Monday, September 30, 2013

Southwestern Beef Stew

Beef Stew is one of my favorite comfort meals.  It is a hearty and flavorful meal that is easy to put together.  This beef stew has a southwestern  flavor to it - green chili and aromatic and flavorful spices of chili powder, cumin, and Mexican oregano.  The primary ingredients in this stew are carrots, mushrooms, and boneless beef chuck short ribs.  I like to use boneless beef chuck short ribs in my stew because the meat is fork tender and adds a wonderful flavor to the stew.   The stew is cooked for 8 hours on low in a slow cooker.   Ladle into bowels and you have a rich hearty and delicious meal to enjoy.  What I sometimes do with the leftovers is freeze them.  The stew freezes nicely and just needs a quick reheating.

Southwestern Beef Stew

Southwestern Beef Stew
Special Equipment:  Large Slow Cooker


3 ½-4 pounds boneless beef chuck short ribs well trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon red chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups beef broth
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chili
1 ½ tablespoons red chili powder
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound white button mushrooms, quartered
Salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro for garnish

1. Whisk together flour, onion powder, garlic powder, red chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.  Add beef, a few pieces at a time and toss until lightly coated.  Shake off excess flour mixture.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet.  Add beef in batches and cook until browned on all sides.  Place the meat in the slow cooker.
3. Add onions to the skillet and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic and tomato paste.  Add wine and cook, scraping the pan until the liquid comes to a simmer.  Pour contents of skillet over meat.  Add broth, carrots, tomatoes, green chili, red chili powder, bay leaf, Mexican oregano, and cumin to the slow cooker.  Stir, cover and cook on Low for 8 hours or until beef is tender when pierced with a fork.
4. When stew is almost ready heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are golden brown.
5. Stir the mushrooms into the stew.  Taste.  Add salt and pepper if needed.   Serve and garnish with cilantro.

Makes 8 servings


Friday, September 27, 2013

Rice Pudding And Caramel Apples

Rice Pudding and Caramel Apples
This was a perfect recipe to make for autumn.   Apples in a rich caramel sauce served over rice pudding.   This delicious dessert was our assignment this week in French Fridays With Dorie.  It was a very easy recipe to make.   You start by making a deliciously creamy rice pudding.  Arborio rice is first boiled in water than drained and boiled in milk anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes.  The pudding is removed from the heat and vanilla extract is added.  Let the pudding sit till it reaches room temperature.  Next you make a scrumptious caramel sauce with apples.  The sauce is made by cooking sugar with some lemon juice.  Butter is added once the sugar reaches an amber color.   You then add some apple cider and salt to the sugar mixture.  Next comes the apples.  They are cooked in the sauce until they are tender.  Finally you add some cream to the apple mixture. Let the sauce come to room temperature and serve it with your rice pudding.  To be honest with you, I could have just eaten the apples.  The sauce is  fantastic.   This dessert was a hit at my house.  The kids and I loved the pudding with the apples while the spouse just ate the pudding.  The kids and I did not care that left more apples for us.
I highly recommend you try this recipe.  You will not be disappointed.

This recipe can be found on pages 429-430 in  "Around My French Table" or here.

A Great Comfort Dessert

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Olive-Pecan Finger Sandwiches

Cream Cheese and Olive sandwiches used  be a staple in my diet when I was going to Graduate school.  I haven't had one in ages.  That changed when I found this recipe in Tea Time magazine.  This cream cheese spread is made with  both green olives and black olives.  The spread  gets extra flavor and texture  by adding toasted pecans.   You can make this spread ahead of time.  When ready to use take the spread out of the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.  This spread is  great on crackers, bagels, or spread on flour tortillas that are rolled up and cut into 3/4 inch slices - pinwheels.
These sandwiches were very good and make a healthy after school snack or an adult snack.

Olive-Pecan Finger Sandwiches

Olive-Pecan Finger Sandwiches
From Tea Time Magazine


1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons finely chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives
2 tablespoons finely chopped pitted black olives
1/4 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
12 slices very thin whole wheat sandwich bread, such as Pepperidge Farm Very Thin Wheat

1. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and cream.  Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.  Add green olives, black olives, and pecans, stirring until incorporated.
2. Spread cream cheese mixture onto a bread slice.  Top with another bread slice, and spread with cream cheese mixture.  Top with a third bread slice.  Repeat with remaining cream cheese mixture and bread slices.
3. Using a serrated knife, trim and discard crust from all sides of sandwiches.  Cut each sandwich into thirds to yield 3 finger sandwiches.

Makes 12 finger sandwiches

Monday, September 23, 2013

Blue Corn Parfait Bread

Blue Corn Parfait Bread
Tonight was Chili night at our house.  I always make cornbread to go with our chili.  I deviated from my standard Corn Bread recipe and I tried a totally different one using blue corn meal.   I must admit, I love blue corn tortillas, tortilla chips, and even pancakes.  To me, blue corn has a much sweeter and nuttier flavor than white or yellow corn.    Anyway, back to this delicious recipe. This recipe comes from Jane  Butel.  She has a cooking school here in New Mexico.  Some day,  when my schedule slows down, I need to take a series of her classes or go to a demonstration. Back to the cornbread.   To make this delicious bread,  you start by whisking together blue cornmeal or blue corn flour, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, you combine the eggs, sour cream and melted butter.  To this mixture, you fold in one can of whole-kernel corn which has been well drained.  Make a well in your blue cornmeal mixture and incorporate the ingredients.  Then you pour half of the corn batter into a lightly greased 8x8-inch baking dish.  Sprinkle the grated pepper jack cheese over the batter and  arrange the jalapeno peppers over the cheese.   Next you pour the remaining corn meal mixture over the jalapenos and cheese.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until the cornbread is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the bread sit for about 5-10 minutes before cutting.   Enjoy:)

Blue Corn Parfait Bread
From Jane Butel

2/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup blue corn flour or blue cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1 (15.5 ounce) can whole-kernel corn, drained
4 ounces pepper jack cheese grated
1/4 cup sliced jalapeno peppers

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray lightly an 8x8-inch baking dish.  Set aside.
2. Whisk together in a large mixing bowl, blue corn flour or cornmeal, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
Blue Corn Meal, Baking Powder and Salt
3. Mix together the eggs and the sour cream.  Slowly, whisk the melted butter into the mixture.  Fold the corn into the mixture.
4.  Make a well in the center of the flour/cornmeal mixture and pour the egg mixture into it.  Mix until just combined.
Cornbread Batter
5. Pour half of the batter into the prepare baking dish and smooth it to the edges with a spatula.  Sprinkle the cheese over the batter.  Arrange the jalapeno pepper on top of the cheese.  Pour the remaining batter over the cheese and peppers.

Half of the Batter in the Baking Dish
Cheese and Jalapenos 
6. Smooth the batter over the filling.  Be sure to cover the peppers and cheese.  Bake the cornbread 30-40 minutes or until the cornbread is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.  It may have some cheese on it.
Remaining Layer of Batter
7. Cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting.  Serve.

Makes 9 servings

Friday, September 20, 2013

Skillet Cheeseburger Macaroni

Skillet Cheeseburger Macaroni
Kid tested and approved.  A great endorsement for this easy and quick to prepare one skillet meal.   This recipe comes from  Cook's Country magazine.   You start by browning some ground beef in a skillet.  Add some onions to the ground beef.  Next you add in the macaroni, chicken broth, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, salt and pepper.   Bring to a boil,  cover and cook until the macaroni is tender.  Next, add some American cheese (I used Velveeta) and chopped dill pickles.  Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.  Your dish is ready to serve.  It has all the flavors of a cheeseburger, ground beef, cheese, mustard, tomato, and pickles mixed together with some macaroni.  Delicious:)

Skillet Cheeseburger Macaroni
From Cook's Country Magazine


1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
1 cup finely chopped onion
12 ounces (3 cups) elbow macaroni
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dry mustard
Salt and Pepper
6 ounces chopped deli American Cheese
1/2 cup chopped dill pickles


1.  Cook beef and 1/2 cup onion in 12-inch  nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until beef is no longer pink, about 7 minutes.
2. Add macaroni, broth, tomato sauce, Worcestershire, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and bring to boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until macaroni is tender, 8 to 10 minutes.  Stir in cheese, pickles, and remaining 1/2 cup onion.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve.

Serves 4 to 6

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Creamy Vegetable Soup

Creamy Vegetable Soup
This recipe evolved as I was preparing it.  I started out making a recipe for  "Hearty Vegetable Chowder" I found in Country Cooks Magazine.  As I was making this recipe, I realized my kids weren't going to touch the soup with visible  pieces of leeks no matter how good it was.   The original recipe had you puree one cup of the veggies. I took it a step further and pureed the whole batch.  I added more liquid about 1/2 cup additional chicken broth and an additional 1/2 cup of half-and-half.  I like my cream soups a little on the thick side.   If you prefer a thinner soup, add more liquid.  Other than the changes I made above, I followed the recipe.  The main ingredients are leeks, carrots, celery , and russet potatoes.  These veggies are cooked in chicken broth that is seasoned with fresh thyme, garlic, and a bay leaf.  Once the vegetables were tender,  I  let them sit for a while to cool then I pureed them.  I returned the purred veggies back to the pot, and added 1 cup of half-and-half, some fresh chives, and lemon juice.  The lemon juice really kicks up the the flavor of the soup.  I tried a small sample of the soup without the lemon juice and the flavor wasn't as good.  Finally, season the soup to your liking and serve.
I loved the beautiful autumn color of the soup.  The soup was hearty and very flavorful. It had a lovely velvety texture from the pureed leeks and potatoes.  It had  about a cup of this soup leftover -  which I have claimed for my lunch.

Creamy Vegetable Soup
Adapted From Hearty Vegetable Chowder Cook's Country Magazine

6 slices bacon, chopped
1 pound leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly
4 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Cook bacon in Dutch oven over medium heat until fat has rendered and bacon is nearly crispy, 7 to 9 minutes.  Add leeks, carrots, celery, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until leeks are translucent, about 8 minutes.  Add potatoes and cook, stirring constantly, until starch begins to release and coat vegetables, about 2 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add 4 1/2 cups of the broth and the bay leaf.  Bring to a boil.

Veggies Cooking
2. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.  Discard bay leaf and let soup cool about 5 minutes.  Transfer the soup in batches to a stand blender and puree.   Stir pureed soup back into  the pot.  Stir in half-and-half, chives, and lemon juice.  If you need, add more chicken broth to thin the soup.  Gently rewarm soup.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Monday, September 16, 2013

Breakfast Cookies

Breakfast Cookies - Don't  They Look Good
What could be tastier than cookies for breakfast?  In my home, according to my youngest - nothing.  He has been a Cookie lover from the moment he could eat solid food.  So this morning when I told him I had cookies for breakfast he was delighted and somewhat suspicious.  I have never let him eat a cookie before for breakfast.    These cookies, however were different.  They were breakfast cookies.  I found this recipe in the latest issue of "Cook's Country" magazine.  These cookies have all of your basic breakfast foods, cereal, egg, orange juice, and bacon. This cookie recipe is a drop cookie one - which are my favorites to make.  The recipe was easy to follow and the cookies were not difficult to make.  The only suggestion I would make, is to refrigerate the dough for about 1 hour.  This will make the dough easier to work with. As the cookies are baking, they emit  a wonderful orange aroma mixed with a hint of bacon.     I was amazed at how delicious these cookies were.  The cookies were soft, chewy, and slightly nutty from the Grape-Nuts. I wish I had found this recipe sooner.  We will be having more of these cookies for breakfast or anytime.

Breakfast Cookies
From Cook's Country Magazine


8 slices bacon
1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 ounces) all- purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) Grape-Nuts cereal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed (2 1/3 ounces) light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest


1. Cook bacon in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until crispy, 8 to 10 minutes.  Transfer to paper towel-lined plate.  Once cool, crumble coarsely; set aside.  Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.  Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Combine flour,  Grape-Nuts, salt,  baking powder, and baking soda in bowl.  Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute.  Add egg, orange juice concentrate, and orange zest and beat until combined, about 30 seconds.  Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, and mix until just incorporated.  Add bacon and mix until just combined, about 30 seconds.
3. Place remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar in shallow dish.  Working with 2 tablespoons dough at a time, roll into 16 balls, then roll balls in granulated sugar.  Space balls on prepared sheet in staggered pattern.  Using bottom of drinking glass, flatten balls to 2 1/2 inches in diameter.  Sprinkle each sheet with 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar from dish.

4. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until slightly puffy and light golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking.  Let cookies cool on sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack.  Let cookies cool completely before serving.

Makes 16 cookies

Friday, September 13, 2013

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Jalapeño Popper Dip
Jalapeno Popper Dip is one of those dishes that is great for any occasion/party or just a quick munchie before your family dinner.  It is great with chips or spread it on your favorite crackers.  This is a hot (temperature) dip and it is very cheesy and creamy with some spice to it.  The Panko bread crumbs add a nice texture to this dip.  The dip is made with cream cheese, sour cream, green chilies, Jalapeño peppers, pepper jack cheese, some garlic powder and cumin.  The cheese chili mixture is spread in either a quiche pan (which I used) or a deep dish pie pan.  Sprinkle the  Panko Bread crumb topping over the dip and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the dip is bubbly and a beautiful golden brown.  Let the dip rest for 5-10 minutes and then serve.  We usually just eat the dip with some tortilla chips but you can serve it on crackers as well.

Jalapeño Popper Dip

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened and cubed
1-cup sour cream
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies
1 (4 ounce) can diced Jalapeño peppers, drained
1 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon cumin
Jalapeño slices for garnish
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1-cup Panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan Cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray lightly a deep-dish 9-inch pie pan or a quiche pan.  Set aside.
2. Beat the cream cheese and sour cream together until smooth.
3. Add the green chilies, Jalapeño Peppers, Pepper Jack cheese, garlic powder, and cumin to the cream cheese mixture.  Stir by hand until the ingredients are well combined.
4. Spread the dip mixture into the prepared pan.
5. Prepare the Topping:  Place all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl.  Stir until the crumbs are well coated with the melted butter.
6. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the dip. Place dip in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and bubbly.

Oven Ready
7. Remove from oven and let sit 5 -10 minutes before serving.  Garnish with sliced Jalapeño peppers if desired.  Serve with chips or crackers.

As a Side Note:  As many of you know, my mother has Alzheimer's.  September is World Alzheimer's Month and the facility where my mother resides was sponsoring a Chili contest to raise funds for the Alzheimer's Association.  People paid $5 to sample the many types of Chilies that were entered in the contest.   The Chili I entered won a prize.  Below is a picture of the lovely basket of goodies  I won.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

7- Up Biscuits

7-UP Biscuit
I saw this recipe on my Facebook page.  The biscuits looked so good and the recipe was easy - I had to make them.  There are 4 ingredients used to make these biscuits:  Bisquick or your own Baking Mix, sour cream, 7-Up, and butter.  All of the ingredients except the butter are combined together.  The recipe states the dough will be sticky and it is.  As I was working with this dough, a little voice kept telling me to dust the work surface and my hands with flour.  I kept ignoring the voice  - there was nothing in the recipe about dusting the work surface and your hands with flour.  Finally, I decided  to listen to the voice and I dusted my hands and work surface with flour.  The dough was so much easier to work with.   You pat the dough out and cut the biscuits with a biscuit cutter.  I used a 3-inch diameter biscuit cutter.  The biscuits are placed on top of the melted butter in a 9x13-inch baking dish.  Bake at 425 degrees F for 12-15  minutes or until the biscuits are a golden brown.  These biscuits are very tender and fluffy.  I really liked them.

7-Up Biscuits


4 cups Bisquick or your own Baking Mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup 7-Up
1/2 cup melted butter


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Mix Bisquick or baking mix, sour cream, and 7-Up.  The dough will be very soft - don't worry.
3. Knead and fold dough until coated with your baking mix.  *Lightly flour the work surface and your hands.
4. Pat dough out and cut biscuits using a round biscuit/cookie cutter.
5. Melt butter in bottom of cookie sheet pan or a 9x13-inch baking dish.
6. Place biscuits on top of melted butter and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Baking Mix, Sour Cream, 7-Up


Makes 11 Biscuits
*My modification to the original recipe.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Today was one of those nights where the family was coming and going at different times.  A good hearty soup is great for nights like this.   I chose to make "Chicken Tortilla Soup"  from the Pioneer Woman Cooks website. It is delicious hearty soup that satisfies  your  appetite.  This soup is a meal.   It is loaded with chicken, onions, green and red peppers, garlic,  black beans, and corn tortilla strips.  All of these goodies are cooked in a spicy rich broth made with chicken stock, tomato paste, water and seasoned with cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt.  Then it is thickened with either cornmeal or masa.  I used masa because I had it on hand.  The broth can be as spicy as you want.  I added extra chili powder to  mine.   You can garnish the soup as you wish.  I used diced avocado, sour cream , and Mexican cheese.   You get a heaping spoonful of these delicious ingredients in every bite.   This soup is mmmm good.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
From the Pioneer Woman Cooks


2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (10 oz) can Rotel Tomatoes and Green Chilies
32 ounces, fluid  chicken stock
3 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups hot water
2 cans (15 oz can) Black Beans, drained
3 tablespoon cornmeal or Masa
5 whole corn tortillas, cut into uniform strips around 2 to 3 inches

For the Garnishes:

Sour Cream
Diced Avocado
Diced Red Onion
Salsa or Pico De Gallo
Grated Monterey Jack Cheese


1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Mix cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small amount of spice mix on both sides.  Set aside the rest of the spice mix.
2. Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done.  Use two forks to shred chicken.  Set aside.

3.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat.  Add onions, red pepper, green pepper, and minced garlic.  Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix.  Stir to  combine, then add shredded chicken and stir.

4. Pour in Rotel, chicken stock, tomato paste, water, and black beans.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer for 45 minues, uncovered.

5. Mix cornmeal or masa with a small amount of water.  Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minues.  Check seasonings, adding more if needed - add more chili powder if it needs more spice, and be sure not to under salt.  Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.  Five minutes before serving, gently stir in tortilla strips.
6.  Ladle into bowls, then top with garnishes of your choice.


Makes 8 servings

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sunshine Pudding

Sunshine Pudding
Sunshine pudding is a tasty breakfast dish made from chia seeds.  I found this recipe in Family Circle magazine in a section entitled "The Mini-Meal Diet."  They had some interesting dishes in this section.  I had fun with this recipe by telling the kids they were going to have pudding for breakfast.  They thought I lost it, but I told them I was making them pudding.   I neglected to say it was made with chia seeds and was healthy.  I am bad.   Back to the recipe - chia seeds  are soaked overnight in some vanilla soy milk.  The pudding is flavored with vanilla extract, a pinch of cinnamon and fresh or frozen blueberries.  I am sure you could use raspberries, blackberries, or quartered strawberries.  The mixture is stirred and it sits in the fridge overnight.   The next morning your breakfast is ready.  The pudding has the texture of tapioca from the chia seeds and is quite good.  The blueberries add just the right sweetness and the vanilla flavor in the pudding is perfect.   I enjoyed this pudding and will probably make it again. The kids were hoping for chocolate and not that impressed.  However, they did not say the "hated" the pudding.   Next time I make this recipe, I am going to experiment a bit using Almond milk and maybe some peaches or other berries.  Try it.  It is a fun dish to try at least once.

Sunshine Pudding
From Family Circle Magazine

Combine 1 cup vanilla soy milk, 2 tablespoons chia seeds, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, a pinch of cinnamon and 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries.  Let  sit in the fridge overnight.

Ready for Fridge

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese
Who doesn't love Mac and Cheese.  It is a favorite  at my house.  I have a recipe I  make that everyone loves.  Recently, I took a step on the wild side and made a new Mac and Cheese recipe.  Why would I be so daring?  This recipe had bacon in it.  I love bacon.  Anything with bacon has to be good.  This recipe is similar to my standard recipe only for the bacon and the paprika.  It calls for one tablespoon.  I thought that's a lot of paprika - I wondered if it was a misprint.  I followed the recipe as instructed and it was delicious.   You start by cooking your bacon over medium heat until it is crisp.  You remove the bacon from the pan and add onion and bay leaves to the bacon drippings.  Cook for a few minutes and add the paprika and cayenne until they are fragrant.  You then add the flour and whisk in the milk.  You bring the sauce to a boil and cook until it has thickened.  While the sauce is cooking you cook the macaroni.  Once the sauce is done you gradually whisk in the cheese.  You add the bacon to the sauce and season with salt .   The sauce is added to the cooked macaroni and spread into a prepared baking dish.  Cheese is sprinkled on top and the mac and cheese. Bake for thirty minutes.   Take out of the oven and serve.  A delicious comfort food experience awaits you and your family.  

Grant's Mac and Cheese
From Food and Wine Magazine


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 thick slices of bacon (6 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium onion, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups whole milk
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 pound extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded ( 5 cups)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish.  In a large saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 7 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate.
2. Add the onion and bay leaves to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the paprika and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the flour until blended.  Gradually whisk in the milk until the sauce is smooth.  Bring to a boil over high heat, whisking constantly, and cook until thickened.   Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce gently for 30 minutes, whisking frequently.  Discard the bay leaves.

Sauce Cooking -see the bay leaves
3.  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.Add the macaroni and boil until pliable but undercooked, about 4 minutes.  Drain the macaroni and return it to the pot.
4. Stir 4 cups of the cheddar cheese into the hot sauce, add the bacon and season with salt.  Add the sauce to the macaroni and mix well.  Spread the mac and cheese in the prepared baking dish and scatter the remaining 1 cup of cheddar on top.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Finished Sauce
Ready for the oven
Makes 8 servings

Make Ahead:  The assembled mac and cheese can be refrigerated overnight.  Bring to room temperature before baking.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sweet Potato Smoothie

Sweet Potato Smoothie
This was my dinner tonight.  Doesn't it look yummy?  A beautiful fall color smoothie that is rich and creamy.  At first, I wasn't too sure how good a sweet potato in a smoothie would taste.  I have seen in stores a sweet potato banana puree I always thought sounded interesting.  This recipe used half of a banana so I decided to give it a try.
You place all of the ingredients into a blender, half of a baked sweet potato, half of a banana, some low fat Greek yogurt, skim milk, and some ice cubes (the recipe doesn't state an amount so I used about 1/2 cup).  Blend until smooth. You are now ready to enjoy  a delicious indulgence with a wonderful creamy flavor.

Sweet Potato Smoothie
From Family Circle Magazine

Blend 1/2 baked sweet potato, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup plain, low-fat Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup skim milk and ice cubes.