What's Cooking - 2006

The snow is blowing and Christmas lights are twinkling up and down the street. I love this time of the year. Every Christmas Eve I have 18-20 people for a sit-down dinner. Each year I select a different country and prepare its traditional holiday foods. This year I’m abandoning a 35 year tradition. Yes, I started when I was 3. Don’t I wish!

Below is a much simpler meal with marvelous flavors. It’s easy and can be prepared ahead of time then heated on the day you serve it. What a relief for our busy schedules.

December’s Choice

• Mock Chicken Legs
• Twice Baked Potatoes
• Blanched Fresh Green Beans
• Sautéed Mushrooms
• Crescent Rolls
• Dry White Wine – Chardonnay

Mock Chicken Legs

Use equal amounts of the three meats. If you are anti-veal, the beef and pork alone are still great.

Veal shoulder cut into 2” cubes
Pork tenderloin cut into 2” cubes
Beef Eye of Round cut into 2” cubes
Seasoned bread crumbs
Olive oil
Skewers about 6” – 7” in length

Alternate the meat cubes as you skewer them. Set aside on waxed paper. I suggest you make extras and freeze them for future use.

Combine eggs and pepper in a flat bowl. Dip the skewers, one at a time, into the mixture. Roll in the bread crumbs then set them back onto the waxed paper.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat ½” olive oil in a frying pan. When the oil has a film carefully put in a few of the skewers and brown well. As they are cooked set them into a baking dish, stacking the skewers is fine.

Cover the dish and bake for 1-1 ½ hours or until fork tender.

Do NOT add any liquid to the meat. It will produce a fantastic sauce.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Baking potatoes 1 per person
Cheddar cheese grated
Olive oil
Sour cream

The amounts of the ingredients are left up to your taste, but don’t be sparing if you want great flavor.

Preheat oven to 400°. Wash potatoes under cool water. Rub the skins with a little olive oil then make a small slit across their tops. Bake until a toothpick can be easily inserted.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the butter, cheddar cheese and sour cream.

When potatoes are tender slice them in half then scoop out the pulp onto the above mixture. Whip together well. Refill the shells then sprinkle a little paprika for color. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for the next day.

Heat before serving in a 325° for about 25 minutes.

Blanched Fresh Green Beans

3 lbs. green string beans, trimmed
6 quarts water
2 tbs. butter
3 tbs. salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large pot bring the water and salt to a full boil. Drop the beans in by the handful. Return water to a boil, reduce the heat to moderate and boil the beans uncovered for 8 to 13 minutes or until they are just tender. Drain in a colander.

If the beans are to be served immediately, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a 2 quart pan and toss the beans for a minute or two. Season them with pepper to taste, transfer them to a heated dish and serve.

If serving the beans later, refresh them after draining by plunging the colander into a large pot of cold water for a minute or two. Drain thoroughly, cover and set aside. Refrigerate if they are to be used the next day. When ready to serve, melt the butter, toss beans, and warm them over moderate heat.

Sautéed Mushrooms

Mini Portobello mushrooms
Olive oil
Small onion sliced thin
2 tbs. Butter
Dry vermouth
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Clean the mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Slice in half if medium, cut into thirds if large.

On medium heat dribble a small amount of olive oil into a medium sized frying pan and add the butter. Toss in the sliced onions and mushrooms. Sauté until almost tender. Pour a small amount of vermouth over the mushrooms and continue to heat. To serve, grind pepper across the top and spoon into a warm serving dish.

Crescent Rolls

Run – do not walk – to your favorite grocery store and stock up on a good brand of rolls. It’s the easiest way to serve bread.

No matter what your religious preference, have a very Happy Holiday Season! See you next year with a series of winter menus to warm your tummy.

It’s freezing here in the Midwest. We had two days of Indian Summer and now we’re wearing turtlenecks and heavy mittens. The good thing is I can use the oven and not only enjoy the extra warmth, but also the marvelous aromas.

November’s Choice

• Damned Good Pot Roast
• Asian Salad
• French Bread
• Dry Red Wine – Cabernet Sauvignon

Damned Good Pot Roast

3 – 3 ½ pound boneless chuck roast
1 cup or so of beef broth
1 clove pressed garlic
5 red potatoes quartered
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 medium onion quartered
½ tsp. lemon pepper
15 mini carrots
3 tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. cornstarch
¼ cup beef stock

Preheat the oven to 325°.

Combine garlic, oregano, and lemon pepper to form an herb paste. Rub evenly over the meat.

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven. When the oil has a film carefully put in the roast and brown on all sides. Add the beef stock until it is half way or so up the meat. Add the onion. Cover and bake in the oven for 1 hour 45 minutes.

Add the potatoes and carrots. Roast for another 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Remove the meat and vegetables to a serving platter. Keep warm under foil while you prepare the gravy.

Strain the liquid and skim off any fat. Return the liquid to the Dutch oven. Heat on medium. Combine the cornstarch and remaining beef stock. Pour into the simmering liquid. Increase heat and boil the mixture for 1 minute or until thickened, stirring constantly.

Serve the roast and vegetables with the gravy on the side. The French breads is marvelous for dipping!

This is a perfect leftover for another dinner or lunch. It freezes beautifully.

Asian Salad

¾ cup olive oil
¼ cup cider vinegar
¾ cup sugar
1 tbs. Worcestershire
1/3 cup ketch-up
pinch salt
1 small onion chopped

Beat all the ingredients together well.

1 lb. mixed lettuces
3 hard boiled eggs chopped
1 can bean sprouts, drained
½ lb. bacon diced, fried crisp
1 can water chestnuts, drained and sliced

Use a variety of lettuces for more texture and taste. Toss all the ingredients, in a large bowl. Refrigerate until meal time. Scale this down to the right number of people you plan to serve as it does not last for the next day.

Have we got a meal for you this month. People are emailing me recipes faster then Studs and I can chow them down. Every recipe submitted is tested at Sloane Central and every one of them is yummy.

Sharon Lucas provided the marvelous appetizer, Gilda Frangella shared the beautiful chicken and Linda Hinckley sent over the great salad along with the to-die-for dessert. Thank you all!

October’s Choice

• Hot to Trot Jalapeños
• Parmesan Chicken Breasts
• Party Pasta Salad
• Triple Rich Brownies
• Dry Crisp White Wine – Chardonnay

Hot to Trot Jalapeños

50 Jalapeño peppers
1 Pkg. Bob Evans Italian sausage – the green package
2 8oz pkg. cream cheese
2 5oz pkg. shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Cut peppers in half and remove the seeds. Be sure to wear throw away latex gloves as pepper seeds are nothing to fool with.

Brown the sausage, splitting into small chunks and drain.

Mix the sausage with the cream cheese and shredded cheese.

Stuff the peppers creating small mounds on the top. Bake 20 – 30 minutes until slightly golden.

You can scale this recipe down to half very easily.

Parmesan Chicken Breasts

4 boneless chicken breasts
1 egg beaten with a little milk
1 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 325°. Spray the baking dish with a very light coating of Pam.

Pour a little olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Heat the pan on medium as you do the following.

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Dip the meat into the egg mixture and coat well with the cheese.

Sauté in the oil about 10 minutes until coating is almost melted together. It will be pale. Put the pieces in the baking dish and continue to cook for 20 minutes or until the chicken is browned and crusty.

Party Pasta Salad

8 oz bow-tie pasta
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
¾ cup dried tart cherries
2 Tbs. Dijon-style mustard
½ cup carrots chopped
1 tsp. basil
¼ cup cucumber chopped
½ tsp. oregano
¼ cup green onion chopped
¼ tsp. thyme
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Freshly ground pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well and rinse.

In a large bowl combine pasta, cherries, carrots, cucumbers, and green onions. Mix gently.

In another bowl combine the vinegar, oil, lemon, mustard, basil, oregano, thyme, and pepper. Mix well.

Pour over pasta mixture and stir gently.

Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. Mix gently before serving.

Triple Rich Brownies for the Chocolate Lovers

2 oz baking chocolate, divided use
1 cup nuts chopped
¾ cup butter, divided use
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 large egg
¾ teas. Vanilla extract
2/3 granulated sugar
3 Tbs. cream
¼ cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine 1 ounce baking chocolate and ¼ cup butter by melting over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Beat together egg and sugar. Slowly add to chocolate mixture beating well.

Stir in flour and chopped nuts.

Pour into a lightly buttered 9-inch pan. Bake for twenty minutes.

Set aside to cool.

For the second layer, cream together ¼ cup butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and cream. Spread on top of the cooled brownies.

Combine 1 oz baking chocolate and ¼ cup butter, melt over low heat. Pour the chocolate/butter mixture over the second layer. Chill until firm.

It’s hard to believe fall is a few short weeks away. Soon it will be time for chili and stew. I refuse to let go of summer and easy cooking just yet. This month we have a menu that is so easy you’ll want to repeat it during the holiday season to lighten your work load.

September’s Choice

• Easy Baked Chicken Breasts
• Rice with Chicken Stock
• Salad
• Dry Crisp White Wine Chardonnay

Easy Baked Chicken Breasts

4 boneless chicken breasts
5 tsp. Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 425°. Spray the baking dish with a light coating of Pam.

Rinse the chicken and pat dry.

Mix the mayo and bread crumbs together in a small bowl. Spread onto both sides of the chicken.

Sprinkle the top of the coated chicken with the bread crumbs.

Bake for 20 minutes.

This is a mouth watering dish that freezes well.


Select your favorite brand of rice and make according to the package directions. Substitute half the water for chicken stock.

I like to make extra as rice freezes well then it’s handy when I’m running late on another day.


zucchini peeled & quartered
tomatoes quartered
green onions sliced
your favorite bottled dressing

Use a variety of lettuces for more texture and taste. Toss all the ingredients, except the dressing, in a large bowl. Refrigerate until meal time.

Please accept my apologies for not entering a July Menu. Life was hectic and the month just got away from me.

To make up, I’ve selected a wonderful meal to help you fight the Dog Days of Summer. Beth Anderson supplied the main course and it’s a lot of fun to do. Your family and friends will love it and kids will think you’re fantastic. This menu works well as dinner, brunch, or breakfast.

August’s Choice

• Ziploc Omelet
• Hash Browns
• Coffee Cake of your choice, bakery or frozen
• Fresh Fruit
• Italian bread with Butter
• Dry Crisp White Wine Pinot Grigio for brunch or dinner.
• Coffee is best for breakfast.
• Mimosa’s which work great for any meal.

Ziploc Omelet

2 eggs cracked into a Ziploc bag, shake to blend
Diced Ham
Green Peppers
Chopped Onions
Sliced Raw or Canned Mushrooms
Diced Tomato
Variety of Grated Cheeses
Butter and Pam for sauteing
And anything else that suits your taste buds

Each guest adds their choice of ingredients to their bag. Make sure to release all the air from the bag and zip it up. Shake well.

Place the bags into rolling, boiling water for exactly 13 minutes. You should be able to cook 6- 8 omelets in a large pot.

Unzip the bag over a plate and be amazed as a perfect omelet rolls onto your plate!

Hash Browns

Select any frozen or refrigerated brand that you like. Make in advance and keep warm in the oven on slices of white bread (it absorbs the grease) so you too can join the omelet fun.

Fresh Fruit

It’s summer and the fruit is at its peak. Let your imagination run wild. Either toss together a fruit salad or set out a big bowl of whole fruit for the crowd to prepare as they like.

Have a fun time and please let me know your opinion.

Studs and I are big on friends and family. Memorial Day we shared a fun filled day with friends for a cookout. Ann Druetzler, who I’ve known longer than any of us want to acknowledge, made a wonder dish and has allowed me to copy her recipe for you. Thank you, Ann!

June’s Choice

• Fresh Tomato Tart
• Salad
• Italian bread with Flavored Olive Oil
• Dry Crisp White Wine Pinot Grigio

Fresh Tomato Tart

1 refrigerated pie crust
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cups grated mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
5 Roma tomatoes
¾ cup snipped fresh basil
4 chopped gloves garlic
¼ teas. White pepper
½ cup grated Asiago or Romano cheese

Preheat the oven to 375. Place crust in a tart or 9 inch pie plate. Sprinkle with a little of the mozzarella cheese. Cut the tomatoes into wedges and lay attractively over the cheese.

Combine the basil, garlic, cheeses and mayo. Add pepper to taste. Spread the mixture evenly over the tomatoes. Bake for ½ hour or until the tart starts to brown and bubble


This dish is just as fantastic served at room temperature on an appetizer buffet.


Select at least two different types of lettuce. Clean out your fridge by throwing in cut up radishes, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, and anything else that strikes your fancy. Toss it all together then refrigerate until serving time.

Rosemary Flavored Olive Oil

A good quality olive oil
Sprigs of fresh rosemary

Fill a glass bottle with the olive oil. Slip several sprigs of rosemary into the bottle. Be sure the herb is completely covered with the oil. Store out of the sun for three days. Remove the herbs and the flavored oil is good for two months.

This works well with all herbs and/or garlic.

Remember to have some grated cheese in a dish for the diners to add to the oil on their side plate. Dip your bread into in and your mouth will swear it’s never eaten better.

Are you more occupied with working in the yard than cooking? Try this month’s selection and your family, or lover, will think you spent the day over a hot stove.

May’s Choice

• Chicken Cutlets
• Roasted Potatoes with Thyme and Vinegar
• Candied Orange Carrots
• Dry Crisp White Wine


Boneless chicken breasts. I prefer Tyson’s bag of frozen breasts.
5 slices bacon chopped
1/4c flour
1 Tbs. fresh rosemary
1/8 teas. red pepper flakes
1 Tbs. Butter
1 C chicken broth
4 garlic cloves crushed
2 Tbs. lemon juice

Fry bacon over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon onto paper towels to drain. Spoon off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat.

Meanwhile, place flour in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken in the flour and shake to remove excess. Add butter to the reserved fat in the pan and heat over high temperature, swirling to melt the butter. When the foam subsides, reduce heat to med-high and cook chicken until browned on both sides, 3 – 4 minutes. per side. Transfer chicken to a plate and tent with foil.

Reduce heat to medium and add garlic, rosemary, pepper flakes. Cook under one minute. Do not let the garlic brown. Add broth and lemon juice, scrape up browned bits with a wooden spoon, and simmer until slightly thick, about 4 minutes.

Return chicken and bacon to pan, simmer turning chicken once until sauce is thick and glossy, 2 – 3 minutes. Adjust seasoning with black pepper.


3 Tbs. olive oil
3 Tbs. cider vinegar
3 teas. Kosher salt
2 lbs. potatoes quartered
1 teas. Dried thyme

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, salt, thyme, and vinegar.

Place the potatoes in a large Zip-lock plastic bag. Pour the mixture over them and gently shake the bag to coat evenly.

Spread the potatoes in an even layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle and remaining mixture over them. Bake until potatoes are tender and slightly browned, about 50 minutes.

Candied Orange Carrots

1/2 lb. of ready to eat carrots
Juice of one orange
1 pinch nutmeg
¼ C maple syrup
4 Tbs. butter
Chopped fresh parsley

Place all the ingredients together in a saucepan. Gently simmer, covered, until the carrots are bright orange and tender.

Garnish with the parsley and serve.

The leftovers from this meal make a perfect lunch and is easily reheated.

It’s a new month already. Hard to imagine where all the time has flown. It’s also that time of year to get in shape for your new bikini. Starting this month we’ll have recipes a bit lighter on the calories but not short on taste.

April’s Choice

• Sauteed Chicken Breast
• Rice
• Salad
• Dry Crisp White Wine


Boneless chicken breasts. I prefer Tyson’s bag of frozen breasts.
Olive oil
Chicken stock fresh or canned
Marjoram to taste
Chopped parsley, preferably fresh

Place the breasts in a glass dish, cover with milk and soak for a minimum of 3 hours. You can also soak them overnight. If you choose to soak for more than 3 hours be sure to refrigerate the dish. I learned this from a very talented chef in Salzburg, Austria.

Preheat the oven to 200. Put your dishes and serving platter in the oven to warm them.

Saute the breasts in olive oil until the juices run clear 20 – 25 minutes. Be careful not to overdo the cooking. Should the chicken look dry at any point add a bit of the stock.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve.


Follow the instructions of the rice box to prepare. Substitute chicken stock for half of the water.

I like to sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley to camouflage the pasty whiteness.


Select at least two different types of lettuce then clean out your fridge. Throw in cut up radishes, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, and anything else that strikes your fancy. Toss it all together then refrigerate until serving time.

Pass around the flavored olive oil you made last month and enjoy.

Any leftover chicken and rice makes a perfect lunch and is easily reheated. It can be frozen for up to one month. Before you seal the lunch package be sure to add a few tablespoons of chicken stock to keep the rice moist during the reheat

It’s almost spring and time to plan your garden. So who has time for major cooking? This month it’s a one pot main course and I like to use a cooking dish that goes from oven to table. Makes the clean up so much easier.

March’s Choice

• Chicken & Sausage
• Stuffed Plum Tomatoes
• Fresh Italian Bread with Flavored Olive Oil for Dipping
• Dry Crisp White Wine

Rosemary Flavored Olive Oil

A good quality olive oil
Sprigs of fresh rosemary

Fill a glass bottle with the olive oil. Slip several sprigs of rosemary into the bottle. Be sure the herbs are completely covered with the oil. Store out of the sun for three days. Remove the herbs and the flavored oil is good for two months.

This works well with all herbs and/or garlic.

Chicken & Sausage

1# chicken pieces of your choice. If you use breasts they must be quartered.
Italian sausage links cut in half
Red potatoes washed and quartered
Sliced red and yellow peppers
Olive oil
¾ cup tap water
Parsley, preferably fresh

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a large metal pan, I prefer the disposable type, with Pam. Lay in the chicken and sausage. Add the water and garlic. Bake 20 minutes. Stir the mixture several times while it is roasting.

Add the potatoes. Sir well and bake for 25 minutes. Again, stir the mixture several times while it is roasting.

Add the peppers and oregano. Drizzle on the olive oil and bake another 20 minutes or until the potatoes are done.

Monitor the water level in your pan. Be sure to add more if it looks dry.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve.

Stuffed Plum Tomatoes

Plum tomatoes halved and scooped clean
Mini mozzarella balls chopped
Olive oil

Drain the tomatoes cut side down on paper towels. Mix together the remaining ingredients. Scoop the filling into the tomato shells. Chill and serve with the meal or as a first course.

The leftovers from this meal also make a great lunch.

It’s officially winter and damned cold across most of the United States. My only desire is to cuddle up with Studly or a good book if he’s not available. The last thing I want to do is cook a huge meal right before I plan to fall asleep on the sofa. Yet I want to eat something warm and homey. This month’s menu is easy so I can get back to that snuggling.

February’s Choice

• Meat Loaf – Hey! Don’t laugh its good stuff!
• Mashed Potatoes
• Fresh Green Beans
• Shiraz Wine

Meat Loaf

Fresh bread crumbs made from 2 slices of white bread
Onion chopped
½ cup milk
1 egg beaten slightly
1½ # ground chuck or ground round
½ cup barbeque sauce
½ # ground pork

Preheat oven to 350 F. Pour the milk into a cup and drop in the bread crumbs. Let them soak while you prepare the rest.

In a large bowl mix the meat, chopped onion, egg, and barbecue sauce. Gently squeeze the bread crumbs to remove the excess milk and mix into the meat blend. Shape the mixture into a loaf and bake in a non-stick pan for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Carefully pour off the grease then allow to sit for a few minutes before slicing.

Cut only what you need for the meal. Store the remainder covered in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. It makes great sandwiches. Again, check out Studly’s waistline if you doubt me.

Mashed Potatoes

Red potatoes peeled and quartered
Chicken stock fresh or canned
Salt & Pepper to taste

Quantities are subjective in this recipe as it all depends on how many you are feeding. For Studs and I there are 4 medium red potatoes, ½ stick of butter, and ½ cup of milk.

Put the peeled and quartered potatoes in a pot. Pour in chicken stock to¾’s the depth of the potatoes. Fill the pot with water to cover the potatoes. Cover and cook until fork tender.

While the potatoes are cooking put the butter and milk in a microwave oven safe dish and heat for 1 minute.

Drain the potatoes, add the butter/milk blend slowly, and mash. Add the salt & pepper to taste.

Fresh Green Beans

2 quarts water
2 tablespoons butter
1# green beans trimmed
Fresh ground pepper

In a large pot bring the water to a boil over high heat. Drop the beans in by the handful. Return the water to a boil, reduce the heat but maintain the boil and cook uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes. Do not overcook the beans, they should remain crisp. Drain the beans and toss with the butter. Add the pepper to your taste.

All of this meal reheats beautifully in the microwave.

After all the holiday festivities I don’t want to have more dishes or leftovers. It’s time to get back to simple in the kitchen and our new menu fills the bill and your tummy without draining your wallet.

January’s Choice

• Peach Salad
• Baked Sweet Potatoes
• Ham Steak
• Steamed Broccoli Flowerets
• Chardonnay Wine

Peach Salad

Cling peaches canned in lite syrup
Cottage Cheese

Scoop out the quantity of cottage cheese you like in separate salad bowls.

Open the canned peaches but do not drain them. A bit of juice flavors the cheese. If you used sliced peaches, lay them decoratively around the mound of cottage cheese. If you use peach halves, slide them a bit under the cheese to secure them in place. In either case sprinkle a dash of nutmeg over the top. It adds a dash of color and a nice flavor. Store in the fridge until dinner.

Serve with the meal.

Baked Sweet Potatoes

1 potato for each diner, rinsed but not scrubbed

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Lay the potatoes directly onto the oven grates. Bake for 50 minutes (depending on their size) or until a tooth pick inserts easily.

Serve with butter as you would a baked Idaho potato.

Broccoli Flowerets

Broccoli heads rinsed and trimmed allow five medium size pieces per person
Chicken stock fresh or canned
Tap water

Pour a small quantity, about 1/2 cup, of chicken stock into the bottom of your saucepan. Add enough water to come up to the bottom of your steamer. Cover and simmer until just tender. If you don’t have a steamer, drop the broccoli into the simmering water mixture, cover, and cook until just tender.

Ham Steaks

Ham steak
Parsley sprigs

Use your favorite large frying pan. Lay the ham into the cold pan. Cover and heat through.
Garnish with the parsley springs when you serve.