Saturday, September 15, 2012

Spinach Dip

This is one of my all-time favorite dip recipes.  So simple and yet so delicious.

1 package (9 oz) frozen chopped spinach, cooked, cooled and squeezed dry
1 container (16 oz) sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 package Knorr Vegetable recipe mix
1 can (8 oz) water chestnuts, drained and chopped
3 green onions, chopped

Combine all ingredients and chill about 2 hours.

Serve with assorted crackers or vegetables.  
You may also serve in a hollowed out bread bowl.  Serve the torn up bread pieces as dippers.
Another idea is to fill hollowed out cucumber slices or cherry tomatoes with the dip.

Makes 4 cups



Thursday, September 6, 2012

Avocado, Cream Cheese & Salsa Pockets

Mexican food is my favorite.  When I saw this recipe it went right to the top of the list of recipes I wanted to make.  This is a very quick and tasty appetizer.

1 large sheet puffed pastry, thawed
1 ripe avocado, halved and mashed
1/3 cup cream cheese
1/3 cup salsa
chopped cilantro
salt and pepper, sprinkled to taste
1 egg, beaten

Heat oven to 400 and spray two baking sheets with cooking spray. 

Thaw puffed pastry for about 10 minutes.  With a knife, slice the pastry into approximately 2 inch by 2 inch squares.  (If you use only one of the two pastries that came in the box, you will get 9 squares, or 4 pockets.  You can get 18 squares, or 9 pockets if you use the whole box). 

On half the squares, place a dollop of avocado, then cream cheese, then salsa and cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper.  Use the remaining squares as the tops and place over the filling.  Seal the pockets by pressing the edges with a fork.  Seal well so no filling oozes out during cooking.

In a small bowl beat an egg with a fork and apply an eggwash  to each of the pockets.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until desired browning and puffing has occurred. 

Remove from the oven and serve.  Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator and if desired, reheat leftovers in the microwave for approximately 45 seconds before serving.  Or, store extras in an airtight container on the counter top for a day or so, using common sense because of the cream cheese filling, and reheating in the microwave if desired.

I served these with extra salsa on the side for dipping.

Soft & Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I usually use the oatmeal cookie recipe that is printed on the box of oatmeal.  However, this time I thought I would try a different recipe.  I thought they were really good and a little bit healthier for you...I think.

2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup + 2 TBS flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside.  I prefer to use parchment paper instead of spraying the pans.

Combine oats, flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Mix well.

In a large bowl, beat brown sugar and butter on low speed of mixer until mixture resembles wet sand.  Add applesauce, egg and vanilla and beat again until well blended.  Add oat mixture to sugar mixture.  Using a wooden spoon, stir until dry ingredients are moistened.  Stir in raisins.

Drop dough by spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet.  (Use abut 2 TBS dough per cookie and space 2 inches apart).  Flatten cookies to 1/4 inch thickness using a fork.  (this is a very important step because these cookies do not flatten out or spread during baking).  Dip the fork in water to prevent it from sticking to cookies.  

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until tops of cookies are dry to the touch.  Cookies may seem under baked but that's OK.  Do not over bake.  Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then carefully remove to cooling rack.

*Janice's cookie tip:  Whenever I bake cookies I roll out all my cookies into balls first and place them on wax paper on the counter or on a dinner plate.  That way I can clean up my baking mess and then relax while the cookies are baking rather than rolling cookies and constantly washing my hands between batches.

I also love parchment paper.  The cookies never stick or burn.  Easy cleanup, too!

Makes 20 cookies

Source:  The Looneyspoons Collection - Janet & Greta Podleski


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Beet and Apple Salad

This is a light and refreshing salad.  I'm not fond of blue cheese but my sister told me that is what makes this salad so delicious!  I thought it was delicious without it.

2 TBS honey
2 TBS apple cider vinegar
2 TBS olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

2 - 14.5 oz cans sliced beets
1 Fuji apple (I used Braeburn)

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 - 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley

Make dressing:  Whisk together honey, vinegar and olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Rinse and drain beets.  Cut apples into slices.

Toss beets and apple slices with the dressing, coating well.  Top with blue cheese and parsley.

Serves 6



Braised Pork Chops with Mushroom Cream Gravy

I was going through some old recipe cards of mine and came across this pork chop recipe that I used to make quite often years ago.  I'm not quite sure why I haven't made this in a while.  It is very delicious.  I served this with a side of brown rice.

4 loin bone-in pork chops, 1/2" thick
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 TBS dried parsley flakes
1 - 8 oz. package sliced mushrooms, optional

4 TBS flour
1 - 2 cups milk 

Season both sides of pork chops lightly with salt and pepper.  Brown pork chops on both sides in lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat.

Mix together the water, salt, onion powder, thyme and Worcestershire Sauce.  Carefully pour this mixture over the pork chops.  The water will steam and splatter when adding it to the hot skillet so pour slowly and very carefully.  Sprinkle the chops with parsley.  Add mushrooms.

Cover; simmer on low for about 20-30 minutes or until the chops are tender.  Continue to add more water if the water evaporates.

Remove chops and mushrooms from skillet.  Keep warm.  If the water has fully evaporated from the skillet, add about a cup of water to deglaze the  pan.

In a small bowl, combine flour and one cup of the milk.  Blend until smooth.  Gradually stir this into the hot mixture in the skillet.  Cook until thickened.  Stir constantly.  Add the mushrooms back to the pan.  (I removed the mushrooms because it is somewhat difficult to stir the gravy til it is smooth when there are mushrooms in the gravy).  You may need to add more milk to get the gravy consistency that you prefer. 

Serve mushroom gravy over the pork chops.

Makes 4 servings


Yellow Summer Squash Casserole

My friends Ron and Audrey gave me some beautiful yellow summer squash from their garden along with this delicious recipe.  They said this was their's now a favorite of mine!

3-4 yellow squash (wash and slice..about 1/4" - 1/2" thickness)
1 small onion, diced
2 eggs
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
6 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the squash and onion in a medium size pot, cover with water.  Boil for about 10-15 minutes.  Drain well.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs well.  Add mayonnaise.  Mix well.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add cheddar cheese.  Mix well.  Add this mixture to the squash and combine.

Pour into a small casserole dish (1 1/2 quart or 2 quart dish) and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Since it was a very hot day out, I made this in the toaster oven.  It turned out perfect!

Source:  Ron and Audrey


Peach Cobbler Smoothie

What a great way to start the day.  This smoothie is refreshing and delicious.

2 cups vanilla yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp honey
1/4 - 1/2 tsp nutmeg (or cinnamon)
2 tsp ground flax seed (or wheat germ)
4 tsp rolled oats
2 cups frozen unsweetened peach slices
8 ice cubes

Place all ingredients in a blender in the order listed and secure lid.  Blend well.

Makes four 1/2 cup servings

Source:  Vitamix