What's Cooking - 2009

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE! This is my favorite time of the year. I love all the excitement and secrecy, but it sure does get hectic and costly. Studs is the money man in our home and no one rules a wallet better than him. So to keep his purse strings happy and save my sanity, I plan several easy meals to keep us going. Below is a tasty offering that works great for dinner if takeout isn’t in your diet.

December’s Choice

• Tomato Soup
• Grilled Cheese
• Tossed Salad
• White Wine – Pinot Grigio

Tomato Soup

1 can of your favorite brand
Chicken stock

Open the can and pour into a saucepan. Instead of adding 1 can of water, add ¾ can chicken stock. Mix well and heat to a slow boil.

Grilled Cheese

2 slices of Italian bread per sandwich
2 slices Provolone cheese per sandwich
2 tbs. butter or margarine

Melt the butter or margarine in a heavy 8-10 inch skillet or griddle over medium heat. Lay in one slice bread for each sandwich then the cheese. Cover with the second slice of bread and fry until the bottom slice is the shade of tan you like. When they’ve achieved a healthy color, flip the sandwiches and fry the other side until it reaches the right color. You made need to add a bit more butter or margarine.

Serve the soup and sandwich along with the salad for an easy tasty meal and relax with the rest of the wine while you watch your favorite holiday movie.

My niece is a marvelous cook and experiments often to the delight of her extended family. Studs and I love being invited for dinner. The following menu has an Italian flair. Let your imagination soar with candles and colorful cloth napkins!

October’s Choice

• Chicken with Sage
• Red-skin Spuds
• Tossed Salad
• Italian Bread
• White Wine – Pinot Grigio

Chicken with Sage

1 boneless chicken breast per person
2 handfuls fresh spinach – frozen can be used, be sure to defrost and dry first
Provolone cheese cut into ½” thick rectangles, 1 for each breast
2 tbs. butter
1 tbs. olive oil
Button or baby Portobello mushrooms, quantity your choice
¼ cup white wine
1 tsp. sage

Flatten the chicken breasts by laying between two sheets plastic wrap. Pound them with a mallet or heavy implement. Be careful not to rip them. Lay the rectangle of Provolone on the flattened breast (sliced cheese will work too) and a small amount of chopped spinach. Roll the breasts, tucking in the ends. Tie with string, snip the ends.

In a heavy 8-10 inch skillet add the olive oil and 1 tbs. butter, heat over medium heat until foam subsides. Sauté chicken roll-ups until brown turn often to brown on all sides and cooked through. It takes 20 – 30 minutes. When they’ve achieved a healthy color, remove from pan to a plate. Place in 200˚ oven.

Chop mushrooms into small pieces. Chop spinach into small pieces.

Deglaze frying pan over medium heat by adding wine and scraping in any browned pieces. Add the remaining tablespoon butter, chopped spinach, mushrooms.

Arrange chicken breasts on individual plates. Top with spoonfuls of the mushroom sauce.

Red-skin Spuds

Petite red-skin potatoes, regular can be used
2 Shallots or red onion equivalent
3 tbs. butter
Parmesan, Asiago or Goat cheese, about a handful
Pepper to taste

Cut potatoes into quarters. If using regular potatoes, cut smaller. Boil in water until tender. Drain and put potatoes into a mixing bowl. Cover to keep warm.

Slice shallots or red onion into pieces into fair size pieces. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in frying pan. Sauté shallots or red onion until browned. Be careful not to let them get too brown, they’ll turn bitter.

Pour contents of frying pan over potatoes. Add in cheese and pepper. Toss well.

Arrange on the plates with the chicken and serve.

The weather is turning to fall here in Northwest Indiana and Studs is looking for heartier dinners. It’s my pleasure to concoct new treats for him and you. Enjoy!

September’s Choice

• Sloane’s Stuffed Peppers
• Boiled Potatoes
• Corn
• French Bread
• Sparkling Wine – Pinot Grigio

Sloane’s Stuffed Peppers


6 med – lg green peppers
¾ cup rice
1 lb. ground chuck
pepper to taste
1 lb. ground pork
1 tbs. parsley
1 med. onion chopped
¼ cup white vinegar
2 garlic cloves pressed
2 tbs. olive oil or lard
1 egg lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350˚.

Cut tops off peppers and clean out seeds and ribs. Drop the peppers into a pot of boiling water that completely covers them. Boil briskly for 2 – 3 minutes. Cover the pot, remove it from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes. With tongs or a slotted spoon, carefully remove the peppers from the water and invert onto paper towels to drain.

Cook rice according to package directions but only for 10 minutes. Drain rice in a colander, run cold water over it and set aside.

In a heavy 8-10 inch skillet add the olive oil or lard, heat over medium heat until a light haze forms. Sauté the onions until soft and translucent about 5 minutes. Do not let them

brown. Drain well. Add in garlic the last minute of cooking.

In a large bowl combine the ground chuck, ground pork, onion garlic blend, egg, rice, pepper, parsley and vinegar. Mix well and set the bowl in the refrigerator.


14 oz. can diced tomatoes
½ cup white vinegar
1 cup chicken stock fresh or canned
2 tbs. flour

Pour ¾ cup chicken stock into a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Pour the remaining chicken stock in a small bowl. Sprinkle in the flour while stirring well with a fork. Whisk this mixture into the saucepan, stirring constantly. Cook over high heat until the sauce comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low, simmer for about 3 minutes, stir in tomatoes with their liquid and vinegar. Heat through. Remove from the heat.

Pour ¼ cup or so of the sauce into an ovenproof baking dish that holds the peppers comfortably.

Spoon the meat mixture into the peppers, forming a small mound on top. DO NOT PACK THEM. Stand them up in the baking dish. Shape the excess meat into medium size balls and lay them between the peppers. Pour the remaining sauce over the meat.

Bake covered 30 minutes. Bake uncovered 10 – 15 minutes longer.

Leftovers freeze great for another meal.

Boiled Potatoes

I’ve discovered Idaho type potatoes make the best mashed or boiled dishes. They cook faster and don’t get that tinge of black when cooked.

Idaho type potatoes 1 per person
bay leaf or basil
chicken stock

Peel the potatoes, rinse and cut them into thirds, then drop into a pot half filled with chicken stock. Add bay leaf or a small amount of basil. Cover the potatoes chunks with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat so potatoes continue to cook with a soft boil. Test with fork after 20 minutes for doneness. Fork should slide in easily. Drain water and remove bay leaf. If you’ve used basil, most will drain away and that’s okay. You want the flavor more than the leaves. Return potatoes and pot to burner with the heat turned off.

While potatoes are cooking, remove ½ stick butter from refrigerator, set on counter.

After the potatoes are cooked and drained, add the butter and pepper to taste. Turn with a spatula or spoon to coat well. You’re ready to serve!


1 can Niblets corn

Drain corn, then pour into micro wave safe bowl. Lay 2 or 3 pats of butter across the top. Micro wave for 3 minutes, stir and serve.

Studs and I have been on a mission to create a romantic meal that can be served anytime the mood strikes you. August’s menu is just the one! Hope you enjoy it.

August’s Choice

• Breakfast Frittata
• Fresh Fruit Salad
• Fresh Bakery Breads, Rolls and a yummy Coffee Cake
• Sparkling Wine – Maybe orange juice to make Mimosas

Breakfast Frittata

4 strips bacon
4 large eggs
¼ lb. ham steak diced
Ground pepper
1 Tsl. chopped onions
3 slices Provolone cheese in pieces
½ Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbs. and ½ Tbs. butter

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cut bacon into bite size pieces. Fry in 10′ skillet until almost done to your taste. Drain in a colander.

To the same skillet add olive oil and the 1 tablespoon butter. Over moderate heat, melt while swirling pan to coat sides. Add diced ham, after you remove any connective tissue, and onions. Sauté until excess moisture from ham is gone. This takes about 3 – 3 minutes.

Whisk eggs well. Break off bits of the ½ tablespoon butter and drops into eggs. Add pepper to taste. Whisk again. Pour eggs into hot skillet. Stir gently to distribute ham as evenly as possible. Top with bacon. As eggs set, lift edges and tip pan to allow raw mixture to flow beneath. Continue until eggs are almost set. Put frying pan in the hot oven for 3 – 4 minutes until eggs are cooked.

Remove pan from oven. Scatter provolone across the frittata, then grate parmesan over the top. Return to oven until provolone is melted.

To serve: Cut into wedges from the skillet.

Serves two

Fresh Fruit Salad

Red grapes seedless
Blueberries or raspberries

Slice all the fruit into a pretty bowl. Add a few drops lime or lemon juice to the bananas to keep them from turning brown. Chill while you make the frittata.

With a lot of help from Dawn Roberto, owner of Love Romances Café and Love Romances and More Reviews, we’ve come up with a scrumptious Italian meal your family is sure to enjoy.

June’s Choice

• Dawn’s Minestrone Soup
• Sloane’s Chicken Italiano
• Fresh Italian Bread
• Chianti Wine – Bella Sera makes a terrific wine and very affordable
• Dawn’s Favorite Cherry Fruit Bars

Dawn’s Minestrone Soup

1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
1 package garlic pasta and veggies (Green Giant frozen blend works best)
1 can kidney beans rinsed and drained
1 can Italian spiced diced tomatoes
¼ C. tomato paste
Grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pot bring chicken broth to a boil. Add pasta veggie mix, kidney beans, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Return to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for about 5 minutes more.

Serve in bowls topped with plenty of grated Parmesan cheese.

Sloane’s Chicken Italiano


3 Chicken breasts boneless and skinless
1 ½ cup white wine
Rosemary – 5 springs fresh or 2 tea. dried
Oregano – 5 springs fresh or 2 tea. dried

Drop the chicken in a plastic bag or glass bowl. Add the wine and herbs. Marinade for a minimum of 2 hours in a cool location.


¼ – ½ cup olive oil
2 TBL minced onion
2 large cloves garlic pressed
A few green pepper strips
1 ½ cups Chicken broth
Your favorite spaghetti sauce
Spaghetti Pasta
Parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a 10”-12” skillet until a light haze forms, sauté onions, then add breasts and brown well.

Add pressed garlic, green pepper and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. About every 10 minutes baste chicken with pan juices.

If breasts are thick it will take about 25 minutes. If they’re thin, plan about 20 minutes. Insert tip of sharp knife in breast center to check for doneness. Juices must run clear.

When almost done add a few spoonfuls of spaghetti sauce for color.

In the meantime, cook the pasta in a large quantity of water until al dente, then drain. Be sure to heat up the spaghetti sauce.


Arrange cooked pasta in a ring on individual plates. Center breasts, then ladle a large spoonful of simmering liquid onto breast. Ladle spaghetti sauce onto pasta only. Sprinkle all with Parmesan cheese.

Dawn’s Favorite Cherry Fruit Bars

1 cup margarine or butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 can cherry filling (blueberry or peach work just as well)

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees

Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl. Add in vanilla and stir. Add eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition. Stir in flour until it makes a batter.

Grease a 13×9 pan. Spread ¾ of the batter onto the pan bottom. Top with pie filling of your choice. Drop the remaining batter on top by spoonfuls, then spread a bit to connect them.

Bake 40-45 minutes. Cool and serve.

I’m really excited to have Cynnara Tregarth with us this month. Cyn is the author of uber hot erotic romance and fantasy novels. Be sure to check out her website and her great blog.

May’s Choice

• Cynnara Tregarth’s Easy Chicken Alfredo
• Green Salad
• Fresh Italian Bread
• Margarita Sorbet
• Chardonnay Wine

And Two Extras!

• Cyn’s Easy Marinade for Tough Meat
• Grampa Bob’s Sausage Chili

Easy Chicken Alfredo


Chicken Breasts sliced in strips
1 Onion diced
1 Tomato diced
1 box Penne Pasta


1 can Cream of Chicken or Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can Milk
Garlic Powder to taste
Pepper to taste
2 TBL Cornstarch
2TBL Cold Water
1 cup Sour Cream
½ cup shredded Cheese use your favorite white cheese
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
½ cup Milk

First– defrost the chicken and if you want to marinate it– do so. I don’t. I salt, pepper, and garlic powder them and put them aside.

Preheat oven to 425˚

Cook a small box of penne pasta in a gallon of water with about 1 tsp of salt. While it cooks, dice one onion and one tomato. (Or cheat and use 1/2 can of diced tomatoes– just make sure to strain out the liquid) Once the pasta is mostly cooked– like a hard al dente, where it’s a bit more chewy than you’d like… time to drain.

Line a 9×13 pan with foil (I believe in easy cleanup!) Then toss in the pasta and the onions and tomatoes. Mix it up.

Onto my easy Alfredo style sauce. *grins*

In a large bowl, mix up the following– 1 can of cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup, 1 can of milk, garlic powder, pepper— and mix until blended. Then pour over the pasta. Layer the chicken on top….and cover with another sheet of aluminum foil. Cook in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 40 minutes.

After 30 minutes— time to make the second part of the Alfredo sauce. Why? Because the sauce in the pan is being absorbed by both the pasta and the chicken. *grins* Plus we need to thicken things up a bit.

Mix the cornstarch and cold water in a small cup or bowl. Set aside. Then in that bowl we made the easy part sauce, put in sour cream, shredded cheese, salt, pepper, and milk. (If you really want to cheat…remove the sour cream and put in another can of cream of whatever) Blend together and heat in microwave for only 30 seconds.

Stir the cornstarch mix, then whisk into the above for about a minute or two. It’ll start to thicken as you whisk. Once thickened a slight bit… uncover the chicken and pour over the meat and pasta. Recover and bake for another 30-40 minutes depending on your oven. Check your chicken for doneness. Once it’s not pink– take it out and enjoy.

Margarita Sorbet

½ cup lime juice
2 TBL tequila
3 TBL orange liqueur (recommended: Cointreau or Triple Sec)
1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
2 cups heavy cream

Pour the lime juice, tequila and orange liqueur into a bowl and stir in the sugar to dissolve.

Add the cream and then softly whip until thick and smooth but not stiff.

Spoon into an airtight container to freeze overnight. This ice cream does not need ripening (softening before serving), as it will not freeze too hard and melts speedily and voluptuously.

Cyn’s Easy Marinade for Tough Meat

That’s the secret. The Italian dressing has tenderizers that help soften the connective tissue and make it SMOOOOOOOTTTTTTHHHHHHH.

½ bottle Italian or Raspberry Vinaigrette salad dressing
½ tsp salt
pepper to taste
¼ tsp of the following– Oregano, Paprika, Parsley, Thyme, Rosemary
2 tbsp of Lemon or Lime juice. (I’m partial to Lime)
½ cup of White Zinfandel

Toss together and sink the meat into a Rubbermaid/Tupperware container. Pour in the ingredients, slide on the cover tightly and shake hard for about 1-2 minutes. Then put in refrigerator, taking out to shake it up and turn over about every 30 minutes. Do this for 2 hours… then cook your preferred method.

Grampa Bob’s Sausage Chili

1 pkg of mild Italian Sausage
1 large can of Bush’s chili beans (mild or hot is your choice)
½ Onion diced finely
½ cup diced Tomatoes
2 TBL Barbecue Sauce
1 TBL Dijon or Brown Mustard
½ tsp Chili Powder
½ tsp Garlic Powder

Parboil the sausage in water until almost thoroughly cooked. Run under cool water until you can handle. Slice the sausage into 1/4″ to 1/2″ slices. Put in a large pan with onions and cook until the sausage is browned. To that mixture, add all the other ingredients and let cook for about 10-15 minutes on medium low heat until thoroughly heated.

You can make it as mild or as hot as you can stand. I go for a mild/medium heat because of my colitis.

Thanks for allowing me to share. Have a wonderful meal!
Cynnara Tregarth

March brings us days to relax and watch the rain beat on our window panes while we wait for spring and cooking outdoors. This month we’re going with a marvelous brunch menu to excite your appetite.

Chef extraordinaire, Dawn Roberto, owner of Love Romances Café, gives us a coffee cake to die for. Be sure to check out Love Romances and More where Dawn and her reviewers provide you with the latest in books and interviews. Our dear friend and Chicago Bears buddy, Nancy Kelley, offers up an easy breakfast soufflé that can be assembled a day ahead of baking.

March’s Choice

• Apple Cinnamon Coffeecake
• Breakfast Soufflé
• Croissants with Jellies and Butter
• Sliced Seasonal Fruits
• Coffee, Tea, and a variety of Fruit Juices

Apple Cinnamon Coffeecake


¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup old-fashioned oats
2 TBL chopped walnuts
1TBL butter


1 box (15.3 oz.) Betty Crocker Fiber One apple cinnamon muffin mix
¾ cup water
1 TBL vegetable oil
2 eggs


¼ cup powdered sugar
1 tea. water

Preheat the oven to 450˚. Spray bottom only of 9 inch round cake pan with cooking spray.

In a small bowl mix all streusel ingredients except butter. Cut in butter with fork until mixture is crumbly. Set to the side.

In a medium bowl, stir muffin mix, water, oil and eggs just until blended. The batter will be lumpy. Spread into pan. Sprinkle with streusel.

Bake 24 to 28 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix glaze ingredients until smooth. Drizzle the mixture over the coffeecake. Serve warm or cooled.

Dawn offers a Heath Twist – reduce the carbohydrate choices to 2 when you skip the powdered sugar glaze.

Leftovers, which we barely have thanks to Studs loving this recipe, freeze well.

Dawn Roberto
Love Romances Café
Love Romances and More Reviews

Breakfast Soufflé

1 pound ham, bacon, or sausage cooked and diced to bite size pieces
9 eggs
3 cups milk
1 ½ tea. dry mustard
diced onion to taste
black pepper to taste
1 pound grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 slices Vienna bread cubed

This dish may be assembled up to 30 hours before baking.

Preheat oven to 350˚.

In a large bowl lightly beat the eggs. Add spices, milk, onions, and cheese. Stir. Add the bread cubes and stir. Pour into ungreased 9×13 glass dish.

Because oven temperatures may vary, bake for 1 hour or until knife comes out almost clean.

Leftovers are excellent when reheated in the microwave.

Nancy Kelly
Big Time Chicago Bears Fan

February brings Valentine’s Day and talented author Vicki Paradise, author of Sci-Fi and Ménage books at eXcessica that will warm you on these cold winter nights.

Her yummy recipes are easy and fun to prepare, leaving plenty of time to celebrate a romantic Valentine’s Day with your sweetie.

February’s Choice

• Vicki Paradise’s Peanut Butter Pork Chops
• Rice
• Tossed Salad
• Cheese Cake
• Pinot Grigio Wine – Try Bella Serra for a smooth, satisfying taste

Peanut Butter Pork Chops

I find this recipe to be very forgiving. Leftovers freeze well.

1 lb Pork Chops (Vicki prefers boneless and I agree)
I cup Snow Peas
8 Green Onions chopped into 1-2 inch segments
1 Tbl. Soy Sauce, chopped Garlic, fresh chopped Ginger, Sugar
1 cup Peanut Butter
Salt to taste
Water (I used canned chicken broth)

Fry pork chops in a deep frying pan until cooked through.

In a bowl whisk together the soy sauce, chopped garlic, fresh chopped ginger, sugar, peanut butter and add enough water to make a loose sauce. It will not look pretty at this stage. Pour this over the pork chops along with the snow peas and green onions.

Cook over medium heat until the peas are done. The peanut butter sauce will thicken, if it is too thin you can add more peanut butter. If you find it too thick, just add a little water.

Serve over Rice


Vicki makes a standard rice recipe. 2 cups water to 1 cup rice (not instant) Boil the water with some salt and butter. Add the rice and cover turning the heat down to low. In about 15-20 minutes it should be done depending on the humidity. Add salt and pepper if needed.

Tossed Salad

A variety of fresh lettuce
Tomatoes cut in eights
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Your favorite bottled dressing

Toss everything but the dressing together in a large bowl. Store in the fridge until ready to serve. If the wait is long, cover with a damp paper towel.

Cheese Cake

2 – 8oz pkgs softened Cream cheese
2 eggs
1 cup Sugar (can substitute with Splenda)
1 tsp Vanilla
Large premade graham cracker crust

Preheat oven to 350˚

Blend the Cream cheese, eggs and sugar vanilla and spoon into the graham cracker crust. Bake at 350 until a toothpick comes out clean in the center.

Cool and top with your favorite topping.

All my best,

Vicki Paradise
eXcessica books

January and the New Year has Emma Rae Garrett, author of 15 paranormal erotica books at Changeling Press you won’t be able to put down. Visit Emma at her website to learn more about this amazing author.

You’ll love these marvelous recipes. Studs did!

January’s Choice

• Emma Rae’s Baked Chicken & Ratatouille
• Tossed Salad
• French Bread
• Chardonnay Wine – try a Soave for a new crisp taste

Hope you enjoy this easy recipe,
Emma Rae

Baked Chicken & Ratatouille

1/2 Eggplant diced
1 tbsp. salt
Olive oil
1 Zucchini diced
1 Yellow onion chopped coarse
1/2 Red Pepper cut up
2 Roma tomatoes chopped coarse
2 gloves pressed garlic
Sliced mushrooms to taste
1 tsp. Basil or to taste
1/4 tsp ground Cumin
Boned chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 350˚

Mix diced eggplant with salt. Drain in colander for 15 minutes – ½ hour.

Pour small amount olive oil into frying pan. Sauté zucchini for two minutes. Add onions and red peppers. Sauté two minutes. Scoop into baking dish with as little oil as possible.

Sauté tomatoes two minutes, adding more oil if necessary, then add garlic. Continue to cook 1 minute. Scoop into baking dish with as little oil as possible. Stir well.

Sauté mushrooms two minutes, adding more oil if necessary. Scoop into baking dish, with as little oil as possible, and stir well.

Sauté eggplant two minutes, adding more oil if necessary. Scrap all baking dish and stir well.

Sprinkle basil and cumin over vegetables. Stir well.

Cut the chicken breasts into quarters. Lay pieces skin side up over vegetables. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 – 15 minutes longer or until chicken is slightly tan.

Serves 4

Tossed Salad

A variety of fresh lettuce
Tomatoes cut in eights
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Your favorite bottled dressing

Toss everything but the dressing together in a large bowl. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.