Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Chocolate Fix!

Homemade Brownies with Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x9 inch baking pan.
In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; gradually stir into the egg mixture until well blended. Stir in walnuts, if desired. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the brownie begins to pull away from edges of pan. Let cool on a wire rack before frosting.

3 tablespoons of Cocoa
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons of butter (room temperature)
3 tablespoons of warm milk

Mix above ingredients until smooth. Add more powdered sugar if you like the frosting a little thicker. If it’s too thick, just add a little more milk.

Brownies from and frosting from

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Interesting Color Combo!

A new tablecloth calls for a new tablescape. This tablecloth with its bright bold colors was found in an antique store. I love the graphic floral design and the vibrant colors. The table uses Fiesta in Lapis, Sapphire, Vintage Cobalt, Flamingo, and Cinnabar, plus Harlequin Mauve (which is sometimes referred to as Becky Blue after a collector who loved that color).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Gold Medal Sizzling Fajitas

This recipe came from It is as good as any restaurant's fajitas. If you want a satisfying meal, then try these fajitas, but be sure to make some homemade guacamole to serve with them. I also served the fajitas with refried beans and spanish rice. The whole family thought it was a hit! 

Gold Medal Sizzling Fajitas

1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
Dash hot sauce
Salt and black pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast (you can use skirt steak or shrimp also)
1 medium onion, halved and sliced lengthwise
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
8 flour tortillas
1 lime, juiced, for topping
Guacamole, salsa, cheddar cheese, and sour cream, for topping

In a heavy duty resealable plastic bag, combine 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, hot sauce, salt, pepper and your choice of meat. Seal and toss the bag around to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator. *Cook's Note: 15 minutes for shrimp, 20 minutes for chicken and 1 hour for skirt steak.

Preheat your cast iron servers in a preheated 400 degree F oven for at least 20 minutes, to get a good sizzle when you plate the fajitas.

Heat the outside grill or a large indoor grill pan to medium-high heat. Remove the meat from the marinade and place it on the hot grill, discard the marinade. Slice chicken into strips and cook chicken until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.

In a large skillet heat up the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and fry the onions and bell peppers until crisp-tender with some salt and pepper.

Wrap the tortillas in foil and warm them in the oven with the servers for 15 minutes.

When you are ready to serve, remove the cast iron servers from the oven and quickly arrange the meat and peppers and onions on it. It will immediately start to sizzle from their fat and moisture. Serve sizzling immediately with the warm tortillas and other accompaniments.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Chicken and Noodles

Easy and Quick Chicken and Noodles

1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of celery soup
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 soup can of water
2 cups diced, cooked chicken breast meat
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon seasoning salt (I used Jane’s Crazy Mixed Up Seasoning Salt)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 (16 ounce) package wide egg noodles, cooked al dente


In a large pot, mix the cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom soup, cream of celery soup, chicken broth, and chicken meat. Season with onion powder, thyme, seasoning salt, and garlic powder. Bring to a boil, and stir in the noodles. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve over mashed potatoes.

(adapted from

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake
Recipe from Taste of Home

1/3 cup butter, softened (5 tablespoon + teaspoon)
4 ounces of cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 egg white
1-2 tablespoons grated lemon peel (the peel of 2 whole lemons)
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
3 cups flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 – 6 oz container lemon yogurt
1/4 cup lemon juice

1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice

Grease and flour a 10-in. fluted tube pan. In a large bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar until blended. Add eggs and egg white, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in lemon peel and vanilla.

Toss blueberries with 2 tablespoons flour. In another bowl, mix the remaining flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with yogurt, beating after each addition just until combined. Add lemon juice. Fold in blueberry mixture.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to wire rack; cool for 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix confectioners' sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Gradually brush onto warm cake, about one-third at a time, allowing glaze to soak into cake before adding more. Cool completely. Yield: 12 servings.

Note: For easier removal of cake, use solid shortening when greasing a fluted or plain tube pan.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Farmers' Market Pasta Salad

This is so refreshing and easy!

Farmers' Market Pasta Salad


1 lb. of tri-color rotini pasta
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup cucumber, diced
1/2 cup bell pepper, diced (use green, red, or yellow bell or all three mixed)
1 cup tomatoes, diced
1 cup Italian dressing (I used Wishbone Fat-Free)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Fresh Herbs of your choosing (optional)  I added some fresh dill. Basil, chives, or parsley would be good as well.


Prepare pasta according to package. Rinse in cold water. Add pasta and vegetables and toss with dressing and cheese.  You can also add other veggies--zucchini would be very good in it. Chill before serving.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Breakfast for Dinner

Have you ever been to the Cheesecake Factory for Sunday brunch and had their Lemon Ricotta Pancakes? If you have a craving for those on a regular basis, this recipe is a great substitute. It is as good as Cheesecake Factory. I served with a little butter and fresh blueberries, but if you prefer, you can prepare a strawberry syrup and top with fresh strawberries. Add whipped cream if you so dare.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes


For the pancakes:
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 beaten eggs
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup milk plus 2-3 tablespoons (check consistency and add more milk if needed)
3 tablespoon sugar
zest from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Serve with butter and fresh blueberries or with the strawberry syrup below.

For the syrup:
4 cups fresh strawberries, diced
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
For serving:
fresh sliced strawberries

For the pancakes:
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. In another bowl, combine the eggs, ricotta cheese, milk, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice. Dump the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.
Heat a griddle over medium heat and lightly grease. Pour about 1/3 cup of the batter onto the griddle and cook until bubbly. Flip and cook until the pancake is golden.
For the syrup:
Process the strawberries in a food processor or blender until smooth. Pour through a wire mesh to remove all the seeds.
Combine the strawberry puree, sugar and lemon juice in a pan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook for 5 minutes. If foam forms on the top, use a spoon to skim it off. Remove from the heat and cool.

*The syrup recipe makes more than needed. The recipe can be easily halved, or refrigerate the remaining syrup and use to pour over ice cream.
Pancake recipe adapted from: Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Thyme for Chicken

The best thing about summer is all the fresh vegetables and herbs. I used thyme from my garden, and vegetables from the farmers' market to prepare this supper. I served this chicken dish over mashed potatoes. I prepared a green salad with those fresh veggies to serve on the side. You can't beat fresh summer tomatoes. I was able to try a new tomato at the farmers' market called a chocolate cherry tomato. It tastes like a tomato, but it is deep purple in color. Very good!

Chicken Tenders with Baby Portabella Mushrooms and Thyme

Sauce starter:
2 cups chicken broth (1 can)                       
1 small carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
¼ cup onion, diced
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, minced

Combine above ingredients in a sauce pan and boil for 10 minutes, reducing by half. Strain and reserve liquid. You will use this later for the sauce.

6 chicken tenders
1 cup flour
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine flour, salt, and pepper. Dust chicken with flour mixture and brown on olive oil and butter over medium heat. You want a nice brown crust on the chicken, but it doesn’t have to be cooked through as you will finish it in the oven.

2 cups baby portabella mushrooms
¼ cup onions sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups water
Sauce starter

In same pan that you browned chicken, add oil and butter and deglaze pan.  Sauté onion and mushrooms until soft. Dissolve cornstarch in water. Add sauce starter to mushrooms and then add cornstarch mixture, and thyme and stir until thickened. Add chicken tenders back into pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. I use an oven-proof skillet, but you may use a baking dish if you choose.

Serve over mashed potatoes and an accompanying green salad. Your family will thank you!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

When life gives you lemons...

This is a simple, luscious pie from It is light and refreshing for a summer evening dessert.

Lemonade Pie

1 (6 ounce) can frozen lemonade
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (8 ounce) container Cool Whip
1 graham cracker crust (store-bought)

Use mixer and mix all ingredients until fluffy. Pour into ready made crust. Refrigerate until firm. I let it set overnight. This can also be made with limeade too. Top with whipped cream or Cool Whip and garnish with lemons.