Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holly Christmas Cookies

Want a Good Enough Christmas cookie recipe?

Melt 30 marshmallows or 3 C small marshmallows and 1 stick of butter (we use Earth Balance margarine).
Add: 1 t vanilla
1 t green food coloring
5 cups cornflakes

MIX. Cool a little. I spray my hands with cooking spray. Make a circle decorating with red hots.

I made these for our piano recital last week and ran out of the cinnamon candies (red hots), so I used mini M&M's. While I love chocolate, I was surprised to find that I preferred the cinnamon candy ones, but maybe that's just because that's what my mom always made growing up.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Trader Joe's Dinner in 10 minutes

Trader Joe's frozen green beans, potato and cheddar perogis with sour cream.

Do you have easy dinners you love? (because we're running out of ideas at our house)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sweet Mango Lassi

I haven't found a good Indian resturant in Phoenix (any suggestions?), but at least now I can make my own mango lassis.

Introduction to Indian Cooking
March 1998
Julie Sahni
Ten Speed Press

I guarantee that even if you think you don't like yogurt you will love this shake. Combined with mangoes and blended until frothy, lassi is always refreshing, not just at mealtime. The bubbly froth subsides when lassi stands awhile, so whip it again in the blender or whisk it just before serving.

3 cups yogurt
1 cup mango purée, fresh or canned Indian Alphonso mango purée I just cut up a mango and blend it
1/2 cup sugar
1 tray ice cubes

Put all the ingredients in an electric blender or food processor and blend until the ice is crushed and the liquid is frothy. Serve immediately in tall glasses. (The drink will keep, covered, for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Whip again before serving.) Makes 4 servings.

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

This is the first Rachael Ray recipe I ever made. I'd make it once a week if it didn't make me run to get the Benadryl just thinking about making it for Asher.

1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 ounces, 1/4 cup, chopped walnuts
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 really ripe bananas, mashed up
3/4 cup raisins not a fan, so I left them out
1/2 stick butter, 1/4 cup, melted, plus additional for buttering skillet

Maple syrup or honey, for drizzling

Mix dry ingredients, the first 7, in a bowl. In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients, the next 4. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined, and then fold in the mashed up bananas and the raisins. Stir in the melted butter.

Heat a griddle over medium heat and brush with additional melted butter. Cook pancakes, each about 1/3 cup, until bubbles form on the top, then turn. Cakes will cook in about 2 minutes on each side. Keep pancakes tented with foil as they come off the griddle to keep them hot. Serve with drizzled honey or maple syrup over the top.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

California Pizza Kitchen Thai Chicken Pizza

We made this for our cousin dinner last week and it was SO GOOD!!
Makes 2 9-inch pizzas
For Pizza Dough:
1t yeast
1/2 c. plus 1 T warm water
1 1/2 c bread flour or all purpose flour
2t sugar
1t salt
1T extra virgin olive oil plus 1t for coating

1. Dissolve the yeast in the water and set aside for 5-10 minutes.
2. place the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the liquids (reserving the teaspoon of olive oil). Use a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients. Once initial mixing is done, you can lightly oil your hands and begin kneading the dough; knead for 5 minutes. When done, the dough should be slightly tack (that is, it should be barely beyond sticking to your hands).
3. Lightly oil the dough ball and the interior of a 1-quart glass bowl. Place the dough ball in the bowl and seal the bowl with clear food wrap; seal air tight. Set aside at room termperature to rise until double in bulk; about 1 1/2 to 2 hours

Make the peanut sauce from the oriental noodles (see July post under Oriental Sesame Noodles). We liked using this sauce better than the one in the CPK book.

1T olive oil
10 oz. boneless/skinless chicken breast, cut into 3/4-in. cubes
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese (we used a cheddar/monterey jack cheese)
4 scallions, slivered diagonally oriental style
1/2 c. white bean sprouts
1/4 c. shredded carrot
2 T. chopped roasted peanuts
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro

To make Thai Chicken:
1. Cook the chicken in olive oil over medium-high heat, stirring, until just cooked, 5-6 minutes. Do not overcook. set aside in the refrigerator until chilled through. Once chilled, coat the chicken with 1/4 c. peanut sauce. Set aside in the refrigerator.

To make the pizza:
1.Place the pizza stone in the center of the oven and preheat to 500 F for one hour before cooking the pizzas
2. Use a large spoon to spread half of the remaining peanut sauce eavenly over the surface of the prepared dough within the rim. Cover the sauce with 3/4 c. mozzarella.
3. Distribute half the chicken pieces evenly over the cheese followed by half the green onions, bean sprouts, and carrots, repectively. Sprinkle an additional 1/4 c. mozzarella over the other toppings and top the pizza with 1 T. chopped roasted peanuts.
4. Transfer the pizza to the oven; bake until the crust is crisp and golden and the cheese at the center is bubble, 9-10 min. When cooked through, carefully remove the pizza from the oven. Sprinkle 1T chopped fresh cilantro over the hot, cheesy surface. Slice and serve.
5. Repeat with remaining ingredients for a second pizza.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Nate's Marshmallow Salad

This recipe is Nate's favorite holiday dish. He makes TONS of it, but he never writes down the recipe. This is as close as I've come to getting it (and the heavy cream may be too little--we only make it for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'll update after Thanksgiving.).

2 bricks of cream cheese
1 large (20 oz) can crushed pineapple
5-6 bananas
2 pounds grapes
5 apples
1-2 pineapple
2 pomegranate
5 pears
as many Maraschino cherries as you can stand
as many pints of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries that you can find that look good (Nate usually gets 1 or 2 of each)
2 C whip cream
1 bag of marshmallows

1. Whip 2 packages of cream cheese with juice from one can of crushed pineapple. Whip until smooth.
2. Cut up any fruit you want in the salad. I like bananas, grapes, apples, pineapple, pomegranate, pears, Maraschino cherries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and walnuts. About the only fruits that do not taste good in this salad are any melons. Add 1 bag of marshmallows before adding cream cheese mixture.
3. 2-3 hours before servings mix in a large bowl marshmallows, cream cheese mixture. The pineapple juice keeps the fruit from turning brown.
4. 1 hour- 30 minutes before serving whip the cream until stiff and mix it into the fruit salad until it is evenly distributed

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Apple-Maple Glazed Chicken Breasts

I thought, "How good could another chicken recipe be?" This one from Cook's Illustrated is REALLY good (with apple cider, corn syrup and maple syrup, it speaks to my sweet tooth). My kids don't even need to dip it in something. I think it'll be an easy recipe once I've got the hang of the multiple steps.

1 1/2 c apple cider (plus an additional 2 T)
1/3 c light corn syrup
2 T maple syrup
1 T Dijon mustard
1 T white vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
1/8 t red pepper flakes (I left these out)
salt and pepper
1/2 c flour
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves (about 12 ounces each, ribs removed and trimmed of excess fat and skin)
2 t oil
1 medium shallot, minced (3 T)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk 1 1/2 cups apple cider, corn syrup, maple syrup, mustard, vinegar, pepper flakes, 1/8 t salt, and 1/8 t pepper together in medium bowl. Place flour in pie plate, then season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Working with one chicken breast at a time, coat chicken with flour, patting off excess.

2. Heat oil (I used 2 T, 2 t didn't seem like enough) in an ovenproof 12-inch skillet (I used my iron skillet) over medium heat until shimmering. Add chicken breasts skin-side down; cook until well browned and most of fat has rendered from skin, 8-14 minutes. (If after 3 minutes you don't hear definite sizzling, increase heat to medium-high. If after 6 minutes chicken is darker than lightly browned, reduce heat slightly.) Turn chicken and lightly brown other side, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to plate.

3. Pour off all but 1 t fat from pan (I left 2 T fat again). Add shallot and cook until softened, 1-2 min. Increase heat to high and add apple cider mixture. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until syrupy and reduce to 1 c (heatproof spatula should leave a slight trail when dragged through glaze), 6-10 min (mine took more like 15-20 min; I don't think I had the heat on high enough). Remove skillet from heat and tilt to one side so glaze pools in corner of pan. Using tongs, roll each chicken breast in pooled glaze to coat evenly and place skin-side down in skillet (um, I didn't see this part, my breasts were skin side up, which I think made them nice and brown).

4. Transfer skillet to oven and bake chicken until thickest part of breasts registers 160 degrees on instant read thermometer, 25-30 minutes, turning chicken skin-side up halfway through cooking (yep, mine were skin-side up the whole time). Transfer chicken to platter and let rest 5 mintues. Return skillet to high heat (be careful--handle will be very hot) and cook glaze, stirring constantly, until thick and syrupy (heatproof spatula should leave wide trail when dragged through glaze), about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and whisk in remaining 2 T apple cider. Spoon 1 t glaze over each breast and serve, passing remaining glaze at table.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Best Sandwich Creation (to date)

Last night I threw together a delicious sandwich and wanted to share it.

I used toasted Artisan Bread
Grilled chicken tenderloin (or breast)
Grilled yellow bell pepper
Cheddar cheese
and the secret ingredient: Fresh & Easy's Creamy cilantro dressing (just like they have at Costa Vida).

It was yummylicious

And for dessert, we had friends come over with Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies (my favorite!) and the recipe was only 3 ingredients.

1 can (15 oz) Pumpkin
1 box Spice cake mix
chocolate chips (to taste)

Bake at 400 for 8-11 min.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pumpkin Bread

Arcadia Ward Cookbook, Sharon Williams

The official title of this recipe is Pumpkin Bread with Warm Blackberry Compote, but I've never made the blackberry compote. The bread is so good, I never felt it needed more.

Every fall, I make this frequently, but it's always been hard for me to get the loaf to cook all the way through. It does better in the bundt pan, and still, I have troubles there, too. This year, I had the genius idea to make these into mini-muffins--cuts the cooking time down, and there's more crunchy muffin tops to enjoy.

Also, this is a handy food storage recipe (with the egg replacement, everything is found in the pantry)--because we Mormons love a little (or a lot) food storage :).

3 eggs (or egg replacement equivalent, we like Ener-G egg replacer, found at Whole Foods or Wild Oats)
2 1/2 c sugar
14 oz pumpkin
3 c flour
1 t salt
2 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1 1/2 t nutmeg
1 1/2 t ground cloves
1 1/2 t allspice
1 1/2 c walnuts, chopped (optional)

Cream sugar, oil and eggs together. Then, add pumpkin. Mix and sift all the following ingredients (except walnuts) together and then add slowly to creamed mixture. Bake at 350 for 60 to 65 minutes in a large bunt pan. Cool on wire rack.

If you wanted to put this into your 3 month food storage rotation and make it once a week, here's everything you'd need.

Box of egg replacer (it can be used to substitute 100+ eggs in baking recipes)
12 pounds + 3 c sugar12 cans of pumpkin
9 pounds flour
1/4 c salt
1/2 c baking powder
1/4 t cinnamon
approx 2/5 c nutmeg
approx 2/5 c ground cloves
approx 2/5 c allspice

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Orange Zucchini Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

One of my blogging friends posted this on our listserve. I won't tell you how many times I've made it with the rationalization that the zucchini makes it healthy.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs (we use egg replacer)
1/2 cup wheat germ (I couldn't find this at my usual stores, so I used whole wheat flour instead)
1 1/2 tsp grated orange peel
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup chopped nuts (left this out to make it allergy-safe for our family)

Combine flour, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. In large mixing bowl, beat sugar, oil and eggs until well combined. Stir in wheat germ, peel, and vanilla. Add flour mixture, zucchini and nuts. Mix well. Spread evenly in greased 10 x 6 x 2 inch glass baking dish. Bake at 325 degrees F for 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool completely. Spread with orange cream cheese frosting. 12 servings

I've made this as a cake and as cupcakes. I like the ease of the cupcakes, and the baking time was reduced a bit.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

3 ozs. cream cheese, softened
1 TBS margarine or butter, softened
1/2 tsp grated orange peel
1 1/1 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
Milk if needed (I used the orange juice from the orange I zested instead)

In small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, margarine and peel until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy and of spreading consistency. If mixture is too thick, add 1-2 tsps milk.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mexican Chocolate Butter Cookies

Really, can a name get any better than this? Four of my favorite foods! The cayenne pepper makes the cookies warm, not spicy. I added a bit more in my next batch to give them a bit more of a kick, and I don’t usually love spicy food. We topped our cookies with the glaze and put orange sprinkles to make them more Halloweeny. Also, the recipe is long but rather forgiving. IT wasn’t until I typed this up that I realized how many steps I skipped!

Mexican Chocolate Butter Cookies
Cooks Illustrated

Natural cocoa powder will work in this recipe, but we found that Dutch-processed yields the best chocolate flavor. Espresso powder provides complexity, but instant coffee can be substituted in a pinch. The dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for up to two weeks. Defrost frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight, then let stand at room temperature until firm yet malleable, about 30 minutes. The cookies are refined enough to serve plain, but a dusting of sifted confectioners’ sugar or chocolate glaze is a nice touch. Baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days but should be dusted with sugar or glazed the day they are served.

Makes 4 dozen 2 ½ inch cookies I swear I didn’t eat THAT much dough—but I have only gotten 3 dozen
½ c sliced almonds
1 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t cayenne pepper
20 T unsalted butter (2 ½ sticks)
½ c cocoa powder
1 t espresso powder I couldn’t find this. I’ve used 2 t natural coffee flavored Postum, which was ok. Then, I used 1 t instant decaf coffee—amazing!
1 c sugar
¼ t salt
2 large egg yolks
1 T vanilla extract
2 ¼ c all-purpose flour
½ c turbinado sugar

Optional Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
4 T unsalted butter
2 T corn syrup
1 t vanilla extract

1. In a medium skillet set over medium heat, toast almonds, cinnamon, and cayenne until fragrant, about 3 minutes; set aside to cool. I would recommend toasting the almonds 2-3 minutes before adding the cinnamon and cayenne. I almost burned the spices the first time and didn’t get the almonds as toasted as I’d like. In food processor with metal blade, process cooled mixture until very find, about 15 seconds. Set aside.
2. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Melt 4 T butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and espresso powder; stir until mixture forms smooth paste. Set aside to cool, 15-20 minutes.
3. In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix remaining 16 T butter, sugar, salt and cooled cocoa mixture on high speed until well combined and fluffy, about 1 min, scraping sides of mixing bowl once or twice with rubber spatula. Add yolks and vanilla and mix on medium speed until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape sides of bowl. Whisk nut/spice mixture into flour. With mixer running on low, add flour in three additions, waiting until each addition is incorporated before adding next and scraping bowl after each addition. Continue to mix until dough forms cohesive ball, about 5 seconds. Shape into dough log, 2 inches in diameter and bout 12 inches long; use parchment paper or plastic wrap to roll into neat cylinder. Chill until very firm and cold, at least 1 hour.
4. Roll chilled log in sugar. Slice cookies ¼ inch and place on parchment lined baking sheets. I didn’t roll in sugar. Um, I don’t think I even know what turbinado sugar is. And, I don’t have parchment paper either—an ungreased cookie sheet works just fine.
5. Bake until cookies show slight resistance to touch (I like them best when you lightly touch them and the indentation is left behind), 10-12 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through baking time (hmm, missed this step, too); if cookies begin to darken on edges, they have overbaked (I learned the hard way that they will be bitter, so watch them!). Cool for 5 minutes, then, using spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack (um, I just took them right off them pan onto the rack, but a few did break during the transfer. Oh, well, scraps for me!); cool completely.
6. For Glaze: Melt bittersweet chocolate with butter and whisk until smooth. Add corn syrup and vanilla extract and mix until smooth and shiny. Use back of spoon to spread 1 scant teaspoon glaze almost to edge of cookie. (If necessary, reheat to prolong fluidity of glaze.) Allow glazed cookies to dry at least 20 minutes.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Aunt Carol's Chicken Salad

Aunt Carol's chicken salad is always a hit whenever I make it, and it's so easy. The chicken salad on homemade bread is my husband's favorite dinner that I make.

4 whole chicken breasts, cooked (I cook in crock pot with celery, onions, potatoes, 1/2 c white wine, 2 cups water to make chicken broth to use later)
½ cup celery (about ½ a bunch)
¼ cup chopped green onion (also, about half a bunch)
1/8 cup slivered almonds that have been sautéed in butter (optional, but well worth it!)

Reduce chicken broth. Mix ½ cup broth with 1 cup mayonnaise. Add to make as moist as you like. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Macaroni and Cheese

Every once in a while I get a version of a staple recipe that makes me throw out all the other versions I have--a good chili recipe or a great salad dressing. I searched long and hard for the macaroni and cheese recipe. Just as I had resigned myself to the idea that maybe what I was hoping for didn't exist, I found it from a friend of a friend's blog...

I love that this recipe doesn't make you stir the shredded cheese into the white sauce.

So, if you live near me and have a baby, this is what you'll be getting for dinner. Thanks, Rebecca!

Strawberry Mold

I don't love the name, but I love this jello side dish (ok, it should probably be a dessert, but I love my sweets). I've changed Paula Deen's version, which has nuts and sour cream, a bit to make it Asher-safe and a little less sweet.

2 (3-ounce) packages strawberry gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1 pint fresh strawberries
3 medium bananas, sliced
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

Dissolve the gelatin the boiling water. Add the remaining ingredients except the sour cream. Pour half of the mixture in a salad mold; let chill until firm.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bowtie Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, & Cream

I found this recipe at and I think it’s a winner & fast!
Bow Ties with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cream

1 (12oz) package of bowtie pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28ounce) can Italian-style plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
1 ½ cups heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain.
Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Cook sausage and pepper flakes until sausage is evenly brown. Stir onion and garlic, and cook until onion is tender. Stir in tomatoes, cream, and salt. Simmer until mixture thickens, 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir cooked pasta into sauce, and heat through. Sprinkle with parsley.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Grandma Vernon's Fresh Peach Pie

I discovered this recipe at a friend's cabin just weeks after getting married. Grandma Vernon herself made the pie and I still have the old, scribbled notebook sheet on which I wrote down her recipe. (yellowed and covered in bits of dried peaches, of course)

I usually make 2 at a time, so I double it.
Here's the recipe I used for pie crusts, but use your favorite.

1 C peaches, crushed (I blend them with all the ingredients except water)
3/4 C sugar
3/4 C water
3 T cornstarch
1/4 t salt
1/2 t lemon juice

Bring to a boil and simmer 3 minutes (about half the time, I burn the first batch. To minimize chances of burning, stir CONSTANTLY, with a nonstick pan and a silicone scrapper)
Push liquids through a sieve. (Like I said above, I just blend it. The color is darker, but I use all of the peaches, and there is plenty of glaze)

Slice fresh peaches into cooked pie shell (till full). Pour cool liquid over peaches. Top with fresh whipped cream.

(I also used a recipe that included covering the bottom of the pie crust with a sugared cream cheese. That's a bonus if you've got extra time)

I'm loving my box of peaches, but it's almost gone!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Buttermilk Syrup

In a medium saucepan bring the following 3 ingredients to boiling while stirring.
1c sugar
1c butter
1/2c buttermilk
Then remove from heat and add the following.
1/2tsp baking soda
1tsp vanilla

I got this recipe at Enrichment last week, one woman called it liquid gold and I have to agree.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Whole Wheat Pear Granola Muffins

I would guess many of (ok, at least the Arizonans) you are following the sad plight of the Nielsens (btw, there's a fundraising event for them tomorrow). In addition to her family blog, Nie Nie also has cooking blog (vegetarian and healthy--gosh, is there anything she doesn't do?).

Lots of tasty looking dishes. We tried this one last week. I'll admit, I actually did 1 c all-purpose flour and 3/4 cup whole wheat flour because I don't love whole wheat. These muffins were so goog, that I think next time, I'll flip the ratios to back to Nie's.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Orange French Toast

I recently stumbled upon a treasure trove of yummy recipes (through a friend's blog) at We loved this one... for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert! The orange flavor really made it extra tasty. (My substitutions are in parentheses.)

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup half and half (whole milk)
  • zest and juice of 1 large orange (1 c. orange juice)
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 8-10 thick (1”) slices Italian or French bread (white sandwich bread)
  • 2 T. butter
  • powdered sugar
  • warmed maple syrup or ORANGE MAPLE SYRUP

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, orange zest and juice, brown sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Dip the bread in egg mixture and cook in the butter in a large skillet for 3-4 minutes per side. Serve with powdered sugar and warmed maple syrup or ORANGE MAPLE SYRUP.


  • 2 T. water
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup orange juice concentrate
  • 4 oz. (1 stick) butter
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • zest of 1 orange
  • ½ cup honey

In a medium saucepan, bring water, brown sugar and orange juice to a simmer. Add the butter, maple syrup, orange zest and honey. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes. Serve warm over pancakes, French toast or waffles. Refrigerate any left over syrup and then reheat as needed. Makes about 1 ½ cups syrup.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Caesar Salad Tacos

*10 ounces romaine lettuce
*2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
*1 avocado
*1 (4-oz.) can diced green chiles
*1/2 cup canned black beans
*1/4 cup frozen whole kernel corn
*1/3 cup Caesar salad dressing
*1/4 cup Medium Taco Sauce (that's the green stuff in a bottle in the mexican food isle)
*12 Taco shells or tortillas
*2 cups diced tomato

COMBINE lettuce, 1 cup of the cheese, avocado, chiles, beans and corn in a large bowl.
COMBINE dressing and taco sauce in a small bowl; mix well. Pour over lettuce mixture; toss well to coat.
FILL each taco shell with salad mixture; top with remaing cheese and tomatoes.

Credit goes to my good friend Deb but this recipe is great for when it is too hot to cook!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Vegetable Lasgna

Here's another recipe site I love that I got off of my cousin, Summer's blog (gotta love Jenny, a fellow SAHM from Arizona with a cheery disposition). Jenny is a woman after my own heart, who favors recipes with peanut butter, chocolate, bananas, goat cheese, and bacon (um, but not all in the same recipe).

We had this delicious Garden Vegetable Lasgna tonight. As I was shopping for the ingredients, I wanted someone to see all the vegetables I was getting. Because I'm a sucker for parenting magazines and all their rules, I felt like my load of eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, baby spinach, and bell pepper pretty much made me the best mom ever.

Unfortunately, the two grocery stores I went to didn't have fennel or marscapone cheese. So, I left out the fennel and put in goat cheese instead. I loved the flavor of the goat cheese, but it only made me wonder what it would have tasted like with the marscapone. I'll definitely make it again with ALL the ingredients.

I've been trying to get our family to lighten up on the meat, so Nate was less than thrilled when he found out it was a vegetarian lasgna, but he really liked it. ("But, you'll still make a meat one once in a while, right?")

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pei Wei Salad (Copy)

My sister showed me this blog, which inspired me to start our recipe blog. It has some lovely easy recipes on it (and lately, I'm ALL about easy--hmmm, I guess I'll find out if Nate reads this blog because he's certain to add some comment here)

We had this for dinner tonight. I only used 1 bag of the Costco orange chicken (which is delicious on its own, btw) and halved the salad part. Next time, I think I'll leave out the carrots and add bell pepper instead, maybe some ginger to the vinagrette. I feel snotty adding my additions because really, this recipe is a great one and quite a lovely change from the usual chicken salad.

Incidentally, I've also strong-armed my brother, Dave, and my sister, Rachel, to join our recipe blog. Since I'm always using their recipes, I figure I ought to get them to post and save me a bit of trouble.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

After watching this slideshow on, I had to try the Red, White and Blue Potato Salad. I love blue cheese in my potato salad. This recipe has been a long time favorite.

I tried this version because it had the fancy red, white and blue potatoes. I'm glad I took the picture before I put the dressing on the potatoes because they don't really look red or blue once the dressing is added.

While I still love my original version, I think the red, white, and blue one is more of a crowd pleaser. The sugar and the peas take off the "edge" many people find with blue cheese.

I halved the recipe and had enough as a side dish for two dinners.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cafe Rio/Costa Vida Lunch

I'm not sure if the East Coasters in our group are familiar with Costa Vida or Cafe Rio, but they're tasty Baja-style Mexican resturants in Utah and Arizona (maybe elsewhere, now?). Jessica gave me this recipe. It's such a handy one for a quick party meal.

Costa Vida Sweet Pork

6 (approx) pounds of port butt/shoulder
1 19oz. Red Enchilada Sauce
1 can Dr. Pepper or (20oz)
1 tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Garlic salt
½ c. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Fresh cilantro, chopped

*Wrap meat in foil. Put in roasting pan and bake at 275 degrees for 5 h ours. Pull the meat out and let it cool for 30 minutes then shred. In separate bowl, mix the enchilada sauce, Dr. Pepper, salt, garlic salt, brown sugar and chopped cilantro. Pour over meat and mix.

Um, I just throw all of these ingredients (except the cilantro) in the crock pot and mix the above ingredients in the crock pot. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. I'm sure roasting would make it delicious, but during an Arizona summer, it would make my kitchen about 105 degrees.

Café Rio Salad Dressing

1 1/3 c. sour cream
¾ c. mayonnaise
½ bunch cilantro chopped
1 package ranch dressing mix
4 Tbsp. Salsa verde (green salsa)
2 cloves of garlic
1/8 tsp. Tabasco sauce (optional)
Juice of one lime
Milk to thin it out

*mix together in blender and that’s it!

Cilantro Lime Rice

3 c. cooked white rice (or brown)
1 tsp. Lime zest, minced (optional)
1-2 Tbsp. Fresh lime juice
2-3 Tbsp. Cilantro, finely minced really small

*Toss lime juice, and cilantro with the cooked rice. Serve warm or cold.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

SLP's Thai Peanut Noodles (and an Asher-safe version)

Some of us are great cooks, we can follow a recipe to the T, and some of us are great chefs. Inspiration strikes, and we make masterpieces.

Well, I shouldn't say "we" when it comes to chefs. I'm a solid cook, but SLP, she's a chef. She made this recipe for Gourmet Group years ago. Every time I make it (maybe once a week during the summer), there aren't any leftovers.

Her original version is amazing, but with my family, I've had to tweak it a bit. It's still quite tasty if you can't eat peanuts, shrimp or soy sauce (really, I promise!).

1 lb cooked peeled shrimp (I grill chicken)

1 C Italian salad dressing
2 T crunchy peanut butter (sunflower butter for Asher)
1 T soy sauce (Worcester sauce for Asher)
1 T honey
1 t ground ginger
½ t red pepper flakes
1 T sesame oil
8 oz package rice noodles (cooked)
2 T fresh cilantro
1 carrot, shredded
1 C green onions
1 C green beans (because my boys love this so much, they'll even eat the green beans)
2/3 C peanuts (optional)

Coat shrimp with ½ c Italian dressing and refrigerate for 30 minutes to absorbe the flavor. Mix the remaining dressing with the peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger and red pepper

Saute carrot, green onions and shrimp in sesame oil until shrimp is done. Mix pasta, peanut sauce and shrimp and serve

Thanks, SLP! This one has been a winner in our house for years, now...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pineapple Slush

Another Arcadia Ward Cookbook recipe (I'm using it all the time lately). I made this for the baby shower, too. I'd half the recipe for a party of 20-30 people since I froze 2/3rds of it after the party. It was a perfect summer shower beverage. I have to think of another reason to have a party and thaw it out.

Grandma Effie Drigg's Pineapple Slush
Kathleen Holyoak

1 large can pineapple juice
3 c orange juice
1 c fresh lemon juice
3 c sugar
3 large bananas I totally forgot to do this step
3 qt 7-up

Boil 6 cups of water and the sugar. I brought the water to a boil, added the sugar and stirred until dissolved. I also let it cool to room temp before adding the juice. I don't know, I guess I thought the hot water might "cook" the juices and make them less tasty. (I have no idea if that's actually true, though) Add to pineapple juice, orange juice, and lemon juice. Cool and freeze. To serve, mush 3 large bananas and pour 3 quarts of 7-up over slush. Note: 3 qt of 7 up and the juice mixture was waaay too much for my punch bowl. We only managed to fit the sluch and 1 7-up bottle in.

Kate's sister, and my friend, Sara, has her own cooking blog (darn it! I wanted to recruit here for our's, especially since Sara is a master baker, and I, alas, am not.) with lots of good recipes. She has a punch recipe that looks quite similar if you're looking for a little variety...

...which reminds me, I keep forgetting to mention that my best friend growing up has joined our cooking blog. Kate can do everything really well (cooking, crafts, drawing). I'm still totally bummed that Kate and I aren't in the same congregation so when we do crafty stuff I can just have her finish/fix mine.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Dulce de Leche Chocolate Bars

Doesn't the name alone make you salivate? I had been wanting to make these for a while and a friend's baby shower last weekend afforded the perfect opportunity.

I assumed I'd be making the dulce de leche, but the recipe has you buy it. Living in Arizona, where Latin food items are plentiful, I thought this would be no problem. I went to 3 grocery stores to find it and almost gave up, hoping that there was some mistranslation and dulce de leche was actually sweetened condensed milk (it's not!). The picture is dulce de leche on the right and sweetened condensed milk on the left. Easy to confuse, right?

The recipe says to refrigerate for 2 hours. I would suggest freezing for 2 hours or refrigerating for 4 hours. These were a bit "gummy" to cut and didn't look very pretty.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cold Sesame Noodles

Another Arcadia Ward Cookbook favorite. They're almost as good as the noodles you can get in NYC's Chinatown!

And, I've tried A LOT of these noodle recipes to find a Chinatown replicate.

1 lb linguine or lo mien noodles

3 T soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
2 T packed brown sugar
1/2 C creamy peanut butter
1 T sesame oil
1 t grated gingerroot (or 1/3 t ground ginger)
1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 to 1/2 t red pepper flakes

Noodles: Cook al dente according to the directions on package. Rinse

Sauce: Cook all ingredients in a saucepan on medium heat. Stir until thickened and smooth. Cool. Toss and garnish with chopped scallions (and I like to add chopped cilantro and squeeze a little lime juice over the top).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

2 Easy Side Dishes

Sometimes, I like to pretend that if I make a delicious vegetable side dish, my kids will eat it all without a fuss. Well, at least they tried these:

Asher-safe Broccoli Slaw (see here for the original version)
Bag of pre-cut Broccoli Slaw
1 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil1
1/2 teaspoons sweet chili sauce
a sprinkling of craisins and/or toasted sunflower seeds (optional)

Whisk vinegar, ginger, oil, and chili-garlic sauce in small bowl to blend; pour over vegetables and toss to coat. Season with salt and serve.

Roasted Green Beans with Red Onion (see here for the original version)
1 pound green beans, trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon zest
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Toss the green beans in a large baking dish with the oil and onion and season with salt and pepper. Roast until just cooked through and golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes. Combine the zest and parsley in a small bowl. Transfer green beans to a platter and sprinkle with the mixture.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mint Tea Sandwiches

I thought mint in sandwiches sounded kind of gross, but when the mint takes over the garden, this is an excellent way to use it.

Minted Radish Tea Sandwiches (this makes lots of extra lemon mayonnaise, but it seems to keep for a while, and it's so refreshing on an ordinary turkey sandwich)

Cucumber Mint Tea Sandwiches (a new take on the traditional cucumber sandwich)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Grilled Summer Salad

Ok, I haven't tried this, but it looks so good and I love peppers and goat cheese.

I also like what he said about not needing to eat so much meat.

See, Emily, you're not the only one who posts on here! (but, I'm not doing the post, just adding a link: a little lamer, but hey, it's a start!)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

EXII recipes

I blog on a Mormon feminist site and used to do a monthly recipe feature. After a while, I thought I was the only one who was enjoying my monthly recipes, so I stopped.

Hmmm, come to think of it, I may be the only one who enjoys the recipes on this blog, too, but I still think it's worthwhile to have them all in one place (and isn't blogging all about naval-gazing anyway? :)

Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta
Carrot Ginger Dressing
Miso Eggplant
Red Lentil Soup
Sweet Potato Casserole
Summer Produce recipes (peaches and tomatoes)
Homemade Bread
Choi Sum
Black Beans and Rice
White Trash Dip
Barbequed Pork Tenderloin
Arugula and Grilled Chevre Salad
Artichoke Pesto

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Red, White, and Blue Ice Cream Cake

Last Fourth of July, I thought, I want to make a really neat 4th of July dish. So, I made this ice cream cake. It's delicious (each sorbet would be fabulous on it's own) and beautiful. A stunning dessert. But, it takes FOREVER to make.

I think this year I'll just enjoy the Epicurious slideshow of patriotic dishes.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fresh Peach Pie

This is one of my top 3 favorite pie recipes from Anne Christensen (her daughters taught my first cooking class when I was 8), and it comes from the best cookbook I own.

When I was in Young Women's, we did a fundraising project for Girl's Camp and made a cookbook (which is what our dear leaders wanted us to think).

Um, we, the Young Women, didn't do much more than collect recipes from our moms. I can't imagine putting together this big of a cookbook today without the conveniences of email, cutting and pasting (all the recipes were written by hand and turned into the Young Women--the adults organized, indexed, typed AND typed!).

15+ years later, this cookbook is highly coveted because it is so full of the BEST recipes ("Really?" someone will say, "You have a black Arcadia Ward cookbook?"). It's everything a ward cookbook should be, full of my favorite childhood recipes by my favorite people growing up. I'd be so sad if I lost mine!

Coconut Almond Crust:
1 c blanched almonds
1 c canned moist-style coconut, flaked--I just use the bag of coconut in the baking section
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grind almonds medium-fine. Mix with cocnut. Work in sugar and butter with fingers or spoon. Press evenly in bottom and sides of a 9-inch glass pie plate, reserving 3 T of crumbs for the top. Bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown. If edges get too brown, cover with foil. Place remaining crumbs in pan and toast in oven, same time as pie shell, about 5 minutes.

1 c sour cream
dash salt
6 T powdered sugar
1 t orange juice
1 t orange zest
1 t vanilla
4-5 large peaches, peeled and sliced
1 c whipping cream

Beat sour cream. Add salt, 4 T powdered sugar, orange juice, zest, and vanilla. Spread on bottom and sides of shell. Cover with peaches, arranged in attractive manner in shell (or just dump them all in). Whip cream. Fold in remaining 2 T powdered sugar. Cover peaches with whipped cream. Sprinkle top with remaining mixture from pie shell. Chill.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mango Chicken Summer Rolls

Is it just me or is it hard to think of something to make for dinner when it's 114 degrees? This is my version of Gourmet's Mango Shrimp Summer Rolls because alas, shrimp in a Phoenician summer tends to be nasty.

Dipping Sauce: Trader Joe's Satay Peanut Sauce

2 grilled chicken breasts (I sprinkle McCormick's Steak Seasoning Salt liberally over each breast), cut into strips
6-8 oz rice noodles
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt I often forget this and can't really tell a difference
16 (8-inch) rice-paper rounds plus additional in case some tear approximately
1/2 cup of fresh cilantro leaves* approximately
1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves* approximately
1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves*
*I like to use 2 of these; I've never had all three on hand.

Get your knife ready!

1 seedless cucumber (usually plastic-wrapped; 1 lb), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/8-inch-thick matchsticks
3 scallions, cut into 3-inch-long julienne strips
1 lb firm-ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/8-inch-thick matchsticks

Add noodles to boiling water and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes.

Drain in a colander, then rinse under cold running water and drain well. Stir together vinegar, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until sugar is dissolved, then add noodles and toss to coat.

Find a shallow bowel that will fit the rice rounds. Fill with fairly hot water (the hotter the water, the faster the rice rounds soften). I have to refill my water often because I'm kind of slow.

I use 2 rice rounds at a time to make the summer rolls more structurally sound.

Soften 2 rice rounds by placing in the warm water; it'll take about 30 seconds (sometimes longer if the water isn't very hot). Gently lift the rounds together and lay on work surface.

I like approximately a tablespoon of each herb, 2-3 mango, scallions, and cucumber matchsticks each, 3 T of rice noodles, and 2 chicken strips. Sometimes, I'll add bell pepper, carrot, or grilled portobello mushroom or grilled tofu (in place of the chicken, but if I didn't make the grilled chicken, I'd have a riot on my hands).

Wrap like a burrito, or chimichanga, or spring roll--you know, a nice neat packet (but mine don't always look very nice or neat). Repeat again, and again, and again :)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Dinner Rolls

I have a friend who makes the most fabulous rolls every Sunday. Katie was nice enough to share her recipe for our church's cooking group. Watching her make those rolls was amazing, and she gave me enough tips that I was able to make them Asher-safe (no eggs, soy, milk). I put her tips in bold and mine in the usual italics

2 cups warm milk (45 second in the microwave) I use water
2 T dry yeast (Costco sells huge yeast packages that last for 1 year in the fridge that come out to a fraction of the cost of grocery store yeast packets)
1/3 c sugar

In a large bowl, combine the above ingredients. Let stand for 10 minutes (or until yeast has dissolved and mixture is fluffy).


1/3 cup shortening (Crisco butter-flavored) (Spectrum palm oil shortening for us)
2 1/2 t salt
1 egg (optional)
5-6 cups flour

Add the flour 1/2 cup at a time until well mixed. Don't need to worry about overmixing; you can tell the dough is done in the mixer when the dough pulls away from the bowl and balls around the dough hook. Let rise in a warm place until triple in size (this normally takes 45 minutes to 1 hour). A good place for this is in a cool oven with a pan of hot water under the racks.

Divide the dough in half. Roll out into desired shapes. Katie makes lovely evenly sized crescent rolls; mine are haphazardly-sized, often slightly deformed crescent shaped things. Let rise in warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Bake rols at 400 degree for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Another friend made a very tasty orange butter to go with these rolls. Thanks, Leonore!

1 lb butter, 4 sticks, softened
1/4 c frozen orange juice concentrate, defrosted
1 1/3 c powdered sugar
2 oranges' zest

Dissolve powdered sugar in orange juice. Add zest and butter.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blueberry Syrup

It doesn't get any easier than this, and it was sooo good (I'm not even a huge blueberry fan). Nate found this gem and made it for my French toast for Mother's Day.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

BBQ Pork Fried Rice

The pork in this recipe is so tasty that I might just make it and skip the rice (but the rice is good, too). The only thing I'd change is cut the rice from 6 cups (waaay too much) to 3.,,FOOD_9936_35793,00.html

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Spinach Chicken Salad

Love this recipe from Adrianne. Like the other contributors on this site, I know that if I get a recipe from Adrianne, it'll be delicious.

Spinach Chicken Salad
1 bunch of spinach, washed, torn into bite size pieces I've used whatever lettuce is in my fridge
1 bunch of green onions, sliced thinly
12 oz bowtie pasta, cooked and chilled
8 oz sugared almonds
1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, 1 orange or yellow pepper I do 2 peppers since I'm the only one who eats them
4-6 chicken breasts

Cook chicken in peanut oil. Chicken will brown nicely. Cut into bit size pieces. In large bowl combine green onions, cooked pasta, chicken and peppers. Toss with dressing and allow to chill until ready to serve.

¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
½ to ¾ cup oil
3 T sugar
¼ t salt
¼ t pepper
1/3 cup soy sauce

Right before serving, toss with additional dressing if needed and gently add spinach. Sprinkle sugared almonds on top.

I like the salad best Adrianne's way, but lately, I've been pouring the salad dressing over the chicken, peppers, pasta, and green onions. Then, putting that mixture over a bed of lettuce (or just eating it without the lettuce like a pasta salad).

Monday, April 21, 2008

Grilled New Potatoes

Just had these as a side dish tonight. Forgot how much I love them! The nice thing about this dish is it's all about approximations; it always turns out quite tasty.

Grilled New Potatoes with Parmesan and Herbs

5 lbs small red-skinned potatoes
4 T olive oil
1 C thinly sliced green onions
3 T chopped parsley
3 T grated Parmesan (I like feta to go with the oregano, or maybe I'm just too lazy to grate the Parmesan)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 t chopped fresh oregano (any fresh herb works; we've done rosemary, basil, and thyme)

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and cool. Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Cut potatoes in half; transfer to large bowl. Add 2 T oil; toss to coat. Grill potatoes until golden, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Drizzle 2 T oil over. Add remaining ingredients; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Easy brunch recipes?

In a few weeks, my sister and I are excited to host a brunch for our future sister-in-law in Provo. Our problem is we can't make it up until about midnight on Wednesday, and the brunch is 10 am Thursday morning.

Does anyone have quick brunch recipes we could use? Or, do you know any places around Provo or Springville where we could get brunch goodies?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Chicken Tikka Masala

I've found all my favorite kinds of food in Phoenix except 2: seafood and Indian food. I don't think seafood will ever be the same for me after living right by the ocean. But, I figured I could try to make my own Indian food. This is my favorite Indian dish; the version is done by Cook's Illustrated (unfortunately, I can't get the link to work tonight).

A Martha Stewart tip: freeze the ginger before grating. This makes it easier to measure, and I feel like you don't loose all that good ginger juice.

Chicken Tikka
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground coriander
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1 t salt
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 c plain whole milk yogurt
2 T vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 T grated fresh ginger

Masala Sauce
3 T vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 t grated fresh ginger
1 fresh seranno chile, ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced I left this out
1 T tomato paste
1 T garam masala
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 t sugar
1/2 t salt
2/3 c heavy cream
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.

Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed backing sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1 inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt and serve.

Love this over some basmati rice!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Easy Spring Dinner

Balsamic Flank Steak --we use this marinade all summer long for grilling; we've done pork, chicken, beef, eggplant. All delicious, at least once a week.

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 T brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t crushed dried rosemary --I put in 2-3 fresh sprigs because rosemary grows like crazy out here
salt and pepper
1 1/2 lb flank steak

In a resealable plastic bag or shallow dish, combine vinegar, sugar, garlic, rosemary, 1 t coarse salt, and 1/2 t ground pepper. Pierce meat all over with fork; add marinade, and turn to coat. Let marinate at room temperature at least 15 minutes, or cover and refrigerate up to 1 day.

Heat grill to high; oil grates. Remove steaks from marinade, allowing excess to drip off. Grill steaks 2 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate; cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest 5 minutes.

Baked potatoes (pricked with a fork, 5 min high in microwave) with the fixin's
Grilled asparagus (wash and snap of bottoms of asparagus, drizzle and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, leave on the grill with the steak for 5-10 min)
Fruit of your choice

This menu has been used for Luke's birthday dinner and 2 Sunday dinners. Looks fancy, but takes so little time. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Roasted Beet Salad

Made this for dinner last night (another keeper from my Gourmet cookbook) to go with steak. I wasn't very well-prepared, though. So, I used a bartlett pear instead of an Asian one, and a tablespoon of minced red onion instead of a shallot.

I wasn't sure I would like the end result; the pairings seemed a little strange. But, the sweetness of the beets and pears goes really well with the acidity of the lemon juice. The salty almonds was another nice layer.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Favorite Meal Planning Website

I was telling Emily about today and just wanted to link it from this really awesome recipe site!
After you register, you can use the meal planner, and also search for recipes, put them in your meal planner, then it will transfer everything to your shopping list. You can also upload your favorite recipes to share and store in your cookbook. I usually print my meal plan and put it on my fridge so I don't have to stare blankly in my cupboards at 5 PM and think, "What am I making for dinner?"

The recipes on here look great, I'm excited to try some and add a few of my own favorites!

Thanks for inviting me, Emily!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Asher's birthday lunch

We had a party for Asher's friends and their families this weekend. Here's the menu we did:

Hamburgers and hot dogs
Black Bean Salad
Fruit tray
Vegetable tray
Buttermilk cake with lemon cream cheese frosting I used the recipe in the Gourmet cookbook, which is reduced by about 1/4 of this recipe. The cake came out fine, but it took A LOT longer to bake.

6 advocados
3 finely minced garlic cloves (further mushed into a paste with a little garlic)
2 1/2 limes juiced
salt to taste

Dice and mash advocadoes, add everything else.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Pistachio Pasta with Turkey

We had a small family birthday party for Asher. I knew his favorite dish was the Ragu pasta I make once a week, but I wanted this pasta dish I got from Kate H, complete with her handy notes (thanks, Kate!).

Pistachio Pasta with Turkey
from Colorado Cache

3/4 c basil pesto, at room temperature
1 c shelled pistachio nuts (I like to toast them for a few minutes at 350 degrees)
1/2 c coarsely chopped fresh basil
1/2 lb smoked turkey breast
12 oz pasta (they recommend fettucine), cooked al dente and drained

In large bowl, combine pesto, pistachios, basil, and turkey. Add hot pasta and toss to coat.

Basic Basil Pesto:
1 c pine nuts (or half pine nuts and half pecans or almonds or walnuts)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tb minced garlic
3 c loosely packed, fresh basil leaves
4 oz Asiago cheese, grated
2 oz parmesan cheese, grated
1 c olive oil

In food processor, combine nuts, salt, pepper, garlic, and basil. Pulse until finely chopped. Add cheeses and pulse until smooth. With processor running, add olive oil in a slow steady stream. Process until well-blended. Store in refrigerator up to one week, or freeze up to three months.
This is THE only pesto I'll be making from now on.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Lemon Blueberry Bread

I found this recipe after picking too many blueberries one summer and needing to find a way to get rid of a few. It's from the first cookbook I ever got.

The lemon zest makes it the blueberry bread "with more goodness" as my brother, Thomas, would say.

Lemon Blueberry Bread
The New Basics Cookbook, 1989

½ cup sugar
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 T unsalted butter at room temp
1 t grated lemon zest
½ t ground cinnamon

¾ c sugar
½ c milk
4 T unsalted butter at room temp
1 egg
2 c flour
2 t baking powder
¼ t salt
2 c fresh blueberries
1 T grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 375. Oil a 9x5 inch loaf pan. My bread always got too big for the pan as it baked. I found that it makes two lovely regular sized loaves just fine (see picture) if you divide the batter in half.

Stir the topping ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, stir the sugar, milk, butter, and egg together until smooth.

In another bowl, toss flour with baking powder and salt. Stir this into the wet ingredients, and then fold in the blueberries and lemon zest.

Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle with the topping. Bake until the topping is deep golden and has formed a thick crust, 50 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer bread to a wire rack and continue cooling.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pasta add-ins

We eat a lot of noodles with red sauce at our house (it's the only way I can get my kids to eat zucchini, bell pepper and carrots), so I've had a lot of time to figure out what add-ins we like.

I take 1 jar of spaghetti sauce (I like Ragu Robusto line) and 1 14 ounce can of tomatoes as my base.

Then, I saute in a little olive oil:
1/2 pound chicken sausage (note: Arizonans, I love Sprouts' "Mild Arizona Chicken Sausage")
1/2 pound ground beef
1 bell pepper (yellow is my favorite)
2 stalks celery
handful of baby carrots
1 zucchini, grated (I'm not a fan, but in the sauce, it just melts away)
1 med onion
3-4 garlic cloves, minced

At the end, if I'm feeling really fancy:
1 T fresh oregano
1/4 c of basil

Then, I add, oh, a lot of goat cheese (1-2 ounces) to Nate's and my portions.

Do you have pasta add-ins?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bean Cassoulet with Fennel Spiced Chicken and Roasted Vegetables

Here's a picture for this recipe, but I don't think it makes it look very appetizing. Really, it's quite tasty, and my kids didn't even notice that they were eating vegetables.

Bean Cassoulet with Fennel Spiced Chicken and Roasted Vegetables
Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello,

12 medium Brussels sprouts 2 to 2 1/2 cups
2 medium red onions
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium parsnips
3 medium carrots
3 celery stalks, peeled
Finely ground sea salt
1/4 cup Fennel Spice Rub, recipe follows

1 (4 pound) chicken plus 2 bone-in chicken breasts I've used 1 chicken (w/o the additional chicken breasts), which adds more flavor, but I prefer the convenience of 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts when I'm making it for my family
2 to 3 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 pound pancetta, cut into strips about 1/2-inch thick and 1-inch long, optional
1 pound giant white beans, such as Corona, precooked or canned with liquid I use 2 cans undrained

Trim the Brussel sprouts by removing the tough outer leaves and stems. Halve lengthwise. Cook the Brussel sprouts in a cast iron casserole or oven-proof skillet in boiling salted water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. I use a Dutch oven.

Peel the onion, cut through the stem into 6 equal wedges, and trim any ragged tops. Wipe dry the casserole dish and heat 1/4 cup oil in it. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the onions. While the onions are cooking, halve the parsnips lengthwise, then in bite-size wedges and add to the onions. While the parsnips and onions are cooking, cut the carrots and celery in the same manner as the parsnips and add to the vegetables already cooking in the casserole dish. Continue cooking the vegetables until lightly browned on all sides, 1 to 2 minutes, turning as needed. Add the cooked Brussels sprouts to the dish. Season with salt, to taste. Cook until all the vegetables are well browned, about 10 minutes, turning as needed. Remove the vegetables to a bowl and season with 2 tablespoons of Fennel Spice Rub to coat. Remove the vegetables from the casserole dish and set aside. I deglaze the pan with 1/4 c of cup of chicken broth and poured over vegetables.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the chicken into bone-in serving pieces (2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, and 8 half pieces of breast). Heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil in the casserole dish over high heat. Season the chicken pieces well on both sides with the remaining Fennel Spice Rub. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the chicken pieces skin side down, in batches if necessary. Cook until the chicken is dark brown on all sides, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the dish. Tilt the pan and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat. Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic and pancetta, and cook until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the beans and their liquid into the casserole dish with the pancetta. Bring to a simmer. Add the reserved vegetables and the chicken, skin side up. Roast, uncovered, until the chicken is fully cooked and the surface is nicely browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Let rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before serving warm.

Fennel Spice Rub:

1 cup fennel seeds
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons white peppercorns
3 tablespoons grey salt ummm, I don't know what this is, so I just use kosher salt

Put the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns in a heavy pan over medium heat. Watch carefully, tossing frequently so the seeds toast evenly. When light brown and fragrant, pour the seeds onto a plate to cool. They must be cool before grinding, or they will gum up the blades. Pour the seeds into a blender and add the salt. Blend to a fine powder, shaking the blender occasionally to redistribute the seeds. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar in a cool, dry place, or freeze.
Yield: 1 1/4 cups

I think everyone knows me, but hopefully, that will change as we get more contributors. I love all food. Really, anything--oh, except for parts of animals not commonly consumed in this part of the world--so, no monkey brains for me, thanks...

I love trying new recipes, especially with ingredients I haven't used before. My world was a little rocked when my oldest son was diagnosed with multiple food allergies (dairy, soy, egg, peanut, seafood). I took it pretty hard that I might never be able to enjoy pizza or Chinese food with him. Silly, huh?

So, I'm always on the look out for recipes for him, but I also enjoy trying stuff that won't work for him (I like to load up the freezer with portions of safe meals for him, so I can still make other things). My goal is to post recipes that are Top 8 allergen-free but don't taste like they're hypoallergenic.

I'm excited to have such a great group of cooks on our blog!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

If you like to dip... is a yummy one. We like it with veggies, crackers, chips, and pita bread.

16 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup mild salsa
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (I always add more lime juice)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in a food processor (I just use a good blender). Process until smooth. If desired, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

YUM!! I love it and I hope you will, too!

By way of introduction, and at Emily's suggestion, I'm Anna. Emily and I are friends here in Phoenix. She went to high school with my sister, I went to school with her sisters, and I was thrilled when she moved into the area! I have two daughters ages 4 and 2 1/2. My husband is in law enforcement and has a schedule that is not conducive to traditional meal-times. Four days a week we have "dinner" at lunch time so that we can have "dinner" together before he goes to work. I mention this as part of my disclaimer: my recipes may not fall in the "gourmet" category, most days there just isn't time, but I hope they will be enjoyed!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Christmas Dinner

Christmas Dinner

Roasted Duck with Port Wine Bing Cherry Sauce

2 large ducks
Duck "Stuffing": oranges, celery, carrots and fresh parsley
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 15-ounce cans of pitted Bing cherries
1/3 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup of port wine
Essence of orange rind

I remember when Emily CC made this for gourmet group and I loved it! My attempt is a more simplified version than Emily's stellar performance (for those of you who kept the recipes) and here are my "learning moments". First, roasting the ducks caused several fire alarms. I knew that there would be a lot of fat rendering in the cooking process but OMG and little Theo was "trying" to take a nap during the process…what a nightmare! Learn from me, you will need two shallow cooking pans on the rack below to fully catch all of the fat sprays that result from cooking this meat at such a high temperature. By "stuffing" the ducks with 1/2 an orange, a stalk of celery and a carrot with a small handful of parsley, the duck remained very moist and tender. I let them rest for a good 15 minutes before carving and placing on a serving tray with some fresh parsley as garnish and then I drizzled the cherries and sauce over with a side dish for extra servings (let's just say my "dry" crowd lapped up my yummy wine sauce). I finished it with a few shavings of orange rind with a micro plane…

To accompany this I had a baby spinach salad with pomegranate, pear and goat cheese and I made a yummy creamy balsamic dressing using a raspberry syrup to sweeten it - delish. I also made sweet potatoes but I also sautéed a few apples and blended them with a dab of butter, brown sugar, a dash of cloves and enough apple cider to give it a good consistency. You can see my fruit theme throughout the meal, which I think made it lighter than a typical Christmas meal, which was necessary for the desert: dark chocolate cake with a raspberry-bourbon filling and homemade chocolate frosting (but I will save that for another post).

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Emily's Crock Pot Chili Verde

In a moment of desperation Monday morning, I thought I'd try a little experiment for dinner. Not really gourmet, but who doesn't love an easy recipe?

2-3 lbs pork tenderloin
1 15 oz. can green enchilada sauce (I like the vegetarian ones because the pork kind can have icky meat in them)
1 4 oz can diced green chiles
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 t cumin, or to taste
2 t chili powder, or to taste
salt to taste (sometimes it doesn't need any, though)

Throw all ingredients in slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours. Remove pork tenderloin and shred. Mix back in. I thickened it a bit with a can of refried beans, so the juices didn't run out of our burritos as much (and it lasts longer :) ).

This Chili Verde can be used as filling for a burrito or with Huevos Rancheros. I like it with cheese and sour cream in a burrito.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My favorite appetizers

Bruschetta with Gorgonzola Cheese and Honey
Giada De Laurentiis

36 slices (1/2-inch thick) baguette bread, about 1 loaf
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces Gorgonzola, sliced
3 tablespoons honey

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Arrange the sliced baguette on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil. Bake until the bread is pale golden and crisp, about 10 minutes. I always get my bread too crunchy, so it’s more like a crouton than a toasted appetizer. But, once it’s golden, I feel like it’s too crispy. Any suggestions?

Arrange the cheese on the toasts and bake until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.

Drizzle the toasts with honey. Place on a serving platter and serve immediately.

Cream Cheese grapes
Susan Stewart Rich

3 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 T finely chopped crystallized ginger
15-20 seedless grapes
½ c almonds, toasted and finely chopped

Blend cheese and ginger with an electric mixer. Stir grapes into cheese. Roll grapes in almonds. Place grapes on waxed paper-lined plate and chill until firm.
Since not all of us are/were in the Boston Gourmet Group, I thought I’d include this one from Susan. I make it whenever I want to impress.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

hors d'oeuvres help

Could some of you share some favorite appetizer ideas? I'm tired of mine and I need to host my book club next week.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Basil Chicken Hash

Barefoot Contessa

This recipe takes some time and planning, but everyone in my family loves it (even Asher who hates bell peppers).

2 whole (4 split) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
16 basil leaves
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 red onions, chopped
2 red bell peppers, sliced in 1/2 lengthways, and cut in strips
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Sour cream, Cheddar and sliced lemons, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Loosen the skin from the meat with your fingers, leaving 1 side attached. Place 4 basil leaves under the skin of each chicken breast. Pull the skin over as much of the meat as possible so the chicken won't dry out. With your hands, rub each piece with olive oil and sprinkle very generously with salt and pepper. Bake the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes, until the skin is lightly browned and the chicken is just cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin and bones. Cut the chicken into large dice and set aside. Lower the oven temperature to 200 degrees F.
The last time I made this, I didn’t have skin and bone on chicken breasts, so I baked my boneless, skinless chicken breasts prepared the same way as above but without the basil. Then, I chopped the basil and added it in at the very end. I think it's just as good.

Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 minutes, and drain. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, dice them into 1/4-inch cubes.

Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan, over medium-low heat. Working in batches, add the potatoes in a single layer and fry them for 5 to 7 minutes, until evenly browned and cooked through. Place the cooked potatoes on a baking sheet, and keep them warm in the oven while you fry the next batch.

In a separate saute pan, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until caramelized. Add the red peppers and saute on high heat for 2 minutes, until the edges of the peppers are seared.
I start sautéing the onions while the potatoes cooks, so they’re on the back burner for more like 30 minutes to make the onions really sweet.

Lower the heat, add the garlic, thyme, paprika, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and the tomato paste. Add the chicken cubes to the onion/pepper mixture, and heat through. Add the potatoes, and place on a serving platter. Drizzle some sour cream over the hash, and serve with grated Cheddar and lemon wedges.
I’ve never added the sour cream, cheddar or lemon. I think it’s delicious as is.