Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Aren't we all about tired of all of the pumpkin pie recipes floating around this time of year? Here's something totally different...and so good, you could eat the whole thing.

Makes about 8 servings
1/3 box chocolate graham crackers, crushed
1/2 C (1 stick) butter
8 oz cream cheese
1 C creamy peanut butter
3/4 C confectioner's sugar
8 oz whipped topping, split
1/4 C milk
6 oz (1/2 bag) semi-sweet chocolate chips
To Make Crust:
1. Melt butter or margarine. Mix with crushed graham crackers in pie pan. Form a crust.

To Make Filling:
2. Using a hand mixer, mix all ingredients except those used for crust, whipped topping, and chocolate chips.3. Stir in chocolate chips. Fold in 1/2 (4 oz) of whipped topping, remaining whipped topping can be put on top of pie.4. Pour filling into crust. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Crockpot Chicken and Veggies

The credit for this recipe comes from a Pittsburgh Nestie - Cheri. Acutally, she's more of a Fayette County Nestie! :)
I made this last night - working 2 jobs makes crockpot meals a necessity! It was very good and I ate 2 platefulls!
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (fresh or frozen)
2 family sized cans of cream of chicken soup (I substituted with 1 can of cream of mushroom soup)
1 can of chicken gravy
3 white potatoes, cut into chunks
3 carrots, cut into pieces
1 small onion, diced
a handfull of fresh green beans
a handfull of fresh asparagus
1/2 cup water
Just toss it all into a crockpot and cook on medium heat for 6 hours. Serve over warm biscuits.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Philly Cheesesteaks

One of the biggest things we miss about Philadelphia is the cheesesteak. You can't get one anywhere in Pittsburgh that tastes anything like 'em. Plus - Pittsburgh has no idea how to make a real Philly cheesesteak - they do not come with lettuce, tomatoes, and mushrooms!

Sure, you could go to Pat's or Geno's and get your "whiz wit", but the best cheesesteaks come from a little place hidden away in a small shopping plaza (Pennsport Mall) in south Philly - Gooey Louie's. Louie's isn't fancy - not by a long shot. It's mainly a small convenience store with a grill in the back, but it's Philly's best kept secret. Louie's doesn't do "whiz", but that's ok. They top theirs with white American cheese and they somehow manage to get it, well, gooey! The sandwiches are also piled high with about a pound of meat and fried onions.

Let's get started. What I've assembled here is what I think will make the most authentic Philly cheesesteak. I have:

2 large vidalia onions
White American cheese
chipsteak (thin slices of beef)
Italian bread (2 foot long loaves)

The chipsteak comes from a local beef farm. Their cows are free-range and organic. Not that it will make a better cheesesteak, but it's good quality beef.

In a cast iron skillet*, sautee the diced onions with about 2 tablespoons of butter. Season with salt and pepper.

*It doesn't have to be cast iron, per se, it's just my new favorite skillet.

You want the onions nice and caramelized so they are sweet and tender. Then place them in a bowl and set aside.

To get that gooey texture to the cheese, I cut up my cheese into pieces and put it in a double boiler covered with plastic wrap. Let this sit over simmering water and the cheese will melt nicely.

In the same skillet that you fried the onions, brown the chipsteak. I chopped the steak up into smaller pieces before cooking.

Take your Italian rolls and split them down the middle. With a spatula, spread the melted American cheese on the roll. Then add the browned steak and top with fried onions. (I also put ketchup on mine.)

To get the full experience, I wrap them in foil and let them sit a few minutes so all of the flavors can meld, the cheese oozes down into the meat and the bread softens a bit.
Yes - I can see you drooling now! Josh said we should open a restaurant since these were so spot-on. I'm gonna charge $10 for a foot long cheesesteak. Who wants to place an order?

Monday, October 27, 2008

La Lechera

I found this strange cereal in Ollies Bargain Outlet...not in my regular Giant Eagle. I don't think this cereal was ever released in the US, which is evident by the Spanish writing all over the box. You Dulce de Leche fans should recognize this as another type of 'milk' cereal. You're right! In fact, it's corn flakes with sweetened condensed milk. Not frosted with sugar. I had to try it...even if it did come from a bargain outlet..and even if I had no idea where it's been before ending up in Cumberland, Maryland.

These babies are covered in the sweetened condensed milk 'frosting'. So much so that the flakes are a bit on the hard side and need a couple of minutes in cold milk to get to the texture that I like. Man, are they sweet - almost too sweet. I have to wait until the milk washes off some of the frosting to really enjoy this. I want to add strawberries to it..or blueberries. Something that's a little tart to counteract the sweetness.

Still, experimental cereal is a good thing. Wonder why we don't have this in the States.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pumpkin Pie - The Real Deal

Pumpkin pie isn't much of a mystery. All you need is a can of Libby's Canned Pumpkin and the recipe is right there. Believe it or not, it makes a pretty darn tasty pumpkin pie. So what are we doing here? My CSA gave us some 'baking pumpkins' so we don't want the cute little guy to go to waste!

Wash the exterior of the pumpkin in warm water, no soap. Cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds and remove all of the stringy flesh. Remove the stem.
Place the pumpkin in a microwaveable bowl with an inch or 2 of water. Microwave on high for about 15 minutes.

The pumpkin should slide right off of the skin.

Puree the pumpkin in a food processor. You'll have about 6 cups and you'll only need 3 cups for the pie. Freeze the remaining pumpkin for another time!

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Place all of the ingredients below into the food processor and mix until well blended:
1 cup sugar
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
3 cups pureed pumpkin
1½ cans (12 oz) of evaporated milk

Pour the mixture into 2 pie crusts. Ok. I cheated and used the pre-made ones.
Bake at 425 degrees F for the first 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees F and bake another 45 to 60 minutes or until a clean knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

I've never been a fan of pumpkin pie - but I really like it made this way. The filling isn't nearly as pasty and thick as when you use a canned pumpkin recipe. The filling is more flavorful and almost mousse-like. Yum!

Penne with Clams & Mussels

You don't need to go to a restaurant for a fancy seafood pasta! This is so quick and easy to make. You can even substitute the clams/mussels for shrimp or other seafood.
Penne With Clams & Mussles Recipe
2 Large cans of diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, diced
½ pound of littleneck clams, rinsed
½ pound of mussels, rinsed
1 pound of penne rigate, cooked al dente
½ cup of white wine, of choice
3-4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes
olive oil
In a large skillet, sautee the garlic in olive oil. Add the red pepper flakes and let warm for about 30 seconds.
Add the 2 cans of diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add in the white wine and simmer 10 minutes. At this point, I'll take a potato masher and mash up some of the tomatoes in the skillet to thicken the sauce.
Add the basil, clams, and mussels. Simmer for 10 minutes or until clams/mussles have opened. Discard any that do not open.

Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over the cooked penne.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Cabbage Noodles (Halushki)

This is one of my most favorite comfort foods. It's basic - cabbage and noodles - but it takes me back to my childhood when my mum-mum and pap-pap would make this all the time and I'd eat 2 or 3 bowls! Okay - I admit it's presentation is lackluster. Heck, it may even be down right unappetizing to anyone with no experience with Hungarian and Polish foods. Like I said - this is a comfort food and yes, it's an ethnic food as well. Deal with it.

Cabbage Noodles
1 head of cabbage - chopped (core removed)
1 bag of egg noodles
1/2 stick of butter (the real thing!)
1/4 cup of Crisco (vegetable shortening) - it's comfort food, remember!
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large skillet, melt the vegetable shortening and add the chopped cabbage. Sautee on medium heat. Stirring occassionally to keep the cabbage moving and so it doesn't burn on the bottom.

You want the cabbage browned (see below). To be technical, you need to caramelize the cabbage to bring out the sweetness. It will probably take about 35-40 minutes of sauteeing and stirring to get it to this point. Do NOT cover with a lid at any time! You want the water to cook out and caramelize the sugars.

Now you want to boil the noodles. Once they're tender, drain and mix with the cabbage. I like to let it sit on very low heat so that the noodles have time to absorb some of the butter/shortening and the cabbage flavor. Salt and pepper to taste.

Acorn Squash-Butternut Squash Soup

Let me preface this by saying - that is not my ugly bowl. I brought this soup to work and this is one of our office dishes.

As you may already know, I belong to a CSA Farm. It's squash season and they've hooked me up with some acorn squash and some butternut squash. Heck, I don't know what to do with husband won't eat it in any way, shape, or form. So, I figure I'd whip up a soup and take it to work to share with my 5 co-workers. Luckily, it was a hit!

Acorn Squash-Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash - peeled and cut into chunks
1 acorn squash - peeled and cut into chunks
3 granny smith apples, peeled and diced
1 onion - diced
1 clove of garlic - diced
3 14-oz cans of chicken broth
1 Tablespoon Butter
1/4 teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 Tablespoon of sage, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Toss the squash chunks in a little bit of olive oil (to coat) and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees.

While the squash is roasting, melt the butter in a dutch oven or stock pot and sautee the apple and onion for about 10 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic, sage, and the spices (Chinese 5 Spice/Nutmeg).

Add the chicken broth and the squash and simmer for 30 minutes. Place the soup into a food processor and puree until slightly chunky/slightly smooth. You will need to do this in batches. If you have a hand-blender, this would work perfectly.

Season with salt/pepper and serve.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Apple Crisp - With Oats

This isn't your basic apple crisp with butter and flour as a crumb top. This has oats - and it's so much better!
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Toss the apples in the juice of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon of nutmeg.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Stir until crumbly. Press half the oat mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Cover with sliced apples.

In a medium saucepan, combine white sugar, cornstarch, water and vanilla. Cook, stirring, until thick and clear, 10 minutes. Pour over apples.
Cover apples with remaining crumble mixture.
Bake in preheated oven 45 minutes, until bubbly and golden.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pumpkin Scones

Here's yet another way to use pumpkin! These are just slightly sweet and taste very similar to pumpkin pie. So good with my morning coffee!

Scone Dough:
2 cups (280 grams) all purpose
1/3 cup (72 grams) light or dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon
baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted
butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup toasted ad chopped
pecans (optional)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup fresh or canned pure
pumpkin (if using canned pumpkin make sure there are no spices or sugar added)
1 teaspoon pure
vanilla extract

Egg Wash:
1 large
1 tablespoon milk or cream
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling the tops of the scones (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and place rack in middle of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, spices, baking powder,
baking soda and salt.

Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs.

Stir in the raisins and pecans, if using. In a separate bowl mix together the buttermilk, pumpkin puree and vanilla and then add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Mix just until the dough comes together. Do not overmix the dough.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and
knead dough gently four or five times and then pat the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches round and about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut this circle in half, then cut each half into 3 pie-shaped wedges (triangles). Place the scones on the baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash and sprinkle a little Turbinado sugar on top, if desired.

Place the baking sheet inside another baking sheet to prevent the bottoms of the scones from over browning. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 6 scones.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Alton Brown's Fried Chicken

Fried chicken. It sounds simple enough, yet I've never been able to perfect it. Either it's cooked too long or not long enough or it's bland, etc. On an episode of Good Eats, Alton made fried chicken - and I watched it closely. I realized there were a few things I was doing wrong. I was seasoning the flour, which was wrong. Plus, I had the wrong equipment. Alton recommended a Lodge Chicken Fryer. Where do I get one? I checked a few places and thanks to my friend, Cara, I found exactly what I needed at Trader Horn. Sweet!

Yes - this is what I need! A large, deep skillet. Alton recommends cast iron for it's even heating and cooking. Now, for the chicken.....

1 broiler/fryer chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 cups low fat buttermilk
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Flour, for dredging
Vegetable shortening, for frying

Place chicken pieces into a plastic container and cover with buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

Drain chicken in a colander. Combine salt, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Liberally season chicken with this mixture. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

Melt enough shortening (over low heat) to come just 1/8-inch up the side of a 12-inch cast iron skillet or heavy fry pan. Once shortening liquefies raise heat to 325 degrees F. Do not allow oil to go over 325 degrees F.

Place chicken skin side down into the pan. Put thighs in the center, and breast and legs around the edge of the pan. The oil should come half way up the pan. Cook chicken until golden brown on each side, approximately 10 to 12 minutes per side. More importantly, the internal temperature should be right around 180 degrees. (Be careful to monitor shortening temperature every few minutes.)

Drain chicken on a rack over a sheet pan. Don't drain by setting chicken directly on paper towels or brown paper bags. If you need to hold the chicken before serving, cover loosely with foil but avoid holding in a warm oven, especially if it's a gas oven.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pumpkin Pizzelles

I love pizzelles. It's not Christmas without them. I remember hundreds of pizzelles spread across the tables in my grandparents' basement - their second kitchen. Red ones. Green ones. They all had the same flavor, but I still think green was my favorite.

It's a few months until Christmas, but autumn is finally here. So many pumpkin recipes - too many to choose from. The other day, I had a brilliant, or what I thought would be brilliant, idea....pumpkin pizzelles. Some adaptation of the basic pizzelle recipe was required since I would be adding a moist ingredient (pumpkin). The final result, a brilliant idea! I think I'll be headed out to get some cinnamon ice cream to serve these with. Yum!

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup
canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon
vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups
1/2 teaspoon
2 teaspoons
baking powder
1 teaspoon
ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon
ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon
ground ginger

1 Preheat the pizzelle iron.
2 Beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, then add the eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla.
3 Sift the dry ingredients together, then fold into the sugar mix.
4 Lightly brush the pizzelle iron with butter, then drop a teaspoon amount of dough onto the iron. Close the lid and bake for 34-60 seconds.
5 Remove. Before the cookies cool, you can shape them into cones or rolls or shallow bowls, if you want, or leave them flat.
6 Repeat buttering the iron as needed and dropping on dough and baking it until all the dough is gone.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Home Grown Tomatoes

There ain't nothin' in the world that I like better Than bacon 'n lettuce 'n home grown tomatoes.
Up in the morning, out in the garden. Get you a ripe one, don't get a hard 'un.
Plant 'em in the spring, eat 'em in the summer. All winter without 'em is a culinary bummer.
I forget all about the sweatin' and the diggin' every time I go out and pick me a big 'un!
Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes What'd life be without home grown tomatoes? Only two things that money can't buy that's true love and home grown tomatoes.
You can go out and eat an that's for sure. But there's nothin' a home grown tomato won't cure.
Put 'em in a salad put 'em in a stew. You can make your own very own tomato juice.
You can eat 'em with eggs, eat 'em with gravy, You can eat 'em with beans, pinto or navy.
Put 'em on the side, put 'em in the middle Home grown tomato on a hot cake griddle.
Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes. What'd life be without home grown tomatoes?
Only two things that money can't buy That's true love and home grown tomatoes.
If I's to change this life I lead You could call me Johnny Tomato seed.
'Cause I know what this country needs -
Home grown tomatoes in every yard you see!
When I die don't bury me In a box in a cold dark cemetary.
Out in the garden would be much better 'Cause I could be pushin' up a home grown tomatoes. Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes What'd life be without home grown tomatoes Only two things that money can't buy That's true love and home grown tomatoes.

John Denver

Monday, August 25, 2008

la-la-la lasagna!

Lasagna isn't something we have very often. It's delicious, but the time and preparation usually keep me from bothering to make it. However, Josh requested it, and reminded me that it has been a long time.
I always use homemade spaghetti sauce. This time, though, I wanted something different...brighter in flavor...fresher in flavor. Then I saw this huge pile of cherry tomatoes sitting on my counter...hmmm.

Garden Maranara Sauce
2 cups of cherry tomatoes - cut in half
1 small onion - diced
1 clove garlic - diced
1 can diced tomatoes (including juice)
1 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh parsley - chopped
4 large leaves of basil - chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
olive oil

In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sautee the onions and garlic for about 5-10 minutes or until transparent.

Add the cherry tomatoes and sautee about 10 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer another 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Add the parsley and basil and simmer another 10 minutes.

I also browned about a pound of ground beef in another skillet and then added it to the finished sauce.

The sauce was perfect and I cried a little that I had to add meat to it. But lasagna is just so boring without meat.

Lasagna Recipe
1 box of lasagna noodles
1.5 pounds ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella..or white cheddar...or asiago (I used imported provolone)
1 cup of fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Meat Sauce (recipe above)

Boil the lasagna noodles for about 6-7 minutes. You want them to still be a bit firm when you remove them from the pot. Drain the noodles and lay each noodle on paper towel to absorb any excess moisture.

Mix the ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese in a bowl and set aside.

In a 9x13 pan (or lasagna pan), put a layer of the meat sauce on the bottom of the pan.

Then put down a layer of noodles, overlapping the edges.

Take 1/3 of the cheese mix and spread it over the noodles.

Place another layer of meat sauce on top of the cheese layer. Continue with noodles, cheese, sauce. You should have about 3 layers, with the very top layer being sauce. I'll then sprinkle some shredded mozzarella on top.

Cover with foil and bake for about 1 hour at 350 degrees. Allow to cool about 10 minutes before cutting.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I love corn on the cob. I could eat an entire dozen of corn on the cob for a meal. I could eat it every day. However, sometimes, I have too much corn....too much corn that doesn't taste good on the cob.
I had about 3 dozen ears of corn. Some of it was past its prime...some of it was just not suitable for being boiled (or grilled) and smothered in butter. So, I cut it all off the cob - and then placed 1-cup servings in freezer bags and put them in the freezer.
Now I'll have fresh, locally grown corn for several months. It'll be perfect for my chili, chicken tortilla soup, corn chowder, and just for warming with some butter as a side dish. We had that with dinner tonight and it was so good!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


When I was in college, I had a friend from Niagra Falls, Canada. Actually, she's still my friend...I just haven't seen her in 10 years! Anyway, she introduced me to great coffee and doughnuts from Tim Horton's. I thought these places were only in Canada until I saw one in Buffalo, NY last October. I didn't stop and have regretted it since.

Fast forward to today. I'm in Southwestern Ohio and what do I see? Tim Hortons! I had to go in for some Timbits. Good lord, this sounds like something terrible...use your imagination! Really though, it's just doughnut holes...but that's not interesting at all.


Mom Johnson's Macaroni

I'm sure all of our husbands have favorites from mom. This is something that Josh requests quite a bit. I think it's as close as it gets to his mom's version, but of course, I'm sure mom's is better! He calls it "macaroni", but to me, it's "beef-a-roni". Either way, it's pretty darn tasty!
2 Pounds elbow macaroni (cooked al dente)
2 Jars of Del Grosso Meat Sauce
3 small cans of tomato paste
1 large can of tomato juice
1 pound of ground meat
8 slices of American cheese
garlic salt
onion powder
In a saucepot, combine the Del Grosso meat sauce, tomato paste, tomato juice, and american cheese. Let simmer.
While the sauce is simmering, brown the ground beef in a pan and season with the garlic salt, pepper, and onion powder to taste. Once browned, add to the sauce.
Allow the sauce and meat to simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes. Add the cooked elbows and stir. Turn the heat down to "low" and allow the macaroni to absorb the sauce - stirring frequently. Once everything has thickened, it's ready to eat! Even better as leftovers!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pioneer Woman's Chicken Spaghetti

I love reading The Pioneer Woman. Hell, I've even found myself envious of her life. She has some great recipes...and this is the 2nd one I've tried. I like it. It's got good flavor and it's one of those comfort foods. Here's the recipe link:

PW's Spaghetti Chicken
Josh said it tastes just like a chi-chi...which is a delicacy where he works. Ramen noodles, cheese (or cheese puffs), onions, and chicken (or other available meat). Nice.

Korean Beef Stir-Fry

Yay! I've finally made a stir fry that I actually like! I served this with rice noodles.
3 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon canola oil
8 ounces flank steak, trimmed of fat and very thinly sliced against the grain
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 teaspoons chopped jalapeno pepper, or to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
4 cups mung bean sprouts
1 6-ounce bag baby spinach
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, optional

Combine mirin, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Spread steak out in the pan and cook until seared on one side, about 1 minute. Add garlic, jalapeno and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add bean sprouts and spinach (the pan will be very full).
Pour the mirin mixture into the pan and stir gently until the sauce thickens and the spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in cilantro and sesame oil. Serve topped with sesame seeds (if using).

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Blondies

What can you make with a few ingredients that's sweet and satisfying...and you're out of chocolate?! Blondies! Of course, you can toss in any nuts or chips that you like. This is what I had on hand from making the Blueberry Banana Peanut Butter Bars.

6-7 TBS butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder (optional, creates lighter blondie texture)
1/2 cup of white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 350.Line an 8x8 pan with foil and lightly spray with PAM.In a large microwave safe mixing bowl melt the butter. Allow to cool for 5 mintues. Mix the brown sugar with the melted butter and beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla. Add salt, stir in flour and baking powder (if using). Mix in any additions .Pour into prepared pan and use a greased spatula to evenly spread mixture in pan and level the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set in the middle. Cool on rack before cutting.

Blueberry Banana Peanut Butter Bars

Josh found this recipe in an issue of Backpacker Magazine and boy, am I glad he did! I love these suckers. Chewy, crunchy, fruity.....good in every way!

1/4 Cup honey
1/4 Cup brown sugar
1/4 Cup peanut butter
2 Cups of flake cereal (preferrably bran flakes or kashi flakes), crushed
1/2 Cup dried blueberries
1/2 Cup slivered almonds (or nut of choice)
1/2 Cup dried banana chips
1/3 Cup of white chocolate chips

Break the banana chips into small pieces and set aside. Heat the honey and brown sugar in a large skillet and simmer for 1 minute. Over cooking will make the bars brittle. Removed the pan from the heat and stir in the peanut butter. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.
Coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with vegetable oil or PAM. Scoop the mixture into the pan and pack down evenly. Freeze for 30 minutes. Transfer the contents of the pan to a cutting board. Allow to come to room temperature and cut into 9 bars.

Can keep in freezer for 3 months.

Blueberry-Banana Granola Bars

See Blueberry-Banana Granola Bars on Key Ingredient.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

One $4 Chicken. Endless meals.

The $4 roasting chicken is a great thing. I can rotisserie it or roast it...get a good meal out of it. Then I can remove all of the remaining meat and use it for chicken salad, tossed into a salad, or use it for enchiladas. Then I can take the carcass and the giblets and make oodles of chicken stock. This $4 chicken can give me about 8 pints (16 cups) of stock.

Let's do the math. A box of chicken stock is around $3.50 a box. Maybe more. That's about 32 oz. I have about 128 oz just from one $4 chicken. That saves me at least $14.00.

Chicken Stock
1 $4 Chicken carcass and giblets
1 big pot of water
1 onion
3 carrots
3 ribs of celery
3 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves

Simmer all ingredients together for about 6-8 hours. Done.


I'm revising this post. Since I've started making jambalaya, it's gotten better...and so have my photos. I use a lot of the Creole Seasoning, to give it some heat!

1 lb. boneless chicken
1 lb. shrimp, boiled in Zatarain's and peeled;
1 lb. (hot) smoked andouille
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 - 6 cloves garlic, minced
4 ribs celery, chopped
3 small cans tomato paste
1 28-oz. can tomatoes
8 cups good dark homemade
chicken stock
Creole seasoning blend to taste (or 2 - 3 tablespoons);
1/2 package of frozen okra
2 bay leaves
Salt to taste
4 cups long-grain white rice, uncooked

In a sauté or frying pan, brown the chicken, sprinkling with Tony Chachere's seasoning if you've got it; a bit of salt, black pepper and red pepper otherwise. Don't brown if using leftover cooked bird, but you still might want to season the meat. Tear or cut the meat into bite-size pieces.

Brown the sliced smoked sausage or andouille and pour off fat.

In the pot, sauté the onions, garlic, peppers and celery in oil until onions begin to turn transparent.In the same pot, while you're sautéing the "trinity", add the tomato paste and let it pincé, meaning to let it brown a little. What we're going for here is an additional depth of flavor by browning the tomato paste a little; the sugar in the tomato paste begins to caramelize, deepening the flavor and color. Keep it moving so that it browns but doesn't burn.

Once the vegetables are translucent and the tomato paste achives sort of a red mahogany color, deglaze the pan with the about 2 cups of the stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to mix up any browned bits, and stir until smooth, making sure the sautéed vegetables, paste and stock are combined thoroughly. It should be fairly thick.

Add the Creole seasoning, tomatoes and salt to taste. Cook over low-medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the meat and/or seafood and cook another 10 minutes; if you're using seafood, be careful not to overcook it.

Add the rest of the stock, okra, check seasonings, and stir in the rice, combining thoroughly. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and is cooked through. If you haven't checked your seasonings before adding the rice, it's too late! It's much better for the rice to absorb the seasonings while it's cooking. Check seasoning anyway, then turn the heat down to low-medium and let the sauce thicken up a bit, with the pot uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Stir thoroughly to combine all ingredients. When the jambalaya has thickened up a bit and has reached the "right" consistency (you'll know), it's done.