Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cheesecake Pancakes...yeah you heard me

When I was little, my mom used to make her own maple syrup and to this day she still does. It always kept so well in the refrigerator, so I was used to eating my syrup cold over our decades-old family pancake recipe. I love being able to share some of those same recipe traditions with my family now.

On Saturdays, after sleeping away the morning, the kids love to wake up to a steaming stack of fresh pancakes!

Now that I'm watching my sodium intake, it's a challenge not to eat them all, but I still enjoy making them for the family! Here's a twist on the family favorite I came across. This recipe is not mine, but I'm happy to share anyway. YUM!

Could there possibly be anything better than cream-cheesy pancakes?

*First, you must cut the cream cheese into 4 slices lengthwise and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Freeze 8 hours (or overnight).

For the cakes:
1 package (8oz) cream cheese
2 cups original Bisquick mix
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 eggs

Brush griddle or skillet with vegetable oil, or spray with cooking spray; heat griddle to 375°F or heat skillet over medium heat.

Cut cream cheese into bite-size pieces; set aside. In large bowl, stir Bisquick mix, graham cracker crumbs, sugar, milk and eggs with whisk or fork until blended. Stir in cream cheese.

For each pancake, pour slightly less than 1/3 cup batter onto hot griddle. Cook until edges are dry. Turn; cook other sides until golden brown.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Shanghai Chicken

He loves cuisine of the orient. Any type of Japanese, Filipino, Chinese, etc. So, eventhough I am on a restricted diet, I made something he would like tonight! It's about a 20 minute fake out meal that he and the girls really devoured!

Shanghai Chicken

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 bag Asian Steamable veggies
1 small onion sliced
1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms
1/2 TB minced Garlic
2 TB Asian Hoisin sauce
2 TB soy sauce
2 Cups cooked rice (I prefer Jasmine, but any long grain rice will do)

\his was literally a fast fake-out dinner! In a skillet, heat about 2 TB olive oil to saute onion and mushrooms. Add garlic and chicken. Cook until Chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Cook Asian veggies per package direction. Mine took about 5 minutes in the microwave.

Once your chicken is cooked through, add Asian veggie mix! Add Hoisin sauce and soy sauce and stir to blend your flavors together. Serve over hot rice!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Low Sodium, what????

Okay, so recently (like today) I was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy. Unfamiliar? Well, it's a type of facial paralysis. Yep, the entire right side of my face is completely numb. My tongue is numb. I have a droopy eye and lip! I'm quite a sight! So, my doctor, this incredibly wonderful Iraqi woman, calls me up and gives me the results of my head CT scan. "Everything is normal". The cause for concern is my blood pressure! Ugh! So, I hear the words "Low Sodium". Do you know what it's like for a cook to hear the words Low Sodium? Reminiscent of a death sentence verdict. At least life in prison or maybe just no parole. Shush your mouth!

Okay, so what in the world is my palate going to experience? Sheesh, perish the thought. So, I start reading every label in the kitchen. What's for dinner tonight? Well, let me tell ya!

1 Cup organic shiitake mushrooms sliced
1/2 onion sliced
2 Tablespoons of minced garlic
Saute in a skillet with just a touch of olive oil.

2 beautiful petite sirloin steaks.
Dressed in a little coarse black pepper and garlic (no salt of course)
Cooked to Medium

Luckily, I had just bought some groceries including some fresh spinach. In another skillet, I added a touch of olive oil and a pat of butter. Added my spinach until it wilted nicely on medium heat. Spinach works fast! Added some garlic and pine nuts (which are quite literally the seeds of pines, but not so nutty I'm afraid. They have a soft texture and flavor of a bean, but they are GOOOOOD with spinach. I Just toasted them lightly. Then, fresh squeezed lemon juice to brighten up the spinach. YUM!

Served with a side of white rice and our dinner was quite tasty. Now to research some more low sodium alternatives!

Eventhough it's hard to eat and drink and I spent my morning and part of the afternoon at the hospital, I prepared a delicious dinner for my family in about 30 minutes!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

That's Amore'

Food for the Soul! For me, that would have to be pasta. It's my favorite comfort food.

I'm sure I've mentioned our 5 kids before. They are each involved in so many activities, that sometimes I don't know which way is up or down or sideways because our munchkins run in different directions! I love to come home after a long day of work, errands, and kids' activities to make a nice hot pasta dinner! A great tip: start a pot of boiling water when you walk in the door, then proceed to change clothes, put things away. That way, when you're ready to add pasta, rice, etc. to the pot, it's all ready to go!

The thing I've had the most trouble with is finding a good Alfredo sauce! After searching through so many recipes, and trying to remain health conscious, I think I finally struck gold! I fell in LOVE with this incredible rich and creamy sauce! It's a combination of ideas from other recipes to alter ingredients (makes it lower in fat), but the addition of herbs make it so full of flavor! And it's super easy, just takes a few minutes!

Alfredo Amore
1/2 cup butter
1 pkg. (8 oz.) non fat cream cheese
1 cup milk
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced garlic
pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon Oregano
1 teaspoon Parsley

In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add garlic, Add a package of cream cheese and whisk together. Mix well. Add milk, parmesan cheese, pepper, oregano and parsley. Stir all together until well mixed. Remove from heat. Sauce will thicken as it sits. Stir ocassionally.

I boiled some fettuccini and pan seared some thin sliced chicken medallions! Now, that's amore!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Once upon a wine....

I have never been a wine enthusiast, but sometimes cooking with wine can be a real treat.

So, for the easy girls guide to cooking with wine here are some tips I've learned!

When you remove the fat from a dish, you need to replace it with something to keep it moist.

Wine is ideal for making marinades because it adds so much flavor. You can decrease the oil by 1/2 and add the other half with wine. (For example, if the marinade calls for 1/2 cup of oil, use 1/4 cup each of wine and oil.)

You can saute veggies in a combination of wine and olive oil rather than using butter.

Wine is great for simmering fish because it helps to bring out the natural flavors of mild foods. You can even add wine to a slow cooker for extra flavor and moisture. You know how I LOVE a slow cooker! I'm listing an easy recipe for chicken and a wine sauce with mushrooms!

Generally, an easy way to know how Red vs. White. Red wines are great with darker meat: beef, duck, goose, venison, and pasta dishes. White wines are best with lighter meat: chicken, turkey, ham, fish, veal.

Play off of the consistency of your dish too! Don't be afraid to try something new. And use what you like. If you like to drink it, chances are you'll like it in your food.

Crock Pot Chicken and Wine sauce with mushrooms

1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 cup white wine
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon milk
1 can (4oz) mushrooms (drained)
salt and pepper to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
In a bowl, mix together the soup, onion, parsley, wine, garlic powder, milk, and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Place chicken in your crock pot and cover with the soup mixture.

Cook on Low setting for 5 to 6 hours!

You can serve this with pasta or rice and a nice green salad!

Pour a glass of wine and dinner is done!!!

Uniquely small quarters...

I live in a fantastic vintage building in a beautiful historic section of the city. Our home is quite charming and cozy with original hardwood tongue and groove floors, a brick walled sunroom that streams in light on a bright day, exposed steam pipes that amply warm our home in the winter, and classic glass doorknobs on the few doors in our open layout. Retro handles on the bathtub that amusingly all have "cold" imprinted on them.
However, I long for the day I have a kitchen larger than the size of a pencil box. Although my home is warm and inviting, I dream of more counter space and even more cabinets. Oh yes, didn't I mention there are no kitchen cabinets?

A narrow butler's pantry houses a built-in glass door cabinet for our common dishes and an open nook that houses our fruit basket and some sterling silver intricately detailed hot plates I received from my Grandmother when I was just a young woman. There's also cupboard shelving for our canned and packaged non-perishables. Above the wall to our mail center (home to envelopes, stamps and daily mail), which happens to be a repurposed scrapping caddy, I keep a bulletin board with the kid's weekly homework assignments, a calendar, coupons, sticky notes, the usual. Baskets nest on the refrigerator and contain cereal boxes and snack food bags. Cookbooks (his, mine, and ours) align the shelf above the fridge.

A handcrafted wooden counter is afixed to the wall and underneath provides a retreat for my spice drawer, a trash can, and other storage. It's tucked away by a beautiful garnet red paisley printed skirt gently pinned to the underside of the counter. A matching one plays apron to the shelf of pots and pans on the opposite wall.
Our window is fashioned with a collection of old glass bottles that once belonged to his grandmother. And next to that a door leading to a balcony on the exterior wall of the established residence. A wrought iron medallion is afixed to the wall above the gas range, where I create my culinary masterpieces.

I often think about the tenants that have embraced the kitchen long before I assumed the position in my uniquely small quarters. Who were they? What was their life like? What kind of dishes were prepared? Were they the ones who left the 1960's era wallpaper left to be found behind the stove when the kitchen was painted? How did they acquire functional & fashionable storage?

Grocery staples, such as flour, sugar, and rice, are contained in clear receptacles on one of two open consoles above our farmstyle one basin sink. I treasure a set of ceramic mixing bowls that I received many moons ago. They are in shades of delightful colors and adorn the other shelf.

Eventhough my space is limited, I am still able to concoct some special dinners to feed our family. And one day when the desires of my heart are met and I am greeted with a spacious kitchen, I'll never forget the way we made it work in uniquely small quarters.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

If you can't stand the heat....

That cajun vibe just bites me sometimes and I can't help but want to get in on the spicy flavors of the creole. One of my favorite dishes is Jambalaya, but how do I get all of southern Louisiana's best cooks in my kitchen?

Well, I just put all of that delicious flair into my crock pot and slow cook it 'til the Mardi Gras. Well, maybe not quite that long, but after a few hours, you'll be singing Zydeco!So, if you like a little kick in the pants, here's some great French Quarter Cuisine that you'll love!


1 onion chopped
1 green bell pepper chopped
3 tablespoons of Garlic
1 can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1.5 tablespoons parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 to 1/2 tsp of red pepper sauce (Tabasco, Texas Pete, etc)
salt and pepper to taste
1 package of beef summer sausage
2 chicken breasts sliced into 1 inch chunks
4 cups of hot cooked rice

Place everything but the rice into the crock pot and cook for 7-8 hours on low! Serve with hot rice and enjoy!

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About Concordance™

I left my heart in San Francisco...

So, this past November, we decided to take a trip to beautiful San Francisco! Kid free! Just the two of us! It had been a very long year and feeling as though we had both deserved some time away, I booked the very long flight from Norfolk to San Francisco. It was like nothing I'd ever seen, being a southern girl, it was like taking a John Deere tractor and placing it in Times Square. I was a little out of place, but I immediately fell in love with the city! There was so much to see and do! Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, museums, architecture, cable cars, the list could go on for days!

The food there was amazing! One of our favorite spots was the Boudin Sourdough Factory! Imagine the aroma of fresh baked sourdough, maple, and cinnamon! If you ever have the chance to visit this incredible city, you must have breakfast at their yummy bistro on Fisherman's Wharf. The french toast is to die for! Especially with their fresh raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. A touch of powdered sugar and their gooey warm maple syrup, YUM!

Well now, this calls for a recipe!
San Francisco French Toast

1 loaf of bakery sourdough bread (day old is best)
2 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
dash of salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
fruit (optional)
powdered sugar(optional)

Day old bread is best because it will soak up more of the eggy mixture. The best bread to use is Boudin's San Francisco Sourdough bread. You can order it and have it delivered! YUM!
Cut bread into thick slices 1/2 to 1 inch is great.
In a shallow bowl, mix together eggs and salt, add milk, cinnamon and vanilla.
Allow bread slices to dip in mixture for at least 30 seconds on each side.

Heat skillet/griddle and lightly grease with oil or butter. Cook bread slices for about 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown!

Serve with your favorite maple syrup or with fruit and powdered sugar! Simply divine!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pasta Pizza Casserole

In our family of 7, there are 5 kids. Any given night of the week if you were to ask them what they would like for dinner, you'd get the answer...."Pizza!" Making my way through the pantry, I decided what could be tastier for the kids than a Pasta with pizza? So, A little of this, a little of that and you have a yumalicious dinner!
Here's what I used (because it's what I have on hand)

1 pound of pasta (Rigatoni is my choice for this recipe, but Penne would be great too)
1 jar/can prepared spaghetti sauce
at least 3 cups shredded cheese (I used mozzarella and cheddar)
1 Tablespoon Oregano
2 tsp. Parsley flakes
2 Tablespoons of Garlic or a few cloves of fresh chopped
1/2 chopped onion
1/2 chopped green pepper
about 50 slices of pepperoni (I sliced mine in half)
1/2 package of smoked sausage (chopped into bite sized pieces)
4 oz. black olives

The great thing about pizza pasta is that the possibilities are endless. Whatever you like on your pizza is what you can add to the pasta.

Cook your pasta to al dente. Drain well. (It doesn't have to be completely cooked because you will bake it in the oven and you shouldn't overcook your pasta.)

In a small pan, saute onion and pepper in a bit of olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste. Add garlic to the veggie mixture to saute lightly. Remove from heat, add oregano and parsley.

In your pasta pot, mix cooked pasta, sauce, meat, and veggies. Add 2 cups cheese and spoon into your baking dish. Top with remaining cheese and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until cheese is nice and bubbly!You could add just about anything you wanted to this yummy dish! Enjoy!

I picked up a loaf of Garlic Tear and Share bread in the bakery of my local market and baked it alongside dinner!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Heap of Trouble Chocolate Cake

Well, today just happens to be Connor's birthday. 13, yes all 3 boys are now teenagers. So, what kind of cake does a 13 year old want? His response, "You're not going to have a store bought cake are you?" Well, what kind DO you want? "A homemade fudgy chocolate one with chocolate chips in it. Oh, and coconut".

Well, since I'm in a heap of trouble with our 3rd teenage boy, I suppose the name says it all. It's a touch more time consuming than just an average cake, but I figure hey it's for a great kid who is very close to my heart. And I am delighted since he asked me to make him a homemade cake, but that has nothing on the delight he'll be filled with, when he eats a slice of this decadent chocolate cake topped with a chocolate cream cheese frosting and coconut!

Heap of Trouble Chocolate Cake

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package triple chocolate fudge cake mix
  • 1 sm package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour your pan. (I used 3 disposable small cake pans to make a 3 layer cake.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, milk, applesauce, water and eggs. Beat for 4 minutes pour in your cake pan.
  3. Sprinkle chocolate chips over cake. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cake springs back when you touch it.
Tip 1: I use applesauce to cut the fat. It doesn't add any flavor to the cake, but it does keep it moist. It's a 1 to 1 ratio, so if you must use oil 1/2 cup of oil=1/2 cup of applesauce ,etc.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/4 C butter (1/2 stick) at room temperature
  • 3 C sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/4 C cocoa powder
  1. Mix cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy.
  2. Mix in cocoa powder.
  3. Mix in powdered sugar, one cup at a time.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Fake Real BBQ

Mouthwatering Pork Barbecue is not hard to find. However, when it comes to pleasing anybody, you must have a variety of sauces. My favorite is memphis style bbq with a tomato based spicy sauce, but he likes Carolina BBQ, which means a cider vinegar based sweet sauce. So, here is my no fail success to crock pot style bbq. It's fake real bbq at home.

1 Boston Butt (also known as a Pork shoulder) mine was about 7 pounds.
your favorite style of rub

Place a ceramic bowl or saucer in the crock pot upside down with your meat sitting on top of it. This will not allow the meat to sit in the grease or juice offering a much better flavor and pulling the fat from your meat. Cover pork with your rub. I like the Montreal Steak rub.

That's it. Cook on low for about 10 hours.

Remove the cooked meat from the crock pot, allow to cool slightly and shred with a fork.

Top it with your favorite sauce and dinner is served.

Death by Chocolate Gravy & Biscuits

I was about 7 years old and I couldn't wait to go to my best friend Bamanda's house, I affectionately nicknamed her. It was a Friday night sleepover, and one of the best parts of going to her house was that I knew on Saturday morning her mom would wake up and make Chocolate Gravy and Biscuits. Oh my word! How exciting! Delicious thick smooth chocolate smothering buttery biscuits. It was such a special treat.

A bit of an ironic topping for biscuits I admit, but if you've never had the pleasure, then you're truly missing out on some magic!

Well, of course I had no recipe to use, so my friend Davida who now lives in Colorado was so sweet to share her recipe with me! It's amazing!

1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp cocoa
Dash of salt
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp vanilla (optional)

This is how I did it!
In a skillet, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, and salt. Turn heat on med/low and then slowly add milk to mix it all together. Be careful not to get the temperature too high. It can burn easily. Add butter and vanilla and continue to add milk until the right consistency is reached.
Per Davida: (And I followed her advice) "I make my tablespoons of flour heaping and the cocoa level just to be sure it gets thick enough (but don't get it too thick). You can add a little more milk to make it go farther, but just using the one cup gives you a really chocolaty taste."

Eventhough the vanilla is optional, I found that adding the vanilla helps to cut the sweetness of the chocolate so it has a nice mellow flavor. It was a very delightful Saturday morning in our house and I look forward to making this velvety chocolate again! I got all thumbs up from my kids! So I must give a very special thank you to Davida!