Thursday, January 18, 2018

Easy Lentil Soup

Cold, snowy days are the perfect time to cook a BIG pot of soup! This week has been no exception!
This soup was made made in under 2 hours, but sat on the cooktop all afternoon. Since it has no meat in it, I left it there until supper. When I rewarmed it, I added chicken broth to thin it since the lentils had absorbed much of the liquid.  It requires few ingredients, but the flavor is great! The white Balsamic vinegar adds a sweet and sour element. If you're not a huge fan, add a small amount first. You can always add more later! Or omit the white Balsamic vinegar and add a tablespoon of (fresh) lemon juice before serving.

1 1/2 cups dried lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, diced ( about 1 heaping cup diced)
3 celery stalks, diced (about 1 heaping cup diced)
2 gloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
7 cups water (or chicken broth)
12 oz canned crushed tomatoes ( I used Pomi, Italian tomatoes in a little box)

Sautee vegetables in olive oil in large Dutch oven. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hrs. Adjust seasonings as desired. (Now is time to add lemon juice, if you prefer  it to the vinegar!) Serve with freshly cracked black pepper and hearty bread! ENJOY!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Stuffed Shells

One of my 2018 New Year resolutions is to return to sharing recipes with you. I suspect that some of you have seen this one and perhaps even made it, but with the cold weather we are having, it is perfect! 

If you cannot find fresh basil, dried basil will do.. just use 1/2 as much. Shortcut it with commercial marinara sauce and you have a quick meal. This freezes well, so make a whole batch and freeze half!

Happy New Year! Happy cooking! 

Stuffed Shells

16 jumbo pasta shells (Cook a couple of extra shells to allow for a few       breaking while the pasta cooks.)
1-1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp fresh garlic, minced
4 cups (packed) fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped
12 oz skim milk ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded skim-milk mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 egg
1Tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1-1/4 cups marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

         Cook the pasta al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the garlic and cook until it begins to brown, about a minute or two. Add the spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leaves begin to wilt but are still bright green, about 3 to 4 minutes. The spinach should be reduced by half. Remove from the heat and let cool.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, basil and salt and pepper until thoroughly combined. 

        Pour 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a shallow 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish. Stuff each pasta shell with a generous amount of the spinach and ricotta mixture, and place in the baking dish.
Cover with the remaining sauce and bake covered with aluminum foil for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top begins to brown and the sauce begins the bubble, another 10-15 minutes. Serve warm with a dusting of Parmesan.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


My absolute favorite time in the mountains is fall....colors, smells and FOOD! And what better food than apples fresh from the orchard? Since I've made several trips to our favorite orchard in Blue Ridge, GA and my refrigerator is full of apples, I decided it's time for some of our favorite apple recipes.

Apple Dumplings are one of our all- time favorite desserts! Especially when served warm and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. There are several variations on this recipe, but I think this one is the best. You can use refrigerated commercial crescent rolls, refrigerated commercial pie crust, frozen ( thawed) puff pastry OR make your own pie crust to roll around the apples. You can leave the apples whole ( peeled and cored, of course) or cut into quarters ( or smaller depending on the size of the apple!)  Here's what I made last night and they were a huge hit!


1 recipe Master Pie Crust
4 to 6 fresh apples, Rome, Jonagold, Pink Lady or your favorite, peeled, cored and cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup ( if you don't have any, just leave it out and add more liquid)
3/4 cup apple juice or cider
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* I added 2 T Calvados ( only because I still have a bottle from our trip to Normandy, France)

Roll out pie crust to 1/4" thick and cut into triangles ( or separate crescent rolls) . Roll each triangle around an apple wedge. Place in a greased 9x13" pan, pointed side down. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over apples. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 - 35 mnutes until crust is golden brown.
Spoon liquid over dumplings. Serve warm topped with ice cream!  Yield: 12 dumplings

1/2 this recipe for 12 apple dumplings or make full recipe and freeze half.
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes and frozen
1/4 cup Crisco, cut into cubes and frozen
3/4 cup ice water

Process flour, sugar, salt, butter and Crisco in a food processor for 25 seconds or until mixture resembles tiny pebbles. Gradually add ice water, process until dough just begins to stick together. Turn out onto plastic wrap, wrap tightly and refrigerate at least 1 hr or overnight.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Southern Girl Goes Greek!

We were having company for dinner and I wanted to do something different. Greek sounded good to me for a hot summer night! Thanks to my DH for grilling! We had a lovely dinner with homemade pita. After many years of trying others, this recipe worked!  The little pockets puffed up in the oven and looked beautiful! I'm making up for lost time and posting ALL of the recipes from our dinner! I hope you'll try some or all and let me know what you like best!

Greek Dinner for 4 ( with lots of leftovers!)

Watermelon Feta Salad
Herbed Grilled Veggies
Marinated Pork with Tzatziki Sauce
Plain Pita Bread
Lemon Ice Cream
Sugar Cookies

Watermelon Feta Salad

I halved the recipe and had plenty leftover! 
1 7-8 lb. seedless watermelon, chilled
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 limes, juiced
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup fresh chopped mint leaves
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese (goat or sheep milk feta is best)

Note: This salad is best made just prior to serving. Prepare one hour or less before your meal.
Cut rind from the watermelon, then chop the fruit into 1 inch chunks. Place chunks in a colander to drain as your chop.
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, fresh lime juice, salt, and black pepper to create a dressing.
Place watermelon in a large salad bowl. Pour dressing and chopped mint over the watermelon and toss gently to coat.
Pour the crumbled feta into the salad bowl and stir gently to integrate the cheese into the salad. Serve.
The salt and the citrus in the dressing will activate the juices in the watermelon, so a lot of liquid will collect in the bottom of the salad bowl. This is normal, and does not affect the flavor. To avoid having liquid transfer to your plate, serve the salad with a slotted spoon.

Plain Pita
2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 packet or scant tablespoon active dry yeast
5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 scant tablespoon salt
Pitas are best made ahead of time so they'll have a chance to cool and deflate before you fill them. So if you're going biking or hiking on the weekend, you'll probably want to make them up during the week.

If you work away from home during the day or even if you work at home, you can make up a sponge, with about half the flour. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water. Add 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour. Stir with a whisk and let sit for 10 minutes to give the yeast a chance to get going. When you get back to the sponge later on, add the salt and enough flour to make a dough that is a bit stiff, one that you can easily knead by hand.

Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface and knead it until it is smooth and bouncy, adding only enough more flour to keep it from sticking to the board or you. Give it a rest for about 5 minutes to relax the gluten and make it more cooperative about being shaped. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Flatten each piece with your hand and then roll each piece with a floured rolling pin, or a pin with a cover, on a floured surface into a circle about 6-inches in diameter and 1/8-inch thick. You may need to let the pieces rest occasionally to relax the dough.

Sprinkle baking sheets with cornmeal, and place two circles on each. Or place circles on pieces of parchment paper. Let the dough circles rest here for at least 15 minutes while you preheat your oven to a hot 500°F.

When the pita circles have finished resting, place the baking sheet on the oven bottom or, if this is not possible, on the lowest rack. If you're using a baking stone, make sure it's on the oven floor, or on the lowest rack. Use a peel to transfer the pitas-on-parchment to the stone. Close the oven door and keep it shut for 1 minute. Don't peek or the pocket may not form. It's this initially fast, hot searing of the outside dough of the pita that makes it separate from the inside. The carbon dioxide gas created by the yeast expands inside and accentuates the separation until the pita blows up like a balloon and the pocket is created.

At the end of the minute, place the sheet on a rack higher in the oven and continue baking anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes, until the pitas have blown up into balloons and are lightly browned. If the pitas baked right on the stone, you'll probably want to transfer them to a baking sheet, which is already in place on the oven rack, for this second part of their baking. When they're done, remove the baking sheet from the oven, slide the pitas off and let them cool. They will probably deflate somewhat after cooling. Once they're thoroughly cool you can press more air out of them so they take up less storage room.

From several years ago:

 Pork with Tzatziki Sauce

I am forever indebted to my Cousin Carol for sharing her recipe for Taztziki Pork! It has become one of our favorites for grilling season. You can use pork loin, cubed or pork tenderloin (whole or cubed) or just boneless pork chops. You can't go wrong with this recipe! Serve the skewers with pita bread, sauce and roasted peppers.

Pork Marinade
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, minced (or more!)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon Cavendar’s Greek Seasoning
3 ½ pounds pork, cubed

Mix ingredients in large glass measuring cup. Pour into Ziploc bag, add pork, seal and refrigerate several hours. Remove from marinade, skewer pork cubes and grill.

Tzatziki Sauce
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, grated, drained
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dill weed
1 clove garlic, minced or crushed (or more!)

Grate cucumber. Place in colander lined with a large coffee filter; add salt, let drain (overnight,if you can). Squeeze out moisture. Combine with remaining ingredients.

These are as good cold as they are warm! Pouring the sauce/marinade over the cooked veggies allows them to absorb the flavors. Grill enough for leftovers. You'll be glad you did! Add your favorite veggies.... thick slices of onion, tomato halves... etc.... these are one of our favorites!

Grilled Herbed Summer Veggies
1 large eggplant
2 med yellow squash
2 med zucchini
2 med red peppers
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, thyme or tarragon, chopped

Slice eggplant crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Sprinkle with salt on both sides and set aside for 30 minutes. Rinse salt from eggplant; pat dry with paper towels.

Cut squash and zucchini in half lengthwise. Cut pepper into 1-inch wide strips. Brush all vegetables lightly with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Place on grill over medium heat. Grill for 8 minutes on each side or until fork tender and brown. Remove from heat, place in a serving dish with sides. Mix 1/4 cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, parsley and basil. Pour over cooked vegetables. Let stand for at least 15 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers.

Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar for rolling cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Using a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and very fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and roll in sugar. Place on lined cookie sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

Easy Lemon Ice Cream

1 and 1/2 cups heavy cream ( I used 1/2 and 1/2 because that was what I had!)
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
5 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup lemon juice ( next time, I will reduce to 1/2 cup because this was too bitter!)

Mix cream, milk, sugar, zest and salt in saucepan until sugar is dissolved and bring to a boil.
Beat the yolks in a bowl until light yellow.
Pour the hot cream mixture into beaten yolks gradually and stirring constantly.
Pour this mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium low heat until it coats the back of the spoon (3-5 minutes).  Stir constantly; don’t let it boil!
Stir in lemon juice and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Chill in the fridge about 3 hours.
Transfer to the bowl of an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Spoon into an airtight container and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.
Take it out of freezer 5-10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Scalloped Pineapple and Easy Pie

A Southern Easter dinner table will be filled with ham, potato salad, deviled eggs, fresh green beans and/or asparagus and my personal favorite, Scalloped Pineapple. And don't forget the homemade crescent rolls and desserts..... yuuummmmmm! Of COURSE you KNOW there are absolutely NO calories on this table! It's the leftovers that are calorie laden! HA! HA!

Try these recipes ( both can be made ahead). Scalloped Pineapple is best served at room temperature.... and the Easy Pie IS easy as pie!

Scalloped Pineapple
4 cups French bread cubes
1 (20oz) can pineapple chunks
2 cups sugar
1 stick butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss bread cubes with pineapple. Place in a greased 2-qt baking dish. Combine sugar, melted butter and eggs; pour over bread mixture. Bake for 30 minutes. 

This pie is so easy and versatile, I just call it Easy Pie! If you love cheesecake, you will love this, too!
Top with your favorite fresh fruit ( raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, a combination of all or even canned cherry pie filling ). 

Easy Pie
Graham Cracker Crust
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups fresh berries

Combine cream cheese, lemon juice and sugar in mixer bowl and cream until fluffy. Stir in sour cream. Spoon into graham cracker crust. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Before serving, top with fresh fruit. If desired, brush with a glaze of melted jelly - raspberry, apple or apricot. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Reuben Casserole

If you are a fan of Reuben sandwiches, this casserole will be perfect for you! My friend, Marsha Elliot, shared it with me and declares it a winner. The original comes from 12 and is "borrowed" from there.

Happy St Patrick's Day!


6 slices rye bread, divided
1 pound pastrami or corned beef, thinly sliced or shaved
1 (14.5 oz.) can sauerkraut
4 cups Swiss Cheese, shredded
1 cup dill pickles, chopped
1 cup milk
1/3 cup Thousand Island dressing
1/4 cup mustard
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons caraway seeds

Preheat oven to 350ยบ F and lightly grease a 9×11-inch baking dish with butter or non-stick spray.
Take four pieces of rye bread and cut them into cubes. Place remaining bread in food processor, pulse until you’ve got fine breadcrumbs and set aside.
Spread cubed bread out along the bottom of your baking dish, then cover with 1/2 of pastrami. Top beef with sauerkraut, pickles, half of caraway seeds and 2 cups cheese.
Cover with remaining beef, caraway seeds and cheese.
In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, salad dressing and mustard, then beat in eggs until combined.
Pour wet ingredients evenly over the casserole, then top with breadcrumbs
Place baking dish in oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until mixture is bubbly, top is browned and center is set.

Remove from oven and serve hot.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Savory Sausage Muffins and Sticky Bun Biscuits

Do you sometimes get the "breakfast blahs"? I eat cereal most mornings but sometimes just get a taste for something warm and gooey or savory. Both of these recipes use convenience foods (OH! Did I REALLY say that?) and are Quick and Easy! You can make variations of both - just let your imagination and taste buds be your guide! 

Savory Sausage-Swiss Muffins
½ lb. spicy ground sausage, cooked and crumbled
1 ¾ cups Bisquick
¾ teaspoons ground sage
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
½ cup grated Swiss cheese
1 large egg, beaten
½ cup milk

Combine all ingredients. Stir just to moisten. Spoon batter into greased muffin pans, filling 2/3 full. Bake at 375 for 22 minutes. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 1 dozen

Sticky Bun Biscuits
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
¾ cup butter or margarine
½ cup light corn syrup
1 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
18 frozen biscuits

Combine first 3 ingredients in a saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth. Pour mixture into a greased 9x13-inch pan; sprinkle with pecans. Top with biscuits. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 -22 minutes or until done.

Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes. Invert onto serving platter; remove pan. Spoon additional brown sugar glaze over biscuits. Serve immediately. Yield: 1 ½ doz.