Saturday, April 25, 2009

Broccoli Salad

I can almost recount the first time I tasted a broccoli salad, knowing the first bite that this would be in my life until I died.  It's the same way I felt when I tasted cornbread salad for the first time.  There are just times when you take a first bite and know that this dish must stay with you forever.  I'm not a fan of lettuce salads but find I like more side salad dishes, broccoli salad being among my top favorites.

This salad has my spin on the original recipe, among the most notable is the use of broccoli slaw instead of fresh broccoli crowns.  If you haven't had broccoli slaw, give it a try because it's so good.  When we make lettuce salads for dinner parties we like to add broccoli slaw because it's so good for flavor enhancement. This salad does need to spend the night in your refrigerator to maximize the flavor, but doesn't have to if you are in a pinch.  Save a bowl of it though and eat it the next day just to see how much better it

Broccoli Salad

2 (3 ounce) packages Beef-flavored ramen nood
2 (12 ounce) packages Broccoli Slaw mix
1 cup toasted Almond slivers
1 cup toasted sunflower kernels
1 cup Craisins
1 cup sliced green onions (about 1/2 bunch)
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup Canola Oil
1/3 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp black pepper

Squeeze the packages of noodles until crumbled.  Open package and remove flavor packets, set noodles aside.  In a small bowl add flavor packets, sugar, oil, and vinegar with salt and pepper. Whisk until thick and combined.  Set aside.

In a large bowl add slaw mix, seeds, nuts, onion, and craisins tossing until combined.  Pour over dressing and mix to combine.  In your serving bowl, add the noodles, evenly.  Carefully pour the slaw mix over the noodles, cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge until next day.  Before serving, toss to combine the noodles.  Add some fresh chopped green onions and serve.  I think this would be really good with bacon added to it.  What doesn't bacon taste good with?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I love desserts! Whew! I said it, now I feel much better. I have inherited a sweet tooth from both sides of my family. I can't tell you how many times I saw my Granny eat a spoonful of sugar, "just for something sweet" as she worked in the kitchen. I haven't resorted to just ingesting sugar, but I think the day will come.

Cakey type desserts are among my favorite things to eat. I especially love cobblers. Growing up I remember loving warm cobbler with ice cream. I was perfectly happy fishing around for the crust, juice, and ice cream--everyone else could have the fruit. My Mom used to make cobblers for my Dad's lunches and my sister and I used to dig out the bottom crust because it was just too good to pass up. Blackberry cobbler is probably my favorite one hands down.

This recipe is for a different type of cobbler than that which I grew up eating. It doesn't have a rolled crust, but rather a batter into which you put fresh or frozen berries. I love this cobbler and the sweet spongy, cake that enrobes the berries. This recipe will deal with blackberries, but you could just as easily put blueberries, raspberries, peaches, you name it into this cobbler with great results.

Don't forget the ice cream!

1 cup Milk
1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 generous cups blackberries (or your favorite fruit)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray, set aside. In a large bowl, add melted butter, sugar, flour, and next three ingredients stirring well. Pour in milk and whisk until smooth. Pour batter into greased dish, distribute fruit evenly among the batter. Bake for one hour, ten minutes before the cobbler is done, lightly sprinkle the top with sugar.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Do you like panini sandwiches? I do. However, I do not own a panini maker. I have this philosophy that I don't own things that can't be used for more than one purpose, it has to serve at least a dual purpose. We received a Belgian waffle maker for our wedding, 12+ years ago, and have used it sporadically over the years, but only for...waffles. Yesterday I was craving a panini and since I had planned to stay planted at the house and not leave, I knew I was stuck to finding something else. Finding something else when you taste buds are screaming for one thing is no fun. That's when the thought hit me~~I have a waffle iron hmmm... Fundamentally the machines are the same, with just a few adjustments. Not enough to make owning a panini maker I assure you.

I broke the waffle iron out, then set up the station. Light bread, buttered on one side, ham, cheese, hot waffle iron. How bad can that be? It wasn't. I enjoyed a ham and cheese panini-at home!! The design was a little different, my brain was seeing a "waffle" but ate a panini. Kendra had taken Titus to karate and to get his hair cut while this whole experiment was going on. She came home right as the panini was finished.
"Try this?"
"You made a grilled cheese with our waffle iron?"
"It's a panini? try it."
"That's delicious, I want one."
That's high praise, let me tell you. Titus enjoyed one too. We have a new use for our seemingly single use machine.

Just a few tricks. First, don't press the waffle iron down and shut the clasp. There is quite a bit of steam that escapes and the cheese will squeeze out of the sandwich, it's much better on the inside. Second, spray the iron with non-stick. Even though I did butter the bread I had one stick, just a bit. Third, sandwich the cheese between the ham slices, two slices of cheese was just a little too much.

I'm planning to play around with this new direction for my waffle iron. Oh yeah, I have a Belgian waffle iron, perfect for two slices of wonder bread.

If you try it, let me know what you think.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bubble on the double

We are enjoying outside weather more and more, and Emma is super excited about bubbles. We've gone through three bottles of bottle solution and it's not even May! I needed to get a quick fix for the various bubble machines that do our sweet girl's bidding, and keep me from having that pass out feeling from manually blowing bubbles. Bubble solution, in case you haven't been shopping for such an item in a while, is expensive! Watching a two-year old dump a five dollar bottle of bubbles on the driveway is just too much.

This solution is great and works. You can make as much or as little as you want as long as you get the ratio right, I thinkI got the ratio right. These math things kind of sleigh me sometimes.

2 parts dish soap (Dawn)

4 parts water (Distilled is best, I didn't have distilled so I used filtered)

1 part Corn Syrup

Add contents to a bowl large enough to hold, stir to combine. You can also use glycerin if you want to, but who has glycerin in their pantry? Fill bubble bottles and have fun!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spring Salad

I am SO ready for Spring to get here. Our Ladies Class hosted the Preschool teachers today for a luncheon and I was asked to help with the food preparation. I really love researching recipes and tweaking them to my taste and ideas, and I love putting together menus. This luncheon allowed me to do the best of both worlds. I wanted to do something that just said Spring! I'm so ready for Spring.

I found a recipe for Orzo Salad in a Woman's Day magazine. [ CONFESSION: I read more women s magazines that I do men's, in fact that is all I read magazine-wise. Whew, I feel better now.] After seeing the picture, above, I was convinced that this was what Spring looked like on a plate. I tweaked and added, here and there and came up with a terrific salad that was very well received at the luncheon. This is for sure a keeper!

This salad is best enjoyed the next day, it give the dressing time to get all acquainted with the pasta and veggies. The photo above came from the Women's Day website. I changed the pasta from Orzo to Barilla Miniature Farfalle (bowtie). The main reason is I couldn't find Orzo. I think it turned out better visually, to me anyway. Another tweak is the addition of garlic and basil to the dressing. After reading the recipe I thought that it just sounded kind of flat and bland, I wanted to add some more flavor. Lemon and basil are great companions, garlic is good on a flip flop, so I added those two components to the dressing and it worked great. The only other tweak is the addition of tomato to the salad. I think I may try Parmesan cheese next time.

See the notes below for great hints that will help you be a superstar!

Spring Salad:

1 Tbsp lemon zest
½ cup lemon juice
¼ cup each olive oil and water
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
1 lb farfalle pasta, mini size
8 oz asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1-in. pieces
2 cups bagged shredded carrots
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup cherry tomato, chopped

1. Whisk lemon zest, juice, water, garlic, basil, oil, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl until blended. Add onions and let stand while pasta cooks.

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, return to a boil and cook as package directs; stir in asparagus and carrots 3 minutes before pasta will be done.

3. Cook until pasta and vegetables are just firm-tender. Drain and rinse under cold running water; drain again.

4. Put in bowl with dressing. Add parsley and tomatoes and toss to mix and coat.


This dressing is very thin and absorbs into the pasta and veggies to make for a dry salad. Even though it's not, "dry" by any means because the veggies and pasta has absorbed all the flavor and liquid.

I used one pot of water, got the water to a boil and blanched my asparagus for three minutes, removed with a strainer and plunged in an ice bath. Set those aside, then did the same for the carrots. After the veggies were blanched I cooked the pasta in the seasoned water, then drained that off.

You can find already shredded carrots in the produce section by the carrots usually just above the baby carrots, etc. Some places call them match sticks, either way they are good.

Come Spring!! Come soon.