Sunday, April 8, 2012

Coconut Cake

2 Packages of Duncan Hines White Cake Mix
In a large bowl mix both cake mixes together as directed on package.  Grease and flour 4 8-inch round cake pans and evenly distribute cake batter among the pans.  Bake according to package directions.

When completely cooled, horizontally split in half, only THREE of the cake rounds (to make 6 layers).  You will not need the fourth one for this recipe.

Coconut Frosting:
16 ounce sour cream
2 cups sugar
1 large package of angel flake coconut ( Plus additional to put on outside of cake)
1 - 9 ounce container of cool whip

Mix the first three ingredients with an electric mixer.  Using only 1/2 of the mixture, frost between the six layers.   Combine reserved 1/2 of the mixture with one 9 ounce tub of cool whip and spread the frosting over top and sides of cake.  Press additional coconut on top and sides of cake gently with fingers.

Note:  This cake is best when made 3 days in advance and put into the refrigerator till use.  Serve chilled. 

Remarks:  I had this cake at a book-club meeting at least 14 years ago and have not had the opportunity to make it myself.  I remember it to be fantastic.  I  finally live close to enough family to eat the whole thing as this cake is HUGE!  6 layers!   I will post later if it is as good as I remember.

Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

4 Large Portobello mushrooms, stem and gill removed
2 TBSP canola oil, for brushing mushrooms

1 cup pre-made pesto sauce (brand of choice)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes with oil
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Pre-heat  the grill to medium heat, 

Wipe the mushrooms with a damp paper towel to clean and dry well.  Do not rinse under water.  Brush the tops of the mushrooms with canola oil and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, mix together the pesto sauce, Parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes and the bread crumbs.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and mix thoroughly.  Divide the mixture evenly into the 4 mushroom caps and top with some mozzarella cheese.  Put on the grill and cook until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately.

Recipe: Food Network

Comments:  This was delicious! My family suggested that a slight balsamic reduction sauce drizzled over it would make it even better, but this recipe stands on its own without it.  These mushrooms make a beautiful presentation.  They are big, filling and hearty.  I think you could assemble them in the morning and cook later.   You could make them in a pre-heated 375 degree oven. If you like your cheese toasted, put them under the broiler before serving. Please note:  if you cook or broil these in the oven, use a pan with a lip around the edge as the oil from the cheese in the mushrooms will ooze out.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Shepherd's Pie


For the potatoes:

  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
I use left-over mashed potatoes from a previous dinner.

For the meat filling:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb, turkey, beef or ( I use left-over roast, cubed)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth ( or beef broth)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)


Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Place the half-and-half and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 35 seconds. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth.  
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the canola oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the meat of your choice, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.
Add the corn and peas to the lamb mixture and spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Cover in cheddar cheese (optional)  Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe with some modifications from Alton Brown, Food network

Comments:  I love to make roast because if I make one big enough I can get 3 different meals from it.  The first meal is  hot roast beef sandwiches and gravy, mashed potatoes and a vegetable.  The second meal is vegetable soup made from the crock-pot broth and 1/2 of the left-over meat.  The third meal, using the second half of the leftover meat is my favorite, Shepherd's Pie.  I have made many versions of this as I usually go to the Internet and combine a couple of recipes. I have modified Alton's recipe to reflect these combinations.  Try it, it offers a different flavor because of the thyme and rosemary and is such a comforting meal. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Mashed Potato Doughnuts

2 TBSP melted Crisco
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 3/4 cups sifted flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup mashed potatoes
Crisco for deep frying

Confectionery sugar

Bled Crisco, egg and milk.  In separate bowl mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Combine the two mixtures with the mashed potatoes and mix thoroughly.  Roll on lightly floured board and cut with floured doughnut cutter.  Fry in deep Crisco heated to 365 degrees, 3-5 minutes.  Drain on absorbent paper.  Dip in powdered sugar.

Comments:  I remember my mom making these doughnuts.  They were delicious!  I am posting this recipe for my Aunt Betty who also remembers them.  I will make these as soon as someone will stop by on a Saturday or Sunday morning to help me eat them.  If my memory serves me, they are best immediately after fried, covered in powdered sugar.   So, consider yourself invited.  Just let me know when you are coming so I can make sure I have mashed potatoes available.  I can't wait!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Very Favorite Asparagus Vinaigrette

1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup fruity olive oil
1 plum tomato, seeded and diced
salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds of asparagus, trimmed
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. For the vinaigrette, whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, and mustard together in a small bowl.  Add the garlic.  Gradually whisk in the olive oil, then stir in the diced tomato.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Let mellow at room temperature at least 30 minutes.

2.  Blanch, stem or microwave the asparagus just until crisp-tender, 3-5 minutes.  Arrange the hot asparagus on a serving platter and pour the vinaigrette over all.  Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.  Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving.  The asparagus may be served warm or at room temperature.  Makes 6-8 servings

Recipe from:  Cold Weather Cooking, Sarah Leah Chase

Comments:  I love this vinaigrette!  As I dream about spring and affordable asparagus, I look forward to making this more often than the occasional special occasions I prepare it through the winter months.  Someone always wants this recipe when I serve this dish. Note: I use what I have in the pantry; that often means lemon juice in a bottle, chopped garlic in a jar and no Dijon mustard. However, when this is prepared exactly as written, it is at its best!    Enjoy!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Buffalo Chicken with Blue Cheese Fondue

Chicken Tenders, cut in half ( I used 3 packages)
olive oil or cooking spray
Buffalo Wing Sauce ( I use Frank's)
2 cups carrot sticks
2 cups celery sticks
2 cups red or orange bell pepper strips
12 ounces of French bread, cut into 1 inch squares

2 cups crumbled blue cheese
1 TBLSP cornstarch
1 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup 1% mild
1 block of fat-free or low-fat cream cheese, softened

Chicken can  be prepared in oven on cooking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Brush with wing sauce and bake for 5 minutes at 400 degrees.  Turn over and brush with more wing sauce, and bake an additional 5 minutes or until done.   OR: Put one TBLSP olive oil in non-stick frying pan and pan fry chicken until done, add wing sauce. 

Cup up all dippers and set aside.

To prepare the fondue, combine the blue cheese and the cornstarch in a large saucepan or electric fondue pot.  Stir in wine, milk, and cream cheese.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook for 1 minute stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 8 minutes or until mixture is smooth, stirring frequently. Transfer to fondue pot and keep warm over low flame.  Serve with dippers.

Recipe from

Comments:  I made this for the Super Bowl this year and it was a huge hit!  It is a nice way to get that wing flavor without the calories and fat from true chicken wings. It went together very quickly. I pan fried the chicken in order to not turn the oven on and to get a bit of color on the chicken.  I will definitely make this again.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Broccoli/Chicken Quiche

1 box of chopped broccoli, cooked and drained
1 can of chicken
8 oz. mozzarella cheese
2-3 eggs
3 TBSP milk
1 onion, chopped
salt/pepper to taste
1 deep dish pie crust

Mix ingredients together and put in pie crust.  Bake 400degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Comments:  This recipe came from a dear friend of the family, Pam.  My family has been making it for at least 25 years.  Wow, time sure flies!  This is one of my go-to quiches.  It is especially good for those who do not like a very eggy quiche.  It is dense and hearty, making it a good choice for lunch or dinner with a salad.  I am not sure why, but sometimes the quiche filling seems thick, so I simply add the 3rd egg to loosen it up a bit. It bakes perfectly well with only 2 eggs, so you decide.  I know it seems odd to use a can of  chicken, but it is good and makes the quiche go together quickly.  I have also used fresh broccoli cooked and chopped as well as left over chicken breast, diced. Enjoy!  

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sloppy Joes

1 lb. ground beef, browned
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup Catsup
1 TBSP brown sugar
1 TBSP prepared mustard
1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
1 TBSP Vinegar
1 tsp salt

Cover. Simmer about 1/2 hour.

Comments:  My mother-in-law, Henrietta, gave me this recipe many years ago and it is one that I still make regularly.  I adjust the brown sugar a bit as I like it a bit sweeter, but it is great just the way it is.  This recipe is quick, easy and flavorful.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chocolate-Chip Oatmeal Scones

1 cup all-purpose flour
3 TBSP brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup real butter, softened a little
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 beaten large egg
1/4 cup milk

In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon.  Cut in butter with a pastry utensil or two butter knives side by side until resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in oat and chocolate chips.  Combine egg and 1/3 cup milk; add to flour mixture.  Stir just until moistened (dough will be a little sticky).

On a lightly floured surface, pat dough into a 7 inch circle.  Cut into 6 large or 12 small wedges.  Place on a baking sheet.  Brush with milk if desired.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes until light brown.

Comments:  This recipe came from the most dedicated, creative and fun piano teacher our family ever had, her name is Linda.  Her recitals always had a theme, a play like "script",  often included costumes, always had prizes, and ended with a treat!  These scones were offered after a "tea" themed recital and have become a favorite go-to scone for many Sunday mornings since. They mix up quickly and are ready just as quickly.  Chocolate in the morning, who could ask for more!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Senate Bean Soup

1 pound dried navy beans, picked over
1 pound ham (preferably with bone)
1 Large russet potato, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup milk
2 TBSP butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
pepper and salt to taste

Put beans in large bowl and cover with about 3 times their volume of cold water.  Soak overnight in a cool place.  Or, bring picked over beans to a boil, turn off heat, and let rest for 1 hour.

Drain beans and transfer to a large pot, Dutch oven or Crock Pot.  Add 10 cups of water and the ham.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook until the beans are tender, about 1 hour,30minutes or all day on low in the Crock Pot.  Transfer the ham to a plate , remove the bone , and dice the meat.  Return to the pot.

Meanwhile, cook the potato in water until tender, drain, mash with milk, salt and butter.  Add the mashed potato to the bean soup until combined.  You can also use left over mashed potato's.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, celery and garlic.  Cook until translucent.  Add this mixture to the soup when ready.  You can also add these raw if you are cooking the beans in the crock-pot.

Use up to an additional 2 cups of water to adjust the soup to the thickness you prefer.

Recipe from Food Network Magazine

Comments.  This soup is served in three public Capitol Hill cafeterias currently and has been served on Capitol Hill since the turn of the 20th Century in the Senate Dining Room.  It is absolutely the best bean soup I have ever made.  My son, who does not usually like bean soup because of the texture, loves this soup.  I always make this soon after we have ham, and sometimes have been known to fix the ham in order to have the soup later.  Delicious!

Comments 2: I have made this now in the crock-pot and on the stove and have found the stove version is a bit better.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mom's Chili

2 pounds of ground beef, fried and drained
1 large jug of V-8 Juice
1 large onion, chopped
1 can of Rotel (my addition)
1 can of beans ( I use Bush's Hot Chili Beans, Mom used light red Kidney Beans)
Chili Powder (to taste, I use at least 1/3 of a bottle)

Put ingredients together in a large pot or a crock-pot, heat and serve.  I saute the onions with the beef if I am doing a quick put together and serve but simply cut them up and put them in the crock-pot if I am cooking the Chili all day.

Comments:  Mom was ahead of her time as she always served this over spaghetti noodles, therefore I do too.  It is also good with Frito's and Cheese, or simply by itself.  This is the easiest and quickest Chili ever made.  The last time I saw my friend Alison in Atlanta she said this continued to be her son's favorite.  It could be your favorite too because it is so quick to the table or will simmer all day in the crock-pot.  Other additions could be celery, green pepper, any kind of bean that you have in the pantry and hot sauce.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Slow Cooker Chicken Stew Recipe

2 potatoes peeled, diced chunky and cooked until tender,  add to crock-pot near the end of cooking time (optional)
2 cups of chunky chopped carrots
1 package of frozen sweet corn
2 stalks of celery, chopped in chunks
1-2 onion, thickly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (12.5 oz.) jar of salsa
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 bag of frozen Lima's
1 can of Rotel Tomatoes
2 tsp of salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp or more of chili powder
1/2 tsp of black pepper
1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
2-3 chicken breast
2 1/2 cups chicken broth

Place all ingredients in your slow cooker.  Place raw chicken on top of vegetables and seasonings.  Pour chicken broth over chicken and vegetables.  Cover Slow Cooker and cook on high for 4 hours.  Add potatoes near the end of your cooking time. Thicken with some cornstarch and water if you want stew to be a bit thicker consistency.  Take chicken breast out and either shred or cut in chunks and then place them back into the crock-pot and serve.

Comments:  I love this recipe because all of the vegetables are cut a bit chunkier than you might cut them for soup and you get to put the whole chicken breast into the crock-pot raw.  I have even put the chicken breast  in frozen if I choose to cook it on low for 6-8 hours instead of on high for 4.   It does need a bit of cornstarch slurry added if you want it to look like stew.  I have not had luck adding the potatoes directly into the crock pot at the beginning of the recipe, they do not get tender.  I think it has something to do with the tomato juices from the Rotel and Salsa, but not sure.  Alton Brown would know!  I don't always add them because of this.  Lots of flavor, easy and delicious!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tyler's Hot Dog Skillet Casserole

Hot-dog( 1 per person you are feeding)
Hot Chili Sauce (to taste)
Cooked Pasta, any type of short noodle you have on hand ( 1/2 -1 cup noodles/ hot dog)
Left over Cincinnati Chili (See previous post for recipe) (1/2 cup chili/hot dog)
Cheese (to taste)
Onions (1 tbsp/hot dog)
Peas (optional)

Directions:  Slice hot dogs into circles and fry until golden brown in a skillet with the Hot Chili Sauce.  Hot Chili Sauce amount is to taste.  Tyler uses 1 TBSP per 2 hot dogs.  Add cooked pasta to pan, left over Cincinnati Chili, cheese, onions and peas.  Heat together thoroughly and serve.

Comments:  This has become on of my son's favorite throw together leftover meals.  It is quite flavorful and surprisingly delicious! We have not tried it with traditional chili, but I am sure it would be great.

Cincinnati Chili

1 Quart of Water
2 LBS of Lean Hamburger
1 tsp of Cinnamon
1 tsp of Ground Cumin
1-2 Large Chopped Onions
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 toe Garlic
2 TBSP Chili Powder
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Red Pepper or Chili Pepper
1 TBSP Salt
1 1/2 tsp Ground Allspice
1 6oz. can of Tomato Paste
1 1/2 TBSP Cider Vinegar
3 Large Bay Leaves
1/2 oz Bakers Chocolate

Directions:  Original recipe states to crumble raw (do not brown) hamburger into water, add rest of ingredients.  Bring to boil, then simmer for 3 hours.  Remove garlic toe and bay leaves.  Add whole red peppers (if desired) for spicier taste.

Prepare Spaghetti noodles per package directions, chop raw onion, shred cheddar cheese, oyster crackers and open a can of beans to complement the chili.

I always brown my meat but I have had it made as the original recipe suggest and the texture is truer to the original Cincinnati Chili you get at Skyline Chili.  I do this because I do not always have the leanest ground beef and want to make every effort to decrease the fat content in my chili.  I use only one onion in my chili as this amount is enough for my family.  I also use pre-minced garlic and put in the equivalent of 1 toe of garlic as I usually have this ingredient in my refrigerator as a staple.  I often put this together in the crock-pot and let it simmer all day.

Note:  Cincinnati Chili is typically served over Spaghetti Noodles and then declared:
 3 Way:  Chili, Spaghetti Noodles and Cheese
 4 Way:  Chili, Spaghetti Noodles, Cheese and Onion
 5 Way:  Chili, Spaghetti Noodles, Cheese, Onion and Beans

Comments:  This recipe was given to me by a dear college friend, Tim.  As with so many things I cook, there is a connection to the person or event associated with the food.  One of my dislikes of computer generated print-outs of recipes is that you loose the original handwriting of the giver of the recipe.  This particular recipe is written in Tim's hand and is considered one of my many treasures.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

White Bean Chicken Chili

2 TBLSP Olive Oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 box chicken broth (allows you to adjust liquid to consistency you like)
1 can Rotel Tomatoes ( can also use a can of Tomalillos drained and chopped or salsa verde)
1 can diced green chiles ( 7 oz)
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 bag of frozen corn
2 large boneless chicken breast, cooked and chopped into small pieces
2 cans of white beans
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil; and cook onion and garlic until soft

Add rest of ingredients.  Simmer until flavors meld and hot. 

Recipe from

Comments:  I have altered this recipe a bit from its original to make it a bit heartier and less soupy.  It is suggested that you can add 2-3 TBLSP of cornstarch mixed in chicken broth or milk if you want it thicker but I opted to just add more beans and corn. Garnish with sour cream, this is a really nice addition to the flavor of the soup.  I make this soup and let it simmer in the crock pot.  However, if you are in a hurry, you could assemble this soup and have it on the table in about 30 minutes total.  I serve with jalapeno/cheese corn muffins.  This recipe is quick and spicy!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Spicy Shredded Beef

2 1/2 pounds boned beef chuck
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) chopped tomatoes
1 can (7 oz.) chipotle sauce or spicy salsa
1 can (4 oz.) diced jalapeno peppers, drained
1 chopped onion
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 TBLSP. chili powder
1 TBLSP. honey
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp ground cumin
2 cups beef broth

Trim off extra fat off beef.  Put in slow cooker ( at least 5 quarts).  Add tomatoes with juice, salsa or chipolte sauce, jalapenos, onion, garlic, chili powder, honey salt and cumin;  pour broth over top.

Cook on low 8-10 hours. 

Remove meat from crock-pot  and shred with 2 forks.  Remove 1/2 of sauce from the crock-pot and then add the meat back to the rest of the sauce.  Serve in sandwiches.

Recipe from

Comments:  This is very spicy, so beware.  My family loves these sandwiches because of all of the flavor but as I said, not for those who like mild tasting food.  Serve on crusty rolls as they are very juicy sandwiches.  Sometimes I will caramelize onions to add to the sandwiches, and sometimes not.  We broil the buns with a piece of provolone or Swiss cheese and then add the meat.  It is suggested that you top the sandwiches with cabbage, red onion, sliced tomato, cilantro and sour cream but I haven't done this yet.  I am sure this would be delicious.  I also use whatever roast is on sale, usually aiming for a lean cut.  YUM!