Thursday, November 12, 2009

November: Holiday Appetizers and Thanksgiving Specialties

Another delicious night with the scintillating sisters of the Coal Creek Ward. Tonight we filled up on creative appetizers for the holidays and Thanksgiving specialties. Thank you to Kim for opening up her home to us. Recipes will be appearing soon.

Join us on Dec. 10 at 7:30 at Natalie Wilson's house for a cookie exchange. Bring three dozen cookies of your favorite recipe that we'll divide up amongst the sisters, and a few extras on the side to eat then and there; everyone will go home with the best cookie platter ever.


2 pkg. cream cheese (soft)
1 pkg. crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 tsp. mayonnaise
1 cup finely chopped walnuts

Mix cream cheese, blue cheese, Celery, onion, mayonnaise and half of the walnuts. Shape into A ball. Roll the ball in the Remaining chopped walnuts.
Serve with crackers.


1 pkg oreo cookies
8 oz cream cheese
1 bag chocolate chips or chocolate candy melts

Crush oreos to a fine consistency. Add cream cheese and mix well. Shape into bite sized balls. Place in freezer for 15-20 min to make them easier to work with. In the meantime, melt the chocolate. Take bon bons from the freezer and dip in chocolate. Place on wax paper to dry. If you want, add a white chocolate decoration on top. Makes about 60-80 bon bons, so cut the recipe in half if needed.


12 cherry tomatoes
12 small fresh mozzarella balls
24 fresh basil leaves, torn in half
fresh cracked pepper
sea salt
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
garlic (optional)

Cut cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls in half.
Skewer a piece of tomato, two of the half basil leaves and a piece of mozzarella and onto a toothpick. It is prettiest with the basil in between the cheese and tomato.
Sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste.
Serve with a dipping bowl of balsamic vinegar and a dipping bowl of olive oil.


10 large fresh basil leaves, chopped or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 cups Roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded and chopped (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 loaf French baguette

Heat over to 425 F
Stack 5 basil leaves one on top of another. Roll up. Slice crosswise thinly. Repeat with remaining basil. Combine tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and sliced basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine olive oil and garlic in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on High 30 seconds. Cut bread into slightly angled 1/4" pieces. Brush with olive oil mixture, place on baking pan. Bake about 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Just before serving, drain excess liquid from tomatoes. Spoon tomato mixture evenly over bread slices.

The only change I made to this dish wash I used olive oil already infused with basil, but you could also use one infused with garlic to save a step.


36 dried apricots (pick out the plumpest and softest ones)
1 5-oz brick of marzipan
1 ½ C dark chocolate, chopped (or use semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips)
3 Tbl vegetable shortening

Use a paring knife to make a small slit in each of the apricots. Cut the marzipan into 36 pieces. Roll the marzipan pieces in the palm of your hand, then insert each one into an apricot, pulling the fruit closed over the marzipan. Heat the chocolate and shortening in the microwave on 50% power, stirring every 45 seconds, until melted. Dip the apricots in the chocolate mixture, removing and draining them slightly on the tines of a fork. Place the chocolate-covered apricots on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. If desired, sprinkle tops with chopped almonds, apricots, or garnish of your choice. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm.


1 package cream cheese, softened
1 jar caramel topping
1-2 toffee bars (such as Heath), crumbled
2 green apples

Spread cream cheese onto a plate or platter. Pour caramel sauce over cheese, and top with toffee crumbles. Slice apples and sprinkle with a little lemon juice. Place them around the edge of the platter of caramel sauce. April recommends dipping skin-side in so that the caramel sticks instead of sliding off.


1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple, in juice
1 pkg (3 oz each) raspberry gelatin
1 can (16 oz) whole berry cranberry sauce
2/3 cup chopped walnut pieces
1 apple, chopped

Drain pineapple, reserving the juice. Add enough water to juice to measure 2 1/2 cups; pour into saucepan. Bring to boil. Pour over gelatin mixes in large bowl; stir 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Stir in pineapple, cranberry sauce, walnuts and apple. Spoon into 24 paper-lined muffin cups.
Refrigerate 2 1/2 hours or until firm. Remove liners

You could also put this into a jello mold instead of making the minis.



2 large sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large parsnips, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch coins
1 HUGE chunk or ginger (like almost the size of your fist), peeled and sliced as thinly as possible
4 Tbl butter
1 C half and half
1 ½ tsp salt
Optional: 1-2 Tbl maple or agave syrup (depending on how sweet you like your sweet potatoes)

Place sweet potatoes, parsnips and ginger in a steamer basket and steam for about 20-25 minutes or until pierced easily with a fork. If the ginger slices still seem crispy, you can simmer them a few minutes longer in the steamer water. Drain vegetables, reserving ¼ cup steaming liquid. Put vegetables, steaming liquid, butter, half and half, salt (and syrup if desired) into food processor or blender and blend until smooth. You may need to blend in several batches if your processor is smaller. This is a great dish to make ahead of time and reheat.


1 package little smokies sausages
1 package crescent roll dough
optional: cheese slices
optional sauce: mustard mixed with mayonnaise

Cut each crescent roll into three triangles; wrap each around a little smokie. If desired, place a small slice of cheese between the sausage and the dough before rolling. Bake according crescent roll package instructions, 13-15 minutes. Serve with sauce if desired.


½ of a whole fresh jalapeno (remove stems & seeds, finely chop, use gloves!)
1c. raspberries, smashed
1 ¾ cup of finely chopped peppers (red & green combined)
1 ½ cups cider vinegar
1 tbs. crushed red pepper
6 ½ cups sugar

Put everything (except the crushed red pepper) into a saucepan, bring to rolling boil. Stir in 1 package of pectin (Certo) and the red pepper together and return to rolling boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Ladle quickly into prepared jars… etc. etc. (follow typical canning instructions from here).

I serve the jam over a block of cream cheese with Wheat Thin crackers. It's also great on leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches.


40 oz. can yams, drained
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 stick margarine/butter
1/3 C. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Mash yams in mixer. Add eggs, sugar, & salt. Melt margarine or butter & add to mixer. Add milk & vanilla; mix well. Spray 8 1/2x11 pan. Put soufflé in pan.

1/2 C. brown sugar
1/3 C. flour
1/3 stick margarine/butter
1 C. chopped pecans

Mix topping & sprinkle on top of soufflé. Bake @ 350 for 1 hour.


corn arepas (or you could use corn bread or english muffins)
shredded taco meat
fresh salsa
fresh guacamole

Stack up the ingredients and get snackin'.


I apologize to April for not getting a proper picture of her tree. It had a trunk made of pretzel sticks and was resting on a beautiful cloud of mushrooms.

Broccoli florets
Yellow pepper
Cherry tomatoes
Pretzel sticks
Mushrooms or cauliflower

Arrange the broccoli florets into the shape of a Christmas tree. Use cherry tomatoes as ornaments, pretzel sticks for the trunk, and cut a star shape out of the yellow pepper for a tree topper. Use mushrooms or cauliflower for the base. Serve with the dip of your choice, such as hummus or ranch.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October: Winter Soups and Quick Breads

Another vastly successful cooking club meeting--thanks to everyone for sharing such deliciousness with us, and thanks especially to April for hosting. Below please find the pictures of tonight's amazing feast, recipes will be appearing during the next week.

The next meeting will be on Thursday November 12th at 7:30, the theme is holiday-themed appetizers and Thanksgiving specialities. Find a fun and festive appetizer recipe to try, or if you have a highly-coveted Thanksgiving dish that you're dying to share, bring that.


2 Tbl oil
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups sliced carrots
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
7 cups broth (chicken, beef or vegetable)
1 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
1 winter squash (pumpkin, butternut, etc), peeled and cut into small cubes
1 15 oz can white beans
1 bunch greens (swiss chard, spinach, kale, etc) washed and chopped

Your favorite meatball recipe

Cook meatballs and set aside (or, skip 'em and enjoy a vegetarian stew). Saute onions and garlic in oil until translucent, add carrots and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until vegetables begin to carmelize; this is what lends a deep flavor to the soup. Add broth, thyme, bay leaf and squash; cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes until squash and carrots are tender. Add chopped greens and simmer 5-10 minutes until tender. Add beans and cooked meatballs, and continue cooking until soup is fully heated.


7 cups peeled and diced potatoes
2/3 cup diced celery
2/3 cup finely chopped onion
1-1/2 cups diced cooked ham
6-1/2 cups water
1/4 cup chicken bouillon granules
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons ground white or black pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups milk

Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt and pepper.

In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour with a fork, and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk as not to allow lumps to form until all of the milk has been added. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes.

Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through. Serve immediately.

This was one of the most popular flavors!

32 oz chicken broth
1 regular can green chili enchilada sauce
3 bell peppers (1 of each color) diced
1 onion diced
Jalapeño to liking- optional
1 rotisserie chicken- shredded
1 bunch of cilantro cut up
3 cans great northern beans- undrained

Mix all together in pan cook for about 30 min or until onions are cooked. Garnish with mozzarella cheese, sour cream and avocado then eat with chips


Lemon Loaf

½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
grated rind of one lemon
1 ½ cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup milk

Juice of one lemon
1/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan. Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and mix well. Sift dry ingredients and add alternately with milk to the mixture. Pour into a loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until done.
Mix topping together and drizzle on top of loaf while still warm.

Pumpkin Bread

4 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
1 16 oz. can pumpkin
3 ½ cups flour
3 cups sugar
½ cup water
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of cloves
Nuts and raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two bread pans. Beat eggs. Add oil, water and pumpkin. Mix well. Sift dry ingredients. Add to mixture. Pour mixture into 2 loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Yields 2 loaves.

Carrot Bread

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups grated carrot
1 cup vegetable oil
1 can crushed pineapple, drained (8 oz.)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine first 6 ingredients, stirring well. Combine eggs and remaining 4 ingredients; add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Spoon batter into two greased and floured 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool on wire racks.
Yields: 2 loaves



2 tablespoons plus 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, or quick-cooking (not instant) oats, divided
1 1/3 cups whole-wheat flour, or white whole-wheat flour (see Tip)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
8 ounces (scant 1 cup) nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt
1 large egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup clover honey, or other mild honey
3/4 cup nonfat or low-fat milk

Position rack in middle of oven; preheat to 375°F. Generously coat a 9-by-5-inch (or similar size) loaf pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon oats in the pan. Tip the pan back and forth to coat the sides and bottom with oats.

Thoroughly stir together whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Using a fork, beat the remaining 1 cup oats, yogurt, egg, oil and honey in a medium bowl until well blended. Stir in milk. Gently stir the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture just until thoroughly incorporated but not overmixed (excess mixing can cause toughening). Immediately scrape the batter into the pan, spreading evenly to the edges. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon oats over the top.

Bake the loaf until well browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. (It’s normal for the top to crack.) Let stand in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a table knife around and under the loaf to loosen it and turn it out onto the rack. Let cool until barely warm, about 45 minutes.


8 cups fat-free chicken broth
1 onion, finely chopped
8 portions chicken breast (about 2 lbs.)
2 pkgs. Knorr Roasted chicken gravy mix
3 cans (7oz. each) mild diced green chilies
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
1 can (28 oz) white hominy, drained
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
8 (6") flour tortillas

1. In a large pot, combine chicken breasts, chicken broth and onion. Heat to boiling over high heat. then reduce heat to low and simmer until the chicken is no longer pink in the center - about 20 minutes. Remove chicken from broth and set aside to cool.
2. Use a whisk to blend gravy mix into the broth. then add chilies, garlic, cilantro, cumin, jalapenos and hominy. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; then reduce heat to low.
3. Shred the chicken by pulling it apart with two forks, and add it back into the broth. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
4. Warm flour tortillas by placing them between 2 damp paper towels and microwaving for 45 seconds.
5. Spoon a portion of the green chili into each bowl, top with a spoonful of diced tomato and a tablespoon of sour cream.


1 (2 1/2 to 3-pound) fryer chicken, cut up
3 1/2 quarts water
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 bay leaves
3-6 chicken bouillon cubes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups sliced celery, with leafy green tops

2 1/2 cups uncooked elbow noodles
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 cup grated Parmesan, optional
3/4 cup heavy cream, optional
Seasoning salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Crusty French bread, for serving


For the stock: add all ingredients to a soup
pot. Cook until chicken is tender, about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool. Remove and discard bay leaves and onion. You should have approximately 3 quarts of stock. When chicken is cool enough to touch, pick bones clean, discarding bones, skin, and cartilage. Set chicken aside.

For the soup: bring stock back to a boil, add carrots, and cook for 3 minutes. Add celery and continue to cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Add elbow noodles and cook according to directions on package. When noodles are done, add
chicken, parsley and rosemary. Add Parmesan and cream, if using. Cook for another 2
minutes. Adjust seasoning, if needed, by adding seasoning salt and pepper. Enjoy along with a nice hot crusty loaf of French bread.


1 pound shredded, cooked chicken
1 (15 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed
1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups water
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
7 corn tortillas
vegetable oil

Place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chiles, and garlic into a slow cooker. Pour in water and chicken broth, and season with cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Stir in corn and cilantro. Cover, and cook on Low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on High setting for 3 to 4 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Lightly brush both sides of tortillas with oil. Cut tortillas into strips, then spread on a baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven until crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes. To serve, sprinkle tortilla strips over soup.


1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 cup cucumber, peeled and cut into pieces
1 tbs fresh onion
1/2 cup ice cubes
Salt & Pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in blender. Turn on medium, then high for 1.5 minutes, or until smooth. Serve immediately. Some variations: add avocado or coconut milk to thicken it. Add lime or lemon juice, with a bit of zest, a for citrusy kick. Add cilantro or dill, or blend in the white part of green onions or garlic.


1 can chicken broth
1 small onion, diced
1/3 c. flour
1/4 c. butter
Pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon)

2 c. milk (I used 1% with great results)
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c. shredded swiss cheese
steamed chopped broccoli )

Simmer chicken broth and chopped onion for 15-20 minutes in a covered small saucepan, until onions are soft. Heat milk in microwave for 1-2 minutes. In a separate medium-sized stockpot, melt butter then add flour and pepper. Cook together for a couple of minutes, then whisk in warmed milk. Stir and heat together on medium-high heat until soup starts to thicken. Next add chicken broth and continue to stir until well blended. Add cheeses and steamed broccoli. Serve immediately.


2 lbs. beef chuck
1/4 C. flour
1 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
3 T. veggie oil
2 T. butter
1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/4 C. red wine vinegar
1/4 C. water
2 C. beef broth
1/4 C. balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
6-8 large fresh sage leaves, washed and dried
1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 lb. parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 lb. Roma tomatoes, peeled, cored seeded, and diced
Chopped parsley, for garnish

1. Cut the beef into 1-inch cubes, trimming away any gristle or excess fat.

2. On a piece of waxed paper or in a plastic food storage bag, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. Turn the beef cubes in the flour mixture to coat them evenly, or place them in the food storage bag and shake until they are coated.

3. In a wide, heavy saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef cubes and saute until evenly browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the beef and set it aside.

4. Reduce the heat to medium and, in the same saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes.

5. Add the red wine vinegar and water. With a wooden spoon, stir and scrape to deglaze the pan deposits. Return the meat to the pan. Add the beef stock, balsamic vinegar, and bay leaf. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer gently for 1 hour.

6. Cut the sage leaves into chiffonade strips and stir them into the sauce along with the butternut squash, parsnips, carrots, and tomatoes. Cover the pan again and continue simmering until both the meat and the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes longer. Remove the bay leaf and correct the seasonings with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the stew into large warmed bowls and garnish with chopped parsley.


1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 ripe bananas)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 C frozen raspberries

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour bottom only of a loaf pan (or use 3 small loaf pans). In a large bowl, beat together sugar and oil. Add eggs, bananas, sour cream and vanilla; blend well. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. Add flour, baking soda and salt; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Lastly add 1 C raspberries and fold into mix. Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes (about 40 minutes for smaller loaf pan) or until toothpick inserted in center comes clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely. Wrap tightly and store in refrigerator. Makes 1 loaf.

Tara Banks wasn't able to make it on Thursday but HIGHLY recommended these two recipes from Cooking Light Magazine:


1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
5 cups all-purpose flour (about 22 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups low-fat buttermilk
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water in a small bowl, and let stand for 5 minutes.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add yeast mixture and buttermilk to flour mixture; stir just until moist. Cover and chill 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450°.

Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured surface; knead lightly 5 times. Roll dough to a 1/2-inch thickness; cut with a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter. (I usually just use a cup) Place the biscuits on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Brush the melted butter over the biscuit tops. Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until golden.


Cooking spray
1 cup thinly sliced celery
3/4 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3 cups marinara sauce
1 cup canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
3/4 cup uncooked ditalini (very short tube-shaped macaroni)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces cooked skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into small chunks or shredded
6 tablespoons shaved fresh Parmesan cheese
Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add celery, carrot, and onion to pan; cook 12 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add broth and next 4 ingredients (through pepper); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 12 minutes or until pasta is tender. Add chicken to pan Sprinkle with cheese.

Friday, September 18, 2009

September: Lunchbox Lusciousness

I think we found out what the women of the Coal Creek ward are doing most of the time in their kitchens--making lunches for their kids--because we had upwards of 16 people at the most recent cooking club meeting! Some great ideas were shared for getting out of the PBJ rut, and for making lunchtime at school more fun for kids. Several moms like to stick a note in with lunch, and some like to include a riddle, or fold the letter into a cute origami form. The links below will help you find fun things to include in lunchtime love letters, and how to make them into cats, cranes, cars, etc.

Riddles for kids:

Origami folding techniques:

April also recommends two mom-blogs that she follows with great lunch ideas for kids:

Join us Oct. 15 at 7:30 at April Ulrich's house for Winter Soups and Quick Breads.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Filled Rice Balls with Peanut Sauce


2 C short grain (sticky) brown rice
5 C water
1 tsp salt
4 Tbl black sesame seeds

Directions: Reserve sesame seeds. Simmer rice, covered, on low heat until all water is absorbed. Spread cooked rice on a wax paper-lined baking sheet to cool.

While rice is simmering, make red lentil filling.


1 cup large or small red lentils, sorted and rinsed
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt

In a 3-quart saucepan over high heat, combine the lentils with 4 cups water and bring it to a boil. Skim and discard any foam and add the bay leaf. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes; drain.

While the lentils simmer, in a small saute pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and pine nuts and cook until the onion softens and the pine nuts begin to color, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, coriander, caraway, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Continue to cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat.

In a food processor, add the lentils and onion mixture and puree until smooth.

To assemble rice balls:

It is sometimes helpful to coat your hands with canola oil when making the balls. Mound about two tablespoons of rice in your palm and compact it. Make an indentation in the center, and put a few teaspoons of lentil filling in. Cover with more rice and roll gently in your hands, pressing firmly until you have a solid ball. Roll one side of each ball in reserved sesame seeds.

Peanut dipping sauce:

1/2 C natural peanut butter
3/4 C tablespoons coconut milk
2 tablespoon lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tbl teaspoon red Thai curry paste
1/2 teaspoon chili paste or siracha chili sauce
1/4 C white or brown sugar


Whisk all ingredients together until smooth

Homemade Pretzels with Dipping Sauces

4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping


In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.

When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is all shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.

Put a pretzel in your child's lunchbox with small containers of mustard, honey, ranch, ketchup, cheese sauce, or whatever dipper he/she likes.

Lemon-Poppyseed Mini-Muffuns

One mom recommended making large batches of muffins and quick breads ahead of time, slicing them, packing them in individual ziplocks and freezing them. In the frenzy of the morning, just grab one out of the freezer and toss it in the lunch box.

Kid Kabobs

Cut bread, pepperoni (or whatever kind of meat your kids like), cheese and vegetables into manageable chunks, and skewer them. Drizzle with Italian dressing before serving.

Black Bean Dip

1 can (19 oz./540 mL) black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup (175 mL) salsa (hot, medium or mild)
1 clove garlic, chopped (optional)
2 tbsp. (30 mL) mayonnaise
2 tbsp. (30 mL) chopped cilantro (optional)
1/2 tsp. (2 mL) salt
shredded Monterey jack or cheddar cheese (on the side)
assorted raw veggie dippers, such as celery, carrots, broccoli, peppers, cauliflower or whatever your child likes
tortilla chips for dipping


In the container of a blender or food processor, combine the beans, salsa, garlic, mayonnaise, cilantro and salt. Blend, scraping down the side of the container once or twice, until not quite completely smooth. A little texture is nice.
Transfer dip to a serving bowl, sprinkle with shredded cheese and serve with veggies and tortilla chips.
If you are packing this in a lunch bag, pack the dip, cheese, veggies and chips in separate plastic containers or zip-top bags. Let your child add the cheese at lunchtime.

Whatever's in the fridge Pasta Salad

Add whatever vegetables, meat and cheese (in cubes) that you find in your fridge to a bowl of cooked pasta. Toss with Italian dressing.

Flatbread chicken squares

You can buy flat bread at the store, and top it with cream cheese or hummus, and whatever vegetables and meats you find in your fridge.

Banana Protein Muffins

Sneak extra fruit and protein into your kids' lunches with these tasty muffins.

1 cup white flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/3 cup protein powder
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/4 olive or canola oil
2 tsp baking powder
1 beaten egg (or 1/4 cup Egg Beaters)
2 bananas, mashed

Mix-in ideas:
Chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts
chopped apple

Peel bananas, mash with fork.
Mix ingredients and pour into greased muffin tin. Do not use paper muffin cups.
Bake at 400 degrees for 16 minutes.

Sweet and Chunky Peanut Butter Spread

Delicious on sliced bread, muffins, in sandwiches, or as dip for fruit.

Mix together:
peanut butter
sunflower seeds (unsalted)
grated carrot

Until you are pleased with the consistency and level of sweetness and chunkiness.

Almond-Crusted Chicken Tenders with Honey Dipping Sauce


Canola oil cooking spray
1/2 cup sliced almonds
6-8 whole-wheat crackers
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard or tumeric
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 large egg whites
1 pound chicken tenders

Dipping Sauce:

1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard


Preheat oven to 475°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Set a wire rack on the baking sheet and coat it with cooking spray.
Place almonds, crackers, paprika, garlic powder, dry mustard or tumeric, salt and pepper in a food processor; process until the almonds are finely chopped and the paprika is mixed throughout, about 1 minute. With the motor running, drizzle in oil; process until combined. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish.
Whisk egg whites in a second shallow dish. Add chicken tenders and turn to coat. Transfer each tender to the almond mixture; turn to coat evenly. (Discard any remaining egg white and almond mixture.) Place the tenders on the prepared rack and coat with cooking spray; turn and spray the other side.
Bake the chicken fingers until golden brown, crispy and no longer pink in the center, 20 to 25 minutes.
Whisk sauce ingredients together until smooth.

Caramel Apple Brownies

1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 C. flour
1 tsp. Baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 large or 4 small apples, peeled and diced
granulated sugar (for sprinkling on top after baking)
Caramel Ice Cream topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Choose your pan size: either a 9 x 13 pan, two pie pans, or a pie pan and four mini-loaf pans. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and apples. Mix well. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with sugar and drizzle with caramel ice cream topping.

Tortilla Roll-ups

It turns out that things kids don't like to eat between two slices of bread, they'll happily devour rolled up in a tortilla, so ransack your fridge and fill those lunchboxes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

August Cooking Club Part TWO!

In the heat of August and with our gardens growing totally out of control, we decided to schedule an auxiliary meeting of the cooking club to share ideas about what to do with the late summer veggies that are producing themselves en masse. Take a look at what we came up with, and join us on September 17 for creative and healthy sack lunch solutions.

Ryan's Fresh Salsa

1 large onion, peeled and diced
3 lbs. roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 bundle cilantro, stems removed, finely minced
2-5 jalapenos, seeded (optional) and diced
1-2 tsp cumin
2 tsp salt
juice of 1/2 lime
OPTIONAL: 1-2 serrano chilis, seeded and diced

1. Mix tomatoes, onion and cilantro.
4. Add jalapenos slowly to taste, and serranos if desired.
5. Add salt, cumin, and lime, to taste.
6. Chill before serving. It's better the next day when the flavors have mixed

Cauliflower Mac n' Cheese

1 C whole wheat pasta
1 head cauliflower, washed and chopped into florets
1 ½ C milk
3 Tbs butter
3 Tbs flour
¼ tsp salt
¾ C parmesan cheese, divided
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper, cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 375

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta and cauliflower florets together until tender. Drain well and pour into a greased casserole dish

Meanwhile in another saucepan melt butter and add flour, stirring until it turns golden. Slowly whisk in milk until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and add ½ cup of the cheese, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce and salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste.

Pour sauce over pasta and cauliflower and stir until well combined. Sprinkle remaining ¼ C cheese over top. Bake about 20 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.

Summer Cukes

3-4 large cucumbers, peeled and sliced thinly
1 large onion, peeled and sliced thinly
½ C water
½ C vinegar

Combine cucumbers and onions in large bowl, salt liberally, and stir to coat. Let rest on counter up to three house, while vegetables sweat out their juices. Add water and vinegar and stir. Increase salt and/or vinegar according to your tastes. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Parmesan Summer Squash Cakes

1 large egg
2/3 cup finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups shredded seeded zucchini and/or summer squash (2-3 medium, about 1 pound)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Beat egg in a large bowl. Stir in shallots, parsley, salt and pepper. Place shredded squash in the center of a clean kitchen towel; gather up the ends and twist to squeeze out any liquid. Add the squash and cheese to the bowl; stir to combine.
3. Heat oil in a large ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pack a 1/3-cup measuring cup with the squash mixture and unmold it into the pan; gently pat it down to form a 3-inch cake. Repeat, making 4 squash cakes. Cook until browned and crispy on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes. Gently turn the cakes over and transfer the pan to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Chocolate-Chip Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups chopped zucchini
3 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups flour
8 oz chocolate chips

Mix oil and zucchini, blend until mixed and measures 3 cups. Add eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Mix. Add chocolate chips. Pour this mixture over dry ingredients and mix. Bake in greased and floured pans. Two big loaf pans or four little loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Cucumber-Lemon Ice Cream

2 medium cucumbers, peeled and seeded
¾ C sugar
2 Tbl lemon juice
pinch salt
2 C heavy cream
1 C whole milk
2 eggs
2 egg yolks

Purée cucumbers in blender or food processor. Pass mixture through a sieve to remove pulp. Discard pulp. In a large bowl, whisk remaining cucumber juice together with sugar, lemon juice and salt, and set aside. In a large saucepan beat eggs and yolks lightly, then add cream and milk. Turn heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to thicken. Whisk hot milk mixture into cucumber juice. Lay plastic wrap over the surface of custard and chill. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer instructions.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

August Cooking Club: DESSERTS!

Some very hungry and sugar-deprived sisters from the Coal Creek ward cooking club recently met to eat desserts at Carrie's house; we had a delicious selection of sweets to choose from. Take a look at the pictures and recipes below and maybe give some a try! The theme for September is Creative and Healthy Sack Lunch Solutions--both for our kids, who are sick of PBJ, and ourselves, who are sick of leftovers!

Word of Wisdom-friendly Tiramisu Cupcakes

1 (18 1/4 ounce) package white cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil

Liquid "Coffee" Layer
2/3 cup chicory based herbal drink (such as Pero, postum, or a Celestial Seasonings herbal tea flavor such as Roastaroma or English Toffee)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tsp coffee flavoring (be sure to get coffee flavoring, because coffee extract does contain coffee)

Mascarpone Filling
1 cup mascarpone cheese
3 tsp coffee flavoring
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 pint heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 C powdered sugar

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
chocolate shavings or cocoa(to garnish)


1. Make mascarpone filling: Beat mascarpone, flavoring and condensed milk until well blended. In a separate bowl, beat cream with powdered sugar and vanilla until fluffy, then add to cheese mixture. Beat until well mixed. Chill 4-6 hours.

2. Prepare cupcakes as directed on box of white cake mix & bake accordingly. While these are baking prepare the liquid coffee as below.

3. Liquid Coffee: Boil 2/3 cup water in microwave (or boil on stove) and stir in herbal drink powder, or steep teabag for 5 minutes. Add powdered sugar, coffee flavoring, and stir well.

4. Cut tops off cupcakes and set aside. Using a melon baller or similar tool, scoop out small hole in cupcake. Be sure to eat some of the holes that you dig out. Using tablespoon, pour liquid coffee into holes until there is none left. (You can avoid this step if you have a pastry bag and tip; just inject the filling directly into the cupcake.)

5. Fill each hole with mascarpone filling, then smooth another quarter inch of filling onto cupcake. Replace top of cupcake, and fill with more mascarpone if necessary.

6. Prepare Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting: Beat butter and cream cheese until creamy with hand mixer on low. Slowly add powdered sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add vanilla and increase mixer to medium. Blend until frosting is fluffy.

7. Gently frost each cupcake with frosting & garnish with chocolate shavings (use dark chocolate bar & cheese grater)or with sifted cocoa powder.

Homemade Nutella Oreos

Nutella Cookie
1 ¾ C flour
½ C + 2 Tbl cornstarch
½ C dutch process or dark cocoa
½ tsp salt
1 C Nutella
½ C butter
½ C sugar
2 eggs

Hazelnut Cream filling
1 C hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed
5 Tbl butter
2 Tbl light corn syrup
½ tsp hazelnut extract
2 C powdered sugar

1. Make cookies: In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add Nutella and eggs, and mix until smooth.

2. In a separate bowl stir together dry ingredients, then add to wet ingredients, mixing until well incorporated. Dough will be fairly stiff. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill at least one hour.

3. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, place on greased cookie sheet, and flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in flour.

4. Bake for 8 minutes. Let cookies rest on cookie sheet 1-2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

5. Make hazelnut cream: Grind toasted hazelnuts in food processor until they resemble fine crumbs. Add butter, and process until well mixed.

6. While processor is running, add corn syrup and extract; scrape down sides. Add 2 C sugar, pulse a few times and then process until mixture begin to come together. Turn out onto flat surface and knead a moment or two until smooth.

7. Assemble cookies: Divide filling into enough balls for as many pairs of cookies as you have (recipe should make about 22 pairs). Roll a ball of filling in your palm, flatten it slightly, and place between two cookies. Squish them together until the filling squeezes to the edges of the cookies.

German Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

1 German chocolate cake mix
1/3 cup soft margarine
2/3 cup coconut
1 egg

Press in 9X13 ungreased pan.

Beat until smooth (but DON'T over beat!):
16 ounces softened cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs

Pour over cake mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
After cool, pour mixture of:
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sour cream
over the top.

Refrigerate for 8 hours before serving.

Crème Brûlée

2 cups half-and-half or light cream
5 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar


1. Preheat oven to 325 degree F.

2. Heat half-and-half or light cream in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat just until bubbly. Combine slightly beaten egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Beat with a wire whisk or rotary beater just until combined. Slowly whisk or stir the hot cream into the egg mixture.

3. Place four ungreased 4-inch quiche dishes or oval or round tart pans without removable bottoms into a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Set the pan on an oven rack in the preheated oven. Pour custard mixture evenly into the dishes. Pour very hot water into the baking pan around the dishes until water is halfway up the sides of the baking pan.

4. Bake for 18 to 24 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center of each dish comes out clean. Remove dishes from pan; let cool about 30 minutes. Cover, chill for 1 hour or up to 8 hours. Before serving, let the custards stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.

5. Place 1/3 cup sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat skillet over medium-high heat until sugar begins to melt, shaking skillet occasionally to heat sugar evenly. Do not stir. Once sugar starts to melt, reduce heat to low; cook until sugar is completely melted and golden (3 to 5 minutes more), stirring as needed.

6. Spoon melted sugar quickly over custards in a lacy pattern or in a solid piece. If melted sugar starts to harden in pan, return to heat, stirring until it melts. If it starts to form clumps, carefully stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons water. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Caramel Shortbread Squares(aka Twix Cookies)

2/3 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, mix together 2/3 cup butter, white sugar, and flour until evenly crumbly.
Press into a 9-inch square baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes.
In a 2-quart saucepan, combine 1/2 cup butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk. Bring to a boil. Continue to boil for 5 minutes. Removed from heat and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon for about 3 minutes. Pour over baked crust (warm or cool). Cool until it begins to firm.
Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 1 minute, then stir and continue to heat and stir at 20-second intervals until chocolate is melted and smooth. Pour chocolate over the caramel layer and spread evenly to cover completely. Chill. Cut into 1-inch squares.

Christmas Crunch

8 C Corn Chex
6 C Honey Graham Cereal
2 C flaked coconut
1 C sliced almonds
1 C light corn syrup
1 C sugar
3/4 butter
1 tsp vanilla

In large bowl combine all dry ingredients. Set aside. In saucepan combine corn syrup, sugar, and butter and bring to a boil. Boil 2 min. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well until alll cereal is coated. Pour mixture onto wax papeer to cool. Place in an airtight container.