Sunday, May 29, 2011

Italian-style Cauliflower

My mom used to make this cauliflower growing up and you know if a kid loves cauliflower, it must be pretty good. She found the recipe years ago in a cookbook she picked up on a trip to Italy, so it's authentic! It's a great side dish, and easy enough to not interfere with your time spent on the main dish.

Italian-style Cauliflower

Cauliflower florets cut from a whole head
1 T margarine
2 T olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
1/8 c chopped parsley or a few T of dried
1/4 c ketchup
1/3 c water

Place margarine, olive oil, garlic, and parsley into a skillet. Saute garlic. Add cauliflower and let simmer a few minutes until sauteed, while continuing to stir. Mix ketchup and water in a small dish and then add to skillet. Let simmer covered, until cauliflower is thoroughly cooked, turning florets until coated.

Polish Cabbage Rolls

These are also referred to as Galumpkis. My grandma and mom used to make these growing up, although this is not their recipe. It came out pretty close to what I remember though and this is what I've been using for years. I don't remember where I found it originally; it's been a while, but it's fairly standard.

Polish Cabbage Rolls

1 green cabbage
1 lb. ground beef, browned
3/4 - 1 c rice, cooked
1 egg beaten
1 onion, minced fine
1 carrot, minced fine
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 c cider vinegar
1/2 c brown sugar
8 oz can tomato sauce

Mix ground beef, rice, egg, onion, carrot, salt and pepper. Mix together vinegar, brown sugar and tomato sauce. Drop cabbage in boiling water for 5-10minutes. Remove 10 large leaves. Chop remaining cabbage. Place in bottom of large glass baking dish. Place 2-4 T of meat mixture in center of each leaf. Roll up by folding top flap over meat mixture then sides, and rolling down the length of the leaf. Place stem side down in pan and pour tomato mixture on top. Place in 350 oven for half hour or until hot and bubbly.

Stuffed Shells

This is my mom's recipe which was relayed over the phone the other day. When she told me she was making these for dinner, I had a flashback to her good cooking and had to satisfy my craving. I ran out to the store and grabbed a box of pasta shells and some ground beef. She usually makes it with half ground beef and half italian / pork sausage, but this time I only used beef. You can also use half beef, half ground pork. Turned out SO yummy!

Stuffed Shells

1 box of large pasta shells
1 - 1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
salt and pepper
1 slice bread
fresh basil
dried parsley
about a 1/4 c shredded Parmesan cheese
1 (26.5 oz.) can Hunt's or Dole pasta sauce
Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
1-2 cloves garlic, diced fine
2 eggs

Cook shells according to package directions and rinse with cool water.

Brown ground beef (and sausage if you're halving it) and garlic in cast iron skillet until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Place slice of bread in milk to soak through, but not dripping wet. Tear apart completely and combine with beef. Add in fresh basil and parsley to taste. Add Parmesan and eggs and mix until combined. Sprinkle enough bread crumbs to soak up a bit of the moisture, but not leaving it dry.

Ball up meat mixture and stuff into cooked shells. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in a glass baking dish coated with non-stick spray. Lay shells in dish, spooning a bit of the remaining tomato sauce on top of each shell.

Bake in a 350 oven about 1/2 hour or until hot and bubbly.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Chinese Almond Cookies

I originally tried these cookies, the peanut version, from a coworker from Singapore. They were so dainty and sweet. And so addictive I couldn't stop eating them! Found this version on

Chinese Almond Cookies

- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter (melted)
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (or vegetable oil)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
- 1/8 cup chopped almonds (or 24 whole almonds)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
2. In a medium bowl, mix the butter, vegetable shortening, and sugar.
3. When the butter mixture is well combined, add the egg and almond extract and beat until well blended.
4. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix well.
5. Use your hands to form the mixture into a dough.
Wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour (or freeze for 10 minutes). This is so that it the dough will be easier to work with and mold.
6. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Take dough and using mini scooper, scoop out a flattened top scoop. Split scoop in half and roll in palms to form a ball.
Press with thumb down on tray, placing each approximately 1 1/2 inches apart.
9. Place chopped raw almonds in the center of each cookie and press down lightly.
10. Repeat with the remaining dough. Brush each cookie lightly with beaten egg before baking.
11. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Strip Steak with Ginger Butter Sauce

I found this recipe in "America's Test Kitchen - The Best Simple Recipes" cookbook. I picked up a few strip steaks sliced thin from the Mexican Meat Market nearby - the ones they use for carne asada- unseasoned. They worked well and cooked up quickly. I served it with some steamed fresh green beans and sliced sun-dried tomato polenta fried in the same pan.

Strip Steak with Ginger Butter Sauce

3 strip steaks
1 t Chinese five-spice powder
1 T vegetable oil
3 T unsalted butter
2 T grated fresh ginger
1/2 c water
4 t soy sauce

Pat steaks dry with paper towels and season with five-spice powder and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook steaks until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to cutting board and tent with foil.

Melt butter in empty skillet. Add ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in water and soy sauce, scraping up any browned bits. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Slice steaks and drizzle with butter mixture.

Foil-Baked Chicken with Black Beans and Corn

I found this recipe in "America's Test Kitchen- The Best Simple Recipes" cookbook. It was written for fish, but I adapted it to chicken by foil wrapping the chicken alone and cooking the beans and corn separate. Turned out delicious both ways! Be careful not to use too much of the chipotle chiles! They are HOT! But used in moderation, it adds a great flavor.

Foil-Baked Chicken with Black Beans and Corn

4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
4 T unsalted butter, softened
2 t minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1/4 t grated zest and 2 T juice from 1 orange
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (16 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups corn kernels fresh from cob
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Using fork, beat butter, 1 t chipotle, orange zest, half of garlic, 1/2 t salt , and 1/4 t pepper in bowl until combined. Spread butter mix over tops of breasts.

Combine beans, corn, 2 T cilantro, orange juice, remaining garlic, 1/2 t salt, and 1/4 t pepper in bowl. Place in microwave for a few minutes, stirring in the middle. If using fish for this recipe, you can place the veggies underneath the fish when wrapped up to place in the oven.

Lay four 14" lengths of foil on counter and place chicken on top. Fold foil over chicken, folding edges to seal. Arrange packets in single layer on rimmed baking sheet and bake until chicken is just cooked through, 50-60 minutes. If using fish, should only take 15-20 minutes at 450' oven.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fudgy Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies

I found this recipe on a blog ( linked to They were just so pretty looking with their shiny and perfectly cracked tops. Well the recipe did not disappoint. They were chewy and delicious and turned out just like the picture. Great combination of fudge with butterscotch.

Fudgy Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies

8 oz. semisweet chocolate
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2/3 cup PLUS 3 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp salt
1/2 cup fat free egg substitute
1/2 cup PLUS 2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Heat the chocolate
and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 20-second intervals, stirring in between, until almost melted; do not overheat since chocolate burns easily. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; beat in the melted chocolate. Mix in the flour mixture until
just combined. Stir in the butterscotch chips. If you think your dough is too runny or soft do not worry. Refrigerate the dough for about 15 minutes and it will turn into the right consistency.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 to 3 inches apart onto the baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in centers, about 12 to 14 minutes total. (
Do NOT overbake these, as these cookies can easily become dry.) Cool on sheets 10 minutes; with a spatula, carefully transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mini Chimichurri Burgers (aka Pujol Burgers)

During one of my trips home to visit my family, I found this recipe in a Dierberg's flyer (a local St. Louis grocery store). Turned out Albert Pujols wife, Deidre, is a great cook! She was featured in this particular issue with her fantastic burger recipe. I've made it umpteen times it's soooo wonderful! Must try! You can use the Hawaiian pull apart rolls or they also make regular bun size ones (the mini-ness of the burger should be parallel).

Mini Chimichurri Burgers

1 package angel hair cole slaw
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
1/4 c chopped cilantro
1/4 c chopped onion
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp seasoned salt (like Lawry's)
2 tsp fresh lime juice
Hawaiian Rolls (must get these sweet rolls, no substitute!)
avocado, tomato slices, ketchup, mustard, mayo

Bring pot of water to a boil. Add cabbage, remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes. Mix beef with egg, cilantro, onion, chili powder, cumin, seasoned salt, and lime juice. Mix, shape into patties and grill 2-3 min per side. Top burgers with avocado, tomato, cole slaw, etc.

Pilaf with Chicken, Spinach, and Walnuts

This recipe came out of the cookbook The Best of Cooking Light - Everyday Favorites. It had everything great all in one bowl--meat, greens, tomatoes, carbs, and a little nuttiness. I was nervous about the dill, since it's not one of my favorite herbs because it can easily be overpowering. But alas! I could hardly taste it! In fact, if you don't want to spend the couple bucks just for 2 T, I'd say you could even eliminate it. Great dish!

Pilaf with Chicken, Spinach, and Walnuts

1 1/2 T olive oil, divided
1 c chopped onion
1 1/2 c uncooked basmati rice
1 c diced plum tomato (I used a can of petite cut)
1 can (14 oz.) chicken broth (although I probably added 2 cans by the end)
1 stick cinnamon (about 3")
1 package fresh baby spinach
2 c chopped roasted skinless chicken breasts (I used a rotisserie chicken to cut prep time)
1/2 c coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1 T finely chopped fresh dill

Heat 1 T oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; saute 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in rice; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 1/2 tsp oil, tomato, salt, broth, and cinnamon stick; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. May need to add more broth to cook rice through.

Stir in spinach; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Stir in chicken. Sprinkle evenly with walnuts and dill. Discard cinnamon stick.

Devils Food Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

I found the cupcake recipe from one of my favorite blogs, I used the chocolate cake recipe and then paired it with an old-time marshmallow frosting recipe I found in an antique cookbook, Ryzon Baking Book. Ryzon was a baking powder brand back when and they published this hardcover book in 1918. The cakes were a breeze, but the frosting required a little patience. The gooeyness of the marshmallows made it difficult to work with and I had to rewarm midway through icing, but the taste was yummy!!!

Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake

makes 24 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Measure out everything but the eggs directly into your mixer bowl.
2. Mix on low speed just until incorporated.
3. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes.
4. Add eggs, beat on high speed again for 2 minutes.

Measure out into cupcake pan lined with cupcake papers. A 2″ ice cream scoop works great for this. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool slightly in the pan then transfer to a rack to cool completely before frosting.

Ryzon Marshmallow Frosting

40 (1/2 lb.) marshmallows
1 c sugar
1 c water
1 egg white
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp orange extract (I used orange juice)

Melt marshmallows in double boiler. Cook sugar and water until it reaches 240'F with a candy thermometer. Pour on to the stiffly beaten white of egg mixed with the baking powder, add melted marshmallows, flavoring, and beat until of consistency to spread.


I found this recipe on a blog I like to follow, The cookies turned out great--flaky and light--and were super easy to whip up. And special thanks to my sister for the b-day gift, some colorful dishes to display my goodies on! She was getting tired of seeing the same blue and white dishes on my blog all the time :)


1/2 cups butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar

2 eggs
2 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

2 3/4 - 3 cups flour

2 TBSP sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

In a small bowl mix together 2 TBSP sugar and cinnamon. Set aside. Cream together butter, shortening and sugar. Add in eggs and beat well. Mix in remaining ingredients. Roll dough into small balls and roll in sugar/cinnamon mixture. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.