Sunday, November 20, 2011

Poultry seasoning

Some time ago I was frustrated with the fact that I could not seem to remember to buy  poultry seasoning when I was at the store.  Every time I reached for it I would realize that I forgot to get it. Again.  Eventually it dawned on me that I could make my own!  I had all the herbs and spices on hand, but I needed some help with the balance.  After some internet searching, this is the blend that seemed right to me.
Poultry Seasoning Mix

    * 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
    * 1 tablespoon dried sage
    * 1 tablespoon dried thyme
    * 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
    * 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
    * 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
    * 3/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Blend and store in a jar.  Use wherever a recipe calls for poultry seasoning or when you want a meal reminiscent of Thanksgiving.  

Monday, October 3, 2011

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

It's finally autumn here in our state, after a long, wet end to summer.  Cool weather always makes us want to have some of our favorite soups that were out of the menu rotation as we enjoyed fresh NJ produce, salads and anything grilled.  My first fall soup will be this one.  The recipe is a combination of two I found on Taste of Home and it instantly became a family favorite the first time I made it. This is a hearty soup and can easily stand as the main course with some fresh bread or muffins as a side.

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

10 Servings
Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, shredded
1 celery rib, chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
8 cups Chicken Broth
3 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup cubed cooked chicken breast
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1/4 cup minced chives
In a large saucepan, saute the onion, carrot and celery in butter until tender. Stir in flour until blended. Gradually add broth. Stir in the rice, chicken, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. stir in milk; cook 3-5 minutes longer. Garnish with chives. Yield: 10 servings (2-1/2 quarts).

Friday, September 23, 2011

Three Packet Roast

The original recipe is from my friend Kathy Havins and can also be found online in many places.  For some reason I forgot that one of the packets was brown gravy mix, and used onion soup mix instead.

  • 1 packet dry Italian dressing mix
  • 1 packet dry Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 packet onion soup mix
  • 1 can cream of mushroom or celery soup
  • 1 3-4 lb bottom round roast.
  • ¼ cup water

Put round roast in the crock pot with ¼ cup water.  Spread the cream of something soup on the roast.  Dump all the packets on top.  With crockpot on low, cook about 8 hours.

This is good as a roast with mashed potatoes and shreddd leftovers are great on a fresh roll from our favorite bread bakery, Liscio’s. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Friday Night Experiment

Savory Chicken

It’s always hard on a Friday night to come up with something easy for dinner, and this particular Friday night I didn’t even feel like eating.  But the other residents here get a little testy when I don’t cook, so cook I did.  This is what I came up with.  Served with broccoli steamed in a bag and  baked potatoes, it wasn’t to hard to handle after a long week.

Savory Chicken

-Enough boneless chicken for 4 servings.  I used chicken tenders, because that is what I had in the freezer.  You could use boneless breast or thighs, whole or cut in bite sized pieces.
Olive oil

-½ teaspoon dried savory
-½ teaspoon dried marjoram
-2 teaspoons dried chives
-a pinch of granulated garlic
-salt and pepper

-about ½ Chicken broth and a splash of lemon juice for deglazing

Mix the herbs together in a small bowl.  Heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan. 
Put the chicken in the hot pan and sprinkle with the mix of herbs. 
Cover pan.  Cook on medium-low heat until chicken is nearly done.  The timing will depend on what kind of chicken you use. 
Turn chicken and cook through with the lid off. 
Put chicken aside to keep warm and deglaze the pan.  
To deglaze a pan pour off most of the fat in the pan There shouldn’t be too much with boneless chicken, but this is the first step in deglazing a pan.  Turn the heat up to high. Add cold liquid to the hot pan—the liquid will come up to boiling very quickly, bringing up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.  For this particular recipe I used about ½ cup chicken stock and a splash of lemon juice.  Using a spoon or spatula, scrape up the fond as the liquid boils. Once all the browned bits are off the bottom of the panturn down the heat .   

You can then “finish” the sauce with a little butter or you can thicken it as you would for gravy.  

 I am sure a proper chef would cringe at the thought of that, but I cook at home and we’re trying to avoid butter!

Then return the chicken to the pan with the sauce and make sure it is heated to serving temperature.  

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cinnamon Toast Cake

This recipe was shared by a friend who, to me, is the quintessential "older woman."  It is an easy snack cake to put together when you are in a hurry, or don't have a lot of ingredients on hand.

Heat oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit

Melt 1 stick of butter
Using a spoon, mix together in a bowl:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. real vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. of the melted butter (save the rest for the topping)
Spread batter in a greased jelly roll pan
Bake 20-25 Min.

While it’s baking, stir together ½ cup sugar and 1 ½ tsp cinnamon.

While the cake is hot, right out of the oven prick with fork and spread with remaining butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wheat Germ Breakfast Rolls

This is a great make ahead breakfast/brunch treat.  The rolls can be frozen after baking and frosted at the last minute.  Even with a confectioner's sugar frosting these are pretty low in total sugar.   Being bite-sized, people just can't resist one or two or three....

Wheat Germ Breakfast Rolls

1½ c. Unsifted flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½  cup wheat germ
½ teaspoon cream of tartar

Cut in 1/3 cup shortening

Add 2/3 cup milk

Stir till blended.  Turn out on floured surface.  Knead gently about 20 times.  Divide in half.  Roll out into 7x12 rectangle.  Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Roll up like cinnamon rolls and cut into 12 pieces.  Repeat with second half.  Place in well greased miniature muffin pans.  Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. 

Drizzle with powdered sugar glaze when cool.

Makes 24 miniature rolls.

Recipe x 3= 6 doz.
4 ½ cups flour
4 tablespoons baking powder
¾ teaspoons salt
1 ½ cups wheat germ
1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup shortening
2 cup milk

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

French Silk Pie

Every year at Thanksgiving I make pies for family and friends. The past few years I have done between 60 and 65 pies on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving.... and then cook dinner.

I get my love of baking from my grandmother, I think.  She once owned a small bakery run from her home and even into her 70's  baked pounds and pounds of cookies at Christmas.  

French Silk Pie is a favorite around here for those who don't like or cannot eat the fruit pies; it is simply chocolate deliciousness.  It does contain raw eggs, so if you are one who will not eat them,  you may want to look for something like a chocolate mousse pie.

I pie                                    2 pies                                               
1 c. butter                    2 cups butter                                        
1 ¼ c. sugar                  2 ½ cups sugar                                     
4 sq. chocolate            8 squares chocolate                           
4 eggs                           8 eggs                                                    
2 t. vanilla                    4 t. vanilla                                             
9 “ pie shell                 2 pie shells                                            

I use store-bought graham cracker crusts for these pies.  It can be made with a pre-baked, traditional crust.

Melt chocolate.  Allow to cool.
In mixer bowl, cream butter; gradually add sugar, creaming until light.
Blend in chocolate and vanilla.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating 3 minutes after each addition, on medium speed of electric mixer. (1 minute on a Kitchen Aid) 
Turn into pie shell.
Chill several hours. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate curls, if desired.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

This recipe is originally from Taste of Home, but I changed it up a bit, and drastically reduced the amount of cheese (it called for FIVE CUPS!)  It is a great meal to make and share since making two creates the same mess as making one.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
Makes 2 13x9 pans, each about 6 servings.
  • 2 packages (6 ounces each) reduced-sodium stuffing mix
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 8 cups cubed cooked chicken cut in ½  inch chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 3/4 pound  ham, cut into ½ inch chunks
  • 2 cups  shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1-2 cups mixed vegetables (optional)


Prepare stuffing mixes according to package directions.
Mix all other ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix well., 
Divide into two pans.
Top with prepared stuffing mix.
Cover and freeze one casserole for up to 3 months. Cover and bake the remaining casserole at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer until stuffing is lightly browned.  
To use frozen casserole: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer or until heated through and stuffing is lightly browned.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Crispy Panko Chicken

 I love watching Iron Chef America, and while I don't think I would make most of the dishes they make I did learn about panko bread crumbs.  These Japanese bread crumbs give the nicest crunch to chicken or whatever they are used to coat. 

Crispy Panko Chicken
6 servings

  • 1 c panko bread crumbs (I use Italian style)
  • 1⁄2  c shredded Parmesan
  • (2 T olive oil
  • 1⁄2  t lemon pepper 
  • 1⁄4 c Dijon mustard
  • 2 T water)
  • 1 1⁄2 lbs chicken breasts, pounded to 1⁄4 inch 

 In a shallow dish, toss together panko, cheese, olive oil, salt & pepper.
In another dish, combine mustard, & water. 
Coat chicken breasts in mustard mixture & dredge in panko mix.
Bake on a sprayed baking sheet 25  30 min @ 400 or until golden brown.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mud Puddle Cake

This is an all-time family favorite.  My mom saw the recipe in the newspaper some time in the 70's and we've been making it ever since.  It is delicious frosted or unfrosted.  And best of all, it is actually better the day after it is made, so it is good for parties when you need to make something ahead of time!  I have shaped this and decorated this cake into dinosaur cakes, Lightning McQueen's race track, Hungry Caterpillar cupcakes and lion cupcakes with Crunch and Munch manes.  It works for ANY occasion.

Mud Puddle Cake

1 13x9 pan or 2 8x8 pans (make one, freeze one!)
Preheat oven to 350
  • 3 cups sifted flour (I never sift in real life though)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons baking soda.
  • ¾ cup oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 cups cold water

Mix dry ingredients in mixing bowl.  Add wet ingredients and blend till smooth.  Bake for 35-40 minutes  (test for doneness.) 

This is a very moist cake that seldom fails.  It goes well with 100 Thousand Dollar frosting.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yeast Breads

There is nothing better than bread, fresh from the oven, to accompany dinner or as an afternoon snack for those who cannot wait for dinner!  Yeast dough was one thing I learned to make as a teen so I could make cinnamon buns for a certain someone, proving the old adage,  "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach"!  It still works and we've been married more than 30 years.

Here are my favorite yeast bread recipes and some tips for making it.

Tips for Yeast Bread
  • Use water that feels warm to the touch, not hot. 
  • Buy yeast in bulk and store in freezer. It can be purchased at stores like Sam's Club or places like the "Amish Market."
  • Grocery store packets of yeast are over priced.  They contain 2/3 tablespoon of yeast.
  • If using whole wheat flour, knead for a longer period of time to develop the gluten. 

Our Daily Bread
(basic dough for loaves and rolls)
Adapted from LLL’s “Whole Foods for Whole Families”
Makes 2 loaves of bread or 48 rolls.  
Oven Temp:  350°

2 cups warm water
1-2 cups dry milk (optional)
1/3 cup brown sugar
½ cup butter
1 ½ teaspoon salt
up to 4 eggs
2 tablespoons yeast
1 cup wheat germ
6-7 cups flour

Mix all ingredients, except for 3 cups flour until batter is smooth.  Add remaining flour and knead with dough hook for about 8 minutes by hand.  If you are using a Kitchen Aid mixer, knead 4-7 minutes (more for smaller capacity mixers, less for 5-6 quart mixers)   Use the larger amount of flour if you use four eggs. 

Let rise about one hour.  Shape into loaves or rolls. This recipe makes 2 loaves of bread or 48 rolls.  Let rise about 1 hour ( a little less for rolls.)  Bake at 350° for about 45 minutes for bread; 30 minutes for rolls.

Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from LLL’s “Whole Foods for Whole Families”
Makes 48 cinnamon rolls.
Oven Temp: 350°

2 cups warm water
1-2 cups dry milk (optional)
1/2 cup brown sugar
½ cup butter
1 ½ teaspoon salt
up to 4 eggs
2 tablespoons yeast
6-7 cups flour

Topping for one 13x9 pan
4 tablespoons melted butter
about ½-3/4  cup brown sugar
about ¼ cup light Karo syrup.

Place brown sugar evenly in 13x9 pan.  Drizzle with melted butter and Karo Syrup.

Mix all ingredients, except for 3 cups flour until batter is smooth.  Add remaining flour and knead with dough hook for about 7 minutes.  Use the larger amount of flour if you use four eggs.  This is a soft dough.

Let rise about one hour.  Divide dough into fourths.  Roll each portion of dough into a rectangle.  Spread  about 2 additional tablespoons of melted  butter over dough.  Sprinkle with sugar (I use a handful or two. Sprinkle  with cinnamon.  Add raisins if desired. Roll from long side.  Slice rolled dough into twelve 1 inch sections.  Place in prepared pans.  Let rise about 20 minutes.  Bake at 350° forabout 30 minutes. Immediately turn rolls out onto a foil or parchment lined tray (or be prepared for lots of scrubbing.

These freeze well.  Thaw overnight before serving.  Reheat individual servings in microwave 10 seconds per roll or a whole pan in the oven till soft and warm.

Italian Bread
Makes 2 large loaves
Oven Temp: 400°

2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
6 cups bread flour

Mix all ingredients except 2 cups flour. Beat with flat beater until smooth.  Add remaining 2 cups of flour and knead with dough hook for about 8 minutes.  Let rise one hour.  (this amoint of time can be increased or decreased by ½ hour as your schedule dictates.)  Shape into two long loaves. Let rise 30-60 minutes.  Bake at 400°  for 25-30 minutes. 

This dough can be rolled out and used for pepperoni bread.  Roll out in long rectangle.  Cover with ¼ lb. thinly sliced pepperoni.  Sprinkle with 8 ounces of Italian blend cheese.  (We like 6 cheese blend.)  Roll rectangle from long edge.  Pinch seam to seal tightly.  Place on parchment paper lined baking tray,seam side down.  Make 5 or 6 slits in the top to allow steam to escape.Lt rise about 20 minutes.  Bake at 400°  for 25-30 minutes.  Cool on wire rack. If side splits open, place loaf on the other edge to allow cheese and pepperoni to slide back in.

Herb Bread
Makes 4 one pound loaves
Oven TempL 350°

1 c. warm milk or water
1 egg
2-4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
¼  tsp dried oregano
¼ 1 teaspoon dried dill
¼ teaspoon basil
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 – ½ cup freshly chopped onion
3 ½ cups bread flour
1 tablespoon yeast ( a package is not a tablespoon.)

Mix all ingredients, knead till dough is elastic and smooth.  Rise till doubled.  Punch down and shape into small loaves.  Rise until doubled. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or so.

I never make this the same way twice, so don’t be afraid of messing up the herbs.  It always tastes good no matter what I seem to put in.  Measurements for herbs can be adjusted to personal taste. 1/4 c. Pamesan cheese is also a nice addition.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Creamy Chicken and Stuffing Casserole.

I like to cook, but I am not a purist and have been known to stock a variety of cream of something soups and the like in my cupboards.  Sometimes you just need the convenience that these types of things afford.  Sometimes on a Friday night, after a long week, you just need to be able to throw something together without a lot of fuss.

  The following recipe is a take-off of a recipe on a Stove-Top Stuffing box.
  • 1 box of Stove-top stuffing prepared as directed (but I never really put the margarine and no one cares!)
  •  4-6 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup (could be cream of anything)
  • 1/3 cup onion dip (because I had that, and not the sour cream called for.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chervil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1/3 teaspoon celery seed.

Mix all the soup, dip, and herbs.  Place chicken in a baking dish. Top with soup mix.  Then top with stuffing.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes until chicken is tender and cooked through and stuffing is nicely browned.