Friday, December 27, 2013

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dreamsicle Fudge

I had this amazing fudge last Christmas at a get-together. It was so good I came home and Googled the recipe and went right out and bought the ingredients. I gave a little of it away before it was devoured by my family.

Taste of Home "made over" this recipe that tastes like an orange Creamsicle ice cream bar.

Prep: 30 min. + chilling

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar 
2/3 cup evaporated milk 
1/2 cup butter, cubed 
1 package (10 to 12 ounces) white baking chips 
1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme 
3 teaspoons orange extract 
12 drops yellow food coloring 
9 drops red food coloring
Line a 13-in. x 9-in. pan with foil and coat with cooking spray; set aside. In a small heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, evaporated milk and butter. Cook and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in chips and marshmallow creme until smooth. 

Remove 1 cup and set aside. Add extract and food coloring to the remaining mixture; stir until blended. Pour into prepared pan. Pour reserved marshmallow mixture over the top; cut through mixture with a knife to swirl. Cover and refrigerate until set. 

Using foil, lift fudge out of pan. Discard foil; cut fudge into 1-inch squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Yield: about 2 1/2 pounds.

Nutrition Facts: 1 piece equals 45 calories, 2 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 3 mg cholesterol, 10 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrate, 0 fiber, trace protein. Diabetic Exchange: 1/2 starch.
© Taste of Home 2012

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Italian Meatballs

I got this recipe from my hairdresser, Dawn, who got it, I think, from her stepmother in Baltimore. When I worked as a newspaper food editor I published it in 2004. The original recipe had no exact measurements. The most recent time I made it, I took note of the amounts I used so I could publish the recipe here.


1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 package onion soup mix
1/3 cup grated cheese
1 egg (2 if you use lean ground beef)
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 cloves garlic minced
1-2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs

Mix all ingredients together. Roll into 1 1/2-inch diameter balls. Fry in oil and add to sauce. OR, the way I do it, place on a baking rack on a rimmed baking sheet or in a13-by-9-inch baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil. (Spray foil with cooking spray if it's going to touch the meatballs.) Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Then add to sauce.

I usually serve these with spaghetti but I have served them in the sauce as a heavy hors d'oeuvre at parties.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Breakfast for dinner: Chili Sweet Potato Hash with Fried Eggs

It doesn't happen often that I search my own blog for one of my family's favorite dinner recipes and not found it. This one, it seems, I haven't posted. We love the flavors of this breakfast-for-dinner recipe. Rachael Ray says it's good for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I have taken it -- minus the eggs -- to work the next day for lunch. We especially like the addition of Manchego. If we don't have it, grated Parmesan isn't a bad substitute. I usually skip the salsa.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
1/2 pound bulk breakfast sausage, such as maple sausage
1 medium sweet potato, scrubbed clean, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, thinly sliced into 1/2 moons
1 large red onion thinly sliced, divided
2 teaspoons chili powder, 2/3 palm full
1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/3 palm full
2 teaspoons ground coriander, 2/3 palm full
Salt and pepper
3 yellow vine ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, a palm full
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, a few handfuls
1 cup grated manchego or extra-sharp Cheddar
1 tablespoon butter
4 large eggs

Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat with 2 turns of the pan of olive oil, about 2 tablespoons. Add the breakfast sausage and break it up with the back of a wooden spoon into little chunks, brown sausage for 3 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and 3/4 of the chopped red onion to the sausage, season with chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper, stir frequently and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the potatoes are nice and tender.

While the hash is cooking, in a small bowl combine the tomatoes, jalapeno, and the remaining chopped red onion, cilantro, lime juice and a little salt and pepper.

Once the hash is cooked, add the chopped parsley, stir to combine and transfer hash to a serving platter. Sprinkle with the cheese and cover with aluminum foil, the cheese will melt while you make the fried eggs.

Wipe clean the skillet you made the hash in, return it to the cook top over medium-high heat and add the butter. Once the butter has melted, crack each of the eggs into the skillet, season with a little salt and pepper and fry to desired doneness. Eggs may, of course, be scrambled as well. As you like!

Transfer the fried eggs to the top of the hash, sprinkle with the fresh tomato salsa and serve.

This is a Rachael Ray 30-minute meal. I first read it in her cookbook "365 No Repeats."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Triple Chocolate Gingerbread

At the risk of rushing past Thanksgiving to get right to Christmas goodies, I'm posting a gingerbread recipe.

I got this from McCormick in a press kit back when I was a newspaper food editor. It comes out moist, scrumptious and flavorful. As the press materials say, "Chocolate pudding, mini chocolate chips, ginger, cinnamon, and allspice transform basic chocolate cake mix into an extraordinary flavor sensation."


1 package (18 1/4 ounces) chocolate cake mix 
1 package (4-serving size) chocolate instant pudding mix 
4 eggs 
1 tablespoon McCormick® Ginger, Ground 
1 teaspoon McCormick® Cinnamon, Ground 
1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Allspice, Ground 
1/2 cup sour cream 
1/2 cup vegetable oil 
1/2 cup molasses 
1/2 cup water 
1 cup miniature chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed just until moistened, scraping side of bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes or until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour into 10-cup Bundt pan sprayed with no stick baking spray with flour.

Bake 50 minutes or until cake pulls away from side of pan and cake springs back when touched lightly. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Invert cake onto wire rack. Cool completely.

Makes 16 servings.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts

These are the easiest doughnuts I've ever made -- you could whip them up on a Sunday morning before church or, if you're really quick, on a weekday before school. My friends were passing this recipe for Betty Crocker's Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts around Facebook last fall.

I baked mine in my Pampered Chef Silicone Floral Cupcake Pan. The photos didn't turn  out well enough for you to see the cool designs.


cups Bisquick® Complete pancake & waffle mix
teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
cup milk

1/3cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
tablespoon real maple or maple-flavored syrup
teaspoon vanilla
cup sugar
teaspoon ground cinnamon
tablespoons butter, melted

Heat oven to 425°F. Spray mini doughnut pan with cooking spray.

In medium bowl, stir together Bisquick mix, pumpkin pie spice, milk, pumpkin, syrup, and vanilla 
with spoon until blended. Spoon batter into pan, using about 1 tablespoon for each doughnut.
Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Remove doughnuts from pan to cooling rack; cool 5 minutes.Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon.
Dip tops of doughnuts in melted butter, then dip in cinnamon-sugar. Serve warm.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Shake 'n Bake didn't help: Quick & Crunchy Pork Chops

Growing up, the only way I ever ate pork chips was breaded with Shake 'n Bake. Now that I cook for a family, I'm happy I've learned three other, better ways to prepare pork chops: breaded with a maple-Dijon mustard sauce and in a Crock-Pot with a ranch-chicken gravy.

I found this breaded pork chop recipe more than 10 years ago when I was perfecting my home-cooking. I've said before I've learned a lot from Cook's Country magazine. That's where I got this recipe. And for the past few years, I had misplaced my copy of the magazine with this recipe in it. I found it! And before I lose it again, I'm blogging it. Preserving my favorite recipes somewhere I can easily access them is a main reason why I blog.

I couldn't find Melba toast the first time I made this so I substituted just-as-crunchy-but-more-flavorful garlic bagel chips. You can cut back on the garlic powder if you make this substitution.

1 (5-ounce) box Melba toast, broken into rough pieces – I use garlic bagel chips
½ teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon dried thyme
⅛ teaspoon sugar
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 center-cut boneless pork chops, ¾ inch to 1 inch thick (each 6 to 7 ounces), patted dry with paper towels

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Place Melba toast pieces, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, thyme, and sugar in heavy-duty zipper-lock freezer bag. Seal bag and pound with heavy blunt object (such as a rolling pin) until Melba toasts are crushed but still have some crumbs the size of small pebbles. Add 2 tablespoons mayonnaise to bag and work mayonnaise evenly into crumb mixture by gently squeezing outside of bag. Transfer Melba crumb mixture to large plate.

Using your fingers, coat 1 chop with 1 tablespoon mayonnaise. Transfer to plate with Melba crumbs, sprinkle top of pork chop with some Melba mixture, and press down firmly on chop to adhere crumbs. Flip chop and repeat, making sure that thick layer of crumbs coats both sides and edges. Transfer breaded pork chop to baking rack set over rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chops.

Bake pork chops until juices run clear and instant-read thermometer inserted into center of chop registers 145 to 150 degrees, 16 to 22 minutes. Remove chops from oven and let rest on rack for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Source: Cook's Country magazine

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Barbecued Salmon

For a delicious change of pace at dinnertime in the spring, I tried this Barbecued Salmon from Taste of Home's Country Woman magazine. The salty, meaty salmon is dressed with a barbecue sauce flavored by lime, garlic and chili. If you have most of the ingredients in your pantry (rice wine vinegar, chili sauce), this can be an economical dish -- especially if you buy frozen salmon fillets.

2/3 cup barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons garlic chili sauce (or add a minced garlic clove to regular chili sauce)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
4 salmon fillets
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro (can omit)

In a small bowl, combine the first six ingredients; set aside 1/4 cup for serving.

To grill: Moisten a paper towel with cooking oil; using long-handled tongs, lightly coat the grill rack. Grill salmon, covered, over hot heat -- or broil 3-4 in. from the heat, as I did -- for 5-10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork, basting occasionally with barbecue sauce mixture.

Top with reserved sauce; sprinkle with cilantro. Yield: 4 servings.

Nutrition facts: 1 serving equals 383 calories, 19 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 100 mg cholesterol, 785 mg sodium, 15 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 35 g protein.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fake-out takeout: Thai Chicken Stir-fry

Looking for just the right peanut sauce to combine with stir-fry, I tried this recipe. I almost overlooked it because it was in Taste of Home's Simple & Delicious magazine, and sometimes "simple" means high-calorie convenience products. But this recipe is surprisingly light and also satisfying. My 10-year-old requests it. I like it as much for the taste as the nearest Thai restaurant is an hour away and not an expense we can afford all the time. This gives us the flavors we crave at a fraction of the cost and calories of dining out. It's also quick to prepare on a busy night.


1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 16-ounce package frozen stir-fry vegetable blend, thawed
1/4 cup unsweetened apple juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter 
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons garlic powder (sometimes I use a clove or 2 of real garlic added with the vegetables)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use less or omit if you don't like it spicy)
Hot cooked rice

In a skillet or wok, stir-fry chicken in oil for 3-4 minutes or until no longer pink. Stir in vegetable blend; cook, uncovered, for 4-6 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the apple juice, soy sauce, peanut butter, brown sugar, garlic powder, ginger and cayenne. Stir into chicken mixture; heat through. Serve with rice.

Calories: 357 per serving (without rice), 16 g fat, 40 g protein, 734 mg sodium

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Butterscotch Blondies

I love magazines. It’s a shame so many are becoming an all-digital format. Since I was a child I’ve loved to get a magazine in the mailbox, curl up with it somewhere in the house and read it cover to cover.

I learned to cook from Cook’s Country and many of my favorite recipes come from Woman’s Day and the Taste of Home stable of Healthy Cooking, Country Woman and more.

I’ve been known to spot a must-try recipe on a magazine cover in the supermarket checkout line and snatch it up. My aunt Laura long ago subscribed me to those Betty Crocker and Pillsbury recipe booklets sold by the checkout. I have tons of those booklets in my kitchen and I’m always excited to get one in the mail.

Many times they contain a winner (no, really, a contest-winning recipe) that I have to make over and over again.

This recipe for Butterscotch Blondies doesn’t claim to have won a prize but it gets a blue ribbon from me and everyone I’ve served it to over the late summer and fall. I’ve made it for just my family and I’ve toted it to potlucks.

The taste is perfectly salty and caramel-y and the texture has the right balance of crunch and chew. My mouth is watering as I write this. 

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup fat-free egg product

Heat oven to 350F. Spray 13-by-9-inch pan with cooking spray.

In 1-quart saucepan, heat butter over medium heat 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Pour into small bowl; cool 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, mix brown sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Add egg product to browned butter; stir with whisk. Pour butter mixture over flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Spoon batter into pan; smooth top with spatula.

Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on oclling rack, about 1 hour. Cut into 8 rows by 6 rows.

Per serving (2 bars): Calories 170; total fat 5 g (saturated fat 3 g); sodium 105mg; total carbs 31 g (dietary fiber 0); protein 2 g.

Source: Betty Crocker Fall Baking 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Praline Apple Bread

It was the photo of Praline Apple Bread in Betty Crocker’s Fall Baking recipe booklet that made me want to make it and eat it. Creamy caramel glaze overflows the top of a brown loaf studded with pecans.

I read the recipe and was instantly suspicious of the glaze -- it seemed like too few ingredients. But I proceeded, wanting to give the recipe a fair trial. I melted the stick of butter and stirred in the ½ cup of brown sugar and boiled it for a minute. The glaze was still separated, with the sugar clumping in globs. I decided to go my own way and make a quick caramel frosting I’ve made before that I knew would be creamy and look like the photo. I stirred in ¼ cup of milk and about 1/3 cup of powdered sugar, which is all I had. You really need to use more powdered sugar than that. I poured the glaze over the bread and it ran down the sides to puddle under the cooling rack on the baking sheet. That was OK. What pooled on top the bread around the pecans formed a crunchy topping that was delicious. Its flavor reminded me of JanuaryThaw.

I have made a lot of candy and cooked frostings and glazes in the past few years. You will not achieve a glaze that looks like the one in Betty Crocker’s picture unless you follow my alternate recipe and instructions. They follow the bread recipe.

We enjoyed this bread for breakfast and as snacks and dessert. It’s great and well worth the 3 hours 45 minutes it takes to make and cool it. I would absolutely make it again … with my alterations.


1 ½ cups chopped pecans
1 8-ounce container sour cream
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups finely chopped peeled Granny Smith apples (about ¾ pound)

Heat oven to 350F. Grease 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with shortening; lightly flour. Spread ½ cup pecans in ungreased shallow pan. Bake 6-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until light brown.

In medium bowl, beat sour cream, granulated sugar, eggs and vanilla with electric mixer on low speed 2 minutes. Beat in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt just until blended. Stir in apples and toasted pecans. Spoon into pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup pecans; lightly press pecans into batter.

Bake 1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, covering with foil during last 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning, if necessary. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack.


8 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 whole milk
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted -- very important or it will be lumpy, not smooth
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

Place the butter and brown sugars in a medium-size heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir and cook until the mixture comes to a boil, about 2 minutes. Add the milk, stir, and bring the mixture back to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon until the frosting is smooth.

Use immediately (while still warm) to frost the cake of your choice or frosting will harden. If it does harden while you're frosting the cake -- this happened to me, place the pan back over low heat and stir until the frosting softens up. 
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