Saturday, January 31, 2009

Spinach Strawberry Pecan Salad

I've had this several times at weddings, and finally took the time to search for and try it! I love it! A little like some of the other spinach salads out there- but still one of my favorites!


1 bag baby spinach
1 pint (or really about 1/2 a pint) strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup pecans (I like the ones that are already broken up)
* Lane likes to add crumbled feta or blue cheese also... hey, he's a cheese guy!


  • 1/3 cup vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup sugar or splenda
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard (the seasoning kind)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Place spinach, sliced strawberries and pecans in bowl. Toss with dressing. Sprinkle a few more strawberries and pecans and wah-la! Delicious salad!

South Beach Favorites- Mashed "Potatoes"

So we NEVER have real mashed potatoes now, unless it's Thanksgiving. This is such an easy way to get some vegetables in, and the kids never even know the difference!! (Jensa- have you tried this one yet with Chase and Ava? and Ryan...)



  1. Steam or microwave cauliflower until soft. (I just use a head of cauliflower, cut off the big stem and then put it in a bowl with some water, covering it with some saran wrap.

  2. Puree cauliflower in food processor (or blender) and add butter spray and half and half to taste.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Swiss Mushroom Chicken

This is one of Ryan's favorite chicken recipes:

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 egg
1 cup crushed butter-flavored crackers (about 25 crackers)
¾ tsp. salt
½ pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 TB butter or margarine, divided
4 slices ham or salami
4 slices Swiss cheese

Flatten chicken to ¼-inch thickness. In a shallow bowl, lightly beat the egg. Combine cracker crumbs and salt in another shallow bowl. Dip chicken in egg, then in crumbs; set aside. In a large ovenproof skillet, saute mushrooms in 1 TB butter until tender; remove and set aside. In the same skillet, melt remaining butter. Add chicken; cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side or until juices run clear. Top each chicken breast half with a ham slice, mushrooms, and a cheese slice. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Yield: 4 servings.

- Jensa

Sesame Chicken Dip

I just tried this out the other day and really like it! It fills that asian snacky craving.

2 TB soy sauce
4 tsp. sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
3 pkgs (8 oz. each) cream cheese
8 green onions, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped salted peanuts
2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach
1 jar (10 oz.) sweet-and- sour sauce
sesame crackers

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic; add the chicken. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Spread cream cheese onto a large serving platter; top with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with onions, peanuts, and spinach. Drizzle with sweet-and-sour sauce. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with crackers (makes 36 servings, ¼ cup each.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chockablock Chocolate Cakes with Warm Macadamia Nut Goo

My friend made these for me for Christmas. She divided out the recipe and baked the cakes in canning jars - what a cute idea! And this cake is super moist.
For the cake:
3 cups sugar
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/8 cups cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups very hot water

For the caramel:
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut, toasted

A large sheet pan with sides, about 13 by 17 inches
Parchment or waxed paper
A 2-inch (approximately) round biscuit or cookie cutter

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a sheet pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment or waxed paper.

Sift together the 3 cups sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Transfer to a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or use a hand mixer) and blend briefly.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for 5 minutes. Gradually add the hot water, mixing at low speed just until combined. The batter will be quite thin.

Pour the batter into the pan. Bake until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean (a few crumbs are okay) and the center feels firm to the touch, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan. Chill, covered, until ready to cut the cake.

Meanwhile, make the caramel: Pour the 1 1/4 cups sugar into the center of a deep saucepan. Carefully pour the water around the walls of the pan, trying not to splash any sugar onto the walls. Do not stir; gently draw your finger twice through the center of the sugar, making a cross, to moisten it. Over high heat, bring to a full boil and cook without stirring, swirling the pan occasionally to even out the color, until medium caramel in color, 5 to 10 minutes. Immediately turn off the heat and use a wooden spoon to slowly and carefully stir in the cream (it will bubble up and may splatter). Stir in the macadamia and coconut. Set aside.

When ready to serve, cut rounds of the chilled cake with a biscuit or cookie cutter, 2 to 3 inches in diameter. If the cake seems to be sticking, dip your cutter in cocoa powder between cuts.

If the sauce has cooled, rewarm it over low heat (or in a microwave) until softened. Place a cake on each plate, and drizzle with caramel sauce. Place another round of cake on top and drizzle lightly with more caramel sauce.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownie Recipe

When I came across a recipe from the Betty Crocker website for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies there was only one thing to do. Race to the grocery store and pick up a couple of things. One Betty Crocker Brownie Mix and one Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie mix. I'm sure these would work with scratch recipes too, but Betty has made it so easy. She's so nice.
Follow the directions on the box for making the brownies and pour into a greased 13 X 9 pan. Make the cookie mix as directed on the pouch and drop by rounded tablespoons into the brownie batter. You'll want to press the dough down lightly.Bake for 35-40 minutes in a 350 degree preheated oven. When they're done, take them out and let them cool completely. For about an hour.Then, you can frost them with chocolate frosting or for a yummier version, do what I did.Whip up some chocolate ganache:

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate morsels
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
6 Tbsp butter
  • In a small saucepan, heat cream and butter until just before the boiling stage.
  • Pour over the chocolate morsels.
  • Let stand about 20 seconds and stir until smooth.
  • Pour over brownies, spread evenly, and let set before cutting.

Now, this is the hardest step. Leave it alone. That's right, you'll want to let the ganache set up. It will be tough, but you can do it.Once the ganache has set, then cut the brownies and enjoy

- Jensa

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Years Traditions

These are our "new" New Year's Traditions! We started to have crab legs for New Years Eve back in PA with some friends of ours the past couple of years, and decided to keep it going!

On New Years Day we decided to start doing fondue (how can you not when you husband has access to so many wonderful cheeses). We just got one of these babies, and what better way to start off the new year (and good eating) than with melted cheese, and chocolate dipped sweets!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Potato Cheese Soup

Perfect winter comfort food...

2-4 cups cut potatoes
4 chicken bullion cubes
½ cup flour
½ cup butter
1 qt. half & half
½ tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. chopped parsley
1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Boil together potatoes and bullion until potatoes are soft. In separate pot, heat together flour, butter, and half & half until it thickens. Add potatoes (including water), paprika, salt, and pepper to the half & half mixture. Stir in parsley and cheese. Serve in a hollowed out bread bowl.
- Jensa