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

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

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Macadamia Coconut Bars

These are absolutely divine.  No one will believe that a packaged cookie mix is the main ingredient.  TIP:  Not fond of macadamia nuts?  Try pecans, walnuts, almonds or cashews

1 package (17-12) ounces sugar cookie mix
1 cup vanilla or white chips
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1/4 cup flaked coconut

Prepare cookie mix according to package directions.  Stir in chips, nuts, and coconut.

Spread into a greased 13-in x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned around edges.  Cook on a wire rack for 25 minutes before cutting.  Yield:  3 dozen.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Garden Ham 'n' Noodles

This blend of ingredients makes a very filling and comforting dish. 

4 quarts water
2 medium carrots, diced
6 cups uncooked wide egg noodles
1 medium zucchini, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sale
1/2 pound fully cooked ham, cubed
1 can (15-1/4 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, bring water to boil.  Add carrots; cook for 1 minute.  Add noodles; cook for 2 minutes.  Add zucchini; cook 4-5 minutes longer or until noodles and vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, bring the cream, milk and salt to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.  Stir in ham and corn; heat through.  Drain noodle mixture; stir into ham mixture.  Sprinkle with Parmesan chees and toss to coat.  Yield:  6-8 servings.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline

When reporter Ellen Gleeson sees a flyer asking if anyone has seen the kidnapped child pictured on it, she is taken aback that the boy looks exactly like her adopted son, Will. She starts investigating and discovers a difficult truth, even though her adoption was lawful. The whole dilemma of What if Will rightfully belongs to someone else, would she have to give him up? hangs like a dark cloud throughout the whole novel.

I had mixed feelings about this book. I liked it because the premise of the story is a really good one. The moral dilemma would make for a gut-wrenching story, and it did to a certain extent, but the story line was unbelievable with things falling into place a little too easily. I didn't find this to be the heart-pounding thriller the synopsis promised. There was one scene that brought tears to my eyes, but the story was very predictable, and as a reader I quickly knew it would all work out.

The ending was too good to be true and the romance too shallow for my taste. But this was a very quick read with super short chapters, and I did enjoy it, although the plot was lacking. If you're looking for a suspense novel that won't keep you up at night and that reads fast and simple, this one might do.