Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wild Rice with Apples

There's something about wild rice that makes me feel like I am eating something really healthy. Oh wait, I am. It's even better when it tastes as good as this rice does. I used a rice blend instead of just wild rice. I think I am going to make this for the next vegan party I attend.

Wild Rice with Apples
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, divided
2 cups chopped Pink Lady apple
1 cup chopped leek
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 cup apple cider
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 cups uncooked wild rice
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add apple; sauté 7 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Remove from pan.

Reduce heat to medium. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in pan. Add leek; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring occasionally. Stir in broth, 2 cups water, cider, and thyme; bring to a boil. Stir in rice; reduce heat, and simmer 55 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Drain and discard excess liquid. Return rice mixture to pan over medium heat. Stir in apple, pecans, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pineapple Lassi

Like food, I love having new recipes for drinks all the time. This Cooking Light recipe is very good. Tastes very yogurty. Maybe not like a real lassi, but good nonetheless. I used some Greek yogurt. Thick, creamy and nonfat.

Pineapple Lassi

2 cups vanilla low-fat yogurt

1 cup canned crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
1/4 cup light coconut milk
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon bottled ground fresh ginger (such as Spice World)
6 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a blender; process until well blended. Serve immediately.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Veggie -loaded Tangy Tuna Salad

When my husband asked for tuna salad or lunch, I thought it was the perfect excuse to try this tuna salad. I have been making mine the same way forever, and I never order it at a restaurant. It's easy: tuna, miracle whip, mustard and relish. Never even measure. Well this recipe is basically the same . . . just with some veggies added. It gives it a crunchiness and makes it better for you. Sounds good to me.

Veggie-loaded Tangy Tuna Salad

8 ounce can of tuna packed in water, drained
1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper (I used green, you can use any color)
1/4 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup fat-free mayo or miracle whip
2 tsp honey mustard (or regular mustard)
1 tsp sweet relish
dash of salt
dash of pepper

Combine tuna, mayo, relish, mustard, salt and pepper. Add veggies. Stir and spread on bread or crackers.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nonna's Lemon Ricotta Muffins

Wow! If you make these (and you should), you have to eat one when it is still warm from the oven. Soooooo good. These look tasty and are tasty. Thank you Giada De Laurentiis.

Nonna's Lemon Ricotta Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar or more as needed for sprinkling
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup thinly sliced almonds

Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup sugar, butter, and lemon zest in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the ricotta. Beat in the egg, lemon juice, and almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended (the batter will be thick and fluffy).

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the almonds and then the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar over the muffins. Bake until the muffins just become pale golden on top, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sausage and Zucchini Rice

What to do with a giant zucchini from the Farmers Market? Make Rachael Ray's Sausage and Zucchini Rice. I think it would be very easy to substitute what you have in this recipe. I used chicken sausage and basil instead of parsley.

Sausage and Zucchini Rice

4 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1-1/2 cups rice
One 32-ounce container (4 cups) chicken broth
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, casings discarded
2 zucchini, cut into small cubes
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and 3 cups chicken broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the sausage, breaking it up, over medium heat until no longer pink, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a plate. Add the zucchini to the skillet and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Return the sausage to the skillet, add the remaining 1 cup chicken broth and 1/2 cup water and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the rice along with 1/2 cup Parmesan, the parsley and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan and the pine nuts.

Vegetarian option: Skip the sausage and cook the zucchini in extra-virgin olive oil with corn kernels and sliced mushrooms.

Zucchini Cake

I think that this recipe came from my aunt. I'm not sure. It's been awhile. I usually make it as a bundt cake, but opted for muffin form this time. You just need to cook it for less time if you make muffins. MMMM, just as good as carrot cake.

Zucchini Cake

3 eggs, beaten

2 cups flour
1½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup oil
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups grated zucchini
1 teaspoon baking powder

Shift together all dry ingredients, then add eggs, oil, and zucchini. Pour into floured bundt cake pan and bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Cool and shift powdered sugar over top.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pomegranate Fish ....I mean Candied Orange Peel

I searched high and low for pomegranate molasses a while ago when I wanted to try pomegranate molasses baked beans. Found it. The beans tasted horrible. Incredibly tart. I thought I would try another recipe with my leftover molasses. It was also horrible. Pomegranate Fish That recipe required candied orange peel. No idea where to find that. Checked several grocery stores and finally decided to make it myself. I found a simple recipe on the Food Network website and now I know how to make candied orange peel--which many people consider a candy and make it during the holidays.

Candied Orange Peel

6 thick-skinned Valencia or navel oranges

4 1/2 cups sugar, plus extra for rolling
1 1/2 cups water

Cut tops and bottoms off of the orange and score the orange into quarters, cutting down only into the peel and not into the fruit. Peel the skin and pith of the orange in large pieces, use the orange for another recipe. Cut the peel into strips about 1/4-inch wide. Put the orange peel in a large saucepan with cold water to cover, bring to a boil over high heat. Then pour off the water. Repeat 1 or 2 more times depending up how assertive you want the orange peels to be. (Test kitchen liked the texture of a 3 time blanch best, it also mellowed the bitterness. But it is a matter of preference.) Remove the orange peels from the pan.

Whisk the sugar with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 9 minutes
(If you took the sugar's temperature with a candy thermometer it would be at the soft thread stage, 230 to 234 degrees F.) Add the peels and simmer gently, reducing heat to retain a simmer. Cook until the peels get translucent, about 45 minutes. Resist the urge to stir the peels or you may introduce sugar crystals into the syrup. If necessary, swirl the pan to move the peels around. Drain the peels, (save the syrup for ice tea.) Roll the peels in sugar and dry on a rack, for 4 to 5 hours. Return to the sugar to store.

Cook's Note: One way to use orange peels is to stuff a dried date with a piece of orange peel and almond, then dip the entire thing into dark chocolate.

Meatball Subs

I never have been one to crave meatball subs or order them at the sandwich shop. I hate soggy bread and the idea of sauce on bread makes me think "soggy." This Rachael Ray recipe is tasty and I can eat it fast enough not to worry about soggy bread--and the broiling of it helps give it a little crunch. I actually started to look up an alternative recipe. I thought I would try a new one. When I found a listing for a recipe for a sandwich that the person claimed came from a small Italian restaurant, I discovered it was actually Rachael Ray's recipe. The little fibber. I took that as a sign to make them again. They were just as tasy this time as the first time.

Meatball Subs


1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup (3 handfuls), Italian bread crumbs
1 medium onion, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons (several drops) Worcestershire sauce,
1/4 cup (a couple of handfuls) flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 cup (a couple of handfuls) grated Parmigiano or Romano
Coarse salt and black pepper

5 Minute Marinara Sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, (2 turns around the pan)
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
A handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, about 2 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (28 ounces) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14 ounces) can chunky style crushed tomatoes  (not sure what this is, so I use petite diced)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 semolina crusty sub rolls, with or without sesame seeds
1 (10-ounce) bag (2 1/2 cups) shredded provolone or Italian 4-cheese blend
Shredded basil (sweet) or shredded arugula (spicy) leaves, for garnish
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Place ground sirloin in a large mixing bowl and punch a well into the center of meat. Fill well with the egg, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, Worcestershire, parsley, cheese, and a little salt and pepper. Mix up meatball ingredients until well combined, yet not over-mixed. Divide mix into 4 equal parts, roll each part into 4 balls and space equally onto a nonstick baking sheet. Place meatballs in oven and roast about 12 minutes. Break a meatball open and make sure meat is cooked through before removing from the oven.

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add oil and garlic. When garlic starts sizzling, add herbs and crushed pepper. Allow oil to infuse for half a minute, then stir in the tomatoes and season sauce with salt and pepper. Bring sauce to a bubble, reduce heat, and simmer until meatballs are removed from oven.

Combine meatballs and sauce and pile into sub rolls, 4 meatballs per sub. Top with shredded cheese and place under subs under broiler to melt cheese. Top with shredded basil or arugula.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Alton Brown's Moo-Less Chocolate Pie

I was suprised to see one of Alton Brown's favorite recipes is vegan. This pie is not for the faint of heart. It is extremely rich and chocolatey. The chocolate comes ot creamy and thick and beautiful. I think the next time I make it, I will have to cut the chocolate layer in half and use a layer of somehing else as well. Maybe a nice creamy peanut butter layer or pudding-type layer. Or sprinkle some nuts on top as well.

Alton Brown's Moo-less Chocolate Pie

2 cups chocolate chips, can be vegan or not depending on if you are vegan or not

1/3 cup coffee liqueur (I used Kahlua, but you can try amaretto, orange or chocolate liquor)
1 block silken tofu
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
1 prepared chocolate wafer crust (I made my own, you can use graham cracker or crushed vegan cookies)
Place a small metal bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. Melt the chocolate and coffee liqueur in the bowl. Stir in vanilla.

Combine the tofu, chocolate mixture, and honey in the blender jar (food processor works better at getting tofu creamy). Liquefy until smooth. Pour the filling into the crust and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until the filling is set.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cheesy-good Breakfast Tartlets

These little tartlets from Hungry Girl are like little omelets snuggled into some toasted wonton wrappers. Yum. Easy to make, but more of a weekend breakfast since there are several steps. I used to wonton wrappers to make the little cups.

Cheesy-good Breakfast Tartlets

1 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute
8 (or 16) square wonton wrappers
2 slices lean turkey bacon
1 cup chopped mushroom
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Swiss cheese, room temp
2 T fat free cream cheese, room temp
Margarine spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray muffin pan with cooking spray. Spray a few sprays on each side of wonton wrapper, using your finger to spread evenly. Place wrappers in muffin tins and form cup shape. Cook for 10 minutes until brown and firm.

Cook bacon until crisp. Microwave is usually easiest for this. Break into pieces. In a small bowl, combine egg, 1/4 tsp salt, and scallions. In another small bowl, stir together cheeses. Microwave for 15 seconds and stir again.

Spray and heat a medium pan to medium heat and cook eggs until it starts to form solid bits. Add cheese. Stir and cook until solid. Remove from heat and add bacon. Distribute egg mixture into cups. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Harissa Spiced Chicken with Bulgur

I decided to find harissa when I saw Jeffrey Saad use it on the Next Food Network Star. I didn't want to make his recipe, I was just intrigued by the spice. After searching for a recipe, I found this Assyrian dish (although it was also listed as Armenian??). One of my favorite Lord Byron poems has an Assyrian in it, so it won me over. This recipe is very healthy, unique, easy, and tasty. That's a win-win-win-win scenario if I ever saw one. I found the harissa at our huge Asian market (LeeLee). It may be a little hard to find. It can also be made from scratch if you cannot find it. Harissa Recipe Some of the measurements are in metric since this recipe is from the BBC.

Harissa Spiced Chicken with Bulgur

1 tbsp harissa paste

4 skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp vegetable oil or sunflower oil
1 onion , halved and sliced
2 tbsp pine nuts
handful dried apricot
300g bulghar wheat
600ml hot chicken stock 
handful coriander , leaves only, chopped

Rub 1 tbsp harissa paste over the chicken. Heat the oil in a deep non-stick pan, then fry the chicken for about 3 mins on each side, until just golden (it won't be cooked through at this stage). Remove and set aside.

Add the onions, then gently fry for 5 mins until soft. Tip in the pine nuts and continue cooking for another few mins until toasted. Tip in the apricots, bulghar and stock, then season and cover. Cook for about 10 mins until the stock is almost absorbed. Return the chicken to the pan, re-cover and cook for 5 mins on a low heat until the liquid has been absorbed and the chicken is cooked through. Fluff up the bulghar with a fork and scatter with the coriander to serve.

Turkey-tastic Creamy Shirataki Bowls

I haven't liked all the recipes from my Hungry Girl cookbook. Mostly, I don't think the desserts I have tried are worth making. I have had better luck with the rest of the recipes I have tried. This one is very good. The tofu noodles are hard to find. Sprouts carries them. You can easily substitute other noodles if you can't find them or don't like them. My husband doesn't really like them, so we substituted.

Turkey-tastic Creamy Shirataki Bowls

1 lb extra-lean ground turkey
 2 packages House Foods Tofu Shirataki Spaghetti Shaped Noodle Substitute
8 ounce can of sliced water chestnuts, drained
10.75 ounce can low fat cream of mushroom soup
1 wedge The Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss cheese, room temp
3 cups broccoli florets (or if you forget to get the broccoli, whatever vegies you have)
1 cup fat-free chicken broth
1 cup shredded carrots
6 T fat-free sour cream
1/2 cup chopped scallions
2 T dry onion soup/dip seasoning mix
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp seasoned salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Rinse and drain noodles well. Cut noodles and set aside.

Combine soup, 1/4 cup water, cheese wedge, and sour cream. Mix until combined and set aside.

Season turkey with pepper, salt, and garlic powder. Combine onion seasoning with 1/2 cup water. Spray pan with nonstick spray and bring to medium heat. Add turkey and onion seasoning mixture. Cook until browned and liquid absorbed. Transfer to a bowl.

Respray pan and add noodles, broccoli, broth,carrots, and water chestnuts. Stir until hot.

Return turkey to pan and continue cooking until vegetables have softened. Add scallions and sauce. Stir and cook for a minute until hot and sauce is distributed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bakerella's Cupcake Bites/Pops

I recently found these adorable little cupcake bites--and also cupcake pops-- through my food and party blog surfing. I guess I am a little behind, because they were already on Martha Stewart's show over a year ago. Hmm. Well they are still super cute and easy. Okay, you do need to put a little effort into it and to make them as cute as Bakerella's you need to practice with the whole melted chocolate/dipping technique. I chose not to put them on sticks since I was only making them for practice and sent them with my husband to work. He says they taste like hostess cupcakes. That's not a bad thing. There are endless possibilities of flavors and designs. I used Devil's Food cake and cream cheese frosting--store bought. You can make your own or buy it and use any flavor combo you want. I attempted to make the ones that look like cupcakes. The chocolate pooled and dripped a little bit. But still cute. If you google cupcake pops, you can find holiday theme ones, Hello Kitty, basic round ones . . .. you can make whatever your imagination can create.

Bakerella's Cupcake Bites/Pops
1 13X9 baked cake (from a box cake mix or from scratch … any flavor)

1 can cream cheese frosting (or about 2 cups equivalent from scratch)
1 flower shaped cookie cutter (1.25" wide X .75" tall)
1 package chocolate bark
1 package pink candy melts or white chocolate bark
bowls for dipping
wax paper
aluminum foil
lollipop sticks
sprinkles, m&ms or something similar for top of cupcake
small plastic treat bags and ribbon to package the Cupcake Pops
candy cups and truffle boxes to individually package the Cupcake Bites
styrofoam block

Bake cake and cool completely. Crumble cake with hands or use food processor. Stir frosting into cake crumbs. May not need entire can- start with 3/4. Roll cake into 1.25 to 1.5 inch balls. Cover and put in refrigerator for a few hours or freezer for 15 minutes. Using a small flower cookie/fondant cutter, roll balls into more of an oval shape and place 1/2 into cutter. Press bottom half into cutter and round the top half. When finished, return to refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Melt chocolate for bottoms. Dip bottoms into chocolate. Place on sticks if using them. Put sticks in styrofoam to set chocolate. If not using sticks, place on wax paper or other nonstick surface. When set, melt colored or white candy melts or bark. Dip top half  and place an M&M and sprinkle on top. Return to styrofoam or wax paper. Package however you would like :)

To see better instructions visit or check out her link to the Martha Stewart clip

Olive Oil Pasta Sauce

Okay, I know you are thinking "Wow, that ravioli looks awesome. I can't believe you made that." I didn't. It was pretty tasty though. I did make the sauce for it. I wanted something that would highlight, not overpower, the ravioli. It was successful.

Olive Oil Pasta Sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Black pepper
Parmesean cheese

Warm oil and garlic on medium heat for a few minutes until turns golden. Take off heat and add remaining ingredients. Add to pasta. If you want, you can add the cheese separately so it doesn't clump in the sauce. I was going to add some pine nuts, but I didn't have any. Try it!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Corn Dogs

I found this recipe while flipping through the "Food Network Favorites" cookbook. I never thought of making corn dogs from scratch before that, but once I saw the picture of Alton Brown's corn dogs I was hooked. He has an amazing abililty to make something everyday into something special. The downside to this recipe is you have to buy a lot of oil and then dispose of that oil. The upside is they taste amazing. You can make a large batch and freeze them and then just heat them up in the oven.

Corn Dogs

1 gallon peanut oil (if you are having trouble finding a large container, try an Asian supermarket or wait until Thanksgiving)

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons (approximately 1 large) jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced
1 (8.5-ounce) can cream-style corn
1/3 cup finely grated onion
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons cornstarch, for dredging
8 beef hot dogs (can use whatever dogs you want, I've even used soy dogs before)
Special equipment: 8 sets chopsticks, not separated (pilfer from Panda, or buy them at an Asian supermarket)

Pour oil into a deep fryer or large heavy pot and heat to 375 degrees F. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cayenne pepper. In a separate bowl, combine the jalapeno, corn, onion, and buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients all at once, and stir only enough times to bring the batter together; there should be lumps. Set batter aside and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Scatter the cornstarch into a dry pie pan. Roll each hot dog in the cornstarch and tap well to remove any excess.

Transfer enough batter to almost fill a large drinking glass. Refill the glass as needed. Place each hot dog on chopsticks, and quickly dip in and out of the batter. Immediately and carefully place each hot dog into the oil, and cook until coating is golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. With tongs, remove to cooling rack, and allow to drain for 3 to 5 minutes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Butternut Hash Browns

Who doesn't love hash browns? Well they aren't limited to potatoes. This recipe is a light version from the cookbook "Hungry Girl: 200 Under 200" using butternut squash. Not a vegetable that I use very often. It can be hard to cut. I skinned it with a sharp chefs knife and then grated it with a box grater. You could definitely use olive oil if you wanted to, but I thought it was pretty tasty with just the cooking spray. This recipe is for one serving.

Butternut Hash Browns

1 cup grated butternut squash
2 T chopped onion
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
dash pepper
dash salt
cooking spray

Spread squash on a paper towel and press another piece on top. Squeeze out liquid. Repeat until water is removed. Mix shreds and remaining ingredients to a medium bowl.

Spray pan with cooking spray and bring to medium-high heat. Add mixture and spray on top. Cook 2 minutes. Flip and cook 2 minutes more.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Caramel Apples

I have a love/hate relationship with caramel apples. I love the taste of caramel and apples, but I hate that you finish the caramel before you finish the apple. I had 2 bags of little apples from our produce basket and decided that it was the perfect time to try a caramel apple. The ratio is so much better with little apples. Like most candies I try to make, I need more practice. The caramel turned out very tasty, but the dipping process was a little tricky. I used mini M&M's, chopped peanuts, and crushed Skor bars. The peanuts worked the best. The M&M's would fall off more and the Skor bits had to be refrigerated since they became melty (also more difficult to transport in the hot AZ summer). Overall, I would say "yum." If there are any vegans wanting to try making caramel apples, I saw this one but have not tried it. Vegan Caramel Apples

Caramel Apples

1 cup real butter
2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1 cups light corn syrup
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
8-10 medium-sized apples, sticks inserted in tops

Over medium-high heat, stir together the butter, sugar, corn syrup, and condensed milk in a heavy sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Cook about 30-40 minutes (don't stir often, as you'll risk crystallization), until the caramel darkens and thickens. It should reach the "firm ball" stage of candy-making. This means that, upon dropping the caramel into cold water, a firm ball forms. This ball shouldn't flatten when you remove it from the water, but should still easily change shape when you touch it. With a candy thermometer the temp should read 245-250 degrees F.  Remove finished caramel from the heat. Stir in vanilla extract. Dip apples into hot caramel. In order to get as thick a caramel coating as possible, dip each apple at an angle and rotate within the caramel. Pull apple out vertically and allow excess caramel to drip off. Then turn the apple right-side-up a moment (as if you were about to eat it) and let the caramel settle for a few seconds. This prevents large bare spots at the top of the apple. Place apples on greased wax paper or foil. While caramel is still warm and soft, decorate as desired. (Unless dipping apples in chocolate, in which case the caramel needs to be allowed to set).  Let cool to set.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

I have been making cream cheese sugar cookies forever. It's a recipe from my aunt, and she would help my cousins, sister and me make these cookies for Christmas every year. I still make them now. They can be frosted many ways. This cookie is from my friend's son's first birthday party and is decorated with royal icing. I recently learned to use the royal icing. It is not that hard, but can be very time consuming. When I was a kid, we would use egg whites colored with food coloring and then bake them. Or we would use a buttercream frosting and decorate them with cake decorating bags and tips.

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

1 cup sugar plus 1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup butter
3 ounces of cream cheese
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
2&3/4 cups flour

Cream together all ingredients except flour. Gradually add flour and mix well. Form dough into 2 balls to prepare for rolling. Chill dough. Rollout on floured surface and cut with cookie cutters. Bake on cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes or until edges brown slightly. If you use margarine, dough will be softer. If you use butter, dough will be more firm.


1 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk or 1/2 cup water
1&1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 pounds powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients. I ususally add the powdered sugar last, slowly and carefully. To make it chocolate, use 1 cup less sugar and 1 cup of cocoa.

Royal Icing

2 tsp lemon juice
2 egg whites
3 cups powdered sugar

Combine all ingredients. Add tiny amounts of water to get to desired consistency. See the Joy of Baking website for tips on how to use. Joy of Baking

Tex-Mex Pasta

This is another one of my Cooking Light favorites. It's so easy. If you love tacos but want to make something a little different, this is perfect. I have yet to find the radiatore pasta at a regular grocery store, so I use fusili or rotini. You can use ground beef and be flexible with the ingredients. I have to add the olives and tomatoes to my bowl, since my husband doesn't like them. We usually don't add the sour cream topping ... it doesn't need it.

Tex-Mex Pasta

1 pound uncooked radiatore pasta (short coiled pasta)
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
2/3 cup water
1 (1.25-ounce) package 40%-less-sodium taco seasoning
2 cups (8 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat Mexican blend cheese
2 cups chopped seeded tomato
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup sliced ripe olives
1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

Sour Cream Sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (8-ounce) container reduced-fat sour cream
Salsa (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain; set aside.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add turkey; cook until browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in water and taco seasoning; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates and the turkey is done, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

Combine pasta, turkey mixture, reduced-fat cheese, and next 6 ingredients (through beans) in a large bowl.

Combine lime juice, salt, cumin, and sour cream, stirring until well blended. Pour over pasta mixture; toss gently to coat. Serve with salsa, if desired.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Corn Salsa

I really wanted to make Black Bean and Corn Salsa, but I didn't have any black beans. This was a decent salsa recipe. It's better on a taco, but is pretty good with chips. I grilled my corn on the cob and cut it off the cob.

Corn Salsa

2 cups corn kernels

1/3 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup red bell pepper

3 T cilantro

2 T lime juice

1 to 2 T finely chopped jalapeno pepper

1/2 tsp salt.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Slow Cooker Beef and Bean Burritos

Okay, so I have been posting a lot of slow cooker recipes. They are perfect for the summer though. Who wants to use the oven when it's 109 outside, really? Actually, I make this recipe ALL the time. It's really good. Beans are not necessary.

Slow Cooker Beef and Bean Burritos

1 (2-pound) London broil
1 (1.25-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
Cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles
1 (16-ounce) can fat-free refried beans
12 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 1/2 cups chopped plum tomato
3/4 cup fat-free sour cream

Trim fat from meat; rub seasoning mix over both sides of meat. Place meat in an electric slow cooker coated with cooking spray; add onion, vinegar, and green chiles. Cover with lid; cook on low-heat setting for 9 hours. Remove meat from slow cooker, reserving cooking liquid; shred meat with two forks. Combine meat and reserved cooking liquid; stir well.

Warm beans and tortillas according to package directions. Spread 2 tablespoons beans down the center of each tortilla. Spoon a heaping 1/3 cup meat mixture on top of beans. Top each with 2 tablespoons cheese, 2 tablespoons tomato, and 1 tablespoon sour cream; roll up.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Garam Masala Chicken Pot Pie

This is another recipe from Jeffrey Saad, the runner-up from The Next Food Network Star. I liked it a lot more than the lasagna I made of his. My husband loved it. It is very flavorful. Spicy and full of spice. I love the traditional pot pie, but this is excellent as well. For those vegans and vegetarians out there, I recommend trying if without the chicken and adding another vegetable... or just using faux chicken.

Garam Masala Chicken Pot Pie

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
4 boneless and skinless chicken thighs ( I used a large chicken breast)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus 2 teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons salted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting puff pastry
3 cups chicken stock
1 russet potato, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala, plus more for sprinkling
2 sheets (1 pound package) frozen puff pastry, defrosted slightly
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a medium-size pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and brown on both sides until golden, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken from the pan to a cutting board and reserve.

To the same pot add the garlic, shallots, and carrots and saute until golden. Remove the vegetables to a bowl and reserve. Turn the heat down to medium.

Melt the butter in the pot, whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the chicken stock, and potatoes and cook until potatoes are mostly cooked but still firm, about 8 to 10 minutes. The chicken stock will have thickened to a sauce consistency. Turn off the heat.Chop the chicken into chunks and add the chicken and veggies back to the pot. Stir in the peas, and then the 1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala and 2 teaspoons salt. Ladle the mixture into 4 (10-ounce) oven safe bowls.

On a flat work suface, dust the puff pastry with flour and roll it out just a little thinner than it comes. Cut the puff pastry in squares large enough to hang over the sides of each bowl. Cover the bowls with the puff pastry pressing down around the sides. Brush with a touch of olive oil and sprinkle with some more garam masala. Cut a slit in the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape. Transfer to the oven and bake until the tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Pear Almond Crostata

I find it terribly amusing that there is a show on Food Network based on a South Park song. It's called "What Would Brian Boitano Make?" Yes, the figure skater. He is quite the ham on the show. He made this pear thing and I had pears. What other reason do I need. I did make the executive decision not to use almond paste. It's expensive. Instead I used a pie crust and just made one big crostata. It was yummy.

Pear Almond Crostata

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
2 eggs, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 (7-ounce) packages almond paste (or whatever crust you want to use)
2 Bartlett pears
1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
2 tablespoons raw sugar
1 pint cherry vanilla ice cream
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
8 fresh mint sprigs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, add cream cheese, sugar, flour, 1 egg and vanilla. Beat with a hand mixer until well blended and smooth. Set aside.

Divide each package of almond paste into 4 equal portions. On a floured work surface roll each portion into a 6-inch round, about 1/8-inch thick. Put 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese filling into the center of each round. Spread the filling out in an even layer, about 1/2-inch from the edge of the round.

Quarter each pear and remove the core. Cut each quarter into 5 slices. Fan out 5 of the pear slices on top of the filling in the center of 1 of the rounds. Gently fold the edge of the almond paste round over the edge of the filling. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets and repeat with the remaining almond rounds, filling and pears.

Whisk together the remaining egg and 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl until well blended. Using a pastry brush lightly brush each crostata with the egg wash and sprinkle each with the raw sugar.

Put the baking sheets into the oven and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. Serve each crostata on individual plates with a small scoop of ice cream and garnished with sliced almonds and mint

Monday, September 7, 2009

Terry's Ribs

Ribs. Some people love them. Chili's made a song about them. I've never been a fan. But the recipe that I got from my mother-in-law has changed my mind. I think it's because of the slow cooker. I don't like fatty meat, and I don't like eating meat off the bone. If you cook it long enough, the meat falls off the bone and the fat melts away. Not that these are at all healthy for ya, but they do taste good. I've made them in 4 hours, and I've made them in 7 to 8 hours. If you want the fall off the bone meat, cook them for 7 to 8 hours. Just be careful when you grill them, they really do fall off the bone.

I grew up on instant mashed potatoes, so I won't take it for granted that everyone knows how to make mashed potatoes. These mashed potatoes were the best ones I've ever made, so I am going to give you the "recipe."

Terry's Ribs
1 pack baby back ribs
Dry Rub
8 T brown sugar
3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup orange juice
1 bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce (or your favorite)
Feel free to guess on the measurements, I did (except the brown sugar). Cut meat to fit in your slow cooker and rub with marinade. Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight. Mix 1 cup orange juice with 1 bottle of barbecue sauce and cover ribs in slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 to 8 hours. Grill to add char, about 10 minutes.

Mashed Potatoes
Russet potatoes
Peel and quarter potatoes. I think it's better to use larger pieces. Boil for 30 minutes or until falls away from knife when stabbed. Drain potatoes, reserving some of the hot water to pour into the milk to warm it up. Return potatoes to pan and add butter and warmed milk. Mash with masher and add salt and pepper.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Popcorn with Rosemary Infused Oil

I don't make microwave popcorn anymore. So long butter. This is my favorite popcorn now. It is so addicting. Who knew that rosemary was the secret to amazing popcorn. Well, I guess Giada DeLaurentis knew. If you live in Arizona, rosemary grows very well here. So you can always have fresh rosemary on hand!

Popcorn with Rosemary Infused Oil

1 cup popcorn kernels
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Rosemary Infused Oil, recipe follows

Stir the popcorn kernels and 1/2 cup of the oil in a heavy large pot. Cover and cook over medium heat until the kernels have popped, shaking the pot halfway through cooking, about 3 minutes. Immediately transfer the popcorn to a large serving bowl. Toss the popcorn with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle with salt, to taste, and serve.

Rosemary Infused Oil:
1 cup olive oil
5 to 6 fresh rosemary sprigs (each 5 inches long)
Combine the oil and rosemary in a heavy small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Transfer the sprigs to a 4-ounce bottle or cruet. Add the oil and seal the lid. Refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches

This recipe was given to me by a co-worker, and it's the easiest thing in the world to make. I usually make it with pork butt. I decided to try lightening it up a little, and it was just as delicious. You can make your own barbecue sauce or use a store bought one.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches

1 packaged pork tenderloin (can use pork butt)
1 bottle liquid smoke
your favorite seasoning
flavor injector or syringe
barbecue sauce

Season meat and place in slow cooker. With an injector or syringe, draw up liquid smoke and inject in various places in meat. Pour what's left over top and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Shred meat with 2 forks and place on bun with your favorite barbecue sauce.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Chicken and Mushroom Casserole

I love to make up casseroles involving chicken, cream of mushroom soup and rice. I utilized my leftover rice and whatever vegetables I had. You can even use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store to save time. They always come out yummy, you can't mess it up. This recipe is what I made, feel free to experiment.

Chicken and Mushroom Casserole
I didn't actually measure anything, so these are approximates.

1 -2 cups cooked rice
1 pack mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1-2 chicken breasts, shredded
1/2 cup shredded cheese, plus some to top casserole
1 cup frozen vegetables (peas, corn, carrots or mixed vegetables)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon thyme

Saute onion, garlic and mushrooms in large skillet. Mix in rice, chicken, cheese, soup, and vegetables. Season with spices and spoon into casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove cover and cook 5 to 7 minutes more to brown cheese.

Homemade Applesauce

I had apples. Lots of apples. I thought it would be a good time to make something simple. My first go at applesauce, and I do believe it was successful. It's based off of the Ina Garten recipe, but I did not follow it exactly. I used Granny Smith and Fuji apples. The Fujis were huge and I used four and then four Granny Smiths of normal size. I used one orange and half of a lemon instead of two and one. I did not add any butter. I did add some apple peels, but they were hard to find to get them out, so beware. Instead of the oven, I stuck them in my crockpot all day and then mashed them with a potato masher.

Homemade Applesauce

2 large navel oranges, zested and juiced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
3 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 6 to 8 apples)
3 pounds sweet red apples, such as Macoun, McIntosh, or Winesap (about 6 to 8 apples)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the zest and juice of the oranges and lemon in a large bowl. Peel, quarter, and core the apples (reserving the peel of 2 of the red apples) and toss them in the juice. Pour the apples, reserved apple peel, and juice into a nonreactive Dutch oven or enameled iron pot. Add the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and allspice and cover the pot. Bake for 1 hour, or until all the apples are soft. Remove and discard the red apple peel. Mix with a whisk until smooth, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Sweet Orange Salmon

Being a girl who grew up on frozen fish sticks, I never really appreciated fish. Since then, I have learned to love it. Not everything. Catfish is still disgusting. But salmon is so yummy. This is a really easy rub from my Cooking Light magazine. So fast, so good.

Sweet Orange Salmon

2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
Cooking spray

Preheat broiler.
Combine first 8 ingredients in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture over both sides of salmon fillets. Place salmon on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil for 8 minutes or until salmon flakes easily when tested with a fork.