5/28/10

15 Layer Lemon Crepe Cake

About fifteen years ago I gained an interest in layered cakes. Just just cakes with 3 or 4 layers, but cakes made with 15 to 20 thin layers. My initial interest stemmed from a friendship at the time with a woman who lived in Georgia who remembered a cake her Grandmother made that was layers of spice cake filled with apple butter or apple filling. After discussing this old fashioned cake, my interest was piqued and I've always been enthralled with them since.

I saw this lemon version on a Martha Stewart website. I haven't made it yet but it seems the perfect 'summer' dessert, don't you think? I have 2 containers of Harry & David Lemon Curd in my cupboard and I am planning on adapting this recipe to use those instead of the lemon curd mousse it calls for. You know me... I never actually follow a recipe, but use them as a guide. I like to play with my food!



15 Layer Lemon Crepe Cake

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, melted, plus more, melted, for pan
Meyer Lemon Curd Mousse (recipe not included with this posting)
1/4 cup heavy cream, whipped
Candied Meyer Lemons, optional

Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Whisk together milk, eggs, and vanilla. Gradually pour milk mixture into flour mixture, whisking until smooth. Whisk in butter. Pour through a fine sieve into an airtight container; discard lumps. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Lightly coat a 6-inch crepe pan or nonstick skillet with butter. Heat over medium heat until just starting to smoke. Remove from heat; pour about 2 tablespoons batter into center. Swirl to cover bottom. Reduce heat to medium-low; return pan to heat. Cook until edges are golden and center is dry, about 30 seconds per side.

Slide crepe onto an overturned plate. Repeat with remaining batter, coating pan with butter as needed, and stacking crepes. Let cool.

Place 1 crepe on a flat serving dish. Spread about 1/4 cup lemon curd mousse onto crepe. Top with 1 crepe. Continue layering crepes and mousse. (Use 15 crepes, ending with a crepe on top.) Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Top crepe cake with whipped cream and 3 or 4 candied lemon slices for garnish.
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5/25/10

Rainbow Layer Cake


This is just a basic cake recipe, there isn't anything special about it - but it's appeal is that you divide the batter between 6 different bowls and color each so you end up with a rainbow of colors. I'm adding this one to my online collection but I have an idea for you; with the Fourth of July coming up in just a few weeks, try making 3 each of red and blue to make a patriotic holiday cake. Mmmm. I love this cake. It's so fun!




Makes one 9-inch-round six-layer cake

* Vegetable shortening
* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 4 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 2 1/3 cups sugar
* 5 large egg whites, room temperature
* 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
* 1 1/2 cups milk, room temperature
* Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple gel food coloring
* Buttercream Frosting


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush six 9-inch-round cake pans (or as many 9-inch cake pans as you have, reusing them as necessary) with shortening. Line bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper; brush again and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar. Slowly add egg whites and mix until well combined. Add vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Add flour mixture and milk in two alternating additions, beginning with the flour and ending with the milk. Mix until well combined.

Divide batter evenly between six medium bowls. Add enough of each color of food coloring to each bowl, whisking, until desired shade is reached. Transfer each color to an individual cake pan. Transfer to oven and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, about 15 minutes (working in batches if necessary).

Remove cakes from oven and transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto a wire rack; re-invert and let cool completely.

Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan. Place the purple layer on the cake plate. Spread a scant 1 cup buttercream filling over the first layer with a small offset spatula so it extends just beyond edges. Repeat process with blue, green, yellow, and orange layers.

Place the remaining red layer on top, bottom-side up. Gently sweep away any loose crumbs with a pastry brush. Using an offset spatula, cover the top and sides with a thin layer of frosting (also use any of the excess frosting visible between the layers). Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

Using an offset spatula, cover cake again with remaining frosting.
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Back to Normal Soon!

On May 23rd my oldest daughter flew to Kingston, Jamaica to start a 10 day mission trip. We had no idea that fighting and turmoil would be breaking out but her plane landed just as the council there was declaring a State of Emergency.

Since then, life goes on, but I'm spending a lot of time reading the news, finding updates of the situation in Kingston and where the barricades, the drug cartels, the deaths and random shootings are happening. I know she is currently safe and the fighting is still focused on certain areas but with civilians being killed and the US Embassy reducing services as well as three flights being canceled yesterday... well, my mind is occupied.

Don't worry - I haven't gone anywhere! But my mind is preoccupied so I tend to do tasks that keep me busy while my mind wanders. Scrubbing the bathroom floor and organizing closets come to mind!

I'll try to update tomorrow - check back soon. Thanks!
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5/24/10

The Alfalfa Sprout Recall Is Up to 15 States


Alfalfa sprouts recalled because of salmonella poisoning were sold to more than 400 Wal-Mart stores in 15 states, a spokeswoman for the retail chain said Monday.

The raw sprouts sold by Caldwell Fresh Foods were sold to Wal-Marts in Alabama, California, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon and Wisconsin, the company said.

The federal Centers for Disease Control said last week the alfalfa sprouts appear to have sickened at least 22 people in 10 states, including a baby in Oregon. Eleven of those sickened were in California.

The sprouts were sold in at least seven other stores in California, including Trader Joe's. Caldwell, based in Maywood, Calif., said in a release that the sprouts were sold at restaurants, delicatessens and retailers nationwide but the company has not released a complete list of the outlets that purchased the sprouts.

Caldwell Fresh Foods did not respond to requests for comment and no one answered the phone at the company's headquarters on Monday.

According to the Oregon Department of Human Services, which was first to announce the outbreak last week, Caldwell's alfalfa product was sold in 18 states in the West, Midwest and South.

In addition to those who were sickened in California, two were sickened in Nevada and two in Wisconsin. Arizona, Oregon, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico and Colorado each had one person become ill, the CDC said. The illnesses began between March 1 and May 2 and six people were hospitalized.

Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in those with weakened immune systems. It can cause diarrhea, fever and vomiting.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Caren Epstein said sprouts were removed from the produce departments of the affected stores as soon as the retail chain was made aware of the recall.

Caldwell said the recalled alfalfa sprouts were sold in plastic cups and plastic bags under the Caldwell Fresh Foods brand, plastic cups under the Nature's Choice brand and plastic containers under the California Fresh Exotics brand.

William E. Keene, a senior epidemiologist at the Oregon health department, said the baby sickened was a 4-month-old boy who ate alfalfa sprouts mixed with other foods. His sickness made the cause of the outbreak easier to identify, Keene said, because the infant had not yet eaten many foods. He was hospitalized but later recovered.
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5/18/10

Amaretto Almond Cake

On Sunday afternoon I was doing the mundane household chores that are never-ending; dishes, laundry, vacuuming. Suddenly I was in the mood to make a cake. I didn't know what kind, but I knew I wanted to bake. I opened my files and glanced at a random untried recipe. It was for an Amaretto cake. It called for starting with a cake mix. Therein lay the deciding factor. Did I have a yellow cake mix on hand? I checked and the only cake mix in the house happened to be... yellow! I had bought it to make our families favorite lemon cheesecake bars but the almond flavored cake was going to win out.

It's a very light, moist cake with very good flavor. As a matter of fact my daughters friend was over after school, tried it, deemed it one of the best cakes she has ever had in her life. I sent 1/3 of the cake home with her to share with her family.

I hope you enjoy it as much as they did!




Amaretto Almond Cake

1 cup chopped almonds
1 box (18.25 oz size) yellow cake mix
1 box (4 serving size) vanilla instant pudding mix
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup amaretto liqueur
1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup amaretto
1/2 teaspoon almond extract


Heat oven to 325. Grease and flour a 10" tube or Bundt pan; sprinkle chopped almonds over the bottom and set aside.

In mixing bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, water, amaretto and almond extract. Beat on low speed with electric mixer about 30 seconds until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase speed to medium and beat 4 minutes.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until done - approximately 1 & 1/2 hour for bunt/angel food style pan. Cool cake 10-15 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely and place on cake plate.

For glaze, in small saucepan, combine sugar, water and butter and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and gently boil 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool 15 minutes. Stir in amaretto and almond extract. Punch holes in cake from top to bottom with wooden pick or skewer. Slowly spoon glaze over cake until entirely absorbed. *I opted to boil the amaretto with the sugar syrup to boil off the alcohol and lessen the strength of the amaretto flavor so all family members and the kids friends could enjoy the cake without a strong amaretto alcohol flavor.
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5/16/10

Sour Cherry Jelly

Ever since I returned to work outside the home I've not had the time to make some of the things I used to enjoy so much. One of those things is making homemade jelly. The best jelly I've ever had in my life is jelly I've made myself but the last batch was probably 2 1/2 years ago. Looking over jelly recipes this morning I found myself glancing at "sour cherry jelly" a few times. I decided to add it to my collection of recipes in the hope I can make it soon!






Sour Cherry Jelly

3 pounds red sour cherries
1/2 c water
7 c sugar
6 oz. pectin

Wash, stem and crush the fruit. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10-12 minutes. Extract the juice with a jelly bag. Combine 3 cups of juice with the sugar. Heat until dissolved. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Add pectin. Stir and remove scum from top. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Makes about 7 8-oz. glasses of jelly.
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5/15/10

One of the Trifles from Last Week

Regular visitors here will remember when my husband called me from work on Saturday night to tell me we had dinner at his boss's house the next night... and we needed to bring a dessert. Not sure which kind he wanted to bring, he asked me to make two of them. One white cake and berries trifle and the second, chocolate.

Here is a quick photo I snapped of the Berry Trifle. A huge hit! White cake with white chocolate pudding layer, strawberry glaze layer, homemade whipped cream layers with raspberries, blackberries and strawberries.
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How Clean is Organic?

I use the internet every single day. I imagine most of my visitors do as well! It's amazing what you can find on the internet with just a couple clicks of keys and the 'enter' button. Whether it's testosterone booster reviews, recipes, the news, medical information or looking up lost loves... it's all there just waiting to be found.

How about this little bit of information I found a few weeks ago regarding 'organic' foods and how they actually may not be as clean as we thought.

Organic fruits and vegetables may still be grown with pesticides. They’re just not synthetic chemicals. Biological pesticides are allowed in the treatment of organic produce including pyrethrum, a potentially cancer-causing substance that happens to be organic. Plus, if an organic farm is located near a non-organic farm, there’s always a chance that pesticides from the synthetic chemically treated land can be carried by the wind to the organic farm. Plus, organic produce can still harbor bacteria including E. coli, notes Marie Claire magazine.
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Another Classic Lasagna Recipe

From an old issue of Southern Living - about 5 or 6 years ago!

A Class Lasagna Recipe

2 medium onions, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound lean ground beef
1 (14.5-oz.) can basil, garlic, and oregano diced tomatoes
2 (6-oz.) cans tomato paste
1 (8-oz.) can basil, garlic, and oregano tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
12 lasagna noodles, uncooked
8 cups boiling water
1 (16-oz.) container ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 (6-oz.) packages part-skim mozzarella cheese slices
Garnish: chopped fresh parsley

Sauté onion in 1 Tbsp. hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Add beef, and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until beef crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain beef mixture, and return to skillet. Stir in diced tomatoes, next 4 ingredients, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf; set meat sauce aside.

Place lasagna noodles in a 13- x- 9-inch pan. Carefully pour 8 cups boiling water and remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil over noodles. Let stand 15 minutes.

Stir together ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, remaining 1/4 tsp. salt, and remaining 1/4 tsp. pepper until blended.

Spoon half of the meat sauce mixture in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Shake excess water from noodles, and arrange 6 noodles over meat sauce; top with half of ricotta mixture and 1 package mozzarella cheese slices. Repeat layers once.

Bake, covered, at 350° for 55 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until bubbly. Let lasagna stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish, if desired.
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Chocolate Bourbon Whiskey Cake

My husband and I don't really drink and we haven't really entertained much over the past few years since moving to our current home and finding ourselves incredibly busy with schedules that come with having 3 teenagers. After staring at a bottle of whiskey up in the cupboard that had barely been opened even after 5 years, I went on a hunt for recipes to use it. This is one that I added to my files for the purpose of using up whiskey bourbon. If you are the kind of person that reads apidexin reviews or exercises for an hour to make up for 1 bite of dessert... you had better pass on this one. It's a cake in all it's caloric fatness. But... it looks delicious!

Chocolate Bourbon Cake

* 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, more for greasing pan
* 2 cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting pan
* 5 ounces high quality, unsweetened dark chocolate
* 1/4 cup instant espresso (can use instant coffee)
* 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1 cup bourbon whiskey (can use 1/2 cup), more for sprinkling
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 2 cups granulated sugar
* 3 large eggs
* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar), for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a large bundt pan (10 cup capacity), or two 8- or 9-inch loaf pans. Melt chocolate in a microwave oven or in a double boiler over simmering water. Let cool.

Put instant espresso and cocoa powder in a 2-cup (or larger) glass measuring cup. Add enough boiling water to come up to the 1 cup measuring line. Mix until powders dissolve. Stir in whiskey and salt; let cool.

Beat softened butter until fluffy (2-3 minutes on high). Add sugar and beat until well combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract, baking soda and melted chocolate, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.

With the mixer on low speed, beat in a third of the whiskey espresso cocoa mixture. When liquid is absorbed, beat in 1 cup flour. Repeat additions, ending with whiskey mixture. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes for Bundt pan (loaf pans will take less time, start checking them after 55 minutes).

Transfer cake to a rack. Unmold after 15 minutes and sprinkle warm cake with more whiskey. Let cool. Sprinkle powdered sugar through a mesh sieve over the cake before serving.
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Grilled Chicken Quesadillas

Whether you are making a full Mexican themed dinner for the family complete with quesadillas, taco's, enchiladas and guacamole, or you are taking a quick break from looking for information on a sell merchant account or making an after school snack for a child, a quesadilla is not only relatively quick and easy, but delicious. If you marinate and make the grilled chicken ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator, you'll find you or your child can whip these up in minutes!

Grilled Chicken Quesadillas

1/3 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried or 1 tablespoon minced fresh marjoram
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 pounds skinned and boned chicken breasts
12 (6-inch) flour tortillas
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Mexican four-cheese blend
Toppings: Salsa, sour cream, chopped cilantro

Combine first 5 ingredients in a shallow dish or zip-top freezer bag; add chicken. Cover or seal, and chill 2 hours. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade.

Grill chicken, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350° to 400°) 4 minutes on each side or until done. Cut chicken into thin strips.

Top 1 side of 6 tortillas evenly with cheese, and chicken. Top with remaining tortillas.

Cook quesadillas in a lightly greased skillet or griddle (my daughter likes to use our George Foreman Grill) over medium-high heat (350°) 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Cut each quesadilla into quarters. Serve with desired toppings.
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Helpful Hints in the Kitchen: Brown isn't 'bad' on Ground Beef

The internet can be helpful for everything from finding an insurance quote to finding out obscure but fun facts. This little fact is something that seems natural to me but many people may not know it, so I thought it might be fun to add it to the 'helpful hint' portion of my site; Brown doesn't mean 'bad' when it comes to raw beef.

Beef that’s fresh from the grocery store or the butcher might be bright red, but if parts of it are brown when you take it out of the package, it doesn’t mean your meat is spoiled. Beef can turn red when it’s exposed to oxygen in the same way your own blood does. If it’s brown or grayish brown in the middle, that may just be because it hasn’t come in direct contact with oxygen. On the other hand, if your meat has turned completely gray or brown, it could be starting to go bad, according to the USDA.
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Crazy Chili

For the first 10 years of our marriage I didn't make chili more than oh, maybe 5 times. We weren't ground beef eaters, we didn't eat a lot of red meat and we lived in area's of the country where the winters we not very cold. (Southern California, for example.) After we moved to Minnesota we started to eat more ground beef in part because it was regional but mostly because we were a family of five living on one very, very small income and trying to pay a mortgage. With winters being 7 months long and the temperatures often staying below freezing for a week or two at a time, I made chili more often! I also found a mixture of ingredients that our family loved and it became my chili recipe.

I've made roughly the same chili recipe for about 12 years now. A year or two ago I stumbled across a recipe without a real name, that included can after can after can of beans. In the end I realized it was a 'chili' recipe but the ingredients, with a pound of brown sugar, a bottle of maple syrup and a kazillion cans of beans was just... crazy! Which is why I call it "Crazy Chili".

You can add up to 3-4 more cans of whatever beans you want to this list... personally I think more chili beans make it more 'chili' like but it's a great crowd-pleaser as it serves so many and is kept in a crock pot!


Crazy Chili

1 1/2 to 2 pounds ground beef - brown and drain
1 pound bulk sausage - crumble, brown, and drain
2 c chopped onions sauteed in oil or butter
1/8 C. A-1 Steak Sauce,
1/8 C. Worcestershire Sauce,
2 T Concentrated Hickory Seasoning (Liquid Smoke)
Dash Frank’s Red Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce,
1 lb. bag brown sugar
12 oz bottle Aunt Jemima Original Syrup
1 can Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits
1 can Campbell’s French Onion soup (do not add water)
1 can Maple Sugar Baked Beans (15.5 oz.)
1 can hot chili beans
1 can Butter Beans (15 oz.)
1 can Traditional Refried Beans (16 oz)
1 can Spicy Pinto Chili Beans (14.1 oz.)
1 can Blackeyed Peas (15.5 oz)
1 can Black Beans (15 oz.)
1 can Pork and Beans (31 oz.[1lb. 15 oz])
1 can Great Northern Beans (15 oz.)
1 can Kidney Beans (15 1/4 oz.)
1 can Fresh Cut, Peeled Diced Tomatoes (14.5 oz)
1 can White Beans - Premium Small (15 oz.)
3-4 more cans of whatever beans you may want to add!

Simmer in a crock pot on low for 8-10 hours. Serve with a sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese on each.
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5/13/10

Turkey, Bacon, Guacamole Sandwich.... Mmmm

A quick weekday sandwich that was so good my family requested them again the next night! While shopping, I noted a great sale on avocados that day so with 6 avocados in hand the next evening, I made a double batch of guacamole. Half for dipping with tortilla chips and the second half called out to me to be made into a sandwich, much like the one's served by our local Quizno's.

Starting with soft wheat buns I bought in the deli section of the grocery store, I placed them under the broiler briefly to toast and then topped them with oven roasted turkey slices, cooked bacon and a heavy schmear of guacamole. Toasted again briefly just to warm the turkey, I then topped them with a bit of lettuce and mayo for the kids' and no mayo for my husband and whipped up a batch of homemade vegetable cheese soup to serve with them.

So good they were requested again the next night.
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5/12/10

Ravioli with Sun Dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce

Throughout my life I've always thought as recipes being things that only counted when you were making them from scratch or 'homemade'. If I was in a hurry or just felt like using store bought products for the ingredients and throwing something together, I never would have thought to write it down or call it a recipe.

So while reading the news, I saw a link that caught my eye and before I knew it I was clicking through to Southern Living and looking at a mouth watering photo of a delicious ravioli pasta meal. When I clicked to see the 'recipe' to make it I saw it used almost all store bought products and it was thrown together in about 15 minutes.

Pasta, a jar of sauce, a little bit of this and that from your refrigerator and/or garden to add to it and you have a simple and fast meal for any week night.

Ravioli with Sun Dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce

* 1 (20-oz.) package refrigerated four-cheese ravioli or tortellini
* 1 (16-oz.) jar sun-dried tomato Alfredo sauce
* 2 tablespoons white wine
* 2 medium-size fresh tomatoes, chopped
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
* 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* Garnish: fresh basil strips

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, pour Alfredo sauce into a medium saucepan. Pour wine into sauce jar; cover tightly, and shake well. Stir wine mixture into saucepan. Stir in chopped tomatoes and 1/2 cup chopped basil, and cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Toss with pasta, and top evenly with 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Wow, that's quick and easy!
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5/8/10

Feta Cheese and Black Olive Salad with Vinaigrette


Yesterday I really wanted to post about the delicious salad I had for dinner the night before but in light of the big lettuce recall, I decided it might not be good timing.

No worries.

Because I had it again last night as well!

What is funny (to me at least) is that even though I've had these delicious, huge, amazing salads two nights in a row, I've not gotten a picture of them... they looked so good and I was so hungry that I ate them before I could snap a photo! Seriously! I thought about taking pictures but they smelled so good and looking so inviting and my stomach was rumbling... so I have to resort to a 'general' photo off google.

As with most of my recipes - play with it. Yes, it has black olives in it. Don't be all dramatic and wrinkle your nose and loudly exclaim, "Eww! I'm not going to make THIS recipe! It has black olives in it! I hate black olives!" Ok. So... you leave the black olives out if they bother you that much. (If you are a long time reader you already know the story about the black olives and the drama-mama young woman from a recipe board I used to frequent about 10 years ago. If you don't know the story, stick around. I recall it every few months as it still makes me shake my head in wonder how this girl walked and chewed gum at the same time... or maybe she couldn't do that either. I don't know.)

My hope is that you leave the black olives in. AND that you try to get a bit of all the ingredients together on the fork with each bite as the melding of the flavors together is what makes your mouth happy.

I can't call it a Greek Salad just because it has feta and black olives in it. I can't call it an Italian Salad just because I like to use an Italian Vinaigrette in it. So... it's just a green salad with feta and black olives!

This is to make the whole bag of lettuce - which will serve between 2 to 6 people depending on if it's the main dish and only thing for dinner or if it's a side salad with other foods.

Feta Cheese and Black Olive Salad

1 bag pre-washed romaine and green leafy lettuce mixture
2 small cans sliced black olives, or if they are in the budget, use kalamata but they do cost more
1 small red onion, sliced into rings
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced or diced
1 tomato, sliced into wedges or if you prefer, cut each wedge into 4 chunks
8 oz. block Feta Cheese, crumbled
1 package Italian (Good Seasons) dry dressing, made according to package with olive oil


Mix the salad ingredients, add about 1 cup of the dressing and toss. Enjoy.
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5/7/10

Lettuce Recall - Is Your State Listed?

A food company is recalling lettuce sold in 23 states and the District of Columbia because of an E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least 19 people, three of them with life-threatening symptoms.

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that 12 people had been hospitalized and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was looking at 10 other cases probably linked to the outbreak.

"........Freshway Foods of Sidney, Ohio, said it was recalling romaine lettuce sold under the Freshway and Imperial Sysco brands because of a possible link to the E. coli outbreak.

College students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Ohio State in Columbus and Daemen College in Amherst, N.Y., are among those affected, according to local health departments in those states.

The FDA is focusing its investigation on lettuce grown in Arizona as a possible source for the outbreak, according to two people who have been briefed by the agency. "

"..... The New York state Public Health Laboratory in Albany discovered the contamination in a bag of Freshway Foods shredded romaine lettuce on Wednesday after local authorities had been investigating the outbreak for several weeks. The bag of lettuce came from a processing facility that was also linked to the illnesses, the FDA said. The agency would not disclose the name of that facility or its location but said an investigation was under way.

E. coli infection can cause mild diarrhea or more severe complications, including kidney damage. The three patients with life-threatening symptoms were diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can cause bleeding in the brain or kidneys.

".......Freshway Foods said the lettuce was sold to wholesalers, food service outlets, in-store salad bars and delis."

".........The most common strain of E. coli found in U.S. patients is E. coli O157. The CDC said the strain linked to the lettuce, E. coli 0145, is more difficult to identify and may go unreported.

Freshway Foods said in a statement Thursday that the FDA informed the company about the positive test in New York on Wednesday afternoon. The statement said "an extensive FDA investigation" of Freshway Foods' facility in Sidney has not uncovered any contamination at the plant.

The recalled lettuce has a "best if used by" date of May 12 or earlier. The recall also affects "grab and go" salads sold at Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets and Marsh grocery stores.

The lettuce was sold in Alabama, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
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5/5/10

Cheese Puffs

If you are a regular reader, you'll know that about 3 times a year my husband and I do a couple weeks (or a month) of no sugar, no wheat, low carb eating. During these times I am always trying to find new recipes to try, play with, and adapt to something we love. This recipe caught my eye because it was a snack that could make you feel like you were cheating, even if you weren't. I only made it once - about a year ago - but my husband and I always start to crave the no sugar/no wheat 'thing' in May and June with the coming of the warm weather and the ability to grill shrimp, steak, chicken and salmon every day of the week if we wish. Low carb and summer seem to go hand in hand for us. I'm keeping this one here in my website files for future use so I don't have to go far to find it!


Homemade Cheese Puffs

3 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
A pinch of salt
1/2 cup frozen shredded cheddar cheese

Chop the frozen cheese in a food processor until it's in tiny pieces. In a mixing bowl, blend the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt at high speed, until whites form stiff peaks. Sprinkle the chopped cheese on top of the egg whites and using a rubber scraper, carefully and gently fold in the cheese without breaking down the egg whites.

Place 1/2 teaspoon full dabs of the mixture on parchment lined baking sheets. Lightly tops with butter flavored cooking spray. Lightly sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese, on top of each puff.

Bake at 300 degrees, for approximately 35-40 minutes and turn off the oven, leaving the cheese puffs in the oven for a few hours, overnight if possible.
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5/3/10

BBQ Chicken Pizza

In years past we lived in warmer regions of the country, but where we currently call home, Spring has just sprung so to speak. Last night was the first cookout's of the season and really, only possible with an incredibly beautiful, large fire pit in the center of the patio with outdoor furniture surrounding it so we could all prop our feet (or our backsides) to the flame to stay warm. But! We know that summer is on it's way and last night was a good taste of incredible backyard bbq's to come.

Here is a quick and simple BBQ Chicken Pizza recipe I found about a year or two ago that I jotted down as a reference because frankly, I've been making this kind of pizza for about 12 years now already. But this one has red pepper and gives amounts of things to use for those who have never attempted this style pizza before. It's one of our favorites although I 'play' with my food (as you know!) and I like to use smoked gouda and I don't use red bell peppers. But like I always say - use this as a guide and then make it your own!

1 small onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 (10-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust or Boboli style
1/2 cup hickory smoke barbecue sauce
2 (6-ounce) packages grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast strips
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with peppers
chopped fresh parsley
Hickory smoke barbecue sauce

Sauté first 4 ingredients in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 8 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Drain well.

Unroll pizza crust; press or pat into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch pan. Bake crust at 400° for 12 to 14 minutes. If using a Boboli style, just top your pizza - do not bake yet. Spread 1/2 cup barbecue sauce evenly over top of pizza crust in pan. Arrange chicken strips evenly over barbecue sauce, top with onion mixture, and sprinkle evenly with cheese.

Bake at 400° for 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Garnish, if desired. Serve with extra sauce for dipping.
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5/2/10

Two Trifles Tonight

Yesterday I was running errands with my 14 year old and while in the middle of JoAnn's Fabric store around 5:00 pm, my husband rang my cellphone.

"Uh, honey, apparently we have a bbq at my boss's house tomorrow night.... and we need to bring a dessert."

Having just returned from vacation to South Carolina (we came home with $3.70 in our checking account) and having just wrote out a check for my oldest daughter's church Mission Trip at the end of this month, we have little groceries to work with. My mind raced. What can I make? What would they like? What does my husband wish to bring?

"What would you like me to make?" I asked him.

"Umm, I think that cake thing. You know. With cake and like, whipped cream or something... you know."

"The white cake with whipped cream that looks like a basket with strawberries on it?"

"Yeah! Wait... No. Um, that thing where you put it in a glass bowl with layers and blueberries and strawberries and things."

"A trifle?"

"Yes! That would be awesome!"

"Do you think we should bring something chocolate though? This group really likes chocolate desserts. I could do a chocolate trifle with a layer of chocolate pudding and a layer of peanut butter filling."

"Yeah that too. Let's bring both!"

That's my husband!

So last night I returned home from the grocery store and made a white cake and a chocolate cake and this morning by 8:am had them both assembled to chill.

First: White cake with white chocolate pudding layer, strawberry glaze layer, homemade whipped cream layers with raspberries, blackberries and strawberries.

Second: Chocolate cake with chocolate pudding layers, homemade whipped cream and a rich peanut butter filling layer with a chocolate coffee topping drizzled on top.


TRIFLES: Quick and easy to assemble, fun to 'play' with ingredients (you can't go wrong) and they are crowd pleasers every time!
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