Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I did it! And I'm so proud of myself! I don't know what got into me, but I got the bug to give tamales a try. Living in Texas and Arizona, I used to know women who would make these by the hundreds and sell them for practically nothing. And they were so good. When I started looking on-line for recipes, it seemed like quite a daunting task. They all said how labor-intensive the process was. But I charged ahead!

I figured my first attempt was going to be utterly experimental and I was right! The first recipe I used ( came out oddly. The flavor was wonderful (although I did not use her pork recipe, I used my leftover Shirley Corriher Pull-Apart Pork Roast (see earlier post) and simply added some canned Mild Red Enchilada sauce. But her instructions on how to roll the tamales just didn't work. I had only used half of the masa, so thought I'd give it another try. I bought another small (under 2#) pork butt and cooked it according to her directions. I would definitely use Shirley Corriher's roast instead. Much better flavor. Anyway, I again looked on-line for better rolling instructions and found this: So much better!

The photos above are the finished product on the table, steaming the tamales, the stack of uncooked tamales, a tamale ready to be rolled, and the husks soaking in hot water.

Now the beauty of these babies is that, while it will take a couple of hours to roll an entire batch, they freeze beautifully and you can take 2 or 3 out at a time and just pop the cooked tamales in the microwave or reheat them in the oven.

This recipe will make somewhere around 50 tamales. It's hard to say, depends on the number of husks you get in your package and how big they are (some of mine were over 12" wide, so I tore them in half). My recipe is a compilation of several I read on-line, but ultimately worked really well. If you 're going to try it, I really urge you to watch the YouTube video listed above. It made it so much easier!


3 1/2-4# pork butt, cooked the day before using Shirley Corriher's recipe in previous post, shredded

2-3 cans red enchilada sauce (depending on how "juicy" you want the filling....I used "Mild")

6 cups stock (I used turkey stock I had in the freezer)

3/4 cup shortening

6 cups masa harina

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp salt

1 package (about 50) corn husks

Put all of your husks in a large bowl or clean sink. Pour boiling water or very hot tap water to cover. I used heavy pot lids to hold them down. Give them at least half an hour to soften.

Mix the enchilada sauce into the shredded pork and simmer for about 10 minutes.

To make masa, beat shortening on medium speed in large bowl for 1 minute.

In a separate bowl, stir together masa harina, baking powder, and 2 tsp salt.

Alternately add masa harina mixture and broth to shortening, beating well after each addition (add just enough to make a thick, creamy paste).

To assemble the tamales, spread 3-4 Tbsp of the masa on the top corner of the husk, about a 4x4 square. Then add 1-2 Tbsp of the pork. Watch the video at this point to learn how to roll it up! I tore a strip of the husk off of the edge to use to tie the tamale.

Now, there are actually tamale steamers out there and I suppose if I made these everyday, I would buy one. Instead, I used my largest stock pot with a steamer basket. Stand the tamales with the open end up. Bring the water (up to the steamer basket bottom) to a boil, then turn heat down (I used somewhere between 4-5 on my electric stove) to a low boil and cover. It usually takes between 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 of an hour. I start checking them at one hour. Take the smallest one out, unroll it and see how set the masa has become. Then check another every 15 minutes after.

Freeze leftovers in a ziplock bag. To reheat in the oven, place in a baking dish with husks on sides. Sprinkle the top with a little water. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

To microwave, thaw and wrap in wet paper towel, 2 minutes for 1 or 2 tamales.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Avalanche/Chocolate Blizzard Bars

From what I've gathered from other food blogs, these are the new hot twist on Rice Krispies Treats. They are pretty good, the whole mini-marshmellows are kind of a neat twist on the melted ones used in Treats. I made both pans in under an hour. They're so fast and easy. Both of these are a chocolate/peanut butter combo. There are so many variations you can use to make either one of these, you are sure to come up with a combination that suits you to a "T"!


12 oz white chocolate chips
1/4 cup creamy peanuts butter
3 cups crisped rice cereal
1 1/2 cups mini marshmellows
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Lightly grease a 9x9 (or 8x8 if you prefer thicker bars) and set aside. In a large, microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips for one minute. Stir. Then continue to microwave in 30 second increments until the chips are completely melted. Add the peanut butter to the melted chocolate and stir to combine. Add the cereal. Let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes, stirring now and again (this is important!.....I didn't wait and the mini chips started to melt, I sprinkled a few more on top and popped it into the frig). Add the marshmellows and mini chips and stir to combine.

Press the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly, pressing lightly with the back of a spoon, taking care not to press too hard or they will be overly compact and it will make the bars dry and tough. Garnish with additional mini chips, if desired. Let the bars cool completely before serving.


12 oz chocolate chips, semisweet, bittersweet, or milk chocolate

1/2 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter

3 cups crisped rice cereal

2 cup mini marshmellows

1/2 cup chocolate chips or M&Ms

Lightly grease an 8x8 or 9x9" baking pan and set aside.

In a large, microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips for one minute. Stir. Then continue to microwave in 30 second increments until the chips are completely melted. Stir in the peanut butter until combined. Let the mixture cool slightly, about five minutes. Add the rice cereal, marshmellows, and chocolate chips or M&Ms. Fold together with a rubber spatual until well combined.

Pour the mixture into the greased prepared pan. Press additional marshmellows and M&Ms onto the top of the bars, if desired. Let the bars cool and set for 5-6 hours until they are firm and no longer gooey and melty. These bars take a lot longer to set up than the Avalance Bars. Cut into squares and serve.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


These are a couple of Easter gift baskets/cards I made for neighbors. I loaded them with 3 different flavors of pizzelles. I first learned about pizzelles years and years ago from an older Italian woman who made them every Christmas. They're a waffle-like cookie that is really fun to can try to break them aong the lines of the designs. There are a million different flavor combinations, but I grew to think of the original with an anise flavor, so I've always made them with anise extract and anise seed. I also like a pizzelle flavored with almond extract. And a week or so ago I ran across a food blog that had a coconut/pandan flavor. I'd never heard of pandan and love the taste of coconut, so it sounded interesting. I had to order the pandan extract on-line and it certainly smelled quite nice, but the coconut/pandan flavors weren't strong enough for my tastes (they say you lose about half of your tasting ability after the age of 50 or in the world do they measure that?!!!!). Anyway, it was still quite nice.

This is a fun "cookie" to make and eat. You need a special pizzelle's just like waffle iron, but makes much thinner cookies. You can also make ice-cream cones by rolling the pizzelles the second they come of the's a special cone-shaped wooden tool that you simply roll the warm cookie around to shape it.

If you would like any information or any of the recipes I used, let me know. I've made half a dozen different variations and would be happy to share if anyone would like to give it a try.

Have a nice Easter weekend!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pork Roast, Carrots, Salad, and Biscuits

My favorite grocery store ever is Central Market in Texas. When we lived in San Antonio, I used to take a lot of cooking classes. They would bring in local chefs and also famous cooks and authors. One class I had was with Shirley Corriher, the food scientist (I used to watch her on some of Alton Brown's shows. She is such a pistol! Anyway, she is from Atlanta so she did a bit of a southern menu. I hadn't made this roast in years, we just don't eat much beef or pork around here, but I just had a bug for it lately. This roast is incredible. So tender and it just melts in your mouth. Her recipe called for cooking it in the oven, but I find a crock pot so much easier (let me know if you'd like the times/temps if you prefer to cook it in the oven). And her biscuits are absolutely the best I've ever had. Being from Atlanta, she is a true White Lily brand flour afficionado which may not be available in your area, but she did give substitutions. And this salad is so wonderful! I'm so into textures in food, and this is like a party in your mouth! I did cut the recipe in half using only one head of romaine.


1 pork butt roast (3-4#)

1/4 to 1/3 cup Lea & Perrins

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 cup apple juice

1/2 tsp salt

Sprinkle the Lea & Perrins on all sides of the roast. Then, press brown sugar coating on all sides of the pork. Pour the apple juice down the side to the bottom of the crock pot not over the crusted pork. Cook on high for half an hour, then turn to low for about 8 hours.

Remove the roast and pull the meat apart, removing the bone. Stir in the salt. Do not omit the salt. It is vital for the taste of the dish. Serve meat in its delicious juice hot or room temperature.

PLUM CRAZY CARROTS (3-4 servings)

1 # carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2 slices, or baby carrots

1/2 Tbsp salt

1 1/2 Tbsp butter

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp white pepper

2 Tbsp light brown sugar

1/4 cup (2-3) plums, sliced

1/2 orange, zested (I would use much less)

1 Tbsp brandy, Amaretto, or Grand Marnier

2-3 Tbsp roasted almond slivers

parsley to garnish, optional

In large saucepan, cook carrots in boiling water with 1/2 Tbsp salt until fork tender (I used a microwave steamer). Drain.

In a heavy skillet, melt 1 1/2 Tbsp butter, add carrots, sprinkle with salt, white pepper, and brown sugar. Cook until sugar is dissolved and coats carrots. Add plums and orange zest. Stir in brandy and pour into serving dish. Sprinkle with almonds and garnish with parsley.


1 small head Boston lettuce

1 small head Bibb lettuce

1 small head of romaine

2 pkgs ramen noodles

1/4 tsp seasoned salt or Old Bay

4 Tbsp butter, melted

1 1/4 cup walnut pieces

1/2 tsp salt

6 Tbsp butter, divided

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1/4 head of cauliflower

DRESSING (I used Julia Child's Basic Vinaigrette)

2 large shallots, peeled and halved

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp white pepper

1 tsp Dijon

1 cup vegetable or olive oil

10 fresh basil leaves, optional

Wash the lettuces and soak for 10-30 minutes in cold water. Spin dry, then wrap in a clean towel to dry thoroughly. Remove and place in zip-lock bags, squeeze out the air, salt, and refrigerate (I just chopped up the romaine). Dry salad greens require a minimum of dressing.

Preheat oven to 350.

Unwrap ramen noodles and discard flavoring packet. Stir seasoning salt into melted butter and brush noodles well on all sides. Break noodles up and spread out over half of a large baking sheet. Spread walnuts out over the other half of the sheet and roast noodles and walnuts until both are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. While the walnuts are hot, stir in 2 Tbsp butter and 1/2 tsp salt.

In a large skillet, melt 4 Tbsp butter, stir in bread crumbs and toast, stirring constantly over low heat until lightly browned (I omitted this step).

Grate cauliflower or coarsely chop by pulsing in a food processor. Remove to a small bowl.

With the steel knife in the processor, drop shallots one at a time down the feedtube onto the spinning blade to mince. Add the vinegar, 1 1/2 tsp salt, sugar, pepper, and mustard. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil. Add 1/4 cup of the walnuts and basil leaves, process a few seconds to grind. Set aside (I also omitted this step since I was using vinaigrette I already had on hand).

When ready to serve, tear the lettuce into bite-size pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup dressing and toss very well to coat each piece. Taste and add more dressing or salt if needed. Add roasted ramen noodles and grated cauliflower. Place on a cold salad platter or invididual salad plates. Top with toasted crumbs and remaining walnuts. Serve immediately.


She learned that the secret to these biscuits is using a very wet dough. This wet dough in a hot oven creates steam to puff and make feather-light discuits.

Non-stick cooking spray

2 cups self-rising flour, low protein Southern flour like White Lily or any self-rising flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

4 Tbsp shortening

2/3 cup cream

1 cup buttermilk or until dough resembles cottage cheese. If you are not using low-protein Southern flour, it will take more than a cup

1 cup plain (lower-protein like bleached all-purpose or White Lily) (for shaping)

2 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 425 and arrange a shelf slightly below the center of the oven. Spray an 8" or 9" cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the self-rising flour, sugar, and salt. Work the shortening in with your fingers until there are no large lumps. Gently stir in the cream, then the buttermilk. Stir in buttermilk until the dough resembles cottage cheese. It should be a wet mess, not soup, but cottage cheese texture. If you are not using a low-protein Southern flour, this may require considerably more than a cup.

Spread the plain (not self-rising) flour out on a plate or pie pan. With a medium (about 2", #30) ice cream scoop or spoon, place 3 scoops of dough well apart in the flour. Sprinkle flour over each. Flour your hands. Turn a dough ball in the flour to coat, pick it up, gently shape it into a round, shaking off the excess flour as you work. Place the biscuit int he prepared pan. Coat each dough ball and place the shaped biscuit smushed up against its neighbor. Continue scooping and shaping until all the dough is used.

Place on the shelf in the center or slightly below the center of the oven. Bake until lightly browned, about 20-25 minutes. Brush with melted butter. Invert onto one plate then back onto another. With a knife or spatula, cut quickly between biscuits to make them easy to remove. Serve immediately. "Butter'em while they're hot" or spread with CHERRY-CHAMBORD BUTTER.


This is also excellent with orange marmalade instead of cherry preserves and Grand Marnier instead of Chambord.

1 stick butter

8 oz cream cheese

2 Tbsp Chambord or other raspberry liqueur

1/3 cup confectioners' sugar

5 oz cherry preserves

Grated zest of 1 orange (optional)

Process the butter, cream cheese, liqueur, and confectioners' sugar in the food processor with the steel knife, to blend well. Stir in the preserves and zest by hand. Chill well before serving. Keeps well refrigerated for several days in a closed jar.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Remembering Paul and Oklahoma City

Sixteen years ago. This morning. 9:02 a.m. My sweet, loving, dedicated brother, Paul Douglas Ice, was murdered in the Oklahoma City Bombing. It might as well have been yesterday. I think of him and miss him every single day.

Please take a minute today and think of Paul and the other 167 victims murdered so senselessly. You can learn more at Another website to look at is (you may not be able to link directly to the site by clicking on this, but type it directly into your address bar to see a beautiful tribute).

Monday, April 18, 2011

Salmon Nicoise

Talk about perfect timing. Don't you just love it when the dinner you prepare just hits the spot??? This was tonight. A different version of Tuna Nicoise. So easy, lovely presentation, and simply delicious. There really isn't even a recipe. The one difference I made (and it was a big one!) was to use arugula instead of mixed greens. And Hericot Verts (french green beans). You could certainly use (and I have) regular green beans, but if you cook these hericot verts just right (I buy packages in my produce section and microwave them for about 2 1/2 minutes where they are still crisp-tender), they have a lovely sweetness to them. Oh my! All of these flavors came together so nicely. Here's what I did: A bed of arugula dressed in a basic vinaigrette (I used Julia Child's recipe, see previous post) One red potato (per serving) cooked (I baked), and sliced One boiled egg, sliced Diced tomatoes (I always use grape tomatoes, halved) A handful of hericot verts One piece of salmon, about 4 oz per serving (I marinated a piece in the vinaigrette, then baked, 350 degrees, about 10 minutes per inch of thickness) Anchovies (optional) Lemon wedges (optional) Then just drizzle the vinaigrette over the entire plate. OH SO GOOD!!!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Chicken Enchilada Pasta and Black & White Bean Dip

This is a wonderful Mexican twist on pasta! Very tasty and great leftovers! The bean dip is interesting.....I'm so use to a creamy-type dip and I love beans, so I really enjoyed this (great leftover, also). The original pasta recipe says it serves 6-8 so I cut it in half and there is more than enough leftover for dinner tonight, along with a salad. The bean dip also makes quite a bit. I only baked half of it and saved the other half to use later in the week with something else. I'll list the recipes as I originally found them, but with a few notes on each of them of the changes I did or will make to suit my tastes better.

If you like pasta and like creamy Mexican dishes, I hope you'll try this. It will definitely be making more appearances around here.


cooked chicken, amount to taste (about 3/4 to 1 cup)

1 Tbsp olive oil

1-2 garlic cloves, finely minced

1/2 medium onion, diced

1/2 red pepper, diced

2 oz canned diced green chilies

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp (I would use 1) cumin

minced cilantro, amount to your taste

1 (10 oz) can green chili enchilada sauce (I use mild)

1/3 cup red enchilada sauce (I use mild)

small can sliced black olives

1/2 cup sour cream (I used reduced-fat)

3/4 cup shredded cheese (I used half Pepper Jack and half sharp cheddar)

8 oz penne pasta, cooked al dente (I used the mini Penne because that's what I had on hand)

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet and add the onion. Cook 2-3 minutes until onion is translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper and cook for another 2 minutes, until pepper is barely tender. Add the cooked chicken, green chilies, spices, cilantro, enchilada sauces and olives. Let the sauce simmer for about 8-10 minutes.

Add the sour cream and cheese and heat through, until the cheese is melted (do not boil). Mix in the cook pasta.

You can garnish with more sour cream, cheese, diced tomatoes, and/or green onions.


1 can of black beans

I can of white beans (I used Great Northern beans)

1 can of shoepeg corn

1 7 oz can of Herdez salsa verde

2 cup of shredded cheese (I used a mixture of cheddar, Jack, and pepper Jack)

4-6 chopped roma tomatoes (seed the tomatoes to get as much liquid out as possible)

1/2-1 tsp garlic salt

minced cilantro, amount to taste

Drain and rinse beans and corn together. Chop tomatoes. Mix everthing together (at this point, I put half away in another container to keep and used a small casserole dish {7x5} sprayed with cooking spray). If heating the entire amount, a 9" pie plate would work well. Sprinkle a little more cheese on top.

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Shrimp Pie

OK, it's official! Jim is going to have to take over the photography in this home! I'm going to have to make this again and soon so I can replace this photo. However, I am going ahead and posting this awful picture because this recipe is just too good not to share. I love shrimp and I love dill and I just love this pie. I ran across this recipe in a Cooking Light recipe years ago and it's become a bit of staple around here. This is a great summer dish and I usually serve it simply with just a fruit salad. And since I never eat the crust, it is an incredibly low-fat/calorie dish. Now a note about the crust. I cannot make a pie crust. There, I said it. I have tried and tried and tried. No more. I accept the fact that I am pie-crust-impaired. And I never cared for the little frozen ones in the aluminum pans. Someone told me that the refrigerated ones were really good for not-homemade. So I tried those. Well, the flavor may be better than the frozen ones, but not only can I not make a pie crust, I also don't have the skills to make the little crimped edges. I don't understand this handicap, I just accept it. But, since I don't ever eat the crust, I may go back to the frozen ones so at least it will look better. This recipe does include a crust recipe which is listed below. SHRIMP PIE *Pastry: *1 1/4 cups flour *1/4 cup semolina or pasta flour *2 tsp sugar *1/4 tsp salt *2 Tbsp butter, chilled and cut into small pieces *1 Tbsp vegetable shortening *1/4 cup ice water *1/2 tsp cider vinegar *Cooking spray Filling: *12 oz uncooked shrimp (any size except those tiny salad shrimp), peeled and chopped *1/4 cup (2 oz) fat-free cream cheese, softened *1/2 cup egg substitute, divided 2 tsp flour *1 cup evaporated fat-free milk *1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded Havarti or fontina cheese (if you find Havarti w/dill, try this!) *1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill (I like a lot of dill, I used 2 1/2 Tbsp) *1/8 tsp salt Preheat oven to 375. To prepare pastry, lightly spoon 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour and semolina flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, and 1/4 tsp salt in a medium bowl; cut in butter and shortening with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine ice water and vinegar in a small bowl. Add water mixture to flour mixture; toss with a fork until mixture is well combined (mixture will be crumbly and will not form a ball). Press mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9" deep-dish pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375 for 5 minutes (I would probably bake this a bit longer, maybe 10 minutes). Remove from oven; cool on a wire rack. To prepare filling, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add the shrimp; cook one minute or until shrimp turn pink. Remove from heat. Combine cream cheese and 1/4 cup egg substitute in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add 2 tsp flour; beat 1 more minute. Beat in remaining egg substitute and milk. Add shrimp, Havarti cheese, dill, and 1/8 tsp salt, stirring well. Pour shrimp mixture into prepared crust (if using store-bought crust, still bake it for about 5 minutes). Bake at 375 for 40 minutes or until set. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes before serving. Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 wedge).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

I love wild rice soup. I have never been disappointed in any recipe I have used. This one is a bit of a compilation of several. This recipe calls for shallots, leeks, and onions. I really liked the leeks, so I think next time I'll use all leeks (2-3, depending on size). And as much as I love wild rice, to add an entire cup of cooked rice is pretty expensive, so I opted for the wild/brown rice blend (I used Lundberg brand). Also, I'm a real fence-sitter when it comes to sherry. Have been for a long time. Sherry has a wildly distinct flavor that throws whatever you're making into an entirely new realm. This was the first time I had used it in wild rice soup, and I used just a tad bit. This is something very personal, so you decide what you like better. In or out, this is still a great recipe.

One last thing, the original recipe calls for half-and-half. Now, I have tried using fat-free h&h in soups before with no luck. It always curdled. So this time, I cooked the soup completely and let it cool. Then I added the FF h&h and brought the soup back to temp on a very low heat. It worked beautifully! I'm so excited. The fat content of this soup was cut drastically this way!


1/4 butter

2 shallots

1 leek (white and light green parts only)

1/4 medium sweet onion

(or 2-3 leeks, depending on size, sliced)

1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced

1/2 cup carrots, thinly sliced

4 oz sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup flour

5 cups chicken or turkey stock

1-2 cups chopped chicken or turkey

1 cup cooked wild/brown rice blend

2 Tbsp sherry (optional)

2 cups half-and-half

Saute the onion mixture in butter until tender, about 5 minutes. Add celery, carrots, mushrooms and cook about another 5 minutes (medium heat). Add flour, stir well, cook about 1-2 minutes. Add stock. Bring to a boil, turn heat back to medium. Let thicken, about 5 minutes.

Add turkey, rice, and sherry. If using regular half-and-half, add now, bring to serving temperature. If using fat-free half-and-half, let soup cool (will take at least a couple of hours), then stir in dairy, and bring back to serving temp on a low heat.

This recipe made approximately 10 cups of soup.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Root Beer Float Cookies with BAD photo!

OK OK OK, please forgive me for this awful photo. But I needed to add it because Jim took the cookies to work so I have no more to photograph. And this was really an interesting cookie. I've never had anything like it. A bit of a I like it, is it just so different that it's questionable, or is it just like one of those really good just lingers in the back of your mind until you just have to see/eat it again? I have to make another batch. I have never in my life had a cookie using root beer extract. And it does taste like root beer! Never a flavor I would have expected in a cookie. The first bite I took was one just out of the oven, unfrosted, and it was, well....a bit "earthy." I don't have a big sweet tooth and generally shy away from glazes on cakes and especially cookies. Glazes are just way too sweet for me. But this time it worked. These cookies need this glaze to bring them back to the "cookie realm." They are definitely a moist cookie, not chewy or crunchy. Like eating a bite of cake. And there is very little spread when baking, so you can put 12 1" dough-balls on a standard-sized baking sheet with no problem. Let them cool completely on a rack before icing. And then smile after your first bite! A note about root beer extract. I could not find it in any of the grocery/specialty stores in my area. I ended up ordering it on-line at Also, since reading about the Perfect Chocolate Chip cookies a few weeks ago (see previous post), plan on refrigerating the dough for at least a couple of hours, overnight wouldn't hurt. ROOT BEER FLOAT COOKIES

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup butter, room temp

1/4 cup milk

2 eggs

2 Tbsp root beer concentrate or extract

4 cups flour

pinch salt

1 tsp baking soda

Cream together sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Add milks, eggs, and root beer extract. Stir to combine. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Refrigerate dough until firm, then roll into 1" balls (my scale weighed them at 20 grams). Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet (I use parchment paper, or you could use a Silpat mat). Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes (my oven needed 10 minutes). Remove from oven and cool completely before applying glaze.


1 cup powdered sugar

2-3 Tbsp cream or half-and-half

1/2 tsp vanilla

Whisk all ingredients until lumps are gone. Ice cookies.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Scalloped Potatoes with Three Cheeses

This is the potato dish Jim most often requests. This was a demo dish at Central Market when we lived in San Antonio and I cannot tell you how many times I've made it, and how absolutely delicious it is! We have it with just about every basic, traditional, holiday meal: Chrismas, Thanksgiving, Easter. Turkey or ham. I roasted a turkey yesterday so had a great excuse to make another dish of these yummy, yummy potatoes. I'm going to list the recipe as I received it from CM (serves 12, using a 13x9 dish), but I always half the recipe and use an 8x8 baking dish. Just right for the two of us and company, or with leftovers. It is a total of about 1 1/2 hours of baking time.


3/4 c extra-sharp cheddar, 4 oz

3/4 c bleu cheese or gorgonzola, 2 oz

1/3 c grated Parm, 1 1/4 oz

4 lb russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/4" rounds (I use a mandolin)

1 1/2 tsp salt (I use much less, due to the saltiness of the cheeses, I just sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt)

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

3 Tbsp flour

4 Tbsp butter

3 c milk (skim, lo-fat, whole....I've used them all with great results)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter (I use cooking spray) 13x9 glass baking dish. 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 the 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 until just boiling). Pour milk over potatoes (milk will not cover completely). Cover tightly with foil, and bake 45 minutes. Remove foil (liquids in dish may look curdled). Sprinkle potatoes with reserved cheese mixture. Bake uncovered until potatoes are tender and cheese is a deep golden brown, about 45 minutes longer. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lindie and The Turkey

I roasted a turkey tonight for dinner and before I could get to it to clean it, Lindie discovered it via her personal drive-through window! Oh, she was so close, if she could have just gotten those back stubby legs up a bit higher!

Spot and Muffin at the Park

We have a new off-leash dog park close to us and it is, in The Girls' opinions, the best money we've spent in a long time. The camera batteries died after this shot, so we'll try to take more this coming week. While Muffin will still run a hard run with Lindie, Spot is pretty much just a sniffer and pee-er. Regardless, they all really look forward to their park!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Potato Tarragon Soup

This recipe came from a restaurant I worked at in Minnesota (boy! this woman had some terrific recipes!) I have to smile thinking there are leftovers waiting in the frig! This is such an elegant, sophisticated-tasting soup. If you like lighter potato soups, I really hope you'll try this. The leeks and tarragon simply put this soup over the top. POTATO TARRAGON SOUP

3 Tbsp butter (I used one)

2 leeks (white and pale green parts only) sliced

1 small onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp water

1/2# red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 1/2" pieces (use 1# if you like a thicker soup)

4 cups chicken broth

1 tsp dried tarragon (I used 1 Tbsp freshly chopped)

1/2 c whipping cream (I used half-and-half)

1/2 cup plain WHOLE yogurt (fat-free will curdle)

Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add leeks, onion, garlic, and water. Cook until leeks are just golden, about 10 minutes. Add potatoes and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

Puree half of the soup. Return puree to soup pot. Mix in tarragon. Cool slightly. Stir in cream and whisk in yogurt (I didn't whisk this time and had a few clumps).

Season with S&P. SERVES 4.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pecan-Crusted Chicken Cutlets w/Lemon and Capers and Israeli Couscous Salad with Edamame, Feta, and Olives

This is actually a really nice dinner you can put together and on the table within 15 minutes, if, of course, you make the salad and breading ahead of time. All quite easy and a very satisfying dinner. And easy to make substitutions (except for the chicken). OK, so I wouldn't change the salad either, but that's up to you! I served this with steamed asparagus.


6-8 oz chicken cutlet (not a breast, too thick)

3 Tbsp Panko bread crumbs

2 Tbsp pecans, ground in your food processor

a couple Tbsp of egg beaters, or an egg or egg white

Canola oil

1 Tbsp capers, drained

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Rinse and pat chicken dry. Mix bread crumbs and pecan pieces together. Dip chicken in egg mixture, then in bread mixture.

Heat large saute pan. Coat bottom with oil. When hot, add chicken and cook at medium-high heat about 3 minutes or until brown. Turn. Do the same to the other side. Turn heat to low. When cooked throughout, remove from pan onto a plate and and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Add capers and saute for about a minute. Remove pan from heat. Add lemon juice and butter, whisk until combined. Drizzle sauce over chicken. Serve.


OK, I bought this ready-made salad at EarthFare. But it would be easy enough to copy. I don't have exact amounts, but this is what is in the salad. You just pretty much add as much/little of each ingredient as you like. They used a basic garlic vinaigrette, I used EarthFare's Garlic Expressions (a basic vinaigrette!). By the way, it's the same vinaigrette I used to pour over the steamed asparagus.


Cider Vinegar

Canola Oil





Israeli couscous, cooked

Edamame, cooked



Kalamata olives (I prefer oil-cured)

Feta Cheese