Friday, January 25, 2008

Salty Chocolate-Pecan Candy

Another delicious recipe from Pam. This candy is really addicting!

1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
3 (4-oz.) bars semi-sweet chocolate baking bars ( I use Ghirardelli brand)
3 (4-oz.) bars white chocolate baking bars (again Ghirardelli brand)
1 tsp. coarse sea salt

* You can find Ghirardelli baking bars in only Kroger and Schnucks in Memphis.

Roast pecans on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 5 -8 minutes.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Break each chocolate bar into 8 equal pieces. (You will have 48 pieces total.) Arrange in a checkerboard pattern (brown and white) on the cookie sheet.

Pieces will touch.

Bake at 225 degrees for 5 minutes or until chocolate is melted. Remove pan to wire rack. Swirl chocolates into a marble pattern using a wooden pick. (I use a skewer.) Sprinkle evenly with toasted pecans and salt.

Chill 1 hour in frig. or until firm. Break into pieces. Store in sealed container in frig up to 1 month.

AWESOME AND EASY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cucumber Sandwiches

Recipe from my friend Pam. I've had these several times and they are very yummy!

1 8 oz. pkg cream cheese, soft
1 pkg dry Italian-style dressing
½ cup mayo
1 pkg bagel crisps
1 cuc
2 teap. Dried dill weed

Mix cream cheese, dressing mix and mayo.
Spread onto bagels. Top with cuc and sprinkle with dill.

Cabbage Casserole

From Pam: sounds awful, I’ve had it and it’s awesome!!!!!!!!!!!

2 1/2 cups coarsely crushed corn flakes (sometimes I use a little more)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
4 1/2 cups shredded cabbage
1 onion chopped
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can condensed cream of celery soup (undiluted)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Toss the corn flakes and butter; sprinkle half into a greased 13x9x2 inch
baking dish. Layer with the cabbage, onion, salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine the soup, milk and mayonnaise until smooth. Spoon over top.
Sprinkle with cheese and remaining corn flake mixture. Bake, uncovered
@ 350 degrees for about 45 to 50 minutes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Gruyere Omelete

Come on guys... PINK?! oh well...

The big trick with omelets is patience.

3 Eggs
2 tbs water
1tbs butter
1tbs olive oil
1 or 2 pinches salt
4 grinds from a pepper mill

1/2 c. Gruyere shredded
1/2 c. cleaned chopped button mushrooms
2 medium shallots (like garlic and onion all in one! mmm..)
1 splash of white wine
1/2 handful of chopped fresh dill
1/4 handful chopped parsley (for garnish)
1 cherry tomato (sliced thin for garnish)
2 slices of honey wheat bread (toast mmm)
2 dabs of orange marmalade (or whatever the hell you like)

OK - you'll need 2 pans for this. One omelet pan and another one to saute the mushrooms, shallots, etc...

In a bowl, crack the eggs, add in the water and 4 (or more) cracks of pepper and mix with a fork until the mixture looks homogeneous. It's important to do this by hand, don't want to murder the proteins. Then set it aside.

In the saute pan, get the olive oil in there and get it up to a good medium heat. Then add in the mushrooms. Saute 'em for a few minutes until they start to get soft. Flick 'em around the pan with a wooden spoon or whatever. Then add in the shallots. Flick them around a bit. Once the shallots start to soften, add a tbs of white wine. Then add half of the dill and then add a pinch of salt and turn off the heat. Continue to use the wooden spoon or whatever until the heat dissipates. Cover it, remove from the hot burner.

Meanwhile, get that other pan and get it going to medium heat with the butter. Once the butter is melted (but before it burns! yuck...) pour in the eggs and cover. And wait! Don't peak! Unless you have a clear lid, of course.

After 2 minutes, take a peak. If the eggs still look a little runny, it's OK. It just needs maybe another minute. Once the eggs look like they're mostly congealed, put half of the Gruyere cheese in the kinda left-ish middle of the pan, then add half of the saute mixture, use a normal spoon and put it right on top of the cheese. Cover! 30 seconds! Now is a good time to burn some toast.

Open the lid and add in the remainder of the cheese, saute and fresh dill left over from earlier. Slide your spatula under the right side of the pan and gently flip it over the stuffing. Use 2 spatulas if you want. Sometimes I just use my other hand. Burns a little though.

Once, it looks like an omelet in the pan turn off the heat, wait 30 more seconds with the lid on. Get your plate out. Slide that yummy omelet onto the plate. Fan out the 4 or 5 slices of the little tomato on top of the omelet. Sprinkle the parsley everywhere. Plate your triangle-cut marmalade toast (whatever) on the same plate.

Hey, if you made a little bacon or sausage while I wasn't lookin', toss it on. Pour a little french-press coffee (2 splendas w/ 2 moo moos, please) and a little glass of OJ. Turn on some Led Zeppelin and enjoy your morning, Billy-style. Oh yeah, get me some of that cayenne pepper sauce! Crystal, yup!

Omelets are cool because you can pretty much put anything you want in them. Just as long as the filling ingredients marry well. I try not to create omelets with too much going on. You can get one of those at IHOP, barf... Remember, less can be more if you think about the flavors. Try new things that you wouldn't normally try. Carrots and raisins, with eggs!?!? What?! Yup, throw in a little curry and brie and you've got a mouthful of Pakistan. Minus the dirt...

*Other omelet filling combos:
  • Goat cheese, chive or dill, tomato
  • Feta, spinach, scallion
  • Cheddar, vidalia, diced ham
  • Muenster, fresh basil, bourbon-ham (black forest is good, too)
  • Swiss, steak, Shitake, shrooms, yellow onion, horseradish
  • Monterrey Jack, Serrano Peppers (or Jalapeno), white onion

Monday, January 21, 2008

Renee's Vegan Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasted Root Vegetables (vegan recipe, and I seriously don't even remember what magazine I cut this out of...This is a perfect earthy, autumn dish. Maybe serve it with a big salad or sauteed kale, crusty European bread, and glasses of red wine!)
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 turnips (or rutabagas), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 beets, peeled and cut into halves or quarters, depeneding on size
2 onions, peeled and cut into quarters
6 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly mashed with the side of a knife
extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
fresh or dried herbs (like rosemary!)
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Put all root vegetables and the garlic cloves in an uncovered roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil over all for a crispier luster and to keep vegetables from sticking to the pan; mix to distribute oil, then sprinkle with herbs. Cook in the lower 1/3 of the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until deeply browned. Don't be alarmed if the beets turn almost black, which is normal. Every 20 minutes or so during cooking, remove the pan from the oven and use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the starchy vegetables.

Renee's Vegan Szechuan Tofu

Szechuan Tofu (vegan recipe from Molly Katzen's The Enchanted Broccoli Forest version, of course. This is great over steamed white rice, so start it cooking when you start this. I always forget to and have to do it at the end!)
3/4 - 1 (that's anywhere from 3/4 to 1)lb. tofu, NOT the silken kind
1/2 c. canola oil plus 2 T. canola oil
2 average-sized heads broccoli
1 can baby corn, drained
1/2 small onion, sliced
1/3 c. sherry or rice wine
tamari sauce (see step sauce or shoyu would be fine, too)
1.5 c. water
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1.5 t. dry mustard
1/2 t. crushed red pepper
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 T. cornstarch
First, cut the tofu into flat rectangles, about 1/4-inch thick. I slice the whole cake, then cut the slices into rectangles.
Heat the 1/2 c. oil in a deep skillet until the oil is hot enough to instantly bounce a drop of water on contact. Fry the tofu rectangles until their outer surface crispens (a few minutes on each side). Use add'l oil, if necessary. Drain the rectangles on paper towels, and keep them warm in a low oven.
Wash and cut up the broccoli into florets, set aside.
In a 1-cup measuring cup, pour the sherry or rice wine up to the 1/3 c. mark. Add enough tamari to make 1/2 c. of liquid. Put the corn starch into a medium bowl. Whisk in the tamari mixture. Add the water, garlic, mustard, crushed red pepper, and black pepper.
Heat the canola oil in the skillet or wok. Saute the onion and broccoli until crisp-tender. Pour in the sauce, turn the heat up a little, and stir-fry/mix/whatever about 5 - 8 more minutes. The sauce will begin to thicken. Stir in the tofu and baby corn. Serve over steamed white rice.

Renee's Vegan Garlic Pasta

Garlic Pasta (vegan recipe from Peta.This dish is deceptively easy, and it's perfect when there's almost nothing in the pantry. But you will be surprised at how tasty it is! The drawback, NOT low-cal!)
1 lb. spaghetti, vermicelli, angel hair, or some other long narrow noodle
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 t. salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 c. toasted bread crumbs
Prepare pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion, and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1/3 c. of the cooking water. Pour the cooking water into the oil sauce, and cook over low heat 1 minute.
Toss the pasta with the oil sauce. Serve each portion sprinkled with bread crumbs.

Vegetable Lo Mein

Vegetable Lo Mein (vegan recipe from that I tweaked...always got to put my own spin on them, but give proper credit where it's due!)
1 large bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, julienned
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. FRESH (not dried) peeled and grated ginger (This is so imperative, as it really makes the dish something special. The veggies you can substitute whatever you like.)
1/2 t. crushed red pepper
2 T. vegetable oil
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 T. water
1 T. sesame seeds
1 pkg udon noodles, prepared according to package directions
Stir fry the bell pepper, carrot, and onion in hot vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok for 2 - 3 minutes, until vegetables are tender-crisp. Add garlic, ginger, and sesame seeds and cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat. Combine soy sauce and water, and stir into vegetables. Toss cooked udon noodles into vegetable mixture and serve hot.

Renee's Vegan Pasta with Corn Sauce

Pasta with Corn Sauce (vegan recipe from Peta...You want to serve this warm right after cooking it if you have guests, b/c the sauce is very starchy and will sort of gum up after it starts to cool. That is not to say it's not good that way, too, but it does not look as pretty. But I have been known to eat this cold right out of the fridge!)
1 can corn kernels
1.5 c. soy milk
2 T. tahini (Tahini is to sesame seeds what peanut butter is to peanuts.)
1 T. onion, chopped (or dried onion granules)
1 t. salt
1 lb. pasta
freshly ground black pepper
Put the corn, soy milk, tahini, onion, and salt in a blender and process until completely smooth. (It may take several minutes to completely pulverize the corn.) Pour the blended mixture into a medium saucepan, and warm over medium-low heat. Stir often.
While the sauce is heating, cook the pasta according to package directions. Add the hot sauce to the pasta, and toss until evenly coated. Serve immediately, topping each portion with freshly ground black pepper. SO YUM!

Renee's Vegetarian Cornmeal-Carrot Skillet Cakes

Cornmeal-Carrot Skillet Cakes (vegetarian recipe that I tweaked from "Vegetarian Times". You can go two ways with this savory pancake-like entree. I like to go soul-food with it and serve it with beans and sauteed kale, but Scott likes it when we go Latino with it and serve it with beans, topped with salsa and avocado. It has cornmeal, onions, and cheese, so it makes sense both ways. Your pick!)
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 T. yellow cornmeal
1/2 t. dry mustard powder
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. baking powder
2 carrots, grated (about 1 cup...Dear god, use a food processor for the grating if you have one. It's exhausting doing it by hand.)
4 small green onions, thinly sliced
1 c. grated sharp Cheddar cheese, about 3 oz. (I admit, I never use this much cheese, but you might try it if you like the sound of it. I made it last night with goat to the sinuses...instead of Cheddar, and it turned out fine.)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c. milk (cow, goat, soy, rice, whatever)
Combine flour, cornmeal, mustard, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add carrots, green onions, cheese, egg, and milk, and mix well.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Set a baking sheet lined with paper towels inside. This is where you'll keep the done skillet cakes warm while you're cooking the others.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Be sure the skillet is hot before you put batter in, b/c I tried doing otherwise, and the cakes got gummy and stuck to the nonstick skillet! Scoop about 1 - 2 T. of batter into the pan, and spread it flat with the back of your spoon to about 3 inches in diameter. Cook cakes 2.5 - 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Transfer to prepared pan in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaing batter.

Vegetarian/Vegan Paella ala Renee

Vegetarian Paella (vegan dish I tweaked from a Peta cookbook...Is that how you spell tweak? Anyway...) This dish has a long list of ingredients, but it's very easy to make. And the result looks more wow-y than you expect. It's a rich yellow color! I usually serve with refried beans and tortilla chips.
1 cup white rice
2 cups boiling water
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, sliced (although I have used one chopped, deseeded chipotle in a pinch)
1 ripe tomato, chopped (although, again, I have just dumped a can of chopped tomatoes in when I didn't have any fresh)
2 cups vegetable broth (or water if need be)
1 t. salt
1 T. paprika
1 t. turmeric
1 can quartered artichoke hearts
1 small jar chopped or sliced pimentos (optional)
Mix the rice and boiling water, and let stand for 20 minutes. Then, pour off the water.
In the meantime, heat the oil in a large skillet (that has a lid) over medium heat. Saute the onion and bell pepper until the onion is transparent (about 5 mins). Add the garlic, and saute another 3 minutes. Add the rice and broth (or water), bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Stir in the salt, paprika, and turmeric. Cover and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes (but check after about 15...different rices cook at different speeds).
Once the rice is tender, stir in the tomato and artichoke hearts. Turn out onto a serving dish and garnish with pimentos, if using.

Karyn's Won-Ton Sausage Thingies Appetizer

Won Ton Thingies
- from the collection of Karyn

These are very, very, very yummy!

2 packages of wonton wrappers
3 cups shredded cheddar chest
2 – 16 oz packages Regular sausage
1 – 16 oz package Hot/Spicy sausage
1 – 16 oz bottle Hidden Valley ranch dressing
2 – 4oz cans chopped chilies
Vegetable or Olive oil
1 ½ tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350°.

Brown and drain sausage. Add cheese, chilies, and garlic powder. Once well blended, slowly add the ranch dressing. You might not need the whole bottle, just enough to make the other ingredients stick together.

With a pastry brush, lightly brush oil on both sides of each wanton wrapper. Place a single wanton into a mini-muffin pan and press into a “cup” shape. Place pan in oven when it is full and bake until cups are lightly browned. Remove from oven and place a scoop of meat mixture in the wanton shell. Put back into the oven and bake until they are bubbly hot.

Makes 48 .

Best served hot!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Christa's Tortilla Pie

This recipe will make two tortilla pies! Use three tortillas per pie.

6 Soft Taco size Tortillas
1 c. Christa's Spicy Refried Beans
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 package of taco seasoning
1 can corn (or corn with peppers if you like)
1 c. guacamole
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

1. Mix taco seasoning with cream cheese.

2. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese/taco seasoning mixture on a tortilla then layer ingredients on top as follows:
Spicy refried beans.
Shredded cheese.

3. Repeat on one more tortilla and then top with a 3rd tortilla.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes in a casserole dish.

The corn definitely needs to go on after the beans and guacamole. It is hard to layer anything on top of corn because it sticks to and rolls up whatever you try to spread on top of it.

Christa's Spicy Refried Beans

I really don't measure when I make this so you may need to adjust measurements for your taste.

Christa's Spicy Refried Beans

1 can of refried beans
1 can black beans, rinsed
1/2 c. salsa
1 onion
10-15 jalapeno slices from a jar, cut into tiny pieces
2 T. red enchilada sauce
Just enough extra virgin olive oil to saute onion and jalapenos

Saute onions and jalapenos in EVOO on medium in saucepan until onions are translucent (I also add a little of the juice from the jalapeno jar as well). Pour salsa and red enchilada sauce into pan with onions and jalapenos, cover and heat for two minutes. Then add refried beans and black beans to the pan and mix all ingredients together. You can serve immediately but it is tastier to cover and refrigerate, then warm and serve a few hours later or (preferably) the next day.

Mary Evelyn's Bacon Bread

Bacon Bread
From the collection of Mary Evelyn

2 Cans Biscuits (10 count)
2 Sticks Margarine
½ lb. Bacon, cooked and crumbled
½ C. Chopped Bell Pepper (both red and green together are especially delish!)
½ C. Chopped Onion
½ C. Parmesan Cheese

Sauté bell peppers, onion in butter. Cut uncooked biscuits into fourths. Put all ingredients together in bowl and mix well. Pour into ungreased bundt pan*. Bake at 350° for about 30 minutes or until brown.

*Bake in a bundt pan because it may not get completely done in the middle in a regular pan.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Black Forest Cookies a la Renee, Our Resident Vegan

Hello all! I made a new cookie recipe yesterday that I thought I'd share. I even like to think of it as somewhat healthy, since it has nuts and dried berries in it. It's super easy to make. Just a warning that the batter does not look like normal cookie dough. It just looks like melted chocolate. I was afraid it would not cook up into a cookie, but it did! Here it is:

Black Forest Cookies (I got this online at, I think, the Ocean Spray cranberry website and, as always, switched things up to be more in line with my tastes.)

1 11.5-oz. bag chocolate morsels (I used a 12 oz. bag Ghiradelli semi-sweet with good results.)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. butter (I used Earth Balance vegan margarine with good results.)
2 eggs
1 t. almond
3/4 c. flour
1/4 t. baking powder (There is no salt called for in the recipe, which worried me, b/c I thought that was needed to "activate" the baking powder. Worked fine with no salt.)
1 6-oz. package Craisins (dried, sweetened cranberries)
1 c. coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pour 3/4 c. chocolate morsels into an uncovered large microwave-safe bowl. Set remaining morsels aside. Microwave morsels 2 - 3 minutes on high. Stir until chocolate is smooth.
Stir in brown sugar, butter/margarine, eggs, and almond. Add flour and baking powder, mixing thoroughly until combined. Stir in remaining morsels (You may want to let it cool a little, b/c if it is still hot, it will melt these as well.), Craisins, and nuts.
Drop by tablespoonsful onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes (depending on how firm you like your cookies) or until cookies are puffed and set to the touch. Cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

Makes about 2.5 dozen cookies.

The calories are listed as 140 per cookie, but I made them bigger than 1 tablespoonful each, so I know mine were more! It actually also has a little protein, vitamin A, and calcium, per the recipe specs from online. I hope you enjoy it!

***Note: Use egg substitute to convert to a vegan recipe. :)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Suzanne's Fabulous Potato Soup

This is my all-time favorite recipe for Potato Soup. It came from a church cookbook and was originated by the father of a friend.

Do note that you could change this into a vegetarian or vegan recipe, simply by changing a few ingredients: vegetable broth instead of chicken, soy milk instead of cow's milk, etc. The point is to make something yummy and filling that you will actually eat, so don't be afraid to experiment! :)

Potato Soup


3 medium potatoes, cubed
2 small carrots, sliced thin
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 cans chicken broth
2 tsp. parsely flakes
1 cup celery, sliced thin, or 1 tsp. celery seed

After bringing to a boil, cover, reduce heat, simmer till tender. Remove half mixture into large bowl, blend with immersion blender.

Then, mix till well dissolved:

1 T. cornstarch
1 cup milk

Pour into mixture.

Then add:

6 slices cheese, broken into small pieces
1/4 c bacon bits
1/4 tsp pepper
salt to taste

Cook over low heat until desired temp is reached.

Wade's Chocolate Gravy

Y'all, if you've never heard of Chocolate Gravy, you are probably not from the South. I had never heard of it until I moved to Tennessee, and I was born and raised in the South, albeit in Florida. Wade made this for me once for breakfast, and I haven't been the same since. ;)

Chocolate Gravy

1 cup of sugar
2-3 tbsp self rising flour
1 tbsp of cocoa powder (more if you like a darker chocolate)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Milk to desired amount of gravy (at least 2 cups)

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix ingredients and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Serve over warm buttermilk biscuits and butter.

Wade's Vegetarian Chili

Wade is one of my all-time best friends, and easily one of the best cooks I'm privileged to know. If he makes it, you can bet it's going to be good.

Vegetarian Chili


1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion
3 garlic cloves minced
1 red bell pepper diced
2 jalapeno peppers diced (seeded if desired)
½ lbs green beans (fresh or frozen) cut to desired length
2 tbsp cornmeal
1 cup water
1 can light red kidney beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp chili powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp salt to taste

1. Heat oil in a sauce pot over med-high heat. Add the onion and cook until wilted. Stir in garlic, red pepper, jalapeno, and green beans. Cook until peppers begin to soften, 3-5 minutes.
2. Stir in cornmeal and add the water and kidney beans; bring to a simmer. Add the tomatoes, corn, oregano, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, and salt. Simmer mixture until thickened and stew-like, about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Warm Artichoke Dip

*This recipe was given to me by my friend, Steve. We belong to a dinner group of about 10 people who get together once a month for dinner at a different person's home each month. The host prepares the main dish, and the guests bring the rest of the dinner -- appetizers, veggies, side dishes, wine (very important), and desserts. By trading off each month, we get to spend time in the homes of people we are able to get to know better over food lovingly prepared, or just as lovingly picked up from Publix. :)

As for this recipe, I recommend adding chopped spinach, *real* bacon bits (though that should go without saying), and garlic powder to taste. You could also throw in some chopped water chestnuts, almonds, asiago cheese, or whatever other little tidbits your hearts desire. This dip *will not last long*, so be sure to get some as soon as possible. :)

1 large can artichoke hearts, drained
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups mayonnaise
1 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated ( I used just regular Parmesan )

Chop artichokes, add cream cheese, mayonnaise and cheese. Mix thoroughly. Bake uncovered in oven proof serving dish at 350 for about 15 minutes. Serve warm with crackers.

If there are suggestions for ways to make this Vegan-friendly, do let us know. We'd be happy to post an addendum to this (or any other) recipe(s).


"Personally I do not resort to force--not even the force of law--to advance moral reforms. I prefer education, argument, persuasion, and above all the influence of example. "

- Rutherford Hayes (1822-1893)
19th U.S. president