Saturday, August 23, 2008

Chicken Enchiladas

2 c. cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
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)


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
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)
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

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

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

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
shredded cheddar cheese


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

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.

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

sunflower seeds for extra protein
fresh mozzarella
shredded carrot
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.)

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
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.


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.

Hard Boiled Eggs

Place eggs in saucepan. Cover with cold water.

Heat over medium to boiling.

Reduce to simmer, & cook for 11 minutes.

Immediately pour off water & run cold water over the eggs to stop them from cooking. (Read with "Clue" inflection.)

Let stand in cold water for at least 15 minutes.

Refrigerate for up to one week.

Crack, peel, salt (& pepper if desired) & eat.

Jasmine Rice (basic)

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

Combine rice and water in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Stir. Cover. Reduce heat to simmer; simmer 14-17 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat.

*serves 2, recipe easily doubles, time remains the same

Penne Pasta Rustica (Pasta with sausage, peppers & onions.)

1 - 1 lb package Italian sausage (mild or hot, your choice)
1 jar Classico Tomato Basil pasta sauce
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 small green pepper, sliced
1 small onion, halved & sliced
1 package penne pasta

Place sausage in skillet, add 1/4 c. water. Cook over medium heat, simmer 'til water is gone. Brown slowly, turning once midway through.

Meanwhile, combine pasta sauce, tomatoes, green peppers & onions. Simmer over medium low heat while sausage cooks.

Slice cooked sausage into 1/2 inch pieces and add to sauce. Simmer while pasta cooks.

Serve with grated Parmesan & a nice mixed green salad.

Pork Tenderloin (Yes, Alec's is better!)

Pork tenderloin, between .85 & .97 lb. (adjust time for smaller cut)

minced garlic
freshly ground pepper

(Select your seasoning to suit your mood.)

Preheat oven to 350.

Line pan with foil so you don't have to scrub later.

Add little rack.

Place pork tenderloin in center of rack, folding in thin end if necessary to create even thickness for cooking.

Season generously with garlic & pepper (or ???).

Bake for one hour. Let set about 5 minutes before cutting to serve.

Rice Pilaf (adaptable)

2 & 1/2 c. organic broth (vegetable or chicken)*
1 c. rice blend (brown/texmati/wild/wheat berry etc)
1/4 c. petite green peas (frozen)
1/4 c. baby carrots, thinly sliced
3 green onions, chopped (or one very small white onion)

Optional: 1/2 c. red or brown lentils

Combine all ingredients in 2.5 qt saucepan. Bring to boil over medium high heat. Cover; reduce heat to medium low and simmer 35-45 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.

Note: Do not cook over too high a heat, or rice will still be crunchy when all the liquid is gone.

*Or use 2 & 1/2 c. water and add 1 tsp. good soup base/bouillon blend when water comes to a boil.

Adapt broth & vegetables to compliment main dish.

Best Pancakes Ever!!! (Don't forget the vanilla!)

2 eggs
1 & 3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. oil
1 tsp. vanilla

1 & 3/4 c. flour
2 TBS. sugar
4 TBS. baking powder

Whisk eggs 'til frothy & light. Stir in milk, oil & vanilla, mixing well. Add flour, sugar & baking powder. Stir until smooth & most lumps have disappeared. Do not over do it.

Allow batter to "proof" while the griddle heats up. Set non-stick griddle or electric fry pan to 350., waiting 'til fully heated before adding batter.

Pour in 1/4 c. batter, allowing room to spread. Wait until batter forms bubbles that rise to the surface and burst. Gently flip pancake and allow to brown to a light golden. Flip onto plate. ("Flap" onto plate if making "flapjacks".)

If desired, add blueberries or mini chocolate chips to batter before proofing.

Pile on plate, pour on syrup, add sausage on side if desired.

Don't forget a nice side of strawberries, orange slices or banana.


Repeat as needed.