Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Dinner '07

Merry Christmas!
We spent a wonderful but quiet Christmas with just our family this year. So I decided to keep our dinner simple too. Our menu of Ham, Scalloped Potatoes, Stuffing, Cranberries, Green Beans, Cheddar Bay Biscuits (think of your favorite seafood place!), and homemade apple pie was a raving success with my family! Now I say simple, but yes, everything was homemade and I started cooking the day before. Still, my kids ate everything!!! That is what a call a successful dinner!
Super Cheese Scalloped Potatoes
  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 4 slices provolone cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (fresh, not the stuff in the can!)


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 1 1/2 quart or larger casserole dish with butter or nonstick spray.
  2. Layer half of the potato slices in the bottom of the casserole dish. Dot with half of the butter cut or pinched into small pieces. Arrange half of the garlic slices over the potatoes, then pour half of the heavy cream over. Sprinkle one cup of Cheddar cheese over the layer, and season with salt and pepper. Repeat layering of potatoes, garlic, cream and Cheddar cheese, then top with the slices of provolone cheese. Season again with salt and pepper.
  3. Bake for 1/2 hour in the preheated oven, then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top. This will create a semi-hard cheese crust. Continue baking uncovered for another 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender when tested with a fork.

Amandine Green Beans


  • 1 pound fresh or frozen green beans, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt


  1. In a saucepan, bring beans and water to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the beans are crisp-tender; drain and set aside. In a large skillet, cook almonds in butter over low heat. Stir in lemon juice and seasoned salt if desired. Add beans and heat through.

Cheddar Bay Biscuits


  • 4 cups baking mix
  • 3 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the baking mix, cheese, and water. Mix until dough is firm. Using a small scoop, place dough on the prepared pan.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown.
  4. Combine the melted butter, garlic powder, salt, onion powder and parsley. Brush over baked biscuits immediately upon removing from oven.

Grandma's Apple Pie


  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie**
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 8 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and sliced


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.
  2. Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work of crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.
  3. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.

**You can use a pre-made pie crust, found in the refrigerated section near the Pillsbury cans of biscuits, or you can use the recipe below that I used. You need time to make good pie crust, so plan to start the pie the day before!

Butter Flaky Pie Crust


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
  • 1/4 cup ice water


  1. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Roll dough out to fit a 9 inch pie plate. Place crust in pie plate. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of the pie plate.

Perfect Pie Crust tips!! - keep it cold & work it sparingly. Here's how: Chill water with ice cubes and set aside in refrigerator. Cut very cold unsalted butter into cubes & cut it in the flour with a pastry blender (or pulse in food processor) until it resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer to large bowl & gently toss water into crumbs 1 tsp at a time with a fork. Do not use food processor to incorporate water - it's too easy to overwork the dough. The dough should have small bits of butter - this makes the crust flaky. Cool off hands under cold water, pat dry, gather the crumbs into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate. Previously, I over-worked the dough, used too much water, and/or didn't keep the dough cold enough, which made the crust tough and soggy. *update* You'll probably need to roll out the dough twice. First roll out is usually crumbly, uneven, and has large breaks. Gently gather in edges to form another ball and roll out again. Smooth, round, even crust should be easier the second roll out.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pomegranate Margaritas

Can alcohol be good tasting and good for you? OK, that might be stretching it a little, but pomegranates are high in anti-oxidants. So this has to be a tiny bit good for you...right?? A girl can dream...


  • 4 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup lime juice
  • 4 tbsp. orange-flavor liqueur
  • 1 cup 80 proof tequila


  1. Pour pomegranate juice into ice cube trays. Freeze until solid, about 2 hours. Pop cubes from tray.

  2. In a blender, combine lime juice, liqueur, and tequila. Turn blender to highest speed and gradually drop in juice cubes, whirling until slushy.

  3. Pour margaritas into glasses

serves 8 (ahem, or 2 if you are a tequila fan...like me!)

Tip: You can freeze the pomegranate juice cubes a day or two ahead. For juice, whirl pomegranate seeds in a blender or food processor, then pour through a fine strainer into a container. Serve margaritas in salt-rimmed glasses.

Mississippi Mud Cake

Healthy? No. Yummy? YES!! This is a fun dessert to bring to other people's homes for the holidays.


  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon whiskey
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Heavy cream, for serving


  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the whiskey, sugar, chocolate and water. Stir over low heat until the chocolate is just melted and the mixture is smooth. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together and gradually beat into the chocolate mixture. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.
  3. Pour the mixture into a greased and line and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Leave the cake in the pan for 15 minutes before turning out to cool.
  4. Serve warm or cold with cream and decorated with a sprig of mint, if desired

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Swedish Sugar Cookies

This is a recipe that has been in my family a long time. It is my favorite sugar cookie recipe, although it is not a cookie cutter recipe (which I adore - you should see my collection!!). This is a prepare ahead recipe, as the dough does need to be chilled. I promise, it's worth it! I often sprinkle colored sugar on these before I bake them for a splash of color (particularly at Christmas time!!)

  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c butter, softened
  • 1 c canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 1/2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Mix sugars with eggs, butter, vanilla and oil. Set aside
  2. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Blend well, and gradually mix into sugar mix. Mix well.
  3. Refrigerate dough until firm.
  4. Form by the TBS into balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  5. Flatten with a glass that has been buttered and dipped in granulated sugar.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool on a rack.
  7. DO NOT OVER BAKE - cookies should look almost done when you take them out of the oven.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Double Chocolate Cookies

Another divine cookie recipe!! For a real treat, serve these with a scoop of peppermint ice cream - YUMMY!!

  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, frozen for 10 minutes
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 5 1/4 ounces (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  1. Grate the chilled chocolate with a fine grater or rasp and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and sea salt.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until just combined. Mix in the yolk. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and beat lightly together until just combined but still crumbly. Fold in grated chocolate with a spatula. Bring the dough together by lightly squeezing in your hands; but don't knead or overwork, as the secret to these cookies is their delicate, sandy texture.
  4. Divide the dough in half. Lay half the dough on a long sheet of waxed paper and shape into a log along the width of the waxed paper, leaving some space at each end. Pull the paper over the top of the log. Grip the edge of the top piece of paper, and use a straight, firm edge, like a ruler or the edge of a pan, to press gently against the edge of the dough where the papers come together to create a solid, firm round log. Repeat with remaining dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (To keep logs round store inside an empty paper towel roll.)
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Slice logs into 1/2-inch thick rounds with a sharp, thin knife. Divide rounds onto the prepared sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them, and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  7. Bake until cookies smell fragrant with a full cocoa aroma and set on the outside, about 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pans, about 5 minutes.
  8. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool completely. Serve.

Busy baker's tips: Dough can be made and frozen for up to 2 weeks. Store baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Baked cookies can be wrapped in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil and frozen for up to 2 weeks.

Cook's note: For super uniform cookies, place each sliced disk of dough in a muffin tin and bake. The cookies will be chewier, less sandy this way.

Copyright 2007 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I made these today for my annual Christmas party this morning, and these are DIVINE! I had to share...

These Tuscan cookies are a Christmas classic. They're nutty, lacy and crisp, as well as deceptively simple to make. Drizzling them with chocolate turns them into the perfect holiday indulgence.

  • 1 3/4 cups sliced, blanched almonds (about 5 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Topping, optional:

  • 2 to 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  2. Pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely chopped, but not pasty. Stir together the nuts, flour, zest and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Put the sugar, cream, corn syrup and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a rolling boil and sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, then pour mixture into almond mixture and stir just to combine. Set aside until cool enough to handle, 30 minutes.
  4. Scoop rounded teaspoons (for 3-inch cookies) or rounded tablespoons (for 6-inch cookies) of batter and roll into balls. Place on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 3 to 4 inches between each cookie since they spread.
  5. Bake 1 pan at a time, until the cookies are thin and an even golden brown color throughout, rotating pans halfway through baking time, about 10 to 11 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve.
  6. Optional chocolate topping: Put the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with 1 inch or so of water to a very low simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth. (Alternatively, put the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Melt at 50 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 1 minute. Stir, and continue heat until completely melted, about 1 to 2 minutes more.)
  • For sandwiches: Drop about 1/2 teaspoon chocolate onto on the flat side of half of the cookies and press together with remaining halves. Return to rack and let chocolate set.
  • For chocolate decor: Drizzle melted chocolate over Florentines as desired. Set aside at room temperature until chocolate is set.

Busy baker's tips: Store baked cookies carefully, separated by parchment or waxed paper, in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. Florentines are best stored separated from moist cookies and cakes.

Copyright (c) 2007 Television Food Network, G.P., All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oven Roasted Red Potatoes

Yes, another Paula Deen recipe. Well, I've made this before, but I like how she pares the strip in the center of the potato so that the flavor of the olive oil and rosemary will blossom into the potato (hey, I really sound like I know what I'm talking about, don't I?!) These are yummy!!

  • 1 1/2 pounds small new red potatoes (about 15), scrubbed and dried
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 4 to 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Pare a narrow strip of peel from the middle of each potato. In a large bowl mix the oil, garlic, and rosemary; add the potatoes and toss well. Transfer the potatoes to a shallow baking pan and roast until potatoes are tender when tested with the tip of a knife. Serve hot. These can also be chilled and served with fried chicken or ham.

Green Bean Bundles

OK. I am not a vegetable lover. I know, I know, they're good for me, they're good for my waist line, blah blah. Green beans, in particular, are my arch nemesis. That being said, if I really like these!! Of course, they're fried...oops, so not terribly healthy. But a fried green bean has got to be better than no green beans, right? Come on, work with me here....these are from the fabulous Paula Deen!

  • 1 pound fresh green beans
  • 1 bunch green onions, cut into strips
  • 2 tablespoons House Seasoning, recipe follows
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk Oil, for frying

House Seasoning:

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup black pepper
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder


  1. Bundle about 5 green beans by tying in the center with a green onion strip. Combine house seasoning and flour. Dip green beans in buttermilk and roll into flour mixture.
  2. In a deep frying pan or Dutch oven, fry in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

**House Seasoning - Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Lemon Bars

My mom used to make these for me when I was a little girl, and they have long been a favorite. My friend Katie swore she hated all things lemon, until I made these bars for her. Yes, they are THAT good!

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing


  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch pan.
  2. Make the crust by combining the flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter to make a crumbly mixture. Press the mixture into the prepared pan. You may need to dip your fingers into a little flour or confectioners' sugar to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers. Bake for 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, to make the filling, mix the eggs, granulated sugar, flour, and lemon juice. Pour this over the baked crust and bake for 25 minutes longer. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, if desired, when the bars are done.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pumpkin Stew

Yes, everyone questions this dish when I tell them about it. But realy, it's amazingly delicious! I serve this with fresh sourdough bread or rolls. It's pleasantly filling, and perfect for a cold night.

  • 1 TBS Olive Oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 TBS dried basil
  • 2 lbs lean pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch cubes**
  • (1) 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • (1) 28 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • (1) 14.5 oz. can vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup white zinfandel
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 5 Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups fresh green beans, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 cinnamon stick


  1. HEAT olive oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and basil; cook for 1 minute or until onion is tender. Add pork; cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Add tomatoes with juice, pumpkin, broth, wine, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
  2. ADD potatoes, green beans and cinnamon stick. Cover; cook over low heat for 1 hour or until potatoes are tender. Remove cinnamon stick before serving.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Basil Chicken and Pasta

Monday nights can be insanely busy at my house. My boys have their Boy Scout meeting, and often, my daughter has some function for Girl Scouts. Trying to get everyone fed before we head out the door can be challenging, to say the least. This past Monday was no exception. I had chicken out, but I was really tired of my chicken and rice stand by. When I cam across this recipe, I thought it had the possibility to be good, but the original recipe needed some work. Bland food is not something my family is big on! With a few tweeks, this dish came out great, and was still pretty fast to get to the table!


1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken (breasts or thighs will work) cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 TBS olive oil

12 oz. rotini or baby penne**

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup fresh or frozen broccoli

(2) 4 oz. cans of sliced mushrooms, drained

2 tsp lemon pepper

4 tsp dried basil

2 1/2 cups of milk

8 oz. cream cheese, cubed**

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese


  1. In a large pot, cook pasta according to directions. Set aside.

  2. In a large skillet, add olive oil, chicken, garlic, broccoli, mushrooms, and 1 tsp of the dried basil. Cook until the juices run clear.

  3. In a sauce pan, add milk, lemon pepper, remaining basil, cubed cream cheese and paremesan cheese. Stir frequently until the ingredients are well incorporated. Sauce should be slightly thick.

  4. Add sauce to chicken mixture. Add pasta and toss. Serve immediately.

**Barilla makes an awesome baby Penne

**I use Kraft light cream cheese to cut back on the fat and calories, but you can use regular if you want!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Marinated Garden Tomatoes

I am not a big fan of raw tomatoes. I cook with them all the time, but 'fresh' tomatoes usually do nothing for me. Except this recipe!!! I could eat these tomatoes 3-4 times a week and never get tired of them. I know that tomatoes are going out of season for much of the US, but I had to post this anyway.

  • 6 large tomatoes, cut into slices or wedges
  • 1/2 c. thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/3 c. olive or canola oil
  • 1/4 c. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 c. minced fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 TBS fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. coarsely ground pepper


  1. Place tomatoes and onions in a shallow serving bowl.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, parsley, garlic, salt, thyme, and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Pour over tomatoes.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight

serves 10

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bisto French Onion Soup

Fall keeps teasing us here on the west coast. We have these fantastically cool evenings and mornings, a few days of lovely cool weather (hey, when summer averaged 105, 72 feels really cool!) we've also had some days in the 80's to remind us that this is not normal weather for our area! This soup, however, is fantastic for those cool evenings. My husband was even pleasantly surprised to find that it's very filling too. Go figure!

3 large onions, sliced and separated into rings
1/4 c butter, melted
2 TBS flour
5 1/2 c water
3/4 c dry white wine
1/2 c red wine
4 chicken bouillon cubes
4 beef bouillon cubes
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp sage
1/4 tsp pepper
4 slices toasted, french bread, cubed
4 slices Monterrey jack cheese

  1. Saute the onions in a Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring frequently, about 15-20 minutes or until golden. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add water, white wine, red wine, bouillon cubes, bay leaves, salt, sage, and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Discard bay leaves.
  3. Ladle soup into 4 individual oven-proof soup bowls. Place on a baking sheet. Add a slice of toasted cubed french bread to each bowl and cover with a slice of cheese. Broil for 4 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Serve immediately

Serves 4

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Glazed Apple Strudel

Today, I heard that there is supposed to be rain in our forecast by the end of the week. Our fall like weather continues (OK, it's 88 here, but after 110 all summer, 88 is fantastic) here, and so I was inspired to look for a fall desert that was a little more Weight Watchers friendly. Ta da! Of course, I may have cheated a bit - it's in my weight watchers magazine :o)

1 granny smith or Winesap apple, peeled and thinly sliced
1 golden delicious or Fuji apple, peeled and thinly sliced
3 TBS granulated sugar
3 TBS dried cranberries
2 TBS all purpose flour
1 TBS grated lemon zest
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
6 (9x14) sheets frozen phyllo, thawed
6 TBS confectioners sugar
2 tsp apple cider

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray
  2. To prepare the filling, combine the apples, granulated sugar, cranberries, flour, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Keep the thawed phyllo dough covered with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.
  4. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough on a work space; lightly spray with nonstick spray. Repeat, layering the remaining 5 sheets and spraying each one lightly with nonstick spray. Spoon the filling in a 3-inch wide band evenly across the long side of the phyllo near you, leaving a 2-inch border on each short side. Fold the short sides over the filling and gently roll up to enclose the filling.
  5. Place the strudel, seam side down, on the baking sheet. Lightly spray with nonstick spray and with a sharp knife lightly score the top of the strudel diagonally to indicate 4 portions, being careful not to cut all the way through. Bake the strudel until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, to make the glaze, combine the confectioners sugar and cider in a small bowl; beat with a whisk until smooth. Drizzle over the strudel; slice and serve warm!

201 calories,

serves 4 - 4 points per serving.

** Note! To thaw phyllo dough quickly, cut one end of the wrapper. Microwave on Defrost for 1 minute. Cover the open end and let stand for 30 minutes.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Spiced Butter Cookies

Fall is around the corner. Usually, we stay hot until late October. But this year, there's already been a slight cooling trend in the weather. I can only hope it will continue! But just to tease, here's a great fall cookie for you :o)

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup of sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract (real extract is MUCH better than imitation for these!)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cardamon
2 cups flour

1. Beat the butter, sugar, egg and spices in a large bowl until light and fluffy (an electric mixer is really ideal for this). Gradually add in flour until well incorporated. Refrigerate for one hour.
2. Preheat oven to 350.
3. Shape dough into one inch balls . Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork.
4. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden around edges. Cool on a wire rack for until they are completely cool.

First, let me state that I do not sell Pampered Chef and I am not endorsing them in any way. That being said, I think they are the BEST. I use their baking stone for all my cookies, and it's almost impossible to burn them. Also, they have a dough scoop that I swear by - they come in 3 sizes, and the medium sized one is perfect for this recipe. Here are some links to the products I'm talking about, straight from their web site:

Friday, September 07, 2007

Mimi's Cafe Buttermilk Spice Muffins

Mmmh, almost as good as their bran muffins, these are a treat I indulge in only once in a great while!

Buttermilk Spice Muffins
Muffin Batter:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspsoons baking soda
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon buttermilk

Nut Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg


Grease the baking tins with butter or margarine


Preheat oven to 375°. In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and the butter together with an electric mixer. When they are thoroughly mixed, add eggs and beat one more minute.

Sift the flour into a separate bowl, together with the baking soda, nutmeg and the cinnamon.

Add the flour and the buttermilk to the first mixture, mix at low speed until smooth. To avoid lumps in the batter, add the wet and dry ingredients alternately, in small amounts.

Make the nut toppping: Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.

Grease muffin tins with butter or margarine. You can also use paper baking cups. Fill each cup 3/4 full of batter. Add a full, rounded tablespoon of nut topping on top of each muffin cup of batter. Bake immediately or the topping will sink to the bottom of the muffin.

Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. A toothpick inserted in the middle of the muffin should come out dry. Home ovens heat differently from commercial ovens so you may need to adjust the temperature or the baking time accordingly.

Recipe yields 12 standard-size muffins, or six Mimis size muffins. If using the jumbo muffin pans, reduce the oven temperature by 25° and increase the baking time 5-10 minutes.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tortellini Primavera

I recently made this yummy dish for my family. By making a few simple changes to the basic recipe, I made a healthier version for my family. Even my kids enjoyed it!

(1) 19 oz. package frozen cheese tortellini
1/2 lb. sliced fresh mushrooms
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS olive oil
2/3 c. 1% milk
1 package low-fat cram cheese, cubed
1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 TBS Italian seasoning
1 large tomato, chopped
1/3 c shredded Parmesan cheese

  1. cook the tortellini according to the package directions.
  2. While the tortellini are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Saute the mushrooms, onion and garlic until tender. Stir in the milk; heat through. Stir in cubed cream cheese until well blended. Add the spinach and Italian seasoning; heat through.
  3. Drain the tortellini. Add to sauce mixture and toss well to coat. Add chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

341 calories for every 1.25 cup serving.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Unflattering Comments

Today I received a post from one Edward Foster. Apparently, he viewed my frosting recipe then scoured my sewing blog, and felt it was necessary to remark how "fat" he thought I was and should I be eating frosting on cake.

First and foremost. I am happy with who I am Mr. Foster. Whatever weight issues you perceive that I have are entirely your own. If you don't have something nice to say, kindly refrain from saying anything at all...your post has been denied, and any future posts will be as well.

Mrs. Mike

Friday, August 24, 2007

Easy White or Chocolate Frosting

OK, you've made this really yummy cake. Do you buy icing, or make it "really from scratch"? Personally, lol, I tend to buy icing. But every once in a great while, I will even make the icing from scratch too. Here's the recipe that works for me. Please note you will need to double it if you are making a 3 layer cake!

3 TBS butter, softened (really, margarine is disgusting, don't cheat)
2 c. sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. vanilla, almond, or lemon extract (pick your flavor choice!)

  1. Cream the butter. Gradually add the powdered sugar, salt, and flavoring.

If this icing seems to thin to you, add more sifted powdered sugar (sifting it makes it SO smooth and creamy). If it's too thick, add a little milk (no more than a tsp. at a time).

To make this chocolate icing, add (3) 1 oz. squares of melted bakers chocolate and cut the butter down to 2 TBS.

Happy Birthday Cake

My friend Miranda emailed me about a wonderful but complicated cake she made "from scratch" for her DH for his birthday this week. Of course, lol, this is now the only cake he wants for his birthday forever! It reminded me of my little brother, who has always hated boxed cake mixes. I made this recipe for him when he was about 7 years old, and I had to make it every year until I moved away to go to college! The nice thing is, this is an easy recipe!

1 c. butter - no substitutes
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
1 tsp baking powder
3 cups flour
1 cup milk
4 egg whites, beaten stiff with a dash of salt

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and fluff and add the vanilla. Then add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition.
  2. Measure the baking powder into the flour, and sift a little into the creamed mixture. Add the flour and milk alternately, beating as you do so (if you start and end with flour, I think there's a finer texture!)
  3. Beat the cake batter until a few air bubbles show.
  4. Fold in the egg whites. DO NOT BEAT THE BATTER ONCE THE EGG WHITES ARE FOLDED IN (sorry to yell, but if you over mix the batter, it comes out really dense and heavy - who needs that in a cake?!)
  5. Pour into either a 9 x 13" rectangular pan or (3) 8-9" round layer cake pans.
  6. Bake 30-35 minutes at 350. Test with a toothpick.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Soft Peach Sangria

Yummy, yummy, yummy!

1/2 c. white zinfandel
1 1/2 oz. peach schnapps
2 oz. pineapple juice
1/2 c. 7-Up

  1. In a 16 oz. glass with ice
  2. Add the wine, peach schnapps, and pineapple juice. Then add the 7-up to fill the glass.
  3. Add a wedge of lime and orange to garnish. Serve with a straw!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Fajita Salad

I think this would also taste great if you substituted chicken, but DH requested beef, and so I stuck with the recipe. This had an amazing flavor for only marinating 10 minutes!

  • 1/2 c lime juice
  • 4 TBS minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
  • 1 medium green pepper, julienned***
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, julienned
  • 1 medium onion, sliced and halved
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 8 cups torn mixed salad greens
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 c low-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 c salsa (the fresh kind, not the jar type)


  1. In a large Ziploc bag, combine the lime juice, cilantro, garlic and chili powder; add beef. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 10 minutes, turning once.
  2. Meanwhile, in a nonstick skillet, cook the peppers and onion in oil over medium heat for 5 minutes or until tender. Remove and set aside. Add beef with marinade to the skillet; cook and stir for 4-5 minutes or until meat is tender and mixture comes to a boil. Add pepper mixture; heat through.
  3. Divide the salad greens and tomato among 8 bowl; top with 1 1/4 cups beef mixture, 1 TBS sour cream and 1 1/2 tsp salsa.

Serves 8

*** I cheat when it comes to bell peppers. My local market carries a bag of mixed peppers (red, yellow, orange and green) in the frozen section, already julienned. Not only is this a huge time saver for me, but it's actually cost effective. I used only half a bag of peppers for this dinner. I added it in straight from the freezer!

Grilled Pork with Avacado Salsa

WOW, was this delicious!! Usually I'm gracious, and let DH take the leftovers to work for his lunch, because being at home, I have a much wider variety to choose from - whatever is in the fridge/pantry! But this time, I claimed seconds for myself.

  • 1/2 c chopped sweet onion (I used sweet vidalia)
  • 1/2 c lime juice
  • 1/4 c chopped seeded jalapeno peppers
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 4 tsp ground cumin
  • boneless pork chops - enough to feed your family (6 chops is about right for this, or you will need to double the marinade)


  • 2 medium ripe avocados, peeled and chopped
  • 2 plum (Roma) tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 TBS minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 TBS honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 TBS jalapeno pepper jelly


  1. In a small bow, combine the first five ingredients. Pour 1/2 c. marinade into a large Ziploc bag; add the pork. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 45 minutes to 2 hours. Reserve 1/3 cup of remaining marinade. Place the rest of the marinade in a large bowl and add the avocados, tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, cilantro, honey, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the jelly and reserved marinade. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  3. Prepare your grill. Drain and discard marinade from pork. Grill, uncovered, over medium heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until juices run clear, brushing occasionally with jelly mixture. Serve with avocado salsa. Yields 6 servings.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Grilled Basil Chicken and Tomatoes

My biggest challenging with eating better is vegetables. I am simply not a fan of them. I have a few that I like (and the odd ones at that) but for the most part, if I never eat another veggie, I would be fine with that. That, of course, will not help my weight go down. So I'm looking for meals that actually taste good, veggies and all.

Which is why this recipe is fantastic!! I wasn't sure, but I decided to try it. Delicious. Not only did I enjoy it, but the kids AND the DH gave it a thumbs up. How often does that happen?

8 plum tomatoes
3/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. tightly backed fresh basil - no substitutions
2 TBS olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 TSP salt
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts


1. Cut four tomatoes into quarters and place in a food processor. Add vinegar, basil, oil, garlic and salt; cover and process until blended.

2. Pour 1/2 c. dressing into a small bowl; cover and refrigerate until serving. Pour remaining dressing into a large Ziploc bag; add chicken. Refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

3. Prepare grill rack. Drain and discard marinade. Grill chicken, covered, over medium heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until juices run clear. Cut remaining tomatoes in half; grill for 2-3 minutes on each side or until tender. Serve with chicken and reserved dressing.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Lemon Loaf

Despite the fact that I am working dilligently on loosing weight, I still enjoy a cup of coffee and a sweet treat on occasion in the morning. I've found I do much better treating myself on occasion, than I do with depriving myself. This is a yummy recipe I found that tastes almost identical to Starbucks Lemon Loaf!

  • 1 1/2 c. flour **
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 TBS butter (no substitutes)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp. lemon extract
  • 1/3 c. lemon juice
  • 1/2 c. canola oil

Lemon Icing:

  • 1 cup plus 
  • 1 TBS powdered sugar
  • 2 TBS milk
  • 1 tsp lemon extract


  1. preheat oven to 350
  2. combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  3. in a medium mixing bowl, blend eggs, sugar, extracts, butter, and lemon juice.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients in the large mixing bowl. Blend well. Add canola oil. Blend until smooth.
  5. Pour ingredients into a greased loaf pan (9x5 is what I use) Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. While the loaf is baking, mix the ingredients for the icing. Use an electric mixer to blend until smooth. After the lemon loaf has cooled, remove it from the pan and top with the icing. After the icing has set up, slice and enjoy!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Caribbean Grilled Chicken

1 limed, juiced
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Dole Peach Orange Mango Juice
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 TSP salt
1 TSP pepper
1 TBS chili powder
1 1/2 TSP onion powder
1 1/2 TSP garlic powder
1 TBS paprika
1/2 TSP ground cumin
1 TSP ground ginger
1 pinch red pepper flakes
3 TBS olive or canola oil
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1. Whisk together lime juice, vinegar, fruit juice, wine, and honey in a bowl until the honey dissolves. Add salt, pepper, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, ginger, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and olive oils; whisk to mix. Place chicken breasts into a resealable plastic bag, pour in marinade, and coat well. Marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

2. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat and lightly oil grate. (I use a Foreman Grill sometimes!)

3. Remove chicken from marinade and shake off excess. Use remaining marinade to baste chicken on grill. Cook chicken on preheated grill approximately 5 to 7 minutes per side, or until juices run clear and there is no signs of pink in the meat.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Chicken with Fresh Tomato Sauce

This was AMAZING! I was expecting it be sort of italian tasting, which is ok, but this was way better. Again, even my kids enjoyed it. High praise indeed.

Chicken with Fresh Tomato Sauce (WW recipe)

1 tsp. olive oil4
(1/4 lb) skinless boneless chicken breasts
2 tsp. chopped
/2 tsp. salt
1 large shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 T. balsamic vinegar
6 plum tomatoes, diced
1/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 c. chopped basil

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with the rosemary and salt, then add to the skillet. Saute the chicken until browned and cooked through, 3-4 minutes on each side. Transfer the chicken to a platter. Let stand 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the shallot and garlic to the same skillet. Cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the vinegar, stirring to scrape up the browned bits and cook until the vinegar is almost evaporated.Stir in the tomatoes and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the tomatoes just begin to soften,about 3 minutes. Stir in the basil. Spoon the sauce over the chicken.Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 167 calories and 4 points5 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 62 mg cholesterol, 360 mg sodium, 5g total carbohydrates, 1 g dietary fiber, 26 g protein, 31 mg calcium

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Hot Gazpacho

I made this the other night for dinner. My husband and 2 out of 4 kids just loved it. We don't eat many vegetarian meals, but this was really good.

1 medium green pepper(s), seeded and chopped
1 small cucumber(s), peeled, seeded and sliced
1 medium onion(s), chopped
3 medium tomato(es), seeded and chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, packed leaves
3 cup mixed-vegetable juice, tangy
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp hot pepper sauce, or to taste
1 oz fresh sage

In a food processor, finely chop pepper, cucumber and onion and transfer to a large nonstick saucepan. In a food processor, finely chop tomatoes and cilantro and add to pepper mixture. Stir vegetable juice, vinegar, oil and garlic into tomato mixture. Add ground pepper and stir. Heat soup to serving temperature then add hot pepper sauce.

***I served this with a loaf of fresh french bread from the market and a side salad

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Healthy Cheese Enchiladas

This is great meal, and is vegetarian to boot! Who knew that enchiladas could be made healthier and still taste good!

10 oz. chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
15 oz. part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 TBS dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 medium whole wheat tortillas, low fat
1/2 cup salsa (I use Rojo's Fire Roasted, it's divine!)
1 cup shredded reduced fat Mexican cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 13x11 pan with cooking spray

Combine spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, onion, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl; mix well. Spoon 1/4 cup of spinach mixture onto center of each tortilla. Roll up tortillas, fold in ends and place side by side in prepared baking pan. Spoon salsa over tortillas and sprinkle with Mexican cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese is golden.

Serves 8

White Bean & Ground Turkey Chili

I am not a fan of chili with beans, usually. Probably because I detest kidney beans. I made this for Super Bowl Sunday, so my family could graze all day. It was gone in a matter of minutes! I will be doubling this next time. We really enjoyed this healthier chili.

2 lb. ground turkey
1 lg. onion, finely chopped
3 medium cloves of garlic, minced
3 cans of vegetable broth (I used Swanson's)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
30 oz. canned white beans, drained and rinsed
3 TBS fresh lime juice
1/4 cup cilantro, fresh, coarsely chopped


Cook the turkey, onion, and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat, for about 10 minutes or until done. Drain off any fat

Add turkey and remaining ingredients to a large pot or slow cooker. If cooking on the stove, bring to a rolling boil; lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes. In a slow cooker, cook on low for 4 hours.

1 cup per serving.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

BBQ Turkey Joes

I've always had sloppy joes from a canned mix...and didn't like it. Then I came across a homemade version, and discovered how good they could be. Except my new recipe wasn't compatible with my diet program (and if I'm going to splurge on points, it's going to be on chocolate!) So I came across this recipe, and I think it's a yummy alternative.

Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 10 min
Cooking Time: 15 min

-1 pound lean ground turkey
-1/2 medium bell pepper(s), chopped
-1/2 medium sweet red pepper(s), chopped
-1/2 medium onion(s), chopped
-1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
-1 cup barbecue sauce (BullsEye Sweet & Sticky is yummy)
-4 medium whole wheat hamburger roll(s), sliced in half


Brown turkey in a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain off liquid. Add peppers and onion and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add barbecue sauce and cayenne pepper; heat thoroughly, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Top bottom half of buns with turkey mixture; cover with top half of bun and serve.

Hamburger Soup

I know, you're thinking "how is this healthy"? Not only is it healthy, it's delicious!

Cook: 1 1/4 hours
Yield: 8 servings
- 1.5 lbs lean ground beef
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 can 28 oz. diced tomatoes, undrained
- 3 cans low sodium beef broth
- 1 cup water
- 4 celery ribs, thinly sliced
- 4 large carrots, thinly sliced
- 10 whole peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup quick-cooking barley***
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
In a large saucepan (a Dutch oven is great if you have one), cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomatoes, broth, and water. Add celery and carrots.
Place peppercorns on a double thickness of cheesecloth**; bring up corners of cloth and tie with kitchen string to form a bag. Add to beef mixture.
Stir in thyme and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.Return to a boil. Stir in barley. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until barley is tender. Remove from the heat; stir in parsley. Let stand for 5 minutes. Discard spice bag.
***I couldn't find quick cooking barley at my store. Instead, I soaked regular barley in the beef broth the night before. It cooked up perfect that way, and the regular barley is really inexpensive, an added bonus!
***I realized half way through making this that I was out of cheesecloth. I let the peppercorns float on the top, and pulled them out towards the end. This was more than a little time consuming. Next time, I'll put fresh cracked pepper in, and skip it.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Spaghetti with Tomato Meat Sauce

Ah, the first of the year. Like many of you, my resolutions this year include loosing some weight (ok, it's actually my ONLY resolution, but that's a mute point) I have gone back on weight watchers, and joined a gym

So for now, my recipes will be HEALTHY recipes. Now now, no groans. You know you all made the same resolution on weight loss. At least I can share recipes that taste good while your loosing weight (with myself and family as the test subjects!).

2 tsp olive oil
1 large onino, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. uncooked lean ground beef (preferably 7% fat)
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, crushed
1/2 tsp dried basil
3 cups cooked whole-wheat spaghetti

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet (I actually use an electric skillet) over medium high heat. Add onion and carrot. Cook, stirring constantly. When onions are becoming translucent, add garlic. Cook for another minute or two.
2. Add ground beef to skillet. Cook until meet is well crumbled (use a spatula to help break up clumps).
3. Stir in tomatoes, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and basil. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, simmering sauce for 5 minutes. Sauce should slightly thicken after simmering.
4. Spoon sauce over cooked, hot pasta

***For my family of six voracious eaters, I increase the ground beef to 1.5 lbs and two cans of crushed tomatoes. Adjust seasoning to taste!