Tuesday, November 30, 2010

197. Cabbage-Onion Stir Fry, Frugal

Someone once told me that a great cook should be able to make wonderful meals out of practically nothing. When I open my refrigerator and pull out ingredients to make an unplanned soup or salad, I think of that statement.

If I use up a little of this or a little of that and end up with a great tasting dish or meal, I am gratified that my years of culinary experiences have helped me create healthy, great tasting food to feed my family. I also know that these meal-stretching recipes have saved us a lot of money.

Some foods, though, are hard to use up especially if the kids are grown and gone. For me, a head of cabbage is one of those foods. I might start out craving cole slaw or stuffed cabbage, but making either or both of those two dishes does not begin to use up even a small head of cabbage.

Because steamed cabbage is something I usually only eat with our St. Pat's Day corned beef and, after having thrown out too many moldy, partially-used cabbages, I put my skills to use and came up with Cabbage-Onion Stir Fry. I have made this recipe as a minimum-ingredient side dish and other times, have added more to make it into a meal. Every time I serve this dish, my husband tells me how much he loves it...a statement every cook yearns to hear!

Additional ingredients: chicken, pork, beef, mushrooms, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, green peppers, pea pods, cooked rice. Stir fry ingredients with the longest cooking time first and set aside.

Diane's Cabbage-Onion Stir Fry

1 large sweet onion, sliced into thin wedges
2 C cabbage, coarsely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Soy sauce

Heat oil in pan or wok, on med-high. Add onions and stir for 1 minute. Add the cabbage, stir fry until tender.  Add seasonings (as desired) - soy sauce, salt, pepper…Serve immediately or keep warm while stir-frying additional ingredients.

Monday, November 29, 2010

196. Meatballs, Southwestern Style, Taste and Eye Appeal

   The Southwestern states - New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Nevada, California, Utah and Colorado -  have an exciting variety of plants, animals and scenery. From palm trees to cactus, sagebrush and tumbleweed, snow-capped mountains, pastures and farm land, the Southwest is unforgettable.

   Because of the influence of nearby Mexico, Southwestern food is often spicy and hot and the various combinations of cilantro, peppers, avocado and tomato have become a favorite all over the world.

   Many of the south-of-the-border style foods have a layered appearance as vegetables, meat, sauces and cheeses are added one by one. Lovely to look at, these crowd-pleasing meals are inexpensive and filling.

    The Meatballs, Southwestern Style recipe is reminiscent of chili. It definitely has taste and eye appeal as well as a spicy flavor.

Meatballs, Southwestern Style

1 pound ground beef  (or ground turkey)        1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained
1 pkg. chili seasoning, divided                        1 (15 oz) canned corn, drained
1slice bread, crumbed                                     1 (5 oz) can tomato paste
1 egg, beaten                                                   1/4 C green pepper, chopped
1 T olive oil                                                    1 (10 oz) can Rotel diced tomatoes/chilies
Water (2 tomato paste cans)                            Salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
Toppings: Cooked macaroni or hot rice, avocado, sour cream, cheddar cheese, shredded

Combine beef, 1 T chili seasoning, bread crumbs and egg. Shape beef mixture into 24 meatballs.

Add oil to a large skillet pre-heated to med-high. Brown meatballs, turning frequently until evenly browned; drain on paper towels and set meatballs aside. Spoon drippings from pan and turn heat down to medium. Add beans, corn, tomato paste, green pepper, Rotel and remaining chili seasoning. Mix well. Place meatballs over mixture in skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Uncover and simmer an additional 5 minutes.

 Ladle meatballs and vegetables over hot rice or macaroni.
Top with avocado slices, sour cream and cheddar cheese.

Additional toppings: sliced black olives, green chilies, sauteed onions, chopped tomato, chopped cilantro.

Friday, November 26, 2010

195. Peanut Clusters, Festive

 As soon as I was old enough to be trusted in the kitchen, I baked cookies. Over the years, it seemed like I was on a  quest to find better tasting, more unusual or better looking cookies. With all that baking, I learned that even if the cookies did not turn out well,  I learned something...like the fact that some  ingredients, when combined, were horrible. I also learned that often an old recipe was better than an updated version and that just because someone says a recipe is good, does not make it so.

Part of my desire to collect new recipes had to do with the fact that homemade treats were almost always a daily feature in my family's lunch bags. Sometimes, however, even I ran out of steam. If I occasionally turned to an easy, no-bake treat like today's recipe...it was, at least, served with care.

Chocolate Peanut Clusters are easy to make and taste as good as they look. These treats are very pretty when served in little pleated paper cups and are easily modified by adding a variety of ingredients...let your taste buds be your guide!

Chocolate Peanut Clusters

½ C milk chocolate chips
½ C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 T shortening…do not use butter, margarine or oil
1 C unsalted, roasted peanuts

Optional ingredients:
cashews, coarsely chopped
Pretzels, crushed
White chocolate chips
Peanut butter chips

*If more than one or two additional ingredients are added, it might be necessary to increase the amount of melted chocolate.

In a small microwave safe bowl, add first 3 ingredients. Cook on HIGH for 1- 1 ½ min or just until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Stir in peanuts. Drop by tsp. into 1-inch clumps on waxed paper. Allow to set until firm. Store in airtight container. I like to keep the clusters refrigerated. Makes 2 dozen candies.
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

194. Golden Macaroon Cookies, Easy

Macaroons were one of the first cookie recipes that we we made in my eighth-grade home economics class. Not only were macaroons easy to make, but the recipe used up egg whites that we had  been taught how to carefully separate. Because our school district was on a strict budget and the teacher had limited funds to spend on classroom grocery items, every recipe taught in that beginners' class was simple and usually very economical. Macaroon cookies were no exception.

While there are many recipes for this type of coconut cookie, Golden Macaroon Cookies is the one we were taught...it uses few ingredients and makes a small enough batch that the cook does not feel like he or she is a kitchen prisoner!

This is also a great recipe to use when left over egg whites are sitting in the refrigerator waiting to be used.
These cookies are more like a coconut meringue than the traditional macaroon.

Note: If using a dark pan, decrease cooking time by 4-5 minutes.

Golden Macaroon Cookies

2 egg whites, room temperature
Dash of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla or almond flavoring
2/3 C sugar
1 1/3 C flaked coconut

Beat egg white with vanilla and salt until soft peaks form. While mixer is beating, gradually add sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold in flaked coconut. Drop by rounded teaspoon on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes at 325 degrees. Makes 2 dozen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

193. Cornbread Loaf #2, Quick Bread (V) has eggs

Quick breads are remarkable products because they inexpensive, easy to make, tasty and comforting. Pancakes and waffles are probably the most familiar items in the quick bread category; next would be muffins, biscuits and loaf-breads.

None of the products need to rise nor do they require kneading-hence the deisgnation 'quick'. The basic ingredients in quick breads are flour, baking powder, eggs, some kind of fat and a liquid. Other ingredients may be added to change the flavor and texture. The resulting mixtures will produce a pourable batter, a drop-type dough or a stiff dough.

The Cornbread Loaf recipe featured in this post makes a pourable batter product which bakes up into a moist, light loaf. Unlike traditional yeast bread, Cornbread Loaf may be sliced while it is hot using a long, serrated, bread-slicing knife. (A sawing motion to cut the bread will keep the loaf from being crushed). We serve this loaf sliced, buttered and drizzled with syrup or as a companion bread with soup or chili.

Optional additions to batter: chopped green chillies (canned), grated cheddar cheese, chopped black olives, coconut, chopped nuts.

Cornbread Loaf #2

1 ½ C flour

1 C yellow cornmeal
1/3 C sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ C margarine (Smart Balance)
2 T lemon juice
1 1/3 C milk, less 2 T
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a loaf pan (81/2x4 ½). In a bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix well. Cut in margarine with a fork until mixture is crumbly.

Mix the liquid ingredients and eggs in a small bowl. Add this to the dry ingredients. Stir until mixture forms a thick batter. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

192. Bacon-tied Potatoes with Onion, Easy (G)

Story: An aging man lived alone and his only son was in prison. Unfortunately, the old man didn't know anyone who would help him turn over the soil in his potato garden. The man wrote to his son about his problem, and received this reply, "For HEAVENS SAKE, Dad, don't dig in that garden, that's where I buried the GUNS!"

At 4 a.m. the next morning, a dozen policemen showed up and dug up the entire garden, but didn't find any guns. Confused, the man wrote to his son telling him what happened and asking him what to do next.

His son's reply was: "Just plant your potatoes, Dad."

I love this joke about one of my favorite vegetables - the potato ... a food which satisfies, is versatile and less expensive per pound than most other vegetables.

Growing up, we had three choices for potatoes - red, a thin-skinned white and russet. The first two were usually boiled and the third was baked or fried. Today, most consumers are able to buy and enjoy red and russet potatoes along with yellow, or Yukon Gold, and sometimes blue and purple potatoes.

Potatoes are wonderful in soups and stews, salads, main dishes and side dishes. They are  also great baked, fried and boiled. Potatoes often show up at breakfast, lunch and dinner and have even be included as a dessert ingredient when I do the cooking!

The recipe for bacon-tied, onion potatoes probably started out as camper-food but, it turns out just as well baked in a traditional oven. This is an easy meal to prepare on a night when you are just too tired to do much cooking.

Bacon-tied Potatoes with Onion

1 medium sweet onion, sliced
2 large red potatoes, halved lengthwise
4 strips of bacon

Divide onions on the bottom half of each potato. Replace the top of each potato and wind each potato with two bacon strips. Secure with toothpicks. Place potatoes in a loaf pan or baking pan and tent loosely with foil. Bake, at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Continue baking until potato is tender and bacon is crispy. Remove toothpicks before serving. To serve, coarsely mash or cut up potato with a fork and add butter or margarine to taste. Serves 2

Monday, November 22, 2010

191. Real Turkey Soup, Special (G)

So, the turkey has been carved and everyone stuffed to the gills, as my dad would say, with light and dark meat and all the trimmings. Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid the big clean up.

At home, my mother removed the meat from the turkey carcass immediately after the meal.  She said the meat would take on an 'off' flavor if we did not do this.

We all helped pick the carcass clean, but I never remember my mother using the turkey bones - they were simply discarded.

The year I discovered a wonderful recipe for turkey soup which used the carcass, I was happy and dismayed.  After all the work to prepare what I consider the most labor-intensive meal of the year, I knew I would be too tired to even think about making soup.

Solution: simply put the bones in a large, clean garbage bag  and store in the freezer for later use!

My version of Real Turkey Soup  makes a special after-Thanksgiving meal.

Note: The original recipe came from the Chicago Tribune Magazine chef's section.

Real Turkey Soup with
Angel Hair Pasta and Spinach

1 cooked turkey carcass
1 C dry sherry or dry white wine          8 C turkey stock or chicken broth
½ C chopped onions                            4 C diced, cooked turkey
½ C sliced carrots                                1 T minced fresh ginger root
1 large leek, halved, sliced                   1 tsp soy sauce
2 Bay leaves                                        1 C dried angel hair pasta (use gluten-free if desired)
Bouquet garni (parsley sprig,               1-2 C Fresh baby spinach
12 peppercorns, thyme tied                
into a cheesecloth)
1 C sliced, fresh mushrooms (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put turkey carcass and bones into a roasting pan until browned, about 30 minutes. Remove bones to large Dutch oven or soup pot. Pour sherry into the roasting pan and bring to a boil over med. heat. Scrape up browned bits from bottom of pan. Add sherry to bones.

2. Add onion, carrots, leek, bay leaves and bouquet garni to bones and sherry. Add stock, turkey meat and mushrooms. Heat to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, skimming surface scum occasionally, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.

3. Add ginger root and soy sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt if necessary. Remove and discard bouquet and bay leaves. Remove bones; remove any meat on bones and add back to soup.

4. Add pasta noodles and spinach to soup. Cook until pasta is al dente and spinach wilts, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Friday, November 19, 2010

190. Parmesan Bread Slices, Simple

The Fox River Valley, where I grew up, was famous for its abundance of restaurants. The Cock-a-doodle was the one closest to our home. The huge rooster model, which was attached to the building, always looked like he was announcing something. This restaurant's menu was strictly family-style and uncomplicated.

Every time we ate at the Cock-a-Doodle a basket of Parmesan bread was served before and during the meal. These narrow pieces of bread had been sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese and broiled. We loved the sharp, slightly salty cheese flavor and probably ate more of the slices than we should have.

I had almost forgotten about this side dish until the day I was too tired to fix anything more elaborate to go with a little left-over spaghetti. I wanted something bread-like, but I also wanted it to be more. Bread slices fixed with Parmesan are a tasty snack or a quick side dish for many meals, Italian or otherwise. I like to use French or Italian bread because of their satisfying texture. Other bread may be substituted.

Parmesan Bread Slices

Bread slices
Parmesan cheese, shredded

Set oven temperature to broil and raise top rack so food will be 5 inches from heat. Cut bread slices into 1-inch sticks. Place pieces onto a baking pan. Sprinkle bread liberally with shredded Parmesan cheese. Place pan in oven and broil carefully until cheese is melted and slightly browned. Remove pan and place bread in a napkin-lined basket for serving. Serve immediately.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

189. Pumpkin Mousse, Parfait (V,G)

   The recipe for Pumpkin Mousse Dessert - in a 1985 magazine - looked and sounded wonderful.  Unfortunately, the original recipe called for beaten egg whites to be folded into the pumpkin mixture. People could eat raw eggs back then, but not today.

    Today we have to worry about salmonella in any raw egg products. Therefore, I substituted whipped topping for the egg whites and am happy with the results.

   This dessert is an eye-pleasing creation. It also used up the remainder of a can of pumpkin used for Pumpkin Pecan Waffles (#187) and Pumpkin Date Cake (#184).

   My whole family loved the flavors of this dessert - especially the cream cheese layers; it was almost like eating pumpkin cheesecake without the crust!

   If you love pumpkin pie, but not the pie crust, substitute my Pumpkin Mousse Parfait for your holiday dinner dessert!

* Note: If you want the nuts to be crunchy, this dessert is best eaten the day it is made.

Pumpkin Mousse Parfait

1 envelope unflavored gelatin                  1/3 C cold water 
¾ C canned pumpkin                                1 C brown sugar, divided
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice                           ½ tsp salt
2 egg yolks                                                1 C whipped topping
1- (3) oz pkg cream cheese, softened      1 C sour cream
1 tsp vanilla                                              1/3 C chopped pecans

Soften gelatin in water; stir over low heat until dissolved. Add pumpkin, ½ C brown sugar, spice salt and beaten egg yolks. Cook stirring constantly over medium heat until thoroughly heated. Cool.  Fold whipped topping into cooled pumpkin mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine cream cheese and remaining brown sugar, mixing until well blended. Stir in sour cream and vanilla. Alternate layers of sour cream mixture, pecans and pumpkin in parfait glasses. Chill. 4-5 servings.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

188. Pizza Dough, Wonderful

My dad grew up in an Italian home in New York and he loved Italian food, including pizza. Because of this, my mother often made pizza for our family. She would make the dough and roll it out to fit a rectangular baking pan. The edges of the dough were pushed and pulled to form a crust edge all the way around the pan.

Next, she would drizzle one or two tablespoons of oil on the dough and spread it out to cover lightly. Tomato sauce was spread evenly over the oiled surface and sprinkled with favorite seasonings. The best part of this pizza construction was what came next...the toppings.  Often it was ground beef or Italian sausage which had been browned, black olive slices and mushrooms and, of course, cheese.

While the pizza smelled wonderful as it baked, I was never happy with the crust...it was not crisp enough and was often too thin. My dad seemed to enjoy the pizza no matter how it turned out. He would pick up a pizza square, fold it in half and eat it like that.

The topping ingredients are very important for a pizza, but besides a wonderful sauce, I think that the crust makes or breaks the total enjoyment of pizza eating. I discovered that by allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator for several hours, the texture and crispness of the baked crust will be greatly enhanced..

Many people use a pizza stone for baking; an up-side down baking sheet or a perforated pizza pan can also be used. Try not to overload the dough with too much of anything...it creates a soggy crust.

Pizza Dough

3 tsp dry yeast
1 1/2 T sugar
3 C bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp milk
1 1/4 C warm water

You may follow the directions for a bread machine to mix this dough on the dough cycle. (Hand mixing directions are below). Remove the dough from the machine, place in a greased bowl, turn once to grease both sides of the dough. Cover and refrigerate for a several hours.*

Dough may also be divided wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw and proceed with directions.

Bring dough to room temperature, covered and then roll out. One half of the dough will yield a 10-12- inch circle. Use the baking directions that came with your baking stone if you are using one.

If using a baking sheet, sprinkle the back side of the pan with corn meal.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Gently shape the dough, place on prepared pan. *(Hint below) Add desired ingredients on dough and place pan in oven and bake until the crust is golden and the toppings are cooked and the cheese is melted, 10-12 minutes.

Mixing by hand: place yeast and sugar in a bowl. Add 1 1/4 C of warm water and milk and mix well. Let stand until the mixture begins to foam. Place the flour and salt in a large bowl. Mix evenly. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and combine until dough holds together.

Remove to a floured board and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding flour as needed; kneading will take about 10 minutes. Dough will be slightly sticky. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, turn once. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled. Punch down dough and follow directions from the refrigeration step.*

 Hint: (I rolled out half of the dough, spread 2 tsp olive oil over the surface, added a minimal amount of flavored sauce and thin pieces of marinated mozzarella cheese. Baked at 425 degrees for 12 minutes).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

187. Pumpkin Pecan Waffles, Moist

My mother never liked waffles. In fact, she didn't even like to smell them cooking, so my dad  made them. He used our General Electric double waffle iron. I loved to watch him spoon the batter onto the hot, oiled grids. When my dad closed the two lids, the batter would invariably ooze out a bit and steam would drift into the air.

If the lid was lifted too soon, the waffle would stick and sometimes pull apart, but eventually the finished golden waffles would be pulled off of the hot iron.

I can still picture those little squares drizzled with butter and syrup; what a wonderful way to start a Saturday morning.

The aroma of waffles baking on a Saturday morning smells wonderful to me and reminds me of my childhood and I am grateful my dad stepped in to make our breakfasts special. I don't know what happened to that old waffle iron, but I assume a frayed cord made it too dangerous to use and it was probably thrown out.

The recipe for Pumpkin Pecan Waffles produces a more moist, nutritious and flavorful waffle.

If the waffles are refrigerated, they may be re-crisped in a toaster. (The waffles pictured below were made in a Belgian waffle iron. They are larger and have deeper sections than a traditional waffle iron).

 Pumpkin Pecan Waffles

1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
2 large eggs
1 cup soy milk (or regular milk)
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 C pecan, chopped
4 T margarine, melted (Smart Balance)

Lightly oil a Belgian waffle iron* with vegetable oil, and set it to the desired temperature.
*A regular waffle iron may be used; this will result in more waffles and less baking time.

Combine brown sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Add the remaining dry ingredients and combine well. Separate eggs. Add pumpkin and soy milk to the egg yolks. Whisk to blend and set aside.

Whip egg whites with a hand mixer on high until stiff peaks form; set aside.

Pour and whisk melted margarine into the pumpkin mixture. Add chopped pecans.
Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix them together until just combined.
Gently add the beaten egg whites to the pumpkin mixture. Fold whites gently but thoroughly.

Add batter to prepared waffle iron. Bake until done, about 4 minutes. Makes 7 Belgian waffles.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

186. General Chin's Chicken, Hunan Region

Sometimes even I rebel at having to eat one more familiar meal. This lack of interest in food usually causes me to dig a little deeper in my files and either find something new or revisit an old-but-forgotten recipe. Such a search might lead me to the flavors of the far east or, specifically, China. These recipes usually have layers of tantalizing ingredients; combine them with satisfying noodles or steaming bowls of rice and it is usually just what I need to whet my stale appetite.

One old-but-forgotten recipe that resurfaced on such a hunt was General Chin's Chicken which I had learned how to make in a Chinese cooking class. This particular dish is fairly well-known and comes from the Hunan region of China...an area that provides a large variety of food choices for its people; the recipes are inventive and delicious.

Many of the Hunan dishes contain hot peppers that, according to some sources, helped the people remove the dampness from their bodies. However, where Szechuan recipes usually add chili bean paste for the heat in their dishes, Hunan recipes are made with fresh or dried chili peppers, including the seeds and membranes which add a lot of heat.

If this recipe looks like it has more than the usual steps in cooking it is because in the Hunan region, cooks spend a lot more time in the preparation and appearance of their dishes compared to other regional cooks. Don't let the list of ingredients and steps scare you off...this recipe is well worth the effort.

General Chin’s Chicken

12 oz chicken breast, boneless

1 tsp cornstarch
1 T soy sauce

3 – 5 dried red chili pods
1 green onion, white part only
½ tsp minced ginger (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 small stalks celery
8 water chestnuts
3 T oil

1 T soy sauce
1 T dry sherry
1 T rice vinegar
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
1 T cornstarch paste (cornstarch in water)
2 tsp sesame oil

Hot rice or noodles


1. Pound chicken slightly to tenderize; cut into narrow strips. Mix chicken with marinade
    ingredients and set aside for half an hour.

2. Break chili pods in half and (discard seeds from pods if you don't want it to be so hot)

3. Chop green onion, white part, ginger and garlic

4. Trim celery and cut stalk vertically in half; then into ½ inch pieces

5. Slice each water chestnut into 3 equal portions

6. Mix sauce ingredients together and set aside


Set wok or fry pan over high heat and add 3 T oil, swirling pan to coat sides. Add chili pods and stir-fry for 20 seconds until browned. Add green onion, ginger, garlic and then chicken; cook for 2 minutes. Add celery, chestnuts and sauce. Stir fry for 1 min. until thickened. Serve hot over rice or noodles.

If you don’t want this dish to be so hot, use less chili pods.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

185. Chickpea Dip, Hummus

Saying the words garbanzo bean was sure to make my grade-school-aged friends and me laugh...we had no idea what that funny-sounding word, garbanzo, meant. If it really was a bean, no one I knew ate them or even where to find them.

It wasn't until I was an adult that I connected the word garbanzo with chickpea...who knew that they were one and the same? My mother did put chickpeas in salads and soup every so often, but we children did not like the mealy texture and the taste was nothing special, either.

When hummus started appearing in delis, potlucks and gatherings, I thought it looked rather unfortunate. It did not matter that it was often tinted various shades of yellow, green and tan; it was unappealing to me. However, as I watched others gobble up bowl after bowl of hummus, I finally decided to try it. Some hummus was terrible, while other flavors were very good. Still...I did not put much thought into this product as a recipe I could make myself until recently.

I found that it is quite easy to make a large 2-cup container of hummus with very little expense. This recipe makes a tasty treat and it is flavored with things I like. This dip is great with cut up vegetables and chips. Change a few ingredients and you can invent your own chickpea, garbanzo bean or hummus dip...happy blending!

Chickpea Dip

2 C canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained - reserve liquid
1 T lemon juice
1 garlic clove
3 T olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor or Vita Mix machine. Pulse until smooth. Add reserved liquid from beans a little at a time to bring mixture up to the desired thickness. Pour into a container, refrigerate.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

184. Pumpkin Date Cake, Fragrant (V)

All the members of my family love pumpkin pie and I would probably be made to feel very guilty if I had not made one for our Thanksgiving dinner.

While I enjoy the flavor of pumpkin pie, I do not like the soggy, bottom crust after the pie sits for  a day or so. Left-over pumpkin pie is definitely a second-rate experience. With that said, I like to use the canned pumpkin for other recipes - the flavor is not overpowering, and it has a comforting essence.

Unfortunately, only recipes for pies ever seem to use up a whole can of pumpkin filling. I have thrown out too many partial cans of this familiar squash because I did not take the time to use all of  the contents. The solution to this waste was to collect wonderful pumpkin recipes -  like pumpkin-date cake, pumpkin mousse, pumpkin nut bread and pumpkin waffles. Armed with these recipes, I can easily use up a can or two of cooked pumpkin.

Pumpkin-Date Cake is a delightful, fragrant one-pan type of cake. It is easy to put together, needs no frosting and is perfect for a lunchbox snack or an after-dinner dessert.

Pumpkin-Date Cake

½ C dates, pitted and chopped
½ C walnuts, chopped (or pecans)
2 T flour

¼ C butter or margarine
1 C brown sugar
2/3 C cooked pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

½ C flour
½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp baking soda

Mix ½ C chopped pitted dates, ½ C chopped walnuts and 2 T flour. Set aside.

In saucepan melt ¼ C butter or margarine over low heat; blend in 1 C brown sugar. Remove from heat; stir in 2/3 C cooked pumpkin and 1 tsp vanilla. Beat 2 eggs, one at a time, into pumpkin mixture.

In a bowl mix ½ C flour, ½ tsp baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and ¼ tsp baking soda. Add dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and blend well. Stir in floured dates and nuts. Turn the mixture into a greased 9x1½ inch round pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 min. Serve warm or refrigerate.

Cut in wedges and top with whipped cream or softened ice cream (optional). 8 servings.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

183. Cranberry-Apple Crumble, Colorful

Cranberries have become so much more than the main ingredient for a holiday side dish. This healthy, tangy fruit is now sold for its juice, dried and called 'craisins', shredded and put into quick breads and someday, it might even show up in mouthwash.

While the color and taste of cranberries make them popular as a food additive, they come packed with health benefits. Not only do cranberries contain antioxidants but, their anti-inflammatory properties have lead researchers to consider using them to help fight gum disease. For an in-depth review of the many health benefits of cranberries, follow the link below:


Apple crisps or crumbles are not only family favorites, but they are simple and inexpensive to make. The addition of fresh cranberries makes this old-fashioned dessert colorful and tangy. I can still picture all of us, snug in our home...ending our meal together with a dessert like apple-cranberry crumble. It was a happy time and the enjoyment of homemade food only made it that much better.

Cranberry-Apple Crumble

(This recipe actually makes its own sauce)

3 C peeled, chopped apples
2 C whole cranberries
1 C sugar


1 C oats
½ C brown sugar
1/3 C flour
½ C chopped pecans
½ C margarine

Grease 2 qt. baking dish. Combine: apples, cranberries and white sugar. Spread evenly in dish. Combine: oats, brown sugar, flour and pecans. Sprinkle over fruit. Dot with margarine. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 min. A sweet/tart dessert and good use of fresh cranberries. Serves 6.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

182. Carrot, Raisin and Pecan Salad, Memorable (G, V)

I am fascinated with recipes from other countries because I like to examine exotic and unusual  flavor and texture combinations. Often, I will read the ingredients and decide to take a pass because the recipes are too involved, call for items not readily available or just sound like something I would never eat.

Not long ago, though, I tried a salad recipe recommended by an East Indian recipe website. The salad ingredients seemed refreshing and wonderful. I put the listed items in a bowl - as directed - and  tasted. It wasn't horrible, but even after I refrigerated the concoction, I did not like it.

However, given my frugal nature, I did not want to waste all the ingredients and  transferred them to a sieve to wash away as much of the flavorings as possible. Next,  I added Hellmann's mayonnaise and lemon to the chopped fruit and vegetables and tasted; it was not only delicious, but the cinnamon, one of the orginal ingredients, had been soaked up by the fruit and added just the right something that makes this salad memorable. I love this new salad - it goes perfectly with a light lunch, a fish dinner or other salad-friendly meals.

*I would never have thought of adding cinnamon to this recipe if the original recipe had not included it.

Diane's Carrot, Raisin and Pecan Salad

2 carrots, grated

1 apple, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
¼ C raisins
¼ C pecans, chopped coarsely
¼ C Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise
1 T lemon juice

Ground Cinnamon

Combine first five ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Add mayonnaise and blend together evenly. Add lemon juice and a few sprinkles of cinnamon and mix again. Cover and chill for an hour. Taste and adjust flavors if necessary.

Monday, November 8, 2010

181. Turkey Tacos with Rice, A Concept

Sometimes a great recipe starts with an idea and just evolves - add a little of this or a bit of that The Italian sauces I used to make followed the no-measure method. Sometimes they were wonderful and other times -  very forgettable. One day, after years of this hit-or-miss method, I decided to write down each measured ingredient. The result was a wonderful sauce which I could duplicate a thousand times. I could increase or decrease the quantities in the recipe and have the same great results. I could also vary the recipe to accomodate other ingredients and still keep the essence of my wonderful sauce intact. What a concept!

In all my years of cooking, however, I still make mistakes and adjust recipes when they don't turn out well. Turkey Tacos was no exception.  The day I made Turkey Tacos with the homemade taco seasoning from post #105 - I measured and blended accurately, but I had not put the seasoning to the taste test.

IT WAS WAY TOO SALTY! (Post #105 has since been adjusted).

I just could not make myself throw out all the expensive meat, so I decided to add ingredients to lessen the effect of the salt. In came the cooked rice, a can of green chilies and sauteed onions.

The result was wonderful. Not only was the intensity of the salt decreased, but the filling for the tacos was heavenly. The additions also stretched the pound of turkey meat even more than expected.

Diane's Turkey Tacos with Rice


1  lb. ground turkey (not bullets) see post #71 for ground turkey advice
1 C cooked white rice
8 tsp homemade taco mix (post #105), or 1 pkg. commercial taco seasoning
1/2-3/4 C water
1 4 oz. can green chilies
1/2 sweet onion, sliced lengthwise and sautéed

Taco shells

Brown ground turkey in 1-2 T oil in a large frying pan on med-high heat. Stir frequently to brown evenly. Meat should be nicely browned and not burned. Turn burner down to med.-low. Add the rice and mix well. Add the taco mix and stir well; add water, green chilies and sweet onion. Mix to combine evenly. Heat through; remove from heat.

Crisp taco shells. To those I add 1 T refried beans and the meat mixture and heat in the microwave on HIGH for 15-30 seconds each. Additional fillings: chopped lettuce and tomato, grated cheese, chopped cilantro, and/or sour cream. What a great meal.

Soft taco shells are heated per pkg. directions. I add warm refried beans and the meat mixture to those. Follow with additional fillings as suggested above.

Friday, November 5, 2010

180. Maple-Nut Apples, Fall Treat (V, G)


  Today's taffy apples, whether home-made or commercially produced, often have so many sticky layers, the fruit - after which they are named, is almost an afterthought. The taffy apples I remember from my childhood used to be, just that - apples with caramel on the outside and maybe a light chopped-peanut layer, but that was all.

   In those less extravagant times no one bought  taffy apples. We made them at home. I  remember standing in the kitchen unwrapping square after square of caramel so that the process of melting them could begin.

   The washed apples sat next to buttered waxed paper squares which would be used to wrap around the dipped apples after the caramel had cooled off. Each apple was also partnered with saved popsicle sticks, (we didn't buy those, either).

  We melted the caramel squares into a gooey, golden sauce. Sticks were punched into apples and the dipping process began.  Each piece of fruit was rolled into the melted candy, lifted out and twirled until the caramel cooled and stayed in place.

   This fall ritual was much anticipated, but I could never understand why, after all that work, my mother warned us that eating caramel apples would pull out our fillings!

    No matter how difficult it was to actually eat this sticky treat on a stick, I never lost a filling!

   Today's recipe is not a caramel apple, but the flavors are similar to one. The apple is cut up, drizzled with a satisfying coating and sprinkled with nuts and coconut. Maple-Nut Apples is simple to make and is guaranteed to be gentle on your fillings!

Maple-Nut Apples

1 crisp apple, cut up into little pieces
2 T nut butter (peanut, cashew, macadamia or almond)*
4 T maple syrup
1 t vanilla extract (maple extract)
2 T chopped nuts (peanuts, cashews, pecans or almonds)

Cut apple into small pieces and divide into two helpings. Mix butter, syrup and extract evenly and well. Drizzle butter mixture over each plate of apple pieces. Sprinkle with nuts and coconut. Serves 2.


Recipe Index, Alpahbetical 1-180

Daily recipes are pulled from the following 5 groups.
Each group is only used once/week.

1. meat/fish
2. pasta/veg/fruit
3. bread/pastry
4. soup/salad/dessert
5. eggs/easy

Recipe             Post #

Appetizer, Oriental 155
Apple Crisp 143
Apple, German  Pancake 168
Apples, Maple Nut 180
Apples, Sauteed 142
Apple Squares 138
Apple Tarte Tatin 157
Artichokes 62
Asparagus, Creamed on Toast 87
Asparagus, Sautéed-steamed 42

Banana Pancakes 153
Banana Whip 115
Bars, Peanut 164
Bars, Praline Cookie 40
Bars, Praline Cookie - Deluxe 148
Beans, Back-Burner 32
Beans, Butter and Cabbage Soup 139
Beans, Garlic String 177
Beef, Italian 1
Beets, Pickled 112
Biscuit, (3) Baking Powder Recipes 73
Biscuits, Green Onion 52
Blackberry Dessert 169
Blueberry Cake Cups 144
Bread, Banana 8
Bread, Cheese-herb French 109
Bread, Danish Potato 5
Bread, Pita 34
Bread, Raisin Cinnamon 163
Bread, Sausage 171
Bread, White, rolls, buns 47
Bread, Zucchini 92
Burgers, Turkey Delicious 71
Butter Lamb 23

Cabbage, Butter Bean Soup 139
Cabbage, Stuffed 147
Cake, Blueberry Cups 144
Cake, Mini Pineapple Upside-down 99
Cake, Lemon Mousse 82
Calzone 166
Carrots in Broth 12
Casserole, Zucchini (Italian style) 26
Chicken and Dumplings 76
Chicken Artichoke Festiva 2
Chicken, Barbecued Pulled 95
Chicken Breast Strips 36
Chicken, Golden 46
Chicken/Green Curry Sauce 176
Chicken/Noodles, 161
Chicken, Oven Barbecue 11
Chicken Pot Pie, No Crust 151
Chicken Skewers, Marinated 131
Chicken, Spanish-Style Grilled 106
Chili Meat Cups 51
Chips, Tortilla Cinnamon 128
Coffee Cake, Easter Nest 24
Cookies, White Chocolate 7
Cookies, White Chocolate Oatmeal-Coconut, Deluxe 74
Corn bread, microwaved 55
Cornmeal Pie 158
Corn on the Cob, Grilled 107
Cornbread Loaf with Buttermilk 88
Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner 6
Cranberry Relish 178
Cranberry Sauce 179
Crepes, Chocolate-Orange Banana 113
Crescent Puffs, Chocolate-Pecan 14
Croissants, Cordon Bleu 126
Cucumber, Marinated Slices 122
Curry Sauce, Green with Chicken 176

Danish Puff 84
Dressing, California French 79
Dressing, Ranch - Almost 170
Dressing, Russian 56B
Dressing, Southwestern Salad 91A
Dressing, Thousand Island 85
Dumplings, Fruit 17

Eggs Benedictive 65
Eggs, Bulls-Eye 90
Eggs, Creole 140
Eggs, Deviled 75
Eggs, Hard Boiled and Easter Eggs, easy dye method, Cold Water 18
Eggs, Huevos Rancheros 70
English Muffin Loaf 28
English Muffin, Apple-topped 125

Fish Filet with Mushroom Sauce 141
Frosting, German Chocolate - Microwaved 173
Fruit Crisp, microwavable 49
Fruit Flower for Two 45

Garlic String Beans 177
Garnish, Carrot Flower 150
German Apple Pancake 168
German Chocolate Frosting 173
Granola, Oatmeal Maple 103
Gravy, How to Make Lump-free 160
Green Peppers, Shrimp-Stuffed 72
Green Tomatoes, Fried 137

Ham, Peas and Pasta 152
Ham Roll With Pea and Olive Sauce 81
Hash browns 50

Icing, Quick 145

Jam, Concord Grape 149

Lemon Mousse Cake 82
Lemon-Pepper Sauce, Vermicelli 175
Lettuce, Grilled Shrimp and 117

Mac and Cheese for Two 130
Macaroni Shells Florentine 162
Mango-Lime Salsa 127
Maple-Nut Apples, 180
Meatballs, Swedish 155
Meatloaf, My Mother's 146
Mincemeat Bars 133
Mincemeat, Green Tomato
Mousse, Lemon Cake 82
Mushrooms, Stuffed 77
Mussels 9

Orange Alaska 159
Orange, Chocolate-Striped Slices 60

Pancakes, Banana 153
Pancake, German Apple 168
Parfait, Chocolate-Mint 124
Parmesan Crisps 123
Patties, Bacon Potato 22
Patties, Tuna Potato 3
Pecans, Cinnamon Sugar 100
Pickles, Bead and Butter 102
Pie, Cornmeal 158
Pie Crust and Pie Crust Secrets 16
Pie, Easy Fresh Peach 104.
Pie, Frosty Pineapple Juice No-Bake 69
Pie, Mile-High Lasagna 61
Pie, Peanutty Ice cream 80
Pie, Plum 110
Pie, Ruby Whipped Cream Cheese 64
Pie, Spaghetti 41
Pie, Sweet Potato 15
Pimentos, Mock 93
Pizza, Easy 59
Pizza, Fruit 53
Popcorn, Caramel 35
Pork Chops Sorrento 136
Potatoes and Turnips 167
Potatoes in a Bag (Savory Microwaved) 54
Potatoes, Twice Baked 172
Potatoes, Whipped Sweet 58

Quiche, Mini 118

Red Beans and Rice 86
Relish, Cranberry 178
Rice, Basmati, how to cook perfect rice 30
Rum-Pineapple Fuff 'n Crunch 89

Salad, 3-Bean 154
Salad, Broccoli 29
Salad, Bunnies on the Lawn 19
Salad, Chicken Pasta 119
Salad, Hot German Potato, microwaved 97
Salad, Layered 129
Salad, Lime Pineapple 25
Salad, Napa Cabbage 39
Salad, Potato with Radish 94
Salad, Southwestern Chicken 91
Salad, Strawberry spinach 48
Salad, Waldorf 134
Salmon with Cilantro and Lime 96
Salsa, Mango-Lime 127
Sandwich, Breakfast 68
Sandwich, Open-Faced Vegetable 108
Sandwich, Pita Egg 37
Sandwich, Ruben 56
Sauce, Blueberry Fruit 83
Sauce, Cocktail 44
Sauce, Spaghetti 41
Sauce, Tomato 135
Sausage Bread 171
Sausage, Italian with Tomato and herbs 21
Shrimp Scampi 27
Slaw, Fruit 10
Sloppy Joe 34
Smoothie, Fruit 66
Soup Au Pistou 4
Soup, Butter Bean and Cabbage 139
Soup, Cream of Asparagus 57
Soup, Egg Drop 43
Soup, Spaghetti-Lover's 114
Soup, Tortilla 174
Squares, Spice and Sweet Potato 38
Steak Barbecue, Beijing Style 116
Steak Barbecue, Beijing Style 121
Steak Diane 111
Strawberries, Chocolate Covered 33
Strawberry Cookie Cup 120
Sushi, California Rolls, Made Simple also Seaweed Free Rolls 67
Syrup, Easy Pancake (2 recipes) 13

Taco Seasoning, Homemade 105
Tart, Cream Cheese 165
Tortilla Fruit Shells 78
Tuna Salad 101
Turnips and Potatoes 167
Turnovers, Crunchy Beef 20

Vermicelli with Lemon-Pepper Sauce 175

Waffle, Chocolate Dessert 63

Zucchini Squares 98

Thursday, November 4, 2010

179. Cranberry Sauce, Too Easy

Sometimes a great recipe idea can be in plain sight and yet, we don't notice it. For me, the recipe was for cranberry sauce...not a cranberry relish, but an actual sauce.

I love to eat this tangy fruit sauce with pork, turkey or roasted chicken, but never made any or even thought I could make it. By chance,  I took the time to read the recipes on the back of the bag of fresh cranberries and there, in plain sight, was a perfect recipe for this wonderful, deep red sauce.

 It had probably been on all the other bags I had thrown out for years...yet, I never took the time to read them...just a little effort...all I had to do was to turn the bag over and read.

This simple sauce is multi-faceted...it is wonderful with meat, but also lends extra zip when drizzled over cut fruit, angel food cake and ice cream.

Cranberry Sauce

3 C fresh cranberries
1 C sugar
1 C water

Bring water and sugar to a boil. Add cranberries. Boil 5 min or until the skins pop.

Put mixture in blender and pulse until smooth. Pour into container and refrigerate.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

178. Cranberry-Apple Relish, Side Dish

Fresh cranberries are a very unusual fruit. Alone, their taste is sour and unpleasant. Sweetened and mixed with other foods, they are tangy and wonderful. When fresh, this fall fruit is probably associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas more than any other time...coincidentally, this is also the only time of year this fresh fruit is available.

We always had some sort of cranberry side dish with our Thanksgiving dinner. For years, it was  that jellied stuff that came out of a can. If both ends of the can were opened, the whole cylinder-shaped jell slid out. Mother would place it on a dish and cut it in thick slices. Eating it was kind of a love-hate thing...the tangy flavor was appreciated, but its consistency was not all that appealing.

We were definitely overjoyed when our mother discovered how to put together the side dish that  became the asked-for-favorite for our holiday meals. She would grind cranberries coarsely with apples and other ingredients. The mixture was sweetened, flavored and allowed to blend together in the refrigerator for a few days before it was considered just right. Mother's cranberry dish was enhanced with triple-sec. I like  orange flavoring better.

Diane's Cranberry-Apple Relish

1 peeled orange, seedless
3 C cranberries, washed and sorted
3 apples, cored and quartered ( use a good Red Delicious, Fugi or Gala; unpeeled)
¾ C sugar
Orange flavoring

Put first 3 ingredients into Vita Mix  or food processor and pulse quickly to leave cranberries and apples coarsely ground. Add sugar and orange flavoring to taste. Put mixture in a covered container and refrigerate for 2-3 days. Mix daily to keep flavors blended.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

177. Garlic Beans with Red Peppers,

I love buying fresh green beans especially if I see that they are, in fact, fresh. While the best green beans are the ones picked right from the garden, careful shopping at stores or farmers' markets are good alternatives. Unfortunately, many times I find that vendors sell beans that are the opposite of fresh...shriveled skin, limp textures or discoloration are definite signs that they have been around too long.

Cooking fresh beans as soon as possible is the best way to take advantage of their nutritional value but, I have found myself, from time to time, letting a beautiful bag of beans sit on the refrigerator shelf day after day. I don't know how many moldy bags of beans have been thrown out because I just did not feel inspired to do something with them!

If this has happened to you or you just want to add a new twist to your green bean favorites, Garlic  Beans with Red Peppers might just be the recipe to try. A plateful of green beans fixed this way with pasta bows and a few slices of Italian bread can be a light, healthy meal alternative. It also makes a tasty, colorful side dish.

Garlic Beans with Red Peppers

1 pound of fresh green beans or wax beans (frozen beans may be substituted)
Ice Water

1 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced and cut in half
Pepper blend

Pasta bows, optional

Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add beans and cook until beans are al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain beans and put them into a bowl of ice water (this stops the cooking process). When beans are cold, drain again.

Heat oil in a skillet over med. heat. Add garlic and red pepper. Cook while stirring for 2 minutes. Add drained beans and cook until heated through. Season with salt and a pepper blend to taste. Serve.

Monday, November 1, 2010

176. Chicken with Potatoes, Peas and Green Curry Sauce

I used to live within a ten minute drive of an amazing grocery store called Trader Joe's where they  featured a monthly calendar of specialty cooking events. Various chefs would come to the store and create wonderful meals using products from stock on the shelves. It was a taster's delight. The recipes were always shared so shoppers could buy the ingredients and make the same dishes for family and friends. It was a win-win arrangement...the store sold food and the shoppers went home happy.

 Because of an ordinance, these cooking events are no longer held.

I remember the day I tasted this simple dish and its unusual sauce...the flavors were amazing. I loved the blend of ingredients and the 'heat' created by the peppers in the Tai Green Curry Simmer Sauce*. I feel fortunate to have sampled green curry sauce and then actually kept the wonderful recipe that uses it.

A side panel on the jar label says that in Thailand, green curry is not only considered a national treasure, but that it is one of the most complicated to make. This particular sauce is a blend of coconut milk, soy, cilantro, pureed chili peppers, lemon grass and ginger...I am very happy to leave the blending to the experts and just open the jar!

*(Specialty sections in most groceries carry variations of green curry sauce).

 Chicken with Potatoes, Peas and Green Curry Sauce

6 petite red potatoes diced with the skin on (or cut into bite-sized pieces)
(If serving over rice, omit potatoes)
2 T olive oil
2 frozen, boneless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 large sweet onion diced
3-4 large fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 jar Trader Joe's Tai Green curry sauce*(or another brand)
1/2 small bag of frozen petite peas
Cilantro, minced

In a pot, cover potatoes with water and cook until tender. Set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat; place frozen chicken breasts in pan and braise with the pan lid partially on to prevent the oil from spitting. Turn the breasts a few times until the meat is soft enough to slice through. The center of the meat will be raw and partially frozen.

Cut the chicken on the diagonal into bite-sized pieces and return them to the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir while cooking for a few more minutes. Lower heat to medium and add onions and mushrooms. Continue cooking and stirring until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are crisp-tender. Add drained potatoes, curry sauce and peas. Heat through. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with minced cilantro.