Saturday, June 16, 2018

Fluffernutter Cookies

Sometimes you just see a recipe and you know it is a keeper.  I saw this recipe originally in a Better Homes and Garden while waiting at the doctor's office for my Mom. For once, I didn't mess around with the recipe, I just followed it.

My advice? Resist the urge to increase the amount of peanut butter chips. I really had to stop myself from throwing in the whole bag, because really, who wants half a bag of chips hanging around?
Well... since I now have an open bag of mini marshmallows, an open box of rice crispies AND those peanut butter chips, it seems like I should make some peanut butter rice crispie treats too. Right?

Makes about 60 2" cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1¼ cups granulated sugar
⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
1¾ cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2½ cups crisp rice cereal
1¼ tiny marshmallows
⅔ cup peanut butter chips (about 1/2 bag)
Optional: melted milk chocolate and sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix butter and sugars on medium-high for 2 minutes
Beat in egg and vanilla until light and fluffy, 5 minutes
Beat in flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda on low until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in cereal, marshmallows, and chips.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart on lined cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Drizzle with chocolate and sprinkles if desired
NOTE- I used a small cookie scoop and I'm glad I did, the bigger one would have been too large.

Be sure to really beat your butter and sugars, it should be light colored and very fluffy.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Puerto Rican Soupy Chicken and Rice

I've been traveling for work in Asia lately and came home with a little tummy bug.  The funny thing is, I am pretty positive it's not from something I ate in Thailand, but actually something I ate on the airplane!  Yikes.  

When  you've been gone so long and eating all sorts of fresh, spicy and delicious food, you want a bit of comfort food.  I had saved this recipe from a Food & Wine issue as it looked delicious. I am happy to say this one is a keeper.  Easy to make, mostly healthy and not too spicy.  

This makes a large batch, and I had to swap out my 5.5 qt dutch oven for my 7 qt dutch oven once I got all the ingredients into the pan and ready to cook it. I could tell that once the rice cooked, it was going to overflow, so plan accordingly.  These leftovers make great lunches, but it isn't as saucy when it gets reheated as the rice continues to soak in all the liquids. No worries... I think you will still enjoy it.

The recipe calls for Adobo seasoning, which I didn't have, and since I had all the spices I needed, I made some.  At the end of this post is the recipe I found online for Adobo seasoning. I did reduce the salt as I felt it was too salty, it would be better to add your own salt than risk over seasoning with this mix.

Serves about 8

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon adobo seasoning* (Goya brand is good, or make your own)
Salt  and freshly ground black pepper

2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
2 (14.5-ounces) cans diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups medium-grain rice
2 cup thawed frozen peas
1 cup small pimiento-stuffed olives
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

In a large enameled cast-iron Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the chicken with the adobo and black pepper. Brown the chicken in 3 batches over moderately high heat, 6 to 8 minutes per batch, turning each halfway through. Transfer the browned chicken thighs to a plate.

In the pot, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add the bell peppers, onion, and garlic to the pot, and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until it turns brick red, about 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes and their juice, 2 cups water, bay leaf, and crushed red pepper. Bring to a simmer. 

Return the chicken to the pot, stir in the rice, and cook, covered, over moderately low heat until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir in the peas and olives, and let stand until heated through, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with cilantro before serving.

Here it is once it was browned.

Peppers, onions and garlic, oh my!

Mixing in the tomato paste

Adobo Seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 1⁄2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1⁄2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili Powder

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Elvis Presley Pineapple Sheet Cake

I know now why Elvis is dead.
If this is his favorite cake, then I know he ate entirely too much sugar!  LOL, it is a delicious cake though, and very, very easy to make. 

I was very intrigued when I saw this recipe online, but I was expecting that an Elvis cake would be peanut butter, banana and bacon. I mean, I always heard that was his favorite sandwich?  Obviously Elvis needed the help of a good dietitian.

This is a great recipe to bring to a pot luck, it travels well and it is very moist and yummy.
My advice?  Don't eat cake like this every day...

Note- (This makes a LOT of frosting, you could halve the recipe...)

Serves a bunch

1 package (18.25 ounce) yellow cake mix- prepared per the box

1 can (8 ounce) crushed pineapple, with juice
1 2/3 cup white sugar

1 package (8 ounce) cream cheese
1⁄2 cup butter, softened
4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Prepare cake according to instructions on the package. Bake in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Allow to cool.
Combine pineapple and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Spoon over cooled cake.

In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add vanilla extract and pecans and mix well.
Spread cream cheese frosting over the cake.

Here's the cooled cake with the pineapple syrup poured over.

I used all of this frosting, but it was thick!  It would be just as good with half as much frosting.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Polly's Everything but the Kitchen Sink Cookies

I texted my sister and asked about those "kitchen sink" cookies, hoping she'd send me her recipe for these fantastic cookies that she makes that have so many great flavors- fruit, nuts, coconut, chocolate- you name it, it's in there.

She was funny, as you can see from our text interchange. 
Since I didn't get a real recipe out of my sister, my recipe is loosely based this one from Martha Stewart. 

One note, I used walnuts in this recipe and didn't stop to taste them before mixing them up.  Yep, my walnuts were bad/rancid and I did have to throw away my first batch as the bad taste permeated the whole batch.

They say "one bad apple can spoil the whole cart", but why don't they say "one bad walnut can wreck the whole batch of cookies"?.  Because it is a real thing! When in doubt, throw them out!

Makes about 3 dozen

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup old-fashioned rolled, or steel cut*, oats
1 cups mini semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup flake coconut (sweetened, or unsweetened- either works)
1 cup raisins, or a mixture of apricots, raisins and cranberries
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnut
1/4 cup pistachios, or almonds, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper.
In a large bowl with a wooden spoon, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar together until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Stir in vanilla. 
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Gradually stir into butter mixture until well blended. Add oats, chips, coconut, raisins, and walnuts, and stir until well blended.
Drop batter by heaping tablespoons or with a 2 ounce cookie scoop onto parchment or a Silpat mat about 2 inches apart. Bake until golden, about 16 to 18 minutes. Cool on pan for 2 minutes.  Remove from pan, and finish cooling completely on wire rack

*Steel cut oats can be used in cookies and give it a crunchier texture.  Regular rolled oats are more traditional.

Below- I used dried cranberries, apricots and golden raisins.

I like to use mini chocolate chips instead of regular size ones, but any kind work.

It's a lumpy bumpy mixture.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Easy Eggplant Parmigiana

I always think I hate eggplant.

I usually say it tastes like a sponge.
Now, there's a good reason for that, and it's because a lot of people prepare eggplant wrong and frankly, it can have a spongy texture.
Every time I'm hating on eggplant, my Mom points out that I DO like eggplant, because eggplant parmigiana used to be one of my favorite dishes as a kid.

So, what's a girl to do? Make Eggplant Parmigana!  This also endeared me to my husband, as he loves it. I'm glad to say, I was totally wrong, and this is a wonderful dish to make.  I've made it twice in the last couple weeks, it was quite popular and it tasted great reheated for lunches too.

The first time we made it (I had help in the kitchen) we used leftover spaghetti sauce, but canned marinara sauce, or even tomato sauce would work too.  My hubby helper always does the slicing on my mandolin, as it always scares me to death to use. I'm attached to my finger tips, you know?  He tried it 1/4 inch slices the first time, and 3/8 inch thick slices the second time.  I'm leaning towards 3/8 inch for future preparations.

I need to tell you I swapped out the shredded mozzarella for regiano parmesan instead! Also not pictured is Cavenders Greek Seasoning, but any seasoning salt would work.

Makes 4 servings

1 eggplant, sliced cross ways in 3/8 inch slices
1 cup marina sauce
2-3 oz of fresh mozzarella
1/2 cup of shredded Parmigiano reggiano
Olive oil
Salt/Pepper or seasoning salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare a baking sheets with sides, as there is some moisture in the baking process!

Slice the eggplant, and season with salt and pepper, or a seasoning salt. Using a bit of olive oil, fry each side until a bit of color appears.  The eggplant does seem to soak up quite a bit of the oil, so be ready to add more as needed. Add the fried slices to the baking sheet.  Fry more slices until your sheet is full, or you have enough portions for your meal.

Top each fried round of eggplant with a couple tablespoons of sauce, adding mozzarella and parmigiano cheeses.  Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes. If the cheese isn't bubbly and brown yet, cook for another 5-8 minutes.  

*Don't be too worried if there is a lot of moisture on the pan in the beginning.  That will evaporate and dry off.

It makes a bit of a mess on your pan, but it comes clean easily!

Dinner is served... not the prettiest dish, but absolutely delicious.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Lazy Girl Chile Verde Pork Stew

This is variation of one of my all time favorite ways to cook pork, Chile Verde.  However, the recipe I have always used calls for tomatoes, which are RED, and not VERDE (green) at all, so it has always bugged me a bit that the end result was a reddish dish.  
In this recipe, I have substituted the tomatoes with canned tomatillos instead.

As I was making this, my hubby walked in and said "aren't you going to brown that pork?". To which I answered,"No, I am not" feeling a bit grumpy at being challenged about being a accomplished lazy girl. Now, honestly people, I do realize that browning adds carmalization and therefore, more flavor.  BUT, in this case, there is SO much more flavor ingredients in this dish, you honestly should save yourself some time (and a greasy stove top) by skipping the browning and throwing it altogether in your crock pot.  Set it, forget it, do something awesome with your day and come back to a great dinner.

Serves 5-6 

3lb pork, large, cut into large chunks
1 large can (14 oz) whole tomatillos, with juice
1/2 onion, diced small
1 small yellow bell pepper, diced small
2 jalapenos, diced small
1 small can (4 oz) diced ortega green chilies
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped small (about 1/2 bunch)
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp cumin
1 tsp oregano


  • green onions
  • cojita cheese or feta cheese (optional)

Add all the ingredients to the crock pot, and cook for 8 hours on low.  Serve with green onions and cheese, as desired.

Below is a picture of the crock before I cooked it. I didn't brown the pork, as I guess, I am a lazy girl. LOL.  You can definitely brown it before starting your crockpot, and it just might be even better.  Me?  I can't decide if this stew is actually better for having browned the pork first.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

BaccalĂ  Mantecato- Venetian Appetizer Spread

I'm still dreaming of a trip we took a couple of years ago to Venice.  I was prepared for a stinky, crowded tourist trap city, but was wonderfully surprised and delight with what we saw and experienced there.  I wrote about our food walking tour of Venice here, and this was one of the surprises that we tried at one stop. 

This is a Venetian specialty of whipped salted cod served on slices of bread or polenta.
I'm embarassed to say that I've had this recipe in "draft" mode for over a year, but decided to finally finish it up and post it.  I know that most people won't go to the trouble to find the dried cod (you can order it on Amazon though!) and make this, but it was so delicious and not fishy!

We had a couple's party after the trip and we all brought small plates of tapas to share.  This is what I made. We had a great time and shared our memories of a great trip.

Serves 6 - 8
Prep Time: 3 days
Cook Time: 30 mins


1/2 Pound of Dried Cod
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Bay Leaf
Salt & Pepper
Good Olive Oil
To Serve:
Cracked Black Pepper

Cut the cod into pieces and place them into a pan full of water.
Leave it in water for 2 to 3 days, changing the water twice daily.

After soaking, change the water again and place the cod and water, along with a bay leaf and cook for 30 minutes on low heat, removing any foam that comes to the surface.

After 30 minutes, remove the cod from the pan and place in a container with high sides.
Remove the skin and the bones from the cod and add 2 gloves of garlic.
I used my food processor to mix this, slowly adding the olive oil to get the desired consistency.  It should be soft and fluffy when it's ready. The quantity of the oil will depend on the cod itself.Continue mixing until the cod turns light and has a whipped, mousse-like texture. Taste and add salt if required.

Serve on fresh cut bread slices or grilled slices of polenta.
Sprinkle top with some cracked black pepper.

Below is a picture of a plaque in the fish market, that shows the standard sizes that the fish must be.  I believe our guide told us that the sign was hundreds of years old. 

Just outside the fish market, you can catch a gondola ride across the grand canal. Sigh, what a great trip.

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Saturday, January 6, 2018

Caesar Dressing

I will admit, I turned up my nose on this recipe when I first found it on the internet, knowing that "real" caesar dressing does not include mayo.
Except, this is SO delicious, and easy... and won't freak anyone out with a raw egg in it like the traditional classic caesar.  It tastes so much like the Girard's bottled caesar you buy at Costco, or grocery store.

I'd say try it, what have you got to lose?
In full disclosure, I used the entire 2 oz can of anchovies in my second try of this recipe, but we are major anchovy fans, so I would suggest you try it with less first. My hubby is so in love with this dressing, he's been asking me to make it again and again! We even slathered it on salmon fillets one night and baked it, and it was yum!

Yes, I did use bottled lemon juice, don't judge... it was all I had, which is exactly why I have it in the fridge, for just such an emergency.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

2 garlic cloves minced
4-6 white anchovy fillets, or 2 tsp anchovy paste (or more to taste)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup of mayo
1/2 cup parmiggiano-reggiano
Fresh ground pepper

I threw all ingredients into a blender and blended until smooth.  It is that easy.
If the dressing is too thick, you can add a bit of water, as needed.  I'd do that as you used it, and not do it all at once though. I normally put the dressing in the bottom of an empty bowl, add a bit of water, throw in the lettuce and toss.  Add croutons if desired.

I didn't add anything to the salad except a mixture of romaine and spinach, and then tossed it in the caesar dressing.  Delicious!

I rarely buy salad dressing, it is so much easier, cheaper and more delicious to make yourself.
Homemade Ranch Mix
Versatile Salad Dressing Recipe
Peppercorn Ranch
Creamy Raspberry Walnut Salad Dressing

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