Saturday, January 23, 2010


Don't you love Saturday mornings?  Time for breakfast!
Nothing too fancy, just plain yummy.

Adult serving:
2 eggs
1 T milk
add whatever else you like
Child serving:
1 egg
a little less milk
Optional fillings:  ham, sausage, bacon, green/red pepper, onion, cheese

Mix eggs, milk, and filling in a small bowl.  Pour eggs into hot skillet.  Flip when nearly cooked through.  I cook mine in a small saucepan like this:

Mandarin Tossed Salad

9 cups torn romaine lettuce
1-11 oz can mandarin oranges, drained
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 tsp unsalted sunflower seeds or 1/4 cup slivered toasted almonds

3 Tbs canola oil
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs cider vinegar
1 Tbs orange juice concentrate
1 ½ tsp red wine vinegar or additional cider vinegar
1 ½ tsp chopped green onion
½ tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp salt

In large salad bowl, gently toss greens, oranges, onion, and sunflower seeds. In a measuring cup combine dressing ingredients. Add enough water to measure 1 cup. Pour into a jar with tight fitting lid, shake well. Pour over salad and toss to coat.
Serve immediately.

*Yum.  This was very good!  Not everyone in our house is big on onions, so I left them out.  Also, I didn't have ground mustard but regular mustard tasted great in the dressing.  Next time I make this I'll just make half of the dressing--that will suffice for our family.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sweet Potato Fries w/ Cumin

Serves 4
3 large sweet potatoes
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
3/4 tsp cumin
3 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Scrub potatoes. Slice potatoes into french-fry sized strips, leaving skin on. Place on a roasting pan (or cookie sheet), sprinkle salt, pepper, cumin and olive oil. Using hands, toss until potatoes are coated. Roast for 45 minutes.

*Being in need of an afternoon snack, I bravely resisted one of the Frozen Mint Brownies calling my name and gave this recipe a try.  I had one sweet potato and one yam; my children and I decided to have a taste test (we adjusted the seasonings accordingly).  Both my 17 month old and I loved these!  Who would have thought to use cumin on potatoes?  A definite for snacking in the future.  I also found out some interested information about the difference between sweet potatoes and yams--find out for yourself at  Truth be told, I don't think I've ever even seen a true yam.  I would use either tuber again--each had a little difference taste, but a delectable sweetness to them.

Perhaps I cut the potatoes smaller than the recipe intended, but mine were done in 20 minutes, not 45 minutes.  I skin was great, I will probably use a little less pepper next time.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Frozen Mint Brownies

3 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
3 eggs
3/4 cup flour
dash of salt

3 T butter
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 T milk
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
2-4 drops green food coloring

2 sq unsweetened or semi-sweet chocolate
2 T butter

Melt chocolate and butter together for the brownies. Beat eggs and add sugar. Add chocolate and butter mixture and mix. Add extract, flour, salt and mix thoroughly. Spread in a 9x13 greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool completely (rush cooling process by putting them into freezer).

Mix frosting ingredients together and spread on cooled cake. Cool in fridge, covered (or freezer for faster).

Make glaze by melting chocolate and butter. When at room temp, spread on top of frosting.

Place in freezer for 5 minutes to set chocolate. Cut brownies. Place in a container and keep in the freezer until you eat them! They are best right out of the freezer.

*I got this recipe from  As I was mixing them, I couldn't help but think to myself, "Am I really doing this, all this sugar, butter, and chocolate in one treat?"  But I did, and it was delicious!  May I suggest sharing them with a friend. . . somehow it validates all those calories. The only change I made was in the glaze.  Because I had only unsweetened chocolate squares, I substituted with 1/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Very yummy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Heavenly Chocolate Mousse

(Recipe and hints taken from
Serves 6


8 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup water, divided
2 tablespoons butter (no substitutes)
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cups whipping cream, whipped

1.  In a microwave or double boiler, heat chocolate, 1/4 cup water and butter until the chocolate and butter are melted. Cool for 10 minutes. In a small heavy saucepan, whisk egg yolks, sugar and remaining water. Cook and stir over low heat until mixture reaches 160 degrees F, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat; whisk in chocolate mixture. Set saucepan in ice and stir until cooled, about 5-10 minutes. Fold in whipped cream. Spoon into dessert dishes. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

First: to properly whip heavy whipping cream, start with a chilled mixing bowl and whip it until it is a very fluffy, almost buttery consistency. Do not stop mixing too soon.  Second, the proper way to melt chocolate is *slowly*! If you don't have a double boiler, I recommend using a saucepan on the stove over low heat. This will take a while, but the microwave can actually be a harder way to melt chocolate because you have to be careful not to do it too quickly and you have to take it out many times to stir. I also want to emphasize the importance of getting the temperatures right...try to follow these to the letter. I highly recommend having a candy thermometer to get the eggs, sugar, and water to exactly 160 degrees. Finally, I just thought I'd mention that we added some chunks of high quality milk chocolate and a sprinkle of powdered sugar for a nice presentation and a good compliment to the dish.

*Jeff made a request for chocolate mousse--and since he doesn't request very often, I had to give it a try.  This was good, but I think with practice I could have done better.  First, I wish I would have spent a little more on the chocolate, but even with the store brand it was tasty.  Second, I didn't have a candy thermometer and I don't think I heated the egg mixture quite long enough.  Someday I'll give this another try, but it was good!


3-4 chicken breasts
2 bell peppers
1 small onion
2 T oil
about 3 T taco seasoning, or to taste

1.  Cook peppers and onion in 1 T oil just until tender.  Remove from pan and keep warm in microwave.  Cook chicken in remaining oil (when I'm thinking ahead, I put the chicken in the crock pot on low a couple hours before dinner.  Then when it's time to cook the chicken, it is easy to cut up.  I put it in the oil, add the seasoning and water; this makes it very tender).  When no longer pink, add seasoning and about 1/3 cup water.  Bring water to boil then simmer until water is gone.
2.  Add peppers and onion back to chicken.  Serve on tortillas.  Garnish with sour cream, guacamole, cheese, salsa, tomatoes, cilantro, or whatever you like.

As a side note, there is special seasoning just for fajitas.  We like that too, but I just keep on hand a big bottle of McCormick Taco Seasoning.  I use it in any recipe that calls for taco seasoning and it saves money from buying multiple seasoning packets.  Plus, we like it.

*This is one of our regulars--when I don't know what to cook, we have fajitas.  Easy, delicious, and I almost always have the ingredients on hand.  To add color and taste, use a variety of bell peppers (red, green, orange, yellow).  We made these tonight with Homemade Flour Tortillas.  See also Beef Fajitas.

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Makes 24 small tortillas

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons lard
1 1/2 cups water

1.Whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. Mix in the lard with your fingers until the flour resembles cornmeal. Add the water and mix until the dough comes together; place on a lightly floured surface and knead a few minutes until smooth and elastic. Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball.
2.Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Use a well-floured rolling pin to roll a dough ball into a thin, round tortilla. Place into the hot skillet, and cook until bubbly and golden; flip and continue cooking until golden on the other side. Place the cooked tortilla in a tortilla warmer; continue rolling and cooking the remaining dough.

*I half this recipe and use shortening instead of lard with very hot water.  It makes about 8 regular size tortillas and they are delicious!  Try not to over cook and the tortillas will be softer.  I imagine these would be even easier with a tortilla press--sounds like a good reason to go to Mexico!

Gorgonzola Pear Pasta

Prep Time: 10 Min
Cook Time: 15 Min
Ready In: 25 Min
Servings 4

9 ounces penne pasta
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 large pear, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
ground black pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Cook the penne in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until tender yet firm to the bite, about 11 minutes; drain.
2. Return the drained pasta to the pot; stir the butter, Parmesan cheese, and Gorgonzola cheese into the pasta and place over medium heat; cook until the cheese is completely melted. Pour the cream into the pasta mixture; stir. Remove from heat and fold the pear into the pasta mixture. Top with walnuts. Season with pepper to serve.

Hints:  Add chopped roasted asparagus, craisins, and an extra pear. Cook these separately on a cookie sheet covered in foil. To maximize flavor, drizzle the asparagus, cubed pears, walnuts, and craisins with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper when they're on the sheet. Cook at 350 for 10 minutes.

*So, not every day can be a Salmon day.  Seeing how I cannot rate this recipe with 3 stars, it would appear silly to even post it; yet, somehow I take comfort in my failure by posting on this blog (that and I still need a good recipe for Gorgonzola cheese--I have one, but I never need all of the Gorgonzola to put into Eloise's Salad--hence, I need another, any suggestions?)  I got this recipe from the site and followed some of the hints typed above.  Unfortunately, I did not have asparagus--that would have been a nice touch.  If you feel compelled to try this recipe, I recommend not cooking the craisins; they became too chewy after heating.  I used wheat penne as well--try regular.  I did add cooked chicken.  As a bit of encouragement, Ellen gobbled this meal up (she's usually  more selective, but then she also had 3 helpings of green beans so maybe she is going through a growth spurt).  We finished our meal, but I probably won't make this again.

How to use gorgonzola cheese from Christie:  Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches.  Thanks, Christie!  We'll give them a try!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kentucky Biscuits

Prep Time: 15 Min
Cook Time: 15 Min
Ready In: 30 Min
Yield 12 biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 dash salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup buttermilk (3/4 T vinegar plus enough milk to make 3/4 c)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

2. In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Cut in 1/2 cup butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in the buttermilk. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead 2 minutes. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet, roll into a 6x6 inch square (I roll it more into a rectangle, then I can cut it into 4 x 3 sections), and cut into 12 even sections. Do not separate.

3. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted in the center of the square comes out clean. Separate into biscuits, and serve hot.

*So good. Arguably the best biscuit I've ever had and quick and easy too!

Sugar-Crusted Salmon with Florida Grapefruit & French Green Bean Salad

2 Florida grapefruit
1/4 cup cilantro
2 key limes
4- 5 ounce portions fresh salmon filets
2 tbsp natural cane sugar
1 1/2 cups French cut green beans
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
Nonstick spray

1.  Peel and segment grapefruit. Reserve eight slices and roughly chop the remaining fruit. Finely slice the cilantro. Zest and juice the limes.
2.  Place salmon filets skin side down onto a baking sheet coated with nonstick spray or lined with nonstick aluminum foil and place under a hot broiler. Cook for five to six minutes.
3.  Remove from broiler and place two slices of grapefruit on top of each filet. Evenly sprinkle the cane sugar over the grapefruit on top of the salmon portions and place back under the broiler to caramelize the sugar. Watch closely, as this happens quickly.
4.  In a large bowl, toss the green beans with olive oil, zest and juice of the key limes, chopped grapefruit, sliced cilantro, cranberries, and prepared brown rice.  Evenly portion and arrange mixture in the center of four dinner plates.
5.  Place salmon fillets on top of green bean salad mixture and serve.

*I love salmon and I eat grapefruit like I eat oranges--so of course when I found this recipe I knew I had to try it.  Jeff likes salmon and he'll only eat grapefruit if someone puts it in front of him with sugar on top.  I am happy to report that Jeff said, "This is the best fish I have ever eaten."  But then, what's not to love--moist and flakey--only a fish can give you that kind of meat.  The light sprinkling of sugar (I used regular white sugar) on top gave it just the right bit of crusted sweetness and the grapefruit was a wonderful replacement for squeezed lemon as it was a touch sweeter.  5 stars for the fish.  It was so good that I was kind of glad my kids didn't eat it (that's why I made biscuits to go with the meal--a filler for them and more fish for me).  It was very nice to have Jeff rave about a meal again!
The green bean salad was more of a garnish, not bad when eaten with the fish, but not something I would make on its own.  I would recommend making the salad without the lime first, and then add the lime to taste.  Definitely use fresh green beans.  Surprisingly, all of the ingredients went very well together.  3 stars (with the lime reduction).

Monday, January 18, 2010

Double-Chocolate Banana Bread

*We had this for our FHE treat.  It was deliciously rich.  A good way to use ripe bananas.  If you love, love, love chocolate, you'll love this; but beware, it is very rich.

1 c sugar
2 eggs
1/3 c vegetable oil
1 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa
1 t baking soda
1 1/4 c mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
1 c semisweet chocolate chips

1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray bottom of 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2.  In large bowl, beat sugar, eggs and oil at medium speed until mixed.  Beat in vanilla.  In medium bowl, stir together flour, cocoa and baking soda; beat into sugar mixture at low speed just until combined (batter will be very thick).  Stir in bananas and chocolate chips.
3.  Spoon batter into pan.  Bake 60 to 70 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes.  Remove frompan; cool completely on wire rack.

Cranberry Upside-down Muffins

¾ c whole-berry cranberry sauce
¼ c firmly packed brown sugar
2 c all-purpose flour
2 T sugar
3 t baking powder
½ t salt
1 c skim milk
¼ c vegetable oil
1 t grated orange peel
2 egg whites

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place wire rack over sheet of waxed paper. Spray 12 medium muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon 1 T cranberry sauce into each muffin cup. Top each with 1 t brown sugar.

2. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; mix well. In small bowl, combine milk, oil, orange peel and egg whites; blend well. Add to flour mixture all at once; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Divide batter evenly over cranberries and brown sugar in muffin cups.

3. Bake for 14 to 18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 1 minute. Run knife around edges of cups to loose. Invert muffins onto wire rack over waxed paper; remove pan. Cool 5 minutes. Serve warm.

*When I asked Jacob to rate these, he replied, "On a scale of 1 to 5000, 5000!"  He tends to rate in the extremes, though; he either loves it or if he doesn't (even if he eats it), he gives it a rating of 1.  The muffins were biscuit-like, kind of heavy, but then I did use just one whole egg instead of 2 egg whites.  I don't know how they would have turned out without muffin cups--the cups definately helped keep the cranberry sauce together.  This is an excellent way for me to use left-over cranberry sauce and all my kids ate at least 2 while they were still warm!  Better than expected.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Garlic Mashed Potatoes Secret Recipe

Prep Time: 15 Min
Cook Time: 30 Min
Ready In: 45 Min


3 pounds unpeeled red potatoes, quartered
1/2 pound butter, room temperature (or less)
3 ounces Romano cheese, grated
2 tablespoons and 2-3/4 teaspoons chopped garlic (abut 4-5 cloves)
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 30 minutes; drain. Stir in butter, cheese, garlic, salt and oregano. Mash with a potato masher or with an electric mixer.
*This was unbelievably delicious with roasted garlic. To roast garlic: slice the top portion off 1/2 head of garlic and remove excess papery skin. Drizzle olive oil on top and season with salt. Wrap garlic tightly in foil and place in oven preheated at 375F for 35 minutes.  When ready to add to potatoes, just squeeze the garlic out of the papery skin into the mixing pot, no need to mince.

I used a blend of Parmesan, Romano, & Asiago cheese. 

Crispy Chicken Costolleta

What a find!  Definately a bit of work, but well worth it! Yum.....
(Copycat of the Cheesecake Factory's Crispy Chicken Costolleta)

Serves 4

Crispy Chicken
4 chicken breasts, cut horizontally, and pounded to about 1/4 inch thick, or use chicken cutlets.
Lemon zest of 2 lemons
1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons Freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
2 eggs, whisked with 2 T water
3 Tablespoons flour
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Zest two lemons. Bake zest for about 5 minutes until dry. On one plate combine flour, pepper and salt. On another plate combine eggs and water, whisk until combined. On another plate combine dry lemon zest, bread crumbs and cheese. Place pounded chicken in the flour, coating well, followed by the egg mixture and the bread crumbs. Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil and 1 Tablespoon butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Place chicken in pan and cook on each side about 5 minutes until middle is no longer pink. You will need to work in batches, adding more oil and butter as needed. Keep chicken warm in oven at 250 degrees.

Lemon Sauce
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup plus 1 T fresh lemon juice
1/8 cup chicken stock
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Over medium heat in a fairly large saucepan heat canola oil. Add minced garlic and saute about 3 minutes on low. Add whipping cream and boil until reduced by one-third. Add Dijon, lemon juice, chicken stock and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted.

Serve chicken with lemon sauce and garlic mashed potatoes.

*We love this meal, though I haven't quite perfected the lemon sauce, be sure not to saute the garlic too long as it cooks fast (I give that 4 stars).  The chicken is delicious, the secret is to pound it thin (5 stars).  I only had seasoned bread crumbs--about 1 cup is sufficient.