Saturday, March 20, 2010

Strawberry Spinach Salad

1 lb. spinach - washed & torn
1 qt. strawberries, sliced

1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. finely chopped onion
1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 c. cider vinegar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 Tbs. sesame seeds (optional)
1 Tbs. poppy seeds (optional)

Blend first 5 ingredients slowly. Then add oil while still blending. Pour into container and add seeds. Refrigerate dressing until ready to serve. Pour dressing over salad right before serving.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Vichyssoise (Potato Leek Soup)

2/3 cup of leeks, thinly sliced, white portion only

1 small onion, sliced

2 tablespoons of butter or EVOO

2-1/2 cups of potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly (if you have a salad shooter that works)

2 cups of broth (vegetable or chicken)

1-1/2 cups of milk (skim is okay)

1 cup of heavy cream (or you can use corn starch as a lower calorie option thickener just add more milk or broth)

2 gloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup of green onions/chives, sliced thinly

Salt & Pepper to taste (you will need this otherwise it may taste bland - add 1/4 of a tsp at a time of each until you find the right flavor)

In a saucepan over medium high heat saute leeks and onions in butter/oil until tender but not brown.

Add potatoes, broth and some salt/pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 35 minutes (stir from time to time) to check for tenderness of potatoes.

Remove about 1 cup of the potato mixture and set aside. Puree the rest of the soup mixture in a food processor (in small batches) or use an immersion blender until smooth. Return to the saucepan and add back in the 1 cup of un-pureed mixture. Add milk and cream/thickening agent to the soup. Warm soup thoroughly if you desire to serve it hot. Garnish soup with chives.

This soup may be served cold or hot.


California Avocado Sandwich

(my take on the Atlanta Bread Co's version)


24 hours in advance: In a bowl mix together 4 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon of fresh dill or 2 tablespoons of dried dill with 4 tablespoons of mayo - this is enough for about 1-2 sandwiches - I recommend slathering this on though - it's yummy. Now you can whip this together the day of making the sandwich but the dill flavor will not be as intense.

2 slices of Russian Rye Bread (yes, the "Russian" part is important, IMO, but you could use any fresh sliced bread)

2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil

2 slices of tomato

1/2 of an avocado sliced thinly

Heat oil in a pan. Add the two pieces of bread - ensuring they soak up the olive oil - cook until lightly browned/toasted on both sides.

Slather on the dill-mayo to both sides. Add the two slices of tomato and avocado. Cut in half - enjoy! Especially good with basil tomato soup.


Blue Cheese Spinach Salad

Not really a recipe, since you just literally dump everything together, but I love this one.

bag of baby spinach
crumbled blue cheese
candied pecans (chopped)

light raspberry vinaigrette

This is just fresh and delish!


Champagne Shrimp and Pasta

(courtesy of TKF123 at with additions)


8 oz angel hair pasta

1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

1 cup of sliced fresh mushrooms (I also prefer to use 1 oz of rehydrated dried mushrooms for a more intense flavor)

1 pound of medium shrimp (peeled/deveined - I prefer to use precooked shrimp)

1 1/2 cups of champagne (very important - don't skip)

salt/pepper to taste

2 tbs of minced shallots (or as much as you like)

1 clove of garlic minced (or as much as you like)

2 plum tomatoes diced (or any kind of fresh tomato)

1 cup of heavy cream (you could also make a lower calorie thickener with cornstarch)

Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of slightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente, drain.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pan. Cook and stir mushrooms in oil until tender. Remove mushrooms from pan and set aside in a large bowl.

3. Combine shrimp and champagne in pan, cook over high heat when liquid begins to boil remove the shrimp from the pan (add to the mushroom bowl).

4. Add shallots, garlic and tomatoes to the champagne, boil until liquid is reduced to about 1/2 cup. Stir in the cream or other thickening agent. Let boil until slightly thick (continue to run your whisk through the mixtures so that it doesn't stick or clump). Add the shrimp/mushrooms back in to the sauce. Add the cooked pasta and heat thoroughly (but don't over-cook shrimp).

5. Plate up and add parmesan cheese to the top.

Notes: I also added broccoli at the same time as the tomatoes/shallots/onions.


Gorgonzola Pizza


12 oz pizza crust (make your own, buy the crust pre-made, or buy the dough pre-mixed in the cooler section)

2 large vidalia onions

10 medium sun-dried tomatoes, without oil (you can leave them whole or dice them)

3 oz of Gorgonzola (I buy the container with a mixed gorgonzola/blue cheese)

Fresh spinach leaves

1 clove of garlic

1/4 cup of chopped green onion

1 teaspoon olive oil

1. Add olive oil to a pan and cook onions over medium-low heat (do not brown). After about 15 minutes add in the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.

2. Prepare pizza crust - bake for about half the time recommended (you can start baking the pizza crust while you are preparing the onion/garlic mixture). Add the onion mixture to the pizza crust and top with the tomatoes, spinach and cheese.

3. Continue baking until the dough is thoroughly baked and the cheese has melted. Garnish the top with green onion.

Notes: The tomatoes and Gorgonzola can be VERY STRONG so don't add more than recommended. I do suggest dicing the tomatoes.


Pesto-Coated Baked Chicken


4 boneless chicken breasts

1/2 cup of pesto (typically can find next to marinara)

1 tablespoon of sour cream

1 tablespoon of mayo

1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese

1 - 2 tablespoon of pine nuts

1. Preheat oven to 450.

2. Place chicken in a sprayed glass baking dish.

3. Combine pesto, sour cream and mayo in a bowl. Brush/spoon over the chicken breasts.

4. Sprinkle the tops of the chicken breasts with the parmesan cheese and pine nuts.

5. Bake 8-10 minutes or until chicken is done.

Notes: You can also use the pesto mixture as a marinade. Use your hands and massage the mixture into the chicken breast and let sit for up to 24 hours. Reserve some of the pesto mixture to add a fresh coating to the tops of the chicken breasts before baking. This can also be frozen.


Mushroom-Manchego Quesadillas

(courtesy of Vegetarian Times)


2 jalapeno chiles (or you can use a small can of green chilies - depending on your taste)

2 tsp of olive oil

6 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced

1/4 tsp. ground pepper

4 (8 inch) tortillas (your call - wheat/flour)

6 tbs. manchego cheese (seriously use this cheese - so yummy)

1/2 cup of salsa verde (green salsa)

Cilantro sprigs for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat boiler. Broil jalapenos on a foil-lined baking sheet for 15 minutes, or until blackened - turn once. Transfer to a bowl and let sit for 15 minutes. Then peel and remove the seeds. Chop coarsely.

2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and pepper, and saute for 3 minutes, or until browned.

3. Sprinkle 2 tortillas with the cheese - evenly. Top with jalapenos, mushrooms, and cover with the remaining tortillas.

4. Broil on a baking sheet for 2-3 minutes per side. Serve with salsa verde and garnish with cilantro.

Notes: You can make this for any number of quesadillas you want. Handle the jalapeno with care - recommend wearing gloves. You can also add other ingredients such as onion, garlic, etc. This is actually really tasty with the Creamy Mushroom Soup recipe.


Creamy Mushroom Soup

(courtesy of Vegetarian Times)


1 oz of mixed dried mushrooms (such as oysters, porcini and chanterelles)

8 oz (2 cups) of fresh chopped mushrooms (such as cremini and white button)

1 1/2 cups of low-sodium broth (vegetable or any meat based is fine too)

1 tbs. olive oil (divided)

1/2 cup finely chopped shallot

1/4 tsp. salt and pepper (to taste)

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup of sherry

1 tbs. all-purpose flower

1/2 cup soy creamer (or heavy cream)

1. Place dried mushrooms in medium bowl. Cover with 2 cups of hot water, let stand for 30 minutes (this softens them up and releases their beautiful flavor). Then, drain the mushrooms and reserve the water.

2. Simmer the reserved water and broth in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat 1 1/2 tsp. oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the rehydrated mushrooms with some salt. Saute for about 2 minute or until mushrooms are tender. Transfer mushrooms to a plate - set aside for later.

3. Heat remaining 1 1/2 tsp of oil in the same saucepan over medium heat. Add the fresh shallots, mushrooms and pepper/salt. Cook for about 2 minutes (do not brown the shallots) and then add the garlic - cooking for about 30-60 seconds.

4. Increase heat to medium-high and stir in the sherry. Simmer about 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half.

5. Remove about a half of a cup of the both liquid, place it in a bowl and add flour - whisk together and then re-add to the pan.

6. Combine the mushroom/shallot/garlic mixture with the broth mixture. Add about half of the rehydrated mushrooms as well.

7. Transfer the soup mixture to a blender or soup processor (or use your immersion blender) and blend until creamy. The soup is now ready to serve - add a few of the rehydrated mushrooms as garnish.

Notes: This recipes sounds complex with a lot of steps - but it isn't. If you love mushrooms this will knock your socks off. If you won't or can't use any of the dried mushrooms - don't make the soup. The intense smoky and woody flavor of those dried mushrooms make this soup. You can also double the ingredients so that you have leftovers. This is a wonderful low-calorie soup.


French Bread

This is a fantastic freezer recipe that I found a few months back from a book called Once-A-Month Cooking: A Proven System for Spending Less Time in the Kitchen and Enjoying Delicious, Homemade Meals Everyday by Mary Beth Lagerborg and Mimi Wilson It is a great book full of great recipes, definitely one to take out of the library!

The recipe makes 4 smallish loaves of french bread (enough for 4 or 5 people each).

3C Warm Water
1 1/4oz package active dry yeast
3Tbls sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
7 1/2-8C all purpose flour

1. In a large bowl dissolve yeast in 1C warm water.

2. Add sugar and salt, let stand 5 minutes.

3. Stir in 2C water and 3C of the flour-beat with the paddle attachment on your stand mixer. Add remaining flour 1C at a time.

4. Knead with dough hood attachment for 4-6 minutes.

5. Cover with a towel and let rise until tripled in size.
Note: You can make the dough in the morning and let it rise all day.

6. Shape into 4 "loaves" and place on a baking sheet sprayed with Pam.

7. Let rise 45 minutes until doubled in size.

8. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 and bake another 30 minutes or until golden.

To Freeze:
Wrap each baked loaf in foil

To Reheat:
Loosen one end of foil, and bake frozen loaf at 375 for 20-30 minutes (mine usually takes 30)

This bread is delish! Very crunchy on the outside, and soft and squishy on the inside.


Mock Cheesecake Factory Grilled Chicken Tostada Salad

mixed greens
flour tortillas (1 per person)
1 can black beans
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch scallions
1 can corn (or fresh when in season)
sour cream
1 lime
grilled chicken

Take flour tortillas and fry them in a little oil (healthier version-cut tortillas into strips and bake in the oven until crisp). Put fried tortilla on bottom of plate. Top tortilla with black beans. Top beans with salad mixed with chopped cilantro, scallions, corn, and tomatoes. Place sliced grilled chicken on top of salad

Top salad with an avocado cream- mash avocado and mix with sour cream, and juice of 1 lime

For the dressing, I use Newman's Own Light Lime Vinaigrette -it's amazing!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Chicken Durango

1/2 cup melted butter
5 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
4 boneless chicken breasts

Combine all ingredients except the chicken in a small bowl. Put the chicken into a labeled 1-gallon freezer bag, pour other ingredients over it, and freeze.
To serve, thaw the ingredients. Place in a baking dish treated with non-stick spray. Bake, uncovered for 45 minutes at 325 degrees.


Sour Cream Chicken

2 cups (16oz) Sour Cream
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp chopped garlic (I grated it- ala Rachael Ray tip)
2 tsp pepper
6 boneless. skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs *
2 tblsp parsley *
1/4 cup melted butter*

Mix the sour cream, lemon juice, Worcestershire Sauce, paprika, celery salt, garlic and pepper. Pout into 1- gallon freezer bag and add chicken. Completely covering the chicken with the sauce. Label and freeze
To serve, pour thawed chicken into baking pan treated with non-stick spray. Sprinkle top with breadcrumbs, parsley and drizzle with melted butter. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes

Note- I cubed the chicken and split this recipe into two freezer bags for two separate dinners.


Chicken Dijon

3 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts- cut in half
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup half & half
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tomatoes - cut into wedges *
2 tablespoons parsley flakes *

Melt the butter in a large skillet. Cook the chicken breast pieces in the butter over medium heat until cooked through and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside to cool.
Stir flour into drippings in the skillet and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and half & half. Stir and cook until the sauce thickens and bubbles. Stir in the mustard. Cook the sauce. Pour the chicken and cooled sauce into a la bled 1- gallon freezer bag and freeze.
To serve, the the chicken. Place the chicken and sauce in a skillet, cover and heat for 10 minutes. Garnish with tomatoes and parsley flakes.

Note- I split this recipe into 2 freezer bags for 2 servings.


Spinach Ricotta Sauce

This is great to make if you have some leftover ricotta after making a lasagna or baked ziti.

10 oz frozen spinach- thawed and well drained
2 tbsp olive oil
1 med onion- chopped
4 garlic cloves- minced (I do that Rachael Ray thing and grate the garlic- so easy)
1/2 cup of water
1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
dash of nutmeg
1 lb short pasta (like a bowtie) for day you serve

Thaw and drain spinach. Pat dry with paper towels to remove as much liquid as possible. Chop onion. Mince garlic.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil. Add onion and garlic; cook until onion is softened. Add 1/2 cup water; bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in spinach, ricotta cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Place in a labeled freezer bag and freeze.
To serve- thaw. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reheat sauce over low heat until through and recombined, stirring frequently. Spoon over pasta.
I like to add a chopped tomato and toasted pinoli nuts to this when I serve it.


Chicken Scampi

1/4 cup chopped green onion (I used an onion I had on hand)
3 tsp chopped garlic (or garlic powder)
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts- cut into 1/2 in strips
2 tbsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp pepper
fettuccine, other pasta or rice for day you serve
1 chopped tomato for day you serve

In a large skillet, saute the onions and garlic in butter and oil. Add the lemon juice, chicken, parsley and pepper. Cook the chicken, stirring occasionally, for 12 to 15 minutes, until no longer pink inside. Cook. Pour into a labeled 1- gallon freezer bag and freeze.
To serve, thaw the mixture. Cook pasta or rice according to directions. In a large skillet, cook the chicken mixture over medium heat for 6-10 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through. Spoon over pasta or rice and garnish with tomato.


Upside down fettuccine & sausage bake

8 ounces fettuccine noodles, freshly cooked
1/2 pound Italian sausage, casing removed
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 - 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Brown sausage in a medium skillet. Add onion during the last few minutes,. Drain off excess fat. Cook the fettuccine according to directions. Add entire can of tomatoes (including liquid) to the sausage mixture. Add the oregano and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese over tomato mixture.

Mix the eggs, 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, butter, parsley and garlic powder together in a separate bowl. Toss the noodles with the mixture. Spread noodle mixture in a 10-inch quiche or cake pan. Pour the sausage mixture over the top. Cover with heavy duty aluminum foil and freeze

To serve, thaw & bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with additional cheese, if desired. Cut into wedges, serve.


Salmon in a Caper Lemon Cream Sauce


1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice from 1 medium lemon (approximately 3 tablespoon lemon juice)
Pinch of sea salt (or kosher)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup half and half cream
1/4 cup 1% milk
2 tablespoons capers
4 boneless, skinless salmon filets
2 teaspoons Mrs. Dash Original Seasoning
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon rosemary leaves

  1. Add butter and olive oil to a small saucepan at medium-low heat. Once butter is melted and whisked add lemon juice. Whisk constantly to combine.
  2. Gradually whisk in cream and then milk.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of capers. Keep whisking. Sauce will reduce to 2/3.
  4. Add additional tablespoon of capers. Whisk constantly to make sure the sauce stays incorporated and does not separate.
  5. Wash salmon under cold water, pat dry with paper towel and season with Mrs Dash, lemon pepper, and rosemary on one side.
  6. Spray a flat frying pan with a lid with cooking spray.
  7. Sauté salmon, spice side down over medium-high heat. Flip over when salmon is nicely seared. Season top, turn and sauté other side. Once salmon is seared on the other side, turn to the lowest heat and cover for approximately 15 minutes.

Baked Pasta with Spinach, Ricotta, and Prosciutto

This is adapted from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. I love this. It's so yummy.


1 pound of tri color rotinni
6 ounces sliced prosciutto
2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess moisture
2 cups milk
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta a few minutes less than package instructions suggest. Cut prosciutto into thin strips.
  2. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, toss pasta with spinach, half of prosciutto, milk, ricotta, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Top with remaining prosciutto and Parmesan. Bake until golden, 30 to 40 minutes.

Prosciutto and Carrot Bundles

This is the easiest appetizer. I saw it on the Food Network when Giada made it on Everyday Italian. Its so easy and everyone loves it.


2 carrots, shredded, about 1/2 cup
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
4 slices prosciutto
4 whole fresh basil leaves


In a medium bowl, toss together the carrots, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Lay out the 4 slices of prosciutto. Top each with 1/4 of the carrot mixture. Place a basil leaf on top of each and roll the prosciutto up and around the basil and carrots. Secure the bundles with toothpicks and serve.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cheesy Beef Enchiladas

Note: This recipe makes 10 enchiladas, I normally prepare all 10 but only bake 5. I stick the other 5 in the freezer for another meal. I just make the sauce and bake them once they're thawed.

1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1 c. water
2 c. cooked rice
16 oz. refried beans
2 c. shredded cheese, divided (I use Mexican)
10 - 8 in. flour tortillas
16 oz. salsa
10 3/4 oz. can condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted

1. Brown meat, drain. Stir in taco seasoning and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.

2. Stir in rice. Cook and stir until liquid is gone.

3. Spread beans on tortillas, add meat mixture, and cheese. Place seam side down in a greased 13x9 dish.

4. Combine salsa and soup. Pour over enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

5. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.


Cabbage Patch

2 lbs. ground beef
1 c. uncooked Minute rice
26 oz. can tomato soup (or 3 small cans)
1 c. shredded cabbage
12 oz. milk (you're needing half as much milk as soup)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Brown meat, drain.

2. Add cabbage, soup, and milk.

3. Simmer covered for 30 minutes.

4. Add rice, remove from heat, and cover. Let sit for 10 minutes.

This is basically an unstuffed cabbage.


Salsa Chicken

5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
24 oz. salsa
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Campbell's Fiesta Nacho Cheese Soup
1 pkg. taco seasoning

shredded cheese
rice (Spanish, Mexican, Taco, etc.)
sour cream

Combine ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 hours (or until fully cooked). Shred chicken.

I make a wrap using the optional ingredients. Depending on the salsa, it could get pretty spicy.


Sticken Chicken

4 chicken breasts
1/2 c. flour
1 t. garlic salt
1 t. paprika
1/2 t. ginger
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. water
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. soy sauce

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Coat chicken with flour, seasoned with garlic salt, paprika, and ginger.

2. Arrange chicken in baking dish. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes.

3. Mix remaining ingredients (brown sugar, water, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce) in a small pan over low heat. Pour over chicken and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Baste half-way through. Sauce will be very sticky!!

I usually serve with noodles or rice.