Friday, June 20, 2014

No-Bake Cookies

2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups oatmeal
Waxed paper


In a heavy saucepan bring to a boil, the sugar, cocoa, butter and milk. Let boil for 3 minutes then add peanut butter, vanilla and oatmeal.

On a sheet of waxed paper, drop mixture by the teaspoonfuls, until cooled and hardened.

Recipe from:

Comments: I forgot how good these are.  I was desperate for chocolate and realized I had all of the ingredients to make these and boy did they hit the spot. I made half a batch and it  produced 15 good sized cookies.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tyler's Homemade Brownies

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (about 1 cup) or coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 8 pieces
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup all-purpose flour


Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Bake in an 8 X 8 pan, greased and floured or lined with aluminum foil.

Combine the chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. (Alternatively, melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds.)

Combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and stir with a rubber spatula until just evenly incorporated.

Add the chocolate mixture and stir until evenly combined.

Add the flour and fold in until just incorporated, about 20 strokes (no white streaks should remain).

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, push it to the edges in an even layer, and smooth the top.

Bake until a cake tester or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and let the brownies cool for at least 20 minutes.

Recipe from:

Comments: My son makes these brownines and they are the best home-made brownies I have ever had.We usually double the recipe  as this only makes an 8X8 pan.

Farmers Market Pasta Salad

2 cups halved baby heirloom tomatoes
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced into half moons
1 small red bell pepper, cut into thin strips $
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1 cup diced firm, ripe fresh peaches (about 2 medium)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
Parmesan Vinaigrette
1 (8-oz.) package penne pasta*
2 cups shredded smoked chicken (about 10 oz.)
1/3 cup torn fresh basil
1/3 cup torn fresh cilantro

1. Toss together first 7 ingredients in a large bowl, and let stand 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions. Add hot cooked pasta and chicken to tomato mixture; toss gently to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving platter, and top with basil and cilantro.

*1 (20-oz.) package refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini may be substituted.

Recipe from:

Parmesan Vinaigrette

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Process Parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic, pepper, and salt in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add basil and cilantro; pulse 5 or 6 times or just until blended.

Comments:  This is a beautiful pasta salad and delicious!  I don't use cilantro because of personal preference, but I'm sure it would be delicious.  I have not made it with the chicken, but this too would be a delicious addition.  This is a great family reunion, picnic or potluck salad as it has no mayonaise in it.  I ended up using a whole box of pasta and the balance was fine.

Parmesan Vinaigrette

Parmesan Vinaigrette

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Process Parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic, pepper, and salt in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add basil and cilantro; pulse 5 or 6 times or just until blended.

Recipe from

Comments:  I make this vinaigrette (without the cilantro at my house because the men don't like it) for a pasta salad, but I posted it separate because it is so good and I might like to use it on something else someday.

Twiced baked baby potatoes

24 baby Yukon Gold or red potatoes, each about 2 inches across (2 to 2-1/4 lb.)
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
 3 oz. bacon (about 3 thick slices), cooked until crispy and crumbled
 6 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh chives
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

 Heat the oven to 425°F. Put the potatoes on a large baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. of the thyme, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and toss again. Bake the potatoes until they feel perfectly tender when pierced with a skewer, 20 to 25 minutes. ( It took my potatoes 45 to 50 minutes to be fork tender.)

Remove from the oven and let rest until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. You need to mash the potatoes while they are warm or they will be lumpy or turn into glue.  If you step away too long and they get cold, gently reheat the pulp of the potato in water on the stove-top, do not boil and then mash.

 If not working ahead, increase the oven temperature to 450°F.

Carefully hollow out each potato: Begin by slicing off the top; use a small spoon or a melon baller to scoop out most of the flesh inside, transferring it to a large bowl. Discard the tops. Mash the potato flesh with a masher or a fork, then combine it with the bacon, 1/4 cup of the chives, the crème fraîche, the remaining 1 tsp. thyme, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. Using a small spoon and your fingers, fill the hollowed potatoes with this mixture; it should mound a bit. Sprinkle on the cheese.

Return the potatoes to the 450°F oven and bake until the filling heats through, 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining chives and serve warm.

 Make Ahead Tips You can stuff the potatoes up to two days ahead as long as you wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate them; bring them to room temperature before the second baking.

 Recipe from:

Comments: I made 50 of these for my daughters high-school graduation party and by the time dinner was over there were only 5 left!  Needless to say, they are fun to look at and delicious to eat.  And really not that hard to make. I made them the night before.  The melon ball scoop is a must as the skin on a Yukon potato or red potato is fragile.  I let my potatoes get cold and had to reheat them.  I wasn't sure how this would work out, but it worked out fine.  If you love bacon, it could use a little more.  Rolling the potatoes in the kosher salt , pepper, thyme and oil made them extra delicious so don't skip this step.

Pineapple-Basil Cocktail

Recipe from Southern Living

1 cup Pineapple-Basil Simple Syrup
3/4 cup gin
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 (12-oz.) bottle club soda, chilled


Fill a 2-qt. pitcher with ice. Stir in Pineapple-Basil Simple Syrup, gin, and lemon juice. Add chilled club soda just before serving.

Pineapple-Basil Simple Syrup

2 cups sugar
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup water
1 cup firmly packed basil leaves


Bring sugar, pineapple juice, and water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring just until sugar dissolves. Boil 2 minutes. (Do not stir.) Remove from heat. Add basil leaves, and steep 10 minutes. Press through a wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, using back of a spoon to squeeze out liquid; discard solids. Cool completely (about 20 minutes). Transfer to a jar; cover and refrigerate up to 3 months.

Comments: I always have more basil than I know what to do with in my herb garden, so I thought I'd try this cocktail one weekend and boy was it delicious.  It offers an interesting flavor, is light and refreshing and taste like summer!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Shredded Buffalo Crock Pot Chicken

4-6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 (17.5 fluid ounce) bottle buffalo wing sauce, divided
1 package dry ranch salad dressing mix
1/2 to 1 cup of chicken broth (optional)
2 tablespoons butter (optional)
Blue Cheese Dressing (optional)
6 hoagie rolls, split lengthwise

Directions: Place the chicken breasts into a slow cooker, and pour in 3/4 of the bottle of wing sauce, the package of ranch dressing mix, and chicken broth. Cover, and cook on low for 3 hours.Remove the chicken from the Crock Pot and shred it. Add the butter now if you so desire. Place back into the Crock Pot and let cook for at least 1 more hour, or up to 7 hours if your Pot does not have a warming option. Pile the meat onto the hoagie rolls, and splash with the remaining buffalo wing sauce to serve.  Add blue cheese dressing to your sandwiches for added flavor.

Comments: This recipe is all over the Internet so I wanted to try it.  It is pretty tasty!  Many of the comments said that the wing sauce cooked dry while the chicken was cooking.  I added the chicken broth to avoid this problem, but then thought it was a bit soupy.  I used a cornstarch slurry to barely thicken the juice before I put the chicken back in and this worked great. I chose to not add the butter.  I didn't think it needed it. I have found if I cook chicken breast more than 3 or 4 hours on low in the Pot they get dry and grainy so I would aim for less time than more.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Crock Pot Honey Chicken

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 4 chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes ( I add more because I like it a bit spicier.)
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1/3 cup water
Sesame seeds, these are best toasted in a skillet, but this is  not necessary to dish.
3 scallions, chopped

Rice, brown or white.  Prepare separately according to package instructions.

DIRECTIONS: Place chicken in Crock Pot and season both sides with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, combine onion, garlic, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, oil and red pepper flakes. Pour over chicken. Cook on low for 3-4 hours, or high for 2 hours. Remove chicken to a cutting board, leaving sauce. Shred chicken into bite-sized pieces; set aside. In a small bowl, dissolve 4 teaspoons cornstarch in 1/3 cup water; add to crock pot. Stir to combine with sauce. Cover and cook sauce on high for ten more minutes, or until slightly thickened.

TO SERVE: Add cooked rice to 4 plates, top with chicken and spoon sauce over top. Sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.

Recipe adapted from Comfort of Cooking

Comments: This recipe was a great way to serve chicken in the Crock Pot with a new flavor. I cooked my chicken breast 4 hours and left to warm for several more and found the chicken to be a bit dry. So, this is not a recipe I would leave in the pot all day. I will probably tweak the recipe next time to create a stronger sweet, hot flavor. But, even without any changes I will make it again. I am always looking for something else to do with chicken.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mango and Black Bean and Rice Salad

1 1/2 cups chopped peeled ripe mango
1 cup thinly sliced green onions, include stems
1 cup cooked rice, original recipe calls for brown or wild rice.
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
2 tablespoons salsa
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drain

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss gently to mix.

Recipe is from Cooking Light

Comments: This was delicious!!! The combination of flavors was great, the texture was wonderful, the presentation was beautiful.  We ate it slightly warm, but my daughter took it for lunch today cold and was the envy of her lunch table. The men in my house don't like cilantro so I left it out, but I think it would be a good addition.  This was so easy to make for the amount of taste it provided.  Please don't skip the lime juice, it really added a freshness that came through in the dish.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Crock-pot Shredded Chicken Barbecue

chicken breast, however many you need for your family
1 bottle of barbecue sauce
1/2 cup Italian Salad Dressing
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 TBSP apple-cider vinegar

Directons: Place all ingredients in the crock-pot and cook 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.  Shred chicken before serving on a bun. 

This recipe is all over the Internet, with variations in the amount of each ingredient.  I added the red pepper and the vinegar to accommodate my liking.  

Comments:  Delicious and EASY!  Make sure you use a good quality barbecue sauce for optimal flavor.  I used frozen chicken breast and cooked 8 hours on low.

Crock-pot White Bean Chicken Chili

1 large onion, chopped
1 can green chili's drained
2 garlic cloves
2 large chicken breast
2 TBSP ground cumin
1 TBSP dried oregano
2 TBSP chili powder
2 (15-ounce cans) cannelloni or other white bean, rinsed and drained
1 bag frozen corn
4 cups low sodium
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Sour Cream
Avocado, diced
Chopped cilantro
Parmesan Cheese
Tortilla chips

Directions:  Put all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low 6-8 hours.  Shred the chicken before serving. Garnish to your taste.

This is a recipe combined from two different ones found on the Internet.  One from Mel's Kitchen Cafe and the other from Giada De Laurentiis on Food Network. I also added a few ingredients that I thought would work.

Comments:  I cannot rave enough about this soup. We added lime juice to taste to each bowl and added a dollop of sour cream.  Oh my!  the lime juice gave it a freshness that was unbelievable and the sour cream made the texture of the soup perfect.  YUM!

Giada added a bunch of Swiss chard, stems removed and chopped into small pieces.  I am sure this would be delicious, and good for you too!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mixed Bean and Sausage Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Italian Sausage sliced into 1-inch pieces. I removed the casing first.
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 lb Gourmet Bean Blend
12 cups chicken stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving, if desired

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot set over high heat. Add the onion and sausage and until the sausage is browned. Add the garlic and peppers for 2 minutes. Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, red chili flakes, bay leaves, pepper, Gourmet Bean Blend and chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off the foam that rises to the top. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 2-3 hours until beans are tender and soup has thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Makes about 4 quarts. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

To shorten cooking time, pre-soak the beans: place beans in a pot and cover with several inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then remove from heat and let soak for 1 hour. Drain beans and proceed with recipe.

Recipe from Epicurean Specialty Gourmet Bean site

Notes: This recipe was taken directly from the website of the company that makes these beans.  I got the bean mix at Costco, but any bean mix would work.  This particular mix had beans, peas and lentils in it.

I did not add the green peppers because the husband doesn't like them, but I think they would be delicious in this soup. I also think it would be tasty without the meat, but you will need to kick up the flavor with some other spicy addition.  I used hot Italian sausage, which added tons of flavor. As for measuring one pound of beans, I used 3 cups uncooked and this worked out. I adjusted the liquid to my preference.  This is an easy, one-pot meal with lots of flavor.  My favorite kind of recipe! 

Crock Pot Pork Roast

1 - 2 lb boneless pork roast (sirloin tip roast or pork tenderloin)
1 - cup Worcestershire sauce
1 - cup brown sugar
2 - teaspoons olive oil
McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning

Directions: Rub Montreal seasoning all over the roast making sure to cover all sides. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and get the pan really hot. Add the roast and sear on all sides, browning on all sides.   Add Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar to the crock pot and mix. Add the pork roast. Cover and cook on high for one hour then turn to low and cook a additional 4-5 hours. Pork roast is fully cooked when it starts to come apart. Serve alone or on wheat rolls.

Recipe from:  The Happy Housewife blog

Comments: I added 1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper and 2 tsp. crushed garlic to the liquid mixture. I liked the added heat in the gravy. The original recipe just dumps the sugar and Worcestershire sauce on top of the roast and swears it works. After the pork was cooked, I took out the juice and reduced it by half on the stove top, but this isn't really necessary. My family loved this recipe!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Super Summer Kale Salad

3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves chopped

1/2 (16 ounce) package of frozen shelled edamame thawed
1/4 red onion, sliced thin
1 cup shredded carrot
2/3 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup cashew pieces
1/2 cup shelled, roasted sunflower seeds

Instructions:  Whisk sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper and olive oil in a bowl until sugar is dissolved, set aside.

Toss kale, edamame, red onion, carrot, blueberries, dried cranberries, cashew pieces, and sunflower seeds together in a bowl.  Pour half of the dressing over the mixture and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate 4-6 hours.  Serve remaining dressing on side.

Recipe from

Comments:  I had this salad tonight at my book club and simply can't say enough good things about it.  It was perfect! Beth, our host, said this salad, even dressed, will stay crisp for a week. Not only is it delicious, it is the prettiest salad I have ever seen.  I can't wait to make this!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Pizza Soup

1 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms, fresh or canned
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 cups of water
1 15 oz. can of pizza sauce
1 cup chopped pepperoni
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes, I often use a large can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup cooked Italian sausage
1 tsp Italian seasoning ( I tend to add more, but this also depends on your taste)
crushed red pepper to taste ( optional)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Shredded mozzarella cheese

In large saucepan, saute the mushrooms and onions in the oil until tender.  Add water, pizza sauce, pepperoni, tomatoes, sausage and seasoning.

Bring to boil over medium heat, reduce heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Before serving, stir in the Parmesan cheese. Garnish with mozzarella cheese.

Comments:  This recipe came from a friend, Denise,  who made soup all of the time in Alpharetta, GA.  I have had this recipe for years and didn't make it until recently - not sure what I was waiting on because it is delicious!

I double the recipe in order to have leftovers.  My family loves it with a loaf of whole grain bread from the grocery.

Note:  Take the casing off of the hot-dog shaped Italian sausages and fry it up like you would hamburger.

Corn Pudding

2 eggs
3 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP flour
1/2 can of evaporated milk ( milk or half and half also work)
2 TBSP butter, melted
1 can of creamed corn

Bake at 325 for 1 hour, or until set.

Comments:  This corn pudding is a family staple at holiday meals, but I occasionally  make it with  ham or pork roast just to put something different on the table.

I often add a half cup of frozen corn to the mixture to give it some umph.  But, this is not necessary.  I have also cooked it at 350 or 375, depending on what is already in the oven.