Friday, September 30, 2011

Romanian Mushroom Gravy (Ciulama cu Ciuperci)

Yum, yum, yum!  What a delight this dish is!  It's definitely not your regular gravy.  It is packed with such nice flavors from the mushrooms, the garlic and the parsley.  It's happiness in your mouth!:)  Traditionally, this is served with mamaliga (polenta).  You kind of mix everything together for a perfect bite.  I also like to serve mine with a nice piece of grilled or fried pork.  It makes a wonderful quick dinner.  Enjoy! 
-1 Tbs vegetable oil
-1 medium onion, finely chopped
-1 lb mushrooms, thinly sliced
-1 1/2 cups water
-3/4 cup sour cream
-2 Tbs flour
-4 garlic cloves, crushed
-1 tsp dried parsley leaves
-salt and pepper, to taste
Heat oil in large skillet.  Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and water.  Lower the heat and cook for about 7 minutes. 
Meanwhile, mix the sour cream and flour and set aside.
Once a little bit of the water in the skillet has evaporated, add the sour cream/ flour mixture.  Mix well.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the crushed garlic, parsley, salt and pepper.  Mix well and cook for 2-3 more minutes.  Serve hot with mamaliga (polenta).  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ranch-Style Fish Tostadas

This was a quick and easy recipe to put together.  I loved the filling and toppings, except for the corn tortillas.  I don't know if it was the brand I got or what, but they tasted horrible.  They tasted like cardboard sprinkled with corn.  Yuck!  So, I mixed my filling and toppings with some roasted garlic foccacia croutons that I got from Costco.  This changed everything so much!  It was delicious!  I guess you could use some flour tortillas too or some taco shells.  Either way, just don't use the corn tortillas.  Other than that, enjoy a great fish tostada!
-1 Tbs oil
-about 5 tilapia fillets
-salt and pepper, to taste
-3/4 cup Cucumber Ranch, divided
-2 1/2 cups bagged coleslaw mix
-1 green pepper, chopped
-1 small red onion, chopped
-8 small flour tortillas, taco shells, or some croutons
Heat oil in large skillet.  Seasons the fish well with salt and pepper.  Place into hot oil and cook until done (about 5 minutes on each side).  Remove plate onto large bowl and flake with a fork.  Mix the fish with half the ranch mixture. 
In a separate bowl, mix the coleslaw blend with the other half of the ranch.  To assemble, spoon some coleslaw mix onto the tortilla.  Top with fish mixture, onion and pepper.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mint Brownie Muffins

This is an amazingly moist, fudgy dessert, a perfect mixture between a brownie, muffin and cupcake.  It's amazing!  Enjoy!
-2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
-1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs butter
-4 large eggs, slightly beaten
-3/4 cup sugar
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 cup flour
-1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
-1 cup green mint chips
Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.  Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate chips until nice and smooth.  Remove from heat.  Stir in eggs, sugar and vanilla.  Mix well.  Add the flour and stir until well mixed.  Add the nuts too.
Fill up prepared muffin cups halfway.  Drop about 1 Tbs mint chips in each pan.  Using the rest of the batter, cover the muffin cups all the way.
Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes.  Do not over bake!  The middle is supposed to be very moist, while the outside has a tad bit of a crust.  Yum!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Grilled Lemon Chicken

Besides being extremely simple, this dish has so much flavor in it!  The marinade allows the chicken to absorb so much flavor and to nicely moisten it.  The grilled chicken is very juicy and tender.  It melts in your mouth!  Enjoy!
-3/4 cup lemon juice
-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-2 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-2 large chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, cut in half
In a large non reactive bowl, mix lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Add the chicken breasts, cover and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Heat the grill.  Place marinated chicken on hot grill and cook until desired doneness.  Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a Barefoot Contessa recipe.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cuban-Style Braised Fish

This is by far one of my favorite dishes ever!  So simple and packed to the brim with flavor!  LOVE this one!  I found this recipe many years ago on and fell in love with it as soon as I tried it. We like it with a side of veggies, such as broccoli and cauliflower.  Also, the original recipe calls for halibut, sea bass or scrod.  Those types of fish are quite hard to find in my neck of the woods, so I discovered that simple tilapia works just fine.:)  Enjoy!
-1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
-1 medium onion, chopped
-2 garlic cloves, chopped
-1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
-1/2 cup chicken broth
-15 green olives with pimientos, thinly sliced
-about 6 filets of fish (tilapia, halibut, sea bass, scrod)
-1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
Heat oil in a large skillet.  Add onion and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 1 more minute.  Stir in tomatoes with the juice, broth and olives.  Heat to simmer.  Place fish in skillet on top of tomato mixture.  Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes.
To serve, remove the fish onto plates.  Spoon tomato mixture on fish and sprinkle toasted almonds on top.  Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a recipe.

Friday, September 23, 2011

White Chocolate Mousse

This truly is a treat!  So delicious!  It's also VERY easy to make.  You can use any types of berry you want.  I just used raspberries and it went perfect!  Enjoy!
-1 1/2 cups heavy cream
-1/2 cup milk
-2 (1 oz each) packages instant white chocolate pudding
-fresh berries
In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream and milk until soft peaks form.  Add the dry pudding and beat until stiff peaks form.
Spoon the mousse into dessert dishes halfway.  Place a layer of berries on the mousse.  Fill dessert dishes with remaining mousse.  Add additional berries for garnish, if desired.  Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.  Enjoy!
Recipe slightly adapted from here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pickles and Chicken Dish (Mancare de Castraveti Acri cu Pui)

For most people pickles are simply those cute spears that accompany a sandwich and you may or may not eat them.   For me, pickles can be the center of a dish.:)  I grew up with this dish and is a childhood favorite.  If you can, use pickles in salt brine instead of vinegar.  They are kind of hard to find, though.  If you can't find them, the ones pickles in vinegar will do just fine.  Don't worry about the brine overpowering the dish.  Before you cook them, you will rinse the pickles thoroughly with cold water.  This will remove a lot of the strong flavor.  Also, the cooking process along with the other flavors from the dish will make it taste absolutely delicious!  Enjoy!
-1 Tbs vegetable oil
-1 medium onion, finely chopped
-2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
-1 tsp paprika
-2 cups water
-15-20 baby pickles
-1 Tbs cornstarch
-1 Tbs vegetable juice
-1 Tbs tomato paste
-1 tsp ground pepper
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp dried parsley
-1 tsp dried dill
Cut pickles into chunks and place in large colander.  Rinse thoroughly with cold water for a few minutes.  Let it drain.
In a large saucepan, heat the oil.  Add the onion and saute for a couple of minutes.  Add the chicken and sprinkle with paprika.  Stir and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the water and pickles.  Cook for a couple of minutes.  Put about 1/4 cup of the liquid into a small container.  Add the cornstarch and mix well.   Pour mixture into saucepan.  Add the juice, paste, seasoning and dried herbs.  Bring mixture to boil.  Lower the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve with hot rolls or bread, to dip in the yummy sauce.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Baked Beef Ziti

This is one of my go to meals.  It is super easy to put together and oh, so delicious!  Enjoy!
-12 oz uncooked ziti
-1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1 lb extra lean ground beef
-1 tsp dried oregano
-1/2 tsp salt
-1.2 tsp black pepper
-1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
-1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Cook pasta (ziti) according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
While pasta is cooking, heat the oil in medium saucepan.  Add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add beef and cook until browned (break it up while it cooks).  Add oregano, salt and pepper and stir well to coat all meat.  Cook until fragrant, for about 2 minutes.  Add crushed tomatoes and stir.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
Spread about 1/4 cup of beef mixture on bottom of 9x13 baking dish.  Add past and spread evenly.  Top with sauce mixture.  Sprinkle cheese evenly.  Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jaclyn's Caramel Sauce

My friend Jaclyn made this for a neighborhood ice cream contest.  Her sauce was soooo good that you could eat it by itself!  Seriously!  It does go great though on some nice vanilla ice cream.:)  Enjoy!
-4 Tbs butter
-1 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup half and half
-a pinch of salt
-1 Tbs vanilla extract
Mix butter, brown sugar, half and half, and salt over medium heat.  Cook while gently whisking for 5-7 minutes.  Add vanilla and cook for one more minute.  Pour into container and refrigerate.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pan Seared Chicken Thighs

There's nothing fancy about this dish.  It's very simple and quick.  I guess the simplicity of it makes it such a great dish.  The seasoning is perfect and the flavor amazing!  Enjoy!
-4 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Heat oil in large oven proof skillet.  While oil is heating, score thighs and season well with salt and pepper.  Place in hot oil skin side down.  Place garlic cloves in pan.  Cook for about 10 minutes, or until skin is nice, crisp and golden.  Flip thighs over and cook for about 5 minutes.  Place in preheated oven and cook for 15 more minutes or until juices run clear.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Jaclyn's Artichoke Dip

This truly is the BEST dip ever!  My friend Jaclyn made this for a girls' night a few months ago.  She's been very nice to share the recipe with me (I begged for a while :).  The wait was so worth it!  Now, I'm not big into football games, but I like pretending to watch them just so that I can make this type of food and enjoy it.:)  I made this dip for a game last weekend and oh, my belly was in heaven!  I served it with slices of my sour dough bread.  Enjoy!
-4 Tbs butter
-1 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
-1 bunch green onions, cleaned and sliced
-1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
-16 oz sour cream
-12 oz shredded Cheddar cheese
-1 (14.75 oz) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Melt butter in a large skillet.  Saute garlic and onion in butter for 8-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix cream cheese, sour cream and cheese.  Stir in artichoke and garlic mixture.  Mix very well.  Pour into 8x8 pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sour Dough Bread

What a delight this bread is!  It is super easy too and there's no need for kneading!  Keep in mind though that it takes 2 days to make it.  The yeast, flour and water mixture need 48 hours to ferment in order to give the bread that nice sour flavor.  It is well worth the effort.  Enjoy!
-1 (.25 oz) package or 2 1/4 Tbs active dry yeast
-3 1/2 cups warm water, divided
-7 cups flour, divided
-1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
-2 Tbs margarine, melted
-2 Tbs sugar
-2 tsp salt
-cooking spray
In a large, non-metal bowl (I used plastic), dissolve yeast in 2 cups warm water.  Let it sit for 5 minutes.  With a wooden spoon, stir in 2 cups of flour.  Stir until smooth.  Cover loosely with a clean towel.  Let it sit in a warm place (the kitchen counter is just fine) for 48 hours.  Stir several times daily.  The mixture will become bubbly and rise a little, and it will have a yeasty sour aroma.
After 2 days, stir in milk powder, melted margarine, sugar, salt and remaining 1 1/2 cups warm water.   Stir well with wooden spoon.  Add the remaining 5 cups of flour, one at a time.  Stir well with wooden spoon or clean hands.  This will form a soft sticky dough.  Cover and let it sit until doubled (about 1 1/2 hours).
On a lightly floured surface, punch the dough down.  Do NOT knead!  Divide dough in half.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Prepare two round pans (I used my glass cake pans) by coating them generously all over with cooking spray and sprinkling a little cornmeal all over.  Place each dough into prepared pans.  Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.  With a sharp knife, make three diagonal slashes across top of loaves.
Place pans into preheated ovens and bake for 10 minutes.  Brush loaves with cold water and bake for 35-40 more minutes, or until golden brown.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bacon and Egg Quesadilla

This is such a nice dish.  It makes for a quick and yummy dinner.  I love the combination of flavors and the easiness of everything coming together.  Enjoy!
-1/2 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese
-2 burrito size tortillas
-6 slices bacon, cooked until crisp
-4 green onions, cleaned and sliced
-4 eggs, made into a nice omelet
-sour cream
As soon as you are done making your omelet, coat a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray.
Sprinkle shredded cheese on one of the tortillas.  Top with bacon slices and green onion.  Spoon omelet on top.  Place the other tortilla on top.  Carefully place quesadilla in hot skillet.  Cook for a couple of minutes.  With the help of two spatulas, carefully flip quesadilla over.  Cook for a couple more minutes.  Remove from skillet and cut into wedges with a pizza cutter.  Spoon a dollop of sour cream on top.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chicken Picadillo

This is a nice and very filling dish.  It's a nice combination of sweet (from the raisins), spicy (from the cumin) and salty (from the olives).  Yum!  Enjoy!
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, divided
-2 large chicken breasts, cut into small strips
-1 medium onion, chopped
-1 clove garlic, crushed with the press
-1/2 tsp ground cumin
-1 cup mild salsa
-1/4 cup raisins
-1/2 cup green olives stuffed with pimientos, quartered
-4 burrito size flour tortillas
Heat 1 Tbs oil in large skillet.  Add chicken strips and cook until golden brown on both sides.  Remove chicken onto plate.
Heat the other Tbs oil and add the onion.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned.  Stir in garlic and cumin.  Cook for 1 minute.  Add salsa, raisins, olives and cooked chicken.  Heat to boiling.  Serve on warm tortillas.  Enjoy!
Recipe courtesy of Good Housekeeping

Monday, September 12, 2011

Strawberry Jell-O Salad

The picture really doesn't do justice to this recipe.  It is soooo good!  I mean, the mix of the strawberries with the jell-o, the cool whip and cream cheese and the bottom of this super yummy salad are one perfect mix.  The pretzels give it a nice nutty flavor.  It's a delight!  Enjoy!
-1 cup small thin pretzels, coarsely crushed
-3/4 cup margarine, melted
-3 Tbs sugar
-2 cups boiling water
-1 (6 oz) box strawberry Jell-O
-1 (16 oz) bag frozen whole strawberries
-1 (8oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
-1 (8 oz) tub Cool Whip, thawed
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Mix crushed pretzels, sugar and melted margarine.  Pour into 9x13 baking pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 7 minutes.  Cool for about 20 minutes.
While that's cooling, mix boiling water with Jell-O.  Stir int the frozen strawberries.  Mix well and place in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.  It need to have the consistency of preserves when you pull it out.
Mix well cream cheese and cool whip.  Pour over cooled pretzel crust.  Let it sit for 5 minutes.  Pour strawberry mixture on top.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.  Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a Betsy Brannon Green recipe.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Soy and Honey Glazed Salmon

This dish is such a delight!  It's light and packed with so much flavor.  Enjoy!
-1 12 oz fillet of salmon, cut into smaller sizes
-1/2 cup soy sauce
-1/4 cup honey
-2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
-about 3 green onions, sliced for garnish
In a large non stick skillet combine soy sauce and honey.  Mix well and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and add the garlic slices.  Place salmon pieces in the skillet.  Cover and cook for about 5 minutes.  Uncover and flip the salmon on the other side.  Cook for a couple more minutes.  Serve with your choice of side dish and top each salmon piece with green onions.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sweet Cornbread

I love cornbread.  It's a favorite comfort food for me.  This is nice and sweet, and goes well with so many things, or you can enjoy it simply by itself.  Enjoy!
-1/2 cup cornmeal
-1 1/2 cups flour
-2/3 cup sugar
-1 Tbs baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/3 cup oil
-3 Tbs butter, melted
-2 eggs
-1 1/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl mix cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Make a well in the middle and add oil, melted butter, eggs and milk.  Mix well.  The batter will be runny.  Pour into ungreased 8x8 inch baking pan.  Bake into preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Slow Cooker Low Country Shrimp and Grits

I just LOVE shrimp and grits.  It's such a comfort food to me.  This is nice because it's done in the slow cooker, so there's a little less maintenance.  Enjoy!
-6 cups chicken broth
-3/4 tsp salt
-1 1/2 cups quick-cooking grits, uncooked
-2 Tbs butter
-1 green pepper, chopped
-1 red pepper, chopped
-6 green onions, chopped
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1 1/2 lbs raw large shrimp, peeled, deveined, with tails removed
-1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar
-1 1/2 cups shredded Provolone and Mozzarella
-2 (10 oz each) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Mix broth, salt and grits into slow cooker.  Cook on low for 4 hours, stirring half way through.
When the 4 hours is about up, melt the butter into large skillet.  Saute green and red pepper, green onion and garlic for about 3-4 minutes.  Pour mixture into slow cooker.  Add tomatoes, shrimp, cheeses and cayenne.  Mix well.  Cover and cook on low for 2 more hours.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Panko Crusted Pork Chops with Creamy Dressing

Quick and yummy!  Enjoy!
For pork:
-4 thin pork chops, boneless
-1/4 cup flour
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp onion powder
-1/4 tsp cumin
-1/2 tsp chili powder
-1/4 tsp black pepper
-1 Tbs soy sauce
-1 large egg
-1/2 cup Panko crumbs
-1 Tbs vegetable oil
For dressing:
-3 green onions, cleaned and thinly sliced
-2 Tbs sour cream
-1 Tbs milk
-1 Tbs mayonnaise
-1 tsp cider vinegar
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
Preheat oven to 450 F.
In a shallow bowl, combine flour, salt, onion powder, cumin, chili powder and black pepper.  In another shallow bowl, beat the egg and mix it with the soy sauce.  Place the Panko crumbs into a third shallow bowl.  Heat the oil in a large oven proof skillet. 
Dredge pork into flour mixture, then into egg mixture and lastly through the Panko crumbs.  Place into hot oil and cook for about 1 minute per side, or until nicely browned.  Remove from stove and place in preheated oven.  Bake for about 6 minutes, or until chops are cooked through.
While the chops are baking, mix all the dressing ingredients.  Pour a little dressing on top of each pork chop.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Southern Style Fried Chicken

After I watched the movie "The Help", my mind kept on going back to that deliciously looking fried chicken.  I mean, I LOVE fried chicken to begin with, but now I was craving it so bad!  So I wanted to find a southern style recipe for it, to make it juicy and sweet on the inside, and crunchy on the outside.  When I found this recipe I knew it was exactly what I was looking for.  And it delivered!  It is SO good!!!  It really is the perfect recipe for fried chicken.  It went perfect with 4 cheese pierogi and sweet corn.  YUM!  Enjoy!
-4 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
-5 chicken drumsticks, skin on
-4 cups milk
-about 3 cups solid vegetable shortening, for frying
-2 Tbs plus 2 tsp salt
-1 1/2 cups flour
-2 tsp cayenne
-2 eggs, beaten
Into a large non stick sauce pan, place chicken pieces.  Pour milk on top.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Place sauce pan with milk and chicken on stove top.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
Drain into large colander.  Let the chicken sit there for about 10-15 minutes, or until cooled a little, but still warm.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs into shallow bowl.  In a large plastic bag, mix the salt, flour and cayenne.  Take each piece of chicken, one a a time and place it in the plastic bag.  Shake to coat.  Place chicken into egg, then back into the flour mixture.  Repeat with all the chicken pieces.
Melt the shortening into large frying pan.  Once is hot to the smoking point, drop the coated chicken in.  Fry for about 1 minute on each side (remember, chicken is already cooked).  When nice and brown, remove and drain on paper towels.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Buttermilk Lemon Shortbread Bars

These bars are quite a treat!  The crust is a shortbread, which means a lot of yumminess.:)  They are super easy and quick to make, and a delight to eat!  Enjoy!
For crust:-1 1/2 cups flour
-1/3 cup sugar
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 cup (8 Tbs) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
For filling:
-4 large eggs
-1 1/3 cups sugar
-1/2 cup buttermilk
-1/2 cup lemon juice
-1 tsp vanilla extract

Powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Combine all crust ingredients except the butter.  When all is well mixed, add the butter, a little piece at a time.  Mix until it looks like coarse crumbs.  Pour the mixture on to the bottom of 13x9 baking pan.  Form and even layer and press it down with your fingers.  Bake in preheated oven for 16-17 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges.
While crust is baking, mix together all filling ingredients.  Once crust is done, remove it from the oven.  Pour filling on hot crust.  Place it back into the oven for about 20 more minutes, or until filling is completely set (it shouldn't jiggle when you shake the pan).
Cool the bars completely in the pan.  Dust with powdered sugar, cut into bars and serve.  Enjoy!


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