recipes, food and cooking

September 2005

Hello Everyone,

I just put up a new site for Food Gifts From Your Kitchen. There are over 1500 recipes there now and I plan still on adding a Hostess Gift Section very soon. If you have any favorite recipes that you enjoy giving to friends and would like to share it, please e-mail me and I will be happy to add it.

     Mary Ellen        

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Pork Chops With Apple and Thyme

3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons canola oil
Four 4-ounce boneless pork chops, 1/2-inch-thick, trimmed
1 small onion, sliced
1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Mix 2 tablespoons broth and cornstarch in a small bowl.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add chops and cook until browned, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium-high and add onion to the pan. Cook, stirring often, until it starts to soften and brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add apple and cook, stirring often, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining broth, cider (or juice), mustard, thyme and the cornstarch mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring, until thickened and glossy, about 1 minute. Return the chops to the pan and heat through. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 219 cal., 9 g fat (3 g saturated), 67 mg chol., 9 g carbo., 24 g pro., 1 g fiber, 102 mg sodium.

Chicken Breast in Fried Onion Sauce

3 medium onions, peeled and chopped finely
2 teaspoons garlic-ginger paste (see note)
2 tablespoons chicken breast, cut into-2-inch pieces, washed and drained
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garam masala (see note)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2-inch piece of cinnamon stick
8 ounces tomato sauce (pureed, chopped or fresh tomatoes can be substituted)
Small bunch of fresh coriander leaves (also called cilantro), washed and chopped

On medium flame, heat the oil in a large pot. When hot, add the onions. Stir and fry onions until they are a deep, reddish-brown color. (It takes about 10 minutes to get the right color.) Add the ginger-garlic paste. Fry for about a minute until absorbed.

Turn heat to high setting and add the chicken. Cook for a couple of minutes on one side, then turn over and cook on the other side for about a minute.

Turn heat back to medium, and then add all the spices, stirring for a minute to blend in. Add tomato sauce and stir until blended thoroughly.

Add 1/4 cup of water to make a sauce consistency. Cover and cook on low until chicken is cooked through. (Stir twice to make sure chicken is not sticking to bottom.) Add more water if necessary.

Remove cinnamon stick. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Note: Ginger-garlic paste can be purchased in jars in Indian food stores. You can also make it at home by processing equal amounts of peeled garlic and ginger in a food processor. Store any extra paste in the refrigerator. Garam masala is a blend of spices often used in Indian cooking. It’s available in Indian markets and in many supermarkets.

Pierogi Casserole

1 1/2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, divided
1 small cabbage, chopped
2 onions, diced
3 cups mashed potatoes (6 to 8 potatoes)
9 lasagna noodles, cooked
1 pound American cheese, shredded

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Using 2 tablespoons butter, grease a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan.

Saute the cabbage and onions in 1 1/2 sticks butter until soft. Add to the mashed potatoes.

Place 3 lasagna noodles in the prepared pan. Layer with half of the potato mixture and sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat the layers until all the ingredients are used, ending with the cheese.

Cover the pan with foil. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Cut in squares to serve.

Makes 12 to 15 servings.

Tonkatsu (Breaded Pork Cutlets)

1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup water
1 (3 1/2-ounce) box panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
Canola oil for frying
Steamed rice and shredded cabbage as accompaniments
Tonkatsu Sosu (see recipe)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees or to "warm" setting and line a baking sheet with a brown paper bag.

Cut the pork tenderloin into 8 pieces. Put the pieces, one at a time, between layers of plastic wrap and pound them into thin rounds about 5 inches across. Sprinkle the rounds with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Set up three wide-rimmed soup bowls. Put the flour in the first bowl. In the second bowl, beat the eggs with the water until smooth. Put the panko in the third bowl.

Working with one piece of the pork at a time, dip each in the flour, shake off the excess, dip in the egg mixture and allow the excess to run off, then lay in the panko, turn and pat gently to coat both sides with the panko.

Put 3 inches of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat and when the oil is hot enough to brown a cube of bread in 30 seconds, fry the pork, two pieces at a time. Cook, turning once, until the crust is golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes altogether.

Hold the first browned cutlets in the warm oven on the paper-lined baking sheet while the remaining cutlets are cooked. When all the cutlets are cooked, cut them into strips about a half-inch wide and serve with steamed rice, shredded cabbage and Tonkatsu Sosu.

Serves 4

Tonkatsu Sosu (Plum Ketchup for Pork Cutlets)

Makes about 1 cup

Following instructions found in Japanese-American cookbooks, I tried making sauce for tonkatsu using a combination of other bottled sauces — Worcestershire, ketchup and mustard — but I was not satisfied. When I started from scratch, softening dried plums in a simmering bath of vinegar and water, I got the results I was after.

1/2 cup water, divided
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup, packed (about 6 medium) pitted dried plums (prunes)

Put 1/4 cup of the water and the cornstarch in a teacup, stir to dissolve and set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the remaining water with the rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Cut the plums into half-inch pieces and add them to the saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium-high heat until the dried plums are slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the water with cornstarch and cook until thickened, about 1 minute more.

Purée the mixture in a blender until very smooth. If no blender is available, the mixture may be puréed in a food processor but it will not be as smooth.

Source: Greg Atkinson

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Chicken and Shrimp Tortilla Soup

6 ounces fresh or frozen medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Crisp Tortilla Shreds (recipe follows)
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon cooking oil
4 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
14 1/2-ounce can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes, undrained
3 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 and 2/3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
Thaw shrimp, if frozen. Prepare crisp tortilla shreds. Set aside.

In a large saucepan cook the onion and cumin seeds in hot oil about 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Carefully add chicken broth, undrained tomatoes, cilantro and lime juice.

Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 8 minutes. Stir in shrimp and chicken. Cook about 3 minutes more or until shrimp turn pink, stirring occasionally. Top each serving with tortilla shreds.

Makes 6 servings (7 and 3/4 cups).

Crisp Tortilla Shreds

Brush four 5 1/2-inch corn tortillas with 1 tablespoon cooking oil. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper; sprinkle mixture on tortillas. Cut tortillas into thin strips. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a 350 F oven about 8 minutes or until crisp.

Nutrition information per serving: 240 cal., 7 g total fat (1 g saturated), 76 mg chol., 1,356 mg sodium, 21 g carbo., 1 g fiber, 23 g pro.

Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens’ “America’s Ethnic Cuisines

Chunky Chipotle Pork Chili

1 small onion, chopped
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 tablespoon cooking oil
12 ounces pork tenderloin, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 yellow or red sweet pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup beer or beef broth
1/2 cup bottled picante sauce or salsa
1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped canned chipotle chili pepper in adobo sauce (see note)
15-ounce can small red beans or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup dairy sour cream
Fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley sprigs (optional)

In a large saucepan, cook onion and garlic in hot oil over medium-high heat about 3 minutes or until tender.

Toss pork with chili powder and cumin; add to saucepan. Cook and stir until pork is brown. Add sweet pepper, beer or beef broth, picante sauce or salsa, and chipotle chili pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat.

Cover and simmer about 5 minutes or until pork is tender. Stir in beans; heat through. Serve with sour cream. If desired, garnish with cilantro or parsley.

Makes 4 main-dish servings.

Note: When handling hot chili peppers, wear plastic or rubber gloves to prevent skin burns. Disposable plastic gloves from a pharmacy or paint store are ideal. If skin burns should occur, wash the area well with soapy water. If the juices come into contact with your eyes, flush them with cool water to neutralize the chili pepper oil.

Nutrition information per serving: 328 calories; 11 g total fat (4 g saturated); 65 mg cholesterol; 625 mg sodium; 29 g carbohydrate; 7 g fiber; 26 g protein.

Better Homes and Gardens’ “All-Time Favorites Soups and Stews,”

Stuffed Pepper Soup

2 pounds ground beef, browned and drained
1 (28 ounces) can tomato sauce
1 (28 ounces) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup uncooked rice
2 cups chopped green pepper (about 2 peppers)
2 beef bouillon cubes
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook all night on the low setting.

Or, place all ingredients in a large soup pot and simmer, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours.

Chili in a Biscuit Bowl

Vegetable oil cooking spray
2 cups biscuit baking mix (recommended: Bisquick)
2/3 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Flour, for dusting the work surface
1 pound ground chuck
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
2 (14-ounce) cans Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt

Shredded sharp Cheddar
Sour cream
Sliced green onions (white and green parts)
Corn chips

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Invert a muffin tin and spray the underside with vegetable oil cooking spray.

Stir together the baking mix, milk, and cayenne. Shape into a ball. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 3 or 4 times. Divide the ball into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a 6-inch circle. Place a dough circle over the back of each muffin cup. Press around the cup to form a bowl shape. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool slightly. Remove the biscuit bowls and reserve.

Brown the ground chuck over medium heat in a Dutch oven. Add the onion and green pepper and continue to cook until the meat is completely browned and the vegetables are tender. Drain off any fat and discard. Stir in the tomatoes, beans, chili powder, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 35 minutes.

When ready to serve, spoon the hot chili into the biscuit bowls. Garnish with shredded cheese, sour cream, sliced green onions, and corn chips.

Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

Ham, Potato and Leek Soup

2 tablespoons butter
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only
4 cups chicken broth
2 large russet potatoes
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 cups diced ham
1/2 cup cream or half-and-half
Salt to taste

Wash and thinly slice leeks; peel and cube potatoes. Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add leeks, and cook 5 minutes. Add broth, potatoes and white pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer about 25 minutes or until tender. Cool slightly and purée. Add ham; stir in cream and season to taste. Reheat before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

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Parmesan Potato Wedges

3 medium (5- to 6-ounce) yellow potatoes
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 medium red bell pepper
1 medium green bell pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Leave skin on and cut potatoes into 1-inch wedges. Place potato pieces in large bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil; toss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan; toss and arrange potato pieces in a single layer on nonstick baking sheet. Roast, turning once about halfway through roasting, in preheated 425-degree oven 15 minutes, or until golden brown and tender.

Meanwhile, seed and cut bell peppers into 1-inch strips. Toss in bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil; place among potato wedges on baking sheet. Roast an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until potatoes and peppers are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 149 calories; 5 g protein; 22 g carbohydrate; 5 g fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 121 mg sodium, 3 g fiber.

Scalloped Potatoes

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
8 medium russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup grated hard cheese, such as Parmesan, Dry Jack or pecorino Romano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, parsley, and-or chives

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 12-by-9-inch ceramic or glass baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter.

Toss together the potatoes, onion, cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a large bowl. Line the bottom of the baking dish with an even layer of potatoes and onion. Dot the surface with 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter. Repeat layering until the dish is full and pour any remaining cream over the top. Press down on the potatoes so that they are an even thickness. Dot the surface with any remaining butter and sprinkle with the cheese.

Bake uncovered until the potatoes are tender, the cream is absorbed, and the cheese is golden and crisp, about 1 hour. Sprinkle the herbs on top of the dish just before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

Zucchini Cheese Squares

3 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 onion, diced
2 cups grated Cheddar
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or lemon pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
3 large eggs, beaten

Combine the zucchini and salt in a colander and toss to mix. Set aside to drain for 30 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 7- by-11-inch baking dish with butter.

Stir together the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add the onion, zucchini, cheese, thyme, and pepper. Mix well with a fork, breaking up any clumps of zucchini. Whisk together the oil and eggs in a small bowl. Pour into the zucchini mixture and mix well. Spread evenly in the baking dish.

Bake for about 35 minutes, until golden.

Let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6.

Per serving: 485 calories; 34 g fat (10 g saturated fat; 63 percent calories from fat); 29 g carbohydrates; 146 mg cholesterol; 854 mg sodium; 17 g protein; 2 g fiber.

Pineapple Pretzel Salad

1 stick margarine or butter
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 cups crushed pretzels
1 (8 ounces) package cream cheese, softened
1 (20 ounces) can crushed pineapple with juice, undrained
1 (8 ounces) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the butter in a 13- by 9-inch pan and put it in the oven until the butter melts. Remove from the oven and mix in 1/2 cup sugar and the pretzels. Without pressing the mixture into the pan, bake for 8 minutes. Remove, let cool and set aside.

In a bowl, stir together the cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the sugar, the undrained pineapple and whipped topping. Chill.

Right before serving, fold the pretzel mixture into the cream cheese mixture.

Green Onion Parker House Biscuits

1 (5.2-oz.) container boursin cheese with garlic and fine herbs
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 (12-oz.) pkg. (10) refrigerator biscuits (such as Pillsbury Golden Layers Buttermilk & Egg Biscuits)
1 egg yolk
1 tbl. water
2 tbls. grated Parmesan cheese
Sliced green onion

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheet. In a small bowl, stir together the boursin cheese and the 1/4 cup green onions. Set aside.

Unwrap biscuits. Using your fingers, gently split each biscuit horizontally into 3 disks. Place half of the biscuit pieces on the prepared baking sheet. Spread a scant 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture over each. Top each with one of the remaining biscuit pieces.

In a small bowl, use a fork to beat together the egg yolk and water. Lightly brush biscuit tops with yolk mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and additional sliced green onions.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.

Makes 15 biscuits.

Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Appetizer Magazine

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Sugar Cut-Out Cookies

31/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, mix the flour and salt. In a large bowl, stir together the butter and sugar until creamy. Stir in the egg and then the corn syrup and vanilla extract. One-third at a time, add the flour mixture until thoroughly mixed. Pat the dough into two disks, wrap them in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or until firm enough to roll. If the dough is too firm, soften at room temperature for about 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Roll the dough to a 1/4-inch thick between two pieces of waxed paper or plastic wrap. Remove the top sheet of waxed paper and cut out the cookies with cookie cutters. Using a spatula, transfer the shapes to an ungreased baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between the cookies. Sprinkle the shapes with colored sugar or sprinkles, if desired. (If the dough is too soft, place the sheet with the waxed paper and cut-out shapes in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to make it easier to remove the shapes.)

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies start to brown lightly around the edges.

Set the baking sheet on a wire rack and cool for about 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to racks and cool completely. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month and for up to 3 days at room temperature before you frost them.

Makes 12 to 50 cookies, depending on their size.


Chocolate Sugar Cookies: After the last third of flour has been added to the dough, mix in 1 ounce melted, slightly cooled unsweetened chocolate.

Lemon Sugar Cookies: For a lemon-flavored cookie, add 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel or 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Almond Sugar Cookies: Stir in 1/2 teaspoon almond extract.

Cookie Frosting

This basic frosting can be spread with a knife or small spatula or squeezed through a pastry bag onto the cookies. If you plan to pipe the frosting through the bag, make it a little stiffer by adding a little less milk.

2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
Liquid or paste food coloring (optional)

In a large bowl and using an electric mixer set at low speed, beat the confectioners’ sugar, butter and vanilla extract until it reaches spreading consistency. Add more sugar or a little milk, if necessary, to achieve the right texture. Stir in the food coloring until combined, if desired.

Makes about 11/2 cups.

Chewy Brownie Chip Drops

21/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
11/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
1 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together in a medium-size bowl.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, and scraping down bowl once or twice. Beat in vanilla, then eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl.

Add about one-third of flour mixture and mix on low speed. Gradually add remaining flour mixture, mixing just until blended. Stir in chocolate morsels and nuts. Drop by generously rounded tablespoon 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets.

Bake until firmed up around the edges but still a bit soft in the center, about 10 minutes (you want to keep them chewy). Slide parchment onto racks to cool cookies completely.

Good Cookie Tip: These cookies are so dark that it’s hard to gauge doneness by color. Follow these textural clues: They should be firm around the edges, yet soft in the center.

Makes 48 cookies.

Recipe from "A Baker’s Field Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies" by Dede Wilson

Soft Molasses Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar, plus more for coating the dough
1/2 cup (6 ounces) molasses
21/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
11/4 teaspoons cinnamon
11/4 teaspoons ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 large eggs
31/2 cups (143/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the molasses while mixing at slow speed, then the baking soda, salt and spices. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated. Stir in the flour. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

Shape or scoop the dough into 11/2-inch balls; a tablespoon cookie scoop works well here. Roll them in granulated sugar and put them on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between them.

Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. The centers will look soft and puffy, which is OK. As long as the bottoms are set enough to lift part way off the cookie sheet without bending or breaking, they’re ready to come out of the oven. Cool the cookies on the pan for 10 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

Makes 44 cookies.

Recipe from "The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion"

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

141/2-ounce can pumpkin
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
12-ounce package chocolate chips (I prefer milk chocolate)
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In large bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, sugar, oil, milk, vanilla, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and chocolate chips. In separate bowl, blend flour and baking powder. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and stir until well combined.

On ungreased cookie sheet, using 2 teaspoons, make small dollops of mixture. (Cookies do not bake larger; they bake to the size you make the dollop.) Bake at 375 F for 10 to 15 minutes (mine are always done in 10 minutes).

Cool on wire rack.

Makes about 24 cookies.

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Huevos Rancheros Casserole Souffle

11/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
5 to 6 Italian frying (Anaheim) peppers, about 6-inches long
12 eggs, separated
4 cups loosely packed shredded medium or sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 cup milk
2 jalapeno peppers, seeds and membranes removed, and minced, OR 2 rinsed pickled jalapenos, chopped
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 cups purchased tomato salsa, warmed

Preheat oven to 450 F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch earthenware or glass casserole.

Make an incision along each Italian frying pepper and remove the stem, seeds and membranes, keeping the pepper in one piece. Partially fill a saucepan or skillet with water and bring to a boil. Add the peppers, return water to a boil, and cook until peppers are softened, about 3 minutes. Remove and blot with paper towels. Cool completely, then line the bottom of the casserole.

In a large bowl, beat egg yolks until smooth, stir in cheese, corn, milk, jalapenos, and salt and pepper. In another bowl, whisk the whites into soft peaks, then gently fold into yolk mixture until almost blended. Scrape into the prepared casserole pan and bake in the middle of the oven until eggs are puffy and the top is lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Turn temperature to 325 degrees, and cook until the eggs are baked through but not dry, 22 to 25 minutes. A knife inserted into the center should come out almost clean. Remove and let eggs sit for a few minutes before cutting into 12 rectangles. Spoon on salsa and serve.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Whole Wheat Cherry Scones

3 cups all-purpose flour
11/2 cups whole wheat flour
11/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon plus 11/4 teaspoons baking powder
11/2 teaspoons baking soda
11/2 teaspoons kosher salt
33/4 cups old-fashioned oats
Grated zest of 2 oranges
2 cups (4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
11/2 cups dried tart cherries
11/4 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons heavy or whipping cream

In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, combine the all-purpose and whole wheat flours, 11/4 cups of the granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, oats and orange zest. Add the butter to the flour mixture and toss. With a paddle attachment at low speed, mix the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Stir in the dried cherries. Add the buttermilk and mix until the dough is evenly moistened and begins to come together.

Scoop the dough onto a lightly floured surface. With lightly floured hands, press the dough together into a ball. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Gently round and flatten each piece into a 3/4-inch-thick disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or use nonstick baking sheets.

Unwrap the disks and place on a cutting board. Cut each disk into 6 equal wedges. Brush the tops lightly with the cream and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Separate the wedges, then transfer, 2 inches apart, to the prepared baking sheets. Bake 25 minutes, or until golden, rotating the baking sheets between the upper and lower oven racks halfway through baking. Cool on wire racks. Serve slightly warm.

Makes 11/2 dozen.

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To determine whether an egg is fresh, immerse it in a pan of cool, salted water. If it sinks, it is fresh- if it rises to the surface, throw it away.

If you accidentally over-salt a dish while it's still cooking, drop in a peeled potato- it absorbs the excess salt for an instant "fix me up".

Spray your Tupperware with nonstick cooking spray before pouring in tomato-based sauces-no more stains.

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Wynkoop Brewing Company's Shepherd's Pie

For the pie crust:
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening (or lard)
2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup ice cold water

For the vegetables:
1 1/2 cups carrots, diced
1 1/2 cups celery, diced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
1 teaspoon paprika (sweet is best)

For the lamb and sauce:
1/4 cup canola oil
2 pounds lamb stew meat (use good-quality lamb for best flavor)
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons shallots, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 quarts beef stock or bouillon
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
4 bay leaves

For shepherd's pie:
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 bunch green onions, chopped
4 to 6 cups mashed potatoes (recipe of your choice)

To make pie crust: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cut the shortening into the sifted flour with a pastry cutter or by using two butter knives. Add the salt and cold water and mix with your hands until mixture comes together. If too dry, add a bit more cold water. Do not over mix. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 1/2 hour or until you are ready to use it.

For the vegetables: In a large heavy skillet or sauté pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add vegetables and spices and cook until vegetables just turn tender, about 10 minutes. They should still have some "bite" to them. Place in bowl and set aside.

Prepare mashed potatoes, using your own recipe; set aside.

For the lamb and sauce: Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or saucepan until hot.

Season meat with salt and pepper, and then carefully add lamb to oil in pan and brown meat on all sides. Do not crowd meat in pan. Cook in batches if necessary.

When meat is browned, return all meat to pan, reduce heat to medium and add shallots and garlic.

Sprinkle flour slowly over meat while stirring continually to avoid lumps. Once flour is incorporated, cook for 5 minutes, stirring continually and scraping the bottom of the pan to avoid burning.

Slowly add red wine, then stock, stirring and scraping pan sides and bottom. Add tomato paste, rosemary and bay leaves and turn up the heat to bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to one hour or until meat is tender.

Strain meat from sauce and set meat aside to cool. Remove bay leaves. Pour the sauce in a medium saucepan and cover; set aside on a low burner to keep warm. Stir occasionally to keep skin from forming.

To assemble the pie: Spray a 9-by-13-by-2 glass or metal casserole dish with nonstick spray. Spread pastry dough over bottom of dish and up the sides, pressing to make the dough thin and even. Cut off any excess dough at top of dish.

Spread 2 cups of the mashed potatoes evenly across the pie crust. Place half of the lamb meat on top of the potatoes.

Top the lamb meat with all of the vegetable mixture and then add the remaining lamb meat.

Cover the dish with enough mashed potatoes to fill the casserole.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or until casserole has an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

When cooked, remove pie from oven and top with Parmesan cheese and return to oven until cheese is lightly browned.

To serve: Ladle hot lamb sauce into a wide serving bowl and place a serving of pie on top, or place pie on a plate and spoon sauce on top.

Garnish with some chopped green onions, if desired.

Nutritional information per serving: 976 cal., 63 g fat (22 g sat.), 98 mg chol., 66 g carb., 3211 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 33 g pro.

Serves 8

LoDo, Colorado

Spago's Apple Strudel Turnovers
The pastry chefs at Spago make fresh strudel dough, but we call for packaged phyllo here. For the breadcrumbs, finely grind crustless white sandwich bread in a processor, then toast the crumbs in a 350°F oven until dry, about 10 minutes. You'll need two 14-cube ice-cube trays for the filling.

2 1/4 pounds Braeburn or Fuji apples (about 6 medium), peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
28 13x9-inch fresh phyllo pastry sheets or frozen, thawed (about 3/4 pound)
1 1/4 cups lightly toasted fresh breadcrumbs

Vanilla ice cream

Mix apple cubes and lemon juice in medium bowl. Mix 1 cup sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and white pepper in small bowl to blend. Melt 1/4 cup butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat and stir constantly until butter browns, about 3 minutes. Add 1/3 cup water, then sugar mixture and cook until syrup turns deep amber color, stirring constantly, about 4 minutes. Mix in brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Add apple cubes with lemon juice; cook until juices are thick and spoon leaves path when drawn across bottom of pan, about 13 minutes. Add molasses and stir to blend. Divide apple mixture equally between two 14-cube ice-cube trays. Freeze until frozen, at least 4 hours. (Frozen apple cubes can be prepared 1 month ahead. Cover; keep frozen.)

Melt remaining 1 cup butter in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stack 14 phyllo sheets on work surface. Trim phyllo stack to form 13x8-inch rectangle. Cut stack in half lengthwise, forming two 13x4-inch stacks; place on top of each other. Cover with plastic wrap, then damp kitchen towel. Repeat with remaining 14 phyllo sheets, forming second stack. Place 1 phyllo strip on work surface. Brush lightly with melted butter. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon breadcrumbs. Top with second phyllo strip. Brush lightly with melted butter; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon breadcrumbs. Remove 1 frozen apple cube from ice-cube tray; return remaining cubes to freezer. Place frozen apple cube on lower short end of prepared phyllo strip. Turn bottom right corner of strip over apple cube so that bottom edge lines up with left side. Continue folding up phyllo, flag-style, creating triangle and enclosing apple cube. Brush triangle with melted butter; place on rimmed baking sheet and transfer to freezer. Repeat with remaining pastry strips and apple cubes. (Turnovers can be made 2 weeks ahead. Cover; keep frozen.)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake strudel turnovers on rimmed baking sheets until golden brown, about 13 minutes. Serve strudel turnovers warm with vanilla ice cream.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Chef Sherry Yard
Spago, Beverly Hills, CA

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Mom's Banana Dessert

2 cups whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar, or a little more if you like it sweeter
15 cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (recommended: Oreo), crushed
4 bananas, sliced
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
2 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted

Whip the cream with the sugar until peaks form.

Fill a large glass bowl with half the banana slices and half the whipped cream. Repeat layers with remaining ingredients. Drizzle chocolate syrup over the top layer of whipped cream. Scatter the toasted pecans over all and serve.

Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

Creamy Caramel Apples

1 bag caramels
1 can Eagle Brand milk
1 (8-ounce) carton Cool Whip
Sliced apples
Chopped nuts

In fondue pot, melt peeled caramels and Eagle Brand milk.

Then add container of Cool Whip and stir mixture.

Slice apples in bowl, pour some caramel mixture over them and sprinkle nuts on top.

Cranberry Fudge Cake

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1-oz. block of unsweetened baking chocolate
1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (a tiny amount)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup jellied cranberry sauce

Have oven heating to 375 degrees. Line an 8-inch round cake pan with foil. This is a one-layer cake. Coat foil with cooking spray. Dust with flour, tapping out excess.

Microwave the 2/3-cup of chocolate chips with butter and unsweetened chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl on high for 1 minute. Stir smooth. Return to microwave for 30 more seconds, if necessary, to totally melt the chocolate.

(Editor’s note: You might want to chop the block of unsweetened chocolate into coarse pieces to further reduce melting time. Remember that chocolate holds its shape when micro-melted until it’s stirred).

Stir in the cranberry sauce and sugar, mixing well. Add the eggs, vanilla, flour (just 1/4 cup) and baking powder. Stir well. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until the center is just set and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan 30 minutes. Refrigerate one hour or until cold.

For the glaze: Microwave the cream and chocolate chips in a medium-sized, microwave-safe bowl for 1 minute on high. Stir until smooth. Return to the microwave for 30 more seconds, if necessary to melt chocolate. Add the jellied cranberry sauce, mixing well.

Turn the chilled cake out onto a flat serving plate. Remove foil. Spread the glaze over the top, allowing some to drip down the sides of the cake layer. Chill about 1 hour or until glaze is firm. Can be made a day ahead. Store at room temperature.

Yield: 10 servings

Coconut Tapioca Pie

1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk or “lite” coconut milk (not crème of coconut)
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
2 eggs
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
3/4 cup whipping cream
9-inch ready-made chocolate or vanilla cookie pie crust (or use gingersnaps for a homemade crust)
Yield: 8 servings from one 9-inch pie

In a medium-size saucepan, whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, tapioca and egg. Mix thoroughly and let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast the coconut in a dry skillet over a high heat, stirring constantly until it turns golden brown. Pour onto a plate to cool.

Cook coconut milk-tapioca mixture over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until it comes to a full boil. Remove from heat and mix in the vanilla and coconut extracts. Set saucepan in a bowl of ice water and stir filling until cold, about 4 minutes.

Whip heavy cream in medium bowl until stiff. Carefully add filling (so as not to lose air in cream) to whipped cream and gently fold together until mixed. Spoon into pie shell and sprinkle edges with toasted coconut. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes and serve.

Chocolate Delight

1 (18 1/2-ounce) package devil's food chocolate cake mix
3 (3 1/2-ounce) packages instant chocolate pudding mix, regular or sugar free
2 cups whipping cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
Chocolate sauce or syrup, any variety, for garnish
1 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted

Prepare the cake mix according to package directions and bake in a 13 by 9-inch pan. Let it cool thoroughly, then cut the cake into cubes about the size of walnuts.

Prepare the chocolate pudding according to package directions.

In a medium bowl, whip the cream with the sugar until stiff.

To assemble: In a trifle bowl, layer half the chocolate cake cubes, pudding, whipped cream, chocolate sauce or syrup and nuts. Repeat, layering the remaining ingredients, ending with whipped cream and nuts. Drizzle decoratively with chocolate sauce or syrup.

All-American Apple Pie

Pastry dough:
2 1/2 cups pastry flour
1/2 cup butter (refrigerated)
1/4 cup vegetable shortening (refrigerated)
1/4 cup Philadelphia cream cheese (refrigerated)
1/2 cup ice water
2 tablespoons milk powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Place pastry flour in a mixing bowl. Add refrigerated butter, vegetable shortening and cream cheese to the pastry flour. Rub ingredients with hands in a cutting motion until 1/2 inch marble-sized pieces are formed.
Combine ice water, milk powder, salt and sugar, and stir until dissolved.

Form a small well or indentation in the middle of the flour mixture. Add ice water mixture to the well and incorporate flour small amounts at a time. Knead until a ball is formed. Take care not to over-mix as dough will lose tenderness. Do not add additional flour if dough appears to be a bit tacky.

Remove dough and flatten with hands on parchment paper. Wrap to enclose dough and place in refrigerator for a period of at least 45 minutes.

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch salt
2/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
7 large Ginger Gold apples

Place flour, cornstarch, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and walnuts in a bowl. Mix until ingredients are well blended and place on the side.

Place lemon juice in a separate mixing bowl. Peel apples one at a time, remove core, slice into 1/2 inch thick slices. Place sliced apples immediately into lemon juice and coat. Repeat procedure until all apples are completed.

Sprinkle flour mixture over sliced apples and lemon juice. Fold together until ingredients are well mixed. Cover and refrigerate until pie crust is rolled out.

To assemble pie:
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
3 heaping tablespoons of orange marmalade

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Remove pastry dough from refrigerator. Remove 1 to 2 ounces of dough to form Liberty Bell garnish. Shape into a bell approximately 3 inches in length and 2 inches in width and set aside. Cut the remaining dough in half with a dough cutter. Set one half aside.

On a floured surface shape pastry dough into a circle. Lightly flour top of dough and roll out until dough is approximately 1/8 inch think and 12 inches in diameter. Try to keep dough round and even as it is rolled out.

Fold rolled dough in half, then in quarters and place in deep dish pie pan. Trim crust until approximately 1/4 inch overhangs the edge of the pie pan.

Place refrigerated Liberty Bell pie filling into bottom crust. Be sure to layer apple slices in, allowing them to be a bit higher in the middle. Spot butter randomly on to top of apple mixture.

Roll out remaining half of pastry dough to approximately 1/8-inch-thick. Using a knife or pastry wheel trim dough to 10 1/2 inches in diameter. Cut 12 vent holes, in groups of three, using a small teardrop cutter, at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, allowing room in the center of the pie for the Liberty Bell Garnish. Carefully fold dough in half and in quarters.

Make an egg wash by beating the egg well, then mixing in the milk. Wash the edge of the bottom crust in the pie pan with egg wash.

Apply the top crust and unfold. The top crust should overhang the bottom crust by approximately 11/2 inches. Tuck the top crust under the bottom crust and fold on to the pie pan. Be sure to crimp crust edge together to seal entire pie.

Form a rope border by placing the thumb on pastry crust edge at an angle and pressing knuckle into crust toward the thumb. Repeat until entire edge is formed.

With a pastry brush wash entire top of pie thoroughly. Place Liberty Bell garnish in center of pie and brush with egg wash.

Place pie in oven and reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for approximately one hour or until pie is light golden brown and filling begins to bubble through vent holes. Remove pie from oven and place on cooling rack.

Place orange marmalade into a glass dish and warm in microwave for 30-45 seconds or until bubbling. Brush the orange marmalade onto the entire top of the pie.

Allow finished pie to cool for at least two hours before serving.

Pumpkin Ring Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1 cup fresh or canned pumpkin puree

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-cup bundt pan and dust it with flour, tapping out any extra.

Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg together in a medium bowl.

Place the eggs, sugar, and oil in a large mixing bowl, and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Add the flour mixture and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary. Mix in the pumpkin puree.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it with a spatula; the batter should come about halfway up the sides of the pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and immediately invert it onto a wire rack. Unmold the cake and allow it to cool completely. Covered with a cake dome, Pumpkin Ring Cake will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days. Wrapped in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil, it can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Recipe from “Dessert University: More than 300 Spectacular Recipes and Essential Lessons from White House Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier”

Baked Apples with Walnuts and Brandy Cream

6 large apples
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon

Scoop out the inside of the apples and place on a baking sheet. Mix together walnuts, raisins, butter, sugar, flour and cinnamon. Fill each apple with walnut mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until apples are soft. Top with Brandy Cream.

Brandy Cream:

1 cup whipping cream
3 Tbs brandy
3 Tbs brown sugar

Mix ingredients together with an electric mixer or whisk until fluffy.

Serves 6

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