Sunday, January 30, 2011

Shrimp Corn Salsa

My dear friend and fellow "foodie", Nora, gave me this recipe with the note that someone brought it to her brother's birthday party and she thought she'd died and gone to heaven.... her exact words. I'll let you be the judge!

Shrimp Corn Salsa
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste!)
3/4 pound medium shrimp (peeled and chopped)
1 (15-oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
1/3 cup chopped red onion

Combine ingredients in a large bowl and refrigerate until serving.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Black Pepper Bacon Drop Biscuits

This recipe is from Cook's Illustrated. You could add cheese and/or cooked sausage to these. And you could drop them by tablespoons for appetizers (think Super Bowl Party!)

If buttermilk isn't available, clabbered milk can be used instead. To make clabbered milk, mix 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and let stand 10 minutes. A 1/4-cup scoop can be used to portion the batter. To refresh day-old biscuits, heat them in a 300-degree oven for 10 minutes.

Black Pepper Bacon Drop Biscuits
6 strips bacon , cut in half lengthwise and then crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup buttermilk (cold)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly (about 5 minutes), plus 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing biscuits

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 475 degrees. Fry bacon in 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate and cool to room temperature.

Whisk flour, pepper, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, cooled bacon, and salt in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and 8 tablespoons melted butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter forms small clumps.

Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl. Using greased 1/4-cup dry measure, scoop level amount of batter and drop onto parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet (biscuits should measure about 2 1/4 inches in diameter and 1 1/4 inches high). Repeat with remaining batter, spacing biscuits about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until tops are golden brown and crisp, 12 to 14 minutes.

Brush biscuit tops with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Mini Meat Loaves

Perfect recipe for you gals with kids! Bake the mini meat loaves in muffin pans and freeze the leftovers. Bake in mini muffin pans for appetizers.

Mini Meat Loaves
1 pound ground sirloin or ground round
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup soft breadcrumbs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup salsa
1 cup BBQ sauce

Chop the veggies in a food processor (so kids can't tell what they are!). Combine all ingredients except salsa and BBQ sauce. Combine salsa and BBQ sauce in a small bowl. Reserve 1/2 of the mixture for topping. Add remaining sauce to meatloaf mixture. Don't overmix or the meatloaf will be tough. Spoon 1/2 cup meatloaf mixture into muffin pans. Top with sauce. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 - 20 minutes. Yield: 12 mini loaves.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cashew Chicken Recipe

This recipe came from the BrownEyed Baker ( She usually bakes, but she threw this one in last week. It sounded great, so tonite we had it for supper. Of course, I have a couple of suggestions, but it was a hit as is. Chicken tenders were on sale at our local grocery store last week and enough to make this dish was only $2.50! What a deal!!

Cashew Chicken
Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 45 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes

1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenders, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons dry sherry (or cooking wine, or omit)
2 teaspoons minced, peeled fresh ginger
3½ teaspoons cornstarch, divided
Coarse salt
½ cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup unsalted cashews
2 green onions, white and green parts divided and thinly sliced
Hot cooked rice

1. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the sherry, ginger, and 1½ teaspoons cornstarch; season with coarse salt. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the chicken broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and 2 teaspoons cornstarch. Set aside.

3. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add half of the chicken and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to the skillet and cook the remaining chicken (reduce the heat if the chicken is over-browning). Transfer to the covered plate.

4. In the same skillet, add the remaining teaspoon of vegetable oil. Add the cashews, garlic, and green onion whites. Cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic begins to soften, about 30 seconds. Whisk the sauce again to combine and add to the skillet along with the chicken. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 30 seconds. Serve over rice or noodles and top with the green onion greens.

Helen's Notes: Start far enough in advance to let the chicken sit in the marinade in the refrigerator. Keep fresh ginger in the freezer; it grates well on a microplane while frozen, so I grated instead of mincing. I keep a bottle of sherry in the pantry. It has less salt than cooking sherry and goes farther (cheaper in the long run). I did not have green onions, so used a medium onion, thinly sliced. I would have liked more sauce, so next time, I will 1 1/2 times the sauce ingredients. Also, I substituted white wine vinegar for the rice vinegar and added an extra teaspoon of sugar. AND I added a package of fresh snow peas with the sauce and chicken. They were bright green and tender-crisp... perfect!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Oven Roasted Broccoli

The Oven Roasted Cauliflower was such a hit that I tried it with broccoli! WOW! This was THE best broccoli recipe I've ever made! Oven roasting gives it a sweet, nutty flavor... a huge improvement over steamed.

Oven Roasted Broccoli and Garlic
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 bunch broccoli, trimmed,washed and separated into flowerets
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place unpeeled garlic in a small pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove from water, peel (slice large cloves) and combine with broccoli flowerets in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss well. Spread on ungreased baking pan. Bake, stirring several times, until broccoli is lightly browned (about 8-10 minutes). Remove from oven, sprinkle lightly with olive oil (if desired) and enjoy!!!

Helen's Notes: You might like to sprinkle the cooked broccoli with lemon juice. Or toast some Panko crumbs until light brown. When broccoli is cooked, toss Panko with grated Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over the broccoli.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Oatmeal Rasin or Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Comfort food just like Grandma used to make! Not only are these good, they're good for you and they make the house smell wonderful while they're baking! They only yield about 2 1/2 dozen, so you can get your homemade cookie "fix" and move on. This is actually the first thing I've baked since Christmas!

Oatmeal Raisin or Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all -purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, if making Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
3 cups uncooked oatmeal (NOT instant)
1 (12-oz)pkg semi sweet chocolate chunks or 1 cup raisins (or both!)
1 cup chopped toasted pecans, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating well. Combine dry ingredients. Add to creamed mixture; stir until well blended ( I use the mixer at the lowest speed.) Gently stir in chocolate chips (or raisins) and nuts, if desired.

Drop by rounded tablespoons 2-in apart onto ungreased baking sheets (line with parchment paper, if you have it). Bake for 10 minutes or until brown around the edges. Cool on pan 2 to 3 minutes and remove to wire racks. Yield: 2 1/2 doz. cookies

Helen's Notes: I have made these with chocolate chunks and raisins, nuts and added 1 cup coconut! You could substitute dried cranberries and white chocolate. Or whatever your heart desires. I shaped them by hand into hearts instead of balls. A drizzle of powdered sugar glaze would dress them up.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Baked Grits with Rosemary, Roasted Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

This makes a nice company dish! Serve it with grilled steaks or grilled shrimp. Bake it in individual dishes for a special occasion. Or make it for family dinner... either way, its a real treat!

Baked Grits with Rosemary, Roasted Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
18 cherry (or grape) tomatoes, sliced in half
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cups water
1 cup old fashion grits (NOT instant!)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, or to taste
1 cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 400. Place tomatoes cut side up on a small baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil. Roast tomatoes in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Butter an 8 to 10-inch round baking dish with sides at least 1-inch high. Bring water to boil in large saucepan. Slowly add grits and salt, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes until grits are nicely thickened. Whisk in butter and pour grits into buttered baking dish. Dot grits with tomatoes, sprinkle with rosemary and goat cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Serves 6.

Helen's Notes: Use the amt of goat cheese to your taste. I reduced it to 1/2 cup.

Small Roma tomatoes work, too. Just cut in half lengthwise. Even folks who proclaim not to like grits, love this side dish.

Warm French Lentils

Dinner tonite courtesy of Barefoot Contessa's How Easy is THAT? cookbook.

"Like other legumes, lentils are low in fat and high in protein and fiber, but they have the added advantage of cooking quickly. Lentils have a mild, often earthy flavor, and they're best if cooked with assertive flavorings. The best, most delicate lentils are the peppery French green lentils. These hold their shape well, but take longer to cook than other lentils. The milder brown lentils also hold their shape after cooking, but can easily turn mushy if overcooked. Before cooking, always rinse lentils and pick out stones and other debris. Unlike dried beans and peas, there's no need to soak them. Lentils cook more slowly if they're combined with salt or acidic ingredients, so add these last. Bigger or older lentils take longer to cook. Store dried lentils for up to a year in a cool, dry place. Substitutes: split peas OR black-eyed peas"

Warm French Lentils
Serve hot with garlicky French sausages (Ok, in my world, Johnsonville Brats.)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, white and green parts, sliced 1/4-in thick (or 1/2 cup sliced onion)
2 carrots, diced (1/2-inch dice= chopped??)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup French green LePuy lentils (hmmm.... I have on hand, a 1-lb bag generic brown lentils)
1 whole onion, peeled and stuck with 6 whole cloves
1 turnip, cut in half
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in medium saute pan, add leek and carrots, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute and set aside.

Meanwhile, place the lentils, 4 cups water, onion, and turnip in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add leek and carrots, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are almost tender. Remove and discard the onion and turnip and drain the lentils. Place them in a medium bowl and add the buter.

Meanwhile, whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. Add to the lentils, stir well, and allow to cool until just warm, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

Helen's note: I will serve mine hot with leftover lemon roasted chicken or with sausages.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

French Toast Casserole

Try this easy variation on traditional French toast. Put it together the night before and bake it while the coffee is brewing and everyone is waking up. Half the recipe for 6 servings. It also reheats well.. so make a big batch and enjoy for several meals!

French Toast Casserole
1 loaf (10 ounces) French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (10 cups)
8 eggs
3 cups milk
4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Topping:
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, cubed
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Maple syrup, optional

Place bread cubes in a greased 9x13-in baking dish. Beat eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt. Pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Dot with butter. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the top.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with syrup, if desired.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bread Machine Recipe

We have 7 inches of snow on the ground and are going nowhere. Perfect day for the house to smell of fresh baked bread! Bring out the bread machine (Really, who makes it from scratch the old fashion way anymore?)and try this recipe. I made it yesterday; it was delicious with supper and great slathered with "real" butter and toasted for breakfast today. While the recipe name is Corn Bread, it is yeast bread with a small amount of cornmeal added. I use medium ground Hoover's Cornmeal from a small grocery store outside of Panama City, FL (Thanks to my dear friend, Judi!). Any cornmeal will do, preferably NOT cornmeal mix which contains baking powder and salt.

Corn Bread for Bread Machine

1 egg, room temp (place in a small bowl of warm water to bring to room temp quickly)
enough water added to the egg to make 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons liquid
3 tablespoons cooking oil
3 tablespoons honey
3 cups all-purpose flour (bread flour, if you have it)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons dry milk
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 envelope dry yeast

Place ingredients in order listed in bread machine. Set on White Bread setting for 1.5 loaf size and medium crust. Go away for about 3 hours and return to a hot loaf of scrumptious homemade bread!!!! How easy is THAT??????

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Garlic-Roasted Cauliflower Recipe

Celebrities have never interested me, BUT if I could sit down at just anyone's dinner table it would most definitely be Ina Garten,The Barefoot Contessa! Imagine my excitement when Kelley gave me the NEW Ina Garten cookbook for my BIG-O birthday! She and I drooled over each page and decided to cook our way through it (seasonally)-much like in the movie Julie and Julia. Tonite was the beginning of what I expect to be a wonderful journey for all of us! I will post the "best of the best" for you!! I will edit as I see fit... and add notes where needed.

This was a longshot, but I am trying to add more veggies to our meals. Tired of boring green beans, I thought this might be just what we needed to perk up a cold winter nite. It is scrumptious!!! Past yummy.. and sooo simple!

Garlic-Roasted Cauliflower
from How Easy is That? by Ina Garten,The Barefoot Contessa

1 whole head (or bulb) of garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
1 LARGE head cauliflower, trimmed and broken into florets
4 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
Kosher (or sea) salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley (Italian or flat leaf)
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (I didn't have these, but it was great without!)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the garlic cloves. Boil for 15 seconds. Drain, peel, and cut off any brown parts. Cut the largest cloves in half lengthwise.

On a sheet pan, toss the cauliflower with garlic, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Spread the mixture out in a single layer and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, tossing twice, until the cauliflower is tender and the garlic is lightly browned.

Scrape the cauliflower into a large bowl along with the garlic and pan juices. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, parsley, pine nuts and lemon juice. Sprinkle with another 1/2 teaspoon salt, toss well, serve hot or warm. Yield: 6 servings.

Helen's notes: I did not have pine nuts, but it was still delicious without them.
I also did not add the last 1 1/2 tablespoons oil at the end. I did not measure the oil used at the first of the recipe and thought it had enough after it was cooked. Use your judgement! The lemon IS necessary .. it brightens the flavors and finishes it off beautifully. I'm not a big fan of cauliflower, but went back for seconds of this! Enjoy!!

( Uh oh! Sure hope I don't go to jail for posting this recipe! If I do, please bring me chocolate ice cream!)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chicken With White Beans and Tomatoes | Real Simple Recipes

Chicken With White Beans and Tomatoes Real Simple Recipes
Click on the name above and it will take you to the recipe!

This looks yummy! Good one pot meal for a cold winter nite! I think I'll try it, how about you??? Be sure to add 1/2 cup white wine before cooking. If you don't have fresh herbs, use 1/4 as much dried herbs. I'll make mine in my large LeCrueset Dutch oven (Or can a French cookware pot be called a Dutch oven???)

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix Recipe

Snuggle down with a hot cup of cocoa and watch it snow.... Recipe from America's Test Kitchens.

Best-Ever Hot Cocoa Mix
Makes about 20 servings

3 cups nonfat dry milk
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Combine ingredients in large bowl. Working in two batches, pulse ingredients in food processor until chocolate is finely ground. Store in airtight container for up to 3 months. To make hot cocoa, stir 1/3 cup of this mix into 1 cup of hot milk. Top with whipped cream or mini marshmallows., preferably homemade! :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I have a BIG, significant, ending in "0" birthday coming up soon. We went to ATL to celebrate with some of the family. The weather folks said it will start snowing tonite in the mtns and snow for several days. We ditched the birthday dinner plans (bummer! I NEVER get to go out to eat!!) and headed for the hills - literally. But, you know what? I had the best birthday a mama could have. I had time (although brief) with my wonderful daughter of whom I am soooo proud and love soooo much, snuggle time with baby Emmie (and made lots of secret plans for when she gets older) and saw the disappointment on Kelley's face when we decided we had better make a hasty retreat. Just the fact that I know how much she loves me is enough. Just the snuggling with Emmie is enough. Just seeing what a happy little family they are and how much Zach (my son-in-law) loves my girls is enough.

Life is not about things. Life is about enough. Enough love, enough courage, enough hope, enough great memories. There have been many times in my _0 years that ALL I had were my children. And you know what? They were always enough. And they always will be.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Potato Soup Recipe

Cold weather... warm steaming bowls of soup... true comfort food! Take advantage of the cold winter to make some really good soups and stews. This potato soup is thick and hearty!
Serve it for dinner with a crisp salad and thick chunks of hearty bread.

Potato Soup
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
3 cups diced potatoes (Idaho or russet)
2 cups chicken broth
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 large can Pet milk (evaporated milk or 1 cup 2 & 1/2)
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion in butter in large Dutch oven. Add potatoes and broth. Cook until potatoes are fork tender. Add remaining ingredients, stirring constantly. Cook until all ingredients are heated and well combined. If you have a stick blender, blend briefly until you have a chunky texture. If you do not have a stick blender, you can put 2 cups soup in a blender and puree, then add back to the pot. If you have none of these, use a potato masher or back of a fork and mash part of the potatoes. Or, if you like chunky potato soup, don't mash or blend at all!!!!