Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Love to Cook, But Would Rather Be Outside!

I am a big fan of getting lots of color in our meals. There is nothing fun about eating a dinner that is drab looking. I love to mix the vibrant colors of foods for a beautiful presentation that will also be packed with vitamins. This recipe came out of Better Homes and Gardens issue and does present very nicely. It is low in fat, provides good fiber and is high in iron and lycopene. The next time I make this, I am going to try substituting the brown sugar with pourable brown sugar Splenda to reduce the sugar. One thing for sure, it is a nice, easy weeknight dinner. When the weather gets nice, we want to be outside gardening, walking or biking...doing something fun. This will get you out of the kitchen quickly and with a happy tummy!
1 pint grape tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes, but I find the grape tomatoes are sweeter)
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
3/4 cup quick cooking polenta mix
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup buttermilk
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 9-oz. pkg fresh spinach
Canola Oil
Pierce tomatoes with a knife. Place in microwave safe bowl; sprinkle with brown sugar. Cover loosely. Microwave on high for 3 minutes or until skins burst and tomatoes are soft, stirring once. Set aside. This can be made a day ahead of time and heated through just before serving. In saucepan bring 2 1/2 cups water and 1 tsp salt to boiling; stir in polenta. Reduce heat; cook five minutes, stirring often. In shallow dish combine flour with 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper; add buttermilk to another dish. Dip chicken in the buttermilk and then the seasoned flour. Heat 3 Tbsp Canola oil in large skillet over medium-high heat; add chicken. Cook 4 minutes per side or until no pink remains; remove. Drain pan drippings. Add spinach; cook until just wilted. Season to taste. Serve chicken with spinach, polenta and tomato jam.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Easy and Different Appetizers

These are such easy appetizers and will disappear quickly when you set them out. When I made these, I did not use a whole slice of ham for the cups as they were too large, so I cut the slices in half and fit them into the cups. It is a nice alternative to using a pastry cup and they look nice on a serving tray. What I really like most is that you can assemble these the day before in the muffin tin, cover and refrigerate. Bring them out and bake for 15 minutes...serve warm. These are great on a brunch buffet table also.
Mini Florentine Cups
300 g spinach, frozen, chopped, cooked and well drained
1/2 cup cheese, Monterey jack, shredded
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 tbsp cheese, grated Parmesan
1 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, finely minced
24 slices (thin) deli ham

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix together all ingredients, except the deli ham, until well blended.
3. Form a "cup" shape with 1 slice of ham and fit it into miniature muffin pan cup.
Fill with about 1- 1/2 tsp of the spinach mixture. Repeat for other 23 muffin cups.
4. Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through - serve warm.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Black and White Cream Pie...Lo-Fat Version

Yesterday I made a recipe I found in the September issue of Woman's World (while I was sitting in the salon). Since we always use skim milk, the 1% milk was the only ingredient I had to buy. Everything else was on hand...what luck! The bottom line is that the husband was happy, happy! He had 2 pieces for dessert! It is a nice cool dessert and so low in fat, so it doesn't make you feel like you have had something too decadant. This is a keeper recipe for us and I'll definitely make it again!
Black and White Cream Pie
1 -3/4 cups 1% low fat milk
1/3 cup lite hot fudge topping
1 pgk instant sugar free fat free chocolate pudding mix
1 pkg reduced fat grahm cracker pie crust
1 pkg instant sugar free fat free vanilla pudding mix
4- 1/2 cups (12 oz. container) thawed frozen lite whipped topping (Cool Whip)
Chocolate jimmies, optional

In bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup milk and hot fudge topping until blended; whisk in chocolate pudding mix until smooth. Spread evenly in crust. In another bowl, whisk together vanilla pudding mix and remaining 1 cups milk until smooth; let stand until slightly thickened, 5 minutes. Whisk in 1-1/2 cup Cool Whip until blended; spread over chocolate layer. Top with remaining 3 cups whipped topping. Chill at least 4 hours or overnight. If desired, sprinkle with chocolate jimmies.
Makes 12 servings.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Marinade for Lesser Cuts of Beef

These days it seems like we are buying less expensive cuts of beef, but are finding ways to make them tasty and tender. I found this on allrecipes.com some time ago and never used it. I am marinating a London Broil for Sunday dinner and using this recipe. I think it will make the meat taste great because there are so many flavors going on. Marinating the meat for about a day and a half is going to make the meat so tender. I think I may add a 1/4 cup of dry red wine to this as well. I find that the wine really adds flavor and tenderness. On the side, I will make a nice big salad and make some sugar snap peas and roasted sweet potatoes.
Savory Garlic Marinade
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
1 pinch cayenne pepper
In a medium bowl, mix the vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, honey, olive oil, ground black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, salt, liquid smoke, and cayenne pepper. Place steaks in a shallow glass dish with the marinade, and turn to coat. For optimum flavor, rub the liquid into the meat. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. Broil it on high on about the 2nd rack from the top. It will take about 7 minutes each side and cook the meat until it has an internal temp of 135 degrees. After sitting the meat temp will be about 140.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Magical Peanut Butter Cookies

Are you looking for some low sugar alternatives because you are watching your weight? Me too! I hate to diet because I always feel so cheated when everyone else is enjoying that great dessert or munching on cookies. But I found this recipe that makes me feel like I am having something decadent. These are quite good and even have a nice, rich taste. So, you can have one or two without feeling too guilty. I made these on a well-used Pampered Chef stone, and have not tried it using a regular cookie sheet. I had a very good result. They are good for people who are on low-sugar diets. I tried using the natural peanut butter and didn't like them as much as with regular Jif or Peter Pan. Those products have the fats in them that help hold these together. (OK so what you give up in sugar, you make up for in a little fat!!) Use a small scoop and these will be just the right size for a pop-in-your-mouth treat.
Magical Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy (I used crunchy....it was a nicer texture)
1 cup Splenda 1 egg 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray a large baking sheet with PAM.
In a mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, 1 cup Splenda, the egg, and vanilla; stir well with a spoon.
Roll the dough into balls the size of walnuts.
Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet.
With a fork dipped in Splenda to prevent sticking, press a crisscross design on each cookie.
Bake for 12 minutes and remove from the oven.

Sprinkle with some Splenda if desired. Cool slightly before removing from pan. Yield: 18 cookies

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gooey and Good!

If you are going to have a bunch of kids over, let them help you make a fun dessert. Kids love brownies and they love sundaes. This is a fun dessert without the ice cream. And again, it helps get kids to eat some fruit because they have prepared this dessert themselves. Make sure to serve this nice and cold and you will surely think there is ice cream in the mix of ingredients. I have brought this to a backyard picnic before. We kept it refrigerated until just before serving and when we brought it out, it was gone very quickly.

Here are a few other ideas for this dessert:

  • Add toffee chips instead of walnuts

  • Add some mini chocolate chips or peanut butter chips

  • Add butterscotch chips and drizzle with butterscotch ice cream topping Use blonde brownies

  • Adults only versions: Sprinkle brownies with Kahlua before layering.

  • Sprinkle brownies with Chamborde and use raspberries for the fruit

  • Sprinkle brownies with Grand Marnier and use mandarin oranges for the fruit

Brownie Sundae

Prepare brownies. When cool, cut into 1-inch squares.

In a large bowl, start to layer:

Brownies first.

Next a layer of fruit such as strawberries, bananas, or blueberries, etc

Sprinkle with chopped walnuts

Next add a layer of Cool Whip

Continue to layer with last layer as Cool Whip.

Chill until ready to serve.

Drizzle some Hershey's chocolate syrup on top of the Cool Whip and sprinkle with chopped walnuts just before serving.

You can even toss a few marachino cherries on top!

So let your imagination be your guide. This is fun and easy and oh so gooey!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cool as Cantaloupes and Cucumbers and a Giveaway

I can't believe that Cantaloupes are 99 cents each this week at my favorite grocery store for produce, Hannaford. I picked up a couple to see how they were and had some for breakfast this morning. It was juicy and succulent and I topped it off with some fresh blueberries that were also on sale. Love it, love it, love it!
So this week, the husband and I are going to have our own little party and snack on cucumber-melon "sushi"! This is such an easy recipe and is also a fun way to get those picky kids to try something new. Let them make these with you so they can have a hand in creating their own healthy food. They are nice party starters, especially in the summer, with some good chilled white wine. These are just a nice way to have a great snack during the day and so easy to throw together. And so much healthier than melon wrapped with prociutto....although I still love that too!

So there you have it...an easy and cool appetizer for you to "start" the week!

Just as an aside, if you have cucumber left over, try throwing some slices in a pitcher of water. It is a very refreshing flavor and a change-up from the usual lemon slices!

Cucumber-Melon "Sushi"
Cut cantaloupe into 16 cubes, about 1 inch each. Use a vegetable peeler to slice 16 long strips of cucumber. Wrap strips around melon cubes and insert a toothpick. Stir together 6 ounces plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons orange-juice concentrate, and a teaspoon of chopped cilantro for a dipping sauce.

Also, check out this great giveaway for a wonderful cause. We all know someone who has been touched by heart disease and this is a fantastic offer from Cheerios.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Shortcuts with Corn Bread Mix

I don't know about you, but I seem to always have Jiffy corn muffin mix in my pantry. To me it is more than just plain corn muffins or corn bread (which I would love anyway); it is very versatile. I have added jalapenos, pimentos, chili spice...you name it! I have posted corn bread casserole before and that uses Jiffy corn muffin mix. But there are so many things you can do with this inexpensive and delicious little box of muffin and bread mix.
You can make croutons! In a bowl, add the Jiffy corn muffin mix, 1/2 cup grated cheese and 1/2 cup milk.
Add some Italian Seasoning to the mix.
Spread in a 9-in. square pan that has been lined with foil and sprayed with PAM.
Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and set heat to 300 degrees.
Lift cornbread from pan using the foil. Cut into 1-inch squares.
Spread cubes on ungreased baking sheet for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.
Toss with a nice big salad of romaine, tomatoes and red onion and your choice of dressing.
You can make a pizza!
Coat a round pizza pan with PAM. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cook 1 pound of ground beef until no longer pink and add 1-1/2 cups of medium salsa.
In a medium bowl, stir 1 package Jiffy corn muffin mix with 1-1/2 cups of flour, 1 egg and 2/3 cup of milk. This will form a stiff batter.
Press mixture onto the pizza pan with hands that have been sprayed with PAM.
Spoon beef mixture on top of cornbread shell.
Top with a can of Mexicorn (drained).
Bake for 15 minutes until the crust is golden.
Sprinkle with shredded taco spiced cheese and bake 5 more minutes to melt cheese.
Remove from oven and dollop with sour cream and chopped green onions and guacamole.
You can make a pot pie!
Coat 6 ramekins with PAM; place on a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, combine 3 cups of chopped cooked chicken, 1 package of frozen mixed vegetables (thawed), 1 jar of fat free chicken gravy and 1/2 cup of fat free half and half.
In another bowl, combine the Jiffy corn muffin mix, 1/2 cup fat free half and half, 1 egg and 2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley.
Divide the chicken mixture among the 6 ramekins and top each with the corn bread batter.
Bake for 35 minutes until bubbly and the crust looks golden.
Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

So there you have it! Three quick and easy ways to make some inexpensive and healthy meals!

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Pretty and Colorful Salad

I happened to find some really beautiful beets in the store so I bought them to use in one of our favorite salads. I had this at a restaurant a few years ago and in my usual way, studied it before I tasted it so I could remember how to recreate it at home! This makes a very pretty presentation on the table and you can even used canned beets rather than go through the trouble of boiling and peeling fresh ones. Either way, this is healthy and delicious!

Baby Spinach and Beet Salad with Gorgonzola

1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces
1/2 cup Good Seasons Italian Dressing
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 medium sized fresh beets, boiled,cooled, peeled and quartered
or 1 can (15 oz) whole beets, patted dry and quartered
2 Gala Apples, cored and coarsely chopped
1 pkg baby spinach, rinsed and dried
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
Crumbled Gorgonzola

Toast the pecans in the oven until toasted fragrant; cool.
Whisk together the Good Seasons dressing, maple syrup and mustard.
Mix the apples, onions and spinach together.
Toss with some of the dressing.
Divide the spinach among 4 plates.
Top each with some of the beets and drizzle with a little more of the dressing.
Sprinkle the top with crumbled Gorgonzola and toasted pecans.

NOTE: Pecans are helpful in guarding against the the effects of LDL (bad) cholesterol. So try to add a few of these into your diet every day!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Meeting Grumpy's Wife (!!) and Easy times Ahead

I am so happy to tell you that I met Shelby from The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch.
Her cousin was in a Broadway production that came to our city and she and her family traveled down to see the play. Let me tell you that she is such a sweet and nice person...just as I expected! Shelby was one of the very first bloggers with whom I became acquainted so this was a very special and exciting meeting for me. Check out her blog for more info!

I find that now that the weather is getting nicer, I want to spend less time fussing with meals in the kitchen during the week. I try to do some more elaborate meals during the weekend when I have more time, and I love to make sure there is a healthy and balanced meal on the table during the week even though I work. But once the weather gets nice, I have to be creative to make sure meal time doesn't take away from our free time! I try to find recipes that are easy to prepare, yet are tasty and good for us. So for the next few days, I am going to post some recipes that take a few shortcuts, yet have the same qualities and taste as if you spent a lot of effort.

Tired of plain old baked potatoes? Want an easy way to perk up those potatoes?

Place some washed potatoes in your toaster oven at 400 degrees for about an hour . After you have baked your potatoes, let them cool for about 10-15 minutes. Cut the top third off each potato and discard them....or throw them onto your compost pile! Scoop the potato from the skin, leaving about 1/4 inch thick shell. Keep the shells. Mash the potatoes with about 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives, 2 Tbsp butter, salt and pepper to taste and 1 cup prepared, storebought low fat sour cream and onion dip. Spoon mixture into each shell and place on baking sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes until tops are lightly browned. Sprinkle with some chopped fresh parsley.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Resting After the Weekend and Pork Chops

Whew! After a weekend with little ones, I am so happy I have the day off from work. We had the cowboy birthday party and most everyone came dressed up with hats and bandannas...lots of denim and boots! There were stick pony races and a gold rush hunt for gold coins. What grandparents don't do for their grandkids! It turns us to mush!! What a great time we had though. And the food was great! My daughter's friend made a cake shaped like a horsehead...how cute it was. But today it is nice and quiet. Only one grandbaby in the house now. She and my other daughter are here from Atlanta...it is so fun to see them.

So now it is back to regular cooking and comfort food. We are having pork chops tonight. This is pretty easy so it should go together quicky and that allows us to get a few fun things done today including me being able to go to my exercise class!

Tomorrow I get to meet my blogging friend, Shelby from The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch. We are going to watch one of her family members perform in a traveling Broadway show, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Can't wait!

Hope you all have a good Monday!
Garlic-Thyme Pork Chops
Source: Better Homes and Gardens
Start to Finish: 30 min.

4 loin or rib pork chops (bone in) 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches thick
1 cup dry white wine, vermouth, or apple juice
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. water
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. snipped fresh thyme or basil
1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
3 medium, red onions, quartered

Preheat broiler, but do not preheat broiler rack (preheating can cause broilerrack to warp).
Place pork chops on the unheated rack of a broilerpan. Arrange onions around pork chops. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 9 minutes.
Meanwhile, for glaze, in a medium saucepan bringwine or apple juice to boiling; boil uncovered onhigh for 4 to 5 minutes or until reduced by abouthalf. Meanwhile, combine cornstarch with the 1/2 teaspoon water; stir into wine or apple juice. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in oil, garlic, 2 tablespoons of the thyme or basil, pepper, and salt. Measure out 1 tablespoon of glaze. Set aside.
Turn pork; broil 9 to 13 minutes more or until juices run clear, brushing pork and onions with glaze during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Remove onions to a small serving bowl. Remove pork chops to serving platter. Stir the reserved glaze and thyme or basil into onions. Pass with pork chops. Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional Information
Nutritional facts per servingcalories: 236, total fat: 11g, saturated fat: 3g, cholesterol: 51mg, sodium: 139mg, carbohydrate: 5g, fiber: 1g, protein: 21g

Friday, March 13, 2009

Check out this giveaway!


Tequila Bars

Next up is the dessert I selected from The Feb/Mar 2009 issue of The Food Network magazine. These are sounding really interesting...Tequila Bars. Now the side bar in the magazine states: "For extra punch, top the bars with tequila-spiked whipped cream." OMG...like having a little margarita in a cookie!
Guy Fieri really knows how to party if he is making these "bad boys" (he uses this term alot) for his friends. He used both of the recipes I posted for his Super Bowl bash. It was so great to get the invitation to receive this magazine. I caught it for $10.00 for the year. So far, it's a great buy and gives some insight into some of the super chefs out there. It not only has recipes, but cooking tips and serving presentation ideas. If you have a chance to buy an issue, try it out. Have a great weekend...
1 12-oz. box vanilla wafers
1/2 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks), melted
1/3 cup tequila
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
5 large egg yolks, plus 2 egg whites
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbsp sugar Agave nectar or honey for drizzling (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pulse the wafers and pine nuts in a food processor until well ground up. Add the butter and blend until evenly mixed. Set aside 1/4 of the crumbs; press the rest evenly into a 9 x 13-in. baking pan. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool.
2. In a medium bowl, thoroughly whisk together the tequila, lime juice, egg yolks and condensed milk.
3. In another medium bowl, beat the egg whites and sugar with an electric mixer until they hold soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the tequila mixture. Spread the filling evenly over the crust and bake for 25 minutes; cool. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs in top. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight before cutting. Drizzle with agave nectar or honey if desired.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Garlic-Onion Tortilla Cake

A few weeks ago I received my first issue of The Food Network magazine. Oh my.....I could try something new daily! But for our party this Sunday, we need something for the "big kids" too...otherwise known as adults. I found two great recipes that Guy Fieri has featured in the Feb/Mar '09 issue. One is an appetizer and the other is a dessert. Today I am posting the appetizer. For those of you who are garlic lovers, this should make you very happy. I have told you in a previous post that we grow our own garlic. Our whole family loves garlic so this recipe should go over well. Even our grandchildren like garlic pizza, otherwise known to them as white pizza. Our other appetizer is going to be a 7-layer taco dip, so this will fit in nicely with the overall theme. Wish me luck!!
Garlic-Onion Tortilla Cake

4 whole heads garlic
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup canola oil
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp sugar
5 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
12 large flour tortillas
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1. Prepare the roasted garlic. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the top 1/2 in. off the garlic heads and discard. Place the heads on a large piece of foil and drizzle with the olive oil. Wrap up foil tightly; place the package in a small baking dish. Roast until the garlic is soft and lightly browned, 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the tortilla cake: Combine the canola oil and onions in a large saute pan over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring (don't over brown). Add the butter and sugar; cook stirring to caramelize. Remove from the heat and let cool.

3. Once cooled, mix the onions with the Parmesan, mayonnaise and cilantro in a bowl. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of their skins and stir into the onion mixture. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

4. Set aside 1/3 of the onion mixture in the refrigerator for the dipping sauce. Spread 2 Tablespoons of the remaining mixture on top of a tortilla and cover with another tortilla. Repeat, spreading and stacking the tortillas; finish with a tortilla with no mixture on top. Wrap the tortilla stack in plastic wrap and let set up for 12 to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

5. After the stack has set up, cut into 16 wedges. Preheat a grill or grill pan; warm wedges over medium heat until both sides are marked. Combine the reserved onion mixture with the balsamic vinegar to make the dipping sauce.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Triple Layer Thin Mint Pie

Girl Scout cookies are being distributed so I pulled this recipe out and will give it a try this weekend. It was posted on the blog of Cookie Madness http://www.cookiemadness.net and I think it is time to give it a whirl. Thin Mints have always been my favorite...right out of the freezer! And I happen to like Edy's Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookie ice cream...way too much...the "can't have it in the house" kind of like. So now that I have a few boxes of these in the house, as well as all the other ingredients, I am going to make it for dessert Saturday evening.
With the husband away this week, I have been on a diet...lots of fruits and veggies. It's the once a year purge my system of all the impurities and lose a few pounds before summer diet! So far I have lost 5 pounds since Sunday and have a ton of energy. And here I am posting a recipe for Thin Mint Pie. Our three kids and their families will be home this weekend, so I have to make something!!! I will take a taste so I know if it is good...but my mantra is...WALK AWAY! I can't ruin what I worked had to achieve!

Now speaking of the ice cream, how about this for a nice summer treat? Pre-made Chocolate Graham Cracker crust (because by now you have eaten all the thin mints you had in the freezer). Soften the Edy's Thin Mint Ice Cream. Spread in the crust and freeze. Serve with chocolate syrup and whipped cream. Garnish with a mint leaf. Easy and cool. No baking, no mixing bowl.

Triple Layer Thin Mint Pie
1 box Thin Mint cookies (32 cookies)
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups cold milk
2 packages (4-serving size each) Jell-O Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 tub (12 oz.) Cool Whip Whipped Topping, thawed, divided use
10 cookies and set aside.
Crush or process remaining cookies, then mix them with the butter. Press firmly onto bottom and up side of 9-inch pie plate.
Pour milk into large bowl. Add both boxes of pudding mix and beat with wire whisk 2 minutes or until well blended. (Mixture will be thick.)
Spoon out 1 1/4 cup of pudding into another bowl and stir in peppermint extract. Pour peppermint pudding mixture over crust. To remaining pudding mix, add in 1 cup of whipped topping. Spread the pudding/whipped topping layer of the mint layer.
Chop remaining cookies and combine them with about 2 ½ cups (doesn’t have to be precise) whipped topping. Spread this mixture over the top. The pie might look kind of messy at this point, so clean up the edges.
Chill for 4 hours or until set
To garnish, place remaining whipped topping in a plastic zipper bag. Snip off a corner of the bag (about ½ inch up from corner) and squeeze whipped topping around sides decoratively.
To make thin zig-zags, pour COLD chocolate syrup into a small zipper bag. Snip a very, very tiny cut off the bottom corner and drizzle away!
Makes 8 servings
NOTE: Bringing home your favorite Girl Scouts® Thin Mint Cookie Ice Cream is a delicious way to give something back to your family. It's Thin Mint Cookies in Chocolate Mint Ice Cream. Best of all, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this product goes to support Girl Scouting. AVAILABLE: (Jan-Apr)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cheddar Scallion Drop Biscuits

I clipped this from Gourmet magazine a few years ago and they are very tasty biscuits. What I like about them is that there is no kneading. I have never gotten the knack of kneading for a good biscuit. The dough is either too sticky or they turn out like rocks. How I envy those who can make a nice fluffy biscuit. Unfortunately, I resort to Pillsbury or our local bakery when I want those nice fluffy, airy biscuits.
These however, I can handle! Mix 'em up, drop 'em and bake 'em. They are quite tasty, especially served with a hearty soup or stew. One other note is that I have tried these with the shredded cheddar you buy in the package and with a good cheddar that I grated myself. Do yourself a favor and work those arm muscles. There is no denying the better flavor you achieve with a good sharp cheddar. I prefer the Cabot Sharp Cheddar, but you can use your favorite.

If anyone has any tips for me in getting my dough right for biscuits that you think I can handle (LOL) or tips on what I may be doing wrong, suggestions are welcome!
Cheddar Scallion Drop Biscuits
Makes12 biscuits

Active Time:15 min Start to Finish:35 min
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 oz Cheddar, coarsely grated (1- 1/2 cups) 3 scallions, finely chopped
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450°F. Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, then blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in Cheddar and scallions. Add buttermilk and stir until just combined. Drop dough in 12 equal mounds about 2 inches apart onto a buttered large baking sheet. Bake in middle of oven until golden, 18 to 20 minutes.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Check out the great giveaway!

Ay Chihuahua...it's Taco Stuffed Shells!

Most kids at some point love to make and eat tacos. Making them for a crowd or having a taco bar where everyone can make their own can be messy or space prohibitive. When our daughter had her second baby two years ago, one of her friends sent this over for dinner and we have been making it ever since. It is easy and tasty and is something you can make ahead and pop in the freezer for a future date. They are kid friendly and you can add your own degree of spiciness. We'll be having these at the Cowboy Party I mentioned. I also said that we were having chili and cornbread casserole and these are posted these in my blog late in December and early January. I hope to get a few photos to add in here next week, of all of us in our "gear"! I love, love, love theme parties. And if I could make a job of this, I would. But the economy is not that good to support these luxuries. But how fun it would be to have a place where kids could go and pick a theme...keeping the mess and work out of the house for the parents!
Taco Stuffed Pasta shells Recipe
1 hour 30 min prep
1 lb ground beef

1 envelope taco seasoning

1 (4 ounce) package cream cheese

12 large pasta shells

1 cup salsa

1 cup taco sauce

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese

1 1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips

1 cup sour cream

3 green onions, chopped














Saturday, March 7, 2009

Cowboy Birthday Party

Our two grandsons are celebrating birthdays this month. Carter will be 6 and Aidan will be 2. This year Carter has selected a cowboy theme for the joint party. They live two hours away, so we are going to have the family party at our home next Sunday and then they will have a "kid" party the following weekend at their own home. Our other daughter is coming in from Atlanta with her 1-year old, Morgan so she can celebrate with her cousins. Our home will be brimming with activity!
The boys' mom has been busily preparing for the festivities and has selected a red and white theme. We have a checkered (picnic) tablecloth for the kitchen table and I am setting the dining room table with white cloths and red and blue bandannas.

Since it is a party that will have a lot of adults, the menu is going to be chili, taco stuffed shells, cornbread...cowboy food. For the kids, homemade mac and cheese.
We always have some adult friendly appetizers, but what about the kids? They always end up with goldfish crackers or crackers and cheese. This time it is going to be different. I am making some S'More D'oeurves, which I found on Better Recipes.com. I think these will be a hit with the kids and maybe even some of the adults, so I will have to make a good batch. And this time, the kids will have something that is more their style when it comes to starters! Happy Trails!!

S'More H'oeurves
1 Box Graham Crackers (of crush your own crackers)
1 5-oz Milk Chocolate Bar, chopped
1 Bag Large Marshmallows
Pour graham cracker crumbs into a large bowl. Using a fondue set or double boiler, melt the chocolate bar. Roll the marshmallow around in the chocolate until it is completely covered. Then roll the chocolate covered marshmallow around in the graham cracker crumbs and place on cookie sheet sprayed with non-cook spray. After making the desired amount, place cookie sheet in the refrigerator or about an hour. Serve chilled.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Last night I pulled out a recipe that I never tried because we needed something new. It was really good! The tenderloin was very, very tender and so tasty! I think if I make this again I would kick it up a little with a dried hot red pepper in the marinade and take it out before cooking. But overall, I think it was very good and made a great dinner.
1 1/2 LB. Pork Tenderloin
1/4 cup roasted garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
3 Tbsp lime juice
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste

For Roasted Garlic: 12 cloves garlic, peeled
Olive Oil
Place peeled garlic cloves in small baking dish and cover with olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until garlic is soft.

For Cashew Rice: 1 to 1/2 cups hot cooked rice
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
4 green onions, chopped and sauteed
3 cloves garlic, chopped and sauteed
1/2 cup salted cashews
To hot cooked rice, stir in grated ginger, sauteed green onions and garlic and cashews.

For Garlic Cilantro
Butter: 1 stick butter, softened

3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp roasted garlic
2 Tbsp lime juice
Mix together all ingredients until smooth.

Cut tenderloin crosswise into 2-in pieces and flatten slightly. Combine all but 2 Tbsp of the roasted garlic, olive oil, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. Marinate in mixture 4 hours or overnight.
Remove pork from marinade; pan broil in heavy skillet or grill pan with the marinade over medium-high heat 2-3 minutes per side. Serve atop cashew rice. Top each serving with a pat of the Cilantro-Garlic Butter.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I told you I had a wonderful salad last Saturday.
I think this would work well for a luncheon with the girls or on a brunch table.
It's healthy and pretty and the mixture of flavors is phenomenal.

I also think this could be pretty served in baked fluted flour tortilla shells, or maybe you want to stuff this all in a pita or make a wrap! How about filling a half of a pineapple with the salad? This could be very versatile. But one thing for sure, no matter how you serve it, it is delicious.

4-5 boneless chicken breasts without skin, cut into cubes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 pineapple, peeled and cubed
2 cups broccoli florets
4 cups baby spinach leaves, cleaned
1/4 cups red onion slices, thinly sliced

Vinaigrette Dressing
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In small bowl, mix together chicken cubes, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, place on baking tray. Place chicken in preheated oven for 20 minutes until golden brown or completely cooked. (Check by cutting one piece in half. It should not be pink.)
In large serving mixing bowl, combine the cooked chicken, pineapple chunks, broccoli, spinach and onion.

To make the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, pineapple juice, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

To make salad, pour dressing over chicken and spinach mixture and gently toss to coat evenly.
Serve immediately.

Serves 8.

Thanks goes to the Radisson Hotel, Utica, NY for sharing this recipe with the attendees of "Makeover My Heart" Day!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


This past Saturday I attended an event called "Makeover My Heart". It was a day designed for women to learn about health issues and sample some of the wonderful vendors and services available in our area. The guest speaker was Olympic Gold Medalist Shannon Miller. She spoke of her own struggles with healthy eating and weight in her life after gymnastics. There was also a motivational comedienne...the best...a cardiologist and a heart survivor. We saw Tai Chi,yoga and spinning
demonstrations. There was info on different natural mineral makeup lines, makeover opportunities, essential oils information and chair massage. What a fantastic way to spend a Saturday with my girlfriend it was! And it included a really nice lunch.

Lunch was Pineapple Chicken Salad...I am going to post this tomorrow. All I can say is Y-U-M! Dessert...well, I'm not too sure about heart healthy, but it sure was tasty and so easy. So this is my post for today. It is really delicious and so easy. And isn't that what we look for these busy days?


10 3/4 oz. Hot Fudge topping
18 0z. part skim ricotta cheese
1/3 cup heavy cream
5/8 tsp vanilla

In mixing bowl, combine cheese, cream and vanilla until combined. Whip in hot fudge.
Whip until combined.

Drizzle chocolate sauce in bottom and sides of dessert glasses. Pipe mousse in dessert glasses. Garnish with fresh raspberries and chocolate shavings.

Yield: 1 1/2 quarts

Monday, March 2, 2009

Please Pray for My Friend

Hello friends. I am taking time today to pay tribute to a young man who was tragically taken from us at the age of 21. My friend, Cathy, whom I hired 10 years ago, and her husband, Lee, lost their son, Michael, in Iraq last week.

Mike was a vibrant and energetic young man. I met him at the age of 11 when Cathy brought him to our company's "Take Your Child to Work Day". He had the best sense of humor which stayed with him as he got older. He was an Eagle Scout who loved his country. His project was to put the flags of the US and all branches of the armed forces in a park in his home town. This park can be seen from the front window of his parents' home and is in front of the Baptist Chuch where he belonged. Mike was involved in sports had the brightest smile and a warm and generous spirit.

He had made it his mission in Iraq to try to assist the children and asked for donations from the people in his town that he could give to the kids. He recently was promoted to corporal. His unit was among the most dangerous, being the first to go into an area. He, 3 other soldiers and an interpreter came upon a bunker and were tragically ambushed. All were killed. Mike continued to shoot even while injured, in an area where his body armor had not protected him. He radioed for assistance, but by the time the Medivac arrived it was too late.

Today I went to his calling hours to honor this brave young man who has been postumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. A young life taken too soon...
It was the saddest thing I have ever attended. My heart aches for my friends and their remaining daughter and son-in-law. How do you go on?

Please pray for them. Thanks for listening. This war has to stop. God Bless you, Mike.

BURLINGTON FLATS _ Army Cpl. Michael L. Mayne, 21, of Burlington Flats, died Monday Feb. 23, 2009, due to injuries sustained in Iraq during his service to our country.
Michael was born Oct. 9, 1987, in Ilion, the son of Lee and Cathy (Francisco) Mayne.
With his two friends Tony and Tom, he joined the Boy Scouts. His Eagle Scout project dedicated poles and flags for each branch of the United States Armed Forces on the Burlington Flats Veterans Memorial Park. Michael also played football, basketball and golf in high school, and participated in the ski club, Jr. Rifle and Sporter Rifle Team at the Burlington Flats Fish & Game Club.
After graduation from Edmeston, he joined the United States Army in July of 2006. Before his Iraq deployment, Michael was stationed at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, the home base of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division. The brigade deployed to Diyala Province in Iraq last fall for a yearlong tour of duty.
Michael was a first-rate friend, he was a natural- born leader. He offered to many his unique sense of humor and compassion for others. For one so young, it is hard to imagine the diverse depths of Michael: be it his commitment to Boy Scouts, his family, close friends, God, and Country. He was a hero.
Michael is survived by his parents, Lee and Cathy Mayne; his sister, Sherry and brother-in-law, John Hawes; his grandmother, Lucille, great-aunts and -uncles, Anne and Dick Weiss, and Dawn Hull; aunts and uncles, Dale and Iva Mayne, Dennis and Theresa Mayne, Cindy Prill, Elaine and Rich Volpe, Gloria and Rob Lindsay. Several cousins and spouses, Paula, Greg, Alan and Kristen, Jason and Robin, Brian, Adam and Dawne, Ryan, Marley and Gavin.
His grandparents, Herbert Mayne, Howard and Eloise Francisco, and cousin, Paul Prill, predeceased Michael.
Full honor military funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 3, at Edmeston Central School gymnasium with Pastor Jay Henderson and Lt. Col. Olsen officiating.
Calling hours will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Monday, March 2, at the Burlington Flats Baptist Church. Ceremonies by Troop 9 Boy Scout and Cub Scouts and Wharton Valley American Legion Post No. 1311 will be held at 7 p.m.
Interment will be in the Burlington Flats Cemetery in the spring.
Contributions may be made in memory of Michael Mayne to the Edmeston Central School Scholarship Fund.
Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.hjtfuneralhome.com.
Funeral arrangements are by the Houk-Johnston-Terry Funeral Home, Edmeston.
Published in The Daily Star on 2/28/2009