Dec 22, 2016

Turtle Cookies

My Aunt Fae made these terrific cookies as a Christmas gift this year. She knows the way to my heart in combining chocolate, caramel, and pecans. So good! Thanks for the share, Fae! The original recipe comes from

1 cup all-purpose flour
cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, softened
cup sugar
1 large egg, separated, plus 1 additional egg white
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¼ cups pecans, finely chopped

Caramel Filling:
14 soft caramel candies
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Chocolate Drizzle (optional):
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

1 teaspoon shortening
In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa, and salt. Set aside. On high speed in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat together butter and sugar for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk, milk, and vanilla. Mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. 
Whisk egg white in a bowl until frothy. Roll cookie dough into one inch balls. Dip the cookie balls into the egg white and roll in the chopped pecans until outside is coated. Place the balls 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. With a teaspoon make a small indentation in each ball. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes or until set. 
While they are baking. prepare the caramel filling. Melt the caramel and heavy cream in the microwave stirring every 30 seconds until it is fully melted. Once the cookies are baked, make the indentation again and using a teaspoon fill each indentation with the caramel. 
If drizzling with chocolate, melt the chocolate and shortening in the microwave, and scoop into a ziplock bag. Barely snip the corner and drizzle over the cookies. 
Yield 24 cookies

Dec 9, 2016

Honey Lime Fruit Salad

This fruit salad is colorful, easy, and delicious! What more could one ask for? And you can substitute a variety of fresh fruits, depending on what you prefer and what is in season. The recipe is slightly adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

1 (20­-ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained well, or about 1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped fresh
1 (15-­ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained well
1 cup blueberries
1 cup green grapes, halved
1 cup strawberries, quartered
Zest from one lime, about 1/2 tablespoon
1 to 2 tablespoons honey
1/2 to 1 teaspoon poppy seeds (optional)

Combine the fruit in a serving bowl. Add the lime zest and toss. Drizzle the honey over the fruit and gently mix until the fruit is evenly coated. Sprinkle the poppy seeds on top and toss to combine. Serve immediately or within an hour because some fruits may bleed and color the rest of the salad, making it less visually appealing, though it won't affect the taste. Serves 6. 

Dec 4, 2016

Skillet Chicken Pot Pie

This Chicken Pot Pie recipe from the Six Sisters' Stuff blog is very easy to put together, and it's good comfort food

2 tablespoons butter
2-3 celery stalks, diced
2-3 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
2 red potatoes, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 package (8 ounce) cream cheese
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1/2 cup peas
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely minced
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add celery, carrots, onion, and potatoes. Saute for 8-10 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften. Add garlic and season with salt and pepper. Mix in flour, chicken broth, and cream cheese. Let cook for 5 more minutes, stirring constantly. Fold in chicken and peas. Pour mixture into a 12-inch oven safe skillet. Roll out a sheet of puff pastry and place on top of skillet. Use a sharp knife to cut off any excess dough hanging over the sides. Whisk egg in a small bowl and brush over the top of the pot pie. Cook for 18-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Nov 23, 2016

Cornbread-Sausage Stuffing with Apples

Confession: for most of my family Thanksgivings, we've mainly used commercial stuffing with a few extra things added to it (water chestnuts, sausage, etc.). And I further admit that I've even thought I liked stuffing. But after trying this homemade stuffing from a recipe given to me by my friend Rachel, I can never go back. I couldn't even wait for the Thanksgiving meal to try this because it looked so good. It is heavenly! I'm thrilled that this recipe makes a large batch so that we have leftovers for multiple days.

12 tablespoons butter
2 ½ cups finely chopped yellow onion
3 tart apples (Jonathans are good), cored and chunked, do not peel
1 pound lightly seasoned bulk breakfast sausage (sage is best)
3 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread (homemade is best)
3 cups coarsely crumbled whole wheat bread
3 cups coarsely crumbled white bread (French or homemade preferred)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup chopped Italian parsley
1 ½ cups shelled pecan halves

Melt half of the butter in a skillet. Add chopped onion and cook over medium heat, partially covered, until tender and lightly colored, about 25 minutes. Transfer onions and butter to a large mixing bowl.

Melt remaining butter in the same skillet. Add apple chunks and cook over high heat until lightly colored but not mushy. Transfer apples and butter to the mixing bowl.

Crumble the sausage into the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring until lightly browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to the mixing bowl and reserve the rendered fat.

Add the remaining ingredients to the ingredients in the mixing bowl and combine gently. Cool completely before stuffing the bird; refrigerate if not used promptly.

If you do not wish to stuff the bird, spoon the stuffing mixture into a casserole. Cover casserole and bake for about 45 minutes at 325 degrees. Baste occasionally with the drippings from the bird or with the reserved sausage fat, if necessary. Leave the stuffing uncovered for the last 15 minutes of the baking time.

Note: The breads should not be dried out as in many stuffing recipes.

Enough stuffing for a 20-pound turkey, to make 12 to 14 servings.

Nov 6, 2016

Grilled Honey and Ginger Marinated Flank Steak

And another great recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, one of my favorite food blogs. I don't cook steak very often, but when it is this easy and tasty, it's tempting to do so a lot more frequently. This is a terrific main dish on its own or you can add some slices of the steak to make a fabulous salad. Also, per a note from the original Mel's Kitchen Cafe posting, you can keep "a few of these marinating flank steaks in the freezer to thaw and grill as needed. Put the marinade and steak in a freezer bag, press out the air and freeze. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then grill. Also, if you are using flank steak a few ounces either direction from the 2 pounds listed in the recipe, you should be fine without having to increase or decrease the marinade ingredients--otherwise adjust accordingly to the size of meat you are using."

3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup low­ sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds (more or less) flank steak (see note above)

Whisk together all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place the flank steak in a shallow
dish (like a 9" x 13­" pan) and pour the marinade over the steak. Cover and let marinade for 8­
10 hours, flipping the steak once or twice during the marinade time. Grill the flank steak over medium heat for about 7­ to 8 minutes per side, depending on how well done you like your steak. Let the steak rest for about 10 minutes before slicing very thinly against the grain and serving.