Snappy Apple Dip

I got this recipe from a pal here in Reno. It's staggeringly simple - ready in a snap - and nothing short of delicious.

8 oz. cream cheese (or neufchatel)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chocolate toffee bits (as in Heath), found in the chocolate chips isle

Blend cream cheese and brown sugar together until well combined. Stir in toffee bits. Serve with fresh apple slices.

In a pinch you can use mini chocolate chips in place of the toffee.


No-Fear Pie Crust

This recipe comes from Cook's Country magazine and is fabulous. It was developed as a crust that can be pressed into the pie plate, but it also works well when it's rolled as well.

Makes one 9-inch pie shell (double recipe to make bottom and top)

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
2 ounces cream cheese, softened but still cool.

Lightly coat 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Whisk flour, sugar, and salt together in bowl.

With electric mixer at medium-high speed, beat butter and cream cheese in large bowl, stopping once or twice to scrape down beater and sides of bowl, until completely homogeneous, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture and combine on medium-low until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 20 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat until dough begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds. Reserve 3 tablespoons of dough. Turn onto lightly floured surface, gather into ball, and flatten into 6-inch disk. Transfer disk to greased pie plate.

Press dough evenly over bottom of pie plate toward sides, using heel of your hand. Hold plate up to light to ensure that dough is evenly distributed. With your fingertips, continue to work dough over bottom of plate and up sides until evenly distributed.

On floured surface, roll reserved dough into 12 inch rope. Divide into three pieces, roll each piece into 8 inch rope and form fluted edge around rim of pie plate. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least one hour.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly prick bottom of crust with fork. bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack. (If large bubbles form, wait until crust is fully baked, then gently press on bubbles with kitchen towel. Bubbles will settle as crust cools.)


Homemade Applesauce

perfect snack during the apple-rich fall

1 lb. apples (diced small for easy mashing)
1.5 Tb. sugar
a dash of cinnamon
1/4 cup water

Stir ingredients together and microwave, covered, for 8 minutes (if apples are mushy) or 10 minutes (if apples are firm). Remove from microwave and mash.


Easy Peasy Lasagna

Need something quick, but tired of spaghetti? Try this recipe out.

6 lasagna noodles
2.5 - 3 cups marinara sauce (~24 oz. jar)
1 16 oz. can of diced tomatoes (optional)
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 - 3 cups fresh spinach (or 1 package frozen spinach)
1 15 oz. container of ricotta cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 tsp. olive oil

1. Boil lasagna noodles according to directions.
2. Warm fresh (or frozen) spinach in a frying pan with a teaspoon of olive oil until wilted (or warmed throughout). Mix spinach with marinara sauce (and diced tomatoes if using them).
3. Mix ricotta, parmesan, 1.5 cups mozarella, and salt and pepper together.
4. In an 8x8 baking dish, begin to layer. Place a heaping spoonful of sauce on the bottom, then layer with noodles, half of the cheese mixture, and ~1/2 cup sauce. Layer again: noodles, the rest of the cheese mixture, ~1/2 cup sauce. Last layer will be noodles, rest of sauce, and .5 cups mozzarella cheese.
5. Put in oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. You could also put this in the toaster oven at the same temp and time for excellent results.


Simplest, Quickest Doughnuts Ever

I am certainly not the first one to think of this - we had these for breakfast on our YW High Adventure and they were such a big hit. To be honest, I was more than just pleasantly surprised. They are unexpectedly delicious and so incredibly easy! I've declared them a conference weekend tradition for our family.
Makes 8 doughnuts.

1 cylinder large buttermilk biscuits (store brand works just as well as Pillsbury)
1 1/2 cups canola oil, for frying
glazes (see below)

1. Prepare all glazes first.
2. Open biscuits and punch out the hole in the middle of each biscuit (they usually come pre-cut).
3. Heat oil in a deep skillet or shallow sauce pan to medium. Fry doughnuts and holes in oil until golden brown, flipping over with a fork when first side is done. Remove from oil with tongs and place on a cookie sheet.
4. Spoon glaze onto doughnuts (or shake in bags of sugar) while they are still hot. Serve soon and enjoy! Keep leftovers out - containers or bags make them a bit too chewy. Eat the same day (day-old doughnuts really emphasize the old).

Glaze suggestions:
Traditional (vanilla)
Powdered sugar
Cinnamon & sugar

Stir 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and 1 milk together in a small bowl. Replace vanilla with maple for maple glaze. Add 2 Tbsp cocoa powder for chocolate (or just use Nutella if you have some on hand). Shake doughnuts in a bag with 1/2 cup powdered sugar for powdered or 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon for cinnamon & sugar. Add sprinkles if you must.


Homemade fish sticks

so much better and healthier than the frozen stuff!

2 tilapia filets
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
~ 1/4 cup olive oil
tartar sauce (see recipe below)

1. Cut filets into 1.5 inch sticks.
2. Mix bread crumbs, paprika, salt and pepper together.
3. Put olive oil in a bowl. Dip fish into olive oil and then into bread crumb mixture.
4. Bake in oven (or toaster oven) at 400 degrees for about 10-12 minutes.

Tartar Sauce

1/2 cup mayo
1 Tb sweet (or dill) relish OR chopped up pickles
1 Tb minced onion
2 Tb lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together and enjoy. Remember to refridgerate.


Rosemary Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

This is a tasty side to your upcoming fall dishes.

6 potatoes (peeled and chopped)
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 Tbs. fresh rosemary (finely chopped)
1 8oz. container sour cream
salt and pepper

1. Bring water (and a dash of salt) to boil in medium saucepan. Add potatoes and boil for 10 minutes.
2. Drain potatoes and set aside. In same saucepan heat olive oil, then add salt, pepper, and rosemary and let simmer stirring constantly for 30-60 seconds. Add rosmary mixture and sour cream to potatoes and mash. Add salt and pepper to taste.

*disclaimer: if you are not a fan of strong rosemary flavor, reduce fresh rosemary to 2 teaspoons.


Coconut Layer Cake

Delicious. What more can I say?

1 3/4 cups cake flour
4 large eggs, room temp
1/2 cup milk, room temp
2 tsp coconut extract
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 sticks butter, softened but still cool, cut into 16 pieces
1 recipe coconut frosting (below)
unsweetened, shaved coconut

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350. Generously grease two 8- or 9-inch round pans and line with parchment or wax paper circles. Grease paper circles and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.

2. Beat the eggs, milk, and coconut extract with a fork in a bowl and set aside. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a mixer and beat for 30 seconds to combine. With the mixer running on low speed, add the butter one piece at a time; mix until the butter and flour begin to clump together and look sandy and pebbly with some pieces the size of peas after all the butter is added.

3. With the mixer still at the lowest speed, add approximately one cup of the egg mixture then increase the speed to medium high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the remaining egg mixture in a slow, steady stream. Stop mixer, scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl. Beat again a medium high until thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds.

4. Divide batter equally between two pans; spread to the side of the pans and smooth with a rubber spatula. Bake until cake tops are light gold and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, 22-25 minutes (add ~5 minutes for 8-inch rounds). Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter of the pan to loosen. Invert cakes on to a large plate, peel of the paper and reinvert to cooling rack. Cool completely before icing.

Coconut Frosting
1/3 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
pinch salt
3 Tbsp coconut milk
1/2 tsp coconut extract

Beat butter in a small bowl until light a fluffy. Add 1 cup powdered sugar, salt, coconut extract and 1 Tbsp coconut milk. Mix slowly as the sugar incorporates then faster as is becomes smooth. Add remaining sugar and coconut milk and repeat mixing. Beat until smooth and creamy. Add more sugar or more milk to achieve desired consistency (but no more than 1/4 sugar or 1 tsp milk). Top with unsweetened, shaved coconut.

This recipe is a variation of Yellow Layer Cake. Just replace coconut extract with vanilla to make the yellow cake and frost with any frosting you like!

Spring Rolls

14 oz (one package) extra firm tofu
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, shredded
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1/2 package rice vermicelli (very thin rice noodles)
10-15 spring roll skins (rice paper)
fresh cilantro
2-3 carrots, peeled and shredded
ripe avocado, thinly sliced
1 cup bean sprouts or very thinly sliced cabbage
* * * * * * *
Spring Roll (inside) Sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
juice of half a lime
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, shredded
1-2 tablespoons water

1. Prepare tofu: drain and dry with a clean kitchen towel to get most of the moisture out. Cut in to half-inch 'cube-sticks'. Prepare 1/4 cup water + 1 tablespoon soy sauce + 1 teaspoon ginger + 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, stir. Place tofu in dry pan and cook off more moisture until edges turn a light golden color. Give 1/2 cup prepared soy sauce mixture a quick stir and pour over tofu and sauté until all the water is evaporated. Add a tablespoon of sesame oil, turn heat up to medium high and sauté until thoroughly browned (about 10 more minutes). Set aside in a small bowl. Meanwhile, prepare sauce for inside the spring rolls by stirring all ingredients together in a small bowl or cup.

2. Prepare rice vermicelli: bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, adding noodles and boiling for 3-5 minutes until al dente. Drain and set aside.

3. Assemble spring rolls: Fill a pie pan or skillet with warm water, and then gently dip one rice paper wrapper in the water for 3-5 seconds to soften. (Be careful not to over-soak the wrappers!) Remove, and lay on a flat surface or large plate. In a horizontal row across the top-center of the wrapper, first place a few cilantro leaves, then a finger-full of carrots, one avocado slice, one slice of tofu, a finger-full of cabbage and finally a finger-full of rice noodles, leaving at least 2″ space on the right/left sides. Fold the top right and left sides of the wrapper tightly over the mixture, making sure the two side touch in the middle over the filling. Then fold over the top side (taking care to pack in the filling so that it’s nice and snug!), and then finally roll the pack over the remaining bottom side. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Dipping sauces
Peanut Sauce
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
juice of half a lime
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, shredded
1+ tablespoon water, to achieve desired consistency

Soy Sauce
Use leftover inside sauce, adding 1-2 teaspoons additional soy sauce

Sweet Chili Sauce
Found in the Asian food isle

main photo and some instructions borrowed from this site.


England's famous summer cake

This recipe was found in relish magazine and made for a family dinner. It was enjoyed by both young and old and everyone wanted seconds. Too bad the recipe serves 8 (or 15+ as the family dinner required).

8 cups berries (blue-, straw-, rasp-, black-berries)
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tb vanilla
1 (18 oz) brioche loaf (or any dense sweat bread, we used cinnamon swirl)

1. Mix 6 cups berries with water and sugar in large sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring gently until berries soften and sugar dissolves, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Stir in 1.5 cups berries. Strain berry mix reserving all juice. Line a 2-quart serving bowl with plastic wrap.
3. Cut a piece of bread to fit the bottom of the bowl. Dip in juice and place at bottom of bowl. Cut remaining bread into wedges (or if your bread is sliced, just use the slices), dip in juice one at a time.
4. Place 3/4 of juice soaked bread against the sides of the bowl, pressing to remove any gaps. Spoon berries into the center. Top with remaining bread.
5. Cover with plastic wrap. Press down with hands until juices rise to the top (we did not do this and everything turned out just fine). Place plate on top and set weights on the plate (2 cans of soup work well). Refrigerate at least 8 hours.
6. To serve, remove weights, plate and top plastic wrap. Place a serving plate on top of bowl and quickly turn bowl over, shaking gently so the the pudding releases from the bowl. Remove plastic wrap. Cute into wedges and serve with remaining berries and whipped cream (we used vanilla ice cream). Enjoy!


Spicy Chocolate Cookies

I saw this recipe in Real Simple several years ago but never made them. I'm glad I finally did because they are quick, simple, unique, and so amazingly delicious.

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

⅛ to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)

1 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix thoroughly with a whisk and set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the brown sugar and beat until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat on high until fluffy, about 1 minute. Gradually mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture until the butter is just incorporated. The dough will be crumbly.
2. Turn the dough out onto wax paper. Use the paper (and fingers) to shape and roll the dough into a compact cylinder about 10 inches long and 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. Wrap tightly, folding or twisting the ends to seal. Chill for at least 45 minutes in the refrigerator or freeze (for up to 3 months) until needed.
3. Before baking, preheat oven to 375°. Unwrap the dough (if frozen, let thaw for 5 minutes). On a cutting board, cut it into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Place the slices about 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool until the cookies are firm enough to be moved, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Variation: add 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips after flour and butter mixtures are incorporated.


Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Another great recipe for those abundant summer zukes. And perfect for the visiting teachee. ha ha!

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup bakers cocoa
1 cup oil
2 cups grated zucchini (one large or three small)*
3 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts (optional)

*you don't need to squeeze any of the water out of the zucchini like some recipes call for.

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans. 

2. Whisk flour, soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugars, cocoa, oil, and vanilla and mix well. Stir in grated zucchini with a wooden spoon or spatula. Stir dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Fold in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into pans.

4. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let sit for 10 minutes in pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool.


English Tea Scones

Surprisingly easy and quick, these scones are a great alternative for breakfast or dessert. And of course there is always afternoon tea. So proper.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp cold butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup fruit*
1 cup heavy cream

any berry (fresh or frozen, not thawed).
blueberry lemon: add 1 tsp lemon zest with the butter + blueberries.
cranberry orange: add 1 tsp orange zest with the butter + 3/4 cup dried cranberries.
chocolate cherry: 2/3 cup dried cherries, chopped up + 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (my fave).
white chocolate raspberry: 1/3 cup white chocolate chips + raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Place flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together. Add the butter cubes individually and quickly cut in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with a few slightly larger butter lumps. Add the fruit and quickly mix in.
2. Stir in the heavy cream with a rubber spatula until the dough begins to form. Transfer the dough and all the dry flour bits to the counter top and knead the dough just until it comes together anto a rough, slightly sticky ball.
3. Press dough out into a rectangle 3/4" thick and about 12" x 5". Cut down the middle then cut each half into seven wedges (see fig. 1).
4. Bake 12- 15 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. serve warm or room temperature with lemon curd, fruit preserves and whipped cream.


Homemade Stovetop Mac n' Cheese

Mac n' cheese from a box is pretty tasty and very easy. But let's face it, it's not real food. Could it be possible to make your own mac n' cheese from scratch in the same time it takes to make it from the box? The answer is a big, cheesy YES! You will spend the entire cooking time at the stove but when you're through, you'll have real mac n' cheese. Well worth it!

1 lb pasta (macaroni, shells, bow ties, etc.)
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 cups extra sharp cheddar, shredded
salt and pepper to taste

1. Prepare by setting out all ingredients and shredding cheddar first (it's good to have the cheese closer to room temp, than fridge temp). Get water boiling in a large pot for pasta.
2. Melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until completely incorporated. Cook flour in butter for a couple minutes (it should bubble slightly), whisking constantly. Slowly add milk in a steady stream, whisking constantly to create a smooth mixture. Let the roux cook - whisking frequently - for five or so minutes until it begins to thicken. Remove from heat.
3. Add shredded cheese to the roux by the finger-full and whisk until melted. Continue until all the cheese is melted into the roux, making your cheese sauce. If needs be, return sauce to low heat to completely melt the cheese. Note: don't let the sauce get too hot... that will make the cheese turn into a chewy glob.
4. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions, drain and return to large pot. Pour cheese sauce over pasta and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Makes great leftovers!


Carrot Butter

this is a recipe i sort of finagled from Sage's Cafe. it's delicious. spread it on a sandwich or toast, or serve with chips, etc.

4-5 medium carrots, peeled
1/3 cup macadamia nuts
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt

1. chop the carrots into quarter-inch cubes. place in a pot with plenty of water and boil for 25 minutes. drain.
2. process all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. keep refrigerated in an air tight container.



This is the Better Homes & Gardens recipe with a few tweaks (typical Kelly style) making them even better.

1 3/4 cups flour (half all-purpose and half whole wheat is really good)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil or melted butter, cooled
2 cups milk

1. Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl, set aside. In another bowl, beat the eggs and oil together until well combined. Add the milk and mix together. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until moistened and combined (batter should be lumpy).

2. Cook in lightly greased waffle iron and top with your favorite deliciousness.


Rhubarb Lemonade

... is very good, but might not be for everyone. Responses have varied from "hot dam; hit me again!" to "I never asked you for that recipe, Charlie Brown". Either way, there's just one way to find out, and it's not that tricky to make.

1 quart diced rhubarb
1 quart water
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice/concentrate
dice the rhubarb. (if you like, here's where you can set aside a few pieces of crisp rhubarb to float in the drink once it's made.) put the rest of the diced rhubarb and water in a big pot & bring to a boil. cut/reduce heat, cover, and simmer ~10 minutes until very tender.
strain off pretty pink juice. I run it all once through a colander, and then a 2nd time through cotton cheesecloth. put the colander in a big pot or bowl. pour in the rhubarb mixture. you can use a big spoon to mash it until the juice goes through the cheesecloth into the bowl. add sugar & lemon juice, stirring until dissolved. then add a little more water/ice to taste. cool and chill before serving.
a real-nice refreshing summer drink. as with most things, I usually like to double the batch.
posted by English

Greek Barley Salad

this delicious and unique side dish is good cold or at room temperature. it's perfect for potluck parties or dinner at home.

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup pearl barley
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
3 Roma tomatoes, cut into small pieces*
1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
2 Tbsp finely diced red onion
2 scallions, finely chopped including some of the green parts
1/3 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
fresh ground black pepper to taste

*tomatoes can be replaced by a red bell pepper (especially in winter months when good tomatoes are scarce)

1. combine water, barley and salt in a sauce pan. cover and bring to a boil over high heat. turn heat down to medium-low and simmer about 40 minutes until tender.
2. meanwhile prepare the remaining ingredients. whisk the lemon juice, olive oil and oregano together in a bowl.
3. transfer cooked barley into a large bowl and cool by stirring or refrigerating. pour lemon mixture over the cooled barley and toss to coat. add the tomatoes, olives, red onion, scallions, parsley and feta and toss again to combine. season with pepper and serve.

keep covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. toss again before serving.


Coconut Macaroons

truly tasty macaroons are few and far between. this recipe will not disappoint. using honey in place of granulated sugar intensifies the flavors and enhances the texture.

4 egg whites
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup flour
3 cups finely shredded* coconut (unsweetened is best)

*process shredded coconut in blender one cup at a time to get a finely shredded coconut.

1. preheat oven to 325°. beat egg whites until white and very foamy. beat in salt, honey, vanilla and flour until well combined. gently stir in coconut with a rubber spatula until thoroughly combined.
2. drop tablespoons full of batter onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. tuck/press any straggling batter into the cookie to make a nice round cookie. bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown, cool on a wire rack. makes ~ three dozen.

for a delightful variation (as seen above), dip cooled macaroons half way into melted chocolate (chocolate chips melted slowly over hot - but not boiling water). place on wax paper-lined cookie sheet and let cool for 15 minutes in the refrigerator.


Chocolate Frosting

You cannot lose with this frosting. It was in ms Living's April 2010 issue.

2 1/4 cup confectioners' (powdered) sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
pinch teaspoon salt
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted (using a double boiler) and cooled
3/4 cups sour cream

Mix together confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. In another bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter. Mix sugar mixture into cream mixture. Mix in melted and cooled chocolate. Then mix in sour cream. (I did this without an electric mixer and it worked just fine.)

The recipe for the frosting on the web is here (it's doubled). Recipe for the cake pictured is on the web here (it's doubled and is a little different than the magazine, instead use 3/4 cup warm water and 3 Tablespoons oil).


Asian Spinach Teriyaki Salad

This recipe serves 2 when the salad is the meal. It'd serve 6 as a side sal.

8 oz. Bowtie pasta, cooked
1 bag of fresh baby Spinach
1/2 cup sliced cashews or peanuts or almonds
2 Roma (plum) tomatoes
2 scallions, chopped

Other optional ingredients:
1 cooked and cut (or shredded) chicken breast
1 sm can mandarin oranges
10 sliced strawberries
1 sliced red bell pepper

1/2 Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/3 C. Teriyaki Sauce
2 Tbs. honey or sugar
1/4 tsp. ginger

1. Cook pasta according to directions. While pasta is cooking, mix dressing.
2. When pasta is done, rinse with cold water. Then allow pasta to marinate in dressing for 1 hour or more.
3. Cut and chop other ingredients as required.
4. Toss all ingredients together and enjoy.


Black Bean Burgers

a tasty American take on falafel and a super replacement for vegetarians, these burgers are sure to please.

2 15-oz cans black beans (rinsed and drained well, divided)
2 Tbsp mayo
1/3+ cup plain dry bread crumbs
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
2 Tbsp salsa (drain as much juice out as possible)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
2-4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
4-5 hamburger buns (or sandwich thins), toasted

1. Combine 1 can of beans, mayo, bread crumbs, baking powder, spices and salsa in a food processor or blender and pulse into a coarse puree (if using a blender, stir ingredients with a spoon before blending). Transfer to a bowl, stir in cilantro and remaining can of beans. Stir in up to 2 Tbsp more bread crumbs and 2-4 Tbsp flour to make a mixture that is no longer sticky and very easy to handle.
2. Form into 4 or so patties and place on a cookie sheet. Refrigerate for 45+ minutes (very important or patties with fall apart while cooking).
3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. cook burgers until outsides are crisp and browned, 5-7 minutes total. Serve on toasted buns with fresh lettuce, onion, tomato, mustard, ketchup, etc.

this recipe is from Jen (Schofield Johnson) and i've tweaked it just a bit to be a little closer to falafel. it can also be made with pinto beans.


Devil's Food Cake

a simple, velvety chocolate cake... the perfect dessert (pictured here with peppermint frosting).

4 oz unsweetened baker's chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup baker's cocoa (Dutch-processed if possible)
1 1/4 cup boiling water
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plain cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened but still cool
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temp
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla

1. preheat oven to 350° with rack in the middle position. meanwhile, grease two 9-inch round cake cans and line the bottom of each pan with waxed or parchment paper.
2. whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, set aside. combine the chocolate and cocoa in a medium-small bowl; pour boiling water over and whisk until smooth, set aside.
3. beat butter in a medium bowl at medium-high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. add the brown sugar and beat at hight speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. add eggs one at a time, beating until combined after each one. add sour cream (or yogurt) and vanilla and beat until combined.
4. on low speed, add a third of the flour mixture, then half of the chocolate mixture. then another third of the flour, the other half of the chocolate a finally the last third of the flour just until combined each time. do not over beat. scrape sides and bottom of bowl again and stir gently to thoroughly combine.
5. divide batter evenly into pans and bake for 20-23 minutes until inserted toothpick comes out clean. cool cakes in pans for 15 minutes. run a knife around the edge of each pan and invert cake onto a plate. peel off the paper and re-invert onto a wire rack. cool completely. frost with chocolate, vanilla, peppermint, or Nutella* frosting.

1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
pinch salt
2 Tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla or 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

beat butter in a small bowl until light a fluffy. add 1 cup powdered sugar, salt, vanilla and 1 Tbsp milk. mix slowly as the sugar incorporates then faster as is becomes smooth. add remaining sugar and milk and repeat mixing. beat until smooth and creamy. add more sugar or more milk to achieve desired consistency (but no more than 1/4 sugar or 1 tsp milk).

* to make Nutella frosting, follow standard frosting recipe adding 1/4 cup Nutella after first addition, and mixing of sugar and milk. continue with the rest of the sugar and milk.

Savory German Pancake

a variation on the standard breakfast pancake, this savory version can be served for any meal.

3 Tbsp butter
6 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
3/4 tsp garlic salt
black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp onion, finely diced
3 Tbsp spinach, finely chopped
3 Tbsp shredded cheese (from cheddar to asiago)
1 Tbsp green chiles or salsa (optional)
2 Tbsp ham, chopped into small pieces (optional)

1. preheat to 400°. place butter in a 9" x 13" (glass is best but not necessary) pan. place in the oven until melted, 3-5 minutes (do not burn).
2. in a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until combined. add flour, milk, salt and pepper. beat mixture until smooth. stir in onion, spinach, cheese, etc. with a rubber spatula until combined. immediately pour batter into pan.
3. bake 22-25 minutes until puffed and well browned. serve with fresh salsa or ketchup.

Al Pastor Chicken Tacos

2-4 chicken breasts
1/4 - 1/3 cup olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp chili powder
1-2 Tbsp cumin
1-2 tsp salt
1-2 Tbsp hot sauce (like Valentina or Cholula)
2-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
16-14 oz pineapple rings (or fresh pineapple - even better)
1 large onion, cut into 12 wedges (in half, then each half into sixths)
juice of one lime
small corn tortillas
sliced avocado, tomato, onion and cilantro (pico de gallo), and limes

1. combine chicken breasts, olive oil, garlic, spices, hot sauce, vinegar and pineapple juice in a crock pot and toss a few times. add water to almost cover chicken. cook 4 hours on high, six on low.
2. after three hours of cooking, shred chicken in the pot using two forks. add pineapple rings and onion wedges and stir together. cook for remaining time, stirring a couple more times. squeeze and stir in lime juice just before serving.
3. serve on warm corn tortillas (wrap stack of tortillas in foil and heat in 350 oven for ten or so minutes) with avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, limes, etc.

Red Soup

a family recipe passed down from G'ma Lillis Remington Brooks. tangy and spicy - perfect for a blustery, stormy day.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, copped
2 carrots, chopped
1 large (46 oz) can vegetable juice
2 cups broth
2 medium potatoes, chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
2-3 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (or more to taste)
black pepper to taste (but at least 1 tsp)
browned and seasoned - with garlic salt - ground beef (optional)

1. sauté garlic, onion and carrots in oil on medium heat for 7-10 minutes until onions are tender.
2. add vegetable juice, broth, potatoes, peas, corn, any other veggies you like, optional ground beef and stir. add Worcestershire Sauce, black pepper and stir to combine.
3. simmer for at least 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. serve with warm crusty bread.

(Marvelous) Steamed Broccoli

1 large bunch broccoli
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste*
1-2 cloves garlic, minced*
red pepper flakes to taste (optional)

*to simplify, you can replace the salt and garlic with garlic salt.

1. cut broccoli flowers and small stems into bite-size pieces. place in a pot with 1/4 cup cold water (no basket steamer needed). add olive oil, salt, garlic and red pepper flakes and stir to combine.
2. bring to a boil, cover tightly, reduce heat to medium and steam until the broccoli is bright green, approximately 5-7 minutes (but no more) depending on how crunchy or tender you prefer. remove with a slotted spoon and serve at once. if desired, squeeze a little fresh lemon or lime juice over the broccoli just before serving.


Easy French Onion Soup

This quick and will not disappoint.

2 cups thinly sliced yellow onion (2 large)
2 T. butter
4 C. beef broth
2 T. dry sherry or dry white wine (optional)
(I added a bit of apple cider vinegar instead)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Dash black pepper
6 slices French Bread, toasted
1 cut shredded Swiss, Gruyere, or Jarlsberg cheese (4 oz).
(I prefer sliced, not grated)

In a large saucepan cook onion, covered, in hot butter over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender and golden, stirring occasionally. Stir in broth, dry sherry (if desired), Worcestershire sauce, and pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, arrange toasted bread slices on a baking sheet. Evenly divide cheese among slices. Broil 3 to 4 inches from heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese is light brown and bubbly. Top each serving with a bread slice.

tips for this recipe: close doors to all bedrooms and other rooms and open windows if possible while onions are cooking to avoid lingering onion smell.

Recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book


Teriyaki Marinade

I've used this marinade a number of times. Very good.

1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp. sugar (white or brown)
3 tbsp. wine vinegar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger (or ground)
1 tbsp. diced garlic (or 1 tsp. ground)

Whisk ingredients together and allow meat (3-4 chicken breasts or 1.5 lb steak) to marinate for at least an hour. When cooking, place some of marinade in with the chicken. Serve over rice.


Asian Salsa Beef

1 (2 lb) boneless roast (chuck, rump, or shoulder roast will do)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup salsa
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 clove minced garlic
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp lime juice

Trim fat from roast and cut into 1-inch cubes. Heat oil in large covered pot and brown meat. Pour off drippings. Add salsa, brown sugar, soy sauce, and garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 1 hour or longer. Remove lid and continue cooking an additional 30 minutes. Removed beef from heat and add cliantro and lime juice. Serve over cooked rice. Serves 4.

recipe adapted from Salsa Beef in Remedies for the "I Don't Cook" Syndrome

Kel's Homemade Chili

Kel sent this out to us back in 2007 so I thought I'd place it on the blog. It hits the spot on a cold evening.

1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion or 2 small onions, chopped
1-2 cloves minced garlic or garlic salt
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 can pinto beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can corn, drained or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
2-4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
(add browned ground beef if desired)

1. saute garlic, onion and bell pepper in oil on medium heat for a five minutes. add chili powder and cumin, coat veggies and continue to saute another minute or two.
2. add beans (including liquid), tomatoes (including juice), corn - and optional beef - and stir.
3. simmer for at least 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

it's always better the second day. and goes very well with cornbread.


Chicken Stroganoff

A superb variation on an old favorite and so very tasty!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced into rings or crescents
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces (15 medium) button mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
1/2 cup white cooking wine
3/4 cup chicken broth
1+ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 - 1/2 cup sour cream (depending on how creamy and saucy you like it)

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and continue cooking until the mushrooms give up their liquid, about 6 minutes, and are tender. Set veggies aside in a medium bowl.

2. Return pan to heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Season the chicken with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Cook the chicken until golden brown and cooked through. Add it to the vegetables.

3. Pour the wine and broth into the pan and bring to a boil. With a wooden spoon, loosen any brown bits stuck to the pan and let cook in the sauce. Add the Worcestershire (add more than the 1 tablespoon if you are big fans), and mustard. Whisk until smooth. Boil until the liquid has reduced by just less than half.

4. Remove from heat and whisk in the sour cream. Do not let the sauce boil after adding the cream. Return the vegetables and chicken to the pan and heat through. Serve over rice, pasta, or toast.

Adapted from Real Simple, photo from Real Simple.com (photo shows Stroganoff made with green peppers, which, frankly I cannot endorse).


Coconut Curry

This recipe is a standard in our house and finds its way to our table twice a month on average. It's a great meal when entertaining and it makes great left overs too.

2 chicken breasts

14 oz (one package) extra firm tofu
olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 medium potatoes, chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
3+ tsp yellow curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp grated fresh ginger or 2 tsp powdered
1/2 tsp coriander (optional)
1/4 tsp allspice (optional)
1/4 garam marsala (optional)
garlic salt
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt (optional)
fresh cilantro

1. Heat empty pan over medium heat. If using chicken, cut into cubes and sauté over medium high heat in a tablespoon of oil, half of the ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon yellow curry powder, and garlic salt to taste until edges are slightly browned. Set aside in a small bowl.
If using tofu, drain and dry with a clean kitchen towel to get most of the moisture out. Cut in to half-inch 'cube-sticks'. Prepare 1/3 cup water + 1 teaspoon curry powder + 1/2 teaspoon cumin + half the ginger + 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, stir. Place tofu in dry pan and cook off more moisture until edges turn a light golden color. Give 1/3 cup prepared curry mixture a quick stir and pour over tofu and sauté until all the water is evaporated. Add a tablespoon of olive oil, turn heat up to medium high and sauté until thoroughly browned (about 10 more minutes). Set aside in a small bowl.

2. Add another tablespoon olive oil to the hot pan and sauté remaining ginger (if using fresh) and onions for about five minutes. Add carrots, sauté for a couple minutes, then potatoes, sauté, then peas and sprinkle with another 2-3 more teaspoons of curry powder, ginger (if using powdered), coriander, allspice, and Garam Marsala. Sauté for three or four more minutes.

3. Cover with just enough water to cover the veggies. Cover pan and simmer for 12 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Turn off heat. Stir in chicken or tofu, then coconut milk and yogurt. Cover and let sit for at least 20 minutes before serving (to allow the flavors meld). Serve over cooked jasmine or basmati rice and garnish with cilantro.



For those who prefer a salad minus the over seasoned, mouth injuring, dry bread (like me), this delicious play on the classic crouton is quick, easy, and an excellent substitute.

1-2 chicken breasts thawed
1 egg
1/2 to 1 cup dry bread crumbs
these next ingredients to be added to taste:
grated Parmesan
ground pepper
Italian seasoning
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut chicken in to bite-sized strips.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix bread crumbs, Parmesan, ground pepper, and Italian seasoning. In a separate bowl, beat egg lightly. Coat chicken pieces with egg. Transfer coated chicken to the bread crumbs mixture and coat well.
3. Place breaded chicken pieces separately on a foil lined and lightly greased (with olive oil or olive oil spray) cookie sheet (a silpat works well too). Bake for 15 minutes or until done, flipping halfway through baking time.
This is an experiment that actually turned out to be delicious. I made some potatoes this same day that were not so successful, however. Let me know how this recipe works for you.
*Name attributed to K. J. Busby.


Sweet Potato Wedges

do you like yams (or sweet potatoes)? if you didn't before, you will now. and if you already did, you'll be eating these once a week!

1 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt

2-3 medium sweet potatoes

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Stir together spices and salt, then oil and vinegar.

2. Cut potatoes lengthwise into 1-inch wedges. Stir up the oil mixture again to combine oil and vinegar. Toss wedges with oil and spices, place on a cookie sheet and roast in middle of oven 15 - 20 minutes. Turn wedges over with a spatula and roast until tender and slightly golden, 10 - 15 minutes more.

adapted (and photo stolen) from the smitten kitchen.


Spicing up your tuna

We eat a lot of tuna in this house (either it's good protein or incredibly easy...wait, it's both!). Here is a spin on the classic mix.

1 can tuna
4 Tbsp mayo
1 Tbsp parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp sweet relish
a pinch of garlic powder
1/4 tsp curry powder

Serve on sandwiches, crackers, or with pilaf. Very simple.