Friday, November 26, 2010

Fruit Salad

This is an easy one, and everyone kind of has their own way of doing it.  I made some of this to go with our turkey and thanksgiving fixings, to lighten the sides up a bit.  Super easy, and it was a great way to use up our fruit from our Bountiful Basket, as there was a lot of fruit this time.  Try it out and let me know what you think!

Fruit Salad

3 apples, peeled and cut into chunks
2 pears, cored and diced
2 bananas, sliced
1/2 a honeydew melon, peeled and cut into chunks
2 oranges, peeled and cut into chunks
3 tangerines, peeled and sectioned
sliced honey roasted almonds (in the salad section, in a bag)
1-6 oz container vanilla yogurt

Mix everything together in a large bowl.  Refrigerate an hour before serving, and serve cold.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Recipe Contest Winners!

The winners of the recipe contest have been posted on Half Baked Heritage!!  It was a heck of a project and we thank all of you who participated. Congrats to all of you, Rachel will be contacting you soon so you can claim your prizes!

Also, while you are there, check out the recipes we posted for thanksgiving!  I hope they will be helpful to you!  It's not too late to make your own pie or stuffing!  And check out John's recipe for a DELICIOUS (I have tried it, and its the best turkey I have ever had) roast turkey.

Thanks for following, and Happy Holidays from Recipes to Live By to all of you!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cranberry Orange Relish

I love good cranberry sauce with my turkey for Thanksgiving.  I bought some cranberries to make an Apple Cranberry Pie, so I figured I would buy some extra so I could try some homemade cranberry sauce.  I looked for a good recipe, just so I could get some inspiration and an idea of where to start.  Here is what I did.

Cranberry Orange Relish

12 oz cranberries
3/4 c sugar
1/3 c water
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 orange, zested and juice

In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, water, orange zest and juice, and spices.  Bring up to a boil over medium heat, and then reduce to a simmer.


Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes.  The mixture will thicken as it cooks.  Remove from heat and pour into a bowl, then chill in refrigerator til ready to serve.

Bountiful Baskets, Week 3


This would be a picture of the majority of what I got in my Bountiful Basket this week.  There is other stuff, but it's already in the fridge.  But still, are you convinced it's a good deal yet?  All of this plus more was only $15!  You need to sign up for this!!

So here is the lowdown of what I got:

4 Braeburn apples
5 Concorde pears
6 large tomatoes
a bunch of bananas
about 6 oranges
6 tangerines
some red potatoes
1 honeydew melon
2 bunches of radishes
2 big yellow onions
a head of green leaf lettuce
2 green bell peppers
1 head of celery

I'll be working on the recipes, but most of them will be part of my Thanksgiving spread.  So far I know I will be making these recipes:

Orange Cranberry Sauce
Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Apple Pie

I'll keep you posted on the rest!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup

Remember that roast chicken I made last Thursday?  Well we had half of it leftover still this past weekend. I needed to do something with it, and I found a way to do it when I wasn't feeling so hot on Saturday and Sunday.

Nothing makes me feel better when I have a cold or sore throat than a big pot of chicken noodle soup.  My mom makes really good soup, and I couldn't think of anything else to eat but a bowl of something of that genre.  So here is the recipe I came up with.  While basic and not the most creative or amazing, it did the trick and I think it will for you, too.  Enjoy.

Chicken Noodle Soup

about half a chicken, pulled from the bone and diced (you can roast your own from the recipe here, or you can get a rotisserie chicken, or you can poach a couple of chicken breasts)
4 stalks of celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced or chopped
1 onion, chopped finely
3 cans of chicken broth, or 6 cups (you could use stock here too)
2 c water
1/2 a bag of egg noodles

Saute veggies in a bit of olive oil and cook til tender.  Add chicken and then add broth, stir.  Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.  Add your noodles and cook til tender.   Serve with bread and butter on the side.

Sorry for the delay...

I have admittedly been on hiatus this week.  I apologize for the lack of updates.  I was sick last weekend and at the beginning of this week, and therefore took a break from cooking.  And then I ran out of time and I am working on the recipe contest I mentioned before as well as this blog.  So there will be some delays, and I am sorry.

I hope you haven't given up on me!  I do have some catching up to do, but I promise I will make it up to you all! Thanks for being such faithful readers!

While I am at it, I would love it if you all would join my Facebook page.  I have a gadget from Facebook that will link you to my page so you can "like" it.  I am getting pretty close to 100 followers and it would make my week if I could get some Facebook followers!  And also, I would LOVE it if you shared my blog with your friends!  If you enjoy what you find here and you follow me, it would be great to share the love!  

And one last favor to ask... If you read my blog regularly, will you please click the follow button on the right sidebar of the blog?  I would be ever so grateful.  If you comment here saying you are now following, I would love to return the favor and follow you on your blog if you have one!

Thanks for your loyalty!  It means the world to me!!  Happy Cooking!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Holiday Recipe Contest!

The Handmade Heritage


I am teaming up with my friend at The Handmade Heritage with a new project she is calling Half Baked Heritage.  I am excited for this project because it's a fun new thing to do, and it's something thats close to my heart.  I love holiday recipes!

We're having a recipe contest for the holidays that is centered around Thanksgiving.  Since Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away, we are doing this pretty quick!  Check out the rules for the contest and enter your recipe quick so we can share recipes and you can have a chance at winning an AWESOME prize from The Handmade Heritage--the winning recipe gets featured and posted on Half Baked Heritage, and they get a great basket full of handmade candies made by The Handmade Heritage!  (Trust me, you want in on this.....even if you cant eat it yourself, it would make a great gift!  She makes some great stuff!)

Don't have any traditional Thanksgiving recipes?  No worries.  We'll be doing this again for Christmas too!  I'll make sure I post another reminder for you as we get closer to that contest.

In addition to the contest, I will be featuring some of my favorite holiday recipes, and I hope you will follow us in this fun time!  Maybe this will inspire you to start some of your own new holiday traditions!!  Join the fun!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mashed Potatoes

I know this is a basic recipe, but everyone does these sorta differently and some people don't do their own mashed potatoes, period.  And my thought to that concept is....why?  They're super simple, take half an hour at the most, and they taste SO much better than the store-bought stuff you can get in a box or in the refrigerated section.

Mashed Potatoes

2 potatoes for each person eating, at least.  washed, peeled, and quartered lengthwise
1 tsp salt
1/2 c milk, or 1/4 c cream and 1/4 c milk (half and half)
3 tbsp butter

Place potatoes in a stockpot and cover potatoes with water and salt.  Bring to a boil, and continue to boil til potatoes when you stick a fork in them, it goes through but it doesn't break the potato.  Don't over boil them because if you do you'll get mushy potatoes or potato soup.  Drain your potatoes and return them to the pot.  Add milk or cream, and butter, and salt and pepper, and either mash with a potato masher or whip in a mixer or with a hand mixer.  Serve with your favorite protein and veggie.

Roasted Cauliflower

I found this on Food Network, and it was delicious.  The only think I might change is how much red pepper flake is in it....a bit too spicy for me.  I am always looking for more creative ways to use different veggies, so this was a fun one to try.  I hope you like it like we did.

Roasted Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower
1/4 c olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flake
salt and pepper to taste

Cut cauliflower into florets.  Toss it with all the other ingredients.  Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.  It should be golden brown on the outside.  Serve hot with your favorite protein.

Roast Chicken, Take Two

Okay, I know I posted roast chicken already, about 2 weeks ago, but I made it again tonight and it turned out much better this time.  So I am going to post the better recipe tonight.  I hope you don't mind the redundancy. the other recipe is good too, just this one was better.  And I found a better cooking method too.  So here we go...

Roast Chicken

1 whole chicken (not the little fryers, but the ones in the shrink wrap marked "young chicken")
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
3 or 4 sprigs of rosemary, leaves stripped from stems
1 tsp garlic powder
3 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped from stems
1 or 2 carrots cut into sticks
1 onion, sliced thin
celery stalks, cut into sticks

A day before you plan to roast the chicken, remove from shrink wrap, remove neck and gizzards, and place in a large gallon sized ziplock bag, and add oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, garlic powder and thyme.  Mash the bag together and get the mix to coat the whole chicken.  Place bag on a large plate into the fridge and marinate for 24 hours.  Flip bag over 12 hours into the marinade.

Be aware, this recipe takes about an hour and a half to complete cooking.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  When ready to roast, place veggies in the bottom of a 9x13 cake pan.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and some salt and pepper.  This will serve as your "roasting rack" and also helps you get good flavors for your drippings to turn into some tasty gravy.  Place the marinated chicken on top of veggies, and pour all of the marinade on top of the chicken.  Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, and then drop the temperature to 350 degrees.  Continue to roast an additional hour, and then remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes.  Carve  and serve.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

My mom has made homemade spaghetti sauce since I was a kid, and it's always amazing.  Every time it is different, but every time it's delicious.  I am posting the basics she usually uses and then a couple of things I added this time.  You'll want to start this early in the morning so it has time to get all of the flavors to meld.  Follow the basic rules and it will come out good no matter what veggies you use.  Be prepared, this recipe makes a giant vat of sauce, so you'll probably end up freezing a lot of it.  But it will be worth it!

Spaghetti Sauce

2 lbs mild Italian sausage
2 large cans tomato sauce (NOT marinara sauce or pre-made spaghetti sauce.  It's just pureed tomatoes.  You'll find it near the tomato paste.)
1 small can tomato paste
1/2 a yellow onion and 1/2 a red onion, or one whole yellow onion, diced
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 tbsp olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
oregano, basil, thyme and marjoram
pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 c balsamic vinegar

Optional: diced zucchini, diced eggplant, sliced bell pepper, diced tomatoes (for extra texture)

Brown off your sausage, and crumble.  Place this in a large stock pot over medium low heat, and pour tomato sauce over the sausage.  Put a little olive oil in a skillet and saute your onions and garlic til tender, and then add your mushrooms and cook til tender.  At this point you can add your diced zucchini and eggplant and peppers, and whatever else you want.  Add your tomato paste and stir til everything is coated, and then add this mixture to your tomato sauce and sausage.  Stir all of this together til it smooths out and is combined.  Add your balsamic vinegar and stir again.  Cook for about 4 to 6 hours over low heat, stirring about once every half hour.  You can also do this in your crockpot (that's what I did today), but make sure either way you dont cook it above a simmer.  About half an hour before serving, add your spices and seasonings, and salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle over spaghetti or other noodles, and serve.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Are Brussels Sprouts REALLY good?!



All my life as a kid I HATED brussels sprouts.  My mom liked them so she would make them at least once a year.  And every time, I detested them.   So when I saw them in my basket, I will have to admit the thought "WHAT am I going to do with these?!"  I quickly determined that I would need to find a way to use them and try them again.  I needed to find a recipe that would somewhat mask their flavor, because I was still nervous about them.  But I have to also admit, after eating this, I would actually eat it again.  So for all of you brussels sprouts haters out there, give it a try.  You may find you like them, too.

Bacon and Brussels Sprouts Hash

4 slices bacon, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
fresh thyme, about a sprig
about 10 brussels sprouts, trimmed, bottoms cut off, and quartered.
1 lb red potatoes, cut in halves or quarters, depending on size
1/2 of a big red onion, sliced thin
salt and pepper
3/4 c chicken broth
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 c chopped flat leaf parsley

Cook bacon over medium heat til pieces are crispy and fat is rendered.  Add the olive oil.  Add your brussels sprouts, potatoes, and onion.  Stirring occasionally, cook til potatoes are browned and onions are tender.  Add salt and pepper, thyme, and chicken broth, stir to combine and then cover and steam for about 5 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender and broth is absorbed.  Stir in balsamic vinegar and cook til reduced and mostly absorbed.  Fold in parsley, and serve warm.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Apple Crisp

This is a fantastic winter/fall treat, and super easy.  I had 4 granny smiths left from my last basket that needed to be used, and I had gotten the fuji apples this week, so I figured it was the perfect time to make some apple crisp.  Great served warm with a bit of ice cream or whipped cream on top.  I hope you like it as much as me!  (this recipe is never really the same every time I make it, but it pretty much turns out well every time.)

Apple Crisp

6-8 small apples, (I like granny smiths, but any should do) peeled and sliced
1 c flour
1 c rolled oats
1 stick of butter
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon, divided
1 tsp nutmeg, divided in half
1 tsp allspice, divided
1/2 c apple juice
whipping cream or ice cream for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine apples in a large mixing bowl with half of each spice, a tbsp of flour, and the apple juice.  Place sliced apples in the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan.  Using a fork or pastry blender, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, butter, and other half of spices til crumbly.  Top apples with crumble, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Whip the whipping cream with a tsp of vanilla and some cinnamon sugar.  Serve crisp warm with some whipped cream or ice cream on top.

Bacon and Onion Collard Greens

Alright, so I never thought I would like collard greens because they always look soggy and weird on Food Network whenever I see them.  Not the prettiest food out there.  But I got them in my basket this week and so I needed to try to do something inventive with them.  I looked on Food Networks website, and I found something someone posted on Facebook, and changed it to my liking.  See what you think, you might find you like them, too.  Surprised me, too!

Collard Greens

4 slices bacon, diced
1/2 an onion, diced
1 bunch collard greens, washed and stems removed

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add collard greens and boil for 10 to 15 minutes.   Drain, and let cool.  In a skillet, heat bacon til fat is rendered and meat is crisp.  Add onions and saute in the bacon fat, and then add your drained greens.  Cook til moisture is absorbed and everything is heated through.  Serve hot with your favorite protein.  We had it with fried chicken and cornbread.

Oven Fried Chicken

I forgot to take a picture of this one, so we will have to wait til the next time I decide to do this again to get the picture posted.  I made this to go with our collard greens tonight, and it was a hit.  Super easy to make, and tasty.  You should try it!

Oven Fried Chicken

3 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts, each cut in half, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c cornmeal
1 tbsp cajun seasoning
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 c vegetable or canola oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a 13x9 baking dish, pour your oil--you should have about 1/4 to a half inch in the bottom of the pan.  Heat for about 10 minutes.  Combine flour, cornmeal, and seasonings in a large ziplock bag (just add everything and then seal and shake the bag).  Add chicken and shake til all pieces are well coated.  Using tongs, place the chicken in the oil and bake for about 15 minutes.  Flip the chicken pieces over and bake again for another 15 minutes.  Check to make sure pieces are fully cooked all the way through, and serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bountiful Basket, Week 2 Menu

Alright, it took me a bit to figure this out, but I think I have it mostly ready to go.  Mostly this week is side dishes, but I will figure out a main dish to go with each veggie side.  Here goes nothing!

Monday: Sauteed Collard Greens with bacon, garlic, and onion.  Probably do fried chicken with that...or maybe ham.

Tuesday: Brussels Sprouts and Potato Hash.  Uses bacon and onion, too.  Not sure what the meat will be. Might be eggs instead of meat.

Wednesday: Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Italian Sausage--will use the majority of my Italian Pack, if not all.

Thursday: Roasted Chicken with mashed potatoes and green bean casserole (recipe to be determined, but it will not involve cream of mushroom soup!)  Probably some roasted cauliflower too.

Friday: Just desserts... Persimmon Cookies, and maybe another kind of apple tart to use the fujis and leftover granny smiths from last time...maybe poached pears, too.  I think I might get hubby to make sourdough pancakes for dinner...

So that's our plan for the week.  I'll probably use the cherry tomatoes in a salad to go with the spaghetti.  Follow me this week to get the recipes for these creations, and see pictures too!

Happy Cooking!

Bountiful Basket, Week 2

Alright, here we are at Week 2 of our Bountiful Baskets experiment.  One of the many cool things about getting a Bountiful Basket is that you never know what you are going to get, and the only thing you know is that you will have to find some new recipes quick once you find out what's in there!  That is the experience I am having this weekend, and here is what I got:

5 lb sack of russet potatoes
about 8 persimmons
more Bartlett pears
fuji apples
Asian pears
cherry tomatoes
bananas
cauliflower
collard greens
green beans
Brussel sprouts
grapes

I also ordered the Italian Pack which included:

fresh basil, rosemary, thyme, and flat leaf parsley
zucchini
eggplant
1 big red onion
2 big yellow onions
garlic
mushrooms

and the 9 grain bread, which was 5 loaves of fresh multi-grain bread with no preservatives and all natural ingredients.

The Italian Pack and the Bread were both add-ons to the standard traditional basket.  So this week didnt add up to only 15, it was closer to 32.  ($7.50 for the Italian Pack, and $10 for the bread.)

So the challenges this week?  Well...you probably already guessed the persimmons, but also the collards, and the brussels sprouts, and possibly the Asian pears.  The rest should be alright and pretty easy to consume.  I'll be posting my recipes tomorrow, so stay tuned for the adventures!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Chocolate Ganache Cake



Alright, so today is my husband's dad's birthday, and his favorite dessert is chocolate cake.  This man decided one summer that the chocolate ice cream in stores wasn't good enough, and he needed to make a "killer chocolate" ice cream.  So he spent hours in the kitchen scientifically coming up with the perfect recipe for chocolate ice cream.  This man has a true love for chocolate.  So I was commissioned by my mother in law to get a good chocolate cake recipe.  I asked my friend Cindy for a good recipe (she works in a bakery in California) and this is the beauty she sent me. It definitely did the trick! I hope you like it like we did!

Chocolate Ganache Cake

3/4 c softened butter
3/4 c sugar
4 eggs
1 3/4 c self rising/cake flour (important--I used all purpose; it would have been less dense with cake flour)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 oz good quality semi-sweet chocolate to melt for decoration (I used Guittard, but mostly you just want something high quality with no oil or anything, just cocoa butter as the only kind of fat)

Ganache

2 c heavy whipping cream
2 1/3 c semi sweet chocolate chips, again, good quality stuff

Making the ganache (You'll want to do this first so it can chill while you bake the cake) : Place cream into sauce pan and bring to a boil, while stirring the whole time. Add in your chocolate and stir until melted. Just gently move your spatula around scraping the bottom of the pan, don’t “stir” like you’re making a mixed drink. Pour into a bowl, cool, then chill for 2hrs or until it is set and firm. (after cooled and firm) Whip until light and fluffy and set aside a 1/3 of the ganache for later use. The rest of the ganache use to fill cake and cover cake. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line an 8inch cake pan (spring form if you have one) with parchment paper. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the eggs beating well after each addition. Sift your flour and cocoa together, and then fold in your cake batter very gently. 

Pour into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake in oven for about 40min, or until its springy to the touch. Let cool for 10min and then turn out to finish cooling on a wire rack. After it’s completely cooled slice the cake into two layers.  (mine was kinda molten in the center still, not sure it was supposed to be, but it was good anyway)

Melt the decorating chocolate and spread it over a large sheet of parchment paper. Let cool until shine is gone and it’s just set. Cut this into strips just a little higher then the height of the cake. Place strips on edge of cake over lapping just a little. Pipe the reserved ganache in teardrops to cover the top of the cake decoratively (start in center of cake and make a single tear drop, then go out about a half an inch out and make a ring of teardrops around that single tear drop and so on until you hit the edge of the cake). Let it chill for one hour and then serve. 





NOTE : I am terrible at decorating cakes, so I am sure you could probably make it prettier.  I was mostly going for the chocolate overload flavor.  I was nervous that there wouldnt be enough chocolate with the cake batter not using very much cocoa, but trust me, it's plenty!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dessert Week, Recipe One: Apple and Pear Tart


Remember those apples and pears I got from my Bountiful Basket? Well, as of this morning, I still hadn't really used them.  And I had some puff pastry in the freezer because it was on sale awhile ago and my mother in law bought some.  I thought it would be a perfect time to make a yummy apple tart--fancy dessert in half an hour!  I promise it's easy, and I am pretty sure you will love it.

Apple and Pear Tart

1 pkg frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 granny smith apples, sliced thin
2 bartlett pears, sliced thin
1/4 c butter, melted, or 1/4 c cream
flour, for dusting
1 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp apple juice (just to keep things moist. you can use water, but the apple juice has good flavor)

To slice the apples and pears, I just cut the sides off the core, then lay them flat on the cutting board and slice them thin.  This way they lay flat on your puff pastry.

Mix your apples with the cinnamon, tbsp flour, sugar, nutmeg, and apple juice.  Unroll or unfold the dough onto a pastry board and dust lightly with flour.  Roll out til smooth and no creases show (should be about the same thickness).  Place dough on a baking sheet dusted lightly with flour.  Brush the dough with the melted butter or cream, and fold the edges over to create a barrier for the fruit.  Place apples and pears on tart dough, alternating apples and pears, and covering the whole tart.

Each pkg comes with 2 rolls of the dough, so you can make this twice and have enough for a party if you like.

Bake tarts at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.  Drizzle with caramel sauce (I just bought the apple caramel dip stuff at the store, but you can make your own if you want) and then cut into squares and serve (best warm, but just fine cold too).You can also top with whipped cream if you like.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Free Earrings...made by ME!

Check out my cousin Jo's blog for an earring giveaway.  Yes, it's telling you to visit my blog, because I made them.  It's a chance for you to get a FREE pair of earrings.  In order to win you'll need to go to this page and comment on the post, and then go to her Facebook page to "Like" it.

To thank her for throwing me a bone, I would also appreciate it if you followed her blog, too.  We all like to share nice things with each other, so let's pay it forward and be friends!

P.S. If you love the earrings and find out that you didnt win the contest, you can email me and I will let you know how to get other pairs from me too.  I have a load of them left since I decided not to sell them on Etsy anymore. I'd be happy to share with my readers and friends!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Homemade Chex Mix



For some reason Chex mix always reminds me of Fall, and I love it as a snack.  Homemade is so much better than the stuff you can get at the store, and its so easy to make!  I just picked whatever stuff I wanted to mix, along with Chex of course, and mixed it with the seasoning stuff they recommend.   Here is my recipe, try some of your own!

Homemade Chex Mix

1/2 stick of butter
4 tsp worchestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
3 c rice chex
3 c corn chex
3 c wheat chex
1 1/2 c cashews
1 c white cheddar cheese-it crackers
1 c regular cheese-it crackers
1 c pretzels

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Melt butter and then add worchestershire sauce, garlic and onion powder, and salt.  Mix well with a fork or whisk.   In a large bowl combine and toss together cereal, crackers, nuts, and pretzels.  Pour butter mixture over cereal mix, and toss together with hands.  Spread on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper, and bake for one hour, gently stirring every 15 minutes.  Let cool, and then store in an airtight container or large ziplock bag.

Potato Leek Soup



I have been using leeks a lot lately for different recipes and my mother in law mentioned that she loved potato lee soup.  So I thought I would try making it, and this is the recipe I found and tried.  It's originally from food network, but I tweaked it a bit to make it my own and add something I love: sweet potatoes.  Try it out, I think you'll like it.

Potato Leek Soup

6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into a medium dice
3 medium or small sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and medium diced
5 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
8 leeks, whites only, divided in half
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
2 quarts chicken stock
1/2 c flour
1 stick butter
1 c heavy cream
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper

Cut 1st 4 leeks in half lengthwise, and then slice thin.  Put these in a large bowl of water and gently break apart the layers.  Set aside.  Using your fingers, skim the leeks off the top of the bowl and place into stockpot.  The dirt and grit that gets between the layers falls to the bottom, so you want to leave that behind.  Shake them dry after skimming them.

In a large stock pot, combine potato, sweet potato, celery, onion, first half of leeks, bay leaf and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil and continue to boil til the potatoes are soft.  While cooking, prepare second half of leeks the same way as the first and   Remove the bay leaf, add the other half of leeks and with a stick or immersion blender, blend everything til smooth.  Melt butter over low heat on the stove in a separate pot, add flour and whisk til smooth to create roux to thicken the soup.  Add the cream, roux, salt, pepper, and thyme.  Serve with rolls or bread or whatever you like.  :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pineapple and Tomato Salsa



This was a way for us to use up the tomatoes from the garden and use the pineapple I got in my Bountiful Basket.  I was going to have it ready yesterday for the shredded beef tacos I planned to make, but last night we had leftovers instead.  So now we have the salsa made, and I plan to make the tacos either next week, or on Sunday night for Halloween.  I love the sweetness pineapple adds to salsa to balance the spicy of the peppery cilantro and the jalapeño.  I hope you find this as good as I do.

Pineapple Salsa

15 cups quartered tomatoes, any kind
2 c chopped pineapple
1 bunch cilantro
1 onion
5 cloves of garlic
1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, and finely chopped

Put all of the ingredients together in either a food processor or a blender (you might need to do this in batches).  Pulse til combined and chunks are broken down.  Pour into jars and refrigerate til ready for use.  Great on corn chips, tacos, burritos, carne asada, and whatever else you enjoy with your salsa.

Chicken Stock Basics

This was something I did on Monday after I made roast chicken for dinner.  I had the chicken carcass anyway, why not use it?  All I had to do was simmer a chicken carcass with some veggies for a few hours.  Easy, right?It is!  So don't be afraid!  Here are some basic pointers when it comes to making your own homemade stock!

Tip #1 Use a chicken carcass you have roasted or have leftover from when you make a whole chicken dinner.  Yes, you want to use the bones, thats where the flavor is.  If you roast the chicken before hand, the leftover bits of meat still stuck to the bone will provide you with even more tasty flavor.  And you'll be getting more out of that chicken dinner you made!

Tip #2 Use the leftover bits of vegetables like celery tops and hearts, onion peels, etc.  You can throw the garlic in whole without taking off the skin, and just quarter your onions and cut your carrots and celery into manageable chunks.  No need to chop finely or uniformly.

Tip #3  Don't add any salt to this stock.  Stock is meant as a base to soups and other things like gravy and such.  You can always add salt later, but this should be very neutral so you have some versatility.

Here is my recipe for a basic chicken stock.  Of course, you can change these ingredients if you want just a veggie stock or you can make a beef or pork stock too.

Chicken Stock

carcass of one whole chicken, roasted preferably
celery hearts (the center light green stuff that's usually too soft to eat raw) and tops, and stalks if you like
carrots, washed and cut into chunks (dont need to be peeled)
onion, quartered, skins left on or not
3-4 cloves garlic, whole
bay leaf, about 3 of them
pepper corns
6 quarts water

Put everything into a large stock pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, and simmer for about 3-4 hours, stirring every half hour or so.  It will be reduce to about half the volume, and smell like thanksgiving in your house.  Oh, and you can use a turkey for this too.  Just substitute the chicken carcass for a turkey carcass, or beef bones, or pork bones.  Or just the veggies.  Or dehydrated mushrooms.

When done simmering, Drain off your veggies and bones and just toss them in the trash (all of the nutrients and flavor have been infused into the sauce and all you have left are the skeletons of what you tossed in the pot to begin with).  You can keep this in the fridge for up to a week and use it for everything from gravy to soup to whatever else.  You can also freeze it and keep it for up to 3 months.

Chicken and Dumplings



Alright, for some reason I have been craving these for a bit, and they seem to be a famous comfort food.   I remember Mom didn't make them very often when I was a kid, but I remember liking it a lot when she did.  There are a couple of ways of making this recipe, and I chose to use the way Mom used to.  The alternative way is to roll out your dough and cut it into squares and pour all of your chicken and veggies in a casserole pan and then place your biscuit dumplings on top of it all and bake it.  My mom just makes basically a thickened chicken soup and then drops biscuit dough into the pot with the soup.   So that's the approach I used this time.  I hope you enjoy this tasty winter comfort food!

Chicken and Dumplings

3 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, diced fine
3 carrots, diced fine
3 medium potatoes, diced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 quarts chicken STOCK (not broth, there's a bit of a difference, which I will go over at the bottom of this post)
1 tsp each of poultry seasoning, sage, and thyme
salt and pepper

2 1/4 c Bisquick or other biscuit mix
2/3 c milk
(you can also make homemade biscuit dough if you like.  my recipe is posted here.)

Melt butter in a large saucepan or stock pot.  Add onions and saute til translucent.  Add celery and carrots and continue to cook.  Sprinkle flour over veggies and stir till veggies are coated well.  Pour in your chicken stock and then stir;  add potatoes and chicken, and bring to a boil, then simmer on medium heat for about 10 to 15 minutes--till the chicken is cooked through and potatoes are tender.  Add seasonings, and stir.

Mix your biscuit mix and milk together til you get a soft dough, but don't over mix.  Roll lightly into balls, and drop dumplings into your soup mixture, and then let cook for 5-10 minutes.  If you need to test them, take one out and cut it in half, it should look like bread inside but still have kind of a moist outside.

Serve warm.  You don't need any side dishes or anything for this because its kind of a one pot meal.  Makes it even better, not so many dishes to wash.  :)

NOTE:  When you see or hear the word stock versus the word broth, it basically means cooked down more.  So the flavors of stock are more concentrated and have more depth.  I am going to post my recipe for homemade chicken stock next, so check it out.  You can also buy stock at the grocery store in quart sized containers.  Yes, it is more expensive than broth because broth is faster to make and generally just made from chicken bones, rather than veggies too.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Caprese Salad

So last night we had scones, which in Utah is the term used for fried dough, usually stretched out like a pancake, but fried in oil.  Some people might call it fry bread or whatever the local term is.  Here we call them scones.  Typically served hot with honey and butter on them, but also used for savory flavors too.  Last night I made a caprese salad to go on top of them, and it was a pretty tasty combo.  For the recipe for the dough we used, see the pizza dough recipe I posted here (referencing the "basic pizza dough").  Caprese is super easy to make and very tasty.  Enjoy!

Caprese Salad

2 large beefsteak tomatoes, either sliced or wedged
10-12 fresh basil leaves (important to use fresh basil, not the dried)
about a cup of fresh mozzarella, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Roll the basil leaves together into a log shape, and slice thin.  Toss tomatoes, basil, and diced FRESH mozzarella with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.   Let stand in fridge for about 20 minutes minimum.  Serve on the side of pasta, with garlic bread, or whatever else you like.  You can also slice the tomatoes, slice the cheese and then place the tomato, cheese, and basil on a piece of toasted bread, and drizzle with the oil and sprinkle the salt and pepper before eating...good open face sandwich for lunch!  We put this on top of our scones and ate it like an open faced sandwich.

NOTE:  It's important you use the fresh herbs and the fresh mozzarella.  Fresh mozzarella is softer and says specifically on the package.  Mostly the difference is more moisture and not aged at all.  You might have to look in the special cheese kiosk in your grocery store, rather than just the cheese section near the lunch meat because its slightly more specialty than regular mozzarella.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Swedish Meatballs



Swedish Meatballs have to be my main reason for going to Ikea.  Sometimes I go to look at dining tables and couches, but I generally always make my way to the restaurant on the second floor for a plate of those delicious meatballs and potatoes with extra lingonberry preserves.  I mean really, what could be better?  Maybe some of that yummy three layer chocolate mousse cake, or apple tart.  Yep, heaven.  So I found out this recipe online that's pretty close to what you can get at Ikea.  Not quite as heavenly, but still delicious.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.   I made a 2 and a half sized batch and froze a couple sheet pans of them for later.  :-)

P.S. You can go to Ikea and get a big bag of their frozen meatballs and a jar of lingonberry jam so you can enjoy them at home.  I just grabbed a jar of the lingonberry jam so I could make my own meatballs.  Remember to boil some red potatoes to go along with.

Swedish Meatballs

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 c bread crumbs
1 c milk
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil for frying
1-10 oz can of beef broth or stock
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1/2 c heavy cream

Saute onion in first tbsp of oil til translucent.  Set aside and let cool.  Combine milk and bread crumbs and let soak for 10 minutes.  Combine both meats, breadcrumb mixture, salt, pepper, allspice, and onions in a large bowl.   Use a tablespoon or one of those spring loaded scoops about the size of a tablespoon to measure into meatballs and fry in second tbsp of oil in a skillet on the stove, turning on to every side of the meatball so they are cooked on all sides and through the center.  While you are frying all of them, you might want to keep the cooked ones warm in the oven.  Make the gravy by creating a roux with the butter and flour (melt the butter in the bottom of a saucepan, then whisk in the flour) and then pour the beef stock into the roux and whisk to combine.  Right before serving, whisk in the heavy cream and heat through.

Serve with Lingonberry Jam, and boiled red potatoes with the gravy on the meatballs and potatoes.  Enjoy!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Roast Chicken with Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes

Okay, so tonight was about using a chicken I bought a few days ago and the sweet potatoes and parsnips that came in my Bountiful Basket.  It took twice as long as I expected, so next time I will start earlier.  Anyway, it turned out well, so here is my recipe so you can try it too.

Roast Chicken

1 whole chicken
1 onion, peeled and cut into medium wedges
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
olive oil, salt and pepper
1 can chicken broth

Rinse chicken well and pat dry with a paper towel.  Rub with olive oil over whole thing and then sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper and maybe some sage if you have some.   Place breast side up on a roasting pan rack, and then stuff the cavity with half the onion and all of the garlic.  Spread the rest of the onion and the carrots onto the bottom of the pan and then pour the can of chicken broth over it.  You'll use the broth to baste the chicken every 20 minutes.   Set oven to 450 degrees, and place chicken in oven for 10 minutes; reduce heat in oven to 350.  Bake for 50 minutes.  Raise heat again to 450 and bake another 15 minutes.

Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes

3 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
5 sweet potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Set oven to 450 degrees.  Place parsnips, sweet potatoes, garlic, oil, butter, and salt and pepper in some aluminum foil on a baking sheet.  Fold into packet and then bake for 1 hour.

Serve chicken with sweet potatoes and parsnips and carrots and onions.  :)

Bountiful Basket Menu, Week One

Alright, so I have come up with a menu for the week.  I am using what I can out of the Bountiful Basket and also some of the things I planned to make last week but need to use up because things were crazy last week.  So here we go....

Monday: Roasted Chicken with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Parsnips

Tuesday: Swedish Meatballs with Red Potatoes and Lingonberry Preserves

Wednesday: Scones with tomatoes from the garden (might make Caprese salad to go with this)
Thursday: Shredded Beef Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Friday: Chicken and Dumplings

Saturday: Potato Leek Soup

So I will be posting the recipes I haven't already posted previously on here as we go through the week.  I think I will also use the apples and pears for some sort of crisp or tart.  I'll let you know.  :)

Happy Cooking!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bountiful Basket, Week One

Okay, so this morning I got up at 7am with my hubby to go get my first Bountiful Basket and put it in the fridge.  yes, I sacrificed sleeping in on my Saturday for this basket....that's how much I was excited about it, and how much I am dedicated to this new blog experiment.  Yes, I went to bed again when I got home, and yes, I was cranky the rest of the day, but that's beside the point.  Anywho....here is the list of what we got.

1 head of romaine lettuce
1 bunch of spinach
1 bunch of broccoli
1 bag of grapes
2 pomegranates (the big ones)
about 8 small sweet potatoes
3 parsnips
6 granny smith apples
6 Bartlett pears
1 pineapple
4 beefsteak tomatoes on the vine
2 bunches of bananas

I am in the process of coming up with ways to use these ingredients in some creative way that I haven't already used on this blog.  I will keep you posted how that goes and update the blog when I have made something new.  If you have been following this blog, you will notice none of these ingredients are things I have not used before---I have used them each in some way or another.  So this week shouldn't be too much of a challenge to get some recipes for.  My mother in law already used half of the lettuce and half of the spinach, but we will be using the rest of everything else this week.

Happy Cooking!  Go to www.bountifulbaskets.org if you would like to sign up for a bountiful basket or head up a location in your area.  Trust me, you won't regret it.  Did I mention I got all of the stuff listed above for one low contribution rate of $15??  I did.  And there is at least $50 worth of fresh produce in that list.  And they try to keep it as local as possible.  So you get super fresh and ripe produce and you are also supporting your local economy!  Good deal, huh?  So go get started!  You can thank me later.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bountiful Baskets

I just signed up to get my first Bountiful Basket last night, and I am so excited.  When I went to visit my cousin last weekend and saw everything she got in hers I was sold.  I had been thinking about it for a long time, but this time I actually decided to do it.

Because of this new adventure and the wealth of bi-weekly produce I will be getting, I am going to start a new series of recipes that will be inspired by the produce I receive in my box every other week.  I will be needing to find new recipes and new ways to use all kinds of fruits and vegetables, so I look forward to learning new things and trying new foods.

I hope you will follow me with my new adventure and try some new things too!  If you would like to sign up for a Bountiful Basket, check out their website at www.bountifulbaskets.org and check it out!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Crostini...what's that?

So Hubby and I decided it was time to use up the goat cheese we had leftover from when I made the tomato goat cheese tart awhile back.  It had been in the fridge and I had been trying to figure out what to make with it for awhile and tonight I just decided to go out on a limb and try something new.  I came up with this recipe on my own, and it turned out delicious, so I hope you like it as much as I do.

By the way, crostini is basically just Italian for toast.  But when you get it at restaurants or see it in cookbooks, it generally is toasted bread with some sort of topping or spread on it.  Tonight I made different types of toppings for some tasty crostini.  :)  There are 3 things we had with it, though I only made 2 of them (the other was some spinach artichoke dip we got at Sam's Club that needed to be used up).

Crostini

2 long thin baguettes of crusty French or Italian bread
1 large whole clove garlic
2-3 tbsp olive oil

Slice the bread at an angle into 1/4 inch slices, and then place on baking sheet.  Brush with oil, and bake for about 10 minutes at 375 degrees.  When done baking, let cool slightly and then rub each slice with the garlic clove.  Set aside.  (You'll want to do this close to serving time so it's still warm when you serve)

Goat Cheese Topping

8 oz goat cheese
2 tbsp basil Pesto, homemade, or store bought
1/2 c pine nuts

In a mixing bowl, combine goat cheese and pesto, and beat with hand mixer on low til combined, then whip til smooth and fluffy.  Toast pine nuts over medium heat, watching carefully and tossing occasionally so they don't burn.  Let pine nuts cool, and then stir into goat cheese mixture.  Refrigerate til ready to serve.

Veggie Bruscetta

1 tbsp butter
1 medium zucchini, diced fine
1/2 onion, diced fine
1 eggplant, diced fine
4 oz white mushrooms, chopped fine
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 beefsteak tomato, or 4 small tomatoes, diced
1/2 c water

Melt butter in a large skillet.  Add onion and sauté til almost caramelized over medium heat(takes about 10 minutes, once they are cooked through, if you continue to cook and stir consistently, they will turn a light yellow color and begin to caramelize).  Add zucchini and a pinch of salt and continue to cook.  Add garlic, and stir well to combine, and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add half the water, and cover for 5 minutes to let zucchini steam and become tender.  Add eggplant and another pinch of salt, sauté into the mixture, and then add the rest of the water to steam the eggplant.  When all water is evaporated again, add mushrooms, and then finally tomatoes.  Let simmer for about 10 minutes, letting extra liquid evaporate and the flavors to blend together.

To serve:  I spread some of the goat cheese on half of the bread slices, and then left the other slices free to be topped with other things, but we found when we ate it, we liked the goat cheese spread on the toast, and then to spoon on the veggies on top.  Of course, the artichoke dip was good too.  :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Beef Pot Pie

We had this for dinner tonight when my sister and brother in law came for dinner.  I took some ideas from Joy of Cooking, but mostly just inspiration and came up with my own filling.  It will definitely be a repeat though, we all liked it.   I will first give my pie crust recipe, also used in my Apple Pie recipe.  Here goes...

Beef Stew

Pie Crust

(for pot pie recipe, you will need two batches of the below recipe. But just to be careful, I always do pie crust one batch at a time.  Maybe I am paranoid, but pie crust is one of those finicky things that I am extra careful about.)

2 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp cold butter
3/4 c cold shortening
6-8 tbsp cold water

(Make sure the butter, shortening, and water are COLD.  Very important.)

Sift flour and salt together (YES, this is important too.  Helps keep it light and flaky)  Add butter and shortening, and cut in with a pastry blender til butter and shortening and flour form small pea shaped lumps.  Add cold water, a tablespoon at a time, but using half of them during the first addition (4 tbsp first, then mix lightly with a fork, and then add the rest one at a time til the dough forms and comes together just barely).  Do not over mix, and once it combines, divide in half, and carefully form (DO NOT KNEAD) into 2 discs and wrap tightly with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least one hour before rolling out.

Stew Filling

2 lbs stew meat, but I would halve the pieces so they are smaller, and therefore mix into the veggies more evenly
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 c worchestershire sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
pinch sage
1 c finely chopped carrots
1 c finely chopped onion
1/4 c flour
2 c diced potato
1 c finely chopped celery
other things you can add or substitute: sliced mushrooms, peas, corn, or whatever other veggies you like.

Marinate the beef in the balsamic vinegar, oil, worchestershire, and herbs for at least an hour, would be better if you did for 2 hours (right about the time you start making the pie crust).  After marinating for a good amount of time, dump the meat and marinade into a large skillet over medium high heat.   Cook til cooked all the way through, and then add onions, carrots, and celery.  When carrots are tender (they are the crunchiest veggie in the mix), sprinkle flour over all of it, and stir to combine.  Add potatoes and about a cup or so of water, and simmer for approximately 20 minutes.  Potatoes do not need to be fully cooked, because they will finish in the oven, but you do need to take some of the edge off them so they are done at the same time as the pie crust.

Roll out your pie dough and place a layer of crust in the bottom of your pie dish or dishes (you can use these to make personal sized pies, or 2- 9 inch pies).  I put a crust in the bottom and on the top because I LOVE pie crust.  Fill the prepared pie dish with the stew mixture, and then top with another crust, and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour for 2 pies, or 25 minutes if you do personal sized pies.

Serve with your favorite veggie, or just by itself.  One personal sized pot pie covers all of the major food groups, so you're good to go if you just eat that.  Enjoy!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Funeral Potatoes (aka Cheesy Potatoes)

Here in Utah we have a tradition of bringing a large casserole dish of cheesy potatoes to funerals.   Thus the coined phrase "funeral potatoes."  But you don't have to wait til someone dies to eat these!  We also have them at church parties, for Christmas, for Thanksgiving, generally with our ham for Easter....pretty much whenever we feel like eating them.  Everyone around here has their own recipe, and here is mine.  I made them last night and they were a hit.

Funeral Potatoes

2 lbs frozen southern style hashbrowns (country fried potatoes)
1 1/2 c sour cream (you can use the light stuff if you want, I did)
1 lb shredded cheese (I used a mix of pepper jack and cheddar, but traditionally it's just cheddar), plus extra for the top
1 can cream of mushroom soup (one of the few recipes I use this for)
1/2 c milk
2 c finely diced ham
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp chives, dried or fresh
1 c french fried onions (some people like to use corn flakes, but I like the flavor of this better)

In a large mixing bowl, combine sour cream, cheese, cream of mushroom soup, and milk and spices.  Mix well.  Add potatoes and ham, and then combine til everything is coated and mixed well.  Spray a 13x9 casserole pan or baking dish with cooking spray and then pour the whole thing into the dish, and spread evenly into the pan.  Top with more cheese, the french fried onions, and then cover with foil.  Bake at 375 for 35 minutes, removing the foil half way through (prevents burning the onions, but lets them stay crispy at the end).

Serve with ham, chicken, whatever you like, or just by itself.  Generally I like to have a healthy serving of some green veggies to keep myself from eating piles of the potatoes--helps me keep my blood sugar in check!

**NOTE**  I don't thaw the potatoes before I mix them with everything else.  They defrost while cooking in the oven, and it turns out just fine.  You can also use Potatoes O'Brien, which adds more flavor.

Pork Fried Rice -- Using Up Leftovers

So I had all of the leftover pork from the night before sitting in the fridge and I needed to use it up in some creative way so the family would eat it, and so it wasn't like eating the same thing over and over again.  So here is what I did....I added some veggies, diced up the pork, and stirred in all of the veggies, the apples, and the onions with some of the leftover rice I had served with it.  Turned into sort of a stir fried rice thing...and it was pretty good.  So enjoy!

Pork Fried Rice

1 1/2 c diced leftover pork tenderloin
Leftover juices and apples and onions from tenderloin
1/2 c carrots, diced fine
1/2 c corn
frozen peas would work in this too...whatever you have around.
3-4 c steamed rice, depending on how many people you are serving

In a skillet or wok, heat a bit of olive oil.  Add the pork, and cook til warmed and slightly browned.  Add carrots and apple/onion mixture, and keep cooking til carrots are tender.  Add rice and corn and whatever other veggies, and keep stirring til all mixed well and rice is heated through.  Serve warm.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pork with Apples and Onions

This has to be one of my favorite ways to serve pork, and I thought since apples are in season right now, why not make it for dinner tonight?  It's in the broiler right now...and while I still remember what I did, I will tell you how to make it.

Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Onions

1-2 pork tenderloins
1/2 tsp each of coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger, and cloves
1/4 c salt, plus a pinch
1 tsp pepper
1/4 c brown sugar
4-5 medium to small apples, cored and sliced very thin
1 large white onion, sliced thin
2 tbsp butter
1/2 c apple juice or cider

About 2 hours before you plan to start cooking, mix together the spices, salt, pepper, and brown sugar in a large bowl.  Once you have blended everything well, place pork tenderloins into the bowl and coat well with your rub mixture.  Let sit in fridge for 2 hours.

Place tenderloins in a roasting pan and cover with all of the leftover rub (which will now be liquidy from the pork juices and sugar).  Melt the butter in a large skillet, and then sweat your onions in the melted butter.  Add a little salt and once your onions are tender, add your apples to the skillet.  Add your apple juice after a bit of cooking and just cook the apples to barely tender.  Dump this mixture over the top of your pork, and then broil pork for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping over halfway through.

 Let the meat rest after taking it out of the oven and then slice into 1/4 inch slices.  Serve with either potatoes or rice and your favorite vegetable.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Awesome kids clothes.



This is definitely different than what I normally do, but I have an awesome friend who is going into the kids clothing business and her stuff is adorable!   She got her website up and running and you can actually order stuff from it now, rather than just see pictures.  I would love to order one of her hats for a Christmas gift this year, and I am sure you'll love it too.

So check out her website, www.shortarmy.com and I am sure you'll like what you see.  I sure do!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

I found this one in a recent edition of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine.  It looked tasty, so I decided to try it.  I made a couple of changes to the recipe and I think everyone really liked it.  I think next time instead of using frozen puff pastry dough, I might actually use my husband's recently found recipe for pizza dough.   Anyway, enjoy.  Our family certainly did.

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

1 sheet puff pastry dough, thawed
1 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp butter
2 leeks
3/4 lb vine tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or plum tomatoes (or a combination of all of the above), sliced in 1/4 inch slices, or halved if cherry or grape.
2 ounces goat cheese (I would use more than that)
fresh thyme or basil leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 12 inch square.  Mix mustard and sour cream together, and then spread mixture onto dough thinly.  Fold over edges of dough (about half an inch) and seal together by pinching with fingers.   It says to refrigerate this after pinching edges, but I didnt and it turned out fine.

Cut off the bottoms of the leeks and the tops.  You want to have the white and the light green parts left.  Once you have removed the dark green parts and the root ends, cut each leek in half lengthwise, and then slice into 1/8 inch slices.  Place in a bowl filled with water and gently with your hands move them around in the water (this gets rid of the dirt that gets between the layers while they grow).  With your hands, gently strain the leeks from the water and place on a clean kitchen towel or paper towel.  Dry them gently with the towel.   Saute the leeks in the butter with a pinch each of salt and pepper until the leeks are softened.  Takes about 3 to 4 minutes.  Once softened, place your leeks on top of the puff pastry dough and spread them out evenly on the dough.  Top with your tomato slices, and then bake for 25 minutes.

When done baking, remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes.  Crumble goat cheese on top all over the tart, and then add the fresh herbs.

Enjoy!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Zucchini Bread

Consider this Part 2 of the "what do I do with ALL of that ZUCCHINI?" section.  I got this recipe from Lion House, but I altered it to my liking.  Mostly I just lowered the fat and sugar content by substituting Splenda and applesauce.  Hope you like my version.

Zucchini Bread

1 c applesauce
1 c sugar
1 c Splenda
2 c shredded zucchini
3 eggs
3 tsp vanilla extract
3 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder

Mix applesauce, sugar, splenda, zucchini, eggs, and vanilla in stand mixer or large mixing bowl with hand mixer.  Add flour, and combine on low speed til completely mixed.   Add baking soda, salt, cinnamon and baking powder and mix again.  Spoon evenly into two small greased loaf pans, and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

I doubled this recipe twice because we had a lot of zucchini, but this makes a healthy family dose of zucchini bread.   Great toasted and buttered, or just eaten plain.  You can also spoon the batter into muffin pans and make them into 24 muffins.  Cut the cooking time in half, but at same temperature.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pasta with Ricotta and Peas

This recipe idea was inspired from watching Rachael Ray one morning and it sounded pretty good to me.  Simple and tasty.  I love ricotta cheese, and the fresh taste of peas, so it just seemed like a winner.  I am not sure if my husband liked it, but I sure did.  I hope you like it as much as I did.

Pasta with Ricotta and Peas

1 lb box of uncooked pasta, any shape that will hold sauce well (something with grooves or a tubular shape)
1 c frozen peas
1 1/2 c ricotta cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp seasoning salt (I like McCormick's or Lawry's, but it's up to you)
1/2 tsp thyme
Parmesan cheese, to taste, and then for topping at the table

Cook pasta to pkg directions.  While cooking pasta, heat peas in microwave til thawed and warm. In a large mixing/serving bowl, mix the ricotta and spices together til cheese is softened and it is well blended (if you use a whole milk ricotta it tends to be thicker, you need to mash it to get the right consistency; if you use part skim it should just need a light mix).  Just before draining the pasta, reserve about 1/2 c of the cooking water in a mug or something.  You'll use that to loosen things up and make it more like a sauce than coated with cheese.  Drain the pasta, and then dump it over the cheese mixture, add peas and stir well.  Add parmesan cheese if you like, and stir again.   Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What do you do with ALL of that ZUCCHINI?!

So, being an LDS member who has been encouraged to have a garden since I was born, zucchini has always been the curse from September.  It's a doorbell ditch gift that nobody celebrates.  We always had to find inventive ways to use it before it went bad.  So this is how Mom came up with this recipe...she was trying to find other ways to get her kids to eat the stuff.  Oddly enough, even though I didn't like zucchini as a kid, I like it now, and this recipe has A LOT to do with it.   I hope it has the same effect for you!

Zucchini Fritters

5-6 c shredded zucchini, squeezed dry (the stuff holds a lot of liquid, needs to be wrung out after you shred it)
1 c breadcrumbs
1 c parmesan cheese
1 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
pinch each of salt and pepper
2 eggs
1/2 c flour

Mix all ingredients together until well combined.  Heat griddle over stove top or use electric stove.  Grease it well, and then spoon the zucchini mixture like pancakes onto the griddle, and cook until golden, then flip.  I recommend heating the oven to about 175 degrees, so they stay warm while you cook them all.  You'll have to do them in batches of about 5 at a time.  Makes about 25 medium sized fritters, or 40 small ones (for snacks or party appetizers).

Serve warm with ranch dressing, cream cheese, cottage cheese, or just butter and salt and pepper.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Meatballs and Biscuits



This one is a Prows family favorite that my mother in law, Cathy, makes all of the time.  My husband and all of his siblings really enjoy it, and I thought I would give it a bit of a face lift if you will.  The traditional recipe is based in basic meatballs, cream of mushroom soup gravy, and biscuits.  I decided to make homemade mushroom gravy, and upgrade the meatballs a bit, and take it to a different level.  Happily, the family enjoyed them and I was complimented on them and asked for the recipe.  I share it with all of you here!

Meatballs and Biscuits

I will start with the meatballs, then move to the gravy, and then move on to the biscuit dough....

1 1/4 lb ground beef
3/4 lb lean pork sausage (usually the size of the Jimmy Dean Lean tube)
1 tbsp worchestershire sauce
1 c breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 tsp each garlic powder and onion powder
1/2 tsp dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix meats with all other ingredients til well blended.  Form into balls about a 1/2 inch thick, and place in a greased 13x9 in. baking dish, and bake for about 25 minutes.

While Baking Meatballs, make...

Mushroom Gravy

1 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 can chicken broth (about 2 cups)
4 tbsp butter, plus 1 more (separated from each other)
3 tbsp flour
1/2 c milk
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp worchestershire sauce

Melt 1 tbsp of the butter in a skillet, then add mushrooms.  It will look like a lot, but they generally shrink when sautéed.  Cook them til they are about half their original volume.  While this is going, melt the other 4 tbsp of butter in a medium saucepan.  Add flour to the melted butter, and whisk.  It will be still kind of thin, not as thick and dough like as when I make a white sauce.  Add chicken broth to the butter mixture, and stir till all lumps are out of your roux.  Add milk and whisk well.  Add worchestershire, and stir well, and then add mushrooms (at this point, ditch the whisk and use a wooden spoon or something).  Simmer on Low for the rest of the time til the meatballs are done baking the first half of the time.

While simmering gravy and still waiting for meatballs to finish, make...

Biscuit Dough

2 c all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
7 tbsp COLD butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 c milk

Blend dry ingredients together with a fork.  Add butter, and rub in with fingers or cut in with pastry blender.  Add milk and continue to mix with hands.  Dust with more flour and then roll out to 1/4 inch thickness, and cut with biscuit cutter.  Should make about 12 biscuits.

Lastly, pull out the meatballs from the oven, and pour the gravy on top of the meatballs.  Top with biscuits, and bake another 20 minutes.   By then, the meatballs should be fully cooked and the biscuits will be golden on top.  Takes a bit longer because you're baking the biscuits at 375 instead of 425, but you don't want to burn the gravy and meatballs while baking the biscuits.  When you take it out of the oven, just to keep the top of the biscuits softer, it might be good to brush or rub butter on the top of the biscuits.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Homemade Ravioli

Okay, I have been posting a lot lately...because I have made a lot of new things lately!  So here is what we had for dinner tonight.   I had been promised by Jeff's mom to be taught how to make homemade pasta.  I wanted to try making homemade ravioli for my first try, and so I decided to try it today!  Turns out making pasta is really easy to make, and more about method than about the recipe.    Here we go....be prepared, this one is somewhat involved.  I'll start with the actual pasta dough, and then give you the recipe for the filling, and then give you the directions for putting it all together.

Pasta Dough (you'll need about 2.5 recipes of this to use all of the filling)

2 c flour
2 eggs
4 tbsp cold water

In a food processor, pulse together flour and eggs.  Add water, one tablespoon at a time, and then blend til it forms a ball in the food processor.  Dump onto a floured surface and just knead lightly til the flour makes it less sticky, not much.

In a pasta press, start at the widest setting, and run the dough through.  You'll start at setting 1, and run it through, and then fold the dough in thirds, and run it again.  Then you'll move it up to the 2nd setting, run it through the first time, and then fold it, and then run it through again.  As you get to the 3rd setting, you'll stop folding it in thirds and just run it through to thin it out, twice through each setting, til you get to the 5th setting, and then you'll quit.

Before you roll out your dough though, you need to mix together your filling.   Here's the recipe:

Cheese and Spinach Filling

15 oz ricotta cheese
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
4 oz shredded mozzarella cheese (about a cup and a half)
2 eggs
salt and pepper

Mix all of these ingredients together.  Get your pasta dough ready, and use about a half tsp to a tsp of filling per ravioli.  Basically you'll have a long rectangle of pasta dough, and you'll want to place each spoonful of filling about a half inch apart and then place another sheet of pasta dough over the top of the first sheet.  Use your fingers to press the dough together between fillings, and press out as much air as possible from each ravioli.  once they are all sealed shut and no air is in there, use a pizza cutter or rotary cutter to cut the pasta apart.  Place them on a cookie sheet, making sure you don't overlap them so they don't stick together.

**Note** I am so sorry I didnt think to get the camera out.  It would be a lot easier for you to picture this if I had pictures and more of a tutorial.  If you need a tutorial, go to www.foodnetwork.com and search for   ravioli.  There's an Alton Brown video that shows you how to do everything I did.  REMEMBER:  BECAUSE IT IS FRESH MADE PASTA, IT ONLY TAKES 1-2 MINUTES TO COOK.   Just cook it til it floats to the top of the boiling water.

Stuffing...not just for Thanksgiving!

I am a firm believer that you don't have to wait for Thanksgiving to have turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes....and of course rolls and pie!!  This post is only for stuffing though.  I love it!  My mom and step-dad have been making this stuff their own way for years, and I have morphed my own recipe because theirs isn't my fave...sorry Mom!  We were invited to a friend's house on Sunday because they roasted a HUGE turkey and needed help eating it.  This guy knows how to roast a bird, let me tell you... and I brought my favorite side dish to go along side...it even won over the non stuffing lovers...!  Enjoy!

Stuffing

1 pkg herb seasoned stuffing
1 small pkg cornbread stuffing
1 can chicken broth
1 stick of butter
1/2 c celery
1/2 c onion
1 lb pork sausage (usually use the country kind)
1 c cashew halves
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced

Pour stuffing pkgs into a large mixing bowl, toss to combine.  Brown sausage in a skillet, and break into crumbly pieces. Set aside.  In same skillet you browned the sausage in, melt the butter, and then promptly add celery, onions, eventually, when onions and celery are tender, mushrooms.  Sauté veggies together til mushrooms shrink down and veggies are completely tender, and then dump this (make sure you get all of the butter in there too) and sausage into bowl with stuffing mix.  Add cashews and mix well.  Add chicken stock, stirring as you go so you get it moistened evenly but not soggy.  Pour this whole mixture into a greased 9x13 baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Pull out of oven, and stir so the top and bottom are swapped (kind of flip or turn the stuffing so the top doesn't burn and the bottom stuff gets slightly crisped.)  Bake another 10 minutes.

Serve with your favorite fixings, or just on its own.  I love this stuff!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Recycling Leftovers

So the other day I made enchiladas--both chicken and beef.  My chicken version can be found here, and the beef version is very similar. I just use red sauce instead of green, and I substitute ground beef in place of the chicken.  And because I use ground beef, I don't crock pot it, I do it on the stove.  Anywho, I had leftovers of both chicken and beef this last week and needed to figure out what to do with all of them.  Perfect timing, too, because today, I was facing brain block when it came to making dinner.  So I made this...quick, easy, and pretty much mostly done before I started....

Tamale Pie

4 c of leftover beef enchilada filling, recipe follows
1 1/2 c cornmeal
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 c milk
6 tbsp melted butter

Enchilada filling
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small can red enchilada sauce
8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Brown the ground beef in a skillet, break into pieces as it cooks. Add onion, continue to cook.  Add corn, beans, and enchilada sauce, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Pour leftover enchilada filling into the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Mix together flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt,  and baking powder.  Add milk, egg, and then lastly, stir in the melted butter.    Basically, you're making cornbread batter.  Pour this batter over top of the enchilada filling mixture, and bake for 25 minutes.  Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, and whatever other toppings you enjoy (I liked guacamole on it too).

Enjoy!

 (If using the filling for enchiladas, I usually double the beef and use the large can of sauce, and then of course, stuff and roll the enchiladas.  In this case, just use the amounts above and then follow the directions.  Because I had this already made and leftover, I just dumped what I had left into the pan.)

Tabbouleh....

Yeah, I hear you saying it already...what's tabbouleh?  It doesn't sound like something to eat for dinner...but it is!  It's a recipe I got from my grandma (a self taught gourmet cook) and it's very tasty.  It uses wheat bulgar, which is like cracked wheat.  Try it, you'll like it!

Tabbouleh

2 c wheat bulgar
2 c cold water
1 c chopped parsley (I actually used spinach, didn't have any parsley)
1 c finely chopped bell pepper, any color
1 c finely sliced scallions
1/2 c chopped mint leaves
1/2 c feta cheese crumbles (or the block stuff cut into small pieces), optional
1/2 c lemon juice
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl, combine bulgar and water, and let stand for 1 hour.  Add vegetables and cheese and stir to combine. Whisk together lemon juice and olive oil and salt.  Pour over salad and stir well to combine.   Let stand in refrigerator overnight.  Stir well again before serving.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Spinach Alfredo Pasta with Veggies

I made this on Thursday, and I haven't had a chance to sit down and post it til now.  I made a version of this, kind of, awhile back called Linguini Alfredo, but this one is a bit different.  This time I used rotini pasta, and I used chopped fresh spinach and added peas, but no mushrooms.  I like the flavor the peas brought to it, kind of made it taste fresher to me.  I also used sausage instead of chicken.  Anyway, enjoy.

Spinach Alfredo Pasta

1 lb box of pasta, any shape that holds sauce well (I don't recommend the strand kinds, short pastas work better)
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
3 c milk
1/2 c parmesan cheese, grated
1 tbsp onion powder
dash of salt and pepper
2 c chopped fresh spinach
1 c frozen peas
1 c broccoli florets
1 lb smoked sausage, sliced into 1/4 inch slices (we had this stuff we got on sale with sundried tomatoes and mozzarella and spinach, it worked well..but use whatever. you could also use italian sausage in the casing--just cook it all the way through, then slice it into slices, rather than slicing and heating)

Cook pasta to pkg directions.  While waiting for water to boil and pasta to cook, melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Once melted, add flour and whisk to form roux.  Add milk and continue to whisk til smooth.    Add cheese, continue to whisk til smooth.   Add onion powder and salt and pepper, whisk til combined.  Set aside.  In a small skillet, cook sausage slices til heated through; set aside.  Steam broccoli in small saucepan; set aside.  I zapped the peas in the microwave for about a minute to take the chill off, but they dont need to be fully heated.  When pasta is done cooking, heat sauce again, and add spinach to sauce, stir til spinach is wilted into sauce and combined.  Toss pasta with broccoli, peas, and sausage.  Pour sauce over everything, and toss well.

Serve with more parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Grilled Tuna Steaks

Okay, so I made this for dinner last night and never got around to posting it til now.  Sorry about that.   This recipe actually came out of my in-law's barbecue book--the one that came with the grill-- and it has been a hit with Jeff's family for awhile.  I tried it for the first time last year and loved it, and now I am sharing it with all of you.  I strongly suggest using fresh ginger and garlic, it really makes a difference.  I have done it both ways and it was way better the second time through with the fresh ginger--dried ginger just isn't as flavorful.  I served this with couscous, which I will also include the recipe for, after the tuna marinade.

Grilled Tuna

1/4 c soy sauce
2 tbsp dark sesame seed oil
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp minced or grated fresh ginger (or the stuff you can get in the tube at the grocery store in the refrigerated section near the produce)
1 tbsp minced or grated garlic
1 scallion sliced thin
4 tuna steaks, about half an inch to an inch thick

Mix marinade together, pour over steaks.  You can also do this in a ziplock bag, but I did it in a corningware dish so I could flip the tuna and get both sides well coated and soaked.  Be careful with the tuna, it can come apart if you press or pinch it too hard.  After half an hour at minimum, 1-2 hours maximum, grill tuna over medium heat for about 5 minutes per side.  If you like just seared tuna, then just a couple minutes per side.  My family prefers all meat and fish besides beef steaks to be fully cooked, but tuna can get kind of dry if you cook it too long...I liked mine about medium rare, same as I like my steak.

Cous Cous

2 c water
2 c cous cous
1/2 c celery, finely chopped
1/2 bell pepper (I used red), finely chopped
3 scallions, sliced thin
1/2 tsp ginger, minced
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tbsp olive oil
couple drops sesame oil

In a medium saucepan, heat water, soy sauce, olive oil, and sesame oil to boiling.  While waiting for water to boil, quickly saute the vegetables in a bit of olive oil and soy sauce til they are tender.  Once water boils, add veggies and cous cous, stiring well to keep from clumping; cover and remove from heat.  Wait 5 minutes for cous cous to steam, then fluff with a fork and serve.

Enjoy!

Friday, July 30, 2010

What's a Falafel?!

Well....I am here to tell you what it is and how wonderful it really is.  We had it for dinner last night, and it was divine!  Okay, okay, I will tell you what it is.... it's a pan fried patty made from chickpeas (otherwise known as garbanzo beans) and vegetables and other yummy stuff.  You put it in a pita pocket with hummus and all kinds of fresh veggies and tahini sauce.....oh, heavenly!  I am also including a recipe I have for Spinach Hummus.  So branch out of your meat and potatoes box and try something different!  I am sure you will enjoy it!!

** I borrowed this falafel recipe from my friends Damaris and Steve, and the hummus recipe was given to me by my friend Julia.  Both are delicious**

Falafel

¾ c sliced green onions
½ c sliced celery (forgot to get this, turned out alright anyway...but probably would be better with the celery)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, drained  (I used all garbanzos, but I can see why the recipe uses pinto now that I have made them.  Both ways turned out great!)
1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, rinsed, drained
1 egg
2 T flour
2 t lemon juice
½ t salt
½ t ground cumin
¼ t pepper



Heat small skillet; spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Cook and stir onions, celery and garlic until tender;  remove from heat.  Process beans in food processor until smooth.  Combine bean mixture, egg, flour, juice, salt, cumin and pepper in a large bowl; stir in cooked vegetables.  Form mixture into about 24 patties.  Heat large skillet and pour in a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Cook patties over medium-low heat until lightly browned, about 5 min per side.

Serve in Pitas or flat bread w/ cucumber, tomato, thin sliced onion, sliced red pepper, and/or anything else that sounds good.

Spinach Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 10-oz box of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 c tahini
2 tbsp garlic (about 6 cloves.....haha I really like garlic, so I go crazy)
3 tbsp lemon juice (about equal to one lemon worth)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
pepper, to taste (I used a dash)

Process in your food processor, starting with beans and garlic and spinach.  Add tahini and oil and lemon juice, then salt and pepper.  Continue to process til smooth and creamy.  Can be made up to 2 days ahead, kept in a tightly covered container in refrigerator. 

**Assembling your falafel:  Cut a pita bread in half, and separate to make pocket.  Spread hummus inside, then add tahini, veggies, and then a falafel patty.  My in-laws enjoyed adding some of the leftover tzatziki sauce I made for the gyros, but thats not really traditional.  I had sliced a red pepper, some tomato, cucumber and some thin sliced red onion.  You can use whatever floats your boat.  Once stuffed to capacity, stuff your face with it!   Haha.  It's tasty, you'll love it!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Greek Night!!

So I have been wanting to do gyros for awhile, and for some reason, lately I have just wanted stuff from different countries.  So I planned an exotic menu for the week and we shopped for all of the ingredients.  Tonight was Greek Night...we had gyros, greek salad and we're about to have baklava for dessert as soon as it's cool.  I think it was a success, but it was not my husband's favorite.  Though I do think my in-laws enjoyed it.

Traditionally, gyros are made with lamb and beef together,  roasted on a spit and then shaved very thinly.  Lamb is kind of pricey in Utah, so we went with just the flank steak.  It turned out well, even though not quite as authentic.  I include the recipe for the toppings, as well as the greek salad dressing, and the baklava.

Gyros

1 flank steak
steak marinade (I didnt use my recipe this time, I used a bottle of Lawry's steak and chops marinade.  Use whatever you have)
Tzatziki sauce (recipe follows)
tomato and red onion salsa (recipe follows)
lettuce
4 pitas

Directions for gyro below sauce recipes.  (sorry, just works better that way)

Tzatziki sauce

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced very finely
1 c plain greek yogurt (the thicker stuff)
1 tsp dry dill weed
1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic (I used a press)
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper

Mix together, refrigerate til needed for gyros.  Can be made ahead.

Tomato and Onion Salsa
1 small tomato (I used a roma, but whatever you have), diced very small
1/4 small red onion, diced finely
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 c balsamic vinegar

Stir together ingredients, place in fridge til needed.


Marinate flank steak overnight in a ziplock bag.  when ready to serve, grill steak, 5 minutes per side over medium high heat.   Let it rest for a few minutes, then slice it thinly.  Warm pitas in microwave or on very low temp in oven.  Assemble gyros by starting with tzatziki sauce in the bottom of center of pita (fold it like a taco, not like a pocket bread), then the meat, then the tomato onion salsa, and then finally the lettuce.  Enjoy!

Greek Salad

1/2 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 small can sliced olives, or 1/2 regular can of sliced olives (usually this is kalamata olives, but the family likes black olives better.  Use what you like.)
1/2 small block feta cheese, cut into thin strips, or crumbled
1/4 small red onion, diced finely
Dressing, recipe follows.

Greek Salad Dressing

1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/8 c white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 small clove garlic, pasted or pressed
1/3 c olive oil
1/2 c canola oil

Mix together either in a salad dressing mixer or in a bowl with a whisk.  Shake or whisk til well blended.  Pour over salad and toss.

Toss all ingredients together.  Pour over dressing, toss.  Enjoy.


Baklava

40 sheets of phyllo dough (1 full pkg) thawed.
3 sticks butter, melted
5 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
honey syrup, recipe follows

Honey Syrup

2 c sugar
2 c water
1 c honey
zest of 1 lemon

Mix together in small saucepan, bring to boil.  Reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Should be warm when putting on top of baklava.

Directions for baklava assembly

Mix the walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cloves in a mixing bowl.  Set aside.

Layer 12 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing with butter between each sheet.  Keep the sheets moist by covering with a damp paper towel.  After layering the dough with the butter for 12 sheets, top with 1/3 the walnut mixture, and spread evenly.  Layer again on top another 12 sheets of dough, again, brushing each sheet with butter before adding another sheet.  Then add another layer of walnuts.   Top with 8 more layers of the dough sheets, again buttering each time you lay a sheet down.  Top with last bit of walnut mixture, and then cover with the remaining 8 sheets of dough.  Cover the top layer of dough sheet with the rest of the butter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.  Top with warm syrup, then cool completely, and serve.