Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rosemary Sage Burgers with Apple Slaw & Chive "Mayo"

Rosemary Sage Burgers with Apple Slaw & Chive "Mayo"

Makes 4 burgers.

A fresh, new change from the standard burger.  I loved the burst of tart flavor from the apple slices, and the chive mayo was great!
Slightly adapted from: Self magazine

1/2 pound extra-lean ground beef
1/2 pound lean ground pork
2-3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2-3 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 hamburger buns
1 cup baby spinach leaves

Chive "mayo:"
1/2 cup non-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 dashes each salt and pepper

Apple slaw:
3 green apples, peeled, cored and grated
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat grill to medium high. Combine beef, pork, rosemary, sage, and salt in a medium-sized bowl; form into 4 patties. Grill patties 4 minutes on each side or until juices run clear.
In a small bowl, combine mayo ingredients.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine slaw ingredients.
Toast the buns, if desired, and spread each top with mayo. Place burger on bun and top with slaw and several spinach leaves.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Brownie Chunk Cheesecake

Brownie Chunk Cheesecake

Serves 12.

Quite the presentation for a dessert that's not all that complicated to make.  Not only will people love the way it looks, but they'll love the way it tastes.
Slighty adapted from: Cooking Pleasures magazine

31 cream-filled chocolate cookies, crushed
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted

3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 c. sugar
1 T. vanilla extract
1 c. sour cream
1 c. heavy whipping cream
4 eggs
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 to 2-1/2 c. coarsely chopping brownies

3 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
Heavy whipping cream

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  In a medium bowl, stir together all crust ingredients.  Press into bottom of 9-inch springform pan.  Wrap pan with heavy-duty foil; freeze 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla at medium speed until blended.  Beat in sour cream and 1 cup cream.  Add eggs one at a time, beating just untl blended.  Slowly beat in flour.  Fold in brownies.

Place springform pan in a large baking or broiler pan.  Pour batter into crust (batter will come within 1/4" of top edge).  Add enough hot tap water to baking pan to come halfway up sides of springform pan. 

Bake 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, or until edges are puffed and top is dry to the touch.  Center should move slightly when pan is tapped but should not ripple as if liquid.

Remove springform pan from baking pan; remove foil.  Cool completely on wire rack.  Refrigerate overnight. 

Melt milk chocolate and a few tablespoons of cream in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth.  Add cream by the tablespoonful until mixture reaches a drizzling consistency.  Drizzle over top of cheesecake.    Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pomegranate Margarita

Pomegranate Margarita

Makes 1 drink.

A margarita with a pomegranate twist!

2-1/2 oz. pomegranate liqueur
1 oz. tequila
1/2 oz. triple sec
Splash lime juice
Splash triple se

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Strain into a margarita glass. Serve as-is or on the rocks.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Easy Delicious (Garlic) Bread

Easy Delicious (Garlic) Bread

Serves 12.

My mom used to make this often when we were growing up, and still does today as she knows it's one of my brother's favorites!  You can use a plain Italian loaf or one of the Italian loafs that is flavored with roasted garlic.  This works best with a loaf that has a slightly chewy (but not crunchy!) crust and a soft interior.

1 loaf Italian bread or Garlic Italian Bread
1 stick butter, softened (or melted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice bread into 1" slices.  Spread softened butter (or use a basting brush for melted butter) on both sides of bread slices.  Push back together into a single loaf, wrap with foil, and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until heated through.

A Note From The Little Lady: Because butter does not need to be refrigerated, you can make this ahead of time and leave it on your counter until ready to bake, which makes it a great go-to when entertaining or throwing dinner together on a busy night.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Creamy Chicken Fettuccine Bake

Creamy Chicken Fettuccine Bake

Serves 12.

The picture was taken before I baked it.  I didn't have a chance to snap a photo afterward before we ate.
Adapted from: recipe on Ronzoni Garden Delight Fettuccine box

2 pkgs. Ronzoni Garden Delight fettuccine
4 T. butter
4 t. minced garlic
2 pkgs. (8-oz. each) cream cheese, cut into cubes
4 c. milk
3-1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Grated Parmesan cheese

Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.  In a skillet over medium heat, warm 1-2 T. of olive oil, and then add chicken.  Cook until no longer pink.  Remove from skillet and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions.

In another large skillet (or the one you used for the chicken) over medium heat, melt butter.  Add garlic.  Cook and stir for about 1 minute.  Add cream cheese and slowly add in milk; stir until cheese melts and mixture thickens.  This may take a while.  Add chicken; toss to coat.  Transfer to a large baking dish; top with Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly and just beginning to brown.

A Note From The Little Lady: If you want to make this ahead of time, cover with foil and store in refrigerator until ready to bake.  Increase baking time to 1 to 1-1/2 hours, removing foil after about 45-60 minutes.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Turkey Bacon and Hash Brown Bake

Turkey Bacon and Hash Brown Bake

Serves 9.

Use Egg Beaters (or a combo of Egg Beaters and eggs) for an even healthier breakfast!
Slightly adapted from: Ore Ida and Butterball coupon page

1/2 pkg. turkey bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/4 c. vegetable oil
4 c. frozen hash browns, thawed
1 small onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
8 eggs
1 c. fat free evaporated milk
1/2 t. salt
1-1/2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 13x9 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon for 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat oil in another large skillet over medium high heat. Cook hash browns for 2 minutes, turn over and cook for another 2 minutes. Add vegetables, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Transfer evenly to the prepared baking dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and salt. Stir in cheese and cooked bacon. Pour evenly over potato mixture.

Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes, or until eggs are set.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Kitchen House

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

If you liked The Help, give this book a try.  It's a little more intense, but an interesting and intriguing read. 

Review from Amazon:

When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family.
Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin.
Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.
The Kitchen House is a tragic story of page-turning suspense, exploring the meaning of family, where love and loyalty prevail.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Barbequed Chicken

Barbequed Chicken

Serves 6.

I doubled the recipe for a family gathering, hence the mound of chicken breasts in the photo above. But for enough marinade for about 6 breasts,
follow the recipe below.
Barbeque chicken on the grill is a classic summer recipe.
Slightly adapted from: Williams-Sonoma Grilling & Roasting cookbook

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T. unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1-1/2 c. tomato ketchup
1/3 c. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. steak sauce2 T. cider vinegar
1/3 c. firmly packed brown sugar

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ketchup, water, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, vinegar, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover partially, and simmer until thickened slightly, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

Reserve 1/4 cup of the sauce for basting while grilling, and 1/2 cup of sauce for passing at the table once you've sat down to eat. Use the remaining sauce to marinate the chicken breasts for at least 30 minutes, but ideally overnight.

Grill chicken breasts over medium heat until cooked through, about 10-12 minutes, flipping once halfway through.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Coq Rogue

Coq Rogue

Makes 1 drink.

This one's stiff! 
Source: Retro Cocktails

2 parts light rum
1 part gin
1 part freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
1 part triple sec

Stir or shake with cracked ice.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and serve straight up.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Love Story: A Novel

Love Story: A Novel by Erich Segal

A short and sweet book.  You can read this in a day, and sometimes, after a looong, mentally challenging book, you need one of these.  A book that you can get through quickly, clear your mental palate, and enjoy a simple little love story.

Product descrption from Amazon:

The Phenomenal National Bestseller
and Enduring Classic

He is Oliver Barett IV, a rich jock from a stuffy WASP family on his way to a Harvard degree and a career in law.
She is Jenny Cavilleri, a wisecracking working-class beauty studying music at Radcliffe.
Opposites in nearly every way, Oliver and Jenny immediately attract, sharing a love that defies everything ... yet will end too soon. Here is a love that will linger in your heart now and forever.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Guacamole - for a crowd!

Guacamole - for a crowd!

This guacamole typically gets rave reviews.  Bring it to you next summer gathering!

5 avocados
2 cloves garlic, mashed or diced as small as possible
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro
3 limes, juiced
2 t. salt

Slice avocados in half; remove pits and scoop avocado flesh into a large bowl. Add garlic, red onion, cilantro, juice from limes, and salt. Mash until well combined. Add additional ingredients to taste.

A Note From The Little Lady: Optional guacamole add-ins include corn, freshly chopped tomato, black beans

Friday, June 3, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pie

Chocolate Chip Pie

Serves 8.

Mmm... yum. It's like eating a huge, soft chocolate chip cookie topped with light and fluffy homemade whipped cream. Actually, that's exactly what it is!
Source: The Dean Bros. cookbook

1-2/3 c. all purpose flour
3/4 t. salt
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1-1/2 t. vanilla extract
1-1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Whipped Cream:
1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream
1/8 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" pie plate; set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. In a bowl with an electric mixer, cream together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture, a little at a time, and mix until fully combined. Fold in the 1-1/2 cups chocolate chips. Transfer the dough to the prepared pie crust and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake about 27-30 minutes or until the pie is golden an slightly firm to the touch but still soft. If the pie begins to darken too much before it is baked through, cover with foil and continue baking. Let the pie cool completely on a wire rack.

While the pie cools, whip the cream until soft peaks form (tips curl). Add the powdered sugar and whip until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate whipped cream until ready to serve pie. Spread the whipped cream over the pie and serve.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Catching Fire

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

When I started reading book 2 (follow-up to book 1, The Hunger Games), I momentarily considered putting it down and not following through with the triology.  Science fiction books have never been my favorites and at page 100, I still wasn't feeling hooked.  But I pushed through and by page 150 I was feeling the same urge to keep reading that I felt the second half of the first book.  By the time I finished, I had already requested book 3 from the library...

School Library Journal review from

Starred Review. Gr 7 Up--Every year in Panem, the dystopic nation that exists where the U.S. used to be, the Capitol holds a televised tournament in which two teen "tributes" from each of the surrounding districts fight a gruesome battle to the death. In The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, the tributes from impoverished District Twelve, thwarted the Gamemakers, forcing them to let both teens survive. In this rabidly anticipated sequel, Katniss, again the narrator, returns home to find herself more the center of attention than ever. The sinister President Snow surprises her with a visit, and Katniss’s fear when Snow meets with her alone is both palpable and justified. Catching Fire is divided into three parts: Katniss and Peeta’s mandatory Victory Tour through the districts, preparations for the 75th Annual Hunger Games, and a truncated version of the Games themselves. Slower paced than its predecessor, this sequel explores the nation of Panem: its power structure, rumors of a secret district, and a spreading rebellion, ignited by Katniss and Peeta’s subversive victory. Katniss also deepens as a character. Though initially bewildered by the attention paid to her, she comes almost to embrace her status as the rebels’ symbolic leader. Though more of the story takes place outside the arena than within, this sequel has enough action to please Hunger Games fans and leaves enough questions tantalizingly unanswered for readers to be desperate for the next installment.