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Recipe: Green Beans Almondine


When I was growing up, my folks went to formal dinner dances that Masonic lodges in their district held. They went fairly often since I recall there were almost 30 lodges in the district, they all had dances, so there were many to choose from.

This was the sixties and beef was what people ate…. steak and baked potato and a vegetable…. green beans almondine became a popular vegetable at these events… and my parents ate them until they couldn’t look at them anymore.. needless to say.. my Mother did not serve green beans almondine at home. It wasn’t until after I got married I discovered this wonderful way to make string (green) beans.

Green beans almondine are very easy to make…. basically you cook or steam the green beans… dry them and toss them quickly in a pot with butter sautéed shallots and almonds…. Just delicious!
Enjoy!

Green Beans Almondine Recipe:

All you need:

2 lbs. green beans (whole not split)
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup slivered almonds
3 shallots, peeled and chopped
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

All you need to do:

Cook the 2 pounds of green beans either by steaming or in a large pot of salted boiling water for about 5 minutes (green beans should be crisp tender) or if you like them a little softer, about 8 minutes.

When green beans are done… drain.

Put the green beans in a large bowl of ice water and let cool.

Drain again and pat dry…. Set aside.

In a medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter.

Add the slivered almonds and cook until the almonds for about 3 minutes or until they are golden, stirring frequently.

Add the shallots and continue cooking until they are soft and translucent (about a minute).

Add the green beans, tossing to coat. Cook until heated through.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Recipe: Champagne Chicken

This is a wonderful chicken dish…. that’s not hard to make and certainly could be used for a romantic dinner for two…. it should at least make your list of possibilities for Valentine’s Day…

I’ve made it for a number of special occasion meals over the years to much success….

You can make everything up to the adding of the heavy cream and grapes. Cook the chicken until almost done... turn the heat on very low and simmer very slowly.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Enjoy!

Champagne Chicken Recipe:

All you need:

¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon ginger
2 boneless chicken breasts (4 halves)
¼ cup butter
1 onion sliced
Bouquet garni made of 1 carrot, cut-up, 1 bay leaf
4 cups of champagne
1 cup seedless white grapes
1 cup heavy cream

All you need to do:

Put the flour, salt, pepper and ginger in a bag.
Shake each piece of chicken in the bag to coat.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
Brown the chicken slowly in the butter.
Then add the onion, cook the onion for 1-2 minutes until they soften a little.
Add the champagne and the bouquet garni.
Cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked.
Remove the chicken and transfer to a warm plate.
Remove the bouquet garni and the onion.
Add the grapes and the heavy cream.
Heat… but do not boil the sauce…
Place the chicken on a platter and pour the sauce over it.
You can also serve it on individual plates with a bed of wild rice, rice pilaf or other rice…. the chicken on top and the sauce poured over that.

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If You Don’t Have a Deviled Egg Dish

Tip of the Day

If you don’t have a deviled egg dish… to keep the eggs from rolling simply cut a slice off the back so they are flat and don’t roll….. you could also lay them on lettuce but the slice method works the best.

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Recipe: Deviled Eggs


A while back I posted a recipe for Zesty Deviled Eggs…. which, by the way, are excellent… but if you prefer the more classic deviled eggs… here is the way you make them…. they’re so easy they hardly require a recipe…

These are always a hit at gatherings…. They go well with so many things.

I use Hellman's Mayonnaise because I like it the best... but you can use any brand you like.

The quantities will depend on how many you make…. I always boil up a dozen for gatherings since they’re so cheap to make and they get eaten up so fast.

Enjoy!

Deviled Eggs Recipe:

All you need:

Hard boiled eggs
Mayonnaise
Dry Mustard
Tabasco
Salt to taste
Paprika to taste
Snipped chives for garnish (optional)

All you need to do:

Shell the hard boiled eggs.

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise.

Pop out the egg yolks and put them in a bowl.

Mash the yolks.

Add a dollop of mayonnaise to give the yolks a smooth consistency.

Add a little dry mustard.

Add a drop or two of Tabasco (to taste).

Add salt and paprika to taste.

Spoon the filling into the cavities of the eggs so they are heaping.

Sprinkle paprika or snipped chives for garnish. (optional)

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Recipe: Coleslaw


We love Kentucky Fried Chicken’s coleslaw…. It’s undoubtedly the best…. I was surprised how easy it was to find the recipe…. especially since they closely guard their chicken recipe…. but nevertheless … here it is…. Yummmmm

Enjoy!



Coleslaw Recipe:

All you need:

8 cups finely shredded cabbage
¼ cup shredded carrot
1 small onion, coarsely grated
1/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
¼ cup milk
½ cup mayo
¼ cup buttermilk
1 ½ tablespoons white vinegar
2 ½ tablespoons lemon juice

All you need to do:

In a large bowl combine shredded cabbage, shredded carrots and onion.

Combine all other ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and mix thoroughly.

Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Read more...

Menu Idea #1


I decided to give you a menu idea today….. Each part is great in their own right and certainly could be paired with other things…. I wanted to get you to start thinking about pairing different foods together.

The Menu:

Mustard Pork Chops
Orzo with Shallots and Garlic
Baked Tomatoes

I chose the orzo because garlic goes well with mustard and I didn’t want the orzo to have any flavors that would over power the pork.

Baked Tomatoes go well with just about everything. They, too, have garlic on them and the light taste of basil, which complimented the rest of the meal.

I make baked tomatoes a lot in the summer and fall when we have a bumper crop of tomatoes. They go so well with grilled meats.

Read more...

Recipe: Mustard Pork Chops

This is a wonderfully light pork chop dish that blends the flavors of honey and mustard…. And what’s even better …. It practically makes itself…. it frees you up to do other things like prepare a small salad or vegetables or a dessert….

This can be dressed up with great sides…. veggies and a rice pilaf or orzo maybe…. Some warm dinner rolls…. This could easily make your short list of possibilities for Valentine’s Day.

The recipe calls for coarse whole grained mustard.... which has a strong flavor.... if you prefer a sweeter lighter flavor use only Dijon mustard...

Enjoy!

Mustard Pork Chops Recipe:

All you need:

½ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup coarse grained mustard
3-6 tablespoons honey (taste it... we don't like it too sweet... so 3 is enough for us)
4 boneless pork chops
Fresh snipped chives

All you need to do:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, mix the 2 kinds of mustards and the honey.

Spread the honey mustard on both sides of the pork chops and place in the baking dish.

Bake uncovered 25 to 35 minutes or until pork chops are done.

Garnish with snipped chives.

Read more...

Recipe: Orzo with Shallots and Garlic



Adapted 02-22-10

I love orzo…. it’s in between a pasta and a rice…. there really is so much you can do with it…. so I went hunting for a relatively plain recipe that didn’t use parmesan cheese. I really didn’t want a risotto… because if I did… I’d make risotto.

I came up with this recipe… mostly because we love onions and garlic… and I, personally, love shallots…. I love the light oniony flavor without being too potent. I wanted something that would go with a meat that had strong flavors in that recipe… I didn’t want the orzo to over-power it…. I wanted something that would compliment it.

TIP


Chop the onions and garlic together in a mini chopper... this will completely incorporate the two together and make for a better flavor.... also this way no one will get a large piece of garlic.

I hope you enjoy this.








Orzo with Shallots and Garlic Recipe:

All you need:


2 shallots finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup of dry orzo
3 cups of fat free chicken broth
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste


All you need to do:

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Add the shallots and garlic. Sauté them until they have softened a bit… about 3 minutes. Remove and set aside.

In the same skillet over medium high heat, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Add the orzo… cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring to incorporate the butter and olive oil.

Add the chicken broth.

Cover and heat to boiling.

Reduce heat and simmer until the orzo is soft and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Add the onions and garlic. Mix well.

Salt and pepper to taste.

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Recipe: Baked Tomatoes

This is a pleasant little side dish that goes so well with so many meals. We try really hard to watch our diets and often eat grilled meats and fish with vegetables and a salad…. (I figure this way I can have dessert)… so I really try to make sure our vegetables have variety … I use a lot of herbs… and garlic… I think Warren would eat garlic every day…. no vampire worries at our house…

We eat sliced tomatoes with chopped basil a lot. Sometimes I like to make this dish and bake them…. baking them really infuses the garlic flavor. It really is a nice change….and so easy.

The quantities will depend on how much you want to make. I figure 1 tomato per person. I use one small garlic clove for every 2-4 tomatoes… I use enough olive oil to brush the tomato halves and the foil in the pan…. And I figure about one tablespoon or so of chopped fresh basil for every 2 tomatoes (4 halves).

Enjoy!

Baked Tomatoes Recipe:

All you need:

Firm ripe tomatoes
Olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
Garlic clove(s)
Chopped fresh basil
Finely chopped parsley (optional)
Seasoned Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs

All you need to do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a pan with Reynolds Wrap Non-Stick Foil ( I love this stuff, nothing sticks to it)… brush lightly with oil.

Clean and cut tomatoes in half vertically. Cut out a small "V" to take out the part where the stem is.

Place the tomatoes in the pan, cut side up. Put them close together so they don’t fall over. (I took a tiny amount off the backside so they would lay without rolling)

Sprinkle salt and freshly ground pepper over them.

Brush the tops with olive oil.

Finely chop garlic and basil.

Sprinkle the tops of the tomatoes with the garlic-basil mixture.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Remove pan and sprinkle with the chopped fresh parsley and Italian seasoned bread crumbs. Drizzle a little olive oil using a small spoon.

Return pan to the oven and bake for 5 minutes.

The tomatoes will have wilted somewhat and the juices will leaked out a bit.

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Coarse and Whole Grained Mustards

Tip of the day

Coarse and whole grained mustards contain whole mustard seeds and have a strong mustard and nutty flavor. They’re thicker and heartier than other types of mustard. Ask any German what mustard to put on wurst or ham… and you will likely be told a brand that is coarse and whole grained.

I’ve put together a list of a few brands that I have used…. You should try different kinds to find the one that suits your tastes the best. I also like different ones for different things…. The taste does vary widely.

Boar’s Head is my favorite for ham sandwiches…. Plochman’s and Inglehoffer is my favorite for wursts… and Grey Poupon is probably my first choice for in recipes. In any case… tastes are personal… and no one person is right or wrong… taste it and see what you prefer.

Well known brands of coarse and whole grained mustards:

Boar’s Head All Natural Delicatessen Style Mustard
Plochman’s Premium Natural Stone Ground Mustard
Inglehoffer Original Stone Ground Mustard
Grey Poupon Harvest Coarse Ground Mustard
Grey Poupon Country Dijon Mustard

Read more...

Sunday Breakfast Idea IV


For this week’s Sunday breakfast idea I’m bringing back a recipe I published a while ago… an Irish favorite….click on the highlighted link for a shortcut to the recipe Corned Beef Hash and Eggs. This is a hearty breakfast that’s sure to keep you going all day and is simply delicious.

We serve this breakfast with fresh made biscuits and honey, juice and coffee... a truly Southern breakfast. It’s simple to make… as the corned beef hash finishes cooking…. You can make the eggs…. We make either fried eggs over easy or poached… either way it’s simply good.

Read more...

Recipe: Cuervo Frozen Margarita


This recipe is the frozen version of the Classic Margarita…. Yummmmm

Enjoy!






Cuervo Frozen Margarita Recipe:

All you need:

1 ounce Jose Cuervo Especial
3 ounces lime Margarita mix
4 ounces crushed ice
Salt in a dish
Lime slices or wedges for garnish
Lime wedges to salt rim of glass

All you need to do:

Rub the rim of the glass with a lime wedge.

Dip the rim in the salt and set aside.

Mix Jose Cuervo Especial, lime Margarita mix and crushed ice in a blender.

Pour into the glass and garnish with a lime slice or wedge.

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Recipe: Classic Margarita

I love Margaritas…. They just go so well with appetizers and Mexican food… well to be completely honest here…. They go well with just about everything…..

You will need a jigger….( jiggers have a side that is 1 ounce) to measure the liquid ingredients …. and a cocktail shaker with a strainer to mix the drink and strain it into the glass…..and a small dish of salt to dip the glass in….

I will post a few recipes so you can get started thinking about what you might want to serve at your Super Bowl Party…

Ole!

Classic Margarita Recipe:

All you need:

1 ounce Jose Cuervo Clasico
3 ounces lime Margarita mix
8 ounces of ice
Salt
Lime slices for garnish
Lime wedges to run on rim for salt

All you need to do:

Rub the rim of a chilled margarita glass with a lime wedge and dip the rim in the dish of salt. Set aside.

In the cocktail shaker add the Jose Cuervo Clasico, lime Margarita mix and ice

Shake vigorously

Pour the drink (with the strainer attached) into the prepared glass filled with ice.

Read more...

Recipe: Non-Frozen and Frozen Raspberry Margarita

Here is a great frozen Raspberry Margarita recipe….. another one …. yummmmmm

If you don’t want the Raspberry Margarita frozen then use only ¼ cup crushed ice, make it in a shaker, shake well and strain it into a glass.

Enjoy!

Non-Frozen and Frozen Raspberry Margarita Recipe:

All you need:

1 ounce white tequila
4 ounces Daily’s Raspberry Daiquiri/Margarita mix
¾ ounce Triple Sec
1 cup crushed ice

All you need to do:

Mix in a blender until smooth and pour into a Margarita glass and garnish with fresh raspberries.

Read more...

Recipe: Non-Frozen and Frozen Peach Margarita

Here is a great frozen Peach Margarita recipe…..I love fruit and what better way to enjoy fruit than in a frozen Margarita!

If you don’t want the Peach Margarita frozen then use only ¼ cup crushed ice, make it in a shaker, shake well and strain it into a glass.

Enjoy!

Non-Frozen and Frozen Peach Margarita Recipe:

All you need:

1 ounce white tequila
4 ounces Daily’s Peach Daiquiri/Margarita mix
¾ ounce Triple Sec
1 cup crushed ice

All you need to do:

Mix in a blender until smooth and pour into a Margarita glass and garnish with a peach slice.

Read more...

Recipe: Non-Alcoholic Margarita Punch

This is non-alcoholic Margarita Punch recipe is definitely a winner… It’s great for adults, as well as, teens….

And it’s easy… what could be better?

Enjoy!

Non-Alcoholic Margarita Punch Recipe:

All you need:

1 can frozen lemonade concentrate (12 oz)
1 can frozen limeade concentrate (12 oz)
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
4 egg whites
6 cups crushed ice
1 liter bottle club soda
1 lime, sliced for garnish
Bar salt for glasses
Lime wedges to prepare glasses for salt rim

All you need to do:

In a large container…. About 4 quarts… combine lemonade, limeade, sugar, egg whites and crushed ice. Mix well using a hand mixer.

Cover the container and freeze for about an hour before serving.

Prepare glasses by rubbing a lime wedge around the rims of the glasses. Dip the glass rims in a dish of salt. Set aside.

When ready to serve… pour the slush into a large punch bowl with the club soda and mix with a hand mixer.

Float lime slices.

If a large punch bowl is unavailable… you can make this in batches in a blender and put into the prepared glasses or pitchers. Blend 2 cups of lemonade slush to 1 cup club soda in a blender.

Serve.

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Recipe: Non-Alcoholic Strawberry Margarita

I am a firm believer in making non-alcoholic beverages available for guests. I also think it’s important to make them as festive as the alcoholic ones…. So here is a recipe for a non-alcoholic Frozen Strawberry Margarita…

Cheers!

Non-Alcoholic Strawberry Margarita Recipe:

All you need:

2 ounces of non-alcoholic Strawberry Schnapps
½ ounce Sweet & Sour Mix
½ cup of crushed ice

All you need to do:

Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Pour into a chilled glass rimmed with sugar.

Read more...

Using Flavored Syrups in Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Tip of the Day

You can use delicious flavored syrups in beverages that you are making to mimic alcoholic beverages such as Margaritas. There are a number of companies that produce these products…. Here are two of them and links to their websites that you may find helpful.

The Franco Cocktail Mix company makes a non-alcoholic Triple Sec. Triple Sec is used in numerous cocktails including Margaritas. You can find more information about their products here.

The Monin company makes a wide assortment of flavored syrups that you can use in place of Schnapps in your cocktail recipes. You can find more information about their products here.

Read more...

Super Bowl Party Menu Planning

Tip of the Day

Planning...Planning and Planning

Okay we're not in college anymore... a bag of Doritos and a keg do not make a party... besides most of us have to get up the next day and go to work. So it's best to plan so you don't kill yourself feeding your husband's entire office that he invited on Friday afternoon to watch the Sunday game on your wide screen tv.

No matter if you are planning a party for 30 or just a small one… you can have fun food that’s not only easy and affordable… but will also WOW your guests.

Through the years I always made Super Bowl Sunday a family event. I planned casual foods that we loved that did not keep me in the kitchen. It was a fun afternoon-evening together.

I mentioned around the holidays… that you cannot do everything yourself… and I think that is mostly true. Smaller celebrations that are at a slower time of year make it possible for a total Do-It-Yourselfer. Whether you plan to make everything or only some things… will depend on your time and budget.

I also mentioned that if you bought commercially made frozen appetizers and hors’dourves that you can use some of them and save some for Super Bowl Sunday. I did that every year and it worked out perfectly. It allowed me to purchase a wide selection so I could have variety… and I had no waste…. so if you followed my advice… you’re menu is halfway there already.

When I plan a menu for something like this… I stick to an overall theme. Since it’s football… I keep the foods casual. Sticking to an overall theme is important. First …. A mixture of foods of different types do not always go over well. Whether it’s a pizza theme… sandwiches…. or Mexican….. and depending on your location …. some areas of the country are still warm enough to have a barbeque……. No matter what I decide on… I follow one rule…I don’t stray too far off my theme…. so think about what kinds of foods you want on your menu…. Then do a recipe hunt for the foods you want to serve.

After you have a list of possibilities for your menu and their recipes…. see how much can be done in advance… keep it to a minimum for game day preparation. Eliminate foods that simply will take too much time away from your guests.

Depending on when you start your party and if you’re intention is to provide a main food item… mostly I do pick a substantial food to be included…. compare the list to the budget. .. and if your good to go….. make a formal list of everything so you don’t forget anything…..then start making a prep ahead list.

Do a timetable…. Make as much as you possibly can ahead and split among the few days before.

Make a shopping list…. and I do believe you are ready to start getting ready for partying!

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Recipe: Buffalo Style Beef Empanadas


This Beef Empanadas recipe is adapted from Pillsbury…. It’s very simple… but I do have some tips to make it successful…

The recipe calls for Pillsbury Grands! Refrigerated Buttermilk Biscuits. When you roll these into 6 inch rounds… they end up pretty big…. I would say almost sandwich size…. for a party … I would use the refrigerated biscuits (small ones)…. Roll them out to half the size (3 inch) these are… and bake them about 8-10 minutes…. keep an eye on them so the tops don’t burn.

Another tip …. You really need to flour your board and hands if you are rolling these or pressing these into shape…. It’s easier to roll them out with a rolling pin. I actually measured the first one… apparently I am not a good judge of size… I was way off… getting a fairly accurate size will help these to cook properly and prevent the filling from leaking.

The beef can be browned and stored in the fridge until you make these…. You can also make them ahead… be sure they are lightly floured so they don’t stick to the container or waxed paper when you stack them in the container.

These would make a great Saturday night supper with a plate of nachos or maybe potato skins. The Empanadas are quite filling.

You can use any Buffalo wing sauce that you like… we didn’t know what to choose… so we guessed…. and we lucked out with a great sauce…. It’s called “Texas Pete Buffalo Style Chicken Wing Barbecue Sauce”….

Serve these with Bleu Cheese or Ranch Dressing….. yummmmm

One last tip… the recipe was written for ground beef… cooked chicken would go just as well…

Enjoy!

Buffalo Style Beef Empanadas Recipe:

All you need:

¾ pound ground beef or cooked chicken, diced
½ cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup purchased Buffalo wing sauce
1 (16.3 oz.) can Pillsbury Grands! Refrigerated Buttermilk Biscuits
1 cup shredded Cheddar – Monterey Jack cheese
½ cup purchased bleu cheese or ranch dressing

All you need to do:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Brown the beef in a skillet over medium high heat until no longer pink, stirring frequently.

Break up the beef into small pieces.

Drain the beef.

Combine in a medium bowl, the browned beef, chopped green onions and Buffalo wing sauce.

On a floured board, roll out each biscuit into 6 inch circles.

Put about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of meat mixture on half of each circle.

Top the meat with about 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese.

Fold the one side of the circle over the side with the filling.

Press the edges firmly to seal.

Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.

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Recipe: Potato Skins


I came across this recipe at Simply Recipes while looking for recipes for Potato Skins… I’ve made them before… but I wanted to see how others make them… actually the recipe is basic and pretty much how I’ve made them in the past…

I just had to include the recipe in our Super Bowl Menu. It takes time to do these… but they are easy and can be done ahead…. which as you know … I really like.

The day before, you can bake the potatoes while you do other things…. I let mine cool completely… I cut them in half and scooped out the potato…. and lined them up in airtight containers and kept them in the fridge….

When I go to make them...I set them out to come closer to room temperature… and then I picked up the recipe from there… by the way… I scooped out the potato and put it in an airtight container…. We really like baked stuffed potatoes… and you never have enough inner potato to re-stuff the skin… so that’s what I use the saved extra potato for.

I figure about 1 ½ potatoes per person if I’m serving lots of other things… if I’m not serving much else…I figure at least 2 potatoes per person…. And then I throw in a couple more to round it out. Trust me… you won’t have leftovers.

The ingredient quantities will be dependent on how many you are making.

These are very easy…. I know you will enjoy them!

Potato Skins Recipe:

All you need:

Potatoes (I use Russet)
Olive oil for rubbing on the potatoes
Chopped green onions
Shredded cheese (I use cheddar)
Bacon, cooked and crumbled
Sour Cream

All you need to do:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Scrub and dry the potatoes.

Rub the skins with a little olive oil.

Bake them for 1 hour.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack.

Cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the potato from the skin. Leave about 1/8 to a ¼ inch of potato on the skin.

Brush both the inner and outer portion of the skins… sprinkle the top side with salt.

Lay them either on a rack or a pan (I line my pan with Reynolds Wrap Non-Stick Foil).

Return them to the oven for 10 minutes.

While the potatoes are in the oven, cook the bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels.

Crumble the bacon. Set aside.

When the potatoes have finished baking 10 minutes, remove them from the oven.

Flip them over and sprinkle salt on the top side.

Return them to the oven for 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Let potatoes cool enough to handle.

Arrange the potato skins on a cookie sheet.

Grind fresh black pepper over them.

Mound shredded cheddar cheese on each…. about 2-3 tablespoons
Sprinkle with crumbled bacon bits.

Bake for about 10 minutes until cheese is melted.

Using tongs remove the potato skins from the pan onto a serving plate.

Place a small dollop of sour cream on each and sprinkle with chopped green onions.

Read more...

Recipe: Margarita Ole Bars


Do you love Margaritas? If you do... here is a recipe just for you... well and anyone you want to share these wonderful bars with..

This recipe for Margarita Ole Bars is from the folks at Pillsbury… I found the recipe in a soft book of theirs entitled “Get Togethers” from May 2006.

I love Margaritas… “regular” or fruit… frozen or not… I’m a die hard fan of Margaritas… so when I saw this recipe … I just had to make them….. and I'm glad I did... they're a little like lemon bars but with a little twist... a perfect finish to a mexican meal.

TIPS

Now… you know me well enough by now….of course I have to mention adaptations. If you look at the “Margarita” ingredient… it’s thawed frozen Margarita mix concentrate… so that leaves the door wide open for substitutions.

Well…. I am a fan also of Williams Sonoma… when we walk by the store… my son whispers in my ear…ahhh ah ahhh….. yes …. I think the William Sonoma store is a slice of heaven… granted a lot of things are out of my price range… but surprisingly… many are extremely well priced and affordable….

So where am I going with this? I will tell you…. Williams Sonoma makes Margarita mix in bottles with all sorts of fabulous flavors…. Strawberry... Peach... you name it...So substituting is a snap... pick a flavor...and change up the Margarita Bars as you wish… experiment.. if nothing else you will have fun eating the results.

It’s a great recipe… and very easy too….






PRINT RECIPE

Margarita Ole Bars Recipe

All you need:

For the crust:

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened

For the Filling:

4 eggs
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup frozen Margarita mix concentrate, thawed
2 teaspoons grated lime peel
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

All you need to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the crust ingredients using an electric mixer set on low until the mixture is crumbly.

With floured hands, press the crust mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 13x9 inch pan.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a light golden brown.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs slightly. Mix in the granulated sugar, ¼ cup flour and baking powder until well blended.

Stir in the Margarita mix and lime peel.

Remove the pan from the oven.

Pour the filling over the crust.

Return the pan to the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until top is golden brown and filling is set.

Cool completely (about an hour).

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into squares.

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Recipe: Creamy No-Bake Cheesecake


I wanted to include this creamy no-bake cheesecake recipe because it's made a little differently than the others I’ve posted. This recipe uses unflavored gelatin to “gell” the cake and doesn’t get baked.

This recipe is also easy… be sure to read my Tip of the Day about using unflavored gelatin.

You can top this cheesecake with virtually anything… serve in pre-cut pieces and put the topping on in the kitchen for a spectacular presentation. Use plain sliced strawberries… pie filling…cherry, strawberry, raspberry or blueberry… or drizzle a dessert syrup on it… or even drizzle chocolate syrup on it…. or even serve it plain…. it’s all good.

Enjoy!

Creamy No-Bake Cheesecake Recipe:

All you need:

For the crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup sugar
½ stick butter or margarine, melted

For the filling:

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
¼ cup cold water
1 package (8 oz.) Philadelphia Brand cream Cheese, softened
½ cup sugar
¾ cup milk
¼ cup lemon juice
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
Topping

All you need to do:

Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter or margarine in a small bowl using a fork. Mix until crumbly.

Press onto the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan.

Soften gelatin by placing the gelatin in ¼ cup cold water for 5 minutes.

Microwave the gelatin on high for 30 to 75 seconds or until it dissolves to a completely clear liquid. If there is any cloudiness, the gelatin has not completely dissolved and the mixture will not set. (Start with 30 seconds and continue until cloudiness has disappeared).

DO NOT boil unflavored gelatin or it will become stringy and unusable.

Beat the cream cheese and sugar at low speed until blended.

Gradually add the gelatin, milk and lemon juice.

Fold in the whipped cream and pour over the crust.

Refrigerate until firm.

Carefully run a knife around the edge of the cake.

Remove the rim.

Top with topping of choice or cut individual pieces, then top with a topping.

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How to Use Unflavored Gelatin

Tip of the Day:

Soften gelatin by placing the gelatin in ¼ cup cold water for 5 minutes.
Microwave the gelatin on high for 30 to 75 seconds or until it dissolves to a completely clear liquid. If there is any cloudiness, the gelatin has not completely dissolved and the mixture will not set. (Start with 30 seconds and continue until cloudiness has disappeared).

DO NOT boil unflavored gelatin or it will become stringy and unusable.

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Recipe: Marble Cheesecake


Marble cheesecake is extremely popular…. and with good reason... it looks so elegant .... a perfect cake for any occasion.

This is another easy and delicious cheesecake recipe…. It’s one of the many I have in my file from the folks at Philadelphia.

TIPS

As always… I recommend using Philadelphia cream cheese… it really is the best.

Be sure to use my tips for preventing cracks in your cheesecake.








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Recipe: Marble Cheesecake:

All you need:

For the crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter or margarine

For the filling:

3 packages (8 oz each) Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 square Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate, melted

All you need to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the crumbs, sugar and butter or margarine together using a fork.

Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan. Bake 10 minutes.

When crust is done baking, remove the pan from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees.

Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla at low speed until well blended.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating at low speed after each addition.

Take 1 cup of the cream cheese mixture and put it in a small bowl.

Blend the chocolate into the 1 cup of cream cheese mixture.

Spoon a layer of cream cheese mixture over the crust using about half the mixture.

Dot the layer with dollops of the chocolate cream cheese mixture using about half the chocolate mixture.

Repeat with the final half of the cream cheese mixture.

Dot the 2nd layer with dollops of the chocolate cream cheese mixture using the final half the chocolate cream cheese mixture.

Take a knife and cut swirls through the cream cheese mixtures to create the marbled effect.

Bake 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. Do not open the oven door during baking.

Remove the cake from the oven and loosen the rim of the pan.

Cool completely before removing the rim of the pan.

Refrigerate.

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Recipe: Praline Pecan Cheesecake

This recipe for praline pecan cheesecake is sinfully good……..hmmmmmmmmm

I got this from one of those soft cover books from Pillsbury April 1993 entitled “Bake-Off Pies and Desserts”… although I have seen the recipe elsewhere… that is where I got it originally… I did substitute vanilla for rum extract… that was the only change I made…. It’s just wonderful.

This cheesecake is amazing!

Definitely a winner… enjoy!



Praline Pecan Cheesecake Recipe:

All you need:

For the crust:

1 package Pillsbury Plus Butter Recipe Cake Mix
½ cup butter or margarine, softened

For the filling:

3 (8 oz) packages Philadelphia cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
4 (1.4 oz) toffee candy bars, coarsely crushed

For the topping:

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup caramel ice cream topping

All you have to do:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix and butter at a low speed until crumbly.

Take 1 cup of the mixture and set aside for the topping.

Flour your hands… and press the rest of the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides (up about 1 ½ inches) of an ungreased 9 or 10 inch spring form pan.

In the same bowl, combine the cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, flour and vanilla, beat at low speed until smooth.

Add eggs, beat a very low speed. Mix well.

Stir in the crushed candy bars.

Pour into the crust lined pan.

In a small bowl, combine the set aside crumb mixture, brown sugar and pecans. Mix well.

Sprinkle evenly over the filling.

Bake for 70 to 85 minutes or until the center is set and topping is golden brown.
Remove from oven and drizzle caramel topping over the top.

Bake an additional 8 to 10 minutes to set topping.

Cool 30 minutes.

Run a knife around sides of pan to loosen

Cool completely.

Remove sides of the springform pan.

Refrigerate 4 to 5 hours or overnight before serving.

This cheesecake must be stored in the refrigerator.

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Preventing Cracks in Cheesecakes

Tip of the Day:

Here are some helpful hints to help prevent cracks in cheesecakes:

1. When mixing ingredients use the lowest speed of the mixer, and beat only until eggs are blended in. Using a higher speed will infuse air into the batter which causes the cheesecake to puff and then fall, causing cracks.

2. Place a shallow pan half full of water on the bottom oven rack during baking. This helps keep the cheesecake top moist.

3. Always cool a cheesecake in a draft free place. Let the cheesecake cool for 10 minutes before removing the ring.

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Recipe: Sweet Potato Pie


In honor of National Pie Day….. here is a great pie recipe for Sweet Potato Pie…. Yummmmmm

Just an FYI…. This will puff in the oven and fall when removed…. You didn’t do anything wrong!

If you like sweet potatoes … you are sure to love this!

Sweet Potato Pie Recipe:

All you need:

4 medium sweet potatoes
2 eggs
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick ( ½ cup) butter
½ cup evaporated milk
Dash of salt
1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell

All you need to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Boil the sweet potatoes until they are soft. Cool slightly for easier handling.

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into chunks.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the sweet potatoes until smooth and there are no lumps.

Add the remaining ingredients (except the pie shell).

Beat until smooth and creamy.

Pour mixture into the pie shell.

Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Recipe: Chocolate Chiffon Pie

This is a delicious chocolate chiffon pie recipe I have in my file from a restaurant that I used to go to years ago on Long Island…. It was called Bill’s Harbor Inn in Manorhaven…. I’m not sure they are still around but this recipe still is…. I’ve made many times over the years and someone always asks for the recipe…

I have used the shortcut of using commercially made graham cracker crusts before with success. I just sprinkled a little cinnamon on the crust before adding the filling… I gave you the recipe as I received it…. but I, personally, like the convenience of using a prepared graham cracker crust…. It’s a huge time saver.

So in honor of National Pie Day… I thought I would share this recipe with you…. I hope you try it… you’ll be glad you did!

Chocolate Chiffon Pie Recipe:

All you need:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 bars German’s sweet chocolate
6 tablespoons cold water
1 pint heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla

All you need to do:

Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of a greased 9 inch spring form pan.

Refrigerate.

While crust is refrigerating, break the chocolate up into pieces.

In a small sauce pan over low heat, combine the chocolate with the water, and heat until just melted. This should take about 15 minutes.

Stir the chocolate well and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Whip the heavy cream in a chilled bowl with chilled beaters. Whip to a creamy texture. The cream should have volume but still be creamy not stiff. Do not overbeat.

Add vanilla to the chocolate mixture.

Carefully fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream.

Pour into the pie crust.

Run a knife around the side of the pan to bring the crust into the filling.

Refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

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Recipe: Raspberry Almond Pie

This dessert pie recipe is so easy and soooo good. By using a pre-made pie crust… this is ready in a jiffy.

Enjoy!

Raspberry Almond Pie Recipe:

All you need:

1 9 inch chocolate crumb crust
1 ½ cup seedless raspberry jam
12 tablespoons butter
¾ cup sugar
3 eggs
¾ cup ground almonds

All you need to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the jam over the bottom of the pie crust.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating constantly.

Stir in the almonds.

Pour the mixture into the pie crust.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until lightly browned.

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Recipe: Easy Taco Pie


This savory pie recipe is great for a family with picky eaters…..

We absolutely love tacos… and this is one big taco rolled into a pie…. I like to layer the top of the pie with everything… but if you have picky eaters… then layer with as much or as little as you like…. You can always put out the toppings so everyone can pick and choose what they want….

A Mexican restaurant that we go to frequently serves salad with their entrees … and I’ve gotten into the habit of doing the same…. The salad they serve is a simple one… shredded lettuce … topped with a dollop of sour cream and a dollop of guacamole….

It’s perfect with this taco pie.

Ole!

Easy Taco Pie Recipe:

All you need:

1 9-inch pie shell baked according to package directions
1 pound ground beef
1 Taco seasoning packet
1 container (16 oz) sour cream
8 oz shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 (14.5) package corn or tortilla chips, crushed
½ cup sliced olives
½ cup chopped fresh tomatoes
½ cup chopped green onions
Salsa

All you need to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare 1 pie shell according to package directions.

Brown the ground beef and follow the Taco seasoning package directions.

Line the bottom of the pie shell with the cooked Taco meat.

Sprinkle some of the green onions over the meat.

Sprinkle some of the olives over the meat.

Sprinkle some of the chopped tomatoes over the meat.

Spread the sour cream over the toppings and meat.

Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the sour cream.

Sprinkle the rest of the green onions, olives and tomatoes over the cheese.

Top with crushed corn chips.

Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serve with salsa.

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Recipe: Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole


This recipe for a Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole is a little twist on the classic Chicken Cordon Bleu that I adapted from a soft Pillsbury book a number of years ago…. I made only minor changes to the original recipe.

It’s very easy and something the whole family will enjoy. It is absolutely delicious!

Serve this with a salad and you have dinner done!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole Recipe:

All you need:

1 cup chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
2 (12 oz.) jars chicken gravy
8 oz. package Muellers uncooked egg noodles (extra wide kind)
1 ½ cup frozen carrots and peas
1 cup diced cooked ham
1 small can mushrooms or fresh sliced mushrooms
1 ½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon pepper
4 (4 oz.) boneless skinless chicken breast halves
½ teaspoon seasoned salt
4 (1 oz.) slices of Swiss cheese, halved

All you need to do:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine broth, sour cream and gravy. Mix well using a wire whisk.

Stir in uncooked noodles, carrots and peas, ham, paprika and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

Pour the casserole into an ungreased 13x9 baking dish.

Place chicken breast halves over the noodle mixture.

Sprinkle with salt and remaining pepper.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil and continue baking for another 20 minutes or until chicken is fork tender and juices run clear and noodles are tender.

Place 2 cheese slice halves on each breast half.

Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

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How to Determine The Size of Your Casserole Dish

Tip of the Day:

If you aren’t sure what size your casserole dish is and it isn’t marked on the bottom…. Fill it with water and measure the water to determine the size.

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Recipe: Creamy Potato and Sausage Casserole

This potato and sausage casserole recipe is an excellent example of a hearty, family friendly meal that is quick to prepare and is not high in fat and calories. By making a few healthy choices in ingredients, the casserole is not heavy and fat laden.

This is an old recipe I adapted and have in my file from the folks at Pillsbury…. I got it from one of their soft cover books entitled, “Casseroles”. I made only minor changes to it. I’ve used it lots over the years… a quick weeknight supper or a covered dish to a church supper…. it’s so easy.

This recipe is for 2… and is easily doubled or tripled for larger crowds. For 4 servings I use an 8x8 baking dish and for 6, I use a 9x13 baking dish… increase the baking time to about 35-45 minutes… or until the sides of the casserole are bubbly.

I hope you and your family enjoy it!

Creamy Potato and Sausage Casserole Recipe:

All you need:

4 oz. bulk light turkey and pork sausage
1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
1/3 cup milk (you can use low fat or fat-free)
1 (10 ¾ oz.) Campbell’s Condensed 98% fat-free Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 ½ cups frozen Potatoes O’Brien with onions and peppers
2 tablespoons Progresso Plain Bread Crumbs
1 teaspoon butter or margarine, melted

All you need to do:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Spray two 2 to 2 ½ cup individual casseroles with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium skillet over medium high heat, cook the sausage until no longer pink.

Break apart the sausage with the flat end of a spatula to break into smaller pieces.

Drain on paper towels.

Remove skillet from heat.

Wipe out any grease in the skillet.

Return the sausage to the pan.

Add the peas and carrots, milk and soup. Stir well until completely incorporated.

Add the potatoes folding in to completely incorporate.

Divide the mixture between the two individual casseroles.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and margarine. Mix well with a fork.

Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the casseroles.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned.

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How to Quickly Thaw Frozen Vegetables

Tip of the Day:

To quickly thaw frozen vegetables that are called for as ingredients in recipes without partial cooking…. place them in colander or strainer and rinse with warm water until thawed… then drain well.

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Sunday Breakfast Idea Week III


This week’s featured Sunday Breakfast Idea is omelets…. Our recipes will feature omelet ideas, more omelet ideas and even more omelet ideas.

The possibilities are limitless… but we want to get you started thinking about what you may want to try…. Omelets can go from the plain to the exotic… and everything in between.

I've given you a few ideas to get you started... but you can make any combination of ingredients you want.

Choose from the many ingredients available....for example.... chopped onion, peppers, chopped roasted red peppers, all sorts of cheeses, spinach, tomato, mushrooms, pepperoni, snipped chives, sliced black olives... just to name a few.

They’re not only easy… but delicious and there’s got to be a type that even the pickiest eater will like.

We like to make the omelet the main event… serve it with juice and coffee and maybe English Muffins with jam…. Hmmmm…. Sounds so good.

And for those of you trying to eat healthier this year… eggs are full of protein and really have gotten a bad rap in recent years…. But … you can certainly use an egg substitute and have great success… I even used it when I ran out of eggs… Warren never knew….shhhhh… that’ll be our secret….

Enjoy!

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Making Perfect Omelets


Tip of the Day:

The easiest way to make the perfect omelet is to use a small non-stick omelet pan…. I prefer to make my omelet (egg portion) thicker rather than thinner… I find it makes sliding it out of the pan a little easier… and it can hold ingredients easier too.

I use an 8 inch non-stick omelet pan (8 inches rim to rim). I use a little butter flavored cooking spray (for some reason mine will stick if I don’t use it… wonder who names it non-stick anyway?).

I heat the pan over medium high heat. I make 3 egg omelets, by beating the egg with a dash of milk and pouring it into the pan. I then sprinkle shredded cheese on top (if I choose to make this with cheese). I let the egg pancake cook until the top looks set… then I peek under to be sure it isn’t getting too dark… if it is.. lower the heat.

At this point I will add light weight ingredients on one half of the omelet… chopped chives..chopped scallions… fresh mushrooms…peppers…. crumbled feta…. a little spinach…olives… things like that… do not over load the omelet.. as it will be difficult to slide out of the pan.

The picture shows a Ham and Cheese Omelet... I used thinly sliced deli baked ham... and shredded Cheddar-Monterey Jack cheese combo for the cheese.

If you want to add tomatoes… wait until the end.

I then place another pan… a larger sauté pan over the omelet pan so the heat stays in and cooks the top…

When you are ready to take the omelet from the pan… add sliced ham if using (I use deli baked ham sliced thin folded in half. I lay the ham over the side I have any ingredients on.

Then take a strong solid spatula and slip it under the side you have added ingredients to.

If adding tomatoes have them already sliced and within reach.

Holding the pan close to the plate, slip the ingredient side off and on to the plate … keeping the 2nd half still in the pan… Lay the spatula down and place the sliced tomatoes on top of the ingredients…. Then let the 2nd half of the omelet slip off the pan and over on the other half of the omelet….

Perfect every time!

It sounds far harder than it is….

Things to keep in mind…

1. Keep the omelet diameter smaller rather than larger if you are adding ingredients.
2. Add ingredients (except for a little shredded cheese) after the omelet has set somewhat.
3. Add heavy ingredients like tomato at the very end.
4. Have all your ingredients prepped before starting.

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Recipe: Western Omelet


An example of a Western Omelet would be as follows:



Western Omelet Recipe:

All you need:

3 eggs, beaten with dash of milk
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground pepper
Ham, diced
Onions, chopped
Red and green pepper, chopped

All you need to do:

Follow the instructions for making the perfect omelet… add the ingredients on one half of the omelet after bottom is set.

Cook as directed.

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Recipe: Kid Friendly Cream Cheese and Jam Omelet


I know this dish may sound odd… but then again… you’re probably not 7 either….

This is a yummmmmm… take it from a cream cheese and jam lover!

TIPS

I use a 6 inch saute pan... it makes a perfect size omelet for either 1 egg or 2 eggs... perfect for kids!






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Cream Cheese and Jam Omelet Recipe:

All you need:

2 eggs, beaten with dash of milk
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground pepper
Cream cheese (about 1/4 of a brick) cut into small chunks
Favorite Jam (about 1 tablespoon)

All you need to do:

Follow the instructions for making the perfect omelet… add the ingredients on one half of the omelet after bottom is set.

The only change is that...after the top is no longer runny… flip the 2nd half over to cover the other half.

Cover with a sauté pan to keep the heat in.

Cook a few minutes until you can tell the cream cheese has melted.

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Recipe: Three Cheese Omelet



Three Cheese Omelet Recipe:

All you need:

3 eggs, beaten with dash of milk
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground pepper
American cheese
Cheddar Cheese
Monterey Jack cheese

All you need to do:

Follow the instructions for making the perfect omelet… add the ingredients on one half of the omelet after bottom is set.

Cook as directed.

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Recipe: Ham and Asparagus Omelet with Hollandaise Sauce


A Ham and Asparagus Omelet is wonderful... what makes this really special is the Hollandaise Sauce…. See my previous post on Hollandaise Sauces…. I posted a Classic Hollandaise sauce recipe, as well as, a lighter Hollandaise Sauce.

I like to use very thin sliced deli Baked Ham for this… one slice does the trick…just fold it and lay it on the ingredient half (see my perfect omelet instructions)
I always use fresh asparagus… I, personally, don’t care for the canned variety.

Just trim the hard end of the asparagus… lay it in a shallow baking dish…add a little water… cover with waxed paper and nuke in the microwave to steam… depending on the size of the asparagus and the power of the microwave oven… nuke on high for about 5-8 minutes until cooked but still somewhat firm.

Enjoy!

Ham and Asparagus Omelet with Hollandaise Sauce Recipe:

All you need:

3 eggs, beaten with dash of milk
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground pepper
Deli baked ham, sliced very thin
3 fresh asparagus spears, cooked
Classic Hollandaise Sauce or Slimmed Down Hollandaise Sauce
Snipped chives for garnish (optional)

All you need to do:

Follow the instructions for making the perfect omelet

When omelet is set… lay the three asparagus spears on the one half of the omelet… letting the tops peek out of the top of the omelet.

Fold the slice of deli baked ham in half… . lay the ham over the asparagus.

The only change from the standard omelet instructions are....flip the second half of the omelet over the first and slide out of the pan onto a plate.

Drizzle Hollandaise Sauce over the omelet and garnish with snipped chives (if desired) and serve.

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Recipe: Italian Omelet II

This Italian Omelet boasts Portobello mushrooms with prosciutto sliced... and provolone cheese... another terrific combination...

Italian Omelet II Recipe:

All you need:

3 eggs, beaten with dash of milk
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground pepper
Portobello Mushroom sliced (small mushrooms)
Prosciutto slices
provolone cheese slices

All you need to do:

Follow the instructions for making the perfect omelet… add the ingredients on one half of the omelet after bottom is set.

Cook as directed.

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Recipe: Italian Omelet I

Italian Omelets are delicious... a blend of typically "Italian" ingredients... this one combines Portobello mushrooms with roasted red peppers and topped off with mozzarella cheese... totally yummy!

Italian Omelet I Recipe:

All you need:

3 eggs, beaten with dash of milk
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground pepper
Portobello Mushroom sliced (small mushrooms)
Roasted red pepper, chopped
Mozzarella cheese

All you need to do:

Follow the instructions for making the perfect omelet… add the ingredients on one half of the omelet after bottom is set.

Cook as directed.

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Recipe: Mediterranean Omelet

An example of a Mediterranean Omelet would be as follows:

Mediterranean Omelet Recipe:

All you need:

3 eggs, beaten with dash of milk
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground pepper
Sliced black olives
Roasted red pepper, chopped
Crumbled Feta cheese
Cooked spinach

All you need to do:

Follow the instructions for making the perfect omelet… add the ingredients on one half of the omelet after bottom is set.

Cook as directed.

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Recipe: Another Version of Peach Melba by Linda


This recipe is a version of the classic Peach Melba. It’s not radically changed from the original recipe but I did change two things. I use pound cake and I liberally drizzle peach schnapps on my pound cake…. hmmmm sooooooo good.

If you want it non-alcoholic… then liberally drizzle the peach syrup from the can of peaches on the pound cake….

I also used sliced peaches…. It’s easier to put it in the dessert glass….. You can make your pound cake from scratch or buy one… I think you can figure out by now… I bought mine…

In a pinch I have melted Red Raspberry Seedless Jam for the syrup. Just put 2-3 tablespoons of jam in a small measuring cup… lay a piece of waxed paper over the cup to keep it from splattering … and nuke it in the microwave for about a minute until melted.

It’s not rocket science… and I don’t claim to be this tremendously inventive person… but it is a change and I did come up with it… I’m sure many others have done the same.. although I’ve never seen it done this way…. so I can call it Linda’s Peach Melba.

Whatever you call it… it’s good.

Linda's Version of Peach Melba Recipe:

All you need:

Canned sliced peaches (I used peaches in heavy syrup)
Pound cake slices
Raspberry syrup or sauce
Whipped cream

All you need to do:

Use about half a slice of pound cake per serving.

Cut the pound cake slice into strips and then in half.

I like to use Margarita glasses for this… but you can use whatever serving plate or glass you wish.

Put the cut pieces of the pound cake in the bottom of each glass.

Drizzle the cake with the peach schnapps or peach syrup.

Place peach slices on top of the pound cake (you may want to cut each slice in half to make it easier to fit into the glass).

Top the peaches with a rounded scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Drizzle the raspberry syrup on the ice cream.

Top with whipped cream.

Serve immediately.

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Recipe: Individual Peach Melba Trifles

This recipe for Peach Melba Trifle is a combination of several recipes. It combines a good and quick trifle recipe with the Peach Melba recipe… what could be better?… quick, easy and oh soooo good.

If you want this to be non-alcoholic…. I would use some juice instead of the Peach Schnapps…. I personally like the mixed juices… orange, peach, mango would work really well here… or you can use the syrup from the can of peaches.

Try this next time you want to make a dessert for company…

Enjoy!

Individual Peach Melba Trifles Recipe:

All you need:

1 package ladyfingers
Peach Schnapps
½ cup raspberry seedless syrup or all fruit or jam
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix (4 serving size)
1 ½ cups cold milk
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 can peach slices in syrup
Whipped cream
Slivered almonds

All you need to do:

Cut the lady fingers in half and place them in the bottom of dessert glasses…
Margarita or Martini glasses work well.

Drizzle the Peach Schnapps on the lady fingers.

Place 3-4 peach slices on the lady fingers.

Drizzle the raspberry syrup over the peach slices… if you need to substitute preserves or jam… you will need to put it in the microwave and nuke it for about a minute until melted…allow to cool slightly… then drizzle it over the peach slices. Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the vanilla pudding mix with the 1 ½ cups of milk. Whisk until thick.

Fold in the heavy cream until it is evenly incorporated in the pudding.

Put a generous scoop of pudding on the red raspberry syrup.

Top with a little whipped cream.

Sprinkle slivered almonds on top and serve.

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Recipe: Classic Peach Melba


This recipe for classic Peach Melba hardly deserves a separate recipe…. as I pointed out before… it’s a dessert made up of peaches, vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce.

You can easily use canned peaches and buy your vanilla ice cream… the raspberry syrup or sauce can be purchased also… but that can be harder to find… you can melt a few tablespoons of Raspberry Seedless jam or preserves and use that in a pinch.

If you are determined to make everything except the ice cream from scratch… there are a number of recipes out there you can do. Emeril has a good one on his website emerils.com.

Quick Tip

If you don't have canned or frozen peach halves... slices will work just as well.

Personally I go the shortcut route… the dessert can be as easy or as complicated as you want… either way it is delicious!

Classic Peach Melba Recipe:

All you need:

Canned peach halves in syrup (light or heavy, your choice)
Vanilla ice cream
Raspberry syrup or sauce
Whipped cream (optional)
Slice almonds (optional)

All you need to do:

Put your peach half in a glass (Martini glasses work well), cut side up, drop a scoop of vanilla ice cream on it. Drizzle seedless raspberry syrup or sauce on it... add a little whipped cream and sprinkle with sliced almonds (the whipped cream and the almonds are optional).

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If You Don’t Have a Trifle Bowl Make Individual Servings Instead

Tip of the Day:

If you don’t have a trifle bowl or a bowl suitable for serving trifle… don’t let that stop you from making a trifle. Make individual servings instead. I ran into this problem recently, that’s what made me think of this tip.
Trifle is delicious and can be made with so many ingredients… there is no reason not to make it. Use pretty dessert dishes or wine glasses to make individual servings.

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Commentary: Origins of Peach Melba

Peach Melba is a classic dessert that was invented in the early 1890’s by a French chef named Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel in London to honor the Australian soprano, Dame Nellie Melba.

The dessert features sliced peaches, raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream… sometimes served with whipped cream and sliced almonds.

This dessert is a favorite of mine… it combines three things I love… peaches, raspberry and of course …ice cream….

No dessert recipe file is complete without the classic Peach Melba dessert. It just has to be included in our recipes. I also have one I invented and another I found that sounded good… with a few modifications (did you expect anything less?)

Just a reminder… this dessert does not have to kill a diet… you can use frozen non-fat yogurt for the vanilla ice cream… and there are non-fat pound cakes you can purchase in the supermarket…. AND if you want to… there are non-fat whipped creams also….remember… food is what you make it… and in most cases… you can trim fat and calories…

So try them out see what you like…. And most of all enjoy them!

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Commentary: Getting Ready for Valentine’s Day

I have been getting a little flack from Warren who, during our last poll, requested sinful desserts…. our posts have been a little scarce on the sinful dessert front… so this week I am going to try and make up for a little lost time.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to start featuring easy desserts that are delicious and can look spectacular. I particularly wanted to focus on the easy ones… after all…. Valentine’s Day is also for the cook too… and there is no point in slaving over a romantic dinner and dessert…. That would not be so romantic… now would it?

So I am going to try to include more desserts in the coming weeks… look them over… see what ones ring your chimes… and try them… experiment with them… see what works well for you.

I have a suggestion… one I know the spouse, significant other, girlfriend, boyfriend or family will readily agree to… why don’t you try them all out… so by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around you will know exactly which one to make….

Warren has been happily taste testing… he highly recommends the rigorous testing of recipes… quality control, after all.

Happy Tasting!

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Recipe: Potage St. Germain - Fresh Pea Soup I


This is a good version of a Potage St. Germain (Fresh Pea Soup) recipe. As you can see, it is made from chicken stock only… the flavor of the soup is almost totally dependent on the quality of the peas.

Using shelled fresh peas would be best… however, frozen peas make a good soup too. Make sure you thaw them first… if you cook them frozen… the soup will not be as flavorful. If you are using fresh peas, you will need about 5 or 6 pounds (before shelling).

This soup is filling, so I would serve it in small bowls or cups.

Enjoy!

Potage St. Germain - Fresh Pea Soup I Recipe:

All you need:

4 tablespoons butter
6 shallots, finely chopped
6 cups shelled fresh peas or frozen peas, thawed and rinsed
4 cups fat free chicken broth
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
½ cup whipping cream
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Small dollop of sour cream…or Dash of Sherry

All you need to do:

Melt butter in a large pot.

Add the shallots and cook over medium high heat for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. You do not want the shallots to brown… if they begin to… lower the heat.

Add the peas and the broth and season with ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
Cover and simmer over medium high heat for about 15 minutes or until peas are cooked tender but still fairly firm not mushy. Do not over-cook the peas.

Remove pot from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Ladle the peas and a little liquid into a food processor and pulse until smooth. You may have to do this in batches… put the batches into a large measuring cup to hold them until all the peas are out of the pot.

Pour the pea-chicken broth that is still left in the pot in a measuring cup in case you need more of the broth later on to thin the soup.

Place a strainer on top of the empty pot and strain the processed peas, taking a cooking spoon and stirring vigorously to strain the peas. Press them firmly to get all the soup out of the peas… discard the mashed peas left in the strainer.

Return the pot to the stove and cook over low heat to heat the soup through.
Add the whipping cream, stirring to completely incorporate.

Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Serve with a small dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche; or a dash of sherry.

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Recipe: Pea Soup II

This version of a Potage St. Germain or Puree of Fresh Pea Soup is from Charles Virion. It is delicious and uses fresh or frozen peas, as well as, boiled ham.

I enjoy adapting and using many recipes from him and if you like country French cooking, I strongly recommend you invest in one of his cookbooks. This recipe appears in his book entitled “Charles Virion’s French Country Cookbook”. It’s published by Hawthorne Books. My book is probably an old edition, it’s from 1972. I really love the book. You can find it at Amazon.com.

This recipe serves 6 to 8.

Enjoy!

Pea Soup II Recipe

All you need:

4 cups fresh or frozen peas
2 stalks celery, diced
2 small carrots, diced
2 small white onions, diced
1 cup boiling water
3 cups canned chicken consommé
1/3 pound Polish ham, diced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons sweet butter
¾ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup croutons, sautéed in butter (optional)

All you need to do:

Simmer the peas, celery, carrots and onions together in the boiling water until tender, approximately 45 minutes.

Add the consommé and the ham and simmer for 5 minutes.

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Recipe: Split Pea Soup

This is an American version of a pea soup. Where French versions of Pea Soup are creamy, American recipes tend to be thinner with chunks of ham and pea, as well as other vegetables, evident in the soup.

This recipe uses dried split peas, which are dried peas that have been mechanically split so they will cook faster. Some recipes call for peas to be soaked overnight, however, they can also be cooked by being placed in water and brought to a boil and then simmered for 45 minutes to an hour. This recipe uses the later method.

This recipe uses a bouquet garni…. See my previous post about bouquet garni if you are unsure what to do.

I hope you enjoy it!

Split Pea Soup Recipe:

All you need:

1 ½ cups split green peas
1 ham bone with ham still on the bone
2/3 cup coarsely chopped onion
¼ cup chopped carrot
1 potato, diced
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
Bouquet Garni made of 2 sprigs of parsley, 1 clove garlic, 1 bay leaf, 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme and ½ cup chopped celery including leaves
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cans (14 oz) fat free chicken broth

All you need to do:

In a large pot, combine peas and 1 quart water.

Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer covered for about 45 minutes. If too much water evaporates, you can add more water.

Add the ham bone, the bouquet garni and remaining ingredients.

Simmer covered for 1 ½ hours.

The meat will have fallen off the bone during cooking. Chop the meat into small pieces.

Remove any meat still on the bone and chop.

Discard the bone.

Discard the bouquet garni.

Correct the salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 8.

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Commentary: Potage St. Germain – Fresh Pea Soup

This soup is named after a suburb of Paris and recipes for this soup can be found all over, on the net and in cookbooks. Each is slightly different.

When I was growing up my Mother and I would go to a wonderful restaurant called the Magic Pan. They served crepes, salad and a most wonderful soup called Potage St. Germain.

The Magic Pan was a chain, but nonetheless the food was spectacular. They closed all the restaurants suddenly on one day… and gone were the terrific crepes and that soup I absolutely loved. This began my quest to find out how to make this wonderful soup.

I do remember being told by one of the staff that the secret to the pea soup was that it was made with chicken stock instead of the usual ham. I remember, not sure this is correct or not, that it did not have ham in it at all. To date, I have only found one recipe that doesn’t use ham, but it uses water instead of chicken stock… so there began my experimentation.

I have since searched the net and found several places where former employees have listed some of the Magic Pan recipes. I only found one source that claims to have the recipe… which sadly, in my opinion is not quite correct. Another source that is probably correct said that the soup was made up of two commercially made soups mixed… more than likely he is correct.

The up-side of this quest has been that I have found several terrific recipes for pea soup, including a typically American version. So I will share them with you.

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Adding More Stock and Less Cream with a Lower Fat Content

Tip of the Day:

The tip today concerns altering recipes to lower the fat content. The Potage St. Germain or French Pea Soup recipes that I’m publishing today use heavy or whipping cream…. It’s a wonderful flavor… very rich and creamy… I look at it as a trade off…. I don’t eat it often but when I do… I make it this way… however… not everyone feels that way.

You can cut the fat by using light cream and less of it…. thin the soup with some of the reserved pea-chicken broth instead… remember any of the unused reserved pea-chicken broth you have left will freeze well and can be a great addition to gravies and stews… see my previous Tip of the Day about saving liquids from cooked vegetables.

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Recipe: Jalapena Burgers


These Jalapena Burgers are just terrific…. a great variation on the good ole American Burger.

Recently we discovered Jalapena Burgers…. We like spicy food and these are terrific. Warren found the pre-made kind… and that’s what we tried first.. put by now you know me well enough to know… when I try something we like… I just have to try it from scratch… I found a jalapena burger recipe on about.com and adapted it slightly.

They’re simple to make… and again the possibilities are endless… you can add onions for variety (as I have) or just add the jalapena peppers and the suggested seasonings…. make them as hot or mild as you and your family prefer…

Make it a true Mexican Night and serve these with Corn and Green Chili Rice and maybe a plate of nachos…. Margaritas or my Sangria Punch by the pitcher for the adults… it’s a great idea for a get-together or maybe just a great family night…. either way… Enjoy!

You may also want to read my Tip about Jalapena Peppers.

Try these great Margaritas:

Cuervo Frozen Margarita
Classic Margarita
Non-Frozen and Frozen Raspberry Margarita
Non-Frozen and Frozen Peach Margarita
Non-Alcoholic Margarita Punch
Non-Alcoholic Strawberry Margarita

If you decide on making Margaritas... you may want to read my Tip about using flavored syrups in non-alcoholic drinks.


Jalapena Burger Recipe:

All you need:

3 pounds of lean ground beef
1-2 jalapena peppers, seeded and finely chopped
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
Optional – American cheese or Pepper Jack cheese slices

All you need to do:

Preheat grill for high heat.

Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl.
Make 6 half inch thick patties.

Cook for desired doneness… approximately 3-4 minutes a side.

Optional: Place cheese slices on burgers for the 30 seconds or last minute of cooking until cheese is melted.

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Recipe: Corn and Green Chili Rice


This recipe for corn and green chili rice was adapted from an old Pillsbury recipe and is a pleasant change from the old fries or tater tots as a go-together with burgers.

It’s absolutely perfect wth jalapena burgers.

If you want to add a little more heat to the dish... add a dash of cayenne.. be careful though... I used a heavy hand when I put a dash in mine... it was spicy.. Warren likes things hot... I was not thrilled... so now I use a little lighter hand when adding my dash of cayenne.

The recipe calls for Green Giant Mexicorn... Green Giant also has a "Southwest Corn" which has corn, peppers and black beans in it... you can use that instead... or even add your own black beans... experiment with the flavors you like.

It’s also a great substitute for Spanish rice and will go great with Quesadillas… try my Smoked Turkey Quesadillas and this rice recipe… it’s a terrific meal.

It’s a very easy recipe and one that will be sure to please the family.

I hope you enjoy it!

Corn and Green Chili Rice Recipe:

All you need:

1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
1/2 cup cottage cheese
2 (11 oz.) cans Green Giant Mexicorn Whole Kernel Corn, Red and Green Peppers, drained
1 (8 oz.) container sour cream
1 (4.5 oz.) can Chopped Green Chilis
Dash of cayenne (optional)
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
¼ cup chopped green onions (scallions)

All you have to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 2 quart casserole (or an 8x8 glass baking dish) with cooking spray.

Cook rice according to package directions.

In a large bowl, combine cooked rice and all ingredients EXCEPT the Mexican cheese and the chopped green onions.

Mix in ½ cup of the shredded cheese.

Pour into the baking dish.

Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of Mexican cheese and green onions.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until casserole is thoroughly heated and cheese has melted.

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Jalapena Peppers

Tip of the Day:


Bottles or canned jalapena peppers are preserved in a vinegar mixture… they taste slightly differently than fresh ones but they are a good substitute nonetheless.
If you buy fresh ones, there is not a lot of difference between the red and the green ones except the red ones have been left on the vine longer and are a little sweeter (much like the differences between red and green peppers). The red ones are not hotter than the green ones.

If you decide to use fresh jalapena peppers, many people recommend wearing rubber gloves. The oils in jalapena peppers can irritate your skin. Do not touch your face, eyes, nose or mouth after handling jalapena peppers as the oil can burn. If you inadvertently get it in your eye… a cold water wash should handle the situation.

If you are not wearing gloves when handling the jalapenas, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after working with them.

To seed a fresh jalapena… cut them done the center with a paring knife. Then with a small spoon or melon baller, run down the center spooning out the veins and seeds, discarding the veins and seeds.

The seeds are where the ‘heat” is… so if you want it slightly hotter, keep some of the seeds, but I wouldn’t recommend keeping too many.

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