Tuesday, August 26, 2008

White Pizza With Fennel Goat Cheese Rosemary And More Recipe


Homemade pizza dough is so easy, its not funny - so I share that here, then I share with you my latest pizza concoction that included fresh ingredients such as rosemary, garlic, goat cheese, parmesan and even sliced thin fennel creating a wonderful bright tasting pizza. It is also a nice flat bread you can use to supplement dinner with. As I type this recipe out, I think I might make more of this for tonight.

Ingredients:

  • The prep time could be less, depending upon how long it takes your dough to double in size. The first list is for your basic pizza dough, which you can then use to make your own pizza with your favorite toppings....I then list what I used for my fennel inspired white pizza.
Pizza Dough:
  • 1 entire package of yeast
  • 1 cup hot water 110 degrees
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-1/2 - 3 cups flour
  • 1/8 cup of corn meal
  • cookie sheet
  • bowl
  • olive oil
Leah's White Pizza with Fennel:
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced thin with reserved frawns set aside
  • 2 tablespoons or less fresh chopped fine rosemary (I love rosemary, can never get enough, so I use about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 small onion
  • 2-3 garlic cloves minced
  • kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper
  • red chili flakes (totally optional)
  • 1/4 cup or more of parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup of shredded fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or less

Directions:
  1. To make pizza dough, by hand or with mixer with dough hook, add yeast to bottom and add hot water to yeast, let yeast 'bloom' for five minutes.
  2. Add olive oil, then flour.
  3. Add flour and mix by hand or with electric mixer and start slowly at first. Add salt and mix again.
  4. Line bowl and gently drizzle a little olive oil into bowl.
  5. Turn out dough onto working surface and knead for four minutes.
  6. Create ball and put into bowl, greasing the top of the ball dough with the olive oil.
  7. Cover with clean dish towel and set in a warm spot in your kitchen to allow dough to double in size - anywhere from 30 to 80 minutes...
  8. I usually place my dough in the oven with it turned off, it doubles very quickly this way.
  9. Once doubled, turn out onto floured working surface, work with fingers or rolling pin, and roll out into a pie or rectangular shape.
  10. Sprinkler corn meal onto cookie sheet and place pie dough onto cookie sheet. Top with your favorite toppings and cook in 450 degree preheated hot oven for 15-20 minutes.
To Make Leah's White Pizza with Fennel:
  1. After you have made the pizza dough, add crumbled goat cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese on top of dough.
  2. Add thinly slice up onions and sprinkle over the pizza dough.
  3. Add garlic, sliced fennel, salt, pepper, rosemary.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil, then add parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until pie dough is ready.
  6. Cut into strips to serve as a side, or slices to serve up as a meal.
OK, Off I go to make more of this wonderful side dish.... so crispy and light.

Fresh Beet Salad With Cilantro And Scallions A La Leah Recipe


My guy adores beets, and I encourage him to eat as many beets as he ever wants due to the beets' abilities to lower cholesterol quickly. This is a fun dish, easy to make, sweet and bright and super colorful.

Ingredients:

  • 5-8 raw beets medium sized to be peeled and sliced.
  • Large pot of water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 scallions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (preferred) or parsley
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Directions:
  1. This recipe yields about 5 cups of cooked and chilled beets
  2. There are two streams of thought in cooking beets, cooking them whole, then peeling which brings more vitamits to its water which is great to use in smoothies or peel first, then slice and cook which is what I do.
  3. I still reserve the beet water - which as mentioned can be used to add to fruit smoothies, as a cleansing tonic for doing cleansing diets or quite frankly to use as a dye when crafting....
  4. I used my cuisine art to slice up beets quickly after I peeled them.
  5. Place sliced beets in pot, add enough water to cover.
  6. Add sugar and salt and allow to come to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat and allow to cook on a medium simmer until they are just fork tender - maybe 10 minutes depending upon how much you are cooking at once.
  8. Strain reserving juice.
  9. Place now cooked beets into bowl and allow to cool completely in the refrigerator.
  10. Once chilled,take out and add vinegar, chopped garlic, chopped scallions and chopped parsley, stir till combined.
  11. Add additional salt if necessary and serve.
Side Notes:
  1. Keeps quite well in the fridge for up to one week in a sealed container.
  2. I served this up last Saturday as a side dish at my guy's b-day party - I was shocked at how well it went over....
  3. Super healthy beets are great for you, filled with vitamins and the ability to lower bad cholesterol.

Creme Puffs and Vanilla Creme Filling a la Leah - Homemade from Scratch


These extra big and fluffy creme puffs have been made by my mother and I for years, the homemade vanilla filling t'aint bad either! I make them extra big 4 x 5 inches and are usually 3-4 inches tall when completed. As a funny true story, these usually were pre-bought at the yearly church festival when the people knew we were bringing them down...we would usually have to make at least 4 batches....and we would sell them for $5 a piece easily!

Who knew making 'slow food' could be so good!

Ingredients

  • I will list for both the creme puffs and the vanilla filling, though you can easily make these creme puffs half their size and fill with savory foods as well.
  • I include variations on the fillings as well as tips and tricks here for having great fluffy creme puff results.
  • This creme filling can be used as pie filling as well....
  • ****Creme Puffs Ingredients:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter unsalted preferred - can use 50/50 ratio of shortening and butter mix as long as butter is at least 1/2 of the ratio.
  • 1 cup boiling hot water
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 quart pot with lid
  • wood spoon
  • whisk
  • timer
  • parchment paper OR clean brown paper bags
  • large cookie sheet
  • ****Vanilla Filling Ingredients:
  • double boiler - or bowl over simmering water in pot
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 5 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 eggs or 4 egg yolks
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • + 2 Tablespoons sugar if not using optional additional flavorings
  • 2-3 tablespoons optional flavorings: godiva chocolate liqueur, etc.

Directions
  1. Oven needs rack on middle shelf and should be very well preheated to 425 degrees before you start to make your pastry dough.
  2. This will ensure your creme puffs bake as high as possible.
  3. Once in, do not open oven door for any reason until at least 30 minutes have past.... seriously =-0 - or your creme puffs might deflate :-(
  4. Crack eggs into small bowl so they are ready to be added once at a time without having to stop while stirring them in when you are ready.
  5. With pot on stove over medium heat, add all your dry ingredients and whisk till combined: flour, sugar, salt.
  6. Add 1 cup of boiling water to dry ingredients all at once.
  7. Stir with wooden spoon over medium heat till dough is formed and started to come away from walls of pot/pan.
  8. Let dough (while stirring) cook over heat for at least 3-4 minutes then remove from heat.
  9. I usually place pot onto trivet on counter while adding eggs.
  10. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring after each addition until eggs has been completely incorporated into dough. The color of the dough will change from light creme to a nice light yellow yellow.
  11. Once done, take parchment paper or cut up brown paper bags which is what my mom used to do all the time instead of using parchment paper, and line cookie sheet.
  12. Lightly grease parchment paper before adding pastry dough onto cookie sheet and parchment paper.
  13. With large spoon create and divide from bowl: six dollops of pastry dough onto cookie sheet leaving at least 2 inches in between globs of pastry dough.
  14. They will double in size easily once they start baking.
  15. Taking a fork, create small peaks in the pastry dough by pulling up dough slightly with fork....like you might do with the top of a cake when frosting or with meringue to make it look pretty.
  16. Once ready, with oven mitt handy, place cookie sheet onto middle rack of oven and close door gently and immediately.
  17. Bake for 30 minutes - DO NOT PEEK or OPEN DOOR for first two thirds of baking time. After 25 or 30 minutes, your creme puffs are done.
  18. You should though allow them to stay in oven, with oven turned off and oven door ajar (left open slightly) to ensure any beads of moisture no longer is seen on the tops of your creme puffs have dried away - maybe ten minutes.
  19. Keep in a dry and warm place until ready to fill and serve.
  20. This will ensure a dry and crispy creme puff that has more staying power then one which is soggy and flat, think not pretty.
  21. Once cooled, fill with creme filling noted below, or with a filling of your choice including savory fillings such as lumped crab mix salad, mushroom mousse, etc.
  22. ***Creme Filling directions:
  23. In double boiler, add the following ingredients: all dry ingredients, sugar, flour, salt over medium heat.
  24. Add 2 cups of milk slowly and whisk in milk.
  25. Stirring constantly, cook over heat until mixture starts to thicken - 5 minutes.
  26. Cover with lid, and let cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  27. While that cooks, crack eggs into bowl and stir to mix eggs.
  28. Remove from heat (take out that trivet again) add a little bit of the hot mixture to the eggs to temper them, then add beaten eggs back into the hot mixture and stir to quickly combine eggs with hot mixture.
  29. Put back onto stove over heat and allow to cook for 2 full minutes. Remove from heat.
  30. Add butter and vanilla extract and allow to cool.
  31. Once slightly cooled, add to fridge with lid to completely chill.
  32. Once chilled, whip up heavy cream, adding the additional sugar and any extra flavorings you might like, then add whipped cream to creme filling which will be rather stiff now.
  33. The whipped cream will 'lighten' the creme filling which you can now use to fill your creme puffs.
  34. You can slice them in half, or cut slits in them and fill with spoon or pastry bag if you are so inclined to use your kitchen gadgets.
  35. Serve creme puffs on pretty plates, serve up plain or the preferred way: sprinkle with confectioner's sugar plain or with a bit of cocoa in it for extra flair.....
  36. Enjoy these crowd-pleasing favorites which are not too sweet, but instead something really fancy that people will think you labored more than you actually did!
  37. Make 'em drool with jealousy!!!!
  38. Should there be leftovers - they can stay in the fridge over night, but I would suggest eating them up the next day.


Friday, August 8, 2008

Navy Bean Soup ala Leah - Learn to Make Authentic Navy Bean Soup like Grandma Used to do


Now who doesn't recall growing up with bean soup?!? It was a favorite of mine of those people who put soup in those red and white cans. This is my mom's version that I have tweaked making it affordable and yet another reason not to throw out that ham bone just yet. For extra fun add sliced hot dogs for those kids in your family - you can easily substitute lentils, dried back or pea beans for this amazing hearty meal.

And yes, yet another recipe to make with a left over ham bone.

Ingredients:

  • Prep Time does not include soaking dried beans overnight. Please note.
  • This may be a big list of ingredients, but it really adds to the overall complexity of savory taste of real authentic bean soup.
  • I also show how to avoid soaking beans overnight in the directions if you are in a hurry....
  • 1 bag of dried navy beans
  • 2-1/2 quarts of water
  • 1/3 cup diced salt pork or bacon (I prefer bacon - use 5 or so slices)
  • 3/4 cup finely diced carrots - 2 carrots
  • 1 large onion diced finely
  • 3/4 cup celery diced finely - 2 stalks
  • 1/2 can of tomato paste (the small can)
  • 1 cup potato - diced finely, 1 large potato
  • 2 garlic cloves minced finely
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 -1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 leftover ham bone or shank
  • 4 hot dogs sliced (optional - but oh so good and homey)
  • stock pot with lid

Directions:

  1. I will try and keep the how to short, but it is worth every step. This recipe will do great on a Saturday or Sunday and when you need to feed dinner with only a few funds...its super delicious, and as mentioned in the description, you may substitute the navy beans for black bean, lentils or even pea beans.
  2. Take large soup pot and put water in half way.
  3. Rinse beans, looking for any pebbles or icky things that shouldn't be there.
  4. Add rinsed beans to pot and let sit on counter over night or at least 10 hours. Change water at least once.
  5. In A HURRY? After soaking for 30 minutes, drain water, and add enough water to cover beans plus 2 added cups water and let simmer for 3 hours.
  6. Proceed as directed without adding additional water.
  7. ***Back to normal directions***
  8. In morning, or after 10 hours, rinse beans completely and set aside for the moment.
  9. To stock pot, add a little drizzle of olive oil, add salt pork or bacon and cook for at least 5 minutes.
  10. Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to pot and sweat till soft NOT brown for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  11. Add navy beans to pot, all remaining ingredients (except for hot dogs) including 2-1/2 quarts water and let come to a boil.
  12. Turn down and let simmer for 2 hours.
  13. Remove ham bone and bay leaves.
  14. Add sliced hot dogs to pot and simmer for additional 10 minutes and serve it up in large soup bowls.
  15. Add freshly minced chives or parsley for added garnish.
  16. Photo I grabbed from tasteofhome.com

Ham Leftovers and Fresh Corn Chowder Recipe with Ham, Bacon and Pimentos

I have been writing a variety of recipes as of late, in how to reuse leftover chicken and/or ham to happily and enjoyably create a new meal that has no link to its precooked past. And since with my previous posts, I thought to add more delicious recipes and how to ideas on what to do with a ham.

Now one thing I have learned from my mother and was a famous quote by Dorothy Parker is that: "Eternity is two people and a ham". Now I couldn't agree more with Dorothy Parker or my mother. In fact this quote has been repeated by many other people, but I do believe that good 'ol Dorothy said it first - it sounds like her anyway if you are familiar with her work.

So you have a left over ham, now what!? Ham has become a wonderful way to affordably serve many people, and recently I noticed rather good prices in the stores for Ham and will probably pick one up next week. But as with all hams, I know I will have leftovers once I glaze that baby in the oven.

So as I mentioned the other day, I can easily make, egg omlettes with ham, quick quiche Leah, Split Pea Soup - which I made at the end of the 'ham's life', and spaghetti carbonara and chowder of some sort.

So today, I will share my Fresh Corn Chowder recipe:

Easy quick chowder idea for using up leftover ham and doing something with the corn you bought the other day since it was in season. Affordable meal goes a long way to feeding everyone nicely, served up with nice hearty garlic bread and a salad, and you have made yourself a meal to be remembered!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup or more diced cooked ham
  • 1 can of cream style corn (no. 2 can)
  • 2-4 ears of fresh corn on the cob, with corn removed and 'milk' reserved
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1-2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 quart milk
  • 2 tablespoons flour (optional thickener)
  • 4 cups potatoes, skins removed and diced - keep in large bowl of water to prevent browning until ready to throw in soup pot
  • 1/2 cup minced and drained of their juices pimento
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parlsey chopped for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons green onions/scallions for garnish and extra zing
  • salt and pepper
  • soup pot/stock pot
  • could be done in slow cooker while first browning bacon, ham, onions and fresh corn.
  • tablespoon or two of olive oil

Directions:
  1. Either in stock pot, add olive oil to cool pot.
  2. Add bacon and onions and let saute and brown slightly and add garlic, diced ham and cook for two more minutes to heat through.
  3. Remove and drain from pot and set aside but reserve fat.
  4. Add one tablespoon of the bacon fat back into the pot and add drained fresh corn (remember to save the milk from the fresh corn - you can add it to the milk you will be adding)
  5. Cook corn till slightly browned, then if using flower to thicken soup, add flour now stirring it until absorbed.
  6. Add milk and stir in slowly.
  7. Add potatoes, and all other ingredients to the pot (except for green onions and parsley).
  8. Taste first, then add salt and pepper per your liking.
  9. Once at a boil, turn down heat and let cook for 30 minutes.
  10. Serve in pretty bowls and top with fresh garnishes of minced chives/green onions and parsley. Add some fresh cracked pepper to the top and serve it up.
  11. I grabbed photo from tesco.com but looks quote close to my version indeed, except for mine has larger pieces of potatoes and its missing fresh garnishes!
  12. Enjoy this affordable quick meal to feed your family fast and deliciously!

Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwich Ala Leah



Easy to do dinner/lunch idea with left over chicken or w/ one of those rotisserie chickens from the store - use your own BBQ sauce or already pre-made, add your cheese on toasted heart bread - its a quick winner with wow taste your family will love.

Ingredients

  • Cooking time is mentioned if using to make your own BBQ sauce.
  • **************
  • 1/2 cup cooked chicken or more pulled apart with hands per person
  • 1 ounce or more of cheese of your choosing per person (I used fresh mozzarella for its oozing melting factor)
  • Hearty slices of Italian Bread toasted or rolls toasted slightly. (I used my honey lavender bread I had made and froze a few weeks ago.)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • *********
  • For a version of my Super Tangy BBQ Sauce yields 1-1/2 cup BBQ sauce:
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 3 tablespoons lite mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons spicy mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup water or vinegar (try apple cider vinegar)
  • microwave or broiler to heat chicken through and to melt cheese

Directions
  1. Shred chicken with fingers like you would if making pulled pork and place into bowl and set aside.
  2. If using pre-made BBQ sauce, add 2 tablespoons per 1/2 cup cooked shredded chicken to bowl.
  3. If making your own BBQ sauce or doing mine:
  4. Add olive oil to pan, add onions, let saute till yellow, then add garlic and allow to cook for one minute.
  5. Add remaining ingredients, stir till combined and let cook for 15 minutes on a low simmer or longer.
  6. Add a little of the BBQ sauce to chicken and stir so that each piece of chicken is coated - don't over do it, you will want to save sauce for dipping...as I did - lol
  7. Toast rolls or bread slices, then rub garlic on insides of bread for extra flavor.
  8. Assemble chicken onto one side of toasted roll/bread then add sliced cheese of your choice - great choices include cheddar, goat, gouda, swiss, etc.
  9. Place on safe broiling pan or microwavable plate and heat through till cheese has melted.
  10. If using the microwave, you will do better to heat at 50% power for a longer period, so that the cheese gets the chance to melt slowly versus just bubble down away from the chicken.
  11. Add additional sauce on top of melted cheese, add the top of the roll or slice of bread - and serve with your fave side.
  12. Recipe adapted from one I saw on foodnetwork last week.
  13. I served mine up last night with NotYourMommas' Garlic Rosemary Oven FF's - oh yeah - and oh no, I did not tell my doctor!

Cooking Terms - What is the Difference Between Roasting and Baking?

I did my very best yesterday to keep mum at a particular time, while out with my girlfriends on our weekly get together, when during a heated conversation, the differences between baking and roasting came up.

I wondered why the big problem; but it made me realize, well you can 'roast' a chicken, but you can also allow a chicken casserole to 'bake' in the oven... I wondered were these cooking terms confusing to others as well?

I even joked to one of the GF's not involved like me, in the said 'cooking term' conversation of confusion, that I must write an article on the differences, since it seemed too much of an argument between these two other women. So much so, by the way, I was intrigued as their voices rose up in volume - were we not out together only for some fresh air and nice conversation?

In particular, the argument was between 'roasting' and 'baking' terms and what did they really mean? So, what was their actual difference? Are these terms used safely interchangeably? Or are we using these terms loosely in exchange for the other? The answer is now solved - whew! I thank my lucky oven mitts!

Here is what I found out:

Roast v. To oven-cook food in an uncovered pan, a method that usually produces a well-browned exterior and ideally a moist interior. Roasting requires reasonably tender pieces of meat or poultry. Tougher pieces of meat need moist cooking methods such as braising.

Bake v.– To cook in the oven. The terms baking and roasting are often used interchangeably, but roasting usually implies cooking at a higher temperature—at least at the beginning—to get the surface of the foods to brown.

I was going to intervene the conversation between these two ladies and let them know this, but really wanted to make sure of my own assumptions. Since, I too had been using these terms interchangeably, but was I in fact correct when I did so? Well, yes, it turns out, and I am so relieved, as is my frilly apron.

I will make sure my lady friends receive this post so that the 'argument' is now settled and they will see both that they were correct...

Happy roasting and baking everyone!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

How to Stretch Your Bacon - Leftover Ideas Revisited - Ideas for Chicken and Ham

With the price of food these days, I am finding myself being further encouraged in creating new ways and revisited ideas in stretching the food I do buy for my family.

Recently while visiting a food site I belong to, we have been discussing in a new 'sub group' I created allowing us to share recipes and ideas for leftover food, and thought I would share here with what I have learned there.

So some of you cannot stand them, leftovers that is, and if you should have leftovers from a restaurant or take out, you simply might end up throwing them out, but you might be surprised the variety of new dishes you can create from leftover food, saving you money. And isn't that the point I am making? Exactly....

So if you are those who are interested in learning some ideas on what to do with leftover cooked chicken or cooked ham, you have come to the right place. Feel free to click on any link which are simply recipes I have shared already here at my Dinner and Jam blog...

So here I go and list them for you:

Ideas for Leftover Cooked Chicken:

Ideas for Leftover Cooked Ham:
Please share how you use your leftovers and create new dishes... Me and my readers would love to hear from you! Leah

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Leahs Crispy And Chewy Coconut Oatmeal Cookies Recipe


Fun easy chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside cookie will make you forget it can actually be healthy (ok healthier than say a chocolate dipped chocolate chip cookie) due to the oatmeal and optional raisins. I also add notes on how to make into a 'chocolate' version - see directions for that!

Baking these
in a moderate oven at 325 degrees really helps these be chewy on the inside while still allowing the outside to crisp up. Great cookies for shipping and freezing and for any time of the day when you need a pick me up.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of baking soda and baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (oatmeal)
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) unsalted
  • 1 cup light brown sugar packed
  • 1 jumbo/large egg (preferred) or 2 medium eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup toffee bits
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder or 2 oz melted unsweetened chocolate (if making chocolate version)
  • cookie sheets
  • parchment paper for baking (optional)
  • Preheated oven at 325 degrees
  • Hand or stand mixer
  • Cookie Cooling Racks
Directions:
  1. Made these a couple of weeks ago and felt the need to make them again they were that good. So I have the ingredients coming to room temperature as I share this recipe. The photo is from when I made them a couple of weeks ago.
  2. Remember to preheat oven at 325 degrees and you will be baking these from anywhere of 12 minutes to 15 minutes.
  3. ****OK Here we go!*****
  4. Cream butter then slowly add sugar and once combined, turn mixer on high and allow the creamed butter and sugar mixture to slightly change in color (it will get lighter in color)
  5. Add vanilla extract and egg and mix again for 2 minutes.
  6. IF MAKING CHOCOLATE VERSION: Add cocoa powder (preferred) or melted unsweetened chocolate to mixer and stir in at this point.
  7. Sift flour with baking soda, salt, and baking powder.
  8. To dry mixture add oatmeal and stir till combined.
  9. Add dry mixture to wet mixture, slowly with mixer at first to prevent a cloud of flour from creating.
  10. Add coconut and toffee bits, mix in then add optional raisins.
  11. Make spoonfuls and gently roll into round (if at all) and drop onto greased cookie sheets or onto parchment paper (which I prefer for easy removal and to help prevent any burning)
  12. Place on middle shelf in preheated oven and set timer.
  13. Check on cookies at 12 minutes, if they need a little more time, then bake till 15 minutes, but no more than that. They should have flatten slightly and have a light golden color.
  14. Once out of the oven, let cookies set for one minute before removing from cookie sheets to cooling racks.
  15. Let cool completely before freezing to ensure crispy and chewy factor.
  16. Enjoy with Milk or your favorite beverage...

Leahs Cheesy Fresh Tomato And Spinach Pie With Bacon Recipe



I made this up yesterday since I wanted to use up some ingredients in my freezer and had fresh tomatoes from the garden. Pie was savory and moist without being mushy and the parmesan and mozzarella cheese with crispy bacon add that extra umph we all crave. This is a pretty dish that would do well at pot lucks, for vegetarians (without the bacon of course) and at parties served as an appetizer cold, hot or in between. Cooking time includes cooking bacon.

Ingredients:

  • Be lazy - Use 1 pre-made pie crust unbaked - if frozen, allow to come to room temperature
  • 2 large beefsteak tomatoes or four plum tomatoes - could also use grape or cherry, simply slice in half.
  • 1/2 packaged Box of frozen spinach thawed and completely drained of its juices
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup milk 2 percent or whole
  • 4 jumbo eggs (or 5 medium/large eggs)
  • Pie pan
  • Working oven preheated at 350 degrees
  • 1/3 cup flour - all purpose
  • 2-3 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons shopped minced onions (for color and optional)
  • red chili flakes (optional)
  • Clean tea towel to help squeeze out water from thawed spinach

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees
  2. Place and unroll unbaked pie pastry into pie pan.
  3. Slice bacon and cook up in skillet while performing other tasks.
  4. Once spinach is thawed (I used my microwave for 1-2 minutes on medium strength) place half of the boxed thawed spinach into a clean tea towel and grab corners to create a bundle.
  5. Over sink start squeezing - and squeeze some more, loads of water will come out - you really want to get all the water out, and after opening back up your dish towel, the spinach will easily pop out of your dish towel.
  6. Fork pie pastry all over on bottom with holes to prevent buckling
  7. Sprinkle at least 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese on bottom of pie pan on top of pie pastry.
  8. Sprinkle three tablespoons of the flour on top of the parmesan cheese - this will prevent your pie from being too drippy of tomato juices
  9. Slice if using beefsteak tomatoes or plums into 1/4 inch slices and arrange in circles over lapping slightly in pie pastry. Sprinkle a little salt all over the tomatoes.
  10. Sprinkle about half of the shredded mozzarella cheese over the tomatoes.
  11. In bowl, crack your eggs and add mayonnaise, whisk till completely combined and thick.
  12. Add freshly cracked pepper, tomato paste, 1/2 of the remaining parmesan cheese, remaining flour, optional shakes of chili flakes and half of the nutmeg to egg mixture.
  13. Stir again then add spinach - stir till combined.
  14. Pour egg mixture over tomatoes.
  15. Once bacon is done, drain any extra fat and place on top of egg mixture and add additional shredded mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese.
  16. With hand or back of spoon, slightly press cheeses and bacon into egg mixture to get them wet.
  17. Sprinkle the top with the remaining nutmeg.
  18. Add optional diced green onions.
  19. Place pie pan carefully into preheated oven and allow to bake for 40 minutes.
  20. When checking for doneness, insert knife - which will come out a little wet, but not gloppy.
  21. Let Pie/tart set up for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
  22. This can be served hot, cold or warm - it was super delicious cold late last night when I was struck with a little hunger after watching Craig Furgenson!
  23. Yes I KNOW!!! lol
Click on photos to see a larger image.

Have fun with this one and use tomatoes from your own garden (or a friends) or from the farmers market nearby - the extra taste of fresh tomato will really come through!

Gerties Egg Special Recipe


This easy dish has its origins from Ancient Spanish Ships traversing across the seas - but for me, this dish is what my mom used to make for breakfast when I was in luck and when we had left over potatoes, whether they were boiled or oven roasted. Easy quick meal I make for myself for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

She never liked being called Gertie, but we always loved her egg special for breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • Left over oven roasted (preferred by me) or boiled potatoes - any kind
  • 1-2 eggs per person
  • 1 onion sliced thin
  • 1 bell pepper (optional)
  • 1 garlic clove minced (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • red chili flakes (optional)
  • a few shakes of hot sauce (optional)
  • fresh parsley minced (for garnish when plating)
  • large skillet
  • olive oil and butter
Directions:
  1. I have done this many times with raw potatoes which I suggest slicing and cutting very small, so that they cook up easily and quickly - though this will add at least 10 minutes to the cooking time.
  2. Take eggs out of refrigerator to get off chill.
  3. In skillet add a drizzle of olive oil and a little dab of butter
  4. Cut up left over potatoes into 1-1/2 inch sized chunks and put into skillet.
  5. Add thinly sliced or diced onions and bell pepper if using.
  6. Let brown and turn over to brown potatoes on the other sides.
  7. Once potatoes are nearly browned to your hearts content you can add eggs.
  8. There are two (2) ways you can do this - my photo shows both. You can either crack an egg on a pile of potatoes so that the egg gets fried sitting on top of the potatoes and when removing from skillet, you scoop up both potatoes and fried egg.
  9. Or - which is what my mother did - is crack the eggs over the potatoes, let cook for two minutes, then with spatula, 'break' yolks and start turning entire potatoes and eggs over each other creating a sort of fried egg/scrambled egg concoction.
  10. Cook eggs for as long as you like - I prefer soft and slightly still runny (but that is me - and don't yell at me for adding ketchup!)
  11. Plate eggs and potatoes and garnish dish with fresh minced parsley and serve with toast - add sausage, ham or bacon if you would like.
  12. Photo shows both ways of cooking eggs - as both are super delicious.
  13. Enjoy this easy way to upcycle cooked potatoes from the night before.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Leahs Fresh French Tarragon Salad Dressing


This is one of my staple homemade salad dressings I have done for years and finally decided to share here - I learned this one while traveling to the French Riviera and seemed to be on every salad we ate - creamy but not naughty - neat thing, if you do this in a blender, you can actually make a 'light' version - see directions - otherwise great to serve over salad greens, over steamed veggies and even fish - also makes a nice light marinade for chicken. Flavors get a little stronger as they marry and get to know one another and you can easily adjust to your palette should you want to add more honey, salt or vinegar, etc.

Ingredients:

  • I eyeball the amounts, but I believe when I made this last night, that these measurements come quite close.
  • 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon minced
  • 4 tablespoons WHITE balsamic vinegar (use apple cider vinegar in stead if you don't have white balsamic - but you should buy this the next time you are at the store - its very nice!)
  • 2-3 tablespoons good honey
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon grainy for a more artisan look or creamy (preferred) dijon mustard or spicy mustard
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon lite mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup or more water (if making a light version)
  • bowl and good whisk or blender
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of fresh cracked pepper

Directions:
  1. In bowl, add all of the following: tarragon, garlic, salt and pepper, mayonnaise, mustard, honey, vinegar and lemon juice.
  2. Whisk till combined.
  3. Slowly , really slowly drizzle olive oil while continuing to whisk to create an emulsion.
  4. If this is too difficult for you - use the blender on a low setting but add the tarragon last and by hand so it doesn't pulverize the tarragon.
  5. If making a light version, use only half of the olive oil while making this in the blender, once emulsified, add water slowly - this will keep the dressing emulsified yet creating a creamy type salad dressing.
  6. Then add your minced tarragon by hand and set aside.
  7. Taste test your salad dressing, add a little more honey if it has too much of a bite for your tastes, or more lemon juice if you need more, etc.
  8. I usually prepare this before serving up my salad and let it sit for 30 minutes for the flavors to marry, then save any unused portion in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
  9. This will keep for two weeks. And as mentioned, this is great over your poached fish dishes, used as a marinade for shrimp or chicken to be grilled and is nice as a dressing over your potato or pasta salads.
  10. The dressing has a fresh bright creamy goodness which makes you want only more. Enjoy!
  11. Photo is borrowed from christinecooks blog

Leahs Pesto Pasta With Shrimp And Bacon - Oh My


Easy twist to a quick pasta dinner I served up with homemade pesto (click on link to see my basil pesto recipe) over pasta with chicken (happened to be left over), shrimp and oh so good crispy bacon. Serve this up hot or cold along with a salad and a fresh cold drink and garlic bread - enjoy! And yes, yet another pesto recipe from me, I'm telling you this stuff is very versatile! Ideas are endless.

Ingredients:

  • Boiling water for pasta (I used penne pasta)
  • 3 large jumbo shrimp deveined and cleaned per person
  • 1/2 cup or more pre-cooked chicken (or left over chicken) diced large
  • 1/2 cup of caramelized onions (I had some extra over from my 'cilantro bean dip quesadilla' (recipe posted)
  • 1/2 cup diced red or green bell peppers
  • 3 slices of bacon cut into 1 inch wide pieces
  • 4 tablespoons or more pesto (my recipe posted)
  • red chili flakes
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • additional fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 spring/green onion and fresh parsley minced

Directions:
  1. Start to boil water in large pot
  2. Slice up bacon and set aside
  3. In deep skillet on top of stove, add a little olive oil and on medium low heat add sliced onions, let caramelize slowly - do not burn. This will take about 8 minutes - enough time for the water to come to a boil for the pasta.
  4. Once water is rapid boiling, add a dribble of olive oil, and add salt
  5. Add penne pasta or pasta of your choice into boiling water and set timer as noted on your pasta package.
  6. Once onions are cooked, remove from skillet and set aside.
  7. Add bacon to skillet and cook on medium heat - turning over occasionally.
  8. While bacon is cooking, clean shrimp removing veins and shells and set aside and dice up chicken (if using) and set aside.
  9. Once bacon is crisped, remove from skillet and add green peppers and shrimp to skillet.
  10. Add freshly cracked pepper to skillet.
  11. Cook shrimp 4 minutes ensuring they are cooked through and add chicken to reheat.
  12. Drain pasta at this point, reserve a little of the pasta water.
  13. Add Penne pasta to skillet, add back onions.
  14. Sprinkle a couple of shakes of red chili flakes to skillet
  15. Skillet should now contain penne pasta, shrimp, onions, peppers, bacon and chicken.
  16. Add pesto to skillet and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water, stir till combined.
  17. Plate and put shrimp on top of pasta, and add garnish of freshly grated cheese, and freshly minced spring/green onions and parsley on top and serve with your favorite salad and some garlic bread!
  18. Enjoy!
Share how you use homemade basil pesto with us all!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Soy Nuts and Soy Beans - Whats the truth to their health benefits?

I was hungry the other day and started to munch on crunchy soy nuts - and wondered what gives with their health benefits. So I already knew and have read that they were healthy for woman and men, but especially women and wanted to know further what really gives as to their healthy benefits for us women. What was inside these little crunchy 'nuts' which were really beans, and how does it help one's body?

So after uncovering a few tidbits of information and some useful links I share this with you.

Soy Nuts are really roasted soy beans, they are not nuts at all. A one ounce serving has four (4) grams of fat of which three (3) grams are unsaturated fats. A serving may contain 120 calories, but it has over 10 grams of protein. Soy nuts comes in a variety of flavored options such as salted, unsalted, BBQ and many other flavors. Watch out for salt content, if you are watching your salt and remember because of the calorie amounts should you be counting those as well, they can easily add some weight to your belly if you are not watching the amount you are shoveling into your mouth.

This does not mean you should avoid them at all, quite the contrary! Soy nuts also contain isoflavones which are phytochemicals that help prevent heart disease and a variety of cancers. And due to the amount of fiber and protein, these little puppies pack a nice amount of nutrition to help you stave your appetite until lunch and dinner time.

Roasted soy nuts are great to add to a salad, to yogurt and to your baked goods such as breads and muffins. The amount of isoflavones for one serving is roughly 80 mg of isoflavones and is nearly doubled the amount initially recommended for women to eat on a daily basis in helping their health, especially premenopausal and menopausal women. In perimenopausal women, it also helps to keep that libido going - and for those of you there already, you know exactly what I mean. And did you know this stuff called isoflavones helps with preventing hot flashes? But the current recommended amount is now 80 mg per day of soy isoflavones, which is the amount 'considered helpful for hormonal imbalance'. Women in Asia easily intake this amount in their daily diet, it is no wonder they have low breast cancer rates.

And just as a side note, the soy bean is the only complete plant protein, it contains B vitamins, calcium and even known super healthy omega-3 fatty acids. You really can't get a much healthier plant product - it is also long been known as one of the five sacred plants and the soy bean can be made into a variety of products which some you may already know and have tried: soy milk, soy sauce, tofu, edamame, tempeh - used as a meat or poultry substitute, soy cheese, miso, and even soy flour. The one exception to this is soy bean oil, which frankly should be treated as one would use corn oil, not very often.

If you are a vegetarian, a vegan or even someone who wishes to better themselves with healthy protein alternatives, the wondrous soy bean is your answer. And not only are soy bean products extremely affordable, it is simply silly not to have them handy in your cupboards and refrigerator. Soy protein shakes and even soy bars are a great way to add the ever so important isoflavones into your daily diet.

Be creative the next time you think soy, if you haven't been already converted by this article - you can add soy beans in its many forms in a variety of ways. The important part is to realize you are helping yourself to prevent heart disease, adding a neat plant protein which is easily digested by your body unlike red meat, helping to keep your hormones in balance - and heck as a woman, you know how important that is.

So remember to add soy beans to your varied diet for the best health along with loads of fresh vegetables, fruits and other legumes for optimum health.

Here are some interesting links to learn more about the wonders of Soy Nuts:

Leah's Fancy Pesto Encrusted Stuffed Chicken Breasts


In these lean times, I make sure to use up any and all food - but do not wish to dummy-down my palette in anyway! This dish I made up the other day since I had all the ingredients handy. Looked great out of the oven, tasted amazing since the pesto became crunchy and the corn bread stuffing ensured a moist chicken breast. A wonderful dish for parties or for a special evening in.

I had made corn bread that didn't get all eaten up, so I had cut it into large cubes, and let it air dry for a day, then threw it into the freezer for future use as corn bread stuffing. I happen to also have made pesto the other night and thought this would be a nice twist to simple oven roasted chicken breasts.

I am also saving money by buying chicken whole, and cutting it up myself - this amazing meal for two cost me a total of $5.00 if that when all ingredients tallied up - we got a huge kick out of that, since taste was not denied by us in any way!


Ingredients:

  • One large breast of chicken with the bone still in.
  • 2 cups cubed corn bread (preferably homemade)
  • 2 tablespoons each fresh herbs: parsley, rosemary, mint
  • 2 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 onion - cut into chunks
  • 2-4 potatoes with skins, washed and cut up into 2 inch size chunks
  • other vegetables that are good to roast: fennel, carrots, etc. cut up (optional)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 3-4 toothpicks for each chicken breasts
  • Preheated oven 350 degrees
  • 3-4 tablespoons or more of basil pesto (homemade preferred)
  • deep heavy skillet or roasting pan (I used my Le Cruset deep skilled)

Directions:
  1. In small bowl, add orange juice to corn bread cubes, then melted butter and 1/3 of the minced fresh herbs and all of the minced garlic. Stir to combine and set aside for a moment.
  2. Rinse well and pat dry large chicken breasts.
  3. With knife, create pocket for stuffing with each chicken breast. If you have the chicken breast in front of you, start cutting from the higher end of the chicken breast down to the lower end - in other words, start pocket where the meat is deepest, you want to create the pocket as close to the bone as possible.
  4. Drizzle a little olive oil into your roasting pan.
  5. In another bowl, add vegetables and onions, add remaining minced herbs, salt and pepper and drizzle a little olive oil. Stir with hands to coat each cut veggie with the herbs, S&P and olive oil.
  6. Place stuffing into pockets and with toothpicks close up pockets, using skin of chicken to help pinch close the openings.
  7. Put chicken breasts skin side up into roasting pan.
  8. Add vegetables around chicken breasts.
  9. Spread a tablespoon of basil pesto on the tops of the chicken breasts.
  10. Then place into oven and go about your business.
  11. Roasting time should be anywhere from 45-70 minutes depending upon the size of your chicken breasts. To ensure they are done, you can fork them to make sure the juices run clear.
  12. The pesto adds extra flavor and becomes crusty and crunchy once out of the oven. Let chicken breasts rest for 5-8 minutes before serving.
  13. Enjoy!

Friday, July 25, 2008

One Pot Sensational Chicken Leah Recipe


Easy succulent dish creates a wonderful one pot wonder full of complex flavors which is surprising to your family and guests - they will think you have cooked for hours, when in fact - it took one hour just sitting there on the stove top! - You could do this in a crock pot as well after you brown your chicken. Serve over basmati rice, brown rice, with cous cous or pasta. Dish is full of lively colors and is a great party dish or pot luck dish since it easily impresses. The fruit and little amount of curry in this dish only adds to the delightfully full flavor this recipe provides.

Ingredients:

  • Whole chicken cut up into eight pieces.
  • Save giblets/neck to create own chicken stock to be used in dish.
  • 1 cup green or red seedless grapes
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
  • 2 scallions minced
  • 2 tablespoons parsley or cilantro minced - for garnish at end.
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1+ cup of chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon good curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced rosemary
  • 4-6 cloves pieces
  • 1 tablespoon "better than bullion" paste - chicken flavor (optional)
  • several shakes of dried red chili flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • Deep heavy skillet with lid (I used my Le Crusette)
  • olive oil

Directions:
  1. I tend to forget about this dish, but won't anymore! I first made this twist of a recipe then I created my own version several years ago when I had grapes that were looking a little past their prime along with grape tomatoes. This dish can easily be doubled and served at parties. The amount of curry used in this dish is so small, that it even passes mustard for those who do not like curry - you can barely tell it is in there - but the resulting flavors are way complex - you will think you ordered this at a restaurant.
  2. A nice addition is adding toasted slivered or blanched almonds at the end along with the garnishes of parsley and cilantro.
  3. ****OK Here We Go!*****
  4. Allow skillet to heat up.
  5. Take cleaned chicken pieces, pat dry and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
  6. Add a little olive oil to skillet, then add one mashed clove of garlic.
  7. Once garlic starts to brown - remove to prevent garlic from burning, but this infuses the olive oil with some of the garlic oils.
  8. You could still minced up the browned garlic and add to dish when adding all the seasonings.
  9. Place chicken pieces skin side down carefully into hot skillet.
  10. You are only going to brown the skin, then flip to brown on the other side.
  11. Once chicken has been browned slightly, remove from pan and set aside. You will finished cooking the chicken completely in a moment.
  12. Add a little more olive oil if needed. Add onions to hot skillet saute for 3-5 minutes, then add mushrooms.
  13. Add cumin, pepper, crushed red pepper, curry, cumin, cloves, rosemary, crushed garlic from before and minced remaining garlic, and lastly scallions. Stir and saute for 3 minutes.
  14. Now add tomatoes, raisins, grapes and white wine to skillet. Stir bottom of pan to help remove any browned bits from the bottom of the pan to deglaze skillet and let cook for 2 minutes.
  15. Now return chicken back to skillet and add chicken stock.
  16. I added an additional tablespoon of "Better than Bullion" paste at this point.
  17. Bring down heat to simmer and add lid.
  18. Let simmer for one hour.
  19. Enjoy smells in house while chicken dish is cooking!
  20. Taste sauce, add salt if needed.
  21. Chicken is incredibly tender and super moist and falls off the bone easily.
  22. Sauce is amazing served over rice as pictured for my dinner the other night.
  23. Add chopped parsley and/or cilantro right to skillet just before serving.
  24. Add toasted optional almonds to plated food for extra flair.

Leahs Bean Dip Quesadillas Recipe

















Quick and easy lunch or dinner idea I made for today's lunch - Used my Colorful Wonderful Cilantro Bean Dip (recipe posted) along with caramelized onions and fresh peppers made for a super tasty meal.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium size flour tortillas per person
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 green pepper chopped
  • 1/2 cup "colorful wonderful cilantro bean dip" or less per quesadilla
  • 1 ounce of Monterey JalapeƱo cheese shredded
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • a little pat of butter
  • skillet
  • Sour cream for dipping
  • Freshly cut chives for serving. (See Photo)

Directions:
  1. You are going to caramelize the onions first then add cut peppers for only a short cooking time so that they stay crisp.
  2. You can use the same skillet to make and cook the quesadillas.
  3. You could also grill these or do them in the oven, or oven in your panini grill or waffle iron- which ever is easier for you.
  4. In skillet, add a little olive oil and add cut onions. Cook on medium heat and allow them to caramelize naturally and slowly.
  5. After about 5 minutes, add peppers and cook for additional 2-3 minutes.
  6. Remove peppers and onions from skillet.
  7. One one side of quesadilla add half of shredded cheese, and pepper and onion mixture, then add bean dip, dash of salt and pepper and then lastly add a layer of cheese.
  8. Close up quesadilla with another flour tortilla. Press down
  9. Add a small pat of butter to hot skillet, carefully slide in quesadilla.
  10. Cook for 5 minutes or less until browned underneath, then flip and cook on the other side.
  11. Take out of skillet once done, cut up, add a dollop of sour cream if you wish and sprinkle some cut chives on top.
  12. Call troops to table and eat up! Enjoy!
So let me know how you like your quesadillas - enter your comments!

Colorful Wonderful Cilantro Bean Dip Recipe


Learned this just over the weekend - different from those recipes already here. This dip is great on chips, inside quesadilla (which was my awesome lunch today) and got eaten up all too quickly-it was loved that much. So I went home and made it myself a few days later. Colorful, bright flavors are quite showy and the zesty taste happily satisfies carnivores.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed super well and drained of liquid
  • 1 can chick/garbanzo beans, rinsed well and drained of liquid
  • 2-4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 medium red onion chopped
  • 2-3 plum tomatoes diced
  • Juice of two limes, juice of an extra lime over just cut avocado
  • 1/3 cup of minced fresh cilantro (or more!)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Couple of shakes of red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt and 1/2 teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
  • 2-3 avocados sprinkled with lime or lemon juice and cut up.
  • 1 large bowl

Directions:
  1. This bean dip is great to take to parties and for potlucks and summer BBQ's - its quite filling and so colorful, it pleases the eye and satisfies those tummies. And so one will even care its super healthy. (I didn't!)
  2. I would also suggest to cut up avocados last and place on top of everything else then stir at last moment. It makes for a prettier arrival onto the table.
  3. If you want to make this last a bit, separate into two bowls, then only cut up avocado for the bowl you are about to serve, then toss.
  4. About 5 cups are yielded with this recipe
  5. ****OK Here We Go****
  6. Take your strainer/colander and place into sink. Open up cans of beans and put into colander and rinse really well under running water. Let drain.
  7. Place rinsed beans into large bowl and stir.
  8. Add all other ingredients except for avocado.
  9. Stir up ingredients. Add more cilantro if you would like.
  10. Cut up avocado making it look pretty and place on top of stirred ingredients. Sprinkle additional lime juice on top of avocados to prevent browning.
  11. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
  12. Stir at last moment and serve with chips.
  13. Photo shown has missing avocado which I was about to put in.
  14. I also used this as filling for my quesadilla lunch today (recipe just posted)
  15. This would also be nice served over rice, cous cous or pasta for an extra nice cold salad making it a lovely cold meal during hot summer nights.
  16. Enjoy!

How to make Homemade Cool Whip

Ok, here's another pony trick from my pal tippy st. clair who was more than happy to allow me to share this recipe of hers with you alls! Now, who doesn't love whipped cream? For those of you who would like to make a version of cool whip topping for your favorites desserts, try this one on for size.


Ingredients
:

  • 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tsp cold water
  • 3 Tbsp boiling water
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp veg oil

Directions:
  1. Chill a small mixing bowl.
  2. Soften gelatin with 2 teaspoons cold water, then add boiling water, stirring until gelatin is completely dissolved.
  3. Cool until tepid.
  4. Place ice water and nonfat dry milk in the chilled bowl.
  5. Beat at high speed until mixture forms stiff peaks.
  6. Add sugar, still beating, then oil and gelatin.
  7. Place in freezer about 15 minutes then transfer to refrigerator until ready for use.
  8. Stir before using to retain creamy texture.
What is your favorite dessert you love to dollop your favorite whipped topping? Share and let me know in the comments section!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Recipes for Life - A Food Funny

This morning I read this and had to share with all of you....

  • As You Slide Down the Banister of Life, Remember
  • Laughter relieves Stress.
  • Stressed is desserts spelled backwards.
  • Always have dessert first.

Directions on Recipes for Life:
  1. Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggert have written An impressive new book. It's called 'Ministers Do More Than Lay People.'
  2. Transvestite: A guy who likes to eat, drink and be Mary.
  3. The difference between the Pope and Your boss, the Pope only expects you To kiss his ring.
  4. My mind works like lightning, One brilliant Flash and it is gone.
  5. The only time the world beats a path to Your door is if you're in the bathroom.
  6. I hate sex in the movies. Tried it once. The seat folded up, the drink spilled and That ice, well, it really chilled the mood.
  7. It used to be only death and taxes Were inevitable Now, of course, there's Shipping and handling, too.
  8. A husband is someone who, after taking The trash out, gives the impression that He just cleaned the whole house.
  9. My next house will have no kitchen - just Vending machines and a large trash can.
  10. A blonde said, 'I was worried that my Mechanic might try to rip me off. I was relieved when he told me all I needed was turn signal fluid.'
  11. Definition of a teenager? God's punishment...for enjoying sex.
  12. As you slide down the banister of life, may The splinters never point the wrong way
Have fun folks, life is shorter than you think.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Leahs Fresh Herb Chicken Marinade Recipe


I made this after having it at a friends house this past weekend, I couldn't believe how tender the chicken was and the menagerie of herbs really made this fresh bright tasting chicken I broiled up last night. This is an easy winner and is great for all types of chicken whether you are grilling, broiling or roasting.

Ingredients:

  • The amounts are approximate, pretty much a small handful of each herb, minced. The one thing that I would highly suggest, is that you cut the herbs from your garden just before you are going to use them to make the marinade.
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 5 sprigs cilantro
  • 5 sprigs flat leaf parsley
  • 10 large basil leaves
  • 2 scallions
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or more.
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • kosher salt
  • 4-6 chicken thighs with or without skins and bones
  • large zip lock bag, or container large enough to allow chicken and marinade to marry in.

Directions:
  1. Rinse chicken well and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Mince finely all herbs and place into bowl.
  3. Add good amount of freshly cracked pepper (1 tablespoon) and add 1 teaspoon or more of kosher salt to bowl.
  4. Add lemon juice and olive oil to bowl and stir marinade.
  5. Pour over chicken in zip lock bag or container.
  6. Marinade for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  7. Turn bag or chicken over once and awhile so that all parts of the chicken are well coated.
  8. If you are roasting chicken, simply rub marinade all over chicken before placing the bird in a hot oven and roast 15 minutes per pound if not stuffed, 20 minutes if stuffed.
  9. If broiling or grilling, make sure grill surface or broiler is preheated, and cook at least 12 minutes on each side on medium heat.
  10. Serve it up with your favorite side dishes!
The fresh herbs really make this dish work, so if you do not have access to fresh herbs, get them from your neighbor or local farmer's market. If you haven't cooked with fresh herbs, trying this dish will convert you quickly. I know I will be making this dish again and again.

Lamb Gyros with homemade Tzatziki recipe Yogurt Sauce



I had made a wonderful leg of lamb, quite by accident, since I had left the freezer door open overnight. My being so absent-minded did not impress me, but since the leg of lamb was sill quite semi-frozen, I allowed it to completely thaw in the fridge - then made it up with fresh garlic and rosemary. I think I get better at this dish, with every time I make it (recipe is already posted for Roasted Leg of Lamb). The slow roasting at 300 degrees is really the key to allowing the fat to slowly melt and baste the leg of lamb.

Since this was a big leg, almost 7 pounds, you can just say I had enough to feed a small army. I couldn't have a clue that my next meal the very next night would be as delicious as the leg of lamb out of the oven from the night before.

I asked my fellow foodies at GroupRecipes.com what could I do with so much left over leg of lamb. I really was perplexed - and I wasn't one for casseroles, as least not for tonight. It has been so hot lately in NY this summer. When one foodie mentioned gyros, I was instantly interested (thanks Pointseven). I went off to do some surfing and look up and review several recipes, then came up with my own version.

Since lamb is served best either hot or cold, not in between, I decided to try my hand at making homemade tzatziki sauce which is comprised of a low fat yogurt which has been drained of its liquid along with fresh cucumber. I noticed there were a variety of ways to make this sauce as there are a variety of ways to make so called gyros and even more ways to spell this sauce. So here is my take.

We also ended up inviting friends over for dinner, while one of them is a former NYC Chef, and he said many times over how great the meal was - so enjoy this wonderful summer dinner.

Ingredients:

  • Large pitas that can be sliced in half and opened to create pockets. Figure one large 6-7inch pita per person or more. (Usually found by the deli section at your grocery store sitting in front of the glass case containing your deli cheeses and meats)
  • *****
  • Sauce:
  • 1 large cucumber - skinned, seeds scooped out with spoon, then diced small
  • 2 - 6oz jars of plain lo fat yogurt
  • 1 - 8 oz jar of low fat sour cream - I think I used a larger container.
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons or more fresh minced mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt - or more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 1-2 large cloves of garlic minced super fine.
  • ***********
  • For the Platter and Meal:
  • 2 juicy tomatoes diced and salted
  • 1/2 head of lettuce or less shredded
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled leaving a little skin, then sliced thinly, then halved.
  • Left over leg of lamb, which has been cut into thin strips.
  • Large platter for serving

Directions:
  1. Prepare tzatziki sauce first, in fact I made mine that afternoon, since you will need the flavors to marry and get to know one another. This could easily be made the night before.
  2. Also this sauce would be perfect will grilled chicken in the pita pockets, or served over poached fish of your choice. This sauce is refreshingly light and quite delicious enough to satisfy carnivores.
  3. ******
  4. Take either strainer sitting over a bowl or simply a bowl and line it with several layers of cheese cloth (preferred) or clean tea towel (which is what I did).
  5. Pour contents of the containers of plain yogurt and sour cream into the dish towel with is sitting in the bowl, and let sit either in fridge or on your counter for about 1 hour at least. Do not skip this step, let the fluids drain at their own pace.
  6. This allows a lot of the water from the sour cream and the yogurt to be drained creating an extra thick sauce later.
  7. Take to the sink, and with gently squeezing out (like you would with frozen spinach) create a ball with your cheese cloth or dish towel and squeeze out the excess liquid. I even scraped with my fingers on the outside of the 'ball' to get as much as the excess liquid away.
  8. I stopped when little bits of the yogurt seemed to be sneaking through the dish towel.
  9. Using a spatula, scrape out/flip out the contents of the yogurt and sour cream into a bowl.
  10. Rinse your cheese cloth or dish towel to make cleaning it up later a cinch.
  11. To bowl, add all the minced mint, oregano, fresh cracked pepper, salt, lemon juice, minced finely garlic and the skinned, seeds removed diced small cucumber. Stir till the contents are combined. Cover with plastic and put back into fridge to let flavors to become friends.
  12. ******
  13. To make a pretty platter, make rows of the ingredients. This will allow your guests to create their own pita pockets.
  14. I took a large platter, sliced up farmers market tomatoes and sprinkled them with kosher salt. Letting the cut tomatoes sit for 10 minutes with the salt really gets the juices to flow from the tomatoes and super enhances their flavors.
  15. Make another row of the shredded lettuce and lamb.
  16. The make one last row of thinly sliced and decorated cucumber.
  17. You can either grill your pita bread to make it slightly more pliable, or even sprinkle them with a little water and heat them in the oven for a mere 5 minutes.
  18. I added additional minced mint on top of the lamb on the platter and on top of the zatziki sauce - which really boosted up the viewing factor.
  19. Bring pita, platter and zatziki sauce to the dinner table and serve with fresh seltzer with freshly cut lemons and limes or sangria. We also served up some fresh hummus I has also made (recipe posted) that afternoon.
  20. ****
  21. To Assemble:
  22. Open pita pocket, take a dollop of tzatziki sauce, then add lamb, lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers - and maybe some additional tzatziki sauce and eat up!
  23. Put in serving spoons under rows of ingredients to allow people to easily get their ingredients and place them into their own pita pockets.
  24. Zatziki Sauce lasts at least a week covered in the fridge.