Thursday, November 13, 2008

Waffle Dessert Bar

Last night the Young Women in our ward had their Young Women in Excellence program. In case you don't know what that is, it's a night where they recognize the young women for different achievements. The girls and their leaders did an amazing job and turned it into the "Emma" awards. They spray painted Mrs. Butterworth bottles with gold paint to give as the awards, and they all dressed up in formal gowns with their hair in updos. The cultural hall at the church was aglitter with stars--including a "star walk" with each girl's name and handprint in a star. It was awesome! Tara Reed, the Young Woman president called me and asked me to help beforehand with the updos. I hemmed and hawed because I REALLY don't know how to do hair other than slapping my own in a pony tail. So she told me that since the awards were Mrs. Butterworth's syrup bottles, they wanted waffles for a treat afterwards. Now she was speaking my language. I told her to say no more; I would take it from there.
I recruited Melissa and Bekah (who hauled me to the gym on Monday a.m. at 5:30 and it's now Thurs p.m. at 10:30 and my biceps still hurt) to help me. Katie was at the ward for something else, but also helped us out in the kitchen. We had a blast talking and laughing together as Bekah and I made the waffles and Melissa and Katie cooked up the syrups. We laid the waffles (plain and chocolate) out on the table with vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, "yummy" or buttermilk syrup, regular maple syrup (Mrs. Butterworth's of course), and whip cream. We also served milk and water. Judging by the amount of food left over, and the amount of requests I got for the recipes, I'd say the waffle bar was a success. Thanks to Melissa, Bekah, and Katie, who are awesome cooks and SO much fun! So... That's the story, following are the recipes.

Basic Waffles
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cups milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir together milk, oil, and eggs. Gradually add milk mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir until just blended. Pour batter onto waffle baker.

Chocolate Dessert Waffles
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt (1/16 teaspoon)
2/3 cup milk
In a small mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar until well blended. Add egg and vanilla and blend until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and mix until well blended.
Spray grids with cooking spray. Pour batter onto waffle baker.
Remove and serve topped with vanilla ice cream.

Melba's note: These two recipes came with the instruction manual for my waffle iron and they're fabulous! There are also two more great recipes - weekend waffles and whole grain waffles. If you ask me nicely, I'll give them to you.

Yummy Syrup by Suzette Done
1 c butter
2 c sugar
½ c karo syrup
1 c buttermilk
Boil and then take off heat
Add 2 t vanilla and 2 t baking soda
When you add the baking soda, the syrup will almost double in bulk so use a bigger pot than you would think to use. (We learned this the hard way, unfortunately...)
If you boil this for too long, it turns into caramel.

Melba's note: This was a staple at girl's camp this summer. It's really called Buttermilk syrup but Suzette calls it Yummy syrup so her teenagers will eat it. We used it as syrup or as caramel topping for sundaes.

Lindsay's Chocolate Sauce
Melt 1 square butter
Add 1 cup chocolate chips
Watch and stir to melt.
Add 1 can (5 oz.) evaporated milk
Add 2 cups powdered sugar
Stir and bring to boil
Boil 8 minutes
Remove from heat
Add 1 Tbsp vanilla

Melba's note: Lindsay (my sister) calls this "Uncle Bill's Chocolate Sauce" but since I can't remember who Uncle Bill is, I renamed it. Sorry Uncle Bill, thanks for a great recipe!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Browned Butter from Cooking Light Magazine, September 07

40 asparagus spears, trimmed (about 2 pounds)
Cooking spray
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Cracked black pepper (optional)
Grated lemon rind (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Arrange asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet; coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes or until tender.
3. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat; cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned, shaking pan occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Drizzle over asparagus, tossing well to coat. Garnish with cracked pepper and rind, if desired. Yield: 8 servings.
Carolies 45, Fat 3g, Protein 1.9g, Carb 3.9g, Fiber 1.7g, Chol 8mg, Sodium 134 mg

Melba's Note: Sammie's comment on this is: "Why didn't you start making this when we first got married?" I agree!

Creamy Spinach Ravioli from Pampered Chef Lite

1 pkg (8 oz.) mushrooms, sliced (I leave this out cuz we're anti-mushroom in this house)
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used onion powder tonight and it worked)
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper (I also left this out tonight, but I've put it in before...)
2 packages (9 oz. each) refrigerated light cheese-filled ravioli
2 garlic cloves, pressed (I used garlic powder tonight and it worked)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
1/3 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1 pkg (10 oz.) frozen creamed spinach in low-fat sauce, thawed
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1-2 Chicken breasts, chopped (This isn't in the recipe, but I added chicken on my own because Sammie's such a meateater, and we really like it.)

Slice mushrooms, chop onion, and dice bell pepper.
Cook ravioli according to package directions. Drain.
Meanwhile, heat large skillet over medium heat. Lightly spray skillet with nonstick cooking spray; add mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, garlic (pressed) and black pepper. Add chicken at this point, if using. Cook and stir 3-4 minutes or until vegetables are tender and all liquid is absorbed (and chicken is cooked).
Reduce heat to low; add cream cheese and evaporated milk. Stir until cream cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Stir in creamed spinach. Simmer over low heat 1-2 minutes or until heated through. Pour vegetable mixture over ravioli; stir gently. Serve immediately. Serve with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Yield: 6 servings
Nutrients per serving: Calories 340, Total Fat 10g, Cholesterol 45 mg, Carbohydrate 44g, Protein 18g, Sodium 580 mg, Fiber 4g

Melba's note: If you don't make any other recipe on this site, MAKE THIS ONE!! It's SO yummy and looks impressive, but is super easy.
Whenever I make a new recipe, I always ask Sammie for a quote to write on the recipe so we can remember what we thought. He'll also rank them as a "1st stringer," "2nd stringer," etc. Here's his quote from the first time I made this: "Came in strong at training camp. Took a while for the scouts to recognize him. Performed well in 1st real game. And he will stay there." It's a 1st stringer. That about says it all.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Souffle Stuffed Chicken from The South Beach Diet Cookbook

1 package (12 ounces) Stouffer's frozen spinach souffle, not thawed (I've never actually found this, so I use frozen creamed spinach)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4" thickness
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnish
Slices lemon, for garnish
Sprig parsley, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Using a serrated knife, cut the spinach souffle crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Top half of each whole breast with one of the pieces of souffle. Fold half of the chicken over the filling and fasten the edges with wooden picks.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes, or until golden. Discard the garlic. Add the chicken breasts to the skillet and cook for 7 minutes per side, or until well-browned on both sides.
Remove the chicken breasts to an oven-proof dish. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
While the chicken is baking, add the broth, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and pepper to the large skillet. Heat to boiling. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced about 1/2.
To serve, remove and discard the wooden picks. Arrange the chicken on a warm serving platter, and spoon the sauce over the chicken. Garnish with the chopped parsley, lemon, and parsley sprig.
Nutrition: 308 calories, 15 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 32 g protein, 9 g carbohydrate, 1 g dietary fiber, 136 mg cholesterol, 719 mg sodium

Melba's note: I read Sammie his choices for dinner tonight and he said, "What about that one dish that's like chicken cordon bleu but spinach." From this rather inelegant description, I was finally able to determine that this is what he was talking about. It's delicious!

Chicken Cordon Bleu from Lion House Recipes

8 chicken breast halves
8 thin slices cooked ham (I usually use the lunch meat variety)
4 slices Swiss cheese, cut into fingers about 1 1/2 inches long and 1/2 inch thick
Thyme or rosemary
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
1/2 cup cornflake crumbs

Place each chicken breast between sheets of plastic wrap and pound with meat mallet to about 1/8 inch thickness.
On each ham slice place a finger of cheese. Sprinkle lightly with seasonings. Roll ham and cheese jelly-roll style, then roll each chicken breast with ham and cheese inside. Tuck in ends and seal well. (Tie rolls if necessary, or fasten edges with toothpicks.) Dip each roll in melted butter, then roll in cornflake crumbs, turning to thoroughly coat each roll.
Place rolls in a 9X13 pan. Bake, uncovered, in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until chicken is golden brown. Serve with Cordon Bleu Sauce, if desired.

Cordon Bleu Sauce
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Blend ingredients and heat. Serve over chicken rolls, if desired.

Melba's note: Sammie took leftovers of this to work/school today and some of the women in his office requested the recipe. So... this one is for them! (Thanks for taking care of Sammie at work. :) )
This recipe seems intimidating, but is actually pretty easy. The part I hate the most is pounding the chicken, but Sammie loves to do that, so I don't have to. Very delicious and very impressive!
Oh... and I rarely serve it with the sauce. Also, Sammie doesn't like herbs in the middle, so he requests his plain.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Monte Cristo Sandwiches from Matt and Marcia Parkinson

4 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons strawberry or raspberry preserves
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
12 slices high-quality white sandwich bread, lightly toasted (the thicker the better!)
18 this slices deli Swiss or Gruyere cheese
12 thin slices deli ham, preferably Black Forest
12 thin slices deli turkey
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Confectioners' sugar

1. Adjust oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Whisk the eggs, cream, sugar, salt, dry mustard, and cayenne in a shallow dish until combined. Stir the jam and Dijon mustard together in a small bowl.
2. Spread 1 teaspoon of the jam mixture on one side of each slice of toast. Layer slices of cheese, ham, and turkey on 6 slices of toast. Repeat with a second layer of cheese, ham, and turkey. Add a final layer of cheese and top with the remaining toast, with the jam side facing the cheese. Using your hands, lightly press down on the sandwiches.
3. Pour the oil onto a rimmed baking sheet and heat in the oven until just smoking, about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, using 2 hands, coat each sandwich with the egg mixture and transfer to a large plate. Transfer the sandwiches to the preheated baking sheet and bake until golden brown on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Serve immediately with the remaining jam mixture and a sprinkling of confectioners' sugar.

Melba's Note: Matt and Marcia are fellow Olympus High Titan grads. Imagine my delight when I learned that Matt would be my bishop when Sammie and I moved to State College! He's quite a comical bishop with quotes such as (while conducting Ward Conference): "It's ward conference this week and we have a lot of Stake leaders here so please remember the answers we rehearsed last week, in case Stake leaders should ask any questions." Marcia is the ward volleyball expert and YW leader extraordinaire. The ward loves them!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Brownie Cake

1 c. butter (2 sticks)
2 squares (1 oz. each) unsweetened chocolate
1 c. hot water
1/2 t. salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. vanilla
Melt butter and chocolate in saucepan. Add water; boil for 2 minutes. Mix flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together. Combine with chocolate mixture, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Beat with mixer for several minutes until creamy. (Batter will be thin.) Pour into a greased 9x13" pan. Bake @ 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool.
1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
1/3 c. milk
2 squares (1 oz. each) unsweetened chocolate
4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 t. vanilla

Melt butter and chocolate in saucepan. Add milk and boil until it thickens and begins to separate. Add this mixture to powdered sugar and mix with electric mixer until very creamy. Stir in vanilla.
This cake is SO good! My mother-in-law, Nora, got this recipe years ago from a favorite family babysitter, and she often makes it for family birthdays. My daughter Abby and I made it a few days ago for my b-day (as seen above, with Katie too), and I thought I should share it with all of you bakers and chocolate lovers.
{OK, so it's probably dorky to make your own b-day cake . . . but now that we live so far from our families, and since my husband, Luke, does many wonderful things but does NOT cook or bake, I knew it was up to me if I wanted one. And I did! :) }

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Chicken Alfredo Pasta from Stephanie Erickson

Melt together:
1 cup butter
4 oz. cream cheese
This will end up looking grainy and you'll think you did something wrong, but you didn't.

Stir in:
1 package of shredded 4 Cheese Italian blend
2 pints cream (heavy or light, depending on how your clothes are fitting)
garlic salt (to taste)
Stir until it's thick and looks like Alfredo Sauce.

Grilled Chicken Breast (oh, about 2-3 breasts worth. More or less, depending on your crowd)
1 or 1 1/2 pkgs. cooked pasta

This recipe generously feeds 10 people. I multiplied it by 8 for camp and had plenty, plus some leftovers.

Melba's Note: This is from my friend Stephanie Erickson, who mentored me through planning the menu for camp. She is as amazing a person as she is a cook. This recipe looks intimidating but is very easy and very yummy!

Key Lime Pie by Angie Hyde via Lindsay Kaelberer

1 8 oz. Cream cheese (I use the light, but not fat-free)

1 can sweetened, condensed milk

½ tsp. Vanilla

½ cup key lime juice (not plain lime)

1 Graham cracker crust

Mix all ingredients together and pour into crust. You can add green food coloring so it looks like lime. Chill at least four hours. Serve with whip cream and a cherry (or just plain!) Very yummy!

Melba's Note: This IS yummy! And not too heavy. If you use fat free cream cheese, it makes a nice key-lime soup in a graham cracker crust bread bowl. So, stick to light or regular.

Angie Hyde is a friend of Lindsay's from Charlottesville. She's another great cook and all-around amazing person!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Basic Sweet Crepes from "Joy of Cooking" via Carolyn Markham

1/2 c flour
1/2 c milk
1/4 c water - lukewarm
2 large eggs
2 T unsalted butter
1 1/2 T sugar
pinch of salt
Let stand 30 minutes (or Carolyn uses a blender). For savory crepes, omit sugar and use 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Melba's Note: Last Sunday, Carolyn (who is 4 months pregnant and has 4 small kids at home) got up at 6 a.m. to plan her Sunday School lesson and fix two different kinds of pancakes for her kids and houseguests. (see previous recipe). After church, she made us these crepes for lunch. (See why I call her Superwoman?) We ate them with ham and cheese for lunch, then with nutella for dessert. They were yummy!!!

Homemade Whole Grain Pancake Mix from Carolyn Markham

Yield: 10 cups dry mix, 1c = 10 pancakes
3 1/2 c oats
4 c white whole wheat flour
1 c bleached all purpose flour
3T sugar
3T baking powder
1T salt
1T baking soda
3/4 c vegetable oil

Mix: Grind oats in food processor till chopped. (I skipped this step for "chunkier" pancakes.) Mix dry ingredients. Add oil slowly. You can freeze this mix at this point.
Pancakes: 1 cup mix. (Okay, that's what the recipe says. Carolyn and I added 1 1/2 cups cuz the batter was a little runny). 1 c buttermilk, 1 T orange juice, 1 egg. Let stand 15 min.
Nutrition: 2 pancakes = 139 calories, 6 g fat, 16 carbs, 2 g fiber.

Melba's Note: I know, I know, I already posted a whole grain pancake recipe. But pancakes are my favorite food right now and my sister-in-law, Carolyn, made these for breakfast last weekend while we were in Houston. They are yummy!
While we were staying with her, I decided that Carolyn is a French chef. She makes very very yummy food, but then doesn't eat a lot of it. That's how she stays so little. Sammie commented that she and I both love to show off our skills with the culinary arts. In other words, we both love to cook and eat good food!
I also decided that Carolyn is superwoman. There's pretty much nothing she doesn't do!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Egg Drop Soup

4 cups chicken broth, divided
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1. Reserve 3/4 cup of chicken broth, and pour the rest into a large saucepan. Stir the salt, ginger and chives into the saucepan, and bring to a rolling boil. In a cup or small bowl, stir together the remaining broth and cornstarch until smooth. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk together using a fork. Drizzle egg a little at a time from the fork into the boiling broth mixture. Egg should cook immediately. Once the eggs have been dropped, stir in the cornstarch mixture gradually until the soup is the desired consistency.

Melba's Note: This is how I like my egg drop soup - simple. I also throw in some frozen corn, though, for a little crunch.

Sesame Chicken

2 Tbsp sesame seeds, raw
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp dry sherry (I substitute 1/2 soy sauce and 1/2 maple syrup)
1 tsp ginger root, fresh, minced (yes, wouldn't that be nice? I used ginger from the spice jar)
1/2 tsp five-spice powder (in the asian section of the grocery store)
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2-in pieces
2 tsp peanut oil

Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame seeds and cook until lightly toasted, shaking the pan frequently, about 2 to 3 minutes; transfer seeds to a shallow dish and set aside.
Whisk water, soy sauce, maple syrup, sherry, ginger and five-spice power together in a small bowl; set aside.
Combine flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish; add chicken and turn to coat. Shake chicken pieces to remove excess flour.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add soy sauce mixture to chicken and cook until sauce thickens and is almost evaporated, about 2 to 3 minutes more.
Dip chicken pieces in toasted sesame seeds and serve, drizzled with any additional soy sauce mixture. Yields 4 servings, about 4 strips per serving. 4 WW points per serving.

Melba's Note: Yesterday, Sammie turned in his last final for his first year of MBA school! Hooray! To celebrate, we had some of his school friends over for dinner. I served this, the egg drop soup, and the lettuce wraps (which, by the way, are only 5 ww points if you cut down the oil to only 1 tbsp.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

TOMATO-CORN SALAD by Jennie Holman Blake

Bart Hosmer, Bradley Ogden’s Parcel 104 restaurant, Santa Clara, CA (Sunset Magazine)

3 ears fresh sweet corn
1 lb. tomatoes, seeded and diced
¼ c. diced red onion, rinsed in cold water and patted dry with paper towels
1 T. rice wine vinegar
¼ c. chopped basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Over a large bowl, cut kernels off corn cobs and stir in tomatoes and onion. Toss with vinegar and basil; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Chef’s Note:
Fresh corn is often so sweet and tender that there is no need to cook it. Just cut the kernels off the cob and use. Hosmer also uses basil flowers in this dish. Just pull the flowers from the stalks and sprinkle them like confetti into the salad in place of (or in addition to) the chopped basil. They add a light, floral note.

Serves 4-6.

From my very favorite recipe source—Sunset Magazine. Makes me proud to be a Californian. Did I really just say that? After how much I ridiculed all those freshman Cali girls in the dorms at BYU out frolicking in their swimsuits at their first sight of snow? Oh well. Older. Wiser. NORTHERN CALIFORNIAN—it’s two different countries, you know . . . no offense, Kir.

Only do this with fresh summer corn. Don’t even bother with the packaged ones from the store or Costco. Tried it, hated it. I seed the tomatoes before adding them to take some of the liquid out. I would also rinse the corn before adding to remove some of the starch and make the dressing a little less opaque (purely aesthetic). This just reminds me of summer BBQ’s in the back yard. Can you tell I’m aching for summer already?

Melba's Note: Well, when you live in a place that is already 80 degrees, no wonder you're in the mood for summer! Compare that to my sister Carrie in Spokane where it's 40 degrees and snowing today. Should I post a good hot chocolate recipe, Carrie? Oh, and Jen, no offense taken for the California Girl comment. ( I was born in Redondo Beach. :D )

PANZANELLA (Tuscan Bread and Tomato Salad) by Jennie Blake

7 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 T. butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 12-inch length of baguette
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 t. kosher or sea salt
1/4 t. coarsely ground black pepper
8 very ripe assorted tomatoes (3 lb.), large ones chopped
1/2 c. basil leaves, torn into pieces or cut into ribbons

1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a small pan over medium heat, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, the butter, and garlic; stir until butter melts, about 2 minutes.

2. Cut baguette into 1/2-inch cubes and put in a 10- by 15-inch baking pan. Pour oil mixture over bread and mix well. Bake until golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let bread cool in pan.

3. In a bowl, mix remaining olive oil, the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Stir in tomatoes and bread cubes. Serve at room temperature in shallow bowls, garnished with basil.

This is my good friend Christy’s recipe and I always assign her the salad for parties. So yummy, especially in the summer with tons of fresh, multi-colored tomatoes from the farmer’s market (because my summer crop usually yields about two tomatoes after the kids have picked all the baby ones before they’re ripe).


1 ½ c. diced cantaloupe
1 c. diced pineapple
1 diced papaya
½ c. diced cucumber
½ c. chopped green onions
½ c. coarsely chopped cilantro
¼ c. rice vinegar
¼ c. sugar
1-2 minced cloves of garlic
1 T. salt
juice of one lime

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate 1-2 hours prior to serving. Good with marinated/barbequed teriyaki chicken (I use Yoshidas) and rice, grilled fish, or just with chips.

OK—this is one of my mom’s staples, and it has become one of mine as well. I’m sure it came from one of the amazing cooks from the neighborhood I grew up in. It seems like there is a statistically impossible percentage of gourmet cooks there, but I just steal all their recipes and claim them as my own in California.


Steak and Creole Seasoning

1 (2-3 lb.) flank steak
¼c. olive oil

2½ T. paprika
2 T. salt
2 T. garlic powder
1 T. black pepper
1 T. onion powder
1 T. cayenne pepper
1 T. dried leaf oregano
1 T. dried thyme

Coat flank steak with olive oil. Rub one tablespoon Creole seasoning mix onto each side of meat. Store unused seasoning mix in an airtight container. Marinate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Grill the flank steak to medium rare, about six minutes per side over high heat. Let steak rest 5-10 minutes before slicing. Slice steak on a bias against the grain. To serve, fan out slices and top with summer salsa.

Summer Salsa

½ cantaloupe, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 c. blackberries
½ c. red bell pepper, small diced
1 medium red onion, large diced
½ lemon, juiced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
chopped fresh parsley and cilantro to taste
season with salt and freshly ground red pepper

Yield: serves 4-6

JENNIE'S NOTE: There is a very small, somewhat unknown camping area right after you cross the Golden Gate Bridge on the Sausalito side. There are only four camp spots on a bluff overlooking the beach and you have to book a year in advance. At night you can leave the kids sleeping in the tent and take the little path down and sit on the beach with the bridge lit up and watch the enormous freight ships pass through. It’s pure summer magic. We’ve done this for about six years with a group of friends, and this meal has become an annual request. You’re welcome to come join us any year!

Melba's Note: How do I describe Jennie? She was the first LDS democrat and feminist that I ever knew. We shared a boyfriend (without knowing it) our senior years of high school, and spent four months in Israel 2 years later laughing about it. (Hi Ben!) Jen and her husband both have law degrees from BYU and three adorable kids - including a set of twins! Jen's one of the most intelligent and wonderful people I know. I miss lying awake in our room in Israel listening to the interesting things she says in her sleep. :) Jen - I hope we get to join you for the camping trip soon!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Crispy Potato Quiche from Lori Boyer (the mother of all children)

1 24 oz. pkg. frozen shredded hash browns thawed
1/2 c butter, melted
1 c pepper jack cheese (shredded)
1 c swiss cheese (shredded)
1 1/2 c. cooked ham (diced)
3/4 c half and half
6 eggs
3/4 tsp seasoned salt

Press thawed hash browns between paper towels to remove moisture. Fit hash browns into a 10 inch pie plate that has been greased with some of the melted butter, forming a solid crust. Brush crust with melted butter, making certain to brush top edges. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 min. Remove from oven. Sprinkle cheeses and ham evenly over bottom crust. beat half and half and eggs with seasoned salt, pour over cheeses and ham. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Mom made this for her high school friends and they loved it. (Or at least they said they did.)

Melba's Note: Mom is famous for her breakfasts. Not because they ever happened, more because they didn't. Well, actually, she tried many times to make abelskievers (sp?) but, let's just say, they're known around our house now as "damn abelskievers." It's a real feat for Mom to have made a quiche recipe because she's always been allergic to eggs. She says she's getting over that now, and likes this.
To Mom's credit, she doesn't fix breakfast because she's not really a morning person. But she's ALWAYS up for a late night sugar fest. Love you Mom!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Chicken Capri

This is from the South Beach Diet Cookbook

1 cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup crushed tomatoes
4 slices reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

In a blender or food processor, combine the ricotta with the oregano, salt, and pepper. Process to blend.
Rub the chicken with the garlic powder. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 12 minutes per side. Place the chicken breasts, side by side, in a large baking dish and allow to cool.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spoon 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture and 1/4 cup tomatoes onto each chicken breast. Top each chicken breast with 1 slice mozzarella. Bake for 20 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 340 calories, 15 g fat, 5 g sat. fat, 44 g protein, 6 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 115 g cholesterol, 470 g sodium.

Melba's note: Sammie and I LOVE this! For those of you fluent or at least conversant in South Beach-ese, this is a phase one recipe. Sammie didn't believe me when I told him that. He thought I had just splurged. It's like Chicken Parmigiana, but lighter. I made it last night for Jennie (little sister) and my Dad. (Quick update on my life - I'm in SLC taking care of Dad after a mountain biking accident sent him in to hip surgery Sat. night. He's doing great.) They loved it!

Oven-Roasted Winter Vegetables

10 small red potatoes
4 small leeks
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
1 red onion, peeled and cut into pieces
2 red peppers, cut in wide strips
8 oz. fresh mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Lightly coat a 9"X13" baking dish with olive oil. Scrub potatoes and steam in a small amount of water for 20 minutes, then drain (I think Mom skipped this step and they were fine). Cut leeks in half and wash well to remove grit. Cut each potato in half. Arrange potatoes, leeks, carrots, onions, red peppers and mushrooms in baking dish. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over veggies and sprinkle on thyme, salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, until vegetables are cooked and tender when pricked with a fork, basting about every 15 minutes with pan juices.

This is from the "Favorites" cookbook. It's a cult classic in Salt Lake created by the Ivory family. My Mom made this in St. George and we had it with grilled steaks. It was YUMMY!!!!

Greek Chicken Wraps from Julie Markham

3 chicken breasts, marinated and grilled

Yogurt Sauce:
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, grated
1 t garlic powder

3 T olive oil
2 T lemon juice
1 T dried onion, hydrated
2 t minced garlic

tortilla shells
chopped cilantro
Feta cheese
diced Roma tomatoes
thinly sliced lettuce or spinach
lemon quarters
Marinate one hour. Grill chicken, then thinly slice. Place chicken and garnishes in warmed tortillas with yogurt sauce. Serves 4. Serve with rice.

Melba's Note: Julie says she tried this with pita bread and didn't like it as much. But, it was good enough that the day after she made it, her husband was already asking for it again. Looks yummy to me!!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Smoky Chicken Chili by Mary Choate

2 poblano chile peppers, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium-size sweet onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 (14 1/2 oz.) cans zesty chili-style diced tomatoes
3 cups shredded or chopped smoked chicken (about 1 lb.)
1 (16 oz.) can navy beans
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (12 oz.) can low-sodium chicken broth
1 (1.25 oz.) envelope white chicken chili seasoning mix

Toppings: shredded Cheddar cheese, chopped fresh cilantro, sour cream, lime wedges, baby corn, sliced black olives, chopped red onion, tortilla chips

Saute first 4 ingredients in hot oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in diced tomatoes and next 5 ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat ot low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 hour. Serve with desired toppings.

Melba's note: My friend Mary Choate got this recipe from Southern Living. Mary is one of the most wonderful people I know. She had me over on Friday night because she knew Sammie had just left town. She made this and it was delicious! I got to hang out, playing games, with her husband Nick and awesome daughters Jessie and Nicole. Jessie's boyfriend, Steve, was there too. It made me feel so cool that they wanted to hang out with me! I slept over and the next morning, Nick made a big pancake breakfast. YUM! I love them!!

Strawberry Custard Torte

1 package (18 ¼ oz) yellow cake mix
1/3 cup sugar
1 TBSP cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 TBSP butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 carton (12 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 package (1 lb) frozen sweetened sliced strawberries, thawed and drained
Sliced fresh strawberries and mint leaves, optional

Prepare and bake cake according to package directions, using 2 greased and floured 9 in round baking pans. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

In sauce pan combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt; gradually stir in milk until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Stir a small amount of hot filling into egg yolks; return all to pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the butter and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Place half of the shipped topping in a bowl, add strawberries. Split each cake into two horizontal layers; place one layer on a serving plate. Spread with half of the strawberry mixture. Top with a second cake layer, spread with custard. Add third layer; spread with remaining strawberry mixture. Top with remaining cake and whipped topping. Refrigerate overnight. Garnish with strawberries and mint if desired. Yield: 12 servings.

Lora says: I hope that you had a very happy birthday. In honor of your birthday I am sending you my favorite cake recipe. I make it for my birthday every year. I use one big heart shaped cake pan so I omit the two strawberry whipped creamed layers and just 1 1/2 times the custard recipe. I've attached a picture of what the heart shaped cake looks like. Because we are so far away I figured this would be the best way to share cake with you on your birthday!

Melba's note: Lora, I wish you could have been here, too! We could have had another triple birthday babe's blowout like we did in 2001! Oh the memories...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Julie's Brownies

These are from Sammie's Mom, Julie. She's a tweaker. She takes a recipe and tweaks and tweaks until she gets it just right. I'd say these are pretty much perfect!

Place 1 stick of butter in a mixing bowl and let it soften to room temperature. If you use a microwave, be very careful to not let the butter melt at all. Add 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of self-rising flour, 1/4 cup of cocoa. Gently stir this together with a fork until well-blended. It should look like sand. (This part takes a while. Call a friend or turn on the tv)

Beat 2 eggs thoroughly with a fork in a small bowl. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Gently add the eggs to the brownie mix and stir three or four more times. Don’t over mix this. Put this mixture, lumps and all, into a greased 6 x 8 or other small glass baking dish. If you use a stoneware dish, don’t grease it. Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Remove this from the oven and let it cool for about thirty more minutes. It’s really best when served at this time.

This recipe can be doubled, and was in fact the original recipe I was given.

3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups self-rising flour
½ cup cocoa

Bake 350 till done, about 35 minutes.

Julie's words of wisdom: Two secrets are to not over mix this once you add the eggs and to not over bake this. It will continue cooking in the pan, and you have to gauge your oven and your pan to determine how best to make this. Once we got this right, we decided it was well worth the effort, and no one minded experimenting.

Herbed Focaccia

From AMA Family Health Cookbook

2 to 2 1/4 cups white bread flour, plus additional for kneading
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 pkg yeast
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, plus 1 teaspoon
3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, plus 1/4 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon
1 cup very warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 1/2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the white and whole-wheat flours, yeast, 1 tsp of the rosemary, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper. Make a well in the center and pour in the water and 1 1/2 tbs of the oil. Mix with a wooden spoon or the paddle of an electric mixer until a dough forms, about 5 mins. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 10 mins., or knead in the mixer bowl with a dough hook for 5 mins until smooth and elastic.
2. Lightly coat a mixing bowl and a 9X13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray. Place the dough in the bowl, cover lightly with a towel, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk. Punch the dough down. Sprinkle the baking pan with the cornmeal. Place the dough in the prepared pan, patting and stretching to fill the bottom of the pan. Cover lightly and let the dough rise again until doubled.
3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Use your fingers to make light indentations in the risen dough. Brush with the remaining 1 1/2 tbs of oil, then sprinkle with the remaining 1 tsp of rosemary, 1/4 tsp of salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Bake until the focaccia is a rich golden brown and well risen, 25 to 35 mins.

Nutrition info per square: 157 calories, 4g fat, 0mg chol., 179mg sodium, 26g carbs, 2g fiber, 5g protein

Creamy Cooker Chicken

From "Fix-It and Forget-It" (The Crock Pot Bible)

1 envelope dry onion soup mix
2 cups sour cream
10 3/4 can. cream of mushroom or chicken soup
6 boneless, skinless chicken-breast halves

1. Combine soup mix, sour cream, and cream of mushroom/chicken soup in slow cooker. Add chicken, pushing it down so it is submerged in the sauce.
2. Cover. Cook on Low 8 hours.
3. Serve over rice or noodles.

Note: I like to shred the chicken before serving.

Sammie always says he married me for my crock-pot chicken. I think he could have bought himself a slow cooker and a recipe book and saved himself a lot of trouble. But, my luck that he didn't. :)

Oatmeal Pancakes

These are from The South Beach Diet Cookbook

1 1/4 cups rolled oats
2 cups fat-free milk
1 egg
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar (substitute, if you want to be truly South Beach)
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a medium bowl, combine the oats and milk and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Stir in the egg, flour, wheat germ, baking powder, sugar, oil, and salt, mixing until evenly blended and only small lumps remain. Let the batter stand for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Makes 12 pancakes
Nutrition Information per pancake: 90 calories, 2 g fat, 1/2 g protein, 14 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 20 mg cholesterol, 250 mg sodium

These are my new favorite comfort food. Sammie's out of town tonight and I have a terrible horrible no good very bad cough that's going around PA so I cooked some of these up for dinner. The batter keeps well in the fridge. yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Spanish Soup by Lindsay Kaelberer

2 tbsp. butter 1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 tbsp. flour ¼ tsp. tarragon
4 cups chopped onion (or less) ¼ tsp. pepper
1 can (1 lb) tomato puree or ¼ tsp. oregano
crushed tomatoes ¼ tsp. cumin
4 cans (14 oz.) beef brother 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Saute onion in butter and olive oil until onions are clear. Blend in flour. Add rest of ingredients and bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Put broth in crock pot or tureen to keep warm. Choose items from the following list and put each in a separate small bowl. Guests ladle a bowl of the broth and add the condiments they want. (Like a salad bar.)

Condiment suggestions:
meatballs green onion, chopped
shrimp, sautéed tomatoes, diced
ham cubes, sautéed cucumbers, diced
sausages, cooked green peppers, chopped
carrot wheels, cooked hard boiled eggs, chopped
mushrooms, sliced and sautéed raisins
red onions, chopped cheese cubes
olives kidney beans
sour cream garbanzo beans
Parmesan cheese jicama

Melba's Note: This soup sounds crazy but it's awesome! It's great for company. About 10 years ago, we had a "date night" with the siblings. Lindsay and Dan were married, Carrie and Luke were engaged, I was dating a mistake, and the rest found dates. We met at Lindsay's and had this soup and it was good! I'm glad to have the recipe. I'll have to try it again. Thanks, Linz!

Hot Pepper Vinegar and Garden Salsa by Lindsay Kaelberer

Can use white or apple cider vinegar but recommended is 2/3 white vinegar to 1/3 cider vinegar.

Hot Vinegar—Fill jar with clean, dry hot peppers (use a variety of kinds…try to use different colors and sizes.) Pour in enough vinegar to cover the peppers. Cap and seal tightly. Store for 2-3 weeks before using. Can also add olives, peppercorns, garlic, and anything else that sounds good.

Mild Vinegar—Use milder peppers (of course!) and smaller amounts of them or substitute pieces of red, green, or yellow sweet peppers. They will add flavor but not heat.

Peppers keep in vinegar. Pull one out, cut off a little, put in cooking, and back in bottle.

Garden Salsa

2 30 oz. cans stewed tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
1 chopped green pepper
½ tsp. dried cilantro
½ tsp. dried cumin
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
3 green onions, chopped
3 tsp. salt
2 tsp. brown sugar
8 Tbsp. hot pepper vinegar

Mix everything together by hand. Put in blender and blend until the consistency you like. We like it pretty smooth, but you choose! The salsa is best on the second day, so make it a day in advance. If you like a spicier salsa, add more vinegar.

Melba's Note: This is GOOD!!!!!!!!!!

Lasagne—Lindsay Kaelberer

Boil 9 lasagne for 10 minutes.
Lightly spray oil or Pam on counter top or foil and spread rinsed noodles out flat.
1 lb. ground beef, brown and drain fat.
Add: 1 clove minced garlic
1 jar spaghetti sauce (27 oz.)
1 can tomato sauce (8 oz.)
1 tbsp. parsley flakes
1 tbsp. basil
In a bowl mix:
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups cottage cheese
2 tbsp. parley flakes
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
Cheese Layer:
1 lb. mozzarella cheese

In a 9x13 pan, layer noodles, cottage cheese mixture, meat sauce, and cheese. Repeat 2 more times. (Each time use 3 noodles, 2 cups meat sauce, 1 cup cottage cheese mixture, and 1/3 lb. cheese.)
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. If chilled, bake 1 hour. Let sit 20 minutes before serving.
This is my mother-in-law’s recipe. I always thought lasagne was a total pain to make, but this is fairly easy and really good!

Melba's Note: This lasagne IS very good! Still, some people don't appreciate homemade food. Lindsay served this once to two well-meaning-but-slightly-clueless-LDS missionaries. One of them commented, "This is really good! It's almost as good as Stauffers!"

Chicken Enchiladas—Kaelberer-Style! by Lindsay Kaelberer

Saute ½ a chopped onion and 1 small can of diced green chilies in some olive oil. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix together 2 cans of canned chicken (shredded), 1 ½ cans of cream of chicken soup, ½ can of water (from the soup can), ½ cup sour cream, and sauted onions and green chilies.

Spoon these into tortillas and roll them into a greased 9x13 pan.

Mix together the other ½ can of cream of chicken soup, ½ cup sour cream, and enough water to make the mixture pour easily. Spread this on top of the tortillas, covering each tortilla. Sprinkle a generous amount of shredded cheddar cheese on top.
Bake at 350 for ½ hour with foil on top. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Melba's Note: Haven't tried these myself, but I'm definitely excited to! Lindsay has 5 kids ages 1-10, including 2 "cage fighters" - Sam and Josh, just over 2 years apart and both very cute and very, well, active. It's a wonder she has time to pour a bowl of cereal, much less cook!

Chili by Lindsay Kaelberer

1 lb. ground beef
½ large onion, chopped
½ cup chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
1 can (16 oz) chopped stewed tomatoes
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
2 cups hot water
2 tbsp. chili powder
½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. garlic powder
a dash of cinnamon
2 16 oz. cans chili beans

Brown meat, onion, and green pepper. Stir in next 8 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 1 ½ hours. Serve with shredded cheese.

Melba's Note: This chili is GOOD!! In one of my first posts, I told about Lindsay's, my older sister, history of cooking. I guess you could call her a "self-made" cook. A true rags-to-riches of the culinary arts!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Bonnie's Chicken Salad

Bonnie's Chicken Salad

2 cloves of garlic
6T red wine vinegar
1/4 t salt
1/4 t dry mustard
1/4 t dill weed
1/4 t oregano
1/4 t basil
1 T lemon juice

Blend marinade ingredients and pour over 4 chicken breasts in a plastic (ziplock) bag. Marinade chicken for 3-4 hours. Grill chicken and cut into strips.

Make salad with romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, parmesan cheese (freshly grated is best), and croutons. Top with any good ceasar salad dressing.

This salad is wonderful as a meal on its own with some great crusty bread, or can be served as a side salad in smaller portions. I love adding grape or cherry tomatoes too!

Note: This recipe was shared with my mom, Lillian Alldredge, when she was serving with my dad as a mission president in London. My parents served in the London mission and Bonnie and Jim Parkin served in the London South mission. On many occasions they invited each other over for dinner or out eat in some wonderful place they had discovered in London. Bonnie served this salad at her home on one of these occasions. My parents loved it! And now I love it too! It is such an easy, beautiful and delicious salad. Bon Appetite!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Snickerdoodles by Amy Ward McLaughlin

Snickerdoodles by: Amy Ward McLaughlin (my lifelong friend and college roomie)
Mix thoroughly:
1 cup soft shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs

Sift together and stir in:
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Roll into walnut size balls. Roll in mixture of 2 TBS sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon. Bake 2" apart on ungreased (not even sprayed!) baking sheet at 400 for 8 to 10 minutes.

Melba's note: I was digging through some old e-mails and found this so, with Amy's permission I hope, I decided to post it. I've known Amy longer than anyone outside my family. She's a wonderful, loyal, amazing person and friend. One of my favorite memories involving this recipe happened the first semester we lived together at BYU (we lived a total of 4 semesters together, plus were together at BYU Jerusalem.) I was in our room studying and Amy was in the kitchen. She called up the stairs, asking if she could borrow my milk. A few minutes later, she walked in the room with a plate of steaming fresh snickerdoodles and a glass of cold milk. mmmmmmm...... heaven.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Cafe Rio recipes from Lora Monson

Café Rio Pork
3-5 lbs Pork Roast
3 cans el Pato Tomato Sauce
3 cans Tomato Sauce
1 cup Dr. Pepper
1-2 cups Brown Sugar

Cook all ingredients on low in crock pot for 12 hours. Shred Pork and Serve.

Café Rio Rice
6 c. water
6 chicken bouillon cubes
4 tsp. minced garlic
½ bunch chopped cilantro
1 tsp. cumin
1 can green chilies
¾ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. butter
½ medium onion, chopped
3 c. rice, uncooked

Bring water to boil, add all ingredients. Reduce temperature to low. Cover and simmer 30 minutes or until rice is tender. You may need to add more water.

Café Rio Dressing
1 ranch dressing packet (make as per recipe with milk and mayo)
1 tomatillo (tomato like vegetable with a husk around them)
½ bunch of cilantro
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1 lime
Use a blender or food processor to blend all the ingredients well. Refrigerate.

Serve as a salad with tortilla as base. Top with Romaine lettuce, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, tortilla chips, corn, black or pinto beans, rice, and dressing.

This is great for a large gathering. When I am just making it for my family I usually third the recipe for the pork and rice.

Lora also left these comments about other recipes she has tried from the blog:
Last Monday I made the chicken and wild rice casserole. It made a lot of food for our family so we were able to enjoy it several times. Next time I make it I think I will half the recipe or take half of it to someone in the ward.

On Tuesday I made the beef stew. I was actually hoping that you would post this recipe. I remember that you made it for us when we were doing visiting teaching and it was really good. Ethan (son) really liked it and even asked for another bowl full!

On Wednesday I made Frito Casserole. When Micah (husband) came home from work and saw the fritos, olives, avacado, etc. on the table he got really excited and said "this is my kind of meal!"

Thursday I made lettuce wraps. Again they were a hit with the whole family. They were so good we are going to have our families over in two weeks for Chinese food and this is one of the dishes we are going to serve.

Chicken with Lime Dressing

(This is from the South Beach Diet Cookbook)

Lime Dressing:
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbs chopped scallions
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp sugar/sugar substitute (it has to say that cuz it's a diet cookbook...)
1/2 tsp salt
Combine the ingredients in a large bowl.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2" thickness
2 medium avocados, pitted and peeled
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
2 tsps picante sauce
1 tsp + 1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 Tbs whole wheat flour
Combine chicken with 3 Tbs of the lime dressing. Cover and refrigerate for 10 mins.
In a medium bowl, mash the avocados with 2 Tbs of the lime dressing. Stir in the lemon juice and picante sauce. Reserve the remaining lime dressing.
Heat 1 tsp of the oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes, or until the pepper is tender and lightly browned. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Remove to a large bowl and add the almonds. (Or, I threw the almonds in the pan with the garlic and "toasted" them that way. It smelled awesome!)
Remove the chicken from the dressing and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle flour over both sides of the chicken.
Heat the remaining 1 Tbs of oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 6 minutes on each side, or until done. Place the chicken on 4 serving plates and equally divide the pepper mixture, sprinkling over the chicken. Drizzle the reserved dressing over each serving. Serve with a side of the mashed avocados.

Melba's note: I had forgotten about this recipe until my Mom bought this cookbook and asked me which recipes I liked from it. (All of them, basically!) I noticed that I had written positive reviews on this one, but couldn't remember making it. I tried it again tonight and we remembered why we liked it so much!

Healthy(ish) Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole-wheat flour (I used white whole-wheat and it made it lighter)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.
2. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. (Bosch users - this recipe is a little small for Bosch). Add oil, sugars, egg, and vanilla; beat until smooth and creamy. With the mixer running, add the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just combined. Stir in choc. chips.
3. Bake about 15 minutes.

Melba's note: This is not my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. My favorite recipe, which I hope Julie, Sammie's Mom, will post soon is hers. She and I agree that if we are ever on death row and about to be executed, we'll request her chocolate chip cookies and a glass of cold milk as our last meal. It's important to plan these things in advance, you know.
But, I wanted something a little more healthy and so I tried these and was pleasantly surprised! Good texture AND good flavor.

Copycat Applebee's Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip

1 (10 oz.) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
1 cup shredded parmesan-romano cheese mix
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
10 oz. prepared alfredo sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
4 oz. softened cream cheese
pepper (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Combine ingredients thoroughly in a bowl and spread mixture into a small baking dish (8X8 works well)
3. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheeses are bubbling and melted.
4. Serve with chips or bread and enjoy.

Melba's note: I made this on Sunday for our Superbowl party and it was a hit! Sammie and I think it tasted a lot like the restaurant's. (and we would know, we order way too much of it!)
By the way, let me explain why I would be throwing a Superbowl party and cooking food for it. It seems to go against everything I believe in and stand for. When Sammie and I were dating, he took me to a Superbowl party and it was a really negative experience. Since then, we've agreed that the Superbowl is not about the football, but an excuse to get friends together. So, we purposely try to make it a fun night with good friends and good food and a little bit of football. (Great game for the Giants, by the way!)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Chinese Hot and Sour Soup

Chinese Hot and Sour Soup by Ayako Moore
6 cups of chicken broth
A half of a carrot – julienned
1 can of sliced mushroom
1 piece of chicken breast or thigh – julienned (you can use left over turkey meat)
3 TBSP light soy sauce – you can use dark soy sauce if you don’t have light soy sauce
3 TBSP vinegar
1 TBSP sesame oil
A dash of hot chili oil (add it to your taste)
1 Morinu brand silken tofu (you can use other brands too, but it has to be silke/soft) – cut into small dice
1 egg beaten
3 TBSP cornstarch, dissolved in 5 TBSP of water
2 green onion, finely chopped
Some white pepper – add to your taste

Put chicken broth and carrot into a pot and heat to a boil, then add mushrooms, chicken soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, chili oil. Add tofu and cornstarch, stirring constantly until thickened. Pour egg into soup, stirring constantly until it forms ribbons. Add cilantro, green onions, and white pepper and serve at once.

6 servings

HI All,

It's Heather again. I made this soup this week and it was great. My husband and I haven't eaten a lot of tofu and so this was an experiment to see if we liked it in soup, and it was alright. If you don't like tofu, don't put it in.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Potato Cheese Soup from Wendy Locey

6 to 8 large baking potatoes
2 cups milk
4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup butter
8-12 strips bacon cooked
1 cup sour cream
6 oz shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
Bake potatoes until soft and peel. Mash or cube depending on consistency. In large souppot, combine butter and flour to make roux. Cook for 1 minute then slowly whisk in liquids.Add salt and pepper. Add potatoes, cooked bacon, cheese and at the last minute sour cream. Soup will thicken.

Melba's Note: I had this soup last week and requested that Wendy post it on the blog. It's yummy! Wendy is one of the most intelligent and insightful people I know. I'll miss her when she moves to Tucson, AZ. I'll all miss her son, Lucas (1 year old this Spring). Sammie's probably relieved that he's moving, though, cuz Lucas is threatening his status as the main man in my life.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Chicken ala Slooney by Martha (Boyer) Birk

About 4 lbs of chicken
about 1/2 bottle of Ken's Steakhouse Balsamic and Basil Vinaigrette
1 (8 oz) package of onion and chive cream cheese

Put chicken in crockpot. Pour dressing over chicken and cover about halfway and cook in on high for 3-4 hrs. Shred chicken and then add cream cheese (you can add more if you want it creamier). (I cooked it on low for another half hour.) Serve over rice or mashed potatoes. So yummy and it's only 3 ingredients (my kind of cooking)! It's not exactly South Beach, but everyone needs a break once in a while, right?

Melba's note: This is from my little sister Martha, also known by some as Slooney. She didn't give the recipe a name, so I named it for her. :) We used to refer to Martha as "our weirdest sister." She is one of the most amusing, energetic, witty people I know. She's amazingly bright (got through high school with a 4.0 and is now an RN) but says really dumb things. (i.e. while watching the "outtakes" to A Bug's Life she got all confused about how the animators and voice actors messed up together. She didn't realize they were fake outtakes.) Never a dull (or quiet) moment with Slooney around...

Beef Stew and Maple-Oat Buttermilk Quick Bread

This is what I made for dinner tonight. I LOVE this beef stew. In fact, my mom calls it, "that beef stew that you love so much."

Beef Stew
1 lb. stew meat (coat with flour, salt, pepper)
1 T shortening
2 cans tomato soup (add water as directed on can)
3/4 c chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon Basil
2 medium potatoes - peel & cube
2 carrots or 6 baby carrots
Frozen corn (I dunno, a 1/2 cup or so)
Brown meat in stew pot. Pour in other ingredients and bake covered at 375 for 2 hours. To make it go faster, you can also start the meat cooking, while you chop the vegetables and then add them with a little bit more water. The veggies should cook for at least an hour.
To make this more South-Beach friendly, I've made it without the veggies. It's good, but not as sweet. Or, sometimes I'll add just carrots. Also, I use 1.5 - 2 lbs meat and 3 cans of soup. This is one of those stews that's even better the next day!

A funny story about this stew... Sammie and I were just getting to know each other, had been out 1 or 2 times, and we were both invited to a pot-luck dinner. I brought this stew and Sammie hated it. It was his first time eating something I had cooked and he thought I must be a terrible cook. It's now one of his favorite dishes, too. I wonder what I did wrong that night...

This is a thick, hearty bread that goes great with the stew. It's from the American Medical Association Family Health Cookbook (one of my favorites!)

Maple-Oat Buttermilk Quick Bread
1 1/4 cups all-purpose white flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups nonfat buttermilk
3/4 cup regular or quick rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly coat a 4 1/2 x 8 1/2-inch loaf pan with vegetable oil spray.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the white flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg with the oil until smooth. Whisk the maple syrup, brown sugar, and buttermilk. Stir in the oats. Stir in the raisins, if using.
3. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake until the bread is golden brown, 60 to 65 minutes.
4. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, turn onto a rack, and cool completely before slicing.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Hi All, This is Heather again and this is a soup recipe that my husband tried at our ward Christmas party. He absolutely loved it and got the recipe from Emily Glende. I haven't yet tried it...mostly because it calls for things I don't have in my kitchen, but for those of you wanting to try something new, this is for you! Enjoy!

2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted clarified butter
1 large spanish onion, finely diced (3/4 cups)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon turkish red pepper or ground red pepper
1-1/2 cups red lentils
1/4 cup long-grain white rice
6 cups chicken stock or water
1/4 cup fine-grain bulgur1 tablespoon dried mint
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Plain bread croutons (optional)
Lemon wedges

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon dried mint
1/2 teaspoon paprika

In medium-sized saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook gently for about 2 minutes, or until they're softened but not brown. Stir in the tomato paste, chopped tomato, paprika, and Turkish pepper. Add the lentils, rice, and stock. Cover saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 3-35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is cooked and the lentils have blended with the stock. Add the bulgur and mint, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the soup is too thick, add water.

To make the topping, melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the mint and paprika, then stir the mixture until it sizzles. Ladle the soup into individual bowls and drizzle the butter mixture over each serving. Top with croutons and serve with lemon wedges.

(By the way, I never use a whole large onion and I'll often just put in a can of diced tomatoes. And we never make the topping, although it is good with lemon juice. Maybe if we did make the topping it would be even better. Enjoy!)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps by Lora Monson

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 carrot, grated
1/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
4 cup romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
3/4 cup seasoned croutons
1/2 cup Caesar or Ranch Salad dressing
(I use Good Seasons Italian from the packet made with apple cidar vinegar and canola oil)
6 tortillas or pita bread
Stir-fry chicken in garlic and oil until no longer pink in the center. Remove from pan and cool. Cut into strips. Put chicken, onion, pepper, tomato, carrot, cheese, lettuce, croutons, and dressing in a bowl. Toss to coat evenly. Place about 3/4 cups mixture on a warm tortilla or pita bread. Roll up and serve.

Melba's Note: One of the first times I met Lora, she taught in Relief Society (women's organization for the LDS Church). She said her Mom always taught her that reading the Book of Mormon makes you beautiful. I remember thinking to myself, "Lora must read the Book of Mormon a lot!" She's as beautiful inside as she is outside. And a funny side note about her, she got engaged while racing to the hospital with a broken arm.

Ruby's Meatloaf

Ruby's Meatloaf

24 Single Soda Crackers
1 C Milk
1 Egg (beaten)
1/4 C Ketchup
1 1/2 t Salt
1 t Onion Salt or 1/4 C chopped Onion
Pepper to taste
2 Lbs Ground Beef

Crush Crackers and add milk. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Place in regular size bread loaf pan (you could also use 8 mini loaf pans). Before placing in the oven, cover top of meat loaf with special Piquant Sauce (below). Put in a 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours. When cooked, remove meat loaf immediately from the pan and place on a plate - this makes it so that grease does not seep back into the meat.

Piquant Sauce

Combine 3 T Brown Sugar, 1/4 C Ketchup, 1/4 t nutmeg, and 1 t dry mustard.

So, this recipe is not really necessarily healthy fare, but...'tis the season for comfort food.

After having been treated to many an awful meat loaf, I decided to share this recipe which is a family favorite. This is an original recipe from Ruby Clark, who is a wonderful cook and had her own catering business in Salt Lake for many years. I was lucky enough to grow up in her ward and enjoyed many delicious meals from Ruby's kitchen.

I have found that one of the tricks to a good meat loaf is to use enough ground beef and to use as high a quality as you are able (meaning the lowest in fat you can afford to buy). Another trick is to cook at the right time and temperature. It really does take 1 1/2 hours for this recipe to cook, but it's worth the time. My husband AND my kids love this recipe. I hope you will too!

French Mints, from Carrie

French Mints
(A Duncan family favorite--Melba's mom's side of the family)

4 squares unsweetened baking chocolate
1 c. butter or margarine
2 c. powdered sugar
4 eggs (I just use the whites)
1 tsp. peppermint extract
2 tsp. vanilla
(1 c. chopped pecans or almonds)
(1/2 c. maraschino cherries, cut into small pieces)

Melt baking chocolate and set it aside to cool. In an electric mixer, beat the butter/margarine until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and beat for about 15 minutes. Continue to beat for 5 more minutes, slowly drizzling in the melted chocolate. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1–2 minutes between each one. Add the peppermint extract and vanilla. Spoon the mixture into small baking cups (about 2–3 Tbsp. in each cup). If desired, top with chopped nuts and maraschino cherry pieces. (At Christmas time, it’s fun to use holiday-themed baking cups and both red and green cherries.) Freeze for at least 4 hours. Serve chilled.

This recipe is the antithesis of healthy, but it's REALLY good for an occasional treat. According to my mom, "The secret to this recipe is to beat the heck out of it!" (You really should beat the powdered sugar and butter for a good 15 minutes, as it says.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Frito Casserole, from Carrie (Boyer) Linscott

Frito Casserole
(From the Junior League Cookbook)

1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
3 ½ cups water
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 clove minced garlic
½ cup uncooked minute rice
1 package Fritos

Brown ground beef and onion. Stir in water, tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, oregano, cumin, chili powder, and garlic. Simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered. Add rice. Simmer 10 minutes. Serve over Fritos. Garnish with grated Monterey Jack cheese, grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped black olives, chopped green onions, diced avocado, or chopped green pepper. 6-8 servings.

Once when Melba was living in Pennsylvania for her first time, she came home for a few days to visit. Our mom announced that she was making Frito casserole for dinner, and Melba literally started jumping up and down with delight! This casserole got a similarly enthusiastic reaction on the day of our sister Martha's wedding. I invited Martha, her groom (Adam), her photographer (Sammie), and her photographer's lovely assistant (Melba) over for lunch between the ceremony and reception, since I lived right on the way. When I told Sammie I was making Frito casserole for the occasion, he nearly knocked me over with a huge bear hug. Here is a picture of Martha ready to be served her Frito casserole, with her wedding dress carefully protected:

Enjoy the recipe!

Lean 'n Green

Hi All, It's Heather!

Today I'd like to share a soup recipe with you . Melba already has this recipe and I think she likes it. I love soups now as an adult. As a child I really didn't like them but ate them because that's all there was. I like to try new soups and have a couple new ones I will be trying soon. Here's one of my favorite recipes and please feel free to add and subtract to make this soup fit your tastes and lifestyles. (For instance, I don't bake the tortilla shells and place them on top...takes too much time away from a very yummy soup...and I think I add more corn tortillas to the soup than asked for...makes it thick and good. And I can't stand cillantro so I don't use it. Oh, and I also add a can of corn). ENJOY!!!

Lean ‘N Green Chili from The Pampered Chef

8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, divided
2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
1 cup chopped poblano chile peppers (1-2 medium) OR green bell pepper
½ cup chopped onion
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ¾ inch pieces
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 cans (14 ½ ounces each) chicken broth
2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 ¼ cups salsa verde (green salsa) or 1 can (10 ounces) green chile enchilada sauce
2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut four of the tortillas in half and stack them one on top of another. Cut tortillas into ½ inch strips; place in bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon of the oil. Spread in a single layer over the bottom of a pan. Bake 10-12 minutes or until crisp, stirring once. Remove from oven.

2. Meanwhile, remove membranes and seeds from chile peppers; chop with knife. Chop onion. Cut chicken into ¾ inch pieces; toss with cumin. Fold one tortilla to fit into grater; coarsely grate into separate small bowl. Repeat for remaining three tortillas; set aside.

3. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook and stir 5 minutes. Remove chicken from pan; add chile peppers, onion and garlic pressed. Cook and stir 3 minutes. Stir in chicken, broth, beans, salsa and grated tortillas (I put in a large pot). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes.

4. Snip cilantro and stir into chili. Ladle soup in bowls; top with baked tortilla strips.

Yeild: 6 servings (about 7 ½ cups)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 10-12 minutes
Cook Time: 23 minutes

Cinnamon Bread Delight

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 (5.1 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease two 5x9 inch loaf pans.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, pudding mix, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix the milk, oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla. Stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture until smooth. Sprinkle the bottoms of the loaf pans with cinnamon sugar, and divide the batter between the 2 pans.
Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a loaf comes out clean.

Melba's Note: I haven't made this in a while, but it's scrumptious! There's actually a funny story that goes along with it. After we were first married, Sammie and I loved to have dinner parties (okay, we still do) and I would usually make a roast. I was fascinated with making them and impressing everyone. Anyway, we had a bunch of people over and I made the roast wrong and it turned out super dry. It was still good, but, well... Another girl brought this bread and we all loved it! As Sammie and I were cleaning up, I asked him if I should save the leftover roast. He said, "No, I don't think I'll eat it. But be sure to save me some of that awesome bread!" That didn't go over so well with Sammie's new wife. (Actually, Sammie's a very appreciative audience for my cooking. He makes it a lot of fun!)

P.F. Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps (well, almost)

Stir Fry

3 tablespoons oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup water chestnuts
2/3 cup mushrooms
3 tablespoons chopped onions
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4-5 leaves iceburg lettuce

Special Sauce

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon hot mustard
2 teaspoons water
1-2 teaspoon garlic and red chile paste

Stir Fry Sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

1. Make the special sauce by dissolving the sugar in water in a small bowl.
2. Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil.
3. Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you're ready to serve.
4. Combine the hot water with the hot mustard and set this aside as well.
5. Eventually add your desired measurement of mustard and garlic chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to pour over the wraps.
6. Bring oil to high heat in a wok or large frying pan.
7. Saute chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes per side or done.
8. Remove chicken from the pan and cool.
9. Keep oil in the pan, keep hot.
10. As chicken cools mince water chestnuts and mushrooms to about the size of small peas.
11. Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl.
12. When chicken is cool, mince it as the mushrooms and water chestnuts are.
13. With the pan still on high heat, add another Tbsp of vegetable oil.
14. Add chicken, garlic, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms to the pan.
15. Add the stir fry sauce to the pan and saute the mixture for a couple of minutes then serve it in the lettuce "cups".
16. Top with special sauce.

Melba's Note: I made this for dinner tonight and it was yummy! Sammie said, "pretty much PF Chang's." Even though it sounds complicated, it was simple and didn't take very long. Actually, the only complicated moment was when all of the chicken needed to be chopped up and put in the hot oil. I was also making egg drop soup and I needed to stir in an egg at the same time. I opened a cupboard and a mug foolishly jumped to its death, shattering all over the floor. Phoebe, our very-cute-but-not-always-really-bright-dog, isn't smart enough to not eat glass or even to not step on it. So Sammie, who was the only free labor I could muster up, had to whisk her away to a safe place. There went my extra set of hands. It was exciting there for a minute, but we got through it.

Chicken Pierre by Anna (Boyer) Hansen

1 onion
2 stalks celery (or we used green beans)
1 lg. green pepper
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. ketchup
2 tbsp. vinegar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
6-8 chicken breasts
Peel onion, finely chop 1/2 onion and celery. Slice other half of onion. Seed green pepper and cut into rings, set aside.Combine butter, chopped 1/2 of onion, celery in 2 quart pan; saute until tender. Add water, ketchup, vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, salt, pepper; cover and simmer 20 minutes. Brown chicken on both sides in preheated fry pan. Place chicken in 9 x 13 bake pan; pour sauce over chops; top with sliced 1/2 of onion and green pepper rings. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 45 to 50 minutes at 350 degrees. Put over rice or noodles or whatever. 6-8 servings.
Anna says this is from her husband's sister and that it is their latest favorite.

Melba's Note: Anna's my adorable younger sister who up and got married last summer. I had met her cute boyfriend once last March. Anna (then 19 yrs. old) called me in April or May and, just to be obnoxious, I said, "So are you engaged?" She was quiet for a minute and then said almost apologetically, "Yes. I am." She and Spencer (Spennie) are wonderful and I wish we didn't live so far away from them!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pistachio Chicken from South Beach Diet


1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts, finely ground (Use unsalted. I used salted once and my mouth was burning. I make Sammie shell the pistachios while he's watching football and I grind them up in the food processor.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 Tbs olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375. Mix the nuts in a pie plate with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Press the chicken into the nuts. Heat 1 Tbs of the oil in a skillet and cook the coated breasts, 2 minutes per side. Place the breasts in a baking dish and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until done. Serve with Dressing.

1 teaspoon grated onion (I always cheat and use frozen chopped onions)
1 large ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
3 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs fresh lime juice (I cheat here too and use lime juice from a bottle)
1 Tbs water
Puree the onion, avocado, oil, lime juice, and water in a blender.

This is a great recipe for having friends over. I already have great memories of cooking it for Jeremy and Heather Kidd, for Wendy and Catherine, for Amy and Rachel, and for Mom, Liza, Ben and Joe. It always gets rave reviews! The dressing can also be used as guacamole.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Chili Cook-off Chili from Carolyn Markham

Don't let the name fool you, it's a dump recipe.
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground beef
2 cans of black beans (I like Ranch brand, get them with jalapeños if you like spicy)
pepper to taste
2 cans of rotel (or tomatoes and green chilies)

Dump in the garlic, onion, spices and beef. Cook until the beef is browned, drain if needed. Dump in the beans and tomatoes (I usually dump one can of beans in right from the can and rinse and drain the second can.) Let simmer for a while, and bake some cornbread.

Melba's note: Carolyn is my sister-in-law. She lives in Houston, Texas and serves this on a "chilly" January day (50 degrees).

Beef Stroganoff by Maggie Haley

Says Maggie: I have made this recipe several times in the past couple weeks ... it is super easy, so good and also inexpensive. I put my modifications in (parentheses).

Beef Stroganoff

1 can fat free cream of mushroom soup (I use Nature's Promise, an organic brand)
1 cup other dairy liquid (I've used sour cream, 1% milk, heavy cream and half-and-half so far -- all good)
1 cup other liquid (I've used red wine, chicken stock, water and beef stock so far -- all good)
1 envelope onion soup/dip mix
1 pound stew beef (I never knew that this was for when I saw it in the grocery store. Now I buy 2-3 lbs. of it every time I go shopping!)
1 large roughly chopped onion*
1 lb. button mushrooms*
Seasonings (I've used garlic, basil, thyme, sage, oregano and rosemary in different combinations & amounts -- Be brave! It's all good!)
*both onion and/or mushrooms can be eliminated for you picky eaters out there ... it's still GREAT without them!

Crock-Pot method:
Dump all ingredients in Crock Pot, stir to combine and cook for 4 hours on high or 6+ hours on low.
Stovetop method:
Sauté beef, onion, mushrooms & seasonings until browned / Add remaining ingredients & simmer until thickened (15-20 minutes), stirring periodically

Serve over egg noodles (my fave), rice or any short pasta.

Big yum!

Melba's Note: Maggie was my second (and better) half during grad school. She was an insta-friend. I adored her from the moment I met her! She lives in PA with husband Rob and adorable daughter Rose.

Cookie Bars from Lori Boyer (my Mom!!)

Quick Cookie Bar Crust:
3/4 C. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but cool
1/3 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C. oats, Quick or old-fashioned
1 3/4 C. flour
1 T. cold water

Heat the oven to 350. Butter a 9x13 inch pan. Cream the softened butter, sugar, and salt in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. Stir in the oats, then stir in the flour a third at a time, rubbing in the last bit of it by hand to make coarse crumbs. Sprinkle on the water and rub briefly.
Press the dough into the pan, spreqading it evenly into the bottom and very slightly up the sides. Chill the pan for 15 minutes. Then bake the pastry on the center oven rack for 15 minutes. Transfer the crust, in the pan, to a wire rack to cool thoroughly.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Bars

1 Quick Cookie Bar Crust
1/2 C. (1stick) soft unsalted butter
1 C. packed light brown sugar
1/2 C. sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 C. flour
1/2 Tsp. salt
1 C. chocolate chips
3/4 C. chopped walnuts (yuck)

Prepare the Quick Cookie Bar Cust and allow it to cool in the pan.
Heat the oven to 350. Cream the butter with an electric mixer, gradually beating in the sugars on medium-high speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Blend in the vanilla extract, flour and salt, then stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Scape the filling into the crust and smooth it with a spoon.
Bake the bars on the center oven rack for 30 to 35 minutes. When they're done, the top of the filling will be golden brown and the filling will be set. (If you tilt the pan, the bars should not move.)
Transfer the bars, in the pan, to a wire rack to cool thoroughly. Cover and regrigerate for 1-2 hours before slicing. Makes up to 24 bars.


Sugar-dusted Lemon Bars

1 Quick Cookie Bar Crust
1 1/2 C, sugar
1/3 C. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 egg yolk
4 T. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 C. milk
1/4 C. fresh strained limon juice
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Confectioner's sugar

Prepare the Quick Cookie Bar Crust and allow it to cool in the pan.
Heat the over to 350. Combine the sugar, flour, salt, eggs, and yolk in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in the melted butter, then the milk. Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla esxtract until evenly blended.
Pour the filling over the crust and tip the pan gently from side to side to spread it evenly. Bake the bars on the center oven rack until the filling is set and just barely beginning to turn golden, 22 to 25 minutes. Do not overbake.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool. When the bars are barely warm, dust them lightly with confectioners' sugar using sifter or fine sieve. Chill for at least 1 hour then lightly dust them again with confectioners' sugar before slicing. Makes up to 24 bars.

Melba's note: Mom says these are "straight up divine freakin' bomb Cookie Bars." (That's a reference to a funny family story...) Mom's a great cook!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

4 Chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
2 pkgs wild and white rice mix (Uncle Ben's is good)
3 stalks celery, sliced
1/4 cup butter
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup corn flake crumbs
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup onions

Prepare rice according to package directions. Saute onions and celery in 1/4 cup butter. Mix together rice, chicken, onion, cheese*, celery, soup, and mayo. Place in greased 9" x 13" pan. Spread cornflake crumbs over the top. Sprinkle almonds and drizzle melted butter on top. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes.
* These are the original directions. There is no cheese in the ingredient list, so I usually just add some cheddar.

This is from my sister, Lindsay. Her cooking history is an inspirational feel-good story in and of itself. When she got married, we all cringed to think of her trying to feed her skinny-with-a-voracious-appetite-husband. 13 (14?) years later, however, she has a reputation as a fabulous cook and people have even asked her to put together a recipe book. Who would have thought?

Anyway, this is my favorite recipe for taking dinner to someone else. It easily divides itself into two pans and is great comfort food!