Saturday, January 28, 2012

Grilled Chicken - Mango Salad

I found this recipe at Dierbergs not so long ago, and it's really a good one!

2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp Caribbean jerk seasoning (divided)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to even thickness
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 Tbsp rice or white wine vinegar
1 (5 oz) bag baby spinach, rinsed and drained
1 mango, pitted, peeled, and cubed
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and 1 tsp of the jerk seasoning.  Rub over chicken.  Let stand until sugar dissolves, about 10 minutes.  Place chicken on oiled grid over medium-high heat; cover and grill until internal temperature is 165 degrees (about 5 mins/side).  Let stand 5 minutes before slicing crosswise into strips.  In screw top jar, combine oil, juice concentrate, vinegar, and remaining 1 tsp jerk seasoning.  Cover and shake vigorously to blend.  Place spinach in large bowl.  Drizzle 2 Tbs of the dressing over spinach; toss until well mixed.  Divide spinach among 4 individual plates.  Top with mango, onion and chicken strips.  Serve with remaining dressing.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mushroom Risotto

2 cups arborio rice
1 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable broth
1 (10.75 oz) can condensed golden mushroom soup
1 tsp minced garlic
6 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Stir together all ingredients, except Parmesan in slow cooker.  Cook on high, stirring every 30 minutes for 2 hours.  Check consistency.  Continue to cook, stirring every 10 - 15 minutes for 30 minutes to 1 hour.  Be careful not to overcook risotto.  (Rice should be al dente, not mushy.)

Stir in Parmesan before serving.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sweet & Spicy Nuts - A Healthy Snack

1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground Allspice
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 egg white
3 cups mixed nuts, such as almonds, cashews, peanuts and pecans

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Mix sugar, cinnamon, allspice, seasoned salt, pepper and nutmeg in small bowl until well blended.  Beat egg white in large bowl until foamy.  Add nuts; toss to coat well.  Add spice mixture; toss to coat nuts evenly.

Spread nuts in a single layer on lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake 1 hour, stirring once.  Cool slightly and break apart.  Cool completely.  Store in airtight container up to 2 weeks.

Meet Elisabeth Lynn -- The Newest Addition to the Family

There's no question about it, our newest grandbaby is a beauty!  Elisabeth Lynn was born at 10:04 a.m. on January 25th.  She is perfectly healthy and simply gorgeous.  At 6 lbs 13 oz and 19 1/2" long she is a dainty little girl.  We're so anxious to spend more time with her.

Mommy, Daddy and big brother Christian are all doing well.  It will be fun to see how Christian will adapt to having Elisa at home.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Very Rich French Onion Soup

I love a good French Onion Soup, and I'm always trying to perfect the recipe.  Here's my latest . . .

1 stick of butter
4 medium white onions (sliced thinly)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup of red wine
3 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
3 heaping Tbsp flour
8 cups beef broth
1 loaf French bread
1/2 lb mozzarella cheese (cut into small cubes)

Melt the stick of butter in a large 12" skillet over medium heat.  Slice the onions and mince the garlic.   Add to the butter with the bay leaves and thyme.  Add salt and pepper and cook until the onions are caramelized (about 25 minutes).

Add the wine, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated (about 5 minutes).  Add the flour to the onions and cook while stirring for about 10 minutes.  Add the beef broth while stirring constantly.  Add the Worcestershire sauce and bring to a simmer.  Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently.  Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.

While the soup simmers, slice the French bread into 1" cubes.  Toss them into a skillet and toast in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until crunchy.

To serve, place a handful of toasted bread cubes and several cheese cubes in the bottom of a soup bowl.  Spoon the simmering soup into the bowl and serve immediately.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Apricot Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Black-Pepper Sauce

Pork tenderloin is one of those items that you'll find on sale frequently at the grocery store.  I stock up on it when I find it and we have it prepared in one of many ways once a week or so.  Here is one of our favorite recipes. It came from

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 lb pork tenderloin
14 shallots (peeled and halved lengthwise)
2 shallots (coarsely chopped for sauce)
1 (10 oz) jar all-fruit apricot jam
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 1/2 Tbsp red-wine vinegar
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp Thyme

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add pork and halved shallots to skillet.  Brown pork on all sides, turning occasionally, 6 - 8 minutes.  Remove skillet from heat.

Brush pork in skillet with half the jam; drizzle 2 Tbsp broth over shallots.  Transfer skillet to oven.  Roast, turning shallots occasionally until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 155 degrees, 30 - 35 minutes.

Remove skillet from oven.  Using tongs, transfer pork and shallots to a plate.  Let rest (it will continue to cook; temperature should reach 160 degrees).

Place skillet over medium-high heat; add remaining chopped shallots.  Sprinkle with salt; add remaining jam and 6 Tbsp broth.  Deglaze skillet, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon; add cranberries, vinegar, and pepper.  Cook, stirring, until berries are juicy, about 5 minutes.  Stir in thyme.

Slice pork; divide among plates.  Serve with cranberry pan sauce and shallots.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bacon Banana Cookies -- Not so sure about this one!

Every so often I run across a recipe that just leaves me bewildered.  Do people really eat this?  It just sounds a little strange!  This one comes from

2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 bananas, mashed (about 1 1/3 cups)
1/2 lb bacon, cooked crisp, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Ina a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1/2 tsp of the cinnamon, and the salt.

In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to cream together the butter and 1 cup of the sugar.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until they are fully incorporated.  Beat in the vanilla.  Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture, then stir in the mashed bananas,s beating well after each addition.  Fold in the bacon.

Stir together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the remaining cinnamon.

Drop the dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet 1 inch apart.  Sprinkle generously with the cinnamon-sugar and bake for 10 - 12 minutes, until slightly browned.  Allow the cookies to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.  Cookies will keep for 5 - 7 days.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Do you suffer with Eczema?

As a youngster and until I was almost 30 I suffered terribly with Eczema.  There were times my skin was so broken and sore on my hands, feet, legs and arms that I was ashamed to be seen in public.  Not only was it embarrassing, it was itchy and painful too.

When I turned 30, I was pregnant with my second child, and my Eczema magically disappeared.  At the time I thought there must have been a hormonal connection.  Maybe a pregnancy related hormone was the cure to my miserable skin condition.  During that pregnancy I was only able to eat Pasta House Salad (which I didn't  even like before my pregnancy) and drink orange juice.  I couldn't stomach anything else.  Luke, who is 20 today would choose to be a vegetarian if I would let him.  He loves salad, and is seriously not a huge fan of meat.

My Eczema did not return after my pregnancy.  I've already told you Luke is 20 now, and only today do I have  a return outbreak of Eczema.  I have confirmed my theory -- I continued to eat Pasta House Salad  (of course I have a perfect recipe) at least once each week.  Olive oil is a staple ingredient in the Pasta House Salad Dressing.  I also cook with lots of olive oil.  I credit the olive oil with relieving my Eczema.

Last week I ran out of olive oil, and I haven't had the time to get to Sam's to buy the three-liter bottle I usually buy.  It's far too expensive at the grocery store.  Today, my hands are breaking out.

Who needs a Dermatologist or a prescription for steroids when we have olive oil?

Sesame Soy Beef Fondue Marinade

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients in small bowl; stir until sugar is dissolved.

For fondue -- trim all fat from 1 lb of beef tenderloin for sirloin and cut into 1" cubes and place in shallow dish or sealable plastic bag.  Pour marinade over beef; refrigerate 2 - 3 hours.

To serve, heat fondue oil or broth.  Pat beef cubes with paper towels to remove excess marinade to help prevent splattering.  Cook cubes to desired doneness and serve with dipping sauces.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Crunchy Taco Salad

I found this recipe in Dierbergs last week, compliments of Chiquita.  This is perfect as an affordable dinner option.

1 lb lean ground beef
1 box (10 oz) Taco Dinner
1 pkg (10 oz) Fresh Express Hearts of Romaine Salad
3/4 cup Mexican Style Shredded Cheese
1 Chiquita avocado, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup salsa (medium)
1/4 cup Ranch Dressing

Cook ground beef with seasoning as directed on the taco dinner box.  Crumble taco shells, and set aside.  Layer lettuce, 1/2 the taco shells, onion, cheese, and beef on large plate.  Top with remaining taco shells and avocado.  Mix salsa with with Ranch dressing and drizzle over salad.

This should serve 4 people.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Wonderful Stuffed Peppers

A friend was kind enough to share one of her recipes with me a few days ago.  I haven't had a chance to try this yet, but it sounds like it would be yummy, and pretty too!

1 1/2 lbs ground chuck or ground turkey
4 cups cooked rice
6 oz can tomato paste
1 small onion diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 peppers (assorted colors - green, red, yellow, orange)

Prepare rice - I like to use my Pampered Chef Rice Cooker.  2 cups rice, 4 cups water, 2 Tbsp butter, 1/2 tsp salt.  Place in microwave and cook on high for 10 minutes.  Cook 15 minutes longer at 50% power.  Perfect rice every time.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Brown ground chuck or turkey with onion and garlic in pan on stove top.  Drain well.  Add tomato paste and rice and stir while simmering.

Wash and cut the tops from your peppers.  Remove the seeds and fibers from the inside of the pepper.

Spoon approximately 1 cup of the meat and rice mixture into each pepper and place into a casserole dish.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Easy, delicious and healthy!

                                                            Thanks for sharing, Gwen!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My Favorite Days

This may sound a little bit crazy, but days like today are my favorite days!  We woke up to snow and terrible driving conditions this morning.  The ride to work was horrible.  It took me 40 minutes just to drive three miles.   A little bit of snow in St. Louis creates total gridlock!  There is simply nothing like it -- it certainly gave us plenty to talk about.

We managed a high of about 18 degrees today and that makes it the perfect soup for supper kind of night.  I had placed the turkey carcass and remaining drippings from our New Year's Day turkey into a soup pot and filled it with water.  I boiled it for a couple of hours and wound up with a hearty broth and an amazing amount of turkey to freeze and use for turkey and dumplings another time.  Well, tonight was certainly the time.  I placed the frozen broth and turkey in a stock pot over high heat.  I sliced and added carrots, celery and an onion.  Once it came to a rolling boil, I added a package of frozen Reames Dumplings.

A loaf of Ciabatta bread baked in the oven and sliced to serve made the perfect compliment to a cold weather dinner.

All of the kids were home for dinner and we enjoyed a quiet evening.  Sometimes it's just nice to spend time with everyone at home.  Thanks to a little bad weather, we had that pleasure tonight.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Beef Fondue Barbecue Dipping Sauce

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp onion (finely minced)
1 garlic clove (minced)
2 cups chili sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp water
Pinch red pepper flakes

In a medium saucepan heat oil.  Add onions and garlic, and saute until softened.  Add rest of the ingredients and cook at a simmer for about 15 minutes.  Thin out with water if necessary.  The sauce can be served warm or chilled.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fondue Plum Dipping Sauce

Lately, I've posted lots of fondue-related recipes.  This recipe is a perfect dipper for  your fondued chicken, pork, beef, or seafood.

2/3 cup plum sauce (this is found in the oriental food aisle)
2 green onions with tops (sliced)
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp honey
3 - 4 drops hot chili oil

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl; mix well.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fruit Fresh Pasta Salad

I'm always looking for new ways to make dinner exciting, and, of course, yummy!  Well, this original recipe was a hit at our house tonight.

6 oz fresh spinach (washed and torn)
1/2 head iceberg lettuce (washed and torn)
1 lb bow tie pasta
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh sliced strawberries
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions
1 cup fresh pineapple (or canned in fresh juice)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Poppyseed salad dressing

Grill the chicken in grill pan, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Wash and spin dry the spinach and iceberg lettuce.  Tear into bite-size pieces.
Wash and the berries.  Slice strawberries.
I use canned pineapple in fresh juice.
Place chicken breasts on grill pan and grill for 9 minutes on each side - sprinkle with seasoning salt and pepper.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add 2 tsp salt.  Add the pasta and boil for 11 minutes (until al dente).
Drain cooked pasta.
Remove chicken from grill pan and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Place lettuce and spinach mixture on plate.  Top with a spoonful of pasta.  To with your choice of chicken, cheese, berries, pineapple, and onions.   Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle with Poppyseed dressing.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Cheddar Beer Fondue

2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1/3 lb Gruyere cheese (shredded)
1 rounded Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup German lager beer (Bud Light will work if you have no German beer)
2 Tbsp spicy brown mustard
A few drops of hot sauce
A few drops of Worcestershire sauce

Combine cheeses in a bowl with flour.  Add beer to a small pot and bring up to a bubble over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and add cheese in handfuls.  Stir constantly, melting the cheese in batches.  Stir in a figure-eight pattern with wooden spoon.  When the cheese has been incorporated fully, stir in the mustard, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce.  Transfer fondue to warm fondue pot.