Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chive Gremolata

Gremolata is a condiment that is usually served with veal.  I think it is great served on baked potatoes, other steamed veggies, or on top of your favorite steak.

3 strips thick-sliced bacon (diced)
2 Tbsp minced fresh chives
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp minced garlic
Salt to taste

Cook bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes; drain and cool.

Combine bacon with chives, parsley, zest, garlic, and salt..

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Seared Beef Tenderloin Filets

I love a beef filet as much as the next person, but honestly, I can't afford it.  I see it in the butcher case for about $23.99/lb most of the time.  Thanks to the butcher at Dierbergs, I've found an affordable alternative.  Each week they have petite beef medallions for $6.99/lb and they are wonderful!

6 approx. 1/2 lb beef medallions
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees with a rack in the center.

Season filets with salt and pepper.  Heat an ovenproof saute pan over medium-high for 5 minutes.

Sear filets in oil on one side for 4 - 5 minutes.  Turn them over, place the pan in the oven, and roast to desired doneness  Remove pan from the oven, transfer filets to a plate, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with Bearnaise Sauce.

For Rare:  Sear 5 minutes, Roast 5 minutes, and let rest 5 minutes.
For Medium-Rare:  Sear 5 minutes, Roast 7 minutes, and let rest 5 minutes
For Medium:  Sear 5 minutes, Roast 9 minutes, and let rest 5 minutes
For Medium-Well (my favorite):  Sear 5 minutes, Roast 11 minutes, and let rest 5 minutes

Bearnaise Sauce

I watch all kinds of shows on Food Network.  I'm a total foodie!  What can I say?  But, when I hear them talk about Bearnaise Sauce, I have to admit I don't know what it is.  Well, now I do.  Here is the recipe

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 Tbsp minced shallots
1 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
2 - 3 Tbsp water
4 egg yolks
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste

Bring vinegar, wine, shallots, and tarragon to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Boil until most of the liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes.

Off heat, add water, then whisk in egg yolks until frothy.

Gradually drizzle in butter, whisking constantly to incorporate.  Sauce should be thick, but thin it with a little water if needed.  If it's too thin, return it to low heat and whisk constantly until thickened.

Strain sauce through a medium-mesh strainer into a heatproof cup.  Season with lemon juice, salt, and cayenne pepper.  Serve immediately.

They say this is awesome served over beef tenderloin fillets.  We may just have to try this.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Roasted Potatoes - This was part of our Christmas Dinner too

1/2 cup olive oil
4 - 5 cloves garlic (pressed)
1 Tbsp Rosemary
6 lbs potatoes (unpeeled), cut into large chunks
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Combine oil, garlic and rosemary in a small bowl.  Boil potatoes in water for 1 minute..  Using a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to a baking sheet.  Pour the oil and spices over the potatoes and stir to coat.

Transfer potatoes  to the oven on the lowest rack and roast for 20 minutes.  Carefully toss them with a spatula, then roast until cooked through,  browned, and crisp, 10 minutes more.  Season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Soy Glazed Green Beans

Our family Christmas dinner was all about comfort food.  Green beans fall into that category for me.  Luke just loves these!

Kosher salt
2 lbs green beans (ends trimmed) - found some beautiful beans at Dierbergs
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp butter
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1/4 soy sauce
2 Tbsp tasted sesame seeds
Freshly ground pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season generously with salt.  Add the green beans and blanch until crisp-tender (2 - 3 minutes).  Immediately transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking, and then remove to a baking sheet lined with paper towels or a cooling rack to drain.

In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add the canola oil and butter.  When the butter is melted, add the garlic and stir until fragrant, 1 - 2 minutes.  Add the green beans, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and black pepper and saute until the sauce reduces slightly and thoroughly coats the green beans.  Be careful not to overcook the beans.

Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot.

Classic Pot Roast with Garlic-Thyme Gravy

It has been quite a busy holiday season for our family.  With grown children and teenagers who work, it's been somewhat challenging to find a time when we could plan our own family gift exchange and meal.  Following extended family get togethers earlier in the weekend, we found time to have dinner together tonight and then open gifts.  I love cooking for my family!

We've already had all the special holiday meals, so I opted for a classic pot roast - the ultimate comfort food in my book.

3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 rolled rump roast, trimmed and seasoned with salt and pepper (3 - 4 lbs)
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups beef stock or broth
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups sliced onions
6 medium carrots (peeled and cut into bite size pieces)
3 large celery ribs (cut into bite size pieces)
6 cloves garlic (minced or sliced)
1 tsp Thyme
2 Bay leaves

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Sear roast on all sides .  Transfer roast to a 4 - 6 qt slow cooker.

Stir flour into saute pan; cook 1 minute.  Add tomato paste and cook 1 minute more.

Deglaze saute pan with wine, cooking until liquid evaporates.  Stir in broth and Worcestershire; bring mixture to a simmer, scraping up any brown bits.

Transfer broth mixture to the slow cooker; add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves.  Cover and cook until meat is fork-tender, on high heat setting for 4 - 5 hours or on low heat setting  8 - 9 hours.  Discard bay leaves before serving.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cranberry, White Chocolate & Macadamia Cookies

I love the McCormick website.  I find all kinds of good recipes there - and this one is no exception.  This is a new cookie that Emma and I added to our Christmas cookie list.  It's yummy and sure to be a hit!

2 cups flour
2 Tbsp McCormick Gourmet Collection Cinnamon, Saigon
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter (softened)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
4 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz white baking chocolate chopped (I used Nestle' White Chocolate Chips)
2 jars (6.85 oz) Macadamia nuts (chopped)
2 cups dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in small bowl.  Set aside.

Cream butter and sugars in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Bea in egg and vanilla.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in chocolate, nuts and cranberries.  Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls 1 1/2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 12 - 15 minutes or until golden brown.

We're watching the budget this year, and many of our friends/guests will not eat nuts, so we left out the Macadamia nuts.  They were still excellent!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

See the Chihuahuas All Dressed Up for Christmas

Call me crazy, but third on my "I Just Love 'Em" list come our five Chihuahuas.  They come in just behind my kids and grandkids!  I know five sounds like way too many, and some days it is, but most days they are so sweet and snuggly and make us smile.

A little more than two years ago we brought home Beethovan and Belle.  They had puppies last spring.  We wound up keeping one for Emily and one for Luke; and of course, Grandpa said we needed to keep one for Christian too.  Yikes!

They all have various sweaters to wear outside when it's cold.  They usually like their sweaters (Beethovan even shows his off), but when we dressed them up for Christmas, they turned into mannequins.  Stiff as a board.  We couldn't get them to do anything.

Check out a couple of pictures . . .

All five, Beethovan, Belle, Neily, Aldean, and Willie have individual personalities.  They always keep us entertained.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Psst… want to save up to $46?

Hey! I just learned a clean little secret about Lowe’s. They have quite the selection of cleaning products plus air and water filters to help keep your home spic and span inside and out. And they’re sending out up to $46 in savings so you can really clean up. Get your coupons before they’re gone! Go to

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Two of My Favorite Guys

Grandson Christian and nephew Joshua are two of my favorite guys.


Christian is almost 18 months old, and what a total joy he is.  He has a beaming smile and loves to show off his teeth.  He loves to give kisses, sing and dance.  A guy after my own heart.  He and Grammy "go crazy" quite often.  (God help me if anyone manages to catch our song and dance on video!)  This little guy doesn't do anything halfway.  I do love him.


Joshua is three and absolutely full of questions.  He is a total delight.  Every topic of conversation winds up with 20 more questions.  Usually beginning with "Why".   Three year olds are such fun. Joshua will make a good big brother.  That day is quickly approaching.  His little sister is due to arrive in late February.

Our family Christmas is sure to be awesome this year with these two at the center of attention!  

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Snack Idea - Chex Pumpkin Pie Crunch

Yesterday was "Let's Make Chex Mix" at the Pressons.  Like most years, we made the Traditional Chex Mix and the Chili Chex Mix.  They are always a hit - everybody loves them.  This year I've added a new one to the mix.  It's a yummy one too.

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups Cinnamon Chex cereal
2 cups Wheat Chex cereal
2 cups Honey Nut Chex cereal
8 oz pecans  (I don't like nuts, so I left them out - I didn't miss them.)

The modern day recipes for Chex Mix are all microwavable.  I don't make mine that way.  I prefer to make mine the old fashioned way.  Mix the cereals together.  Mix the butter and spices together in a saucepan on the stove.  Mix well until the butter is melted.  Pour over the cereal mixture.  Bake for one hour at 250 degrees stirring every 15 minutes.  Allow to cool and then store in airtight containers.

I took this to work today, and got the same comments from everyone.  "This is great, but it doesn't taste like pumpkin."  True, it doesn't taste like pumpkin, but it has all of the spices and sweetness you'll find in pumpkin pie.  Definitely give this one a try.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chili Chex Mix

This is my favorite variation of Traditional Chex Mix.  It is spiced up with chili powder and has just a bit of a kick.  Give this one a try this year.

3 cups Corn Chex
3 cups Rice Chex
3 cups Wheat Chex
2 cups bite-size cheese crackers (I like Cheez-Its)
2 cups pretzel sticks
1 pkg garlic bagel chips
2 cups peanuts
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic

Mix well in large pan and bake for 1 hour in a 250 degree oven, stirring every 15 minutes.  Store in airtight containers when cool.

Serve to friends often.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Venison Summer Sausage - Deer Sausage

A great big thank you goes out to our neighbors, Mr. & Mrs. Banks, for sharing their delicious Venison Summer Sausage recipe.  Paul and I made many batches this past weekend from the deer he brought home a few weeks ago.  The meat grinder I bought three years ago finally got a workout.  Paul actually told me never to go out and buy anything for processing deer meat again since he had a two-year dry spell after I bought the grinder.  From now on, I'll wait . . .

1 lb ground venison
1 lb pork sausage
1 cup water
3 tsp Morton Quick Cure Salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp mustard seed
1 Tbsp Liquid Smoke

Mix all ingredients well.  Form meat into two long rolls about the size of salami.  Wrap in foil and refrigerate for 24 hours.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.  Re-wrap in foil and refrigerate.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How Is Your Christmas Mood?

Wow!  I ran across an article  tonight that appeared on Ladies Home Journal's website:  

Silent Night time again -- and all is not calm. Mom, expected by everyone to embody the joyous holiday spirit, wakes up each morning with that reindeer-caught-in-the-headlights feeling of having too much to do and only a small Advent-calendar window of opportunity to do it in. The kids are in a sugar-induced, jingle bell-fueled state of hyperactive euphoria, hubby "Scrooge" isn't much help, and each day is a blur of furious activity. But while hectic holidays may be as much a given as poinsettias by the front door and stockings on the mantel, it's one tradition you can leave behind this year.

Does this sound your holiday . . . decide to make a change this year.  

Friday, December 3, 2010

Whole Cranberry Chutney

If you like your chutney with some spice, this recipe is for you.  It's sweet, it's tangy, and it's spicy all at the same time.  It was a hit at our Thanksgiving table.  Try it for Christmas dinner.

1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
4 shallots (finely chopped)
1 1/2 Tbsp mustard seed
3/4 tsp hot pepper flakes
2 bags (12 oz each)  fresh or frozen cranberries
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger

Heat oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat.  Add shallots, mustard seeds, and pepper flakes; cook, stirring occasionally,, until shallots aresoftened, about 4 minutes.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Athenos Greek Yogurt House Party on Thurs. December 9th at 6:00

The party package arrived today!  Guests will not only sample good food at the party next week, but you'll go home with coupons for Athenos Greek Yogurt, a stress ball, a notepad, and pen.  It will be an hour or two of good food and a few laughs.  Please plan to come.  Send an e-mail to and let me know if you can make it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Do You Know How To Use The Search Feature?

In the upper left-hand corner of the blog you'll find the "Search" box.  Type in a word or phrase you know appears in a recipe into the search box and then click on the looking glass.  It will bring up only those blog postings that include your "search" words.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

The Christmas Cactus is a little early this year.  It bloomed the week of Thanksgiving, and it's beautiful.  It has about five hot pink blossoms.  It is absolutely gorgeous.

Emma and I spent last night cooking and prepping for our Thanksgiving feast today.  We prepped and stuffed our turkey to roast.  It was stuffed with oranges, lemons, garlic, fennel, carrots, celery, and parsley tossed in kosher salt, sage, rosemary and thyme.  Melted butter combined with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper was smeared under the skin of the turkey as well as on the skin.  This went into a Reynolds cooking bag and then into a roasting pan and into the fridge overnight.

We prepped the fresh turkey to go into its brine for about 20 hours.  It went into a 22 quart stock pot with kosher salt, brown sugar, water and ice.  We set it into a cooler out on the deck and it stayed icy cold.

Then, it was on to salad and sides.  We made a hearty turkey stock out of the giblets and necks.  They went into a soup pot with 4 quarts of water, the celery tops and leaves, tomatoes, onions, carrots, a potato, and fennel tops.    After the stock was strained, it was used in the stuffing.  It was used again on Thurs. to steam the broccoli, make the gravy,  and boil potatoes instead of water.  A subtle way to add that turkey richness to the other Thanksgiving dishes.

We made a simple molded Jell-o salad (lemon and orange).  We made a traditional stuffing.  It wasn't to be stuffed in the turkey, so we added three eggs and a can of Cream of Celery soup to keep it moist.

We made two pumpkin pies, two pecan pies, a pudding pie, and a gorgeous pan of sticky buns to serve for breakfast before throwing in the towel and going to bed about 2:00 A.M.  No need to count sheep last night!

Take a look at the sticky buns before they went into the fridge overnight.  

They went into the oven for 1/2 hour this morning.  Oh, they were so sticky, ooey and gooey, but oh so good!  We had Johnsonville sausage patties to go with them.  Mmmmmm!

We did a little decorating and cleaning, and then it was on to cooking again.  The green beans were trimmed and steamed in turkey stock, and then they went into Green Bean Casserole.  A must have for Thanksgiving!

Countless potatoes and sweet potatoes were peeled for mashed potatoes and mashed sweet potatoes. Yummmm!  The potatoes were mashed with butter and evaporated milk.  The sweet potatoes were mashed with brown sugar, butter, maple syrup and nutmeg.  

Lots of hours went into our Thanksgiving meal, but it was so worth it.  Friends and family around our dining room table enjoyed everything.  I think the best part is getting the whole family into cutting the turkey and getting everything ready to serve.  My kids still love to help with this.  I think it's the best Thanksgiving moment every year - no matter how old they get.  I hope one day they'll share these moments with their own children.  

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thanksgiving Planning

What a day I had today!  Any thoughts of accomplishing anything were out the window by 10:00 a.m.  I spent my day playing with my grandson, Christian.  He is so much fun!  He learned to hop yesterday, so we spent lots of time hopping and "going crazy".  We spin around, jump up and down, wave our arms over our head, and yell "Go Crazy".  His little feet get moving so fast - and he really can say "Go Crazy".  Too cute!  He was so worn out today that he actually fell asleep in his high chair in the middle of his lunch.  Secret . . . Grammy's tired too!

I have been trying really hard to get inspired to plan my Thanksgiving menu this year.  So far, creativity has eluded me.  It will come . . . I just hope it's soon.

As I cruised the internet looking for some new ideas, I ran across the following list of Thanksgiving hotlines on iVillage:

Holiday Cooking Hotlines

For answers to all of your holiday cooking queries, try these three hotlines:

Turning Leaf’s Holiday Hotline: Call 1-877-TLWINE-3 from October 31 through December 31 for tips and a fresh perspective on holiday entertaining. Help is available around the clock with 24-hour access to automated tips.

Crisco® Pie Hotline: Call 1-877-FOR PIE TIPS if you need a little help baking your Thanksgiving pie. The line is open 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET year round, but hours are extended from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET from November 15-24 and December 13-23.

Butterball's Turkey Talk-Line: Call 1-800-BUTTERBALL or e-mail throughout November and December. No question is too tough for these turkey talkers, and they are ready and excited to tackle any challenge you throw at them.

I learned a tidbit of Thanksgiving trivia too . . . 
          Did you know that Thanksgiving Day is the busiest day for plumbers?

It's because people shove way too many things into their garbage disposals and clog their drains.       *** Be careful out there ***

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lemon Potatoes

2 lbs baby red potatoes (scrubbed and halved - quartered if large)
2 garlic cloves (peeled and smashed, plus 2 cloves minced)
1 1/2 tsp grated zest and 2 Tbsp juice from 1 lemon
1 cup chicken broth
Salt & Pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

Wash potatoes and drop them into a large skillet.  Add the smashed garlic, lemon juice, chicken broth, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until potatoes are just tender, 12 - 15 minutes.  Remove lid and increase heat to medium.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes.

Discard garlic cloves and add oil to pan.  Turn all potatoes cut-side down and continue to cook until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Of heat, stir in parsley, lemon zest, and minced garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve.

Serves 4

Monday, November 15, 2010

I'm Planning An Athenos Feel Good House Party December 9, 2010

I was notified today that I will receive a party planning package of samples, coupons, recipes, etc. from Athenos Greek Yogurt.  I am inviting friends and family for a couple of hours of fun and trying new foods that include Athenos Greek Yogurt.  It should be fun!  Besides good food, there will be Greek trivia, yoga and meditation ideas, and games.  Everyone will leave with coupons for future purchases and recipes to take home and make for their own family.

The party will start at 6:00 pm. and we'll finish up about 8:00 pm.  Please send an e-mail to if you're able to make it.  Feel free to visit the party website and take a look around.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Have So Much To Be Thankful For . . .

Our kids are such blessings!  I admit, we have our share of challenges, but what parents don't?  The teenage years are tough, but we know from experience kids need to make mistakes and learn from them to become responsible adults.  Paul, our oldest son, made some poor teenage choices, but became a young man his father and I are so proud of.  He married Katy, who we absolutely love, and 16 months ago they gave us the sweetest gift of all . . . Christian.  He really is a joy!

Luke and Emily are seniors this year.  What an exciting time!  Luke has a goal to play volleyball in the Olympics.  It's a lofty goal, but if anyone can make it happen, he can.  He works really hard at his sport. He is a good student and we're busy looking at colleges.  Wouldn't it be fun to watch him play beach volleyball in the 2012 or 2016 Olympics?  There would be no keeping me away.

Emily wants to be a pastry chef.  She likes to make cakes and cupcakes.  She's very artistic so this could be a good career choice for her.  We've looked at several culinary schools.  All I can say about that is "I wanna go!".  She's quite the cook and really seems to have a good idea of what she wants to do with her life.

I didn't have that clarity when I was a senior in high school.  I just couldn't wait to get out of school.  I didn't really have any idea what I wanted to do for the rest of my life when I was 18.

This Thanksgiving, it isn't hard to count my blessings.  The whole family is employed.  We spend time together.  And . . . we all love each other.  What more could I ask for?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Deep-Fried Turkey

Those who know me well know I love to cook with fresh produce and use natural ingredients.  We don't eat a lot of processed food in our house.  I use butter, not margarine and I don't buy anything that says "low fat" or "fat free".  

Ordinarily I try to cook meat in ways that avoid fat . . . but there is one exception to that rule.  A few years ago, we bought a turkey fryer, and I absolutely love deep fried turkey!  If you haven't tried it, you must.  We usually do two turkeys for Thanksgiving day - one fried and one roasted in the oven.  (Gotta have one to stuff.)  

Here is this year's Deep-Fried Turkey recipe:

6 quarts hot water
1 lb kosher salt
1 lb dark brown sugar
5 lbs ice
1 (13 - 14 lb) turkey (thawed and giblets removed)
4 - 4 1/4 gallons of peanut oil

Brine the turkey:  Put the hot water, salt and brown sugar in a 5 gallon upright cooler or sterilized bucket.  Stir until the salt and sugar dissolve completely.  Add the ice and stir until the mixture is cool.  Gently lower the turkey into the container.  If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed in the brine.  Cover and set in a cool place for 8 - 16 hours.  

Remove from the brine and pat dry.  

Set your empty pot on your burner unit and attach the thermometer to the side of the pot.  Fill the pot with peanut oil (enough to cover the turkey without overflowing).  

Light the gas burner and adjust the gas and airflow; do not put a lid on the pot.  Bring the temp to 350 degrees. 

Slowly lower the turkey into the hot oil.  Cook your turkey for about 3 minutes per pound.  Do not leave the pot while cooking.  You do not need an overflow of hot oil.  This could cause a fire.  Be sure to keep all children and any family activities away from the fryer.  

After allotted time of 3 minutes per pound has passed, lift turkey from hot oil and place it on a lipped surface to rest and allow oil to drain from turkey.  Continue to keep everyone away from turkey fryer.  The oil is still extremely hot.  

After about 30 minutes of resting, place the turkey on a plate for all to admire!

Remember:  Turkey fryers are serious business.   It matters a lot where you use yours.  Keep it at least 10 feet away from your home, garage, deck, or wooden fence.  Keep it on a level surface and make sure kids and adults stay at least 10 feet away.  Keep your heat resistant gloves and  your fire extinguisher nearby.  You may want a chair and a beverage to keep you comfortable while you don't leave your fryer.  (Do not make that beverage the alcoholic kind until your oil is no longer hot - you may not break this rule!)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chicken-Fried Steak & Bacon Gravy

1 cup flour
1/2 cup cracker crumbs (about 30 saltines)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 cup buttermilk
4 (6 oz) cube steaks
4 cups canola oil
3 slices bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/2" wide pieces
1 small yellow onion (finely chopped)
2/3 cup button mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
1/4 tsp salt (for gravy)
2 garlic cloves (finely minced or pressed through a garlic press)
1 Tbsp sweet paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper for gravy
2 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour for gravy
3 cups whole milk (warmed but not hot)

Whisk the flour, cracker crumbs, garlic powder, salt and pepper together in a wide, shallow dish.  Pour the buttermilk into a wide bowl.  Dip each steak into the buttermilk, then dredge it through the dry ingredients, making sure both sides are evenly coated.

Cook the bacon over medium high heat in a medium skillet until crispy, stirring often for 4 - 5 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a paper towel-lined plat and set aside.

Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring often, until soft and just starting to brown, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the mushrooms and the salt and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms release their juices, about 5 minutes.  Mix in the garlic, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper, and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Reduce the heat to medium, add the butter and let it melt, stirring often.  Use a wooden spoon to mix in the flour.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, then slowly begin to add the milk a little at a time, mixing well between additions to avoid lumps.  Cook until slightly thickened, 1 - 2 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cover, stirring occasionally to keep the gravy warm.  Just before serving, stir in the reserved bacon.

Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet (preferably a cast-iron one) over medium-high heat.  Once the oil reaches between 350 and 375 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, reduce the heat to medium and carefully slide the steaks into the hot oil.  Fry on both sides until the coating is golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a paper towel - or brown bag - lined plat to drain.  Serve the steak immediately covered with the bacon gravy

Cheddar Bacon Biscuits

6 oz bacon (diced)
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
8 Tbsp (1 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces, plus 2 Tbsp melted butter
3/4 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp buttermilk

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees.

In an 11" frying pan over medium-high heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 10 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.  Discard all but 1 Tbsp of the fat in the pan.  Using a pastry brush, spread the fat evenly over the pan bottom.  Finely chop the bacon and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and pepper.  Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the cold butter until pea-size crumbs form, then use your fingers to pinch the crumbs into flat disks.  Stir in the cheddar and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses and the bacon.  Stir in the buttermilk until the dough just comes together.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and roll out into a 9 1/2 x 11" rectangle.  Fold the dough into thirds, rotate 90 degrees and roll out into the same-size rectangle.  Fold into thirds again, rotate 90 degrees and roll out into a 7 x 9 1/2" rectangle about 1/2" thick.  Using a floured 2 1/2" biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits and place in the fry pan.  Gather up the scraps, re-roll the dough and cut out more biscuits.  You should have 9 biscuits around t he circumference of the pan and 3 in the center.  Brush the tops of biscuits with the melted butter.

Bake the biscuits until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 - 25 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.  Makes 12 biscuits.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Update On The Avocado Tree

About 2 months ago, I thought it would be fun to follow the instructions to grow an Avocado Tree from a seed.  After my last batch of guacamole, I saved the pits.  I pushed toothpicks into each side of two pits and then placed the pits pointed side down into a clear glass of water.  I placed both glasses in a sunny spot and left them for a week.  I made sure daily that there was still enough water in the glass to keep the tip submerged.

After about 6 weeks, I had a white root growing out of one pit.  The other one had just become squishy and obviously was not going to produce anything.  I planted the one with the root in a pot on the deck about three weeks ago.  I covered it with good soil, set it in a sunny place and watered it frequently.  Nothing happened.  Day after day I looked in the pot for any sign of life -- NOTHING!

The forecast for tonight is for frost, and guess what . . . all of a sudden, today there is a tiny sprout poking up through the soil in that pot.  Just in the knick of time.  It managed to get itself moved into the house just before the first frost tonight.  Avocado Trees must be slow growers.

I'll keep you posted .

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thanksgiving Timeline

Home Made Simple

Last night, I told you one of my favorite websites is  You can get there easily by clicking on the link above.  There is so much great information there.

Right now, if you visit their site and look on the right side bar under "Articles" you should select "Thanksgiving Timeline".  This is a pretty good outline of everything you need to think about if you're having Thanksgiving dinner at your house.  I'll be using this to help with my planning.  A shopping list is also included.

Visit the blog daily for Thanksgiving ideas.  It's time to start thinking about that menu.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Do You Shop With A List?

I am totally an impromptu shopper.  I arm myself with my coupon box and debit card, and off to the grocery store I go.  I do look at all of the grocery ads before I go to get a good idea of what is on sale where and what store will be the best for me to shop on any given weekend.  There are lots of weeks when I shop more than one store.  I always pull any coupons I know I'll use before I leave home.

Most grocery stores will have what are called "loss leaders".  These are the items featured in the weekly ad at such a low price that shoppers just have to go to that store to buy that item.  Call me crazy, but I stock up on those loss leaders and use coupons to bring the price of those items down even more.  It requires a place to store those items, but the money you can save is tremendous!  I never pay full price for things like ketchup, mustard, salad dressing, pickles, canned fruit and veggies, dessert mixes, biscuits, etc.  I buy them when they are a featured item and use coupons from my coupon box.  They are often free or close to free.

My weekly meal plan is devised as I cruise the aisles of the grocery store.  I have a pretty good idea of what I have in my pantry/fridge/freezer at home, and I plan my weekly meals around the items that are on sale that week.  Special produce pricing really influences my meal planning.

One of my favorite websites has an online shopping list.  I plan to give it a try.  Maybe, just maybe, I can become a list shopper.  The list is organized to match the layout of most grocery stores.  I don't know about you, but I tend to have to go back an aisle or two to pick up another ingredient that I didn't think I'd need until I decide on a menu item for the week.  Maybe planning could be a good thing . . .

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkin Stuffed With Everything Good

I found this recipe at  It's one of my favorite foodie websites.  This recipe, or as they call it, outline, sounds so good.  It's a hollowed-out pumpkin stuffed with bread, cheese, garlic, and cream.  Since pumpkins come in various sizes, baking times depend on how long it takes for the pumpkin to get soft enough to pierce with a knife.

1 pumpkin (about 3 lbs)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 lb stale bread, thinly sliced and cut into 1/2" chunks
1/4 lb cheese, such as Gruyere, Emmenthal, cheddar, or a combination, cut into 1/2" chunks
2 - 4 garlic cloves (to taste), coarsely chopped
4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, drained, and chopped (optional)
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives or sliced scallions (optional)
1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme (optional)
1/3 cup heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Find a baking dish that's just a tiny bit larger than your pumpkin.  If you bake the pumpkin in a casserole, it will keep its shape, but it might stick to the casserole, so you'll have to serve it from the pot - which is an appealingly homey way to serve it.  If you bake it on a baking sheet, you can present it freestanding, but maneuvering a heavy stuffed pumpkin with a softened shell isn't so easy.

Using a very sturdy knife - and caution - cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin.  It's easiest to work your knife around the top of the pumpkin at a 45 degree angle.  You want to cut off enough of the top to make it easy for you to work inside the pumpkin.  Clear away the seeds and strings from the cap and from inside the pumpkin.  Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper, and put it on the baking sheet or in the pot.

Toss the bread, cheese, garlic, bacon, and herbs together in a bowl.  Season with pepper  - you probably have enough salt from the bacon and cheese, but taste to be sure - and pick the mix into the pumpkin.  The pumpkin should be filled - you might have a little too much filling, or you might need to add to it.  Stir the cram with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper and pour it into the pumpkin.  Again, you might have too much or too little - you don't want the ingredients to swim in cream, but you do want them nicely moistened.  (It's hard to go wrong here.)

Put the cap in place and bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours - check after 90 minutes - or until everything inside the pumpkin is bubbling and the flesh of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife.  Because the pumpkin will have exuded liquid, I like to remove the cap during the last 20 minutes or so, so that the liquid can bake away and the top of the stuffing can brown a little.

When the pumpkin is ready, carefully, very carefully - it's heavy, hot, and wobbly - bring it to the table or transfer it to a platter that you'll bring to the table.  You have a choice - you can either spoon out portions of the filling, making sure to get a generous amount of pumpkin into the spoonful, or you can dig into the pumpkin with a big spoon, pull the pumpkin meat into the filling, and then mix everything up.  I'm a fan of the pull-and-mix option.  Served in hearty portions followed by a salad, the pumpkin is a perfect sold-weather main course; served in generous spoonfuls, it's just right alongside the Thanksgiving turkey.

There are many ways to very this recipe.  Instead of bread, try cooked rice - when it's baked, it's almost risotto-like.  Try it with or without bacon, or cooked sausage or cubed ham.  Nuts are a great addition, as are chunks of apple or pear, or pieces of chestnut.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Version of Pasta House Salad - I think it's pretty close

1 head of Iceberg lettuce
2 Romaine lettuce hearts
1 small red onion (sliced into thin rings)
1 can of artichoke hearts (7 - 9) (drain and squeeze liquid out of them and remove tough outer leaves)
1 small jar of pimentos
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Combine last five ingredients and mix very well.

Combine first five ingredients.  Mix well and then pour dressing mixture over the top and then toss well to coat all ingredients.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

This Is One Of My Favorite Websites

I am always looking for new recipes and gardening ideas and tips.  P. Allen Smith's website is full of great ideas, information, pictures and videos.  I almost always find something new and interesting to try when I visit.  You won't find wierd, off-the-wall stuff you'll never use.  His tips and ideas are "normal" and doable for ordinary, everyday people.  Take time to visit.  I think you'll be happy you clicked in.

Creme Brulee French Toast

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp corn syrup (or honey)
1 (8 - 9") round loaf Challah bread
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp concentrated orange juice
1/4 tsp salt

In small heavy saucepan, melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat, stirring until smooth and pour into a 13 x 9" baking dish.

Cut 6 (1" thick) slices from center portion of bread, reserving ends for another user, and trim crusts.

Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing slightly to fit.  In a bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, vanilla, orange juice, and salt until combined well and then pour over bread.  Chill bread mixture, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bring bread to room temp.  Bake bread mixture, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden (35 - 40 mins).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Yummmm! Halloween Snack - Caramel Corn Crunch

I've told you before you should sign up for the weekly newsletter from Dierbergs.  In addition to special coupons each week, they include good recipe ideas with items that are on sale that week.  The following is a recipe from this week's newsletter.  It's the perfect treat for your Halloween party.

2 quarts (8 cups) popped corn
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup M&Ms, Reese's Pieces or candy corn

Combine popcorn and peanuts in a 9 x 13" pan.  Combine butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in 2 cup glass measure.  Microwave (high) for 1 1/2 minutes; whisk until smooth and slightly thickened.  Drizzle over popcorn mixture; stir until popcorn is coated.  Bake in 350 degree oven, stirring twice during baking, until coating is dry, about 10 - 12 minutes.  Spread onto foil-lined tray to cool completely.  Stir in candies.  Store in tightly sealed container.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Grilled Shrimp with Mango Salsa

I've been feeling kind of uninspired when it comes to food lately.  Deciding what to fix for dinner has seemed more like a chore than something I look forward to after a long day at work.  What normally is relaxing and enjoyable for me (yes, really) suddenly seems like work.  I complained to a friend and the response I got was, "Mangoes - you need to write about mangoes."    Okay, mangoes it is - what is more colorful and interesting than a mango?  I feel better already!

I found the following recipe in Oprah's magazine a couple of years ago.  It's a good dish to make if you're trying to impress company.  It's very pretty.  No one will know just how easy it is to prepare.

2 large ripe mangoes (peeled, pitted, and diced)
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves (or 1 1/2 tsp dried cilantro)
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp minced fresh ginger (or 1/4 tsp ground ginger)
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 lbs large shrimp (peeled and deveined)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp olive oil (for grilling)

To make salsa:  Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Set aside.  (Make sure your diced mangoes are a small dice.)

To make shrimp:  Rinse and drain shrimp; pat dry with paper towels.  In a bowl, combine shrimp, soy sauce, and orange juice.  Let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare a grill, oiling the grill rack.  Thread shrimp onto metal skewers (or wooden skewers that have been soaked in water for about an hour).  Brush with oil and grill over medium heat, regularly brushing with soy mixture, 3 - 4 minutes per side, until shrimp are cooked through.  Remove from skewers and place on a serving platter.  Serve with mango salsa and rice.

Dinner at Lone Star with Family Last Friday

We met my parents and my brother and family at Lone Star for dinner last Friday night.  They were in town to take my nephew, Josh, to ride Thomas the Train in Granite City Saturday morning.  As usual, dinner was fantastic and there were lots of laughs.  Josh and my grandson, Christian, were very entertaining.  I didn't think to take my camera along.  Good thing Katy had hers.  I pirated two of her photos to share.

They are so cute together.  They'll get to spend time together during the holidays.  That time of year is approaching faster than I care to think about.

Vanilla Sugar Cookies

This recipe is compliments of McCormick.  I find all kinds of good things on their website.

2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp Cream of Tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup b utter (softened at room temp)
2 eggs
2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Mix flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.  Set aside.  Beat sugar and butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla; mix well.  Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed.  Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm.

Shape dough into 1" balls.  Roll in additional sugar to coat.  Place 2" apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake in preheated 400 degree oven 6 - 8 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool on baking sheets 1 minute. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pork Tenderloin in Peaches & Pecan Sauce

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb) cut into 3/4" thick slices
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 green onions (sliced)
1 can (10 3/4 oz) Golden Mushroom Soup
1 can (15 oz) sliced peaches in juice (drained - reserving juice)
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup pecan halves (toasted and broken into large pieces)
Hot cooked rice

Heat oil in 10" skillet over medium-high heat.  Add pork and cook until well browned on both sides.  Remove pork from skillet.

Add garlic and onions to skillet and cook and stir 1 minute.  Stir soup, peach juice, soy sauce and honey in skillet and heat to a boil.  Cook 5 minutes or until soup mixture is slightly reduced.

Return pork to skillet.  Stir in peaches.  Reduce heat to low.  Cook until pork is cooked through.  Stir in pecans.  Serve pork and sauce with rice.  Sprinkle with additional sliced green onion, if desired.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sour Cream and Onion Smashed Potatoes

2 lbs small red potatoes (well washed)
4 Tbsp butter
4 green onions (sliced thin)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Half & Half
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water and 1 Tbsp of salt to a boil over high heat.  Add potatoes and make sure water covers them by at least 1".  Once potatoes boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 30 minutes until potatoes are tender.

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat.  Cook scallion whites until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Whisk in sour cream, Half & Half, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper until smooth.  Remove from heat, cover and keep warm.

Drain potatoes in colander and return to dry pot; let stand 5 minutes.  Using rubber spatula, break potatoes into large chunks.  Fold in sour cream mixture until incorporated and only small chunks of potato remain.  Stir in scallion greens and season with salt and pepper.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

We had Apricot Ginger Chicken for Dinner

This is another Just Bare Chicken recipe . . . and is it ever good!  You really need to try this.

My freezer is stocked up with Just Bare Chicken breasts.  They come in 14 oz packages with two breasts in each package.  If everyone is home for dinner we defrost two packages.  If it's just Eddie and me (that happens more and more often), then I only defrost one package.

For the Pilaf
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup pearled barley
1 tsp fennel seed (I used Tarragon instead)
2 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 tsp salt

For the Chicken
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 pkgs Just Bare Chicken Breasts  (their recipe calls for only one pkg)
2 Tbsp grated fresh gingerroot (I used 3/4 tsp ground ginger)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Sliced green onions, if desired

To make the pilaf, heat 2 tsp oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion; cook and stir 2 minutes.  Add barley and Tarragon; cook and stir 2 - 3 minutes longer or until lightly browned and aromatic.  Stir in chicken broth and salt, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 45 minutes or until barley is tender.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken, cook 3 - 5 minutes per side or just until browned and no longer pink in the center.  Remove chicken from skillet.  Stir preserves, ginger, garlic, and vinegar into the skillet.  Stir until well mixed.  Return chicken to the pan.  Turn to coat and then sprinkle with green onions.

To plate, place a large spoonful of pilaf on your plate.  Place a chicken breast on top.  Spoon just a little extra sauce over the top.  Enjoy!

This is a really easy dish that doesn't take more than an hour to prepare, and it looks so pretty.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Oh I Just Love Football Food Time of Year - Cheesy Spinach & Bacon Dip

Anyone who knows me knows I love football - especially Rams Football!   Football Sundays  always center around food at our house.  We usually wind up with a few drop in guests.  Maybe for the food or maybe to make fun of my rather loud cheering.  Who knows?

I found a new recipe on the Kraft website and plan to try it this Sunday. . . I've modified it just a little bit.

1 package (10 oz) fresh spinach (washed and chopped)
1 lb Velveeta Cheese Product (cut into 1/2" cubes)
4 oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese (cubed)
1 can (10 oz) RoTel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies (undrained)
8 slices Oscar Meyer Bacon (cooked, drained, and crumbled)

Fry 8 bacon strips until crispy.  Remove from pan and drain.  Crumble when cool.

Combine Velveeta, Philadelphia Cream Cheese in saucepan and cook over medium heat  until mixture is completely melted.  Stir in tomatoes and bacon and cook until mixture bubbles.  Add spinach and remove from heat.  Pour into a bowl and serve with tortilla chips and/or fresh veggies.

This is best served warm.  If you plan to leave it sit out for a while, you may want to keep in in a slow cooker on the warm setting.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Rosemary & Orange Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 lbs.)
2 Tbsp butter
1 pkg Chicken gravy mix
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp dried rosemary leaves

Season chicken with salt and pepper.

In 12" skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat and cook chicken for 8 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked, turning once.  Remove chicken to serving platter and keep warm.

In 12" non-stick skillet, stir in chicken gravy mix blended with water, orange juice and rosemary.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. To serve, pour sauce over chicken.  Serve, if desired, with hot cooked rice and garnish with orange slices.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hopes & Wishes for a Life of Love & Laughter - Laura & Joel

Family weddings are a great time to catch up with family and friends we don't see nearly as often as we'd like.  My niece, Laura married Joel Willeke Saturday, October 2nd.  The day couldn't have been better.  Laura was absolutely stunning in her gown.  Joel looked great in his tux.  They are a really good looking couple.  The ceremony was so touching with wonderful music and vows that everyone there could actually hear.  The reception was fun for all who were there.  A few pictures follow. . .

 The happy couple.

My adorable nephew, Josh, was the ring bearer.  He did a fine job!  He even tried to help Joel find the garter belt at the reception :-)

Kim & Tim Duggan, Mother of the Bride & her hubby

Pictures of the Father/Daughter Dance -  Laura and her dad, Paul danced together, and later in the evening there was a Daddy/Daughter Dance for everyone else there.  It was touching.

There were plenty of moments to catch up and have fun with family.  Kids and adults had fun on the dance floor.

 Fun times for kids who grew up together, but haven't seen each other in years.  

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Apples and Onions

This time of year, I'm always looking for creative ways to cook with apples.  I found this recipe on  Be sure to check out the site.  There are lots of great recipes there.

1/4 cups balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp maple syrup
3 medium red apples (halved and cored, each cut into 8 wedges)
1 large red onion  (halved and sliced into 1/2" thick pieces) - I prefer white onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper to taste
2 (12 oz each) pork tenderloins (trimmed of excess fat)

Place on oven rack in top third of oven, and another rack in bottom third.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Make glaze:  In a small saucepan, bring vinegar and maple syrup to a boil over high heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture has reduced to 1/4 cup, 3 - 4 minutes.  Remove from heat; transfer 1 Tbsp to a small bowl for drizzling, and set aside.  Reserve the rest of the glaze in saucepan.

On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss apples and onion with oil.  Season with salt and pepper; arrange in a single layer, and roast until golden, about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and toss.

Meanwhile, line another rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; place pork on foil.  Season generously with salt and pepper; brush with glaze from saucepan.  Return apples and onion to oven, on bottom rack.  Place pork on top rack; roast 10 minutes.  Remove pork from oven; brush with glaze (discard any remaining in pan).  Roast until pork registers 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, and apples and onion are tender, about 10 minutes more.

Transfer pork to a cutting board, and let rest 10 minutes.  Slice 1/4" thick; drizzle with reserved tablespoon glaze.  Serve with apples and onion.

Suggested side dish:  Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

Tropical Caesar Salad

1.2 cup pureed mango
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese for dressing
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
8 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp minced garlic.
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil for dressing
1/2 tsp minced anchovy for dressing
4 slices banana bread cut into cubes.

Place all ingredients for Tropical Caesar Dressing in a blender and mix until well combined.

Toast banana bread cubes in toaster oven or conventional oven set to 350 degrees until crisp.

In a large bowl, toss together lettuce and dressing.

Evenly divide salad onto 8 plates.  Top each salad with 2 Tbsp banana bread croutons and 1 Tbsp parmesan cheese.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm - Apple Dumplings!

Since our kids were small we've planned a trip each year to visit Eckert's Farms to pick apples in the fall.  The kids are almost all grown up now, but they still love to go and enjoy all of the activities, good food, and apple picking.  A few pictures of this year's trip follow.  It was a cold and drizzly/rainy day, but we still managed to have fun.  Christian's pig, Lindsey Loham won the first pig race, and his daddy's pig won the pig olympics for the USA.  The Presson family had a good showing in the pig races!

Now, it's time to do something with all of those apples.  Apple Dumplings are a family favorite.  It usually takes a full day to make enough to freeze for tasty treats all winter.  This is a time consuming dessert, but trust me, it's well worth the trouble.

4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

Add milk to make a soft dough.  Roll out and cut into squares.  Fill each square with apples and cinnamon sugar.  Drop into boiling water for 20 minutes.  Remove and allow to drain.  Serve in a bowl topped with melted butter and cinnamon sugar.

If you are planning to freeze these for future use, remove them from the boiling water and allow to drain well and cool.  Place in freezer bags, and freeze for future use.

A trip to Eckert's is always full of fun for the young ones, teenagers, parents, and grandparents.  .  Christian was wide-eyed and just took everything in.  He was looking into the Parakeet Experience Cage in this picture.  There were so many of them.  There are pony rides and carnival rides too.  One of our favorites is watching the pumpkin lobber.  Go check it out for yourself.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Soup Weather Has Arrived - Pumpkin Soup in a Pumpkin

I love fall.  It's the beginning of soup weather, and I'm definitely a soup person.

I'm a big fan of pumpkin, and I found the following recipe on Saveur's website.  It sounds delicious and I'm sure it will look wonderful being served from inside a pumpkin.

1 - 7 lb Cinderella pumpkin with a 2" stem
7 Tbsp butter
1 large yellow onion (peeled and finely chopped)
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (toasted)
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground sage
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese (I don't like Swiss, so I'll use Mozzarella)
4 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut a lid about 4" in diameter out of top of pumpkin and set lid aside.  Remove and discard seeds and strings.  Rub inside of pumpkin and lid with 1 Tbsp softened butter, season with salt and place on a baking pan.

Melt remaining 6 Tbsp butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.  Stir in bread crumbs and cook for 2 minutes, then add nutmeg and sage and season generously with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat, stir in cheese, then spoon mixture into pumpkin.  Pour enough stock into pumpkin to come within 1/2" of the rim.  Lay bay leaves on top, then fit lid onto pumpkin.

Bake until pumpkin begins to soften and brown on the outside and the stock bubbles on the inside, about 1 1/2 hours.  Carefully remove from oven and transfer to a serving platter.  With a long-handled spoon, scrape flesh from bottom and sides of pumpkin and, just before serving, stir in heavy cream if using.

Just as a side note:  I'm concerned that the structure of the pumpkin may collapse when the pumpkin is scraped from the inside of the pumpkin.  Make sure this is on a sturdy surface that will accommodate all of the hot liquid if the pumpkin does collapse.

I also think I might like to scoop out the pumpkin and puree it and add it back to the simmering stock inside the pumpkin, otherwise it may be too stringy.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Roasted Red Potatoes with Bacon & Cheese

1/2 cup Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup 2% Milk Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/4 cup Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits
2 lbs small red potatoes (about 6) quartered
1 Tbsp copped fresh parsley

Heat oven to 350 degrees
Mix first 3 ingredients in large bowl.  Add potatoes; toss to coat.
Spoon into 13 x 9" baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; cover.
Bake 55 minutes, or until potatoes are tender, uncovering after 50 minutes.  Sprinkle with parley.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cooking Classes at Dierbergs School of Cooking

I posted a recipe using a new product, Just Bare Chicken, a couple of days ago.  Today, I received an e-mail from a marketing company thanking me for blogging about the product and offering me a free cooking class at Dierbergs School of Cooking working with the product.  Culinary expert, Lisa Golden Schroeder, will take part in the class.

I am really excited.  I love new recipes and I'll have the chance to meet another foodie.  I'll post an update after the class.

Stay tuned!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Herbed Chicken Cutlet Saute

My weekly trip to Dierbergs provided yet another interesting way to fix chicken.  This recipe is really compliments of Just Bare Chicken.  

Chicken breast cutlets cooked in a delicate white wine and butter sauce create a simple yet stunning centerpiece for any meal.  Pounding chicken pieces - boneless breasts or thighs -- into evenly thin cutlets makes cooking much quicker (thighs will take a little longer to cook than breasts).

For the chicken --
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 package (14 oz) Just Bare Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Fillets
1 Tbsp olive oil

For the butter sauce --
3/4 cup dry white wine or chicken broth (I prefer the chicken broth)
2 Tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces
3 Tbsp finely chopped combination of sage, Italian parsley, and rosemary  (If you don't have fresh, use 1/2 tsp each of dried sage, parsley and rosemary.)

Mix flour and salt and pepper in shallow dish.

Place chicken breasts between two sheets of waxed paper.  Gently pound the chicken with a rolling pin or meat mallet until evenly flattened to about 1/4" thick.

Dredge chicken pieces in seasoned flour.  Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Use a super hot skillet and don't overcrowd the pan, so the chicken get beautifully browned.  

Cook chicken in hot skillet for 4 - 5 minutes, turning once, until crisp and golden, and chicken is fork-tender with no hint of pink in the meat.  Remove to plate; keep warm.

Then make the sauce in the same pan -- efficiency at its finest!  Add broth or wine to skillet and boil for about 5 minutes or until reduced by half.  Remove from heat and whisk in butter and herbs.  Serve chicken with herbed butter sauce.  

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Football Food - I love this time of year

I had the opportunity to introduce my grandson, Christian, to Football Sunday at Grammy's house today.  What a pleasure.  Poor boy, didn't know what hit him.

First, I taught him to throw his arms in the air and yell. Christian just yelled, but Grammy yelled "Go Rams"!  We'll keep working on that one.  He thought it was lots of fun anyway.  And . . . he liked the food prep. He helped me taste test everything.

Pulled Pork

Place two pork tenderloins (about 2 lbs each)
Sprinkle heavily with Smoky BBQ Seasoning
2/3 cup vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce

Cook in slow crock pot for four hours.  Remove meat and shred.
Return shredded meat the crock pot and add 1 1/2 cups BBQ Sauce.  Cook over low heat for 1/2 hour.

I served this with coleslaw with Aunt Irene's Coleslaw Dressing and Butternut Squash with Maple

Maple - Butternut Squash

2 medium butternut squash (about 6 lbs)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
6 Tbsp pure maple syrup, Grade B for strongest flavor
3 tsp coarse kosher salt, plus more to taste

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours covered by foil.  Scrape all into bowl and mix well.  Sprinkle with salt.  Smash squash with maple and butter to serve.  Yummy!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Red Potato Salad

There are so many potato salad recipes.  Some I like and some I don't like.  I found this recipe on the Kraft website.  .  It's quick and easy, and . . . it tastes good.

2 lbs red potatoes (5 - 6 large) peeled and cubed
1 tsp salt
3 hard-cooked eggs (divided)
1/2 cup Miracle Whip
2 ribs celery, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 small onion (finely chopped)
3 Tbsp sweet pickle relish
3 Tbsp yellow mustard
1 Tbsp sugar
Dash of Paprika

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water in large saucepan 10 - 15 minutes or just until tender; drain.  Cool.

Meanwhile, chop 2 eggs; slice remaining egg.  Mix Miracle Whip, celery, onions, chopped eggs, relish, mustard and sugar in large bowl.  Gently stir in potatoes.

Top with sliced egg and paprika.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Roast Chicken with Sage & Garlic

1 - 4 lb chicken
1 lemon
1 tsp sage
3 cloves garlic (minced)
6 Tbsp butter (at room temp)
Kosher salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
Ground black pepper, to taste
2 tsp dried parsley
2 small onions (quartered)
2 carrots (cut into 2" pieces

Heat oven to 475 degrees.  Rinse and dry chicken.

Peel lemon.  Finely chop lemon peel, and combine with sage and minced garlic.  Place in a bowl.  Add butter and 1 tsp salt.  Stir to combine.  Quarter the peeled lemon and set aside.

Loosen the skin of the chicken from the breasts and thighs.  Slip butter mixture between skin and flesh, spreading it evenly.  Rub skin with oil; season skin and cavity with salt and pepper to taste.  Stuff with quartered lemon, parsley and 1 quartered onion.  Tie legs together with kitchen twine, if you like.

Put remaining quartered onion and carrots into center of roasting pan and place chicken on top of them.  Roast for 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.  Continue roasting for about one more hour.  Transfer chicken to a platter; sprinkle with salt and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I Needed a Quick Dinner Tonight, But Wanted Something Yummy & Healthy

Tonight was a rare night.  No one was working late.  Everyone was home by 8:00.  That's almost unheard of anymore.  Hmmm . . . one hour to fix dinner.

I defrosted three beef petite shoulder medallions (1/2 lb each).  I let them sit on a cutting board sprinkled with McCormick's Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple seasoning on both sides for 1/2 hour.  This was the first time I had used this seasoning.  The label suggested using it on chicken, salmon, or pork; I thought it would be an interesting flavor on beef.  It was - it's smoky, it's sweet, and it's delicious.  The medallions were grilled in the grill pan, six minutes on each side, and then turned one more time and allowed to sit under the press with the burner turned off.    You'll be surprised how tender, juicy, and flavorful these are. (You can find the petite medallions at Dierbergs in the butcher's case.)

We had baked sweet potato fries.  I found them in the freezer case at the grocery store.  I sprinkled them with Lawry's Seasoning Salt and put them in the oven for 20 minutes while the steaks cooked.   They were so good.  Even the kids couldn't get enough of them.

Lastly, we had steamed green beans.  I had a pound and a half of fresh green beans in the fridge.  Once they were snipped and sliced, I put them into a Ziploc Veggie Steamer bag with a little bit of salt, two crushed chicken bullion cubes dissolved in 1/4 cup water, and 3 Tbsp butter.  The bag went into the microwave on high power for 7 minutes.  The beans were so good!  (If you don't have time to snip fresh beans, use frozen.  The results shouldn't be too different.)

Maybe I was just hungry tonight, but dinner was good.  I'll definitely be planning a repeat in the near future.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Grilled Balsamic Chicken

I'm always looking for new ways to fix chicken.  I found this recipe on the iVillage website.  It looks like a good one.  I think we'll try it this week.

8 bonelss, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup chopped scallions
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp ground pepper
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup Dijon mustard

Rinse chicken and pat dry.  Place in a gallon-size zip-top plastic bag.  Combine chicken broth and remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Reserve 1/2 cup marinade; pour remaining marinade over chicken.  Seal bag, and refrigerate up to 24 hours, turning occasionally.

Grill chicken, uncovered, at medium high for 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through, basting with reserved 1/2 cup marinade every few minutes.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Honey Balsamic Vinegar Vinaigrette

Thanks to P. Allen Smith for the following basic sweet vinaigrette salad dressing.  I'm a big fan of his website -  Be sure to visit for gardening and cooking ideas.

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
2 cloves fresh garlic (minced)
1 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 tsp salt

To the vinegar add the honey and extra virgin olive oil. Next add the water and blend.
Add the minced fresh garlic, 1 teaspoon of lemon pepper and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir the mixture until it's well blended.
There's just something about the chemistry of the honey and the balsamic vinegar. When they come together they are the perfect accent for the spinach salad.
Wait to add the dressing until your ready to serve the salad and then just toss it altogether.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Remember Pork Chops & Applesauce from The Brady Bunch Days - Try This Twist

Apple Chutney
1 Tbsp butter
3 Granny Smith apples (peeled and chopped)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp ground allspice

Pork Chops
3/4 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 boneless center-cut pork loin chops

Melt butter in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add apples and saute until apples begin to soften.  Add cranberries, brown sugar, vinegar, and spices.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally.

While the Apple Chutney simmers, heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.  Combine spices and then sprinkle over pork.  Spray grill pan with cooking spray.  Add seasoned pork to pan and cook 5 minutes on each side or until done.

Serve pork with apple chutney.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup

I found a new Butternut Squash Soup recipe on P Allen Smith's website.  This is one I plan to try.  Fall and Winter are soup seasons for me -- this one may just become another one of my favorites.

1 butternut squash (1 - 2 lbs)
1/2 small onion
1 clove of garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups of chicken broth
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup of cream
1/4 cup crushed cashews

Slice the stem off the squash and then halve it lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds.  Place the squash cut-side down in a glass baking dish with about 1/4" of water.  Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil.  Bake in a pre-heated 374 degree oven until tender, about 30 - 45 minutes.

In a saucepan heat olive oil.  Saute onions, garlic and thyme until onion is tender.  This should take about 10 minutes.

Remove the squash from the oven, allow to cool.  Scoop out the meat.  Place 1/2 of the squash, onion, garlic, thyme and 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth in food processor or blender.  Mix until smooth.  Transfer to a sauced pan.  Repeat process with other half of squash and remaining broth and add to sauce pan.

Add the cream and then season with salt and pepper.  Heat the soup through, but not to the point of boiling.

Serve hot garnished with crushed cashews and fresh thyme.

Happy Labor Day!

We had an absolutely beautiful weekend in St. Louis.  Our weather was picture perfect!  We spent Saturday hiking at Rockwood Reservation and then back home to watch the kids drive Paul's racing go-cart through the yard and neighborhood.  Paul can really get that baby moving.  Luke was starting to get pretty comfortable zooming around the yard by the end of the day.  Emma's luck wasn't quite so good.  The engine just wouldn't stay running for her.  Perhaps that was a sign . . .

We finished up the day with lots of good BBQ -- brats, burgers, corn on the cob, grilled veggies, baked potatoes, baked beans, and salad.  Yummy seedless watermelon and cantaloupe for dessert.

Saturday we found time for yardwork and flooring projects.  Late afternoon, I even found time for a nap.  Sunday found us spending time outdoors in the morning, and then finishing up living room flooring in the afternoon.  Had to spend a little bit of time shopping too.

We're going back to work tomorrow pretty well-rested after a productive and fun weekend.

Sure hope your weekend was just as enjoyable!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Apple Crisp

I love this time of year!  It's apple season.  Honeycrisp and Jonathans are in season right now.  In my opinion, Jonathans are the perfect mix of sweet and tart.

5 cups pared and sliced apples
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter

Arrange apples in a 9 x 9" baking pan.  In a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon together; sprinkle over apples.  Mix together all ingredients for oatmeal topping except butter.  Cut butter into mixture and work with fingertips until mixture is crumbly.  spoon oatmeal topping over top of apples and pat firmly. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 - 40 minutes until a crust is formed.  Serve hot or cold.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fettuccini Alfredo with Honey Lemon Pepper Chicken and Herbed Summer Green Beans

As a mom, my favorite dinners are the ones that get a "Wow" or two from the family.  This one did just that.

Marinate three chicken breasts in 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp Lemon Pepper seasoning, and 2 Tbsp honey for 30 minutes.

While the chicken is marinating, wash and stem 2 lbs of fresh green beans.  Place them in a saucepan with 2 cups of water and one chicken bullion cube.   Bring to a boil and cook for six minutes.  Drain and pour into serving bowl.

While the beans are cooking, break 1 lb of fettuccini into a large pot of boiling water with 1 Tbsp salt.  Boil for 11 - 13 minutes until it reaches desired doneness.  Pour two jars of your favorite Alfredo Sauce into a saucepan and heat over medium heat.

Place the chicken breasts on a hot grill pan and cook for six minutes on each side.  Remove from heat and turn over again.  Allow to sit on the grill pan for 6 more minutes before slicing.

To finish the beans, combine 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp Rosemary leaves, 1/2 tsp Thyme, salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well and pour over the green beans.  Stir to coat.  Reheat in the microwave for one minute and then stir again.

To top it off, Emma made chocolate cupcakes with butter cream frosting.  Mmmmm!