Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Spicy Tomato Bisque with Mini Grilled Pepper-Jack Sammies





Recently I came across a new  soup recipe at allrecipes.com that caught my eye.

I love tomato soup, but my hubs is not a fan. My daughter-in-law is Mexican and loves spicy food and she was pregnant at the time  and I wanted to make her something filling but pretty healthy too, so I thought that maybe, this particular soup recipe might be appealing to both of them, since it was a bit of a change of pace from the typical, more bland flavor of your run-of-the-mill  tomato soup.

I underestimated how delicious it would be. It was a huge hit with everyone at my house. My hubs actually commented on the great flavor , adding that he normally doesn't care for tomato soup.  My daughter-in-law normally adds jalapenos to everything I make because it's usually not spicy enough for her ;), but she didn't add a thing!

When I make tomato soup, I like a good grilled cheese sandwhich on the side (for dipping). I only had a package of party rye slices on hand, and some pepper-Jack cheese, so I chose to try to grill em up and see what everyone thought...another big hit! I also added a simple salad to round out the meal.

This is a simple lunch/supper that I would consider "semi-homemade"...much better than plain ole canned soup, but with some time-saving help from some cans.

Try it yourself and let me know what you thought.






For 4 servings YOU WILL NEED:


1 (28 ounce) can tomato puree
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 cup milk
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves (optional)

In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the tomato puree, red pepper flakes, black pepper, basil, and sugar. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.

VIOLA! A delicious, quick soup to satisfy even your picky eaters!

For the grilled sandwiches:

1 loaf of party rye bread
butter (for buttering both sides of each side--DO NOT use that nasty margarine!!!)
Pepper-Jack cheese ( slices cut to fit inside 2 slices of bread)

Grill sandwiches in med. skillet till brown on both sides and cheese is melted.  Set on warm plate. Make A BUNCH!

Dip in soup.  ENJOY!

And while you're at it, ENJOY a pic of my precious granddaughter, LIA ROSE MURPHY, 2 weeks old.









Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fruit Salsa


My friend and co-worker Tracy shared this recipe with me, after I ate two helpings at a party she hosted recently. Very refreshing--and pretty healthy, too.
It is called a "salsa", but really it is just a finely chopped fruit salad.

YOU WILL NEED:
1 lg. red apple
1 lg. green apple
5 kiwis
1 lb. fresh strawberries
1 small cup mandarin oranges (drained)
2-3 T. Apricot jelly
1 T. Brown sugar
1 T. white sugar

Cut up all fruit in tiny pieces (or put in food processor like photo above)
Serve with cinnamon tortilla chips or graham crackers.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Ronald, The Big Mac and Me










I wanted to brag about my brush with greatness.



This is a photo from a few years ago of me with fellow community volunteer Jamie, with none other than Ronald McDonald himself!



I was asked to be a judge of our local kiddie and Pet Parade which was sponsored by our local McDonald's and they brought in The Ronald to be the parade Marshal.



I really didn't realize how great Ronald was with the children. He performed magic tricks, was very generous with the many photos ops and answered any questions while keeping that famous Ronald smile of his the entire time. The kids were in awe of him.



This icon has been around since the sixties (so have I!) and continues to wow those he comes in contact with (me...not so much, anymore).



Our local McDonald's Owners, John and Mary Moreland are extremely generous to our community- always giving back and helping meet needs and putting smiles on faces of children and adults alike. The McDonald's corporation are also involved in helping with the needs of children -going above and beyond helping busy mothers feed their hungry kids- pronto!



And besides getting a quick meal when you need it- I have found that in my travels across several states, McD's are the cleanest and the most well run fast food restaurants of any chain across the nation.



Having said all that, I will give you my version of their famous BIG MAC which is THE most popular burger in America- making its debut back in the sixties. (Their burger, not mine)









1 sesame seed hamburger bun

Half of an additional bun

1'4 lb. ground beef

1 T. Kraft Thousand Island dressing

1 tsp. finely diced onion

1/2 cup chopped lettuce

1 slice American cheese

2-3 dill pickle slices



With serrated knife, cut the top off the extra bun, leaving about a 3/4 " thick slice. This will be the middle of your sandwich.

Place 3 bun halves on hot griddle or pan, face down. Toast to a light brown. Keep pan warm but set buns aside.



Divide beef in half and press into two patties, slightly larger than the bun.



Cook patties in pan over med. heat 3 minutes each side (or until no longer pink in center). Salt lightly.



Build burger in this order:

Bottom bun

1/2 of dressing

1/2 of onion

1/2 of lettuce

cheese

patty

middle bun

remainder of dressing

"" of onion

"" of lettuce

Pickle slices

patty

top bun.



Makes 1 burger.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Strawberry Vanilla Trifle

Recently a good friend's son graduated high school, and I made this simple, yet elegant trifle for the after party. The dish was empty before the party was over. It is simple to prepare. (I doubled this recipe as this was a very large trifle dish) https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4160455060127&set=a.4157003933851.2160814.1546586519&type=1&theater#!/media/set/?set=a.4157003933851.2160814.1546586519&type=1
Mix together: 1 small package vanilla INSTANT pudding mix 1 cup milk 1 8oz. container sour cream Then: Whip 2 cups HEAVY WHIPPING CREAM till stiff peaks form (for best results, chill your bowl and beaters) and add a little sugar, to taste. *You could add Cool WHip instead, but real whipped cream can't be matched, in my opinion. Fold into pudding mixture. In trifle dish, layer: Cubed angel food cake (can also use pound cake, or vanilla cake) Pudding mixture Layer of sliced strawberries repeat. Top with berries (and more whipped cream, if desired).
Enjoy!

Monday, February 13, 2012

How to make a simple Valentine's meal special....



Last year, I came up with what has turned out to be one of my favorite Valentine's Day memories with my husband. (We've celebrated 30 of them together!)

I decided to make him a Chinese meal at home (so much more romantic than sharing dinner with 50 of our "closest friends" in a restaurant...)

My menu was simple: Homemade Egg Drop Soup, Egg Rolls(purchased), Chicken and Veggies with Fried Rice, some Chai Tea and a Chocolate Heart Brownie with caramel and chocolate sauce drizzled on top with ice cream and a chocolate dipped strawberry.

What made it special was the presentation.

A friend I met on facebook, allowed me to borrow her Kimono that she had used for a Halloween costume. It came complete with matching shoes!

I went to a local thrift store in town and purchased an oriental fan to complete the ensemble....

The thrift store also had some unique serving dishes with an oriental flair that I used along with the serving pieces I already had.

I even found a red book of LOVE with Chinese symbols in it!

I had a CD of oriental instrumental music playing in the background. We sat on the floor in my living room at the coffee table and enjoyed this wonderful dinner.

It was a wonderful evening. :)






My husband's gift to me was his own dinner a couple of nights before. HE IS NOT A COOK (he has honestly told me before, "Sher, I would starve without you." and he is right!)

He made a simple Tortellini dish. (My request)

He purchased a bag of frozen tortellini and I told him that all he had to do was boil the pasta, and add Parmesan cheese and butter....and that's EXACTLY what he did. It was SWIMMING in water because he didn't DRAIN the pasta (because I didn't tell him to do that one very important step!) WHO woulda' thought someone wouldn't know to do that?

We laughed...drained the pasta...added more butter and Parmesan and it was delicious! He also purchased some good cheeses and crackers, and had fresh fruit for me.

Did I mention I love my Big AL?

Make it a wonderful day tomorrow for whomever you love. A spouse, a child, grandchild, friend, neighbor....CELEBRATE the love for the people in your life!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!


Scroll down my sidebar for more dinner recipes or desserts that would be perfect for your Valentine!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine's Day TV Presentation


CLICK here to see my presentation on the morning news today that is chock full of Valentine's Day ideas that are very simple for even the "non-cook" to prepare. Presentation IS everything!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

30 minute Valentine's Day meal: Bow Tie Pasta with Vodka Sauce and Chicken


"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating." ~Luciano Pavarotti

I can put an entire meal on the table is less than 30 minutes! You can do it too, and even for Valentine's Day!

Here's my Italian Cuisine menu:

Appetizer:Toasted Ravioli with sauce
Entree:Bow Tie Pasta with Vodka Sauce and Chicken
Side Dish:Buttered peas
Salad:Italian Salad
Bread:Garlic bread
Dessert: Angel Food Cake drizzled with Strawberry Sauce

Hungry yet?

Here we go!


Bow Tie Pasta with Vodka Sauce and Chicken

*1 pkg. skinless, boneless chicken strips from the meat dept.
*1 bag Bow-tie Pasta
*3 T. butter (NOT margarine- trust me, it's healthier than "plastic" margarine and tastes 10 times better)
*1 tsp. minced garlic (you can buy it already minced in a small jar)
*i jar VODKA Sauce
*Grated Parmesan cheese

Boil pasta according to pkg. directions.
While it boils...

Saute meat in butter and garlic till all pink is gone and meat is just a bit golden.
When pasta is done, drain and add cooked chicken . Pour jar of sauce over and stir so heat from pasta warms the sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan!
TA DA!


There's your main course. Now, the other dishes are what I call "cheater dishes".

Toasted Ravioli




Purchase a box of frozen ravioli and cook according to pkg. directions.
Serve with a jar of PIZZA sauce for dipping .(I like it better than Marinara for these.)

Sweet Peas with Butter

Drain 1 can sweet peas, put 1/4 stick butter on top and microwave for 3 minutes. Stir.

Garlic Bread
Purchase frozen garlic Texas toast. Add your own grated mozzarella if you like. Bake according to pkg. directions.


ITALIAN SALAD
Purchase a bag of pre-made Italian salad. Add chopped black olives from the can, drained, add a few cherry tomatoes, and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Angel Food Cake with strawberry Sauce



1 store-bought angel food cake.
1 container frozen strawberries, thawed.

Add sugar to taste to the berries, then drizzle over top of cake.


There you have it!

A delicious "optical illusion" of a nice dinner that didn't knock you out, but will knock the socks off your guests when they realize it only took a few minutes to prepare.

If they ask for the recipe, just tell them it's a secret. Then make your family swear to secrecy!

Come back each Friday for my FAST AND FURIOUS FRIDAY MENU!

*If you have a recipe you would like to share or a recipe you would like me to share, email me and I will feature it in a upcoming post.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Caramel topped Brownie Hearts for your Valentine




Last Valentine's Day, I made this very simple, but wonderful dessert for my husband. When I shared the photo on facebook, I had to laugh as the comments of others were praising me for my culinary efforts, when this was an EXTREMELY easy dish to prepare.

It begins with a BOXED brownie mix. (Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines are my choice).
*Prepare according to directions.

As soon as you take it out of the oven, poke holes over top with a fork. Drizzle choclate sauce and caramel sauce over top (Smucker's is a good brand....ROBERT ROTHSCHILD'S is even better, but pretty pricey).

Let stand at room temp.
Cut heart-shaped pieces with a cookie cutter.

Plate it, add vanilla ice cream then drizzle again with sauces for a nice presentation.

In the photo, you will see a chocolate-covered strawberry that I dipped, then added red sugar sprinkles and whipped cream.

Really- ANYONE can make this. EVERYONE will love it! Give it a try!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Easy Individual Trifles--perfect for your Valentine







This is so easy I hate to call it a recipe. It's more of an assembly of a few ingredients, but the end result is so nice, it looks impressive enough to serve to someone special.

You will need only four ingredients.

*Cake
*pudding
*Pie Filling or fruit
*Whipped Cream

You can choose any cake recipe you love as the base. I chose store- bought angel food cake, cut into cubes. A pound cake would also work well.

You may also choose your favorite pudding flavor. I chose vanilla and chocolate. I recommend the "cook and serve" packages.(Be certain to cool as directed in fridge) They have the best flavor. But instant pudding (just add cold milk and mix and refrigerate) is fine, and if you have no time, pre-packaged, ready-made will do (but would be my least recommended for this recipe).

Use your choice of canned pie filling. I chose cherry.Sliced strawberries would also go very well with chocolate or vanilla.

Top with whipped cream. (Or use Cool Whip.) For those of you who do not use whipped cream, once you do, that will be your favorite way to top any dessert. Cool Whip is fine, but whipped cream is AMAZING!

Serve in nice stemware for best presentation. (You can get stemware at THE DOLLAR TREE, DOLLAR GENERAL STORE or at thrift stores in your area.)


Enjoy!

Monday, January 16, 2012

THE best lasagna recipe


Take it from an Italian girl....you must try this recipe!

I love Italian food, but I would be the first to say that although I love pasta dishes (I serve them often at my house), lasagna has never been at the top of my list...until now!

I actually had two servings--two LARGE servings, and so did everyone else when I had a dinner party in my home. (So much for moderation....)




I served it again at an Italian buffet for nearly 30 people at my house on Christmas Eve and again...a big hit!



Although the recipe calls for a very long time to cook the sauce on low, you don't have to cook it that long (30-45 minutes would do), however, the longer it cooks, the more time for that delicious blend of spices to "get to know each other better"....

This makes a filling meal served with garlic bread and a salad.

YOU WILL NEED:

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information
Amount Per Serving Calories: 448 | Total Fat: 21.3g | Cholesterol: 84mg