Thursday, June 30, 2011

Orange Layered Fudge

I know my fudge is pink instead of orange, but that's because I didn't have the right food coloring.:)  Anyway, beside the color, this is absolutely delicious, definitely satisfying that always craving sweet tooth!  Enjoy!
-butter flavored cooking spray
-2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
-1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk, divided
-8 oz white almond bark, broken in small pieces
-1 tsp orange extract
-a few drops food coloring (orange to match the flavor, or any other color)
Line an 8 inch square pan with foil.  Coat with butter spray.
In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and 1 cup of the condensed milk.  Stir until smooth.  Pour into prepared dish.  Place in the fridge for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, place almond bark and remaining milk in a microwave safe bowl.  Melt and stir until smooth.  Add extract and food coloring.  Stir until smooth and uniform.  Pour over chocolate mixture.  Chill in the fridge for 1 hour or until firm.  Using foil, remove fudge from pan.  Cut into squares.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Simple Lemonade

I simply love this lemonade.  It's very easy and quick to make, and way better than that powdery stuff.:).  Enjoy!
-6 large lemons, cut in half
-1 cup sugar
Squeeze lemons straight into the pitcher.  Make sure seeds are removed.  Add sugar and stir well.  Fill up the pitcher with cold water.  Stir well and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cajun Shrimp and Rice

Simple, delicious and low in calories too!  I love this dish.  Enjoy!
-1 Tbs margarine
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-2 tsp Cajun seasoning
-1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
-salt and pepper
-4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
-1 bunch green onions, chopped
-3 cups cooked white rice
-1 Tbs dried parsley leaves
Heat margarine, oil and garlic in large non stick skillet.  Cook for about 1 minute.  Add Cajun seasoning and shrimp.  Cook for about 1 minute, or until shrimp starts curling.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add tomatoes and green onions.  Cook for another minute.  Add the rice and 1/4 cup water.  Stir and cook for about 3 minutes or until shrimp is pink.  Stir in parsley.  Enjoy!
Adapted from a Food Network recipe.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Toast with Anchovy Butter and Radishes

Mmm, this is so good!  This is the perfect appetizer or light lunch. So flavorful, so amazing!  Delicious!  Enjoy!
-1/2 cup margarine
-1 (2oz) can flat anchovy fillets in oil, drained
-1 garlic clove, minced
-1 tsp lemon juice
-radishes, cleaned and sliced
Chop the anchovies in the blender (it's ok if they're a bit chunky).  Combine anchovies with margarine, garlic and lemon juice.  Mix well.  Spread a little on toast and top with sliced radishes.  Enjoy!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Non-Coffee Tiramisu

I have heard people rave about tiramisu for years, yet I have never got to try it.  I looked up recipes and I found quite a few.  The problem for me was with the ingredients.  You see, I don't drink coffee or alcohol, and tiramisu's success is based on that.  So I scrammed my brains and substituted hot chocolate for coffee and rum essence for the alcohol.  It worked like a charm!  It was INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS!  Mmmm!   Also, from the recipes I gathered, it seems that it can be done with either lady fingers or sponge cake.  I went for the sponge cake.  It came out like the prajituri (little cakes) I remember from growing up in Romania.  Soooooo good!  Enjoy!
For sponge cake:
-1/4 cup margarine
-1/4 cup milk
-2 eggs
-3/4 cup sugar
-3/4 cup flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp vanilla extract
-3/4 cup hot chocolate (ready as if you were to drink it)
For topping:
-1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
-1 (8 oz) package mascarpone cheese***(see note for substitute)
-1/3 cup powdered sugar
-1 1/4 Tbs rum extract
-2 cups heavy cream
-grated milk chocolate (as much as you want :)
Preheat oven to 375 F.  Spray 9x13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
In a small sauce pan, combine milk and margarine.  Heat until margarine is completely melted.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs at high speed until light.  Add sugar and beat for 2 more minutes.  Add flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla and hot milk mixture.  Beat at low speed until smooth.  Poor into prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 14-16 minutes, or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center.
Pour hot chocolate over warm cake.  Let it cool for at least 30 minutes.
While cake cools, combine cream cheese and mascarpone cheese.  Beat until smooth and creamy.  Mix in powdered sugar and rum extract.
In a different large bowl, beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  Fold this into the cream cheese mixture until well combined.  Spread evenly on cooled cake.  Sprinkle grated chocolate all over.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (recommended to refrigerate over night).  Enjoy!
*** NOTE:
If you can't find mascarpone cheese, simply use this great and simple substitute: mix together 1 (8 oz) package of softened cream cheese with 1/4 cup heavy cream and 2 1/2 Tbs sour cream (it has to be regular not low fat).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lentil Quinoa Salad

My mother in law bought me some quinoa a while back.  I didn't really know what to do with it!:)  So I looked up recipes for it.  I came across quite a few, and this is the first one I tried.  It came out real nice, the flavors blending really well together.  I really liked it.:)  Enjoy!
-1/2 cup dry quinoa
-1/2 cup dry lentils
-3 green onions, chopped
-1 tsp Dijon mustard
-2 Tbs red wine vinegar
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-1/4 tsp garlic powder
-zest from 1 lime
-salt and pepper, to taste
Cook quinoa according to package directions. 
Cook lentils according o package directions.  Drain and set aside.
Mix together mustard, vinegar, oil, garlic powder and zest.  Mix until well blended.
In a large bowl, mix cooked, quinoa, cooked lentils and green onions.  Pour dressing over.  Toss to coat and serve.  Enjoy!
Adapted from a Melissa d'Arabian recipe.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Curry-Peach Glazed Chicken

I have heard so much about the wonderful flavor of curry, so I decided to give it a try.  The first recipe I tried came out real bland, and I was quite disappointed.  I was determined though to give curry another try.  So I looked for recipes all over.  I combined a few ideas and came up with this.  Very simple, yet absolutely delicious!  I LOVED this so much!  I'm excited to make it again soon!:)  I served ours with mashed potatoes and steamed veggies.  Enjoy!
-4 chicken thighs, bone and skin on
-salt and pepper, to taste
-1/2 cup peach preserves (I used my mom's homemade one)
-1/4 cup margarine
-1 tsp curry powder
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.  Fry chicken for 5-6 minutes on each sides, or until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.
Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan combine preserves, margarine and curry.  Cook over medium heat, until well blended and bubbly.  Remove from heat.
Place chicken in baking dish.  Top chicken with glaze (be generous).  Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake

I love this time of year when strawberries are in all their glory: sweet, juicy and simply delicious.  My kids asked for a strawberry shortcake, you know, the store bought version.  But I wanted to try the real deal.  So, this is it!  Everything (including the whipped topping) is made from scratch.  And what a difference does it make!  It's like I went to Heaven, that's how good this is!  It's also VERY easy to make.  Enjoy!
For shortcake:
-2 cups flour
-1/2 cup sugar
-3 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 cup margarine
-3/4 cup milk
-2 eggs
For fruit topping:
-4 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
-1/2 cup sugar
For whipped topping:
-1 cup heavy cream
-2 Tbs powdered sugar
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 F.  Grease and flour 9 inch round cake pan.
Start making the shortcake by combining the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add margarine and mix well.  Add milk and eggs, one at a time.  Mix until well blended.  Pour mixture into prepared pan.  Bake in prepared oven for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Meanwhile, mix the strawberries with the sugar.  Mix well, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Once the cake is done, cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Transfer it to a cooling rack and let it rest for a while.
Right before serving, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla.  Beat until stiff peaks form.
Serve by placing a slice of the cake on the plate.  Top with strawberries and whipped topping.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ravioli with Salsa-Black Bean Sauce

This is a simple, easy and filling dish.  It's also a bit on the spicy side, which I absolutely love.:)  Enjoy!
-1 (9 oz) package cheese ravioli
-1 (15 oz) jar mild salsa
-1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained
-2 tsp chili powder
-1/2 tsp cumin
Cook ravioli according to package directions.  Drain.
Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan, mix the rest of the ingredients.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Gently add in cooked and drained ravioli.  Spoon onto plate and enjoy!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Down-Home Creamed Eggs on Toasted English Muffins

Mmmm!  So creamy and delicious!  Enjoy!
-6 eggs
-3 cups milk
-3 Tbs flour
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-4 English muffins, split and toasted
-dash of paprika
Place eggs in large sauce pan.  Cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat and cook for 10-15 more minutes.  Remove from heat and pace in cold water.  When completely cool, peel eggs and slice thinly.
In medium sauce pan, pour milk and flour.  Mix well.  Add salt and pepper.  Cook on low, stirring continually until bubbly and thickened.  Remove from heat.
Place muffin halves, cut side up, on plates.  Top with slices of egg.  Spoon sauce over eggs.  Sprinkle with dash of paprika.  Enjoy!
Adapted from the Pillsbury Complete Cookbook.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Strawberry Muffins

My sweet little girls love strawberries and Strawberry Shortcake (the character, that is).  They found this recipe on the Strawberry Shortcake website and asked me to help them make it.  Of course I agreed. :)  I'm so glad I did.  First, it's an excellent time spent with my children; second, the muffins are delicious!  Enjoy!
-2 cups self rising flour
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 cup strawberries, sliced
-1 egg, beaten
-1 cup milk
-1/4 cup margarine or butter, melted
Preheat oven to 450 F.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar and strawberries.  In a separate bowl, mix together the rest of ingredients.  Stir the egg mixture into flour mixture.  Mix until well blended.  Scoop batter into muffin pans (you might want to line them with muffin papers or grease them before).  Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes.  Enjoy!
Recipe courtesy of the North Carolina Strawberry Association.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chicken in Garlic Sauce

This is so simple and sooooo yummy!  I absolutely loved it!  It's a bit spicy too, and that definitely scored extra points for me.:)  If you love garlic, this is definitely a dish for you.  Enjoy!
-2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, cut into chunks
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-1/4 cup soy sauce
-1/4 cup water
-1/4 cup honey
-2 Tbs vegetable oil, divided
-1 Tbs cornstarch
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-1 head broccoli, cut into florets
-toasted sesame seeds, for topping
In a large bowl, combine garlic, soy sauce, water, honey, 1 Tbs oil, cornstarch, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Mix well.  Add chicken chunks.  Mix well, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Heat remaining Tbs of oil into large skillet.  Stir chicken in marinade one last time.  Scoop chicken out with slotted spoon and place in hot oil.  Do NOT discard marinade.  Cook chicken for about 3 minutes.  Add broccoli and cook for a couple more minutes.  Add marinade and cook for about 4 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thickened.  Serve over rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake

This is a nice cheesecake, very aromatic and pleasant.  I had a hard time with the crust called for in the original recipe.  It called for 6 Tbs butter, which turned out to be way more than needed.  My crust became like a pool of butter!  So, I had to drain it...Other than that though, it came out great.  I served ours with some caramel sauce on top.  Enjoy!
For crust:
-2 cups gingerbread cookie crumbs (my blender worked great for this)
-1/3 cup sugar
-1/4 tsp ground ginger
-6 or less Tbs butter, melted
For filling:
-3 (8 oz each) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
-3 eggs, slightly beaten
-1 cup brown sugar
-1 cup pumpkin puree
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-2 tsp pumpkin spice
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Combine cookie crumbs, sugar and ginger.  Slowly, add the melted butter while mixing.  Add only enough butter to reach a crust's normal consistency.  Press crust onto the bottom and up 1 inch along the sides of a 9 inch spring form pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes.  Set aside.
Meanwhile, cream the cream cheese.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Mix in brown sugar, pumpkin puree, vanilla and spice.  Pour mixture on top of baked crust.  Bake for 60-70 minutes.  Let it cool completely on the counter.  Then place it in the fridge and let it chill for at least 6 hours, or overnight.  Cut into slices, drizzle with caramel sauce and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Grilled Keilbasa with Sauerkraut and Onions

This was such a nice dinner.  I love how the sweetness of the sauce went perfect with the tanginess of the sauerkraut.  Great dinner.  Enjoy!
For main dish:
-1 1/2 lbs smoked Polska kielbasa
-2 Tbs butter
-3 Tbs sugar
-1 medium onion, sliced
-2 (14.5 oz each) cans sauerkraut, drained (not rinsed)
For the sauce:
-1/4 cup yellow mustard
-1/4 cup honey
-1/4 cup Dijon mustard
-1/2 tsp cayenne
-1 Tbs prepared horseradish
-pinch of salt
-pinch black pepper
Preheat grill.  Preheat oven to 400 F.
Cut kielbasa into 3 inch lengths and butterfly lengthwise.  Place on hot grill and cook until each side is nicely charred.  Remove from grill into baking dish.  Place in preheated oven and bake for about 6 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet add butter and sugar.  Cook until butter is melted and sugar is golden brown.  Add onions and cook until caramelized, about 5 minutes.  Stir in sauerkraut and cook for about 10 minutes.
Remove kielbasa from oven and cut into 1 inch chunks.  Stir into sauerkraut mixture.  Cook for about 1 minute. 
Mix together all sauce ingredients.  Blend well. 
Serve the sauerkraut mixture with a little of the dipping sauce.  Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from an Aaron McCargo Jr. recipe.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pepperoni Penne Bake

Cheesy and yummy, this dish is a dream.  It's super easy to put together and tastes absolutely amazing.  Enjoy!
-1 lb penne pasta
-2 eggs
-1 cup whole milk
-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
-1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese
-4 oz sliced pepperoni, cut into slivers
-1 cup frozen peas
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 375 F.  Grease 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
Cook pasta according to package directions (don't add the salt).
Mix the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl.  Once pasta is cooked, drain and add to the rest of ingredients.  Mix well.  Pour into prepared dish.  Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until edges are golden and casserole is bubbling.  Enjoy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Caramel Brownies

These brownies are heavenly!  They are gooey and yummy.   The chocolate and caramel blend together perfectly.  Yum!  Enjoy!
For batter:
-1 box German chocolate cake mix
-1/3 cup evaporated milk
-1/2 cup butter, melted
For sauce:
-14 oz caramels
-1/3 cup evaporated milk
-1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix batter ingredients.  Press half of the mixture on bottom of 9x13 baking pan.  Bake this for 6 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix sauce ingredients in medium sauce pan and melt over medium heat.
When crust is done baking, remove it from the oven.  Sprinkle the chocolate chips all over it.  Drizzle the caramel sauce on top of that.  Top everything with remaining batter (drop large spoonfuls evenly all over).  Bake for 16-18 minutes.
Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes or until set enough to cut into pieces.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lemon Chicken with Green Olives

Simple and delicious!  I love the saltiness of the olives combined with the sweetness of the onion.  Such a great dish!  I served mine with white rice.  Enjoy!
-2 Tbs flour
-1/2 tsp ground cumin
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-2 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless, cut into smaller pieces
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1 small red onion, thinly sliced
-1 Tbs lemon juice
-1/2 cup apple juice
-1 cup pitted green olives (with pimientos is fine), cut in half
-1 Tbs dried parsley leaves
In a shallow bowl mix flour, cumin, salt and pepper.  Dredge the chicken through it, shaking off the excess. 
Heat the oil in large skillet.  Add breaded chicken and cook until golden brown on both sides (doesn't have to be cooked through at this point).  Remove chicken from heat.
Return skillet to stove and add onion.  Cook for a couple of minutes, scraping off the chicken bits left (this is super flavor :)  Add lemon juice, apple juice, olives and parsley.  Cook for about a minute.  Add chicken with any juices.  Cover and cook for about 6 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  Serve over hot rice.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Someone once told me that the secret to nice puffy, non-flat cookies is to use half butter/margarine and half shortening.  With great anticipation, I followed that advice when I made this cookies.  Sadly, the cookies still came out flat.  Delicious, nonetheless, but flat.  Do you want to share the secret to non-flat cookies with me?  How do you do it?  Thank you in advance.:)
These cookies are still very yummy and chocolaty.  They're perfect for a get together or as a nice treat.  Enjoy!
-3/4 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/2 cup margarine/butter
-1/2 cup shortening
-1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 egg
-1 3/4 cup flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper
 In a large bowl, beat together brown sugar, sugar, margarine and shortening.  When light and fluffy, add vanilla and egg.  Blend well.  Stir in flour, baking soda and salt.  Mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop dough by spoonfuls into prepared sheets.  Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Enjoy!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Orange-Sesame Pork Chops with Teriyaki Noodles

The flavors of this dish are absolutely amazing!  The cooking time is quick (about 20 minutes), but you will be spread in between 3 different skillets/pots.  That little craziness is so worth it though!  You'll enjoy every bite of this.  Enjoy! 
For pasta:
-1 lb spaghetti
-3 Tbs vegetable oil
-6 green onion, thinly sliced
-1 cup frozen peas
-1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
-1 Tbs toasted sesame seeds
For pork:
-4 boneless, butterflied pork chops
-2 Tbs vegetable oil
-salt and pepper
-3 Tbs orange marmalade
-2 Tbs teriyaki sauce
-1/4 cup water
-1 tsp sesame oil
Place spaghetti in boiling water.  Cook for about 10 minutes, or until pasta is cooked to desired consistency.
Meanwhile, heat the 2 Tbs oil in large skillet.  Season pork chops with salt and pepper.  Cook in hot oil until done.  Remove from skillet onto plate lined with paper towels.  Cover with foil to keep warm.
To that same skillet add the marmalade, 2 Tbs teriyaki and the water.  Bring the sauce to a boil and cook for another minute.  Stir in sesame oil and remove from heat.
In the last 2 minutes of the cooking time for the pasta, heat the 3 Tbs oil in another skillet.  Add green onions and peas.  Cook for a couple of minutes.  Drain pasta and add pea mixture and 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce.  Toss well and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Place a nice portion of noodles onto plate.  Add a chop next to it.  Top chop with orange glaze.  Enjoy!
Adapted from a Food Network recipe.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Shrimp in Love Pasta

So simple and so delicious.  I love the sweetness and juiciness of the tomatoes in this dish.  Everything blends in just perfect.  Enjoy!
-8 oz fettuccine, uncooked
-1 lb small shrimp, peeled and deveined
-2 medium tomatoes, chopped
-1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
-2 cups baby spinach
Cook pasta according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add tomatoes, cheese and shrimp.  Cook and stir for about 4 minutes, or until shrimp is done. 
Drain the pasta.  Stir in spinach.  Stir in shrimp sauce.  Mix well and enjoy!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Simple Beans and Sausage (Fasole cu Carnati)

Quick, simple, delicious.  This is another childhood favorite.  Enjoy!
-cooking spray
-1/2 lb polska kielbasa sausage, cut lenghtwise then sliced
-1 small onion, finely chopped
-4 (15 oz each) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
-2 cups water
-2 Tbs tomato paste
-salt and pepper, to taste
Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray.  Add sausage and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add onion and cook until golden.  Add beans and water.  Bring to a boil.  Add tomato paste.  Stir until dissolved.  Add salt and pepper.  Simmer for about 10 minutes.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Root Beer Float

I know, you're probably wondering why am I posting something that everyone, even a child knows how to put together.  Well, I remember that when I first came to the U.S. I had no idea what a root beer float was.  So, I'm posting this for all of you out there that don't know what a root beer float is.  Is extremely easy to make and VERY yummy.  And the name comes from the fact that the ice cream floats in the root beer. :)  Enjoy!
In a tall glass, place a couple of vanilla ice cream scoops.  Top with root beer.  Enjoy!


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