Saturday, July 31, 2010

Farfalle with Pesto, Chicken and Tomatoes

This is a great alternative to the usual pasta salad.
It incorporates
*basil pesto
*feta cheese.
It could even be served as a main dish if you
paired it with a nice crusty bread.

Farfalle with Pesto, Chicken and Tomatoes:

1 lb. farfalle pasta, cooked according to directions

8 oz. pesto

1 1/2 c. chicken, cooked and shredded

5 roma tomatoes, diced

8 oz. feta cheese, I used the tomato and basil variety

1/4 - 1/2 c. oil - whatever kind you prefer, I used vegetable oil

salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta, drain and cool by running under cold water. Add pesto, chicken, tomatoes and cheese. Stir well. Add enough oil to moisten the pasta. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until ready to serve. If the pasta seems dry, add a little more oil.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Simply the Best Chocolate & Butterscotch Chip Cookie

What more can I say?
These are the best.
They are soft and chewy
they are crisp and melt in your mouth.
Does it sound too good to be true?
Give them a try.

Simply the Best Chocolate & Butterscotch Chip Cookies!

4 1/2 c. flour
2 t. soda
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. butter flavored Crisco
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
2 small boxes of instant vanilla pudding
4 eggs
2 t. vanilla
2 c. chocolate chips
2 c. butterscotch chips
2 c. walnuts, chopped & optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In the large bowl of your mixer, place butter and shortening. Mix well. Add brown sugar, white sugar and pudding boxes. Mix until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, combine. Add the flour slowly so you don't make a mess, add soda. Mix until everything is incorporated. Finally add the chips and nuts if you want.

Place spoonfuls on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chile Verde

Chile Verde.

Chile Verde:

3-5 lb. pork - shoulder, butt or loin (I used a pork shoulder)\
5 small cans of green chilies, divided
2 garlic cloves
1 sweet onion
1 can tomato sauce
1 jalapeno, or more if you like it spicy
1 1/2 t. cumin
4 c. water
2 t. chicken bouillon
salt to taste

First start by cutting the pork into bite sized pieces. In a large pot heat vegetable oil. Add meat and saute until browned.

In a food processor, place 4 cans of green chilies, garlic, onion, tomato sauce, jalapeno and cumin. Blend until pureed together.

Add pureed mixture to pork, stir. Add water, chicken bouillon and the last can of green chilies.

Bring pot to a light boil, then turn down the temperature and simmer for 2-3 hours. Much of this timing will depend on which cut of meat you chose. Mine was done in about 2.5 hours - but a loin may take a little longer. Season with salt if needed.

Serve in warm tortillas with lots of toppings, cheese, tomato, onion, sour cream, cilantro and guacamole.

Bon Appetit!

Simply Brisket

Quite simply my favorite piece of beef.
If it's not done correctly it's tougher than a shoe,
but if you know how to cook brisket, it is the most flavorful
and versatile piece of meat, ever.
It's not difficult - but I think lots of people are scared of brisket
because it can be tough if not cooked properly.
I always serve my brisket with horseradish sauce.
It reminds me of Papa.
Here's how to do it with perfect results every time!

Simply Brisket:

5-6 lb. brisket - or bigger:)
1 head of garlic
1 1/2 t. onion powder
2 t. salt
pepper to taste
1 quart of beef stock

Preheat oven to 500 degrees or your broil option.

Using a paring knife and your fingers, stuff brisket all over with garlic cloves. Season brisket with onion powder, salt and pepper. Place brisket in a roasting pan and broil until top is browned. Turn over and do the other side.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Make sure your brisket is fat-side-up. This will insure that as the brisket is cooking, the fat will baste the meat giving it lots of flavor. Add enough stock to come up 1 inch on the sides of the brisket.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 30 minutes per pound. This is where some guess work is involved. When the time is up, remove the brisket and stick a fork in it. If the meat comes apart easily, it is done. If not - stick that puppy back in the oven and let it go a bit longer.
When it is fork-tender, slice the meat AGAINST THE GRAIN. You can trim the fat off now or not. The juices that are left in the pan are PERFECT for gravy. Just make sure you skim the fat off of the juice.

***Note: Left over brisket is perfect for hot roast beef sandwiches or BBQ beef sandwiches. I actually look forward to the left-overs just as much as the first meal!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chicken Spaghetti

I haven't cooked out of the Pioneer Woman's cookbook too much, but I do love it and Tamara inspired me to take it out of the bookcase. This is the PW recipe except I changed the chicken bit. The original recipe has a whole fryer chicken that you boil and then shred, and incorporates the stock the chicken has boiled in. I really don't like boiled chicken water--something about it just grosses me out. I know it's essentially the same thing, but I'd rather just open a box or can of stock. I had some leftover rotisserie chicken that I used instead. I like this recipe for how easy it is, especially if you have some leftover cooked chicken-- everything just gets mixed in the same bowl with the cooked spaghetti and then thrown in the oven for a quick dinner.

1 pound thin spaghetti, broken into 2" pieces (1/2 of a 900g pkg)
1 4oz jar of diced pimientos, drained
1/3 C diced onion
1/4 C diced green pepper (I used red)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 1/2 C grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp Lawry's seasoned salt
black pepper to taste
dash of cayenne
2 C chicken stock
1 C (or more) of diced cooked chicken

Cook the spaghetti until tender and almost done. Drain and put in a large bowl. Add all the above ingredients except for 1/2 C of the cheese that will go on top. It seems a bit runny because of the amount of stock. It does end up absorbing it all and cooks up perfectly. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and bake for 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

PW's Sour Cream Pancakes

Oh My Gosh!!!
It's not very often I get excited about breakfast.
Dessert? Yes. Breakfast? Not so much.
These pancakes are not your run of the mill Krusteaz pancakes.
These are light, amazingly fluffy and beyond yummy.
They remind me of the Belgium Waffles we make, in that they
are also all of those things, light, fluffy and yummy.
The amount of sour cream to flour ratio, made me wonder how
in the world they would hold together, but they did and am I ever glad.
Since they are so delicate, flipping them takes some patience,
but once you take your first bite you will be so glad you tried them.

PW's Sour Cream Pancakes:

2 c. sour cream
3/4 c. flour
2 T. sugar
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
4 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, vanilla and sour cream. Mix well. Add the salt, baking soda, sugar and flour. Mix well.

Place skillet over medium low heat, melt a tablespoon of butter. Pour the batter into the skillet about 1/4 c. at a time. Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes and then gently flip. Cook for another minute or so and remove to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter.
Top with butter and syrup or fruit and whipped cream.

Bon Appetit!

PW's Chocolate Sheet Cake

I recently bought a new cookbook -
I haven't bought one
in at least a collection is out of control.
"The Pioneer Woman Cooks"
by Ree Drummond.
Jodie told me about her, we've both made many of the recipes
from her website,
and now her book is my new focus.
When I get a great new cookbook I obsess and make every recipe that
sounds new and tasty! I have to pace myself...
Last night I made this chocolate sheet cake. It is fantastic.
I love that you make the icing and put it on the cake while both are warm.
The top of the cake absorbed the icing and took it to
a whole new level of moist-ness.
All of the ingredients are things you likely have in your kitchen right now.
I love that.

PW's Chocolate Sheet Cake:

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. buttermilk (if you don't have any I'll tell you how to make it)
2 large eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. baking soda
1 c. butter
4 heaping T. cocoa
1 c. water

1 3/4 sticks of butter
4 heaping T. cocoa
6 T. milk
1 t. vanilla extract
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 c. finely chopped pecans

In a large bowl beat the eggs, buttermilk, baking soda and vanilla. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add cocoa. Whisk together to combine. Meanwhile bring 1 c. water to a boil. When the butter is melted pour the water in the pan. Allow to bubble for a minute then turn off the heat.
With the mixer going, slowly incorporate the warm chocolate mixture to the egg mixture. Do this slowly to tempur the eggs. When it is all combined add the sugar, salt and flour. Mix well.
Pour into a ungreased jelly roll pan, or rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. (Mine actually took more like 26 minutes, but check with a toothpick to see when it is done.)
While the cake is baking make the icing.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add cocoa and stir until smooth. Add milk and vanilla. Add powdered sugar. Stir together. You can add the chopped pecans now or you can sprinkle them on top of the icing after. (I have a child who dislikes nuts so I left him a corner that was nut-free.)
Immediately after removing the cake from the oven, pour the warm icing over the top of the cake. You'll want to avoid doing much spreading, so try to distribute it evenly as you pour.

***If you don't have buttermilk on hand this is what you can do. Add 1 T. white vinegar to just under 1 c. milk and stir.
BUT...buttermilk is SO versatile! And it is beyond inexpensive. Go buy some.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vanilla Ice Cream without the Ice Cream Maker!

Creamy and light (in texture, not calories) homemade ice cream...
WITHOUT an ice cream maker?
A certain generous milk-man blessed me with an obscene amount
of heavy whipping cream recently.
My goal has been to find and make perfect homemade ice cream.
I've tried cooked custards. I've tried little packages of powder.
I've tried it all.
This one seemed too good to be true. It's not.
This recipe takes the burden off of the ice cream maker to whip enough air
into the ice cream to make it creamy and instead
uses the Kitchen Aid to do the job.
I've put my ice cream maker out to pasture. I suspect mine won't be lonely for long.

Magic Vanilla Ice Cream:

**makes 2 quarts

1 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 oz. white chocolate squares
2 T. quality vanilla
dash of salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate in the milk - for about 1 minute at 50% power. Stir. If chocolate isn't quite melted, heat for 20 second intervals, stirring after each time.
Cool. When milk/chocolate mixture is cooled add vanilla, salt and sour cream.

In a chilled bowl, beat the whipping cream to soft peaks - which takes about 2 minutes on medium high speed.

Mix 1/3 of the cream into the milk mixture. Once it is all combined, gently fold into the remaining cream, careful not to deflate.

Place mixture into an air tight container and freeze until firm about 6 hours or up to 2 weeks.

Bon Appetit!

Baked Pastina Casserole

Unfortunately I only took one photo and it happens to be really blurry, however, the pasta dish courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis is a really tasty one. It is from her Everyday Pasta cookbook. I love all her pasta dishes and this one can't be easier.

1 C pastina or any small pasta (I used shells)
2 T olive oil
1/2 C cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
1/2 C diced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes, with juice
1 C shredded mozzarella
1/4 C chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 C bread crumbs
1/4 C Parmesan cheese
1 T butter, cut in small pieces

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta, just until tender. Drain and transfer to a mixing bowl.

Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft and chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Add the chicken mixture to the bowl with the pasta, then add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

Butter or spray with cooking spray an 8X8 pan and spread the pasta in the dish. Mix together the bread crumbs and Parmesan and sprinkle over the top. Dot with small bits of the butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Bon Appetit!

German Chocolate Cake

Happy Birthday to me!
Happy Birthday to me!
This is a well kept family secret...
German Chocolate Cake IS my favorite birthday cake!
Somehow I was dubbed someone
who loved Black Forest Cake
for their birthday and I'm not entirely sure how it happened. With that said,
there is nothing wrong with a
well done Black Forest Cake,
but it's not my favorite cake:)
So, today on the day of my birth - I begged James to let me make my own birthday cake. He was so willing to go to the bakery and buy me a GC cake, but really?
I wouldn't be as good as the one
I am more than willing to make!
I is after all MY birthday and
I can do anything I want including
making my own scrumptious cake.

German Chocolate Cake:

1 boxed German Chocolate Cake mix + ingredients to make it.


1 c. evaporated milk
1 1/3 c. white sugar
2 eggs
4 T. butter
1/4 t. salt
2 t. vanilla
2 1/2 c. coconut
1 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

In a heavy saucepan combine the milk, sugar and eggs. Whisk until well combined. Add the butter and salt, cook on medium low heat until thickened. I stir pretty much constantly until the mixture starts to boil. Take it off the heat and stir in the vanilla. Add coconut and nuts. Set aside until it has cooled.

Note: This is not the kind of frosting you will be able to frost around the sides of a cake beautifully. I prefer to make a 9x13 pan and then spread a nice THICK layer of the frosting on top. Some prefer to frost 2 - 8 or 9 inch rounds with frosting in the middle. Just be aware that this type of "frosting" will have more of a "dripping" effect over the sides of the cake. There is just no way around it...unless you frost the sides of the cake with a regular chocolate frosting, which I must say I don't like. I prefer dripping GC frosting any day to any other type or flavor of frosting on my GC cake. Boy. This is a long note.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Super Soft Caramel Popcorn

I searched and searched and searched for a soft caramel popcorn
recipe that actually stays soft and finally found this one.
With that being said, it is also horribly addicting.
If you are a fan of soft caramel corn, give this one a try.
Super Soft Caramel Popcorn:

2 1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
1 c. butter
dash of salt
1-14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 t. vanilla
10 quarts of popped corn

Combine sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium and add milk. Cook, stirring frequently to a temperature of 225 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Remove from heat then stir in vanilla.

Pour slowly over popcorn, stirring until the caramel is evenly distributed throughout.

Store popcorn in a covered container.

Note: You may vary the amount of popcorn used. I like more caramel coating so I use less popcorn. You may also 1/2 the recipe, but I never seem to use the other half a can of sweetened condensed milk:)

Bon Appetit!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Shish Tawook

Shish Tawook or skewered chicken, is a really yummy and flavorful dish eaten in Turkish, Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine. I found this recipe from Dede who has an amazing online collection of cooking videos and recipes. The chicken is really tender and so easy to make. Bite-sized pieces of chicken soak for several hours or overnight in the marinade and then placed on sticks for grilling or baking.


2-3 cloves of minced garlic
1 1/2 T tomato paste
2 T ketchup
1/4 C plain yogurt
1/4 C lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika

Cut 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts into cubes. Place in the marinade for several hours or overnight.
Soak shish kabob sticks in water for a half hour. Thread the chicken onto the sticks, about 6 pieces. I use a roasting pan but line the bottom with a bit of parchment or foil to make clean up easier.
They can be grilled on the bbq, or put in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. I like to broil them for a few minutes at the end to finish cooking-- they appear to look grilled and I know they are cooked through.

Monday, July 5, 2010

My Favorite Summertime Meal

While my sister and I were in Florida we ate an amazing Italian restaurant.
Our appetizer was a beautifully laid out plate of sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella
and arugula, topped with a balsamic reduction.
It was amazing.
Since returning I've been obsessed with that appetizer and make it a meal often.
I've got it perfected, with veggies from my garden and the grocery store.
Nothing beats fresh Mescalin, I happen to have it growing in my garden.
If you have a garden I recommend trying it.
You can use plain arugula or an herb mix of greens. I love fresh basil too.
Use whatever sounds good at the time. Generously drizzle it with a really good
balsamic glaze or reduction. You will find them by the vinegars in your store.

So...what will you put on your plate?

Avocado's? Nothing beats a perfectly ripe avocado.

Tomato? Fresh from the garden...yum.

Fresh mozzarella? If you haven't tried it, do. Find a "young" mozzarella that is soft and comes in water.

Fresh greens? Basil, mescalin mix, arugula, baby spinach. They will all be fantastic.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Macaroon Brownies

Chocolate and coconut, two of my favorite things. So a recipe that combines the two has to be good-- and this one is! It's from the Taste of Home collection.

1 C butter, softened
2 C sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 C flour
1/2 C cocoa
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 C chopped walnuts (optional)


1 pkg flaked coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla


3/4 C sugar
1/4 C milk
2 T butter
1 C mini marshmallows
1 C chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. In another bowl, combine flour, cocoa and cream of tartar. Add gradually to the creamed mixture. Stir in nuts if you are using them. Spread half of the batter into a greased 9X13" pan.

Mix the filling ingredients together and spread carefully over the chocolate layer. Top with the remaining chocolate mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick near the centre comes out clean. Cool.

For the frosting, combine sugar, milk and butter in a saucepan. Cook and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir until chocolate chips and marshmallows are melted. I take it off the heat while I am stirring to ensure that the chocolate doesn't harden up and burn. Cool for about and half hour and spread over the cooled brownies. Yummm!!

Strawberry Pie

This is definitely one of my favorite summertime desserts. The filling is quick and easy and the crust is a shortbread cookie. As Ina Garten says, what could be better than that?


1 C butter (not margarine)
1/2 C powdered sugar
2 C flour
1/4 tsp baking powder

Cream the butter and sugar together. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder. Combine with the sugar and butter. Chill for an hour or so, then press into a 9" pie plate. I find this makes a lot and don't use quite all of the dough. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned- around 20 minutes. Let cool.


In a saucepan, mix together:
1 C sugar
2 T cornstarch
1 small pkg strawberry jello
Add 1 C cold water and stir over medium heat until mixture is thickened. Let cool to room temperature.

You will need one quart (4 Cups) of strawberries. Wash and take the tops off. Leave the berries whole, or halve the larger ones to make them more bite-size. Pat dry and place them in the cooled crust. Pour cooled gel mixture over berries and put the pie in the fridge for an hour or so until completely set. Serve with whipped cream and enjoy!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Strawberry Freezer Jam

One of my favorite things about summer is strawberry season. I always make loads of freezer jam that I love for sandwiches, cake and crepe fillings--lots of yummy ways to eat it.

Wash the berries and remove the tops. You can mash by hand, or since I'm lazy, I use the food processor. This recipe will make five, 250ml jars of jam, or two, 500ml jars with about a cup leftover for another jar.

1 3/4 C mashed berries
4 C sugar
1 pouch of liquid pectin (Certo)
2 T lemon juice

Stir together in a large bowl the berries and sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes. Add the Certo and the lemon juice. Stir for 3 minutes. Pour into jars, just below the rim. Cover with lids. Leave at room temperature for 24 hours then freeze away.