Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What next?

What next cooking gals? Some ideas to give us structure in the coming year:

1) pick an ingredient each month and we all make a new recipe using it and post it
2) pick a new recipe and we all have to make it
3) put a call out for types of recipes you'd like to make in 2009

Or, is this not really flowing with everyone's schedules etc? Let me know...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Recipes for candy canes?

Any recipes that use candy canes?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Favorite Holiday Candy

I have always, always been intimidated by making my mom’s English Toffee recipe. Like going on seven years of putting off because I thought it would be too hard to make. Turns out, it is quite easy!

English Toffee
2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
¼ c water
½ t salt
3 squares of semi-sweet chocolate or 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Cook butter, sugar, water and salt in heavy bottomed pan. Stir constantly to keep from turning to dark until candy thermometer reaches the hard crack (HC) stage. This took about 20 minutes or so.* When it reaches the hard crack stage, pour into an ungreased 9 x 13 pan. Freeze until cool.

Melt chocolate chips and spread over cooled toffee. Sprinkle with nuts and freeze again to harden. Break up with your hands or a butter knife. My mom always stores these in the freezer.

*I made this last night and brought it into work to test on my co-workers. I now realize I could have waited another minute or so to cook the toffee so it would have been a little more brown and crunchy. The toffee I made last night it pretty chewy. Tasty, but chewy.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A holiday fav..cupcake, not cookie!

BLACK BOTTOM CUP-CAKES
* Original recipe yield 2 dozen regular sized cupcakes or about 4 dozen mini

INGREDIENTS
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/3 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line muffin tins with paper cups or lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, egg, 1/3 cup sugar and 1/8 teaspoon salt until light and fluffy. Stir in the chocolate chips and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, 1 cup sugar, cocoa, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Make a well in the center and add the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Stir together until well blended. Fill muffin tins 1/3 full with the batter and top with a dollop of the cream cheese mixture. * I tend to add more then a "dollop" because there's always plenty of the creamcheese mixture and its my favorite part of the cupcake!

4. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.

New Holiday Recipes

Every year I make at least one holiday cookie, bar or bread. I never stray from the recipes of my childhood (my Aunt Carol's chocolate peanut butter balls, my Grandma June's lemon bread, a mint chocolate fudge recipe from my mom). Last year I got crazy sick on the weekend I was going to make treats, so this year I'm making up for lost time AND making something new.

Next weekend I'll be making lemon bread (and freezing some to take to my dad), but I'll also be trying two recipes from the new Everyday Food magazine. I'll be giving these two a try:

Chocolate Gingerbread Bars
Icebox Cookies

I'll let you know how they turn out. Photo from Martha.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Favorite Holiday Cookie - Kolochi

I've never actually made these before but they're my fav cookie. My mom sent me this recipe and I'm not sure if they're the best instructions...

4 cps flour 1 cup Crisco
1 pkg yeast 4 egg yokes
1 tsp salt ½ pt. light cream
¼ lb butter or margarine

Mix yeast with 2 cups flour. Add other 2 cups flour and salt. Add butter, Crisco and egg yokes. Mix thoroughly. Add cream. Mix thoroughly until dough does not stick to hands. Let stand in refrigerator 3 hours. Roll dough out thinly in confectionary sugar and then add filling (below).

Filling:

1 lb. finely ground walnuts
1 tbs. butter (soft but not melted)
½ cup sugar
2 tsp milk

Mix and spread on thinly rolled dough. Roll up the dough (like a jelly roll, into a spiral) and cut into 1 inch cookies. Bake 15 minutes in 350 degree oven. (Watch your first batch and adjust baking time accordingly)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Busted

Well, I broke our computer with all the pictures from our trip (and darn it, I have a special food related post from our trip). We have to order a new one, so I won't be posting much. Camby, thanks for keeping the blog going while I was gone.

Anyone have any holiday requests? Anyone have a chocolate mint martini recipe?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New favorite cookie

Ok so here I finally go with a cookie recipe.. Honestly I can't say its my favorite holiday cookie because we've never had it before on a holiday, in fact I've only ever had the cookie once in my life but damn was it a GOOD cookie! I think in the one taste I had, it may have become the best cookie I ever tasted and will hopefully become a holiday staple for me going forward! In case you're wondering how I had it once, it was at a wine tasting event and the cookies were prepared by one of Pittsburgh's top pastry chefs who was nice enough to share her recipe with my Mom so here it is:

Italian Baci

9 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
pinch salt
1/3 cup dark rum

Whip together above ingredients and set aside.
* If you want chocolate almond baci add 3 cups crumbled almond paste to whipped yolks. (I would recommend adding the almond paste because it was devine with it included!)

Melt together 30 oz. bittersweet semisweet chocolate, 6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, and 6 oz. unsalted. Fold melted & whipped mixtures together. Stir in 1 7/8 cups all purpose flour, and 2 1/4 tsp. baking powder. Chill dough. After dough has chilled, use melon-scoop and drop about an inch apart on parchment paper to bake.

Bake 8-10 minutes at 325 - watch carefully as you don't want to overbake.

Enjoy!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Favorite Holiday Cookie - Chocolate Crinkles


I wish I could be like my grandma and make batches upon batches of cookies to have on hand for guests every year during the holiday season. Admittedly though, I'm not much of a holiday cookie baker, or cookie baker in general, but if I had to choose a favorite it would have to be Chocolate Crinkles!

Apple Season is Great!



We enjoy a lot of apples at our house during apple season. Honeycrisp apple being this year's favorite. Mmmmm.





I made these Apple Turnovers with Granny Smith Apples, for a dinner with neighbor friends last night and they were a hit! I used dried cranberries instead of dried cherries in an effort to save a few bucks though.



Image courtesy of:http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2143/2245327989_ddf9d83558.jpg?v=0

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Next Favorite- holiday cookie!

Ok so we've all been slacking since Amanda has been off sampling the world's finest gelato, pizzas and pasta, and I don't know about all of you but I think she will come back feeling disappointed at our lack of keeping this blog in tact and current during her absence! ;) SO, I'm going to suggest our final favorite of this month, and maybe the year since we will all be bombarded with other things in the upcoming month....

Favorite holiday cookies, so get posting ladies and I promise to post mine as well hopefully this weekend!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Favorite One Pot Meals - Garlic Chicken Artichoke Soup

I worked at a cafe summers in high school and college and we made this garlic chicken artichoke soup. It is kind of a long process to make but absolutely delish and very hearty...well worth the effort!

5 chicken breasts
fresh rosemary
chopped garlic
olive oil
1 chopped red bell pepper
1 chopped yellow bell pepper
1 chopped onion
4 stalks of celery chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cans of artichoke hearts, chopped
6 C chicken stock
3/4c butter
1/2 – 3/4 c flour
2 C milk or cream or combo of both

Season Chicken w/rosemary & garlic (sprinkle both on top of chicken) & bake in 400 degree oven until just cooked, 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven & cool, then chop.Heat oil in a heavy stockpot. Add the vegetables and cook until tender. Add stock and let simmer.Make a roux using butter and flour. Add enough flour so that the mixture comes together but still is somewhat liquid. Cook until a light brown color. Add the milk or cream and stir until thickened.Pour the roux through a sieve into the vegetable mixture. Let cook until thickened. Add the chicken and artichokes. We also sometimes add Herbes de Provence as a seasoning. Salt and Pepper to taste. Cook until all ingredients are warmed through. 8-10 servings.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Favorite One-Pot Meals - Egg Lemon Soup (Avgolemono)



This soup is one of our absolute favorites. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn't like it once they try it even though it might sound kind of odd. Having a good stand mixer is key to making it.


Ingredients:

96 oz. Chicken Broth
12 oz. Orzo
9 Eggs
6 tablespoons of Lemon Juice
1-2 Fresh Lemons
Black Pepper

1. In large pot, bring chicken broth to a boil.
2. Add 12 oz. of orzo to broth and cook per directions on box. *
3. In two smaller bowls, separate whites and yolks of 9 eggs.
4. Whip eggs whites on high until they have a stiff peak.
5. With mixer running continuously on medium, fold in yolks, one at a time.
6. With mixer running continuously on medium, add 6 T. (or more to taste) of lemon juice.
7. With mixer running continuously on medium, slowly add 2-4 c. of broth to eggs, until egg mixture is heated throughout, being careful not to cook the eggs.
8. While wisking the pot continuously, pour the heated egg mixture into the pot with the orzo and broth.
9. Continue to stir the soup, folding from the top down to dissipate foam, over low heat.
10. Serve with fresh lemon slices and black pepper to taste.

Makes about 8 servings.

*It is key that the egg mixture is ready about the same time the orzo is finished cooking. Letting the eggs sit, waiting for the orzo, will make them lose their peak.

Image courtesy of http://www.hort.purdue.edu/

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Any One-Pot Meals (soups, stews, crockpot, casserole, etc.)?

I have one I wanted to share but need to type it out and we've all been sick this week so I haven't gotten a chance. Anyone else have a recipe to share this week?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Best Pinots under $20

Mmmm, I love me some pinot noir. And its great with turkey at Thanksgiving. I saw this list on The Kitchn. Personally, I'm a big fan of the Castle Rock Pinot-it goes well with a lot of things. I may have to get a bottle tonight!

Best Pinot Noir under $20
2005 Crossroads Destination Series Pinot Noir, Hawkes Bay - $16.99 – Vivid and rich cherry, cranberry and raspberry flavors and aromas with toasty spice and leather notes. Smooth tannins, and plumpish mouth feel. Lingering sweet spicy finish. (16.5/20)

2005 Yering Station Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley - $16.99 – Cheery red berry, plumy, cherry nose. Lighth, but inviting. Refreshing with lots of ripe cherry berry flavors and sweet spicy finish. Medium length. (16/20)

2007 Tamar Ridge, Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir, Tasmania $16 - Appealing cherry berry, strawberry and raspberry fruit character with complimenting spicy and savory notes. Elegant with smooth tannins, lots of fruit, and a long finish. (16/20)

2006 Delta Vineyard Pinot Noir, Marlborough $16.99 – Concentrated red and black cherry with pretty floral notes of roses and violets and inviting woodsy notes. Smooth, silky tannins and persistent, elegant fruit across the palate. (18/20)

2007 A-Z Pinot Noir, Oregon $17.99 - Freshly made black cherry, strawberry and raspberry jam aromas with notes of char, underbrush and smoke. Juicy fruit on the palate with a nice mix of sweet and savory spices. Smooth tannins. (15/20)

2007 Castle Rock, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $12.99 – Fruit forward, and packed with juicy, ripe red cherry aromas and flavors. Light, soft tannins. Easy drinking with a sweet spicy cherry finish. (15.5/20)
2006 Fleur Pinot Noir, Carneros $17.99 – Appealing mix of characteristic Pinot cherry and earthy, roasted meat, leather notes. More savory than sweet. Good oak integration and hints of pepper and char on the finish. (16/20)

2006 Mac Murray Ranch, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $14.99 – Earthy, black cherry and plums with notes of cracked black pepper, charry smoke and sweet spice. Appealing smooth mouthfeel and long length. (16.5)

2005 Joseph Drouhin, AC Côte de Beaune Villages, Burgundy $18.99 – Persistent fresh black cherry, wild strawberries and forest fruits aromas and flavors with hints of spice and dried herbs. Well balanced. (16/20)

2007 Blason de Bourgogne Pinot Noir, AC Bourgogne , Burgundy $14 - The palest of all wines tasted. Delicate red cherry and freshly picked strawberry aromas and flavors. Light, simple but pleasing and easy to drink. Served lightly chilled, would be a lovely aperitif or serve with a first course. (14.5/20)

2005 Edition Maximilian Pinot Noir, Rheingau (Germany) $12 – Pretty with ripe, yet elegant nose of red cherry, lingonberry with some black pepper, spicy notes and lifted rose petal notes. Smooth and silky on the palate with lovely a pretty sweet cherry lingering finish. (15.5/20)

2007 Lindemans Bin 99 Pinot Noir, South Eastern Australia $7 – Characteristically a lot more fruit forward with jammy, ripe red and black fruit aromas and flavors – cherry, strawberry with distinct mint, cola and sweet spice notes. Smooth tannins and medium length. Great value but not as elegant as some others.(15/20)

2006 Louis Jadot Pinot Noir, AC Bourgogne, Burgundy $14 - Restrained on the nose, showing more of a black cherry and plum character and notes of black pepper and tar. Quite classic regional Burgundy with smooth tannins, food friendly, correct but won’t knock your socks off. (14.5/20)

2007 Saint Clair Vicar’s Choice Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand $18 – Earthy, plumy, black cherry aromas and flavors with an overlay of spice, cola, cracked pepper and roasted meat notes. (15.5)

2007 Mud House Pinot Noir, Central Otago $16.99 – Lovely lifted aromas of ripe black cherry, wild raspberry and enticing savory herbs. Silky tannins and a long fruity finish with a neat spicy kick. (16/20)

2007 Roaring Meg Pinot Noir, Central Otago $19.99 – Inviting perfume of red and black cherry, with floral notes. Elegant and silky across the palate with lots of cherry, raspberry freshness mingling with meaty, cola and earthy spicy notes. (17.5/20)

2007 Babich Pinot Noir, Marlborough $18 – Brimming with bright red cherry -berry fruit. Easy drinking and straightforward. Well made everyday wine. (15.5/20)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

We got favorite fall desserts!

So, we had some tasty sweets and treats in the Favorite Fall desserts category:

Jennifer's Pumpkin Bars
Sara's Pumpkin Dip
My Apple Cake

Next up, Camby picked one-pot meals (soups, stews, crockpot, casserole, etc.). When that's done, will someone do a wrap-up and Mollie, will you pick the last category?

Also, it will be Thanksgiving by the time I'm back, then BOOM, Christmas! Anyone have a fun idea we could do around holiday food? An actual physical cookie exchange to each other or a some type of recipe challenge where we all make the same recipe? Let me know if you have ideas.

And last but not least, I sent an invitation to Sara's friend in Australia to join (fun!). So if she has trouble getting the invite to work, let me know before Sunday/Monday so I can give someone else admin privileges.

And that is all I have to say about food for the day.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Next two favorites

So ladies, I am soon to depart this country in the next few days and am having trouble keeping track of everything. I'm hoping to get in a favorite fall dessert wrap-up by the end of the week. Camby and Mollie, do two want to finish out the favorites by each picking a category?

Grazie!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pumpkin Bars - favorite fall dessert

This is the only pumpkin bars recipe you will ever need. It's always perfectly moist without being gooey. And it's not just for fall; I tend to think it hits the spot any old time of the year.

Ingredients
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 cup mashed pumpkin
1 cup flour

Instructions
Combine sugar, oil and eggs. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Pour into lightly greased 9x13 pan. Bake for 30 min. at 325 degrees.

Frosting
Combine the following and spread over cooled bars.
3/4 stick butter
3 oz. cream cheese
Dash of salt
1 t. vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 T milk

NOTES: I usually make a double batch, using one 15 oz. can of pumpkin and cooking it in a 10.5" x 15" pan. The frosting recipe makes plenty without having to double it.

Friday, October 31, 2008

pot roast?

I don't eat red meat, but I need a recipe for a pot roast with beef (or some type of similar recipe using red meat). Anyone have a good one? And then I'll be done for awhile asking about ways to cook meat!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Favorite Fall Dessert - Pumpkin Dip

I'm not sure that this is 100% my favorite fall dessert but it is delish and super easy to make! I got the recipe from a girl at work. You can pair it with Graham Cracker sticks or whatever suits you.

1 15oz can of pumpkin
1 5oz package of instant vanilla pudding (don't actually make the pudding, just use the powder)
1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1 8oz container of cool whip

Mix the first 3 ingredients together & then fold in the Cool whip. Chill it for a few hours.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Favorite Fall Dessert

Well, my two favorite fall desserts are apple crisp and pumpkin pie, but last week I made a very tasty apple cake in an effort to use up some apples that Anthony's mom gave me. It was tasty.

Apple Cake from Smitten Kitchen

6 apples (the recipe calls for McIntosh apples)
1 T cinnamon
5 T sugar
2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 t vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.
A few notes: I used a bundt pan since I don't have a tube pan. Also, next time I'll do a better job distributing the cinnamon/sugar sauce that collected at the bottom of the bowl of apples. I ended up having too much liquid in the second round of apples, which dripped down the inside of the pan and got a little too dark for my liking. Last, but not least, it only took 1 hour and 15 minutes to cook in my oven.
Photo from Smitten Kitchen.

Monday, October 27, 2008

At last MY comfort food!

Ok so I got behind schedule and don't have a super story- food in general has always warmed my heart and my Mom and I have always done alot of cooking together...so here's one of our many family meals and probably my favorite.

Orange Pork Chops

4 thick pork chops or a few more if smaller- salt, pepper to taste
2-4 tbs water
5 tbs sugar
1.5 ts cornstarch
1/4 ts salt
1/4 ts cinnamon and/or nutmeg
10 cloves (optional)- can also use ground to taste
2 ts grates orange rind
1/2 c OJ

Season chops w salt and pepper and brown in skillet on each side.

Turn down heat and add water, simmer turning once. Add more water as needed and until chops cooked through- I usually always use more water because it keeps the chops juicy.

In seperate small saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, rind and cloves. Simmer on low while adding juice gradually so it does not lump- using a whisk also helps. Simmer until slightly thickened. * Just a note, the sauce is always everyone's favorite part so we make a double batch and put some over the chops and add to rice too!

Favorite Recipe - Fall Desserts

We have appetizers and main dishes, now it's time to go for the good stuff - desserts! With fall upon us, let's hone in on the season's best desserts - anything with pumpkin, cranberries, apples, cinnamon, chocolate, you name it.

Roasting Pork Tenderloin

I pulled out a pork tenderloin for dinner tonight and wanted to see if any of you have good recipes or tricks for roasting a pork tenderloin in the oven? We grill them a lot, but I don't have as many ideas when I roast them in the oven. Thoughts?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Oooh Wee, Do We Have Favorite Comfort Foods!

And with back stories, even better! Our favorite comfort food recipes:

Mollie's Orange Pork Chops
Sara's divine Chicken Divan
Mary's Southern Green Beans
Camby's Zuppa Toscana soup
Macaroni & Cheese
Jennifer's Broccoli Casserole

Ending on Jennifer's recipe, so I tag Jennifer for the next category.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Favorite Comfort Food - Chicken Divan

Chicken Divan was on the regular meal rotation growing up and always my brother's request for his birthday dinner. My mom used to microwave the chicken (gross!) and use frozen broccoli. When I started making it in college, I decided to go with boiling the chicken and fresh broccoli. It's a couple extra steps but well worth it in my opinion. When we were little, we used to pick around the broccoli and ask my mom why she couldn't make it with just chicken. Now the broccoli is my favorite part! The leftovers of this may be even better than the dish itself.

Chicken Divan

3-4 Chicken Breasts
2-3 heads of broccoli
5 Slices Lorraine Swiss Cheese (highly recommend using Lorraine Swiss rather than regular - you can get it in the Deli)
3 cans cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup sherry cooking wine (any white wine works)
1+ teaspoon lemon juice
4 tbsp butter or margarine
1+ cups of Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing mix

Put the chicken on to boil and while it is cooking, cut the broccoli up into small pieces. Steam or boil the broccoli until it is crisp tender (will cook more when you bake the casserole). When the chicken is done, cut it up into small pieces and put it into a bowl with a bit of sherry. Mix the chicken soup, mayo, sherry, and lemon juice in a separate bowl and set aside. Melt the margarine or butter and then toss in the stuffing mix until it is coated. Lay the broccoli on the bottom of a large rectangular glass pan. Pour some of the chicken soup mixture over it to cover a bit. Layer the chicken on top of that and pour the rest of the mixture on top of the chicken. Lay the slices of swiss cheese on top and then add the stuffing mixture on top of that. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is bubbly (about 20 minutes). Serve with rice.

p.s. thanks to mollie for sending me my recipe so i didn't have to type it all over again:)

Spinach and Brie Chicken with Tomato Orzo

Remember my post about brie in a log? This is the recipe I got it for. I made it last night, so good.

Spinach and Brie Chicken with Tomato Orzo

Ingredients
Serves 4
Coarse salt and ground pepper
8 thin chicken cutlets (1 1/2 pounds total)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 package (10 ounces) frozen leaf spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
4 ounces Brie cheese, cut into 8 slices
1 cup orzo
2 plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Set a large saucepan of salted water to boil. Heat broiler, with rack set 4 inches from heat. Place chicken on a large rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Dividing evenly, spread one side of each cutlet with mustard; top with spinach, then cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Starting at short end, roll chicken up tightly, and arrange, seam side down, on sheet.

Season rolled chicken with salt and pepper. Broil, without turning, until tops are lightly browned and chicken is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook orzo in boiling water until al dente. Drain well; return to pot. Add tomatoes, parsley, butter, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Serve stuffed chicken with orzo.
Recipe and photo from here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Southern Green Beans

When I think of comfort foods I think of stuff my mom makes, stroganoff, vegetable soup, and goulash. While I love this stuff, most of it relies heavily on McCormick seasoning packets. McCormick will always have a special spot in my heart (and cupboard) but I'm pretty sure you can read the packet yourself. So I will share a recipe that I crave on a regular basis but isn't something from my family.

1 lb of green beans, ends trimmed (fresh are best but whole frozen also work)
1/2 lb bacon, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 of a medium onion, chopped
3/4 c. of chicken broth (canned works fine but in this case I prefer powdered bullion)
1 TBSP brown sugar
2 TBSP red wine vinegar

Brown the bacon till nice and crisp, drain on a paper towel. Pour out all but 2 TBSP of the bacon grease out of the pan, cook onion on medium heat till soft and slightly golden. Add green beans, broth, and sugar to the pan, bring to a boil and cover. Cook till beans are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes, remove the lid and reduce the liquid to a few tablespoons (not soupy). Add vinegar, bacon and black pepper to taste. These beans are a little sweet and sour with a nice saltiness from the bacon, mmmmm.

Favorite Comfort Food - Zuppa Toscana

Apparently I like cold weather since the three states I've lived in are: Montana, Illinois and Minnesota! When it gets cold, I enjoy nothing better on a Sunday than hanging out at home, reading the paper, watching T.V. and cooking. Soup is one of those foods that really hits the spot on a day like that. We just returned from a trip to Montana yesterday and while we were there I had soup made by my sister's boyfriend that was really good! It's so good that I'm going to cheat and use it here as a "favorite" recipe. It's apparently a knock off of a soup at the Olive Garden. I really liked the kale in it which was good because that's one of those ingredients that would normally make me skip over a recipe just because I'm not familiar with it. Here's a recipe I found online. http://www.tuscanrecipes.com/recipes/olive-garden-zuppa-toscana.html

Image courtesy of http://picturemyfood.com/

Favorite Comfort Food Recipe

We had a lot of snow days in the town where I grew up in Massachusetts. School would be cancelled if the snow made it difficult for the school buses to make their pickups, not an uncommon occurrence considering many of the town's roads were once narrow cow paths between farms when the town was settled in the 1700s.

Since my mom was a teacher, she was most often home with us on snow days. That meant one thing: food. She'd make cookies, muffins, breads, soups, you name it. So now I associate the idea of comfort from food with snow days and lots of home cooking. A delicious association.

I have a few favorite comfort food recipes like cheese and bacon potato soup, as well as a roast chicken dinner, but the thing I make that makes me feel all warm and cozy inside is homemade macaroni and cheese.

Macaroni & Cheese
1/2 lb boiled macaroni
1 C cheddar cheese

White sauce (or roux)
1 C hot milk
2T butter
2T flour
1/4 salt (I use 1/2)
1/8 t pepper (I use a lot more)
Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat, add flour (I do so in batches and use a whisk to mix in), milk and seasoning. Mix together over heat until roux is combined and thickened, usually a few minutes.

Mix pasta, cheese and roux together in a greased pan. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes in a 400 oven.

This recipe is one of those things you can experiment with and its always slightly different. I add a little dried mustard and chopped garlic or garlic powder to give it a little kick.

On cheese: I usually used medium or sharp cheddar and will sprinkle some Parmesan on top to get a crusty top. If you only have Colby jack, you want to add something with a bit more zing since Colby jack loses its flavor in this dish. I love to add a little brie or cream cheese to add to the creaminess. Yum.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Broccoli Casserole

This casserole shows up at every single one of my family's holiday celebrations plus several other times during the year when we just want something warm and delicious. Comfort food, indeed.

Ingredients
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 8 oz. jar of Cheez Whiz
1/2 - 3/4 bag of frozen broccoli (thawed)
1 - 2 cups of Minute Rice
1/2 cup celery (diced)
1/2 cup onion (diced)

Instructions
Mix soups and Cheez Whiz in casserole dish. Mix in vegetables. Mix in rice. Bake at 300 degrees for one hour. Cover with foil for the first 30 minutes, then uncovered for the remaining time.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This Week's Favorite!

With colder weather upon us, I say we go with Favorite Comfort Food recipe!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More ladies for the kitchen?

This kitchen is open for more ladies if anyone else wants to join. Just let me know and I'll send an invitation.

Brie in a log

I just bought some brie on Sunday for a recipe I was planning on making for dinner this week (which sort of fell by the wayside with all the other things I have to do). Anyway...President brie (made in Wisconsin!) now has a brie log, perfect for slicing onto crackers etc. Personally, I'm a little torn since trying to, or watching someone else try to, spread softened brie onto a cracker or crusty bread is entertainment at an social function. But...for cooking, I think its going to be great.On a related brie note, when I make homemade macaroni and cheese, I always throw in whatever extra cheese is laying around. I've found a little leftover brie is my favorite extra cheese to add. It really makes in impact on the flavor.

image from products.peapod.com

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bistro Sun-dried Tomato Pasta

Here's a tasty pasta dish I found by lurking online. It's from Erica in Utah.


Ingredients

*4 C penne pasta

*1 C halved grape or cherry tomatoes

*1 4 oz. package crumbled feta cheese

*1 C Italian seasoned dressing (Dry packet of dressing, prepared. Not the bottled stuff.)

*1/3 C fresh basil leaves (torn)

*1/4 C chopped red onion

*1/4 C chopped sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil)

*2 chicken breasts cooked & cut into strips

Instructions

Toss together and enjoy hot or cold.

Favorita Pasta - Salad Part 2

For some reason, coming up with a favorite pasta was hard for me and its been a busy few weeks around here....

I make this pasta salad often and like any good recipe, it can be altered to suit your own tastes. Sometimes I add grilled chicken for some protein. Sorry, as usual I don't have specific measurements!

1 box bow tie pasta
a couple of tomatoes
1 can of garbanzo beans
feta
fresh spinach
kalamata olives (optional)
store bought greek salad dressing OR your own oil and vinegar and herb combo

Make pasta according to directions on box. Run cold water over the pasta after cooking and draining it. Chop tomatoes and feta into bite sized pieces and add them to the pasta along with the drained garbanzo beans and the kalamata olives. Mix with dressing. Tear fresh spinach and add it just before serving.

We got pasta!

Sara's favorite pasta salad
Mary's greekish roasted shrimp and orzo
My amatriciana
Camby's favorite pasta salad
Jennifer's bistro sun-dried tomato pasta

There's still time to add your favorite pasta, ladies! In the mean time, I tag Sara to pick this week's favorite recipe.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Favorite Pasta (Salad)

I've been obsessed with making different variations of this pasta salad recipe all summer. The dressing is so delish and it goes well with everything. I found it on the Food Network website (Food Network Kitchens Get Grilling, Meredith 2005).

Pasta Salad with Dill and Ham (or anything else you want to add!)

Ingredients
1/4 medium red onion, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus additional for salting water (I only use 1 tsp b/c 2 makes it way too salty, probably b/c I'm using regular salt rather than kosher)
8 ounces elbow macaroni (I prefer bowtie b/c it's prettier:)
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup sour cream (I use reduced fat)
6 ounces cooked ham, cut into 1&3-inch cubes (have substituted chicken but think the ham was better)
3/4 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
2 ribs celery, with leaves, diced (don't like celery so I skip it)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Directions
To mellow the minced onion, soak it in cold water while you make the salad.
Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil over high heat and salt it generously. Add the macaroni (bowtie) and boil, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the macaroni in a colander, put in a serving bowl, and toss with the milk. Allow the macaroni to cool slightly while you make the dressing.

For the dressing: Whisk the vinegar, mustard, the 2 teaspoons salt, and black pepper to taste in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, starting with a few drops and then adding the rest in a steady stream to make a smooth, slightly thick dressing. Whisk in the sour cream.
Drain the onions, pat dry, and add to the macaroni along with the ham, peas, celery, and dill. Add the dressing and fold to coat the pasta evenly. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Know-How: Why the milk? When we left it out of the recipe, the macaroni absorbed too much of the dressing and the salad was overly acidic. Adding just a couple tablespoons mellowed the dressing and gave the salad a wonderful old-fashioned quality without being goopy or heavy. (This is really true! I tried it one time without the milk and it did end up overly tangy tasty).

My Variations: Use the same dressing, pasta, and dill but substitute steamed asparagus and goat cheese for the ham, peas, celery. I used squash and zucchini with goat cheese one time too which was also delish - left those veggies uncooked.

Favorite Appetizer!

I have a few favorite apps. The Bean Dip that I posted awhile ago is one. Another is one that I got from my mom where she spreads chive cream cheese on slices of pastrami and rolls it up. So simple and delish! My recent favorite app is stuffed mushrooms, the recipe* follows:

24 medium mushrooms
6 tbsps margarine
1 small onion chopped
1/4 tsp garlic powder or 2 cloves garlic, minced
3oz goat cheese (may substitute cream cheese)
3tbsp grated parmesan
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or 2 tsp dried parsley (I usually skip this ingredient)
1 cup herb stuffing croutons (pepperidge farm is the best!)

Remove stems from mushrooms and chop enough to make 1 cup. Melt 2tbsp margarine in saucepan. Brush mushroom cap tops with margarine, place top side down in shallow baking pan and brush undersides of caps. Heat remaining margarine and add chopped mushroom stems, onion, and garlic and cook until tender. Stir in goat cheese until it melts. Add Parmesan cheese, parsley, and herb stuffing mix. Mix thoroughly and spoon about 1tbsp stuffing mix into each mushroom cap. Bake at 375 until heated through (12-15mins).

*I found this recipe online somewhere a long time ago but I have no idea where to reference it:)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Favorite Pasta: Bucatini All'amatriciana

This is from Bon Appetit and quite tasty. It is named after the town of Amatrice, not too far from Rome, where the sauce has long been prepared using the few ingredients that were always available: sun-ripened tomatoes, guanciale (salt-cured pork jowl), and a touch of firey peperoncino (dried hot chile). Bucatini All'amatriciana
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 ounces guanciale or unsmoked bacon, sliced, cut into 1x1/4-inch strips, divided (I use regular bacon, usually the Hormel black label.)
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 1-inch dried peperoncino or 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 pound cherry tomatoes, chopped (about 3 cups)
12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti
3/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese or Parmesan cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add half of guanciale and sauté until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer guanciale to paper towels to drain (do not clean skillet). Reserve for garnish.

Add 2 tablespoons oil to same skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and peperoncino; sauté until peperoncino darkens, about 2 minutes. Add onion and remaining guanciale; sauté until onion is translucent and fat has rendered from guanciale, about 10 minutes. Stir in vinegar; cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes; simmer 6 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to same pot.

Add tomato sauce and cheese to pasta and toss, adding some of reserved pasta cooking liquid if dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer pasta to bowl. Sprinkle with reserved guanciale and serve.

Photo from epicurious.com

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Roasted shrimp and orzo

This recipe is one of my 8 million favorite pasta dishes, very quick and well suited to modification (leave out what you don't like and substitute what you do).

Kosher salt
Good olive oil
3/4 pound orzo pasta (rice-shaped pasta)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
1 handful of fresh oregano
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
1/2 cup small-diced red onion
1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 handful of sundried tomatoes, chopped
feta cheese crumbled

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Whisk together the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper (I usually reduce the amount of oil and up the lemon juice but do what tastes good). Toss dressing with veggies and oregano. Cook orzo till al dente, drain, and add to the veggies.

Meanwhile, place the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic slices. Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer. Roast for 5 to 6 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through.

Toss shrimp and as much feta as you like with the pasta. This dish is great served warm or chilled in the summer.

Laura

Turned the big 3-0 this year. I don't do even 1/2 of the cooking at our house, my wonderful husband typically takes over - and it's always amazing. But, when I do ... it's quick, easy and typically pretty tasty.

Interests
creating stained glass
reading (mostly chick lit)
spending time outdoors
tailgating
working on our 100+ year old home
entertaining

Favorite Movies
All time favorite? The Cutting Edge. Well
it is the movie I have watched the most.

Favorite Music
Anything - seriously

Favorite Books
While I read a fair amount
I can't say any stand out recently

Laura, I just took from you profile, feel free to edit.

Mary

I just moved to the twin cities, woot! Camby and I go way back (think hammer pants and crunchy bangs), Ms. Amanda is my very dear friend in a can (courtesy of Camby), and now the rest of us can be recipe buddies! I am goofy, full of random trivia garbage, and in the process of building a new and improved life.

M-Dogg, feel free to add more, I just took from your profile.

We got Apps!

Here are our favorite appetizer recipes:

Bacon and Green Onion Tortilla Roll-ups
Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Vegetable Pizza
Asparagus Prosciutto Rolls
Fruit and Veggie Kebabs
Stuffed Mushrooms

Next up (chosen by Ms. Mary Smart, newly of the land of 10,000 lakes) is favorite pasta dish!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bacon and Green Onion Tortilla Roll-Ups

The secret to any great appetizer is cream cheese and a packet of ranch dressing mix. This appetizer is a testimony to that.

Ingredients
1 package flour tortillas
1 block of cream cheese
1 package dry ranch dressing mix
2 bunches of green onions (chopped)
2 jars of real bacon bits
1 package shredded cheese (I like sharp cheddar)

Instructions
Mix together the cream cheese and ranch dressing mix. Spread the mixture onto the tortilla shells. Sprinkle the green onions, bacon bits and shredded cheese on top. Roll up the tortilla shell. Repeat until you run out of ingredients. Refrigerate overnight. Cut the roll ups into bite-sized pieces. Eat a couple before you set them out for others. :) Then, eat a couple more. They are bite-sized after all.

The secret here really is the cream cheese and ranch dressing mix. Play around with the fixins as you see fit. I've had one with olives that was quite delicious.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

This dip is super easy and delicious but be sure to cook this dip in a preheated oven. If it warms slowly it tends to separate and get oily. Serve this dip on crackers, toasted Italian bread, or crunchy veggies.

1 drained can of water packed artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1 cup of mayonnaise (you can substitute cream cheese but I would advise against the use of miracle whip)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (use the good stuff not the green can)
1 box of frozen spinach, thaw and squeeze out as much liquid as possible
1 clove of garlic, minced fine

Combine all ingredients in a pretty and oven safe dish. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until bubbly.

Favorite App- basic & old school!

VEGETABLE PIZZA APPETIZER

2 pkg. crescent dinner rolls
3/4 c. mayonnaise
2 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
3 c. chopped vegetables: carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green pepper, green onion, tomatoes
1 c. grated sharp Cheddar cheese
I also like to add fresh herbs when I can- especially fresh dill

Unfold rolls flat onto large cookie sheet. Seal seams and press out as necessary to completely cover pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool.

Mix next 3 ingredients; spread on crust. Chop vegetables in blender or food processor. Drain well and spread over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle cheese over all. Chill. Cut into small pieces if used as an appetizer or can be served for a family dinner.

Serves 10 as appetizers.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Favorite Appetizer: Asparagus-Proscuitto Wraps

Okay, I actually have two. The first one is onion dip with ruffles. This is the second one.

Asparagus-Prosciutto Rolls
1/3 C vegetable oil
2T balsamic vinegar
1T Dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste
18 slices (about 3/4 lb prosciutto
1 log (5 oz.) goat cheese (I do brie instead)
36 6" stalks of asparagus, blanched
Whisk together oil, mustard and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Slice prosciutto in half lengthwise; spread each slice with cheese and roll around asparagus.

These are always a hit wherever I take them. Salty, crunchy and the dressing is so freaking good. Photo from here.

Favorite App - Fruit and Veggie Kebabs


(Running to the front of class so I can be the first to turn in my assignment)


There's not much of a recipe secret here but I always love doing (uncooked) fruit and veggie kebabs for an appetizer. We cut the wooden kebab sticks in half to make appetizer appropriate portions. Obviously any fruits and veggies can be used but for the fruit ones, I like using strawberries, pineapple and grapes. For veggies, I like using cherry tomatoes, yellow bell peppers and cucumbers and mushrooms.
Photo courtesy of http://www.dkimages.com

Favorite Recipes: Appetizers

Okay, lets start at the beginning of a good meal: appetizers. Since she was the most recent poster, I tag Mary to pick next week's category on Monday.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Weekly Favorites

So, I have an idea. What if we dedicate October to favorite recipes? Each week we can have a theme, like favorite appetizer or favorite soup, and then we (AHEM, Sara, Jennifer, Laura and Mary, Corie you get a pass since you didn't think you'd do much posting) will all post one recipe.

What do you think? Let me know.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pumpkin Pie Martinis

This recipe is from Rachael Ray's Everyday magazine

Ice cubes
2 ounces (1/4 cup) vanilla vodka
2 ounces (1/4 cup) crème de cacao
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Whipped cream, for garnish

1) Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add the vanilla vodka, crème de cacao, heavy cream and pumpkin pie spice and shake well.
2) Dip the rims of 2 martini glasses into a bowl of whipped cream. Strain the cocktail into the glasses.

I made this last year on Halloween when we had our friends Kyle and Kim over to dish out candy to the 5.5 children who showed up at our house. This year I'll be making a few tweaks.

1) I'm going to infuse the vodka with the pumpkin pie spice a few days ahead of time. Last time, the pumpkin pie spice just sort of sat in the bottom of the martini glass
2) I may just spray the whip cream directly on the glass. Dipping mean the whipped cream was all over the glass.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dark, tart and tasty

Kashi's Cherry Dark Chocolate chewy granola bars had me at hello. I'm a sucker for anything marketed under the Kashi brand, and these delicious granola bars keep me satisfied with a perfect mix of sweet and tart. Plus, they're full of fiber and other good-for-you ingredients. I've been eating one for breakfast for weeks now and I always feel powered up afterward.

Favorite cookbooks and recipe sources?

What are your favorite cookbooks and recipe sources? Here are mine:

Cookbooks
Everyday Italian
Barefoot Contessa at Home
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
75th Anniversary Joy of Cooking
Food Network Kitchen's Making it Easy
Creme de Colorado
I've just lately been getting into Lidia Bastianich's Italian American Kitchen

Other sources
Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine
Real Simple magazine
Cottage Living magazine
lots of blogs, lately its been the Pioneer Woman Cooks
Food Network web site

Mexican side dishes?

Next weekend we are going to Anthony's 10 year college reunion and I'll be making Pastor Ryan's Mexican lasagna for the crew. Its a big group, so I want to have some complementary side dishes. Anyone have any recipes to share?

Key Lime Cheeseball

I first had this cheeseball at Des Moines's winefest last year. I found it at our local grocery store and made it a few weeks ago for tailgating. It is really tasty and unique. You could eat it as an appetizer with savory crackers (like we did), or eat it for dessert with vanilla wafers or graham crackers. Now I want to try some of their other mixes, especially the cranberry orange.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Crock recipe with Chicken & Veggies

I found this recipe on msn and it sounded like a good blend of summer/fall flavors to me..I haven't tried it yet but hope to soon.

Chicken Edamame Chowder
Prep: 30 min. Makes: 6 to 8 servings
Cook: 7 to 8 hrs. in slow-cooker (low) or 3-1/2 to 4 hrs. (high), plus 20 to 30 min. (high)

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 12-ounce package frozen soybeans (edamame)
1 large green sweet pepper, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped*
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 14-1/2-ounce cans chicken broth
1 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese (optional)
Snipped fresh cilantro (optional)

1. Cook chicken in hot oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet until lightly brown. Combine the chicken, soybeans, sweet pepper, onion, jalapeno peppers, cumin, coriander, salt, and black pepper in a 3-1/2 or 4-quart slow cooker. Pour chicken broth over all. Stir to combine.

2. Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3-1/2 to 4 hours. crisp-tender.

3. If using low-heat setting, turn to high-heat setting. Combine sour cream and flour. Stir sour cream mixture and zucchini into chicken mixture using a wire whisk. Cover and cook for 20 to 30 minutes more or until mixture is thickened and zucchini is crisp-tender. Ladle into bowls; top with cheese and cilantro, if desired.

* Note: When preparing hot chile peppers, avoid burning your skin and eyes by wearing gloves or sandwich bags over your hands (good tip right?!). This way, your skin doesn't come in contact with the hot pepper oils. Also be sure to always wash your hands and nails thoroughly in hot, soapy water after handling the peppers.

Swedish Meatballs

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I could make Swedish meatballs from scratch. But why bother when McCormick does such a good job? Photo from McCormick.com

Friday, September 12, 2008

Chili

What's everyone's chili signature/secret? You know everyone does something unique with this wonderful fall and winter dish! I'm saving mine until I read some of yours... :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pastor Ryan's Mexican Lasagna

Do you ever look at a recipe and you just know, with every fiber of your being, that its really going to be good? That's how I felt about this recipe, Pastor Ryan's Mexican Lasagna.

I made it last night for dinner and it literally blew both of us away. So freakin' tasty. I think the salsa verde is the key. The recipe below is for a double recipe, but last night I just did a half (which still filled my lasagna pan). Here's the printable version of the recipe. FYI-the printable version forgets to add tortillas to the ingredient list.

I skipped adding the beans to the rice and served refried beans on the side.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Browned Butter

Joe and I have been making this Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Browned Butter from Cooking Light since it was originally in their September 2001 issue. Aaah, back when we were newlyweds! It is so easy and delicious. Tonight we made extra sauce and had it on our pork chops and brown rice too and it was great!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Strawberry Bread

Freezes well and also from my Creme de Colorado cookbook. I just made some today and didn't have enough strawberries, so I added some frozen blackberries as well. We'll see how it turns out.

Strawberry Bread
1 1/4 C vegetable oil
4 eggs
20 oz fresh strawberries (sliced) or unsweetened frozen strawberries, thawed and undrained
3 C flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 1/2 t cinnamon
2 C sugar
1 1/2 C chopped pecans (I omit)

Beat oil and eggs until fluffy. Add strawberries and mix well. Combine dry ingredients and add to egg mixture. Mix well. Stir in nuts if using. Pour batter into two greased loaf pans. Bake at 325 for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Favorite potatoes

Here's my recipe for one of my favorite kinds of potatoes. Its adapted from my mom's JoJo potato recipe. I like it mainly because I don't have to peel the potatoes.

Heat the oven to 375
Clean potatoes (however many you want), I usually use russets
Slice lengthwise both ways, then slice so pieces are approximately the same size
Place on cookie sheet with olive oil (enough to coat)
Sprinkle with Jane's crazy salt, fresh pepper and kosher salt
Cook for 10 minutes, then move them around with a spatula to release from the cookie sheet
Cook for another 10 minutes, repeat last step
Cook for 30 minutes without disturbing (this gives you a crispy, crunchy side)

We eat these for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Foods that intimidate you?

I am intimidated by roasting a whole chicken. I don't know why, its just not something I've done before and I just haven't worked up the nerve/desire to do it. Its probably not even that hard (so I've heard)!

Do you ladies have any foods that intimidate you?

My favorite meat :)

The cold air today had me frantically brainstorming some of the things I actually have to look forward to with all the long and dark and cold months ahead. I realized besides football, and pumpkin foods/drinks, pomegranate season would also be here soon! So here's one of my favorite meat dishes starring the fruit. It was the base of our Christmas dinner last year and I think I'll request it again this year!

Herbed Lamb Chops with Pomegranate Reduction
Perfect with a side of couscous.

Cooking spray
8 (3-ounce) lamb rib chops, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
3/4 cup pomegranate juice and seeds of 1 fresh pomegranate for garnish
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon water1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat broiler. Coat a foil-lined baking sheet with cooking spray. Place lamb on prepared pan. Sprinkle lamb evenly with 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and thyme. Broil 5 minutes on each side.

Combine juice, mustard, and honey in a small bowl. Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shallots and garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute. Stir in juice mixture; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 5 minutes).

Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl; stir until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in chives, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Serve with lamb.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 lamb chops and 2 tablespoons sauce)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A nice meat-free alternative!

I shared this recipe with Camby and Sara a while back but thought I would post it here too. Its a great alternative to burgers and very yummy with fresh veggies for a nice and healthy meal :) Oh and I baked the burgers in the oven versus frying them...

Chickpea Burgers & Tahini Sauce - 4 Servings
Rather than a heavy, fried falafel, here's an updated version of this pocket sandwich: a light chickpea patty served in a whole-wheat pita with a flavorful but light tahini sauce.

INGREDIENTS
1 19-ounce can chickpeas
4 scallions
1 egg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 6-1/2-inch whole-wheat pitas
1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS
To prepare burgers: Place chickpeas, scallions, egg, flour, oregano, cumin and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor. Pulse, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides, until a coarse mixture forms that holds together when pressed. (The mixture will be moist.) Form into 4 patties.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties and cook until golden and beginning to crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip and cook until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes more.

To prepare sauce: combine yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, parsley and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Divide the patties among the pitas and serve with the sauce.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sweet and Delicious Snack/Dessert/Breakfast


We've been eating a lot of yogurt parfaits lately for dessert or breakfast or just a little snack thanks to a certain three year old who loves them. Any kind of yogurt, topped with any kind of granola and any kind of berries! Can it get any easier than that?

Image courtesy of http://hiphostess.files.wordpress.com/


Friday, August 29, 2008

Pizza tricks

When I was growing up, Friday night was always pizza night. Its something we often have if we are home on Friday nights. Lately I've been trying to perfect my homemade pizza making technique. I love very thin, kind of crusty and chewy pizza with a minimal amount of toppings.I have recipes to make dough and I'm sure someday I'll do that more. For right now, I just pick it up at the gourmet grocery store that is on my way home from work. I don't use a pizza stone (cause I don't have one and also because I prefer it cooked on a cookie sheet). Here are my tricks I've learned along the way.

1) Grease the cookie sheet with PAM. I haven't always done this, but it helps
2) Turn the oven up as high as it can stand. I do this in an effort to recreate the woodfire pizza style of pizza. It cooks the pizza quicker and gives it a chewier crust and gets the cheese all golden-y
3) When heating the oven, place an oven safe casserole dish full of water in the oven and leave it in while cooking the pizza. This also adds to the woodfire pizza effect by adding steam, similar to how big sourdough loaves are baked. Its really makes a difference in the crust.
4) Brush olive oil on the crust before putting on the pizza sauce. I've tried olive oil on top and it just doesn't work
5) Use very little sauce (like 1/3 cup or two good sizes spoonfuls)
6) Grind fresh pepper on top of the made pizza
I wish I knew how to jeep basil from getting scorched when I make margherita pizza. Maybe I need to put it on later in the cooking process. What are your pizza tips?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Chicken Scampi

This one of my favorite go-to recipes. Its so easy. Its not necessarily low in fat, but its worth the calories.

Chicken Scampi
1/2 C butter
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C finely chopped green onions
1T minced garlic
juice of 1 lemon
2 lbs boneless, chicken breasts, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 C minced parsley
1 tomato, chopped
noodles or cooked rice

In skillet, heat together butter and olive oil and saute green onions and garlic. Add lemon juice, chicken, salt, pepper and parsley. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 5-8 minutes or chicken is done. Add tomatoes and heat through. Serve over noodles or rice (I usually do thin spaghetti.)

I got this recipe from my grandma and mom, who got it from this cook book. I've found Junior League cookbooks to be some of my favorites, and great if you want to cook by regional cuisine.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tailgating food?

Anyone have any good tailgating recipes or ideas? The college football season starts for us on August 30th (say what!). We have grills and coolers, and in the past have done BBQ chicken sandwiches, brats, hot dogs, Barry's awesome breakfast casserole (Laura's husband makes it), chili, chicken kebabs, taco dip, etc.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pork Chop Recipes?

Pork, it's what's for dinner tonight at my house...any good recipes so I can try something new?

Mmmmm, Caprese!


Is there anything better than Caprese salad in the summer? I don't think so and in fact, we've been having them two or three times a week. Gotta love the fresh basil plant we bought at the farmer's market and the deal on Mozzarella at Costco!



Photo courtesy of http://www.initaly.com/

Crunchy Avocado Salad

I know I'm not the only one who loves avocados! While cleaning the kitchen the other day after a long weekend of guests, I turned on the Food Network and saw Bobby Flay putting together this salad. It looked really good even though the combination of foods seems a little odd to me. Let me know if you try it!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fresh (& easy!) Peach Crisp

FRESH PEACH CRISP

1/2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. butter
10 med. peaches or 5 large
fresh lemon juice and zest

In mixing bowl combine oats, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Peel and core peaches- then slice and put into a baking dish. Squeeze half fresh lemon over peaches and add a bit of lemon zest to taste. Sprinkle oat mixture on top of fruit and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Banana bread

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes from my childhood.

Banana Bread
2/3 C butter (2/3 C=10 1/2 T)
1 2/3 C sugar
3 eggs
1 1/4 C mashed bananas (6 or 7)
2 1/4 C flour
1 1/4 t baking powder
1 1/4 t baking soda
1 t salt
2/3 C buttermilk (I use dry buttermilk)
2/3 C nuts (I skip the nuts)

Cream butter and sugar. Blend in eggs. Add bananas and mix well (I mash with a hand mixer). I always use very ripe, dark skinned bananas that I freeze until I'm ready to use them.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. I also add a liberal amount of cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves. If using dry buttermilk, you can add that to the dry ingredients and just use water in the next step.

Add dry mixture to flour, alternating with buttermilk. Stir in nuts if using. Pour into greased angel food pan (my mom's way) or bundt pan (my way). Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes.

This recipe freezes very well and travels well if you are visiting someone. We had it this weekend when we had out of town guests. YUM.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Perfect Summer Drink

Thank you Amanda! I've managed to make both the white and red sangria recipes you sent this weekend -- both are a party pleasers!

Since I didn't have all the fruit and/or items from the original recipes -- below are my altered versions.

White Sangria
bottle white wine (I used a cafe Zin)
1 lemon, 1 lime, cut into wedges
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/2 container of blueberries
bunch of green and red grapes halved
2 peaches pitted and sliced (my favorite fruit in this drink!)
2-3 cups ginger ale (to taste)
frozen lemonade concentrate
approx 1 cup brandy

Red Sangria
bottle red wine (I used a Shiraz - YellowTail)
1 lemon, 1 lime, cut into wedges
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/2 container of blueberries
bunch of green and red grapes halved
2 peaches pitted and sliced (my favorite fruit in this drink!)
2-3 cups ginger ale (to taste)
frozen OJ concentrate
approx 1 cup brandy
approx 1/2 cup triple sec

Be sure to let the sangria sit for awhile in the fridge before serving. And, to be completely honest -- you can reuse the fruit. I quickly ran out of the white sangria, so I made up a batch of the red with some of the remaining white sangria fruit. Honestly, anything goes with this tasty drink.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Oriental Salad

This is one of my favorite recipes from my mom. It's great any time of year -- but it especially hits the spot during the summer months.


1 bag of Cabbage
1 bunch of green onions
1 package of shaved almonds (2 1/4 oz)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon Accent
2 packages Ramon noodles...do not use the seasoning included in the package
Crush the bag of Ramon noodles

Mix all the above together in a large bowl

Mix together:
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Whisk well together and pour over cabbage and toss well. I also add a bit more rice vinegar to rinse out the bowl.

Chill and serve.

Strawberry Cheesecake Trifle

I was looking for a fancy, delicious treat to share with friends and family. This one sealed the deal - so quick and easy. And, oh so tasty. It's hard to belive -- but if there is any left over -- it's actually better the next day!

2 quarts strawberries, sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons almond extract
---
2--8 ounce blocks cream cheese, softened
1 C. sour cream
2 C. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. almond extract
16 ounce tub whipped topping or 1 pint cream, whipped (I've used strawberry whipped topping -- equally delicious)
1 large angel food or pound cake, torn into pieces (I prefer angel foo)
Preparation:Set aside some berries for garnish. Mix rest with sugar and almond extract. Set aside. Mix cream cheese, sour cream, powdered sugar, vanilla and almond extract. Fold in whipped cream.
In a trifle bowl: 1/2 cake, 1/2 berries, 1/2 cream cheese mixture, repeat layers. Garnish with remaining berries. Refrigerate.

Refrigerator Pickles

Just idea for a summer treat!

2 C Sugar
1 C Vinegar
1 T Celery Seed
1 T Salt
9 C Sliced Cucumbers
Sliced Onion (optional)
Sliced Green Pepper (optional)

This mix keeps in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

This week in meals

I have a confession to make. A large part of why I wanted to start a food blog is so I could better plan and manage the meals I make. Its really been working and this week I was quite proud of the planning and meal making that went on in our household. I know it sounds silly, but with all of the other things going in my life, I really needed to eliminate stress when it came to eats.

Here's what we had this week:
Saturday-BLTs for lunch, chicken gyros with tzatziki sauce, spinach squares and red grapes
Sunday-state fair (and Foreigner concert) fried pickles, cheese curds and nitro ice cream
Monday-Anthony grilled a steak, salad with balsamic vinegar dressing + a peach, leftover spinach squares and yogurt (the fair filled me up the night before)
Tuesday-turkey burgers on grilled country wheat bread (I used leftover tzatziki on mine), locally grown summer squash and zucchini sauteed with olive oil, onion, salt and pepper
Wednesday-slow roasted pork tenderloin rubbed with olive oil, sea salt, garlic and thyme, red grapes and Barefoot Contessa's vegetable slaw
Thursday-leftovers

All of these recipes were way easy and very tasty. I relied heavily on my Joy of Cooking cookbook this week, which is good for basics to expand on.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Carnivale's Mojito Recipe

For the drinkers of the group...

I went to a mojito class last night at a Cuban/Latino restaurant here in Chicago called Carnivale: http://www.carnivalechicago.com/. Supposedly they have been voted as having the best mojitos in town- now we can all be the judge!

For the seasonal fruit variety, we had a blueberry one and it was delish- perfect blend of sour and sweet!

8-10 mint leaves (remove stems)
1/2 lime quartered
1.5 oz. white rum
1 oz. simple syrup (use equal parts sugar & warm water- simmer until sugar dissolves)
club soda

In a highball glass, muddle limes and mint, then add rum and simple syrup.
Fill glass to top with ice and top off with club soda.
Pour all ingredients into a shaker and back into the highball glass. Serve with a straw and ENJOY!

For seasonal fruit flavored mojitos, use recipe as noted above but only use 1/2 oz of simple syrup and 1 oz. of fresh fruit puree (to be added before rum and simple syrup).

To make fresh fruit puree, stew your desired fruit over low heat with a bit of water. Once fruit is soft, drain any remaining water and blend into a syrup.

Vegetable Slaw

I had no idea there was a Barefoot Contessa web site with recipes! I made this last night from the Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook. I cheated and used a bag of pre-cut slaw, and I halved the dressing recipe since the bag was a 1lb bag and it was just the two of us. Very tasty!

Vegetable Coleslaw (serves 8 to 10)
1 pound white cabbage (1/2 small head)
3/4 pound red cabbage (1/2 small head)
5 carrots
2 cups good mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Fit a food processor with the thickest slicing blade. Cut the cabbages into small wedges and place horizontally into the feed tube. Process in batches. Next, fit the food processor with the grating blade. Cut the carrots in half and place in the feed tube so they are lying on their sides. Process in batches and mix in a bowl with the grated cabbages.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, vinegar, celery seeds, celery salt, salt, and pepper. Pour enough of the dressing over the grated vegetables to moisten them. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Placing the vegetables horizontally in the food processor ensures long shreds.The vegetables can be grated a day ahead and stored, wrapped in plastic, in the refrigerator. Keep the red cabbage separate, or it will turn the other vegetables pink.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What is your Favorite Seasoning?

This is mine. I use it on everything...well, maybe not everything but a lot of things. What's your favorite seasoning?













Image courtesy of http://www.foodservicedirect.com

Monday, August 11, 2008

Food substitution resource

I always call my mom when I have food substitution questions, but on Saturday I found this handy web site, called Cook's Thesaurus. I was make Camby's spinach squares and wanted to make sure I knew what would be a good brick cheese substitute if my grocery store didn't have it (they did).

Not only did I get the history of brick cheese, it also listed several substitutes. I love the internet (and the squares were delish!)

Nutella Ice Cream for Camby

Found this on a blog I read. Don't know if you guys have an ice cream maker, but thought I'd share...

Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, crushed, for garnish

In a saucepan combine the milk, cream, and 1/2 cup sugar over medium heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whip the egg yolks with the remaining sugar using an electric mixer until the eggs have become thick and pale yellow, about 4 minutes. Pour 1/2 cup of the warm milk and cream mixture into the egg mixture and stir. Add this mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Place a strainer over a medium bowl and pour the warm custard mixture through the strainer. Stir in the vanilla and hazelnut spread until it dissolves. Chill mixture completely before pouring into an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions to freeze. To serve, scoop gelato into serving bowls and top with hazelnuts.

Does cilantro taste like soap to you?

I read this article about cilantro the other day and thought it was very interesting. I never had any idea that cilantro tastes like soap or metal to some people! I guess I think of it like onions. I love the taste it adds, but I'm non-plussed by the actual vegetable itself. For me cilantro is what makes guacamole and fresh salsa so yummy, but I hate the smell of it and I don't like it when its on noodles.Read the article here. How about you ladies?

Photo from http://www.recipes.howstuffworks.com/

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Greek

All this talk of Greek food makes me want to make something Greek this weekend. Will you ladies share your some recipes? We'll be doing chicken this week(end).

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Easy and Healthy Dessert

I absolutely love fresh pineapple and could eat it everyday. So when some friends of the family had us over for dinner one night and dessert was a pineapple cake, I was excited to get the recipe. It turns out though there was no need to even write the recipe down because it is so simple.

Mix together one box of Angel food cake mix and one can of crushed pineapple. Bake in cake pan for 30 minuntes at 350 degrees.

You can then add a dollup of whip cream to the top of each serving for an easy light dessert. Strawberries would be great on top as well!

Summer = Mexican Food

While I love mexican food year round, I especially love it in the summer. Tonight I am trying a new super easy recipe because we bought a flank steak and I don't think I've ever cooked one before.

Shredded Beef for Fajitas
Flank Steak (You could also use chicken)
1 Sliced Onion
I Jar of Salsa
Fresh Cilantro

Cook all ingredients in a crockpit on low for 6 to 8 hours. Use forks to shred beef and enjoy with other fajita fixin's.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Corn Fritters

I just picked up some more corn at the market and found this recipe that I'm going to try tonight- I'll let you know how they are!

Corn and Shiitake Fritters
Sweet corn kernels take two different forms in these crispy cakes. Half the corn is pureed into the batter; the other half is sautéed with shiitake and onion to give the fritters crunch. Servings: 4 side-dish servings

INGREDIENTS
· 3 ears of corn, shucked
· 1 large egg
· 1/4 cup milk
· 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
· 3 large shiitake mushrooms (2 ounces), stems discarded and caps cut into 1/2-inch dice
· 1/4 cup diced sweet onion
· 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
· 1 teaspoon baking powder
· 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
· 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS
· Cut the corn kernels from the cobs and transfer half of them to a blender. Using the dull side of a knife, scrape the pulp from the cobs into the blender. Add the egg and milk; puree until smooth.

· In a very large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the shiitake and onion and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining corn and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Scrape the mixture onto a plate and freeze just until no longer hot, about 5 minutes.

· In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Stir in the puree, then fold in the corn kernels, shiitake and onion.

· Wipe out the skillet and add the remaining 1/2 cup of oil. When it is hot, add eight level 1/4-cup mounds of batter to the skillet and spread them to a 1/2-inch thickness. Fry over moderately high heat, turning once, until the fritters are golden and crusty, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve warm.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches

On Saturday I made chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches-it was definitely an exercise in trial and error, but a tasty one.

I made chocolate chip cookies (Nestle tollhouse recipe of course). Then I softened some Breyer's real vanilla ice cream and spread it on one cookie and put another one on top. I put them directly in the freezer and then wrapped them in parchment paper later. Things I learned for next time:

1) Totally freeze the cookies before adding ice cream. I made the mistake of using cooled, but not chilled or frozen cookies. The kitchen was still hot from the oven and even thought I threw them right in freezer, the ice cream melted all over the sandwiches.
2) Use a more generic vanilla ice cream. The real vanilla ice cream competed with the cookie a bit too much for my taste.
3) Make smaller cookies. This will be hard for me because I'm super lazy and make big cookies.
4) Use butcher paper to wrap the sandwiches. Nothing sticks to parchment paper, not even packing tape.

Photo from www.chocolatebytes.com

Potlatch seasoning

Okay ladies, we are venturing into cooking salmon tonight. I was originally going to do a recipe from my sister-in-law Colleen (salmon in foil with ginger, soy sauce, butter, green onions and pea pods) that I will just have to try another time. We doing it on cedar planks on the grill, with this yummy Potlatch seasoning from Williams-Sonoma. So good

Wishing Tree Wine




Well, the dinner party on Saturday turned out great. Along with the things I mentioned earlier we ended up making some Greek Chicken Kebabs so we had one meat option and then we made some Greek vegetarian stuffed peppers that were really good and pretty too since we used all colors of peppers! I meant to take a picture to post but completely forgot in all of the chaos of getting ready.


Some of our guests brought us a delicous bottle of wine so I wanted to share since I'm always searching out wine and just pretty much look for cute labels! It is Wishing Tree Unoaked Chardonay 2006. I won't even begin to try to explain it but you can read about it here.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Steak Fajita Marinade

My mom got this recipe for steak fajitas from a restaurant she used to go to when my grandparents lived in Texas. It's delish!

2lbs Skirt Steak
1/2 cup Italian Dressing
1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/3 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 Lime

Marinate overnight and then grill up for a yummy Southwestern specialty!

Friday, August 1, 2008

?

I'm making sangria for a shower/bachelorette party tomorrow night at my house and have bought strawberries, blueberries, and peaches for the fruit. I'm wondering if anyone has any expertise on the idea of soaking the fruit in the wine overnight? Most of the recipes recommend this but I'm wondering if that would be okay to do considering the types of fruit I'm using. I'm imaging the strawberries getting all slimy and gross from being chopped up...but maybe not. Any thoughts?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Standby salad dressing

I grew up having salad with just about every dinner. I didn't realize until I got older that not every family does. Most nights that I make salad, this is my standby vinaigrette. So easy and tasty.

2T olive oil
1 T good balsamic vinegar
hand cracked pepper
generous amount of Jane's Crazy salt (a staple in my family)
Shake it up for a minute or so (I use mini ball jars or old minced garlic jars so I can really shake the crap out of it without fear of salad dressing flying around my kitchen).
For the actual salad I do a mix of field greens or something similar and then slice up green onions. That's it! Well, last night I added a ripe peach and that was a fantastic addition.