Sunday, December 30, 2007

Spiced Up Pancakes

When making regular old pancakes, add a dash of ginger, cinnamon or cloves to the mix (not all three at once). It gives the batter a little kick and makes for some really exotic and tasty cakes!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sweet Carrot Slaw

1 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup maple syrup, preferably dark amber or grade B

1/3 cup white vinegar

2 teaspoons dried sweet basil or 1 tablespoon fresh opal basil

¼ cup diced onion

2 pounds carrots, peeled, shredded, and chilled

½ cups sliced scallions, including greens

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Slat and freshly ground pepper to taste

To Make the Dressing

  1. Combine the vegetable oil, maple syrup, vinegar, basil, and onion in a blender, about 5 to 8 seconds. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using (see Note).

To Make the Slaw

  1. In a large bowl, toss the shredded carrots, scallions, parsley, and vinaigrette until well blended. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve chilled.

Serves 6 to 8

Note: The dressing may be made the day ahead; however, the salad is best served the day it is made.

This is another traditional Shaker recipe that Julie busted out for Thanksgiving dinner. It's so good I almost licked my plate clean. Instead I put my fork down and demanded that she send me the recipe.

Baked Onion and Apple Cider Soup with Smoked Cheddar Cheese

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

5 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced

4 cups beef stock

4 cups fresh apple cider

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

8 slices of French bread 1/8 thick

8 thin slices of Gruyere cheese

3 to 4 cups grated smoked cheddar cheese

1. In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook until well browned, about 15 minutes. Taking care not to burn them. Add the stock, cider, and thyme, bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the soup for 1 ½ hours. Skim the top of the soup periodically.

2. Season the soup with salt and pepper.

3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put oven proof soup crocks in a large roasting pan and fill the crocks with the hot soup. Pour hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the crocks. Top each crock with a slice of bread, a slice of Gruyere cheese, and 1/3 to ½ cup grated smoked Cheddar cheese. Bake until hot and bubbly.

Notes: I haven't made this yet, but my foodie friend, Julie has and it's fabulous. This is a traditional Shaker recipe that she served at her Thanksgiving dinner. I was lucky enough to partake of the leftovers a few days later. Trust me, this stuff is excellent.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Mary's Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 c. butter

1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp cream of Tartar

Mix the sugar and the butter. Add the egg and the vanilla. Mix in the flour, soda and cream of Tartar.

Chill 2-3 hours. Use flour to coat hands before forming into 1" balls.

Flatten with sugared glass bottom and sprinkle with colored sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees 4 1/2 minutes tops. Cool before removing.

Notes: I have no idea who Mary is, it's just what we've always called these cookies.

This is a very simple recipe. What I always do is put the sugar into the mixing bowl while the butter softens in the microwave, and then put the egg and vanilla into a cereal bowl until I need them, and keep the flour, soda and cream of Tartar in another bowl in the counter, pre-measured and ready to go for when I need them.

The hardest bit of this recipe is dealing with your very tired arm because stirring once all the flour is in there isn't a piece of cake. It's totally worth it in the end, though. These are the best sugar cookies I've ever eaten.

Softening Brown Sugar

You know when you have a bag of brown sugar that you only use once in a while to make special stuff like cookies or frosting, and when you pull it out you find that it's all in hardened chunks?

Well, here's a tip for you: put as much as you think you'll need into a microwavable bowl, cover the bowl with a dampened but not dripping paper towel that's been folded in half and microwave for 30-60 seconds. The sugar will be very hot when done but it should also be nice and soft.

Mom's Awesome Gingersnaps

3/4 c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. molasses
2 1/4 c. flour (2 c. for less fat cookie)
2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
granulated sugar

Mix thoroughly: shortening, sugar, egg, and molasses. Blend remaining ingredients except for granulated sugar. Cover and chill for one hour.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls. Dip tops in granulated sugar. Place balls sugar side up 3-inch apart on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake ten to twelve minutes or just until set. Immediately remove from baking sheet.

Notes: I think these are my all-time favorite Christmas cookies. I only used 2 cups of flour and I didn't refrigerate them like the instructions say, and to get a flatter, softer cookie, once I had shaped balls of dough on the cookie sheet I flattened them somewhat with the sugared bottom of a regular kitchen glass. Ten minutes was the maximum I let them stay in the oven and they turned out perfectly.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. shortening
1/2 c. stick margarine or butter, softened
1 large egg
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
granulated sugar

1. Mix 1/2 cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar, peanut butter, shortening, margarine and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Cover and refrigerate about two hours or until firm.

2. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

3. Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place about three inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten in criss-cross pattern with fork dipped in granulated sugar.

4. Bake 9-10 minutes or until light brown. Cool 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on a wire rack.

Notes: I completely forgot to refrigerate for one hour and there is no difference whatsoever in the way the cookies turned out. Go figure. Also, for me, nine minutes is perfect, any longer and it's too long.

Source: Betty Crocker

Monday, November 12, 2007

Corn and Chicken Chowder (or, Corn and Potato Chowder)

3 T. butter or margarine, divided
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2 medium leaks, sliced (about two cups)
2 medium potatoes (cut into chunks)
1 large green pepper, diced
2 T. paprika
2 T. flour
3 c. chicken broth
2 1/2 c. fresh corn kernels
1 1/2 t. Tabasco sauce
1 t. salt
1 c. half-and-half

In a four-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 1 T butter. Cook chicken chunks until well browned on all sides, stirring frequently. With slotted spoon, remove chicken; set aside.

Add 2 T. butter to drippings in saucepan. Over medium heat, cook leeks, potatoes and green pepper until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in paprika and flour until well blended; cook 1 minute. Add broth, corn, Tabasco sauce, salt and chicken. Over high heat, heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in half-and-half; heat. Makes 8 cups.

or for Corn and Potato Chowder

2 T. butter or margarine
1/4 of a small red/yellow onion, diced
3 medium potatoes
1 large green pepper, diced
2 T. paprika
2 T. flour
3 c. chicken broth/3 c. water plus three chicken broth cubes
2 1/2 c. frozen corn kernels
1 1/2 t. Tabasco sauce
1 t. salt
1 c. half-and-half

In a four-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the 2 T butter. Over medium heat, cook onion, potatoes and green pepper until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in paprika and flour until well blended; cook 1 minute. Add broth/water and chicken cubes, corn, Tabasco sauce, and salt. Over high heat, heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in half-and-half; heat. Makes 8 cups.

Notes: I sampled the Corn and Chicken and decided that it needed more of a kick so in addition to the green pepper I dicked up two jarred jalapeños and added them to the mix. Turned out great! Not too spicy but not too bland, either.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Quick Mix Layer Cake

Prep time 15 minutes

1/2 cup margarine
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cups milk
2 eggs
2 T. milk
1 t. vanilla

Grease and flour 2 9-in. layer cake pans.

Stir margarine to soften.

Sift flour and sugar together over margarine.

Add 3/4 c. milk, mix until all flour mixture is dampened.

Beat two minutes on medium speed of mixer.

Add eggs, two tablespoons of milk and vanilla. Beat one minute on medium speed.

Pour into prepared pans. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched with finger.

1 stick (1/2 cup) margarine
2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 c milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk beating on medium speed to spreading consistency. Add more milk if needed. Stir in vanilla. Makes about 2 cups.

Notes: I don't know how but I completely forgot about the vanilla in the frosting. Luckily, it's still pretty good. The cake on the other hand isn't as moist as I would have hoped. The frosting definitely helps, but it's not what I thought it'd be.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Minnesota Wild Rice Soup

3/4 c. uncooked wild rice
7-10 slices of crisp crumbled bacon or cooked chicken (optional)
1 8 oz can of drained sliced mushrooms
1 c. half and half
4 chicken flavored boullion cubes
2 T. butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup
4 c. water
2 stalks of chopped celery

Combine all ingredients in a crockpot and cook on high for four hours.

Notes: I found this recipe on a magnet at the airport last time we passed through and bought it thinking it would make a nice addition to the fridge. Then, after staring at it every time I opened the refrigerator door it occurred to me that the ingredients looked pretty good. Since it got kind of cold this weekend I gave it a try and holy moly was it good!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Chocolate Cake

¾ c. butter, softened
3 eggs
2 c. all-purpose flour
¾ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t. baking soda
¾ t. baking powder
½ t. salt
2 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla
1 ½ c. milk

1. Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease bottoms of two 8x8x2-inch square or 9x1½-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with waxed paper. Grease and lightly flour bottoms and sides of pans. Or, grease one 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

2. In a medium bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about ¼ cup at a time, beating on medium speed until well combined (3-4 minutes). Scrape sides of bowl; continue beating on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition (about 1 minute total). Beat in vanilla.

4. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Beat on medium to high speed for 20 seconds more. Make sure you keep scraping the bottom of the bowl. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan(s).

5. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes for 8-inch pans and 13x9x2-inch pan, 30-35 minutes for 9-inch pan, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans. Peel off waxed paper. Cool thoroughly on racks.

Frosting: Chocolate Deluxe Icing
2 c. sifted confectioners sugar
¼ t. salt
1 large egg
1/3 c. soft shortening
2 squares (2 oz.) unsweetened chocolate, melted (microwaved for 30-60 seconds)

Beat ingredients together until fluffy.

Notes: This was so yummy. Very moist. Because I have dark non-shiny pans I decreased the oven temp to 325 and I think that helped.

Source: Cake - Better Homes and Gardens, Frosting - OFR.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Peach Cobbler

3 lbs. (about 7) medium fresh or frozen peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/4 " slices
2 T. cornstarch
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. light brown sugar
2 t. fresh lemon juice
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1/2 t. pure lemon extract
1/2 t. cinnamon, plus a little more for the top of the crust
1/2 t. nutmeg (or a little more according to your taste)
4 T. butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
1 box refrigerated pie crusts

Rinse peaches, peel and slice.

Mix lemon juice, vanilla extract and lemon extract in a small bowl or glass measuring cup.

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

Place peeled and chopped peaches in a large bowl and toss with first the juice mixture, and then the dry ingredients.

Fold in butter. Let stand for a few minutes to let the flavors seep into the peaches.

Spoon half the peach mixture into a lightly buttered rectangular baking dish or cake pan.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one of the crusts so that it is more or less rectangular.

Place the crust over the peaches in the cake pan. Top with the remaining peaches. Roll out the other crust into a rectangle and place over the second layer of peaches, trimming where necessary. Cut a few slits into the top of the dough. Place the dish on a baking sheet to catch any drips.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until the fruit juices are bubbling and the top is golden brown. Sprinkle the top of the dough with cinnamon. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Notes: You can the juice from a can of peaches if you like it juicier. This is a really easy and tasty dessert. The one bad thing is that it takes for ever to peel and pit the peaches. Plus, I wasn't sure if you're supposed to cut out the red core part that surrounds the pit, so I did just in case and that really added to the time thing. But, it's totally worth it. This stuff is SO YUM.

Source: Micki in my office.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Mexican Beans & Rice

1 can of black beans (cooked)
1/2 cup uncooked long-grain rice
2 T olive oil
1 large onion
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, minced
2 T ground coriander
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1/4 c. shredded monteray jack cheese
2 cups cottage cheese
2 med. tomatoes, sliced

Cook rice as directed on package. Drain and rinse the beans. Transfer them to the pot holding the rice and mix well, being careful not to mash the beans.

In a small skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Saute the onion, garlic, jalapeño, coriander, salt and ground pepper until the vegetables are tender. Add the cheeses, stir to combine.

In a 3 quart casserole, make a layer with one third of the beans and rice mixture and on top of that make another layer of one half the vegetable and cheese mixture. Repeat the layers ending with the beans and rice. Arrange the tomato slices over the top and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips.

Notes: This works as a meatless main, or as a side dish, or as something to bring to a potluck with a bag of chips. The flavors are excellent and people seem to love it.

Source: Coyle Family

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Measuring Shot Glass

This is my new favorite kitchen gadget. You can't really tell by the picture, but this little shot glass is marked down the sides with all manner of measuring mechanisms. It's does ounces, milliliters, teaspoons and tablespoons just to start.

It's indispensable when you're making a salad dressing that you've halved from something else and you need three teaspoons of something. Rather than measuring out three teaspoons of whatever with the regular spoon, you just pour right into the shot glass as if it were a regular measuring cup and stop when you hit three teaspoons.

I got mine at Reading Terminal Station in Philly last week and have used it three times since then. The best part? I paid about five bucks for mine, but online they're available for $2.99. Can you beat it? I didn't think so.

Source: Zaccardi's

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Zucchini With Herbs

1 ½ lbs zucchini
¼ c. olive oil
pepper, freshly ground
1-2 T. butter
8 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T. parsley, chopped
1 T. chives, chopped
1 T. fresh basil, finely chopped

Cut the zucchini into 1/8-inch slices. Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium high heat. When hot, add the zucchini. Cook, stirring gently, for about five minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drain off oil. Add butter, then garlic and herbs. Cook until butter melts. Yield: six servings.

Notes: This is for those of you who are experiencing bumper crops of zucchini. I haven’t tried it yet, but Helen in my office says this is the bomb.

Source: Helen in my office.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Creamsicle Martini

Anything but childish.

2 oz. Vodka
1 oz. Triple sec
1 oz. Orange juice
1 oz. Heavy cream

Combine all ingredients in mixing glass. Add ice and shake. Strain into your Swank Martini Glass and garnish.

Notes: This is my new favorite drink, especially for summer. It's refreshing, with just a hint of my childhood lurking at the bottom of the glass. I have to confess that I haven't actually made one yet, but I'm getting awfully good at ordering them.

Source: Swank Martinis

Monday, July 23, 2007

Easy Rockin Nachos

1 bag of tortilla chips
1-2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
4-6 oz. sour cream
1/2 c. jalapeños, chopped in half

1 cookie sheet
tin foil
1 dinner plate

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with tin foil. Spread one layer of chips over the tin foil, top with cheese. Bake at 350 for about ten minutes. While the chips are in the oven put the sour cream and jalapeños into two bowls.

When the cheese has melted take the cookie sheet out of the oven and carefully slide the tin foil off the sheet and onto the plate. For some reason, the tin foil doesn't stay hot when you remove it from the cookie sheet so it's pretty easy to get the nachos from the hot cookie sheet to the cool plate.

Now you've got a plate of nachos lined with foil. The cookie sheet should be clean and when you're done eating the plate should still be clean to (providing you don't eat so fast that the foil rips). Either way I usually wash the plate afterward just in case. The cookie sheet I just throw back in the oven until next time.

Source: My own invention

Friday, July 20, 2007

Mediterranean Salad With Fresh Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 bag of salad (or 1 bunch of romaine leaves)
1 tomato
1/4 c. pine nuts
1/4-1/2 c. feta cheese
6-8 Greek olives

Wash the lettuce and put about half of the bag in a large bowl. Chop the tomato into bite-sized pieces and put on top of the lettuce. Add the pine nuts and feta cheese. Pit the olives and then add to the bowl.

8 tsp. (2 T. and 2 tsp.) olive oil
8 tsp. (2 T. and 2 tsp.) balsamic vineger
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
1/2 clove minced garlic
1/16 tsp. black pepper

Add all ingredients to a small Tupperware dish, fit cover on tightly, shake vigorously for about thirty seconds. About two servings.

Notes: This is a fabulous meal for one or two. The flavors really come together and the crunch of the pine nuts really makes the dish.

Source: I recreated this salad from one I had at Winberie's Restaurant in Summit, NJ.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Beer-Cheese Veggie Soup

2 cups (8 oz.) cauliflower florets
1 cup plus 3 T. water
1 T. margarine
1/2 c. chopped onions
1/2 t. bottled minced garlic
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 can or bottle (12 oz.) light-bodied beer
1 can (14 3/4 oz.) fat-free chicken broth
3 T. cornstarch
2 c. half-and-half
2 c. (8 oz.) already-shredded Cheddar cheese
Reduced-fat real bacon bits (not imitation; optional)

Place the cauliflower and 1 cup of water in a microwave-safe covered casserole and microwave on high until tender, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the margarine in a 4 1/2-quart Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and Worcestershire and stir well.

Add the beer. Raise the heat to high and boil 3 minutes to evaporate the alcohol. Add the chicken broth and bring the soup back to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and boil while you drain the cauliflower, chop it into bite-size pieces, and add it to the pot.

Combine the cornstarch and 3 T. water in a small container that has a lid. Shake until the lumps disappear, then set aside. Add the half-and-half and cheese to the soup. Stir constantly until the cheese melts, then shake the cornstarch mixture again and add it to the pot. Stir constantly until the soup is thick, about two minutes. Serve garnished with bacon bits (if using).

Notes: I chop the cauliflower into bite-size pieces before I microwave, otherwise the heat of the cauliflower makes chopping difficult. This a very tasty soup that works as a Meatless Main Dish or as a first course. It's fancy enough to make people think you spent a lot of time on it, and it reheats well.

Source: Desperation Dinners, by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross

Friday, July 13, 2007

Beer Biscuits

1 1/2 T. sugar
6 oz. warm beer
2 c. biscuit mix

Dissolve sugar in beer first, then add to biscuit mix. Do not over mix. With two spoons drop into three-inch balls onto a cookie sheet. Bake according to the directions on box of mix. If mix is from scratch, substitute the beer for the liquid in recipe. But, don't forget to use the sugar.

Notes: If you're using Bisquick bake at 450 degrees for 8 minutes. Also, lining the cookie sheet with tin foil makes for very easy clean up.

Sausage, Peppers & Pasta

2 hot Italian sausages
2 sweet Italian sausages
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 c. tomato sauce
1/4 c. red wine
2 c. ziti
Italian Seasoning

Cook ziti according to instructions on box.

Brown sausage in olive oil, then take out of pan, chop into bite-sized pieces and put back into pan. Add onion and pepper and cook until softened. Add tomato sauce and wine. Correct seasoning if needed with Italian Seasonings. When hot, mix with cooked ziti. Add more tomato sauce if necessary.

Notes: This is a great dish to throw together fairly quickly and have plenty of leftovers for the next day.

Source: Coyle Family

Kitty Litter Cake

  • 1 spice or German chocolate cake mix
  • 1 white cake mix
  • 1 large pkg vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 1 pkg vanilla sandwich cookies
  • Green food coloring
  • 12 small Tootsie Rolls
  • New, cleaned litter box
  • New, cleaned litter scooper
Prepare the cake mix according to the directions on the box. Use any size pan. Allow the cake to cool to room temperature.

Prepare the pudding mix and put it in the refrigerator for now.

Crumble the white sandwich cookies in small batches in a food processor (scrape often to get every little piece) or by hand. Set aside all but about 1/4 cup.

Measure 1/4 cup of cookie crumbs and add a few drops of green food coloring to it. Mix with a fork or shake everything in a jar.

Crumble the room temperature cake into a large bowl. Toss it gently with half of the remaining white cookie crumbs and enough chilled pudding to moisten (not soak) the crumbs.

Put the cookie crumbs and pudding mixture into a brand new, clean litter box.

Heat three unwrapped Tootsie rolls in a microwave safe dish and until they're soft and pliable. Pinch the ends so they are no longer blunt--you want them to look convincingly like what cats put in the litter box, right? Repeat this process with as many Tootsie rolls as you'd like to add, microwaving them in batches of three.

Bury the shaped Tootsie rolls in mixture and sprinkle them with the other half of the cookie crumbs.

Scatter the green cookie crumbs lightly over the top. This will mimic real litter, where many of the grains are often blue or green.

Shape 3 more Tootsie rolls and scrape them on top of the cake. One can hang over the side of the litter box. Sprinkle them lightly with cookie crumbs.

Place the box on a newspaper and sprinkle a few of the cookie crumbs around. Serve with a brand new, cleaned litter scooper for that extra touch!

Keep your cat/dog away from the cake. They might try to eat it and could get sick from the Tootsie rolls. They probably won't mistake it for a real litter box, but it's better to be safe than sorry in this case!

Although it looks fun, using a real kitty litter scoop and cat box is not a good idea. Food grade plastic is different than other plastics and while it sometimes is the same it doesn't have to be. Plasticizers that are not meant for ingestion can leak into the cake. Perhaps you could use a colorful cake pan instead.

If you want to preserve the look of using a real litter box, but are worried about the plastic, it couldn't hurt to line the inside of the litter box with plastic wrap, and just lean the scoop against the side as a decoration.

For safety reasons, (i.e.toxic plastic) rather than use the real litter box, you may want to use an aluminum baking pan, which you could place into the kitty litter pan. It has the same gross effect.

Notes: I've never tried this, but it looks fun. The warnings seem a little obvious, but you never know who you're dealing with out there, I guess.

Source: Wikipedia

Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies

2/3 c. shortening
2/3 c. margarine
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
12 oz. semisweet chocolate pieces

Mix shortening, margarine, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients and then the chips.

Used two spoons to drop the dough in two-inch balls onto a cookie sheet about two inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees. Cool before removing from sheet.

Notes: 8 minutes max in the oven, and these babies come out perfectly!

Source: Betty Crocker

Macaroni & Cheese

3 T. unsalted butter
3 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ground black pepper
1/4 t. ground dry mustard
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
2 c. elbow macaroni

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2 1/2-quart baking dish and st aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Melt the butter over low heat in a large, deep skillet. Whisk in the flour, salt, pepper, and mustard. Cook over moderatley low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture bubbles and begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk.

Return the skillet to the stove; bring to a boil over moderate heat while stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer 4 minutes while whisking. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until it blends with the sauce.

Cook macaroni in boiling water until tender about 7 minutes. Drain and combine with cheese sauce.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Bake 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.

Serves 6

Tips: Pushing several half-slices of cheddar cheese into the macaroni just before you put the dish into the oven is fabulous. Add 10-15 minutes to the baking time if you make it ahead of time and refrigerate. Before taking it out of the oven, insert a clean table knife into a couple of places and feel the tip to determine if the macaroni is uniformly hot.

Notes: Reheats beautifully, and is another recipe that is perfect for the wintertime when you want something thick and hearty.

In the book it says that this is the recipe that "Thomas Jefferson served to Messrs. Lewis and Cutler, who had never tasted anything so delicious. They wrote letters to each other, speculating about the ingredients and how the dish was prepared. They referred to it the same why Jefferson did, and of course, used the spelling of that era: "maccaroni and cheese pudding." "

Source: The Potluck Cookbook: Classic Recipes for Any Occasions.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Excellent Chicken Parm

1 ½ or so lbs of skinless, boneless thin-sliced chicken breast
1 large egg
2 T. water
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese
1 jar Classico spaghetti sauce (I use the tomato/basil flavor, have also tried four cheese and roasted garlic)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a small bowl mix egg and water.

In another small bowl mix bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese

Dip raw chicken into egg/water mixture, then into bread crumb/cheese mixture to coat, then line them into a glass or metal baking dish until there is one layer of breaded chicken. Pour the sauce over the chicken until it’s covered. Sprinkle lightly with Parmesan out of the container. Top with mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Notes: This is an excellent heart-healthy alternative to the classic breaded and fried chicken parm. Also, the chicken can be substituted with eggplant for Eggplant Parm.

Source: Betty Crocker

Awesome Waldorf Salad

4 apples, chopped (I prefer Granny Smith, but you can use whatever you like)
8 oz. walnuts, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
2 handfuls dried cranberries
1 lemon
1/2-3/4 cup mayonnaise

Mix all ingredients together in bowl, squeeze lemon over contents of bowl, mix well with mayonnaise, chill.

Notes: I'm not a big fan of raisins so I love this recipe because of the dried cranberries option. It's delicious and healthy and perfect for summertime.

Source: OFM


This is the coolest thing I've seen come out of a kitchen in a long time.

It's a Meatcake, and that's exactly what it sounds like.

Source: Black Widow Bakery.

Marinated Feta Cheese, Tomatoes, and Red Onion

4 oz. feta cheese
1/2 c. virgin olive oil
3 T. fresh lemon juice
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 t. finely chopped fresh oregano (or, 1/4 t. dried)
1 t. finely chopped fresh thyme (or, 1/4 t. dried)
3 beefsteak tomatoes
1 large red onion

1/2 c. nicoise olives (or, Greek olives)
2 fresh thyme sprigs

Break the cheese into 1/4-inch cubes in a mixing bowl. Toss with 1/4 c. of the olive oil, 2 T. of the lemon juice, the red pepper flakes, black pepper, oregano, and thyme.

Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes (or for up to 3 days, covered, in the refrigerator), and drain well. If refrigerated, bring to room temperature before assembling the salad.

Cut each tomato into four 1/2-inch thick slices. Cut the onion into 1/8-in slices.

Mound the marinated cheese in the center of a serving platter. Surround the cheese with overlapping slices of tomato. Separate the onion slices into rings. Scatter onion rings and olives over the tomatoes. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and lemon juice and decorate with the olives and sprigs of thyme.

Notes: I used crumbled feta, and (since it was just me) two tomatoes (from the vine) rather than three. Also, I didn't have any onions in the house, so I pitted six Greek olives and dropped them over the tomatoes before the final drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice.

This was a beautifully light, refreshing salad for a hot summer night.

Source: The Bride & Groom's First Cookbook by Abigail Kirsch, with Susan M. Greenberg

Banana Pudding Squares

35 Reduced Fat NILLA Wafers, finely crushed
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine, melted
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese, 1/3 Less Fat than Cream Chese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP FREE Whipped Topping, thawed, divided
3 bananas
3 cups cold fat free milk
2 pkg. (4-serving size each) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Fat Free Sugar Free Instant Reduced Calorie Pudding & Pie Filling
1/2 square BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, grated

COMBINE wafer crumbs and margarine; press firmly onto bottom of 13x9-inch dish. Refrigerate while preparing filling.
MIX Neufchatel cheese and sugar until well blended. Stir in 1-1/2 cups of the whipped topping; spread carefully onto crust. Set aside. Cut bananas crosswise in half, then cut each piece lengthwise in half. Arrange over Neufchatel cheese mixture.
POUR milk into large bowl. Add dry pudding mixes. Beat with wire whisk 2 min. Spoon over bananas. Spread with remaining whipped topping. Sprinkle with chocolate. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving. Store any leftover dessert in refrigerator.

Notes: This is a real crowd pleaser that can be made as shown above which is a very healthy option, or, I like to substitute everything for it's more fattening counterpart and this really rocks. Excellent for a pot luck or family dinner.


Pasta Puttanesca

1 lb. Bowtie pasta
1 medium jar artichoke hearts
1 can black olives – pitted
28 oz. can chopped tomatoes
2 T capers
1 small onion
6 cloves garlic (or 3 teaspoons of minced garlic)
1-2 T olive oil
black pepper
grated Parmesan cheese

Follow directions to cook pasta in large pot. Drain water and put pasta back in large pot or large casserole dish.

Combine: cooked pasta, artichoke hearts with water from jar, black olives (drained), tomatoes, capers, onion, garlic, and oil. Top with pepper and cheese when serving.

Notes: Translated, the name of this dish means "Whore Pasta" and it was supposedly named this because it takes the same amount of time to make it as it does for a a whore to service a john. Classy, eh? And appetizing.

Also, the leftovers don't really keep the tanginess of the flavor, so if you're making this dish, try to make sure that you've got plenty of people around who'll eat it the same day.

Source: Joyous

Apple-Onion Noodle Kugle

4 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 medium onion, chopped
2 medium Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and diced (I use one Golden Delicious and 1 Granny Smith)
1 cup golden raisins (optional)
5 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
12 ounces medium egg noodles, cooked and drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

In a medium skillet, heat oil.

Cook onions and apples until slightly softened over medium heat, about 4 minutes.

Stir in raisins and cook another 30 seconds.

Let mixture cool slightly.

In a large bowl beat eggs with sugar, cinnamon, salt and pepper.

Stir in apple mixture and noodles until well combined.

Pour into baking pan.

Bake about 1 hour or until golden brown on top (check it at 45 minutes and it usually is crispy.

Serve warm or room temperature cut into squares. Serves 12.

Notes: I hate raisins so don't ever use them and it does nothing to make the dish less enjoyable. This is a great dish to serve in the wintertime when you want something that will stick to your bones.

Source: OFR

Fast and Yummy Taco Dip

16 0z. sour cream
1 packet taco mix
1 package pre-packed lettuce, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
8 oz. cheddar cheese
1 bag tortilla chips

In a bowl mix the sour cream with the taco mix. Once it's well-blended, spread it into the bottom of an baking dish. The size of the dish doesn't matter too much as long as it's not too small (like a loaf pan) or too big (like...I dunno...a big pizza dish).

Once the sour cream and taco mixture is spread evenly onto the bottom of the dish, layer evenly the tomatoes, lettuce and cheese. Open the bag of chips and enjoy. Or, if you're feeling benevolent, wait until the party arrives to open the bag of chips.

For a different taste, you can add jalapeños, green peppers or black olives.

This is no bake and it only takes about 30 minutes to throw the whole thing together.