Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I made Salmon Florentine with Quinoa Pilaf tonight and it was delicious. I clipped the recipe out of a magazine, but I found it on several websites so I could link it. I did not find ricotta cheese (it was not with the cream cheese or sour cream... I guess it is with the cheddar/mozzarella??) and thought I would use some cream cheese I had left over in the fridge. The cream cheese ended up being shortening, so I instead used a couple tablespoons of butter and some Parmesan cheese and it was very tasty. Season the spinach mixture well before you put it on the salmon. Also, I think you could put in twice as many tomatoes as called for.

Quinoa is rather new to me and I like how versatile it is. I think next time I would use shallots with it, too, rather than onions, but it was still good.

Monday, July 26, 2010

July 2010

We met at Janet's on July 18, 2010. Teresa could not make it and Jennifer, Carol's daughter, joined us.

The menu:

Appetizer (Mary): Crab cakes

Main Dish (Janet): Scallops in cream sauce

Side Dish (Angie): Nonna Luna's rice

Side Dish (Carol/Jennifer): Primavera Vegetable Medley
Salad (Carol/Jennifer): Boston Lettuce Salad

Dessert (Tonya): Peach cobbler
We started off with Mary's crab cakes. They were delicious! Mary did tell us that she could not get the cakes to brown in the oven, so she browned them on the stove. The cakes were very meaty and had a great flavor.
We made the main dish, Sea Scallops in Cream Sauce, together. The fresh herbs really made it taste bright and fresh. The dish was such a pretty color, with the white sauce, green herbs and red tomatoes. We discussed small islands as we ate this dish (read the entire recipe to get this reference).

For sides, we had both a complicated one and the easiest one in the history of cooking club. Jennifer and Carol brought a beautiful, colorful, healthy side called Primevera Vegetable Medley. Again, this dish had fresh herbs and it was delicious. I mixed my left overs with pasta and it was very good!
Primavera Vegetable Medley
Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 tbs butter
2 tbs olive oil
1 (8 oz) container baby Portobello mushrooms
1 large onion, cut in to 1-inch pieces
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large carrots, sliced 1/8 inch thick
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 large yellow squash, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (8 oz) package sugar snap peas
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 tbs chopped fresh basil
1 tbs chopped fresh thyme
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tsp finely grated lemon zest

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat butter and olive oil until butter is melted. Add mushrooms, onion, bell peppers, carrots and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add squash, asparagus, snap peas, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until vegetables are crisp tender. Add basil, thyme, lemon juice and lemon zest, stirring to combine.

I made rice as a side because I thought it would soak up the cream sauce while not being too heavy, like a potato dish. I found a similar recipe, with seafood and cream, that included rice, so that is what I used.

Both the salad and dressing were wonderful! A little trick I learned about left over salad... put the dressing on the bottom of your container, then put the salad on top. When you are ready to eat, mix it all together. This keeps the lettuce from wilting.

Boston Lettuce Salad
Makes 12 servings

3 tbs honey
3 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs tarragon wine vinegar
2 tbs minced Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Shaved Parmesan cheese to garnish

3-4 heads Boston lettuce, torn into bit size pieces
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
½ small red onion, very thinly sliced
2/3 cup toasted pine nuts

To prepare the dressing:

Whisk together the honey, lemon juice, vinegar, parsley and garlic. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. This can also be made with a food processor. Refrigerate until serving time.

To prepare the salad:

Combine all salad ingredients and toss together with enough dressing to lightly coat the lettuce leaves. Garnish with shaved cheese and serve immediately.

Tonya made a scrumptious Peach Cobbler that started as a blueberry cobbler recipe. She served it with a side of Blue Bell Vanilla, which made us all very happy.

As a bonus, we had a taste of a Grilled Rhubarb Brown Betty that Janet made for her husband. It was amazing (though my photo is not). She did add some strawberries, which is a common ingredient with rhubarb.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Healthy Eating!

Janet's Trail Mix

Macadamia nuts (unsalted) 4 ounces

Almonds (unsalted) 8 ounces

Pumpkin/Sunflower seeds (salted) 2 ounces

Cashews (unsalted) 4 ounces

Walnuts (unsalted) 4 ounces

Dried mixed berries 8 ounces

You can substitute any of the nuts/dried fruits that you would like. I thought pecans and/or pistachios would be good in it too. This is a little pricey, but it makes a ton. I also added some raisins to stretch it.


I recently purchased the Oyster Beehive Blender and I am really happy with it. I make smoothies a few times a week. I recently read a review of a cookbook that instead of giving exact measurements it says "throw in some of this and mix in some of that" and that is how I will give my smoothie recipe!

handful of ice cubes

couple of big dollops of fat free, plain yogurt (I like Brown Cow)

1 banana

handful of strawberries

couple of swirls of honey

dash of vanilla

couple of large sprinkles of wheat germ (I usually cover the top surface area)

add milk to desired thickness

I have found that smoothies can be saved in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Just stir it again, as it separates, before drinking.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Friday I was a "sous chef" at Well Done Cooking in their new location. It was fun and I even had my own private lesson on rolling sushi! The secret is dipping your fingers in the vinegar water so the rice does not stick to your fingers as you are placing it in the seaweed paper. I made both a California Roll and a Surf and Turf roll with salmon and steak. Also really unique, I thought, was we used butter and browned panko bread crumbs to add crunch to the rolls.

Sunday I made Cherries in the Snow. I first had this dessert years ago with the original cooking group bunch. It was so refreshing and looks very pretty. Great for beating the heat!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Enchilada Casserole

Enchilada Casserole is another recipe from The Happy Cooker, Wanda. If you have not signed up for her newsletter, I suggest you do! This was super delicious and easy to put together. It should also re-heat well.

Enchilada Casserole (with my modifications)
  • 12 corn tortillas cut in half (Wanda calls for frying the tortillas in hot oil for 15 seconds. I did not find this necessary and cut the tortillas into quarters)
  • 2 - 10 oz cans Old El Paso enchilada sauce (I used 1 spicy and 1 mild)
  • 1 pound ground beef (I used ground turkey, 85% lean)
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 - 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 chopped small onion
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded jalapeno jack cheese or Monterrey jack cheese (I only used about 1 cup of cheddar for all cheese as I wanted to lighten this up)
  • chopped green onion and cilantro for garnish

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

(If you want, fry up and drain tortillas until soft, 15 seconds. I really do not think this is necessary.)

In a large skillet, brown ground beef/turkey until no longer pink. Drain excess fat and add 1/2 cup water and taco seasoning mix. I added the onions to the beef at this point, but Wanda calls to layer them. Cook until water is absorbed.

In 13 x 9 pan, layer:

1 can enchilada sauce, 1/2 of the tortillas, all of the ground beef/turkey, all of the black beans, onions (if not already in the meat), 3 cups cheese (I only used 1/2 cup), 1/2 tortillas, 1 can enchilada sauce and last two cups of cheese (1/2 cup for me).

Bake uncovered 40 minutes until cheese is melted and lightly browned. Sprinkle with green onions and/or cilantro and serve.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Butterscotch Toffee Pecan Cookies

Update: This cookie won 1st place in my office's cookie exchange in 2010!!!

I found a new recipe website, The Happy Cooker, that has a weekly newsletter of recipes. I have been collecting the ones I like (you have to print them as they are not archived) and finally made one.

I liked all the ingredients in these Butterscotch Toffee Pecan Cookies, especially the part where it starts with a yellow cake mix! These received rave reviews by my friends and I liked the way they stayed chewy. Enjoy!

Butterscotch Toffee Pecan Cookies

1 yellow cake mix
1/2 cup melted butter or oil
1/4 cup water
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 (11 oz) package butterscotch morsel chips
1 cup Heath toffee bits
1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together butter/oil, water, egg and vanilla until mixed well. Add cake mix and stir by hand just until mixed. Stir in butterscotch chips, toffee bits and pecans until combined. Drop by tablespoons onto baking sheet. Bake 12 to 14 minutes until lightly browned on edges. Makes about 3 dozen.