Sunday, August 31, 2008

School of Fish

Dried apricots

Mini pretzels

Cream cheese

Mini chocolate chips

For each fish, slit one end of a dried apricot and insert the bottom of a mini pretzel. Pinch the apricot around the pretzel to hold it in place.

For a fish eye, pipe on a small dot of cream cheese (a plastic sandwich bag with a corner snipped off works well for this) and then press a mini chocolate chip, tip down, into the cream cheese.

Recipe from "Family Fun"

Shrunken Sandwiches

2 slices ham
2 slices low-fat cheese
12 mini crackers, such as Ritz Bits
Cut ham and cheese (six from each slice) into small rounds the size of the mini crackers. A clean medicine bottle or a clean lid from a spice jar makes a good cutter. Place a ham round on six of the crackers, then add the cheese. Cover each with another cracker.

If I have any leftover ham and cheese scraps I put them in a baggie and mix them into a scrambled egg the next morning :)

Recipe from "Family Fun"

Goofy Waldorf Salad

1 cup grated carrot
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped apple
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
2 to 3 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. lemon juice
4 ice cream cones

In a large mixing bowl, stir all ingredients well. Scoop into ice cream cones.

Recipe from "Family Fun"

Fish in a pond

1/2 cup low-fat cream cheese or cheese spread
Blue food coloring
Fish-shaped crackers
Celery ribs

Scoop the cream cheese into a bowl. (You can tint the cream cheese with blue food coloring to make it look like a pond.) Place the goldfish in a separate bowl, or surround the "pond" with them. Let the kids dip the celery sticks into the cheese, then into the bowl of crackers to "catch" a fish.

Recipe from "Family Fun"

Cold Fruit Fondue

Simply, sour cream mixed with brown sugar to taste. Add granola for crunch if you would like.
Serve with sliced apples, bananas and strawberries. Dip with shish kabob sticks if you have some.

Crumbled Yogurt “Pie”

One of my favorite treats!
Graham Cracker’s cinnamon or plain honey
Whipped cream
Take your child’s favorite flavor of yogurt and pour into a bowl. Crumble plain or cinnamon graham crackers over the top the yogurt and top with a dollop of whipped cream if you want it to be more of a treat than a snack.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Food for your Man

My husband is a meat and potato kind of guy. Since we have married he has endured many of my experiments, my "lighter fare", and vegetarian meals. I have a few tried and true meals that satisfy us both though. Here are some of our favorites.

Oriental Flank Steak

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi
Creamy Rice and Saffron Chicken

Oriental Flank Steak

by Jeanne Dunbar

1 lb Round Steak
1 small onion chopped
1 clove garlic minced
1/2tsp ground ginger
¼ cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
chopped green onion
sesame seeds
sliced carrots

1. Freeze steak for about one hour so that it is easy to slice. Slice into ¼ inch wide strips.
2. Mix marinade ingredients and pour in with the steak strips into a Ziploc bag.
3. Marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
4. Broil in a foil lined pan for 7-8 minutes stirring once

I like to slice carrots and broil them along with the steak too.

Garnish with chopped green onion and sesame seeds. And serve with seasoned couscous or rice.

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi

Ina Garten

Vegetable oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt plus 1 1/2 teaspoons
3/4 pound linguine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 pound large shrimp (about 16 shrimp), peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 lemon, zest grated
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds
1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.
Meanwhile, in another large (12-inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Be careful, the garlic burns easily! Add the shrimp, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.
When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve.

Saffron Chicken over Creamy Rice

"Monday-to-Friday Chicken" by Michèle Urvater

4 cups chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups short-grain rice, such as Italian arborio
1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon crushed saffron threads
1/4 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
2-ounce chunk of fresh Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic
1 package (10 ounces) frozen "petite" peas, thawed
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

1. In a pot heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the rice and cook for 1 minute over low heat, stirring, until the kernels are coated with oil and are beginning to turn translucent. Add 2 cups of broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook over low heat, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Give the rice a stir and continue to cook until the rice has absorbed the broth, 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, remove the skin and all fat from the chicken, and cut the meat into 1/2-inch dice. Dissolve the saffron in the white wine. Grate the cheese and chop the garlic.

3. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring continuously, until it turns opaque around the edges, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is almost cooked through, 1 minute more. Add the peas and cook until they are warmed through, about 1 minute. Add the white wine and saffron and cook over medium heat until the chicken is just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes.

4. Add the remaining 2 cups broth to the rice, and bring back to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for another 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes. Cook until the rice is tender and creamy, and there are only a couple of spoonfuls of unabsorbed broth surrounding the grains, 3 to 4 minutes more.

5. Right before serving, stir the cheese into the rice and adjust the seasoning. Spoon some rice in the middle of shallow bowls and spoon a portion of chicken, peas, and liquid in the middle; the saffron liquid will pool around the rice in a gorgeous way.

• Instead of Parmesan cheese, stir 1/4 cup crumbled soft goat's cheese into the rice just before serving.
• For a more Latin version, in step 1, bring 3 cups chicken broth and 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk to a boil. Omit the cheese, and in step 3 add 1/4 cup golden raisins when you add the peas to the chicken.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Family Favorites

This week, I am sharing some of my family's top secret (not really) recipes. My mother in law has proven herself time and time again to be an excellent cook. She makes healthful and sophisticated meals like the Broiled Halibut with Tomato Salad. My own mother makes an excellent and decadent English Trifle that will be sure to impress your family and your own taste buds. My sister impresses everyone with her beautifully braided Broccoli Braid- make it once or twice to get it down and you will be bringing it to luncheons and pot lucks on a regular basis. My father in law eats the same meal every Sunday, pot roast and mashed potatoes with gravy and Sweet Yams that get compliments every week.

Kristin's Broccoli Braid
Mom's English Trifle
Eileen's Broiled Halibut and Tomato Salad
Doug's Sweet Yams

Kristin's Broccoli Braid

2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
11/2 cups broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed
4 oz. (1cup) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. dill weed
1/4 tsp. salt
2 pkgs. (8oz. each crescent roll dough
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 tbls. slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 375F. Chop chicken and broccoli using food processor. Finely chop bell pepper add to chicken and broccoli. Add crushed garlic and shredded cheese. Mix gently and add mayonnaise, dill weed, and salt continue to mix. Unroll packages of crescent dough but keep the rolls together in a sheet. Do not separate. Arrange longest sides of dough across width of a rectangle baking sheet. Press the “seams of the dough to close them. seal perforations. Along the longest sides of the sheet, cut dough into strips 1 1/2 inches apart, 3 inches deep so there are 6 inches in the center for the filling. Spread filling evenly over middle of dough. Take the strips of dough across mixture to meet in center and proceed by “braiding” the strips together. Brush egg white over dough and toss almonds over the dough. Bake about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Mom’s Most Decadent English Trifle

The secret to making this dessert REALLY good is Bird’s Custard. Don’t use

pudding- it will be yucky. It is a powder that you mix with milk and sugar,

cook to boiling and let set in the fridge. You can find it in the

“International Food” aisle (the product is English) or with the pudding in the baking aisle.

4 cups milk, of that take out 4 Tbsp milk to mix with:

4 Tbsp Birds Custard Powder

4 Tbsp Sugar

1 store bought pound cake (or you can get a box mix and bake a fresh one)

1 large can pears drained (try to leave out any unripe pears better to use

the soft ones)

About 6 Tbsp raspberry jam

1-2 cups of Heavy Cream depending on how decadent you want this dessert to


Powdered sugar for whipping cream to taste

A small container of fresh raspberries to garnish

Follow the directions on the container to make the custard and let set (I

would give it at least a few hours). Whip the heavy cream and set aside in

the fridge.

If you have a pretty glass bowl you can arrange things and layer them

however you want so it looks nice from the side of the bowl. Slice the pound

cake and spread raspberry jam over the slices. My mom does it this way:

Around the side of your glass dish alternate cake (jam side out) and pears.

Fill in the bowl with the custard.

If you are like me and have no such thing in your kitchen any deep bowl will

do and just cube the cake (once you have spread jam over the slices) and cut

up the pears into bite size pieces. Alternate cake, custard, pears till your

bowl is filled.

Then, no matter which way you did it. Cover the dessert with your whipped

cream and top with your fresh raspberries


by Eileen Hancey
6 halibut steaks (about 4 oz ea)
1T olive oil
1 lemon
salt & pepper

Place fish in a glass baking dish ad drizzle with oil.
Squeeze lemon over fish and salt and pepper liberally,
Broil in oven 5 minutes per side or until halibut flakes when tested with a fork.
Serve Tomato salad over fish

6 medium tomatoes - mixture of red and yellow tomatoes is lovely but not necessary
1/3 C fresh basil, chopped
3 T parsley chopped
3 garlic cloves minced
2 T olive oil
2 T lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste.
Toss together and serve over fish
6 servings

Bring a pot of water (about 1 quart) to boil.
Place about 12 oz fresh green beans in water and boil for about 2 minutes, drain and place beans on a serving platter to cool.
Add sliced red onion and sliced tomatoes (I like the little grape tomatoes cut in half)
Pour olive oil and red wine vinegar on top of beans.
Sprinkle with basil or oregano and salt to taste
Mix thouroughly and serve

Doug's Sweet Yams

Peel slice into 1/2 inch slices and boil until they are easily poked with a fork
When done drain well and add the butter, syrup, and brown suger and cook for a few minutes longer until the sauce is consistent. Stir gently so as not to break the yams.

2 yams
1 stick butter
Karo syrup 2 Tbsp
1/2 cup brown sugar

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dry Goods

I love to cook with legumes and whole grains. They are inexpensive and many types have a high enough protein content that you’ll save even more money on your grocery budget when you aren’t buying meat for every meal of the week. Barley, Split Peas, Lentils and flax are on the menu for this week. Google any one of those items and you will be amazed by the nutrition content in these powerhouse foods.

For those of you wary of split pea soup- this is truly yummy. Both my husband and toddler love it. The fennel adds a nice flavor that really sets it apart from your run of the mill split pea soup. The Sicilian Lentils are technically a sauce the Italians would serve over pasta. If you like tomatoes, you will enjoy this on its own.

Vegetable Studded Barley
Split Pea and Potato Soup
Sicilian Lentils
Farmland Flax Cookies

photo from

Farmland Flax Cookies

Most often you will buy flax seed in its whole form. Measure out the amount you need and put it through a blender or food processor for a few minutes to grind it up. Whole flax will just run through your system and won’t impart as much of its nutritional value.

Butter 1 1/3 cups
Granulated sugar 1 1/4 cups
Brown sugar 1 1/2 cups
Ground Flax seed- 1 1/2 cups
Large eggs 3
Vanilla 1 1/2 tsp
All-purpose flour 3 1/2 cups (try a mix of whole wheat flour/all purpose)
Baking soda 1 tbsp
Oatmeal 3 cups

In a bowl, cream butter and sugars; add flax seed. In another bowl, beat eggs and vanilla together. Combine with flax mixture. Sift together the flour and soda. Mix in oatmeal and combine with other ingredients. Form dough into 4 cm (1 1/2 inch) round logs. Place in freezer and chill. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Slice into .5 cm (1/4 inch) medallions. Place on baking sheet leaving about 5 cm (2 inches) between cookies. Bake 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from sheet and cool Yield: 108 cookies (5 cm/2 inches)

I'd toss in some raisins and dates, some cinnamon! I bet 1/2 of a mashed banana or even 1/2 cup of diced apples would be lovely in this recipe too!

Sicilian Lentils

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
1 small zucchini, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry lentils
3 cups water
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
1/2 cup water
1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, mushrooms, zucchini, and garlic. Cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes.
2. Add lentils and 3 cups water to vegetables. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 45 to 60 minutes.
3. Stir in tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. If necessary, add more water to keep the sauce from sticking. Be careful not to dilute; the sauce should be quite thick.

Split Green Pea, Potato and Onion Soup

6 cups low-sodium canned beef broth, or as needed
1 1/4 cups split green peas, picked over
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Put 4 cups of the broth into a large soup pot and add peas and potatoes. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to a very slow but steady simmer. Cook covered, until the peas and potatoes are thoroughly tender, about 45 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until it begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the fennel seeds and continue cooking until the onion begins to turn golden, 4 minutes more. Remove from the heat and add to the potatoes and peas.
3. If you prefer a smooth soup- Purée the pea and potato mixture in batches, using a food processor or food mill, and return it to the pot along with 1 cup more of the broth. Otherwise just leave it for a chunkier soup. Add the carrot and cook over low heat, covered, until the carrot is just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. If the soup seems too thick, add some or all of the remaining broth.
4. Remove the soup from the heat. Stir in the grated cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Serve in warmed bowls, adding a teaspoon of the Onion Garnish to each serving. Serve the remaining garnish alongside.
5. If you have ham pieces add those and in the soup until warmed.

Vegetable-Studded Barley

From "U.S.A. Cookbook" by Sheila Lukins
Barley, a grain of the grass family, is one of my favorite accompaniments for chilis and stews. But in this dish, barley stands proudly on its own, with all the integrity of the grain intact.

I cook barley until just tender, usually about 45 minutes. Watch the cooking time carefully or the grains will quickly become too soft.

Serves 6

2 cups diced (1/4 inch) carrots
10 ounces white mushrooms
1 cup pearl barley
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, add the carrots, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Trim, wipe clean, and quarter the mushrooms.
3. Rinse the barley in a strainer, and then place it in a large heavy pot. Add the broth, water, thyme, and mushrooms. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until the barley is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, 40 to 50 minutes.
4. Stir in the carrots and the chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Batch Cooking

I love using recipes that have similar ingredients. The following use chicken which can easily be cooked up in one batch at the beginning of the week and mixed in to measure as you prepare different recipes throughout the week.

Elly’s Chicken Salad Sandwiches are a great luncheon food. The Cobb Salad Wraps make a yummy lunch to bring to work or serve to all the kids at lunch. And as many of you may already know-the P.F. Chang’s Lettuce Wraps are delicious and very filling- I often order them as my entrée when we dine there.

Your Grocery List
P.F. Chang's Lettuce Wraps
Cobb Salad Wrap
Fruity Chicken Salad

photo from Seran Foods

PF Chang's Lettuce Wraps

From Top Secret Recipes

• 3 tablespoons oil
• 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
• 1 cup water chestnut
• 2/3 cup mushroom
• 3 tablespoons chopped onions
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 4-5 leaves green leaf, bib or boston lettuce
Special Sauce
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup water
• 2 tablespoons soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
• 2 tablespoons ketchup
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
• 1 tablespoon hot mustard
• 2 teaspoons water
• 1-2 teaspoon garlic and red chile paste
Stir Fry Sauce
• 2 tablespoons soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons brown sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
Make the special sauce by dissolving the sugar in water in a small bowl.
Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil.
Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you're ready to serve.

Combine the hot water with the hot mustard and set this aside as well.
Eventually add your desired measurement of mustard and garlic chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to pour over the wraps.

Mince chicken, water chestnuts and mushrooms to about the size of small peas.

Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl.

Heat a pan still on high heat, add a Tbsp of vegetable oil.

Add chicken, garlic, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms to the pan.

Add the stir fry sauce to the pan and saute the mixture for a couple minutes then serve it in the lettuce"cups".

Top with"Special Sauce".

Cobb Salad Wrap

2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1/3 cup chopped green onion
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 avocado, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup vinaigrette salad dressing
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
6 (10") flour tortillas
1-1/2 cups shredded fresh spinach
1 cup crumbled blue cheese

Combine chicken, green onion, tomato and avocado in medium bowl and gently mix. In small bowl, combine salad dressing and dijon mustard and whisk to blend. Add to chicken mixture and stir to coat.
When ready to serve, spoon chicken mixture into each tortilla. Top with spinach and blue cheese. Fold up bottom edge and fold in sides, and serve. 6 servings

Fruity Chicken Salad

from Elly Fryer

4 c. chicken breasts
1 can crushed pineapple, well-drained
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup green grapes, halved
1 cup miracle whip
1 cup cool whip

Simmer chicken with seasonings (celery, bay leaf, seasoned salt, lemon or seasoned pepper) until tender. Let chicken cool completely (can refrigerate for hours). In large mixing bowl, mix chicken, pineapple, celery, grapes. Mix cool whip and miracle whip together. Pour over salad ingredients. Toss gently but well.
Serve on croissants and garnish with strawberries.