Follow by Email

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


The experts say the meal that builds a strong happy family doesn't have to be dinner. Here are some quick breakfast ideas, if the morning is a more convenient time for you to sit down together.


12 eggs
12 slices of ham
10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and strained (I used fresh, and chopped it finely)
2 cups shredded cheese
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 350F.
Spray muffin tin with cooking spray. Press a slice of ham into each muffin cup. Evenly distribute spinach between muffin cups, and repeat with cheese.
Crack 1 egg to each muffin cup. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until done.
I served ours with buttered english muffins.

Recipe adapted from The Dining Guide, July 2012


8 slices of canadian bacon
4 large eggs
4 english muffins, split and toasted
8 teaspoons mango chutney
4 slices sharp cheddar cheese

Heat broiler.
Heat a large skillet coated with cooking spray. Add bacon, cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove from pan, keep warm.
Break eggs into hot pan, cook 1 minute on each side or until desired degree of doneness.
Place muffin halves, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Spread 2 teaspoons chutney over bottom half of each muffin, top with 1 slice of cheese, 1 or 2 bacon slices, and 1 egg.
Broil 1 1/2 minutes or until bubbly. Place top halves of muffins over the bottom halves.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, July 2003

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I have read a lot lately about the benefits of family dinners. It would seem sitting down together to eat not only allows the parents to model good manners, but also provides a sense of security and an occasion for dialogue and discussion that prevents destructive behaviors and results in children doing better in school.
Preparing meals at home also gives parents the opportunity to teach children about good eating habits, to provide food that is healthy and nutritious, and maybe even impart some cooking skills.
I definitely love the idea that sitting around the table to a home cooked dinner makes for a happier family, and educates and nurtures, but I know in our family, the content of dinner can occasionally be cause for unhappiness.
Here are some of our more recent family dinners - I'm not sure everyone has relished or even liked the food on their plate, but the conversation and sense of togetherness has definitely been appreciated and enjoyed by all.


3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
3 ounces sliced proscuitto, chopped
1 1/2 onions, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28 ounce can Italian style tomatoes in juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
12 lasagna noodles (I used the oven ready kind)
12 ounces ricotta cheese
2 1/2 cups grated smoked cheese, divided (I used a combination of cheddar, pepper jack and mozzarella - all smoked in house)
1 egg

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sausage, saute until browned, breaking up with a fork, about 6 minutes. Add prosciutto, stir 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a bowl.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in same pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and next 4 ingredients. Saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste. Add tomatoes and juice, basil, and sausage mixture. Reduce heat, simmer until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Stir ricotta and 1 1/2 cups smoked cheese in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, mix in egg.
Brush a 13X9 inch baking dish with oil. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce evenly over bottom. Arrange 3 noodles atop sauce. Spread 3/4 cup cheese mixture thinly over noodles. Spoon 1 1/2 cups sauce over. Repeat with noodles, cheese mixture, and sauce 2 more times. Cover with 3 noodles. Sprinkle with remaining 1cup smoked cheese. Cover with foil.
Heat oven to 350F.
Bake lasagna, covered, 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until heated through, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2004 › recipes & menus


4 tablespoons butter
1 onion chopped
4 cloves garlic
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 10 ounce package of frozen peas
1/4 pound ham, chopped
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 375F.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large ovenproof skillet. Add the onion, sweet potatoes and peas and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
Add the ham, flour and thyme and cook, stirring, until combined. Stir in the chicken broth and bring to a boil, then stir in the milk and simmer until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet. Add the panko, parsley and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring occasionally, until the panko is slightly toasted, about 4 minutes. Scatter over the ham and vegetable mixture, let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from the Food Network Magazine, January/February 2013 › Recipes › Pork


1 onion, chopped
350 grams chicken, cut into cubes
250 grams cherry tomatoes, halved
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 pear, cored and diced
1/2 cup burghul wheat
3/4 cup boiled water
400 gram can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
100 grams baby greens
crusty bread to serve
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon orange juice

Heat a large frying pan, spray with cooking spray.
Saute onion for 2 to 3 minutes until tender. Add chicken. Cook, stirring for 5 to 6 minutes until cooked through.
Stir in tomatoes, red pepper and pear. Saute for 2 to 4 minutes until softened. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
Place burghul wheat in a small bowl. Cover with water. Set aside for about 5 minutes until all water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork to separate grains.
In a jug, whisk together the olive oil, white wine vinegar and orange juice to make the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add chicken mixture, chickpeas and salad greens to burghul with dressing. Toss to combine. Serve warm with the crusty bread.

Recipe adapted from Woman's Day


3 large russet potatoes, scrubbed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 pound ground beef
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons beef broth
6 ounce can tomato paste
6 tablespoons parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
grated cheese to serve

Heat oven to 450F.
Prick potatoes several times with a fork and place them directly on oven rack. Bake until tender, 45 minutes to an hour.
While potatoes are baking, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook unit slightly translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the beef, stirring to break it up, and cook about 10 minutes, until browned, add the garlic.
Stir in the worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Cook another 5 minutes.
Remove potatoes from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Cut them in half lengthwise. At this point, you could scoop out the flesh, mix with butter and plain yogurt and then fill the shells with the hamburger mixture and potato mixture. I chose to mound the hamburger mixture onto the plain potato and top with the grated cheese, baking until the cheese was melted, about 5 minutes. Either way is delicious.

Recipe adapted from Parenting Magazine, May 2009

Monday, February 25, 2013


I printed this delicious sounding recipe from the computer a really long time ago, and just recently found it buried at the bottom of my recipe pile. The words were superimposed over an old invitation for a Neighborhood Happy Hour, which was fun to reminisce over, but made it difficult to read the ingredients and instructions!! I ended up having to look the recipe up again (its still there) and cook from the original on the screen.
I put the ingredients together, then baked the cookies later in the afternoon. The dough chilled for about 1 1/2 hours, however, if you don't happen to have a massage scheduled, I'm sure 20 to 30 minutes in the refrigerator would be just fine.


2 cups (12 ounces) chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup dark chocolate chips

In the top of a double boiler, set over hot water, melt the chocolate and butter (or I just melt mine directly in the pot). Allow it to cool. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and vanilla in a mixing bowl until frothy. Slowly add the sugar and beat until the mixture ribbons off the beaters (I'm not really sure what this means). Add the melted chocolate mixture. Stir to combine.
Sift the dry ingredients together. Add to the chocolate mixture and stir to combine. 
Fold in the chocolate chips. The dough will seem more like cake batter than cookie dough. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is well chilled (and more of a cookie dough consistency).
Heat the oven to 350F.
Using a scoop, place balls of the chilled dough on to a cookie sheet. Bake about 12 minutes, the tops of the cookies should look dry and cracked. Allow to cool a minute on the baking sheet then remove to cake racks for further cooling.

Recipe adapted from the Food Network

Monday, February 18, 2013


After Christmas, our family rented an RV and took a trip down South. We stopped for lunch in Tupelo, Mississippi and visited the birthplace of Elvis Presley. Having to explain to the kids who he was took a little of the fun out of it, and they really couldn't have cared less about the King of Rock and Roll.
It is rumored Elvis's favorite food was a peanut butter and banana sandwich, here is an interesting take on the combination. I roasted 3 bananas, but was short on butter so decided to make 1/2 the recipe - the bananas by them selves were absolutely delicious, and made for a sweet treat for breakfast.
My husband commented on how moist these scones were and my daughter just kept correcting my pronunciation of scones! I am sure Elvis Presley never had his accent ridiculed.


3 bananas, sliced
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut into small pieces
2 eggs
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 325F. Place bananas in a medium baking dish. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons brown sugar and bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until bubbly and caramelized. Let cool.
Increase oven temperature to 375F. Spray two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt and 1/3 cup light brown sugar. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
In a medium bowl, beat together 2 eggs, the ricotta cheese and the roasted bananas with a hand mixer until mixed. Mixture will be lumpy. Add banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir by hand until just combined.
Drop dough into 12 equal mounds on baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Brush tops with the beaten egg (I skipped this step). Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
About 5 minutes before scones come out of the oven, make the glaze. Place the peanut butter and 2 tablespoons of butter in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring often until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. When scones come out of oven, place them on a wire rack over a baking sheet and drizzle with the glaze (my glaze turned out to be more of an icing consistency, so there was spreading instead of drizzling).

Recipe adapted from The Dining Guide, July 2012

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Today I have five boys at my house - four of whom stayed over last night, and for the most part it has been very peaceful. Thankfully it has been pleasant enough for them to play outside for a while, and although she was game for a Just Dance challenge on the wii, my daughter has since escaped away on a play date.
After picking the kids up from school yesterday, I was busy in the kitchen, preparing dinner - putting together meat loaf and macaroni and cheese - my efforts were for nothing however as all the boys preferred a peanut butter sandwich to accompany their fruit and broccoli.
I didn't even attempt to cook for lunch today, but sent my husband out to pick up pizza, which the boys enjoyed, along with these cookies.


3/4 cup shortening
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla powder
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375F.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a mixing bowl, beat shortening and sugar with an electric mixer on low speed, until light and fluffy. Add cream, vanilla extract and eggs and beat until well blended. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and vanilla powder and mix well. Add flour mixture to shortening mixture, mix until just combined.
Stir in white and chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoons, 2 to 3 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are light golden brown around the edges. Cool on pans for several minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, October 2012

Thursday, February 14, 2013


This week has felt as crazy busy as the month of December.
There was Mardi Gras cooking to be done, a Fat Tuesday celebration to be attended, Lent to be negotiated, and sick children at home that made it difficult to accomplish anything. Valentines day I organize desserts for our very sweet, very deserving teachers, and then we always cook for friends in the evening.
This year, instead of giving something up for Lent, I decided to add something - of course! A Gratitude Journal, and today, among many things, I am very thankful that after two weeks, all my children are well and back in school. I heart that.


Heat oven to 325F.
Place muffin liners into mini-muffin cups.
Cream together 1/2 cup shortening with 1 1/4 cups sugar. Add 2 well beaten eggs.
Sift together 2 cups of flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon soda. Mash 3 to 5 bananas.
Alternate adding to sugar mixture, 4 tablespoons of buttermilk, the mashed banana and flour mixture. Mix well. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup white chocolate chips.
Fill the muffin cups, and before putting the cupcakes in the oven, slip a marble between the liner and the muffin tin to form an indent.
Bake muffins for 12 to 15 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Treats from Arkansas Kitchens, 1960


confectioners sugar
2 packets unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
pinch salt
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
red food coloring

Spray an 8 inch pan with cooking spray.
Dust heavily with confectioners sugar. In a mixing bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water, and let set 10 minutes.
In a saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/3 cup water. Bring to a boil to dissolve sugar, then boil 4 minutes more.
With mixture on low speed, pour hot sugar syrup into gelatin. Continue beating until completely mixed. Turn mixer to high and beat 10 to 15 minutes more, until mixture has doubled in volume and is completely white. Beat in vanilla and food coloring, if using.
Spread mixture in the prepared pan. Let set 3 hours or overnight. Turn onto a cutting board dusted with confectioners sugar. Cut into desired shapes.

Recipe adapted from Parents Magazine, February 2006


3 1/4 cups flour
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons milk, divided
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon red food coloring
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350F.
Coat a 13 X 18 pan with cooking spray.
Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder.
Whisk together eggs, vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons milk, vanilla, food coloring and vinegar. Add dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Scrape into pan (reserving 3/4 cup). Smooth to reach all the edges.
Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add sugar and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, beating well. Pour cream cheese mixture on top of red velvet layer in pan and smooth mixture until it reaches all the edges.
Combine remaining milk with reserved batter. Stir well. Drop spoonfuls on top of cheesecake layer. Drag the tip of a knife through red velvet and the cheesecake layers to create swirls.
Bake 25 minutes or just until the center is set. Let cool. Cut into shapes using heart cookie cutters.

Recipe adapted from Relish Magazine, February 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013


Mardi Gras seems to have arrived earlier than usual this year.
Thankfully I am always in the mood for Louisiana fare, and joyfully found and fixed this Southern recipe.
In my experience, Creole (of French, African and Spanish Heritage dishes are usually tomato based, but interestingly, this one was not. It did, however, have the perfect amount of spice, and paired beautifully with the cheesy, creamy grits.
In years past, we have been fortunate to celebrate Mardi Gras in Louisiana, always a very fun time. But as I no longer live there, and my husband no longer rides in a parade, we have stayed close to home the last few years.


3 tablespoons butter, divided
6 tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced, divided
3 teaspoons minced garlic, divided
1 (12 ounce) bottle Hefeweizen beer
3/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup green bell pepper, cored and diced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, cored and diced
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Cheddar grits for serving (recipe follows)

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons green onion and 1 teaspoon garlic and cook over low heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add beer and Worcestershire sauce and increase heat to medium-high. Boil to reduce sauce to 1 cup, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
In a small bowl, combine cumin, herbes de Provence, salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, and ground black pepper. Set aside.
In a large saute pan, heat oil until shimmering. Add remaining 4 tablespoons of green onion, remaining 2 teaspoons of garlic and green and red bell pepper. Sprinkle with spice mixture and saute until vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Add shrimp and sear on one side, about 1 minute. Flip shrimp and add reserved sauce, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and cream and bring to a simmer, stirring to coat with sauce. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and serve over Cheddar Grits.


3/4 cups quick-cooking grits
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
pinch of white pepper

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Whisk in grits, lower heat to simmer, and cover, stirring occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cream, butter, cheese, salt, and pepper.

Recipe adapted from Oprah Magazine, June 2012

Friday, February 1, 2013


When I first moved to America, I viewed the Super Bowl as an excuse to drink beer on a Sunday, and watch all the fun advertisements. Not much has changed. I still enjoy the most expensive televised messages of the year over and above the actual competition for The Vince Lombardi Trophy, although now I am more focused on the food than the beer.
Despite the fact I first made these for a darling girls Christening - I thought they might add a lovely touch to the chicken wing and nacho laden tables this Sunday.


1/2 cup butter, softened
5 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup half and half
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 bacon slices, cooked and finely chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add flour to butter mixture, beating at low speed until blended. Chill mixture for 30 minutes, then roll into 28 balls, and place on a baking sheet. Cover and chill for 30 more minutes.
Place dough balls into cups of a greased miniature muffin pan, press dough, forming a crust.
Heat oven to 375F.
Whisk together half and half, egg and salt. Sprinkle bacon into pastry shells, top each with 1 teaspoon of cheese, and about 1 1/2 teaspoons of egg mixture.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack and cool 5 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, June 2011 › Food › Entertaining


1 box white cake mix
1 1/4  cups champagne
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 egg whites
4 drops red food color
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup champagne
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 drops red food coloring

Heat oven to 350F.
Place paper baking cups in miniature muffin pan.
In a large bowl, combine dry cake mix and champagne. Add oil, egg whites and food color. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, remove from pan to cooking rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
In medium bowl, beat frosting ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Frost cupcakes, sprinkle with decorating sugar and pearls if desired.

Recipe adapted from cupcakes, cakes &more, April/May 2010