State of the Onion | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 26 March 2015 13:55

032615fNothing is simple anymore, not even buying an onion. This spring, depending on the exact time and place you’re shopping, you may have to consult at atlas before picking one.

Will it be from Maui, Hawaii or Vidalia, Georgia? Walla Walla, Washington or Southeast Texas?

In fact – except for the Walla Walla – they are all more or less hybrids of the same onion. Although there certainly are differences, in many cases they are interchangeable in recipes with little discernible variation in taste.

The most common cooking onion is the yellow globe, the workhorse of cookery and good in any heated dish or any other recipe in which subtlety is not an issue. It is usually the lowest-priced and, because it is a storage onion, available year-round.


6 cups water
1/2 cup rice
1/2 stick) butter, plus extra
4 large onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2/3 cup milk

Bring water and 1 teaspoon salt to boil over high heat. Slowly stir in rice. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Drain rice and put in bowl.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, 10 to 12 minutes. Add to rice. Add cheese, milk and 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste), and stir until well combined. Spread rice mixture in 13x9-inch baking dish. Bake at 325°F until lightly golden, about 1 hour. Yields 6 servings.


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Cayenne pepper
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup beer
1 large egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 cups Vegetable oil, for frying
2 large white onions, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, separated into rings

Combine flour, salt, and a pinch of cayenne in a medium bowl. Whisk in buttermilk, beer, egg, and finely-grated lemon zest, and let stand for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200°F. Place a baking sheet on middle rack of oven. Heat oil to 380°F in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.

Dip a few slices of onion in batter, turning to coat. Gently drop slices into oil. Cook, turning once with a wire-mesh skimmer, until golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Transfer rings to paper towels, season with salt immediately, then transfer onions to the baking sheet to keep warm. Repeat with remaining onions. (Adjust heat as necessary to keep oil at a steady temperature.) Yields 6 servings.


4 medium unpeeled yellow onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Balsamic vinegar (optional)

Adjust oven rack to lowest position; heat to 425°F.

Cut onions in half; toss with oil and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place, cut-side down, on a lipped cookie sheet.

Roast until tender and cut surfaces are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Adjust seasonings; drizzle sparingly with balsamic vinegar. Serves 4.


5 cups onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup ham, diced
1 cup low fat Swiss cheese, grated
3 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell

Saute onions in olive oil until tender and translucent. Add ham and grated cheese. Combine sugar and flour with seasonings, and add to slightly beaten eggs. Add milk to egg mixture.

Put sauteed onion, ham, and cheese in a pie shell; pour milk and egg mixture over onions. Bake in pre-heated oven at 425°F for 35 minutes or until custard is set and golden brown. Serve warm. Yields 6 to 8 servings.


6 large red or yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
Olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups of beef stock
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon of dry thyme
Salt and pepper
8 slices of toasted French bread
1-1/2 cups of grated Swiss, Gruyere and a little grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, sauté the onions in the olive oil on medium high heat until well browned, but not burned, about 30-40 minutes (or longer). Add the sugar about 10 minutes into the process to help with the carmelization.

Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the stock, white wine, bay leaf, and thyme. Cover partially and simmer until the flavors are well blended, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaf.

To serve you can either use individual oven-proof soup bowls or one large casserole dish. Ladle the soup into the bowls or casserole dish. Cover with the toast and sprinkle with cheese. Put into the broiler for 10 minutes at 350°F, or until the cheese bubbles and is slightly browned. Serve immediately. Serves 4-6.


1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large onions, peeled, quartered, then sliced crosswise about 1/4-inch thick
2 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
6 eggs, whisked with 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
3 tablespoons butter

Warm the olive oil in a 10-inch skillet, add onions and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until gold, about 30 minutes.

Add half the vinegar, raise the heat and reduce while stirring. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt, a few twists of pepper and ground cloves.

Preheat the broiler.

Add several pinches of salt to the eggs and beat with water. Stir in onions and parsley. Melt half the butter in 10-inch skillet. When it’s sizzling, add the eggs. Cover and cook over low heat until eggs are set, 8 to 10 minutes. Slide the pan under the broiler until eggs are golden. Tip frittata onto serving dish and return the pan to the stove. Add remaining butter and, when it begins to foam, add remaining vinegar. Slide pan back and forth to emulsify the two, then pour it over the eggs. Add a few pinches of choppe parsley and serve. Serves 4.


Spring for Some Lamb | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 19 March 2015 14:51

031915fAlthough high-quality California lamb is available year-round, sales more than double this time of year as families gather for Easter and Passover feasts.

A culinary bridge across cultures, lamb is a common staple of spring cooking that dates back to ancient times and is rooted in a number of religious traditions.

It is the most popular meat consumed worldwide, but in this country it still ranks below beef, pork and poultry.

Lamb is simple to cook. One way to prepare leg of lamb is by sprinkling the outside with granulated garlic, black pepper, leaf thyme and a little rosemary; another way is with a Dijon mustard sauce. The lamb is baked at about 350°F for 30 minutes to the pound.

Probably the worst thing people do to lamb is overcook it or to smother it in mint jelly.

Lamb should not be cooked past an internal temperature of 150°F. Mint jelly overpowers the taste of the meat. Instead, try serving lamb with  Mint Sauce that’s much lighter than the jelly.

Health-wise, lamb contains very  little marbling, so the fat can easily be trimmed. It has about the same number of calories as beef and it is high in B vitamins, niacin, zinc and iron.


2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup wine vinegar
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, slivered
1 teaspoon ginger spice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (4- to 5-pound) leg of lamb

In bowl, combine oil, vinegar, onion, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper and mix well. Pour over lamb in shallow dish and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight, turning lamb occasionally. Drain lamb, reserving marinade, and place meat on rack in shallow roasting pan.

Roast at 325°F for about 2-1/2 hours or until done as desired, basting frequently with marinade. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Add more sugar or vinegar as needed.


1 pound dried lentils, rinsed
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 sprigs thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1 bottle red win
4 lamb shanks
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400°F. Combine first 7 ingredients in roasting pan or casserole and stir; bring to a boil on top of stove, then nestle lamb shanks among lentils, cover pan and put in oven. Lower heat to 350°F and let cook, undisturbed, for about an hour.

Uncover and stir lentils gently; season with salt and pepper. Recover and cook about an hour more, until lentils are very tender and meat begins to pull away from bone. Don’t worry about overcooking the lentils. When lamb is tender, uncover pan, raise heat to 400°F and cook for another 15 minutes, just to brown top of shanks a bit. Makes 4 servings.


4 (1-1/2 inch thick) lamb chops
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons minced parsley
1/4 cup red wine
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Brown chops in hot oil in large skillet. Turn heat to low and cook to desired doneness, about 7 minutes on each side for medium. Remove to warm platter.

Add rosemary, parsley and wine to skillet, heat to boiling and reduce slightly. Add butter and stir in. Return lamb to pan and coat with sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve at once. Makes 4 servings.


2 pounds boneless lamb from shoulder or breast, cut into roughly 1-1/2 inch chunks
8 shallot, peeled
12 very small new potatoes, washed
Salt and pepper
2 carrots, diced
1 cup frozen green peas
8 scallions, trimmed and cut into 2-inch sections
1/2 cup snipped dill leaves (or more, to taste)
Lemon wedges

Put lamb in a broad skillet over high heat; let sear, undisturbed, about 2 minutes, or until underside is nicely browned. Stir and add shallots and potatoes. Cook a couple of minutes longer, and add salt and pepper and a cup of water. Stir, scraping bottom if necessary to loosen any meat bits that are sticking.

Turn heat to low, cover and simmer about 45 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Uncover and add carrots; stir once, re-cover and let simmer about 15 minutes more, or until lamb and potatoes are tender.

Uncover, add peas and scallions. Raise heat to boil away excess liquid. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve garnished with dill and accompanied by lemon wedges. Makes 4 servings.


8 lamb chops, about 2-1/2 pounds
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
6 green onions, sliced
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup red wine (such as pinot noir)

Sprinkle lamb chops with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Lightly coat chops with flour; place in hot skillet.

Sear until well browned, turning once. Remove to a plate and set aside. Reduce heat to medium.

To the skillet add the mushrooms, green onions, garlic, and butter. Cook the vegetables, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add beef broth and red wine and simmer until reduced by about 1/3.

Add lamb chops, cover skillet, and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until lamb chops are done as desired. Serves 4.


1 cup very finely chopped fresh mint leaves, washed, dried
2 tablespoons sugar
4-6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1-3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Combine sugar with 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar in a small nonreactive saucepan with 1/4 cup water. Heat over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour over mint and toss well. Add sugar if necessary.


A Simple Feast for St. Patrick’s Day | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 12 March 2015 15:37

031215fSaint Patrick’s Day is next Tuesday and corned beef and cabbage is the traditional the United States, anyway (many in Ireland will be having turkey).

Often referred to as New England boiled dinner,  corned beef is one of the easiest dishes to prepare. All you have to do is boil away and occasionally check the vegetables for doneness.

Prepare it with potatoes and other root vegetables and serve with a mound of creamy, eye-watering horseradish.

Scotch pudding adds a nice touch for dessert.


3 pounds corned beef brisket with spice packet
10 small red potatoes
5 carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces
1 large head cabbage, cut into small wedges

Rinse corned beef, then place it in large pot or Dutch oven and cover with water. Add the spice packet that came with the corned beef.

Cover pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer approximately 50 minutes per pound or until tender.

Add whole potatoes and carrots, and cook until the vegetables are almost tender. Then, add cabbage and cook for 15 more minutes. Remove meat and let rest 15 minutes.

Place vegetables in a bowl and cover. Add as much broth (cooking liquid reserved in the Dutch oven or large pot) as you want. Slice meat across the grain. Yields 5 servings.

Cook’s Tip: If seasoning packet is not included with corned beef brisket, substitute 1-1/4 teaspoons pickling spice, or just add 15 peppercorns, 8 whole cloves and a bay leaf.


2-1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup buttermilk*
2/3 cup raisins, chopped
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch round layer-cake pan.

In foot-processor bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 3 tablespoons sugar and caraway seeds. Add butter and process until mixture resembles oatmeal. Put into medium-size bowl.

Make a well in center of flour mixture; pour in buttermilk and add raisins. Mix lightly.

Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead gently a few times. Shape into a 5-inch round loaf and place in prepared pan.

Using a sharp knife, cut dough crosswise into quarters, about one-third of the way through. Brush top surface with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining sugar that has been mixed with the cinnamon. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm with butter. Makes 1 loaf.

*If you don’t have buttermilk, put 1 tablespoon plain vinegar in measuring cup and add milk to make 1 cup.


2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup minced white onion
2 tablespoons green bell pepper, chopped
2 cups whole kernel corn, drained
1 tablespoon chopped pimento peppers
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium heat, stirring until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon on a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the grease in the skillet.

Stir the onion and bell pepper into the skillet, and cook until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the corn, pimentos, and reserved bacon. Cook and stir until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper before serving. Yields 6 servings.


4 large Pippin or similar apples, peeled, cored and cut into 16 pieces
1 cup regular rolled oats
3/4 cup light-brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
1-1/2 cups milk
Vanilla ice cream, light cream or favorite whipped topping

Arrange half of apple slices in buttered 10-inch round deep-dish pan.

In bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, walnuts, salt and cinnamon. Sprinkle half of oat mixture over apple slices. Dot top of apples with 2 tablespoons butter.

Arrange another layer of apple slices on top. Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture and butter. Pour milk over top as evenly as possible.

Bake, uncovered, at 350°F until edges of pudding are brown and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream, light cream or whipped topping. Serves 8.


Stuck on Peanut Butter | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 05 March 2015 14:41

030515fPeanut butter is a staple in most American homes and for good reason. Besides being tasty, it is an excellent source of protein and healthy fat that comes in natural creamy or chunky forms.

It finds its greatest use in sandwiches where it is usually paired with jam or jelly. But it can be combined with many snacks including apples, celery, carrots, bananas, and many more.

And, of course, there are peanut butter cookies, sauces, cakes, pies, ice cream and hundreds of other desserts.


3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter

Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 2 large baking sheets.

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter with both sugars for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium and add eggs and vanilla; beat until smooth and well combined. Beat in peanut butter. Scrape down sides of bowl. Reduce speed to low and beat in flour mixture in 2 batches, until just combined.

Form dough into 1-inch balls and place on baking sheets. Flatten each ball by pressing with tines of a fork in a crisscross pattern. Bake, switching pans halfway through, 14 to 16 minutes, or until golden brown on bottom and barely colored on top. Cool on pans on wire racks for 5 minutes. With a spatula, carefully transfer cookies to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Repeat with remaining cookie dough. Yields about 80 cookies.


1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1⁄4 cup butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 quarts chicken stock
2 cups smooth peanut butter
1-3⁄4 cups light cream
Peanuts, chopped, for garnish

Sauté onion and celery in butter until soft. Do not brown. Stir in the flour until well blended. Add chicken broth/stock, stirring constantly and bring to a boil.

Remove from heat. Let cool for 10 minutes. Puree in a food processor or blender. Add peanut butter and cream, stirring to blend thoroughly. Return to low heat and heat just until hot. Do not boil.

Serve garnished with chopped peanuts. Yields 10 servings


1 cup pancake mix
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 (5 oz.) can evaporated milk
1/3 cup water
Honey Butter Syrup:
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons honey

In a large bowl, combine pancake mix and sugar. In a small bowl, beat egg and peanut butter; add milk and water. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a lightly greased medium-hot griddle. Turn when bubbles form on top of pancakes; cook until second side is golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with warm honey-butter. Yields10 pancakes.


2 ripe bananas
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
Cinnamon sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Lightly spray muffin tins with canola oil.

Mix the wet ingredients together, mashed banana, honey, peanut butter, yogurt, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, flax seed, sugar and cinnamon). Add the wet and dry together and stir until just combined.

Using a large ice cream scoop or spoon, add the batter into the muffin tin until the cups are 3/4 full, sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon sugar on each muffin, and bake on the middle rack of  the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Yields: 12-16.


1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
4 teaspoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons white wine vinegar
Dash crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh gingerroot
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 cup hot cooked rice

In a small bowl, combine the first five ingredients; set aside. In a large skillet, saute the chicken, garlic and ginger in oil for 5 minutes. Add peanut butter mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until chicken juices run clear, stirring frequently.

Serve with rice; sprinkle with thinly-sliced green onions if desired. Yield: 2 servings.


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup natural peanut butter

Put sugar and milk in pan and bring to a boil. Boil for 2-1/2 minutes. Remove from heat and add peanut butter and vanilla. Stir just until well mixed. Pour into buttered pan, cool and cut into squares. The smaller the pan, the thicker the fudge will be.


2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
5 ounces milk chocolate, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Warm milk and cream in a medium saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add chocolate, and whisk until melted and combined. Continue to warm mixture until thick, about 5 minutes. Whisk in peanut butter until smooth. Yields 3-1/2 cups.


Rooting for Carrots | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 26 February 2015 14:51

022615fCarrots are one of those Plain-Jane, ho-hum vegetables that nobody gets excited about. But aside from being a very nutritious side dish, there may be no vegetable that rivals the carrot when it comes to adding flavor, sweetness and moisture to all manner of baked goods.


5 cups of shredded carrots
1-1⁄2 cups of celery, chopped
1-1⁄2 cups of mayonnaise
3⁄4 cup of raisins
3⁄4 cup of walnuts, chopped
2 teaspoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of mustard
1⁄4 teaspoon of salt

In a bowl, combine the carrots, celery, raisins and walnuts. Add the other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Serve on lettuce leaves. Yields 6 servings.


1 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup cooked, mashed carrots
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Orange Icing:
Juice of 1/2 orange (3 to 4 tablespoons)
Grated rind of 1 orange
1 tablespoon butter
1-1/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

Beat shortening; gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg, carrots and vanilla, beating well after each addition. Sift together dry ingredients; stir into carrot mixture and mix well. Stir in chopped nuts, if using. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for about 20 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks to cool.

For the icing, combine juice and orange rind with butter; stir in sifted confectioners’ sugar until desired spreading consistency is reached. Add more juice or confectioners’ sugar as needed.

Ice cookies with Orange Icing while still warm.


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup drained crushed pineapple
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, well-beaten
1 tablespoon melted butter
1-1/2 cups finely shredded carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cream butter with brown sugar, then stir in the flour and oats; mix until crumbly. Press over the bottom and up the sides of an 8-inch square pan. Prick with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden.

To make the topping while the crust is baking, mix together the pineapple and lemon rind; set aside. Mix together the sugar, egg, melted butter, carrots and nuts.

Remove the crust from the oven and spread the pineapple over it. Spread the carrot mixture over the pineapple and return to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes longer.

Cool on a rack, then cut into bars. Yields 12 to 16 bars.


1 pound carrots, trimmed and scraped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Cut the carrots into very thin slices. Place them in a small skillet and add salt, pepper, sugar, water and butter.

Cover the pan and cook over medium heat, shaking the skillet occasionally. Cook about 8 minutes until the carrots are tender, the liquid has disappeared, and the carrots are slightly glazed. Take care they do not burn. Sprinkle the parsley over them and serve.

Yields 4 servings.


Butter, for pans
2 cups flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1-1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 cups grated carrots
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick salted butter, room temperature
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) round pans; Line bottom of the pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add eggs and vegetable oil. Using a hand mixer, blend until combined. Add carrots and pecans, if using.

Pour into pans. Bake for approximately 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pans, place on waxed paper and allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

Add all ingredients, except nuts, into a medium bowl and beat until fluffy using a hand mixer. Stir in the nuts. Spread frosting on top of each cake layer. Stack the cakes on a serving plate and serve.


Celebrating a New Year! | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 19 February 2015 12:24

021915fChinese New Year (the Lunar Year 4713) begins today. Also known as the Spring Festival, it is widely regarded as the most important celebration in China and is given official public holiday status.

Celebrations   around the world – both literal and symbolic – are underway. Spring cleaning started about a month prior to the new year and must have been completed before the celebrations begin.

Foods during the holiday are symbolic as well. Typically red meat isn’t served and one is careful not to serve or eat from a chipped or cracked plate.

Fish is eaten to ensure long life and good fortune. Oranges and tangerines symbolize wealth and good fortune.


1⁄4 pound lean ground pork
2ounces medium raw shrimp, peeled, deveined and minced
2 tablespoons minced green onions and tops
4 teaspoons soy sauce, divided
1⁄2 teaspoon cornstarch
1⁄4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
24 wonton wrappers
3 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth
1⁄4 cup dry sherry
1⁄2 pound bok choy
2 tablespoons chopped green onions and tops
1⁄2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

Combine pork, shrimp, minced green onions, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, cornstarch and ginger in medium bowl; mix well.

Arrange several wonton wrappers on clean surface; cover remaining wrappers to prevent drying out. Place 1 teaspoon pork mixture in center of each wrapper. Fold wrapper over filling to form a triangle. Gently fold center point down and moisten left corner with water. Twist and overlap opposite corner over moistened corner; press firmly to seal.

Repeat with remaining pork mixture and wrappers.

Bring 4 cups water to boil in large saucepan. Add wontons. Simmer 3 minutes; remove with slotted spoon. Discard water; pour broth and sherry into same saucepan. Cut bok choy crosswise into 1⁄2-inch slices, separating stems from leaves. Add stems to broth mixture; bring to boil. Add wontons; simmer 1 minute. Add bok choy leaves and chopped green onions; simmer 1 minute longer. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 teaspoons soy sauce and sesame oil. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.


1 pound uncooked fresh Chinese-style egg noodles (or spaghetti, vermicelli or linguine)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup sliced green onions and tops
2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt; drain, rinse under cold water and drain thoroughly.

Combine soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, sugar, cornstarch and water. Heat vegetable oil in hot wok or large skillet over high heat. Add green onions and stir-fry 10 seconds. Add soy sauce mixture; cook, stirring, until sauce comes to a boil. Add noodles; cook, stirring, 1 minute or until sauce returns to boil and noodles are evenly coated with sauce. Remove from heat. Add sesame oil and sesame seeds; toss well to combine. Serves 4.


1/2 pound skinless sea bass fillet
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup sweet & sour sauce
2 teaspoons Asian chili sauce

Sprinkle the sea bass with salt, pepper, ginger and garlic and let stand for 30 minutes or longer in the refrigerator.

Heat a skillet or wok over high heat. Add the oil and sea bass and pan-fry until both sides are browned, about 2 minutes per side. Add the stir-fry sauce and heat until bubbling. Turn sea bass again and cook an additional minute (6 minutes in all). Remove from pan, garnish with green onions and serve immediately. Serves 2.


3/4 pound boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger root
2 teaspoons finely chopped orange zest
2 teaspoons finely chopped lemon zest
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cold water
1 teaspoon chili bean sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped green onions

Remove skin from chicken and cut meat into long, thin strips. Blanch chicken 30 seconds in pan of boiling, salted water. Drain and set aside.

Heat wok until hot. Add oil, garlic and ginger. Stir-fry 10 seconds. Add orange and lemon zests and juices, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch mixed with cold water, chili bean sauce, sesame oil and green onions. Bring to simmer. Add chicken and cook through. Serves 2.


On Valentine’s Day, Let Them Eat Cake! | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 12 February 2015 14:45

021215fSaturday is Valentine’s Day, and if you haven’t found the perfect gifts for your loved ones, you probably couldn’t go too far wrong with one of these luscious homemade chocolate cakes.


For the cake:
1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened, plus more for the pans
3 cups cake flour (sift before measuring)
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon red food coloring
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
For the frosting:
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
2 pounds (about 8 cups) confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper; butter the parchment.

Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

Beat the granulated sugar, 12 tablespoons butter and the vegetable oil in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the food coloring, vinegar and vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour, until just combined.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes on racks, then turn the cakes out onto the racks to cool completely. Using a long serrated knife, carefully slice each cake in half horizontally to make 2 even layers.

To make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and salt; beat until smooth.

Put 1 cake layer on a platter; spread 1-1/4 cups frosting on top. Repeat to make 4 layers, ending with the cake. Cover the top and sides with a thin layer of frosting (this is the “crumb coat”; it doesn’t have to be perfect). Chill 15 minutes, then cover with the remaining frosting. Top each slice with a milk chocolate heart and decorate with raspberries, if desired.


For the cake:
3 sticks butter, plus more for the pan
1-1/4 cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1-1/4 cups hot water
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2-1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
For the frosting:
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons hot water
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 pound semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment paper, and butter paper. Whisk together cocoa powder and hot water until smooth.

Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside. Melt butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove from heat, and transfer to a mixer. Beat on medium-low speed until cooled, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla and cocoa-powder mixture. Reduce speed to low.

Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour. Beat until just combined.

Divide batter between pans, and bake until a cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack, peel off parchment, and let cool completely.

To make the frosting: Whisk together cocoa powder and hot water until smooth. Beat butter, sugar, and salt in a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy.

Reduce to medium-low speed; slowly add melted chocolate and cocoa-powder mixture, and beat until combined. If frosting is not set, let stand, stirring occasionally until thickened, 20 to 30 minutes.

Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cake layers to make level. Transfer one cake layer to a cake stand, and spread with 1 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer, and coat top and sides with remaining frosting, spreading it in a swirling motion.


2 cups sifted cake flour
1-3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 cups sour cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons soft butter
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetend cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 tablespoons milk

Combine first 5 ingredients  in large mixing bowl and, on low speed of mixer, blend in butter, sour cream, eggs and vanilla Beat 3 minutes on medium speed. Pour batter into two greased 9-inch layer pans. Bake at 350°F 30 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Remove from pans, cool and frost.

To make frosting, combine ingredients and beat to spreading consistency.


1 (4-ounce) package Baker’s German’s sweet baking chocolate
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
Coconut-pecan frosting

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Melt chocolate in water and cool.

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg yolks. Stir in vanilla and


Mix flour, soda and salt. Beat in flour mixture, alternately with buttermilk.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter. Pour batter into three 9-inch layer pans, lined on bottoms with waxed paper.

Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly pressed in center Cool 15 minutes; remove and cool on rack.


Our Love Affair with Spaghetti | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 05 February 2015 15:28

020515fAmericans engage in the occasional fling with quinoa and arugula, but pasta, especially spaghetti, has become a long-term love affair.

The average family enjoys spaghetti about once a week, usually made with a heat-and-serve red sauce.

But few bottled sauces can compare with the flavor of homemade. Simple to make, spaghetti sauce typically uses common and inexpensive everyday ingredients. And like soup, it can be customized to suit a family’s taste.


1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano or 3/4 teaspoon dried  
2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Hot cooked spaghetti
Fresh oregano, optional

In a Dutch oven, cook ground beef and onion until meat is no longer pink and onion is tender; drain. Add the next eight ingredients; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf. Serve with spaghetti. Garnish with oregano if desired. Yields 4-6 servings (about 1 quart).


3/4 pound extra-lean ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon dried basil, crushed
1/2 cup dehydrate onion
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
4 ounces fresh mushroom, sliced
1-1/2 cups water
Cooked pasta
Grated Parmesan, optional

Brown ground beef in large skillet with lid. drain well. Add garlic, tomato paste, tomato sauce, onion, basil, onion powder, salt, pepper, cornstarch, sugar, mushrooms and water. Stir to mix.

Simmer sauce for 30 minutes, covered, stirring frequently. Served over cooked pasta. Top with Parmesan. Serves 4.


4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
8 ounces red wine
2 tablespoons dried basil
1-2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Place a 4 quart pot over medium high heat, add olive oil and red pepper flakes, stirring for approximately 1 minute.

Lower heat to medium and add onion, sauteing until onion begins to be translucent. Add garlic and saute for additional 2 minutes.

Add both cans tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, sugar, and wine. Add spices, blending thoroughly. Cover and simmer on low heat for 2 hours, then taste test and add more wine if too thick and re season as desired.

Simmer, covered, for an additional hour. Can be slow cooked in crock pot on low for 6-8 hours. Yields 10 servings.

Cooked ground beef or turkey or cooked Italian sausage may be added upon serving if desired.

This recipe freezes well.


1 large onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
4 stalks celery, sliced
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 large can tomato sauce
3 small cans tomato sauce
1 cup soy burger
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon basil spice
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups water

Sauté onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, celery and garlic in olive oil until slightly tender. Add all other ingredients and simmer for about 4 hours. Add water as needed if mixture becomes too thick or dry. Serves 8 to 10. As you serve this sauce over pasta, sprinkle with a little freshly grated Parmesan.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1 pound pasta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add red pepper flakes and tomatoes and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.

While sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until ad dente. Drain and rinse with hot water. Toss pasta with sauce and sprinkle cheese on top. Serves 4 as main course or 8 as an appetizer.


4 slices bacon, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
4 medium onions, chopped
1 cup finely chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons mince parsley
Spice Blend (recipe follows)
3 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

In a 6-quart pan over medium high heat, stir bacon and beef frequently until well browned, about 15 minutes. Discard fat. Add onions, celery, garlic, parsley and spice blend. Stir often until onions are limp, about 20 minutes. Add tomato sauce and paste, and vinegar. Simmer, uncovered, until reduced to about 2 quarts, about 1 hour. Makes 2 quarts.

To make Spice Blend, combine 1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, dry oregano leaves, pepper, rubbed sage, and dry thyme leaves. Add 1/4 teaspoon each of ground cloves and ground nutmeg.


Tackling Sunday’s Snackfest | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 29 January 2015 13:10

012915fAccording to the Super Bowl party tips published by the NFL, the only rule for game-day food is that there should be plenty of it.

Junk food is required at a gathering like this. Keep in mind that watching a big football game is an acceptable excuse to break any diet.

Dips and one-hand-only foods are absolute necessities. There should be no fumbling distractions – no juggling of knives, forks and spoons.


2 cups brown sugar
1 cup yellow mustard
1/4 cup soy sauce
5 pounds chicken wings, cut into thirds, tips discarded

Mix brown sugar, mustard, and soy sauce together in a bowl. Measure 1/4 cup marinade for basting and transfer to a small bowl; cover and refrigerate.

Place wings in a large resealable bag. Pour remaining marinade over wings, coating well. Seal and marinate wings in refrigerator at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Remove chicken wings from resealable bag and transfer to a baking sheet. Discard marinade.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Baste wings with reserved 1/4 cup marinade; cook, basting every 10 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 30 more minutes. Yields 10 servings.


1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 tablespoon dried chives
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 dash hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon white pepper

Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, garlic powder, oregano, dill weed, chives, parsley, Parmesan cheese, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and refrigerate for at least 1/2 an hour. If the dressing is too thick, add a little extra buttermilk to thin.


2 cloves garlic, crushed
6 green onions, sliced, white parts and tops separated
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 shredded, cooked, whole chicken breast
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup salsa
1/2 (12-ounce) package tortilla chips
1 (8-ounce) package shredded Cheddar/Monterey Jack cheese blend
1/2 large tomato, diced
Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, cook and stir the garlic and white parts of the green onions in canola oil until tender. Mix in shredded chicken, salt and pepper. Toss until well coated with oil. Stir in the salsa.

Arrange tortilla chips on a large baking sheet. Spoon the chicken mixture over tortilla chips. Top with cheese blend and tomato. Bake in the preheated oven 10 minutes, or until cheese has melted. Remove from heat and sprinkle with green onion tops before serving. Serves 6.


6 beef hot dogs
1 tube refrigerated crescent roll dough
2 ounces deli sliced pastrami
1 ounce diced swiss cheese
1/4 cup sauerkraut
1/2 cup bottled Russian dressing, for dipping

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Cut each hot dog into 4 pieces, and then cut a small slit into the top of each hot dog piece. Stuff a small bit of cheese into each hot dog.  Slice the crescent roll dough into 24 strips (they won’t be even but it doesn’t matter). Cut the pastrami into strips.

To assemble the Reuben piggies, lay a piece of pastrami on a strip of dough. Top with a small bit of sauerkraut, and then a piece of cheese-stuffed hot dog. Roll up the dough and press together. Place the assembled piggie on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining hot dogs. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the dough is golden. Serve hot with the dressing for dipping. Yields 24.


1 pound processed cheese loaf, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup beer
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Mix all ingredients in a 1 or 2 quart slow-cooker. Cover and cook on high for 40 minutes until cheese melts. Stir until mixture is smooth. Scrape down cooker sides. Turn heat to low. Dip will hold for 4 hours if you stir it occasionally. Serve with pretzels, bread cubes or crackers.


12 hard-cooked eggs
4 tablespoons Italian dressing
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
2 (2-ounce) jars chopped pimientos, drained
2 tablespoons chopped green pepper

Carefully cut eggs in half lengthwise; remove yolks and set whites aside. Mash yolks with fork. Stir dressing and mustard into yolks. Stir in pimientos and green pepper.

Refill whites using 1 heaping tablespoon yolk mixture for each egg half. Chill to blend flavors. Makes 6 servings.


8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish, drained
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 pound smoked salmon, minced

Cream the cheese in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until just smooth. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, horseradish, salt and pepper, and mix. Add the smoked salmon and mix well. Chill and serve. Yields 1-1/2 pints.


6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3 cups Corn Chex cereal
3 cups Rice Chex cereal
3 cups Wheat Chex cereal
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup pretzels
1 cup bagel chips

Heat oven to 250°F. Melt butter (or margarine) in large roasting pan in oven. Stir in seasonings. Gradually stir in remaining ingredients until evenly coated. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container. Yields 12 cups.


2 ripe avocados
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons lime juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 tablespoon grated onion
2 dashes hot pepper sauce
Peel, pit and mash avocados.

In a small cup, add salt, minced garlic and lemon juice. Set aside for 15-30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Makes 1-1/2 cups.

Chicken, Plain and Fancy | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 22 January 2015 15:40

012215fNothing lends itself to new treatments than chicken. It can be fried, grilled, poached, roasted or broiled with any number of spring vegetables, fruits and nuts.


1 (3-pound) chicken
Stuffing (optional)
1/4 pound butter, softened
2 teaspoons finely crumbled dried sage
Freshly ground pepper

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Remove fat pads at opening of the cavity. Fill body and neck cavities with stuffing, if desired.

Blend butter and sage. Rub mixture inside and out, covering chicken all over. Season with salt and pepper. Place chicken, breast side up, using V-shaped rack to hold.

Roast at 350°F for about 50 minutes until meat thermometer registers 160°F, or make small slit with knife at second joint where leg connects. If juice run clear, chicken is done. If juices are pink, roast another 10 minutes. Remove and let stand for 10 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.


4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
4 teaspoons butter
2 cups spaghetti sauce
4 slices Mozzarella cheese 1teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese

Pound chicken to flatten and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Dip chicken in egg; then in bread crumbs and fry in butter in hot skillet, turning and browning for 10 minutes or until chicken is done.

Remove from skillet. Pour spaghetti sauce into skillet and heat thoroughly. Add chicken. Place slices of Mozzarella on top of chicken and sprinkle with parmesan. Cover and cook until cheese is melted. Serve with a side of spaghetti. Serves 4.


1 quart buttermilk
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, divided
2 (2-1/2-pound) fryer chickens, cut into 8 pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil, for frying

Stir together the buttermilk and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper in a large bowl; add chicken, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 6 hours or up to overnight.

In a large brown paper bag, combine flour with remaining 1 teaspoon cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper; shake to combine. One at a time, place chicken pieces in the bag; shake to coat. Place coated pieces on a clean plate or tray.

In a large skillet, heat 2 inches oil to 350°F. Using tongs, add chicken one piece at a time, being careful to not overcrowd pan. Fry, turning every 3 to 4 minutes, until deep mahogany in color, about 18 minutes. Remove chicken from skillet, and drain on a brown paper bag. Serve hot, warm, or cold. Yields 4 to 8 servings.


3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced 1/8 inch thick
2 large carrots, peeled, cut in 2-inch pieces
3 zucchini, cut in 2-in. lengths
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 (3-1/2 pound) chicken, cut in serving pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
6 Idaho potatoes, peeled, cut in large chunks
1-1/2 cups shredded Jarlsberg cheese, divided

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large skillet. Add onion, mushrooms, carrots and zucchini. Saute, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Remove vegetables from skillet and set aside.

In same skillet heat 2 tablespoons butter and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Remove excess fat from chicken and some of the skin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown chicken in small batches until golden.

Remove chicken from skillet. Slowly pour chicken broth into skillet, scraping up any brown bits: bring to boil. Return chicken to skillet. Add parsley. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and cook 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook potatoes till tender; drain and mash. In large bowl, stir 1 cup cheese into potatoes.

Place chicken in large ovenproof casserole. Add reserved vegetables and sauce from skillet. If sauce is thin, cook it (in skillet) over high heat till reduced somewhat, then add to casserole.

Spread potato-cheese mixture over top. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Continue baking 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked and potato topping is slightly crusty and golden. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
6 slices Swiss cheese
6 slices ham
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Pound chicken breasts if they are too thick. Place a cheese and ham slice on each breast within 1/2 inch of the edges. Fold the edges of the chicken over the filling, and secure with toothpicks.

Mix the flour and paprika in a small bowl, and coat the chicken pieces.

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the chicken until browned on all sides. Add the wine and bouillon. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

Remove the toothpicks, and transfer the breasts to a warm platter. Blend the cornstarch with the cream in a small bowl, and whisk slowly into the skillet. Cook, stirring until thickened, and pour over the chicken. Serve warm. Yields 6 servings.


Coffee Cake: An All-Time Favorite | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 15 January 2015 15:35

011515fSitting leisurely with a slice of coffee cake and a steaming cup of coffee, is one of life’s little pleasures.

Whether you serve it for breakfast, brunch, an afternoon snack, or dessert, this homey treat is an all-time favorite.

If you don’t already have a special family coffee cake recipe in your repertoire, here are some perfect options.


For the streusel:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
3/4 cup milk, or as needed
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.

Make the streusel topping: In a medium bowl, combine  flour, sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Crack an egg into a measuring cup and then fill with milk to make 1 cup. Stir in vanilla. Pour into crumb mixture and mix just until moistened. Spread into prepared pan. Sprinkle top with streusel.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool. Makes a dozen servings.


1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, melted
1-1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

In a large bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, and eggs. Whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk in dry ingredients just until combined (do not overmix).

Using a rubber spatula, fold in apples. Spoon batter into a 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan, and smooth top.

Bake until a tester inserted in cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes; invert onto rack to cool completely.

Make the Glaze: Whisk together powdered sugar and enough water to form a thick yet pourable glaze. Set rack with cake over a piece of wax paper (for easy cleanup); drizzle cake with glaze, and let set before serving. Yields 10 servings.


For the cinnamon streusel:
1/3 cup Original Bisquick mix
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons firm butter
For the cake:
2 cups Original Bisquick mix
2/3 cup milk or water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg

Heat oven to 375°F. Grease 9-inch round pan. In small bowl, stir streusel ingredients until crumbly; set aside.

In medium bowl, mix coffee cake ingredients until blended. Spread in pan. Sprinkle with streusel. Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Best served warm. Serves 10.


1-1/2 stick butter, softened
2 cups (scant) sugar
3 cups flour, sifted
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cup whole milk
3 whole egg whites, beaten until stiff
For the topping:
1-1/2 stick butter, softened
3/4 cups flour
1-1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1-1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat egg whites and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar. Add flour mixture and milk alternately until combined. Don’t overbeat. Fold in beaten egg whites with a rubber spatula. Spread in a well-greased 9 x 13 baking pan (a cake pan with higher sides is best).

In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients with a pastry cutter until crumbly. Sprinkle all over the top.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until no longer jiggly. Serve warm. Yields 16 servings.


2 (12-oz) tubes refrigerated flaky buttermilk biscuits
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut each biscuit into four pieces; arrange evenly in a 10-inch fluted tube pan coated with cooking spray. Combine brown sugar, cream and cinnamon; pour over biscuits.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes before inverting onto a serving platter. Yields 12 servings.


Chasing Away Winter’s Chill | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 08 January 2015 16:34

010815fOn a cold, wintry night, there’s nothing as inviting as a steaming-hot bowl of soup for supper. And soup-making can bring out the creativity in even the first-time cook.

Just begin with well-flavored stock and the sky’s the limit. Add vegetables in the order of the time it takes to cook them – carrots, onions and potatoes first; zucchini, fresh corn, frozen peas, and the like during the last 10 minutes.

If a soup recipe calls for one onion, you won’t go wrong by doubling it to two. Use the one as called for, but dice the other and saute it in 1 tablespoon butter while the soup simmers, until the onion pieces turn golden. Add the fried onions to the soup for the last 30 minutes of simmering.

If you love thick soup, purée a cup of the vegetables in a blender with a little broth, then add it back to the soup.


3 cups vegetable broth
3 cups tomato juice
2 medium potatoes
3 carrots, diced
1 small onions, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1/4 cup green peppers, diced
1/2 cup green beans, chopped
1/2 cup lima beans
1/2 cup corn
4 tablespoons margarine
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)

Combine broth and tomato juice in large, heavy pan with a lid.

Melt 4 tablespoons margarine in skillet. Add the chopped green peppers, carrots, celery and onion. Sauté on low heat until vegetables are softened and onion browned lightly. Add this to the broth mixture. Add the potatoes, green beans, lima beans and corn. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes or until all the vegetables are done. Add the salt and pepper. Remove about 2 cups of the mixture and put into blender. Purée this mixture and return to pot with rest of soup. Turn off heat and cover soup. Best if allowed to set for up to 1 hour to blend flavors. Makes 6 servings.

Since this is a basic recipe for soup, you can add the vegetables you prefer and follow the directions above to finish the soup.

Some suggestions: Add bay leaf, shredded cabbage, chopped zucchini, diced turnips, fresh tomatoes, okra or parsley. For added nutrition, serve with a sprinkling of low fat cheese on the hot soup. Also good sprinkled with toasted croutons.

This soup stores well for a few days in the refrigerator and actually improves with time.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 cups beef stock
3/4 cup barley
3 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped 1/2 cup red wine
2 cups cubed potatoes
2 cups diced cooked beef
1-1/2 cups chopped cabbage
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot over medium heat, combine the oil, onions, celery and carrots. Sauté for 5 minutes, or until tender. Add the beef stock, barley, bay leaf and thyme and simmer until barley is softened but not mushy. Add the wine, potatoes and beef. Simmer another 15 minutes and add the cabbage. Allow to simmer another 15 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Makes 12 servings.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
8 cups water
6 cubes vegetable bouillon
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
6 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans (drained if desired)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot; cook the onion and garlic until soft. Stir in the kale and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the water, vegetable bouillon, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, Italian seasoning, and parsley. Simmer soup on medium heat for 25 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Yields 8 servings.


2 (14-1/2 oz.) cans  diced tomatoes, undrained
2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk

In a saucepan, combine the first eight ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Discard bay leaf; press mixture through sieve and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt butter; stir in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce heat. Gradually stir in tomato mixture until smooth; heat through. Yields 8 servings (2 quarts).


10 slices bacon, finely chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, pressed
1 (14-1/2 ounce) can chicken broth
1-1/2 cups canned chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
4 (15-1/2 ounce) cans black beans, drained but not rinsed
Salt and ground black pepper
1 bunch cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lime
Garnish: thinly sliced scallions, grated Cheddar cheese

Put the bacon into a large heavy pot and place it over medium heat. Cook until it starts to give up its fat, about 4 minutes.

Stir in the onions and cook, stirring, until they start to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until you can smell it, about 1 minute. Add the broth, tomatoes, ketchup, Worcestershire, and chili powder. Stir in the beans, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the soup is bubbling gently and cook 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, pick off all the thick stems from the cilantro. Wash it and shake dry. Chop the cilantro coarsely and stir it into the soup when it has been simmering 10 minutes. Cook until the soup is thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice. Serve with the garnishes. Yields 8 to 10 servings.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 quarts chicken stock,
8 ounces dried wide egg noodles
1-1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf.

Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer for 5 minutes until tender. Fold in the chicken, and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving. Serves 4.




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