Thursday, November 18, 2010

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and remove any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt and serve immediately. I like to top mine with shaved parmesan as well.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Turkey Brine

For the ultimate, juicy turkey try using a brine this year. Soak your bird 24 hours prior to roasting in a large stock pot. Keep in the frige until you are ready to place your bird in the oven. I will post another recipe with the aromatics and seasoning that I use.

 7 quarts (28 cups) water

 1 1/2 cups coarse salt

 6 bay leaves

 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds

 1 tablespoon dried juniper berries

 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

 6 sprigs of rosemary

 1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds

1 bottle of Riesling

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

6 garlic cloves, crushed

1 bunch fresh thyme

1 whole turkey (18 to 20 pounds) Be sure that your turkey is completely thawed before soaking in the brine.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Jumbo Banana Cranberry Muffins

 2 ¼ cups flour

 1 tablespoon baking powder

 ½ teaspoon baking soda

 ½ teaspoon salt

 1 cup of craisins

 2 ¼ cups ripe mashed bananas

 ½ cup sugar

 ½ cup sour cream (not low fat)

 ¼ cup vegetable oil

 3 large egg yolks

 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

1. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl.

2. In another bowl, mix the mashed banana, sugar, sour cream, vegetable oil,

egg yolks and vanilla together.

3. Add wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until the ingredients are mixed well.

4. Fold in the craisins

Spray a jumbo muffin tin with Pam. Fill the well greased tins nearly full. The batter is enough for six jumbo muffins.
Bake for 8 minutes at 400degrees. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 14 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Let muffins sit for 5 minutes and remove from pan to rack to cool.

Some tips….

 Don’t be afraid to fill the tins almost to the top. They need to be almost full so they get a nice dome on top.

 The time to cook will depend on your oven. I have never seen two ovens that cook alike!

 When the muffins cool, I wrap them in saran wrap and put them in a zip lock bag in the freezer. They freeze well, and only take a few seconds to defrost in the microwave.

 Hope you like them, my husband is not a big muffin fan and he loves them.

(recipe from my mom, Barbara)

Cranberry Scones

So sure enough, as soon as "recipe writer's block" sets in...Mom comes through! My mom is a wonderful cook and has shared several of her recipes with me. The bonus to all this, my mom also possesses the gift of baking in which I slack a bit in that department :)  Thanks mom for having that special knack of  knowing just when I need you....ALWAYS!

 3 cups flour

 1/3 cup sugar

 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

 1 teaspoon salt

 ½ teaspoon baking soda

 1 tablespoon grated orange peel

1 ½ sticks chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces

 1 cup chilled buttermilk

 ¾ cup craisins

 ¼ cup or less of sugar crystals

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Line baking sheet with parchment paper

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a large bowl

Mix in orange peel

Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal

Mix in craisins

Gradually add buttermilk, tossing with fork until moist clumps form

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface

Knead briefly to bind dough, about 4 turns

Form dough into 1 inch thick round

Cut into 8 wedges

Transfer wedges to baking sheet

Sprinkle sugar on scones

Bake until tops of scones are lightly brown, about 18-24 minutes

Let the scones cool on a rack

 I use the large clear sugar crystals you find in the baking isle

 I mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and then sift them

 The scones freeze well, just wrap in saran wrap, and place in a zip lock bag

 This recipe makes 8 large scones, they are very simple to make and look like you bought them in a fancy bakery

 Keep an eye on them in the oven as oven temperatures vary, mine are usully done in 18 minutes.

(recipe from my mom)

Cranberry Butter

 2 tablespoons craisins

 ½ cup boiling water

 ½ cup salted butter, softened

 3 tablespoons powdered sugar

In a small bowl combine craisins and boiling water, let stand 10 minutes

Drain well and finely chop craisins

Stir together the butter, craisins and powdered sugar. Cover and let chill for at least 1 hour

(recipe from my mom)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pumpkin Sage Soup

Fall is my favorite time of year. The crisp cool air along with the warm inviting aromas of cinnamon, pumpkin and apples. And of course the all the comfort foods. Even though Iowa is experiencing an Indian Summer with temps in the 80's, it won't be long until the chili will be simmering and the mulled apple cider fill our mugs. The next several recipes will use all the bountiful fall offerings and I hope they bring comfort to you as well. Happy Harvest to all!

4 tablespoons butter

4 onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

6 pounds pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

5 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried

3 cups light cream

1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

Black-Pepper Croutons, optional

In a large pot, heat the butter over moderately low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin, stock, salt and dried sage, if using. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the pumpkin is tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the fresh sage, and simmer 5 minutes longer.

Puree the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Strain the puree back into the pot and add the cream. Stir in the pepper. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Top with the remaining 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, and croutons, if you like.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Candy Corn Cookies

My mom came across this recipe and it's just too cute not to share. Looks like fun and I can't wait to try them!

1 cup Land O Lakes® Butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 Land O Lakes® All-Natural Egg
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Orange paste or gel food color
Yellow paste or gel food color

Line bottom and sides of 9x5-inch loaf pan with waxed paper or plastic food wrap. Set aside.

Combine butter and 1 cup sugar in large bowl; beat at medium speed until creamy. Add egg, orange juice, orange zest and salt. Continue beating until well mixed. Reduce speed to low; add flour and baking soda. Beat until well mixed.

Divide dough into thirds. Press one-third of white dough evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. Place another one-third of dough back into same bowl. Add small amount of orange food color; mix until color is well blended. Press orange dough evenly over white dough in pan. Place remaining one-third of dough into another medium bowl. Add small amount of yellow food color; mix until color is well blended. Press yellow dough evenly over orange dough in pan. Cover with plastic food wrap; refrigerate until firm (at least 2 hours or overnight).

Place 1/2 cup sugar in large bowl; set aside.

Heat oven to 375°F. Invert loaf pan to remove dough. Peel off waxed paper. Place layered dough onto cutting surface. Cut loaf crosswise into 1/4-inch slices using sharp knife, trimming edges to make even, if necessary. Cut each slice into 6 wedges. Place 1-inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are very lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets. Immediately place warm cookies in bowl with sugar; roll in sugar to coat. Place cookies onto cooling rack. Cool completely.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pumpkin Martini


1/2 oz Sylk Cream Liqueur
2 oz vanilla vodka
1/2 oz pumpkin liqueur or pumpkin spice syrup
1 tsp whipped cream
cinnamon stick for garnish


Pour the Sylk Liqueur and vodka into a shaker filled with ice.
Shake well.
Add the pumpkin liqueur or syrup.
Shake again.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Top with a teaspoon of whipped cream.
Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Mad Pasta

1 28oz can of diced tomatoes
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup grated romano cheese
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1/2 yellow onion
1 lb. of penne
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup of butter
2 oz. of pancetta or lean bacon
1-2 tsp. crushed red pepper, depends on your heat level :)
2 tsp. dried basil

In a medium pot, saute onion, pepper and bacon in oil and butter. When the mixture is golden brown, add the wine. Once the wine is evaporated then add the diced tomatoes. Cook over low heat for about 45 minutes. Cook patsa according to pkg. directions, drain and coat with the sauce mixture. Top with cheese and serve with warm bread.

Bagel Dip

Hoenstly, I never heard of dried beef until I moved to the midwest. My wonderful friend Katie, whom we hit up all the time to make a batch of this yummy goodness decided to share the recipe with me. It may sound a little strange but it truly is yummy and a wee bit addicting :) Make a batch for yourself and see what you think!

16 ounce jar real mayo

16 ounce container real sour cream

2 tablespoons dried parsley

2 teaspoons dried dill weed

2 packages dried beef (not corned!) Hormel is the brand I used.

2 packages bagels, sliced into bite size pieces.
Chop the beef into small pieces and combine well with all other ingredients. This can be served right away with your favorite type of bagel, bagel chips or even veggies.

Fiesta Wontons

24 wonton wrappers
1 brick of cream cheese
1 can of Frito Lay Southwest Enchilada Bean Dip
1can of Frito Lay jalapeno Cheddar Cheese
1 can of Rotel, hot with habeneros (drained )

Spray 2 muffin pans with cooking spray and heat oven to 350. Gently press each wonton wrapper ino the muffin tin to make little "cups." Then equally divide the cream cheese, bean dip and jalapeno cheese into each wrapper ( about 2tsp. each.) Bake for 18-20 or until wontons are golden brown and cheese is bublly. Remove from oven and eually top off with the Rotel. Quick and easy crowd pleaser :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pumpkin and Spinach Pasta

BestLife™ Baked Pasta with Pumpkin and Spinach

Nonstick cooking spray

8 ounces dry whole-grain rotini

2 cups Pure Pumpkin

1 1/3 cups  ricotta cheese, fat free can be used as well.

4 cups of baby spinach leaves

3/4 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp. fresh sage

Preheat oven to 375° F. Spray 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Bring water to boil, add pasta and cook for 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly.
While pasta is cooking combine pumpkin, ricotta, spinach, onion, garlic, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Add drained pasta to ricotta mixture; mix. Pour into prepared dish. Top with parmesan cheese and sage.

Bake for 20 minutes. Turn oven to broil and broil for 1 to 3 minutes until top is bubbly and brown. Serve immediately.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Orange Honey Grilled Chicken

For the marinade:

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup hot sauce

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

4 chicken breasts or 6-8 thighs, patted dry with paper towels

For the glaze:

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup of your favorite bbq sauce

Zest from 1 orange

2 tablespoons dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

black pepper to taste

Mix the orange juice, olive oil, hot sauce, mustard, and orange zest together in a large bowl. Add the chicken and toss to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Prepare the grill to medium direct heat. Let chicken come to room temperature before grilling.

Drain the chicken from the marinade and pat dry. Grill on each side for 5 minutes, then turn the heat to medium-low and cover the lid of the grill. Continue cooking the chicken until it's cooked through, about 25 minutes more.

While the chicken is grilling, melt the butter in a small saucepan on the grill. Whisk in the honey, orange juice, BBQ sauce, zest, mustard and seasoning. Reserve some of the glaze in a small bowl for serving.

Brush the chicken pieces with glaze, then flip the chicken, glaze side down, and cook for 2 minutes. Brush second side of the chicken with glaze and flip again. Continue cooking for 3 more minutes. Remove the chicken from grill to a platter and serve with reserved glaze.

Halloween Chex Mix

This a perfect office treat and a great tail gaiting snack!

8 oz white chocolate baking bars, coarsely chopped

4 cups Corn Chex® or Rice Chex® cereal

2 cups bite-size pretzel twists

1/2 cup raisins

1 cup candy corn

1/4 cup Betty Crocker® orange and black candy decors

Fill little cellophane bags with this fun mix and tie with orange and black ribbons for Halloween party treats.

1. In large microwavable bowl, microwave chopped baking bars uncovered on High 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth.

2. Gently stir in cereal, pretzels and raisins until evenly coated. Stir in candy corn and decors.

3. Spread on waxed paper or foil until cooled and chocolate is set. Break into chunks. Store loosely covered.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Oven Roasted Brisket

3-4 pounds beef brisket, trimmed

2 Tbsp. chili powder

2 Tbsp. salt

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. ground black pepper

2 Tbsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. dijon  mustard

2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish

4 bay leaves

1 1/2 cups beef stock

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make a marinade paste by combining chili powder, salt, garlic, black pepper, sugar, dijon mustard, and horseradish. Season the raw brisket on both sides with the rub. Next place the bay leaves on top of the brisket. Place in a roasting pan and roast, uncovered, for 1 hour.

Add beef stock and enough water to yield about 1/2 inch of liquid in the roasting pan. Lower oven to 300 degrees, cover pan tightly and continue cooking for 3 hours, or until fork-tender.

Trim the fat and slice meat thinly across the grain. Top with juice from the pan.

Frito Corn Salad

8 ears of corn, cooked, cooled and cut from the cob
1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, shredded
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, diced
2 jalapenos, diced
1 tsp. chili powder
3/4 cup light mayo
salt and pepper to taste
Frito Corn Chips, to top salad with

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except corn chips. Mix well and and just before serving, top with corn chips.

Craisin Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) white chocolate chips
1 cup of Craisins
Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chips and craisins. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pan Seared Scallops

1 to 1 1/4 pounds dry sea scallops, approximately 16
2 teaspoons  butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Remove the small side muscle from the scallops, rinse with cold water and thoroughly pat dry. Add the butter and oil to a large saute pan on high heat. Salt and pepper the scallops. Once the oil and butter begin to smoke, gently add the scallops, making sure they are not touching each other. Sear the scallops for 1 1/2 minutes on each side. The scallops should have a 1/4-inch golden crust on each side while still being translucent in the center. Serve immediately.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Salad

3 or 4 small to medium heirloom tomatoes, in assorted colors, cored and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 small English or regular cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 cup 3/4-inch-cubed yellow or red seedless watermelon flesh
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/2 tablespoon chopped basil
1/2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1/2 tbsp. chives
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, watermelon, avocado, and herbs. Toss gently.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the tomato mixture and toss to coat evenly. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pancetta Potato Salad

5 slices of pancetta

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel

1 garlic clove, pressed

2/3 cup olive oil

3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes

3 large celery stalks, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange pancetta slices on rimmed baking sheet, spacing apart. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes (do not turn). Drain on paper towels. Cool. Coarsely chop pancetta.

Whisk lemon juice, rosemary, lemon peel, and garlic in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

 Bring potatoes to a  boil in a large pot. Cook until fork tender, about 15 min. Drain and let stand until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes.

Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices (remove skin, if desired). Place in large bowl; add celery. Drizzle dressing over; toss gently to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill until cold, at least 2 hours. 

Sprinkle pancetta and chopped parsley over potato salad and serve.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

1 lb. shell pasta
1 8oz. pkg. sliced baby portobellos
1 green zucchini, halved and sliced
1 can of black olives, drained
1 small jar of green olives, drained
1 small jar (6-8oz.) roasted red peppers, julienned
3/4 cup celery, chopped
olive oil. to coat salad (3 to 1 ratio with vinegar)
white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat the grill to "low" setting. Make a foil pouch and add zucchini, mushrooms, and peppers. Lightly coat with olive oil, salt and pepper. grill for about 20-25 minutes. While veggies are grilling cook pasta according to pkg directions, (chop celery while cooking pasta.) Place pasta into a large mixing bowl with the olives, grilled veggies, and celery. Lightly coat with oil and a few splashes of vinegar. Season with basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Chill for 1 hour before serving.

Summer Sangria

6 cups  Sauvignon Blanc

1/4 cup superfine sugar

1 cup white grape juice

1 ripe nectarine, pitted and cut into thin wedges

1 tangerine, thinly sliced

1 cup seedless white grapes, halved

1 cup lemon/lime soda

In a large pitcher or other container, combine the wine and sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the remaining ingredients, excluding the soda, and mix well. Place the pitcher in the refrigerator and let the sangria sit for at least 1 hour (and up to 4 hours). The sangria will sweeten with time, so the longer it sits, the better. Just before serving, stir in the soda and ice cubes.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

BLT Salad

On these warm muggy nights here in Iowa it's nice sometimes to just have a fresh salad with a good crusty bread for dinner. Here's a favorite salad recipe in our home.

1 head of romaine, washed and chopped
6-8 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
1 large tomato, sliced ( you can also use cherry or grape tomatoes )
1 small red onion, sliced thin
1 6oz. container of blue cheese
 Your favorite blue cheese dressing

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss with dressing. I recently added a sprinkle of the balsamic glaze to this which really woke up the salad even more.

Balsamic Glaze

This is such a nice recipe to jazz up any of your grilled meats, roasted veggies or even on top of a rich vanilla ice cream. I used mint this week over my BLT salad. I couldn't decide if I wanted blue cheese dressing or the glaze, so I opted for both! The sweet, pungent reduction balanced out the creaminess of the blue chesse very nicely and I can't wait to make this salad again.

1 cup of balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. of granulated sugar

Place ingredients in a small sauce pan & bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer till the syrup reduces to 75% and thickens into a syrup. (takes about 15 min.)

Frozen Cucumber Pickles

Frozen Cucumber Pickles

This is a recipe from my mom which I just made yesterday. I don't know if it was the fact that I used the fresh cucumber from our farmer's market or if it was my ravenous craving for them, they just were refreshing and delicious!
1 pound Kirby or pickling cucumbers, sliced (4 cups)
2 cups thinly sliced onions
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons water
1 cup sugar
½ cup cider vinegar

Combine cucumber, onions, salt and water in a glass bowl
Let stand at room temperature for two hours
Add sugar and vinegar stirring until sugar is dissolved
Pack mixture lightly into two 1-pint freezer containers, leaving 1-inch space at top
Cover tightly and freeze overnight or up to 6 weeks
Thaw at room temperature 4 hours.

Refrigerate any leftovers up to 1 week

Makes 4 cups

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Honey Dijon Slaw with Radish

1 bag of pre shredded slaw
6 radishes, thinly shaved
4 green onions, sliced
1 handful of golden raisins
olive oil, to lightly coat mixture
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. garlic salt , or to taste
black pepper, to taste

Combine slaw, radishes, and onion in a mixing bowl. Lightly coat with oil and add vinegar, dijon, garlic salt and pepper. Set in frige to chill for 30 minutes and serve.

Happy 4th of July!

Cheers! This patriotic beverage will be a hit at your 4th of July cookout.

1 part Grenadine

1 part Peach Schnappes

1 part Blue Curacao

Slowly and carefully pour each ingredient into a shotglass in order above

Sticky Lemon Chicken

3-4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, this can be used with any favorite chicken portion.
salt and pepper to taste, to season chicken
3 tablespoons of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
3tablespoons of soy sauce
4 tablespoons of honey
1/4 cup of water
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, sliced into rounds

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Brown the chicken pieces  over medium high heat with the garlic and thyme for 2–3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add the red wine vinegar, soy sauce, honey, bay leaves and bubble until reduced by half. Drizzle over the soy sauce and honey and shake the pan to mix. Return the chicken to the pan and add lemon slices and water. Let the liquid bubble and reduce down until syrupy, which will take about 15 minutes or so. By now the chicken should be cooked through. Place chicken on serving platter and drizzle sauce on top. I served this along with my corn salad and shaved potatoes.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sausage and Cannellini Rotini

1 lb. Rotini pasta
3/4 lb. ground sausage, I used Graziano's but use whatever style you like (sweet, hot, mild)
2 cans of Italian style diced tomatoes
1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup + 2Tbsp. olive oil

In a large sauce pot cook pasta according to pkg. directions. While the pasta is boiling, heat the 2 Tbsp. of oil in a large deep skillet. Add and brown the sausage. Next add the cans of diced tomatoes, ( do not drain ) beans, basil, salt and pepper. Stir in 1/2 cup of olive oil and cook for 15 min. Top the drained pasta with sausage mixture and serve with warm crusty bread.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tomato Avacado Salad

3 ripe tomatoes, sliced into thin rounds
1 large avacado, Cut into small segments
1 vadalia onion, sliced into thin rounds
8-10 lemon basil leaves, torn ( regular basil works just as well )
Extra light oilive oil
Sea salt
Black Pepper

Slice tomatoes and onions. Arrange tomatoes on platter and top with onion wheels. Then add avacado and sprinkle basil over the top. Drizzle oil over each one followed by a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper. Can be served right away or chilled for up to an hour.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Chicken Caesar Pasta

1 pound of rotini pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into thin strips
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (8 ounce) bottle Caesar salad dressing
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 head romaine lettuce - rinsed, dried and chopped
1 cup of grape tomatoes, halved

Cook pasta according to package directions and then drain. Add oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Next add chicken, salt and pepper. Cook 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove skillet from heat.

In a bowl, mix together salad dressing, vinegar and cheese. Make a bed of lettuce on a large platter.Toss together pasta, chicken, and dressing mixture. Sprinkle with tomato. Garnish with croutons and Parmesan curls, if desired.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Quick Bruschetta

1 15oz can of diced petite tomatoes, drained
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
6-8 fresh basil leaves, rolled together and sliced (chiffonade)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and serve with either a toasted baguette or as I did with toasted focaccia with parmesan cheese.

Marinated Mozzarella

1 8oz conatiner of mozzarella fresca, fresh mozzarella balls
3 Tbsp. extra light olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2  tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Combine all ingredients and chill for one hour before serving. Serve along with your favorite olives and peppers.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Grilled Corn with Cilantro Lime Butter

Use enough ears of corn to feed your family. (This butter recipe feeds a family of 4-5 twice. Leftovers can also be used to top off grilled steak or tequila lime chicken.)
1 cup of softened butter
1/4 cup cilantro chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. of fresh lime juice
a pinch of cayenne pepper

In a mixing bowl, cream butter. Mix in cilantro, lime juice, and cayenne pepper. Place butter on to a sheet of non stick wrap and roll it into a log shape. Chill for one hour and top off grilled corn with sliced rounds of the butter. While butter is chilling prepare the corn.

Carefully peel back husks from corn to within 1 in. of bottom and remove silk. Soak in cold water for 20 minutes then drain. Grill corn, covered, over medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until tender, turning often.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Iowa Pork Patty

Here's one of my entries to the Sutter Home Build A Better Burger Contest. This is the original recipe but I may have to tweak it just a touch. The breakfast sausage was strong but did give it a unique flavor. I may reduce the amount of it or omit it completely since the seasoning almost duplicates it. I'd love your feedback on this if you should decide to make it. Word to the wise, use thinner sourdough :) Even with my big mouth I had to use a fork and knife!

For the burger:
3/4 lb. ground pork
1/4 lb. ground breakfast sausage
1 egg
1 tsp. dried rubbed sage
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 celery stalk finely minced
1/4 cup homemade bread crumbs*
* 1 cup of cubed seasoned stuffing mashed into fine crumbs. I used a rolling pin to mash them in a Ziplock bag.

Grill patties over low heat 12 min. each side. Top with Brie cheese and cover for 2 additional min.

For the cheese:
1  8oz. brie wheel quartered and rind removed

For the bread:
8 slices of buttered and grilled sourdough.

The topping:
2 green apples, cored, peeled and sliced thin
1 white onion, sliced thin
4 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc
a pinch of salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large skillet and cook over med. heat 30-40 min.

For the spread:
1 cup of whole berry cranberry sauce
2 tsp. dijon mustard
pinch of salt and pepper

I served the burger topped with apple/onion mixture and placed them onto the sourdough with the cranberry spread.

Creamy Potato and Egg Salad

5 large red potatoes
3 hard boiled eggs, sliced in an egg slicer
2 cups of light mayo
1-2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 celery stalk, chopped thin
2 tsp. fresh chives, chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

I slice my potatoes before boiling them and cook for roughly 15 min. or until fork tender. Drain and rinse in cold water. In a small bowl combine mayo, dijon, vinegar, celery, chives, shallot, salt and pepper. Whisk until well blended. In a large mixing bowl combine potatoes, eggs and dressing. Lightly toss to not mash the potatoes. Chill for one hour and serve.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Absolut Relief Cocktail

A refreshing way to kick off the weekend!

2 parts Absolut Mandarin Vodka
1 part fresh blood orange juice
1 part cranberry juice
1 part raspberry liqueur

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a blood orange slice.

Recipe courtesy of Absolut Vodka

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Texas Caviar

I have to say I never heard of this dip until I moved here to Iowa. A neighbor introduced it to me this past Christmas which we all enjoyed. It's a nice alternative to your everyday salsa. You could also play around with the ingredients to suite your taste. I think for my next batch I will add corn since the fresh sweet corn will be ready soon! Serve with your favorite tortilla chips and enjoy!

1/2 red onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 (8 ounce) bottle zesty Italian dressing
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients with dressing and chill for one hour before serving.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spicy Garden Tortellini

1 small pkg. of spinach and cheese tortellini
1 green zucchini
1 yellow zucchini
1 sweet onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can of Rotel, hot with habanero peppers
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp. sea salt
black pepper to taste

In a large sauce pan cook pasta according to pkg. directions. While pasta is boiling, saute olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a deep skillet over med. high heat for 2 min. Then add zucchini, onion, and Rotel. Cook until pasta is ready and add drained pasta to the skillet. Cover and cook on low for 15-20 min. This can be served as a main dish or as a side.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pina Colada Cupcakes

So with Mother's Day this coming Sunday, I will be taking the day off. The day off from cleaning, errands, and yes..even cooking! I wanted to find a treat that I ( all of us ) would love for dessert. I knew I wanted to incorporate pineapple somehow and hit the web. Then pineapple lead me to pina coladas, coincidentally...I think not :) and I ended up at this recipe from It's easy enough for my husband and fun for the kids too! What mom wouldn't love to see her husband and kids in the kitchen working on a special treat for her?! So to all you mom's out there, Happy Mother's Day and take a much deserved break! It doesn't matter if your a mom to one or several, furry children (love my pets) or like a mom to someone you care about. I wish you all the joy in the world.. for it's YOU who brings it to so many!

1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® yellow cake mix

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup water

1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple in juice, undrained

3 eggs

1 teaspoon coconut extract

2 teaspoons rum extract, 1 for batter and 1 for frosting

1 container (12 oz) Betty Crocker® Whipped vanilla frosting

3/4 cup shredded coconut

1. Heat oven to 375°F (350°F for dark or nonstick pan). Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups. In large bowl, beat cake mix, oil, water, 1 teaspoon rum extract, the pineapple and eggs with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

2. Bake 14 to 19 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

3. Stir coconut extract and 1 teaspoon rum extract into frosting. Spread frosting on cupcakes. Dip tops of frosted cupcakes in coconut. Store loosely covered at room temperature.

High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): Make 30 cupcakes.

* recipe courtesy of  Betty Crocker

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Orange Roughy with Fruit Salsa

1 orange roughy fillet
1 orange, sliced in rounds
1 lemon, sliced in rounds
cooking spray
salt & pepper to taste

Arrange alternating slices of oranges and lemons on heavy duty foil sprayed with cooking spray. Place the seasoned (salt & pepper) fish on top and layer the remaining oranges and lemons.

Next, fold foil around the fish to make a pouch and grill on low heat for 25-30 minutes.

I topped the fish with my fruit salsa, cucumber salad, both recipes can be found on here. Then added rice pilaf to the plate as well.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Louisiana Cattiatore

Here's a new twist to an Italian favorite. We enjoyed the sauce so much that next time I might blend it and turn into soup! (Something you may want to try with the remaining sauce.) I froze what I had left and now I'll have a quick delicious meal in no time!

5 chicken thighs, or as many you need to feed your family. The sauce makes enough to coat 10-12.
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 handful of fresh thyme
2-3 dried bay leaves
1 cup of beef broth, you can use chicken but this is what I had on hand and it works well with dark meat.
1/2 cup dry white wine, I used Pinot Grigio
8 or so dashes of Louisiana Hot Sauce
6 or so dashes of worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. butter
2Tbsp. tomato paste
1-2 Tbsp. of flour, just to thicken the sauce
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil, to coat skillet

Remove skin from chicken thighs and season well with salt and pepper. Add about 2 Tbsp. or so of oil to coat a deep skillet. Brown both sides of chicken on med. high heat but don't cook through. Remove chicken and rest on paper towels. In the same skillet add butter to the oil and drippings. Add peppers, onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, hot sauce, worcestershire sauce and tomato paste. Stir for 1-2 min. Add wine and stock and then sprinkle with flour. Cook over med. heat for 5 min. Then add the chicken thighs back to the skillet, cover and cook on low for an additional 20-25 min. Serve over your favorite rice.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Red Pepper Dip

2 whole jarred roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
6 ounces of feta cheese
2 garlic cloves, chopped
a pinch of cayenne pepper

In a food processor, boy do I need a new one!!, puree peppers and 3/4 of the feta, garlic and cayenne pepper. Serve a bowl topped with remaining feta along with pita chips.

* I buy pita bread and slice into 8ths. Place on a cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Bake for 12-15 min at 375.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bell Pepper Slaw

3 Tbsp suagr
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. celery seeds
1 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
6 bell peppers, 2 each of red, yellow & orange, cut in thin strips
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 head of green cabbage, shredded
3 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1/2 cup of light mayo
2 tsp. salt
black pepper to taste

Whisk sugar, salt and vinegar in a large bowl. Next add both celery and mustard seeds, black pepper, bell peppers, green onion and cabbage. Mix well and chill for one hour. Just before serving add mayo and mustard and mix well.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Paloma Margaritas

In 4 tall glasses with ice add 1/2 tsp. of grenadine. In a cocktail shaker add 1 cup of tequila, 1 cup of grapefruit juice, 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, 2 tsp. of fine sugar and a pinch of salt. Shake well and pour into glasses. Top off each drink with a 1/4 cup of grapefruit soda.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Glaze

So now that I have a new "go to" ingredient, I often find myself in the jelly isle at the grocery store. I look over each flavor and decide how they could be incorporated with other flavors for a new dish. Today I went with pineapple preserves. This was very similar to my fruit salsa but made an excellent glaze and dipping sauce. I used this on chicken but it would also work well with pork and fish.

2 12oz. jars of pineapple preserves
juice form 1 orange
juice from 2 lemons
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 shallots, minced
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Mix all ingredients together and reserve 3/4 cup for a dipping sauce. With the remaining marinade/glaze, coat meat before grilling for about 1 hour.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Deviled Egg Dip

I know that Easter is well behind us but the next time you're wondering what to do with a surplus of eggs, this may help :)

8 hard boiled eggs
1/4 cup light mayo
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. dill pickle relish
4-5 dashes of hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste
chives for garnish

Puree eggs with mayo, mustard, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Stir in pickle relish and top with chives. Chill for one hour and serve with crusty bread.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Apricot Citrus Grilled Pork Chops

Being that Iowa is pork country and there is 1 pig to every 5 people here, I thought the blog was due for a pork chop recipe. Honestly, I wasn't a huge fanof pork until we moved here. "Iowa Chops" aren't your typical dried out chops and have become a huge hit in our home. I've found apricot preserves are a perfect paring with pork and decided to whip up a new marinade last night using Smucker's. Hope you'll like these as much as we did.

4 1/2" cut bone in pork chops
1 1/2 cup Smucker's Apricot Preserves
juice from 2 oranges
juice from 2 lemons
1 pinch of red pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. onion powder

Whisk in the juice, and spices into the preserves and coat chops. Marinade for at least one hour. Let the pork come close to room temp before grilling over low heat. Grill each side 12-15 min or until temp reads 160.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chicken Pesto Quesadilla

8 corn tortillas

1/2 cup pesto

2 (9-ounce) packages cooked chicken strips

1 cup shredded provolone cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

3 tablespoons butter, softened

Sour cream mixed with additional pesto for dipping

Lay out 4 tortillas. Spread with the pesto, then top with chicken and sprinkle with cheeses. Top with remaining tortillas that have been spread with the pesto.

Heat skillet over medium heat. Spread butter on outsides of quesadillas. Add one filled quesadilla to hot skillet; cook, pressing down with spatula, until bottom tortilla is browned and crisp, about 2-3 minutes. Carefully turn quesadilla; cook 2-3 minutes on second side until crisp. Cut in half and serve with sour cream mixed with more pesto. Repeat with remaining quesadillas. You can keep all of the quesadillas warm in a 250 degree oven until you're ready to serve. Serves 3-4

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Asparagus Salad

This is the ideal time of year for fresh asparagus. It's so versitile in cooking methods. You can steam it, grill it, saute it, and what I've decided....shave it and make it into a salad.

Approx. 2 pounds of fresh asparagus, medium size stalks
juice from 1 large lemon
1/2 cup of extra light olive oil
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, grated
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Using a vegetable peeler, thinly shave the asparagus. In a bowl combine lemon juice and cheese. Slowly whisk in oil. Add asparagus and toss into the dressing. Salt & pepper to taste.

Spring Sorbet Sandwiches

This is a result of trying to come up with a birthday treat for Em who's a huge sorbet fan. I wanted a fun and festive dessert that still had birthday cake-like qualities. So from the idea of ice cream sandwiches this new recipe was invented. It was so refreshing and is a perfect treat for Spring and Summer gatherings.

1 box of yellow cake, cook with needed ingredients, water, eggs, oil, according to pkg. directions in two 9in. square pans.
3 pints of sorbet, lemon, strawberry, blood orange
powedered sugar for dusting on top.

Allow cakes to cool for 2 hours before adding sorbet. Trim  cake tops so they are level. Loosen sorbet from containers by microwaving each one for 10-15 seconds. Slice sorbet from the more narrow end into 1/2 in. circles. Cover one cake with sorbet rings and fill in any remaining cake areas with soft sorbet by spreading with a knife. The sorbet layer should be level and top with second portion of cake. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and refreeze for 2 hours. Slice cake through the middle horizontally. Then cut 3 times lengthwise for 8 equal servings.

While this may not be a guiltless treat it is however healthier than ice cream cake or birthday cake. Sorbet has no fat and you can alter your cake batter with a reduced fat/calorie mix for a more healthier treat :)