Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cinnamon Chip Coffee Cake

Always looking for things to make ahead thought I'd try this recipe to have a coffee cake ready for breakfast the next day.  I had never noticed Cinnamon Chips in the baking aisle before so was curious to try them.  Moist cake, I made it in a 13 x 9 pan but it would make a nicer presentation in the tube/bundt pan.

I got this recipe from the Hershey site:  living in Pennsylvania Hershey is a part of everyday life so maybe I am a bit biased but Hershey products have always been good, reliable, and easy to use.

Cinnamon Chip Coffee Cake

1 c butter--softened
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 c applesauce
2 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 2/3 c cinnamon chips (I found Hershey brand)
1 c pecans


3/4 c powdered sugar
 a drizzle of water
1/8 tsp vanilla

heat oven to 350
prepare pan with crisco
beat sugar and butter till creamy, add eggs one at a time, vanilla, then mix in applesauce.

combine flour, soda, salt and add to wet mixture, blend well

stir in chips and pecans spread into pan
bake 30-35 min for 13 x 9 pan cool

mix powdered sugar with vanilla very slowly drizzle in water until desired consistency then drizzle over cake.

with my new "Mary Poppins" mug!
"Practically perfect in every way"

Friday, December 24, 2010

Crab Chowder

       I had planned to blog all my holiday recipes, days of delicious meals but I got so busy cooking most didn't get pictures and some recipes now escape me.  I will have to plan ahead next year if I want them blogged.  We enjoy our many heritages highlighting them in different ways throughout the year but especially at the holidays when so much of what we do is about family.  Christmas Eve we have a big meal of seafood, while we don't do the traditional Italian 7 fishes we do a few seafood dishes we enjoy.  The Italian heritage comes from my husbands side his mom is half Italian, so through the years I have learned of their traditions.  Her other half is English, German, & American Indian.  My husbands father is 100% Irish and my family is Irish, Welsh, English, German, and American Indian.  So our traditions come from many different backgrounds but we enjoy them all and passing them on to the next generation.

This chowder is quite easy and I will make it throughout the year, but it definitely gets made for Christmas Eve.

Crab Chowder

onion        >vegies all chopped to similar size
old bay
broth (fish stock, chic broth, veg broth whatever you prefer)
1/2 & 1/2
crabmeat ( I don't make this often so when I do I splurge on jumbo lump)

Saute bacon in large pot, remove when browned leaving drippings, saute carrots, onion, celery when onions have started to brown add broth, spices to taste and potatoes.  Let this simmer for a while (an hour or more) to get all the flavors to merge together you can add more broth if it starts cooking down.

When you are ready to serve add corn (if you like it in your chowder) add the 1/2 & 1/2  till you like the consistency, then gently fold in crab so as not to break up the lumps to much.  Serve & enjoy.

      *Spices I would taste to my liking while broth is still simmering they need to be blended in before adding cream and crab.

{I don't have measurements here because it is really to taste, I add broth to cover vegies completely and if I am making this for just the 2 of us i would probably use 1 large onion, 2 med carrots, 2 celery stalks, 1 large potato and about 1/2 lb crab, in which case the rest of the crab could be used for the meal either crabcake, on top of steak, chic or fish, or in a pasta dish.}

I had served this with  broiled seafood, cheese tortellini with red sauce, and a spinach casserole.

Spinach Casserole 

Finished Spinach casserole with a crunchy onion edge.

Cheese Tortellini with Red Sauce.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday Treat

We get a very generous gift each year of homemade chocolate goodies.  It has candies but is mostly everyday favorites dipped in chocolate such as pretzels, marshmellows, nut clusters, etc.  While it is all wonderful (what dipped in chocolate wouldn't be?) but the favorite is the Oreo's dipped in chocolate.  I know you can buy Oreo's covered in chocolate but for some reason these are above and beyond the store bought.  So when the always beautiful tray arrives I try to keep it in tact until everyone arrives home, usually the first home has been carefully reaching around the wrappings taking out an Oreo so there is always a "shortage".  Well not this year I decided when that happened I would have a box ready to pull out that I had dipped........big hit with everyone. The only issue is not eating to many so this will be limited to holidays or special occasions. I think they become so rich one is about all I can handle, but with a cup of tea or coffee it is so satisfying.

Dipped Oreo's

Pkg of good dipping chocolate


you could buy a pkg of white dipping chocolate also if you'd like to decorate them it is very easy and adds a lot to the look.

Melt your chocolate over a double boiler, dip the cookies in I used a fork and tongs to remove them and then lay them on sheets of parchment to dry.  Store in air tight container.
Easy, quick and delish!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lemon Risotto with Grilled Shrimp

Adapted from Epicurious web site and appeared in Bon Appetit 2002:

6 C low sodium chicken broth
3 1/2 T butter
1 1/2 T olive oil
1/4 C chopped onion
2 C arborio rice
1/4 dry white wine
1 C fresh grated Parmesan cheese 
2 T parsley
2 T lemon juice
4 tsp lemon zest

Bring broth to simmer in saucepan.
Meanwhile melt butter and oil in saute pan, add onion & leeks saute till tender.  Add rice let it toast for a minute or so, then add wine and stir till liquid evaporates.  Then add 1 1/2 C broth (to cover rice) and stir till absorbed then add broth 1/2 C at a time till rice is creamy and tender.  This takes 30-40 minutes and you must stand there stirring the rice.  When it has reached the consistency you like stir in peas, parsley and then cheese.  Serve warm.

Grilled Shrimp

Shrimp-- cleaned and deveined

 Lemon juice
Lemon zest
olive or canola oil
chopped garlic
red pepper flakes
Dijon mustard

Combine all ingredients in zip loc bag let set up to 1/2 hour grill shrimp and serve.
It is winter right now and the weather was really cold so this time I got a saute pan pretty hot and seared the shrimp instead of grilling them.  Grilled shrimp is the best but this does very well when you can't use the grill.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata is an all time favorite of mine and just as good with Shrimp or fish.  There is something about the combination of chicken broth, lemon and capers that can't be beat.  I like this served over angel hair pasta so usually make plenty of sauce.  It also cooks quickly so is great for the night you are short on time to get dinner made.  If you are reading this blog or know me you have already realized I rarely use measurements because I mostly make things that aren't that precise.  I also adapt things to how many people are here for dinner which can change quickly.

Chicken Piccata

Chicken breasts {boneless, skinless, if you can get think cut great if not either pound them or for a quicker solution slice them crosswise not quite all the way through and then open them up like a book (otherwise known as butterflying them)}

flour (just enough for dusting each piece of chicken)
olive or canola oil
white wine
chicken broth
lemon zest and juice
salt and pepper

Dust each piece of chicken with flour and saute to brown each side then remove to baking dish, do in batches until all  chicken is done.

This particular night I did butterfly the chicken if you want it thinner you could also pound it after butterflying.

After all chicken is done deglaze pan with white wine (if chicken has left some burnt areas remove them) add garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, broth, parsley, capers, salt, and pepper to taste.  Let simmer just a few minutes sauce will slightly thicken I add a few tablespoons of butter right at the end just till slightly melted, immediately pour over chicken and place in oven to cook chicken through.

You can add butter earlier but it cooks down and I try to cut back wherever I can, I feel like the butter right at the end is enough to still give the sauce a rich flavor.  This could also be finished in your saute pan, I like sticking it in the oven which gives me a few minutes to get the rest of the dinner ready.  Serve over pasta, with a dark green vegetable, and a salad.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

I found this recipe a few years ago in "Runner's Magazine" and it was a hit from the first loaf.  It makes 2 large loaves, is really moist and so far I haven't found anyone who doesn't enjoy it.  Finding it in the magazine doesn't mean it is low cal but at the holidays it is a treat.

3 1/2 C flour (I use 1C whole wheat)
3 C sugar (I used 2 C)
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 C chocolate chips

Combine first 7 ingredients set aside, in another bowl mix wet ingredients:

4 eggs beaten
1 C canola oil
2/3 C water
2 C canned pumpkin (I like Libby's

combine dry and wet ingredients when mixed fold in chocolate chips

Coat 2 bread pans with cooking spray, pour half of batter in each pan bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes.  This freezes well wrap tight with aluminum foil and place in a ziploc, defrost when ready.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Let the holidays begin 2010

Well due to a bad back I haven't updated this blog in quite some time.  I have food pictures waiting to be blogged so will try to catch up a few at a time depending on my back issue.  The holidays arrived early this year or so it seemed, but cooking seems to be endless from Thanksgiving to New Years.  Then you add in the decorating and travel plans it is a hectic schedule but worth every minute to get all that family time in.  The Christmas Cactus bloomed at Thanksgiving so even the plants were early this year.  

 So by Thanksgiving Monday it was time to decorate for the season, I was glad to get an early start.

Mom and Dad were on their way back to Virginia, another Thanksgiving in the books.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Grandma Gibson's Ginger Snaps

  I see these cookies and I think of my grandmother, Alison Mae Yale Gibson.  She lived to be 95, still driving, living alone and taking care of her home herself.  There would always be some at her house, if she came to visit she usually brought some with her and when they are baking the whole house smells better than you can imagine.  We prefer to keep a piece of soft bread in the container which keeps the cookies soft, so they don't actually snap......but if they get crispy a dunk in a cup of tea is scrumptious.

Ginger Snap Cookies

2 c sugar
1 1/2 c shortening (must be shortening)
2 eggs beaten
4 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ginger
1/2 c molasses (Brer Rabbit full flavor)

Cream sugar and shortening together and add eggs.  Mix dry ingredients together and add alternately with molasses.  Roll into balls and then roll balls into sugar.  Place on cookie sheet 2 inches apart.  Bake @ 350 for 15 min.  Do not press balls down dough will spread.  Do not over bake)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is one of the simplest recipes ever, and yet one of the most requested by my family.  I have shared it with a lot of people who all get the same results.  This is easy to make for a crowd, to make ahead and healthy.


Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce
Chicken stock
green pepper
red pepper
yellow pepper
orange pepper
chicken cooked and shredded

then just about any vegies you want to add or whatever is in season, the more the better.

green beans
crushed tomatoes
lima beans
black beans
frozen vegetables work well also and are just as nutritious
Vegetables should all be chopped to similar size.

In a large stock pot or dutch oven saute onion, and all peppers till slightly softened.  Saute any other fresh vegies you want softened.  Deglaze pan with some stock or beer, then add everything else except chicken.  Use equal parts stock - enchilada sauce and then all vegies, allow all of this to simmer.  Chicken can be added after soup has simmered awhile since it is already cooked, a rotisserie chicken works well for this.  If you are in a hurry frozen vegies & rotisserie chicken can make this soup ready quickly.

Serve with tortilla chips, grated sharp cheese, plain greek yogurt or sour cream.

This night I served it with quesadillas, it is hearty enough to serve on its own.  

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Granola is a standard for me, I tweeked and tweeked until I got it to this recipe.  You really can't go wrong adding or removing anything from the lineup but this is the combination that I enjoy.   Adding or substituting other dried fruits, nuts, raisins will give it your special flavor.  Having tried different products but I came back to Old Fashioned Quaker Oats and  Ocean Spray Craisins, the other items I usually buy in bulk from a couple different local stores in our neighborhood.  You definitely want to use good quality products to get the best flavor.

Rolled Oats (this is the base so I use about 3 cups)
unsweetened coconut
sunflower seeds
almonds (sliced)
walnuts (chopped as finely as you like)
pecans  (chopped)
pumpkin seeds
wheat germ
ground flax
canola oil
honey or Blue Agave syrup

Mix in large bowl I don't measure just keep adding probably about 1/2-3/4 cups for everything after the oats.  Mix it well, then drizzle oil & honey over mixture stir again, drizzle both again & stir again.  Some clumping is good and you can squeeze mixture if you want more clumping.  Spread onto foil lined baking sheet and toast in oven at 300 for about 20 minutes don't over toast, I usually set timer for 10 min and stir mixture up a bit.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with following ingredients:
(I add these after toasting because the soy nuts get to crunchy and the cranberries get tough)

soy nuts
dried cranberries

Let mixture cool completely and store in air tight container.  I like to label the ziploc with the date since there are so many nuts in this mixture but rarely does this last long enough to go bad.  I enjoy it with milk on it and a cup of Darjeeling tea.  Mixing it with yogurt, sprinkle on ice cream or just straight like a trail mix are also ways we enjoy it.