Friday, February 29, 2008

Fresh Tomato Soup

The reviews for this soup have varied from "I don't like tomatoes, but I really like this soup." to "We made it and we thought it was terrible. We had to really doctor it up." Fresh tomato soup is a staple at my house. Or it was until they closed the local green house that grew fresh tomatoes. I miss you greenhouse. This recipe originally called for a cup of cream added after you blend the soup, and then bringing the soup back to a simmer. I don't think it needs the cream, but feel free to add it if you like. If the soup isn't quite right, try adding more salt. With tomato recipes (like salsa) the fix is usually to add more salt. I like to freeze this soup in single serve Ziploc containers. The soup in the picture was frozen in a Ziploc container. I tried to make the picture fancy by adding cheese to the soup. Turns out cheese does not float.

Fresh Tomato Soup


1 T olive oil

½ medium onion, chopped

¼ tsp pepper

8 tomatoes (2 ½ lbs), chopped

4 c water

1 tsp salt

  1. Sauté onions in olive oil in a soup pot.

  2. Add the tomatoes and pepper, and cook 20 minutes on low. Add water and salt.

  3. Cook 40 minutes uncovered.

  4. Blend in batches in a food processor or just blend with an immersion blender.

Easter Bread

I figured that I should post this recipe before Easter. I got this recipe from Karen who got it from Grama Brezden. In the old world, Easter bread was baked in a tall cylindrical pan and would form a tall upright loaf with a domed top. The top is similar to the onion dome tops of eastern European churches. Until just a few years ago I baked this bread in aluminum coffee cans. Even if you still have some aluminum coffee cans around, don't bake in them. The solder breaks down when you bake in them and lead leaches into the bread. If you bake in them more then once, it leaches even more lead. Unless I can come up with a tall cylindrical alternative, I plan on just making a round loaf shape. That's what Kristy did last year. This makes several (don't know how many) loaves of bread. You're friends and family will love you at Easter. I'll update when I make this bread again. My mom loves it toasted.

You may want to see my post on bread baking basics.



One saffron package

1 pint boiling water

8-10 egg yolks

2 cups sugar

Handful salt

1/2 cup melted butter

2 pkgs. Yeast

1 cup water

2 cups milk

1 pint cream

1 cup water

17 cups flour (this is an approximation)

2 cups raisins (optional)(or a mix of raisins, golden raisins, dried cranberries and currents)

1. One saffron package to 1 pint boiling water. Mix and set overnight. Strain in morning.

2. Lightly beat the egg yolks and add 8-10 egg yolks to the cooled saffron water.

3. Proof the yeast in 1 cup of warm (105-115 degrees) water. Mix: 2 cups sugar, handful salt, 1/2 cup melted butter, and the yeast and water mixture, 2 cups milk, 1 pint cream (scalded, cooled), 1 extra cup water.

4. Add egg yolks and saffron and water mixture.

5. Add about 17 cups flour. Karen adds about 2 cups at a time, mixing and then kneading each time until it's not sticky.

6. Knead in 2 cups raisins or mixed fruit.(if using)

7. Let rise once, knead again

8. Shape into loaves and place on greased cookie sheets let the loaves rise. I think the loaves should rise until double in bulk, but I'm not positive. (Original instructions were: Grease coffee can. Fill coffee can 1/3 full with dough. Let rise to top.) Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. Bread is done when a thermometer inserted into the bottom center of the loaf reads 205-215 degrees. You can frost top with a mixture of milk and powdered sugar. It won’t stay fresh as long if frosted. This recipe goes stale quickly. Use leftovers for french toast.

Scalloped Potatoes

The scalloped potatoes with chipoltle and smoked cheddar are amazing. They are vegetarian, but the smokiness of the cheddar and the chipoltle make them have a bacony flavor. I haven't tried the regular recipe. But I'm sure that's good too. I would imagine it would be good with Swiss cheese too. The recipe originally called for all the cheese on the top. But Kristy (who found the recipe) and I think mixing in some cheese with the potatoes would be better. Be sure to actually wait the ten minutes before serving. When casseroles or meat or scalloped potatoes cook, all the moisture is pushed to the edges of the casserole (or meat). After resting, the moisture is distributed more evenly. In the case of casseroles, that means when you dish it all the sauce won't seep into the whole where you dished from. In the case of meat it means the juice will stay in the meat and not run all over the plate. This reicpe is from America's Test Kitchen.


Serves 4 to 6

You can substitute Parmesan instead of cheddar.


2 T unsalted butter

1 small onion, minced

2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press ( about 2 tsp)

1 T chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)

1 1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground pepper

2 ½ lbs ( about 5 medium) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch -thick slices with the slicing disk of a food processor

1 c canned low-sodium chicken broth

1 c heavy cream

4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded (1 c)

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until the foaming subsides. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the potatoes, broth, and cream and bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender ( a paring knife can be slipped into and out of a potato slice with some resistance), about 10 minutes. Mix in half of the cheese.

3. Transfer the mixture to an 8-inch square baking dish ( or other 1 ½ quart gratin dish); sprinkle evenly with the remaining cheese. Bake until the cream is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.



2 T unsalted butter

1 small onion, minced

1 large chipoltle chile in adobo sauce, minced (about 1 ½ T)

2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press ( about 2 tsp)

1 T chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)

1 1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground pepper

2 ½ lbs ( about 5 medium) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch -thick slices with the slicing disk of a food processor

1 c canned low-sodium chicken broth

1 c heavy cream

4 oz smoked cheddar cheese, shredded (1 c)

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until the foaming subsides. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the chipotle, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the potatoes, broth, and cream and bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender ( a paring knife can be slipped into and out of a potato slice with some resistance), about 10 minutes. Mix in half of the cheese.

3. Transfer the mixture to an 8-inch square baking dish ( or other 1 ½ quart gratin dish); sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese. Bake until the cream is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Easter recipes

I'm sure I'll be making our new traditional Easter dinner, Pizza. I either make it on the grill or in the oven, depending on the weather. But if your traditions aren't so odd, you might want to check out-Honey Glazed Carrots, Key Lime Cheesecake, Easter Bread, scalloped potatoes. Also, if you haven't seen these, check out Kristy's naturally dyed Easter eggs.

Key Lime Cheesecake

This is a super easy and a nice summer treat. Buy a gram cracker crust. Mix three ingredients in a mixer. Pour into crust and chill. You can make the whipped cream topping if you feel like it. It's only slightly more complicated, but it's fine if you just stop with the key lime filling. One thing to note is that Key Lime Juice is not lime juice. Key lime is sweeter. Don't bother looking for fresh key limes. (a lemon, a lime and a key lime in link) I doubt they sell them in very many places. Garnish with strawberries.

Key Lime Cheesecake


For filling:

An 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened (low fat & fat free work well)

A 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (low fat works here also)

1/2 cup fresh or bottled Key lime juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

For the whipped cream topping:

1 cup well-chilled heavy cream

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla-I just use a drop in the cream

Make filling

In a bowl with an electric mixer beat together filling ingredients until smooth and pour into a prepared gram cracker crust. Chill cheesecake at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

For the whipped cream topping:

In another bowl with cleaned beaters beat cream with sugar and vanilla until it holds soft peaks and spread evenly on cheesecake. TIP: If you make the whip cream ahead of time and place it in the refrigerator in a coffee filter lined sieve, the whip cream will not collapse. See my video. It will hold for at least a day and a half, probably more. The most I ever tried is a day and a half.

Also, it's good without the whipped cream.

Google Reader

My new best friend is google reader. It's like a mailbox for the picture sites and blogs you read. I just check my Google reader site in the morning and I know if any of my friends and family have posted new pictures or new blog entries. That way I don't have to check 10 different places to see if there are new posts. Just one. It's free.

Bacon fun

Check out the bacon cups and bacon curls at

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wheat Berry Pilaf

I like to eat this as an alternative to oatmeal. Ya know, you have to mix things up. Wheat berries have satisfyingly chewy texture and wheaty flavor. Wheat berries are a great whole grain. The larger and less processed a grain is, the healthier it is for you. The more work your digestive system is doing, the better. For example the descending order of healthiness would be Whole oats, Irish oats, rolled oats, and instant oats. Wheat berries are what they call the whole kernels of wheat in a health food store. If you're a farmer or like me and have a farmer friend, you don't even have to go to the store. They just show up at your house. Thanks Steve and Karen. If you use wheat berries for other things, Like Lora's Weird Wheat berry Salad, wheat berries, like all (or at least most) whole gains will freeze well after they are cooked. I added a Tablespoon of brown sugar to Kristy's original recipe. She likes this with a little warm milk. I think milk is kind of disgusting, especially warm. So, I just eat mine plain. By the way, it's a cinnamon stick in the picture if you were wondering.



1 c wheat berries

3 c water

pinch sea salt

1 cinnamon stick

1 T dark brown sugar

1/3 c golden raisins

1/3 c dried cranberries

½ c chopped almonds, toasted

½ T butter or olive oil

Soak wheat berries 8 hours or over night. Drain. Place in heavy-bottomed pot with water, sea salt, brown sugar,and cinnamon stick. Cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 ½ hours until tender. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and let sit 10 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid and remove cinnamon stick.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Green Lentil Soup update

A video has been added to the Green Lentil Soup entry.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Janet's Sour Cream and Cheese Baked Fish

This is a great way to make healthy fish unhealthy. But, this is oh so tasty. This fish recipe is yet another of my childhood favorites. I've updated the recipe a mite. I replaced the sour cream with yogurt cheese, I replaced the bread crumbs with panko bread crumbs and I added another 1/2 tsp of salt. I mix some salt with the yogurt and some with the bread crumbs. I had to turn on the broiler at the end of the baking to brown the bread crumbs. My mom and I think it almost as good as the sour cream version with far less calories.



1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt ( I use 1 tsp)

1/4 tsp pepper

2 lbs ocean perch fillets

2 T butter

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

3 T lemon juice

1/2 cup minced parsley

1 cup sour cream (I use yogurt cheese)

1/2 cup shredded American cheese (I use extra sharp cheddar)

1/4-cup bread crumbs

Combine flour, salt, and pepper. Coat the fillets with the flour mixture. Place the fish in buttered 11 x 8-inch baking dish. Melt butter in a saute pan; saute onion until tender. Remove from heat. Mix in the lemon juice, parsley, sour cream and cheese. Spread the sour cream mixture on top of the fish. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top of the sour cream mixture. Bake at 375 for 30 to 40 minutes.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Ginger Carrot Soup

Sometimes I make this soup and I think it's the perfect delicious healthy spa style meal. Other times I just think it's just OK. The cashews are good in here even though they seem weird. I've made it without the dried mint before and it still worked. You can serve cornbread with this soup for a healthy lunch.



2 lbs carrots

4 c water

1 T olive oil

1 ½ c chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 T grated ginger

1 ½ tsp salt

1/4 tsp each:


ground fennel


all spice

dried mint

3-4 T lemon juice

1 c toasted cashews

1. Cut carrots into 1-inch chunks. Put in a medium sauce pan with water and salt, cover, bring to a boil. Simmer until very tender. (10-15 minutes)

2. Heat the oil in a small skillet. Add onions and saute over medium for about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, salt, and spices. Turn heat to low and continue to saute 8-10 minutes until well mingled and onions are very soft. Add lemon juice.

3. Puree everything (including cashews) in food processor in batches. Rewarm before serving. Alternatively, blend with an immersion blender in the saucepan off heat. Pass buttermilk for drizzling. (Optional) Cashews only keep for a day or so in the fridge before getting soggy. This soup will not freeze.

Old Orchard Juice

Old Orchard Juice which was previously 100% juice now sells a line of juice that is mostly corn syrup. I used to just grab old orchard frozen juices without looking at them too much because they were all 100% juice. Now I'll have to pay attention. Just letting people know.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sichuan chile sauce

This spicy sauce is my staple for making stir fry. If you've had stir fry at my house, odds are this was the sauce. Chili and garlic sauce is in the Asian food isle of the supermarket. Add a little to any stir fry sauce to make it spicy. I doubled the original Sichuan sauce recipe because I didn't think it made enough. This recipe is from America's Test Kitchen.



6 T dry sherry (I used white wine because I don't keep sherry on hand)

4 T chicken broth

3 T soy sauce

2 T Asian sesame oil

2 T chili paste (I used more)

1 T cornstarch

½ tsp toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns (I used black pepper because I didn’t have Sichuan)

½ tsp sugar

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Add at the end of the stir fry.

Stir fry

Legend has it (which means I’m not sure this is true) that cooking in woks originated with Chinese soldiers. When they were on the warpath the would cook food in their helmets. That’s where we get woks from. They would gather brush to cook with. Any camper knows that brush burns hot and quickly. You think you have the campfire started, but it turns out the logs aren’t burning, only the brush. Since they cooked with brush, stir fry is cooked over a hot fire and quickly.

Fresh ginger and garlic are what make the stir fry. You can keep extra ginger in the freezer. If you don’t use fresh ginger and garlic, jarred garlic and jarred ginger can be substituted, but they are not as good. Powdered ginger from the spice rack cannot be substituted. It has a different flavor and is a completely different product.

(serves 4)
This is the formula that the cookbook uses for stir fry. They recommend using the ratio of 1 part protein to 2 parts vegetables. Use oil as needed to cook the vegetables and make sure the harder, longer-cooking vegetables go in the pan before the softer, quicker cooking vegetables go into the pan.

3/4 pound protein (beef, pork, chicken, seafood, tofu), cut into small even pieces
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp dry sherry or white wine
1 T minced fresh garlic (I usually use a garlic press)
1 T minced fresh ginger (I use a microplane zester)
2 T minced scallion, white parts only (or onion in a pinch)
2-3 T peanut or vegetable oil
1 ½ lbs vegetables, cut into small pieces and divided into batches by cooking times
½ c sauce

1. Toss the protein with the soy sauce and sherry (white wine) in a medium bowl. Combine the garlic, ginger, scallion, and 1 ½ tsp oil in a small bowl.
2. Heat 2 tsp oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet (or wok) over high heat until smoking. Add the protein (meat) and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up clumps, until well browned, 1 to 3 ½ minutes. Transfer the protein to a clean bowl.
3. Add 1 ½ tsp to 1 T oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the first batch of longer cooking vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, 1-5 minutes. Leaving the vegetables in the pan (or removing them if the pan will cool too much), heat another 1 ½ tsp to 1 T oil and add the faster cooking-vegetables. Cook until crisp-tender, 1-2 minutes.
4. Clear the center of the pan and add the garlic mixture. Cook, mashing the garlic mixture with the back of a spatula, until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Stir the garlic into the vegetables. Add the protein and toss to combine. Whisk the sauce to combine and add it to the skillet. Remove the pan from the heat and toss until all ingredients are well coated with sauce and sizzling hot. Serve immediately.

I Do most of the things like the recipe above. I use more veggies then the 2 to 1 ratio they recommend. I use a wok (because I own one) and don’t bother removing any meat or veggies along the way. I also use more sauce. I add the veggies one type at a time, adding more oil as needed. Then clear a space in the middle of my wok to add the garlic, ginger, scallion mix toward the end. (Step 4) In a traditional stir fry recipe, the garlic and ginger are added in the beginning. The garlic can sometimes burn and affect the stir fry. I almost always add nuts (cashews, walnuts, almonds) and chopped cilantro at the end.

Here is a basic veggie order:
Broccoli, carrots, celery, mushrooms, green pepper, pea pods, water chestnuts, nuts, bean sprouts

When to add the onions depends on how small they are cut. If cut in wedges, add the onions after the broccoli. If the onion is cut into rings or half moons, add after the celery.

See Sichuan Chile Sauce, Chinese Peanut Sauce, Oven Baked brown rice

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Whole wheat pita chips

I also make the pita chips on the grill using a flat grill pan (not mine in link). You can add a couple garlic cloves that have been pressed through a garlic press to the olive oil to make garlic chips. I like the Zyliss garlic press. This recipe is from America's Test Kitchen.

Whole Wheat Pita Chips

Yield enough for 2 cups of dip


4 8-inch whole wheat (or regular) pita breads, cut into wedges

1/4 c olive oil

1 tsp salt

1. Using a kitchen shears, cut around the outside of each pita bread to separate it into two rounds. Brush the rough (inside) side of each pita with oil and sprinkle with salt. Stack up all the pita rounds and cut the stack into six pieces. (Sixths)

2. Adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle and lower-middle position and heat oven to 350. Spread pita triangles smooth-side down over 2 rimmed baking sheets.

3. Bake the chips until they begin to crisp and brown lightly, about 6 minutes. Remove baking sheets from the oven and flip the chips so their smooth side is up. Return the baking sheets to the oven, reversing their positions from top to bottom, and continue to bake until the chips are fully toasted, about 6 minutes longer. Remove baking sheets from oven and cool the chips before serving.


Tzatziki is the yogurt dill sauce served with Gyros. To drain the yogurt, place a sieve over a bowl. Line the sieve with cheese cloth or coffee filters or a paper towel. Put the yogurt in the lined sieve and cover it with plastic wrap. Put this in the refrigerator overnight. If that makes not sense, see my video. Serve tzatziki with pita chips or on gyros. You may also be interested in my post on homemade yogurt.

As an interesting aside, I prefer tzatziki to tahini on falafels. I've always wondered why tahini was traditional. Turns out falafels are a food traditionally eaten during lent when Greeks don't eat meat or animal products. Tahini, a sesame paste, could be eaten during lent and tzatziki made from dairy could not. This recipe is from "The frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines."



32 oz container plain yogurt (not vanilla)

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and grated coarse

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 T olive oil

2 T red-wine vinegar

1 T minced fresh dill

White pepper to taste

Let the yogurt drain in a very fine sieve set over a bowl, covered and chilled, overnight. Squeeze the cucumbers to remove as much of the excess liquid as possible. I wrap the grated cucumber in a clean tea towel and squeeze. In a bowl stir together the ingredients and salt to taste. Serve with bread or crackers. Makes 2 cups.


Hummus is the bean dip you get at Greek restaurants. It is good as a dip for veggies or pita chips. It is also good as a vegetarian meat substitute in a veggie sandwich. Mashing the garlic and salt to a paste helps to distribute the garlic flavor throughout the Hummus. Tahini is a sesame seed butter made from sesame seeds in the same way that peanut butter is made from peanuts. Buy it from a place where you think they have good turnover because it can go rancid (like all things with nut oils). I'd look in the health food section of the supermarket or a heath food store. Tahini is the sauce usually served on a falafel. This recipe is from "The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines".



2 large garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/2 tsp salt

A 16 to 19 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

1/3 cup well stirred tahini (sesame seed paste)

2 T lemon juice

2 T olive oil

1 tsp ground cumin

3 T water

3 T minced fresh parsley leaves

In a food processor blend together garlic paste, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, oil, cumin, scraping down sides, until smooth. Add water, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste and pulse until just combined. Makes 2 cups.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Yogurt Chive Sauce

This sauce can be served as a dip to eat with tortilla chips or as a substitute for sour cream when served with Mexican food. This dip has the spice of the Tabasco and has the cooling effect of yogurt in the same bite. You may be interested in my post on homemade yogurt. This recipe comes from the "Mayo Clinic/Williams Senoma Cookbook'.



1 ½ cups plain yogurt (not vanilla)

¼ c chopped fresh chives

Tabasco to taste

¼ tsp salt

Chopped cilantro (optional)

Mix ingredients and serve with Mexican food or as a dip.

Chinese Peanut Sauce

This isn't a Thai peanut sauce with fish sauce in it. That is the style of peanut sauce people either love or really hate. This style is more universal. To my knowledge, everyone I've served it to has liked it. You can serve it as a veggie dip (I'm not a fan), or as your sauce on stir fry, or on a cold noodle salad. I use jarred garlic and chili puree in place of the cayenne and garlic. I always have this on hand anyway. I add a dash to any stir fry to make it a hotter Szechuan style. It's sold in the Asian foods section of the supermarket. This recipe comes from the Moosewood cookbook.



½ cup peanut butter (I use natural style, made of peanuts and salt)

½ c hot water

2 T soy sauce

2 tsp sugar

3 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp cider vinegar

1-2 T fresh minced cilantro

cayenne to taste

(I omitted garlic and cayenne and used garlic and chili puree)

Whisk all ingredients except cayenne together in a small bowl until uniformly mixed. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Let come to room temp before serving.

Noodle salad with peanut sauce

INGREDIENTS (off the top of my head)

Whole wheat (or regular) spaghetti or ramen noodles

been sprouts

cucumber, peeled, split lengthwise and seeded, then sliced


pea pods

thinly sliced carrot sticks


chopped peanuts


Wednesday, February 6, 2008


This recipe comes from Alton Brown. I highly recommend his cooking show Good Eats. He explains the science and the reasoning behind cooking techniques. Even if you don’t make the recipe he’s making on his show, you still come away with useful cooking information that you will use when you cook different recipes.

If you make these as written, they taste like good waffles and not whole wheat at all. If you use 1 ½ c whole wheat flour and ½ c all purpose flour, the taste like good whole wheat waffles, but not out of a health food store. Buttermilk is only 1 % fat (like skim milk) and keeps for 3 weeks. So, I recommend buying a pint and keeping it in your fridge. That way sometime in the next three weeks you can make waffles or muffins or cornbread or coleslaw or buttermilk dressing. Serve the waffles with grade B maple syrup or ginger berry compote.

9-19-I added 1 T of cornmeal to add texture. It was especially good with the 3/4 whole wheat waffles. Next Time I'll try 2 T cornmeal.


Yield 7 1/2 waffles


1 c whole wheat flour

1 c all purpose flour

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

3 T sugar

1 T cornmeal (optional) *Try 2 T Lora*

3 eggs

2 T butter, melted

1 pint (2 c ) buttermilk

pam, for waffle iron

Preheat waffle iron as directed.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cornmeal. In another bowl whisk together eggs and melted butter. Then, whisk in the buttermilk. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until . Let it rest 5 minutes.

Cook the waffles according to the directions for your waffle iron. Serve immediately, or keep warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve. If you plan on freezing leftovers, cool on a cooling rack before freezing. You can reheat the frozen waffles in the toaster.

For my waffle iron I use 3/4 c batter and cook for 5 minutes. Julie's waffle iron takes 1 cup batter cooked for 5 minutes for a total of 5 waffles.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mini Meatballs and recipes

Make a big batch of these mini meatballs and then keep them in the freezer. Then you can pull them out to whip up any of these recipes. I usually make the meatball pita pizza or the meatball hero. The meatball hero is great and has veggies. I make a similar spaghetti sauce, but not this exact recipe. I omit the bacon from the meatballs and use 97 % lean hamburger. This makes for some healthy quick meals. Oh, and making 40 meatballs per pound sounds like a huge chore, but surprisingly, it takes no time at all. This recipe comes from Everyday Foods.


yield 40


1 lb lean ground beef

2 slices bacon, finely chopped (2 oz)(optional)

1/4 c chopped fresh parsley

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 T grated Parmesan cheese

1 T plain dried breadcrumbs

1 large egg

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp coarse salt

1/4 tsp ground pepper

1. In a large bowl, combine beef, bacon, parsley, garlic, cheese, breadcrumbs, egg, nutmeg, ½ tsp salt and 1/4 tsp ground pepper. Shape mixture into 40 meatballs. 2 tsp each. I divide the mixture into fourths and then make ten from each quarter.

2. Arrange meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet or on two large plates. (I freeze on waxed paper) Freeze for one hour. Transfer into a Ziploc bag. Use strait from the freezer for recipes.


serves 4


1 T olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes in puree

1 can (28oz) crushed tomatoes



12 oz spaghetti

28 frozen meatballs (7 per person)

grated Parmesan cheese, optional

I’d add suggest possibly adding any of the following. (I'm guessing on amounts)

1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (added with garlic and onion), 1 T fresh basil, 1/8 to 1/4 c fresh parsley, 1 tsp sugar, dash balsamic vinegar, 1/4 c wine, and more garlic.

You can also add green peppers, mushrooms or other veggies.

1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Break up whole tomatoes with your hands, then add to the pan along with crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook until thickened, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti until al dente, according to package directions. Drain.

3. Add meatballs to sauce and simmer until cooked through, about 10 minutes. ( I brown them on 3 “sides” in a separate pan and then add to sauce. (About 3 c sauce if using canned)

4. Toss with pasta and serve with Parmesan cheese.

I added a few extra veggies to the sandwich in the picture.


serves 2


1 onion, halved (through the root end)and sliced

1 yellow bell pepper (I use green) ,cut into 1/2-inch wide strips

1 zucchini, halved crosswise and lengthwise and then cut into 1/2-inch wide strips

1 T olive oil

1/4 tsp oregano (1 use more)

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

coarse salt

10 frozen meatballs (5 per serving)

2 hero rolls, split

1. Preheat oven to 400. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss onion, bell pepper, and zucchini with oil and oregano. Bake 15 minutes.

2. Sprinkle vegetables with vinegar and season with salt; toss to coat. Push vegetables to one side of the pan, place meatballs on the other end.

3. Bake until meatballs are cooked through and vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. (Meatballs took me more in my cruddy oven) Serve in rolls. (I take out some bread so it closes easier)


serves 4


2 tsp olive oil

2 thinly sliced garlic cloves

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 bunch (12oz) kale, stemmed and thinly sliced (you can substitute a box of frozen spinach added directly to the soup instead. Substituting other fresh greens for the kale should work also)

1 can (19 oz) cannellini beans (or other white beans), drained and rinsed

2 cans (14.5 oz) reduced sodium chicken broth

2 c water

20 frozen mini meatballs

coarse salt

1. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tsp olive oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic, and cook 30 seconds. Add red pepper flakes and kale; cook until wilted, 3 minutes.

2. Add broth, beans, and water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer.

3. Add meatballs. Cover; simmer until meatballs are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Season with coarse salt.


serves 2


2 whole wheat pitas (6-inch)

1 c (4 oz) mozzarella cheese

1/4 c thinly sliced red onion

6 thin slices plumb tomato

8 frozen mini meatballs (4 each)

1. Preheat oven to 400. Place pitas on a baking sheet. Divide cheese, onion, and tomato between pitas. Top with meatballs, pressing them, so they don’t roll off.

2. Bake until meatballs are cooked through, cheese melted, and pitas are crisp, about 20 minutes. (this took me much longer) Serve immediately.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Broiled Asparagus

Asparagus is not expensive when it is in season from mid April to mid June. I like to grill it on a flat grill pan (not mine in link). But when it's not warm enough, this is an easy way to cook it. This isn't the best way to cook asparagus, but its so simple. An easy meal is to serve this with broiled steak. I believe medium rare steak takes 5 minutes per side, so you can cook both steak and asparagus at the same time (if they fit in your oven), turning the steak when you turn the asparagus. This recipe come from America's Test Kitchen.


Serves 4 to 6

Choose asparagus spears no thicker then 5/8 inch in diameter for this recipe.


2 lbs thin asparagus spears, tough ends snapped off

1 T extra virgin olive oil

salt and ground black pepper

1. Adjust the oven rack to the uppermost position ( about 4 inches from the heating element) and heat the broiler. Toss the asparagus with the oil and salt and pepper to taste on a heave rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the spears in a single layer on the baking sheet.

2. Broil the asparagus 4 to 5 minutes, shake the pan to turn the spears, and broil another 4 to 5 minutes until they are tender and lightly browned. Transfer the asparagus to a serving platter and serve hot or warm.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

This is another quick easy recipe. I changed the original 2 T cream to 2 T milk. The recipe also says to mash with a potato masher, but I think the texture is much better with an immersion blender. You should try to cut the sweet potatoes the same thickness so they cook evenly. It's easier to slice sweet potatoes then it is to dice them. However, if you're like me and forget to actually read the recipe and dice the sweet potatoes, that will still work. I like to slice the sweet potatoes with a mandoline (not mine in link). This recipe come from America's Test Kitchen.


Serves 4


4 T butter (½ stick), cut into 4 pieces

2 T milk

½ tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

2 lbs sweet potatoes (about 2 large or 3 medium-small potatoes), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices.

Pinch ground black pepper

1. Combine the butter, milk, salt, sugar, and sweet potatoes in a 3 to 4-quart saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes fall apart when poked with a fork, 35 to 45 minutes.

2. Off the heat, mash the sweet potatoes with an immersion blender. Stir in the pepper and serve immediately.

Microwave Brownies

This is a scary recipe, because you can have brownies in about 25 minutes from now. That's scary knowledge for me to know I can almost instantly have brownies at any time. These aren't the worlds best brownies, but they are very good and did I mention you can have them in about 25 minutes. I suggest serving them with ice cream and Edna's chocolate sauce, which you can make while the brownies are in the microwave. I usually make the frosted version of these brownies. This recipe is from America's Test Kitchen.


For mocha brownies, a 1T instant espresso powder to the batter. For nut brownies, add ½ c toasted, chopped walnuts to the batter along with the other dry ingredients. The cookbook claims you must eat these brownies warm because the turn rock hard after they cool. I haven’t found that to be true. I like them better cool.


3 large eggs

1 ½ c (10 ½ oz) sugar

8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted (in microwave)

3/4 c (3 3/4 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 c (4 oz) cocoa powder

1/8 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ c semisweet chocolate morsels

1. Spray an 8 by 8-inch microwave safe baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Whisk together the eggs and sugar in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in the melted and cooled butter. Stir in the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Stir in the vanilla and chocolate morsels. With a spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

3. Microwave on high until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 5 to 7 minutes. You can tell the brownies need more time if, when the pan is tilted, the brownies slouch to the lower side. Cool the brownies for 10 minutes, cut into squares, and serve warm.

Note: On a episode of America's Test Kitchen they said for chewy brownies to use 70% unsaturated fat and 30% saturated fat. So maybe next time use oil and butter.


Follow the recipe for Microwave Brownies, microwaving them for only 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the microwave and evenly sprinkle ½ c semisweet chocolate morsels over the top of the brownies. Return the pan to the microwave and cook for an addition 1 to 3 minutes (or until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean). Remove the pan from the microwave and, using the back of a spoon, spread the softened chocolate morsels (they will not melt in the microwave) over the top of the brownies. Cool and cut into squares as directed.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Eva's Pistachio Dessert

Mmmmm....For years, this was my middle of the summer birthday cake made by my Grandma Eva. My favorite since childhood. When I make this again, I'll probably substitute real whipped cream for the chemical concoction of cool whip. I'd suggest placing your whipped cream in a coffee filter lined strainer that is put over a bowl. Place saran wrap over the top and place it in the fridge for a few hours. This causes some of the excess moisture (whey) to be drained out. The whipped cream is now more stable and won't collapse as easily. If that makes no sense, see my video. You can (and should) double this recipe and use an 8 x 12 inch (or whatever the actual size of those cake pans are) cake pan.



1 cup flour

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup pecans

8 oz cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

9 oz container cool whip

1 package pistachio pudding

1 package coconut cream pudding

Cut together the flour, butter and pecans. Press into the bottom of a square cake pan. Bake 15 minutes at 350. Cool.

With a mixer, cream cream cheese with powdered sugar. Fold in half of the cool whip. Spread over the cooled crumb mixture.

Spread prepared pistachio pudding over cream mixture, followed by prepared coconut pudding. Spread rest of cool whip over these layers. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. (Toast coconut in the oven) Store in the refrigerator.

Ginger Chicken with Peaches and Onions

This is one of my mother's favorites. She's a huge fan of fruit in her food. People tend to have strong opinions either way about fruit in their food. This is a recipe from Every Day Foods which is a cooking show on PBS and a magazine from the Martha Stewart family of magazines. Everyday foods cooking philosophy is to cook with whole food and make simple recipes. That will appeal to many moms. Their recipes are hit and miss, but I like this one. Besides being easy, the ingredients for this recipe can be kept in the freezer and pulled out on one of those "what am I going to make" days. Although my mom would disagree, I'd file this recipe under "really good" rather then "spectacular". Serve this with oven baked brown rice and sesame roasted green beans.

Ginger Chicken with Peaches and Onions

Serves 4


1 bag (1 lb) frozen peaches, not thawed

2 red onions, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I usually use yellow)

coarse salt and ground pepper

2 T grated ginger

2 T soy sauce

1 T toasted sesame oil

1/4 to ½ tsp red pepper flakes

4 bone in chicken breast halves (10-12 oz each), (I use thighs because I like dark meat)

cooked brown rice for serving

1. Preheat oven to 450. Spray baking sheet with Pam. Place peaches and onions on a large rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes; toss to coat.

2. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Arrange chicken skin side up among peaches and onions.

3. Roast until chicken is opaque throughout. , 25-30 minutes . Serve with rice. (Fully cooked is 180 to 185 they say take out at 160. I cook the chicken 5-10 extra minutes until the temperature is 170. The temperature of the chicken will rise about 10 degrees as it rests for about 5 minutes)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Chili Curry grilled pork chops

I love this spice rub for pork chops. If you don't want to brine you pork chops, salt the chop directly and then add the rub. In the 80's pork got a well deserved bad rap for being full of saturated fat. After that they bred pork to be much leaner. The fat that was in pork used to keep it moist while you cooked it. Now it is hard to cook pork without it ending up dry and tough. One way to prevent pork drying out is to brine it. Brining it helps to flavor the meat and to keep it moist. Geeks can click here for the Wikipedia definition and explanation of what happens chemically. This recipe is from America's Test Kitchen.



3/4 C kosher salt or 6 T table salt

6 T sugar

3 quarts water

4 bone-in rib loin pork chops or center-cut loin chops, each 1 ½ inches thick ( about 3 lbs total)

1 recipe spice rub or ground black pepper

1. Dissolve salt and sugar in 3 quarts cold water in 2-gallon zipper-lock plastic bags. Add chops and seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible. (Alternatively, divide brine and chops evenly between two 1 gallon zip lock bags.) Refrigerate, turning bag once until fully seasoned, about 1 hour. Remove chops from brine and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Coat chops completely with spice rub or season generously with pepper.

3. Cook chops, uncovered, over direct heat 3 to 4 minutes per side. Move chops to indirect heat. Cover and cook, turning once, until instant read thermometer registers 135 degrees, 7 to 9 minutes longer. Transfer chops to platter, tent loosely with tin foil, and let rest 5 minutes. Internal temp should rise to 145 degrees. Serve immediately.


makes 1/4 cup, enough for 4 thick pork chops or more regular (maybe 8?)

1 T ground cumin

1 T chili powder

1 T curry powder (maybe a little less)

1 tsp ground black pepper

2 tsp brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in small bowl.

Skillet-roasted potatoes

I usually make the skillet-roasted potatoes or the skillet-roasted potatoes with chili and cumin. Don't stir constantly or you won't get the really browned sides of the potatoes that makes this recipe so good. Serve skillet-roasted potatoes with chili and cumin with breakfast burritos. This recipe is from America's Test Kitchen.



1 ½ lbs small or medium red bliss potatoes, scrubbed and unpeeled

2 T olive oil (less)

2/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1. If using small potatoes (1 ½ - to 2-inch diameter), half each potato. If using medium potatoes (2- to 3-inch diameter), quarter each potato to create 3/4-to 1-inch chunks. Rinse potatoes in cold water and drain well; spread on clean kitchen towel and thoroughly pat dry.

2. Heat oil in heavy-bottomed 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add potatoes cut side down in a single layer;cook, without stirring, until golden brown (oil should sizzle but not smoke), 5 to 7 minutes. Using tongs, turn potatoes skin side down if using halved small potatoes, or second cut side if using quartered medium potatoes; cook, without stirring, until deep golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes longer. Stir potatoes, then redistribute in a single layer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until potatoes are tender (paring knife can be inserted into potatoes with no resistance, 6 to 9 minutes.

3. When potatoes are tender, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss or stir gently to combine; serve immediately.


Combine 1 ½ tsp minced garlic or pressed garlic and 2 tsp fresh minced rosemary in a small bowl. Follow recipe for skillet-roasted potatoes; after seasoning potatoes with salt and pepper in step 3, clear center of skillet and add garlic and rosemary mixture. Cook over medium heat, mashing with heatproof rubber spatula, until fragrant, about 45 seconds, then stir the mixture into potatoes.


Combine 2 tsp grated lemon zest and 2 T minced fresh chives in small bowl. Follow the recipe for skillet-roasted potatoes with salt and pepper in step 3, stir in lemon zest and chives into potatoes.


Stir together 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp sweet paprika, ½ tsp ground cumin, and 1/4 tsp cayenne in a small bowl. Follow recipe for skillet roasted potatoes, substituting chili mixture for black pepper and cooking seasoned potatoes over medium-low heat until spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds.