Archive for the 'Recipes' Category

Banana Bread Heaven

Sunday, March 4th, 2007

Yesterday I wrote that I planned to make banana bread (recipe included) today.  I did, and I am now firmly entrenched in banana bread heaven.  The house smells WONDERFUL, and the banana bread tastes even better than it smells.   Warm banana bread, a glass of cold milk - Life doesn’t get any better.   AHHHHHHHHHHH!

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Banana Bread – delicious and moist!

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

When I was preparing dinner tonight, I noticed that the bananas I’d bought last week were still in the fruit tray – and decidedly over-ripe.  I immediately thought, “Yea!  I’ll make some banana bread!”  So tomorrow afternoon, I will use the following recipe to make the best banana bread I’ve ever tasted.  I got this recipe from my niece, Naomi.

Banana Bread

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup margarine

2 eggs

1/2 cup sour milk (add 1 tsp. white vinegar to fresh milk and let it stand 10 minutes)

1 tsp. baking soda

2 cups flour

4 mashed over ripe bananas

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup nuts or chocolate chips (optional)

Cream sugar and margarine.  Then add eggs, milk, soda, flour and vanilla.  Mix well.  Add bananas and nuts.  Pour into 2 greased and floured loaf pans and let stand 20 minutes. 

Bake at 325 for 50 minutes.  Check doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center.  If the toothpick comes out clean, the banana bread is done.

Options:  You can use 1 1/2 cups applesauce instead of the bananas.  You can also use crushed pineapple, crushed cranberries or almost any soft fruit.

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The Easiest Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

I got this recipe from my sister, Joan, and the biscuits are delicious.  If I have buttermilk on hand, I use that instead of regular milk.  The biscuits are good either way.  And they’re so easy.  There are just three ingredients, you can mix it with a spoon, and then the oil makes it where you can shape the dough into balls with your hands without it sticking to your fingers.  Easy, quick and delicious. 

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups sifted self-rising flour

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup milk (or buttermilk)

Combine the milk and oil.  Add the milk/oil mixture to the flour.  Stir until the flour is mixed in. 

Pinch off and shape biscuits into balls.  Flatten each ball of dough with your hand or the bottom of a glass.  You could roll out the dough on a floured board and cut the biscuits with a cookie/biscuit cutter, if you prefer.

Bake at 475 degrees for about 10 minutes.

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Ruth’s Cucumber & Cream Cheese Sandwiches

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

It’s time for another recipe.  I love posting recipes because I only post recipes that are really tried and true and delicious!  

This is my mother’s recipe for cucumber/cream cheese sandwiches.  She cuts these into circles or other shapes for special occasions – like a wedding reception, a luncheon, a bridal or baby shower.  Everytime I’ve made them, people have asked for the recipe.  They’re light-tasting and really REALLY good.


2 (3 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese

2 Tablespoons grated onion

2 Tablespoons sour cream

2 medium cucumbers (peeled, grated and drained)

salt and white pepper to taste

bread slices

green food coloring (optional – just a drop or two to make the mixture a very pale green)

Combine all ingredients (except the bread slices) to make the filling.  Stir until smooth.  Cut thin slices of bread into the desired shapes and Spread with the filling and top with another slice of bread.  I usually spread the mixture on the bread first and make a sandwich – and then use a cookie cutter or knife to cut it into shapes.  Most of the time I cut off the crusts and then slice diagonally to make two triangles.  These sandwiches look very pretty, too.

The mix yields about two cups of filling.  How many sandwiches that makes depends on how much filling you put in each sandwich.

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Omelets in a bag

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

Great recipe for a no-mess, individualized omelet.

Omelets in a Bag

For each omelet:  Crack 2 eggs into a quart-size Ziplock bag.  Shake to combine.  Add other ingredients as desired:  shredded cheese, chopped ham, onion, green pepper, tomato, hash browns, salsa.  Salt/pepper to taste. 

Each person prepares his/her bag with his/her favorite ingredients.   If you’re making several, you can write the person’s name on the outside of the bag with a permanent marker.

Shake each bag well.  Make sure to get the air out of the bag and zip it up.  Place the bags into rapidly boiling water for  exactly 13 minutes.  If it’s a large pot, you can cook 4-6 omelets at a time.

After 13 minutes, remove the bags carefully from the water, open the bags, and the omelets will roll out easily. 

I’ve tried these a couple times, and they’re really good.  Serve with some fresh fruit or pastry – and you’ve got a great breakfast.  It would be rather cool to do this with guests, too.

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Monkey Bread

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

Here’s an easy recipe for Monkey Bread


1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

2 cans refrigerated biscuit dough

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat over to 350.  Spray a small bundt pan with Pam.  You can use a loaf pan or cake pan instead of the bundt pan, if you prefer.  

Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a plastic food bag.

Separate the biscuits, and then cut each one into quarters.  Place the biscuit pieces in the bag with the sugar and cinnamon.  Shake to coat well.  Then place the coated biscuit pieces in the pan.

Mix the brown sugar and melted butter.  Pour over the biscuit pieces.

Bake for approx. 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool in pan for about 10 minutes.  Then invert onto a plate.  Serve warm.  You just pull apart however much you want to eat. Makes 6 servings.

This makes a great dish to take to a morning meeting.

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Chicken Rice Soup – Guaranteed to make you feel better when you’re sick

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

I made chicken rice soup last night, and it was really good.  I didn’t follow a particular recipe.  I just added what I had on hand that sounded good.   This is virtually fat-free and is just oozing with good health.   Here’s what I did:

Chicken-Rice Soup

1 boneless/skinless chicken breast

2 boneless/skinless chicken thighs (I like using some dark meat because it is more flavorful than the white meat and seems to make for tastier soups and stews)

1 can chicken broth

grated carrots (about a cup)

1 large onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/4 cup each of diced green, yellow and red peppers

parsley (to taste – probably a couple tablespoons)

poultry seasoning (to taste – about a teaspoon)

salt and pepper (to taste)

1/4 cup brown rice, uncooked

In a large pot, cover the chicken breasts well with water and cook over medium/high heat.  As the chicken is starting to cook, slice/dice/shred the vegetables and add to the pot. 

Add all the other ingredients, except the rice.

Once the chicken is well cooked, remove it from the pot.  Once it has cooled, either shred or chop it.  Then return the chicken to the pot.   Bring the chicken and vegetables to a strong boil.

Add the rice, turn the heat to low, cover the pot and cook until the rice is tender.  Serve with crackers or cornbread.

You can also add a can of diced tomatoes to the soup for a little flavor.  I love tomatoes, and so that’s what I did yesterday, and the soup is REALLY good.  However, it would have been just as good without them – just good in a different way.

If you like soup with a thicker broth, you can add a teaspoon or two of EITHER corn starch of all-purpose flour to thicken it.  Some people add a couple tablespoons of instant potato flakes to thicken a soup.  It’s good whether or not you thicken the broth.

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McDonald’s coffee wins against Starbucks

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

I knew it! A recent Consumer Reports study described Starbuck’s coffee as “strong, but burnt and bitter.”  For me, despite Starbucks supposedly large donations to leftist causes, I do visit there occasionally.  However, I can’t stomach their coffee.  No amount of cream and sugar can make it palatable to me.  It’s too strong and too bitter – even the milder blends.  So instead of coffee, I order drinks like “white chocolate mochas” or “vanilla lattes.”   In the summer I adore their “mocha frappuchinos.”  It’s ridiculously expensive, though.  So I don’t indulge very often.

And however good McDonalds coffee is, I just don’t go by McDonalds very often – and almost never for breakfast.  So I have no idea whether or not I like their coffee.  McDonalds is McDonalds.  It might not be top cuisine, but it is dependable for one area of the country to the other.  The Quarter Pounder you get in Tennessee will be like the Quarter Pounder you get in Alaska.  And I’m sure the coffee is the same way.  They have a specific way of brewing the coffee – and a specific type of coffee – and it is made the same way in every McDonalds.

Here’s what the report concluded:

After sampling four leading brewed coffees for its March issue, the magazine said McDonald’s premium roast coffee bested competing cups from Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks, the world’s largest specialty coffee retailer.

The tastings were led by a professional tester, and included staffers from Consumer Reports’ food-testing division, spokeswoman Heather Joy Thompson said.

The group tasted medium cups of coffee – no cream or sugar – at two locations from each company in November. They rated McDonald’s premium brand the best, calling it “decent and moderately strong” although lacking “subtle top notes.”

Others didn’t fare so well. Dunkin Donuts’ coffee was deemed “inoffensive, but it had no oomph.” Starbucks was labeled “strong, but burnt and bitter.” Burger King’s offering resembled coffee, “but tasted more like hot water,” the magazine said.

My favorite is still my Keurig one-cup-at-a-time coffee maker that I use to make my two-cup serving of coffee every morning. It really doesn’t get any better than that.  I brew two cups from one Green Mountain Breakfast blend K-cup, add ridiculously large amounts of Splenda and non-fat creamer, and then relish every single sip.  Neither McDonalds nor Starbucks can come anywhere close to matching that taste.

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The Dinner A’Fare – Take Two

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

I made twelve meals at our local A Dinner A’Fare last month, and tomorrow evening I will do it again.  Twelve new meals.  I still have two meals from last month in the freezer.  I gave last month’s meals a mixed review – and I even wrote about what I would do differently this time.  However, for the most part, the meals were very good, and I want to try it again.  I will do things a little differently tomorrow evening, though

(1) I will write down all the ingredients – the recipe – for each dish as I assemble it.  This past month I realized that I had forgotten what was in the various dishes, and it was a lot of trouble to look up the blog post describing the dishes.  So I’ll write it all down this time and put it with the food.

(2) Before I package the ingredients I will make sure I understand how the meal will be cooked so that I package things properly.  I messed up a couple meals by not cooking them correctly.  Nothing major – just not dusting the meat with flour prior to adding it to the pan – little things like that.  I do a lot of cooking, and so I have to believe that the directions that The Dinner A’Fare provide should probably be a little clearer. 

That’s it.  No major changes.  I’ll take a cooler to transport the meals home, and I’ll have a good time making the meals.  However, neither my daughter nor my daughter-in-law can join me tomorrow.  So I won’t have as good a time as I did in December.

I enjoyed writing the brief review of each meal last month as I cooked them.  So I will do that again this month.  Here are this month’s dishes and the official description – followed by MY review and assessment of each dish after I’ve prepared and eaten it.  If you’re interested, keep checking back because I will adding my reviews throughout the month:

Bistro Steak with Walnut Gorgonzola Butter: This new steak is becoming a favorite in all Dinner A’Fare kitchens! This shoulder tenderloin is seasoned with kosher salt, pepper, and grilled or broiled to your liking. Sliced and then topped with walnut, Gorgonzola infused butter, our bistro steak is a must try!

Review:  This was GOOD!  I copied the recipe (1/4 cup butter, 1 Tablespoon Gorgonzola and 1 Tablespoon walnuts for the “Gorgonzonola infused butter”, and the tenderloin was just salted and peppered.  Simple recipe, and it was fantastic.  Enough for RT and me for dinner – with extras for me to take to work the next day for lunch.

Asian Lettuce Wraps: We all love great wraps, but now you don’t have to go out to your favorite restaurant to have them. We mix together ground turkey, green onions, garlic and toss in our out of this world sauce made from sherry, soy, sesame oil and Hoisin. Wrap these up in the lettuce leaves that we provide, and enjoy in the comforts of your own kitchen!

NOTE: Tried these immediately – and they were great.  It was too difficult to wrap it in the lettuce leaves provided.  I think another type of lettuce would have worked better.  However, it was really tasty, and RT and I both enjoyed them.  I would make this again!

Chicken Parmesan: Melt in your mouth Italian flavor, just like your favorite family ristorante! Our fresh chicken breasts are marinated in a zesty Italian dressing and then baked with a Parmesan and Italian breadcrumb topping. Pour on our Dinner A’Fare marinara sauce and bake to perfection. So easy, and loved by all!

Review:  Mediocre.  It was okay – just not outstanding.  I wouldn’t cook this again.

Garlic Rosemary Pork Tenderloin: Inspired by our cooking tour in Italy, we love this pork tenderloin that is doused in chopped garlic and rosemary. Bake this favorite, and your kitchen will be transformed into the Italian countryside.

Note: 1/30/07 – This was WONDERFUL!  Tender, melt-in-your-mouth.  My only complaint is that the dried rosemary is like little twigs on the tenderloin.  Could it be ground up?

Baked Rigatoni with Sausage and Mushrooms: Sautéed sweet Italian sausage, onions, and garlic are mixed with traditional rigatoni noodles. Baked with ricotta cheese, mushrooms, marinara sauce and then topped with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. You will think you are in Florence!

Note:  Had this on 2-11-07 – It was decidedly forgettable.  Very blah.   I wouldn’t cook this again. 

Steak Fajitas: Strips of our lean flank steak are marinated in Italian dressing, Worcestershire sauce, and limejuice. We cook this tender steak with onions and peppers for a full flavor. Serve them hot in our flour tortillas.

Note:  I cooked these on 2-17-07. I didn’t care for them.  RT thought they were okay.  I served them with shredded cheese and sour cream and salsa.  They needed all that and more. 

Sweet and Sour Cashew Pork: Much better than Chinese take out! This sweet and sour sauce is made from scratch with low sodium soy sauce, rice wine, ketchup and served with cubed pork, cashews, and pineapple. More flavorful and healthier than the recipe at your corner take out kitchen!

Note: February 1 – This is probably one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever made.  This is wonderful!  I will sign up for this meal every single time it is offered! 

Pan Asian Tilapia with Five Spice Panko Crust: Six flaky Tilapia filets are marinated in a pan Asian sauce made from rice vinegar, orange juice, and soy sauce. The filets are then coated in a panko crust seasoned with Asian five spices, which gives all the five flavors of sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, and salty. The Chinese claim that these five spices represent the five elements of life. We just love the flavor!

Review:  This was the last meal from this set that we had.  It was good.  RT kept asking me what was in the crust – and I couldn’t remember, and this was one of the ones that I didn’t write down the ingredients.  It wasn’t my favorite – but it was pretty good.  I think I’d prefer NOT to have the sweetness with fish.  It just didn’t taste quite right.

Key West Shrimp with Black Bean: If you love shrimp you must try this flavorful version where The Dinner A’Fare pairs up with McCormick’s Key West spice blend. We brush butter, limejuice, and Key West spice over our famous shrimp. Serve with our black bean salsa, made by you, of black beans, mango, onions, and pineapple juice and start dipping!

Note: Had this on 2-12-07 – It was fair.  Not outstanding.  The salsa did not look appealing at all, but it tasted okay.  I wouldn’t cook this again.

Bold and Zesty Peppered Flank Steak: Everyone loves these steaks that are marinated in a special blend of garlic, steak sauce with a dash of Worcestershire making this an unbeatable marinade! Add a little pepper into the mix and you have a bold and zesty flavor with our popular tender and juicy aged Angus flank steak. Top of the line quality is what we do best!

Note: Tried this on 2/19/07.  It was pretty good.  I served it with scallopped potatoes and a fresh salad.  The flavor was definitely a steak sauce flavor – good but nothing outstanding. I could have marinated a steak in steak sauce and gotten the same flavor. 

Sesame Chicken with Brown Rice: Cubed boneless, skinless chicken breasts are marinated in low sodium soy sauce, brown sugar, chopped garlic and pepper and then stir fried until tender and juicy! We toss the chicken in even more soy sauce glaze, serve it over healthy brown rice, and top with sesame seeds.

Note: 1-29-07 – Very easy, but a tad bland for my taste – but still good.

Teriyaki and Pineapple Pork Chops: Everyone loves this combination of teriyaki and pineapple. We take our tender, hand cut pork chops and marinate them in a teriyaki sauce made from scratch! Top these chops with thick slices of pineapple for a beautiful presentation with no hassle!

Note:  I cooked these on 2-20-07.  They were fairly good.  I had baked potatoes and salad to go with them.  Good flavor.

Note after my second visit to A Dinner A’Fare:  I was impressed again with the freshness of the ingredients, the friendliness of the franchise owners, and the fun of the experience.  It’s such a great idea for a business.

My daughter and I are both convinced that it saves on grocery money.  It saves many trips to the grocery store to get one or two items.  Everything for the main dish is already right there altogether.

Here’s to good taste!

Later Note (2-22-07):  My daughter went to Supper Thyme a couple weeks ago.  Although their meals don’t sound as good, she has been thrilled with them.  She says every single meal she has cooked has been delicious, and the grandgirls (3 and 5 years old) have enjoyed them, too.  She says that the Supper Thyme meals are more complete “meals” as opposed to just the entree.   I think I’ll try Supper Thyme next month.

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Cappuccino Mix and Instant Spiced (Russian)Tea

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

I’m on a roll here with recipes.  My sister, Debi, who is in the non-blogging minority in my family, has a recipe for a really delicious Cappuccino mix.  This is quite yummy for these cold winter evenings.  Here it is:


1 cup instant coffee (You can use decaf, if you’d like)

2 cups coffee creamer (I use the nonfat type)

1/3 cup sugar (I use Splenda)

1 tsp. cinnamon (I leave this out – I’d rather not have the cinnamon flavor)

Mix together.  Use 4 tablespoons per cup of hot water.

Variation: Use different flavored coffee creamers for different flavors of cappuccino.

Okay, let the snow and ice storms come.  You’re ready to face them with this recipe.  

Oh?  You’re not a coffee/cappuccino drinker? Okay, here’s a tea recipe from my mother.  This recipe has been around for DECADES!  I remember drinking it as a kid.  It’s wonderful.  My daughter gave me a jar of the mix for Christmas.  It is SO good.


1 1/2 cups Tang

1 cup lemon flavored instant tea

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups sugar (or Splenda)

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Mix thoroughly and store in a covered container.  Use 1 to 3 tsp. to a cup of hot water.  WONDERFUL!

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