Monday, September 8, 2008

Broccoli Gratin

I found this delicious recipe in a recent issue of Everyday Food Magazine. Let me tell you, it is a crowd pleaser! Gooey cheese with a nice crunch from bread crumbs. This will make anyone want to eat their broccoli!


3 slices sandwich bread
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup flour
3 cups whole milk
2 heads broccoli florets(about 2 lbs), chopped finely
1 cup shredded white cheddar
salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a food processor pulse bread with 1 tbs olive oil until large crumbs form; season with salt and pepper.

In a large sauce pan, heat remaining oil over medium. Whisk in flour and stir constantly for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli and reduce to a simmer. Cook until broccoli is tender, about 15- 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup of cheese. Transfer mixture to baking dish (I used a 2 quart, but a 1 quart would probably work also). Top with bread crumbs and remaining cheese.

Bake until golden, 6 to 8 minutes.

(I have also prepared this ahead of time and saved the baking until right before serving. I just keep the baking dish in the refrigerator until I am ready for it.)

I use this as a main dish since we are eating less meat. Served with a small tomato & greens salad, it's a wonderful entree. However, this would also be great as a side dish and perfect for a pot luck!

Black Bean Salad

This is one of my favorite throw-together-because-I-have-no-desire-to-stand-over-a-stove-all-afternoon-recipes. Scrumptious flavors, and a surprisingly hearty dish. This is another one that would be great accompanied by some corn bread! :)


1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, defrosted
1/c cup chopped green onions
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
2 tbsp lime juice (or about half a lime)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar
salt & pepper, to taste

There is no cooking! Just chop, dice, peel and stir it all together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Best if chilled before serving, though I would recommend adding the avocado right before serving.

As a side, or main attraction, this salad can be served however your heart desires!

**The picture is shown with red onions, but I prefer the more subtle taste of green onions.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fettuccine with Zucchini

I am in love. I found this fabulous cookbook at my library a few months ago and I just keep rechecking it out. Guess it's time I got my own! This Fettuccine with Zucchini is a delicious recipe that I pulled from this cookbook out of desperation one night. It is now on regular rotation at my house. Simple. Fresh. Light. A perfect summer dish.


1 lb fettuccine
2 tbsp. butter
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 lb zucchinis (I used 1 zucchini, 1 summer squash), grated
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions.

In a separate, large sauce pan, melt butter over med-low heat, until butter foams. Add in crushed garlic, cooking for 1 minute. (Be careful of burning the garlic.) Stir in the grated zucchini and cook until tender, 3-4 minutes. (I worked mine in batches as there was a lot of it for one pan. I just cooked half at a time and then set aside while the other half was cooking.)

Once fettuccine is cooked, drain completely and pour zucchini/butter sauce over pasta.

Note: I added in a few red pepper flakes, as well as a few pinches of salt, pepper and dried basil. I think this added a kick, though it was delicious without the additions.

I served this with a side of crusty Italian bread and black iced tea. The tea was a great compliment to the freshness of the fettuccine.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Cupcakes

My sweet tooth was in full swing this weekend while at a friends Going Away party. These delectable looking creatures were sitting before me and I wanted to eat every last one. I managed some restraint and instead came home and made my very own batch! :)

I am sure this recipe has been done numerous ways, but this was how I did it. And y'all, all I have to say is Yum!

for filling...
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese
1/3 cups sugar
1 egg
1/8 tsp. salt
2 cups mini chocolate chips

for cupcakes...
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper cups or lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl beat the cream cheese, egg, 1/3 c. sugar and 1/8 tsp. salt. Mix well. Fold in chocolate chips.

In a large bowl mix flour, 1 c. sugar, cocoa, baking soda and 1/2 tsp. salt. Add in water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Stir until blended well.

Fill cupcake tins half way with cake batter. Add generous dallop of cream cheese filling in the center. (I put about 1 1/2 tbs.)

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

With a tall glass of milk!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Blueberry Coffee Cake

I don't bake. I cook- and I love to cook, but I don't bake. My friend Sarah loves to bake and in the past (the way, far away past) we whipped up a few cakes together. Now that I'm baking solo I stick with a box mix. (Gasp! I KNOW- outrageous!) That is, until yesterday.

You see, my grocer put blueberries on sale, 2 for 1, and I adore me some blueberries. It is also picking season here in the Northeast and scrumptiously fat toddler cheeks being stuffed with hand picked berries is a photo op waiting to happen, y'all. So, I had to find something to do with all these berries.

Enter amazingly easy, and equally delicious, coffee cake recipe. Yum.

for topping...
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon cinnamon

for cake...
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries fresh or frozen

Topping - In small mixing bowl, combine topping ingredients. Blend with fork until crumbly. Set aside.

Sift 1 1/2 cups sifted flour with baking powder and salt into a bowl. In a medium bowl, beat together beaten egg and 3/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup melted butter.Add milk and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture and mix well.

Pour 1/2 the batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square or 9-inch layer-cake pan. Sprinkle with blueberries and top with remaining batter.

Sprinkle topping crumb mixture evenly over batter. Bake at 375° for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cake tests done. Partially cool in pan on wire rack. Cut coffee cake into squares while still warm.

Let me just say it again... Yum! The only thing that would make this better is some chocolate. Oh, and maybe some walnuts. Then it would be double yum!! Cause chocolate and nuts make good things even better!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pineapple/BBQ Chicken

For a quick, easy, delicious meal... this one can't be beat.

4 chicken breasts, thin sliced
1 (20 oz.) can juice packed cubed pineapple, drained, juice reserved
1 bottle BBQ sauce
½ green pepper
½ red pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place foil in medium sized baking dish. Grease lightly.

Place the chicken in the baking dish. Arrange peppers and pineapple around the chicken. Pour the reserved pineapple juice all over. Top with BBQ sauce.

Bake 1 hour, or until the chicken juices run clear.

I serve this over white rice. The BBQ sauce combines with the pineapple juice to make a delicious "gravy".

** This recipe can also be made in the slow cooker. Just cook on high for 4+ hours until meat is tender.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Veggie Ragu

This has quickly become one of my favorite dishes. It is hearty as is, or can be "beefed" up with your favorite ground meats.

1 shallot
2 cloves of garlic
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 zucchini
3 carrots, peeled
1 tbs olive oil
1 cup milk
1 cup vegetable stock
6 oz. tomato paste
1/2 tbs dried basil
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt/pepper, to taste

Finely dice shallot and onion. Chop all other veggies to roughly the same size, or about 1/2 inch pieces.

Heat large pot over medium heat. Saute the shallot and garlic in the olive oil until shallot is translucent. (Be careful not to burn the garlic.)

Add the other veggies and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in half of the tomato paste with the milk and stock. Mix until creamy. If needed, add remain tomato paste.

Season with basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Simmer on low for an hour or more. Adjust seasonings as it cooks.

Serve over pasta or rice. Or, my personal favorite, with just some parmesan cheese sprinkled atop and a side of garlic bread. Yum!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Strawberry Poppyseed Salad

This is a summertime favorite in my household. When it's too hot to turn on the oven, throw these yummy ingredients together in a bowl and, voilĂ ! Dinner is served. Of course, you can always add some grilled chicken for a meaty take.

1 head of green leaf lettuce, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro
1 avocado, diced
½ pint fresh strawberries, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
curtons or sliced almonds (optional)
Marie Callender’s Poppyseed Dressing (others can substitute, but this is the best)

Chop, mix, and enjoy!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Southern Style Baked Chicken

This is a healthful take on some southern cooking. I just made this recipe up as I went, so feel free to modify to suite your tastes.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups of bread crumbs
1/2 cup of quick cooking oats
1 cup milk
salt/pepper to taste
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbs. parsley
2 tbs. Parmesan cheese
4 dabs of butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put the milk in shallow bowl. Mix bread crumbs, oats, salt, pepper, garlic, parsley and cheese together in another shallow bowl.

Dip chicken in the milk, then in the bread crumb mixture. Make sure to coat well on both sides.

Place in non-stick baking dish or pan. Put a dab of butter atop each breast. Cook 30 to 45 minutes.

Goes great as is, or with country gravy and rice.

Or, with only a few minutes of cooking left, add a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese and some broccoli, or sliced tomato, to the top of each chicken breast.

Black Bean and Ham Soup

I am not a soup lover. In fact I have several, um, "yucky" experiences with soups and therefore I tend to stay away from them. However, there are just some days that require a warm and cozy meal. Yesterday was such a day.

As I was making out my weekly menu and grocery list, the weather turned ugly. Dark clouds, howling wind and pelting rain against my window. I decided that it was a perfect night for soup. (Of course, in true Vermont fashion, by dinner time it was sunny and 40 degrees. I just can't win!)

Anyway, it turned out delicious. In case anyone is in need of something yummy to cook for dinner tonight, here is the recipe I used.

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion (or 2 small shallots), diced
6 cloves garlic, diced
2 cans black beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes (or 3 fresh tomatoes, diced)
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 cup frozen corn
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup cubed ham
2 limes
1/4 cup cilantro (or half a bunch)
1 avocado, sliced (optional garnish)
sour cream (optional garnish)

Heat olive oil in large pot (I used my slow cooker). Add in onion and garlic; sauté until onion is translucent. Add in beans, tomatoes and corn. Pour in chicken stock- just enough to cover ingredients. (I don't like extremely watery soups, so I added less than I originally planned. Probably only 3 cups.)

Season with chili powder and/or salt and pepper- to taste.

Let cook on high in crock pot, or med-high on stove, for 2 hours. Then add in diced ham and the juice from the 2 limes. Continue cooking 1 hour, or until the ham is warmed through.

Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. (I found mine needed more chili powder, but I like things a bit spicy.)

Serve garnished with dollop of sour cream, sliced avocado and cilantro.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

BBQ Meatloaf

I grew up eating meat loaf. It was one of my mom's 10 go-to recipes. In order to get my brothers and I to eat it she added a cup of salsa to the mix. Anything with salsa is yummy in my book. I had planned to cook mom's version several times, but my hubby's grimace every time I mentioned it kept me from trying. He was not a meatloaf fan, at all.

That is, until I came up with this little recipe. This meat loaf is now his favorite meal of all time. And best of all, it's super easy to make.

for the loaf...
1 lb lean ground beef
1 large egg
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 grated cheese
salt/pepper, to taste

for glaze...
2 tbsp favorite BBQ sauce
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp yellow mustard
1/2 tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease baking dish.

In a medium sized bowl, combine ground beef, egg, bread crumbs and 1/4 cup of cheese. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Form beef into loaf and place in the baking dish.

Tip: Place two slices of bread on the bottom of your dish before adding the meatloaf and the bread will soak up all the extra grease.

In a separate bowl, mix together all ingredients for the sauce. Spread over the meat loaf, coating all sides. Top with remaining 1/4 cup of cheese.

Bake for 30-45 minutes.

I usually serve this with a fresh, green salad and couscous.