Welcome to my site!

Welcome to my site!
I'm Cindy, and I love to cook! And, I love to eat... hence the size of my rear end! I come from a long line of cooks. My great great Grandmother was a cook in the original Harvey Houses. My grandmother Julia was an awesome cook, and my mom was incredible. I owe my skills to these great women. Especially my Mom who said this to me about making gravy... "Cindy Lynn, wallpaper paste is wallpaper paste & gravy is gravy. Never the two shall meet!" Shall we say my first experience at making gravy left a little bit to be desired! Thank the high heavens my cooking skills have improved since then! Enjoy!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Cauliflower Chowder

This was really delicious.  The chowder is so full of flavor and quite satisfying and filling.  I found the recipe on Pinterest, however I adjusted it to blend half of the cauliflower and was then able to cut the amount of flour used in half.  I find that when you blend soups they thicken naturally.  And, that allows for a few less calories. 
4 slices bacon, diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 tablespoons flour
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup 2% milk
1 head cauliflower – cut in half
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 green onions, chopped
1.     Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside. (I cheated and used Bacon Bits already pre-packaged)
2.    Cut the head of cauliflower in half.  Cut one half into chunks and place in a pot with the chicken broth.  Bring to a simmer, cover.  Cook until the cauliflower is fork tender.   Place the cauliflower into a blender with enough of the broth to completely blend.  Set aside.  Reserve remaining chicken broth for step 5
3.    Take the other half of the cauliflower and break/cut into smaller bite sized pieces.
4.    Melt butter in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, carrots and celery.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in cauliflower and bay leaf.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
5.    Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in remaining chicken broth and milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the blended cauliflower and stir to combine.
6.    Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 12-15 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. If the chowder is too thick, add more milk as needed until desired consistency is reached.

Serve immediately, garnished with bacon and green onions, if desired.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Lemon Rosemary Chicken Tenders with Quinoa Salad

The inspiration for this came from The Hungry Australian website.  http://hungryaustralian.com/ 
She posted a recipe for “Brilliant Rice Salad” and my creative juices were intrigued.  I made this for a lunch with family last weekend.  It was very good!  Full of flavor, healthy, relatively easy to make and a dish that is quite versatile.  You can add or omit whatever ingredients you’d like from the quinoa salad.  And, if you don’t like quinoa – then substitute that for rice.  But, if you’ve never had quinoa – I encourage you to give it a try.  It’s very yummy!
Ingredients & Directions:
Chicken Tenders (enough for two to three per person, depending on how many you’re serving)
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice of one lemon
1/3 cup white wine
3 cloves garlic
Salt & Pepper
4 – 6” of rosemary
Place everything except the chicken tenders into a small blender or food processor.  I use the “Bullet” for this, and all my marinades and salad dressings.  It works like a charm.
Put the chicken tenders in a bowl, dish or Ziploc bag.  Pour marinade over the tenders and work the marinade around to cover each tender.  Place into the fridge for at least 1 hour.  I usually marinade this overnight – or for at least eight hours.
While the quinoa is cooking or while assembling the salad - grill the tenderloins for about 3 minutes per side.  I use my nonstick griddle for this.  But, you could use a skillet instead.  Be sure to drizzle a little olive oil on the cooking surface so that the chicken gets some grill marks.
1 ½ cups quinoa (quinoa should ALWAYS be thoroughly rinsed before using)
3 cups chicken broth
1 tbls. turmeric
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
Pinch of salt
Put everything except the quinoa in a saucepan.  Bring to a simmer; add quinoa and stir to mix.  Bring to a boil; lower heat and cover.  Simmer until all of the liquid has evaporated.   
Remove from heat, fluff with a fork and place cover back on pot.  Allow to sit for about 15 minutes.  While it’s resting you can prepare the other ingredients.
4 tomatoes chopped
3 ribs celery, finely chopped
1/16th of a red onion, finely chopped
4 green onions, chopped
½ of a cucumber, peeled – seeds scooped out and chopped
15 dried apricots, chopped
¼ cup dried cranberries
3 Tbls pine nuts **See note at end of recipe
3 Tbls pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Chopped flat-leaf parsley and basil
After the quinoa has set for 15 minutes, spread it out on your serving tray to promote quicker cooling.  You can mix all of the above ingredients together in a bowl and then sprinkle over the quinoa on the platter.  OR, you can do as I did and mix the quinoa with all of the ingredients in a bowl.
3 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of the lemon
Salt & pepper
Mix the above together and sprinkle over the ingredients on the platter – OR, if mixing everything in a bowl before placing on the platter, pour this over the ingredients in the bowl.  Toss well and then arrange on the platter.
** I have eaten pine nuts for years with no adverse reactions.  However, ever since I had this salad last weekend and again on Monday, I have had a bitter taste in my mouth which is exacerbated when eating/drinking anything sweet.  I’ve Googled these symptoms and found they are attributed to “Pine Mouth” – a temporary reaction some people get to pine nuts.  The articles all say the symptoms should disappear within a week or two.  They have lessened over the week, but definitely flare up when eating or drinking anything sweet – including things that contain natural sugars.  (i.e. carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, milk, etc.)  I only mention this as a “public service” notice.  So, you can add the pine nuts – or not.  But, I will definitely be omitting them when I make this in the future.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Stuffed Mushrooms

I can’t remember from where I got this recipe. (Probably Pinterest)  I didn’t change a thing in the recipe – these were fantastic “as is”.  This is another good New Year’s Eve appetizer recipe.  Enjoy!
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese
¼ cup green onions, finely chopped
½ lb. bacon, chopped, cooked, and drained
¾ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
40-50 mushrooms, washed with stems pulled out
Mix cream cheese, green onions, bacon, and Parmesan cheese together in a large bowl.
Stuff mushrooms with filling, as much as desired. I do about 1 tsp give or take depending on the size of the mushroom.
Bake stuffed mushrooms at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Individual Seven Layer Dips

These were super easy to make and were a big hit at a recent party.  These are perfect for parties because everyone has their own little serving.   I found the recipe at the Girl Who Ate Everything site.  http://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/
She has some wonderful recipes – you should go visit!
1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning
1 cup guacamole or make homemade guacamole
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
1 cup chunky salsa or pico de gallo; or make homemade pico de gallo 
1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 bunch of green onions, sliced
1 (2.25 ounce) can of sliced olives, drained
8 (9 ounce) plastic tumblers
Tortilla chips
Heat a non-stick skillet.  Add the beans to warm through.  Add the taco seasoning and a little bit of water.  Cook until warm and the seasoning has thoroughly dissolved.
Here's how the layers are assembled:
Layer 1: beans and taco seasoning; Layer 2: sour cream; Layer 3: guacamole; Layer 4: salsa or pico de gallo; Layer 5: cheese; Layer 6: tomatoes; Layer 7: green onions and olives
In each plastic glass, layer about 2 Tablespoons of the beans, followed by 2 Tablespoons of sour cream, 2 Tablespoons of guacamole, 2 Tablespoons of salsa or pico de gallo, and 2 Tablespoons of cheese.
Make sure you drain your salsa or pico to get the excess liquid out before you pour it on. Then top with about 1-2 teaspoons of tomatoes, olives, and green onion (If making ahead of time, wait to add these toppings until shortly before serving).
Garnish with one tortilla chip. Store in the refrigerator until serving and serve with chips. Makes around 8 individual dips.
Note: All measurements are approximate. Depending on whether you want thicker or thinner layers you will need more or less.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Roasted Fennel

I got the idea for this recipe from Jamie Oliver’s show.  I never thought that I liked fennel before – because I don’t like licorice.  But, I thought I’d give this a try and I LOVE IT!  It's a perfect accompaniment for most meats!
3 – 4 heads fennel  
1 clove garlic, finely sliced  
2 tablespoons butter
Drizzled Olive Oil  
4 oz. dry white wine
Salt & freshly ground black pepper 
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove any discolored parts of the fennel, and then cut the tops, reserving the leaves.
I normally slice each fennel from the top to the root, into about 4 pieces – quartered.  You can slice them finer and more delicately if you like.
Throw all the ingredients except the reserved leaves into foil – loosely making a packet.  However, don’t completely close it - top off a piece of parchment paper, run it under cold water and scrunch it up to make it soft.  Then place it snugly over and around the fennel, on the inside of the foil packet.   This bakes and steams the fennel at the same time--basically making it really tasty!
Cook in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until tender.
Scatter with the fennel leaves before serving.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mexican Meatballs with Queso Blanco

This was another Pinterest find from the “Cooking on the Ranch” blog.  Love her blog and all of the recipes sound fantastic.  Click HERE to view Lee Ann’s blog.
I made the meatballs as appetizers for the Mexican themed dinner we attended a couple of weeks ago.   However, I can definitely imagine serving them for dinner - perhaps with some rice and salad. They were so flavorful and perfectly spiced – but not “hot” spicy.  Top them with the Queso Blanco – which is HEAVENLY.  It is creamy and spicy and super easy and quick to make.  I will definitely make the meatballs again – and I can think of a lot of ways to use the Queso Blanco – including eating it directly from the bowl.
1.5 lbs lean ground beef
1 cup bread crumbs, or panko crumbs
½ C. milk
1 egg
½ yellow onion, chopped
1 T. olive oil
2 T. chili powder
1 T. cumin
1 t. coriander
1 T. paprika
1 t. garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with Pam.
Combine the meat and bread crumbs in a bowl. In a blender add the milk, egg, onion, olive oil and spices.  Whirl until well combined and the onion is minced.  Pour in the bowl.  Mix well with the meat and bread crumbs.  Once well mixed, form the meat into small meatballs. Arrange meatballs on a baking sheet and bake 15 or 20 minutes.
To serve, place meatballs on a serving platter and drizzle with the Queso Blanco.  (recipe below)
Queso Blanco
½ lb White American Cheese, roughly chopped into 1" pieces
2 oz. diced green chilies (Like Ortega)
1 ½ tablespoon pickled jalapeno slices, diced fine
2 tablespoons juice from the pickled jalapenos
⅓ cup milk
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Combine all ingredients in a medium size glass bowl.  Microwave for five minutes, pausing to stir after every minute. Serve hot.

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