Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Gingerbread With Rum-Soaked Raisins

This recipe is a variation of one from Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics. I made a few changes based on what I had on hand. It comes together in a snap and smells like the holidays. Yummy!
1/4 cup dark run
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup butter
1 cup unsulfured molasses
1 cup sour cream
Zest from 1 orange
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1 cup powdered sugar
Juice from 1 orange

1. Combine rum, raisins, and next 2 ingredients in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, until butter melts and mixture is combined. Pour into a mixing bowl. Add in sour cream and next 7 ingredients. Beat until mixture is smooth and creamy. Pour into a lightly greased 8-inch-square pan.
2. Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until done. Remove from oven, and allow to cool completely.
3. Stir together powdered sugar and orange juice. Pour over top of cooled gingerbread. Cut into squares to serve.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fresh Tomato Marinara Sauce

This recipe started with an experiment. One day this summer, I had a ton of tomatoes that had ripened at the same time and needed to do something with them fast. Canning wasn’t a timely option, so I decided to chop them up (no peeling) and freeze them. This morning, I sautéed onions and garlic and then added the frozen tomatoes to make a quick marinara sauce. A friend had given me a few green tomatoes this weekend, and I decided to chop and stir them in—they brighten the flavors of the frozen tomatoes. A quick puree with the immersion blender got rid of the pesky peels.

Fresh Tomato Marinara Sauce
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Black pepper
Crushed red pepper
Fennel seeds
1 gal. chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1. Sauté onions and garlic in hot oil for 10 minutes or until onions are tender. Stir in salt and next 5 ingredients, and cook 1 minute. Add in the tomatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Use immersion blender to puree until smooth.  Stir in balsamic vinegar. Taste and add more seasonings, if necessary.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cashew-Crusted Chicken

This recipe would also be delicious with pecans or almonds.
3/4 cup cashews, chopped
1 cup toasted breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
Zest from 1 lemon
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp. cornstarch
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 lb. chicken breast tenderloins
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Combine cashews, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper in a pie plate. Combine egg and next 2 ingredients in another pie plate. Dip chicken in egg mixture, and then dredge in cashew mixture, coating thoroughly. Place chicken on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken tenderloins. Chill chicken in fridge for 30 minutes.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Cook chicken 4 to 5 minutes per side or until crisp, golden, and done. Serve immediately.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Best-Ever Blondies

I love blondies and am always trying to improve my recipe. This variation is unusual because you melt the butter before stirring it into the brown sugar. It’s very simple (no mixer required) and absolutely delicious! These have butterscotch morsels, but you can use whatever chocolate-fruit-candy combination you like.
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp. almond extract
Pinch of salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 bag butterscotch morsels

1. Combine melted butter and brown sugar; stir until smooth. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Stir in salt and flour. Stir in flavor options. Pour into a lightly greased baking pan.
2. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until set in the middle. Cool completely on rack before cutting into squares.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pumpkin Stuffed Shells

Definitely try this recipe—even if you think it sounds weird! The pumpkin puree adds heft to the ricotta mixture, and you won’t miss the meat! This recipe has more pumpkin than the original. I served this at our church potluck today to rave reviews.
1 (12-oz.) box jumbo pasta shells
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 (15-oz.) cans pure pumpkin (about 1 1/2 cups pumpkin)
2 cups (16-oz.) ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 to 3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage
Salt and pepper
1 (25-oz.) jar marinara sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook shells according to package directions. Drain and allow to cool.
2. Combine olive oil, pumpkin, and next 7 ingredients. 
3. Pour marinara sauce into bottom of a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Stuff shells with pumpkin mixture, and arrange on top of sauce in dish. Sprinkle stuffed shells with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Cover with aluminum foil.
4. Bake, covered, at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Blackberry Oven-Baked Pancake

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. sugar
3 eggs
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pint fresh blackberries
Maple syrup

1. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients. Stir in eggs and next 3 ingredients. Stir in blackberries. Pour mixture into a lightly greased baking dish.
2. Bake at 425° for 12 to 14 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve with warm maple syrup.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Spinach-and-Feta Pie

This is a variation on the Greek spanakopita from Cook’s Illustrated The Best International Recipe. It is labor intensive, but the taste is worth it!
1 lb. feta, crumbled
1 1/2 cups ricotta
4 eggs
2 Tbsp. dried dill
8 green onions, minced
Juice from 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 tsp. salt
Pinch of pepper
30 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
Olive oil
1/2 lb. (14- x 9-inch) phyllo, thawed in fridge 24 hours
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Combine feta and next 9 ingredients in a bowl. Stir in spinach until thoroughly combined.
2. Lightly brush a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with olive oil; place 1 phyllo sheet in dish. Brush thoroughly with oil, and repeat procedure with 7 sheets of phyllo. Spread half of spinach mixture evenly over phyllo. Cover with 4 additional sheets of phyllo, brushing each with oil.
3. Spoon remaining spinach mixture evenly over phyllo. Cover with 7 more sheets of phyllo, brushing each with oil and sprinkling Parmesan cheese over each (do not sprinkle cheese on top layer). Press phyllo down with hands to release any air pockets. Lightly score top in squares for serving with a sharp knife.
4. Bake at 400° for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Cut into squares, and serve.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Chocolate Sheet Cake

2 cups butter, divided
8 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa, divided
1 cup boiling water
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1tsp. vanilla
1 cup butter
6 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (16-oz.) box powdered sugar

1. Melt 1 cup butter in the microwave; stir in 4 Tbsp. cocoa. Add in boiling water. Stir in flour and next 2 ingredients. Stir together buttermilk and next 3 ingredients. Stir buttermilk mixture into chocolate mixture. Pour into a lightly greased half-sheet cake pan.
2. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, melt remaining 1 cup butter in microwave. Stir in remaining 4 Tbsp. cocoa. Stir in milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Pour over warm cake. Cool and cut into squares.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Zucchini-Feta Fritters

This recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated The Best International Recipe. The key to crispy fritters is squeezing all the liquid from the zucchini. These are terrific served hot or at room temperature.
1 lb. zucchini, trimmed
1 tsp. salt
8 oz. feta, crumbled
2 green onions, minced
2 tsp. dried dill
2 eggs
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Canola oil
1 lemon, cut into wedges

1. Shred zucchini with a box grater or with the shredding disk of a food processor. Toss zucchini with salt. Let stand in a colander for 10 minutes. Place zucchini in a kitchen towel, and squeeze thoroughly to remove as much liquid as possible.
2. Combine zucchini, feta, and next 6 ingredients. Heat oil to depth of 1 inch in Dutch oven. Scoop  batter into hot oil, and press lightly with spoon. Cook, in batches, 3 minutes per side or until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Squeeze with lemon juice before serving.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Shredded Pork-and-Tomatillo Tostados

6 corn tortillas (homemade or purchased)
Pinto beans
Shredded pork
Roasted tomatillo salsa
Shredded cheese
Chopped lettuce
Chopped tomatoes
Sour cream

1. Layer tortillas with beans, pork, salsa, and cheese.
2. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until heated and cheese melts. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Slow-cooker Shredded Pork

This is a simple way to cook a Boston butt. I will make one, divide the meat in one-meal portions, and put in the freezer. Then whenever we want loaded baked potatoes, nachos, or whatever, I pull out a bag and thaw. Dinner is ready in a snap!
2 onions, cut into thick slices
1 Boston butt
Salt and pepper
1 can chipotles in adobo sauce
1 bottle beer

1. Line the bottom of the slow-cooker with onion slices. Place the pork on top of onions; sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Put chipotles over top of meat, and pour in beer. Cover with lid, and cook on LOW for 8 hours or until meat is done and tender.
2. Allow to cool slightly. Remove bone, and shred meat. Divide evenly among zip-top plastic bags, and freeze.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pasta, Pesto, and Peas With Grilled Chicken

1 1/2 lb. bowtie pasta
1 1/2 cups pesto
Zest and juice from 2 lemons
3/4 mayonnaise (I use a little less than this.)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/3 cup pinenuts, toasted
1 lb. chicken, grilled and cut into chunks

1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
2. Combine pesto, lemon zest and juice, and next 4 ingredients. Toss with pasta and grilled chicken. Serve at room temperature, or chill until ready to serve.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Banana Pudding

3 cups milk
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 medium-size ripe banana
1 package vanilla wafers
2 cups sweetened whipped cream

1. Whisk together first 4 ingredients in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, 15 to 20 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla until butter is melted.
2. Fill a large bowl with ice. Place saucepan in ice, and let stand, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes or until mixture is thoroughly chilled.
3. Meanwhile, cut bananas into 1/4-inch slices. Break cookies into thirds.
4. Spoon half of pudding mixture into a 3-qt. bowl or pitcher. Top with bananas and cookies. Spoon remaining pudding mixture over bananas and cookies. Top with sweetened whipped cream. Cover and chill 2 to 24 hours.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Zucchini Gratin

I probably repost this every summer, but it’s a terrific way to use an abundance of zucchini.
6 Tbsp. butter
2 onions, chopped
6 zucchini, sliced into circles
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces
1. Melt butter in a large skillet; add onions and zucchini, and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Stir in flour, and cook 1 minute. Gradually add in hot milk, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour mixture into a 13- x 9-inch pan lightly coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over zucchini mixture; dot butter pieces along top.
2. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Buttermilk Ice Cream

My friend, Jamie, discovered this recipe on I try to tell myself that store-bought ice cream is as good as homemade, but that’s a lie. The original recipe calls for 12 egg yolks; I only used 6, which worked well. When I first served this, we made peach sundaes—homemade shortbread cookies, buttermilk ice cream, sliced fresh peaches, and homemade caramel—but the ice cream is delicious by itself.

Buttermilk Ice Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 egg yolks
2 cups buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt

1. Combine cream, milk, and 1 cup sugar in a heavy saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
2. Whisk together egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar in a bowl.
3. Remove cream mixture from the heat, and slowly whisk a small amount into the yolks, whisking constantly. Continue whisking in small amounts of cream mixture until all is combined.
4. Return mixture to stovetop, and cook over low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the mixture, and whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, and salt. Cool completely.
5. Pour mixture into the bowl of a 1 1/2-qt. electric ice-cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Apple Dumplings

I used homemade pastry, but refrigerated pie crusts will work as well. These dumplings are great with ice cream for dessert or alone for breakfast.
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 round pastry
2 apples, cored and cut into slices
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

1. Heat brown sugar and butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring often, until butter melts and sugar begins to dissolve. Remove from heat, stir in cream and vanilla, and cook, stirring often, until mixture is smooth.
2. Roll out pastry, and cut into 3-inch circles. Wrap pastry around apple slices, pinching edges to seal. Place in a baking dish, and pour caramel over apple slices. Combine sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle over apple slices.
3. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until done. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Grilled Cinnamon-Cream Cheese Sandwiches

1 (8-oz.) block cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Cinnamon bread slices
1/4 cup melted butter

1. Stir together cream cheese and next 3 ingredients. Spread on one side of bread slices. Make sandwiches, cream cheese sides together, with bread slices. Brush outsides of sandwiches with melted butter, and grill on both sides until bread is golden. Serve immediately.
Note: Leftover cream cheese mixture can be stored in an airtight container in fridge for up to 1 week.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Recipe Rewind: Blue Cheese Mac and Cheese

2 bacon slices, chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
4 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
2 oz. crumbled gorgonzola cheese
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup toasted chopped pecans
Salt and pepper
8 oz. cooked pasta
Homemade breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

1. Cook bacon until crisp; drain. Wipe pan clean, and melt butter. Sprinkle in flour, and cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk; cook, whisking often, until mixture is thickened. Stir in cheeses, nutmeg, and pecans. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in pasta and cooked bacon. Pour mixture into a baking dish. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over top, and drizzle with melted butter.
2. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Homemade Potato Chips

These take time, but it’s totally worth the effort.
2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes
Canola oil
Salt and pepper

1. Thinly slice the potatoes using a mandolin. Place potato slices in a large bowl, and cover with ice water. Allow them to soak for an hour. Drain potatoes, and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels.
2. Heat about 2 inches canola oil in a Dutch oven. Fry potatoes, in batches, until golden and crisp; drain on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Roasted Potatoes With Blue Cheese

This pairs perfectly with grilled steak.
6 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into cubes
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 cooked and crumbled bacon slices
1 tsp. fresh thyme
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1. Toss potatoes with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
2. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
3. Toss warm potatoes with blue cheese and remaining ingredients. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fried Ravioli With Simple Tomato Sauce

Serve with Caprese salad and bread.
1 onion, chopped
Olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
Salt and pepper
1 package frozen cheese ravioli
Canola oil

1. Sauté onion in hot oil, stirring often, 10 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in garlic, and cook 1 more minute. Stir in balsamic vinegar and next 3 ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Use immersion blender to puree mixture until smooth. Simmer for 5 more minutes.
2. Meanwhile, pour 1 inch canola oil into bottom of Dutch oven. Heat oil, and fry ravioli, in batches, until they begin to turn golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with tomato sauce.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Chicken-Fried Steak

1 package cube steak
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. cornmeal
Canola oil

1. Sprinkle both sides of cube steak with salt and pepper. Combine flour, cornmeal, and salt and pepper to taste. Dredge cube steak in flour mixture.
2. Heat oil to cover bottom of a Dutch oven. Cook steaks, turning once, until done (about 8 minutes).

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Loaded Mashed Potatoes

2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into cubes
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
4 slices chopped bacon, cooked
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook potatoes in water to cover in a large Dutch oven until tender. Drain and return to pot. Stir in butter and next 3 ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pecan Pancakes With Caramelized Apples

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Caramelized Apples

1. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients in a mixing bowl. In another bowl, combine buttermilk and next 3 ingredients. Gradually add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring just until combined.
2. Scoop 1/4-cupfuls of batter onto a hot grill pan or griddle. Cook until bubbles form on surface and edges look dry. Turn over pancakes and cook 2 minutes. Serve warm with caramelized apples.

Caramelized Apples:
1/4 cup butter
2 apples, halved, cored (I use my handy melon baller), and sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1. Melt butter in a large skillet. Stir in apples and remaining ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes or until apples are very tender and liquid resembles syrup. Serve over pancakes.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Butterscotch Blondies With Caramel Frosting

This is my new favorite dessert! The recipe is from Pastry Queen Parties cookbook, which I recently bought at my cheap book source, Mike’s Merchandise Mart in Huntsville. I love blondies and knew that the caramel frosting would really set these apart. You bake them in a half-sheet pan, so there is a enough for a crowd. The taste is so buttery, with just the right combination of sweet and salty. Definitely make these—enjoy!

Butterscotch Blondies With Caramel Frosting
1 cup butter, softened
5 cups brown sugar, divided
4 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup butter
1 (16-oz.) box powdered sugar
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 Tbsp. vanilla

1. Beat 1 cup softened butter and 3 cups brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until blended after each addition. Add in vanilla. Combine flour and next 2 ingredients. Gradually add to butter mixture. Add in pecans. Spread mixture in a lightly greased half-sheet pan.
2. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until done. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
3. Place 1 cup butter and remaining 2 cups brown sugar in a saucepan, and cook over medium heat until mixture begins to boil. Turn heat down to medium-low, and cook, stirring often, for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat, and cool slightly.
4. Beat powdered sugar, cream, and vanilla with an electric mixer until creamy. Pour in the caramel mixture, and beat until smooth. Spread frosting over top of cooled blondies. Let stand 30 minutes before cutting into squares.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chicken With Broccoli and Carrots

My sister made something similar to this dish a couple of weeks ago. She and her husband really liked it (full disclosure: her daughter AC didn’t, but she’s hard to please), so I decided to make it from memory. How can you go wrong with chicken, bacon, carrots, and broccoli? Andy and I ate it over pasta. Another idea: Thin out the mixture with additional chicken broth, and you have a terrific soup. Enjoy!

Chicken With Broccoli and Carrots
3 bacon slices, chopped
1 onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
3 carrots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. chicken, cut into chunks
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried tarragon
2 cups broccoli florets
2 oz. cream cheese
2 cups chicken broth
Hot cooked pasta

1. Cook bacon in a hot Dutch oven until crisp; remove from pan. Sauté onion and carrots in bacon drippings 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, and cook 1 more minute. Stir in chicken; season with salt and pepper. Stir in thyme and tarragon. Cook for 10 minutes or until chicken is done. Stir in broccoli, cream cheese, and chicken broth. Cook for 10 more minutes or until done; stir in bacon. Serve over pasta.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Moroccan-Style Chicken Stew

I was looking for a new way to cook chicken and came across this recipe in my Cook’s Illustrated The Best International Recipe cookbook. My dish is a little different from the original because I added a can of tomatoes and made a few seasoning changes. Also, I used boneless chicken tenderloins, which cook much faster. The flavor is warm and slightly spicy, with a little acidity from the tomatoes and lemons. We ate ours over bulghur that I cooked like couscous. On the side we had naan, hummus, and Greek yogurt.

Moroccan-Style Chicken Stew
Olive oil
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. dried cilantro
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 lb. chicken breast tenderloins
Salt and pepper
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp. honey
1(15-oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced

1. Place oil in a Dutch oven, and sauté onions for 5 minutes or until slightly tender. Stir in garlic, and cook 1 minute. Combine paprika and next 5 ingredients. Place chicken in pot with onion mixture, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and half of paprika mixture. Cook chicken for 2 minutes, and then turn over. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and remaining paprika mixture; cook 1 minute. Stir in lemon zest and juice, broth, and next 3 ingredients. Top with lemon slices. Cover pot with lid, and place in oven.
2. Bake at 300° for 1 hour. Serve chicken mixture over bulghur or couscous.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Peanut Butter-and-Chocolate Rice Krispies Treats

3/4 cup peanut butter
6 cups crisped rice cereal
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup cream

1. Melt butter in a large pot. Stir in marshmallows and peanut butter until smooth. Stir in cereal and peanut butter chips. Spread mixture into a lightly greased pan.
2. Combine chocolate chips and cream, and microwave on HIGH for 1 minute. Stir and microwave for 30 more seconds or until mixture is smooth and glossy. Spread over top of cereal mixture. Allow to cool completely, and cut into squares.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Irish Soda Bread

It has been brought to my attention that I need to update the techniques and recipe for making this old-fashioned recipe. (Tweaking recipes over time is definitely one of my issues as a cook.) Usually, I divide the batter between two (9-inch) cake pans. However recently I made it as muffins for a Grace’s Kitchen breakfast and really liked it that way. Andy is a purest, so here is how to make his favorite breakfast bread.

Irish Soda Bread
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. butter, cut into cubes
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract (optional)
1 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries or raisins

1. Place flour and butter into bowl of a stand mixer. Use the paddle attachment to incorporate the butter into the flour. The mixture will look slightly damp and somewhat clumpy (see photo at right). Beat in sugar and next 3 ingredients. Combine buttermilk, egg, vanilla, and, if desired, almond extract; gradually add to flour mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in dried cherries. Divide batter into 2 lightly greased 9-inch cake pans.
2. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until done.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Grapefruit-Avocado Slaw

I needed a fresh side dish to serve with the salmon we were having for dinner. Because it’s the end of the month, there wasn’t much to chose from. So I used cabbage, avocado, and grapefruit to make a new variation of coleslaw. We really love this recipe, which served as my inspiration. The dressing couldn’t be simpler; I substituted grapefruit juice for the orange juice. If you don’t like the bitterness of grapefruit, orange sections would be a delicious.

Grapefruit-Avocado Slaw
1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
1 grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
1 avocado, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
Orange Vinaigrette

1. Combine cabbage, grapefruit, and avocado in a bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over cabbage mixture; toss to coat.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Carrot Cake Trifle

Our friend David requested carrot cake cupcakes for his dessert of the month for February. The recipe I used is from the Junior League of Morgan County, Alabama’s Cotton Country Cooking. This gem of a cookbook was given to me as a wedding gift 17 years ago by a friend of my mother-in-law. This sweet lady had made a carrot cake for my bridal tea and I had raved about it—and she gave me the book so I could make it myself. I’ve made this cake many times over the years, but for some reason it stuck to my muffin pans. As a result, I had a ton of crumbly carrot cake on my hands. My solution: Layer the cake with cream cheese frosting in a glass bowl to make a trifle.

Carrot Cake
1 1/2 cups canola or vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
4 carrots, finely grated (3 cups)

1. Beat oil and sugars with a mixer until combined. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until blended after each addition. Add in vanilla.
2. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients. Gradually beat into oil mixture until blended. Stir in carrots. Scoop batter in to lightly greased cake pans.
3. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until done. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans, cool completely on wire racks.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 (8-oz.) blocks cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (16-oz.) box powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla paste or extract

1. Beat cream cheese and butter with a mixer. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until mixture achieves spreading consistency. Stir in vanilla.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Homemade Croutons

These are great on salads, soups, or as a snack.
1/4 cup butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Crusty bread, cut into cubes
Salt and pepper

1. Melt butter in oil in a large skillet. Stir bread cubes into butter mixture; season with salt and pepper. Cook bread cubes over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until golden and crisp.

Recipe Rewind: Beer-Cheese Soup

This hearty soup hit the spot for dinner tonight, because it’s been dreary and cool and drizzly for days! I first posted the recipe more than two years ago and decided to revisit it. It is absolutely delicious, and the leftovers freeze well. The croutons take it over the top. Definitely make this soup!

Beer-Cheese Soup
4 bacon slices, cut into small pieces
2 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 celery ribs, thinkly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 (12-oz.) bottle beer (I used Blue Moon.)
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
1 lb. Cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste
Homemade Croutons

1. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven until done; drain on paper towels. Reserve 1 Tbsp. bacon drippings in Dutch oven, and add in butter. Once butter melts, sauté onion and next 2 ingredients for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add in garlic, and cook 1 more minute. Stir in flour, and cook, stirring often, 1 more minute. Gradually add in ale and next 3 ingredients; cook until mixture begins to thicken. Use an immersion blender to puree mixture until smooth. Stir in cheese, and cook until melted and combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with bacon and croutons just before serving.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Blueberry Cobbler

This is the easiest dessert recipe ever! Substitute any type of frozen fruit you like—cherries, mixed berries, peaches. Fresh fruit would probably work well in season, but during this gray time of year, frozen works beautifully. (To serve a crowd, double the recipe and bake it in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.) Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream would be a tasty partner. Enjoy!

Blueberry Cobbler
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla
Zest of 1 lemon
2 cups frozen blueberries

1. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients. Pour into a lightly greased pie plate. Sprinkle frozen blueberries on top of batter.
2. Bake at 350° for 1 hour.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Risotto Cakes With Simple Tomato Sauce

Today’s potluck theme was Italian. I wanted to make something different and developed the idea for this recipe. I used my basic risotto recipe but added some chopped cooked bacon and fresh herbs to it right at the end of the cooking process. Then I spread the mixture in a sheet pan to chill overnight in the fridge. The next morning before worship, I formed the risotto into patties, dredged them in beaten egg and breadcrumbs, and sautéed them with a little olive oil and butter. The results were delicious!

Risotto Cakes With Simple Tomato Sauce
Make the risotto the day before serving to allow time to chill the mixture.
Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth
2 (32-oz.) cartons chicken broth

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 thick-cut bacon slices, chopped and cooked
Salt and pepper to taste

2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. milk
2 cups breadcrumbs
4 Tbsp. butter
Simple Tomato Sauce

1. Sauté onion in hot oil for 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in rice, and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in wine; cook until wine is absorbed. Stir in 1 cup chicken broth, and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is absorbed. Gradually add in remaining chicken broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring regularly until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Stir in herbs, Parmesan cheese, and bacon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Spread risotto onto an aluminum foil-lined sheet pan, and refrigerate overnight.
3. Combine eggs and milk in a pie plate. Place breadcrumbs in another pie plate. Shape chilled risotto into patties, and dredge in egg mixture and then breadcrumbs.
4. Heat olive oil and 2 Tbsp. butter in a skillet. Cook risotto cakes in batches, using additional oil and butter, until golden and crisp on both sides (about 4 minutes per side). Serve warm with tomato sauce.

Simple Tomato Sauce:
1 onion, chopped
Olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

1. Sauté onion in hot oil, stirring often, 10 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in garlic and next 2 ingredients, and cook 1 more minute. Stir in tomatoes and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Use immersion blender to puree mixture until smooth. Simmer for 5 more minutes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Chili Verde Cheese Fries

This is my current favorite quick-fix meal. All you need are some frozen french fries, a little chili (I keep a stash of this tasty recipe in quart-size bags in the freezer), and shredded cheese. Simply cook the fries in the oven until crisp, spoon chili over the top, and sprinkle with cheese. Then bake it at 400° for 10 minutes or until the chili is warm and the cheese melts. Serve with a dollop of sour cream. Yummy!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Grape Tomato-and-Onion Sauté

Tonight I needed a quick side dish that required minimal ingredients. As I dug around in the fridge, I found a red onion half and about a cup of grape tomatoes that needed to be eaten—that gave me an idea. After thinly slicing the onion, I sauté it in a little olive oil to caramelize it. Then I stirred in some minced garlic and the tomatoes, and let them cook until they broke down. A splash of balsamic vinegar and some salt and pepper were all that was needed to make this a delicious side. The texture of the tomato mixture reminded me of jam and would be terrific as an appetizer spread on crostini. The tomato dish was served with oven-fried tilapia and grits. Enjoy!

Grape Tomato-and-Onion Sauté
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
Olive oil
1 garlic cloved, minced
1 cup grape tomatoes
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1. Sauté onion in hot oil over medium-low heat for 15 minutes or until onion begins to soften and turn a light caramel color. Turn heat to medium. Stir in garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Add in tomatoes, and cook, stirring often, for 5 to 10 minutes or until tomatoes begin to pop. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in balsamic vinegar. Cook for 5 more minutes, slightly mashed the tomatoes as you stir.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Creamy Chicken-and-Rice Soup

The inspiration for this soup came from the chicken-and-veggie mixture that I make for chicken pot pie (this was originally what I had planned to make for dinner). After sautéing the veggies and making the velouté sauce (the flour-thickened broth mixture), I decided to add in more chicken broth and some rice to turn it into a soup. It seemed like just the thing for a cold winter night. Enjoy!

Creamy Chicken-and-Rice Soup
1/4 cup butter
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 celery ribs, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
2 tsp. herbs de Provence
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 (32-oz.) cartons chicken broth, divided
1 lb. chopped cooked chicken or turkey
1 (10-oz.) box frozen green peas
2 cups rice

1. Melt butter in Dutch oven. Add chopped onions and next 2 ingredients, and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 15 minutes. Add in garlic, and cook 1 minute. Stir in salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence. Stir in flour, and cook 2 minutes. Gradually whisk 4 cups chicken broth into flour mixture; cook, stirring often, until mixture is thickened. Stir in chicken, peas, rice, and remaining 6 cups chicken broth. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 25 to 30 minutes or until rice is cooked through. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Chicken and Waffles

Andy and I are members of a house church that meets in our neighborhood. This is definitely a new experience for us, but God has been faithful to show us this is where we belong. Because we meet in homes, we have the privilege of eating a potluck meal together each week. This is our month to host our group, which means that I plan the theme for the meals. One of our friends suggested we have chicken and waffles today. Several folks signed up to make waffles, and we had traditional slightly sweet ones as well as some savory beer-flavored ones. My contribution was the fried chicken. I had planned to make my usual recipe but replaced the panko with a little cornmeal in the flour dredge. The texture of the cornmeal was a delightful addition. Everyone agreed that the chicken-and-waffle experiment was tasty—I think we’ll have them again. Enjoy!