Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I Found A Few Aprons

I found a few aprons that are so DARN cute at

I have a few more that I've added to I think I'm addicted to aprons. (and coffee mugs)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bread Bowl Appetizers

Spinach - Leek Dip

1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 ( 10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained
1/2 package dried leek soup mix
1 (8 ounce) can of water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 large acorn squash, about 1 1/2 pounds, assorted fresh vegetables for dipping scallions

Wrap small blue ice in saran wrap and leave at bottom of hollowed out bread bowl…keeps the dip cool.

Cream Cheese Variation Recipe

8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. sour cream
8 oz. mayonnaise
1 can (4 oz.) water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 pkg. Knorr vegetable soup or leek soup
1 pkg. spinach, drained, thawed and chopped
Mix all together.

Another variation

2 packages cream cheese, softened
1-pint sour cream
1 package Knorr’s leek soup mix
½ cup water chestnuts, drained & chopped
1 scallion, sliced very thin
1 -1½ cups frozen spinach, thawed

Mix softened cream cheese and sour cream with a fork until well blended. Stir in soup mix. Wrap the thawed spinach in a towel to squeeze out the excess moisture.

Add spinach, water chestnuts and scallion slices and mix well. Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.

Once the dip is made....

With a serrated knife, hollow out the sourdough or french bread round, making an edible serving bowl. Tear the rest into bite size pieces for dipping. Scoop dip into bread round and enjoy!

Easy Peasy Lemon Sqeezy

I love to cook. But.......I HATE to clean up. So, I end up finding really yuumy things to make that are supder-duper easy! Most of the time, it's just a matter of combining things you know are good with other good things that you know are good to come up with new combos. I am here to help you find those combos. :)

I'm also a "add ____ to taste". Unless I'm following a reciepe, I don't have exact measurements for ya. Need more? Double it. Is it just you? Now you have leftovers for tomorrow's lunch!

Healthy Kielbasa Stir-fry
Serves 2

~your favorite fresh stir fry veggies*
~whole wheat (not wheat blend) spaghetti or spiral noodles
~Teriyaki sauce
~Olive oil (I use extra light tasting extra vigrin olive oil)

*99.9% of the time I buy pre-washed and bagged fresh broccili florets, snow peas (which are different that sugar-snap peas) and broccili slaw. No prep! SUPER easy!

Cook pasta according to directions on package

Fry turkey sausage with a little olive oil on meduim for 10 min (while pasta is cooking)

Steam veggies in a separate pan (turn the pan on high, throw the veggies in with a little olive oil add about 1 c of water and cover. Viola! Steamer. :) When the veggies are cooked to desiered tenderness, turn off heat, pour out any water that might be left, and add a couple of tablespoons (or however much you want) of the Teriyaki sauce to flavor the veggies.

A cup of noodles, half the sausage, and a healthy serving of veggies----throw 'em on the plate. Anyone on Weight Watchers? 1c. ww pasta and 6oz. of kielbasa is 9 pts.

You're done. Easy, right?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Book Review

Who would like to join me in reading this book:
A History of Cooks and Cooking, by Michael Symonds?
Available here at Amazon, used cost $10.
Or free at your local library.
It's got a lot of by fancy cooking linguini, I mean lingo and I might need some help understanding it.
Here is an excerpt from the Preface:
In an obscure footnote in his journal for 15 August 1773, the literary biographer James Boswell defines the human as the 'Cooking animal;. It is not tool-making that separates us from the rest of nature, he writes. It is not memory, judgment and all the faculties and passions of our minds that make us unique. But 'no beast is a cook'. This book honours Boswell's untuition. It sets out to explain ourselves and our world through cooks. It finds civilisation to be a culinary creation.
I'm not sure I agree with the 'no beast' comment. I've seen AJ's dad cook quite a few times........

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies

When I was a teenager there was this really great cookie place in the mall in Vancouver. It was called The Cookie Cutter. I loved going there to get a cookie dough cone (just like it sounds, raw cookie dough scooped into a sugar cone-mmmm!) My favorite cookie that they sold there was a chocolate marshmallow cookie. It was soft with a thick layer of marshmallow in the middle and chocolate frosting. After a few years the Mall got a remodel and they decided that the only food places they would allow had to be franchises. The cookie cutter was a one owner, one restaurant kind of place, so they were forced to close down and were replaced with Mrs. Fields.
Years later I was still thinking about those cookies, and after I married D, I found out that they were also one of his favorites as well. I set out looking for a good recipe for chocolate marshmallow cookies but to no avail. That is when I decided to take matters into my own hands. I had been making cake mix cookies for a while, and if you have ever made them you know that they turn out a soft cookie. I started out with a cake mix cookie as the base of my recipe and went from there. Today I am passing my recipe along to you. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Chocolate Marshmallow cookies
preheat oven to 350
1 chocolate cake mix (we prefer devil's food or triple chocolate chip)
1 cube of butter (or margarine if you prefer it)
2 eggs
1 T vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips (optional but preferred)
18 to 20 large marshmallows
Chocolate Frosting of your choice

In a mixing bowl cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add the cake mix, eggs and vanilla. Mix until well mixed. Stir in the chocolate chips and drop the cookie dough by spoonful onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 9 to 10 minutes. While the cookies are baking cut each marshmallow in half with a pair of clean scissors or kitchen shears. Remove the cookies from the oven and press one half of a marshmallow sticky side down (the sticky side will be where you cut through the marshmallow) on each cookie. Place the pan of cookies back in the oven for one minute. Remove the cookies again and use a spoon to flatten and spread the melted marshmallow across each cookie (this works best if you lightly butter the back of the spoon, re-buttering it as needed to prevent sticking). Allow the cookies to cool and frost with the chocolate frosting of your choice.
These cookies have gotten raves anywhere I have ever taken them, and people regularly request them from me. They are actually very easy, and very good. I hope you enjoy them!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Corn Chowder

This is another reprint from my personal blog.

Soup is...the Nectar of the Gods, as long as it's homemade and not out of a can. I'm not against the convenience, mind you... I just hate the taste and (especially) the texture. I categorically refuse to eat most soups that come from a can... the two exceptions being cream of mushroom as a sauce (always doctored up though) and clam chowder. None of that chicken-less Where's My One Soggy Noodle, Oh Yeah, I Forgot This Soup Is Only Made From Water-Out-Of-My-Own-Dang-Tap And Salt crap.

Hence, I must make my own. And I have to say that I make a mean corn chowder... so from my (mom's) kitchen to yours, Corn Chowder That Doesn't Suck.

(Disclaimer: I always make a huge ol' pot of this stuff, because we eat a lot, and we freeze some too... so if you don't have a huge family or a lot of boys, you may want to cut the amounts in half or something.)

(Disclaimer #2: I don't follow recipes (to my mother's sometime-grief, when I can't duplicate something that was fabulous last time I made it and this time looks (and tastes) like a reject from Fear Factor). I am also woefully bereft of the ability to be serious when instructing. So if this recipe doesn't make sense because I am rambling about it instead of Spouting My Wisdom Seriously As Betty Crocker Would Do, I'm sorry...I hope you can interpret pretty well. Good luck!)

The Really Real, For Reals, Recipe (With No More Disclaimers):

-2 packages of bacon, fried as crisp as you like it (my mom likes it more, I like it less crisp... it does get softer in the soup, a little bit, so take that into account).
-1 or 2 large onions, chopped up (but not too finely).
-12 to 15 red potatoes, diced in a chunky fashion. This soup is all about the chunks.
-3 zucchinis, sliced about, I don't know, 1/4" thick or thereabouts.
-2 summer squash, if you can get your hands on it, sliced the same as the zucchini.
-A medium spoonful of minced garlic (I don't know about you, but we're all about the big jar around these parts. I hate pressing garlic with a passion. I suppose if you wanted to use fresh, it would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 cloves).
-A small handful of dried rosemary
-A wee bit of sage
-Some cardamom, if you've got it. I put cardamom in everything, because I'm obsessed with it.
-1 quart of half-n-half (diet food, this ain't).

So you cook the bacon and let it drain on some paper towels. Save some of the grease (or, if that grosses you out, just use a little Pam or somethin'-somethin' to lube the pan with) and cook the onions until they are nicely browned.

Meanwhile, boil the potato chunks until they are pretty soft (they'll soften up some when you add the rest of the stuff, but I often make the mistake of undercooking them, and then they're a little crunchy. It's much better to err on the too-soft side, as this just make it creamier). Drain most of it (leave an inch or two in the bottom so you can steam the veg on top).

Add the onions (nicely browned) to the potatoes and stir. Rub the rosemary between your hands to crush it, and drop that into the pot. Plop some garlic in there. Sprinkle the sage (about a teaspoon) and the cardamom (2 tsps, maybe... I cook to taste. I'm horrible about following recipes!) on there and stir it in. Crumble (if you made it crisp) or cut up (if you didn't) your bacon and stir that in there too.

Load the zucchini and the summer squash on top (stir every now and then so the potatoes don't start sticking to the bottom) and cook 'em until they're softish.

When everything looks cooked through, pour in the half-n-half until everything can move fairly freely. Your whole soup is now cold, so let it heat back up, but don't let it boil, since milk and boiling aren't the tightest of friends.

I sometimes stir in a little bit of flour to thicken it up, but mostly I just enjoy it how it is. It's a hearty soup, and even with just some plain bread and butter or rolls or something, it's a great meal.

The Mother of All Pot Pies

If you've seen this before, it's because it's a reprint from my personal blog.

I am recently (since Wednesday) addicted beyond belief to pot pie of all flavors. I had some at Marie Callendar's when I was there Wednesday with a friend, and, while I enjoyed it, my immediate thought was, "I could make this... better." So I did. I looked up pot pie in my mom's trusty Betty Crocker cookbook, and set to work.

Oh. My. Gosh. The crust that Betty has you make is a celery seed crust, and it is to die for. It's really light and flaky, and it has this great flavor from the celery seed. I actually used celery salt (since that's the only thing we had) and just omitted salt from the crust and the filling to make up for it. It turned out really well.

Liquid-y stuff:
1/3 C butter
1/3 C flour
1/2 an onion
1/2 teaspoon salt (remember, if you use celery salt, I recommend that you omit this stuff.)
1-3/4 C chicken/turkey broth (I used bouillon... who has chicken broth just sitting around?)
Lots and lots of pepper (I'm obsessed... you might want to use less.)
2/3 C milk
Heat butter over low heat until melted.
Whisk in the flour, and keep whisking until it's smooth, with no lumps (trust me).
Stir in onions & pepper... and salt if you must.
Heat until thickened (it says to stir constantly, but whatever. I didn't, and it turned out fine. I also had to turn the heat up to almost medium before it would thicken at all... Betty knows some stuff, but she's not a magician).

For the chicken, I just cooked some thighs up in my mom's cast-iron pan, along with half an onion, chopped pretty big, and some sage and some cardamom (another obsession of mine). I just cooked it until it was all done, and then drained it and set it aside until I was ready for it.

Crust: (I would do this after your saucy stuff and chicken are done, so it doesn't just sit there and dry out.)
1/3 C Crisco (that's right... Crisco. This ain't no diet food.)
2 C flour
2 t celery seed
1 t salt
4-5 T water
~Cut the shortening into the flour, celery seed and salt until pieces are the size of small peas (mine never look like peas... they always look like shredded cheese... Betty, I am not.)
~Sprinkle in water, 1 T at a time, tossing with fork until all the loose flour is moistened and it almost cleans the side of the bowl when you stir it around. (I didn't measure the water at all... I just added a little bit at a time until it seemed like it was the right consistency. Be sure to just toss it with a fork instead of doing some hard-core stirring, because I think when you handle the dough too much it gets tough.)
Use 2/3 of the dough for the bottom, and the other 1/3 for the top.

I improvised a little lot on the vegetables... Betty thinks that a 10-oz. bag of frozen mixed vegetables is going to cut it, but she's WRONG, folks. Don't do it. I did some layers... I love me some layers:
Frozen spinach
Chicken mixture
Cut-up baby carrots (that's what we had...)
Broccoli that was about to go bad, cut up in little pieces (keepin' it real, people.)
More chicken mix
Frozen french-cut green beans
Frozen corn (I love corn)
the rest of the chicken
the rest of the sauce

I used this really deep crockery-sort of dish that we have, so it's like the mother of all pot pies. But really, it needed to be that big to fit all the veg I crammed into it. I'm not about the weenie pot pies with two peas, a few carrot slices and 1 piece of chicken ("Hey! I never knew there was chicken in this soup!")... I like my stuff to be hearty, and well worth my time.

So you just put all this crap in the crust, and put the top crust on... I always make something pretty in my crusts, because that's how I roll, but you could just cut a couple slits for ventilation, otherwise your pie might sprout a leak and blow a hole out the top.

I would recommend brushing the crust with a little buttah to make it extra delicious. As I may have mentioned before, this ain't no diet food. But really, it's not that bad for you, either. Aside from all the butter. And the Crisco. And the flour. You know. It has veggies! Lots and lots of veggies! That's all I'm saying.
Bake this puppy uncovered in a 425 oven for about 30 minutes, or until your crust is golden.

I am looking forward to experimenting further, using zucchini and summer squash and "every good thing" (if you can name this movie, I'm just going to say, you have issues. Just like me.) now that I've used up all the stuff that was in the freezer.

That's all folks. Chicken Pot Pie: Eat it.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sweet and spicy London Broil

haha, at the bottom of the page you can buy from Meatloaf:Bat out of Hell

Here is what we just ate for lunch, courtesy of FoodNetwork Kitchens

1 flank steak (about 1 3/4 lb) (london broil cut from grocery)
3 tbls EVOO (ask rachel ray)
2 tbls sweet paprika (we used reg pap)
2 tbls light brown sugar
1 tbls kosher salt
2 Teaspoons chili pwder (first go round I misread and used tbls)
1 lime zested

Preheat broiler to high. Bring the steaks to room temp about 20 minutes before cooking. (or 2 hours like we did)

Mix the evoo, paprika, sugar, salt, chili powder and zest in a bowl to make a paste. rub the spice mixture all over the steak.
Broil until just charred and crispy on top about 6 minutes on 1 side. Flip the steak and cook until beginning to char, about 6 minutes or until rare and temp registers 115 degrees F. Place the steak on a cutting board and let rest, tented with foil for about 10 minutes. Slice across the grain and serve.

That's a "Make Your Man Happy" recipe right there.
made me want a beer, and I felt all macho and stuff on the inside.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Gooey, Delicious Coconut Brownies

Easy, but and wonderfully delicious.

Make up one box of chocolate brownie mix (yep, from a box) according to the directions. Mine was a 99-cent marked-down box of Duncan Hines or something like that.

Stir in 3/4 of a bag of sweetened chocolate chips, and pour into a greased pan.

Plop little piles of sweetened flaked coconut all over the top... no need to be even if you don't feel like it.

Bake according to the directions on the box.

Eat delicious chocolatey goodness until you ralph.