5/30/09

Spiked Lemonade

We've been on a summer margarita kick for the past couple weeks but this one is just too good and too popular of a drink to not include; Spiked Lemonade! Always a favorite for adults at backyard bbq's or poolside it's cold, refreshing and flavorful while providing a little 'kick'.


Spiked Lemonade

2 cups lemon-flavored sparkling water or club soda, chilled
1/2 cup citrus-flavored vodka, chilled
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange liqueur
Ice, crushed
Garnish- lemon slices

Mix everything but the ice and lemon slices in a large pitcher. Serve over crushed ice. Garnish each serving with a lemon slice, if desired.
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5/29/09

Lower Fat Lemon Bars



Well today we have another yummy 'summer' dessert bar but this one is a tiny bit healthier with egg substitute and low fat sour cream. Every little bit helps, right? I think lemon bars are perfect for a warm summer evening meal, a garden party or tea with a good friend. They've been made for the past 100 (200?) years and are a favorite of so many you absolutely must make them in one form or another! This one is for those of you who want to cut a few fat grams and calories where you can.


Lower Fat Lemon Bars

1 yellow cake mix
3/4 cup liquid egg substitute
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup water
15 oz. ricotta cheese
8 oz. non-fat sour cream
3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
powdered sugar to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with nonstick spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, egg substitute, oil, lemon juice and water. Pour into prepared pan. In another mixing bowl, whisk together ricotta cheese, sour cream, eggs, sugar and lemon zest. Pour over batter in pan. Bake 55-65 minutes until browned around the edges. Cool 4 hours in refrigerator. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
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5/28/09

Margarita's with... cucumber??

Reading through my emails I saw the latest e-newsletter from one of my favorite sites and a special section on great summer drinks. Since my husband and I rarely drink, when we entertain we are sadly naive when it comes to 'fun' drinks to serve. When I saw the name of this drink I had a brief second of "oh, ew? Really?" followed by interest and I admit, I'm intrigued! See if you are; Cucumber Margarita's.

I know!!!

Crazy isn't it? This one is from Coastal Living, back in September of 2005 but by golly I was surely going to copy it down to my collections to make this summer. What do you think?






Cucumber Margarita
Makes 4 servings

12 slices fresh cucumber
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
4 ounces (1/2 cup) Cointreau
6 ounces (3/4 cup) tequila reposado
6 cups ice
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
Lime slices

Combine cucumber and next 4 ingredients in a blender; process until smooth. Pour into glasses. Top each serving with a tablespoon of Grand Marnier, and garnish with lime.
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5/26/09

Making My Daughter's Personalized Cookies

Yesterday the USA celebrated Memorial Day and like many, I managed to get the day off from work as we were closed. My husband however was working, as was my son. My two daughters were both gone for the day. Me? I decided to tackle the personalized cookies I am making for my oldest daughter's High School Graduation Reception being held this weekend.

Always one to be frugal, I refused to spend upwards of $400 or more to order 150 - 200 pre-made, personalized cookies. I knew in my head what I wanted. I just had to find an affordable way to do it. Searching for affordable food-quality frosting images online I found the average cost for a sheet of 20 - 2" images, already cut into circles would run about $20-40. Even if I only ordered 140-160 cookie images it would be almost $300. Finally I tracked down an edible image printer that sold sheets of images uncut for about $6 per sheet.

On Friday I sat and carefully cut out 140 small circle images. Yesterday I whipped up a batch (ok, 4 batches) of one of my favorite non-spreading cookie dough recipes and baked about 175 cookies.

Using a simple but delicious glaze I dipped the tops and applied one of the edible images while it was still wet.



I found I could glaze about 8 cookies and quickly attach images before the glaze started to set up. Dipping about 6-8 at a time helped it go quickly.


In the end I had 140 personalized cookies. Since I had about 40 cookies left over I wished I had ordered a couple more sheets of images!!

If I had ordered these cookies made for me they averaged about $2.00 - $3.00 per cookie on the internet. By making them myself my only real investment was just over $50 for the images and the cost of a little flour, sugar and butter.
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5/25/09

Tomatillos in a Green Sauce

When I was a small child I sometimes played with a girl who lived about 3 blocks away from me named Jeanne. By the time were about 11 years old we drifted apart due to interests and our circle of friends but I have flashbacks of many memories at her house including learning a sing-song rhyme about bed bugs, playing Neil Diamond (her older teen brothers favorite) albums on her living room stereo and.... tomatillos. I distinctly remember walking down dirt aisles in their backyard garden and picking and later husking little tomatillos for her mother. My family didn't grow nor eat them but they were the most interesting little fruit/vegetable to me and Jeanne called them little tomatoes or green tomatoes. Of course now that I'm older I know they are not green tomatoes, but they pair well with them in green sauces and salsas!

Here is a delicious green sauce to make and add to your Mexican meals or with tortilla chips. Although you probably won't have a problem using it up, please do so within about a week.

Green Sauce

2 1/2 lbs. green tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 lbs. tomatillos, husked and coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 to 1 c sugar
1 c white vinegar
1 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 T dry mustard
1/2 t dried crushed red pepper
1 t salt


Cook all ingredients in a large stockpot over medium-low heat 2 hours or until tomatoes and tomatillos are tender. Cool. Process green tomato mixture, in batches, in a food processor or blender until smooth.
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5/23/09

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cake Mix Cookies

Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies

My kids, like most, love cookies. However, not having the time or sometimes just not feeling like whipping up the dough with the mess of four, sugar, butter, etc. that goes into them means that I either had to start buying store-bought cookie dough (yuck - don't usually like the taste) or find another way of providing quick and easy cookies. Since my kids and I love the taste of cake mixes (yes, I've been known to eat the dry mix from the box or just mix a little with water and eat a couple spoons of the batter!) discovering 'cake mix cookies' a few years ago was a good thing for us.

Since then we regularly make chocolate, white and lemon cookies as they are so easy, quick and delicious. This is one for peanut butter chocolate chip cookies - not a favorite of mine as I'm not a fan of peanut butter but everyone else seems to love it!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cake Mix Cookies

1 box dry yellow cake mix
1 c peanut butter
2 eggs
1/4 c oil
1/3 c water
1 package chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients together then drop by spoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.
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Tomatoes and Onions Drizzled with Olive Oil and Vinegar

Almost every woman from the age of 20 on up to Great-Grandma that I know makes this 'salad' in one way, shape or form. No recipe needed and typically none used but sometimes you have to see it in print to 'remind' you of how fresh and well, heavenly this dish is on a warm summer night! The best produce to use is straight from your garden but a farmer's market or yes, even the grocery store will do. The flavor? Terrific. The ease of preparation? You can't beat it!

Basically just drizzle fresh sliced tomatoes and onions with balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil, followed by a sprinkle of salt, pepper, sugar and fresh basil. If you are brand new to this 'recipe' (cough cough) then this written version I found at Southern Living will get you started.

Tomatoes and Onions Drizzled with Olive Oil and Vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 medium-size sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil


Whisk together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Arrange tomato and onion slices in rows in a serving dish. Sprinkle with chopped basil, and drizzle evenly with marinade. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours. Serve with a slotted spoon.
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5/22/09

May 21st Ground Beef Recall

All over the country we are firing up the grills and enjoying burgers so it's only fitting the government announces a huge recall of ground beef. Unfortunately because of E Coli complications, small children, the elderly and people with suppressed immune systems can have serious heath risks and even death if they consume under-cooked contaminated meat.

You can kill off E. Coli by cooking but the government has issued a recall on meat from an Illinois plant that you can return if you find your brand and/or label is part of the recall. Here is a copy of the list from the government's website.

The products subject to recall include: [View Labels, PDF Only, 1.7mb]

3S Brand Products:
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 40 (4-1) "KEEP FROZEN 3/S 100% GROUND BEEF PATTY." Each package bears the identifying case code "95554."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 60 (6-1) "KEEP FROZEN 3/S 100% GROUND BEEF PATTY." Each package bears the identifying case code "95556."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 30 (3-1) "KEEP FROZEN 3/S CHOPPED BEEF SIRLOIN STEAK BURGER." Each package bears the identifying case code "95573."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 40 (4-1) "KEEP FROZEN 3/S CHOPPED BEEF SIRLOIN STEAK BURGER." Each package bears the identifying case code "95574."

Grillmaster Brand Products:
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 100 (10-1) "KEEP FROZEN GRILL MASTER 100% GROUND BEEF PATTY." Each case can be identified by the case code "95588."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 20 (2-1) "KEEP FROZEN GRILL MASTER 100% GROUND BEEF PATTY." Each case can be identified by the case code "95500."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 30 (3-1) "KEEP FROZEN GRILL MASTER 100% GROUND BEEF PATTY." Each case can be identified by the case code "95502."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 40 (4-1) "KEEP FROZEN GRILL MASTER 100% GROUND BEEF PATTY." The cases can be identified by the case codes "95504" and "95505."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 50 (5-1) "KEEP FROZEN GRILL MASTER 100% GROUND BEEF PATTY." Each case can be identified by the case code "95508."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 60 (6-1) "KEEP FROZEN GRILL MASTER 100% GROUND BEEF PATTY." Each case can be identified by the case code "95509."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 40 (4-1) "KEEP FROZEN GRILL MASTER BEEF PATTIE." Each case can be identified by the case code "95512."

J & B Brand Products:
  • 10.5 pound cases containing a total of 28, 6-ounce "KEEP FROZEN BEEF HOAGIE PATTIE." Each package bears the identifying case code "51706."
  • 10.5 pound cases containing a total of 14, 12-ounce "KEEP FROZEN BEEF DINNER PATTIE." Each package bears the identifying case code "51312."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 30 (3-1) "KEEP FROZEN TENDERKNIT BEEF STEAK CHOPPED AND FORMED." Each package bears the identifying case code "11028."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 40 (4-1) "TENDERKNIT BEEF STEAK CHOPPED AND FORMED." Each package bears the identifying case code "11024."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 10 (4-1) "KEEP FROZEN TENDERKNIT VEAL LUNCHEON CHOPPED AND FORMED." Each package bears the identifying case code "13014."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 40 (4-1) "KEEP FROZEN SEASONED GROUND BEEF PATTIE." Each package bears the identifying case code "11384BR."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 40 packages (4-1) "KEEP FROZEN BEEF STEAK BURGER." Each package bears the identifying case code "J1004."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 30 (3-1) "KEEP FROZEN FLAVOR BURST BEEF PATTIE." Each package bears the identifying case code "51803."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 40 (4-1) "KEEP FROZEN FLAVOR BURST BEEF PATTIE." Each package bears the identifying case code "51804."

Klub Brand Products:
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 20 (2-1) "KEEP FROZEN KLUB GROUND BEEF STEAK." Each case can be identified by the case code "95565."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 30 (3-1) "KEEP FROZEN KLUB GROUND BEEF STEAK." Each case can be identified by the case code "95567."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 40 (4-1) "KEEP FROZEN KLUB GROUND BEEF STEAK." Each case can be identified by the case code "95568."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 20 (2-1) "KEEP FROZEN KLUB HOMESTYLE GROUND BEEF STEAK." Each case can be identified by the case code "95583."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 30 (3-1) "KEEP FROZEN KLUB HOMESTYLE GROUND BEEF STEAK." Each case can be identified by the case code "95584."

Thick 'N Savory Brand Products:
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 20 (2-1) "KEEP FROZEN THICK 'N SAVORY SEASONED BEEF PATTY." Each case can be identified by the case code "95579."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 30 (3-1) "KEEP FROZEN THICK 'N SAVORY SEASONED BEEF PATTY." Each case can be identified by the case code "95580."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 40 (4-1) "KEEP FROZEN THICK 'N SAVORY SEASONED BEEF PATTY." Each case can be identified by the case code "95581."

Ultimate Brand Products:
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 20 (2-1) "KEEP FROZEN ULTIMATE BURGER CHOPPED BEEF STEAK." Each case can be identified by the case code "1012CL."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 30 (3-1) "KEEP FROZEN ULTIMATE BURGER CHOPPED BEEF STEAK." Each case can be identified by the case code "1013CL."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 40 (4-1) "KEEP FROZEN ULTIMATE BURGER CHOPPED BEEF STEAK." Each case can be identified by the case code "1014CL."

Products with No Specified Name Brand:
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 20 (2-1) "KEEP FROZEN ULTIMATE BURGER CHOPPED BEEF STEAK." Each case bears the case code "50123."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 30 (3-1) "KEEP FROZEN ULTIMATE BURGER CHOPPED BEEF STEAK." Each case bears the case code "50125."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 40 (4-1) "KEEP FROZEN ULTIMATE BURGER CHOPPED BEEF STEAK." Each case bears the case code "50127."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 30 (3-1) "KEEP FROZEN PURE BEEF PATTIE HEARTY HOMESTYLE." Each case bears the case code "3253."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 40 (4-1) "KEEP FROZEN PURE BEEF PATTIE HEARTY HOMESTYLE." Each case bears the case code "3254."
  • 10-pound cases containing a total of 50 (5-1) "KEEP FROZEN PURE BEEF PATTIE HEARTY HOMESTYLE." Each case bears the case code "3255."
  • 24.75-pound cases containing a total of 144 "KEEP RERIGERATED GROUND BEEF PATTY." Each case can be identified by the case code "8218."
  • 20-pound cases containing a total of 4 (4 X 5) "KEEP REFRIGERATED GROUND BEEF." Each package bears the identifying case code "8020EC."
  • 40-pound cases containing a total of 8 (8 X 5) "KEEP REFRIGERATED GROUND BEEF." Each package bears the identifying case code "8020VP."
  • 20-pound cases containing a total of 4 (4 X 5) "KEEP REFRIGERATED GROUND BEEF." Each package bears the identifying case code "8515."
  • 20-pound cases containing a total of 4 (4 X 5) "KEEP FROZEN GROUND BEEF." Each package bears the identifying case code "8020ECF."
  • 20-pound cases containing a total of 4 (4 X 5) "KEEP FROZEN GROUND BEEF." Each package bears the identifying case code "10201."
  • 20-pound cases containing a total of 4 (4 X 5) "KEEP FROZEN GROUND MEAT." Each package bears the identifying case code "10301."

Additionally, each product bears the establishment number "EST. 5712" inside the USDA mark of inspection. The (2-1), (3-1), (4-1), (5-1) and (6-1) markings refer to the number of portions per one-pound.

These ground beef products were produced on March 10, 2009, and were distributed to various consignees nationwide.

For more information you can visit the government's website here.
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Summer Nights Call for Cole Slaw

For those of you who weren't reading my recipe website back in 2006 and 2007 you missed an amazing cole slaw recipe that I consider hands-down the best ever. Now that the warm weather is upon us and summer nights will involved delicious grilled meals and cool side dishes it's time to dig out the salad recipes again. This one is great with everything from fried chicken to hamburgers, to pulled bbq pork to fried fish! There is very little this won't match for a great dinner.


Cole Slaw

2 (10-ounce) packages finely shredded cabbage
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar

Combine cabbage and carrot in a large bowl. Whisk together sugar and next 7 ingredients until blended; toss with vegetables. Cover and chill at least 2 hours.
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5/20/09

Baked Beans

Oh Southern Living... how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

While my family (and I) love love love my own baked beans that I whip up (without a recipe) I use pork and beans, sometimes chili beans too, along with bacon, onion, a little ketchup, mustard, sometimes a few drops of smoked hickory flavoring and always a heap of brown sugar... this recipe (which I think is from Southern Living) is so very similar but instead of the brown sugar they used root beer!

How about planning a bbq in your own back yard and just to make sure you have some root beer to add to the baked beans, I think Root Beer Floats need to be on the menu for dessert! *grin*

Baked Beans... with Root Beer Instead of Brown Sugar!

3 bacon slices
1 small onion, diced
2 (16-ounce) cans pork and beans
1/2 cup regular root beer
1/4 cup hickory-smoked barbecue sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon hot sauce


Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp; remove and drain on paper towels, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon.

Sauté diced onion in hot bacon drippings in skillet over high heat 5 minutes or until tender. Stir together onion, crumbled bacon, beans, and remaining ingredients in a lightly greased 1-quart baking dish. Bake beans, uncovered, at 400° for 55 minutes or until sauce is thickened.
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5/16/09

Homemade Jalapeno Popper Style Cheese Balls

As I opened my recipe files to update today's article on the website my eyes fell on the amazing cheese balls we had earlier this week... it just so happens that I made them because I was trying to copy an appetizer we had while on vacation. I did manage to 'invent' and by trial and error, copy the oh-so-delicious cheese balls we had while at the beach.

Creamy and filled with cheese you can adjust the amount of jalapeno's used to suit your family's preferences or can adapt it to a cheese and bacon or just a delicious simple cheese ball if you prefer. I'm excited to have made these as the possibilities for adaptation are endless!

This is the photo I took at the restaurant to try to 'copy' when I got home


Homemade Jalapeno Cheese Balls


Play with the ingredients in this recipe. Use different cheeses, leave out the jalapeno, add crumbled bacon, add extra jalapeno, some chipolte, use only cheese but mix in smoked provolone, smoked gouda and cheddar, add chopped shrimp, crab or lobster to make a seafood ball... the possibilities are endless!

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) real butter
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 c flour
1 c milk
1 c mozzarella, shredded
1/2 c cheddar, shredded
2 small jalapenos, chopped fine
1/2 c flour, extra for tossing with the cheese
oil for frying



Combine the shredded cheese and extra flour in a bowl. Set aside.


Heat the butter in a saucepan, add green onions, cook briefly until soft and add the flour. Whisk until bubbling, stir in milk and heat until it thickens.

Combine the flour/milk mixture with the cheeses in a bowl. Stir until blended and let cool.


Flour your hands and form the mixture into small balls - we liked to use about 1 tablespoon of mixture but you can make them the size you want.

If made tiny you can make about 40 balls from this recipe. Larger, we got about 25 or so.

When all the balls are formed, heat your oil. Deep fry the cheese balls in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.
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5/13/09

Strawberry Shortcake Biscuits - Delicious!



About 15 years ago I started to make strawberry shortcake biscuits the 'cheater' way - by using the Grand Style canned biscuits, dipping the bottom and tops in sugar and baking. Considering we had this particular dessert about once or twice a year it worked fine and with three kids under the age of 5 it was perfect for a busy Mom. However... I didn't care for them.

I prefer all my biscuits homemade and my dessert biscuits are no different. I've posted my favorite Southern Style Biscuit recipe on my website here (in the July 2006 archives) and this week I started with that favorite recipe, built on it and came up with the most delicious, fresh, homemade strawberry shortcake biscuits. Delicious!

An American Housewife's Strawberry Shortcake Biscuits

2 c flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 c butter, cold
3 heaping T sugar
3/4 c milk or cream
1/4 c sour cream
1 t vanilla
1 T sugar for tops

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt. (I do this by putting them into the mixing bowl and whisking them briefly). Add the butter by pinching and breaking off bits of it with your fingers. Cut in with your fingers until crumbly. Add milk, vanilla and sour cream. Stir with a fork until it starts to come together as a dough. Turn to a floured surface, pat into a rectangle and cut with biscuit cutters. Do not twist as this seals the edges and they will not raise. Cut straight down. Place on parchment or ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Spray the tops with a Pam style spray or brush with a little melted butter and sprinkle with sugar immediate after removing from oven. Serve warm or cool with whipped cream and sweetened strawberries.
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5/12/09

We're Grilling Tonight - What Shall I Serve with It?

Even though my friends in Texas and Arizona have been enjoying warm weather for about 3 months now, it's just starting to come to my little corner of the world and boy am I ready to welcome it! With the warm weather also comes some delicious grilled (barbecued some of my might readers might say, depending on where they reside) meals.

With as much grilling as you're likely to do you'll soon find yourself asking; "What can I make with it?" as you quickly tired of the 'same old same old' you always make. So, since I'm getting ready to throw a few steaks on the grill myself, I'm going to brainstorm some ideas. Recipes can be searched for in the search box to your right, in the sidebar. Not only my site, but the entire world wide web if you please.


Deviled Eggs
Marinated Tomatoes and Mozzarella Cheese
Coleslaw
Watermelon and other fruit salads
Potato Salad
Hush Puppies
Baked Beans
Spinach and Strawberry Salad
5 Bean Salad
Pasta alfredo's
Ranch Pasta Salad
Steamed veggies with a little butter, salt and pepper
Chef Salad
7 Layer Salad
Baked Potatoes
Grilled Vegetable Medley (Grilled Squash is amazing!)
Sauteed onions and mushrooms
Carrot Casserole
Rice side dishes
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Shrimp Tacos



The spicy shrimp and Southwestern sauce on this is really just a yummy shrimp salad served in a flour tortilla instead of a bowl.















Shrimp Tacos

2 lbs. large raw shrimp
20 (12-inch-long) skewers
2 T Emeril's Southwest Seasoning
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 c lime juice
3 T lemon juice
16 (8-inch) soft taco-size flour tortillas, warmed
1 head iceberg lettuce, finely shredded
1 head radicchio, finely shredded
Southwestern Sauce
fresh cilantro leaves
Salsa


Southwestern Sauce: Whisk together 1 (16-oz.) container sour cream; 1 garlic clove, minced; 2 Tbsp. finely chopped red onion; 1 tsp. chili powder; 1/2 tsp. ground cumin; 1/2 tsp. ground red pepper; and 1/4 tsp. salt. Whisk in 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro and 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice until smooth. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Makes about 2 cups.

Peel and devein the shrimp. I suggest buying the 'EZ peel' style which are peeled and deveined except the tail, which you can pinch and twist easily to clean. Thread shrimp onto skewers.

Preheat grill to 350° to 400° . Combine seasoning and garlic in a long shallow dish; add lime juice, lemon juice, and shrimp, turning to coat. Cover and chill 10 minutes. Remove shrimp from marinade, discard the marinade.

Grill shrimp, without grill lid, 2 to 3 minutes on each side or just until shrimp turn pink. Remove shrimp from skewers. Serve in warm tortillas topped with lettuces, a creamy Southwestern sauce and some cilantro for garnish. Serve with salsa on the side.
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5/11/09

White Sangria with soda and wine

Because I don't typically care for alcoholic drinks there are many drinks, cocktails, punches, etc. that may be quite popular that I've never heard of nor had. One of those 'very popular' drinks is something I finally had for the first time about 6 years ago: Sangria. A light fruity punch that was served at a ladies 'house party'. I enjoyed the red sangria more so than the wine being served and my interest was piqued. Since then I've made it a couple times as well as keeping my eye out for versions I liked better... white sangria's fit the bill. One of my favorites is for a peach white sangria, but when I saw this one that used white wine, strawberries, oranges and orange liqueur as well as carbonated lemon-lime soda I knew it would be a winner.

Add this to your files for later this summer! Cool and refreshing to serve on a warm summer evening... worth adding to your collection!


White Sangria

1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 c water
2 (750-milliliter) bottles dry white wine
3/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup orange liqueur
2 to 3 cups 7-up, Sprite, etc. chilled
2 lemons, thinly sliced
2 limes, thinly sliced
2 oranges, thinly sliced
1 pint fresh strawberries, thinly sliced

To make the simple sugar syrup, bring sugar and 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and let stand 10 minutes.

Combine sugar syrup, white wine, mint leaves and orange liqueur in a large container; cover and refrigerate 4 hours. Stir in soda and the fruit just before serving. Serve over ice, if desired.
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5/7/09

Chicken Enchiladas

You can never have too many chicken enchilada recipes on hand!!

The one I've posted before and typically throw together at the last minute is a popular one that uses canned soup. This one is a little different, a little fresher and oh-so-yummy.

How easy is this!? If you are working and have a child or spouse at home they could throw this together in a heartbeat and pop it into the oven at 5:30 in time for you to get home at 6:00 and with just a few finishing touches have a delicious meal on the table within 10 minutes of walking in the door. Tuck it away into your files like I did... I think this one comes from my all-time favorite; southern living (although I have no idea when it might have originally be published).


Chicken Enchiladas


* 3 cups chopped cooked chicken
* 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with peppers
* 1/2 cup sour cream
* 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
* 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* 8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
* Vegetable cooking spray
* 1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
* 1 (8-ounce) bottle green taco sauce
* Toppings: diced tomato, chopped avocado, chopped green onions, sliced ripe olives, chopped cilantro

Stir together the chicken, cheese, sour cream, chilies and cilantro. Spoon chicken mixture evenly over each tortilla, and roll up. Arrange in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Coat tortillas with vegetable cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Stir together sour cream and taco sauce. Spoon over hot enchiladas, and sprinkle with toppings.
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5/5/09

Pork Chalupas in a Bowl

Cinco de Mayo! Are you making a Mexican themed dinner tonight? Our family likes a wide variety of foods but one that I know will go over perfectly every time, in almost way, shape or form is... Mexican influenced foods. The kids have been asking for me to make my Chalupa's and special Baja sauce again but I downsized the cookbooks and recipe files I had in the kitchen due to lack of space and packed most of them away. The recipe I usually make and I know everyone raves over is packed away in the storage room somewhere in one of my 6 or 7 boxes of recipes so I haven't made the trek down there to find it yet. However, when I saw this months list of recipes in my Southern Living email newsletter I smiled to see Chalupa's in a Taco Bowl listed.

This one was originally sent in by someone from Oklahoma and published in 2005 but you know me... recipes are GUIDES but not to be followed. This had a bone-in pork loin roast and less than half the flavoring it needed. I tweaked the flavors, used a boneless pork roast and although I listed the RoTel tomatoes to look for at your grocery - if you can't find it then use diced tomatoes and add your own lime and chilies accordingly. Adjust all the spices to your family's preference. Have fun with it!


Pork Chalupas in a Bowl

1 pound dried pinto beans
2 1/2 lb. boneless pork loin roast
12 oz. chopped green chiles (3 small store bought cans)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoon chili powder
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (32-ounce) box chicken broth
2 cans (10 oz) RoTel brand style diced tomatoes with green chiles, lime juice and cilantro
8 taco salad shells
1 small head iceberg lettuce, shredded
Toppings: shredded Monterey Jack cheese, pickled jalapeño slices, halved grape tomatoes, sour cream, chopped avocado


Rinse and sort beans according to package directions. Place pinto beans in a 6-quart slow cooker; add roast and next 6 ingredients. Pour chicken broth evenly over top of roast.

Cover and cook on HIGH 1 hour; reduce to LOW, and cook 6-7 hours. Or, cover and cook on HIGH 5-6 hours. (Crock pots and slow cookers made since about 2000 cook much faster and on a higher heat than older crocks.) Remove bones and fat from roast; pull roast into large pieces with two forks. Stir in diced tomatoes and green chiles. Cook, uncovered, on HIGH 1 more hour or until liquid is slightly thickened.

Heat taco salad shells according to package directions; place shredded lettuce evenly into shells. Spoon about 1 cup pork-and-bean mixture into each shell using a slotted spoon. Serve with desired toppings.
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5/4/09

Baked Fudge Dessert


Last night I was in the mood to make a dessert for my family but I had nothing in particular in mind. We didn't have any specialty items on hand but I typically have a well stocked pantry so we had the basics to work with.

I walked to the book shelf and at random chose a cookbook and opened it up. It opened right to the dessert section and in front of me I read; Baked Fudge Dessert. A quick glance at the ingredients told me I probably had all of them. I had to tweak it a bit with cooking times but the end result was gobbled up by my family and even I, who regularly passes by anything chocolate without so much as a glance, snuck the batter and the finished product.  



Baked Fudge Dessert

2 cups sugar
1/2 c flour
1/2 c plus 2 T good quality cocoa
4 eggs
2 sticks (8 oz.) real butter, melted
2 t vanilla
1 c fine chopped pecans
real whipped cream


Mix sugar, flour and cocoa in a bowl. Beat in eggs. Add butter, vanilla and nuts. Pour into a glass 9X9" pan (spray only the bottom with non-stick spray, not the sides... or don't spray at all). Fill a large pan with water and set the glass dish in the center of the pan of water. Bake at 300 for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. The center should have the consistency just past a thick custard but will not be as thick or stiff as cake or brownies. It will set up a bit when it cools but is wonderful spooned or scooped out warm with a dollop of whipped cream. Serve scooped out warm or cut into squares when cool.
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5/2/09

Strawberries and Yogurt Torte (layer cake)

Today my two daughters and I attended a small reception for the daughter of a very good friend of mine. We enjoyed angel food cake, strawberries and whipped cream. My oldest doesn't care for angel food but she reminded me two times this afternoon that she has been craving strawberry shortcake and hoped I would make it soon.

Tonight I was glancing through my recipes when I saw this one I had saved from a loooong time ago. It's originally a Betty Crocker - which of course are always 'keepers'.

A Strawberry Yogurt Layer Cake (or Torte)


1 box white cake mix
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 egg whites
1 container (6 oz) Yoplait® strawberry yogurt
2 containers whipped vanilla frosting
20 fresh strawberries, cut into 1/4-inch slices
Assorted fresh berries, if desired

Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Grease and flour 15x10x1-inch pan, or spray with baking spray with flour. Beat cake mix, water, oil, egg whites and yogurt with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes (batter will be lumpy). Pour into pan.

Bake 24 to 28 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Cut cake crosswise into thirds. Place one-third on flat serving plate; spread with 1/2 cup of the frosting. Arrange half of the sliced strawberries on frosting. Repeat with another third of cake, 1/2 cup of the frosting and remaining strawberries. Top with remaining third of cake. Frost side of torte with thin coat of frosting to seal in crumbs, then frost side and top.

Cover loosely and refrigerate at least 2 hours until chilled. Before serving, garnish with berries and mint leaves. Cut into 12 slices; cut each slice in half. Store loosely covered in refrigerator. (High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): Increase water to 1 cup and decrease oil to 2 tablespoons. Beat cake 30 seconds on low, 3 minutes on medium.)
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