Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Bwa ha ha ha! No, I didn't gouge out someone's orange bloodshot eyeballs or tear off a witch's fingers. These sweet confections are all in the name of Halloween. Even food can get a little spooky at this time of year.

The eyeballs are a more festive version of buckeyes. They are peanut butter balls dipped in white candy coating and the pupils are M&M's.

As for the fingers, they couldn't be easier. They are marzipan (if you love almonds, you'll love these).

The next recipe is for bone bread sticks. My bread sticks didn't turn out nearly as pretty as the ones that the folks at Rhodes Dough made. My church is at 1 p.m. and I had to be there early for our Primary program, so the rolls had a lot more time to rise than the recipe called for. As a result, my rolls turned out a little...let's just say they're "big boned" rather than chubby.

Then, of course, there is a lovely Halloween cheese ball.

To drink? Brew Ha Ha Punch.

And for dessert? Ghosts in the Graveyard!

Who could resist this holiday?

Peanut Butter Eyeballs


1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
3 tablespoons butter, chopped
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 ounces white chocolate candy coating
1 small bag M&M's candy
Red decorating frosting or decorating gel


In the bowl of a large mixer, blend peanut butter and butter until creamy.

Add powdered sugar and vanilla to peanut butter mixture and continue beating until it looks smooth.

Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or waxed paper.

Using a spoon, scoop out a ball of peanut butter and roll between your palms to get them as round as possible. Place on the cookie sheet and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Place the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Stir thoroughly until it is smooth.

Dip the peanut butter balls into the white chocolate candy coating. You can use two forks or spoons to balance the candy on, or just grasp it in your fingers and roll it around until it is covered completely. Return it to the cookie sheet and proceed to dip the rest of the peanut butter balls.

While the chocolate is still wet, press an M&M candy into the center for the iris.

Return the eyes to refrigerator to harden.

Once the eyeballs are firm, you can use the red decorator frosting or gel to make squiggly blood vessels.

Source: recipe created by Elizabeth LaBau. You can find the recipe here.

Notes: I've used the frosting and the gel to make the blood vessels. Both work great, but the gel is a little easier to control.

Marzipan Fingers


7 ounces marzipan, homemade or purchased
8 whole blanched almonds or 8 pieces of sliced almonds
Red food coloring
Small, food-safe paintbrush


Pour a small amount of red food coloring on a small plate, and use a small paintbrush to paint the almonds with food coloring. Set painted almonds aside to dry while you form the fingers.

Coat your hands with powdered sugar, or use plastic gloves. Knead the marzipan until it has softened slightly. Divide the marzipan into 8 equal pieces.

Working with one piece at a time, roll the marzipan between your palms so that it forms a thin tube. Work the tube until it resembles a finger: pinch small sections close together, leaving other sections wider to resemble knuckles. Use a toothpick or knife to create ridges on the knuckles.

Taper one end of the finger, and press an almond firmly into the end to resemble a fingernail. Using your nails, fray the other end of the finger so that it looks severed. Dip the severed end of the finger into food coloring (or paint the finger with the paintbrush) and place the finger on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining marzipan and almonds.

Store marzipan fingers in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, or freeze well-wrapped marzipan fingers for up to 3 months.

Source: recipe created by Elizabeth LaBau. You can find the recipe here.

Notes: I skipped the severed finger part of the recipe. I was running short on time and thought that the fingers looked great without the "blood" on the bottom. Also, I couldn't find blanched almonds, so I used sliced almonds. Finally, rather than painting each almond with red food coloring, I simply put them in a plastic sandwich baggie and put the food coloring in the bag. I then swished around the almonds and food coloring until the almonds were completely coated. I then put the almonds on a paper plate covered in a paper towel to blot them and let them dry completely.

Bone Chillin' Breadsticks

Serves 12


12 Rhodes Dinner Rolls, thawed, but still cold
1/4 cup butter, melted
Parmesan cheese
Poppy seeds
Garlic salt (this isn't part of the original recipe--it's my addition)


Using the flat of your hand, roll the center part of a roll into a 6-inch rope leaving both ends large and rounded. With scissors, clip 1 1/2 inches into the center of each end. Separate and lay the cut sides flat on a large sprayed baking pan. They will look like bones. Brush well with melted butter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, poppy seeds, and garlic salt to taste.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise about 20-30 minutes. Remove wrap and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Source: Rhodes Dough recipe. You can find the recipe and a picture of the bread sticks on their website here.

Cheddar Cheese Ball


1 1/4 pounds extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup dry sherry (see notes)
1 1/4 tsp. coarse salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/3 cup poppy seeds


Process all ingredients except poppy seeds in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl lined with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Unmold onto a plate, Press poppy seeds evenly over surface, rounding top. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 2 days.

Source: Martha Stewart website. You can find it here.

Notes: I didn't use the sherry (I'm pregnant! I know it's not a lot of alcohol, but I'm not taking any chances). I don't cook with alcohol anyway. Instead, I used about 1/6 cup red wine vinegar mixed with 1/6 cup water (to equal 1/3 cup liquid).

Brew Ha Ha Punch

Yield: 4 quarts


2 quarts water
2 (0.13 ounce) pkgs. Green Lemon-Lime Kool Aid
1 (46 ounce) can pineapple juice
1 quart ginger ale


Stir together sugar and 2 quarts water until sugar is dissolved. Stir in remaining ingredients. Chill.

Note: For a scary presentation, place punch bowl into a larger bowl, and add dry ice to larger bowl.

Source: Southern Living, October 1998. You can find it here.
Ghosts in the Graveyard


2 pkgs. (3.9 oz each) Jell-O Chocolate Instant Pudding
3 cups cold milk
1 tub (12 oz) Cool Whip whipped topping, thawed, divided
15 Oreo cookies, crushed (about 1 1/2 cups)
Assorted decorations: Milan sandwich cookies, decorating gel, candy pumpkins, candy corn pieces


Beat pudding mixes and milk in large bowl with whisk 2 min. Let stand 5 min. Stir in 3 cups Cool Whip and half the cookie crumbs. Spread into 13x9 inch dish; sprinkle with remaining crumbs.

Refrigerate 1 hour. Meanwhile, decorate creme sandwich cookies with decorating gel to resemble tombstones.

Insert decorated cookies into top of dessert just before serving. Add candies. Drop large spoonfuls of remaining Cool Whip onto dessert to resemble ghosts.

Source: Kraft recipes website. You can find it here.

Notes: My son wasn't feeling well today, so dessert was rushed. As a result, the ghosts didn't actually make it into the graveyard tonight. But the graveyard looked cute--even without the ghosts!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Oktoberfest...Take Two!

My sister has already shared her Oktoberfest discoveries that she made in Ohio. Now it's time for me to share the discoveries we made in Utah!

My mom already had a very successful Oktoberfest about two weeks ago. She made a lovely slow cooker sauerbraten, yummy red cabbage, and name a few. In addition to the wonderful dishes she made, she obtained some fantastic brats from Costco as well as some delicious German pretzels, mustard, and brat buns from Siegfried's Delicatessen. You can find more information about Siegfried's here. We were all stuffed after that meal, I can assure you.

I decided to do a little Oktoberfest recipe sleuthing of my own. I found a yummy (and oh so easy) slow cooker brats and sauerkraut recipe. I also turned to one of my recipe staples--Everyday Food--and found the scrumptious recipes for pork (similar to a traditional wiener schnitzel), red cabbage, and German potato salad that are pictured above. This actually turned out to be somewhat of a traumatic meal for me because something went wrong with everything I made that night! But luckily, these recipes were very forgiving and even though I messed up in one way or another with each of them, they still tasted delicious. You'll have to read my notes for those recipes to avoid the blunders that I made!

But, let me stress that the error does not lie in the recipes, but in the fact that I was just having one of those cooking days where I kept flubbing up! The recipes, themselves, are fantastic.

I have included my Mom's Oktoberfest discoveries at the end (sauerbraten beef, German red cabbage, and rye bread dip) in addition to our Oktoberfest favorites from years past (caraway sauerkraut, German-style potato salad, and apple strudel).

Ahhh, and isn't it a pity that October has come to an end (fall is my very favorite time of year, after all)? But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy Oktoberfest/German themed meals anymore!

Slow Cooker Brats


2 packages fresh bratwurst links (10 brats)
1/4 cup butter
2 cans beef broth
2 onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2-3 cups sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
10 (6 inch) bratwurst buns


In a slow cooker, combine the butter, beef broth, onions, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, minced garlic, brown sugar, and sauerkraut. Place bratwurst on top over all. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

The slow cooking imparts a wonderful flavor to the bratwurst. It makes them very tender. If, like me, you prefer to have brats that are browned and slightly crispy on the outside, remove them from the slow cooker and place them on a foil covered jelly roll pan and broil on high for 1-2 minutes or until browned to your taste.

Serve bratwurst on buns topped with sauerkraut/onion mixture or plain on top of sauerkraut/onion mixture.

Source: I modified this from a recipe that I found on originally entitled "On Wisconsin Beer Brats" and submitted by Dgoodcookr.

Notes: The original recipe called for beer in place of the beef broth. But I honestly can't tell the difference in taste and I prefer not to buy beer personally. It also called for 4 onions and only 1 cup of sauerkraut (and a lot more butter). I altered the recipe to fit my own tastes. Oh, and the potato salad pictured below was unimpressive. I had to add a lot more ingredients at the last minute to make it more flavorful (in the end, it was good, but the recipe was not worth posting).

Rye-Crusted Pork Medallions


3-4 sliced rye bread with caraway seeds
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
1 large egg
1 1/2 pounds boneless center-cut pork loin, sliced into 8 medallions (each 1/2 inch thick)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Grainy mustard, for serving (optional)


In a food processor, pulse enough of the bread to measure 2 cups of coarse crumbs. Transfer to a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. In another large bowl, whisk the egg with 1 tablespoon water.

Season the pork on both sides with salt and pepper. Dip each medallion in the egg mixture with one hand, then use the other hand to dredge in the breadcrumbs. Transfer to a plate.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place half the medallions in the skillet; cook until the pork is golden brown and the center is no longer pink, 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; wipe the skillet clean. Repeat with the remaining medallions in the remaining oil. Serve with the mustard on the side, if desired.

Serves 4.

Source: Everyday Food: Great Food Fast cookbook (ISBN #978-0-307-35416-7)

Notes: I had to double this recipe and rather than purchasing 1 1/2 pounds of pork loin, I got 3 lbs. of pork tenderloin (the only difference being that it simply makes for a smaller pork medallion). Also, I cooked this meal on my in-law's stove-top (they have a gas stove-top and this particular stove-top makes it very difficult to regulate the temperature). The first batch of pork was beautifully browned and gorgeous on the outside and cooked according to the directions at 4 minutes per side. The problem? The inside of the pork was pink, pink, pink. I cooked the next batch longer at a higher heat...the problem? The inside was done and the breading got charred!

If your stove-top is similar to mine and you have a difficult time regulating the heat, here's my advice: brown the breaded pork until it is absolutely gorgeous and then place the pork on a foil-lined jelly roll pan and place it in the oven at 425 degrees and bake for 10-20 minutes (or until the center is no longer pink). Had I done this at the time, it would have been a huge a time-saver (especially if you double the recipe like I did). I had to do A LOT of batches (at least 4 or 5) to cook all of the pork and at 8-10 minutes per batch, the time added up. The good news? This is a very forgiving recipe and even though some of the medallions got a littler more browned than I would have liked on the outside, it still tasted delicious.


Red Cabbage with Apple


2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 small head red cabbage, cored, quartered, and thinly sliced
1 green apple, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper


In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon until browned, 10 minutes. Add the onion; cook until soft, 5 minutes.

Add the cabbage, apple, vinegar, and 1/4 cup water. Cook stirring, until the cabbage wilts, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Cover; cook, stirring occasionally over medium-low heat to desired softness (if the mixture is sticking, add water), 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Serves 4.

Source: Everyday Food: Great Food Fast cookbook (ISBN #978-0-307-35416-7)

Notes: Again, as mentioned above, my in-law's stove-top burns hotter than the surface of the sun--even when you have it on low. When I covered the cabbage, I put the burner on low, rather than on medium-low, and it still scorched the bottom of my cabbage. Luckily, the whole thing didn't burn and I was able to salvage enough to feed everyone. So, if your stove-top also burns hotter than the flames of Hades, watch your cabbage very carefully. In my case, I could have skipped the step of covering and simmering the cabbage for 45 minutes to 1 hour completely and it would have been perfect. After wilting the cabbage, I could have cooked it for only about 10-15 minutes more uncovered and it would have been finished. Well, you live, you learn! And again, luckily, this was a very forgiving dish and it was still really yummy.

German Potato Salad


Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed
3 slices bacon (3 ounces), thinly sliced crosswise
1 small red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar, plus more for drizzling (optional)
3 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard


In a large saucepan, bring 1 inch water to a boil, add salt and potatoes, and reduce to a simmer. Cover; cook until potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife (but not falling apart), 25-30 minutes. Drain; cool slightly, and halve potatoes.

In a small skillet over medium heat, cook bacon, stirring often, until crisp, 3-5 minutes. Add onion, and cook, stirring often, until tender, 2-4 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vinegar and mustard.

Toss bacon mixture with warm potatoes. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with more vinegar (about 1 tablespoon), if desired. Serve warm.

Serves 4.

Source: Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast cookbook, ISBN # 978-0-307-40510-4.

Notes: I accidentally overcooked the potatoes, so it turned into more of a German potato mash than a German potato salad. But it still tasted fantastic. Again, thank goodness for the fact that this recipe was forgiving. Next time, I would just watch the potatoes more closely to make sure that they didn't get too soft. After all, I love mashed potatoes, but that's not exactly the consistency that this salad is going for!


Sauerbraten Beef


2 lb beef stew meat (1 inch pieces)
2 medium onions, chopped (1 cup)
1 cup beef broth
1 cup red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
2 dried bay leaves
6 cups uncooked medium egg noodles or homemade spaetzle
3/4 cup crushed gingersnap cookies (about 15)
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Spray 3 1/2 to 4 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In slow cooker; mix beef, onions, broth, vinegar, and bay leaves.

Cover, cook on low heat setting 7-9 hours.

About 15 minutes before serving, cook and drain noodles as directed on package. Reove bay leaves from beef mixture. Stir in crushed cookies and brown sugar. Cover; cook on low heat setting 15 minutes longer or until mixture is bubbly and thickened. Serve beef mixture over noodles or spaetzle. Sprinkle with parsley.

Nutrition information: serving size=2 cups, 590 calories, 21 g fat, 140 mg cholesterol, 350 mg sodium, 59 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 39 g protein.

Source: Pillsbury Pot Pies & Casseroles cookbook, slow cooker shortcuts chapter.

German Red Cabbage


1 medium head red cabbage, cored and sliced
2 large tart apples, peeled and sliced
1 medium sweet onion, sliced and separated into rings
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon salt
6 whole peppercorns
2 whole allspice
2 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons cold water


In a Dutch oven, toss cabbage, apples, and onion. Add water, vinegar, sugar, butter, and salt. Place the peppercorns, allspice, cloves, and bay leaf on a double thickness of cheesecloth; bring up corners of cloth and stir with kitchen string to form a bag. Add to Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 1/4 hours.

Discard spice bag. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and cold water until smooth; stir in cabbage mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes until thickened.

Source:, submitted by Ardis Stauffer

Rye Bread Dip


1 1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp dill weed
2 tsp Beaumonde spice
2 tbsp parsley flakes
2 tbsp onion flakes
1 large loaf pumpernickel or rye bread (not sliced)


Cut top off loaf off of pumpernickel bread and scoop out center. Break scooped out bread into pieces. Mix all ingredients and fill scooped out bread with dip on a large dish. Put broken bread pieces around edge. When bread is gone, break off pieces of the bread bowl and use to dip.

This dip also goes well with vegetables.


Caraway Sauerkraut


2 jars (32 oz. each) sauerkraut
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 cup medium-bodied ale or beef broth


Drain and rinse sauerkraut; set aside.

In a 4-qt. pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add caraway seeds and cook, stirring, until combined, about 1 minute. Stir in sauerkraut and ale. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring once in a while, until the mixture is hot and flavors are blended, about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition information: 12-16 servings, 35 calories, 0.8 g protein, 1.9 g fat, 4.3 g carbohydrate, 1.9 g fiber, 256 mg sodium, 0.0 mg cholesterol

Source: Sunset, October 2007


German-Style Potato Salad


2 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices (about 5 cups)
8 bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley


Steam potatoes, covered, 10 minutes or until tender.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp.

Remove bacon from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings.

Combine drippings, vinegar, sugar, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add the potatoes, onion, and bell pepper; toss gently to coat. Cover and let stand 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add the bacon and parsley; toss gently.

Nutrition information: serving=1/2 cup, 108 calories, 3.6 g fat, 3.6 g protein, 15.9 g carbohydrate, 1.7 g fiber, 5 mg cholesterol, 1.3 mg iron, 253 mg sodium, 14 mg calcium

Source: Cooking Light, August 2001

Apple Strudel


5 cups finely chopped and peeled McIntosh apples (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
8 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
Cooking spray
Vanilla ice cream, optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine apples, sugar, raisins, cinnamon, almond extract, and flour in a bowl. Toss well. Set aside.

Place 1 phyllo sheet on work surface (cover remaining dough to keep from drying), lightly coat with cooking spray. Working with 1 phyllo sheet at a time, coat remaining 7 phyllo sheets with cooking spray, placing one on top of the other. Place a sheet of plastic wrap over phyllo, pressing gently to seal sheets together, discard plastic wrap.

Spoon apple mixture along 1 long edge of phyllo, leaving a 2 inch border. Fold over the short edges of phyllo to cover 2 inches of apple ixture on each end.

Starting at long edge with 2 inch border, roll up jelly-roll fashion. (Do not roll tightly, or strudel may split.) Place strudel, seam side down, on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Score diagonal slits into top of strudel using a sharp knife. Lightly spray strudel with cooking spray.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream.

Source: This is a hybrid recipe that combines two Cooking Light recipes (both entitled "Apple Strudel"). One recipe is dated October 1996 and the other is dated May 2003.

Notes: I made this for our 2008 Oktoberfest. I doubled the recipe and left out the raisins (since I was making it for picky eaters). I wasn't able to serve it piping hot because I had to make it beforehand, but it was still fantastic!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Speaking of Tomatoes....

So speaking of tomatoes....I have been trying to use up my little garden babies before they all go bad. Two great solutions: roasting them and freezing them! Then you can preserve the delicious flavor, save a little money, and utilize your homegrown produce. I have one recipe for each! For the first recipe I used roasted tomatoes, which are one of the most wonderfully flavorful and delicious things on the planet. To roast tomatoes, cut lengthwise and place in a bowl. Add a few tablespoons olive oil, some salt, pepper, sugar, and oregano and give a good toss. Then on a cookie sheet lined with foil place tomatoes cut side up. For this batch, I slow roasted them, which really intensifies the flavor. I roasted them at 200 degrees for about 6 hours. You can store these in an airtight container in the refrigerator and serve them on salads, or use them in recipes.
If you don't have time to slow roast them you can broil them like in the roasted tomato soup recipe.
Now on to the featured recipe.... When I was blog surfing the other day I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Design Sponge. I knew it was right up my alley and that I could use my garden babies to make a tasty meal. The recipe calls for taleggio cheese, which I have never tried, but it sounded expensive! ha ha. So I used mozzarella instead. The creme fraiche was really what sold me on making this recipe. If you have never tried it, try it! It is so decadent! (but also a bit of a splurge in more ways than one I am sure) I modified this recipe also by adding less cheese. I generally do that just to make things a bit healthier.
You could use this recipe as a base to make all kinds of culinary delights. Think of switching up the cheeses and adding different ingredients in the stuffing. Goat cheese with mushroom would be nice. Or maybe you could try brie and apple. Or prosciutto and smoked mozzarella, or good old fashion ham and cheddar. Oh so many choices. The crust was really flaky and tasty. If you are really pressed for time and want to make this a week day meal perhaps you could use pre-made bread dough, but that takes all the fun out of it!!!
Taleggio and Spinach Roulade (serves 6)
Dough Ingredients
  • 160 ml (2/3 cup) full-fat milk
  • 2 tsp dried active yeast
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 3½ tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 whole medium egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 350 g (3 cups minus one tablespoon) strong white flour (bread flour)
Filling Ingredients
  • 80 g (3 ounces) crème fraiche
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 100 g (3.5 ounces) baby spinach leaves
  • 20 g (1 ounce) basil leaves
  • 100 g (3.5 ounces) Pecorino cheese, grated
  • 250 g (9 ounces) Taleggio cheese, sliced (or substitute with a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella)
  • 100 g (3.5 ounces) semi-dried marinated tomatoes
To Finish
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 handful of poppy seeds

1. In a small saucepan, warm up the milk very slightly, just to about 30°C/85°F. Add the yeast and stir to dissolve. Set aside for about 10 minutes to activate the yeast.
2. Place the rest of the dough ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the yeast and milk and work with a dough hook on slow speed for about 2 minutes. Increase to high speed and knead for another 7 minutes, by which point the dough should become a smooth, shiny ball (this process could also be done by hand; you will probably need to knead the dough for an extra 5–10 minutes).
3. Transfer the dough to a large bowl brushed with a little oil. Cover the bowl with a wet cloth and put it somewhere warm. After about 45 minutes, once the dough has doubled in size, line a 30 cm x 40 cm (roughly 12 in. x 16 in.) oven tray with greaseproof paper.
4. Transfer the dough to a work surface dusted very lightly with flour and roll it out thinly so it reaches the size of the tray. Line the tray with the dough, pulling it right out into the corners. Cover with the tea towel again and leave for 30 minutes.
5. Once the rolled-out dough has risen significantly, cover it with the filling. Use a palette knife to spread the crème fraiche all over the surface, sprinkle salt and then scatter the spinach, basil, Pecorino, Taleggio and tomatoes.
6. Carefully pick up one of the longer sides of the dough and roll and push it all up into a neat spiral log shape. Stand the log on the seam so it doesn’t unravel when baked. Cover the tray in the tea towel again and leave for another 30 minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F .
8. Brush the roulade’s surface gently with the beaten egg and then scatter on the poppy seeds. Make sure the oven has reached 200°C/390°F and then put the tray inside. After 10 minutes, reduce the temperature to 160°C/320°F.
9. Continue baking for roughly 25 minutes. Don’t worry if the roulade breaks or cracks a little. When ready, it should have taken on a nice dark brown color. Stick a sharp knife inside to check. It should come out with some melted cheese but no dough.
10. Remove the roulade from the oven, allow it to cool down a little (or completely) and cut into thick slices. Serve immediately with a salad.
This recipe originally appeared on in May 2008.

Read more at Design*Sponge

Techniques: Freezing TomatoesI got the idea for freezing tomatoes from my Everyday Food magazine.

The information below came from the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Check out the website here. They have all kinds of good ideas for preserving food.

Preparation--Select firm, ripe tomatoes with deep red color.

Raw--Wash and dip in boiling water for 30 seconds to loosen skins. Core and peel. Freeze whole or in pieces. Pack into containers, leaving 1-inch headspace. Seal and freeze. Use only for cooking or seasoning as tomatoes will not be solid when thawed.

Above: Here are my "frozen tomatoes" after I peeled them, but before I put them in the freezer.

Juice--Wash, sort, and trim firm, vine-ripened tomatoes. Cut in quarters or eigths. Simmer 5-10 minutes. Press through a sieve. If desired, season with 1 teaspoon salt to each quart of juice. Pour into containers, leaving headspace. Seal and freeze.

Stewed--Remove stem ends, peel and quarter ripe tomatoes. Cover and cook until tender (10-20 minutes). Place pan containing tomatoes in cold water to cool. Pack into containers, leaving headspace. Seal and freeze.

Now on to the featured recipe. I know I have a tendency for posting complex recipes. That is just what I enjoy making the most! But this recipe is easy peasy and super cheap. It comes from Everyday Food, one of my favorite sources for delicious and easy recipes. The only thing I modified was that I added mushrooms just because they are delicious. We served it over rice.

Chicken in Tomatoes

This recipe for chicken in tomatoes was created with frozen summer produce, but if you just can't wait, fresh will work just as well.

Read more at Chicken in Tomatoes - Martha Stewart Recipes


2 pounds frozen tomatoes (4 cups), thawed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (1 1/2 pounds total)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced (1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
3 sprigs oregano


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor, pulse tomatoes until coarsely chopped. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook, skin side down, until golden and crisp, about 7 minutes. Flip and cook 1 minute. Transfer chicken to a plate and drain all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion to skillet and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.

Add chicken, skin side up, and oregano, then transfer skillet to oven. Cook until chicken is cooked through, 25-30 minutes.

Above: Chicken in Tomatoes.  After trying this wonderful recipe that was shared by my sister, my husband and I decided that this would be equally delicious served over pasta or served with a crusty loaf of bread (to sop up the tomato and juices...kind of like a make-it-yourself bruschetta).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Side Dishes--Tomatoes!

Isn't is always so sad when tomato season ends? There's nothing better than that first ripe tomato on the vine. Then, of course, it's so great when your tomato plants have so many tomatoes that you simply have to share them because you can't eat them all by yourself. And when it comes to simple, yet satisfying meals, is anything better than a tomato sandwich or a BLT?

If you've never had a tomato sandwich, it's so easy. Here's what you do:

1.) Toast two pieces of whole wheat bread (trust me, there's something superior about the taste of whole wheat over white bread when it comes to these sandwiches).

2.) Slice 1-2 home-grown tomatoes.

3.) Butter the insides of the toasted bread and sprinkle the bread with salt and pepper, to your taste.

4.) Top the bread with the sliced tomatoes and sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and pepper, to your taste. Top with the other slice of bread.

You're all done! Eat and enjoy!

As for BLT's, if you don't know what to do, here's how it goes: toast two slices of white bread. Spread the bread with a little mayonnaise and mustard, if you like. Top the bread with lettuce, tomato slices, and 1-2 slices of bacon. Yum!

But this post isn't about tomato's about tomato side dishes. Which leads us to one of my all-time favorite tomato side dishes...caprese salad. Caprese salad is a little taste of summer--Italian-style. Could anything be better than the combination of tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper? Besides, it even celebrates the colors of Italy's flag! It is pictured above without the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper (I wanted you to see the vibrant colors of the salad). It is pictured right above the recipe with all of the ingredients present. I have also included an easy way to turn caprese salad into an appetizer.

But that's not all! I'm also sharing a super easy and satisfying cherry tomato salad that can be made with grape or cherry tomatoes (thus making it available all year long). If you call this number within the next half hour, I'll double the offer and add two more tomato side dishes at no additional cost! Oh wait, sorry. They show way too many infomercial-style commercials on the Sprout kids channel that my son watches Sesame Street on from time to time! I'll include the last two tomato side dishes without you even having to lift a finger. The third side dish is a Creole-style side dish and it is very flavorful. The final side dish packs a nice vinegary punch!

I hope you like them!

Caprese Salad


6 medium to large tomatoes (preferably home-grown), sliced
12 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
1/2 cup basil leaves (can be whole or thinly sliced)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar (or balsamic glaze)
Salt and pepper, to taste


Alternately layer tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil in a serving dish of your choice. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over all. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.

Source: Gosh, this recipe has been around for at least a couple hundred years. There are probably so many versions of this that it would be hard to pin down one source of origin.

Notes: We usually make this for quite a crowd, so I usually double or triple the recipe above. Once you have made this enough times, you can eyeball the amounts. Use less or more olive oil or balsamic vinegar to suit your tastes.

Caprese Appetizer: If you would like to make this recipe appetizer-friendly, try the following:

Use grape tomatoes instead of sliced tomatoes and bocconcini (marinated mozzarella balls) or cubed mozzarella instead of the sliced mozzarella. Slice the grape tomatoes in half. Then, using toothpicks, spear the bottom of the tomato, followed by the bocconcini or cubed mozzarella, then a small basil leaf, and finally finish with the top of the tomato. Repeat to make as many appetizers as you would like. Place the appetizers on a serving plate and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cherry Tomato Salad

Serves 4


2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley


In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper until combined and thickened. Add tomatoes, red onion, and parsley; toss to combine all ingredients.

Source: This is a recipe I found on the Martha Stewart website.

Notes: I like to double or triple this recipe for a large crowd, but that's the only change I make. Seriously, this is a perfect recipe. Easy and yummy!

Creole Tomato Salad

4 Servings



3 ripe tomatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh mint
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives


4 teaspoons olive oil
4 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic


To prepare salad, alternate tomato and onion slices on a platter. Sprinkle with salt. Top with mint and chives.

To prepare vinaigrette, combine oil, vinegar, mustard, and garlic in a jar. Cover tightly; shake vigorously. Drizzle vinaigrette over salad and serve at room temperature.

Nutrition information: 73 calories, 4.8 g fat, 1.4 g protein, 7.5 g carbohydrates, 1.5 g fiber, 0.0 mg cholesterol, 0.6 mg iron, 185 mg sodium, 13 mg calcium.


Notes: This side pairs very nicely with my mom's Cajun lasagna (I'll have to get her to post that one soon).

Tomato, Cucumber, and Onion Salad


2-3 tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 white onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white wine vinegar or distilled white vinegar
Salt, to taste


Alternately layer tomatoes, cucumber, and onion into a shallow serving dish (preferably with a lid). Sprinkle with salt and pour vinegar over all. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Source: I don't remember where we got this recipe from. It's a pretty basic recipe with a lot of variations and sources.

Notes: If you like salt and vinegar potato chips, you're going to love this side dish. This side dish has a definite kick and it might make your lips pucker, but it sure is good!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Everything's Nice With Rice

Rice is one of my favorite foods. We didn't have much money growing up and I remember times when my mom would make Minute rice and serve it with sugar, butter and milk. I loved it. I still eat it sometimes for breakfast.

Well, my taste buds have progressed a little since then. Here are three recipes that go nice with rice!

Hoisin-Honey-Glazed Pork with Grilled Pineapple

1/4 c. hoisin sauce
1 T. honey
1 T. grated fresh peeled ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 whole pork tenderloin
pineapple spears
2 T. brown sugar

Prepare outdoor grill for covered direct grilling over medium heat. In small bowl combine hoisin, honey, ginger, and oil.

Place pork on hot grill rack. Cover grill and cook 18 - 20 minutes, turning occasionally.

Rub pineapple spears with brown sugar.

Grill pineapple 10 minutes or until browned on all sides, turning over. While pineapple is grilling, brush pork with hoisin-honey glaze and turn frequently until temperature on thermometer reaches 155 degrees F. Transfer pork to cutting board; let stand 10 minutes.

Thinly slice pork and serve with pineapple wedges; and, of course, a side of rice!

"Chinese Takeout" Lemon Chicken
This one uses a surprise ingredient to make a yummy sauce!

Frozen chicken nuggets Or
1T. oil, 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken tenders

1 pkg (6oz) snow peas or snap peas (about 2 cups)
1 small red pepper cut into strips
2 pkg. (4 serving size) Jell-O brand Lemon gelatin
2 T. cornstarch
1 c. chicken broth
4 T. Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
4 cloves garlic, minced

If using fresh chicken tenders, heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken. Cook 4 minutes or until cooked through, stirring occasionally. If using chicken tenders at this point add snow peas and peppers; cook and stir 2 minutes. Continue to *

If using chicken nuggets, cook in oven as directed. Heat oil in skillet on medium high heat. Add snow peas and peppers; cook and stir 2 minutes. Continue to *

*Mix dry gelatin mix and cornstarch in small bowl. Add broth, dressing and garlic; stir until gelatin is dissolved. Add to skillet. Reduce heat to medium; cook 3 minutes or until sauce is thickened, stirring frequently. If using chicken nuggets, add them at this time.

Serve over hot cooked rice.

Halibut with Coconut-Red Curry Sauce
Surprisingly quick and easy!

2 t. canola oil, divided
4 (6 oz.) halibut fillets
1 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped green onions
1 T. grated peeled fresh ginger
1 c. light coconut milk
1 T. sugar
3/4 teaspoon red curry paste
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 T. fresh basil
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Remove fish from pan; keep warm.

2. Add remaining 1 t. oil to pan. Add onion, green onions, and ginger; saute 2 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and the next 4 ingredients (through coriander). Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in basil and juice. Serve over rice.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, March 2009. I served it with the bok choy rice that was printed with the recipe, but I didn't like it because it overpowered the subtle curry flavor.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Portobello Bisque with Parmesan


I just made this soup on Sunday and we loved it. I'm not that great at following exact recipes. I modified it by putting only half the onion, and of course added more garlic due to my lovely husband. I also left out the tarragon and the splash of Sherry! Enjoy

Portobello Bisque with Parmesan


2 tablespoons butter,
1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
10 ounces portobello mushroom caps, roughly chopped
1/4 cup uncooked white long grain rice
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 teaspoons of tarragon
1 tablespoon dry Sherry
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste


Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When butter starts bubbling add the onion, garlic and saute for 3 min.

Add the mushrooms, rice, and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for 30 min, uncovered.

Remove from heat and add half-and-half.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. after pureeing, return soup to pot and heat to serving temperature. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide the soup between 2 bowls and garnish with tarragon, Parmesan cheese and splash of Sherry.

Source: Recipe taken from The everything cooking for Two cookbook. You can find it here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oktoberfest...Take One!

We at Foodie Family decided to celebrate Oktoberfest this Sunday! Only since hubby and I live on the other side of the country, we couldn't take part of the good company at Oktoberfest-Utah. But we did enjoy good food! Hubby spent 2 years in Germany, so he is an expert on the cuisine. So he told me a few of his favorites and I blindly took a stab at them. The recipes themselves were fun to make ( Rouladen, the meat pictured about was kind of like making sushi rolls with steak!) It was challenging, however, to know how accurately I was making the recipes because I had never tried any version of them. And because my husband is too nice to tell me how the compared to the real deal, I cannot attest to their authenticity. But I did enjoy eating and making them!

First up: Rouladen. This sounded down right disgusting to me. It was basically rolled up steak stuffed with bacon, onions and pickles. But I actually liked it. I found this recipe at, and according to the reviews, it is quite hard to make it in the USA, because its not easy to find the right cut of beef. So the american version uses flank steak, which I pounded thin as I could. It would be ideal to have a cut of meat half as thick, but we made do. Also I modified the recipe slightly, because I just rolled the entire steak, tied it, cooked it, and then sliced it. I think it made it a lot easier to work with. I also made a gravy out of the sauce to go with the homemade spaeztla!

German Rouladen
  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak
  • German stone ground mustard, to taste
  • 1/2 pound thick sliced bacon
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 (16 ounce) jar dill pickle slices
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cube beef bouillon
  1. Cut the flank steak into thin filets; about 1/4 inch thick and 3 inches wide.
  2. Generously spread one side of each filet with mustard to taste. Place bacon, onions and pickle slices on each filet and form into a roll. Use string or toothpicks to hold the roll together.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium heat and melt butter. Place the rolls in the butter and saute until browned.
  4. Pour in 2 1/2 cups of water and add the bouillon cube; stirring to dissolve the bouillon cube. Simmer the rolls for about an hour.

German Spaetzla Dumplings (Not pictured. Recipe also from

These were pretty easy and really fun to make. I followed the suggestion of one of the reviews and used a ziploc bag with some holes punched in the bottom to make the spaetzle. I think they were a tad bit small, but it worked great!

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 gallon hot water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  1. Mix together flour, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Beat eggs well, and add alternately with the milk to the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth.
  2. Press dough through spaetzle maker, or a large holed sieve or metal grater.
  3. Drop a few at a time into simmering liquid. Cook 5 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
  4. Saute cooked spaetzle in butter or margarine. Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley on top, and serve.
Lastly, we served Obaztda, a german cheese spread served with rye bread. I did a google search and kinda merged a bunch of recipes, because usually the recipe calls for a few tablespoons beer...

I used about 8 oz soft cambert cheese
4 oz cream cheese softened
4 oz butter softened
1/4 t paprika
1/4 t salt
1/4 t onion powder
2 green onions, sliced

mix together and refrigerate. Serve with Rye bread, crackers, pretzels or veggies.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Salads with Fruit!

Now, I'm not talking about fruit salads...I'm talking about savory salads that happen to have fruit in them.

I like my salads to have a lot of "junk" in them (by "junk," I don't mean unhealthy ingredients...I mean a LOT of ingredients--like fruits, vegetables, and nuts). A salad with simply lettuce and maybe a few tomatoes and some dressing gets a little boring for me. Now, don't get me wrong, I love a nice garden salad...but a garden salad to me is a salad that has lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, croutons, bell peppers, shredded carrots, peas, beets, and then dressing.

The first salad is a relatively new discovery and it is perfect for fall because it features some lovely fall fruits--such as apples and pears. The next salad has a yummy combination of strawberries, kiwifruits, and macadamia nuts (an old family favorite). The final salad is a spinach salad with strawberries and dill. Because of the strawberries, the last two salads are more summer friendly (unless you want to shell out the big bucks for strawberries and kiwifruits when they aren't in season!).

I must apologize that I currently only have a picture of the first salad...but as soon as I get a chance to make the other two salads again, I'll photograph them and add them to this post as well. (Which I am also doing for all of our past posts, by the way. If I didn't have a picture originally, I am adding pictures to our blog when I make the recipes again. So go back and take a look!)

Lori Cannon's Cashew Salad



3 romaine lettuce hearts, chopped
4 cups cashews
1 6-oz. bag dried cranberries
2 apples, chopped
2 pears, chopped
4 oz. Swiss cheese, cubed


3/4 cup canola oil (see notes)
2/3 cup sugar (see notes)
1 Tbsp red onion, finely grated
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 tsp ground mustard
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice


Prepare dressing the day before by combining all dressing ingredients. Combine all salad ingredients and toss with dressing immediately before serving.

Makes 12 servings.

Source: From the Worldwide Ward Cookbook by Deanna Buxton, recipe submitted by Jerrie Madison of the Winchester Hills 2nd Ward in St. George, Utah.

Notes: This makes a massive salad. But in my opinion, it makes waaaaaay more salad dressing than you will ever need. I mean, who needs 2 cups of salad dressing! I would suggest slightly decreasing the oil and sugar. I would use 1/3-1/2 cup of canola oil and 1/3 cup sugar instead. Also, I would suggest tossing the salad in batches as needed. So, for instance, if you're only going to eat 1/3 of the salad that day, reserve the other 2/3 of the salad and toss what you plan to eat with enough dressing to coat the salad nicely. Then, the rest of the salad will still be fresh enough the next day and you can just toss it with some more dressing. Seriously, this salad doesn't keep for longer than one day once the dressing is added.

Macadamia, Strawberry, and Kiwi Salad


1/4 cup white grape juice concentrate
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
10 cups torn mixed salad greens
8 large fresh strawberries, quartered
1 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons sliced green onion
2 tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts, toasted


In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the first five ingredients; shake well. Refrigerate until serving. Set aside 2 tablespoons of dressing. Place the greens in a salad bowl and drizzle with remaining dressing. Top with strawberries, kiwi and onion; drizzle with reserved dressing. Sprinkle with nuts.

Yield: 8 servings

Nutrition information: One serving ( 1 1/4 cups) equals 67 calories, 3 g fat, 0 cholesterol, 165 mg sodium, 10 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 2 g protein.

Source: Taste of Home's Light and Tasty Annual Recipes 2002 cookbook (the recipe is called "Colorful Tossed Salad" in the book...which is why I always have a hard time finding it when I look for it!). Submitted by Lee Bremson, Kansas City, Missouri.

Notes: If you like more strawberries, kiwifruit, or macadamia nuts, by all means, add some more! I usually do! Also, add your own desired amount of dressing. Don't feel like you need to add it all. Or if you love a ton of dressing, double it!

Strawberry Spinach Salad


8 cups torn fresh spinach or whole fresh baby spinach
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon sunflower kernels
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
4 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons snipped fresh dill or 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground mustard


In a salad bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries, onion, sunflower kernels, and sesame seeds. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the remaining ingredients; shake well. Pour over salad and gently toss to coat.

Serve immediately.

Yield: 8 servings

Nutrition information: one serving (1 cup) equals 68 calories, 4 g fat, 0 cholesterol, 61 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 1 g protein.

Source: Taste of Home's Light and Tasty Annual Recipes 2002 cookbook. Submitted by Cathy Linzbach, East Grand Forks, Minnesota.

Notes: Again, add your own desired amount of dressing.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's Greek to Me!

I love Greek food (surprised?). One of the fun things about Utah is the Greek Festival. It happens the first weekend of September every year. I haven't been able to go for about two years now (it's not really a baby friendly venue). The Greek Festival features music, dancing, fun things you can buy, and most of

I would be hard pressed to find a kind of Greek food that I don't like. Souvlaki, dolmathes, avgolemono soup, gyros, etc. Then, of course, there are the desserts: baklava and galaktoboureko stand out in my mind.

One of the main things that keeps me coming back to the Greek festival (at least food-wise) is the keftedes (also spelled keftethes) a.k.a. meatballs. They are to die for. They are so savory and flavorful and I can't get over the yummy combination of ground beef, garlic, and mint!

I have tried for years to find a recipe that even comes close to the meatballs they serve at the Greek Festival. And finally...I think this recipe comes pretty darn close! I used a recipe I found in a cookbook, but I altered it a little. I am including both versions (the recipe as is and my alterations). I still need to work on the red sauce (it's good, but it's not quite the same as the festival's recipe). You don't need to serve the meatballs with the sauce (they are great on their own), but I wanted it to come as close as possible to the Greek Festival version. I think you'll like it!

The potato side dish is one that my family discovered a couple of years ago when we had our own Greek Theme Night. Don't skimp on the lemon! It is the standout flavor of this dish.

Oh, and I hope I didn't tempt anyone too much, but the picture above features the meatballs, the lemon potatoes, and store-bought spanakopita (which I don't have a recipe for...sorry!). You can find spanakopita in the frozen section (if not at your grocery store, you can find it for sure at Costco or Sam's Club).

Also, though not pictured, I'm throwing in two Greek salad recipes. The first one is a basic Greek salad recipe of my own concoction with a South Beach salad dressing recipe. The second one is one that my dear friend, Krissy, served to me when I visited her on a trip to Florida many, many years ago!

Oh, and one final thing...I'm posting a recipe for Avgolemono Soup (Greek Lemon Soup) that my sister made long before we started our family food blog. That's right...I took it right off of her blog via cut and paste method (so that recipe is in her own words)! Bwa ha ha! Laurie, I hope that's okay with you!

At any rate...Opa!

Grecian Meatballs (recipe as originally printed)


1 lb. lean, finely ground beef or lamb
1 medium onion
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
olive oil, for brushing


Put the ground beef or lamb in a bowl. Grate in the onion, then add the garlic, bread crumbs, mint, and parsley. Season well with salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients well, then add the beaten egg and mix to bind the mixture together.

With damp hands, form the mixture into 16 small balls and thread onto 4 flat metal skewers. Lightly oil a broiler pan and brush the meatballs with oil.

Preheat the broiler and cook the meatballs under medium heat for 10 minutes, turning frequently, and brushing with more oil if necessary, until browned.

Source: From the cookbook "Perfect Greek," published by Parragon in 2008. ISBN: 978-1-4054-8858-7

Grecian Meatballs (my version)


4 lbs. ground beef
1 large onion, cut into quarters
4 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups Italian bread crumbs
4-6 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 eggs


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Put the ground beef in a bowl. Place the onion, garlic cloves and 2 of the eggs into a blender. Blend until well combined. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the beef. Add the bread crumbs, mint, parsley, salt, and pepper. Beat the remaining eggs and add them to the bowl. Mix the ingredients together well (this works best using a kneading motion with your hands).

Form the mixture into balls (I ended up with 40 medium-sized meatballs). Place onto two jelly roll pans that have been covered with foil.

Cook the meatballs for 45-60 minutes (or until nicely browned and no longer pink in the middle). You can turn the meatballs once during cooking, if desired, but it is not necessary.

Serve with red sauce, if desired.

Notes: The Greek Festival meatballs are fairly bursting with flavor, so I made a few adjustments on the quantities. I also quadrupled the recipe (I have my reasons!). I didn't have any plain bread crumbs and rather than making my own, I simply used packaged Italian bread crumbs. I think this was serendipitous because it just boosted the flavor even more. It didn't make the meatballs taste Italian at all. It just deepened the flavor. Also, I started to grate the onion and I thought it was a pain, so I simply put it into the blender with the garlic. It infused the meatballs with flavor and was a whole lot easier for me! Oh, and meatballs are really freezer friendly. If you want to freeze some or all of the meatballs, place them on a foil-lined cookie sheet and put them in the freezer for a few hours (just until they are set and won't stick together if you place them in a bag). After the meatballs have frozen for a few hours, put them in a zip top freezer bag and label them (contents and date). Then, when you want to cook them, take out as many as you like, place them on a foil-lined cookie sheet and bake from frozen according to the recipe--only add 10-20 minutes to the cooking time. Watch carefully, so they don't get overdone. The red sauce is freeze-able too. Just freeze it separately in a plastic container.

Red Sauce for Meatballs


1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 (8 oz) can tomato puree
1 (4 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can whole, peeled tomatoes


In a pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic. Cook, stirring well, until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add oregano and cook for about 30 seconds to a minute. Add tomato puree, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and whole, peeled tomatoes. Break up whole, peeled tomatoes with the back of a spoon or cut up with kitchen sheers.

Simmer on low while meatballs cook (at least 30 minutes).

Source: My own mind.

Greek Lemon Potatoes


2 lbs potatoes, unpeeled, washed, and cut into bite sized pieces
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lemon, juiced and zest grated (see notes)
4 Tbsp. water
6 cloves garlic, peeled
4 bay leaved
2 rosemary sprigs (see notes)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped (see notes)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pinch sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a 9x13 baking dish with tin foil. Place the cut potatoes into the baking dish.

Drizzle the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and water over the potatoes. Place the garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sugar, salt, and pepper on top of the potatoes.

Stir well to coat.

Bake the potatoes for 1-1 1/2 hours or until they are cooked through, tender, and slightly crispy.

Stir every now and then during cooking to coat with the herby oil.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley prior to serving.

Source: Darn it, I found this online at least four years ago and now I can't remember what recipe site I found it on. Sorry!

Notes: I didn't have fresh lemons on hand, so I used a liberal amount of bottled lemon juice (to make up for not having lemon zest). The dish was still yummy, but honestly, lemon is the star flavor of this dish. Don't substitute the fresh lemon for bottled juice! If you really love the flavor of lemon, I would recommend using the juice of two lemons and the zest of one. Also, in addition to peeling the garlic, I halved it as well.

As for the herbs, substituting dried herbs works just fine in this dish. I didn't have fresh rosemary, so I used 1 teaspoon dried and crushed it between my fingers as I sprinkled it over the potatoes. I also didn't have fresh thyme, so I used 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme.

Basic Greek Salad


1 large bunch Romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
1 cucumber (you can either peel, thickly slice, and quarter this, or simply slice it into rounds with the peel on)
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, optional
1/2-1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup pitted, sliced kalamata olives
Whole or sliced banana peppers, optional
Favorite bottled or homemade Greek salad dressing (see notes)


Combine and toss all ingredients together in a large bowl.

Note: If you would like to make your own Greek salad dressing, here's a simple recipe found in the South Beach Diet cookbook:

South Beach Greek Salad Dressing:


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt


Whisk all ingredients together. Makes enough dressing for 1 serving.

Mediterranean Greek Salad

Yields: 8 servings


3 cucumbers, seeded and sliced
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
1 cup black olives, pitted and sliced
3 cups diced Roma tomatoes
1/3 cup diced oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained, oil reserved
1/2 red onion, sliced


In a large salad bowl, toss together the cucumbers, feta cheese, olives, Roma tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, 2 tablespoons reserved sun-dried tomato oil, and red onion. Chill until serving.

Source:, submitted by Heather Shevlin

Avgolemono Soup

After: Yum!

Perhaps my favorite thing, second only to making art is making good food. I am constantly trying new recipes and creating some too. This is probably because my mom was always such a great cook, we rarely had the same meal twice (with the exception of some family favorites!) So I have decided to blog once a month about a recipe I have found or created that I think you should all try. This month the recipe is Avegolemono Soup also known as Greek Lemon Soup (Well that is what I call it :) ) I also wanted to use my hand made pottery that I made last summer in my ceramics class. For some reason, its always more fun to eat out of homemade dishes :) So you kind of get a double dose of art and food in this one. Lucky dogs.

This soup is SOOOOO fast easy (seriously 10 minutes) not to mention RIDICULOUSLY Cheap. You probably have all of the ingredients on hand . Plus I really think it would please even the pickiest of eaters. Yum yum yum. If you feel like spending more time in the kitchen serve them with some homemade pitas. I made these pitas a few weeks ago (from Cooking Light mag, one of my very favorite things, you can find the recipe online at and they were so delicious. This time I served the soup with a tossed salad and pomegranate tea.

Avgolemono Soup (Greek Lemon Soup)

Here is the recipe. I got it from a book Clint gave me, but I have modified it...


3 pints chicken broth ( 3 16 oz cans)
2 eggs
2 Tbs lemon juice (or more depending on taste, I like things extra lemony)
about a cup of cooked rice or orzo pasta
one cooked chicken breast, shredded
parsley, chopped about 1/4 cup
salt, pepper to taste


Bring broth to a boil, reduce to a simmer. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Add a small ladle of the soup to the egg mixture and whisk until well combined, then slowly add this mixture to the pot of the cooking broth. Whisk constantly until texture is smooth and egg is well integrated. Add chicken and rice cook on low for a few minutes, then add some fresh parsley. Yummmmmy!

Happy cooking!

Note: It is important to add a small ladle of soup to the egg mixture before adding the egg mixture directly to the soup. It tempers the egg mixture so that it doesn't cook immediately once it is added to the soup. If you add the egg mixture directly to the soup, it will end up more like Chinese egg noodle soup with string of egg throughout the soup rather than a silky, creamy texture as intended in this recipe.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cake and Ice Cream...Yum!


There are an awful lot of cake recipes on our blog! Especially since our blog has only been up and running for 7 months!

But I promise you, each and every one of these cake recipes are worth it!

As for ice cream, isn't it the perfect compliment to cake?

I got this fantastic cake recipe from a co-worker. She would make it to celebrate everyone's birthday in the office. It was too hard to resist (I'm sure it added to my pregnancy weight gain!). It is honestly the best carrot cake I have ever had. My husband's favorite kind of cake is carrot cake, so this was a natural for his birthday celebration. Before I found this recipe, I tried a number of different carrot cakes (store-bought and homemade) to find just the right one. I just wasn't pleased. They were either too spice-cakey or too crumbly. This carrot cake is moist and hard to resist.

As for the ice cream, I dreamed up this recipe myself (one of my pregnant food craving dreams!). I had been craving the flavor of hazelnut. In order to satiate my craving, I got some hazelnut coffee creamer to flavor my glasses of milk and later, I got some chocolate hazelnut spread as well. I think the combination of milk, hazelnut coffee creamer, and chocolate hazelnut spread just sort of evolved into an ice cream recipe during my REM cycle!

While I would never pair these two recipes to serve together (the ice cream and cake are too rich to go together and the flavors don't match), I find that it is fitting to pair them together here since I craved the carrot cake during my first pregnancy and I dreamed up the ice cream during my second pregnancy!

Oh, and I must apologize for the pictures. Each time, we had already dug in and it only occurred to me afterward that I needed to take a picture. So, the pictures are definite afterthoughts and they don't do these recipes the justice they deserve. They really are awful pictures. Sorry! (Notice how the carrot cake is placed on one of my son's baby plates because I was pressed for time and besides paper plates, it was the only thing I had nearby!)

Above: You can simply frost the layers and let the frosting overhang a little, or...

Above: You can frost the whole thing and bask in the wonderful cream cheese frosting/carrot cake combination. It's up to you!

10/21/10 Amendment: In order to class up this blog post (because my pictures were so lousy and Laurie's are so fantastic), I am adding one of my sister's posts from her personal blog with two of her ice cream recipes. These fantastic recipes came straight from her own brain!

Heather's Carrot Pineapple Cake


1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup salad oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
carrots, roughly sliced or chopped (enough to make 1 cup shredded)
1 cup crushed pineapple with juice (or half cup, if preferred)


1 package cream cheese
2 Tbsp. butter
4 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Sift together first six ingredients (flour through salt).

Blend together next 4 ingredients (salad oil through shredded carrots) in a blender.

Combine dry and wet ingredients. Then add crushed pineapple with juice.

Pour batter into 3 greased baking pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

For the frosting, whip together the final four ingredients (cream cheese through vanilla) and frost on top of cooled cake.

Source: My wonderful former co-worker, Heather Bowen.

Notes: I like a lot of frosting, so I would suggest doubling the frosting recipe. Also, I highly suggest using three cake pans instead of two. It is necessary for the consistency of the cake. If you do try to use two cake pans, you might have to cook the cake a little longer. Check the cake using the toothpick method to ensure that it is cooked completely, otherwise it might be too crumbly.

Hazelnut Chocolate Ice Cream

Makes 4 quarts


8 cups heavy cream (see note below)
1 1/2 cups sugar
Pinch of salt
4 cups hazelnut flavored coffee creamer
1 1/4-1 1/2 cups toasted, chopped hazelnuts
1 container chocolate hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)


In a large bowl, whisk together cream, sugar, salt, and coffee creamer. Refrigerate until you are able to add the cooled nuts. Toast hazelnuts and allow to cool. Stir cooled hazelnuts into the cream mixture. Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

You will want to swirl the chocolate hazelnut spread into the ice cream mixture before you ripen it in your freezer. The best way to do this is to spoon a layer of the ice cream into a freezer safe container and swirl a layer of chocolate hazelnut spread on top. Top with another layer of ice cream followed by another layer of chocolate hazelnut spread. Repeat until all of the ice cream and chocolate hazelnut spread has been combined. Be careful not to leave large clumps of chocolate hazelnut spread. You will want the swirls to be fine. When the spread freezes, it freezes very hard and if you have large swirls or clumps within the ice cream, it makes scooping the ice cream very difficult.

Allow ice cream to fully ripen in the freezer before serving (at least 2 hours). Store in an airtight, freezer safe container.

Source: The crazy craving dreams of a pregnant!

Notes: If you want to lighten this recipe and make it a little less rich, you can use 4 cups of heavy cream and 4 cups of half and half. I've tried it both ways. It is still great with the half and half. It is just a little lighter, not quite as rich, and a little less creamy.

Also, I must repeat that it is so important not to create large or thick pieces/swirls of chocolate hazelnut spread. It is so much tastier and easier to serve if you have fine, string-like swirls. The first time I made this, the swirls were very fine and I thought I would try it again with twice as much chocolate hazelnut spread and in much thicker swirls. The problem with this is that the chocolate hazelnut spread hardens as soon as it makes contact with the cold ice cream (it's kind of like the chocolate shells you can get on your soft serve ice cream cone). The result was that I had thick and impenetrable layers of chocolate hazelnut spread and I practically had to use a knife to serve the ice cream! The dainty, fine layers of chocolate hazelnut spread are far preferable for this recipe. If you want more chocolate hazelnut spread, I would suggest drizzling some more on top of your ice cream just prior to serving.

Garden + Ice Cream Maker = True Love

My roommates gave me an ice cream maker for my wedding and ever since then I have been making ice cream non-stop. I lay in bed thinking of new ideas for flavor combinations and I get so excited! The first kind I made was using the fresh mint in our back yard and it was delicious! Mint is of course one of my favorite things. After the mint, I decided to be more creative and I was inspired by my favorite ice cream shop, Jeni's (They always have very creative, gourmet and absolutely delicious flavors). So I made Cucumber Coconut Sorbet and Butternut Squash Ice Cream with Caramel & Candied Pecans. And they were both a success! hooray!!!

Cucumber Coconut Sorbet

I love how cool and refreshing cucumber is. People don't give cucumber enough opportunities as a dessert flavor, but I'm telling you this one is delish! It's light and tasty, with a smooth texture. Yum!


2 large cucumbers
1 tablespoon honey
1 can light coconut milk
Juice from 1 lime
3/4 cup simple syrup, (recipe below)


Blend the cucumbers and honey together in a blender or food processor until the cucumber is almost pureed, but still has some chunks. Refrigerate for 6-24 hours. The honey will draw out the moisture in the cucumbers. Then blend again until smooth, and pour into a fine strainer, pushing out juices and discarding pulp & peel.

Combine the juices with a can of coconut milk, the lime juice, and the simple syrup

Freeze in Ice cream maker for 20-30 minutes or until thick and creamy. YUM!!!

Simple Syrup


1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water


In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water and bring to a boil. Cook over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Let stand until cool, 30 minutes.

Butternut Squash Ice Cream

The squash has a richer flavor and is more decadent with the caramel and pecans. We had friends over for dinner last night and they were shocked that the secret ingredient was squash. It tastes a little like pumpkin pie, only more mild.


One medium-sized butternut squash
1 tsp. vanilla
One recipe of your favorite vanilla ice cream
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2-4 tbsp. brown sugar
One recipe of your favorite candied pecans (or toast pecans in a pan on the stove top while adding enough brown sugar to evenly coat the nuts, remove from heat and cool completely)


Start by peeling and cubing one medium sized butternut squash. Boil for 5-10 minutes with a little vanilla in the water.

Using your favorite basic vanilla ice cream recipe, add cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar.

Add a cup of the cream mixture in a blender with the butternut squash and puree until smooth. Pour into fine strainer to remove pulp. I would probably strain this twice. I only did it once and the texture was a little too grainy. Mix with remaining ice cream mixture.

Then pour into ice cream machine! and freeze!

Yummy yummy yummy.

Next up, I'm thinking Basil Lime.... I love my garden!