Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Cranberry Jalapeno Dip- A Holiday Favorite

There's an old saying, "We eat with our eyes first."

I agree.  When I first saw this colorful appetizer, my eyes became hungry for it.

I love the festive red and green colors for the holidays. Just imagining the interesting flavor combos from the cranberries, jalapenos and green onions caused me to look up the recipe.

When I read the recipe and saw that sugar, lemon juice, and cilantro were also in this dip that was served over cream cheese, it piqued my interest even more.

I read many reviews before making it, and nearly every review stated that it was one of the best appetizers they had tried, and many had asked for the recipe when it was taken to parties.

So I decided to give it a try myself. 

I'm so glad I did!

It has a hint of sweetness, but only enough to balance the kick from the jalapenos and onion. The freshness of the cranberries, cilantro, green onions and the jalapenos is a nice contrast to the heavier dips and overly-processed seasonal treats.

This is not difficult to make, but the cranberries pretty much need to be  hand-chopped because a food processor will cause them to become too liquified. My nut chopper did not do a good job either, so I sat at my kitchen island and hand-chopped them, one by one while having a nice conversation with my husband.

The other point to remember is once it is prepared,  IT MUST SIT OVERNIGHT IN THE FRIDGE so all the tastes mix and mingle well. So  be sure to allow for that time.

To make this awesome dip, you will need: 
  • 2 tbsp  chopped Cilantro
  • 12 oz bag Cranberries, fresh
  • 1/4 cup Green onion, sliced
  • 1 fresh Jalapeno pepper, sliced 
  • 1 tbsp. Lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Sugar

  • *16 oz. WHIPPED cream cheese
  • *Crackers for dipping

Mix everything together EXCEPT cream cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and store in fridge overnight.

When ready to serve, drain in a colander. Spread over WHIPPED cream cheese.

Enjoy~ Everything in Moderation

Monday, November 12, 2018

Corn Dog Muffins (a re-post- popular recipe)

I have seen this recipe EVERYWHERE! I remember making a casserole similar to this when my sons were young, and they loved it. So I thought I'd give this version a try.

Guess what? It takes exactly like a corndog. Exactly. So if you (and especially your kids) like corndogs, these little muffins would make a great treat for lunch.

They also go well with chili too, as a side dish.

I guess, they could also be an appetizer.

The kids (of all ages) will love these. This would also be a good beginner recipe for kids to help make.
Corn Dog Muffins (24)

You will need:

* 2 (8.5 ounce) packages cornbread mix
* 2 tablespoons brown sugar
* 2 eggs
* 1 1/2 cups milk
* 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
* 9 hot dogs (*I cut mine in small rings)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease muffin tins.*I used cupcake liners instead.

2. Stir together the cornbread mix and the brown sugar in a large bowl. Whisk the eggs and milk in a small bowl until smooth. Fold the eggs and cheese into the dry mixture until moistened; then add the hotdogs. Spoon mixture into muffin tins until 2/3 full.

3. Bake in a preheated oven 14 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve with mustard and ketchup.

This made about 24 muffins. Sounds like a large amount, but they were gobbled up quickly. None were leftover!

NOTE: The average person will eat two of these. I, however, ate THREE, because I'm above average. 😊

Enjoy~ Everything in Moderation

A Turkey Two-fer (Two for one special)

Photo is from our classroom last year- our oven-roasted turkey, prepared by Mrs. Anita.

I love Thanksgiving turkey! I like it roasted, but I surprised myself when I prepared a turkey breast in the crockpot (for extra white meat for our large family) and it turned out so juicy and made the best gravy!

The crock pot version is  NOT pretty, so it is served sliced on a nice platter for best presentation.

I prepared them both using the same 2 special ingredients...BUTTER (never margarine) and a package of Good Season's Italian Seasoning Dressing Mix. It will not taste like "Italian turkey". Just trust me on this one.

Rub the butter on the skin of the turkey. Go ahead and put some pats under the skin, as well.  Next, rub with the dressing mix.

For the 3-4 lb. turkey breast in the crockpot:

 Place a stick of butter on bottom. Add 1/4 cup water, then the turkey. Cook on low about 3-4 hours for boneless, and 5-6 hours for a bone-in. (Meat thermometer should read 165 degrees internally when the meat is ready). If left in crockpot too long, it can fall apart when trying to serve, but the taste and juiciness is still wonderful. So check every hour if not ready at first temp. reading.

For the Oven-roasted version, (14-16 lb.)

 Be certain to thaw bird if frozen, according to package directions.  After properly preparing the bird, butter it all over and rub with dressing mix . Place in turkey bag and secure per bag directions. Cook about 3 1/2 hours in a pre-heated 325 degrees oven. Bake until a thermometer placed in the thickest part of chicken reads 170 degrees. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

With both styles of cooking, save juices to make the best gravy! For a good, basic gravy recipe, here's a link to follow from Betty Crocker.

You can do this!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Easy Italian Salad ( Popular recipe request)

I love salads. I do. I love healthy ones and also salads that have more fat and calories than a juicy cheeseburger. I don't judge them. I enjoy them.

I'll eat one as an appetizer before my meal.
I'll enjoy one as a side dish with my meal.
I'll devour one as the main entree when the mood strikes.

Salads are so versatile. They are also EASY to prepare--especially since you can purchase bags of pre-washed, ready-to-eat greens- even the organic varieties. I call it"lazy lettuce" since no washing, drying or chopping is necessary.

I also love the fact that you don't have to be very skilled in the kitchen to pull off a great salad recipe.
So, I want to give you a tip on a special salad I make that everyone always asks me for the recipe--and especially the dressing recipe. And it's a cheater version. Very simple. NOT from scratch, but who cares?

This salad can be served as a main entree for lunch (since it does have meat) or serve it as an appetizer or a side dish. Of course, it goes very well with any Italian main dish.

First, save yourself some time and purchase the bagged Italian blend. Then add your favorite vegetables. I won't pretend this salad is a healthy one, but you can omit the cheese and pepperoni and it would have less fat...but it won't taste as good. How you build your own salad is none of my business. No judgment here.

1 -2 bags Italian blend salad mix in a bag
1/2 can black olives, drained and sliced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup pepperoncini, drained and sliced
1 small pkg. pepperoni slices
1 red/green pepper, chopped
1-2 T. dried onion flakes (or use  rings of a sliced onion)
1-2 cloves minced garlic (or 1 tsp. of minced garlic in a jar)
chopped basil leaves or parsley--just a bit if dried (1 tsp.-1T.)
1/2 cup of shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup or more-shredded Parmesan cheese
*Other veggies of your choice
Artichokes hearts would also be very good

Empty bag of lettuce blend into a large bowl. Add your favorite veggies. Toss. Cover with plastic wrap till ready to serve.


Prepare one pkg. of Good Season's Italian Dressing mix according to pkg. directions (which includes vinegar-I use apple cider vinegar- and oil -I use olive oil).

Add about 1 T. white sugar (or a little more) and 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese. (This was a wonderful tip from my friend Gail who is a fabulous cook with all sorts of great ideas in the kitchen.) This tastes like a signature or House Salad at many fine dining restaurants. You can also add the sugar and Parmesan cheese to a bottle of prepared Italian dressing, like Wishbone.

Mix very well.

Right before serving, toss well with the salad. Sprinkle with more grated Parmesan on top. Serve with croutons or crusty bread.

You're welcome!

Enjoy! Everything in Moderation

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Sopranos Soup

I let my husband name this one because he went on and on about how good it was and he said no one would want to try something called, "Spinach Tortellini Soup". He said that name didn't do it justice.
He thought it needed a good Italian name...like, The Sopranos.

The soup was very good and filling, but not in the "Uh-oh, I just clogged another artery" sort of way. :)

Serve it with a nice salad and some breadsticks for a satisfying meal.

If you want to give it a whirl,


1 box tri-color cheese tortellini (or frozen tortellini)
1 bag (9-10 oz.) pre-washed leaf spinach
4 cans chicken broth
2 bouillon cubes (or  2 tsp. chicken granules)
1-2 carrots (thin slices)
5 pinches Good Season's Italian Seasoning mix
*Boiled chicken pieces (optional)-I added chicken because my husband wouldn't consider it a main dish without meat in it. But it can stand on its own without meat.)

Parmesan cheese and/or shredded mozzarella for topping off each serving


 Heat broth and bouillon and add spinach, carrots, boiled chicken and seasonings and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add tortellini and boil for 7 minutes, Serve with sprinkled Parmesan cheese and /or mozzarella on top.


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Restaurant Review: FLAME Grill--Bar, Carbondale, Il.

My husband and I were looking for a  place to enjoy a nice dinner in celebration of our 36th wedding anniversary. We live in southern Illinois which has many places to choose from, but we tend to go to the same places every year and chose instead to try a place we had yet to visit.

I put out a request for suggestions from locals on my EVERYTHING IN MODERATION facebook page as well as my husband's personal page, and we found many great reviews/suggestions on many places we have yet to try.

So, I decided to begin reviewing some new places as well as places we already love.

I'm starting with our dining experience at Flame.

Flame Grill-Bar  located  at 501 E. Walnut St. in Carbondale, Il., opened in 2012 and has quickly become one of the most popular fine dining places in our area. It is easy to find and there is plenty of parking.

*Photo from Trip Advisor

Upon entrance, we were greeted by our server who led us to a comfortable booth in an artsy, eclectic, yet classy dining room. Dim lighting and light music playing in the background created the perfect backdrop for a romantic dinner.

The dining area was very clean, and patrons were dressed nicely, but casually.

*Photo from Trip Advisor

Our server wasn't the friendliest- not very engaging- but was efficient. I do try to keep in mind that servers are individuals with unique personalities and also I have no idea what they are going through personally at the time we chose to come and dine, so with that in mind, our service was fine. She promptly took our orders and returned routinely for refills and to meet any other needs we had.

We did not have to wait long for any courses of our meal.

Our appetizer choice was the Classic Bruschetta and it was just delicious! The presentation was beautiful and unique. The price was $7.99 and there was plenty for both of us to enjoy.

*Photo from Trip Advisor

The perfect blend of flavors-- tomatoes, gorgonzola cheese crumbles, garlic, and balsamic vinegar to spoon onto the warm, crusty bread.

The entrees we chose were both steaks, but prepared differently. I  ordered the 12 oz. Grand Steer Top Sirloin.

 It was perfectly grilled with a crunchy outer sear while remaining tender and juicy inside--medium rare, just the way I  like it. I enjoyed the salty, but delicious seasoning and a generous serving size. My entree came with choice of potato and choice of salad or soup. I chose a Caesar Salad which was very good. Homemade croutons were a nice addition. The dressing was tasty and bold, so little was needed. I chose mashed potatoes as my side and was surprisingly disappointed. I LOVE mashed potatoes and just assumed they would also be great. I only ate a few bites of them. Something was off. Something more butter or salt couldn't remedy. My husband felt the same about his. I would recommend ordering the baked potato instead. My entree was $20.99 which included my steak, potatoes, and salad. It would have also included bread/butter (which I hear is delicious) but you must ask for it on the side-- no extra charge.

My husband ordered the Sirloin and Shrimp Asiago Steak. It was a 12 oz. grilled steak topped with grilled shrimp covered in a creamy Asiago cream sauce with grated Parmesan. He did not care for it. But I think it is just a taste preference, and no reflection on the chef. He took a chance on an unfamiliar combination of Asiago and seafood, and it so happened he didn't like that combo. He felt the cheese overpowered the dish. But again, just his preference, someone else may love that combination. His entree was $27.99 and also included a salad and potatoes. Bread would have also been included.

We were both too full for dessert and drank water and tea, so I can't review desserts or drink choices.

We visited on a Tuesday evening and it was busy enough for a weeknight. Reservations are not required, but I would suggest making them on a weekend or with larger parties. There is ample seating, however, always best to be prepared.

Dress was casual. You could come dressed up or casually dressed and would fit in nicely. This is a nice place to dine for a special occasion. Hours of operation are 11am-9pm Monday-Thursday. Friday and Saturday hours are 11am-10 pm. Closed on Sundays.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Atmosphere and bruschetta are worth a re-visit. Great steak. Good menu selections. Also different specials throughout the week.

Check out their website, or find them on facebook here.

Enjoy! ~Everything in Moderation.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Chicago-Style Hotdogs for Father's Day

This is another simple recipe that the kids can help put together for Dad--especially if he is a baseball fan. This little lunch consisted of the hotdogs, and peanuts (needed to get some Cracker Jacks), some chips, POWERADE for the beverage and a baseball cupcake and Baby Ruth candybar for dessert. I purchased the little picnic set at Wal-Mart, complete with condiment dispenser, hotdog basket and liners.

 Except for the cooking of the hotdog, the kids could help put this all together for Dad...and a great gift idea would be to throw in some tickets for a ballgame or purchase a t-shirt of his favorite team as I did. GO CARDINALS!

 I'm really not a hotdog lover, mainly because they are not healthy at all, so again, enjoy  in MODERATION. But trust me--you'll never eat a hotdog any other way again, once you taste this one!

The secret begins in the hotdog itself. DON'T be tempted to save a little $$ and buy the cheapest ones out there...BIG MISTAKE! Also, ALL-BEEF wieners are the way to go.  My favorite brand is this one:

Costs a bit more, but so worth it!

Boil water and then reduce heat and place dogs in to cook for 5 minutes, until done and remove.
Or go ahead and grill em up!

You begin building  with a poppyseed bun (for the traditional recipe--but I could not get my hands on a bag, here, so I had to go with the plain)

Add 1 T. yellow mustard.
1 T. sweet green relish (the brighter green , the better)
1 T. chopped onion
4 Tomato wedges
1 dill pickle spear
2 sport peppers *I didn't add them for my Dad
1 dash celery salt

You'll notice that no ketchup is on this dog...you won't miss it!