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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Maple-Dijon Salmon

Combine the following in a small bowl.  Cover and let set for several hours.
1/4 C maple syrup
2 T Dijon mustard
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Preheat grill.  Brush salmon with oil.  Grill 4 minutes on each side, basting with the sauce.
1 lb. salmon fillets

This time I broiled the salmon two ways.  One on a foil-lined pan for easy clean-up.  The second on a cedar board which was soaked in water before baking.  Both were delicious.

The salmon can be purchased ahead and frozen, or bought fresh close to the day you choose to cook it.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Beef Broccoli

Beef Broccoli is one of my favorite Asian dishes, and one that most of my family will eat.  I remember finding this version among my mother-in-law's recipes, a remnant from her days learning to cook.  She truly could not boil water when she married, but attended class after class until she was quite adept in the kitchen.  I learned a lot from her and spent many hours trying to write a "recipe" for her "a little bit of this" and "a pinch of that" style cooking.

I haven't made Beef Broccoli in a long while, but did so recently and once again fell in deep-like with this recipe.  I left out the onions for my family, and we still enjoyed the flavor of the meat served over rice.

Slice the meat thinly across the grain.  Add baking soda and water and let stand for several hours or overnight.
1 lb. beef flank or other thin cut
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 C water

Combine the following ingredients and mix well.  Set aside. 
1/4 C soy sauce, reduced sodium
2 T oyster sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat a wok or heavy frying pan.  Add the oil and stir fry the meat until no longer pink.  Remove the meat.  Add the broccoli and green onions.  Toss for a few minutes and return the meat.  Add the sauce and stir until it thickens.  Serve at once.
2 T oil
2 C broccoli florets blanched for 1 minute
3 green onions, cut into 2-inch lengths

This meal is best prepared fresh, however, you can purchase the meat and freeze it, along with a bag of frozen broccoli.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

French Bread Pizza

Need a quick after school snack?  How about an easy weekend dinner?  Have a small army of friends to feed?  Here's a great option.

Slice a loaf of French Bread lengthwise.  Spread pizza sauce over each half.  Generously sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the sauce.  Lay pepperoni or other meat over cheese.

Broil until cheese is melted.  Cool slightly before slicing and serving.
Do not expect leftovers.

One Happy Kid!
What can you do ahead?
Keep pizza sauce in your pantry.  Freeze a pint-sized baggie of pepperoni or salami.  Freeze the cheese.  If it's shredded it will thaw quickly and can be crumbled pretty easily.  Run to the store to buy fresh bread for a tastier pizza!

Planning to be a Short-order Cook, Almost

It's only 8am, but dinner is ready to go!  Every morning I take a look at my dinner calendar and take out the listed food from my freezer.  Today it's Joes to Go (sloppy Joes) and Meatball Sandwiches so that all of my family members will eat dinner.'

Do two meals count as being a short-order cook?  I guess not really when you think of going to a restaurant and ordering a different meal for each family member.  However, if I can meet the taste buds of six people with only two flavors, I count myself blessed!

Some of us will be eating Joes to Go.  This is my FAVORITE recipe for sloppy Joes originally posted Sept-21-2012.  This sauce will be served on small dinner rolls in an attempt to use up the extra bread from another meal.  Topped with a sprinkle of cheese they are a good portion, although my taste buds always want more.

The others will be eating Meatball Sandwiches.

  • French rolls
  • Purchased Italian-style meatballs
  • red sauce - spaghetti or pizza
  • mozzarella cheese, shredded

Warm meatballs according to package directions (about 6 per French roll).  Spoon onto French rolls.  Drizzle or cover with sauce to taste.  Sprinkle generously with cheese.  Serve warm.

Add a tossed salad or fresh fruit and you have a quick and easy meal!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Soft Spice Bars are a Perfect Fall Treat

It's always fun to have someone ask for a recipe isn't it?  I am especially inspired by these requests lately as I have ideas for two cookbooks that I'd love to write and publish.  Well, honestly, not write, but certainly publish.  I've often wished that I had a ticker-tape feature in my head such that all those great letters, emails, thank you notes, blogs and such would just be spit out in written form without my having to type a single thing.  Perhaps someday as I hear there are programs getting very close to that kind of technology.  But back to the recipe at hand, Soft Spice Bars.

I discovered the original recipe in the Taste of Home Cookbook in 2000 and have found it to be a surefire treat in the fall.  (I have tweaked it to fill a half-sheet baking pan.) In fact, I incorporated it into our menu for the Honduran Women's Bible Conference with great success.  It has just the right amount of spice and really does stay soft, but is not gooey.  We served it this weekend at a church event promoting the conference and once again were asked, "Can I have the recipe?" 

Cream together
1 1/2 C melted butter
2 C sugar
1/2 C molasses, I prefer Grandma's brand

Beat in 2 eggs

Mix in:
4 C flour
4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. salt

Spread this into a greased half-sheet baking pan or jelly roll pan.  Sprinkle with 4 T sugar.  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes.  Do not over bake.  Cool before cutting.

Yield:  In Honduras I cut this into 24 bars (cut 4 by 6).  You can also get 32 nice sized portions (cutting 4 by 8) or 48 mini-bars cutting 6 by 8.  These are not inches, but the number of cuts made into the pan.  I try to avoid odd numbers, but even the 6 rows can lead to some unevenness unless you use a ruler and run your knife along the ruler's edge as with a rotary cutter in crafting.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

End-of-the-Month Redo

It's hard to believe that another month of menus has gone by!  Also, a little sad to think that the food is nearly gone, and I'll have to cook again.  I have done a lot of skipping around on this month of meals to accommodate changes in schedules and such.  I also found some meat on a great sale, and then the Orange Chicken was on sale at Costco.   I started to write them in at the end of the calendar.  However,  I am finding the menu calendar very cluttered.  In fact, before grocery shopping this week, I had to order the meals so I'd know when to cook what, but it was still hard to read.  Now that I've written this list, I'll simply print it out and put it on the cupboard door.  Do you get the picture that a menu is fluid?  This half hour of researching the freezer and typing has just bought me three more weeks of meals!  Hurrah!

1-W      Italian Sausage Pizza and spinach salad
2-Th     Overnight Salad, cornbread muffins
3-F       Tortellini with white sauce, garlic bread
4-Sa      Family Party - bring Hawaiian Pork Roast 
5-S        Baked Potato Bar (Potluck gathering)
6-M      Joe's to Go, steamed veggies  AND Meatball Sandwiches  
7-T       Chicken Divan (make fresh), biscuits and broccoli 
8-W      Peanut Butter Chicken, rice, creamed corn
9-Th     Porkchops (need to choose a recipe)
10-F     Rigatoni with Spinach sauce
11-Sa   Broccoli Soup and fresh baked bread
12-S     Lasagna, garlic bread, salad (Potluck gathering) 
14-T     Orange Chicken and Rice
15-W    Porkchops -
16-Th   Halloween! Spaghetti (just like my mom used to serve on Halloween)
17-F     Birthday dinner - Tri Tip roast
18-Sa   Backribs
19-S     Potluck - Choose theme

Monday, October 14, 2013

Baked Potato Leftovers Become Twice-Baked Potatoes

We have been hosting a series of themed potlucks with a group of friends as we prepare to launch a church.  Each week we gather with foods that reflect the theme and have enjoyed South of the Border, Breakfast for Dinner, International Foods, and Southern Comfort Food.  Included on the table last night were BBQ pork, Fried chicken, baked potatoes, Macaroni and Cheese and lots of pie.  Fattening and yummy, the meal was a delight to our taste buds!

Nine small/medium baked potatoes ended up in my fridge.  What to do?  Twice-Baked Potatoes, of course!  The time-consuming part of this recipe is the pre-baking which had already been done.  I had removed them from the foil and put them in the fridge all night.  Today, I cut them in half, longwise and scooped out the potato leaving just a bit along the skin.  I used an ice cream scoop to carefully capture the potato.

Next, warm the potato with butter and milk.  For these nine potatoes I used about 1/4 C butter and a scant 1/2 C milk/cream.   Beat until mostly smooth and add a good handful of shredded cheese and a good handful of crumbled bacon.  You may also add sliced green onions, garlic or any other baked potato toppings that you enjoy.  Mix well.

Place potato shells on a cookie sheet or 9x13" pan.  Spoon the filling back into each shell.  Sprinkle with cheese and bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until warm all the way through.  Let set for a few minutes before serving.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Slow-Cooked Lemon Chicken

In a hurry both in the morning and evening?  This is a great dinner solution.

Place a whole chicken in the crock pot and add the sauce below.

1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 C water
3 T lemon juice
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. Better than Bouillon, Chicken flavor

Cook for several hours on low.  Serve with rice and steamed broccoli.

I usually clean and freeze the chicken in a Ziploc-style bag until I am ready to cook it.  Just remember to defrost it the night before, or add several hours to the cooking time if it is partially frozen.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

It's Not the Way I Planned It!

Ah yes, fall has come and with it the freedom to bake away and heat up the house.  I came home from running errands highly motivated to begin baking.  There was already a roast in the crock-pot.  I made mashed potatoes, a pumpkin cake, and assembled a bread pudding to bake for breakfast before I finally set my sights back on the to-do list for the day.  None of this items had been on it.  Oh well. 

But back to the roast.  I had intended to serve this Hawaiian style pork roast with a sweet and sour sauce I found in the pantry and a can of pineapple (which I'd stopped to buy) over a fresh pot of rice.  On the side would be a Sumi salad with mandarin oranges and colorful cabbage.  All this to be followed with the pumpkin cake for dessert.  Well...

daughter number 2 came home with boyfriend in tow and they needed a snack, so some pork was donated, and they ate it on French rolls before running out the door...
son  number 2 came along and ate the pork plain with a heap of mashed potatoes...
hubby came home and made himself a pork sandwich with a side of salad...
son number 1 came home and ate something because there was less in each of the dishes this morning...(I checked the fridge)
and daughter number 1 never did eat this meal.
The pineapple is still in the can.  The rice never got cooked. The sauce was opened and drizzled on the meat on the French rolls.
And tonight, I do not have to cook!

It seems that  many of our meals are now being served at various "seatings" similar to a cruise ship but minus the fancy table settings.  First round is about 4:30/5:00 and it continues throughout the evening until about 10pm when the last child arrives home from school.  While it is a delight to have college kids living at home, it does wreak havoc on any sense of a family meal time.  If I'm lucky though, I get a meal with each kid nearly every day.

Hawaiian Pork Roast
(Yet another favorite from a Taste of Home Magazine, tweaked for size.)

5 lb. pork roast, rinsed
5 tsp. liquid smoke
5 tsp. soy sauce
2 unpeeled, ripe bananas

My crock-pot version...Create an "addition sign" with foil and lay it in the crock pot.  Place the meat on the foil.  Douse with liquid smoke and soy sauce.  Lay the two bananas along the two long sides of the crock-pot.  Fold the foil over the meat and bananas.  Pour 1/2 Cup of water in the bottom of the pot.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Remove bananas and throw away. Lift out pork and place on a platter.  Serve as is or add Sweet and Sour sauce.  Couldn't be easier to put dinner on the table. 

When I buy my roast for OAM Cooking I simply freeze it and then defrost it the night before I plan to cook it.

Friday, October 4, 2013


I LOVE this dish!  Perhaps it is because it closely resembles Alice Springs Chicken at The Outback restaurant.   I never order anything else because I love it so much. 

The original recipe is called "Smothered Chicken" and was submitted to Taste of Home magazine by Penny Walton.  Pair this with a fabulous Honey Mustard and you have a delight for the taste buds - no sides needed, or maybe wanted!

1 chicken breast per person
garlic powder
seasoned salt
vegetable oil
2 cups sliced, fresh mushrooms
finely shredded cheese
8 green onions, sliced
1 C bacon bits

Penny flattens the chicken to 1/4" which is a good idea.  I've made it with un-flattened chicken breasts, but the toppings fall off more easily.  Next time, I may slice my chicken breasts horizontally so that they are flatter.  This is just one solution to my aversion of tenderizing chicken because of all the splattering of chicken juices.

Now that your chicken is ready, season it with the garlic powder and seasoned salt. I use Lawry's.  Heat a frying pan on medium and pour about 2T of oil into the pan.  Place the chicken in the pan and cover with a lid.  Cook for about 4-5 minutes.  Turn the chicken.  Cover and cook until the juices run clear, about 4 more minutes.

In a separate pan, melt about 2 T of butter.  Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until lightly browned.

Cover each piece of chicken with: mushrooms, bacon bits and cheese, topping them off with onions.  Of course, you can individualize each serving as well.

Serve with Honey Mustard.  Here's a favorite recipe of mine (tweaked of course!)

1/2 C Dijon mustard
1/2 C honey
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. white vinegar

For this recipe, I simply freeze the chicken in a Ziploc bag and prepare it fresh the night we will be eating it.  The four toppings are staples in my fridge, but if they are not, you can buy them ahead and freeze (bacon, cheese) or used canned mushrooms.  I recommend fresh green onions no matter what.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Braiding Bread Dough

This is a great fall or spring meal and could be served as an appetizer, at a tea or on a picnic.

Chicken Braid is an old recipe of mine and I wondered where I had originally gotten it.  Well, I had only to read through the instructions which were peppered with Pampered Chef tools to be reminded that it came from one of their pamphlets.  Again, I've tweaked it to our tastes.

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 C broccoli, chopped
1 C shredded cheese
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 C mayonnaise
2 tsp. dill mix (I do still use the Pampered Chef product)

2 packages refrigerated crescent rolls

Just for fun, I tried making this in my Vita-mix blender, partly because my broccoli was still frozen.  It was mostly successful, but did turn it into a spread rather than a chunky filling. I guess it can be your choice, because a spread is easier to cut!

Mix the first 6 ingredients together and set aside.
Roll out the crescent rolls into a giant rectangle on a greased jelly roll pan.

Cover the center of the rectangle with the filling.
Cut the two long sides from the edge to the filling about every inch or so.
Then braid them over the filling.
Bake at 375 degrees F for about 25 minutes.
This is one meal that I usually make fresh, although I will have cooked the chicken ahead of time and frozen it until the day it appears on my monthly  menu.  Even that step saves time!