Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sweet Potato Flan with Candied Pecans

My hubby made this for me a couple of weeks ago as a surprise at the end of a very busy week for me. It was so delicious.
Look who has the time to experiment with recipes now. Unfortunately, for the same reason I started this blog......... he's unemployed.
recipe from Publix Family Style magazine
2 medium sweet potatoes
4 large eggs
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely shredded tangerine peel
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons butter
Rinse and pierce the  sweet potatoes with a fork. Microwave, covered for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out pulp. Mash pulp (you should have 1 cup); set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs. Mix in the sweetened condensed milk, whole milk, sweet potatoes, vanilla and tangerine peel. Set aside.
To caramalize sugar, in a small nonstick skillet, heat the 1/3 cup sugar over medium-high heat until it begins to melt, shaking the skillet occasionally; do not stir. When the sugar starts to melt , reduce heat to low and cook about 5 minutes or until all of the sugar melts and is golden, stirring as needed with a wooden spoon. Immediately divide caramelized sugar into five 6-ounce ramekins or custard cups. Swirl to cover the bottom. Add 3/4 cup custard mixture to each ramekin and cover each with aluminum foil.
Add 3 cups of water to a large pot. Gently palce ramekins in pot and place on burner. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Remove and cool on wire rack.
Refrigerate the flans for 8 hours or overnight. Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving to loosen. To serve, use a butter knife to release the sides of each flan. Place on a dessert plate upside down to unmold. Top with candied pecans (instructions below) and serve.
Candied Pecans
(can be made anytime ahead of serving)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake pecans for 8 minutes in a shallow baking pan. While the pecans are toasting, heat 2 tablespoons sugar in a small skillet. Shake occasionally to heat sugar evenly; do not stir. Heat until the sugar starts to melt and then stir just the melted portions, until it is all melted and golden. Add butter and stir until combined. Remove from heat. Add pecans to skillet, stirring to coat. Pour the nut mixture onto a baking sheet and cool completely. Break up into pieces.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Toffee Dip with Apples

recipe adapted from From My Kitchen to Yours
2 (8 ounce) tubs soft light cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (10-12 ounce) bag Heath toffee bits
Mix everything together, chill for a couple of hours and serve with apple slices!
This is really great with Granny Smith apples, the sweetness of the dip and tartness of the apples goes great together.
I cut the recipe in half, that's enough to have around the house for snacking, but for a party, go ahead and make the entire recipe.

Senatorial Bean Soup



2 cups dried navy beans
2tablespoons butter
2 1/2 cups chopped leek
2 cups sliced or chopped carrot
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 cup diced, cooked ham
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups water
2 teaspoons chicken base
1 teaspoon beef base
1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
2 bay leaves

Sort and wash beans and place in a large pot. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans, and bring to a boil. Cook the beans 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let beans stand one hour. Drain beans.

Melt margarine in a pan over medium-high heat. Add leek and next 4 ingredients (leek through garlic); sauté 10 minutes. Add beans, 8 cups water, chicken and beef bases, sage and bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until beans are very tender. Discard bay leaves.

Place half of soup in a blender; process until smooth. (You may want to blend smaller amounts in batches depending on your blender size or use an immersion blender if you have one.) Pour pureed mixture back into remaining soup, and cook over medium heat 30 minutes.

 Yield: 4 large servings

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Pineapple Orange Cranberry Sauce



1 (12 ounce) bag fresh cranberries
1 (14 ounce) can pineapple tidbits in juice
orange juice
1 cup sugar

 Drain pineapple tidbits, keeping juice separate. Add enough orange juice to the pineapple juice to bring to one cup. Pour into saucepan with all other ingredients. Cook on stovetop at medium-high heat for about 10 minutes or until desired consistency. Allow to cool and then refrigerate overnight.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cashew Chicken Salad

(picture from
I have made this chicken salad a few times and I love it. I just never remember to take my own picture.
The recipe calls for cooked, chopped chicken, but I have used canned chicken each time I made it. That will  work just great unless you are one of the people that has an aversion to the canned chicken (no judgement here!).
I like it for sandwiches and to eat with crackers. I have topped a green salad with it, too.
Here's the link to the recipe:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sauteed Kale & White Beans

Sorry I don't have more measurements for you. I just threw this together based on an idea from Cooking Light magazine (I think!). My only advice is to use more kale than you initially think you should use, it cooks down a lot!
diced ham or Canadian bacon ( I used ham)
diced onion
chopped kale
1 can Great Northen beans, drained and rinsed
chicken broth
Start by browning the ham and onion in a little oil. Add the kale, beans and chicken broth. Use just enough chicken broth that you think will cook away in about 10 minutes, maybe about 1/2 cup. Saute for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Salt and pepper as desired.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Turkey White Bean Pumpkin Chili

Even without kids, it's good to find ways to sneak in a healthy food like pumpkin!


cooking spray
 pound lean ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup diced onion
 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
(15 ounce) cans of great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 (150 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 (4.5 ounce) can chopped green chiles
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder  
1 teaspoon oregano
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
fat free sour cream for topping (optional)
chopped cilantro and chives for topping (optional)

Heat a large heavy sauté pan over high heat and lightly spray with oil. Add meat and cook, breaking it up until white, about 5 minutes. Add to crock pot.

Add olive oil to the sauté pan, then onions and garlic, sauté about 3 - 4 minutes; add cumin and sauté another minute. Add to crock pot.
Add beans, pumpkin puree, green chiles, broth, chili powder, oregano, bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
Remove bay leaves and adjust seasoning to taste before serving.
Add optional toppings to each serving.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

SuperFood Salad


This is my version of a salad that they sell in the Deli department at Kroger.
The main ingredients are mixed in a proportion that you like, it was pretty random on my part.
chopped raw kale
quartered cherry tomatoes
dried cranberries
cashews, halves and pieces
shelled edamame, thawed from frozen
I made up a dressing of light mayo, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper (very little mayo) and stirred that in.  
The Kroger version also has fresh blueberries and sunflower seeds.
It makes me feel good to eat something that seems so healthy and it tastes good too!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

Wow, it's been a while since I had time or felt like trying something new. My new job is wearing me out! Cooking has been feeling like a chore lately rather than the fun hobby that it can be. But anyway, I finally made the time this weekend.
This soup was sooooooo good. I felt like I was in a gourmet Thai restaurant eating it.
adapted from Fitness Magazine via Pinterest
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 large skinlees, boneless chicken breasts, diced into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup crushed tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon fish sauce
6 ounces rice noodles
2 cups shredded cabbage (I used the pr-shredded coleslaw mix)
1 cup canned bean sprouts, drained
1/4 cup chopped green onions
In a soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger and chicken. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often, until chicken is no longer pink.
Dissolve/stir the peanut butter in the crushed tomatoes; add the mixture to the soup pot along with the broth and fish sauce. Bring to a boil. Add the noodles; reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the cabbage and cook another 5 minutes. Stir in the bean sprouts and green onions; turn off the heat.
Garnish with cilantro and chopped peanuts if desired.
Yield: 5 or 6 servings
I garnished with cashews since that's what I had on hand and served with some spring rolls (from the freezer department of the grocery store).

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chicken Enchilada Pasta

recipe adapted from the following:

1 (12 ounce) box penne pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red pepper, diced
3 chicken breasts, cooked & shredded
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 (10 ounce) can green chili enchilada sauce (La Preferida)
1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce (La Preferida)
2 small cans sliced black olives
1 cup shredded cheese (I used a Mexican variety)
1 cup sour cream

Optional toppings:
Black Olives
Sour Cream

Boil pasta according to package directions.

Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet and cook onions for about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic & red pepper and cook for another 3-5 minutes.

Add cooked chicken, green chiles, cumin, chili powder, enchilada sauces and black olives. Let sauce simmer for about 8-10 minutes.

Add cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and heated through. Remove from heat and add the sour cream. Stir until sour cream is well mixed and heated through.

Drain pasta, add it to the sauce mixture and mix well.

Serve and garnish with optional toppings.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Weekly Menu Board

So, I am trying to plan meals on a weekly basis and stop making several grocery trips a week. That will just not be convenient when I have a job again. I'm trying to train myself now!

Having this little menu board posted in the kitchen is actually working so far. I've kept to the plans for two weeks. I did my grocery shopping on Sunday or Monday, but, I did make an extra trip each week to buy an item or two that needed to be fresh at the end of the week. Some things just don't keep well Sunday to Friday.

This was a totally free project for me since I had the picture frame on hand, stored in the basement. You could easily create your own document with the days of the week, but I downloaded this one from Delighted Momma.

Also, dry erase markers work great on glass! The glass actually cleans up better than the dry erase board that I have on my refrigerator.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Loaded Cauliflower Casserole

I'm calling this 'loaded' because it reminds me of all the ingredients in a loaded baked potato.

recipe adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen

1 large head cauliflower
4 ounces low fat cream cheese
1/2 cup low fat sour cream
1/4 cup minced chives or green onions
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup crispy, crumbled bacon
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (can use reduced fat)

Cut out stem and core from cauliflower, and cut into small pieces. Cook in large pot of boiling salted water until cauliflower is tender, but not overly soft. Drain well and mash with potato masher, leaving some chunks.

Mix in cream cheese, sour cream, most of the chives, Parmesan, and most of the crumbled bacon.

Spread evenly in a small glass casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Top with remaining chives and bacon.

I use Oscar Mayer bacon pieces that come in a little pouch. I microwaved them for about 30 seconds to get them crispy.

And those lovely chives, they're from my garden!

Traditional Hummus

recipe from Cooking Light

2 (15.5-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oilo see savings
salt and pepper (to taste)

Place beans and garlic in a food processor; pulse 5 times or until chopped. Add 1/2 cup water and remaining ingredients; pulse until as smooth as desired, scraping down sides as needed.

I have a small food processor, so I did 2 separate batches to use all of the ingredients. That turned out to be a good thing - I added a Sicilian spice mixture to one batch as an experiment, now I have one that's a little spicy.

This is so delicious and I like the fact that I could leave a little texture so it's not perfectly smooth like the store-bought kind. Much less expensive to make at home, too. The tahini may seem pricey, but you only use a small amount, so it will last for many batches.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

It's got bananas, it's healthy, right???

Not really, but oh so delicious! It has peanut butter and Reese's Mini Cups.

Just follow this link to the recipe. The only thing I changed was to use crunchy peanut butter instead of creamy.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

For a prettier picture, please follow this link.....

recipe adapted from Life on Leroy 

1/2 cup chunky blue cheese salad dressing (Marzetti)
1/4 cup Frank's Red Hot Wings sauce
1 (16 ounce) box pasta
4-5 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup diced red onion
2 cups chopped chicken
Salt and pepper 

Mix the salad dressing and wing sauce together. Set aside.
Cook the pasta according to package directions.
Mix everything together. Add salt and pepper to taste.
It will seem like more dressing than needed. Just use part of it if you like, but save the rest to add later if the pasta absorbs a lot.
Note: Next time, I will use elbow macaroni for this. The bow tie pasta looks pretty, but the size seemed dis-proportionate to the other ingredients.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hoisin Panko Chicken

This one is  combination of two recipes that I've been using for several years, I don't know why I haven't thought of this before now.

I combined my Crunchy Baked Asian Fish recipe and this Panko Chicken recipe. 

2 cups Panko bread crumbs
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons water
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a metal cooling rack on pan and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a shallow dish, combine bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl or dish, combine mustard, Hoisin sauce, water, salt, pepper and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Coat each chicken breast with mustard mixture; dredge each in breadcrumb mixture. Place on prepared rack in pan.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes, until chicken is done. Near the end of cooking time, spray the tops of chicken with cooking spray to assure they become golden brown.

For the stir-fry veggies, I made a sauce by combining a little sugar, soy sauce, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. I added it before the last 3 or 4 minutes of cooking time.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New Cooking Techniques

I've been spending way too much time on the internet. But, I occasionally find some things that are actually useful to me.

I can cook boil-in-the-bag rice, but I'm not very good at cooking regular rice. I really want to stir it! And that's bad. And if I control myself and don't stir it, everything on the bottom sticks or burns. I guess I haven't found just the right consistent temperature setting on my stovetop.....

Now, I can cook brown rice just perfectly! Thanks to Alton Brown and everyone that circulated the recipe on Pinterest.

This tastes so much better than the boil-in-the-bag stuff. It takes a little longer, but it's not any extra work. You just have to think ahead and be prepared for the extra time.

1 1/2 cups long grain brown rice
2 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt  
Preheat oven to 375ºF.  
Boil the water and add the butter and salt. Stir to dissolve salt and melt butter.  
Place the dry rice in an 8" square casserole dish. Pour the boiling water mixture over the rice and stir. 
Cover with foil and bake on the middle rack for 1 hour.  
Fluff with fork and serve.

I like to have hard-boiled eggs on hand for a quick breakfast sometimes. This is a good way to cook several eggs at once and, again, this is easier for me and the eggs turn out great. This is also from Alton Brown.

Position the rack in the center of the oven.
Place the eggs on the rack (as many as you want for the week).
Place a baking sheet or foil in the bottom of the oven (just in case an egg breaks).
Set the oven to 325 degrees, and bake for 30 minutes.
When the eggs are done, fill a large bowl with ice water and move the eggs into the bowl.
Peel the eggs as soon as they're cool enough to handle, then return them to the ice water to thoroughly chill. Store in a container in the refrigerator.

I like to slice up the egg for a breakfast sandwich.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pimiento Cheese - Bacon Burgers

Doesn't that look delicious!!
The photo is from Southern Living.

I used that as inspiration to add pimiento cheese and bacon to the basic frozen burgers that I got from Kroger (which are great, by the way, easy to put on the grill frozen and less expensive than Bubba Burgers brand).

I also used some "good" pimiento cheese that I got from the deli/cheese department at Kroger. I think that's important, it wouldn't have been as good with the packaged stuff, you know, Mrs. So & So??

Although extremely tasty, my burger did not look nearly as lovely as the one pictured in Southern Living. What can I say? I am not a food stylist!

And yes, we ate our burgers with Tater Tots!

Sweet & Spicy Cucumbers

recipe adapted from Our Best Bites

1 1/2 pounds cucumber (2 large or 3 medium), halved lengthwise & thinly sliced
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup rice vinegar, seasoned or regular
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup minced red onion

Combine salt, vinegar, water, sugar and red pepper in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add onion. Let mixture cool to room temperature.

Pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumbers and stir. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving, stirring a couple of times to be sure all cucumbers are covered.

Notes: I don't find it necessary to peel cucumbers like in the original recipe. They also like to take extra steps to draw out moisture from the cucumbers before adding the vinegar mixture. I skipped that, but I did feel the need to pour off some of the excess liquid the next day. This won't matter if all of it is consumed in the same day, though.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan

 All I can say is:
Thank You Martha Stewart!!!!

This Eggplant Parmesan was so delicious, I no longer have a need for Provino's restaurant!

Her recipe even allowed me to use store-bought pasta sauce. You know I'm always looking for the semi-homemade way to make something easier.


Olive oil, for baking sheets
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons water
3/4 cup Italian seasoned dry breadcrumbs
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for topping
Salt & pepper
2 large eggplants (2 1/2 pounds total), peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
6 cups (48 ounces) store-bought chunky pasta sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush 2 of your largest baking sheets with oil; set aside.
In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and 2 tablespoons water. In another bowl, combine breadcrumbs and 3/4 cup Parmesan; season with salt and pepper.
Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture, coating well; place on baking sheets.
Bake until golden brown on bottom, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn slices; continue baking until browned on other side, 20 to 25 minutes more. Also, switch top pan to lower rack and vice versa. Remove from oven; raise oven heat to 400 degrees.
Spread 2 cups sauce in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Arrange half the eggplant in dish (may overlap some); cover with 2 cups sauce, then 1 cup mozzarella. Repeat with remaining eggplant, sauce, and mozzarella; sprinkle with more Parmesan.
Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Notes: I used Ragu pasta sauce because that is the only brand that seems to have a 'chunky' version. Next time, I will probably use another brand I like and add a drained can of petite diced tomatoes.