Cooking With Patricia

Cooking Archives


Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler

Tuesday, July 4, Independence Day!  Fireworks!  Whatever your plans are, whether away for a long weekend, or having a big July 4 picnic, or even a quiet few days at home, there is something magical about fireworks on the fourth.  I have enjoyed them from a boat in Boston Harbor, a friend's backyard, a hill-top in Wolfeboro, Chatham Cape Cod Pier, and neighboring towns of Salem and Nashua.  It's a time when one is prompted to recall the sacrifice and hard work of our forefathers in building this country, and I always get goose-bumps.  What good memories!

Whatever your plans are, I hope you like this cobbler which makes good use of two fruits that are now in season, rhubarb and strawberries, and available in any market.  It's very delicious served with some vanilla ice cream on the side.  This recipe makes 6 - 8 servings.  Double the recipe if you want seconds.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of each; fresh rhubarb and strawberries, cut up

Topping

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup additional cut-up strawberries
  • Confectioners' sugar for a garnish (optional)

Mix together the 4 cups of cut-up rhubarb and strawberries.  Spoon into an ungreased, 8-inch square, baking dish.

Prepare topping by mixing together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.  In a larger mixing bowl, beat together sugar, oil, and vanilla at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  At low speed, beat in flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, until blended.  Fold in strawberries.  Spread batter evenly over fruit mixture.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about one hour.  Let cool on a wire rack.  Dust cobbler with confectioners' sugar if you like, after it is cooled.

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Frozen Chocolate Cream Pie

It's nice to see summer here after the rainy spring that we have had.  I know that I am enjoying being out in my backyard, grilling a quick supper, and occasionally making an ice cream dessert such as this chocolate cream pie.  Using the microwave makes it quick and no-cook.

Use a 9-inch pie plate; makes 6-8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup butter (or real margarine) melted
  • 1/2 cup plus 4 teaspoons chocolate chips
  • 5 tablespoons milk, divided
  • One 3 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups whipped topping, divided

In a bowl combine cracker crumbs and 3 tablespoons of the sugar.  Stir in the butter.  Press onto the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased pie plate.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons milk.  Microwave uncovered just till melted.  Stir till smooth and set aside.

In another bowl, beat the cream cheese and remaining sugar.  Stir in melted chocolate mixture and remaining milk; beat until smooth.  Fold in 3 cups of the whipped topping into the chocolate mixture.  Spoon into the crust.  Freeze 4 hours or till firm.  Use remaining whipped topping and chocolate chips to decorate top of pie.

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Picnic Potato Salad

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds potatoes (new potatoes preferred)
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 3 tablespoons minced green onions, tops and bottoms
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs, cooled and chopped

Dressing

  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup vinegar, cider or wine vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried dillweed
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Scrub potatoes with a brush.  Put in pan with just enough water to cover, add tablespoon of salt.  Cook till tender but still firm, about 15 - 20 minutes.  Don't overcook.  Cool and cut into cubes.  (No need to peel if new potatoes or red potatoes used).  Place potatoes in large bowl; add cucumber, onions, salt, pepper, and eggs.  Mix together dressing ingredients and pour over potato mixture, stirring to blend all.  Refrigerate.

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Grilled Honey-Mustard Chicken

This is good even without the sauce.  But the sauce does add that special touch if you can take the time, especially with the fresh chives.  As a suggestion, serve with potatoes baked right on the grill in aluminum foil.

Ingredients:

  • 4 each, boneless chicken breasts and thighs, skin on

Marinade:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 5 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
  • 1 cup water

Sauce:

  • Reserved marinade
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Place chicken pieces in one layer in a pan or dish.

Combine all the marinade ingredients and pour over the chicken.  (Marinade can be made a few days ahead and kept in a sealed container, refrigerated).  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 24 hours.  Turn pieces a few times.  Remove 1 hour before grilling.  Reserve marinade.

Grill chicken, skin side down first, until crispy.  Turn and grill till done, a total of 15 - 20 minutes over a moderately hot grill.

In the meantime, prepare sauce by combining marinade and cream in a non-aluminum saucepan.  Cook till reduced by half, about 15 minutes (should be fairly thick).  Whisk in chunks of butter a few at a time till blended.  Simmer only, do not boil.  If needed, strain the sauce.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over chicken with fresh chives.

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Strawberry Cream Cheese Torte

Makes a 10-inch torte, 10 - 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Cream cheese filling:
  • Two, 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • 1 pint cleaned fresh strawberries, sliced in half

Heat milk to boiling in small saucepan.  Add butter, set aside.

In large bowl, blend sugar, vanilla, and eggs.  Beat at high speed for 3 minutes until thick and lemon-colored.

Add flour, baking powder, and salt.  Beat 1 minute at low speed.  Add milk/butter mixture.  Beat 1 minute more at low speed.

Pour into a well-buttered and floured 10-inch springform pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 - 65 minutes or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool thoroughly.  Remove from pan.

Split cooled cake into 3 layers.  Fill between each layer with about 3/4 cup of cream cheese filling.  Place sliced strawberries on top of filling on each layer.

Frost cake with remainder of filling.  Decorate with more fresh strawberries.  If you like, put 1/2 cup filling through a pastry bag to decorate top with rosettes.  (Tip - You can use a zippered sandwich bag, cutting a tip off a bottom corner).

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Cashew Chicken Salad

While sitting here thinking about this week's recipe, it has also made me think of the different ways we all spend this three-day weekend.  In the past, while my children were young, this weekend always meant the start of summer, and away we would go up to the White Mountains camping and playing; you know, the round of Polar Caves, Santa's Village, etc.  A few years later we found ourselves staying home and going to a lot of Little League games, and doing yard work.  This year will find me in my small hometown of Southboro, Massachusetts, to watch the parade and hear my brother speak at a special ceremony for Veterans (he is a retired Army Colonel and Vietnam veteran).  I'm sure it is the same with most people; one never knows, as our families grow, where and how this weekend will take us.

Whatever you are doing, this delicious salad might make a nice addition to your weekend plans, whether you are going away or staying home in your own backyard.  This is pretty served on a bed of lettuce, or for a lunch, dress it up, and serve it on a fresh croissant.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cut-up cooked chicken
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 jar (2 ounces) diced pimentos, drained
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of each:  lemon juice and cider vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of each:  salt & pepper
  • 3/4 cup salted cashews

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, celery, green pepper, and pimentos; set aside.  In a blender, combine the next 7 ingredients; cover and blend till well mixed.  Add garlic, salt, and pepper to chicken mixture, toss to mix.  Pour blender ingredients over chicken and toss.  Cover and refrigerate.

When ready to serve fold in the cashews.  Serve in a lettuce-lined bowl if you like, or spoon onto open-sliced croissants.  Garnish with a few chopped cashews.  Makes about 6 servings.

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Rolled Ham & Cheese Omelet

This is impressive for any Sunday breakfast, brunch, or easy lunch.  It's an omelet rolled up and baked, and then sliced to serve.

This recipe makes about 10 slices.  Dijon mustard is a key ingredient.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 eggs
  • 2 rounded tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 1/4 cups shredded Swiss cheese (or cheddar), divided
  • 2 cups fully cooked ham, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

Grease a 15”x10”x1" baking pan.  Line bottom and sides with parchment paper.  Grease the paper and set aside.  In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and milk until smooth.  Add flour and salt; mix until combined.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until blended.  Add cream cheese mixture; mix well.  Pour into prepared pan.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes or until eggs are puffed and set.  Remove from oven and immediately spread with mustard and sprinkle with 1 cup of shredded cheese.

Sprinkle with ham, onions, and 1 cup cheese.  Roll up from a short side, peeling parchment paper away while rolling.  Sprinkle top of roll with the remaining cheese.  Bake 3 to 4 minutes longer or just until cheese is melted.  Remove from oven and slice into desired thickness.

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Strawberry Banana Split Cake

This is so easy to make but very impressive to serve.  Make this for any birthday, shower, or potluck, and it will definitely be a hit.  The fresh strawberries are what really makes it.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 32 squares)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Filling

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large firm bananas cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 cans (8 ounces each) crushed pineapple, drained very well
  • 2 quarts fresh strawberries, sliced

Topping

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Combine the crumbs, butter, and sugar; press into an ungreased 13”x 9”x 2” dish.  Chill for 1 hour.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, confectioner’s sugar, milk and vanilla.  Spread over crust; chill for 30 minutes.  Layer with bananas, pineapple, and strawberries.  In a small mixing bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form.  Add confectioner’s sugar; beat until stiff peaks form.  Spread over fruit.  Sprinkle with nuts.  Chill until serving.  Makes about 12 - 15 servings.

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Asparagus Roll-Ups

This is a unique way to fix asparagus, which is now very much in season and readily available.  Serve this as a sidedish for dinner, or as an accompaniment to soup for lunch. 

Ingredients

  • 16 fresh asparagus spears (remove hard ends from the bottom)
  • 16 slices sandwich bread, crusts removed - use the thin square sandwich bread
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 8 bacon strips, cooked crisp, and crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh or dried chives
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Place asparagus in a skillet with a small amount of water; cook until crisp-tender, about 6 - 8 minutes.  Let drain very well, set aside.

Flatten bread with a rolling pin.  Combine the cream cheese, bacon, and chives; spread 1 tablespoon on each slice of bread.  Top with an asparagus spear.  Roll up tightly; place seam side down on a buttered baking sheet.  Brush with butter and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Cut roll-ups in half.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 - 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Makes 32 appetizers.

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Homemade Salad Dressings

In anticipation of spring and summer and more fresh salad fixings available to us, I thought I would offer some easy to make salad dressings.  The first one is a maple-poppy seed dressing that is good on either a fruit salad or a spinach salad.

The second, blue cheese salad dressing, is great alone on greens or can be used as a dip with a vegetable tray.  The third is a basic Italian dressing which can be sugar free, if desired. 

If you haven’t made your own salad dressings before, you will be pleasantly surprised how fresh tasting they are, and what a difference it makes on your salad.  And they keep for weeks!

Maple-Poppy Seed Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 3 teaspoons poppy seeds

Mix all ingredients together and store in a jar at room temperature.  Will keep for several weeks.

Blue Cheese Salad Dressing

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup cider or white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard and ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed fine
  • 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese (may add more to our particular taste)

Place all ingredients in a blender, process till smooth.  Keep stored in refrigerator.  Makes 3 cups.

Italian Salad Dressing

  • 1 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon each:  ground mustard, celery seed, paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons sugar (or may use artificial sweetener equivalent)

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight lid.  Shake well and refrigerate.  Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

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Awesome Fettuccine

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound sliced bacon, diced small
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 pounds fresh tomatoes; peeled, seeded, chopped or 2 cans (14 1/2 ounce can) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon or 2 teaspoons dried tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Pinch to 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 pound fettuccine
  • Shredded parmesan cheese

In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp.  Drain on paper towels, reserve 1 tablespoon drippings.  Add oil and onions to drippings.  Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and garlic.  Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.  Stir in tarragon, salt, pepper, and cayenne; cover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, cook fettuccine according to package directions.  Add parsley to the tomato mixture; simmer 5 minutes longer.  Stir in bacon.  Drain fettuccine; top with tomato mixture.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

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Hot Cross Buns

Makes 16 buns

Also called Easter Buns, these are very often served on Good Friday.  This unique recipe uses marzipan, rolled 1/8 inch thick, and cut into small strips, to make the cross on each bun.  As an option, included below is the recipe for confectioners' icing, which is more traditionally used.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup dried currants (raisins can be used)
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped candied fruit
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour

Garnish:

  • 4 ounces marzipan OR
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons milk

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.

In a sauce pan, heat milk until bubbles appear around edges of pan.  Remove from heat.  Stir in butter, sugar, salt, and nutmeg until butter has melted.  Cool to lukewarm.

Stir milk mixture into yeast.  Add eggs, a little at a time, stirring well after each addition.  Stir in currants and candied fruit.

Beat in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a dough forms (by hand or use a heavy duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, set on medium speed).

Place dough in a large greased bowl, turning to coat.  Cover loosely with a damp cloth; let rise in a warm place till doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Grease two baking sheets.  Punch dough down.  On a floured surface, knead dough lightly for three minutes.  Roll into a long rope; cut into 16 equal pieces.  Shape each piece into a round bun.  Place two inches apart, on baking sheets.

Brush buns with a glaze of one large egg yolk mixed with one tablespoon water.

Cover loosely with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about one hour.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake until golden brown, about 20 - 25 minutes.  Place on racks to cool.

On a surface dusted with confectioners' sugar, roll marzipan into a rectangle 1/8 inch thick.  Cut into 32 four-inch strips.  Place two on each bun forming the cross.

If using icing, mix sugar and milk until smooth, place in a pastry bag and pipe a cross over each cooled bun (also you can use a small sandwich bag with a bottom corner cut off).

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Beef Brisket for Passover (Kosher)

   Passover is April 12 - 20.  This Jewish Holiday is the celebration of Pesach (Passover).  It is an eight-day observance, which commemorates the freedom of the Jewish slaves from Egypt.  This is a wonderful time of lavish meals, singing songs, and families gathering together to celebrate beautiful and traditional customs.

   In America, brisket is the traditional center of Jewish holiday meals.  This recipe is kosher for Passover and serves 8 - 10. Many cooks say it is best to make the brisket the day before you plan to serve it.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 and1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cups of homemade or canned beef broth
  • 4-5 pound beef brisket
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons matzoh cake meal

Convenient herb sack:

   Place the parsley, peppercorn and bay leaves in a 4-inch square of cheesecloth.  Tie the ends together with kitchen string.  This can easily be removed from the pan when done.

   In a small bowl, mix together the matzoh cake meal, salt, and ground black pepper with a fork.  Pat this dry rub seasoning on all sides of the meat.  In a large nonstick Dutch oven or heavy casserole pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Brown the meat on all sides, turning as needed (careful when turning as to not burn yourself with hot fat).  After browning pour off and discard excess fat.  Add the onions, herb sack, and beef stock.  Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat so the liquid barely simmers.  Cook covered, either on top of the stove or in a preheated oven 325 degrees, for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Turn the meat over when halfway done.  Check often to not let the liquid boil.

   When cooked and tender, let cool.  Refrigerate six hours or overnight.  Scrape off fat and discard.  Slice into 1/2 inch slices.  Reheat in a low oven in its juices, with added beef stock if necessary.

   Serve with pan juices and white horseradish, if desired.

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Walnut Cake

   This is a tall, three-layer, beautiful cake, definitely for the walnut lovers out there, as there are finely ground walnuts in the cake batter.  It is complimented by a delicious white butter/cream cheese frosting.

   Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups finely ground walnuts

   In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, shortening and sugar till fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, soda, and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk and vanilla.  Beat on low speed just until combined.  Stir in the walnuts.  Grease and flour three nine-inch round cake pans.  Split the batter between the three pans.  Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool for five minutes in the pans, then remove from pans to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting Ingredients:

  • Cream cheese; one 8 ounce package and one 3 ounce package, softened
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 5 to 5 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Optional - 1/3 cup chopped walnuts for decorating the top of the cake

   Beat softened cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl.  Add five cups of the confectioners' sugar; mix well.  Add vanilla and beat until smooth.  Add remaining 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar if thicker consistency is desired.  Put a cooled layer on your cake plate.  Spread frosting between each layer and sides and top of cake.  Decorate with whole or chopped walnuts if desired.  Store in the refrigerator.  Leave out at least 15 minutes before serving.

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Spicy Bean & Beef Pie

Serves 8

   A cook in Texas won a 1997 national contest with this recipe.  There were over 6,000 entries, this being the Grand Prize winner.

   It has that Southwestern flavor that has become so popular.  The recipe as is, is mild, but add cumin or chili powder to your desired taste.

Ingredients:

  • Pastry for a 10-inch double-crust pie (your own, or ready-made)
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can condensed bean with bacon soup (11 1/2 oz.) undiluted
  • 1 jar (16 oz.) thick and chunky picante sauce or salsa, divided (your choice of hot or mild)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 can (16 oz.) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups (8 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup sliced green onions, divided
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
  • 1 can (2 1/4 oz.) sliced ripe olives

   Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

   In a skillet, cook beef and garlic until beef is browned; drain.  In a large bowl combine soup, 1 cup of the picante sauce, cornstarch, parsley, paprika, salt, and pepper; mix well.  Fold in beans, 1 1/4 cup of cheese, 1/2 cup onions and the beef mixture.  Line your pie plate with the bottom pastry; fill with the bean mixture.  Top with remaining pastry, seal, and flute edges.  Cut a few slits in the top crust.

   Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting.

   Serve garnishes of sour cream, sliced black olives, picante or salsa, green onions, shredded cheese (optional).

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Irish Soda Bread - Happy St Patrick's Day!

   This is the recipe that has been used in my family for many years.  There is not a drop of Irish in any of us, but we never failed to have a corned beef dinner with accompanying Irish bread on that special day, and celebrate the many Irish friends that we have known.  My mother always made extra, as she loved it toasted with butter, along with a cup of tea, either for breakfast or a late night snack.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seed (optional; some like with, some like without)
  • 1/2 package raisins, dark or golden
  • 2 cups buttermilk

Glaze: 

  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar mixed in 1/4 cup whole milk till smooth.

Note:  There is no shortening or egg in this recipe.

   Plump and soften raisins by soaking in hot water for 10 minutes.  Drain very well.

   Sift flour, soda, salt, and sugar.  Add caraway seed and raisins and toss till well mixed.  Very gradually pour in buttermilk until dough is moist but not sticky (may not require all the milk).  Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and knead until elastic.  Dough will not be smooth.  Place in a well-greased 10-inch cast iron fry pan, or oven-proof fry pan.  May also use a deep dish 10-inch pie plate.

   Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees one hour plus 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove from pan and immediately spread glaze thinly on top.

   Makes one round loaf.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

   My Mom found this recipe in a 1994 magazine.  It became a family and neighborhood favorite, baking them at least once a month till she died in 2002.  Every time we went to visit her on the Cape, these probably could be found on her pantry counter.  My sister now bakes them for many functions, and her daughters are making it a family tradition.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup smooth or chunky peanut butter
  • 6 tablespoons butter or real margarine, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips, divided
  • 1 cup colored sugar (optional)

   Beat peanut butter, butter, brown sugar, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until creamy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Beat in flour and salt.  Stir in 2/3 cup of the chocolate chips.  Spread into a greased 9" x 13" baking pan.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 - 25 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.  Do not overcook.  Remove from the oven; immediately sprinkle on the remaining chocolate chips.  Let stand for 5 minutes; spread over top.  If you like, sprinkle lightly with colored sugar.  Cool in pan on a wire rack.  Makes about 24 cookie bars.

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Company Casserole (Mock Lasagna)

A friend of mine shared this recipe with me this past year.  It's a delicious pasta casserole, very much like lasagna.  I made it once and it was delicious.  He made it this past Thanksgiving to serve for the pasta course.  It was a big hit to say the least.  

My friend has been making this since the 1970s when he first had it at a family gathering for a graduation, and requested the recipe.  Thanks, Rich, for a good recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 28 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 8 ounces softened creamed cheese
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 pound package wide egg noodles
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Make sauce by browning the ground beef, garlic, and salt.  Add the tomato sauce and simmer slowly at least 30 minutes.

  • Mix cream cheese, sour cream and chopped onions together.
  • Cook egg noodles according to package instructions.
  • Grease a 9" x 13" baking dish with butter or margarine.
  • Layer as following:
  • 1/3 of the sauce
  • 1/2 of noodles
  • 1/2 cream cheese mixture
  • 1/2 mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 of the remaining sauce

Finish layering with the remainder of the noodles, cream cheese mixture, and mozzarella cheese.

Top with remaining sauce.

Sprinkle with 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting.

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Apricot Coconut Coffee Cake

10 - 12 servings

This fruity coffee cake with its coconut topping allows me to dream of the Caribbean a little during this cold month of February.  There is nothing like a warm piece of coffee cake with a steaming cup of hot coffee on a snowy day, and I like to bake on a cold day as well.

I hope you enjoy this.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (12 ounces) apricot filling

Topping:

  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups flaked coconut

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add milk and vanilla; mix well.  Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; add to creamed mixture. 

Beat just until moistened.  Spread half of the batter into a greased 13" x 9" baking dish.  Carefully spread apricot filling over batter; spread remaining batter over the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 - 40 minutes or until golden brown.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Stir in coconut.  Spoon over the cake.  Broil 4 inches from the heat for 1 - 2 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool for at least a half hour before cutting.

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Slow-Cooked Lamb & Vegetable Supper

Serves 4

A very easy dish to make, on the idea of a lamb stew, but this makes a delicious gravy.  This is cold weather comfort food, and is made better served with corn bread or biscuits.

Ingredients:

  • 4 bacon strips
  • 4 lamb shoulder-blade chops
  • 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced peeled potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 jar sliced mushrooms (4 1/2 oz) drained

Wrap bacon around lamb chops; secure with toothpicks.  Place in slow cooker or crockpot.  Cover and cook on high for 1 1/2 hours.  Remove chops; discard toothpicks and bacon.  Drain liquid.  Add potatoes and carrots; top with lamb chops.  Sprinkle with all the seasonings and chopped onion and garlic.  In a small bowl, combine soup and milk; mix well.  Add mushrooms.  Pour mixture over the chops.  Cover and cook on low for 4 - 6 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender.

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Light & Creamy Cheesecake

10 - 12 servings

My family loves cheesecake, but it is too rich to eat too often.  This version is lighter and healthier with lower fat and less eggs.  I have wanted to try it using half Splenda®, to cut down on the sugar, but have not done this yet.  If anyone does try this recipe doing just that, please let me know how it turns out.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups reduced-fat vanilla wafer crumbs (about 40 wafers)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or real margarine, melted
  • 1 teaspoon and 1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 package (8 ounce) fat-free cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 whole eggs and 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup sliced fresh fruit, such as strawberries or no-sugar crushed pineapple.

In a small bowl, combine wafer crumbs, butter, and one teaspoon sugar.  Press onto the bottom and a half inch up the sides of a greased 9 inch springform pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for eight minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheeses until smooth.  Combine cornstarch and remaining sugar; add to cream cheese mixture and beat well.  Add sour cream and vanilla; beat just until blended.  Add eggs and egg whites; beat on low speed just until combined.  Pour into crust.

Place pan on a baking sheet.  Bake at 325 degrees for 60 - 65 minutes or until center is almost set.  Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Carefully run a knife around the edge of pan to loosen; cool one hour longer.  Refrigerate overnight.  Remove sides of pan.  Garnish with fruit of your choice.

If I were doing this for Valentine's Day, I would decorate the top with fresh whole strawberries, shaping into a heart.  If you want something really special, dip half of each strawberry in melted chocolate.

Slice some strawberries in a bowl with a small amount of sugar or Splenda® to top each individual cheesecake slice.

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Chili Con Carne For 50

A good recipe to keep for those large gatherings.  This Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday, and this recipe could come in handy.

A gentleman in Hudson sent it to me, and I want to thank him for sharing this with us all.

This is what he said; “I've developed this chili recipe over the past 20 years, and have made it numerous times for family parties, church socials, and when I was in the military, for squadron parties, etc., once making it for 800 people at the church".

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vegetable oil or margarine
  • 6 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 medium green peppers, chopped
  • 1 bunch celery with the tops, chopped
  • 10 pounds coarse ground beef
  • 1/2 gallon red wine, (inexpensive)
  • 4 teaspoons oregano
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 - 4 teaspoons ground red pepper - cayenne (4 teaspoons would make a hot heat level)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 cans (1 1/2 ounces) chili powder
  • 6 whole peppercorns or 2 tablespoons fresh-ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 8 cans stewed tomatoes, drained, and chopped (28 ounce cans) - reserve drained liquid
  • 2 cans tomato puree (28 ounce cans)
  • 18 cans red kidney beans, undrained (16 ounce cans)

Heat oil or margarine in a large deep soup kettle (borrowed from a local church or restaurant).  Add onions, peppers, and celery.  Sauté until golden.  Add beef; brown and crumble.  Add oregano, bay leaves, sugar, chili powder, *red pepper (cayenne), black pepper, salt, red wine, and reserved liquid from tomatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add chopped tomatoes and puree.  Simmer for an additional 30 to 45 minutes or longer.  Add beans with their liquid and simmer until warmed through.  At this point, it is best if this dish is allowed to cool and marinate for 24 hours.  This allows the flavors to marinate together.

Preheat and serve with crackers and chopped raw onions.

*Note:  Be very careful with the amount of red pepper (cayenne), that you initially add.  Keep it light.  This spice gets progressively hotter as the dish is cooked down.

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Trail Mix Muffins

Hit the ski trail with a few of these in your backpack.  They are wholesome and energizing … not to mention great-tasting too.

These came in handy for my teenagers on mornings they slept till the last minute, and did not want to take the time to eat some breakfast.  Grabbing one or two of these on the way out the door was a good solution, providing them with enough energy and nutrition to last till lunch.

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granola cereal
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of each:  chocolate chips; chopped almonds, walnuts, or dry-roasted peanuts; raisins; chopped dried apricots
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray 12 standard-size muffin cups with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl mix together the flour, cereal, brown sugar, chocolate chips, nuts, raisins, apricots, baking powder, and salt.

In a smaller bowl mix together the milk, oil, egg, and vanilla.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.  Add milk mixture all at once, tossing with a fork until dry ingredients are just moistened.  (Do not over mix).  Spoon batter into muffin cups filling about three-quarters full.

Bake until tops are firm and golden, 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool in pan for a few minutes, than turn out onto rack to cool completely.

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Ninety-Minute Soft Pretzels

It's a cold and rainy day… a good day to turn the oven on and make something good.  Not only are soft, hot pretzels delicious, but they are fun to make, especially if you can get the family to help roll and twist them into shape.

Serve these plain, as is, or with a honey mustard dipping sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter or real margarine
  • 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Kosher salt

Combine water and butter in a small saucepan; heat until butter melts, stirring occasionally.  Cool to lukewarm.  Combine 1 cup flour, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and yeast in a large mixing bowl; stir well.  Gradually add warmed liquid mixture, beating at low speed until blended, then at medium speed for two more minutes.  Gradually add 3/4 cup flour, beating two more minutes.  Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes).  Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease other side.  Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, about 40 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Punch dough down; divide into 12 equal portions.  Roll each portion into a 20-inch rope.  Twist each rope into a pretzel shape.  Place about 1 1/2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets.

Combine egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl, beat until well blended.  Brush dough with egg mixture; sprinkle with kosher salt.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden.  Serve warm if desired.  Makes 1 dozen.

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Salmon Chowder

This recipe comes from my aunt in Copper Center, Alaska.  She and my uncle were teachers who moved up there in the mid-70s to teach to the poor Eskimo children who lived in the villages of the northern wilderness.  For years they themselves lived in poor conditions in order to provide some kind of education to the children and parents.  They now have a nice home in Copper Center which is about four hours east of Anchorage.  On my visit to them a few years ago she shared this recipe with me.  It is a delicious way to eat salmon, and a hot chowder just hits the spot on cold winter nights, and many of their cold nights were 50 degrees below 0.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh salmon or 1 large can
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced potatoes
  • 1/2 cup diced zucchini
  • 1 cup of frozen corn, peas, or veggie of your choice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can evaporated milk

In a large pot lightly sauté the garlic, onion, celery, and green pepper in the butter.  Add the chicken broth, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, and corn.  Add large chunks of cut-up salmon (will cook in the broth).  Add more chicken broth if too thick for you.  Add seasonings and let simmer for 30 minutes.  Add evaporated milk and simmer for an additional 20 minutes.

Delicious served with hot cornbread.

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Sautéed Chicken with Tarragon-Mustard Sauce

This recipe is low in calories and fat, but is right up there with good taste and flavor.  It also is ready to serve is less than 20 minutes.

As is, each serving is 250 calories, based on an average sized boneless chicken breast.  Makes 8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 8 small skinned, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon tarragon leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Pound chicken breasts to 1/4 inch thickness.  Sprinkle chicken with garlic salt and pepper.  In fry pan, place olive oil and heat to medium-high temperature.  Add chicken and cook, turning, about 8 minutes or until chicken is brown and fork tender.

In a bowl, mix together yogurt, mustard, tarragon, sugar, and hot pepper sauce.  Arrange chicken on serving platter.  Drizzle half of sauce over chicken, pass around remaining sauce.

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