As a rule I’m not a big fan of ground chicken or turkey. Unless it’s used as an ingredient in a more complex dish, the flavor factor ranks right down there with plain-jane tofu.  I also have an ever-growing problem with ground meat in general. The salmonella outbreaks from those disgusting industrially produced chubs of beef that don’t even get packaged by the people who do the butchering are bad enough, but when I worked in a Grocery Ranch@#153; I worked in the meat department. I loved working there, but the making of ground meat was always good for a bit of squeamishness. After seeing how and what it’s made of, I pretty much prefer to ‘grind’ my own from poultry and good cuts of pork or beef in the food processor at home.  I know the meat is exactly what I want, I can control the fat content and even add spices and herbs from the start. 

This is why I decided to try this recipe, which I adapted from one found at Wicked Good Dinner. Note: You will need an oven-proof skillet or 2.

Tarragon Chicken Burgers
Yields: 4-5 patties

tarragon chicken burger
dishes on permanent loan from Indiana University

For the patties:
2 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 medium onion chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced (more if you like)
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs,
cut into 1” cubes
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 Tbs sour cream
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbs chopped fresh tarragon
1 Tbs chopped cilantro
1 Tbs flour
3 Tbs canola oil for pan frying

For the topping:
4 Tbs Sour cream
zest of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Cut the chicken into 1” pieces, removing skin and most if not all of the fat. Toss the chicken, salt, pepper, 1 Tbs olive oil, yogurt and lemon juice into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until chicken is well minced and no big hunks remain, about 10 pulses.  It will have kind of a disgusting, gluey consistency and you might have to spread it out if it bunches up.

Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet heated over medium heat. Saute onion and green pepper until softened, about 6 minutes. Toss in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Add onion mixture, tarragon, parsley and flour to the chicken glop and pulse until well combined, about 5 pulses.  Fair warning:  the texture will still be gluey… but chunkier.  Divide mixture into four or five equal portions and flatten into patties onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Slide the patties in the fridge for 30 minutes to set shape, or in the freezer for 10 minutes.  While the burgers are chilling, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

chicken burger cooking

When the burgers are chilled, season them with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium heat, until shimmery. Add patties to pan and cook for 4 minutes. Flip patties and throw the pan in the oven for about 12 – 16 minutes. Remove from oven and loosely tent with aluminum foil for 10 minutes.

While the burgers are resting, mix Greek yogurt, lemon zest and garlic in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and place a dollop on top of each burger.

Thoughts after cooking:

  • The original recipe specifies it, but I prefer dark meat because it’s moister and tastier than breast meat. For those of you concerned with fat?  You have ample opportunity to remove as much fat as you want in this recipe, but let’s face it… a little bit of fat goes a long way towards keeping the meat moist and nobody really likes leatherburgers.
  • This could easily be served on a leaf of lettuce with a salad and/or some steamed or sauteed veggies. For that matter, it would probably make a damn fine meatloaf.
  • I’d probably use a bit more flour as a binding agent the next time.
  • Finely shredded carrots might be nice if added to the onions and peppers and a bit of chopped tarragon to the sauce.
  • I really liked the short frying period to brown the burgers and finishing them up in the oven. It seemed to really cut down on the spatter factor.

  • Posted by Mike on Monday, September 20, 2010 at 08:12 AM
    Filed in: EntreesPoultry • ◊ Permalink
    Comments (2)

    So yeah.  Another vegetarian lasagna.  This time made with farm-fresh ingredients.  Literally, as the eggs and zucchini came from my sister Evil’s farm. Happily, I wasn’t required to harvest the eggs myself since I’m still recovering from the emotional and physical scars incurred during The W>eek of the Rooster

    We shall not discuss it except to tell you the following.  When a 5 year old tells you "It's okay with me if you kill it," in reference to their Satan-spawned rooster?  You know that the fowl is indeed foul.  But I digress.

    I always grew up thinking that lasagna was a buttload of work.  Given how the Mom-unit always had frozen, browned ground beef in the freezer I'm not sure if I buy that.  It's far more likely that she refused on principle to attempt to make it since she never learned to cook and hated to do so; condemning us kids to a childhood of burnt fish sticks that scraped our palates raw (literally), ham boiled until it was grey* and vegetables that had the consistency of, but less color or flavor than, than those found in Gerber's finest baby foods. Now I know better.  Though, as she would be the first to mention "none of you died of starvation, did you?"

    Anyway anyway… the lasagna.  This is much more kick ass than the broccoli one I posted earlier. That one was good, but I like this one a lot more.  Unless you're a big fan of the flavor of meat in your lasagna, you probably won't miss it in here. The mushrooms have much the same texture.

    Zucchini & red pepper lasagna

    1 tub low-fat ricotta cheese
    1 1/2 cups low-fat mozzarella cheese
    2 eggs
    3 Tbs pesto
    2 cups sliced zucchini (about 1 large or 2-3 small)
    2 cups sliced baby Portabella mushrooms
    3 cloves minced garlic
    2 Tbs olive oil
    2 jars marinara sauce (40 oz total) I like Bertolli
    9 no boil lasagna noodles
    1 jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped or
    3 red peppers peppers roasted at home

    Combine ricotta, eggs, pesto and 1/2 cup cheese and set aside.  Heat the oil over high heat in a big-ass skillet.  Reduce heat to med-low and saute the succhini and ‘shrooms until some of zucchini is browned and the ‘shrooms have given off some of their liquid.  Add the garlic and saute another 2 minutes or so. Take off heat and set aside.

    Spread a cup of marinara on the bottom of a rectangular baking dish. Put three noddles on top and cover with another cup or so of sauce. Spread half the zucchini/mushroom mixture onto the sauce and top with half of the roasted peppers and half of the ricotta cheese mixture.  Cover with three more noodles and repeat the layers.  Top with remaining three noodles and remaining sauce.

    Cover and bake for 45-50 minutes at 375 degrees. Uncover. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and bake for another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Let stand 15 minutes before serving**.

    zucchini lasagna

    * To be fair, the gray ham was Pop’s doing.  He refused to eat any meat that had a pinkish cast. In his mind that meant that he and the fam would die of Trichinosis or Salmonella poisoning. Indeed, any meat product had to be cooked well past the overdone stage.  I’ll leave you to contemplate the full horror of what burgers or steak on the grill tasted like.

    ** I can’t stress this enough!  There’s a ton of liquid in the marinara, zucchini and mushrooms.  If you don’t wait for it to be reabsorbed, you’ll have lasagna soup. 

    Posted by Mike on Tuesday, August 03, 2010 at 07:29 AM
    Filed in: CasserolesEthnic • ◊ Permalink
    Comments (4)

    What’s better than a soft, chewy chocolate cookie?  How about a soft, chewy chocolate cookie with a peanut butter center?  These cookies are easy to put together and even easier to eat.  You don’t need to chill either dough so there’s no waiting when you want your cookie fix.  Do, however, let them cool before you tear in.  They’re better when they’re allowed to cool for half an hour.  image

    I’m not a fan of recipes with 90000 pictures of every single step but in this recipe I’ll be posting several.


    1-1/2C flour
    1/2 C cocoa
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2C sugar
    1/2 C brown sugar
    1 stick butter, softened
    1/4 C creamy peanut butter NOT the natural kind
    1 egg
    1 tsp vanilla

    Combine dry ingredients except sugars.  Set aside.

    Cream butter and peanut butter with sugars.  Add egg and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients and mix well.  Batter will be very stiff.  Set aside.  Make filling.



    3/4 C creamy peanut butter NOT the natural kind
    3/4 C confectioners sugar

    Mix into a very stiff dough.  Use a measuring teaspoon to scoop out bits of dough.  Roll into 1/2” balls and place on waxed paper.


    This dough is easy to handle.  You don’t need to butter your hands or anything.  Grab a ball of chocolate dough about this big:


    Flatten it out between your palms.  (It’s a very pliable dough.):


    Place a ball of peanut butter in the center of the chocolate circle:


    Bring up the middle on both sides as if you were making a turnover:


    Then bring the ends in towards the middle:


    Til the little peanut ball disappears:


    Smooth out the chocolate-peanut butter disk.  Just pat it a bit:


    Place 2-1/2” apart on a greased half-sheet pan and flatten down a little.  These do not spread much at all.  Bake at 350° for 9 minutes and ONLY 9 minutes.  They will be done at 9 minutes.  Honest.  Let cool a minute on the pan and then transfer to a wire rack.  Cool completely then store in a covered container or ziplock.


    These cookies are not a crunchy cookie although they will have a little crunch on the bottom and around the edges.  If you try to make them crunchy by overbaking them, they’ll be dry as a bone.  You have been warned.

    I get about 20 cookies at the size I make them but you can probably get an even two dozen if you take smaller hunks of chocolate and just flatten it out more.  I always end up with way too many peanut butter balls.  The kids used to eat them back in the day.  Now I just toss them out...except for maybe one :-D

    Posted by Donna on Friday, July 23, 2010 at 05:09 PM
    Filed in: Cookies • ◊ Permalink
    Comments (2)

    Chicken in a pepper

    So peppers were a buck apiece last week and chicken thighs were on sale too. Regular stuffed peppers aren’t high on my list of things to eat, but these were pretty darn tasty.  They looked pretty too.


    4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
    1/4 cup olive oil
    2 cloves minced garlic
    2 Tbs pesto
    2 flat bottomed bell peppers


    Combine the oil, garlic and pesto and toss into a plastic bag. Add the chicken and marinate in the fridge for up to an hour.

    Cut the tops off the peppers. Remove the ribs and seeds and brush the insides with a bit of oil, then season with salt and pepper.  Take the chicken from the marinade and roll up jelly roll style. Stuff two thighs into each pepper and place in a baking pan.

    Bake at 350 until chicken is done--about 45-50 minutes.

    Serve with rice (fried would be extra nice) and sauted veggies.


    Posted by Mike on Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 02:22 PM
    Filed in: EntreesPoultry • ◊ Permalink
    Comments (0)

    I very rarely watch cooking shows where it’s a contest. Due to time, ego and ingredient restraints, you can get some really jacked-up recipes.  The inspiration for this came from Top Chef.  It sounded damn tasty and what’s more, was surprisingly easy to modify into something that could actually be cooked up in the midwest. Fast too.  Most of the actual work is in the alarmingly easy preparation and the cooking time is as close to nonexistent as it’s gonna get while still using a frying pan.  The secret is in the condiments and honestly I’ll try just about anything with Rooster sauce in it.


    3 Tbs Mayonaise
    1 Tbs Sriracha (Rooster) sauce
    1 small red onion, thinly sliced (a mandoline if you’re consistency challenged like I am)
    3 Tbs rice vinegar
    1/2 Tbs sugar
    1/4 tsp salt
    3 Tbs soy sauce
    1-2 Tbs lime juice
    1 anchovy filet, chopped (optional)
    2 smallish catfish fillets (about 1/3 lb each)
    2 toasted ciabatta or hoagie rolls

    Stir the mayo and rooster sauce together, then cover and toss in the fridge.

    Whisk together the rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt, then pour into a ziplock bag.  Toss the onions into the bag and squeeze out all the air before sealing, then toss into the fridge next to the mayo.

    Combine the soy sauce, lime juice, anchovy in a quart-sized freezer bag, Add the fish, squeeze out the air and seal; then toss in the fridge so it can join the condiment party.  Let marinade for 20 or so minutes.

    Heat a skillet over high heat and dry the fish on some towels.  Once it’s good ‘n’ hot, add 2 Tbs canola oil and sear the filets (1-2 minutes per side worked for me).  Spread the mayo on both sides of the bun and place a heaping bunch of the pickled onions on the top half of each bun before serving.

    catfish samich

    Note:  The pickled onions are crazy delicious. They’re gonna be going onto a lot of sandwiches around these parts from now on and may even be eaten by themselves.  The Rooster mayo is spicy, but not as bad as you’d think. If you’ve got tender tastebuds, add the rooster by quarter tablespoons.  The china was liberated from the fabulous Wright Quad Cafeteria at Indiana University.

    Posted by Mike on Monday, July 05, 2010 at 09:59 AM
    Filed in: Fish & Seafood • ◊ Permalink
    Comments (0)

    This is another one of my Meatless Monday experiments that turned out to be tasty and easy to make. Relatively healthy too, after making some substitutions for some of the original full-fat ingredients.  Also, it’s essentially a half-sized recipe; meaning that (if you’re like me and not feeding a small army) you don’t have a butt-load of leftovers to freeze and/or get thoroughly sick of eating before it spoils.  My only issue is that it was a bit dry and could have benefitted from a bit more sauce.

    Broccoli & Three Cheese Lasagna

    1 tub low-fat Ricotta Cheese (15 oz)
    1 lb broccoli florets, steamed & chopped (I had leftovers, use frozen; chopped and dried otherwise)
    2 1/2 cups 2% shredded mozzarella cheese
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    salt & pepper
    1 jar marinara sauce (16 oz) I like Bertolli Tomato & Basil
    1/2 cup heavy cream (sorry… no substitution here)
    8 no-boil lasagna noodles
    cooking spray

    Preheat oven to 400.  Combine ricotta, mozzarella, 1/4 cup of Parmesan, 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper, and broccoli in a big bowl.  In a smaller bowl stir the marinara and cream together.

    Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of an 8 inch square baking pan.  Cover with two noodles, then top with 1/4 of the sauce and 1/3 of the broccoli-cheese mixture.  Repeat twice.  Top with remaining two noodles and sauce.  Cover with remaining Parmesan and mozzarella.

    Spray a sheet of foil with cooking spray and cover the lasagna before sliding into the oven.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until noodles are tender.  Uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes or until edges begin to brown and the cheese is gooey and bubbly.

    Serves 6


    Posted by Mike on Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 10:47 AM
    Filed in: CasserolesEntreesVeggies • ◊ Permalink
    Comments (2)

    This is a great tasting and super easy to prepare combo with mostly stuff you probably have in the pantry. You may be tempted to use boneless chicken, but if you do, you’ll wind up with shredded chicken once you take it out of the crock.  Which actually doesn’t sound too bad now that i think about it.  It’d be kind of a spicy chicken stew to serve over the rice.

    chipotle lime chicken

    Chipotle Lime Chicken
    · 1 cup sliced onion
    · 1 cup chopped celery
    · 1 cup chopped carrots
    · 4 pounds skinless chicken thighs
    · Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    · 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
    · 1/4 cup lime juice
    · 2 tablespoon minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce with 2 teaspoon sauce from can
    · 2 cloves garlic, minced
    · 1 avocado, diced
    · 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
    · Lime wedges, for garnish

    Arrange onion, celery and carrots in bottom of slow cooker. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper and arrange over vegetables.
    In a medium bowl, whisk together tomato sauce, lime juice, chipotle chiles with sauce, and garlic. Pour mixture over chicken.
    Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours. Serve over rice (recipe below) and top with diced avocado and cilantro.

    · 2 cups instant brown rice
    · 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
    · 1 cup water
    · 1 (15-ounce) can red beans, rinsed and drained
    · 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    · zest of one small lime
    · 1/4 cup chopped scallions
    · Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    In a medium saucepan, combine rice, coconut milk, water, beans, thyme, and lime zest. Set pan over high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 5 minutes, until liquid is mostly absorbed. Fold in scallions and season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Plate:  California Poppies for the Santa Fe Railroad by Syracuse China

    Posted by Mike on Thursday, June 17, 2010 at 06:06 PM
    Filed in: Crock PotEntreesPoultry • ◊ Permalink
    Comments (1)

    I’ve been trying to find a something to replace a lost sloppy joe recipe I originally ganked from a cookbook of diner recipes and subsequently lost during a move. This doesn’t come close, but even though I loathe Rachael Ray and would rather have a badger in a sack put over my head and tied around my neck than listen to her insufferably perky, squeaky voice I have to admit that this isn’t a half bad recipe after some tweaking based on comments about the original recipe posted on the Food Network site.

    buffalo style Sloppy Joe

    Buffalo Sloppy Joes

    2 Tbs olive oil
    2 lbs ground chicken or turkey breast
    1 carrot, peeled and chopped or grated
    2 stalks celery, chopped
    1 onion, finely chopped
    1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
    2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 Tbs red wine vinegar
    2 Tbs brown sugar
    1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
    1/4 - 1/3 cup hot sauce (or more to taste)
    3-4 Tbs tomato paste
    1 cup chicken stock
    8 hamburgerburger buns
    1 cup bleu cheese crumbles
    2 dill pickles, chopped

    Heat oil in a large saucepan over med-high heat.  Add ground chicken and cook for 5 or 6 minutes, breaking up the big hunks. Add the onion, celery, carrots garlic and jalapeno pepper and cook for another maybe 8 minutes.

    In the meantime, combine the broth, tomato paste, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce and pour the whole mess into the chicken/vegetable mixture. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until it reaches a nice sticky consistency.  Top with bleu cheese and chopped pickles.

    China: Rose Garden by Lenox

    Posted by Mike on Wednesday, June 09, 2010 at 06:23 PM
    Filed in: ◊ Permalink
    Comments (2)

    Not so much a cupcake as a super-rich brownie masquerading as a cupcake topped with peanut butter frosting. My guinea pigs taste testers comments ranged from “My GAWD this is so rich I can barely eat the whole thing,” to “Why the hell didn’t you bring some milk with you?” to “It’s like eating a reverse peanut butter cup.” And it is rich.  Full of chocolate, butter and eggs.  Definitely not for the faint of heart or the heart-attack prone, but well worth breaking your diet for.

    Double chocolate brownie cupcake with peanut butter frosting

    Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing

    3/4 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
    1 1/4 cup semi-sweet morsels, divided
    3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
    1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    1/3 cup white sugar
    2 eggs
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1/2 cup flour
    1/3 cup chopped, toasted walnuts (optional)
    1/4 tsp salt

    Preheat oven to 350.  Put 8 or 9 cupcake liners in your cupcake tins.  Throw the butter, 1/2 cup chocolate chips and chopped unsweetened chocolate in a double boiler and stir until smooth and melty.  Remove the boiler to the countertop.  Whisk both sugars into the chocolate, then whisk in the eggs one at a time.  Follow with the vanilla, then the flour, walnuts, salt and remaining chocolate chips.

    Divide the batter amongst the tins (about 1/2 cup each) and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Transfer cupcakes to a rack to cool.  Once cooled, ice generously.

    1 cup powdered sugar
    3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (not the natural kind)
    1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
    1/4 tsp vanilla extract
    4 Tbs whipping cream (more as needed)

    Put the first four ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth.  Add whipping cream by teaspoons until the mixture reaches a nice spreadable consistency for frosting.

    Notes: After trying this, I think I’d make this in mini-muffin tins because they’re too much for some people to eat at once.  Also, stirring 3/4 cup peanut butter chips into the batter instead of chocolate chips would be bucketloads of awesome.

    China: Southampton Gardens by Lenox

    Posted by Mike on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 10:02 AM
    Filed in: ◊ Permalink
    Comments (2)

    My husband is nuts for cinnamon anything and while I normally think of monkey bread as a kid thing, I make it for him because, well, I’m pretty sure he’s still a six-year-old at heart.  It is yummy though and I definitely like it too. image

    Lots of people (you know, the ones who have lives) make this with refrigerated biscuit dough.  That offends my sensibilities.  It’s just not the same so since I have no life, I make my own dough.  Way, way better than what that dough boy dude puts out.


    1-1/3 C warm milk (120°)
    4 TBSP butter
    2-1/4 tsp yeast (1 packet)
    1/4 C sugar
    2 eggs at room temperature
    4-5 C flour

    Melt butter in milk.  Lightly beat eggs.  Put both in the mixer, add yeast and sugar and swirl around a bit.  Add flour a cup at a time until you get a nice soft dough that is no longer sticky.  Let the mixer knead it for about 7 minutes.  Turn out, form into a ball, place in a greased bowl turning to coat the top.  Cover with a towel and let rise for 2 to 2-1/2 hours. 

    3/4 C brown sugar
    1/4 C sugar
    1 stick melted butter
    1 tsp cinnamon

    2/3 C brown sugar
    3 TBSP butter
    3 TBSP cream or milk
    2 tsp cinnamon

    Punch down, turn out onto a floured surface and shape into a rectangle.  Slice the dough lengthwise then break off pieces to make 1” balls.  Pour about half of the sauce into the bottom of a bundt or tube pan (not the kind with a removable bottom because oh the mess you will make!) Dip the balls into the melted butter then into the sugar mixture and place in the pan making about 3 layers.  Only fill the pan about half way!  It won’t look like much but after it rises it will more than fill the pan.  Let rise for about an hour or so. 

    Reheat the remaining sauce then pour over the risen dough.  You don’t have to use all the sauce but why wouldn’t you??  Seriously.  Bake for about 30 minutes in a 350° oven.  Turn out onto a plate immediately letting the sauce run over the top.  If you wait to turn it out, the sugar will harden and it will never come that case, go find the chisel because you’ll need it.

    Let this cool for a good 30 minutes because the sugar sauce is basically liquid napalm.  Really.

    Make sure you remove it from the pan right away or you’ll be sorry, I am so not kidding.  Aslo make sure you let it cool before digging in.  You have not felt real pain until you have molten sugar hit the roof of your mouth and stick there! 

    Posted by Donna on Tuesday, June 01, 2010 at 12:09 PM
    Filed in: Breads • ◊ Permalink
    Comments (0)

    There is nothing better than cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  Bill loves cinnamon rolls.  It’s his favourite sweet.  You get these ready at night and finish the rise and bake them in the morning.  Trust me, no one will sleep in when the smell of these baking is going on!  Make them on a Saturday night and your kids will love you Sunday morning.  Seriously, even the brats who give you attitude will be all, “My Mom rocks!” image


    3 egg yolks + 1 whole egg at room temperature
    1/3 C sugar
    1 stick butter, melted
    3/4 C warm milk
    3-1/2 to 4 C flour
    1 pkg yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp lemon zest

    Generously butter a 13x9 pan.

    Add yeast to warm milk (120°).  Let stand.  Beat eggs with sugar and butter until well blended.  Add milk/yeast and beat to combine.  Add salt and zest.  Slowly add flour 1/2 cup at a time until a soft dough forms and pulls away from the bowl.  Dough should not be sticky.  Knead for 7 minutes until smooth and elastic.  I smiley my KitchenAid because it kneads for me.  Just let the mixer run on speed 2 for 7 minutes.  Form into a smooth ball and place in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top.  Let rise an hour or two until doubled.  Make filling.

    Turn dough out onto floured surface.  Form into a rectangle by pressing with your fingers and palms...not pulling!  Use a rolling pin to get it about 1/4” thick and as uniform a rectangle as possible.  If the dough snaps back, let it rest a few minutes then roll again.  Brush dough with the 3 TBSP of melted butter from the filling ingredients staying clear about 1” from the top.  Use it all!  Sprinkle on the filling evenly and spread it out with your hands.  Use it all!  Then pat the filling into the dough a bit.  Start with the edge closest to you and roll tightly.  The more rolls you get the better.  It might seem like a narrow log.  That’s ok.  Turn the log so that the seam is facing up and crimp the edges to seal.  Seal it good!

    image FILLING:
    1C brown sugar (I use dark brown because I like the deeper flavour)
    1 TBSP ground cinnamon
    Pinch of salt
    3 TBSP melted butter
    1/2 C raisins
    1/2 C finely chopped pecans

    Combine all except butter.  Stir well.

    Using a sharp, serrated knife, cut the log in half.  Cut each half into 6 even slices.  Some people use dental floss to get nice cuts but I like the serrated knife.  If you don’t press hard, they won’t squish.  Place each slice seam side up in greased pan.  Let rise half an hour to 45 minutes ONLY!  The should look like the picture below...nicely pouffy.  I like to let mine do a little rise first because the refrigerator will greatly restrict yeast growth.  And it seems to me, the less they have to rise in the morning, the quicker I dig in to a nice warm cinnamon roll!  I’m always thinking.  Seriously.  image

    Wrap them loosely with plastic wrap, not touching the tops of the rolls.  Put them in the fridge overnight - up to about 18 hours.  In the morning, take them out and remove the plastic wrap.  Cover with a towel and put them in a nice warm spot.  I just turn my oven on for 10 minutes then turn it off.  I put the pan on top of the oven.  Let rise for an hour or so.  Since they’re cold and the pan is cold, it will take them awhile just to come to room temp.  They will pop up in the oven even if you don’t wait the whole hour but try to wait.  I like to sprinkle a bit more cinnamon sugar over the top because, hey, what can it hurt!  Bake for about 25-30 minutes until they’re golden brown and your house smells like what I hope heaven smells like.  Make the glaze.

    1 TBSP corn syrup
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 1/4 C sifted confectioners sugar
    2 tablespoons cream or milk
    2 TBSP melted butter

    Put all liquids in a bowl.  Add confectioners sugar until you get a good drizzling consistency.  I use a fork to drizzle it over the warm rolls.  Don’t be stingy!

    Serve warm.  If you don’t eat them all (yeah, right) you can wrap individual rolls in plastic wrap and mic them for a few seconds later on and they’re practically good as new.

    Posted by Donna on Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 05:09 PM
    Filed in: Breads • ◊ Permalink
    Comments (0)

    So I’ve been dabbling with the whole Meatless Monday thing lately.  I’ve been noshing on salads and burritos because to me the idea of pigging out (pun fully intended) on factory-produced Boca or Morningstar Farms seems to defeat at least part of the spirit of the whole thing. Also it seems that a lot of vegetarian cooking can be time-consuming or expensive what with the roasting of the carb-laden root veggies and the purchase of vegetables that are more easily found at Whole Foods than your average grocery store in Upper Bubbastan.  I’ve found a couple of good-sounding fritter/patty recipes that I’ll be trying out soon, but this soup recipe that I’ve adapted from a 15 year old issue of Eating Well (?) was easy as heck, fast to make and only required a trip to the store for 2 ingredients.

    Chickpea & Hominy Stew

    2 tsp olive oil
    2 large onions, chopped
    1 minced, seeded Anaheim chile
    4 cloves minced garlic
    3 cups water
    1 can diced tomatoes
    3 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    (15 oz cans or equivalent amount of soaked beans)
    1 can hominy, your choice of color
    1 can vegetable stock
    2 cups chopped spinach OR
    1 pack frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
    1/4 tsp pepper
    1/4 tsp cumin
    1/2 tsp red pepper, flakes or to taste


    Heat oil over medium high heat in a large pot.  Add onion, chile and garlic.  Saute until onion is just becoming translucent.  Toss in the next five ingredients (water thru broth) and bring to a boil.  Cover the pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Stir in spinach, black pepper, cumin and red pepper flakes and simmer a couple minutes more to allow spices to meld.

    Serves 4-6

    chickpea and hominy stew

    Soup Bowl:  Tuscan Orchard by Lenox.  Spoon:  Etruscan sterling by Gorham

    Posted by Mike on Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 11:27 AM
    Filed in: Soups & Stews • ◊ Permalink
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    image You’ll need:
    * 1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
    * 3 eggs
    * 1/3 cup vegetable oil
    * 1 cup water
    * 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
    * 1 (14 oz) can coconut cream
    * 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
    * 1 cup heavy whipping cream
    * 1 tablespoon white sugar
    * 1 cup flaked coconut

    image Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.

    2. In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, eggs, oil, water and coconut flavoring. Beat for 2 minutes and pour into 9x13 inch pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

    3. In a medium bowl, combine coconut cream with sweetened condensed milk and stir until smooth. When cake comes out of the oven, poke holes into it in even rows using a large fork or chopsticks. Pour milk mixture over, allowing it to soak into the cake. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

    4. In a large bowl, whisk cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar and continue whipping until stiff. Spread over cooled cake. Sprinkle top with flaked coconut. 

    1. You can find coconut cream in the alcoholic mixer section of the grocer OR also sometimes in the Ethnic food aisle.
    2. pour mixture over cake right away but let sit to room temperature before putting into the fridge.
    3. Use your judgment on the mixture. I only used about 2/3rds of the 28 oz total.
    4. Try toasting your coconut before putting it on top. It’s nice and crunchy. I think next time I’ll leave it un-toasted and see which one I prefer.
    5. This is NOT diabetes friendly so don’t over do it. :D

    Posted by rachel on Thursday, May 06, 2010 at 03:37 PM
    Filed in: CakesDesserts • ◊ Permalink
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    I got this recipe out of one of those Pillsbury Bake-off books years ago.  It tastes about as similar to an Entenmann’s Louisiana Crunch Cake as you’ll ever get without buying one.  It’s quick, easy, moist and damned tasty.  This cake has a fine crumb with a tender bite.  (Sorry about the half-eaten cake picture.  I forgot to take a pic until after we got into it.  smiley )image

    A note about making cakes:  make sure your butter and eggs are room temperature.  Add your eggs one at a time and get it mixed all in before you add another.  It will stop your batter from looking curdled.  If you don’t have buttermilk, you can add a TBSP of vinegar or lemon juice to one cup of milk and make your own.  Let it stand for 10-15 minutes.


    3 c flour
    2 c sugar
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1 c buttermilk
    1 c butter, softened - no substitutes!
    2 tsp vanilla
    4 eggs, room temperature
    Butter syrup - recipe below

    Preheat oven to 350°.  Have a bundt or tube pan handy.

    Combine dry ingredients.  Set aside.

    Beat butter until very fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add sugar and beat again, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time making sure each one is fully incorporated before adding the next.  Add vanilla.  Alternately blend in dry ingredients and milk, ending with dry.  Beat only until combined.  Do not overbeat once the flour is all in or your cake will toughen.

    Spray your pan liberally with PAM.  When making cakes, always spray right before you put the batter in because once you spray it, the stuff will run to the bottom and your cake might stick.

    Add a tablespoonful of sugar to the sprayed pan and tap it around the bottom of the pan.  Add batter.  Bake for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, checking at the earliest point.  A toothpick will come out clean and the cake will be golden and firm.  Do not remove the cake from the pan.  Prepare syrup.

    Butter Syrup Ingredients:

    1/3 c butter
    3/4 c sugar
    3 TBSP water
    2 tsp vanilla

    Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.  Cook and stir until completely combined and sugar is melted.  The sauce should be very hot but do not allow to boil! 

    Poke holes in the cake all the way down or as deep as you can go.  I use a chopstick but once I used a wooden skewer and just moved it around to widen the holes a bit.  Pour all of the sauce over the cake being careful not to pour it through the hole in the pan (been there, done that) where it will wind up on the counter instead of the cake.  Let stand 5 - 10 minutes until the sauce is absorbed. 

    Run a knife around the edges and tube of the pan to loosen.  Turn the cake out onto a dinner plate then invert it onto a cake plate.  You want the sauce side up, not bottom side up.  Cool completely.  This cake gets better the next day.  Oh and this is not a wet cake.  The spot you see that looks extra moist?  It’s where the sauce absorbed the most but it won’t have a wet, mushy mouth feel.

    Posted by Donna on Monday, May 03, 2010 at 06:05 PM
    Filed in: Cakes • ◊ Permalink
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    I don’t know why this is called Cajun Shrimp Stew except for maybe the original recipe calls for okra which just blech, ok?  I’m a good little vegetable consumer but okra and beets are two that I will never eat...I’m not so fond of eggplant either but neither here nor there. 

    One of my friends ate a bowl of this at my house, liked it and revised it a bit.  She adds sausage and chicken to make it more of a semi jambalaya.  It’s a recipe you can do pretty much what you want with really.  It’s just so freakin’ tasty and easy and pretty much image everybody has most of the ingredients on hand.


    1 small-ish onion, chopped
    3 or 4 or 5 celery stalks, chopped
    5 TBSP butter
    5 TBSP flour
    1 packet G. Washington Gold
    white pepper
    1/8 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste basically)
    1 TBSP dry parsely or 3 TBSP fresh
    1/2 tsp thyme—I use powdered.  You can use fresh but I never have it so I don’t know how much.  I don’t use regular dry thyme because it doesn’t get soft when it cooks and I don’t like how it kind of pokes your mouth.  If you do use it, use 1 tsp and kind of crush it up a bit.  Powdered thyme is stronger, obviously.

    2 cans low or no sodium chicken broth
    2 cans (or more if you like) minced or chopped clams with liquid
    1 large can stewed tomatoes
    Frank’s RedHot Hot Sauce

    1 lb shrimp, cleaned, tails off—I just use frozen large size shrimp thawed with tails removed


    Melt butter and add the onions and celery.  Cook until translucent.  Combine flour, G. Washington and spices.  Add all at once to celery and onion.  Cook and stir 5 minutes.  Add broth and clams with liquid.  Add tomatoes and juice, breaking up tomatoes with your fingers.  Bring just to a boil.  Season with tabasco and RedHot to taste.  You can make it as hot or mild as you like.  Turn off the heat and add the thawed shrimp.  Let stand 20 minutes or so.

    I serve it in a bowl over hot white rice.  Serves 4-6 people depending on how much you pig down.

    You really have to try this though.  Whatever you add...chicken, sausage, yucky’s just a really quick to make, low prep, tasty dish.  Since you really don’t have too much of a recipe to follow, you can add, subtract and adjust pretty much every ingredient.  I love this stuff.

    Posted by Donna on Sunday, May 02, 2010 at 02:07 PM
    Filed in: Fish & SeafoodSoups & Stews • ◊ Permalink
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