Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ioana's Skillet Potatoes

I had some potatoes that I needed to use and I immediately thought of getting them in the skillet.  They came out really good, full of flavor, soft in the middle and nice and crunchy on the outside.  This one is a keeper for sure!  Enjoy!
-4 Tbs unsalted butter
-2 lbs red potatoes, peeled and cubed
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1 tsp balsamic vinegar
-1 tsp spicy brown mustard
-1 Tbs heavy cream
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-2 Tbs real bacon bits
-2 Tbs chopped chives
Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Lower the heat, cover and cook for 5 more minutes or until potatoes are soft.
Uncover and raise the heat to medium.  Add the vinegar, pepper and cream.  Cook for 2 more minutes.  Stir in the garlic, bacon and chives.  Cook for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and enjoy!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cherry-Pomegranate Sherbet

This is a true delight!  The perfect summer refreshment!  It is sweet, fresh, cold, creamy, just perfect!  Yum!  Enjoy!
-3 cups fresh or frozen cherries, pitted
-1 cup sugar
-1/2 cup pomegranate juice
-1 1/2 cups milk (only whole or 2 %)
-1 Tbs heavy cream
-3 Tbs lemon juice
Mix cherries with sugar and pomegranate juice in a saucepan.  Bring to a slow boil and cook for about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool at room temperature (about 20 minutes).
Once cooled, add the cherry mixture with all the juices from it to a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Add the rest of the ingredients and blend for 1 minute.
Pour into your ice cream maker and churn according to your manufacturer's instructions.  Pour sherbet into a plastic container and secure it with a tight fitting lid.  Freeze for 24 hours.  Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a Ree Drummond recipe.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Rachelle's Grilled Marinated Chicken with Roasted Ranch Potatoes

My friend Rachelle posted this dish on her food blog.  I knew I wanted to try it, as it looked easy and delicious.  It instantly became a family favorite and we can't wait to make it again and again.  I used chicken thighs instead of breasts, and they were very juicy and tender.  Delicious dish!  Enjoy!
For the chicken:
-4-5 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
-2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
-2 tsp thyme
-2 Tbs Dijon mustard
-2 tsp garlic powder
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the potatoes:
-2 lbs red potatoes, cubed
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-1 (1 oz) packet powdered ranch dressing mix
Combine all the marinade ingredients (except for chicken) in a large resealable plastic bag.  Mix well.  Add the chicken and coat evenly.  Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
While the chicken is marinating, preheat the oven at 425 F.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place cubed potatoes on prepared sheet.  Add the oil and ranch.  Using your hands, mix everything well until the potatoes are evenly coated.  Spread into single layer.
Place in preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes or until brown and crisp.
Meanwhile, remove chicken from marinade and place on grill.  Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side.
Slightly adapted from here.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Steak and Bean Stew the Zimbabwe Way

If you like curry, this dish is definitely for you.  It is a nice blend of flavors and the meat melts in your mouth.  Enjoy!
-1 Tbs vegetable oil
-2 medium onions, diced
-2 lbs beef stew meat
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 Anaheim pepper, seeded and minced
-3 Tbs curry powder
-1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes with zesty jalapenos, undrained
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp ground pepper
-2 (16 oz each) cans kidney beans, undrained
-3 Tbs lemon juice
Heat the oil in large saucepan or Dutch oven.  Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes.
Add the meat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the garlic, Anaheim pepper and curry.  Stir well and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes with the liquid and cook for 3 more minutes.  Add the salt, pepper, and beans with their liquid.  Mix well and bring to a simmer.  Cook on low for about 15 minutes.  Stir in the lemon juice.  Give it a last good stir and serve hot.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mama's Romanian Sauerkraut (Varza Calita)

Oh, the many, many childhood memories this dish brings...  I love this dish.  I also love that it is not too salty or tart, as many sauerkraut dishes tent to be.  My mom taught how to make it like hers by using sauerkraut that's been brined in salt, not in vinegar, and by combining it with regular, fresh cabbage.  Oh, I can't wait for you to make this and enjoy it as much as I do.  This is a great dish!   Make sure you also cook some mamaliga, for the full Romanian treat.   Enjoy!
-6 oz salt pork, cut into chunks
-1 onion, diced
-1 small head cabbage, thinly sliced
-2 lbs barrel cured sauerkraut (in salt brine), well rinsed and drained
-1 cup water
-1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
-1 tsp ground black pepper
-3 bay leaves
Heat up a large sauce pan.  Add the salt pork and cook until golden brown.  Add the onion and cook for about 6 minutes.  Add the cabbage.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Stir in the drained sauerkraut.  Mix well.
Combine the water and tomato paste.  Mix until smooth.  Pour over cabbage mixture.  Mix well.  Season with pepper and give it another good stir.  Add the bay leaves, cover and let it simmer on low heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chocolaty Chocolate Ice Cream

The picture is not the best quality, but I was too much in a hurry to eat my ice cream!  Yes, you get a double dose of chocolate with this one.  It is super creamy, chocolaty and delicious!  And it's easy to make too.  :)  Enjoy!
-1 1/2 cups sugar
-2 cups milk
-1/2 tsp salt
-4 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
-6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
-4 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
-4 cups heavy cream
-2 tsp vanilla extract
Mix sugar, milk, salt and cocoa powder in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Bring to a simmer, but do not boil.
Place the yolks in a small bowl.  Gradually, add about 1/2 cup of the cocoa mixture to the eggs.  Pour egg mixture into saucepan.  Heat until thickened, but do not boil.
Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips.  Stir until melted.  Pour into a chilled bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Remove from fridge and stir in heavy cream and vanilla.  Pour into your ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Enjoy!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Strawberries and Cream Pinwheels

I saw this on Pinterest and thought that it would be nice to try, especially now that strawberries are still in season.  I hosted a book club recently and made these.  They were very easy and a perfect, light refreshment.  Enjoy!
-1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
-1 cup fresh strawberries, diced
-a pinch of cinnamon
-7 flour tortillas, soft taco size
Cream cheese and strawberries until nice and smooth.  Add the cinnamon and mix well.  Spread cheese mixture on each tortilla.  Wrap each tortilla tightly.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-5 hours.
Take the plastic wrap off and cut into slices with a sharp knife.  Serve cold.  Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a recipe found here.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Low-Country Boil

This is comfort food to me!  Oh, how delicious this is!  The flavors are amazing.  Great dish!  Enjoy!
-1/2 cup Old Bay seafood seasoning, divided
-1/4 cup Cajun spice, divided
-1 lb small red potatoes
-2 ears corn, cleaned and broken in half
-1 small red onion, sliced
-1 lb Polska Kielbasa, cut into large chunks
-2 lbs raw shrimp, shell-on
-1 lb butter
Fill a large pot with water (about 2/3 up) and bring to a boil.  Add 1/4 cup seafood seasoning and 1/8 cup Cajun spice to it.  Mix well.  Add the potatoes and corn.  Cook for about 15-18 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender.
Add the onions and cook for 2 more minutes.  Add the sausage and shrimp.  Cook for about 3 minutes or until shrimp turns pink.  Remove everything from the pot with a strainer and discard the water.
In the same pot, now empty, quickly melt the butter.  Stir in the remaining seasoning and spice.  Mix well.  Remove from heat.  Add to it the seafood and veggies, turning to coat evenly.  Serve onto plates and enjoy!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Kashata (East African Dessert)

We're staying on an African theme for today too.  :)  This sweet treat is popular during holidays in East Africa.  It is very easy to make and quite delicious.  Make sure that the mixture is still hot enough to mold, otherwise it would harden and you can't make the balls anymore.  Easy and yummy!   Enjoy!
-2/3 cup sugar
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
Heat the sugar in heavy skillet until it melts.  It will take about 15 minutes until the sugar becomes dark brown and syrupy.
Add the cinnamon and mix well.  Add the coconut and stir, cooking for 2 more minutes or until the mixture becomes light brown.
Remove from heat and let it cool a little.
Form 1 inch balls and place on wax paper to set.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


This is a snack or light dinner which originated in India.  However, it appears that it is very popular in East Africa and it is sold at street stands in the cities.  It is basically a taco type mixture stuffed in an egg roll wrapper.  Very yummy stuff.  We dipped ours in duck sauce and it was even better.  I love trying out different things. :)  Enjoy!
-1 1/2 lbs extra lean ground beef
-1/2 tsp ground cumin
-6 green onions, chopped
-dash of garlic powder
-dash of seasoned salt
-dash of black pepper
-1/4 cup flour
-4 Tbs water
-1 package egg roll wrappers
-vegetable oil, for frying
Brown the meat.  If using other than extra lean beef, drain the fat, otherwise leave it alone.  Add the cumin, green onions, garlic powder, seasoned salt and pepper.  Mix well and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the flour and water, forming a loose paste.
With a pastry brush, spread some of the paste onto 2 sides of each wrapper, like this:
Place about 1 Tbs of the meat mixture just above the center of the wrapper.  Fold in half to form a triangle and press edges together to seal.  Repeat with remaining wrappers.
Heat oil for frying.  Fry samusas in batches until golden brown on each side.  Drain on paper towels.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Skinny Watermelon-Strawberry Popsicles

These are extremely simple and very healthy.  I only used the fruit.  No sugar, no juice, nothing.  Just watermelon and strawberries.  Super healthy and delicious.  This recipe makes about 12 to 18 popsicles, depending on the size of your molds.  Enjoy!
-4 cups seeded watermelon
-2 cups strawberries
Place fruit in blender and puree until smooth.  Pour into popsicle molds.  Insert the popsicle sticks, then freeze for 6 hours.
Before serving, let them sit on the counter for 1 minute for an easier slide out of the mold.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Romanian Fruit Compote (Compot de Fructe)

This is another little treat that my mom used to make for us when I grew up.  It's super simple, easy and quick.  You can use pretty much any type of fruit.  If using cherries, do not pit them, but take the stems off.  The amount of sugar also depends on how sweet the fruit is, so always go with the lesser amount, then taste and add more if needed. When I made it and took this picture, I used apples.  As I said, you can use any fruit you like (peaches, pears, plums, cherries, grapes etc).  It can be served warm, cold or at room temperature.  It's delicious anyhow!  Enjoy!
-about 2 cups fruit, peeled, cored and diced
-4 cups water
-1/4 -1/2 cup sugar
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp vanilla extract
Place fruit, water and sugar (start with 1/4 cup) in saucepan and bring to boil.  Once the water is boiling, continue cooking for 6-8 minutes.  Add the cinnamon and vanilla and cook for 2 more minutes.  Stir and taste.  If needed, add remaining 1/4 cup sugar now.  Stir until melted.  Remove from heat and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Marinated Olives Bites

So simple, so easy and so delicious!  I can't get enough of these cups!  They are the perfect appetizers, as each bite is packed with so much flavor.  Delicious!  Enjoy!
-1 (2 oz) jar diced pimientos, drained
-2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
-12 kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
-3 Tbs crumbled feta cheese
-1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-2 tsp lemon juice
-a dash of salt and pepper
-15 mini phyllo shells
In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients, except for the shells.  Mix well and refrigerate for 1 hour.  Spoon 1 tsp of the mixture into each shell.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 8, 2013

5 Minute Romanian Hummus (Fasole Batuta in 5 Minute)

I grew up with this dish.  It was something very inexpensive and filling to keep our tummies happy during the communist era when food was so scarce.  We ate it just by itself, but now I like it with pita chips or even tortilla chips.  Also, because of modern convenience, instead of spending a lot of time boiling the beans, I like to use canned beans- they save lots of time.  The sauteed onion topping is optional, but it makes the dish so much better.  Enjoy!
For hummus:
-2 (15 oz each) cans cannellini or great northern beans, rinsed and drained
-2 cloves garlic, peeled
-1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1 tsp or more salt
For onion topping:
-1 small onion, finely diced
-3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-2 Tbs tomato paste
-salt and pepper, to taste
Place hummus ingredients in food processor.  Pulse on high until well blended.  Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in skillet.   Add onion and saute for 3-4 minutes or until soft.  Add the tomato paste and seasoning.  Mix until well blended and cook another minute.
Top humus with onion mixture and enjoy!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Chicken Salad with Grapes, Apples, and Cashews

This is probably the best chicken salad ever!  I love the creaminess of the chicken and mayo, coupled with the crunchiness of the cashews, apples and onions, and the sweetness of the grapes.  Perfect combination!  I served ours on croissants and it was just perfect.  Enjoy!
-1 chicken breasts or 5 chicken thighs, all boneless and skinless, boiled and diced
-1 cup seedless red grapes, cut in half
-1 cup cashews
-1 Gala apple, cored and finely diced
-1/4 small red onions, finely chopped
-6 green onions, sliced
-1/2 cup mayonnaise
-2 Tbs lime juice
-1 tsp fresh dill, chopped
-salt and pepper, to taste
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Make sure it's well blended.  Season with salt and pepper.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lady Bug Pops

I was ironing one day (yeah, I know! :) while watching Food Network.  Giada's show was on and she made these for her daughter's play date.  I thought they looked delicious and easy.  And so they were!  Super easy, delicious and cute!  My kids loved them!  Enjoy!
-1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
-1/4 cup orange juice
-2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
-2 Tbs honey
-1 cup fresh blueberries
-ice cube trays
-lollipop sticks
Put strawberries, orange juice, lemon juice and honey into blender.  Puree until smooth.
Pour mixture into ice cube tray (fill each cube about 3/4 of the way).  Place 3 blueberries into each tray.  Freeze for 1 hour.
Remove from freezer and insert a lollipop stick into each cup.  Return to the freezer for about 4-5 more hours.
Wiggle the pops out of the tray and enjoy!
Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Classic Waffles

These are way better than the ones made from a store bought mix.  They are also quick and easy.  The toppings for them are endless.  Enjoy!
-2 cups flour
-1 tsp salt
-4 tsp baking powder
-2 Tbs sugar
-2 eggs, beaten
-1 1/2 cups warm milk
-1/3 cup butter, melted
-1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix all ingredients together by hand until well blended, with no lumps.  Ladle batter into preheated waffle iron.  Cook until golden brown.  Serve hot and choice toppings.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Spaghetti Carbonara

Quick, easy and delicious!  My type of meal for a busy weeknight!  Enjoy!
-1/2 lb spaghetti
-1 cup frozen peas
-1/4 cup cream cheese
-1/4 cup Caesar Dressing
-1 Tbs flour
-1 cup milk
-6 oz smoked ham, cut into short strips
-1 Tbs dried parsley leaves
-3-4 Tbs freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta for about 6 1/2 minutes.  Add peas and boil for 3 more minutes.  Drain and reserve.
Meanwhile, mix well the cream cheese, dressing and flour in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the milk and stir constantly until well blended.  Add the ham.  Cook for about 5 minutes.
Pour sauce over drain spaghetti and peas.  Cook for about 2 minutes.
Remove from the stove and add the parsley and cheese.  Mix well and serve immediately.  Enjoy!


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