Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mom's Potato Salad

My mom's potato salad. YUM! This recipe has always been very vague. Mom knows what it is supposed to look and taste like...she doesn't need measurements. I tried to come up with the correct measurements, but as mom would say, 'dress and season to taste..'

3 lb. red potatoes, cubed
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
1/4-1/3 cup green olive juice
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1-2 tsp. dill weed
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Cook cubed potatoes in boiling water for 10-15 minutes, until just tender. Cool potatoes completely, then add onion and celery.

Add olive juice to mayonnaise until runny (about the consistency of ranch dressing). Add desired amounts of dill, onion powder and garlic powder. Pour mixture over cool potatoes and mix gently. Refrigerate to blend flavors.

Toffee Crackers

If these don't satisfy your sweet tooth, I don't know what will! I usually make them around Christmastime with my favorite cookie and candy recipes, but they are good at any time of the year.

1 column saltine crackers
1/2 cup white sugar
2 sticks butter (not margarine)
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
chopped nuts (optional)

Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil. Arrange the crackers in a single layer on the pan so that there are no empty spaces in between them.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add sugar and bring to a full boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Pour hot mixture over crackers. Bake at 350 degrees for 7 or 8 minutes (toffee will be bubbling). Keep a close eye on the crackers to make sure they do not burn!

Sprinkle chocolate chips over hot crackers and allow them to melt for 1 or 2 minutes. Then, using a knife, spread the melted chocolate like icing, covering all of the crackers. If desired, sprinkle with chopped nuts (I usually do half with nuts and half without).

Refrigerate to cool completely (at least 30 minutes), then break into pieces (by hand) and serve! Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week (I keep them in the fridge).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer Corn Fettuccine

Thanks to Rachael Ray, corn chowder meets fettuccine alfredo. Two suggestions. One, go easy on the thyme. And two, if you're not feeding an army, make sure to cut this recipe in half (but keep the 6 slices of bacon)!

1 pound fettuccine pasta
EVOO, for drizzling
6 slices smoky bacon, chopped
6 ears corn on the cob, shucked
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup half-and-half or cream
1/2 cup chicken stock or dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
A few dashes hot sauce or 1 or 2 pinches cayenne pepper
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup torn sweet basil leaves or 1/4 cup chopped tarragon leaves

Bring a large pot of water to boil over medium heat. Salt the water, add the pasta and cook to al dente.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet with a drizzle of EVOO over medium to medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook a few minutes until rendered and crisp.

Carefully, using a sharp knife, cut the corn from the cobs. Add 3/4 of the corn and any corn liquid to the pan with the bacon. Add the shallots and red pepper and liberally season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until the vegetables are tender, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add the remaining corn and half-and-half to a food processor and puree until smooth.

Pour the stock or wine into the corn and vegetables, and simmer over low heat for a minute to reduce. Stir in the thyme and corn-cream mixture and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, to thicken. Add the hot sauce or cayenne and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Drain the pasta and add it to a large serving bowl. Pour in the sauce, add a couple of handfuls of cheese, about 1/2 cup and toss. Top with torn basil or chopped tarragon and pass the remaining cheese at the table.

Cheeseburger Soup

Yummy soup...perfect for any time of the year! Serve with crusty bread and salad. Recipe courtesy of my sister-in-law, Kara Kipe.

1/2 lb. ground beef
3/4 cup carrot, chopped
3/4 cup onion, chopped
3/4 cup celery, chopped
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. parsley
4 Tbsp. butter
3 cups chicken broth
4 cups potatoes, peeled & diced
1/4 cup flour
8 oz. American cheese
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup sour cream

Brown beef and drain. Saute onion, carrot, celery, basil and parsley in 1 Tbsp. butter. Add broth, potatoes and beef. Boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender.

Melt 3 Tbsp. butter; add flour. Add butter/flour mixture to soup and bring to a boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes. Reduce to low; add cheese, milk, salt and pepper. Cook until the cheese melts.

Remove from heat and blend in sour cream.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cool Cucumber Salsa & Homemade Tortilla Chips

I absolutely LOVE this recipe because it uses SIX (yes, 6!) ingredients from my garden (cucs, tomatoes, green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, parsley & cilantro!) A few years ago, I led a food demonstration at Ag Progress Days in State College, PA for Penn State Cooperative Extension. My goal was to show-case fresh, local, summer vegetables. I chose to make this salsa was perfect! I also made homemade chips to go along with it. SO easy and SO tasty. Recipes lightly adapted from

Ingredients - Salsa
2 medium cucumbers - peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 medium tomatoes, seeded & chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded & minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. fresh parsley, minced
2 tsp. fresh cilantro, minced
1/2 tsp. dried dill weed
1/2 tsp. salt

Directions - Salsa
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve with homemade tortilla chips. Makes about 12 servings (4 cups).

*Helpful tip for seeding cucumbers and tomatoes: use a melon baller!
*Always use disposable gloves when handling jalapenos.

Ingredients - Chips
12 6-inch corn tortillas
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chili powder (optional)

Directions - Chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each tortilla into 8 wedges. Spread out in a single layer on cookie sheets. Brush with oil. Sprinkle with salt and chili powder. Bake 12-15 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets halfway through. Chips will be lightly brown when done.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cucumber and Onion Salad

Well, my garden has really taken off - especially the cucumbers! Time to pull out all of my cucumber recipes (or lack there-of). Cucumber and onion salad has always been one of my summer favorites...and it's another mom recipe :) Stay tuned for cucumber post #2...Cool Cucumber Salsa with Homemade Tortilla Chips.

3 medium cucumbers, mostly peeled
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup dairy sour cream or plain yogurt
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. white vinegar

Thinly slice cucumbers; add salt. Toss and place in refrigerator for 1 hour (this draws out the water).

Rinse well and drain cucumbers; add onion. Blend sour cream (or yogurt), sugar, and vinegar until smooth. Pour dressing over cucumbers and onion. Toss and chill for 4 hours. Serve cold. Makes 8 servings.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Baja Chicken Taco Pizza

I posted our favorite pizza recipe a few months It's so good that I never even think about making any other kind! But, I was looking through this month's Simple & Delicious magazine, and this pizza recipe looked so yummy, I had to try it! Let's just say, I'll be making it again...and soon! I used spicy ranch instead of regular ranch dressing, used homemade taco seasoning instead of store-bought, and I skipped out on the lettuce. Try'll like it!

1 cup ranch salad dressing (or spicy ranch)
1/4 cup salsa
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
3 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, minced
2 cups cubed, cooked chicken breast
1 envelope taco seasoning (or make your here.)
1 pre-baked 12-in. thin pizza crust (to save favorite is Boboli)
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 cups shredded lettuce (I didn't use it..)
2 medium ripe avocados, peeled and thinly sliced (optional)

In a blender or food processor, combine the salad dressing, salsa, lime juice and cilantro. Cover and process on high for 1-2 minutes or until smooth; set aside. In a small bowl, combine chicken and taco seasoning; set aside.

Place crust on ungreased 12-inch pizza pan. Spread salsa mixture over crust. Sprinkle with the chicken mixture, tomatoes, onion and cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 17-20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Sprinkle with lettuce; top with avocado slices. Serve immediately.

Slow Cooker Hot Fudge Cake

I'm sorry to say that there is nothing healthy about this recipe...but that's okay! I usually don't make a dessert when it's just the two of us, but sometimes you have to treat yourself! Last night we stayed in, watched X-Files on Netflix (yes, we're dorks..) and ate Baja Chicken Taco Pizza and Hot Fudge Cake. Does it get any better than that? :) Recipe courtesy of the Fix it & Forget it cookbook.

1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup flour
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cup boiling water
Vanilla ice cream

Mix together 1 cup brown sugar, flour, 3 Tbsp. cocoa, baking powder, and salt.

Stir in milk, butter, and vanilla. Spread over the bottom of slow cooker.

Mix together 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa. Sprinkle over mixture in slow cooker.

Pour in boiling water. Do not stir.

Cover and cook on high 2-3 hours, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mom's Best Salmon

Not a fish lover? I dare you to try this one (unless you're allergic)! And, c'mon...salmon is a SUPERFOOD! This fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids (your heart-happy fat), a prime source of protein, AND contains vitamins A and B!

Nick and I have tried many salmon recipes...broiled, grilled, baked, sweet, and savory. Our favorite recipe remains. My mom's salmon recipe. It's so simple, but no other recipe compares. McCormick used to make a spice called, 'It's a Dilly' mom's go-to spice blend for her salmon and potato salad. Sadly, the spice has been discontinued, but we were able to come up with our own recipe for the spice mixture...and it tastes very similar. Thanks, Mom :)

TWO superfoods on a plate..salmon and edamame. Yum!
Ingredients (2 servings)
2 salmon steaks/filets, fresh or frozen (thawed)
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
'It's a Dilly' seasoning (I usually use about 2 teaspoons...see recipe below)
Lemon juice (a few squeezes of a lemon)
Optional Candied-Pecan Topping (see recipe below)

It's a Dilly Seasoning
1/2 cup dried dill weed (not seeds)
1/2 cup dried minced onion (not powder)
1/3 cup dried parsley
1/4 cup dried basil
1/4 cup dried tarragon
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried lemon peel (optional)
* This makes a lot! Store in an air-tight container and use a little at a time (salmon recipe calls for about 2 teaspoons). Great on chicken, fish and salads!

Candied-Pecan Topping for Salmon (2 servings)
Melt 2 Tablespoons butter or margarine in a small pan. Add 1/4 cup chopped pecans and saute slightly. Add about a tablespoon of brown sugar and a dash of nutmeg. Stir for about a minute over medium heat. Keep watching so it doesn't burn.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking dish with foil for easy clean-up. Lightly spray foil with non-stick cooking spray.

Place salmon, skin-side down, in baking dish. Drizzle salmon with melted butter. Sprinkle salmon with desired amount of 'It's a Dilly' seasoning. Squeeze a little lemon juice over fish.

Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the salmon begins to 'render' it's fat (the white stuff) and the fish flakes easily. Add pecan topping, if desired. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Philly Cheese Steak Sloppy Joes

I'm not from Philly, but I do enjoy a good cheese steak. Rachael compares this recipe to real-deal Philadelphia cheese steaks. I wouldn't go that far, but they were quite tasty! I did make a few changes. I decreased the amount of steak sauce and beef stock because the mixture was a little too soupy for me (and it had a distinct A1 flavor). Served these sandwiches with Zucchini Fries! Makes 4 servings.

1 pound ground sirloin
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. steak sauce
2/3 cup beef stock
Salt and pepper
4 kaiser rolls
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
1 cup provolone, shredded

Pre-heat the broiler.

In large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground meat, about 5-6 minutes. Add the onion and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the onion starts to get tender. Stir in the steak sauce and beef stock, season with salt and pepper, bring up to a bubble and cook for about 2 minutes.

Split open the rolls and toast them under the broiler, keeping an eye on them so that they don't burn!

While the meat is cooking, melt the butter in a medium size skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, then bring up to a bubble and let thicken, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese in a figure-eight motion until it is all incorporated.

To serve, place a scoopful of the meat mixture onto the bottom of the rolls, then top with the cheese sauce.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Simply Seasoned Chicken

I'm back! We had a wonderful time in the AZ and San Diego. We're just getting back in the swing of things after being gone, so I wanted to make something quick and easy tonight! The name of this recipe is right on. Simple and seasoned. A no-fuss meal that tastes great. Recipe courtesy of Simple & Delicious of my new favorites! Makes 2 servings.

2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (5 oz. each)
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs (I used seasoned Panko)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 Tbsp. butter

Flatten chicken to 1/4-inch thickness. In a shallow bowl, combine mustard and honey. In another shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs and seasonings. Dip chicken in mustard mixture, then coat with crumb mixture.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook chicken in oil and butter for 5-6 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Chicken with Creamy Chive Sauce

One of our favorite slow-cooker recipes! I serve this tender chicken and yummy sauce over pasta & make some kind of vegetable or salad to go with it. Recipe courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens.

6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1-1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup butter
1 0.7-ounce package Italian salad dressing mix
1 10-3/4-ounce can condensed golden mushroom soup
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 of an 8-ounce tub cream cheese with chives and onion
Hot cooked whole wheat pasta

Snipped fresh chives (for garnish)

Place chicken in a 3-1/2 or 4-quart slow cooker. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the dry Italian salad dressing mix. Stir in mushroom soup, wine, and cream cheese until combined. Pour over the chicken.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours. Serve chicken with sauce. If desired, serve with hot cooked pasta and sprinkle with chives. Makes 6 servings.