Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shrimp and Spinach Pasta

This is a great staple for your monthly menu.  Light, healthy, and really tasty.  I try to keep my pasta dishes to just a couple of month for dietary reasons, and this is a great reason to bring out this recipe.  Fast, easy, delicious, and nutritious.  Does it get any better?

I halved the recipe listed below (using a 10 oz box of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry).  Plenty for two, with leftovers.  You could simply substitute chicken if that suits you better.  Simply chop up some skinless, boneless chicken breasts and saute them in some olive oil and add the chicken at the end.  Serve with a good crusty, artisan bread or baguette and maybe a Caesar Salad.


1 pound frozen, peeled and deveined medium shrimp
1 (16 oz) pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 (14 1/2 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (14 1/2 oz) can chicken broth
1 tsp Greek seasoning
1 (8 oz) package angel-hair pasta, cooked
1/2 (4 oz) package crumbled feta cheese, or to taste

Thaw shrimp according to package directions.  Drain spinach well, pressing between paper towels, and set aside.

Saute onion in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender.  Stir in tomatoes, broth, and Greek seasoning; bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

Add shrimp and cook 2 minutes.  Stir in spinach.  Spoon over pasta sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately.  

Recipe Source:  Chattanooga Times Free Press, 2-23-11. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Thai Noodles

I don't think I've ever made or eaten an Asian-inspired meal which I did not enjoy.  This one definitely hit the spot.  Of course, you have to love the flavor of peanuts/butter and no allergies to them, but if you clear that obstacle, give this a try.  The menu listed below is vegetarian, but you could add in a pound of shrimp or chicken when cooking.


2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
5 tsp Thai sweet chili sauce
1 Tbsp minced fresh gingerroot
4 oz uncooked Asian rice noodles (about 1/4" wide)
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
2 cups fresh snow peas
1 cup julienned sweet red pepper
1 cup shredded carrots
1 can (8 oz) slice water chestnuts, drained
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts

In a small bowl, combine the constarch, coconut milk, soy sauce, water, peanut butter, vinegar, chili sauce, and ginger until blended; set aside.

Cook the noodles according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the asparagus, snow peas, red pepper, carrots, water chestnuts, and shallots in oil for 5-8 minutes or until crisp-tender.

Stir soy sauce mixture and stir into skillet.  Bring to a boi; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Drain noodles; add to vegetable mixture and stir to coat.  Sprinkle with peanuts.

Recipe Source: "Taste of Home: Simple & Delicious Cookbook"  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Southwestern Chicken with Mango Salsa

This is a great dish to make ahead if you have some leftover rice and not much time.  Whenever I make rice (usually jasmine), I always make extra and freeze it.  I always make this after I have made the green chili cheesecakes (listed yesterday) so I have leftover salsa to add to this.  Then you just need a can of black beans and a can of corn, along with some cumin and lemon pepper and you're good to go.


About 2 pounds of skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained
3 cups mango salsa (see recipe posted yesterday, or you can buy it at Costco or perhaps your grocery store), or to taste/texture consistency
Cumin to taste
Lemon pepper to taste
Cooked rice

Place chicken in a crock pot.  Add cumin and lemon pepper to taste.  Cover and cook until chicken is tender (I halved the recipe and used about a 12 oz chicken breast.....cooked on low for about 5 shredded easily at that point).  Shred chicken in the crock pot and mix in the juices.

To the crock pot chicken, add the corn, beans, and salsa.  Keep crock pot on "warm" until ready to serve over cooked rice.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Green Chili Cheesecake

This is a recipe from a restaurant I worked at in Minnesota and was the second top selling appetizer.  Outside of the taste, I love this for several reasons:  it makes a beautiful presentation and you can make it in cupcake tins (line the pan with paper cups and check after baking at 20 minutes) and freeze what you're not using (I'll posting the original recipe which makes one 8 to 9" cheesecake).  These (well-wrapped) mini cheesecakes keep in the freezer for at least 6 months.  

P. S.  I generally serve these with blue corn tortilla chips for a really striking presentation.


1 1/2 cups chopped roasted poblano peppers (cut in half, remove seeds, line skin up under a broiler until blackened.  Place in plastic bag until they have finished sweating, peel off skin, chop)
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 eggs
16 oz cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp butter, softened

4 Tbsp chopped marinated jalapenos
1 Tsp minced fresh dill leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Mango Salsa

In a food processor blend sour cream and eggs, add cream cheese and butter and blend until smooth.  Transfer mixture to bowl and stir in poblanos, jalapenos, cheeses, dill, and cilantro.  Pour into a 8 to 9" springform pan lined with parchment paper and bake at 325 for about 25 minutes, until center is just set, will still move.  Don't overbake.

Cool to room temp and serve or refrigerate.  When ready to serve, take out an hour in advance to allow to come to room temp (makes dipping much easier so chips won't break).  Cut around the inside rim and invert on a serving plate.  Top with mango salsa.


*NOTE:  I use the mango slices found in 20 oz jars in the produce department, and then half the rest of the recipe.  Since I always freeze the extra cheesecakes, I don't need all of the salsa at one time.

3 cups chopped fresh mango
3 tsp chopped garlic cloves
1/2 cups finely chopped red onion
1 red pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
4 Tbsp rice vinegar

Stir all ingredients together.  Pour on top of green chili cheesecake.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ham and Goat Cheese Croissant Sandwich

I had ordered these absolutely wonderful croissants from QVC. One week, the cooking host shared this recipe and it is a keeper!  The original recipe came from "" (which I will definitely be keeping an eye on....some really good lookin' recipes there!).  I served it with a simple vegetable soup, so the focus would remain on the sandwich.


4 croissants, baked and served lengthwise
8 tsp whole grain mustard
8 tomato slices
12 oz smoked ham, thinly sliced
2/3 cup gruyere cheese, shredded


2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
1 1/4 cup milk, heated
6 oz goat cheese, softened
1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.

To prepare the bechamel sauce, warm the milk in a small saucepan; set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the flour, salt, white pepper, nutmeg, and cloves; cook, stirring constantly, until the mixtures cooks without browning, about 2 minutes.  Gradually add the warm milk and continue to stir as it thickens.  Allow the sauce to come to a boil and continue stirring for 2 more minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, add the softened goat cheese and chives, and stir until the cheese is evenly incorporated and completely melted.  Keep warm

Assemble the sandwiches on a cookie sheet, and start by spreading 2 tsp of whole grain mustard on the bottom of each croissant.  Follow with an equal amount of ham and tomatoes and put the tops on each sandwich.  Sprinkle each sandwich with gruyerer cheese and bake for 5 minutes.

Turn on the broiler and broil the sandwiches for 2 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned.  Ladle the bechamel sauce over each sandwich and serve hot.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Blue Ribbon Apple Pie

I think Apple Pie recipes are pretty close to each other.   Here's a great "basic" recipe for a standard American Apple Pie.  There is a pie dough recipe following the apple mixture, but you can certainly use the refrigerated pie crust in the refrigerated section of your grocery store.


1 recipe double-crust pie dough (easy, no-fail recipe below)

2 1/2 pounds (about 5) firm tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4" thick (Granny Smith)
2 1/2 pounds (about 5) firm, sweet apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4" thick (Gala)
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp grated fresh lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 egg white, beaten lightly (or a splash of egg beaters)

Roll one disk of pie dough into a 12" circle and fit into a 9" pie plate, letting the excess dough hang over the edge.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Roll the other disk of dough into a 12" circle on a lightly floured surface and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes also.

Toss the apples, 1/2 cup of the sugar, brown sugar, zest, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl.  Transfer the apples to a large pot or Dutch oven and cover, cooking over medium heat and stirring frequently, until the apples are tender when poked with a fork, but are nut mushy (don't overcook because the apples will finish cooking and softening up in the oven), about 10-12 minutes.

Transfer the apples and their juice to a rimmed baking sheet and let cook to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Drain the cooled apples thoroughly in a colander, reserving 1/4 cup of the juice.  Stir the lemon juice into the reserved 1/4 cup of apple juice.

Spread the apples into the dough-line pie plate, mounding them slightly in the middle, and drizzle with the lemon juice mixture.  Loosely roll the second piece of dough around the rolling pin and gently unroll it over the pie.  Fold the overhang up over the top crust and crimp the edges together.  Cut 4 vent gashes in the top of the pie.  Brush the crust with the egg white and sprinkle with the remaining 1 Tbsp of sugar.

Place the pie on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until the crust is golden, about 25 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and continue to bake until the juices are bubbling and the crust is deep golden brown, about 25-30 minutes longer.  Let the pie cool on a wire rack until the filling has set, about 2 hours.  Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.


2 cups AP flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 cup regular Crisco shortening 

Mix the above ingredients with your hands to form a uniform mixture.

Add 1/3 cup iced water.

Dip your hands in flour so they won't get too sticky.  Mix the iced water into the shortening/flour mixture with your hands.  Roll into a round ball (the dough will resemble a sugar cookie dough).  Divide in half and roll into two circles.  Bake according to pie directions.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Teriyaki Fried Rice

This is a basic recipe I keep around.  I always have everything on hand and can make this dish in minutes.  I will alternate chicken with shrimp and use whatever vegetables I have on hand.  I'll list the recipe as I made it last night, but you could absolutely change the meat/vegetables to your liking.  Whenever I make jasmine or brown rice, I make extra and pop it in the freezer so I always have it on hand to make this dish.  I keep frozen potstickers in the freezer and serve it alongside.


2-3 cups cooked rice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 pound chicken, thinly sliced, or shrimp, shelled and deveined
2-3 green onions, chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 cup sugar snap peas, fresh or frozen (you could use peas)
1/2 small red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup SOY VAY VERI VERI Teriyaki Sauce (you can use another brand, but this stuff is simply the best!)

Over medium-high heat, stir the chicken or shrimp until fully cooked in 1/2 Tbsp olive oil.  Remove from pan.  Add the rest of the olive oil and saute green onions, carrots, and red pepper over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Stir in peas, rice, and shrimp or chicken.  Pour in the teriyaki sauce and stir to distribute evenly.  Cook another few minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Red Coconut Curry Noodles

There are a couple of ingredients that, if I notice in a recipe, I will always try.  Like sesame oil or coconut milk.  This dish is so luscious.  And versatile.  I'm listing the recipe as I found it, but you can vary it in so many ways.  Last night I served it with steamed broccoli, but I think next time I'll chop up some broccoli to add a bit more color to it.  The original recipe calls for chicken, but I substituted shrimp (uncooked, peeled, and deveined which I added in the last step).  And personally, I would lessen the amount of noodles (for 2, I would use about 4-5 oz....the sauce is so delicious, I wanted more of it).


1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (6-8 oz) sliced into think strips
1/2 Tbsp oil
1 can light or regular coconut milk
1/2 Tbsp red curry paste (1 tsp for us)
1/2 Tbsp grated ginger
1/2-1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1-2 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 cup + 2 Tbsp chicken broth
4-7 oz packaged rice noodles (1/4" wide), depending on how much sauce you like with your noodles
1/2 sweet onion, sliced into thin moons
1 red pepper, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup broccoli slaw or thinly sliced matchstick carrots
Salt to taste

In a large pot over medium heat, scoop the cream off the top of the can of coconut milk and put it in the pot (if using light coconut milk, there won't be cream to use, so use the 1 Tbsp oil called for in the recipe).  The cream will be used as the "fat" instead of oil or butter.  Along with the cream, add the curry paste and ginger.  Let this simmer, stirring constantly, for about one minute.

Add the chicken and onions.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5-6 minutes.  Add the coconut milk, sweet chili sauce, cilantro, and chicken broth.  Bring to a simmer.

Add the red pepper, broccoli slaw (or carrots) and rice noodles and salt.  Simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent the noodles from sticking to the bottom, for about 5-8 minutes.  The noodles will thicken and plump up as they absorb the liquid.  The mixture will be slightly soupy when the noodles are finished cooking.

Take the pot off of the heat and let the noodles sit for about 5 minutes.  The mixture will continue to thicken.  Garnish with more cilantro, if desired.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Espresso Mint Cookies

I have posted this recipe before, but am posting it again for two reasons.  One, I changed the recipe a bit, and it won't be long before you'll be able to find these incredibly wonderful Kisses in the store (I stock up every year so I can make these all year can usually find them sometime around November).  I don't have a big sweet tooth, but this is one cookie that I will have a couple of before I send them off to Jim's office.

ESPRESSO MINT COOKIES (makes about 3 to 3 1/2 cookies at this size/weight)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 3/4 cup AP flour, lightly spooned into measuring cups and swept
1 Tbsp instant espresso (found in the coffee aisle next to the instant coffee)
1 (8 oz) bag Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 375.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat.

Cream the butter and sugars.  This will take several minutes.

Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.

Combine the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture.  Stir in the chopped kisses.

Drop by  heaping Tbsp (.75 oz) onto the lined cookie sheets.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden around the edges but still looking a bit soft in the middle. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Smoked Potato Salad

Jim bought me smoker earlier this year and I just love it.  Really, what doesn't taste better smoked?!!!  I made the best baked beans last time and this time I decided to try to potato salad.  Hands down, my absolutely favorite recipe.  Wish I had thought to make up some more beans and maybe some corn-on-the-cob while smoking some ribs this weekend.  Well, lesson learned.


1 1/2# russet potatoes, peeled
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup crisp tart pickles, chopped
3 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup light mayo
2 Tbsp cider viengar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees.  Mesquite chips recommended.

Peel potatoes and place them in a large saucepot with water to cover and boil for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through.  Drain potatoes, and dry them, on a plate layered with paper towels.

Place potatoes directly on the smoker racks and close smoker door.  Reduce heat to 200.  Keep potatoes in smoker for 2 hours.  Remove from smoker and diced them for the salad.

In a large bowl mix onion, pickles, eggs, mayo (if you are going to keep the salad for more than one day, it is best to use full-fat mayo-or at least half regular and half light), vinegar, mustard, S&P to taste.  Add diced potatoes to the mixture, cover and chill salad for at least several hours.

Recipe: Courtesy of John McLemore's "Dadgum That's Good" cookbook

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Zesty Grilled Tilapia w/Mango Coconut Rice

I printed off this recipe from Food Network in 2008 and just now tried it.  What a mistake!  This will definitely be on the table several times a month.  I know I've done other recipes with orange zest and juice, but somehow this one was just bursting with flavor.  Absolutely delicious.

The recipe calls for tilapia, but me, who should be a spokesman for the Swai industry, used Swai fillets.  And the only place I can find them is at Wal-Mart.  I'm sure tilapia would be just fine, but.....well......for me it can only be Swai!  Now, I did whittle this recipe down to serve just two (I halved the rice recipe and had 1/2 can frozen coconut milk from another worked just fine).


6 (4-6 oz) tilapia (or Swai) fillets
6 Tbsp olive oil, plus additional for brushing
1 Tbsp grated orange zest
6 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp hot sauce, to taste
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper

Place the fish in a large nonmetal dish.  Whisk together the 6 Tbsp of oil, orange zest and juice, ginger, hot sauce, S&P, to taste; pour over the fish.  Cover and marinade in the frig for 30-60 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare grill.  Brush the fish with additional oil.  Grill until fish just flakes when tested with a fork, about 5 minutes per side for each inch of thickness.

Serve alongside Mango Coconut Rice.


1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
1 (14 oz) can unsweetened coconut milk (I used light)
2/3 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 large ripe mango, peeled and cubed

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil.  Add the coconut milk, water, and salt; bring to a boil.  Stir in the mango.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer about 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

Remove the rice from the heat and fluff with a fork.  Place a clean, dry dish towel over the pan, cover with the lid, and let steam for 5 minutes before serving.     

Friday, August 10, 2012

No-Recipe Avocado Dip/Side Dish

Here's a great little side dish to serve with a simple grilled chicken breast.  Or a twist on traditional guacamole.  Again, no recipe.  Just combine some or all of the following for a tasty, textured accompaniment and a wonderful surprise.


Ripened avocado(s), mashed
Diced garden tomatoes
Grilled corn-on-the-cob, corn cut off of the cob


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Rice and Noodle Pilaf w/Edamame and Grilled Shrimp

This is such a wonderful combination of taste, color, and texture.  I've made it several times and I wish I could remember where I got the recipe, because whoever came up with this has to have some other great ideas.


1/2 Tbsp + 1 tsp EVOO
1 Tbsp lemon juice
8 oz large raw shrimp, deveined and peeled
1/2 small red onino, chopped
1 oz Canadian Bacon, finely chopped
6 Tbsp fine egg noodles, broken up
6 Tbsp instant brown rice
2 Tbsp dry white wine
1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame
3/4 cup chicken broth
S&P to taste
1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill, plus a few sprigs for garnish

Light a grill to high (I roast my shrimp in the oven: Turn broiler on high, toss shrimp with olive oil and a bit of black pepper, put under broiler for about 5 minutes, depending on size of shrimp).

In a bowl, whisk together 1 tsp olive oil and lemon juice.  Add the shrimp, toss to coat, set aside.

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat, the remaining 1/2 Tbsp of oil.  Add the onion and bacon and saute until the onion becomes translucent, about 2 minutes.

Add the noodles and rice and cook, stirring often, until the noodles begin to brown, about 3 minutes.  Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until the wine has evaporated, about 2 minutes.  Add the edamame and chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

Thread the shrimp onto bamboo or metal skewers.  Season both sides with S&P.  Grill, until the shrimp are pink and firm, about 1 1/2 minutes per side.

Remove the pilaf from the heat and let stand, covered for 3 minutes.  Stir in the dill and season with pepper.  Serve the pilaf topped with the shrimp.  Garnish with additional dill, if desired.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tacos with a Twist

I ran across a different taco-idea "recipe" some time ago.  I tucked the recipe away and ran across it the other day when I was organizing my files.  Below are some ideas to help you think outside the box.  It just so happened I had everything on hand and the changes were just delicious!

Hard or soft flour or corn tortillas
Shredded chicken (I used the leftovers from my Mojo Rotisserie Chicken)
Cheese:  Try something different, we loved Feta and Goat Cheeses
Taco Sauce or sprinkle on some hot sauce
Refried beans (I use one can of refried beans, mix in half a can of enchilada sauce, some diced onions, cheddar/Mexican blend/ or Italian blend cheese, bake at about 375 for about half an hour.....smeared some on the taco shells, ate some on the side)
Shredded cabbage
Lime wedges
Diced tomatoes

Monday, August 6, 2012

Italian Calzone Wrap

Here's a quick, easy, delicious dinner for a hectic evening.  I love wraps, just about any wrap, but had never tried an Italian-inspired wrap, outside of a "Chicken Caesar."    This is a wonderful combination of Italian sausage, YUMMMM, and fresh mozzarella with a few extra goodies thrown in.  Every once in a while I run across these "par-baked" tortillas which you heat up in a skillet to get a fresh tasting tortilla (I know you can always get these at Costco if you shop there).  Regular flour tortillas would certainly work, but I really do prefer the others.  The filling takes just a few minutes to prepare, toss a Caesar salad, and serve with a side of marinara sauce.

ITALIAN CALZONE WRAP (makes about 4 wraps, depending on size of tortilla and amount of filling)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 clove (1 tsp) minced garlic
1/2 pound Italian sausage, hot or mild, or a mixture
1/2 to 1 red bell pepper, depending on size
1 tsp chopped sundried tomatoes
1/2# fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Marinara sauce

In a medium skillet, heat oil.  Add onion, cook on low for 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and sausage, crumble as you cook, stirring 3-5 minutes.  Drain off excess fat at this point.  Add red bell peppers and sundried tomatoes.  Cook a few more minutes.  Add mozzarella and basil leaves.

Toss, put a lid on the pan and let cheese melt.  This only takes a minute or two (cheese will go stringy if left on heat too long).  Cook tortillas (if using par-baked ones) as directed and top with filling.  Sprinkle with Parmesan, wrap, and serve immediately.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chocolate Hazelnut No-Bake Cookies

Here's a twist on the traditional no-bake cookies we've all been eating since, well, forever.  Instead of simple cocoa, this recipe (courtesy David Veneble, QVC) incorporates Nutella, sweetened condensed milk, and hazelnuts.  Let's call it no-bakes on steroids!

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT NO-BAKE COOKIES (my scoops made 40 cookies)

1/2 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts
2 1/2 cups quick oatmeal
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper or a Silpat.  Place the oats and chopped, toasted hazelnuts in a mixing bowl.  Set aside.

Combine the condensed milk and chocolate chips in a saucepan and cook over low heat; stirring constantly, until the chocolate is completely melted.  Remove the pan from the heat; add the chocolate hazelnut spread and vanilla, and stir until completely incorporated.  Add the oats and chopped hazelnuts to the chocolate to the chocolate mixture and mix until the oats are fully coated with chocolate.

Drop the mixture (a heaping tablespoon for each cookie) onto the lined baking sheets.  Let the cookies set until cooled and hardened.  

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Pretzel Crusted Chicken w/Mustard Sauce and Mixed Greens

Looking for a bit of a different "basic chicken cutlet" entree?  Generally, cutlets are breaded in an egg/bread crumb combination.  This twist to this one: pretzels.  It lends a bit more texture and crunchiness.  Topped with a very simple mustard sauce, this is a great vehicle to highlight a special side dish.


2 cups sourdough pretzel nuggets
1/2 cup AP flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tsp pepper
5 Tbsp olive oil, divided
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 5 oz each)
2/3 cup mayo
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 pkg (5 oz) spring mix salad greens

Place pretzels in a food processor; process until finely crushed.  Place pretzels and flour in separate shallow bowls.  In another shallow bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, garlic, and pepper.  Pound chicken with a meat mallet to 1/4" thickness.  Dip both sides of chicken in flour, egg mixture and then pretzel crumbs.

In a large skillet, heat 3 Tbsp oil over medium heat.  Add chicken; cook for 4-6 minutes on each side or until no longer pink.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix mayo and mustard.  Remove 2 Tbsp to another bowl for dressing; whisk in remaining oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Place salad greens in a large bowl.  Drizzle with dressing; toss to coat.  Serve remaining mayo mixture over chicken. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Farro Salad

I have found another great farro recipe!  This was really interesting with the addition of some roasted green onions, goat cheese, and a wonderful citrus parmesan dressing.

An additional plus is that you can prepare everything ahead of time and just toss it when you're ready.  I cooked the farro and split peas a day or two ahead and made a big batch (amounts listed below).  I keep the leftover farro, split peas, and peas in a container and when I'm ready for a snack, I simply toss this with some of the roasted onions, goat cheese, and chives and then dress the salad with the dressing.


1 cup uncooked farro (cooked yields about 2 1/2 cups)
1 cup yellow split peas
3/4 cup frozen peas
Citrus Parmesan Vinaigrette (see below)
5 spring onions (trimmed, cut in half length-wise, toss in a bit of olive, sprinkled with a bit of salt and roasted on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven, toss at 10 minutes, and check at another 10-15 minutes, or until crispy)
crumbled goat cheese
chopped chives

Combine farro, a bit of salt, and cover with water in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until farro is tender, 45 minutes to an hour, or about half the time if you are using semi-pearled farro.  Taste often as it is cooking, you want it to be toothsome and retain struction.  Remove from heat, drain any excess water, and set aside until ready to use.

Split Peas:
Bring about 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan, add split peas, and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until tender.  Drain, salt to taste, and set aside.

Citrus Parmesan Vinaigrette:
Zest and juice of one orange
1 chopped shallot
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 cup EVOO

For dressing:
Whisk all ingredients together.

For salad:
Combine farro, split peas, and peas (keep this separate until ready to toss the salad).  When ready, toss the mixture with the dressing and then top with roasted onions, goat cheese, and chives.   

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

This is a great dish you can get several meals out of.  I made the full recipe as listed below, and froze half of it.  The frozen dish was in the freezer for two months and thawed and cooked up wonderfully.

I have learned when making stuffed shells that all of the shells never come out cooked in one piece!  I usually lose about 1/3 of them.  So it's kind of hit and miss as to how many solid shells you'll get out of one box.  But the great thing about pasta, it won't bust your budget if you have to throw some out.

Also with this recipe, either make your favorite basic marinara sauce of, if you're in a hurry, use your favorite jarred pasta sauce.  Serve it with a Caesar salad and some good bread and you're set.


2 cups marinara or pasta sauce
cooking spray
2 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup (2 oz) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 (10 oz) pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, squeezed dry
1 large egg yolk
1 garlic clove, minced
24 cooked (I ended up with about 16 good shells) jumbo pasta shells

Preheat oven to 350.

Spread 1/2 cup sauce over bottom of a 13x9" baking dish coated with cooking spray (I used two 8x8" dishes, one for the freezer)

Combine ricotta and next 8 ingredients (through garlic) in a large bowl, stirring well.  Spoon about 1 1/2 Tbsp filling into each pasta shell.  Arrange stuffed shells in prepared dish, spread with remaining 1 1/2 cups sauce.  Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Shrimp Newburg w/Duchess Potatoes

This is one of my favorite Publix recipes.  The sauce is lucious!  And is a breeze to make.  I use the pre-made mashed potatoes for a really quick dinner.  

I rarely use any Cream of Something soup, usually making up as sauce myself.  I've never fiddled with a Cream of Shrimp soup recipe, so I did use the Campbell's for this recipe.  And I have to say, for me, I would never make this recipe without using the cream sherry.

Serve the shrimp on top of the mashed potatoes and serve with a green vegetable or salad.  Piece of cake!


1 Tbsp garlic butter (melt a Tbsp butter on med-lo heat, throw in a bit of minced garlic until the butter is infused with the garlic flavor....DO NOT ALLOW TO COOK/BURN)
2 tsp country Dijon mustard
2 tsp flour
1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1# peeled/deveined shrimp (thawed, if frozen)
1/4 cup cream sherry
1 (10.75 oz) can condensed Cream of Shrimp soup
1/2 cup reduced-fat milk

Preheat large saucepan on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.

Place garlic butter in saucepan, swirl to coat.  Stir in mustard, flour, and seasoning.  Cook 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, or until well blended and bubbling.

Stir in (in this order) shrimp, sherry, soup, and milk.  Reduce heat to medium; cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until shrimp are opaque and sauce thickens.  Serve over mashed potatoes.


24 oz refrigerated mashed potatoes
1 Tbsp garlic butter
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Place potatoes in microwave-safe bowl.  Cover and microwave on high 4 minutes or until potatoes begin to get hot.

Stir in butter and cheese; microwave on high 3 more minutes or until thoroughly heated.  Stir and serve.