Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Peanut-Butter/ Chocolate Covered ritz crackers

My daughter, Stacy, discovered these while she was at Baylor. She came home one Christmas and made them for us.  We have been hooked ever since.  Warning--they are adictive.  We make them in milk chocolate and white chocolate bark. You can find the bark in microwavable containers on the baking isle.
1 container of white chocolate bark
and/or 1 container of milk chocolate bark
ritz crackers ( as many as you want to make)
peanut butter
First, you spread peanut butter between two crackers. I make these up before I start dipping in chocolate. Second, you melt the bark in the microwave or in a double boiler.  Then you dip the ritz cracker, both sides, in the chocolate.  Jud says there is a trick to it.  After he puts them on the wax paper to harden, he lets the next cookie drip over the top of any holes that weren't completely covered. He uses tongs when dipping. Hope your family enjoys these as much as we do.

Peppermint Bark

I have made this for the last 2-3 years for Christmas. It didn't go over that well this year, so I will probably stick with the peanut-butter/chocolate covered ritz crackers and the Heath Bar candy.  But here is the recipe
white and milk chocolate bark or chips
Crushed peppermint candy canes to yield 2 cups- divided use
1/2 t. Peppermint flavoring, optional ( divided use)
Place candy canes in a plastic bag and hammer into pieces. Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler or microwave for 1 min. and then 15 second intervals until melted. Combine 1/2 cup of the peppermint chips to the chocolate mix. Stir until melted into the chocolate. Add peppermint flavoring if desired. Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet layered with parchment or waxed paper and place in the refrigerator about 25 min.
Second layer - Melt the white chocolate and 1/2 cup of the peppermint as desired.  Add peppermint flavoring if desired. Pour the melted white chocolate over the milk chocolate and spread evenly over the dark chocolate.  Sprinkle rest of the crushed peppermint over the white chocolate. Let harden for about 45 min. and then break into pieces ( like peanut brittle.)

Heath Bars

I have been making this for Christmas for the past 30 years.  I taught kindergarten at a private school in Round Rock and one of my students gave this to me for Christmas. I fell in love at first bite. Hope you enjoy it as well.
2 stick butter (no substitute)
1 cup blanched slivered almonds (to be added later)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon water
1 Tablespoon white Karo syrup
Mix all ingredients except the almonds in a small saucepan. Over a high flame, stir constantly until the mixture is a shade darker than brown sugar. At least 6 minutes. Spread quickly on an ungreased cookie sheet. Use a spatula to spread about 1/8" thick. Put 3 extra-large hershey bars on top and spread over mixture. When chocolate is melted, add small crushed almonds over top. Press lightly into chocolate. When cool break into pieces. Top with more blanched almonds if desired.

Chicken, Ham, and Vegetable Chowder

This is our soup for the week.  We had a salt cured Virginia ham given to us for Christmas dinner. We had it for dinner, but still had a bunch left on the bone. I boiled it last night to get as much of the ham off the bone as I could. I just had a taste and it is great without adding any salt. The ham salts the whole soup.

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup cooked, cubed ham
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups chicken stock
1 zucchini, unpeeled, and cubed
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
chopped parsley for topping
In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, warm oil. Add onions and bell pepper. Saute' until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in ham and chicken and cook for 5 minutes. Add potatoes and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Add zucchini, corn, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook, covered, until vegetables are tender and chicken turns white, about 10 min. longer. 
In a cup, blend flour and milk. Add to soup and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with parsley.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Vegetable Bars

The first time I had these was at a shower and Shirley Hartley brought them.  I loved them so got the recipe and have been making them often.  They have a beautiful presentation because they are so colorful with all the vegetables.
2 tubes of refrigerated Crescent Rolls
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2- 8 oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 envelope Ranch dressing mix
3/4 cup of te following:
chopped green peppers (red and greeen would be nice for Christmas)
grated carrots
chopped broccoli
sliced cauliflower
siced scallions
diced tomato--peeled and seeded
3/4 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
Cover bottom of 11" X 17" pan with unrolled sheets of crescent dough (pat and stretch to fit). Bake 350 degree oven until lightly browned (7-8 min) Let cool.
First layer:
In a mixing bowl combine mayonnaise, sour cream cream cheese, and ranch dressing mix. Spread on colled crust in pan.
Second layer:
Combine the veggies and toss to mix with cheese. Spread over the first layer in pan. Cover with plstic wrap and press the vegetable/cheese mixture into the first layer.
Refrigerate (still covered) at least 3-4 hours. Can be prepared the day before. Cut into small bars just before serving. Makes 5 dozen bars.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Chicken, Sausage, and Shrimp Gumbo

We eat on a pot of soup all week during the winter months. This is a good one.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour                                      1 lb. reduced-fat smoked sausage, sliced
Cooking spray                                                     1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped                                         1 small bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced                                        1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper                          2 boneless chicken breast, chopped -if you cut while
1 and 1/2- 32oz container chicken broth                           partially frozen,it is easier      
1-14 oz can diced tomatoes                                 1/2 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp   
1- 10oz. package  frozen okra (optional)              Hot cooked rice
Cook flour in a dutch oven over medium heat, stirring constantly, 10 min. (It will burn if you don't watch it. Remove from heat. Saute sausage in a dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic cloves, thyme , and red pepper.  Saute for 5 min. Add chicken, and saute 3 min. Stir in flour until blended. Gradually add broth and tomatoes. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 min. Add shrimp and, if desired, okra. Simmer 20 min. Serve with cooked rice.                  

Peppermint Patties

This recipe calls to coarsely crush peppermint candies to adorn these ice cream sandwiches. I took the easy way out and used peppermint ice cream. It is in the grocery stores this time of year, and it is so refreshing after a meal, but I will write the recipe like it is in the book.
1/2 cup flour                                      1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda                  1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, soft                            1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed            1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla                              30 peppermint candies
4 cups vanilla ice cream
Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and set aside. Beat butter and sugars at medium speed. Add egg and vanilla. Beat until blended. Add flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time to sugar mixture. Lightly grease hands with cooking spray. Divide dough in half. Shape into six inch log and wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze for 1 hour. Working with 1 log at a time, cut into 12- 1/2 inch thick pieces. Place 1" apart and bake at 350 degrees for 11 min. Let cool 2 min and remove to wire rack to cool completely. Spread ice cream on bottom 1/2 of cookie. Top with the other cooled cookie and roll sides in peppermint candy. Wrap each cookie in plastic wrap and freeze at least 4 hours.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Halibut Veracruz

I made his recipe with red fish about 10 years ago and the fish was bad. I haven't made it since because it brings back such bad memories.  This fish is good so I think it will be a great meal. Chet Rawie caught the fish while in Alaska this summer, and shared his bounty with us.  Lucky us.  The recipe is from Guy Fieri from FoodNetwork

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
3 cloves garlic. thinly sliced
2 cups diced tomatoes
1 medium jalapena, diced
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoon butter
4 (8oz) hallibut fillets
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup spanish olives, cut into thin rounds, plus 2 tablespoons olive juice from bottle
2 medium avocadoes, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook until lightly colored, about 3 min. Add tomato, jalapeno and white wine. Cook until wine is reduced by 2/3, about 5-7 min. While sauce is reducing, heat butter in a separate skillet over medium heat. Season fish with kosher salt. When butter is melted, add halibut to the pan. Cook 2 min. flip over and then transfer pan to preheated oven and bake until cooked through, about 10 min. Remove sauce from heat when reduced and stir in olives and olive juice.

To serve, divide sauce equally among 4 dinner plates. Place halibut (first caramelized side up) in the center of each plate on top of the sauce. Place avocado slices on top of fish, sprinkle with lime juice and cilantro, as garnish.

Calico Chicken Soup

We love soup this time of year.  We make a different soup every week and eat on it for lunch. Now that the weather here in San Antonio is finally cold, I am really looking forward to this soup. This is one that I make over-and-over.  It is From the cookbook, "Is it Soup Yet" by Dot Vartan

3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onions, minced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 lb. boneless chicken breasts (skinned and cubed)
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup carrots, diced
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb. green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup fresh corn
1 cup zucchini, diced
1 small red pepper, minced
2 Tablespoons finely copped parsley
In a 4 quart stock pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and celery and saute' 5 min. on medium heat. Add the garlic and chicken and saute',stirring often for 10 min. Add the tomatoes, white pepper and salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for 20 min. Add green beans, corn, zucchini, and red pepper. Cover and cook for 10 min. Stir in the parsley. Serve

Fresh, colorful vegetbles gives this chicken soup a wonderful flavor and a festive look.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Prosciutto and Fontina Stuffed Chicken Breasts

This recipe comes from cooking light.

Cooking spray
1 ounce chopped proscuitto
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded fontina cheese
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
42 saltine cracker (about 1 sleeve)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 large egg whites or 1 large egg
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons canola oil
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add prosciutto to pan; saute' 2 minutes or until browned. Add rosemary and garlic to pan; saute' 1 min. Spoon prosciutto mixture into a bowl; cool to room temperature. Stir in fontina cheese; set aside.  Cut a horizontal slit through thickest portion of each chicken breast half to form a pocket. Stuff about 2 tablespoons prosciutto mixture into each pocket; secure with toothpicks that have been soaked in water to prevent burning. Sprinkle chicken evenly with pepper. Place crackers in food processor; process 2 min. or until finely round. Place cracter crumbs in a shallow dish. Place flour in another shallow dish. Combine egg whites and mustard in another shallow dish, stirring mixture with a whisk. Working with one chicken breast half at a time, dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Dip chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Dip chicken into egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Coat chicken completely with cracker crumbs. Set aside. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken. Heat pan over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add chicken to pan; reduce heat to medium, and cook 10 min on each side or until browned and done. Turn often to prevent burning.

Milano's Chicken with Mustard Sauce

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
6 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped shallots
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 pint heavy cream
3 Tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste
Wash chicken breasts and pat dry with a paper towel. If desired, tenderize and flatten the breasts to a uniform thickness to allow them to cook evenly by placing them between two sheets of plastic wrap and pounding with a mallet until evenly flattened. I did not do this because mine were all the same size.
Heat 3 Tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saute' pan. Maintain the heat at a fast sizzle, but do not let it smoke. Saute' the breasts until browned on one side, about 3-4 minutes. Turn with tongs and cook on the other side until meat feels firm when pressed and juices begin to emerge around the edges, about 3-4 min. more. (Done at 160 degrees). Remove the breasts to a warm platter and keep warm in oven set at 200 degrees. Add the remaining oil to the pan, allow it to heat, then add the shallots and mushrooms and saute' for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Mix the heavy cream and mustard together, then add to the pan. Reduce heat slightly and cook, stirring and scraping up the congealed browned bits with a wooden spoon, until the sauce has reduced about two thirds and thickened to desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the chicken breasts immediately on warm plates, topped with the mushroom cream sauce.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Garden-Fresh Tomato-Basil Soup

I usually double this recipe because we love it so much and we never get tired of it.  I make it often because it is easy to make and oh so good.
3 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
3 pounds medium roma tomatoes (9-10) peeled, seeded, and chopped. To peel the tomatoes, I put them in a large pot of boiling water and let them boil for about 45 seconds (just until they split) It makes them easier to peel.
3 sprigs parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar\
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, or 1 teapoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 bay leaf
2-3 drops tabasco sauce
freshly ground pepper to taste
chiffonade of fresh basil leaves for top
1 can of  tomato sauce if the tomatoes are not very ripe and flavorful
In a soup pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion and garlic and saute' until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour and blend until bubbly. Add stock and stir until slightly thickened, 1-2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, except toppings. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove bay leafe and discard. Transfer in batches to a food processor or blender and puree'. Return to pot to reheat. I usually add 1 cup of whipping cream, half and half or whole milk but it is not called for in the recipe.  Ladle into bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream, if you didn't add whipping cream and a few strips of chiffonade basil.
When I made this soup again in Feb., I noticed that it did not have the tomato flavor I was looking for. I think the tomatoes were not as flavorful and a little unripe. I added a can of tomato sauce and it helped.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sausage, Corn, and Tomato Soup

I made two different soups for this weekend when the family comes.  Actually, I was the sue chef and Jud made this soup. We doubled this recipe.
3/4 pound bulk pork sausage
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14.5 ounces) whole or diced tomatoes with juice
2 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
3/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Crushed tortilla chips for topping
In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, brown sausage for about 5 min, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic, and saute' until vegetables are tender, about 5 min. Add tomatoes, stock, corn, salt, and pepper.

Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until flavors are blended, about 20 min. Simmer, uncovered, 10 min. longer or until ready to serve. Ladle into bowls and top with crushed tortilla chips.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Autumn Spice Cake

Jud's favorite cake for his birthday has always been spice cake. I have tried many recipes and usually end up just using the box spice cake with cream cheese icing. This recipe came out in the San Antonio express news two days before his birthday so I decided to use it this year. I think we have a keeper.  This recipe was from Country Living Magazine via The Express News in San Antonio.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup shortening
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon unsweet cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Prehead oven to 350 degrees. Line three 8" cake pans with parchment paper and butter lightly.
Beat butter, shortening, and sugars together until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth and light. Stir in buttermilk and vanilla. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and spices together in a large bowl. Altenately stir the flour mixture and buttermilk, in thirds, into the beaten batter. Blend well with each addition. Pour batter into the pans and bake until center tests clean, about 30-35 min. Cook cakes in the pans on a rack for 30 min. unmold, and cool completely before frosting.

1 stick butter, softened
1 (8oz) block of cream cheese, softened.
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 box powdered sugar
Mix butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add vanilla and then powdered sugar a little at a time. Beat until smooth.  Ice cooled cakes between each layer and all over top and sides.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 head of garlic
3 cups chopped onions
3/4 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
4 pounds butternut squash
6 cups chicken stock
3 Tablespoons fresh sage
butter and or olive oil to saute' vegetables
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the whole garlic in 1/2 and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap the garlic in foil and roast in the oven fr 40 min.
Cut up butternut squash in cubes and boil until fork tender
Melt better and or olive oil in pot and add onions, carrots, and celery. Saute' 5 min. Add cooked squash, broth, and sage. Squeeze garlic out of skin and mash with fork. Puree soup mixture until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of whipping cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Baked Oatmeal

I made this to have at Ruidoso when my hiking group came. It was nice because we could eat on it all week and just pour milk over the oatmeal in a bowl and warm it in the microwave.
2 eggs
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
Mix these together and add:
3 cups Oatmeal ( I used old fashioned)
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of vanilla
There was no baking powder at the cabin so I substituted 1 cup of sour cream and 1 teaspoon baking soda.
Stir ingredients well. Bake 350 degrees for 30 min. Add warm milk and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jud's pork tenderloin

Jud is the griller in our family. He is so good at it that I never tried to learn.  My mom told me when I got married to never learn to do something that your husband does well, or it will become your job.  I have taken that lesson to heart.

1 pork tenderloin (plain)
1/2 bottle Italian dressing
Marinade the pork in the Italian dressing for at least 2 hours.  Jud pours the marinade over at lunch and takes it out when he is ready to grill.
Prepare the grill and let the coals get hot.  Place the pork tenderloin (throw the marinade away) on the grill and grill for about 20-25 min.  Turn often.  Jud and I have a running argument about cutting the pork in 1/2. I say it lets all the juices run out, but he is the boss of the grill so he cuts it in 1/2 after about 20 min. to check to see if it is done. It is always delecious, so he must be right.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Yeast Rolls

My mom used to make these for every Sunday School party that she attended. She would make up 5 pounds of flour into rolls and put them in a cooler to keep warm for the party. She often complained that no one wanted her to bring anything else, but I think she secretly loved it and couldn't figure out why other people didn't make homemade bread. I think of my mom with fond memories whenever I cook. She definately gave me the gift of loving to cook and eat food.
I mix 1 package of yeast and 3 Tablespoons of warm water in a blender. Let sit until dissolved
2  eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
Blend ingredients and then add 1 cup of hot water. Blend
To a large bowl add 4 1/2 cups of flour and liquid mixture. Knead at least 5 minutes on a floured surface. Place in a clean bowl that has been oiled and allow to rise double. Punch down and let rise again. Make into rolls and let rise to double. Bake at 350 degrees 15-20 minutes.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pork Chops with Fennel and Caper Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
4 boneless pork chops
3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, plus more for seasoning meat
2 fennel blubs with fronds, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leav parsley, plus 1/3 cup
1/2 cup white wine
1 (28 oz. can diced tomatoes, with their juices
1/2 lemon, zested
2 Tablespoons capers
In a heavy skillet heat the olive oil over high heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Add the pork to the pan and brown on both sides, about 4 min. per side. Remove the pork from the pan, cover loosely with foil, and set aside3.
Add the fennel, shallots, and 1/3 cup parsley to the pan and cook over medium heat until beginning to brown, about 5 min. Add the wine. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and stir. Add the pork back into the pan, nesting the chops bvetween the fennel and tomatoes so they are mostly submerged in the pan juices. Cook until the fennel is tender and the pork is done, about 12 - 15 min. 
Place the pork on a serving dish. To finish the sauce, add the lemon zest, remaining 1/3 cup parsley, capers, and 3/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Spoon over the pork chops and serve immediately.  I am planning to stir some cooked pasta into the sauce.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Amish White Bread

I got this recipe from my Aunt Sherry from allrecipes.com.

2 cups warm water
2/3 cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
6 cups of bread flour
In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water; add yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam. Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Work in 5-6 cups of flour. Knead dough on a lightly floured level surface until smooth. Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat the entire surface. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until double in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in 1/2 . Shape into loaves, and place into two well-oiled loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 min., or until dough has risen to one inch above pans. Bake 350 degrees for 30 min.

Orange Muffins

We are leaving for Ruidoso, N.M. tomorrow morning so I am making these to take for our breakfast.  If they muffins are 1/2 as good as the batter, it will be delecious.
1 orange peel grated
3/4 cup pecans (chopped fine)
1 stick butter (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3  cup orange juice
Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add grated orange zest. Then add eggs and baking soda.
Add 1/2 of the flour and buttermilk. Mix well. Add other 1/2 . Fold in pecans. Bake 375 degrees for 20-25 min. Cool and brush the tops of muffins with fresh orange juice.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chocolate Brownie Cake

I'm making this for our church picnic this Sunday. I am having Bodie this weekend, so I will make it and freeze it until Sunday morning. I won't frost it until Sunday, but I am going to go ahead and make the frosting today and keep it in the refrigerator. FoodNetwork's Emeril Lagasse
1/2 pound btter, softened at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup butermilk
/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Buttermilk Frosting, recipe follows
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Grease and flour 2 (9inch) cake pans, then line with parchment paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix until thoroughly combined.
In a medium mixing bowl combine sifted flour, baking soda, and cocoa powder together.
In a small mixing bowl whisk the buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla together.
While the mixer with the butter mixture is on low speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the liquid ingredients.  Divide the cake batter evenly among the 2 prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake, comes out clean and the edges of the cake just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30-35 min. Transfer the cakes to a cooling rack and allow the cakes to cool in the pans. Carefully remove the cakes from the pans and frost as usual for a layered cake with the Chocolate Buttermilk Frosting.
Chocolate Buttermilk Frosting
1 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
8 ounces cream cheese
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted
2 Tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
In the bowl of the electric mixer combine the butter, cocoa powder and cream cheese over low speed and mix until thoroughly combined. Increase speed to high and cream ingredients until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar, buttermilk, and vanilla. Beat until mixture is smooth and thoroughly combined.

Mediterranean Chicken and Orzo Salad w/ Sun-dried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

Jud is going to be eating out at lunch for the next couple of days so I plan to eat on this for the next two days. I'm looking forward to it.  Exceptional!  Found it in the Express News of San Antonio.

8 oz. (1 1/4 cups) orzo
1 cup diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 garlic clove, finely chopped3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups crisp greens, such as romaine or Boston lettuce, for serving.
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil
2. Cook orzo according to package directions
3. Drain well
4. Combine orzo with chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, olives, and pine nuts in a large bowl
Wisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
Pour the dressing over the saladand toss to combine.

Baked Cheese Crepes

We love this recipe and I have even served it for company. I could see using my recipe for german hotcakes for the crepes, but I will give you Giada's recipe as it is.  I have made this many times and people always want the recipe.  It comes from Giada De Laurentiis of Foodnetwork.  http://wwhttp://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/baked-cheese-crepes-recipe/index.html

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
6 large eggs
1/3 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces fontina cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
8 ounces fresh water-packed mozzarella, drained, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 cup marinara sauce,  Giada's Marinara Sauce
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Wisk the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Heat a 6-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Brush the skillet with some butter. Working quickly, pour 3 tablespoons of the egg mixture into the pan, swirling to coat the bottom of the pan evenly. Cover and cook until the egg crepe is just set, about 1 min. Invert the skillet over a plate, and allow the egg crepe to drop onto the plate. Repeat to make 10 crepes total, brushing the skillet with melted butter as needed and stacking crepes on the plate.
Butter a 13 X 9 X 2-inch baking dish. Arrange 1 egg crepe on a work surface. Place some of the fontina and mozzarella cheese in the center of the egg crepe, then sprinkle with some basil. Roll up the crepe. Place the filled crepe in the prepared baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining egg crepes, cheese, and basil. Spoon the marinara sauce over the crepes. Sprinkle with the parmesan and dot with 2 Tablespoons of butter. Bake until the cheese melts and to top is golden, about 15 min.

German Hotcakes

I serve these for breakfast, but I could see using these for a crepe recipe.
3 whole eggs
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
In a blender add eggs, milk, and salt. Turn on the blender and then add the flour.  Pour into a non-stick pan. It will make 4 thin pancakes the size of the pan.  After you pour in about 1/2 cup of the batter, pick up the pan and tilt it from side to side to cover the entire pan. Replace on the burner and cook both sides of the pancake. Serve with butter and syrup.

Spinach-Chicken Bake

I'm going to give the the rcipe as it was given to me.  Unless I made this for a big crowd, I would have to cut this down to only 2 chicken breast halves.  I will put out to the side what I plan to do in cutting the recipe.
3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese       (1 T.)
12 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (2)
1/2 cup sliced green onions               (1 T.)
2 Tablespoons butter                        (1 T)
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour        (1T)
1 cup milk                                         (1/2 cup)
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach (1/2 package)
1 4-ounce package boiled ham slices, chopped (1 slice)
1. In a shallow dish combine bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Lightly coat chicken pieces with some of the crumb mixture. Arrange in a 3-quart retangular baking dish. Reserve te remaining crumb mixture.
2. In a large saucepan cook green onions in butter untl tender. Stir in flour. Add milk all at once. Cook and wisk until thickened and bubbly. Cook and wisk for 1 min. more. Stir in spinach and ham.
3. Spoon spinach mixture over chicken; sprinkle with the remaining crum mixture. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 min.( I will probably check mine after 35 min.) or until chicken is no longer pink (170 degrees)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Herb and Goat Cheese Omelet

I found a recipe for goat cheese omelet and bought the stuff to make it and then coudn't find the recipe.  I did a search for goat cheese omlet and found one that looks close. I plan to serve this for lunch with a piece of crusty bread and a salad.
4 large eggs
1 Tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, divided
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 cup (1 oz) crumbled goat cheese
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup thinly sliced zucchini
1/2 cup julienne- cut red bell pepper ( I bought roasted red peppers for the other recipe so will use those)
dash of salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
Whisk eggs and 1 Tablespoon water in a bowl. Stir in 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Set aside. Combine parsley, tarragon, and goat cheese in a small bowl. Set aside. Heat 1 teaspoon olive in an 8 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper, zucchini, bell pepper, and a dash of salt to pan. Cook for 4 min or until tender. Remove zucchini mixture from pan. Cover and keep warm.
Place 1/2 teaspoon oil in skillet. Pour half of the egg mixture into the pan, and let egg mixture set slightly (do not str). Carefully soosen set edges of omelet with a spatula, tipping the pan to pour uncooked egg to the sides. Continue this procedure for about 5 seconds or until almost no runny egg remains. Sprinkle half of the cheese mixture evenly over the cooked omelet.Cook omelet 1 min or until set. Slide omelet onto plate, folding into thirds. Repeat procedure with remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil, egg mixture, and goat cheese mixture. Sprinkle chives over omelets. Serve with zucchini mixture.

Moroccan Couscous

I love this recipe for couscous. It is the only one I use.  It comes from Barefoot Contessa, but I didn't not which cookbook.

4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup chopped shallots
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon each of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 cups couscous
1/2 cup pignoli nuts toasted
1/4 cup currants ( I use dried cherries)
Melt the butter in a large sauce pan, add the shallots and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat. Add the chicken stock, salt and pepper. Raise the heat to high and bring the stock to a boil. Cut off the heat and add the couscous. Cover the pan and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Add the pignoli nuts and cuttants to the couscous. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Chicken Parmesan

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon each fresh thyme, rosemary and parsley
4 chicken cutets
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup marinara sauce
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
8 teaspoons parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon butter cut in pieces
Prehead oven to 500 degrees. Stir oli and herbs to blend. Brush cutlets with oil mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat ovenproof skillet over high heat. Cook 1 min. on each side. Remove from heat and spoon marinara sauce over and around the cutlet. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons parmesan cheese and dot each cutlet with butter pieces. Bake until cheese melts and chicken cooks through. About 5 minutes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Soft Taco Stacks

This is what I do sometimes with left-over baked chicken.

1-16 oz can refried beans
9- 10" flour tortillas
1 8oz. pkg. mexican 4 cheese blend  - grated
2 jalapena peppers- seeded and chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped chicken
6 green onions
1 1/2 cup shredded lettuce
1 - 8 oz. jar salsa
2 medium tomatoes - seeded and chopped
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 avocado
Spread beans on 1 side of 3 tortillas, beans side up on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with cheese , jalapena pepper, chicken and green onions. Bake 350 degrees until cheese melts. Place a tortilla on top of cheese tortilla and add lettuce, 2 T. salsa, tomatoes, cilantro and avocado.  Top with last flour tortilla and cut into 1/4's. Serve with extra sala.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Coconut Rice

2 cups jasmine-scented white rice ( I just used regular rice)
2 cups coconut milk
1 3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon canola oil ( for rubbing in pot)
Optional - 1 teaspoon white or brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon coconut flavoring
2 Tablespoons toasted coconut
1. Rub oil onbottom of deep-sided pot
2. Place rice, coconut milk, water, and salt in the pot on medium/high heat - Stirring well
3. Add sugar and flavorings if desired. Con tinue stirring until rice mixture begins to boil. Stirring keeps the rice from sticking and burning.
4. Once mixture is boilin stop stirring and turn heat to medium/low. Place lid askew on the pot to allow steam to escape.
5. Cook 15-20 minutes or until almost all liquid has been absorbed.
6. Turn off heat, but leave pot on burner. Cover pot with lid and let rest 5-10 minutes. It will have a sticky texture.
7. When ready to serve, fluff rice with a fork. Place toasted coconut on top of each serving if desired.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Angel Food Cake with Peach Cream and peaches

1 angel food cake
2 8-ounce cartons peach fat-free yogurt
1 4-serving-size package sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix
1 8-ounce container light whipped dessert topping
For the peach cream, stir together yogurt and 1/4 of the pudding mix until smooth. Gradually add remaining pudding mix to yogurt, stirring until smooth after each additon. Fold in whipped topping. Serve the cake with peach cream and peaches.

You can also use lemon fat-free yogurt and serve with strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries.

Fish Tacos & Pinto salad

We love fish tacos and these are right up there with the best. The first time I even heard of fish tacos was about 10 years ago and we were eating dinner with Stacy and Randel in Austin. Stacy ordered them and I remember saying, "Yuk" She said you should try them. I took one bite of hers and I was hooked. We have them at least once a month. You can use about any rub that you have on hand. That makes it about a 15 min. meal if you already have the rub. Cooking Light 2010

Ingredients for Crema:
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise
3 Tablespoons reduced fat sour cream
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garli clove, minced
Ingredients for Tacos:
1 teaspoon ground cummin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 pounds talapia
Cooking spray
8 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cabbage
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. To prepare crema, combine the first 8 ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside. To prepare tacos, combine cummin and next 5 ingredients (through garlic powder) in a small bowl, sprinkle spice mixture evenly over both sides of fish. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425 degrees for 9 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Place fish in a bowl, break into pieces with a fork. Heat tortillas according to package directions. Divide fish evenly among tortillas; top each 1/4 cup cabbage and 1 Tablespoon crema. Yield: 4 servings

Pinto Salad
Combine 1 cup diced plum tmatoes, 1/2 cup diced yellow bell pepper, 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, 1/4 cup minced seeded jalapeno pepper, 2 Tablespoons lime juice, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed, stir well.  I add an avocado in mine.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Marinara Sauce

This is the marinara Sauce that I make for anything from polenta to pasta.  Definitely a go-to marinara sauce recipe.  Comes from Giada De Laurentiis - FoodNetwork
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (32 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves
In a large casserole pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute' until the onions are translucent, about 10 min. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Saute' until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 min. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste. ( The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.) I makes more than we need for a meal so I divide it in 1/2 and freeze part of it. The night I want to use it, I take it out of the freezer to thaw. I sometimes put it in batches in the food processor to make the sauce smooth.

My Mama's Waffles

 Tonight we had breakfast for dinner.  Sometimes, that just sounds better than anything I can think to have. 

4 eggs, separated
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Beat 4 egg whites until stiff. Set aside
Mix 4 egg yolks, 1/4 cup oil, milk, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Fold in egg whites by hand. Pour in waffle grill and cook until desired browness. Serve with your favorite syrup or jam.

My mama used to make these often. I have always loved her waffles and have a hard time ordering them at a restaurant because they are too hard. I could easily have these 2-3 days a week. But then I would probably gain about 20 pounds I don't need.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Maggie's Beans

My daughter-in-law's mother makes some amazing beans. She makes one batch for our daughter, Stacy and the rest of her family and she makes one batch for the rest of our family that likes hot, but not as hot as she likes it. I will give you her recipe and then in parenthesis what I do.
1 1/2 pounds of pinto beans ( I use 1 pound)
Maggie buys loose beans not prepackaged so she can find the new beans. Lighter colors are fresh and clean the darker ones are older and not as fresh ( I buy packaged beans)
1 finely chopped medium size onion
4-5 finely chopped medium size tomatoes very ripe
3-4 chopped jalapenos - chopped small ( I use two)
3-4 chopped serrano peppers - chopped small ( I use none)
1 chopped habanero pepper just in case the others are not hot enough (I use none)
1 lb package of bacon ( I use 1/2 package)
1 bunch cilantro, everything even the stems she says that is the tastiest part
salt to taste
Clean and rinse beans. Put beans in a 5-6 quart pot and fill with water. If it's bigger it's o.k. because when you pour in all the ingredients you need room so it won't overflow. Plus you want plenty of water because that will end up being the tastiest part of the beans. Set it to high until they come to a boil and then set to medium-low. Beans will cook for an hour to and hour and a half until they are tender. Mae sure to look over them throughout to make sure they have plenty of water. Add water as needed to make sure they are covered. While beans are cooking prepare the other ingredients.
Chopbacon in small pieces and cook in aseparate pan. Once the bacon is crispy add chopped onion and chopped peppers. Leave the bacon greese in pan to saute' them. Then add chopped cilantro and continue cooking. Add in finely chopped tomatoes and cook for 5 min. If there isn't enough oil from th bacon, just add 1/4 cup of cooking oil so everything gets cooked well.
When bens are tender, pour everything rom the pan with bacon ingredients into the beans. After 5 minutes, taste to see how much salt is needed. The bacon will add salt so be sure to taste. The longer they cook, the tastier they get.

Thanks Maggie, we love your beans even though we tame them way too much for your taste.
Next, I want your salsa recipe. It is amazing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bread Pudding

I make this for Wed. night church dinners often. It makes more than Jud and I can eat, and it is always gone at the end of the dinner.  It doesn't need any kind of sauce, but my mother usually made a lemon sauce for it.   Sometimes instead of toasting the bread in the toaster, I just cube the bread and put it in a 350 degree oven for about 30 min. then I pour the butter over the top.  This was a recipe I got from my mother, Barbara Brown. Don't know where she got it.

10 slices of toasted bread
2 sticks of butter - melted
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups milk
nutmeg for top

Break toasted bread into bite-size pieces and put in a pan with melted mutter. Stir until butter is soaked into bread. Beat eggs, and add sugar, milk, and vanilla. Put bread mixture in a 9" X 13" pan and pour egg mixture over the bread mixture. Mash down so the egg mixture will soak into the bread. Sprinkle top with nutmeg. Bake 400 degrees - 45 min. Turn off oven and let it finish browning to the color you want.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Corny Polenta

Food Network's Rachel Ray

2 ears of fresh corn on the cob or 1 cup frozen kernels of corn, defrosted
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3-4 scallions finely chopped
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup quick-cooking polenta
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons hot sauce (or to taste)
Kosher salt
Scrap the corn from the cob using a sharp knife ( I put my corn in the middle of a bunt cake pan and allow the kernels to fall into the pan)
Heat the extra virgin olive oil to medium/high heat in a medium size sauce pan. Heat the corn until it starts to brown on the edges (3-4 min.) Add the scallions and cook 1 min. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Whisk in the polenta and cook until thick. (2-3 min.) Stir in the butter and hot sauce to taste. Transfer to serving bowl and serve or place in a 12" X 13" pan and place in refrigerator to get solid. Cut into squares and fry in butter when ready to use. I like to serve mine with marinara sauce.

Chicken with Mustard and Garlic-Butter Sauce

This recipe came from The New Best Recipe by Cook's Illustrated

2 chicken breasts
1 beaten egg
bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons olive oil and 2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Salt and pepper the chicken breast. Make 3 separate pans with the following 3 ingredients. 1) flour 2) 1 beaten egg 3) bread crumbs. First, place the chicken breast in the pan with flour and dust both sides. Remove from flour pan and place the chicken in the beaten egg mixture. Remove from pan and place in the bread crumbs. Remove from bread crumbs. Heat the olive oil and butter to medium/high heat in a non-stick skillet. Place the chicken breast in the skillet and cook 4-5 min. on each side. Remove from skillet to a warm plate. I zested a whole lemon over the top of each chicken breast. It just added a bit of freshness that I really liked. Keep warm in a 200 degree oven tented with foil or serve immediately.
Mustard-Garlic Butter with Thyme
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
ground black pepper
Mash all of the ingredients, inclucing pepper to taste, together in a small bowl. Serve over chicken. A side of polenta with marinara sauce is what I will serve with this dish. Recipe for polenta will follow.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chocolate Pie

When we lived in Houston and were just starting Heritage Park Baptist Church, we were meeting with First Baptist Friendswood until our building was finished.  I met a sweet lady who gave me this recipe. I have used it for 35 years because I have never found a chocolate pie recipe that I like better.

Chocolate Pie
3 Tablespoons cocoa
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
6 Tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cook above ingredients in a double boiler and stir constantly until thick.
Pour 1/2 of this mixture in a bowl and add 1 beaten egg, 2 Tablespoons butter, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Mix well. Pour back in double boiler and cook 2 min. Pour in a cooked pie shell. Cool and top with whipped topping.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hawaiian Kabobs

Tonight I will have Jud cook some hamburger patties along with the chicken kabobs. When Jud grills, I usually have him grill for another meal at the same time. No need to start the grill twice when once will do. I put the pork tenderloin in a marinade this morning. When we get ready to grill we don't do it like the recipe says. We found that if we put things on the skewer that have similar cooking times it works best. Before putting the vegetables on the skewers, coat with extra virgin olive oil. Then put the meat on one, the tomatoes, pineapple, and mushrooms on another, the peppers and onions on the last. I am serving roasted potatoes and some fried okra for the side dishes.
Hawaiian Kabobs
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1/4 cup oil
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast cut in cubes
1 cup unsweet pineapple chunks
1 green pepper cut in cubes
12 medium mushrooms
12 cherry tomatoes
onion cut in chunks
Combine 1st 8 ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 min. let cool. Pour mixture into a shallow dish and add chicken cubes. Marinate 1 hour. Put last 5 ingredients on a skewer and grill 20 min. or until veg. or soft.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mixed Greens with Hearts of Palm and More

Tonight, I'm bringing back the Chicken Casserole and serving it in the puff pastry shells for the main dish.

Mixed greens for 4
1/2 cup artichoke hearts, quartered
1/2 cup Hearts of Palm, sliced
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons basil, fresh, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
Dressing: Add vinegar and garlic to the fod processor or blender. With the processor running, drizzle in the oil. Add the basil, salt, and pepper. Pulse a few times.
Salad: Arrange the greens on a medium platter. Place the artichokes and hearts of palm on the salad. Ladle on the dressing. Garnish wth the toasted pine nuts.

Roasted Asparagus:
This is a favorite of ours. Bend the asparagus at the end to tell how much of the stem you need to cut-off. At a farmers market in Oregon this Summer, I talked to a man who grew asparagus. He said that he only cuts off about 1/8 inch of the asparagus and peels the bottom 1/4 of the asparagus. He likes to eat all of it. I have tried this, and I prefer to pop off the large end of the asparagus.

Place the asparagus on a baking sheet. Drizzle on extra virgin olive oil and use your hands to make sure all of the asparagus is covered. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and peper. Bake 400 degrees for abot 15 min.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Quick Focaccia

Jud is such a sucker for cupons. He was looking through the coupons for Costco and found a tomato basil soup that was already made and there was a coupon for $2.00 off. We bought it and I made this focaccia bread to go with it for lunch yesterday. It is a wonderful recipe. You can use almost any herbs that you have on hand. I didn't have any parmesan cheese and it worked fine with the soup.

3/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 quarter ounce package (2 1/2 teaspoons) yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1 Tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons chopped fresh romemary leaves
Coarse salt to taste
Lightly grease a baking pan, 13" X 9". In a bowl stir together water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 5 min. In another bowl stir together flour and table salt. Gradually stir into yeast mixture until mixture forms a soft dough. On a lightly floured work surface with floured hands, knead dough 5 min. or until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball. Invert bowl over dough and let rest 10 min. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 13" X 9" rectangle and transfer to the baking pan, pressing into corners. Let dough rise, covered loosely with clean towel, in a warm place 30 min.. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle dough with parmesan, rosemary, coarse salt, and pepper to taste. Press indentations about 1/4 inch deep and 1 inch apart all over the dough with lightly oiled fingertips ( I use olive oil) and bake focaccia in middle of oven 20 min. or until golden. Cool focaccia in pan on a rack.

Today (Nov.13,2009) I used the focaccia bread to make a chicken/pesto pizza.  After baking the focaccia bread , I let it cool a little and then spread it with pesto sauce and topped with baked chicken and mozorella cheese. It was awesome.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Chicken Casserole

6 chicken breasts (I'm using a whole chicken)
1 medium onion
1 medium jar mushrooms, chopped (I'm using fresh)
1/4 stick butter
2 cans cream of chicken or mushroom soup (I'm using one can)
3/4 can evaporated milk (I will use the whole can or enough to make it the consistency I want)
1/2 pound cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon tobasco sauce
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
1 jar pimientos
1/2 cup chopped almonds
Boil chicken and debone. Saute onion and mushrooms in butter. Add remaining ingredients except almonds. Simmer until cheese melts: Pour over chicken in a 9" X 13" casserole pan. Top with almonds. Bake 350 degrees until warm. Serve in Patty shells or over rice. I will probably do it one way tonight and the other way later in the week. It will make plenty.

The best Blueberry Muffins

I am going with my hiking budies for an outing next week and decided to make these wonderful blueberry muffins for breakfast or snacking. I found blueberries on sale, and couldn't resist.
Didn't have a picture the first time I made them, but this time, in Oregon where the blueberries are plentiful, I snapped a picture. 

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar, or slightly less depending on tartness of blueberries
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups blueberries (mash 1/2 cut with a fork)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1 Tablespoon sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 12 regular muffin cups, including the area between each cup, or use foil baking cups. (I spray my baking cups with cooking spray)
In a medium-size bowl, beat butter until creamy. Beat in the sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla,baking powder, and salt. Mix mashed berries into batter.
Fold in 1/2 the flour with a spatula, then 1/2 the milk. Add remaining flour and milk. Fold in remaining blueberries. Scoop batter into muffin cups. Sprinkle with nutmeg sugar and bake 25-30 min. or until golden brown. Let muffins cool at least 30 min. in the pan before removing.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lip Smackin' Trail Mix

I make this as a granola w/o the dried fruit. I serve it with flavored yogurt for breakfast. When I need a trail mix for my hikking buddies, I add the dried fruit.

Everytime I make anything with sunflower seeds, I think of my mom. One day she was making a slaw recipe that my sister-in-law gave her. Yes, you guessed it, she added the whole sunflower in the shell. She sent it with my grandmother for one of her Eastern Star occasions. Grandma reported that almost no one took any and those that did were pushing the sunflower seeds out. She tasted it and knew why, but she still didn't know what she did wrong. We never left her forget to only use the meat. I still like that story. It makes me remember that my mom didn't mind laughing at herself. She told the story as often as we did.
2 cups granola
3/4 cups coarsely chopped pecans
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 (3 1/2 ounce) can flaked coconut (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (meat only)
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 (14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup canola or veg. oil

If as a trail mix
1 cup banana chips
1/2 cup dark or golden raisins
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except the banana chips, raisins, cherries, and apricots. Mix well. Spread evenly on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Bake 40-45 minutes stirring every 15 min. Remove from oven and stir in dried fruit if making trail mix. Cool and store.

Orange Yogurt
4 cups plain yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 good honey
1 orange, zested
1/2 to 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Place yogurt in a medium bowl and stir in vanilla, honey, and orange zest. Thin with orange juice until it is the desired consistency. Serve over granola for breakfast.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Chili-Cheese Beef Steak

3 Tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup diced onion
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 pounds round steak
1/4 cup canola oil
14 oz. cheddar cheese
1 can tomatoes
Combine flour, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Coat meat with this mixture and brown on both sides. Remove meat. Saute onions and stir in remaining flour mixture. In a casserole dish, spoon in onion mixture and arrange meat on top. Add diced tomatoes. Cover with foil and bake 350 degrees 1 1/2 hour. Sprinkle wth chesses and bake 5 min. longer to melt the cheese.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hazelnut Crunch Cake w/ Mascarpone and Chocolate

We had quiche left-over so no need to cook tonight. So I decided to make this fairly labor intensive cake. Hope it is worth the calories and labor. I'll let you know after dinner. Oh, my gosh, this is so worth the calories. This may well become my favorite cake until I try a new one.
Ingredients: Cake
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 (8") cake pans. Prepare the cake mix according to package instructions. Divide the batter between the 2 cake pans and bake according to package instructions. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
For the Crunch:
Place the toasted nuts close together in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir the sugar mixture until dissolved. Bring to a boil and let cook until the sugar is light brown, about 8 min. Let the bubbles subside then pour the caramelized sugar over the nuts. Place the baking sheet in he refrigerator and let the sugar/nut mixture cool until hard, about 30 min. When the sugar nut mixture is hard and cool, top with another piece of parchment paper and pound into small pieces, or place the sugar/nut mixture on a cutting board and cut into small pieces. Set aside.
For the filling:
Put the mascarpone cheese, cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla into a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer whip the cream mixture to soft peaks. Fold the crunch mixture into the whipped cream.
For the topping:
Place the chocolate chips, sugar, and zest in a blender or food processor. Process the mixture until the chocolate is finely ground.
To assemble the cake:
Put first layer on a serving plate. Top with 1 inch of whipped cream/crunch mixture. Top with second layer of cake and continue frosting the entire cake with the remaining whipped cream/crunch mixture. Sprinkle the top and sides of the cake with the ground chocolate.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


This recipe is so versatile.  I make this often because you can pretty-much use any meet or cheese that you like.  This is from Dan Rivers Cookbook
1 1/2 cups milk (I used some cream and milk because I had it)
2 eggs
8 oz. cheddar cheese (I used mozorella and cheddar because I had it) use what you have
1 pound cooked ground meat
chopped bacon
ground sausage
chopped ham
or broccoli and corn
Mix together and bake 400 degrees 1 hour. Take it out of the oven and cool for 15 min. so it will set. I used ham today and put some asparagus in strips around the pie. It was pretty and tasted wonderful.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Spicy Shrimp Over Rice

2 pounds raw shrimp (cleaned, deveined, and head removed)

1 bunch of green onions

small amount cilantro

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 stick butter (Paula would be proud)

1/2 cup picante sauce

1 Tablespoon milk

Saute onions and garlic, in butter, add cilantro, add picante sauce, and milk. Mix well over medium heat. Add shrimp, cover and cook until shrimp is done ( about 5 min) Serve over rice.  We had some left over so the next day, I toasted some kaiser rolls with olive oil and made sandwiches out of the shrimp.  I took some of the bread out of each side of the roll to make an indention for the spicy shrimp and sauce. Delecious.

Almost Famous Frozen Yogurt

Jud and I have gotten hooked on the Orange Cup out at La Cantara. It is pretty expensive so I made a mock version that I found in the Express News of San Antonio.

2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
2 cups plain nonfat or reduced-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup superfine sugar
3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup orange juice
Whisk both yogurts, the sugar, corn syrup, and orange juice in a bowl until combined. Pour into an ice cream maker and freezer according to manufacturer's instructions.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Holiday Pork Chops

1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
4 boneless pork chops (1"thick)
3 Tablespoons dried steak seasoning
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Melt butter in an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and celery. Saute' 10 minutes until vegetables are tender and liquid evaporates. Remove from heat. Stir in breadcrumbs, cranberries, and next 5 ingredients. Let stand 10 min. Pour mixture in plastic bag after 10 min. or another container. Wipe skillet clean. Cut a pocket in one side of each chop, cutting to but not through other side to form a pocket. If you put the mixture in a bag, snip one corner of the bag, and pipe breadcrumb mixture evenly into slits in port. You can also just spoon it from another container into the pocket. Sprinkle both sides of stuffed chopes with steak seasoning. Cook chops in hot oil in ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat 2-3 min. on each side or until chops are browned on both sides. Cover skillet with lid or aluminum foil and bake 350 degrees for 20-25 min or until thermometer inserted in port registers 155 degrees. Remove from oven, and let stand 5 min. or until thermometer registers 160 degrees.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Corn Omelet with Smoked Mozzarella and Basil

1 ear of corn, grilled or raw, the kernels sliced off the cob
2 eggs, beaten with 1 Tablespoon of water
a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 oz. grated low-fat smoked mozzarella cheese
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
If you are using new corn, put it in a small skillet with a few Tablespoons of water and simmer until tender and heated through. Drain, then add it to the beaten eggs and season with salt and pepper and basil. Stir in cheese. Whipe out the skillet you cooked corn in and add the olive oil. When it foams, pour in the eggs and give them a couple of quick stire around the pan. Cover with the plate you plan to eat from (it will warm it), lower the heat, and cook the eggs until pale gold on the bottom. Slide the omplet onto the plate, invert the pan over it, grasp the whole unit, and flip it over. Slide the omelet back into the pan and cook the second side just until it sets, about a min. Tip it onto your plate, and add a sliced tomato salad and serve.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

If you give a mouse a cookie

Juanita and I are taking Anthony to see "If you give a Mouse a Cookie" at Majik Theatre in San Antonio. I made these cookies to for this occasion. This is from Top Secret Recipes and is a version of Nabisco Oreo Cookies.

1 18.25 package of chocolate fudge cake mix
3 Tablespoons shortening, melted
1/2 cup cake flour, measured and sifted
1 egg
3 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons brown paste food coloring (optional)*
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 Tablespoons hot water
1. Combine the cookie ingredients in a large bowl. Add the water a little at a time until the dough forms. Cover and chill for 2 hours or overnight.
2. Prehead oven to 350 degrees
3. On a lightly floured surface roll out a portion of the dough to just under 1/16 " thick. To cut, use a lid from a spice container with a 1 1/2 " diameter. Arrange the cut dough rounds on a cookie sheet that is sprayed with a non-stick spray. Bake for 10 min. Remove wafers from the oven and cool completely.
4. As the cookies bake, make the filling by combining the filling ingredients with an electric mixer.
5. When the cookies have cooled, roll a small portion (1/4 teaspoon) of the filling into a vall (just over1/4 inch in diameter) and press it between two of the cookies. Repeat with the remaining cookies.
*If you do not use the food coloring be sure to change the amount of water added to the wafer cookies from 3 Tablespoons to 1/4 cup. The food coloring gives the cookies the dark brown, almost black color. The coloring can be found with cake decorating supplies at craft stores. I just used black food coloring from the grocery store

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Grilled Chicken and Avocado Napoleons

Lunch today was from "At Home with Giada" from the Food Network. It is delecious, but it is a 3-napkin sandwich.

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry (cut each of the 3 sections in 1/2 for two people)
kosher salt
olive oil, for drizzling
3 Tablespoons reduced fat mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
baby spinach leaves or any greens you have
I used one tomato

Place oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the pastry on the prepared baking sheets. Using the tines of a fork, prick the top of the pastry all over. Cover the pastry with parchment paper and place another baking sheet on top. Bake for 25 min. until golden brown. Remove the top baking sheets and parchment paper. Set aside to cool.
I used chicken that we had grilled the night before, but if you need to grill your chicken, then season with salt, pepper, and olive oil.. Grill chicken until it is cooked through, about 5-6 min on each side. Set aside.

In a small bowl mix together the mayonnaise and cayenne pepper.

To assemble the Napoleons: Place the first pastry on a plate and put a little of the mayonnaise on the pastry. Slice the chicken breast thin.  Giada suggests cutting it diagonally into 6 slices. Place 3 slices of chicken breast on each piece of pastry. Place greens and an avocado on top. Place another puff pastry on top and repeat the layers. Top with the final piece of pastry. Enjoy!

Quiche Muffins from Guenther House

I'm not sure where I got this recipe, but it says they are from the Guenther House so I assume that it came from the Express News of San Antonio.
4 eggs
1 cup milk
2/3 cup unsalted butter
3 cups bisquick
2 1/2 cups diced ham
2 cups shredded zucchini
3/4 cup chopped green onion (with green tops)
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
3/4 cup grated swiss cheese
3/4 cup grated provolone cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (spray muffin cups or use liners sprayed with cooking spray)
2. Stir eggs, milk, butter and biscuit mix in a bowl.
3. Stir in remaining ingredients, blending throughly (batter may be refrigerated overnight in an air-tight container)
4. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups
5. Bake 25- 30 min.
6. Remove from oven; allow to cool slightly before removing from pan