Friday, April 29, 2016

Chicken Enchilada Pasta

OK, you need to put this on your menu this week!  This dish is so good!  

Creamy pasta with Tex-Mex flavors.  Meal-in-one.  Easy peasy.  Really....this will easily win a spot on your frequent dinner rotation.


1 cup cooked chicken
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 garlic clove, finely minced
3/4 cup (about 1/2 medium) onion
1/2 red pepperm duced
1/2 can (2 oz) diced green chiles
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 (10 oz) can green enchilada sauce (I used mild)
1/3 cup red enchilada sauce (I used mild)
1/2 can large black olives, cut in half, or about 1/3 cup sliced black olives
1/2 cup sour cream (I used reduced-fat)
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
5-8 oz penne pasta (I use less for a "saucier" pasta)
diced tomatoes, optional
green onions, optional
tortilla chips, optional
chopped parsley or cilantro, optional

Bring a pot of water to boil.  Cook the pasta until tender.  While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet and add the onion.  Cook 2-3 minutes until onion is translucent.  Add the garlic and red pepper and cook for another 2 minutes, until pepper is barely tender.  Add the cooked chicken, green chiles, spices, enchilada sauces, and olives.

Let the sauce simmer for about 8-10 minutes.  Add the sour cream and cheese and heat through, until the cheese is melted (but don't boil).

Pour the sauce over the hot pasta.  Garnish with extra sour cream, cheese, diced tomatoes, green onions, tortilla chips, and/or parsley if desired.

Recipe Source:

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Tilapia Parmesan

Talk about being bad about thinking outside the box.  I never would have thought of this dish and what a shame!  It's absolutely delicious!

Fish with marinara, mozzarella, fresh basil over pasta.  I served it with a Caprese Salad for the perfect, complete meal.


2 Tbsp coconut oil or EVOO
4 mild white fish fillets (tilapia, swai, etc), about 4 oz each
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup AP flour
1/4 cup +2 Tbsp grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup marinara sauce (or your favorite pasta sauce)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
cooked pasta (I used angel hair)

In a shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, flour, 1/4 cup Parmesan, S&P, and garlic powder.  In a separate bowl, beat the 2 eggs.

Dip the fish into the eggs and then into the bread crumb mixture, pressing down to make sure both sides are coated well.  Set aside breaded fillets on a plate.

Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet.

Once oil is hot, place all of the fish into the skillet at once.  Cook on each side 3-5 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Spoon 2-3 Tbsp of marinara sauce on top of the cooked fish and top with mozzarella and remaining 2 Tbsp of Parmesan cheese.

Remove from heat and cover with a lid to melt the cheese.  Serve atop cooked pasta (if using) topped with chopped basil.

Recipe Source:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Honey Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Don't you just love it when you happen to have everything on hand for a quick, delicious dinner?   This is about as easy as it gets.  And it's a meal-in-one.  No need to come up with side dishes.

You can easily adjust the honey and soy sauce amounts to suit your tastes.  I think I'll add a bit more of each next time to ramp up the salty/sweetness of this dish.  The original recipe calls for peanuts, but cashews would be great also.


1 1/4 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts or thighs
1 tsp salt
black pepper
4 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/3 honey, more or less to taste
3 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce, more or less to taste
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp EVOO
4 cups broccoli florets
1 yellow or sweet onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cups cooked long-grain white (or brown) rice
1/2 cup cashews or dry-roasted salted peanuts, optional

Cut chicken into 1" pieces and toss in a medium bowl with salt, pepper, and cornstarch.

In a small bowl, stir together broth, honey, soy sauce, and crushed red pepper.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high.  Cook chicken until lightly browned, 3-4 minutes.  Add vegetables and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until vegetables are soft, 3-4 minutes.

Add broth mixture to pan.  Toss well; bring to a boil over high heat.  Cook 1 minute to thicken sauce.  Serve with cooked rice and top with nuts, if using.

Recipe Source:  Relish Magazine, April 2016, p. 14

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Oklahoma City 21 Years Later

The Oklahoma City Bombing: A Look Back

It is so hard for me to believe that just 21 years ago today I stood on the 21st floor of the First National Building in downtown Oklahoma City and watched the east side of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building blow out.  And then wait for eight agonizing days before the body of my sweet brother, Paul, was recovered.

If you are ever near Oklahoma City, I hope you'll stop at the beautifully developed memorial so many worked on to never let anyone forget this awful event and to always remember all those we lost and all those who helped us.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Pasta Rustico with Turkey Sausage

When I first saw this recipe it looked quintessentially autumn-ish.  But I had every ingredient on hand and decided to try it.  With the fresh peppers and spinach and Italian turkey sausage,  it's a light alternative to heavy, red meat based sauces.  It's a perfect one-dish meal weeknight meal.


8 oz pound regular or whole wheat penne pasta
1/2 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 pound Italian turkey sausage links, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 tsp freshly minced garlic
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 1/2 oz fresh spinach leaves
grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly-salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook 8-10 minutes, just until al-dente.  Save 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sausage and cook until evenly browned and cooked throughout.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Add onion, peppers, garlic, and Italian seasoning to the empty pan and cook until onions are translucent, about 3-4 minutes.

Return sausage to the pan and cook 2-3 minutes, just until fully reheated throughout.  Add spinach, S&P, and reserved pasta water to the pan and immediately remove from heat.  Stir until  all is combined.

Serve the sausage mixture smothered over pasta and topped with the grated Parmesan cheese.

Recipe Source:  "Choose This!" by Chris Freytag, 2011, p. 112

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Caprese Sandwiches

I am so bad about thinking outside of the box and am always thrilled to find a simple, simple way to change a favorite dish which makes it a favorite Part II.

Whenever I find a truly good tomato, a Caprese salad always jumps to the top of the list of how I want to use it.  And so a Caprese sandwich.....why not?

One'll need a hearty bread otherwise you're going to a soggy mess (you'll still need extra napkins, though).  But so simple: tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil on a quality roll.  You'll be making these all summer long.


6 whole wheat or other hearty rolls
2 Tbsp EVOO
2 tsp minced garlic
1/8 tsp each S&P
1 large tomato, cut into 6 slices
12 fresh basil leaves
8 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 6 slices
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey

Preheat broiler to high.  Separate rolls and place all 12 halves onto a sheet pan.

Combine olive oil, garlic, S&P and then lightly spread mixture onto the insides of all 12 halves of bread (see note below).

Top the bottom halves of the rolls with a slice of the tomato, 2 basil leaves, and slice of mozzarella cheese, in the order.

Position sheet pan about 6" from the broiler and cook 3-4 minutes, just until cheese is bubbling and buns are beginning to brown.

Meanwhile, combine vinegar and honey (see note below).  Remove the sheet pan from the oven and lightly drizzle vinegar mixture over the melted mozzarella cheese.

Place each top bun into place to complete the sandwiches.  Serve immediately.

NOTES:  Instead of mixing the olive oil, garlic, & S&P in the 2nd paragraph, I used some prepared, jarred basil pesto mix.

Instead of mixing the vinegar and honey in the 5th paragraph, I used some bottled balsamic glaze I had on hand.

Recipe Source:  "Choose This!" by Chris Freytag, 2011, p. 49

Friday, April 15, 2016

Lemon and Tarragon Whitefish

I picked a new cookbook a few weeks ago for a song not expecting too much.  So wrong!  I've made several recipes which have all turned out wonderfully.  And they're all really easy using a minimum of ingredients.

Given that we do eat a lot of fish in our home, this is a great, basic, but certainly delicious entree.  Steam some asparagus, serve with rice or quinoa and dinner is served.


2 tsp EVOO
1 1/2 pounds whitefish fillets (tilapia, Swai, cod, halibut, etc)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp butter

Heat oil in large skillet over medium to medium-high heat.

Pat fish dry with paper towel and season lightly with S&P.

Add seasoned fish to the hot pan and sear until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. The fish is done when it easily flakes with a fork.  Remove from pan and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Whisk white wine, lemon juice, and minced garlic into the pan to start to sauce.  Let simmer 2 minutes before adding tarragon and lemon zest.  Let simmer 1 additional minute.

Remove sauce from heat and stir in butter, S&P.  Toss fish in sauce before serving drizzled with additional sauce.

Recipe Source:  "Choose This!" by Chris Freytag, 2011, p. 142

Friday, April 8, 2016

Lemon Blueberry Cake with Whipped Lemon Cream Frosting

This is really a lovely spring/summer cake.  The tartness of the lemon and the sweetness of the blueberries make a delicious treat.

I hope you'll look at the recipe link below as Mel has added some interesting notes about the blueberries and frosting ratio (I decreased it by a third), not to mention better photos!

FYI:  I'm going out of town this weekend and will be gone next week.  See you soon.


Cake ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temp
1 3/4 cups (13 oz) granulated sugar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon zest
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups (12.5 oz) AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3 juicy lemons)
2 cups (12 oz) fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw if frozen)
2 Tbsp AP flour

Whipped Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting ingredients:
12 oz cream cheese, softened to room temp
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temp
4 1/2 cups (18 oz) powdered sugar
1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Fresh lemon slices
Fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line the bottom of two 9" (I used three 8") round cake pans with at least 2" sides with parchment or wax paper and coat with nonstick cooking spray.  Set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer (or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), cream together the butter, sugar, and lemon zest until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes (don't cut down the time on this step).

Add the eggs and vanilla until well-combined, 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.  Stir the dry mixture into the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined and a few dry streaks remain.

Add the buttermilk and lemon juice to the batter and stir by hand, folding the batter until just combined.

In another bowl, toss the blueberries with the 2 Tbsp of flour.  Add the blueberries and remnants of flour to the batter and fold in by hand with a spatula or wooden spoon until just-combined.  Overmixing may result  in a tough, dry cake.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes until just baked through.  The top will spring back lightly to the touch and toothpick inserted in the center should come out with most crumbs but not wet batter.

Let the cakes cool 5-10 minutes in the pans before turning them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the frosting, whip the cream cheese and butter together with a handheld electric mixer or with an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Add the powdered sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice and mix on low speed (so the powdered sugar doesn't  fly everywhere) until combined.  Increase the speed to medium and mix until creamy, 1-2 minutes.  Add the heavy cream and whip the frosting until very light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.

When the cake has cooled  completely, place one round on a platter or plate and spread the top evenly with frosting.  Place the other cake round upside down on the frosting and press just lightly.  Continue frosting with a thin spatula or offset spatula until the top and sides of the cake are evenly frosted.  Garnish with blueberries and lemon slices, if desired.

NOTE:  This cake, once frosted, lasts very well in the refrigerator for several days (can be made up to two days in advance before serving.....tastes better chilled, also, or serve at room temp).

Recipe Source:

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Chicken Shawarma Fries with Mediterranean Salsa and Garlic Sauce

Chicken Shawarma, where have you been all my life?  I'd never even heard of you when I stumbled across you on one of my favorite food blogs.

This plate is amazing!!!  I was really leery of it because I don't care for soggy fries.  But somehow this just works.  It's a wonderful combination of flavors, textures, and colors.

It's a one-plate meal with all of the components able to be made ahead so it goes together very quickly and easily.  I cut this recipe in half for the two of us and there were no leftovers.


For the Chicken:
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup EVOO, divided
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried turmeric
1/2 tsp allspice
pinch cinnamon
pinch cayenne pepper
3 cloves garlic, smashed then peeled
1 lb chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized strips
1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes (about 2 large potatoes)
hot sauce

For the Mediterranean Salsa:
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded then chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, then chopped (don't seed if using pickling tomatoes)
1/4 small red onion, minced
1/4 cup packed parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp dried oregano
juice of 1/2-1 lemon

For the Garlic Sauce:
1/2 cup mayo
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, smashed

Add lemon juice, 2 Tbsp EVOO, spices, and smashed garlic cloves to a large Ziplock bag then squish to combine.  Add chicken, squish to coat, then marinate for 1 hour or up to 12 hours in the fridge.

Slice potatoes into fries.  Can be cut cup to 12 hours ahead of time, store completely submerged in a glass bowl of water in the fridge, then drain and pat very dry with kitchen towels.

Preheat oven to 400F then line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray.  Spread chicken out on the baking sheet then bake for 6-10 minutes, or until cooked through, flipping and/or stirring halfway through.  Remove, cover with foiil to keep warm.

Turn heat up to 425F then line another baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray.  Add potatoes to baking sheet then drizzle with remaining 2 Tbsp EVOO and season generously with S&P.  Toss with your fingers to coat then spread potatoes out evenly and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring halfway through.

Meanwhile, combine ingredients for Mediterranean Salsa in a bowl then stir to combine and set aside.  Add all ingredients for Garlic Sauce into a food processor or blender then process until very smooth (both of these steps can be done ahead of time).

Scoop fries onto a serving platter or plates then top with chicken, Mediterranean Salsa, Garlic Sauce, and hot sauce, and them serve immediately.

See the recipe source for step-by-step instructions and more photos: Recipe Source:

Sunday, April 3, 2016

White Chocolate Macamadia Nut Cookies with Lime

A few weeks ago when I made the Key Lime Pie, I had a couple of limes leftover.  I also had some macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips in my freezer which needed to be used.  So I decided to make the traditional WC Mac Cookies but thought the limes would be a nice addition.

I zested two of the Key Limes and tasted the batter.  I could barely taste the lime so I had a regular Persian lime which I zested and added to the batter for a more prominent lime flavor, but not strong.  

After baking, however, the lime flavor was again a bit faint (although the taste results in a great white chocolate macadamia cookies).

So if you want to add lime to to the recipe, you'll need to experiment to your taste.  Personally, I would start with the zest of 2-3 Persian limes.  Taste the batter as you go along.  I'd probably add some lime juice to it also.  I will suggest tweaking the recipe until the batter is just a twinge past tart.  The tartness will dissipate a bit while baking.


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 cups AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup macadamia nuts
Lime zest and juice to taste, optional

Preheat oven to 375F.

Cream together butter and sugars until fluffy.  Add the vanilla and eggs until well combined.

Stir in the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until just combined (be careful not to over-stir the batter).  Add the white chocolate chips, macadamia nuts, and the zest and/or juice of limes, if using.

Chill dough in refrigerator for at least a couple of hours (I generally make my dough one day and bake the next).  

Drop by rounded Tablespoons onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat, placing them about 2" apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes (for softer cookies remove from the oven when the edges start to turn golden.  Leave a little longer for crispier cookies.)

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Chocolate Chiffon Cake

Chocolate Chiffon Cake Recipe

Once again, not my photo.  I made this cake for new neighbors and forgot to take a picture.  What a shame.  It had come out beautifully, a big feat for me as my cakes always seem to have a kind of divet out of it that always needs to be covered by icing.  I also didn't get to taste it, but I will say the batter was mighty tasty.

I also finished a bit differently.  I covered half of the top of the cake with a paper towel and simply sprinkled powdered sugar over that half.  I finished the other half with the glaze (I don't like too much sweetness and generally leave it off or just use a small drizzle of glaze).  Then I sprinkle fresh raspberries around the edges and on top.  It was so pretty!

Chiffon cakes take a tad bit more time, basically because it's imperative that you sift the flour mixture multiple times (I did it 5 times) to make sure you have a light and airy batter.  Hence the "chiffon."

CHOCOLATE CHIFFON CAKE (makes a 10" tube-pan cake)

7 eggs, separated
1/2 cup baking cocoa
3/4 cup boiling water
1 3/4 cup cake flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1/3 cup butter
2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 Tbsp hot water
chopped nuts or fresh raspberries, optional

Let eggs stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  In a bowl, combine cocoa and water until smooth; cool for 20 minutes.  In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Sift several times. 

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, oil, and vanilla.  Add to dry ingredients along with the cocoa mixture.  Beat until well blended. 

In another bowl and with clean beaters, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until stiff peaks form.  Gradually fold into egg yolk mixture.

Gently spoon batter into a 10" tube pan.  Cut through the batter with a knife to remove air pockets.  Bake on the lowest rack at 325F for 60-65 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.  Immediately invert pan (I hung mine on a wine bottle); cool completely.  Run a knife around sides and center tube of pan.  Invert cake onto a serving plate (the bottom or flat side will now be on top).

For glaze melt butter in a saucepan.  Remove from heat; stir in confectioners' sugar, chocolate, vanilla, and water to desired consistency.  Drizzle over cake.  Sprinkle with nuts or raspberries, if desired. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Classic Mustard Potato Salad

You guessed it.....this isn't my photo (thank you PanNan at!)

There are a couple of things I tend to make off of the cuff, no recipe.  Potato salad is one of those.  But the last few times I made it, it just wasn't great.  So I decided I must have slipped off the track somewhere along the way and needed to regroup with a real recipe.  We like mustard in our PS so that's where I started.  And I actually ended up making the first one I found.

To me this is the quintessential mustard potato salad.  Perfect.  Although what I've made before has basically the same components, I missed a few of the steps.  One is to let the potatoes cool completely before cutting to keep them from turning to mush (I baked russets this time because I already had the oven on.....sometimes I boil them).  Also, I tend to like onions and celery diced large....this time I cut them much smaller as instructed.  Much better.  And I usually use a mixture of regular and lo-fat mayo, but I didn't have any lo-fat so I just used a little less regular mayo of the instructed amount (the person who submitted the recipe prefers Miracle Whip, I prefer Hellman's).  I also scaled back the recipe to make enough for just two (that won't happen again!  I need leftovers).

I have learned my lesson.  I'll be sticking to a (meaning this) recipe from now on.


8 cups russet potatoes, cooked, peeled, then diced (about 10-12 medium potatoes)
6 eggs, hard-boiled and finely crumbled
2 cups sweet onions, very finely diced
1 cup celery, peeled and very finely diced
3/4 cup dill pickle, very finely sliced (I used hamburger chips)
1 1/2 cup mayo or Miracle Whip
2 Tbsp prepared yellow mustard
1/4 cup pickle juice
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
2 Tbsp sugar
sweet paprika, optional

 Boil the potatoes in the skin along with the eggs.  Remove the eggs after 10 minutes of boiling.  Remove the potatoes when fork-tender.

Let eggs and potatoes cool to room temperature.  Peel all and refrigerate whole potatoes and eggs until cold (the potatoes will diced and hold up better if starting cold).  Dice potatoes and  put in a large container.  Crumble the eggs and add to the potatoes. 

Very finely (like the size of dill pickle relish pieces) chop onion, celery, and pickles.  (Reserve a bit of this mixture to garnish, if desired.)  Add to the potatoes and eggs.  Gently stir to mix the ingredients evenly. 

In a separate bowl, the mayo (or MW), mustard, pickle juice, cream, salt, pepper, and sugar. Whisk until creamy. 

Gently stir until the potato mixture is coated with the creamy mixture.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (6-8 hours is better).  Before serving, sprinkle paprika and reserved onions, celery, and pickles on top if desired.