Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Meatza Pizza

Andy contributed the title of this post. Inspiration for dinner last night came from November's make-your-own-pizza party. It was just Andy and I though, so I rolled the Publix pizza dough into a large pie and then spread the dough with sun-dried tomato pesto (yummy!) instead of tomato sauce. It baked at 450° for about 10 minutes. In the mean time, I cut up 5 bacon slices and cooked them until crisp. I also used my mandolin to thinly slice a semi-frozen (key for using the mandolin) link of Whole Foods Italian turkey sausage, which I threw in the skillet with the bacon pieces. After the crust came out of the oven, the meat was sprinkled over the pesto, and then the whole thing was topped with provolone cheese slices (maximum cheese coverage). The pizza baked at 400° for 15 minutes. I served it with Baby Blue Salad.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Citrus Bars

I have a lot of oranges because they are in season, so I decided to make these buttery bars that taste like sunshine. If you like lemon bars, you'll love these. The orange juice gives them a sweeter flavor.

Citrus Bars
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
Juice from 2 lemons
1 tsp. orange zest
Juice from 3 oranges
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; add 2 cups flour and powdered sugar. Beat until mixture forms a smooth dough. Press mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking pan. (I lined mine with parchment paper and then sprayed it with cooking spray. This allows me to lift out the bars and cut them into individual servings on the cutting board.)
2. Bake at 350° for 29 minutes or until lightly browned.
3. Meanwhile, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup flour, granulated sugar, and remaining ingredients; pour over baked crust.
4. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until set.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Mac and Cheese

This recipe is based on one from Barefoot Contessa. My niece Anna Claire told me that "it's the best I've ever had." She was quoting a movie, but I took it as a compliment. A food processor makes fast work of shredding the mountain of cheese.

Mac and Cheese
1 (16-oz.) box corkscrew-shaped pasta
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart milk (Tonight I used 3 cups skim milk combined with 1 cup heavy whipping cream.)
Salt and pepper
8 oz. Gouda, shredded
10 oz. white Cheddar cheese, shredded (I use Cracker Barrel brand.)
4 sourdough bread slices, processed into breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
2. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a large Dutch oven. Gradually sprinkle in flour, and cook 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, stirring until mixture thickens. Stir in salt and pepper. Gradually stir in cheeses. Pour in pasta, and stir to combine. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Combine breadcrumbs and melted 2 Tbsp. butter. Sprinkle over top of pasta mixture.
3. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Meat Loaf

Yes, you read the title correctly. I never liked meat loaf until I tried a recipe for it from Cooking Light a few years ago. It won me over to this comfort food classic. Since then, I've developed my own version. So even if you think you don't like it, you need to try this recipe. I served this with mac and cheese and green beans.

Meat Loaf
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped (optional)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. olive oil
1 1/2 lb. ground round
1 1/2 lb. ground pork
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs

1. Sauté onion and, if desired, celery in hot oil until softened. Add in garlic, and sauté 1 minute.
2. Combine ground beef and pork in a large bowl. (I use clean hands.) Mix in sautéed onion mixture, Dijon mustard, and next 8 ingredients. Shape mixture into a oval loaf. Spread a thin layer of ketchup over top of meat loaf. Place on a lightly greased rack in a broiler pan.
3. Bake at 375° for 50 minutes or until done. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Snickers Cookies

Sounds yummy, right? I found the recipe on and loved the ingredients list: butter, peanut butter, honey, miniature Snickers bars. However, the texture and flavor of the dough is lacking. I'm posting the original recipe here, but next time I'll omit the honey (you can't taste it) and use more sugar and butter. I'll also increase the amount of peanut butter and add in vanilla extract. The concept is good, but it needs some refining.

Snickers Cookies
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbsp. milk
24 miniature Snickers bars

1. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter and peanut butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat in honey and milk until well combined. Mold roughly 1 tablespoon of dough around candy, and place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.
2. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes.

Makes 24

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sugar-and-Spice Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes for my family's Christmas celebration. My cousin Jon was a big fan! This is the cover recipe for the December issue of Southern Living. The original, which starts with a cake mix, is for a two-layer cake, but I only make cupcakes. The frosting yield is too much for 24 cupcakes; I froze the remainder and will let you know if that works (it may affect the texture). *Freezing the frosting worked well. I thawed it for 24 hours in the refrigerator and stirred it really well before spreading on the cupcakes.*

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Baby Blue Salad

I've mentioned this salad before, but I wanted to remind you about it. It's great to serve company or for a weeknight supper. The recipe is available on When I make it, I use a mixture of romaine and Boston lettuces and baby spinach instead of the spring mix it calls for. I also usually substitute canned mandarin oranges, drained, for the sectioned oranges. The pecans are a tasty snack, so I often make a double batch. For a cool summer meal, the salad tastes great topped with grilled chicken. When I serve it to groups, I keep all the components separate because some folks don't care for blue cheese. The balsamic vinaigrette is the best one I've ever made. I usually keep a jar of it in the fridge during the summer because we eat salad so much.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Crème de Menthe Cake

Sorry, posting on my blog has taken a back seat to Christmas festivities and our family trip to Disney. I'm in the airport now on the way home, so I'm going to back-post some recipes from the week before Christmas. This cake is a favorite of my friend Sallie; I make it for her birthday each year. The credit for the recipe goes to my dear friend Kristin's mom, Dee. It is super easy and tastes like the holidays to me. Enjoy!

Crème de Menthe Cake
1 box white cake mix
1/2 cup crème de menthe, divided (You can use green or clear. If I use clear, I put a drop of green food coloring in the whipping cream mixture.)
1 jar hot fudge sauce (ice-cream topping)
1 pint whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar

1. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, adding 1/4 cup crème de menthe to the batter. Bake in a 13- x 9-inch pan. Cool completely.
2. Microwave hot fudge sauce in jar in microwave at HIGH for 30 to 40 seconds. Pour hot fudge over top of cooled cake, and spread in an even layer.
3. Beat whipping cream with an electric mixer, gradually adding sugar and remaining 1/4 cup crème de menthe. Beat until stiff peaks form. Spread over top of cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thai Chicken Noodle Bowl

For this dish, I combined the high points of two recipes: a Thai chicken casserole from Everyday Food and a Thai chicken soup from Cooking Light. Because I cooked the chicken breasts in the slow-cooker while I was at work, this recipe came together quickly. (It made a lot of leftovers for the freezer.)

Thai Chicken Noodle Bowl
8 oz. linguine
4 carrots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 broccoli stems, cut into florets
1 tsp. olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
1 can lite coconut milk
2 tsp. red curry paste
1/2 tsp. dried ginger
1 tsp. dried cilantro or 1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro
Juice from 1 lime
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
2. Sauté carrots and next 3 ingredients in hot oil until vegetables are tender. Stir in chicken broth and next 6 ingredients; stir in salt and pepper to taste. Stir in linguine.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

This appetizer is one that we used to eat a lot about five years ago, but we haven't had it in a long time. I decided to make it to take to my grannie's for our family Thanksgiving dinner and then for a Christmas card-addressing party (Such a fun idea! Thanks, L!) that I went to last night. I served it with pita chips; bagel chips and tortilla chips also taste great!

Spinach-Artichoke Dip
I almost always grate my own cheese, but this dip works just as well with preshredded cheese.
2 small jars artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 box frozen spinach, thawed, rinsed, and thoroughly drained (This gets out the bitterness that frozen spinach often has.)
1 (8-oz.) box cream cheese
1 (8-oz.) bag shredded Italian cheese blend
1 tsp. minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (4-oz.) bag shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Combine artichoke hearts, spinach, and cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Stir in shredded Italian cheese, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread into a baking dish. (I use a 9-inch pie plate.) Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese.
2. Bake at 350° for 20 to 30 minutes or until cheese melts and dip is thoroughly warm.