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.