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February 24, 2014

White Bean and Ham Soup

Bean soup is a great way to use the ham bone from a Holiday ham dinner. We usually have a spiral cut ham for Christmas and/or Easter dinner and I put the bone into the freezer until I'm in the mood for a good ole bowl of soup beans.

Serves 6-8


  • 1 pound dried white beans
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 ham bone with some ham meat
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup celery, chopped very fine
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • Kosher salt and Freshly ground pepper to taste


    Rinse beans in a colander. Put beans into a large soup pot and cover with water. Allow to soak overnight or at least up to 4 hours. Drain beans and rinse again.

    Add beans back to pot and add 2 quarts water and ham bone. Cook on medium heat until beans are almost tender.

    Melt butter in a skillet, add onions, celery and garlic. Cook on medium heat until onions are tender. Add thyme and cook about 3 more minutes. Add the onion mixture to the beans and ham bone and continue to cook until bean are tender.

    Remove the ham bone from the soup and remove any ham and add the meat back to the soup. Discard the thyme sprigs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Posted by terri at 02:03 AM | Comments (0)

    Apple Cinnamon Upside Down Cake

    I've used the original Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipe to make several different recipes. The apple is my favorite. Using a tart apple like Granny Smith is best with the brown sugar, gives it a sweet, tart flavor.


  • 1 package spice cake mix
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 large granny Smith apples, peeled, core and sliced
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped


    Preheat oven 325 degrees.

    Mix Cake according to directions only substitute the water for milk.

    For a richer cake, also substitute the oil for butter.

    Melt butter in 9 x 13 pan. Add brown sugar. Evenly distribute sugar in pan. Layer by slightly overlapping the apples slices and sprinkle with cinnamon.

    Pour batter over apples and bake according to cake directions.

    Serve with whipping cream.

    Cooking Wiser
    Slice the apples into 4 wedges and slice each wedge into 4 slices for a total of 16 slices or slice into 1/4 inch thick rings. Either way the apples will be on top when the cake is turned out of the pan for an attractive dessert.

    Decrease calories by omitting the whipped cream. A good substitute is frozen yogurt.

    Create your own recipe
    Try this with pears, peaches, cherries, strawberries or even blueberries.

    Posted by terri at 01:42 AM | Comments (0)

    February 21, 2014

    Tuscan Rubbed Seared Tuna with Tomato Chutney Sauce

    If you hear the word tuna and think of a can then you are totally missing out on what tuna is and should be. Tuna has a rich flavor and a firm, flaky and tender texture. Sashimi is the highest and freshest quality.

    Serves 4


  • 1 1/2 pounds sashimi quality tuna steaks
  • 1 tablespoon Tuscan Rub, See recipe

    Tomato Chutney Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper, to taste

    Tuscan Rub

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried red chilies flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper


    Mix all ingredients for Tuscan rub together. The rub will keep in freezer for up to 6 months.

    Coat tuna steaks evenly with dry rub. Set aside.

    Meanwhile make tomato chutney. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium high heat. Sauté onions and red pepper until onion is translucent. Add garlic and cook additional 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes, wine and tomato paste and stir until tomato paste is well blended.

    Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes or until reduced by 1/2. Reduce heat and add remaining olive oil, basil, parsley and parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low for additional 5 minutes.
    Sauce can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

    In a nonstick sauté pan, heat the olive oil and when hot sear the tuna for 2 minutes on each side for medium rare.

    Serve tuna steaks with tomato chutney. Garnish with additional parsley.

    Posted by terri at 02:27 AM | Comments (0)

    February 13, 2014

    Chicken and Dumplings

    Chicken and Dumplings are one of the all time best comfort foods. It takes me back to cooking with my grandmother. She taught me how to make Chicken and Dumplings. She called the dumplings "slicks". They were thin, shiny and firm. Although many people are used to doughy dumplings, I think slicks are by far the best.

    You can easily make dumplings from canned biscuits. I used to do that when I was in a hurry. My dad uses large egg noodles for his. It is really the easy way and very good. The important thing is to have a rich flavored broth made by cooking the chicken in a stock pot with onions and seasoning.

    Serves 4-6


  • 1 (2 pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth

    For the dumplings:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup chicken stock, refrigerated overnight


    For the chicken: Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the celery and onion and sauté until tender. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant. Add the chicken and chicken broth and 4 cups of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer the chicken until it is tender and the thigh juices run clear, about 40 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and, when it is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and separate the meat from the bones. Return the chicken meat to the pot. Keep warm over low heat.

    For the dumplings: Mix the flour with the salt in a large mixing bowl. Beginning at the center of the mound, drizzle a small amount of the cold chicken broth over the flour. Using your fingers, and moving from the center to the sides of the bowl, gradually incorporate about 3/4 cup of broth. Knead the dough and form it into ball.

    Cover a clean work surface with about 2 tablespoon of flour. Roll out the dough, working from center to 1/8-inch thick. Let the dough rest for several minutes.

    Cut the dough into 1-inch long pieces. Drop into the simmering stock. Repeat. Do not stir the chicken once the dumplings have been added. Gently move the pot in a circular motion so the dumplings become submerged and cook evenly. Cook until the dumplings float and are no longer doughy, 3 to 4 minutes.
    To serve ladle chicken and dumplings into warm bowls.

    Posted by terri at 04:44 AM | Comments (0)

    Mac and Cheese

    Not only is Mac and Cheese a great "Comfort Food", it is a Southern Comfort Food" and it doesn't get any more comforting than that. This dish uses the traditional recipe with bacon and herbs added for additional flavor.

    Serves 4


  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • Kosher salt and fresh grated black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons grated onion
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mild Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely minced


    Cook macaroni in boiling water until al dente (with a little bite to it). Drain the cooking liquid and reserve about 2 cups. Fry bacon, remove to paper towel to drain. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat and add 2 tablespoons butter to same pan. Add garlic and stir in flour. Slowly stir in evaporated milk and cooking liquid. Stir constantly, bring mixture to the boiling point, season with salt and pepper. Add Worcestershire sauce and onion. Add cheeses and continue to heat over low heat until cheese is melted. Add cooked macaroni and herbs, mix well. Top with bacon and serve.

    Posted by terri at 02:39 AM | Comments (0)

    Mom’s Best Meatloaf

    Mom made several favorite dinners that we had on a regular basis. Meatloaf night was always one of our favorites. She usually served the meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green peas. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes are on my top 10 list for best "Comfort Foods".

    Serves 6-8


  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef (80% lean)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¼ cup instant oatmeal
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    Heat oil in a skillet, add onions and cook until softened.

    In a large bowl combine remaining ingredients including cooled onions. Gently mix to incorporate ingredients.

    Transfer mixture to a 9 inch round baking dish and press firmly into dish. Make a hole in the center of the meat mixture.

    In a small bowl, combine tomato sauce, brown sugar and vinegar and stir together. Pour the tomato sauce mixture into the hole of the meatloaf and over the top.

    Bake for 1 hour or until meat thermometer reaches 155 degrees.

    Allow to rest 15 minutes. Temperature should reach 160 degrees.

    Cooking Wiser:

    Don’t over work the meat mixture. It will result in a touch meatloaf.

    Use a combination of ground beef, ¾ pound 75% lean to add flavor and 90% lean to decrease calories

    Posted by terri at 01:56 AM | Comments (0)

    February 12, 2014

    Meatloaf with Fresh Scallions and Herbs

    Meatloaf, definitely an all time favorite "Comfort Food" can be just about anything you want it to be. I have several recipes and all of them are good in their own way. My mom's is most likely still my favorite but I will have to admit that this recipe is pretty darn good. It is made very flavorful with several wonderful herbs.

    Serves 8


  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ pound ground beef (80% lean)
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, preferably Hungarian
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 ½ cups homemade breadcrumbs, finely crushed
  • 1 cup scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup apricot jam, heated until the consistency of a sauce


    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring until softened.

    Combine the beef and pork in a large bowl and mix to combine. Add the cooled onion, paprika, salt and pepper and continue to blend. Add the eggs, breadcrumbs, scallions, sour cream, parsley, tomato paste, and herbs and stir until just incorporated.

    Test the meat mixture for the right texture by heating the remaining oil in the skillet over medium heat. Take a spoonful of the meat mixture and form into a patty. Cook on both size until done. Cool and taste. If it is too moist or dry to hold together adjust with additional breadcrumbs or a small amount of oil, respectively.

    Form the meat mixture into a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Cook about 30 minutes then remove and brush the top with the apricot jam and bake until the meat is firm and the internal temperature is 155 degrees F, about one hour. Allow to rest about 15 minutes before serving.

    I made this meatloaf in a muffin pan. This reduced the cooking time to about 20-25 minutes and made for a nice presentation.
    Serve with tomato jam

    Cooking Wiser:

    Use a combination of ground beef, 20% fat to increase flavor and 10-15% fat to decrease calories. Many other recipes will call for pork or veal. I decided to use a ground beef and pork combination for this recipe.

    The more moisture you can add, the better. Several ways include adding tomato sauce, bread soaked in milk, and/or sour cream.

    Because some don't like to see bread in their meatloaf soaking bread in milk before adding into the meat mixture is preferred. Otherwise, make sure the crumbs are finely crushed. Oatmeal is also a good choice.

    Don't over work the mixture, over mixing causes the meatloaf to be tough.

    Preheat oven and cook until center is about 50-55 degrees F.

    Allow the meatloaf to rest about 15 minutes before serving to allow juices to reabsorb and temperature to reach 160 degrees.

    You can add grated cheese or additional herbs to the top.

    Posted by terri at 03:07 AM | Comments (0)

    Comfort Food

    What comes to your mind when you think about comfort food? Is it something warm, sweet, richly flavored or is it something that brings back warm, fond memories; family dinners around the table, maybe a special dinner with that special someone. Whatever it is that warms you up on the inside, makes you feel good all over, I think you'll agree that my top 10 all time favorites should be on any comfort food list. You'll notice a theme going on here too. See if you can figure that one out.

    Meatloaf is definitely on my list. My mom's recipe is at the top of the list and it still remains one of my favorite meatloaf recipes.
    Mom's Best Meatloaf

    Just to mix it up a little I included another favorite meatloaf recipe. I hope it warms you up.
    Meatloaf with Scallions and Herbs

    Mashed Potatoes
    Add mashed potatoes to just about anything and you have a meal that will make you feel relaxed and satisfied and that is Comfort Food at its best. I've even been know to eat nothing but mashed potatoes for dinner!
    Traditional Mashed Potatoes

    Beef Stew
    Another truly fabulous Comfort Food is any type of beef stew. There are many recipes but one of my favorites is beef bourguignon

    Mac and Cheese
    A top 10 Comfort food list wouldn't be complete with out Mac and Cheese. Again there are so many recipes it is mind boggling. Dennis made this recipe one night and it had to be the best Mac and Cheese I've ever eaten.

    Chicken and Dumplings take me back to days in the kitchen with Granny Kate. She was a fantastic cook and she taught me a lot. One of the lessons was how to make slicks Chicken and Dumplings

    Most comfort food lists include a good bowl of spicy Chili. There are so many recipes out there but here is one that is easy to make and good enough to be on my top ten list!
    Chili will certainly warm you up on a cold winter night. Everyone loves a good bowl of chili.

    Apple Cobbler This recipe comes to mind probably because I remember having cobblers as a kid. We weren't allowed to have sweets very often since my dad is a dentist he was always trying to keep us out of the dental chair. But even he couldn't resist mom's apple cobblers, using apples right off his apple tree. And naturally I married someone who also loves apple desserts.
    Apple Cobbler

    Even the best Comfort Food needs a comfort drink and I will defer to Dennis for his favorite which happens to be Hot Chocolate
    This doesn't really call for a recipe. He uses a good quality hot chocolate mix, heats it with milk in the microwave and adds mini marshmallows. It warms you up from the inside out on a cold winter night. I am not into hot chocolate but love steamed milk. My favorite is with Amaretto and vanilla.

    A good Grilled Cheese Sandwich is a must on the list! I use a good quality loaf bread, two slices of American cheese and a little butter for the skillet. There are a lot of recipes that include this or that but this is the basic. Make a sandwich with the cheese in the middle, melt a little butter in the skillet and toast bread on both sides. You can add bacon, ham or even slices of tomato in with the cheese. If you are looking for creativity, think of other foods that you like to add cheese to. For example, eggs, chopped broccoli and even a good slice of avocado. Change the cheese to create your very own special grilled cheese sandwich.

    Who doesn't like Spaghetti? I've never seen anyone turn down a steaming hot bowl of pasta and delicious sauce. So Spaghetti has to be on the list. It is a great go to recipe when you want something quick and comforting. There are so many recipes for spaghetti that I decided to give you a basic recipe that you can add your favorite ingredients to depending on what you like.

    Last but not least is Fried Chicken. I always think of Granny Mae anytime I think about fried chicken. She was the master fryer and her recipe shows the love.
    Granny Mae's Fried Chicken

    Posted by terri at 03:01 AM | Comments (0)

    Warm Wine and Kirsch

    This Valentine’s Day you might need something to take the chill out and warm up the night. Try this delicious warm wine as an after dinner drink.

    A light wine such as a Pinot Noir is a good choice for the Warm Wine and Kirsch. You don't have to spend a lot on the wine and you can cut the recipe in half for two and save some for the next day.

    Kirsch is a clear brandy that is distilled from cherry juice and pits. It is often used in fondue.

    Serves 8


  • 2 bottles light-medium bodied red wine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 black peppercorns, crushed
  • 2 cardamom pods, crushed
  • One 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 clove, crushed
  • 1/2 cup kirsch


    In a large saucepan, combine the red wine with the sugar and the orange and lemon zests.

    Put the spices in a tea ball or wrap up in a square piece of cheesecloth and add to the saucepan. Bring the wine to a very slow simmer over moderate heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and continue to cook additional 20-30 minutes to allow flavors to develop.

    Remove from the heat, discard the tea ball and stir in the kirsch. Ladle the spiced wine into heatproof glasses and serve at once.

    Cooking Wiser:
    To develop the flavors even more, the spiced wine can be kept overnight at room temperature. Reheat before serving.

    Posted by terri at 02:53 AM | Comments (0)