Sunday, December 11, 2011

Scones! Tea Time with the Girls

And, this one is a family favorite...

Scones. A tradition. A delicacy. A delight... and a much requested recipe:

Preheat oven to 400
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup cream (1/2 & 1/2 or whole milk will suffice)
  • 1 egg
  • Dried fruit of choice
Mix dry ingredients together in mixer. Cut in cubes of cold butter, add egg when crumbly. Keep mixing until dough ball forms. If sticky, add more flour & titch more sugar.

Pour dough ball onto sugared pastry board. You may also use counter top, if you're blessed with one that doesn't have grout. OR, lay out parchment paper, and do your kneading over the non-stick surface.

Flatten and fold dough repeatedly with the heels of your hand. Make a rectangle, and press in dried fruit of choice. My favorite right now is Craisins, but I've been known to use golden raisins, regular raisins, Calmyrna figs, or apricots.

Flatten & fold in fruit several times, until you reform your rectangle. Use biscuit cutter to cut out scones. Lay on baking sheet, and brush with a mixture of cream & a dash of sugar on top.

Bake in 400 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes. Don't go anywhere, need to catch the scent of delightful "ready" scones... sometimes it's at 12, sometimes at 18 minutes...depending on how well heated your oven is.

Enjoy with a spot of tea and honey, slathered in butter or clotted cream. Ahh... I think I'll go make some now.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

More Doggie Treats

Here are some MORE yummy dog treats we discovered...whether or not they are PERFECT doggie treats? We'll letcha know!


2 1/2 c. whole wheat flour (regular, if your pup has allergies)
1/2 c. milk (skim, 2%, whole or powdered)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 large egg, beaten
2 TBSP./Small amount of flavoring (bacon drippings, chicken or beef stock, juice from a can of tuna — your choice)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray or grease a cookie sheet. Lightly flour a surface to roll the dough out on.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.

3. Add the flavoring you selected and the beaten egg to the bowl and mix well. Note: This is a pretty stiff dough. If you find it to be too stiff to work with, just add a touch more of the chicken stock (or whatever else you’re using).

4. Roll out the dough to about a 1/4 inch thickness. Use a pizza cutter or a few different, bone-shaped cookie cutters to cut the dough into the desired size.

5. Bake for 30 minutes and let cool before treating your happy dog to its new favorite biscuits recipe!

This One's for the Dogs: Peanut Butter Dog Treats

So, the girls wanted to go nuts at Dollar Tree, buying presents for our pooches. But, I convinced them that we could make something equally, if not more fantastic:

Here's what I found: Home Made Peanut Butter Dog Treats!

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. milk (2% or skim is just fine)
  • 2 TBSP. Peanut Butter
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 TBSP. chicken broth or stock
  • 1 tsp. baking powder

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and lightly spray or grease a baking sheet.

In a mixing bowl, add the first 6 ingredients and stir. Once you’ve gotten them mixed well, add the baking powder. Continue mixing until everything’s combined.

Using a tablespoon, drop spoonfuls of the mix onto your greased cookie sheet.

Pop them into the oven for 15-20 minutes or until they’re a nice golden brown. Cool and serve!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Roasted Ratatouille with Feta

In honor of meatless Monday, I decided to make Ratatouille Crepes. That was before I realized I had about a quarter cup of milk on hand. Plan B turned out quite well though. And in spite of the initial push back on the eggplant, the only thing left on the little plates were a few pieces of pasta. All veggies had been devoured. 3/4 lb eggplant (about 4 Persian eggplants are my preference) 3 nice sized tomatoes 2 zucchini (I did one green and one yellow) 1 red bell peper 1/2 onion 2 garlic cloves Chop all vegetables coarsely. Mince garlic. Combine in a large (very large) bowl with about 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil, about 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread out in a shallow baking pan (a high rimmed cookie sheet or jelly roll pan works well) and roast in your oven at 450 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes or until the vegetables smell really really good. Remove from oven. While the veggies are roasting, cook 1/2 to 3/4 pound of nice chunky pasta (like penne or something). Once the pasta is drained, add veggies, 2 Tablespoons each of fresh minced basil and fresh italian parsley, about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and about 4 ounces of crumbled feta cheese. I LOVE Pastures of Eden feta from Trader Joes. It is mild and creamy and not too salty. Mix it all together and serve. I also took a package of trader joes pizza dough, spread it out in a nice shape, slathered it in olive oil and sprinkled it with garlic powder, sea salt and italian herbs. Then I cut it into 1.5 inch strips and served it like breadsticks along with a nice simple salad. Went quite well with a red Sancerre. My new fav.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

UNBELIEVABLE dessert - chocolate chip cookie dough brownies

Yield: 32 brownies

Prep Time: 30 min + cooling time

Cook Time: 25 min

These brownies are a major treat for cookie dough lovers... figuring out what wine to pair this one with... for when MAMA REALLY NEEDS A TREAT!!!


4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
3 Tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup semisweet chips + 1 teaspoon shortening for drizzle, optional


1. Prepare the brownies: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9x13-inch pan with nonstick spray. In a medium glass bowl, melt chocolate in the microwave in short bursts of 30 seconds; stir after each burst and remove from microwave when melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl, mix butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract. Mix in melted chocolate. Blend in flour and mix just until combined (don't over-mix). Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake 25 to 35 minutes. Watch closely and remove from oven when toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely.

2. Prepare the cookie dough: In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to combine butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Mix in milk and vanilla. Mix in flour just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

3. Spread cookie dough over the cooled brownies. Refrigerate until the dough is quite firm. It's okay to speed up the process and place it in the freezer too. The firmer the dough, the easier it will be to cut into neat squares. Use a sharp knife to cut the brownies. You may need to wipe the knife off with a paper towel in between cuts since the fudgy brownies and cookie dough will tend to stick to the knife a bit. These brownies are best to serve placed inside cupcake papers and served with a fork.

4. If you'd like to add chocolate drizzle on top, melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips with 1 teaspoon of shortening in the microwave; stir until smooth. Scoop the melted chocolate into a zip baggie and snip off the corner. Squeeze the bag to drizzle the chocolate on top of each brownie. Sprinkle additional chocolate chips on top, if desired.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Another Banana Bread Recipe

There's already one of these on here, but this is a new one I've tried a few times to RAVE reviews. Granted, its basically banana cupcakes when you make muffins because of the sugar content, but hey! You can make banana cupcakes! You could probably reduce the sugar a little if you want to be more healthy, but then also consider reducing the oil to lessen the liquid content.

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour one loaf pan, or 12 muffin cups.

1.5 cups plus two tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

sift to combine. set aside.

2 eggs
1 cup sugar

mix on medium high speed for about 10 minutes or until the mixture is light yellow and forms a ribbon when you pull the beaters out.

1/4 cup oil

reduce speed to low and pour oil into mixture in a slow stream.

4 organic (smallish) bananas (about 1.5 cups)
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla

add bananas, yogurt and vanilla to mixer and continue beating on low speed until combined.

fold in dry ingredients.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes for muffins and 45 to 60 minutes for a loaf.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Chicken Tacos on Soccer Night

What do you do when it's soccer night, and everyone is punchy and grumbly by the day's end? PLAN AHEAD!

You'll need:
  • 1 bag frozen chicken breasts or tenders
  • 1 jar of your favorite salsa
  • Tortillas
* Cumin
* Garlic Salt

Throw all into crockpot & cook on LOW for 4-6 hours.

When you get home from soccer/dance/horse back riding lessons... open crockpot and remove chicken. Shred (all you need to do is poke lightly with fork, and it falls apart).

Let the little ones set the table for your fiesta... serve with refried beans, Mexican rice, and bowls of toppings (*shredded cheese, *lettuce, *guacamole, *sour cream, *chopped tomatoes/onion)


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pasta with Beet Greens and Raisins

This was inspired by a Sunset Magazine recipe. I made a few changes (of course) and I think there is lots of room for variation, but the basics are unusual and yummy. After I convinced Kate and Mariah that the "lettuce" wasn't gross, they actually ate it. The raisins really helped encourage them to try.

* 1 package uncooked pennette (or penne, or whatever you've got)
* 1/2 cup raisins
* 3 tablespoons oil (not olive - something like safflower*)
* 4 cups coarsely chopped trimmed beet greens (the tops from about 3 nice sized beets)
* 4 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
* 2/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
* 1 teaspoon salt (or 1/2 tsp fancy french sea salt because its really strong)
* a few grinds of black pepper

Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain. I used whole wheat penne and it was really great in this (I have used whole wheat pasta before and not liked it, but this time it really worked).

While pasta cooks, place raisins in a small bowl; cover with hot water. Let stand 10 minutes. Drain. (or let stand until you realize that it's time to add them and then drain them. Its not an exact science)

While pasta cooks and raisins soak, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add greens and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until greens are tender. Stir in pasta, raisins, almonds, salt, and black pepper; toss to combine. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, if desired.

You could also add some apple chicken sausage to meat it up, or maybe some sauteed chicken. Or, if you wanted to get fancy and serve it at room temp, you could add some chevre once it has cooled a bit. That would be yummy with the raisins and almonds.

Ken recently found out that you should not use olive oil for sauteing. The reason? Olive oil becomes carcinogenic at high temperatures. Reason enough for me to switch to something more heat tolerant. The suggested substitute is grape seed oil, but that was super expensive at the grocer store. I went for safflower, and aside from smelling a little like popcorn when I started to heat the pan, it was not so different from what I am used to. I think I'm going to save my olive oil for salads and dipping. Seems a shame to waste it on sauteing anyway.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Blue Cheese Dressing

This is destined for fame. I finally figured out how to make LaRocca's restaurant style blue cheese dip/dressing.

Here's what you need:
  • Costco Blue Cheese Crumbles
  • Light sour cream
  • Mayonaise (olive oil)
  • Garlic, crushed
  • Salt to taste
Add a mass of blue cheese to a Cuisinart.
Dump in about half a container of sour cream.
Throw in a few dollops of mayonnaise
Crush and dice and add the garlic, as much as you dare!
Salt to taste

Whip into frenzy. Add more sour cream to make more liquid or less for thicker dips.

Eat with blackened chicken, as dip for chicken wings, serve with all salads. Devour. Lick the bowl. Make more.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Experimental Saag Aloo

We had a jar of masala simmer sauce from Trader Joes and a package of chicken breasts that had to be used. Of course, we'll just make some saag aloo to go with it right?

The web is woefully lacking in quality saag aloo recipes. This is my experiment with what seemed to be the simplest, and most intelligent version:

First make garam masala - not as challenging as it sounds:

* 1 tablespoon ground cumin
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground pepper
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or cloves
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Surprisingly, I had all of these ingredients in my pantry. I felt a little like a cooking rock star.

1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion chopped
1 large potato peeled and diced
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp garam masala
1 400 gram bag of frozen chopped spinach
1 tsp chopped honey pickled ginger (or you could use fresh ginger or dry ginger and some kind of acid like lemon juice or a splash of vinegar)

First saute 1/4 tsp of cumin seeds in about a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of butter until starting to brown. Then before the butter and seeds burn (that's what happened with my first attempt - whatever you do, don't go looking for ginger at this point) add the chopped onion and saute until it is translucent and just starting to brown. Next add the potato, garlic, tumeric and garam masala. Saute until the potatoes start to brown and revel at the amazing Indian food smell you have just created on your kitchen stove.

Once the potatoes have started to brown, add the spinach. Once it has melted, add more water in small batches and keep stirring until the potatoes are soft. At the very end, because I felt like something was missing I added in a tsp of chopped honey pickled ginger and a half teaspoon of salt. I stirred and mixed and mixed and stirred until it looked just right.

It was fantastic!

However, the girls did not even touch it. Of course they hardly touched their gnocchi either and that is their favorite dinner. Instead, they wrestled on the banquet bench until I yelled at them. That was not fantastic.

Once I finished dinner, I had a few more ideas about what I might have done to round out the flavor a little. Definitely one to keep experimenting with.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Delectable Blackened Chicken

Oh, my goodness. Where do I begin?

I had this at a party and dreamed about it ever since.

Here's what you need (and pay attention! because the sugar, salt, and pepper get divided between the rub & the sauce...):

1 Tablespoon paprika
4 teaspoons sugar, divided
1-1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used a chipotle red pepper as a substitute, which was FANTASTIC)
1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons pepper, divided
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1-1/3 cups mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
In a small bowl, combine paprika, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, garlic powder, thyme, lemon-pepper, cayenne and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon pepper. Stir together until combined.

Take your chicken and give it a good pat with some paper towels to make sure it's totally dry. THEN, take handfuls of the rub, and massage into breasts, BOTH SIDES, until well covered. set aside.

In another bowl, combine mayonnaise, water, vinegar and remaining sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk together until mixed well. Taste, because it's delicious. Taste it again. Cover and chill 1 cup for serving. the remaining sauce is for basting while cooking.
Grill chicken, covered, over indirect medium heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until juices run clear, basting frequently with remaining sauce.

Serve with reserved sauce....

I also served this with Zatarans (sp?) black beans & rice and a nice mixed veggie, some corn muffins. Let's just say, the whole family sat down to eat together, talked about our day, everyone had generous helpings of everything and there was only enough left overs for Daddy to take a blackened chicken sandwich and rice to work for tomorrow. I was most disappointed about that, after looking quite forward to a blackened chicken Caesar salad. NEXT time I double the recipe.

Happy eating, everyone!
4 servings
Enjoy :)