Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Did you know?

Did you know that if you microwave a lemon or a lime for 10 seconds and then apply pressure with your palm while rolling roll it back and forth on the counter a few times you will get more juice out of it? 

Did you also know that the most intense flavor of citrus comes from the pretty intensely colored skin?  This is called the "zest."  The tool pictured above is called a microplane.  Hold the plane with one hand and the lemon with the other.  Then run the lemon across the plane.  You only want to use the bright part of the skin as the pith, or the more white part of the skin can be bitter.  Give the tool a tap on the cutting board to loosen the flavorful bits from the underside.  You can get a microplane at or most any kitchen store for around $10.  This tool can also be used to finely grate hard cheeses like parmesan or romano.

Try zesting a lemon, then juicing.  Add the juice as part of the cooking liquid for rice and when the rice is done,  add the zest at the very end.  You will have a delicious lemon rice to serve with the Crunchy Baked Cod recipe I posted  a couple of days ago.  You can add this to most any sugar cookie recipe, quick bread, or scone for an intense and delicious citrus flavor.

More to come!

Thank you so much for visiting.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars....aahhhhh....hello!

What's better than the smell of peanut butter whafting through the house?  Having Ryan, my aspiring baker by my side to help!  Truly, kids simply love to help in the kitchen.  It is so good for them and this recipe is a snap!  It goes together in about 10 minutes and baking time is only about 20 minutes.  The beauty of a bar cookie is that there is no chilling of the dough involved...instant gratification, yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about....
You MUST try these, good luck waiting until they've completely cooled!   Enjoy!!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon water
1 egg
1 ¼ cups unbleached flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup semi sweet or milk chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 350’. Coat a 9x13x2 inch pan with cooking spray, set aside.
2) In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt, set aside.
3) In a medium mixing bowl, beat brown and white sugar, peanut butter, butter and vanilla. Beat in water and egg. Add flour mixture all at once and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread evenly into prepared pan.
4) Bake until light brown, 20-23 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.

Did you know?

Did you know that after meat is removed from a marinade, you can use it as a sauce?  All you have to do is bring it to a boil for a minute or two and you're good to go.  This way you can serve a simple steamed brown rice with your meat and drizzle some of the delicious marinade over for extra flavor, yum!

Have a great day!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Dad, My Grandma, and Chickens....

Several years ago I was visiting my Dad for Christmas.  He had a lovely nativity set up with lights and plopped right on top of the manger was a chicken......yes, a chicken.... I found that so funny and still do!

When I asked my step mom why there was a chicken on top of the manger she said that it was in remembrance of his Mom, my beloved Grandma Inez.  Apparently she was very fond of chickens and they had chickens in their yard when my Dad was a kid.  Isn't that cute?

Anyway, I haven't thought of that for many years and then today I realized the "foul" connection between the three of us.   I have a great fondness of roosters and chickens.  I have many in my kitchen. 

I also find it interesting that my Grandma's favorite piece of chicken was the wing.  As a kid, I thought that was wierd.

Guess what my favorite piece of chicken is now?  You've got it, the wing! 

Isn't it cool when you realize where your fondness of something, say roosters and chickens, came from?

Have a wonderful day!


Crunchy Baked Cod with Tarter Sauce.....

Cod is a very mild and flaky fish.  I buy it frozen because it is flash frozen right after it is caught.  It is the best way to buy fish in the midwest.  As always, refrigeration thawing is the best, it will take about 24 hours.  You can also defrost in a bowl in the sink under slowly running water.  It will take about an hour this way.  It doesn't last long frozen, so use it up within a couple of weeks after you buy it.

This is an excellent and easy way to prepare cod.  My boys devour it!  I love the tarter sauce, I cut the mayonnaise with some fat free yogurt, you cannot tell the difference, it's very good!

Crunchy Cod with Tarter Sauce

4 6 oz. pieces of cod
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup saltine crackers, coarsely crushed
Tarter sauce:

¼ cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup plain non fat yogurt
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

1) Line a cookie sheet with Reynold’s non-stick foil. Preheat oven to 400’.
2) Rinse cod and dry with a paper towel. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
3) In a small microwavable bowl, add butter and olive oil. Microwave until butter is melted. Whisk in Dijon mustard and cayenne.
4) In a medium size bowl, add cracker crumbs.
5) Using a pastry brush, generously coat each piece of fish with the butter mixture. Coat fish with the cracker crumbs, pressing crumbs into fish to coat.  Place on prepared cookie sheet.
6) Bake for 15-18 minutes. While fish is baking, mix sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Did you know?

Did you know that if your drop cookies are spreading out too thin when baking, if you refrigerate your dough until completely chilled, they will bake up thicker and more chewy than crunchy and thin?  I use an ice cream scoop to assure evenly baked and proportioned pieces of dough. 

After trying this, if you are not satisfied with your result you then cut back on the mosture in your recipe.   That being the butter.  If your recipe calls for 2 sticks of butter, cut it back by a tablespoon.  I would still recommend chilling your dough.  If it is an abosolute emergency that you have a warm chocolate chip cookie, immediately, if not sooner, portion out your dough into balls on a sheet and refrigerate for 20 minutes.  Record results right on your recipe card.  Before you know it, you will have perfected your own recipe! 

So don't ditch that recipe until you've done some experimenting.  You will be so pleased with yourself when you get it the way you want it!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tell me what you think!

How many of you out there have been trying my recipes?  Are you having good results?  Does anyone have any questions?

I encourage you to let me know what you think!  You can leave comments below my posts or feel free to email me.   Let me know if there is something specifically you'd like to see on my blog.

Also, if you have a fabulous recipe you'd like to share, please contact me at:

I would really love to hear from you.

Thank you!


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding

I like to freeze the ends of wheat bread and when I've accumulated a good amount, I make my own bread crumbs or make something sweet and delicious like this bread pudding.  I love the ends because they add a bit of texture to the dish.  The beauty of this simple dessert is you can make them ahead, all the way up to baking and refrigerate.  Forty minutes before you want to serve dessert, pop them in the oven.  The smell of pumpkin and cinnamon fill the air.  Serve warm with fresh whipped cream or a small scoop of vanilla icecream.  YUM!

The ramekins at the top make for the prettiest presentation.  They also make for very easy serving.  I like to serve with a fresh ripe strawberry or raspberries on the side.  Beautiful and delicious! 

Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding
6 cups stale bread ends, whole wheat is best (about 10 pieces)
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup whole milk or half and half
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 15 oz. can plain pumpkin
4 whole large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of salt

1) Preheat oven to 350’ and butter a large casserole dish (2 ½ quart) and set aside. Or, you can use 6 oz. ramekins, butter 8 and set aside.
2) Tear bread into small pieces and place in a small bowl, set aside.
3) In a large mixing bowl, add brown sugar through salt, whisk until well blended.
4) Add bread to liquid mixture and stir gently to coat well.
5) Pour into casserole dish or divide evenly among ramekins. They can be filled to 1/4” from the top.
6) Bake casserole for 35 minutes. For ramekins, bake for 25 minutes. Serve warm with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Add a tiny pinch of nutmeg over the top.

Let me know what you think, comments are always very welcome!


Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring Fever!!

We've been spending tons of time at the park across the street and not developing recipes in the kitchen.....
....and watching the mini daffodils (narcissus)  popping out of the ground..........

And yet, I have a taste for something sweet!
No worries......I'm going to make something delicious to post tomorrow......

Typical March/early spring weather, it's supposed to snow tomorrow.  Oh well!
Have a great weekend!


Monday, March 15, 2010

The Mini Cuisinart Food Processor Winner!!!

Congratulations to Cathriona!  She is the winner of the Mini Cuisinart Food Processor!  Thank you to all who signed up for my newsletter.  Unfortunately, I am having technical difficulties sending you all messages via my blog.  I will post my newsletters on my blog, simply "click" and view.

Stay tuned for more contests, I just love them.  Be thinking of a funny food story to share, details soon to come.

Have a wonderful day!


Friday, March 12, 2010

Best Boiled Eggs..... Light and Creamy Egg Salad.....

It seems so simple, but do you have a fool proof way to boil eggs?  My mother-in-law Patricia, shared how she makes hard boiled eggs.  I do this every time and they are always perfect.  Thank you Patricia!!

Eggs are the best, purest protein.  This egg salad is very good because it isn't loaded with mayonnaise.  You do not miss the extra mayo and the yogurt gives it a slight "tang."   Serve open faced on a slice of toasted whole grain bread over a bed of spinach.  Delish!!

6 large eggs
½ cup plain non fat yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 large stalks minced celery stalks
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon celery seeds

1) To boil eggs, fill pan that has a lid with cold water, add eggs. Place over high heat, bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and cover with lid. Let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Drain hot water and fill pan with cold water to cool. Once cool, peel.
2) In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, mayonnaise, and mustard.  Add onion through celery seeds, mix well.  Taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary.   (This is the best time to taste and adjust seasoning due to the delicate nature of the eggs.)  Chop eggs and add to bowl, stir gently until just blended.  Refrigerate immediately in an air tight container.  Salad will keep nicely refrigerated for 3-4 days.  Gently stir before serving.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring time...A New Beginning....Grilling and Easy Entertaining.....

Purple Passion Flower
I have had this potted flower for years. I bring it in for the winter and when our weather has leveled out a bit, I put it outside, where it goes absolutely crazy!  The plant fills with very large buds.  Once the bud blooms, the flower lasts for only one day.  They are such a treat and truly spectacular!

I love spring.  I love watching trees slowly budding and perennial flowers push through the bit of snow that's left.  I love the longer days and the promise of warm weather to come.  I love that soon, I will be sitting on the deck, sipping a mai thai, Killians red, or a delicious margarita with fresh lime.  I love doing so with good friends.  I love flip flops.  I love bare feet in lush grass.  I love the sprinkler in the back yard and little ones running through it.  I love watching all the birds gather around for a nice drink or to pluck a worm out of the wet soil.  I love our deck filled with potted plants and gorgeous flowers.  I love to watch the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds enjoying the beautiful flowers. 

Want to know what I love best about spring and summer?  I love cooking and eating outside.  I love to entertain while the grill is smoking.  This can be very easy.   I do so many simple and delicious foods on the grill.  From appetizers to dessert, look forward to many ideas, tips, and recipes to come.

Spring.   A new beginning.  You are going to do so many new things in your kitchen and on your grill.  I can't wait!!

Have a great day!


Monday, March 8, 2010

Gyros, my version.....

Don't you love gyros?   This is my low fat version.   Sometimes lamb has a strong "game" taste, so I use a blend of lean ground beef, lamb, and turkey.  You can actually process your own lamb if you wish.  Simply buy some lean boneless leg meat, cut into 1" chunks and process until it is evenly ground up.  Serve with couscous and a delicious Greek salad and you've got a quick and healthy dinner your family and friends will love!

1 lb. lean ground lamb
½ lb. lean ground beef
½ lb. lean ground turkey
6 large garlic cloves, crushed
3 tablespoons dried oregano
½ cup fresh lemon juice, or bottled
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Whole wheat flat bread
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
Tzaziki, recipe below

1) Preheat oven to 375’. Foil line a cookie sheet with sides.
2) Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Using meticulously clean hands or gloves, mix meat mixture with your hands thoroughly. Shape into two tubular shaped logs on a cookie sheet.
3) Bake for 40 minutes. Internal temperature should read 165’.
4) Remove from oven and tent with foil, let stand for 15 minutes before slicing. While meat is resting, heat a skillet over medium heat and warm flat breads, keep warm in a clean kitchen towel until you’re ready to serve.
5) When ready to serve, using a meat carving knife or a serrated knife, slice into ¼” slices. Serve with cool cucumber tzaiki, warm flat bread, and red onion.


1 cup non fat yogurt
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh or bottled
1 clove crushed garlic
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Mix ingredients well in a small mixing bowl. Refrigerate immediately after using in an air tight container.

Lemon Whole Wheat Couscous, Greek Salad.....

This simple side pairs well with fish or chicken.  It is versitile and extremely quick.

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup water
Lemon juice and zest from one lemon
1 cup whole wheat couscous
Zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1) Using a micro-plane, zest entire lemon, removing all bright yellow rind. Set aside. Juice the lemon and add to 2 cup liquid measure. Add water to measure 1 ¼ cup. Set aside.
2) In medium sized sauce pan over medium heat, add olive oil and onion, cook about 5 minutes. Add water and juice mixture. Bring to a boil. Add couscous, remove from heat, and cover. Let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Add parsley. Serve.

Greek Salad

Red onion
Kalamata olives, pitted
Feta cheese, crumbled


1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Put all dressing ingredients together in an air tight plastic container and shake well.  Pour sparingly over salad to lightly coat.  Taste.  You may have to season with additional salt and pepper.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Panko and Fresh Herb Encrusted Tilapia

This is a family favorite.  If you haven't used panko bread crumbs before, you're in for a treat!  They make anything you bread light and crunchy.  Have your dipping station set up and ready to go.  If you care for a little tarter sauce, simply mix together 1/3 cup plain non fat yogurt, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, and 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish.  Whisk until well blended.  Round out your meal with brown rice pilaf and a green vegetable.  This will soon be a favorite of your family too!  Enjoy.
5-6 tilapia fillets
Salt and pepper
1 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2  cups panko crumbs, you can find in the Asian isle of the grocery store
2 tablespoons flat parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped
Vegetable oil for pan browning

1) Reynolds non stick foil line a cookie sheet and preheat oven to 400’.
2) Rinse and drain fish fillets. Season with salt and pepper
3) You will need three containers to bread the fish. Into the first, the flour. Into the second, the beaten eggs and water. Into the third, the panko crumbs, parsley, and chives, mix well to distribute herbs.
4) Heat a non stick skillet over medium high heat and add enough oil to cover the pan. Working one at a time and in this order, dip each fillet into the flour, then egg mixture, then into the panko. Press crumbs into fish. Carefully place breaded fish into the hot and oiled pan. Cook 2-3 minutes and turn, cook another 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and place on prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.

*note* if you’re making this for a dinner party, prepare the fish all the way to browning. Place in a container and use wax paper between layers and refrigerate immediately.   Simply bake for 20 minutes before you’re ready to serve.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lets talk about Fish.....

Many people avoid preparing fish in the home.  It is actually one of the easiest and quickest proteins to prepare.  I love salmon, tilapia, cod, white fish, halibut, and shrimp to name a few.  The best way to purchase fish in the mid west is frozen.  Fish is caught, cleaned, and flash frozen.  When you thaw it out and use it the same day, technically you have very fresh fish.   Most places that sell fish receive it frozen and thaw it in their display cases.  You have no way of knowing how long it has been thawing in the case.  I like to purchase individually packaged frozen fish.   It is very simple to defrost, simply put into a large bowl and allow cold tap water to run into and over the bowl down the drain.  (water does not need to be running very fast) Very cold tap water should run continuously for the safest defrosting.  This is to keep the water fresh and the temperature below 40'.   If fish is not individually packaged, it can be defrosted in a waterproof plastic bag.   Depending on how much you are defrosting, it should only take an hour or so.  Refrigerate immediately after thawing if you aren't cooking right away.  The best way to defrost, as always, is in the refrigerator.  This might take a couple of days.

Many varieties of fish are available throughout the year.  There are so many ways to prepare it.   I am more a fan of "flaky" fish varieties I previously mentioned.  They have a more mild flavor and my entire family enjoys them very much. I will be sharing many fish recipes.  I enjoy many cooking methods; grilling, baking, poaching, breaded,  baked, steamed,  and pan sauteed,  just to name a few.

The first I'll be sharing is a tilapia recipe that my kids absolutely love.  It is so simple to prepare and takes only 15 minutes in the oven.  It is elegant enough to serve for a dinner party.  Great with rice pilaf and a salad or green vegetable side. 

Let us continue to try new things.  You can do it!

Thanks so much for reading.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Magnificent Mini Meat Loaves....

I especially like these mini meat loaves because of the time savings during baking.  When you bake a large meat loaf in a bread pan or free form on a cookie sheet, cooking time tends to be an hour plus.  Plus, these are perfectly portioned servings.  I love the energy and time savings.  In any case, mini anything tends to be extremely appealing to kids.  The added fiber is a plus as well.    Don't worry that the horseradish will be too hot, it is very mild with the other ingredients. 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 cup quick oats
1 cup leftover brown or white rice
2 large eggs
1 cup water
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup horseradish, homemade or prepared (recipe below)
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

¾ cup ketchup
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons horseradish

1)  Line a cookie sheet (with sides) with Reynolds non stick foil. Set aside. Preheat oven to 375’.
2)  Add olive oil to a medium size sauté pan and heat over medium high heat. Add celery, carrot, and onion. Cook 5-7 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic, cook one minute. Remove from pan and add to a small bowl to cool. If you have vegetable “fobes” in your house, process the vegetables in a food processor to eliminate “chunks.”
3)  In a large mixing bowl, add ground beef through black pepper and cooled vegetable mixture. With impeccably clean hands, mix well. Shape into 6, 8 oz mini loaves and place on prepared cookie sheet. Place in preheated oven and set your timer for 30 minutes.
4)  While meat loaves are baking, make sauce. Mix ingredients well in a small mixing bowl.
5)  After 30 minutes of baking, top with sauce. (You will have extra to serve with dinner.) Bake another 10 minutes.

*food sanitation tip* disposable gloves area available at any pharmacy. I use them when mixing meat loaf, no messy hands and no bare hand contact with raw meat.

UFO....Unidentified Food Object.....

Have you ever seen this root vegetable?  Any idea what it is?  Hint:  it becomes a very "heated" accompaniment to corned beef on St. Patricks Day.....This very harmless looking root vegetable is horseradish.  If you think you've had hot horseradish from a jar, try this!  It will rise through your sinuses in a matter of seconds!  It will lose its intensity over time in the refrigerator, however, use with caution when you first make it.  Why not make some for the upcoming St. Patrick's Day holiday?  It's fantastic with corned beef. 

Blow Your Head Off Horseradish!

1 large horseradish root, peeled, cut into ½” pieces (about 2 cups)
1 cup white vinegar
¼ cup sugar

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend on high until all chunks are well blended.
Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.