Monday, November 30, 2009

BACK TO REALITY FOOD!'s all about the food! We had such a lovely and delicious many laughs...great conversation...and so much to be thankful for. Hours of preparation and the meal is devoured in no time! The nice thing is seems that ALL the pots and pans and dishes in the kitchen get used and washed on Thanksgiving!! Or so it seems. that we have eaten ourselves into a food coma, it's time to come back to earth and have healthier meals before the next big holiday rolls around....with all those COOKIES!
We are back to salads and soups, lots of vegetables and fruits. Here is a recipe for a light and very delicious salad. Serve it with a panini or a nice crusty bread for a lighter meal.
I had a lot of fresh herbs from Thanksgiving, so I just mixed up what I had and added them in.
This recipe and photo are from ALL YOU magazine.

3 Tbsp. minced shallot
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
4 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 cups mixed greens such as arugula and baby lettuce
2 Belgian endives, chopped
1 cup fresh herbs such as basil, chervil, chives, mint, parsley and tarragon, all coarsely chopped.

Make dressing: In a medium bowl or jar with a scre top lid, combine the shallot, mustard, vinegar, sugar and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Mix or shake to combine. Slowly whisk in olive oil until dressing is emulsified (or add all at once and shake to combine).

Make salad: Place greens, endives, and herbs in a large bowl and drizzle with about half of the dressing. Gently toss. Taste and, if desired, add remaining dressing and season with additional salt and pepper.

So good. The dressing can be made a day in advance. This is also a good dressing to use for any type of salad.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Progresso Contest Winner

The winner of the Progresso giveaway is Jaime from Copper Llama Studio. Make sure you stop by her blog and etsy to view her lovely items!

Congratulations, Jaime!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cranberry-Pecan Pie...More Than Just Dessert!

This pecan pie recipe is a little different, using fresh chopped cranberries in the mix. I found this in Woman's World Magazine and I think I am going to make this at Christmas. I have had pecan-chocolate pie before, but sometimes that can be too sweet...possible? Yes! The cranberries will lighten this up and provide a nice tartness to the already sweet enough pecan pie. The recipe calls for garnishing with whipped cream and sugared cranberries. I think I am going to stick a few mint leaves into the whipped cream swirls to make it really Christmas-y!

Cranberry-Pecan Pie

Half of 11-oz.pkg. pie crust mix Or use 1 roll of Pillsbury All-Ready Pie Crust
4 eggs
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup light brown sugar
6 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans (6 oz.)
1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup pecan halves
Whipped cream and sugared cranberries

Place jellyroll pan on center oven rack; preheat to 350 degrees.

Coat 9-in. pie pan with PAM. Prepare pie crust according to package directions for 1 crust. On lightly floured surface, roll dough into 12-in. round; fit into pie pan. Trim and flute edge; refrigerate.

Whisk together eggs, corn syrup, butter and vanilla. Stir in chopped pecans and cranberries; pour into crust. Top with pecan halves.

Bake on jellyroll pan 1 hour or until almost set and center jiggles slightly.

Cool completely on rack. Garnish with whipped cream and sugared cranberries.
SUGARED CRANBERRIES: Mix 1 Tbsp. warm water with 1 tsp. dried egg whites, until frothy. Using fork, dip well-dried fresh cranberries, one at a time, into mixture; let excess drip off. Transfer to plate spread with sugar; roll until coated. With dry fork, transfer cranberries to another plate; let stand until dry.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


We have had a cranberry hors d'oeurve so we move on to the table and sit down for our salad course, also using cranberries. This salad is courtesy of The Neeleys on the Food Network. I have made this several times and it is a party in your mouth. There are so many flavors and textures going on in this. And of course, what doesn't go good with bacon? But, this really is a beautiful looking salad, pretty colors for the holidays and had a lot of good stuff in it! Toast your pecans, make your bacon and slice your onion and put it in a zip lok bag the day before. All you have to do the next day is toss everything in the bowl and whisk your dressing.
Spinach Salad with Cranberries, Pecans, Bacon and Blue Cheese
1/2 pound hickory smoked bacon slices, roughly chopped
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
2 (6-ounce) containers baby spinach
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup Danish blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Fry chopped bacon in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until brown and crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined 1/4-sheet tray to drain.
Toast pecans in the oven on a 1/4-sheet tray until lightly golden and fragrant, about 6 minutes.
In a medium bowl mash the blue cheese with a fork. Mix in the buttermilk, sour cream, sugar, salt and pepper, to taste.
Combine baby spinach, red onion, pecans, dried cranberries and bacon in large bowl. Toss with the dressing immediately before serving.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blue Cheese Cranberry Pear Toasts

When holiday times roll around, I find myself using fresh or dried cranberries abundantly. They are so versatile for cookies, breads, cakes and as decorations. Now if you ask my husband, he will tell you that the best way to have cranberries is in the big splat blob of jelly from the can that you just slice. He loves that! What???? I know, I know, but he can't help it! He especially loves it sliced on bread with leftover turkey and stuffing for a sandwich. Yes, another, what???? Bread on bread sandwich? Well, we all have our own tastes! He does eat my cranberry sauce made with fresh berries and oranges, but there is something about the allure of what comes in the can that he can't resist. Well, it does have its place and I have a super recipe for a cheesecake using the canned sauce. More to follow on that!

So, I will be posting a few ideas on how to use cranberries in various ways over the next couple of weeks. First up is an before dinner hors d'oeurves. This is where we start our entertaining, so that is how I chose to start this series of recipes. This is a wonderful, zesty way to whet the appetites of your guests. Be sure to use good Blue Cheese for the best flavor. These are so pretty on a platter at holiday times with the red cranberries and the green of the pear. The pear should be ripe enough to be sweet, but firm enough to hold up when you slice it. And you need a VERY sharp knife to get the thinnest slices for this dish. Or use a mandolin. Serve these with a fresh crisp white wine such as Frascati or Pino Grigio. These could also be a good after dinner offering on a dessert platter, served with an Ice Wine or Riesling. However you choose to use this, you will get rave reviews for taste and presentation!

Blue Cheese Cranberry Pear Toasts
24-1/2 inch thick slices French bread
PAM cooking spray
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 ounces blue cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup pecans (be generous)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Bosc pear, very thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray both sides of the bread slices with the cooking spray. Arrange bread slices on a large baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, about 7 minutes. In a small food processor combine the cream cheese, blue cheese, pecans, cranberries and cayenne pepper; process until just combined, but not smooth. Spread the cheese mixture onto one side of the toasts. Arrange a thin slice of pear on each toast. Bake in the oven for 5-6 minutes or until lightly browned. Yield: 24 toasts

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Progresso Giveaway!!

As the weather gets colder, we tend to turn our thoughts toward soups. I love to make soups. But sometimes, there is the time factor. Running in for a quick lunch, having to make a light and quick supper so we can do other things are the reasons why having high quality pre-made soups is important to us. I have always found that the Progresso line of products is excellent.
They provide items for all tastes and you can tell they care about the quality of their products and take great care to present them with a sense of being homemade.
The folks at Blogspark contacted me about testing one of the new high fiber soups and sent me a sample of their Chicken Tuscany. All I can say is YUM! It is good tasting, has lots of good ingredients and provides a good dose of fiber to those days when it might be tough to get it in. If you take your lunch to work, fill your thermos with this delicious hot soup to give you a filling meal to get you through the rest of the day.

There are four new, great tasting Progresso soups that have 28% of the recommended Daily Value of fiber per serving (7 grams) and have no added MSG* or artificial flavors. The new varieties include Chicken Tuscany, Creamy Tomato Basil, Hearty Vegetable and Noodles and Homestyle Minestrone.

They also sent along with a prize pack that included two branded soup mugs and two branded spoons. And they are offering another prize pack to give away to one of my readers.

So what do you have to do to get these soup-er mugs? Each of these will give you a chance:

  • Leave me a comment on how you incorporate fiber into your daily diet.
  • Become a follower of my blog, or already be a follower
  • Mention this giveaway on your blog
  • Mention this giveaway on Facebook

Contest ends Friday, November 20th at midnight! Winner will be notified by email. Good luck!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pilaf of Rice and Split Peas

After a weekend of picking at whatever is around, in addition to regular meals, and celebrating an early Thanksgiving with all the kids, it has to be back to normalcy for us. You have to love the holidays, but they are never waistline friendly!
We try to eat meatless meals during the week, whenever we can, while still making them healthy and tasty. Our employees from India are teaching us some wonderful vegetarian meals and they take relatively little time to prepare. I have prepared this ahead of time so I can just pop it into the oven when I get home from work and heat it through. This, along with some Naan and a salad is quite fortifying on its own, but you could serve it as a side dish with some kabobs for a summer cookout.

Pilaf of Rice and Split Peas
1/2 cup yellow split peas
2 cups Basmati rice (Or other long grain rice)
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and then cut crosswise into fine half rings
2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp crushed fresh garlic
5 Tbsp plain yogurt
1/8-1/4 tsp red chili powder (cayenne pepper)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter cut into small pieces
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander(cilantro)
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
2-4 fresh green chilies, very finely chopped
1/2 tsp. garam masala

Sort through the split peas for any stones and wash in several changes of water. Leave to soak in enough water to cover it by 3-inches for 1-1/2 hours.

Wash the rice in several changes of water. Leave to soak in water to cover by 2-inches for 30 minutes.

Put the split peas and it soaking liquid into a pan. Add 1/4 tsp turmeric and bring to a boil. Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, turn the heat down and simmer for about 30 minutes or until it is almost tender but the grains are still whole. Drain.

Heat the oil in non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. When hot, put in the onions. Stir and fry them until they are a rich reddish-brown color and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and spread out on a plate lined with paper towels. Put the ginger and garlic into the same oil Stir and fry until lightly browned. Now put in the remaining 1/4 tsp of turmeric and 1 Tbsp of the yogurt. Stir and fry until most of the liquid in the yogurt evaporates and the remaining particles brown lightly. Add the remaining yogurt 1 Tbsp at a time and cook in the same way, Now put in the drained split peas, 1/2 tsp of salt and the chilies powder (cayenne). Stir to mix. Saute the peas for about 1 minute.

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Bring 12 cups of water to a rolling boil. Add 1 Tbsp of salt and stir. Now put in the drained rice and bring to a boil again. Boil vigorously for 5 minutes or until the rice is about 3/4 cooked. It should retain a slim, hard, inner core. Drain the rice and empty half of it into a wide, oven proof casserole pan.

Cover the rice with the split pea mixture and cover that with the remaining rice. Spread the browned onions and bits of butter over the rice. Sprinkle the lemon juice and milk, fresh coriander, mint, green chilies and garam masala over the top. Cover tightly, first with foil and then with a lid and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Stir gently to mix before serving. Serves 6.

Friday, November 6, 2009


You have to give these a try! I have had a very busy week and now our whole family is here.

This is going to be a fun weekend. But before I get way to busy to at least post something, I thought I would give you something easy. Here is another wonderful way to get rid of the Halloween candy. These are so easy and the kids will love them. But it is hard to stop at one!

Enjoy your weekend!!


3/4 Cup Peanut Butter (Smooth)
1 Bag of Mini Snickers Bars
1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 Cups Bisquick Baking Mix
1 Tsp Vanilla
Baking chocolate bar melted or choc chips melted ( I add a little vanilla)

Preheat oven to 375. Mix the Peanut Butter with the sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Add the Bisquick and vanilla and mix until well blended.
Unwrap Snickers
Scoop approx. 1/2 Tbls of dough,flatten a bit and then wrap the dough around the snickers. Roll in your hands to smooth out. Place on cookie sheet approx. 2 in. apart.
Bake 8 - 10 minutes
Melt chocolate. Once the cookies are cool to the touch - dip the top of the cookie in the chocolate.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fun With Fennel

Over the last couple of years, I have found that fennel is something that is so easy to use and has many uses. I was afraid to try it, use looked odd...what could you do with this weird looking root? So, I left it alone. Until one day I found a recipe for a fennel and apple salad. I tried it and I was hooked. Which led me on my quest for other ways to use this fragrant and mild tasting....what...vegetable?

Well, it is found in the vegetable bin in the produce aisle, but fennel is actually an herb AND a spice! It is related to parsley and resembles dill! It is a native to the Mediterranean and introduced throughout Europe by way of Italy. All plant parts are edible: roots, stalks and leaves, with the spice coming from the dried seeds. The vitamin C found in fennel bulb is directly antimicrobial and Vitamin C is needed for the proper function of the immune system. It is a good source of fiber, a very good source of folate which is a B vitamin and a very good source of potassium, a mineral that helps lower high blood pressure. Fennel's aromatic taste is unique, reminiscent of licorice and anise. Fennel's texture is similar to that of celery, having a crunchy and ribbed texture.

The French, Italians and English use fennel as an herb to season fish. In Italy fennel is also used to season pork roasts and spicy sausages (think salami). The seeds can season breads (like rye) and cakes and it is also used in Chinese five spice powder.

So why do YOU need to know this?? Because I am going to post a few of my favorite fennel recipes over the next few weeks to show you its versatility and hope that if you haven't tried this before, you will!

To start, I am posting a hot dip that is perfect for the holidays. You can have this done in less than half an hour, start to finish. Or make it up a day ahead of time and pop it in the oven for 10-15 minutes before your guests are scheduled to arrive. If you love the hot artchoke dip, this is a new alternative! Bob Apetit!


· 4 slices bacon
· 3 medium fennel bulbs* (8 oz. each)
· 2 cloves garlic, minced
· 1 8-ounce jar mayonnaise
· 1 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream
· 1 4-ounce package crumbled blue cheese
· 20 dried whole black or pink peppercorns, crushed (an easy way to do this is to put them in a little zip lock bag and pound them with a meat mallet), finely shredded Parmesan cheese (about 2 tablespoons), fine dry bread crumbs (about 2 tablespoons, Radishes and/or Belgian endive leaves

1. Preheat oven to 400 degree F. In a skillet cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon; set aside.
2. To prepare fennel, cut off and discard upper stalks of fennel. Remove any wilted outer layers and cut a thin slice from the fennel base. Wash fennel and cut in half lengthwise; remove core. Cut crosswise into very thin slices.
3. Add fennel and garlic to drippings in skillet. Cook over medium heat about 10 minutes until fennel is just tender and begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Add mayonnaise, sour cream, blue cheese, bacon, and peppercorns to fennel; mix well. Divide mixture between two 16-ounce oven-proof crocks, souffle dishes, or other oven-proof dishes. In a small bowl combine Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs; top mixture in each crock with Parmesan mixture.
4. Bake, uncovered, 15 minutes, or until just heated through and tops are light brown. Do not overbake. Serve with radishes and/or Belgian endive leaves. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Michele from Creative Writings 101! She won the October giveaway from Blogspark for the sportsbag and goodies from and the Susan B. Komen Foundation!

Congratulations and your gift is on its way!

Getting Back to Normal and other Musings....and a Drink!

First, I would like to thank all of you who sent get well wishes to me. I am finally starting to feel like I am human again. Whatever this was, it knocked me out. My husband waited on me...the kitty hardly ever left my side in bed. I felt...well, half-baked! You know the feeling when you cut into something that you THINK looks done and then, the middle, it is soggy? Well, that was me. But the worst has passed and I am now able to prepare for our daughter's visit this week. Yes, my friends, timing IS everything!

Second, I hope you all had a great Halloween! The evening was not a nice one here...peppered with rain and quite chilly. But the kids and their parents were troopers and going from door to door. We saw about 250 kids. Or I should say, my husband had the honors! I watched from an upstairs window.

So now we start to prepare. Our middle daughter is paying a week-long visit with her husband and 22-month old, Morgan. Next weekend, the house will be singing...did I really say singing?...with the sounds of our other 2 coming in with their families. That means we will have 3 little ones, 6 and under running around. Our kitty is going for a visit to grammy and grampy's house as the commotion would be too much. And she deserves a little vacation too. My parents love her and she loves them so it is a match made in heaven! Our grandsons are a little older and they like the kitty, are very gentle with her and they play. But Morgan is a terror with her Yorkie, so why tempt fate with putting a cat in front of her?

This is the only time this season that we will all be together, as holiday plans are going to separate us at some point or another. We are going to make it our Thanksgiving celebration. The hubs and I are trying to plan a little something different for food other than a traditional turkey and I think we are doing a couple of turkey breasts. I have been looking through magazines for some new ideas for sides and have a few in mind. Everyone is going to pitch in to help, so it should be fun.

Now the plan is to start off the cooking with something warm and cozy. The basic recipe comes from Southern Living.

Bring one gallon apple cider; 2 cups orange juice; 1/2 cup lemon juice; 1 orange, sliced, 1 lemon , sliced; 1-1/2 tsp. whole cloves; and 3 cinnamon sticks to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minures. Discard solids. Garnish with an apple slice, if desired, Serve hot. Makes about 4-1/2 qts. (Now my plan is to add a little Calvados (apple brandy) to the mix. I'm sure rum would work equally as well. )

This would be a terrific after ski or sledding party beverage and you can definitely keep it non-alcoholic especially where there are younger members or non-drinkers in the group. How about after a day of going to cut down the Christmas tree? This will certainly warm your insides!

For today, I am still going to kick back a little when I feel tired. I may try to make a small supper. One positive is that I lost 8 pounds being sick. I wanted to lose 5!! Not this way of course, but it is incentive!!