Saturday, January 30, 2010

Vanilla Yogurt Whole Grain Pancakes

Don't you just LOVE breakfast?   This is very, very simple and has a wholesome ingredient list.  You could mix all dry ingredients the night before and simply add the wet in the morning if that's easier for you.  For leftover batter, refrigerate and use within a few days, or,  make the rest of the pancakes and freeze for another morning.  I would freeze them in single serving portions for easy microwave heating, defrost for 3 minutes then on high for a minute or two.  The yogurt in this recipe gives it a very light & fluffy texture.  I use a cast iron griddle but you could use any non stick pan, just be sure it's heated and oiled before you start.  Enjoy with fresh berries or bananas and real maple syrup.....need I say more?

2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:

3 cups milk
1 6 oz. container Dannon all natural vanilla yogurt
¼ cup canola oil
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

1) In large mixing bowl, blend all dry ingredients.
2) In medium mixing bowl, whisk all wet ingredients together.
3) Make a well in dry ingredients and add all wet ingredients at once. Mix just until dry ingredients are incorporated. Over mixing will give you a tough result.
4) Pour about 1/3 cup batter onto hot, lightly oiled griddle. Carefully flip when you start to see bubbles. You can check to see if pancake has browned with a spatula before flipping.

Makes about 15 six inch pancakes

Friday, January 29, 2010

Live TV.....

Oh my gosh!  That was so fun!  I thoroughly enjoyed being a guest on Chicago Tonight.  Phil Ponce is absolutely charming and really put us at ease.   Thank you so very much, Phil.

I truly enjoyed being on the show with Natalie of Bake and Destroy and Dana Joy of Real Food Rehab.  You must check out their sites.  Natalie has many cupcake recipes on her site, many of which are vegan.  She is a mom of a four year old, so we had plenty to talk about!  Dana Joy is incredibly interesting, she has vast knowledge of Chicago's specialty and artisan food offerings.  She is a delight and I'm so happy to have met her.

If you didn't get a chance to catch the show, go to  They have a link to the Local Food Blogger Segment.  I will try to get ahold of the link to post on my blog as well.

Thank you for your support and for sharing the evening with me!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Simplest Tomato Garlic Spaghetti

This is a wonderful side dish to serve with parmesan encrusted chicken, oven fried chicken, or oven roasted whole chicken.  This versitle pasta dish can be served on its own, as a meatless entree.  Serve with a delicious salad and you're set.   You can also add just about any other ingredients you like, spincah, arugula, shredded roasted chicken, the possiblites are endless!   It is super simple,  as easy as any processed pasta or rice dish.  This recipe goes together in 10-15 minutes.   If you use the Barilla whole grain spaghetti you get 6 ounces of fiber per serving, it's a very easy way to sneak fiber into the pickiest eater's diet!

1 pound whole wheat spaghetti (I like barilla whole grain)
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ cup tomato paste
2 cups pasta water
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
1) Undercook pasta by 2 minutes according to package instructions. (if cook time is 6 minutes cook for 4) Reserve 2 cups of cooking liquid before draining.
2) While pasta is in colander draining, put pasta pot back on the stove over medium heat and add olive oil, garlic, and oregano. Cook 1 minute and add tomato paste, stir well to incorporate paste into oil and garlic mixture. Add water and salt, simmer for 3 minutes.
3) Add undercooked pasta to tomato/garlic mixture over medium heat, cook for about 2 minutes. Add parmesan cheese. Serve with additional cheese if desired. Makes about 8 one cup servings.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chicago Tonight.....

I am pleased to announce that I will be appearing on Chicago Tonight tomorrow evening alongside Dana Joy of Real Food Rehab and Natalie of Bake and Destroy.   January 28th, at 7:00 p.m., WTTW channel 11.  I'm so looking forward to a lively discussion with these creative ladies!  Hope you can tune in!

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

This is a house favorite.  It's very simple to put together, and the ingredients are very basic.  This recipe is one of the first cookies I mastered as a 12 year old.   I believe the recipe is out of one of my Grandma's cookbooks, which did not have a cover it was so worn.  There is nothing like the smell of peanut butter cookies in the oven, enjoy!

1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup melted butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
2 eggs
2 ½ cups all purpose flour

1) Preheat oven to 375’. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2) In medium mixing bowl, combine flour, salt & soda. In a large mixing bowl combine melted butter, peanut butter, sugars and eggs, mix well.

3) Add flour mixture to peanut butter mixture, mix well. Roll into 1” (or larger) balls and press with fork to make cross hatch marks in cookies.

4) Bake 10-12 minutes. Allow to set for 5 minutes before removing from parchment paper.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Unbelievable Oven Fried Chicken.....

This chicken is excellent.  I love it because it has amazing flavor and isn't deep fried.  Marinating in the buttermilk gives the chicken great flavor and very moist chicken.  You can also use chicken pieces with skin and bone, just increase the baking time to one hour.    You will have enough of the spice mixture to make the chicken 3 more times, very convenient. 

Spice mixture:

2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sweet basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon cayenne

Mix all ingredients together and store in an air tight plastic container. Yields ½ cup.

For the chicken:

2-3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons spice mixture
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1) Place chicken breasts in a large zip bag, add buttermilk & marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

2) Preheat oven to 375’. Line a cookie sheet with Reynolds non stick foil and coat foil with about 2 tablespoons canola oil.

3) In a medium size bowl, mix all dry ingredients together and blend well. One piece at a time, allow buttermilk to drain off chicken and dredge in spice/flour mixture making sure to coat well. Place on prepared cookie sheet.

4) Drizzle about one tablespoon canola oil over chicken pieces. Bake for 30 minutes, with a pastry brush blot chicken pieces with drippings from the bottom of the pan. Bake another 10 minutes.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Happy Birthday to Jen!

Jen's husband, Steve, decided he wanted to give her a very special birthday gift....a girl's night out, at home. How fabulous is that?!  I had the privilege of planning the menu, preparing and serving her special guests on her special night.

Here is what my son Christopher and I served:

Oven roasted asparagus wrapped with prosciutto
Baba ghanoush with warm flatbread

Arugula & red leaf lettuce with warm breaded goat cheese rounds
and reduced pear necatar and walnut oil dressing

Gaucho steak with 4 herb chimichurri (Guy Fieri's recipe)
Parsley pesto pasta

Warm bananas foster bread pudding with vanilla icecream and homemade caramel sauce

I would highly recommend the steak recipe.  The steak is marinated in tequila, lime, cilantro and garlic.  The chimichurri sauce is very flavorful and simple to make, you just put it all in the blender and give it a whirl.  Delicious!

More party pictures.....

What fun!  I must tell you that my son Christopher, was absolutely fantastic.  He helped with much of the prep work, the serving, cleared the dishes and helped with all of the clean up.   I don't want to do another event without him.  On the way to the party he'd expressed to me that he may want to become a chef.....can you imagine the feeling in my heart?  Whatever he chooses as a profession, he will be wonderful!

Thank you Steve and Jen, we had a wonderful night.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Hungarian Goulash

I acquired this recipe from my neighbor Mary, who acquired the recipe from her sister Kate.  Thanks for sharing!  This is soooooo delicious and incredibly simple to put together.  I suggest you double or triple the recipe and put into the freezer for later use.  The meat is incredibly tender and if you have "onion-phobes" in your family, not to worry, they disintegrate into the delicious sauce.  You could also serve this over spaghetti squash as well for an alternative.   In addition, you have the beautiful smells wafting through your's the ultimate comfort food, enjoy!

¼ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ lbs. onions, coarsely chopped
1 ½ lbs. stew meat
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
3 6 oz. cans of water
1 12-16 oz. package large noodles

1)  Preheat oven to 325’.

2)  Heat 2-3 quart dutch oven over medium heat add oil and onions, cook for about 5 minutes.  Add stew meat and cook over medium heat until meat is no longer pink.

3)  Add salt, paprika, and tomato paste, mix until well blended.   Add water and mix well.

4)  Cover pot and allow to cook in low oven for 2 ½ - 3 hours.  Stir once between, add additional water if necessary.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

5)  Prepare noodles according to package directions.  Serve goulash over hot noodles.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

“UFOs”…..unidentified “food” objects….

There are two categories of squash, summer and winter.  Summer squashes are available year round and the outer skins are edible.  Winter squashes have the name because of late summer and early fall harvesting.  They will last for most of the winter and their tough skins are not edible.

The pictured “UFO” is spaghetti squash.  It is shaped like a small oblong watermelon and the average weight is between 2 and 5 lbs.  You will want to pick the most yellow you can find, it will be the most ripe and ready to eat.

I love using this unusual vegetable.  It is a nice alternative to wheat pastas.   It has a very mild taste so I like to use lots of onions and garlic for flavor.  I love the addition of sun dried tomatoes, they add a nice layer of flavor and color as well.   Serve this recipe as a delicious side to most any roasted meat or enjoy for lunch the next day.

Spaghetti Squash with Sun Dried Tomatoes & Garlic

1 medium size spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
¼ cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
½ teaspoon salt

1)  Preheat oven to 350’.
2)  Carefully cut squash in half lengthwise.  Using a large spoon, scoop out seeds & discard.  Place halved squash cut side down on a foil lined cookie sheet with sides.  Place in oven and pour water into pan.
3)  Bake for 45 minutes, the squash should be soft to the touch.  Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.  Carefully flip squash over and allow to cool enough to handle.  Using a fork, remove spaghetti like flesh from outer shell and place into a medium size bowl, set aside.
4) Heat a medium size non stick pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil to pan, add onions; cook until translucent. Add garlic and sun dried tomatoes; sauté one minute. Add cooked squash; heat through. Add parsley and mix well. Season with salt & pepper. Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Family togetherness.....

Have you ever really thought about the significace of food in your life?   How incredibly important it is for your family to sit down together and share in a daily meal to bond, share events of the day, and simply have conversation with one another?  How the meal is the center of almost any celebration?  When someone is suffering or sick, the thing we most want to do is bring them some comforting food to nourish and keep them?  I believe cooking is an extention of our soul and the truest expression of love.

Last evening was one of the first in a week that we were able to all sit down together for dinner.  You see, Jack and Chris suffered the loss of their Mom who struggled for many years with an alcohol affliction.    This disease is so hard to understand and especially so for children.  

During this past week of mourning, I have felt somewhat absent from my life.  As you all know, when something like this happens, that's just the way it is.  When the services were over, I very much felt like we needed to sit down together, I did not realize how very much I missed doing this with my family and I wanted to reconnect.  Our dinner was very quiet, but I know that this is the beginning of healing.  Love and time heals all wounds, and I believe sharing meals together do too.  Please take the time to sit together, time is precious.

Have a blessed day.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Being in touch with nature.....

Growing up, my Mom was always very in tune with nature.  She had the most incredible garden, with plantings specifically to attract humming birds, butterflies, bees (strategically planted at the end of our property) & birds.  She had numerous bird houses and feeders.  She even made her own suet, which I'm going to do in the next week or so.  I will share with you how to make it very soon.  It is basically melted (or rendered)  beef fat mixed with seeds & nuts.  Birds benefit greatly from this high energy snack.

I have a little piece of nature heaven in my back yard.  I have three bird feeders and a bird bath with a heating coil, to keep the water from freezing.  Birds have a hard time getting enough to drink in sub zero temperatures and it requires a lot of energy to eat snow for hydration.  I also put my Christmas tree back there so that the birds have shelter from predators and cold.  Presently we do not have any evergreen type plantings.....will have to talk to Mom about what to plant there.  I call this "Google Judy."  If she does not readily have an answer to one of my gardening questions, she has a book at hand for quick reference, she is truly amazing.

I  have the perfect view from my kitchen window into this little nature haven.  I can't describe how it makes me feel to see the various beautiful birds that come to "Angie's Buffet."  They seem so incredibly happy and they sing and sing.  Regular visitors include Cardinal pairs, Blue Jays, Junkos, House Finches, Purple Finches, Morning Doves, Sparrows, Red Headed Wood Peckers, Hairy Wood Peckers, Chickadees, and I've even had a Hawk.....well, you know what he was doing there!  Geeze!  Anyway, vittles offered to my feathered friends include:  thistle seeds, sunflower seeds, corn, peanuts (blue jays love them!) and commercial suet.  I mustn't forget the squirrels, I've had 14 at one time!  As you may have guessed, their really "chubby."  All are welcome here.

Thank you Mom, for this wonderful gift of appreciation and respect of nature.  It is so good for my soul.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Parsley Pesto with Whole Wheat Pasta

This is a very pretty and delicious side dish.  You can serve it warm or at room temperature.  I love to serve this with the parmesan encrusted chicken.

1 large bunch fresh parsley, rinsed and drained
2 cloves fresh garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup toasted walnuts
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 ½ cups frozen petite peas, thawed
1 lb. cooked whole wheat pasta, reserve 1 cup pasta water

Place parsley through pepper into a food processor and pulse until all ingredients are combined.

Cook pasta aldente`.  Drain & put back into pot.  Add pesto, pasta water, & peas; stir until pasta is thoroughly coated.  Add additional cheese to taste.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

To toast walnuts:  Preheat oven to 275’, spread walnuts over cookie sheet & toast for 15 minutes.

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken

Make this for dinner and it will be in the regular meal rotation in your house.  Oven baked and crispy like fried chicken or chicken strips, your family will absolutely flip!  Make with chicken tenders or cut the chicken breasts into strips.

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken

1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed (you can also use chicken tenders, or boneless thighs)
1 cup plain dried bread crumbs
¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoons water
Salt & pepper

1) Preheat oven to 400’. Line a cookie sheet with Reynolds non stick foil.
2) You will need three containers for coating the chicken. Into the first, mix the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese, set aside.
3) Second, beat the eggs and water, set aside.
4) Third, the flour.
5) Trim your chicken of any excess fat. Season generously with salt & pepper.
6) In this order, coat the chicken: First in flour, then the egg mixture, and finally the bread crumbs. Be sure you have evenly coated each piece.
7) Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the foil lined sheet & place breaded chicken on sheet. Lastly drizzle a bit more oil over chicken. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

Serve with a Simple Garlic and Cheese Pasta and a simple salad. YUM!

Note: If the chicken breasts are very large, you can slice horizontally, carefully holding the top of the breast with your hand and slicing through the center. You must use a very sharp knife, and be careful. You now have “cutlets,” they will take less time to bake.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Green Bean Incident.....

Anyone else happy to have kids go back to school?  Geeze!   My house is a mess.  I'm wondering why the dishes can make it to the kitchen sink but not the dishwasher......and why when I ask certain housemates of mine  (teenagers) to put things away, they simply circulate from the table, to the desk, to the hutch and back to the table....and why does the soap dispenser in the bathroom remain empty until I fill it when the refill bottle is right below the sink?  My biggest and most important question:  Why do we close the back door in mild weather and we continue to walk outside, leaving it open in 7 degree weather?

If nothing else, I get to vent into cyberspace, maybe the universe will hear me.

I must tell you about my Mom and "the green bean incident."  At the time, it was not funny.  After the "incident," she went to my Grandma's house.  Being kids, we were worried she might not want to come back, given our behavior that day.    It's funny how so many of my memories surround this vegetable.

My Mom was a machine, she cooked, cleaned, canned, gardened, and contended with 5 of us "hunyocks" all day, everyday.    My Dad, who is a very gentle soul,  would arrive home from work at about 5:00 p.m. and liked so sit down for dinner by 5:30 p.m. 

It was a hot summer day, and Mom was rushing to finish up cooking dinner and proceeded to serve the green beans aldente; my Dad liked his green beans "cooked."    We sat down to dinner and my Dad, completely unaware of her chaotic day, made a comment about the green beans...."they're not done."  Well, this tiny comment ignited a fury I'd never seen in my Mother.  She calmly said, "they're not done....the green beans aren't done......really."  She calmly stood up, picked up the pot of green beans, walked to the back door and with the force of what seemed to be a rocket launcher, propelled every last green bean across the back yard.  Can you imagine how great that felt?  All that pent up aggravation with all of us, the humidity, and the last straw, a complaint....what a release!  We could write a book, forget about yoga, deep breathing, or even meditation. We could call it "The Green Bean Release,"  or  "Green Beans for the Soul."   Just fling the green beans.  Yes, that's good.

I must say, we don't ever truly understand our parents until we've lived a little.  I sooooo get it now!

Have a wonderful evening.  School tomorrow.  Sweet dreams!


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Stretching food budget dollars.....Recipes.....

Hello everyone.  Happy New Year!

I don't know about you, but after all that holiday spending  my wallet could use a break!  The best way to save money on your food budget is to plan ahead.  Here are some ideas for saving some green:

1)  Plan your menu for the week around the sale paper.  Most stores have their ads on line.  Actually write down your menu on the left of your notebook, and write your shopping list down the right side.  Be sure to check your pantry for items you already have.   If you are making something that can be frozen, make enough for two meals to enjoy at another hectic time.  I will be sharing a favorite breaded chicken recipe in the next couple of days, great to freeze! 

2)  Do you ever get over zealous when buying vegetables and when you finally get to them they're a science project in your vegetable crisper?  Include frozen vegetables in your menu, they are readily available when you are.  They are very nutritous as they are frozen at the peek of freshness, a very good alternative to fresh, especially in the winter.  You can usually buy a 1 lb. bag for around $1.29, it's a great value.    The best vegetables to have on hand are:   mixed vegetables, petite peas, white corn, green beans, & lima beans (if you like them, I love them!) loose leaf spinach.

3)  Waste nothing.  I freeze left over rice & noodles, they're great in soups.  Bread crust ends, rolls, hamburger buns, any type of leftover bread makes for fantastic home made bread crumbs.  You can process them in your food processor to go right into meatballs or meat loaf.  When using fresh bread crumbs you double the amount your recipe calls for.  For breading, you want to dry them; spread them out over a cookie sheet & bake at 250' for 15-20 minutes.  You'll want to give them a stir a couple of times while baking for even toasting.  Cool completely and store in an air tight container or zip lock bag.  Remember to date them, they will stay good for at least 3 months.

4)  It's also a good time & money saving idea to "over cook" for a meal and use what's left for another meal.   We are all busy and don't have the time to cook big & time consuming meals every night of the week.     Here is an example:

Meal #1

Oven roasted whole chicken or chicken pieces (make extra!)  (recipe on blog under December post:  One of my favorite comfort foods)
Brown rice- double or triple recipe, 1 part rice to 2 parts water- takes about 40-45 minutes to cook
Petite frozen peas-in saute pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and add 1/2 small diced onion, cook until translucent.  Add peas and saute until they're hot, about 5 minutes.  Salt & pepper to taste.

Remove chicken from bone and shred into bite size pieces-date & refrigerate or freeze.
Don't forget to save the carcass, date & freeze as well.
Brown rice-same as above.

Meal #2

Chicken & Vegetable Fried Rice

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken
3-4 cups cooked leftover cold brown rice (you can thaw it in microwave if you need to, just until it comes apart into individual grains, it can be very cold)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 lb. frozen mixed vegetables, thaw in microwave
1 cup fresh bean sprouts, rinsed & drained
1 thumb size piece of fresh ginger (you can break off any size you need at the store) Peeled & minced
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled & minced
2 tablespoons canola oil
2-4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 bunch fresh green onions, sliced thinly

1)  Over high heat, place a large non stick skillet or cast iron skillet.
2)  Allow the pan to get very hot and add canola oil.  Add the chicken, garlic & ginger; heat through stirring often, move to the side of the pan and add beaten eggs and cook until done. 
3)  Add frozen vegetables, bean sprouts, & rice, stirring often. 
4)  Drizzle soy sauce and sesame oil over cooking rice.  Cook until rice is piping hot, add green onions. 
5)  Taste.  Do then what your taste buds tell you.  You may need more soy sauce or sesame oil.   

Chicken Vegetable Rice Soup

1 chicken carcass
1 large carrot, rinsed and cut into thirds
1 large celery stalk, rinsed and cut into thirds
1/2 small onion, peeled
3-4 springs fresh parsley or 2 teaspoons dried

1)  Place all ingredients into soup pot, add enough water to cover carcass.  Simmer over low heat for a couple of hours, if water evaporates, add more water to the pot. (bonus, your house will smell wonderful!)
2)  Remove solid pieces with a slotted spoon and discard.  If you want a more clear stock, strain through a fine, large sieve into a large bowl.  If you pan has a bit of residue, clean and rinse before adding stock back to pot.
3)  Add stock back to pot.  Now you have a beautiful base for soup.  Add chicken, rice, frozen mixed vegetables, frozen spinach, any bits of frozen leftovers in your freezer would be great!
4)  Taste. Taste.  Taste.  You will now add salt & pepper, tasting after each addition until you get it just right.  Remember that there is alot of soup in that pot, you may need to add a bit of salt.  For added flavor, top each serving with a little parmesan cheese.

Pretty easy, right?  There is plenty more where that came from.  Take special care.