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. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Arabella makes dinner by herself

My 10-year-old was selected for a 5-state research study at West Virginia University called iCook 4-H.

It's a program studying healthy weight in children with the goal of promoting healthy families by getting youth and parents to cook, play and eat together. iCook will promote cooking skills and family meals in an attempt to prevent obesity.

We've been attending cooking classes and setting goals for healthy eating, physical activity and family time. And we've been making videos of some of the foods we've made and games we've played at home. We share them on a special website set up for people in the study in Maine, Nebraska, South Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia.
Tonight Arabella achieved her goal of making a complete meal by herself. I stood by to help with hot pans, and filmed segments of her meal prep. She had minimal assistance from Mom and Dad, who helped roll apple dumpling dough.

She planned the menu while following the USDA's MyPlate guidelines.

She served garlic-herb marinated chicken and pineapple kabobs, brown rice, roasted bell peppers and hominy, milk and apple dumplings.

It was delicious.

And I think she appreciates even more now how much effort I put into preparing meals.

1 each large green pepper, sweet red and yellow peppers
2 cans (15 1/2 ounces each) hominy, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic pepper blend

In a large bowl, combine the peppers, hominy, oil and garlic pepper; toss to coat. Spread into an ungreased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake at 450° for 14-16 minutes or until peppers are tender, stirring once. Yield: 6 servings.

From Healthy Cooking magazine June/July 2009

3-4 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup cold butter
3/4 cup buttermilk

In a medium bowl,  combine the apples, sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda and clove. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in buttermilk just until moistened.
Turn onto a floured surface; gently knead 10 times. Pat into an 8-inch circle. Divide dough into 4 or 6 pieces.
Roll each piece into a square, about a 1/2-inch thick.
Place apples in middle of dough and gather up the corners of the dough, pinching to seal.
Place in a glass baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and no longer doughy.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

I modified this recipe for Philly Cheesesteak Peppers by Peace Love and Low Carb, a site worth visiting if only to see the bacon in its logo. Awesome.

This is a quick-ish dinner and really quick if you make it the Peace Love and Low Carb way.

I didn't because I don't like to use deli meat and it calls for deli roast beef.

My way is almost as easy. I bought a small package of round steak, put it in the Crock-Pot with some Montreal Steak Seasoning and a splash of beef stock and let it cook on low all day. When I was ready to make dinner, I chopped the meat and followed the other directions.


A pound or less round steak (can use 8 ounces thinly sliced roast beef instead)
8 slices provolone cheese
1 large green bell peppers per person (so 2-4)
1 medium sweet onion, sliced
6 ounces Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Prepare round steak by placing it in a Crock-Pot with a couple of shakes of Montreal Steak Seasoning or salt and pepper and a splash of beef stock. Cook on Low for 6-8 hours.

Slice peppers in half lengthwise, remove ribs and seeds. 

In a large saute pan over low-medium heat, add butter, olive oil, garlic, mushrooms onions and a little salt and pepper.  Sauté until onions and mushroom are nice and caramelized. About 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Slice beef into thin strips and add to the onion/mushroom mixture.  Allow to cook 5-10 minutes.
Line the inside of each pepper with a slice of provolone cheese.  Fill each pepper with meat mixture until they are nearly overflowing.  Top each pepper with another slice of provolone cheese.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese on top is golden brown. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Outback's Alice Springs Chicken

This is not a health food recipe, but it is mighty tasty. Everything in moderation, right?
I found this recipe for Alice Springs Chicken on Pinterest. I've forgotten on which blog it was posted. Whomever developed it did well as it tastes good and has clear directions. The amounts of ingredients seem correct.
I've never ordered the Alice Springs Chicken at Outback Steakhouse so I don't know how this compares, but it is delicious in its own right.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
Lawry's Seasoning Salt
6 bacon slices
1/4 cup regular mustard
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbsp. Mayonnaise
2 teaspoons dried onion flakes
1 cup sliced fresh mushroom
(I omitted because my family does not like mushrooms)
2 cup shredded Colby/Jack cheese
First, sprinkle and rub the chicken breasts with seasoning salt. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While the chicken is in the refrigerator, cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside. ***Do not discard grease.***
Saute chicken in the bacon grease for 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until browned. Place chicken in a 9" × 13" casserole dish or pan.
To make the Honey Mustard: In a small bowl, mix the mustard, honey, mayonnaise and dried onion flakes.
Spread some of the Honey Mustard over each piece of chicken, then layer with mushrooms, crumbled bacon, and shredded cheese.
Bake in a 350° oven for 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and chicken is done.
Serve with the left over Honey Mustard Sauce that you made.
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