Welcome Fellow Food Enthusiasts

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

lemon bars.

oh, my friends. this is my favorite dessert of all time. so much lemony goodness. i hate it when "lemon" desserts are mostly sweet with only a hint of lemon. this is a lemon dessert. total perfection. anywho, on to the recipe!

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup butter, refrigerated
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp grated lemon peel
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
powdered sugar

combine 1/2 cup powdered sugar and flour. cut in butter until crumbly, the size of small peas. press into the bottom of a 9x13 pan. bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. meanwhile, beat together eggs, sugar, baking powder, salt, lemon peel and juice until fluffy. pour over hot crust. bake additional 20-25 minutes until no imprint remains when touched lightly in the center. let cool slightly. sift powdered sugar over top. cool completely before cutting (4 hours or overnight). serve chilled.

soon after you remove it from the oven, go around the edge with a knife to separate it from the pan. this will make your life easier when you're cutting them later.

and then you can go ahead and die and go to heaven.

Monday, August 29, 2011

cindy's broccoli cream soup- revisited.


since i don't have a garden of my own, i will be using produce from my mom's garden and my mother-in-law's bountiful basket for the cook challenge! when my MIL gave me some fresh broccoli, i found this recipe in the archives and changed a couple of things along the way. {i added another can of broth 'cause i like my soup a little soupier, and some cheddar cheese added the saltiness that i was missing.}

i portioned this out, topped with a little cheese, and sean has some delicious soup waiting in our freezer for him to take to work for lunch :)

2 cups chopped fresh or frozen broccoli
1\2 cup chopped onion
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 can fat-free evaporated milk
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

in a saucepan, combine broccoli, onion, celery, broth, and pepper; simmer for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. puree half of the mixture in a blender; return to the saucepan.

in a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and 3 tablespoons of milk until smooth. gradually add remaining milk. stir into the broccoli mixture. bring to a boil; boil and stir for 2 minutes. reduce heat to medium. stir in shredded cheese. continue simmering until soup thickens slightly.

top with shredded cheddar cheese and crackers!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cook Challenge: Fruits Of Your Labors

Time again for yet another amazing Cook Challenge.  (What you don't think they are amazing?  You think they are beyond amazing?!  You are too kind.)  This challenge parallels the wonderful world of gardening.  This year was my first experience with a garden, and my cup runneth over.  No really, my fridge is full of zucchini, cucumbers, green onions, and both large and cherry tomatoes. Still waitin' on my corn - wish they would hurry up and pollinate each other so I could have me some fresh corn ears!  And my string beans and snow peas have seen better days....  Regardless of the state of my humble garden, this green-thumb-in-training has been inspired again.  Here's your challenge:

How Do You Reap the Fruits of Your Labors?
Make 3 dishes that include at least one of your garden's growth.
Don't have a garden? It's okay.  We won't tell if you buy yours at Smiths.

Ready?  Set?  Cook!

Roasted Red Potato Salad {MY FAVE!}

Drum roll please... Here it is.  My FAVORITE salad this summer.  (Thank you Nopper Family for showing me this divine dish!) This is the best potato salad I've ever had. Period.  What I love about this salad is that it isn't your typical dill and potato salad, and second to that is how surprisingly easy and simple it is.  Check it...

red potatoes, roasted and diced
hard boiled eggs, chopped
bacon, cooked and chopped
green onion, diced
a little bit o' Miracle Whip
Salt n Peppa

...I'm not putting how much to use of each ingredient because it's best to make it the way you love best.

Place diced potatoes on a cookie sheet (sprinkle with olive oil and this seasoning salt - or one of your choice - for added flavor).  Roast at 425 degrees until lightly toasted - about 40 to 45 minutes.  At the same time you are roasting your potatoes you can cook your bacon! Place bacon strips on a greased cooling rack, then place the cooling rack with the bacon in a cookie sheet.  I find this is the best way to cook bacon.  The grease drains off of the bacon down into the cookie sheet for less fat!  And the bacon is unreal it's so good!  Be careful not over cook your bacon - it will cook a lot faster than the potatoes.

Once all ingredients are cooked and chopped up, mix in a large bowl.  Add Miracle Whip to taste (I usually use about 1/2 to 3/4 cup).  Salt and pepper to taste (love using freshly ground pepper with this...yum!)

Serve warm.

You have to try this salad!  And when you do, return and report!  I'd love to hear what you thought!


4 tbs Butter
2 cups Couscous
1 small Onion, minced
 3/4 tsp Salt
2 cups Water
1 3/4 cups Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
Melt two tbs of the butter in a 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the couscous and cook, stirring often, until some of the grains are just beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer the couscous to a large bowl. Melt the remaining two tbs butter in the skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and salt and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the water and broth and bring to a boil. Pour the boiling liquid over the toasted couscous and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let it sit until the couscous is tender, about 12 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and fluff the couscous with a fork. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Smothered Pork Chops {Slow Cooker}

5 Slices Bacon, Chopped
6 Pork Chops
Salt and Pepper
2 Yellow Onions, Peeled, Halved and sliced
1 tsp plus 1 tbs Brown Sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs Cold Water
3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
 1 tsp Dried Thyme
3 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 tbs Soy Sauce
2 Bay Leaves
1 tbs Cornstarch
1 tbs Cider Vinegar
2 tbs Fresh Parsley, Chopped

In a large skillet over medium heat, fry bacon until lightly browned, about 5-6 minutes. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels, leaving the drippings in the pan. If you have more than 2 tablespoons drippings, drain the excess. If you don’t have quite that much, supplement with canola oil. When the bacon is cool, transfer to a small bag or tupperware and refrigerate until later.
Heat the skillet with the drippings over medium or medium-high heat until rippling and hot. Meanwhile, pat pork chops dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook pork chops until they are golden brown on each side, about 2 minutes per side, cooking them in batches in the skillet if your skillet isn’t big enough to hold all six at a time in a single layer. When golden on each side, transfer the chops to the slow cooker and repeat with remaining pork.
Pour off all but 1 teaspoon of fat from the skillet; add onions, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup water to empty skillet. Using a wooden spoon, scrape browned bits from bottom of the pan and cook over medium-high heat until onions are soft, about 4-6 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour onion mixture over chops in the slow cooker. Add broth, soy sauce and remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar to skillet, bring to a boil and add bay leaves. Pour mixture over onions in slow cooker.
Cover slow cooker and cook on low until pork is tender, about 8 hours (or cook on high for 4 hours).
When ready to serve, carefully transfer chops to serving platter with a large spoon and tent with foil. Discard bay leaves and pour liquid through a mesh strainer into a saucepan, reserving the solids. Transfer solids to a food processor or blender with 1 cup liquid and blend until smooth. Stir the blended mixture back into remaining liquid in the saucepan. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and remaining 2 tablespoons water together in a small bowl and stir into sauce. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar, season with salt and pepper, pour over chops and sprinkle with reserved bacon and parsley. Serve.


1 lb Jumbo Cooked Shrimp, Peeled and Chopped
1 Medium Tomato, Diced
1 Hass Avocado, Diced
1 Jalapeno, Seeds Removed, Diced Fine
1/4 cup Chopped Red Onion
 2 Limes, Juice of
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 tbs Chopped Cilantro
Salt and Fresh Pepper To Taste
In a small bowl combine red onion, lime juice, olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper. Let them marinate at least 5 minutes to mellow the flavor of the onion. In a large bowl combine chopped shrimp, avocado, tomato, jalapeno. Combine all the ingredients together, add cilantro and gently toss. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Triple Berry Pie

Doesn't it look good?  It was good.  The only problem with this recipe is that you really need to double that you have a second pie for later.  This recipe is a combination of two recipes, the crust comes from Paula Dean and the filling is sort of a combination of two recipes that I'm going to call my own creation. 

Triple Berry Pie
Adapted by Emily Jacobs

For the Crust:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp fine salt
3 Tbsp white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, COLD
12 Tbsp butter, cut into small cubes and COLD
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt and sugar.  Add the shortening and break it up with your hands as you start to coat is all up with the flour.  Add the cold butter cubes and work it into the flour with your hands or a pastry cutter (I found that a fork works the best here),  Work it quickly, so the butter doesn't get too soft, until the mixture is crumbly, like very coarse cornmeal.  Add the ice water, a little at a time, until the mixture comes together forming a dough.  Bring the dough together into a ball.

When it comes together stop working it otherwise the dough will get over-worked and tough.  Divide the dough in half and flatter it slightly to form a disk shape.  Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. 

For the Filling:

4 cups of mixed berries, thawed if you are using frozen. (I used blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries.)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup instant tapioca
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes while you roll out your chilled  pie crust. 

On a floured surface, roll each disk out into 10 to 11-inch circles to make a 9 inch pie.  Line the pie plate with one layer of crust, fill the pie with the berry filling and then top with the second layer of pie crust.  Trim and crimp the edges of the crust and poke 3 or 4 holes in the pie to allow steam to escape. Coat the top lightly with an egg wash (1  egg + 1 tbsp water beaten together) and cook in a 400 degree oven for 45 - 50 minutes.  Check the pie 15 or 20 minutes in and if the edges are already golden brown, cover them with foil so they won't burn.  Allow the pie to cool completely before serving otherwise it will be a runny mess.  Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream or nothing at all.  It's all good!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Banana Cupcakes With Whipped Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I haven't posted in a long time, but I just had to share these delicious cupcake/bread and frosting recipes.  They are SO yummy I find myself craving them all the time.  The whipped chocolate buttercream frosting is the best I've ever had, but I warn you, it is not very good for you.

If you make this recipe as cupcakes, I would suggest keeping the frosting refrigerated until just prior to serving. I made the banana recipe as both cupcakes and bread, and I recommend both! 

(Please pardon the picture, it was taken with my iPhone and doesn't do the cupcake justice.)

Banana Cupcakes
(May also use this recipe for bread)

2 eggs, beaten
1/3 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 c. mashed, ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
1 1/2 c. white sugar
1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Blend wet ingredients together, then add sifted dry ingredients and mix.
Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full or spray 1 loaf pan with non-stick spray and fill for bread.

Bake cupcakes for 22-25 minutes or bread for 1 hour 20 minutes.
Top cupcakes with whipped chocolate buttercream frosting and enjoy!!

Whipped Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped*
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 T. unsweetened cocoa
3 sticks unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream

Melt chocolate and let cool. Blend butter until creamy, then add powdered sugar and cocoa.  Add cooled melted chocolate, vanilla and whipping cream.  Whip for 5 minutes, then chill in refrigerator for 2 hours before frosting.

*If you are like me and do not keep unsweetened baking chocolate on hand, use 9 T. of unsweetened cocoa plus 3 T. oil in place of the 3 oz. melted chocolate. This is in addidtion to the other 1 1/2 T. the recipe calls for.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding

My best friend Sarah introduced me to this recipe and it is one more reason why I count myself lucky to know her.  It is so good.  So very good. 

Not yo' Mama's Banana Pudding
Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen


  • 2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
  • 6 to 8 bananas, sliced
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding (I can never find this, plain vanilla works too)
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream (use whipped cream, it's better I promise)


Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.
In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Greek Orzo Salad

I have tried a few of Rachael Ray's Recipes and not really been too happy with them, but I found this one in her magazine last month and thought it sounded good.  Well, we weren't disappointed because it was really tasty.  I have made it two times, once with Chicken and Veggie Kebabs and most Recently along side some nice tasty grilled steaks.  It was a perfect compliment to both meals!  I didn't put as much celery as she said and I added grape tomatoes sliced in half to the salad.  It was better this way so I'm going to add it to the recipe. 

Greek Orzo Salad
Recipe by Rachael Ray
Serves 4 (served 4 adults and 3 kids with a little left over)

Salt and Pepper
2 Small Lemons
3 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/4 cups (8 oz.) of Orzo Pasta, which is Half of a bag.
2 full stalks of Fresh celery including the greens (the greens have a lot of flavor, chop them well though)
1 chunk (4 oz.) Feta Cheese (this is half a package from the store, but you can make the salad twice.  I love that.)
8 Kalamata Olives, oil packed with herbs (I used black olives because the kalamata's were pricy.  Plus I hate olives, no one seemed to care)

Bring a pot of water to boil and add 2 tsp of salt.  Add the orzo to the boiling water and cook, stirring often, according to the directions on the package.  While the orzo is cooking, in the bowl you want to serve the salad in finely zest the 2 lemons.  Remember to not add the white part of the skin as it is bitter.  Add the Extra Virgin Olive Oil and 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to the zest.  Mix well and set aside.

Slice the celery lenghtwise and then chop into small pieces, you should have about 1 cup.  Cut the grape tomatoes and olives in half.

When the orzo is cooked, drain it in a strainer and rinse well with cold water.  Add the cooled orzo to the bowl with the lemon oil and toss.  

To finish, add the cut veggies and crumble the feta cheese into the salad.  Gently toss the orzo to coat all the ingredients with the lemon oil and serve. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

All Greens Salad

It really has been too ridiculously long since I've posted a recipe.  Summer has me everywhere but in front of my computer lately.   But you better believe I have still been cooking and taking pictures.  Just not finding time to post!  Sigh  But here we are finally.  My kids are with Dad doing yard work so I thought I'd steal a few seconds to post some fabulous things I've been cooking this summer, even though I should be doing the dishes.  They can wait.

This has been my 2nd* favorite salad this summer.  (Remember this favorite way back when?)  I'm loving this new, extremely easy, salad my very health-conscience friend made for me one evening.  Thank you dear! ;)

My husband calls this salad Rabbit Food.  Haha.  Men.  See what you think.  I think it's fresh, crispy, and new.  Just what the Doctor ordered during this heat . . .

green peppers
green onions
baby spinach leaves
Salad dressing of your choice (we use Ranch - not the healthiest, but hey.  It's good.)

*Stay tuned for my number one favorite salad this summer.  You're going to die it's soooo yummy.  Now if I can just steal another minute away to post it... ;)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

zucchini/squash pancakes.


ok, this is the 3rd post in a row that i have to say "this isn't really much to look at", but it's true. it's also true that these are delicious. i should create a new category called "how to use all of that zucchini and squash that is so plentiful in your garden"... but i won't :)

we had these for breakfast a lot in the summer growing up, but you can really make them any old time. i guess they kind of fall into a quiche-ish/brunchy sort of category? i don't know. anyway, tonight we had them for dinner with some green beans from my mom's garden.

1/2 c Bisquick
1- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded yellow squash or zucchini {with skins}
1 tbsp butter, melted
2 eggs


combine all ingredients. spoon batter into frying pan {medium heat}. cook until there are no longer bubbles forming in the pancake, 1-2 minutes; turn over and cook for 1-2 minutes longer. enjoy the cheesy, squashy, zucchini-y deliciousness!