Saturday, January 31, 2009

Spinach Spread w Mushroom and Tomato

Cheese and Spinach Spread with Mushrooms and Tomatoes

1 1/4 cups sour cream
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (4-5 cloves)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and white or black pepper to taste
2 cups (8 oz.) Shredded Mozzarella & Provolone Cheese
1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry*
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes with garlic, drained
1 (8 oz.) package sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup (2 oz.) Shredded Parmesan Cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine sour cream, olive oil, garlic, nutmeg,
salt, pepper and Mozzarella cheese in blender or food processor. Blend
until smooth.

Fold in spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
Transfer to 10-inch baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake
30-40 minutes until cheese is melted. Serve warm with toasted pita bread
triangles, chips or breadsticks.

Do-Ahead Tip:
Conveniently, this tastes even better when made
one day ahead and reheated.

*Cooking Tip if using fresh spinach instead of frozen:
Use 10 oz. baby spinach leaves and cook spinach for
3 minutes in 2 tablespoons water in saucepan over low
to medium heat. Stir gently until wilted. Rinse in cold
water, drain well and squeeze dry.

Quesadilla Triangles

Cheese, Chorizo and Bean Quesadilla Triangles

3rd Quarter
1 1/2 lbs. spicy breakfast sausage
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 can (30 oz.) refried beans
2 cups (8 oz.) Shredded Authentic Mexican Cheese, divided
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup chopped fresh green onions
10 (7-inch) flour tortillas
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
Guacamole and salsa for toppings

Do-Ahead Tip: The chorizo, bean and cheese mixture can be
made a day ahead of time.

Crumble chorizo and brown with chili flakes in skillet until crisp, about 8
minutes, and drain on paper towels. In a bowl, mix chorizo with refried beans and
1 cup cheese.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Brush 1-1/2 Tbsp. oil over one side of 5 tortillas. Place
oiled sides down on foil-lined baking sheet. Set remaining 5 tortillas aside.
Spoon 3-4 generous tablespoons chorizo mixture on each of the five tortillas on
the baking sheet and evenly flatten and spread to edges with back of spoon. Top
each tortilla with 3 generous tablespoons each, of chopped cilantro and green
onion. Sprinkle each with 3 generous tablespoons cheese. Place remaining
5 tortillas on top of the others, pressing down to secure filling. Brush each tortilla
top with remaining oil.

Bake until golden brown on one side, about 5 minutes. Turn over with big
spatula to brown other side and until cheese is melted. Cut into 6 triangles per
tortilla round, platter and serve with guacamole and salsa.

Polenta Pesto

Polenta Pesto Crescents

1 tube (16 oz.) pre-cooked polenta, cut into 1/2-inch slices and cut into halves
Olive oil cooking spray
1 cup (4 oz.) Shredded Mozzarella
& Provolone Cheese
1/2 cup (4 oz.) finely chopped pitted black olives
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
Fresh black pepper to taste
1/2 cup (4 oz.) pesto sauce, drained

Do-Ahead Tip: You can prepare the polenta base a
few days ahead. Polenta should be stored in an
airtight container in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Spray each side of sliced polenta with cooking spray and place on foil-lined
baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes; turn and bake 8 - 10 minutes more.
In a bowl, mix cheese, olives, basil and pepper. Spread each polenta crescent
with a teaspoon pesto sauce. Top each with 1 Tbsp. cheese mixture. Broil 2-3
minutes until cheese is melted, bubbly and golden. Platter and serve immediately.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Site of the Day

I have so much to do today, but I'm giddily distracted by this:

Maybe if I behave and be responsible today, then I can reward myself at Barnes and Noble next week. You think?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lemon Supreme

I just realized I forgot Bonnie's birthday! Last year I gave her something fudgy and decadent. This year, something light and refreshing I think.

Lemon Supreme Pound Cake

4 eggs
1 pkg lemon cake mix
1 pkg vanilla instant pudding mix
3/4 c water
1/2 c oil
1 T lemon juice

2 c confectioner's sugar
1/3 c orange juice

Beat eggs until thick and lemon colored. Add cake, dry pudding,
lemon juice, water and oil. Mix well. Pour into ungreased 10 in.
tube pan w removable bottom. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or
until done. Remove cake from oven and prick hot cake w fork.
Drizzle glaze over top and sides.

Combine confectioner's sugar and orange juice and gently heat
to boiling.

Note: I'm going to use this in a 9x13 instead and adjust the cooking time accordingly. Also going to add about 3 handfuls of blueberries for fun :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Potato Indulgence

Gleaned from Serious Eats.

Loaded Baked Potato Potato Chip Nachos

- serves 4 to 8 -


1 seven-ounce bag of kettle-cooked potato chips
1 medium russet potato, peeled, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper
4 strips thick-cut bacon -- (veggie bacon for the rest of us)
1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
2 to 3 scallions, sliced
1/4 cup sour cream


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Place the peeled and cubed potato in a small sauce pan, and just cover it with cold water and a pinch of salt. Place the lid on the pot, crank the heat up to high, and cook the potatoes until they are fork tender.

3. To make the mashed potato topping, drain the potatoes and put them back in their hot pot (but not on a lit burner), just so a bit of the excess moisture will evaporate. Then pass the potatoes through a ricer, and add the butter and milk to the potatoes and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper. If you do not have a ricer, don't despair. Just add the butter and milk to the chunks of potatoes and mash with a potato masher.

4. For the bacon bits, slice each thick-cut strip of bacon in half lengthwise, and then cut the thin strips about every quarter inch to create little squares. Put the bacon pieces into a small sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat, and cook until crisp, but not crisp all the way through, because they will continue to crisp slightly when you melt the cheese in the oven, and you don't want them to burn. Drain on a paper towel.

5. Fill an oven-safe wide plate with the chips. You don't need to use all of each topping; really, when building nachos, it depends on which chips and which dish you end up choosing. So just dollop away to your preference. Begin first with the mashed potatoes, then the extra sharp cheddar cheese, then the bacon bits, and lastly the scallions. Place the plate on a baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes in the 400°F oven.

6. Lastly, dollop some sour cream over the top of the nachos, and serve straight from the oven, hot and gooey and really, really good.

Variation from heelsonbricks: Another variation of potato chip nachos that I love is to sprinkle kettle chips with gorgonzola, bake until the cheese is softened, and drizzle on some reduced balsamic vinegar. Mmm.


Italian Vegetable Bake

It's so cold outside right now. Days like this I always seem to gravitate towards my oven in search of warmth and comfort. This looks good for tonight's dinner. I think I'll saute' some Terkettes in olive oil and garlic and Italian seasoning and add it into the veggie mix. Looks like it could use some other tweaking as well. The more I think about it, this would be an easy base for soup. Maybe throw in some tortellini or gnochhi? As is, serve it over noodles for the DD's, over roasted potatoes for the DH. Y'know, I bet this would be yummy over garlic parmesan couscous or Italian polenta, too. Feedback, as always, is much appreciated. :)

Italian Vegetable Bake

Serves: 18
Serving Size: 1/2 cup

This colorful low-sodium cholesterol-free vegetable baked dish is prepared without any added fat.

1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 lb. fresh green beans, sliced
1/2 lb. fresh okra, cut into 1/2" pieces or 3/4 cup (1/2 10 oz. pkg) frozen okra
3/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
3 medium (7" long) zucchini, cut into 1" cubes
1 medium eggplant, pared and cut into 1" cubes
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1. Drain and coarsely chop tomatoes. Save liquid.
2. Mix together tomatoes and reserved liquid, onion, green beans, okra, green pepper, lemon juice, and herbs.
3. Cover and bake at 325º F for 15 minutes.
4. Mix in zucchini and eggplant and continue baking, covered, 60-70 more minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir occasionally.
5. Sprinkle top with parmesan cheese just before serving.

(per serving)
Calories: 33.0
Fat: 0.2 g
Carbohydrates: 7.5 g
Protein: 1.8 g

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sweet Potato-Leek Gratin

Doesn't this one look good???

Baked Sweet Leek and sweet potato gratin

From Vegetarian times, Feb 2009

  • 1 1/2 Tbs EVOO, divided
  • 3 medium leeks, white and green parts chopped (6 cups)
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 3 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary, divided
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8 in thick slices
  • 1/2 cup veggie broth
  • 3 Tbs Italian dry breadcrumbs

!. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and spray a 10 inch round pan.

2. Saute leeks garlic and half the rosemary, about 8 min (in a Tbs EVOO)

3. Arrange 1/3 sweet potatoes over bottom of pan, overlapping slightly, spread half leek mixture on top. Repeat. Drizzle broth over, cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.

4. stir breadcrumbs, rosemary and EVOO together, remove foil, sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake 15 more minutes.

**** Try adding nutritional yeast to each layer and make the bread crumbs from scratch and add nutritional yeast. Gonna be delicious!

The "go-to" recipe

Everyone I know has a "go-to" recipe. If they can't think of what to make or bring, they always make their "go-to". I have a few of these go-to's.... Anyone wanna try this one?

This is something you can use as a side dish, a snack, a condiment, anything, and you can add all kinds of things to it.

1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chickpeas, drained but not rinsed
1 cup green olives, halved
2 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 drizzle olive oil
Garlic to taste

Mix all ingredients, and if you can, let it sit in the fridge for as long as possible. Its always better the next day, but I usually can't wait that long.

I have also used kidney beans, and a mixture of chickpea and fava beans, and sometimes add some diced onion.

I eat it right out of the bowl, but DH likes to dip bread or garlic bagel crisps in it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Magical Loaf Studio

Everyone has their favorite sites to visit and revisit. I recently ran across this one, The Magical Loaf Studio. And since I'm looking hi and low for the perfect recipe for my Super Bowl Sliders, this seems to be the site of the day for me. And so, I share. Enjoy! And I'd love to hear if any of you have already found the magic combination of yummy..... do tell!! :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Table for 2, please?

Last night, thanks to the generosity of JAM, hubby and I got the chance to actually go to a restaurant and sit at a table for 2 and get mushy with each other. We LOVE trying new restaurants, so upon recommendation from my very dear SGTSG, Deb, we headed to Carraba's. We gave it 3.8 out of 5 stars. The food was AMAZING good, but heavy on the salt. The only other con was the ambiance, or rather the lack of it. The place was loud and hopping and the booths were highly uncomfortable. Not quite Santaniellos, but a very suitable replacement. Let me see if I can show you what we tried..... here we go.

Carrabba's Bread Dipping Spice

This is a favorite with Italian style-grub. They serve the spices on a small plate and the waiter adds olive oil, now you are set to dip your bread. YUM YUM TIP: Chop all spices in small chopper then store them in a small container in the refrigerator, since a little goes a long way--then you can have it anytime.

SERVES 1 -4 , 1/4 cup



  1. Combine all of the ingredients, EXCEPT oil.
  2. Put in a small food processor or a small food chopper. Chop briefly until all ingredients are about the same.
  3. Stir in oil.
  4. TO SERVE: Combine about 1 1/2 teaspoons spice blend to 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil on a small Dish.
  5. Dip sliced bread in mixture.
  6. French bread is good.
  7. ENJOY.

Zucchini Fritte

Fresh zucchini lightly battered and fried, served with roasted garlic aioli


Olive oil, for frying
1 3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3 medium zucchini, cut into 3-inch long by 1/2-inch wide strips

Pour enough oil into a large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F.

Stir 1 1/2 cups Parmesan, the panko, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Whisk the eggs in another medium bowl to blend. Working in batches, dip the zucchini in the eggs to coat completely and allow the excess egg to drip back into the bowl. Coat the zucchini in the panko mixture, patting to adhere and coat completely. Place the zucchini strips on a baking sheet.

When the oil is hot, working in batches, fry the zucchini sticks until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried zucchini to paper towels and drain.

Arrange the fried zucchini on a platter. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and serve.


1 head of garlic
olive oil
sprig of fresh thyme
ground black pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons roasted garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

to prepare the Roasted Garlic:
Remove top of garlic exposing just the top. Prick top with tines of a fork and drizzle with olive oil and pepper. Top with fresh thyme and wrap in foil. Place over low heat or preheated BBQ. Cook for approximately 15 minutes or until tender. Remove.

to prepare the Garlic Aioli:
In a medium bowl add some of roasted garlic without skin that has been smashed with a fork. Mix in all ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour to allow flavors to develop.

From there we had the bruschette and the brick oven Quattro Formaggi. The pizza was good, although I think next time we'll opt for the Margherita instead. Probably more flavor and not quite so heavy. But of you're looking for comfort food, the Formaggi is the way to go. Definitely hit the spot for me :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Falafel Burgers

Falafel Burgers

  • 2 (400g) cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup parsley
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Bisquick or all purpose flour
  • English Muffins/Italian crusty rolls
  • Sour cream/Mayo
    1. Put the first 5 items in a food processor and whiz to a chunky paste.
    2. Mix with about a cup or more of bisquick and mould into burgers.
    3. Fry for 2 minutes on each side
    4. Top with sour cream and serve in a bun or pita

Buffalo Toasters

Buffalo Toasters

1 package (10.5 oz) Morningstar Farms® Buffalo Wings
Veggie Wings (thawed, diced)
1 package (8 oz.) shredded low fat Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup reduced calorie mayonnaise
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

6 Crusty rolls

  1. In medium mixing bowl, combine MORNINGSTAR FARMS Buffalo Wings, cheese,
    mayonnaise, onions, and garlic powder. Spread evenly on muffin halves. Place
    on ungreased baking sheet.

    2. Bake at 400° F about 10 minutes or until golden brown and hot. Serve hot
    garnished with tomatoes.

Mandarin Orange Cake

A new favorite of mine -- I know I'm posting extra easy peasy recipes today, but rest assured, the big stuff is coming :)

Mandarin Orange Cake

1 can mandarin oranges
4 eggs
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick butter

Combine ingredients and add juice from mandarin oranges and beat until fluffy. Add oranges; beat well. Spread batter in greased 9"x13" and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until done. When cake has cooled, frost with pineapple frosting.

Pineapple Frosting:
1 pkg instant vanilla pudding
1 8oz Cool Whip
1 8oz crushed pineapple

Mix pudding and pineapple until smooth. Add Cool Whip. Beat until fluffy, frost cake.

Dessert Pizza

Today's post is for my friend, Deb. She's looking for a way to use sugar cookie dough. This was the first thing to sprang to mind. Always a favorite and it always disappears. I offer 2 variations for you, Deb. Lemme know how it goes :)

Fruit pizza


  • 1 (18 ounce) package refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

  • 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Slice cookie dough and arrange on greased pizza pan, overlapping edges. Press dough flat into pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, soften cream cheese, then fold in the whipped topping. Spread over cooled crust. You can chill for a while at this point, or continue by arranging the fruit.
  3. Begin with strawberries, sliced in half. Arrange in a circle around the outside edge. Continue with fruit of your choice, working towards the middle. If bananas are used, dip them in lemon juice so they don't darken. Then make a sauce to spoon over fruit.
  4. In a saucepan, combine sugar, salt, corn starch, orange juice, lemon juice and water. Cook and stir over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat, and add grated orange rind. Allow to cool, but not set up. Spoon over fruit. Chill for two hours, then cut into wedges and serve.
Note: Instead of making the glaze, the easy cheat is to melt down some apple jelly and pour it over the top in place of the glaze. Still gives you that finishing touch, but you don't have to 'cook' as much. And as you can see by the pictures, you can use it any occasion.

OPtion #2 for base: For the base: Mix ricotta cheese with vanilla, sugar and lemon zest. Reserve for topping. (Adventure Club: Add store-bought or home-made passion fruit puree to the ricotta cheese mixture.)

S'mores Pizza



  1. Spread the softened cookie dough into a lightly greased pizza pan, flattening it to the edges.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes until it begins to brown SLIGHTLY.
  3. Remove the cookie from the oven and sprinkle the top with with the chocolate chips, graham crackers and marshmallows.
  4. Return the cookie to the oven for 5-8 minutes until crust is brown and chips and marshmallows are melted.
  5. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
  6. Garnish with chocolate syrup, if desired.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

'Lighter' Potatoes

What does it take to create nearly the same mouthfeel and flavor of traditional mashed potatoes, but low-calorie and low-carb? Ditching the potatoes!

Turns out, there are two ways to concoct a steaming bowl of light ‘n’ fluffy mashed potatoes. The first calls for a dairy’s worth of butter and cream. The second calls for – get this! – ditching the spuds entirely!

These ‘potatoes’ are really cauliflower and turnips, cooked and mashed. Texture-wise, the mouthfeel is like traditional mashed potatoes except lighter. Taste-wise, once the ‘feel’ of mashed potatoes is present, the two vegetables are subtle enough that you just might not notice!

Now before Mr. Potato Head accuses me of potato-ism, please know that I love potatoes! In fact, you just might say that only a potato fiend fan would collect potato recipes.

But not everyone eats potatoes, either by choice or by prescription. There are the dieters, the whole low carb thing and all. And there are the diabetics, whose blood glucose skyrockets when confronted with too many carbs.

The great news is that this recipe for 'low-carb potatoes' is delicious for everyone. I recommend serving it with something, say under a bowl of stew, rather than on its own.

Now to be honest, when my dad first tried my new low-carb 'potatoes', he sniffed, "There's no substitute for the Irish potato." But another taste-tester with certified culinary credentials thought otherwise, "This could pass for potatoes, no question."

Which camp is yours? Decide for yourself!

This recipe originally posted at Kitchen Parade. Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences.


Mashed cauliflower and turnips, really,
but so close, your mouth will do a double-take
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 45 minutes
Makes about 4 cups
  • Salted water to cover
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed, core removed, cut into small florets
  • 1/2 pound (or more) turnips, trimmed and cubed
  • 1/4 cup whole milk or half & half (fat-free half & half works great)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or sage
  • Tabasco to taste (don’t skip)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring the salted water and bay leaf to a boil; add the cauliflower and turnips as they’re prepped. Reduce heat to maintain a fast simmer, cover and cook for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are cooked through. Drain well and transfer to a food processor and process til smooth.

Return to the hot pan on medium high heat. Stirring often, cook off the excess liquid, about 5 – 10 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Transfer to serving bowl. Serve and enjoy!

TO MAKE AHEAD After mashing, stir in about 4 ounces of low-fat cream cheese along with the milk, butter, herbs and Tabasco. Transfer into a well-greased baking dish. Sprinkle with additional chopped fresh herbs. Cover with foil and refrigerate. Return to room temperature. Bake for about 30 minutes at 300F or until hot clear through.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Half Cup: 66Cal; 3g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 8mg Cholesterol; 76mg Sodium; 8g Carb; 3g Fiber; 4g Sugar; 3g Protein; Weight Watchers 1 point
Adapted from Greene on Greens by Bert Greene
ALANNA’s TIPS Substitute celery root (also called celeriac) for cauliflower. It adds a subtle touch of celery flavor that’s quite lovely. Celeriac is expensive, however, so use a small head and 1 – 2 pounds of turnips. The celeriac takes longer to cook so give it about 15 minutes before adding the turnips. If you like, ‘doctor’ the mashed cauliflower and turnips however you do mashed potatoes. The familiarity may help your family adjust! I’ve tried hand mashing, an immersion blender and a hand mixer. Sorry, none really work.
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