Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Eggplant Italiano

I should start with how much I miss our kids right now! It's been a little lonely without having chatty messy laughing wonderful kids in the house. I miss them terribly, but I know they're all having a great time enjoying the summer!! We're 2 weeks down with 2 more to go.

So since we aren't focusing on ball practice or homework, Scott and I are really enjoying being able to date again! Everyday we get to enjoy wonderful food, have hilarious conversations, and share inside jokes among watching movies, and laughing out loud every chance we get.

Everyday it seems we've been trying out new little restaurants in the city we love!

We had fantastic food at a little gem of a seafood restaurant tucked neatly away on a side street. We've had sandwiches at the deli, good classic American flavors and we've pretty much just enjoyed the quiet time and deliciousness around us.

One of my favorite things at a restaurant is the appetizer. You can tell a lot about a restaurant by what it offers in terms of pre-dinner bites! Yesterday we ordered a fantastic pan seared tuna, ahi style. Absolute perfection!

Sometimes little bites are just an easy alternative to a big supper!
Let's try some Eggplant Italiano.

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
5 teaspoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
1 large eggplant, cut into 10 slices
2 tablespoons butter
10 slices tomato
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

In a small bowl, combine the first six ingredients.
In a medium pan, saute' eggplant, over medium heat for 3 minutes.
Turn slices; spoon Parmesan mixture onto each.
Top with tomato; sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Continue heating through 2-3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Creamy Macaroni Salad

Macaroni Salad is a close relative to the Pasta Salad. It's a traditional pairing for a picnic and the key to a perfect macaroni salad is moisture. Salads like these tend to dry out so make sure you have a great dressing base.

4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup white sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup grated carrot (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped pimento peppers (optional)

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni, and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain.
In a large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir in the onion, celery, green pepper, carrot, pimentos and macaroni. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving, but preferably overnight.

Friday, June 24, 2011

I'm just a regular girl

You have no idea how much I love food! Actually, as I write, I am watching Food Network and drooling over the beautiful roasted red peppers in high definition. Other documents open on my computer include my cookbook, recipes I've been storing to put into the book, and photos of food that I've taken recently. Yep, I LOVE food! I love that it heightens all of my senses. But even after a full day, I'm just a regular girl. I'm not a chef. I'm a girl who loves to cook.

I may be just a regular girl, but I love making life delicious! Which is why I am excited to share a personal recipe collection with you in book form. So, if you see less blogs over the summer, it's not that I'm not cooking or not wanting to share with you. It's because I'm working so hard to ensure that my book is absolutely wonderful.

I love our neighborhood. I know I've told you that before, but I love all of the choices of wonderful restaurants we have all within reasonable walking distance from home. Every kind of cuisine you could imagine, Mexican, Italian, Pizza, Caribbean, Mediterranean, deli's and sandwich shops, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Greek, Indian, you name it. We have it. I'm also a girl who loves to eat.

Since we are without kids for the summer, it's given Scott and I time to reconnect and spend lots of time together. We get to date again!

There are so many fun things to do in our city! Big Bands on the Bay is on the list for the weekend, if you like Big Band music, you'd love's a great way to unwind with a sunset on the beach and wonderful live music and a simple picnic supper. The Bayou Boogaloo Festival is this weekend with some cajun eats sure to please. Plus I've been itchin' to watch Super 8 at the Cinema. We may even return for a sail on the American Rover Tallship. But one thing is for sure, we are going to eat!!

My crock will be cookin' since we're headed for some hot fun in the summertime!

Simple Chili Flank Steak
1 flank steak (about 1-1/2 lbs.), cut in half if you have a small Crock pot
1 Tbsp. oil
1 large onion, sliced
1/3 cup water
1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies
2 Tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown steak in oil. Transfer to crockpot. In the same skillet, sauté onion for a minute or two. Gradually add the water. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Pour over the flank steak. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours or until the meat is tender. Slice meat and serve with the onion and pan juices. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thai Chicken Salad

Take a little help from the grocery in this recipe for Thai Chicken Salad. Our local store has Rotisserie Chicken on sale on Wednesdays. It's the deal of the week. They're usually a 2 for 1 price. A little help from the pre-bagged veggies in the produce department and a simple pantry dressing with the key ingredient of course being peanut butter, is all you need to make this filling recipe. Great as a simple supper or for lunch. Enjoy!

2 cups shredded deli rotisserie chicken (from 2- to 2 1/2-lb chicken)
1 cup julienne carrots
1 cup broccoli slaw mix
1 large green onion, chopped

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon red pepper sauce
Fresh cilantro, if desired

In large bowl, toss salad ingredients.

In small bowl, beat dressing ingredients with wire whisk. Just before serving, drizzle dressing over salad; toss until evenly coated. Garnish with cilantro.

Happy Father's Day and Angel Food Cake

I'm especially missing my dad today. He would've celebrated his birthday a few days ago. We always had a big Birthday/Father's Day celebration, because they always fell so close together. My mom would've celebrated with an angel food cake and fresh strawberries, that was among his favorites. He was a wonderful man with a huge heart. He never met a stranger and everyone who ever met him instantly loved his enthusiasm and his witty sense of humor. He is quite possibly the greatest man I've ever known and I've missed him every day for the last 18 and a half years.

My stepdad is also a wonderful man who loves my mom and has been very good to her for many years. Very hardworking and loves all things family. Things would not have been the same all of this time if he hadn't been part of our family. For him I'm thankful.

And of course, our family wouldn't be complete without Scott, who is an outstanding father. Not only to his boys, but also to the girls. Even though they aren't bound by blood, there is no difference in the love he shows to any of them. I'm thankful for his kind heart and quiet spirit. He offers his words of wisdom, time, and affection to each of them. I'm so blessed for the children to have such a father to look up to.

I took Scott out for Sushi...his favorite, of course.
And I'm thinking Angel Food Cake as a light dessert, just because of my dad.
Happy Father's Day to all of you wonderful Dad's out there!!


1 1/2 cups egg whites (from carton)
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar

Place egg whites in a mixing bowl; let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, sift confectioners' sugar and flour together three times; set aside. Add cream of tartar, extracts and salt to egg whites; beat on high speed. Gradually add sugar, beating until sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form. Fold in flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time. Gently spoon into an ungreased 10-in. tube pan. Cut through batter with a knife to remove air pockets.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Immediately invert pan; cool completely before removing cake from pan.

Angel food cake is perfect with strawberries and whipped cream or another favorite is with a Pineapple Cream Topping.

1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, in juice, undrained
1 pkg. (4 serving size) Vanilla Pudding & Pie Filling (sugar free)
1 cup thawed whipped topping (lite or sugar free)

In a bowl, mix together pineapple and pudding mix. Gently fold in whipped cream. Serve on slices of angel food cake.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tortellini Salad

So, the kids are officially out of school. Summer vacation starts now! Our girls flew to Florida to spend some time with their dad. Our oldest graduated high school. One of our middle sons has a new summer job. And our other teenager just couldn't wait to enjoy the summer.

Scott and I enjoyed a wonderful lunch together without rushing to pick up kids from school, go to a ball practice or lesson, there was no real rush to get home, just a beautiful afternoon overlooking a gorgeous fountain in the lovely city of Chesapeake. It's a nice break from having the kids, but oh my word is the house quiet. Even the cat doesn't know what to do.

Well, since it's just the two of us for a while I'm back to making smaller meals, which is easy on the budget. The temperatures are headin' back up, so I think a simple pasta salad supper works well for those hot summer days. This recipe is great for supper but also makes enough for a quick lunch the next day. Or you can 1/2 the recipe pretty easily. I prefer to make my homemade Italian dressing, but if you like store bought you can use it in this recipe for Tortellini Salad.

1 package (9 oz) refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini
1 package (9 oz) refrigerated spinach-filled tortellini
2 cups small fresh cauliflower florets
2 cups small fresh broccoli florets
1 cup oil-packed julienne-cut sun-dried tomatoes (from 6.5-oz jar), drained
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 medium yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 jars (6 oz each) marinated artichoke hearts, drained, coarsely chopped and reserving 1/4 cup liquid
1 bottle (8 oz) Italian dressing (or the homemade recipe is listed below)

In large saucepan, cook and drain tortellini as directed on package, adding cauliflower and broccoli during last minute of cooking time. Rinse with cold water to cool; drain well.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, mix tomatoes, onion, parsley, bell pepper and artichokes.

Add tortellini, cauliflower and broccoli to salad; stir gently. Add dressing and reserved 1/4 cup artichoke liquid; toss to mix. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until serving time.

Italian Dressing
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
2 tablespoons salt

In a small bowl, mix together the garlic salt, onion powder, sugar, oregano, pepper, thyme, basil, parsley, celery salt and regular salt. Store in a tightly sealed container.

To prepare dressing, whisk together 1/4 cup white vinegar, 2/3 cup canola oil, 2 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons of the dry mix.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

'Mater Skillet Supper

Remember this tip: When you come home from work, first thing you do is put a pot of water on to boil, then unwind for a few minutes. Then when you're ready to cook, your water will already be boiling and you won't have to wait to add pasta, rice, or veggies.

Here's a simple skillet supper that's ready in no time. It uses ingredients you probably already have in the pantry and fridge! Enjoy!

'Mater Skillet Supper

2 cups uncooked spiral pasta
1 lb chicken breast strips
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes (drained) or 1 cup fresh garden tomato, diced
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 oz)

Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain; cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 4 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until chicken is no longer pink in center. Reduce heat to medium; stir in soup, tomatoes, milk and basil.

Stir in cooked pasta. Cook about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until bubbly and thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with cheese. Remove from heat. Cover; let stand until cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes.


The end is in sight. School is ALMOST over!! One more day for our girls. Three more days for two of our boys. And *sigh* our oldest is graduating high school on Thursday. I can hardly believe it!I'm awfully proud of this kid. He's one of the most well mannered, smart, and responsible kids I know. He's had a fantastic high school record succeeding in so many areas I can hardly name them all. I'm so excited for the future that he has and the many adventures that lie ahead.

Congratulations on your Graduation Clayton Scott!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Chocolate Ice Cream

Chocolate Ice Cream is only a spoon away! This is the easiest and most delicious ice cream. You've got to try it!!

1 (14 oz.) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2/3 cup Chocolate Syrup Ice Cream Topping
2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream, (do not use non-dairy whipped topping)

Combine sweetened condensed milk and syrup in large bowl.

In another bowl, whip cream.

Fold whipped cream into milk mixture.

POUR into 2 quart freezer container. Freeze 6 hours or until firm.

Chili Lime Shrimp

Confession: I have a fear of cooking seafood. I am afraid to buy it. I am afraid to cook it. It freaks me out. Totally. I love to eat seafood. I'm a sucker for Salmon especially with creole seasonings. I love most fish. I eat tuna. Crab is delightful in so many different recipes. But I don't care for crab legs....too much work. Lobster bisque and chowder make me smile. But so help me, I can't bring myself to cook any of it. I am afraid.

On the other hand, when it's as simple as this recipe for Chili Lime Shrimp, I think I might just rethink this fear and make like a bridge and get over it.

While I'm not crazy about eating bottom feeders, this recipe is so easy. It's tasty. It has a limited ingredient list. And it only takes about 15 minutes. Perfect as an appetizer or a light dinner this recipe has a sweet and spicy kick that is irresistible. Enjoy!!

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher (coarse) salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon chipotle chili powder or ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 lb uncooked large shrimp (21 to 30 shrimp), peeled with tails left on, deveined
1/4 medium fresh lime

Heat oven to 500°. Line 15x10x1-inch pan with foil; spray foil with cooking spray.

In resealable 1-gallon food-storage plastic bag, mix sugar, flour, salt, chili powder, cayenne and garlic. Mix together really well, then add shrimp; seal bag and shake to coat with sugar mixture. Arrange shrimp with sugar mixture in a single layer in pan.

Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until sugar is caramelized. Remove from oven. Using metal turner, turn shrimp; squeeze juice from lime over shrimp. Place on serving platter; serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Campfire S'more Pockets

Nothing can top this....Nothing. Imagine a hot pocket with an outershell covered in GRAHAMS and the inside filled with chocolatey marshmallow creaminess. Make them like this:

1 box refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (8 graham cracker squares, finely crushed)
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup marshmallow creme
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened (1 oz)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 425°F. Line cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper.

Unroll pie crusts. With 3-inch round cutter, cut 10 rounds from each crust. In small shallow bowl, mix cracker crumbs and 1/4 cup sugar. Brush both sides of pie crust rounds with butter; dip into crumb mixture to coat.

Place 10 coated pie crust rounds on cookie sheet. Stir together filling ingredients. Spoon about 1 heaping tablespoon filling in center of each of the 10 rounds. Place remaining pie crust rounds on top of the filling on each. Pinch edges to seal.

Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store covered in refrigerator.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Over the Border

We spend a lot of time at the beach!

After a day of swimming, boogie boarding, surfing, and sunburning, I'm usually in the mood for something spicy and delicious.

Here's a quick recipe that you can use for a quick weeknight meal. I prefer Chicken, but this would also work great with a slow cooked beef.

1 can diced green chilies
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
3 Tbsp. lime juice
1 diced medium onion
2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts
1 can refried beans, warmed
10 Tortilla shells

Optional Toppers: shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, salsa, light sour cream, sliced olives, guacamole
Add chicken and onion to a slow cooker that is at least 3 1/2 quarts.
In a bowl combine green chilies, garlic, chili powder, and lime juice. Pour over chicken.
Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.
Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred. Mix in 1/2 cup of juice remaining in slow cooker to the shredded chicken.
Spread warmed refried beans on tortilla shells.
Top with hot chicken mixture and any other desired toppings.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Vanilla Peach Ice Cream

I feel like I should share the importance of wearing sunscreen at the beach. My skin is still intact, but I was afraid I'd be mistaken for a lobster and that someone may take me home for dinner. After all, we did see a small Asian family gathering fresh seaweed and kelp from the shoreline and the excitement in their face was incredible to watch. Free Seaweed. From the Chesapeake Bay. If only I could've understood what they were saying. I need to brush up on my Asian languages. We decided they were taking it home to make soup. I didn't want to risk being mistaken for fresh seafood, so I applied my sunscreen. A little too late. Today, I'm sporting a beautiful crimson blanket of fire on my skin.

In addition, my face looks a little like Kim Kardashian's
pictured here.Sunglasses will do that to ya.

Well, now I must sooth the burn with some aloe gel and my soul with some homemade peach ice cream. I start with my basic vanilla ice cream and add fruit. I have really enjoyed making my own ice cream and what's even better is my kids love to make it too. The ice cream is delicious, creamy and perfect every time. I like it because I know exactly what's in it!!

1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 tbl vanilla
1 pint whipping cream
2 cups mashed peaches (frozen or fresh or one large can)

In a large bowl, stir together milk and vanilla.

In one large bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form.
On low/medium it takes about 4 minutes.Gently Fold into milk mixture.
In another bowl, mash peaches until soft. Gently stir into whipped mixture.

Check out these yummy peaches.
I can't wait to go to Georgia this summer so I can stock up on some fresh beauties.
Pour mixture into a freezable 2 quart container. Freeze for 8 hours or until set.
This is definitely a Satisfied Spoon.
*TIP: Glad-ware and Tupperware are both great to freeze in.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Graffiti Pasta

This about sums up our weather this week!!

And that is all.

Here's another quick salad that I could eat as supper all by itself. The colors and flavors make a beautiful artful masterpiece all on its own which is why I call this Graffiti Pasta. The dressing is a delicious basil vinaigrette and who can resist chunks of salami and mozzarella??

1 package (16 ounces) bow tie pasta
2 cups grape tomatoes
7 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
1 medium sweet yellow pepper, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 cup pickled banana pepper rings
1 can (2-1/4 ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained
4 thin slices hard salami, diced
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried basil

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, tomatoes, cheese, yellow pepper, onion, pepper rings, olives, salami and basil.

In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.