Monday, May 26, 2014

Elegant for Dessert, Breakfast, or Brunch


This is a family recipe that came from my sister-in-law. She serves it whenever she has breakfast or brunch gatherings at her house. However, it is so sweet and decadent that it makes a wonderful dessert as well.



4 cups heavy cream, scalded
5 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla


Beat the yolks with the sugar until it is light and forms a ribbon when the beater is lifted.

Ad the scalded cream in a stream, stirring. (You can also use the mixer on low speed)

Transfer the custard to a heavy saucepan and cook it over moderately low heat, stirring until it thickens, but do not let it boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in vanilla. Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a metal bowl. Set in a bowl of ice. Let it cool, stirring occasionally, then chill, covered.

Serve over fresh berries.

Source: My sister-in-law. Yummy stuff!

Notes: Holy cow, this stuff is ambrosia.

Above: If you want thicker custard, refrigerate it longer. The picture at the very top was taken after the custard had been refrigerated for a few hours. The picture just above was taken after the custard had been refrigerated overnight.

Can I Ever Get Enough?

I don't think I can ever get enough of trying new brownie recipes. Even when you find the best brownie recipe ever, there is always the possibility of another brownie recipe that is the best for completely different reasons.

This brownie recipe was indeed speedy and very tasty.

Speedy Brownies


2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
5 eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips


In a large bowl, beat the first seven ingredients. Pour into a greased 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

Yield: about 3 dozen.

Nutrition information: 1 serving equals 155 calories.

Source: Taste of Home. You can find it here.

Notes: As I said, these were really good. I freaked out a little and over-baked mine because I was worried about them being underdone, but they were still great. Oh, and I always laugh when recipes like this give you a yield of 3 dozen. Seriously? How small do they think I cut my brownies?

Above: I only had one corner piece left when I realized that I hadn't taken any pictures yet. That is why this kind of looks like a chocolatey piece of pie. Yummy stuff though!

Put It in a Bowl

Sometimes, you just want something that doesn't require an elaborately set table (for me, that would be every day). This is one of those meals.

Chicken Enchilada Nacho Bowls


Chicken and Sauce:

1 medium onion, cut into half-moons
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can (10 oz.) enchilada sauce
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) reduced-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 canned chipotle chile, minced
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken


8 ounces tortilla chips, coarsely crushed
1 1/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded lettuce
1/2 cup cilantro sprigs
Lime wedges and hot sauce


Make sauce: saute onion in oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Add enchilada sauce, tomatoes, beans, oregano, chile, and sugar, and cook, stirring occassionally, until hot and slightly reduced, 4 minutes. Stir in chicken and cook until it's hot, about 4 minutes.

Assemble nachos: Divide chips among bowls, top with chicken mixture, cheese, lettuce, and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges and hot sauce.

Source: You can find it here.

Notes: I really liked the hint of sweetness added by the brown sugar. This can be a tad spicy. I would suggest stirring in a little sour cream (or topping it with sour cream) to minimize the spiciness if you want it a little more mellow. Also, it made a great nacho bowl, and it also made tasty traditional nachos (as the first picture shows). In addition to that, we used some of the leftovers to make quesadillas. It worked great for that too!

Slow Cooker to the Rescue!


Oh, busy days. Why does it seem like you are becoming more frequent? Thank goodness for slow cookers on days like those. Here is a great new recipe I found.

Slow-Cooked Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans


1 cup dried pinto beans, rinsed
1 jar (11 ounces) mild or medium salsa (1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8) (see notes below)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), chopped
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream, for serving
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for serving


In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, stir together beans, salsa, chiles, flour, and 1 cup water. Season chicken with salt and pepper; arrange on top of bean mixture. Scatter onion and bell pepper on top of chicken.

Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours. (Do not open lid or stir.)

Remove chicken from stew; shred into large pieces and return to stew. Serve topped with sour cream and cilantro.

Oven method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Follow step 1, using a 5-quart Dutch oven or large pot, substituting 2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed, for dried beans, and increasing water to 2 cups. Cover pot and bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Transfer to oven, and cook until chicken is tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Proceed with step 3.

Source: Martha Stewart, Everyday Food, November 2007. You can find the recipe here.

Notes: The dried pinto beans gave this such a good flavor (almost a baked bean, barbecued flavor). I used four boneless, skinless chicken breasts in place of the chicken thighs.

Reimagining a Recipe

You may or may not like tuna noodle casserole in its classic form, but I know I liked this tuna casserole that I made awhile back.

Here is a way of looking at tuna casserole in a different way.

Creamy Shells with Tuna and Spinach


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced small
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
4 cups whole milk
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 hamburger bun, torn into large pieces (I used a couple of slices of white bread)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess liquid squeezed out
2 cans (6 ounces each) light tuna in water, drained and flaked (see notes below)
6 ounces jumbo pasta shells (about 20), cooked according to package instructions


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Gradually add milk, whicking constantly, and cook until slightly thickened and bubbling, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and let sauce cool slightly.

In a food processor, combine bun, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, and red-pepper flakes. Process until fine crumbs form. Transfer half the mixture to a large bowl and combine with spinach, tuna, and half the sauce; season with salt and pepper. Fill each shell with 2 heaping tablespoons spinach mixture and place in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Top with remaining sauce and breadcrumb mixture. Bake until sauce is bubbling and breadcrumbs are golden, about 20 minutes.

Recipe Note: Toss together a salad to go along with this. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon each red-wine vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Add 3/4 head iceberg lettuce, chopped, and 1 tomato, cut into wedges. Toss to combine.

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

Notes: I really liked this. In the future, however, I think I might try it with fresh chopped spinach instead of the frozen. Also, if you don't like tuna, you could definitely substitute canned chicken. I really liked the flavor of this. I wish it had a little more sauce though--not enough to double the sauce recipe...just a little bit more. Also, I think I would have put 3/4 of the breadcrumb mixture and mixed it into the tuna spinach mixture and put the remaining 1/4 mixture on top of the shells. I had a ton of breadcrumbs remaining to sprinkle on top. I ended up throwing half of the remaining mixture out because otherwise, the breadcrumbs would have dried up the sauce, whereas they would have added even more flavor and texture to the shell filling. So, I will definitely make this again (and I really want to try it with chicken and fresh spinach), but I would slightly change a few things (as noted) the next time around.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Different Kind of Burger

Not only is this a change of pace from your normal burger, but the patties are freezer friendly! So, make some patties ahead of time and pull them out of the freezer whenever you are feeling like having a burger.

Turkey Burgers


6 slices whole-wheat sandwich bread (see notes below)
1 pound lean ground turkey (7 percent fat)
1/2 cup reducted-fat sour cream
4 tablespoons prepared mango chutney, preferably Major Grey's, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chili powder
Coarse salt
1 cup mesclun lettuce mix
1 medium tomato, sliced


In a medium bowl, tear 2 slices bread into small pieces. Add turkey, sour cream, 3 tablespoons chutney, 1 tablespoon mustard, chili powder, and 1 teaspoon coarse salt. Shape into 4 firmly packed 5-inch round patties.

Freeze on a baking sheet until firm, about 30 minutes, then wrap each burger in plastic; place all burgers in a resealable freezer bag, label, and date. Freeze up to 2 months.

To cook: Thaw burgers overnight in the refrigerator. Heat broiler with rack set 4 inches from heat. Place burgers on a rimmed baking sheet; broil until firm and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Lightly toast 4 slices bread. Dividing evenly, top each with lettuce, burger, and tomato. Stir together 1 tablespoon each chutney and mustard, and serve alongside burgers.

Recipe note: When burgers are wrapped separately, you can defrost as few or as many as you need.

Source: Martha Stewart. You can find it here.

Notes: I couldn't find a mesclun lettuce mix, so I used a spring lettuce mix, and I thought it worked great (also, that could be the same thing...). Also, we didn't do these as open faced sandwiches. If you choose to do it that way, you will need two slices of bread for the meat mixture, and two slices of bread per burger (or 8 slices total to make 4 burgers. Also, I got about 6 patties out of this, not 4. I made some smaller ones so they would be kid-sized for my little boys.

Rethink Things

I'm always intrigued by recipes that change things up so that they are a little out of the ordinary. So, when I saw this recipe for ravioli that put a Mexican spin on an Italian favorite, I had to try it. Just as a heads up though, it is quite spicy. If you like things a little milder, I would suggest topping it with a dollop of sour cream, or stirring 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of sour cream into the sauce before serving.

Fiesta Ravioli


1 package (25 ounces) frozen beef ravioli
1 can (10 ounces) enchilada sauce
1 cup salsa
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 can (2 1/4 ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained


Cook ravioli according to package directions. meanwhile, in a large skillet, combine enchilada sauce and salsa. Cook and stir over medium heat until heated through.

Drain ravioli; add to sauce and gently stir to coat. Top with cheese and olives. Cover and cook over low heat for 3-4 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Yield: 4-6 servings.

Source: Taste of Home. You can find it here.

Notes: Again, as I said above, this is spicy. So, if you want it less spicy (especially for kids who will definitely find this too spicy), I suggest topping it with some sour cream, or stirring it in. Also, I couldn't find beef ravioli, so I used four cheese ravioli and it worked great.

How I Used My Leftover Easter Ham

This recipe is also how I used up some frozen pie shells that I had in my freezer. This was so easy to make and it was really flavorful.

Ham 'n' Cheese Quiche


1 package (14.1 ounces) refrigerated pie pastry
2 cups diced fully cooked ham
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
4 eggs
2 cups half-and-half cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Unroll pastry sheets into two 9-inch pie plates; flute edges. Line unpricked pastry shells with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil. Fill with pie weights, dried beans, or uncooked rice. Bake 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove foil and weights; bake 3-5 minutes longer or until bottom is golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

Divide ham, cheese, and onion between shells. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, cream, salt, and pepper until blended. Pour into shells. Cover edges loosely with foil. Bake 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand 5-10 minutes before cutting.

Yield: 2 quiches (6 servings each)

Nutrition information: 1 slice/serving equals 349 calories.

Source: Taste of Home website. You can find it here.

Notes: This was really good. So easy and surprisingly flavorful (since there are so few ingredients).

Another Chinese Chicken Recipe

This one sounds a lot like the very last recipe that we posted (Lemon Chicken), but it is totally different in flavor. I loved this! I'm thinking that Chinese chicken over rice is one of my new go-to dinner staples.

Sweet, Sticky, and Spicy Chicken


1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger root
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons hot sauce (I opted to use 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes instead)
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2 inch strips (and dredged in 1/4 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper, see notes)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil


Mix together brown sugar, honey, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and hot sauce in a small bowl.

Lightly salt and pepper the chicken strips.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken strips and brown on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Simmer uncovered until the sauce thickens, 8 to 10 minutes.

Source:, submitted by kate. You can find it here.

Notes: I doubled the sauce. You know me. I like things saucy. I also took a note from the last recipe (Lemon Chicken) and decided to coat the chicken in flour to give it a nice browned and breaded texture (as well as to help thicken the sauce).

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Type of Ingredient You Get Handed to You on Chopped


I love to watch the T.V. show that's on the Food Network called "Chopped."  It's fascinating to see chefs handed something that's outside of the box.  This recipe has just that type of ingredient and it worked better than I could have imagined.

Lemon Chicken


1 1/2 pounds chicken breast or chicken tenders, cut into chunks
1/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons wok or vegetable oil, 2 turns of the pan (preferred brand: House of Tsang)
1 tablespoon (a splash) white or rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
8 ounces (1 cup) prepared lemon curd
1/4 cup hot water
1 lemon, zested
2 scallions, thinly sliced or 20 blades fresh chives, finely chopped


Coat the chunked chicken lightly in flour, seasoned with a little salt.  Heat a large skilled or a wok-shaped nonstick pan over high heat.  Stir fry chicken until golden, 3 or 4 minutes.  Remove chicken from the pan and return pan to heat.  Reduce heat to medium.

Add a splash of vinegar to the pan and let it evaporate. Add stock or broth to the pan and scrape up any drippings with a whisk. Thin curd by stirring in a little hot water. Add curd to broth and whisk to combine. Add chicken back to the pan and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes to thicken sauce and finish cooking chicken pieces through. Remove the pan from heat, add the scallion or chives and zest, and toss chicken pieces well to combine zest and scallions or chives evenly throughout the sauce. Serve other rice.

Rachel Ray's cooks notes: Wok oil infused with ginger and garlic is usually available on the International Foods aisle in many markets. Lemon curd is sweet lemon spread available in most markets. It is on the jam/jelly isle.

Source: Rachel Ray, found on Food Network. You can find the recipe here.   

Notes: I made it too! This was posted by my mom, but I tried it too (both of us made it independently of the other, without the others' knowledge). I just HAD to try this. I mean, it sounded so intriguing! Could this really taste like Chinese lemon chicken with so few ingredients, and while using such an interesting ingredient like lemon curd? Well, do you know what? It totally works. I loved this. It was so tasty!

Oh, and I didn't find lemon curd on my jam and jelly aisle. For my grocery store, it was on the baking aisle by the pie filling.

Trying New Old Grains

I've been taking lessons on nutrition and one of the goals was to try a new grain. Well, I decided to try Quinoa. It's been all the rage for a while, but I just hadn't gotten around to it. It was very easy to make and quite tasty. So healthy food can be good and good for you.

Zesty Quinoa Salad


1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 limes, juiced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
5 green olives, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt and ground pepper to taste


Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender and water has been absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Whisk olive oil, lime juice, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and red pepper flakes together in a bowl.

Combine quinoa, tomatoes, black beans, and green onions in a bowl. Pour dressing over quinoa mixture, toss to coat. Stir in cilantro; season with salt and black pepper. Serve immediately or chill in refrigerator.

Source:, submitted by scrumdiddly. You can find it here.

Notes: This has a good flavor and would be a healthy side dish for anything Mexican or Middle-Eastern. We didn't have pepper flakes, but that would have only made it better.

Easy Salted Peanut Chews

Sometimes I'm shocked, just shocked when I search our blog for a recipe that I think I posted and can't find it.  I can't believe that I didn't post this before.  I've made it so many time and it always, always gets a good response.  Try it.  Promise, you'll get raves.

Easy Salted Peanut Chews


1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker peanut butter cookie mix
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon water
1 egg
3 cups miniature marshmallows
2/3 cups light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 bag (10 oz) peanut butter chips
2 cups crisp rice cereal
2 cups salted peanuts


Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray bottom of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray.

In large bowl, stir cookie mix, oil, water and egg until soft dough forms. Press dough in pan using floured fingers.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until set. Immediately sprinkle marshmallows over crust; bake 1 to 2 minutes longer or until marshmallows begin being to puff.

In a 4 quart saucepan, cook corn syrup, butter, vanilla and chips over low heat, stirring constantly until chips are melted. Remove from heat; stir in cereal and nuts. Immediately spoon cereal mixture evenly over the marshmallows. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm. For bars, cut into 9 rows by 4 rows.

36 Bars.

Source:  Betty Crocker website. You can find it here. It has a 5 star rating!

BC Recommendations:  For a different flavor, try milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips for the peanut butter chips.

Well, It's Not MY Grandma's

But it's somebody's.  My grandmother was from New Mexico.  I only met her twice, but I do remember the wonderful homemade tortillas she made.  My other grandmother died before I was born.  But no matter my lineage, I'm in love with a good homemade biscuit; and this is a really good biscuit.

Grandma's Baking Powder Biscuits


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 egg
2/3 cup milk


Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt into a bowl. Use a pastry cutter to chop vegetable shortening into the four mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Whisk egg and milk together in a separate bowl, and slowly add milk mixture to flour mixture, stirring as you pour, until dough is moistened and well-mixed. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven until biscuits have risen and are golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.

Source:, submitted by IMACOOKY1. You can find it here.

Notes: These really were so flaky and so easy. A good accompaniment to any of the soups on our blog.

Chowda? Tortellini? Together? Yep.

This soup was so, so good.  I loved the flavors and it was quite easy.  A few unusual ingredients give it a flavor pop.
Tortellini Chowder


2/3 c chopped onion
1/2 c chopped red bell pepper
1/3 c chopped green chili pepper (not bell)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon margarine or butter (I always use butter)
3 cups vegetable broth
2 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
2 cups cheese tortellini
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (15 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 pint half and half cream


In a large pot over medium heat, cook onion, bell pepper, chile pepper, garlic and jalapeno in margarine until tender but not brown, 5 minutes.

Stir in broth, potatoes, cumin, salt, pepper and red pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes, until potatoes are just tender.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together flour and vegetable oil. Pour into soup, increase heat to medium, and cook until thickened and bubbly. Stir in corn, half and half and tortellini and heat through. Serve.

Source:, submitted by SILVERWOLF. You can find it here.

Notes: This was such a good soup and I loved eating the leftovers. Loved this soup.