Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Elusive Blackberry Cake

When our husbands were in business school, my friend JoAnna McAllister and I used to bring each others family dinner once a week--just to give each other one night off from cooking. She brought me this cake one night. I have since made it for brunch, too. It's especially good with fresh picked berries!

Elusive Blackberry Cake
(thanks to JoAnna McAllister)

1 stick butter
1 c. sugar (reserve 1 Tblspn. for sprinkling on berries)
2 eggs
1 tsp. lemon extract
Sift together:
1 c. flour
1 tsp. Baking powder
2 baskets blackberries (raspberries are good, too!)

Beat together butter and sugar until light.
Add eggs and extract and mix well.
Add flour and baking powder—mix lightly.
Turn into buttered 8 inch square pan.
Top with berries and sprinkle with remaining 1 Tblspn. sugar.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes.
Garnish with powdered sugar.

**The cake will rise up and bake around the berries, so there is no need to push them down in the batter. Just lay them on top and sprinkle the sugar. Guess that's why it's called "elusive"!

Chicken Piccata

I love chicken piccata. My favorite version can be found at Cheesecake Factory. Ever since Marc and I went there when we were dating, I have been trying to copy their recipe, but it is just never quite as good. I found this recipe in Cuisine At Home and decided to try it. I think it is the closest I've come to Cheesecake Factory and the best version yet!

Chicken Piccata

4 chicken cutlets
2 T. vegetable oil
1/4 c. dry white wine
1 t. garlic, minced
1/2 c. chicken broth
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. capers, drained
2 T. unsalted butter
fresh lemon slices
chopped fresh parsley

Season cutlets with salt and pepper, then dust with flour.
Coat saute pan with nonstick spray, add 2 T. vegetable oil, nad hear over medium-high heat.
Saute cutlets 2-3 minutes on one side, flip over and saute another 1-2 minutes on the other side.
Transfer cutlets to a warm plate; pour off fat from the pan.
Deglaze pan with wine and add minced garlic. Cook until garlic is slightly brown and liquid is nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes.
Add broth, lemon juice, and capers.
Return cutlets to pan and cook on each side for 1 minute.
Transfer cutlets to warm plate.
Finish sauce with butter and lemons. Once butter is melted, pour sauce over cutlets, garnish with parsley and serve.

**I made this for 4 adults and 6 kids--I used 15 chicken tenders and 4X everything else. I also skipped the "return cutlets to pan and cook for 1 momre minute" step and just added the butter to the sauce and poured the sauce over all the chicken and let it sit a few minutes before serving. I LOVED it!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tastes like candy!

A few weeks after Soren was born, Marc took the girls away for the long Easter weekend. My girlfriend was kind enough to bring me a full plate of Easter dinner. On it, was a serving of mashed sweet potatoes. I am not a yam fan--I don't even carry on the Skidmore tradition of "sweet potato souffle" for Thanksgiving--so I was reluctant to even try these. But having just had a baby, my appetite was out of control, so I dug in. WOW! They were awesome! They tasted just like candy....seriously. I immediately asked for the recipe (which originally came from Joy's sister-in-law). So when Marc came home from his trip, I told him about these, and since he didn't like sweet potatoes either, his lack of excitement kind of burst my enthusiasm for these. Needless to say, the recipe stayed in my "recipe folder" on my email, never being printed, and never being made--until this Christmas, that is. We had my inlaws and neighbors over for dinner, so I figured it would be a good time to make these--because even if Marc wouldn't eat them, at least someone would. Well, to make this long story short, he LOVED them, and even made the comment "they're just like candy!"

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
(thanks to Joy, and her sister-in-law Natalie)

3 c. cooked mashed yams (about 2-3 yams)
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 stick of softened butter

Peel, cut and boil yams until soft. After they are cooked, mash them together with the above ingredients, making a mashed potato consistency. Spoon into a casserole dish and top with topping:

1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. butter

Mix together to form a crumble and spread over mashed yams. Top with pecan bits--the more, the better.

**I doubled this, of course!!!

Christmas Eve Appetizer

Marc's family tradition is for everyone to bring an appetizer for Christmas Eve dinner. Even though we weren't with family the past two years, we have gotten together with friends who carry on this tradition. This year, I made these:

Cheesy Spinach Pinwheels
(thanks to

1 can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
6 Tblspn. garlic herb spreadable cheese (I found this in the deli section)
6 slices cooked deli ham
24-30 fresh spinach leaves
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Separate dough into 4 rectangles; press perforation to seal.
Spread rectangles with cheese to within 1/4" of edges; top with ham and spinach.
Starting at shortest side, roll up each rectangle; press edges to seal.
Cut each roll into 6 slices.
Place cut side down on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 12-18 minutes, until golden brown.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Farmhouse Ham Chowder

Yesterday was a great day for soup; cold, windy, and home from church. I tried this new recipe, courtesy of Taste of Home's Simple & Delicious. The soup base is milk & dry Ranch dressing, so I was a bit concerned that it would just taste like Ranch with stuff in it--but it didn't. In fact, I would never have guessed it had that seasoning in it at all. Super easy, went together really fast, and hearty enough to fill us up. Perfect for a cold day!

Farmhouse Ham Chowder
(Simple & Delicious, March/April 2008)

1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
4-1/4 cups milk
2 cups frozen cubed hash brown potatoes, thawed
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 ounces smoked Gouda cheese, shredded

In a large saucepan, saute the onion, celery and red pepper in butter until vegetables are crisp-tender.
Stir in flour and dressing mix until smooth; gradually stir in milk.
Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Add the potatoes, corn, ham and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes or until heated through.
Sprinkle with cheese before serving.
Yield: 8 servings (2 quarts).

My new favorite holiday cookie!

My friend Joy has made these cookies every year for my cookie exchange party. Every year, I hoard them to myself and try not to share them. This year, when Marc and I were in the kitchen arguing over who got the last one, I decided it was time to just get the recipe. Funny thing, it is already a recipe I have, and have posted on here, too! Joy uses Janet's Chunky Chocolate Chip cookie recipe and just adds 2 cups of crushed candy canes (or other peppermint candy). SO good!

Peppermint Chocolate Chunk Cookies
(thanks to Joy & Janet!)

3 sticks butter
1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 Tblspn vanilla
Cream together the above ingredients.

Then add:
3 1/4 c. flour
1 c. cake flour OR 1c. + 2 Tblspn regular flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
When well mixed, add 2 c. chocolate chunks (one small bag)
2 c. crushed peppermint (candy canes or starlight mints)

Drop by LARGE spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets.
Bake at 375 degrees for 10-14 minutes.

(I cooked them about 10-11min.--then they are still chewy)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Peppermint Snowballs

I was trying to figure out what cookie to make for my annual cookie exchange party, so I perused one of those emails I am sure you have all gotten with the hundreds and hundreds of cookie recipes. This one caught my eye. I didn't make them for the party, but I've still had rave reviews! So here's the recipe:

Peppermint Snowballs (although they look nothing like a snowball)
(thanks to

1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 1/4 c. butter, softened
1 tsp. peppermint extract
1 tsp. vanillla
1 egg
3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. finely crushed peppermint candy (divided)
granulated sugar, as needed

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the powdered sugar, butter, peppermint extract, vanilla and egg.
Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy (2-3 minutes).
Reduce speed to low and add flour, baking powder and salt.
Beat, scraping bowl often, until well blended (1-2 minutes).
By hand, stir in 1/2 c. candy.
Shape dough into 3/4" balls; roll in granulated sugar; place 1" apart on cookie sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until set.
Cool completely.

Combine 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar and enough milk (2-3 T.) for desired consistency. Drizzle cooled cookies with glaze. Immediately sprinkle with the remaining peppermint candy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Easy Crockpot Roast

Easy Crockpot Roast
(I have no idea where I got this recipe)

1 beef roast, any kind, sized to fit your crockpot
1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
1 pkg. brown gravy mix
1 pkg. Italian dressing mix
½ c. or more water

Place roast in crockpot. Mix all 3 envelopes of seasonings together and sprinkle in top of roast. Pour ½ c. warm water in bottom of crockpot. Cook on low for 6-7 hours (or until it falls apart--all depends on the size roast).

Great because it makes its own gravy!!!!

White Chicken Chili

This is a delicious soup. I got the recipe from my sister-in-law, Lonni and have passed it on to a few people already. My other sister-in-law (on the other side of the family) made it this year for her ward "chili cook-off" and won 1st you know it's gotta be good!
P.S. She also won 1st place for her cornbread--which is a recipe of mine that I posted a while back! Together, they make a great meal!

White Chicken Chili
(thanks Lonni!)

2 cans white navy beans (rinsed and drained)
4 large poblano chilies or 8 anaheim chilies (roasted, peeled and cut and diced)
1/4 cup butter
2 large onions chopped1/3 cup flour
4 c low salt chicken broth
3 c half and half
4 c cooked and shredded chicken
1 T chili powder
1 T hot pepper sauce
1 T ground cumin
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
(can add more spiced for hotter taste)
1 1/2 c grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 c sour cream

Melt butter in a large stock pot over med. heat.
Add onions and saute until tender, about 15min.
Add flour and stir 5 min. (do not brown).
Gradually whisk in chicken broth and half and half.
Simmer gently until thickened, about 10 min.
Add reserved white beans and roasted chilies, shredded chicken and spices.
Simmer gently to blend flavors, about 20 min.
Add sour cream and most of your cheese (save some to go on top)-- heat until heated through and cheese melts (do not boil).
Top with cilantro and cheese.

**To roast chilies: you can either throw them on the BBQ on medium heat and turn frequently until browned or roast them over an open gas flame on your stovetop (which is what I did this time). Honestly, I didn't peel them, just diced them small. I also only put in about 1/2 this time because my parents were in town and they don't like hot stuff--and this can get quite spicy depending on how many peppers you put in.

Bethlehem Pork & Tzatziki Sauce

I made about 50lbs. of pork roast for our ward Christmas party Saturday night, which was a reinactment of Bethlehem. Because of our theme, we tried to keep our meal somewhat authentic (even though the biggest faux paux was that Jewish people don't eat pork!). We had pita bread stuffed with shredded pork with tzatziki sauce, deviled eggs, olives, cheese, nuts, olives, and fruit.
I got this seasoning recipe from my friend JoAnna, who also used this recipe for her ward party last year, but she used beef. It was a huge hit in both wards!

Bethlehem Pork (or beef)
(thanks JoAnna!)

about 4lb. pork loin roast (or chuck roast)
2 t. garlic powder
1 t. rosemary
1 t. caraway (this is the one seasoning I couldn't find, so I just left it out)
1 T. minced onion
1 1/2 t. salt
2 t. oregano
1 t. marjoram
1 t. celery seed
1/2 t. red pepper

Mix all the seasoning together. Sprinkle over meat & gently rub in. Cook meat in crockpot (with just a little broth/water to cover the bottom) on LOW for 8-9 hours, or until meat pulls apart easily. Shred and stuff in pita pocket & serve with tzatziki sauce.

Tzatziki Sauce
(thanks again to JoAnna!)

2 c. plain yogurt
2 t. garlic
1 t. salt
2 cucumbers, peeled & seeded
1/2 t. pepper
2 t. olive oil
1 t. dill weed

Put all ingredients in Cuisinart until mixed well. Keep in refrigerator.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pecan Tassies

A friend from Rochester, NY made these for a farewell luncheon she put on for me when we moved to Boston. I am not a pecan pie fan, but I fell in love with these. They are so easy, I don't know why I wait until Thanksgiving to make them. I think I ate 90% of them myself--I was just so easy to pop one in my mouth while on the go with the kids! :) (FYI: they taste even better with a dollop of whipping cream on top, but do that just before serving!)

Pecan Tassies
(thanks to Emily Owsley!)

3 oz. cream cheese
½ c. butter
1 c. flour

1 egg
¾ c. brown sugar
1 Tblspn. softened butter
1 tsp. Vanilla
dash of salt
2/3 c. finely chopped pecans

Combine cream cheese, butter, and flour.
Form into ball, wrap and chill for 1 hour.
Mix together egg, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, salt and finely chopped pecans.
Roll out dough 1/8” thick and use 3-inch circle cutter.
Place circle of dough in mini-muffin cups.
Fill with brown sugar-pecan filling.
Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Garnish with whipping cream.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pumpkin Carrot Swirl Bars

I don't like pumpkin anything--but I like these! But I was asked to make these last year for the teachers at the elementary school. They were really good, so I saved the recipe. I am glad I did because I am in charge of the Teacher Appreciation Committee this year and so we made them again. Good, easy, makes a lot and cut/present well. I think they are "relatively" low fat, too!

Pumpkin Carrot Swirl Bars
(this recipe came from Nestle)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1 can (15 oz.)
LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 cup finely shredded carrot
Cream Cheese Topping (recipe follows)

PREHEAT oven to 350° F.
Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan.
COMBINE flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and baking soda in small bowl. Beat granulated sugar, butter and brown sugar in large mixer bowl until crumbly. Add eggs, egg whites, pumpkin and carrot; beat until well blended. Add flour mixture; mix well.
Spread into prepared pan. Drop teaspoonfuls of Cream Cheese Topping over batter; swirl mixture with spoon.
BAKE for 25 to 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
COMBINE 4 ounces softened light cream cheese (Neufchâtel), 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon milk in small mixer bowl until thoroughly blended.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sparkling Punch

I made this for the first time for a baby shower last night. I wish I would have taken a picture, because I thought it looked quite pretty. Oh well, next time, because I'm sure I'll make it again.

Sparkling Punch
( )

2 (750 milliliter) bottles sparkling apple cider
1 liter carbonated water
3 large oranges
2 lemons
1 (6 ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 trays ice cubes

Thinly slice the lemons and the oranges and place in a large punch bowl. Pour in the thawed lemonade. Gently stir in the seltzer water and the sparkling apple cider. Add sugar to taste. Add large block of ice.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Black Bottom Macaroon

I tried this dessert at a baby shower a few weeks back and just had to have the recipe. It is so good and so rich!

Black Bottom Macaroon
(thanks to Angelica Mings for sharing her recipe!)

1 19-21oz brownie mix + ingredients to make it
2 egg whites
14 oz sweetened flaked cocout
14oz can sweetened condensed milk
2.25 oz sliced almonds
2T. chocolate morsels or a hershy bar
1t. vegetable oil
Make brownie mix according to package, bake in a tart pan (I used a springform pan) for about 20min. Remove from oven. Mix egg whites, sweetened condensed milk, and coconut. Top baked brownies with coconut mixture, put in several globs and spread out.
Bake for an additional 20 min at 350 degrees.
Sprinkle with almonds and cook for another 5 min.
Remove from oven.
Microwave chocolate morsels and vegetable oil together and stir until smooth. Put melted chocolate into a sandwich bag, cut a small tip off of the corner and drizzle chocolate over the tart. Enjoy!

Friday, October 31, 2008

After being on the road for a week and eating more than enough fast food, I was ready for something homemade and healthy tasting. I pulled out this recipe from my "to-try" pile and paired it with rice that my friend Juli once made for me. A great meal!

Spicy Green Beans with Pork
(thanks to Family Fun, October 2008)

1 pound pork tenderloin
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon spicy bean sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil
1 pound green beans, trimmed and snapped in half
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup toasted white sesame seeds

1. Shave the pork into thin strips. (Tip: first partially freeze it for 30 to 90 minutes.) In a small bowl, toss the shaved pork with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of rice wine, and the pepper. Marinate the pork at room temperature while assembling the rest of the ingredients.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce, the remaining tablespoon of rice wine, the stock, spicy bean sauce, hoisin, chili garlic sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch, and set aside.
3. Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the beans and stir-fry them until they begin to brown or blister, about 10 minutes. Remove the beans from the pan using a slotted spoon and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the oil.
4. Return the pan to the heat and add the pork, garlic, and ginger. Stir-fry the mixture until the pork is no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Add the green onions and cook for 1 minute.
5. Add the reserved sauce and green beans, mix well, and cook until the sauce begins to thicken, about one minute. Finally, sprinkle with the sesame seeds before serving. Makes about 5 cups.

(**I omitted the rice wine, spicy bean sauce, and chili garlic sauce because I didn't have them. I didn't substitute anything, just left them out. So instead of spicy beans and pork, it was more sweet. This also allowed my kids to actually taste it and they liked it! :)

Juli Miller's Fried Rice
(thanks Juli!)

2 c. cooked rice (she likes Jasmine, but I just used generic long grain white rice)
4-5 scrambled eggs (I didn't add milk, salt or pepper--just scrambled the eggs)
2-3 green onions, sliced
about 1 c. diced ham
handful of peas (I used about a cup)
soy sauce
Yoshida's gourmet sauce (this is the key ingredient!)

In large frying pan or wok, scramble eggs. Add in green onion, ham and peas until warmed through. Add in cooked rice. Drizzle with soy sauce, using only about 1-2 Tblspns and toss until evenly distributed. Then add in about 1/4c. gourmet sauce and toss until rice is evenly coated (you may need to add more).

(This recipe can easily be cut in half, as it makes a LOT!)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sweet Texan Cornbread

We are heading out of town again today and so I did the "clean out the refrigerator meal" last night. We had southwest salads and cornbread. I love doing a southwest salad when I need to use up what's in my fridge. The key ingredient is cilantro--if you have that, it will taste southwest--then you can add just about anything else. Good salad toppers are: cilantro, tomatoes, black beans, corn, grated cheese, cucumber, leftover taco meat, grilled chicken, etc. For the dressing, I usually mix equal parts Ranch dressing and bbq sauce.

As for the cornbread...I am not sure where this recipe came from--it's been in my recipe binder for a while. It is a GREAT cornbread recipe--super moist and sweet. No butter or honey needed!

Sweet Texan Cornbread

½ c. butter, melted
1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
1 can cream style corn
1 egg
1 heaping Tblspn. sugar

Melt butter in 8 X 8 pan (or I’ve used a pie dish, or round cake pan).
Mix together egg, creamed corn, and cornbread mix.
Mix well and add sugar.
Pour into pan and stir into butter, until just blended.
Cook at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Crockpot Roast

I know, I know.....ANOTHER crockpot roast. There are thousands of differing ways to slow cook a cut of beef, and here is 1,001. I am in the midst of trying to find a recipe to cook for our ward Christmas party and will probably be posting a few different recipes throughout the process. Here is attempt #1: good and ridiculously easy, but won't be used for the party. It turned out more "sweet-n-sour--candied--bbq" than I was expecting. I am looking for something I can stuff into a pita pocket with tzatziki sauce, so if you know of a good recipe, please pass it on!

Crockpot Roast
(thanks to Joy Park)

2-3 lb. rump roast
1/2 bottle Russian salad dressing (can not be substituted with anything else)
1/2 bottle bbq sauce

Put the roast in the crockpot and add about 1/2 c. water. Cover and cook on low for about 8+hrs. At about hour 6, dump water and add salad dressing and bbq sauce. Cook another 2 hrs. until meat can be cut easily or shredded.

(Obviously, all ingredients can be adjusted based on need and preference--just make sure you have equal parts salad dressing to bbq sauce).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Raspberry Cream Cheese Breakfast Cake

We went up to Flower Mound to visit some friends from business school and Jessica served this one morning for breakfast. Jessica originally got the recipe from another business school friend, Catherine. Seems like most of my good, tried and true recipes have come from business school friends! Anywa, this was YUMMY! Even Marc, who doesn't like cake, breakfast, or anything sweet but not chocolate, loved this! I made it myself this weekend and took it to an evening baby shower.

(Disclaimer: I tried to do some serious multi-tasking and doubled this recipe--one for the cake walk at Fall Fest and one for a baby shower and did it all while hosting playgroup at my house. Guess with 5 little ones running around, I was bound to make a calculation mistake. I did. I put 1c. of extra flour in--oops. So to those who were at the baby shower and thought the cake was quite was. But I promise, if you follow the directions and can do math better than me, it will turn out great. It really is yummy!)

Raspberry Cream Cheese Breakfast Cake
(thanks to Jessica--and ultimately Catherine--for sharing!)

Crumble and set 1 cup aside:
2 ¼ c. flour
¾ c. sugar
¾ c. butter

½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¾ c. sour cream
1 tsp. almond extract
1 egg

Use a 9” pie pan; push up a little on the sides.

Filling (Catherine 1 ½ times following recipe and so did I!)
Beat, add to center:
8 oz. cream cheese
¼ c. sugar
1 egg

Top with:
½ c. rasp preserves (swirl)
frozen raspberries

Sprinkle 1 cup of crumble on top.
Add almonds to top (optional).
Bake @ 350º for 45-55 minutes.
Cool to room temperature
(or serve warm so that the cream cheese "filling" oozes out, makes a mess and tastes that much better! :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Stove-Top Macaroni and Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes

Marc's boss had us over for dinner and served this dish with "sliders"--something I hadn't heard of until we moved here to TX (they are basically just mini-hamburgers). I followed suit and served it last night with barbequed sausage. It's a great dish, makes a lot, and is less cheesy (more healthy? :) ) than other mac-n-cheese I've had. Loved it!

Stove-Top Macaroni and Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes
(thanks to Raj Idnani and Cooking Light, January 2005)

3 cups halved cherry tomatoes
Cooking spray
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 ounces sourdough bread, torn into pieces
1 teaspoon butter, melted
12 ounces large elbow macaroni
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded extrasharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated low-fat milk

Preheat oven to 375°.

Place tomatoes in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with black pepper. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.

While tomatoes cook, place bread in a food processor; pulse 2 times or until crumbly. Toss crumbs with melted butter. Sprinkle the crumbs on a baking sheet, and bake at 375° for 12 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently.

Cook macaroni in boiling water 7 minutes; drain. Return macaroni to pan; place over medium-low heat. Add cheese and remaining ingredients; cook 4 minutes or until cheese melts, stirring constantly. Stir in tomatoes. Sprinkle each serving with about 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs.

**I put the mac & cheese back in the 9 X 13 pan I was using and then sprinkled the breadcrumbs over the whole dish

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I have been feeling guilty that it's been so long since I've posted. Even worse, I am feeling guilty that I haven't been cooking for my family, at least not "really" cooking. I have re-made a few recipes from this blog and done a lot of "let's see what we can throw together at the last minute" type of meals. I just haven't been motivated or felt creative. But thanks to guilt (and a comment today...."you've had your banana cake up for a long time now"--thanks, Andrea!) I will get back into the swing of things. In fact, I am trying a new homemade mac-n-cheese recipe tonight. Hope it's good so that I have something to post and get out of this rut! We'll be out of town a lot this month so there may not be a lot of new recipes tried, but with the holidays and company coming, I promise there are more yummies on the horizon!

Thanks for your patience...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Banana Cake

I got this recipe from a "roommate" from BYU. It is easy, yummy, and presents well. Thanks Angie!

Layered Banana Cake
(thanks to Angie Gubler-Coons, who got this recipe from her mom)

Cream together:
2 sticks butter
1 C. sugar

Then add:
2 eggs
1 C. mashed bananas (usually takes 3! My trick is to freeze bananas as they go bad and then when I need them, just let them defrost before using. They look like black slugs, but create much more juice, leaving the cake more moist)

Sift together:
1 ¾ C. Flour
½ tsp. Salt
2/3 tsp. Baking soda

Then add:
5 Tblspn. Buttermilk
1 tspn. Vanilla
Mix until just barely combined

Grease and flour two 9” round cake pans. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

**I usually double the recipe and make 4 layers because they come out rather thin. Four layers make a nice size cake. Then I usually just generously frost between the layers, but not around the outside of the cake. Makes it look more “rustic” or “artsy”!

Cream together:
8 oz. cream cheese
6 Tblspn. Butter

Then add:
3 C. powdered sugar
1 tspn. Vanilla
juice of ½ a lemon

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dilled Mashed Potatoes

We can't get enough mashed potatoes at our house. We eat them almost every Sunday with some type of roast. It really is my hubby's FAVORITE food of all time and so he gets put in charge of them--and he does a GREAT job. He loves to add things; aside from the traditional butter and milk, he'll put in cheese, cream cheese, bacon, sour cream, etc.--and lots of it! I took the reigns on the potatoes this week and loosely followed the recipe below. Let's say that I used it as a guide and then followed in my hubby's shoes and put in lots of the extra stuff! Mmmmm!

Dilled Mashed Potates
(Taste of Home's Simple & Delicious, Sept/Oct 2008)

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
2/3 cup 4% cottage cheese
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons butter
2 teaspoons snipped fresh dill or 1/2 teaspoon dill weed

(I probably put in 4X this amount!)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water; cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender; drain. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the cheeses, butter, dill and salt; beat until smooth and fluffy.

Grilled Citrus Chicken

I gave in to an online recipe exchange and was sent this recipe. I figured it was worth a try. It was good--an easy marinade to throw together at the last minute and different than a traditional BBQ sauce.

Grilled Citrus Chicken
(I think this originally came from good ol' Betty Crocker)

6 chicken breast halves
½ cup frozen (thawed) orange juice concentrate
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
½ teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Place chicken in a freezer zip lock bag and pour marinade over the top. Turn and toss to make sure all chicken is covered. Refrigerate 2 to 24 hours but no longer.
Grill chicken for 15- 20 minutes brushing with marinade occasionally. Heat remaining marinade to boiling and stir one minute. Serve over chicken with mashed potatoes or rice.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Grilled Chicken with Stoned Fruit

My good friend JoAnna McAllister has been telling me about this recipe for years...literally. I had never made it because I was scared off by the fact that it called for chicken THIGHS and not breasts--I know, I am a wimp. Plus, my hubby isn't a fan of meat with fruit. But after talking with JoAnna on the phone recently, she talked me into at least trying it and promised I would like it. I did.

Grilled Chicken with Stoned Fruit
(thanks to JoAnna McAllister--don't know where she got it from, though)

2 lbs. chicken thighs (I used boneless & skinless)
1/4 c. EVOO
4+ cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tblspn. worcestershire sauce
2 Tblspn. dijon mustard
1 Tblspn. sweet smoked paprika
1 Tblspn. tabasco sauce

Mix above ingredients together and marinate chicken (I put it in a bag for about an hour).
Grill until juices run clear.

Peaches (however many you will eat), cut in half and pit removed
Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Grill (do not allow them to touch uncooked chicken) about 5-6 minutes, until grill marks appear

1/2 c. balsalmic vinegar
2 Tblspn. brown sugar
2 sprigs rosemary

Mix above 3 ingredients in small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for about 6-7 minutes, until reduced by half.
Drizzle over peaches (and chicken).

Serve chicken & peaches with couscous (or rice) and drizzle with syrup.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hearty Penne Beef

The name is lame. But the only other thing I could come up with was "Homemade Hamburger Helper"--which is probably worse. But the dish itself was pretty good--Marc really liked it. It is basically a casserole, but just on the stovetop--not baked. It was the perfect entree for me to use up the rest of my spinach and mozzarella cheese, so I figured I'd try it. Marc said "it's a keeper"--so I'm posting it for my records, lame name and all.

Hearty Penne Beef
(Taste of Home's Simple & Delicious, Sept/Oct 2008)

1-3/4 cups uncooked penne pasta
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 can (15 ounces) tomato puree
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) beef broth
1-1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, cook beef and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomato puree, broth, Italian seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add spinach; cook for 1-2 minutes or until spinach is wilted.
Drain pasta; stir into beef mixture. Sprinkle with cheese; cover and cook for 3-4 minutes or until cheese is melted.

**not sure was "tomato puree" is, so I used a 10oz. can of tomato sauce and added about 1/4 c. diced tomatoes
**OH, in the magazine, it says that this recipe freezes well--next time I'll split the recipe before serving and freeze half.


Just a craving I had on Sunday afternoon...


1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
In a medium bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until well blended.
In a small shallow bowl, stir together the 2 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls and roll the balls in the sugar mixture. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Cookies should be slightly golden at the edges. Remove to cool on wire racks.

I doubled this of course! :) And I cooked them 8-9 minutes--they turned out perfect! Chewy and moist!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Spanish Rice

I am not a huge fan of Spanish rice. It is usually dry and rather bland, whether it be homemade (out of a package) or at a restaurant. However, a friend of mine made this and served it with shredded pork tacos and it was an instant hit for me and my family. The tacos were DELISH and so was this rice. I made it for some friends this week, and they loved it too!

Spanish Rice
(thanks Tauni--who got the recipe here:)

2 tablespoons olive oil (can use up to 1/4 cup)
1 onion, chopped fine
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups of medium or long-grain white rice
3 cups chicken stock*
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste or 1 cup of diced fresh or cooked tomatoes, strained
Pinch of oregano
1 teaspoon salt
*Check the instructions on the rice package for the proportions of liquid to rice. They can range from 1:1 to 2:1. If your rice calls for 2 cups of water for every cup of rice, then for this recipe, use 4 cups of stock for 2 cups of rice.

In a large skillet brown rice in olive oil, medium/high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook onion rice mixture, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes, or until onions are softened.
In a separate sauce pan bring stock to a simmer. Add tomato sauce, oregano, and salt. Add rice to broth. Bring to a simmer. Cover. Lower heat and cook 15-25 minutes, depending on the type of rice and the instructions on the rice package. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
Serves 4 to 6.

Tauni's changes: she (and I) used a can of diced tomatoes instead of the tomato paste/tomatoes and sprinkled a handful of sharp cheddar cheese through it right before serving.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Nieman-Marcus Cookies

I wanted to make cookies today (a Sunday afternoon tradition)--but felt the need to try a new recipe--partly because I like to try new recipes and partly because I have been getting some flack for not posting any recipes lately (although the 4 I posted today should make up for the slow pace as of late). Thankfully, when I checked my email today, Marc's cousin's wife had sent this recipe to me. Thanks Sandee!

Nieman-Marcus Cookies
(A recipe that has been floating around on the internet. Don't know if it's THE actual NM recipe, but it is good, nonetheless)
2 c. butter
2 c. brown sugar
2 c. white sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
4 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
5 c. oatmeal (once measured, blend it in a blender into fine flour)
8 oz. Hershey bar, grated
3 c. chopped nuts (optional) (I used about 1/2 this of chopped pecans)

Cream the butter and both sugars.
Add eggs and vanilla.
Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture.
Mix in ground oatmeal.
Add grated chocolate, chocolate chips and nuts.
Roll into balls and place on greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

(recipe can be cut in half...but why would anyone do that?!)

Broiled Soy-Glazed Pork with Rice and Asian Vegetables

We came home from church today and I could hear Marc's stomache rumbling--he was HUNGRY. Seriously hungry. To satisfy this type of hunger, he always wants our typical Sunday dinner...roast & mashed potatoes. However, I already planned on trying this new recipe for dinner. He was not-so-secretly disappointed. However, after all the pouting and eating was over, he said he loved it and thought this meal was great. Hope you do too!

Broiled Soy-Glazed Pork with Rice and Asian Vegetables
(MS EveryDay Food, April 2008)

1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
8 ounces snow peas, trimmed
2 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 red bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, ends trimmed, cut crosswise into 3-inch lengths
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower
1/4 cup soy sauce
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pork tenderloin (1 to 1 1/4 pounds), halved crosswise
1/4 cup honey

Cook rice according to package instructions; cover, and set aside. Meanwhile, heat broiler, with rack set 4 inches from heat. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss snow peas, carrots, bell peppers, and scallions with oil and 2 tablespoons soy sauce; season with salt and pepper.
Place pork on top of vegetables, and season with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon honey. Broil until pork and vegetables begin to char, 6 to 8 minutes. Toss vegetables, and turn pork; drizzle pork with 1 tablespoon honey.
Continue to broil until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of pork registers 145 degrees and vegetables are charred in spots, 6 to 8 minutes, tossing vegetables once more. Remove from broiler. Cover with aluminum foil, and let rest, 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, make sauce: Stir together remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce and honey. Thinly slice pork, and serve with vegetables, rice, and sauce.

CONFESSION: I used a bag of frozen "Asian Vegetables" which already had some sort of glaze on them--so I omitted the vegetable seasonings. I also used a bag of frozen, streamable white rice--those two cheats made this meal SUPER simple to throw together, but tasted like I spent a bit of time on it!

Cream Cheese Streusel Bars

These are REALLY good. I got the recipe from "Light & Tasty", whose premise is to take a recipe and then use all low/no fat ingredients to make it "light." However, I used good ol' FULL fat ingredients--maybe that's why they were so good.
Wish I would have taken a picture of these--they turn out picture worthy--we just ate them too fast. You can click on the link to see the recipe and picture on it's own site.
FYI: I doubled the recipe and used a jellyroll pan, which worked great!

Cream Cheese Streusel Bars
(Light & Tasty, April/May 2007)

1-1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter
1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese
1 can (14 ounces) fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, flour, cocoa and salt; cut in butter until crumbly. Set aside 1/2 cup for topping; press remaining crumb mixture into an 11-in. x 7-in. x 2-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 325° for 8-12 minutes or until set.

In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, milk, egg and vanilla until blended. Pour over crust. Bake for 15 minutes. Top with reserved crumb mixture; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until filling is set. Cool on a wire rack. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 15 servings.

Lemon-Lime Cake

This is super easy & fast--perfect for the last minute dessert I needed to bring with dinner to a family in need.

Lemon-Lime Cake
(I have NO idea--it was just printed on a piece of paper I had in my stack of recipes)

1 lemon cake mix
1 c. water
1 1/2 Tblspn. lime zest
4 eggs
1/2 c. oil
1 small pkg. instant lemon pudding
3 drops green food coloring (optional)

Mix all together adn pour into greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and pour glaze over hot cake.

1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. lime juice

Let cake sit for about 10 minutes, then serve.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Chicken Fajita Tostadas with Cilantro-Lime Rice

Everything I post on this blog we have tried and liked. Some more than others. These recipes I REALLY liked (just imagine me saying "mmmmm, good" with every bite). Once I was eating these, I realized they aren't complicated and should have been something I could come up with on my own....but no, I had to wait for this recipe to show up in Martha Stewart's EveryDay Food. I was sad I wasn't home for lunch today to have them as leftovers........can't wait for tomorrow!

P.S. I took a picture of the rice, but quickly realized that the pictures in the magazine (or online) were MUCH better than mine, so I am not posting the photos I took. If you are a visual person like me, check out the links below for pictures.

Chicken Fajita Tostadas
(MS EveryDay Food, April 2008)

2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced
1 box (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels
1 cup prepared fresh salsa
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
4 corn tortillas (6-inch)
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
Cilantro-Lime Rice, for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. On foil, combine onions, bell peppers, corn, 1/4 cup salsa, and 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper.
Roast, tossing occasionally, until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Add chicken, stir to combine, and continue to roast until warmed through, 5 minutes more.

Transfer chicken and vegetable mixture to a serving bowl, discarding foil (reserve sheet).

Arrange tortillas on sheet. Dividing evenly, brush with remaining tablespoon oil; top with cheese. Bake until edges are golden and cheese is melted, 5 to 8 minutes.

Dividing evenly, top tortillas with chicken-vegetable mixture and remaining 3/4 cup salsa.

Serve with cilantro-lime rice, if desired

This rice is a great alternative to the more traditional Spanish/Mexican rice. Loved it!
Cilantro-Lime Rice
(MS EveryDay Food, April 2008)

1 cup long-grain white rice
Coarse salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add rice and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until water is absorbed and rice is just tender, 16 to 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a blender, combine cilantro, lime juice, oil, garlic, and 2 tablespoons water; blend until smooth. Stir into cooked rice, and fluff with a fork.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Penne with Tomatoes, Pesto & Artichokes (& Sausage)

I had quite a challenge on my hands Friday night. My kids requested "noodles" for dinner (surprise, surprise), I had sausage I wanted to try, and a bottle of pesto I felt inclined to use. The problem: I had no real recipe to cook by. I could have thrown a few things together, but thought I'd go to this trusty site: Of course, I found a recipe, and it was good--as usual.

Penne With Tomatoes, Pesto & Artichokes
(Bon Appetite, July 1998)

1 6- to 7-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
3 tablespoons oil reserved
1 large onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup purchased pesto
12 ounces penne pasta, freshly cooked
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Additional grated Parmesan cheese

Heat 3 tablespoons oil reserved from artichokes in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is tender, about 7 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juices and artichokes. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, about 8 minutes. Add pesto; simmer 1 minute longer.
Mix in pasta and ­ cup cheese. Season pasta with salt and pepper.Transfer pasta to large bowl. Serve, passing additional Parmesan separately.

My notes on this recipe are:
I only used a 14oz. can of diced tomatoes and therefore cut the pesto down to about 1/3 c.--there was still enough sauce to coat the pasta, but not be drenched in it.
I also added sausage. I was introduced to this yummy chicken, spinach & fontina cheese sausage by my friend is "Han's All Natural Gourmet Sausage". You can get it at Costco. It is precooked but can be grilled, broiled, microwaved, sauteed, etc. when you are ready to eat it. I sliced mine into 1/4 inch pieces and sauteed it with the onion and garlic in this recipe. Sidenote: Marc ate the other sausage for dinner the next night on a hot dog bun with catsup and mustard and loved it that way, too. It's good stuff!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Taco Stuffed Pasta Shells

I am sure most of you already have a recipe similar to this one. It is a Mormon basic. But I make it pretty consistently and always freeze half, so I thought it would be a good post for those reasons. I got this recipe at an Enrichment night on freezer meals--and this definitely freezes well. Amounts can easily be adjusted to make more, too!

Taco Stuffed Pasta Shells
(wish I could remember names, but it was someone in our Boise, ID ward a few years back)

16 jumbo dried pasta shells
1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 can refried beans
1 jar salsa
1 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 c. green onion, sliced
sour cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook beef in large skillet until brown; drain. Add seasoning mix and follow directions on package; cook over low heat until thickened. Add beans and 1/2 c. cheese; mix well.
Spread 1/4 cup salsa over bottom of two 8-inch square baking dishes. Cook pasta shells according to package directions. Fill pasta shells with beef mixture; place half of the shells in each dish, filled side up. Spoon remaining salsa over shells in both pans.
Cover one baking dish with plastic wrap, then overwrap with foil. Label and freeze for up to 2 months.
Cover remaining dish with foil. Bake for 40 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with green onions and remaining cheese. Serve wtih sour cream.

TO BAKE FROZEN SHELLS: Store baking dish in refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove plastic wrap; recover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/4 c. green onions and 1/4 c. shredded cheese. Serve with sour cream. Makes 4 servings.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Berry Muffins

These muffins are REALLY good. Feel quite hearty due to the oatmeal in them. Ellery isn't a huge fan of blueberries, so we split the batter and made 1/2 blueberry and 1/2 raspberry. The raspberry were my favorite!
P.S. They freeze well, and that's a good thing considering this recipe made 30 muffins!

Berry Muffins
(Wondertime, June 2008)

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
16 ounces sour cream
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups blueberries (if frozen, do not thaw)
2 tablespoons sugar

Heat oven to 375.

Line two 12-cup muffin tins with muffin-cup liners. This recipe won't work without them. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs with sour cream until thoroughly combined. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt together butter and brown sugar, about 3 minutes. Cool slightly, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, then beat this mixture into egg mixture. Stir in oats.

Fold in flour mixture and then — very gently — fold in berries. Fill muffin cups about three-quarters full. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar onto the top of each muffin.

Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until edges are medium brown and tops are firm.

Cool for 5 minutes, then remove muffins (in their papers) and finish cooling on rack.

Sausage & Cheese Strata

Marc thought this was just OK, I liked it, and Addison LOVED it. She had 3 helpings for dinner (yes, we had breakfast for dinner) and then asked for it for breakfast again the next morning. For that reason alone, I felt it worthy to put on this blog. My only note is that this is a breakfast food, but takes quite a bit of prep, so it definitely needs to be put together the night before.

Sausage & Cheese Strata
(Wondertime magazine, June 2008)

6 English muffins, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, or 8 thick slices of Italian bread, cubed
1/2 pound bulk sausage (or breakfast sausage with the casings removed)
12 ounces Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese, grated
4 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk (any kind)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

At least two hours before you'll be baking the strata, heat oven to 350. On a cookie sheet, in a single layer, bake English muffin or bread cubes for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are dried out and beginning to brown. Turn oven off, remove cubes, and let cool while you prepare the rest of the recipe.

In a skillet, brown and break up sausage and transfer it to paper towels to drain. Brush a 2-quart soufflé or casserole dish with about a tablespoon of the fat from the skillet. In the dish, arrange layers as follows: 1/3 English muffin cubes, 1/3 cheese, all the sausage, 1/3 English muffin cubes, 1/3 cheese, 1/3 English muffin cubes. Press the contents of the dish down firmly.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, mustard, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce; pour mixture over strata. Top the dish with remaining cheese, and drizzle the top with melted butter.

Chill, covered, at least an hour, or overnight.

Let dish stand at room temperature for 45 minutes before you bake it. Heat oven to 350. Bake strata for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until it's golden brown and puffy.

(NOTES: At the last minute I realized I didn't have sausage in my freezer like I thought I did, so I used cooked bacon and diced ham instead. Worked great! I also didn't have cayenne pepper, so I used a dash of tabasco sauce)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Roasted Tomato 'N' Garlic Mayonnaise

I made this the other day and had it on Grilled Chicken, Bacon & Cheese Sandwiches last night. YUMMY! But it will also be good on just a regular turkey & cheese sandwich, too. The magazine suggests using it on hamburgers, which would be good, too. Very versatile--great change from plain mayonnaise.

Roasted Tomato 'N' Garlic Mayonnaise
(Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking, June/July 2008)

4 plum tomotoes
3 tsp. olive oil, divided
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1 whole garlic bulb
3/4 c. reduced fat mayonnaise

Cut tomatoes in half, lengthwise. Drizzle cut sides with 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil. Combine the herbs, pepper and 1/4 tsp. salt; sprinkle over tomatoes. Place cut side down on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.

Remove papery outer skin from garlic (do not peel or separate cloves). Cut top off garlic bulb. Brush with 1/2 tsp. oil and wrap in heavy aluminum foil. Place on baking sheet with tomatoes and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

Turn tomatoes; drizzle with remaining oil. Bake 20-25 minutes longer or until garlic is tender and tomatoes are softened. Cool for 10 minutes.

Squeeze softened garlic into a small bowl. Chop tomatoes and add to garlic. Stir in mayonnaise and remaining salt until blended.

Citrus-Ginger Marinade

This recipe was originally called "Honey Grilled Chicken Breasts" but the marinade was more citrus and ginger than it was honey, and I figured everyone knows how to throw a chicken breast on the barbeque, so I changed the name and will just list the ingredients of the marinade.
NOTE: The longer this chicken marinades, the better.

Citrus-Ginger Marinade
(Healthy Cooking, June/July 2008)

1/2 c. orange juice
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 Tblspn. minced fresh gingerroot (OR 1/2-1 tsp. ground ginger)
12 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. salt

(Enough marinade for at least 8 chicken breasts)

Apple Dumplings

For those of you who have yet to hear of "Pioneer Woman," you HAVE to check out her website! I first got hooked when my friend Ellen recommended reading the Pioneer Woman's love story of how she met her husband. The premise is that she was a city girl and he a cowboy (who she refers to as "the Marlboro Man"), but somehow they fell in love. It's a good read if you like sappy love stories! Make sure you start at the very beginning, though.

Anyway, the Pioneer Woman also has a recipe blog, which is where I found this recipe. Her recipes are great because she is a FABULOUS photographer and she takes a picture of every step of the recipe--great photos, great food.

I made this on the 4th of July and we had the dumplings with homemade vanilla ice cream--WOW! YUMMY!

Apple Dumplings
(The Pioneer Woman Cooks)

2 Granny Smith apples
2 cans crescent rolls
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 small can Mountain Dew

Peel and core apples. Cut apples into 8 slices each. Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll. Place in a 9 x 13 buttered pan. Melt butter, then add sugar and barely stir. Add vanilla, stir, and pour over apples. Pour Mountain Dew around the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve with ice cream, and spoon some of the sweet sauces from the pan over the top.

Caramel Cashew Chewies

The crust of these cookies is quite "hearty" and at least makes you feel like you are eating something substantial. These keep well and almost taste better as the days pass. (I made these when I was at my parents in CA, so I don't have a picture for these or the next few posts--SORRY!)

Caramel Cashew Chewies
(Taste of Home's Simple & Delicious, Jul/Aug 2008)

3/4 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 c. flour
1 c. old-fashioned oats
1 pkg (14 oz) caramels
1/3 c. half-n-half cream
1 c. semisweet chocolate chunks
1 c. salted cashew halves, chopped

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Beat in egg. Stir in flour and oats. Press into a 9 X 13 pan, coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine caramels and cream. Cook over low heat for 4-5 minutes or until caramels are melted, stirring occasionally. Pour over crust. Sprinkle with chocolate chunks and cashews.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until chocolate is melted. Cool on wire rack before cutting.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Lemon Meringue Ice Cream Pie

I first made this pie last year, the month it came out on the cover of Bon Appetit. It is so good, I have made it numerous times since. I just made it again last week while here in CA at my parents house.
Don't be scared off by the steps--each one is quite easy and can be done simultaneously. I have eliminated one step by just putting all of the ice cream in first, spreading the lemon curd on, then freezing (rather than layering and freezing in between each step)--still looks and tastes great! Bon Appetit!

Lemon Meringue Ice Cream Pie
(Bon Appetit, April 2007)

Lemon curd
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
Pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

3 cups vanilla ice cream, slightly softened, divided

4 large egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar

For lemon curd: Whisk eggs and egg yolks in medium bowl. Melt butter in medium metal bowl set over large saucepan of simmering water. Whisk in sugar, lemon juice, lemon peel, and salt; gradually whisk in egg mixture. Whisk until thick and thermometer inserted into curd registers 178°F to 180°F, about 8 minutes. Transfer to small bowl. Press plastic wrap on top of curd; chill 4 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

For crust: Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix pecans, sugar, and butter in medium bowl until moistened. Press pecan mixture onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish (mixture will be crumbly). Bake until crust is lightly toasted, about 12 minutes (crust will slip down sides of dish). Use back of spoon to press crust back into place. Cool crust on rack. Freeze crust 30 minutes.
Dollop 1 1/2 cups ice cream over crust; spread into even layer. Spread lemon curd over ice cream; freeze until firm, about 2 hours. Dollop 1 1/2 cups softened ice cream over lemon curd; spread into even layer. Cover and freeze until firm, about 2 hours.

For meringue: Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in medium bowl until frothy. Beat in cream of tartar. With mixer running, gradually add sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Spoon meringue over pie, spreading to seal at edges and swirling decoratively. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Freeze pie. Using kitchen butane torch, toast meringue until golden in spots or place pie in a preheated 500°F oven until meringue is golden in spots, watching to prevent burning, about 3 minutes. Cut pie into wedges; serve immediately.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Le Jour at la Nuit Hotel de Crillon

This recipe is almost too good to share. Selfish, I know. It has become somewhat of a trademark dessert for me. But as much as I would like to take credit for this, it is not an original recipe. A friend in Rochester, NY first made this recipe for one of her many movie nights. Marc, being the chocolate lover the he his, thought he had died and gone to heaven. Seriously. Word of this recipe got out and it became quite a hot commodity. It sold at a ward auction for $75! I believe she got the recipe from Bon Appetite magazine, but it wasn't until we moved away that my begging finally resulted in her sharing the recipe with me.
This is quite an intense recipe, with many steps and days involved. I only make it once or twice a year--this year Marc gets it for Father's Day (hence, the tie design on top). If anyone actually makes this recipe, I would love to hear about it.
WARNING: This should only be eaten by those who consider themselves true chocolate lovers--this is NOT for the faint of heart!

Le Jour et la Nuit Hotel de Crillon (White and Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake)
(thanks to April Holmes, for changing our lives with this recipe!)

9 large egg yolks
1 c. sugar
6 Tblspn. cornstarch
3 c. milk, scalded
1 Tblspn. vanilla
14 oz. fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 c. well chilled heavy cream
14 oz. fine-quality white chocolate, chopped

6 oz. fine-quality white chocolate, grated
4 oz. fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, grated

In a large bowl whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar until mixture is combined well, add the cornstarch (sifted) and whisk the mixture until it is just combined.
Whisk in the scalded milk in a slow stream, transfer the mixture to a heavy saucepan, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly.
Boil the pastry cream, whisking, for 1-2 minutes, or until it is very thick and smooth, strain it through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl and stir in the vanilla.
Lay piece of plastic wrap on the pastry cream for 1-2 hours, or until it is completely cooled.
In the top of a double boiler, melt the bittersweet chocolate, stirring occasionally, and let it cool until it is lukewarm.
Transfer half of the pastry cream to a large bowl, whisk in the chocolate and whisk the mixture until it is well combined.
In a chilled bowl, with an electric mixer, beat 2 cups heavy cream until it holds soft peaks, stir in ¼ of it into the chocolate mixture, and fold in the remaining whipped cream gently, but thoroughly.
Pour the dark chocolate mousse into a lightly oiled 10-inch springform pan, and spread evenly. Chill while making the white chocolate mousse.
Repeat the above process for the white chocolate (melting, mixing it in the pastry cream, adding the heavy cream, and then spreading it on top of the dark chocolate mousse)
Cover the cakes loosely with parchment paper or wax paper and chill overnight.
Run a thin knife around the edge of the cake, remove the side of the pan and smooth the side of the cake with a spatula.
Put the cake on a rack set in a shallow baking pan, press the grated white chocolate onto the side, gathering the excess in the pan and reapplying it until the side is completely coated evenly.
Transfer the cake to a serving platter. Mound the white chocolate carefully on half the cake and the dark chocolate on the other half of the cake. Chill again until ready to serve.