Saturday, January 31, 2009

Great V-Day Giveaway

Stop by at All Ameerican Mommy for some cute giveaways!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Football Friday at Work and Tortilla Pinwheels

Today we are celebrating Superbowl weekend at work. Employees can dress in team jerseys (even if your favorite is not in the big game!) and of course there is a lot of "tailgating" going on!
On my floor, there is a variety of food already starting to line up on the tables. Someone made delicious looking sausage bread, there is hummus and pita, pizza, veggies and dip, a gorgeous salad, crackers, cheese and pepperoni, little meatballs, chicken wings and I made tortilla pinwheels. And it is only 8:15 AM!
I also saw some bagels, cream cheese and donuts!
For my pinwheels, I made one batch traditionally with cream cheese, sour cream and chopped chiles. The other batch I made as dessert pinwheels! I used Philadelphia Brand pineapple cream cheese in the tub and added 4-oz. of sour cream. Then I added a bit more drained crushed pineapple, some chopped maraschino cherries and chopped walnuts and about 3 TBSP of brown sugar. This all was spread on flour tortillas, rolled and chilled overnight. Oh gosh, these are really good!!

The recipe I use for the traditional pinwheels comes from

8 oz. dairy sour cream1 pkg.
(8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 can (4 oz.) diced green chilies, well drained
1 can (4 oz.) chopped black olives, well drained
1 c. grated Cheddar cheese
1/2 c. chopped green onion
5 (10 inch) flour tortillas
Salsa for dipping

Mix all of the ingredients together thoroughly. Divide the filling and spread evenly over the tortillas; roll up tortillas. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, twisting ends; refrigerate for several hours.
Unwrap; cut in slices 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Discard ends. Lay pinwheels flat on glass serving plate. Leave space in center of plate for small bowl of salsa if desired.
Makes about 50 pinwheels.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Snickerdoodle Blondies...A MUST TRY

Last night I made Snickerdoodle Blondies which is on Dozen Flours blog. Buckle's Blissful Snickerdoodle Blondies. The fragrance while baking was so beautiful with all that lovely cinnamon and brown sugar filling the air! We couldn't wait to get a taste once they came out of the oven...patiently waiting...waiting...waiting! Ok, cool enough to try! These are so good and a must try. If you love Snickerdoodles, this will satisfy your craving and make it easy because you bake it as a bar cookie. This is the photo off Julia's blog and mine looked just like this. The dough is heavy and I spread it in the pan with a sandwich bag over my hand! The result, chewy and delish.
Now I'm thinking that for a little fancier dessert, cut these into squares, top with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, drizzle some caramel sauce over the top and add a dollop of fresh whipped cream. MMMMMMMMMM.....
But, to keep the caloric intake down in our house, I brought the batch to work and wow, is everyone happy to have these with their coffee today! Thank you, Julia, for a really great recipe!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pineapple Casserole...I must be thinking Hawaii and warmth!

Yesterday we had Jezebel Sauce, which had pineapple in it, and today's recipe is another favorite side with ham...Pineapple Casserole. A few years ago, my daughter saw Paula Deen make this. I love pineapple. They are a good source of Vitamin C and help to protect againt macular degeneration. Of course, I think this applies to fresh pineapple rather than this recipe! I have been finding pretty reasonably priced pineapples and we have been enjoying them since the summer.

I have used this side for Easter dinners and a Hawaiian theme party. I always double the recipe because once it gets tasted, it goes fast. It seems like an odd combination of ingredients, but it is soooo good! What is not to like? Cheese, butter...yum! Not exactly a dieter's delight, but it not a recipe you make that often. When you do, is a nice splurge!

Pineapple Casserole
8 servings
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups grated sharp cheddar
2 (20-ounce) cans pineapple chunks, drained, and 6 tablespoons pineapple juice reserved
1 cup cracker crumbs (recommended: Ritz)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted, plus extra for greasing pan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a medium-size casserole dish with butter.
In a large bowl, stir together the sugar and flour. Gradually stir in the cheese. Add the drained pineapple chunks, and stir until ingredients are well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
In another medium bowl, combine the cracker crumbs, melted butter, and reserved pineapple juice, stirring with a rubber spatula until evenly blended. Spread crumb mixture on top of pineapple mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Living in the northeast is definitely not nice in the winter. As I look out my window and see the snow, with the expectation that we will be getting about a foot of the white stuff before the day is over, I guess thinking of warm places helps me get through this. That and comfort food like a baked ham dinner!

Jezebel Sauce with Baked Ham

Every now and then I have a taste for a nice spiral cut ham. I have found that the Cook's brand is very good and usually economical. You get a couple of meals, sandwiches and the chance to make split pea soup! When I make ham for dinner, I make it with a couple of favorite sides.

One is Jezebel Sauce. Pass this to serve over sliced ham. It has a nice tangy, sweet flavor. Rachael Ray has this in one of her cookbooks as well.

This is also delicious served over goat cheese rounds for your party table. I love the creaminess of goat cheese and this sauce pairs well with it.
Jezebel Sauce
1 c. apricot preserves
1 c. pineapple preserves
1/4 c. horseradish, drained
3 tbsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. pepper

Mix preserves, horseradish, mustard, and pepper.
Store covered in the refrigerator.
To serve as an appetizer:

1 or 2 pkgs. goat cheese

To serve, slice goat cheese in rounds and place on a small platter.
Spoon jezebel sauce over the top.
Serve with water crackers for a nice crunch that will not compete with the flavors of the sauce.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Cheese "Globes"

I have never liked the term "cheese balls" and I prefer to call them
" globes"! But no matter what you prefer to call them, they always seem to be a popular item at a party and a nice way to serve cheese....yum! I have also never been a fan of those little cheese food balls coated with nuts that you can buy in the grocery store, or the little packages of things you add to cream cheese. To me they are dry and filled with preservatives.

The nice thing about cheese globes is that they are very portable and a nice item to bring with you to a party. At a recent get together, I served 3 of these on a beautiful oval wooden platter with pewter handles. I just laid a few sprigs of parsley as a bed for them and spiced up the presentation a bit. If you are going to a Super Bowl party this weekend, these would be a great take-a-long.

Here are the recipes for all 3 of my favorites:

Feta Herb Spread Cheese Ball
6-8 ounces Feta cheese
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup mayonnaise
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon dill

Mix all ingredients together and form into a ball. Chill for several hours. Mixture will be rather soft, but you will be able to shape into a ball. Sprinkle top with chopped pistachios and serve with crackers.

Chutney Cheese Ball
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup Stonewall KitchensOld Farmhouse chutney (This is definitely the best, but if you cannot find it, you any chutney)

¼ cup finely chopped scallions, white and pale green parts
1 medium garlic clove, minced
½ cup shredded Colby cheese
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

In medium bowl, combine cream cheese, chutney, scallions and garlic. Stir until well blended. Add Colby and Monterey Jack cheeses and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Chill for several hours to firm up. Form into a ball and roll in the chopped pecans. Garnish and serve with apple wedges.

Blue Cheese Ball
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese,
3 ounces crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
3 drops hot pepper sauce (e.g. Tabasco™), or to taste
1 pinch cayenne pepper
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese and blue cheese. Blend in the celery, onion, hot pepper sauce, and cayenne pepper. Chill overnight, or until firm.
Roll the chilled cheese mixture into a ball, and coat with pecans. Wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate until serving.
My dad's birthday celebration went well. We had a lovely dinner out. I had the most fabulous dinner. It was boneless chicken in a portwine reduction with figs, walnuts and blue cheese. I have to experiment with this as it was so delicious. It was served with creamy mashed potatoes that had tiny bits of pancetta and parsley. The cake that I made came out great too and we had that at home. Back to the old diet routine today!! Or should I say, my regular eating regimen!

It's a good thing I watch portions and food all week so I can splurge on the weekends!
Happy Monday!'s 8 degrees here! What's so happy about that?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Easy Rum Cake

This weekend we will be celebrating my dad's 86th birthday. My brother and sister-in-law will be home and there will be 6 of us going to dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant. From there, back to our home for cake and coffee. I have decided to make the rum cake recipe I have, but use Amaretto in it instead. I have made it both ways, but I have some chopped almonds that I can use up so they will go nicely with the almond flavor of the Amaretto. Can you believe this starts with a cake mix? After glazing, I am going to coat some fresh blueberries in sanding sugar and make a ring around the cake after the glaze has set. I may even sprinkle some of the white sanding sugar on the warm glaze to give it some sparkle. This is a pretty big occasion after all!

Great weekend to you all!!

Ingredients for Cake:

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts or almonds
1 18 ½ oz box yellow cake mix (Duncan Hines)
1 1-3/4 oz box Jello instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
½ cup cold water
½ cup Wesson oil
½ cup Bacardi dark rum (80 proof) or Amaretto

Ingredients for Glaze

¼ lb. Butter
¼ cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (or more) Bacardi rum or Amaretto

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Grease and flour 10” tube or 12” bundt pan
Sprinkle chopped nuts over bottom of pan
Mix all cake ingredients together
Pour cake batter over nuts
Bake 1 hour and put out to cool…not too long

While cooling, make glaze:
Melt butter in sauce pan
Stir in water and sugar
Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly (till slightly thickened)
Remove from heat and stir in rum or Amaretto

After cake cools, invert on serving tray or plate
Prick holes into top of cake (many)…I use a cake tester
Drizzle and smooth the glaze over the top and sides of cakeAllow cake to absorb glaze and keep repeating until all glaze is gone

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More College Inn Recipes

What a cool surprise to find a letter in my email from an employee for College Inn Broths. I have attached her letter and a couple other recipes she included. They sound great and with the cold weather we have for the next couple of months, I will be sure to give them a try. I was interested in the new products they have and will look for them in the supermarket. I love the stocks because you can use them to make delicious gravies or Au jus for your meals. As a matter of fact, we used the Beef Sirloin stock when I was in Atlanta to flavor the Yorkshire pudding that my husband made for the Christmas dinner prime rib roast. It was healthier than using the pan drippings and quite flavorful.

So thank you to Ashley from College Inn. Have a great day everyone!
Hi Linda,
I came across your post for Tuscan Chicken from College Inn Broth. My name is Ashley and I work with College Inn and I am thrilled to hear you enjoyed the recipe! I’m not sure if you are aware but College Inn actually just launched a new line of Culinary Broths in exotic flavors like Thai Coconut Curry and White Wine and Herb and savory Bold Stocks in Rotisserie Chicken and Beef Sirloin.
These new broths and stocks are great because they allow you to add gourmet taste to your every day dishes without having to go out to dinner or slave over the stove for hours! Since you enjoyed the recipe you found on the Beef Broth can I invite you to visit check out the interactive cookbook online! Best-

Double Roasted Tuscan Chicken Soup
**TIP: double the recipe and freeze half for an easy go-to meal
PREP 5 minutes COOK 8 minutes
2 cups diced roasted chicken (tip: grab a pre-cooked whole chicken from
the market on your way home to save time)
½ cup diced onion
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup peas & carrots
1 carton (32 oz.) College Inn Bold Stock, Rotisserie Chicken
Fresh basil (optional)
1. Cook chicken and onion in oil in large saucepan, 3 minutes
2. Add peas & carrots and stock
3. Simmer 5 minutes
4. Garnish with chopped fresh basil and Parmesan cheese, if desired

Thai Shrimp Curry
Prep time: 6 minutes Cook time: 6 minutes Makes: 2 to 3 servings
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 lb. large shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 cups frozen stir-fry vegetables, thawed
4 tsp. cornstarch
1-1/2 cups COLLEGE INN® Culinary Broth, Thai Coconut Curry
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
Optional garnishes: cilantro and/or fresh basil
1. Heat oil in large skillet. Add shrimp; stir-fry 2 minutes.
2. Add vegetables; stir-fry 2 minutes.
3. Dissolve cornstarch in broth; add red pepper flakes. Add to skillet. Cook, stirring, until thickened.
4. Serve over noodles or rice and garnish with fresh basil and cilantro, if desired.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tuscan Chicken

Tonight I am making a recipe that is, again, easy and delicious. Interestingly enough, it came off the back of a can of College Inn beef broth...yes, that's right, beef broth. I have increased this recipe for a crowd when I had a buffet dinner and it worked well for that. It is a very tasty dish.

I usually make this with egg noodles rather than pasta. I like the flavor and texture better with the sauce; they are lighter. Garnish with some parsley or fresh rosemary and you have a pretty plating. When I serve family style for dinner, I have a large shallow bowl. I pile the pasta in the center and place the chicken pieces around it. Then I spoon on the sauce over everything. Mangia!

P.S. Photo is a stock photo...not mine! It is off of the AllRecipes site!
Tuscan Chicken

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups COLLEGE INN® Beef Broth (I use the low sodium and fat free)

Season chicken with salt and pepper.
Heat a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat.
Add 2 tablespoons oil, half the chicken pieces and half the garlic.
Brown chicken 2 minutes on each side and remove from pan. Repeat with remaining oil, chicken and garlic.
Add vinegar to skillet; cook until evaporated. This deglazes the pan.
Add butter, shallots and rosemary to skillet and cook 2 minutes.
Add flour and cook 1 minute more.
Whisk in wine and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, reducing liquid. Whisk in broth and bring liquid to a slow boil.
Return chicken to pan; simmer over medium heat 7 to 8 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center.
Serve over pasta, if desired.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fusilli with Sausage, Artichokes and Sun Dried Tomatoes

I was looking for a recipe a few months ago so I could use a package of turkey sausage that I had bought. My search took me here, and I can tell you that my family all loved it. Not only is it good, it is easy, and during the week when time is short, that is what I mostly look for. The melding of all the flavors is amazing, and if you have some left over, it is even better after it has sat overnight!

Last night I went to my NIA exercise class. For those of you who have never heard of it, here is the link It is a combination of various movements, easy on the joints, but quite a workout...and fun! Now if I could only look as graceful as our instructor, I would be happy! But we laugh and enjoy and find peace through movement. It is the one thing I really look forward to doing for myself each week. Anyway, last night, the husband made leftovers for dinner. After having a weekend full of kids and grandkids (who all left yesterday), we had to clean out the fridge from all the littles of this and that. Since I came home later, it worked out great and now the fridge is ready for more!

So tonight it is this fusilli recipe and a nice glass of wine. Hope you enjoy your Tuesday!
Fusilli with Sausage, Artichokes, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

3/4 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons of oil reserved 1 pound Italian hot sausages ( I used turkey hot sausage) cut into chunks
2 (8-ounce) packages frozen artichoke hearts (use from the jar and you don’t need this much,
eyeball what you like)
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1- 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
16 ounces fusilli pasta
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, plus additional for garnish
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
8 ounces water-packed fresh mozzarella, drained and cubed, optional( I sprinkled low-fat shredded over the top when I served and omitted the cubes)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil reserved from the tomatoes in a heavy large frying pan over medium-high heat.
Add the sausages and cook until brown , about 8 minutes.
Transfer the sausage to a bowl.
Add the artichokes and garlic to the same skillet, and saute over medium heat until the garlic is tender, about 2 minutes.
Add the broth, wine, and sun-dried tomatoes. Boil over medium-high heat until the sauce reduces slightly, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Cook the fusilli in boiling water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often, about 8 minutes.
Drain the pasta (do not rinse).
Add the pasta, sausage, 1/2 cup Parmesan, basil, and parsley to the artichoke mixture.
Toss until the sauce is almost absorbed by the pasta.
Stir in the mozzarella. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve, passing the additional Parmesan cheese alongside.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Chocolate and Marmalade Tea...Check this blog for a cute Valentine's Giveaway. Not only is this a precious site, but the kitty photos are so cute!

Low-Fat Alfredo Sauce

If you like Alfredo sauce but not all the calories that come with it, try this low-fat version. It is very tasty and makes for a quick weeknight meal. This recipe serves 2, but is easily doubled or tripled for a family meal. Pair it with a nice tossed salad and you have a healthy meal that took very little time to prepare.

Low Fat Alfredo Sauce
1 ½ ounce Butter Buds or Molly McButter
½ cup evaporated skim milk
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp. White pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg

Mix ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat through, stirring constantly.
Add cooked pasta to pan and toss to coat.

Now that we have food out of the way, I want to thank Jen from Tatertots and Jello for giving me a triple award ! I have enjoyed reading her journal entries and she is so upbeat with her entries. She enjoys the beauty around her and her amazing family.
Thanks for sharing with us, Jen, and I am glad to have you as an on-line friend. Now you can pass this on to some of your favorites.

Here are the rules for the recipients:1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.

Here are some of my favoites:

1. The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch , Shelby
2. Sunday Baker , Tanya
3. Christmas Corgi, Cathy
4. ::Measuring my life in l-o-v-e:: , Kathleen
5. A Soft Place to Land , Kimba
6. Big Red Kitchen, Robin Sue
7. Sweetie's World , Sweetie
8. Lynne's Gifts from the Heart , Lynne
9. Bunny's Warm Oven, Bunny
10. Confessions of a Plate Addict , Debbie

So have fun with this and have a happy Monday. Many are off in honor of Martin Luther King. How poignant that the inauguration is 3 days away and we honor MLK today. God bless our country and our new President.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Caramel Apple Pie

If you are looking for a nice dessert this weekend, this is a great choice. You can use that jar of caramel sauce that has been sitting in your pantry! It gives your home a wonderful aroma while baking and is so delicious.

Apple Caramel Pie
1 single-crust pie dough
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 dash nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 cups apples, peeled and sliced thinly
1/3 cup caramel ice cream topping
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup butter
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Line a pie dish with a single crust pie dough. Set aside.
For the pie base:
In a large bowl, stir together the brown sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add the apples and toss until coated.
For the pie topping: Stir together the brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour and oats.
With a fork, your fingers, or a pastry blender, add in the butter until it is in coarse crumbs.
Evenly place the apples into the pie shell.
Sprinkle the crumb topping over the apples.
Drape a piece of aluminum foil over the pie (to prevent burning). Place in the oven for 25 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake for 30 minutes, until top is golden brown.
Remove from oven and drizzle with caramel sauce. Cool on a wire rack.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bean and Cheese Enchiladas

Ok, so it is going to be cold and snowy this weekend. Warm your belly with some Mexican food!
This is a very versatile recipe. You can make it as spicy hot or mild as you like. You can add chicken if you want. If you want to use chicken, make it easy on yourself and buy an already cooked roaster. Shred that up and add to the mixture. This is nice with some refried beans, spicy rice and pico de gallo on the side. It is also another good Super Bowl recipe for a crowd. We have used this at Mexican themed parties. To make this go further if you are serving other food, cut the enchiladas in thirds and serve in smaller portions.

15 oz can red kidney beans, drained, rinsed
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp each cumin and salt
2 1/2 cups shredded pepper Jack cheese
10 oz can hot enchilada sauce
10 oz can mild enchilada sauce (I have also used 2 jars of mild and hot picante sauce instead of enchilada sauce)
8 flour tortillas
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix beans, chili powder, cumin and salt in bowl.
Slightly mash beans, stir to combine.
Add 1 1/2 cups cheese.
Mix 2 cans enchilada sauce in bowl. Stir 1 cup into bean mixture.
Spread 1/4 cup sauce mixture in baking dish. Brush one side of tortilla with sauce. Spoon 1/4 cup bean mixture in center on sauced side, roll up, place seam side down in dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and bean mixture.
Pour remaining enchilada sauce over top to cover.
Top with remaining cheese. Bake 15 min. Garnish with chopped cilantro.


How honored I am to have been given the above award from my blog friend, Shelby at The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch . I am a fairly new blogger and to be given an award while I still feel like such a novice is exciting! Even more special is that Shelby and I will have a chance to meet in person soon when her cousin comes to our city to appear in a play for our Broadway Theatre League. Thank you, Shelby, and all of the wonderful online friends I have made so far.
Have a great weekend...stay warm if you are in the frigid cold like we are!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cool photo editing

I just found the cutest site thanks to Lynne at

Now you can "hang" your favorite photo on the wall of a museum.

This is my Cassie!

Chicken Riggies - A Utica Favorite

This is a regional popular dish from my hometown. There is even a "Riggie Fest" here in the spring where restaurants compete for who has the best tasting riggie recipe! It is a benefit for the YWCA and very well attended. Several months ago, Rachael Ray even prepared and dished this up on one of her shows after her husband had played a gig here with his band and had tasted it at one of the restaurants.

So here is my favorite recipe. Some use heavy cream but I find that to be too laden with calories. You can make the sauce a couple days ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to use.

Or you can freeze it for later. Either way, this is a great crowd pleaser, and another great Super Bowl party recipe.
Chicken Riggies
This recipe serves 4-6

2 lbs. Boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1 ½ sticks of butter
6-8 hot cherry peppers, seeded (in jar with juice)
2 sweet green or red peppers
½ cup white wine
1 cup romano cheese
4-5 tablespoons marinara sauce
1 large or 2 small cooking onions, chopped or thinly sliced
1 can chicken broth
Spices to taste (Basil, parsley, garlic powder or salt)
2 lbs rigatoni

Cube chicken into bite sized pieces. Toss with flour to coat. In a large skillet or pan, sauté butter until melted and add onions; brown until golden. Remove onions with slotted spoon and place onions in a dish, leaving butter in pan. Add floured chicken to the pan and cook until golden. Add back the onions. Add 1 can of chicken broth and the marinara sauce (the sauce should be pinkish in color, not red), the hot cherry peppers (as many as you like), and sweet red or green peppers. (Using both gives it a prettier look.)
Also, add some of the hot cherry pepper juice to really spice it up. Mix well. Add the wine and 1 cup of romano cheese. Mix well. Let simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Add spices as you wish. Boil the rigatoni and toss with the sauce. Add extra cheese over the top.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pork Wellington

This is a recipe that I acquired from a friend several years ago. She found it in a magazine. While it takes time to prepare, the results are fantastic. It is a lovely company recipe and so delicious.
The photo is a representation of what it might look like. When I make mine, I follow the instructions below and decorate with some of the pastry as described. I usually serve with garlic mashed potatoes and crisp tender green beans.

Pork Wellington
Prepare and Stuff:

2 pork tenderloins (6-8 oz each)
4 oz. Boursin cheese

For this step, butterfly the tenderloins (do not cut all the way through) and spread the Boursin cheese in the middle.

Roll tenderloins in:
6 oz prosciutto
For this step, lay half the prosciutto slices in a single layer, overlapping them slightly. Place stuffed tenderloin at the base of the prosciutto and roll to cover. Make sure that the cut side of the pork is up after rolling. Repeat with second tenderloin.
Sear in 1 Tbsp. Olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until proscuitto is brown and crisp on all sides (5-8 minutes). Chill thoroughly.

Take 1 sheet of frozen puffed pastry, thawed, and trim off 1/3 of the sheet. Roll the larger half to a 16 x 12 rectangle. Wrap pork and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with second tenderloin.

Brush Wellingtons with 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. water . Take remaining trimmed pieces and cut out small leaves and roll some into long vines. Decorate the top of each Wellington. Chill.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in lower third. Brush with more egg wash for good browning. Bake tenderloins for 30-35 minutes or until pastry is golden. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing. To serve, trim off ends as they will be doughy. Slice into 2” thick pieces. Serve with Apple sage sauce.

Apple-sage sauce

Saute in 1 Tbsp unsalted butter until vegetables are soft:
½ cup yellow onion, chopped
¼ cup carrot, chopped
¼ cup celery, chopped
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 bay leaves
Deglaze, scraping bits from bottom of pan with:
¼ cup apple juice or cider
¼ cup dry white wine
Simmer until reduced, about 5 minutes
Add and simmer 8-10 minutes
3 cups low-sodium beef broth
Strain and return broth to a clean pan. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Combine 2 Tbsp cold water and 2 tsp. Cornstarch in a small bowl. Smash out lumps. Whisk cornstarch into the boiling broth, stirring constantly until slightly thickened.
Finish sauce with 1 Tbsp apple jelly, 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, 2 tsp. Minced fresh sage and salt and pepper to taste.

You are ready to serve…Bon Apetit!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pepperoni Pizza Spread

Are you getting ready for a Super Bowl party? This will sure to please the guys. It tastes like homemade pizza without the mess of stretching out the dough! And the aroma of it in the oven is wonderful. You can add as many of the "topping" ingredients as you want. I tried some carmelized onions in it one time...very good. To make it a bit healthier, try using Hormel turkey pepperoni. You cannot tell the difference from the real thing.
Serve with breadsticks or crusty bread.

Pepperoni Pizza Spread
2 cups (8 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups (8 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
1-cup mayonnaise
1 cup chopped pepperoni
1 small jar sliced mushrooms, drained
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped green pepper
1 can (6 oz) ripe black olives, drained and chopped (optional)
Crackers or breadsticks

In a large bowl, combine mozzarella, cheddar, mayonnaise, pepperoni, mushrooms, onion, green pepper and olives. Transfer to an 11x7-baking dish. (I cut all ingredients in ½ and make it in a deep-dish pie plate for a smaller crowd.) Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until edges are bubbly and lightly browned. Serve warm with crackers or breadsticks.
IMPORTANT: Do not substitute reduced fat or fat free mayonnaise for regular mayonnaise in this recipe.

Pet Cam Giveaway

Ever wonder what your pet does all day? Go visit All American Mommy's blog for this great giveaway!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tuscan Torte - Easy Hors D'oeuvres

It seems as if I always have a brick or 2 of cream cheese in the fridge. It is versatile for so many recipes. One of my favorites is one that is easy and very good. You can decorate it up a little for the season or leave it plain. In our house, we call it Tuscan Torte. I usually serve it with table water crackers to preserve the integrity of the wonderful flavors. Try this out on your will be glad you did!

Tuscan Torte

1 8-oz brick cream cheese, softened
Pesto (I use Buitoni which is the best tasting or make my own if I have basil in the garden)
Sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil, cut into strips or processed in a mini chopper
Crumbled Feta cheese

Line a small crock with saran so that it hangs over. Take one half of the cream cheese and pat into the bottom of the crock. Spread a thin layer of pesto over the cream cheese. Layer the sun dried tomato over thecream cheese. Sprinkle with feta cheese. Pat the remaining half of the cream cheese on top. Cover with the saran wrap and put o bowl on top of the torte so meld the flavors. Best if made the day before. Unwrap the torte and place a plate over the crock. Unmold and remove saran wrap. Garnish with fresh basil or strips of roasted red pepper. Serve withTable Water crackers

If I make this at Christmas time, I take roasted red peppers and cut into petals to make a poinsettia. You can us a couple of capers for the inside of the flower. In the summer, I just garnish with fresh basil.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Weekend Picnic

What can be more fun than a picnic? In Central NY, we are covered in the white stuff and it will be awhile before we can begin thinking of picnics! But why not one indoors? Get out the George Foreman Grill and make some burgers or hot dogs...toast a few buns...make your favorite potato salad and you can even find some good frozen corn on the cob to add to the mix. Spread out a blanket on the floor, turn on the game and you are good to go.

This weekend we will be picnic-ing at home. Here is our family's favorite potato salad recipe. I found it in a Penzey's Spice catalog a few years back and it is the most requested by the kids.

Peppery Potato Salad
4 lbs. Russet potatoes
1 medium yellow onion, diced fine, or 1 bunch green onions (cut off both ends, discard, and thinly slice the center portion for best flavor)
5 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and diced

2 TB. BUTTERMILK RANCH DRESSING or 1 package Ranch dressing
2 TB. water
1 1/2 - 2 Cups low-fat mayonnaise (I use the Canola mayo)
1/2-- 3/4 Cup buttermilk or milk
2 TB. red wine vinegar
3/4 tsp. freshly ground SPECIAL EXTRA BOLD BLACK PEPPER
1 tsp. ALEPPO PEPPER, to top each dish ( I just sprinkle with some paprika)

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Contest ending tonight

Stop by Sunshine and Lemonade and see the newa things you can win!

Giveaway for the Calorie Conscious

Cool giveaway contest for those who are trying to keep their weight loss resolutions! Check this out!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Brrr...Snow means comfort food...and a challenge

First of all, I would like to thank Tanya for giving us some incentive on her blog to start the year off right and clean out the pantry. She has given us some great ideas and a challenge. You can check the out by clicking on the link. Pantry Challenge 2009...Are You In?

Today it is cold...snowing so hard that I can barely see the buildings across the way and I know this is the right day to make a comforting pot of chili. Several years ago, and by that I mean about 30, my former SIL and I came up with a chili recipe that was a camping staple for our family. I still use that recipe today and it always receives rave reviews. We have hosted a couple of Mexican themed parties and huge amounts of this are always devoured. It is good for a Super Bowl party, a hearty lunch or supper and served with a nice green salad. Fancy it up with some bowls of toppings so everyone can personalize his or her own to taste. Chopped red and green peppers, chopped red onions, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheddar and nacho chips are a few ideas that I have used.

Stay warm...bundle up if you are in the snow belt like me!!

Chili "Con Collins"

4 lbs lean ground beef
2 medium onions, chopped
1-2 large garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2-3 small cans tomato paste
3-4 (8-oz) cans tomato sauce
7-9 Tbsp. chili powder
3-6 tsp. crushed red pepper
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 ½ tsp cumin powder
4 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 shots of bourbon or straight whiskey or 1 ½ Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp paprika
1 ½ tsp. white pepper
1 can or bottle of beer
4 cans red kidney beans
salt to taste

Simmer ground beef, onions and garlic until meat is gray in color. Add other ingredients using tomato products first. Add kidney beans Make a cheesecloth bag or use a stainless tea ball of spices (1 Tbsp pickling spice, 3 whole cloves, 4 tsp. red pepper and 2 bay leaves, broken). Add to the chili and remove before serving. Cook over low heat 2-3 hours. Serve.

You can add the chili and pepper spices to your taste depending on the hotness you prefer.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Neat giveaway!

Fundamentals of Photography Book Review and GIVEAWAY!!

For all of you foodie photographers, you may want to check out the great giveaway that Zesty Cook has on his site!

Pay it Forward!

It is finally time for me to get in on this act! Several years ago when my father-in-law passed away we were fortunate to have two friends step in and help us set up a wonderful luncheon at our home for after the funeral. They not only set it up, they had candles burning, served and cleaned up. I didn't have to do a thing.

A few years later, I was able to pay it forward and do the same thing for a good friend when her MIL passed away. Another friend and I set up and cleaned up a buffet for her family after calling hours. She was amazed and told me she could never repay what I did. I told her to pay it forward someday, just as I had done.

When something like this happens your are eternally grateful.

I have always believed in the philosophy of paying it forward so now I can do it in a fun positive way. The first three comments will receive a gift from me.

Have a wonderful day and don't forget to get in on the fun!

Girls Over for Lunch

This weekend I am having 4 of my girlfriends over for lunch so we can ooh and ahh over the holiday photos of our grandkids! Naturally we are all watching our food intake to take off the holiday "extra". I can't remember where I got this recipe, but I have tried it once and it was definitely a keeper. I plated each roll individually with some arugula and champagne vinagarette and basil chiffonade. Added a few mandarin oranges on the side. Since I had the nutrition info, I added that for you as well. I can't wait to just sit and chat with my friends!
Chicken and Pesto Rolls
(makes 8 servings)
8 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts halves , about 5 ounces (150 g) each
salt (optional)
freshly ground pepper
6 cups, (1,440 ml) 98% fat free, no-salt-added canned chicken broth
basil for garnish
2/3 cup (156 ml) tightly packed basil leaves
3 scallions, white part and 1 inch (2.5 cm) green, chopped
1 clove garlic, cut into quarters
1 teaspoon (5 ml) dry-roasted sunflower seeds
salt (optional)
freshly grated pepper
3 to 4 teaspoons (15 to 20 ml) 98% fat free, no-salt-added canned chicken broth
1 tablespoon (15 g) grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons (45g) dried unseasoned bread crumbs

1. One at a time place the chicken halves between two pieces of waxed paper. Pound to 1/4-inch thickness.
2. Cut pieces of cheese cloth into eight 8-inch (20 cm) squares.
3. Prepare the pesto: Place the basil leaves, scallion, garlic, sunflower seeds, salt (if using), and pepper in a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse on and off until minced. Slowly add enough broth to make a smooth thin mixture. Stir in cheese and bread crumbs.
4. Season the chicken breasts with salt (if using) Divide the pesto among the breasts leaving a border around each edge of each breast. Starting with the short end, roll up each breast enclosing the pesto completely. Place in cheese cloth and tie each end with kitchen twine tightly.
5. Place the chicken broth in a skillet. Bring to a boil, Reduce the heat and add the chicken rolls. Simmer about 20 minutes in a single layer until firm to the touch. Remove from the stock and remove and discard the cheese cloth.
6. Arrange on a platter and slice on the diagonal to serve. Garnish with extra basil.
Per serving:
182 calories (12% calories from fat), 35 g protein, 2 g total fat (0.7 g saturated fat), 2 g carbohydrates, trace dietary fiber, 83 mg cholesterol, 160 mg sodium
Diabetic exchanges:
4 very lean protein

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Luncheon Favorites

Now that the hubbub of the holidays has died down it is time to pull out a few tried and true recipes that I can use when we have friends stop in over the weekend or maybe use for a luncheon. This is a really nice one that can be cut into any shape or size. I have used it for Super Bowl parties or as small luncheon sized sandwiches and I have cut this into small triangles for appetizers. It is truly quite versatile. The other nice thing about this is that you can add whatever you like to it or in place of other ingredients. I have added some greens...sprinkled some dried oregano and basil in there. Let your imagination run.

Over the next few days, I will be posting some recipes that you can use for a variety of occasions. I hope you enjoy them!

Have a wonderful day!

Antipasto Squares
2 Packages of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
¼ lb. Genoa Salami
¼ lb. Swiss Cheese
¼ lb. Ham
¼ lb. Provolone Cheese
¼ lb. Sandwich Pepperoni
1 Jar (12 oz.) Sweet Roasted Peppers, chopped
A few sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil and patted dry), chopped
1 Eggs, whisked
Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray. Spread out one package of crescent rolls and stretch to fit pan. Layer salami, swiss cheese, ham, provolone and pepperoni. Top with drained and chopped roasted peppers and chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Whisk 1 egg and brush lightly onto peppers and tomatoes. Top with second package of rolls. Paint remaining eggs over dough. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake @ 350 for 25 -30 min. or until golden brown.

Monday, January 5, 2009

It's Time to Organize

Every year I make an effort to tackle the tasks that I have been putting off for the past couple of months at the end of the past year. Most of that involves organizing the little spots that have seen the most drawers, the pantry, the closet. I am always on the lookout for some new ideas that I can implement without having to spend a lot of money.

Take a look at today's post on Robin Sue's Big Red Kitchen

There are some neat ideas for not just organizing, but packing lunches to make them appetizing and healthy and good. It is just another idea for starting the year off on the right foot.
And speaking of healthy, we are back to waist watching after ingesting dozens of Christmas cookies. Tonight I am going to make the spinach salad we had at my daughter's home. We will pair this with some pollock filets that I found today at our local market for $2.99 a pound. I use a recipe that came off and very good. Give them a try!


2 lb. pollock or other fish fillets
1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. seasoned salt1 tsp. paprika
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. sliced almonds
2 tbsp. lemon juice5 drops hot pepper sauce
1 tbsp. chopped parsley

Cut fish into 6 portions. Combine flour, salt, and paprika. Roll fish in mixture and place in single layer, skin side down, in well greased baking pan. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of melted butter over the fish. Broil 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily.
Meanwhile, saute almonds in remaining butter until golden brown. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice, hot pepper sauce and parsley. Pour over fish and serve at once. Serves 6.
Spinach Salad with Clementines
6 cups baby spinach leaves
12 clementines, sectioned
1/2 cup walnut or pecan pieces
1 bunch green onions, sliced crosswise (optional)
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts (optional)
For the dressing:3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of two limes or lemons (about 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (optional)
Place the salad ingredients in a bowl. Stir the dressing ingredients together and toss with the salad. For a nice touch add in some pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Happy New Year! I am back from a two week hiatus! We spent time with out family and had the best time! Santa was good to everyone, except for our waistlines...too many candy canes...and he wants us all looking like him!

Seriously, we did have exceptional food and ate at a few good restaurants in Savannah. We even managed to sneak in the much needed exercise routines! In Savannah we played a lot with the Wii so that was really cool. I love the balance board thing and I WANT ONE! It is really good exercise.

Well, I did the one thing that I thought I would never okra. My sister-in-law's daughter invited us to her home for New Year's Day dinner. Well, being in the south, we had the whole southern food thing...collards, corn bread, black-eyed peas and yep...the dreaded okra. But, being the sport that I am, I tried it. And... it was good! And I am still alive! Actually, I have to get the recipe. She used Rotele tomatoes with chiles and her own homemade pico de gallo.
She may have even made it up! But it made me like okra!

We also had lentils which is the Italian tradition for the New Year. She did that as a favor to us and and my brother-in-law. I gave her the recipe and it came out quite well.

So now we are in getting back to healthier eating. One of the things I made for my dinner night in Atlanta was a fennel salad. I love to make this in the winter. It is so fresh tasting and is something different to serve in place of the usual tossed green salad especially when tomatoes are tasting like cardboard these days. Toss this up and serve it over a stack of arugula. Fennel and Apple Salad with Blue Cheese and Pecans

1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or try orange juice which is what I did this time)
1 ½ teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large fennel bulb – halved lengthwise, cored and sliced crosswise paper thin
1 tablespoon finely chopped fennel fronds
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 cup crumbled blue cheese (about 4 ounces)
¾ cup pecan halves, toasted

In a large bowl whisk the lemon juice, vinegar and mustard. Gradually whisk in the oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the fennel, fennel fronds and apple and season with salt and pepper; toss. Garnish with the blue cheese and pecans and serve right away.

Makes 6 servings.

Well, my friends, it is good to be back. I wish you all a very Happy New Year that is filled with peace, joy and healthy eats!