Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Spreadable Roasted Eggplant Goodness

Cast of Characters:
  • 1 medium/large eggplant
  • 1/2 red onion, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 sea salt kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut the eggplant and onion into 1-inch cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, pepper flakes, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft, tossing occasionally during cooking.
  3.  Cool slightly.
  4. Place the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the tomato paste, and pulse 3 or 4 times to blend. Taste for salt and pepper.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Prosciutto Wrap ~ "Can life get better? I submit it can NOT!"

If you are like me and overly ambitious in the gardening area, here's a little recipe that is an alternative to all that pesto you are making with the mounds of basil that you are harvesting. It's a great picnic food to - easy to make, easy to carry, easy to eat!  Try one A.S.A.P. You will thank me. I promise.

I just told Mr. Amazing Man that when we move, we need to move somewhere that basil will grow year-round.  I am in love with fresh basil. Amen.

 Here's what you need to make the magic happen:
  • Prosciutto
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Those whole wheat Roll-Up things from Costco (I am sure a whole wheat tortilla would do in a pinch)
  • Fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper

Slice the tomatoes nice and thin. (Sadly, these ones are from the store. Even more sadly, the deer around here ate my perfectly ripe ones the other night. I was not happy. But I am very happy with this tomato knife/Christmas present from King Arthur Flour. Who knew a knife could make me so happy?)

P.S. Fresh tomatoes and fresh basil should get married. That is all I have to say about that.

Then take one of these fantastic whole wheat roll-ups from Costco. (Ignore all the stuff about it being healthy. Just use them because they taste good. The health benefits are secondary...)

Then spread on about 1/4 cup of ricotta cheese.  Or more if you are like me and love ricotta cheese.

Chase husband away with stern looks so that he will quit stealing the prosciutto you have so carefully peeled away. Then layer some tasty prosciutto ham onto the wrap. 

Here comes my favorite part: sweet basil!!! Put more or less in there, depending on your own taste. I have tried this wrap with cinnamon basil and Thai basil and sweet basil makes the best pairing with the other ingredients.

Oh, sweet mystery of life, I have found you (again)! Slap some fresh tomatoes onto the wrap...

Then salt and pepper that baby to taste. Starting at one of the short ends, roll the wrap up and slice on a diagonal. I used the tomato knife because I am to lazy/efficient to wash two knives! In the words of my favorite stand up comedian, "I can’t be opening and closing all kinds of jars... cleaning, who KNOWS how many knives!?"!!!"

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming of pesto 101.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Great Coffee Cake Flop of '10

I fancy myself to be quite accomplished in the kitchen, rarely turning out something that is not beautiful to look at and tasty to eat. (Thanks Mom for letting me make messes in your kitchen all those years growing up!)

The last true culinary disaster was the Flaming Roll Incident of '97 (not counting the Curry Catastrophe of '05 - that one wasn't my fault!). I had been broiling some chicken and needed to pop the rolls in the oven. I forgot to turn the oven down. Ten minutes later, there was smoke billowing from my oven, smoke detectors screaming at me, and rolls that were literally flaming on top and gooey on the bottom.

It was hilarious once I got the flames put out. Not too funny until then.

Tonight I tried a new recipe from The Pioneer Woman's website, "The Best Coffee Cake. Ever." Every single recipe I have tried from her site has been a huge hit with the men in my family and I was fully expecting to have the same level achievement with this recipe. 

Let's just say my 13 year string of success has been broken.

In the recipe, Rhee says you can use a smaller pan to make "thicker slices." I used the 8 x 11 pan and this is what I ended up with.  (Trust me, it was even more comical in real life! Tasty, but comical)

Don't get me wrong - it still tasted incredible (as evidenced by the fact the men around here inhaled half of it before it had the chance to even cool down - I am sure they will polish off the rest of it tomorrow).  Let's face it - anything with that much butter and sugar in it is going to be tasty!!! Fortunately, my super-spidey baking sense told me that there might be "some" overflow and so I put the coffee cake on a cookie sheet lined with a silpat mat. Ha. Some overflow, eh?

I am so glad I did. And so is my oven.

Smooches and happy eats to all of you -


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Broccoli and Chicken Casserole

2 packages frozen broccoli spears
4 chicken breasts, cooked & diced into large pieces
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can chicken broth
1/2 c. mayo
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 c. grated cheddar cheese
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. 
  • Spray 9x13 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a bowl, mix cream of chicken soup with 3/4 quarter of the can of chicken broth. Stir in mayo and lemon juice.
  • With remaining 1/4 can of chicken brother, steam the broccoli spears until barely tender (DO NOT overcook!). Drain.
  • Layer ingredients to the pan in the following order:
    • Broccoli
    • Chicken pieces
    • Sauce mixture
    • Grated cheese
    • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese
  • Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes. 

Oatmeal Fudge Cookies (AKA "Goat Doo Doo")

So here's a family recipe that should really take us all back - Goat Doo Doo. 

Before I went looking for the recipe I had no idea that (a) they were really called Oatmeal Fudge Cookies and (b) Grandma June submitted this recipe to a cookbook at some point. When I am feeling better, I will scan in the page from the book so you can all see it! One of the things I love about it is the hand-scrawled words, "Goat doo-doo" underneath the recipe title.

Just for kicks, here's a story to go along with this recipe:

One time summer during cherry season when I was 12 or 13, I really, really, really wanted to make these cookies. Unfortunately, it was a time period when the parents were on one of their NO SUGAR IN THE HOUSE kicks.  So I went and borrowed 2 cups of sugar from the Leemasters across the street and the chocolate chips from the Johnson's next door.

When Mom got home and found out that I had borrowed the sugar, she was so upset with me she made can quarts of cherries at 10 cents a quart until I had earned enough money to buy a 10 lb. bag of sugar to repay the Leemasters.  I am not sure I learned any kind of lesson, other than how to bottle cherries very efficiently.  I still borrowed sugar from the neighbors to make forbidden foods while the parents were away. I guess I can share that secret now - all of you know I did it because you would eat what I would make but I have a feeling that at this point Mom won't make me bottle cherries anymore.

So without further delay, here's the recipe:

Goat Doo-Doo

In a heavy sauce pan mix:
  • 2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. evaporated milk
  • 1/2 c. butter
Boil for one minute, then pour over:
  • 1 1/2 c. quick oats
  • 1 c. chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Mix well. Drop from teaspoon onto wax paper. Let cool. Makes about 4 dozen. 

Red Lentil Spaghetti Sauce

1 c. chopped onion
2 green peppers, diced
12 oz. sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. oil
1 tsp. pepper
2 T. + 1 tsp. oregano
1 T. parsley
1 T. + 2 tsp. basil
4 c. tomato puree
1 c. tomato paste
4 c. water
2 c. red lentils, rinsed
2 T. Parmesan cheese

  • In bottom of large dutch oven, saute onions, garlic, green peppers, and mushrooms in oil until tender
  • Add seasonings, tomato puree and paste, lentils, water, and Parmesan cheese
  • Simmer on low heat for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally (keep pot uncovered)
  • Serve over hot pasta topped with more Parmesan cheese. 
  • Makes about 10 servings
I love lentils because you can sneak them into so many things and the family never knows.  Here's another one of those recipes that the boys never know is meat free and I don't volunteer the information!  Am I a bad mom or what?  They gobble it up and I sit back, satisfied that my family is eating some healthy stuff for dinner. 

Happy eats -


    Moist Chocolate-Lentil Cake

    2 c. boiling water
    1/4 tsp salt
    2/3 c. washed lentils
    1 1/2 c. sugar
    1 c. oil
    4 large eggs
    1 tsp. vanilla
    2 c. cake flour
    1/4 c. cocoa
    1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt

    • Add lentils and salt to boiling water.  Cover and simmer for 40 minutes. 
    • Drain lentils, reserving liquid.  
    • Add 1/4 c. of liquid back to lentils. Make puree in blender or food processor.
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    • Grease and flour a 9x13 pan.
    • Mix sugar, oil, eggs and beat well for 2 minutes.
    • Add vanilla and pureed lentils to creamed mixture.
    • Sift flour, cocoa, salt, and soda and then add to creamed mixture. Beat for an additional 2 minutes.
    • Pour into prepared cake pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
    • Cool and then frost with favorite frosting!
    Sssshhhhh - this cake is SO delicious your kids will never know there are lentils tucked away in there!  You can reduce the fat by substituting 1/2 c. applesauce for 1/2 c. of the oil as well. It doesn't stay as moist for as long but I have found it never sticks around long enough to matter. 

    Happy eats -


      Thursday, April 1, 2010

      Family Recipes ~ The Easiest One Ever

      I thought I would start with the simple and easy recipes first.

      Now all two of my readers might be wondering, "What does a stick of butter with a finger swipe out of it have to do with family recipes*?" However, if either of you grew up in my house, you know exactly what it has to do with family recipes.

      You see, my former-father was notorious for eating butter. By the spoonful, the fingerful, the what-ever-was-convenient-ful. Just plain butter. Not butter on toast. Or butter melted over veggies or potatoes.  Or butter as part of another recipe. Just butter, straight up. Certainly I had my own gastronomic idiosyncrasies, but this is one Family Recipe I can proudly admit that I have never tried.

      I think this recipe is so easy it speaks for itself so I won't bother including instructions.

      Just be on the look out for Scalloped Potatoes in the next day or two. My gorgeous sis Melynie requested that recipe way back in January and I fully intended to put it together for her birthday at the end of that month but here it is...April.  Can I blame it on this pregnancy? Has that excuse worn thin yet? At any rate, I am excited and pleased to be able to do it for her, even if it is a very belated birthday present.

      Smooches -


      * As further evidence that genetics do in fact play a role in an individual's behavior, this picture is actually one that was taken after The Professor helped himself to some butter I had sitting on the counter getting soft for another recipe. When I asked him about it, he declared that he couldn't help himself because it was so good! Remember, this is a child who has never met his biological grandfather and so there is no way he learned his love of butter by watching other people eat it. Plain.

      Sunday, January 24, 2010

      Pico de Gallo (or A Party for Your Mouth)

      This is another one of those recipes that I make frequently and keep on hand because it tastes so darn good on just about everything. Just between you and I, I like it so much that sometimes I just put it in a bowl and eat it like ice cream. 

      Cast of Characters: 
      6 medium tomatoes
      1 medium white onion
      1/4 cup fresh cilantro
      1/4 c. lime juice
      1or 2 fresh jalapeno peppers
      1 clove garlic

      Dice tomatoes and onion. Finely chop cilantro. Seed and mince peppers. Peel and dice the garlic, then sprinkle on some salt. Using a large knife blade, mash the garlic & salt into a paste. Put all ingredients (including lime juice) in a bowl & stir well.  Let sit for 15-20 minutes before serving so flavors have a chance to get to know each other.

      Saturday, January 23, 2010

      Fish for Tacos

      Cast of Characters:

      1 lb. fresh white flaky fish fillets (tilapia or mahi mahi works well)
      1 c. flour
      1 tsp. salt
      ½ t. pepper
      ½ t. chipotle powder
      2 eggs
      2 T. water
      1 1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
      Canola oil


      In a shallow dish, mix flour, salt, pepper, and chipotle powder together. In another shallow dish, whisk eggs and water together.  In a third shallow dish, spread bread crumbs out evenly.
      • Preheat canola oil in large skillet while you bread the fish fillets.
      • Dredge fish fillets in flour, then egg mixture, and then coat with panko bread crumbs.
      • Cook in hot skillet until brown on both sides.
      • Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels.


      Simple Fish Tacos

      "Oh, sweet mystery of life at last I've found you!"

      No, seriously.  They are that good.

      So, in short, here's the cast of characters:


      Cook fish as desired.  I use breaded fish fillets - naked grilled fish is equally good. My SIL recently admitted to using store-bought pre-cooked, breaded tilapia fillets. She claims they are just as good as the homemade kind but I haven't tried it so I can't vouch for her. (Click here for my recipe for the breaded fish fillets).

      While fish is cooking:

      Thinly slice cabbage.

      Thinly slice red onion. The thinner the better. These aren't too thin - it's kind of hard to cut onions and operate a camera at the same time.

      Chop cilantro. (picture to come) Cut lime wedges. (picture to come)

      Steam two corn tortillas (I usually do it in the microwave) and stack them on top of each other. Then slather them with Mayonesa. You don't have to use as much as I do -  I am trying to gain back some of the 36 lbs I lost in the first 20 weeks of this pregnancy. At least that's my excuse for now.

      Put some cooked fish on there. I like to break mine into pieces, Mr. Amazing Man likes to keep his in "logs."  I don't know...fish "logs" just doesn't sound good to me. Why can't he call them "sticks" instead?

      Toss on some of that thinly sliced cabbage and red onion.  Don't ask me why it has to be a red onion, but it just tastes better that way. Trust me.

      Spoon on a bit of fresh salsa if you want. Some fish taco purists will eschew this step, but hey - it is a great way to up the veggie intake for the day.

      Sprinkle on some chopped cilantro.

      Top with a generous squeeze of lime.

      Enjoy! But first a final word about this gift from the heavens:

      Sure, you can make your own white sauce, but why would you when you can just use this?  Trust me, this stuff gets a five-star rating for ease of use and taste.  For those on the west side of the Rockies, you can find it sold as "Best Foods Mayonesa" in nearly every grocery store. For those of us on the east side of the Rockies, it's a bit trickier to find but Wal-Mart usually carries it - just look for it on the bottom shelf in the mayo section. 

      If you are unfortunate enough to not be able to find it (ahem, my friends in the frozen north), you can fudge a bit and make your own.  Just use some regular mayo, mix in a generous amount of lime juice and a bit of chipotle powder.  But if you can find this bad boy, buy it, use it, and savor the south-of-the-border goodness.

      Just don't put it on your son's hot dogs. He won't think it is funny. Also, don't use it in a chocolate cake recipe. Lime-flavored mayo doesn't pair well with the other ingredients. Ask me how I know.