Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cinnamon Rolls

This is one of those "no recipe" recipes. I don't have specific amounts because you just throw as you go!

1 recipe Sweet Yeast Dough (made with raisins if desired), divided into thirds

1 stick butter, melted (more if needed)
brown sugar
cinnamon
chopped walnuts (optional)

Generously grease several baking pans of your choice. (9 inch round for "plate" presentation, 9x13 or 8x8 for individual rolls)

On lightly floured surface, roll out 1/3 of dough into a large (12x24 or so) rectangle. (Have the longest part horizontal in front of you, the shorter side vertical.) The dough is very stretchy, so it will snap back a bit after rolling. You should end up with a thickness of about 1/4 inch.

Brush liberally with melted butter. Sprinkle a thin layer of brown sugar over the dough, leaving about 1/2 inch border. Sprinkle with cinnamon to cover. Add chopped nuts if desired, about 1/2 c.

To form the rolls, begin rolling by tucking about 1/4 inch towards the brown sugar mixture, starting in the middle & working your way to each end. Keep the roll tight, & continue to roll, tightening as you go. Press the seam tight when you finish the roll.

Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the roll into even pieces, about 1 inch in size. Place rolls in prepared pans. Give them room because they will almost double in size. (9 fit nicely in the smaller square pans, 12 in the 9x13, etc) Brush tops lightly with melted butter.

Repeat with remaining dough.

Cover with clean towel, place in warm spot & allow to rise again until nearly double, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375.

Remove towels & bake rolls for 12-16 minutes until tops are lightly brown & insides are no longer "doughy".

Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes or so. Remove from pans; run a knife around the edges lightly to loosen, place a wire rack on top of the pan & flip. Immediately place another wire rack or serving plate on the bottom of rolls & flip back so they are right side up.

Glaze while still warm.

GLAZE:
2 c. powdered sugar
2 TBS milk*
1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredients in small bowl, stirring until smooth.

*substitute 2 TBS cold strong coffee if desired

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sweet Yeast Dough

1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
5-5 1/2 c. unbleached flour

2 packages yeast
1 1/4 c. milk heated to 120

(1 c. raisins, optional)

Grease 3 large bowls & 3 pieces of plastic wrap.

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk. In large mixer bowl, cream butter & sugar until light. Add eggs 1 at a time (keep mixer running). Add salt. Gradually add 2 1/2 c. flour and milk, alternating dry & liquid. By hand stir in remaining flour. On well floured surface, knead dough until elastic, adding more flour if necessary, about 5 minutes. Divide dough into thirds; place into greased bowls & cover with plastic wrap. Place in warm place & let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

At this point, you can use the dough to make cinnamon rolls, sweet rolls, breakfast loaves, etc.

(Recipe for Cinnamon Rolls to follow.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Chocolate Butter Hearts

1 c. sugar
1 c. butter, softened
1 egg
2 TBS orange juice
1 TBS vanilla
2 1/2 c. unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder

1 package semi-sweet chips.

In large mixer bowl, cream sugar & butter until light & fluffy. Add egg, orange juice & vanilla. Blend well. Gradually add flour & baking powder. Beat at low speed, scraping down sides often, until well mixed. Form dough into ball, wrap tightly with plastic wrap & chill for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400. Divide dough in half. On well floured surface, roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness. (Keep remaining dough refrigerated.) Cut with 1 1/2 - 2 inch heart shaped cookie cutter. Place hearts 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in center of oven 4-8 minutes until edges are very light golden. Do not overbake. Remove immediately to wire rack to cool completely.

Spread sheet of wax paper on cleen baking pan. In micro-proof bowl, melt 1/2 bag of chocolate chips. Holding heart gently by edges, dip bottom of cookie in chocolate to coat evenly. Allow excess to drip off & place on wax paper. Allow to set completely; to speed setting, place sheets in refrigerator.

Store tightly covered in refrigerator.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Lemon Stars

COOKIES:
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
3 TBS milk
2 tsp grated lemon peel
1 egg
3 c. unbleached flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

GLAZE:
2 c. powdered sugar
3 TBS fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. yellow decorating sugar

In large mixing bowl, beat butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Add milk, lemon peel & egg; blend well. Gradually add flour & baking powder; mix well. Form into a ball & wrap tightly in plastic wrap; refrigerate 2 hours (at least).

Heat oven to 400. Divide dough ball into thirds. On lightly floured surface, roll out one third of dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Keep remaining dough in refrigerator. Using 2 inch star-shaped cookie cutter, cut out star cookies. Place 1 inch aoart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 5-8 minutes until very light golden brown. Do not overbake. Remove to wire cooling rack immediately. Cool completely; repeat with remaining dough.

To assemble, stack pairs of star cookies with points alternating (to form double layer, 10 point cookies) on wire rack over wax paper.

To make glaze, combine powdered sugar & lemon juice; beat until smooth. Spoon small amount of glaze over each pair of stars, starting in center so it drips down the sides between the points. Allow excess to drip off. Let stand 3-5 minutes & sprinkle with decorator sugar. Allow to set completely before storing in tightly covered container.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

English Toffee

3/4 c. pecans, chopped

1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
2 TBS water

1 tsp vanilla

8 oz good quality dark (bittersweet) chocolate

Preheat oven to 350. Place pecans on ungreased baking sheet & toast for 6-8 minutes or until fragrant.

Line a 9x9 square baking pan with heavy aluminum foil.

In a heavy saucepan, cook butter, sugar & water over medium heat until temperature reaches 305 (hard crack stage) stirring occasionally. Careful! Once temperature reaches 290, it will increase VERY quickly!

Immediately remove pan from heat and quickly stir in the vanilla. Pour into the foil shell. Tilt pan to distribute evenly. Toffee may not spread all the way into the corners. Do not attempt to smooth with spoon, it never works!

Cool at room temperature until hard, about 45 minutes.

Break chocolate into pieces & melt in microwave. Spread evenly over toffee base; sprinkle with toasted pecans, pressly lightly to set the nuts.

Allow to stand at room temperature for at least one hour, or until chocolate is firm.

Break into pieces; store at room temperature in tightly covered container.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Quick Fudge

1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. cocoa (Dutch process)
4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. low-fat evaporated milk (not condensed)
1 c. walnut, pecan or hazelnut pieces

Line square 8x8 pan with foil.

In medium micro-proof bowl, microwave butter on high until melted (1-2 minutes in mine). Add cocoa & stir with wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar & vanilla; blend well. Mixture will be very dry & crumbly.

Stir in evaporated milk. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir well. Microwave an additional minute, or until mixture is very hot.

Beat with wooden spoon until very smooth. Add nuts, stir to combine. Pour into prepared pan, smooth evenly. Cover; chill until firm. Lift foil from pan, separate edges of foil from fudge. Cut into squares.

Store in refrigerator in tightly covered container.

Chocolate Walnut Clusters

1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 squares unsweetened baker's chocolate

1/2 c. unbleached flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 c. broken walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 350. Grease cookie sheet.

In large mixer bowl, cream butter; add sugar & beat until light. Beat in egg, vanilla & melted chocolate.

Blend in flour & baking powder. Add walnut pieces, stir to combine.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool for a minute before removing to wire rack to col completely. Store in tightly covered container.

Chocolate Snowdrops

2 c. unbleached flour
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa (Dutch process)

3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. canola oil

powdered sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350.

In large bowl, mix all dry ingredients together by hand until well blended. Form a well in the center. Add eggs, vanilla & oil. Mix together by hand until blended into a "brownie" consistency.

Scoop teaspoon-size amount & form into ball. Roll in powdered sugar until well coated. Place on ungreased cookie pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Do not overcook. Allow to cool on pan for 2 minutes. Remove to rack to cool completely.

Store in tightly covered container.

Nutmeg Logs (Eggnog Cookies)

3/4 c. sugar
1 c. butter, softened
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. rum (or rum extract)
1 egg
3 c. unbleached flour
1 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg

Frosting:
2 c. powdered sugar
3 TBS butter, softened
3/4 tsp rum (or rum extract)
1/4 tsp vanilla
2-3 TBS milk

fresh ground nutmeg to sprinkle

In large mixer bowl, beat sugar & butter until light. Add vanilla, rum & egg; beat until light. Gradually stir in flour & nutmeg; mix well. Form into ball, wrap tightly with plastic wrap & refrigerate 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. On lightly floured surface, shape each piece into a long rope, 1/2 inch around. Cut into 3 inch "logs"; place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes until very light brown. Immediately remove to wire rack to cool completely.

In small bowl, combine all frosting ingredients; beat until smooth. Spread on top of each cookie log. Draw tines of fork along length of frosting to resemble bark. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Allow frosting to set. Store tightly covered in refrigerator.

Rum Balls

1 c. crushed vanilla wafers (Nilla Vanilla)
1 c. finely chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
1 c. powdered sugar
2 TBS cocoa (Dutch process)
1/4 c. rum*
1 1/2 TBS light corn syrup

powdered sugar for rolling

In large mixer bowl, combine vanilla wafer crumbs, nuts, powdered sugar & cocoa. Blend in rum & corn syrup; mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Shape into 1 inch balls; roll in powdered sugar to cover. Store tightly covered in refrigerator.

*substitute spiced rum if desired

Toffee Squares

1 c. butter
1 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. unbleached flour

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup small walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 350. Grease jelly roll pan (10x15x1).

In large mixer bowl, cream butter; add sugar gradually & beat until light. Blend in egg yolk & vanilla. Add flour & bend until combined.

Spread dough evenly into pan.

Bake for 18-20 minutes until edges just begin to brown. Do not overbake. Remove from oven to wire rack & sprinkle immediately with chocolate chips, allow to melt & spread evenly over cookie base. Sprinkle with nuts; press into lightly chocolate.

Cool.

Cut into squares. Store tightly covered in refrigerator.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Garlic Ginger Bok Choy

3/4 lb bok choy

1 piece ginger (1 inch), peeled & sliced into very thin matchsticks
1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/4 c. organic chicken broth
1 teaspoon Mirin (rice wine)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

Remove any bruised or withered outer leaves from bok choy. Trim 1/8 inch from bottom of bok choy, then cut into quarters. Wash bok choy in several changes of cold water and dry in a colander or salad spinner.

Whisk together chicken broth, Mirin, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl until cornstarch is dissolved.

Heat wok or large skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Pour oil into pan, then swirl oil, tilting to coat sides. Add ginger & garlic stir-fry 15 seconds. Add bok choy and stir-fry until leaves are bright green and just limp, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir broth mixture, then pour into pan and stir-fry until vegetables are crisp-tender and sauce is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Remove from heat & place evenly in serving bowl; do not "mound" to avoid overcooking.

Ginger Lemongrass Pork Tenderloin

1 whole pork tenderloin, .85-1 lb.

Marinade:
1 1/2 c. pineapple orange juice
4 green onions, sliced
2 TBS fresh ginger, minced
1 TBS fresh lemongrass, outside removed, chopped
2 TBS fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper
1 TBS turbinado sugar ("Sugar in the Raw")
1 tsp low sodium soy sauce

Place pork tenderloin in medium, non-metal bowl.

Combine all marinade ingredients in bowl of small food processor or blender. Puree until uniform consistency.

Set aside 1/4 of marinade & refrigerate until needed. Spoon remaining marinade evenly over pork, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 2-8 hours.

Preheat oven to 350. Remove pork from marinade, place on roasting rack in foil lined pan. Cook for 1 hour. Remove pork from oven & let set 2 minutes.

Slice into 8-10 pieces; arrange on serving dish. Spoon reserved marinade over tenderloin pieces.

Serve with Jasmine rice.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Florentine Tomato Soup

2 TBS olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. diced baby carrots
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small zucchini, diced

4 c. organic chicken broth, warm (or substitute vegetable broth)
1 can petite diced tomatoes, with liquid
1-8 oz. can tomato sauce
1-6 oz can tomato paste

1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp marjoram
1 tsp parsley flakes
1/2 - 1 tsp crushed red pepper

3/4 c. small shell pasta

1 tsp fresh basil, chopped
1 c. fresh baby spinach, chopped

fresh grated Parmesan/Romano blend

Heat olive oil in 4 qt. saucepan. Add onion, garlic, carrots & celery and saute until onions start to become translucent. Add zucchini & saute 2 minutes more.

Pour in broth; add tomatoes, sauce & paste. Stir well to combine. Add seasonings. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat & simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add pasta, stir well, and return soup to a simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often.

Add basil & spinach & simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve with grated cheese blend & a crusty baguette.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Spiced Cafe Mocha Cookies

1 c. butter (2 sticks), softened
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 c. espresso (or other very strong coffee), cooled

4 c. unbleached flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 & 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Glaze:
2 TBS butter, melted
3 c. powdered sugar
2 TBS unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. espresso (or other strong coffee), cooled

Preheat oven to 375.

In large mixing bowl, cream butter & sugar on medium speed. Add egg & vanilla; mix well.

In separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients; blend well.

Add dry ingredients & cooled coffee to butter mixture in alternating batches, starting and ending with dry ingredients.

Using spring action scoop, mound 1/2 inch rounds on cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Mix all glaze ingredients in small bowl. Dip cooled cookies in glaze (leave bottom unglazed) & allow to dry completely on wired rack.

Store in tightly sealed container.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pineapple Jasmine Rice

2 TBS sesame or other light oil
2 green onions, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced

1 c. fresh pineapple, diced

2 c. jasmine rice
3 & 1/4 c. water

Heat oil in large saucepan; add green onions, garlic & ginger. Saute 2-3 minutes. Add the pineapple & saute for 1 minute more.

Add the rice & pour in water, stir to combine.

Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Stir once, cover. Reduce heat to simmer; simmer for 16 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.

Remove from heat, stir. Let sit for 3-5 minutes before serving.

Asian Glazed "Spare" Ribs

1.35 - 1.5 lbs boneless country-style pork ribs, cut in half*

Marinade:
1 c. pineapple juice
3 slices fresh ginger or 1 tsp ginger powder
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. whole peppercorns

Glaze:
1/4 c. pineapple juice
1/2 c. Hoison sauce
2 TBS rice vinegar
1 TBS Mirin (sweetened sake)
1 TSB reduced sodium soy sauce
1 TBS sesame oil, or other light oil
1/2 tsp fresh ginger or 1 tsp ginger powder
2 cloves garlic, minced

In large non-metal bowl, combine all marinade ingredients. Add rib pieces, turning to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 8. The longer you marinate, the more tender the pork will be.

Preheat oven to 350. Line 9x13 glass pan with foil. Remove the pork from the marinade & arrange rib pieces in pan so that they are not touching. Bake for 40 minutes. Discard the marinade.

Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients to make glaze.

Remove ribs from pan, drain juices & remove foil. Place rib pieces back into pan & pour glaze over to cover.

Bake an additional 30-40 minutes or until ribs are tender; basting occasionally with glaze.

Serve with Pineapple Jasmine Rice or Wild Rice/Basmati Rice Pilaf.

*For appetizer portions, cut ribs into "riblet" size portions. Reduce cooking time to 30 minutes for first bake, 25-35 minutes for glazing bake.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Butternut Squash Soup

2 medium butternut squash (about 4 lbs), halved & seeded
2 TBS butter, melted
ground nutmeg
salt
fresh ground pepper

1 medium onion, diced into very small pieces
2 TBS butter
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
4 c. warm organic chicken broth (substitute vegetable broth if desired)

1 c. Half & Half (you may substitute milk in a pinch)
1 sprig fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with foil. Brush each half of squash with butter, sprinkle generously with nutmeg, salt & pepper, & place cut side down on foil. Bake for 1 hour.

Scoop out the inside of squash carefully (pick off any rind still attached) & place in large bowl of food processor. Puree until smooth, adding a small amount of water if necessary.

In medium stockpot, melt 2 TBS butter & saute onion until it just becomes translucent. Add squash puree, pepper & ginger; cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until heated through. Blend in broth, stirring until smooth. Allow to come to a simmer, then reduce heat to low & cook, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring often.

Meanwhile, combine Half & Half and rosemary in a small saucepan & heat on low until skin just starts to form. Remove from heat, take out rosemary & stir Half & Half quickly into soup mixture. Heat an additional 5 minutes, stirring often, to combine flavors.

If very smooth soup is desired, return soup to food processor in small batches & re-blend.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Caramel Apple Pie

Pastry Pie Crust for Single Crust Pie

1/4 c. sugar
2 TBS unbleached flour

5 c. peeled Cortland* apples, sliced thin (about 2.5 lbs)

1/2 c. unbleached flour
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. chopped pecans

6 oz. (1/2 small jar) caramel ice cream topping (I use Smucker's Fat Free.)

Roll out pie crust, line deep 9 inch pie dish & place in refrigerator while you prepare the pear & crumble mixtures.

Preheat oven to 425.

Combine 1/4 c. sugar, 2 TBS flour and in small bowl. Put apples in large non-metal bowl. Add sugar mixture to apples & toss to coat.

In a small bowl, combine the 1/2 c. flour, 1/4 c. sugar & cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in pecans. (I often do this first & set aside.)

Pour apple mixture into unbaked pie crust, spreading evenly. Cover edge of pie crust with foil. Bake for 10 minutes at 425.

Remove pie from oven; reduce heat to 375. Remove foil from edges.

Sprinkle crumb mixture over apples. Bake for 35 minutes at 375.

Spoon caramel topping evenly over top of pie. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until pie is bubbly & crust is golden.

Remove to wire rack & allow to cool a bit before serving. (Serving too warm is delicious, but messy!)

*I prefer Cortlands because the result is a juicy, but still "firm" apple pie. You may also use Macintosh, Jonathon or Empire apples.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pork Medallions in Beer & Onion Sauce

1 - 1.25 lb. pork tenderloin, sliced into 1/2 inch medallions*

2 TBS unbleached flour
1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper (a/b 1/4 tsp)

2 TBS olive oil

1 medium onion (baseball size) sliced in half, then thin sliced

3/4 c. full bodied beer (a nice pale ale or Oktoberfest works well)
3/4 c. hot organic vegetable (or beef) broth

1 TBS cornstarch
1/4 c. water

In small bowl, mix flour, salt & pepper. Add pork medallions & coat well.

Heat oil in 10 inch skillet over medium heat. Add pork & cook for 3 minutes. Turn & cook for 3 minutes more. Add onions; cook for 5 minutes, turning pork halfway through.

Pour in beer & broth. Cover & simmer for 15 minutes.

Combine cornstarch & water, stirring until smooth. Stir into sauce, mixing well. Cook until thick & bubbly.

Serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

*You may substitute 4 boneless pork chops for the medallions.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Southwestern Black Bean Soup

2 TBS olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 gloves garlic, minced

1 stalk celery, chopped
1 large banana pepper, seeded & diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded & diced

1 can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can black beans,rinsed & drained
1 c. frozen corn
1/2 tsp cumin (or more to taste)

3 c. organic vegetable broth (or 3 c. water & good boullion)

shredded cheddar

Heat oil in 4 qt. pan over medium heat. Add onion & garlic & saute until onion just becomes translucent. Add celery & peppers & continue to saute for an additional 2-3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes & liquid, black beans & corn. Mix well. Add cumin. Add vegetable broth, stir well, & bring soup to a simmer; reduce heat to medium low. Cover & simmer for 35 minutes.

To serve, ladle into bowls & sprinkle generously with shredded cheddar.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Guinness Stew (Lamb or Beef)

1.25 - 1.5 good grade lamb, cut into 1/2 inch chunks, all fat removed (I usually grab a nice beef sirloin if I can't find good lamb)
olive oil

1/3 c. flour
1 can diced tomatoes
1 c. Guinness (or other stout)
1 c. warm beef broth (or 2 c. water & good quality soup base)
fresh ground pepper

5 - 6 good size baking potatoes, peeled & cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 - 2 c. baby carrots
1 c. frozen peas
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large onion, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 330.

Warm beef broth in microwave, add fresh ground pepper to taste.

In large ovenproof skillet or Dutch Oven, heat 2 TBS oil. Add lamb (or beef) & brown thoroughly. Sprinkle with flour & stir to coat evenly. Stir in canned tomatoes with all liquid, Guinness & broth with seasonings. Stir gently & allow to come to slight simmer. Add all vegetables & stir well, adding more liquid as necessary to cover. Bring to simmer.

Place in oven and allow to cook for 2.5 hours, stirring every so often, adding a bit more Guinness if needed.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Italian Lemon Cookies

1/2 c. butter (1 stick), softened
1/2 c. sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

2 & 1/2 c. unbleached flour
1 TBS baking powder

2 TBS milk, + 1 TBS additional if needed

Glaze:
2 c. powdered sugar
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
1 TBS milk

colored jimmies

Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment*.

In large mixing bowl, cream butter & sugar until light. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla & lemon juice.

In separate bowl, mix flour & baking powder. Add to butter mixture in 3 batches, alternating with milk (dry, wet, dry, wet, dry, wet). Use additional milk if necessary. Batter will resemble brownie batter.

Using spring action melon baller/scoop, plunk dough on parchment. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Do not overbake, edges of cookies will not brown. Remove to wire rack & cool completely.

Mix all glaze ingredients until smooth. Glaze cookies, setting on wire rack over wax paper, & sprinkle with colored jimmies.

Allow glaze to harden (set in fridge to speed this step up). Store in airtight containers.

*I use wax paper to line the cookie sheet, it smokes a little, but doesn't affect the taste!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Great White Chili

2 TBS olive oil
1 & 1/3 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced

1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large banana pepper (or 2 medium), sliced into thin strips & cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 jalapenos (or 3 small), sliced into thin strips & cut into 1/4 inch pieces

2 c. organic chicken broth, warm (or 2 c. water & good boullion base)
2 cans Great Northern beans, rinsed & drained
1 c. white corn

1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano

1 tsp. fresh lime juice

Heat olive oil in large saucepan or Dutch oven; add chicken & cook until no longer pink. Add onion & saute until just translucent. Add garlic & saute 2 minutes more. Add peppers & saute lightly for 1 - 2 minutes.

Pour in chicken broth; bring to a simmer. Add beans & corn; return to simmer. Stir in cumin & oregano. Simmer for 25 minutes.

Stir in lime juice. Simmer an additional 5 minutes.

Top with shredded Monterey Jack. Serve with a mixed green salad & corn muffins or tortillas.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies

3/4 c. butter (1 & 1/2 sticks), softened
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1/3 c. granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg

1 & 2/3 c. unbleached flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

2 c. quality white chocolate chips
3/4 c. macadamia nuts, chopped

Combine butter & sugars in large mixing bowl; mix well until creamy. Beat in vanilla & egg. Stir in dry ingredients in 3 batches to incorporate gradually. Stir in white chocolate chips & nuts by hand.

Turn dough out onto plastic wrap, form into flattened disc & wrap tightly. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but no more than 3.

Preheat oven to 375.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet. For more uniform cookies, use spring action melon baller/scoop. Bake for 8 - 11 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes; remove to wire rack & cool thoroughly. Store in tightly covered containers.

Vegetable Beef Barley Soup (Quick & easy for a busy day!)

2 TBS olive oil
1.25 lbs. lean beef stew meat, cut into very small pieces (less than 1/2 inch)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced

6 c. warm organic beef broth (or 6 c. water & good boullion)
fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1 stalk celery, diced
1 - 16 oz package frozen mixed vegetables
2 baking potatoes, washed, peeled & diced

1/2 c. quick cooking barley
1/2 c. alphabet noodles

Heat oil over medium high heat in large Dutch oven or soup pot. Add meat & brown well. Add onion & garlic & cook, stirring often, until onion just begins to be translucent.

Pour in warm broth & seasonings; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer & add celery, mixed vegetables & diced potatoes. Cover & simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add barley & alphabet noodles. Cover. Continue to simmer for an additional 10 minutes until barley & noodles are done, stirring often.

Serve with a nice crusty bread.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fudge Frosting

1/3 c. butter, melted
1/3 c. cocoa
2 & 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 & 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2+ TBS milk

Melt butter in large glass mixing bowl in microwave. Stir in cocoa; blend well. Slowly stir in powdered sugar on low speed. Beat in vanilla & milk, slowly increasing speed to high & beat until frosting is of spreading consistency, adding additional powdered sugar or milk if necessary.

Fudge Cake

2 & 1/2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate (2.5 blocks)
3/4 c. butter, softened
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 & 1/4 c. unbleached flour
1 & 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 & 1/3 c. water

Preheat oven to 350. Grease & flour two 9-inch round cake pans or one 13x9 inch rectangular pan.

Melt the chocolate in microwave. (Mine takes 2-3 minutes on High.) Cool slightly.

Cream butter, sugar & vanilla in large mixing bowl until light & fluffy. Add eggs & cooled chocolate; blend well. Mix flour & baking soda together in small bowl. Add dry ingredients alternately with water in two batches each.

Pour into prepared pan(s). Bake 35-40 minutes for round pans, 40-45 minutes for 13x9, or until center tests clean. Remove from oven, cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.

Remove 9 inch rounds from pans & cool completely. (Allow 13x9 to cool completely in pan before frosting.)

Frost with Fudge Frosting

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sweet & Sour Pork (or Chicken)

1.3 - 1.5 lbs pork tenderloin (or lean boneless pork chops)* cut into 1 inch cubes
2 TBS olive oil

1 & 1/2 c. fresh pineapple, cut in 1 inch chunks
1 large green pepper, seeded, cut into squares
1 large red pepper, seeded, cut into squares
1 large onion, chopped into large pieces
1 clove garlic, minced

3/4 c. pineapple juice
2 TBS cornstarch
3 TBS reduced sodium soy sauce
1 TBS rice vinegar
1 TBS fresh grated ginger (or 1/2 tsp dried ground ginger)

In large heavy skillet (or Dutch oven), heat oil. Add pork cubes & cook until light golden. Add pineapple, peppers, onion & garlic. Cook, stirring often, until onions are tender.
Stir cornstarch into pineapple juice until smooth. Stir into pork and vegetables along with soy sauce, rice vinegar & ginger; heat to boiling. Reduce heat, and simmer for 2 minutes until sauce is thick & bubbly.

Serve over hot cooked rice.

*For Sweet Sour Chicken, substitute 1.3 - 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes, for the pork.

Carrot Cake with a Tropical Flair

2 c. unbleached flour
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice

1 & 1/2 c. canola oil
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 - 8 oz. can crushed pineapple, undrained

2 c. shredded carrots
1 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 c. shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Grease & flour a 9x13 cake pan (or 2 - 9 inch round pans)

Mix all dry ingredients together in large mixing bowl. Add oil, eggs, vanilla & pineapple with juice; mix together until moistened. Add carrots, walnuts & coconut; beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour into prepared cake pan(s).

Bake 35 - 40 minutes or until center tests clean. (Reduce time for 9 inch pans, 20 - 30 minutes.)

Remove from oven & place on wire rack to cool.

Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz. light cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter, softened (1 stick)
3 & 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients in large electric mixer bowl; beat until smooth. Add additional 1–2 c. powdered sugar if necessary until icing reaches desired consistency.

Mixed Bean Soup

1 c. Great Northern beans
3/4 c. Pinto beans
1/4 c. brown lentils
8 c. water

1 - 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 lb. bacon, cooked & broken into small pieces
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp. dried parsely
fresh ground black pepper
1 TBS good quality beef soup base

3 - 4 large baking potatoes, peeled, cooked & mashed (3 c. mashed)

3 medium carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced

Rinse & drain all beans. Combine with 8 c. water in large stockpot. Bring to simmer, cover & cook for 1 & 1/2 hours.

Add tomato sauce, onion, garlic, cooked bacon bits, thyme, parsley, pepper & soup base. Stir to blend well. Bring back to simmer; cover & cook for an additional 2 hours.

Meanwhile, wash, peel, cut & cook potatoes in 2 inches of water in medium saucepan for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain. Mash well, leaving a few lumps.

Add mashed potatoes, carrots & celery to soup; stir to blend. Continue to simmer for another hour, until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally so that soup does not scorch.

Baked French Onion Soup

4 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 TBS butter
1 TBS olvie oil
1/4 tsp sugar
2 TBS unbleached flour
6 c. organic beef broth (or 6 c. water & good boullion), warmed
1/4 c. dry white wine
fresh ground pepper

4 - 1 inch slices of day old baguette
1 c. shredded Gruyere cheese (Jarlsburg or Baby Swiss may be used as substitute)

Melt butter in 4 qt. saucepan over medium low heat; add olive oil, mix well. Add sliced onions & saute for 15 minutes in covered pot, stirring occasionally. Uncover & add sugar. Saute, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with flour; heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Blend in warm broth & wine; season to taste. Simmer on low heat, partially covered, for one hour.

Preheat oven to 325.

Divide soup into 4 ovenproof bowls. Sprinkle 1/8 c. cheese over soup in each bowl. Float slice of bread on soup; sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until hot.

Preheat broiler. Set each soup bowl under broiler for 2-3 minutes until cheese is golden brown.

Serve immediately.

Reduced Red Wine Sauce

2 bottles dry red table wine (I prefer a Cabernet or hearty Zin)
7 garlic cloves, halved
2 tsp. whole mixed peppercorns (a blend of black, red, green & pink)
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf

Place all ingredients in a heavy saucepan & bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 hours until reduced by half & slightly thickened.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer or chinois.

Serve warm, or chill for later use.

Macaroni & Cheese for Grown-up Tastes!

1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. unbleached flour
4 c. milk
1 & 1/2 c. shredded Sargento 6 Cheese Italian Blend (Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan and Fontina, plus Romano and aged Asiago) or Quatro Fromage (4 cheese mixture)
fresh ground pepper

1 lb. elbow macaroni, cooked al dente to package directions

Heat oven to 350.

Cook the macaroni to package direction to al dente. Do not overcook. Drain well & pour into large Corning dish. (2.5 quart size works well)

Meanwhile, melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. When melted, quickly stir in flour & blend well to form a roux (thick paste). Warm the milk in the microwave until it makes its first small bubbles; do NOT bring to a boil. Pour into the butter/flour roux & stir thoroughly until smooth. Add the cheese & mix well until all cheese is melted & sauce is smooth. Stir in fresh pepper to taste.

Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni in the Corning dish. Stir well to make sure all pasta is covered.

Place in oven for 20-25 minutes until heated through. Remove & let set for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Top each serving with 1/4 c. (more or less to taste) Reduced Red WIne Sauce

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Herbed Goat Cheese

one 7 - 9 oz log of chevre (fresh goat cheese)

2 tsp fresh chives, chopped
2 tsp fresh Italian parsley (flat leaf), chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped (or fresh basil or other herbs of choice!)
freshly ground pepper

Combine herbs & pepper in a small bowl. Mix well. Place a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap on the counter & spread the herb blend evenly. Roll the cheese in the mixture to coat; don't press too hard, you want to retain the shape of the log.

Wrap tightly in plastic wrap & refrigerate until needed.

Serve with fine crackers, small slices of baguette or pita wedges.

The herbed cheese can also be added to pizza or pasta. Or serve a piece in the center of a bowl of warm Roasted Red Pepper & Eggplant Spread for a delicious treat!

Tuscan Bean Soup with Tortellini (Fast & easy!)

3 c. fresh or frozen cheese tortellini, cooked to package directions

5 c. organic chicken broth (or 5 c. water & good quality boullion)
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped
2 c. baby spinach, thoroughly washed & cut into thin strips
1 - 16 oz can Cannelini or Great Northern beans

grated Parmesan/Romano cheese blend

In separate pot, cook tortellini according to package directions until just tender. Do not overcook! Drain.

Meanwhile, combine broth & garlic in large pan & bring just to a boil. Stir in basil, spinach & beans. Reduce heat & simmer 8-10 minutes. Stir in tortellini & simmer for an additional 2 minutes.

Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with grated cheese. Serve with crusty bread & a salad.

Chocolate Bread (Great for Gifts!)

2/3 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c. butter (1 stick), softened
1 c. semi-sweet mini chocolate chips, melted
2 eggs
2 & 1/2 c. unbleached flour
1 & 1/2 c. applesauce
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

*Optional: 1/2 c. chopped hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 5 mini-loaf pans (5-1/2 x 3 inch).

Combine brown sugar & butter in large mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy & light, 1 - 2 minutes. Add 1 c. melted mini chocolate chips & eggs. Continue beating until well mixed. Add flour, applesauce, baking powder, baking soda & vanilla. Beat on low speed until creamy, scraping bowl often. By hand, stir in 1/2 c. mini chocolate chips (& nuts if desired).

Spoon batter into mini loaf pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until center tests clean. Remove from oven to cool for 10 minutes; turn onto wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Toffee Topped Snack Cake

2 c. brown sugar
2 c. unbleached flour
1/2 c. butter (1 stick), softened
1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. milk
1 egg

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. broken walnuts (small pieces)

Preheat oven to 350. Thoroughly grease 9x13 inch baking pan.

With pastry blender or fork, blend brown sugar, flour and butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Remove 1 c. and set aside for later.

To remaining mixture, add baking powder, vanilla, milk & egg; mix by hand until smooth. Turn batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly.

Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture evenly over batter. Top with chocolate chips & nuts.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until center tests clean.

Note: To cut recipe in half, use 1 egg yolk instead of whole egg. Divide remaining ingreadients in half & use 8x8 inch baking pan.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"Unstuffed" Peppers

1.25 - 1.33 lbs good grade ground sirloin (Or ground round, or "extra lean" ground beef. Should be 15% fat or less listed on the label.)

1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 large green pepper, seeded & cut into 1/2 inch pieces

Basil
Oregano
Parsley
Marjoram

1 jar Classico Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce
1 can petite diced tomatoes

1 c. long grain white rice
2.5 c. water

Brown ground beef in skillet over medium heat, turning & breaking up often. When meat is just about done, add chopped onion & garlic; cook until onion starts to become translucent. Add green pepper, blending well.

Add seasonings to taste. I use the "shake 1-2 tsp" of each. Blend into meat/veggie mixture.

Add tomatoes with juice & jar of sauce. Stir well; reduce heat to low simmer & cook, covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the sauce simmers, prepare rice. Combine rice & water in large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Immediately reduce heat to simmer, cover & cook 14-18 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.

Stir rice into sauce. Simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Cranberry Bread

2 c. unbleached flour
1 & 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 c. sugar

1 egg, beaten
2 TBS butter, melted
1/2 c. orange juice
2 TBS hot water

3/4 c. walnuts, broken into small pieces
1 c. cranberries, chopped
1 TBS fresh grated orange peel

Preheat oven to 325. Grease large loaf pan.

In large mixer bowl, blend dry ingredients. Add egg, butter, orange juice an hot water. Mix until moistened. Gently fold in nuts, cranberries and orange peel.

Pour evenly into loaf pan, smoothing if necessary. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes until light golden and tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Russian Teacakes

1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 & 1/4 c. unbleached flour
3/4 c. toasted hazelnuts, ground

powdered sugar

Cream butter in large mixing bowl until light. Gradually add 1/2 c. powdered sugar and beat until fluffy. Add vanilla; mix well. Mix flour into butter mixture in three batches. Stir in hazelnuts.

Form into ball; wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 12 hours.

Preheat oven to 400.

Form dough into 1 inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet, spaced 1 inch apart. Bake until just firm to the touch, 10 - 12 minutes; edges should just be beginning to turn light brown. Do not over bake. Transfer to rack to cool slightly. Roll cookies in powdered sugar until completely covered. Cool completely. Roll in powdered sugar again.

Store in airtight container. These do not need to be refrigerated, but they taste fabulous if they are!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Basic Quiche

Basic Quiche
1 & 1/2 c. Half & Half cream
4 eggs
fresh ground pepper

1/2 c. fresh grated Parmesan
1 c. mozzarella

embellishments of choice (see below)

Pastry lined deep dish pie dish; see Pastry Pie Crust recipe, line pie dish & chill until needed

Preheat oven to 425.

Scatter cheeses evenly over bottom of pastry lined pie dish; mozzarella on bottom, Parmesan sprinkled over.

In large mixing bowl, combine cream, eggs and freshly ground pepper (1/4 - 1/2 tsp, to taste); using whisk or fork, whip until light & frothy. Pour over cheese (and embellishments of choice) in lined pie dish.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Immediately reduce heat to 350 & bake another 30 minutes, until knife inserted in center tests clean. Remove from oven & allow to set 5 - 10 minutes before serving.

Embellishments to be layered over the cheese before egg mixture is poured over:

Quiche Florentine:
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thoroughly drained
1 small onion, chopped & lightly sauteed in 1 TBS olive oil

Mediterranean Quiche:
1/2 c. Mediterranean olives, pitted & sliced
1/2 c. feta or goat cheese substituted for 1/2 c. of mozzarella
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Roma tomato, seeded & chopped

Fiesta Quiche
1 c. canned black beans, rinsed & thoroughly drained
1 Roma tomato, seeded & chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded & chopped
1 small onion, chopped & lightly sauteed in 1 TBS olive oil
1 & 1/2 c. Monterey Jack cheese substituted for Parmesan & mozzarella
(optional: 1/4 c. black olives, pitted & sliced)

Denver Quiche
1 small onion, chopped & lightly sauteed in 1 TBS olive oil
3/4 c. chopped green pepper
1 Roma tomato, seeded & chopped
1 c. diced ham

Lasagna

1 recipe Meat Sauce (see Spaghetti* with Meat Sauce recipe)

1 lb lasagna noodles, al dente

3 c. shredded mozzarella
1 c. grated Parmesan

Optional: 1 & 1/2 c. fresh baby spinach, washed, drained & coarsely chopped

Cook Meat Sauce according to directions (somewhere on the blog); allow to simmer for at least 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, in large pot, cook pasta according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 350.

To assemble, use deep 8x10 glass baking pan. Spread a thin layer of meat sauce evenly in the bottom of the pan. Remove pasta from pot with tongs one at a time; add a layer of noodles lengthwise, edges touching, cut to fit if necessary. Spread a layer of meat sauce (1 - 2 c.) over the noodles, top evenly with 1 c. mozzarella & 1/3 c. Parmesan. Repeat two more times. You will now have 3 layers, the top one being cheese.

Bake in oven for 20 minutes.

Remove & allow to sit for 5 - 10 minutes.

Note: If using spinach, top all meat layers except very bottom one with 1/2 c. spinach before adding the cheeses.

Freeze extra meat sauce for later use.

Roasted Red Pepper & Eggplant Dip

2 large red peppers, seeded & chopped
1 - 1.5 lb eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 Roma tomatoes, seeded & chopped
3 TBS olive oil
1/4 tsp. hot red pepper flakes

1 log fresh goat cheese

Place rack in center of oven: preheat oven to 400.

Combine all ingredients (except goat cheese) in 8x10 corning/glass dish. Toss to coat & spread evenly. Roast vegetables, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 40-50 minutes.

Remove from oven, allow to cool a bit, then puree in food processor or blender. Salt to taste.

Place in warmed serving dish & top with a slice (or two) of fresh goat cheese/chevre. Serve with pita points or crostini.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Fettuccine Alfredo (With or Without Chicken

2 c. dry white wine*
3 green onions, chopped
fresh ground pepper
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tsp oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. organic chicken broth (or 2 c. water with good quality soup base, warmed)
3 c. Half & Half (substitute milk only in a pinch)
1 & 1/2 c. fresh grated Parmesan

2 chicken breasts, poached or grilled, sliced into 1/4 inch thick pieces

1 lb Fettuccine noodles, cooked to package directions

In large saucepan over medium high heat, combine white wine*, green onions, pepper, thyme, oregano & garlic. Cook uncovered until wine is reduced to 1/4 c., stirring occasionally. Add chicken broth & continue to cook until liquid reduces by half, about 15 more minutes. Add the Half & Half & simmer several minutes more, until sauce is slightly thickened. Gradually stir in the Parmesan cheese, blending until smooth.

Cook fettuccine to al dente according to package.

You may either stir cut up chicken into sauce, or layer over fettuccine servings.

Garnish with additional grated Parmesan.

*If you do not have a nice dry white wine available, you may substitute 2 c. of chicken broth & continue cooking as directed.

Serve with a nice mixed green salad & baguette.

Lentil Soup ("The" Soup)

7 c. organic chicken or vegetable broth (or 7 c. water with good quality soup base)
1 - 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 c. baby carrots, sliced thin
1 c. dry brown lentils (rinsed & drained)
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large celery stalk, chopped
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tsp parsley flakes

1 c. brown rice
2 & 1/2 c. water

In Dutch Oven or large saucepan, combine all ingredients except rice & 2 & 1/2 c. water. Bring to boiling; cover & reduce to simmer. Let simmer for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, put rice & 2 & 1/2 c. water in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; cover & reduce to simmer for 30 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.

Gently stir cooked rice into soup. Simmer 10 minutes more.

Serve with crusty baguette.

Potato Cheddar Leek Soup

1/4 lb bacon, coarsely chopped

4 TBS butter (1/2 stick)

2 small leeks, thoroughly washed, chopped fine
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. baby carrots, thinly sliced

1/2 c. unbleached flour
6 c. organic chicken broth (or 6 c. water & good quality chicken soup base)
5 - 6 large russet potatoes, peeled & diced (about 3 lbs)

2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

1 c. Half & Half (you can substitute milk in a pinch, but it will not taste as rich)

Place bacon in large saucepan; cook over medium high, stirring occasionally until it is crisp but not overly brown. Remove from pan with slotted spoon to drain & reserve for garnish.

Pour off all but 1 TBS bacon drippings. Add butter to reserve drippings & place pan back on medium heat. When melted, add leek, onion, garlic & carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over vegetables & stir in until all lumps have disappeared. Gradually stir in chicken broth, stirring constantly & scraping bottom well. Raise liquid just to a boil. Quickly stir in potatoes & reduce heat to a simmer. Cook partially covered until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Put cheese in large mixing bowl. Ladle in about a quarter of the hot liquid (straining out veggies), stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the cheese has completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir the cheese mixture back into the soup.

Gradually stir in the Half & Half. Continue to heat until the soup is thick & heated through.

Serve with fresh ground pepper & bacon bits.

Garden Vegetable Soup

1 medium onion, chopped
1 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil

6 c. organic vegetable broth (or 6 c. water & good quality vegetable soup base)
1 - 16 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 - 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 can Great Northern beans, rinsed & drained
1 c. baby carrots, sliced thin
1 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise & sliced thin
1 c. frozen sweet corn
2 large baking potatoes, peeled & diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 c. fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley flakes
fresh ground pepper

3/4 c. ditalini pasta (or other small chunky pasta)

grated Parmesan

Heat olive oil in large saucepan. Saute onion & garlic until just translucent. Add broth, tomatoes & tomato sauce. Bring just to a simmer. Add in all vegetables & seasonings. Cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Add pasta & simmer 10 minutes more until pasta is al dente.

Serve with grated Parmesan & crusty baguette.

Pasta Meatball Minestrone

1 lb. extra lean ground beef (sirloin, or other >15% fat)
2 TBS bread crumbs
1/4 c. grated Parmesan & Romano cheese blend
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp parsley flakes
fresh ground pepper
1 egg

1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. sliced baby carrots
1 small zucchini, diced

6 c. organic beef or vegetable broth (or 6 c. water & good quality soup base/boullion to make equivalent)
1 - 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 - 8 oz can tomato sauce

1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp marjoram
1 tsp parsley flakes
fresh ground pepper

1 c. uncooked rotini

Grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350. Combine ground meat, bread crumbs, Parmesan/Romano blend, basil, oregano, marjoram, parsley, ground pepper & egg using hands until well blended. Form into 3/4 inch size meatballs; place on large ungreased cookie pan. Bake for 12 - 17 minutes, until no longer pink.

In Dutch Oven or large saucepan, saute onion, garlic & carrots on medium heat until onions just start to become translucent. Add zucchini & saute 2 minutes more.

Add broth, tomatoes, sauce & seasonings. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, spoon in meatballs. Cover & simmer 20 minutes. Add pasta & cook 10 minutes more, or until noodles are al dente.

Ladle into bowls, top with grated Parmesan.

Honey Wheat Bread

4 - 5 c. unbleached flour
1 & 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2. sugar
2 packages active dry yeast
2 c. water
3/4 c. canola oil
3 TBS honey
2 eggs, beaten

In large bowl, combine 3 c. unbleached flour, 1 c. whole wheat flour, sugar & yeast. Blend well.

In small saucepan, heat oil, water and honey until very warm (120 - 130 degrees). Add warm liquid & eggs to flour mixture; blend at low speed with electric mixture until moistened. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed. By hand, stir in remaining whole wheat flour & enough unbleached flour to make a stiff dough.

On floured surface, knead in 1/2 to 1 c. unbleached flour until dough is smooth & elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl; cover loosely with greased plastic wrap & cloth towel. Let rise in warm place until light & doubled in size, about 45-60 minutes.

Punch dough down several times to remove all air bubbles. Shape into 2 loaves*; place each into greased loaf pan. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375. Uncover loaves and bake for 30 minutes or until light golden brown & "hollow" sounding when thumped. Remove from pans & cool on wire rack.

*For cloverleaf rolls, grease 36 muffin cups. Divide dough into 36 pieces; divide each piece into thirds. Shape each third into a ball. Place 3 balls into each greased muffin cup. Let rise & bake for 12-16 minutes, until light golden. Remove from pans immediately & cool on wire rack.

Herbed Oatmeal Bread

1 c. water
1/2 c. uncoaked oatmeal
1 & 1/2 TBS butter
2 c. unbleached flour
1/8 c. sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1 egg yolk

Herb Cheese Topping*:
2 tsp grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
3 TBS butter, melted

Grease 8x8 inch baking pan (glass work best).

Bring water to a boil in medium saucepan; stir in oatmeal. Remove from heat; stir in 1 & 1/2 TBS butter. Cool to 120-130 degrees.

In large bowl, combine 3/4 c. flour, sugar and yeast. Blend well. Add oat mixture & egg mixture. By hand, stir well, until moistened. Beat for 3 minutes. Stir in 1 c. flour to form stiff dough.

On lightly floured surface, knead in 1/4 - 1/2 c. flour until dough is smooth & elastic, about 5 minutes. Shape dough into ball; cover with inverted large bowl. Let rest 15 minutes. Punch down dough several times to remove all air bubbles. Press into greased pan. Using very sharp knife. cut diagonal lines 1&1/2 inches apart through dough. Repeat in opposite direction, creating diamond pattern. Cover loosely with grased plastic wrap & cloth towel. Let rise in warm place until light & doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375. Uncover dough. Redefine cuts by poking tip of knife hits bottom of pan; do NOT pull knife through dough. In small bowl, combine Parmesan, basil, oregano & garlic. Set aside. Spoon 2 TBS melted butter over the cut dough. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Brush remaining butter over partially baked bread. Sprinkle with Parmesan-herb mixture. Bake for an additional 15 minutes until golden brown.

Serve warm or cool.

*Topping is optional. Omit or substitute as desired.

Bulgar Wheat Bread

3/4 c. water
1/2 c. bulgar wheat

2 & 1/4 - 2 & 1/2 c. unbleached flour
2 TBS brown sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1 c. water heated to 120-130 degrees
1/4 c. canola oil
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp water

Grease baking sheet.

Bring 3/4 c. water to boil in small saucepan; remove from heat & imediately stir in bulgar wheat. Let stand 20-25 minutes until all water is absorbed.

In large bowl, combine 1 c. unbleached flour, brown sugar, yeast and 1 c. heated water. Stir by hand until moistened. Beat (a bit more "oomph" than stir) for 3 minutes. Stir in bulgar mixture, whole wheat flour & additional 1 c. unbleached flour to form a stiff dough.

On floured surface, knead in 1/4 - 1/2 c. unbleached flour until dough is elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl, punch down & flip greased side up. Cover loosely with greased plasitc wrap & cloth towel. Let rise in warm place until light & doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Punch down dough several times to remove all air bubbles. Shape into round loaf. Place on greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise in warm place until light and almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375.

Uncover dough. With a very sharp knife, cut a 1/2 inch deep X across the top of the loaf. Bake at 375 for 25-35 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack to cool.

Jeweled Cranberry Sauce

12 oz package fresh cranberries, rinsed & drained
1 to 1 & 1/2 c. sugar (based on your desired sweetness)
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. orange juice
1/2 tsp vanilla

*Optional: add 1/4 tsp cinnamon & 1/4 c. small walnut pieces before baking

Preheat oven to 350.

Arrange cranberries evenly in glass 10x8 baking dish.

Combine sugar, water and orange juice in small bowl; mix well until sugar dissolves. Pour over cranberries.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until juice thickens & cranberries are glazed. Remove from oven to wire rack & cool. The sauce thickens up quite a bit once it is cooled completely. Serve warm or cold.

Pumpkin Pie

Pastry for Single-Crust Pie*

2 large eggs
1 - 15 oz can pure pumpkin
1/4 c. sugar
1 & 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 can (12 oz) non-fat evaporated milk

Roll out pie crust & line deep 9 inch glass pie plate.

Preheat oven to 425.

In large mixer bowl, beat eggs until light. Add pumpkin, sugar & spices. Mix well. With mixer running, gradually pour in evaporated milk. Mix until well combined.

Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375 and bake 40-50 minutes more until knife inserted in center tests clean. Remove to wire rack.

Refrigerate any leftovers.

*See "Pastry Pie Crust" recipe.

Fresh Pear Crumble Pie

Pastry for Single Crust Pie*

1/2 c. sugar
2 TBS unbleached flour
1 tsp fresh grated lemon peel

5 c. peeled ripe Bartlett pears, sliced thin (about 2.5 lbs)
3 TBS fresh lemon juice

1/2 c. unbleached flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c. butter, softened

Roll out pie crust, line deep 9 inch pie dish & place in refrigerator while you prepare the pear & crumble mixtures.

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine 1/2 c. sugar, 2 TBS flour and lemon peel in small bowl. In large non-metal bowl, combine pears & lemon juice. Add sugar mixture to pears & toss to coat.

In a small bowl, combine the 1/2 c. flour, 1/2 c. sugar, ginger & cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Pour pear mixture into unbaked pie crust, spreading evenly. Sprinkle crumb mixture over pears. Cover edge of pie crust with foil.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil from edges. Bake for 25-30 minutes more or until pie is bubbly & crust is golden.

Remove to wire rack & allow to cool slightly before serving.

*See "Pastry Pie Crust" recipe.

Pastry Pie Crust

2 c. unbleached flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 & 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 lb butter (2 sticks), softened

1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp white vinegar
water

In large bowl, combine all dry ingredients; stir gently to blend. Cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 forks until well blended.

Whisk egg in glass measuring cup. Add vinegar & stir to blend. Add just enough water to make 2/3 cup liquid. Mix well.

Make well in center of flour mixture. Pour in egg mixture. Stir gently until well blended. You may need to abandon the forks & use you hand to mix it thoroughly. The dough will be slightly wet, but should not be soggy or sticky. Add a bit of flour if necessary.

Divide dough into 2 balls; flatten each into a disc. Place on sheet of plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Spread a piece of wax paper on counter. Lightly flour. Turn out dough onto flour & coat evenly. Place another sheet of wax paper on top & roll to desired thickness. Keeping top sheet of wax paper in place, gently fold in half (lifting gently off bottom piece of wax paper), then in quarters. Place in center of 9 inch glass pie dish & unfold crust gently. Lift off wax paper. Trim to fit & pinch into shape.

Fill & bake.

Pico de Gallo (Salsa Fresca)

2 large, ripe tomatoes (or 5 nice Romas), seeded & diced
4 green onions, chopped
1 large banana pepper, seeded & chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded & chopped
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 TBS cider vinegar
salt & fresh ground pepper to tase

Combine all salsa ingredients in non-metal bowl. Cover & refrigerate for several hours to blend flavors.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Corn and Black Bean Salsa

1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 c. cooked sweet corn
3 medium ripe tomatoes (or 5 Roma), diced
1 clove garlic, minced
5 green onions, diced
1 large banana pepper, seeded & diced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded & diced
1 TBS cider vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in non-metal bowl. Cover tightly & refrigerate several hours to allow flavors to blend.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

"Divine" Angel Hair Pasta

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 - 1.25 lbs), sliced into "fajita" size strips (bite size)*
olive oil

3 green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 c. baby carrots, sliced into thin strips
1 small yellow "gooseneck" summer squash, sliced into thin rounds, then half moons
1 small zucchini, sliced into thin rounds, then half moons

1 & 1/4 c. organic chicken broth, warm (or water with soup base)
1/4 c. Mirin (sweetened Japanese rice wine for cooking) or Sauvignon Blanc**
1 TBS cornstarch
juice of 1 lemon

1 - 16 oz. package Capellini (Angel Hair) pasta - cooked to package instructions

Heat 2 TBS olive oil in large skillet on medium high. When hot, add chicken & cook until no longer pink.

Add all vegetables & stir fry until crisp tender.

Mix chicken broth & Mirin, blend in cornstarch. Mix until smooth. Add to chicken/vegetable mixture along with the juice of one lemon. Stir gently, but thoroughly, until sauce thickens.

Serve immediately over warm pasta.

*I have substituted 1 c. of small cooked shrimp for the chicken with excellent results!

**If you don't have Mirin or wine, just increase the amount of broth. This changes the taste a little, but won't get you in trouble with the Dorm police!

Lime Cilantro Rice

1 & 1/2 c. brown* rice
3 & 1/2 c. water
1 tsp. good vegetable or chicken soup base/bouillon
1 clove garlic, minced

1 small lime, cut in half
1/8 - 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

In large saucepan, combine rice & water. Heat over medium high to boiling. Quickly stir in soup base. Cover & reduce heat to simmer. Cook 35 - 45 minutes, until all liquid is just absorbed.

Fluff rice with fork. Squeeze lime juice over rice, add cilantro to taste. Stir well to combine. Let stand at least 5 minutes.

*You can substitute long grain white, basmati or jasmine rice. Adjust liquid & cooking time according to package directions.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. light brown sugar
1 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1 c. peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1 & 1/2 c. flour

Preheat oven to 375.

Cream butter and sugars until light. Add eggs, peanut butter & vanilla. Blend until smooth. Add flour & baking soda. Mix well.

Scoop spoonful of dough, roll with hands into ball. Place on non-stick cookie sheet. Press with fork to flatten. Bake for 9 - 10 minutes until light golden. Loosen gently while hot & carefully place on rack to cool.

Oatmeal Cookies (Versatile)

1 & 1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 c. butter (2 sticks), softened
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 TBS. milk
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 c. quick oatmeal

In large mixer, cream sugars & butter until light.

In small bowl, beat eggs with fork. Stir in vanilla & milk until smooth. Add to sugar/butter mix and beat until smooth.

Add flour, baking soda and baking powder; beat on medium until smooth. Stir in oatmeal until well blended.

Plunk onto plastic wrap & wrap, wrap tightly & refrigerate at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350. Drop rounded spoonfuls of cookie dough onto non-stick cookie sheet. Bake 11 minutes, until light brown. allow to cool on pan for one minute. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Optional: Add a bag of butterscotch chips with oatmeal for Oatmeal Scotchies! Or add 1 c. raisins with oatmeal & 1 tsp. cinnamon with dry ingredients for great Oatmeal Raisin cookies!

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Jackpot Cookies)

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 & 1/2 c. unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 c. uncooked oatmeal
12 oz. chocolate chips

In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon; blend well.

Cream butter in large mixing bowl at medium speed. Add sugars slowly, beating until creamy. Add eggs & vanilla; beat well.

Add dry ingredients in three batches, blending well each time.

Stir in oatmeal & chocolate chips.

Plop mixture onto plastic wrap & wrap up tightly. Refrigerate at least 1.5 hours, or up to 5 hours. This is important in order for cookies to be their best!!!!

Preheat oven to 350.

Drop cookie dough by rounded spoonfuls onto non-stick cookie pan about 2 inches apart. (I use a spring action melon baller to get a consistent size & shape.) Bake for 12-14 minutes, until light golden. Remove to rack to cool.

Store tightly covered. The cookies freeze well too.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Chicken Enchiladas

2 c. cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
oregano
crushed red pepper
5 green onions, chopped
2 c. shredded cheddar + 1 - 2 c. more for topping

1 large can good enchilada sauce (mild to hot, your choice)

tortillas

Preheat oven to 350.

In large bowl, combine chicken, 1/2 tsp. oregano, a dash of crushed red pepper (or more to taste), green onions & cheese.

In tortilla size skillet, pour in about 1 c. of the enchi sauce & about 1/4 c. water to thin. Heat over medium until it just reaches a simmer. Using tongs or fork, gently set a tortilla in the sauce, pushing down to coat well. Flip tortilla to coat completely. Remove to a dinner plate, repeat with 3 more tortillas, stacking one on top of the other.

Working quickly, scoop 1/4 - 1/2 c. chicken mixture onto center of tortilla. Roll up gently, & place in 9x13 Corningware. Repeat with remaining sauced tortillas, gently packing the enchis together.

Repeat with 4 more tortillas, creating a single layer of enchiladas lengthwise in the Corning.

Repeat with additional tortillas until all chicken mixture is used up, usually 10 - 12 enchis depending on how "hearty" you make them. Place some enchis on the side to fill in the spaces.

Spoon remaining sauce from can over the enchis in the Corning, covering well. The tortillas should be coated, but not "swimming" in sauce. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, using as much as you would like. I prefer about 1 c. over the top, but you may like them cheesier.

Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, allowing cheese to melt.

Remove from oven & let sit about 5 minutes.

Dish out carefully with spatula.

Serve with Mexican Rice & Smashed Beans.

Herbed Buttermilk Stroganoff

1.25 - 1.5 lb. lean beef, cut into thin strips (I use sirloin or top round)
olive oil
1 onion, quartered & cut into thin slices

1 & 1/2 c. organic beef broth (or water & good soup base), warmed
1 tsp. thyme
fresh ground pepper
1 - 8 oz. can tomato sauce

1 c. 1% milk
1 TBS white vinegar
3 TBS flour

Heat oil in large skillet over medium. Add beef & brown. When no longer pink, add onions & cook 4 minutes more, stirring often.

Combine broth, thyme, pepper & tomato sauce. Pour over beef; stir well to combine; bring to simmer. Cover & simmer for at least 1.5 hours.

In measuring cup, combine milk & vinegar & let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk in flour, making sure to smush out all lumps.

Bring beef mixture just to boil & pour in milk mixture, stir well. Heat sauce through until thick & bubbly, stirring constantly. Reduce heat & simmer for 5 additional minutes.

Serve over hot egg noodles.*

*Cook 2/3 package wide egg noodles according to package directions.

Lemon Bread

2 c. unbleached flour
1 & 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 & 1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. canola oil
3 large eggs
3 TBS fresh grated lemon peel
3/4 c. toasted hazelnuts, finely ground
3/4 c. 1 % milk

1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Butter & flour 2 large loaf pans, or 5 small ones.

In small bowl, combine flour & baking powder.

In large mixing bowl, combine sugar, oil, eggs & lemon peel. Beat mixture for 2 minutes on medium. Stir in nuts. Mix in dry ingredients & milk alternately in 2 batches each. (Flour mixture, beat, milk, beat, repeat.)

Divide batter evenly between pans. Bake until very light golden & tester comes out clean, about one hour for large loaves, 30 - 35 minutes for small. Remove from oven.

Prepare glaze. Stir lemon juice & sugar together in small bowl until all sugar dissolves.

Run sharp knife around edges of bread to loosen from pans. Brush generously with glaze, allowing glaze to run down the sides. Repeat until all glaze is applied.

Cool completely.

Turn out loaves. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap & refrigerate. They also freeze well for later use.

Banana Nut Bread

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. mashed bananas (2 - 3 ripe, but not over-ripe)
2 c. unbleached flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350.

Thoroughly grease 1 large loaf pan, or 4 small pans, or line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In large mixing bowl, cream butter & sugar on medium speed. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Blend in banana. Gently stir in flour & baking powder, do not overbeat. Fold in nuts.

Gently spoon into pan. (Or pans, or muffin cups.)

Bake large loaf for 1 hour, small loaves for 25 - 30 minutes, or muffins for 18 minutes. Bread should be light golden brown & center should test clean. Do not over bake, or you will have delicious but crumbly results!

Remove from pans immediately & cool on wire rack. Store tightly covered/wrapped in fridge or freeze for later use.

Split Pea Soup ("Green Soup")

8 c. organic chicken broth (or water with good quality soup base)
1 package green split peas, rinsed & drained
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
marjoram
parsley
fresh ground pepper

3 large baking potatoes, peeled & diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1.5 c. baby carrots, sliced thin

Heat broth in 4 quart saucepan over medium to simmer. Add split peas, onion & garlic. Stir in 1 tsp each of marjoram & parsley & pepper to taste. Bring to boil, cover & reduce heat to gentle simmer. Simmer for one hour, stirring every so often.

Add potatoes & carrots & return soup to simmer. Be sure to stir as the soup thickens to prevent scorching. Simmer for another 1.5 hours.

Serve with warm corn muffins.

*Add 1 c. diced ham for extra protein & flavor.

Corn Muffins (or Bread)

1 & 1/4 c. unbleached flour
3/4 c. yellow cornmeal
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. milk
1/4 c. canola oil (sunflower or safflower oil can be used too)
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400.

Generously grease a "1 dozen" count muffin pan*.

Combine all dry ingredients, stirring gently. Make a well in the center. Stir in milk, oil & egg, mixing until everything is just moistened. Spoon into muffin cup, filling 2/3 full. Bake 18 minutes until just light golden brown. Remove from oven, run a butter knife around the edge of each muffin & remove to baking rack to cool slightly. Serve warm with dinner, or grab in the morning on your way out the door.

*Or use 8x8 inch pan for corn bread. Bake 20 minutes until center tests clean.

Mexican Pork Stew

1.25 - 1.5 lbs. lean pork, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I use pork tenderloin or boneless pork chops)
olive oil

2 banana peppers, seeds removed, sliced thin lengthwise, then in 1/2 again
2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed, sliced thin lengthwise
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch green onions (5 or 6), sliced

1 can diced tomatoes
1 - 16 oz. can tomato sauce
1/ 4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
fresh ground pepper, to taste

1 lb. small red potatoes, scrubbed & cut into quarters
1. c. frozen corn
(optional: 1 can black beans, rinsed & drained)


Heat 2 TBS oil in large skillet; add pork and cook until golden on the outside (& no longer pink in the center), stirring often. Stir in peppers, garlic & onion; cook an additional 4 minutes, stirring often. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce & seasonings; bring to a simmer. Stir in potatoes, corn & black beans. Reduce heat to low simmer & cook for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally, adding a bit of water if necessary.

Serving options abound with this one! It is great on its own, over Mexican Rice, or used for Pork Tacos*. I am going to try a batch of Cilantro Lime Quinoa this week & will post the recipe if it works out.

*For Pork Tacos, use a slotted spoon to plunk a good 1/4 c. in a warm tortilla. Top with a little shredded lettuce if desired, & serve with Mexican Rice & Smashed Beans (see recipes).

Mexican Rice

2 TBS olive oil
1 & 1/2 c. long grain white rice
3 green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
(Optional: 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables)

3 & 1/2 c. water
1 tsp. good chicken soup base
1 tsp. oregano

In large saucepan, heat water to boil. Add soup base & oregano. Stir to combine. Remove from heat.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium. When hot, add rice, stir to coat, & smooth to form even layer for cooking. Stir often until rice begins to turn a light golden brown. Be careful not to scorch or burn it! When rice is browned, quickly stir in all vegetables.. Saute for 3 - 4 minutes, stirring often.

Meanwhile, return liquid to heat, bringing to boil. Add rice mixture; immediately reduce to simmer and cover. Simmer for 18 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Fluff with fork.

Oven Beef Stew

1.25 - 1.5 good grade beef, cut into 1/2 inch chunks, all fat removed (I usually grab a nice sirloin)
olive oil

1/3 c. flour
1 can diced tomatoes
2 c. warm beef broth (or 2 c. water & good quality soup base)
marjoram
fresh ground pepper

5 - 6 good size baking potatoes, peeled & cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 - 2 c. baby carrots
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large onion, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 330.

Warm beef broth in microwave & add 1 tsp. marjoram and fresh ground pepper.

In large ovenproof skillet or Dutch Oven, heat 2 TBS oil. Add beef & brown thoroughly. Sprinkle with flour & stir to coat evenly. Stir in canned tomatoes with all liquid & broth with seasonings. Stir gently & allow to come to slight simmer. Add all vegetables & stir well, adding more liquid is necessary to cover. Bring to simmer.

Place in oven and allow to cook for 2.5 hours, stirring every so often, adding a bit of liquid if needed.

Serve with crusty baguette or Honey Wheat Bread.*

*See recipe.

Chocolate Raspberry Spread

5 c. fully ripe red raspberries (about 4 pints), washed & drained
7 c. sugar
1 box fruit pectin
5 squares best quality unsweetened chocolate
1/2 tsp. butter

Thoroughly crush raspberries 1 c. at a time. Measure 5 c. into 6 qt. saucepan.

Wash 10* 8 oz. jam jars & matching lids & bands. Place lids in small saucepan, pour boiling water over & let stand until ready to fill jars. The hot water softens the rubber & helps create the seal.

Measure sugar into mixing bowl. Stir fruit pectin into fruit in saucepan. Add chocolate squares and butter. Bring mixture to a full and rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Quickly stir in all sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with a metal spoon.

Quickly ladle into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of top.** Carefully wipe jar rims & threads. Cover with two piece lid & band. Screw bands tightly. Invert jars for 5 minutes, turn turn upright.

After jars are cool, check seals.

Allow at least one week for the spread to set properly.

This spread is wonderful over warm brownies, ice cream or simple scones (the chocolate chip ones too!)

*Recipe makes 8 - 10 jars.

**Seal only jars that are completely full. Store any extra spread in the refrigerator & eat within one week.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lemon Bars

Crust:
2 c. unbleached flour
1/2 c. sugar
2/3 c. butter, softened (10 & 2/3 TBS)

Filling:
1 c. sugar
4 eggs
4 TBS. unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking powder
4 TBS. fresh grated lemon peel
4 TBS. fresh lemon juice

powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350.

For crust, combine all "crust" ingredients in small mixer bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping sides down often, until the mixture resembles fine sand, 1 - 2 minutes. Press evenly on bottom of ungreased 9x13 baking pan. Bake for 14 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.

For filling: in same mixer bowl, combine all filling ingredients. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Increase speed to medium & beat for 2 minutes, scraping sides often. Pour over hot crust. Place pan back in oven & continue to bake for 16 minutes, or until edges are lightly brown.

Remove to cooling rack. Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so. Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar. Cut into bars. Refrigerate any uneaten bars.

Note: These bars pair well with fresh strawberries & cream!!! Or raspberries. Or blueberries too!

New Red Potatoes

1.5 - 2 lbs. small "new" red potatoes*, scrubbed & cut into quarters

water to fill 2 inches of large saucepan

Optional:
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 TBS. butter
1 TBS. parsley flakes (fresh is best)

Fill large saucepan with water to about 2 inches. Heat over medium until water just reaches a slight simmer. Add potatoes (and garlic if desired). Cover & simmer potatoes for 20 minutes, watching carefully so they don't boil over.

Pour off water.

If serving as plain side dish, add butter & parsley & toss gently to coat.

If serving with a sauce or gravy, as with Lemon-Thyme Pork Medallions, just a light dash of salt will do.

*If New potatoes are not available, you can substitute red salad potatoes. Just cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

Pork Medallions in Lemon-Thyme Sauce

.85 - 1 lb. pork tenderloin, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dried thyme (fresh is nicer if you can get it, use less)
fresh ground pepper

1 c. warm chicken broth (or 1 c. water & good soup base)
1 TBS. cornstarch
juice of 1 lemon (2 - 3 TBS.)

In large non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. When hot, add the pork in a single layer and sprinkle with the thyme & pepper.

Saute 2 minutes, then turn over & saute until cooked through, 2 - 3 minutes more.

Warm chicken broth in microwave using heat-proof measuring cup. Add the cornstarch & stir until smooth.

Pour the broth into the skillet with the lemon juice; stir gently. Simmer until slightly thickened & heated through, 2 - 3 minutes.

Serve with baby red potatoes. (I'll get that recipe up here too.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Scrambled Eggs

3 large eggs
1/4 c. milk
2 green onions (scallions), finely chopped
1/4 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. parsley flakes
fresh ground pepper

olive oil

shredded cheddar

In small bowl, whisk eggs until light & frothy. Add milk, onions, garlic, parsley & pepper. Mix well.

Heat 1 - 2 TBS olive oil in skillet on medium high . When hot, give egg mixture one last good whisk & pour into skillet. Let cook until sides begin to set. Fold gently from the outide in, allowing egg mixture to find dry pan area to cook on. Continue to fold in, creating nice size chunks of scrambled egg. Cook to desired dryness. (Brown them if cooking for dad!)

Sprinkle cheese over & allow to melt.

Serve on tortillas with Pace & Breakfast Potatoes, or with a nice side of toast, or pancakes.

*Also good with a bit of chopped tomato, green or red pepper, &/or ham mixed in when you add the milk mixture.

Steak Fajitas

1 -1.25 lb. nice looking steak (top, sirloin, etc), sliced against grain into fajita-size pieces
1 lime, halved
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 green pepper (or red for color), sliced
1 onion, sliced
olive oil

chopped tomatoes
sliced fresh jalapenos
lettuce
shredded cheddar cheese

tortillas

Mix steak pieces & garlic in non-metal mixing bowl. Squeeze lime juice over meat and blend well with hands. Cover with plastic wrap & refrigerate for a couple hours.

Heat 1 - 2 TBS olive oil in skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add peppers & onion & saute until heated but still crisp. Remove to bowl & cover to keep warm.

Pour marinade off steak & add meat to hot skillet. Cook through to desired "pinkness".

Warm tortillas.

Serve with compliments.

*Note: Slice veggies before meat to avoid having to repeatedly wash cutting board & knife.

Shepherd's Pie

*Note: Absolutely no shepherds were hurt in the creation of this dish!

1 - 1.25 lb. ground sirloin (see >15% fat note I keep repeating!!)
1 small onion, chopped
1 c. warm beef broth (organic, or 1 c. water & good quality soup base)
fresh ground pepper
thyme

4 - 5 good size russet baking potatoes, scrubbed & cut small (Leave the peel on, you need your vitamins!)
shredded cheddar

1 bag frozen mixed vegetables

Preheat oven to 350.

I'm lazy here, see post for "Taco Potatoes" & prepare potatoes the same way.

Warm beef broth in microwave, adding sprinkle of pepper & 1/2 - 1 tsp. Thyme (to taste) when done.

Cook vegetables according to bag directions.

In large fry pan, brown ground beef, breaking up & turning often. When almost done, add onion & cook until translucent. Put meat mixture into bottom of Corningware, spreading evenly. Cover with beef broth. Drain vegetables well & layer over meat.

When potatoes are tender, pour off most of the liquid (if you are still following the Taco Potato recipe like I told you) & mash. Add a bit of milk if necessary to make a nice smooth mash. Add 1/2 - 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese & smash in well. Layer the potatoes evenly over the veggies.

Pop in the oven for 20 minutes. Clean up mess while it bakes.

Remove from oven & let stand about 5 minutes.

Serve with a crusty baguette & a nice mixed green salad.

Blueberry Muffins (Just for Maven!)

1 & 3/4 c. unbleached flour
2/3 . sugar
1 TBS. baking powder
6 TBS butter (3/4 stick)
1 egg
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. blueberries (fresh or frozen)*

Preheat oven to 400. Line a dozen muffin cups with papers.

In large bowl, mix flour, sugar & baking powder. Cut butter into small chunks & blend in with pastry blender (or 2 knives, or a fork, or just use your fingers) until mixture resembles fine crumbs.

In small bowl, beat egg, milk and vanilla until blended.

Form well in center of flour mixture & pour in egg mixture. Stir gently until flour is moistened. (Batter will be lumpy.)

Fold blueberries into batter.

Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling 2/3 full.

Bake 18 minutes or so until muffins are just light golden & tester comes out clean. Do not over bake or they get crumbly. (Still tasty, but they make a mess.) Immediately remove muffins from pan & cool on wire rack. Resist urge to pop hot muffins in mouth, as hot blueberries can do serious damage!

*Raspberries are a rather tasty substitute! If using frozen berries, do not thaw.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Red Beans & Rice (Fast & Easy with Variations)

3 & 1/2 c. water
1 & 1/2 c. white rice
1 small onion, chopped
1 can red beans, rinsed & drained
1 can Hunts "Family Favorites" Seasoned Diced Tomato Sauce for Chili

Combine all ingredients in large saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Cover. Reduce heat to VERY gentle simmer. Cook until all liquid is absorbed, 30-35 minutes, stirring often to avoid scorching.

Variations:
For a little more spice & flavor, add cooked Cajun sausage, cut into bite size pieces, in last 5 minutes of cooking.

For quick & easy Jambalaya, add 1 green pepper, chopped and 1 stalk celery diced to initial ingredients, and 1.5 c. cooked cubed chicken in last 5 minutes .

Roasted Garlic Potato Soup

6 medium potatoes, peeled & cubed
2 Tablespoons oil
½ teaspoon pepper
6 cloves garlic, peeled & cut in half lengthwise

1 medium onion
2 carrots & 2 stalks celery, diced

4 c. chicken broth
1 c. water

1 c. milk

Preheat oven to 425. Place potatoes in shallow pan. Drizzle with 1 TBS oil. Sprinkle with pepper. Stir to coat. Bake, uncovered, 25 minutes. Turn, toss in garlic. Bake 20 minutes more, or until potatoes lightly brown.

When garlic is added to potatoes, start the broth mixture. In 4-quart saucepan, heat remaining oil. Cook onion over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in broth and water. When mixture comes to a simmer, add carrots & celery. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Add potatoes & garlic; simmer, covered, for 20 minutes more, or until all vegetables are very tender.

Set aside 1 c. of cooked potatoes, carrots & celery. Spoon half of soup mixture into blender; puree. Repeat with remaining soup. Return to saucepan.

Stir in milk. Add reserved vegetables. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Heat through. Ladle into bowls. Top with grated cheddar cheese if desired.

Chocolate Chip Scones

2 & 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 TBS baking powder
8 TBS (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
1/4 c. granulated sugar (use 1/3 c for slightly sweeter scones)
3/4 c. milk
2/3 c. mini chocolate chips

Heat oven to 425. Put flour & baking powder into large bowl; stir to mix well.

Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender until the mixture looks like fine granules. Add sugar, toss to mix.

Add mini chocolate chips, tossing to blend.

Add milk and stir with a fork until a soft dough forms. Form dough into a ball, put on lightly floured board, and give 10 to 12 kneads.

To make triangular scones, cut dough in thirds. Knead each lightly into a ball and turn smooth side up. Pat into a 6 inch circle, cut into 6 wedges. Place on ungreased cookie sheet-slightly apart for crisp sides, touching for soft sides.

Bake 10 minutes. Put on a linen cloth or cotton dish towel on a wire rack; cover loosely with the cloth and cool completely.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

1– 16 oz can pumpkin
2 c. flour
2 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp. Baking soda
2 tsp. Cinnamon, ½ tsp. Cloves, ½ tsp. Nutmeg
1 ½ - 2 c. sugar
1 c. oil
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 2*- 9x13 pans. Add all ingredients to electric mixer bowl. Mix until well combined. Divide evenly in pans. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool before icing.

*Also makes one 9x13 cake. Bake for 22 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

3 c. powdered sugar + an additional 1–2 c.
8 oz package cream cheese, softened
2 TBS butter, melted
1 tsp. Vanilla

Combine all ingredients in large electric mixer bowl; beat until smooth. Add additional 1–2 c. powdered sugar until icing reaches desired consistency.

Chicken Noodle in a Dish (I didn't name this one!)

1 & 1/2 - 2 c. cubed cooked chicken*

1 bag frozen mixed vegetables

wide egg noodles

1/4 c. butter
1/3 c. flour
fresh ground pepper
14 oz. warm chicken broth** (see below)
1 c. milk

Cook mixed veggies according to package directions (yes, I'm taking the easy way out). When done, drain well & combine with cooked chicken in Corningware. (I will avoid the use of the banned term "casserole" to avoid any perceived trauma.)

Rinse & dry veggie pot.

Read noodle directions on package. Bring 4 c. water to boil & add noodles (about 3/4 package). Stir occassionally, be careful not to let boil over. Cook 10 minutes or until tender/al dente.

Meanwhile, melt butter over medium heat. When melted, quickly stir in flour & pepper to form a roux. (A French word meaning "pasty substance".) Quickly stir in warm chicken broth, mixing until smooth. Stir in milk. Stir constantly over medium heat until sauce thickens. Do NOT allow to boil or it gets really lumpy, and that's not good.

Drain noodles well & add to veggies & chicken. Stir to mix. Pour sauce over & stir well. Allow to sit just a little to incorporate flavors.

Dish up, season as needed. eat one serving & dish up another.

*See poached chicken breast recipe.

**Heat 14 oz. water in micro for about 3 minutes. Add 1 tsp. good bouillon mix. Or heat 14 oz. organic chicken broth.

Taco Potatoes/Salsa Spuds

1 - 1.25 lb. ground sirloin (again, the >15% fat rule)
3-4 large potatoes, scrubbed, cut lengthwise in 1/4, then into 1/4 inch slices
1 small onion, chopped
1 - 8 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 c. (at least) Pace Medium Picante sauce

shredded mild cheddar

Heat 3/4 - 1 c. water in large saucepan to simmer. Add cut potatoes. Cover & reduce heat to low simmer for 20-25 minutes or until very tender. (Watch closely so they don't boil over!)

Brown ground beef in saucepan on medium heat, breaking up & turning often. When almost brown, add onion & cook until translucent. Add can of tomato sauce and Pace. Add additional Pace if necessary. Cover & reduce heat to low simmer, stirring occasionally.

When potatoes are done, pour off most of the water. Mash well, adding a little milk if necessary.

To serve, plop a good sized scoop of potatoes on plate, top with meat mixture. Finish off with cheese. Accompany with cooked corn.

Note: The meat will freeze well to use another time on a tortilla or baked potato.

Brownies (Don't even THINK about buying a mix!)

2/3 c. cocoa
2/3 c. butter, melted (10 & 2/3 TBS)
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 & 1/2 c. flour (unbleached)
1 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350. Thoroughly grease 9x13 pan.

Melt butter in microwave (70 seconds in ours, adjust accordingly, avoid splatters with wax paper). Stir in cocoa until smooth.

Add sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mix well.

Add flour and baking powder, stirring until just well blended. Do not overmix or the texture gets weird.

Spread batter evenly in pan.

Sprinkle with mini M&Ms, nuts, mini chocolate chips, toffee pieces, etc if desired.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until center tests clean.

Cool on baking rack.

Store tightly covered. They dry our fast if they last more than 1 day!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mixed Green Salad

1 tub fresh mixed greens*
cherry tomatoes, halved

Newman's Own Light Balsamic Vinagrette Dressing

Optional:
sunflower seeds for extra protein
fresh mozzarella
shredded carrot
cucumber
hard boiled egg

*The tub will stay fresher longer than the bagged stuff. Use bagged blends within 5-6 days.

"Refried" Beans (Smashed Beans)

1 can Black or Pinto Beans, rinsed & drained

1 glove garlic, minced (or 1 tsp. dried minced)

olive oil

Add 2 TBS olive oil to saute pan; heat over medium heat. Toss in garlic & saute lightly. Add beans, smash with potato masher or large spoon. Heat thoroughly, stirring often. Do not allow to dry out. Serve immediately topped with shredded cheddar or mozzarella.

Chicken Quesadillas

1 cooked chicken breast, shredded or chopped
shredded mild cheddar cheese*

Optional: saute a small onion & some red pepper; cooked corn

Mix all ingredients.

Place about 1/4 c. of filling mixture on half of tortilla. Fold over, microwave briefly to warm. Place in preheated skillet. Cook on one side briefly, flip to other side to finish cooking.

Serve with "Smashed" Beans.

Spaghetti* with Meat Sauce

*For use with any shape of pasta your little heart desires.

1-1.25 lbs good grade ground sirloin (Or ground round, or "extra lean" ground beef. Should be 15% fat or less listed on the label.)

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic

(Optional, but mom would be happy: chopped zucchini, green pepper, carrot.)

Basil
Oregano
Parsley
Marjoram
Crushed red pepper

1 jar Classico Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce
1 can petite diced tomatoes

Brown ground beef in skillet over medium heat, turning & breaking up often. When meat is just about done, add chopped onion & garlic; cook until onion starts to become translucent. Add remaining vegetables to make mom happy. Stir to combine.

Add seasonings to taste. I use the "shake 1-2 tsp" of each EXCEPT crushed red pepper! Use only 1/4 tsp of pepper seeds to start. Use more the next time you make it if you want more fire!!! Blend into meat/veggie mixture.

Add tomatoes & jar of sauce. Stir well; reduce heat to low simmer & allow to cook for 45 minutes to one hour.

Cook desired pasta shape as directed. Serve with mixed green salad & a sprinkle of Parmesan.

The sauce freezes well. However, freeze the sauce only & cook up pasta fresh.

Chicken With a Carrot up its Butt

1 - 4 to 5 pound roasting (or frying) chicken (Fresh works best. Purchase & roast within 2 days.)

1 onion, cut into large chunks (halve, then each half into thirds width-wise, then in half lengthwise)
1 large clove garlic, cut into 6-8 pieces
8-10 baby carrots
1 stalk celery, cut into chunks

olive oil
thyme
rosemary
fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Line roasting pan with foil, place rack in center.

Thoroughly rinse chicken. (Hold under cold running water, don't set on anything!!) Let all excess water drip off. Place on rack, breast-side up. (Legs will be pointing up, with cavity wide open.)

Stuff cavity with veggies. Place a small piece of onion & small carrot in neck cavity. Insert finger up into neck, between skin & breast. Insert piece of garlic. Repeat on other side.

Shudder.

Wash hands well. Wash once more just for good measure.

Pour small amount of olive oil over chicken, blotting with paper towel to cover. Sprinkle liberally with thyme & pepper, use rosemary more sparingly.

Place in center of preheated oven, covering with "tent" of foil. Roast for one hour. Remove tent & continue roasting for 1 & 1/2 to 2 more hours until leg moves freely when wiggled & juices run clear when you stick a sharp pointy object in the breast meat.

Take out of oven & let stand for 5-10 minutes.

Admire your beautiful bird. (Take a picture & send it to mom.)

Carve carefully.

Use leftover meat within 3 days for chicken quesadillas, enchiladas, quick soup, etc.