Saturday, May 31, 2008

London Broil Salad

Many people enjoy a nice salad topped with grilled chicken. I like this salad just as much. Try it next time you're looking for a little variety. Oh, and definitely make the homemade dressing. That's what sets it apart!

London Broil steak
olive oil, salt and pepper
iceberg and butter lettuce
grape tomatoes
artichoke hearts
Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

Season steak with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill or broil until medium rare. Allow to rest for 15 minutes. Drain artichoke hearts and cut into quarters. Slice steak on an angle, against the grain. Cut each slice into small strips. Toss steak with lettuce, tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Top with dressing.

For an easy variation, try adding some crumbled Bleu cheese and Ranch dressing instead of the Thousand Island Dressing.
Also, any combination of mixed greens would work beautifully instead of using the iceberg and butter lettuce.

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

When I was growing up, this was always my favorite salad dressing. I guess it was cheaper to make it than buy it, so Mom always made it fresh. My version is slightly different from my Mom's but it's still my favorite, no matter how it's made. Try it on London Broil Salad, a chef salad, a Reuben, or a Corned Beef Special.

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup kosher pickles, finely chopped
1 egg, hard boiled, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
kosher salt

Using a wire whisk, simply stir together all ingredients. Easy!
Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

I slice the egg in two different directions using an egg slicer, just as you'd do for Egg Salad, but then I give it a little extra chop before I stir it into the dressing.
I usually don't measure the pickles. I just take 3 or 4 spears from the jar of pickles and chop them up.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Mango Salsa

I tasted a version of this at a party a few years ago and I couldn't get over how tasty it was. I immediately asked for the recipe, and of course, now I can't remember what I did with it. So this is my own version, and I'm guessing it's pretty close to the recipe that inspired it. Some people like to include tomatoes, or additional herbs or spices. I just recently read a recipe that included avocados too. Any of those variations would be absolutely delicious, but I kept mine to just a few simple ingredients. I love the freshness of the flavors and the fact that you can taste each specific ingredient. You can taste the green onion. You can taste the cilantro. You can taste the lime juice. Even though you can separate each flavor, they all still combine beautifully. It's perfect to serve with cocktails on a warm summer night. Is it time to light the Tiki torches yet?

3 ripe mangoes, peeled, diced
1 small jalapeno, seeded, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 green onion, chopped
juice from one lime
salt and pepper

In a large mixing bowl, stir together all ingredients. Cover. Place bowl in fridge and let flavors marry for several hours or overnight. Serve with tortilla chips, on chicken, grilled salmon, swordfish, or shrimp.

Instead of chopping each thing separately, it's easiest to just throw everything into a food processor and pulse until you reach the desired consistency.
It's better to go lighter than heavier on the green onion. If you add too much, it will overpower the sweetness of the mango and the freshness of the cilantro. Also, don't forget the fresh lime juice. That's key. And no, I'm not going to make any 'key lime' jokes. I'll save the cheese for another recipe!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hot Crab Dip

Here's a quick and easy party dip. It only takes a few minutes to mix together and it's always a crowd pleaser. Serve it up with some Triscuits or other hearty crackers of your choice. Scrumptious!

8 oz cream cheese
2 tbs finely minced onion (or scallions)
1 tbs milk
2 tsp prepared horseradish
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
2 (6 oz) cans crab meat, drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using a mixer, combine all ingredients except crab meat until well mixed. Stir in crab meat. Pour into a shallow casserole dish or pie plate. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with your choice of crackers.

The key to this dip is the horseradish. Feel free to add more, if that should suit your tastes.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hot & Sweet Asian Chicken

I was in the mood for something that is sweet and savory at the same time. I thought about it for a while and then I remembered a dish that I made about a million years ago. It was a sort of sweet and sour chicken dish. So, I thought I'd change a few things to make something new and yummy.
This dish has just enough sweetness at your first bite, but then has an understated after burn that doesn't heat up until you're about halfway through the meal. If you're all about spicy food, you may not even notice the heat at all! It's very subtle which is what I like about it. Enjoy!

once around the pan with oil
1 package boneless chicken
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
2 cups Hunan style hot duck sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp granulated chicken bouillon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 bag frozen Asian style mixed stir fry vegetables
1 cup frozen peas
cooked rice

Trim fat from chicken and cut chicken into small pieces. Roughly chop onion into large dice. Mince garlic. In a large skillet or wok, saute chicken, onions, and garlic over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine the duck sauce, soy sauce, bouillon, and ginger. Add to skillet and give it a good stir. Add vegetables and toss everything together. Place cover on the skillet and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
Serve over cooked rice.

Like I said, if you like a lot of spicy food, you might not even notice the heat at all, so feel free to add some Chinese mustard or wasabi. By the same token, if you don't like any heat at all, go ahead and use regular duck sauce.
I used frozen veggies simply for convenience, but if you're so inclined to use fresh veggies, go for it!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Peanut Butter Banana Pie

 So here's on for my niece, Kristin, whose motto is "The peanut butterier, the better". It's CRAZY delicious and it's just as easy. You just throw everything in the pie shell and bake it! Simple, right? And I absolutely love the fresh bananas on top. Not a fan of bananas? Try topping it with some marshmallow creme, or maybe a drizzle of chocolate. OR BOTH! OMG somebody stop me...

1 unbaked pie crust
3 eggs
1 cups dark corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup salted peanuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place pie crust in a pie plate. Pinch around the perimeter to make a decorative edge. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together next 5 ingredients until well combined. Stir in peanuts. Pour into prepared crust.
Carefully transfer to oven. Bake 45 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Cool completely. Top with sliced bananas and Whipped Cream.

For a home made pie crust, make half the recipe for Easy Pie Crust.
I like to roughly chop the peanuts before adding them to the mixture, but it's not necessary.
You could omit the peanuts altogether and use crunchy peanut butter instead of creamy, but I think you'd miss the salty roasted flavor of the peanuts.
I'm just sayin'.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Chicken Piccata

A few years ago, several of my nieces decided that I should teach them how to cook. I think the idea surfaced just after we had finished eating a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner. Anyway, each week, we'd pick a night and a food item. We made everything from potato salad, to cherry cheese pie, to Mom's Iced Tea. I even gave them note pads to copy recipes. My niece, Terri, being the good little student that she is, took notes as if she were attending Harvard Law School. "Uh, Ter, we're just making potato salad." Needless to say, she was my star pupil.
Eventually, schedules became tighter and our cooking classes got pushed to the back burner. Maybe one of these days we'll get back to our weekly fun.
Here's one of the recipes that we cooked at our class. It was a big hit and we all loved it. Honestly, I kind of forgot all about it. Luckily, my star pupil had it all written down! Thanx Ter!

1 pkg boneless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
olive oil
juice from one lemon
1 cup white wine

Cut each piece of chicken horizontally so that you have twice as many pieces that are half as thick. Place each piece in a ziploc bag and, using a mallet or rolling pin, pound each piece of chicken until very thin. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.
In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Repeat with all remaining pieces of chicken, adding more butter and olive oil to the pan as needed. Transfer the last of the chicken to plate. Remove pan from heat.
Into the pan add the wine and lemon juice. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

White Chicken Chili

This recipe comes to us from the Great White North. My sister, Patty, who lives in Ottawa, sent it to me. I think her email says it all! Thanx Pat!!!

Thought you might like to try a new recipe that I just tried - it was a big hit here. Good, easy, makes a big batch, and freezes well - my kind of recipe!

2 cups diced onions
2 cups diced celery
5 garlic cloves, chopped
¼ cup oil
4 cups cooked chopped chicken (or meat from one rotisserie chicken)
8 cups chicken broth (or 8 cups water mixed with 4 tbsp. chicken base)
1 bay leaf
1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies
½ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. basil
½ tsp. Old Bay
¼ tsp. Cajun seasoning
1 tbsp. chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
3 cans white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup heavy cream (or 2% canned evaporated milk)

In large stockpot, saute onions, garlic and celery until tender, about 10 minutes. Add chicken, broth, and all spices. Simmer for 1 ½ hours. Add beans and cream and simmer until heated through.

Tip from Patty:
For the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce: I usually just buy a small can, chop it all up and freeze it in one tbs blobs. It's good in all kinds of chilis. I think for a substitution you could use anything that has a little heat and is a little smoky tasting. I've used a little Tabasco and some bottled adobo barbecue sauce and it turned out fine. Alternately you could just leave out the chipotle and add a little more Cajun seasoning and Old Bay - I think that would be fine too.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Here's a classic recipe for you. I honestly have no idea who gave it to me. I didn't even realize I had it until I was looking through some old recipe cards. I found 3 scraps of paper with fragments of a recipe scribbled on each one. It took me a few minutes to figure out what the recipe was for! I pieced it all together and here it is. The thing about this cake is that people always think you went to a great deal of trouble to make it. Not so much!

1 8.5oz can pineapple slices
5 tbs butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
12 maraschino cherries

2/3 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a 9x13x2 pan. Butter the bottom and up the sides, place the paper in the bottom of the pan, then butter the paper.
Drain pineapples, reserve juice. Set aside. In a small pot, melt butter, brown sugar, and 1 tbs reserved juice. Arrange pineapple slices in prepared pan. Place cherries in the center of each pineapple slice. Pour butter mixture over pineapple and cherries. Set aside. If the amount of reserved pineapple juice is less than 1 cup, add water to make 1 cup. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Beat until fluffy. Sift together dry ingredients and add to mixing bowl alternately with pineapple juice, beating well after each addition. Pour batter over pineapples. Spread evenly. Bake 35-45 minutes or until golden. Cool 5 minutes.
Invert onto serving plate. Remove parchment paper. Cool completely.

Using the parchment paper in the bottom of the pan isn't really necessary, but it'll insure that none of the pineapple slices will stick to the pan.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Amberlicious Sausage Wontons

My fabulous friend, Amber, recently bought her first home, which instantly became every one's favorite party place. Her parties are always a blast! I'm so thrilled that she shared this great party food recipe! Thanx Gorgeous!

I came across a recipe on-line when planning my menu
for my first party in the new house, and after
doctoring up the recipe, came up with this party
fave!!! Watch your party guests devour them!!!

1 (16 ounce) package wonton wrappers
1 pound sausage, without casing
1-2 cups shredded cheese (can be cheddar, Colby-jack
mix, or Mexican...whatever is handy)
1/2 cup chopped scallions (or black olives)
1 pack of ranch dressing/dip mix
1 16 oz. container of sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Don't have a mini
muffin pan? Use a regular, you will just have bigger
Insert wonton wrappers into the muffin pan so as to
form cups. Bake 5 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow
the baked wrappers to cool. Remove from the pan.
In a skillet, cook sausage until brown and crumbled.
Drain grease and let cool slightly.
In a bowl, mix sour cream and ranch mix.
In large bowl combine sausage, cheese, scallions, and
finally ranch dip mixture.
Fill the wonton cups with the filling and bake 10
minutes, or until the sausage mixture is bubbly and
slightly brown.

Amber's Quick Time Saving Tip:
You can actually prebake your wonton cups and mix your filling 1-2 days in advance, then just fill them and bake them in time for your event. You can store your empty prebaked cups in plastic bags or air tight containers in the fridge.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Whipped Cream Icing and Filling

My brother, Chris, recently asked me for a chocolate cake with whipped cream icing. No problem. I mixed up the cake batter, poured it into layer pans, baked it, removed it from the oven. It was perfect. Then I added some powdered sugar to heavy cream and whipped it up. Not so perfect. I guess I over whipped it, which I seem to do all the time. It seems to me that there's only a small window between "ok, just a little bit more" and "oops! it's over whipped." I hate when that happens. The result is a whipped cream that tastes great but looks kind of clumpy and isn't smooth the way you want it. Clearly, I needed to find a way to prevent this from happening again. This recipe is the answer. It's the commercial recipe used by bakeries, and it makes that window a little bigger. You'll still have to be careful not to over whip it, but the gelatin helps prevent that from happening. Feel free to add other flavored extracts to switch things up. You could do lemon, orange, or even coffee liqueur to flavor your whipped cream. Decadent!

1 tsp unflavored gelatin
4 tsp cold water
1 c heavy whipping, very cold
1/4 c confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine gelatin and cold water in small saucepan. Let stand until thick.
Place over very low heat, stirring constantly just until gelatin dissolves.
Remove from heat and cool slightly. Whip cream, sugar and vanilla until
slightly thickened. While beating slowly, gradually add gelatin to cream mixture. Whip at high speed until stiff peaks form.

Whenever you fill or top a dessert with whipped cream, be sure to store it in the refrigerator.

Baked Huevos Rancheros

This is a baked version of a classic Mexican dish. Literally translated, it means "ranch style eggs" or "country style eggs" and was traditionally served as a large mid-morning breakfast on rural farms where workers had a much smaller meal at dawn. I like it as more of a dinner than a breakfast, but it's delicious no matter what time you choose to enjoy your main meal of the day. Yum!

1 onion; chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic clove; minced
3 tbs olive oil
1 tbs flour
28 oz whole peeled tomatoes; drained & chopped
1/2 ts oregano, dried
1/2 ts cumin, ground
1/2 ts chili powder
1/4 ts salt
1/8 ts pepper
1/4 c white wine
6 large eggs
1/2 c cheddar, sharp; shredded
1/4 c olives, black; sliced
1/4 c scallion; chopped
warm flour or corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Saute onion, green pepper and garlic in oil. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add next 7 ingredients; cook over medium heat 5 minutes. Pour sauce into a 12x8x2 inch baking dish. At this point you can continue or set into refrigerator awaiting the appointed hour. Remove from fridge an hour before serving time. Make 6 indentations in sauce, and break an egg into each. Sprinkle with cheese, black olives and green onions. Bake for 15 minutes or until eggs are set. Serve eggs and sauce on top of tortillas.

It stands perfectly well on its own, but feel free to serve it with a variety of accompaniments, such as refried or baked beans, sliced avocado, bacon, sausage, or fried potatoes.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"To Die For" Carrot Cake Cookies

For years I've searched for a good carrot cake cookie. Ultimately, I wanted something that tasted like my "To Die For" Carrot Cake, but in the form of a cookie. Most times, when I try a carrot cookie recipe, the result is always too much like cake instead of the chewy cookie that I want. So, I bet you can guess what I did! I took a few different recipes, decided what I liked about each one, and incorporated all the pieces into one recipe. The result is a delicate, chewy, and delicious cookie. They're amazing just by themselves, but add cream cheese frosting to them and they're over the top!!

2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cups coconut
1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Add to batter, a little at a time. Add oats, coconut, and carrots. Gently stir until everything is well combined. Chill for about 30 minutes. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Cool completely on a flat surface.
Mix up a batch of Cream Cheese Frosting, put frosting on the bottoms of the cookies, and then press two together to make a sandwich cookie. It's best to let them chill in the fridge for a little while so that the cream cheese firms up a bit.

Be sure to use parchment paper or a silpat to line your baking sheet so they won't stick. I use parchment paper so that I can just slide the whole sheet of cookies off the pan to the table and then let them cool a bit before removing them from the parchment.
Usually, when I bake cookies, I like to under bake them slightly to insure a nice chewy texture. These cookies are already chewy so you don't need to do that. You can bake them until they're nice and golden and crispy around the edges.
Feel free to add raisins or chopped pecans.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Irish Soda Bread

This recipe is part of Quaile Family tradition. Mom always served it at every holiday turkey dinner, sort of as an alternative to biscuits or rolls. It's also great lightly toasted with a cup of coffee. This bread is the main reason I wanted to own a cast iron skillet!

3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 tsp salt
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together and pour into a buttered cast iron skillet. Bake 45 minutes or until lightly golden.

You could bake this in a layer pan, but Mom always baked it in a skillet, so of course, that's how I always do it. Another thing Mom always did is she used to cut it across the diameter and then slice perpendicular to the first cut, making flat slices. It goes a lot further this way, instead of cutting it into wedges.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Seafood Soup

This soup is REALLY delicious and hearty. It's one of those recipes that makes me think "Why don't I make this more often?" Serve it with a salad and some crusty bread and you're good to go!

2 tbs olive oil
1 onion. chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 green pepper, chopped
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 16 oz can tomato sauce
1 6 oz bottle clam juice
3 medium potatoes, peeled, diced
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
4 fresh basil leaves, torn up
1/2 lb halibut, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 lb sole, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 lb red snapper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup dry white wine
3-4 tbs chopped fresh parsley

Place oil in a large pot and saute onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and green pepper just until al dente. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, clam juice, and potatoes. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add pepper, oregano, and basil. Cover and simmer 20 minutes, or until potatoes are done. Add fish and wine. Cover and continue simmering for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and/or additional fresh basil before serving.

Feel free to use any kind of seafood you like. I like to add shrimp, but see what's fresh at your fish market. Choose a fish that won't fall apart in the soup.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Chris's Pesto Sauce

A few years ago, I lived in a condo in Voorhees. When you live in a condo, you quickly get to know all of your neighbors since you're all so close together. In the building next to me, there lived a guy named Chris. He was one of those guys that talked to you like he's known you his entire life. He was definitely Italian, kind of round around the middle, probably originally from South Philly. The first words out of his mouth were always "Yo, Hiya doin?" He was one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet and he always had a beer in his hand. His condo was definitely the bachelor pad. We used to refer to it as "The Party Palace" because there was always a gang of guys carrying a keg and always a new reason to celebrate every weekend.
Another notable thing about Chris is that he loved to cook. He used to grow his own herbs on his patio and was always stirring a big pot of something on the stove. It was not uncommon for him to show up at my door with a mixing bowl in his hands and a big spoon saying "Here, ya gotta taste this!" I'm not even kidding.
Anyway, one night he came over with a big batch of pesto sauce. "Here, ya like pesto? Have some. I made a lot. It's good. You'll love it. Gaw'head, try it!" So funny. That sort of thing happened all the time.
Well, eventually, he moved out of his condo and that was the last I ever heard from him. Luckily, though, he gave me his pesto sauce recipe before he moved away. It's too bad that I have no way of contacting him. Come to think of it, I don't even know what his last name is.
Well, Chris, formerly of the Party Palace in Voorhees, wherever you are, thanx for the pesto recipe! You're totally right. It's good, and I love it.

2 cups fresh basil leaves, finely packed
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Serve over your favorite pasta, on tomatoes, or also on boiled potatoes or sliced beef. For added color and flavor, dice up some sun dried tomatoes and sprinkle them on top. YUM!

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Chicken and Broccoli Pasta

Here's a great 'all in one dish' dinner. The sauce is made in as little time as it takes to boil pasta. The key to this recipe is the combination of thyme and fresh basil. It gives the entire dish an amazingly fresh taste. I made it for Marie's birthday party, and true to form, I made FAR too much. So I decided to just leave out the pasta altogether and just serve the chicken and veggies as a casserole. It was a huge hit! I'm so thrilled that everyone loved it!
I know you will too!

1 lb. pasta
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
2 carrots, sliced
1 package boneless chicken

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can broccoli cheese soup
1 soup can of milk
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
5 or 6 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot of salted water, boil pasta until al dente. Steam broccoli and carrots over boiling pasta water until tender. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. In saucepan, over medium heat, saute chicken in a little oil until almost cooked through. Remove from pan. Saute onions and garlic. Add all remaining sauce ingredients. Add chicken back to the pan. Simmer 10 minutes.
Pour sauce over drained pasta and vegetables. Top with additional chopped fresh basil and serve.

If sauce is too thick, add a splash of the pasta water to thin it slightly.
I originally posted this recipe with a large can of chunk chicken instead of the boneless chicken, but then I realized that every time I make it, I use the boneless instead of the canned. I just like it better. You can use either one, though.
Great then.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Apple Pie Bread

Every Christmas season, I like to bake most of my gifts. I find it to be the perfect way to give holiday gifts to all of my friends without breaking the bank. And everyone is always so impressed that it's home made. I guess it all started several years ago when I decided to visit a few friends on Christmas Day. My Father always said to "ring the doorbell with your elbow." In other words, you should always bring something when you visit someone. So, each year, I pick one recipe, usually a bread of some sort, and make lots and lots of them. From then on, it became a sort of tradition.
This was the bread that I made last year and it was a huge hit! Many people have asked for the recipe. So here it is. It's moist, comfortable and goes great with a cup of coffee or tea. Don't wait until the holiday season to try it! It's great any time. Oh, by the way, this bread freezes well, so make a few and keep them in your freezer. Then you'll have it on hand in case you have unexpected company.

2 1/4 c flour
1/2 c rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 lg egg
1 lg egg white
3/4 c brown sugar, packed
1/4 c honey
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 c buttermilk
2 c apples, pared, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a 9" loaf pan. Set aside. Whisk the flour with the oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside. Beat the egg, egg white, brown sugar, honey and oil with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the buttermilk and beat again. Stir the flour and apples into the batter by hand just until combined. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

To make buttermilk, use 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice plus milk to equal 1 cup. Microwave for 15 seconds. The milk will curdle which is exactly what you want. If you don't have a microwave, you can just let it stand until the milk curdles. you'll get the same result. The microwave just speeds the process.
This recipe can easily be doubled.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Quick and Easy Mushroom Sauce

Here's a delicious sauce you can quickly throw together. It's great over rice, on meatloaf, on sauteed chicken breasts, or even noodles or baked potatoes. I came up with it a long time ago when I had a bunch of extra mushrooms and had no idea what to do with them. The amounts aren't really exact. I usually don't even measure. I just sort of throw it all in a pot. As always, it's the Cass Quaile School of Cooking. "Do you like a lot of onions? Add a lot of onions. Do you like a lot of mushrooms? Add a lot of mushrooms."

1 cup mushrooms, any kind, sliced
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 tbs butter or oil
2 cups chicken broth
2 tbs corn starch
salt and pepper to taste

In a small sauce pot, over medium heat, saute mushrooms and onions in butter or oil. In a small bowl, add corn starch to chicken broth and stir to make a slurry. Add to mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Simmer just a few minutes until sauce thickens.

Be sure to mix the corn starch in COLD liquid. If you add corn starch after you've already heated the chicken broth, it will seize up and you'll have clumps. So if you forget to add the corn starch, or if it's not thick enough and you'd like to add more corn starch, you have to add a little extra broth (or water) so you can stir the corn starch into it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Artichoke & Spinach Casserole

If you like Artichoke & Spinach dip, you'll love this.
It's rich and creamy and is an easy side dish.

8 oz pkg cream cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans artichoke hearts, in water
3 pkgs frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Using a mixer, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, milk, and salt and pepper until whipped. Rough chop artichokes and add to mixture along with the spinach. Give it a good stir. Pour into casserole dish and top with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until lightly golden on top.

Clearly this is one of those recipes that can serve as a springboard for a whole new dish. You could easily add sauteed onions and mushrooms, or any of your favorite vegetables, cheeses, or even noodles.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

That Carrots and Parsnips Thing That Denny Makes for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my most favorite holidays. My family has it down to a system. We're like a well-oiled machine. It's all about the planning. Everyone has his or her food assignments. The more experienced cooks do most of the main dishes and desserts. The cooks who are slightly less experienced will sometimes do appetizers. And the family members who prefer not to cook will pick up the ice cream, the eggnog, and the wine.
Many of us have our signature Thanksgiving dishes that we make every year. My brother Dennis always makes oven roasted carrots and parsnips that are out of this world. He never really followed a recipe for it. He clearly cooks from the Cass Quaile School of Cooking (a little of this, a little of that, cook it until it's done.) So, I asked him if he'd write down what he does. Here is his recipe, in his own words. Thanx Den!

Carrots 1,5,10,20,or 50 lb.bag
Parsnips, a few thrown in for color contrast
Onions, 1 per pound of carrots
Celery, 1 stalk per pound of said carrots
Garlic, a few cloves smashed, or 2 teaspoons of that awful stuff in a jar.
Small can chicken broth

Peel and cut carrots and parsnips into festive shapes.
Rough chop onions and celery.
Drizzle with EVOO, season with S&P.
Throw everything in a roasting pan, pour the chicken broth in.
Cover with foil, put into a 400 degree oven. Go watch the Macy's Parade.
When the carrots are almost done to your liking, remove the foil and let them roast till they ARE to your liking.

If cooking a turkey, a chicken, a goose, a hen, a quail (gasp!), or some other vermin, baste the veggies with some of the pan drippings. It will caramelize the carrots, and taste so good you'll want to slap someone.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Dr. Bird Cake

I've loved this cake for years and years. It's moist and delicious. You may ask, why is it called Dr. Bird Cake? Honestly, I have no clue. It's also sometimes called a Hummingbird Cake. I've read that in Jamaica, a hummingbird is sometimes referred to as a Dr. Bird, apparently because of the way it hovers over a flower which is similar to the way a Doctor tends to a patient. Personally, I think it's a stretch, but who am I to say? What that has to do with this recipe, I'll never know. I've also read that this cake is sometimes called "Granny Cake", apparently an expression in southern kitchens, because every one's Granny would make it whenever there was a special occasion. From what I understand, it's Southern Living's most requested recipe of all time. It's funny how most people have never even heard of it. Clearly, you MUST give it a try.

3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups diced bananas
1 cup crushed pineapple with juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 9" layer pans. Set aside.
Sift together dry ingredients. Add eggs, oil, and vanilla. Mix well. Batter will be sticky. Add fruit and stir by hand. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.
Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

I've seen versions of this cake with pecans or walnuts in it and also coconut on top. Even though that's not how I usually make it, I say go for it. It already has the pineapple and bananas. You might as well go all the way with the tropical theme! Maybe I'll do that next time I make it.
You could bake this in a bundt or tube pan but the baking time will be much longer, like maybe twice as long. I'd check it after about 45 minutes and keep an eye on it.
If using a tube pan, you could just dust it with powdered sugar instead of icing it.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Indian Potatoes

When Jeanette asked me for Indian recipes, she mentioned a specific dish. To quote her blogolicious husband Michael's email to me:
"There's some dish with cauliflower and potatoes, which probably has curry involved, and is yellow. She doesn't know what it is. Yes, she has two Indian ex-roommates, but she's asking you."
Well, Jeanette and Michael, I think I've found it! It doesn't have any curry in it, but it has cumin seeds. It also has turmeric in it, which explains why it's yellow. I hope it lives up to what you had in mind! Enjoy!!

l lb potatoes
1 head cauliflower
2 tsp oil
1 tsp turmeric.
1/2 tsp cumin seeds.
1/2 cup mushrooms.
Freshly ground black pepper

Rinse and scrub potatoes, then chop into small pieces. Cut cauliflower into small florets. Par-boil the potatoes for 5 minutes, then add the cauliflower and cook for a further 4 minutes. Drain.
Heat oil in a wok and then add the spices. Cook for about one minute and then add the vegetables. Cook for 5 minutes or so until the vegetables are tender. Serve immediately.

Clearly, the cumin seeds are the key ingredient here. They add an understated flavor that's the perfect backdrop for the other flavors.
I used red potatoes because I like the way their red skin plays against the yellow from the turmeric, but feel free to use any potatoes you like.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mom's Iced Tea

Anyone who has ever attended a Quaile Family BBQ knows Mom's iced tea. Everyone loves it! Even people who "don't usually drink iced tea" love it. On the really hot days, sometimes we'll declare it a "two pot day". It refreshes and it quenches. The thing that always amazed everyone is that Mom never measured the sugar and it would turn out perfectly every time. Whenever I invite friends over for movie night, there's always someone who will ask "Did you make iced tea?" Forget about what food I'm cooking or what movie we're watching. All they want is the iced tea. I'm sure everyone in my family has his or her own version of it. This is mine. You MUST try it!

7 quarts water
10 tea bags
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 large lemons

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Turn heat off. Place tea bags in pot. Let stand until the tea steeps and comes to room temperature. Remove tea bags and discard. Add sugar and stir until it's dissolved. Roll lemons on the counter to release the juices. Slice lemons in half and squeeze all juice into pot. Float squeezed lemons in pot. Give it a good stir and serve in tall glasses with lots of ice.

Before you put the tea bags into the pot, twist all the tags together and then loop them over the handle of the pot. Then you won't have any trouble fishing them out of the pot.
Use a lemon reamer to get the most juice out of your lemons and be sure to remove them from the pot after an hour or two. If you leave them floating in the pot for too long, the lemon peel will make the tea bitter.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

East Indian Chicken

My friend Jeanette asked me if I knew any Indian dishes. To be honest, I had never cooked an Indian dish in my life. But, like I always say, how hard can it be? So, of course, I got right on it. I began to research Indian cuisine, and I found several recipes that looked yummy. This is the recipe that I chose. Not only is it yummy, but it's also simple and quick. It's even better the next day!!! So, Jeanette, this one is for you!

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tbs vegetable oil
2 c cooked diced chicken
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
28 oz can whole tomatoes
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 tbs chopped parsley
1/4 cup raisins
2 c cooked rice

Cook onion, pepper, and garlic in oil until tender, about 3 min.
Add remaining ingredients, except rice, cook over low heat for 30 min.
Serve over rice.

Instead of buying a raw chicken and then cooking it, I just purchased a precooked rotisserie chicken. The chicken is so tender it falls off the bone and then it's easiest just to pull it apart with your fingers. Simple!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Joey's Favorite Apple Pie

I never met a pie I didn't like. Everything from fruit pies to chocolate brownie pies to coconut cream pies, you name it, I love it. But if I had to pick one favorite, out of all the pies anyone can dream up, my most favorite in the whole wide world is your basic classic all American apple pie. It's the cinnamon, it's the comfort, it's the aroma. Put a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some melted caramel on top of it, and I'm in heaven. I've tried a million different recipes. This one is my favorite. Enjoy!

6 cups apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
4 tbs butter
Easy Pie Crust or other pie crust for a two crust pie

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Divide pastry in half. Roll out one half and place it in a 9" deep dish pie plate. In a large mixing bowl, gently toss together all ingredients except butter until apples are well coated. Arrange apples in pie shell. Dot with butter. Roll out remaining pastry. Place top crust over pie and trim to within one inch of edge. Fold top crust under lower crust and form a ridge. Flute to make a decorative edge. Cut slits in top crust to create vents for steam. Place pie in oven and bake 45 minutes.

When you roll out the first half of the pastry, lightly flour one side and place it in your pie plate floured side down. This is will keep your finished pie from sticking to the plate. Feel free to use your imagination with the top crust. Instead of just cutting slits in the top, try a lattice top or use a cookie cutter to make creative designs.

Place a baking sheet on an oven rack below the pie in case it bubbles over.

And one more tip from my sister, Jeanie:
There's nothing worse than cutting the first slice of an apple pie and having all the juice run out, flooding the pie plate. So, whenever Jeanie makes an apple pie, she briefly cooks the apples in a skillet before putting them into the pie shell. Just melt the butter, then add the apples flour and spices. Stir it all together and let it cook for just a minute or two, just until the juices thicken. This will keep your pie from being too juicy or watery. So, if your apples are very juicy, maybe try this method instead of the one described above!
Thanx Jean!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Louise's Buttercream Icing

This recipe is from Trish's mother, Louise. It's quite different from the usual butter cream icing. It's fluffy and delicious, light and creamy, and it's not as sugary sweet as some icings. It's great on a chocolate cake. Oh, who are we kidding? It's great on ANY cake!

1 cup milk
3 tbs flour
1 stick butter, softened
5 tbs shortening
1 cup sugar
1 tsp pure almond extrat
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a small pot, over medium low heat, cook milk and flour, stirring until it becomes thick. Remove from heat. Pour into mixing bowl and let cool. Once it's cooled, add remaining ingredients and beat until thick and smooth.

The key to this recipe is to make sure the milk has gotten good and thick before removing it from the heat. And while you're letting it cool, put some plastic wrap right down on top of the milk so that a skin doesn't form while it's cooling. Oh, and don't forget the almond extract. Thats what makes it so good!

Sweet and Tangy Pork Chops

Here's another super easy dish that only requires a few simple ingredients. I can't seem to remember where I first heard the recipe, but you won't forget how delicious it is once you taste it. YUM!

6 pork chops
1 cup brown sugar
1 12 oz. bottle of chili sauce
juice from one lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place pork chops in a baking dish. In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and chili sauce until well combined. Pour over pork. Squeeze lemon juice over everything. Bake for 30 minutes or until done.

You can easily substitute ketchup for the chili sauce. I like to use boneless pork chops, but feel free to use any that you like. You could also serve this sauce on spare ribs instead of using regular BBQ sauce.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Joey's Favorite Linguine with Clam Sauce

OK, I know I say every recipe is delicious, but seriously, this one is AMAZINGLY tasty. It's another one of those "just throw everything in a pan" sauces. How easy is that? You MUST try it!

1 lb linguine
olive oil
4 or 5 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
2 10 oz cans chopped clams,
2 tsp granulated chicken bouillon
1 cup white wine
6 tbs butter
salt and pepper to taste
chopped fresh parsley
grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add linguine and cook until al dente. In the meantime, in a sauce pan, over medium heat, saute onions and garlic in olive oil until softened. Add chopped clams (including the liquid) along with the remaining ingredients. Simmer for a few minutes. When linguine is done, drain it and add it to the saucepan. Toss until coated with sauce. Top with parsley and grated cheese. Serve immediately.

This recipe makes a lot of sauce for one pound of pasta and there's a very good reason for that. I like a lot of sauce on my pasta! If you prefer your pasta to be a little dryer, you can cut the recipe in half or make two pounds of pasta!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Butter Tarts

Not only did our friend, Georgie, give us the delicious Kidney Bean Casserole, but she also gave us these delectable little treats. Make a double batch because they'll go quickly! Butter, brown sugar, what's not to love???

1 cup raisins
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 recipe for Easy Pie Crust, or use any store bought unbaked pie crust pastry

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Place raisins in a small bowl and add enough warm water to cover. Set aside until they soften, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together melted butter and brown sugar. Add eggs and stir until well combined. Add lemon juice and vanilla extract. Drain raisins well and add to mixture.
Roll out one pie crust. (If using store bought crust, store second pie crust in freezer) Using a round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut circles about 4 inches in diameter. Collect scraps and roll out again. Continue cutting circles and re rolling until all pastry is used. Press pastry circles into muffin tins, making sure to go all the way up the sides. Fill each tart halfway with filling. Bake for 8 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 7-8 minutes.

I usually omit the lemon juice because I think the tart lemon flavor competes a little bit with the buttery brown sugar flavor. Then again, some people say that's their favorite thing, so go figure. This is a perfect example of using a recipe as a mere guideline and adjusting it to suit your own personal tastes.
Oh, by the way, you can also make these in mini muffin tins!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Easy Pie Crust

This is my favorite home made pie crust recipe because it only takes a few minutes to throw together in the food processor and it makes a smooth soft dough. Simple!

1/2 cup cold or frozen butter
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbs powdered sugar
1/3 cup iced water

Cut butter into 6 pieces. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, place all ingredients except water. Process about 10-15 seconds. Add iced water all at once through the food chute and process until a dough ball forms, but for no longer than 20 seconds. If a ball has not formed, press dough into a ball using your hands. Makes pastry for one 2-crust pie.

Don't be tempted to over mix the dough. It literally only takes a maximum of 35 seconds. Longer processing will only make the pastry tough.
If you'd like to use this for a savory pie, simply omit the powdered sugar.
You can easily substitute margarine for the butter.
If you only need one crust, cut the recipe in half, or make the entire recipe and then store one half in the freezer. Better yet, make two pies!

Espresso Double-Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I'm not a coffee drinker, but I love to use it when I bake. It adds such a depth of flavor especially when it's combined with chocolate. These cookies are amazingly rich and decadent. Definitely for serious chocolate and coffee lovers!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 325°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda; set aside. In a small bowl, stir together espresso powder, vanilla, and a tablespoon of water; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and yolk; mix until incorporated. Add espresso mixture; mix well, scraping down the sides of a bowl with a spatula. At low speed, add flour mixture in small batches, mixing until just combined. Remove bowl from mixer, and stir in chocolate chunks.
Using a 2-ounce ice-cream scoop, scoop heaping balls of dough and place 3 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies are set, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool completely before removing cookies.

I prefer a smaller cookie so I use a tablespoon to measure each cookie instead of the ice cream scoop.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Quick and Easy Chicken Parmesan

Usually, when I make Chicken Parmesan, I'll take boneless chicken breasts, bread them just like I do when I make Mom's Chicken Cutlets, then I'll saute them in olive oil, top them with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese and bake them until the cheese melts. Quite delicious, I must say. It's one of my all time favorite dishes!
This recipe is sort of a shortcut version of the original. It's also quite delicious but it only takes a fraction of the time to prepare. Give it a try!

boneless chicken breasts
Joey's Favorite Marinara Sauce, or your favorite jarred sauce
mozzarella cheese
fresh basil

Slice each piece of chicken horizontally so that you have twice as many pieces that are half as thick. Dredge each piece of chicken in flour. Place chicken in saute pan with a little oil and saute until golden. Add a little marinara sauce to the pan. Sprinkle chopped fresh basil leaves over each piece of chicken and then top with mozzarella cheese. Cover saucepan until the cheese is melted.
Serve immediately.

If you'd like to spice it up a bit, you can add spices to the flour before you dredge the chicken in it. Try adding different types of seasoned salt or even different kinds of pepper.