Sloane Taylor - Sweet as Honey, Hotter Than Hell

What’s Cooking – 2010 Archives

The holidays are coming and what better to kick off the festivities but with new dessert recipes. Three talented friends, P.A. Brown, Chris Grover and Dawn Roberto, dropped by to share their tasty treats. Mercy, are they good!

While your home is filling with beautiful aromas, check out their entertaining websites for more on these amazing women:

P.A. Brown
Chris Grover
Dawn Roberto at Love Romances Café

December’s Choice

• Berry Crunch Muffins from P.A. Brown
• Brandied Walnut & Orange Tart from Chris Grover
• Chewy Butterscotch Fingers from P.A. Brown
• Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake from Dawn Roberto

Berry Crunch Muffins from P.A. Brown

½ cup Low fat granola
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 large egg
¾ cup orange, grape juice or cranberry
¼ cup vegetable oil (canola, corn, peanut, etc)
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp grated lemon zest (or if using orange juice use orange zest)
1 ½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries or cranberries
¼ cup flaxseed
1 tsp Vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Coat muffin pans – 12-16, or mini pans – with cooking spray.

Crush granola to eliminate larger chunks.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, flax and salt in a large bowl.

In medium bowl whisk juice, egg, oil, vanilla, zest and sugar and blend until sugar dissolved.

Add liquid to dry mixture. Fold in until just moist, do not over blend. Fold in blueberries.

Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full, sprinkle with enough granola to cover top of muffin. Pat down so granola adheres.

Bake until tops are golden brown and center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pan, cool and cover.

These are great warm. they’re crunchier when fresh, but still taste great the next day.

Word of warning, these are very crumbly. I don’t advise eating over a keyboard.

Brandied Walnut & Orange Tart from Chris Grover

2 tbsp butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg beaten
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup finely ground walnuts
Walnut halves
¼ cup orange peel (see recipe below-Don’t use commercially prepared candied orange rind, it’s just not the same.)
Tart shells

Prepare Orange Peel:

Thinly peel 2 oranges. Place rinds in small saucepan. Cover with water and add 2-3 tbsp white sugar. Cook peel over low heat until soft. When peel has cooled, remove from syrup (you can save the syrup for next time since it keeps well) and grind in food processor–it should resemble minced beef.

Put the ground peel in a glass jar and cover with cognac or brandy, but do not refrigerate or you lose the flavor.

To Make Tart:

Preheat oven to 375 F

Cream butter with brown sugar. Add egg, vanilla, ground walnuts and orange peel.

Fill individual tart shells, (or one large shell), with the mixture. Lay a walnut half on top of each tart.

Bake until brown about 20 – 25 minutes depending on your oven.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Chewy Butterscotch Fingers from P.A. Brown

1 cup flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400F

Melt shortening, add sugar, remove from heat, when cool add egg and beat well.

Combine with dry ingredients, add vanilla. Pour into an 8”x 8” pan.

Bake at 400 F for approx. 30 min. It’s important to take them out of the oven while they are still a little soft. The tops should be developing cracks, like a brownie, but still soft inside. Otherwise they won’t be a chewy as they should be.

Cut while hot.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake from Dawn Roberto

3 cups Flour
2 Cups White sugar (reserve 1 TBSP)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
4 eggs
1 cup oil
1 15 ounce can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup chopped walnuts (reserve 1/2 cup)
1 package chocolate chips (reserve 1/2 cup)
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp. nutmeg
(can add more of the spices if so desire-to taste)

Preheat oven 350 F, grease Bundt cake pan.

In one bowl, mix all dry ingredients and set aside.

In another bowl, add eggs, oil and pumpkin – mix gently. Add in spices and mix well. Slowly add in dry ingredients, mix by hand until blended together.

Add nuts and chocolate chips, folding in gently. Pour into pan.

Mix together reserved sugar, walnuts and chips then sprinkle over batter.

Bake for an hour-cake is done when knife comes out clean.

It’s great to have friends who love to cook. This month we’re featuring two savory dinner recipes from dynamite mystery author P.A. Brown and accompanying tasty treats from effervescent Love Romances Café owner Dawn Roberto.

Check out their entertaining websites for more on these amazing women: P.A. Brown, Dawn Roberto and Love Romances Café.

November’s Choice

• Pat’s Beanless Crockpot Chili
• Pat’s Pizza
• Pumpkin Bars ala Dawn Roberto
• Soft Ginger Pumpkin Cookies Dawn Style

Along with writing mysteries that keep you on the edge of your seat, P.A. Brown is a terrific cook. Here’s a hot recipe to ward off the coming cold weather. P.A.’s notes are italicized.

Pat’s Beanless Crockpot Chili

½ lb bacon, cooked crisp
2 lbs ground meat – can be lean beef, chicken, turkey or pork, or a mixture. Exotic meats can be used as well – venison, buffalo, etc.
2 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
Chopped hot peppers to taste – for no heat, use green bell peppers
Carrots, shredded fine
Chili powder to taste
2 tbsp cocoa powder – should be at least 70% cocoa
salt and pepper to taste
Bottle of dark beer – stout, porter or brown

Optional Additions to include before deglazing
Roasted kernel corn
Mushrooms, chopped
Grilled tomatoes, chopped
Grilled peppers, chopped

Toppings
1 cup of sour cream – Plain yogurt can be substituted for the sour cream
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese – I like sharp, 2-3 year old cheddar, but any cheese will do
Chopped cilantro if you like

Cook bacon till crisp. Drain on paper towel.

Use bacon grease to cook ground meat until it begins to brown, remove from pan and put in crock pot. If there’s a lot of fat, drain most of it. Add all other ingredients, including any of the optional additions you like, to crock pot.

Use beer to deglaze the meat pan, then pour into crock pot, scrapping the bottom of the pan.

Stir cock pot well with a wooden spoon. Cook on high for half an hour, then turn to low and let it simmer all day if you want.

Serve with corn bread, garlic bread, or crusty rolls. Top with grated cheese, sour cream, cilantro if used.

This chili is wonderful with fries and cheese for chili fries. Or topping a hamburger.

Freezes very well. Could be kept for up to 6 months. This one only gets better with age.

Pat’s Pizza

Sauce*
1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes**
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
½ small white onion, chopped fine
6-8 large basil leaves, chopped fine
Large bunch of fresh oregano, chopped fine or 2 tbsp dried oregano

Dough
1 cup whole wheat flour***
1 cup all purpose white***
1 tsp salt
¼ cup virgin olive oil
1 cup warm water
1 pkg yeast
1tsp sugar
¼ cup corn meal

Toppings (some possibilities)
½ – ¾ cup Mozzarella cheese, grated****
¼ cup Parmigiana cheese, grated fine*****
Fresh mushrooms, chopped
Pepperoni, sliced think
Peppers (green, yellow, red)
Ham
Fresh tomatoes
Sausage
Onions
Pineapple
Bacon
Anchovies
Chicken
Spinach
Olives
Garlic
Zucchini
Broccoli
Basil leaves
Roast peppers or tomatoes
Anything else you can think of
You can even slip in things like finely grated carrots, or flaxseed into the sauce.

For the best results, make the sauce the day before. Blend tomatoes, garlic, onion, basil and oregano. I use a food processor or blender. A hand held blender will work, too. Do not over blend. There should be some texture to the sauce. Cover and refrigerate at least overnight to blend flavors. DO NOT COOK.

For dough, add yeast and sugar to warm water. The best temperature is just warm to the touch. Let stand for 10 minutes in warm place. Add flour and salt to large bowl. Blend well. Add water and yeast. Add oil and mix well. Turn dough out onto a dry, floured surface, knead for at least 10 minutes. Add flour as needed until dough is no longer sticky. Form into a ball and place in a clean, oiled bowl. Cover with damp cloth and put in warm, draft free place. (I put it in the oven with the oven light on) Let rise for at least 2 hours or until dough has doubled in size.

Heat oven to 450 F. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven now.

Divide the dough into 3 even pieces. Roll into balls. On floured surface, knead dough into a disk. I use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 14” circle. It can also be stretched by hand. (I’ve never mastered the art of throwing dough) On a 14” pizza pan, spray with non-stick cooking spray or oil. Dust with corn meal. Fold dough in half, place it on pizza pan and make sure it goes to the edges. Let sit for fifteen minutes. Using a fork poke holes in dough so it doesn’t puff up in oven.

Precook dough for 5 minutes (this helps ensure it doesn’t get soggy from the sauce). Remove from oven. Do this with each piece of dough. Three 14” pizzas can be made (thin crust) or two thick crust or several pie pan individual pizzas. Bake each one for 5 minutes.

Using small ladle or large spoon, spread at least half a cup of sauce on dough (you can use less if you want. I like a lot of sauce with my pizzas). Top with ½ cup of cheese. Layer ingredients over top of cheese. Add another ½ cup of cheese. Sprinkle a couple of teaspoons of parmigiana.

Either using a pizza paddle, or a pizza pan, slide the pizza on the stone. Let cook for 10 minutes, check and rotate. Cook until cheese bubbles and begins to brown. Remove from oven and put on pizza pan sprinkled with corn meal. Let sit for 5 minutes, slice as desired.

* Whole canned tomatoes are freshest – they only undergo 1 cooking, whereas chopped, pureed or crushed are all cooked a second time.

** All whole wheat can be used though the texture will be slightly heavier. Non-bleached white, or all white flour can also be used.

*** Sauce can be frozen and kept for up to four months. Sauce can also be used with panzarotti, lasagna, as a dip for mozzarella sticks, pizza rolls, or anything a good tomato sauce can be put on. English muffins, crusty rolls, pita bread, tortillas, and flat bread can be substituted for the home made crust.

**** A variety of cheeses can be used – including, but not limited to goat, asiago, Monterey Jack, cheddar, feta, blue cheese. Several types of cheese can be blended.

**** Good quality fresh Parmesan is worth the higher price. At all costs, avoid the canned Parmesan. It’s flavorless.

One pie feeds 2-4 people. Wrap leftovers with Saran Wrap. Will keep a day or two in the fridge, but frankly, it’s not as good the next day. This is one meal that tastes best fresh.

My favorite pizza pans are the ones with holes. Other equipment to have if you make pizza regularly include a pizza wheel, pizza stone and pizza paddle. The stone and paddle can also be used to bake bread as well.

With a pizza stone this could also be cooked on a barbecue.

Pumpkin Bars ala Dawn Roberto

2 tsp. Baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour
1 16 oz. can of pumpkin
1 cup oil
1 2/3 cup sugar
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350°F

In mixing bowl, beat together egg, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and soda. Add to the pumpkin mixture and mix thoroughly.

Spread batter in an ungreased 15″ x 10″ pan. Also works well in cupcake tins or pumpkin-shaped tins.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool. Frost with Betty Crocker Cream Cheese Frosting.

Soft Ginger Pumpkin Cookies Dawn Style

Makes 4 dozen cookies

1 cup packed brown sugar
1 ½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp each: nutmeg, allspice and ground cloves
¾ cup butter or margarine, softened
½ cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 egg
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In large bowl, beat brown sugar, crystallized ginger, 3/4 cup softened butter, the pumpkin and egg with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Stir in remaining cookie ingredients to form soft dough. (If dough is too soft, refrigerate about 15 minutes.)

Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Slightly flatten balls.

Bake 7 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

Frost with cream cheese frosting when cooled.

This month is hectic for me with FRENCH TICKLER releasing and completing DANISH DECADENCE. I decided to keep dinners to a minimum amount of work, but still tasty.

The dessert is provided by my good friend, author Raine Delight. You can read about her next addition to the Devon Falls series, Moonlight & Magic on her website, authorrainedelight.com.

October’s Choice

• One Pot Beef Stew
• Egg Noodles
• Tossed Salad
• French or Italian Bread
• Delightful Zucchini Treat
• Red Wine – Pinot Noir

One Pot Beef Stew

2 Tbsp olive oil plus more as needed
1 pound sirloin cut into chunks with fat removed
2 large cloves of garlic pressed
Several sprigs of fresh thyme or ½ tsp dried
1 onion chopped
8 oz. Portobello mushrooms halved
½-¾ tsp dry mustard
pepper to taste
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp sour cream – make it a healthy one
1 ½ cups beef stock

Heat olive oil in a 12 inch pan or larger. Add onions, garlic and thyme. Cook until the onions are translucent. Set this aside in a bowl.

Heat pan again adding olive oil if needed. Add mushrooms and sauté until soft. Remove to same bowl as onions.

Add olive oil to the same pan and heat on medium-high until the oil sizzles. Sprinkle dry mustard, then pepper, on steak chunks. Brown meat on all sides. Set the chunks in the bowl.

On medium heat, pour red wine vinegar into the pan. Add tomato paste and blend in. Mix beef stock and sour cream in a small bowl then add to pan. Bring to a simmer while stirring well to make a fairly smooth broth. Add meat and other cooked ingredients. Heat thoroughly while stirring.

Egg Noodles

Prepare your favorite brand as the package directs.

Salad

Lettuce from 2 different types torn into bite size pieces green leaf and head are excellent
Tomatoes sliced
Cucumber peeled and sliced
Green Onions, sliced, be sure to include some of the green
Mushrooms sliced

Combine everything and toss with your favorite dressing, but be careful not to add too much. The lettuce will get soggy. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Delightful Zucchini Treat

2 cups flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ cup baking cocoa
3 eggs beaten
2 cups grated zucchini – about 1 large zucchini
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pecans and or chocolate chips – optional

Heat oven to 325°. Grease with butter or cooking spray 2 loaf pans.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugars, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and powder and cocoa. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix eggs zucchini, oil, vanilla extract. Slowly add flour mixture, stirring until well combined.

Stir in optional nuts and/or chips.

Divide mixture evenly between the loaf pans. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on a rack then remove from pans.

Dawn Roberto from Love Romances Cafe is back with us, sharing two superb recipes. Studs is licking his chops for another round of Swiss Steak and Easy Apple-Berry Crisp. Works for me!

September’s Choice

• Swiss Steak
• Rice
• Tossed Salad
• French Bread
• Easy Apple-Berry Crisp
• Red Wine – Pinot Noir

Swiss Steak

1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours

1 Tbsp margarine/butter
1 Tbsp flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 lb round steak (Sliced in bite size pieces-I used thin sliced round steak in meat section of grocery store)
¾ cup water
1 green pepper-sliced in strips
1 red pepper-in strips
1 onion-in strips
1 can of either diced tomatoes or whole tomatoes

Melt margarine/butter over med heat. Mix flour and seasonings then dredge meat to cover. Place in hot skillet to brown on both sides.

Add water. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered tightly for one hour, periodically checking to make sure enough liquid is there.

Add peppers, onions and tomatoes to steak and simmer up to another 30-45 minutes longer. (I added a can of water as well to this stage).

Rice

Prepare your favorite brand as the package directs, but replace half the water with chicken broth for more flavor.

Salad

Lettuce from 2 different types torn into bite size pieces green leaf and head are excellent
Tomatoes sliced
Cucumber peeled and sliced
Green Onions, sliced, be sure to include some of the green
Mushrooms sliced

Combine everything and toss with your favorite dressing, but be careful not to add too much. The lettuce will get soggy. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Easy Apple-Berry Crisp

From Dawn:Here’s a dessert recipe that is so easy and YUMMY, too.

1 can apple pie filling
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce (or 1 can cherry pie filling)
¼ cup butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
1 ½ cups dry oatmeal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 10 x 13 baking pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine fruit. In a separate bowl, mix together butter, sugar, and oatmeal (mixture will be crumbly).

Spread fruit mixture evenly in prepared pan. Sprinkle oatmeal topping evenly over fruit. Bake for 30 minutes of until lightly brown and crisp (do not over bake). Serve warm or cold. If desired, top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Hope you enjoy my creations. Feel free to let me know what you think.

Dawn Roberto

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Studs and I spent a wonderful Saturday with another of my favorite men, Andy Druetzler. I’ve known Andy since before he was born. 🙂 He’s the son of our dear friends Bonnie and Tom. This amazing young man has never failed to impress me, but on that day he outdid himself. These are just two of the fabulous recipes Andy created for his lively group of guests.

August’s Choice

• Grilled Marinated Boneless Chicken Breasts
• Grilled Beef Tenderloin
• Grilled Asparagus
• Grape Salad – courtesy of Aunt Ann
• White Wine – Rhine, Chardonnay, or Pino Grigio
• Red Wine – Bordeaux

COOKING HINT: Andy swears his secret is good quality olive oil and sea salt. The two bring out the natural flavors of the food.

Grilled Marinated Boneless Chicken Breasts

This poultry may be served as sandwiches or an entrée.

1 or 2 boneless chicken breasts per person

The following amounts are all to your personal taste:

Extra virgin olive oil – enough to almost cover the chicken
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
Garlic powder
Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

Combine olive oil, sea salt, ground pepper, garlic powder and Frank’s Red Hot Sauce in a glass pan or disposable aluminum pan large enough to hold the quantity of chicken you are preparing. Add the chicken and cover with clear wrap. Marinate anywhere from 2 to 24 hours. Be sure to set in refrigerator if marinating longer than 3 hours.

Heat grill on the lowest setting. Add the chicken, close the lid and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, depends on the thickness of the poultry. Turn the breasts 2 or 3 times. Please be sure they are done with no pink on the inside before serving. Remember – all meat continues to cook a bit after it’s removed from the heat.

Sharp cheddar or provolone cheese may be added at the end. Allow cheese to melt before serving.

Grilled Beef Tenderloin

1 beef tenderloin

The following amounts are all to your personal taste:

Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

Rub a healthy potion of olive oil onto the beef. Be sure to coat the ends. Place the meat in a glass or disposable aluminum pan large enough to house the meat comfortably. Sprinkle with sea salt and ground pepper. Cover with clear wrap and marinate anywhere from 2 to 24 hours. Be sure to set in refrigerator if marinating longer than 3 hours.

Heat grill on medium setting. Add the beef, close the lid and cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until it is cooked to your preference. Turn the roast 2 or 3 times to avoid burning.

Grilled Asparagus

3 or 4 spears per person

The following amounts are all to your personal taste:

Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
Garlic powder

Set grill to high heat. Lay the spears on the grate. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, fresh ground pepper and garlic powder.

Turn frequently. Asparagus are done when medium to well browned.

Dessert Grape Salad

1 lb. seedless green grapes
1 ob. Seedless red grapes
12 oz. container whipped cream cheese – use large container for this quantity of grapes
Plain yogurt
1 cup pecan halves or slivered almonds
1 – 2 Tbl. brown sugar

Wash grapes. Remove from stems. Lay on cloth or paper towels to dry while you prepare the other ingredients

In a medium-sized bowl, combine whipped cream cheese and enough plain yogurt together to make a smooth dressing. The consistency should equal Ranch salad dressing. Gently stir in grapes until well-coated. Turn this mixture into serving bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the nuts with the brown sugar, then sprinkle across the top of the grapes. Keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.

June is busting out all over and so will I if I don’t start eating healthier. After a few failed attempts, I’ve finally come up with a nice fish recipe I think you’ll enjoy.

June’s Choice

• Tilapia with Citrus Bagna Cauda
• Rice
• Tossed salad
• White Wine – Riesling or Chardonnay

Tilapia with Citrus Bagna Cauda

3 tilapia filets
1½ Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil plus 1 teas.
½ teas. anchovy paste
2 cloves garlic pressed
1Tbs. orange juice plus ½ teas.
1 Tbs. fresh basil if you use dried then 1 teas.
½ teas. lemon juice
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Sauce

Heat butter and olive oil in a pan until butter is melted. Add anchovy paste. Stir to dissolve. Add garlic, cook until fragrant about 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Stir in orange and lemon juices.

Sauce cane be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Warm before using.

Fish

Preheat oven to 200°F

Sprinkle fish with pepper. Brush with remaining olive oil. Fry fish until opaque about 3 minutes per side. Drizzle sauce over the fish and serve.

Rice

Prepare your favorite brand as the package directs, but replace half the water with chicken broth for more flavor.

Tossed Salad

Lettuce from 2 different types torn into bite size pieces green leaf and head are excellent
Tomatoes sliced
Cucumber peeled and sliced
Green Onions, sliced, be sure to include some of the green
Mushrooms sliced

Combine everything and toss with your favorite dressing, but be careful not to add too much. The lettuce will get soggy. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Our good friend Bonnie is a terrific cook and guest this month. She not only has a feel for combining just the right flavors, she also sets the perfect table.

May’s Choice

• Cream of Broccoli Soup
• Jamazetti
• Fresh Italian Bread
• White Wine – Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay

Cream of Broccoli Soup

46 oz. chicken broth
1 lb. fresh broccoli
1 small onion chopped
1 med. white potato peeled and diced
½ cup cornstarch
1 cup whipping cream
Grated cheddar cheese, optional

Heat broth and veggies to boiling, cover and simmer until tender. Mash mixture or use a food processor on puree, be careful it’s hot.

Whisk cream and cornstarch together. Stir in hot broth to the mixture, a few tablespoons at a time, until ½ cup has been added. Reverse the process by adding mixture to the soup.

Return to medium heat until warmed through and thickened.

Serve with grated cheese.

Jamazetti

2 Tbs. olive oil
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 green onion chopped
1 ½ lbs. ground chuck
1 can tomato soup
1 can tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
½ teas. black pepper
½ cup pimento stuffed olives sliced thin
½ lb. fresh mushrooms sliced and cooked
½ lb. wide noodles cooked
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 deg.

In a nonstick 12 inch skillet, sauté meat over medium heat, about 10 minutes then drain.

Pour olive oil in a Dutch oven and sauté celery, onion and green pepper, about 5 minutes.

Combine the meat with the veggies, mix well. Stir in soup, sauce, paste and black pepper. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add olives, mushrooms and noodles to the pot. Cover with grated cheese and bake uncovered 20 minutes or until cheese melts.

This dish freezes well and reheats beautifully.

Fish is a food many people shy from. This month I wanted to share a recipe my family loves, particularly my Lenten vegetarian granddaughter. It’s easy, fills the house with a beautiful aroma, and tastes great.

April’s Choice

• Cod Livornese
• Tossed Salad
• Fresh Italian Bread
• White Wine – Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay

Cod Livornese

10 – 30 minutes
Makes 4 servings

4 tea. olive oil
½ medium onion sliced thin
2 garlic cloves presses
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 141/2 oz. can diced tomatoes
¼ sliced black olives
¼ cup parsley chopped fresh or dry
2 Tbs. drained capers
¼ tea. crushed red pepper
4 pieces cod about 6 oz. each and cut to handle easily

In nonstick 12 inch skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion, stir occasionally, until translucent and lightly brown. Stir in garlic, cook 30 seconds. Add wine, cook 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes with the juice, olives, parsley, capers and red pepper. Heat to boiling.

Place cod fillets over tomato mixture. Lower heat to medium. Cover skillet and cook until cod turns opaque throughout and flakes, about 9 minutes.

Don’t prepare extra. Leftovers aren’t any where as good as the fresh cooked meal.

Tossed Salad

Lettuce from 2 different types torn into bite size pieces green leaf and head are excellent
Tomatoes sliced
Cucumber peeled and sliced
Green Onions sliced, be sure to include some of the green
Mushrooms sliced

Combine everything and toss with your favorite dressing, but be careful not to add too much. The lettuce will get soggy. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Garlic bread is a great added touch with this meal!

Amazing Dawn Roberto, owner of Love Romances Café and frequent guest chef, has provided a superb meal that’s easy, quick and absolutely delicious. Studs is already licking his lips for the next time I make it.

March’s Choice

• Swiss Steak over Rice
• Tossed Salad
• Fresh Italian Bread
• Easy Apple-Berry Crisp
• Red Wine – Pinot Noir or Merlot

Swiss Steak

1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours

1 tbs. butter
1 tbs. flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 pound round steak (Sliced in bite size pieces-I used thin sliced round steak in meat section of grocery store)
1 green pepper sliced strips
1 red pepper sliced in strips
1 onion sliced in strips
1 can of either diced tomatoes or whole tomatoes

1) Melt margarine/butter over med heat. Mix flour and seasonings then dredge meat to cover. Place in skillet to brown on both sides.

2) Add 2-3 TBSP water (I added more-about a cup- to this part), reduce heat to low and simmer covered tightly for one hour, periodically checking to make sure enough liquid is in there.

3) Add peppers, onions and tomatoes to steak and simmer up to another 30-45 minutes longer. (I added a can of water as well to this stage).

4) Serve over rice with fresh bread/salad.

Tossed Salad

Lettuce from 2 different types torn into bite size pieces green leaf and head are excellent
Tomatoes sliced
Cucumber peeled and sliced
Green Onions sliced, be sure to include some of the green
Mushrooms sliced

Combine everything and toss with your favorite dressing, but be careful not to add too much. The lettuce will get soggy. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Easy Apple-Berry Crisp

1 can apple pie filling
1 can whole berry
1 can cranberry sauce or 1 can cherry pie filling
½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups dry oatmeal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. spray a 10 x 13 baking pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine fruit. In a separate bowl, mix together butter, sugar, and oatmeal (mixture will be crumbly). Spread fruit mixture evenly in prepared pan. Sprinkle oatmeal topping evenly over fruit. Bake for 30 minutes of until lightly brown and crisp (do not over bake). Serve warm or cold. If desired, top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Dawn

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The other night we had dinner with Studs’ mom, and two of his eight siblings. Mary made her tasty salad dressing from scratch and it’s superb. Terry created spaghetti sauce like I’ve never had, but sure do hope he does it again, real soon. Hint-hint. Below are the easy recipes and a little dessert I like to serve after a spicy meal.

February’s Choice

• Spaghetti with Sauce
• Tossed Salad with Mar’s Yummy Dressing
• Fresh Italian Bread
• Chocolate Covered Pears with French Vanilla Ice Cream
• Red Wine – Chianti or Merlot

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

1 lb. dried spaghetti
2 tbs. butter
2 tbs. olive oil
1 pound ground chuck
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
¾ c. thinly sliced onion
2 large garlic gloves pressed
3 (14oz) cans tomato sauce
1 small can tomato paste
1 small green pepper sliced thin
1 c. sliced mushrooms, not too thin
Basil handful
Oregano handful
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Melt butter and oil in a large sauce pan. Add ground chuck and sausage, breaking up the chunks with a spatula. After meat is richly browned, add onions and sauté for 2 – 4 minutes. You want the onions soft but not brown, so if the cooking time is less that’s fine. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute. Stir in tomato sauce, paste, basil and oregano. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for about an hour without a lid to thicken the sauce.

Stir in mushrooms, green pepper, and ground pepper. Cover the pot and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.

Tossed Salad with Mary’s Yummy Dressing

6 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. lemon juice
Lettuce from 2 different types torn into bite size pieces green leaf and head are excellent
Tomatoes sliced
Cucumber peeled and sliced
Basil to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese

Whisk olive oil and lemon juice until well mixed. Combine all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Pour on a small amount of dressing and toss well until leaves lettuce glisten. Add more dressing as needed, but be careful not to add too much. The lettuce will get soggy. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Chocolate Covered Pears with French Vanilla Ice Cream

Canned pear halves in heavy syrup
¼ c. dark rum
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
French vanilla ice cream

Drain pears over a small saucepan. Reduce the liquid over medium-high heat, about 13 minutes. Add chocolate chips to hot liquid. Sit until melted, then remove from heat.

Lay pear slices in pretty serving bowls. Add a scoop of ice cream. Top with a few tablespoons of sauce.

After all the holiday rush it’s a great time for easy. Below is a tasty menu that’s easy and won’t break the bank. It serves 8 so cut back the amounts accordingly when serving fewer people.

January’s Choice

• Beef Stroganoff over Egg Noodles
• Tossed Salad
• Fresh French Bread
• Red Wine – Pinot Noir

Egg Noodles

Fill a large pot with water and follow the package directions to cook. If the noodles are done before the Stroganoff, drain them in a colander and set the pot or lid on top of the noodles to keep them warm. REMEMBER: all noodles/pasta can easily be re-warmed by running hot water over them before serving.

Beef Stroganoff

1 8oz. carton sour cream – reduced fat works well, too
4 tbs. tomato paste
1 ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ c. flour
Fresh ground pepper to taste
2 pounds good steak like porterhouse, t-bone or sirloin, cut into narrow strips
2 tbs. butter
2 tbs. olive oil
¾ c. thinly sliced onion
15 ounces beef stock, maybe a bit more to achieve the consistency you prefer
2 c. sliced mushrooms, not too thin
1 pkg. egg noodles

Combine the sour cream, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl, then set aside while you prepare the remainder of the recipe.

Trim off the fat and cut the steak into strips. In a large paper or plastic bag, combine flour and pepper, add the steak and gently shake to coat the meat.

Melt butter and oil in a large frying pan. Add onions and sauté for 3-5 minutes. You want the onions soft but not brown. Add the coated beef, turn up the heat to medium-high and sauté beef until browned, turning frequently. This takes 5-7 minutes. Slowly pour in the stock, scraping pan to combine browned bits into the mixture. Reduce heat to medium. Sit in mushrooms, cover and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Reduce heat to low and by heaping spoonfuls stir in sour cream mixture. If the sauce looks too thick, slowly add a bit more beef stock until you achieve the consistency you prefer. Cook uncovered 1-3 minutes or until hot. Do NOT let the pan come to a boil.

Scoop egg noodles into soup/salad bowls. Spoon hearty portions of Stroganoff over the noodles and serve.

Leftovers are excellent. To reheat pour the Stroganoff into a saucepan add a little beef stock to thin it and warm through.

Tossed Salad

Lettuce from 2 different types torn into bite size pieces
Tomatoes sliced
Cucumber peeled and sliced
Green onion chopped include some of the green
Any and everything else in the fridge that appeals to you
Your favorite bottled dressing – oil and vinegar works great with this hearty meal

Combine all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Pour on a small amount of dressing and toss. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.