Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tribute to Nane

Blog Friends,
       While I know this is not the ideal platform to make a request, I still need to ask. One of my cooking inspirations, Nane, needs your prayers as she makes her journey to heaven. My husband is on a flight back to his hometown, Batavia NY, to say good bye to his mom. I wish I could be with him and honestly I am, in his heart. I will be doing what I can to help my family cope through this loss and I will not be able to devote time to this site right now. Please send thoughts and prayers. I truly am grateful.

With great gratitude,

Friday, January 29, 2010

It's Friday...Beverage Time!

Side Car Cocktails


1 1/2 oz bourbon, Cognac or Armagnac

3/4 oz Cointreau

1/4 oz lemon juice


Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.

Shake well.

Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


Lucky me! We're going out to dinner tonight and I already know what I want, scallops! Since I had the craving I thought I would share one of my favorite seafood recipes with you.

3/4 cup butter
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups white wine
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp - peeled and deveined
1 1/2 pounds bay scallops
18 small clams
18 mussels, cleaned and debearded
1 1/2 cups crabmeat
1 lb. linguine
Over medium-low heat melt butter in a large stockpot, add onions, garlic and parsley. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until onions are soft.

Add tomatoes to the pot (break them into chunks as you add them). Add chicken broth, bay leaves, basil, thyme, oregano, water and wine. Mix well. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.

Stir in the shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels and crabmeat. Bring to boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer 5 to 7 minutes until clams open. While waiting for the clams to open pot cook pasta in a seperate pot according to package directions, drain and add to the seafood pot when cooked.

Serve with warm, crusty bread!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cheddar Stuffed Potatoes

Baked or mashed potatoes? Why not both in one!

3 large baking potatoes
1/4 cup butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
green onions or chives for garnish, chopped

* you can also top with bacon pieces or add some cayenne to spice things up

Preheat oven to 400. Prick the potatoes with a fork. Bake until tender, 45min. to 1hr. Let stand until they are cool enough to handle. In a skillet, over med. heat, melt butter. Add onion, salt, oregano and pepper (cayenne could be added here as well). Cook for 10 min. Cut potatoes in half length wise. Scoop potato out of 4 skins leaving 1/4" shell; reserve shells and potato. Scoop potato from remaining skins, saving the potatoes but not the skins this time. Mash reserved potatoes with milk and 1/2 cup of cheese and add to onion mixture. Position oven rack to the top or 3" from the broiler. Heat the broiler. Transfer mixture into a gallon size plastic storage bag and cut one corner. Pipe mixture into shells and top with remaining cheese. Broil until cheese melts, 3-4 min. Sprinkle with onions/chives.

Fruit Salad with Champagne Lime Dressing

Here is another soy free recipe that includes one of my favorite ingredients, champagne!

4 bananas, peeled and sliced in rounds

3 apples, cored and cut into bite-sized chunks

3 kiwis, peeled and sliced

2 mangoes, peeled, cored, and cut into bite-sized chunks

1 small bunch seedless grapes (about 1 pound), stems removed

1/2 cup champagne

juice of 2 limes

1/4 cup sugar, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Mix all fruit in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, mix champagne, limes, sugar, and nutmeg. Taste, then increase sugar as necessary until dressing is only slightly tart.

Toss dressing with fruit and refrigerate until serving.

Serves 4 to 6 as a centerpiece dish of a breakfast or brunch, or up to 12 as one of many party snacks. Will keep for about one week in sealed containers in the refrigerator.

Soy Free Potato Leek Soup

My sister in law has inspired me to add some new recipes to the blog. She has been on a soy free diet for a couple of weeks and it is VERY difficult to find food products that don't contain soy. The most random things seem to include soy and it can be a quite challenging diet. I hope this is one recipe she will enjoy.

6 pieces bacon, divided, or 6 Tbsp. olive oil or dairy-free margarine, divided

4-5 medium leeks, scrubbed and trimmed, white parts only, in 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)

8 medium white potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 3-4 cups)

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 c unsweetened dairy-free milk, almond milk or rice milk
Finely chopped chives for garnish (optional)


In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, cook 3 pieces bacon over medium heat until all fat is rendered and bacon is cooked. Remove bacon and set aside. (If not using bacon, heat 3 T oil or margarine over medium heat until quite hot.) Turn heat to low and add leeks. Cover and cook leeks slowly, stirring every few minutes, until leeks are soft and have let out a large quantity of liquid, about 30 minutes. Remove leeks and set aside.

Wipe pot and cook 3 more pieces of bacon until fat is rendered and bacon is cooked. Remove bacon and set aside. (Again, if not using bacon, heat 3 T oil or margarine over medium heat until quite hot.) Cook potato cubes over medium until light brown, about five to seven minutes.

Add leeks, bacon, broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are fork-tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.

If you have a stick blender, blend soup until mostly blended (some chunks can and should still remain). Otherwise, remove soup to a blender and pulse several times on a low setting until most chunks are blended. Return soup to stockpot over low heat and stir in 1/2 c dairy-free milk, or more if necessary to bring soup to a spoonable consistency. Heat until soup reaches boiling again. Serve immediately, optionally garnished with chives.

Serves four to six.

Cousin Linda's Crumb Cake

This is so quick, simple and tasty! This is wonderful for breakfast when you have overnight guests or a nice treat at brunch. The crumbs are the best part! I wish I had a piece now with my coffee!

1 box of Ducan Hines yello cake mix
1 1/3 cups of water
3 eggs

3 sticks of sweet butter, melted
3 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt

In a large bowl beat cake mix, water and eggs until smooth. pour into a greased and floured 13x9 pan. Bake 20-25 min. or until center is firm. While baking prepare the crumbs. Melt butter and add remaining ingredients to it. Mix together with your hands to form crumbs. Sprinkle crumbs over the cake and bake again for another 20 min. Sprinkle with powdered sugar when cool.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Caribbean Grilled Turkey

Man, if I could be somewhere right now it would be the Caribbean! It's so cold here in Iowa and I would love to be on a beach soaking up the sun and enjoying this tropical dish, and a beverage too!

2 large turkey tenderloins, will feed 3-4
4 green onions
4 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp. peach preserves
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. grated lime peel
1 tsp. of hot sauce, more if you like it hot :)
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Lightly spray unheated grill with cooking spray. Then heat grill to med. In a food processor or blender process the onions, garlic, preserves, lime juice and peel, hot sauce, soy sauce and pepper until smooth. Spread mixture over the turkey and grill 30-35 min. or until turkey is no longer pink.

Corn and Goat Cheese Chili Con Queso

I don't think you'll want to share this dish it's so yummy. I made it for an appetizer and my mother in law and I just hovered over it!

Sourdough bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
2 cups fresh sweet corn kernels
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons fresh jalapeno, seeded and chopped
8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, corn, salt, and cayenne and cook, stirring, until very soft, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeno, stir to mix, and cook for 1 minute. Add the cheese and cream and cook gently over low heat, stirring, until the cheese melts and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and pour into a decorative bowl, surrounded by the sourdough cubes. SO GOOD!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Swedish Meatballs

Here's another family recipe that my family loves. This is comfort food to me. The only thing more comforting is if someone would come and make it for me!

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef, extra lean
1 1/2 cups of bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup Crisco
5 Tbsp. flour
3 cups of beef broth
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley for garnish

In a large mixing bowl combine meat, salt, bread crumbs, onion powder, sugar, egg, and water. Form into small meatballs. Fry until brown in Crisco. Remove meatballs onto paper towels. In a deep skillet blend flour and broth until it thickens. Add meatballs, lemon juice and bay leaves. Cook over medium  low heat for 45 min. to 1 hour. Tradionally this can be served over mashed potatoes or egg noodles. We have always used the noodles but since typing this, I have a craving to make them with mashed potatoes! Garnish with parsley and dig in!

Here's My Ist, and well 2nd Post It!

Lemon Pasta Salad With Tomatoes and Feta

1 lb. of penne pasta
2 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups red bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups of crumbled feta cheese
1 cup of green onions, sliced thin
8 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp. of whole grain mustard
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. of grated lemon peel
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, and lemon peel in a small bowl. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Cook penne according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add tomatoes, bell peppers, feta, and green onions. Pour dressing on top and toss to coat. Season one more time with salt and pepper. This can be served at room temp or chilled.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Nane's Frozen Peanut Butter Pie

1 quart of vanilla icecream
4 oz. Cool Whip
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 premade, store bought chocolate pie shell
Hershey's chocolate syrup

Blend until smooth and pour into pie crust. Drizzle chocolate sauce on top and chill 8 hours.

Aunt Karen's Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

My next few entries are going to be recipes from my family. We've enjoyed them at our gatherings and hope they'll will be family favorites of yours.

1 3/4 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
1/3 cup of butter, melted
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 (8 oz.) pkgs. of cream cheese, softened
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 tsp. flour

In a bowl combine Oreo crumbs, butter and only 1/4 cup of the sugar. Press the mixture into the bottom and 2 1/2 inches up the sides of an 8 inch springform pan. Set aside. In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese, remaining sugar and vanilla. Beat on high speed until creamy. Beat in 1 egg at a time. Blend in sour cream. Mix chips with 1/2 tsp. of flour and blend into mixture with a spoon. Spread into prepared pan. Bake at 350 for 60 to 70 minutes or until center is set. Turn off oven, leave cake in and crack oven door. Let it rest in the oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool completely. Chill for four hours or overnight. Remove from pan and top with chocolate shavings before serving.

My Guilty Pleasure

So when you think guilty pleasure you think of rich decadent cake, mounds of pasta or a nice thick shake right? Well, in my case I found 2 of my favorite things in dish that I just have to share. It combines the saltiness I love in with cheesy goodness. I'm sure you could make a much healthier version of my favorite stuffed pepper dish but why? This is one of my guilty pleasures.


4 large red bell peppers

3/4 pound ground chuck

1/2 pound ground pork

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules

2 teaspoons House seasoning, recipe follows

1 cup cooked rice

1/2 cup jarred cheese and salsa

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup diced tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped green onion tops

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 cup hot water


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Start by cutting the peppers in half lengthwise, leaving the stems intact, and halving them also. Remove the seeds and ribs inside the peppers.

Using a hot skillet, saute the ground beef, pork, onion, garlic, 1 teaspoon of bouillon granules, and house seasoning together. Saute until onions become translucent. Drain the fat off. Add the rice, cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, green onion tops, and soy sauce. Mix well and stuff the mixture into the peppers. In a small bowl, mix the hot water and the remaining bouillon granules. Pour this mixture into a shallow casserole large enough to hold all of the peppers. Place the stuffed peppers in the dish, cover with foil and bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Remove the foil and spoon the juice from bottom of the casserole over the top of the peppers. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.

House Seasoning:

1 cup salt

1/4 cup black pepper

1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Asian Cole Slaw

I came up with this simple cole slaw recipe with few ingredients but a lot of flare. What I also like about this is that you can control the heat by how much wasabi you add. I tend to like mine with a good kick but the sweetness in the slaw is a nice background for it.

2 bags of pre shredded cole slaw. make sure you purchase the bag that doesn't already have the dressing in it.
1 bunch og green onions, sliced thin
1 tube of wasabi paste, I use S & B wasabi paste in the 3.17 oz. size
Olive oil to coat
2 Tbsp. of white balsamic or white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. of honey
Garlic salt and black pepper to taste. I would say somewhere around 2 tsp. of the garlic salt and 1 tsp. of pepper.

Add the bags of slaw to a large mixing bowl followed by the onions. Lightly coat with oil. ( The slaw will absorb it quickly and will slightly wilt the cabbage.) Add vinegar, wasabi, honey, garlic salt and pepper. Toss until evenly coated and serve. This can be made up to an hour in advance. If not serving immediately, store in frige until ready to serve.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Corn Salad

 Forest Gump has his variety of shrimp dishes and now I have my corn. Iowa has an abundance of fresh, sweet corn and there are so may ways to enjoy it. We often just eat it right off the ear but try to come up with some new alternatives too. Here's one I thought you might like.

1  16oz. bag of frozen sweet corn
1 large avacado, cut into small chunks
1 container or bunch of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 small red onion, diced
1 bunch of cilantro, diced
1-2 jalapenos depending on how much heat you like
2 Tbsp. of chili powder
1 tsp. of cayenne pepper
2 tsp. of garlic salt
1 tsp. of black pepper
2 limes, juiced
Olive oil to coat

Place frozen corn in a colander and run water over it until thawed. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapenos, spices and lime juice. Coat with olive oil and mix gently to not break up the avacado too much. Chill for one hour and serve.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas

This is my shortcut version because you don't have to roll each tortilla. This saves time and still tastes every bit as delicious.
3 cans of white meat chicken or 1 pound of boiled shredded chicken breast

1, 15 oz. can of green or red enchilada sauce, ( we are a house divided since Dan prefers red while I like the green)

1 20 count pack of flour tortillas, small size ( you will have extra but they can be used for snack wraps )

1 bag of Kraft shredded Mexican cheese

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

2 Tbsp. of minced garlic

4 sliced green onions

3 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped

Salt & pepper to taste

Salsa, see earlier recipe

Sour cream

In a large mixing bowl, mix chicken, garlic, soup, salt and pepper

Lightly coat 13x9 with cooking spray. Then cover bottom of pan with a thin layer of sauce. Place four tortillas to evenly cover the bottom of the pan. Then spoon a 1/3 of the chicken mixture and spread evenly over the tortillas. Drizzle with sauce and sprinkle cheese on top. Then repeat the layers 2 more times. Cover the top with remaining sauce, cheese and green onions.

Bake on a cookie tray in case it bubbles over. Cook at 350 for an hour check half way through to make sure the cheese is not burning. It can be covered with foil but use non stick or spray with Pam first. Let enchiladas set for 10 mintutes before serving. Garnish with cilantro and serve with salsa and sour cream.

*I've also added 2 cups of fresh spinach to this recipe which adds nutrients, flavor and color.

This is the sauce I use but I like "medium."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Corn and Bacon Muffins

12 ounces smoked bacon, chopped
1 ear of yellow corn, husked
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/4 cups of whole milk
3 large eggs
2 cups sharp white cheddar, grated
1/3 cup fresh chives, chopped
butter for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook bacon in a saute pan until crisp. Transfer the cooked bacon onto paper towels. Brush 12 standard muffin cups with the bacon drippings. Reserve 1/2 cup of the bacon drippings to cool. 
Use a sharp knife the remove the kernels from the cob. You should have roughly 1 cup.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and cayenne pepper in a large bowl. In another bowl whisk in milk, eggs and 1/2 cup of bacon drippings. Then add bacon, 1 1/2 cups of cheese, (the rest is for topping) corn, and chives. Stir the milk mixture into the flour mixtureuntil blended. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 18 minutes. They should be golden and toothpick should come out clean in center. Let the muffins cool slightly before removing them. Use a sharp knife to loosen them around the edges. Open the muffin and spread with butter.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Banana Pancakes

I don't know why I haven't posted this sooner. One of my favorite musicians is Jack Johnson and I just love his song, "Banana Pancakes."  I've just added the song to my playlist and you can just get caught up in the sweet laziness of it. Here's my tribute to both Jack and banana pancakes :)

2 cups Fiber One™ Complete pancake mix (from 28.3-oz box)

1 1/3 cups cold water

1/2 cup mashed ripe banana

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts


1 firm ripe banana, sliced

2 teaspoons chopped walnuts

1/4 cup fat-free caramel topping

1. Heat skillet or griddle over medium-high heat or to 375°F. Grease with vegetable oil or shortening.

2. In medium bowl, stir pancake mix and water with fork or wire whisk until smooth (batter will be thin). Stir in mashed banana and 2 tablespoons walnuts.

3. For each pancake, pour slightly less than 1/4 cup batter into hot greased skillet. Cook until bubbles break on surface and edges just begin to dry. Turn; cook about 1 minute or until bottoms are golden brown.

4. Serve pancakes topped with sliced banana, 2 teaspoons walnuts and the caramel topping.

Jack Johnson

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Somebody found their sweet tooth!

As most of you know, I'm the weird girl who's not a big fan of chocolate. My friend Carrie would tell me one of these days she was going to make me a potato chip cake! I just prefer the salty treats over sweets. Don't get me wrong, it's not that chocolate is a bad thing. I have peanut M&M's on my kitchen counter right now :) But if the choice is there I tend to stick with salt. Oddly enough, out of nowhere a sweet tooth popped out. The dark chocolate stocking stuffers I bought for my husband now fascinate me. Thank you Daniel for sharing ;)  Again, the tooth starts calling last night and at 8:30 the kitchen lights go back on and I'm headed for the stove. I have a bowl of fresh fruit on my kitchen island and Honey Crisp Apples are a staple. Grabbed the apples, a stick of butter, some cinnamon and brown sugar and heated the skillet. If you've never had a Honey Crisp, you don't know what you're missing. They are so sweet and juicy all on their own but I just wanted that fuzzy feeling from warm apples and syrupy goodness. If your sweet tooth is calling, answer it with this yummy treat. Perfect on it's own or as a great ice cream topping!

2 Honey Crisp Apples, sliced ( I didn't peel mine )
1 stick of butter ( Paula Deen would be proud )
1 cup of brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup of Hershey's Caramel Syrup

In a skillet over medium heat melt the butter and brown sugar. Then add apples and cinnamon. Toss and cook for 15-20 minutes. We still like our apples with a slight crunch and cook it for only 10 minutes. Serve in a favorite bowl and drizzle with caramel. Maybe try topping it with some whip cream...the possibilties are endless.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Shrimp Ceviche

I, along with so many love this dish from Liza that I just had to post it and share with you. It's fun, festive and a must have for any cocktail party or Cinco de Mayo celebration.


2 pounds cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon of crushed garlic

1/2 cup finely chopped red onions

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

1 1/2 cups tomato and clam juice cocktail

1/4 cup ketchup

/4 cup fresh lime juice 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce or to taste

1/4 cup prepared horseradish

salt to taste

1 ripe avacado peeled, pitted, and chopped

Place the shrimp in a large bowl. Stir garlic, red onion, and cilantro. Mix in tomato and clam juice cocktail, ketchup, lime juice, hot pepper sauce, and horseradish. Season with salt. Gently stir in avacado. Cover and refrigerate 2-3 hours.

Strawberry Gorgonzola Salad

This refreshing salad has the sweetness from the berries but a good bite from the cheese. It pairs well with most poultry and meat dishes and is sure to impress guests with it's vibrant colors.

2  bunches of Romain lettuce, chopped
1 pint of fresh strawberries, sliced
1 container of gorgonzola cheese
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 package of Salad Accents Almonds, any variety will work
1 bottle of Brianna's Blush Dressing

Place lettuce in a large mixing bowl followed by strawberries, shallots, cheese and almonds. Drizzle dressing over the top and serve.

Green Bean Salad

2 bags of frozen whole green beans

1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, thinly sliced

Extra light olive oil

White balsamic vinegar, regular balsamic can be used as well.

Sliced almonds

Garlic salt


Rinse beans in a colander until thawed. Place in a large mixing bowl. Add onions. Coat with oil and vinegar, (3-1 ratio)

Add garlic salt and pepper to taste.

Mix and top with almonds. Can be served at room temp. or chilled.

Bloody Mary New York Strip Steak

If you're a fan of the drink, you will love this steak. The flavors blend nicely with this cut of meat but it will also work well with a ribeye or even a flank steak.

4 NY strip steaks

1 cup of Worcestershire sauce

2-3 tsp hot sauce

1 cup sea salt

1 Tbsp celery salt

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

1 Tbsp. onion powder

2 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Marinate the steaks in Worcestershire and hot sauce for 1 hour. In a small mixing bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. Coat each steak with the rub mixture and set out on the counter for 15 min. before grilling. (If there is leftover rub mixture it can be stored for a few weeks in a sealed container.)

Grill until medium rare or however you enjoy it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Grilled Lemon Chicken

1 package of whole cut up chicken
1/2 cup of olive oil, or enough to coat all pieces
zest from 2 lemons
juice from 2 lemons
1 lemon cut in half
3-4 cloves of minced garlic
1 Tbsp. of rosemary leaves, minced
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Season chicken with salt & pepper. In a bowl ( large enough to hold all the chicken too) combine oil, lemon zest,lemon juice, garlic, and rosemary. Place seasoned chicken in the dish and marinade for at leat 2 hours. Turn the chicken once while marinading. Once you're ready to cook, set your grill on low. Grill chicken 30-35 minutes or until completely cooked, depends on grill. When there is approx. 10 minutes left of cooking time place the lemon halves on the grill. Remove chicken from grill and allow it to rest for 10 min. Drizzle grilled lemon juice over the chicken and dust with sea salt again.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Pomegranite Cosmos

2 cups of good vodka
1 cup of Cointreau liquer
1 cup of cranberry juice
1/2 cup of pomegranite juice, try to use Pom and not a juice blend
1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice
Thinly sliced limes for garnish

Combine vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice, pomegranite juice and lime juice in a pitcher. Fill a cocktail shaker half way full with ice and add mixture. Shake and pour into martini glasses. Garnish with sliced lime.

Mango Banana Daiquiris

2 cups of chopped mango, 1-2 ripe ones (peeled and seeded)
1 ripe banana
juice from 4 limes
1/4 cup sugar syrup, to make this heat 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water antil it dissolves and chill.
1 and  1/4 cups of dark rum

Place all ingredients in a blender and run until smooth. Then add 2 cups of ice and run again until it thickens. Serve in chilled glasses.

On the Lighter Side

My last few dishes were on the rich side so I wanted to lighten things up a bit. I've been craving a good Caprese salad. While the dead of winter is not the ideal time for tomatoes, the flavors of the dressing will really perk them up. When purchasing your mozzarella try to find a good fresh one. Buffalo mozzarella would be ideal but use what you can find. Also during the summer months, switch up the dish by using a variety of tomatoes such as heirloom, yellow and even orange tomtatoes. This is a nice opener to an Italian dinner or light dinner in itself with a good crusty bread.

2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 package of mozzarella, sliced into the same size rounds as the tomatoes
1 package of fresh basil, torn
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Sea salt, about 1 Tbsp.
Black pepper, about 1 tsp.

Alternate sliced cheese and tomatoes then arrange on a platter. Sprinkle torn basil on top. Drizzle olive oil over the salad followed by a couple of dashes of  balsamic vinegar, ( oil to vinegar is a 3 to 1 ratio.) Add salt and pepper and enjoy!

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

4 cleaned mushroom caps

1 lb hamburger or ground turkey

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1 tbsp horseradish

4 slices of provolone cheese

preheat grill

Brush mushroom caps with olive oil and rub w/ sea salt and pepper. Brown meat in skillet and then add remaining ingredients. Salt & pepper to taste. Mix well. Spoon mixture into mushrooms, grill until tender and top with cheese right before removing from grill.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fruit Salsa

Here's a nice way to top your grilled chicken, pork, or turkey tenderloin. This fruit salsa is so refreshing and somewhat addicting. During these winter months it's a nice reminder of all the fruit we'll look foward to this Spring.

2 large cans of crushed pineapple, use the juice
1 large can of mandarin oranges, drained
1 small bunch of cilantro leaves, minced
1 small red onion, diced
2 jalapenos, minced

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and chill for 1 hour.

Other variations can be used. You could also add mango or kiwi.

Not just a dip anymore!

I've found another way to consume more of my favorite dip. Spinach artichoke dip is one of my favorites and I added it to dish while I was in one of my "creative" moods. Dan always laughs when he askes me what's for dinner and I respond with "a surprise!" It means I have become bored at some point in the day and just decided to make up a recipe. This is a good one if you're a fan of the dip.

1 package of manacotti
1 16oz. container of ricotta
1 pre made container of spinach artichoke dip, approx. 8 ounces or so
1 egg
2 cups of your favorite tomato pasta sauce
1 cup of mozzarella
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. While it's boiling mix the dip, ricotta, and egg in a small mixing bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Drain pasta and lay out on a dish towl. Spread enough pasta sauce to lightly cover a 13x9 dish. Fill each manacotti with mixture and arrange in dish. Cover with remaining pasta sauce. Spread mozzarella over manacotti. Now you can cook this right away in a 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or this can be chilled and cooked later in the day. I usually make 2 batches and freeze one for later. If cooking from frozen lightly spray aluminum foil with Pam and cover before baking. This will stop the cheese from sticking to your foil. It may take up to an hour to bake if you don't defrost it first. Another option for this dish is to use the mixture for stuffed shells. Either way, you can't go wrong!

Southwest Macaroni Salad

This is such a nice alternative to your same old store bought macaroni salad. While it may be more convenient to run to the deli department and pick up a pound or two, this one will by far be more of a crowd pleaser! I love to serve this with my BBQ chicken or a nice ribeye.

1 pound macaroni elbows or corkscrew shaped hollow pasta

1 cup frozen corn, defrosted

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 small red onion, chopped

4 ribs celery, chopped

Salt, to taste

Black pepper, to taste

8-ounce brick Monterey pepper jack cheese, cubed

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, eyeball it

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it

1 and ½ cups of store bought tomatillo salsa (mild, green)

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves

Bring water to a boil, salt it and add pasta.

While pasta water is coming up to a boil and cooking, combine corn, pepper, onion and celery in a bowl with pepper Jack cheese. Season the veggies with salt and pepper.

Run pasta under cold water to cool it and drain it well. Add pasta to vegetables and cheese.

Place vinegar in a small bowl and whisk in extra-virgin olive oil, then fold in salsa. Pour sauce over salad and toss to coat evenly. Garnish salad with cilantro and serve.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pesto Salmon

Pesto is nice compliment to this fish without over powering it. I like to serve it on top of a bed of wild rice and steamed veggies. Grilled asparagus goes great as well.

1 large salmon fillet
Olive oil, enough to caot fish fillet.
1 package of Knorr pesto mix, or any other brand
1 lemon, sliced thin

Place fish onto a large piece of foil. Coat with oil and then sprinkle the entire pesto pack on top. Layer the lemon slices on top of the fish and close foil to make a tent.

Grill for 25-30 min.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Easy Tortellini

This dish is great if you're pressed for time but want something delicious. There are a couple of variations of it but this one is the original. I dedicate this recipe to my dear friend Ami. I still remember directing you to the ingredients for this dish over the phone while you were in Safeway :) Ah, the good old days! Come to think of it, maybe I should post another one of Ami's faves, Fruit Salsa!

2 packages of Butoni tortellini, any flavor will work. I use one cheese and one chicken with mushroom.
1 shallot, sliced thin
1 container of fresh basil, roll all leaves togther and slice into thin strips (chiffonade)
1 wedge of parmesan to shave on top of pasta
Extra light olive oil
1 tsp. garlic salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp. black pepper, or to taste

Saute shallots in 2 Tbsp. of oil over medium high heat in a deep saute pan for about 10 minutes. In a large pot bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and add to shallot pan. Coat with olive oil and fold in basil. Let pasta stand for 10 min on low heat. Then with a vegetable peeler, shave parmesan wedge over the pasta and serve. I like a crisp Pinot Grigio with this dish but it will hold up to your favortie red wine as well.