Thursday, January 27, 2011


In one of my daily recipe emails I received a recipe for Sweet and Salty Peanut Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I made them and they turned out great! The only substitution I made was since I used salted nuts I did not add any salt.

Cooking Group January 23, 2011

We met on January 23, 2011 at Tonya's house, sans Teresa, who is now (temporarily) in Florida. She was with us in more than spirit... via SKYPE! Below is her shadowy image which is shadowy only because of my photography skills. We saw a getting bigger Ellie and a beautiful screened-in pool.

Carol blessed us with five appetizers and each one was delicious and unique.
  • Sun Dried Tomato Cheesecake Squares (very good and rich)

    1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
    6 tbs chilled, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    1 large egg

    ½ cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (1 tbs oil reserved)
    6 garlic cloves
    2 tsp chopped fresh oregano or ½ tsp dried, crumbled
    3 large eggs
    2 8 oz packages cream cheese, cut into pieces, room temperature
    1 cup sour cream
    ½ cup finely chopped green onions
    Arugula or Boston lettuce, optional

    For Crust:
    Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Blend four with butter in processor using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg and blend just until dough begins to clump together. Press dough onto bottom of 9 x 13 baking dish (dough will be thin). Bake until light golden brown, about 10 minutes (crust may crack). Cool. Maintain oven temperature.

    For Filling:Finely chop sun-dried tomatoes with 1 tbs reserved oil, garlic, and oregano in processor. Blend in eggs. Add cream cheese and blend until smooth. Add sour cream and blend until combined. Transfer tomato filling to bowl. Mix in finely chopped green onions. Season filling with salt and pepper.

    Pour filling into crust. Bake until filling puffs and is light brown, about 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Cut into squares and arrange squares on lettuce lined platter.

  • Waikiki Meatballs (served in bite sized portions in spoons with a meatball and pineapple piece)

  • Fresh Tomato-Basil Caprese Kabobs

    ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
    2 tbs lemon juice
    2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil of lemon basil leaves
    ¼ tsp salt
    ¼ tsp ground black pepper
    1 pint red cherry tomatoes
    1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes
    2 medium zucchini or yellow squash, cubed
    1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
    34 (6-inch) bamboo skewers
    Fresh basil leaves, if desired

    In large bowl mix oil, lemon juice, basil, salt and pepper using wire whisk. Add tomatoes, zucchini and cheese. Cover and refrigerate about 30 minutes.

    Drain vegetables, reserving oil mixture. Thread skewers alternately with tomatoes, zucchini and cheese. Top with basil leaf. Serve kabobs with reserved olive oil mixture.

  • Creamy Shrimp Dip (this was delicious and so creamy!)

    1 package 1/3 less fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened
    3 to 4 tbs fat free (skim) milk
    1 tsp lemon herb seasoning
    1 can (4 oz) tiny shrimp, drained
    1 tbs sliced green onion (1 medium)
    1 tbs chopped green bell pepper
    2 large red bell peppers, cut in 1 ½ inch pieces
    32 leaves fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley

    In small bowl mix cream cheese, milk and lemon herb seasoning until smooth. Add shrimp, onion and green bell pepper and mix well.

    Scoop mixture into red bell pepper pieces. Cover and refrigerate until serving time. Just before serving top each with a parsley leaf.

I found the salad recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Fresh Goat Cheese off of Alexis Stewart's Blog. It was a complicated salad worthy of the Gourmet Gals. The simplest part was the dressing and the roasted cauliflower was very good and could be served on its own as a side dish.

The main dish, as chosen by Tonya, was a Rachel Ray 30 Minute Meals recipe for Chicken with Wild Mushroom and Balsamic Cream Sauce. It was rich and hearty with a delicate, creamy sauce. We served it over orzo and on the side was Carol's beautiful Sweet Pea and Carrot Saute. With the chicken, mushrooms, pasta, peas and carrots, a square meal was shared by all!

Last, but not least, in celebration of NATIONAL PIE DAY, Janet prepared Emeril Lagasse's Key Lime Pie. It was amazing! Janet lovingly juiced 45 little key limes for our pie and you could taste the fresh juice. The lime zest also made for such a pretty presentation.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pig Cake

Pig cake? Yes. A new recipe posted on my favorite blog, The Pioneer Woman. It reminds me of the kind of cake a lady at church brings to every pot luck. It uses a yellow cake mix as the base and adds a few ingredients. I used all the juice from the can of Mandarin oranges (about 3/4 cups). I also mixed it so well that it was hard to find any bits of the oranges in the finished cake.

The "icing" is wonderful and very simple to make.

My parents and I thought this cake was delicious and besides using all of the Mandarin orange juice, I would not change a thing.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup

I went on an almost 3,000 mile road trip from December 26, 2010 - December 31, 2010. During the trip I experienced tumbleweeds, hurricane strength winds, Texas State Troopers, snow, sleet and beautiful country sides in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. In a quest to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, food has to be fast. This usually means that food is not healthy, though it is very tasty. McDonald's sausage biscuits melt in your mouth and I am sure are served in heaven.

Therefore, to start off 2011, I wanted to detoxify from the fast food from the trip as well as holiday eating from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I recently read Self magazine and it has a great jump start diet for 2011 that includes easy to prepare, wholesome foods. I also read Experience Life Magazine and I found the perfect recipe to go with the Self diet. The recipe fulfills my recent craving for soups and beans, too.

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup was featured in an article about a young woman and her journey for a healthier lifestyle. (The recipe is at the bottom of the article). I added two shredded carrots and some salsa I wanted to finish. I used chicken broth and fresh thyme. The soup is very good with a nice, thick texture thanks to the pumpkin (though the pumpkin does not add any flavor). The soup is reminiscent of a tortilla soup and I think it would be very good with some shredded chicken, cilantro and maybe some corn.

Happy New Year!!