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July 31, 2015

Tortellini in a Parmesan Cream Sauce

It amazes me how flavors come together to create a delicious recipe. I wanted a creamy sauce without all the calories so I used chicken broth as the base as in my Afredo sauce but this is even richer.

Evaporated milk is used to give it a creamy texture, providing only 2 grams of fat/serving.

Serves 4


4 cups chicken stock (I make my own)
1/2 onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon basil
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
1 pound fresh tortellini pasta


In a deep skillet combine chicken stock, onion, and garlic cloves. Cook on medium heat for 45 minutes.

Melt butter in microwave. Add flour and stir to incorporate to create a beurre manie. Whip beurre manie into chicken broth and continue to heat until thickened.

Reduce heat and add milk and basil. Heat another 4-5 minutes. Add tortellini and cheese. Turn off heat, cover with lid and allow to set for 10 minutes while the flavors develop.

Serve as a side dish or add salmon, beef or chicken.

Cooking Wiser

For a vegetarian dish: Omit the chicken stock and use 3 cups evaporated milk. Heat the milk and whip in the beurre manie and continue to heat until thickened. Add the basil and continue with the recipe above.

Posted by terri at 03:58 AM | Comments (0)

July 30, 2015

Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo Wiser Style

I modified the traditional Fettuccini Alfredo recipe mainly because I never really liked the thick, heavy version. This one has less calories and fat and the fresh herbs enhance the flavors making it a wiser choice.

Serves 6-8

1 lb. Fettuccini dry pasta
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoons flour (beurre manie)
1/3 cup 2% milk
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (oregano, parsley)
1/4 tsp. white or black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups chicken, cooked


Heat oil over medium heat, sauté garlic

In a large saucepan, bring chicken broth to a simmer over moderate heat.

Stir in beurre manie and cook until thickened

Add milk and garlic and turn heat to low. Season to taste with salt and pepper

Add herbs and continue to cook

Meanwhile prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain

Add pasta noodles to sauce and stir until well blended.

When sauce is thick and creamy add chicken and heat through.

Top with Parmesan

Posted by terri at 02:20 PM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2015

Crunchy Cereal Mix

Make this snack on a rainy day and store in an air tight container. Dip out a cup and put into a separate container for the day. Great for a quick, healthy snack on the go.

Makes about 10 cups


5 cups Crispix cereal
2 cups chow mein noodles
1 cup honey roasted (or plain) peanuts
¼ (1/2 stick) cup butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 cup raisins


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Combine cereal, noodles and peanuts into a large bowl.

Melt butter in microwave, add soy sauce and salt. Pour butter mixture over cereal mixture and toss to coat.

Bake on baking sheet until golden about 15 minutes, stirring once after 5-7 minutes to prevent sticking. Remove from oven, add raisins.

Allow to cool. Store in airtight container.

Cooking Wiser

Decrease calories and fat but using olive oil to replace the butter.

If raisins are not a family favorite, use crasins or just omit.

Posted by terri at 08:54 PM | Comments (0)

Super Duper Taco Pie

Tacos are a favorite for the whole family. Use ground beef, ground turkey or even cubed pre-cooked chicken. You can even make a kid's version and a parent's version.

Serves 4


½ pound ground turkey or beef
1 package taco seasoning
1 jar salsa
2 large flour tortillas
1 cup Colby Jack cheese or cheddar, shredded
1 green onion, thinly sliced (optional)
2 cups iceberg lettuce, shredded
½ cup sour cream

Instructions :

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of a round baking dish (pie dish).

In a medium skillet cook ground meat, breaking it up until cooked completely. Add taco mix and cook according to directions.

Remove pan from heat and stir in one cup of the salsa.

Place one tortilla in prepared baking dish. Spoon turkey mixture evenly over tortillas. Sprinkle with ½ of cheese and green onions if desired. Top with other tortilla. Add remaining salsa, cheese, and green onions to top. Bake for 20 minutes, until cheese melts and meat is bubbly.

Remove and garnish top with lettuce and sour cream. Cut into wedges and serve.

Cooking Wiser:
Reserve a few of the onions and cheese as toppings and let the kids top their own taco. Getting them involved is a great way to inspire them to try new foods.

Add refried beans, sautéed onions, sweet bell peppers and jalapenos to one half of the taco for the parents or to both sides if the kids are adventurous. Or make two tacos!

To cut calories, use low fat sour cream

Important Fact: Children need a certain amount of fat in their diet. Fat is important for proper growth and development. Fat helps children absorb vitamins, is a source for energy and helps them maintain healthy skin and hair. Ask your pediatrician what they would recommend for your child.

Posted by terri at 07:34 PM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2015

Basil Encrusted Salmon in a Grand Marnier Sauce

This recipe uses left over Basil Encrusted Salmon from a previous night's dinner. You can freeze the salmon and use next week or refrigerate and make the sauce within a few days.
Since the salmon is coated with basil pesto, the preparation for the sauce is simple.

Serves 4


2 cups half and half
4 tablespoons butter
1tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup basil encrusted salmon, bite size pieces
2 cups cooked pasta, medium width egg noodles or penne (any pasta will work for this recipe)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, optional
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier


Heat milk, 4 T butter and sugar in a deep saute pan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts. Gently simmer.

Melt 2 T butter and flour in microwave. Whisk flour mixture into milk. Continue to cook until sauce thickens.

Add salmon, Grand Marnier and season with salt and pepper to taste. If sauce needs more flavor, add lemon juice.

Add al dente egg noodles to the pan and toss to coat the noodles with the sauce. Serve with steamed broccoli or sautéed zucchini (as I did) and crusty bread.

Cooking Wiser
To decrease calories and fat, use 2% milk but for a richer sauce use either heavy cream or half and half.

Use salt carefully. It will be dependent on the saltiness of the pesto

If serving broccoli as a side, save time by adding 2-3 cups to the pasta during the last few minutes of cooking. The time will depend on how soft you want the broccoli.

Posted by terri at 03:33 AM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2015

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

There are so many versions of this recipe but this one is simple to make and takes less than 15 minutes hands on time. You can also make the recipe your own by adding or changing a few ingredients.

Serves 4-6


2 cups cooked chicken
4 oz. sour cream
1 cup broccoli, roughly chopped
1 can condensed chicken or celery soup
2 cups cooked egg noodles
2 cups crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons butter, melted


In a medium bowl, mix together sour cream, soup and chicken. Toss in noodles. Pour into a 9 x 9 baking dish.

Mix together crackers and butter. Top casserole evenly with cracker mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbly. Let sit about 15 minutes before serving.

Cooking Wiser
To decrease calories, use fat free soup and light sour cream
To add more flavor, add 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite fresh herb(s). I
like rosemary and thyme.
Add 2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese when you add the noodles.
Use sliced almonds to replace the crackers- Gluten free.
If you like the broccoli more tender, add it to the cooking pasta the last 3 or 4 minutes before chopping. Allow to cool for chopping.

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

July 20, 2015

July 2015 Wine Dinner

All about Pizza and Wine
But not your average pizza, these were gourmet and delicious!

Pizza #1
The base was home made pesto, layered with thinly sliced zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms and red pepper that were marinated overnight in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, pepper and onion powder. The pizza was topped with goat cheese.

It was paired with a Hugl Gruner Veltliner white wine from Austria.

The aromas of citrus and grapefruit with a refreshing minerality makes this a very versatile food wine. The pairing was good but it did not wow me. Actually the salad that was served was a much better pairing with this Gruner, it wowed me. The crisp lettuce greens were dressed with a citrus vinaigrette.

The pizza crust was home made, a lot of love went into this pizza. The toppings included roasted broccoli, red sweet onion and red bell pepper all smothered with Fontina cheese.

This pizza was paired with the above Domaine de la Mordoree Tavel Rosé wine, a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Cinsault. The wine had aromas of red berry fruit with flavors of strawberry and aniseed.

The pairing was very good, the wine's crisp flavors worked so well with the Fontina cheese.

Pizza #3
The pizza was a spicy Thai with pulled pork, onions and a spicy sauce.

It was served with a Shortcake Zinfandel from Lodi California. The jammy, peppery flavors in the Zinfandel created a very nice pairing with the pizza.

Pizza #4
This pizza was loaded with flavor. I must admit, I was very full but I really enjoyed the pork and blackberry sauce that was featured in this pizza.

The wine pairing was a Meiomi Pinot Noir. The sweet flavors in the wine complimented the blackberry sauce very well.

Pizza #5
We finally did get around to a more traditional pizza, complete with pepperoni, rich tomato sauce and lots of yummy gooey cheese.

And yes the pairing was a delicious Italian Banfi Chianti Classico. It was a perfect Italian delight.

Pizza #6
The dessert pizza was the grand finale. It was fabulous and the wine pairing was equally delicious, a bubbly Italian Prosecco. The rule is to make sure the wine is sweeter than the dessert and this was perfect. The pizza crust was a sugar cookie iced with a sweet cream cheese spread all topped with fresh wonderful seasonal fruit, including blueberries and strawberries.

Posted by terri at 02:10 AM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2015

Buttermilk Scones

This is my favorite recipe for scones. It is from Baking with Julie Child's cook book- my favorite baking reference.

Get creative and make cinnamon or blueberry scones from this recipe.
See how...

Buttermilk Scones
Makes 12 triangular scones


3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks (6 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon grated lemon or orange zest

½ stick butter, melted for brushing
¼ cup sugar for dusting


Put the flour, baking powder, soda, sugar and salt into a large bowl and stir to just mix. Add the butter and cut it into the flour making little crumbs, a few larger pieces are okay. Add the buttermilk and zest. Stir with a fork to moisten the flour. The dough will be sticky.

Flour a work surface and your hands. Scoop the dough out of the bowl and drop it onto the work surface. Knead the dough about 3-4 times and pat the dough into a 9 inch circle or square about 1 inch thick. Cut the scones out according to the size you want. If you want thicker scones roll out a small circle.

Brush with the butter and sprinkle with sugar.

Transfer the scones to a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until they are golden on top. Do not overcook, they will be too dry.

Get creative:
Add 1/3 cup fresh or dried fruit after you add the milk. Blueberries are one of my favorites.
Or add cinnamon to the dusting sugar and add 1 teaspoon cinnamon to the dry ingredients.

Posted by terri at 07:35 PM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2015

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

The Italians call this wonderful appetizer Bruschetta al Pomodoro. Seasonal tomatoes and good olive oil are a must for making this topping. I prefer good ripe Roma tomatoes for their texture and they have fewer seeds. Tomato seeds can be a little bitter so try to remove as many as possible.

When it comes to olive oil that will be added for flavor as in this recipe, make sure it is good olive oil. You'll have to spend a little more but you won't use it in large quantities.

There are specifics for preparing the basil and garlic too...

Serves 6


1 loaf Italian bread, sliced into ½ inch rounds
2 Garlic cloves, minced
5 plum tomatoes, diced small
4 tablespoons Extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, sliced into ribbons


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, and basil to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature while you toast the bread.

Place bread on baking sheet in a single layer. Toast in the oven until golden brown about 5 minutes. Top the bread with tomatoes and drizzle with remaining extra-virgin olive oil right before serving.

Garnish with additional basil leaf if desired.

Serve with a crisp Italian white wine or a lighter style Chianti.

Cooking Wiser:
Finely chop the garlic for a more delicate flavor. Minced garlic from a garlic press for example, creates stronger flavors that are better for soups and heavy meat dishes.

To help in maintaining the bright green basil color gently tear the basil, don't chop with a knife.

And please use in season, fresh tomatoes when possible. Otherwise use a good quality canned diced tomato.

Posted by terri at 03:33 AM | Comments (0)

July 15, 2015

Barbeque Pork Sandwiches

Cooking Wiser Tips:

  • Use the left overs you saved from the roasted pork with western dry rub dinner
  • Top sandwiches with Cole slaw or serve on side
  • Melt smoked gouda cheese over the top bun

    Serves 4


    2 cups cooked shredded pork
    ½ cup prepared barbeque sauce
    Couple drops liquid smoke
    4 slices smoked gouda or cheddar cheese (optional)
    4 hamburger buns or slider buns, toasted with cheese if desired

    Instructions :

    Place sauce in small saucepan and add liquid smoke. Heat sauce on stove until bubbly. Heat pork in microwave until warm. Add pork equally to bottom half of each bun, top with sauce and slaw. Melt cheese on top bun under the broiler. Top the sandwich and serve.

    Serve with carrot sticks or oven baked fries

    Posted by terri at 03:09 AM | Comments (0)

    Italian Style Chicken

    Cooking Wiser Tips for this recipe:

  • Use bone in chicken thighs for more flavor
  • Purchase chicken without the skin if possible to avoid paying for the extra weight
  • Save money, don’t use zip lock bags, foil or plastic. Use dishes and cooking pans with lids; easy cleanup via the dishwasher
  • Don’t salt marinade, it will cause the meat to be less juicy
  • Save time, use a slow cooker. To add more color, brown the chicken on each side in a sauté pan with 2 tablespoons cooking oil Then add to slow cooker with marinade and 1/2 cup chicken broth

    Serves 4


    6 bone-in chicken legs or thighs, skin removed
    1/3 Cup Italian dressing (can use low fat)
    1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1/4 teaspoon onion powder
    Kosher salt and pepper


    Place chicken and Italian dressing in a 9 x 9 roasting pan with lid or cover with plate.

    Marinate at least one hour or overnight.

    To cook: Pre-heat the oven to 425.

    Combine paprika, garlic onion powder, salt and pepper and mix well.

    Season chicken with paprika mixture.

    Roast chicken 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees. Cover chicken with lid, cook an additional 20-25 minutes depending on the size of your thighs (well not your thighs but the chicken thighs), until the juices run clear and meat is fork tender.

    If the liquid in the pan is drying up add enough (hot) water to cover bottom of pan.

    Posted by terri at 02:21 AM | Comments (0)

    July 10, 2015

    Chicken Piccata and White Wine

    I made a few changes to my favorite Chicken Piccata recipe for today's wine pairing. The wine is a 2014 Domaine Lafage Centenaire from Cotes Du Languedoc-Roussillon region in Southern France.

    This region is actually separated by geography with Languedoc's vineyards mostly located on coastal plains and those of Roussillon are either perched on cliff tops or nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees, one of the reasons why the area produces such a variety of wines.

    The Lafage Centenaire is a 80% Grenache Blanc,20% Roussanne blend with citrus fruit and melon flavors. The acidity and slight sweetness compliment the lemon flavors in the chicken.

    Serves 4-6


    2 lemons
    4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
    1/2 cup all purpose flour
    Kosher salt and pepper to taste
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    1 small shallot, minced
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1 cup semi dry white wine, (I used Riesling)
    3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced


    Adjust oven rack to lower middle position. Heat oven to 200 degrees
    Halve 1 lemon lengthwise. Trim ends from 1 half and slice crosswise no more than 1/4 inch thick; set aside. Juice remaining half and whole lemon to obtain 1/4 cup juice; set aside

    Place flour in shallow dish. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Working with 2 of the breasts at a time, dredge in the flour mixture, shaking off excess and transfer to cutting board and cut chicken into 2 inch cubes.

    Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Place half of the chicken in skillet and cook until lightly browned on first side, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Flip and cook until second side is lightly browned, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes longer; transfer to platter in oven. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to now empty skillet and repeat with remaining chicken. Remove chicken to plate while making the sauce.

    Add garlic to now empty skillet and cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in wine and lemon slices, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to simmer and cook until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 4 minutes.

    Stir in lemon juice, bring to simmer and cook until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 1 minute. Off heat, add butter and whisk until butter melts and thickens sauce. Stir in parsley. Add chicken to sauce and continue to heat on low for about 5 minutes. Serve with pasta or rice.

    Posted by terri at 01:33 PM | Comments (0)

    July 03, 2015

    All American Barbeque

    My version of the traditional hamburgers and hotdogs includes setting up a burger slider bar and replacing hotdogs with sausage dogs.
    Once the burgers are done, set them out with different toppings. Favorites for the 4th of July include tomato (red), Onions (white) and blue cheese- you get the idea. Other toppings could include pickles, different cheeses such as fontina or pepper jack and lettuce.

    Grill up your favorite American sausage, I'm using 4-Star Smoked Sausage, made in Georgia and serve it as an appetizer by cutting into bite size slices. Serve with different dipping sauces. My sauces will include barbeque, sweet mustard and cheddar cheese.

    Join us at Ashes Wine and Spirits July 3 from 4:00-6:00 for Sliders and Sausage. Wine tasting will include our favorite Red (Zinfandel) and Summer White. All we need is something Blue.

    Hamburger Sliders

    Makes 24 sliders


    2 pounds ground chuck
    1 small onion, finely minced
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    Kosher salt
    Black Pepper
    24 slider buns
    4-5 Roma tomatoes, sliced enough for 24 sliders
    3 small onions, finely sliced
    6 ounces blue cheese


    Combine ground chuck, onion, garlic, salt and pepper and gently mix. Shape into 24 slider size burgers and press in the center. Cook on medium heat grill until juices run clear and burgers are done about 3-5 minutes per side. Top with cheese

    Remove from grill to a plate. Add toppings and serve on buns.

    Cooking Wiser Tips:

    For best results, don't overwork the ground chuck, it will result in a tough burger. Make a little depression in the center of the burgers to keep them flat.
    Don't overcook, the burgers will be dry.

    Posted by terri at 03:47 AM | Comments (0)