Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pizza and Salad

Our favorite pizza carry out is from The Alibi Restaurant in Troy, Mi, which also serves great fish and chips, pasta, an Italian sub which is out of this world, and good antipasto and Greek salads.Last night we wanted pizza and salad but I couldn't justify buying the salad when I had all the makings sitting in the fridge.  The only ingredient missing was the wonderful Greek salad dressing that the Alibi serves with either salad. They won't sell the dressing without a salad purchase, and as much as I've tried, they won't give out the recipe. So I made the antipasto salad by mixing romaine lettuce, ham, salami, shredded mozzarella, red onion, and pepperocini. ( The Alibi adds tomato, but I substituted thinly sliced red onion).  As for the dressing, I had some purchased dressing from Olga's Restaurant.  Papa Vino's Restaurant will sell you their dressing which is quite good, also. And another great option is the Good Seasons Zesty Italian which you shake up yourself....... and the pizza was wonderful!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pork chops....like Embers

Embers Restaurant in both Traverse City and Mt. Pleasant were most famously known for their wonderful salad bar and their famous one pound pork chop.  The chop was marinated over night, baked, sauced and baked again. I made a version of this a few weeks ago, using 4 half pound pork chops and half the amount of marinade and sauce.  I also cut the initial baking time down to an hour, instead of two. Embers is no longer around, but you can still enjoy their signature dish.

Find the original recipe here:


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sweet potato- pecan bread

So Thanksgiving is over....we've eaten our fill of leftovers, made turkey stock, froze turkey drums and cranberry sauce and fried 3 more turkeys to put away for cold days this winter....but I still had leftover sweet potatoes.  I kept thinking about my mom's banana bread recipe and decided to tweak it a bit and make a sweet potato bread.  I have to admit, it turned out rather good.  Jamie, Drew, and Riley stopped by when it had just come out of the oven and really enjoyed it warm with butter.  I had a piece this morning cold and really liked it too.

Cream together:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
Beat in:
2 eggs 
1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potatoes ( even canned ones would work)
3 Tbl. milk

Stir in:
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup chopped pecans (I toasted them in the oven for a few minutes)

Spread mixture into a greased loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour at 350F

Gee...maybe I can learn to bake after all! (Ha Ha)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Spinach salad

During the 70's we lived on Maplegrove Ave. in Royal Oak...I think the block's claim to fame was that there were 80 kids under the age of eighteen.  In any event, all those kids made for great block parties.  Whiffle ball, volleyball, egg tosses, shoe hunts, and great food.  Each family brought their own main and then a side or dessert to pass for the big buffet set up in the middle of the street. This salad came from one of those parties.  I've seen a couple of versions on the Internet.  It's called Korean Spinach Salad....

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup sugar
1 medium to large onion, chopped
1 Tbl. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth

1  9 oz. bag baby spinach
4 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1 small can bean sprouts, rinsed and drained ( fresh work well too)
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
Toss all ingredients together

Pass the dressing separately

Friday, November 26, 2010


I made this chicken and rice soup a while back, but as I was sitting here today, thinking about all the cleanup and organizing of leftovers, I thought why not use some of the turkey meat for this soup with either a chicken or turkey broth made from the turkey carcass? This one has a lemony dill flavor in the Greek style ......

1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, sliced into rounds
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbl. olive oil
8 cups chicken or turkey broth
2 -3 tsp. dried dill weed
2 packed cups chopped chicken or turkey meat, cooked
2 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup chopped parsley
juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot saute the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic in the 2 Tbl. oil until onions soften and garlic smells fragrant. Add the dill, stir, and then add the broth. Simmer for about 10 minutes and then add the chicken or turkey and the cooked rice. Bring back up to a boil and add the parsley and lemon juice.  Salt and pepper to taste. 
NOTE: I add the juice of 1/2 the lemon first, then taste to see if I should add the second half....it's all a matter of your taste.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing you all a happy, safe, and peaceful holiday......and don't forget...

THANK THE COOK!!!     (even if the food is lousy)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Seafood pasta

Whenever Matt's in town we have a seafood pasta dinner night...sometimes seafood lasagna...sometimes creamy with noodles.  Last night it was linguine, shrimp, scallops, clams, and broccoli.  Served with the Chuck Muer House Bread, it was delicious!

1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp( thawed, drained, and patted dry)
1 lb. sea scallops (thawed, if frozen, and patted dry)
2  6.5 oz. cans chopped clams with the juice
1 stick butter
4 to 6 (or more) crushed garlic cloves
1 cup half and half
1 cup clam juice
3 to 4 Tbl. instant flour (Wondra) plus more if needed
1 lb. frozen broccoli florets, thawed
grated parmesan, romano,or asiago cheese for serving(optional)
1 lb. pasta, cooked

In a good size sauce pot, melt butter on low heat, add garlic and heat for about a minute until the garlic becomes fragrant.  Add the clams with their juice and bring to a simmer. At this point add the instant four and stir, creating a roux. Slowly add the half and half and clam juice and bring the mixture up to a boil. (the mixture should be thick). Add the broccoli, shrimp, and scallops and simmer about 5 minutes until the seafood is done. If at this point the mixture seems too watery, sprinkle in a little more of the flour. (The seafood exudes liquid as it cooks)

Serve over cooked pasta and sprinkle with some grated cheese, if desired.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Apples, Oranges, and Cranberries

Time to start cooking and cranberry sauce is a dish you can make up to a week ahead.  This year I added apples to mine...a nice little change.

2 x 12oz. bags fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. orange zest
juice of one orange
1 medium apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 cup water

Wash and sort the berries and add all the ingredients into a sauce pot. Stir thoroughly, bring to a boil, and then simmer for about 10 minutes. Cool, cover and refrigerate until turkey day!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tomatoes, blue cheese, and red onion

Today will be busy.  Our son Matt arrives tomorrow morning from San Francisco, so the corned beef for sandwiches is simmering along with the beef and beef shank for Pam's Slop soup. We have to get the 5 turkeys out to the garage to start thawing...and a lot of shopping must be done for Thursday.  So today I'm offering a little salad we have year round (even when the tomatoes aren't that good). Just slice a couple of tomatoes, top with thinly sliced red onion, crumbled blue cheese, and black olives.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and grind a little black pepper on it all.  A quick and easy side for a busy day.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chicken, Turkey, Veal...Lemony and Garlicky

The first time I had a dish similar to this was at Lelli's Restaurant in Detroit.  I'm not sure, but I think it's called Chicken Lelli and is still on the menu at their Auburn Hills location. I make an easy version by using packaged chicken gravy mix as the sauce base. I've made it with chicken, turkey breast, and veal.  Pictured above is the turkey version.

For the meat:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves or turkey breast slices, pounded to an
    even thickness or veal scallopine slices
1/2 cup flour seasoned with 2 tsp. lemon pepper
1 egg mixed with 2 Tbl water
1 to 1 1/2 cups seasoned Italian bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying

Dredge the meat in the flour, then the egg, and finally in the crumbs. Brown the pieces in a frying pan in the oil.( oil should reach about 3/4 inch)
Place pieces on a baking sheet and bake for 20 -25 minutes at 350F

For the gravy:
2 packages dry chicken gravy mix
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 Tbl butter or margarine
2 cups water
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
juice of 1/2 lemon

Saute the garlic in the butter for about 45 seconds
Add the gravy packets and slowly add the water, whisking as you do
Simmer until thickened, turn off the heat and add the parsley and lemon juice
Serve over the chicken

Note: I usually make the gravy ahead of time, so I don't add the parsley and lemon until I re-heat.  Sometimes making the gravy ahead makes it too thick, so I add more water.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Another burger

Whenever we go to the Big Boy for a burger I almost always order the Swiss Miss
which is simply a burger with tarter sauce, lettuce and melted swiss cheese....but on a rye bun! Try to find a rye bun in the metro Detroit area ...next to impossible !  Anyway, the day that I made the Chuck Muer House Bread in my old, inexpensive food processor...the motor burned out.  So with a gift certificate and my own cash I purchased a decent Cuisinart processor...I love it!  And I found a recipe for rye burger buns. I would direct you to the site but when I tested it the page couldn't be found. Its from the Serious Eats website and called Light Rye Buns. When I do a Google search for "rye burger buns" it pops up first or second.
I made the buns and they were GOOD but chewier than the Big Boy's.

I did make my own tarter sauce.  Here's my recipe:

3/4 cup mayo
2 Tbl re-hydrated dried minced onion
1 tsp dillweed
3 Tbl dill relish
2 tsp chopped capers
1 Tbl caper juice
Stir all together and refrigerate for a while before serving.

Melt a slice of swiss on your cooked burger, place on bun,add as much shredded lettuce and tarter sauce as you want, and enjoy!

Feel free to use a regular bun if you can't find rye buns or don't want to bake your own.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Nana's Beef Soup...or Slop

My friend Pam lived across the street during our high school years and we spent a lot of time at each others houses.  Her mom often made this beefy vegetable soup which they called "Slop"and so whenever I could, I would wrangle an invite (or maybe I invited myself) for a bowl. This was actually Pam's grandmother's recipe. Nana Brewster was one of the sharpest most independent women I had ever known.  When Pam married, Nana sent her the "Slop" recipe, of which a copy of the original is pictured above. Pam also sent me a  translation which I'm posting word for word.  Please contact me under the comments section if you have any questions.  I think the most important part of this recipe is the long cooking of the beef, bones, or short ribs ( or a combination) and is key to the process. So here goes:

1 1/2# stewing beef wash and put in stew pot cover with water, add salt and pepper simmer for 2 hours then add prepared vegetable, 3 carrots sliced, 2 onions, 2 stocks of celery, 2 or 3 potatoes cut into small pieces, 1 pkg. frozen mixed vegetables, 1/2 cup barley, rice or noodles, stirring often so rice don't stick cook until veg and rice or noodles are well done.
You can use short ribs, nice lean ones, as a rule short ribs are fat, but you can find lean ones sometimes, usually 3 in a pkg.
If you use stewing beef it is good to get a soup bone which gives the slop better flavor. Most butchers will give you a soup bone if you ask him for one or maby chg 10 or 20 cents if there is a little bit of meat.
(Pam - thaw the frozen veg and add them after the other veg has cooked for a while.)
                               Love & Good Luck Nana

Pam noted that she paid $3.50 for a soup bone with no meat on it, but the slop had good flavor.  She also told me that the spots on the original are probably.....Slop

NOTE: Pam also said that although it's not listed as an ingredient, Nana Brewster added a can of tomatoes to the soup.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Noodles Romanoff

Here's a real easy side dish to serve with a variety of entrees.  My mom used to buy the boxed variety, but it's been harder to find recently. This one doesn't have as high a salt content and is delicious.

8 oz. wide egg noodles
2 Tbl butter
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the egg noodles according to package directions. Drain and stir in the remaining ingredients.  Garnish with green onions or a little paprika if you like.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Almond boneless chicken

Tom and I really like almond boneless chicken once in a while, but we were finding that carry out versions have just too much breading.  Over the years I've developed a version that we think is quite good. (Now I need to perfect egg rolls!)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves sliced in half lengthwise
Your favorite tempura batter mix (I like the Golden Dipt brand)
vegetable oil for frying

Prepare batter according to package directions. Put enough oil in a frying pan to come up to about 3/4 inch and heat until almost smoking.  Fry the breasts for about 3 minutes on each side.(Tempura batter doesn't get that dark....you just want the batter to be crispy).Place the chicken on a non-stick baking sheet and bake at 400F for 20 - 25 minutes.

For the sauce:
1 Tbl vegetable oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 packages, dry chicken gravy mix (I use whatever is cheapest)
3 cups water
4 Tbl soy sauce
4 oz. pea pods ( or sliced mushrooms or zucchini)
1  2.25 oz package sliced almonds

Saute the garlic in the oil for about 30 seconds, add the gravy mixes and water and whisk until incorporated. Add the soy sauce and bring up to a boil then add the pea pods and almonds and simmer for a few minutes.

For serving:
About 4 cups shredded lettuce
4 servings rice

Shred about 4 cups of lettuce and place about 1/4 of it over hot cooked white rice.  Place 2 pieces of chicken on top and as much of the sauce as you like. I like to garnish with sliced green onions(optional). 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Taking a break

I'm feeling a little lazy today so no new food post.  Instead look at my beautiful 10 year old cyclamen that keeps blooming a few times per year no matter how badly we treat it.

Hey...send me recipes or ideas for recipes that you'd like to see..I'll be glad to make them and post them. Join the Google followers to post comments.

NOTE:  I think I've just updated so that anyone can comment...so try it out!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Stuffed tomato

At the end of the growing season I gather all of the green tomatoes and throw them into a paper grocery bag and put them in the garage. Every week I check them and last week found 2 nice size ripe ones. Now, they're never as tasty as they are in the summer, but cooked they're outstanding. I decided to stuff them as a side to the Brick chicken. The pictured ones are ready for the oven.

2 nice size tomatoes, tops cut off and seeds and core removed
1 x 6 oz. bag of fresh baby spinach
1 Tbl. butter
1 Tbl. olive oil
1 clove crushed garlic 
3 Tbl. seasoned bread crumbs
2 Tbl. cream or 1/2 and 1/2
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled, plus a little more for topping the tomatoes

Melt the butter and oil in a saute  pan and saute the garlic for about a minute. Start adding the spinach a little at at time until it all wilts. Cook for a few minutes on medium heat. Stir in the crumbs, cream and feta.
Divide the mixture into the two tomatoes, top with a little more feta, and bake at 350F for 20 to 30 minutes.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Broccoli potato soup

A couple of years ago, my friend Lynn forwarded a recipe for an easy potato soup made in the crockpot.  I held on to it and decided to try it last week, but with a couple of changes. I added broccoli and grated cheddar and cooked it on high for a little longer than the recipe originally called for.  I must admit, it turned out pretty good!  Here's what I did:

Combine the following in a large crockpot:
1 x 30 oz. bag frozen, shredded hash brown potatoes
3 x 14 oz. cans chicken broth
1 x can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup finely minced onion
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Cook on high for 5 hours
Add a softened 8oz. block of cream cheese in small pieces (I whisked it in to incorporate it into the soup)
After the cream cheese is incorporated add:
4 oz. grated cheddar
1 lb. thawed, frozen broccoli chopped fine
Continue to cook for about one more hour
Garnish with green onions ( or more grated cheddar if desired)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Almost turkey time

Thanksgiving is less then two weeks away, so it's time to get organized and start shopping  for my favorite holiday of the year.  First we have to shop for reasonably priced turkeys.  We deep fry ours - 2 on Thanksgiving day and then 2 or 3 more the day after to freeze. We started frying them quite a few years ago after hearing so much about how good they tasted from my customers at the market.  The first year we fried one and roasted one and the whole family agreed that fried is best. We don't inject ours, but simply rub them with a cajun-creole salt about an hour before frying. To see a good article( and video) on frying turkey go here:


The rest of our meal is pretty traditional: dressing(now I make it up and put it in the crockpot with a browned turkey wing for good flavor), mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, that famous green bean casserole that cousin Anne always brings, fruit salad for the kids, and ham. Some years I make scalloped oysters and a little oyster dressing and I always make,, in honor of my mom, sauerkrautIt was always on the table growing up, and even though not many in the family like it, I make a small casserole mixed with fresh cabbage, onion, paprika, and turkey stock.
We'll have pumpkin pie and other desserts...and I always make enough for everyone to take their fill of leftovers.

Since the price of peanut oil has risen, we've been using a peanut-vegetable oil blend.  We're going to start researching those oil-less electric fryers just to see if it's worth the investment.

Now...I think I'll make a roasted squash pasta with those weird looking ones pictured.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pulled Pork

Pam's daughter, Amanda, moved to a new home last weekend and I think Pam must have been designated to feed the volunteers.  One day she made chicken noodle soup and chili...the next day it was pulled pork using a recipe that she's had for years called "BBQ Beef or Pork". Here's how she made it:

8 lbs. boneless chuck or pork shoulder
Pam covers the meat with water in a crockpot, cooks it on low for six to eight hours, trims the fat, and shreds it.  Set the meat aside, reserving 1 cup of the stock.

Sauce Ingredients:
2 onions, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
4 Tbl. butter
4 Tbl. cider vinegar
4 Tbl. brown sugar
28 oz. ketchup
2 tsp. prepared mustard
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 Tbl. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup stock from the meat

Saute the onion and celery in butter.  Add all other ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes. Combine the meat with the sauce and return to the crockpot.  Set on warm until serving.
Like Pam says, all crockpots are different, so your time may vary. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Brick chicken

We like the taste of grilled chicken, but I always worry about whether or not I've cooked it long enough.  I came up with this idea a few years ago...grill then roast!  Take a 3 to 5 lb. whole chicken, split it, marinate it a few hours, and then get either a gas or charcoal grill up to medium heat.  You'll need either 2 bricks covered in foil or a heavy cast iron pan. With the bricks I also use a flat grill pan with round holes in it.. Lay the chicken skin side down on the grill and top with the grill pan and bricks or the heavy cast iron pan.  Grill until nice and browned ( about 10 to 15 minutes on each side).  Make sure you have heavy duty gloves to remove the bricks.  You can baste it a little with the marinade. After browning, transfer the chicken to a roasting pan and roast in a pre-heated 350F oven for about an hour, basting occasionally with the pan juices. Goes great with the roasted potatoes I posted yesterday.
I use the same marinade for this one that I use for the slow roasted chicken: 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 to 4 Tbl. Cavenders Greek Seasoning, and the juice of one lemon. Marinate a few hours before grilling.

Note:  This great if you like to grill in the winter, because you can do the grilling part early in daylight and then hold to roast later. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Greek roasted potatoes

This is a great potato side that has a hint of lemon.  Don't be alarmed by the baking time. 

4 medium potatoes, cut in thick wedges
1/2 cup water (plus more if needed)
1/4 cup olive oil
4 minced garlic cloves
1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
juice of 1/2 lemon

In a baking dish large enough to keep the potatoes in one layer, combine all the ingredients.Bake at 400F for 30 minutes. Turn potatoes over and bake another 30 minutes, adding another 1/2 cup of water if dish is dry.

We had these with "Brick Chicken" which I'll post tomorrow. This can be doubled or tripled if you have a crowd to feed.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sweet potato and sausage soup

Pam made a new soup last week and thought she'd share it with us. This sounds good and hearty for Fall. This comes from the October 2007 edition of Bon Appetit Magazine.

3 Tbl. extra virgin oil
10 oz.smoked Portugese Linguica sausage or dry chorizo sausage, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 medium onions, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs. sweet potatoes( about 2 large),peeled, quartered, and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 lb. white potato, peeled, halved and cut into 1/4 inch slices
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 x 9 oz. bag of fresh spinach

Heat 2 Tbl. olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium high heat.  Add sausage, cook until brown, about 8 minutes.  Transfer sausage to paper towels to drain.  Add onion and garlic to the pot and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add all of the potatoes and cook until beginning to soften again, stirring often, about 12 minutes. Add the broth; bring to a boil scraping up the brown bits .  Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.  Using a submersible blender, blend until smooth( if you want it chunkier, use a potato masher).
Add the browned sausage to the soup.  Stir in the spinach and simmer until just wilted.  Stir in remaining Tbl. olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

NOTE:  Pam was able to find chorizo, but thinks kielbasa or cajun sausage(like andoulle) would work fine.  She's going to substitute kale for the spinach next time also.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Turkey bolognese

This is a slow cooked thick sauce for pasta using ground turkey instead of the traditional beef and pork. It incorporates wine and milk or cream for depth and richness.  I tend to use ground turkey in place of beef almost all the time.  I think it goes back to feeding  5 of us on a strict budget.  And now I still use it so I don't have to feel guilty when buying more expensive cuts of meat for other meals.

1 medium onion
1 carrot
2 stalks celery
4 garlic cloves
2 Tbl. olive oil
1 lb. ground turkey
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 cup dry white wine
1 x 28 oz. can tomatoes, crushed or diced
1/4 cup of half and half or whole milk
salt and pepper to taste
grated parmesan for garnish

I you have a food processor, process the first four ingredients until very fine.  If not,shred the ingredients on a box grater.  You want this mixture to look almost like slush.
In a 4 to 5 quart pot, brown the ground turkey in the olive oil, breaking the meat up.  Add the processed vegetable mixture and Italian seasoning and continue to saute for about 6 or 7 minutes. Add the wine and tomatoes and simmer for up to an hour, until the sauce becomes very thick. (If you believe it's thickening too fast, add a little water to thin).  After an hour add the milk or half and half, salt and pepper and simmer a few more minutes.Serve over spaghetti garnished with the parmesan. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chicken chow mein casserole

I've been making this casserole since my kids were toddlers.  I think my mom gave me the recipe, but it's been so long that I can't remember. Not a figure friendly recipe, but ohhh so good!

4 - 5 cups diced cooked chicken breast
1 can condensed mushroom soup
1 can condensed chicken and rice soup
1 onion, diced
1 small can evaporated milk
1 small can mushroom pieces (including the liquid)
1 small can sliced water chestnuts(optional)
1 1/2 cups frozen green beans or peas(optional)
1 can chow mein noodles( reserve about a cup for topping)
1 tsp. black pepper
In a large bowl mix all ingredients together, except the reserved chow mein noodles. Pour into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Top with the reserved noodles. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes covered.  Uncover and bake for 20 to 30 minutes more.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


I make this soup often in the cold weather ( and it's another good way to clear the vegetable bin).  This one is almost meatless...by eliminating the ham,using vegetable stock, and increasing the fennel seed to 2 tsp. it can be.  I think fennel seed gives soups and pasta sauces a sausage like flavor, so I've been using it a lot lately.

2 Tbl. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 minced garlic cloves
2 oz. diced cooked ham
1 tsp. fennel seed
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1  14-15 oz. can crushed, diced or stewed tomatoes
2 small zucchini, diced
1 medium potato, diced
1 cup green beans, cut small
2 cups chopped cabbage
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can chick peas, drained
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup dry macaroni (or other small pasta)
s &p to taste
parmesan cheese (optional)

Saute the onion, celery, garlic, carrot, fennel seed, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper in the olive oil over medium heat until the onion softens, about 5 -8 minutes. Add the potato, zucchini, green beans, and canned tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Add the cabbage and broth and bring to a boil again. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the chick peas and kidney beans, bring to a boil again, the add the macaroni and simmer about 10 more minutes until the pasta is cooked.  Season with salt and pepper.
Garnish with grated parmesan cheese, if desired.

This soup is really thick....you may want to thin it out with extra broth when serving leftovers.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Stuffed shells

Here's a great appetizer idea...stuff jumbo pasta shells with your favorite salad!
I boiled the jumbo shells according to the package directions, drained, rinsed and cooled them and then stuffed them with a salad of shredded lettuce, ham, chicken, red onion, mozzarella, olives and a little Italian dressing. Make them up a couple of hours ahead of time, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Think of the possibilities...chicken salad, shrimp salad, taco salad, bean salad..use your imagination!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Little Mexican

Here's one that I adapted from the Food Network  from a show called "Calling All Cooks" a number of years ago. I like Mexican food but Tom isn't crazy about tortillas.  This one uses crescent rolls as a base.

1 to 1 1/4 lbs. ground beef or ground turkey
1 package taco seasoning mix (regular or hot and spicy)
2/3 cup water
2 x 8 oz. packages refrigerated crescent roll tubes
5 to 6 oz. shredded cheddar cheese (colby-jack works well too)

Assortment of toppings: sour cream, green onion, tomato, diced avocado, black olives, shredded lettuce, hot sauce, salsa, jalapeno pepper, etc.

In a saute pan, brown the ground beef or turkey, drain, and add the taco seasoning and water.  Simmer the mixture for about 5 minutes.  Let cool slightly.
Roll the first pack of crescent rolls on to a baking sheet, separating into 4 squares ( not triangles). Place 1/4 of the meat mixture onto each square. Using about 1/2 the cheese , sprinkle on each square.  Take the second tube of crescent rolls, divide into 4 squares and top the first four.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on each wrap.  bake for about 15 minutes at 375F.
Garnish with your favorite toppings.
The original recipe doesn't call for the taco seasoning but we really like it this way.

You can find the original recipe here:


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Updates...and Must haves

These three items are "must haves" in my kitchen.  The instant flour is great for thickening anything without creating lumps. The Cavenders Greek Seasoning is my essential for chicken, pork and lamb.  And the crushed red pepper always adds zing to soups and sauces.  More "must haves" another day...

And now a few updates:

Friend Pam made the Apple Cake recipe and cut the oil to 2/3 cup.  She said it was still very moist.

I turned the Chuck Muer House bread into Cheesy bread by rolling it out on a baking sheet dusted with kosher salt after the first rise, brushing it with the "blessing" and let it rise for about 30 - 40 minutes.  I then baked it for 10 minutes at 450F, lowered the heat to 400F and covered it with about 4 oz. of shredded mozzarella cheese and baked it for 10 -15 minutes more.  It was great!!

I also forgot to mention that the Asian inspired salmon can be turned into Asian inspired chicken by substituting skinless, boneless chicken breasts.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chicken cacciatore

This is an entree that to me is true Italian comfort food. Served over pasta, it's a complete meal( and the leftovers are great!).

4 - 6 pieces of skin on, bone in chicken
3 Tbl. olive oil
flour for dusting the chicken
1 large green pepper chopped in large pieces
1 large onion chopped in large pieces
12 oz. mushrooms sliced
4 - 5 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 cup basil leaves (or one basil cube)
1  14 -16 oz. can diced or stewed tomatoes
1  12 oz. can V-8 juice
salt and pepper
grated parmesan cheese for serving

Dust the chicken pieces in the flour and then brown them in the olive oil until golden on each side. Remove the chicken from the pan and add the green pepper, onion,garlic, mushrooms, red pepper flakes, fennel seed and a little salt and pepper.  Saute this mixture until the onions and green pepper begin to soften.  Add the can of tomatoes and V-8 juice and bring to a boil.  Add the basil and then return the chicken to the pan along with any accumulated juices from the chicken. Bathe the sauce over the chicken, cover and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When done, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over pasta and garnish with as much parmesan as you like.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Slow cooked and spicy

Our daughter, Jamie, made this terrific looking appetizer for a Halloween party this weekend. Cheese, chicken, beans, salsa and a few other ingredients combine in the slow cooker to create a great appetizer for a crowd. Note that the recipe indicates that you can use rotisserie or deli chicken in place of frozen if you like.

You can find this on the Betty Crocker website at :