Monday, November 16, 2009

Tuscan Pork Roast

My sister recently posted this recipe and I knew immediately that it would be one my entire family would love.  Believe it or not, as picky as my little boy is... he is all about eating pork!  Don't tell my classroom of first graders-- they all know how much I love pigs! :)  This was an easy meal to throw together and the house smelled incredible as it roasted!  I honestly couldn't wait until it was done enough to eat!  I do recommend extending the marinating time as my sister suggested.  I left mine in the fridge for a little over an hour and the flavors really were allowed to work into the pork nicely.  My sister's other suggestion was to up the amount of garlic used.  As much as I would have loved it that way, I "took one for the team" and made it as the recipe suggested.  I'm not sure my picky eaters would have tolerated as much garlic as I would have liked to have used.  Even as written, it definitely has a strong garlic flavor and might be my new favorite pork loin 'go to' recipe.

**As a side note, a huge 'thank you' to Donna for the sweet award!  I promise to pass it along very soon! :)

Tuscan Pork Roast

5 to 8 garlic cloves, peeled

1 1/2 tablespoons dried rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 boneless whole pork loin roast (3 to 4 pounds)

In a food processor, combine garlic, rosemary, olive oil and salt; cover and process until mixture becomes a paste. Rub over the roast; cover and let stand for 30 minutes. (At Rachel's suggestion, I let mine stand for over an hour.)  Place roast, fat side up, on a greased baking rack in a shallow roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 1-1/4 to 2 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Source: Rachel vs. The Kitchen   

Friday, November 13, 2009

Chicken, Mushrooms and Parmesan with Orzo

I have to admit... I've been feeling like a bit of a blog stalker lately! :)  I find that I get hooked on different sites and end up making recipe after recipe suggested by that blogger.  Don't worry-- I rotate around and will likely come to yours, next!  That's my fair warning!  Lately, I have been making quite a few recipes from Pam's site, For the Love of Cooking.  I was so excited to find this on a new site, Macaroni and Cheesecake, and was thrilled that I would break up my harassment of Pam in the meantime!  I had to laugh when I started  to read the post only to find that it was another of Pam's recipes.  I guess I haven't broken my pattern after all!  I do have to thank Macaroni and Cheesecake for bringing this one to my attention.  I'm not sure how I missed it and it might be one of my new favorites! 

(As a side note... this dish reheats really well making it a perfect choice for the meal sharing plan.)

Chicken, Mushrooms, and Parmesan with Orzo

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup yellow onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 pound of orzo, cooked per instructions (I actually used closer to a 1/2 pound)
2-3 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Cook the orzo according to the box directions.  Add the chicken bouillon cubes to the water while cooking.  Drain the orzo thoroughly.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chopped onion, mushrooms, and thyme.  Sauté for 5 minutes or until the onion is tender. Add the chicken, sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Sauté 7-8 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and cooked through. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove skillet from the heat then add the cooked orzo, Parmesan and parsley to the chicken mixture and toss.  I served this with a garnish of freshly grated Parmesan and additional parsley.

Source: Macaroni and Cheesecake, originally posted on For the Love of Cooking

Monday, November 9, 2009

Corn and Fingerling Potato Chowder with Bacon

The moment the weather starts to get cooler, I am all about breaking out the soups, stews, and total comfort foods.  This chowder is one that I will likely be making quite often through the winter.  This soup definitely can stand on its own as a meal!  The bacon flavoring nicely complements the richness of the fingerling potatoes and the corn gives it a texture that can't be beat.  I served it with some fresh bread, garnished with additional crumbled bacon and shredded cheddar. 

Corn and Fingerling Potato Chowder with Bacon

3 slices lean bacon
1 3/4 cups diced onion
4 cups fresh corn kernels (due to seasonal availability, I used frozen)
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 cup half-and-half
16 ounces fingerling potatoes, diced
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Cook the bacon in a large dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and crumble. Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add corn, chopped thyme, and garlic to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in broth, milk, half-and-half, and potatoes; bring to a simmer. Cover and cook 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.

Transfer 2 cups of the potato mixture to a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth; return pureed mixture to pan. Stir in salt and black pepper; sprinkle with crumbled bacon.

Source: For the Love of Cooking

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Skillet Chili Mac with Corn and Green Chiles

This dish, from Donna's blog, immediately gained my attention as a great option for our 'meal sharing' plan.  I'm officially dedicating this post to Christy's daughter, Megan, who excitedly named this one "Homemade Hamburger Helper!"  :)  This was a great recipe for busy families for several reasons: it's inexpensive, it's all made in one skillet-- so much less to clean up, and it comes together incredibly quickly!  I will note that if you are making it for kids, you might want to consider decreasing the amount of green chiles you use.  I left mine out completely and it still had a nice kick as a result of the chili powder.  Thanks, Donna, for another great one!

Skillet Chili Mac with Corn and Green Chiles
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
½ teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
16 oz. can tomato sauce
2 cups water
8 ounces (2 cups) elbow macaroni
1 cup frozen corn
1 4.5-oz can chopped green chiles
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a mexican cheese blend)

Heat the oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef, onion, chili powder, cumin and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook the ground beef until it is no longer pink, draining off any grease. Stir in garlic and brown sugar and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce, water, and macaroni. Cover and cook, stirring often and keeping the heat at a steady simmer, until the macaroni is tender, about 12–15 minutes.  Stir in 1 cup of the cheese, frozen corn, green chiles and cilantro and sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheese over the top. Cover and let sit off the heat until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes.

Source: Donna at My Tasty Treasures

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sour Cream Pork Chops

This is another meal that worked well for our new 'meal sharing' plan!  It was actually the main course that I prepared to go with the rice casserole that I recently posted.  I was able to brown these chops the night before and get everything ready to go so that I could pop them in the slow cooker before leaving for work and could come home to a hot, home-cooked dinner.  They cook all day on low, but like any other meat in a slow cooker, they can easily dry out... so make sure that you don't skimp on the liquid.  This is definitely a dish I will make again.  They were tender and had a nice, rich flavor.  Best of all, they passed the 'kid test'!

Sour Cream Pork Chops
6 pork chops
salt and pepper, to taste
garlic powder, to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 large onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 cubes chicken bouillon
2 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream  

Season pork chops with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and then dredge in 1/2 cup flour. In a skillet over medium heat, lightly brown chops in a small amount of oil.  Place chops in slow cooker, and top with onion slices. Dissolve bouillon cubes in boiling water and pour over chops. Cover, and cook on low 7 to 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  After the chops have cooked, transfer chops to the oven to keep warm. Be careful, the chops are so tender they will fall apart. In a small bowl, blend 2 tablespoons flour with the sour cream; mix into meat juices. Turn slow cooker to high for 15 to 30 minutes, or until sauce is slightly thickened. Serve sauce over pork chops.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Rice Casserole and a New Idea!

My mother has raved about this recipe for years, but I didn't actually get a chance to try it until my sister made it for me last year.  Shortly after my daughter was born, my sister made us a wonderful meal of lemon chicken and served it with this rice casserole.  The flavors in this casserole define comfort food.  The best thing about it is that it reheats beautifully-- so you can definitely make a big batch of it and then you'll have plenty to enjoy through the week. 

Recently, my friend Christy and I started a 'meal sharing' plan.  We found that we were both rushing each evening to attempt to prepare a meal for our families, and decided that it made much more sense to share the work-- and the rewards! :)  We each prepare a dinner to share two nights a week-- picking the nights that fit best into our families schedule.  She takes Mondays and Wednesdays and I take Tuesdays and Thursdays, then we each do our own weekend meals.  By creating meals to share in this way, we are saving money and are able to enjoy the precious evening time with our kiddos before they fall asleep.  It's also a great way to try some favorites from each of our recipe collections.  This rice was a perfect side dish for my 'share meal' last night.   I was able to prep and cook it the night before and all Christy had to do was reheat it for her family.  Watch our blogs for other great meal share ideas coming up!  We highly recommend trying a meal swap of your own!  Partner up and enjoy your newly found time!      

Rice Casserole
1 1/2 sticks margarine or butter
1/2 pound very thin egg noodles
2 cans condensed onion soup
2 cans condensed chicken broth
1 cup water
2 cups minute rice
1 can water chestnuts, sliced and drained

In a large skillet, brown the raw noodles in butter.  Stir frequently.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Bake in a covered 3 quart casserole for 1 1/4 hours at 350 degrees.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hasselback Potatoes

Without knowing it, my sister and I both picked this recipe off of Pam's blog and made it on the exact same night!  Scary, isn't it?  When I saw that she posted hers this morning, I figured I had better post mine as well to keep on the same track! :)  I'm sure this isn't the first, or the last time, that this has happened.  These potatoes had such a wonderful flavor and were really fun to eat.  I find that I am always making potatoes in the same way, and this gave me a great new option to throw in the mix.  A couple of notes for making this one: 1.) Like my sister, I found that these took quite a bit longer than I had planned to get tender.  Make sure you keep an eye on them, but do not remove them from the oven until the slices are tender enough for your taste.  A few of my larger potatoes ended up a bit crunchy.  2.) A lot of times I will use minced garlic as a time saver.  I had just purchased the new Pampered Chef garlic slicer so I decided to use that instead.  I'm so glad I did!  I don't think this is a recipe you can use the minced garlic shortcut with... it's well worth the added time to place fresh garlic in between the slices.  If you are making the recipe for little ones, I would suggest just placing a few pieces of garlic in random slices instead of in between each as the recipe calls for.  I LOVED it with the full amount of garlic, but I'm not sure my son would have eaten it with so much.  3.) Pam suggests placing a large serving spoon under your potato to keep from accidentally slicing all the way through the potato.  This worked really well and saved quite a few potatoes for me!

Hasselback Potatoes

3 Russet potatoes
Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Dried basil, to taste
Fresh garlic, sliced very thin

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Wash all potatoes thoroughly.  Place each potato on a large serving spoon before slicing.  You don't want your cuts to go all the way through the bottom of the potato and the spoon catches your knife from doing so.  Season each potato with the basil, salt and pepper.  Place a thin slice of garlic in between each of your slices.  Place your potatoes in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake for 1 hour or until the potatoes are  tender.  (I found that mine needed closer to 1.5 hours.)  As Pam suggested, I served mine with butter and sour cream. 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall Cookie Winner

I apologize for the delay in getting this posted.  I am so grateful to everyone who entered the Fall Cookie Giveaway on my SITS day.  I've had so much fun reading all of the wonderful comments and look forward to visiting all of your blogs in the coming weeks!  It has been a rough week for our family, so no new recipes today... but I did want to post the cookie winner as promised!  I will be back very soon with some really great recipes to share!

So-- without further delay... the cookie winner is...
Brandi, at "From My Kitchen to Yours"

Brandi-- Congratulations!  Please email me your mailing address at  so we can get your cookies to you!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pumpkin Bread

First and foremost, a sincere thank you to everyone who stopped by yesterday to make my SITS day so special!  It might take me a little while, but I plan to be by to explore each of your blogs!  The ones I have been to so far have been so much fun!  I'll give everyone another day or so to get entered in our Fall Cookie Giveaway... and will announce the winner at some point over the weekend.

The fall season brings so many great 'comfort food' recipes to mind, and this one certainly falls into that category.  When a good family friend forwarded this copy to me, she explained that it was coming to me in its original format, "complete with splatters".    I *LOVE* the charm of this recipe image that floated its way into my inbox.  Before I got married, my family threw me a bridal shower and asked for all of our friends and family to write down their favorite recipes on index cards to present to me at the shower.  One of my very wise friends (who was also fully aware of my OCD) wrote me a note and encouraged me to resist the urge to re-type all of these recipes into a standard format.  I laughed about it then. Now, as I flip through the cards and recognize the handwriting and care that went into each one, I cannot help but reminisce about many different experiences, situations, stories, and people.  To me, this is what baking and cooking is all about.  I look forward to one day passing along my box of recipe-filled index cards to my children, but not until I fill it with many of my own as well.  I want my children to look back at my handwriting and remember the many memories that we are currently in the process of creating.  Thanks, Eileen, for reminding me of that with your email! :)       

Pumpkin Bread
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin
1 2/3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup water

Mix all of the ingredients in order.  Prepare a loaf pan and pour batter in evenly.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1.5 hours (check your bread for doneness at 1 hour, 15 minutes.

Source: Eileen Patterson

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's SITS Day!

I couldn't be more excited about being the Featured Blogger for SITS today! For those of you visiting for the first time, welcome to Delectable Dining! I have been blogging for about a year, but have been cooking and baking for as far back as I can remember. I'm thrilled to have this outlet to share my passion with others!My primary role in life is to take care of my family. I have been happily married to my best friend for the last four years, but just celebrated our tenth year together. I am the proud mother of a three-year-old boy and a nine-month-old girl. Being their mommy has been one of the most rewarding elements of my life and I look forward to every moment that I spend with them, watching them grow. I also work as a first grade teacher and keep myself very busy in this position. It is such a rewarding career and I love to watch the excitement on my students' faces as they gain confidence in their abilities! Life is good!

To introduce you to some of my favorites, I have chosen the following blog posts to share some of my favorite creations! If you check out my index on the right side of the page, you can find different categories of foods and desserts to try for yourself. Now that I am back at work full time, I find the "Weeknight Cooking" recipes to be especially helpful!

The BEST chocolate chip cookies!

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day Cookbook Review

Special Occasion Breakfasts: Chocolate Glazed Cherry Turnovers

And now... in honor of SITS Day... a GIVEAWAY! :)

While I was home on a maternity leave last year, my good friend, Christy, and I started an in-home bakery specializing in customized, hand-painted sugar cookies and other unique treats. We have had so much fun within this creative outlet and enjoy sharing our love for baking with each other! As a special thank you for visiting today, we're having a cookie giveaway to celebrate! We're offering a 7 cookie assortment of fall cookies and we'll ship anywhere in the continental U.S.! You can earn one entry by leaving a comment to this post and can receive another entry if you sign up to follow my blog. (Current followers, you definitely qualify for the second entry as well!) If you have any questions about ordering cookies, please feel free to contact us at:

Thanks for visiting today! :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cranberry Chicken

Contrary to popular belief, I am still among the living! :) I so miss my blogging friends, but haven't been able to find the time to update this site as much as I'd like. I've still been cooking and baking a ton and hope to be able to get more of the recipes posted! In the meantime, I've been keeping an eye on all of your blogs and have been keeping quite a list of recipes I'd love to try.

Fall is one of my favorite seasons, and I especially love some of the traditional foods associated with the season. To me, fall is all about comfort foods-- and this is one of them! My grandmother used to make this chicken dish and just the smell of it baking brought back so many memories. It's a great classic dish that people of all ages love. Best of all, it is one that you can easily keep ingredients on hand for. I've eaten it many times, but this is the first time that I have actually made it myself. It was so easy that I can definitely see it worked into our normal rotation.

Again, I apologize for my absence and promise to share many great recipes in the months to come!

Cranberry Chicken
Assorted chicken pieces
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1 bottle french salad dressing
1 can whole cranberries
salt and pepper to taste

Wash chicken pieces and place in a 9 x 13 glass dish. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle one envelope of dry onion soup mix evenly over the chicken. Carefully, spread the salad dressing evenly over the chicken. Follow with the cranberries, spooned over the dressing. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour, 15 minutes. Uncover and brown for another 15 minutes.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Birthday!

I've been a bad blogger, but I have a good excuse! My little boy celebrated his third birthday last weekend. I can't even believe that he is already that old!! He's been a bit of a "Mickey Mouse" addict lately, so we had our very own clubhouse party. I had to post a picture of the cake that Christy and I made... but I promise to have a new recipe up soon! Hope everyone is doing well!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blueberry Pancakes

The kids are in bed, my lesson plans are done, papers are half-way graded, and I needed a blogging break! I missed my blogging buddies! :)

One of the hardest things about going back to work full time is that I now miss out on morning cuddle time. Luckily, both of my little ones are big cuddlers and we would start every morning cuddling up, having a nice breakfast together, and starting our day. In my effort to be an optimist, I've decided that we will just have to make the most of our lazy weekend mornings. I saw this recipe on and decided that it would be a great variation on our normal pancakes. It didn't hurt that blueberries were on sale and I had a pint ready to go in the fridge. I will warn that it does take a little bit of planning ahead as the batter needs to sit for about an hour before the pancakes are made. The final product was light and fluffy, and well worth the wait!

Blueberry Pancakes
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons white sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/2 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 cup fresh blueberries, plus more for serving

In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. In a small bowl, beat together egg and milk. Stir milk and egg into flour mixture. Mix in the butter and fold in the blueberries. Set aside for 1 hour. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sugar Snap and Beef Stir Fry

This is another great "Chinese Food at Home" recipe! Pam, over at For the Love of Cooking, has not disappointed me yet. I always know I'm going to love her recipes. This dish had an incredible flavor and was really easy to make. My one suggestion wold be to let your meat sit in the marinade for as long as possible. A very busy day (and a scattered mind) resulted in mine marinating for only about an hour and a half. It was wonderful, but would be so much better if allowed to sit longer, as Pam suggests.

Hope everyone is doing well! I haven't had as much time to post comments as I would like, but I am still checking out your blogs to get wonderful dinner ideas for my family! I promise to be better about checking in on your sites once I grow more accustomed to the new schedule!

Sugar Snap and Beef Stir Fry
For the beef marinade:
1 lb flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili sauce
1/4 teaspoon white sugar
1 clove of garlic, minced

(Combine all ingredients in a large zip lock bag and place in refrigerator for 1-6 hours.)

For the stir fry veggies:
Sugar snap peas, trimmed
Broccoli florets, steamed until tender
1/4 cup of shredded carrots
2-3 baby bell peppers, sliced
1/4 red onion, sliced
2-3 green onions, sliced (divided)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1-2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated

(Steam broccoli florets. Clean and chop all vegetables then set aside until ready to cook.)

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons white sugar
2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon chili sauce

(Combine all ingredients and whisk until mixed thoroughly. Set aside.)

Remaining ingredients:
Sesame oil (to cook meat and vegetables)
Sesame seeds (garnish)
Brown rice, prepare according to the directions (I used white rice to keep my husband happy!)

Heat 1 teaspoon of sesame oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add beef to the pan; stir fry for 2 minutes or until done. Place beef in a bowl and set aside. Add the last remaining teaspoon of sesame oil to the pan. Add onion and sauté 1 minute. Add the remaining vegetables along with half of the green onions, and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add minced garlic and freshly grated ginger, cook stirring continuously for 45 seconds. Add beef and stir fry sauce then cook for an additional minute or until thoroughly heated. Serve over brown rice and garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.

Source: For the Love of Cooking

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Porky Top

This is one of those recipes that you can try to shoot from every angle and still won't get a decent picture of. In retrospect, I really should have taken the sausage off the top because it really doesn't look appropriate! :) I'm hoping you'll be able to look past this to try the dish! This casserole is my husband's ultimate comfort food. It's a meal that his grandmother used to make, and his parents after that. If I remember correctly, it's also the first meal he ever made me. The dish uses ingredients that are fairly easy to keep on hand, and it does get put together pretty quickly.

On a sad note, my blogging is about to get a little more limited. My maternity leave is ending and I am about to head back to teaching full time. The idea of leaving my little ones during the day is really difficult for me to even think about. If I didn't have the BEST babysitter in the world, I wouldn't even be able to imagine it. Needless to say, my evening time will be more limited and as much as I love blogging about recipes, I want every spare second to spend with my family. (Once they go to bed-- the grading pen and lesson planning comes out! :) ) I am still hoping to update my blog on the weekends, and check in with my favorite bloggers whenever I have spare time. I hope you guys will be patient with me... I've developed so many incredible foodie friendships and look forward to continuing to share and discover recipes and ideas with all of you.

Porky Top
2 cans tomato soup
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup green pepper, finely diced
Velveeta cheese
Brown and Serve Sausage (I prefer the 'beef' variety-- but you can use any)
2 cups uncooked macaroni

In a saucepan, mix the tomato soup and water over low heat. Mix in the green peppers. Cook the macaroni noodles according to the directions on the box. In an oven-safe bowl, mix the noodles and the tomato soup mixture together. Cut up 1/2 of the box of sausage (into thin slices) and mix in with the noodles and soup. Cut chunks of the velveeta and also mix in with the noodles. The amount of cheese you choose to add varies, depending on taste. We prefer things pretty cheesy here, so we add quite a bit!

Smooth the top of the casserole mixture. Place the other half of the sausages on top in a pinwheel design. Place small slices of cheese in-between each sausage. Bake in a oven preheated to 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Source: Grandma Ellis

Friday, July 24, 2009

Raspberry Smoothie

My son recently discovered milkshakes. The kid wants them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. . . with just a few in-between! I can't say I blame him. If it weren't for the fact that you would be rolling me out of my house, I'd probably join him in his quest! Knowing this isn't exactly the healthiest option, I wanted to come up with a way to still satisfy his sweet tooth while giving him a bit more nutritional of a choice. If seeds bother you, you will want to either puree your berries and strain them first, or come up with a different fruit option for your smoothie. I am anxious to make a strawberry-banana smoothie next. I think that would be a hit as well! It couldn't be any easier to throw this together and would be a great "on the go" option for early morning work or school days.

Raspberry Smoothie
1 cup frozen red raspberries (or alternate fruit)
1 cup apple juice
8 ounces vanilla yogurt
1/2 tablespoon honey

Pour ingredients into a blender. Cover and blend until smooth.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Marinated Cucumber Salad

Last month, my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary. Even though we celebrated at that point, I couldn't let yesterday go by without acknowledging its importance. Yesterday marked 10 years that my husband and I have been together. I wanted to make a special dinner for him. He's a big seafood fan, so I decided to make the tilapia that my sister posted some time ago. You can find that recipe here-- it is really a good one! One thing that Rachel did say was that there was a bit of heat with this crust due to the red pepper flakes. I knew my husband would love that aspect of it, but I don't do real well with a lot of extra heat. Rather than adjust the seasoning, I made it as she recommended and chose this cucumber salad to be a 'cool' balance to the heat. This salad was incredibly easy to make and came together very quickly. The only thing to note is that it tastes much better served very cold, so make sure that you allow plenty of time to leave it in the fridge before serving. Now that everyone's cucumbers are coming out of their gardens, it is a great, economical choice for a side dish!

Marinated Cucumber Salad
4 cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon dried dill, more or less to taste

Toss together the cucumbers and onion in a large bowl. Combine the vinegar, water and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, and pour over the cucumber and onions. Stir in dill, cover, and refrigerate until cold. This can also be eaten at room temperature, but be sure to allow the cucumbers to marinate for at least 1 hour.

***Important note: Don't make the vinegar solution before chopping the cucumber because it's important that the vinegar solution be hot when poured over the vegetables to ensure proper flavoring.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Top Sirloin with Onions and Carrots

This is another meal from my new Sam's Club cookbook that I wrote about earlier this month. This was the third thing I have tried from it, and I liked it just as much as the others! My only regret with this one was that it really is a meal that is better for fall or winter weather. The picture in the cookbook looked so good that I just couldn't hold off on at least trying it, though! It has all the makings of comfort food and the flavors really blended together nicely. There was a nice sweetness to the vegetables that complemented the beef perfectly. I'll definitely be making it again, but will hold off until cooler temperatures. I say that now but just looking at the picture, I'm craving it again! :)

Top Sirloin with Onions and Carrots
4 slices bacon
4 small onions, peeled and cut into 1-inch slices
8 small carrots, halved lengthwise
4 small red potatoes, cut up (about 1 pound total)
1/2 cup beef broth
1/4 cup beer
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1 1/4 pounds boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 1.5-2 inches thick
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Fresh thyme (optional)

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove it from the skillet and drain it on paper towels. Drain the skillet, reserving about 1 tablespoon of the drippings. In the same skillet, cook the onions over medium heat for about 3 minutes per side or until browned. Remove the onions and set aside. Add the carrots, cooking for about 5 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove the skillet from the heat. Carefully add the potatoes, broth, beer, brown sugar, and half of the dried thyme. Return the onions to the skillet. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Simmer, covered, for 30-35 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, season the beef wtih remaining dried thyme, salt, and pepper. Place on the unheated rack of a broiler pan. Broil 4-5 inches from the heat for 16-22 minutes for medium-rare or 22-28 minutes for medium, turning once halfway through broiling. Cut into 4 pieces.

Remove the vegetables from the pan with a slotted spoon. Gently boil the juices, uncovered, for 1-2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Divide the steak, vegetables, and bacon among 4 plates. Spoon juices over and sprinkle with fresh thyme, if desired. Serves 4.

Source: Favorite Family Dinners

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Zucchini

Not exactly the healthiest option for using my zucchini, but when my mother told me she used to wrap her stuffed zucchini with bacon, I knew I couldn't make it any other way! The flavors melded so well together and all plates were clean at the end of this meal. I served the zucchini next to a bed of white rice along with some fresh breadsticks. Thanks again to Christy for sharing her crop of zucchini with us. I'm hoping my garden catches up sometime in the near future so that we can make this one again soon!

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Zucchini
2 large zucchini
1 - 1.5 pounds ground round
1 onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jar tomato sauce
garlic salt, to taste
oregano, to taste
bread crumbs
1 package bacon (center cut if available)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Trim a small amount of the bottom of each half so that the zucchini will lay flat in the baking dish. Scoop out the inside part of the zucchini, creating a boat for the filling. In a large saute pan, brown the ground round with the onion and garlic. Drain off grease and mix with spaghetti sauce, garlic salt, and oregano. Fill the zucchini boats with the meat mixture, mounding slightly. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the top of the meat and then wrap with the uncooked bacon. Place the zucchini in the prepared baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 45 minutes, uncover and bake for another 15 minutes or until the bacon is browned and crispy. Serve with white rice.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Strawberry and Cream Cupcakes

I fell in love with these cupcakes the moment I saw them on The Ungourmet. Part of the attraction was likely that they are made using strawberry soda. I haven't had strawberry soda since I was a kid (there's a story there, but I won't go there!) I was anxious to have a positive association with the stuff! :)

These cupcakes were incredibly easy to put together-- I am not ashamed to admit that it's a box cake mix! If you aren't planning on eating all of them the day they're made, the box mix product always lasts so much longer, while tasting just as fresh as the first day! No surprise either... the star of the show was the cream cheese frosting. Can anything else really compete?

Strawberry and Cream Cupcakes
1 package white cake mix
3 egg whites
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups strawberry soda
Cream cheese frosting, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. Prepare cake mix as directed, with the egg whites, the oil, and substituting the soda for the water. Fill the muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake as directed on the box and cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1- 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
2 drops of red food coloring

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, milk, vanilla, and food coloring with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time until smooth and spreadable.

Source: The Ungourmet

Friday, July 17, 2009

Penne with Spicy Italian Sausage, Cream, Tomatoes & Peas

My mother bought my sisters and I a cookbook from Sam's Club called Favorite Family Dinners. If you have a membership, I'd highly recommend picking up a copy. For under $6.00, this book includes over 200 recipes for everyday meals. It's one of those books where you turn page after page realizing that you would make just about everything in it! I especially like that the first chapter is called the "Chef's Specials" chapter. It has recipes exerpted from many famous chefs' cookbooks, including this one from Tyler Florence's cookbook- Dinner at my Place. (The recipe I posted earlier this month for Guiltless Oven Fried Chicken also comes from this book.)

This particular recipe was definitely one I'd make again. It was a little time consuming, but really easy to put together. Since I was lucky enough to be given some fresh zucchini from a friend, I decided that it would be a perfect addition to the dish. I also added a bit more onion than the recipe called for and these few changes are reflected in the recipe below.

Penne with Spicy Italian Sausage, Cream, Tomatoes, & Peas
4 links spicy Italian Sausage (I used one whole package with 5 links, you can also use mild sausage if you prefer)
1 pound dried penne
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 small or 1 large zucchini, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 - 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups peas, blanched
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the sausages in a roasting pan and roast in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and just cooked through. Cut the sausage at an angle into bite-sized pieces.

Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until tender yet firm.

Set a large dutch oven (or heavy based pot) over medium heat and add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and saute until translucent and fragrant. Add the tomatoes, zucchini, and basil, seasoning with salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes, then add in cream and continue to simmer until rich and creamy. Add the sausage, blanched peas, and cheese. Fold together and cook for 2-3 minutes to allow the flavors to come together. Toss with the cooked pasta and serve topped with additional cheese and fresh basil.

Source: Adapted from the exerpted recipe by Tyler Florence, from Dinner at my Place

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Bubble" Pizza Casserole

Once I saw this post on Three on Food, I knew it would be a sure hit in my house! If you ask my son what he wants for dinner, his answer is always the same-- PIZZA! Don't get me wrong, I love pizza as much as the next guy, but a girl has to have a little variety! I'm always looking for ways to mix some protein into the little guy's diet, and this ended up being a perfect way to do it! It was incredibly easy to throw together and tasted wonderful! My husband even heated some up for leftovers, which was the ultimate compliment. My only change would be to add the extra vegetables as Kathy recommended. I knew my son wouldn't like it as much that way, but if I chop them into small pieces, I think I can get away with it! I'd love to try it with some green pepper, mushroom, and onion-- YUM!
**Make sure to stop by my sister's blog, Rachel vs. The Kitchen to enter her 100th Post Giveaway!
"Bubble" Pizza Casserole
2 cups pizza cheese
16 oz. browned sausage (or pepperoni, hamburger, or bacon)
1 jar of pizza sauce
2 tubes buttermilk biscuits
Assorted vegetables, chopped (depending on your preferences)
Brown and drain the meat. Cut the 2 tubes of biscuits into quarters. Put the biscuits into a bowl along with the jar of pizza sauce. Add the meat and any other toppings you may have. Mix it all together. Pour into a baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. After baking for 20 minutes, take it out and add your cheese. Bake for 10 more minutes, or until cheese is bubbly. (Make sure you bake your casserole enough-- you don't want doughy bread balls in the center!)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gazpacho with Grilled Shrimp

This is one of those meals categorized, by my husband, as 'girl food.' His reply when I told him that I had a batch of gazpacho in the fridge was that he might as well just eat a jar of salsa. I didn't bother to correct him because in all honesty, I'm happy to have a whole batch of this to myself! I was not at all surprised that I loved this recipe. . . it's another Pioneer Woman recipe and she has yet to let me down. I did make a few minor changes simply based upon the fresh produce that I had in my fridge at the time. Also, I tend to be a bit of a weak one when it comes to spice. Instead of using the tabasco sauce that Pioneer Woman calls for, I used some of the Garlic Chili sauce that I had purchcased to make this fried chicken a while back. It had such great flavor and I would definitely make it this way again. If you are planning on making both dishes, this is a great way to share ingredients! (If my husband ever does decide to try this, he can always add extra tabasco just to his bowl. This is an easy meal to adjust for different people's taste in terms of heat.)

Gazpacho with Grilled Shrimp
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large red onion, diced
1 large cucumber, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
5-6 ripe tomatoes, diced
2 zucchini, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
4 cups tomato juice (I took PW's advice and went with the store brand-- it was much less acidic.)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup (more to taste) red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons (less to taste) sugar
tabasco to taste (I replaced with the Garlic Chili Sauce)
salt and pepper to taste
grilled shrimp

(Optional garnish: finely minced jalepeno, sliced avocado, cilantro, sour cream, extra vegetables- finely diced)

In the bowl of a food processor or in a blender, combine the minced garlic with half of the red onion, half of the cucumber, half of the tomato, half of the green pepper, half of the zucchini, half of the celery, half of the tomato juice, all of the olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, tabasco or garlic chili sauce, and a dash of salt. Pulse until all ingredients are blended well. The mixture will have a nice speckled, colorful texture. Pour into a large bowl and add the rest of the tomato juice, and half of the remaining vegetables to the food processor, pulsing again. Reserve the rest of the diced vegetables for garnish, if you desire. Stir the mixture togeter and check seasonings, adding salt as necessary. Chill the soup for at least a couple of hours. The soup needs to be served very cold.

Remove the soup from the fridge and stir. Check the seasonings one last time. Ladle into a bowl and garnish with any of the above listed items and the grilled shrimp.

Source: adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Monday, July 13, 2009

Guiltless Oven Baked Fried Chicken

Not the prettiest meal to look at, but the flavor in this chicken certainly makes up for that! I LOVE fried chicken but normally end up peeling most of the skin off to stay a bit healthier. This particular recipe has you remove all of the skin before baking, which I loved since I still got to enjoy the crispy breading! Using the panko bread crumbs was perfect for an oven baked fried chicken because it stayed crispier despite the cooking format. This meal was a hit and there were NO leftovers. Always a good sign!

Guiltless Oven Baked Fried Chicken
1 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 tablespoons water
kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
4 chicken thighs, skin removed
non-stick cooking spray
2 cups panko

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, garlic powder, paprika, and chili powder. Mix with water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to make the consistency of whipping cream. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken pieces; coat well with the mayonnaise mixture.

Lightly coat a nonstick baking sheet with cooking spray. Pour the panko onto a plate. Toss the chicken thighs, one at a time, in the crumbs to completely coat. Place the chicken on te baking sheet, coat with cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes or until the chicken is browned and cooked through, turning once.

Source: George Duncan "Take This Dish and Twist It"

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mom's Potato Salad

This potato salad is the one that my mom has been making for as far back as I can remember. Notice a theme to my sister's and my posts lately? I guess that tends to be the case after any holiday... we all gravitate towards those traditional family meals that we grew up loving. This potato salad is, by far, one of my favorite things that she makes. . . though I don't believe it's one of her favorites to make. I guess I owe her extra big for when she does it! ;) One thing I will warn about is that I have inherited my mother's "make too much for every meal" trait and I really don't measure when making this side dish. I've done my best to estimate. I'm really not exhaggerating when I say that I typically use almost a 10 pound bag of potatoes to make it. Like I said, it's a sickness.

Mom's Potato Salad
5 pounds Russett potatoes
1 bunch green onions (or 1 medium leek)
6-8 hard boiled eggs
1 jar mayonnaise
White pepper to taste
Garlic salt to taste

Thoroughly wash the potatoes and place in a large pot with the skins still on. Cover with water and boil until just fork tender. DO NOT overboil as your potatoes will fall apart when cut. Remove from the water and peel the skin off. Dice the cooked potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Chop the hard boiled eggs and the green onions (white and green parts). Combine with the jar of mayonnaise and season to taste.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Stained Glass Jello and Independence Day!

It's a little late, but I hope that everyone had a wonderful 4th of July! We had our family over to celebrate the holiday and were able to celebrate my birthday as well-- bonus! :) We also were able to have a cousin over who we, unfortunately, don't get a chance to see often. All in all, it was a nice, family-centered day! Since all the kids were in town, I wanted to make a few items that I thought they would enjoy. I made the cookies above to serve alongside the wonderful cheesecake my sister made for dessert. If you haven't seen it yet, check out her blog here.
When I saw this jello on the Brown Eyed Baker, I knew I had to make it. I am a big jello fan myself and I knew it was the one thing I could put out that all the kids would eat. The colors were great and it was really easy to make. My only warning is that it is done in stages and each stage does have to sit in the fridge for a while, so make sure you allow yourself enough time.
Stained Glass Jello
4 (3 ounce) boxes Jello in different colors (I used blue raspberry and strawberry)
14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin (I used Knox as recommended)

For each flavor, dissolve one box of Jello in 1 cup of boiling water. Since I used 2 boxes of each flavor, I just doubled the water and poured both into an 8 inch square container. Chill at least 3 hours, or overnight. After chilling the flavors, cut them into small blocks. Carefully mix the blocks in a 9×13-inch pan. In a separate bowl, sprinkle 2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin into ½ cup cold water. After the gelatin blooms, add 1½ cups boiling water and dissolve. Add the can of condensed milk. Stir and let cool. Pour cooled milk mixture over Jello blocks in 9×13 pan. Skim off any small bubbles that are created when you pour the condensed milk on the Jello pieces. Chill overnight or at least 3 hours until firm. Cut into blocks or shapes and serve.
**Stay tuned... the BEST potato salad is coming soon!**

Monday, July 6, 2009

Crab Cakes with Lemon Garlic Aioli Sauce

I have a couple of good "Fourth of July" recipes waiting to be shared, but while I wait for my photos to upload, I wanted to go ahead and share this one. I have been slacking from the blogging world all weekend and I do apologize! :) My husband and I both are huge crab cake fans and it tends to be our appetizer of choice when we do go out. I'm always tinkering with them at home, trying to perfect my own recipe. These were good, and definitely worth making, but they were no where near restaurant quality. I'm on the lookout, so if you have a crab cake recipe that you love, please send it my way!

Crab Cakes
1 small/medium red onion, chopped
1 (6 ounce) can lump crabmeat, drained
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 cup dry bread crumbs

In a small saucepan, saute red onions until tender and lightly carmelized. Mix all ingredients together until well combined. In a medium saute pan, heat oil. Form the crab cake mixture into 4 patties, flattening slightly before placing in the hot oil. Cook each side until lightly browned. Serve with aioli sauce (recipe below).

Lemon Garlic Aioli Sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped chives
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Source: Aioli sauce from

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Garlic Roasted Chicken

I saw this chicken on my sister's blog and it looked like the perfect comfort food. I took advantage of a cooler day lately and decided to make this chicken with the garlic bubble loaf that I posted earlier. I love the simple flavors used within this recipe and it smelled incredible as it roasted. In her post, my sister explains that you should check the chicken frequently and should baste it throughout the roasting process. If the liquid evaporates, she suggests adding more broth to the bottom of the roaster. I am not quite sure what the problem was with mine, but I ended up having to add broth every time I checked it. It all evaporated very quickly! I probably ended up adding another 32 ounces of broth throughout the cooking process. I thought it was worth it, though, as the final product was incredibly moist and tender.

Garlic Roasted Chicken
3 pound broiler/fryer chicken
1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth, divided
1 lime wedge
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 bay leaf
Fresh thyme sprigs (optional)
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
2 tablespoons sherry or apple juice

Place chicken breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan. In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup wine or broth, lime wedges, garlic, bay leaf and thyme. Pour into cavity of chicken. Pour remaining wine or broth in roasting pan. Sprinkle chicken with paprika. Loosely tent with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, basting occasionally. Remove foil; bake 40-45 minutes longer or until juices run clear and a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees, basting occasionally. Add additional wine or broth to pan of liquid evaporates. Discard bay leaf and lime wedges. Remove chicken to a serving platter and let stand for 10 minutes before carving. Pour drippings and loosened brown bits into a measuring cup. Skim fat. In a saucepan, combine the cornstarch, bouillon and sherry or juice until smooth. Gradually stir in drippings. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve gravy with chicken.

Source: Rachel vs. The Kitchen

Monday, June 29, 2009

Garlic Bubble Loaves

I've been on a bit of a bread baking kick lately. For so many years, I was too intimidated to really play with any recipes for homemade breads-- the closest I got to homemade was to use my bread machine. I think this is the third bread recipe I have tried from Amber's Delectable Delights in the last month, and each one has been better than the last. This is a fun twist on a traditional garlic bread. My son had so much fun breaking off the pieces and before I knew it I had a bowl full of 'rolls' instead of a loaf. I didn't have the heart to stop him! :) The best part of this bread is that the edges where the butter pooled during baking turned into the best crust you can imagine... I would highly recommend grabbing one of the edge pieces before they are gone! The recipe does yield two loaves, but the leftovers are really very good with just a little time in the oven to reheat.

Garlic Bubble Loaves
2 packages of active dry yeast
1/4 warm water (heated to 110-115 degrees)
2 cups warm milk (heated to 110-115 degrees)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon shortening
2 teaspoons salt
6 1/4-6 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons garlic powder

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the warm milk, sugar, shortening, salt and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. (I did this part in my mixer using a dough hook.) Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and divide into fourths. Divide each portion into 12 pieces. In a shallow bowl, combine the butter (melted), parsley and garlic powder. Shape each piece of dough into a ball; dip into butter mixture. Place in two greased 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pans. Pour any remaining butter mixture over dough. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. (Don't crowd them into the pan. put about 12 (24 total) spaced out in two irregular layers per pan.) Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 min or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes. remove from pans to wire racks.

Source: Amber's Delectable Delights

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Chicken Bruschetta

My mom was just telling me about a really good bruschetta chicken dish that she and my sister had shared while out to dinner recently. Within that same week, I found this recipe on the Pillsbury Bake Off site and I knew I'd have to try it! I'm anxious for them to make it to see how it compares, but I was really happy with it! The method of broiling the chicken kept it very moist and the topping was the perfect accompaniment. The original recipe does call for canned mushrooms, but I did leave them out to stick with more of an 'authentic' bruschetta recipe. The only other tip is that the recipe calls for either fresh or dried basil. As basil has been fairly expensive lately, and my garden basil isn't quite ready yet, I went ahead and used the dried. It still tasted great, but I do think that this is one dish that does need the fresh. I think it would make a big difference and would make a good dish great!

Chicken Bruschetta
To make the chicken:
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

To make the topping:
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup loosely packed chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
3 medium Italian plum tomatoes, seeded, chopped
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil sprigs, if desired

Spray broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken with garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; place on sprayed broiler pan. Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat for 6 to 8 minutes on each side or until fork-tender and juices run clear. Meanwhile, heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until garlic is tender, stirring occasionally. Add onion, chopped basil, tomatoes, vinegar and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cook about a minute or until thoroughly heated.
To serve, arrange chicken on individual plates. Sprinkle with half of cheese. Top each serving with bruschetta mixture; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Garnish with basil sprigs.

Source: Adapted from Pillsbury Bake-Off

Friday, June 26, 2009

Italian Antipasto Squares

I was led to the Pillbsubry Bake-Off site through The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch and it has since become one of my favorite resources. The recipe states that it can be used as either an appetizer or a main course, and I can truly see it in either format. I made mine as a main course, cut it into larger squares, and served it with a salad. My only recommendation would be to make sure you allow a full 20 minutes after removing it from the oven before cutting and serving it. Like a lasagna, it needs to set up fully in order to keep its form. Otherwise, the recipe was perfect and I wouldn't change a thing about it. Even my 2 year old loved it-- telling me he wanted more 'pizza'!

Italian Antipasto Squares
2 cans refrigerated crescent dinner rolls or 2 cans refrigerated flaky dough sheet
4 ounces thinly sliced salami
4 ounces thinly sliced Swiss cheese
4 ounces thinly sliced pepperoni
4 ounces thinly sliced American cheese
4 ounces thinly sliced capocollo (cured Italian ham) or cooked ham
4 ounces thinly sliced provolone cheese
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 jar (12 ounces) sliced roasted red bell peppers, drained
1 can (2 1/4 ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained
1 egg yolk, beaten

Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter 13x9-inch pan or spray with cooking spray. Unroll 1 can of dough into 1 large rectangle and place in pan. Press in bottom and 3/4 inch up sides of pan to form crust, firmly pressing perforations to seal. Layer all meats and cheeses in order listed over dough. In small bowl, beat 2 eggs, the garlic powder and pepper with wire whisk until well blended. Pour over meat and cheese layers. Layer roasted peppers and olives over top. Unroll second can of dough into 1 large rectangle; press into 13x9-inch rectangle, firmly pressing perforations to seal. Place over top of layered ingredients. Pinch edges to seal. Brush beaten egg yolk over dough and cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until deep golden brown. Cool 20 minutes before serving. Cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Serve warm.

Source: Pillsbury Bake-Off

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

My two-year-old has officially inherited his parents' love for ice cream! :) It has been so warm out the last few weeks that he has been asking for it fairly regularly. I decided that I needed to come up with something at least a little healthier as an option. I've made many different varieties of ice cream and sorbet in my ice cream maker, but this was my first experiment with frozen yogurt and I was really pleased with the results. I looked at a few different recipes that came with the Cuisinart machine, then played with the ingredients to get a flavor and texture that I liked. This was nice and creamy and was certainly refreshing on a hot afternoon.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
12 ounces fresh strawberries
1-2 teaspoons vanilla

In a medium bowl, mix together the yogurt, sugar, and milk until the sugar is fully dissolved. In the meantime, remove the stems from the strawberries and place them in a food processor. Puree depending on how you prefer your yogurt. (I like mine with some chunks of fresh berries in it. If you prefer a smooth yogurt, puree until completely broken down. You can also strain the seeds at this point if you do not want them in your yogurt.) Add the strawberry puree and vanilla to your yogurt mixture. Mix well. Pour into your ice cream maker and freeze according to directions.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Chocolate Glazed Cherry Turnovers

My little ones and I made a special Father's Day breakfast for my husband this morning, and I wanted to make some sort of pastry to go along with his meal. When we had our girls' baking day a while back, I left some of my apple turnovers at my friend Christy's house. Her husband commented on how good he thought they would be with cherry filling also. . . so I really need to say, "Thanks, Marty!" for this idea. I kept the crust as is because it had such a nice, flakey texture the first time through and I was really happy with the final product. I used a can of cherry pie filling for these and decided that instead of using the traditional sugar glaze on top, I would play with a chocolate ganache-- using some of the pie filling glaze to give it a hint of cherry flavor. My husband and I both really loved these (my son did, too, though he really only ate the chocolate off the top)!

Chocolate Glazed Cherry Turnovers
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 large can cherry pie filling
1 large egg

For chocolate glaze:
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon cherry glaze (from pie filling-- do not add the actual cherries)

Prepare pastry dough: In medium bowl, with fork, stir flour and salt. With pastry blender, cut 1/2 cup butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cold water, a tablespoon at a time, into the mixture, mixing lightly with a fork after each addition until the dough is just moist enough to hold together. With hands, shape dough into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into an 18" by 8" rectangle. Cut 4 tablespoons of butter into thin slices. Starting at one of the 8" sides, place butter slices over two-thirds of the rectangle to about 1/2 inch from the edge of the dough. Fold the unbuttered third of the dough over the middle third. Fold the opposite end of the dough over to make a 8" by 6" rectangle. Roll out the dough again into an 18" by 8" rectangle. Slice the remaining butter; place slices on dough and fold as before. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Roll out the folded dough into an 18" by 8" rectangle. Fold rectangle lengthwise then crosswise; wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut dough crosswise in half. On a lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll out half into a 12 inch square. Keep the remaining dough refrigerated. Cut the square into 6 inch squares. In cup, with fork, beat egg and 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the egg mixture over the dough squares. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of cherry pie filling in the center of each square. Fold diagonally in half and press edges to seal. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Refrigerate. Repeat with remaining dough and cherry pie filling. Brush the turnovers with the egg mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Cool on wire rack.

To prepare the chocolate, heat the semi-sweet chocolate and heavy cream in a double boiler over medium heat. Once melted, add the butter and cherry glaze, stirring until shiny and smooth. Let cool slightly before drizzling on top of the cooled turnovers.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Garlic 'Knots'

I'm really looking for some feedback here! I received these rolls as part of a dinner brought to us after my little girl was born. I took one bite of them (okay-- maybe it was one look at them) and knew that I had to make them. They were incredible! I've already talked about my love for freshly baked bread, so the addition of fresh garlic to these rolls threw them far above and beyond anything else! Here's my problem. . . they are great looking 'rolls', but they are supposed to be knots! When they went into the oven, they looked like knots, but when they came out, they had completely spread into simple rolls. I am the first to admit that I am a novice bread baker. Can anyone help me out with a theory on what went wrong here? Again, the taste was still wonderful, but I was frustrated that my cute little knots melted away. Whether you decide to make these as knots, or rolls, just definitely make them! They are a wonderful addition to any meal!

Garlic Knots
For the dough:
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 ¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup milk
1 cup + 2 tablespoons lukewarm water

For the glaze:
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons melted butter
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning

To make the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the dry ingredients. Add the olive oil, milk and water. Mix until ingredients have formed a dough. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

Divide the dough into equal pieces (Amber says on her site that she got 8-9, Annie says 10). Roll each piece into a 10 inch long rope and tie into a knot. Take the end lying underneath the knot and bring it over the top, tucking it into the center. Take the end lying over the knot and tuck it underneath and into the center. (Amber has some really good pictures of these steps on her website.) Transfer shaped rolls to a baking stone, or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 45 minutes, until puffy.

To make the glaze, finely mince the garlic. Mix with the melted butter and Italian seasoning.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Brush the glaze onto the shaped rolls. Bake until set and lightly browned, about 15-18 minutes (mine took closer to 20).

Source: Annie's Eats, originally posted on Amber's Delectable Delights

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Crab and Spinach Casserole and Awards

I've had my eye on this recipe for a while and am so glad that I finally tried it. I'm a fan of everything spinach, and the crab thrown into this casserole makes it a definite winner. The recipe calls for imitation crabmeat, but I imagine it would be superb with fresh crabmeat if you can find it on sale. I was a little worried that the imitation crab would ruin the dish, but it really had a nice flavor when mixed with the leek soup mix. I would recommend cutting it into smaller pieces before adding it to the casserole, however. As usual, I added more than the recommended amount of cheese to the top of the dish before baking. I wanted a nice thick crust on top. The only other change I would suggest would be to add some salt to the dish before baking. I did salt the water before cooking the pasta, but I felt that the sauce needed a little salt as well. I added some into the recipe listed below. Since I served mine with homemade garlic knots (recipe coming soon), I chose to use garlic salt. If you aren't a fan, regular salt would work fine.
Crab and Spinach Casserole
2 cups uncooked gemelli pasta
1 package (1.8 ounces) leek soup mix
2 cups milk
1 package (8 ounces) refrigerated imitation crabmeat chunks (cut into smaller pieces)
2 cups baby spinach leaves, stems removed
1/2 - 1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
Garlic or regular salt to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 1.5 quart baking dish with cooking spray. Cook and drain pasta as directed on the package. While pasta is cooking, mix soup mixx and milk in a 1 quart saucepan. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Mix pasta, cut crabmeat, and spinach in the casserole. Pour soup mixture evenly over the pasta mixture, stirring gently to mix. Spread evenly. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake uncovered about 20 minutes or until bubbly and light golden brown.
Source: Betty Crocker's Quick and Easy

Finally, a sincere 'Thank You' to my sister, Rachel and the girls at Three on Food for the awesome awards pictured above. It has been a rough few weeks with my grandfather being ill and my son dealing with some health issues. These awards totally made my day and I truly appreciate them! I'm going to have to brainstorm and pass these on very soon! There is such a large list of deserving bloggers who I so love visiting every day! Check back soon and I promise that I'll get these handed out! :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Homemade Amish White Bread

I'm not sure that there are many smells better than that of freshly baked bread. I'm still waiting for Yankee Candles to come out with that one! :) In a time when money is tight for everyone, I was thrilled to find this recipe for a basic white bread. All of the ingredients were things that I typically have on hand. It was fairly inexpensive to make, came together more quickly than I had ever imagined, and yielded two really nice sized loaves. The first day, we ate the bread fresh (seriously had to muster up some self control not to finish off the loaf!), the next day we made garlic grilled cheese sandwiches, and tomorrow I plan to make some french toast with it. I highly recommend this recipe, and plan to make it on a regular basis.
Homemade Amish White Bread
1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
6 cups bread flour
In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam. Stir the 1 cup of warm milk in now. Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Using the dough hook on a mixer or with a wooden spoon by hand, mix in flour, one cup at a time. Knead until smooth.
Place dough in well oiled bowl; turn to coat top. Let rise about 1 hour.
Punch dough down, knead a few times. Divide dough in half. Shape into loaves and place into 2 greased 9x5-inch loaf pans. Allow to rise 30 minutes or until dough has risen about 1" above pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from pans immediately. Brush the top of the loaves with a little melted butter right after you take them out of the pans so that the crust stays nice and soft.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cookbook Review - Paula Deen Celebrates and Teriyaki/Buffalo Chicken Wings

The most common complaint I hear about Paula Deen is the amount of butter she uses in her cooking and baking. I recently watched an episode of her show where she was even eating butter by the handful. Eww. I do find, though, that if you can get past the idea of everything being soaked in her favorite ingredient, you will find that there are a lot of dishes that aren't overly unhealthy-- at least as far as Southern Cuisine is concerned. At first glance, she does appear to use a lot of butter... but when compared to other baking cookbooks, the amount isn't that much more (sometimes it is even less) than comparable recipes. I even found some recipes with no butter at all. . . Gasp!
One of my favorite things about this cookbook is that it is divided up by holiday. Unlike most cookbooks which go through the traditional format of appetizers, soups/salads, main courses, dessert, etc., Paula Deen Celebrates starts with New Year's Eve brunch and works through Christmas dinner. There are even some non-traditional 'holidays' thrown in the mix, including: Elvis's Birthday (featuring her famous fried peanut butter and banana sandwich), Sunday Afternoon Football Party, her Anniversary, etc. By going this route, you can get a better idea of what a sample menu might look like. You also get some really nice family anecdotes mixed throughout, giving you a better glimpse into their lives and what is important to them.
So far, in this book, I have made brussel srouts with onion and bacon, Cheeseburger Pies (which I posted earlier in the year... I've never received so many comments about a meal 'not looking good' yet I promise it was REALLY good!!), Teriyaki and Buffalo Chicken Wings (pictured above, recipe below), spinach salad, goulash, and many others. I haven't been disappointed yet! This is definitely a cookbook I'll use time and time again!
Teriyaki and Buffalo Chicken Wings
36 fresh, or frozen, chicken wings, tips trimmed
salt and pepper
vegetable oil, for frying
Teriyaki Sauce:
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons dry sherry
Buffalo Sauce:
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Thaw the frozen wings under running water until the glaze has melted. Dry the wings thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste. In a dutch oven, pour in 3 inches of oil and heat to 360 degrees. Using tongs, lower each wing individually into the oil. Fry until the wings are crisp and brown, about 12-14 minutes. Drain on paper towels. You will have to cook the wings in several batches. You can do this part of the recipe several hours before your party. Leave them at room temperature, covered loosely with foil, after they have cooled completely.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the teriyaki sauce ingredients in a small measuring cup. Combine the buffalo sauce ingrediens in another small measuring cup. Place 18 wings in one baking dish and the remaining 18 wings in another baking dish. Pour the teriyaki sauce over the wings in the first dish and toss to coat. Repeat in the other dish with the buffalo sauce. Place in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the sauces have glazed the wings and the wings are heated through.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fish Tacos

This dish, for some reason, was incredibly hard to photograph. I kept going back and trying again and again-- even more once I tasted how delicious they were. I really wanted my picture to convince people to try them because they truly were great! Kathy had more luck on her blog-- so feel free to check hers out if you need some motivation! :)

I made these exactly as Kathy suggested, with the exception of the tortillas. My husband and I both prefer flour to corn tortillas, so we went that route instead. (Maybe I can blame my cruddy picture on that!) The only thing I will warn about is that I somehow bought the hottest green onions that I have ever tasted. I am a huge onion fan but this was too much even for me. It just overpowered the sauce a bit. I would adjust the number of onions used depending on the batch you find! It's always easier to add more than it is to take it away!

Fish Tacos
To make the sauce:
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions (adjust depending on onion strength)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 of a jalapeno, seeded and minced

To make the tacos:
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 pounds Tilapia fillets
Cooking spray
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas (I used flour)
2 cups shredded cabbage

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. To prepare the sauce, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and put in fridge to meld flavors. To prepare tacos, combine dry seasonings in a small bowl; sprinkle spice mixture evenly over both sides of fish. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake for 9-12 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Place fish in a bowl; break into pieces with a fork. While fish is cooking, heat tortillas. Divide fish evenly among tortillas; top each with 1/4 cup cabbage and 1 tablespoon sauce.

Source: Three on Food