Sunday, July 31, 2011

philly cheese steaks

This sandwich is delicious.  This was not the first time I've made it but it had been a while so I happily anticipated dinner tonight.  You've got to try it.  Really.  For more great Rachael Ray recipes go to Saturdays with Rachael Ray.

mikey from philly cheese steaks (Rachael Ray cookbook, can't recall which one)
1 1/2 pounds thick-cut sirloin (I bought thinly sliced)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
coarse salt and coarse black pepper
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
5 garlic cloves, 3 chopped and 2 cracked from the skin
1 large loaf ciabatta bread or other chewy Italian bread (or to simplify buy garlic bread)
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, a couple of generous handfuls
1/2 cup dry red wine (I omitted)
1/2 cup beef stock
1 cup tomato sauce
3 tablespoons capers, drained and coarsely chopped
a fistful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely c hopped
8-ounce chunk sharp provolone cheese (I used sliced provolone)

Slice the meat very thin with a sharp knife, working against the grain.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the EVOO in a large nonstick pan over high heat.  When the oil ripples, add the meat slices and sear them for a minute or two to caramelize evenly all over- keep the meat moving with tongs.  Season the meat slices with salt and pepper, remove to a platter, and tent loosely with foil.  Go two more times around the pan with the EVOO and reduce the heat to medium high.  Add the peppers, onions, and chopped garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.
Preheat the broiler to high and place the rack on the second highest position.  Arrange the bread on a broiler pan and toast until golden.  Once toasted, rub the bread with the garlic, drizzle with EVOO and top with grated Pecorino Romano and some black pepper.  Slice the bread back under the broiler to melt the cheese, 45 seconds.  Remove the bread and reserve, keeping the broiler on.
Add the wine to the vegetables and cook down for 1 minute.  Add the stock then the tomato sauce, capers and parsley and bring to a bubble.  Slice the meat (I sliced mine) and any juices back into the pan and heat through for 2 to 3 minutes.
Shred the provolone with a box grater or slice thin.  Pile the meat and vegetables evenly over the loaf of bread and cover with the provolone.  Place the gi-gundo-size sandwiches under the broiler to melt the cheese until bubbly.  Cut each open-faced sammy into 4 sections, transfer to each plate with a large spatula, and serve.

italian sodas

At the Relief Society meeting last week where I learned some authentic Italian recipes, we started the evening with Italian sodas.  My husband loves to create Italian sodas at home but since moving we hadn't had any in a while.  I bought a few syrups and took them to a friend's house for my birthday dinner last week (I'm 37...yikes!).  More recipes to follow- I had a really yummy birthday dinner. 

italian sodas (RS meeting, July 2011)
1.  Get a tumbler and fill it half way with ice
2.  Fill tumbler with Club Soda.
3.  Pour in 1-2 ounces flavored syrup.
4.  Add some whipped cream or a dash of heavy cream.
5.  Add a straw and enjoy.

What I have to say-  The Irish Cream was NOT a hit in the Italian sodas, however it's great in steamed milk.

Story time- For our first date my husband picked me up in his brown VW convertible (top down) and we drove to Berkeley to listen to a symphony on campus.  Afterwards we drove to a little cafe on University Ave. and sat and chatted while we drank steamed milk.  I wish I could remember what flavor he ordered that night.  We got to know each other and our second date was the following weekend.  I'm glad I didn't have to wait long because I was smitten.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

grandma castellano's spaghetti and meatballs

I went to a Relief Society meeting last week and Sis. Castellano shared a few of her mother-in-law's authentic Italian recipes with us.  When she passed around this basic marinara sauce with meatballs I was in heaven.  I knew I had to buy the ingredients right away and make it as soon as possible.  It's so easy to make and so fresh tasting.  I'm going to have leftovers tonight and I can't wait.

grandma castellano's spaghetti and meatballs (Sis. Castellano)
1 small onion, chopped* or 2 tablespoons dried onions
2 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped is fine
2 teaspoons sweet basil (dried)
2 teaspoons oregano (dried)
2 (28 ounce) cans whole tomatoes

Puree tomatoes and place in a 3-quart pot, add garlic, basil, oregano and salt and pepper to taste.  Add fresh onions (put onions in a small pan and cover with water; cook until water evaporates).  Simmer until ready to serve over hot pasta.

Mix together 1 egg and 1 minced garlic for each pound of ground pork.  Then add breadcrumbs, grated hard cheese (about 1/4 cup) and salt and pepper to taste.  Use just enough breadcrumbs to stick the meat together but not too much to make them dry.  Shape into balls and place on greased cookie sheet with a lip to catch the grease.  Bake for 20-25 minutes at 325 degrees then add to the sauce.  Simmer for at least an hour.

What I have to say-  I was too eager to eat these so I didn't let them simmer for an hour.  This spaghetti is so good!  Now I have two favorite marinara recipes.

blueberry crumb bars

When you have blueberries coming out your ears it's a good thing.  My husband loved these bars.  In fact, I think if I hadn't given half the pan away he'd have considered eating more of them.  I didn't think they were quite sweet enough on their own so I added a glaze to drizzle over the top and thought that was a must.

blueberry crumb bars (
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup shortening
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground cinnamon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375.  Grease a 9x13 pan.
In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder.  Mix in salt and cinnamon, if desired.  Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the shortening and egg.  Dough will be crumbly.  Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.
In another bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch.  Gently mix in the blueberries.  Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust.  Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.
Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown.  Cool completely before cutting into squares.

What I have to say- next time I will use butter instead of shortening.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

leslie's chopped salad

Last night we invited my friend Shelli and her family over for dinner to celebrate her birthday (we are exactly one week apart and attended Ricks at the exact same time).  We had a fiesta- carne asada tacos with pickled onions, beef taco bar, chips with salsas and guacamole dip and this chopped salad.  It was a really good salad and if I ever want to serve it as a main dish I'll throw in some grilled chicken.  Yum!  I loved the mango in the salad.  When my friend Annie sent the recipe she told me not to forget the mango.  I made a special trip to the store for that mango and I'm glad I did.  Not only was the salad delicious but I discovered a really, really cool market that I fell in love with.  This is good and bad...

leslie's chopped salad (my friend Annie passed it along)
1 head romaine, thinly shre4dded
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 ears of cooked corn, sliced off ear or 2 cups frozen corn thawed and drained
2 avocado, chopped
2 tomatoes, seeded and choppped
1 large mango, chopped
4 ounces feta cheese
1/2 bag of tortilla chips, crumbled (I forgot this part, dang it!)

lime-cumin vinegarette
9 limes, juiced
almost 1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground chili powder
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix lettuce and cilantro then top with the rest of the ingredients.  Shake the dressing together then toss with the salad.  You won't need all the dressing, so save some for later!

spicy blueberry pie

My kids and I went blueberry picking and raspberry picking this week and enjoyed it so much!  They're so much easier to pick than strawberries and I think they are both are my favorite berries.  I'd been wanting to make these pies for a while but each pie calls for 5 cups of blueberries so I waited until I could get to Oregon and pick them for around $1.50 per pound.  I think the raspberries were even cheaper.  AND I had a good excuse.  It was my friend Shelli's birthday.  We had her and her family over for dinner and needed dessert (I didn't know they were going to bring two beautiful cakes!!).  These pies were absolutely delicious.  They were worth the wait.  So if you can't get inexpensive berries, SPLURGE!
P.S.  I detest making pie crusts.  There's nothing I'd rather not make more than pie crusts (I just can't get them right) so I purchased Marie Callender's Deep Dish Pie Shells because I could not find the kind you thaw and unroll.  Instead of preparing dough for a lattice or shapes for the top of the pies as the recipe suggests, I added a crumb topping which was easy as pie and spared me a gigantic headache.

spicy blueberry pie (from the wumcha cookbook that my cousin Emily gave me years ago)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
5 cups fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 unbaked pie crusts
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon sugar

crumb topping
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 cup butter 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice, blueberries, lemon juice and butter, tossing gently.  Spoon mixture into one unbaked crust.  Cut remaining crust into lattice design.  Place over filling.  Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

panda express orange chicken

I'm not sure I've had the orange express chicken at panda express but this was great!  Orange chicken is my one of my kids' favorite dishes when order get take-out which isn't very often so this was a real treat for them.  The chicken is very good without the sauce, too.

panda express orange chicken (
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
white pepper
oil for frying
1/2 cup cornstarch plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon ginger root, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot red chili pepper
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon rice wine (I used rice vinegar)
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

orange sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons white vinegar
zest of one orange

Place chicken pieces in large bowl.
Stir in egg, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon oil and mix well.
Stir 1/2 cup constarch and flour together.  Mix flour mixture and egg mixture.  Add chicken pieces, stirring to coat.
Heat oil for deep-frying in wok or deep fryer to 375 degrees.  Add chicken, small batches at a time and fry 3 to 4 minutes or until golden crisp.
Remove chicken from oil with slotted spoon andb drain on paper towels; set aside.  Add ginger ad garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, about 10 seconds.  Add and stir-fry crushed chiles and green onions.  Add rice vinegar and stir 3 seconds.  Add orange sauce and bring to boil.  Add cooked chicken, stirring until well mixed.
Stir water into remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch until smooth and add to chicken.  Heat until sauce is thickened.  Stir in sesame oil and orange zest if desired.

What I have to say-  I used about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of oil in my wok and cooked the chicken all at once.  I made sure one side was nice and golden before flipping the chicken over and getting the second side golden.  Then I stir-fryed them until they were cooked.  I used much less oil this way.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

buffalo chicken and blue cheese wraps

My dream sandwich come true.  It was absolutely scrumptious and definitely made Hall of Fame.  I loved the combination of the ketchup and Red Hot as the "secret sauce".  Oh, and I used leftover chicken from my Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kabobs from the other night which was genius. 

buffalo chicken and blue cheese wraps (blog: Little Birdie Secrets)
kosher salt and pepper
2 (6 ounce) boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used leftover Rosemary Ranch Chicken)
2 tablespoons lowfat Greek or plain yogurt
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (I used seasoned rice vinegar)
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced on a diagonal
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 ounces blue cheese
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons buffalo wing sauce (such as Frank's Red Hot)
4 medium flour tortillas or wraps

If you are not using leftover chicken like I did, fill a medium saucepan halfway with water, bring to a boil and add 1 teaspoon salt.  Add the chicken, reduce heat and gently simmer until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.  Transfer to a plate, and when cool enough to handle, shred into pieces.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Add the celery and scallions and toss to coat; fold in the blue cheese.
In a second bowl, whisk together the ketchup and wing sauce.  Add the shredded chicken and toss to coat.  Wrap up the chicken and celery salad in the tortillas.

carolina-style barbecue chicken

This chicken was terrific!!!  I went into this recipe not knowing entirely what to expect and it went above and beyond my expectations.  It was a hit with the entire family.  Immediately following my husband's first bite he said, "Cam, this is good!".  I love recipes that keep us guessing.  Be sure to reserve some of the sauce as the recipe says to do.  Yum!

carolina-style barbecue chicken (adapted from Food Network Magazine, June 2011)
1/2 cup yellow mustard
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (2 to 2 1/4 pounds)
vegetable oil for brushing
1 large tomato, sliced

Preheat a grill to medium.  Whisk the yellow mustard, vinegar, brown sugar, hot sauce and soy sauce in a bowl.  Whisk in the butter.
Season the chicken wtih salt and pepper, then toss with about 1/3 of the mustard sauce in a large bowl until coated.  Let sit at room temperature, 10 minutes.
Brush the grill grates generously with vegetable oil.  Put about 1/4 cup of the remaining mustard sauce in a small bowl for basting and reserve the rest for topping.  Grill the chicken covered, basting occasionally with the sauce, until well marked abnd a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 170, 10 to 12 minutes per side.
Serve the chicken with the reserved mustard sauce, sliced tomato and mashed potatoes or potato salad, if desired.

What I have to say- the chicken took much, much longer to cook and my husband even had to put out a small fire!  We were all starving by the time we ate and had to warm up the mashed potatoes.

Monday, July 18, 2011

rosemary ranch chicken kabobs

We had these on Saturday night and boy were they terrific.  When my friend Erin K. told me about the recipe I had to trust her when she got to the ingredient "ranch dressing".  It's very subtle if you're not a "dip everything in Ranch dressing" kind of person.  And if you are, you'll love it just the same.  Definitely use the fresh rosemary.  I think this was the first time I bought fresh rosemary and it was $3 well spent.

rosemary ranch chicken kabobs (my friend Erin K. found it at
1/2 cup olive oil (I used 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup ranch dressing
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (I used soy sauce because I don't care for Worcestershire)
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
2 teaspoon salt (I omitted because I used soy sauce)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon white sugar or to taste (optional)
5 skinleess, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes

In a medium bowl, stir together the olive oil, ranch dressing, Worcestershire sauce (soy sauce), rosemary, salt, lemon juice, white vinegar, pepper and sugar.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Place chicken in the bowl and stir to coat with the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the grill for medium-high heat.  Thread chicken onto skewers and discard marinade.
Lightly oil the grill grate.  Grill skewers for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear.
I served mine over nutty brown rice.

annie's marinated blue cheese mushrooms

These mushrooms will knock your socks off.  They were love at first bite for me.  My friend Annie knows how much I love them so once gave them to me as a gift, tied up with a bow!

annie's marinated blue cheese mushrooms (my friend Annie)
1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup vegetable oil (I halved this)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar (still stocking my pantry so I used seasoned rice wine vinegar, fantastic!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons seasoning salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
hot sauce to taste (Frank's Red Hot)
2 cups fresh mushrooms, stems removed

In a medium bowl, mix together the blue cheese, vegetable oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, seasoning salt, white sugar, dry mustard and hot sauce.  Stir in the mushrooms.  Cover and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours before serving.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

homemade strawberry julius

Who doesn't love a nice strawberry drink in the summertime?!  This is a great strawberry drink.  It's not so much the "Strawberry Julius" I remember from when I was a kid but it's close enough.  My husband said, "That was the best strawberry julius I've ever had."  I've learned to follow up with a question that goes like this, "Was that your first strawberry julius?"  To which he responded, "It could be."  Which means it was.  He liked it.  The kids loved it and were tried to get the last drops out of the blender.
Oh, and if you don't have any glasses like we don't (too many broken glasses over the years to bother taking across the country) you can use a vase like I did!

homemade strawberry julius (blog:  Amy's Cooking Adventures)
1 1/2 cups (8 ounces) fresh strawberries, stems removed
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons meringue powder plus 2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cups sugar
2 cups ice

In a small bowl, whisk together the meringue powder and 2 tablespoons of water.
Pour the meringue mixture, strawberries, water, vanilla, sugar and ice into a blender.  Mix 2-3 minutes or until completely smooth.  Pour into glasses and garnish with additional strawberries.  Makes 3 drinks (if you make them the size I made mine you'll make about 2).

Friday, July 15, 2011

chicken and green bean stir fry with nutty brown rice

This dish was so simple to make and very enjoyable.  My two oldest spent more time out of their chairs getting more than they did in their chairs eating!  Perhaps my favorite part of this recipe was learning I can steam my own fresh veggies in a regular ziploc baggie!  Didn't think to sprinkle sesame seeds on top.  Next time.

chicken and green bean stir fry with nutty brown rice (blog: Home Based Mom)
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 pound green beans
2-3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger (I used 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder)
3 teaspoons garlic, minced
5 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons vinegar

Steam green beans by placing them in a ziploc baggie and microwaving on high for about 2 minutes until crisp-tender and bright green.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in pan over medium heat.  Add chicken, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until cooked through.  Remove chicken from pan.  Add remaining oil to pan and add green beans, garlic and ginger and stir fry for 1-2 minutes.  Add chicken back in.  Add soy sauce and vinegar and cook until sauce begins to thicken, about 2-3 minutes.

betty mae's oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

My grandma always made the best cookies.  At Christmastime she would make all sorts of varieties of cookies and it wasn't until I was grown and wanting to make plates of cookies that I realized how much work it was but she knew our family always looked forward to them.  I've always loved this cookie.
I took these cookies visiting teaching yesterday.  I left my older two kids home with a babysitter.  Did you hear that?  I just giggled.  Yes, it was great not to drag (yes, drag) four kids along.  They had a great time.  They played Pictionary (I never play that with them).  Then ate a cookie.  They played on the neighbor's swing.  Then ate a cookie.  They played ball outside.  Then ate a cookie.  This went on for 2 1/2 hours!  What could possibly be better than that- for everyone?!

betty mae's oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (my dear grandma)
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
3 cups oats
1/2 cup each raisins and chocolate chips
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup nuts, optional
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 tablespoon vanilla

Cream  shortening and sugars.  Add everything else except for the raisins and chocolate chips and mix until well mixed.  Add raisins and chocolate chips.  Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

blue-cheese stuffed chicken with buffalo sauce

We had this dish for dinner last night and it was super-fantastic.  I loved everything about it.  I loved the crispy coating on the chicken, the strong creamy filling and the spicy yet savory red peppers on top.  It was the perfect medley of textures and flavors.  My husband wasn't home for dinner but I do declare "Hall of Fame"!  I made half the chicken without the filling and my kids thought the chicken tasted just like chicken nuggets so they were happy and they were much healthier which made me happy too.

blue-cheese stuffed chicken with buffalo sauce (Cooking Light Magazine at
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 tablespoon reduced fat sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons reduced fat milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
6 tablespoons finely chopped drained bottled roasted red bell peppers
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (I used soy sauce since I dislike Worcestershire)
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl.  Cut a horizontal slit through thickest portion of each chicken breast half to form a pocket.  Stuff cheese mixture evenly into pockets.
Place flour in a shallow dish.  Combine milk and egg in a shallow dish.  Working with 1 chicken breast half at a time, dredge chicken in flour, then dip in egg mixture; dredge in panko.  Repeat procedure with remaining chicken, flour, egg mixture and panko.
Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon butter to pan; swirl until butter melts.  Arrange chicken in pan; cook 4 minutes or until browned.  Turn chicken over; place skillet in oven.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until done.
While chicken bakes, combine remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons butter, bell peppers, water, Worcestershire (soy sauce!), and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer; cook until butter melts.  Remove from heat, and stir in hot sauce.  Serve sauce with chicken.  Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

ultimate chocolate chip cookies

Our neighbors at a diagonal walked down the street and delivered these "ultimate" cookies the week we moved in.  They have all boys and were probably shocked by all the giggling at our home.  My girls really like their boys (they're pretty cute!).  Mostly, my girls like to torture their youngest, who is the same age as my oldest.  It turns out my husband works with this neighbor (spent yesterday with him) and on Sunday this neighbor was sustained as our new bishop and I'm his wife's visiting teaching companion.  Their 14-year old son made these cookies, which I was thoroughly impressed by.  Thoroughly impressed!!  (His mother said she'll go out for a while and come back to freshly baked cookies.)  They were delicious!  I don't think 14-year old boys are accustomed to handing out recipes but I do know he used the recipe from the back of  butter flavor Crisco sticks.

ultimate chocolate chip cookies (Crisco)
3/4 stick Crisco Baking Sticks Butter Flavor All-Vegetable Shortening
or 3/4 cup Crisco Butter Flavor All-Vegetable Shortening
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 (6 ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)

Heat oven to 375.
Combine shortening, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl.  Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended.  Beat in egg.  Combine flour, salt and baking soda.  Mix into shortening mixture until just blended.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
Drop by rounded measuring tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes for chewy cookies or 11 to 13 minutes for crisp cookies.  Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet on a cooling rack.  Remove cookies to rack to cool completely.
If nuts are omitted, add an additional 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.

What I have to say- our neighbor friend used milk chocolate chips and white chocolate chips in these cookies.

Monday, July 11, 2011

dinner rolls

I do my best to go to the grocery store once each week but I went to the store about 3 times this past week.  Even so, each time I forgot to get rolls for our pepperoncini beef sandwiches.  It wasn't all bad because I found a nice recipe.  I didn't need quite so many rolls (36) so I halved the recipe.

dinner rolls (
2 1/2 cups warm milk
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons salt
7 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed (I needed more)
1/2 cup butter, melted

Pour milk into the large mixing bowl and sprinkle yeast over the surface.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Beat in the sugar, eggs, 1/2 cup butter and salt; blend thoroughly.  Gradually stir in the flour to make a soft dough.  Cover bowl, and set in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour. (I made the dough then left for church for 3 hours and came home and rolls them into balls and baked them.  They worked incredibly well!).  Punch down the dough, cover the bowl, and allow to rise again.  Repeat this step two more times.
Break off 2 to 3 inch size pieces of dough, roll lightly into round shape, and place in prepared baking dish, edges touching (I used a baking sheet and mine didn't touch).  Repeat to make 36 dough balls.  Cover and let rise until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake rolls in preheated oven until tops are golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.  When rolls are finished baking, drizzle melted butter over the top and serve warm.

pepperoncini beef sandwiches

I've always loved pepperoncinis.  I love them in sandwiches, salads or I've been known to buy a huge jar at Costco and eat them right out of the jar.  I've even been known to throw pepperoncini-eating contests so when I saw this recipe I knew I'd like it.

pepperoncini beef sandwiches (blog: Our Best Bites)
1/2 + teaspoon salt
1/2 + teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 pound beef roast, trimmed of excess fat
4-5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 (16 ounce) jar sliced pepperoncinis, undrained
crusty sandwich rolls (I'll post the recipe I used)
sliced provolone cheese, for sandwiches

Heat oil in a pot of high-sided skillet over high heat.  While the oil is heating, combine the salt and pepper and rub it into the meat.  Add more if necessary.  When the oil is hot, sear the roast on all sides so the outside of it is browned and a little crispy.  Transfer the roast to a slow cooker and add the minced garlic and the entire jar of the pepperoncinis.  If possible, cook on high until the liquid comes to a boil and then turn it to low and cook until the roast shreds with a fork, for a total cooking time of 6-8 hours.  If not possible, cook on low for 8-10 hours or until the beef is fork tender.
For sandwiches, slice the rolls and spread lightly with mayonnaise then top with the shredded beef.  Add a slice of provolone cheese and then place under the broiler for 1-3 minutes or until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted (we were too impatient to do this after church!).  Serve immediately.  Makes 12 large sandwiches.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

cherry chocolate cake

I took dinner to a friend tonight and we enjoyed the same meal at our house.  I forgot how good this layered chicken and bean enchilada casserole is.  We had mexican marinated carrots on the side and I made this cake for dessert.  I had been chatting with my friend Erin on the phone and she said she had the greatest meal the other night.  She told me about the main dishes which sounded splendid but laughed when I asked about the dessert.  Yes, it's simple but it's GREAT!  I think I'll be sure to have a chocolate cake mix and can of cherry pie filling on hand.
P.S.  The next night we ate leftover cake with a scoop of ice cream on top and leftover icing warmed and melted then drizzled on top.  That's the way to do it!

cherry chocolate cake (my friend Erin K. found it at
1 (18.25) package chocolate cake mix
1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
5 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Mix with a spoon (not an electric mixer) the cake mix, cherry pie filling, eggs and almond extract until moistened.  Spread into a 9x13 greased pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes.
To make frosting, bring sugar, butter and milk to a boil.  Boil for 1 minute.  Add chocolate chips; stir until chips are melted.  Pour frosting over warm cake.  Cool.

Friday, July 8, 2011

zucchini bread

When I saw that this zucchini bread contained orange zest I knew I should try this version.  Although I must admit I am surprised that I prefer it without the orange zest, my husband loved it.  He said it was much better than your typical zucchini bread.  I'd rather cater to his sweet tooth than mine so here it is:

zucchini bread (blog: Our Best Bites)
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
zest from one large orange
1/2 cup sour cream
3 cups grated zucchini
2/3 cups chopped pecans, toasted (optional)

2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour 2 loaf pans and set aside.
Combine flour, cinnamon, cloves, salt and baking soda in a bowl and whisk to combine.  Set aside.
Beat eggs, oil, sugars and vanilla for about 30 seconds.  Add sour cream and orange zest and beat to combine.  Mix in zucchini.
Add dry ingredients and mix just until combined.  Divide batter between 2 pans.  Sprinkle topping evenly over tops.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.  Make sure to let your loaf rest on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes before you try to remove it form the pan or it will come out in chunks!

What I have to say- maybe I wasn't sure about the orange flavor because I used a gigantic orange.  If I had used an average sized orange I think I would have enjoyed it more.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

crispy fish with lemon-dill sauce

This dish was exactly what I expected and was delicious.  This was the first time I used an actual broiler pan (there was a brand new one in my new cupboard!) and what a difference.  The fish was so crispy and delicious.  Great sauce, too.

crispy fish with lemon-dill sauce (Cooking Light Magazine, April 2010)
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 cup panko
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4 (6-ounce) skinless cod fillets (I used boneless, skinless tilapia)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
cooking spray
1/4 cup canola mayonnaise (I used light)
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill pickle
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
lemon wedges

Preheat broiler.
Place egg whites in a shallow dish.  Combine panko, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder in a shallow dish.  Sprinkle fish evenly with salt and pepper.  Dip each fillet in egg white then dredge in panko mixture; place on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray.  Broil 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.
Combine mayo, pickle, lemon juice, and dill.  Serve with fish and lemon wedges.

What I have to say-  I made chicken the same way as the fish for our non-fish loving children.  The kids enjoyed it!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

store bought favorite: japanese golden curry

During my freshmen year at college, my roommate made this golden curry for us (we often cooked for each other) and I was hooked.  I enjoyed making it for years until I moved to PA when I couldn't find the sauce mix.  Now that I am in OR I noticed it on the shelf and grabbed it right up.  Oh how I missed it!  I can't read Japanese so I make it the way my roommate made it.  You can use shrimp or any veggies you desire.

japanese golden curry (the way my roommate Chelsea made it)
1 S&B Golden Curry sauce mix
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced
1 pound steak, sliced ( I used flank steak)
1/2 pound small red potatoes, diced
1 onion, sliced or diced
1/2 pound carrots, sliced

Pour a little olive oil in a large wok and stir fry the meat until done.  Add the onions, potatoes and carrots and continue to cook for a few minutes.  Add 2 1/2 cups water and the curry sauce mix.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.  Serve over rice.  (I used leftover jasmine rice with zucchini)

Monday, July 4, 2011

puerto rican chicken and potatoes

This is Puerto Rican comfort food and I have to say it was definitely comforting.  I enjoyed every bite of this delicious dish.  The potatoes were cooked to perfection as was the chicken.  It was so tender and juicy!  I only wish there had been more sauce because it was so flavorful but I'm always looking for more sauce.  Happy 4th of July, everyone!!  We all have so much to be grateful for and so much to celebrate!

puerto rican chicken and potatoes (Rachael Ray Magazine, April 2010)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I omitted)
4 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1 onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1/2 pound small red potatoes, halved
1 (8 ounce) can Spanish-style tomato sauce, such as Goya
chopped cilantro for sprinkling

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the skillet (I put skin side down to avoid having to use the oil).  Cook, turning once, until golden, about 5 minutes; transfer to a plate.
Using a food processor, puree the onion.  Add to the reserved skillet along with the garlic, scraping up any browned bits.  Puree the red pepper and add to the skillet along with the cumin and bay leaf.  Increase the heat to medium-high and stir in the potatoes, tomato sauce and 1 cup water.  Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the chicken, skin side up; cover and simmer, stirring, until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.  Discard the bay leaf.  Top with cilantro.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

grilled chicken and oranges with zucchini rice

Grilled oranges?  Who'd have thought?!  These skewers are expert.  My husband declared them "Instant Hall of Fame" after the first bite and the rest of us agreed.  My kids even ate more rice than usual.  You did it again, Real Simple!

grilled chicken and oranges with zucchini rice (Real Simple Magazine, May 2011)
1 cup long grain white rice (I used jasmine rice in a rice cooker)
1 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 small red onion, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 navel orange, cut into 16 pices
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for the grill
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
kosher salt and black pepper

Soak 8 small wooden skewers in water for at least 15 minutes.
Cook the rice according to the package directions.  Remove from heat, sprinkle the zucchini over the rice, cover and let stand 5 minutes.  Fluff the rice with a fork and fold in the zucchini.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss the chicken, onion and orange with the oil, cumin, cayenne, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; thread onto skewers.  Heat a grill to medium, lightly oil the grate and grill the skewers, turning occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the onion is tender, 15 to 18 minutes.  Serve with the rice.

Friday, July 1, 2011

shrimp and grits

I thought I would enjoy this dish but I loved it. I didn't think my kids would care for this dish but they did- all four of them. My husband enjoyed it too. The flavor is bold and terrific. Two thumbs up!! This dish reminds me of my friend Karen from North Carolina who first introduced me to grits- cheesy grits. Don't you dare replace the grits in this dish with anything else. You'll love them.
If you like Rachael Ray recipes, check out Saturdays with Rachael Ray!

shrimp and grits (Rachael Ray Magazine, May 2011)
4 tablespoons butter (I used half that)
salt and pepper
1 cup grits
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 pounds kielbasa, thinly sliced (I used smoked turkey kielbasa)
4 ounces country ham, cut into strips
8 sea scallops
12 medium shrimp, deveined
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 pinch cajun seasoning

In a heavy saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir in the grits. Lower the heat, cover and simmer, stirring frequently, until tender, about 1 hour (I used quick grits so they took about 5 minutes to cook!). Stir in the cream and 1 tablespoon butter.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat 1 1/2 teaspoon butter over medium-high heat. Add the kielbasa and ham and cook until golden, 3 minutes; transfer to a plate. Melt 1 1/2 teaspoons butter in the skillet, add the scallops and shrimp, turning once for 3 minutes.
Add the remaining butter to the skillet. Add the tomatoes, garlic, scallions, cajun seasoning and 1/4 cup water and cook until softened (I didn't need to add any water). Stir in the reserved seafood and meat and cook until heated through; season with slat and pepper. Serve the grits topped with the seafood-meat mixture.