Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Peppermint Bark

This is so easy and looks great on a big Christmas cookie tray.

(1) one box candy canes, unwrapped and crushed coarsely
(2) two 12 oz bags Nestle White Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Nestle Semi Sweet chocolate chips

Line baking sheet with wax paper. Spread crushed candy canes on paper.

Melt white chocolate chips until smooth and pour over candy canes, spreading evenly. Cool completely in refrigerator.

Melt chocolate chips and drizzle over white chocolate. Refrigerate until hard. Break bark into small pieces.

Monday, November 3, 2008


I've been craving chili lately so I made a pot yesterday. I got this recipe from my high school boyfriend's mother. She was the sweetest lady. She told me when she first got married (50-60 something years ago), she didn't know how to cook. So every day, she would go to her friend's upstairs apartment and say, "What are you making for dinner tonight?" The friend would tell her what she was making and Mrs. Homza would write it down and make it for her husband, too. This chili recipe is one of her recipes with a few modifications I've fiddled with since I started making it almost 30 years ago! Upon reading the recipe, you might think it looks boring but everyone who has ever tried it claims it's the best chili ever. (see funny note below)

I serve it with shredded cheese and crushed tortillas on top (or oyster crackers). I also like to make this delicious cornbread with it. I like honey butter for the cornbread (equal parts butter and honey blended together.) This chili has a bit of a bite to it but is not crazy spicy.

1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 large sweet onion, chopped coarsely
1 green pepper, chopped coarsely

2 cans condensed tomato soup
1/2 can water (may need to add more as it simmers)
1 can chopped tomatoes, with liquid
1 can kidney or pinto beans, drained and rinsed (I don't like a lot of beans; feel free to use two cans if you do)
1/4 cup chili powder (yes I do mean 1/4 CUP)
1 t cumin
1 t black pepper
salt to taste (be sure to check whether it needs salt before adding. the condensed soup and beans add a lot of salt to the recipe)

Brown ground beef with onions and peppers. Drain off fat. You may rinse at this point to remove excess fat, if desired (I don't bother.) Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer for 1-2 hours. Taste and add additional spices if necessary. If chili gets too thick, stir in water.

I have tried this recipe in the crockpot and don't care for the results. It thickens up on the stovetop but it gets more liquidy in the crockpot due to the nature of crockpot cooking.

Funny Note: I started making this chili when I was in high school and my family loved it and requested it often. After I got married, I had my brother and his new girlfriend over for drinks and munchies. I made a quick dip that included a bar of cream cheese, a can of chili and shredded pepper jack cheese (bake at 325 for 20 minutes, serve with tortillas). My brother's new girlfriend saw the empty chili can in the trashcan and said, "Ken, THIS is your sister's famous chili that everyone talks about?" LOL.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Apple Cake with Vanilla Caramel Sauce

2 cups chopped, peeled apples
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 t cinnamon
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

1 egg
1/4 oil
1 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour square pan or single layer round cake pan.

Sift dry ingredients over apples and nuts in large bowl. Stir until well coated.

Whisk together egg, oil and vanilla. Gently stir into apple mixture until well mixed. Mixture is very thick - doesn't resemble "typical" cake batter.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Cool slightly and serve with vanilla caramel sauce.

Vanilla Caramel Sauce
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/2 cup cream
1 t vanilla

Melt butter. Whisk in brown sugar and cinnamon; stir until sugar is melted. Whisk in cream and stir until bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Easy Sloppy Joes

This is a favorite at our house and is so easy to make!

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onions (or 2T dehydrated onions)
1 cup barbecue sauce (I use Montgomery Inn brand)
1 T mustard

hamburger buns

Brown ground beef and onions together until cooked. Drain off grease.

Add sauce and mustard and simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on buns.

Best Ever Macaroni & Cheese

This stuff is incredible. You can feel your arteries harden and your thighs widening with every bite. But so worth it!!

Rich Macaroni and Cheese

1 lb penne

6 T butter

6 T flour

4 c milk

1 cup mozzarella

1 c parmesan

3 c cheddar (reserve 1 cup for topping)

½ c Monterey jack

1 c Velveeta

(note: may substitute other kinds of cheese but do use at least half cheddar. I have also used gruyere, havarti, swiss, etc.)

2 t Worcestershire

2 t mustard

2 t hot sauce

Grease 4 quart casserole. Cook penne. Melt butter; whisk in flour. Add milk and cook, stirring until thickened. Sir in cheeses; add Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and mustard. Mix pasta with sauce. Top with remaining cheddar. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

I usually make this in two pans and stick one in the freezer (before baking)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Strawberry Cream Pie

This recipe came from last month's Domino magazin although I made some modifications. I brought it to book club last week and it was a hit. Very flavorful but light. I'll be making it again soon!

Strawberry Cream Pie

2 lb strawberries, reserve 3 for garnish, hull the rest
3 T lemon juice
1 ¼ cup milk
6 T Cornstarch
¾ c. sugar

Graham cracker pie shell (the bigger one)

2 cups whipping cream
2 T confectioner sugar

Puree the strawberries (not the reserved ones!) in a blender or food processor with the lemon juice. Combine cold milk, cornstarch and sugar in saucepan. Whisk until well blended and sugar is dissolved. Stir in pureed strawberries. Cook over med-high heat for 6-7 minutes until bubbly and thick. Pour into pie shell and let cool completely on counter. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Before serving, whip cream with sugar until stiff. Spread over pie and garnish with remaining strawberries (you can slice them or chop them, whatever you feel like.) Be sure to keep refrigerated until serving. It gets soft quickly.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


This is one of my favorite breakfasts - Berries with yogurt and granola. And when the granola is homemade granola, it's THE BEST! My friend gave me the recipe but I think it originally came from Better Homes and Gardens. The ingredients can be modified to suit your tastes.

Homemade Granola

(Better Homes & Gardens 5/92)

2 ½ cups rolled oats

1 cup coconut

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

¼ cup sesame seeds

1/2 cup sliced almonds

¼ cup butter/margarine

¼ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup honey

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 t. cinnamon

½ cup toasted wheat germ

1 cup raisins (or dried cranberries)

Preheat oven to 300.

Add oatmeal, coconut, seeds, nuts to greased roasting pan (I do not grease the pan.)

Bake 20 minutes, stirring several times.

In small sauce pan combine butter, brown sugar, cinnamon & honey until melted.

Add vanilla.

Increase oven temperature to 350

Add wheat germ to oatmeal mixture.

Pour sugar mixture over oatmeal mixture and stir until mixed.

Bake 5 minutes more.

Add raisins, mix and press into pan with spatula.

Bake 5 – 10 minutes.

Remove to wire rack and cool completely. (I pour onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper to cool.)

Nutritional Information for ½ cup serving:

233 calories

11 grams fat

0 mg cholesterol

5 grams protein

32 grams carbohydrate

1 g. fiber

55 mg sodium

RDA 12% iron
20% thiamin

Monday, April 7, 2008

Spinach Citrus Salad

This pretty salad comes from Sandra Lee's Almost Homemade cookbook and food show website.

For Dressing:
1/4 cup reserved citrus juice
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons orange olive oil (recommended: O Olive Oil)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Salt and pepper

9 ounces baby spinach
1 jar (24-ounce) sun fresh citrus salad, drain and liquid reserved
4 ounces goat cheese

In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients for dressing and 1/4 cup reserved citrus liquid. Add spinach and toss. Divide dressed spinach onto chilled salad plates. Divide citrus salad among plates and garnish with crumbled goat cheese.

Soft Ginger Cookies

This is not my recipe but one I found at Allrecipes.com. The picture is also from the website. This might be my favorite cookie. It is soft and chewy and spicy.

Big Soft Ginger Cookies
Submitted by: AMY1028
Rated: 5 out of 5 by 1343 members
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Ready In: 50 Minutes
Yields: 24 servings
"These are just what they say: big, soft, gingerbread cookies. They stay soft, too. My oldest son's favorite."
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup margarine, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons white sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.
3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.


Servings Per Recipe: 24

Amount Per Serving

Calories: 142

  • Total Fat: 6g
  • Cholesterol: 9mg
  • Sodium: 147mg
  • Total Carbs: 20.9g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0.4g
  • Protein: 1.6g

Brunswick Stew

This is from one of those compilation cookbooks with multiple contributors. Specifically, the name of the book is Grand Recipes: a collection of recipes from Friends of the Grand Opera House, published in 1983 to benefit the Grand Opera House in Wilmington, Delaware. It is my most used compilation cookbook - many great recipes in it. I am typing the recipe from memory so it might not read exactly how it is in the cookbook.

Brunswick Stew is a southern dish that has many variations. I believe it originally was made with squirrel but I was fresh out of squirrel this weekend so I used chicken. This stew is very thick and incredibly flavorful. I tried to take a picture but honestly, it's not the most attractive dish in the world.

4 chicken thighs, bone-in
2 stalks celery
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped

2 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 can butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained
1-2 T sugar

Cook chicken, celery and onion until chicken is done. Strain broth and return to pan. Let chicken cool and dice or shred. Meanwhile, cook potatoes in broth until well done. Remove from pan and mash coarsely. Return to pan with shredded chicken, tomatoes, beans, corn and sugar. Cook for several hours. Stew will be very thick. Season with salt and pepper as necessary and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley before serving.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Pork Chops with Mushroom Wine Sauce

4 Pork Chops (boneless or bone-in)
4 T dijon or grainy mustard
salt and pepper
1-2 T. olive oil
apple juice or chicken broth

2 T butter
2 T flour
salt / pepper
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 cup white wine or chicken broth

Season flour with salt and pepper. Spread pork chops on both sides with mustard and dredge in flour. Brown on each side in hot olive oil. Lower heat and pour in enough juice or broth to coat bottom of pan. Cover and cook for 15-25 minutes (depending on thickness) or until pork chops are cooked through. Remove pork chops to plate and keep warm. Strain off any remaining liquid but reserve it.

Melt butter in pan. Saute mushrooms for 5-10 minutes until cooked through. Stir in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes to brown the flour. Slowly whisk in the wine or broth (I prefer a combo of both) and any remaining liquid from the pork chops, stirring until bubbly and thick.

Top pork chops with mushroom sauce.

Blueberry Bread Pudding

Different fruits can be substituted for the blueberries (peaches, apples, ) or you can omit the fruit and use cinnamon raisin bread.

2 1/2 cups cubed bread
1 cup blueberries

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice or cinnamon

Melt butter in 9" baking dish. Place bread and berries in dish.

Whisk together cream, milk, eggs and vanilla. Whisk in brown sugar and spices until brown sugar is completely dissolved.

Pour custard mixture over bread. Let sit for 30 minutes so the custard can be absorbed in tothe bread. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Can be topped with whipped cream, creme anglaise, or a little caramel sauce, if desired.

Potato Tart

A friend of mine used to run an au pair business and many of her au pairs came from France. One of the au pair's sisters came to visit for a few weeks and I hosted her. She was an outstanding cook but my favorite thing she made was a simple potato tart. I don't know if it had a name but it was simply potatoes, onions and butter and I could have eaten it every day. Here is my adaptation and a before and after photo. YUM!! (And sooooo not low-fat.)

5 potatoes, sliced very thin
one onion, sliced very thin
1/2 cup butter, melted
shredded swiss or gruyere cheese

Brush baking dish with butter. Start with a layer of potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with onions and cheese and drizzle butter over top. Repeat until pan is full. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through yet crusty.

Garlic is terrific in this dish, too. I didn't have any but I used garlic salt.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Super Smoothie

I can't say enough about this great smoothie. The taste is outstanding and it is so good for you! You can change the flavor by changing the choice of fruit and flavor of yogurt. You can also vary the juice flavor. I think it is plenty sweet enough but you can add a little honey or splenda if you like it sweeter. Protein powder may also be added if needed.

1 frozen banana
1 cup frozen berries or other fruit
1 cup yogurt, any flavor
1 cup OJ
1 cup milk

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Makes two servings

I calculated the nutritional information based on one serving if made with skim milk and fat free yogurt:
175 calories
.375 g fat
3.4 g fiber
2.8 WW points

It also has approx. 25% of the daily calcium requirement from the milk and yogurt.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Pesce Piccata

While visiting with my parents, we stopped at a fish market and picked up some Rock Shrimp for an appetizer (simply broiled 'em and dipped in butter) and some Grouper. My dad likes everything fried but I don't so I threw together a dish that I thought we would both like (and my mom, too, of course.) It turned out very good, if I do say so myself! My dad even went back for seconds.

1 lb grouper, sliced into 1/2" pieces
flour mixed with seasoning (we used Paula Deen's Silly Salt and some black pepper)
olive oil and butter to cover bottom of frying pan

juice of 1/2 lemon
about 1 cup white wine

fresh grated parmesan or peccorino romano
hot pasta (angel hair would have been perfect but we only had penne)

Heat oil and butter in pan. Dip grouper pieces into seasoned flour and quickly sear on both sides in hot oil/butter mixture. Lower heat and cook for a few more minutes. It doesn't take long! Add lemon juice, white wine and capers to pan and turn heat back up. Reduce sauce by about half.

Serve immediately over hot pasta and sprinkle with fresh parmesan. Fresh parsley would have been a nice finish but my mom and I both forgot she had some growing in a pot on her patio until after we were done eating! Mushrooms would be a nice addition to this dish but we didn't have any.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Potato Soup

This soup should really be called Cheesey Potato Vegetable Soup because there is a whole lot more than potatoes going on here! This is one of my vegetarian daughter's favorite soups.

Potato Soup

1-2 T oil
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
5-6 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup shredded cabbage (i.e. cole slaw mix)
2-3 cans chicken broth
salt and pepper
1-2 cups milk
4 oz Velveeta or American cheese, cubed or torn into small pieces

Saute onions and celery in oil until softened. Add carrots, potatoes and cabbage and pour in chicken broth until veggies are just covered. Season with salt and pepper. Go light on the salt as the cheese you add later will add additional salt.

Cook for 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Remove about one cup of potatoes and mash with a potato masher. Return to soup. Add milk and cheese. Stir until cheese melts but do not let mixture boil. Taste and add more salt or pepper, if desired.

I'm serving it tonight with toasted honey oat baguette slices.

Italian Pineapple Cream Cake

One of my coworkers has a birthday this week so I decided to bake him a cake rather than a traditional bakery purchase. I am making one of my favorite cake recipes. It's quick because it starts with a cake mix but the topping makes it very special. I tend to overindulge when I make this one - although the picture may not appear that appetizing, I assure you.... this cake is delicious!!

Italian Pineapple Cream Cake
  • One white cake mix, prepared as directed on box
  • 2/3 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups milk
  • one small package instant vanilla pudding (original recipe called for pineapple cream pudding but I've never found that in the grocery store)
  • 16 oz can crushed pineapple, well drained
Bake cake in greased/floured 13 x 9 pan as directed on box. Remove from pan, set on cooling rack and poke holes with wooden spoon handle.

Mix together sweetened condensed milk and melted butter and pour over warm cake. Let set until cool.

Meanwhile, mix together cream cheese, milk and pudding mix. Stir in pineapple. Top cake with mixture.

Refrigerate before serving.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

French Dip Sandwiches (a two-fer recipe)

This beef usually ends up being two meals for us.

French Dip Sandwiches (crockpot)

1 chuck roast or round roast
1-2 cans Campbell's french onion soup
1-2 cans beef broth, low sodium
black pepper

1-2 skinny baguettes (I like the "you bake" kind from Kroger)
swiss or provolone cheese slices

Place beef, soups and pepper in crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. Remove beef from broth and slice or shred. (Note, I don't add salt when using canned soups. For this recipe, I wait until after it's cooked and then if it needs salt, I add it then.) Add beef back to broth.

Meanwhile, slice baguette(s) lengthwise and cut into sandwich size pieces. Top each piece with cheese. And bake for a few minutes at 400 until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top with beef. Serve with a bowl of au jus from the crockpot for dipping.

Beef and Noodles

Remaining beef and au jus
a bag of frozen Rheames noodles

Reheat beef in broth. Cook noodles. Top noodles with beef and enjoy.

Or you can turn it into a beefy noodle soup by adding another can of broth and some cooked veggies.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Beef Barley Vegetable Soup (crockpot)

This soup is one of our family favorites. It tastes great and it's so easy. It only takes me five minutes to put it together before I leave for work in the morning. I usually throw the ingredients for a loaf of bread in the bread machine at the same time and set the timer so when I get home from work, I walk into a house that smells of fresh baked bread and soup.

Beef Barley Vegetable Soup

1/2 lb beef cubes, trimmed of fat and cut in 1/2" pieces
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup chopped cabbage (I use the bagged coleslaw)
1 can chopped tomatoes, don't drain
2 15 oz can beef broth
1 can V-8 juice
1/4 cup barley
2 bay leaves
black pepper

Mix together all ingredients in crockpot. Cook on low for 8 hours.