Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Emily's Improvised Chow Mein

2 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into strips
2 stalks celery, sliced diagonally
1 large carrot, sliced
1 can water chestnuts, drained (reserve liquid)
1 handful snow pea pods
1/2 can bean sprouts, drained (reserve liquid)
3 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp. mustard powder
dash red pepper
2 heaping tsp corn starch
soy sauce
white pepper

Heat 2 tbsp oil and spices on high heat until sizzling. Add chicken and stir fry until just browned, sprinkling with soy sauce. Add vegetables and stir fry until crisp tender and chicken is fully cooked. Meanwhile, combine 1 tbsp. soy sauce and enough liquid (reserved from canned vegetables, chicken broth, or water) to make one cup with corn starch to make sauce. When chicken mixture is cooked, add sauce and lower heat to simmer until thickened. Add salt, white pepper and soy sauce to taste. Serve over chow mein noodles.

Serves 3-4.

Notes: This was enough sauce, but you might want to increase the liquid if you like it to really soak into the noodles.

Pork Cantonese

2 lbs. Boneless lean pork, cut in 1” pieces
2 tbsp. salad oil
1 (14 oz.) pineapple chunks
1 (4 oz.) canned mushrooms
1/3 c molasses
¼ c vinegar
2 green peppers, cut in strips
green onions, cut into 1” pieces
1 ½ tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water.

Brown pork on all sides in hot oil in skillet.
Drain pineapple and mushrooms, reserving liquids. Combine liquids and add enough water to make 2 c. Add liquid to pork; cover and simmer until tender, about 45 minutes.
Stir in molasses and vinegar until blended. Add pineapple, mushrooms, green peppers and onions; cover and cook 10 minutes. (Vegetables retain a little crispness.)
Blend together cornstarch and water. Stir into hot mixture and cook until slightly thickened. Serve over hot rice. Makes 8 servings.

NOTE: I made this with chicken and it was excellent! Just skip the simmer step.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Greek Pizza

1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 10 oz. packages frozen spinach(or less), thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
20 sheets fillo dough
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 cups (1 pound) mozzarella cheese, grated
3 medium tomatoes, sliced thin

2 cups feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup bread crumbs

In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add spinach and sauté until all excess moisture has evaporated. Add basil, oregano, lemon juice and pepper. Mix well. Cool slightly.

Prepare fillo pizza crust:

Use 10 sheets of fillo dough, brushing each with melted butter, margarine, oil or vegetable spray. Use 1/4 cup butter. Repeat this step. Place length of fillo across width of greased 15” x 10” x 1” cookie sheet or baking pan. Overlap each set of 10 buttered fillo sheets 5 inches at center. Roll overlapping fillo onto itself on cookie sheet to form “pizza crust.” Brush top layer with melted butter or olive oil.

Spread spinach mixture on prepared fillo sheets. Top spinach with 1/2 of mozzarella. Dredge tomatoes in bread crumbs and arrange on top of mozzarella. Top with remaining mozzarella and feta cheese.

Bake in preheated 400°F oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Serves 12


NOTE: This serves nicely. To make appetizers, simply arrange the tomatoes closer (so there's one in the center of each piece) and cut smaller. Diamond shaped would be nice.

Holly's Pierogi


3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons sour cream, buttermilk, or plain yogurt
1 cup water (more if required)
butter or oil
salt and pepper

Combine flour, half of the water, eggs, and the sour cream, buttermilk or yogurt in a large bowl. Stir vigorously to incorporate the eggs.

Slowly stir in the remaining water until a dough begins to form. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently, lifting dough to stretch.

Continue lifting and stretching the dough until the dough is smooth and somewhat sticky inside, about 3 minutes or so. Do not overwork the dough - if it begins to become elastic, allow it to rest 5-10 minutes under an overturned bowl before working with it again.

When the dough has been kneaded enough, place in a storage bag in the refrigerator to rest 20 minutes, or leave on the counter under an overturned bowl 30 minutes, to allow any gluten which may have developed to rest.

While the dough is resting, you can prepare the filling.


3 medium or 2 very large waxy potatoes (baking)
3 T unsalted butter
1-2 T light olive oil (or schmaltz)
1 large onion, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cabbage, finely shredded
1 small leek, finely minced (optional)
2 T Parmesan or white cheddar cheese, grated

Cook the potatoes in their jackets, in a covered heavy pot with barely enough water to cover them in slightly salted water (add about 2 tsp salt to the water). Simmer over low heat until potatoes are fork tender, then remove from heat. (If you can judge when they'll be done, remove from heat 10 minutes in advance and just allow to steam in the pot with the heat turned off).

Allow the potatoes to cool sufficiently to handle, and rub off the skins with a clean towel. Drain the pot you cooked them in, and return the potatoes to the pot and shake them around a bit to dry them.

Put the potatoes through a sieve or a potato ricer if you have one, otherwise, use a masher. Set them aside.

In a skillet, combine butter and oil or schmaltz over medium heat to melt. Saute the garlic, onion, and leek, if you have one, for a few minutes until they begin to take on a translucent color.

Stir in the cabbage, turn the heat to high for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, reduce heat and allow cabbage to begin to brown, 6-8 minutes. Then add the potatoes, cheese, and season to taste. Remove from heat and go on to work with the dough again as the filling cools.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and form it into balls 1 1/2 to 2" in diameter. Roll each out with a rolling pin into a 3-3 1/2" round approximately 1/8 inch in thickness. Cover the ones you've made with a damp paper towel as you work. If you prefer, you can use a KitchenAid pasta roller attachment (or other pasta machine) to roll out the dough circles. Be sure to flour both sides lightly first.

Hold the dough in one hand, and place a round ball of filling or spoonful into the center. Fold in half to enclose the filling, and pinch the edges securely together. Don't allow filling to touch the edges to avoid an imperfect seal. Be sure there are no openings along the edges, or the filling will boil out.

Boil a large pot of salted water as you continue to fill the remaining pierogi until all the ingredients run out. As you work, place a sheet of waxed paper dusted lightly with flour or corn meal over and between the pierogi layers until ready to boil.

Cooking: Gently lower pierogi into rapidly boiling water 3-5 at a time and cook for a few minutes until they float to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon and continue til all are cooked. Serve fresh with melted butter, or saute in butter until lightly brown on outside.

An alternative to cooking these in water is to boil them in the broth remaining from a boiled ham, or in chicken broth.

NOTE: If your pierogi are too doughy, you either rolled the dough circles so they were not thin enough, or if their thickness was correct, they may not have been evenly rolled or cooked sufficiently. The first attempt is not always perfect, but if you note where you could have done better, your next batch will be much improved!

Other notes: It's lots easier if you have someone working with you and if you have a pierogi maker. (I got a cheap plastic one somewhere that works just fine.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Broccoli Apple Salad

A ingredients and motivation deprived version of this.

broccoli florets (and chopped stalks if you like)
1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons hot water
2 small crisp apples, cut into bit-sized pieces (if you aren't going to use the apples immediately, let them sit in a bowl of water with the juice of 1/2 a lemon)
1/2 cup toasted walnuts or almonds
1/3 cup green onions

Stir together the green onions, a splash of olive oil and big pinch of salt in a large skillet over low heat. Stir every few minutes, browning slowly. Let them get dark brown (but not burn). Remove from skillet and onto a paper towel to cool in a single layer where they will crisp up a bit.

Make the dressing by sprinkling the salt over the clove of garlic. Smash the clove and chop, turning it into a paste. In a small bowl whisk the garlic paste with the peanut butter, lemon juice, honey and olive oil. Add the hot water and whisk until light and creamy.
Chop broccoli and apples into bite-sized pieces. In a large bowl gently toss the broccoli, apples, most of the scallions and nuts with a generous drizzle of the dressing. Garnish with the rest of the shallots and chives if you like.

Notes: Could use a little tweaking, but it was an interesting combination of flavors. The original dressing called for almond butter, which would probably be better. The dressing was asthetically challenged, but looked okay once it was tossed in. The crispy green onions were a yummy garnish.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Emily & Brian's Wedding Cake

Also known as the Luv Cake

SERVES 40 -50

2 (18 ounce) boxes white cake mix (Betty Crocker or Pillsbury)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 2/3 cups water
1 c lemon juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons real vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon extract (Watkins brand was outstanding!)
2 cups sour cream
6 whole eggs
1 tbls lemon zest

  1. Place all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir together with a wire whisk.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  3. Pour into greased and floured cake pans, filling each pan a little over half full.
  4. Lightly tap cake pans on counter to bring air bubbles to top.
  5. Bake in preheated 325° F oven until cake tests done.
  6. Baking time varies according to the size and depth of pans being used.
In 2" deep pans, this recipe makes:
One 14" round and one 6" round
or One 16" round
or One 12" round and one 10" round
or One 12 X 18" sheet cake
or One 12" round and one 8" round and one 6" round
or Two 9" squares.
or 5 dozen cupcakes.

Half the recipe makes:
Two 7" rounds
or Two 6" rounds and 6 cupcakes.

Source: Recipezaar

Their Notes: I made my daughter's wedding cake using this recipe. It turned out fantastic. The texture is just perfect for a wedding cake -- not too fluffy so it breaks from the weight, but also not overly dense. The flavor, texture and moistness were just right. I made two batches of the batter for a three-tiered wedding cake using 14", 10" and 6" pans that were 3-inches deep. I had enough extra batter for a 9" layer (not a deep pan).

My Notes: I made these cakes several weeks ahead of time, wrapped each individually, and froze them until we traveled to South Bend. The cakes were very stable and easy to decorate and VERY moist and delicious when Holly's friends ate leftovers up to a week after the wedding! I put poppy seeds in some of the layers. I used Dickinson's lemon curd for filling between the layers. Delicious! Check the original recipe (White Almond Sour Cream Wedding Cake Recipe) for flavor variations.

Chunky Potato Soup

3 medium red potatoes
2 c water
1 small onion, chopped
3 tbls butter
3 tbls flour
crushed red pepper flakes
3 c milk
1/2 tsp sugar
1 c shredded cheddar
1 c cooked ham

Peel potatoes and cut into 1 inch cubes. Bring water to a boil in large saucepan. Add potatoes and cook until tender. Drain reserving 1 cup liquid (add water to make 1 cup if necessary).

Cook onion in melted butter, stirring frequently. Cook until it's translucent and tender, but not brown. Add flour to saucepan, season with peppers and cook 3-4 minutes.

Mix with potatoes, water, milk and sugar. Stir well and add cheese and ham. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

NOTES: We all liked this a lot. I added more potatoes than called for and t made enough for 5 generous servings. I used a 3 ounce package of Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits instead of the ham (it was plenty and added a great flavor and texture).

SOURCE: The original recipe came from some freebie recipe card I got in the mail.

Too bad - I forgot to take a picture and it was soon gone!
This is not my soup, but thanks to Pfaltzgraff for the picture.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Banana Cream Cheesecake

1 pkg. white cake mix, divided
4 eggs, divided
3 tbsp. oil
2/3 c packed brown sugar, divided
2 bananas, sliced
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 c milk
1 1/2 c cool whip

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Reserve 1 cup dry cake mix. Mix remaining cake mix with 1 egg, oil, and 1/3 c brown sugar with mixer. (Mixture will be crumbly.) Press onto bottom and 1 inch up sides of greased 13 x 9 baking pan. Top with bananas.

Beat cream cheese and remaining sugar with mixer. Add reserved cake mix, remaining eggs, and lemon juice; beat one minute. Blend in milk. (Batter will be thin.) Pour into crust.

Bake 45-50 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 4 hours. Top with whipped topping. Refrigerate leftovers.

Source: Kraft foods freebie magazine

Notes: Good flavor - especially the cream cheese/banana filling. The crust is pretty firm, so be sure you keep it thin and don't let the edges and corners get too thick. I think the crust was a little sweet and would possibly try it without the extra sugar next time. Of course, I don't like sweet stuff in general, so I may be oversensitive.
This would be good to try with a graham cracker crust (but you'd need to work out the 1 c of cake mix in the batter issue).

Serve it with coffee! (Really)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Balkan Meatballs

1 egg
¼ c milk
⅓ c crushed seasoned croutons
¾ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground allspice
1 pound lean ground beef
½ pound ground turkey
⅔ c finely chopped onion

3 tbls. marg
⅜ c flour
3 c milk

In medium-sized bowl, beat egg with milk. Mix in the croutons, salt, sugar and spices. Add meat and onion and mix thoroughly. Shape meatballs about the size of walnuts and brown in skillet. Make the white sauce. Add meatballs to the sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover pan and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over wide egg noodles. Makes 4 servings.

Balkan Meatballs ( alternate recipe)

3 tbls. marg.
⅜ c flour
3 c milk
¼ tsp. each of ginger, nutmeg, allspice
salt and pepper to taste

2 pounds frozen meatballs

Make a white sauce of the sauce ingredients. Stir in meatballs and cook in a crockpot on high for 1 ½ - 2 hours.

Serve over noodles.

Notes: I served this recipe at Emily’s graduation party (without noodles) and it was a big hit!
Source: Adapted from a recipe from Once A Month Cooking

International Cafe

1 c instant coffee creamer
1 c instant hot chocolate mix
2/3 c instant coffee crystals
1 c sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Mix together. I don't have a note about how much to mix with water. If anyone tries this, email me your suggestion and I'll update.

Source: Michael Latawiec (2002 craft sale)

Instant Hot Cocoa

10 2/3 c powdered milk
1 pound Nestles Quik (about 3 cups)
6 ounces powdered coffee creamer
1 c powdered sugar

Mix it all together and store in a container with a tight lid.

Mix about 1/3 cup to each cup of hot water.

Source: Grandma Donna

Old Fashioned Hot Cocoa

3 tbls. cocoa
8 tbls. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
Stir in one cup of water and four cups of milk. Heat to desired temperature, but avoid boiling.

Notes: They don't put this recipe on the cocoa cans anymore, so I'm glad I wrote it down.
This classic is the best option for a rich cup of cocoa!
Easily halved or doubled.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Of course fluff is more of an art than a science, but here's one version for posterity:

2 (8 oz.) tubs of cool whip
2 small packets orange jello
1 (20 oz.) can pineapple tidbits, drained
mandarin oranges, drained (we used 2 cans totaling about 20 ounces)
1 bag of mini marshmallows

Mix it all together and refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving so the jello has time to dissolve.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bisquick Chicken Strips

This recipe used to be on the Bisquick box, but they stopped printing it, so I was able to google it and find this yummy recipe again. I like this one because it's easy, tasty, and uses on-hand ingredients.
It can get a little messy between the chicken cutting, raw-egg dipping, and coating, so sometimes it's easier to work with a partner. Overall, though, it's pretty quick to make and you could make and store the coating ahead of time. Enjoy!

2/3 cup Original Bisquick® mix

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt or Garlic salt (a little more never hurts...)

1/2 teaspoon paprika

3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips

1 egg, slightly beaten

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

DIRECTIONS Heat oven to 450ºF. Line cookie sheet with foil; spray with cooking spray. Mix Bisquick mix, cheese, salt and paprika in 1-gallon resealable plastic food-storage bag. Dip half the chicken strips into egg; place in bag of Bisquick mixture. Seal bag; shake to coat. Place chicken on cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken. Drizzle butter over chicken. Bake 12 to 14 minutes, turning after 6 minutes with tongs, until no longer pink in center.