Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Recipe #99: My Stuffed Peppers with Fresh Corn & Topped with Balsamic

When I think of stuffed peppers, I think back to the 60's, along with stuffed cabbage.  My mom made neither one, and I don't know if it was the process of boiling the peppers/cabbage before stuffing/rolling everything.  My friend, Kathy, said that when I gave her some of these to have for dinner, they reminded her of her school cafeteria.  This is a very homey dish, and quite simple to do, and so satisfying.  I also cut my peppers in half, because I like the same ratio of meat mixture to pepper.  I also use an array of red, orange and yellow peppers, not only for color, but because green peppers typically have more acidity to them.  In addition, this recipe usually calls for white rice, but I bought brown rice for this time around.  I also wanted to add something really out of the box, and who would have thought that a splash of white balsamic on top of the pepper when ready to serve would compliment it in such a way to tone down the tomato a bit, but add a complexity and depth.  The addition of the fresh corn adds another flavor, as well as crunch.  You will like this recipe, so please try it.  Now, let's cook...

6 peppers, all colors if you like                         2 tsp worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup uncooked brown rice                           1 lb ground beef
3/4 cup water                                                       1/3 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded cheese, your choice                 2 cans condensed tomato soup
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes                           1 cup fresh corn, or 1 cup frozen
1/2 cup celery, diced                                           white balsamic vinegar, or regular, if you
                                                                                     don't mind the color

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Slice the peppers down the middle and remove the stem and all the membranes, cutting around the stem to leave as much of the pepper intact as possible.  Cook peppers in boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain.  Set aside.  In a large skillet, cook beef and onion until the beef is browned.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the tomatoes, rice, corn, water and Worcestershire.  Cover and simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until rice is cooked.  You will need to taste it and also add more water if need be, as you don't want the rice to be crunchy.  Also, you don't want your stuffing to be dry, but you don't want it to be soupy either, or it will spill right out of the pepper.   Heat oven to 350.  I line a lasagna dish (usually larger than 9x13) with tin foil and spray with cooking spray.   Dump both cans of tomato soup in a bowl, and whisk in just enough water to make it saucy.  I actually hold the pepper in my hand and stuff with a spoon, then place back in the pan.  When all the peppers are back in the pan, pour the tomato soup sauce over all and then top with cheese.   Bake uncovered for about 20-25 minutes, and cheese is melted.  Take peppers out of oven, and after plating, put about a tbsp of balsamic over the top of the pepper.  Make sure to try the pepper before the balsamic, and then after...I think you will really notice a difference.  Bon appetit!


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Recipe #98: My Own Version of Caramel Brownies...Ooey Gooey & Double Stuffed!!!

I have made the world famous caramel brownies many times...take a german chocolate cake mix, take a package of kraft caramels, etc.  "These" are absolutely sublime!  Not only are the brownies from scratch, but the caramel is from Recipe #41...and let me tell you, you have never had a caramel brownie so over top as this...the pictures speak for themselves...again, yes, you need a candy thermometer to make the caramel, but I guess if you wanted, you could cheat and take two packages of Kraft caramels and do the same thing...but, of course, it wouldn't be the same.  You will thank me, or curse me...one or the other....now, let's bake...


2 sticks butter                                                        1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
2 cups sugar                                                           1/2 tbsp instant coffee
1/2 tsp salt                                                              1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder                                              4 eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts


Please refer to Recipe #41..

In a saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate chips, stirring every once in awhile until fully blended.  In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs and coffee.  Add the melted butter/chocolate mixture.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.  Add to the chocolate mixture, stir, and then stir in the nuts.  Line a 9x13 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Spread half of brownie mixture in pan.  Cover the other half..it tends to thicken up.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  Take out of oven.  Pour caramel mixture over the brownies.  Now, if you can't pour the remainder of the brownie mixture over the caramel, you can add about 1/4 cup warm water to thin it out, or just take a little mixture in your hand, flatten and put over the caramel, or just spoon dollops over the caramel.  Continue to bake at 350 for another 15 minutes or so until top looks crackled...do not overbake as the first layer is pretty much baked in the first 15 minutes.  Bon appetit!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Recipe #97: Cranberry Lemon Sugar Cookies with Lemon Zest Filling

I love lemon, almost as much as I love chocolate, and if there's zest in whatever it is, all the better.  Whatever a recipe calls for as far as lemon, I usually triple the amount I put in.  Sorry, I am not one of those who wants my followers to taste just a hint of lemon...I want a one, two punch.  And that said, I take my apology back.  This cookie is to die for...to die for.  You can even forgo the filling, if you want, the cookies are that good by themselves.  But, please don't do that the first time around.  Also, they freeze beautifully...I wrapped about 10 of these individually in plastic wrap, then put in a Ziploc freezer bag...fantastic.  I have to say, I think this is one of top 10 recipes...really!!!  Okay, let's bake...

1 stick butter, softened                                        1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar                                                        1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg                                                                        2 cups flour
1/2 tsp cream of tartar                                        2 tbsp grated lemon peel (probably 3 large lemons)
1/4 tsp salt                                                             3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup sugar in a bowl

In a mixer bowl, cream the butter, shortening and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add egg, beating well.  Combine the flour, cream of tartar, lemon peel and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well.  Stir in the cranberries.  Place in a large piece of plastic wrap, covering loosely and pounding into a square. Refrigerate at least 2 hours until firm.  Roll dough into 1" balls.   I usually do all of this first before I go on to the next step.  Place in bowl of sugar and roll until covered, then put on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.   Flatten just slightly with the bottom of a flat glass or vase.  Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Remove immediately to wire racks to cool.


2/3 cup butter, softened                                       2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/8 cup milk                                                        1/8 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp grated lemon peel

In a medium bowl, combine the filling ingredients; beat until smooth.   Spread on the bottoms of half of the cookies, trying to match them up as best you can according to how they baked up.  Any remaining filling...well, you know what to do.  Bon appetit! 



Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Recipe #96: Chinese Chicken & Fresh Snap Peas...Fabulous!

I love snap peas, and I'm okay with chicken.  Quite frankly, I could make this recipe with snap peas alone, although I have added firm tofu.  That said, tofu lovers don't top the charts, so for this post, I didn't include it.  This dish has only two ingredients, but it's "so" tasty.  If you want something quick, packed with flavor, please try this.  By the way, this recipe is for one, and it's a healthy serving.  Time to cook...

1 chicken breast, sliced very thin                          1 tbsp dry sherry
3 tbsp soy sauce (I use low sodium)                     1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp rice vinegar                                                   2 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp fresh diced ginger                                       1 small container snap peas, tipped
                                                                                   and tailed, vein off*

*for those of you who don't know what "tipped and tailed" means, it means cutting each end off of green beans, snap peas, etc.

In a medium bowl, mix together the soy sauce, sherry, sesame oil, rice vinegar, cornstarch and ginger.  Add the chicken and stir until combined.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside...no need to refrigerate if you will be cooking within a few hours.  In a large skillet or wok on high heat, heat 1 tbsp canola oil with 1 tbsp sesame oil.  Add snap peas and cook just a few minutes, until some are just turning color.  Remove from pan and put on a plate.  Using a slotted spoon, add chicken, reserving marinade in bowl, and browning on high heat for just a few minutes.  Add snap peas back into pan and stir together with chicken.  Add marinade and stir until combined.  At this point you can mix 2 tsp cornstarch with about a 1/4 cup COLD water to thicken.  Serve over rice or just serve in a bowl.  Dinner is served.  Bon appetit!

the chicken in the marinade...just added the red pepper flakes, which I haven't stirred in yet...

the chicken in the marinade and the cut snap peas...

saute the snap peas until "just" turning a little brown...

 a little cornstarch and water just added to thicken the marinade...