Nov 29, 2015

Turkey Gravy

This hardly qualifies as a recipe. It is basically turkey gravy from a mix, though slightly enhanced. But I made this for Thanksgiving this year, and it was so easy. When trying to get a lot of different dishes all ready at the same time on Thanksgiving Day, anything to simplify the process is welcome, in my opinion. The recipe comes from

2 (1.2 ounce) packages turkey gravy mix
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups water
2 cups turkey pan drippings

Place the turkey gravy mix and flour into a saucepan, and gradually whisk in the water, followed by the turkey drippings. Whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to low and simmer the gravy until thickened, about 10 minutes (it took less than five for me, but this may depend on personal preference).

Fish Tacos

Growing up, I always thought that fish tacos sounded horrible! I think I had imagined something like a whole fish (eyes, skin, bones, fins, and all in a tortilla). The very thought grossed me out. But then when I actually got around to trying them, I loved them! So here is a homemade version that you can throw together very quickly. To be clear, this is less a recipe than instructions for combining already prepared ingredients, but I thought it turned to be both easy and delicious. Fish tacos will definitely be part of our meal rotation from now on.

Frozen breaded fish fillets (whatever you like), baked according to the directions
Chopped cabbage (I just used a prepared coleslaw mix)
Salad dressing (a ranch dressing would probably work, but I used a Bolthouse Farms cilantro avocado yogurt dressing)
Mango salsa (I used a commercial version)
Flour or corn tortillas

And to put this together, I simply cooked the fish fillets according to the directions and then cut them into smaller pieces to put in the tacos. And while the fish was cooking, I heated the tortillas and assembled the other ingredients. Then once the fish was done, I put a few pieces of fish on each tortilla, topped that with chopped cabbage, drizzled it with the salad dressing, and then added the mango salsa. Yum!

Nov 21, 2015

Chocolate Pecan Pie

This is a pie you should definitely add to your Thanksgiving or pie repertoire. It is very easy to whip up and very rich and yummy. The pie is another winning recipe from Chef John over at You can see a video demonstration here.

1 9-inch pie shell, unbaked
2 eggs
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a whisk, beat the eggs until pale-colored, light and frothy. Add the milk and vanilla and give the mixture a stir. Blend in the brown sugar, white sugar, and flour. Then add the hot melted butter and blend together. Finally, add the chopped pecans and mix well.

Spread the chocolate chips evenly in the bottom of the pie crust and pour the pecan mixture carefully over the top so that the chocolate chips remain evenly distributed.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and filling is set. If it jiggles when you take it out of the oven, cook it a bit longer. Let cool completely. Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Nov 14, 2015

Cream of Mushroom Soup

From sugary mushroom-like creations earlier this week to using actual mushrooms in this wonderful soup. This recipe comes from one of my favorite food bloggers, Chef John, over at I love mushrooms, and this cream soup version is full of delicious mushroom flavor.

1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 pounds sliced fresh mushrooms
1 pinch salt
1 yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 sprigs fresh thyme (I used 1/4 teaspoon dry thyme)

2 cloves garlic, peeled
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves for garnish, or to taste

Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat; cook mushrooms in butter with 1 pinch salt until the mushrooms give off their juices; reduce heat to low. Continue to cook, stirring often, until juices evaporate and the mushrooms are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Set aside a few attractive mushroom slices for garnish later, if desired. Mix onion into mushrooms and cook until onion is soft and translucent, about 5 more minutes. Stir flour into mushroom mixture and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes to remove raw flour taste. Tie thyme sprigs into a small bundle with kitchen twine and add to mushroom mixture; add garlic cloves. Pour chicken stock and water into mushroom mixture. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 hour. Remove thyme bundle. Transfer soup to a blender in small batches and puree on high speed until smooth and thick. Return soup to pot and stir in cream. Season with salt and black pepper and serve in bowls, garnished with reserved mushroom slices and a few thyme leaves.

Nov 11, 2015

Mushroom Meringues

This is a treat that my mother always used to make for Christmas, both for the family and to give to friends and neighbors, beautifully packaged in cellophane bags. Mushroom meringues are traditionally associated with the French dessert Bûche de Noël, but we like them on their own. They can be impressive looking yet are quite easy to make. My sister Emily recently demonstrated them for a Relief Society cooking class in our ward, so I thought it would be a good time to put up the recipe as well as a few pictures.

½ cup egg whites, room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup superfine sugar (I use regular granulated)
Unsweetened cocoa
6 ounces semisweet chocolate

Beat egg whites in a large bowl until foamy. Beat in salt, cream of tartar, and vanilla. With mixer set at low to medium speed, add sugar gradually until it is mixed in. Then beat at high speed, 6 to 7 minutes, until stiff.

Place meringue mixture in a large pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip, at least 3/4-inch in diameter. A disposable pastry bag or gallon-sized Ziploc bag can also be used. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Make mushroom stems first, while meringue is firmest. To shape stems, pipe out the meringue in 3” long strips (they will be cut in half later; each length will create two stems). Pipe out caps in mounds about 1 inch in diameter. Try to keep them high and puffy rather than flat. If caps have points, dampen finger and press points flat before sprinkling with cocoa. Sprinkle stems and caps very lightly with cocoa.

Place cookie sheets in preheated 200 degree oven. Bake for at least 2 hours (humidity can affect the baking time). Check to see if they are dry and not soft at all. Meringues can be left in a warm oven with heat turned off for several hours to completely dry. Try not to open the oven door too frequently during baking.

To assemble tops and stems, cut stems in half with a sharp knife. Melt chocolate and allow it to cool a little. Spread melted chocolate on flat side of mushroom cap with a knife and attach a stem. Allow to cool upside down. If kitchen is warm, cool in freezer until chocolate hardens. Store in airtight container.

Assembling the mushrooms

Waiting for the chocolate to cool

Oct 3, 2015

Lentil Soup

This easy and healthy soup comes from Giada De Laurentiis.

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 pound lentils (approximately 1 1/4 cups)
11 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs (I just used about a half teaspoon dried ground thyme)
2/3 cup dried elbow pasta
1 cup shredded Parmesan

Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and saute until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices. Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the lentils and mix to coat. Add the broth and stir. Add the thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in the pasta. Simmer until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.

Oct 2, 2015

Beef Stew

I'm over 50 and this is the first time I've made beef stew. In fact, I believe that it's the first time I've ever eaten beef stew. It won't be the last. Adapted from a recipe by long-time New York Times food critic Craig Claiborne.

4 pounds lean, boneless chuck steak
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 cups coarsely chopped onions
6 tablespoons flour
4 cups dry red wine (I used about two cups)
2 cups water (I used one can beef broth)
4 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon thyme
6 sprigs parsley, tied in a bundle
6 large carrots, about 1 1/2 pounds, trimmed and scraped
6 red potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes (optional)
1 package sliced mushrooms (optional)

Cut the meat into two-inch cubes. Using a large skillet, heat the oil and add the beef cubes in one layer. Add salt and pepper and cook, stirring and turning the pieces often, for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and stir to coat the meat evenly. Add the wine and stir until the mixture boils and thickens. Stir in the water. Add the cloves, bay leaf, thyme and parsley. Cover closely and simmer for one hour. Meanwhile, cut the carrots into one-inch lengths. If the pieces are very large, cut them in half lengthwise. Add them to the beef. Cover and continue cooking for 30 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Serve the stew sprinkled with chopped parsley. Can serve over buttered noodles.

Strawberry Freezer Jam

I made strawberry freezer jam for the first time this year, thanks to a recipe from my friend Angie. So easy to make, and it's wonderful on toast, English muffins, etc. Angie says she usually triples the batch, so that's what I did.

1 quart strawberries, washed and hulled
4 cups granulated sugar
1 (1.75 ounce) package dry pectin
3/4 cup water

Mash or put 1 quart fruit in a food processor and blend to desired consistency, depending on whether you like your jam smooth or chunky). Pour 2 cups of mashed fruit in a large bowl and mix in 4 cups sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes. While it sits, whisk 1 pkg. fruit pectin into 3/4 cup water in a small pot on the stove. Heat to boiling over high heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir one minute. Then pour pectin mixture into fruit mixture and stir for 3 minutes until sugar is all but dissolved. Ladle into jars/containers, leaving about a half inch at the top for expansion. Screw on lids and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Then freeze. Will last 3 weeks in the fridge or one year frozen. Makes 5 8-oz. jars.

Jun 25, 2015

Basic Cheese Strata

You put this dish together the night before, so it's a great choice for a leisurely breakfast because all you have to do is bake it. The recipe comes from Becky Ririe, a former neighbor and friend.

6 slices white bread
2-3 cups shredded mild or medium cheddar cheese
3 eggs
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 of 4-oz can of diced green chilies

Cut bread into small cubes. Layer bread and cheese in a buttered 7 x 10-inch baking dish. Beat together eggs, milk, salt, and mustard; mix in green chilies. Pour over cheese and bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until light and fluffy. Serve immediately. Homemade chili sauce is perfect with this. Serves 6.

Apr 26, 2015

Peanut Butter Granola

I tried this recipe for peanut butter granola quite awhile ago but never got around to posting it. While I didn't love it as a cereal, I have found that I enjoy this granola very much as a snack. I've been munching on it at work. So here it is, peanut butter granola, courtesy of Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup honey or pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons coconut oil
Pinch of salt
1 cup chopped, toasted nuts (almonds, peanuts, etc)
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (also optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease the parchment with nonstick cooking spray. In a bowl (for the microwave) or in a saucepan (for the stove), combine the peanut butter, honey, vanilla, coconut oil and salt. Melt over low heat until the ingredients are smooth and well-combined. In a large bowl, toss together the nuts and oats. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon until evenly coated - the overall granola mixture won't be overly wet once combined so don't fret. Spread the granola into an even layer on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, tossing once or twice during the baking time. Let the granola cool on the baking sheet (it will get crispier as it cools). If desired, stir the mini chocolate chips into the granola after it has cooled completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Jan 31, 2015

German Pancake (Dutch Baby)

Two weeks ago, I posted a recipe for a German Pancake/Dutch Baby. So why a new and different recipe already? Because I like this one even more. A lot more. This German pancake is puffier and a little less custardy/doughy in the center. The recipe comes from one of my favorite cooking blogs--Food Wishes. Chef John does a lot more gourmet recipes than I ever would, but he has simple, down-to-earth recipes as well. And his video demonstrations make even more complex cooking and baking seem accessible and fun. So check out his site. Plus I appreciate his sense of humor.

To make this pancake, put a 10-inch glass quiche dish (or cast iron skillet) in the oven and preheat the dish and oven to 425 degrees. Meanwhile, blend the eggs, milk, flour, vanilla, and salt in a bowl until smooth. Either shortly before or immediately after the oven is preheated to 425 degrees, put the three tablespoons butter in the pan in the oven to melt and get hot, though you don't want the butter to brown or burn. Once the butter is melted, carefully take the hot pan out of the oven and quickly pour the batter into the hot butter and return the pan to the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and puffy. Garnish with melted butter, fresh lemon juice from a half lemon (a Meyer lemon, if you can find them), and powdered sugar. I also added some maple syrup as well. But feel free to try a variety of toppings. Anyway, it's that simple. Makes 2-4 servings.

3 large room temperature eggs
2/3 cup room temperature milk
1/2 cup flour (really pack the measuring cup firmly with flour)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter

Jan 17, 2015

Brent and Fae's Tomato Soup

I haven't made this myself yet, but I hope to this coming summer. It's my Uncle Brent and Aunt Fae's tomato soup recipe, and it is tasty. They make and bottle this every year, and last year they shared a bottle with my dad and me. Thanks, guys!

3/4 bushel tomatoes (1/2 bushel = 16 cups) This is a box of tomatoes
6 onions
6 celery stalks
6 green peppers

Quarter the tomatoes and put in a large pot. Use a potato masher to mash the tomatoes before putting in the other vegetables. Then grate or chop the other vegetables and add to the pot. Stir on high heat. When the vegetables are soft and tender and the mixture has cooled down, put everything through a juicer or blender. Or you can just have chunky soup, which is also good. Then bring the soup to a boil and add the following, mixing dry ingredients together before adding to water.

scant 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup salt

Stir this mixture until smooth, then add to pot using a whisk. Let boil and stir five minutes. Then add 1 cup butter. Ladle soup into hot jars and process in steam bath for 45 minutes. We usually get about 14 quarts of soup from this recipe. We like salt, so you may want to cut down on the amount of salt in this recipe. It may not be as tasty though.

German Pancake (Dutch Baby)

I found this recipe last night on a blog via Facebook and just tried it this morning. Easy and delicious! I made the pancake as described, but I didn't have any lemons, so I just used powdered sugar, maple syrup, and raspberries. Still very good. However, I'll try the lemon syrup for sure next time since I love nearly all things lemon.

1/2 cup butter
6 large eggs
1 and 1/2 cups milk
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Lemon Syrup
juice of two lemons
powdered sugar

Put butter in a cast iron skillet or glass pie plate and set in a preheated 425 degree oven. While the butter is melting, lightly beat eggs in a large bowl with a wire whisk. Add milk and flour. Mix with a wire whisk until large clumps disappear and the batter is fairly smooth. Don’t over-mix or your pancake will be tough.

Carefully remove skillet or pan from oven and pour batter into the hot, melted butter. Return pan to oven and bake until well browned and puffed on the edges, 20 to 25 minutes, depending on pan size. Cut into wedges and serve with the lemon syrup! Fresh berries are a wonderful addition to this breakfast dish.

To make the syrup, juice the lemons, discard the seeds, and add powdered sugar, a tablespoon at a time until the syrup tastes sweet enough to your liking. Mix with a wire whisk.