"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Veggie Appetizer Squares

This tasty pizza will disappear in a hurry at your next gathering, so you may want to prepare two.

1 tube (13.8 ounces) refrigerated pizza crust
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup ranch salad dressing
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh broccoli
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cauliflower
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 1/4 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Press pizza dough into a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in baking pan.  Bake at 400 for 6 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack for minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, salad dressing, garlic powder, parsley and salt.  Spread over crust.

Top with onions, broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, celery and green pepper.

Sprinkle with cheeses.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Yield:  12-16 servings.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Italian Chicken

Simmer breaded chicken in a tomatoey sauce seasoned with garlic, oregano and basil.  A sprinkling of cheeses gives it a fast final touch.
1 egg
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup water, divided
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 broiler/fryer chicken (2 to 3 pounds), cut-up
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 can (12 3/4 ounces) condensed tomato soup, undiluted
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
Shredded Parmesan cheese
In a shallow bowl, beat egg and 1 tablespoon water.  Place the bread crumbs in another shallow bowl.  Dip chicken in egg mixture, then coat with crumbs.  In a large skillet, cook the chicken in oil over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until browned; drain.  Remove and keep warm.

In the same skillet, combine soup, onion, garlic powder, basil, oregano and remaining water. 

Return chicken to pan.  Cover and simmer for 40-45 minutes or until chicken juices run clear.

Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese; cover and cook for 1-2 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Yield:  4 servings.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Stuffed Tomatoes

This side dish is inexpensive, quick to prepare and always a favorite.

4 large tomatoes
Dash salt
1 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cub half-and-half cream
2 tablespoons soft bread crumbs
3/4 cup minced fresh parsley
2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Cut tomatoes in half; scoop out and discard pulp, leaving a thin shell.  Sprinkle lightly with salt; invert on paper towels to drain for 15 minutes.


In a large skillet, sauté mushrooms in butter until most of liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with flour; stir in cream.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Remove from the heat.  Stir in bread crumbs, parsley and 1/3 cup of cheese.  Spoon into tomato cups; sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Place in a greased 13-in x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish.  Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Yield:  8 servings

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mosaic Salad

This pretty salad combines garden-fresh ingredients to create a colorful side dish.  TIP:  I like to chill it a few hours to blend the flavors.

1 medium cucumber, sliced
2 medium yellow summer squash, sliced
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon salt

Arrange the cucumber, squash and tomatoes on a large serving platter.

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the dressing ingredients; shake well, drizzle over salad. 

Yield:  6-8 servings.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cream Cheese Cookie Cups

Need a quick dessert?  Try these yummy cookie bites. 

1 tube (18 ounces) refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar

Cut cookie dough in half (save one portion for another use).  With floured hands, press about 1 tablespoon of dough onto the bottom and up the sides of each of 12 ungreased miniature muffin cups.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Using the end of a wooden spoon handle, reshape the puffed cookie cups.

Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until blended.  Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar.  Spoon into cookie cups.  Store in the refrigerator.

Yield:  1 dozen.  Prep:  15 min.  Bake:  10 min. + cooling

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Honey Fruit Salad

Though fresh fruit steals the show in this medley, the subtle honey sauce makes it an especially sweet treat.

2 medium firm bananas, chopped
2 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh raspberries
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
5 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon poppy seeds

In a large bowl, combine the bananas, and berries.

 In a small bowel, combine the honey, lemon juice and poppy seeds.

Pour over fruit and toss to coat.  

Prep/Total Time:  10 min.  Yield:  8 servings

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Swiss Steak Supper

When I think of comfort food, Swiss Steak is first on my list. Swiss steak is a method of preparing meat, usually beef, by means of rolling or pounding, and then braising it in a cooking pot, either on a stove (cooker) or in an oven. The name does not refer to Switzerland, but instead to the process of "swissing", which refers to fabric or other materials being pounded or run through rollers in order to soften it.

1 1/2 pounds boneless beef top round steak
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 to 8 medium potatoes, quartered
1 1/2 cups fresh baby carrots
1 medium onion, sliced
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) Italian diced tomatoes
1 jar (12 ounces) home-style beef gravy
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Cut steak into serving size pieces; flatten to 1/4-in. thickness.  Rub with seasoned salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, brown beef in oil on both sides.

In a 5-qt. slow cooker, layer the potatoes, carrots, beef and onion.

Combine tomatoes and gravy; pour over the top.  Cover and cook on low for 7 1/2 to 8  hours or until meat and vegetables are tender.  Sprinkle with parsley