Saturday, December 26, 2015

Pomegranate

When I saw a pomegranate in the grocery store, I thought it would make a great addition to our Christmas salad. Because it's been years since I've had one (I have fond memories of picking out the arils as a special childhood treat), I searched for the best way to get the seeds out. There seem to be two main options. One is to break the pomegranate into sections, submerse them in a bowl of water and pick out the arils. The other way is to cut the fruit in half and then whack out the seeds.The kids helped, and we decided that whacking is the preferable method.


To do this, score the skin of the fruit around the center. If you just slice it in half, you'll have to deal with splattered juice, but you can do that if you want. Scoring and then breaking it in half worked for us. Place one half dome side up in your palm over an empty bowl in the sink (it is a messy project) and whack the top with a heavy wood spoon (or something similar). The arils will just fall out, although it does take some effort. Repeat with the other half.

The pomegranate seeds were the perfect addition to our salad, which also included toasted pecans, craisins, red onion and feta cheese with a lemon vinaigrette.

Citrus Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 tablespoon sugar
1-2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Combine all ingredients.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Danish Dessert

Serving Danish Dessert is one of my aunt's traditions for Christmas, one that I rediscovered this year. In honor of that, we're going to have it on Christmas Eve. Just in case I can't find the signature ingredient in the store, here are a couple of DIY options to try. One uses dry Koolaid, the other dry Jello, to get the signature bright red coloring.

It turns out I couldn't find a box of Danish Dessert in our local supermarkets. I went with the second substitute - the one using koolaid - and added several cups of sliced fresh strawberries for the top layer. The middle layer was our regular cream cheese mixed with sweetened whipped cream pie filling. The bottom layer was a walnut/flour crust.

Strawberry Danish Dessert
1 c. sugar
4 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 Tbsp. light corn syrup
4 Tbsp. dry jello mix (strawberry or raspberry flavor)
1 1/2 c. water
2 c. sliced strawberries (or fresh whole raspberries)
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup, jello and water.  Stir and heat over medium heat until ingredients come to a boil.  Stir and boil for a few minutes (3-4 min.)  Take off heat.  Stir in lemon juice and berries.  Serve warm (over waffles) or cooled.

Homemade Danish Dessert from The Red Apron Girl

1 package Kool Aid (any flavor)
4 tablespoons corn starch
pinch of salt
¾ cup sugar

Stir ingredients together and store in a tight container until ready to use.

When ready to use, in a small pot add the mix to 2 cups water. (Use 1 1/2 cups water if for pie filling.) Stir well and cook over medium heat until clear. Let cool 5 minutes and add fresh or frozen fruit. Place in fridge to allow to set up. Make about 3 hours before you want to serve.

Aunt Diane's Danish Dessert

1 cup white flour
3/4 cup margarine (not butter)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
8 ounces cream cheese
2 packages Dream Whip, prepared with whole milk
1 package Danish Dessert, prepared with
sliced frozen strawberries

Combine flour, margarine, powdered sugar, and walnuts. Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Stir and press into a baking pan, reserving 3/4 cup. Blend together cream cheese and Dream Whip and spread over crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs and top with Danish Dessert. Chill at least two hours before serving.

I added 1/4 cup wheat flour to the crumb mixture, and even then it took all of it to spread over our 9 x 13" baking pan, so we didn't have any on top of the cream mixture. I also used 16 ounces of cream cheese, mixed with 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 cup heavy cream, whipped first. Then, as mentioned above, I used the "kool-aid" substitute. Final verdict was that this is a delicious dessert!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Recent Bake Sale Cookbook Recipes

Peppermint Cupcakes - This probably isn't something we'll try again, although it wasn't bad. Basically add some red food coloring to a white cake mix along with a touch of peppermint extract. Then sprinkle crushed candy canes (or other peppermint candy) on top of the frosting.
Choco-Cola Cake - Because I don't plan on doing this one again, either, I'm not going to type up the recipe. Here's one that's close, but Wayne creamed both the cake and frosting mixtures instead of boiling them. We served it for company and they all enjoyed it, but I thought it was a bit too sweet. If you really want to test it for yourself, let me know and I'll send you the recipe!
One of our wedding gifts bit the dust while trying this next recipe. RIP dear yellow tablespoon!
Mini Chip Snowball Cookies - Just add mini chocolate chips to our traditional Mexican Wedding Cakes and you have another delicious variation.
Chippy Chewy Bars - Filled with lots of chocolate chips, coconut and sweetened condensed milk with a graham cracker base and a chocolate drizzle, these are quite rich and super easy to make.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Gourmet Eggs

It's been a while since we've tried Mom's Fancy Eggs, but because Wayne's cardiologist told him to lower the amount of carbs in his diet, we've been having eggs for breakfast more often. It was time for a change from the normal scrambled eggs. Mom's Fancy Eggs could be considered low-carb, but this variation, because it's not served over toast, is even better. And it's super delicious as well!
Heat up some spaghetti squash and spinach separately (aren't microwaves wonderful?!) and place on a plate. Top with an easy-over egg that has been seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder, and drizzled with a touch of cream and chopped tomatoes (sliced mushrooms would be a great addition). Sprinkle some grated cheese over the hot egg and serve.
Mom's Fancy Eggs
Yummy, with or without toast!



Friday, December 11, 2015

Spaghetti Squash

We trying to lower the amount of carbs we eat, so I'm giving spaghetti squash a try. Here are some recipes worth trying. We'll do the first one today, because I already added mushrooms and spinach to our eggs for breakfast. We need some variety! Besides, it has you cooking the squash for 30 minutes before slicing and removing the seeds. I want to see if that's easier than wrestling with the uncooked squash.

Creamy Baked Spaghetti Squash and Chicken

This was really good! Basically saute some onions and garlic in butter or olive oil. (Mushrooms and or red pepper would be great also.) Add some chicken broth and season with basil and parsley, salt and pepper. Thicken the sauce with flour, then stir in some cream and Parmesan cheese. Serve over the cooked spaghetti squash.

Spaghetti Squash with Chicken, Mushrooms and Spinach

Chicken Cacciatore with Spaghetti Squash

Monday, December 7, 2015

Holiday Shrimp Dip

This recipe was a family tradition for New Year's Even when I was growing up; we moved it to Christmas Day (or both!) when our children were young. This year we're rebelling and eating it much earlier in the month of December - but it's the perfect treat to take to the appetizer/dessert party!

Easy Shrimp Dip

Spread a block of cream cheese in a pie plate. Top with cooked baby shrimp and cocktail sauce. (Sometimes mixed together first, sometimes not.) Serve with crackers, usually Wheat Thins.

I've looked at several different variations of this in on the internet. Some people mix some sour cream in with the cream cheese to make it a bit more "spreadable" or use whipped cream cheese. Other additions to make it look prettier include chopped green onions, sliced black olives, grated Mozzarella or Parmesan cheese. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Creamy Salmon Chowder

We first tried this Alaskan Salmon Chowder (found in a Taste of Home magazine) several years ago and thought it was delicious. That was pre-blog days, so when I felt in the mood for it again this week, decided I should share it with all of you! I inadvertently bought fat-free evaporated milk, so I'll probably add some cream to this if it isn't thick enough, but you can do whatever you want. If you follow the recipe as written, it's nice and low-fat! We're going to have nice hot Pumpkin Rolls with it. Can't wait!!

Creamy Salmon Chowder

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups chicken broth, divided
2 cups diced peeled potatoes
1 cup sliced carrots
1 teaspoon seasoned salt, optional
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 can (14-3/4 ounces) cream-style corn
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
2 cans (7-1/2 ounces each) salmon, drained and bones removed

In a large saucepan, cook onion, celery, green pepper and garlic in 1/4 cup broth until tender. Add the potatoes, carrots, seasoned salt if desired, dill and remaining broth. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add zucchini; simmer for 5 minutes. Add the corn, milk and salmon; heat through.

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

We have lots of pumpkin pureé in the freezer so Michelle sent us some recipes to try that she and her roommates liked. This first one comes from a Butternut Squash Roll recipe, but we're using pumpkin. Here you go!

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

1 tablespoon yeast
1 1/4 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin*
5 to 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in milk and water. Add the butter, salt, sugar, squash and 3 cups flour; beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Form into rolls; place in two greased 10-in. cast-iron skillets or 9-in. round baking pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Yield: 2 dozen.

*Michelle used 1 1/2 cups so she wouldn't have any more leftovers; it worked well.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Pumpkin Sundae Pie with Regal Caramel Sauce

Over 30 years ago, we discovered our favorite Thanksgiving pie - Frosty Pumpkin Pie. However, one year when we visited my parents, we made my mom's version. There's not much difference between the two, but just in case you ever want to make both and do a taste comparison yourself, I figured I'd record her recipe. I'm not sure who gave it to her, but that doesn't matter; it's still part of our family heritage. (My guess is it either came from a cooking class she took or from a magazine.) 

Pumpkin Sundae Pie with Regal Caramel Sauce

9-inch baked pie crust
1 cup pumpkin
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
2 pints vanilla ice cream (save 1 cup for garnish if desired)

Combine all ingredients (except the pie crust) and pour into the crust. Freeze until firm. Serve with Regal Caramel Sauce.

Regal Caramel Sauce

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine sugar, corn syrup and water and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Hashbrowns

I found another little note, which I do want to use, maybe even today, since we can't go through a 10-pound bag of potatoes as fast as we used to do. To make your own hash browns for the freezer, simply peel and grate potatoes. Keep the grated ones covered with water in a bowl. Then drain and blanch (put in boiling water) for 3 minutes. Drain again and package for the freezer. Use to make regular hash browns or in recipes like Funeral Potatoes. I want to try them as a crust for quiche.

Pico de Gallo

I'm going through the recipe magazines and found a scrap of paper with this written on it. I don't know if I ever tried it, but it looks nice and simple and maybe some day we'll see what it tastes like.

Pico de Gallo

1 tomato, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley (or cilantro if your family likes it)
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
salt, pepper, garlic and cumin to taste

I'm assuming you mix everything together and serve with tortilla chips!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Creamy Chicken Log

I saw this recipe in a magazine and thought it might be a good spread to try over the holidays to help us use up our "hurricane emergency supply" crackers.

Creamy Chicken Log

1 package (8 ounces) softened cream cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken breasts
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2 hard-cooked eggs, finely chopped
1/4 cup sliced green onions
Diced pimentos and additional sliced green onions
Assorted crackers and snack bread
In a small mixing bowl, combine the first seven ingredients; mix well. Stir in chicken, eggs and green onions. Shape into an 8 x 2-inch log. Garnish with pimentos and onions. Cover and chill.
Remove from refrigerator 15 minutes before serving. Serve with crackers and snack bread.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Jamaican Jerk Pork with Rasta Pasta

Ready for another story on how dinner came to be? I had thawed pork chops for dinner, but hadn't decided how to cook them. Wayne suggested using our Jamaican jerk seasoning and that sounded like a great idea. I had already decided I wanted to try roasted carrots and parsnips (to use up the vegetables in the crisper). There were also some plain, cooked noodles that I wanted to use, so I turned to Google to find something that would coordinate with jerk seasoning. I thought the islanders pretty much stuck with rice and beans, so was pleasantly surprised to find a Jamaican pasta recipe. It looked like it would be a perfect fit, and it was.

Jamaican Jerk Pork Chops with Rasta Pasta

Sauté chopped scallions (or onions), red pepper, and garlic in a bit of olive oil. (You decide how much!) Add salt, pepper and basil to taste, along with some chopped fresh tomato. Stir in pre-cooked pasta of your choice. Push to the side of the pan, and add a bit more oil. Sprinkle Jamaican jerk seasoning on both sides of the pork chops (lightly or heavily depending on your tolerance for heat), add to pan and cook until done. Serve over the pasta.

Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

Peel carrots and parsnips and chop into bite-sized pieces. Place in baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper and minced garlic to taste; toss. Bake at 425° for about 30 minutes.

Note: I only cooked two pork chops, but I mixed the leftover vegetables and pasta and we really liked that combination when served with some chicken later in the week.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Mashed Cauliflower au Gratin

I tore this recipe out of an old magazine, but before I throw the scrap of paper away, I figured I'd copy it down. The little blurb next to the picture states "unless someone tells you, you might not know you're eating cauliflower." Well, I definitely knew I was eating cauliflower, which is okay because I like it. However, maybe I should have cooked it longer so it mashed up better. As it was, it was a nice variation to plain old cauliflower.

Mashed Cauliflower au Gratin

1 large head cauliflower, broken into florets
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded Colby/Monterey Jack cheese
(Note: I used a 4-cheese Mexican blend because that's what was in the refrigerator already.)
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon steak seasoning
1/4 cup bread crumbs

Place the cauliflower in a stock pot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer uncovered for 10-12 minutes or until very tender. Drain and mash. Stir in everything else but the bread crumbs. Transfer mixture to a greased casserole and sprinkle with the bread crumbs. (They can be combined with 2 tablespoons of melted butter first if you wish.) Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 40-50 minutes or until heated through and topping is golden brown. Serves 6.
It complemented our Sweet Potato Casserole and Creamy Balsamic Chicken for dinner quite nicely.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Snickerdoodles

We've been using this recipe for over 30 years, so I was surprised when I looked on the blog this morning to find it and discovered it wasn't here! That helped me decide which type of cookie to bake today; we don't want anyone else to have that problem in the future! 

While the oven was hot I also decided to make some Chocolate Chips Cookies to help fill the freezer. Adding pecans and craisins helped give them an autumn taste and feel.


Snickerdoodles

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3 cups flour (in Florida I add an additional 1/3 cup)
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix together butter, shortening, sugar and eggs. Blend in flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Shape dough into small balls. Roll in cinnamon sugar (about 1/2 cup sugar to 2 tablespoons cinnamon) and place 2" apart on cookie sheet. Bake at 400° for 8-10 minutes or until set. Remove to cooling rack. Store tightly covered.

Note: This recipe comes from Betty Crocker's All Time Favorites, which is the recipe book that started Wayne's Saturday cooking/baking hobby. He made these in May 1983.
I use my cookie scoop to plop the dough in the cinnamon-sugar filled cake pan, then roll the balls around until coated. Works great!

Variation: Eggnog Snickerdoodles - Add 1/2 teaspoon rum extract to dough. Roll in mixture of 1/4 cup colored sugar and 1 teaspoon nutmeg. These are fun to add to a holiday cookie tray.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Plantains Wrapped in Bacon

We're still in the appetizer section of the Columbia Restaurant Cookbook, and today it was time to try another recipe using plantains. Instead of the two-ingredient Fried Plantains, it was three-ingredient Plantains Wrapped in Bacon. The recipe called for 1/2 pound of bacon to be used with 4 ripe plantains. We ended up using 1 1/2 pounds. I don't know if that means their bacon was super, super thin, or if they used bigger chunks, or what, but that's okay.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Pizza Soup

We tried this a few years ago and it was delicious! The recipe came from a Quick Cooking magazine that I'm getting rid of, but someday I may want to make this soup again, so I'm writing it down.

Pizza Soup

1 1/4 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 cups water
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 cup chopped pepperoni
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup cooked Italian sausage
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

In a saucepan, saute mushrooms and onions in oil for a couple of minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the cheeses. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Garnish with cheese when serving. Serves 4.

Glazed Chicken Wings

Wayne likes his spicy Dutch oven wings; I prefer these. It never hurts to make two varieties! However, we usually make his recipe when watching football, and this one (which I discovered in a Quick Cooking magazine) for Christmas afternoon snacking.
Glazed Chicken Wings Recipe

Glazed Chicken Wings

5 pounds wing pieces
1/3 cup barbecue sauce
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup soy sauce

Put wings in a greased 9x13" baking pan. Combine other ingredients and pour over chicken. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for about an hour, until done.

Note: If you want more sauce, just increase it. It's super easy because the ratio of the three ingredients is 1:1:1!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Birthday Dinner

Wayne loves steak. So, I usually serve it for Father's Day and for his birthday (and sometimes on other days of the year). This year for Father's Day I tried fixing filet mignon for the first time. It turned out so successfully, that that's the cut we had for his birthday dinner as well. I followed the directions found here and the steaks were perfect.

It's really quite simple, which is even better than trying something complicated. Let the steaks come to room temperature. Heat a bit of olive oil in an oven-proof skillet. (I love our cast iron one.) Season the beef with salt and pepper and place in the hot skillet. Don't touch them for four minutes. Then carefully flip them over and place the pan in an oven pre-heated to 425 degrees. Bake them for 6-7 minutes for medium rare. Immediately place them on a plate to rest for about five more minutes.

Updated Father's Day 2016: These directions were for steaks that are 6 ounces and 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick. For 8 ounce steaks that are 2 inches thick, try searing for 3 minutes on one side, an additional 3 minutes on the other, then put in the oven for 6-7 minutes. Today when I took them out of the oven, a meat thermometer registered 120 degrees; after resting for five minutes the temperature had climbed to 130. That was perfect.


On Father's Day, we had lobster tails. Today we tried king crab legs. In the future, I need to remember that small portions can be plenty satisfying!

We realize that filet mignon is expensive. That's one reason why this is the first year we've tried it at home. There are some things you can do when the grocery budget covers two people that you can't when it needs to feed eight. It's also better for us to have smaller portions, and this helps with that mentality. While we don't expect this to be something you try now, I'm posting so that someday when you're ready for a super special celebration, you'll know what to do!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

There's been some extra apple juice in the refrigerator and so we tried a new recipe to help use it up. While this won't replace our regular cinnamon roll recipe, it's definitely worth keeping in the files. It's a great way to usher in the fall season!

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe uses apple juice for the liquid in the dough (instead of milk) and I was a little leery of that at first, but it turned out to work just great. I didn't use her caramel recipe for the frosting, but made my own with apple juice, powdered sugar and caramel sauce (also something that's been lingering in the refrigerator). We'll still call them Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls, because there's plenty of brown sugar and caramel flavor, and that title flows better than just plain Apple Cinnamon Rolls. Delicious!







Sunday, September 13, 2015

Lemon Bars

My sister just requested this recipe. Now all of my wonderful readers can have it too! This isn't something we have very often, because my dear husband doesn't care for lemon desserts. However, next time I take them to a Relief Society function, I'll have to take a picture and add it to this post. Hope you enjoy them, Holly!
We had a Relief Society function!
Lemon Bars
from the Hollister Relief Society Cookbook

1/2 cup melted butter or margarine (although I use 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 cup sugar (3/4 cup is probably okay)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Combine butter, powdered sugar and flour and press into an 8" square pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes in 350 degree oven. Beat eggs, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon juice until light and fluffy. Pour over hot crust. Bake 20 more minutes. Cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar when cool.

(You can also double everything and bake in a 9x13" pan.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Almond Roca Toffee

This is the recipe we tried in 2014 that worked -

Homemade Almond Roca

1 cup butter
1 rounded cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 cup sliced almonds
2/3 cup chocolate chips
3 tablespoons finely chopped almonds

Line a 9x13" pan with foil and butter (or Pam) it. Melt the butter in a thick-bottomed 4-quart saucepan. Add the sugar and water and cook on medium-high until it reaches the toffee stage.** Stir in the sliced almonds and pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top and let sit for a few minutes to melt. Then spread chocolate with a spatula and sprinkle with remaining chopped almonds. Cool until hardened. Remove from pan and break into pieces.

** That's not a helpful instruction. Go here to see pictures that might help.

Here are a couple of new recipes I found. I guess it's not really Almond Toffee if you use pecans or walnuts, but it's worth trying!

English Toffee Recipe

1 cup nuts, chopped  (pecans or walnuts are best) *
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Butter an 8×8 inch pan. Spread the nuts in the bottom of the pan. On medium heat, bring the sugar and butter to a boil and boil 7 minutes. Spread into the pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. Let it sit a few minutes. When melted, spread evenly. Let cool before cracking into pieces. Makes 24 pieces.
*Variations:
  • White Chocolate with Macadamia Nuts (not cheap but to die for!)
  • Dark Chocolate with Almonds
  • Semi-sweet chocolate with Almonds for an Almond Roca flavor


1½ cups coarsely-chopped almonds
16 oz. light brown sugar
1 lb. butter
24 oz. milk chocolate chips
  1. Sprinkle ¾ cup coarsely chopped almonds onto the bottom of an 18x13 inch cookie sheet. Set aside.
  2. In a 2 qt. sauce pan, combine sugar and butter over medium high heat while stirring frequently for several minutes unit bubbly and thick. Use a candy thermometer and cook until 290 degrees F. Watch carefully after 280 degrees F to prevent it from burning. Once it has reached 290 degrees F, remove from heat.
  3. Pour candy evenly on top of the almonds in cookie sheet. Let stand for a few minutes.
  4. Melt chocolate chips in microwave with 1 tsp. shortening or oil to help keep it smooth. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each increment, until completely melted and smooth.
  5. Cover candy with layer of chocolate and sprinkle remaining almonds evenly over the top of chocolate layer.
  6. Allow to set up for a few hours. I place mine in the fridge when I need them to cool faster.
  7. Once completely set up and hardened, break into pieces using a knife.
  8. This recipe makes about 2 lbs of candy and is great for gifts!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Dana's Turtle Bars

Tonight for dinner we're having baked potatoes, and since I'm only baking two potatoes, I looked for something that could fill the empty space in the oven so I wouldn't feel like I was squandering our electricity. I was missing ingredients for anything that looked appealing on my Pinterest board, so off to the bookshelf I went to the old-fashioned cookbook binder! On the first page in the cookie section I saw Turtle Bar Cookies, and since I also have caramel sauce that's been lingering in the fridge for awhile, it was the perfect choice. This yummy dessert is also missing from this blog, and it's about time we rectified that!

Dana's Turtle Bars

1 cup flour
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine
1/2 jar (about 1 cup) caramel sauce
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine flour, oats, sugar and baking soda with the butter. Press 3/4 of the mixture in a lightly greased 8x8" baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 9 minutes. Drizzle the caramel sauce over and spread evenly. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and nuts on top. Crumble the remaining oat mixture over that and bake an additional 12 minutes. Let cool before cutting. Makes 16 at 200 calories each.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Spinach Salad with Grilled Shrimp

The last time we had a barbecue lunch we had hot dogs. They were fine, but this time I wanted something a little more special. Hamburgers aren't really special, although they are delicious, so I went searching for a new idea. This recipe - Spinach Salad with Grilled Shrimp - looked intriguing, and even on the healthy side as well, so I added the ingredients to the shopping list. It's a good thing I decided against hamburgers, because yesterday Wayne decided he wanted to go out to dinner, and we ending up enjoying delicious, gigantic hamburgers at Flanigan's. Two days in a row would have been too much. 
Flanigan's Caribbean Burger
Anyway, when he saw what I packed in the cooler, Wayne wasn't sure he'd be happy with his lunch. However, at least twice on the way home he mentioned that he really liked it. I guess we'll have this spinach salad again someday.

Spinach Salad with Grilled Shrimp

DRESSING:
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

SHRIMP:
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
8 to 12 ounces large shrimp, peeled and de-veined

SALAD:
4 cups baby spinach
1 cup thinly sliced shiitake/baby portabello mushroom caps
1/4 cup thinly vertically sliced red onion

Combine the dressing ingredients and set aside. Combine the shrimp ingredients and set aside. Combine the salad ingredients and set aside. [Because we were taking this to a picnic, I used ziploc bags and tupperware.] While the coals are heating, thread the shrimp on skewers. Cook on the grill for a few minutes on each side. These cook quite quickly. Toss the dressing with the spinach and divide between the plates. Top with the cooked shrimp and serve. Serves 2-3.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Turkey Taco Casserole

We attended a potluck dinner at the church last week, and Chicken Taco Casserole looked like the perfect choice to take. It disappeared quickly, so I guess it was. It's actually more of a "process" than a real recipe, but here's what we did.
Crush tortilla chips and sprinkle over the bottom of a lightly greased 9x13" pan.

Combine 2-3 cups cooked turkey (or chicken) with about 1 1/2 cups sour cream, 2 cans cream of chicken soup, 1-2 cups cooked black beans, 1 can tomatoes with chilies (also known as Ro-Tel), and taco seasoning. Spoon half of the mixture over the tortilla chips and top with cheddar cheese. Then repeat the three layers.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes, or until heated through.

Note: We had a version of this often through the years, although I think this is the first time I've used the soup. Often I'll add cooked rice to the mixture, or salsa instead of the tomatoes, hamburger instead of chicken, etc. This time I added some sliced olives on top as well. It's easy to do in a glass pie plate and then heat in the microwave until the cheese melts.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Trillionaire Bars

Both Michelle and I tried these this past weekend. Isn't that a fun coincidence? Mine don't look quite like the original - found here - but they turned out to be quite delicious! and very rich!!
Trillionaire Bars

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour

Caramel sauce

1/4  cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup flour
Dash of salt
1/4 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup oats

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Combine the first seven ingredients and pour into a foil-lined 8x8" baking pan. Bake for 18 minutes at 350°. This is the brownie layer, so if you wanted to use your own favorite brownie recipe you could.

Top with a layer of caramel sauce. The original recipe called for melting caramels with some cream, but I had some caramel dipping sauce in the refrigerator that I wanted to use up and it worked perfectly. Put the pan in the refrigerator until the caramel layer sets up.

Combine the next nine ingredients to make some egg-less cookie dough batter and spread over the caramel. This layer was out of proportion for my tastes. I think half the amount would have been fine.

Melt the chocolate chips and cream together and pour over the cookie dough layer. Then chill until hardened.

Remove from the foil and cut into bars to serve. I found it easiest to do this by making four long slices, then turning them on their sides to cut into individual pieces. The knife had a tendency to squish all the cookie dough batter out if you weren't careful!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Recent Columbia Restaurant Cookbook Recipes

We're in the appetizer section of the cookbook now, and here are a few of the recipes we've tried recently.
Picture credit with instructions for baking
First we tried Dátiles Envueltos en Tocino, or Dates Wrapped in Bacon. This is exactly what the title suggests. Wrap a half-slice of bacon around a whole, pitted date. Secure with a toothpick. Fry in deep fat until bacon is light brown. We don't care for dates, so were pleasantly surprised at how good these were! The salty-sweet combination was quite delicious.

Next was Caponata. It wasn't my favorite (the eggplant part was okay, but I don't like green olives), and I'm not going to bother rewriting the recipe because I don't plan on making it again. If you do want to try it yourself, this recipe looks to be pretty close to what we had.

After that we tried the Plátanos Maduros Fritos, or Fried Plantains. Once, again, it's not a recipe I'm likely to try again, unless we have some extra plantains leftover from something else.


Then we tried Croquetas de Jamón o Pollo. These we just might actually have again some day, so here's the recipe. I preferred the ham version, but we served the chicken version to guests and they really liked them, so I guess you can try both and decide yourself which you prefer.

Croquettes

1/4 cup margarine or butter
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup minced onion
1 cup milk (whole is best - so 1 1/2 tablespoons cream plus skim milk to equal 1 cup)
2 eggs (one in croquette mixture, one for coating)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (bottled lemon juice would probably be fine)
1 1/2 cups ham or chicken, cooked and ground (using a food processor)
Salt and pepper to taste
Flour
2 tablespoons water
Fine dry bread crumbs
Peanut oil for frying

Melt the butter in a pan and blend in flour, onion, and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until VERY thick. Stir in ONE egg beaten with lemon juice. Add ham or chicken and salt and pepper to taste.  Pour into a shallow dish and refrigerate (covered) for two hours. Shape into croquettes the size of 3-inch cylinders. Chill again. 

Gather three shallow bowls. Put flour in one. Beat together the egg and water in the second. Place bread crumbs in the third. Coat each croquette with flour, dip into the egg wash, and roll in the bred crumbs.

Heat oil in a wok or other pan. Deep-fry each croquette in the hot oil until golden brown. Makes 12.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Anniversary Chicken

One of Jeff's roommates liked to make Anniversary Chicken on a regular basis, and since we'd never had it, one day he fixed it for us. It was pretty good!
Basically you top chicken breasts with barbecue sauce, Ranch dressing, grated cheese and bacon bits, then bake it at 350° for 30-40 minutes until it's done. Jeff likes serving it with rice, so that's what we did. Yummy!

Salmon Cups with Creamed Peas

Here's another recipe from the New Dieter's Cookbook. I really like it; Wayne not so much.

Salmon Cups with Creamed Peas

1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs
1 7-oz can skinless and boneless salmon or tuna, drained
1 cup fresh or frozen or canned peas, heated and drained
2/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon lemon peel, optional

Combine egg, onion, bread crumbs and salmon. Mix well and divide between 3 6-oz custard cups. Press onto bottom and up sides of the cups. Combine milk, cornstarch, bouillon and lemon peel and cook in microwave until thickened and bubbly. Check and stir after every 30 seconds. Stir in peas and set aside. Cook salmon cups, covered with vented plastic wrap, in microwave on high for 2 - 4 minutes or until set. Spoon peas into salmon cups and serve. Makes 3 servings.

Turkey Paprikash

After our vacation, it was time to once again get serious about eating more healthily. So I turned to our New Dieter's Cookbook and Turkey Paprikash caught my eye. 

It gave me a chance to use some "it's really from Hungary" paprika that had been sitting in the cupboard for a while. I was also able to use a carton of plain Greek yogurt that had been languishing in the refrigerator. Since I didn't feel like going to the store, I also used spaghetti instead of noodles and chopped turkey instead of turkey slices. 

So, it may not look as pretty as the picture in the book, but it definitely tasted great, and we'll be having it again some day.

Turkey Paprikash

1 medium onion, sliced or chopped
1 cup chopped, cooked turkey or chicken
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
3/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons flour (I usually use Wondra flour in instances like this.)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 oz. plain low-fat yogurt
3 cups hot cooked noodles (or spaghetti)

Cook onion in a non-stick frying pan until soft. Stir in turkey, paprika, bouillon, water, pepper, flour and tomato paste and heat through. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in yogurt for a minute, then serve over noodles. Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Broccoli Salad

The idea for this broccoli salad came from here, but of course I had to make a few changes. Here's what we did, and it turned out quite nicely. We may even have it again!

Broccoli Salad

1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 cup light Miracle Whip
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 broccoli crown, chopped into small bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup craisins
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons diced red onion
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons cooked, crumbled bacon

In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, Miracle Whip, sugar, vinegar and ginger. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. In a large bowl, toss the remaining ingredients together. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture and toss to coat all the ingredients with the sauce. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. Right before serving, give the salad another good toss to recombine any dressing that may have settled at the bottom. Serves 4-6.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Cookie Crumb Torte

Cookie Crumb Torte

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
1/3 cup half & half
3 cups cookie crumbs
1/2 cup flour
2 cups toasted almonds, finely chopped

Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Stir in vanilla and half & half.  Fold in crumbs, flour and almonds.  Pour into greased (and wax-paper lined) 10" tube pan.  Bake at 300° for one hour and forty minutes.  Cool thoroughly and dust with powdered sugar.

We've had some sugar cookie crumbs sitting in the freezer for a while, and I was looking for a way to use them, something other than a variation of a graham cracker pie crust.  This was the answer.

A Taste of the Tropics

Wayne wanted to try a real coconut. The one we got in Hawaii was a dud, so we picked up an ordinary one at the local grocery store. Here are the tutorials I used as I figured out how to make it edible.

Using the Oven to Crack the Shell - It actually worked! First you preheat the oven to 400° and pierce the "eye" of the coconut to drain out the water. Then bake it for 15 minutes until it cracks on its own. Let it cool for another 15 minutes or so, and then you can separate the "flesh" from the hard shell. You'll also need to use a vegetable peeler to get the other brown "skin" separated from the white flesh. It's easier to do that with larger pieces as opposed to tiny ones, just so you know.

Using the Blender to Make Coconut Milk - This worked too! I only used the flesh from 1/2 a coconut and one cup of water. Put those two ingredients in the blender and pulverize the coconut. Then line a strainer with some cheese cloth (over another bowl), pour the mixture from the blender into it, and twist the cheese cloth. Out comes about a cup of coconut milk. The surprise to me was all the dry, flaked coconut inside the cheese cloth. Now I get to figure out what to do with that!

I used the coconut milk as the base for our Chicken Curry for dinner.

Indian Curry Chicken

 

Indian Curry Chicken

3/4 cup diced onion
3/4 cup diced celery
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (Wondra works nicely here)
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup tomato juice (or use tomato sauce)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cups diced cooked chicken breasts (or turkey)
4 cups hot cooked rice
Toppings (mandarin orange segments, chopped bananas, raisins, peanuts, shredded coconut, and/or mango chutney), if desired

Cook onion and celery in a little bit of hot oil until crisp-tender. Stir in flour until coated. Gradually stir in broth and tomato juice and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is smooth and starts to thicken. Stir in seasonings and chicken and heat through. Serve with rice and assorted toppings.
It looks a bit different in the pan!

Cody's Family's Salad

Cranberry Salad (Thanksgiving)

1 pkg. cherry Jell-O
1 c. sugar
1 c. boiling water
2 c. cranberries
4 apples, cored
1 large orange (without seeds)--leave the peel on

Put the fruit in a food processor until it is chopped up REALLY well (you don't want to eat even small chunks of cranberry or orange peel). Dissolve Jello-O in water. Add sugar. Add fruit when cool. Let set in fridge for several hours before serving.

Korean Tacos with Asian Slaw

Korean Tacos with Asian Slaw

Brown together:
1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 small onion, chopped

Combine:
1 pound cabbage, sliced
1 carrot, cut in match sticks
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Serve in tortillas (a spoonful of each mixture, then rolled up).


Salted Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies

I pinned this recipe a while ago, and today was the day to try it. It's the perfect recipe to use up the last bit of pretzels in the bag! The original author wasn't too enamored of the dough, so I used my regular chocolate chip cookie recipe for that. I did halve it, though, just in case we didn't like this combination of flavors. So this recipe is for about 2 dozen cookies - the perfect amount if you don't want temptation around. However, it's easily doubled, and doubled again, if you need a bunch for a Mutual activity or family reunion picnic.

Salted Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup shortening
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup broken pretzels
coarse salt

Combine flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. Cream butter, shortening and sugars. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips and pretzels. Drop by tablespoonfuls on cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Note: Although the original recipe said to sprinkle with the coarse salt before baking, I found that it dissolved in the oven. Next time I'll try sprinkling it on the hot cookies, immediately after removing them from the oven.

Chewy Granola Bars

This is supposedly a no-bake recipe, but you toast the oats and nuts, so if your goal is to avoid heating the kitchen, choose a different recipe!

Chewy Granola Bars

2 1/2 cups regular oats
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips, divided

Place oats and almonds on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven at 350° for 8-10 minutes, stirring once. Set aside.

Combine honey, butter, brown sugar and salt in a small saucepan and heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, then mix with the oats and nuts.

Cool for five minutes. Stir in the cranberries and half of the chocolate chips. Press mixture VERY firmly into a foil-lined 9" square pan. Top with the remaining chocolate chips. Cover and chill for 2 hours. Remove from pan and cut into bars. Makes 16.

As you can imagine, this is a recipe well-suited to variations. Try different combinations of nuts and dried fruit. I imagine adding some peanut butter would be delicious. I also imagine the chocolate chips could be optional, but why would anyone want to omit them?

Salmon with Cream Sauce

I just realized this would probably be really good with mushrooms added. We'll have to try it again someday.

Here's the inspiration: Salmon with Mustard Cream Sauce
Pan-Crisped Salmon with Light Dijon Cream and Garlic Butter Breadcrumbs I howsweeteats.com
(photo from the website)

Baked Mahi Mahi

Baked Mahi Mahi

Place mahi mahi in lightly greased or oiled baking dish and sprinkle with lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Combine diced onions and mayonnaise and spread on top. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake at 425° for 20-25 minutes.

Lemon Chicken with Vegetables

I came across this recipe while reading a magazine in the auto repair shop. Lemon oil is something I had never heard of before, so I figured it was worth trying. This recipe was actually quite good; however, I think I'll just stick with olive oil and lemon juice; cleaning up the mess from making the lemon oil was kind of time consuming.

Lemon Chicken with Vegetables

4 chicken legs (2#)
3 tablespoons lemon oil, divided (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
salt and pepper
8 whole cloves garlic, peeled
4 small zucchini (1 1/4#), sliced
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

First make the lemon oil by combining 1/2 cup olive oil with one lemon, washed and quartered, in the blender. Pulse until chopped finely, then strain.

Heat oven to 425°. Place chicken in baking dish and brush with two tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with thyme (I used dried thyme and it worked just fine), salt and pepper. Scatter the garlic around the chicken. Bake for 25 minutes or until chicken is done.

Cook the zucchini in the remaining one tablespoon lemon oil (the remainder will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks so you can try it in another recipe). Toss with the spinach and red pepper flakes and salt to taste. Serve with the chicken.

Fried Plantains

We're in the "appetizer" section of the Columbia Restaurant Cookbook now, and Fried Plantains are considered an appetizer. This was a two ingredient recipe, which is unusual for this cookbook, but it was nice to try something simple for a change.

Just peel the ripe plantains, using a knife. (Note: You can't peel them by hand like a banana, and the yellower they are, the sweeter they are.) Slice diagonally (about 3/4" thick) and then fry in hot oil. They're done when they're golden brown.

If you have any leftovers, freeze them. Then when you're ready to serve them again, just heat them for a few seconds in the microwave.

Edited: We did have some in the freezer, and when I came across a recipe for Costa Rican Breakfast, I knew it would be the perfect side dish. We actually had it for dinner, and Wayne thought it would be better without the added scrambled eggs, but I liked the combination.
Basically, layer rice, seasoned black beans, scrambled eggs, salsa and avocado and serve with fried plantains on the side. Yummy!