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!