Sunday, June 28, 2009


I learned a few things when I lived in Mexico and Argentina...and to be honest, I don't remember where this recipe hales from. But it is delicious, and depending on what you top it with, it can be completely vegetarian as well. However, no matter what you do with polenta, is is certainly filling and fantastic.
1/4 -1/2 c. ground cornmeal (look for polenta mix...the texture is better)
2-2 1/2 c. water
1 T. margarine/butter
dash of salt
Bring water to a boil, add salt, and begin to sprinkle in cornmeal, whisking while sprinkling. Add enough cornmeal that the mixture reaches the thickness of hot cereal, but does not become any thicker. Add additional water as needed, stirring all the time to ensure smoothness of the polenta. Cook 5-10 more minutes, stirring as needed. Add margarine and whisk together. Place about 1 cup of the polenta on a plate and smooth out. Top with your favorite marinara or meat/tomato sauce and sprinkle shredded cheese on top.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Basil Lemonade

I know, what is my deal with basil, right? Well, I love it. And this lemonade may sound odd, but my sister-in-law Amy had it at her wedding reception, and it was to die for!

12 c. cold water
2 12-oz cans frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
1/2 c. firmly packed fresh basil leaves, torn
lemon slices and fresh basil

*Combine water, lemonade, sugar, & lime juice in extra large pitcher. Stir well to combine. Stir in torn basil leaves. Cover & refrigerate for 8 hours. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into serving container & discard basil leaves. Chill & serve over ice w/lemon slices and basil leaves for garnish.

Basil Parmesan Vinaigrette

1/2 c. fresh basil leaves
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 - 1/2 c. olive oil
2 T. red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves
2 T. Dijon mustard
1/8 t. salt and pepper

In a blender, add basil, Parmesan cheese, vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper. Process at low speed for 30 seconds to one minute. While the blender is running, begin to stream in olive oil. Switch the speed to high and blend until smooth.

*This is the closest thing to Rooster's House Basil dressing I can find - and it's fabulous!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Coconut Chex Mix

This recipe makes two large Ziploc bags full. To make less just use 3 cups combined Chex & 3 cups golden grahams, and half everything else.

3 c. rice chex
3 c. corn chex
6 c. golden grahams
1 c. chopped pecans
1 c. coconut
1 1/2 c. butter (3 cubes)
1 c. sugar
1 c. Caro syrup
1 t. vanilla

*Combine cereals, nuts, & coconut in a large bowl and toss. Boil butter, sugar, Caro syrup, & vanilla for two minutes in a jumbo pot. Pour cereal mixture into pan after boiled & toss to coat. Pour onto wax paper to cool & break apart once set. Tastes best refrigerated!

Chicken Flourentine Soup

DISCLAIMER: This recipe has actually NOT been tried out yet. Make at your own risk.

My friend Dionne and I positively LOVE this soup from Biaggi's at the Gateway. Last time we were there we sort-of swindled the recipe out of the waitress.

Chicken, cooked & cubed
Diced onions
Diced celery
Frozen or fresh spinach
Minced garlic
1 cube butter
1 can chicken broth
1 sm. container heavy whipping cream OR 1 can evaporated milk
Salt & pepper to taste
Garlic/onion powder
Croutons for garnish

*Simmer cooked chicken in broth while celery, onion, spinach, & garlic sautee in butter. Whisk flour and cream or milk until smooth & combine all ingredients in sauce pan. Heat until thickened - add more flour, broth, and cream or milk if necessary. (Since I haven't made it yet, I don't know how the proportions will turn out). Garnish with croutons & shredded cheese.

Peanut Butter Stew - don't knock it!

This may sound a little weird, or possibly even repulsive to some of you, but it is seriously awesome. I ate it all the time on my mission - the Africans made it a lot.

Cooked roast or stew meat, cut into chunks
1 sm. can tomato paste
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
2 c. hot water
1 sm. onion, diced
1 c. halved peanuts
bay leaves

*Whisk tomato paste, peanut butter, & water. Combine all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low 3-4 hours, stirring often. Serve with steamed white rice or cous-cous.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Creamy Salsa Platter

I don't know what my deal is, but I'm totally on a chips and dips kick for lunch lately. Anyway, this one is fairly simple.

1/2 bar cream cheese
shredded cheddar cheese
sliced olives

*Spread cream cheese on a plate, top with salsa, shredded cheese, & olives. It would be great with some diced tomatoes & maybe even some shredded lettuce, too. Eat with tortilla chips!

Stuffed Peppers/Onions

2 peppers
1 lg. onion
1 lb ground beef or sausage, browned & drained
1 pkg lipton mushroom rice mix
1/2 bar cream cheese
(you can also use plain white rice and condensed cream of mushroom soup)
diced celery
diced tomatoes
sliced olives
season salt
dried parsley
sliced cheese

*Core & seed peppers. Cut onion in half lengthwise. Peel the layers apart (each one should look like a little boat). Blanch peppers & onions in boiling water for five minutes. Prepare rice according to package directions, stirring in cream cheese until melted at the end. Combine meat, rice, & veggies for filling and stir in spices. Fill peppers/onions with an ice cream scoop. Top w/sliced cheese. Bake in the oven at 400 on a cookie sheet covered with foil - for 20-30 minutes. Yummy! You could do all onions or all peppers - but I do both because I like the peppers, and Sean doesn't!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Italian Pasta Salad

We were hosting FHE on Monday and trying to decide what to mom kept bringing up potato items when we already had chips on hand. So, I mentioned this pasta salad, and after much coaxing, she let me try it. I looked at recipes online, then created my own version. It turned out delicious and light and was even better the next day. Here's the simplified, fairly non trial-and-error version for you.

Italian Pasta Salad
2-3 cups cooked pasta, cooled slightly (I was in the mood for bowties, so I did bowties)
1 c. of any of the following vegetables sliced:
snap peas
shredded carrots*
grape/cherry tomatoes*
baby spinach leaves
green onions or red onion (1/3-1/2 c. only)*
broccoli florettes*
bell pepper*
1 pkt. italian dressing mix
1/2 c. water
2-3 T. oil
optional: diced fresh herbs; such as basil*, oregano, parsley*, and chives*
2 T.-1/4 c. parmesan cheese
Salt, pepper, and sugar to taste

Place all vegetables in bowl and pour warm pasta on top. Add any fresh herbs you may be using, and allow to stand so the heat of the pasta can warm the rest. Sprinkle on parmesan cheese. In small bowl or measuring cup, whip dressing mix, water, and oil quickly and pour over pasta, veggies, and herbs, tossing to coat. Taste and add salt, pepper, and sugar (if it tastes too acidic) as needed. If you get rather crazy with the veggies as I did, you can either add another pkt. of dressing mix, or whatever is on hand (I threw in fresh lemon, garlic powder, celery salt, and a little sugar until it was sassy enough). Refrigerate until needed (the trick is to give it plenty of time for the flavors to meld together, as I said, mine was much better the next day). Toss before serving.
*used in my salad

Chili Cheese Dip

Look closely at the picture. Those are, in fact, tiny children hands scooping the dip up with tortilla chips. I have pretty picky eaters, and my 7-year-old who has never liked meat is just now trying hamburgers, hot dogs, steak, etc. All 3 of my kids loved this dip - even the 2-year-old. It is super easy:

1 can chili
4 oz. velveeta cheese, cubed

Heat ingredients together until cheese is totally melted. You could also add sliced black olives and sour cream as a garnish.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pig Pickin' Cake

This recipe comes from my Aunt Joanie, who got it from a daughter-in-law, who got it from...heck, I don't know! Anyway, I made it for my mom's 67th (!!!) birthday today, and all but this much is left. VERY light and tasty!

18 oz. yellow cake mix
11 oz. can mandarin oranges with juice
4 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9" round cake pans. In mixing bowl, combine cake mix, mandarin oranges with juice, eggs and oil. Beat for 2 minutes with electric mixer. Pour into pans and bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Turn out of pans and finish cooling on racks.
9 oz carton Cool Whip, thawed
8 oz can crushed pineapple with juice
3.4 oz box instant vanilla pudding11 oz can mandarin oranges, drained for garnish
In a mixing bowl fold together Cool Whip, pineapple with juice and vanilla pudding. Fill and frost cake. Then watch it disappear! Refrigerate any leftovers...if there are any.

Sarah's Note: I added more cream and pineapple to the topping to ensure there was enough to generously cover a layer cake...and it's good enough any extra pineapple fluff can be used as fruit dip. Yummy!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

No-bake Cheesecake

I remember making this in college but lost the recipe. It is seriously the best cheesecake ever! Not as heavy as the baked kind.

1 8-oz pkg cream cheese
1 sm. container cool whip
1 c. powdered sugar
2 T. vanilla
2 T. lemon juice
1 graham cracker crust
canned pie filling or fresh fruit for topping

*Mix first 5 ingredients together & pour into crust. Refrigerate and serve with topping!

Double-Delight Peanut Butter Cookies

My mother-in-law made these and we ate them on vacation. They were seriously to die for! Here is the link:

Chocolate Fruit Dip

1 8-oz pkg cream cheese
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. cocoa
1 t. vanilla
2 c. cool whip

*Cream cheese & sugar. Add cocoa & vanilla & beat until smooth. Beat in cool whip & refrigerate. Serve with strawberries, bananas, apples, or anything that goes with chocolate! It's not a fondue, like in the picture - but it sure tastes amazing!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Creamy Chicken Enchilada's

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas
  • 2 cans of Cream of Chicken soup
  • 3 TBSP Taco Seasoning
  • 2 Chicken Breasts cooked & shredded
  • 1 c. Sour Cream
  • 1/4 c. Milk
  • 1 1/2 c. Shredded Cheese
  • 1/2 c. Chopped Green Onions
  • Olives
  • Tortillas
Cook chicken breasts & shred. Mix all ingredients except the chicken. Spread about 1/4 cup mixture down center of each tortilla. Add chicken in each tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in a 9x13 pan. Pour remaining mixture over enchiladas. Bake @ 350 degrees for 20 minutes.