilled for a few minutes on one side, turned it and brushed a tad bit more on the top. This is really a wonderful sauce and the O.R. (frozen from Publix) just melted in my mouth.
I served this with grilled asparagus and roasted red potatoes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

BBQ Chicken Salad w/Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing

Looking for a recipe to use up more stuff in the frig, I ran across this one for which I had everything except a lime and some iceberg lettuce (and just using romaine would have been fine with me)! Imagine! Everything on hand and the most time-consuming preparation was the dressing....about 5 minutes! Plus, this is a pretty healthy, lower-fat salad as I used reduced-fat mayo which only accounts for about half of the ingredients in the dressing. I halved the dressing recipe and there's plenty left for other salads or it's a pretty good dip all by itself. Nice, interesting flavors.

I'm still working on using up the meat from the turkey I roasted last week and this was a good use. And I had some extra BBQ sauce from our favorite BBQ restaurant (BONES, in Chattanooga). Also, in place of the red onion and cilantro, I used the leftover pico de gallo I had from the quesadillas last week.

I'm going to list the recipe as I found it, but I did cut it down a bit, using about 1/3 of the salad recipe for the two of us. I cut the dressing recipe in half and this made about 1 1/2 cups, so plenty left for the future.

This will make a nice summertime salad, also.


3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
2 cups BBQ sauce (or to taste.....add a bit at a time until it suits you)
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, cored and chopped
2 romaine hearts, chopped
1/2 red onion, diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, cubed small or shredded
4 oz Monterey jack cheese, cubed small or shredded
(I used a shredded Mexican Cheese package in lieu of the cheddar and Jack)

Combine the cooked chicken and BBQ sauce in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

In a large bowl, toss together the iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, red onion, cilantro, corn, black beans, and cheese. Toss the mixed salad with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the dressing, if desired. Otherwise, you can serve the dressing on the side. Place salad on plates and top with the prepared BBQ chicken and additional dressing.


1 cup mayo, light or regular
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 to 1/2 BBQ sauce

Combine all the ingredients together and whisk to combine. Keep refrigerated.