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Dec 29, 2008

Simply Sensational Truffles

From Kraft Foods

2-1/2 pkg. (20 squares) BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, divided
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
decorations: chopped PLANTERS COCKTAIL Peanuts, multi-colored sprinkles
Make It

MELT 8 chocolate squares in double boiler. Beat cream cheese with mixer until creamy. Blend in melted chocolate. Refrigerate until firm.

SHAPE into 36 balls. Place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet.

MELT remaining chocolate. Use fork to dip truffles; return to baking sheet. Decorate, then refrigerate 1 hour.

My Notes: I made these for the holidays and people raved over them. I had leftover chocolate at the end and dipped pretzels then sprinkled red and green sprinkles over them.

Dec 8, 2008

Guinness and Onion Soup with Irish Cheddar Crouton

From Michael Chiarello


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 8 cups thinly sliced onions
  • Gray salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups dark beer (recommended: Guinness)
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 6 slices country bread cut 1/2-inch thick, toasted
  • 1/2 pound Irish Cheddar, sliced thin


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and cook briefly to release aroma. Add onions, season with salt and cook for about 5 minutes stirring often. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are golden brown.

Add the thyme, vinegar, and beer. Reduce beer by half and add the beef stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 more minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Transfer soup to an ovenproof serving dish or individual ovenproof soup bowls. Top with toasted bread slices and sliced Cheddar. Broil until cheese melts and starts to brown slightly. Serve piping hot.

Shepherds Pie with Scallion-Cheese Crust

From Michael Chiarello


For the filling:


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound minced British lamb
  • 1 pound minced beef
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped very small
  • 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms
  • 1 level tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 level tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh beef stock
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the crust:

  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup scallions, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 cup mature Cheddar, coarsely grated

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or deep saute pan. Brown the lamb and beef. Remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon. Add the onions to the pan and saute until the onions are tinged brown at the edges - about 5 minutes. Add the chopped carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, tomato puree, thyme, parsley and cinnamon. Stir and saute for 2 minutes. Next, stir in the flour, which will soak up the juice, then stir in the wine and the beef stock. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed. Return the meat to the pan and bring to a boil. Cover, turn down the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes until the lamb is fully cooked.

Peel the potatoes, cut them into large even-sized pieces and place into a pot of cold, salted water. Bring the water to a boil and cook potatoes until they are tender, about 10 minutes. (Potatoes are done when a knife can easily go through.)

When the potatoes are done, drain off the water, return them to the saucepan, cover with a clean tea cloth to absorb the steam and leave them for about 5 minutes. Next, add the butter and mash them to a puree. Season with salt and pepper. When the meat is ready, spoon it into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and level it out with the back of the spoon. After that, spread the mashed potato evenly all over. Sprinkle the scallions on top of the potato, scatter the cheese over the scallions and bake the pie until the top is crusty and golden, about 25 minutes.

MY NOTES: This recipe was AMAZING! But it really took me a long time to make. The cinnamon is awesome.

Nov 28, 2008

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Pecan and Marshmallow Streusel

The new Thanksy Tradition!

From Food Network


  • 12 large sweet potatoes
  • 3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup toasted pecan pieces
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Wash the sweet potatoes, scrubbing them well to remove any dirt. With a fork, prick the sweet potatoes in a couple of spots and place them on a sheet pan. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center goes in easily.

In a large bowl, mix the butter, brown sugar, and flour together until it's crumbly-looking. Add the cinnamon, salt, pecans, and marshmallows; fold the streusel topping together to combine.

Slice the sweet potatoes lengthwise down the center and push the ends towards the middle so it opens up. Stuff the sweet potatoes generously with the streusel topping and return to the oven. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and brown.

Nov 8, 2008

Foil-Pack Chicken Fajita Dinner

From Kraft Foods

1-1/2 cups instant white rice, uncooked
1-1/2 cups hot water
1 Tbsp. TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Taco Seasoning Mix
4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1 lb.)
1 each: green and red pepper, cut into strips
1/2 cup TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Thick 'N Chunky Salsa
1/2 cup KRAFT Mexican Style Finely Shredded Taco Cheese

HEAT oven to 400ºF. Fold up all sides of each of four 18x12-inch sheets of heavy-duty foil to form 1-inch rim; spray foil with cooking spray. Combine rice, water and taco seasoning; spoon evenly onto centers of foil. Top evenly with remaining ingredients.

BRING up foil sides. Double fold top and ends to seal each packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside. Place in 15x10x1-inch baking pan.

BAKE 30 to 35 min. or until chicken is cooked through (165ºF). Let stand 5 min. Cut slits in foil to release steam before opening packets.

My NOTES: One of the reasons I love to make casseroles, is that they are so simple and clean up (if there is any) can be done during the bake time. This is equally easy but with the added comfort of a throwback from days gone by. My mom was a gourmet camp chef (according to me) and she would make all manner of foil pack dinners over the grill (or in the fireplace). Anything baked or grilled in foil is #1 with me.

Nov 7, 2008

Addictive Sweet Potato Burritos

from Suite101
  • 3 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups canned kidney beans, drained
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 teaspoons prepared mustard
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional, to taste)
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 cups sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
  • 12 10-inch flour tortillas, warmed
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • sour cream (as garnish)
  • green onions, chopped (as garnish)
  • salsa (as garnish)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sauté onion and garlic in hot oil in a medium skillet until soft. Stir in the beans, then mash them a little. Stir water into the mixture gradually and continue heating until warm. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, mustard, cayenne pepper (if using) and soy sauce after removing from heat.

Spread the bean mixture and the mashed sweet potatoes evenly onto the warm flour tortillas. Add cheese. Form into burritos by folding the tortillas.

Bake for 12 minutes.

Makes 12 burritos.

My Notes: This recipe is AMAZING! I half'd the recipe for B and I but I wish I doubled it and froze some to reheat at my whimsy. Make it. Make lots of it. You will not regret it. The next time I make it, I will take pictures for the blog. I didn't this time because we were so ravenous that I forgot all about taking pictures until I was licking my plate.

UPDATE: I made these again - only this time I substituted curry for the cumin (sometimes it is a good thing to have a pre-dinner adult beverage). It was a mistake but it turned out soooo much better than normal. I highly recommend "messing them up" with curry.

Oct 27, 2008

Grilled Mushroom "Burgers" on Polenta "Buns"

From: Everyday With Rachael Ray

1 large shallot
1/3 cup smoked almonds (a generous handful)
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (a generous handful)
1/3 cup oil-cured sun-dried tomatoes (a generous handful)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus more for brushing
8 small portobello mushroom caps, wiped clean
One 18-ounce tube prepared plain or sun-dried tomato polenta, cut into 16 equal slices
Salt and pepper
8 slices smoked mozzarella or scamorza cheese

4 ribs celery with leafy tops, thinly sliced
2 bunches (about 8 ounces) arugula or spinach, chopped (about 4 cups)

Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high. Using a food processor, puree 1/4 cup water, the shallot, almonds, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and mustard. With the machine on, pour in 1/2 cup EVOO to form a smooth, thick dressing. Pour about two-thirds of the dressing into a large bowl. Add the mushroom caps and turn to coat.

Place the mushrooms on the grill, cover the grill (or cover the grill pan with foil) and cook, turning once, 7 minutes total. Brush the polenta slices with EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Grill until just heated through, about 4 minutes. Place the "burgers" on the polenta rounds, top with a slice of cheese and another polenta round and cook until the cheese melts, 1 minute more.

Toss the celery and arugula with the remaining dressing. Serve 2 "burgers" with the salad alongside.

My Notes: I made these on the grill along with large slices of white onion - yum! Or as Rachael Ray says, "Yumm-o!"

Sep 26, 2008

Rebecca's Favorite Summer Salad

Hearts of romaine, chopped
sliced strawberries
crumbled Gorgonzola
canned mandarin oranges, drained
pecan halves
OSCAR MAYER Deli Fresh Oven Roasted Chicken Breast Cuts

toss together and top with fruity store bought vinaigrette (this is mine) and you have an easy and flavorful summer salad!

Sep 21, 2008


From: my mom

Preheat oven to 400°

Sift together:

2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder < very important

4 Tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon salt


4 Tablespoons cold, diced butter

use a pastry blender or fork to crumb into flour mixture


2 eggs

1/3 cup cream

should look like this....

On a floured board turn dough out and knead about 10 times.

Divide in two and shape each into a circle about 1 inch thick.

Brush cream or milk onto tops of dough and sprinkle generously with sugar.

Cut each circle into quarters and move wedges away from each other to bake.

Bake on parchment paper 15 minutes or until golden. If you've gone to your pantry and discover that alas, you ran out of parchment paper but for some reason, placed the empty box back in the pantry, thus not adding parchment paper to your shopping list - you can substitute by using a 9x13 pyrex dish.

looks like someone you might know made that very same mistake!

If you wish, add 1 cup of cranberries or blueberries after kneading.

Sprinkle them over the dough and gently fold the dough over a few times being careful not to crush the berries. Try freezing the berries for an hour or so to make them more sturdy.

Funny story about scones - the first time I made these I bragged and bragged to my friends about how awesome my mom's scones are and how they were in for the best treat of their lives. The scones came out of the oven looking great, smelling great and initially tasting great. But a bitter after taste loomed. My friends were so kind, we all smeared them with jam and ate them anyway. Later on I called my mom and came to find out I had used baking soda, not baking powder! She made me promise to call of my friends back and explain the confusion.

Which reminds me of a certain oatmeal cookie episode I will tell you about later. If you can't laugh at yourself when you are cooking, you are in for a hard life!

Sep 6, 2008

Kung Fu Cupcakes


Dragon Cupcake
Children will love these magical dragons for their birthday party!

mushu dragon cupcake
You'll Need:
cupcakes, red cupcake liners, red gumdrops (large and small),
yellow fruit-by-the foot or fruit rollups, white chocolate chips,
black decorator frosting, red frosting

Begin with a batch of cupcakes frosted a bright red or green or whatever color your dragons will be. A food color paste produces a more vibrant color tone.

For each cupcake, slice a large and small red gumdrop in half. Press the tip of a white chocolate chip into the cut surface of the large halves, near the center of the bottom edge to make the eyes. Press the "dragon eyes" into the frosting around the center of the cupcake. Then press the small gumdrop halves into the front of the cupcake (nose). Cut thin strips of fruit roll-up and place on the sides of the gum-drop "nose".

Cupcakes displayed using a cupcake stand will make a fabulous
table centerpiece.

Good Fortune Cupcakes - Super Easy!
Frost cupcakes with red or jade green frosting. Top each cupcake with
an unwrapped fortune cookie.

Sep 5, 2008

Kitty Litter Cake

From the internet

1 spice or German chocolate cake mix
1 white cake mix
2 large packages vanilla instant pudding mix, prepared
1 large package vanilla sandwich cookies
green food coloring
12 small Tootsie Roll candies

1 new kitty litter pan
1 new kitty litter pan liner
1 new pooper scooper

Prepare cake mixes and bake according to directions (any size pans).

Prepare pudding mix and chill until ready to assemble.

Crumble white sandwich cookies in small batches in food processor, scraping often. Set aside all but about 1/4 cup. To the 1/4 cup cookie crumbs, add a few drops green food coloring and mix until completely colored.

When cakes are cooled to room temperature, crumble into a large bowl. Toss with half the remaining white cookie crumbs and the chilled pudding. Important: mix in just enough of the pudding to moisten it. You don't want it too soggy. Combine gently.

Line a new, clean kitty litter box. Put the cake/pudding/cookie mixture into the litter box.

Put 3 unwrapped Tootsie rolls in a microwave safe dish and heat until soft and pliable. Shape ends so they are no longer blunt, curving slightly. Repeat with 3 more Tootsie rolls bury them in the mixture. Sprinkle the other half of cookie crumbs over top. Scatter the green cookie crumbs lightly on top of everything -- this is supposed to look like the chlorophyll in kitty litter.

Heat 3 Tootsie Rolls in the microwave until almost melted. Scrape them on top of the cake; sprinkle with cookie crumbs. Spread remaining Tootsie Rolls over the top. For the coup de gras take one Tootsie Roll and heat until pliable, hang it over the side of the kitty litter box, sprinkling it lightly with cookie crumbs. Place the box on a newspaper and sprinkle a few of the cookie crumbs around for a truly disgusting effect!

Last but not least, you can also opt not to crumble the cakes, but rather layer them in the pan with the layers of pudding in between (much like you would layer a trifle into a trifle dish), sprinkle the top layer of pudding with a heavy layer of crumbled cookies. Same effect, different texture entirely to the dessert.

Hawaiian Salad

From Gma Pollard

2 packages sugar free lime jello
1 c boiling water
1.5 c ginger ale
16 oz sour cream
1 large can crushed pineapple with juice
1/2 c chopped nuts
small jar marschino cherries, chopped and drained

Combine jello and boiling water
Add ginger ale, let bubbles settle for a few seconds
Add sour cream - stir well
Add remaining ingredients, stirring thoroughly.
Chill overnight.

2002 Thanksgiving Salad

This recipe is from the first Thanksgiving Brandon and I spent together.

1 shallot, minced
1/3 c sherry wine vinegar
1/2 c canola oil
1/2 c EVOO
salt and pepper to taste
1 c soft goat cheese (crumbled)
3/4 c toasted walnuts
hearts of romaine
1 can sliced beets
1 pear, peeled, cored and sliced

Place shallots and sherry wine vinegar in a small bowl and slowly whisk in oils. Season to taste.

Toss romaine, pear, goat cheese and walnuts with vinaigrette.
Arrange salad on plates.
Top with the beets.

Harvest Creamy Corn "Choup"

From Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 pound small potatoes, cut into small chunks
4 to 5 large ears corn, kernels scraped from the cobs, or one 10-ounce box frozen corn
1 medium or 2 small zucchini, finely chopped
5 to 6 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons flour
One 32-ounce container (4 cups) chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper
Hot pepper sauce
Oyster crackers or popcorn, to pass around the table

1. In a medium soup pot, heat the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp at the edges. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the potatoes, corn, zucchini, thyme, bay leaf and paprika and cook for 4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour into the pot, stir and cook for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the broth and simmer until thickened a bit. Stir in the milk, cream and parsley and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes.

2. Season the corn choup to taste with salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce and serve with crackers or popcorn to float on top.

Potato Casserole

From: I forgot!

16 oz. sour cream
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 c chopped green onions
32 oz. frozen hash browns, thawed
1 c crushed corn flakes
2 T butter, melted

Preheat oven 375

Mix sour cream, cheese, soup, onions
Add potatoes
Spoon into greased 13x9 baking dish
Bake 40 minutes
Toss corn flakes with melted butter
Spread over the top and bake an additional 5-10 minutes

Baked Green Beans

From (i forgot!)

1.5 lb green beans
2 t marjoram
salt and pepper
2 T lemon juice
1 T lemon zest
1/4 c almonds, roasted
2 T almonds, roasted - for garnish

Preheat oven to 450

Spray cooking spray on large rimmed baking sheet

Combine Green beans, onion, marjoram, salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes.

Transfer to a bowl and add remaining ingredients.

Chicken Salad

From Freddie Griffith

1 chicken, cooked (I use a rotisserie) - 2 c chopped
1.5 c cooked rice
1/2 c crushed, drained pineapple
1 T red vinegar
1 c mayo
3/4 t curry
1 t salt
1 c celery (or pear)
1/4 c green pepper
3/4 c chopped pecans

SERVE on top of lettuce or with croissants

Bramstedt Family Favorite Baked Beans

From my mom

1/2 lb bacon (9 slices) cooked, drained, chopped
1 onion, chopped, cooked until tender
3/4 c packed brown sugar
3/4 c ketchup
1/4 c cider vinegar
1 can (20-21 oz) pork and beans - with juice
1 can (15-16 oz) navy beans, drained
1 can (15-16 oz) garbanzo beans, drained
1 can (15-16 oz) black beans, drained

Combine in crock pot
Heat HIGH 3-4 hours

Monster Meatloaf

From my cousin, Pearl (i miss you...)

1 lb ground beef
1 lb pork sausage
1 egg, beaten
3/4 c milk
1 envelope Lipton Beef and Onion soup mix
3/4 c bread crumbs

COMBINE and place in loaf pan

3 T brown sugar
3 T ketchup
1 T mustard

Spread on top of meat mixture
BAKE 350, 1 hour
Let set for 10-15 minutes to allow juices to redistribute

NOTE: I have tried many many many meat loaf recipes and this is bar none the BEST one! Although I tend to double the sauce recipe. Don't forget your mashed potatoes - meatloaf is lonely without mashed potatoes to sit next to on your plate.

Salmon in Lemon Brodetto with Pea Puree

From Giada de Laurentis

Lemon Brodetto:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, diced
2 lemons, juiced
1 lemon, zested
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves

Pea Puree:
2 cups frozen peas, thawed (about 10 ounces)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1/4 cup olive oil
4 (4 to 6-ounce) pieces salmon
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

To make the Lemon Brodetto, warm the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the lemon juice, zest, and broth. Bring to a simmer, and keep warm, covered, over low heat.

To make the Pea Puree, combine the peas, mint, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor and puree. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a steady drizzle. Transfer the pea puree to a small bowl and stir in the Parmesan. Set aside.

To make the Salmon, warm the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Season the salmon pieces with salt and pepper. Sear the salmon until a golden crust forms, about 4 to 5 minutes on the first side. Flip the fish and continue cooking until medium-rare, about 2 minutes more depending on the thickness of the fish.

To assemble the dish, add the tablespoon chopped mint to the Lemon Brodetto and divide between 4 shallow dishes. Place a large spoonful of Pea Puree into the center of each bowl. Place a salmon piece atop each mound of Pea Puree. Serve immediately.

My note: This makes a lot of dirty dishes. Is a great weekend meal - but maybe too high maintenance for weeknight dinner.

Mushroom-Sausage Pockets

From Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3/4 pound hot Italian sausages (about 3), casings removed
1/2 pound white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
Salt and pepper
8 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
6 tablespoons butter, melted

1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 8 minutes; push the onions to the side and add the sausages. Cook, breaking up the meat, until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley, remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the ricotta. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Preheat the oven to 375°. Lay 1 phyllo sheet on a work surface and cover the remaining sheets with a damp kitchen towel. Brush the sheet with butter, then set another sheet on top. With a sharp knife, trim the phyllo to make a square. Brush with butter, place a quarter of the filling in the center and spread into a 4-inch square. Fold the flaps of phyllo over the filling to form a pocket; brush with butter; repeat with the remaining ingredients to make 3 more pockets.

3. Brush a baking sheet with butter and place the pockets on top. Bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes

Easy Chicken-Mushroom Quesadillas

From Ellie Krieger

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
8 ounces white button mushrooms, (about 3 cups)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked chopped skinless, boneless chicken breast (1 breast half)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups baby spinach leaves, sliced into ribbons
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 (10-inch) whole-grain flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese mix or Cheddar
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

Heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms and cook until the mushroom water is evaporated and they begin to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add chicken, cumin, chili powder and oregano and stir until all spices are incorporated. Add spinach, salt and pepper and cook until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.

Lay 1 tortilla on a flat work surface and sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Spoon 1/2 chicken and vegetable mixture on top of cheese, then top with an additional 1/4 cup cheese. Top with another flour tortilla. Heat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray over medium heat. Carefully place 1 quesadilla in pan and cook 3 minutes. Using a large spatula, gently flip quesadilla and cook an additional 3 minutes until lightly browned and cheese is melted. Repeat with second quesadilla. Slice each quesadilla into quarters. Place 2 quarters on a plate with 1 tablespoon sour cream and 2 tablespoons salsa.

Avocado, Artichoke Hearts and Heart of Palm Salad served in Lettuce Wraps

From Ingrid Hoffman

1 (14-ounce) can small artichoke hearts in water, drained

1 (14-ounce) can hearts of palm, cut into medium chunks, drained
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 poblano pepper, seeded, ribbed, and finely chopped
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves coarsely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
2 avocados, cut in large chunks
3 tablespoons white vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 head butter lettuce, leaves whole, rinsed and dried

In a medium bowl, combine the artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, cucumber, onion, poblano, and cilantro. Add the avocado and drizzle with vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Carefully mix, taking care not to break up the avocadoes.

To serve, spoon the salad into the butter lettuce cups.

Cuban Sandwich

From Ingrid Hoffman

1/2 cup raisins
1 cup pitted Spanish green olives, coarsely chopped
1 small shallot, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 Cuban sandwich or hoagie sandwich rolls, halved lengthwise
4 tablespoons mayonnaise, or more to taste
4 tablespoons yellow mustard, or more to taste
8 slices baked ham
8 slices deli roasted pork
8 slices Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Put the raisins, olives, shallot, vinegar, and oil in the bowl of a food processor. Puree until well combined. Transfer the olive mixture to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days before using.

Open the bread like a book and spread each side with the mayonnaise and mustard. Lay 2 slices of ham and 2 slices of roast pork on 1 side of the roll. Top with 2 slices of cheese. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of the olive-raisin relish over the cheese. Bring the tops and bottoms of the sandwich together.

Wrap 4 bricks in aluminum foil and place in a 500 degree F oven for 15 minutes.

Melt the butter in a large skillet or griddle pan over medium heat (if your skillet isn't large enough you may need to cook the sandwiches in 2 batches). Place the sandwiches in the skillet and press down with the hot bricks for 3 to 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and the bread is flat and browned.

Excellent alongside Avocado, Artichoke Hearts and Heart of Palm Salad served in Lettuce Wraps

Creamy Spinach Ravioli

From Kraft Foods

2 pkg. (9 oz. each) refrigerated cheese ravioli
1/2 cup (1/2 of 8-oz. tub) PHILADELPHIA Chive & Onion Cream Cheese Spread
1 cup milk
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
4 cups baby spinach leaves
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
Grated peel from 1 lemon
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered

COOK pasta as directed on package.

MEANWHILE, place cream cheese spread in large skillet. Add milk; cook on medium heat 1 to 2 min. or until cream cheese is melted and mixture is well blended, stirring frequently. Add 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the spinach, dill and lemon peel; mix well.

DRAIN pasta. Add to cream cheese sauce; toss to coat. Serve topped with tomatoes and remaining 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese.

Crab Cakes

From Kraft Foods

12 oz. imitation crab - its pricey, so feel free to mix with tuna
1 pkg. (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken
1 cup KRAFT Shredded Mild Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/3 cup KRAFT Mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. CLAUSSEN Sweet Pickle Relish
3/4 cup water

MIX all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate 10 min.

HEAT large nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium heat. For each tuna cake, shape 1/3 cup lightly packed tuna mixture into patty. Add patties to skillet in batches.

COOK 3 min. on each side or until golden brown on both sides, turning over carefully.

Emeril's Shrimp and Pasta

From Emeril

20 to 25 (1 1/4 pounds) large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound cooked linguini
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped green onion, tops only
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Toss the shrimp in a medium bowl with the Essence.

Place the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large 14-inch skillet over high heat. Add the shrimp to the pan, spreading them evenly in 1 layer. Cook for 2 minutes then turn them to the other side. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 30 seconds. Add the wine, lemon juice, lemon zest and remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter and cook for 1 1/2 minutes. Season the shrimp with the salt and pepper and add the pasta, crushed red pepper flakes and green onions, tossing to coat well. Remove the skillet from the heat, add the parsley, and toss to combine. Serve hot.

NOTES: it is very important to use only two teaspoons of the essence. The first time I made this I used the entire essence concoction and it tasted (and felt) like fire! To recap: the essence recipe (below) makes MORE than you need. It stores well in the cupboard, so don't toss out the leftover essence!

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Yield: 2/3 cup

Portobello Lasagna with Basil Cream

From Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine

5 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups milk, heated
4 cloves garlic—1 smashed, 3 finely chopped
1/2 pound lasagna noodles
2 large onions, chopped
Three 6-ounce packages portobello mushroom slices (or 2 pounds whole, stemmed and sliced)
1 bunch basil, stems discarded
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups grated parmesan cheese

1. In a medium saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter over low heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the hot milk, then the smashed garlic clove and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Bring the garlic sauce to a boil and cook, whisking, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the lasagna noodles for 8 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl of cold water.

3. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°. In a large skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over low heat. Add the onions and chopped garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until softened, about 7 minutes.

4. Using a food processor, puree the basil leaves with the cream. Set aside 1/2 cup basil cream. Stir the remaining basil cream and 1/2 cup parmesan into the mushroom mixture; season with salt and pepper.

5. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and spread 1 cup reserved garlic sauce on the bottom. Drain the lasagna noodles and lay 3 in the baking dish. Top with half of the mushroom mixture, a layer of noodles, then the remaining mushroom mixture and noodles. Combine the remaining garlic sauce and basil cream; spoon on top. Sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup parmesan.

6. Bake until golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Cajun Sirloin Kebabs


1 pound lean top sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons low-sodium Cajun seasoning
1 onion, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 large mushrooms, halved
4 tablespoons low-fat, bottled vinaigrette
12 bamboo (soaked in water) or metal skewers

1. In a small bowl, toss the sirloin with the Cajun seasoning. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the onion, peppers and mushrooms with the vinaigrette. Marinate the vegetables for 20 minutes at room temperature.

3. Preheat the grill to medium-high.

4. Thread the chili-rubbed sirloin cubes onto 4 of the skewers. Thread the vegetables onto the remaining skewers.

5. Grill the skewers on each side until the beef is cooked to the desired doneness, about 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium. The vegetable skewers may take a minute or two longer.

6. Remove the skewers, arrange the sirloin and vegetables on a platter and serve.

Mushroom Salad in Garlic and Parsley Vinaigrette

From Amy Finley

1 pound white button mushrooms, thinly sliced

Garlic and Parsley Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the mushrooms in a medium glass bowl. Add the vinaigrette and toss gently. Allow to sit at least 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are wilted and impregnated with sauce. Check for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (about 1 small)
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons country Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil

Place shallot, garlic, parsley, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in the bottom of a small mixing bowl. Stir to combine, then whisk in olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Alternately, place all ingredients in a clean 8-ounce jar. Cover and shake vigorously.

Endive Gratin with Ham and Gruyere Cheese

From Amy Finley

8 endives, intact but cored
4 tablespoons butter
8 slices low-sodium ham
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
Freshly cracked black pepper, for seasoning
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 to 375 degrees F.

In a large pot fitted with a steaming basket, bring 1-inch of water to a boil. Place the endives in the basket, cover, and let cook until very soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a colander and let drain, pushing down on the endives with a clean kitchen towel until as much of the water as possible has been expelled. Do not mush the endives!

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. When the foam has subsided, add the endives and cook, turning occasionally, until brown and caramelized on all surfaces. Remove from heat and wrap each endive in 1 slice of the ham. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. When the foam has subsided whisk in the flour and cook 1 minute, being careful not to brown the flour. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream. Bring to a boil whisking constantly, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 8 minutes. Season with a generous amount of pepper and the nutmeg.

Spread about 1 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish, then arrange the ham-wrapped endives on top in a single layer. Cover with the remaining sauce and the cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Turn on the broiler, transfer the pan to the top rack, and broil until the cheese has patches of golden goodness - about 2 minutes. Serve hot with generous amounts of sauce and baguette slices.

Great paired with Mushroom Salad in Garlic and Parsley Vinaigrette

Yin-Yang Salmon


1/2 cup hot red pepper sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (2 pound) boneless salmon fillet
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 pinch salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper

Stir together the hot sauce, brown sugar, butter, honey, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously for 3 to 4 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is well blended. Remove from heat, and set aside.

Coat a casserole dish with olive oil. Poke holes in the salmon with a fork, then place into the dish. Pour reserved sauce over the fish, top with green onions, and season with salt and pepper. Marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Bake salmon in preheated oven, uncovered, until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 25 minutes.

Steak Marinade


4 t Montreal steak seasoning
1 T Italian seasoning
1 T Worcestershire
1 t garlic powder
1/4 c EVOO
1/4 c red wine

Combine all ingredients
Add meat
Chill at least 30 minutes

Hidden Mint Cookies

From Paula Deen

18-ounce roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough, sliced 1/4-inch thin
14-ounce package chocolate mint wafers
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans, or enough to cover top of cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Slightly grease a cookie sheet. Place slices of sugar cookies on sheet, about 2 to 3 inches apart. Top each with a chocolate wafer. Cover wafer with another slice of cookie dough. Brush dough with a beaten egg. Press nuts into top of dough. Bake for about 10 minutes.

Caramel Bourbon Sauce

From (I forgot!)

1 c packed dark brown sugar
1/2 c whipping cream
6 T unsalted butter
1/4 c light corn syrup
1/2 t salt
3-4 T bourbon
1.5 c pecans, toasted and cooled

Bring sugar, cream, butter, corn syrup, and salt to boil in deep medium saucepan, whisking until sugar dissolves.

Reduce heat to medium; boil 1 minute without stirring. Remove from heat.

Stir in bourbon, then pecans.

Cool, stirring occasionally.

Pumpkin Cheescake

From a Leeanne at Oak Hills Church

2 packages cream cheese
1/2 c canned pumpkin
1/2 c sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 t cinnamon
clove and nutmeg, pinch to taste
2 eggs

COMBINE everything but the eggs
ADD eggs after everything else was combined
BAKE 350, 40 minutes

Recommend pouring Caramel Bourbon Sauce over this.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

From Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine

1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, 1 stick melted, 1/2 stick softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon plus 2 pinches salt
1 2/3 cups flour
4 ounces cream cheese, chilled
1 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, 1 teaspoon vanilla, the baking powder, the baking soda and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour.

Using an ice cream scoop or tablespoon, drop 12 generous mounds of batter, spaced evenly, onto each baking sheet. Bake until springy to the touch, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, cream the softened butter with the cream cheese. Add the confectioners' sugar and the remaining 2 pinches salt and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; mix on low speed until blended, then beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Spread the flat side of 12 cakes with the cream cheese frosting. Top each with another cake.

Baked Apples

From Rachael Ray

4 McIntosh apples
2/3 c Grape Nuts cereal
½ t ground cinnamon
¼ t ground nutmeg
2 T brown sugar
2 T cold, unsalted butter – cut into tiny pieced
1/3 c chopped walnuts
2 T raisins
Vanilla ice cream for serving

HOLLOW out apples
MIX cereal, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, butter, walnuts, raisins
STUFF the apples with the mixture
BAKE 350, 30-35 min
NOTES: I tried to substitute different types of apples but the McIntosh really baked the best so I recommend sticking with the recipe on that one. I have very fond memories of my mom baking apples for me when I was a kid. This isn't her recipe but I still get the warm fuzzy feeling, and so will you.

PBJ French Toast Sticks

From Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine

Peanut Butter
2 Eggs
2 T milk
Splash of vanilla
Pinch of cinnamon

PREPARE a PBJ as you normally would
CUT sandwich into strips
COMBINE eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon
DREDGE PBJ strips through mixture
FRY in a pan over medium-high heat
NOTES: Does Gabriel love this treat? Yes! But you know what? I think Brandon and I enjoy it even more than he does. Sometimes we make it after the kiddos are sound asleep. I like to add a pinch of nutmeg as well.

Graham Cracker Eclair Cake

From Kraft Foods

15 graham crackers, broken in half (30 squares)
1-1/2 cups milk
1 pkg. (4-serving size) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed
1 cup chocolate ready-to-spread frosting

ARRANGE 10 of the graham squares, overlapping slightly, in bottom of 8-inch square baking pan; set aside.
POUR milk into large bowl.
ADD dry pudding mix.
BEAT with wire whisk 2 min. or until well blended.
Let STAND 5 min. until thickened.
Gently STIR in whipped topping with wire whisk until well blended.
SPREAD half of the pudding mixture over graham squares in pan.
TOP with 10 of the graham squares and remaining pudding mixture.
COVER with remaining 10 graham squares.
REFRIGERATE at least 3 hours.
SPREAD with chocolate frosting just before serving.

NOTES: I use Nutella for the chocolate and it is awesome! This recipe is the closest I’ve ever gotten to making Tira Misu and it is just as fabulous.

Fried Nutella Ravioli

From Giada de Laurentis

16 wonton wrappers
1 egg, beaten to blend
1 cup Nutella (in the peanut butter aisle, if you haven't bought it before)
Vegetable oil, for frying
16 fresh mint leaves
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Granulated sugar, for dredging
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap.

Place 1 wonton wrapper on the work surface.

Brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with egg. Spoon 1 T of Nutella spread into the center of the wrapper.

Fold the wrapper diagonally in half over the filling and press the edges of the wrapper to seal.

Place the ravioli on the prepared baking sheet.

Repeat with the remaining wonton wrappers, egg, and Nutella.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Add enough oil to a heavy large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 inches.

Heat the oil over medium heat to 350 degrees F.

Working in batches, carefully add the ravioli to the hot oil and cook until they are golden brown, about 45 seconds per side.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ravioli to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

Then, transfer the cooked ravioli to another baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven while frying the remaining ravioli.

Spray the top side of the mint leaves very lightly with nonstick spray.

Working with 1 leaf at a time, dredge the coated side of the leaves in sugar to coat lightly.

Arrange 2 fried ravioli on each plate. Dust the ravioli with powdered sugar. Garnish with the sugared mint leaves and serve.

(The fried ravioli can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool them completely, then cover and refrigerate. Before serving, place them on a baking sheet and rewarm in a preheated 375 degrees F oven just until they are heated through, about 7 minutes.)

Cherry Cream Cheese Tarts

From Paula Deen

2 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
12 vanilla wafers
1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling or other pie filling

PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees F.
Place a paper cupcake liner in each cup of muffin pan.
BEAT cream cheese with a handheld electric mixer until fluffy.
ADD sugar and vanilla, beating well.
ADD eggs, 1at a time, beating well after each addition.
Lay a vanilla wafer, flat side down, in each muffin cup.
SPOON cream cheese mixture over wafers.
BAKE for 20 minutes.
Allow tarts to cool completely. Serve with cherry filling on top, or pie filling of your choice.

Blueberry Cheese Rolls

From Kraft Foods

1 pkg. (8 oz.) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls 4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.)
PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese, 1/3 Less Fat than Cream Cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup blueberries, divided

PREHEAT oven to 375ºF.
Unroll dough into four rectangles; firmly press perforations together to seal. COMBINE Neufchatel cheese and sugar; spread onto dough rectangles to within 1/2 inch of edges.
Top evenly with blueberries.
Bring opposite corners of rectangles together; press together to seal. Place on ungreased baking sheet.
BAKE 11 to 13 min. or until golden brown.
NOTES: Try substituting different fruits.

Super Sloppy Joes

From Rachael Ray

1 ¼ lb ground beef
¼ c brown sugar
2 t or 1 T McCormick Montreal Seasoning
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 T red wine vinegar
2 c tomato sauce
2 T tomato paste
4 rolls, split and toasted

HEAT a large skillet over medium-high heat
ADD oil and meat to pan
Spread meat around the pan to break it up
COMBINE brown sugar, steak seasoning
ADD sugar and spice mixture to the skillet and combine
When meat has browned add onion, red peppers to skillet
REDUCE heat to medium and cook onions, peppers, vinegar, Worcestershire with meat 5 minutes
Add tomato sauce and paste, combine
REDUCE heat to simmer and cook 5 min longer
SERVE on rolls.
Recommended side: Deviled Potato Salad

Chicken Satay

From Kraft Foods

¼ c Catalina Dressing
1 T soy sauce
1 lb Chicken boobs, cut into strips
2 T dry roasted peanuts, chopped
¼ c chopped green onions
3 T peanut butter
Peanut Satay sauce (in the asian food aisle)

MIX dressing, peanut butter, soy
COAT chicken, cover and refrigerate at least 10 min
SKEWER chicken
GRILL or BROIL (4”-6” from heat) 4 min each side
GARNISH with peanuts and green onions
SERVE with rice

Wasabi Salmon Sandwiches

From Dave Lieberman

3 T Wasabi paste, or to taste
1/3 c cream cheese, at room temp
1 ripe avocado, sliced
½ lemon
16 oz smoked salmon

MIX the Wasabi and cream cheese in a bowl.
SPREAD the bread slices with a thin, even layer of mixture
SQUEEZE lemon over avocado to keep it from browning
COVER each bread slice with avocado and salmon

Beef Tips

From my mom

½ c flour
1 t salt
¼ t pepper
4 lb beef or sirloin tips
1 c chopped onions
4 cloves, garlic, diced
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 can beef broth
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T tomato paste
½ c dry red wine
3 T flour
Egg noodles

COMBINE ½ c flour with the salt and pepper and TOSS with beef cubes to coat thoroughly
BROWN meat off in a skillet with a little EVOO drizzle
Place in a crock pot with the onions, garlic, mushrooms
COMBINE broth, Worcestershire, tomato paste.
POUR over beef and veggies, stir well
COVER and COOK Low, 8-12 hours or HIGH 4-6 hours
One hour before serving, turn to HIGH
Make a paste of red wine, 3 T flour
STIR into crock pot, mix well
COVER and COOK until thickened
Serve over hot, buttered egg noodles

Salmon with puff pastry

From Giada de Laurentis

4 pieces purchased puff pastry, each cut to be just larger than a piece of salmon
4 pieces of salmon (4 – 6 oz each)
¼ c sliced almonds
¼ c purchased pesto
2 tomatoes, sliced

PREHEAT oven to 400
On a foil lined baking sheet, place the 4 pieces of puff pastry
Also place the four pieces of salmon – but make sure they are not touching
Sprinkle each piece of salmon with
1 T almonds
BAKE 10 minutes
SERVE: place each piece of puff pastry on a plate. Top with 1 T pesto. Top that with 2 slices of tomato, then salmon and serve!

Chicken a la Patti

From my MIL

4 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 t Herbes de Provence
1 T butter
½ lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced
1 c half n half or heavy cream
¾ c white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste

SAUTE chicken in butter and EVOO, remove and set aside
SAUTE mushrooms, onions and garlic
ADD chicken, herbs and wine
Before serving add cream, salt and pepper and cornstarch
Best served alongside rice.
NOTE: Begin with 1 T cornstarch. It is a thickening agent so stir it around for a bit and if you think it should be thicker, add another T.

Poppyseed Chicken

From my MIL

5 chicken breasts, cooked, cubed
16 oz sour cream
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 ½ rolls of Ritz crackers, crushed
1 ½ sticks butter, melted
2 T poppy seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

MIX casserole ingredients and put in a 9x13 pyrex baking dish
COMBINE topping ingredients in a separate bowl and sprinkle on top
BAKE 350, 30 min or until bubbly
Best served alongside rice

NOTES: You can freeze this for later and let thaw in fridge overnight or on counter top for a couple of hours. Also, it is best to boil the chicken. Sounds gross but it stays tender and juicy. Trust me, its best!

Potato Soup

From: a random lady at Oak Hills Church

8 oz cream cheese, softened, diced
8 c potatoes, pared, diced
½ c chopped onion
6 c chicken broth
1 can cream of mushroom soup
½ lb bacon, fried, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste

COMBINE all the ingredients in a crock pot
COOK 7-8 hours on low
NOTE: I like to serve this with hot baguettes to mop up the yummy goodness

Tortilla Soup

From Marie Shipp (aka. GG)

1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
Garlic to taste
1 onion, chopped
1 lg can diced tomatoes
1 can whole corn
1 can hominy (I use white)
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 c water
1 pkg ranch dressing mix
1 pkg taco seasoning mix
Tortilla chips
Grated cheese
Avocado slices

COOK first eleven ingredients on top of stove, low heat, or in crock pot for 3-4 hours. Do not drain the canned ingredients.
SERVE with chips, cheese and avocado

French Onion Soup with Fontina and Thyme

From Giada de Laurentis

2 large Vidalia onions, sliced
½ t salt
½ t freshly ground pepper
1 t fresh thyme
4 c beef broth
4 oz sliced fontina cheese
4 slices ciabatta bread, cubed

HEAT oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat
ADD onions, salt, pepper
COOK, stirring occasionally until onions are tender (about 10 minutes)
ADD the thyme and broth
SIMMER uncovered until the onions are soft (about 15 minutes)
Divide the soup into your oven proof serving ramekins (I use small pyrex bowls)
Divide cubed bread among the dishes
TOP each with slices of fontina cheese
PLACE under broiler until cheese is golden and bubbly (about 4 minutes)
SERVE immediately
NOTE: you may be tempted to substitute the cheese for a cheese that is more accessible. I highly recommend standing in line at the deli for fontina. It is the perfect creamy texture and subtle flavor for this recipe.

Poblano Chicken Chowder

From Paula Deen

1/4 cup olive oil
3 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 large onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice
5 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/8 cup minced garlic
2 to 3 small poblano peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, or more to taste
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules
3 quarts chicken broth
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, minced
3 cups diced (large pieces) grilled chicken
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, or more to taste
1 cup heavy cream

HEAT the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.
ADD carrots, onions, celery, garlic, poblano peppers, salt, white pepper, cumin, and thyme.
SAUTE for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften.
STIR in the chicken bouillon.
ADD the chicken broth and cilantro, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.
STIR in the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until the chowder is thick and the chicken is heated through.
Shortly before the chowder is done, MELT the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
ADD the flour and stir to combine.
COOK, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes to cook the flour. Do not allow the mixture to brown!
LADLE 1 cup of the hot liquid from the stockpot into the skillet, whisking constantly.
When the first cup of liquid is incorporated, add another 2 cups of liquid, 1 at a time.
POUR the mixture in the skillet into the stockpot, whisking to blend.
COOK, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes longer, or until the mixture begins to thicken.
Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the hot sauce, then the cream, and serve.
NOTE: this recipe has a lot of ingredients and takes a lot of effort but it is worth it! Hang in there!

Bob Barker's Summertime Pasta Salad

From Bob Barker (I found it in Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine)

1 lb tricolor fusili noodles
3 bell peppers (yellow, red, green) cut into strips
6 oz or 1 c grape tomatoes, halved
½ c Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
6.5 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained, chopped
1 red onion, sliced
2 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/2 c EVOO

TOSS all of the above ingredients
THEN add the below ingredients

1 c packed fresh basil, chopped
1 t lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Brocoli Romaine Salad

From: my MIL

1 c pecans, coarsely chopped
1 pkg Ramen noodles, uncooked, broken up (do not use packet)
4 T butter
1 bunch broccoli
4 green onions
1 c sweet and sour dressing (see below)
1 bag romaine lettuce

BROWN pecans and noodles with butter
COOL and DRAIN on paper towel
COMBINE cooled noodles and pecans with broccoli, romaine and onion
POUR dressing over salad just before serving and toss

Sweet and Sour Dressing:

1 c vegetable oil
1 c sugar
½ c red wine vinegar
3 T soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

COMBINE all in a tightly sealed jar and shake vigorously - makes enough for two salads

Sweet Potato Casserole

From Aunt Susan

3 large cans sweet potatoes
¼ t salt
¼ c melted butter
2 eggs
1 t cinnamon
3 T sugar

MASH poatoes in a bowl
STIR in salt, butter, eggs, cinnamon, sugar
BAKE 350, 30 min in a 9x13 pan

¼ c packed brown sugar
¾ T flour
¼ c chopped pecans
Mini marshmallows

MIX topping ingredients
SPREAD on top of baked casserole
TOP with marshmallows
BAKE 10 min
NOTE: this serves a lot of people, maybe half this recipe if your crwod isn't crazy about sweet potatoes.

Green Bean Casserole

From French's

1 can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup
3/4 cup of milk
1/8 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
3 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) of cut green beans, drained
1 1/3 cups of French's French Fried Onions, divided

PREHEAT your oven to 350°F.
COMBINE the soup, milk, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.
(For fun, I throw in a couple handfuls of shredded cheddar.)
STIR in the cheese, green beans and 2/3 cup of the onions.
SPRAY a 9x13 dish with cooking spray
POUR the mixture into the dish
BAKE for 30 to 40 minutes until it is hot and bubbling.
Remove from oven and add 2/3 cup of onions.
Return it to the oven for 5 minutes so the onions can begin to brown a little.
SERVE hot or warm.

Deviled Potato Salad

From Rachael Ray

5 all purpose potatoes, diced
Coarse salt
¼ onion, diced
3 T yellow mustard
½ c mayonnaise
1 t sweet paprika
1 t Tabasco
Salt and freshly ground pepper

BOIL potatoes in salted water until soft
SPREAD on cookie sheet to cool quickly (metal conducts heat)
COMBINE the remaining ingredients and the cooled potatoes in a bowl