Sunday, October 30, 2011

GRAPE ICE CREAM SODA

Make the kids a special drink by putting 1 or 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream in a tall glass.  Pour chilled grape soda over the ice cream.  Serve with a thick straw.

Note:  This also works great with Orange soda, Big Red soda, Strawberry Soda, or Root Beer for a root beer float.  These drinks are great for children's parties, when the kids want a special drink, or for holiday festivities.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

SPARKLING ORANGE ALMOND PUNCH

1 can (6-oz) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
2 cups cold water
1 bottle (1-oz) almond extract
2 (2-liter) bottles ginger ale, chill
2 quarts orange sherbet, softened
1 orange, sliced thin, for garnish
Maraschino cherries, for garnish

Combine lemonade concentrate, water, and almond extract in a pitcher or bowl.  Stir well then refrigerate until serving time.

Put scoops of the sherbet (using all) into a large punch bowl.  Add the chilled lemonade mixture to the punch bowl.  Slowly add the ginger ale; stir gently.

For a pretty presentation, float the orange slices and Maraschino cherries on top.

Yield: Approximately 6 1/2 quarts

Friday, October 28, 2011

QUICK AND EASY CHICKEN POT PIE

1 pkg (15-oz) refrigerated pie crust
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 -3 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken*
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Line a deep-dish 9-inch pie pan with a sheet of the pie crust; set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook a couple minutes until tender.  Add the flour, salt, and pepper; stir until well blended.  Gradually stir in the broth and milk, cooking while stirring until bubbly and thickened.

Add the chicken and mixed vegetables; mix well.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Spoon the mixture into the crust lined pie pan.  Top with the second crust, seal edges tightly and flute as desired.  Cut slits for steam escape in the top crust.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 425 degrees until the crust is golden brown.  If edges start to get too brown, cover edge with foil strips.


Let stand 5 minutes before cutting to serve.

Yield: 6 servings

*Turkey may be substituted.  This is a great way to use up leftover holiday turkey!

SPARKLING STRAWBERRY LEMONADE WITH OR WITHOUT ALCOHOL

3 cups quarted fresh strawberries
1 cup cold water
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 (6-oz) can frozen lemonade concentrate, undiluted
2 cups chilled sparkling water or Champagne, if preferred

In a blender combine the strawberries, cup of cold water, and sugar; process until smooth.  Combine the strawberry puree and lemonade concentrate in a pitcher, stirring until the lemonade dissolves.  Add the sparkling water and serve over ice.  Garnish with a fresh mint sprig or a lemon slice, if desired.


CHILI CHEESE SPIRALS

Note: These spirals go together in minutes.  They do, however, need to chill for an hour before serving.

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 can (4-oz) sliced green chiles
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 can (2.25-oz) chopped ripe olives, drained
4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1 cup salsa of your choice

In a medium bowl combine the cream cheese, shredded cheese, chiles, green onions, bell pepper, and chopped onions.  Spread a half cup of the cheese mixture over each tortilla and roll up.  Wrap each roll tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Remove from refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap.  Slice each roll into 6 even pieces.  Serve with the salsa for dipping.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE

1 lb lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (15-oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (8-oz) tomato sauce
4 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
8-oz thin whole-wheat spaghetti
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet over medium heat cook the ground beef and onion until the beef is crumbled and browned; drain well in a colander.  Wipe skillet out with a paper towel and return beef and onion to the pan.  Stir in the undrained tomatoes and the tomato sauce.  Add the bay leaves, Italian seasoning and the Worcestershire sauce.  Cover skillet and simmer about 25 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.  Discard bay leaves before serving.

Meanwhile cook the spaghetti according to the package directions.


To serve, spoon the sauce over the hot spaghetti and sprinkle with the grated Parmesan.

Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

QUICK CHEESE BISCUITS

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 tbsp butter
2/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir in the cheese.  Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Using a fork, stir the milk into the flour mixture until a soft dough forms.  Caution:  Do not overmix the dough!

Drop the dough by heaping tablespoons, 1-inch apart, onto an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 450 degrees about 15 minutes or until the biscuits are firm to the touch.


Variation: To make biscuits for an Italian dinner, replace the Cheddar cheese with Parmesan cheese and add half a teaspoon of dried basil.

QUICK AND EASY VEGGIE SAUTE

2 medium zucchini squash
3 medium yellow squash
1 large onion
2 medium carrots
1 large green bell pepper
3 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary

Scrub the zucchini and yellow squashes and cut into 1/4-inch round slices.  Peel onion and cut into 1/4-inch slices.  Julienne the carrots and bell pepper.

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the squash, onion, bell pepper, carrots, salt, pepper, basil, thyme, and rosemary.  Cook, gently stirring constantly, until the veggies are tender, approximately 10 minutes.  Do not over-cook or veggies will be mushy.  Remove veggies from the skillet immediately using a slotted spoon for serving.

Monday, October 24, 2011

GINGERED CHOCOLATE FUDGE

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 can (5-oz) evaporated milk
2 tbsp butter
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows
2 tsp wasabi paste*
1 2/3 cups bittersweet chocolate chips**
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp minced crystalized ginger

Line a lightly greased 8-inch square pan with nonstick aluminum foil; set aside.

In a medium-size heavy-duty saucepan combine the sugar, evaporated milk, butter, and salt.  Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until boiling; boil 4 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove pan from the heat.  Add the miniature marshmallows, wasabi paste - if using, chocolate chips, and vanilla.  Using a wooden spoon, beat by hand until melted and smooth.  Spread the fudge into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle the crystalized ginger over the top of the fudge and press down lightly into the fudge.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.  Cut into squares.

Yield: 1 1/2 lbs

*The Wasabi paste is optional but will lend an Asian influence to the fudge, if used.
**Best if you use 60% cacao chocolate

Thursday, October 20, 2011

CHOCOLATE-CHIPOTLE FONDUE

4 (4-oz) sweet dark chocolate baking bars, chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup canned dulce de leche
1 tsp ground chipotle pepper powder
1/3 cup Kahlua (coffee liqueur)
For dipping: candied fruit, fresh fruit, marshmallows, angel food cake squares, pound cake cubes, etc
In a medium saucepan combine the baking chocolate, heavy cream, and dulce de leche; cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the chipotle powder and Kahlua. Pour the mixture into a fondue pot and place over the fondue burner. Serve with the dippers.
Yield: 3 1/4 cups

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

CHICKEN BREASTS WITH ORANGE PICANTE SAUCE

1 tbsp canola oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tbsp brown sugar
3/4 cup picante sauce
3 cups cooked brown rice or long grain rice

Heat the canola oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add the chicken and cook 10 minutes or until browned on both sides.  Remove chicken from skillet and keep warm. 

Reduce the heat under skillet to medium, add the garlic and cook, stirring for about a minute.  Add the orange juice, brown sugar, and picante sauce. Heat mixture to a boil and return the chicken to the skillet.  Cook over low heat for 5 minutes.

Serve the chicken and sauce with the hot cooked rice.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

PORK TENDERLOIN WITH COUSCOUS

1 (1 1/4-lb) pork tenderloin
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup apricot preserves
2 tbsp honey mustard
1 box (10-oz) couscous
1/2 cup diced dried apricots
1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds

Line broiler pan with aluminum foil.

Brush the tenderloin with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.   Place on the foil-covered broiler pan.  Broil 5 to 6-inches from the heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until browned, turning once.

Combine the preserves and honey mustard.  Spread the mixture over the tenderloin.  Continue broiling for another 10 minutes or longer until a meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 155 degrees.  Turn meat once during this time.  Remove from oven, cover with foil and let stand 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the couscous according to the package directions.  Fluff the couscous; stir in the diced apricots and sliced almonds. 

Slice the pork and serve with the couscous.

Yield: 4 servings

DRESSED UP POTATO CHIPS

1 bag (13-oz) thick wavy potato chips
1 bag (14-oz) caramels, unwrapped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 bag (12-oz) chocolate chips
2 tbsp butter-flavored shortening
1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted

Line wire racks with parchment paper.  Spread the whole chips in a single layer on the prepared wire racks.

In a heavy saucepan over low heat, combine the caramels and cream, stirring constantly until smooth; remove from the heat.  Drizzle caramel mixture over the chips.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips with the shortening and microwave on high setting for 1 1/2-2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute.  Allow mixture to cool slightly; drizzle the chocolate mixture over the caramel drizzled chips; sprinkle with the pecans. 

Allow to cool until the chocolate and caramel are set before serving.


Yield: Approximately 9 dozen dressy chips.

QUICK AND EASY NUTELLA MOUSSE CRUNCH

1 jar (13-oz) Nutella or other brand of hazelnut spread
1 carton (8-oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 pkg (6.88-oz) bittersweet chocolate-dipped biscotti (or your favorite biscotti)

Being sure to have removed the foil wrap, microwave the Nutella, uncovered, on High for 30 seconds.  Fold the Nutella into the thawed whipped topping in a large bowl; leave some chocolate streaks.  Using a cake decorating piping bag or a plastic bag with a hole cut in the corner, pipe the mixture into 6 individual parfait serving dishes.  Crush some biscotti and sprinkle over the tops for a crunch effect.  Serve the remaining biscotti with the mousse.

Monday, October 17, 2011

CRANBERRY RELISH SALAD

Note:  This is a quick to make salad.  It does, however, need to refrigerate for several hours to firm up.  It is a great salad to make a day ahead, making it perfect for the holidays.

1 pkg (3 oz) cherry gelatin
1 pkg (3 oz) raspberry gelatin
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 can (12 oz) lemon-lime soda
1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple with juice
2 pkgs (10 oz each) frozen cranberry-orange sauce

In a large bowl, dissolve the gelatins and sugar in the boiling water.  Add the soda, pineapple with the juice and the cranberry-orange sauce (relish).  Pour into an 11 x 7 x 2-inch dish and refrigerate overnight or until firm. 

Yield: 12 servings.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

QUICK AND EASY RED, WHITE, AND BLUE CHEESECAKE

NOTE:  This recipe goes together very quickly but does require chilling time.

1 Ready-Maid Graham Cracker Pie Crust
2 blocks (8-oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 tub (8-oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided
Fresh strawberry halves
Fresh blueberries

In a large mixing bowl beat the cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice on medium speed of electric mixer until well blended.  Gently stir in the lemon peel and 2 cups of the whipped topping.  Spoon mixture into the graham cracker crust.

Refrigerate cheesecake for at least 3 hours or until completely set.  Spoon the remaining whipped topping over the top and arrange the blueberries and strawberry halves to resemble the American Flag or decorate in another patriotic pattern.

Serves 6 to 8.

BEEFY BARLEY SOUP

1 lb boneless beef sirloin, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tbsp dried basil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp canola oil
1 cup quick-cooking barley
1 can (14 1/2-oz) diced tomatoes with basil, oregano, and garlic (Italian-style)
1 cup peeled baby carrots sliced diagonally
1 cup low-sodium beef broth (or vegetable broth, if you prefer)
3 cups water
2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley for garnish, if desired
In a pie plate combine the basil, flour, salt, and pepper; dredge meat to coat.
Heat the canola oil over medium-high heat in a 4 to 5-quart Dutch oven; add the steak and cook until browned all over. Stir in any remaining flour mixture and continue stirring to avoid scorching. Stir in the tomatoes, including the juice, barley, carrots, broth, and water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the carrots and meat are tender.
Yield: 4 servings
Note: Top each serving with a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley leaves for garnish, if desired.

Friday, October 14, 2011

HOMEMADE CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP

6 tbsp butter
1 lb fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 tbsp cornstarch
4 cups beef bouillon
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
1 1/2 cups cream

Melt butter in a large saucepan; add the onion and cook over medium heat until the onion is transluscent, stirring to keep from burning.  Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Blend the cornstarch into the mixture until well coated.  Slowly stir in the bouillon while stirring constantly.  Add the cream and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in the pepper and nutmeg.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

EASY TRI-BEAN SALAD

1 can cut green beans, drained
1 can wax beans, drained
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 small white onion, sliced and separated into rings
1/2 cup vinegar
3 tbsp water
1/2 cup sugar*
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 tbsp canola or extra-virgin olive oil
In a large bowl, combine the wax, kidney, and green beans; toss gently to combine well. Gently stir in the bell pepper, onion, and celery.
In a small bowl combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and pepper; stir briskly with a fork until the sugar is dissolved. Add the oil to the vinegar mixture. Stir briskly with fork to combine well (or use a small wire whisk).
Pour the dressing mix over the bean mixture, tossing with a large spoon to coat beans well. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill until serving time. Before serving, give beans a good stir to combine any dressing that has settled to the bottom.
*You can make this a DIABETIC friendly dish by substituting an equal amount of Splenda granulated for the sugar. Taste will be the same.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

SWEET POTATO OVEN FRIES

2 large sweet potatoes
2 tbsp olive or canola oil
1 tsp chili powder

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

Scrub, rinse, and towel dry the sweet potatoes; cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick strips.  Toss with the olive or canola oil and sprinkle with the chili powder.

Spread the potato strips out on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 18 to 20 minutes at 425 degrees.  Turn about halfway through the baking process.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

LAYERED CHEESE 'TEXAS FUDGE'

1/2 lb Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1/2 lb Colby Jack cheese, grated
3 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup picante sauce (heat of your choice!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the cheeses in a bowl.

Very lightly spray a 9 x 11-inch glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Layer half of the cheese mixture in the dish.

Combine the beaten eggs and the picante sauce; pour over the cheese in the dish.  Top with the remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly then cut into 1-inch pieces and serve on warmed tortilla chips.

Monday, October 10, 2011

FRESH TOMATO AND BASIL LINGUINE

8-oz uncooked linguine
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup fresh basil that's chopped fine
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook the linguine according to the package directions.

While linguine cooks, mix the tomatoes, olive oil, basil, garlic, salt and pepper together in a large bowl.  Add the cooked and drained linguine and the Parmesan cheeses to the tomato mixture and toss to coat.
Serve immediately while linguine is hot.

Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Yield: 4 1-cup servings.


QUICK AND EASY CHICKEN QUESADILLAS

8 (10-inch) flour tortillas
1 cup cream cheese
1 can (10-oz) chunk chicken breast, drained and flaked
1 cup shredded Mexican-blend cheese
1/3 cup diced red bell peppers
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
Toppings such as sour cream, guacamole, and salsa
nonstick cooking spray

Spread each tortilla with 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine chicken, cheese, bell peppers, and onion.  Evenly divide the chicken mixture overeach of 4 of the tortillas.  Top each with the remaining 4 tortillas.  Top with remaining tortillas.  Lightly spray both sides of each tortilla with nonstick cooking spray.

Place the quesadillas onto baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes or until golden  brown, turning once halfway through heating.  Cut quesadillas into wedges and serve with the toppings.

Yield: 8 appetizer servings or 4 whole quesadilla servings.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

ZUCCHINI-PINEAPPLE MUFFINS

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup canola oil
3 cups grated zucchini
1 cup crushed pineapple that's been drained
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line muffin cups with paper liners or spray cups with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
In a bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together; set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and oil together well. Add the zucchini and mix well. Add the flour mixture to the zucchini mixture and stir until smooth. Stir in the pineapple and the walnuts, if using. Pour batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


Friday, October 7, 2011

QUICK AND CRUNCHY COLESLAW

1 bag (1 lb) coleslaw mix*
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup slivered toasted almonds
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup Italian Salad Dressing

In a large bowl toss the coleslaw mix, onions, bell pepper, almonds and pepper together until mixed. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

Yield: approximately 10 servings

*Also works well using broccoli slaw instead of the coleslaw mix.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

STUFFED ZUCCHINI SQUASH

1/4 tsp salt
4 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
2 cups prepared cornbread stuffing from your favorite mix
1 can (7-oz) corn
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Lightly grease a cookie sheet with sides; set aside.

Fill a large saucepan or Dutch oven about halfway full of water; add salt and bring to a boil. Drop the 8 zucchini halves into the boiling water and boil 6 to 8 minutes until tender. Drain water from zucchini. Using a spoon, scrape the seeds out of the zucchini and invert on paper toweling to drain.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix the 2 cups of prepared stuffing, the corn, and mozzarella cheese together. Lay the zucchini halves out on the prepared cookie sheet; mound the stuffing onto the hollowed zucchini halves and bake at 400 degrees 10 minutes or until hot and the cheese melts.

Monday, October 3, 2011

WHIPPED SWEET POTATO BAKE

3 cans (15-oz each) sweet potatoes, drained
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 cups miniature marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly spray a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

Combine the sweet potatoes, butter, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a mixing bowl. Beat the mixture with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Spoon into the prepared baking dish. Top with the mini marshmallows. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through and the marshmallows are lightly browned.