Monday, December 26, 2005

DOB offers a recipe

DOB: Sometime you should make French Onion Soup.

QOC: I don't know how. But I will try to learn sometime.

DOB: It's easy. You just take some soup, and put in onions. And then you add the French seasoning.

QOC: Aah, I see.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Cranberries Anyone?

For our client Christmas party the centerpieces were large glass bowls with floating cranberries and roses. By now you probably get where this post is going. ;-) I ended up with two large boxes of fresh cranberries. And no ideas for what to do with them. For the time being they are hopes that I will find something to use them in. Suggestions?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Chicken That's Special

Alison S. asked me about a chicken and rice dish and I immediately thought of this family favorite, so I thought it might be a good idea to post it here in case the rest of you are interested. I'm not sure where the recipe came from, but my mom's been making it for years. It's delicious!

Chicken That's Special

1) 3-4 chicken breasts
2) 1 can of cream of chicken soup
3) 1/2 cup mayonnaise
4) 1 tsp lemon juice
5) 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
6) 1 Tbs Margarine or butter
7) 1/2 grated cheese

Mix ingredients 2-4 and pour over ingredient chicken. Combine margarine/butter with crumbs and brown. Sprinkle top of chicken dish with cheese and top with browned crumbs.

Bake 30 min at 350ºF.

Serve over cooked rice.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


From my friend Amy

4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin
2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped pecans
Lightly sweetened whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil two 9 1/4 x 5 1/4 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pans. Dust pans with flour. Sift first 6 ingredients into large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat pumpkin and next 4 ingredients in another large bowl to blend. Beat in dry ingredients just until blended. Stir in raisins and pecans. Transfer batter to prepared loaf pans.
Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, covering breads loosely with foil if browning too quickly, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Transfer pans to rack. Cool 15 minutes. Remove breads from pans. Cool slightly. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool completely. Wrap in foil. Store at room temperature. Before continuing, rewarm in 350°F oven 15 minutes.)
Serve breads warm with cream. Makes 2 loaves.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Cheesy Broccoli Potatoes

It's been awhile, and anything I cook these days is in the easy-to-fix-in-a-few-minutes-with-the-assistance-of-a-toddler line. But this got such rave reviews I thought it was worth posting.

Scrub and bake 4-8 potatoes, depending on how big they are. (This is the toddler part. Dirt and water!)

When they're almost done, make a white sauce with:
2 T. butter
2 t. chopped garlic (Saute for a few minutes, then add):
2 T flour
2 c. of milk

Rinse the ice off a 1-lb package of frozen broccoli, and chop it a little smaller if needed. Toss into the skillet with the white sauce and 2-3 cups grated cheddar cheese. Cook just until the cheese melts. (The broccoli should still be bright green and crunchy.)

Serve sauce over the potatoes. Serves 4-6 or thereabouts.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Tuscan Chicken and Beans

This is a great fast, simple recipe. I found it in a cookbook and it is a favorite of Ben's.

1 lb chicken, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 t dried rosemary or 2 t fresh, chopped rosemary
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 C chicken broth
1 16-oz white beans (cannellini or other), rinsed
2 T sun-dried tomatoes (optional but they add a lot of flavor)

Coat non-stick skillet; place over medium heat until hot. Add chicken, sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper. Stir fry for 2 minutes. Add broth, beans, and tomato sprinkles; bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer 8 minutes.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Creamy Tomato-Balsamic Soup

This is mostly from Cooking Light (Oct 2005) but I made a few substitutions when I made it and it turned out wonderful. It has a rich creamy almost-smoky flavor.

1 C vegetable or beef broth, divided
1 T brown sugar
3 T balsamic vinegar
1 T soy sauce
1 C coarsely chopped onion
5 garlic cloves
2 28-oz cans whole tomatoes, drained
Cooking spray
3/4 C half-and-half
Freshly ground pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Combine 1/2 C broth, sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce in a small bowl. Coat a 13 X 9-inch baking with cooking spray and place onion, garlic, and tomatoes in it. Pour broth mixture over the top. Bake at 500 for 45 minutes or until vegetables are lightly browned. Cool for about 10 minutes.
Place tomato mixture in blender and add remaining broth and half-and-half. Process until smooth. Garnish with pepper. Serves: about 4.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Ideas Please!

I realize this isn't really a cooking post, but it is along the lines of home organization so I thought I'd ask all you "Marthas" out there for your help.

I've been working on cleaning out the second bedroom of our house where all our "stuff" seems to get stuffed. I've been going through boxes of stuff that I packed up while I still lived with my parents. Yeah, I'm that bad. :-P Anyway, I've run across a lot of my papers, etc. from high school, college, HSLDA, and so on. Does anyone have any ideas for the best way to store this kind of stuff? I don't really want to shove it all in a box and have it fall apart or get smashed any further than it already is, but I also don't want to take the time and effort to put it all in scrapbooks for now. Help!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Free Cooking Magazine

If anyone is interested, Kraft Foods has a free food magazine, Food & Family, they mail out 5 times a year. (I just got the recent issue in the mail last week, hence this post.) You can sign up online here.

Most of the recipes are along the "quick and easy meals" vein. (i.e. lots of pasta) I wouldn't necessarily put it in the healthy foods category, but most of the meals could be adapted to your eating style. And, the pictures are great for inspiration.....Especially if you are hungry while browsing. (As I was! :-) )

Monday, October 24, 2005

Lunches that Travel

Hey, Marthas, rally 'round. We're planning a weekend trip, mostly because Darren has been traveling a lot lately and, since he can't be at home with us, we'll just join him on the road.

Here's what I need: to cut down on food costs, I want to pack breakfast/snack/lunch stuff to take with us. Lunch especially. Sandwiches are okay, but I'm looking for something a little more filling. And we can't be sure we'll be near a microwave, so I can't necessarily heat anything up. Any suggestions?

Also, I need your suggestions pretty quickly, since due to my usual forethought and planning, I didn't think of this until today. Thanks in advance for any help, and fie on you if there isn't any. That's all.

-- SJ

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Does anyone have...

a recipe for haystacks?

At least, I think that's what they are called. I'm referring to those chow mein noodle things, usually butterscotch, sometimes chocolate. At worst, I can just melt some butterscotch chips and dump chow mein noodles in, but I'm sure there's more to it than that.

Any help would be much appreciated!

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Last night I was at the grocery store trying to figure out what to get for dinner (our fridge and cabinets are VERY empty right now) when suddenly I was inspired by the mexican food aisle to make enchiladas. After all our traveling and fast food lately, Nathan was very happy to actually eat a hot, home made meal. :-)

For those of you who like to wing it in the kitchen, here is the way I fix my enchiladas. (As learned from my sister in law) Adapt to your taste and spice level. This makes 6 large enchiladas last night in a 9x13 pan.

In a large skillet (enough to hold all the filling) brown 1lb. ground beef. Drain. Add 1 can refried beans and some salsa (about 1 c.) to taste. Mix well.

Lightly grease 9x13 pan. Pour some enchilada sauce over bottom of pan. I use the El Paso brand canned sauce.

On the side assemble your enchiladas as follows in the large flour shells: Meat & Bean mixture, a few diced fresh tomatoes, light sprinkle of cheddar cheese. Roll and place folded side down in pan. Repeat until pan is full.

Pour remaining enchilada sauce over top. I used 2 cans total for one pan. Sprinkle diced tomatoes, cheddar cheese and black olives over top as desired. Bake in oven at 350 until hot and cheese is melted. (About 20+ minutes.)

Monday, September 19, 2005


Hey Marthas - It's been forever, I know. Here's a good one for either a main meal (I added grilled chicken, for Kev 'cuz he likes/needs protein in his meal) or a side dish (recently I used it for company and it was a great nontraditional side). I know it's more of a "spring" dish than a "fall" dish but since we enjoyed it - and it was easy - I thought I'd share it. Happy cooking!

Spaghettini with Lemon Zest and Chives

1 pound spaghettini or thin spaghetti
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 stick butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup ricotta salata cheese or Parmesan, coarsely grated
2 tablespoons fresh chives or scallion greens, thinly chopped
Salt and pepper

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook 1 pound of spaghettini, or thin spaghetti, until al dente according to package instructions.

2. Grate the zest of 1 lemon into a large pasta bowl. Juice the lemon, and add juice to the bowl. Stir in 1 stick butter, cut into small pieces, and 1 cup coarsely grated ricotta salata cheese or Parmesan.

3. Add drained pasta to lemon sauce, and sprinkle in 2 tablespoons thinly chopped fresh chives or scallion greens. Season with salt and pepper. Toss well, and serve.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Supper in a hurry

This is a wonderful recipe I just discovered in Mrs. Garvis' excellent little booklet on saving time and money. It takes literally ten minutes from start to finish - prep time included - if you have the meat thawed out, is so easy to fix, tastes delicious, and is very cheap if you get the ramen and cans on sale. I've made it twice in the last week and a half, and it has now replaced spaghetti at the top of my list for emergency I-can't-think-what-to-make-for-dinner days.

Skillet Dinner
1 lb. ground beef (or ground chicken or turkey) [Note: you don't actually need a full lb. I use whatever quantity I have on hand]
1 can corn, undrained
1 can stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 ramen package

Brown ground beef on stovetop. Drain grease; add vegetables, undrained (the liquid will cook the ramen noodles), and add the packet of seasoning from the ramen package. Stir in ramen noodles and stir until cooked, 2-4 minutes. Makes 3-4 servings.

Monday, August 22, 2005

When the cooking is over

And you have that big, nasty pan to scrub--especially if you've been frying or roasting meat--try this tip I just learned from my new stepmother. Soak the whole nasty thing overnight in dishwasher detergent (the powder that goes in the dishwasher) and water and it all will wipe right off in the morning. I tried it once on a hamburger frying pan and once on a roasting chicken pan, and it worked like a dream both times.

Funny, I didn't expect a retired career Army officer to be a great source for household tips, but I guess they get meat stuck on the pan even in the Army. :-)

Friday, August 05, 2005

Nice and Easy

Last night I fixed a tasty little dinner of grilled cheese, soup and freshly sliced strawberries. (I'm proud of myself, can you tell?) At Nathan's request the grilled cheese had a twist to it: thinly sliced apples inside with the cheese. I was skeptical at first, but this variation is actually quite tasty.

Another easy meal I fix often is Pita Pizzas. I use whole wheat pitas for my crusts. Top with sauce, mozzarella and your choice of toppings, then bake at 425 until the cheese is melted and golden. Very quick, healthy meal with a salad and great cold for lunch the next day.

Any other suggestions out there for easy meals? Oh, and cheap ones, too. ;-)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Roasted Green Beans

In my continual quest to find vegetables that we'll eat, I came across this recipe:

Toss fresh green beans with olive oil and some salt and roast in a 400-degree oven for 20-30-ish minutes until they're tender and slightly brown in places.

Make up a dressing along the lines of:

Black pepper

Remove the beans from the oven, coat with dressing, and yummy! This is a "simple" one, Rachelle -- not a lot of ingredients. You may could try it with Ben. Our kids at least don't despise them.

-- SJ

Monday, July 25, 2005

Summer Quesadillas

I recently did this to make a dinner out of peaches and they were a hit.

Slice peaches and add some chives and a TINY bit of brown of sugar. Add this and feta or goat cheese to tortillas and let them heat in a pan or the oven for a few minutes. They are great with a sauce of honey, lime juice, and a little lime rind peel (lemon or orange works fine too).

Thursday, July 14, 2005

What chicken can do for you

There were lots of adjectives that would have done for the title (cheap, cheery, etc.) but I dismissed them all as too cheesy (ha ha!); however, chicken is a wonderful dish and forms the building block for many a meal. So here's the overview for all the mileage I can get out of your average fryer chicken, bought in bulk on sale at $0.49/lb. and frozen for future use:

Roast Chicken
By far the simplest, cheapest, and one of Michael's favourite meals:

1 whole fryer chicken
Several cups water

Pour water over chicken in roasting pan; sprinkle with salt and pepper and cover; cook at 350 for 2-3 hours, at which point meat should be juicy and tender. I drain the broth (of which I have a lot because of all that added water) and make a quick and simple Stovetop Gravy:

Chicken broth
1-2 Tbl. cold water
1 Tbl. white flour
Milk (optional)

Stir broth in saucepan on medium heat. Shake up flour and water in airtight Tupperware; stir in gradually to broth; add milk if desired. If there are lumps, whisk vigourously. This makes a lot of gravy so I always save the leftovers for future recipes.

I always serve at least two sides with roast chicken: mashed potatoes (I assume you all have a recipe for this) and either open a can of creamed corn or make Candied Carrots:

Several carrots, sliced
Butter (like 1 Tbl., depending on how many carrots)
Brown sugar (ditto)

Boil carrots in a saucepan until tender. Drain. Add butter and brown sugar; stir and serve.

There are always lots of leftovers with just the two of us. Cooking up two chickens works great for company (and, I assume, a small but growing family). The best method of dealing with a leftover chicken carcass is to have your husband de-bone it while you read a book aloud to him. Let's assume you have all the leftover chicken meat tidily stored away in Tupperware. At this point I have several option for yummy follow-up meals:

Chicken Casserole
Cornbread crumbs (8x8 pan's worth - I usually bake a cornbread with the chicken just because I like to be efficient with my oven)
1 medium onion, chopped
Poultry seasoning (optional)
Chopped chicken
1-3 cups chicken broth (leftover gravy)

Crumble cornbread into bottom of casserole dish; stir in chopped onions, sage, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle chicken over this; pour chicken gravy over the top. You can water it down with milk to stretch it, because it will usually thicken in the oven. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. (Not less, as the onions will be crunchy otherwise.)

Hearty Chicken and Rice Stew
Chicken broth (leftover gravy)
1 medium onion, chopped
1-3 carrots, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf
Chopped chicken
2 cups cooked barley
1 Tbl. lime juice

Stir gravy in saucepan over medium heat until warmed up. Add onion and carrots and spices, and simmer until tender. Add chicken and barley; simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavours to absorb but not too long or the barley will get soggy. Add lime juice right before serving. The quantities are approximate, but this always does for at least two meals.

California Chicken Enchiladas
10 flour tortillas
Chopped chicken
1 can cream of chicken soup (cream of mushroom works, too)
1 can chopped green chilis
8 oz. sour cream
1 cup shredded cheese

Mix soup, chilis, sour cream, and most of the cheese. Save 1/2 cup; dice chicken and stir in to main mixture. Scoop mixture into tortillas, fold up, and place in 9x13 pan. Spoon leftover mixture over the top with the rest of the cheese. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. (Not quite so cheap, I'm afraid, unless you get the cans on sale; but SO good!)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Moroccan Chicken and Lentils

If any of you have any simple recipes, please post. I am looking for things I can cook for Ben and the less ingredients, the greater chance that he isn't allergic to something in it. Here is a good one that is so easy and was a big hit with Ben and his dad:

1 Cup baby carrots (or chopped carrots)
1 & 1/2 C lentils, uncooked
1 & 1/2 lb frozen chicken
2 T minced garlic
3/4 t salt
3/4 t tumeric
1/2 t red pepper flakes or ground red pepper
1/2 t ground cinnamon
2 cans (14 oz) broth (chicken is recommended)

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high setting for 5 hours. Or cover and cook on high for an hour and then switch to low setting for 7 hours. Makes 4-6 servings.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Big Dipper

Lately I've begun serving a plate of raw vegetables and dip along with meals, in yet another attempt to get us to eat our veggies. I've come up with two or three different dips, but would love more suggestions -- especially ones lower in fat. I know, I know, we should be eating the vegetables without dip, or at most a light drizzle of low-fat vinagrette, blah blah blah. Any progress is good, in my opinion.

-- SJ

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Vegetarian Cashew Chili

This can be used on a campout fairly easily. I have made it at home but made it on our recent church campout.

3 C chopped onion
2 & 1/2 C chopped red bell pepper
1 & 1/2 C chopped celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 C red wine vinegar
1 T molasses
1 & 1/2 t dried basil
1 & 1/2 t dried oregano
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t salt
1/2 t chili powder
1/2 t black pepper
1/8 t bay leaves (or 1 whole bay leaf)
2 T olive oil
2-15.5 oz cans red kidney beans, undrained
1-28 oz can diced or stewed tomatoes, undrained
1-15 oz can pinto beans, undrained
2/3 C cashews, coarsely chopped

Place first four ingredients together (in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag if camping). Combine the next 9 ingredients (vinegar through bay leaves) separately. (Also in a zip bag if camping.)
(At campsite): Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic; saute 8 minutes or until tender. Add vinegar mixture, beans and tomatoes; cook 20 minutes, stirring often. Stir in cashews. Serve. Yield: 7 large servings.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Two Random Tips

Fresh Pineapple: I did not realize, until someone told me, that everybody else hurts their mouth eating fresh pineapple, too. I thought it was some peculiar biochemical reaction of my own, but worth the payoff in fresh pineapple. But, according to my informer, if you put salt on the pineapple, it won't burn. I haven't tested this yet, as there haven't been any sales on fresh pineapple around here lately. But I pass it on for what it's worth.

Whole wheat baked goods: I actually prefer whole wheat for flavor as well as nutrition, but I admit the frequently crumbly-sawdust texture of quick breads made with whole wheat doesn't do much for me. Then I heard that if you mix up the flour and the sour milk part of the recipe several hours in advance (the blender was recommended), the product will turn out much more tender and fluffy. I've tried it so far on waffles and banana bread (banana bread batter was too thick for a blender, I may have to use my Kitchenaid instead), and the results were outstanding. Except for the extra-hearty flavor, you could hardly tell it was whole wheat.

Next I'm going to try it on biscuits. I don't have much hope, since whole wheat biscuits are so very, very far from their white flour equivalents, but the results so far have been so good it's worth a shot.

Apparently it has to be a sour milk type of product (buttermilk, yogurt, milk with vinegar), so if your recipe calls for regular milk and baking powder you'll have to adapt it.

Monday, May 23, 2005

My Company Dinner

Nathan randomly picked this recipe out of one of my cookbooks while helping me create a menu. Ever since it has been our "company meal" and always been a hit. Now that we have a gas grill again (Nathan's $30 garage sale bargain.....almost in new condition), I'm planning on serving it more often.

Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs

1 can (20 oz.) unsweetened pineapple chunks
2 large green peppers, cut into 1" pieces
1 large onion, quartered (optional)
12-16 mushrooms (I don't like cooked mushrooms, so I skip these)
16-18 cherry tomatoes
1 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. olive oil
2 T. brown sugar
4 t. ground ginger
2 t. garlic powder
2 t. dry mustard
1/2 t. pepper
2-3 lbs. boneless, chicken breast fillets, cut in small pieces

Drain pineapple, reserving the juice. Place pineapple pieces and vegetables in large bowl and set aside. In a saucepan combine reserved pineapple juice with soy sauce, olive oil, brown sugar, and seasonings; bring to a boil. (WARNING: this will boil over VERY quickly, use a large pot with plenty of room) Reduce heat and simmer for 5 min. Pour half of mixture over vegetables and half over chicken pieces in another bowl. Marinate at least an hour, but the longer the better, stirring occasionally. May be put on skewers or grilled in a grill basket, basting with left over marinade. Grill until thoroughly cooked. Serve over rice if desired

Savory Beef

This is an excellent crock pot recipe. You can, and its even recommended that you do, use a very tough (i.e. cheap) cut of meat. I've never had it turn out less than fall apart tender. Serve over rice, noodles, or I've served it the next day as a sandwich with bbq sauce.

Savory Beef

Serves 8

Heat in heavy skillet or Duch oven:
2 T. oil

Add and quick-fry until brown:
2 lbs. lean beef, cut into 1-1/2" squares (may use very tough meat)

Add and quick-fry in a few minutes:
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 c. soy sauce
2 T. brown sugar
1/8 t. pepper
3 c. water

Bring to a boil. Transfer to crock pot and simmer for an afternoon or whole day. (The longer, the better.) Optional: prepare the night before and transfer to crockpot. Store overnight in the fridge. Then simmer in crock pot all the next day.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins

Years ago we used to get these muffins as a treat at the local health food store's bakery. My mom begged and pleaded for several years before they relented and gave her the recipe. We've enjoyed them ever since. :-) Don't ask me why they are considered "healthfood" because I think they have more sugar than any other muffins I've ever made. But, every once in a while you just have to overlook the sugar content and enjoy a treat.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins

Makes 12

2 beaten eggs
2 c. sugar
1 c. pumpkin
1/2 c. oil

3-1/2 c. unbleached white flour
1-1/2 t. cinnamon
1 t. soda
1/2 t. coriander

2 softened cream cheese blocks
2 eggs
1/4 c. sugar

Mix filling in food processor until smooth. Filling works best when refrigerated overnight or until completely chilled.

1) Combine wet ingredients first so sugar can dissolve for a while.
2) Combine dry ingredients.
3) When wet ingredients beat smooth, fold dry ingredients into wet ones.
4) In oiled or paper lined muffin tins, put about a T. of batter into each cup.
5) Make a "well" in each cup by swirling the batter around with the back of the spoon.
6) Fill each "well" with about a T. sized dollop of cream cheese filling.
7) Place another spoonful of batter on top of the filling. Smooth the top and "seal" it so the filling won't seep out.
8) Top with a little finger smear of filling.
9) Bake at 350 for 25 min, rotating between racks after 13 min. (I don't remember for sure, but I highly doubt I ever did the rotating thing.) Filling smear on top will be lightly browned when the insides of the muffins are done.

Black and White Bean Soup

I haven't tried this recipe yet, although it is on the menu for later this week so stay tuned....However, I mentioned it to Sarah because of the creative way it is served. It looked like a great company conversation starter. Not to mention that beans are cheap and healthy, too! So since she really wanted me to post this recipe, here it is. :-) Enjoy!

Black and White Bean Soup

Makes 4 Servings

3/4 c. dried black beans
3/4 c. dried great Northern beans
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small poblano chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped (my cookbook recommends wearing gloves for this....)
1 small rib celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1-1/2 t. chopped fresh thyme leaves
8 c. chicken broth
1 t. chili powder
1 t. groun cumin
1 t. chopped fresh sage
Roasted-Pepper Cream (recipe listed below)
Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Place black beans and great Northern beans in two separate large bowls, cover with cold water, and soak overnight in the fridge.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, chile pepper, celery, garlic, and thyme and cook for 8 min, or until the vegetables are tender. Remove half of the vegetables to another large pot.

Drain the beans. To the first pot, add the black beans, 4 c. of broth, the chili powder and the cumin. To the second pot, add the great Northern beans, the remaining 4 c. broth, and the sage. Heat both pots to boiling and cover. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer the black bean pot for 1.5 hours and the white bean pot for 1 hr. Keep both warm over low heat.

To serve, ladle 1 c. black bean soup into each of 4 serving bowls. Tilt the bowls and ladle 1 c. white bean soup into the other side of each bowl. Drizzle with the Roasted-Pepper Cream and garnish with the cilantro leaves.

Roasted-Pepper Cream

Makes about 1 cup

1 jar (7 oz.) roasted red peppers, drained
2 T. fat-free sour cream
1 t. apple cider vinegar
groun black pepper

In a blender or food processor, combine the peppers, sour cream, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Chicken-Black Bean Salad

This is one of the few salads I've ever had in a restaurant that was tasty enough and cheap enough to make a regular staple at home. It's my favorite summer dinner and is easy enough to make even during the first trimester!

2 c. chopped cooked chicken. (If it was cooked with taco seasonings to begin with, all the better. If not, you might want to mix up extra dressing and marinate it for a few hours.)
1 head shredded leaf or Romaine lettuce
1 can black beans, drained
1-2 cups frozen corn, rinsed (you could used canned, but I like the frozen texture better.)
8 medium (Roma) tomatoes, chopped
1/4 c. fresh cilantro leaves
Any other veggies that sound good; cucumber and cauliflower would be tasty.

2 T apple cider vinegar
2 T olive oil
1 t. granulated garlic
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. thyme
1 t. chili powder

I like to have an equal mix of salsa and plain yogurt to serve with it, either to go on the salad or for chips. It feeds the two of us with a little bit left over, so it would probably feed four people of normal appetite.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Vegetarian Wrap

This is for my own benefit more than anything else. I stumbled upon this while picking out the menus for some upcoming workshops I'm planning and it sounded tasty (and healthy). I'm posting it here so I'll be able to find it again. :-P

If anyone gives it a try let me know how it turns out.

Vegetarian Wrap
Hummus, shredded carrots, red onion, cucumber, lettuce and pine nuts wrapped in a flour tortilla.

WDIDWT? Cooked Egg Whites

D1 has started on egg yolks this week, according to proper introduction-of-food procedures, whereby one delays introducing the egg whites for some time yet. And she loves egg yolks. So this leaves me with a hard-boiled egg white a day to consume. Plain with salt is rather uninspiring. Any ideas on what else one can do with hardboiled egg whites?

DOB suggests I could separate the eggs and then poach the yolks, but I am not positive this would work, and even if it did I don't think I'm quite inspired enough to fix enough meringues or macaroons to use up the raw whites. I guess I could throw them into scrambled eggs, but that seems too uninspired.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Orange White-Chocolate Cheesecake

Can you tell I was suffering from Lent-imposed baking deprivation? Here's the other Easter treat I made. I probably won't make desserts this fiddly until next Easter.

Formatting note: Notice all the italics in the last post? How nice it looks? Since my browser doesn't let me do that automatically, so I have to type in all the <'s and /'s. So formatted posts are almost as rare a treat as orange white-chocolate cheesecake. And less enjoyable to make.

1 1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup orange juice
1 envelope (7 grams) unflavored gelatin
2 cups (12-oz pkg) white-chocolate morsels
2 pkgs (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons finely grated orange peel

PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees.

COMBINE crumbs and butter in medium bowl. Press crumb mixture onton bottome of ungreased 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 10 min., cool in pan on wire rack.

COMBINE orange juice and gelatin in small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, till gelatin dissolves.

MELT morsels in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on MEDIUM-HIGH (70%) power for 1 minute; STIR.

BEAT cream cheese and sugar in large mixing bowl until combined. Gradually stir in gelatin mixture and morsels.

BEAT whipping cream in small bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold whipped cream and orange peel into cheese mixture. Pour filling over crust. Cover; refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours or until firm.

Allow to stand at room temperature for a few minutes before removing side of pan.


-- SJ

Gumdrop Cake

This is a recipe of Darren's grandmother's, and one of Darren's favorites. Always a risky undertaking for a wife, to attempt to reproduce a matriarchal specialty; but I tried it anyway. Success!

Gumdrop Cake

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

1 lb. gumdrops (cut in half or third -- do not use purple or black, as they discolor the cake)

1 cup golden raisins (which I forgot to put in)

1/2 cup red & green cherries (which we couldn't find, as they're seasonal, so we used dried cherries instead)

2 dried pineapple rings or fruit of your choice (we couldn't find rings, so used a package of dried chunks. It was a small package; can't remember the exact size.)

Cream butter and sugar well. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat after each addition. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to creamed mixture, alternating with milk (flour first, then milk, in small amounts, mixing after each addition. End with flour.) Add extracts. Flour fruit (in small amounts, so it doesn't fall to bottom of cake) and add to batter. Add gumdrops.

Bake in a greased square or tube pan at 325 degrees for 1 1/4 hours, till done.

Note from Darren's grandmother: She -- and so I did, too -- bakes it at 300 for about an hour to see how it's coming along, then raises the temperature if it's not getting done. I baked it longer than I expected, but it came out nicely done. Take it out of the pan once it's cool enough, or it'll stick horribly.

-- SJ

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Fast Lemon Chicken and Rice

This is an easy chicken recipe. The cooking time is short, and it is a favorite with my husband.

Cooking spray
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 strips
2 1/4 C chopped onion
1 C chopped red bell pepper
2 C instant rice (I use brown)
1/4 C lemon juice
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1 14-oz can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 14-oz can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
2 T grated Romano (or Parmesan) cheese (optional)

Heat a Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add chicken, chopped onion and red bell pepper; saute 5 minutes. Stir in rice, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in artichokes. Cook 1 minute. Sprinkle with cheese. Makes 4 good size servings.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Glad to Be Back

I was delighted to return to the cyberhood and see that y'all kept up the chit-chat while I was gone. The recipes look great. Alison, glad to see some posts from you!

When recipes, time, and computer all coincide, I'm going to post my two Easter successes: Gumdrop Cake, one of Darren's grandmother's specialties; and Orange-White Chocolate Cheesecake... yeah, it was pretty good.

Got to rush!

-- SJ

Friday, March 25, 2005

One a penny, Two a penny

There's still time to mix up a batch of Hot Cross Buns for Sunday morning. These were easy and (we sampled one each last night) very delicious.

1 pkg active dry yeast
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup currants (can't find them around here, so I used raisins. A bit largish, but workable.)
1/4 cup diced citron, optional (I didn't use it. I'm not even sure what it is.)

Combine yeast, 1 cup flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a mixing bowl. Heat milk and butter to about 125 degrees (feels quite warm on your wrist), pour over dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Gradually add remaining flour, beating well. Mix in currants and citron. Turn out on a floured board and knead until smooth and satiny. Place in a greased bowl and butter top lightly. Cover and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled.

Turn dough out on a floured board and knead lightly. Cut off pieces about the size of a golf ball. roll between the palms of your hands. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover and let rise until almost doubled in size. With a razor blade or sharp knife, cut a cross in the surface of each bun. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack. Drizzle lemon glaze over tops of buns in a cross design:

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 1/2 tbs. milk

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Spring ahead with a light salad

It's getting warmer here and I thought a nice light salad might be a good recipe to post. I can't wait to try this one...

Salmon-Asparagus Salad

1 lb. fresh asparagus, diagonally cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 lb. salmon fillets
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. red pepper
6 cups mixed salad greens
3 plum tomatoes sliced
1 cub shredded carrots
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
14 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup bottled vinaigrette dressing (or homemade)

Arrange asparagus in a steamer basket over boiling water; cover and steam 4 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Sprinkle salmon with salt and peppers. Grill, covered with grill lid, over high heat 10 to 12 minutes per inch of thickness or until fish flakes with a fork. Flake salmon into chunks and plate over mixed greens. Toss with tomatoes, carrots, goat cheese, pine nuts; drizzle with vinaigrette.

Serves 6
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 15 min

* Option: Use pre-grilled or smoked salmon to save prep time.
* Optional Subsitute feta for goat cheese

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Vegetable Cheese Rolls

One of our family friends made this recipe up. Ever since we tried it it has been a family favorite and requested for birthday meals. We even served it for my mom's surprise birthday party this past weekend. (Its her favorite meal)

1T. active dry yeast
1/4c. water
1c. milk, scalded
1/4c. honey
1t salt
2T shortening or oil
2c. wheat flour
1 1/2 c. unbleached white flour (my family grinds their own wheat and uses all wheat flour in this recipe so use whatever combination suits your situation)
1 beaten egg

Soften dry yeast in water. Combine milk, honey, salt and shortening. "Scald" in microwave; cool to lukewarm. Add 1c. wheat flour and 1c. white flour to liquid. Add yeast and egg. Stir in remaining flour or enough to make soft dough. Knead enough to make soft, but not sticky, dough. Cover while preparing filling.


Here is where you can be creative and add whatever sounds tasty to you. This is the combination our family likes.

cheese (1/2 mozzarella, 1/2 cheddar), shredded
1 red sweet pepper, chopped
1-8oz. pkg, fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 can chopped black olives

Cut dough in half and roll out in 9x16 (approx) rectangle on floured surface. Sprinkle with 1/2 of cheese and vegetables (kind of like a pizza). Roll tightly, as in a jelly roll and pinch closed. Slice into 2-3" rolls. (Should look like cinnamon rolls). Repeat with second half of dough. Bake at 375 til browned and cheese is bubbling. (approx. 20+ min)

Makes 12

Many Bean Soup

Coming from a large family I've tried my share of bean soups! This recipe is a version of bean soup that I actually took with me when I left home. It is easy and a great way to eat lots of beans and veggies.

4c. boiling water or tomato juice
1c. each chopped: onion, celery, carrots, potatoes, cabbage
1/8t. garlic powder
pepper to taste (optional)
4c. any combination cooked beans (soak and boil beans until tender)
1T. ham or veg. soup base/boullion (I found that I needed more to get the flavor I wanted)

Combine water and fresh vegetables and cook on stove top until tender. Add remaining ingredients and heat through.

Serves 6

Cabbage Soup in the Slow Cooker

Don't be frightened off by the title of this recipe -- cabbage can be very tasty and is cheap too! Since tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day I bought myself some cabbage earlier this week to make corned beef and cabbage. Around this time of year cabbage is VERY cheap (17 cents a pound). I had some extra so I decided to try this soup.

Cabbage Soup
Makes 8 servings

Half a head of cabbage, sliced thin
2 ribs of celery, sliced thin
2-3 carrots, sliced thin
1 onion, chopped (or you can substitute onion powder)
2 chicken bouillon cubes or substitute some of the water below with chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 qt. tomato juice
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp. pepper
Water (see above note about chicken broth)

1. Combine all ingredients except water in slow cooker. Then add water to within 3 inches of top of slow cooker.
2. Cover. Cook on High 3 ½-4 hours, or until vegetables are tender.

Other variations...

* Instead of chicken broth or bouillon use beef broth or bouillon. Then add beef stew meat, precooked. Or up the slow cooker time if adding raw or browned meat. Cook till meat is done and vegetables are tender. This is very tasty too!

* Also, I only had a half a quart of tomato juice, so I finished up the other half with diced tomatoes and their juice. This adds the tomato texture and flavor without getting to saucy tasting.

* I didn't have any broth on hand so I used bouillon and added a bit of water to it first so they became liquefied before I added them to the veggies.

* I also added some HOT red pepper flakes to add some ZING to the recipe.

This was VERY tasty and is simple and cheap to make. It works both as a vegetarian and as a meat recipe. Of course, if you want a Vegan recipe just subsitute vegetable broth when it asks for chicken. Five Stars on this one.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Crock Pot Recipes?

Anyone want to give me some good crock pot recipes? Vegetarian or chicken? I just pulled out my old crock pot from college and made beans in it, but I am facing a lack of creativity in the kitchen. Maybe because no one has posted on here in over a month. HELP!

Monday, February 07, 2005

The Best Caramel Corn

I tried this at a Christmas party and just now got the recipe. There was another batch of caramel corn there and this one beat it all hollow.

1 cup hot air popcorn kernels
2 cups butter
4 cups brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pop the corn. Mix butter, sugars, and salt. Boil for five minutes. Then stir in vanilla and soda. Drizzle over popcorn. Place in a large roasting pan and bake at 250 degrees for 45 minutes. Stir frequently. Cool before serving.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Successful Soup and Substitutions

I tried the "Cream of Acorn Squash" recipe that Sarah posted a while back (post entitled "Tale of Two Soups"). Delicious soup. I'm sure that if I'd followed the recipe, it would have been just as good.

I mostly did follow it. Due to an absence of limes and cream, I used lemon juice and evaporated milk/milk instead. I also added salt, garlic, and celery salt. It was quite good, served with biscuits. I'm enormously proud of myself for making and enjoying a squash dish. Thanks for the recipe, Sarah.

Also, I made a coffee cake that called for sour cream, which I didn't have. I used plain yogurt and cream cheese instead. How often will you have plain yogurt and cream cheese instead of sour cream on hand? Well, if it ever happens, now you know what to do.

-- SJ

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Mexican Corn and Bean Soup

While this is not the exact recipe that Sarah is looking for, we had it for dinner last week and it was very good. As with any soup, you could add in any extra vegetables you have on hand and just make more broth. The benefit to this recipe is that it is FAST. Great for coming home from work and having something ready 20 minutes later.

2 t olive oil
1/2 C chopped onion
1 t ground cumin
1 t minced garlic (the bottled kind or fresh)
1/2 t dried oregano
1 C frozen whole-kernel corn
1/2 t black pepper
1 - 14 oz can chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 - 15 oz can black beans, drained
1 - 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
Lime slices (optional)
Cilantro (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, cumin, garlic and oregano; saute 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in corn, pepper, broth, beans, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Serve with lime slices and top with cilantro if desired. Serves 2-3.

Friday, January 28, 2005

What do you do with black beans? How about a Mexican soup...

Last night I had the most delicious soup in a bread bowl, I'm dying to make it at home. It was vegetarian, but even meat eaters would love this one.

Vegetarian Black Bean Soup
Ingredients included: Water, black beans, onion, celery, red bell pepper, vegetarian vegetable base (baked carrots, lima beans, natural flavorings, tomato paste, cooked potatoes, corn oil, celery, onions), modified food starch, spices, salt, lemon juice, garlic.

Does anyone know of a recipe for this? The closest I can find is on and is called: Black Gold Bean Soup.

It was like having taco soup, I love Mexican foods. :) The bread bowl added a very nice touch - have any of you ever done a bread bowl? They are also great with chili.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Bread and circuses

Well, not really circuses.

We just got back from a place that served the most sumptuous chocolate bread. Michael ate some every meal and actually asked the chef for the recipe. So I was going to make some for his birthday. The problem is that the recipe is handwritten, and a little difficult to decipher. Unfortunately I don't make bread often enough to recognise what is credible, so I'm at a loss with the proportions. Perhaps some helpful soul out there can verify for me how much salt and yeast should go per cup of flour. (I tried looking up some basic bread recipes in my cookbooks to get an idea, but they were very unhelpful, giving all the proportions with packages of yeast.)

So the recipe calls for 2 lbs. of flour. (How much is that in cups, by the way?)

Then 4 TSP of salt and yeast. I assume this is teaspoon? Because otherwise there would be a B in there? But then why the all caps? Perhaps because the chef is French? Anyway, there's a big difference between tsp and Tbl, and I want to make sure the loaf doesn't end up too bland or too salty. Any help and guidance would be much appreciated. If it turns out well I'll post the recipe here.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Thanks for Lunch

This weekend we made tomato soup and grilled cheese for lunch. (I forgot to buy cocoa, so couldn't make the brownie pudding.)

I've detested canned tomato soup ever since my daycare days, but Rachelle gave me the courage to try it again. I am pleased to say that it turned out marvelously good. I sauted onions and celery, and seasoned the soup with garlic, corriader, and something else I forget now. As my brother would say, it was plumb edible.

Darren did the grilled cheese, and we added cream cheese, as the Queen suggested. It was very rich, but so good that Darren says he might leave off the cheddar next time. :)

So thanks for the ideas. I wouldn't ever have tried tomato soup otherwise. -- SJ

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Menu Planning

Tomato soup, grilled cheese, and brownie pudding... I think I've got a dinner all planned out for this week. :)

Do the rest of you all plan menus for the week or month? We did for a couple of months and really liked it, but it was more effort than I usually want to put into meals. I'm just curious as to how y'all handle things. I might get back into meal-planning again, especially as it's more efficient and economical.

-- SJ

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Quicky, but tasty dessert

Brownie Pudding

Preheat Oven: 350°

Mix together:
1 Cup Flour
3/4 Cup of sugar (or 1/2 Cup of brown sugar)
2 Tbs. Cocoa
2 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Salt

In a separate bowl mix:
1/2 Cup Milk
2 Tbs. Veg oil
1 tsp. Vanilla

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. For the nut lovers now is the time to add 3/4 cup of chopped walnuts, but they are optional, so for those of you who hate nuts just skip this step.

Next our mixture into a greased 8x8 pan.

In another bowl mix:
3/4 Cup of Sugar
1/4 Cup of Cocoa
1 3/4 Cup of hot water

Pour over batter, which is already in the greased pan. It will flood the brownie mixture, but that's ok.

Bake 45 minutes. Take out and let cool. At first the liquid might be very runny underneath the brownie, but once it is cooled it will gel up into a nice pudding.

Scoop out with a spoon and serve with vanilla ice cream or alone.

It's delicious! :)

Friday, January 14, 2005

The natural follow-up

So, once you have made the delicious tomato soup, what are you going to serve with it? Grilled cheese, of course. A sandwich with many possibilities. The core secret to grilled cheese, I finally realized, is cooking it on a low enough setting that the outsides don't burn before the insides melt. Pretty obvious, but I'm very impatient.

Some ideas for variations:

Different bread: I like a multi-grain bread with nuts for the texture; sourdough is also good.

Different cheese: Munster is my favorite. Cream cheese can blend well with another cheese inside.

Things besides cheese to add: Mustard. I like dijon, but DOB likes yellow. Avocados, thinly sliced (by far my favorite addition). Tomatoes. Dill pickles (after the sandwich is cooked, so they stay cool and crispy).

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Tomato Soup with flair

One of my beloved former roommates (LMJ or DMR) left a can of tomato soup in the townhouse when they moved out. I hate tomato soup so it made it through two moves. Then in an act of low-fund desperation, I made it for my husband early in our marriage. He told me as he took a bite that he hated tomato soup but has continued to request it ever since. Last night, feeling a little sick, he requested it once again. Why? Because I fail to follow any directions printed on the can. Instead...

Make soup with milk instead of water, or even better, half-n-half and water mix.
Add onion soup mix or onion flakes for a little more flavor. (Or saute onion in the pan before making the soup.)
Another good add-in is orzo (rice-shaped pasta) and then
top it with fresh cilantro and fresh ground pepper.

Thanks to Linds or Dana for bringing out the creativity in me and helping us discover a family favorite.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Sprucing Up...

Tuna fish.

I really like canned tuna fish (although my one occasion of freshly-caught deep sea tuna opened a whole new world for me). I grew up eating tuna fish made with mayonnaise, dill pickles, and boiled egg. Later in life my mother started putting in apples and sweet pickles, which was an absolute desecration of a good dish. Not that I said that, in so many words, to my mother.

Recently I came across a great recipe for grilled tuna-fish sandwiches, along the lines of grilled-cheese. It even froze well (pre-grilled, of course). I'll look for the recipe.

Nowadays, I do half and half mayonnaise and sour cream, and throw in a dash of garlic and celery salt. And dill pickles, of course. If you cut the sandwiches into little triangles and have a picnic on the living room floor, it suddenly become delicious to kids, too.

-- SJ

Friday, January 07, 2005

Cooking lessons from my siblings

I discovered while visiting my family that my youngest two siblings (19 and 17) have taken over nearly all the cooking duties for the family. Some cooking tips I observed while there:

  • It is impossible to have too much garlic. At my sister's direction, I peeled 6 heads of garlic for one meal's worth of garlic red potatoes. There were a few potatoes leftover--no garlic.
  • It is impossible to put cayenne pepper in the wrong dish. Cayenne pepper in spaghetti? No problem.
  • It's a whole lot more fun to make a big mess in the kitchen when Dad is going to do the dishes.