Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hilltop Herbs Ranch Dressing

I also brought some veggies and dip to the Nursing Graduation Pinning Ceremony yesterday.  They were consumed about as fast as the Mini Frittatas. I received some requests for my Ranch Dressing recipe. Here it is.

I first tried my hand at homemade Ranch Dressing in the mid 70’s. A co-worker brought a homemade ranch dip to one of our pot-lucks at the dental lab and gave me the recipe. I have since lost her recipe, but when I started Hilltop Herbs in 1989, it was one of the first seasoning mixes I developed for bulk sales. It was a very good seller. I have often wondered about the origin of Ranch Dressing. Here is some info from Wikipedia. It has more detail than the blurb from Hidden Valley.
“In 1954, Steve and Gayle Henson opened Hidden Valley Ranch, a dude ranch near Santa Barbara, California. They served guests a dressing that Steve had developed. The dressing was popular, and they began selling bottles that guests could take home, and later opened a factory to sell packets of ranch seasoning that had to be mixed with mayonnaise and buttermilk (packets that are still available to this day). In 1972, the brand was bought by Clorox for $8 million.[1]
Clorox reformulated the dressing several times to try to make it more convenient. The first change was to include buttermilk flavoring in the seasoning so that at home one added milk rather than buttermilk.[1] In 1983, Clorox developed a more popular non-refrigerated bottled formulation. At the current time, Clorox subsidiary Hidden Valley Ranch Manufacturing LLC produces ranch packets and bottled dressings at two large factories, in Reno, Nevada and Wheeling, Illinois.[2]”

As the years have passed, I have changed my original recipe some more, to lower the sodium and fat content. I often substitute non-fat plain yogurt for the buttermilk in a pinch, but the flavor of the buttermilk really makes a difference.

Yield: 1 pint (16 oz.)

1 cup Mayonnaise (low-fat or non-fat are options)
¾ cup low-fat Buttermilk
¼ cup non-fat Sour Cream
1 Tbsp. Sugar
½ tsp. Salt                  
¼ tsp. gran. Onion     
1/8 tsp. gran Garlic    
¼ tsp. Parsley Flakes 
Dash of hot pepper sauce

Whisk all ingredients together in a one quart mixing bowl.
Store in refrigerator - a pint jar with lid works great.

For a thick dip, try mixing 1 cup of this dressing with ½ cup plain Greek yogurt or 4 oz. softened Neufchatel (low-fat cream cheese).

For a little different flavor, add ¼ teaspoon ground celery seed, if you can find it, or grind your own, or add celery salt, but be sure to cut back on the ½ teaspoon of salt. You can also add a bit of dill weed, or some minced chives.

Mini Frittatas

December 10, 2011
These mini frittatas were served at the buffet after the Christmas performance of “The Night the Animals Talked” at Arnold’s Creek Christian Church. I was so impressed by these handy little appetizers, I asked for the recipe.She told me it was a recipe from Giada and she found it on the Food Network. It makes a very nice appetizer and finger food. She told me that it was easier to sprinkle food in the muffin cups first, then pour eggs over them. She also added red and green bell peppers for a festive appearance. The combination of ingredients to use is endless.

Original Recipe by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves: about 40 mini frittatas
Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray
8 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces thinly sliced ham, chopped
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Spray 2 mini muffin tins (each with 24 cups) with nonstick spray. Whisk the eggs, milk, pepper, and salt in a large bowl to blend well. Stir in the ham, cheese, and parsley. Fill prepared muffin cups almost to the top with the egg mixture. Bake until the egg mixture puffs and is just set in the center, about 8 to 10 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittatas from the muffin cups and slide the frittatas onto a platter. Serve immediately.
 Copyright 2011 Television Food Network G.P. All Rights Reserved

December 17, 2011
I made these for the buffet after our Nursing graduation pinning ceremony and they went like hotcakes. For the meat, I diced the last 4 oz. of smoked chicken breast from one of my brother-in-law’s smoked chickens, or “cannonballs”, as they are often called. I sautéed half a diced onion and ¼ of a diced red bell pepper and mixed it with the diced chicken. I dropped a scant teaspoon of this filling in each mini-muffin cup. Then I sprinkled a few shreds of Colby cheese on top. I mixed the egg batter using 1% milk and eggs. I poured the egg mix by scooping it with a ¼ cup measure with a spout and drizzling it over each muffin cup.

When baking, I had to bake one tray for 5 minutes extra and the other for 10 minutes extra. It may be that my oven temp is not exact. I poked them with a toothpick and lightly touched the tops to check for the eggs being cooked enough. If they felt a bit runny, I baked them more. I didn’t need to loosen the frittatas at all. After cooling for five minutes, they fell right out of the muffin tin.

I just noticed a discrepancy in the recipes. Giada says to use muffin tins with 24 cups in each tray. My mini-muffin trays have 12 muffins each. This recipe filled 24 mini-muffins almost perfectly. My trays are 8”x10” and the cups measure 1 7/8” across the top. My yield: 24 mini frittatas

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Coconut Blondies

I had a telephone call from my daughter away at college the other day. She is working part-time in the dining hall. She heard they were serving Blondies and was eagerly anticipating the meal. She was disappointed that they weren’t the same ones Mom made. So she called me for the recipe. I looked it up in my computer recipe file and noticed that I collected this one in 1999. It was originally from Gourmet, March 1992. I emailed the file to her.

I used to make these quite a bit, especially for pot-lucks. They are quite a favorite. I often made a double batch. Two 13 x 9 inch pans fit nicely in the oven. Sometimes, I use some butterscotch chips. Funny, I never noticed that I was supposed toast the coconut. I never did that.

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, toasted and cooled

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Lightly coat a 13x 9 inch baking pan with canola oil spray.

In a bowl, with an electric mixer, cream together the butter and the brown sugar. Beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

In a small bowl whisk together salt, baking powder and flour.

Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and beat the batter until it is just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and the coconut.

Spread the batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and crumbs stick to a toothpick stuck in the center.

Let the mixture cool completely in the pan on a rack, then, cut it into squares. (4 x 8)

Yield: 32

Original recipe from: Gourmet | March 1992

Red Cabbage Chili

Serves 10 – 12

I had a good crop of red cabbage in the garden this year and had to start getting creative. There’s only so much pink slaw we can eat. I was thinking of something chili-like with meat, tomatoes and beans, but red cabbage does sweet and sour so well. This was really tasty. I want another bowl now! And it’s low fat!

1 – 1 1/2 lb. lean ground meat (beef, pork, poultry, venison)
1 lg. onion, diced 3/4”
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 cup water
1 cup red wine
1 cup ketchup
4 lbs. red cabbage heads
1 can (20 oz.) pineapple tidbits with juice
1 can (15 oz.) dark red kidney beans, drained
1 can (15 oz.) black turtle beans, drained

Heat 6 quart kettle hot and dry. Remove from heat. Lightly coat with canola oil spray. Return to very low heat while preparing meats and vegetables.

Brown meat with onion, garlic, salt and pepper, stirring frequently to break up the meat in small chunks. Cook over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Stir in the tomato paste.

Stir in water, wine, ketchup and juice from pineapple.

Cut each cabbage into quarters and core. Slice each quarter lengthwise into two to three wedges. Cut wedges crosswise into 3/4 inch pieces. Add to kettle and bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Stir in drained pineapple and beans. Bring back to boil stirring occasionally. Turn heat to a very low simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours.

Serve with a big dollop of non-fat sour cream on top and a dark rye or pumpernickel bread on the side.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Garlic Cartago Potatoes

My friend, Stan, sent me this interesting and humorous recipe. I post it here in its entirety. For some more South American recipes visit the website of AM Costa Rica.
Thanks, Stan.

Cardiologists do not recommend the
editor's bacon and garlic Cartago potato medley.
For recipe, see below.

Cartago shows off complexities
of its cuisine with contest

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is a lot more to the Provincia de Cartago than potatoes, and cooks of the communities have joined together to prove that.

The event last month was another of the culture ministry's efforts to capture the nation's traditions.

When most Costa Ricans think of Cartago, the words
chilly and potatoes leap to their minds. The province, centered around the Canton of Cartago is generally higher than communities in the Central Valley. Cartago itself at 1,435 meters is 274 meters (about 900 feet) higher than the bulk of San José.

That may be bad for sunbathing, but the weather is great for temperate vegetable crops, including the potato, carrot, onions and even the chayote. And these work their way into the area's traditional menus.

There are seven other cantons, La Unión, Jiménez, Turrialba, Oreamuno, Alvarado, El Guarco and Paraíso. Each has developed their own variations on food. After all, they have had plenty of time. Cartago was founded in the middle of the 16th century, and Spanish settled in the region due to the healthy climate. The city was the nation's capital until 1823.

The region is also known for its conservatism, so one can expect that the Spanish tradition will be a strong influence on the local foods.

Garlic Cartago Potatoes

By popular demand (Well, we got some e-mails, anyway), we include the editor's famous garlic potato medley shunned by cardiologists the world over.


2 cans of Imperial (or similar) beer
half pound bacon (200 grams más o menos)
1 large onion
12 toes of garlic (more or less)
12 small (golf ball size potatoes or six tennis ball size) Cartago potatoes
cup of olive oil
Whatever extra seasonings you like such as Italian or Mexican or maybe you like parsley, thyme, bay leaves, or cilantro.


Open and start drinking the first can of beer.

Cut into smaller pieces and start frying bacon in large fry pan.

In a few minutes combine chopped onion and chopped garlic in the frying pan. Put in the seasoning you like now. Add about half the oil. Keep heat moderate to let the tastes meld.

Don't forget the beer.

Wash and clean the small Cartago potatoes. Nuke them in a microwave for from 5 to 7 minutes. Then chop them into sixths or eighths.

Don't forget the beer.

Put the potatoes in the same frying pan with the onions, bacon, and garlic for a few minutes. Sprinkle with the rest of the oil. Then after a few minutes transfer the entire dish to a metal or glass baking dish and stick in a pre-heated oven.

Depending on the time for dinner, cover with foil to keep garlic, onions and bacon from burning. Make sure to remove the foil during the last 10 minutes to make the potatoes slices crisp.

Reward yourself with the second beer. (This is really a beer-type dish. But port after dinner goes well, too.)

Serve with beer and meat of your choice, perhaps a pork roast.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

West Cork Pork Chops

I was looking for an Irish pork recipe for this St. Patrick's Day and found this nice website on Irish culture and customs. “The truth is, the menu on March 17th was usually "a nice bit of boiled bacon." Pork is a lot more authentic than salted beef!”
Of course I have a lot of pork, what with two FFA pigs in the freezer. I’m sure going to miss that girl when she goes off to college this fall – for so many things. I found store brand Dijon mustard at Wal-Mart, what a surprise. We buy sorghum at the county Harvest Festival each October and the only beer I could find was a lone bottle of Negra Modelo I had stashed in the pantry.
This turned out so pretty with the onion slices lying on top of each chop and accompanied by Green & Gold Potatoes.
Serves 4 to 6

4 to 6 pork chops, 3/4 inches thick
dash of salt and pepper
1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup sorghum
1 large onion sliced crosswise (at least one slice per chop)
1 (12 oz.) bottle dark beer (Guinness or Negra Modelo)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 13” x 9” glass baking dish with canola oil spray.Heat a 10 inch cast iron skillet until hot and dry. Remove from heat and lightly coat with canola oil spray. Return to very low heat while gathering ingredients.
Trim excess fat from pork chops and sear in skillet over high heat one at a time. As they are browned, place in baking dish.
When all the pork chops are in the baking dish, season with a tiny bit of salt and pepper.
Put sorghum in a small dish and warm in microwave so it will mix and spread easier. Stir in mustard and spread on chops.
Top each chop with a slice of onion.
Pour 1 cup of beer over chops and drink the rest!
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes.
Serve with applesauce and Green & Gold Potatoes.

Green & Gold Potatoes

I was looking around for a new potato recipe for St. Patrick’s Day dinner. I found a recipe in my files from 1999 for Potato Spinach Casserole. There was no information about the origin of this recipe, so I looked it up on the WWW. It’s everywhere in some form or another.
First, I reduced the fat and salt. Then I had some Yukon Gold potatoes and spinach from Aldi’s. The potatoes had been half price and cheaper than regular. Their spinach is always inexpensive.
Any mashing type potato will do, but the gold gave a nice color with the green of the spinach and chives.
I prefer fresh spinach because it is so tender. Frozen tends to be tough and canned is mushy. I actually used chopped frozen chives, because that was the easiest way to preserve them from my yard.
These potatoes were not only pretty to look at, but very tasty to eat with my adaptation of West Cork Pork Chops posted next. I can’t wait for leftovers.
Serves 6 to 8
6 medium (3 lbs.) Yukon Gold potatoes
1 pkg. (9 oz.) fresh spinach, well washed
1 cup non-fat sour cream
1 Tablespoon dried chopped chives
1 cup (4 oz.) extra sharp yellow cheddar cheese, shredded
dash of salt and ground white pepper

Put 1 quart of cold water in a 3 quart saucepan. Peel potatoes and immediately put in pan of cold water. Cut potatoes into 1 inch pieces and immediately return to pan of cold water. Fill pan with enough cold water to cover potatoes by about 1 inch. Cover and bring to boil over high heat. Set cover off center to release steam, yet contain splashes. Turn heat to medium so that potatoes are just boiling. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until potatoes break easily when pierced with fork.
While potatoes are cooking, preheat oven to 350°F and coat a 10” x 6” (1 quart) glass baking dish with canola oil spray.
Put spinach in a 10” stainless skillet or 3 quart stainless saucepan with tight fitting lids. Just stuff it in there. Add ¼ cup water and cover tightly. Bring to boil over high heat. Stir it a bit, put cover back on and cook over low heat for 5 more minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.
Drain potatoes when they are done and mash them with a potato masher right in the pan.
Drain the spinach in its pan by holding the lid just off center and tipping over the sink. Using a hand chopper or two knives, chop the spinach roughly in the pan. Dump the chopped spinach over the potatoes.
Add rest of ingredients to the potatoes and spinach and fold them in gently.
Spoon into prepared baking dish, mounding potatoes as needed.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until hot all through and just starting to brown on top. Check the interior temperature by sticking a fork or knife in the middle and touching it very carefully to your lips.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hash Brown Potatoes à la Julia Child

Hash brown potatoes vary greatly depending on the region. They can be fried raw - diced, sliced or shredded. Or they can be fried from diced or sliced, leftover boiled potatoes. My favorite is raw fried shredded potatoes, like the frozen kind. I love them crunchy and browned on the outside and tender and white on the inside. But I always had a gray, gooey mess, until I discovered the secret to tender white hash browns from Julia Child’s very first TV show – The Potato Show.

Julia’s secret to white fried potatoes is to cut them and immediately soak them in cold water – diced, shredded or sliced. Then just before cooking, drain them, drape a linen towel over a colander and dump them into the towel. Then pick it up, wrapping the towel around the potatoes, twisting and squeezing all the moisture out. For wedges and French fries, soak them in water, drain and pat dry between two towels. Soaking in water immediately after cutting, works well when making boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes and scalloped potatoes, too.

These are so quick and easy, and much better (and much less expensive) than the frozen varieties. Serve them for breakfast or as a side dish with dinner. Fry them with added finely sliced or diced onions, peppers or ham. Or like Waffle Hut, top them with just about anything – chili, cheese, onions, peppers etc.

Serves 4

1 pound potatoes, about 2 large
1 Tablespoon oil, such as canola
1 Tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat a 10 inch cast iron skillet until hot and dry. Remove from heat and lightly coat with canola oil spray. Return to very low heat while preparing potatoes.

2. Scrub the potatoes and peel if you like. Grate and immediately drop into cold water.

3. Just before cooking, drain them, drape a linen towel over a colander and dump them into the towel. Then pick it up, wrapping the towel around the potatoes, twisting and squeezing all the moisture out.

4. Add oil and butter to the skillet. When hot, add the drained and dried potatoes and push down with a spatula to spread evenly in the bottom of the pan.

5. Sprinkle the top with salt and pepper and cook until the bottom is browned and crispy, about 5 minutes.

6. Do not try to flip until bottom is browned, or the potatoes might stick. Flip the potatoes, in sections if necessary, and fry another 5 minutes, or until browned and crispy on the other side.

7. Serve immediately, or keep warm in a 200°F oven.

Potatoes Romanov

This makes an elegant but simple casserole for a special brunch. I first made it a couple of years ago, when we had a family Christmas brunch instead of dinner. It was a hit and has become a family favorite for dinners and pot-lucks, too! My daughter calls it Cheesy Potatoes.

Serves 8 - 10

6 large potatoes
2 cups (16 oz.) non-fat sour cream
½ cup finely diced onions
1 cup shredded extra-sharp white cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
1 Tbsp. butter
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/8 tsp. ground sweet paprika

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Coat a 2 quart glass baking dish lightly with canola oil spray.
3. Scrub potatoes well and boil whole until just fork tender.
4. Drain and cool potatoes very well or they will not shred!
5. Peel potatoes and shred into a large bowl.
6. Gently fold in sour cream, onion, cheese, and pepper.
7. Turn into prepared baking dish.
8. Put butter in 1 quart mixing bowl and cover with wax paper to prevent spatters. Melt on low in microwave, about 30 seconds.
9. Stir in bread crumbs and sprinkle over potatoes. Sprinkle paprika over bread crumbs.
10. Bake uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned.

Adapted from:, 2/26/1999

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Banana Bran Bread

My family has been making this recipe as long as I can remember. Grandma, Mom, my sister and brother all made it. I guess that makes it a family favorite for over 50 years! It’s a great way to use up those leftover bananas, no matter how black they are.

¼ cup canola oil (I use canola, I think they used Wesson)

1 egg, beaten

¼ cup milk

1 ½ cups (2-3) mashed banana

1 ½ cups flour

½ cup sugar

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup All-bran cereal

½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 5” x 9” loaf pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together oil, egg, milk and banana.

In a large mixing bowl, fold together flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, cinnamon and bran.

Pour liquid mixture over flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Fold in nuts.

Turn into loaf pan. Bake 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean.

Cool 5 minutes in pan. Turn out onto wire rack to finish cooling.

Delicious sliced warm and slathered with butter.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Broccoslaw Lo Mein

I have been buying broccoslaw discounted at Kroger’s for a while now. At $1 a bag, it’s a great bargain. But there is only so much ramen salad we can eat. Last week there were six bags marked down and I was tempted, but I don’t have enough recipes to use it up. It keeps pretty well in the crisper.

So far I have used it for greens on paninis and sandwiches, in Egg Foo Yung and stir fries. I have also dropped it in some soups and stews, and on salads. I was brainstorming last night about how to make a pasta dish with it. I thought that angel hair pasta was about the right size to match with broccoslaw and a Lo Mein dish seemed right! It turned out very well. I had to have seconds.

If you check with some Asian food stores, you can find many more varieties of soy sauce. I find the lighter sauces work better with fish and chicken dishes.

Serves 4-6

4 oz. angel hair pasta

2 Tbsp. sesame seed oil

1 bag (16 oz.) broccoslaw

1 Tbsp. chopped garlic

2 eggs

2 Tbsp. light golden soy sauce

1 tsp. fish sauce

1. Boil pasta in large kettle of water until barely al dente. Drain and reserve.

2. Heat wok until hot and dry. Lightly coat with canola oil spray. Return to very low heat while assembling rest of ingredients.

3. Turn wok to high heat. Add 1 tablespoon sesame seed oil and spread it around wok. Add broccoslaw and garlic and stir fry until tender and bright green. Remove from wok and set aside.

4. Heat wok until hot and dry. Add 1 tablespoon sesame seed oil and spread it around wok. Add reserved pasta and stir fry until hot. Add reserved broccoslaw and toss with pasta.

5. Beat eggs well. Beat in soy and fish sauce. Pour over food in wok and toss together until all is mixed and egg is cooked.

6. Serve immediately as a side dish with fish or chicken. Add another vegetable or salad.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Adobo Baked Eggs

Since I had some leftover Adobo Sauce this week, I thought I would try it in baked eggs. I didn’t want to cook the sausage on the side, so I used a larger baking dish – 12 oz. individual casseroles. I wanted to savor the adobo flavor, so I didn’t spice up the sausage with chorizo seasonings as I normally would.
Serves 4
½ cup Adobo Sauce
½ lb. lean country sage bulk sausage
½ cup diced onion
½ cup diced green pepper
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
8 eggs
4 oz. (1 cup) shredded mild cheddar
4 oz. (1 cup) shredded Mexican Blend with queso quesadilla
8 corn tortillas
Fresh fruit
1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Lightly coat four 12-ounce individual casseroles with canola oil spray.
3. Put 2 tablespoons of adobo sauce in each dish.
4. Heat a 10 inch cast iron skillet, until hot and dry. Remove from heat and lightly coat with canola oil spray. Return skillet to very low heat while dicing vegetables.
5. In the seasoned skillet, sauté the sausage with onions, green peppers and garlic over medium high heat. Break up the sausage into crumbles, cooking until the meat is no longer pink and the onion is translucent.
6. Put ¼ of meat mixture over the adobo sauce in each baking dish.
7. Crack two eggs into each dish.
8. Put a good handful, (about a ¼ cup), of cheddar cheese on top.
9. Put a good handful, (about a ¼ cup), of Mexican blend cheese over the cheddar to cover completely.
10. Bake until the cheese is melted and lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes.
11. Remove from oven and set aside for five minutes before serving.
12. While the eggs are setting, heat some corn tortillas one by one until wilted on a hot seasoned cast iron skillet or comal to serve with the egg cups. Stack and wrap the tortillas as they are heated in a large square of aluminum foil.
13. Put each baking dish on a large ovenproof plate to serve. Butter, fold and stack 2 warm tortillas on the side. Serve with fresh fruit – citrus wedges, melon slices, grapes or sliced apples.

Chili Sauce Baked Eggs

For years, I have made a killer homemade chili sauce. There’s something about the flavor that just grabs me and won’t let go. It’s similar to the flavor of bottled Heinz chili sauce, which can be substituted. My usual recipe was to dump a bunch of chili sauce in a skillet, poach the eggs on top, and melt the cheese over them.

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching one of my regular shows, Chef on a Shoestring on the CBS Saturday Early Show. Chef Michael Schwartz of Miami made Roasted Double Yolk Eggs with Tomato and Asiago. I thought that was a really neat and quick way to bake eggs. I have certainly simplified that recipe. It was very good!!!

Serves 4

1/3 cup chili sauce
8 eggs
1/4 pound extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.

2. Lightly coat four 6-ounce custard cups with canola oil spray.

3. Put a heaping tablespoon of chili sauce in each cup.

4. Crack two eggs into each cup.

5. Put a good handful, (about a ¼ cup), of cheese on top to cover completely.

6. Put the cups on a baking sheet and set on the middle rack of the oven.

7. Bake until the cheese is melted and lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes.

8. Remove from oven and set aside for five minutes before serving.

9. While the eggs are setting, toast some whole grain bread, English muffins or bagels to serve with the egg cups.

10. Put the cups on a large ovenproof plate to serve with toast and fresh fruit on the side – citrus wedges, melon slices, grapes or sliced apples.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Adobo Sauce for Beef or Chicken

I created this recipe originally for wet beef burritos. Then I used it for chicken enchiladas. Ladle a quarter cup of sauce over your favorite rolled burrito or enchilada. Top with lots of grated asiago or Colby cheese. Put plates in oven at 350° for about five minutes until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly on the edges. Serve hot plates in bamboo holders. Very delicioso!

Yield: 3 cups (enough for 12 small burritos or enchiladas)

2 cups water

¼ cup flour

1 tsp. (1 small) adobo pepper canned in tomato sauce

1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce

1 Tbsp. Beef or Chicken bouillon base

Whisk all ingredients together in a blender.

Put in glass bowl and microwave on high for two minutes.

Whisk and cook for 1 ½ minutes.

Whisk again and cook for one more minute.

Repeat for one more minute if needed to thicken.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Yumasetta – an Amish classic casserole

Serves 6

I have downsized and lightened this Amish classic casserole for a healthier family meal. Use the low-fat, low-salt versions of the canned soups, if you can find them. Aldi’s sells Light and Fit versions. My family has enjoyed this classic casserole for many years.

Excerpted from: The Best of Amish Cooking, by Phyllis Pellman Good

“What Is The Amish Food Tradition In The New World?”

Many myths exist about the Amish and their food. Separated as they are from the larger world in their dress and transportation choices, they are not immune to the many food options in the grocery stores of their communities. They shop, and so they pick up packaged cereal, boxes of fruit-flavored gelatin and cans of concentrated soup. Although tuna noodle casserole and chili con carne turn up on the tables of Amish homes, and chocolate chip cookies and lunch meats are packed into the lunch boxes of Amish school children, cornmeal mush and chicken pot pie are still favorites. Because the Amish are a living group, despite their regard for tradition, their menus continue to change. Their foods are influenced by their neighbors and the recipes they find on boxes containing packaged foods or in the pages of farm magazines and local newspapers.

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 medium Onion chopped (1/4 cup)

1 tsp. brown sugar

1 can (10.5 oz.) condensed tomato soup

8 oz. wide Egg noodles

1 can (10.5 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup

4 oz. sliced American cheese (not cheese food)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Lightly coat a 2 qt. glass baking dish with canola oil spray.

3. Heat an 10 inch cast iron skillet, until hot and dry. Remove from heat and lightly coat with canola oil spray. Return skillet to very low heat while dicing onion and putting water on to boil for noodles.

4. Cook egg noodles; drain. Return drained noodles to kettle and stir in cream of chicken soup.

5. Brown beef and onion in seasoned skillet, stirring to break up meat. Remove from heat. Stir in brown sugar and tomato soup.

6. Layer beef mixture in bottom of prepared baking dish. Layer cheese slices over beef mixture. Layer noodle mixture over the cheese slices.

7. Put in middle rack of oven and bake for 30 minutes.

For a traditional meal, serve with sides of green beans, pickled beets, bread and butter.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ivy's Fetatziki


I found this recipe on a recipe group and traced it back to the original blog post. They are certainly interesting standing like little towers, but I find it easier and more practical to cut them like boats, then hollow out and fill. Or use very small cucumbers to serve as hors d’oeuvres. Or top large slices with the cheese and decorate with roasted red pepper, sliced black olives and dill.

Ivy has also gathered some great info on Feta cheese. Thank you, Ivy!

Feta is a white cheese and is the most consumed cheese in Greece. It’s also the most widely exported Greek cheese. And feta cheese is exclusively Greek. In 2005, after sixteen years of hot debate, the European Union’s highest court decreed that «feta» is protected as a traditional Greek product, and that none of the other EU member nations can use the name.

Feta is a salted curd cheese made from either sheep’s milk, goat’s milk, or a blend. It is sold in many degrees of firmness, ranging from soft and crumbly to fairly hard. Its flavor varies from mild to sharp. Because it is cured (from a week to several months) and stored in its own salty whey or water brine, feta is often referred to as a «pickled cheese.»

Feta does not have a rind or outer hard layer and is usually pressed into square or rectangular blocks. It dries out and sours quickly when removed from its brine; for that reason, blocks of packaged feta cheese are covered with brine, and should be stored, refrigerated, in the brine until used. Feta is available in most supermarkets as a solid block packed in brine, or crumbled.

Feta is used as an appetizer, side dish, and as an ingredient in salads, filled pies, and pastries. Its use in preparing and serving Greek food is almost as imperative as the use of olive oil. Feta may be used in most recipes that call for cheese: vegetable and fruit salads, filled pies, as a topping for or ingredient in cooked rice and tomato-based pastas, as a filling for omelets, in sandwiches, and elsewhere.

Feta has been a favorite cheese in Greece for many centuries. Homer’s «Odyssey» contains several references to cheese which may have been feta cheese. In Greek mythology, the Cyclops Polyphemus was perhaps the first feta cheese manufacturer: carrying the milk that he collected from his sheep in animal-skin bags, he discovered that, days later, the milk had become a solid, savory, and preservable mass – the first feta cheese? Another tale from Greek mythology credits Aristaeus, son of Apollo and Cyrene, with its discovery.

Clifford A. Wright, a writer and cook specializing in the regional cuisines of the Mediterranean and Italy, suggests that the word «feta» may be of ancient Italian origin. Wright says, «the word feta does not exist in classical Greek; it is a New Greek word, originally tyri pheta, or ‘cheese slice,’ the word feta coming from the Italian word fette, meaning a slice of food.»


I totally agree with the above article and that is the reason why I copied it as it is. I read several other silly articles about feta which were outrageous as Bulgarians, Albanians Turks, Danish and French claim that they have the best feta. Some of them even claim that Greek feta is made only of cow’s milk!!!! How ignorant. That cheese is called Telemes.

Regarding the origin of the word feta, Greek language has borrowed a lot of words not only from the Italian language but also from the English, French, and Turkish etc. These words came back to the Greek language transformed. Here is an example you will all understand:

Μπιζέλι (το) < ιταλ. pisello < λατ. υποκοριστικό *pisellum < λατ. pisum < αρχαίο ελλ. πίσος (ο) | πίσον (το). The word Μπιζέλι = mpizeli meaning (peas in English) in Italian pisello derived from the Latin diminutive pisselum from Latin pisum, which derived from the ancient Greek word πίσος (pisos) and in modern Greek it is now called mpizeli. Greek is a very complex language and to understand ancient Greek it is even very difficult even for us, as well. I made this one day when I was planning to make tzatziki, only to discover at the last minute that the last yoghurt in the refrigerator was eaten by one of my children. I am so grateful they did because we loved it so much. If you love tzatziki, I am sure you will love fetatziki (this is how words and recipes are born)!!! I never imagined how well garlic would match feta. It has a totally different taste than tzatziki, is spicier and makes a perfect mezes for a glass of wine or ouzo. I have been making it ever since and this time I filled the cucumbers with this filling. I decorated it with some Piperies Florinis, which are roasted red sweet peppers. It was really very refreshing and delicious not to mention impressive.

100 grams feta

2 small cucumbers

1 clove garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp dill, finely chopped

freshly ground black pepper


Roasted red peppers or kalamata olives and dill for decoration

1. Wash cucumbers and drain. Carefully scoop out the inside of the cucumber, being careful not to open the edge, reserving the insides. Cut the tip of the cucumber so that it may stand up.

2. Put the inside of the cucumber in a food processor, add the cheese, olive oil, pepper and garlic. Process into a paste. Stir in the dill.

3. Sprinkle the scooped out cucumbers with a pinch of salt and fill with the cheese mixture.

4. Decorate with some bits of sliced roasted pepper or black kalamata olives and dill.

5. Refrigerate before serving.

Note: Use small cucumbers which do not contain seeds and have less water. Otherwise, seeds have to be removed and the cucumber insides must be processed separately from the feta and oil so it can be drained.

Grandma Fewless’ Sour Milk Sugar Cookies

When I was a child, I would “help” Grandma make these cookies. It was great fun (messy too!) and the prize was a fresh warm cookie, sweet and soft. This recipe puffs up to make great sugar cookies.

Yield: 3 dozen

1 cup milk

1 Tbsp. white vinegar

6 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 pinch salt

2 1/2 cups white sugar

1 1/2 cups shortening

3 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease cookie sheets.

2. To make sour milk, add vinegar to milk, and let stand for 5 minutes.

3. In a medium bowl, stir together 4 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and sugar.

4. Cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

5. Stir in sour milk, beaten eggs, and vanilla. Add the remaining flour. Stir and handle as little as possible or the dough will toughen. Dough should be very soft.

6. Toss the whole batch of dough on a heavily floured surface. Pat it out with a liberal dusting of flour to about ½ inch thick. Lightly roll out dough with a rolling pin to ¼ inch thick. Cut with 2 ½ inch biscuit cutter, pressing straight down. Do not twist. Lift gently and carefully with spatula. Toss gently between hands to shake off excess flour. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.

7. Put some sugar in a salt shaker and sprinkle cookies with sugar.

8. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on brown paper.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Double Fudge Brannies

I created this cookie circa 1979 to fill a craving a friend and I had to just stuff ourselves with something rich and chocolaty and still claim some redeeming value. This is really a chocolate chip cookie on steroids and health food. Ha ha! Just for you Joanne!

Beware how many you eat! They are VERY yummy. I took a batch to a Halloween party and the kids made a raid on them. All the moms knew if their kids were guilty by the next morning. ;-)

I have entered this recipe in numerous cookie contests, but have had no response. Oh well.

Yield: 5 dozen

2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup cocoa, powdered
1 tsp. baking powder, (no aluminum)
1 cup wheat bran
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup peanut butter, chunky or smooth
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 (12 oz.) bag chocolate chips, (2 cups)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa and baking powder.

In large mixer bowl, cream together butter and peanut butter with sugar and brown
sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Stir in flour one cup at a time. Fold in chocolate chips.

Roll a teaspoon of dough in a ball and place on ungreased 10x15 inch baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Flatten cookie lightly with a drinking glass dipped in sugar. Repeat to fill cookie sheet (about 13 cookies).

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, until just set. A slight depression should remain when touched lightly with a fingertip. Cookies should still be soft, like a moist brownie. If baked too long, they will be firm and dry.

Remove from baking sheet to cool on brown paper. (A paper grocery sack works well.) When cooled, store in an air-tight container to retain moist texture.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Black-eyed Pea Gravy with Eggs

I first created this recipe in 2002 and have refined it over the years. This is a take-off of the ever popular Biscuits and Gravy. I was amazed, but the kids ate every bit of this!

Serves 6

canola oil spray

1/2 lb. bulk country sage pork sausage

1 med. onion, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1/2 tsp. sweet paprika, ground

¼ tsp. thyme, c/s

1/8 tsp. black pepper, ground

¼ cup flour

2 ½ - 3 cups milk

1 Tbsp. chicken bouillon base

1 can (15 oz.) black-eyed peas, drained

6 slices toast, cut diagonally (toast points)

6 eggs, poached

1 cup shredded mild cheddar or Colby cheese

Heat a 10 inch cast iron skillet until hot and dry. Remove from heat and lightly coat with canola oil spray. Return to very low heat while dicing vegetables.

Sauté sausage, onion and celery with spices, breaking up sausage into crumbles, until onion is translucent and sausage is no longer pink.

Stir in flour.

Stir in milk and chicken base.

Stir in peas and cook over medium heat until just boiling, stirring constantly.

Set four toast points on each plate. Cover with a scoop of gravy. Place poached egg on top. Cover with a half scoop of gravy. Sprinkle with cheese.

Serve with fresh fruit – grapefruit halves, citrus or apple wedges, a clump of grapes or fruit salad.

Option: Instead of toast points, serve over an English muffin or a biscuit. If you are lucky enough to have fresh shelled black-eyed peas, add them to the skillet after sautéing the onions, celery and sausage. Cover and let simmer over low heat for 10 minutes or so before stirring in the flour and making the gravy.