Saturday, November 30, 2013

Shrimp Enchiladas with Green Sauce

How was your Thanksgiving?  Pretty quiet around here.  I've been feeling a bit poorly since Sunday and it seemed to come to a head on Thursday.  Luckily, it was just the two of us and I had a very easy crockpot turkey breast recipe and just added a few dishes. 

So are you turkied-out yet?  Talk about quick and easy, not to mention dee-lish, here's a great alternative for the turkey blues!  I just so happened to have everything on hand and this came together in no time.  I served it with some refried black beans and our favorite Spanish rice from Joy of Cooking (see 5-12-13 post).  I cut the recipe in half and make two 8x8 pans, each with about 5 enchiladas.  The second dish went into the freezer (along with the leftover rice and beans) so now I have a complete dinner waiting.


16 (6") corn tortillas
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp EVOO, divided
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 lbs uncooked small shrimp (I used 60-72s), peeled and deveined
2 pkg (10 oz each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups (8 oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
2 cans (10 oz each) green enchilada sauce
Fresh salsa, optional

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a skillet, heat 1/2 cup oil over medium-high heat.  In batches, fry tortillas 10 seconds on each side or until pliable (do not allow to crisp).  Drain on paper towels.  Cover with foil.  NOTE:  The tortillas I had were already pliable, so I was able to skip this step.  You can also microwave them for a few seconds in lieu of frying.

In a large skillet, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat.  Add tomatoes, onions, garlic, and cumin; cook and stir 3-4 minutes or until onions are tender.  Add shrimp; cook 3-4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink, stirring occasionally.  Stir in spinach; heat through.

Place 1/4 cup shrimp mixture off-center on each tortilla; top with 1 Tbsp cheese.  Roll up and place in a great 13x9 baking dish, seam side down.  Top with green enchilada sauce; sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake enchiladas, uncovered, 25-30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.

Recipe Source:  Taste of Home, December 2013, p. 64

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Smoky Corn Chowder

I've probably tasted and made as many corn chowder recipes as I have wild rice soup recipes.  Telling you that I do love my chowder.  This one was special to me because of adding the smoked paprika.  It's amazing how much flavor just a 1/2 tsp can add.  This is quick and easy and the ingredients are something I almost always have on hand.  A great dish for a cold, rainy day!


4-5 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 cup diced onions or leeks
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
16 oz package frozen corn
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2-4 green onions, white parts cut off and discarded and green parts thinly sliced

In a 4-5 quart saucepan, cook the chopped bacon over medium heat until golden and crisp.  Scoop into a paper-lined plate and discard all of the bacon grease except a very thin coating (1-2 tsp).

Add the onion and cook for 5-7 minutes until translucent.  Stir in the garlic, paprika, and red pepper and cook, stirring for 1-2 minutes.

Stir in the corn, broth, and milk.  Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Transfer half of the soup to a blender (very carefully, don't overfill the blender since hot liquids will expand while blending) and puree until mostly smooth.

Return the blended soup to the pot and add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Taste and add more if needed.

Serve warm topped with green onions and bacon.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Smoked Turkey and Swiss Salad

Please forgive my absense.  I planned to use my smoker this last weekend to make a couple of new dishes, but I had a smoker-malfunction!  A few things just didn't turn out so I missed a few recipes.  Luckily, a turkey breast I stuck in did come out and this first thing I used it in was this basic turkey/chicken salad.

I put this on a croissant, but honestly, I think this is better simply put on a bed of lettuce.  Outside of the dressing, there are only four ingredients in this salad and each one (in my opinion) should be distinct and I think the croissant added too much of a different taste.    I really couldn't taste the smokiness of the turkey or the flavor of the cheese.  But on it's own......much better!

I pared down the original recipe I found, so you may want to tweak it to your liking.  I really liked the cut of the turkey and the cheese (matchstick-style) instead of the traditional cube-cut.  It really did give it a unique presentation.  The dressing amount was more than I needed, but then I don't heavily dress my salad.

SMOKED TURKEY and SWISS SALAD (2-3 servings)

4 oz (1 cup) smoked turkey breast, cut into 1" x 1/4" strips
2 oz (1/3 cup) Swiss cheese, cut into 1" x 1/4" strips
1/2 cup red seedless grapes, cut in half, lengthwise
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp whole-grain mustard
shredded lettuce or lettuce leaves

Mix mayo, sour cream, mustard, milk, and S&P to taste.  Set aside.

Mix turkey, cheese, grapes, and almonds.  Toss with dressing.

Recipe Source:  adapted from

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

We lived in Minnesota for six years and during that time I ate and made numerous wild rice soups.  I love wild rice and its chewy texture.  I happened on this recipe some time ago and never got around to making it....what a shame.....I think it's my favorite.  And the greatest part of this recipe is that it is virtually guilt-free!  You use non-fat half-and-half and it is still incredibly rich! 

I will tell you, this recipe makes alot!  I wish I could say how many servings but I had a bit of an accident this morning.  I had left it on the porch last night to chill (it was in the 30's last night) and when I was bringing it in this morning, I slipped on a mat we have and dropped that pot!  Luckily it landed upright, but I still lost a lot when it dropped (Nellie cleaned it up for me, though!)  But I'm going to guess that it makes a good 10-12 servings.  But it is my understanding that this freezes well, so if you love wild rice soup like I do, make the entire recipe and freeze what you don't use for a cold, snowy day down the road.

With a nice crusty baguette or some artisan bread, this is a meal in itself.  It would also be a fantastic home for leftover turkey this weekend.

CREAMY CHICKEN and WILD RICE SOUP (10-12 servings?)

1/2 cup butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup carrots, sliced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed (or about 1/2 to 3/4 pound cooked chicken or turkey, cubed or shredded)
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
3/4 cup AP flour
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups cooked wild rice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup sliced or slivered almonds, optional
2 cups non-fat half-and-half (use normal half-and-half if you prefer, but you won't believe how delicious this is with the non-fat variety)

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Stir in the onion, celery, corn, uncooked chicken and carrots and saute for 5-7 minutes until vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through (if you are using cooked chicken, add it after this next step).  Add the mushrooms and saute for 3-4 more minutes.

Add flour and stir well.  Over medium heat, gradually pour in the chicken broth, stirring constantly.  Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce heat to low and let simmer, while stirring, for 5-6 minutes, until it has thickened slightly.

Add the cooked rice, salt, curry powder, mustard powder, parsley, and black pepper.  Allow all the ingredients to heat through and then pour in the half-and-half.  Let the soup gently simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.   The soup should not boil but should simmer over low heat so that it thickens slowly.  Garnish with almonds.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lindie and the Squirrel

Lindie is our resident yard-protector.  Out of four dogs, she's the only one we have trouble getting inside.  She loves her yard.  We don't get as many critters as others in the neighborhood but those that do dare to venture within the confines of Lindie's yard, do so at their peril.

It's hard to see in this photo, but at the base of the tree (to the right) is a little white dot.  That's a squirrel.  Lindie will sit on the deck for quite a while, and then very slowly take one step at a time, oftentimes with a paw up in the air until she dares quiety put it on the ground, ready for the next step.  She's very methodical and it's the funniest thing to watch.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dill Pickle Soup

This is not a joke.  Honest.  When I first spotted the recipe in the paper last month, I did a double-take.  I'd never heard of such a thing.  But it was just weird-sounding enough that I knew I would eventually make it.  Today I noticed that I just happened to have everything in the house that the recipe called for.  And hence this post.

And it's really quite good!  It's basically a creamy vegetable soup with fresh dill and some chopped pickles in it, along with a bit of the pickle juice.  This would be wonderful with a Rueben sandwich.

I'm posting the recipe as it was published, but I would make a few adjustments to suit my personal tastes.  First, I would like it thicker so I would reduce the amount of water to 1 to 1 1/2 cups (since I made the recipe as listed this time, I simply added some instant mashed potatoes to thicken it up).  Also, I like more fresh dill so I would increase the amount to at least 2 tablespoons.  But that was easy enough for me to correct by simply adding more fresh dill as a garnish.  Also, I think I would chop my pickles a bit smaller, and maybe even "peel" them (can you peel a pickle?)  The skin on the pickles I used were a bit chewy for my preference.  And I definitely like the sour cream for a bit more depth.

You can read the story of how this came about here:

DILL PICKLE SOUP (6-8 servings)

1 pound potatoes, any variety, about 2 medium/large
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 large white onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 container (they're just over 1 oz) Knorr concentrated homestyle veggie stock
3 cups water
3 chopped dill pickles (I used 5 spears)
1/2 jar or to taste pickle juice (1/4 to 1/2 cup)
1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
3/4 to 1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp fresh chives, chopped
Sour cream

Peel potatoes, chopped large, and cook until almost done.  Set aside.

Melt butter in pot and saute onion, celery, carrots, and garlic until tender, 5-10 minutes.  Add vegetable stock and water and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.  Add potatoes and cook for a few minutes.  Remove from heat.

Take about half of the vegetables from the soup and process almost to a puree in a food processor (or in a blender with a bit of the liquid).  Return to soup mixture.  Add pickles, fresh dill, and pickle juice and heat for about 3 minutes.  Turn heat off and add cream.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream and fresh chives.

Recipe Source:  Chattanooga Times Free Press, October 2, 2013, p. E4

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pomegranate and Fried Goat Cheese

Have you been bitten by the shredded Brussels sprouts recipe bugs that are floating out there in the internet and restaurant world?  Maybe it's just me, but I don't ever remember seeing shredded Brussels sprouts being used in so many different ways.

Honestly, I'm still a dyed-in-the-wool cooked Brussels sprouts aficionado.  But I keep trying these different dishes hoping one of them will make me a convert.  I think I have come as close as possible with this recipe.

Three basic ingredients:  shredded sprouts in a dijon vinagrette mixed with the sweet/crunchy pomegranate seeds and the wonderfully complex creaminess that is goat cheese.  Gorgeous presentation.....wouldn't this make a lovely Christmas or Christmas Eve salad?  And quite easy to make it days ahead of time, sauteeing the cheese at the last minute.


8 oz Brussels sprouts
1/2 cup pomegrante arils (seeds)
4 oz goat cheese log
1/2 cup flour
1 egg, beaten well
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs (I used Panko)
olive oil

For the dressing:
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Cut 6-8 discs from the goat cheese log.  Set up a breading station (one bowl with flour, one with the beaten egg, and one with the breadcrumbs).  Season the flour with S&P.  Bread the goat cheese: first in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.  Set the breaded goat cheese rounds on a plate, and put them in the frig for about 20 minutes.

While the goat cheese chills, start shredding your Brussels sprouts.  Remove any bruised or dirty outer leaves from the sprouts, then cut them in half from root to top.  Lay them flat side down, and cut them into very thin pieces, working down to the root (I understand shredded sprouts are starting to make their way into produce sections next to the bagged lettuces).

Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing: taste, and add more honey or vinegar to your preference.  Pour the dressing over the shredded sprouts, and toss to coat.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat, and add enough oil to cover the bottom with about an 1/8" of oil.  Once the oil is hot (not too hot or it will make the cheese too brown), add your chilled goat cheese rounds.  Fry for about 2 minutes on the first side, until they're golden brown.  Flip, and cook for another minutes or so, until they're golden brown on the second side. Remove them to a paper towel-line plate.

Mix the sprouts and pomegranate arils, plate and then top with the fried goat cheese.

Recipe Source:

Monday, November 18, 2013

Smothered Chicken with Mushroom Gravy

Looking for a quick, easy, and absolutely luscious comfort-food for dinner?  If you are a mushroom lover like me, you are gonna love this.  Honestly, I could have made a meal of the gravy alone!

However, I must tell you there is a law that this is served with mashed potatoes.  Really. It just wouldn't be the same with them.  


1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp EVOO
3 Tbsp butter
1 shallot, minced (or 1/4 cup finely minced onion)
8 oz white button or baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp minced garlic
3 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup milk, half-and-half, or cream
S&P to taste
Prepared mashed potatoes

Season both sides of the chicken with S&P.  Heat the olive oil in a 12" nonstick skillet over medium heat until rippling and hot.  Add the chicken and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, until golden and cooked through.  Remove to a boil, cover with aluminum foil to keep warm (I placed it in a 170F degreen oven).

Add the butter to the pan and melt over medium heat.  Stir in the shallot, mushrooms, salt, thyme, and garlic.  Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are tender and golden and the liquid has released and most of it has evaporated, 8-10 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over the mushroom/onion mixture and stir while the mixture cooks for 1-2 minutes.  Slowly whisk in the broth, adding just a bit at a time and whisking until thick then adding a bit more (this will help the flour to absorb into the liquid and not clump on the mushrooms).  Once all of the broth has been added and the sauce is smooth, stir in the milk, and simmer the mixture for 5-7 minutes until it is thick and bubbly.  Add S&P to taste.  Serve immediately over the reserved chicken and mashed potatoes.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Banana Black Walnut Cake

Here's a twist on a traditional banana bread.  A bundt/tube pan cake with black walnuts and a chocolate glaze.  Black walnuts are much more assertive than English walnuts, so a little goes a long way.  While you could certainly substitute the easier-found English walnuts (always in the baking aisle of your grocery store), black walnuts (found in bulk sections of whole food stores) impart a vastly difference flavor.  And I think the chocolate glaze is essential. 

So you've got a over-ripened banana looking for a home other than the garbage?  Problem solved!


2 cups AP flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher/sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup chopped black walnuts, plus additional for topping

Chocolate Glaze:
1 1/2 cups powder sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3+ Tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F.  Generously butter and flour a 10" tube or Bundt pan (I used Pam baking spray).

To prepare cake, combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

Combine butter and sugar; beat with an electric mixer for about 4 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in banana and vanilla.  Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixed until just combined.  Fold in walnuts.

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top.  Bake 45-50 minutes, testing until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool in pan on wire rack 10-15 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Let cool completely.

To prepare glaze, whisk together powdered sugar and cocoa powder.  Slowly stir in milk and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth.  Add a bit more milk to thin glaze, if needed.  Spread over cake.  Sprinkle with any leftover walnuts.

Recipe Source:  Relish Magazine, November 2013, p. 14

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hot Pepper Cheese Ball

Getting ready for holiday or football appetizers?  A cheese ball is one of the most basic appetizers you can serve.  And you can customize it to suit you tastes.  This recipe came from my favorite magazine, All Recipes.  The reason it is my favorite is that they give variations on the basic recipe and for those of us who have trouble thinking outside of the box, this can be very helpful!

This time I made this cheese ball straight up.  But one of the suggestions I'll try next time is to add a teaspoon of prepared horseradish for an extra bite.  This not a spicy hot cheese ball, you are simply adding some pepper jack cheese to the mix.  Try substituting more pepper jack if you like it spicier.  Use regular or reduced-fat cream cheese and cheeses.  Use walnuts, pistachios, or almonds instead of pecans, or even toasted sesame seeds.  Add hot sauce, or cayenne...........An added plus, you can make this up to a week ahead of time...simply wrap in plastic wrap until ready to serve.  Let set at room temp for about an hour for easier dipping.


1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp mayo
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley

In a large bowl, stir together the cream cheese, onion and garlic powders, mayo, and Worcestershire.  Add the 3 cups of shredded cheeses.  Shape mixture into a bowl, then wrap in plastic wrap and let chill one hour.

Mix nuts and parsley.  Roll ball in mixture. 

Recipe Source:  All Recipes Magazine, Dec/Jan 2014, p. 63

Friday, November 15, 2013


So sorry for the absence, but we've been dealing with a very scary Senior Dog problem.  Last Friday I woke up to find my Bestest Buddy, Muffin, unable to stand steady and staggering while she walked.  I didn't know if she was having a seizure or a stroke.  It was 5:30 a.m.  At 7:30, I called the vet and was told to bring her in immediately.

As soon as our veterinarian walked into the room, he said it was neither and he was unusually calm.  Immediately he diagnosed her with  "Old Dog Vestibular Disease."  It's kind of an equilibrium/inner ear problem.  Nothing but time and 3-5 days of quiet confinement would begin to help her.  Symptoms are:

- A head tilt
- They are unsteady on their feet and may fall over (especially on slick floors and/or when shaking their heads)
- They circle in one direction or even roll across the floor
- Their eyes flick back and forth, up and down, or rotate in a circle
- An unwillingness to eat due to nausea
- Vomiting

Muffin is very slow in recovering and Dr. Dickinson believes she may always have her head tilt.  My mission right now is to get some sustenance into her as she has had absolutely no appetite.  She is getting stronger and has started to eat a bit (baby food and rice!).

So for those of you with senior fur-babies, should something like this happen to you, have heart.  This is a fairly common health problem with seniors and it is not life-threatening, just scary for Mom and Dad.

I have a stack of recipes I'm looking forward to getting back to, so thank you for your patience and please check back in a day or two.  In the meantime, my priority is my buddy and her sisters.  This is, afterall, all about The Fulton Girls.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Shrimp Bisque

OK, I have to admit.  I did post this once before, about a year ago.  But it is absolutely one of my favorite soups that I make.  There is an incredible depth of flavor thanks in part to the stock, sherry, and cognac.

Please don't let the list of ingredients put you off.  Have everything ready and this comes together in a snap. 

FYI.....I always keep my shrimp shells and just throw them in a ziplock bag until I have enough to make a batch of shrimp stock.  I put them in a stockpot along with some diced onions, carrots, celery, and garlic, some S&P and a bouquet garni (if I have it on hand), bring to a boil, and let it simmer for an hour or so.  Then I drain it through a cheesecloth and put two cups of stock in a freezer bag and freeze it so I always have some on hand.  This recipe provides instructions on making a small batch with the shrimp shells you have.

SHRIMP BISQUE (4 servings)

1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined, reserve shells
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 cups stock (shrimp or chicken....I strongly recommend shrimp)
2 cups water
1 (15 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, juice saved
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 (juiced)
Chopped parsley or chives for garnish, optional
Bread bowls, 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.  Serve in a bread bowl, if desired.  Garnish with chopped parsley or chives.

Recipe Source:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Chicken (or Shrimp or Pork) Stir Fry

A stir fry is a wonderful way to use protein and vegetables that are looking for a new home.  Use what you have or what you like in this wonderful sauce and serve it over rice (although it's pretty darn tasty on top of mashed potatoes, too).  Here's a great starter recipe, adjust it as you like.  I served it with potstickers on the side.

CHICKEN STIR FRY (4 servings)

Marinate 3/4 to 1 1/2 pounds of chicken or pork (cut into strips about 1 1/2" x 1/2") or shrimp (shelled and deveined) in:

1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp white wine
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

for half an hour.  Heat skillet on high with 2Tbsp peanut or grapeseed oil.  When hot, add:

1 cup carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 cup celery, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup water chestnuts, sliced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 Tbsp fresh garlic, minced
1 cup onion, sliced
1 cup peppers (red, green, yellow, orange...whatever you have on hand)

Saute until crisp tender.  Add the chicken, pork, or shrimp.  Stir to start cooking (shrimp will obviously cook much quicker than the chicken or pork).  Add:

2/3 cup chicken broth.


1 Tbsp hoison sauce
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 to 1/2 red pepper flakes

Serve over rice.  Garnish with sliced green onions and cashews.

Recipe Source:  adapted from several "Joy of Cooking" recipes

Monday, November 11, 2013

Green Bean Casserole (Make Ahead)

I may be one of the few remaining country in this good old USA who can say this, but I have never eaten or prepared a green bean casserole in my life.  It's true.  And what makes even weirder is that I grew up in Oklahoma in the 60's....the mecca of jello salads and all things made with canned vegetables and cream-of-something soups.  How both my mom and dad's family escaped this national holiday staple is beyond me.

And as I grew up and began to cook on my own, learning about whole, non-processed foods (and moved out of Oklahoma), I became a bit of a snob about such prosaic dishes.  And then I ran across this recipe a few weeks ago which piqued my interests for two reasons:  one) it was one using fresh green beans and it's own white sauce and two) it's one you can make ahead and freeze, saving valuable prep time during Thanksgiving or Christmas.

The results were amazing!  If that original recipe is anything close to this one, I can understand why this dish has been around for decades.  But this one has to be far-and-away better.  The sauce is so good I'd like to make a soup out of it!  And I can't imagine anything better than using fresh green beans (for some reason, the green beans I bought last week were better than the ones I got this summer).

So if you are a Green Bean Casserole afficionado, I urge you to try this, especially if you are planning a big get-together and need to have some dishes prepared ahead of time.  FYI:  You can either cut this recipe in half and make in an 8x8 dish, keep the recipe as is and bake/freeze two  8x8 dishes, or make in the 13x9 dish as instructed.  If you want to try it ahead of time and cook one now, freeze one for later, cut the cooking time from 80 minutes to about 45-50 minutes since it's not frozen, and then continue with the rest of the instructions.  Also, I used Panko breadcrumbs in place of the white bread breadcrumbs.

GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE (10-12 servings)

2 slices high-quality white sandwich bread, torn into pieces (or Panko breadcrumbs)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups canned fried onions

3 Tbsp unsalted butter
8-10 oz white mushrooms, sliced thin (I halved the recipe, but did not half the mushrooms...I do love me mushrooms)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
6 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried thyme, or more to taste
1/4 cup unbleached AP flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
1/4 cup cornstarch
OPTIONAL (but highly recommended): 1/2 cup slivered almonds or 1/2 cup chopped water chestnuts

For the topping:
Pulse the bread, butter, and salt in a food processor until coarsely ground, about 10 pulses.  Combine the bread mixture (or plain Panko) and onions in a bowl, transfer to a large zip-lock freezer bag, and freeze for up to 2 months.

For the casserole:
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms, S&P and cook until the mushrooms release their liquid, about 5 minutes.  Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until liquid has evaporated, 2-5 minutes. 

Add the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the flour and cook until golden, about 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in the wine, broth, and cream and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes. Add almonds or water chestnuts if using.

Toss the green beans with the cornstarch in a large bowl and transfer to a 13x9" baking dish.  Pour the warm mushroom mixture evenly over the beans (do not mix).  Let cool completely, cover with plastic wrap, cover with foil, and freeze for up to 2 months.

To cook and serve:
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400F.  Remove the casserole from the freezer and take away the plastic from the baking dish and replace the foil.  Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the beans are tender, about 80 minutes, stirring the beans thoroughly and adding almonds or water chestnuts after about 50 minutes (adjust times if cooking non-frozen dish).  Remove the foil and spread the topping mixture over the beans.  Bake until golden brown, about 8 minutes.  Serve.

Recipe Source:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Maple Mustard Brussels Sprouts

I love Brussels sprouts and have them around pretty much all the time.  I really like them simply boiled and served with salt and butter, especially as a snack.  Really.  Pass on the chips and hand me the sprouts!

But I haven't found a lot of different recipes that I like as much as the plain and simple.  This is the closest.  It has a touch of sweetness with the maple syrup and that wonderful "mustardy-ness" to it.  I added some extra mustard seeds because that add a bit of crunch.  Plus, it simply turns into a beautiful side dish.


1 pound Brussels sprouts, stems and outer leaves removed
1 generous Tbsp whole grain mustard
1/2-1 tsp mustard seeds
1 Tbsp real maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
1 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 375F and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Halve or quarter the sprouts, depending on how large they are.

In a mixing bowl, toss the sprouts with the oil, mustard, syrup, vinegar, salt, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes until everything is evenly coated.

Spread the sprouts out on the baking sheet, and roast until lightly golden brown (15-20 minutes, depending on how big they are).  Watch them carefully as they burn pretty quickly.  Serve warm.

Recipe Source:

Friday, November 8, 2013

Red Velvet Pie

Do you like Red Velvet Cake?  Then you should try this pie (that's piiiiie here in the South!)  It tastes just like it's namesake.

There are four separate recipes here, but don't let that scare you.  You can use a refrigerated pie crust if you prefer for the crust and the pecans are an optional garnish.  But a note on the pie ingredients......this recipe calls for a total of 4 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream, whole buttermilk, and regular cream cheese.  In all good consciousness, I just couldn't make something that decadant.  While the pie might have been a tad fluffier, that taste with substitutions didn't suffer at all.  If you're having guests and it's a one time indulgence, I don't think there would be much harm in keeping the recipe as is.   Do as you like, but you'll be happy either way.

SIMPLY PIECRUST (makes one 9" piecrust)

1 1/4 cups AP flour
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
1/4 tsp table salt
4-5 Tbsp ice water

Combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl with a pastry blender until mixture resembles small peas.  Sprinkle ice water, 1 Tbsp at a time, over surface of mixture in bowl; stir with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened.  Shape into a ball; cover and chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425F.  Roll dough into a 13" circle on a lightly floured surface.  Fit into a 9" pie plate; fold edges under, and crimp.

Line pastry with aluminum foil, and fill with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake at 425F for 15 minutes.  Remove weights and foil; bake 5-10 minutes more or until golden brown.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

NOTE:  If using refrigerated pie dough, skip the first two steps and just bake as directed in the third paragraph.

RED VELVET PIE (serves 8-10)

3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups whipping cream or half-and-half
1 cup whole (or nonfat) buttermilk
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 (1 oz) bottle red liquid food coloring
2 tsp vanilla extract
Whipped Cream Cheese Topping, recipe follows
Glazed Pecans, recipe follows

Prepare Simply Piecrust as directed (shown above), baking in a 9" pie plate.

Meanwhile, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and cocoa in a medium saucepan.  Whisk in cream, buttermilk, and eggs.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly (if you leave and come back to find a layer or burnt filling on the bottom, pour remaining mixture into another saucepan....but don't stop whisking!)  Boil, whisking constantly, 1 minute or until thickened.  Remove from heat; stir in food coloring and vanilla.

Pour mixture into prepare crust, and cool 1 hour.  Cover and chill until set, at least 3 hours.

Spoon Whipped Cream Cheese Topping over filling, and sprinkle with Glazed Pecans.


1 (8 oz) package regular or reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp table salt
2 1/2 cups heavy cream

Beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer, using whisk attachment, until smooth and creamy.  Gradually add cream, beating at medium speed until stiff peaks form.

GLAZED PECANS (makes 2 cups)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a jelly-roll pan with parchment paper;  coat parchment paper with cooking spray.  Stir together 1/4 cup dark corn syrup and 2 Tbsp sugar.  Add 2 cups  pecan halves; stir until pecans are coated.  Spread pecans in a single layer in prepared pan.  Bake at 350F for 15 minutes or until glaze bubbles slowly and thickens, stirring every 3 minutes. 

Transfer pan to a wire rack.  Spread pecans in a single layer, separating individual pecans; cool completely (about 30 mintues).  Cooled pecans should be crisp; if not, bake 5 more minutes.

Recipe Source:  "The Southern Pie Book" by Jan Moon (Southern Living)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Jalapeno Popper Orzo Mac-n-Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is probably in just about everyone's Top Five favorite comfort foods.  And there are so many wonderful variations.  This is one I hadn't thought of and I don't know why.  I love the flavor of jalapenos and by cooking them (sans seeds) it lessens the heat.

This original recipe does call for using peppers with seeds, but depending on your sensitivity, you can almost completely eliminate the heat by omitting the seeds and/or using few peppers.  

And the orzo is a nice change from a elbow/corkscrew/penne-type of pasta.  It holds the creamy sauce quite well.  The directions are to make and serve this all at once, but I made it earlier in the day and then baked it (350F about 30 minutes) to heat it through and until the bread crumbs were golden.


Kosher salt
1 pound orzo
1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter
6 jalapeno peppers, 4 seeded and finely chopped, 2 sliced with seeds
4 tsp minced garlic
1 onion, finely chopped
3 Tbsp AP flour
2 1/2 cups milk
Black pepper
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar
4 oz cream cheese
2 cups panko bread crumbs
2 Fresno chili peppers, sliced

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt the water and cook the orzo until al dente, about 6 minutes, drain.

Meanwhile, heat 4 Tbsp butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the chopped jalapenos, the garlic, and onions and cook until the jalapenos and onions are soft, 5 minutes.  Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add the milk and stir until the sauce thickens.  Season with S&P.  Add the cheddar and cream cheese and stir until melted.

Combine the orzo with the sauce and transfer to a casserole dish.

Melt the remaining 4 Tbsp butter and toss with the panko to coat.  Sprinkle over the casserole and top with the sliced jalapenos and Fresno chilies.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Teriyaki Salmon with Sriracha Cream

I now officially have found my favorite sauce for salmon.  And I am shocked because I never, ever would have thought I'd even try Sriracha again.

I know for many people Sriracha is a staple, but for me it's just way too spicy.  So, again, I'm shocked that I even looked twice at the recipe but I'm so glad I did.

The sauce is so simple....three ingredients: mayo, Sriracha, and sweetened condensed milk.  SCM....really?!!!  But it, in such a small amount, really tames the hot sauce and allows it's flavor, not heat, to come through.  Of course if you decide to try it, start out with just a few drops and keep adding until you reach the desired heat-level (I probably used less than a quarter of what is called for).

As far as the salmon and teriyaki, you can either use the teriyaki recipe below or just marinade the salmon in your own.  By using your own, you can have about a 5 minute prep time for this incredible entree, including the sauce.  You could serve this over rice and a side of asparagus would be nice.  Just try the salmon with this sauce!!!


For the teriyaki sauce:
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp honey

For the Sriracha Cream:
1/2 cup mayo
2-3 Tbsp Sriracha, or to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp sweetened condensed milk

2 (4-6 oz) salmon filets, skin removed
chopped green onions or chives for garnish, optional

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, Sriracha, and sweetened condensed milk.  Set aside.

For the teriyaki sauce, whisk together cornstarch and 1/4 cup water in a small bowl and set aside.  In a small saucepan, combine soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic powder, honey, and 1 cup of water.  Bring to a simmer, and then stir in cornstarch mixture.  Let simmer until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temp.

Place salmon filets in a baking dish or ziplock bag and cover with the cooled teriyaki.  Let marinate at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 400F, and bake until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 20 minutes.  Serve over rice (if desired) with a spoonful of Sriracha cream sauce.

Recipe Source:

Monday, November 4, 2013

Muffin and Nellie

You'd have to know these two to understand why this is such an odd photo.  Muffin (our senior, on the right) doesn't care much for Nellie.  But I have caught them napping a few times, with Nellie snuggled up to Muffin with her head on Muffin.  And they'll sleep for a few hours.

Muffin is definitely aging (her litter-mate/sister died a year ago) and I like to think that Nellie is just giving Muffin a snuggle that she needs.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Abuelo's Chicken Zucchini

While searching last week for the wonderful Tomatillo and Pineapple Salsa Verde recipe from Abuelo's, I ran across this copycat recipe for an entree they make.  Now I've not had this dish in the restaurant, but I've never been disappointed in a meal there.  So I figured this would be something I'd like.

It is also something that is so easily adapted to your tastes.  I am going to guess that this recipe was made to serve six (it didn't specifically state) so I scaled it down for us using a 9 oz chicken breast which I cut in half.  I also decreased the seasoning (I used Nunu's Cajun Seasoning....see in the sauce, and used the lighter version of whole milk intead of the half-and-half.  The recipe I found used a lot more sauce, I made less so it was swimming in it (not that that's a bad thing).   It also calls the sauce "Garlic Cream" but doesn't mention garlic in the list of ingredients, so I just put some in to suit my tastes.  I would use the recipe as simply a guideline.  I served it with a whole-grain rice blend and some refried black beans with melted cheese.


1/4 cup butter
3 whole chicken breasts, halved
minced garlic to taste
3 cups zucchini, sliced 1/8" thicken
1/2 cup diced green onions

Garlic Cream:
2 Tbsp flour
1 to 1 1/2 tsp Creole or Cajun seasoning, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cup half-and-half or whole milk
3-4 drops hot sauce
1/2 tsp salt, to taste

In skillet, melt 1/4 cup butter, add chicken breasts and garlic.  Cook, turning once, until chicken is browned and fork tender.  Add zucchini and onions.  Continue cooking, stirring until zucchini is crisp-tender.

Garlic Cream:
Add the flour to the chicken, stirring constantly.  Once all the flour is blended in, gradually stir in the milk, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  Once all of the milk has been added, continue to stir and cook over low heat until the sauce thickens; remove from heat and stir in the hot sauce, seasoning, S&P. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Candy Corn Quesadilla

What a fun Halloween dinner!  Albeit a day late, but a great idea for next year.  And mine are a wee bit messy as I was hurrying to get them on the table while still hot.  I admit, I'm not a food stylist!

However, not are these only cute and fun, they're dee-licious!  A great combo of salsa, BBQ sauce, and cumin really make a simple quesadilla so much better.  I had to make myself stop eating more, but I'm glad I did as there are leftovers for lunch today.

I served this with a simple green salad and used a cookie cutter to cut out a witch from a piece to cheese.  A fun touch you could use for any holiday.

CANDY CORN QUESADILLA (makes 2 dozen wedges)

1 rotisserie chciekn, shredded
1 jar (16 oz) salsa
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup butter, melted
8 (10") flour tortillas
1 jar (15 1/2 oz) salsa con queso dip, warmed
4 cups (16 oz) shredded Mexican cheese blend
2 1/2 cups crushed nacho-flavored tortilla chips
1/2 cup sour cream

In a Dutch oven, combine the first five ingredients, heat through, stirring occasionally.  Brush butter over one side of each tortilla.

Place one tortilla in a large skillet buttered-side down.  Spread with 1 cup chicken mixture; top with another tortilla, buttered-side up.  Cook over medium heat 1-2 minutes or until bottom is lightly browned.  Turn quesadilla.

Spread 1/2 cup queso dip over quesadilla; carefully sprinkle cheese along the outer edge.  Cook, covered, 1-2 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt.

Remove to a cutting board.  Sprinkle crushed chips over queso dip.  Cut quesadilla into six wedges.  Place a small dollop of sour cream at the point of each wedge.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Recipe Source:  Taste of Home, Sep/Oct 2013, p. 56

Friday, November 1, 2013

Lasagna Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Here's an incredible lo-carb entree that will fill you up!  All I can say is "MAKE EXTRA."  This makes for one wonderful leftover dish.

And if it can't get any better, it is so versatile.  Use any kind of meat, if any at all.  Make the red sauce as listed or use your own jarred pasta sauce you have of hand. 

It is filling, delicious, and will absolutely take care of any of those carb-cravings that you have.


For the roasted spaghetti squash:
2 small spaghetti squash, cut in half and seeded
1 Tbsp oil
S&P to taste

For the Lasagna Meat Sauce:
1 pound ground turkey, lean beef, chicken, or lamb
1 Tbsp oil
1 onion, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp tomato paste (optional)
1 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp paprika
1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
S&P to taste
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped

For the Lasagna Stuffed Spaghetti Squash:
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese or ricotta
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 cup partially skim mozzarella, shredded

Brush the inner flesh of the spaghetti squash with oil, season with S&P and roast, skin side up, in a preheated 400F oven until tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the meat, about 8-10 minutes, and set aside.  Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat, add the onion and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and fennel and cook until fragrant, about a minute.  Add the meat, tomato paste, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, paprika, Balsamic vinegar, S&P, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, remove from heat.

Fluff up some of the inside of each spaghetti squash half, divide the mixture of the cottage cheese (or ricotta) and basil between them followed by the sauce and the cheese.

Broil in the oven until the cheese has melted and turned a light golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.

Recipe Source: