Monday, March 31, 2014

Strawberry Milk

Strawberry Milk
When I was a kid, I used to love all different flavors of milk - vanilla, banana, strawberry, and of course chocolate.   I used some type of powder to flavor my milk in those days.  Fast forward a few years - today I made some Strawberry milk using fresh strawberries.  I found this recipe in "Southern Living" magazine.   I modified the recipe a bit.  Instead of using whole milk, I used some Vanilla Soy Milk.  Being that the soy milk had vanilla flavoring, I omitted the vanilla extract.  Wow -what a difference the fresh strawberries  made to this delicious and refreshing beverage.  The kids even tasted the difference and loved it.

This beverage is easy and quick to make.  In fact, you can make it ahead of time and let it chill in the fridge.  Start by hulling one quart of fresh strawberries and pureeing them in a blender with some sugar.  The recipe calls for  3-4 tablespoons sugar.  I started with 2 tablespoons, tasted, and added a little more.  Sweeten to your taste.  Strain the puree until all you have left is pulp.  Add just a pinch of salt to the strawberries and stir.  Add the strawberries to 4 cups of vanilla soy milk.  Stir and chill for one hour before serving.    Pour in glasses and serve.

The result is MMMM delicious:)

Strawberry Milk
Adapted From Southern Living Magazine


1 - quart fresh strawberries hulled
3-4 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
4 cups Vanilla Soy Milk

1. Process the strawberries in a blender with sugar.  Scrape down the sides if needed. Process the strawberries in batches, if needed.
2. Press the strawberries through a wire-mesh strainer  with the back of a spoon into a medium bowl.      Discard the pulp.

3. Stir in a pinch of salt into the strawberries.  Taste and add more sugar if needed.   In a pitcher add the 4 cups Vanilla Soy Milk.
4. Stir the strawberries into the soy milk.  Chill for 1 hour before serving.
5. Pour into glasses and serve.

Make 6 cups

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cream of Chicken Soup

Cream of Chicken Soup
Soup makes the meal.  That expression has been with me throughout my cooking lifetime.  I guess it is the comforting aspect of soup that resonates with me.  So tonight I made some Cream of Chicken Soup for dinner.  Soup is one of my favorites to make for a satisfying meal.  Just serve with some bread, salad, or a sandwich and you're set.  Best of all soup is easy, delicious, and budget friendly.

This soup has lots, of shredded chicken, carrots, potatoes, spices, and some heavy cream that make it rich and hearty.    To give this soup an extra  boast, I used some dry sherry.  The ingredients are cooked over the stove top for about 40 minutes.  The aroma is wonderful as the soup  simmers on the stove.  With about 10 minutes left in cooking, I add the cream, chicken and warm through.  I re season the soup if necessary then serve.  I sprinkled the portions with  some fresh chives from the garden.

Cream of Chicken Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry sherry
8 cups chicken broth
1 cup carrots sliced
3 cups diced potatoes
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups shredded chicken cooked
1/2 cup heavy cream
Snipped fresh chives

1.  In a Dutch oven melt butter over medium heat.  Add onions and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.  Cook until onions are just tender.
2. Sprinkle flour over the onions and cook for 1 minute.  Add sherry and cook until it evaporates.
3. Whisk in the both until it is incorporated.  Stir in the carrots, potatoes,  bay leaf, salt, pepper, and dried thyme.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Add the chicken and cream and simmer for 10 more minutes.
5. Remove from heat.  Remove bay leaf and serve with some snipped fresh chives.

Makes 6 servings

Monday, March 24, 2014

Fried Ravioli

Fried Ravioli
Fried Raviolis I have eaten but have not ventured to make.  This changed on March 20, 2014 which was National Ravioli Day.  I made some Fried Raviolis.  I found various recipes on the Web and picked a little of this and a little of that from various recipes and came up with my own.  In reading over the recipes, I did not realize how easy these little gems were to make.  They are usually served as an appetizer with marinara sauce.  I served mine as a light dinner with some salad.

I started out with some fresh raviolis - about one pound.  I dipped the raviolis in an egg wash than dunked them into some Italian breadcrumbs.  They were then fried in some canola oil which was heated to 325 degrees F.  You turn them occasionally until they are golden brown - about 3 minutes.  I drained them on some paper towels.  I then plated the Raviolis, sprinkled with some grated Parmesan cheese and served them with some marinara sauce.

They were delicious.  Crisp pasta bites dipped in sauce  that oozed out flavor with every bite. Belated Happy Ravioli Day:)

Fried Ravioli


Canola Oil
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup Italian Breadcrumbs
1 pound fresh Ravioli
1 jar of Marinara Sauce
Grated Parmesan Cheese

1. Pour  2 inches of canola  oil in a heavy bottomed pan.  Heat oil to 325 degrees F.
2. In a small bowl whisk together the egg and the milk.  Set aside.
3. Put bread crumbs in a shallow dish - I used a pie plate.
4. Dip Ravioli in the egg/milk mixture.  Let excess drain off.  Next coat the Ravioli in bread crumbs.
5. Place the Ravioli on a baking sheet.  Repeat until all of the Raviolis are coated.
6. Put the Raviolis in the hot oil and cook in batches.  Occasionally turn the Raviolis until golden brown on both sides.  Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.
7. Serve immediately with  some  sprinkled grated Parmesan cheese on top  and Marinara Sauce on the side.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Asparagus Pickles

Asparagus Pickles
Asparagus are a veggie I associate with spring.  It could be, growing up we usually had asparagus for Easter.  Asparagus are one of my favorites.  I love them when they are tender with just a hint of crispness to them.  I can eat them baked, sauteed, in pasta dishes, or my new favorite pickled.  Yes, I am a new fan of Asparagus Pickles.

I found a wonderful recipe for "Asparagus Pickles" in the March 2014 issue of  "Southern Living" magazine.  It was love at first bite with these delicious asparagus spears.   Begin by trimming the bottoms of the asparagus so they will fit into a quart canning jar.   To the sterilized jars add some, kosher salt, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, garlic, and fresh tarragon sprigs.  The asparagus are then put into the canning jars with the salt and spices.

In a small sauce pan, bring some vinegar, water, and sugar to a boil.  Pour the mixture over the asparagus and place a metal lid and a screw on band on the jar.  Shake to combine everything and chill for 24 hours.

I served these last night with dinner.  We grilled some hamburgers and I served them as a side.  They were fantastic.  They were crisp with a very slight garlic taste.  Perfect in taste.  I will definitely be making these again.

Asparagus Pickles
From Southern Living Magazine


2 pounds fresh asparagus
1/4 kosher salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 fresh tarragon sprigs
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar

1. Trim off bottom of asparagus so that asparagus fits into 2 (1-quart) sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space.  Discard asparagus ends.  Divide salt and next 4 ingredients between jars.  Pack trimmed asparagus, pointed ends up, into jars.
2. Bring vinegar, sugar, and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Pour vinegar mixture over asparagus, filling to 1/2 inch from top.  (Fill jars with additional hot water, if needed.)  Remove air bubbles; wipe jar rims.  Cover with metal lids, and screw on bands.  Shake to combine, and chill 24 hours.  Store in refrigerator up to 1 month.

Makes 2 quarts

Monday, March 17, 2014

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread
Today, I made some Zucchini Bread.  I had some zucchini leftover from a previous recipe.  I don't add a lot of extra things to my Zucchini Bread like raisins, dried cranberries, chocolate chips - just pecans.  This bread doesn't need a whole lot of anything extra.  It has lots of cinnamon with a pinch of nutmeg to make this bread delicious.  Another secret ingredient that add a bit of zing is lemon zest.  I love what citrus zest does for baked goods.

No need to bring out the mixer for this recipe.  Everything is mixed together by hand in two mixing bowls.  In the first bowl, you put your eggs, olive oil, sugar, grated zucchini, vanilla extract and lemon zest.  Mix well.  The next bowl contains your dry ingredients plus your chopped pecans.  Combine the wet and dry ingredients and pour into two loaf pans that have been sprayed with some Baker's Joy.

Bake the loaves for about 50-60 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  cool and slice.

This bread comes out moist and the crust has a very slight crackle to it.  This bread is great plain, with butter, jam, peanut butter, cookie butter - whatever you prefer.

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans
Baker's Joy or similar product

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray two 8x4 inch loaf pans with Baker's Joy or similar product.  Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk.  Mix in the olive oil and sugar.  Add the zucchini, lemon zest, and vanilla extract.  Mix well and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add the pecans and mix.
4. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture.  Mix well.  Divide the batter into the prepared pans.

5. Bake loaves for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
6. Cool loaves in pan for 15 minutes.  Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
7. Store loaves in a Zip Lock bag to retain freshness.  

Makes 2 loaves

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pork Chops With Potatoes

Pork Chops With Potatoes
Today's recipe is one that you just throw together.  It is super easy, quick, and there is very little clean up.  Did I mention, that this is a delicious meal?  It is.  The pork chops are tender and not dry.  What helps with the wonderful flavor is slices of garlic are in the pork chops.  I cut a very small, shallow slits - 2 or 3 per chop in the chops and insert a small slice of garlic.

The potaotes are delicious.  They are baked in wine and broth along with the pork chops and some bacon.  They get an extra kick from the wine, the onions, and bacon.  Half of the potatoes and onions are arranged in the bottom of a lightly greased casserole.  Then the pork chops are put on tops of the potatoes followed by some scattered bacon over the chops.  Next, the remaining onions and potatoes are layered over the chops.  Some white wine is poured over the potatoes and chops.

I added a piece of parchment paper over the casserole and baked in a 325 degree oven.  About half way through  the baking, I added the chicken broth and baked the remaining time.   Take out of the oven and serve.  Be sure to get some cooking broth and spoon over the potatoes and chops.

Dinner is ready to enjoy:)

Pork Chops With Potatoes

6 pork chops
2 cloves of garlic sliced
Salt and Pepper
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 onion, sliced
4 slices bacon sliced crosswise about 1/4-inch thick
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray very lightly a 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.  Set aside
2. Cut 2-3 shallow slits in each pork chop.  Slide in a slice of garlic into the slits. Sprinkle the chops with salt and pepper.
3. Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.  Add chops being careful not to crowd the skillet.  Brown one side, turn and brown the other side - about 3 minutes per side.
4. Layer half of the potatoes and onions in the bottom on the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Lay the chops on top of the potatoes and onions.
5. Scatter the bacon over the chops.  Layer with the remaining potatoes and onions.  Sprinkle again with salt and pepper.  Pour the wine over the casserole.
6. Cut a piece of parchment to cover the  dish and lay it on top.  Bake about 1 hour 30 minutes.  Halfway through baking, remove the parchment, add the chicken stock, cover with parchment and bake the remaining time.
7. Remove from the oven and serve.

Makes 6  servings

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Baileys and Coffee

Baileys and Coffee

A treat I give myself as St. Patrick's Day is approaching is a good strong cup of coffee that has some Baileys Original Irish Cream.  I top the coffee  with some whipped cream then  I settle down with a good book and enjoy a satisfying cup of coffee.

This is a very simple cup of coffee to make.  You start of with some strong brewed coffee and add some Baileys to it and stir.   I brewed up some strong Blond Roast coffee but you can use your favorite.   You can top with whipped cream if you wish.   I like to because it give the coffee and extra creamy texture.  Make yourself a cup and enjoy:)

Baileys and Coffee

6 ounces strong brewed coffee
2 ounces Baileys Original Irish Cream
Whipped Cream - optional

1. Pour coffee and Baileys in a coffee mug.  Stir and top with whipped cream - if desired.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Two Tartines From La Croix Rouge

Tartine Saint-Germain
Our assignment this week in French Fridays With Dorie was  Two Tartines From La Croix Rouge.  La Croix Rouge is a cafe in Paris.   According to Dorie it is a very busy cafe with people waiting to cram into the cafe.  After making the Tartine Saint-Germain, I can see why.  This tartine was super easy, quick, and super delicious.  I would never have thought that a toasted slice of bread  smeared with mayonnaise, then topped with a thinly  sliced gherkin, two slices of roast beef, and seasoned with salt and pepper would be sooo good.

The second tartine used smoked salmon.  I did not make this one being that the family member who loves smoked salmon was out-of-town.  He has since returned so I will make this tartine for him soon.

As I said earlier, the Saint-Germain sandwich was so good, I made two and ate both of them.  No regrets -  just a happy stomach:)

This recipe can be found on pages 42-43 in "Around My French Table."

Friday, March 7, 2014

Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup
Soup makes a meal.  Especially this hearty Minestone soup that is loaded with veggies in a rich tomato broth.  Some of the vegetables I used were carrots, celery, a potato, kidney beans, and frozen green beans.   All vegetables the family will eat and I don't have picked out vegetables in napkins.  My family isn't very fond of tomatoes chunks, no matter how small, so I used a can of crushed tomatoes.    Instead of using pasta, I used some cooked rice in this soup.

I begin by cooking the carrots and celery in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil until they begin to soften.  I then add the minced garlic,  green beans along with some onion powder, crushed pepper flakes, a bay leaf,  some dried basil, salt, and pepper.  I cook about 3 minutes and then add the crushed tomatoes and the chicken broth along with the diced potato.  I bring the soup to a boil and cook about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.  Next add the  kidney beans and rice and heat about 10 minutes.  Taste and re season, if necessary.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with some shredded Parmesan cheese.  Serve with a crusty bread to mop up the broth.  

Minestrone Soup

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup sliced carrots
1 stalk celery diced
1 cup frozen green beans
4 cloves minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 (15 ounce) can red Kidney beans drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked long grain white rice
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese shredded

1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch Oven.  Add the carrots and celery and cook until the vegetables are beginning to soften - 5 minutes.
2. Stir in the green beans, minced garlic, bay leaf, onion powder, salt, dried basil, black pepper, and crushed pepper flakes.  Cook about 2 minutes.
3. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and the chicken broth.  Add the potatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
4. Add the kidney beans and the rice.  Stir and heat another 10 minutes.
5. Taste the soup and re season if necessary.  Ladle into bowls and top with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Makes 6 servings

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Pretzel Bun Breakfast Sandwich

Pretzel Bun Breakfast Sandwich
Breakfast foods are some of my favorites.   They are easy, quick, and appetizing.  Today's recipe is easy, quick and very tasty.  It is similar to a biscuit breakfast sandwich but jazzed up a bit.

The original recipe stated to use biscuits but I had some Pretzel slider buns on hand so I used them.  I started by butter toasting the buns.  Butter toasted buns make everything better. On the bottom half of the buns you spread some Pimiento Cheese.  You can find a recipe for some delicious Pimiento Cheese Spread here.  The other half of the bun is spread with some pepper jelly.  I love Pepper jelly.    Spoon some scrambled eggs on the bottom, cover with the top and you have a wonderful breakfast.

Eat at home or on the run.  To me that is a big plus with a family always in a rush to get going in the morning.

Pretzel Bun Breakfast Sandwich
Adapted From Family Circle Magazine


4 Pretzel Slider Buns, split and toasted (toasting is optional) or 4 warm split biscuits
4 eggs
2 tablespoons half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 tablespoons Pimiento Cheese Spread
4 teaspoons Pepper Jelly


1. Whisk the eggs, half-and-half, salt and pepper in a bowl.
2. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Stir in the eggs and cook until just scrambled.
3. Spread  the bottom halves of the buns or biscuits with 2 tablespoons of the Pimiento Cheese spread.

4. Spread the tops of the buns or biscuits with 1 teaspoon Pepper Jelly.
5. Spoon the eggs on the bottom halves and cover with the top halves.

Makes 4 servings.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Pâté of the South: Pimiento Cheese Spread

Pimiento Cheese Spread

Pâté of the South is what this delicious Pimiento Cheese Spread is often called.   You can find it in grocery stores or you can make it yourself.  I like making my own.  It is very simple to make and requires little time.  Two different types of cheese are used, extra-sharp Cheddar, and sharp cheddar.  I used Cracker Barrel brand cheese when I make my spread.  I love the flavor this brand of  cheese has.

Another important ingredient used is mayonnaise.  It is advised that you use a high quality mayonnaise.  To begin making this spread you combine the mayonnaise, diced pimiento, Worcestershire sauce, the onion, and the red pepper in a bowl.  Next you stir in the cheese.  That's it.  Your spread is ready to eat.

Do not be fooled, this spread is not just for sandwiches.  You can use it to stuff celery, on burgers, eggs biscuits,  scones, dip, cookies, rolls, and deviled eggs.  The possibilities are endless -  just use your imagination.

Basic Pimiento Cheese Spread
From Southern Living Magazine

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 (4-oz.) jar diced pimiento, drained
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. finely grated onion
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1 (8-oz.) block extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, finely shredded
1 (8-oz.) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1. Stir together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in cheese. Store in refrigerator up to 1 week.