Friday, January 31, 2014

Vegetable-Stuffed Mushrooms

I love mushrooms.  Used in a recipe.  Sauteed. Raw. Stuffed.  Makes me no difference.

My favorite stuffed mushrooms are generally stuffed with either seafood or Italian sausage.  But every once in a while I like a creamy vegetable-based 'room.  This recipe came from a restaurant I worked at in Minnesota and was one of their most ordered appetizers.


12 large button mushrooms or 4 portabella mushrooms
1 Tbsp EVOO
2 tsp minced garlic
3 Tbsp chopped green onions
8 oz regular or light cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp red wine
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
3/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp pepper
2 dashes hot sauce

Remove stems from mushrooms.  Finely chop stems.  Heat olive oil in medium pan over medium heat.  Stir in mushroom stems, garlic, and green onions.   Cook and stir until soft.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool until easily handled.

In a medium bowl, mix together chopped mushroom mixture, cream cheese, wine, Italian seasoning, Parmesan, cheddar, black pepper, and hot sauce.

Stuff mushroom caps with mixture and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

NOTE:  I spray the outside of the mushrooms with olive oil cooking spray to help keep them moist and to cook better.

Also, you can make the filling ahead (it will keep for a good week) and just fill one or two mushrooms a day for a snack or a side dish.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Best Broccoli Salad

This is my favorite broccoli salad.  It's wonderful right off the bat, and just as good a few days later.  Really, with cheese, bacon, onions, and a few other optional ingredients, you just can't go wrong.  Even if you're not a broccoli lover.


3/4 cup light or regular mayo
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 pounds fresh broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces (including the trimmed stalk...the best part)
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1-2 small shallot or 1/2 small red onion, finely diced (about 1/4 cup)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup raisins or Craisins, optional
ramen noodles, crumbled, optional

In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the salad ingredients together.  Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture and toss to coat all the ingredients with the sauce.  Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.

Right before serving, give the salad another good toss to recombine any dressing that may have settled at the bottom.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Food Find: FISCHER & WIESER Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce

No recipe today, just a great and easy marinade for meat and fish.  My friend, Donna, sent this to me in my (incredible) Christmas package.  She flies internationally with American Airlines and sends me neat stuff from all over the world, but this stuff comes from Costco.  I used it on both salmon and chicken and it is fantastic.  You can really taste the raspberry and it is full of chipotle richness with just a tad bit of heat (oftentimes chipotle marinades are just way too spicy for us).

So if you are near a Costco, this is definitely worth a try.  You can also do a search for Fischer and Wieser Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce and find several places where you can buy it on-line.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Dilly Cabbage Potatoes

This is probably my favorite stuffed baked potato.  It's different.  Not the traditional cheeese, bacon, and green onion variety.  It's a mixture of potatoes, onion, cabbage and reminiscent of the Irish dish colcannon.  And some dried dillseed which sends this over the top.


4 large baking potatoes, about 1/2 pound each
3 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp dried dillseed
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2-4 Tbsp milk
sour cream, optional
fresh dill or chives, chopped, for garnish, optional

Scrub potatoes.  Pat dry.  Prick skins with a fork.  Bake in a 425F oven for 40-60 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan cook cabbage and onion in hot oil for 5 minutes.  Add water, soy sauce, and dillseed; bring to boiling.  Simmer, covered, about 10 minutes.  Cut a thin lengthwise slice from the top of each potato.  Using a spoon, gently scoop out pulp leaving a 1/4" thick shell.

In a medium bowl, mash potato pulp; stir in butter, lemon juice, S&P.  Stir in cabbage mixture.  Add milk to desired consistency.  Spoon mixture into shells.  Place potatoes in a shallow baking dish.  Bake, uncovered, in a 425F oven for 15 minutes or until heated throughout.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

This is just about as basic a coffee cake as you will ever find.  It is so simple and always so moist and flavorful.  My mother's friend, Darlene Rook, shared this with our family many years ago and we all asked for her recipe.

There is a glaze that goes over the top, but since this cake is being transported, I photographed it with the glaze on the side.  The top photo is what the cake looks like turned upside down out of the bundt pan, the bottom picture is that it looks like coming out of the oven.

I have lightened up the original version on occasion by substituting 4 oz of applesauce and 1/4 cup of oil for the original 3/4 cup of oil.  I have also substituted Egg Beaters for the four eggs and it still came out as moist and flavorful as using the full-fat version.


1 box (18.25 oz) yellow cake mix
1 small box (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding
3/4 cup vegetable oil (or 4 oz applesauce and 1/4 cup oil)
3/4 cup water
4 eggs (or 1 cup egg substitute)
1 Tbsp butter extract
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2-3/4 cup pecan pieces

Cinnamon Sugar:
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp milk
1 tsp butter extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine cake mix and pudding in a large mixer bowl.  Add oil and water and mix well.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add butter and vanilla extracts.  Beat 6-8 minutes on high speed.

In a greased and flour bundt pan (cooking spray made for baking works great), sprinkle some of the cinnamon sugar, then 1/3 of the batter and 1/3 of the nuts.  Repeat two more times to make 3 layers.

Bake at 350F for about 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  (NOTE:  The cake will rise a bit over the top of the pan, so make sure there isn't a rack directly on top of the pan.)  Remove from oven and let sit on a baking rack for about 10 minutes.  Remove cake from pan. 

While still warm, drizzle or spread with glaze.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Food Tip: Separating Eggs

I have to admit:  separating eggs is not a problem for me.  But a friend (thank you, Sharon!) forwarded this really neat tip to separate eggs, especially if you need to separate more than one or two.  Take a look:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jalapeno Ranch Dressing

A local (Tennessee/Florida) chain restaurant, Big River Grill, has a wondeful Jalapeno Ranch Salad Dressing.  I have searched for the recipe and have yet to find one that matches their fantastic dressing, but this is, nevertheless, a great flavored dip or dressing.  And with the Stupid Bowl coming up I thought it would make a great dip for your wings or other mandatory treats for the Big Game.

For those of you sensitive to a lot of heat, don't worry.  You'll only get the flavor of the jalapeno, not the heat (unless you keep the seeds).  And I added the dried onion for my own personal preference.

JALAPENO RANCH DRESSING (makes about 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup buttermik
1/4 cup mayo
1 small jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 lime, juice
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp dried chopped onion, optional
S&P to taste

Place everything in a food processor and puree.

Recipe Source:

Monday, January 20, 2014

Smoky Shrimp and Grits

I do loves me shrimp and grits, being a good Southern girl and all!  If if they're on the menu, chances are I'm going to order them.  I have a traditional recipe which I love (see July 19, 2012 post) which includes Italian sausage, ham, black-eyed peas, green onions, and tomatoes.  This is a much simpler version but tasty nonetheless.

The recipe I found called for hot paprika, but I thought smoked paprika would be a better choice for me.  It was wonderful.  The cheese grits are simple with some chopped spinach added to it (and I sprinkled some of the smoked paprika in also).  I served it with that fantastic spinach salad I posted yesterday.

SMOKY SHRIMP and GRITS (serves 4)

3/4 cup quick-cooking grits
2 oz sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
1 1/2 cup baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup snipped chives
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 pound shelled and deveined shrimp (size your choice)
1/2 tsp hot or smoked paprika, plus more for grits if you choose
1/4 cup dry white wine

In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups water to a boil.  Gradually add the grits and a generous pinch of salt.  Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the grits are thick and porridge-like, about 7 minutes.  Season with S&P and stir in the cheddar cheese, baby spinach, and chives (and paprika, if using); stir until the cheese melts and the spinach is wilted.  Cover the grits and keep warm.

In a large skillet, heat the canola oil with the garlic over medium heat until frangrant, about 30 seconds (stirring constantly so garlic won't burn).  Increase heat to medium-high, add the shrimp and paprika, season with S&P and cook until shrimp are opaque, just minutes depending on the size of shrimp you are using.  Add the white wine and cook unil the shrimp are white throughout and the garlic-paprika sauce is slightly reduced.

Spoon the grits into bowls, top with shrimp and sauce; serve.

Recipe Source: Food & Wine (via the Huffington Post)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Spinach Salad with Sweet/Spicy Nuts, Apples, Feta, and Bacon

This is a wonderfully adaptable salad to just about any meal.  Great with fish and seafood, chicken, beef, pork.  Or add some grilled chicken or shrimp and make it an entree salad.  I have a basic vinaigrette I keep on hand which I used, but there is a recipe below.  Use your favorite or best in-season apple (Fujis are great right now).  Choice walnuts or pecans (I always go with pecans!)  This is simply a great basic salad which should be in your menu rotation at least a few times every month.


16 oz baby spinach
1/2 small red onion, slivered
6 slices applewood smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled or chopped into small pieces
1 cup Feta cheese crumbles, more or less to taste
1 cup dried cranberries or cherries, more or less to taste
1-2 apples, cored, and sliced thin

Sweet Spicy Nuts:
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/3 cup granulated sugar
pinch of cayenne (more to taste if you want)
pinch of salt

Red Wine Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup EVOO
1 tsp minced garlic
1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt, more or less to taste
coarsely ground black pepper

For the dressing shake all the ingredients together in a mason jar until well-combined or run them through a quick blender cycle.  Store in the fridge until ready to serve.  The dressing can be make up to a week in advance.

For the nuts lightly toast the nuts in a 350F oven for 8-10 minutes, checking often so they don't burn.  While they toast, place the sugar, cayenne, and salt in a skillet over medium-low heat.  Cook the sugar mixture until it liquifies completely, adjusting the heat so it doesn't bubble and burn.  Toss in the toasted nuts and stir to coat the nuts with sugar.  Let the sugared nuts cool completely.

To assemble the salad toss all the salad ingredients together along with the cooled nuts.  Serve immediately with the vinaigrette alongside. 

NOTE: All the components can be measured out/prepped ahead of time and stored separately.  You can soak the apples in a bit of lemon juice in water to help prevent browning.  Just toss right before serving.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies

Where you in on the chocolate/bacon craze that came about a year or so ago?  The first time I had the combination was in a chocolate bar I bought at World Market.  I loved the sweet creaminess of the chocolate paired with the salty crispness of the bacon.  I think it's a match made in heaven.  So naturally when I ran across this recipe, I knew I'd be making it.

For one who doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, this is the perfect combination.

CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE CHIP BACON COOKIES (makes about 2 dozen cookies)

1 1/8 cup AP flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbsp bacon fat, reserved when cooking the bacon
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
12 thick-cut bacon strips (12 oz package), chopped and cooked until fat is rendered and bacon is lightly crisped and browned

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 2 cookie sheets with Silpat or parchment paper (for easier clean-up).  Set them aside until you're ready to bake the cookies.

Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

Beat the butter, bacon fat, and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, until light and creamy.  Add the egg and the vanilla and mix until fully incorporated.  Add the flour mixture in 2 batches and mix well after each addition.

Add in the chocolate chips and chopped, cooked bacon and mix until evenly distributed.

Spoon heaping tablespoons of the cookie dough onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes.  Let cool before serving.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I love wraps and I love Asian-inspired dishes so this one was made for me.  And may I mention it's about the quickest dinner you could put together?  Delicious, healthy, beautiful, and fun to eat.  I added some chopped red pepper for extra color and served these with potstickers.  A fantastic busy weekday dinner.


1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb ground chicken or turkey
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
3 tsp minced garlic
4 scallions, whites and green separated and chopped

In a small bowl, combine the hoisin sauce and soy sauce with 1/3 cup water. 

In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium-high.  Add the chicken or turkey and cook, breaking apart with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 4 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the carrot and pepper and the remaining 1 Tbsp oil and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and scallion whites and cook 1 minute.  Stir in the hoisin mixture and cook until the sauce thickens and coats the chicken and vegetables, 1-2 minutes.

Divide the lettuce among four plates.  Top each leaf with the chicken mixture; sprinkle with the scallion greens.  Roll up burrito-style.

Recipe Source: Everyday with Rachel Ray magazine, January 2014, p. 30

1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Orange Ginger Pound Cake

This is this week's office treat: a orange and ginger pound cake.   While I didn't get to taste the end result, the batter was pretty darn good!

This is the type of cake that you poke holes in and pour an orange juice mixture over to saturate the cake.  Personally, I'm not a fan of heavy glazes, so I generally make only half of what the recipe calls for.  Also.....if you choose to make this, save a bit of the orange zest to garnish the top of the cake.  I forgot and put it all into the batter.   So much better for the flavor, but it could have been a bit prettier!

ORANGE GINGER POUND CAKE (about 10 servings, depending on the size of the slice)

1 1/2 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp finely minced, peeled fresh gingerroot
1 Tbsp minced orange rind
1/3 cup mild olive oil or vegetable oil
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/4" loaf pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

Whisk together yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, vanilla, ginger, orange rind, and oil.  Slowly stir in flour mixture.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake about 50 minutes, until a cake tester placed in the center of loaf comes out clean.

Place 1/4 cup fresh orange juice and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar in a small saucepan.  Heat until sugar dissolves.

When cake is done, let cool in pan 10 minutes.  Place cake on a wire rack over a sheet pan.  While cake is warm, poke holes in top, pour orange mixture over cake, allowing to soak in.

Combined powdered sugar and remaining 2 Tbsp orange juice, stirring until smooth.  When cake is cool, drizzle glaze over top of cake.

Recipe Source: Relish Magazine, January 2014, p. 6

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Brown Sugar Ham and Beans

I posted this recipe a few years ago but had to repost it for those who might have missed it.  This is my absolute favor navy bean soup.  And I only made it once a year for two reasons:  1) I don't usually get more than one bone-in ham a year and 2) it's a wee bit decadent.  But it is, in the words of Mr. Food, "oh so good!"

The original recipe I had calls for 1-2 cups of light brown sugar, but I have found that 3/4 cup is plenty for me.  It also calls for regular whipping cream, but I have used half-and-half with results that were just as good.

So if you happen to have a ham bone looking for an incredible home, give this a try.  It will have you licking your lips!

BROWN SUGAR HAM and BEANS (about 6 entree servings, or about 10 cup servings)

1 lb navy beans, soaked overnight
1 meaty ham bone (plus extra ham if you like)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup half-and-half or cream
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp ginger powder
3/4 or 1-2 cups light brown sugar

Place navy beans and ham bone in crock pot and fill with just enough water to cover beans and part of the ham bone (don't overfill or you soup will be too thin).  Cook on low 3-4 hours.

Add remaining ingredients and cook an additional 2-4 hours or until beans are tender.  Take bone out and shred remaining meat off bone and add to soup.

Serve with a crusty loaf of bread and a salad (I made cornbread and coleslaw).

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Ham and Cheese Dip

Oh YUM YUM YUM!!!  I just happened upon this recipe which includes ham (yep, I'll still workin' on that ham!) and I'm so glad I did.  This stuff is absolutely delicious!

Now if you're making this for a crowd (Super Bowl, anyone?) I would make this in the 9x9 baking dish as directed.  However, since there's only one or two of us home at a time, I mix the entire batch, but only scoop out enough to bake one ramekin at a me 6 or 7 separate appetizers (the mixture will keep for at least a week in the fridge). 

This original recipe calls to top the dip with Panko bread crumbs and to serve it with wavy or ridged potato chips.  I left the bread crumbs off and used tortilla chips.  It would also be really good with crostini or even scooping it with crudite.  Or just eat it by itself!  Really.

HAM and CHEESE DIP (serves 8 as an appetizer)

2 cups ham, chopped into 1" or smaller pieces
1 large onion, caramelized  (dice onion and then saute in 2-3 Tbsp butter until tender and browned)
6 oz sour cream or greek yogurt
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheese (gruyere, swiss, smoked provolone, or a mixture of your choice)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp whole grain mustard
S&P to taste
Panko bread crumbs, optional
Wavy/ridged potato chips, tortilla chips, crostini, raw vegetables, for serving

Preheat oven to 375F

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ham, caramelized onions, sour cream, cream cheese, mustards, and S&P.  Mix until everything is well-combined.

Spread the mixture into a 9x9 baking dish (or whatever size you have on hand, really); top it with the breadcrumbs, if using, and bake for 20 minutes or so, until the edges are browned and bubbly.  Serve warm with whichever dippers you choose.

NOTE:  One suggestion was to use this making a grilled cheese!  Can you imagine?!!!!  Be still my heart!

Recipe Source:

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Candy Cane Kiss Sugar Cookie Bars

I finally found a new recipe for my beloved can-only-be-found-at-holiday-time Hershey Candy Cane Kisses!!!   Not that I really needed one being that the Espresso Mint Cookies (see 8-14-12 post) are my favorite cookies.  I just thought the office might like a switch in case they don't love the cookies as much as I do.

These wonderful kisses are only found around November/December, although you might still be able to find a few in the clearance aisles if you are lucky.  As soon as I find them each autumn, I stock up on at least a dozen bags to get me through until the next year.  I pop the bags in the freezer and they stay good for the year.  And although I'm not a big candy eater, these little nuggets are pretty darn good all by themselves.

This is a basic sugar cookie recipe made as a bar in a 13"x9" dish with chunks of the kisses in the mix and a cream cheese frosting sprinkled with more chopped kisses.

CANDY CANE KISS SUGAR COOKIE BARS (makes a 13"x9" dish, number of bars depends on how small/large you cut the bars)

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 (10 oz) bag Hershey Candy Cane Kisses (remove about 10 Kisses to use as garnish), about 50 kisses, chopped

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2-3 Tbsp milk
about 10 Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses, finely chopped for garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 13"x9" baking dish with parchment paper or spray it with cooking spray.

For the bars:
In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.

In a separate bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt until combined.  Slowly add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until combined.  Gently fold in the chopped Hershey Kisses.

Press dough into the baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges begin to have a touch of golden brown.  Remove from oven and let the bars cool in the pan.

For the frosting:
Beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until creamy.  The mixture may seem dry at first but will become creamy after being beaten for a while.  Add a tablespoon of milk at a time until the frosting reaches the consistency you desire.  Frost cooled bars.  Sprinkle with additional chopped Candy Cane Kisses.

Recipe Source:

Monday, January 6, 2014

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Cauliflower Soup with Goat Cheese

Oh how I love winter and a great reason to have soup on the table!  Nary a soup out there that wouldn't please my palate.  And even more that make it dance.  I do loves me roasted red peppers and cauliflower, so needless to say, this is a good one.

So many variables for you in this recipe.  Add more or less roasted peppers.  More or less crushed red peppers.  More or less goat cheese.  But never, EVER, less smoked paprika!  For me, this is the quintessential element to this recipe.  It just wouldn't be the same.

Also, you can make this creamier or chunkier.  I made the full recipe and pureed half of it, and just slightly blended the second half.  I like A LOT of goat cheese, so I tend to add more, not just in the actual soup recipe, but in the garnishment. 

Use fresh red peppers that you roast yourself (at a dollar premium this time of year) or already jarred roasted red peppers.  I used a 12 ounce jar, but think I would have like a bit either a 16 ounce jar, or a 24 ounce jar.  Make it to suit you!


4 red bell peppers, cut in half and seeds removed (or 12/16/24/ oz jar of roasted red peppers)
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 onion, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or more to taste
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled and divided
S&P to taste

Place the red peppers on a baking sheet with the cut side facing down, broil until the skins are blackened, about 10 minutes, place in a sealable container and let steam for 20 minutes before peeling the skin off (omit this step if using jarred roasted tomatoes).

Meanwhile, toss the cauliflower in the oil, place it in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in a preheated 400F oven until tender and caramelized, about 20-30 minutes, mixing once in the middle.

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat and cook until the is tender, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the roasted red peppers, cauliflower, broth, paprika, and 3 ounces of the goat cheese and simmer for 10 minutes before pureeing to the desired consistency with a hand blender, a blender, or a food processor.

Season with S&P and serve garnished with remaining crumbled goat cheese.

Recipe Source:

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Grilled Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce

This has got to be one of the simplest, quickest, fine-restaurant-worthy salmon recipes I have made in a long time.  It didn't hurt that I got lucky enough to pick up an incredibly fresh and lovely salmon filet at Publix.  Regardless, this sauce is simply wonderful.

This recipe says it serves four 6-8 oz servings.  We generally eat a four ounce portion each.  So for us, I would only make a quarter of the sauce recipe.  So if you have some fresh dill on hand and have a bit left over, try this wonderful sauce.  And don't leave out the lemon zest!


4 (6-8 oz) filets, skinless and boneless
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp lemon-pepper seasoning
Salt, to taste

Dill Sauce:
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayo
1 Tbsp shallot, finely minced
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 a lemon, juiced
2 tsp fresh dill, chopped
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
S&P, to taste

Fresh dill sprigs, optional
Lemon slices, optional

Preheat a barbecue or indoor grill to high.  If using a barbecue grill, place a grill pan or basket on the grill and allow it to heat up as well.

Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Spread butter on the belly-side of each filet, but season both sides with salt and lemon-pepper.  Cook the filets 4-5 minutes on each side or until your desired doneness.

Remove the salmon from the grill and place it on a platter.  Top each filet with a dollop of dill sauce.  Garnish with fresh dill sprigs and lemon slices, if desired.

Recipe Source:

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Orzo Ham Salad

THIS IS SO GOOD!!!  Maybe it was just the right salad at the right time, but for me...this hit the spot.  So good, in fact, that I'm making a second batch.

Maybe it is the difference in the dressing.....I'm so use to a vinaigrette-type dressing on a pasta salad (which I do love), but the mustard in this mayo/sour cream really adds a bit of sharpness.  Delicious!  This recipe calls for grape tomatoes, but as I tasted the salad before I got to that point of ingredients,  I just stopped.  So glad I have more leftover ham!

ORZO HAM SALAD (6 servings)

2/3 cup orzo pasta, uncooked
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp yellow mustard
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
1/2 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups fully cooked ham, chopped
3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved

Bring a pan of water to a boil.  Add orzo.  Cooked until al dente, start checking at about 7-8 minutes (may take 10-11 minutes to cook).  Drain.

Whisk mayo, sour cream, vinegar, mustards, chives, sugar, and S&P.

Combine cooked orzo, ham, onion, pepper, and tomatoes.  Add dressing and mix until combined.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source:

Friday, January 3, 2014

Black-Eyed Peas with Greens

So did you have black-eyed peas and greens for you New Year's good luck?  I've had them every year for as long as I can's a southern tradition to bring you luck (black-eyed peas) and money (greens).  Jim tells me he only remembers missing them one year and that year he got drafted!  Needless to say, he hasn't missed a year since.

When we got married, his father gave me his recipe for cooking the peas in the oven.  And we always had cole slaw since Jim doesn't care for any type of greens.  Since he wasn't home on January 1st this year, I wanted to incorporate greens into my recipe.  I used his dad's recipe and added what I use when I make greens on their own.  I like "Wiley's Green Seasoning" which I have found every state we've lived can find the packets in your produce department.

While this recipe is a bit late for 2014 New Year's Day, tuck it away for new year.  Serve it over rice for traditional Hoppin' John or simply by itself.  If you have leftover ham, add that.  I love topping it with Texas Pete's Pepper Sauce (those little peppers in a glass bottle filled with vinegar) and Louisiana Hot Sauce.  Or spice it up even more with some Cajun seasoning or other spicy concoction you prefer.

BLACK-EYED PEAS with GREENS (6-8 servings)

12 oz black-eyed peas
1 cup chopped onion
1 large jalapeno, seeds and veins removed, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2-3 tsp minced garlic
4 cups water or low-sodium chicken stock
4 cups chopped greens (collard, turnip, mustard, kale)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 package Wiley's Green Seasoning
chopped ham, optional
pepper sauce and/or hot sauce, optional
addtional spicy seasonings, optional

Soak peas covered in water overnight, if desired (I've left this step out before and they came out fine).

In a stock pot, cover the bottom of a hot pan with olive oil.  Add onion, jalapenos, celery, and garlic.  Saute until tender, about 6-7 minutes.  Add peas and water or stock.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Cook until beans are just about done, start checking at around 45 minutes.

Add greens, cilantro, and seasoning.  Cook until greens and peas are tender to your liking. Add ham, if using.

Serve over rice, if desired.  Season with hot sauce or other seasonings.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Watergate Salad

Have you ever heard of Watergate Salad?  Apparently it was quite the trend back in the 70's, a trend that somehow missed our home in Oklahoma City.  I heard about it on a cooking show when the hosts were speaking nostalgically about old favorites.  I looked it up and found several recipes that claimed to be the "authentic recipe from the chef at the Water Hotel in DC."  So, I kind of put several recipes and this is what I came up with. 

It's actually quite tasty and keeps very well for over a week.  You can adjust the amount of all of the ingredients (except the pudding mix) to your liking.  Use regular, reduced-fat, or fat-free whipped topping then sit back and enjoy a trip to the past!

WATERGATE SALAD (8-10 servings)

1 (3.4 oz) package instant pistachio pudding mix
1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple with juice, undrained
1 cup miniature marshmellows
1/2 cup chopped pecans
12-16 oz non-dairy whipped topping, thawed

Stir pudding mix, pineapple with juice, marshmellows and nuts in a large bowl until well blended.

Gently stir in whipped topping.

Refrigerate one hour or until ready to serve.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New 2014!

HAPPY NEW YEAR, friends!  These are current photos of the four sweetest girls you could ever hope to meet!  We all want to wish you a lovely 2014 with health, happiness, and friendship.  If you are as lucky as Jim and I have been with these four darling girls, you will, indeed, have a very happy new year.

A grand new year to us all!  Jim, Kay, Muffin, Lindie, Nellie, and Scooter