recipes, food and cooking

August 2008

Hello Everyone,

I know it has been a long time since I did the newsletter but I hope you will enjoy receiving them again! Sometimes life gets in the way. For those that have been on my mailing list a long time I apologize. What most of you don't know is my mother was diagnosed with cancer several years ago and since then I have been dividing my time between my home and hers and I have logged over 50,000 frequent flyer miles since it began in travel to Michigan. We also left Boston and moved to the Huntsville, AL. area which we love. Enough about me and on to the recipes!

     Mary Ellen        

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Asian Noodle Salad

1 packages linguine noodles, cooked, rinsed, and cooled
1/2 to 1 head sliced Napa cabbage
1/2 to 1 head sliced purple cabbage
1/2 to 1 bag baby spinach
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
1 orange bell pepper, sliced thin
1 small bag bean sprouts
3 sliced scallions
1 peeled, sliced cucumber
chopped cilantro-to taste
1 can whole cashews, lightly toasted in skillet

Juice of 1 lime
8 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 hot peppers or jalapenos, chopped

Mix together salad ingredients in LARGE bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Mix with tongs and serve in a big bowl or platter.

I dressed this salad right away and think I should of left out the spinach until just before serving.

Adapted from Jamie Oliver

Posted on My Cooking Blog

Grilled Summer Vegetable Salad


2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons olive oil

In a bowl, combine the vinegar, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and mustard. Whisk well.

Whisk in the oil a teaspoon at a time until it is all added; set aside.


2 medium eggplant, sliced
2 green or red bell peppers, seeded and cut into wide strips
2 medium summer squash, sliced
Olive oil (for brushing)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
4 scallions, chopped
1 medium cucumber, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (basil, parsley, thyme, and chives)
3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
4 ounces crumbled feta

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. Turn the gas to medium-hot.

In a roasting pan, arrange the eggplant, bell peppers, and squash in layers, brushing each one with olive oil, and sprinkling with salt and pepper.

Grill the eggplant, peppers, and squash for 5 to 8 minutes, turning, or until tender; set aside to cool slightly.

Cut the vegetables into 2-inch pieces. Transfer to a serving bowl. Whisk the dressing and add enough dressing to moisten the vegetables.

Add the tomatoes, scallions, cucumber, fresh herbs, salt, and pepper. Toss gently. Top with olives and feta.

Serves 6


Grilled Eggplant Sandwich

4 white eggplant (or use another variety)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
2 balls fresh mozzarella (6 ounces each), cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 medium tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch slices
10 basil leaves, coarsely torn

Slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch rounds. You need 16 slices. Spread out on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and set aside for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, light a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to medium-high heat.

Rinse the eggplant and pat it dry. Brush the rounds with olive oil. Arrange the sliced eggplant on the grill. Cook without moving for 5 minutes or until the rounds are lightly charred on the bottom. Turn, brush again with oil, and cook for an additional 2 minutes, or until the eggplant is cooked through.

Arrange 2 rounds on each of 4 plates. Add a slice of mozzarella to each round, then a slice of tomato, salt, pepper, and a few pieces of basil. Sprinkle with olive oil. Top each sandwich with another slice of eggplant.

Note: You can do this with zucchini also.

Tomato Chips

1 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
3 pounds assorted tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped thyme

In a saute pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat until it begins to ripple slightly at the bottom of the pan, no higher than 140 degrees. Add the garlic and remove from the heat. Let the garlic sit in the olive oil for up to 2 hours. Strain out the garlic and reserve the oil.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with Silpat mats or parchment paper.

Brush the tomatoes with the garlic oil. Season with the salt, pepper and thyme. Place the pans in a single layer, bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees, then lower temperature to 200 and continue baking for 3 to 5 hours, depending on moisture content of the tomatoes, until the chips are dehydrated and crisp. If not eaten immediately, the chips should be stored in an airtight container.

Makes about 1 pound

Source: "The Heirloom Tomato," by Amy Goldman

Per 1/4 cup: 55 calories, 1 gram protein, 5 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 3 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 876 milligrams sodium

Pea and Mint Pasta

1 pound ziti or penne pasta
2 cups peas (if frozen, thaw first), divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then return the pasta to the saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a food processor combine 1 1/2 cups of the peas, cheese, mint, chives, olive oil and lemon juice. Process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Taste, then season with salt and pepper.

Add the pesto and remaining peas to the cooked pasta and toss to coat. The residual heat of the pasta will melt the cheese and make the pesto smoother. If you prefer a looser sauce, add some of the reserved cooking liquid.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Corn and Tomato Linguine

1 pound linguine
kernels from 2 ears of corn
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 to 6 fresh chopped tomatoes
1 cup fresh basil, torn
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese

Fill a large pot with 4 quarts cold water, bring to a boil and cook linguine until it is firm but tender, testing a piece after 4 minutes in the boiling water. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, roast the corn kernels in the olive oil until caramelized and brown. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat, add torn basil and sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Top with pecorino and serve with crusty bread.

Serves 4

Green Pepper with Tomato and Feta Cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 fresh tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1 pound fresh, sliced green peppers
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons toasted almonds

Heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic in oil 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is crisp-tender. Stir in tomatoes, oregano and red pepper, if desired. Heat to boiling.

Reduce heat; simmer uncovered about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened and most of liquid is evaporated.

Place pepper slices on serving platter; top with tomato mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and almonds.

Makes 8 servings

Sweet Summer Fruit Bruschetta

24 1/4-inch baguette slices
1/4 cup butter, softened
6 tbsp. brown sugar, divided
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped peaches, nectarines, or a combination of both
1/2 cup chopped plums
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. chopped glazed walnuts

Lay the baguette slices in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Stir together the butter, 4 tablespoons brown sugar and cinnamon and spread on one side of each baguette slice. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until bubbly and bread is lightly browned on the edges.

Stir together the remaining brown sugar, fruit and lime juice in a small bowl. Spoon equal amounts over the bread slices and sprinkle with walnuts.

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Green Olive Pesto

The salty, earthy flavor of olives makes this versatile pesto great with pasta, as a rub on grilled meats, or as an appetizer spread on crackers or bread.

1 cup firmly packed pimiento-stuffed green olives, drained, rinsed well and patted dry
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Make a paste with the garlic and salt. In a food processor, puree the olives with the pine nuts, garlic paste and parsley. With the motor running, add the cheese and then the oil in a stream, blending the mixture well.

Source: Bon Appetit

Artichoke Dip

1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, chopped
4 pieces bacon, crisply fried and crumbled
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Dash cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Worcestershire sauce, to taste

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate overnight. Serve with crackers.

Bruschetta with Tomatoes and Lemon Basil

½ loaf high-quality crusty bread (either baguette or large round loaf), sliced
4 (or more) plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, cut in half
1 bunch lemon basil
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

Heat broiler or grill (rack must be at least 4 inches from heat source). Rub the garlic onto one side of the bread. Brush the bread with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt. Broil or grill the bread until lightly browned. Turn over and continue to cook for 1 minute. Spread diced tomato on top and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with torn lemon basil leaves.

Are you into Stamping and Scrapbooking? I am an Independent Stampin Up! demonstrator. I have a stamping website here. If you are looking for Stampin Up! products I can help!

I will be adding cute ways to package foods as gifts as we get closer to the holiday season.

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Sula’s Orange Chicken Pasta Salad

1 cup mayonnaise (I use fat free)
½ cup (from the can) orange juice
2 t. dried basil leaves
¼ t. ground ginger

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cooked and cubed (about 2 cups cubed)…I’ve also used the frozen cooked Tyson chicken to expedite the preparation time.
2 cups rotini pasta, not over cooked and drained
1 can (11 oz.) mandarin orange segments, drained
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup dried cranberries

Mix the first four ingredients together. If salad is not going to be served right away, double the amount of dressing as the salad tends to be dry if it has been chilled. Reserve ½ to 1 cup of dressing to add just before serving.

Pour the dressing over the remainder of the ingredient in a large bowl. Mix lightly. If you make this too far ahead of time, the noodles and chicken soak up the dressing.

Note: This recipe comes from a friend of mine and the notes are her's. You can see a picture of this recipe on my blog.

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

4 zucchini, washed and ends trimmed
1 red bell pepper, cleaned and sliced thin
1/2 cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil (divided use)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 to 2 lemons juiced (about 1/4 cup lemon juice)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red-chile flakes
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan

Using a mandoline or a vegetable peeler, thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise. Toss the zucchini and bell pepper with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Quickly grill the zucchini ribbons and bell pepper on 1 side, until lightly marked and wilted, about 1 minute. Flip zucchini ribbons and pepper slices over and grill another minute. Move vegetables to a plate and let cool slightly.

In another bowl, whisk the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, basil, mint, garlic, chile flakes and parmesan together. Add cooled vegetables to mixture, toss to coat and serve.

Serves 4

Per serving: 271 calories, 2 grams protein, 28 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 5 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 41 milligrams sodium

Watermelon Salad with Mint and Crispy Prosciutto

4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
3 pounds watermelon (including rind)
6 radishes, quartered
4 scallions, sliced
¼ cup fresh mint, torn
¼ cup salted peanuts, chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 400.

On a baking sheet, arrange the prosciutto in a single layer. Bake until crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, trim and discard the rind from the watermelon. Cut the flesh into ¼-inch-thick triangles.

Place the watermelon in serving dishes and sprinkle with the radishes, scallions, mint and peanuts. Drizzle with the lime juice and oil. Season each salad with salt and pepper.

Break the cooked prosciutto into pieces and sprinkle over the salads before serving.

Source: Real Simple magazine

Mexican Spoon Bread

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 17-ounce can cream-style corn
1 4-ounce can chopped, mild green chiles
1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese

Mix cornmeal, salt and soda. Stir in milk and oil, and mix well.

Add eggs and corn and mix well. Spoon half of the mixture into a greased 9-by-9-inch baking pan. Sprinkle half of the chiles on top, then half of the cheese. Repeat layers, ending with cheese.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

This should be spooned from the pan and eaten with a fork. It may be served as a substitute for potatoes with any kind of meat or poultry.

Hot Water Cornbread

1 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
¾ cup boiling water
1 tablespoon shortening
Bacon fat or oil for frying

In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, salt and sugar. Add boiling water and shortening. Stir until shortening melts. Let cool, then shape mixture into flattened balls using a heaping tablespoon as a guide.

Heat oil or bacon fat to 375 F in a large skillet. Fry each in hot oil, turning once, until crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve at once with maple syrup or honey.

Makes about 12 patties.

PER PATTY: Calories 82 (39% fat) Fat 4 g (1 g sat) Cholesterol 2 mg Sodium 202 mg Fiber 1 g Carbohydrates 11 g Protein 1 g

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1 or 2 large zucchini (15 inches or bigger)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 large green pepper, coarsely chopped
2 large, very ripe tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon mixed Italian spices
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
grated parmesan cheese
Peel zucchini and quarter lengthwise. Remove seeds and pith. Cut zucchini walls into 1/2-inch slices. Put olive oil in large pot. On high heat, saute garlic, onion and green pepper for 5 minutes. Add zucchini slices and continue to saute for 5 more minutes.

Add tomatoes, spices, salt and pepper and simmer on medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Add red pepper, if using, and let sit 15 minutes to absorb the heat.
Serve in bowls and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Serves 4
Per serving (based on 10 servings): 884 calories, 2 gram protein, 6 grams fat, trace saturated fat, 8 grams carbohydrate, 2 gram fiber, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 4 milligrams sodium

Reduced Fat Blintz Souffle

2 tbsp. butter, softened
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. light sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1 cup liquid egg substitute (or 4 eggs)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup low-fat (2 percent) milk

1 1/2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
1 1/2 cups low-fat ricotta cheese
8 oz. fat-free cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg whites
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium to large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar. Beat in the sour cream, vanilla and lemon zest. Add the egg substitute a little at a time, beating well after each addition.

Combine the flour and baking powder, and add alternately with the milk. Do not overbeat at this point.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until barely firm.

In a medium to large bowl, beat the cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, cream cheese and sugar together. Add the egg whites and vanilla, and continue beating until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Remove the pan from the oven and carefully spread the cheese mixture over the bottom layer of batter. Add the remaining batter on top.

Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes more, or until a sharp knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve hot or at room temperature; refrigerate leftovers.

Makes 10 servings.

Each serving contains about:

229 calories, 4 grams fat, 25 milligrams cholesterol, 589 milligrams sodium, 28 grams carbohydrates, 18 grams protein and negligible fiber.

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Greek-style Beef Kebabs

For the souvlaki:
2 pounds beef sirloin, cut in 1 to 1 1/2 inch chunks
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/8 cup dry red wine (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt

Combine ingredients and mix to coat meat evenly. Thread onto skewers, and leave alone in the fridge overnight, or for at least two hours. Grill over medium high heat to desired level of doneness.

For the tzatziki:
2 32-ounce containers plain whole-milk yogurt
2 large cucumbers
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh chopped dill leaves, loosely packed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cider or white vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

The night before, line a colander with a linen dish towel or several layers of cheesecloth, and pour in the yogurt. Let it drain for 8 hours or overnight, until half its original volume. Refrigerate while draining.

Peel, seed and grate the cucumbers. Gather the shreds in a dish towel and wring out to remove moisture.

Add the cucumber and all other ingredients to the strained yogurt and mix well. Taste after an hour and adjust salt-sugar-vinegar-oil as desired. (Resist the temptation to add more garlic until 24 hours have passed and the garlic flavor blooms.)

Serve alongside, or atop, grilled souvlaki, with toasted pita bread and salad.

Summer Grilled Pork Tenderloins

2-3 pieces whole pork tenderloin, approx. 2 1/4 lb.
1 (8-oz.) carton orange juice
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 C minced onion
1/2 C lime juice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 C chopped cilantro
1 C olive oil

Pierce pork tenderloins all over with a fork. Set aside. In blender or food processor add remaining ingredients (except olive oil) and blend until smooth. Add olive oil in a slow, steady stream and continue blending until slightly thickened. Pour marinade into large plastic food storage bag. Add pork tenderloins; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Grill tenderloins covered over medium heat approximately 20 to 25 minutes, or until thermometer inserted in center of meat registers 160 degrees, turning occasionally. Reserve and refrigerate 1 pork tenderloin and use for sandwiches.

Carve remaining tenderloins crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices.

Serves 6.

Pronto Paella

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 red bell peppers, cored and thinly sliced
1 package (12-ounce) sweet Italian chicken sausages (precooked variety), cut into half-inch-thick oblongs
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups long-grain white rice
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 teaspoon crushed saffron threads
1 pound raw extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 pound calamari rings
1 cup peas (thawed if frozen)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Heat a grill with a cover to high. Place a paella pan or very large oven-safe skillet (at least 14 inches) on the grill. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the garlic, red pepper flakes, paprika, red peppers and sausages. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are tender, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the sausage and pepper mixture to a bowl and set aside.

Return the pan to the heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the onion. Saute for 2 minutes, then add the tomato paste. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.

Add the rice and stir to mix into the tomato paste. Slowly pour in the broth and wine and stir well. Stir in the saffron, close the grill and let cook 9 minutes.

Open the grill, stir the rice, then cover the grill and cook another 9 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and a light crust of rice has formed along the bottom of the pan.

Add the shrimp and mix into the rice. Cover the grill and cook 4 minutes. Add the calamari, peas and reserved sausage and pepper mixture. Cover the grill and cook another 4 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and firm.

To serve, sprinkle with parsley, season with salt and pepper and set the lemon wedges around the edge of the pan. Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 617 calories; 162 calories from fat; 18 grams fat (4 grams saturated; 0 grams trans fats); 247 milligrams cholesterol; 68 grams carbohydrate; 39 grams protein; 4 grams fiber; 1,010 milligrams sodium.

Penne With Bacon, Spinach and Mushrooms

1 box (16 ounces) penne pasta
10 slices bacon (about ½ pound)
1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin
1 package (8 ounces) sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, sliced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 package (12 ounces) fresh baby spinach
Garnish; grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water as package directs. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned. Remove bacon to paper towels to drain. Remove all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet.

Add onion and mushrooms to skillet; saute 5 minutes until onion is golden. Add garlic and red pepper flakes; cook 30 seconds until fragrant. Add spinach; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes until wilted.

Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta water. Add pasta to skillet with some of the reserved pasta water; toss. Add more water as necessary.

Presentation: Crumble bacon on top of pasta and serve with parmesan cheese.

Makes 6 servings

Dai Grilled Chicken

3 pounds whole chicken legs and/or breasts
3 tablespoons crushed garlic
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dry-toasted Sichuan peppercorns, ground
1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper

Use a cleaver to chop the legs into 4 pieces each, whole breasts into 4 to 6 pieces. Rinse and place in a wide bowl. Set aside.

Place garlic in a mortar or a small bowl, add salt, and mash with a pestle or the back of a wooden spoon to blend. Add both peppers and blend together.

Add the flavor rub to chicken and use your hands to rub it all over them. Set aside, covered, while you prepare your grilling arrangement (refrigerate if the wait will be longer than half an hour).

Prepare a low fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to medium-hot.

Place chicken on grill, cover, and cook about 20 minutes, or until cooked through; turn occasionally, working quickly and replacing the lid as soon as possible to keep in the moisture and heat. Serve hot.

Dai roast chicken: This rub of mashed garlic with pepper-salt makes a wonderful coating for roast chicken. Wash and dry the chicken. Stir a tablespoon of oil into the flavor blend and then rub it all over the chicken before roasting at 400 degrees. This amount of rub will do for a small chicken (under 3 pounds); scale up in proportion if cooking a larger bird.

From "Beyond the Great Wall," serves 6 as a main course.

Chicken in Sour Cream

2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons celery salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons pepper
3 whole chicken breasts, split and skinned
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted (or less)

Combine sour cream, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, paprika, garlic and pepper in a large bowl. Add chicken pieces and coat well. Allow to marinate in the sour cream mixture overnight in the refrigerator, covered.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350. Remove pieces of chicken from the sauce and roll in the crumbs. Arrange in a large baking dish and sprinkle with butter. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until done.

Roasted Veal Tenderloin With Crispy, Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus and Potato Fondue

For potato fondue
2 Yukon Gold potatoes
1 cup cream
1/4 pound butter
Salt and white pepper (to taste)

For asparagus
8 pieces Parma-prosciutto
20 pieces medium-sized asparagus, blanched
8 sheets phyllo dough
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated finely
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For veal
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 pieces veal tenderloin (about 5 ounces each)
Salt and black pepper (to taste)
2 tablespoons butter (for veal)
Tools: Potato peeler, paring knife, large pot, colander, blender, small pot; pastry brush, large nonstick saute pan, paper-towel-lined sheet tray; large cast iron skillet; 4 serving plates

Potato Fondue
Peel and cut potatoes to medium dice; place in a pot with cold, salted water. Bring pot to boil, reduce and simmer 10-12 minutes until potatoes are tender. Strain and move to blender.

Add cream, butter, salt and white pepper. Puree until attaining the smooth consistency of melted ice cream.

Pour into small pot and hold warm.

Lay out 2 pieces of prosciutto, side by side. Place 5 asparagus spears atop prosciutto and roll up like a cigar. Repeat until you have 4 bundles.

Lay out one sheet phyllo, brush with butter; lay another sheet on top, brush with butter. Repeat until you have a 4-layer sheet of buttered phyllo. Dust top layer of phyllo with parmesan cheese.

Cut the phyllo sheet in half, and place a bundle of the prosciutto and asparagus on edge of each phyllo strip. Roll again like a cigar; repeat process for final 3 asparagus bundles.

Set saute pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Set bundles in oil, and brown on all sides. Remove to sheet tray; hold warm in 200-degree oven.

Place iron skillet over very high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Liberally season veal with salt and black pepper, put in hot oil. Brown on all sides, reduce heat to medium. Add 2 tablespoons butter and baste the meat, cooking until medium rare (about 11 minutes). Remove from pan; let rest while assembling final dish.

To Plate
Place 2 tablespoons potato fondue in center of each plate and smear into a wide circle; set veal in center. Slice each asparagus log into 3 pieces; set atop veal.

Source: Frank Bonanno

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Q. How do you maintain fresh herbs from the supermarket? I use just a small amount of, say, cilantro, and the rest just goes bad. Can I use the rest as dried herb?

Fresh-cut herbs are similar to fresh-cut flowers. Water will keep them fresher. I keep a small vase in the kitchen for bunches of fresh herbs. Trim off the ends of the stems just as you would cut flowers, put them in the vase or a small glass, then put a plastic bag over them and refrigerate them. If you change the water regularly, many herbs will keep great like that.

Fresh basil keeps better in an uncovered jar of water out on the counter. And I learned one exception for the fresh-water rule recently: Fresh dill. It hates water. The stems get slimy and the fronds wilt if you try that.

For herbs such as dill or packages of herbs that aren't cut with the stems on, you can wash them, spin them dry in a salad spinner and then wrap them in a paper towel. Tuck them in a plastic bag (leave it open to let them breath a little) and keep it in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator.

You can dry most fresh herbs, but some don't dry all that well, particularly cilantro. The easiest way to dry herbs is to spread them on a screen and leave them out in the sun for a few days (bring them in at night). But I've also done it by just spreading herb leaves on a baking sheet and leaving it out on the counter for a day or two.

You also can bundle and hang them; which takes about a month.

But the best way to keep a supply of fresh herbs is to simply grow them yourself. Most herbs do great in small pots in a windowsill.



Grandma Bert's Whirlygigs

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips

Cream together butter, sugars and peanut butter in medium bowl. Add egg and beat until fluffy. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt.

Roll dough into an oval shape about 1/4-inch thick on sheet of wax paper; set aside. Melt chocolate chips slowly in top of double boiler; cool slightly and spread thinly over dough with spatula. Starting with long end, roll up dough and wrap tightly in plastic wrap; chill for several hours or freeze until ready to bake. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice dough 1/4-inch thick and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 12 minutes. Let cool on wire racks.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Chocolate Granita

2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 generous teaspoon to 1½ teaspoons medium to hot ground ancho chile
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
Generous pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (optional)
3/4 cups sugar or to taste
Fine-grated zest of 1 large orange
3 cups water, or half water, half milk; or half water, half cream
10.5 to 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (Lindht Excellence 70%, Valrhona 71%, Scharffen Berger 70%, or Ghirardelli 70% Extra Bittersweet), broken up

Directions: In a 3-quart saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the chocolate. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 2 minutes.

Pull the pan off the heat, and let it sit for a few minutes. Then whisk in the chocolate until smooth. Cool the hot chocolate and pour it into a shallow container. Freeze for one hour. Stir the hardened portions at the edges into the center. Repeat two or more or more times, until you have a shaggy, chocolate ice. Serve the granita topped with nuts or cream.

Fudgy Mint Brownies

1/2 cup butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 ounce semisweet chocolate
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
14 Andes mints

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Line bottom and two sides with foil, letting edges extend over sides. Coat foil with spray.

Place butter and unsweetened and semisweet chocolates in the top of a double boiler; cook over simmering water until melted. Cool slightly.

Beat eggs, sugar, cocoa, vanilla and the cooled chocolate mixture with a mixer until blended. Turn to low speed, add flour and beat just until blended. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 22 minutes or until a tester comes out barely clean. Immediately place mints over top and let stand 1 minute or until mints melt; lightly swirl to spread mints. Cool, remove from pan with foil and cut into squares. Makes 24 brownies.

Nutritional information per brownie: 130 calories, 6 grams fat, 1 gram protein, 17 grams carbohydrates, 0 grams fiber, 35 milligrams sodium.

Fresh-Fruit Sorbet

Mangoes, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, papaya and pears are all good choices.

About 2½ pounds ripe, fresh fruit, peeled, pitted if necessary and coarsely chopped (for 4 cups)
1 cup simple syrup (see note below)
1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice

In a blender, process the fruit until smooth. Measure out 2½ cups puree, reserving any extra for another use.

Stir in the simple syrup and lime juice. Pour the sorbet base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Pack the sorbet into an airtight plastic container. Press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the surface of the sorbet, cover the container and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours. If frozen hard, let sorbet sit at room temperature about 10 minutes before scooping. Makes 1 quart, about 8 servings.

Simple Syrup: Bring 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar to boil on high heat. Reduce to medium-low and simmer 3 to 4 minutes, until sugar is dissolved. Cool before using. Leftover syrup can be refrigerated up to 3 months.

Per serving: 95 calories (4 percent from fat), 0.4 g fat (0 saturated, 0.1 g monounsaturated), 0 cholesterol, 0.9 g protein, 23.5 g carbohydrates, 2.8 g fiber, 1.4 mg sodium.

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Summer Shack Bluefish Vera Cruz Stew

3 T. olive oil
1 T. garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
2 green bell peppers, large dice
1 Spanish onion, large dice
8 plum tomatoes, large dice
8 red bliss potatoes, quartered
1 t. dry oregano
1/8 t. ground cumin
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch ground clove
1/4 c. white wine
2 T. sherry
1 quart fish fumet or chicken broth
1/2 c. green olives, pitted and halved
1/4 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1/4 c. lime juice
4 8-oz. bluefish portions
1 T. kosher salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper

Lightly saute 2 T. of olive oil and garlic in a medium pot. Add peppers and onions. Stir until slightly soft. Add tomatoes, potatoes, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, wine, sherry and fish fumet. Bring to a boil, simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in olives, cilantro and lime juice. Remove from the heat.

Rub bluefish with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Heat a large saute pan and sear bluefish, flesh-side down, for about 2 minutes. Flip fillet, add stew to the pan and cook for additional 8-10 minutes.

Serves 4.

'Drippy' Mexican Sweet Corn

El Burrito Market in St. Paul, Minn., supplied the inspiration for this recipe. You have to eat this leaning over a plate. Licking of plates is encouraged.

Your grill is ready for the corn when the coals are covered with gray ash.

6 ears fresh sweet corn, husks peeled back but still attached to the ears
1-1/2 sticks salted butter, melted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups Mexican crema, or sour cream
About 3 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup hot chili powder

Grill corn about 4 inches from coals for 8 to 10 minutes, turning with tongs and brushing with butter. Remove to a platter. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Have the sour cream in one shallow bowl, the cheese on a large plate and the chili powder is a salt shaker.

Let corn cool until easy to handle, but still warm. Remove husks and then roll the corn in the sour cream, draining off excess. Then lightly roll in the cheese. Sprinkle with the optional chili powder to taste.

Variation: Some people like to temper the heat of the chili with a squeeze of fresh lime juice over the ear of corn.

Serves 6.

Morton's Macaroni and Cheese

12 oz. dried cavatappi or other small hollow, ridged pasta
1 1/2 tsp. melted butter
4 T finely diced yellow onion
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
Kosher salt
6 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 C)
4 oz. cream cheese, cut into small cubes
3 oz. parmesan cheese, grated (about 2/3 cup)
1 oz. Swiss cheese, grated (about 6 T)
1/2 T chile paste, such as sambal oelek
5 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded (about 1 2/3 cups)
8 tablespoons panko bread crumbs (about 1/2 cup)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente. Drain but leave a little water on the pasta to keep it moist. Reserve another 1/2 cup of pasta water to thin the sauce. Return to the cooking pot and cover to keep warm.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and saute the onions for about 1 minute or until tender. Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cheddar, cream, parmesan and Swiss cheeses and cook, stirring, until the cheeses melt and are fully incorporated into the cream.

Let the sauce reach a simmer and stir in the chile paste. You will have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce.

Remove from the heat and using an immersion blender or hand-held electric mixer, beat for about 45 seconds until the cheeses and onions are completely blended. The sauce will be thick; thin it with the reserved 1/2 cup of pasta water and mix well. Season to taste with salt.

Ladle the sauce over the pasta and mix well with a rubber spatula. Transfer to a deep, 2-quart baking dish and spread the pasta and cheese evenly. Sprinkle the coarsely shredded cheese over the casserole and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until hot and bubbling around the edges.

Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

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