Monday, July 4, 2016

Thai Peanut Marinade for Chicken

Ok so perhaps you may have to buy a few ingredients for these.  Some ingredients here are not what the average person keeps in their pantry. It is well worth your time.  This is some of the BEST chicken I have EVER had.  What makes cooking and eating fun, is by experimenting with new flavor combinations.  George took a recipe and twisted it a bit and came up with his own.  And let me tell you, it was heavenly.  It was not too "peanutyy" as many thai peanut marinades can be.  It was just the right flavors.  George tried to re-create for me the ingredients he used. I will put the real recipe here and put George's substitutions in parenthesis. Here goes. 

Thai Peanut Marinade

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar (George used a mix of rice vinegar, red wine vinegar, and white wine vinegar)

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (George used the bottled lime juice)

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar (George used lite brown sugar)

1/2 Asian or domestic cold-pressed peanut oil  (George used ginger oil but said any oil would do)

1 tablespoon sesame oil  (George said this was very important - no substitution here!)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh lemongrass (George used coriander seed instead)

2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed, about one tablespoon

2 tablespoons chopped shallots or green onions (white onion was used)

1 cup of peanut butter

1-inch cube fresh ginger root, diced (George used ginger powder)

1 tablespoon curry powder or Garam Masala** (George used a mixture of these both)

For the chicken he cubed up some chicken thigh meat and marinated the cubes for several hours.  Recipe recommends at least six hours, preferably overnight.  
Then George put them on skewers and grilled them.  However, you can fry them in peanut oil, after coating them with flour, peanuts, and garam masala all shaken in a paper bag.  I loved the grilled version and the taste was awesome.  I'm sure fried would be good too.  But grilling may actually keep that flavor alive!  ENJOY and I hope you fix this b/c it was special.  I'm keeping it on my blog for reference for myself!

**Garam Masala - is an Indian sweet spice used in curries and marinades and gives off a sweet exotic fragrance. There are many variations of this, but you can make your own or buy a blend already made.  

We use Penzey Spices for any exotic spice blends.  It's just easier!  Get on their mailing list and you will get a catalog periodically with all their spices and spice blends one thing we like is that there are lots of neat recipes in their catalog.  When you order, they always send a free gift.  We have really enjoyed trying their various spice blends on chicken, meat, fish, potatoes.  Fun to taste varied flavors.  We will stand at the kitchen and smell the spices and try to pick which one to use by eliminating one at the time.  lol

Bottom line is ENJOY.  Penzey's motto is "Love People.  Cook them tasty food."

Coffee Marinated Steak

Coffee Marinated Steak

2 tablespoons sesame seeds
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup strong brewed coffee
1 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 pounds boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 1 inch thick


Melt butter in skillet. Add sesame seeds and toast them. Add onion and garlic to the skillet and saute them until tender.

In a bowl, combine coffee, soy sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and sesame seed mixture. Pour half of the mixture into a sealable plastic bag; add steak. Refrigerate overnight if possible or at least for 6-8 hours. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade also.

Drain and discard marinade from steak. Grill steak, covered, over medium-hot heat for 6-10 minutes on each side or until the meat reaches desired doneness. Warm and serve remaining marinade to serve with steak.

This was such an awesome recipe!!!

Cuban Black Bean Soup

3  (15 oz) cans of no-salt added black beans, undrained
2 (13 3/4 oz) cans low-sodium beef broth
1 1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cup water
3/4 cup chopped green pepper
2 tsp minced garlic
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can no-salt added chopped tomatoes, undrained. 
1 (4 1/2 ounce) can chopped green chiles, undrained
1/4 lb.  extra lean cooked ham, diced
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp coarsely ground pepper


1.  Combine first 6 ingredients in a large Dutch oven; bring mixture to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
2.  Add tomato and remaining ingredients to bean mixture.  Cook, uncovered, over low heat 30 additional minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Hmmmm....Hubby and I loved this recipe.  Hubby says "let's have this again".

Sonya's Drunken Kielbasa Soup

Making a soup base:

All of my soups start out with onions, garlic and other vegetables sauted in olive oil, then I add the meat and the liquids and spices.  Often it is made up according to what we have in the house.  I think this is how soups were made a long time ago as well.  Keep those left over peas, corn, beans and put in the freezer, even if it is just a little bit.  Works well to throw in soups later.

When creating a soup or sauce, I have been taught to find a balance between, tangy, sweet, salt, and heat.  You want a perfect blend that is pleasing to the palate.  Always add a little sugar, not too much salt, add some vinegar to give it the tangy edge, and a little bit of pepper to taste.  Just a few pepper flakes and a dash of hot sauce does NOT make a soup too hot to eat, as long as you don't add too much.  So experiment with the sauce and taste it as you can and adjust as needed to find the right blend for you.

This soup I made this week turned out pretty special I thought.  It is probably the favorite of all I have made. So I took careful notes on what I added.  I added a 1/2 bottle of beer to this one and it really enhanced the flavor.  Therefore, I'm calling it Drunken Kielbasa Soup!  lol  Here is the recipe.  Keep in mind since I just throw things in, I don't always know exact measurements so I'm giving my best guesses here to recreate my soup.

Drunken Kielbasa Soup


1/2 Package of Kielbasa
32 oz. can of Chicken Broth
1 14.5 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
1 16 oz. can of black beans
1 can of water
6 oz. beer (I used Corona)
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 small onion chopped
1/2 green pepper finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
11/2 tablespoons sugar
couple of shakes of red pepper flakes
2-3 dashes of hot sauce
2-3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
Your favorite Seasoning Blend*

*My seasoning blend was  "Every Day Seasoning" by Trader Joes.  It had the following in it. And I added a few good shakes.

Sea salt
Dry mustard
Black peppercorn
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Chili Pepper


Saute the garlic and onions in the olive oil in a large dutch oven pan until the onions are no longer firm.  Add the green peppers and cook for a minute or two.  Then add celery and kielbasa and cook for two to three minutes until the kielbasa cooks down some, while stirring.  Then add tomatoes and 1 can of water, chicken broth, and beer.  Then add remaining ingredients and spices (except add beans toward the end).  Bring to a boil.

Once it boils, cover and put it on medium or low to simmer for a while.  I cooked mine for over an hour.  Add the black beans about 15 to 20 minutes before serving.  You could make rice or noodles on the side and serve this dish over either one.

The flavors blended well and was even better on the 2nd day when we had leftovers!


Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp Scampi

1 lb. peeled, large raw shrimp (31/35 count)
1 (12 oz.) package angel hair pasta
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp. salt free Italian Herb seasoning
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1. Devein shrimp, if desired.

2. Prepare angel hair pasta according to package directions.

3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onion and garlic, and saute' 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in Italian-herb seasoning and Worcestershire sauce.

4. Reduce heat to medium. Add shrimp, and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Stir in lemon juice. Toss shrimp mixture with pasta, and sprinkle with cheese and parsley. Serve immediately.

We sure did enjoy this!

Spicy "No Salt" Seasoning Blend


1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon cumin

This will be good on a lot of Mexican type dishes we have decided.  And perhaps some soups.  The cumin really drives this blend!  Will be good on meats as well.  

We doubled the recipe.  And we'll enjoy using this seasoning without missing the salt we would normally have added.  Our blood pressure readings will thank us too!

Savory "No Salt" Seasoning Blend


6 teaspoons Thyme
3 teaspoons Sage
6 teaspoons Savory
5 teaspoons Rosemary

This blend can be used with most meats and some vegetables and soups.  We are finding that we can eat a lot of foods and enjoy using seasonings w/o having to use so much salt.  We doubled the recipe b/c we plan on using it often.  You may want to do that too!

Zesty "No Salt" Seasoning Blend

Zesty "no salt" Seasoning Blend:

2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon mace
2 teaspoon mustard

This blend will be good on chicken, pork and many vegetables.  

We doubled the recipe when we made ours!  Nice to have some blends that have some great tastes but do not have the salt!  

Sonya's Quick Fix Salsa

Sonya's Quick Fix Salsa


This recipe can be changed about with the seasonings and ingredients but here is what I fixed and it turned out awesome!  The pineapple is the secret!  You can get the hotter Rotel also and give it some heat.  Add some different seasonings, to your pleasure.  Play around and have fun!

1 10 oz. can mild Rotel diced tomatoes with green chili

1 8 oz. can Dole pineapple chunks

Seasonings to taste (a few shakes of each - perhaps a teaspoon or so): 

Onion powder

Garlic powder


Cilantro (fresh or dried)

*Penzey's Turkish seasoning blend 

*(or pick your own favorite seasoning blend. It's fun to go through the cabinets, take the tops off spices and "get a whiff" to see which smells like the right one!  Yep that is my method!)


Mix the Rotel tomatoes and the can of pineapple in a food processor along with seasonings and blend until it the pineapple and tomatoes have blended to a good "chunky" stage or finer (according to how you like your salsa).  It does NOT take long to do this - just a few seconds - so be watching or you'll have soup!  lol

Then once blended pour in a bowl and serve, or refrigerate.  This is most excellent if made a day in advance b/c the flavors settle and the pineapple sweetness becomes more apparent.

I had to post this in my blog b/c I don't want to forget what I used.  I'll repeat this one many times. 

The Cobb Salad

We love The Cobb around here and it is an impressive salad to fix for friends b/c it looks so pretty.  You must start out with a big bowl!  You can pick and choose your items and line them up in rows as pictured.  Then make the wonderful dressing listed below!  My Cobbs usually have the following: 

I have not given measurements but I'd say it is probably about 3/4 to a cup of each ingredient:

Romaine lettuce (or Iceberg lettuce) and Spring Mix (or fresh Spinach) - Mixed together makes a good looking salad mix for a dinner party.

Green Bell Pepper
Chicken Bites (cubed cooked chicken/ham/turkey)
Bacon pieces
Gorgonzola cheese (I add cheddar sometimes)
Hard Boiled Eggs

At Christmas this year, I added a little red onion just for fun!
You can really do whatever you like.  But a MUST is to use the bacon and Gorgonzola with the dressing below b/c those tastes provide the main thrust of this salad. 


1 1/3 cups olive oil
2 2/3 red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon tarragon
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Combine in a jar and shake well - and do NOT add the dressing until it is time to serve.  You may not need all of the dressing.  Depends on the amount of lettuce used.


Variation of the 1905 Salad

This salad is one of the variation of a salad that we had at a Cuban restaurant called The Colombia Restaurant in St. Augustine.  Auntie M and Uncle K took us there. We loved eating there so much that we went in their gift shop and bought a cook book. We have had many recipes from that book.  The salad has been one that I fix for guests.  It takes a little bit of an extra effort, much like a Cobb, but it is so good with the dressing poured on.  I think the dressing along with the swiss cheese and ham, really makes this salad tasty.  Enjoy!  If you go to St. Augustine, you have got to try out this restaurant too.  Interesting Cuban family background of those that own the restaurant. 
1905 Salad

1/2 head iceberg lettuce
2 ripe tomatoes, cut in eighths
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1/2 cup of Swiss cheese cut in julienne strips (I did about a cup)
1/2 cup of ham, cut in julienne strips (I did about a cup) - (may substitute turkey or shrimp)

2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese (or Romano)


D R E S S I N G:
1/2 cup white wine vinegar (I used champagne vinegar)
1/2 cup extra-virgin Spanish olive oil (I used regular olive oil)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (I used about 1.5 teaspoons)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of oregano (we used fresh herb)
2 teaspoons lemon juice 
Mix garlic, oregano, and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl.  Beat until smooth with a wire wisk.  Add olive oil, gradually beating to form an emulsion.  Stir in vinegar and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.  Add dressing to salad and toss well.  Then add Romano cheese and toss one more time. 

Oh, we really enjoyed the salad.  This would be a great meal just to have with a baked potato or to serve with seafood like shrimp or scallops.  

Arroz Blanco (White Rice) Cuban Style

 Arroz Blanco (White Rice) Cuban Style

Known in our family as "Cuban Rice"

2 cups long-grain white rice, uncooked
4 cups water
2 garlic cloves, mashed
2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons peanut oil (we used olive oil)
1 tsp lemon juice

Heat oil in a shallow saucepan (about 3 inches deep and 10 inches diameter).  Fry garlic in hot oil until golden, being careful not to burn.  Discard garlic.  Coat rice with oil.  Add water, salt, and lemon juice.  Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover, and steam for 18 minutes.  Fluff the rice serve.  Serves 6.  (Or 3 with seconds - ha!)

Hubby varies what he puts in this recipe.  Sometimes he adds green pepper.  He also adds onion to it and that adds a unique flavor.  Or perhaps you may want to try some seasoning blends with it.  Have a different rice every time! Fun to play around with your recipes!!!   Sometimes you find you like your version better than the recipe itself!  LOL!  It's time for us to have this again!  I'm in the mood for it.

Skillet Ravioli Pizza

Skillet Ravioli Pizza

1 1/2 cups water
1 (24 oz) package frozen small ravioli (we use beef ravioli)
1 tablespoon butter
1 3/4 cups marinara or pasta sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
20 pepperoni slices

1.  Combine water, ravioli, and butter in large saute' pan.  Cover and bring to boil on high.
2.  Remove lid when boiling; reduce to medium-high.  Cook 5-6 minutes, stirring often (to avoid pasta sticking) or until most of liquid is absorbed.
3.  Stir marinara sauce into ravioli; reduce to low.  Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until pasta is hot and tender.
4.  Spread ravioli evenly into single layer.  Sprinkle with cheese and arrange pepperoni slices over top.  Cover and cook 3-4 minutes or until cheese melts.  Serve.

Oh yeah! This one's a keeper.

Barbecue Meatloaf

Barbecue Meatloaf

This recipe has been a favorite of ours through the years.  Usually eaten alongside mashed potatoes and green bean casserole.  Various BBQ sauce flavors can be substituted in the recipe to find a taste that pleases you.  We have found that "Honey Mustard BBQ sauce" has the most vivacious flavor and is pleasing to the palette. 

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup bottled BBQ sauce (divided)
1/2 cup oats, uncooked
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 eggs, beaten

Crumble beef into a mixing bowl.  Add 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce.  Reserve remaining sauce.  Add oats, onion, and eggs.  Mix well, Shape into a loaf and into 12 X 8 inch glass dish.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes and add remaining BBQ sauce on top and cook for additional 15 minutes.  Total cook time is 45 minutes. 

Suggestion:  This batch goes fast so you might want to double the recipe, like I do, and then you MIGHT have SOME leftovers. 

President Reagan's Favorite Macaroni and Cheese

Well, it may be from my kitchen, and it may have come out of my school's cookbook, but the recipe is known as:

President Reagan's Favorite Macaroni and Cheese
1/2 lb. macaroni
1 t. butter
1 egg, beaten
1 t salt
1 t dry mustard
3 c grated cheese, sharp
1 c milk

Boil macaroni in water until tender and drain thouroughly.  Stir in butter and egg.  Mix mustard and salt with 1 T hot water and add to milk.  Add cheese leaving enough to sprinkle on top.  Pour into buttered casserole, add milk, sprinkle with cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until custard is set and top is crusty.  

Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese
(Note:  I usually improvise a bit and double the recipe since there's room in the big crock pot).

8 oz. dry elbow macaroni
3-4 cups (about 3/4 lb.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
13 oz. can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
chopped onion to taste

Combine all ingredients, except 1 cup of cheese, in greased slow cooker.  Sprinkle reserved cup of cheese over top.
Cover.  Cook on low for 3-4 hours.  Do not remove the lid or stir until the mixture has finished cooking. 

Variation:  You can add some extra zest, add 1/2 tsp. dry mustard when adding ingredients.  

(This is a recipe that I've taken to Thanksgiving dinner before from a crock pot cook book that we have.  It worked out great!).

Quick and Easy Hashbrown Casserole

 Quick and Easy Hashbrown Casserole

1 (2 lb) package frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
1 (10.75 oz.) can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 (10.75 oz.) can of Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (1/2 cup reserved for topping)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Dash of paprika (for topping)
Dried parsley (for garnish)


Heat Oven to 350 degrees.

Spray 9 X 13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Combine thawed potatoes, softened butter, mushroom soup, chicken soup, onion, 1 1/2 cups of cheese, salt and pepper, in a large bowl and stir together until mixed well.  Set aside the 1/2 cup cheddar cheese to put on the top later. 

Pour into baking pan and bake for 25 minutes.

Add cheese and paprika to the top and bake for 10 more minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned.  Depends upon oven!

Sprinkle with dried parsley for garnished look!

Every bite was eaten at potluck today!  :-)  That makes a cook happy!

Note:  I have a few comments on Hashbrown casseroles. 

1.  In, my opinion, the sour cream version is too rich and often tastes too sour during leftovers.  So I will no longer use a sour cream in my hashbrowns.

2.  It's festive to fix hashbrowns at Christmas with green and red bell peppers in them.  You can usually buy them this way from your grocer's freezer section.  If not, saute fresh bell peppers first in olive oil to cook them down a bit.  Might as well throw in the onion as well?  lol  Maybe some fresh graded garlic?

3.  Corn flakes.  I'm thinking that I like adding cheese as the topping and it is quicker than fixing up the cornflake and butter topping that sit atop many a classy church casserole. Nothing wrong with a corn flake topping.  But.... Cheese sure does look appetizing! And cheesy toppings usually gets eaten quicker at potlucks beside their cereal ladened sisters!  Yes in my geeky way, I've noticed these things!  lol 

4.  Seasonings.  The fun part of cooking.  Why not just reach in the cabinet and "sniff" for that seasoning blend that is calling to jump right into those potatoes!  Or you can read the label for "excellent with potatoes".  I can tell you that adding rosemary to potatoes is heavenly.  One of life's best discoveries is uniting that herb to a potato!  Different seasonings will make for a varied version.  You could "curry it up", or make them Mexican or Italian.  No discrimination with our potatoes, no sirree!  Only an HR person that likes to cook would say that, right?

Have fun casseroling!  It's so easy to mix up stuff in a bowl and bake it!

George's Artichoke Dip

George's Artichoke Dip

1 14 oz can artichoke hearts
1 cup real mayonnaise
1 ½ cup parmesan cheese
A good dash of garlic powder
Triscuits or bread (Hawaiian bread is very good with this)

Optional ingredients:
A can Sliced water chestnuts (highly recommended!)
½ box of chopped frozen spinach
Dash of Worchestshire sauce
Dash of Tabasco sauce

Coarsely chop the artichokes (finely choped works just as well)  add the other main ingredients.  If you use the water chestnuts (which add a pleasant crunchy texture)
coarsely chop them too.  I like the worchestshire sauce.  This spinach adds color and texture but I like the dip just as well without it.   Excellent on triscuits, but any old cracker will be fine.  I sprinkle paprika on it to make it look more colorful, taste-wise it is a totally optional ingredient.

Bake at 350 in the oven for about 20 minutes, it is much better warmed.  

Notes from George:
Very easy to make and it is the best thing you can do to an artichoke.

You can usually find them with the canned vegetables, they are ready to use out of the can, you can buy whole artichoke hearts (more expensive) or quartered artichoke hearts (less expensive).  Since you just chop them up for this recipe, I buy the quartered. 

If you are new to artichokes, buy a small jar of the marinated artichoke hearts right beside the canned artichokes, they are my second favorite way of eating artichokes.

Apple Dumplin's

 Apple Dumplin's 

1 Package of Crescent Rolls
2 Granny Smith apples
1 stick of margerine
1 cup of orange juice
3/4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 scoop ice cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. 
Peel and core apples and cut into fourths. 
Open crescent rolls and separate into individual pieces. 
Wrap the apple pieces in the crescent rolls.
Place in a pan and sprinkle with cinnamon. 
In a sauce pan, melt butter. 
Add sugar and orange juice and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat and add vanilla. 
Pour over apple dumplin's.
Pop in oven and bake for 30 minutes. 
Spoon juice from pan over the top of the dumplin's and serve warm. 
Best served with a scoop of ice cream!

By the way, this is heavenly!

Homemade Croutons

Homemade Croutons
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Chop bread up into cubes and place on baking tray or pan.  Spray Pam or other baking spray onto cubes.  Sprinkle Italian Seasoning, Garlic Powder, and Onion Powder onto cubes.  Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.  Enjoy....
I just keep mine in a storage baggie ready for use!

Crock Pot Ribs

Crock Pot Ribs

3 to 4 lbs baby back pork ribs
8 oz. bottle Russian Dressing
3/4 cup pineapple juice
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1/2 t. garlic salt

Place 1 rack of ribs in a bottom of a 6 quart slow cooker; stand remaining rib racks on their sides around edges of slow cooker.

Stir together dressing and remaining ingredients; pour over ribs.  
Cover and cook on high setting for one hour; reduce heat to low setting and cook 5 hours.  Skim fat from drippings.  

Serve ribs w/ sauce.  

Serves 8 - 10    Serves 3   (ha!)  Well, we didn't have any leftovers!

I don't even have pics of the final product b/c we tore into them!  lol  They were awesome!  VERY TENDER! 

Cornish Hens

Cornish Hens

1 package (6 oz) of white and wild rice mix
1/3 cup slivered almonds
4 cornish game hens (each 20 to 24 oz)
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

This recipe is for use in a clay pot cooker, but any covered roaster should work also.

1.  If you have a clay pot, soak the top and bottom of it (at least a 4 3/4 quart cooker)
 in water about 15 minutes and drain.

2.  Cook rice mix according to package directions, using 1/4 cup less water; cook uncovered during last 5 minutes and stir in almonds.

3.  Rinse hens and pat dry, reserving giblets for other use.  Sprinkle hens inside and out with salt.  Fill cavities with rice stuffing; close openings with small skewer.  Place hens, breast sides up, in cooker.

4.  Place covered cooker in cold oven.  Set oven at 475 degrees.  Bake until hens are tender and legs move easily, about 1 1/4 hours. 

5.  Heat honey, butter, mustard, curry powder and ginger in small saucepan stirring until melted and bubbly.  Brush hens with honey glaze.  Bake uncovered until shiny and dark brown, 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove hens to serving platter.  Skim and discard fat from cooking liquid; spoon over hens.

And then enjoy b/c it is sooo good! 

Sonya's Chili Recipe

Below is a Chili Recipe that I threw together a few years ago.  Several folks liked it.  So I wrote the recipe down and kept it.  Please forgive, for I don't use exact measurements on the all the spice ingredients, it's a pinch and a shake and smithering according to taste. 

Sonya's Chili Recipe
2 lbs. of ground turkey (or hamburger)
1 green bell pepper
1 small onion
2 cans of Hunts 14.5 oz. diced tomatoes (w/green chili's or w/o) - Here is where you can control your heat or lack of!  Hunts has varied flavors of tomatoes, also.
2 cans of Bush's chili beans (more flavor than kidney beans)
2 cans of Hunt's 15 oz. tomato sauce
2 cans of Hunt's 6 oz. tomato paste
Dashes/shakes/pinches and smitherings:
chili powder
ground Cumin
garlic powder
cocoa powder
tabasco sauce

Brown the onion and green pepper in a little olive oil.  Then brown the ground turkey or hamburger.  (Turkey is lighter! Tastes the same as burger.).  Add a little shake of salt and pepper while browning the meat.

Add the meat, onion, and pepper mixture to the crock pot.  Then add the diced tomatoes (drained or not), the chili beans, tomato sauce, and tomato paste.  Stir.

Then add all of your dashes, shakes, pinches, and smitherings.  

Cooks on high for approximately 2 hours, then switch to low for an hour.  I'd say as long as you give it 3 hours, it will blend in the flavors together for the most pleasing taste to the palet!  

NOTE:  This takes the BIG OVAL CROCK POT.  But you can cut the recipe about in 1/2 and use the regular size crock pot.

The Best Chili Ever

The Best Chili Ever

If you have a big a pot like this, you can double the recipe and serve about 12 to 16.  Otherwise it is good for about 6 to 8.  

Allow plenty of chopping time and it should cook at least 1.5 to 2 hours.  Mine simmered a bit longer.  The flavors are good on day 1, but the leftovers are awesome on day 2.

2 teaspoons oil
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. ground beef
3/4 lb beef sirloin (or stew meat), cubed
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 can dark beer
1 cup strong coffee
2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
1 can beef broth
1/2 cup brown sugar
3.5 tablespoons chili sauce
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon salt
4 (15 oz) kidney beans
3 jalepenos
1 Anaheim pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper

(You can change around the types of peppers.  George would have added more jalepenos for heat but went mild and went with Anaheim.  I DO think the green bell peppers ad an awesome flavor not to be missed though, so at least try to throw in a green bell pepper.)


Heat oil and cook onions, garlic and meat until brown.

   Add tomatoes, tomato paste and beef broth.  I usually buy some chopped tomatoes (not shown here) that say "chili ready" or that have some chili peppers in it.  And that is what I used with this batch.  But plain is fine too. 

And add the beer and coffee (your special ingredients)! We chose a "porter" b/c it is a really dark and "heavy" beer.

The coffee is sortof a surprise ingredient in chili. Most people do not expect it.

 Add all your spices, sugar, and chili sauce.

I had to stop and grind some coriander b/c all we had was coriander seed.  We have a coffee grinder that we use to grind only spices with.  
We order a lot of our "odd" spices from Penzeys and they have some unique spice blends that we cannot make ourselves due to some of the unique spices.  You need to check out Penzeys if you have not already.  At least get on their mailing list.  Their magazine has lots of recipes and ideas. 
Stir in 2 cans of kidney beans and put in your chopped peppers.  Sorry kidney beans not shown.  I didn't take a pic. But you didn't need to see them anyway, did you?  lol

Instead, let's look at the peppers.   They are prettier anyway!  It's great if you have all your chopping done in advance.  Here's what went in my chili. You can mix and match though according to your preference and heat tolerance.

  Reduce heat and simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours.  

 Add 2 remaining cans of kidney beans and simmer for another 30 minutes.  

(This step of adding some more kidney beans is important b/c the kidney beans added earlier cook down and adding these at the last few minutes of cooking really adds more texture back into the chili.) 

We left enough out to serve our family for two nights of chili and then froze the rest.   

It was really good chili which I described as having a complexity of flavor.  And of course the taste was even better on night two once the flavor settled in.  I can truly say it was the best chili I've ever had as far as flavor goes.  I think one could take this base recipe and twist it up with their favorite chili likings!

Chinese Chicken Wings

Chinese Chicken Wings

We loved this recipe.  Easy to prep.  Prepare it one day and bake it the next.  The flavor is wonderful and you will think it was barbecued on the grill.  This will now be one of my most favorite meals!  

2 to 3 lbs chicken wings
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup pineapple juice
1/3 c. brown sugar, packed
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. garlic salt
1/2 t. pepper

Optional (but we found it necessary):  celery sticks and blue cheese or ranch salad dressing for dipping

Place wings in a large plastic zipping bag; set aside.  
Combine soy sauce and next 5 ingredients.
Pour over wings, turning to coat.
Refrigerate over night, turning several times

Drain wings, discarding marinade. 
Arrange in a single layer on an ungreased jelly roll pan.
Bake at 450 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden and juices run clear when chicken is pierced with fork.

Serve with celery and blue cheese or ranch dressing if desired.

Sweet N Sour Chicken

Sweet N Sour Chicken

8 bonelss, skinless, chicken breasts
1 (20 oz) pineapple chunks
3 tbls. brown sugar
3 tbls. ketchup
3 tbls. soy sauce
2 tbls. vinegar (we use red wine vinegar)
1 tbls. cornstarch
1 tbsl. ground ginger


1.  Grill chicken or broil chicken 5 minutes on each side until chicken no longer pink in center.
2.  Combine pineapple chunks, brown sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, cornstarch and ginger in saucepan.
3.  Cook until sauce boils and thickens.
4.  Spoon sauce over broiled or grilled chicken before serving.

This only has 216 calories per serving.  It was wonderful and I plan on using the sauce (w/o) the pineapple chunks on other things like pork chops.  This was so easy and so tasty.  It's one of the Jenny Craig recipes.  I'm posting in my blog so I will always have it!  Hope you try it too.

Key Lime Cake with Buttercream Icing

This recipe was provided to me by a friend/coworker Heather. I love "key lime" and Heather brought me a slice to work one day back in 2009. I knew I had to have the recipe. The homemade icing is so good. It was easy to make and fun! We had it for company one evening and they loved it too.  Such a refreshing and fluffy cake.  Yum!  This was my cake above!

Key Lime Cake

1- (18.25 oz.) lemon or yellow cake mix

1- 3.5 oz. instant lemon pudding mix (dry)

4 large eggs

1/2 cup key lime juice (bottled)

1 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup water

Directions for Key Lime Cake:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Combine above ingredients and beat with electric mixer for 2-3 minutes.

3. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 45 minutes or until done. Cool for 10 minutes and turn out from pans.

Key Lime Buttercream Icing:

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup Crisco

2 teaspoons real vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 cups powdered sugar

6 tablespoons key lime juice


Directions for Key Lime Buttercream Icing:

Beat butter and shortening together for about 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla and salt. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time alternating with the key lime juice.

Other: I happened to have a garnishing tool and so I garnished my cake with lime peel...and sliced the lime up into very thin slices and placed around the edge. You can be creative!

Beef Bourguignon made at Our House


1 tablespoon good olive oil
8 ounces dry cured center cut smoked bacon, diced
2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally in 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 cup cognac or brandy
1 750 ml. bottle dry red wine
1 can (2 cups) beef broth
1 small can tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon if dried)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound frozen whole onions
1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded

For serving:
Sour Dough bread, toasted and rubbed with garlic clove
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, optional 


Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven.  Add the bacon and cook on medium heat 
for about 10 minutes while stirring.  

The bacon should be lightly brown. 

Remove bacon with slotted spoon to a large plate. 

You might want to think about adding some music to the situation to enjoy while slicing, dicing, and dancing about the kitchen making this dish...

Next cube the beef.

Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper.

 In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 2 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. 

Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned.  Set aside.

Toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons for pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, unil the onions are lightly browned.  

Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  

 Add the Cognac, stand back and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. 

Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. 

Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. 

You'll probably need to stop and clean your glasses at this point after all that sauteing!

Add the tomato paste and thyme.  Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.

Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew.  Add the frozen onions.  

Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. 

Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Season to taste.  

To serve, toast the bread in the toaster or oven.  Rub each slice on 1 side with a cut clove of garlic. 

For each serving, spoon the stew over a slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley.    

This was a fun dish to make!  If you are making for just two people, I would cut it in half.  It's great to make for company.  Cook ahead of time, and heat up later!  Or fix the whole batch and freeze some!
Be prepared.  It takes about 3.5 hours to make.  Lots of chopping and lots of steps.  It goes by fast and it's fun and REALLY EASY!  

Momma Billie's Baked Beans

Momma's Baked Beans

Oh, this is one of those recipes you just "guess" on.  No exact measurements just sprinkles of this, and dashes of that, to taste. 

A while back, at Mom's she had these beans on the table and I thought they were remarkably good compared to a lot of other beans I've had - which is a LOT of beans over my lifetime.  

Mom recited her recipe/instructions as follows.

*4 cans of (preferably) ShowBoat Pork and Beans
*Brown Sugar
*Worcestershire sauce
*Dried Minced Onion Flakes

Put the beans in a long baking dish.  You may wish to drain beans (mine turned out runny since I didn't bake them very long - longer baking time will thicken them up!)
Sprinkle the brown sugar over the beans.
Splash on the worcestershire sauce.
Sprinkle some minced onion on the beans (I used onion powder today and it worked fine too).
Pour on some molasses (just guess- how sweet do you like it?)
Then stir.
And the old standby when there are no directions, bake at 350 for 45 minutes and check it!  I did this and it turned out wonderful!
Enjoy, and think of "Momma" when you eat it!

Coconut Rice

Note:  I altered this recipe a bit.  George and I like a lot of rice and we always cook our own rice (not pre-cooked).  So we substituted pre-cooked rice by making our own.  *We cooked 1.5 cups of rice in 3 cups of water.  Then I added a little extra of all the ingredients below in the recipe as we had a little more rice than the recipe called for, and it turned out great.  I also had a time finding cream of coconut so we used coconut milk instead.

Zest and juice of 2 limes
2 (8.8 oz) pouches of pre-cooked basmati rice*  (or cook your own)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup cream of coconut  (Note:  We used coconut milk instead)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1.  Prepare rice according to package instructions, IF you are not using pre-cooked rice.

2.  Zest (grate) lime peel   (Note: I used about 2 teaspoons)

3. Squeeze limes for juice ( about 2 tablespoons)

4. Combine in medium bowl:  lime juice, zest, coconut, cream of coconut, and salt.

5.  Stir in rice until well blended.  Serve.

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

 8 potatoes, cubed (half peeled or half with skin).
2 teaspoons of salt
6 slices of bacon
6 green onions
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
16 oz. sour cream
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup Miracle Whip


1. Cube and boil potatoes with salt.
2.  Drain
3.  Crumble bacon and slice onions
4.  Combine sour cream, pepper and Miracle Whip.
5.  Add to potatoes
6.  Add bacon, onions, and cheese (reserve some of each for top). 
7.  Mix with potatoes.
8.  Top with reserved cheese, onions, and bacon. 
 You can actually bake this as well and make a casserole out of it, but we like it as a cold potato salad. 

Steak with Chimichurri Sauce and 1905 Salad

This meal goes down in the record books at our house.  It was soooo good.  The Chimichurri sauce adds a unique flavor and freshness to the beef kabobs, which were already marinated and grilled to perfection.  This dish was served last night by Hubby G with black beans and saffron rice and it become a flavorful and fun Cuban/South American meal.  Kate added one of our favorite salads, the 1905 salad from one of our favorite restaurants in St. Augustine, the Colombia restaurant.So I'm sharing our experience and recipe with you so you can enjoy it also. 


1 1/2 cups chopped onion
3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
3 lbs beef tenderloin cut into 1 inch cubes

Chimichurri sauce

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup minced red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
4 fresh bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Chimichurri Sauce:  Whisk all ingredients and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in medium bowl.  Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.

Beef:  Whisk all ingredients except beef in large bowl.  Whisk in 1 tablespoon salt.  Add beef; toss to coat.  Cover and chill 1 hour turning occasionially.

Prepare barbecue (high heat): Thread beef with some marinade still clinging onto 8 skewers.  Grill skewers until beef is charred on all sides and cooked to desired doneness, about 5 minutes for medium-rare.  Place 1 skewer on each plate.  Pass chimichurri sauce alongside.  

Side note:  The chimichurri sauce can also be used on other meats and sausages, roasted potatoes, brushed on bread before grilling, or on fried eggs.  I have not tried any of that though.  But would be willing.  What an awesome dinner that was! 

Good to serve with Black Beans.