Thursday, July 30, 2009

Taco Soup

I posted the recipe for Taco Soup a while back, but thought I would repeat it since I have a picture now. This would be a good one to make in the next month or so when you have the time and freeze it. Be sure to freeze in the right portion size for you and your family. Will come in handy on cool Autumn nights. It goes great with grilled cheese sandwiches.


1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 cup diced onion
1 package/envelope dry ranch dressing mix
1 package/envelope dry taco seasoning
1 can black beans
1 can chili beans
1 can diced tomatoes (Mexican style)
1 can diced tomatoes (Italian style)
1 can whole kernel corn

Brown ground beef with onion in large pot, drain well. Stir in ranch dressing mix and taco seasoning mix. Add all other ingredients (don’t drain the cans); stir carefully. Cook for about 1 to 1-1/2 hours or in a slow cooker all day.

Yield: 6 - 8 servings

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


No cooking tonight. We had to go cell phone shopping. Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Baked Chicken Reuben


4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
1 (16 ounce) can sauerkraut, drained and pressed
4 slices Swiss cheese
thousand island dressing

Place chicken in a greased baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Spread sauerkraut over chicken and drizzle dressing over top. Then top with cheese slices. Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, or until chicken is done.

I normally use Bavarian sauerkraut because it has a sweeter taste, but regular is good, too.

Also, if you want the top of the cheese browned a bit, uncover and put under the broiler for a few minutes. I think it looks more appetizing this way.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lemon Chicken Pasta

Wine and heavy cream in the same dish.... Yum!

This recipe was from Publix Apron's Simple Meals.


8 ounces penne pasta
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 pound boneless chicken tenders, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons capers
2 teaspoons chicken base (I use Better than Boullion brand)
1 lemon
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, place flour and seasoned salt in a large zip-top bag. Add chicken pieces to bag and shake to coat. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan, swirling to coat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink. Stir capers and chicken base into chicken, cook for 2 minutes. Squeeze juice of one lemon into chicken. Stir in wine and cream. Reduce heat to low, cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until heated through. Drain pasta when done and stir into chicken mixture.

Yield: 4 servings

Okay, so I cheat and use lemon juice from one of those little plastic lemon-shaped bottles.

The Better Than Boullion chicken base is a little expensive, but you only need a little each time you use it. I promise, you'll find other uses for it, too. You can use it any time you need to make a dish more chicken-y. I use it in Chicken and Dumplings and a couple of soups that I make.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Moon-Bean Salad

This could be a nice little lunch salad on top of lettuce as shown or a casual side dish. I will use less garlic next time, I liked it, but it was probably a bit strong for the general public.

2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 (16-ounce) cans cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups diced plum tomato
1/2 cup chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oregano and garlic, and saute 30 seconds. Add vinegar, and remove from heat. Combine vinegar mixture and beans in a bowl. Cover and chill 30 minutes.

Add 1 teaspoon oil, diced tomato, and the next 5 ingredients (onion through pepper) to bean mixture, and toss well. Let marinate and cool at least one hour before serving.

By the way, I used Great Northern beans, gorgonzola cheese and left out the fresh parsley.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Real Men Eat Pink Cake

Yesterday was my hubby's birthday. A few years ago, the first time I offered to make him a birthday cake, he requested a strawberry cake. I'd never even heard of a strawberry cake. But, I searched the internet and ran across a recipe by the Cake Mix Doctor. She adds pecans and coconut, but to simplify I leave those out. The recipe shown below is the way I make it.

And, I renamed it because I think it's really funny that a man chooses to have this pretty pink, girly cake for his birthday every year.

Time to blow out the candles, I mean candle, we don't want to burn down the house...

See the bits of fresh strawberries in the cream cheese frosting.

Also, bits of fresh strawberries in the cake itself.

Can't wait to eat another slice tonight!

REAL MEN EAT PINK CAKE (Strawberry Cake)

solid vegetable shortening, for greasing the pans
flour for dusting the pans
1 (18.25 ounce) plain white cake mix
1 (3 ounce) package strawberry gelatin
1 cup mashed fresh strawberries with juice
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup of whole milk
4 large eggs
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Lightly grease three 9-inch round cake pans with solid vegetable shortening, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pans aside.

Place the cake mix, strawberry gelatin, mashed strawberries and juice, oil, milk, and eggs in a large mixing bowl and blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides down again if needed. The strawberries should be well blended into the batter. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and place them in the oven.

Bake the cakes until they are light brown and just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan, 28 to 32 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edge of each layer and invert each onto the rack, then invert again onto another rack so that the cakes are right side up. Allow them to cool completely, 30 minutes or more.

Meanwhile, prepare the frosting.To assemble, place one cake layer, right side up, on a serving platter. Spread the top with frosting. Add another cake layer, right side up, and frost the top. Repeat this process with the third layer and frost the top. Use the remaining frosting to frost the sides, working with a clean, smooth stroke. Serve at once or chill the cake for later serving. Store in the refrigerator.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/2 cup mashed fresh strawberries, drained

Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the sugar and drained strawberries. Blend the frosting on low until the sugar has been incorporated. Then raise the speed to medium and mix the frosting another minute or until the frosting lightens and is well combined.

Note: I use one of those chopper gadgets (the one you see advertised chopping onions and nuts) instead of actually mashing the strawberries. Works great.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rubbed Pork Tenderloin.....

Dinner last night..... I've never cooked a pork tenderloin, thought it might be difficult.

But, no, not so hard.

But why were there 2 pieces of meat in the package? I thought it said pork tenderloin, not tenderloinS. Whatever. This is how it looked just out of the oven.

Here it is after slicing.

Here it is on my plate.

Now here's the professional picture from the website (this was a Cooking Light recipe). They just have better lighting and a better camera.

Now, this would not be a weeknight meal for most people, remember I'm a housewife right now.

1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (2-pound) boneless pork loin, trimmed
1 teaspoon olive oil
Cooking spray
1 cup sliced onion (Vidalia, of course)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups sauerkraut, drained (I used about 3 cups)
1/2 cup apricot preserves, divided
1/2 cup water

Combine garlic powder, cumin, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl; rub spice mixture evenly over pork.

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork to pan; cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Transfer pork to an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Add onion and sugar to skillet; sauté 3 minutes or until onion is lightly browned. Add drained sauerkraut to pan; sauté 1 minute.

Arrange sauerkraut mixture around pork in baking dish. Brush pork with one third of apricot preserves. Pour 1/2 cup water over sauerkraut mixture.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Brush pork with one-third of apricot preserves; bake for 10 minutes. Brush pork with remaining apricot preserves; bake for 10 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in center of pork registers 160° (slightly pink). Remove from oven, and let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with sauerkraut/onion mixture.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Blackberry Cobbler

I think my Blackberry Cobbler has varicose veins! Doesn't that look really wierd? But it tasted really good!

See how yummy it looks now.....


1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 cups frozen blackberries

Whisk together 1 cup of sugar, flour and milk just until blended; whisk in melted butter. Pour batter into a lightly greased 11 x 8 inch baking dish; sprinkle blackberries and remaining 1/4 cup sugar evenly over batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Yield: 6 servings

Mozzarella Crostini

Here's an easy appetizer you can put together quickly and if you're a little creative, I bet you can come up with many variations.

Just in case the first ingredient on the list is not descriptive enough, here's a picture.


1 (2 foot long) loaf skinny crusty bread, thinly sliced
1/3 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup sliced green onions
5 to 7 Roma tomatoes, cut into about 36 slices (or however many slices you got from the bread)
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese

Place bread slices on aluminum foil lined baking sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, combine olive oil and next 3 ingredients. Brush oil mixture on bread slices after the first 5 minutes of baking. Top each with green onions and a tomato slice. Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake at 400 degrees for another 5 to 7 minutes or until cheese melts.

Of course, I was just cooking for two and didn't use the entire 2 foot loaf. Adjust according to your needs.

I also cheated and used garlic flavored oil instead of mixing garlic into the olive oil.

Even if the bread is a little stale, the baking will give it a nice, light crispiness again.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Grilled Peaches with Ice Cream

Look what my hubby made for me last night!

He peeled and sliced up one peach, cooked it on the stove with a little water and sugar to make the sauce. Just cook it long enough to break down the peaches a little and let the sauce thicken.

He halved the rest of the peaches (don't peel these) and grilled them cut side down for about 10 minutes.

Serve each peach half with a scoop of ice cream and some sauce on top.


The dessert was almost as sweet as the man who made it!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Adult Beverage Recommendation

Do you like sweet tea?


You must not be from around here!

I've recently discovered a new way to drink sweet tea. Just add a little FireFly to it.

FireFly Handcrafted Sweet Tea flavored Vodka, that is. It says it's produced and bottled for FireFly Distillery in South Carolina by FireFly Distillery in Florida. Follow that? Anyway, it is actually made in the South if you consider Florida the South. But, if the people running this company were actually from the South, you know it would be called Lightnin' Bug instead!

And don't be fooled by the disappearing act the FireFly does in your tea (meaning you won't taste it in there), this is full strength vodka. Have fun, but be careful!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chicken Tetrazzini

This is one of the best dishes to freeze for later use.

I divide the mixture into 4 medium size disposable aluminum loaf pans. Each of 4 pans will hold 2 to 3 servings depending on how much you like to eat as a serving. Freeze unbaked casseroles up to two months. Then thaw casserole overnight in refrigerator. Let stand 30 minutes to an hour at room temperature and bake as directed. You can use the healthier versions of the cream soups and sour cream.


1 (16 ounce) package angel hair pasta
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 (10 ounce) can cream of celery soup
1 (10 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (10 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
1 (8 ounce) can of sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain. Return to pot and toss with chicken broth. Stir together chopped chicken and next 8 ingredients in a large bowl; add pasta and toss well. Spoon mixture into 2 lightly greased 11 x 7 baking dishes. Sprinkle evenly with cheddar cheese.

Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes; uncover and bake 15 more minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Convenience Food - Pork Roast Au Jus

Sorry about cutting off the brand name on the box. It's Hormel.

This is a tasty option if you want to keep it on hand for quick dinners. It takes less than five minutes to heat up in the microwave. It will take longer to prepare side dishes.

We also like the Italian Roast Beef version.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Grilled Sweet Potatoes and Apples

I tried a new recipe last night and it was great! This is one of those easy recipes where you really don't have to measure, although I've written the measurements as I found it in a magazine (I don't remember which one).
I used two really big sweet potatoes, three apples (1 Cameo, 1 Gala, 1 Granny Smith, it's what I had on hand, I chose not to peel) and just drizzled syrup and sprinkled spices until I thought it looked good. I ended up making 2 smaller packets. You really can't mess this one up!

2 medium sweet potatoes
2 apples
1/4 cup maple-flavored syrup
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Peel and dice the potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Peel (or not) and dice the apples into 1-inch cubes. Place in a large bowl. Drizzle syrup over potato mixture. Add lemon zest, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Stir to coat all potatoes and apples.

Use heavy duty foil to make packets filled with potato and apple mixture. Leave enough room for steam to build. Grill packet for 25 to 30 minutes.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pineapple Fried Rice

We decided to have a tropical dinner out on the deck last night. When I say tropical, that would include anything Hawaiian, Caribbean and Mexican, too. Tropical usually means seafood for me as well. So, we had a little of all that tropical stuff.

We had blackened shrimp, pineapple fried rice and black beans.

For the black beans, I just drain a can of beans, add a couple big spoonfuls of salsa and a sprinkle of cumin. Is that not the authentic Cuban way?? Maybe not, but I like it!

A tropical drink would be great with this meal, too. Have a mojito, margarita or daquiri!


2 tablespoons oil
1 cup diced pineapple
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup diced ham
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 cups cooked rice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil and stir fry next 5 ingredients until onions are soft. Add cooked rice and soy sauce and stir fry until hot throughout. Remove from heat and toss in fresh cilantro.

Note: You can use fresh or canned pineapple, either one tastes great in this.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Have a good weekend!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Crunchy Baked Asian Fish

I promise, this will taste better than it looks. The Panko crumbs are very crispy, they just don't get brown like you would expect. I used Snapper this time (bought it frozen at Publix), but use any fish you like. I've used Tilapia in the past, I think Salmon would be good, too.
Remember, you can find the Hoisin sauce in the Asian section of any grocery store.


non-stick cooking spray
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
1 1/2 cups Japanese Panko bread crumbs
4 fish fillets

Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray; set aside. Stir together mustard and Hoisin sauce. Place bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Brush both sides of fish fillets with mustard mixture. Coat both sides of fish fillets with bread crumbs. Place fillets on baking sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until fish is flaky.

Yield: 4 servings

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chunky Veggie Pasta Sauce

The hubby's first comment after seeing the finished sauce: "That looks really hearty." Good to hear about a meatless dish!

This makes enough for 4 to 5 'normal' size servings. What's normal? I don't really know. I just know that we eat two servings the first time I make it. The hubby gets lunch the next day. And enough for a meal for two goes into the freezer. It holds up well in the freezer if you use it within a month or two.


1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 zucchini, sliced and cut in half
1 (8 ounce) package sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (24 ounce) jar pasta sauce

Sauté first 5 ingredients in olive oil until crisp-tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and continue to sauté for about 2 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and pasta sauce. Simmer for about 20 minutes until heated through. Serve with any pasta.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Product of the Day - Caribbean Jerk seasoning

Let's pretend we are back in Jamaica.....

Actually this is nothing like the Jerk seasoning that I've had in Jamaica, but I really, really like it! I guess you could say it has been Americanized.

It's a dry seasoning mix that I use mostly on fish and shrimp. It would be great on pork or chicken as well. I just sprinkle it on before sauteing in a little oil.

Label ingredients: Sugar, red pepper, thyme, allspice, salt, onion, turmeric. (I'll have to look that one up.)

It's just spicy enough for me, not too spicy for those that don't like spicy, might not be spicy enough for those who do.

1 : an Indian perennial herb (Curcuma longa syn. C. domestica) of the ginger family with a large aromatic yellow rhizome
2 : the boiled, dried, and usually ground rhizome of the turmeric plant used as a coloring agent, a flavoring, or a stimulant


Monday, July 6, 2009

Watergate Salad

Is it a Southern thing?

I've always wondered about those dishes that we call 'salad', but taste more like dessert. I'm referring mostly to congealed salads (and Aunt Pat's marshmallow salad), but this one fits the category, too. There's at least one at every picnic or potluck I've ever been to. I personally like to eat these as the course that comes between the main meal and dessert, how about you?

And where did this one get it's name?


3 cups miniature marshmallows (about half a bag)
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups whipped topping (like Cool Whip)

Combine first 4 ingredients and mix well. Add whipped topping and mix gently. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Italian Cherry Tomato Salad

Here's another great salad for summer gatherings. It's mayo-free, so it's okay if it sits out in warm weather for a little while.


1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced and cut into one inch pieces
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 (6 ounce) can pitted ripe olives, cut in half
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, cubed
2 pint containers cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons prepared commercial pesto
1 teaspoon sugar

Combine first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Toss and set aside. In a small bowl, combine olive oil and next 3 ingredients. Mix well. Pour over salad and toss until coated. Chill at least one hour before serving.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Artichoke Chicken

You know that yummy artichoke dip you usually only get at a party or potluck? Somebody, somewhere, said "Let's put that on top of chicken!".


1 (6 ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 pinch garlic pepper
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs

In small bowl, mix together artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise and garlic pepper. Place chicken in a baking dish, and cover each piece evenly with artichoke mixture. Sprinkle a thin layer of bread crumbs on top.

Bake at 375 degrees, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until chicken is done.


- I'm sure it would be fine to use garlic powder if you don't have garlic pepper, but I wouldn't recommend garlic salt, the artichoke hearts are already quite salty.

- I almost always pound the chicken breasts between pieces of plastic wrap, they cook more evenly that way.