Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Fluffy Angel Berry Dessert

Best Husband Ever and I finally got a chance to take our full-week vacation at our family lake place. It's not too far away from home, so I invited our neighbors to come join us for dinner.

Ribs, baked beans, potato salad, and corn... oh my!!

Even though I don't usually go out of my way to make any sort of dessert, I got an idea in my head... and you all know where that leads. Light, fluffy, refreshing, easy, and NO BAKING!! It was the perfect ending to this classic summer meal!

Angel food cake ring, cubed

16 oz container strawberries, sliced

18 oz container blueberries, washed

5.1 oz box instant vanilla pudding

Zest and juice of one lemon

1/2 t vanilla

2 C milk

1 C plain Greek yogurt

16 oz container Cool Whip

In large mixing bowl, combine zest, juice, vanilla and milk. Whisk in pudding mix until it starts to thicken. Add yogurt, whisk until thoroughly combined. Gently fold in 2 C. Cool Whip, reserving the rest for topping. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble.

In a large bowl, layer 1/3 each of cake, berries, then pudding mixture. Repeat twice. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with reserved berries and/or Cool Whip, if desired.

This is especially pretty if assembled in a large clear glass bowl.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Slave To The Craving

Everyone gets a craving for certain foods. Sometimes it's just a passing whim; the thought "Oh that sounds good", fluttering around the edges of your mind. Other times, it's a full-on invasion of your brain. Something that simply will not leave you alone until you've had it. 

This meal has been a complete onslaught in my head for the past week (at least). I had to have it.

Yesterday, I finally had the time, ingredients, and energy/motivation to get this deliciousness on the table. Craving vanquished!

Kafta, tabouleh, tzatziki, and pita

First, get the tabouleh and tazatziki going. They only get better the longer they sit. 


1 C. bulgur wheat
2 t. kosher salt
boiling water
1 large bunch parsley, finely chopped
3-4 green onions, sliced
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 large tomato, diced
juice of two large lemons
1/3 C. extra virgin olive oil
1 t. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Place bulgur and 2 t. salt in a large mixing bowl. Add enough boiling water to cover by at least 1". Let stand for 45 minutes. Drain VERY well in a fine-mesh strainer, squeezing out as much liquid as possible. Place bulgur in a large mixing bowl (just use the same one you used to soak in), add remaining ingredients, and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Mix again before serving.


1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and grated
1 t. kosher salt
1 1/2 C. plain Greek-style yogurt (I love Zoi brand... so thick and creamy you don't even need to strain it!)
1/2 C. sour cream (yeah I know... not traditional, but trust me)
2-4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 t. dried dill (or 1 T. fresh)
juice of half a lemon
1/2 t. kosher salt (or to taste)
freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Place grated cucumber in a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl. Thoroughly mix in 1 t. kosher salt and let stand in strainer for about an hour. With your hands, squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Combine cucumber and remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Stir well and taste for additional seasoning before serving.


1 1/2 lb. ground beef (80/20), or equal parts ground beef and lamb
1 T. finely minced garlic
1/3 C. grated onion
1/3 C. finely chopped parsley
1 large egg
1/4 C. plain dry bread crumbs
1 t. kosher salt
1 T. ground coriander
2 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground allspice
1/4 t. cayenne
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

6-10 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl; mix with hands until well blended. Take a small handfull of meat mixture and press around a skewer to form an oblong, about 1 1/2 x 5" (see photo below). Place on baking sheet, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (up to 12 hours). Preheat grill to medium-high. Remove meat skewers from refrigerator, brush lightly with oil, and grill until desired doneness, about 15 minutes. Let rest a few minutes while you heat the pita of your choice on the grill.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Stir-fried Pork and Noodles

Words cannot describe how delicious this is!! Somewhere between pad thai and peanut noodles, this recipes hits all the sweet/salty/savory Asian flavors your face is craving!

In a small bowl, whisk together-

1/2 C soy sauce
1/3 C water
1 T toasted sesame oil
1 T honey
1 T mirin
1 T fish sauce
1 T rice vinegar
juice of one whole lime
5 cloves of garlic, mashed (about a tablespoon)
2 T fresh grated ginger
1/2 t Korean chili flakes
3 T hoisin sauce

1 1/2 lbs. pork loin

Thinly slice 1 1/2 lb pork loin across the grain, into strips 1 1/2" wide. In medium bowl, toss pork with 1/2 C of marinade. Set aside. Let marinate an hour or so.

3 T extra crunchy peanut butter

Whisk PB into remaining marinade to make sauce. Set aside.


snow peas
rice (pho) noodles, 14 oz. noodles soaked in boiling water for 10 min., drained
1 lg carrot, grated
4 green onions, sliced
1/2 C cilantro, chopped


Heat large wok to just smoking. Add 2 t oil. Drain marinade from pork and stir fry until half done. Add snow peas, and stir fry about 30 seconds.. Add carrot, noodles, and sauce mix; stir and cook one minute. Add green onions and cilantro; cook and stir another minute. Remove from heat. Garnish with more hoisin and cilantro, if desired.                                                                                    

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

More fun with leftovers... hash!

Hash has become one of my favorite go-to dinners when I have leftover cooked meat. You can make it with just about anything... beef, pork, chicken, even meatloaf! Plus, you probably already have all the other ingredients on hand. Diced raw potatoes, carrots, and onions are great, but if you have some leftover roasted vegetables, that's even better! Got some cooked beets? Make it red flannel hash! The possibilities are almost endless. Hash is perfect to serve any time of day, too! Break out your biggest cast iron (or other ovenproof) skillet and whip up a batch soon!

This particular batch was diced meatloaf, diced raw potatoes, carrots, and onions, leftover roasted potatoes, carrots, and onions, with farm fresh eggs baked on top. I love it when people give me fresh eggs from their chickens and ducks!

Since this recipe is always made with whatever you happen to have on hand, all amounts are approximate and/or to taste.

diced cooked meat of your choice
diced raw potatoes, carrots, and onions
other chopped veggies you may have (bell peppers, celery, etc.) - optional
chopped leftover roasted vegetables - optional
fat of your choice (butter, oil, BACON GREASE!!!)
milk or half and half
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. Heat fat in a large ovenproof skillet. Fry raw potatoes, carrots, and onion until just starting to brown around the edges. Add meat and cooked vegetables (if using) and fry for a couple minutes more. Add salt and pepper to taste. Start adding milk, a little at a time, until the whole thing looks like it's about to fall apart into mush. Continue to cook (don't stir it too much at this point) until a nice crust starts to form on the bottom. Remove from heat. Make depressions in the hash for your eggs, and break them in. Season the eggs with more salt and pepper. Put the whole shebang in the oven for 8-9 minutes. The whites should be set and the yolks runny. Serve immediately, before the eggs overcook.

Monday, February 6, 2017

In defense of Top Ramen... and leftovers...

Oh, packaged dry ramen... you get such a bad rap. You're cheap, easy, and not particularly attractive on your own. Your little foil packet of seasoning can leave one dehydrated and puffy if misused. Leftovers don't have a much better reputation with a lot of people. I am here to say you CAN make something tasty, beautiful, and marginally nutritious with a package of ramen and pretty much anything you have in your fridge. It only takes a small amount of creativity.


Ain't it purdy?

For this particular bowl, I started the ramen according to the package directions. At the 2 minute mark, I tossed in some leftover cooked broccoli and carrots, just long enough to heat them up. Add the seasoning packet TO TASTE! This is where a lot of people go astray with instant ramen. You don't have to add the full packet! I usually start with half, then add a little more if I need to. Top with fried ham, a boiled egg, sliced green onions, sliced mushrooms, and a little sprinkle of furikake seasoning (look for it in the Asian section at most grocery stores. I get mine at Walmart!). I had some pork egg rolls in the freezer, so they joined the party too. 

Here's another one with leftovers from a previous stir-fry dish of some sort... baby bok choy, carrots, snow peas, fresh shitake mushrooms, mung bean sprouts, Chinese bbq pork, sliced green onions, and a poached duck egg. Omnomnomnom...

I know Top Ramen and leftovers will never make the culinary elite greatest hits, but you can make them into something much greater than you think!

Tamale Pie

Easy, hearty comfort food at it's best!

Tamale Pie

1 lb. ground beef 
1 medium onion, chopped 
1-2 cloves garlic, mashed 
1 (15 1/2 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained 
1 C. tomato sauce 
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, drained 
1 (15 1/2 oz.) can corn, drained (or about 1 1/2 C. frozen)
1/2 C. sliced black olives 
1/3 C. chili powder 
1 t.oregano
2 t. cumin 
1/2 t. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten 
1 C. EACH milk and cornmeal 
1 1/2 C. shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. In large skillet, brown beef, onion, and garlic; drain. Add tomatoes (with liquid), tomato sauce, kidney beans, corn, olives, chili powder, oregano, and cumin; simmer 10 minutes. Spread mixture into 3 qt. casserole. In a medium bowl, combine eggs and milk, then stir in cornmeal. Spoon evenly over meat mixture, making sure cornmeal is well distributed. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until top is set and lightly browned.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sloppy Joes

If your idea of Sloppy Joes is frying up a pound of ground beef and dumping in a can of Manwich sauce, you really need to try this recipe! With only slightly more effort, you can make something from scratch and adjust it to your own tastes.

Sloppy Joes

1 1/2 lb. ground beef 
1/2 C. chopped onion 
1/4 C. chopped red bell pepper 
1/2 C. chopped celery 
1 large carrot, grated 
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce 
1 T. yellow mustard 
1/4-1/3 C. brown sugar 
1/3 C. ketchup 
1 heaping teaspoon chili powder 
few dashes Worcestershire sauce 

Brown meat with the onion, bell pepper, celery, and carrot; drain well. Add remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat to desired thickness (about 20 minutes). Serve over toasted hamburger buns.