Thursday, January 31, 2013

Homemade Thin Mints

First, please forgive my absence for the last few days.  For the first time in my life, I got the flu and have spent the last few days in bed, sleeping and coughing.  Luckily, I had a stash of recipes I had made last week but hadn't gotten around to posting.  So I'm good for a few days until I can get back in the kitchen.

Last week I ran across an article on AOL about Girl Scout cookies.  I guess it's just about the time of year for them to come out.  They had all the other cookies listed with recipes, but I decided to try this one.  

It is so incredibly simple and really tastes just like the original.  And you can make a batch in about 5 minutes.  Does it get any better than that?  They are best kept in the frig and even better, in the freezer.

HOMEMADE THIN MINTS (makes 1 1/2 to 2 dozen cookies)

1 sleeve of Ritz crackers (I used reduced-fat)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1 Tbsp vegetable shortening
3/4 tsp peppermint extract (*see note below)

Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment or waxed paper, set aside.  Clear out a spot in your frig or freezer to accommodate baking sheet.

In a shallow microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate chips and shortening (the shortening helps the chocolate stay smooth when using it for dipping; it prevents that thick and gloppy, chocolate getting hard before you want it to) and heat for 1 minute on high heat to melt.  Stir and heat in 10-15 second bursts until  chocolate can be stirring very smooth.

To the melted chocolate, add 1/2 tsp peppermint extract* and stir.  If you prefer it mintier, and another 1/4 tsp.  I used 3/4 tsp in total, but because all brands and taste preferences differ, taste your chocolate and add additional extract to taste.

Add 1 cracker to the chocolate, coat it, and remove it by lightly scooping it up from the underside with a fork, allowing excess chocolate to drain off through fork tines.  Place cracker on parchment or waxed paper and repeat with all remaining crackers.  If necessary, re-heat the chocolate in 10-15 second bursts if it starts getting too firm for smooth dipping.  After all crackers have been dipped, place baking sheet in frig or freezer.  Although these will solidify at room temp, the shortening in the chocolate lengthens the amount of time that will take; the frig or freezer helps speed it up.  Store extra Thin Mints in an airtight container in the frig for many weeks.  In the freezer, I estimate that these could be kept for 3-6 months successfully.

*NOTE: Mint extract is much, much more potent than vanilla extract.  1 tsp of mint extract has an extreme amount of potency compared with 1 tsp vanilla extract.  You cannot un-do the mint once added, so be very, very careful to not over-do it and end up with a batch of Listerine-tasting cookies.  There are different kinds of mint extracts available and labeled as "mint," "peppermint," "spearmint," and more.  For this recipe, I used McCormick brand "Peppermint Extract."  Peppermint is what is used in Girl Scout Thin Mints.

Recipe inspiration from Kraft.  Article printed from Averie Cooks:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Strawberry Vinaigrette

We eat a lot of salads around here.   I generally have enough on hand that I can come up with something.  I never use the same dressing twice in a row and am always looking for something new and interesting.  This is a great dressing on a number of different greens and all year around.

For a basic guideline to hundreds of different salad, here are a few ideas:

Greens: Red or green leaf, spinach, butter, romaine
Fruit: Craisins, apple slices, mandarins, berries, apple or pear (or Asian pear) slices
Nuts: Cashews, pecans, walnuts, almonds, sunflower, pumpkin
Cheese: Swiss, cheddar, shaved parmesan, feta, gouda, bleu, brie
Added Protein: Grilled chicken, shrimp, or salmon

(I used spinach, blackberries, smoked gouda, pumpkin seeds on this side salad).

STRAWBERRY VINAIGRETTE (makes a little over one cup)

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 cup strawberry jam

Whisk ingredients together or put in a lidded jar and shake until combined.  Keep refrigerated.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Shrimp Bisque

OK, I don't quite know how to describe this without going out on a limb, here.  But let me just say, if this is not the best soup I have ever had, it is definitely in the top three.  Of course taste is a very subjective matter, but let me tell you!  It suits my taste just fine, thank you very much.  This bisque has it all.....taste, texture, presentation.

I had a couple of sourdough bread bowls leftover from Thanksgiving I'd been wanting to use up, but it just hasn't been chili weather.  I had originally planned on doing a salmon bisque, but looking for recipes, I ran across this one.  There are, of course, more than one shrimp bisque recipes out there and holy smokes!  am I ever glad I picked this one.  Don't let the list of ingredients scare you off.  This comes together pretty quickly.

You don't need the bread bowl, although it was a nice touch.  And for presentation purposes, I would definitely chopped up some chives or parsley.  If you are a shrimp/soup love, you gotta try this!

SHRIMP BISQUE (makes 4 small servings)

1 pound shrimp (peeled and deveined, shells reserved....I already had shrimp stock made, so I just used what I had on hand)
1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp flour
2 cup of stock (fish or chicken, I used 4 cups shrimp stock)
2 cups water
1 (15 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, with juice
1/4 cup dry sherry
2 Tbsp cognac or brandy
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup arborio rice
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp dry white wine
1/4 cup dry sherry
2 Tbsp cognac or brandy
2/3 cup heavy cream
S&P to taste
1/2 lemon (juice)
Chopped parsley or chives for garnish, optional

Heat the oil and melt the butter in a large saucepan.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and saute until tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Add the garlic and shrimp shells and cook for 2 minutes (omit the shells if you are using your own stock).  Add the flour and stir it for one minute.

Add the stock, water, tomatoes, sherry, brandy, thyme and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 30 minutes.

Strain the liquid into another sauce pan and discard the solids.  Add the rice, tomato paste, and paprika.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the rice is cooked, about 20-30 minutes.

Melt the butter in a pan.  Add the shrimp and saute until just cooked, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Add the wine and deglaze the pan.

Add half of the shrimp and the juices to the soup and puree until smooth with an immersion blender or in a food processor or blender.  Add the remaining shrimp, sherry, brandy, and cream and heat to serve.

Season with S&P and lemon juice.  Garnish with chopped parsley or chives.

Recipe Source:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pizza Quesadillas

All of the flavors of a pizza all wrapped up in quesadilla form and topped with even more pizza toppings.  This is a great basic recipe to start with.  Try it this way first, then change it to add what you like on a pizza.   This is a great make-at-home fast and easy pizza.  Serve it with a Caesar salad if you like.

An added bonus, in my opinion this is even better the second day.  I had one piece left over and set it in a 350F oven (not preheated) and left it on for 10-15 minutes.  The tortillas became crispier without burning.  I have included a pizza sauce recipe which is fast and easy, but even easier, use a jarred pasta sauce to prepare the quesadilla, and leftover sauce for dipping.  Delicious!!!


2 (10") flour tortillas
shredded mozzarella cheese
Pizza sauce or jar pasta sauce (Pizza sauce recipe listed below)
Sliced pepperoni (I use Hormel turkey pepperoni)
Sliced black olives

Heat a large pan or grill pan over medium heat.

Place one tortilla in the pan (I spray the grill-side down piece with olive oil cooking spray), spread the tortilla with sauce, sprinkle with mozzarella, add pepperoni and olives, more cheese, then top with the remaining tortilla.  When ready to turn, spray the top tortilla with the cooking spray to help brown.

Cook until the quesadilla is golden brown on both sides and the cheese is melted, about 2-4 minutes per side.

Spread the pizza sauce over the top of the quesadilla followed by the mozzarella, pepperoni, and olives.

Bake in a preheated 400F oven until the cheese has melted, about 5-10 minutes.


1 tsp olive oil
3 tsp minced garlic
1 (14 oz) can tomato sauce
2 tsp dried oregano
S&P to taste

Heat the oil in a sauce pan.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, being careful not to let burn, about one minute.

Add everything else and simmer until it thickens, about 10-20 minutes.    

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Asian Lettuce Wraps

I've done similar Asian wraps, but using the rice paper wrappers.  Also, I've used different ingredients, but these are absolutely interchangeable.  I would certainly put this mixture in the rice wrappers and visa versa.

(For the rice paper rolls, I stuff them with green leaf lettuce, rice vermacelli, fresh mint, bean sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, chopped peanuts, green onions, charbroiled shrimp.)

You can also use a peanut sauce, plum sauce, sweet chili sauce, or a Vietnamese dipping sauce (many's one:   Bring to boil 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup of sugar.  Allow sugar to dissolve.  Let cool.  Add: 1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce, 1 1/2 Tbsp distilled vinegar, 1/2 Tbsp fresh lime juice, 1/2 tsp minced garlic) to top off the wrap.

For a quick and simple (and delicious) dinner, I served these with potstickers and red grapes.

ASIAN LETTUCE WRAPS (makes 10-12 wraps)

2 Tbsp EVOO
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 lb ground turkey breast
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1 (12 oz) bag of broccoli slaw
1 small can drained water chestnuts, chopped
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
about 12 iceberg or butter lettuce leaves

Place oil into a large skillet or other large pan over medium heat.  When hot, add onion and cook for 5 minutes to soften.  Add ground turkey, salt, pepper, and garlic salt.  Brown and crumble until cooked through.

When turkey is cooked, stir in broccoli slaw, water chestnuts, teriyaki sauce, and sesame oil.  Cook for another 10-15 minutes or until heated through.  Reduce heat to low until ready to serve.  Serve spoonfuls inside lettuce leaves  


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Andes Peppermint Crunch Cookies

I found these baking chips in the clearance section of the grocery store after Christmas.  i had no idea what I was going to do with them, and after a month, I finally decided to just use the recipe on the back of the package and they come out wonderfully!  I know you won't be able to get the chips until next fall, but I do think a very close substitute would be those little Hickory Farms mints (I've seen packages of them at Wal-Mart in the deli section at the case where they keep their better cheeses).  Plus, I think using these would make pretty little Easter cookies.

These provide a wonderful array of texture and moistness.  The coconut gives a wonderful chewiness, the pecans a contrasting crunch.  The directions say make either smaller (1 Tbsp) cookies or larger ones (2 Tbsp).  I used my little cookie scoop I bought at Bed, Bath, and Beyond which is about 1 1/2 Tbsp.  The scoop has a silicone bottom which you can kind of push the dough out, leaving an indentation to heap in some of the chopped up minutes.  I cooked this size for 18-20 minutes.

ANDES PEPPERMINT CRUNCH COOKIES (Makes about 30 3" or 60 1 1/2" cookies)

2 sticks (1/2 lb) unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed (I used light brown)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 AP flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sweetened grated coconut
1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips (the remainder will be used to top the cookies)

Preheat oven to 300F.  Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Beat in egg and vanilla extract.  On low speed add baking soda, salt, and then flour.  Mix completely.  Stir in oats, coconut, pecans, and baking chips.

Measure out 2 Tbsp for large or 1 Tbsp for small cookies.  Piece round balls on lightly greased cookie sheet (I used one pan lined with parchment paper and one lined with a Silpat) two inches apart.  Press lightly.  Sprinkle some of the remaining chips on top of each cookie.  Bake for 20 minutes for large cookies or 12-15 minutes for small cookies.  Do not over bake.  They get crunchy on the outside but remain soft inside.  Remove from the cookie sheet and let cool.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Kiss the Cook Baby Back Ribs

I've been experimenting with the Digital Pressure Cooker I bought a month or two ago.  I mainly cook whole chicken for the dogs once or twice a week, but wanted to try to start cooking for Jim and I.

I had a couple of racks of baby backs I had bought on sale and need to start cleaning out my freezer so I decided to try these.  I always simply smoke the ribs, but this is a recipe that takes just 15 minutes in the pressure cooker (not counting power-up time and pressure-down time), and then 15 minutes on the grill.  I couldn't believe the outcome!  They are fall-off-the-bone tender and the grilling gives it that nice crusty, grill-marked outcome.

The book which contains this recipe calls for cooking on "HIGH."  My PC doesn't have a high or low button, so I cooked it on the "Beef" button for 20 minutes, instead of the 15 minutes it calls for.  Also, mine is a 5-quart and easily held 1 rack of use 2 racks, I'm sure you would need to use at least a 6-quart cooker.  I served it with potato salad and baked beans, but cole slaw or corn-on-the-cob would be two other great choices.


1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1-2 racks baby back ribs, cut to fit into cooker (mine fit about 4 ribs across, then stacked)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 (18 oz) bottle bbq sauce (I used about 5-6 oz for one rack)

In a small bowl or ramekin, combine paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.  Rub the mixture even over entire surface of ribs.

Place rubbed ribs, chicken stock, and ketchup in the pressure cooker.  Securely lock the cooker's lid and set for 15 minutes on HIGH.

Let the pressure cooker's pressure release naturally for 15 minutes before performing a quick release to release any remaining pressure.

Grill cooked ribs using a preheated grill for 15 minutes, flipping once, and basting with barbecue sauce twice.

NOTE:  You can also prepare these in the oven after step 3.  Simply preheat oven to 375F.  Bake on an aluminum-lined sheet pan for 20-25 minutes.

Recipe Source:  Great Food Fast by Bob Warden 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hawaiian Haystacks

I ran across this recipe on Pinterest.  Apparently it is a throwback to either the 60's, 70's, or 80's, depending on whom you speak with.  Not that it ever hit our house in Oklahoma way back then.  But I guess it was a staple in many homes and there were as many variations as, well, there were homes.

From what I understand, haystacks were made with a gravy consisting of cream of chicken soup, milk, sour cream, or some variation.  There is only one thing I will use Cream of Anything Soup in (Tater Tot Hotdish, courtesy of Minnesota) so when I found this re-vamped recipe making a lucious creamy, garlic sauce.  So delicious you can eat it without the toppings.  It is simple and quick to make and packed with flavor.  I served this with The Best Broccoli Salad (see 10-10-12 posting).


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (or leftover cooked chicken, shredded or cubed)
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 onion (about 1/2 cup), finely chopped
3 cloves garlic (3 tsp), finely minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk (I used 1%)
1 cup chicken broth

Cooked rice

Topping suggestions:
sliced black olives
chopped tomatoes
shredded cheese
green onions
mandarin oranges
chow mein noodles

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add the onion and raw chicken (if using leftover cooked chicken, don't add it to the skillet now, you'll add it later).  Saute the onion and chicken, if using, until the onions are soft and translucent and the chicken is cooked through, about 5-6 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for about one more minute, stirring, until fragrant.

Sprinkle the flour over the onions and chicken and stir to combine.  Cook over medium heat for one minute, this helps get rid of the starchy, flour taste.  Slowly whisk in the milk and chicken broth.  Cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, and bring the sauce to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat.  Add the S&P.  If you are using leftover cooked chicken, add it now.  Continue simmering, stirring the sauce frequently, until the sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes.

Serve the chicken sauce over rice with your choice of toppings. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Taco Salad

I ran across these neat little pans at Wal-Mart the other day (for about $10) and I just love them.  You can use any type and size of tortillas you like: corn, flour, mixed grain, small, large.  I experimented yesterday using different tortillas I had in the freezer.  They all came out great and the salad with wonderful.  You could also use the bowls for chili, garden salads, even ice cream sundae bowls.

You simply line the pans with your tortilla (they come four to a box) and bake at 400F for around 5 minutes, depending on the size and just how crunchy you want only takes one or two attempts to get them how you like them.

I had some leftover shredded chicken (from that wonderful Rock Salt Roasted Chicken I posted a few days ago).  I mixed the chicken with some taco seasoning and salsa.  Of course you can do a traditional ground beef taco mix, or even fish or shrimp.  Then put whatever toppings you like on your salad.  Some suggestions:

Shredded lettuce
Chopped tomatoes
Sliced black olives
Chopped onions
Shredded cheese
Sour Cream
Guacamole or avocado slices
Pickled jalapeno slices 
Ranch dressing (or Ranch mixed with salsa) 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Miss Muffin

My Muffin...the Bestest Girl!!!!  And she do loves her pillows!!!!  Here she is buried in her pillows.  This is just the sweetest girl, a dog who could lull anyone into love.  She is my best buddy and I love her so much.   She is a healer, always making you feel better.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ham, Potato, and Leek Soup

Hub-a-da Hub-a-da Hub-a-da YUMMMMM!!!!!  Oh my, is this one delicious soup!  Again, looking for a recipe using some of my leftover ham and fresh dill, I did a search and ran across this incredible recipe.

Now the recipe calls for russet potatoes, but I'm a big fan of red potatoes so I substituted those.  Also, it calls for a choice of dill, chives, or parsley.  I implore you......if you decide to try this, use the DILL!!!!  I dream about this soup in my sleep.  It is absolutely lucious, creamy, and dreamy!  I'll list the recipe as found, but, again, I substituted the potatoes and chose the dill.

HAM, POTATO, and LEEK SOUP (Serves 6)

2 Tbsp butter
4 leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned thinly sliced
4 cups chicken broth
2 large russet potatoes, peeled (I left red potatoes unpeeled), cut into 1/2" pieces
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
2 cups diced ham
1/2 cup cream or half and half (optional).....I used half and half
Salt to taste
3 Tbsp chopped fresh dill, chives, or parsley

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add leeks, cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add broth, potatoes, and pepper, bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduced heat; cover and simmer 25 minutes or until vegetables are very tender.

Use an immersion blender to puree soup or transfer mixture (in 2-3 batches) to a food processor or blender; process until smooth.

Stir in diced ham and, if desired, cream.  Season to taste with salt.

Reheat before serving, top with dill. 

Recipe Source:

Friday, January 11, 2013

Farro with Pistachios and Herbs

I generally have some type of grain with most of our meals.  In this age of grain-consciousness, I try to use more complex carbs.  As I've mentioned before, my all-time favorite is farro.  I love the texture and it's so much fun to add all kinds of different ingredients to make a great side dish.  I halved this recipe when I made it the other night since there are just two of us, but I won't make that mistake again.   This is a great snack by itself and adds more fiber to your diet.

And who doesn't love pistachios?  This is a simple dish, really.  Just some onions, garlic, and parsley.  You could even add some craisins if you need a bit of sweetness.

FARRO with PISTACHIOS and HERBS (8-10 servings)

2 cups uncooked farro
4 cups water or chicken broth
1 tsp kosher salt (divided)
2 Tbsp EVOO (plus 1/2 tsp, divided)
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic (2 tsp)
4 oz (about 1 cup) salted, shelled pistachios, toasted (optional) and chopped
1/2 tsp coarsely ground pepper, divided
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Combine farro, water, and 3/4 tsp salt in a large heavy saucepan and bring to a boil.  Stir and reduce the heat to a simmer; cook, uncovered, until the farro is tender, 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile heat 2 Tbsp oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until translucent, 4-6 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

Combine pistachios, the remaining 1/2 tsp oil and 1/4 tsp pepper in a large bowl; toss to combine.

Drain the farro and add to the bowl along with the onion mixture nad parsley.  Season with the remaining 1/4 tsp S&P.  Toss to combine. 


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Jim and I went out last night and I had some mushroom soup with my dinner.  I love mushroom soup, any mushroom soup (ok, maybe not a condensed Cream of Mushroom soup).  Anyway, I just happened to have some mushrooms in the frig and the flavor from last night just lingered and I knew I had to have some more.

I've made mushroom soup before, probably never the same recipe.  But I also had some fresh dill on hand I wanted to use up so I did a search on and put in mushrooms and dill as ingredients and came up with this fantastic recipe.  I'm posting the recipe as I found it, but next time I will make two adjustments:  I'll probably cut the parsley down about half or put it in early so it cook down a bit, and slightly lessen the lemon juice, but just slightly.

If you are a mushroom soup fan, keep this recipe on hand when you have the ingredients in your frig.  It's a great choice.


4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups chopped onions
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp dried or 2 Tbsp fresh chopped dill
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
3 Tbsp AP flour
1 tsp salt
ground black pepper to taste
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup sour cream

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Saute the onions in the butter for 5 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 more minutes.  Stir in the dill, paprika, soy sauce, and broth.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

In a separate small bowl, whisk the milk and flour together.  Pour this into the soup and stir well to blend.  Cover and simmer for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Finally, stir in the salt, pepper, lemon juice, parsley, and sour cream.  Mix together and allow to heat through over low heat, about 3-5 minutes.  Do not boil.  Serve immediately. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Rock Salt Roast Chicken

I have never seen or tried any recipe like this.  And what a mistake!  You need some roasted chicken for dinner or for other recipes?   Look no further.  This chicken is amazing!!!!  I'm guessing this is akin to brining a chicken.  But the flavor, the moistness of this chicken is out of this world, either to eat as is, or to use the meat in another dish.

An added bonus....your home will smell incredible.  I don't know how this works or why, but if you need some good roasted chicken, you must try this.


1 whole chicken (3-5 long as you're doing it, I'd go larger)
one 4-pound box rock salt (also called ice cream salt.....found in the seasoning aisle of your grocery store, year-around, next to the kosher salt and canning salt)
1 lemon
3-4 sprigs of parsley
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced (I used minced)

Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a 9x13" pan with foil for easy cleanup (I had read some people used metal dishes versus Pyrex dishes because they heard Pyrex dishes could explode.  I used the glass dish with no problem) and pour the rock salt into the pan, evening it into a thick, smooth layer.  

Remove and discard anything (neck, gizzards, etc.) from the inside of the chicken, if included, and rinse the chicken inside and out, draining thoroughly.  Generously S&P the inside and outside of the chicken.

With a fork (or ice-pick), poke holes all over the lemon.  Put the lemon, parsley, and garlic into the cavity of the chicken.  Secure the chicken closed with a toothpick or two.  Place the chicken on the bed of salt.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Carefully flip the chicken over and bake for another 40-50 minutes until cooked through (the chicken should register 165F on an instant-read thermometer at the thickest part of the chicken breast).  

I start with the chicken breast down and finish with the breast up, but I don't think it really matters.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Healthified Ham and Potato Casserole

Needing a recipe to use up some leftover ham, I ran across this incredibly delicious recipe on-line.  "Healthified" is right.....almost 3/4 less fat and 1/2 few calories in this revamped recipe.  And honestly, oh so good!!!


4 cups cubed (1/2") unpeeled red potatoes (4 medium)
1 tsp olive or canola oil
1 cup chopped green bell pepper (1 medium)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 1/4 cups fat-free skim milk
2 Tbsp AP flour
1/4 cup reduced-fat or fat-free mayo
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese (4 oz)
2 cup cubed cooked ham

Place potatoes in a 2 quart saucepan; add enough water just to cover potatoes.  Heat to boiling.  Reduce heat to medium-low; cook uncovered 8 to 10 minutes or until tender.  Drain.

Heat oven to 350F.  In 10" nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add bell pepper and onion; cook 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix milk and flour with wire whisk until well-blended.  Stir into vegetables in skillet.  Heat to boiling.  Reduce heat; cook uncovered 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Stir in mayo, pepper, and cheese; stir until cheese is melted.

Place ham and potatoes in ungreased 2-quart casserole dish.  Pour milk mixture over ham mixture; stir to mix.  Bake uncovered 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and light golden brown on top.

Recipe Source:  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Roasted Rosemary Cashews

I love all kinds of nuts, there's not one I wouldn't eat.  And when any of them are spiced up, oh well, that just sends it over the top for me.  I have made and eaten countless kinds of spiced-up nuts and have never been disappointed.  This is terrific, especially this time of year since our rosemary thrives here year around, even with freezing temperatures.  

FYI, Jim and I tend to be hyper-sensitive to cayenne pepper and if a recipe calls for it, I generally use less than 1/4 of what is called for.  Except in two recipes:  Alton Brown's peanut brittle and this recipe.  It was definitely not too hot for us.  Make it as listed the first time and then adjust it to your taste when you make it again.


1 1/4 lb cashews   
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp cayene pepper
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp melted butter

Spread cashews on ungreased baking sheet and roast in 375F preheated oven for 8-10 minutes.  Combine remaining ingredients in large bowl.  Toss the warm nuts with the rosemary mixture until the nuts are completely coated.  Serve warm.

Recipe Source:  Ina Garten  

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Leftover Turkey and Dressing Casserole

I know this is a little late for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas, but I had frozen my leftover turkey breasts and dressing.  I still had some gravy and cranberry sauce in the frig I wanted to use up.  Doing a search on-line, I ran across this incredibly easy (4 ingredient) recipe which turned out to be surprisingly delicious.  I thought that the cranberry sauce would kind of melt into the dish, but it actually stays jelled.  So if you still have stuff in the freezer, here's a great way to use them.


4 cups prepared turkey dressing
2 cups cooked cut up or sliced turkey
1 3/4 to 2 cups prepared turkey gravy
1/3 cup jellied or whole cranberry sauce, cubed (I used about 1/2 can of sauce, and sliced it and placed it on top)

Butter or pan-spray bottom and sides of a 2-quart baking dish.  Arrange half of the stuffing in the bottom of dish.  Add half of the turkey and then half of the gravy.  Repeat layers.  Top with cranberry sauce.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Horseradish Cream

We love Brussels Sprouts around here.  I have tried different recipes, but nothing has ever proven better than simply boiled sprouts with a bit of butter.  Until now.  I love bacon and horseradish so why wouldn't I try this recipe?  It was absolutely delicious and I am so glad I now have an alternative to one of our favorite side dishes.


1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
4 strips crisp-cooked bacon, finely chopped
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 tsp prepared horseradish
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, add 1" of water and bring to a boil.  Put sprouts in the basket and steam until tender, about 6-8 minutes.

Mix bacon, sour cream, horseradish, S&P in a medium bowl.  Add the sprouts and toss to coat.  

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