Sunday, March 31, 2013

Russian Blintzes

Easter brunch idea….how about Russian blintzes and homemade rope sausage from Fareways.   I picked some up this week. 

I love blintzes.  I think I was introduced to them over 30 years ago and every so often make them when I have strawberries and Ricotta cheese in the house.  Here is my recipe.  They always go over well for a brunch and you can make them ahead of time and just brown them before you serve them.

1 cup flour
2 eggs
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups milk 
2 tablespoons butter, plus additional butter for frying
Yields 12 Blintzes

1 pound Ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon sugar (sweeten to your taste)
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. of vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. sour cream

Whipped cream or sour cream
Canned strawberry pie filling, apple pie filling or your favorite fruit. 

Blintzes are like crepes, but are from Russia.  You can top with strawberries, raspberries or blueberries. 

To make the filling, combine the cheese, sour cream, sugar, salt, vanilla  and cinnamon and stir with a fork until smooth.

To make the batter, in the blender add eggs and milk and the salt. Blend until mixed very well.  Add the flour slowly and beat until free of lumps. Stir in the melted butter.  Works best if you let rest for 10 minutes before frying the blintzes.  It should be quite runny for thin blintzes.

Starting at the center of a heated skillet or crepe pan greased with butter or nonstick spray, pour in the batter in a thin stream, tilting the pan to spread the batter evenly. Cook over low heat when starting, increasing heat as soon as the pancake is smooth and firm on top and the bottom is lightly browned. Turn out bottom side up, and spread evenly with 1 tablespoon of the filling.

While each successive pancake is in the skillet, the preceding blintz can be filled and rolled up.  You roll them up like a burrito; first turn in the ends and then roll the blintz.  When all the blintzes are done, add more butter to the skillet and brown the blintzes lightly on both sides until firm.

Serve with favorite fruit and whipped cream or sour cream.  I prefer the whipped cream.  You may serve them plain if you like and just sprinkle them with powdered sugar and serve fresh fruit on the side. 

Fry up your sausage on both sides until it is nice and brown and serve it with the blintzes. 

You can also freeze any left over blintzes and just reheat when you like. 

Blintzes can also be made savory if you wish to omit the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.  You can add well drained cooked spinach or mashed potatoes and top with sour cream and bacon.  Let your imagination go.  I of course always go with the sweet. 

Hoping you have a blessed Easter and enjoy this day.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.   

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Green Bananas

I was in the grocery store today and there was a woman who was a Pacific Islander who was buying 8 brunches of bananas.  Her cart was full of green bananas so always being curious; I had to ask her how she fixed them.  In very poor English she was kind enough to share her recipe and I’m going to give it a try.  She mixes bananas, coconut milk and corn and sugar for a sweet dish that sounds like a pudding to me.  She puts green (raw) bananas in a sealed baggie and boils it in water until it turns “red” in her words.  She then add coconut milk, sugar and corn.  I did a search on the internet to see if I could find a similar recipe and found several recipes, but they are not hers.   I’m sharing with you should you be brave or curious like me and wish to try something new.  I have cooked plantains and green bananas before, but fried them after I boiled them. You boil the green bananas in their skins.  The Puerto Rican plantains and her recipe are both from islands but from islands far apart.

Matoke Green Bananas (Polynesian)

12 green bananas
2 cups light coconut milk
1 cup heavy coconut milk
Pinch of turmeric
Chopped coriander (Cilantro)
2 green chilies
1 tsp. red chili powder
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ tsp. garlic paste
2 cups fresh or frozen corn

Peel and chop the bananas, then put them in a pan and add some water...just enough to cover the bananas (Matoke). Add some salt, ½ tsp. chili powder, cilantro, chopped chili, ½ tsp. turmeric. Cover and boil until soft and easy to mash. Then mash to an almost paste.

Add the fresh or frozen corn to the mashed matoke. Put in the light coconut milk and mix well. Let it start simmering until it thickens then add the heavy coconut milk, lemon juice and the rest of the ingredients, garlic, etc. Simmer for a few more minutes until the consistency is to your liking. Mix well and taste. Adjust as per your preference then switch off.

This picture has lamb in it, but her recipe was just corn and bananas.

Plantain Corn Rice

1 Large plantain or green banana
1 Onion
1/4 cup frozen corn kernels
2 Green chilies
1 1/2 cup cooked Basmati rice
2 Tbsp oil
1/2 inch cinnamon
A pinch of turmeric powder
1 Tsp. ginger
1 tsp. garlic powder
Salt to taste

Steam the raw banana and peel the skin.
Now grate the raw banana and keep aside.
Heat oil in a pan and add the cinnamon.
Add the chopped onions.
Fry them for a minute and add the ginger and garlic.
Fry till the raw smell goes off and then add the green chilies.
Mix well and add the grated raw banana.
Add the corn, salt and turmeric powder.
Simmer the flame and cook for couple of minutes.
Now add the cooked rice and mix well.
Simmer for another couple of minutes.
Remove from the flame and serve hot.

Hope you are up for something new.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Homemade Ranch Dressing

What is your favorite salad dressing?  I have so many and it depends on my mood, but I do love ranch.  I suppose it depends on the salad too.  My grandson's like it as a dip to put carrot sticks in.  My grandson Sal likes it on his tacos.  It is not just for salads.  So am sharing a good recipe for homemade ranch dressing.  I'd rather make my own.  

1 cup  mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons fresh dill
1 tablespoon fresh chives
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
Dash of your favorite hot sauce (optional)
1 lemon
1/2 cup low fat buttermilk

Chop you parsley, dill, chives and garlic.  If it is winter, go ahead and use your dried herbs.   Juice a lemon.

In a food processor or blender combine all of the ingredients and pulse until thoroughly blended. Taste it and adjust seasoning if needed. Pour into a mason jar and chill for at least 1 to 2 hours before using.

Weather is spring like finally and a salad sounds good.  Hope you have a good day.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours on this Good Friday.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Vanilla Apple Pudding

I found another easy apple recipe to use up my canned apples.  Like this one a lot.

1 stick butter
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons real vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons cinnamon
4 cups of my apple-pie-in-a-jar
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 × 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl using an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat until the batter is fluffy. Add the flour, baking soda and cinnamon and mix well; the dough will be crumbly.

Add the apples and walnuts and mix just until incorporated. Press over the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top and press into the dough mixture.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Serve warm with cinnamon whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

The smell alone will make you happy.  Stay happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Caramel Apple Cheese Cake

I have a lot of jars of canned apples I should be using up and I get 4 boys this weekend so think this will be on the menu.  I don't think I have shared it in the past.  I'm always looking for good apple recipes that also work as great air fresheners with aromas of apples and cinnamon.  This should work.


1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

or make it easy on yourself and lay down a roll of Pillsbury crescent rolls and sprinkle with a little brown sugar and cinnamon.


1/4 cup sugar
8 ounces whipped cream cheese
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into bite sized pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Or you may use canned apples or my apple-pie-in-a-jar drained (that's my plan)


6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

I have some pecans in the freezer.  I might chop them and toss them in the topping to make it even more tasty.

Caramel Sauce

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coarse salt

or use a store bought jar of caramel sauce (that's my plan)

Cut the butter into the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon until combined and crumbly.  Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8 x 8 inch baking dish lined with foil.  Bake in a preheated 350 F.  oven until lightly golden brown, about 8 to 12 minutes, set aside and let cool.

Beat the sugar into the cream cheese until smooth.  Beat in the egg followed by the vanilla extract.
Pour the mixture into the baking dish.

Mix the apples, cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg.  Sprinkle the apples on top of the cream cheese layer.

Cut the butter into the flour, sugar, cinnamon and rolled oats until combined and crumbly. Sprinkle the crumbs on top of the apples.  Add in walnuts or pecan if you like.  Bake in a preheated 350 F. oven until the cheesecake has set, about 25 to 35 minutes, and let cool.  

Caramel Sauce
Heat the sugar and water in a sauce pan over medium heat and simmer it until it turns a medium amber color.
Remove from heat and carefully pour in the heavy cream.  Return to heat and cook until smooth, stirring with a wooden spoon.  Stir in the butter or just use the store bought and make it simple on yourself.

Our weather is finally turning around and I believe spring is in the air.  Going to Dubuque today and might hit Aldi's and/or HyVee for ideas.  Hope you have a beautiful day.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Salad Plate

I cleaned out my refrigerator yesterday and needed to use up some of my left overs.  Back in the 60’s when I worked at Haye’s Café, Duane had what he called a salad plate on the menu.  It came to mind when I saw some of my left overs.  I had left over shrimp salad, egg salad and cottage cheese.  Duane’s plate had a scoop of tuna salad, potato salad and cottage cheese, so I thought my left overs would make good substitutes for his salads.  I also had quite a few left over fresh veggies to use up and used them to garnish the plate.

So I’m sharing my version of a salad plate.  

I already shared the shrimp salad recipe with you, but I’ll share it again so you do not have to look it up.  My first meal with it was on a sandwich but you can forget the bread.  It is pretty simple. 

Shrimp Salad

¼  cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ pounds boiled small shrimp (add a little salt and butter to water)
2 stalks celery
¼ cup sliced chives or green onion (optional)

Egg Salad

4 boiled eggs
¼ cup mayonnaise (you may use light if you like)
1 tsp. yellow mustard
1 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 stalks of celery (you may substitute sweet pickles if you like or use both)
½ tsp. onion powder

Boil your eggs for 10 minutes in a hard boil.  Once the boiled eggs are cooled a little bit crack them and let them set in cold water for 10 minutes.  The eggs are easier to peal if you crack them while they are warm and then set in cold water.  Chop your eggs and add to the mayo mixture of mustard, sugar, salt, pepper, celery and onion powder. 

Cover your plate with lettuce leaves and using an ice cream scoop, put one scoop of your cottage cheese, one scoop of your shrimp salad and one of the egg salad on your leaves.  Garnish your plate with what ever veggies or accoutrements you like.  Make sure there is a salt shaker available to anyone that would like to salt the veggies a bit. 

Variation - Try it with ham salad or chicken salad.  You may serve some nice crackers with the salad if you like also.  There are so many variations you can come up with.

Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Homemade Cleaning Products

Today is cleaning day and laundry day for me, so I thought I would give you some very different kind of recipes.  With my continued effort to save money and/or go green, I have saved some recipes for cleaning products and I thought I would pass them on today as a change.

Homemade Febreze

1/8 Cup of fabric softener (I used Downy April Fresh)
2 tablespoons Baking Soda
Hot tap water
Spray bottle (I used my empty 27 oz. Febreze bottle)

Use a funnel and pour fabric softener and baking soda into your spray bottle. I'm using a recycled Shout bottle that I have cleaned well.  I'll label it with a Sharpie Pen and continue to refill and use.  Fill spray bottle with hot tap water and shake well. Don't forget to twist the nozzle over to the lock position before you shake it. You are ready to go spray fabric surfaces in your home or even use it in your laundry for sticky pet bedding.  I have 3 little chihuahuas and this is a great savings to me.

Store bought Febreze: $5.59 and the homemade is 15 cents.

Stain Remover

This is the ultimate stain remover that actually works on a seriously set in stain! You will never have to buy Oxyclean again!

1 tsp. Dawn dishwashing detergent (use the Dawn only)
3 to 4 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide
2 tablespoons of baking soda.

Scrub stain with a scrub brush.   You may add it to your laundry by mixing it with a little water first.

I need to get to my Monday cleaning.  Have a great Monday.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sausage and Blueberry Pancakes

It is Sunday already.  I love to share brunch ideas on Sunday for a warm special breakfast meal for your family.  Today how does making your own breakfast sausage and blueberry pancakes sound?

Homemade Breakfast Sausage

2 pounds ground pork (you may substitute ground turkey)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoons sage
1 teaspoons thyme
¼  teaspoon rosemary
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Mix all ingredients together with your hands.  Form into patties and fry about 4 minutes on each side or until done.

Keeps in the refrigerator for a week.

You can also fry them and freeze the patties and just heat and serve as you need them.

Play around with the pepper flakes or the cayenne until it suits your taste or leave out if you don’t like heat.  

Blueberry Pancakes

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla 
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons milk or buttermilk
1 cup blueberries

1 cup strawberries
1 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside. In a separate medium bowl, beat Greek yogurt, eggs, honey, vanilla, and milk until smooth and well combined. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and mix together. The batter will be very thick; consistency will vary based on which yogurt you used.  If you find that it is too thick (almost paste like), you can add in a teaspoon or two of milk until it is smooth, but still thick. Next, gently fold in berries with a wooden spoon.

Lightly coat a large  skillet or griddle with butter and place over medium heat. Drop batter by using a 1/4 cup measuring cup onto skillet so all the pancakes will be the same size. You may need to use a spoon to spread out the batter just a tiny bit, as pancake batter will be thick and you’ll want them to cook thoroughly. It’s very important to cook until bubbles appear on top and the edges are well cooked; this is thick batter so you want to ensure even cooking. Flip cakes and cook until golden brown on underside, 2 minutes.  Repeat with more melted butter or cooking spray and remaining batter.

To make the syrup, place maple syrup, strawberries, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Wait until mixture begins to simmer and boil, and stir every few minutes. Once mixture begins to breakdown and strawberries cook down about 5 minutes, remove from heat and serve warm immediately.  You may refrigerate this and use for another day.

You may wish to double this recipe if your family likes pancakes.  You may also freeze any left overs for another morning.  Just microwave them until they are hot.  

Hope you have a good breakfast with your family.  Have a great Sunday,  be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Dirty Rice

Today's recipe will not make everyone's mouth water.  You will need to be a lover of chicken livers and gizzards and I am.

I have chicken livers and gizzards in my freeze that I just took down to thaw so I can make dirty rice.  I'm making a traditional dirty rice with ground chicken liver, gizzards or giblets. The name comes from the dark color of the dish which comes from the browning the meats. It is an old soul food that warms the soul.  It is inexpensive and if you add some greens or a green salad, you have a complete meal at very little cost. The livers and gizzards cost about $1.60 total.  You can’t beat that.  Plus I know I'll get a lot of meals out of it.

Dirty Rice

¼ pound chicken gizzards
½ pound chicken livers
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups uncooked long white rice
4 cups chicken broth
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Green onions (optional)

Prep:  Rinse, trim and clean gizzards and livers.  Finely chop the onion and cloves of garlic.

Pulse gizzards in food processor, then pulse livers or you can chop them finely by hand.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Sauté onion and gizzards over medium heat, stirring constantly, until meat begins to brown (about 5 minutes). Add livers and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until brown (about 3 minutes).

Add rice and stir until coated with oil. Add broth, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook about 20 minutes, until rice has absorbed all of the liquid. Sprinkle with green onion and serve.

Variation - You don’t like chicken livers and gizzards, then try link sausage or hamburger.  My family fights over the gizzard from a bird. I love them and buy them often because they are such an extremely inexpensive piece of protein (love to make a noodle soup with the gizzards too).  If you use another protein like sausage, your rice will still be “dirty” because the meat colors it. 

You may also use wild rice or brown rice if you like. 

I bought just one Cornish game hen for me and am going of use dirty rice to stuff it.  I’ll rub it with olive oil, salt and pepper it and will rub it with a rub mixture of garlic powder, onion powder and paprika.  Close it up with some tooth picks.   Bake the hen for about 1 ½ to 2 hours at 350.

I haven't had Cornish hen for some time.  I'm really looking forward to it along with the dirty rice.  As Phil Robinson (Duck Dynasty fame) would say....happy, happy.  I feel my soul warming just thinking about it.

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Nestlé’s and Hershey’s meet S’more

Butter is on sale at Fareways for $1.88 today so stocking up on butter.  Going to make some Nestlé’s chocolate chip cookies with a twist for grandson’s.  This is Saylor’s weekend with me so we’ll make our own gluten and dairy free cookie for him, and take these to my other grandsons.  We love camping and making S’mores.  In fact we make them over the burners on the stove or make them in the microwave and don’t wait to camp.  I saw a recipe with chocolate chip cookies and marshmallows and I played with it and changed it to come up with my own simpler version using the same recipe I always use when making chocolate chip cookies.  These are over the top and better than graham crackers! 

1 bag of Nestlé’s semi sweet chocolate chips – use their recipe for the cookies
1 bag extra large marshmallows
1 box of Hershey chocolate plain candy bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix your dough according to the directions on the back of the Nestlé’s semi sweet chocolate chips.  It is the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I have ever found.  Use butter and do not over bake so they are chewy.  Make them about the size of a ½ a graham cracker so the Hershey fits on the cookie.  After 10 minutes I stand by the oven and watch.  Do not bake for over 12 minutes.  Every oven is a little different so it may vary.

Cool the cookies completely.  I transfer almost immediately to a plate so they do not continue to cook on the cookie sheet. 

When completely cooled, place a half of a Hershey’s candy bar (I used just one miniature candy bar) on top of a cookie and then an 1/2 of an extra large marshmallow (I used a kitchen scissors and cut them in half).   Microwave them for 15 seconds.  The marshmallow will double in size.  That is a good thing.   Working quickly, using a second cookie, gently press together to make your super cookie.  Continue making as many as you wish.

Making cookies on a very cold spring day will make my day.  Make your day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.   

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Garlic Cheese Bacon Baked Potato

I can make a whole meal out of a baked potato and this one is no exception. 

2 large baking potatoes (Russets make the best baking potatoes)
1 tsp. garlic powder
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
Salt and fresh black pepper
Fresh chives
1 cup Cheddar shredded cheese
Herbed sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Wash and scrub your potato well and then dry it.

Using a wooden spoon as a cradle, place each potato in the spoon and make as many ½ to ¼ inch parallel slits into each potato top as possible making sure not to slice completely through.

Add 1 tsp. of garlic powder in a medium bowl with melted butter and olive oil.  Drizzle over the potato down into the cracks and rub all over the potato with your hands.

Place on a baking sheet lined with tin foil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

When the potatoes begin to “fan out” it’s time to make the magic happen.  Using a kitchen scissors, cut small pieces of bacon and carefully slip a hunk of bacon into each slit of the potato.

Bake for about an hour.  Test with a knife to make sure it is done.   Sprinkle the shredded cheese and return to the oven.  Bake until tops are crispy.  

Serve with herbed sour cream and sprinkle with chopped chives.

Herbed Sour Cream
½  cup sour cream
½  teaspoon garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
Kosher salt and black pepper

It is worth the little bit of fuss.  Doesn’t it just make your mouth water?

Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Shrimp Rolls

My lunch for today.  Doesn’t it look good.  I just happen to have everything I need in my refrigerator or freezer.  Using frozen shrimp and have some great homemade buns from Fareways.  Wouldn't this be nice on Croissant rolls?  

1/4 cup good mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds cooked medium shrimp
2 stalks celery
1/4 cup sliced chives (optional)
4  buns
1 small head butter lettuce, torn into pieces
Potato chips

In a medium bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Cut your cooked shrimp in half crosswise.  Chop your celery into small pieces.  Using a kitchen scissors, cut very small pieces of chives.  You may use green onion if you wish to substitute.

Fold in the shrimp, celery, and chives (or green onion).

Line your buns with the lettuce and fill with the shrimp mixture. Serve with the potato chips or would go great with a cup of tomato soup.

Think that is as simple as you can make it. 

Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tilapia Papillotte

I bought tilapia this week and am going to make it into little bundles called papillotte.  It is a quick, clean and easy way to fix fish.  You may use any type white fish you like or even  salmon.  Since it is just me, it is a nice way to fix just one helping.

I’m giving you two simple recipes for baking the tilapia; with and without the parchment paper.


Tilapia with Savory Herb Butter

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1 pound tilapia fillets
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Sliced lemons

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Mix butter, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and ground mustard in medium bowl until well blended.

Place fish on foil-lined shallow baking pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread fish with herb butter mixture.

Bake 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.   Serve it with a slice of lemon and some fresh veggies like cherry tomatoes and a sliced avocado. 

Variation - The Papillotte (Baked in parchment paper)


1 (6-ounce) firm fleshed fish fillet (the fillet should be between 3/4 or 1 inches thick)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Herbs of your choice like thyme, parsley or chives
1 tablespoon butter
3 thin lemon slices
1 tablespoon dry white wine or water

Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.

Draw out a large piece of parchment paper (about 17 by 11 inches) and, with one of the longer edges closest you, fold it in half from left to right. Using scissors cut out a large heart shape.

Place the fish in the center of one half of the parchment heart. (The heart should be large enough that there is at least a 1 ½ inch border around the fillet.)

Set the parchment heart on a baking sheet. Drizzle the fish with half of the olive oil, rub the oil all over the fillet, and season with salt and pepper.

Add herbs (if using) on top of the fish. Break the butter into little pieces and arrange them on top of the herbs.  You may also add some veggies like asparagus or sliced cherry tomatoes if you like and bake them with your fish.

Place the lemon slices over everything and drizzle with the remaining oil.

Fold the parchment heart over to cover the fish. (The edges of the heart should line up.) Starting at the rounded end, crimp the edges together, folding them over themselves and leaving the last two inches at the pointed end unfolded. Slightly tilt the package up and pour in the wine or water. Finish crimping the edges, then twist the pointed end around once and fold the “tail” under.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake 10 minutes for a ¾ inch thick fillet or 12 minutes for a 1 inch thick fillet.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the parchment package to a dinner plate. Serve immediately, cutting into the parchment tableside using scissors or a knife.

Have a great Tuesday, be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bacon and Onion Spätzle

I have strong German roots and love many German dishes.  I love Spätzle.  If I see it on a menu, I’ll usually order it.  Just outside of Sabula, Iowa there is a wonderful little restaurant that serves German dishes and I used to try to go there at once a year.  The hotel in Galena also has it on their menu and I like to eat there just because of it.

This area had many German immigrants that settled here, but they quickly assimilated and blended in with the 2 world wars and I think much of their heritage has been lost.  I’m trying to keep part of my heritage alive by my cooking.   

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
6 pieces chopped bacon
1/2 grated yellow onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and nutmeg.  Add the eggs and milk and stir until smooth. Let the mixture stand for 30 minutes.  This is a very important part so do not skip it resting .   It allows the gluten to work.

Bring water to a boil in a deep pan and put a metal sieve over the boiling water.   Using a spatula, press the batter through a sieve into boiling salted water.  Your batter should be somewhat running like above so it will go through the sieve holes easily. 

Generally, once the Spätzle begins to float (1 to 3 minutes) it means it is cooked. Using a slotted spoon or scoop, scoop out and drain the Spätzle before placing it in a serving dish.

Some people advocate dipping the Spätzle in cold water first, but this is simply a personal preference.  I don’t dip it.  Stir in a little butter to keep them from sticking together.  You may freeze half of it for other day by putting it into a baggie and unthawing it when you need it.

In a skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until soft and caramelized.  Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the bacon and onions and then add your Spätzle and brown and warm through.   Season as needed with salt and pepper. 

You may keep it very simple and just make plain Spätzle, freeze the little dumplings, or add them to your soups.  I make two dishes out of it by freezing half for another day and using the other up on my dish of the day.  Try making a meat dish with gravy and use the Spätzle as a side with butter, salt and pepper and gravy over it.  Or try adding a little grated gruyere cheese (1/2 cup) or cheese of your choice for another twist.  It makes it a complete meal or you can serve it as a side dish. It is a good substitute for potatoes.  

I also make a casserole out of it by mixing a cup of milk and 2 eggs beaten together and adding it to cubed ham, cheddar cheese, onion, salt and pepper and Spätzle.  Bake it in the oven until it is gold brown on top.

If you are taking it out of the freezer let it thaw and put butter in a pan and fry it up until it is warmed through.  If you eat it plain, you only need add seasonings.  Try a little paprika, salt and pepper.

Hope you enjoy your German Spätzle.  Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Blueberry Oatmeal Bread

Well it is St. Patrick's Day so I really should be sharing an Irish recipe with you, but it is also Sunday and I have been making a point of doing brunch items on Sunday.  So I've decided to continue with the brunch recipes.  I've share several Irish recipes this week, so if you are Irish and doing brunch just add a little green food coloring to your eggs or pancakes you serve.  My recipe today is a healthy blueberry bread that will go nice with any brunch.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 1/2 cup  flour
1 cup old fashion oats or quick oats
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Cream your butter and sugar, then add eggs and vanilla and mix until creamy.

Next, add cinnamon, baking soda, salt, Greek yogurt, flour, and oats; mix together all ingredients until you have a thick batter. Finally gently fold in your blueberries. 

Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan, smooth out top and sprinkle the top with oats. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 65 to 75 minutes or until done.  Cool 15 minutes, remove from pan.  Allow to cool completely.

You may also put these is muffin pans and make small individual servings.  Just cut down your baking time.  Start checking after 25 minutes or less depending on the size of your muffins.  

Have a great St. Patrick's Day.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.   

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Strawberries are on sale for $1.28 this week at Fareways, so I picked them up.   I’m making a strawberry spinach salad with them.  Isn't it beautiful and so simple?  

¼ cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons sugar
1 package (10 ounces) fresh spinach
1 cup fresh sliced strawberries

2 tablespoons canola oil or olive oil
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar (you may substitute with red wine vinegar)
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 ½  tablespoon of strawberry jam or jelly
¼ teaspoon salt (You may not need salt because of the soy sauce.  Taste first)

In a large skillet, cook and stir almonds and sugar over low heat until sugar is dissolved and almonds are coated. Spread on foil to cool; break apart.

In a large salad bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries and candied almonds.

In a mason jar, combine the dressing ingredients; shake well. Drizzle over salad; toss gently to coat.

Variation – You may cut up some green onion or add some slices of red onion if you like a bit of a bite to your salad.  Try using pecans instead of almonds. Or since tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, you could use mandarin oranges instead of strawberries so you have the colors of the Irish flag (green, orange and white). Replace the strawberry jam in the dressing with orange marmalade and use some of the juice from the can of oranges.  

Have a great Saturday, be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Cinnamon French Toast Bake

Here is a very simple French toast bake for this weekend.

1/4 cup melted butter
2 cans Pillsbury refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing
4 eggs
1 cup half and half
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour the melted butter into a 13 × 9 baking dish covering the bottom of the dish.

Cut each uncooked cinnamon roll into 4 pieces.  Scatter the cinnamon roll pieces over the melted butter.  Set the icing aside.

Lightly beat the eggs.  Add in the half and half, vanilla, cinnamon, brown sugar and salt and whisk until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cinnamon roll pieces. Scatter the chopped pecans on top.

Bake for 30-32 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.  Shift powdered sugar on top. Slightly warm the cinnamon roll icing in the microwave for a few seconds. Drizzle the icing over the French toast bake before serving.

Serve with maple syrup on the side.

Variation - Add some apple sauce or chop up apple pie filling into small parts and it will be a Apple French fritter bake.

Have a great Friday, be happy and may God be with you and yours. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chorizo and Thyme Fougasse

I have a tiny bit of chorizo in the freezer and saw this on the cooking channel so decided I needed to give it a try.  It is a super simple bread recipe of just flour, salt, yeast and water.  You can decide what herbs you would like to add or any meat.  You could use pepperoni also.  

 3 1/2 cups white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 to 1 1/4 cups
Leaves of 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 cup chorizo sausage, very finely chopped
Vegetable oil, for oiling
3 tbsp milk, for brushing

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Dust a large baking sheet with flour.

Put the flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl and mix together to combine; pour in the water, just enough to make a dough that is loose and easy to knead, but not too sticky. If it feels tight, then add more water. As you knead it, the dough will become less sticky, so if you can add all the1 1/4 cups your loaf will be much lighter.

Knead the dough for 5 minutes in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the thyme and knead for an additional 30 seconds, or until it is well combined. Put half the chorizo in the middle of the dough and then fold the edge around it to cover and knead it for an extra minute.

On a floured surface, shape the fougasse into a ball, making sure the top of the ball is taught and smooth. Using a rolling pin, roll it out into a rough oval shape and transfer to the flour dusted baking sheet. Using a very sharp knife, or razor blade, carefully cut slashes in the loaf to look like a fern leaf, then with floured hands open up the slashes wide, as they will close up a lot when the bread is left to double in size.

Push the remaining chorizo into the top of the dough, then cover the dough loosely with oiled plastic wrap (you may need several pieces). Let rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (1 hour).

Remove the plastic wrap, brush the dough with milk and place in the oven.  Throw a couple of handfuls of ice cubes in the bottom of the oven on lower shelf before closing. This will keep a crust from forming too quickly on the bread, which would prevent the bread from rising nicely.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the bread has risen and is a beautiful golden brown.  You nose almost tells you when it is done. It will come off the sheet once fully cooked too.

It is tough to top the taste of warm bread straight from the oven, slathered with lots butter.

Enjoy your day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Stir Fried Shrimp

Here is a very quick go to meal you can make when you can't think of something new for supper.  

I usually have small frozen shrimp in the freezer and like to use it for a salad.  Try making stir fried shrimp and putting it over your favorite salad, with fried rice or Ramon noodles.  You can make an oriental salad and crush up raw Ramon noodles and then top with shrimp.  Get creative.  

I'm using dried herbs because it is winter, but if you have fresh double the amount.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 pounds shrimp
1 tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. dried thyme.
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add garlic and cook until fragrant and lightly browned, about 30 seconds. Add shrimp and stir-fry for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add basil, oregano and thyme and continue to stir-fry until shrimp are cooked through, curled, and pink.  If you are using fresh basil, oregano and thyme, double the amount.  Season with salt and red pepper flakes to taste. 

Super simple today.  Have a super day, be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Scotch Eggs

Here is another traditional St. Pat's Day recipe, even if it is a Scotch egg.  Serve it with your Colcannon and fresh soda bread or for your St. Pat's Day brunch with your Boxty. 

Makes 4 eggs

1 pound lean ground beef
2 eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cups finely minced onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper
Flour for dusting the eggs
4 hard boiled eggs (Bring to a boil, turn off stove and put on lid and let it sit for 20 minutes)
1 cup Panko bread crumbs

Boil your water in a decent sized pot, once the water is boiling, add your room temperature eggs carefully with a spoon and set your timer for 7 minutes.  As soon as your timer goes off, remove the eggs and put them in a bath of cold water.  Crack them and shell them under cold water.

In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, one of the beaten eggs, the olive oil, onion, garlic, sage, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.

Put a small amount of flour into a bowl. Dredge the hard boiled eggs lightly in the flour and then dust off the excess flour with your fingers. Using about 1/4 of the “meat” mixture, pat the mixture around one of the eggs, completely enclosing the egg in the mixture. Set aside on a plate. Repeat with the remaining eggs and then transfer the plate to the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour or more.

Place the second beaten egg and the bread crumbs in two small bowls. Dip the scotch eggs into the beaten egg wash and coat well. Transfer the egg to the bowl of bread crumbs and coat on all sides. Shake off the excess bread crumbs and place the scotch eggs on a nonstick or oiled baking sheet.

Bake the Scotch eggs in a preheated 350 F. degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown (you may want to turn the eggs a few times during cooking to ensure even browning.)

Variation – Try using a good breakfast sausage and wrap in bacon and then bake as stated above.  Serve on St. Pat’s Day or with your Easter Sunday brunch. 

Wishing you a very Happy St. Patrick's Day.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Colcannon (Irish potatoes and cabbage)

Anyone of you that really know me well, know I'm not a lover of cooked cabbage.  I love it raw, but God did not bless me with a love of it cooked.  Since this is a very traditional Irish dish, I'm sharing this for St. Patty's Day.  Bacon, butter and potatoes makes everything taste better.

6 slices bacon
5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 cup butter, plus 1 tablespoon for serving
1/2 cup milk
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic
1 small head cabbage, cored and chopped small
3 green onions, chopped

Chop bacon and brown in a large skillet. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Remove pan from heat and reserve 1 tablespoon of pan drippings.

Place potatoes in a pot with the water just barely covering the top. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender and drain. Return to pan and add 1/4 cup butter and milk. Mash with a potato masher. Turn burner to low and cover to keep warm while you prepare the cabbage.

Return bacon pan to stove and heat over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and cabbage to reserved bacon drippings. Stir to combine. Cover and cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until cabbage is soft.

Stir cabbage mixture into warmed potatoes. Stir in reserved bacon pieces and chopped green onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl, top with remaining tablespoon of butter.

Next Sunday is St. Patrick's Day so may have another Irish recipes to share tomorrow.   Have a great Monday, be happy and may God bless you and yours.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Boxty (Potato Pancake)

Here is a traditional Irish potato pancake called Boxty for your Sunday Brunch.  

8 oz raw potato, grated
8 oz mashed potato
4 oz flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon chopped spring onions
Milk or buttermilk to mix

Mix the grated and mashed potato together. Stir in the flour and garlic/onion and season with salt and pepper. Add the beaten egg and enough milk to make a batter that will drop from the spoon. Cook on a griddle or shallow fry for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Serve with bacon and eggs.

Tomorrow I'll share Colcanon (potatoes and cabbage) with you.  

Hope you have a beautiful Sunday.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Irish Stew

The potato is a staple in the Irish diet so I am naturally going to go to Irish stew in thinking about any Irish dish.  My mom loves it with barley but there are no rules.  I like it simple.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion (or you can use small whole like Cipolline or pearl onions)
3 cloves garlic
1 bottle Guinness beer (must be bottle, not can!)
2 pounds beef stew meat
4 medium potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
Add to favorites like Barley or when done top with dumplings or biscuts

Pour the olive oil into a skillet over medium heat. When the olive oil is hot, put in the chopped onion and garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until soft, about 6 minutes.

Add the Guinness, beef, and sliced potatoes to the skillet and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Place quartered potatoes in a 6 quart slow cooker. Transfer Guinness beef mixture to slow cooker over the quartered potatoes.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, until meat and vegetables are very tender. Add more salt and pepper to taste, then serve.

Alternate Method if adding dumplings

Cook the stew in crock pot on high for about 4 hours.

Parsley Dumplings
1 1/3 cups flour
1 handful fresh parsley (optional)
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream

Make the dumpling dough: in a medium bowl, stir together the flour, parsley, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the cream and stir just until the dough comes together.

If you are adding dumplings the stew needs to be simmering. Drop the biscuit batter by the large spoonful on top of the simmering stew, cover and cook for 15 minutes, until the biscuits are cooked through. Do not remove the lid

Tomorrow I'll share another Irish recipe for St. Patty's Day.  

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Friday, March 8, 2013

Corn Beef

You will need to get started on corn beef well before St. Pat’s day because it must be cured at least 5 days or more.  Great thing is you will probably be able to enjoy several terrific meals out of your work and effort.  Start watching for sales on corn beef now. 

Corn Beef 


1 gallon water
2 cups Kosher salt
3 tbsp pickling spices
½  cup brown sugar
1 large bay leaves, crumbled
½ teaspoons ground ginger


1 4 to 5 pound beef brisket
1 tbsp pickling spices

Use a mortar and pestle to crush the pickling spices a little (or the back of a spoon).  Add about 3 tbsp. of the spice mix (reserve the rest for cooking the corned beef after it has cured), plus add half stick of cinnamon, 1 large bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger to a gallon of water in a large pot, along with the Kosher salt, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate until well chilled.

Place the brisket in a large, flat container or pan, and cover with the brine. The brine should cover the meat. The meat may float in which case you may want to weigh it down with a plate. Alternatively you can use a 2-gallon freezer bag (placed in a container so if it leaks it doesn't leak all over your refrigerator), place the brisket in the freezer bag and about 2 quarts of brine, squeezing out the air from the bag before sealing. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 5 days. Every day flip the brisket over, so that all sides get brined equally.

At the end of the cure, remove the brisket from the brine and rinse off the brine with cold water. Place the brisket in a large pot that just fits around the brisket and cover with at least one inch of water. If you want your brisket less salty, add another inch of water to the pot. Add a tablespoon of the pickling spices to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a very low simmer (barely bubbling), and cook 4 hours (or put in a cock pot) until the corned beef is fork tender. At this point you can store in the fridge for up to a week.  Remove the meat to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes before cutting. You can also use the spiced cooking liquid to cook vegetables for a boiled dinner or corned beef and cabbage. Slice thinly against the grain to serve.

Left overs?

Make a grilled Reuben sandwich with rye bread, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese.

Or how about home made hash.  A little boiled potatoes, onion, chopped up corn beef and salt and pepper. Simple and great when topped with an over easy fried egg.  

Left overs are a very good thing and that makes me happy.   Tomorrow I'll share Irish Stew.

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Irish Soda Bread

I’m not Irish, but that doesn’t mean I can’t like corn beef or Irish soda bread.  I’ll be sharing some Irish recipes with you for a couple of days in honor of St. Pat’s Day coming up March 17th.  

It is such a super simple bread to make.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 - 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and stir together. Add buttermilk and mix with a large spoon (or with your hands, shaping your fingers into a "claw") until the dough comes together. You might need two tablespoons more or less buttermilk depending on the weather. The dough should be moist, but not so sticky it is very hard to handle.

Shape into a round and place on baking sheet. Cut an X into the top with a sharp knife and bake for about 45 minutes, until dark golden. A toothpick will come out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before slicing. Bread is best served soon after baking while it is warm enough to melt your butter.  Try serving it with green mint jelly.

Tomorrow I'll be sharing corn beef.  It takes at least 5 days to marinate, so need to get started well before St. Patty's Day.

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Red Beans and Smoked Sausage

Red beans with smoked sausage served over rice …. Yum!  It has been many years since I was married to a Puerto Rican, but I still love rice and beans and it is healthy for you.

1 pound bag dried small red beans (you can substitue pinto beans if you like)
6 cups water
2  cups chicken broth
1 ham hock or small ham bone
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1 ring of your favorite smoked sausage, cut into slices or pieces
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
Long grain rice (I love basmati rice)

Rinse the beans soak over night.  Rinse again after soaking and put in a large stock pot.  You don’t need to soak the beans, but they cook faster. Add water and remaining ingredients except for salt. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer on low for about 1 hour or until beans are tender. Taste and add salt before serving.  You may think that adding the bone is not necessary, but it adds a great deal of flavor to your beans, just like navy bean soup.  I recommend that you do not leave out.

Pull out the bone and bay leaf.

Serve cooked over rice. Use the sauce like gravy and pour heavily over the rice and beans.  If the sauce has become too thick add more waters or broth.


2 cups of basmati rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp. salt
½ pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
3 cups of water (for more flavor you can add chicken stock)

Heat pan with oil and add your rice.  Stir rice in oil until it is beginning to turn whiter.  Do not walk away and keep stirring.  Add your salt, pepper and garlic.  When much of the rice has begun to change color (do not let it turn brown), pour in your liquid.  Let rice come to a boil and turn down to low and put on your lid.  Let it steam for 30 minutes.  Do not lift your lid. 

Fluff your rice with a fork and test to make sure done and for seasoning.  You can put lid back on to continue steaming if still not done.

I'm going to brave it today and go out in the snow.  Beans and rice sound awful good to come home to.

Starting tomorrow, I'm going to start sharing Irish recipes with you in celebration of St. Patrick's Day coming up March 17.

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.