Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Grandma's Sour Cream Walnuts

This is Grandma's recipe as I copied it onto a recipe card when I was a girl:

1 lb walnuts
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 T vanilla
Mix sugar and sour cream. Bring to a boil and boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Add nuts and stir. Remove from pan. Put on waxed paper to dry. Separate; dry overnight.

I found that I had to keep stirring the mixture on the stove so it wouldn't burn on the bottom. You have to watch the clock carefully to make sure it is cooked long enough. A similar recipe here contains brown sugar in place of some of the sugar and instructs the cook to boil to 236 degrees using a candy thermometer. Other variations I saw listed the 2 cups of sugar along with the sour cream and 4 cups of walnuts. Enjoy!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tasty Soups with Greens

I loved this flavorful soup published originally in Parenting magazine, here. It makes a huge amount, so I cut it down quite a bit. I don't like my carrots and celery too soft, so I added them later, after the lentils had cooked for a little bit. Delicious! Molly, my two year old, loved it, too.

Lemony Lentil Soup with Greens
Even kids love this hearty, healthy soup with a tasty hint of citrus
By Ellie Krieger

PREP TIME: 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 55 minutes

2 tsp canola oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz green or brown lentils
12 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
8 cups chopped kale leaves (about 6 oz)
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

PER SERVING: 410 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated), 600 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol

1. Heat the oil in a 6-quart pot over medium-high heat. Cook the onion until softened and translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Add the carrot, celery, and garlic. Cover and stir occasionally, until the carrots are tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the lentils, broth, basil, thyme, and salt, and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce the heat to low, then add the kale (leave out for picky eaters!); cook until the lentils are tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Add additional broth if necessary.
5. Stir in the lemon juice and zest, and serve.

I have yet to try this one, but it sounds like a similar type of soup. This recipe for Spinach and Leek White Bean Soup is found on and can be found by clicking here. Make sure you read the reviews because several people suggested leaving out the couscous and others substituted other herbs for the cumin.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cooking with Jack Daniels

I recently started reviewing books on my blogs for Thomas Nelson publishers. The first title I chose was The Search for God and Guinness. Fittingly, I selected a Jack Daniel’s cookbook for my next review. My husband is worrying a little about my focus on alcohol… And to think that Thomas Nelson is a Christian publisher!
Having lived mostly in suburban Midwest and Texas, I felt like I was reading about the culture and food of a foreign people when I browsed the pages of the Jack Daniel’s Spirit of Tennessee Cookbook. Scattered among the recipes are stories of people, places and customs. Not to be missed is the history “Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House”, while I wish I had skipped “Possum and Sweet ‘Taters”!
The recipes themselves are a thorough collection of Southern favorites with modern adaptations and creations. While every chapter contains recipes calling for Jack Daniel’s Whisky, like Intoxicated Chicken, there are many dishes that are just representative of the food served in Lynchburg, Tennessee, the home of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. I am eager to try Lynchburg Lemonade (p.20), a spiked citrus drink. I also have dog-eared the page with instructions for Chocolate Souffle Cake (p.160), a flourless cake perfect for my gluten intolerant husband. I think I’ll skip the possum and just make the Tipsy Sweet Potatoes (p.74)!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Creamy, Creamy Shells and Cheese

I threw this together for lunch today for my parents and brother. My fridge and pantry were pretty empty, but we had some random ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350 deg.

You'll need:
1/2 box pasta (I used whole grain shells)
2 cups shredded cheese
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
salt, pepper, garlic powder

Prepare pasta according to package directions and drain. While still hot, stir in 1 cup cheese, whipping cream, tomatoes and seasoning. Pour into 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted. Bon Appetit!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Chicken & Chilis Casserole

My friend Tricia at had a link to this recipe on her September menu. I'm posting it here because I don't want to lose it! It is full of Ryan's favorite things- cheese, chicken and potatoes. I can't make it yet because we don't have all of the ingredients in the house, but I hope to try it soon!

Click here!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Toll House Pie

Have you ever tried this pie? It is amazing. My mother-in-law used to make it for my husband's birthday all the time until he stopped eating gluten. The recipe only uses 1/2 cup flour, so I'm going to attempt to make it this week by substituting Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix. I'm also going to just bake it in a pan without the crust. I'll then cut pieces or scoop it out warm and top it with ice cream. I'll prepare it the traditional way for guests. It is very rich because of the butter and sugars, and I love to eat it chilled. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Feta Cheese For Me!

I love feta and eagerly prepare most recipes containing it. Last week I bought the 8 oz packaged Athenos feta that is in block form, as opposed to being crumbled. I prefer to buy it this way as it is easier to cut a piece off to snack on! I bought the feta to stuff in to banana peppers. I think that an associate principal, Lynn, from my teaching days gave me this idea.

Feta Stuffed Banana Peppers

10-12 fresh banana peppers (Look for these in the summer at the farmer's market. Make sure they are "sweet" or "mild" peppers.)
4 oz block feta cheese
extra virgin olive oil

The peppers can be sauteed or baked. If baking, preheat oven to 350 deg. Slice down the side of the pepper lengthwise. Make a T-shaped slit by slicing it across near the stem. Pry open and scrape out seeds and ribs.

Cut feta into thin slices that can be stuffed into the peppers. Stuff peppers.

Sauteeing Instructions: Secure closed with toothpicks. Heat olive oil in a skillet (I prefer cast iron.) over medium heat. Add peppers, and sautee until softened turning often.

Baking Instructions: In a 9 x 9 glass baking pan, slit-side up. Sprinkle peppers with olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes until peppers are tender.

Hummus and Feta on Rustic Bread

To build a sandwich, spread a tablespoon of hummus on each of two pieces of rustic bread. On one piece, place spinach leaves atop the hummus. On the other side, put slices of feta. Put two sides together to make a flavorful sandwich. If using bagged bread, toast before using.

Hummus and Feta Wrap

Spread two tablespoons of hummus on a whole wheat tortilla. Sprinkle with chopped tomatoes, crumbled feta, and spinach leaves. Roll up and enjoy! This was one of my favorite lunches while pregnant.

Greek Salad

I'm not sure if it is still open, but there was a restaurant named Harper's in East Lansing, MI. The Greek Salad at Harper's had finely chopped toppings. When the ingredients are chopped small, the flavors blend well. This is my favorite way to construct a salad:

5 oz bagged romaine or baby spinach leaves, sliced a little to make leaves slightly smaller
1 medium tomato chopped finely
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
3/4 cup crumbled feta, or feta cut into tiny cubes
1/2 cucumber, chopped finely
1/4 cup sliced green olives
1/4 cup sliced calamata olives (can use black olives)
1/4 cup chopped pickled banana peppers (or garnish with pepperoncini)

Toss lettuce with toppings or top lettuce on individual plates with toppings. Generously sprinkle extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper on the salads. Serve with an ample amount of lemon wedges.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts with Jalapeno

We are trying to not eat red meat, but I still buy bacon! I love the flavor that it adds to chicken. Don't add salt because the bacon makes this salty enough.

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts With Jalapeno

2 chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise (I cut them to minimize the cooking time.)
four slices bacon
2 fresh jalapenos, cut in half lengthwise
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cut the stems off of the jalapenos and scoop out the seeds and ribs using a grapefruit spoon. Slice each half lengthwise into 3-4 strips.

Wrap each piece of chicken in a piece of bacon. Slip 3-4 strips of jalapeno under each piece of bacon. Lay in a shallow baking pan. Bake for 30-45 minutes until cooked thoroughly.

Woodstock Vermont Scones

I spent a year in Turkey a decade ago, and my roommate Kristen (who is a great cook) would make these scones. They are a great way to use up sour milk or little bits of dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate chips lingering in your pantry. I've adapted the recipe by halving it from the original because my non-gluten-eating husband cannot help me eat these. Beware, the recipe calls for A LOT of butter!

Woodstock Vermont Scones
4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt (I omit this because I use salted butter.)

3 sticks butter, softened
1 cup raisins, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, chopped dried apricots, craisins, etc
1 egg
3/4 c milk, sour milk or buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients (except fruit, chocolate and nuts) and knead 5 minutes. (I use the dough hook on my Kitchen Aid Mixer.) I usually divide the dough into two bowls and add different mix-ins to each.

Drop dough onto an ungreased baking sheet by generous tablespoonfuls. Bake 15-20 minutes until edges are slightly brown.

Turkish Style Stuffed Zucchini

At the farmer's market last Saturday, I looked longingly at the zucchini. I reminded myself that I never buy it in the summer because inevitably, a gardening friend is begging to give it away to anyone interested. Sure enough, yesterday Ryan brought home a box full of produce including seven zucchini. Here's a recipe that I found on the internet in 1997. The website doesn't appear to be in existence any more. My printout from the web says that the recipe is from "The Moosewood Cookbook", 1977. It is great as a side dish or as a vegetarian main course. I leave out the flour to make it gluten free, and the eggs are enough to hold the filling together.

Turkish Style Stuffed Zucchini

4 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
3 T butter
3/4 c minced onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 beaten eggs
1/2 c crumbled feta cheese
3/4 c grated swiss cheese
2 T freshly chopped parsley
1 T fresh chopped dill or 3/4 t dried dill
1 1/2 T flour
salt and pepper to taste
paprika to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Scoop out the insides of the zucchini to leave a 1/2 inch rim. Chop the innards into little bits and cook in butter with onions, garlic, salt, and pepper until onions are soft. Combine with flour, cheeses, herbs and beaten eggs. Add additional salt and pepper if desired. Fill the zucchini cavities and dust the tops with paprika.

Bake for 30 minutes or until filling solidifies. Serve with a fresh tomato salad.

Dark Chocolate Dipped Macaroons

I always check the ingredients of macaroons when I see them packaged in stores. They always contain flour, and it frustrates me because I know that it must be a very small amount of flour because they aren't a doughy cookie. I came across this recipe in a magazine that doesn't contain flour. They are delicious, and Ryan approves, too. It calls for 8 oz bittersweet chocolate. I just used some chocolate chips. The chocolate was a little soft at room temperature but adding a little paraffin wax might help.

Dark Chocolate Dipped Macaroons

Makes 2 dozen

3 large egg whites
3 T sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/4 t almond extract
1 pkg (7 oz) sweetened flaked coconut
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted

1. Heat oven to 325 deg. F. You'll need 2 baking sheets lined with nonstick foil. (Make sure it's nonstick or grease it liberally.)
2. Whisk egg whites, sugar and extracts in medium bowl until foamy. Stir in coconut until evenly mixed.
3. Drop by level tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until set and browned. Cool on wire rack.
4. Dip bottoms and tiny bit up side of macaroons in melted chocolate. Place on same foil lined baking sheets. (Or place on waxed paper.) Let stand at room temperature until set.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Jalapeno Poppers

One year I had a plentiful harvest of jalapenos from my garden. I created a jalapeno popper recipe for them.

Corn Tortilla Jalapeno Poppers

12 fresh jalapenos
1/2 block cream cheese
2-3 corn tortillas, cut into 1 inch strips
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Make a slit down the length of the jalapeno. At the stem end of the pepper, make a slit going across the top of the other one, forming a "T". Rummage in your utensil drawer to find a tiny spoon, knife or other instrument to scoop out the seeds and white ribs leaving the remainder of the pepper intact. Be careful to wear rubber gloves or try not to touch the innards of the pepper too much. After all peppers are scooped out, use a knife or spoon to spread cream cheese into the pepper. Put the tortillas in the microwave for 15 seconds to make them more pliable. Wrap the tortilla strips around the peppers and secure with a couple toothpicks.

Warm the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry peppers in small batches until tortillas brown and peppers soften. Drain on paper towels.

This next recipe was shared with me by my mom.

Bacon "Wrapped" Jalapeno Poppers
8 fresh jalapenos (if they aren't Texas-sized, use 12)
1/2 block cream cheese
4 slices uncooked bacon, cut into fourths

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut off stems and cut peppers length-wise. Scrape out seeds and ribs using a grapefruit spoon. Spread cream cheese into each half-pepper. Set one piece of bacon a top each pepper. (I found that the bacon cooked evenly this way. You could also wrap the bacon around the peppers.) Place on a baking sheet for 30 minutes until peppers are soft and the bacon is cooked.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Shepherd's Salad

This is a Turkish recipe called Shepherd's salad. It is very refreshing.

2 medium tomatoes, chopped in tiny pieces
1 cucumber peeled, chopped in tiny pieces
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 fresh mild banana pepper or other mild pepper, seeded and chopped
Optional: chopped green onions
Toss veggies together. Drizzle liberally with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve with lemon wedges.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Cheesy Beef Enchilada Casserole

I believe that I got this recipe from a package of Market Pantry shredded cheese from Target. It is delicious, filling, and pretty easy. The hardest part for me is to find a can of enchilada sauce that is gluten free. I just found a 28 oz can of Las Palmas Enchilada Sauce at SuperTarget that does not contain any gluten. I used to think that red enchilada sauce was made of mainly tomato sauce, but surprisingly it contains none. It is mostly ground red chilies which gives it a rich peppery flavor. Here's the recipe:

1 lb lean ground beef
1 can (7 oz) diced green chilies
2 cans (10 oz each) red enchilada sauce
1 pkg (10 oz) yellow corn tortillas (12 tortillas), cut in half
3 cups shredded Mexican 4-cheese blend
sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown beef. Add chilies and 1 can sauce. Layer in a 9 x 13 pan as described:

1. Spread 1/2 can of sauce on bottom of pan.
2. Arrange 8 tortilla halves to cover.
3. Add 1/2 of meat mixture.
4. Sprinkle 1 cup cheese.
Repeat layers 2-4.
Finish with a final layer of tortillas and the remaining half can of sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes covered with foil until hot and bubbly. Sprinkle 1 cup of cheese and bake 5 minutes longer until melted. I like to finish it for a minute under the broiler to brown the cheese! Allow to cool a couple minutes before serving. Serve with generous spoonfuls of sour cream.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tasty Buffalo Chicken Dip and Olive Cheeseball

The first recipe is from one of the most beloved people of my childhood. I remember eating this cheeseball at Mary's house. She then wrote out a copy of the recipe for me when I was a young cook. My 19 month-old daughter loves olives. I made it this week because I thought she'd enjoy it. We enjoyed it with Pepperidge Farms Snack Sticks.

Mary's Cheesy Olive Ball

1 package cream cheese (cut in 6 pieces)
1/3 cup stuffed green olives (well-drained)
1/2 t. seasoned salt
1/8 to 1/4 t. garlic powder

With knife blade (in food processor), pulse to mix, about 60 seconds. It may be necessary to stop and stir mixture once or twice. Turn mixture out onto wax paper; mound into ball; wrap. Freeze 45 minutes then roll in ball. Can be covered in nuts or parsley.

This Franks Red Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe is great for those that love hot sauce. One time I was craving it, and had neither blue cheese dressing or blue cheese crumbles. I substituted ranch dressing, and it was still delicious. My mom made this once and substituted a hotter sauce. Because of the creamy ingredients that mellow the sauce, it still wasn't too spicy.

Franks Red Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip

1 pkg. 8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cans 9.75 oz chicken breast, drained
1/2 cup Red Hot sauce
1/2 cup blue cheese salad dressing
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
Assorted veggies and crackers

Stir cream cheese until smooth. Stir in other ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes 4 cups.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Kenyan Baked Fish

This recipe was in the local paper, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. I made it with cod. It was delicious and fresh-tasting! I love buying just one jalapeno pepper in the grocery store. It often costs around 9 cents because it weighs so little! The peppers don't have much heat after the seeds and white ribs are removed.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp seeded and finely chopped jalapeno pepper
16 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
2 T cider vinegar
1 1/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
4 (1-inch-thick) cod fillets or halibut steaks (2 lb total)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. To prepare the sauce, in a skillet, heat the oil over high heat until hot but not smoking; saute the onion, garlic, and jalapeno pepper until the onion is transparent. Stir in the tomatoes, vinegar, cumin, coriander and salt. Simmer, uncovered, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Place the fish in an ungreased oblong baking pan (I just baked mine in the large cast iron skillet that I sauteed the vegetables in). Spoon the sauce over the fish. Bake, uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 286 calories, 9 grams fat, 9 grams carbohydrates, 42 grams protein, 98 milligrams cholesterol, 668 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 28 percent of calories from fat

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Baked Potato Slices

2-3 large Russet potatoes
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
Lawry's Seasoned Salt
Garlic Powder

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Scrub potatoes. Slice into 1/4 inch disks. In a bowl, toss potato slices with olive oil. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and garlic powder. Toss until coated. On a baking sheet lined with foil, spread potatoes. Bake 20 minutes or until golden and tender, turning halfway through.

Mushroom Chicken with Green Beans

This was inspired by a recipe title I saw on I didn't even look at the recipe, but I put this together with things I had in the house.

2 large or 3-4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can Progesso Mushroom Soup
1 bag frozen green beans
extra virgin olive oil

Cut the breasts into 2 inch pieces. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add chicken breast pieces and cook 1-2 minutes on each side until browned. Reduce heat to medium and add soup. Stir gently. When soup bubbles, reduce to low heat and simmer. While this is simmering, cook green beans according to package directions. Allow chicken to simmer for 45 minutes until very tender. Stir in green beans. Season with salt and pepper. For more flavorful and tender beans, add them after chicken has simmered 30 minutes allow to cook with chicken for last 15 minutes.

Yummy Cookies that Happen to be Gluten Free

Both of these recipes are favorites at our home. The chocolate macaroons are from the revised version of the Hershey's 1934 cookbook. The peanut butter cookies I believe are from

Chocolate Macaroons
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 cups shredded coconut
1 t. vanilla

The recipe calls for the chocolate to be melted on a double broiler. I just melt it in the microwave. Cook 1 minute, stir. Cook 30 seconds longer. Stir, and repeat until melted. Stir in milk. Add coconut and vanilla. Stir to combine. Drop onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 deg. 10-12 minutes or until set. I usually take these out of the oven just before they are completely set. I let them set on the sheet for several minutes before removing. They sometimes stick to the pan and require a little care when removing them!

Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla

Combine all ingredients. The dough is sticky, but shape into a ball and flatten on ungreased cookie sheet. If unable to form a ball, drop by a spoon and flatten slightly. Bake at 350 deg. until barely set approximately 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly on sheet before removing.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Chicken Tacos

My favorite way to make taco filling is to put a couple chicken breasts in the crockpot. I add some water, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Because I'm usually at home, I monitor the cooking throughout the day. When it is cooked mostly through, I pull it apart with a couple forks and let it continue cooking. I usually start it on high and turn it to low about 45 minutes later. It turns out juicy and flavorful! Yum!