Thursday, February 26, 2015

Winter comes to SE Tennessee!!!

Winter finally struck SE Tennessee!!!  And it was lovely.  We got 7 or 8".  The three smaller dogs had snow up to their bellies and everyone had a grand time!

I'm waiting to find out if Jim is going to be able to make it home this weekend.  The storm went from here east through North Carolina.  Hopefully roads will be safe to drive on.  We're getting into the low 40's today so lots of melting and then freezing overnight.

And even though Muffin is nearly 16-years-old, she still has a lot of "gitty-up and go" in her, especially when it gets cold.  She loves burying her snout in the snow and rolling around.  She loved the Minnesota winters.  She's such fun to watch....I do love my little buddy!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Lasagna Soup Insalata

Honestly, if Publix doesn't quit demo-ing such wonderful recipes, I'm never going to get around to my cookbook project!

I was in on Friday and just happened to catch a tasting of this soup.  We've had such a mild winter this year that I just haven't done many soups, my favorite thing to cook. Well, I took my sample with me and halfway home I almost turned around to buy all the stuff I needed to make it, but decided not to.  Big Mistake!  I thought about it all night and Saturday morning, with the potential of icy roads, I headed off to Publix to pick everything up!

As with all Publix's recipes, these are quick and easy recipes with easily-found ingredients. I've added photos of the pasta and greens I used, but you could certainly use another type of pasta, like tortellini.  Also, Publix sells their own brand of this Baby Kale salad, but you could simply chop up some kale to add to the soup (but don't skip on the the garlic vinaigrette, it's a nice touch).

Serve with on a cold night with a crusty baguette or artisan bread and you are set!


1 lb mild or hot Italian sausage (regular or turkey), casing removed 
1/2 cup baby-cut carrots, coarsely chopped
8 oz trinity mix (diced onions, bell peppers, celery)
1 (24 oz) pasta sauce
1 (32 oz) carton unsalted chicken broth
1/4 cup sun-dried tomato pesto
1 (9 oz) package mini-cheese ravioli
1 (8 oz) baby kale salad kit (baby greens, fontina cheese, dried flatbread, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic vinaigrette) or chopped kale and garlic vinaigrette, other ingredients optional
6 Tbsp part-skim ricotta cheese

Preheat large stockpot 2-3 minutes on medium-high heat.  Brown sausage 5-7 minutes, stirring to crumble meat, or until no pink remains.  Chop carrots. Stir carrots and trinity mix into sausage; cook and stir 4 minutes.

Reduce heat on pan to medium-low.  Stir in pasta sauce, broth, and pesto; simmer 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until hot.

Stir pasta into soup; cook 4-5 minutes or until pasta is tender.  Meanwhile, chop salad greens.

Divide soup into serving bowls.  Top each bowl with 1/3 cup salad greens, then sprinkle with salad toppings, and drizzle with dressing.  Finish with 1 Tbsp ricotta cheese and serve.

Recipe Source:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Kung Pao Shrimp or Chicken

OK, not my best photo but definitely a wonderful recipe!  And another "oh-so-easy!"

I had just happened to pick up a jar of Chinese five-spice powder a while back and had never used it (a mixture of star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, and fennel seeds).  I will say, if you are going to make this recipe, splurge! and buy a jar.  It has such a unique flavor and really makes the difference.

I halved the recipe since there was just the two of us.  Too bad.  We both would have eaten more and it would have been nice to have had leftovers!

I served it over rice with a couple of potstickers on the side.


1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, or 1 pound of skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized cubes
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder\
1 tsp oyster sauce (found in the Asian aisle of your local grocer)
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp sesame chili oil (I used 1/2 part sesame oil and 1/2 part chili oil)
1 small sweet onion, sliced
1 sweet pepper (red, yellow, orange), sliced
2 tsp grated or finely minced fresh garlic
2 cups snow peas, trimmed (cut in half on the diagonal, if desired)
2 Tbsp chopped peanuts, or more to taste

In a small bowl, toss the shrimp or chicken with the five-spice powder and cornstarch.  In another small bowl, mix the oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar, and 2 Tbsp water.

In a large skillet, heat the sesame chili oil over medium-high.  Add the onion, pepper, ginger, and 1 Tbsp water and stir-fry until vegetables are softened, 2-3 minutes.  Add the shrimp and cook 2 minutes (if using chicken, saute the chicken first and then the vegetables).  Add the snow peas and sauce.  Cook until the shrimp are opaque in the center and the sauce thickens, 2-3 minutes.  Garnish with the peanuts.

Recipe Source: Everyday with Rachel Ray, March 2015, Supplement insert, p. 6

Monday, February 16, 2015

Vegetable Curry

Oh, it's so nice to be back in the kitchen!  An added bonus: I was able to use stuff overloading my fridge, freezer, and pantry.

You may have seen these sauce cubes in the ethnic aisle of your grocery store.  A friend introduced me to these many years ago.  They have a mild and a hot version, but the don't let the "hot" fool you.  It's got a bit of heat to it, but (in my opinion)  it's just right.

This is so very easy and a wonderful use of vegetables that are looking for a home.  Use up what you have....there are no set rules.  Serve it over a bed of rice.  Cook vegetables according to how much time they need (onions and carrots first, softer vegetables like zucchini and squash later).  But for a reference, this is what I used:

1 medium sweet onion, diced
6-8 oz button mushrooms, sliced or quartered
12-16 baby carrots, cut in half
1 1/2- 2 1/2 cups water
4.2 oz S&B Golden Curry sauce mix (mild or hot version)
1 medium zucchini, cubed large
1 medium crookneck sauce, cubed large
12 oz bag of broccoli and cauliflower (or about 1/4 head of califlower, broken into florets and 2 broccoli crowns, broken into florets)
1/2 red pepper, diced large
1/2-1 cup raw peanuts
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables, or sprinkle in some frozen peas and corn
shrimp, optional (I used small shrimp this time: 60/80s, those shells in the freezer for some wonderful shrimp stock)

This is a "fly-by-your-seat" instruction list.  It's going to depend on what vegetables and protein (if using) you choice to use.  This is what I used tonight and in what order:

Saute onions, mushrooms, and carrots for about 7-8 minutes on medium heat until carrots start to soften.  Add water (it will depend on how thick or runny you like your sauce....I used 2 1/2 cups) and curry cubes.  Bring to a boil.

Lower heat.  Add zucchini, squash, pepper, cauliflower, and broccoli.  Cook until vegetables are to the tenderness of your liking.  I added the raw peanuts and small shrimp in the last few minutes (if you are using larger shrimp, they will take a few more minutes. If you want to use beef, pork, or chicken strips, saute these first, and then add the onion, mushrooms, and carrots and continue from there).

NOTE:  This is a one-dish meal.  You'll have your starch, vegetables, and protein, no side dishes needed.  And P.S.  Heat this up in the microwave for a fabulous breakfast!

Also, winter finally arrived here in SE Tennessee, so I can finally make chili!  Plus, Jim is home this week so I'm busy cooking and baking.  It's so good to be back.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Heart-Shaped Carrots

Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

Thanks to my sweetheart, I am able to post photos again.  Hopefully, he'll be able to help me load photos on previous posts that are wtihout pics.

But, at least for this one I was able to show you, albeit a wee bit late, a lovely idea for your sweetheart.....Valentine's Day or any special day.  I made the soup with 6 oz of mini penne (3-4 oz would have been ample), but you can see a step-by-step pictorial at www.
Actually, I found many heart-shaped food ideas on this website.  How do people become so creative???

Monday, February 2, 2015

Still Here!

Hi Friends!

Thanks so much for your patience!

I've haven't made anything new in the last few weeks....just some repeats: chili, lots of  soups, salads, and sandwiches, wings for the Big Game and basically just (as usual) trying to clean out my freezer!  I promise once Jim gets home, I've got a boatload of new dishes to try. 

Please stay tuned!  I'll keep you posted as to my progress and hope to be back in the kitchen for new stuff within the month.