Friday, February 28, 2014

Going Green Smoothie

I've been wanting to make a green smoothie for a long time.  This one uses spinach, but I'm anxious to try kale.  If a green smoothie scares your children, think of a fun name like "Frog Nog!"  Also, simply by adding blueberries it will be purple.

I don't have much of a sweet tooth and that includes fruits.  I certainly get all the vegetables that are recommended and then some, but fruit is just not on my list except in the case of smoothies.  I'm still experimenting with the Vitamix, but a huge plus is that you can use the entire fruit, seeds and stems included.  We are told that you should always eat a piece of fruit versus simply drinking the juice.  These blenders give you the nutrition, fiber, and flavor.

I have used an entire apple and a pineapple core.  It blends it completely smooth.  This recipe calls for using a fresh pineapple with the core, but if you are using a standard blender, you'll want to leave the core out.  Or use canned pineapple chunks.

As with just about any smoothie, use what you have on hand: berries, bananas (no peel!), cucumbers, greens, citrus (no rind there, please.....too bitter), just about anything in the produce aisle.  And while this recipe calls for 1/2 cup water, I would use a bit of fruit juice for a tad more nutrition.

GOING GREEN SMOOTHIE (makes 2 3/4 cups)

1/2 cup (120 ml) water
1 cup (150 g) green grapes
1/2 cup (75 g) fresh pineapple chunks, core included
1/2 medium banana, peeled
2 cups (60 g) fresh spinach, lightly packed
1/2 cup (120 ml) ice cubes

Place all ingredients into the container in the order listed and secure lid.

Select low speed.

Turn machine on and then switch to high speed.

Blend for 45 seconds or until desired consistency is reached.

Recipe Source: Vitamix Creations Cookbook, p. 36

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Almost-Homemade Lemon Poundcake

If you're looking for a really easy poundcake to make, here's what you need.   The top photo is still in the pan, the bottom photo is the cake turned out.  Again, I didn't add the glaze since the cake was traveling, I put the glaze on the side for those who wanted some extra sweetness.

Generally, I would add some poppy seeds to this, but since it was going to the office (and some companies do random drug tests), I didn't add them.  But if you're a lemon-poppyseed fan, by all means add them to your heart's delight!


1 (16.5 oz) box lemon cake mix
1 (3.4 oz) box lemon instant pudding/pie filling
4 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 cup water

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
milk if necessary to thin

Add all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Mix for two minutes at medium speed.

Pour into a Bundt pan coated with cooking spray.

Cook at 350F for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for 20 minutes and invert onto a wire rack.

If adding glaze, poke holes in the top of cake with a toothpick.  Pour glaze over cooled cake.

Recipe Source:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Well, I took the plunge and am taking a chance on a commercial-grade blender, a Vitamix.  I've been wanting one for several years and have been keeping an eye on accessories and price.  The deal I recently found is the best so far.  And I've got 30 days to see if I think it's worth the price.  So I'm going to try something just about everyday.

One of the reasons I loved the idea of these mixers (other than the fact that they blend anything perfectly smoothly) is that it makes hot soup right in the mixer.  It blends at such a high velocity you don't need to heat it in another vessel.  And I love the cookbook because it gives not just gives quanity amounts (1/2 cup, for example), but weights (60 grams).  I love cooking by weights, especially when baking.  Bless those Europeans (well, just about everyone else in this world!)

I chose this recipe because I happened to have everything on hand.  Five simple ingredients and a nutritious, delicious soup on the table in just minutes.


1 cup (240 ml) milk
1/2 cup (60 g) shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups (150 g) fresh or frozen broccoli or cauliflower florets, steamed (or thawed and at room temp)
1 tsp diced onion, or more to taste
1/2 chicken or vegetable bouillon cube
extra broccoli florets and cheddar for garnish, optional

Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid (if using a standard blender, do the same and blend until smooth).

Select Low speed (on Vitamix).

Turn machine on and then switch to High speed.

Blend for 6 minutes or until heavy steam escapes from the vented lid.  If having mixed in a standard blender, move mixture to a sauce pan and heat throughout).

Recipe Source: Vitamix Creations Cookbook, p. 108

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Creamy Beef or Turkey Lasagna

Years ago when I worked in Oklahoma City, there was a restaurant across the hall from us that made the most wonderful lasagna.  Everytime it was their special for the day, I always ordered it.  Several years later, Taste of Home magazine's monthly contest was on lasagna.  I took my chances on one of the recipes and if it wasn't exactly what I used to order, it is just about as close as you can get.

Honestly, I haven't had a lasagna that I wouldn't have another bite.  But this one is at the top of my list.  I've made a few adjustments to this recipe and I cut it in half.  But if you want to make the full serving (which yields 12 servings) in a 9x13 dish, simply double the ingredients (you may need a few extra noodles).

P. S.  Leftovers freeze well.  Simply cut a serving size, wrap first in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil.  You can let it thaw in the fridge, or simply microwave the frozen portion.


3/4 pounds ground beef or turkey
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
1 package (8 oz) regular or reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (4 oz) regular or reduced-fat sour cream
2 Tbsp milk
6 no-boil lasagna noodles
1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese, or a mixture
minced fresh parsley, optional

In a skillet, cook beef or turkey over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.  Stir in tomato sauce, onion, sugar, salt, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic. 

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sour cream, and milk until smooth.

In a 2-quart square baking dish, layer a fourth of the meat sauce, two noodles, and a third of the cream cheese mixture.  Repeat layers twice.  Top with remaining meat sauce.

Cover and bake at 350F for 40 minutes.  Uncover; sprinkle with cheese.  Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.  Sprinkle with parsley.

Recipe Source: Taste of Home magazine, April 2000, p. 28

Monday, February 24, 2014

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

This is the side salad I made with that wonderful salmon from yesterday's post.  This, too, is quick and easy and oh-so-good with a vibrant presentation!  I will say, for me it was better the second day.  So make this ahead at least a couple of hours to let the flavors meld.


1/2 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup matchstick carrots
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
1 Tbsp basil herb paste (I found this is my produce deparment {you can store it in the freezer and it will last just about forever}.....use could also use minced fresh basil to taste)
1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
2 medium zucchinis

Combine all ingredients except zucchini in a salad bowl.

Cut zucchini into 3- to 4-inch long sections.  Cut thin, lengthwise strips of zucchini, using a vegetable peeler, into bowl (peel until reaching seeds; discard inner portion).

Toss to coat; chill until ready to serve.

Recipe Source:

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sweet Pepper Salmon

Well, I think I have found my new favorite #2 salmon recipe (#1 being that wonderful Teriyaki Salmon with Sriracha Cream, see 11-5-13 post).  They were demo-ing it last week at Publix and I couldn't wait to try it at home.  And not only is is delicious, it is so fast and easy.

The original recipe calls for smoked almonds but I just used some sliced almonds and substituted smoked paprika for regular paprika.  Worked like a charm.

I served this atop quinoa and with another great recipe, Zucchini Ribbon Salad, which I wil post tomorrow. 

So if you're looking for a new and a slightly different salmon recipe for your weekly salmon meal (good Omega-3s!!!), give this one a try.

P.S.  The Sriracha Cream from the post mentioned above goes wonderfully with this.


4 salmon fillets, skin removed (4-6 oz each)
1/4 cup whole smoked almonds
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic pepper seasoning (I found the McCormick brand in the spice aisle)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp light soy sauce

Place almonds in a zip-top bag and crush, using meat mallet (or rolling pin), until the size of coarse breadcrumbs (I used a mini food processor).  Add chili powder, paprika, and garlic pepper; shake to mix.

Preheat large saute pan on medium 2-3 minutes.  Coat salmon with cooking spray; place in zip-top bag along with almond mixture.  Seal bag and shake (or press with fingertips) to coat salmon evenly.

Remove pan from heat and coat with cooking spray.  Add salmon; cook 3-4 minutes on each side or until 145F and fish flakes easily.

Remove salmon from pan.  Add syrup and soy sauce to pan; cook 1-2 minutes or until sauce beings to thicken.  Serve sauce over salmon.

Recipe Source:

Friday, February 21, 2014

Hawaiian Pulled Pork Skillet Nachos with Pineapple Guacamole

Holy Guacamole!!!  This stuff is good!!!  Now mine isn't as pretty as it should be (I thought I had a red onion but didn't so I had to use a sweet problem, though, the taste was still out of this world).  I could have also sprinkled on some chopped cilantro for more color, but I simply didn't have the patience.

And if the incredible taste isn't enough reason to try it, then how about everything can be made ahead of time and then assembled when you're ready to eat.  I cooked the pork the day before, you can make the chips the day or two before, same wtih the guac (just sprinkle it with lime juice to keep the color).

This recipe calls for stacking the nachos in one skillet, but I wanted to try one skillet using baked tortillas I made myself and one skillet using tortilla chips from the grocery store to see the difference.  The difference was very slight, but I did lean a bit more towards the homemade chips....they had a bit more heft.

You're going to have plenty of shredded pork left over and it freezes well so you've got more on hand for a salad, tacos, or more nachos!


For the Hawaiian Pulled Pork:
3-4 lb pork butt, large pieces of fat removed then cut into big chunks
garlic salt
15 oz can crushed pineapple with juice
1 cup BBQ sauce, divided, plus more for dipping
1 large red or sweet onion, sliced

For the baked tortilla chips: (or substitute about 24 tortilla chips from a bag)
6 corn tortillas
EVOO or nonstick spray

For the pineapple guacamole:
2 avocados
1 tsp minced garlic
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup pineapple tidbits, drained (15 oz can.....use the rest for the nachos)

For the nachos:
4 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
remainder of pineapple tidbits used for the guacamole
1/2 small red onion, chopped
cilantro, minced for garnish (optional)

Place pork into the bottom of a large crock pot (I used a 6 quart) then season generously with garlic salt on all sides.  Add can of crushed pineapple including the juices, 1/2 cup BBQ sauce, and sliced onion.  Mix slightly then cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours, or until meat shreds easily.  Shred then mix 2 cups pork with remaining 1/2 cup BBQ.  Discard cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F then stack tortillas and cut them into quarters with a sharp knife.  Place wedges onto two baking sheets leaving at least 1/4" between each wedge.  Spray tops with nonstick spray or mist with EVOO then season with salt.  Bake, rotating pans halfway through, for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.  Chips will crisp as they cool (can be made ahead of time, cool completely then store in an airtight container).

Layer half the chips into the bottom of a 12" oven-proof skillet then top wtih half the pork, cheese, pineapple, and chopped red onion.  Repeat layers one more time then bake for 7-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Alternatively you could use a baking sheet instead of a skillet.

While nachos are baking, combine avocados, garlic, lime juice, and salt in a bowl.  Smash with a potato smasher or fork until desired consistency is reached.  Fold in cilantro and pineapple tidbits. 

Serve pineapple guacamole with nachos, along with extra BBQ sauce for dipping.

Recipe Source:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Corn and Green Bean Salad

Seems like I've gotten a big nostalgic over the winter.  I had pulled out my old recipe cards (remember those?) and found myself making dishes I hadn't made in decades.  Basic recipes that takes you back to years gone by.

I think this was a dish that someone brought to our home after a death in the family.   We all loved it and when the time was right, asked the friend (who was it?) for the recipe.  I made it quite a few times and then it got tucked away and forgotten.

I made it the other day and had to finally put some of it away before I ate the entire batch.  It's not just the new, wonderful 21st century foods I wanted to feature in my personal blog, but those older ones that came from mothers, grandmothers, and old friends.

CORN and GREEN BEAN SALAD (4 side servings)

1 can LeSeure small, young peas, drained and rinsed
1 can white shoepeg corn, drained and rinsed
1 can french-style green beans, drained and rinsed
chopped celery, amount to taste
chopped onion, amount to taste
1 small can sliced black olives, drained and rinsed
1 small jar pimientos, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp vinegar (tarragon, white wine, rice)
1 Tbsp sugar or Splenda
S&P to taste

Whisk the dressing ingredients together.  Set aside.

Mix all of the salad ingredients together.  Coat with dressing.  Chill before serving.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Nutella Filled Cupcakes

Sorry for the extended absence.  I've just not made anything new or exciting to share with you.  May dinner this weekend was a bust, but I've got a fabulous salmon recipe I tasted at Publix the other day I can't wait to post!

Until then, here's an easy homemade cupcake filled and topped with Nutella and hazelnuts.  These cupcakes are so moist and chocolatey.  And the chopped nuts on top give it them a nice crunch.

NUTELLA FILLED CUPCAKES (makes 1 1/2 to 2 dozen cupcakes)

1 1/3 cups cake flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup hot coffee
1 (26.5 oz) jar Nutella spread
2 oz hazelnuts (filberts), chopped and toasted

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 2 (12 cup) muffin pans with paper cupcake liners.

Gently whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla until fully combined in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add in the eggs and mix until fully incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add in the dry ingredients mixture, alternating iwth the sour cream, and mix on low speed until all  ingredients are combined.  Slowly add the hot coffee and mix on low speed until fully incorporated, scraping the bowl as necessary.

Scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake pan, filling the liners about 3/4 full.  Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 20-22 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Remove the pans from the oven and place on a cooling rack.  Let cool for only 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, fill a pastry bag, fitted with a large star tip, with the Nutella.  Pipe the inside of each cupcake from the top, with enough filling to equal about 1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp of spread.

After the filled cupcakes have cooled comletely, pipe a rosette with the remaining Nutella on top and sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Beautiful Evening/Morning in Apison

We here in Chattanooga are on the very northern edges of Winter Storm Pax.  I can't imagine what it must be like elsewhere.  It's absolutely stunning.  Beautiful.  Tranquil.  We don't get snow here often, especially this much, and when we do it's a real treat.  Perfect weather for cooking, naps, watching black and white movies.  Oh, I do miss Minnesota!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mediterranean Fish

This is my most remarkable creation!  With a bit of help from the cashier at Earth Fare, I came up with this absolutely delicious dish.

I had picked up my favorite Castelvetrano olives (those bright green ones) when the cashier mentioned they were also her favorites.  I've always bought them just to snack on, but she told me she would use them when cooking with fish or chicken.  So going by what she told me, I decided to make a few changes and try it on my own.  And didn't it turn out pretty?


2 Tbsp EVOO
2 (4-6 oz) mild white fish like tilapia or swai
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup sliced mushrooms (6-8 button mushrooms)
12 grape tomatoes, halved
12 oil-cured olives, chopped
12 Castelvetrano olives, chopped
Feta cheese crumbles, optional

Heat saute pan.  Add olive oil.  Add onion and mushroom, saute until almost softened.  Add garlic.  Cook 1 minute.  Add fish fillets.  Turn when halfway cooked.  When fish is just about done, add green and black olives and tomatoes just long enough to heat through.  Sprinkle with feta cheese if using.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lemon Butter Brussels Sprouts

When I made that delicious salmon with the dill sauce, I was originally going to serve it with asparagus.  But this edition of Taste of Home also had a Brussels Sprouts recipe that I thought would nicely compliment the salmon. 

It's a deliciously flavored side dish.  It's a kicked up version of a basic Brussels Sprouts.


1 lb fresh Brussels sprouts
3 Tbsp EVOO
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp grated lemon peel
minced fresh parsley, optional

Cut Brussels sprouts in half.  In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add Brussels sprouts and garlic; cook and stir 5 minutes or until sprouts begin to brown.

Add wine, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan.  Stir in broth, lemon juice, thyme, S&P.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 8-10 minutes or until sprouts are tender.

Stir in butter and lemon peel until butter is melted.  If desired, sprinkle with parsley.

Recipe Source:  Taste of Home, February 2014, p. 63

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Salmon and Dill Sauce with Lemon Risotto

This is my weekly salmon recipe!  My favorite part of this is the sauce.  While it calls for mayo and sour cream, I found myself without any sour cream so I just added a bit more lemon juice and it came out perfectly.  And the creamy, lemony risotto just brings it all together.

I rarely use dried herbs when fresh is available, but this time the dried dill worked just fine in the sauce.  The fresh lemon juice and zest really brings up the flavor.


1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp chopped green onion
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp snipped fresh dill or 1/2 tsp dried dill weed

3 to 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp EVOO
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 cup uncooked arborio rice
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp grated lemon peepl
1/4 tsp black pepper

4 salmon fillets (4-6 oz each)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp EVOO

Lemon wedges, for garnish

In a small bowl, mix sauce ingredients.  Refrigerate, covered, until serving.

In a small saucepan, bring broth to a simmer; keep hot.  In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add shallot; cook and stir 1-2 minutes or until tender.  Add rice and garlic; cook and stir 1-2 minutes or until rice is coated.

Stir in 1/2 cup hot broth.  Reduce heat to maintain a simmer; cook and stir until broth is absorbed.  Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until broth has been absorbed afer each addition, until rice is tender but firm to the bite, and risotto is creamy.  Remove from heat; stir in lemon peel and pepper.

Meanwhile, sprinkle fillets with S&P.  In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add fillets; cook 6-8 minutes on each side or until fish just beings to flake easily with a fork.  Serve salmon with sauce, risotto, and lemon wedges (if desired).

Recipe Source: Taste of Home, February 2014, p. 65

Friday, February 7, 2014

Mongolian Beef

It only happens once or twice a year, but I made a beef dish tonight.  If it's Asian, I'm gonna love it.  It's so simple and everything can be made ahead, making this about a 5-minute dish to cook.  Slice the beef ahead of time, mix the sauce, and then saute it just before you're ready to eat.  I served it on rice (noodles or quinoa would be great, too) with some steamed broccoli and potstickers on the side.

MONGOLIAN BEEF (4 servings)

1 Tbsp oil
1 pound steak (flank or sirloin), sliced thinly
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 tsp chili paste, such as sambal oelek
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup water or beef broth
1 tsp sesame oil
1/5 cup green onions, sliced

Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat, add the beef and saute until just cooked, about 2-4 minutes.

Add the mixture of the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, chili paste, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and the mixture of cornstarch and water to the pan and cook until it thickens a bit, about a minute.

Serve over rice, noodles, quinoa, etc. and garnish with green onions.

Recipe Source:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Slow-Cooker Fish Chowder

Another wonderful, adaptable All Recipes recipe.  This fish chowder allows for great adaptability.  I changed from bacon to ham (because that's what I had on hand), as well as changing the amounts and types of fish/seafood due to availablity and cost.

I'll list the recipe as printed with my variations in parenthesis.  I also liked a tad bit of heat in mine, so added a bit of Cajun seasoning to my bowl.  Ahhh, the beauty of home cooking....make it your own.

SLOW-COOKER FISH CHOWDER (about 8 servings)

4 slices bacon, chopped (6 oz chopped ham, chopped)
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
6 cups chicken stock (4 cups shrimp stock, 1 cup water)
1 cup fresh (from about 1 cob) or frozen (no need to thaw) corn kernels
2 large potatoes, diced (peeled or unpeeled, it's up to you)
3 stalks celery, diced
2 large carrots, diced
black pepper, to taste
crushed red pepper, to taste
8 oz (6 oz) scallops
6 oz (8 oz) medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 pound skinless, boneless halibut (4 oz tilapia), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk

Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until browned, 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally; drain excess grease (reserve 1-2 Tbsp bacon grease in the skillet for the veggies).  Stir onion and garlic into bacon grease and cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

Transfer bacon and onino mixture to a 5-6 qt slow cooker.  Add chicken stock.  Mix corn, potatoes, celery, and carrots into the stock.  Season with black pepper and red pepper flakes.  Set the cooker on HIGH, cover, and cook for 3 hours.

Stir scallops, shrimp, and halibut into the soup and cook 5 more minutes on HIGH.  Stir evaporated milk into chowder, heat thoroughly, and serve.

Adjust salt to taste.  Also add any further seasonings to taste, such as Cajun seasoning.

Recipe Source:  All Recipes Magazine, February 2014, p. 65

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pea Salad

This is one of those "have-been-around-forever" salads.  Something that almost always shows up at potlucks or taken to the home of someone who has just lost a loved one.  You know what I'm talking about.

And while our tastes and knowledge about food have certainly changed over the last several decades, every once and a while you just crave one of those dishes from your past.  This is about as simple as they come: four ingredients in the salad, just three in the dressing.  And using reduced-fat mayo, this is one dish from the past that isn't laden with tons of fat and calories.

PEA SALAD (2-4 servings)

1 can (15 oz) LeSeure young small peas
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 small or 1/2 large apple, chopped
1/4 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup mayo
1 Tbsp tarragon vinegar
1/2 Tbsp sugar or Splenda

Mix dressing ingredients together and whisk until smooth.  Set aside.

Mix salad ingredients.  Coat with dressing.  Can be served immediately or kept in the fridge for a day or two.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Arugula Mushroom Salad

OK, this is a simple green salad.  So why post it?  Because the simplicity and incredible ingredients make this one extra special.

The original recipe calls for using all arugula.  The first time I made it that is what I used, but it was a bit overwhelming for me.  I adore arugula, but a little goes a long, long way.  So this time I cut it with mixed greens.  Then just add red pepper strips, mushrooms, and macadamias (macadamias???!!!  Oh! Manna from heaven!)  Lastly is this lucious Goddess Dressing.  Now this may not be in your area, but basically it's an Asian-inspired salad dressing with a strong taste of sesame oil.  I found it in the all-natural section of my local Publix, you could probably find it, or something very close, in a Whole Foods/Trader Joe's type of market.


1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
8 oz button or baby portabella mushrooms, sliced, quartered, or halved
4-5 oz arugula or arugula/spring mix mixture
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
Goddess dressing, to taste

Mix salad ingredients together.  Add desired amount of dressing, toss and serve.

Recipe Source:

Monday, February 3, 2014

Snickers Chex Mix

Let me preface this by saying (again), I do not have a sweet tooth.  When I bake a batch of cookies for Jim's office, I might take a bite out of one and give him the rest.

When I found this on a blog, I read that they were addictive.  As usual, I took a bite.  And another.  And another.  And then I made a bag for myself before I sent the rest off to the office.  These are deeeeee-lish!!!

And quick and easy to make.  I did make a few adjustments to the recipe for simplicity sake.  You can see the original recipe and step-by-step cooking instructions at the blog listed below (she is a regular source for me).


1 box Chocolate Chex cereal
3/4 cup brown sugar
6 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 package (11 oz, about 20 caramels) unwrapped Kraft caramels (or other brand if available)
1 Tbsp heavy cream, half-and-half, or even a vanilla-flavored coffee creamer
3/4 cup salted peanuts
1/2 package (8 oz, about 20 bites) Snickers bites (I cut mine in half, optional)

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper then set aside.  Add cereal to a large, microwave-safe dish or bowl then set aside.

Add brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup to a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl.  Microwave for 2 minutes, stirring halfway through, then stir in baking soda.  Pour mixture over chex then stir to coat.  Microwave for 3 minutes, stirring every minute, then pour onto prepared baking sheet.  Cool completely, about 15 minutes, then break into bite-sized pieces.

Add chocolate chips to a microwave-safe dish then microwave for 30 second increments, stirring after each increment, until smooth.  Drizzle over chex using a spoon.

Add caramel bits and cream to a microwave-safe dish then microwave for 1 minute, stirring halfway through, until smooth (may take an extra 30/60 seconds).  Drizzle over chex using a spoon.

Sprinkle peanuts and Snickers over chex mix while caramel and chocolate are still warm.  Place in the fridge to cool completely and then break apart and store in an airtight container at room temp.

Recipe Source:

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Shrimp Crepes with Mornay Sauce

OK, I don't want to oversell these.  Maybe it was just my day.  Maybe it was exactly what my taste buds were craving.  But I think this may be the best dish I have made in a long, long time.

It's been about 15 years since I've made crepes.  Years ago when we lived in San Antonio, I used to take cooking classes at Central Market (a foodie's heaven).  One of the classes I took was on crepes.  They are the easiest thing in the world to make.  And I don't know what jogged by memory, but I pulled my file out and decided it was time to make them again.

The recipes we made in the class, however, were more on the brunch/dessert side.  On an ongoing mission to purge my freezer and pantry, I had shrimp, spinach, and mushrooms on hand and so I went on a search using these ingredients.  I have several recipes and kind of combined them, with a few more changes of my own.

The crepes were fun to make (your first crepe will always be sacrificed to the crepe gods).  I don't know how these made it out of my dinner rotation, but I look forward to making more.  But this recipe will defninitely be #1 on my list.


For the crepes:
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1 egg (pull out about 1/3 of the yolk for the Mornay Sauce)
2/3 Tbsp melted butter
2/3 Tbsp vegetable oil or cooking spray
1/3 cup AP flour
1/8 tsp salt

For the Mornay Sauce:
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup half-and-half or milk
1/3 egg yolk, mixed with the half-and-half
scant 1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
S&P to taste

For the shrimp mixture:
2 Tbsp butter
1/3 medium sweet onion, chopped
1/4 lb mushrooms, sliced
8 oz shrimp (if you very small {not salad shrimp} shrimp leave whole, any larger chop a bit)
1/2 small package frozen shrimp, thawed and wringed dry
1-2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
S&P to taste

For the crepes:
Combine all ingredients (except vegetable oil) in a bowl and blend with a whisk until smooth.  Cover batter and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.

Heat skillet or griddle.  Place a bit of oil or cooking spray in pan until hot.  Pour enough batter to make the size of a pancake, 2-3 Tbsp (tilt pan and swirl to get as close to a circle as you can.)  Cook until brown on the bottom, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Turn and cook other side.  Repeat with remaining batter.

Place crepes between pieces of waxed paper to keep them from sticking together.  Set aside.  The crepes will keep at room temp for several hours, if necessary.

For the Mornay Sauce:
In a small saucepan, melt butter and then blend in flour with a whisk.  Stir in milk.  Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens.  Add cheese and blend well.  Season with S&P and remove from heat.

For the shrimp mixture:
In a skillet, melt butter.  Saute onion, mushrooms, and spinach until vegetables are tender.  Add shrimp and garlic.  Saute until shrimp are cooked.

For the stuffed crepe:
Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Heat oven to 350F.

Stir Mornay Sauce into shrimp mixture.  Spoon about 2 Tbsp or more of mixture into middle of crepe and roll up (leave a little bit to spread over the top of the crepes).

Place seam side down on prepared baking dish.  Repeat with remaining crepes.  Top with remaining sauce.

Bake for 15 minutes until sauce is warm and bubbly.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Skillet Cassoulet

This is an adapted version of the French classic.  A healthed-up version full of hearty flavors and a bunch of good stuff.  This version calls for turkey kielbasa (or smoked sausage) with cannellini beans and vegetables.  You make make everything ahead of time and then simply saute it right before serving.

Hopefully you'll have leftovers because after this sits overnight, the flavors are even better.  A fantastic dish for a cold night or rainy lunch.


2 tsp canola oil
1/4 lb smoked turkey kielbasa or smoked turkey sausage, cut into 1/2" slices
1/4 lb fully-cooked boneless ham, cubed
2 medium carrots, sliced
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
2 tsp minced garlic
1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
1/4-1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/8-1/4 tsp black pepper
Crusty French bread, optional

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add kielbasa, ham, carrots, celery, and onion; cook and stir until sausage is browned and vegetables are tender.   Add garlic, cook 1 minute longer.

Stir in the beans, tomatoes, thyme, and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 4-5 minutes or until heated through.

If desired, serve with bread.

Recipe Source:  Taste of Home, February 2014, p. 30