Friday, November 13, 2009

Fall River Chow Mein

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Are you familiar with Fall River Style Chow Mein? Fall River Style Chow Mein is unique to our part of the country. Usually, it is made with ground pork, ground beef, and some vegetables such as bean sprouts, onions, and green peppers.
People from Fall River and the surrounding towns love their Fall River style chow mein. It is sometimes even served in our schools. Add a glass of ice cold coffee milk, and you're all set.
The company (Oriental Chow Mein Company) that makes the mix of noodles and gravy, Hoo Mee Chow Mein, had a fire last summer, so the noodles weren't available for a while. It was terrible! But I'm happy to report that they have re-opened. For local chow mein lovers, that means the crunchy, dark noodles are back and better than ever.

In this photo, I poured the gravy over rice because my kids ate most of the crunchy noodles. It tasted delicious, but it was more like a chop suey than a chow mein.

My favorite way to eat Fall River Style Chow Mein is as a "Chow Mein Sandwich." Quite simply, you just serve the crunchy, dark noodles and gravy on top of a hamburger bun.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Chicken with Pesto-Mushroom Cream Sauce

Boneless chicken breast is a staple in my house, my family will attest to that. I figure it is a healthy way to get protein into our diets.

Sometimes, however, we get chickened out. How many times can you eat grilled chicken breast in a summer? Looks like I'm on my way to setting a record.

A few days ago, I made homemade walnut pesto which I used as a sandwich spread in one of our favorite sandwiches, which we affectionately call "tomato mozz". You can put fresh basil in the sandwich, or you can use pesto. Both ways make for a delicious sandwich.

Then I had a little pesto leftover. This recipe uses two of my favorite ingredients - boneless chicken breast and pesto. I modified it so that there is not much "cream" in it. If you want it to be thicker and richer, feel free to increase the cream and decrease the chicken broth. It was delicious!

Chicken with Pesto-Mushroom Cream Sauce

1-1/2 lb. boneless chicken breasts
3 T. olive oil
10 oz. white mushrooms, sliced thinly
5 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup half & half
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup pesto
2 T lemon juice

Heat 1 T. olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Cook chicken until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil.

Add 2 T olive oil to skillet and cook mushrooms until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add half & half, broth, and chicken to skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through (about 15 minutes).

Transfer chicken to serving platter and cover with foil. Return skillet to high heat and simmer until sauce is thickened (about 5 minutes). Off heat, stir in pesto and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Blueberry Buckle

Warm blueberry buckle is like a big hug from Mom. Juicy blueberries are mixed into a light, moist buttery cake, topped with cinnamon scented crumbs. This is comfort food at its finest.
Think of it as a coffee cake, but it does have a bit of healthy fruit in there. I know this is a stretch, but can we all agree it's a way to get more antioxidants into our diets? Humor me.

Serve it for dessert or as a snack with a nice hot cup of coffee. I recommend that you take the extra time to zap it in the microwave when you snack on it the next day, if it lasts that long.

Blueberry Buckle

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening (I used butter flavored Crisco)
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened (I used less)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease one 8x8 inch pan.
2. Cream together 3/4 cup sugar, shortening, and egg. Sift into the bowl 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in blueberries. Pour into greased 8x8 inch pan.
3. To make topping, combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, cinnamon, and butter. Sprinkle over cake batter.
4. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 30 - 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tomato, Basil and Feta on Penne

Today we had the good fortune to go to a farmer's market. Included in my many purchases were some juicy tomatoes. For dinner tonight, I wanted to do something with the tomatoes and the gorgeous basil that is multiplying like crazy on my back porch. I made this pasta dish, and it is summer on a plate!

The great flavors of garlic, tomato, fresh basil and feta cheese combine to give you something different to put on that pasta of yours. (Aren't you so sick of marinara. Enough already!) We always have feta on hand. As we always say in our family, "Feta makes it betta."

This recipe is so simple and so delicious. You can eat it hot or cold (think summer buffet), although tonight we had it warm with some grilled lemon chicken, salad, and corn-on-the-cob. It was my first time making it, but it won't be my last.

Tomato, Basil, and Feta on Penne

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 T olive oil

2 cups tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1/2 pound penne pasta

3 T chopped fresh basil

1 cup chopped feta cheese

Cook penne according to pasta. Meanwhile, warm olive oil in saute pan. Saute garlic for a minute or two (do not let it brown). Add chopped tomatoes. Let it simmer for 5 to 10 minutes so the natural juices come out. Season with salt and pepper. Once penne is cooked, drain and toss with tomato mixture. Add fresh basil and pasta. Toss to combine.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Baked Stuffed Cod

Tonight we had baked stuffed cod. It's a tried and true, and we all love it. This delicate, mild fish needs a boost of flavor, and this recipe always delivers.

This recipe uses very little butter and oil. If you're trying to achieve the type of dish you would get at a restaurant, you may want to add more butter or oil. As an alternative, I use a splash of chicken broth to make the topping moist. You could probably try using a little clam juice if you have that in your cabinet.

Baked Stuffed Cod

1-1/3 pounds cod

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/2 cup crushed Ritz cracker crumbs

1 T. olive oil

1 T. butter

1 t. lemon juice

splash of white wine

splash of chicken broth

1 large (or 2 small) garlic cloves

In a saute pan, warm olive oil and butter over medium low heat. Add garlic, and saute until soft (a couple of minutes). Do not let the garlic brown. Add the bread crumbs and Ritz cracker crumbs and continue to brown for a few minutes. Add the lemon juice, wine and broth. Continue to cook at a medium heat for five to ten minutes more. The mixture should be somewhat moist. If it's not, you can add a bit more chicken broth.

Cut the cod into four serving pieces. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray. Place the pieces of fish in the pan, and cover each piece with some of the bread crumb mixture.

Bake uncovered in a preheated oven at 400 degrees. It should take about 20 to 25 minutes for it to cook through. You'll know it's done when it can flake easily with a fork.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Roasted Beets and Sauteed Beet Greens

roasted beets and sauteed beet greens

roasted beets and sauteed beet greens At the farmer's market today, I was moved to buy beets. They looked too pretty and fresh to ignore.

I have only eaten sliced beets from the can, usually cold, usually in a three bean salad with red wine vinegar. When I went to college, I ate canned beets on my cottage cheese and lettuce during my I'm-a-vegetarian phase. Nowadays, I rarely have a can of beets in my cabinet.
Now I'm older (much), and I realize I've been missing something by not buying fresh beets. When I saw the price tag, just $1.79, I said "Why not?" I'm glad I tried them. They are tender, delicious, and nothing like what you get in a can.

I must come clean and admit that not everyone in my family will try these. My daughter had a bite of the beet and she liked it. That's about all I'm going to get out of the whole family. Nonetheless, I will continue to expose them to all kinds of foods so that one day they may like more foods.

I read a book in April, "Anticancer, the New Way of Life" by David Servan-Schreiber which described the many health benefits of beets. Among them, beets protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers.

Although the oven made my kitchen so hot (today of all days, I decide to make these), it was well worth it. It really is a simple process to cook fresh beets. Just peel after they are cooked! You mustn't let the beet greens go to waste either. I liked them just as well as the beets themselves. Two side dishes in one!

Roasted Beets

Cut off the greens from one bunch of beets. Wash well. Put the beets in a dish coated with cooking spray. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil. Cover with foil, and bake in a 350 oven for about 1 hour, 10 minutes or until they are cooked to your liking. You'll know they are done when a knife can be inserted easily. I like the beets to be fairly tender. After they come out of the oven, let them cool. Peel. Slice thinly. Serve simply with butter, salt and pepper, or drizzle some red wine vinegar.

Sauteed Beet Greens

Wash greens very well. Cut into three to four inch pieces. In a large saute pan, warm a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Add a clove or two of garlic, depending on your taste. Saute the greens on medium heat until they are wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle a little sugar (about 1 teaspoon) and sprinkle in some red wine vinegar (about 1 tablespoon).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting Take a look at the gorgeous color of this cake! My friend made me this Red Velvet cake for my birthday as a surprise. It was her first time making the cake, and it turned out so well.

I asked my friend to share the recipe. It comes from a man who calls himself the Cake Man Raven who owns a bakery/catering facility in Brooklyn, NY. He has a long list of celebrity clients who include Janet Jackson and Oprah. Here's his website:

The key to this recipe could be the use of buttermilk. If you don't have any buttermilk on hand, there is an easy substitution using what you may have on hand in your refrigerator. For every cup of buttermilk you need, put 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice in a measuring cup and pour milk up to the one cup mark. Let the liquid sit for a minute before you use it.

The frosting is delicious! Butter and cream cheese - how could you go wrong? It is decadent and worth every calorie.

The fact that my friend took the time to make this cake for me means so much. But get this! She owns only ONE cake pan, and this is a three-layer cake. She put each of the three layers in the oven, one at a time. That is patience. Now that is a birthday gift. That is a friend.

Perhaps you'll be inspired to make this cake. Better yet, make it for someone you know. I don't think there is any better gift that money could buy.

Dry Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups of cake flour
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. cocoa powder

Wet Ingredients:
1 cup of buttermilk
2 eggs
1 t. white vinegar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 oz. of red food coloring
1 t. vanilla

4 cups of powdered sugar
1 lb. of cream cheese at room temperature
1 lb. of butter, softened
2 t. vanilla

Combine dry ingredients in one bowl. In a second bowl, combine liquid ingredients and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well incorporated. Slowly add dry ingredients to that. Pour into three 9-inch layer pans that have been greased and floured. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. For frosting, mix together the cream cheese and the butter. Gradually add powdered sugar until it reaches desired sweetness and smoothness. Add vanilla and frost the cake!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Salmon

sweet and spicy grilled salmon
We all know salmon is good for us. It provides Omega-3 fatty acids and a lean source of protein. We should be eating more fish, and this recipe provides an easy, tasty way to get it done.

Unfortunately, however, there are some people out there who claim to dislike salmon. I'm not sure why they feel this way, but I bet every so-called salmon hater was tortured with salmon that was creamed or overcooked as a kid.

Give this recipe a try. It is slightly sweet and has a mild taste. I've made many versions, changing the ingredients each time I make it, depending on my mood. Try adding fresh ginger, honey, red pepper flakes, garlic, or lime juice.
My family could not get enough of this tonight! When your two children, ages ten and thirteen, are fighting over the last piece, you know you've got a winner.

Sweet and Spicy Glazed Salmon
adapted from Epicurious
6 T. light brown sugar
8 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets, cut into three pieces

Preheat grill to medium high. Combine brown sugar, mustard and soy sauce in a medium bowl. Transfer 2 tablespoons of this glaze to small bowl; mix in rice vinegar and set aside. Brush 1 side of salmon fillets generously with half of glaze in medium bowl. Place salmon fillets, glazed side down, onto grill. After about one minute, you should be able to peel off skin on side that is facing up. Cook until glaze is slightly charred, about 5 minutes. Brush top side of salmon with the rest of glaze from medium bowl. Turn salmon over and grill until second side is slightly charred and salmon is just opaque in center, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer salmon to plates. Drizzle reserved glaze in small bowl over salmon and serve.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Grilled Pizza Margherita

grilled pizza margherita
Since we bought our new Weber grill (insert chorus of angels singing here), I am obsessed with grilling. I'm looking to grill anything that steps in front of me.

Last night, it was grilled pizza. It's hard to believe how much better a homemade pizza is when it is grilled. It's all about the crust, and our regular ovens do not get hot enough. Sure, I've used a pizza stone in my oven, and it was fine. But with a grill, you get a higher temperature which is great for making grill marks and a fabulous crust.

The crust of a grilled pizza is the best balance of crunchy and chewy. You've got to taste it to believe it. You may not ever feel the need to go to a "Brick Oven Pizza" place again. Use whatever you have on hand for toppings.


1. First, start preheating your grill to high.

2. Get your toppings ready -- perhaps a little sauce, some cheese. I used fresh mozzarella and a store-bought bruschetta topping which I had strained. I also had some leftover sauteed mushrooms and slices of fresh tomato. Your toppings need to be somewhat dry so you don't end up with a soggy pizza.

3. Using thawed dough purchased in a bag at the grocery store (you can certainly make your own), cut the dough into two pieces. Stretch each piece into an oval. Place each oval on a baking sheet (for you to carry outside), and spread a tablespoon or two of olive oil on top of each. Bring the toppings for the pizza outside with you to the grill.

4. Place the dough oil side down on the grill. Shut the cover, and stand close by, because it cooks quickly. Once the crust is browned to your liking, flip the dough. Now it's time to start putting the toppings on that browned side of the pizza. Once you've put the toppings on, put the cover down and don't leave. Remove the pizza when the cheese has melted and the bottom is crispy.

Coney Island Sauce from Fall River

coney island sauce from fall river
At our recent party, I served boiled hot dogs with Coney Island sauce. There are so many different versions and recipes out there! I adapted this recipe that I received from a friend of mine.

I was very pleased with the results. One guest commented, "I can't get this in my mouth fast enough!"

Coney Island Hot Dog restaurants can be found all over the Fall River area. Each establishment seems to have their own take on the sauce. The hot dogs are small, so you must eat at least two. They seem to disappear in three bites.

"Dirty Nick's" in Fall River is considered the most famous of the hot dog places in this region. Now you can order their spice packets online so you can make their version of this delicious sauce.

I used Kayem skinless hot dogs (aka "Skinnies"), and served them in steamed buns. If you don't have ground chourice available to you, you could substitute another spicy sausage, or you could use two pounds of hamburger instead. Using the food processor is key to having the right consistency to the sauce.

1 Spanish onion (minced finely)
1-1/2 lbs ground hamburger
1/2 lb ground chourico
3 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T minced garlic
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 T spicy mustard
1 small can tomato paste
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 T celery salt (or to taste)

In slow cooker, place ground hamburger and chourico, and then cover meat with water and turn on high. Once meat is cooked (several hours), drain hot water and place half the cooked meat into the food processor and finely grind. Place meat back in the crock pot. In separate pan, saute chopped onion in olive oil until soft. Place onions in crock pot. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook six to eight hours on low. You may want to adjust the spices.

Serve hot dogs with "the works" which means with sauce, yellow mustard, minced sweet onions, and a dash of celery salt.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Top Your Own Hamburgers

top your own hamburgers
We had our annual birthday bash for our son on the 4th of July. Putting our new grill to good use, we cooked quarter pound hamburgers. I bought a wide variety of hamburger buns. Then, our guests chose from a bunch of different toppings. Everyone seemed to enjoy customizing their burgers.
Topping Choices

I sauteed sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms in olive oil and garlic, and then I added some Montreal Seasoning and fresh thyme at the end.
Another topping choice was Balsamic Caramelized Vidalia Onions. I sauteed the large slices of onions in olive oil. After they had softened, I added chopped garlic, a teaspoon of sugar or so, some Montreal Seasoning, and a splash or two of balsamic vinegar. I turned up the heat and let everything get nice and caramelized.

Next, I baked some extra thick cut bacon. I cooked these extra thick slices in the oven at 400 degrees on baking sheets covered in aluminum foil. Regular bacon takes about 20 minutes to cook this way. This bacon took about 30 minutes. It was a big hit! Both young and old cannot resist a slice or two of bacon.

I also provided an assortment of cheeses, including: American, Swiss, Cheddar, Blue, and Pepperjack.
For dessert, I served Cheesecake Bites purchased at Sam's Club, GB's favorite. But I also offered thick brownies which were made into sundaes.

I highly recommend you hold your own Top Your Own Burger party this summer -- a new twist on an old favorite. Try having a contest for the Strangest Burger, Most Boring Burger, Most Original, etc. Let me know how it goes!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Brined Pork Chops

brined pork chops

We took the plunge. We invested in a new grill. By invested, I mean, paid twice what one would normally pay for a grill this size. We convinced ourselves that it will be worth it, and so far it has.
Of course we did the compulsory shopping first. Sears. Home Depot. Lowe's. Each grill was so poorly built (think: wiggly) and unappealling. Then we did it. We bought a Weber gas grill, the Genesis. I have to say, I'm glad we did. It's solid. It works so well. No more under-cooked meat on one side, over-cooked on the other. Sear marks everywhere!

One of the first meals I cooked on the grill were these pork chops. I adapted the recipe from Allrecipes. Wow, did they come out moist. I highly recommend taking the time to brine them -- well worth the hour. The balsamic onions also provide great flavor. Start your grills!

1 1/2 quarts water
5 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
6 pork loin chops, 1/2 inch thick

1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 t. fresh rosemary, minced (or more to taste)

1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 Vidalia onions, each cut into 8 wedges
1 teaspoon salt

In a large storage bag placed in a large bowl, stir together the water, kosher salt, and sugar. Add pork chops to this brine, and let them soak for about an hour. Drain and discard the brine. Pat pork chops dry with paper towels.

In the same storage bag, stir together the olive oil, garlic, and rosemary. Place pork chops in bag, and turn to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by 1/2, about 5 to 10 minutes. Watch closely. I burned my first batch.

Melt butter with olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high or high heat. Add the onions and brown them, reduce heat to low, and cook for about 7 minutes, or until tender. Stir in the reduced vinegar and salt.

Preheat the grill for medium-high heat. Cook pork for about 4 minutes per side, or to desired doneness. Remove to a serving plate, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for a few minutes. Uncover, top with the onion sauce, and serve.

Friday, June 26, 2009

French Toast with Blueberry Sauce

french toast with blueberry sauce

In an attempt to avoid finding yet another pint of fuzzy blueberries in my refrigerator, I decided to make a quick warm blueberry sauce for this week's dinner of French toast with maple-flavored chicken sausage.

It was so easy that I can't believe I haven't made it before. It was decadent and a welcome change from maple syrup. This recipe served three of us nicely.

Blueberry Sauce

1 cup of blueberries (I used fresh, but you can use frozen)
1/4 cup sugar (adjust to taste)
1 T. corn starch
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 t. cinnamon

In saucepan, combine sugar and corn starch. Boil until sugar is dissolved. Add blueberries and cinnamon. Cook for about 8 minutes, watching closely. You may need to add more water if too thick. Would also be yummy to add a tablespoon of butter. Serve over crepes, pancakes, or French toast.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Easy Chicken and Dumplings

easy chicken and dumplings
It's hard to believe that a dish like Easy Chicken and Dumplings would taste great and hit the spot at the end of June, but here we are.

I had my first bowl of Chicken and Dumplings a couple of months ago, and I couldn't believe how simple and yummy it is. Where has this dish been my whole life? Dumplings = A Yummy Treat.

I've been tweaking it and adjusting it to my family's tastes, and tonight I hit the jackpot. DB prefers boneless chicken breasts, but the kids and I love dark meat, so we got our way tonight. It's way better with dark meat, I must say.

It's such a cheat to use store-bought biscuits. When I have the time to try them from scratch, I'll let you know the results. And you may prefer to cook the carrots along with the chicken. I cook them on the side so people can add how much they want, and they don't get overcooked. Try adding onions and fresh dill.

This dish will chase your summer chills away!?!

Easy Chicken and Dumplings
1 package boneless, skinless chicken thighs (5)
3 cans lower sodium chicken broth
salt & pepper

2 T. corn starch mixed with 1/4 cup cold water

1 can Pillsbury biscuits

cooked carrots and peas on the side

Place the chicken in a Dutch oven on the stove. Cover with chicken broth. Add a little water if needed to cover the chicken. Bring it up to a boil, skimming off any scum. Then, let it simmer gently until it's cooked through. (Mine took about 45 minutes.) Then, remove the chicken and shred it with two forks. Mix the corn starch with the water, and pour that into the simmering broth. Cut each biscuit into 4 pieces. Plop them into the broth. Submerge the biscuits a little with the back of your spoon. Cover for 10 minutes at a simmer. Remove the cover and cook until the biscuits are done, about 10 minutes more. Serve with cooked carrots and peas.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Books for Foodies

The Saucier's Apprentice by Bob SpitzAm I officially a Foodie? I don't know. But I have discovered that I love, love reading books about food and restaurants.

Several months ago, on the first day of April vacation, instead of taking out yet another cookbook from the library (which is so fun!), I stumbled upon The Saucier's Apprentice, by Bob Spitz. Not only did I enjoy Spitz's writing style, but I also savored the chance to tag along with him as he visited restaurants and cooking schools in Europe that I can only dream about (for now!). This book was a treat to read.

Heat by BIll Buford
This book began my obsession of finding books written by restaurant critics and chefs. Next, I found "Heat, An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany" by Bill Buford. Although I am a huge Food Network fan and you'd think I'd be interested in reading about a man who worked for Mario Batali, I could not get through this book. I read enough about Batali to learn that he drinks a ton, and he has been known to take food out of the trash (allegedly) because it could be used for another dish. I read only about one-half of the book before returning it to the library.

Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth ReichlThis book did not stop me from finding some more books on this topic. Next, I read "Garlic and Sapphires: the Secret Life of a Food Critic in Disguise" by Ruth Reichl. I recognized Reichl's name on the shelf because she is featured on one of my favorite shows on TV, "Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie." (TiVo it!) I loved this book. Reichl describes in great detail some well known restaurants in New York City and includes some nice recipes too. Very fun.

The most recent book that I've read which falls into this category is a memoir from Linda Ellerbee cTake Big Bites by Linda Ellerbeealled "Take Big Bites: Adventures Around the World and Across the Table." Score! It was fun being transported to places around the world with her. I now have Greece on my list of places to visit some day.

Here's a link to Books For Foodies II.

I would love to hear from you if you know of more books I could try. Happy reading!

Coffee with the Hummingbirds

Have you ever seen a hummingbird? If you have, then you know the excitement that you feel each time they decide to grace you with their company. My favorite way to start the day is to enjoy a hot cup of coffee on my back porch, waiting for the hummingbirds to visit. Their unmistakable little chirp is a welcome sound. Now, if only the weather would start cooperating! (Insert the sound of falling rain in background.)

This is my second year feeding hummingbirds. I now have three feeders in the hopes so that I never miss one. I bought this pretty feeder at Home Depot. I was worried that my little friends wouldn't like the muted red tone of the flowers, but that hasn't been a problem.

I used to buy that red liquid that is sold alongside the feeders, but that never attracted any hummingbirds for me. As soon as I started making my own nectar (boil 4 parts water with 1 part of sugar for 2 minutes, cool to room temperature), they started to visit right away.

If you've never seen a hummingbird, you're missing a treat. When I see one, I'm reminded to appreciate the little things. Take time to stop and watch the hummingbirds!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Turkey Meatballs with Spaghetti

turkey meatballs and spaghetti
I'm always trying to find new, yummy ways to use ground turkey. My family prefers ground beef, but I am determined to convince them ground turkey tastes good! Does it taste the same as ground beef? No, but it is still good.

I adapted this recipe from the Food Network. I only buy "extra lean" turkey, so the guilt factor is very low. The next day, we ate the leftover meatballs on wheat bread.

Turkey Meatballs

1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
1 small onion, grated
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
2 to 3 cloves minced garlic
2 large eggs
1 cup bread crumbs (fresh is best)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, for dusting the meat balls before browning

Quick Tomato Sauce
1 28-ounce can Pastene Kitchen Ready tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 carrot, grated
2 T olive oil
1 - 2 t. sugar
3 or 4 stalks fresh basil, chopped

Mix turkey, onion, oregano, basil, garlic, and salt and pepper. Add eggs, bread crumbs, and milk. Roll meatballs to desired size. Heat a large saute pan. Add oil and butter and cook over medium heat. Dust meatballs in a little flour and brown. The meatballs should be browned on medium heat.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Saute carrot in olive oil. Add the garlic. Cook over low to medium heat until soft. Add tomatoes and sugar and simmer for about 15 minutes.

After meatballs are brown, place in the sauce. Simmer until meatballs are completely cooked through. Add the basil before serving.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lamb Cake for Easter

lamb cake for EasterThis lamb cake has many happy memories for my family and me. Each Easter, my husband's Grandma would make this cake, and predictably, each Easter the lamb's head would break off at the neck.

Nothing says Happy Easter like a decapitated lamb cake.

After receiving the honor of inheriting the lamb cake mold, I tried a few recipes with some success. This year, however, I had great success adapting one from There were no problems with the neck, but the size of the ears did not match at all. (You can't really tell by this photo.)

The recipe is basically a butter pound cake. I used a butter cream frosting that I flavored with both vanilla and almond extracts. There was so much leftover frosting that I froze it. My research online says it is okay to do this, so we'll see.


2 1/4 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 egg whites

First, grease and flour your mold, making sure to get all the little areas. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Sift the cake flour with the baking powder and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk. Stir the batter until smooth after each addition. Add the vanilla.

In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it, then quickly fold in the remaining whites.

Fill the face side of the mold with batter. Gently, move a wooden spoon through the batter to remove any air pockets, making sure not to disturb the greased and floured surface of the mold. Put the lid on the mold, making sure it locks or ties together securely so that the steam and rising batter do not force the two sections apart. (I tied them together using kitchen twine.)

Put the mold on a cookie sheet in a preheated oven for about 1 hour. Test for doneness by inserting a skewer or wooden toothpick through a steam vent. Put the cake, still in the mold, on a rack for about 15 minutes. CAREFULLY, remove the top of the mold. Before you separate the cake from the bottom let it cool for about 5 more minutes so that all the steam can escape and the cake can firm up some more. After removing the rest of the mold, let the cake cool on the rack completely. DO NOT sit the cake upright until completely cooled.

Frost and decorate to look like a lamb. I put coconut on the lamb after I frosted it. You can also dye some coconut green to look like grass. Cut jelly beans for the eyes and nose. Don't forget to give the lamb a ribbon around her neck!


1/2 cup margarine or butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
5 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup milk

In a large bowl, cream margarine and shortening until light and fluffy. Add salt, vanilla, almond extract, confectioners sugar and milk. Beat well.

** 7/17/09 Update. I used the leftover frosting that I had frozen. It tasted just as good as the day I froze it, three months later. **