I am what many would call a "Foodie" - amateurs who simply love food and/or drink for consumption, study, preparation and news.
Now the statement above should make it clear that I do not have any formal training when it comes to food preparation. I have, however, been told that I am a pretty good cook and I hope you enjoy reading this column as much as I enjoy writing it.
Follow me on twitter @Cooks_CornerLCP
I love homemade chocolate chip cookies, but I have to admit that I’m not a fan of making an entire batch, so when I saw this recipe titled “Makes just two very large chocolate chip cookies,” on my Facebook feed, I knew I had to try it. Now the intro for this recipe on thekitchen.com says a “small treat,” but there is nothing small about the outcome. In fact, on my first go around the cookie spheres where so big that I decided to divide them into three cookies instead of two nd the result was still a big cookie. Another plus in this division of thirds, was that since Anastasia is away at college, there was one cookie for Sebastian, one for Milena and one for me, sorry Tom. On the next go around, I did make just the two cookies and stuck them in the kid’s lunch for a sweet surprise. This may be my new go to recipe for that quick, late night snack attack. Now, where’s the milk?
Perfect single serving size chocolate chip cookies
2 tablespoons butter
2 firmly packed tablespoons of dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
A pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract*
1 egg yolk (discard or set aside egg white for a future use)
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 heaping tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips (use any chips you like)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (I used aluminum foil).
In a microwave safe bowl, heat butter just until it starts to melt and is softened. Blend the softened butter, sugars, salt and vanilla together with a spoon or rubber spatula. Add the egg yolk and stir again. Add the baking soda and flour and stir until combined. Then stir in the chocolate chips and form cookie dough into two balls (they’ll be about the size of a golf ball) and place on the baking sheet. The cookies will spread during baking, so make sure that they are several inches apart. Bake the cookies for about 9 minutes, or until edges are golden brown (do not over bake). Remove the baking sheet from the oven and give the baking sheet a firm, but careful, bang on the counter top. This will deflate the cookie for a perfect wrinkly appearance. Let the cookies cool a bit on the sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack or plate with a large spatula.
The cookies should look underdone when removed from the oven. For a little more texture, try adding a tablespoon of quick cooking oats to the mixture before baking.
*I've made this recipe so many times since it went to print that I ran out of the little vanilla extract that I had, so I've substituted almond extract for the vanilla and it was just as good. Either works.
*I've made this recipe so many times since it went to print that I ran out of the little vanilla extract that I had, so I've substituted almond extract for the vanilla and it was just as good. Either works.
Two of our three children have recently gotten braces, and with them all of the mouth pain and soreness that goes with it. So what did they want to eat, nothing but yogurt, puddings, ice cream or smoothies of course. Well since our blender had been destroyed by my husband’s quest for frozen libations last summer, it was time to get a new one, so why not a Ninja. It came with a blender, a food processor, a mixer and three individual smoothie cups - definitely money well spent since there hasn’t been a day that’s gone by in the last month-and-a-half that it has not been put to good use. This next recipe is for one of the many smoothies my kids are making on a daily basis.
Fruit and yogurt smoothies
½ cup fresh or frozen mixed berries
½ banana, sliced
3/4 cup milk (may substitute orange, pineapple or apple juice)
2 teaspoons of honey
½ cup vanilla yogurt (may substitute low fat)
4 to 5 spinach leaves (you won’t even know they’re there)
½ cup ice, optional (skip if using frozen fruit)
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender making sure to add the milk or juice before the yogurt for an easier blend. Cover and blend until smooth and pour into a tall glass. This recipe is for an individual serving but can easily be doubled.
One of the nice things about smoothies is that they can be tailored to whatever your tastes. Replace the milk with juice for a fruitier flavor, skip the juice for a creamier mix or combine the two for a bit of both, you can’t go wrong. Try adding a bit of flax seed or fresh kale for an added healthy boost.
My husband loves salmon more than anyone in this family, so I’m always looking for new recipes that he can try (and prepare). This one had the added bonus of having an Asian spin to it so it’s got to be good, right? This is one I’ve yet to try, but I’m banking on it.
Honey garlic grilled salmon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup orange juice
¼ cup honey
1 green onion, chopped
1½ pounds of salmon fillets
In a large self-closing plastic bag, combine the first six ingredients and mix well. Place the salmon in the bag and close. Turn the bag gently a few times to distribute the marinade. Refrigerate the salmon for 15 to 30 minutes, turning the bag occasionally.
Lightly grease a grill rack to medium heat and remove the salmon from the marinade, reserving the marinade.
Grill the salmon about 12 to 15 minutes per inch of thickness (making sure to turn the salmon about halfway through) or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Brush the salmon with the reserved marinade up until the last 5 minutes of cooking time then discard any leftover marinade. Serve with a green salad or your favorite vegetables.
For another layer of flavor add a teaspoon of fresh ginger to the marinade.
I love when people want me to try a new recipe then bring me a sample to try so I don’t have to make it right away. This is one of those recipes. It was given to me by Sharon Millway who saw it on Facebook and decided to try it. It comes from thekitchn.com and is a great alternative to the traditional red sauce lasagna.
Chicken and Mushroom Lasagna
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 pound baby bella mushrooms, trimmed and sliced (any mushrooms will do)
1 small onion, diced
2-3 large cloves garlic, minced
½ cup dry white wine
3 cups cooked and shredded chicken (equivalent of 1 rotisserie chicken)
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups warmed milk (whole milk suggested)
1 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon dry mustard powder, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon dry sherry or Marsala (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan, divided
16 lasagna noodles (about a 1 pound box)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups grated gruyere cheese (Fontina or Swiss would also work)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13½-by-9½ casserole dish or lasagna pan and bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Once the water has come to a boil cook the noodles to al dente and set aside on a lightly greased sheet pan to prevent sticking.
In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter on medium-high heat then add the mushrooms and sauté about 4 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt. Continue cooking until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes then add the wine and bring to a boil. Continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated and transfer the mushroom mixture to a separate bowl along with the shredded chicken.
To make the béchamel (white sauce), add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter to the pot and melt over medium heat. Stir in the flour to make a rue and continue cooking about a minute or two to remove the raw taste. Pour in the milk and chicken stock and cook, whisking often until the mixture has thickened about 10-12 minutes. Whisk in the salt, mustard powder, sherry and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, followed by ¼ cup of the grated Parmesan. Fold the chicken and mushroom mixture into the béchamel sauce and taste to adjust seasoning (I like to add a big handful of fresh spinach here). In a separate bowl, combine the mozzarella, gruyere and remaining ¾ cup Parmesan cheese.
Start assembling the lasagna, by arranging four noodles on the bottom of the prepared baking sheet, followed by 1 cup of the chicken and mushroom mixture and topping with 1 cup of cheese. Repeat layers, ending with the remaining cheese on top.
Bake, uncovered, until the lasagna is hot and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
The lasagna can be assembled and refrigerated up to 24 hours in advance; just add 15 minutes to the cooking time when ready to bake. It can also be frozen for up to three months; wrap the lasagna pan in foil and freeze until solid. To cook, bake the frozen lasagna, covered, for 1 hour, 15 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 30 to 45 minutes until heated through.
Winter in Wisconsin calls for comfort food and while it’s not usually healthy, it is … comforting. This next recipe is one I found through my Twitter feed. It comes from thesounthernladycooks.com and with a quick trip to the grocery store, it can be completed in a matter of minutes for a comforting, quick meal.
Cube steak with onion gravy
1½ to 2 pounds cube steak
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup flour
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ cup oil (I cut this down to ¼ cup)
1 14-ounce can beef broth
1 onion, cut into rings
1 8-ounce package mushrooms, sliced (my addition, optional)
1 package dry onion soup mix
Season the cube steak with salt and pepper and set aside. Mix together the flour and garlic powder in a shallow dish and coat the cube steak with the flour mixture. In a skillet heat the oil and cook the steaks about five minutes per side until brown and cooked through. Remove the steak from the pan, add the mushrooms and sauté a few minutes before adding the beef broth, onion and dry onion soup mix to the pan and cook until the onions are done. Return the steaks to the pan and serve with rice, noodles or potatoes.
For a thicker gravy, add a little of the leftover flour to the oil after sautéing the mushrooms.
I have to admit I can get a little carried away with some of the decadent recipes I put in my column. But in my defense, who doesn’t want to try all of those over the top recipes we come across (Valentine day’s triple layer chocolate cake) at least once? With that said, I will try to incorporate a few more healthy alternatives to Cook’s Corner starting today with a tasty Greek salad.
The ultimate Greek salad
6 tablespoons olive oil (maybe cut in half)
1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (do not substitute)
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 3)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 head Romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
3 large plum tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 English cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped (see helpful hint)
1 medium red onion, cut into thin rings and soaked for 5-10 minutes in a small bowl of ice water to cut the bite
1 small green pepper, cut into thin rings
¾ cup Kalamata olive (may substitute black olives)
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese (reduced fat if you like)
Whisk dressing ingredients together until blended and set aside.
Drain the onion from the ice water and pat dry with paper towels and combine with all the salad ingredients, except cheese, in large bowl. Give the dressing a quick whisk before adding to the salad, sprinkle with cheese and serve. Great with chicken too.
If you can’t find English cucumbers, use regular cucumbers. Just slice the cucumbers in half and drag a spoon down the center of each half to remove the seeds before chopping.
Pasta is one of my favorite foods. It’s great with sauces, cheese, vegetables or just a little garlic and olive oil; it’s also something I can get all of my kids to eat. This next recipe for baked ziti comes from the Food Network’s Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond and is very similar to lasagna without all of the fuss.
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 pound ground beef (may substitute turkey)
1 pound Italian sausage (may substitute turkey)
2 14.5-ounce cans tomato sauce or marinara sauce
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes with juice
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or your favorite herbs)
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ziti (I used mostaccioli)
1½ pounds mozzarella, grated (about 3 cups)
1 15-ounce tub whole-milk ricotta (may substitute low fat)
½ cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for sprinkling (I used a handful of fresh spinach, chopped)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a large casserole or lasagna dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
Heat the olive oil (if using ground turkey you may want to use 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil) in a pot over medium heat and add the garlic and onions and sauté about 3 to 4 minutes, until starting to soften. Add the ground beef and sausage and cook until browned. (I like to season the ground meat with salt and pepper for another layer of flavor here.) Drain off most of the fat, leaving a bit behind for moisture. Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and some salt and pepper. (I just used a jar and a half of marinara sauce, about 3 pounds or 36 ounces.) Stir, bring to a simmer and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes and remove from heat to cool.
While the meat sauce I cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add some salt and the pasta cooking until not quite al dente.
While the pasta and meat sauce are cooking, in a bowl, mix together 2 cups of the grated mozzarella, the ricotta, Parmesan, parsley (spinach), eggs and some salt and pepper. Stir together just a couple of times trying not to mix completely.
When the pasta is done, drain the pasta and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking and cool it down, then pour it into the bowl with the cheese mixture and toss to lightly combine (there should still be large lumps). Add 3 to 4 cups of the cooled meat sauce and toss to combine.
Add half of the coated pasta to the prepared dish, spoon half of the remaining sauce over the top and top with half the remaining mozzarella. Repeat with another layer of the coated pasta and the remaining sauce and mozzarella. Bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before sprinkling with chopped parsley (spinach) to serve.
This recipe is very forgiving. Try adding some sautéed mushrooms or another vegetable to it and make it your own.
Valentine’s Day is this weekend and that screams chocolate to me.. cake to be exact. It’s no secret in my house that I love chocolate cake with chocolate, chocolate (cake and frosting) being my favorite. But that may soon change thanks to Taste of Home’s Triple Layer Brownie Cake.
Triple Layer Brownie Cake
1½ cups butter
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 cups sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
16 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (see helpful hint)
3 cups heavy whipping cream
½ cup sugar, optional
2 milk chocolate candy bars, shaved (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line three 9-inch round baking pans with parchment paper, spray with non-stick spray (or grease and flour the pans) and set aside.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter and chocolate and stir until smooth. Stir in sugar and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla, flour and salt.
Pour the mixture into the pans and bake for 23-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes then remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the frosting, melt chocolate in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Gradually stir in cream and sugar if desired, until well blended. Heat to a gentle boil; boil and stir for 1 minute, remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until mixture reaches a pudding-like consistency, stirring a few times.
Once the “pudding” is ready, beat until soft peaks form and immediately spread between layers and over the top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with the shaved chocolate and refrigerate until ready to serve.
One reader suggested using milk chocolate instead of semisweet for the frosting to avoid adding sugar to the frosting.
This next recipe is one my mother-in-law Helena used to make during the holidays. She called them Dolly Madison bars, but whatever the name, call them delicious. With chocolate chips, coconut, evaporated milk and more, you can’t go wrong.
7 layer cookie bar
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted (salted or unsalted)
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped (walnuts also work, but I prefer my bars nut free)
1 cup shredded coconut (see helpful hints)
1 (12-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Melt the butter and pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Pour the graham cracker crumbs over butter and pat down to form an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, pecans and coconut in the order listed, sprinkling in an even layer. For the final layer, drizzle the can of sweetened condensed milk over the entire dish.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is nice and golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.
When adding the coconut and evaporated milk, try to keep a thinner layer around the edges to keep them from burning. I used already prepared graham cracker crumbs but found myself just short of the 1½ cups, so I added ¼ cup quick cooking oats to the crust and they turned out great.
I’m always ready to try new recipes, but I don’t always have all of the ingredients called for in the dish so I improvise as best I can. Last week Wednesday, I came upon this recipe from Taste of Home Cooking. It called for red potatoes, but russet worked just fine, a few other tweaks and it was ready to go. Just five (okay, I used seven) ingredients and 30 minutes in the oven and it’s ready for the table.
6 to 8 medium unpeeled red potatoes, sliced
½ cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon dried oregano (I used 1 teaspoon oregano and 1 teaspoon of basil)
1 garlic clove, minced (I used 2)
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt (my addition)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
Place the sliced potatoes in an ungreased 11-by-7-inch baking dish. Mix together the butter, oregano, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and pour over potatoes. Bake, uncovered for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring every 10 minutes.
This recipe is very forgiving. If you don’t have red potatoes, use whatever you have on hand. My family is not a big fan of the skin on potatoes, so I peeled them first; if you don’t like oregano, use an herb you do like.
The Packers are out of the running for the Super Bowl, but the game will go on and you’ll need snacks. This next recipe is a combined Taste of Home-Pampered Chef recipe and is sure to please both the males and females at your next get together.
Chicken Club Brunch Ring
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1½ teaspoons finely chopped onion
1¾ cups cubed cooked chicken breast (cut into ½ inch cubes)
2 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese, divided
2 8-ounce tubes refrigerated crescent rolls
2 plum tomatoes
2 cups shredded lettuce
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Unroll the crescent dough, separate into 16 triangles and arranged on an ungreased 12-inch-round pizza pan, forming a ring with the pointed ends facing the outer edge of the pan and the wide ends overlapping.
In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, parsley, mustard and onion. Stir in the chicken, bacon and ¾ cup of the cheese. Spoon the chicken mixture over the wide ends and fold the points over the filling, tucking under the wide ends (filling will be visible). Chop half of a tomato and set aside. Slice the remaining tomatoes and place over the exposed filling and tuck under the dough, on either end.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Let stand for 5 minutes and place the lettuce and chopped tomato in the center of the ring.
For a lighter version use low fat crescent rolls and cream cheese. Works great with turkey too.
It’s a New Year and resolutions are in full swing and my two youngest kids have (officially) decided to jump on the New Year’s resolution wagon. Now while my son Sebastian has been eating pretty healthy for a while now, his “baby” sister Milena has decided to join him. This next recipe was reposted by my sister Ana on Facebook and will kick off the healthy menu. This is a cabbage loving family, so I’m hoping it will quickly become a side dish staple. It comes from Daisy Egnisaban.
Garlic Rubbed Roasted Cabbage Steak
1 head of green cabbage, approximately about 2 pounds, cut into 1-inch thick slices
1½ tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 large garlic cloves, smashed
Feshly ground black pepper
Non-stick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and spray a baking sheet with the non-stick cooking spray.
Pull off the outer leaf of the cabbage and discard. Cut the cabbage from top to bottom (bottom being root) into 1-inch thick slices and rub both sides of cabbage with the smashed garlic then using a brush, evenly spread the olive oil over both sides of the cabbage slices and finish by sprinkling each side with a bit of kosher salt and some freshly cracked black pepper.
Roast on the middle rack for 30 minutes, carefully flip and roast for an additional 30 minutes until edges are brown and crispy. Serve hot and enjoy.
If you’re not hopping on the healthy New Year bandwagon, try sprinkling some crispy bacon over the cooked cabbage for a tasty treat.
My youngest daughter Milena has been on a cooking adventure while on winter break. As I write this at 8:19 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 26, she’s trying to convince her dad or me to run to the store for ingredients were missing for a Paula Deen cake she’s been begging to make for some time now. And while her dad and I aren’t running to the store again this evening, it’s one I’ll be making on Friday. It reminds me of summer, and right about now as the forecast calls for more snow and colder temps, I could use a taste of summer - Happy New Year!
Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake
1 15-ounce package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
1 18.25-ounce box white cake mix
1 3-ounce box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin
4 large eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup water
Strawberry cream cheese frosting
¼ cup butter, at room temperature
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened (but still firm)
1 10-ounce package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed (see helpful hint)
½ teaspoon strawberry extract (I omitted this)
7 cups confectioners’ sugar
Freshly sliced strawberries, for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Puree the thawed strawberries and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin then add the pureed strawberries, eggs, oil, and water; beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes then remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
For the frosting: In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy. Beat in ¼ cup of the strawberry puree and the strawberry extract (if using). Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth.
Spread the frosting between the layers and on top and sides of cake and garnish with sliced fresh strawberries if desired.
The frosting recipe only calls for ¼ cup of frozen strawberries in syrup, so save the rest for smoothies or an ice cream topping
Ree Drummond is fast becoming one of my favorite Food Network stars. Her recipes are generally pretty basic, taste great, and usually are great for a budget. These next two recipes (yes two) can be made with ingredients you may already have on hand. They are also pretty timely with the upcoming holidays as they can easily be pulled out for those expected friends or family dropping in. Word of warning, while both recipes are easy to make, you will need to plan ahead as cooking and set times can take up to two hours. For a step by step video, visit foodnetwork.com and search Ree Drummond recipes.
1 sleeve country club-style crackers
cup grated Parmesan (for savory), or bacon (for sweet)
1 pound thinly sliced bacon, slices cut in half
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Lay the crackers face up on a large wire baking rack over a foil-lined (for easier clean-up) baking sheet. A broiler pan will also work. Scoop about 1 teaspoon of the grated Parmesan onto each cracker and carefully wrap the cheese covered crackers with one slice of bacon (remember the bacon slices should be cut in half) completely covering the crackers. The bacon should fit snugly around the cracker, but not be pulled too tightly because the bacon will shrink while cooking.
Place the bacon-wrapped crackers back onto the rack and (patience now), bake for about 2 hours. Serve immediately or at room temperature. May be frozen and reheated; just five minutes at 375 F.
Quick and easy peppermint fudge
Cooking spray, for foil
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I prefer milk chocolate)
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
Peppermint hard candies, crushed, but not pulverized, for topping (a great use for extra candy canes)
Line an 8-by-8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray.
In a double boiler over low heat, combine the chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk and stir until melted and smooth. Here is where Ree (we’re on a first name basis don’t you know) and I differ. Once the chocolate has melted she pours the chocolate into the prepared pan, spreading it out to the edges then sprinkles the crushed candy over the top before refrigerating for two hours. I mix the peppermint pieces into the fudge before spreading it out and refrigerating. I also sprinkle the pieces over the top, but adding it to the mixture ensures that there is a peppermint bit in every bite.
Once the fudge is done, just lift the foil out of the pan, peel off the fudge and cut into small squares.
For the appetizer, Ree suggests trying brown sugar or blue cheese instead of Parmesan. While I thought the brown sugar wrap would be the favorite at home, the Parmesan was the clear winner.
For the fudge, try substituting some nuts, marshmallows or your favorite flavor extract for variety.
Last week I told you about my youngest daughter Milena making dinner and dessert for us after taking a foods class with Mrs. Barbee at school. The section they were studying was fruits and vegetables and she had a slew of recipes she wanted to try, including the appetizer below. I have to say, everything she made was delicious, so thanks again Mrs. Barabee.
This next recipe is easy to prepare and can be made in no time at all. It’s also great to have on hand for all of that holiday company stopping buy in the next few weeks.
Veggie pizza appetizer
1 package crescent rolls or seamless dough sheet (not the pizza crust)
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon dill weed (I used 1 teaspoon)
½ teaspoon garlic salt or season salt (minced fresh garlic may be substituted with a shake or two of salt. It adds a bit of bite to the spread)
6 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 tablespoon milk or cream
Veggie options (pick & choose)
2 tablespoon chopped onions
½ cup cauliflower, quartered
½ cup small broccoli florets
½ cup carrots, grated or chopped
½ cup mushrooms, sliced
½ cup green, red or yellow peppers, chopped
½ cup sliced black olives, (nope)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Open the package of crescent rolls and unroll onto a small, ungreased jellyroll pan pressing the dough into the ends to cover the pan. Bake about 10 minutes until golden brown and set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, blend together the cream cheese, dill weed, garlic, mayonnaise and milk until smooth. Spread over the cooled crust and sprinkle with veggies. Serve immediately or chill 1 to 2 hours before serving.
I found that the spread actually makes enough for two sheets of pizza or instead use two packages of crescent rolls in an ungreased 15-by-10-1-inch pan and bake as directed above.
The other day, I received a grocery list, via text, from my youngest daughter Milena. She’s been taking food and nutrition classes with Lori Barbee (or Mrs. Barbee as she calls her) at Arrowhead and couldn’t wait to try out some of the recipes at home. The list included everything from yeast and cream cheese, to Jell-O, peppers and veggies. But who was I to argue, she was planning on making dinner with dessert. I love dessert so I’m starting with that. It’s quick and easy to make and would be a festive, colorful addition to your holiday table.
Strawberry pretzel salad
2 cups crushed pretzels
¾ cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 8-ounce container frozen whipped topping, thawed (Cool Whip or another brand)
2 3-ounce packages strawberry flavored gelatin (Milena used a 6-ounce package)
2 cups boiling water
2 10-ounce packages frozen strawberries (do not thaw)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
While the oven is heating, prepare the crust by stirring together the crushed pretzels, melted butter and sugar. Mix well and press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-by-13- inch baking dish. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until set; set aside and cool.
While the crust is cooling prepare the middle by creaming together the cream cheese and sugar. Fold the mixture into the whipped topping and if the crust is cool, spread the mixture onto the cooled crust. See helpful hint.
For the topping, dissolve the gelatin in boiling water, take off the heat and stir in the still frozen strawberries and allow to set briefly. When the mixture is about the consistency of egg whites, pour and spread over the cream cheese layer and refrigerate until set.
Make sure that when you spread the cream cheese layer over the crust, you cover the entire crust without leaving air pockets in the corners to avoid the topping from seeping into the cream cheese layer.
Not a fan of strawberries, raspberry Jell-O and frozen raspberries work just as well.
My aunt, Titi Teresa, (yes titi or tia is Spanish for aunt so I am repeating, but that’s what we call her) is a phenomenal cooks, and she makes a wonderful turkey. While I know it’s too late for you for this Thanksgiving, you may want to add it to your Christmas or New Year’s table – it will be one of the best turkeys you’ve ever tasted.
Titi Teresa’s turkey
2 packets Durkee Grill Creations Marinade Mix, Italian herb (Durkee is made by Tone's)
3 tablespoons Mrs. Dash Italian Medley Seasoning Blend, salt free
3 to 4 teaspoons Goya Adobo all-purpose seasoning, with pepper (found in the Spanish aisle at your local grocery store)
2 to 3 packets Sazon Goya, with coriander and annatto
4 tablespoons vinegar (I was out of white vinegar so I used apple vinegar)
4 tablespoons oil (I used a 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil)
Salt and pepper to taste (I used one teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper)
1 stick of butter, room temperature, (optional)
1 15 to 20-22 pound turkey
Reynolds oven bags
Make sure to start this a day ahead so that flavors get a chance to marinate into the turkey.
Mix together the first seven ingredients to make a soupy paste (do not include the butter here). The mixture should be a bit salty, it’s a big bird. Once the ingredients are mixed together slather the paste all over the turkey, making sure to get some under the skin and into the cavity of the bird. If using the butter, divide it in half and slather each half stick under the skin, over each breast.
Once the turkey is ready, prepare the oven bag according to package directions (who knew), and place the turkey in the bag. Close the bag and let the turkey marinate overnight in the refrigerator (may be done up to two days ahead). Do NOT cut slits into the bag until just before you’re ready to bake the turkey. When you’re ready to cook the bird, take it out of the fridge and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour before you place it in the oven. Again, follow the baking directions on the box of the oven bags. Because you’re baking the turkey in a bag, the cooking time is actually reduced.
If you don’t want to use the cooking bags, just marinate the turkey a day or two before ready to bake and follow the baking instructions that come with the turkey. Note that you will have to baste the bird every half hour or so without the bag.
Buy local, eat local: Oconomowoc winter farmers market in full swing: Autumn Salad with Pears & Gorgonzola & Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie
I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening of the 2013 Oconomowoc winter farmers market on Sunday, Nov. 10 in the Oconomowoc Landscape Supply and Garden Center greenhouses, N68W37850 Highway K, Oconomowoc. The market runs the second and fourth Sunday of each month from November through April.
This is the fourth year for the market which has grown from the 12 original vendors to nearly three dozen. In that time more than 15,000 people have attended the market which offers everything from organic produce, free range poultry and brown eggs to candies, salsas, Greek pastries, pickles, butters and so much more… even dog treats, black Spanish radishes and purple potatoes (which make for some interesting mashed potatoes for the holidays).
The winter market was the brainchild of Lisa Geason-Bauer of Greener Oconomowoc who co-chairs this event with Katie Miller, Oconomowoc Chamber of Commerce. Ken Rizzo, who’s been working with Lisa for years at Greener Oconomowoc, states that this is the third largest indoor farmers market in Wisconsin.
While perusing the market I came across a bevy of local, fresh ingredients, all grown or produced within a 150 mile radius of the market. This next recipe is one that combines many of the products that can be found at the market. It’s also very healthy which should satisfy some of my readers searching for healthier options over the holiday season.
Autumn Salad with Pears and Gorgonzola
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper
Pinch of sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 small ripe pears, peeled and diced (may substitute apples)
¼ cup (2 ounces) reduced-fat gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
8 ounces mixed micro greens (baby spinach, arugula, radicchio, etc.)
1 ounce (about 20 halves) pecans
For the dressing: Pour the vinegar, mustard, honey, salt, pepper and sugar into a blender and slowly pour in the olive oil until well blended.
In a salad bowl, combine micro greens, pears, gorgonzola cheese and pecans. When ready to serve, add the vinaigrette and toss well. Serve immediately.
This next recipe is one Lisa sent over for pumpkin pie. She says many of the vendors at the market carry sugar pumpkins.
Old fashioned pumpkin pie
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon of lemon zest
2 eggs plus the yolk of a third egg
2 cups of pumpkin pulp purée from a sugar pumpkin* or from canned pumpkin purée
1½ cup heavy cream or 1 12-ounce can of evaporated milk
Your favorite pie crust recipe
*To make pumpkin purée from a sugar pumpkin start with a small-medium sugar pumpkin, cut out the stem and scrape out the insides and discard, saving the seeds of course. Cut the pumpkin in half and lay cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet lined with silpat or aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees F until fork tender, about 60 to 90 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool and scoop out the pulp. (Alternatively you can cut the pumpkin into sections and steam in a saucepan with a couple inches of water at the bottom, until soft.) If you want the pulp to be extra smooth, put it through a food mill.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
In large bowl, mix the sugars, salt, and spices, and lemon zest. Beat the eggs and add to the bowl then stir in the pumpkin purée. Stir in cream and whisk all together until well incorporated.
Pour the mixture into the pie shell and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours. Note that the pumpkin pie will come out of the oven all puffed up (from the leavening of the eggs), and will deflate as it cools.
Serve with whipped cream and enjoy.
For a quick and easy lunch, try wrapping the salad in tortillas for a healthy treat. If you’re short on time for the holidays, frozen pie crusts work wonders. For a list of vendors or more information on the Oconomowoc winter farmers market, visit oconomowoc.org and click on the calendar tab.
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