Sunday, December 9, 2012

Peanut Blossoms

AKA Peanut Butter Blossoms, Peanut Butter Kiss Cookie, Hershey Kiss Cookie and other variations. These cookies were created by Freda Smith from Gibsonburg, Ohio in 1957. It is basically a peanut butter thumbprint cookie with a Hershey Kiss on top, instead of jam. She entered Peanut Blossoms in the 9th Pillsbury Bake-Off® Contest in 1957. She didn’t win the contest, but this cookie has been a favorite ever since!

This recipe came from Hershey and has ¼ cup more peanut butter than the original. I have added to the directions from experience. I was inspired to make them today after attending the Christmas play at Arnold’s Creek Christian Church last night. They gave out bags of Christmas candy, including lots of Hershey Kisses. 

Yield: 4 dozen

1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. soda
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. milk
1/3 cup sugar, in small bowl
48 Hershey Kisses (Any flavor)

1.     Preheat oven to 375°F. Count out 48 chocolates. Don’t unwrap chocolates until immediately after putting cookies in oven. Then you will know how many to unwrap.
2.     Mix together flour and soda in a one quart mixing bowl. Set aside.
3.     In a large mixer bowl, cream together shortening, peanut butter, brown sugar and 1/3 cup of sugar. Blend in egg, vanilla and milk. Stir in the dry ingredients with a large wooden spoon.
4.     Squeeze a scant teaspoon of dough into a ball in the palm of your hand. If you try to roll into a ball, the dough breaks apart. Be careful not to make balls too big or you won’t get 4 dozen. I know it is hard to resist scooping up a full spoon of dough, but you only need a ball big enough to fit the bottom of a Hershey Kiss. Frankly, from the size of the cookies in the picture, there is no way they got 4 dozen from this recipe.
5.     Roll in sugar and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Two, 10”x15” (inner dimension), cookie sheets fit in my oven. Using the four – three pattern, 25 cookies fit on a sheet.
6.     Bake for 10 minutes. Be careful when picking up cookie sheets to put in the oven, the cookies tend to roll around and may fall on the floor!
7.     Unwrap the chocolates now. You can also set up your cooling racks and do some kitchen clean-up while the cookies are baking.
8.     Remove from oven and set the cookie sheets on a firm, flat, heat-proof surface. You will be pressing on each cookie and don’t want to flip over the cookie sheet. Immediately press one Hershey kiss into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges.
9.     Remove from cookie sheet and lay on brown paper or racks to cool. When removing cookies to cooling rack, be careful not to flip over cookie. The chocolate is melting and it makes a little mess. But we can eat our mistakes!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Reuben Chicken Stacks

We finally dipped into our sauerkraut crock and this is the second dish I have made with it this week. There are many versions of this dish. Most of the ingredients are in my pantry. The packages of Corned Beef were on sale at Kroger a few weeks ago. This was so rich and delicious it was very hard to not have seconds!

Serves 4

2 (1/2 lb. each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups (15 oz. can) sauerkraut, rinsed and well drained
2 oz. pkg. thinly sliced corned beef
4  (1 oz.) slices Swiss cheese or (1 cup shredded)

1 cup Thousand Island Dressing OR
¾ cup Mayonnaise (Lite if preferred)
2 Tbsp. Ketchup
2 Tbsp. Sweet pickle relish

4 slices Rye bread, toasted

Preheat oven to 375° F. Lightly coat a 9x13 inch glass baking dish with canola oil spray.

Slice chicken breasts in half lengthwise, butterfly style. Separate pieces. Place chicken in a single layer in prepared baking dish.

Layer some sauerkraut on each piece of chicken. Layer some slices of corned beef and a slice of cheese over sauerkraut.

Stir together mayonnaise, ketchup and relish to make dressing or use a bottled dressing. Drizzle 1/4 cup dressing evenly over each chicken stack.

Bake about 45 minutes or until chicken is tender. Slide each stack onto a slice of toasted rye bread. Drizzle with pan juices.

Delicious accompanied by Crash Potatoes and a green vegetable or tossed salad.

Easy Thousand Island Salad Dressing

I have made this for many years. It is a tasty quick dressing. It is so easy, there is no need to ever buy a bottled version. Imagine how tasty it is with my homemade ketchup and homemade relish!

Yield: 1 cup

¾ cup Mayonnaise (Lite if preferred)
2 Tbsp. Ketchup
2 Tbsp. Sweet pickle relish

Stir together. Store extra dressing in a glass jelly jar.
Better yet, just mix it in the jar to begin with.
Use on hamburgers à la Big Boy, on Reubens and of course tossed salad.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Quick Spaghetti Sauce

This is a tried and true favorite. It’s from the first recipe I learned to cook when I was ten, to have dinner ready when mom came home from work. We used to use my favorite Spice Islands Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning. With the advent of Hilltop Herbs, I created a similar spaghetti sauce seasoning. For general use, a basic Italian seasoning works fine. Use fresh herbs, when available.

I have made some changes to the original recipe over the years, and this is essentially what my children had for dinner while growing up. For a change, I sometimes add diced green pepper or sliced black olives. This recipe is tasty, hearty and simple.

Serves 8-10

1 pound lean ground beef (or venison or pork)
1 medium onion, diced (1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed tomato soup
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes (or purée or sauce)
1 (4 ounce) can mushroom stems and pieces, drained
½ cup coffee or 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
½ cup robust red wine, optional (Chianti, cabernet, Beaujolais)
water as needed

Heat 4 ½ quart Dutch oven, until hot and dry. Remove from heat and lightly coat with vegetable oil spray. Return to very low heat while dicing onion and gathering ingredients.

Sauté meat, onion, garlic and Italian seasoning, over medium high heat, while stirring and breaking up meat with large spoon.

Stir in tomato paste. Stir in soup. Stir in rest of ingredients, adding water as needed for consistency. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Turn heat to simmer (very low), stirring occasionally. Cover to prevent splatters, but leave vented. Simmer for 10 to 30 minutes or until pasta is done.

Serve over cooked pasta. Sprinkle with grated parmesan or romano. Serve with garlic toast and salad or steamed broccoli.

Adapted from: Cooking Magic, The Italian Cookbook, Quick Italian Tomato Sauce (Salsa di Pomodoro), pg. 49; Culinary Arts Institute, Chicago, IL; 1956

Monday, March 26, 2012

Quick and Simple Marinara Sauce

This is a quick, basic recipe that I developed after reading more than a dozen different versions of Marinara sauces. This recipe can be changed by using different tomato products from canned sauces, diced tomatoes, pureés, and paste to fresh tomatoes. Various vegetables, meats and herbs can be added. Other additions include grated cheese and wines.

This recipe fulfilled my need for something quick, simple and flavorful without a lot of complications. This is one of my new favorites.

Yield: 3 ½ cups

1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon each onion powder, salt & pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix, heat and enjoy!

This is great over pasta, stuffed peppers or stuffed cabbage. I bet there are many more uses to discover.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Turkey Asparagus Divine

After Christmas dinner, I put one half of the roasted turkey breast in the freezer. Now that asparagus is in season, I was looking for some special recipes. I needed to use up the turkey and this is based on a Chicken Asparagus Casserole. Layers of asparagus and turkey are covered by a tasty sauce. The beauty of this is that the asparagus cooks just enough on the bottom to still be a little bit crunchy.

Serves 6

1-1  1/2 pound roasted turkey breast, ¼” slices
1 pound fresh asparagus
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup
1/3 cup non-fat plain yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup shredded cheddar, Colby, or co-jack cheese
1/4 cup crumbled Blue cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly coat an 8x12 inch baking pan with canola oil spray.

Rinse asparagus, snapping off tough stem ends, then snap in thirds and lay on paper towel to drain.

In bowl mix together soup, mayonnaise, lemon juice and curry powder.

Place asparagus in baking pan. Arrange turkey slices over asparagus. Spoon soup mixture over all. Sprinkle cheeses on top.

Bake about 40 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly.

Serve with a special potato recipe such as, Potatoes Romanov, Crash Potatoes, or a rice dish and a salad.

Adapted from: Chicken Asparagus Casserole
Sundance,, 19 Feb 2007

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Avocado Chicken and Couscous

Avocados are on sale again, and I was looking for a recipe to use them cooked. I combined four different recipes and came up with this one. It is a flattened chicken breast with an avocado fan on top covered with melted cheeses and nestled up to a mound of colorful avocado couscous. It was beautiful, very delicious and not too difficult to make. While the chicken was in the oven, I made the couscous.

I was craving a decent Blue cheese and recently bought a nice chunk downtown at the Italian deli. The price was pretty good. They have Gorgonzola for the same price. I couldn’t find anything similar at Kroger or WM for even twice the price!

Serves 4

For chicken:
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 firm ripe avocados
1 cup shredded Monterey jack, Co-jack or Mexican Blend cheese
1/4 cup crumbled Blue cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 10x15 inch shallow baking sheet lightly with canola oil spray.

Trim chicken breasts, if needed, rinse with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place between two sheets of plastic wrap or in resealable plastic bag and pound to flatten to 1/4-inch thickness.

In 6x10 or 8x8 inch flat baking dish, combine cornmeal, flour and seasonings. Dredge flattened breasts in flour mixture, one at a time, flipping to coat each side.

In large nonstick frying pan, heat oil and margarine. Cook chicken in hot oil for 2 minutes per side or until lightly browned. Remove chicken from pan and place on prepared baking sheet.

Cut avocados in half and remove pit. Read this link for explicit directions to prepare avocadoes: Simply Guacamole.

Slice lengthwise 5 times from stem end, being careful not to cut through stem end. Carefully peel, keeping slices together.  Put cut side down and press down gently on avocado with palm of hand to fan slices nicely. Lift with knife or spatula to top of chicken.

Sprinkle with cheeses and bake for 15 minutes or until chicken is done and cheese is melted.

Serve with the following recipe for couscous.

For couscous:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup corn kernels, drained
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1/2 cup couscous
1 cup water
1 tablespoon chicken base
1/2 medium avocado, diced

Heat olive oil in an 8-10 inch skillet, and sauté the green bell pepper, corn, garlic and tomatoes over low heat for approximately 5 minutes. Add the water and chicken base and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous. Simmer over medium low heat, while stirring, for approximately 2 minutes. Turn off heat and cover. Just before serving, stir in the diced avocado.

Inspirations for this recipe:

For the chicken - Avocado Chicken Melt from Penny

For the couscous - Chicken Breast with Avocado Risotto
Chad,, 21 Jun 2006

For the avocado - Avocado Glazed Chicken Breasts
~*Piper*~ ,, 28 Feb 2012

For the Blue cheese - Monterey Avocado Shrimp
Sandy,, 29 Jan 2010

Friday, March 23, 2012

Crash Potatoes

My son told me about these potatoes, so I had to look them up and try them. They are different, delicious, attractive and so easy to make! This could become a new standard. While the original recipe calls for new potatoes, I have made them with red potatoes and russets. Just be sure to pick potatoes of small to medium size and shaped fairly round. Skins should be in good shape to be eaten.

Created by Australian food writer Jill Dupleix, and originally called “Crash Hot Potatoes”, I found them on the Pioneer Woman website. Here is my version.

Serves 6

6 potatoes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon rosemary, chives, or thyme (whatever herb you have available)

Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat an 8x10 inch baking dish with canola oil spray.

Scrub potatoes, put them in a pot, cover with water and boil until just fork tender. Don’t let them get mushy!

Drain potatoes and set in prepared baking dish, leaving plenty of room between each potato.

With a potato masher, gently press down on each potato until it slightly mashes, rotate the potato masher 90 degrees and mash again.

Drizzle olive oil over the tops of each crushed potato. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and the herb of your choice.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Serve immediately or keep warm until serving.

Adapted from: Crash Hot Potatoes

Lamb and Artichoke Risotto

Mom made a roasted leg of lamb last Sunday for my daughter’s first day home on spring break, since she won’t be home for Easter dinner. This dish is a great way to use up leftover roasted lamb. Regular rice can be substituted for Arborio, but it will change the texture and you should cut back on the water to two cups. This is not colorful, a bland beige, but the flavor and texture is fantastic!

Check out the original recipe for fancier ingredients and more traditional directions for risotto. Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon margarine
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 cups diced leftover roast lamb
2 tablespoons chicken base
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts in water, drained and diced
1 cup red wine
3 cups water
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Heat the oil and butter in a 4 qt. kettle with tight fitting lid over medium heat. Stir in the onions and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the rice and stir well to coat, about 1 minute. Stir in the garlic and lamb and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes. 
Stir in the chicken base and artichoke hearts.

Stir in the wine and allow it to get absorbed by the rice, about 2 to 3 minutes. Then, stir in the water and bring to a boil. Turn heat to very low and cover tightly. Set timer to 20 minutes. When timer rings, turn off heat and let rest, still tightly covered for 5 more minutes.

Stir in the cheese and serve.

Adapted from:
Portofino Lamb and Artichoke Risotto
Glasshousejohn, letscook@yahoogroups.com21 Apr 2006