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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Soft Pretzels

I picked my oldest up from school and decided to take her out for a treat at our local Farmer's Market.  We enjoyed a soft pretzel and lemonade.  She asked about how they made the pretzels and told her that we would make them at home.  Both of my older girls got involved and tried to make pretzels, well the one just wanted to eat the dough.  Here is the homemade pretzel that we made!  I got this recipe from an old youth group leader. 

1 1/4 c. Warm Water
1 Tbsp Yeast
1/4 c. Brown Sugar
1 1/2 c. Bread Flour
1 1/2 c. Regular Flour
Dissolve the yeast in the water.  Stir in the remaining ingredients.  Let rise for 20 minutes.  Shape & dip into soda water (recipe below).  Sprinkle with pretzel salt.  Bake till slightly brown.  Dip or brush on melted butter and serve.  Bake at 400 for 10 minutes.

Soda Water:
1/2 c. Water
2 Tbsp Baking Soda

FYI: Spray the cookie sheet with Pam to avoid the pretzels from sticking.

Alterations:  I did not have any bread flour so I used all regular flour and they turned out great.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Springtime Salad

I made this salad for a picnic yesterday and thought it was delicious! I see lots of possibilities for variations on this salad -- Greek olives, cucumbers, and on and on! Yum!

What you need:
2 1/4 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
10 oz. box couscous
3 tbsp. lemon juice
6 tbsp. olive oil
2 c. spinach, torn
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
3 tbsp. fresh dill, finely chopped (smells so good!)
(I also added sunflower seeds and feta!)

What to do:
Pour water into a saucepan, add salt, and bring to a boil. Add couscous and immediately remove pan from heat. Cover saucepan and let stand five minutes. Uncover, and toss couscous with a fork. Place in a serving bowl; set aside. Blend lemon juice and oil together, toss with couscous and let mixture cool completely. Toss couscous with spinach, green onion, and dill; refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Recipe from Gooseberry Patch cookbook, "The Cozy Home Cookbook."


Friday, June 25, 2010

Honey Chicken Salad

In my opinion this is the perfect chicken salad recipe. I prefer sweet chicken salad with nuts, as opposed to the kind with onion or dill. I can't tell you how many times I have made this for a gathering and every time someone requests the recipe. The recipe is exactly how Southern Living made it. Why mess with perfection?

Honey Chicken Salad


4 cups chopped cooked chicken
3 celery ribs, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/3 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Garnish: chopped toasted pecans

How to Make It:
1) Combine first 4 ingredients.
2) Whisk together mayonnaise and next 3 ingredients. Add to chicken mixture, stirring gently until combined. Garnish, if desired.

Yield: 6 servings


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Creamy pea salad

I am not the only foodie in the family. In fact, my husband is as obsessed with cooking and eating as I am. It's something that unites us. To counteract this somewhat fattening bonding time, we're trying to work out together, too. Wish us luck.

On Father's Day, we returned home from a brief camping trip to a fridge that was fairly well-stocked with fresh veggies. While I popped some of my frozen potato rolls in our cast-iron skillet to rise, he brainstormed a fresh salad idea to accompany the clams (from the freezer!) and rolls we were having for dinner that night.

The result was creamy, fresh, and beautiful.

Creamy pea salad (serves 2-3)

3/4 cup sour cream
1 to 2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon honey
ground pepper to taste
dill (to taste)
2 scallions (the white part, plus as much of the green part as you'd like)
1 cup cooked and chilled peas (the smaller and sweeter, the better!)
2 large lettuce leaves, plus more torn-up pieces to put on the side

To make the dressing:
Start with the sour cream. Add about a tablespoon of the olive oil, and whisk until combined. Taste the mixture. It should have a less tangy taste than the plain sour cream, and just a hint of the flavor of the olive oil. Whisk in a little more oil if the sour cream is still very tangy and you can't quite taste the olive oil. Add the salt and the honey. Taste again. If it's too sweet for your liking, add a little more sour cream. If it's too tangy, add a little more honey. Finally, add the dill and a little freshly ground pepper.

Mix the dressing with the peas and scallions, and spoon over the lettuce.

VARIATION: for a dinner salad, add cooked, cooled potatoes and salad radishes to the ingredients above.

Note: My husband wrote up this recipe for me, and as you read it, you'll probably notice the style of his cooking: it is all about taste! His favorite cookbook authors at the moment are Rick Bayless and Francis Mallmann, who also advocate tasting as you go to make sure everything is seasoned properly. So naturally, this is how my husband writes his own recipes. Happy tasting!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rhubarb Pie

Again this was taken from the Simply in Season cookbook.  This is homegrown rhubarb from our garden.  We got the start from his Grandpa & Grandma who are no longer living.  It is neat to have a plant in my garden that has come from his grandparents.  It is a neat reminder of them.  That being said, my husband begs and begs me to make Rhubarb pie for him.  So I broke down and made it for him, but this time tried a new recipe.

2 Eggs
Separate yolks from the egg whites.  Beat egg whites into stiff peaks.  Beat egg yolks separately.

1 c. Sugar
3 Tbsp Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
Mix with egg yolks.

3 c. Rhubarb (chopped)
Add to egg mixture.  Fold in the beaten egg whites.

9 inch pastry shell (unbaked)
Pour mixture into shell and bake in preheated oven at 425F for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350F and continue baking for 30 minutes or until set.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Peanut Butter Pie

I'm a strict recipe-follower. Have I confessed that before? Knowing this about me, you should be pretty proud to know that I made some changes to this peanut butter pie recipe! This was our Father's Day dessert, and it got rave reviews from my hubby and his mom.

Here's the recipe as it was printed. I'll note my changes at the end. (I've always wanted to say that!)

What you need:
1 pkg. (8 oz.) fat-free cream cheese
3/4 cup reduced fat peanut butter
1 can (14 oz.) fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 carton (12 oz.) frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
2 reduced fat graham cracker crusts (8 in.)
1/4 cup chocolate syrup
1/4 cup finely chopped unsalted peanuts

What you do:
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in milk and vanilla until blended. Fold in whipped topping. Pour into crusts. Cover and freeze for 8 hours or overnight.

Remove from the freezer 10 minutes before serving. Drizzle with syrup and sprinkle with peanuts. Store leftovers in the freezer.

My changes:
I used 1/3 fat reduced cream cheese. The fat free stuff just isn't the same. That's all.
I couldn't find fat free condensed milk, so I used the regular, full fat stuff.
I used Oreo crusts instead of graham cracker. I mean really...chocolate and peanut butter is THE best combination!
I sprinkled chopped Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, not peanuts, on top.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Chicken and Spinach with Parmesan Asiago Cream Sauce

This recipe is partly Giada, partly Olive Garden, and partly my creation. In other words, it's delicious and there are so many different creations you could make with it, which is a great asset for any dish. Since I haven't written it down the 3 or 4 times I've made this, I am hoping this is a close rendition. Thankfully, it's not a science. Here are some of the many options in addition to, or instead of, spinach and red bell pepper: artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, diced tomatoes, zucchini, squash, and carrots. Also try shrimp or pancetta in place of chicken.

Chicken and Spinach with Parmesan Asiago Cream Sauce

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
3-4 Tbsp. Wildtree grapeseed oil (either natural, butter flavored, or roasted garlic)
1 lb. bowtie pasta
16 oz. fresh spinach
1 1/2 cups half-n-half or heavy cream (to cut the fat, use half milk)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic (or to your liking)
1 cup shredded Asiago cheese
1/4-1/2 cup fresh, shredded Parmesan cheese
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup white wine (optional)

How to Make It:
1) Make pasta according to package. Drain and set aside.
2) Heat 3 Tbsp. grapeseed oil in a large skillet and brown chicken until no longer pink. Remove from skillet and keep warm.
3) Heat remaining tablespoon of grapeseed oil in skillet and add garlic and spinach; cook until mostly wilted. Add cream/milk and season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until spinach is completely wilted.
4) Add cheeses and chicken. Heat until hot and cheese has melted. Add pasta and mix well.


Thursday, June 17, 2010


Several weeks ago, my dad turned 70. If you don't know our family and if you haven't read about our living situation, I'll just briefly mention that we're blessed to live in my parents' old home (the house in which I grew up), and my parents live right down the hill from our house. Consequently, they come for dinner almost every evening. My dad's birthday was no exception; and as I thought about what to make for such a special occasion, I settled on meatloaf.

Meatloaf isn't grand, I know; but it is good and hearty and filling and can be moist and delicious and it is a favorite of my dad's (although he likes everything...except avocado...but he'll even eat that uncomplainingly if it's served to him), but I rarely remember to make it! On the night of his birthday, I used a recipe for Pot Roast Meat Loaf from Country Home Cooking by Marjorie Rohrer; but I made two changes to it so that I could combine my three favorite meatloaf features. Here is the original recipe:

What You Need
1 lb. ground beef
2/3 c. canned milk
1/3 c. cracker crumbs
1/4 c. ketchup
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 potatoes
3 onions
3 carrots

What You Do
Mix first seven ingredients together in a bowl. Shape into a loaf. Place in center of a 9 x 13 pan. Wash potatoes, onions, and carrots; and chop into chunks. Place veggies around meat in pan. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper and parsley. Cover tightly with foil. Bake 1 hour at 375 degrees. Uncover and bake 20 more minutes to brown meat.

I used this recipe because it included one of my favorite parts of a good meatloaf: the veggies around the edges that absorb the grease :) and all the yummy flavor. But there were two more things I wanted to do with it. One was to include a layer of cheese in the middle of the meatloaf; that's how I remember my mother making it--almost like a cheeseburger meatloaf--so as I put the meat mixture into the baking pan, I simply put half down, added some cheese on top, then placed the rest of the meat mixture on top of that. The third aspect of a delicious meatloaf, in my opinion, is a ketchup-based topping, so I mixed 1 cup ketchup, 2 tsp. mustard, and 2 tbsp. brown sugar, then spread that over the top of the meat. And then, finally, it was ready to bake, with all three of my favorites included. :)

Happy loafing!

I feel a recipe is only a theme, which an intelligent cook can play each time with a variation.
~ Madam Benoit


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Broccoli Salad

This recipe is from my Simply in Season Cookbook.  I am trying to expand my cooking horizons and trying different recipes from this cookbook.  This would be a HUGE hit at a potluck and require very little effort.

3 c. Broccoli Florets
1 c. Raisins
10 slices of bacon (fried, crumbled) or 1/2 c. Bacon Bits
1/2 c. Red Onion
1/2 c. Raw Sunflower Seeds
1/2 c. Cheese (shredded, optional)

Mix together in a large bowl.  Set aside.

2 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
3/4 c. plain yogurt or mayonnaise

Combine sugar and vinegar and stir to dissolve.  Stir in yogurt/mayo until well blended.  Pour over broccoli mixture and stir together.

My only alteration: I used turkey bacon instead of the real thing.  And I prefer mayo over yogurt.  Just my preference.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Crumb Cake

This is a great recipe for a brunch or even as dessert after a light lunch. Easy and delicious!

What you need:
3 cups of flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg
1 cup of milk

What to do:
Mix together the flour through cinnamon. Reserve one cup for topping. Add egg and milk. Pour into an 8 x 8* pan and add topping. Double for a 9 x 13. Bake in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.

*I've made this recipe twice, and I think a larger pan size is necessary. The first time I made, I pulled the cake out at the specified time and and it wasn't baked through in the middle at all. The second time I was aware to watch for this and took careful measures to make the sure the middle baked through. It took probably 15-20 minutes longer, aluminum foil around the edges, and the cake ended up being drier than I would like. I would suggest using a 9x9 or 11x7 pan instead.

Recipe courtesy of my good friend Amy!


Friday, June 11, 2010

Chocolate Cobbler

The only place I've ever had chocolate cobbler is at a local buffet restaurant here. We only go about twice a year and this is the only thing I get for dessert. it's just so good that I had to find a recipe for it. I finally found one from, and it was exactly what I was hoping for! Serve it warm from the oven with some all natural Breyers vanilla ice cream. Oh my...delicious.

Chocolate Cobbler

12 Tbsp. butter
2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
2 1/2 cups boiling water

How to Make It:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in 9x13 dish while oven is preheating.
2) In bowl stir flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and 3 Tbsp. cocoa. Stir in milk and vanilla until smooth. Spoon over melted butter in dish.
3) Stir together remaining sugar and 1/2 cup cocoa. Sprinkle over batter. Slowly pour boiling water over mixture.
4) Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until set.

*This recipes is doubled. If you want to make half in an 8x8 dish, just do half of all the ingredients except the water. Use 1 1/2 cups instead of 2 1/2.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sesame chicken couscous salad

Have you discovered couscous? It's a popular grain dish in the Middle East and North Africa, and it has the versatility of pasta with a shorter cooking time and a delightful light texture. Made from semolina wheat grains coated with flour, couscous is as suited to salads as stews.

This recipe, found on page 50 of Simply In Season (a book you absolutely must have if you have a thriving garden or a CSA share), uses couscous as a base for a crunchy, Asian-inspired vegetable salad that can be served cold or at room temperature.

The only change I made was to use whole wheat couscous instead of the conventional stuff. We eat couscous a lot, and we feel the whole grain version has a much fuller, sweeter flavor. If you can find it, I highly recommend whole wheat couscous.

Sesame chicken couscous salad

Here's the cast of characters:
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 teaspoons soy sauce, divided
2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
1 cup uncooked whole wheat couscous
2 green onions, sliced
1 large red sweet pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas or snow peas
3/4 cup broccoli florets
1 cup cooked chicken
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Here's how it plays out:
bine chicken broth, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil and bring to a boil. Place couscous in large bowl and stir in boiling liquid. Cover and let stand 7 minutes. Fluff with fork. Stir in green onions and red peppers and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, steam peas 1 minute. Add broccoli and steam 2 more minutes or until crisp-tender. Rinse in cold water and drain. Add steamed vegetables and cooked chicken to couscous mixture and continue to refrigerate.

For the dressing, mix together lemon juice, olive oil, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, pepper, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Mix into couscous salad. Just before serving, stir in slivered almonds and sesame seeds.

This is a great summer picnic dish because it's full of summer veggies and it tastes best at room temperature. Happy picnicking!


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dried Beef Casserole

This is something my Grandma would make every time we went to her house.  It is a very easy dish, something you throw together before you go to bed at night.

2 c. milk
1/4 lb Cheddar Cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp Onions, chopped (optional)
2 c. Dry Macaroni
1/4 Dried Beef, shredded into small pieces
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup-check out this link for a gluten free version of the creamed soups

Mix all the ingredients together and let set overnight.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

If you use gluten free pasta, I have found that you need to add a little bit more milk.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

1 3/4 cups bread flour
1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 cup sour cream
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 vanilla extract

How to Make It:
1) Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl, and make a well in the center of mixture. Combine sour cream and next 3 ingredients; add to dry mixture, stirring just until moistened.
2) Spoon batter into greased muffins pans, filling two-thirds full.
3) Bake at 400 degrees for 17-18 minutes or lightly browned. Remove from pans immediately, and cool on wire on racks.
4) Combine powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla in a small bowl, stirring until smooth. Drizzle glaze over muffins and let glaze set.

Yield: 1 dozen

From the Southern Living Cookbook


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Moroccan Chicken

Chicken - you just gotta love it. For versatility, it can't be beat since there are so many ways to fix it. If you're looking for a different twist, try this recipe which is fairly healthy, inexpensive, quick, and easy. I think "easy" is the common denominator in all the recipes I post! :)

What You Need
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 c. chicken broth
1 c. dried apricots (halved) or raisins
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. cumin

What You Do
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Combine chickpeas, broth, and apricots or raisins in baking dish. Arrange chicken on top of chickpea mixture. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, cinnamon, and cumin. Cover and bake about 25 minutes until chicken is done.

Food Talk

When was the last time you said somebody didn't know beans about something or said the fog was as thick as pea soup?

We really take the cake when it comes to using foods as a figure of speech. For example, when things go right, they are in apple pie order, and life is a bowl of cherries. But when they go wrong, we're in a pickle.

If a man is important, he's top banana. If he's clumsy, he's butterfingered. If he's cowardly, he's chicken livered. If he's poised, he's cool as a cucumber. If he talks too much, he spills the beans, and if he doesn't talk, he clams up.

Moreover, he doesn't earn money, he earns dough, or he brings home the bacon. If he's working for peanuts, his wife may egg him on to butter up the boss.

If something is good, it's a peach. If it's bad, it's a lemon, or some will say it's just sour grapes.

If you're not worth your salt, you may wind up eating humble pie...and that would be getting your just desserts.

And now, just to ice the cake, I want to say that you may take most of these claims with a grain of salt.

~ from Country Home Cooking
by Marjorie Rohrer


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Baked Spaghetti

I don't remember where I got this recipe but it is a hit when I do make it.  Meaning my husband eats half of the dish and doesn't leave many leftovers for the next day.

8 oz. Spaghetti-cooked and drained
1/2 c. Parmesan Cheese
1 egg lightly beaten
1 lb Ground Beef- cooked/drained
2 c. Spaghetti Sauce
1 pkg (8 oz) Shredded Mozzarella Cheese-top w/ cheese

Cook the spaghetti and cook the hamburger.  Then throw everything together, mix well, put in a dish, then top with the Mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  I always have these ingredients on hand and can whip this up in an emergency.

I used Tinkyada Rice Spaghetti noodles to make this a gluten free dish in our house.


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