Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Slow-Cooker Chicken and Pasta Soup

4 carrots, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 long strips lemon zest
4 sprigs fresh dill, plus 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (1 ½ to 2 pounds)
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup small pasta, such as pastina (we used tiny stars)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
½ bunch fresh spinach, stemmed
Freshly ground pepper
4 ounces feta cheese
Lemon wedges and crusty bread, for serving

Combine the carrots, lemon zest, dill sprigs, olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt in a 5 to 6-quart slow-cooker. Season the chicken with salt and add to the cooker. Add the broth and 4 cups water, cover and cook on low, about 8 hours.

About 20 minutes before serving, add the pasta to the slow cooker, cover and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir the chopped dill, peas and spinach into the soup and cover until the spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Stir to break up the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and crumble the feta on top. Serve with lemon and bread, if desired.

Double Peanut Butter Paisley Brownies

½ cup butter, softened
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoons alt
1-2/3 cups (10-oz pkg) peanut butter chips
½ cup Hershey’s chocolate syrup

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

Beat butter and peanut butter in large bowl. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in vanilla.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt; mix into peanut butter mixture, blending well. Stir in peanut butter chips. Spread half of batter into prepared pan; spoon syrup over top. Carefully spread with remaining batter; swirl with metal spatula or knife for marbled effect.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares.

Creamy Chicken Penne

2 cups penne pasta
¾ pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 package (6 ounces) snow peas
1 small red pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 ½ cups milk
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
½ cup Romano cheese, grated
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

Cook pasta as directed on package. Meanwhile, cook chicken and onions in hot oil in large skillet for 6-8 minutes or until chicken is done, stirring frequently. Add snow peas, red pepper and garlic; cook and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.

Melt butter in medium saucepan. Stir in flour until well-blended. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to boil; cook on medium heat 2 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Add cream cheese, grated cheese, salt and black pepper; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until cream cheese is completely melted and sauce is well blended, stirring constantly.

Drain pasta; place in large bowl. Add chicken mixture and sauce; toss to coat. Top with parsley.

Raspberry Corn Muffins

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups yellow cornmeal
1 ½ cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
½ cup apricot nectar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 large eggs
2 cups frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners and spray with cooking spray OR spray tins with baking spray.

Whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, apricot nectar, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, orange juice and eggs until combined.

Whisk the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just moistened. Then gently fold in the raspberries; do not overmix.

Divide the batter among the prepared cups (you might have enough to make more than 12 muffins—we did). Bake until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool on a rack.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Layered Taco Salad

Bart made this for dinner tonight, and we all loved it! The flavors are fabulous! (We already had some taco meat in the freezer, so we just used that instead of making the taco meat as directed in the recipe.)

1 pound ground beef
2/3 cup water
1 envelope taco seasoning
2 medium ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
2 Tbsp finely chopped red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp lemon juice
4 cups shredded lettuce
1 can (2-1/4 oz.) sliced ripe olives, drained
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped
5 green onions, chopped
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup salsa
2 cups (16-oz.) sour cream
Tortilla chips

In a small skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in water and taco seasoning. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Cool slightly.

In a small bowl, mash avocados with onion, garlic and lemon juice. In a 3-quart glass bowl, layer beef, avocado mixture, lettuce, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, cheese, salsa and sour cream. Serve at once with chips.

Baked Ham-Stuffed Endive

I’ve been reading a lot of recipes for ham lately, so I bought a ham before Easter. It’s been fun to use the ham in a variety of recipes. This is one way we enjoyed it recently. For served this for dinner with a lettuce salad. This is a unique and delicious way to serve ham!

4 cups diced ham
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup diced red onion
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried oregano
12 endive leaves
2 tablespoons Italian-seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat a shallow roasting pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the ham, sour cream, onion, mustard, and oregano. Spoon the mixture equally into the endive leaves, then arrange the stuffed leaves in the prepared pan.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and Parmesan and sprinkle over the ham filling. Bake until the tops are golden brown and the leaves wilt, about 15 minutes.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

This stew is really good and easy to put together. It comes from Taste of Home 2004 Annual Recipes. It is under their Meals on a Budget section so it's pretty economical to make.

1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed (1 used 4 average size potatoes)
6 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch slices
1 medium onion, corasely chopped
3 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon browning sauce (I left this out)

Layer the potatoes, carrots, onion and celery in a 5-qt. slow cooker.

Place flour in a large resealable plastic bag. Add stew meat; seal bag and toss to coat evenly. In a large skillet, brown meat in oil in batches. Place over vegetables.

Combine tomatoes, broth, mustard, salt, pepper, thyme and browning sauce in the skillet used to cook the meat. Heat and scrape off all the yummy brown bits in the pan. Pour over beef and vegetables in slow cooker. Cover; cook on high for 1 1/2 hours. Reduce heat to low; cook 7-8 hours longer or until meat and vegetables are tender. YIELD: 8 servings.

I'm sure you could cut the ingredients in half if you have a smaller slow cooker.

Apricot Cream Cheese Scones

Alyssa and I tried the recipe from the back of the free diced dried apricots I got from King Arthur Flour. We really enjoyed these scones—they are tender and delicious. I was a little afraid the dough wasn’t going to come together—it seemed very stiff. But then, magically, it all came together. The little nuggets of apricots are delightful in the scones.

3 ¼ cups pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
8-ounce package cream cheese, cold
½ cup cold butter
1 cup diced or slivered dried apricots
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ cup milk
Sparkling white sugar, for topping (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt (or pulse ingredients together in food processor with chopping blade). Cut in the cream cheese and butter, with a fork or pastry blender or by pulsing in the food processor, until everything is crumbly, then stir in the apricots.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla, and milk.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir just until the dough becomes cohesive.

Place dough on the baking sheet, and pat it into an 8-inch to 9-oinch circle. Cut circle into 8 wedges and separate them. Brush the tops lightly with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake in the upper third of the oven for 16 to 20 minutes, until scones are light golden brown. Remove from the oven, wait 5 minutes, and serve warm.

Yield: 8 large scones.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pierogi and Spicy Beet Salsa

Bart and Alyssa made this for Sunday dinner last month. It was so incredibly delicious-looking and I was so hungry that I didn't take any pictures before I ate it. Thus, we had to make the meal again so I would be able to post it. The colors of this meal are beautiful--the bright purple of the beets and the dark orange carrots (serve with "Roasted Carrots with Fresh Dill and Lemon"). The flavors are just as delightful. This has become one of our favorite meals!

3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 (16- to 19-ounce) package frozen potato-filled pierogi, any brand or variety
1 (15-ounce) can sliced beets, drained, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Hot sauce to taste OR 1 small jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, a generous handful, chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, a generous handful, chopped
¼ cup sour cream (eyeball it)
Salt and black pepper

Spread the softened butter on the bottom of a skillet. Arrange the pierogi in the pan in a single layer. Add 1 cup of water to the pan, cover the pan, and place it over medium-high heat. Cook it for 8 minutes, then remove the lid from the skillet and cook off any liquid in the pan. When all the water evaporates the pierogi will start to “stick” and brown in the butter. Once the dumplings are nice and brown and crispy, remove them from the skillet to serving plates or a platter.

While the pierogi cook, throw together the spicy beet salsa. In a bowl, combine the chopped beets, red onions, lime juice, hot sauce or chopped jalapenos, parsley, cilantro, sour cream, and a little salt and pepper.

Serve the pierogi topped with some of the spicy beet salsa.

(By the way, leftover salsa is great with tortilla chips.)

Roasted Carrots with Fresh Dill and Lemon

Here's an absolutely incredible way to serve carrots as a side dish!

16-ounces baby carrots, halved lengthwise
Extra-virgin olive oil, for liberal drizzling
Salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
¼ cup chopped fresh dill, a generous handful

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Arrange the carrots on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle them with olive oil, and season them with salt and pepper. Toss the carrots around to make sure they are well coated. Shake the baking sheet to spread the carrots in an even layer and roast them for 15 minutes, or until they are tender and the sides that are touching the baking sheet are lightly browned. Shake up the carrots twice while they roast (This will prevent the ones on the edges of the baking sheet from burning before the ones in the center are cooked.)

While the carrots are roasting, combine the cold butter, lemon zest and juice, and dill in a serving bowl. Transfer the roasted carrots to the bowl while they are piping hot. Toss them until the butter has completely melted, then serve.

Beefy Tortilla Casserole (or Taco Casserole)

This recipe is from Pillsbury Everyday Suppers 2007, a book I checked out from the library.  But I also found the same recipe in my new cookbook, Fix-it-and-Forget-it Big Cookbook, under a different name (Taco Casserole).  Whatever you want to call it, the casserole is delicious and filling.  It tastes like tamales, which is one of Jesse's favorite Mexican foods.  I prepared the meat and sauce on a previous day and stored it in the freezer.  On the day I wanted to serve the casserole, I thawed the meaty sauce, added the tortilla strips, and let it cook in the slower cooker.  The original recipe said it would serve 6, but they must be fairly small servings because we didn't feel like it was enough to fill up 3 grown boys and a mom!  Plus, I only have a 6-quart slow-cooker, so the amount of the recipe is a little small for such a large crockpot.  I will definitely double this recipe when I make it again. I served this casserole with a green salad and a fruit salad, and cinnamon rolls for dessert.

Beefy Tortilla Casserole
1 ½ lb. lean ground beef
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained (I used Ro-tel, which adds some spiciness, too; you'll need to add extra water if you use Ro-tel because it's only about 10 oz.)
1 can (10 ¾ oz.) condensed cream of onion soup (I used cream of mushroom because that's what I had on hand)
1 pkg. (1.25 oz.) taco seasoning mix
¼ cup water
6 corn tortillas (5- or 6-inch) cut into ½” strips
½ cup sour cream
4 oz. shredded Cheddar cheese (1 cup)
3 T. sliced green onions

Cook ground beef in large skillet over medium heat until thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently.  Drain.
In 3 ½ - 5-quart slow cooker, combine ground beef, tomatoes, soup, taco seasoning mix and water; mix well.  Add tortilla strips; stir in gently.
Cover; cook on LOW for 7-8 hours (7 hours was plenty).
About 5 minutes before serving, spread sour cream over casserole (I didn't do this, as I wanted the sour cream to be a garnish).  Sprinkle with cheese.  Cover; let stand about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Sprinkle with onions.  Makes 6 servings (470 calories; 29g fat; 3g fiber)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Easter Monday Ham and Cheese Bake

Joshua and I put this strata together last night before going to bed. This morning, we just had to add the topping and bake it. It was delicious! The panko topping really adds a great contrast. This would also be good served with a salad for lunch or dinner.

6 slices (8 ounces) slightly stale bread or 3 or 4 soft rolls, crusts removed if hard; about 6 1/2 cups cubed bread
1 3/4 cups (8 ounces) diced cooked ham
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheese: cheddar, Monterey Jack, Swiss, or your favorite combination
5 large eggs
2 cups (16 ounces) milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon prepared mustard OR 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 cup Vermont cheese powder, optional (recommended if using a mild cheese such as Monterey Jack or Swiss--not necessary if you use sharp cheddar)
1 cup Panko bread crumbs, or coarse, dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons melted butter

1) Lightly grease a small (7- to 8-cup) casserole dish, for nicest presentation; or a 9" x 9" square cake pan.

2) Cut the bread into small (1/2" to 3/4" cubes). Place half the cubes into the prepared baking dish.

3) Layer the ham over the bread; sprinkle the cheese over the ham.

4) Top with the remaining bread.

5) In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, mustard, and cheese powder, if you're using it. Pour over the bread and ham in the dish, pushing the bread down into the milk.

6) Cover the dish, and refrigerate overnight.

7) Next day, preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the casserole from the refrigerator.

8) Combine the bread crumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle evenly atop the casserole.

9) Bake the casserole for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a cake tester or paring knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

10) Remove the casserole from the oven. Serve hot or warm. Fruit salad is a tasty accompaniment.

Yield: 6 to 9 servings.

Soft Pretzels with Queso Poblano Sauce and Mustard Sauce

These pretzels are phenomenal! Seriously--I couldn't believe how delicious they were! I didn't make the sauces, but I'm sure they would be great, too! (Recipe from Food Network--Bobby Flay, Throwdown.) Make sure you have enough baking soda on hand for the water bath--it uses a lot.

Queso Poblano Sauce:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
12 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated
2 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves

Mustard Sauce:

1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup whole-grain mustard
Honey, to taste

Soft Pretzels:

1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) warm water
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 package active dry yeast
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Water bath:
3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda

To Top Pretzels:
2 whole eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
Coarse sea salt

For the Queso Poblano Sauce:Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cook until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the Monterey Jack cheese, poblano chiles, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Place the queso sauce into a bowl and sprinkle with chopped poblano.

For the Mustard Sauce:Whisk together the mustards and honey, to taste, until combined. Let sit at least 30 minutes before serving.

For the Soft Pretzels:
Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper and spray liberally with vegetable spray (or use a Silpat).

Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands.

(NOTE: I used the food processor to make the dough. I added the flour and salt to the food processor (with dough blade) and pulsed to combine them. In a small bowl, I mixed together the water, sugar, yeast, and butter and let stand for 5 minutes or so. With the processor running on dough speed, add liquid ingredients slowly. Add additional water or flour if necessary to adjust consistency of dough. Process for 30 to 45 seconds to knead. Continue as directed below.)

Oil a bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Bring the water to a boil in a small roasting pan over high heat and add the baking soda.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4-1/4 to 4-1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring 22 inches and shape: take the right side and cross over to the left. Cross right to left again and flip up. Boil the pretzels in the water solution, 2 at a time for 30 seconds, placing top side down when putting in the water. Remove with a large flat slotted spatula or a spider and place top side up on a wire rack to drain temporarily. Place 4 pretzels on each baking sheet, brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally (or as desired) with the salt. Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.

Remove to a baking rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating. Dip into desired sauces.

The Perfect (Clumpy) Granola

I love granola--but I have had a really hard time finding granola that stays in crisp clumps. This granola does--and you can break it up into whatever size of clump you prefer. You can add sunflower seeds or use whatever nuts you prefer. Just don't skip the rice flour (it is the secret ingredient) or alter the wet ingredients. If you leave this in fairly big clumps, it makes a perfect snack to eat out of hand. With smaller clumps, it's great for breakfast with milk over it.

The Perfect Granola
(Makes 1 batch)

Mix together in a large bowl:

4 cups (14 ounces) rolled oats
1/2 cup (2 ½ ounces) rice flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) chopped nuts
1/2 cup (1 ½ ounces) coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a medium-size bowl, mix until smooth:

1/2 cup (6 ounces) honey
1/2 cup (4 ¾ ounces) peanut butter
1/2 cup (3 ½ ounces) oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour the wet ingredients onto the dry and mix very thoroughly. Spread onto a big cookie sheet.

Bake at 300 degrees in increments of 10 minutes. Check every 10 minutes but do NOT stir. If you make a double batch, switch your top and bottom baking sheets after each 10 mins.

Bake until golden. (Mine took about 25-30 minutes--but it might take up to 40 minutes or so). Let cool completely and then turn onto a sheet(s) of wax paper.

Break up the clumps as desired.

Store in an airtight container.

Enjoy this perfectly delicious granola!

Pot o' Gold Potato Soup

We traditionally make this recipe sometime around St. Patrick's Day. We love how creamy, cheesy, and delicious it is (not to mention how quick it is to make)!

3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) chicken broth
2-1/3 cups mashed potato flakes
1-1/2 cups milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 cup sour cream


In a 3-qt. saucepan, saute celery and onion in butter for 2-3 minutes. stir in broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat. Add potato flakes; cook and stir for 5-7 minutes. Add milk, garlic salt and chili powder. Reduce heat and add cheese. Cook and stir until cheese is melted. Just before serving, add sour cream and heat through (do not boil). Yield: 6 servings.

Salmon Pasta Salad

We served this for dinner last week when the weather was warm. This meal is so refreshing that it is a great way to welcome spring! (By the way--yes, the dressing does call for raw eggs. If that bothers you, use pasteurized eggs or try a purchased Caesar salad dressing.)


1 pound fresh or frozen salmon, poached and chunked
1 package (12 ounces) fettuccine, cooked and rinsed
1 pound fresh spinach, rinsed and cut into strips
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup sliced green onions
4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and pepper (to taste, if needed)


2 eggs
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sweet basil
2 teaspoons crushed rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dill weed
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon tarragon

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl.

To prepare dressing, whip eggs in blender jar. Add vinegar, lemon juice, and sugar. With blender running, drizzle oil into egg mixture. Blend in remaining dressing ingredients. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper if necessary. Chill.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes

We love to try different versions of macaroni and cheese. The tomato in this version sets off the cheesy macaroni perfectly. (Recipe from Cook's Country April 2010.)

Salt and pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni (I used medium shells)
1 (28-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups half-and-half
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1. COOK MACARONI Adjust oven to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and macaroni and cook until just al dente (or even a little crunchier than al dente), about 5 or 6 minutes. Drain pasta and return to pot. Pour diced tomatoes with their juices over pasta and stir to coat. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

2. MAKE SAUCE Meanwhile, melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Stir in flour and cayenne and cook until golden, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in half-and-half and broth until smooth. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheeses, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper until cheeses melt. Pour sauce over macaroni and stir to combine.

3. BAKE MACARONI AND CHEESE Scrape mixture into 13 by 9-inch baking dish set in rimmed baking sheet and bake until top begins to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

MAKE AHEAD: Macaroni and cheese can be made in advance through step 2. Scrape mixture into 13 by 9-inch baking dish, cool, lay plastic wrap directly on surface of pasta, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When ready to bake, remove plastic wrap, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Best Brownies

I just got a new 13x9-inch Goldtouch baking pan. I was so excited to try it out that I made two desserts for our St. Patrick’s Day dinner—just so I could try out this pan. This is our favorite brownie recipe—they are fudgy without being gooey, deeply chocolatey, and delicious.

(adapted from On-the-Fence Brownies from KAF Cookie Companion)

1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter
2 ¼ cups (15 ¾ ounces) sugar
1 ¼ cups (3 ¾ ounces) Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups (6 ¼ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips (optional)
¾ cup (6 ounces) heavy whipping cream
1 ¼ cups (8 ounces) semisweet chocolate (chips or block)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or spray with Baker’s Joy) a 9 x 13 x 2-inch pan.

In a medium saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to heat just briefly to help dissolve a little more of the sugar (don’t keep it over the heat very long at all). Alternatively, you can melt the butter in the microwave, then proceed as described as below.

Stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs, stirring just until the eggs are mixed in. Do not over mix (over mixing will create a thick hard crust on top of the brownies). Then add the flour, nuts, and chips, stirring just until mixed in. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

Bake the brownies for 25 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted between the center and edge comes out clean or with moist crumbs (check early). The brownies should feel set on the edges and in the center. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack.

For ganache, heat cream in microwave or on stovetop just until whisps of steam form. Pour hot cream over chopped chocolate in a large bowl. Stir until smooth. Let stand until ganache has thickened to desired consistency. Pour/spread over brownies.

Blarney Stone Bars

We make these butterscotch bars for our St. Patrick’s Day dinner dessert every year.

½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup quick-cooking oats
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup English toffee bits
1/3 cup chopped pecans
Vanilla frosting tinted with green food coloring (about ¾ cup frosting)

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, milk, and vanilla. Combine flour, oats, baking powder and salt; add to the creamed mixture. Fold in the toffee bits and pecans. Spread into a greased 8-inch baking pan. Bake at 350°F for 20 to 24 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Spread frosting over the bars. Cut into squares or diamond shapes.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

We love to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! This is our traditional St. Patrick’s Day dinner—we all love it! We just discovered the horseradish sauce this year. We like to serve this meal with Irish Soda Bread--preferably made by Alyssa (see the recipe we posted in February). After dinner, we like to watch the movie “Luck of the Irish.”

1 (3-pound) corned beef brisket with seasoning packet
1 ½ pounds small red potatoes (about 9), scrubbed
1 ½ pounds carrots, peeled and cut into thirds (or use baby carrots)
1 head green cabbage (about 2 pounds), cut into 8 wedges
1/3 cup horseradish, drained
1/3 cup sour cream

Place corned beef brisket in slow cooker. Add seasoning packet. Add enough water to cover brisket. Cover with lid and cook on high setting for about 8 hours.

Before serving, remove meat from slow cooker & remove (and reserve) all cooking liquid. Tansfer the meat back to the slow cooker and ladle 1 cup of the cooking liquid over the top. Cover keep warm in the cooker (use heat setting of low or warm).

Make horseradish sauce: Boil 1 cup of cooking liquid from brisket in a small skillet until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Mix with the horseradish and sour cream in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Place potatoes and carrots in large pot. Add remaining cooking liquid from brisket. Simmer potatoes and carrots until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the cabbage and simmer until all the vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

When ready to serve, remove the meat from slow cooker, slice it across the grain into ¼-inch slices, and arrange on a platter. Transfer the cooked vegetables to the platter and moisten with additional cooking liquid as needed before serving. Serve with horseradish sauce to the side.

Our St. Patrick's Day Meal

I tried to come up with some green food to go with the green theme for the day. I added food coloring to Valerie's cloud nine biscuits to make them green. They looked funny, but tasted good. We had green salad and made green punch by mixing blue and yellow Powerade (which I purchased at Smith's for $.25 each, thanks to Marcia's phone call). The rest of the meal was Garlic Chicken Penne and Frosty Pistachio Delight.

Garlic Chicken Penne

8 oz uncooked penne pasta
1 1/2 cups frozen sugar snap peas
1 pkg (1.6 oz) garlic-herb pasta sauce mix (I used "creamy pesto" by Knorr)
1 pkg (6 oz) sliced cooked chicken

In a large saucepan, cook pasta in boiling water for 6 minutes. Add peas; return to boil. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until pasta is tender. Meanwhile, prepare sauce mix according to package directions.

Drain pasta mixture; add chicken. Drizzle with sauce and toss to coat. Yield: 4 servings.

Frosty Pistachio Delight

2 1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
2/3 cup butter, melted
1 carton (1.75 qts) vanilla ice cream, softened
2 pkgs (3.4 oz each) instant pistachio pudding mix
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp pistachios, chopped, divided
3 drops green food coloring, optional
1 carton (8 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 jar (11.75 oz) hot fudge ice cream topping, warmed

In a small bowl, combine cracker crumbs and butter. Press into a greased 13x9" baking dish. Bake at 350 for 7-9 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack.

In a large bowl, combine the ice cream, pudding mixes, 1 cup pistachios and food coloring if desired. Fold in whipped topping. Spread over crust. Cover and freeze for at least 4 hours.

Remove from the freezer 10 minutes before serving. Drizzle with fudge topping; sprinkle with remaining pistachios. Yield: 15 servings.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mashed Potatoes (Weight Watchers Style)

This is the recipe I've been using lately for mashed potatoes.  I had gotten in the habit of adding a lot of butter to my mashed potatoes, but I have found that I'm not really missing it.  I love the slight Parmesan flavor of this recipe!

4 cups peeled cubed baking poatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs)
1 garlic clove, halved
3/4 cup 1% lowfat milk
2 T. grated Parmesan cheese
1 T. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Place potato and garlic in a medium saucepan; add water to cover.  Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until tender.  Drain; return potato mixture to pan.  Add milk and remaining ingredients; mash with a potato masher.  Makes 4 servings (1 cup each) for 3 WW points.

ps - this is NEVER enough for my family; we usually double or triple the recipe!

Taco-Filled Pasta Shells

This recipe is from the Taste of Home Dinner on a Dime cookbook that I purchased recently. We made it when Mom and Dad were visiting, and I think it was a little spicy for them, but the rest of us really enjoyed it. Recently, I cooked the leftover shells I had frozen, and they turned out just as good as the original shells! (Plan ahead; beef mixture needs to chill for 1 hour before assembling!) Oh, and sorry for the lack of professional food photography. The picture really doesn't do the recipe justice! I should really take a food photography class!

Taco-Filled Pasta Shells

2 lbs. ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning (or 2 envelopes if you want it really spicy; we used 1 and it was plenty)
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, cubed
24 uncooked jumbo pasta shells (I must not have filled my shells as full, because I used 34 shells)
¼ cup butter, melted (I'm not sure this is really necessary)
1 cup salsa (we used Pace Medium Picante Sauce)
1 cup taco sauce (we used mild)
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 ½ cups crushed tortilla chips
1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
3 green onions, chopped

In a Dutch oven, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add taco seasoning; prepare according to package directions. Add cream cheese; cook and stir for 5-10 minutes or until melted. Transfer to a bowl; chill for 1 hour.

Cook pasta shells according to package directions; drain. Gently toss with butter. Fill each shell with about 3 tablespoons of meat mixture.

Spoon salsa into a greased 13x9 pan. Top with stuffed shells and taco sauce (I just squirted the taco sauce out of the bottle and didn't really measure it). Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with cheeses and chips. Bake 15 minutes longer or until heated through. Serve with sour cream and onions.

Stuffed shells may be frozen before baking; simply place the stuffed shells in a gallon-size Ziploc freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. To use frozen shells, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours (shells will still be partially frozen). Spoon the salsa into a greased 13x9 pan; top with shells and taco sauce. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Uncover and continue as above.

Crockpot Lasagna

I was pleasantly surprised that this recipe actually turned out!

Crockpot Lasagna

Sauce: (you could make your own favorite sauce; just make sure it's about 65 oz. of liquid before adding the meat)
1 lb. ground sausage or beef (I used Jimmy Dean Sausage)
2 1/2 cans (a total of 65 oz.) spaghetti sauce
2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 T. parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 lb. Mozzarella cheese
9 lasagna noodles, uncooked

For sauce, brown ground beef or sausage in large fry pan. Add remaining sauce ingredients and heat until just bubbling. Remove from heat.
For ricotta, mix the ricotta ingredients in a mixing bowl.
To assemble lasagna, spray 6-quart crock pot with baking spray (such as Pam). Pour 1/4 of sauce in bottom of crock pot. Layer 3 noodles (may have to break them to get them to fit). Layer 1/3 of ricotta mixture, and sprinkle 1/3 of mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers, ending with sauce. Cover crock pot and cook on LOW for 4 hours. Turn crock pot to KEEP WARM until ready to eat. Approximately 5 minutes before eating, you can sprinkle additional cheese on top.

Jesse would have preferred a little more sauce, but I thought it was perfect.  And it was even better as leftovers the second day!

Strawberry Apple Jell-O Salad

We had a dinner party last night, and this is the salad my friend brought. It was so delicious, with a slight citrus flavor. I really couldn't get enough of it!

Strawberry Apple Jell-O Salad
3 packages (3oz each) strawberry Jell-O
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups boiling water
1 can (6 oz) frozen orange juice concentrate
2 T. grated orange rind
4 to 6 apples, peeled & grated
1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple, drained
Cool Whip

Grate apples into a 9x13 pan. Dissolve sugar and Jell-O in hot water; add pineapple, orange rind, and orange juice concentrate after the sugar and Jell-O are completely dissolved. Pour Jell-O mixture over apples in 9x13 pan and stir together. Chill 2 hours and top with cool whip.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Crab Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Chopped Salad

I have made this meal a few times now--and we've enjoyed it every time. The salad is extremely quick to make. The simple tart and slightly spicy flavor of the salad complements the crab cakes perfectly. If desired, you can make the sauce ahead. The crab cake mixture can also be made ahead (including shaping the patties) so at dinner time all you have to do is cook the patties and toss together the salad.

Recipes from Rachael Ray.

Crab Cakes:

1 cup cracker meal (or use finely crushed saltines)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
12 ounces lump crab meat, picked over to remove any shell fragments
1 rounded teaspoon crab boil seasoning
1 tablespoon baking powder
A handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 lemon, zested, plus 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for garnish
1 rib celery from the heart of the stalk, finely chopped
Several drops Worcestershire sauce
Several drops hot pepper sauce
2 tablespoons mayonnaise or ranch dressing
Vegetable or canola oil, for frying

Red Pepper Sauce:

1 (8-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained, or 1 large freshly prepared roasted red pepper
1 cup mayonnaise or reduced fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup prepared chili sauce

Place cracker meal in a bowl and make a well in the center of the meal. Beat egg with milk and pour into well. Moisten cracker meal and combine liquid with meal using the tines of a fork. Add crab meat, crab boil seasoning, baking powder, parsley, lemon zest, celery, Worcestershire, hot pepper sauce, and mayonnaise to the bowl. Mix all ingredients well and form into 8 (3-inch) patties. Add 1/2-inch vegetable or canola oil to a skillet and heat to medium high temperature. Fry cakes 3 minutes on each side and drain on paper towel lined plate. Cook 4 cakes at a time, so that oil temp does not drop too low.

For red pepper sauce, combine drained red peppers in a food processor bowl with mayonnaise and chili sauce. Pulse/grind the ingredients into a smooth sauce.

Transfer sauce to a small serving dish.

Serve crab cakes with sauce and lemon wedges.

Chopped Salad

2 romaine lettuce hearts, coarsely chopped
1 cup drained giardiniera salad (regular or hot pickled vegetables)—available in jars on aisle where pickles are sold
1 lemon, juiced
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For salad, place chopped greens in a serving dish and combine with coarsely chopped giardiniera salad. Dress salad with a little lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper, to your taste

Cinnamon Bun Skillet Pizza

This recipe was featured in a recent issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. The article included 5 different deep-dish skillet pizza recipes--you can check out all the other recipes at www.rachaelraymag.com. We loved this dessert pizza! It was fast to make and delicious!

Skillet Pizza Dough

3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened

1. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, stir together the lukewarm water, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Using a food processor with the dough attachment, mix the flour and salt. Add softened butter. With machine on dough speed, gradually add the yeast mixture until dough ball forms. Knead for 45 seconds. Remove dough and place in a greased bowl.

3. Punch down the dough before using. NOTE: For whole wheat dough, use 3/4 cup whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour.

Cinnamon Bun Pizza

Skillet pizza dough (see recipe above)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup dried currants
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1-1/2 teaspoons orange juice

1. Turn the pizza dough out onto a work surface; cut off and reserve one-quarter of the dough, then halve the remaining dough. Press one half evenly into a greased 9- to 10-inch oven-safe skillet.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss with the pecans and currants. Sprinkle half of the nut mixture on the dough in the pan, leaving a 1/2-inch border; dot with 1 1/2 tablespoons butter. Shape the smaller piece of reserved dough into a 9- to 10-inch round and place on top of the filling. Sprinkle with the remaining nut mixture and dot with another 1 1/2 tablespoons butter. Shape the remaining dough into a 10-inch round and place on top, pressing around the edge to seal the layers. Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand until doubled in size, about 25 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and brush over the top crust. In a small bowl, combine the granulated sugar and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon; sprinkle on top. Cut a few vents in the top crust and bake until golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.

4. Stir together the confectioners' sugar, milk, orange juice and a pinch of salt, then drizzle on top.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups raw wheat germ
1 cup hulled raw sunflower seeds
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (I just break them)
1/2 cup flaked coconut
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup cooking oil
1/3 cup water
2 Tbs vanilla


1 In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, except the brown sugar and mix together.
2 In a saucepan combine the brown sugar, cooking oil and water and warm over low heat until the brown sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
3 Pour liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well. Spread in a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake at 350°F for about 50 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 15 minutes.
4 After removing from oven, add raisins if desired.
5 Cool and store in a tightly covered container.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Greens

A very quick and delicious way to feature spaghetti squash as a main dish. We all loved it! (Photo and recipe from EveryDay with Rachael Ray)


1 spaghetti squash (about 3 1/2 pounds), halved lengthwise
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces sweet Italian sausage
1 bunch spinach, stems discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper


1.Place a squash half, cut side down, in a large, microwavable dish. Add 1/2 cup water and microwave until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat with the remaining squash half. Discard the seeds. Using a fork, comb the squash into strands into a bowl. Toss with the parmesan and season with black pepper.

2.Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Add the spinach and crushed red pepper and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes; season with salt and black pepper. Serve on top of the squash.

Friday, March 5, 2010


This recipe is from an old issue of The Baking Sheet. I have been wanting to make it since the issue came out (Autumn 2006)—and I finally got to it. I don’t know what took me so long to try these—they are actually very quick and easy to make. Susan Reid (from King Arthur Flour) learned about Bridies—a grab and go meat pie—while she was a college student in Scotland. Bridies are named after Maggie Bridie of Glamis, a travelling food seller who began selling these portable meat pies. This version calls for a hot water pastry crust. It is very easy to make and quite sturdy—thus making it easy to hold the pies to eat them. However, the crust isn’t very tender—so if you’d rather have a tender crust than an easily portable and sturdy crust, substitute your favorite pie crust pastry.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 ¼ pounds ground lean lamb (traditional), beef, or turkey—I used beef
1 cup (1 medium) minced onion or shallot
1 ¼ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry thyme
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup (1 1/8 oz.) old-fashioned rolled outs
½ cup (4 ounces) beef stock or gravy (I used brown gravy)

Hot-Water Pastry:
3 cups (12 ¾ oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (6 oz) water
6 tablespoons (3 oz) unsalted butter, melted beef suet, or lard

Egg wash:
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

To make the filling: Place the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the meat and onion and cook, stirring occasionally to break up the lumps, until the meat is cooked through and the onions are translucent. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, thyme, nutmeg, oats, and stock. Cook for 3 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then remove from heat and set aside to cool while you make the pastry.

To make the pastry: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Dig a well in the center. Bring the fat and water to boil in the saucepan, then pour into the well in the flour mixture. Stir the mixture together until its evenly moistened and cool enough to handle comfortable (it will feel as comforting as warm towels out of the dryer). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead a few times, then cut off 1/3 of the dough and place it to the side under the mixing bowl to keep warm. Divide the remaining dough (the 2/3 piece) into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a 6-inch diameter circle.

To assemble the pies: Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment or a Silpat. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place 6 English muffin rings on the prepared baking sheet. Tuck the 6-inch circles of dough down into the rings. You should have half an inch of dough sticking up around the edges; fold this over the rings. You’ll need it to seal up the bridies after they’re filled.

Place ½ cup of the cooled filling inside each lined muffin ring. Divide the reserved dough into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a circle the size of the muffin rings. Place the circles over the meat filling, and fold the outside edges back over the tops, pinching them to stand up around the edges. Cut a slit in the center of each pie to serve as a vent for steam.

Brush the tops with the beaten egg mixture, and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the pies from the oven and serve warm, or cool and refrigerate to tuck into lunchboxes later.

Yield: 6 Bridies.

Meaty Mac 'n' Cheese

I recently purchased the cheap brand of Macaroni and Cheese at the store because it was on sale. My family hated it. (I guess good old Kraft is the best). Anyway, I decided to try this recipe to help use up the boxes of mac and cheese my family won't eat. It tastes pretty good, amazingly. Next time I'll probably try blending the salsa and pimiento and corn in the blender, so Logan won't complain about the little red things in the casserole.

1 package (7.25 oz) macaroni and cheese
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups salsa
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 can (2 1/4 oz) sliced ripe olives, drained
3 tablespoons diced pimientos
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped tomato

Set aside cheese sauce mix from macaroni and cheese; cook macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cook beef and onion until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add the salsa, corn, olives and pimientos; heat through. Drain macaroni; add to beef mixture with contents of cheese sauce mix (don't use the milk and butter listed on macaroni and cheese box recipe). Mix well; heat through. Garnish with cheese and tomato. Yield: 4-6 servings.

Cloud Nine Biscuits

This recipe was in the latest issue of Cook's Country. It's actually called Cat Head Biscuits--a reference to the size of the biscuits. We enjoyed these huge, fluffy biscuits so much that we decided to rename them. I altered the instructions to use a food processor. If you don't have a food processor, you can just whisk together the dry ingredients, then work in the softened butter and shortening with your hands, rubbing it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Continue as outlined below.

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1. MIX DOUGH Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Grease 9-inch cake pan. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in bowl of food processor. Add butter and shortening to flour mixture and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal (you'll want to pulse it slightly more than you would normally for biscuits so you get fluffy rather than flaky biscuits). Transfer flour mixture to large bowl. Stir in buttermilk until just combined.

2. PORTION BISCUITS Use greased 1/2-cup measure or large spring-loaded ice cream scoop to transfer 6 heaping portions of dough into prepared pan, placing 5 around pan's perimeter and 1 in center.

3. BAKE BISCUITS Bake until puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes (check a few minutes early just in case). Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Serve. (Biscuits can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Outrageous Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

I may have already shared this recipe with you, but I thought it was worth repeating. This time, I made it in a 10x15 cookie sheet and baked it at 350 for 20 minutes. It doesn’t look done when you get it out of the oven, but it finishes setting up as it cools. Underbaking it slightly keeps the cookies soft. I love the chewy texture of the old-fashioned oats, so that’s what I used today. And I couldn't tell at all that there was wheat flour in this cookie!

Outrageous Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Skookie (or Bars)
Suzanne Eliason-Utah's Down Home Cook Off Winner

2 C. oats
1 ¼ C. Whole Wheat flour (originally, called for all purpose)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 C. butter
1 C. peanut butter
1 C. sugar
1 C. light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 Lg. eggs (2 T. Dehydrated Egg +1/4 C. Water)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 C. (or 2 bars) milk chocolate bar (broken into chip sized pieces)...I used chocolate chips

Instructions: In a medium bowl, combine oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the sugar(s) until blended. Add eggs and vanilla then add flour mixture until combined. Stir in chocolate pieces. Refrigerate dough 1 hour or more.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray Camp Chef Skookie pan (or the dish you found) with cooking spray. Add hand full of dough to skookie. Press onto Skookie pan ½ in. thick, leaving dough ½ in. from outside of pan. Bake for 10-15 min. or until top of cookie becomes light golden brown. Or, press dough into 10x15 greased cookie sheet, but be sure to leave ½” space around edge of pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Top with ice cream, caramel sauce and hot fudge or chocolate sauce.

Green Apple-Sourdough Pancakes

Since I haven’t maintained an active sourdough starter for a while now, we have been missing sourdough pancakes. Bart made these pancakes for us the other day. These are great because you can just make your starter the night before. We served our pancakes with Apple Cider Syrup (see recipe at The Sisters' Café).

Recipe from Food Network Magazine.


For the Sourdough Starter:
• 1 cup whole milk
• 1 teaspoon active dry yeast (1/2 packet)
• 1/2 cup apple cider
• 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
For the Pancakes:
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 large egg, slightly beaten
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 small tart green apple (such as Granny Smith), unpeeled, diced
• 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• Maple syrup or honey, for serving
• Chopped pecans, for garnish (optional)


Make the sourdough starter: Warm the milk in a small saucepan over low heat to about 110 degrees F. Transfer to a medium bowl, sprinkle with the yeast and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the cider, brown sugar, butter and 1 cup flour until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature overnight.

The next morning, make the pancakes: Whisk 1/2 cup flour, the egg, baking soda and apple into the sourdough starter. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a cast-iron griddle or nonstick skillet over medium heat and swirl to coat. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto the griddle for each pancake. Cook until the tops are bubbly and the edges set, about 3 minutes, then flip and cook until golden and cooked through, 1 to 2 more minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more butter as needed. Drizzle with syrup and garnish with pecans, if desired.

Spicy Macaroni and Cheese

Here's another fun variation of macaroni and cheese. This one is baked, so it works well as a make-ahead meal.

(Recipe from Sunny Anderson at Food Network.)


2 cups elbow pasta, cooked until almost al dente
16 ounces Cheddar cheese, 1/2 cubed, 1/2 shredded
8 ounces Monterey pepper jack cheese, cubed
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons sour cream
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half
4 slices bread (we used panko instead)
1 tablespoon butter
Special equipment: 2-quart baking dish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, toss together pasta with the cheese cubes and pour into the baking dish. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, dry mustard, nutmeg and sour cream, egg, heavy cream and half-and-half. Pour over the pasta and cover with shredded Cheddar. Bake uncovered until top is just beginning to brown, about 35 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the bread into crouton-sized squares. In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter, add cubes and toast until golden. Sprinkle the bread cubes on top of the macaroni and cheese and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes more.

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup

This soup is rich, creamy, flavorful, and so satisfying. We served it with blue tortilla chips for a fun color contrast.

(Recipe from Rachael Ray.)


2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cups canned or packaged vegetable stock, found on soup aisle
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained
2 cans (15 ounces) pumpkin puree (found often on the baking aisle)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon curry powder, 1 palm full
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1/2 palm full
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use less if desired), eyeball it in the palm of your hand
Coarse salt
20 blades fresh chives or green onions, chopped or snipped, for garnish


Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Add oil. When oil is hot, add onion. Saute onions 5 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, black beans and pumpkin puree. Stir to combine ingredients and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in cream, curry, cumin, cayenne and salt, to taste. Simmer 5 minutes, adjust seasonings and serve garnished with chopped chives.