Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Dinner

We will be hosting a smaller Christmas Day dinner at our house. I'm thinking of doing a Ham and SCALLOPED POTATOES WITH THREE CHEESES (regina's recipe). I am also thinking of Aunt Carole Morrrow's baked fruit but maybe a wintery recipe, I saw one in a magazine. I need other ideas to go with it. We will have Grandma's Christmas Candy and maybe ice cream for desert but I need some veggie and starters.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Citrus-Marinated Shrimp

Thanks to my friend Kathleen, we discovered a great shrimp ceviche this past summer that we all really enjoyed. Holland and I decided to recreate that recipe for a cooler-weather dinner, we marinated jumbo shrimp in olive oil, garlic, lemon and lime juice and cilantro. We sauteed this and served over orzo or rice. I served it with a salad, bread (great for sopping), and a side of roasted tomatoes and spinach (which George and I mixed into our shrimp, but the kids don't all like the spinach).

I wanted to take a picture of the dish because it looks so beautiful, but I forgot before dinner and this is what was left the two times I've made it for my family. The kids practically licked the dish clean (I think Holland actually did!).

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Thai Chicken Wraps

This was quick and yummy! It's from a Back Packing site Manny goes to:

This recipe was designated a lunch/snack recipe due to it's simpleness but of course can be used for a dinner as well.

•1/2 C. Creamy Peanut Butter
•1/2 C. of Prepared Pad Thai sauce (easily found in most grocery stores)
•1 Bunch of Green Onion
•4 Large Tortillas, Wraps, or Flatbreads
•1 Pkg - 7 Ounces of Tyson Chicken (or two 5 ounce cans)
•Leaf or Romaine Lettuce (We suggest Romaine. It's much stiffer and will hold up well in a pack for a day or two as long as it does not get overheated)

Package the above ingredients using whatever method suits you
Trail Preparation

In your cookpot (we suggest using hard anodized aluminum for its non stick properties) stir together the peanut butter, chopped green onions and pad thai sauce. Cook over medium heat stirring until sauce is mixed completely and warm. Do not overcook!

Layout a Tortilla or Wrap, top with lettuce, chicken and onions. Sauce over the top and then wrap burrito style.

You may also consider saucing the wrap first, then other ingredients but we find personally that having the sauce on the chicken imparts a better flavor.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The inspiration for the virtual dinner group blog originally came from a flurry of emails around salad’s place at the Thanksgiving table. (My family of origin has always been a “No” on this matter, mostly because we have every other conceivable vegetable on the table ... simply no room for salad. My mother-in-law, however, makes the best simple salad, and it is always served at Thanksgiving, and every other meal, mostly as a palate cleanser between all the other very rich and delicious foods.) I have looked in vain for that email chain in my archives, because it was hilarious, and I would love to not only share it with you, but also reread it myself (who can’t use a little hilarity on a daily basis?).

As far as Thanksgiving Salad goes, I usually pass, and I believe that if there is going to be a salad on a table that rich, it should be a simple (palate-cleansing) salad, and not interfere with “the main event.” However, I made a spectacular Fall salad last week, that I proceeded to make again and again for lunch as the week went on. It was inspired by a recipe in USA Weekend last week for Escarole salad with provolone, warm white beans and prosciutto crisps. I added a little sweetness to balance the bitter greens and piquant provolone. The red from the pepper, onion, and cranberries stand out among the greens and beans and it looks like Fall.

Fall salad
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
3 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into small dice2 garlic cloves, minced
1 15-oz can cannellini beans, not drained
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T agave syrup
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 head escarole halved, cored, chopped, washed, and dried (or slightly bitter greens that are so abundant in Fall)
½ red bell pepper, stemmed, cored, seeded and cut into short thin strips
¼ large red onion, thinly sliced
16 pitted kalamata olives, halved (about ¼ cup)
3 oz provolone cheese, diced
¼ c dried cranberries
Sauté the prosciutto in the olive oil until crisp. Remove to paper towel to drain.

Add the white beans to the sauté pan with the crushed red pepper, and bring to a simmer. Cook until beans are warmed through.

While beans are warming, add vinegar, agave, and olive oil to a jar and shake to combine. Pour dressing into bottom of a large salad bowl. To the salad bowl, add escarole, pepper, onion, olives, cheese and cranberries.

Just before serving, add beans and prosciutto and toss.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Crockpot teriyaki chicken

I recently offered Crockpot teriyaki chicken as part of my Crockpot Tuesday selections. Maureen, in California, wanted the dinner, but didn’t want to spring for the airfare to get me there. So, because I love her, and because I am such a good sister, here’s the link to the recipe from a fabulous web site full of fabulous, interesting crockpot recipes, Crockpot Girls.

Crockpot teriyaki chicken recipe

1 small bag of baby carrots
1 head of broccoli, chopped
1 20-oz can pineapple chunks
½ large red onion cut in chunks
2 cloves garlic
6 thighs
½ teriyaki sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Layer vegetables, fruit, and garlic first, then add the chicken on top. Drizzle teriyaki sauce over the chicken and add salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What is your favorite recipe to make?

From Real Simple's Take Back Dinner Challenge:
Always be on the lookout for new recipe ideas. Read your local paper’s food section or food blogs, keep a folder designated specifically for recipes you want to try, trade recipes with friends, and find inspiration from your favorite restaurants—try to replicate your favorite dish at home.

Idea to Try: Ask a friend for her favorite recipe and make it this week.

So, what is your favorite recipe to make? Let's share here!

My favorite would be "make your own pizza night." I make the dough from New Basics (below) then divide it into pieces for each kid and a larger one or two for George and I to share. The kids love to shape and top their own. Their favorite toppings are sauce, cheese, olives, mushrooms, tomatoes. Occasionally one of them will be a little more creative (Holland loves Hawaiin). I like to use whatever is seasonal or in the house, but some of our all-time favorites are: fresh mozzarella, tomato & basil; pesto & shrimp; and carmelized onions and blue cheese. We love to play with whatever veggies and cheeses we have on hand. I think I want to try one with grilled chicken and spicy peanut sauce soon (one of my current favorite combos). (Feel free to share your favorite pizza toppings, too - maybe we'll try your's next!)

1 c warm water
1 package active dry yeast or 1/4 oz compressed yeast
2 1/2 - 3 c flour
2 T olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Combine water, east, and add 1 1/2 c of flour in a large bowl. Mix well. Add the oil, salt and remaining flour. With your hands or a large wooden spoon, work the ingreditents together until the dough holds its shape. (You may need a bit less flour, so add the last half gradually.)
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic, 5 minutes. If the dough becomes sticky while you are kneading it, sprinkle a bit more flour over it.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled 2-qt bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, and let the dough rest until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
When the dough has risen, place it on a lightly floured surface, diveid it into two or more parts and roll them into balls. Cover them with a towel and let rest for 15-20 minutes. The dough is now ready to be shaped, topped & cooked.

Two 12-inch pizzas, 4 6-inch pizzas, 8 3-inch pizzas

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Easy summer Risotto

I have made this before, but had to post this Fresh Tomato Risotto Recipe from The New Basics Cookbook. With summer ripe tomatoes and the microwave what more could one ask for?

1 T olive oil
1 C Arborio rice
3 C Chicken Stock or canned broth
1/2 C water
1/3 C dry white wine
6 small ripe plum tomatoes, halved, cored and chopped
2-3 T chopped, fresh basil leaves
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
Grated aged hard chevre, for garnish

1. Heat the oil in a deep 2 1/2 quart microwave-safe casserole, uncovered, for 1 minute on full power (650 to 700 watts)
2. Stir in the rice. Cook 1 minute.
3. Stir in 2 Cups of the stock, the water, and the wine. Cook 12 minutes, uncovered. Stir in the remaining 1 Cup of stock, the chopped tomatoes, and the basil. Cook 8 minutes.
4. Season with pepper and nutmeg, sprinkle with cheese, and serve immediately.

Serves: 2 portions

If your micro is less powerful you may need to add coooking time, if you don't have a carousel, you may have to rotate the dish while it is cooking.

Notes: (1) I have also done it with canned fire roasted tomatoes and it was equally delicious! (2) It served the four of us and there was a little leftover.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Trumpet squash

I just got a trumpet squash from a neighbor, has anyone cooked them before? What is the best way? My family is not huge squash eaters but I'd love to get them to try something new. I also have zucchini - anyone have a zucchini bread recipe?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hot Diggity Dog! Hot Dog Bar

Another BBQ starring Hot Dogs can be ho-hum, but a fun Hot Dog Bar is always a thrill. The great thing about it is you can create toppings and "themed dogs" to suit any taste, any style and any theme.

My husband George is loves his dogs. I mean, he really, really, really loves his dogs, so it just made sense to have a Hot Dog Bar to celebrate his 40th birthday party.

We prepped loads of toppings and even made cue cards on how to make certain types of dogs. We grouped toppings together based on what dogs they went on. It really was a huge hit!

Obviously, there is no end to the types and number of toppings you could do! Have fun with it!

Side notes: I made my Dad's chili and served it in the crockpot. My mother-in-law ordered the baked beans from George's favorite hot dog place. I rented a hot dog steamer so I didn't have to man the grill - great idea if you are having a crowd! I also made the spicy red onions (sauteed onions in a little Harissa olive oil and added ketchup and hot sauce to taste) and the corn relish (corn sliced off the cob, mixed with salsa, cilantro and pickle relish. I loved this!). Other than that, there was a lot of chopping and organizing of toppings, but it really worked perfectly!

Bacon mayo, lettuce & tomato

Guacamole & Salsa
Guacamole, salsa, chopped onion & cilantro

Coney Island Style
Chili, shredded cheddar & chopped onions

Atlantic City Style
Sauerkraut & Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard

Dixie Dog
Cole slaw, Dijon mustard & a pickle

Salsa, nacho cheese sauce & broken tortilla chips

A combination of diced fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil & minced garlic, drizzled with a dash of olive oil (particularly excellent on a sausage)

Corn relish & diced bacon

Spicy peanut sauce, diced cucumbers, chopped peanuts & cilantro

Fenway Frank
French's yellow mustard, finely chopped onion, & green sweet pickle relish

New York City's Street Cart Dog
Special red onion sauce & deli-style yellow mustard

Poppy seed bun, layered with yellow mustard, green relish, chopped raw onion, fresh tomato, a pickle spear, & a touch of celery salt

Hawaii 5-0 Dog
Mustard, baked beans, barbeque sauce, red onion & diced pineapple

Finally, here is a link to a place called Soul Dog near my sister that does lots of specialty dogs and is one of the resources we used putting together this list.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


All 6 of my family members birthdays fall in the summer months - 2 June, 2 July & 2 August (not to mention many, many more siblings, in-laws, nieces & nephews!). So we always seem to eat a lot of cakes, cupcakes, ice cream cakes, etc. all summer long. This year, my husband turned 40 and I had a little party for him. My husband loves cupcakes!

Lucky for me, the party took place AFTER my daughter and niece took a Cupcake Wars Camp, after I got the fabulous May 2011 Real Simple Magazine, featuring "The Only Cake Story You'll Ever Need," AND after my sister Kate gave me a great cookbook, FLOUR. With a combination of these great items, I made a variety of cupcakes I was really thrilled with!

For the party, I made 4 batches of cupcakes - 2 yellow, 2 chocolate. I topped one batch of yellow with chocolate ganache frosting and one with lemon frosting; topped (and filled) 1 batch of chocolate with marshmallow cream frosting (and filling) and 1 batch with chocolate ganache frosting. The recipes are as follows.

Chocolate Cupcakes & Yellow Cupcakes Recipes came from Real Simple Magazine, along with the Lemon Frosting (Vanilla Frosting with the Lemon variartion). The magazine also has adorable ideas for decorating them - check it out!

The marshmallow cream frosting (from could not be easier: Mix 7.5 oz jar of marshmallow fluff with 1 stick of butter until fluffy. Make an opening in the cupcake with melon baller or apple corer and fill with marshmallow frosting (from a pastry bag). Place cupcake back on top and top with marshmallow frosting. Could also do a layer of ganache over the top of the cupcake.

The Chocolate Ganache Frosting from Flour is fantastic: Put 12 ounces of semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used a mixture of dark and semisweet) in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, scald 1 c. heavy cream over med-high heat (bubbles start to form around the edges, but the cream is not boiling). Pour hot cream over chocolate and let sit for about 1 minute, then slowly whisk together the chocolate and cream until the chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth. Let sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours or until completely cool. (Or, referigerate the ganache until cool, about 30 minutes, whisking every 10 minutes.)
Beat 1 c unsalted butter (at room temperature) on med-low speed for 10-15 seconds, or until smooth. Add 1 c. confectioners sugar, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, and continue to beat on med-low speed for about 2 minutes or until the mixture is fluffy and smooth. Stop the mixer a few times and use a rubber spatula to release any clinging butter or sugar. On med. speed, add the cooled ganache and beat for about 2 minutes or until completely combined. Turn up the mixer speed to med-high and beat for about 1 minute or until the frosting lightens in color and thickens. You should have about 4 cups. (Use the frosting the day you make it, or cover and store in refrigerator for up to 1 day, then bring to room temperature and paddle again for a few minutes until smooth before using.)

I topped the lemon cupcakes with lemon zest, the others with colored ball sprinkles in the party theme colors and all of them had little cupcake toppers on sticks made from scrapbook papers in party colors, cupcake stickers and some with cute pictures of my husband throughout the years.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

HOT Dinners!

Heat wave here, and across much of the country, this week. What are you making for dinner to beat the heat?

Tonight, we are having chicken salad, tomato, mozzarella & basil salad, green salad and watermelon. Tomorrow my kids have a 1/2 day because of the predicted temps and no AC in the schools -- it may well be ice pops for dinner then!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Kathy's Baked Beans

1/2 pound bacon, browned and crumpled
1 medium onion, chopped and browned in bacon fat
2 large cans of B&M Baked Beans
1 can Kidney beans (I sometimes also add a can of Garbanzo beans)
1 can Butter beans

After browning bacon and onion add to crockpot along with the cans of beans. Add in 1/2 C ketchup, 1/2 C molasses and 1 t powdered mustard (I use Coleman's). The orginal recipe also calls for 1/2 pound of ground beef of turkey. (I have never used this as I always serve meat alongside the beans). Heat in Crockpot about 4 hours on low.

Monday, May 16, 2011

What's for Dinner this week?

We have a busy week (if 1/2 of our activities aren't rained out). I'm feeling spent on creativity and am wondering what wonderful meals you are all having this week? Please share!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spinach grapefruit salad

1/2 c. red onion, sliked thin in vertical strips
1 large pink or white grapefruit
6 c. spinach leaves
1 large avocado, peeed, pitted and cut into 12 wedges
1 T. pine nuts or pomengranate seeds for garnish
3 T. fresh lemon juice
3 T. honey
1/2 t. coarse salt
freshly ground pepper

Kelly made this for Easter. It was great. Very springy and the flavor mix was great. She was kind enough to share the recipe so wanted to pass it on. It's on the menu tonight.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Food

We had a few friends over last night to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. We were having drinks, "heavy appetizers" and desserts. My serving goal was to serve foods that were Irish-inspired and/or orange and green. I am putting up my menu (before I forget):
Cockles & Mussels (sauteed a little garlic in butter, added white wine and parsley and steamed the mussels and cockles)
Green, White & Orange Veggies with spinach dip
Minted Peaches with Mint Ice Cream (I tossed sliced fresh peaches with some sugar and chopped mint. I mixed some chopped fresh mint into softened vanilla ice cream and served in a martini glass on top of the peaches)
And my friend Maria brought Mint Brownies (she makes her brownies, then while they are still hot she puts Andes Candies on top and spreads them as they melt. Beautiful and delicious!)
We had Guinness, Harp, Bass and others, and of course, finished with Irish Cream.
Overall, exactly the meal I was hoping for. I don't think I would omit or change one thing.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Post

We are having a few friends over to celebrate St. Patrick's Day next weekend for cocktails and drinks.
Food: I am not going to do a full corned beef and cabbage dinner, but may do some appetizer based on corned beef (my husband would be ecstatic if I did a hash). I am looking for dishes that are based in Irish Cuisine and/or that are orange and green. I WILL be making Irish soda bread and probably some brown bread, and my Potatoes with Smoked Salmon (post from last year).
I am also thinking I might do baby lamb chops with mint and some type of clam or mussel dish. Any other thoughts? I'd love to hear them!
Drinks: I think we'll be offering an assortment of drinks made with Irish beers and/or whiskeys, and, of course, Irish Cream.
Look forward to your thoughts.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lent’s upon us again. This year, I’m trying to offer Meatless Crockpots on Fridays. I’ve come up with the following schedule:
Friday, March 18: Split Pea Soup with Tarragon
Friday, March 25: Maryland Day Crab Bisque
Friday, April 1: April Fools’ Day “Worms with Eyeballs” (Spaghetti with Meatless Meatballs)
Friday, April 8: Lentil Soup with Vegetables
Friday, April 15: Income Tax Clam Chowder
Friday, April 22: Good Friday Confetti Vegetable Curry

But I need a recipe for the “eyeballs” (meatless meatballs). Has anyone ever made veggie meatballs? Any ideas? I’ve put the call out to my friends who are vegetarians, or have vegetarian kids too. So far, nada.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Lamb Curry

Last week, a friend and I visited Trader Joe's and I purchased a Curry Simmer Sauce. OH YUM! Made a Lamb Curry the other night, adding in lamb tips, diced onions, potatoes, carrots, raisins and light coconut milk. (I think without the coconut milk it might have been a bit too spicy for the kids, but with it, they did great!)

It was so easy, and so tasty. I love that you could add in whatever you have at home and dinner can be ready in a few minutes (just make sure to cut the potatoes into a really small dice if you are trying to cook quickly so they get soft enough). Can't wait to try it another time with chick peas, spinach and cauliflower.

Does anyone have any other favorite Trader Joe sauces or marinades?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Linguine with shrimp and cilantro lime pesto

We will be eating this tomorrow.
I hope it tastes as good as it sounds. I may do half chicken and half shrimp a I have one that does not eat seafood. Will let you know how it is:)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Crab dip

Can you post your crab dip for us?