Minestrone Soup

I made a huge batch of Minestrone Soup (modified from this link ) yesterday, man it is sooo good! I think this beats Leona's, which is one of my favorites! I learned that...
This soup has a beautifully rich broth, not too tomatoey, tons of veggies. Reading the ingredients, I didn't think there would be enough. I was SO wrong.
I don't think I have truly appreciated the texture of soaked dry beans vs. the canned variety until now. Don't take the shortcut, it was so worth the wait!
I did use salt pork in the beans, which I have never cooked with before. I didn't cut it up as suggested because it seemed completely flavorless. Next time I would leave this out because the veggie beef stock adds enough flavor, plus then I can share with my veggie friends :-)
I used Better than Bouillon vegetarian beef stock and a total of 2 tsp salt. 
I love my emulsion blender. I think its the most amazing tool in my kitchen! 
I also made1 lb of ditalini pasta separately to go into the soup. In the future, I think I could leave out or 1/2 the potato. I like just a little pasta added to each bowl of soup right before serving. This way the soup doesn't lose all its yum yum broth sucked up by the noodles or get too starchy.

So here is the modified recipe...
Vegetarian Minestrone Soup
2 C Dry Great Northern Beans
8 C cold water (for soaking)
12 cups hot water (to be mixed with beef broth concentrate)
4 T (Vegetarian Better Than Boullion) beef broth concentrate
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 med onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, diced
3 carrots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 sm head savoy cabbage, cut in 1” cubes
1 sm potato, diced
3 sm zucchini, diced
1 C loosely packed parsley, chopped
2-15 oz cans diced tomato, not drained
2 teaspoons Salt 
fresh ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese, grated for garnish

1.    Soak beans overnight in cold water. Drain beans, rinse, and place them in a large saucepan or stockpot. Add 6 cups of broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook gently for about 1 hour.
2.    In a separate large stockpot, heat oil. Add chopped vegetables (onion, celery, carrot, garlic) and sauté gently 5 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Add remaining vegetables and tomatoes, salt and pepper. Add 6 cups broth. Simmer for 40 to 50 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

3.    When the beans are done, blend half the beans to a paste using an emulsion blender or food processor. Add all the beans and bean broth into the stockpot. Taste soup and add additional salt and pepper, if needed. Simmer 10 minutes longer.

4.    Rinse & clean the bean pot. Bring salted water to boil. Cook the ditalini pasta al dente or to taste. Drain pasta and set aside.

5.    Serve soup with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese and ¼ C of ditalini pasta per bowl.

Makes at least 24 C of soup.


Turkey Day 2010

These are the recipes that I made to bring to grandma's tonight... eat up! Yum!

Crunchy Sweet Potato Casserole
5 med sweet potatoes (peeled and diced)
1 C butter
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C dk brown sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 C milk
2 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg

Topping: 2 C crushed cornflakes, 1 C chopped walnuts, 1/2 C dk brown sugar, 1/2 C butter, diced

Boil diced sweet potatoes in salted water until tender. Let cool. Smash / process until smooth.
Combine with remaining ingredients. Spread in a greased 9x13 baking dish.
Bake uncovered at 375 for 20 min.

Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over potatoes. Bake 10 min. until topping is lightly browned.

From Taste of Home Thanksgiving 2008

And even though I have already posted these...I made a double batch of  Kick Ass Green Bean Casserole, which seems a little too muchroomy, but we will see! 

The Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna used up the remaining butternut squash from my mom's garden. I used a large container of ricotta cheese,  2 packages of casserole ready (no-boil) lasagna noodles in a 11x14 pan. And I had about 2 C leftover squash cheese mixture and 2 leftover noodles to spare! 
I love the holidays and my family!


Ricotta Cheese Gnocchi with Vodka Cream Sauce

Gnocchi has to be one of my favorite Italian foods. There is just nothing quite like it. Its the best part of pasta and dumplings and deliciousness. I had no idea that it was also super easy to make.  The garlic flavor was intense but perfect. I served this with vodka cream sauce, which again, couldn’t believe how delicious or easy it was to make! FYI - Katie says that potato gnocchi dough is much more difficult to handle.

Ricotta Cheese Gnocchi
1 (8 ounce) container ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1-3 cups all-purpose flour

1.                   Stir together the cheeses, eggs, and spices in a large bowl until evenly combined. Mix in 1 cup of flour.  Continue to add additional flour to form a soft dough.
2.                   Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3.                   Bring a pot of salted water to a rapid boil and prepare your sauce.
4.                   Roll a section of dough into a 1/2-inch-thick rope on a floured surface. Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces. (The gnocchi almost double in size during the boiling time, so take that into account when cutting your pieces.)
5.                   After you have approx 15-25 pieces, add them to the boiling water one piece at a time to prevent sticking.
6.                   Boil gnocchi for approximately 5 minutes after they float to the surface.
7.                   Using a slotted spoon, transfer the finished gnocchi directly to the sauce.
8.                   Repeat steps 4-7 until all dough has been processed.
Adapted from All Recipes

Vodka Cream Sauce Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis's Everyday Italian
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
1 C of your best vodka
½ C whipping cream, room temperature
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt

Simmer the marinara and vodka together at medium-low heat for 20 min, stirring occasionally. Warm whipping cream, if needed (Don’t add cold, it will curdle, yuck!). Slowly add to the sauce. Let cook a few minutes until the sauce is heated through. Add cheese and salt, to taste.

Pumpkin Pasties & Butterbeer

Katie & I decided to make Pumpkin Pasties and Butterbeer in honor of Halloween & James & Lilly Potters' death date (Katie reminded me). The neighbors agreed that the Pumpkin Pasties were great! Its the perfect ratio of crust to filling that I love especially with pumpkin. I'll be making these again.
I have enough filling to make another batch, I just need to make an additional 2-layer pie crust.
We had some issues with our pastry dough cracking after stuffing and folding over. I think that's pie dough is just something I just don't have enough experience to get the right "feel" yet. I think the pre-made dough might be worth the convenience.

Also, I did use fresh pumpkin because of availability ( a 15oz can was $3.39 at the co-op, but a 5 lb fresh pumpkin was $2.99) but don't feel it is worth the added work. On a good note, now I've got a few spare cups of leftover pumpkin that I need to find an awesome recipe right away! :-)

The butterbeer is waayy too *SWEET!* to my liking to be able to drink in mass quantity, maybe because I'm a muggle :-) We mixed vanilla cream soda with butterscotch schnapps and even experimented by adding a little condensed milk. I liked it with the milk, but felt like it should be warm and more bubbly, which I don't think is a feasible combination. More taste testing is required!


ENTBN 2010

I tried a few new recipes at this year's camping event. Here are the ones that turned out well! 

Giant Cinnamon-Pecan Ring
2 1lb loaves frozen bread dough
1/2 c butter, melted
1/2 c sugar                    
1/2 c packed brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon                 
1/2 c chopped pecans
1-1/4 c sifted powdered sugar  
1/2 tsp vanilla
milk (about 4 tsp)
Cinnamon sticks (optional)      
Pecan Halves (Optional)

Lightly grease inside of dutch oven.  On a lightly floured surface, flatten thawed dough slightly.  Cut each loaf into 4 pieces (total of 8). Form each piece into a rope about 18" long.  Brush each rope on all sides with melted butter.  Stir together sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Place mixture on sheet of foil.  Roll rope in sugar mixture to coat evenly. Shape rope into a coil in the center of the dutch oven.  Roll another rope in sugar.  Attach securely to end of first rope and continue coil.  Continue coating ropes and attaching to form a 10-11" circle.  Sprinkle any remaining sugar over coil.  Sprinkle with chopped pecans.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 30-40 min.  Bake at 350 for 30 to 3 min or till done.  Cover with foil last 15 minutes to prevent over browning if necessary.  Cool about 15 min.  Stir together powdered sugar, vanilla, and enough milk to make a thick glaze.  Spoon the glaze over top of cake.  Decorate with cinnamon sticks and pecan halves.  Serves 16. By Ann Audleman, Ft Walton Beach, Fl  From: http://usscouts.org/cooking/cook_05.asp

yellow cake mix; reserve 1 cup of mix
1 egg; beaten
½ C butter; melted

30 oz. canned pumpkin
3 eggs; beaten
3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 C milk
3/4 C dark brown sugar

1 C cake mix                        
1/4 C sugar                           
1 tsp. cinnamon                                 
3 Tbs. cold butter                              

Prepare Crust: Mix together cake mix, egg, and melted butter. Press into bottom and 1 1/2" up sides of a well greased 12" Dutch oven.

Prepare Filling: In a bowl combine all filling ingredients and mix well. Pour filling into Dutch oven to fill crust.

Prepare Topping: In a small bowl combine cake mix, sugar, and cinnamon. Stir to mix. Cut in butter until coarse crumbs are formed. Sprinkle over top of pumpkin filling.

Bake: Cover Dutch oven and bake using 10-12 briquettes bottom and 14-16 briquettes top for 1 hour.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream as topping.

Serves: 8-10

Hearty Chili

2 lbs ground beef ( I used 93% lean)
2 med onions, diced
1 med green bell pepper, diced
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
30 oz kidney beans, well rinsed and drained
30 oz pinto beans, well rinsed and drained
3 t cumin powder
3 T chili powder
1 t black pepper
1 t white pepper
2 t salt
30 oz diced tomatoes
30 oz pureed tomatoes
30 oz crushed tomatoes
2 C water, if needed

Brown ground beef.
Add onions, pepper, and celery. Cook until softened.
Add beans, stir to combine. 
Add spices, saute for a few minutes.
Add all tomatoes, stir to combine.
Cook stirring every 15 minutes for 2 to 3 hours.
If it is too thick, add additional water.

Adapted from this recipe.

And Liz's favorite...Becky's Israeli Couscous Salad from Trader Joe's


Lucky Dinner Guests!

I made this Lowfat Apple Tart for our dinner guests last Thursday and it was a hit! I followed the recipe exactly because I'm still not that confident of a baker. I thought the filling was great but the crust was too dry. Guy disagreed and thought it was perfect to go with coffee/tea. Try it for yourself! The website errors out and you can't save/comment on/view the recipe if you are logged in to eatbetteramerica.com.

Mushroom Potato Stroganoff from The Cheese Factory Restaurant Cookbook

¾ C whole milk
1 bay leaf
¼ C dried shitake mushrooms, stems removed
1 large potato, peeled and diced into ¼ in cubes
1 lb white button mushrooms
4 T butter
1 ½ C diced onion
1 T fresh garlic, minced
1/3 C flour
2 t salt
1 t ground white pepper
1/3 C red wine
1 C water
1 T vegetarian beef flavored powder OR soy sauce
1/3 C tomato juice
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 C sour cream
½ t ground nutmeg
1 t paprika

Heat milk, bay leaf in small pan. Add shitakes. Cover and sit for 20 min. Drain. Reserve milk. Mince mushrooms.
Cook potatoes in salted water until just fork tender. Drain and set aside.
Slice ¼ of the Mushrooms, quarter ¼ of the mushrooms, and break apart remaining mushrooms to give better texture in the sauce.
Melt butter in the pan. Saute onion & garlic until light brown. Add flour, salt, and pepper, stirring for ½ min.
Add wine, water, beef flavor/soy, tomato juice, reserved milk to pot. Stir until well incorporated.
Bring to a boil. Add all of the mushrooms, including the shitakis and the potatoes.
Simmer 10 minutes until mushrooms are tender.
Remove from heat. Add sourcream, nutmeg and paprika. Add additional salt, if needed.
Serve over egg noodles. Keeps well for about a week.

Friday night dinner guests enjoyed Yankee Pot Roast  which is just perfectly savory and spicy!
Too bad all the leftovers are gone!

No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

Katie & I made No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake this Sunday that turned out wonderfully! We actually used the pre-mixed cheesecake filling, but still followed the linked basic recipe. After making it we realized that our cousin makes something really similar for Thanksgiving every year! We froze the pie for about an hour, then transferred to the refrigerator until it was served. So good & so easy!


Tofu with Orange and Pineapple

1 pkg firm tofu
2 in piece of ginger, grated
2 t grated orange rind
3 T Oil
2 large onions, cut into thin wedges
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 t brown sugar
2 t white or cider vinegar
8 oz frozen pineapple, defrosted
1 T orange juice
Cooked Brown rice or Quinoa

Cut the tofu block into 6 slices & place side by side between paper towels on a cooling rack w/ a
cutting board on top, and a large weight on the cutting board. Let the tofu press & drain for at
least 10 minutes. The longer it is pressed, the better the texture of the tofu will be after frying.

Combine tofu, ginger, and orange rind in a bowl. Mix well, cover & refrigerate.

Heat wok, add 1 ½ T of oil & coat pan. Stir-fry onion, garlic, and brown sugar until onion is soft
and golden. Stir in vinegar. Cook 2 minutes. Add pineapple and orange juice. Let pineapple
cook until slightly golden. Remove mixture from wok. Cover.

Heat wok, add 1 ½ T of oil & coat pan. Stir-fry tofu in 2 batches, until well browned on all sides.
Drain on paper towels.

Return the tofu & pineapple/onion mix to the pan. Heat through. Serve over brown rice.

Forgotten Chicken Stew

 There is an ongoing debate in my family whether or not my mother ever actually made this recipe. I remember it, and Denise will back me up, but mom, Katie, and Kristin firmly believe mom never made this...

2 lb chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices (2 cups)
2 medium stalks celery, sliced (1 cup)
2 medium onions, sliced
1 ¾ C chicken broth
1 ½ t salt
1 t dried rubbed sage
1 t dried thyme
¼ t ground pepper
¼ C water
3 T white flour

1 ½ C Bisquick mix
½ t dried thyme
¼ t dried rubbed sage
½ C milk

In a crockpot, mix all stew ingredients except water and flour. Cover.
Cook on Low heat setting 8 to 10 hours (or High heat setting 4 to 5 hours).

½ an hour before serving:
In small bowl, mix water and flour; gradually stir into stew. (This will help thicken the stew.)
In small bowl, mix Bisquick mix, thyme and sage. Stir in milk until Bisquick mix is
moistened. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto hot stew.
Increase heat setting to High. Cover.
Cook 25 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of dumplings comes out clean.
Serve immediately.

Apple Cider

2 C Water
½ C Brown Sugar
2 T Cinnamon
1 T Mace
½ T Nutmeg

Microwave 15 minutes in a 4 C Pyrex Measuring Cup, or glass bowl.
Mixture will be thick, bubbling, and very hot. Add to 1 gallon of cider. Keep
warm in a crockpot or on the stove.

~ Mom's Recipe

Red Lentil Soup

2 C Dried Red Lentils, rinsed
7 C Water
1 large onion, chopped
1T Flour
¼ C Olive Oil
½ t ground cumin
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt & pepper

Brown onion in 2 T of oil. Add lentils and water. Simmer 1 hour.
Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl, minus the lemon. Stir well, add to soup. Bring to a simmer.
Add lemon juice 5 minutes before serving.

7 Layer Salad

1 head of lettuce, chopped
1 green pepper, diced
½ onion, diced
10 oz frozen peas, defrosted
2 lb bacon, cooked crispy
2 C mayo
2 T sugar
9 hard boiled eggs, diced
3 C shredded cheddar cheese

1 Mix mayo & sugar. Set aside.
2 Vary layers of the following until gone: lettuce, pepper, onion, peas, eggs.
3 Spread mayo mixture as next layer.
4 Spread all of the cheese.
5 Top with all of the bacon.
6 Refrigerate until served.

Note: Stir only part of the salad, because it gets juicy & lettuce gets mushy quickly after it has been stirred up.

~ Mom Babs Recipe

Ramen Asian Chicken Salad

This dish seems to show up at every family picnic and baby shower.

2 pkg Ramen Noodles (not cooked)
3 Chicken Breasts, boiled, diced
1 head Green Cabbage, shredded
10-12 Green Onions, chopped
½ C Slivered Almonds

3 T Sesame Oil
2 T Canola Oil
6 T Rice Vinegar
2 T Sugar
1 t Salt

Toss salad ingredients together in a bowl. Mix dressing ingredients together.
Pour over salad just before serving.

~ Mom's Recipe

Microwave Carmel Corn

Adapted from my mom’s microwave recipe book back when a microwave wasn’t in everyone’s home!

Make 2 Batches of Popcorn on the stove
(You can use microwave, but the popcorn doesn’t hold up as well)
Pour into clean brown paper bag

Microwave the following for 2 ½ minutes:
1 C Brown sugar
1 stick Butter, not margarine
½ t salt
¼ C light corn syrup
Wisk in ½ t baking soda

Pour mixture over popcorn in paper bag. Shake.
Roll up bag. Microwave 1 ½ minutes. Shake.
Microwave ½ minutes. Shake.
Microwave ½ minutes. Shake.
Break up large chunks. Let it cool.

Its best to make this on a snowy day and let it cool outside. Enjoy!

Lemon Snap Cookies

I got this recipe from my foods class in high school my senior year. This was the only recipe that was worth keeping. These are also great if you substitute orange for the lemon in the

### UPDATE: needs more lemon, and possibly leave out the ginger. Used yellow sugar to make it more yellow in color. Really needs more lemon. Thinking of adding lemon juice in the batter

2 C Flour
2 t Baking Powder
¼ t Baking Soda
1 C Sugar
3 T Sugar
3 t Lemon rind
½ t Ground ginger
6 ½ T margarine
2 t light corn syrup
2 t vanilla extract
1 Egg

Preheat oven to 375. Combine flour, baking powder, and soda. Set aside.
In a mixer: Mix 1 C Sugar, 2 t lemon rind, and ginger for 1 min.
Add margarine. Beat until light and fluffy.
Add vanilla, corn syrup and egg. Stir in flour mixture.
Combine 1t lemon rind & 3 T sugar.
Coat hands with cooking spray. Roll dough into 1 inch balls.
Roll balls in lemon sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Spray the bottom of a glass with cooking spray. Flatten the balls with the glass.
Bake 375 for 7 minutes. Cool 5 minutes.
Remove from pan and cool on rack.
Makes 3 dozen

Tofu and Peanut Noodles

1 pkg Firm tofu, drained
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 T fresh ginger, grated
1/3 C soy sauce
1 T light brown sugar
1/3 C peanut butter – I used natural creamy (still has a little grit to it)
½ C water
2 T canola oil
2 pkgs Neoguri noodles or other thicker Asian noodles
2 C Peppers & Onions
1 C Frozen Broccoli, large stems removed, defrosted

Cut the tofu block into 6 slices and place side by side between paper towels on a cooling rack w/ a cutting board on top, and a large weight on the cutting board. Let the tofu press & drain for at least 10 minutes. The longer it is pressed, the better the texture of the tofu will be after frying.
Mix the soy sauce and light brown sugar together until dissolved in a liquid measuring cup. Pour
half of the mixture in to a bowl.
In the bowl, add the garlic, ginger, and pressed tofu. Toss.
In the liquid measuring cup, add the peanut butter and ½ a cup of water to the soy sauce
mixture. Stir well.
Follow the directions to cook the noodles. (I break the noodles so they are easier to toss in the
stir-fry later.) If using Neoguri, boil water, add noodles, and cook about 5 minutes. If using
Hokkien, place noodles in a bowl, cover in boiling water for two minutes. Drain.
Heat oil in a large wok or sauté pan. (Recipe calls to drain the tofu and reserve the marinade,
but there wasn’t anything to drain) Cook the tofu in two batches until the tofu is well browned on
all sides. Remove from the wok.
When the noodles are almost ready, add the vegetables to the wok (Using whatever oil is left
from browning the tofu) and stir-fry until just tender. Add the tofu, any reserved marinade, and
noodles. Toss. Give the peanut butter mixture a good last stir and add to the stir-fry. Toss until
heated through.
Adapted from: The Complete Stir-Fry Cookbook


Basil Pesto

From Giada De Laurentiis's Everyday Italian Cookbook

2 C packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 C toasted pine nuts
1 garlic clove
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
2/3 C olive oil
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese

In a blender, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper. With the blender still running, gradually add enough oil to form a smooth and thick consistently. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the cheese.

When tossing over pasta, add a little pasta water to help the pesto bind to the pasta.

When I last made this, I diced 3 tomatoes, shredded 2 carrots, and finely diced some red onion. I might have thrown in some olives as well? I can't remember.

Kick Ass Green Bean Casserole!

1 lb green beans, cleaned, end snapped off, bite-size pieces
1 T salt
4 C water

1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 T garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper
8 oz Portobello Mushrooms, cleaned and dry
2 T flour
3/4 C Chicken Stock
1 T sherry
3/4 C half-and-half
1 slice whole wheat bread
3 oz French fried onions
Salt and Pepper

Microwave beans in salted water for 6 minutes. Drain and rinse in ice water. Let beans sit to dry.

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and dice finely. Break mushroom tops into pieces ( for better texture).
Melt butter & oil. Add garlic and let it lightly brown.
Toss in mushroom pieces, salt, and pepper to the pan.
Stir frequently until mushrooms start to release their juice, about 6 min.
Add flour. Stir frequently and let it brown.
Add chicken stock and sherry. Stir and bring to a simmer.
Slowly add the half-and-half, stirring frequently until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.
Add cooked green beans. Pour into greased 8" square baking dish.

In a food processor, process the bread to crumbs, add french fried onions salt and pepper. Pulse to combine. Spread mixture evenly over beans. Cook at 425 for 10 minutes.

Adapted from a Cook's Illustrated & Kitchen Parade recipe. See link if doubling recipe or cooking later!


Refrigerator Pickles

Today I made refrigerator pickles following a recipe from Group Recipes
I used a combination of dried dill seeds and fronds, garlic, small bulb onions, pepper and a picking mix from STL. I put a tsp of salt in each pint jar and used the sugar/vinegar solution ratio  from the recipe. I think they will still be pretty sweet, due to the amount of sugar in the recipe. Time will tell how well they turned out!


Beer Can Chicken

I have made this using 17th Street "Magic Dust" as the rub, but when I made it last, I more or less followed this: Beer Can Grilled Chicken

I doubled the rub recipe for four chickens and I think I added maybe a couple teaspoons of both turmeric and ground coriander (the seed, not cilantro).

The technique shown in the video is very straight-forward and easy...minimal work for spectacular chicken :)


Strawberry Trifle

1 pkg yellow or white cake mix
1 pkg frozen strawberries in juice
16oz fresh sliced strawberries
2 cans vanilla pudding
1 lrg container of whipped topping, thawed
1/4 cup slivered almonds (optional)

Bake cake in a 9x13” pan as directed on package. Cool. Cut cake into 16 pieces. Split each piece horizontally.
Combine the strawberries and frozen strawberries
Arrange the pieces to create the 1st layer in a large glass serving bowl, cutting the pieces to fit curves of the bowl.
Pour 1/4 the strawberries over cake.
Spread with 1 cup pudding.
Repeat with remaining cake pieces, strawberries, and pudding.
Add 1 layer of whipped topping.
Repeat with remaining cake pieces, strawberries, and pudding.
Spread the remaining whipped topping and sprinkle with almonds. Chill thoroughly.
Serves 12-15.

Cobb Salad

One of my favorite salads.... found this "original" recipe at the Kitchen Project

Cobb Salad

1/2 head lettuce, about 4 cups
1 bunch watercress
1 small bunch chicory, about 2 1/2 cups
1/2 head romaine, about 2 1/2 cups
2 medium peeled tomatoes
6 strips of crisp bacon
2 breasts of boiled chicken
3 hard cooked eggs
1 avocado
1/2 cup crumbled Roquefort cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 cup (approximately) Original Cobb Salad Dressing

Cut lettuce, half the watercress, chicory and romaine in fine pieces and arrange in a large salad bowl.
Cut tomatoes, bacon, chicken, eggs, and avocado in small pieces and arrange, along with the crumbled Roquefort cheese, in strips on the greens.
Sprinkle finely cut chives over the Cobb salad and garnish with the remaining watercress.
Just before serving mix the salad with the Cobb salad dressing.

Original Cobb Salad Dressing
Makes 1 1/2 cups

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon dry English mustard
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup full-flavored olive oil
3/4 cup salad oil

Blend all ingredients together, except oils. Add olive and salad oils. Mix well.
Blend well again before mixing with salad.
A note from the Brown Derby: "The water is optional, depending upon the degree of oiliness desired in the dressing."


Chicken Curry Salad

I LOVE Guy's Chicken Curry Salad. He has perfected it over the years.

I closely watched and documented what goes into this delicious chicken salad...

3lbs chicken breasts, cooked, cooled, and diced (see steps below to poach chicken)
1 apple, peeled and diced
3 stalks of celery, deveined and diced
1/3 C green onion, chopped
1/2 C slivered almonds
1/2 C dried cranberries, chopped
1 C vanilla yogurt
3/4 C mayo (we used Helmans Olive Oil Blend)
1 t 17th Street Magic Dust
2 T yellow curry powder

This recipe changes with the season... sometimes we will add dry cherries or pecans. It will last at least 5 days in the fridge. Sometimes we serve it as a sandwich, with crackers and celery, or with mixed greens like above.
I made a vinaigrette for the greens to add a little zing! with the following:
1/4 C cider vinegar
1/4 C major grey chutney
1 T honey
2 T olive oil
Blend with an emulsion blender and lightly toss with your greens before topping with curry chicken salad!

To Poach Your Chicken Breasts:
Put chicken breasts into a pan or pot. (You can boil the chicken from frozen and it will not affect the texture.)
Cover with water.  Heavily season the water (I added 1 T salt + 1T of indian 5 spice but you could add yellow curry powder, or cumin instead)
Bring to a boil and continue to simmer until fully cooked, about 20 min.
Drain and rinse the chicken breasts. Remove any excess fat. Chop or shred the chicken.

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Today we signed up to be part of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) through
Frontwards Farm and today was delivery day! I'm so excited to be eating produce that was picked today only a few miles away that got delivered to my home! I'm not exactly sure what all the greens are, but I will find out!


Menu Planning / Pantry Organization

So, after going to Aldi today without a grocery list, I have an overflowing pantry once again. I know, I know, what was I thinking! I didn't go hungry, so its at least all healthy-ish. I am still going to have to go to a grocery store or maybe just the produce store to finish buying my needed ingredients for this week's menu, but because I fell off the cook-what-you-have-in-the-pantry wagon I am REALLY in the mood to get organized. I've been googling like crazy and have come across a few awesome websites I just had to share!

The art of meal planning has tagged a few excellent articles - I especially like the 50 Tips for Grocery Shopping!

I think I have fallen in love with Menu Plan Monday I really should do this. I cook like this but I don't feel its showy enough to post. Eh, something to consider! I will see if my tastes shadow hers as the summer progresses!

I was looking for a pantry/grocery list and found this website where you can get Free pantry/grocery list in word/excel or PDF versions. I love lists. I stopped myself after I downloaded 6 of them :-)

Now I'm off to actually use them! Dinner tonight is panko breaded baked tilapia with baked Kale chips and slaw.


Creamy Chicken and Green Chili Lasagna

I made this from what I had on hand, so feel free to tweak it to your liking!

3 lbs of Chicken (frozen bag)
1 med onion, diced
4 med carrots, diced
3 small 4oz cans of mild green chilies
2 C frozen corn
3 C low fat sour cream
Chicken bouillon equal to 3 C (optional)
Garlic Powder
Corn Tortillas
2 C Shredded cheese (I used Colby jack)

Boil chicken breasts (this is ok to do from frozen) in seasoned water. I added a generous amount of salt, garlic powder, oregano, and a general meat seasoning. This will add a little flavor to the chicken as it cooks. Boil until cooked, no longer pink in the center about 10 min. Dice or shred the chicken, removing any excess fat of course.

While the chicken is boiling, I prepped the veggies and began cooking.
Heat 2-3 T of olive oil in a sauté pan and soften the carrots and onion. Add the diced chicken and cook 5 min or so to combine. Set aside.

In between tasks, arrange 10-15 corn tortillas on a plate and microwave them until just warm, maybe 30 seconds. Quarter the tortillas. Set aside.

You can use the same dirtied pan to prepare the sauce. In a sauté pan, add the green chilies, 4 oz of water (I rinsed out the 3 cans), corn, S&P. Let cook for a few minutes letting the flavors combine.  

Add the sour cream, oregano, garlic powder, and chicken bouillon. (You could sub with 16 oz sour cream + 8 oz chicken broth. I just used what I had on hand.) Stir occasionally over medium heat until it barely comes to a boil. Remove from heat. The sauce will still seem thin. This is ok!

Spray or oil the bottom of a 9x13 or larger baking dish.
Arrange a single layer of tortilla quarters to cover the bottom surface.
Follow with a thin layer of chicken mixture.
Follow with a few ladles of green chili sauce.
Follow with a thin sprinkle of cheese.
Cover with another layer of tortilla quarters.
Repeat layers, using up all the ingredients, trying to finish with sauce and cheese on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 min uncovered. I then turned up the heat to 425 for 5 minutes to get some browned color on the surface. Let rest a few minutes from the oven before serving.

Serves 8.


Rattlesnake Tofu

I love making rattlesnake tofu, even if it takes forever to do so.

This picture is the mix of the spices for the blackening seasoning


Roast Fail, Meatloaf Win!

I FAILED at making a roast overnight. I woke up this morning to find that the lid of the crock-pot had shattered all over the top of the roast. I didn't pull the crock-pot liner down around the outside of the crock-pot. I think that when it got hot, pressure couldn't release through the lip of the pot because the liner was in the way. Instead I think the roast or pressure must have pushed through the lid, hence GLASS INFUSED cider-braised pork shoulder with caramelized onion and apple confit. Boo. I will have to try it another time. It smelled SO GOOD!

So now I need to make something else that can feed 9 people tonight. I'm going to my standby "best meatloaf in the world" by Alton Brown. I made 1 & 1/2 of the recipe and split it into 2 meatloaves. Served with peas and Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes (also from Alton Brown - Thanks for making them Michelle & Justin!). Candle brought a salad and I also made a no-cream potato soup with a yummy pesto from Oprah - who would have thought! I will make this again for sure! I followed the recipe, just added a little additional salt and pepper before serving. The entire party loved it!
Great night, good company, and congrats to Leah & Shawn ~ wish you both a long, happy & healthy marriage!


mmm... hummus!

HUMMUS Recipe (From Cheese Factory Restaurant, Baraboo, WI)

1.5 lbs canned garbanzo beans, drained; reserve 1/2 cup plus 2tbsp liquid
2 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup roasted tahini
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp salt

Combine ingredients in food processor and puree until very smooth.

That is what the original recipe reads. We usually add a little more salt and lemon juice in tiny increments and taste until it is perfect. You can add sun-dried tomatoes, olives, roasted red peppers, or herbs to this to switch it up.

Drizzle with olive oil and serve with fresh or roasted veggies, warmed pita wedges, feta cheese, olives, radishes, etc...

You can dress up the serving plate with a sprinkle of finely chopped parsley and/or paprika.

Visit the Cheese factory website at: http://www.cookingvegetarian.com/


Cardamom Cookies

This is the recipe for the little groundhog cookies that were served at Groundhog Day '08 & '10

1 C butter, softened
2 eggs
1 C sugar
3 1/2 C flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 t cardamom
1 t cinnamon
1/4 C milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cream together eggs, sugar and butter in mixing bowl.
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cardamom.
Slowly add egg/butter mixture and mix well.
Add milk to form dough.

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface. Dough should be about 1/8 in thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out cookies.

Place on greased cookie sheet or parchment paper and back 10-12 minutes, until light brown.

Cool cookies immediately on wire racks.

Once cooled, frost cookies with icing (recipe below). Makes about 80 2in cookies.

2 C Powdered sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 t cinnamon
1-3 T water

Zucchini Pancakes

Michelle made these for appetizer dinner and shared with Guy and I. These are great dipped in marinara sauce. This recipe came from the back of the Dynasty breadcrumb box

1/2 lb zucchini (2 small)
1 egg
1/2 C japanese style bread crumbs

Mmm Indian Food!

We have been cooking from Sunita's Indian Recipe Collection for years. I kinda freaked out for a minute when I realized that geocities was gone and I was thinking how I need to copy these turmeric stained pages immediately...but I found it! http://reocities.com/NapaValley/3925/

If you have had Indian food at our house, it was probably the following recipes: Guchi Mattar, Cauliflower Curry, Peas Pulau, Butter Chicken, and the Basic Raita

Lasagna of Roasted Butternut Squash

This is one of the most decadent recipes we have ever made. Its super involved, dirties every dish in the kitchen, but is SO worth it - if you have the time. This is uber-comfort, off-the-diet, sooo rich and yummy food. Invite me over whenever you make it!

Lasagna of Roasted Butternut Squash

Soysage Egg Casserole

I made this with Soysage for the first time at our Groundhog Day Party and it turned out delicious! This is quick and easy to make - no overnight prep!

1 tube of Gimmie Lean Ground Sausage (-OR- 1lb Pork Sausage)
1 med. Green pepper, diced
1 med. Onion, diced
10 Eggs
3 C Skim Milk
2 t Dry mustard
1 t Salt
1/2 t Pepper
6 English muffins, torn/cut into bite-size pieces
1 med. Tomato, seeded and chopped
2 C Cheddar cheese, shredded

1. Butter a 9x13 baking pan. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Add 1-2 T butter or oil to the skillet. Cook soysage, breaking up crumbles. * If using sausage, you may need to drain off excess grease.
3. Toss in green pepper and onion with the soysage to soften, about 5 min. Dump into baking dish.
4. Add cut english muffins, tomatoes, and 1 C sharp cheddar cheese to baking dish. Mix together. (You can prep this the night before, if needed.)
5. Combine eggs, milk, dry mustard, salt and pepper. Wisk well.
6. Pour egg mixture over casserole. Press down contents so egg mixture completely covers it.
7. Top with 1 C sharp cheddar cheese. Dish may be refrigerated for up to 1 hour before baking.
8. Bake uncovered 55-60 minutes, until eggs are set.


Sweet Potato Ginger Soup

This recipe made a very large batch, could half the recipe in the future.

I used leeks, but have rarely used these... check here to see how to clean them...How to clean leeks
otherwise substituting with onion and browning slightly will turn out similar.

I wanted to use my Cuisinart, so I used the slicer disk to finely dice the leeks. And since it was already out, I used the chopping blade to cut the sweet potatoes.

2 T Olive Oil
2 C diced leek or onion
1/2 t red chili flakes
3 T minced fresh ginger
4 T tamari or soy sauce
6 Large Sweet Potatoes, peeled and chopped
2-3 T ground coriander
2-3 T garam masala
8 C vegetable stock
1/2 C chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil. Add the leeks, chili flakes and fresh ginger. Saute for a few minutes.
Add sweet potatoes. Saute for a few minutes.
Add coriander and garam masala. Stir frequently.
Add vegetable stock. Bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer 10-15 minutes until potatoes are softened.
Blend soup until smooth. Return to heat.
Garnish with cilantro when served.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Tofu and Cucumber

This is one of my all time favorite tofu dishes. Its one of the few recipes I don't mess with!

Total Time:  20 Minutes                 Serves 4

3/4 pound whole-wheat spaghetti

1 1/4 pounds firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 tablespoon plus 4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 1/2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded,  
    and cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 scallions including green tops, sliced
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro or fresh parsley

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the spaghetti until just done, about 15 minutes. Drain the pasta. Rinse with cold water and drain thoroughly.
In a medium bowl, combine the tofu with the 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon of the grated ginger. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
In a large glass or stainless-steel bowl, combine the remaining 2 teaspoons ginger and 4 teaspoons soy sauce, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cooking oil, the vinegar, lemon juice, sesame oil, lemon zest, salt, and cayenne.
In a large nonstick frying pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon cooking oil over moderate heat. Add the tofu and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 8 minutes. Add the tofu, pasta, cucumbers, scallions, and cilantro to the dressing in the large bowl and toss.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Food and Wine. All rights reserved.
Nutrition Information
Serves 4 - Facts Per Serving:
Calories:               495         Fat. Total:            15g         Carbohydrates, Total:    73g
Cholesterol:       0mg       Sodium:               728mg   Protein:                24g
Fiber:    13g         % Cal. from Fat:                27%        Fat, Saturated:  0g
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Source: Quick from Scratch - One Dish Meals