Daily Tidbits

It's the first day of school. The house is quiet...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sometimes you just need Peanut Butter

Image Source

And sometimes, you need to take that giant spoon of peanut butter and dip it into a little cup of chocolate chips.  Just sayin'!

Monday, August 18, 2014


Printable Recipe

2 lbs ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
¼ cup tomato sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
½ cup tomato juice (I just fill the tomato sauce can with water and call it good)
1 ½ T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. brown sugar
1 ½ T. vinegar
2 T. liquid smoke
1 T. chili powder
1 T. smoked paprika
1 T. cumin
2 cups water
5-6 slices bacon, diced and cooked
1/2-1 T. minced garlic
roasted red pepper flakes, to taste

In a skillet, cook the bacon and onion until done.  Drain and set aside.  In a soup pot, brown the ground beef and onion together. Drain. Add the remaining ingredients, including the bacon and onion mixture and simmer for several hours.

You can also cook it all together and then dump it in the crock pot so it simmers until you're ready to eat.

Serve over Rice Pilaf.

Holly's Note:
The Doctor wanted chili one night and I didn't really have a chili recipe to use.  He really likes Texas Roadhouse chili though and while this one isn't exactly like that, it gave me an idea to start with.  I took my Sloppy Joe/Western Burger recipe and modified it by eliminating the can of chili, and adding bacon, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic and some roasted red pepper.  It turned out really well and is one of our new favorite meals.  The Doctor likes to have his chili over rice, so I also cook up a batch of Rice Pilaf and use beef broth instead of chicken.

This post has been shared on Mix it Up Monday, Busy Monday, Monday Funday, Sweet Sharing Monday,Mostly Homemade Mondays, See Ya in the Gumbo, Clever Chicks Blog Hop, Real Food Recipe Roundup, Tweak it Tuesday, Happiness is Homemade, Lou Lou Girls, Tickle My Tastebuds, Tasty Tuesdays, Tuesday's Table, Two Cup Tuesday, The Scoop, Share Your Stuff Tuesday, Totally Talented Tuesdays, Wonderfully Creative Wednesday, Wonderful Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesday, Wake-Up Wednesday, Pin It Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, Fabulously Frugal Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things, Great Idea Thursdays, Pin It Party, Thriving Thursday,  Think Tank Thursday, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Share Your Cup Thursday, Home and Garden Thursday, Family Fun Friday, Country Fair Blog Party

Friday, August 15, 2014

Family Favorite Friday: Chocolate Chip Cookies

This continues to be our tried and true favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I've tried others that are good, but this one is hands-down, our absolute favorite.

Printable Recipe

2/3 c. shortening
2/3 c. butter
2 eggs
3 c. flour
1 pkg. (2 cups) chocolate chips
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
½ t. salt

Cream shortening and butter with sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and chocolate chips. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

Holly’s Note:
This is a Betty Crocker recipe that we’ve had forever. My mom had a red recipe box full of Betty Crocker recipe cards, and this recipe came from that box. I know other people like Toll House Cookies or Mrs. Fields, but I’ve never found one that I like better than these. They’re really good with butterscotch chips, too. Sometimes I like to do a blend of chocolate, vanilla and butterscotch chips.

The dough freezes really well.

This page has been shared at Food on Friday.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Eat it!

Because if we haven't all said it, we've thought it!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Raspberry Pudding Parfaits

Printable Recipe

2 cups of crushed vanilla wafers
1 small box vanilla pudding
1 3/4 cup cold milk
1/2 carton of Cool Whip
1 bag (12 oz) frozen raspberries or about 2 cups fresh
1/4-1/2 cup sugar, to taste

Crush the vanilla wafers until you have about 2 cups of crumbs.  Place raspberries in a sauce pan, add sugar and stir over medium heat until you have a raspberry sauce, stirring constantly, about 5-7 minutes.  If you want, you can add a small cornstarch/water mixture for thickening.  Remove from heat, let cool.

Blend pudding and milk together for about 4 minutes.  Let sit for about 5 minutes until thickened.  Stir in Cool Whip.

In parfait glasses, layer cookie crumbs, pudding and raspberry sauce.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Top with extra Cool Whip and vanilla wafers.

Serves ~6-8

Holly's Note:
I don't remember when I came up with this recipe, but it's The Doctor's favorite.  He loves it.  It's relatively easy and makes a lovely presentation for company.

This post has been shared at Busy Monday, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Mix it Up Monday, Sweet Sharing Monday, In and Out of the KitchenMonday Funday, Clever Chicks Blog Hop, Tuesday's Table, Tasty Tuesday,Tickle My Tastebuds, Two Cup Tuesday, Tweak it Tuesday, Totally Talented Tuesday, Inspire Me Tuesday, Treasure Box Tuesday, Wake-Up Wednesday, Wonderfully Creative Wednesday, Wonderful Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, Thrifty Thursday,  Thursday Favorite Things, Home and Garden Thursday, Pin It Party, Pin It Thursday, Family Fun Friday,The Project Stash Link Party, Thriving Thursday, Think Tank Thursday, Foodie FridayShowcase Your Talent Thursday, Foodie Friday, Freedom Fridays, Share Your Cup Thursday, The Scoop, Weekend Social, The Weekend Retreat, Frugal Friday Fabulous Finds Linky Party, Get Him Fed Friday, Pin Junkie Pin Party.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Family Favorite Friday: Stuffed Meat Shells

I think this recipe originally came off a box of American pasta.  It's one my mom used to make and it's one that I still make today.  My family loves it.  

1 box large pasta shells
1 lb ground beef
1 lb bulk sausage
4 eggs
1 cup flavored dry bread crumbs
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 t. oregano
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
3 cups (about a 28 oz jar) Pasta sauce (or a double batch of homemade Marinara sauce)
grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta, drain. Cook sausage and beef together until no longer pink. Drain. Mix with eggs, bread crumbs, cheese, onion, and spices. Pour some sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Fill each shell with the meat mixture. Put the filled shells in the pan. Cover with the rest of the pasta sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake at 375 for about 35-40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Serves 6.

Holly's Note:
These freeze well. (Thaw them and then add the sauce and bake as directed.)  Serve with salad and garlic bread.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

Portobello Mushroom Fajitas

Printed Recipe

~3-4 Bell Peppers
1 medium Onion
~4-5 Large Portobello Mushrooms
~2 T Olive Oil
Fajita Seasoning or a blend of cumin, paprika and garlic powder, or chili powder, taco seasoning, whatever you like.

Slice the peppers, onion and mushrooms. Keep them somewhat thick

Pour olive oil into skillet and heat.  Add vegetables and seasonings and saute for about 10-15 minutes or until done to your preference.

Serve with warm tortillas or over rice.

This serves 3-4.

Holly's Note:
My husband found the original recipe at Bhavna's Kitchen through a video on YouTube.  It's become one of our favorites.  The original recipe doesn't show up on the website, but you can watch the video.  The original recipe used green peppers, but I abhor green peppers, so I use a blend of red, yellow and orange.  I also eliminated the cilantro from the original recipe, because I'm not a big cilantro fan.  This is a "to taste" recipe. You need as many vegetables as you have people, you season it to taste and you cook it until it's done, but not soggy.  How's that for vague?

This post has been shared at Wicked Awesome Wednesday, Simple Meals FridaySweet Sharing Monday, Get Him Fed Friday.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Family Favorite Friday: Cocoa Brownies

This is one of the first recipes I shared on this blog.  It's still the brownie recipe I make most often.  I haven't found a basic brownie recipe yet that beats this one!

Printable Recipe

1 c. sugar
½ c. butter, softened
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
2/3 c. flour (I use 1/3 white and 1/3 wheat)
½ c. cocoa
½ t. baking powder
1 c. chocolate chips (optional)

Mix it all together. Spread into a greased 8-inch pan. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350.

Holly’s Note* (amended):
This recipe is better than boxed brownies and easier. I haven't used a boxed brownie mix in years. Good for an unexpected dessert. Really good with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge. It's even better when you add in a cup of chocolate chips. Try it with Hershey's Special Dark chips. Yum!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pinterest Tips

I love Pinterest.  It's my guilty pleasure.  I don't Twitter or Instagram.  I do have Facebook, but it's not my life.  I don't have a smart phone.  I do have a tablet and when I have some down time, I love scrolling through Pinterest.

Some tips are great.  Some aren't.  For instance.  The whole put shower curtain rings on a hanger and hang a scarf in each one?  Yeah, not so good.  The rings all slid to one side and snagged several scarves.  Not doing that one again.

But, this one?

Taking your boxes of plastic bags and thumb tacking them to the wall of your pantry?  Brilliant.  I love this.  I wish I'd thought of it!

And this one. Storing cupcake liners in a mason jar.  Brilliant.  I had a whole, overflowing basket full of assorted cupcake liners. I didn't realize I had so many until I started sorting.  Yeah, the mason jar thing is awesome.  They sit in a neat line on one shelf in my pantry.  I even filled one jar with birthday candles, because the ones I had were scattered willy nilly.

What about you?  Are you on Pinterest?  What tips have you used?

Follow my Pinterest boards here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Snickerdoodle Blondies

Printable Recipe

2 2/3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup salted butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla

Cinnamon topping:
2 Tbsp white sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Combine the butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add in the dry ingredients. Spread into a greased 9x13 dish. The batter will be thick almost like a cookie mixture. Combine the cinnamon topping ingredients and sprinkle over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until top springs back when pressed. Once it cools, it will harden more.

Holly's Note:
This recipe comes from A Year With Six Sisters' Stuff: 52 Menu Plans, Recipes, and Ideas to Bring Families Together.  I wanted to fix a non-chocolate dessert for a family dinner (my husband is allergic to chocolate).  This came together easily, with ingredients I had on hand.  The base bar mixture is very similar in taste and texture to my Toffee Bar recipe.

While it is lacking the distinct tartness that comes with true Snickerdoodles, this was nevertheless a hit with my family.  My mom and sister both requested the recipe and the kids couldn't get enough. It's pretty rich and goes well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Year With Six Sisters' Stuff: 52 Menu Plans, Recipes, and Ideas to Bring Families Together...Review

About the book
"What's for dinner?" Three words every mom dreads.

Don't panic! The Six Sisters are here to help you answer that question. The Sisters have gathered together more than 150 of their most popular recipes for entrees, side dishes, and desserts and have combined them into 52 stress-free menus of perfectly prepared three-course meals.

Filled with delicious tried-and-true family favorites and oh-so-easy-to-make dishes, A Year with Six Sisters' Stuff features all-new recipes using basic ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. Each menu is designed to make your dinner plans as easy as possible—and with such wide variety and a photograph accompanying every recipe in the book, you can easily mix and match menus to create a year's worth of dinner ideas.

In addition, the Sisters share some of their favorite family dinner traditions and crafts, as well as 52 dinner conversation starters, a list of pantry staples, and, food storage plan for beginners.

So what's for dinner? Whatever you'd like.

Continuing on the success of their blog and their first cookbook, the Six Sisters have a second. Like the first one, Six Sisters' Stuff,  this includes crafts and fun suggestions as well as recipes.  Also as with the first book, all of the recipes are easy to make and call for ingredients you most likely have in your kitchen. Again there is a strong reliance on prepared/canned ingredients like canned soup, cake mixes, frozen bread and refrigerator pie crusts and biscuits.  The difference with this cookbook is that the recipes are organized as complete menus, each with a main dish, side or salad or bread and a dessert. Each recipe has a photograph which is something I really appreciate.

I made Snickerdoodle Blondies because I wanted a non-chocolate dessert for a family dinner (The Doctor is allergic to chocolate).  The recipe came together easily and was a hit with my family. While it is lacking the distinct tartness that comes with true Snickerdoodles, this was nevertheless a hit with my family.  My mom and sister both requested the recipe and the kids couldn't get enough. It's pretty rich and goes well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

I have quite a few other recipes marked and look forward to trying them.

Thanks to Shadow Mountain for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about the Six Sisters here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 4/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Friday, March 28, 2014

Stir Fry Broccoli

Fresh broccoli (2-3 heads, chopped)
1-2 T minced garlic
olive oil
1-2 T soy sauce
salt and pepper

Chop the broccoli.  Heat oil in a wok or large frying pan.  Toss in broccoli and saute, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes.  Add garlic and salt and pepper.  Continue sauteing and stirring/tossing for another 2-3 minutes.  Add soy sauce and stir/saute for another couple of minutes.

Dump in a serving dish and enjoy.

Serves 4.

Holly's Note:
This is the newest obsession at our house for The Doctor and The Boy.  I hate broccoli and rate it right up next to parsnip as the worst vegetables ever.  It makes my kitchen stink.  But, The Doctor and The Boy love it as a side dish.  Especially with Mongolian Beef or Roast Chicken.  

I don't follow a recipe for this.  I take however much broccoli I think will get eaten.  I add a heaping spoonful of garlic and a couple of splashes of soy sauce.  It's really all to your taste.  But, it's easy and healthy.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Lessons Learned from a Middle School Football Team

This is amazing. It's 3 minutes of your time and it will totally make your day. I have such a tender heart for those who include and embrace children with special needs. When it is kids who do the including and embracing, it just warms my heart to realize that there really are some incredible people in this world.

The link to the original article is here.

Have a wonderful day.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Salsa Verde

Printable Recipe

8 cups finely chopped and peeled green tomatoes (about 12 medium)
5 to 10 jalapeno, habanero or any mix of hot peppers finely chopped and seeded, if that is your preference
2 cups chopped onion (about 2 large)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup loosely packed finely chopped cilantro
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.

Combine tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic and lime juice in a large saucepan, adding a little water if necessary. Bring to a boil. Stir in cilantro, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

Ladle the hot salsa into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.

Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes, adjusting for altitude. (I do it for 25.) Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Makes about 6 pints.

Holly's Note:
2013 hasn't been the greatest summer for garden harvests here in our part of Idaho.  It was super hot and the tomatoes wouldn't ripen and then, overnight, it turned cold, and the tomatoes wouldn't ripen.  So, what do you do with tons of green tomatoes?

Salsa Verde.

Now, I know that traditional Salsa Verde is made with tomatillos, but this version is made with unripe, green tomatoes and I like the name, Salsa Verde! I found the original recipe at Ball.  This recipe shows my modifications which include cooking it down longer than the original recipe states.  We leave in all pepper seeds, but most people will want to remove all or at least part.

This post has been shared at Miz Helen's Canning and Preserving Foods

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Taste of Home: Recipes Across America...Preview

About the book:
Enjoy the flavors of the USA

One of the greatest pleasures of traveling is sampling the mouthwatering local foods. Do you recall an item that you would love to enjoy again, such as Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza, Southern Fried Chicken or Mississippi Mud Cake? You'll find those classic regional recipes right here in Taste of Home Recipes Across America.

Divided into five regions (Northeast, South, Midwest, Southwest, and West), Recipes Across America offers 735 delectable specialties enjoyed by locals, including unforgettable dishes using regional produce. You'll even discover ethnic specialties passed down through generations that became hometown favorites. Best of all, these dishes are shared by real family cooks just like you!

Here are just some of the highlights from each region.

Northeast: Philly Cheese Steak, Yankee Pot Roast, New Haven Clam Pizza, Authentic Boston Brown Bread, Buffalo Chicken Wings, Amish Sugar Cookies and Brooklyn Blackout Cake

South: Shrimp Po-Boys, South Carolina-Style Ribs, Bacon Collard Green, Cheese 'n' Grits Casserole, Georgia Peanut Salsa, Sweet Potato Fries, Banana Pudding and Hummingbird Cake

Midwest: Church Supper Hot Dish, Onion Loose Meat Sandwiches, Cherry Wild Rice Salad, German Potato Salad, Chocolate-Covered Buckeyes, Golden Apple Snack Cake and State Fair Cream Puffs

Southwest: Arizona Chicken, Barbecued Beef Brisket, Chicken-Fried Steaks, Sizzling Tex-Mex Fajitas, Armadillo Eggs, Texas Caviar, Dr Pepper Barbecue Sauce, Classic Fruit Kolaches, German Chocolate Cake and Tres Leches Cake

West: Buffalo Steak Salad, Chicken Long Rice, Pacific Rim Salmon, California Sushi Rolls, Green Goddess Salad Dressing, Romaine Caesar Salad, Utah Buttermilk Scones, Caramel-Frosted Potato Cake, Oregon's Best Marionberry Pie and Lemon Tart with Almond Crust

In addition, hundreds of snapshots of food festivals and landmarks are scattered among the pages.

And as a bonus, you'll also find food folklore, recipe histories and fun food facts.

For example, did you know that though Coney Island evokes images of amusement parks, the beach and New York, Chili Coney Dogs are not from New York. These hot dogs are actually natives of Detroit. The dogs are topped with beanless chili, some onions and yellow mustard. Cincinnatians top theirs with shredded cheese and call them cheesy Coneys.

You can plan a Southern summertime barbecue, feed hungry hands with Tex-Mex, enjoy the silky smoothness of maple syrup pie, have a German celebration for Okoberfest, or dine as the Hollywood stars do with a Classic Cobb Salad. With Recipes Across America, the country is yours from coast to coast.


Golden Apple Bundles
Excerpted from Taste of Home Recipes Across America: 735 of the Best Recipes from Across the Nation

This recipe is an interesting way to use apples. I usually make them on Fridays, so when family and friends drop in on the weekend, I have a nice dessert to serve. They bake up flaky and golden brown outside and moist inside. -- Lila Eller, Everett, Washington

Prep: 20 Min.
Bake: 25 Min.
Makes: 10-12 Servings

2 cups chopped peeled apples
⅓ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup raisins
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon lemon peel
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pastry for double-crust pie

1. In a large bowl, combine apples, walnuts, brown sugar, raisins, flour, lemon peel and cinnamon; set aside.

2. Roll pastry to ⅛-in. thickness. Cut into 5-in. circles. Spoon about ¼ cup apple mixture into center of each circle. Moisten edges of the pastry with water. Fold over and seal edges with a fork.

3. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 400°; bake 10 minutes longer. Brush each with milk and sprinkle with the sugar. Return to oven; bake 5 minutes longer.

Thanks to Leyane from FSB Associates for the opportunity to preview this book.  You can see more about Taste of Home here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Red Enchilada Sauce

Printable Recipe

2 T. olive oil
2 T. flour
4 T. chili powder
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. cumin
1/4 t. oregano
2 cups chicken broth
1 to 1 1/2 cups water (optional)

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and blend together into a roux for about one minute. Stir in seasonings. Gradually add in the chicken broth and water, whisking constantly to remove lumps. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes until thick.  (I added some cornstarch/water to thicken it even further).

Use immediately or refrigerate in an air-tight container for up to two weeks.

Holly's Notes:
I found the original recipe at Gimme Some Oven.  I'd always wanted to make my own enchilada sauce and I had run out of canned this week, so it was the perfect opportunity.  This was fantastic. I also wanted more sauce without actually doubling it, because the chili powders I used were spicy. The addition of 1 1/2 cups of water was fine and I added a cornstarch/water mixture to thicken it further. The sauce is a gorgeous rust color and was super easy to make.  It was perfect with my Beef Enchiladas.  I don't think I'll ever buy canned enchilada sauce again.  This recipe reflects my adaptations.

One of the things I love best about this recipe is that everything in it is usually in my pantry.  It doesn't need special ingredients.

It's as good as your chili powder is and sometimes I use three different kinds of chili powder: regular, chipotle and ancho.  

This is linked to Honest Mum Tasty Tuesdays, Tuesday's TableReal Food Recipe Round-UpFabulously Frugal Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things, Foodie Friday, Frugal FridayPretty Little Linky Party and The Weekend Social PartyFoodie Friends FridayMostly Homemade Monday, Pin It Party.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Slimmer: The Mediterranean Way to Lose Weight...Preview

About the book:
In just one year, Harry Papas gained 110 pounds. Then he lost it all for life. Papas, a certified dietitian in Greece, shed the pounds by creating a simple yet revolutionary nutrition plan: a delicious, low-fat Mediterranean diet coupled with the self-awareness he needed to combat the triggers that contributed to his weight gain.

Unlike other diets, Slimmer's three-cycle, richly varied meal plan doesn't restrict you from enjoying carbs, sugars, or fats, and it doesn't enforce calorie counting. Rather, the nine-week program is designed to help you stay slim while actually enjoying what you eat, encouraging you to adopt a simpler lifestyle and lifelong healthy habits. This easy-to-follow plan will allow you to get rid of those unwanted pounds with incredibly flavorful and satisfying meals, full of sustaining, wholesome foods—such as fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, and yogurt—that have been enjoyed for centuries by those in the Mediterranean.

Packed with recipes and practical nutritional advice, Slimmer also helps you understand why you gained weight and provides the psychological support and encouragement you need to successfully lose weight and permanently retain the loss.

About the author:
Harry Papas, author of Slimmer: The New Mediterranean Way to Lost Weight, is a leading certified dietician and bestselling author in Greece, specializing in overweight and obesity issues. The founder of one of Greece's top diet and weight-loss centers located in Athens, Papas created the Slimmer nutrition system to lose weight permanently, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and help others do the same.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

Full of fresh flavor with a hint of spice, not to mention a good amount of healthy fiber, this salad will satisfy any size appetite, just as it has at Maria and Eleni's Taverna for years!

One 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 scallion, trimmed and thinly sliced
½ small cucumber, seeded and diced
2 Tablespoons diced green bell pepper
1 plum tomato, cored, seeded, and diced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon capers, drained and rinsed
A dash of cayenne pepper
Juice of ½ a lemon
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
A pinch of dried oregano

1. In a medium bowl toss together the chickpeas, scallion, cucumber, bell pepper, tomato, parsley, capers, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl stir together the remaining ingredients and pour over the chickpea mixture. Toss well to coat and allow to marinate, stirring occasionally, for at least 1 hour before serving.

Makes 1 serving

Thanks to Leyane at FSB Associates for the opportunity to preview this book.  You can learn more about Harry Papas here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Italian Seasoned Tomatoes

I love canning tomatoes and occasionally I like to do an Italian seasoned version. I'm not going to do a canning tutorial here. I pretty much follow the Ball canning method here.  This blend makes about 7 pints of tomatoes.

Mix together
4 t. basil
2. t. thyme
2 1/2 t. oregano
1 1/2 t. rosemary
1 1/2 t. sage
1 t. hot pepper flakes

Prepare jars for canning, including the lemon juice and salt. To each jar add about 2 teaspoons of the Italian mixture and add 1/2 teaspoon of fresh minced garlic.  Instead of fresh garlic, you can add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder to the above mixture.

Process as you would normally process tomatoes.

This post is linked to Old-Fashioned Friday, The Weekend Re-Treat Link Party, Busy Monday, Melt in Your Mouth MondayTuesday's Table, Tickle My Tastebuds, Two Cup Tuesday, Wonderfully Creative WednesdayWonderful Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesday, Fabulously Frugal ThursdayMiz Helen's Canning and Preserving Foods, Thursday Favorite Things, Home and Garden Thursday, Gooseberry Patch

Monday, September 16, 2013

Warm Up Your Winter...Review

About the book:
Snuggle up next to the fire!

While winter rages outside, nothing beats a steaming mug of hot chocolate or cider. Warm up Your Winter includes delightful recipes for Classic Hot Cocoa, Pumpkin Pie, White Hot Chocolate, and Hot Caramel Apple Cider. Don’t just survive the winter—warm it up!

For many people, hot chocolate is a cold weather drink.  For me, it's a daily occurrence.  I have a daily cup of cocoa like many people have their daily cup of coffee.

I've enjoyed the cooking blog Real Mom Kitchen and so I was happy to see that Laura has put out this booklet full of hot chocolate and cider recipes.  I love the idea of adding caramel syrup to hot cider!

Laura rightfully explains that hot chocolate is usually made with actual chocolate and hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder. I believe that hot cocoa made with prepared packets is sacrilege. In my experience, most commercial hot cocoa mixes contain more sugar and powdered milk than they do actual cocoa.  Even those brands that are labeled Gourmet. And to make hot chocolate with water instead of milk is blasphemy. Complete and utter blasphemy.

I was glad to see that only one of these recipes actually calls for using hot cocoa packets. I don't buy prepared packets.  My preference, if I'm not using actual chocolate, is Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa. Ghirardelli is one of my favorite brands of chocolate and this cocoa mix does not include powdered milk. Thank goodness, because powdered milk doesn't make cocoa creamier, it makes it weaker.  If I use cocoa mix, I often add chocolate to my cocoa, such as a Ghirardelli square, or some shaved unsweetened chocolate and a peppermint candy or candy cane.

Most of these recipes are made for 4+ servings, but the ideas for add-ins are terrific and it's easy to adapt many to make an individual cup.  This recipe is included in the book and is one of my favorite recipes.  (I would add Ghirardelli squares to it!)  I don't put marshmallows in mine and I don't put canned whipped cream on it either.

Classic Hot Cocoa

1/2 cup sugar
1/4-1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup half and half
4 cups whole milk
Whipped Cream or Mini Marshmallows

Stir together sugar, cocoa and salt in medium saucepan; add half and half. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Simmer 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add milk; stirring constantly, heat to desired serving temperature. Do Not Boil. Remove cocoa from heat; whisk or beat until frothy. Top with whipped cream or marshmallows.

Serves 4

The quality of your drink is only as good as the quality of your chocolate.  Use real chocolate or real cocoa whenever you can and always use half and half along with real whipping cream.

Thanks to Cedar Fort for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Laura Powell here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/13

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Zucchini Bread

Printable Recipe

2 cups sugar
1 cup olive oil (I use 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup applesauce)
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 t. grated lemon peel
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. baking powder
2 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 medium)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Mix sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and baking powder; gradually beat into sugar mixture, mixing just until moistened. Stir in the zucchini, lemon peel and nuts. Transfer to prepared 8x4 inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 for about 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool. Yield: 2 loaves (~12 slices each).

Holly's Note:
I found this recipe in the Taste of Home: Cooking School Cookbook when I had some zucchini I needed to use.  You can find the original recipe here. Hands down, this is the best zucchini bread recipe I have ever found.  My teenage son actually requests it. It's light and delicious.  I omit the nuts and lemon peel and I use an oil/applesauce mixture instead of straight oil. It's yummy.

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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Brown Sugar Chicken

Printable Recipe

~3 pounds of chicken pieces.  I use thighs and legs and remove the skin.
2-3 ( .7 ounce) packets of dried Italian dressing mix (we prefer a Zesty one)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
melted butter (about 4-5 T)

Grease a 12 inch x 9 inch pan and set aside. You can also line your dish with aluminum foil as the sugar tends to caramelize while baking. Drizzle pan with melted butter. Rinse chicken, pat dry with paper towels. Combine the Italian seasoning mix and the brown sugar, mixing together well. Dip and press the chicken pieces into the mixture, coating front and back and place into your prepared pan, topside of the chicken facing up. Sprinkle the remaining mix over the chicken as well as any remaining butter

Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until chicken is done. Turn the chicken a couple of times so it gets coated really well.

Serve with Rice Pilaf, salad and vegetable.

Serves 4.

Holly's Note: 
I found the original recipe here. I doubled the dressing/sugar mix because I wanted more sauce and added the melted butter. A Zesty dressing mix is best and I double and sometimes triple the dressing part. Those changes are reflected in this recipe here. I was afraid it would be too sweet, but it's not.  The flavor is wonderful. This has become one of our favorite meals.  An important key to the success of this recipe is turning the chicken a couple of times while cooking so that it gets coated well. The sauce really caramelizes nicely.  It also cooks up really well in the crock pot.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Lemon Butter Cake

1 cube of butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 lemons, zested & juiced
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 lemon, zested & juiced
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream together butter and sugar for 3 minutes. Add eggs. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt. In another separate bowl, combine milk, lemon juice, zest and vanilla. Add half of the wet ingredients to the butter sugar mixture, mix for 5 seconds, then add half of the dry and mix for 5 seconds. Repeat with second half, ending with dry ingredients. Pour batter into loaf pan.  Original recipe called for lining it with parchment, but greasing and flouring was just fine for me. Bake for 35-40 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. For glaze, mix together powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Pour over slightly warm cake. Top with lemon zest.

Holly's Notes:
Thanks to Pinterest, I found the original recipe here.  It is amazing.  Light and perfect on its own but divine with some vanilla ice cream.  I love that the cake is homemade and not from a mix.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Teen Cuisine New Vegetarian...Preview

About the book:
Teens will celebrate all the great features in this exquisite cookbook that speaks directly to today’s most popular eating trends.

• 50 mouthwatering, original step-by-step recipes for all times of day arranged into sections such as “Smart Starts,” “Pasta and Polenta Perfects,” “Big Plates,” and “Just Desserts”
• Special sushi section
• “On Your Mark Get Set Cook!” popular recipe format with step-by-step drawings and photographs
• Chef’s tips, safety section, cooking terms, and ingredient definitions
• Kitchen essentials and equipment
• Organic, local, nutritious ingredients for healthy eating.

About the author:
Matthew Locricchio created the highly regarded Superchef series of cookbooks for young readers. The eight books in the series introduce young chefs and new cooks to classic recipes from Italy, France, China, Mexico, Greece, India, Thailand, and Brazil.

His most recent book, The International Cookbook For Kids, won the prestigious Gourmand World Cookbook Award 2005 for Best Book for Children and Family in the USA as well as The Disney Adventures Book Award for Best Hands-On Book. His next book The 2nd International Cookbook For Kids will be released in October of 2008 and will be available at bookstores everywhere.

Matthew was born into a restaurant and catering family in Detroit and has worked in the food service industry most of his life.

Included in his resume as a professional cook are stints at the well known Gandy Dancer in Ann Arbor, Michigan, The West Coast Stock Exchange's private club in San Francisco, as well as the legendary Barbary Coast restaurant.

Also a playwright and actor, Matthew has worked in numerous commercials, soap operas, films, and television shows. On stage he has toured with Lincoln Center Institute and appeared at such theaters as the Public Theatre and The Roundabout in New York City, Yale Repertory, and the Magic Theater in San Francisco. As a playwright his works for young audiences include Lifeline: The Gameshow and his adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Bite Me Chili

1 pound tempeh, any flavor
1 medium-size white onion
5 to 6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
5 to 6 sprigs cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1 to 2 jalapeño or serrano chiles
1 to 3 dried ancho, negro, or pasilla chiles, depending on taste
1 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted or regular chopped tomatoes
1 10-ounce can Ro*Tel brand diced tomatoes and green chiles
1 15.5-ounce can red pinto, great Northern, or black beans
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive or safflower oil
1 4-ounce can chopped mild, medium, or hot green chiles
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 teaspoon smoked or regular paprika
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 cup water, plus more as needed

Chopped scallions
Chopped white or red onions
Cheddar cheese or vegan cheddar, grated Monterey Jack or vegan Jack cheese, grated
Sour cream or vegan sour cream
Plain whole-milk yogurt or soy yogurt

On your mark . . .
  • Cut the tempeh into medium-size pieces and put into a 2-quart saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.
  • Peel the onion, chop into medium dice, measure out 1 cup, and set aside.
  • Wash the parsley and cilantro, shake off any excess water, and dry by rolling in paper towels. Remove the leaves and discard the stems. Coarsely chop the parsley and cilantro together and set aside.
  • Slightly crush the garlic by laying the flat side of a chef’s knife on the clove and pressing firmly to break open the skin. Remove the skin, cut off the root end, and discard. Coarsely chop the garlic and set aside.
  • Slip on a pair of latex kitchen gloves. Remove the stem from the fresh chiles and cut in half lengthwise. Rinse under cold water and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a spoon. If you like the chile a bit hotter, leave in the seeds. Chop into small pieces and set aside. Rinse, dry, and remove the gloves.
Get set . . .
  • Break the stem from the dried chiles and discard. Shake out any seeds, tear the chiles into small pieces, and place in a bowl. Add ½ cup hot water and set aside to soften. Wash your hands.
  • Combine the tomatoes, including the liquid, and the tomato-and-green chile combination. Measure out 3 cups and set aside.
  • Drain the canned beans in a hand strainer or colander. Rinse under cold water and set aside to drain.
  • Coarsely chop the tempeh and set aside.
  • Drain the dried chiles in a hand strainer or colander and pat dry.
  • Heat the oil in a 4- to 6-quart pot (with lid) over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.
  • Add the onion and dried chiles and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.
  • Add the garlic, tempeh, canned green chiles, chopped fresh chiles, chile powder, paprika, salt, cayenne pepper, if using, and the chopped parsley and cilantro.
  • Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, until the tempeh has browned.
  • Add the 3 cups tomato mixture, beans, and water. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat to low, and simmer for 45 minutes with the lid slightly ajar.
  • Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Add water if the chile becomes too thick, but avoid making it soupy. Taste the chile and correct the seasoning.
  • Serve hot, passing the scallions, onions, grated cheeses, sour cream, and yogurt on the side.
Thanks to Julie at Etch Communications for the opportunity to preview this cookbook.  You can learn more about Chef Matthew Locricchio here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fabio's Italian Kitchen...Review

About the book: When Fabio Viviani was growing up in a housing project in Florence, Italy, the center of his world was the kitchen, where his mother, grandmother, and especially his great-grandmother instilled in him a love for cooking and good food.

Now he shares the best of Italian home cooking while telling the story of his hardscrabble childhood, his success as a chef in the United States, and the women in his family who inspired him. In more than 150 delicious recipes, Viviani takes us from his family home, where his great-grandmother taught him to make staples like Italian Apple Cake and Homemade Ricotta, to the kitchen of a local trattoria, where he honed his craft cooking restaurant favorites like Gnocchi and the Perfect Tiramisu, and then across Italy where he studied each region’s finest recipes, from Piedmont’s Braised Ossobuco to Emilia Romagna’s Perfect Meat Sauce.

A gorgeously illustrated cookbook, Fabio’s Italian Kitchen is a celebration of food and family that brings all the joy, fun, and flair that Fabio Viviani embodies to your kitchen.

Fabio Viviani was born in Florence, Italy, and became a sous chef at Il Pallaio, a trattoria in Firenze, at the age of sixteen. He now works as the owner and executive chef of Cafe Firenze, a renowned Italian restaurant in Ventura County, California, and Osteria Firenze, a Los Angeles Italian eatery. He has appeared on Top Chef (season five), Top Chef All Stars, and Life After Top Chef.

I can't say that I'm all that familiar with Fabio Viviani.  I don't have satellite or cable so I don't watch television and I've never seen him cook on television. I did, however, enjoy his cookbook. The book is full of history, explanations and anecdotes.  The recipes range from preparing basic pasta and sauces to more involved recipes.  I have quite a few marked to try.  I have always wanted to make my own pastas.

I loved his narration.  Food is to be enjoyed, it is not meant to impress.  Family dinners are important.

Very authentic.  Very Italian.

Thanks to Kristina Miller of Hyperion for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Fabio Viviani here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/13

* * * *
4/5 Stars