{In case you're wondering, that means "Everyone to the table to eat!" in Italian}

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Parrot Bay Coconut Shrimp

This is the copycat recipe of Red Lobster's Coconut Shrimp. I got it from Todd Wilbur's cookbook Top Secret Restaurant Recipes. I've been wanting to try it for a while now, but neither Dustin nor I wanted to go to the liqueur store to get the necessary rum for the recipe. So while we were in El Paso, I asked Ray to get me some. Sarah and I tried the recipe that night and, oh my, was it delicious! Dustin, Sarah and Ray all proclaimed it as good as the original.
Parrot Bay Coconut Shrimp
For the pina colada dipping sauce:
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 c. pina colada mix (liquid)
1/4 c. crushed pineapple
2 tb. sugar
For the shrimp:
6-10 c. canola oil (enough to deep fry)
12 lg. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 c. flour, divided
2 tb. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
2 tb. Captain Morgan's Parrot Bay Coconut Rum
1 c. panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 c. shredded coconut
Mix all pina colada sauce ingredients together, put in refrigerator to chill. Heat oil to 350 degrees. Butterfly the shrimp by making a cut about 2/3 of the way through the shrimp where the vein was. Put 3/4 c. flour in 1 bowl. Mix other 3/4 c. flour, sugar, salt, milk and rum in 2nd bowl. Let rest 5 minutes. Mix panko and coconut in 3rd bowl. Dip shrimp in flour, then batter, then coconut/panko mixture. Fry in hot oil for 2-3 minutes, or until shrimp are golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with pina colada dipping sauce. YUM!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mandarin Spinach Salad

I love making this salad as a side, but it's also great with meat in it as a full meal. I served it with home-made bread and jam. You can use any meat you like, and whatever fruit is in season. I usually make a home-made fruit viniagrette with jam, olive oil, red-wine vinegar, salt and pepper, but you can also buy a fruity viniagrette in the salad dressing section.
Mandarin Spinach Salad
1 bag baby spinach
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1 c. chopped apples or pears, sliced strawberries, or whole blueberries or raspberries
1/2 c. glazed almonds, pecans or walnuts
1 c. chopped ham, chicken or turkey
Your choice fruity viniagrette dressing
Mix baby spinach, fruit, meat, and nuts in large bowl. Place on plates and top with dressing. Serve with bread or rolls. For a side dish you can just leave out the meat. It is very yummy!

Cranberry-Orange Sauce

I love whole-berry cranberry sauce, and it's even better home-made! So yummy on turkey sandwiches, too! It only takes about 15 minutes to make.
Cranberry-Orange Sauce
1 bag fresh cranberries
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. orange juice
1/2 c. water
Mix all ingredients in saucepan. Bring to boil , turn heat to low. Simmer 10 minutes, or until most skins are cracked on cranberries, stirring occasionally. Cool, store in refrigerator to set up.

Peanutty Asian Noodles

I got this recipe from my friend Sara Muir, and I added the edamame to the recipe. The kids love it and it's chock-full of veggies and protein! Plus it's easy!
Peanutty Asian Noodles
8 oz. spaghetti (I use whole grain), cooked and drained,
reserve 2 tb. cooking liquid
1 lb. chicken, cut into cubes & sprinkled w/ salt
1/2 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
2 tb. sesame seeds, divided
1 tb. brown sugar
2 tb. rice vinegar
2 tb. soy sauce
1 tb. lime juice
1/2 tsp Tabasco
2 tsp. canola oil
2 c. matchstick carrots
1/2 c. sliced green onions
1 c. shelled edamame, cooked
Heat oil in large fry pan or wok. Meanwhile, combine broth, p.b., 1 1/2 tb. sesame seeds, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice and Tabasco. Cook chicken in hot oil for about 3 minutes. Add carrots and green onions, saute 3 minutes more. Stir in sauce, pasta, edamame, and reserved 2 tb. cooking liquid. Toss and heat just until sauce thickens. Top with remaining sesame seeds.

Turtle Pumpkin Pie

Thought it would be fun to try this recipe from Kraft instead of the traditional pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving this year. It was really good, especially if you are a caramel/nut lover!
Turtle Pumpkin Pie
1 graham cracker pie crust
1/4 c. caramel topping
1/2 c. pecan pieces
1 c. cold milk
2 sm. pkg. instant vanilla pudding
1 c. canned pumpkin
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 sm. tub cool whip
Pour caramel topping into crust, sprinkle w/ pecans. Beat milk, pudding, pumpkin and spices. Stir in 1 1/2 c. cool whip. Spread into crust. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Top w/ remaining cool whip, and more caramel and nuts if desired.

White Bean and Ham Soup

Okay, finally, here is the recipe for the soup that I make using the leftover hambone. You could use any kind of beans you like, or lentils or split peas, I just like white beans best.
White Bean and Ham Soup
1 lb. white or other beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
1 meaty hambone
1 sm. onion, chopped
2 cubes chicken bouillon
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1 bay leaf, salt and pepper
Rinse and drain your soaked beans. Place all ingredients in a crock-pot. Fill with enough water to cover beans (about 6-8 cups). Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours. Remove bay leaf and bone, chop meat into small pieces, and add meat back to soup. Serve with hot bread or rolls.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Big Splurges

I am not a big name-brand shopper-for the most part, I think store-brands are just as good. But I do have a few products that I splurge on because I think they are worth it for one reason or another. Here they are, and why I like them:

Jif-it's just my favorite peanut butter.
C&H brown sugar-packaging mostly, the store brands don't have zippers, so they always dry out before I use it all.

Florida's Natural OJ- it's the only one that the juice is all from the US- even Tropicana, Dole and Minute Maid have juice from other countries. I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous.
Hidden Valley Ranch- not only do I refuse to buy fat-free (yuck!), but this is the only brand that will suffice for me!
Barilla Plus or Whole Grain Pasta- the Plus has veggies, the Whole Grain it's obvious, and white pasta is so bad for you- this stuff tastes as good if not better (and fills you up quicker)!
Challenge Spreadable butter- margarine is so nasty-tasting and bad for you with all that hydrogenated unpronouncable stuff, you might as well eat the real thing- this butter is mixed with canola oil (good for you) so it's spreadable straight from the fridge (I've tried other brands and they're not so spreadable).
Sara Lee whole wheat bread- not dense and chewy like most wheat breads, but still 100 %. Actually I like other breads too, I just refuse to buy any that aren't 100% whole grain. A lady in Lehi asked me how I got my kids to eat whole wheat bread- they eat it great, they don't know white bread even exists!

Crisco stick shortening- I pretty much only use shortening for pie crusts, it's so nice to just cut a piece off instead of measuring the goopy, yucky, greasy stuff!
Deli lunchmeat (turkey, ham, roast beef, salami)- can't stand the processed stuff- and it's actually not usually cheaper anyway if you look at the weight.
Kraft mayo- I know it's dumb, but it's the new jar. So easy to get it all out without getting it all over your hands! I also like this new olive oil kind, at least a little better for you (another thing I refuse to buy fat-free).
La Costena refried beans- mentioned in a previous post, these taste as good as restaurant ones, thanks to lard (no 98 % fat-free here). In the authentic Mexican brands section.
Pace Chunky Salsa- okay, I really like restaurant salsas best, but for store-bought this is the best!
Progresso or Campbell's non-condensed soups (but not Campbell's Healthy Request)- they are yummier, more filling, and sometimes on sale for a pretty good price!
Del Monte Italian green beans- these wide beans are tastier than the regular kind- we've grown them in our garden and canned them (they are called romas in the seed catalogs), but when we don't have those we buy these.

Roasted Squash Soup

I think I got this recipe from a Martha Stewart show. It is a good, easy, warm fall dinner.
Roasted Squash Soup
1 large butternut squash
8 sprigs thyme (or ground thyme)
salt and pepper
1 head garlic
1 tb. olive oil
3 c. chicken broth
Spray baking sheet liberally with oil. Cut squash in half, remove seeds. Spray cut sides with cooking spray, season with salt and pepper. Tuck 4 sprigs thyme in each cavity (if using ground, sprinkle on each half). Place cut sides down on baking sheet. Place garlic head on square of foil, Pour olive oil on and sprinkle with salt. Seal foil, place on baking sheet. Bake squash and garlic at 425 degrees for 40 minutes, or until squash is tender. Remove from oven, take out thyme sprigs, cool until can touch. Scoop flesh into blender, squeeze 4 cloves roasted garlic in (save rest for another use), add 1 c. chicken broth. Pulse until smooth. Pour into saucepan and add remaining broth. Stir and heat until heated through. Season with s & p if desired. Serve warm with crusty french bread.

Mimi's Baked Ham

This is the ham I remember eating for Christmas dinner as a kid. While ham seems expensive, I figure at $1.69 a pound it was cheaper than chicken breasts, and we always get several meals out of it. So for about $12.00 we got a ham dinner, 2 quart bags of leftover meat (I'll use that in omelettes, sandwiches, or a casserole) and a meaty ham bone which I'll use to make my favorite White Bean and Ham Soup (check tomorrow for that recipe).
Mimi's Baked Ham
1 Cook's butt half ham
1 can cranberry sauce
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. juice (orange, pineapple, etc)
2 tb. mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
Line large roasting pan with double-layer of foil, cut long. Cut excess fat off outside of ham and around bone in the center, place on foil. Mix all other ingredients in saucepan, heat on medium until all mixed together and heated. Pour sauce into hole in ham and all over it. Wrap extra foil around ham and seal, leaving space inside for heat to circulate. Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes per pound. I served mine with scalloped potatoes and asparagus. YUM!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Meatless Lasagna

As I started making my menu for this week on Sunday night, I realized I was at a loss for ideas, so Dustin said he'd make the menu. Usually this ends up being game meat ideas or pancakes, which I reject, but this time he had some great ideas. His menu was: Monday-Pork chops with applesauce and green beans, Tuesday-Chicken Divan and rice, Wednesday-Lasagna with french bread, Thursday-Scrambled eggs, bacon and hashbrowns, and Friday-Ribeye steaks (YUM!). My contributions this week- Saturday will be pizza night and Sunday we're having ham, scalloped potatoes and asparagus. Of course I'm still cooking it all, but it was nice not to have to think about the menu for once. Thanks, Dustin- great ideas! I always make my lasagna meatless- it's cheaper, there's already protein with all the cheeses, and I like it better! This time we tried whole wheat lasagna noodles, and it still turned out great! I served it with spaghetti squash (a la the Webster garden) and French bread.
Meatless Lasagna
12 lasagna noodles, cooked al dente and drained
15 oz. low-fat cottage cheese
4 c. shredded mozzerella, divided
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1 tb. parsley
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 jar your favorite spaghetti sauce (I love roasted garlic)
While your pasta is cooking, mix cottage cheese, 2 c. mozzarella, parmesan, eggs, parsley and pepper in bowl. Spread 3/4 c. spaghetti sauce on bottom of 13 x 9 pan. Lay 4 lasagna noodles, overlapping, in pan. Spread on 1/2 of cheese mixture. Spread on 3/4 c. more of sauce. Layer 4 more noodles, remaining cheese mixture, and 3/4 c. sauce again. Top with last 4 noodles, remaining sauce, and last 2 c. of mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil, bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes more. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving (this helps it set up so your lasagna isn't watery). Enjoy!
Variation for Spinach Lasagna: Sometimes I add a layer of baby spinach leaves on top of each cheese mixture layer- it adds extra nutrients and the kids hardly notice it's there!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Allspice Meatball Stew

This is a recipe my mom made for us when we were visiting last winter. It is so easy and delicious!
Allspice Meatball Stew
1 lb. frozen meatballs
2 cans green beans, drained (the Italian ones are good)
1/2 lb. baby carrots, cut in half
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans (about 4 cups) beef broth
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
cooked rice
Mix all ingredients except rice in large pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and cover, simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until carrots are tender. Serve over rice.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Red Enchiladas

Okay, for those of you who are thinking "This looks weird", let me explain. This is a modified version of my grandpa Poppi's Red Enchilada recipe. When I was a kid it was made by layering fried corn tortillas, onions, red enchilada sauce, and cheese on individual plates, then they were baked in the oven on the plate and topped with a fried egg when they came out. I have made them this way, but the plates are really hot (especially to serve to kids), so I made it in a casserole dish. I also added cream of mushroom soup to the red sauce to tame the spiciness down for the kids. But of course, it still must be served with a fried egg on top (it really is yummy!). Tradition, TRADITION! I always serve Mexican food with refried beans and corn, if you aren't impressed with canned refried beans give these a shot, they are great (thanks to lard- no 98% fat-free here). They are La Costena brand, I get them at Albertson's by the real Mexican foods (not by the other refried beans). And as for the orange juice, when we got married Dustin informed me that meals have certain drinks that go with them, thus a meal is either a milk-meal or a juice-meal. Soup is a milk meal, Mexican's always a juice meal. Thus the juice.
Red Enchiladas
24 corn tortillas
vegetable oil
1 lg. can red enchilada sauce
1 sm. can cream of mushroom soup
1 sm. onion, chopped
1 lb. (4 cups) colby-jack or cheddar cheese, grated
eggs for frying
Heat about an inch of oil on medium heat in a small frying pan. Fry each tortilla about 5 seconds each side, drain on paper towels. Pour out extra oil, saute onions until soft. Mix red enchilada sauce, soup and onions in bowl (if you want the original flavor, leave out the soup). Spray 13 x 9 pan with cooking spray. Lay 6 tortillas on bottom of pan. Layer 1/4 of the sauce and 1 cup of the cheese on top. Continue with 3 more layers. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. Fry enough eggs for everyone eating, serve each slice of enchiladas with a fried egg on top.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Spicy Zucchini Soup

This is one of my personal favorite soup recipes. I got it from a teacher I worked with in Fort Collins, Mary Miller. It's a great way to use some of that pesky zucchini from your garden, but I like it enough to buy zucchini in the winter to make it! I serve it with french bread.
Spicy Zucchini Soup
1 lg. or 2 sm. zucchini, washed and sliced 1/2" thick
1 lb. hot Italian sausage (I use mild, so it's not that spicy)
1 sm. onion, chopped
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Brown sausage and onion, drain. Place all ingredients in a crock-pot. Add enough water to make the consistency you desire, season with salt and pepper if needed. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours. Serve with french bread.

Chocolate Almond Pie

This is, by far, no doubt about it, our very favorite pie. It is simply fabulous! I always make it for my in-laws, Jeff and Jullee, for their birthdays, Mother's and Father's Day. (I hope they really love it as much as they say they do!). I got the recipe from my good friend Sara Muir (it's her mom's recipe), and though I do love it being my "specialty", I finally decided to quit being selfish and share it. Just don't make it for Dustin's family, or I'll have nothing special to take!
Chocolate Almond Pie
1/2 c. soft butter
3/4 c. sugar
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted & cooled
2 eggs
2 1/2 c. cool whip
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 c. slivered or sliced almonds
baked pie crust
Cream butter and sugar. Stir in cooled chocolate. Add 1 egg and beat for 5 minutes. Add remaining egg and beat 5 minutes more. Fold in cool whip, almond flavoring, and almonds. Pour into pie crust and chill for at least 1 hour. Keep leftovers (if there are any) in refrigerator.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Chicken Italian

This is one of our all-time favorites (Dustin really loves it, and he usually doesn't like Italian food). It is another of Mimi's delicious recipes. I served it with steamed brocolli and buttery garlic noodles.
Chicken Italian
1- 1 1/2 lbs. chicken breast, sliced thin
1/3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 tb. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
8 oz. tomato sauce
1/2 c. chicken broth
1 tb. white wine (I use cooking wine)
Saute mushrooms and onion in 2 tb. olive oil. Remove from pan. Mix flour, salt & pepper in large plastic bag. Shake chicken in flour mixture. Brown chicken in remaining 2 tb. olive oil. Add tomato sauce, broth, and white wine to pan. Add mushrooms and onions back to pan. Turn heat to low, cover, and simmer about 25 minutes. Serve with noodles.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cheese Tortellini Soup

I got this recipe from Parents magazine a few years ago. We all love it- in fact the kids each ate several bowls! Anytime they eat their vegetables without complaining, dinner was a success! Plus it's fast and easy!
Cheese Tortellini Soup
3 slices bacon, diced
1/2 c. onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
32 oz. (4 cups) chicken broth
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
16 oz. frozen cheese tortellini
Cook bacon and onion until browned. Add garlic and cook a few seconds more. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add spinach and tortellini, bring back to boil. Cook until pasta is tender (check package directions). Serve with crusty bread or crackers.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Maryland Crab Cakes

After a late-night cooking show, I got a hankering for crab cakes, so I searched out recipes on the internet. The recipe called for fresh lump crabmeat, but I used canned to save money. I'm sure the fresh would be way better, but these were yummy anyway! I served them with my grandma Mimi's Favorite Avocado Salad (recipe below) and Dustin's grandma Patty's homemade rolls.
Maryland Crab Cakes
1 lb. lump crab meat
2 tb. mayonnaise
1-2 tsp. yellow mustard
1 large egg
salt and pepper, to taste
breadcrumbs or panko crumbs
oil and butter
Mix mayo, mustard, egg, s & p. Fold in crab meat. Shape into 6-8 patties. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm up (up to 24 hours). Heat 1 tb. each oil and butter in pan. Place bread or panko crumbs on a plate. Carefully place each patty in crumbs, turn over to coat other side. Cook 3-4 patties at a time over medium heat in oil/butter mixture, 5 minutes per side. Makes about 3-4 servings, 2 patties each.

Favorite Avocado Salad

I did help my mom in the kitchen a lot growing up, but I will always remember my time with Mimi, watching her cook, as a special time in my childhood. In fact, as a young teenager I cooked up a plan to someday open a restaurant with Mimi. I told her I'd run the restaurant, and she'd be the head chef (I'm sure she was thrilled about that! She went along, anyway, though). I even named our future restaurant- Mimi's Cafe- yes, I know someone stole the name from us, but this was before there were any Mimi's Cafes around. I don't know if this is actually Mimi's favorite avocado salad, but that's what she called it in the little index book of recipes she gave me when I left for college. If you like avocados, you'll love this!
Favorite Avocado Salad
2 avocados
4 lettuce leaves
3 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/2 cup ranch or green goddess dressing
Cut avocados in half, remove pit and carefully scoop each half out of shell. Place lettuce leaves on plates, top with avocado halves. Salt if desired. Mix crumbled bacon and dressing of choice, spoon over avocados. Serves 4. Yum!

Homemade Oreos

My sister-in-law Jaycee introduced this recipe to the family. These cookies are so good, Oreo doesn't deserve to be the namesake!
Homemade Oreos
1 devil's food cake mix
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
2 eggs
Cream cheese frosting
Mix cake mix, softened butter, and eggs with mixer. Scoop into balls onto cookie sheets (should make about 2 dozen). Cook at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool completely. Sandwich 2 cookies together with plenty of cream cheese frosting in the middle. Makes 12 cookies. You might want to double the recipe!
Tip: You can substitute any flavor cake mix and frosting, such as German Chocolate with coconut-pecan frosting, etc.