Monday, June 25, 2012

Homemade Lemonade

A tall glass of lemonade is what is needed in this hot weather. The temperatures have been climbing and it has reached 103 degrees today, so Homemade Lemonade has really hit the spot. It isn't hard to make, but you will need alot of lemons. Your reward is a delicious, tangy and refreshing drink.
I'm keeping this post short today. We are expecting a new grandbaby to be born this week. Labor is to start Wednesday morning, unless baby decides to come earlier. We are so excited to say the least! My mind is thinking only baby thoughts today, but I wanted to share a cooling refreshment with you too. Have a great day! Try to stay cool if you are experiencing this heat wave too.

Homemade Lemonade
Adapted from Gina Neely

Make a simple syrup by mixing-
1 cup almost boiling water
1 cup granulated sugar
Mix the two together until the sugar is desolved. Let cool.

To 2 quart pitcher add;
6 cups cold water
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
the cooled syrup
Mix and chill well. Serve over ice.
The recipe calls for 1 lemon to be sliced and added to the lemonade as well. You may need to add another cup of cold water with the lemon slices.
I loved this as made, but my husband prefers it a bit sweeter. So you may have to adjust the sweetness, tartness to your own tastes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Simply Sinful Cinnamon Muffins (Or, Heavenly Cinnamon Muffins, I Say)

 If you love the taste and fragrance of cinnamon, you will adore these  fantastic Cinnamon Muffins. The house smells amazing as these tender , fragrant muffins bake. Really, these are some of the best muffins I have ever had, and my husband who is not as excited about muffins as I am, has devoured them, singing their praises with each bite! I've made them a couple of times so far, and gave some of this batch away as soon as they were out of the oven. I find them addictive and hard to resist, so better some of them are at my son's house.
 The downside to these  Cinnamon Muffins is that I use 4 bowls to mix these up. One bowl for the topping, one for the filling, and two for the batter. But they are worth it once you take a bite. There is a pocket of moist, rich cinnamon filling, plus cinnamon chips are mixed in the batter for even more flavor. I added more cinnamon to the nutty streusel topping too. The recipe states that you can add a confectioners sugar glaze to the top of the muffins, and truly it does dress them up, but it's is not needed at all. I did half with a glaze and the others without. Both ways are delicious. I hope all you cinnamon lovers out there will give these Sinful Cinnamon Muffins a try. They won't disappoint.
Simply Sinful Cinnamon Muffins
Slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour
Note: This recipe is supposed to make 12 muffins, but I made 15 this time. When I first made these, the batter spread out over the pan and I lost some of my filling. So making 15 instead works for me.

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans- walnuts or almonds are good too
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons soft butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
In a bowl, mix all ingredients together until crumbly. Set aside.

3 tablespoons soft butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon- I used Saigon Cinnamon
Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Add 1 teaspoon of water if needed to get it creamed together. It will be thick, like brownie batter.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup cinnamon chips- I used Hershey's- you can substitute butterscotch chips instead, if desired

Preheat oven to 4oo degrees F. Line 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake papers, or grease it. (I used 15 muffin cups.)
1. In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter, milk and eggs together. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients, including the cinnamon chips. Add the dry mixture to the liquid, and stir until just combined.
2. Divide half the batter among the muffins cups. Dollop about 2 teaspoons of cinnamon filling onto each muffin. (IF you make 15 muffins, you'll use about 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon filling). Top with the remaining batter. Sprinkle with crumbly topping. Press it in lightly.
3. Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes, until they are golden brown. Remove from the oven, but wait 5 minutes before transferring them from the pan to a rack to cool.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Apple Bacon Coleslaw

 What a great combination for coleslaw; cabbage, bacon, apples, bacon- oh I already said bacon didn't I.  Well this coleslaw is very flavorful and rather different than any I've ever eaten before, but my husband and I both loved it. The dressing has a tang from lemon juice, cider vinegar and mustard, but that is tempered by just a bit of sugar and mayo. Then when you mix in the apples and bacon and sweet onion, this slaw really pops with fantastic flavor. I couldn't stay out of it! I found a couple of recipes that were similar, and ended up using elements of each to make this recipe. I had a small, 1 pound head of cabbage at home and wanted to try another version of coleslaw other than my husbands all time favorite. You could also use a purchased 16 ounce bag of shredded cabbage if desired.
 I sliced the cabbage by hand as my food processor grates much finer than I wanted for this recipe. To begin cutting the cabbage, cut the head in half with a large, sharp knife through the core. Then slice each cabbage half in half again through the core also. Then you will be able to stand each quarter of cabbage up and slice the core right off. Now you can lay each section of cabbage on its side and slice thinly though it until you are done. I coarsely chopped the cabbage then. It really doesn't take long to slice one pound of cabbage. Two pounds is another story. If you are looking for a slaw that is delicious, yet different from the ordinary, this may be the one for you to try. The sweetness of the apples contrasted wonderfully with the saltiness of the bacon and both made this slaw very tasty. I will definitely be making it again.

Apple Bacon Coleslaw
Inspired by Natasha, Tyler and Mr. Food

1 pound head of cabbage, or a 1 pound bag of purchased, pre-shredded  cabbage
1/2 of a sweet onion, diced-I used a Vidalia onion
2 apples, unpeeled, diced- I used Gala
about 2 tablespoons fresh chives, snipped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4-6 slices of bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled

In a large bowl, mix together the mayo, mustard, sugar, lemon, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar and salt together. Taste, and if the dressing needs more tang, add the other tablespoon of vinegar. Add the shredded cabbage, apples, onion, and the chives and toss well with the dressing. Top with the crumbled bacon before serving. This slaw can be served immediately, or coverer and chilled until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Father's Day Food Ideas

 Do you have plans to cook for dear old dad this weekend? We almost always grill outdoors, but I know not everyone likes to grill. Maybe you're wanting to make a tasty breakfast for your dad or your sweetheart. How about starting the day with homemade Biscuits with Sausage Gravy?
 Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes are a delicious start to the day. You can use fresh or frozen berries.
 For a quick breakfast try Asparagus, Ham and Fried Egg Stacks. Yummy! Here's more breakfast ideas.
 Does your guy love Pulled Pork? Make it in the crock pot! Let it cook all day and dinner is ready with enough for company too.
 Does the man of your dreams like Tex-Mex food? I have 3 different enchilada recipes. Shown are Chicken Enchiladas, but check out the others too.
 Like fish? Spicy Sauteed Tilapia with Cherry Tomatoes is a fast dish to pull together, and it tastes fantastic!
 If you want to grill outdoors, try these California Kabobs, using cubes of steak. Fun to eat too. Check out other grilling ideas.
For a quick pasta dish try this Chicken Pomodoro from Cook's Country. It is a quick version that won't keep you in the kitchen very long.

For yummy dessert ideas click here and also look down my left sidebar. Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mediterranean Style Pasta Salad

Well summer is here and I've begun making salads every other day or so.  Seems like they taste so good when the weather gets hot. I made a really good pasta salad last week, then had some computer issues and couldn't post it. But here it is, just in time for Fathers Day. If you are a fan of pasta salad with lots of veggies and a tangy dressing then I'm sure you'll love this. I have fresh herbs in the garden so they flavored this Mediterranean Pasta Salad very nicely. Here's my recipe.

Mediterranean Style Pasta Salad
From Lynda's Recipe Box

12 ounces pasta-I used Rotini
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 or so of a cucumber, peeled and sliced thin, seeded if desired
1/2 half of a red onion, cut in half and sliced thin
1/2 of a green or red bell pepper, diced
1/4-1/2 cup coarsely chopped olives, optional- I used some Kalamata olives
 which my husband did not like, sigh.....
about 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese or crumbled Feta cheese
Dressing ingredients:
2 tablespoons fresh Basil, rolled up and thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, pressed
Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid; shake until well combined

1. Cook pasta according to package directions for al Dente. Drain and rinse thoroughly in with cold water. Drain well.
2. While pasta cooks, make the dressing. Combine all dressing ingredients and set aside.
2. Slice and dice all the vegetables and add to a large bowl. When pasta is drained add to the bowl with the veggies. Pour the dressing over all and stir carefully to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving garnish with some whole Basil leaves and a sprinkle of cheese, if desired. Enjoy! Leftovers taste great too!
NOTE: I like a tangy dressing, so I taste the dressing before I add it to the pasta ingredients, and sometimes I'll add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of vinegar.
If you need some salad ideas for this coming Father's Day dinner, here's a link!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Baked Zucchini Wedges and Sweet Onion Dip

 I have always loved zucchini, especially when it was fried up golden and crisp like my Mother used to make. In my early married years that's how I always used it up too, that and to make quick bread. Fried Squash is delicious, but maybe not always the healthiest choice. I've made fried zucchini sticks before, but when I found this recipe for Baked Zucchini Sticks and Sweet Onion Dip, I had to give it a try. I'm happy to say that this recipe is delicious! The zucchini is dipped in egg, then in a Panko and Parmesan mixture and baked until golden and crisp. It really does hold up well; the squash did not get mushy and the dip, oh that marvelous dip! This is like a Blooming Zucchini with Sweet Onion Dip. It is creamy and full of caramelized onion flavor with a touch of honey and mustard. Take a bite of those crunchy Zucchini Sticks with the fantastic Sweet Onion Dip and it will be hard to stop yourself from eating the whole thing. They make a fantastic appetizer, but I served it just as a side to some burgers for my husband and myself. This dip is addictive and also very good on chips. You must try this soon. Your taste buds will thank you!
Baked Zucchini Sticks and Sweet Onion Dip
Slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour
Step-by-steps on their blog

Note-I wanted to use low-fat sour cream instead of the 1 cup of mayo, but didn't have enough so I used a half cup of each, which was really good.
1 tablespoon butter
1  sweet onion, peeled and sliced thin
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
a pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Zucchini Sticks:
Use 8-10 inch long zucchini. Large baseball bats won't work here! The recipe called for the zucchini to be salted and left to sit in a colander for 1 hour, so liquid could be drained. I skipped that step, as I haven't done that with small squash before. The zucchini turned out just fine.
3 medium zucchini, unpeeled, cut into about 3 inch sticks or wedges
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
scant 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon pizza spices- I used half dried basil and half dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper if desired
2 eggs, beaten
Cooking spray

1. Make the dip- Melt butter in frying pan over medium heat and add the sliced onions. Cook, stirring often until the onions soften, turn golden and caramelize. This will take 10-15 minutes. Lower the heat if needed so onions don't burn
2. Remove onions from heat and add the vinegar.
3. Place the onions in a food processor. Add the honey and mustard and process until smooth. Pour into a bowl. Stir in the low fat sour cream, mayo, salt and pepper, and pinch of cayenne. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
4. To make Zucchini Sticks: Cut squash into about 3 inch long sticks; I cut each zucchini into about 18 sticks, or wedges.
5. Combine the Panko, Parmesan, spices and salt and pepper.
6. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil. Spray with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
7. Use 1 hand for dredging the squash in the egg, and the other hand to roll it in the Panko mixture. That will keep the Panko crumbs dry so they will adhere better. Take one zucchini wedge and dip in egg, then roll in the Panko mixture. Don't shake off too many crumbs. They will adhere better as they bake and form a nice crust.
8. Place zucchini sticks on baking sheet. Bake sticks for 12 minutes and check.
They are supposed to be turned at this point, but I baked them for a few more minutes before turning. All together I baked these about 20 minutes. Just watch them so they don't burn.
9. Serve immediately with the Sweet Onion Dip. Enjoy!
Yield: about 3 dozen zucchini sticks and about 1 1/2 cups delicious dip.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Quick Chicken Stew (A Pantry Stew)

Some days I just have to have soup. Like yesterday, when a cold front came through with winds and rain and the temperature was about 55 degrees. It was cold compared to the low 90's that had been earlier this week. So I decided to whip up a quick stew, or soup, with just ingredients I had on hand. I found 3 chicken thighs in the freezer, and added some vegetables. I would have liked some mushrooms and celery for this, but didn't want to go to the store. So this was our lunch yesterday, with a little left over for today. Tomorrow the temperature will start climbing back up, and stew won't sound good to us then. This Quick Chicken Stew was delicious and hit the spot. And it is satisfying to make something so tasty with just the ingredients you have on hand.
I didn't measure anything, but here's what I did.

Quick Chicken Stew
From Lynda's recipe Box

3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of any visible fat
1/2 of an onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 can low-sodium chicken broth, or equivalent amount of water
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
some baby carrots, cut in half
about 3/4 cup of frozen peas
about 1/4 teaspoon dried Tarragon leaves, or dried Thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Sliced mushrooms and celery are good in this also.
Heat a 3 or 4 quart saucepan over medium heat with about 1 tablespoon oil. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken in the oil, about 2 minutes per side just until browned. Remove chicken to a plate. Add the onion to pan and cook for about 1 minute, adding oil if needed. Then add the minced garlic. Stir in the chicken broth or water, and add the cooked chicken thighs with any accumulated juices from the plate. Stir in the carrots and potatoes. Add water to the pan to completely cover the stew. Bring to a boil, cover pan and reduce heat. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20-30 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate. Add the peas and Tarragon (or Thyme), to the stew and cook about 5 minutes more. Cut the thighs into bite size pieces and add back to the saucepan. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve and enjoy!

NOTE: Sometimes I thicken the broth when I make stews like this, by making a slurry with cornstarch and water. Then just add a little at a time to the stew, stirring. Just add enough to give the broth a slight thickness.