Wednesday, July 28, 2010


If you haven't tried homemade granola, this is a good place for you to start! It's easy and very satisfying. I will admit that after a day or so, the granola does not come out of the pan in these nice squares..... It kinda falls apart into a delicious, sticky jumble..... perfect for yogurt or vanilla ice cream.

Here's what you need:
2 C old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 C sunflower seeds (try to find the raw kind - I could not....)
1/2 C sliced almonds (today I used slivered almonds, which were just as good)
1/2 C wheat germ (this is also good on yogurt, if you are wondering what to do with the rest of the jar)
1/2 C honey
1/4 C dark brown sugar
2 T butter
2 t vanilla
6 1/2 ounces chopped fried fruit. Any combination would be great. Today I used an entire bag of Sunkist brand dried fruit.

Here's what you do:
Toast the oats, seeds, nuts and wheat germ in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Stir them around once in a while. Turn oven down to 300.

Grease a 9X13 pan.

Melt together the honey, sugar, butter, vanilla and salt.

Mix the warm grains, the melted goodness and the dried fruit. Do all this while it's still warm. Try not to eat too much of it at this point! It's so good.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press it all down with wax paper - careful- it's still hot..... Bake for 25 minutes at 300 degrees.

When the granola comes out of the oven, press it down again with wax paper.
Allow to cool completely.
Cut into squares or just dig in.
I adapted this from a Food Network recipe. I'd love to hear your granola stories! What grains and fruits work well for you? What have you tried?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

pizza dough

Pizza Dough

I don't know about you, but I have tried almost every pizza dough known to man-kind! When I was first learning to cook, I preferred using the frozen bread dough. I have also used every kind of dough found in those tubes in the dairy section of the grocery store. Many people have shared their recipes with me.
Last night though, I think I found the PERFECT PIZZA DOUGH! My husband bought me a pizza cookbook for Christmas and I must admit that I have not really cracked it open much..... very intimidating.....
Well, he wanted to try pizza on the grill, so we jumped in! So, so glad we did - I will never use any other type of dough.
Make this on a day when you have plenty of time to be patient while the dough is rising and resting.

In food processor mix the following:
3 1/3 C all purpose flour
1/4 C whole-wheat flour (this must be the secret ingredient....)
1 pkg. quick-rise yeast
1 T sugar
1 T salt

Slowly add 1 1/4 C lukewarm water and 2 t olive oil.

Pulse until it all comes together in a 'mass.' I found that I had to add a few more tablespoons of water, but if you do this, add them in small amounts so the dough doesn't get too wet.
Let the dough rest for 10 minutes - I actually set a timer so I didn't rush it!

Then process the dough again for 30 seconds. It should be 'tacky' but not 'sticky.'

Put the dough in an oiled bowl, turning it all around so the entire mass is covered in oil.
Cover with plastic and let it rise for 1 1/2 hours.

Turn dough onto floured board, punch down, shape into 2 balls, cover and let them rest for 10 minutes. I suppose at this point you could put one of the doughs in a zipper bag and freeze it for later - each of these balls made two lovely pizzas.

Cut each ball in half, start in the middle and use your fingers to spread and coax the dough into your desired shape. Be patient. If it wants to 'shrink' back into itself, it needs more resting time. I actually got mine rather thin, which was so exciting!

Cover it again and let it rest for another 15 minutes. Brush with oil, season with salt and pepper and proceed to top it with your favorite goodies.

We put the oiled side down on a clean grill, flipped it over and topped it with sauce, fresh mozzarella and veggies. When the grill was closed it acted like an oven and melted the cheese. The result was a thin, chewy, toasty and perfectly satisfying pizza.

Many thanks to "Pizza and Other Savory Pies" by Brigit Binns for this great recipe!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

jamaican kebabs

Jamaican Kebabs

Kebabs are always fun! I recently bought a dozen nice metal skewers and I actually have used them quite a bit. I think if you use wooded skewers for grilling, you should soak them in water before putting them on the flames. You don't want your entire meal up in flames! It's hard enough to deal with the metal skewers! I used long tongs to turn my kebabs on the grill.

I recently read that you can soak wooden skewers in apple juice before using which will impart more flavor to your kebab - that might be interesting to try.

Here's the recipe for the glaze, which I adapted from an old Cuisine At Home magazine:
1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic ( I always squeeze my garlic through a garlic press)
lime peel (I used 1 entire lime)
1/2 t dried oregano (original recipe calls for fresh, which I never have....)
1 T onion powder
1 T brown sugar
1/2 t allspice
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t cayenne pepper

It turns into a sweet and spicy, thick glaze which you brush on while grilling. I think next time I will double the recipe so there is more to use.....

As you can see, each skewer has cubes of boneless, skinless chicken breast, kielbasa- cut it on the diagonal for extra exposure to the flame. I think any type of kielbasa or polish sausage would be fine. I know there are now even turkey sausages and kielbasas. Of course the kebabs need lots of veggies too. I have used shrimp before, which is very good, but a bit tricky because of the shorter grilling time needed......

Can you imagine that at one point I was going to make 200 of these for my son's graduation open house? I was looking for something 'different' to serve! Instead of kebabs, I ended up serving brats, which was so much easier!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

linguini with chicken, asparagus and raspberry vinaigrette

Linguine with Chicken, Asparagus and Raspberry Vinaigrette

My sister made this delicious cold pasta for dinner last weekend when I was there visiting. The flavors were very fresh and a bit sweet, which was nice on a hot day. The raspberry vinegar was not easy to find but I think that's the secret to this salad, so don't be afraid to shop around until you find it. She sent her 16 year old son on a raspberry-vinegar-shopping-mission. Luckily, he just got his driver's license and didn't mind going from store to store!

For the salad:
1 pound tri-color pasta
fresh asparagus, steamed and cut in pieces
green onions
red pepper, cut in thin strips
toasted pine nuts (my sister really toasted them until they were nice and brown - excellent!)
chicken breasts, cooked and torn into bite size pieces.

Here's a great way to cook chicken breasts:
use breasts with the bone in and the skin on
drizzle with olive oil and liberally season with salt and pepper
place them skin side up on a baking sheet - be sure to use one that has sides, not the flat kind
roast in a 350 degree oven for about 35-40 minutes or until the juices run clear and a knife inserted into the thickest part of the meat slides out easily
cool for 1/2 hour
peel off the skin, tear the meat away from the bone and slice

For the dressing:
1/3 C raspberry wine vinegar
2 t dijon
2-3 t dried tarragon
1 green onion, cut in small pieces

Put all this in a blender and as it is whirling around, slowly add 1 C olive oil.
Adjust seasonings

Saturday, July 17, 2010

spinach lasagna

Spinach Lasagna - I am sharing this over at "This and That." Take a peek at the great link-up here.

I have been making this for years. It is really, really good and very simple to assemble. I got the recipe at a 'recipe shower' before I was married - 25 years ago!
Here's what you need:
9 lasagna noodles- follow the directions on the box to cook them. I don't think the 'ready-to-use' type of noodle would work here because there is not a lot of sauce in the layers of this lasagna.
10 oz fresh spinach- basically, 2 bags of the baby salad spinach leaves
about 1 lbs mozzarella, grated
about 30 oz ricotta cheese
1 1/2 jars marinara sauce
some good Parmesan to sprinkle on the top

There are no spices needed for this lasagna!
It has an excellent fresh taste when done.

Here's what to do:
put 1 C sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 pan ( I sprayed mine, just in case...)
layer 3 noodles
some ricotta- use the back of a spoon to spread it around
some spinach
some mozzarella
keep layering, ending with noodles

Feel free to press it all down with your hands as you go. The spinach has a tendency to want to keep springing up!

THEN pour the rest of the sauce over it all using a knife to help the sauce dribble down the sides of the dish. Don't worry about getting the sauce into the middle of the lasagna...... it won't matter.
I dusted mine with some freshly grated Parmesan for a nice chewy top.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes, add more fresh Parm if desired and enjoy! I waited about 30 minutes before cutting the first piece so it would come out of the pan nicely. I think waiting for a lasagna to rest is the secret to it looking picture perfect on the plate.
This one is definitely nice enough for company.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Greek pasta and spinach salad

Greek Pasta and Spinach Salad

When it's too hot to even think of cooking, I think cold salads. This is a quick and refreshing idea for a light meal on a hot day.

Salad ingredients might include:
feta cheese
good black olives- pitted
salad peppers
thinly sliced sweet onions
short, fat pasta
baby spinach leaves
diced, cold chicken breast

Here's a great way to cook chicken breasts:
use breasts with the bone in and the skin on
drizzle with olive oil and liberally season with salt and pepper
place them skin side up on a baking sheet - be sure to use one that has sides, not the flat kind
roast in a 350 degree oven for about 35-40 minutes or until the juices run clear and a knife inserted into the thickest part of the meat slides out easily
cool for 1/2 hour
peel off the skin, tear the meat away from the bone and slice

The dressing is very light:
lemon zest (I used the entire lemon)
lemon juice (fresh is always best)
olive oil
a touch of sugar
dried oregano

Don't over dress the salad...... perfect for those super hot summer days!

Monday, July 12, 2010

crab puffs

Crab Puffs
I served these light crab puffs with my tomato appetizer pie last night for dinner. A nice side treat on a pretty summer plate.

1 can crab meat (drain it first)
1/2 C sharp cheddar cheese
3 chopped green onions (very small)
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t dry mustard
a few dashes of hot sauce is nice here also

If you've never make a puff pastry, the first time can seem like you're making a mistake. Just keep going until it all gets incorporated - trust me, it will!

Combine 1C water and 1 stick butter and 1 t salt in medium pot until butter is melted and water boils. Remove from heat.

Quickly and all at once add 1 C flour. Stir until a ball forms.

One at a time, add 4 eggs, stirring well after each addition!

Add crab mixture.

Drop by 1/2 t onto ungreased baking sheet.

Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees and then 10 more minutes at 350 degrees. ( I noticed that 10 minutes seemed too long, so be sure to watch them during that second part.)

I ended up freezing lots of these - this recipe makes a lot! I shaped them on baking sheets, froze the sheets, popped them off carefully, and stored them in plastic bags. I suppose to cook them from frozen I will bake at 350 degrees only for maybe 15 minutes.

This recipe comes from an old cookbook that I continually return to called "Clock Wise Cuisine" published by the Junior League of Detroit in 1986. I can picture women making these for cocktail parties or fancy luncheons.

Friday, July 9, 2010

tomato appetizer pie

Tomato Appetizer Pie
(aka: my favorite summer meal)

This is as easy as it gets and really results in a delicious, light meal. This is my mom's recipe and we both have been making it for years.

Line a pie plate with a pie crust ( I always use Pillsbury brand).
Slather it with Dijon mustard.

Cover the crust with about 1 1/2 C shredded white cheese. Usually I use a combo of mozzarella and Monterrey Jack cheese.

Slice tomatoes and fit them in. Sometimes, if the tomatoes are extra juicy, I dry them off with a paper towel, but it's not really that important.

Season to taste with salt, pepper and most importantly, basil.
Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. (Watch the crust!)

You can't believe how good this is and the leftovers are excellent for breakfast!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

oatmeal bread

Oatmeal Bread
I’m not overly confident when it comes to baking with yeast, but this bread was super simple and oh, so satisfying!
In a large greased bowl, place 2C old fashioned oatmeal. I suppose you could use quick-cooking, but somehow that doesn’t seem like it would be as chewy and authentic.
Cover with 4C boiling water.
At the same time dissolve 2 pkg yeast in 1C lukewarm water.
Let these sit for 20 minutes.

Add yeast to oatmeal mixture, plus 1C dark molasses, 2t salt, 6T melted butter.
Then add in 11-12 C flour. (I always use unbleached flour.)
Mixing this took some elbow grease! I eventually abandoned the wooden spoon and resorted to using my hands. (which, surprisingly, are now kinda sore)

I ended up washing the bowl, regreasing it (with canola oil).

Cover and allow to rise in a warm and cozy place for 1 ½ hours.
After 1 ½ hours, punch down and allow to rise for another hour. (You can only make this type of bread when you have all day to enjoy the process.....)

After the hour has passed, turn the dough out onto a floured board and punch down - no kneading. Let the dough rest for 10 full minutes.
I love this beautiful color!

Create three loaves in greased pans. Bake 350 degrees for about 45-50 minutes.

This made the most delicious grilled cheese for dinner and was great toasted with
butter and honey this morning for breakfast.

Monday, July 5, 2010

lime cilantro cole slaw

Lime Cilantro Cole Slaw

I love all things with the fresh flavors of lime and cilantro! Doesn't matter if the meal is Mexican or Asian--I love that flavor combo. That's why I had to try this cole slaw from Tyler Florence. I found the recipe in the Food Network magazine. I only tweaked it a bit. It's not your ordinary grocery-store-deli cole slaw, that's for sure.

The dressing consists of the the following:
1/4 C sour cream
2T mayo (Tyler uses more..... I'm not a big mayo girl...)
1 T sugar
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1 lime (Tyler uses only one squeeze, but I'm a big lime girl, so I used more..... )

Salad is made from savoy cabbage ( just half a small head. I think regular cabbage would not be as good - so look for the savoy type.)
Sliced green onions. I like the way they look when you slice them lenghtwise- kinda curly and very pretty in the salad.
Cilantro - maybe 1/4 bunch......
I dusted mine with fresh cracked pepper before serving.

Be careful not to over do the cilantro! It's a strong flavor and can quickly over power the entire dish. In the above picture you can see that I added quite a bit of cilantro, maybe even too much.

I know this dressing sounds very unusual, but it was really fresh, clean and healthy tasting!
I served this with my couscous chick pea salad. Nice combo of flavors.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

couscous chick pea salad

Couscous Chick Pea Salad

Have you tried using couscous instead of rice or pasta? It's a tiny semolina pasta from North Africa and very easy to find in the regular grocery store. Actually, in the summer months, when I am looking for a lighter alternative to traditional pasta, I prefer couscous.
Plus it couldn't be easier.
Sometimes I cook it in chicken stock, but usually just using water is fine because of the great dressings you can pour over the tiny bits of couscous.

The dressing for this salad consists of the following:
good olive oil
fresh lemon juice
Dijon mustard
fresh garlic
a touch of coriander.

I usually use two whole lemons, 1/4 C oil, 1 t Dijon and 1/4 t coriander and two cloves of garlic which I squeeze through my garlic press. Nobody likes to bite into a large piece of raw garlic, so be sure to use your garlic press for this . Wisk the dressing and make sure it's to your liking. You can always adjust the lemon/oil ratio a bit.
I also add lots of fresh ground pepper.

To prepare the couscous, just follow the directions on the box....or do the following:

Boil 1 1/2 C water to which has been added just a bit of salt and oil
Add 1 C dry couscous
give a quick stir
remove from heat, cover and wait 5 short minutes.
fluff with fork


The other salad ingredients are 1 can of chick peas (also known as garbanzo beans-be sure to rinse them before using), cucumber (peeled or unpeeled), and lots of fresh parsley. My parsley came from my small garden.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cherry Pie

Cherry Pie

I didn't wake up this morning thinking I would make a cherry pie, but when I saw these beautiful cherries at the farm stand, I had to do it! It's not hard, it just takes some time and patience.
I started with the "Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book" and went from there.
I used 4 C of pitted cherries and all the juice.
Better Homes said to add 1 1/2 C sugar, but I only added 3/4 C (which was plenty for our taste)
1T melted butter
4 T cornstarch
Mixed it well and poured into bottom crust.
As you can see, I went the extra mile and made a lattice top crust - it's worth it in my opinion for such a lovely end product!

I always put foil around the edges of my pies for the first half of baking, just in case the crust wants to get too brown.....

Bake for 55 minutes or so in 400 degree oven.

printable recipe

My afternoon snack!
Decadent, I know, but I did walk for 3 miles before eating it!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

mushroom and garlic pizza

This is one of our favorite quick pizza recipes and it's absolutely delicious.
If you like mushrooms, you'll love this pizza.

Stretch out a Pillsbury crescent roll on an ungreased sheet, brush olive oil lightly on the crust and 'sprinkle' minced garlic over it. (I use a garlic press and then 'scrape' it around with a fork.)
Bake the crust for about 8 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
Meanwhile, saute about 16 ounces of fresh mushrooms in a bit of olive oil. I used button mushrooms and portobellas last night. Shiitake mushrooms are also very nice.

Sprinkle shredded swiss cheese over crust. Then layer on the mushrooms. Finish with lots of shredded mozzarella cheese. Last night I also topped it with some fresh mozzarella, which was heavenly! Return to oven for about 15 more minutes.

A perfect summer meal! And excellent leftovers for lunch today!

Rouladen and Mashed Potatoes

Rouladen and Mashed Potatoes

My 15 year old wanted a corned beef dinner for his May birthday, but I could not find a corned beef anywhere, so I convinced him to settle for this beautiful meal. Have the butcher slice the tip roast about 1/4 inch thick and then pound it out a bit at home. Plan on 1 roll per person, or 2 if you have big eaters. Of course, you're going to want leftovers!

Thin slices of sirloin tip roast, pound thin and slather with Dijon mustard
1/2 slice of bacon (1 slice is good for two rolls)
Roll bacon inside beef, secure with toothpicks or string
Dredge in flour (it's messy)

Brown lots and lots of sweet onions in a bit of oil (do this slowly so the onions get great color - this really intensifies the sweet flavor of the onions)

Brown beef in same pan (be sure to get all sides of the roll nice and brown)
Cover with beef broth and a bit of red wine (maybe up to 1/2 C of dry wine)
simmer (covered and/or uncovered, depending on how thick the sauce is getting and also on how fast it is cooking) for 1 1/2 or 2 hours

Serve with mashed potatoes (the gravy is very rich - the onions dissolve and become most delicious)

I like to remove the meat, chill the gravy until firm, skim off the fat, and reheat everything gently.

In many cookbooks, I have seen that 'authentic' German Rouladen also has a sour pickle rolled up in it, but the way I cook it is just fine for us! Happy Birthday meal indeed!