Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Appetizers for New Years!

Need some appetizer ideas for your New Years celebration? Check out the "Crustless Broccoli and Cheddar Mini Quiches" for a really delicious bite-size quiche. And they're easy! This creamy "Herb Dip" is so delicious with vegetables or bagel chips. It's so addictive!

The Baked Barbecue Meatballs are easy to do in the oven and are hard to resist in a tangy barbecue sauce. Bet you can't eat just one!

My "Corn and Black Bean Salsa" can still be made even though fresh tomatoes are out of season. Try using the little grape tomatoes to take place of the Roma's, if you have trouble finding decent ones.
For more appetizer ideas go here for my other suggestions. It's only 2 more days until New Years Eve; are you having a huge celebration or staying in for a quiet evening?

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Fantastic Cheese Ball for Family Recipes: Memories of Family, Food and Fun!

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Christmas weekend! We still have snow on the ground, though not as much as some of our neighbors to the west, such as Oklahoma. It is cold though, but that's winter for you. I am well now, after being sick with, of all things, food poisoning. At least I'm reasonably sure that's what it was. One day last week as I spent a long afternoon shopping, I decided to go through the drive though of a fast-food chain and grab a quick burger, instead of going home to fix a bite. That way I could go on to the grocery store after I ate. Bad idea! I rarely eat at fast food chains, and now it will be even less often. I'll spare you the details! Instead, I'd love to tell you about this marvelous, delicious cheese ball that I've made for years!

This awesome cheese ball comes from my Mother-in-law, Grace, and I think she got it from a friend of hers. She gave me the recipe years ago and it has been a family favorite since then. It is always devoured when taken to gatherings. My husband loves this savory cheese ball as much as I do. Children may not appreciate the green onion and bell pepper mixed into the cheese, but adults love it! If desired, the mixed cheese can be separated into 2 equal parts and rolled into logs, instead of the ball. I am submitting this recipe to "Family Recipes: Memories of Family, Food and Fun", this month, which is hosted by me! Yes, I am this months host for this fun event! I am now co-hosting with Laura, of "The Spiced Life", and Shelby of "The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch", for this wonderful blog event. If you have a favorite family dish you'd like to include this month, you will find the rules here. It must be a new post of an older family recipe. Send me the link to your post and a picture, if possible, to www.whatscookin52@sbcglobal.net.
I need to receive this information by December 30th. Now, on to the recipe!

My Mother-in-Laws's Cheese Ball

8 ounces cream cheese, brought to room temperature
8 ounces medium cheddar cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons finely chopped green or red bell pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion

2 tablespoons chopped, well drained pimento (I did not use)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (recipe says up to 1/2 tsp.)

about 1/2 cup chopped pecans for coating the cheese ball

Mix cheeses together until well combined. By hand this will be work. Use a food processor, if desired. I don't have one, yet. Stir in the remaining ingredients, except the nuts. Cover the bowl and chill this mixture for 30 minutes or so, until the cheese is firmer and easier to roll into a ball.

When ready, roll the cheese mixture into a ball and then roll into the chopped nuts to evenly coat. I added some chopped, fresh parsley to the nuts for some added color. Wrap cheese ball in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge. Can be made several days ahead of serving. The cheese ball should set at room temperature for about 30minutes before serving. Serve with crackers of choice. I hope you'll try this savory and delicious cheese ball. The cayenne pepper gives it a subtle kick that pares well with the bell pepper and onion. This would be a great addition you your New Years celebrations. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Merry Christmas! I'm sorry to have been absent from blogging this past week-I've been ill and not cooking or eating. I may not get to cook dinner tommorrow either, but no one may even be able to come as we are under a winter storm warning, with ice and snow. YUCK! It is cold and slick.
Have a Blessed Christmas my friends! I'll be back as soon as possible.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Peanut Butter Fudge ( and a reminder for December's "Family Recipes: Memories of Family, Food and Fun")

Before I get into my sugary post, I'd like to remind everyone who's interested, about December's roundup for "Family Recipes: Memories of Family, Food and Fun". The deadline to send me your family recipes is December 30. Go here to read all the rules. While you're cooking up your old family recipes for the holidays, just send me the link to your recipe, a picture and you can be in the roundup!

Now, for the Peanut Butter Fudge! I'm not a master candy maker, but my Mother taught me how to make fudge, so I usually make it at Christmas time. Mom made chocolate fudge every year that I can remember, and later when I married, I learned how to make Peanut Butter Fudge. It's not hard, but you do have to plan for time to do it. You must have all the ingredients ready before you begin. Have the dish that is going to hold the fudge already buttered. Do not answer the phone-let the answering machine pick up your calls. If you get sidetracked, you can overcook the fudge, which is not a good idea. After saying all that, fudge does not take much time to make really, maybe 20 minutes from start to finish. So it's not time consuming to make, but you just can't leave it alone after starting. I learned how to make fudge the old fashioned way, by testing for the soft-ball stage using a bowl of cold water. Taking a spoon of the boiling candy liquid, you pour it into the bowl of cold water to see if it makes a soft ball. With your finger, you try pushing the syrup into a soft ball. If removed from the water, the ball will lose its shape. This is called the soft ball stage. The easiest way to do this is by using a candy thermometer. Clip it to the side if the pan and when the boiling syrup reaches 235 degrees, it is at the soft ball stage.

Believe it or not, the weather can affect your candy. If the air is humid, the cooking time can be longer and the candy may take longer to set up. If possible, make your candy on a day with low humidity. I found this yummy recipe in an old church cookbook that I've had since before I was married. Translation: I've had this about 35 years, but it's a good one! The fudge is rich, creamy and decadent and so delicious that I doubled the recipe! I promise that I gave half of it away! This fudge is far too tempting to have a large pan lingering in my house, because I'm weak, very weak. Use the best ingredients that you can afford as sometimes off brands do not perform well. This recipe makes a small pan of fudge, so it's a good one to start with. Let's begin, shall we?


2 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 cup crunchy style peanut butter

1 cup marshmallow cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Butter a 8x8 inch pan and set aside. In a large, heavy bottomed pan, combine the sugar and milk. Heat pan over medium heat until the sugar mixture comes to a rolling boil. A rolling boil means that there will be lots of large bubbles breaking the surface of the mixture as it cooks. The syrup will rise high up in the pan, so make sure you do use a large pot. Clip a candy thermometer inside the rim of the pan, making sure it reaches into the hot syrup. Carefully stir the boiling syrup with a wooden spoon to keep it from sticking. Continue to cook the fudge to the soft ball stage, 235 degrees F. Remove the pan from the burner and stir in the butter, marshmallow cream, peanut butter, and vanilla. Stir until the fudge starts to thicken and the ingredients are well combined. There should not be visible white streaks from the marshmallow cream. Carefully pour the hot fudge into the prepared pan. Do not scrape the hot fudge off the sides of the pan, as it will contain hardened sugar crystals that will tend to make your fudge grainy. Smooth out the fudge and let it cool away from the hot stove. It will take at least 2 hours to completely cool, maybe more. Cut into squares and enjoy this creamy confection! This fudge may be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or more. Let it come to room temperature before serving. However, I've never had a pan of fudge last that long. I add it to goodie trays and we eat the rest. This is awesome Peanut Butter Fudge!
NOTE: Some recipes suggest using a wet pastry brush to wash down the sides of the pan as the fudge cooks, to keep sugar crystals from forming. I have not tried this, so if you have and it works, please let me know in the comments!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Creamy Herbed Potatoes (from the Pioneer Woman)

A few weeks ago, I won "The Pioneer Woman Cooks", cookbook from a contest on Lisa's blog, The Cutting Edge of Ordinary! This is a wonderful blog with tons of luscious looking food. I was so excited to win Ree's cookbook. The photos are beautiful, of course, and all the recipes so yummy looking. So, I tried her Creamy Herbed Potatoes recipe . Talk about smooth, creamy and delicious potatoes! They are a "10", and I'll make them again as they go with so many different entrees. Perfect with meatloaf or a roast, or even fish, and also great served for the holidays!
I didn't have chives to use, because my plant froze; nor did I use heavy cream in the recipe. I substituted half and half for the cream. I also only made half a recipe, but they are good, real good. They are rich, but worth every bite. If your looking for a potato dish for Christmas, this might be just for you! You can find the recipe here. Tommorrow, I'll be sharing a sweet recipe!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Orange-Glazed Pork Loin Roast

I've been making this tender and delicious Pork Loin roast for a number of years now. I found the recipe in an old Taste of Home magazine and it never fails to please my family of carnivores. The Orange Glaze compliments the pork perfectly, adding a flavorful citrus and Dijon touch to the lightly herbed roast. I don't coat the Pork Loin with too much herb coating as I've found it can over power the flavor of the Orange Sauce. This is a great family dish, but it also is a perfect roast for a holiday table or buffet. I slice it about 1/4 inch thick and normally serve the sauce in a separate dish. If you use a much larger roast, you may want to double the sauce, as it really is delicious. I've also found that a meat thermometer is important when roasting a pork loin as the meat is pretty lean, so if it is over cooked it tends to dry out. The recipe calls for the temperature to reach 160 degrees for the roast to be done. This one reached almost 165 and it was perfect for us, being only slightly pink and very moist. Give this a try! Here's how;

(slightly adapted from Taste of Home)

1 boneless pork loin roast( this one was 3 1/4 pounds, but there are larger ones)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 tsp. thyme leaves (I used frozen thyme from my garden)
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground ginger


1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the minced garlic, thyme, ginger, salt and pepper and sprinkle over all sides of the pork loin. Place roast fat side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Bake uncovered for about 1 hour for a 3- 3 1/2 pound roast, before adding the glaze. Meanwhile, make the Orange Glaze.
In a sauce pan, combine the brown sugar, and cornstarch. Stir in the rest of glaze ingredients until smooth. Bring to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes while continuing to stir. Remove from heat. Separate some of the glaze into a small bowl for using to brush on the roast.
Now, back to the roast. Remove the roast from the oven and brush with some of the glaze and place pork loin back into the oven. My 3 1/4 pound roast baked for about another hour, bring the total roasting time to 2 hours. I brushed the roast with the orange glaze 3 times during the last hour of cooking. Place a meat thermometer into the roast. It should reach 160 degrees to be done. I let mine reach 165. Roasting too long though will give you dry meat. When done remove the roast from oven and loosely tent with foil to keep warm for about 10-15 minutes. It is important to let the meat rest so to let the juices settle in the meat. Slice pork loin and serve with the orange glaze on the side. I served this roast with the Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes with Herbs, Green Beans Almondine, and rolls. Enjoy!
NOTE: If roasting a 5 pound or larger pork loin, let it cook for 2 hours before brushing it with the Orange Glaze. This will give the roast time to get a nice crust so to seal in the juices. Also, different ovens vary, so using the meat thermometer is important. Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes with Herbs

I cooked a Pork Loin Roast the other night and wanted a potato side dish that was easy. I love them roasted in the oven, but my kids prefer mashed, so I decided on these yummy Yukon Gold Potatoes. They have such a creamy, almost buttery texture that makes them so addictive. When prepared just partially mashed, or "smashed", they are delicious. I did not add roasted garlic, but you could, if desired. I did not peel the potatoes, but that's your choice. Shredded cheese could also be incorporated in this dish. Here's what I do.
from Lynda's Recipe Box

2 pounds small Yukon Gold Potatoes, washed and scrubbed
1/2 cup of Half and Half
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped, or more, fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh, chopped chives
4 tablespoons butter, unsalted
salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper)

Place washed potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook potatoes until tender. Drain water off of potatoes. Add butter and let potatoes rest while butter melts. Now, take a potato masher and break up the potatoes. I like to leave small chunks in them. Add the half and half, sour cream and herbs and salt and pepper and stir into the potatoes with a spoon. Now, it's time to taste and adjust the salt and pepper,if needed. Also, if you need more sour cream, stir more in. It kind of goes by personal taste preference at this point as to how much cream, or salt and pepper to add. Next time I'll use a little more chives. These lovely golden potatoes are a perfect side dish for any entree. My next post will be the pork roast. Enjoy!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hamburger Stew

Do you have a dish in your family that you've made so often that you could do it blindfolded? I could this one. My Grandmother used to make this Hamburger Stew and likewise my Mother, and I've made it for years too. My husband loves to take this delicious stew to work with him as it's quite filling. It's a perfect soup for using up whatever leftover vegetables you may have in the refrigerator or odds and ends of fresh vegetables hiding in the crisper. Use as many vegetables as you want. I have no written recipe for this; we just throw in whatever is on hand. So, this is a recipe of how I made it this time. I made this huge batch today and enjoyed it immensely on this windy, cold day. We're expecting snow flurries tonight or tomorrow, so this soup will be warm and comforting. Served with homemade rolls or cornbread, it is the perfect comfort meal! Let me tell you how I made it.
HAMBURGER STEW- from Lynda's Recipe Box

Ingredients vary according to what you want to use, or what is on hand.

2 pounds lean ground beef

1 small onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)

2 stalks celery, diced - I include the leaves

2 cans of diced tomatoes (15 ounces), or whole tomatoes, broken up

2 cans of beef broth (low sodium)

1/2 pound carrots, or more, peeled and diced

1 1/2 cups green beans, fresh, frozen or canned

about 1 1/2 cups frozen corn (or fresh or canned)

about1 1/2 cups frozen peas

1 small, diced zucchini, if desired

about 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped green cabbage

5 or 6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced

salt (I used 2 tsp., but I cook low salt so you may need more than this)

pepper, about 1/4 tsp.

water; add enough to cover ingredients in final cooking

In a soup pot over medium high heat, brown the ground beef until done. Drain off any grease. Add onion and cook until slightly softened. Add the celery, tomatoes, carrots and beef broth. Season with 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. If more liquid is needed to cover everything, add a little water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for about 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients; the corn, peas, zucchini, if using, cabbage and potatoes. Add enough water to the pot to just cover the vegetables. Cover and cook another 40 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed. I think the longer you cook it, the better the taste. The cabbage adds a lot of depth of flavor too, and this stew gets better every day! I sometimes add okra too, but I don't always have it. My mother would also add a few turnips to the pot, but my husband doesn't like them, so no turnips for us! Thyme is a great herb flavor for this soup, and sometimes oregano is my fave. It just depends what ingredients I use.

I've had people tell me their families also made this type of dish. Some have called it "Everything but the Kitchen Sink Soup". Do you or someone you know make stew similar to this? If so, what is it called? I'd love to know.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Daughter's Apple Pie- Her Thanksgiving Contribution

My little girl is growing up. Actually she's 21, a college student and works about 30 hours a week. But she likes to bake, so when she wanted to make apple pie for Thanksgiving, I wasn't going to stop her. This is her second time making Apple Pie and she even made homemade crust. I didn't try making crust until I was in my thirties, so I 'm impressed! She likes to arrange the apples in
a spiral pattern, adding sugar and cinnamon as she goes. It was pretty, and tasted divine, I tell you. Apple Pie happens to be my all time favorite dessert, so this was a real treat. I helped her

with peeling the apples as she had two pies to make, one for our house and she took one to her boyfriend's family dinner. I made a Pumpkin Pie also, so she made a crust recipe from Paula Deans website. One recipe was enough for our three pies. The crust was so flaky! I can't give you an exact recipe for the filling, but close to what she did.
For the Apple Pie Filling:
7 good sized Granny Smith Apples, peeled and cored
about 3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1-2 tsp. lemon
2 tablespoons flour
about 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
Pie crust from here
Roll out the dough for the bottom crust and place in pie pan. Mix apples and rest of ingredients together. Arrange mixture in pie crust. Cut up the butter into peices and dot all over the apples. Roll out dough for top crust and place on top of apples. Seal edges and flute. She brushed milk over the crust and sprinkled granulated sugar on top. The pies baked at 4oo for about 15 minutes and then she dropped the temperature to 350. Bake for another 30-40 minutes, until done.
Not only did we have delicious homemade pie for our Thanksgiving dinner, I had yet another opportunity to spend time with my lovely daughter, baking, laughing and totally making a disaster in the kitchen! What fun, the laughing that is, not the cleaning up. But we made memories!

NOTE: We have decided that we like using 2 different kinds of apples for pie;
Granny Smith's for sure, and Gala's. The mixture seem's to make a more flavorful filling.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Family Recipes: Memories of Family, Food and Fun

I am so excited to be co-hosting Family Recipes: Memories of Family, Food and Fun, for the month of March! It has been hosted by Laura, of The Spiced Life, and Shelby, of The Life and Loves of Grumphy's Honeybunch, for several months now, and I was thrilled when they asked if I wanted to join them! I love hearing stories and traditions of food in the lives of families. So make a recipe and share the memories that are connected with it. The deadline date changes monthly, but normally it will end around the last Saturday of the month.

1. Make a dish that's a family recipe-from mom, dad, aunts, in-laws, or your own family, that you have enjoyed for along time.

2. Post it on your blog between now and midnight, March 31, 2009 (USA EST). All submissions must be in English.

3.Provide a link in your post to this page and this blog.

4. Email me at whatscookin52@sbcglobal.net by12:00 AM, Midnight, March 30, 2009 (USA EST) with:
. the recipe name
. the URL of the post
. the URL of your blog
. your location

5. Please place a copy of the logo on your post, if possible.

6. Multiple submissions are welcome, but please only 1 submission for for each type of dish (main dish, appetizer, dessert, etc.).

7. New posts only, please.

8. You are welcome to send the photo you want published in the round-up. If you don't submit a photo however,we will choose one from your post.

With all the cooking going on this month for the different holidays, there should be some delicious family recipes being made. If you haven't checked out the recipes for January's Family Recipes, check out Shelby's blog at The Life and Loves of Grumphy's Honeybunch, for some tasty looking submissions!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

My Mother's Chicken (or turkey) Pot Pie

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! If you still have turkey leftovers, this Pot Pie would be a good choice to make. This is similar to my Mother's Pot Pie. I say similar, because she did not use a written recipe, so I've had to write one so that I could pass this on to my kids. This was one of my favorite meals when I was growing up. My brother and I came running to the table when we knew this delicious Pot Pie was on the menu for dinner. Most of the time Mom used chicken for this recipe except at Thanksgiving when we had turkey. She always used Bisquick to make the biscuits on top, which is an easy choice of topping. That's what I used this time because I was lazy! But, of course you can use your homemade biscuit recipe in its place. Or use a pie crust topping, if desired. It will taste delicious either way. Likewise, my husband and kids
love this dish! When my kids were little, this was one of the few meals that everyone would eat. I had a couple of picky eaters, so when the weather is cool, this Pot Pie has been a staple in my recipe rotation. It's hard to pass up such good comfort food! I'm submitting this recipe to Shelby, of The Life and Loves of Grumpey's Honeybunch and Laura, of The Spiced Life, for November's Family Recipes, Memories of Family, Food and Fun. Be sure to check out their blogs for other submissions.

3 cups cooked, shredded chicken or turkey
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour, plus 1 tablespoon
1 cup diced onion
1 stalk diced celery
2 1/2 cups chicken or turkey broth
1/2 cup milk, or you may use more broth, if desired
16 ounces of frozen vegetables, or use an equal amount of leftover veggies
salt and pepper to taste-I used 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp.pepper, but it will depend on whether you use canned broth or your own broth.

TOPPING: Either use your own biscuit recipe, or use about 2 cups of Bisquick and mix according to box directions.

This recipe is easy to adapt to what you have on hand. I used mixed, frozen vegetables, but you could also use peas and carrots or even add mushrooms, if desired.
In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat and saute the onion and celery until soft. Stir in the 1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon flour until smooth. Pour in the 2 1/2 cups broth; stir until combined and bring to a boil. Simmer until thickened and then cook a couple of minutes. Stir in the milk and bring back to simmer. Now, add the frozen vegetables and turkey. Mix well and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour mixture into a 3 quart baking dish. Stir up the biscuit topping and place tablespoonfuls on top of potpie. Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until the biscuits are done. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Herb Dip (and a Happy Thanksgiving!)

I was wanting a yummy dip to have on hand this Thanksgiving weekend, one that would be good with veggies. I found this one from Ina Garten and it's delicious! This creamy, flavorful dip is full of fresh herbs and scallions in a smooth cream cheese, mayo and sour cream base. I wouldn't make this without the fresh herbs as I don't think the dried stuff will give it the flavor to be tasty. The fresh dill is fantastic. I love it! If you need a dip for the guys watching football this weekend, or just something besides turkey leftovers to snack on, this dip could be the answer!

HERB DIP - slightly adapted from Ina Garten
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature - I used low fat
1/2 sour cream - I used low fat
1/2 cup mayo
4 scallions, white and green parts, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt - I used 1/2 teaspoon
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
Place the cream cheese, mayo and sour cream in a bowl and blend with electric mixer. Stir in the herbs and refrigerate for several hours so flavors come together. Serve at room temperature with veggies of choice. The herb flavors are amazing, as long as they are fresh. Enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving to all! I so enjoy all my blogging friends and I'm so thankful that each of you come by to read my blog. And you even leave comments! I also appreciate all of my readers that come quietly here to look for recipes. I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thank you for including me in your lives!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Are you ready for Thanksgiving?

Fruit Salad with Apples and Pomegranate

Do you have your Thanksgiving dinner plans finalized? If not, my Fruit Salad with Apples and Pomegranate is a delicious side dish. Here's some other ideas for the big dinner:
Cranberry Apple Relish




I just started my blog about 1 year ago, so last year I had very few holiday recipes on here. I still have a lot to add, but maybe I can help you out. These are some last minute ideas to check out, along with my Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar, Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad, Apple Cake, and maybe a Four Layer Pudding Dessert. Check through my sides dishes on the side bar for other ideas. I'm doing as much as possible ahead of time so that Thanksgiving won't be stress-out time! The turkey is thawing in the refrigerator, and I'm making rolls and the Cranberry Apple Relish right now. More Later!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar

Do you like Brussels Sprouts? I love the little cabbages, but my husband doesn't and he has turned the kids against them too! All these years of marriage and I haven't been able to convince him otherwise. So, sometimes when I know I'm going to be alone for a meal, I buy Brussels Sprouts and cook them just for me! That's what I did tonight, roasting them in the oven until tender.
After the ends were cut off, I cut each sprout in half, added a few slices of red onion, some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. These were extra delicious and would make a great addition at any meal. Do you need a vegetable for your holiday meals? These sprouts were sweet and delicious and quick to roast. They are best served immediately after cooking.

1 pound of fresh Brussels sprouts
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
sea salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon toasted walnuts or pine nuts, optional
Wash Brussels sprouts well; cut stem ends off and remove any dry outer leaves. Cut spouts in half. In a bowl add spouts, onion, oil, and vinegar and toss until oil is distributed. Arrange on a baking sheet and and season with sea salt and pepper. Place in a 4oo degree oven and roast for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Test for doneness by piercing with a fork. If they need to roast longer return to oven, but take a spatula and turn them over to brown evenly. The size of the sprouts will determine the length of roasting time. When done, place Brussels Sprouts in a serving bowl and top with toasted nuts, if desired. You can also add some cooked, crumbled bacon, yum! In case you didn't notice, I was out of walnuts, but I really wanted some crunchy nuts with this dish, so I added pecans. Hehe- I guess this would be a southern touch, but hey, they tasted great! Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Filling

I made some delicious pumpkin bread last week. I normally make my mother's delicious recipe, but when I saw this recipe at Joy of Baking, I knew I wanted to try it. This pumpkin bread has a layer of cream cheese filling through it which makes it a little different from the usual. Half of the batter is spooned into the loaf pans and the yummy cream cheese filling is smoothed over the top. Then, the rest of the pumpkin mixture is spooned over the top and spread out evenly. Unfortunately, that part was harder because the filling is rather runny whereas the batter is thicker, which makes it sink into the filling. I got it spread out as well as I could. Even though I do not have a pretty cream cheese layer, the bread is so moist and subtly spiced. The cream cheese layer is a delicious touch. It makes two loaves, one to eat and one to share!

Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Filling

Pumpkin Bread:
1 cup pecans or walnuts ( I didn't use them)
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (my addition)
4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup water
1 - 15 ounce can pure pumpkin
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Filling:
8 ounce package of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon ( my addition)
Mix all ingredients for the cream cheese layer together.

For the bread:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease and flour 2 9x5x3 inch loaf pans. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, soda salt and spices. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, pumpkin, butter, water and vanilla together.
Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until just combined.
Divide the batter in half. Take one half and divide it evenly between the two loaf pans. Spread out evenly. Divide the cream cheese mixture between the 2 pans, smoothing it out evenly. Top with the remaining pumpkin batter, smoothing it out as best you can. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Place pans on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Remove bread from pans.
I prefer to let it cool before serving. Enjoy!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Butternut Orzo Risotto

Quite a few years ago, my Mother gave me a gift subscription to "Country Woman" magazine, a sister publication of "Taste of Home". I've enjoyed reading each issue from cover to cover, and each time it arrives in my mailbox, I think of my Mom's gift. Since my Mom passed away 3 years ago, I still continue to receive it as many of the stories in it make me think of her. Plus, there are some good recipes, like this Butternut Orzo Risotto, that I tried this week. I love butternut squash, so when I spied this recipe in the October/November issue, I knew I had to try it. It is delicious and not hard to make. The most time consuming part is peeling and cubing the squash. My photos for this step were not great, so please check out A Veggie Venture, for a great tutorial on cutting up this squash. This informative post written by Allana, is quite helpful if you don't know how to wrangle the large squash. So, after you get the squash cubed, it is roasted in the oven in some olive oil until tender. Don't over cook it! While it roasts in the oven, saute onion in a skillet, then add garlic and the orzo along with chicken broth. It is stirred constantly just as if you were making risotto with rice, and then

adding more broth as it absorbed. After broth is absorbed, throw in some herbs and mix in the tender roasted butternut squash. It looks beautiful, smells wonderfully herby

and tastes delicious! I love squash anyway, but it was fantastic prepared this way. My husband gave it a "10", so that means it's good, real good! I hope you'll try it!

BUTTERNUT ORZO RISOTTO (slightly adapted)
3 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash (about 1/2 inch cubes)
2 tsp. olive oil (recipe calls for 1 tsp.)
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. pepper, divided
3 cups lowfat, reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup diced onion ( recipe calls for 1 small onion)
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp. fresh thyme (recipe calls for 1/2 tsp.)
1 1/2 tsp. fresh sage. minced ( I used 1/2 tsp. rubbed sage)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley ( 2T. in recipe)
shaved Parmesan cheese, optional
Place cubed squash in a greased baking sheet and drizzle with the 2 tsp. olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and 1/8 tsp. butter. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes til tender, but not mushy. Meanwhile, heat the chicken broth in a small sauce pan or in the microwave. In a large skillet, saute onion in melted butter until tender. Add orzo and garlic and stir for 2-3 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of the warm broth and continue to stir until all the broth is absorbed. Add the remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time. Allow liquid to absorb before adding more. Cook until risotto is creamy and orzo is almost tender, or al dente. Cooking time is about 15-20 minutes. Add the herbs, remaining 1/8 tsp. pepper and the roasted squash. Toss gently. Garnish with shaved Parmesan, if desired.
I loved the mix of flavors in this dish, I only regret that I didn't have fresh sage to use. Next time, I'll definitely buy some. The roasted squash is delicious, of course, but with the fresh thyme mixed in it was heavenly. I'll be making this often, as I couldn't quit eating it! Makes about 4 servings. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Turkey Tetrazzini

I had hoped to post this morning, but it didn't work out. I just want to say a big "Thank you" to all of our veterans and the men and women who are currently serving in our military. Thank you for sacrificing to serve our country and protect our freedoms! My father, father-in-law and my husband all served during war time, and I'm very proud of them. God Bless all of you on this Veterans Day and every day!
And of course, this is a recipe blog, so we must have food! I made this yummy Tetrazzini this week only I used chicken instead of turkey. But of course, left over Thanksgiving turkey is perfect for this dish. I included the mushrooms this time, even though my son protested. He says he does not like "fungi" in his food, but I just didn't listen to him! This is comfort food with the creamy Parmesan sauce, mushrooms and pasta. I found this recipe at Epicurious a few years ago and it has become a staple in our family. I hope you enjoy it.
A white sauce is made with milk, flour and Parmesan cheese, and then mixed with turkey or chicken and some pasta. Add in the mushrooms and peas and top with crumbs. Dot with butter.

Bake until golden and bubbly. It's a comforting casserole that is so good any time of the year, but especially in the colder months. Serve with a veggie or salad and maybe some crusty bread.

TURKEY TETRAZZINI- adapted from Epicurious
2-3 cups cooked turkey or chicken, chopped
8-10 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
4 T. butter
1/4 cup flour
1 3/4 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup half and half (recipe calls for white wine)
10 ounces spaghetti, cooked and drained
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 more T. butter
Cook the spaghetti to package directions. In a large, heavy saucepan cook the mushrooms in 4 tablespoons of butter, over medium heat, stirring until most of their liquid they give off has evaporated. Stir in the flour over low heat for about 3 minutes. Whisk in the broth, milk and half and half. Bring to a simmer and cook until sauce has thickened. Stir in 2/3 cup of Parmesan cheese. Add the peas and salt and pepper. Taste and add more salt or pepper, if needed. Mix in the cooked, drained spaghetti and transfer the mixture to a buttered 3 quart casserole dish. A 9x 13 baking dish works for this dish. In a small bow combine the remaining 1/3 cup of Parmesan, the bread crumbs and 1 T. melted butter and sprinkle over the Tetrazzini. Dot with the remaining tablespoon of butter. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until it is bubbling and the top is golden. Dig in!
How do you use left-over turkey?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cranberry Apple Relish

Thanksgiving isn't far away and I'm planning my menu. We will only have a few at the table this year, but I still want it to be special. I love dishes that can be prepared a day or two ahead so that the day of the dinner I don't have so much to do. Cranberry Apple Relish can be made a couple days ahead of when you plan to serve it. This is a very simple relish with only five
ingredients! It can't get much easier, or more flavorful! Tart cranberries are cooked with apples and cinnamon to make a quick but delicious relish. I originally found this recipe in Country Living magazine, but I've changed it some. Hope you enjoy!

CRANBERRY APPLE RELISH- from Lynda's Recipe Box

1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries, picked over
1 1/2 pounds sweet cooking apples, I used Gala (about 4 medium), peeled, halved, cored and sliced
1 1/2 cups apple juice, or water
2 -3inch long cinnamon sticks, or 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar, or more (to taste) ;I used close to a cup
In a large sauce pan pour the apple juice or water and the cinnamon sticks. Bring to boiling over high heat. Add the cranberries and cook until most of the berries pop. Stir sugar and apples into cranberry mixture and return to boiling. Remove from heat and discard cinnamon sticks, if using. At this point, it's important to taste the relish to see if you need more sugar. The original recipe was not sweetened, relying upon the apple juice and apples to add enough sweetness. But it needs sugar, so I start with the half cup and go from there. Even with this amount of sugar, the relish will still be on the tart side. Also, the apples will cook just enough to be tender, but not mushy. Cool to room temperature and transfer to a covered container. Refrigerate. This simple, but delicious relish will thicken when refrigerated. My husband and daughter love this relish because it has only a few ingredients. Apples and cranberries, with cinnamon, are just perfect together and are delicious on the holiday table. Do you like cranberry relish?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Barbecue Meatballs (Baked)

This is one of those recipes that could be classified as "comfort food", because it's a very satisfying older recipe. It was given to me by an older lady in our church, who is a great cook. She makes these yummy meatballs for a lot of different occasions, from church and funeral dinners that we ladies cook for families of members who have passed away, to holiday parties. People almost start fights over the last few of these luscious meatballs! The meatballs are tender and covered in a sweet, tangy and easy to make sauce. I made these a bit smaller than a golf ball and had them for dinner with some garlic mashed potatoes. My family loves the tangy sauce!

But, these tasty Barbecued Meatballs are wonderful made a bit smaller and served for all kinds of get togethers. Are the guys coming over to watch football? Serve these. Having a small party and want some easy dishes? Make these! They go together quickly. Here's how.
BARBECUE MEATBALLS- from Lynda's Recipe Box
3 pounds lean ground chuck (the leaner, the better)
2 cups oatmeal (I use quick oats)
1 1/2 cups milk (recipe calls for 12 ounces canned milk)
1/2 garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. chili powder
1 cup diced onion
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Make into balls and place into baking pan. I used a large roasting pan to hold them all. Make sauce.
2 cups ketchup
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup diced onion
2 tsp. liquid smoke
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
Mix all ingredients and pour over the meatballs. Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes.
TIP: Use at least 80-20 lean beef, as fatty beef will yield more grease in the sauce. You can also make these the day before you want to serve them, and then reheat before serving.
If you are serving these for a small family, the recipe can easily be halved. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream Sauce

One of my family's favorite meals is enchiladas. I've already shared my Shredded Beef Enchiladas with you. It happens to be one of the most popular posts in Lynda's Recipe Box! Today, I'll share my favorite recipe for Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream Sauce. I've been experimenting with these for several years now and I'm finally happy with the results. The chicken filling has just the right amount of spiciness to go with the creamy sauce and melted cheese. The addition of Salsa Verde to the white sauce really is a flavor booster! This recipe is easy to adjust to your own tastes and ingredients that you have on hand. I prefer using corn tortillas, but you may substitute the flour tortillas, if you wish. The corn tortillas need to be softened before filling. There are a couple of ways to do this. Some cooks have good luck warming the corn tortillas in the microwave, however, it doesn't work for me. They still fall apart too much, so I always resort to softening them in a skillet with just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Lay the tortilla in the hot pan and let it come to a sizzle and flip it over with tongs. Let the tortilla start to bubble and remove from the skillet and lay on paper towels to drain and cool. You'll need 10-12 corn tortillas for a 9x13 inch pan.
You may use leftover chicken or turkey for these luscious enchiladas. Or, you may use skinless, boneless chicken breasts. Either simmer them in water for about 15-20 minutes or bake in the oven. When done, shred or chop the meat. For a super easy idea, buy a rotisserie chicken from your local deli and take the meat off the bones. I like to cook a whole chicken in the crock pot for the meat because I love the flavor of the white and dark meat together, but any of these suggestions will work. I used the boneless chicken breasts this time, about 1 1/2 pounds, cooked, shredded and then coarsely chopped. To assemble, pour some white sauce in the bottom of baking dish. Fill each tortilla with chicken mixture and wrap up and place in baking pan. Pour more white sauce over enchiladas and top with cheese. Bake and devour! Let's make them!
from Lynda's Recipe Box
For chicken filling;
About 3 cups of cooked, shredded chicken
1/2 cup of sour cream sauce, (recipe below), or just enough to moisten chicken
1 4 ounce can of chopped, green chilies
1/2 cup diced onion, lightly sauteed in small amount of oil (optional)
1 cup of shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese, or cheddar
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
Sour Cream Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth or stock, or 1 can purchased broth
1 -7 ounce can of Salsa Verde, or equivalent from a jar of Salsa Verde (green salsa)
1/2-1 cup of sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and saute just til fragrant. Add the flour and stir to make a roux. Pour in the chicken broth and Salsa Verde and whisk until it comes to a simmer. Cook until sauce is thickened. It will be sauce like, not too thick. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the sour cream. Taste to see if you want to add more sour cream. Cool.
Other ingredients;
12 corn tortillas
2 cups of shredded Monterrey Jack or cheddar cheese
To assemble enchiladas:
Pour about 1 cup of sour cream sauce in a 9x13 inch baking pan. Soften tortillas in oil or in the microwave. Lay out tortilla and add about 1/3 cup of chicken filling to each tortilla. Wrap it up and lay it in the pan. Repeat with remaining filling and tortillas. It will take 10-12 tortillas.
Pour remaining sour cream sauce over the rolled enchiladas. You may not wish to use it all, go by your own preference here. Sprinkle more cheese over tops of enchiladas. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 25- 30 minutes, or until bubbly. Cool a few minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped green onions and cilantro, if desired. Enjoy!
NOTE: This dish may be prepared early in day and refrigerated; then bake at dinner time a few minutes longer.
If you prefer some onion and peppers in the sauce, just add some diced jalapenos and onion to the butter and cook until softened, then stir in the flour and broth and finish. We love the Salsa Verde in the white sauce as it gives just enough spicy flavor to this delicious dish. The 1/2 cup of sour cream seems just right, flavorful, but not over powering.
I love serving these Chicken Enchiladas with my Tex-Mex Rice and a simple salad, plus some Guacamole Dip and chips. This is a great meal any time of year!