Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Grilled Grass-Fed Rib-Eye Steaks with Balsamic-Caper Vinaigrette

Yesterday's post featured Chicken Piccata that capers were used in. If you're like me, you don't make many recipes that call for capers, which leaves you with a rather expensive nearly full jar waiting to go bad on you.

This recipe for calls for capers and can be used of course on regular beef, but if you've never eaten grass-fed beef, you must try it to taste the difference.

It is a much healthier beef as it is a lean beef, so marinading the meat is necessary for a juicy steak, but the flavor is SO MUCH BETTER in this grass fed beef.

Big AL and I purchased a 1/2 side of beef last Spring which seemingly lasted forever. Although it was a bit pricey to purchase it up front, in the long run we saved LOTS of dollars!

And there was ALWAYS meat in the freezer.

To make these delicious steaks you will need:

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup minced shallots
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for steaks and grill
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
4 3/4-inch-thick grass-fed rib-eye steaks
3 garlic cloves, pressed
4 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper


Simmer vinegar in small pan over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 6 minutes. Add shallots, 1/4 cup oil, and crushed red pepper; return to simmer. Remove from heat; whisk in parsley, capers, and thyme. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

Rub both sides of steaks with oil and garlic. Mix paprika, 2 teaspoons coarse salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper in small bowl. Sprinkle on both sides of steaks. Let stand at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush grill rack with oil to coat. Grill steaks until cooked to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to plates. Spoon vinaigrette over.

This a great main dish for those of you on low carb diets.

I found this dish on

A Special Chicken Piccata DInner

Chicken Piccata is a classic Italian recipe that is both elegant and very simple at the same time.
The tangy sauce over the chicken is just the right balance of flavors to tantalize your taste buds without overwhelming your belly as there is nothing heavy about this delicious dish.

It takes under 30 minutes to prepare, but has such impressive results, that it is worthy of serving for special occasions or a very romantic dinner for just the two of you.

It is one of Big Al's favorite, and he's more of a beef guy, so I take it as a great compliment.

This particular recipe is from GIADA De LAURENTIS from the Food Network.


2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped


Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.

Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley and a lemon slice.

Delicious served with steamed broccoli, tomato bruschetta and a Ceasar salad.

Have you made this dish before? What were the reactions to those you served it to?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Guess who's coming to dinner? And he's bringing MEATLOAF! And Some FREEBIES!


We have 2 winners- MARY at My NEW 30 and Helen at PAPRIKA IS GOOD BUT NOT IN COFFEE!

Last week, I was approached by the people at COUNTRY BOB'S and asked if I would be willing to try some of their all-purpose sauce and review the recipe on this blog site.

In exchange, they would be willing to let me offer my readers 2 chances to win a couple of bottles to try for themselves!

SO, I'm leaving you one of the recipes they sent me to review, along with my review of their product.

All YOU must do to enter the contest is LEAVE A COMMENT in my comment section telling me why you would like to try this sauce!

Country Bob's Meatloaf

You will need:

1 1/2 lbs lean hamburger
1/4 cup chopped onions
12 crushed saltine crackers
2 eggs, beaten
1 T Country Bob's Seasoning Salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 cup Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup flour


Mix all ingredients together, place in baking dish, shape in loaf, pour a little more Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce on top and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

*Let me start by saying, that I was thrilled when I read the list of ingredients on the back of the bottle of COUNTRY BOB'S All Purpose Sauce to find that they were truly ALL NATURAL! Not one word on there that I didn't recognize and couldn't pronounce.

When I checked the flavor before adding it to the food, (Finger test) I found the flavor to be sweet and tangy- just the way I like my sauce.

The recipe turned out moist and delicious, and just as I suspected, the delicious sauce lent it's sweet/tangy flavor to the meatloaf to creat a more tantalizing flavor!

You gotta' try this sauce!

If you want to try it for free, leave me a comment for your chance!

*CONTEST IS OPEN UNTIL Midnight (CT) ON Thursday, April 30.
I will announce the winner on Friday, May 1st!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lazy weekend recipe- Sausage Gravy and Biscuits

Lazy weekend Biscuits and Sausage Gravy


2 T. bacon grease
1 pound bulk sausage
1/2 C. flour
4 C. whole milk, brought to a simmer
salt, to taste
fresh ground pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan, heat milk over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Make sure to keep an eye on the milk, don’t let it boil.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet (preferably cast iron), heat the bacon grease over medium high heat until melted, then add sausage. Crumble and cook the sausage until well-browned .
Sprinkle flour over the sausage and cook, stirring, for a minute or two.

Add warm milk all at once and cook, stirring, until thickened and bubbly.
Turn heat all the way down, and season well with salt and pepper, stirring and tasting frequently until the flavor is to your liking. Turn off the heat. Gravy will continue to thicken as it cools.

Serve over warm biscuits. Add some fresh fruit and some OJ and you're off to start your weekend! Enjoy yours.

Friday, April 24, 2009


A new weekly feature here on Fridays will be my FAST AND FURIOUS menus.

I'll feature a complete meal that can be ready to serve in 30 minutes or less.
Breakfast, lunch or supper menus will be included.

These will be meals that have few ingredients with LOTS of shortcuts for the busy cook, a cook who is just starting out in the kitchen or those who find themselves with a short amount of time to feed some hungry people.

I posted early this week, so I will link yesterday's menu for Bow Tie Pasta with Vodka Sauce and Chicken here.

Click here for a bonus meal Chicken Alfredo with Red Pepper, from my archives.

*I would love for you to share your FAST AND FURIOUS Meals with me as well, and next week, I will add the "MISTER LINKY FEATURE" so everyone can hop on board and we can all see the creativity from other cooks when they're in a hurry.

If you have a quick meal to share this week, feel free to link to the meal in my comment section.

Looking forward to hearing from all of you FAST AND FURIOUS FRIDAY cooks!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Bird's Nests"- a Sweet Treat!


To help you celebrate, I found a great recipe (from that would be fun for the kids, or a nice addition to a whimsical ladies' spring luncheon or garden party.

"Jelly Bean Nests"

Extremely simple and quick!

Original recipe yield 12 nests


2 cups miniature marshmallows
1/4 cup butter
4 cups chow mein noodles
Speckled jelly beans


Butter a 12 cup muffin tin.
Combine marshmallows and butter over medium heat in a saucepan; stir until the butter and marshmallows have melted. Stir in the chow mein noodles, coat well. Butter fingers and press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the prepared muffin tin. Refrigerate until firm.

Add "speckled" jelly beans on top.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Key Lime Squares and a Florida Dream

In June, I will be traveling to Florida, and I wrote a post about my needing to lose some weight really quickly, hopefully without dieting or exercising!

I'm needing some help here. You can click to read more about my dilemma at my other site, Matter of Fact.

But all the thoughts of Florida, and me stressing over a swimsuit, just got me thinking about a lovely dessert I found from MARTHA STEWART LIVING that screams FLORIDA!

It also screams "I'm gonna' be fat and flabby in my swimsuit!"

But, I have a little bit of time, so I thought I would make these now, and enjoy them while I dream of being skinny and fit and young on the beaches of Florida.

Dream with me....

You will need:

1 cup finely ground graham cracker crumbs
2 1/2 T. finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
5 T. unsalted butter, melted
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
2/3 cup fresh Key lime juice , (about 23 Key limes)
1 cup sweetened condensed milk, (14 oz.)
2 Key limes, thinly sliced into half-moons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a small bowl. Press evenly onto bottom of an 8-inch square glass baking dish. Bake until dry and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. (Do not turn off oven.)

Put egg yolks and lime zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on high speed until very thick, about 5 min. Reduce speed to medium. Add condensed milk in a slow, steady stream, mixing constantly. Raise speed to high; mix until thick, about 3 min. Reduce speed to low. Add lime juice; mix until just combined.

Spread filling evenly over crust using a spatula. Bake, rotating dish halfway through, until filling is just set, about 10 min. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or overnight).

Cut into 2-by-2-inch bars. Garnish bars with whipped cream and a slice of lime.


Now, leave me your favorite beach inspired recipe.

Feel free to link to it in my comment section, or email it to me and I will feature it in an upcoming post!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Cookbook Collection/Addiction/Fascination and a recipe for POLENTE

This is a photo of my cookbook collection. A collection that has already been scaled down.

I collect cookbooks. I love them.

Sometimes I will grab 3 or 4 cookbooks, lie down on the sofa and read recipes. And highlight the interesting ones that I need to try. I may make little notes of ingredients I would add or take away.

I can get transported when my nose is in a good cookbook. It is so relaxing.

My favorites?

Well ,I have many favorites, for many reasons.

I love to purchase church cookbooks (those ladies know their stuff!) and community cookbooks, because those usually are tried and true favorites and I am rarely disappointed when I make anything within them.

I also purchase a cookbook when Big AL and I visit other towns, states or communities on our little pleasure trips. It becomes a souvenir I can actually USE!

This is my very favorite because of sentimental reasons.

It belonged to my grandmother, Amelia.

THE best Italian cook.

It was her cookbook, from 1926. She used it throughout her life, and it is well worn. It has become a cherished keepsake in my home.

Upon closer inspection, you'll see her handwriting and some scribbling by one of her sons when he was a small child. Possibly my Dad's "artwork."

The sign of a good recipe in a well used cookbook is a food blot on the page!

Grandma was known for her excellent cooking skills. Everything was made from scratch.

My favorite recipes of hers when I was growing up were :

POLENTA, served with stew beef, marinara sauce and grated Parmesan
Gnocci (potato dumplings)
Italian Rice , served with boiled chicken
Pizelle Cookies ( A Christmas tradition)
Yeast rolls
Nut Bread
Apple strudel

Oh, how I miss her cooking.

Her cookbook brings me closer to her.

She would be so proud to know I was making one of her recipes, and even happier if she knew I was sharing it with all of you.

SO, in her memory,I give you my Grandma Amelia's POLENTE


1 T. salt
1/2 stick butter
3/4 box yellow cornmeal
2 qt. warm water

Mix cornmeal with water and salt. Stir until smooth. Set over Med. heat, stirring constantly until it comes to a boil. Simmer about 25 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes: add butter before removing from heat.

Serving suggestion:

Cook stew beef chunks in chicken broth till done, then add beef to your favorite Marinara sauce and pour over top of Polente. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan.

So, tell me. What is your favorite cookbook and why?

Feel free to share a favorite recipe in my comment section, or email it to me at: if you would like it featured in a post.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Steak Night at Martin's Restaurant

Friday night Big Al and I ventured out on the Harley to a nearby restaurant, Martin's restaurant and Catering.

Martin's has been around for years, and is a family style restaurant complete with a friendly, home style atmosphere.
It is located on East Main in Benton, Illinois.

For those of you that aren't familiar with Benton, it is a small town in SO. Illinois that just so happens to be the hometown of actor JOHN MALKOVICH.

Martin's is open for breakfast and lunch daily, but on Friday Nights, the hours are extended as they serve delicious home style meals of Fried Chicken and Fried fish.

We came for their signature steak.

We were served a large, juicy steak, that had been marinading in a Delicious blend of flavors and cooked to perfection (medium well) just like I like it. NO sauce was needed!

It was accompanied by a baked potato and a house salad and a dinner roll for.....get this....
only $12.99!!!

We were served a special little cheese spread with buttery crackers while we were waiting on our steaks (no extra charge) and it was very simple but delicious.

We also enjoyed some mighty fine Raspberry tea!

Had we not eaten so much of the cheese and crackers before our meal, we would have ordered a slice of chocolate pie, or coconut, but we.were.stuffed.

We thought about taking a couple of slices home for a midnight snack, but...we were on a Harley...pie doesn't travel well on a bike.

We'll go back though, as this special is served every Friday night 4:00 - 7:00 pm.

Martin's is also known for their catering service. Catering wedding receptions, reunions, parties, church socials, you name it.

If you're anywhere near So. Illinois, this is definitely worth the trip. If you choose to stop by, tell 'em Sherri sent ya'!And have a slice a pie on me!

My compliments to the chef!

Bob Martin, Chef and Owner with one satisfied customer!

*I know what you're all thinking...why would I post a picture of myself that looks that bad?

It was a tough decision. For the record, I WAS SICK, on drugs (prescription) and had Harley hair. But Bob looks good so I decided to throw my normal vanity aside and feature the photo anyway. As soon as we came home, I went to bed.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Oriental Salad & Egg Drop Soup

This is a recipe that I started making years ago when I first was introduced to its sweet and sour tastiness at a church social.

My friend Jennifer submitted it in our church cookbook and it quickly became a hit at every potluck . There is usually NONE left to take home and someone is always asking for the recipe.

SO here it is:

1 large Nappa (Chinese) cabbage. (Rinse thoroughly).
1 bunch green onions.
1/2 stick butter
small bag slivered almonds
1 container sesame seeds (yes, the entire container )
2 pkgs. Ramen Noodles


1 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 T. teriyaki sauce
dash of garlic salt

Chop Nappa and green onions. Combine in large salad bowl. On stove, melt butter and add noodles, sesame seeds and almonds. Brown till golden.

Mix all dressing ingredients together then shake vigorously. Pour over greens. Add browned mixture evenly over salad. Serve immediately.

*I served this for supper with pork egg rolls (from the freezer sections) and a quick easy egg drop soup recipe.

Egg Drop Soup

5 cups chicken broth (no fat)
2 T. lemon juice
1 whole egg, whisked
slices of green onion

Bring liquids to a boil. Add egg stirring vigorously. Heat until egg is cooked, about 1 minute. Add the onions to the soup bowl, then add the soup.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Doggie Hospice Stew

Okay, I know this seems strange.

But my friend Candy posted about her dog that will be leaving the world soon. The dog was refusing to eat, which would speed up the dying process, so she found a recipe for this stew that would help keep her pooch fed and full and possibly borrow a bit more time.

You can read more about this story here.

So here's the recipe, should you ever need it. (Hopefully you won't.)

* It was written by a dog.
at Doggy

8-10 cups of water
8 tsp of chicken base
6 stalks celery, chopped
6 carrots, chopped
2 potatoes, chopped
1/2 lb green beans, cut in 1 inch pieces
leftover chicken or turkey, about 2-3 cups
dash of thyme
handful of parsley
8 oz of egg noodles.

Then she cooked and cooked and cooked it til the veggies were real soft, and added 1/2 c flour mixed with 1/3 c water to thicken it.

She takes about a cup or so, adds my kibble to my dish, and puts a little warm water in it and lets it sit for a few minutes so the kibble gets soft. And I eat like a pig! Literally, she washes the wall and floor when I'm done. But I don't have much control over my mouth anymore.

I never thought mom would give me human food, but this is good and healthy for me. Sometimes she throws in brown rice if she has some left over from her supper.

*yes, it can be consumed by humans as well.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

And We Have a WINNER!!!!

The winner of my SPRING FLING GIVEAWAY is....


Her name was entered into the drawing 17 times, by participating in all of the contest options.

Congratulations Kathy!

Your shipment will be sent as soon as you email me with your mailing address!

Happy Easter!

Here's to some good cookin'!
*I'm expecting you make at least ONE of the recipes and share it with us here.

Golden Scalloped Potatoes- Perfect for Easter DInner!

I've made this recipe for about 10 years for our Easter Dinner.

It goes very well with your Easter Ham.

The recipe is from a church cookbook I helped publish years ago. The delicious dish was submitted by my friend, Mary Darnell and is worth a try if you are interested in receiving rave reviews for your efforts.

You will need:

1 can cream of celery soup
1/3 c. milk
dash of pepper
4 c. thinly sliced potatoes
1 small onion (or use onion flakes)
1 c.shredded sharp cheddar cheese


Combine soup, milk and pepper. In buttered 1 1/2 qt. casserole, arrange alternate layers of potatoes, onions, soup mixture and cheese. Dot top with butter, sprinkle with paprika. Cover and bake at 375 for 1 hour. Uncover, and bake 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.

Makes about 4 cups.
*This recipe can be easily doubled.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Easter Smores

I found this clever idea on Creative Holiday Gift Ideas.

It would make a great Easter gift for a teacher at school or church, and would also be a fun centerpiece for the kids table at Easter; and when dinner is over, the kids can make dessert!

Here's what you need and need to do:

1. Reduce 1 sleeve graham crackers to crumbs.

2. Layer 2/3 of the crumbs in a 1 quart jar.

3. Place 8 marshmallow bunny peeps standing up, facing out around the inside of the jar.

4. Press them up against the glass, but don't squash them.

5. Carefully spoon remaining crumbs in the center of the jar to support the bunnies, pressing down to keep it snug.

6. On top of this pour 1-1/4 cup Easter M&M's.

7. Spoon 1/3 cup brown sugar into center of M&M's, gently pressing with a spoon.

options: You may add the M&M's first, then Peeps, then put combined brown sugar and graham cracker crumbs in baggie. (Less messy) .

Attach a gift tag giving the following instructions:

1. Empty the jar contents into a bowl. Snip the bunnies into bits with kitchen sheers or cut up with a knife. Return the bunny bits to the mixture. Mix well.

2. Melt 1/2 cup butter; add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Pour this over the dry ingredients, mixing well. Pat into a greased 9" square pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.
(Makes 9 to 12 bars.)

*Option - leave bunnies whole; combine remaining ingredients and place the bunnies on top; then bake as directed.

*This gift jar may be created to suit any holiday for which marshmallow candies are available.

*Scroll down for even more delicious Easter recipes!

Before you leave, be sure to enter my SPRING FLING GIVEAWAY! (Click on the photo on my top left sidebar.)
It only takes ONE CHANCE to WIN!

*Contest ends this Saturday!

Resurrection Buns

Making these buns for RESURRECTION  morning breakfast has been a tradition in our home since ours boys were small.

Although our  mornings have always been rushed, we would still enjoy these great tasting buns that bring back some wonderful memories.

It's a great way to teach the Resurrection story to children!

Resurrection Buns

Each child takes a Grand (or other large ) canned biscuit.
1. They flatten the biscuit out until it's about 5 inches across.

2.They spread melted butter, sugar and cinnamon on it.
*We explain that the spices represent the spices used to anoint Jesus' body before His burial.*

3.Then each child gets one large marshmallow.
*The marshmallow represents Jesus.
It is white because it stands for His purity and His sinless life.

4. They place the marshmallow in the center of the biscuit, then fold the sides around it forming a "tomb".

(You may need to help the younger children pinch the sides of their tombs closed and then place them crease side down on a baking sheet so they will not open while cooking).

5. Put more butter, cinnamon and sugar on the outside. (or leave plain)

* We talk about the sweet taste of the spices and how Jesus gave us the sweetest gift we will ever receive.*

6.At this point you can go ahead and bake the buns. (according to pkg. directions.)

Remove when done and cool.

When the children bite into their buns they will be surprised to find the center empty! The marshmallow has melted.

As each child discovers the empty tomb, we repeat : "He is not here for He is risen!"

It can become a wonderful Easter morning tradition in your home, that only takes minutes to prepare but the memories will last a lifetime.

*Scroll down for more delicious Easter recipes.

Before you leave, don't forget to enter my Spring Fling Giveaway! Contest ends THIS SATURDAY!