Monday, March 31, 2014

Tomato-Orange Pork (or fish, chicken, shrimp)

This was another demo-ed recipe at my local Publix Supermarket.  Man, they do some great, simple dishes.  They used pork tenderloin, but I thought the recipe lends itself easily to other proteins.

They used this packaged rice which I have seen in probably every market I've shopped at in all of the states we've lived in.  But just in case, white or brown rice would work perfectly.  Or you could throw in a bit of turmeric if you like the color.

One word of warning:  This recipe calls for the zest of 2 oranges.  Since there are just two of us, I halved the recipe and used one orange.  However, the orange I used was a pretty good size and the zest was pretty overpowering.  Personally, I would start with half of what the recipe calls for and add more if needed.  Definitely use all of the juice, it's much milder.

Also, adobo seasoning is pretty ubiquitous.  However, should you have trouble finding it, a basic recipe is:

Adobo Seasoning:
3 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp black powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin

Tomato-Orange Pork:
4 tsp garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, coarsely chopped
1 tsp fresh oregano, coarsely chopped
zest/juice of 2 oranges
1 pork tenderloin, about 1 lb
1/2 tsp adobo seasoning with pepper
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup sliced stuffed green olives

Preheat large saute pan on medium-high 2-3 minutes.  Place oil in pan, then add pork, cook 3-4 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove pork from pan.

Add remaining ingredients to same pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 3-4 minutes or unti liquid has reduced by about one-half.

Return pork to sauce and reduce heat to low;  cook 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, or until pork is 145F.  Serve over rice.

Yellow Rice Pilaf:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 (8 oz) package low-sodium yellow rice
1 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1 (2 oz) package slivered almonds

Preheat medium saucepan on medium-high 2-3 minutes.  Place oil in pan, then add rice; cook and stir 1 minute.  Add broth; bring to a boil.

Cover rice and reduce heat to low; simmer 18-20 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed and rice is tender.

Fluff rice wtih a fork.  Fold in peas and almonds; then cover; let stand 1-2 minutes to warm peas.  Serve.

Recipe Source:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Fire-Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Soup with Fresh Salsa

As the winter months wane and spring and summer are on the horizon, I'm trying to squeeze in as many soup recipes as I can.  I love soup and can (and often do) each soup everyday, but once the horrid summer temps and humidity hit, I don't make it as much as I do during the cool fall and winter months.

I don't know where I found this recipe, but I printed it out and just happened to have everything on hand last week.  The soup itself is a wonderful combination of tomatoes and black beans with perfect seasoning.  The salsa lends a great texture.  It's quick and easy.  Eat it as a snack, a side dish, or an entree with some crusty bread.  I cut the recipe in half, but the soup would freeze beautifully for a ready meal in the freezer.


1 Tbsp oil (canola, veg, olive, or coconut)
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
3 tsp garlic, finely minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
2 cans (14 oz each) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans (15 oz each) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
S&P to taste
squeeze of fresh lime juice, a couple of teaspoons

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tsp garlic, finely minced
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (thawed if frozen)
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
squeeze of fresh lime juice
S&P to taste

In a 4-quart pot, heat the oil over medium heat until rippling.  Add the onion and saute 4-5 minutes until it turns translucent.  Add the garlic, oregano, cumin, and chili powder and cook, stirring frequently, for another minute or so.

Stir in the tomatoes, black beans, chicken broth, S&P.  Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes.  Carefully puree the soup with a handheld immersian blender or by ladling it into a blender (may need to do it in batches depending on the size of your blender).  Puree to your desired consistency.  Stir in the lime juice and any additional S&P to taste, if needed.

For the salsa, stir together the ingredients, adding S&P to taste.  The salsa can be covered and refrigerated for days.

Ladle the warm soup into bowls and top with a generous spoonful of salsa.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dilled Potato-Leek Soup

Soup is one of my favorite things to make and eat.  And potato leek is one of my favorite soups.  This is actually quite quick and easy to make.  I had some fresh dill on hand I wanted to use and came across this recipe.

I might try using white pepper next time for a tiny extra bit of heat.  Also, I would save the dark green ends of the leek for garnish......slice very, very thinly.  But make sure they're propped on top of the soup to make it easier to remove.   It is too tough to eat and to be used only as a garnish.


1 cup sliced leeks (white portion only)
1 celery rib, chopped
1 1/2 tsp butter
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups cubed peeled Yukon Gold or red potatoes
1 large carrot, chopped
1 1/2 tsp fresh or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
S&P to taste
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp snipped fresh or 1/2 tsp dried dill
herb potato chips and finely shredded leeks, optional

In a large saucepan, saute leeks and celery in butter until tender.  Stir in the broth, potatoes, carrot, thyme, S&P.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Cool slightly.

Transfer to a blender; cover and process until smooth.  Return to the pan.  Whisk a small amount of soup into buttermilk; return all to the pan, stirring constantly.  Add dill; heat through (do not boil).  Garnish if desired.  Yield: 3 3/4 cups.

Recipe Source:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Buttermilk Lime Shortbread Bars

I have made I-don't know-how-many lemon bars, but had never even thought of making lime bars until I ran across this recipe some time ago.  I always increased the amount of lemon juice in my lemon bars because I want them tart!  However, I started with the original recipe on this one only substituting this bottled lime juice or freshly-squeezed.

I gotta say, I never would have even considered using a bottled juice, but this recipe calls for 1/2 cup of juice and when I went to the grocery stores, small, hard (meaning not very juicy) limes were selling for 3 for $2.  It would have cost me a small fortune to get 1/2 cup of juice out of them.  One of the resident foodies suggested using this....not that concentrated stuff you find in the produce department.  I found it in the juice aisle and I gotta tell you, after using this, if I need more than a few teaspoons, I would definitely turn to this. 

These bars came out with just enough tartness to make your face twinge!  The zest gave it an extra depth of flavor to kind of take out a bit of the sourness.  The shortbread crust was a wonderful hardness to hold the gel.  Just be sure that the lime filling is set and doesn't jiggle when removing from the oven.  You'll want it to hold its shape.

BUTTERMILK LIME SHORTBREAD BARS (16-24 bars or so, whatever size you choose to cut the bars)

1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (8 Tbsp) butter, cold, but into 8 pieces

4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup lime juice
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp vanilla extract

Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350F.

For the crust, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract.  Sprinkle the butter pieces over the top of the dry mixture and using a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers, cut the butter into the dry mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Pour the mixture into the bottom of a 9x9" pan and press the crust firmly to form an even layer.  Bake the crust for 16-17 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling by whisking together all of the filling ingredients in a large bowl until evenly combined.  Pour the filling mixture over the hot crust when it comes out of the oven and return to the oven to bake for 18-20 minutes, until the filling is set (it will not jiggle if the pan is shaken slightly).

Cool the bars in the pan completely before dusting with powdered sugar, slicing, and serving.  These bars also taste excellent after they have been chilled.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sausage Mushroom Alfredo Pasta

First of all, let me reiterate.....I am not a food stylist or a very good photographer.  Now, with that out of the way, let me just say, I am pretty good at finding recipes that I just love.

I really do try to keep my pasta dishes down to just a few per month (I have absolutely given up the whole wheat version, yuckkk!!!!) because of the simple carb thing.  But I do loves me pasta!  So if I'm going to make it, it has to be good.

So for me, this is one of the best.  Italian sausage, mushrooms, alfredo sauce.  And outside of the non-complex carb thing, this can be one of those not-that-bad-for-you pasta dishes.  Use turkey sausage and prepared alfredo sauces (which have really come down in calories and fat....I used Emeril's Roasted Garlic which has only 60 calories and 4 grams of fat for 1/4 cup).

I served it with a Caesar salad and a whole-grain baguette.  Perfection.


1 large leek, white part only, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 links milk Italian sausage (8 oz)
2 Tbsp EVOO, divided
8 oz rigatoni pasta
8 oz fresh sliced baby portabella mushrooms
1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth
1 (15 oz) jar roasted garlic Alfredo sauce
2 oz deli mushroom and leek (available at Publix, or use plain) Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Bring water to boil for pasta.  Chop leek (white part only, 1 cup); chop parsley.

Remove sausage casing; cut almost in half (butterfly); turn sausage over and peel casing away (wash hands).  Preheat large saute pan on medium-high 3-4 minutes, stirring to crumble meat, or until no pink remains.  Meanwhile, cook pasta following package directions.

Remove sausage from pan.  Add remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil to same saute pan, then add mushrooms and leeks, cook and stir 3-4 minutes or until tender.

Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in wine, simmer 2-3 minutes or until reduced by one-half.

Stir in Alfredo sauce; bring to a simmer.  Meanwhile, shred cheese (1/2 cup) into sauce, whisk until melted.  Stir in pasta and sausage, cook and stir 1 minute.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Recipe Source:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Asparagus Soup

When I was in Oklahoma City, I found asparagus for $.98/lb!!!  I have never seen asparagus so low (thank you Sprouts Farmers Market).  So I made this big batch of asparagus (I froze half of it).  It does make a lot, so you might want to half the recipe.  Perfect as a simple lunch or dinner with some crusty bread and/or a green salad.

ASPARAGUS SOUP (8-12 servings)

3 pounds fresh aspargus, rinsed (don't throw out the ends)
8 cups chicken stock
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup minced shallots
1 cup minced leeks, whites only, well rinsed
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/14 cup finely grated Parmesan, garnish

Trim the attractive top tips from the asparagus, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in length.  Cut the woody stem ends from each spear and reserve.  Cut the remaining tender stalks into 1/2" pieces.

In a medium pot, bring the stock to a boil.  Add the tough woody stems, lower the heat and simmer to infuse with asparagus flavor, 20-30 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and discard, reserving the stock.

Add the decorative tips to the stock and blanch until tender, 1 to 1/2  minutes.  Remove with a strainer and refresh in an ice water bath.  Drain on paper towels and reserve for the garnish.  Reserve the stock.

In a medium stockpot, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  When foamy, add the shallots and leeks and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the chopped asparagus stalks, S&P, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.  Add the reserved broth and simmer until the asparagus are very tender, 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

With a hand-immersion blender or in batches in a food processor or blender, puree the soup until smooth.  Adjust the seasoning, to taste.  If serving right away, return to medium heat and add the cream and reserved asparagus tips (save a few for garnish).  Cook, stirring, until the soup is warmed through, about 3 mintues.

Alternatively, if serving the soup later or freezing, do not add the cream and let cool at room temp (or in an ice water bath).  Cover and refrigerate or freeze.  Before serving, add the cream and asparagus tips, and warm the soup gently over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

To serve, place the soup in a tureen and sprinkle with cheese.  Ladle into demi-tasse cups or small coffee or tea cups, and serve.

Recipe Source:

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Zesty Slow-Cooker Chicken BBQ

Looking for easy-peasy fast-and-easy?  Here you go!  Drop a couple of frozen chicken breasts into your crock pot along with just 4 other ingredients, get some cole slaw and hamburger buns and you are set to go!  Quick, easy, yummy.


6 frozen chicken breast halves
1 (12 oz) BBQ sauce, your choice
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Place chicken in a slow cooker.  In a bowl, mix the BBQ sauce, Italian salad dressing, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce.  Pour over the chicken.

Cover, and cook 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Buttermilk Pie

Hello again everyone!  So glad you're stopping by.  Thank you for your patience during my absence.  It was difficult, long week with an exhausting one-day 850-mile drive on each end.  But I was lucky to spend the week with my very sweet mother and, as a bonus, I was able to spend the day with part of my OKC Bombing family, Sharon and Dallas.

While I wasn't able to persuade Sharon and Dallas to let me take them out to lunch, I was lucky enough to be able to sit down to an incredible dinner which she prepared.  She made a wonderful roast (Cattleman's of OKC!) with mashed potatoes, carrots (yummmm), salad and this incredible buttermilk pie.  Many years ago, I used to get a chess pie which, I believe, is pretty close to this recipe.  But Sharon's pie was extraordinary.  And for a person who doesn't have a sweet tooth, that's about as good as praise as you can get.

It's kind of a consistency of a lemon custard in a meringue pie.  I actually tried cooking this for the first time while in OKC, but I believe the oven I was using may have been at a higher temp because it came out solid at the lowest cooking time.  But I also used butter instead of margarine (I'm not a foot scientist, so I have no idea what the different cooking properties these two have, but the second pie came out perfectly with the margarine).  I was a bit gun-shy, so I lowered the temp when I cooked it tonight, but it ended up taking much longer.  So given that I know my oven is calibrated at the correct temp, these directions should work for you.

Along with yeast, I have given up on trying to make a homemade piecrust.  But Sharon, bless her heart, gave me the thumbs up on using the refrigerated, roll-it-out-yourself piecrust.  If you are a good piecrust maker, hats off to you, knock yourself out.  If you're a wuss like me, feel secure in knowing your pie will still come out wonderfully.  Just make sure your oven is set at the correct temp (you can buy one of those hanging thermometers at Wal-Mart for about $5) and start checking the pie at 45 minutes.  The pie filling should be brown and blistered a tiny bit (providing a wonderful crunchy top) and there will be a slight jiggle to the pie when you gently shift the pie pan (I also used a pie ring for the last 15 minutes that fits around the edge to keep the crust from can find them at Bed Bath and Beyond and other kitchen suppliers like the big box stores).  I think the secret is to get the top to that perfect, crusty, brown top while the pie is not completely set, as it will set as it cools on the wire rack.

BUTTERMILK PIE (6-8 servings)

1 7/8 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp table salt
1 stick melted margarine, slightly cooled
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk

Mix sugar, flour, and salt in one bowl.  In another, whisk together eggs, cooled margarine, vanilla, and buttermilk.  Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients.

Pour into unbaked pie shell.  Bake at 350F for 45-60 minutes.  Let cool and come to room temp on a wire rack.  Keep remaining pie refrigerated.

Recipe Source: (my friend, Sharon Davis, via Junior Hospitality Club, Inc. cookbook, Oklahoma City, OK, 1974)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Autumn Sweet Potato Smoothie

I don't want you to think I'm going all rogue on you with a bunch of smoothie recipes....unless they're just really unique and exceptional, I'll keep the basics to myself.

This one is definitely unique and exceptional!  My favorite so far.  I actually had everything on hand (still hand some cranberries in the freezer from the holidays) except the dates, which I omitted.  But the flavor is incredible!  And this tiny bit of ginger really comes through.

Again, I am amazed at the Vitamix.  I threw in the whole batch of grapes with the stems!  The cranberries were completely pulverized and the smoothie was, well, smooth.  Whoever came up with this weird list of ingredient hit a gold mine.

On a personal note:  I will be leaving here on Saturday to visit my ailing Alzheimer's mom in Oklahoma City for the week, so I'll be out of touch for a while.  I will be taking my camera and if we come up with some yummy new recipe to share with you, I'll post it while I'm away.  Otherwise, I'll see you in a few weeks.  Please do check back and don't forget me!

AUTUMN SWEET POTATO SMOOTHIE (makes 3 1/2 cups, about two 16-ounce servings)

1 1/3 cups (200 g) red grapes (stems removed if using traditional blender)
1/2 medium orange, peeled
1/2 cup (100 g) cooked, peeled sweet potato
1/2 medium apple, 4 oz (114 g), halved (seeded if using a traditional blender)
1/2 tsp chopped fresh ginger root
2 pitted dates
1/4 cup (25 g) frozen cranberries
2 cups (480 ml) ice cubes

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

Select low speed.

Turn machine on and then switch to High speed.

Blend for 1 minute, using the tamper to press the ingredients into the blades.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Death by Chocolate 7-Layer Bars

It's hard to believe these bars are calorie- and fat-free!  And if you believe that, there's this bridge over there in Brooklyn, New York I'd like to talk with you about selling.

OK, so these are just on the right-edge of complete decadence.  Outside of the vanilla, each and every ingredient is chalk-full of fat and calories.  These are to be served in small bites or you will make yourself sick!  But in a happy way.

So for a special treat for yourself every once in a while, give these a try.  They're really easy to make.

DEATH by CHOCOLATE 7-LAYER BARS (makes one 13x9" pan)

2 1/4 cup chocolate cookie crumbs (about a 10 ounce package of chocolate cookies or can use chocolate Teddy Grahams or chocolate graham crackers)
8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, melted
1/4 tsp vanilla extract


1 cup milk, semi-sweet, or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup toffee bits (found in the baking aisle along with the chocolate chips, I bought Heath-Bar brand)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 cup Nutella
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a 13x9" aluminum or glass pan with foil and generously grease with cooking spray.

In a bowl, toss together the cookie crumbs, butter, and vanilla until the mixture is combined.  Press it evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan (the bottom of a dry measuring cup can really help get the crumbs into an even layers).

Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the crust followed by the toffee bits, white chocolate chips, and coconut.

Spoon teaspoonfuls of the Nutella in little dollops over the bars (I microwaved the Nutella for 45 seconds and then used a fork to drizzle it over the bars).

Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk back and forth evenly over the bars.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the edges are golden.

Let the bars cool completely in the pan before removing the foil to a rack to remove the foil.  Place on baking sheet or large pan and cut into small serving squares.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Shrimp Scampi (20 Minute Meal)

We are fish/seafood people here in this home.  I only throw in chicken here and there for a change.  But if it were up to me, fish would be just about the only protein served here.  And at the top of the list for versitility, cost, taste, would have to be shrimp.

Shrimp has been my favorite since as long as I can remember.  Growing up in Oklahoma, we were fish folks, so any type of seafood was a real treat for me. I remember going to just about the only restauraunt in the 60's devoted to seafood (Zeider Zee) for their "all you can eat peeled shrimp" and my father watching in amazement seeing how much shrimp a grade-school girl could put away.

I haven't made shrimp scampi in quite a while because the last time I made it, it was a bust.  You know....once bitten, twice shy.  And I don't know why.  This is the most basic of all shrimp dishes and oh so easy.  But somehow I messed up that last batch.  Really, how much easier can you get than shrimp, butter, lemon, garlic, and parsley.

I think the only rule here is to use a medium/large sized shrimp (either a 21/25 for 26/30 size).  No need to go any larger and certainly don't go smaller.  Serve it with some crusty baguette to sop up that lucious sauce.  Make some buttered pasta (with olive oil, butter, and garlic with some freshly chopped parsley and grated parmesan) and maybe some steamed asparagus for a complete meal.

SHRIMP SCAMPI (2 servings)

1/2 Tbsp EVOO
2 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp bottled clam juice
S&P to taste
12 to 16 oz large shrimp (21/25 or 26/30), peeled and deveined
1 Tbsp cold butter
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
lemon wedges, for serving

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat until rippling.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds or so (don't let it burn.....if it does, throw it out and start over).  Add the clam juice and S&P.  Bring the mixture to a boil.

Add the shrimp, cover and cook until the shrimp are pink and just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes, stirring once about halfway through.

Sccop the shrimp out of the pan using a slotted spoon and reserve on a large plate or platter.  Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 1-2 minutes until the mixture is slightly reduced.

Whisk in the butter until melted.  Stir in the lemon juice and parsley.  Serve with addtional S&P to taste, if needed.  Pour the sauce over the shrimp.  Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan

Does it get any easier than this?  4 ingredients, 5 minutes prep time, 30 minutes baking.  Voila.  Dinner is ready.

I've always eaten/made chicken parmesan using chicken breasts.  I don't know about you, but I've eaten so many chicken breasts that no matter the recipe, every once in a while you need a change.  Chicken breasts really came onto the scene some time ago when folks starting looking for lower fat/calorie meals.  But really, the difference is pretty moderate, especially when the skin is removed.   Breasts are only slightly higher in protein and while the a 3 ounce serving has 7 grams of fat, the thigh has 13.  Remove the skin and lower it even more.  Calories, too, are only slightly higher for the thigh (210) versus for the breast (170).

Since the winter froze all of my basil, I used prepared pesto in a jar which worked just fine.  But to me the big difference in this recipe is using fresh mozzarella.  You could certainly used shredded mozzarella in a pinch, but it will never have the pull that comes with the fresh version.

I made potatoe wedges because they cooked at the same temp and time as the chicken (cut a baking potato in half lengthwise and then cut each half into four wedges).  And served with a simple Caesar salad.


1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (could use chicken breasts pounded thin and then cut in half)
1/3 cup pesto
1 cup marinara sauce
8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced

Preheat oven to 400F.  Season chicken thighs with S&P then add to an 8x8" or 9x12" baking dish.  Add pesto then use your hands to evenly coat.  Spoon marinara sauce over the top of the thighs followed by the mozzarella cheese then cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove foil then bake for 10 more minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and cheese is golden brown and bubbly.