Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

We're creatures of habit, and on Thanksgiving, I enjoy the traditional turkey and common side dishes, but always like to make a unique or different dish.  Over the years our Thanksgiving menus change very little... but we tend to have an ecclectic mix of dishes with everyone in the house being responsible for one or two of their own favorite dishes. 

Here's our menu this year

I'm always open to trying new dishes and improving upon the classics. What are your most cherished recipes or ideas? I'd love to hear what you serve the ones you love on the day we give thanks.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Lobster July 2011

Yesterday my fiance made me lobster for dinner. 

I didn't let him see me but I was snickering when I saw he made the salad in a big pot instead of a bowl
(he must not have been able to find a clean bowl -- how resourceful!)

my plate

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


My honey brings home loaves of french bread but sometimes they get stale before we can finish them and that invites me to make bruschetta!! :)
(I'll be honest, this time the loaf wasn't stale, I was just drooling over the idea of eating it, so I made it. :))

I chopped up 3 ripe tomatos (I like the ones on the vine) and 2 scallion onions:

Then I chopped up some fresh basil leaves:
They come off my pretty little basil plant. Ain't she a beauty? :)

 After adding the basil to the tomatos/scallion, I added a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and olive oil:

Then I toasted slices of french bread that had been rubbed with garlic:

Spread the tomato mixture over the toasted bread and wallah!
(this picture wasn't taken quickly enough... a few slices were already snatched off the tray before I could take a photo, lol!)
Bon Appetit! :)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chicken Penne Broccoli with Philadelphia Cooking Creme

Today I've decided to post even though I didn't cook from scratch, I sorta cheated, with Philadelphia Cooking Cream (original sauce).   I'm a fan. ☺ They have lots of good recipes on the containers that I've yet to try.  If you try them, let me know how they are!
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 1.5 pound boneless, skinless chicken, cut up into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 container of Philadelphia Cooking Creme (original flavor was my choice)
  • 1 box penne pasta (or any shape pasta you choose)
  • Seasonings to taste (I used salt, pepper, Goya's Adobo all purpose seasoning and Goya's Sazon con culantro y achiote (coriander & annatto). 

1.  Boil water with a dash of salt/oil, then add pasta.

2.  Cut up broccoli florets and steam (lack of steamer, I use a colander that I place into a big pot that has a small amount of boiling water at the bottom then cover with a lid).

2.  Drizzle oil into pan, add chopped onion (cooking note:  you can prevent tearing up when chopping onions by cutting off the top but not the root - the root contains the most enzymes that produce tear evoking gases).  Stir until translucent then add garlic.

3.  Add cut up chicken and cook, stirring constantly until no longer pink.  Add seasonings.

4.  Stir in Philadelphia Creme Sauce, then drained broccoli and lastly, pasta.  Sprinkle with cheese when serving.  Yumlicious!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

American Chop Suey (aka Chili Mac)

  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 large Onion, chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 small Green Bell Pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 pound Ground Beef or Turkey
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 teaspoon each Chili Powder, Cumin, Oregano and Pepper
  • 1 -2 teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 2 cans (14 oz.) diced or Stewed Tomatoes
  • 1 can (14 oz.) Tomato Sauce
  • 3 cups (1 box uncooked) Elbow Macaroni 

In a large pot, cook the pasta until al dente.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper, stirring occasionally, until soft.
(I didn't have bell pepper on hand so I chopped up some peperoncini's, which my family is VERY fond of).

Add the ground meat and continue to cook until the meat is no longer pink.  Drain, if necessary.

Sprinkle the meat mixture with chili powder, cumin, oregano and pepper, add salt to taste, and mix well.

Add the canned tomatoes with their juices and the tomato sauce.  Simmer for about 20 minutes (or longer) so all the flavors melt together.

 Mix the the sauce into the macaroni.  Remove from heat and stir to coat pasta evenly. 

Garnish big bowlfuls with shredded cheese and chopped scallions (sorry no picture with scallions).   We used sharp cheddar.

Note:  Dish is even better the following day, when the ingredients have had time to mesh together.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Oatmeal Cookies

These are a favorite because they aren't too sweet and I trick myself into thinking that because they are oatmeal they are good for me. :D  I was slow on taking pictures while making them but here is the recipe!

Recipe obtained from Quaker:

·  1  cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
·  3/4  cup firmly packed brown sugar
·  1/2  cup granulated sugar
·  2  eggs
·  1  teaspoon vanilla
·  1-1/2  cups all-purpose flour
·  1  teaspoon baking soda
·  1  teaspoon ground cinnamon
·  1/2  teaspoon salt (optional)
·  3  cups Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
·  1  cup raisins (optional)


Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy.

Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.
Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well.
Add oats and raisins; mix well.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown.

Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely.
Store tightly covered.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Stuffed Cabbage

In Greek: λαχανοντολμάδες, pronounced lah-hah-no-dol-MAH-thes
Stuffed cabbage with ground beef and rice are covered with a traditional egg and lemon (avgolemono) sauce. Conventional Greek wisdom is that the best cabbage can be found after the first frost, so all versions of stuffed cabbage are winter favorites.
In Northern Greece, stuffed cabbage called yiaprakia (γιαπράκια, say: yah-PRAHK-yah), are made with toursi (brined) cabbage and ground pork, and are a traditional Christmas dish.

My Greek grandmother used to make this dish when I was little and it always made me feel cozy.  She taught my mother and my mother taught me.  I always think of them when I make this dish. :)

·         1 head of cabbage
·         1 pound ground meat (beef, pork or turkey)
·         2 (14.5 oz) cans of either stewed or diced tomatoes
·         1 onion, chopped
·         2 garlic cloves, crushed
·         1-1 1/2 cups rice
·         Salt/pepper/seasonings to taste


Put ground meat in a bowl and add rice, onion/garlic, tomatoes, seasonings and stir well, then set aside.  My mom used to say it was better to let this sit for awhile so all the flavors blend with each other.

Core out the center of the cabbage and put into a large pot of water to boil.  Your goal is to slowly begin to peel the leaves off, one by one.  After about 5 minutes in boiling water the leaves start to soften, they will turn a brighter green.  I pull mine off with thongs and set aside to cool.  Be careful not to overcook the cabbage.

Note:  Some chefs like to first put their cabbage head in the freezer; however, my Greek grandma Stassa never put her cabbage head in the freezer -- so I don't either. You are welcome to try it if you like.

Once all the leaves are pulled apart, drain the pot and put a few loose baby cabbage leaves back in the bottom to prepare for the stuffed cabbage rolls.  This will prevent the rolls from burning the bottom of the pot.

Using the largest cabbage leaves, place about a handful of the meat and rice mixture on each cabbage leaf.

and roll up, tucking in sides.


Place the cabbage rolls with the seam side down in the cooking pot (I usually put a few leaves that are torn and pieces of the cabbage core at the bottom of the pot so the rolls dont burn), doing layers in a circle in the pot. 

Add water to fill pot halfway.  You can sprinkle peppercorns and add bay leaves on top and cover with any remaining loose cabbage leaves.

Cook on high until water begins to boil, then turn down heat to a simmer and allow to cook for 1 hour.

Drain the water and pull rolls out of the pot one by one.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Walnut Balls (cookies)

These walnut balls have been a family favorite for as long as I can remember.  My mom used to bake them for special occasions and mail them to family in other states for Christmas.  I recently had a death in the family and made them for my Godmother. 
Walnut Balls (makes 4 dozen)


* 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
* 1/3 cup powdered sugar, plus additional 1/3 to coat cookies
* 2 cups flour
* 1 cup nuts (I use walnuts but you can use almonds or pecans if you choose)
* 1 teaspoon water
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


1.  Combine butter and 1/3 cup powdered sugar.


2.  Beat until creamy.

3.  Chop your nuts until fine.

4.  Stir in flour, nuts, water, vanilla and cinnamon into butter/sugar mixture.  Mix well.

5.  Roll into 1-inch balls and place on UNGREASED cookie sheet.

6.  Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

7.  Roll in powdered sugar.  It is best to roll in powdered sugar while still warm.

I like to use a baggie to fill with sugar then dunk/roll the cookie to coat evenly.

Though you can't tell, I like to use metallic liners to put the cookies in... the liners look like this

My photo of the actual cookies in metallic liners looks like this
(lousy photo from above and I was in a hurry):

Super simple and super yummy!