A Little Break Tuesday, Jan 31 2012 

Winter. Comfort Food. Blah Weather. One month post New Years Resolution.

‘Tis time for a little break!

The Recipe Overload Project is well underway and has gone great thus far! I am loving the experimentation and Brent is loving the food. I myself appear to be loving the food a little too much as well. Reality check time…feeling tired, bloated, blah, full, fat, ugh….must stop the madness.

Never fear though my com padres.  I’ll be pulling away from the desserts, fat laden dinners and sugary/bready breakfasts for a little bit and concentrating on some more healthier items.  I really don’t have a healthy recipe notebook, probably should, but I have plenty of books and my own brain that I can pull recipes from that are mighty good for us.

I’ve got one more heavy duty recipe that I’ll post tomorrow.

Stay tuned and for goodness sake, stay healthy.  Give your own gut a break and lay off the sugar (real or fake) this week.  🙂


Spiced Waffles with Caramelized Apples Sunday, Jan 29 2012 

Another tasty winter breakfast this morning.  Brent has been quite happy that I’ve taken on this project.  He is happily satiated will all kinds of good food and as we speak he’s cleaning up the mess I made making these delightful waffles! I cook, he cleans, we’re a good team!

This dish could serve as a great breakfast, brunch or dessert dish.  Use as is for breakfast or brunch or let the waffles cool and add some vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, etc to make it a dessert.  I did whip up a little bit of cream to which I added a tiny bit of brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.

Spiced Waffles with Caramelized Apples









Source unknown

4 servings

1/3 c plus 3 tbsp all purpose flour

6 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground coriander

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

large pinch of ground cloves

large pinch of ground white pepper (I used a dash of black pepper)

3/4 c buttermilk (if you have none on hand, just mix 3/4 c milk with 3/4 tbsp white vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes – you’ll have buttermilk)

2 tbsp honey

1 large egg, separated

1/2 tsp grated orange peel

2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Caramelized Apples (recipe follows)

Whisk first 12 ingredients in large bowl to blend.  Whisk buttermilk, honey, egg yolk, and orange peel in medium bowl to blend. Whisk buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients.  Stir in melted butter.  Beat egg white in another medium bowl until stiff but not dry, fold into batter.

Melt 1 tbsp butter and brush waffle iron lightly with butter.  Pour 1/2 c batter onto hot iron and cook per your waffle iron instructions. Repeat until finished with batter.

Top waffles with caramelized apples and serve.

Caramelized Apples

4 servings

6 tbsp unsalted butter

1/3 c sugar

2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2″ cubes (I used Braeburn apples, with peels on, thinly sliced)

2/3 c whipping cream

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat sprinkle sugar over. Stir until sugar begins to melt, about 1 minute.  Add apples. Saute until apples are brown and tender and juices form, about 10 minutes.  Add cream and simmer until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.





Gingerbread Pancakes Sunday, Jan 29 2012 

Weekends are great for experimenting with the various pancake recipes I’ve been hoarding for years.  Last time we had pumpkin pancakes, not bad but this time, gingerbread! YUMMY!  Unfortunately, these really could be dessert.  I ate them plain, right off the griddle.  No syrup, no butter….I think they’d be delicious with some creme fraiche or even some whipped cream cheese. Something that wouldn’t add more sugar to the mix.  Regardless, a must try if you like wintery spiced foods…more comfort food for sure! Enjoy!

Gingerbread Pancakes

Source unknown

Makes about 16 small pancakes

1c hot brewed coffee

1/2c packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/2c whole wheat flour

1/2c all purpose flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp salt

In large bowl combine coffee and brown sugar, mix until sugar is dissolved.  When coffee is cooled to room temperature, whisk in egg and butter.  Add remaining ingredients and whisk until just blended.  Batter will be thin.  Let batter stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes to thicken.  Heat skillet over medium high heat.  Butter skillet and cook pancakes about 2 minutes each side.

Fontal Polenta with Mushroom Saute Thursday, Jan 26 2012 

Two words:  Comfort Food!

Seriously delicious, milky warm polenta and cheese topped with a potent blend of herbs, garlic and mushrooms.

The recipe calls for Instant Polenta but please, do me a personal favor and DON’T DO IT!  Use the real thing! Bob’s Red Mill makes wonderful real Medium Ground or Coarse Ground Corn Meal.  It is NOT hard to cook like one may think and it really won’t add a time to your dish because while the polenta is cooking you’ll be washing, chopping, prepping everything else. I’ll lay the recipe out as it shows in Cooking light and then I’ll give you “my version”.

Fontal Polenta with Mushroom Saute










Cooking Light

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil

2 (4 oz) packages exotic mushroom blend, chopped   (I used 4 oz fresh shitake and 4 oz fresh oyster mushrooms, removed stems and sliced)

1 (8 oz) package pre-sliced cremini mushrooms (I used 8 oz fresh cremini mushrooms and sliced myself)

1 tsp minced fresh thyme

1/2 tsp minced fresh oregano

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/3 c vegetable broth

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

2 c 2% milk (I used 2 c 1% Milk)

1 1/2 c vegetable broth (I used 2 c broth)

3/4 c instant polenta (I used 1 c Bob’s Red Mill medium grind corn meal)

1 c (4 oz) shredded fontal or fontina cheese, divided

1/4 tsp salt

Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms; saute for 10 minutes.  Add herbs and garlic, saute 1 more minute. Stir in 1/3 c vegetable broth and 2 tsp lemon juice, 1/8 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.

Bring milk and 1 1/2 c vegetable broth to a boil. Stir in polenta, cooking constantly until thickened, add half the cheese and 1/4 tsp salt.  Divide polenta among dishes, top with remaining cheese.  Broil 5 minutes.  Top each with 1/2 c mushroom mixture.

Jeanette’s Version:

Add 2 c milk and 2c broth to 1 c corn meal in heavy bottom saucepan.  Heat on medium high heat, stirring often with a wire whisk, until beginning to thicken and boil.  Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook, stirring often, for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare mushroom mixture ingredients and cheese.  When Polenta has finished cooking, remove from heat and add 1/2 the cheese. Stir and cover to keep warm.  Follow directions above to prepare mushroom mixture and follow broiling step as well.


New Waldorf Salad Tuesday, Jan 24 2012 


This Waldorf Salad contains roasted grapes, lettuce and vinaigrette as opposed to the old version containing mayo, no grapes and zero lettuce. It’s somewhat sweet thanks to the grapes and apple.  For the frisee I substituted green leaf lettuce and honestly I don’t think you need to add sugar to the grapes. Once roasted, they become very sweet!

New Waldorf Salad

Martha Stewart

Serves 4


For the roasted grapes:

1 1/2 lb seedless red grapes

1 tbsp confectioners sugar

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


For the dressing:

1 tbsp minced shallot

1 tbsp white-wine vinegar

1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil

course salt and pepper


For the salad:

2 celery stalks, thinkly sliced crosswise, plus 1/2 c leaves

1 head frisee, trimmed

1 honeycrisp apple, thinly sliced

1/2 c walnuts, toasted


Roast the grapes: Preheat oven to 350. Toss grapes with sugar and oil.  Roast on rimmed baking sheet until just starting to wrinkle and burst, 25-30 minutes.  Let cool.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: Combine shallot, vinegar, lemon zest and juice, and cumin in a bowl.  Gradually whisk in oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

Make the salad: Toss grapes (without pan juices) with sliced celery and leaves, frisee, apple, and walnuts. Drizzle salad with dressing, and toss to coat.

**Brent and I think it would be great to add sliced chicken breast, red onion, crutons, and/or fresh bacon bits.

Napa: Castello di Amorosa Saturday, Jan 21 2012 

It’s been coined Daryl Sattui’s Tuscan Wonderland. This massive, medieval castle of Napa opened in 2007 and is right off of the St. Helena Highway in Calistoga.  If you ever happen to find yourself in the Napa Valley, this is not to be missed!  We booked an advanced reservation for a tour and tasting and let me tell you, the place is amazing and the wine is delicious!  The walking tour takes about an hour, followed by another good hour of wine tasting.

Pictures just don’t do this place any justice in my opinion.  Honestly, when you arrive and enter the gates, you can’t believe your eyes.  Turrets and massive stone walls, hand forged iron work – it feels like the real deal!  A reported $30 million and 14 years went into creating this 121,000 square feet of Tuscan delight. The castle has four stories above ground and another four stories hidden in the ground underneath. With a dry mote, drawbridge,  iron gates, 107 rooms, a chapel where Latin Mass is held every Sunday, wine caves, a grand ballroom, armory, and dungeon complete with torture chamber including an original iron maiden…you really can’t believe your eyes.  While on our tour, the guide explained that every piece of iron work, down to the nails, were hand forged in Italy.


On our way underground, to the wine caves and dungeon.

I’ve decided to join this wine club because I’ll be back to Napa again this summer and there is a good chance I’ll return again and again throughout my life.  With that, Castello di Amorosa’s superb italian-style wines, my husbands interst in medieval history, the amazing looking parties they hold that I want to attend at some point (the halloween Pegan Ball for example) and the dicounts you get with the membership…well why not!?!?!

Do check out their website, read the history of Daryl Sattui’s vision, passion and dream.  It’s pretty impressive.  http://www.castellodiamorosa.com/

Pumpkin Pancakes Saturday, Jan 21 2012 

I have no idea where this recipe came from.  It looks like I typed it up years ago.  Regarless, not a bad recipe and rather easy for a little change to boring pancakes. I will say that the pumpkin and spice flavor is rather mild.  This recipe is a keeper, however next time I will double the pumpkin and spices while reducing the oil to 1 tsp (the moisture from the extra pumpkin will mean less or no need for oil) and we’ll see how they turn out.









Pumpkin Pancakes

1 1/2 C flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (if you don’t have it on hand see below for recipe to make your own)

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg

1/4 c canned pumpkin (I prefer Farmers Market brand Organic Pumpkin)

1 1/2 C milk (I used 1%)

3 tbsp cooking oil

In medium bowl stir flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice. In a large bowl beat egg, canned pumpkin, milk and oil.  Add flour mix to liquid mix and stir until just blended, but still lumpy.  Pour 1/4 c batter for each pancake onto hot buttered griddle or heavy bottom pan. Cook over medium heat until browned, flip and continue cooking until baked through.

Makes about 10 pancakes

Pumpkin Pie Spice:

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground all spice (or cloves, your choice, I use all spice)

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Combine in small bowl. You’ll have enough for the amount you need for the above recipe plus leftover for next time.  Store in airtight container.



Chicken & Peach Salad Friday, Jan 20 2012 

First I’ll provide the recipe as it originally appeared in Sunset Magazine in 2010. I’ve made a few of my own versions of it, never having made it exactly in the kebab form as the recipe recommends. Below the original recipe, I’ll give you my rendition of the Chicken Peach Salad.

Grilled Chicken & Peach Kebab Salad

Sunset Magazine

Serves 8


2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 C mayonnaise

1 C plain low fat yogurt (I use Greek)

2 tsp minced garlic

1/4 C chopped chives

1 tsp each kosher salt and pepper


2 lbs. boned, skinned chicken breast halves (4-6) cut into 1″ chunks

3 large pealed peaches (about 2 lbs), each cut into 8 wedges (In winter, frozen sliced peaches work too, thaw first)

10 oz baby arugula

1/4 C thinly sliced red onion

1/2 C flat leaf parsley leaves

1. Make dressing: Whisk ingredients together in small bowl.

2. Marinate chicken: put meat and 1/2 C dressing in medium bowl and let sit 30 minutes at room temperature.  If using bamboo skewers, soak in water 30 minutes.  Add enough water (2-4 tbsp) to the remaining dressing to thin slightly, then chill. Prepare grill for medium heat (350-450).

3. Assemble Kebabs: thread 1 peach wedge and 2 chicken chunks onto skewer, repeat, ending with final peach wedge.

4: Cook: oil cooking grate, using tongs and oiled paper towels.  Grill kebabs, covered until browned and chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes, turning once with spatula.

5. Make Salad.  Arrange arugula on plate and sprinkle with onion and parsley.  Lay kebab next to each salad and serve with remaining dressing.

My rendition on the above:

Follow steps 1 & 2.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat on stove-top. Place marinated chicken with marinade and red onion in hot skillet and cook for 5 minutes, stirring every so often to avoid sticking.  Cover and reduce heat to medium, continuing to cook for another 5 minutes until chicken is cooked through, removing lid every 2-3 minutes to give a stir. Remove lid and continue cooking until browned and chicken is cooked through.  If using stainless steel, the marinade will start to stick to the pan, it will look like it will never come off, but it will!

Heat a separate small skillet over medium heat.  Add sliced peaches and cook until warmed through.

Combine cooked chicken mixture and peaches in larger skillet.

Toss greens (any of your choosing, I like red or green leaf) in desired amount of remaining dressing. Spoon hot chicken/peach mixture over lettuce.  Add a little avocado and extra chives.

The First of the New Year Recipe Overload Challenge: Best Cocoa Brownies Friday, Jan 20 2012 

I’m starting with this recipe because it’s an easy one and requires ingredients that I have on hand without having to go grocery shopping.  We’ve got financial goals to meet this year in addition to all this blogging, photos, cooking, cleansing, etc….so I wanted to start simple.

I recall making this recipe before but have several brownie recipes so I’ll need to decide in the end which ONE recipe to keep. These brownies are moist and fudge like in the middle, yet have a nice crisp layer on the outside.

For this recipe test I halved the recipe (which I may do in many instances if possible) and instead of using a baking pan, I used a a non-stick mini muffin tin.  Each brownie is its own self contained little bite (or two) of chocolate goodness!

Best Cocoa Brownies

Epicurious – 2003

Makes 16 large or 25 small brownies in an 8″ square baking pan. If halving, will make 12 mini muffins.

10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted  butter

1 1/4 C Sugar

3/4 C plus 2 tbsp unsweetened Cocoa Powder (I used Raw, Organic, non-alkalized Cacao)

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pure vanilla

2 cold large eggs

1/2 C all-purpose flour

Position rack in lower third of the oven and preheat to 325.  Line bottom and sides of baking pan with parchment or foil, leaving overhang.  If using mini muffin tin, butter each cup even if non stick.

Combine butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in medium heat proof bowl and set bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.  Stir until butter is melted and mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test.  Remove bowl from skillet and set aside briefly until mixture is only warm, not hot.

Stir in vanilla with a wooden spoon or spatula.  Add eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one.  When batter is thick, shiny and well blended, add the flour and stir until you can’t see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or spatula.  Spread evenly in lined baking pan or use mini ice cream/cookie dough scoop to evenly distribute into mini muffin tin.

Bake until toothpick comes out slightly moist with batter, about 20-25 minutes for baking pan, or 16 minutes in a mini muffin tin.

Recipe Overload! Monday, Jan 16 2012 

You could call it organized, you could call it handy, or you could call it a sickness.

See this…

Each of the notebooks in the photo above is full of recipes, recipes I’ve been cutting out of magazines like Bon Appetite, Gourmet, Chocolatier, Martha Stewart, Vegetarian Times, Living Without, etc, etc etc… since 1993.  Every so often I go through and toss some of them because I find I have duplicates.  Or I actually used one of recipes and found that it sucks, but overall the collection continues to grow.

Now, can you see that stack of paper in the upper right hand corner of the photo?  Yeah, that’s a stack of, oh I don’t know, another 50 or so recipes that I have yet to organize and put in the notebooks.  I don’t even know what’s in the stack, much less, really what’s in any of the notebooks. And what’s even more scary is that I collect a stack of recipes like this about every other month.  A sickness, like I said.

The only way these notebooks are organized is by what I call categories.  Each notebook is its own category. They are as follows:

Desserts – Cake, Desserts – Cookies, Desserts – Pies, Tarts & Tortes, Desserts – Custards/Puddings, Desserts – Ice Creams & Candies, Fruit Desserts, Vegetarian – Sides- Pastas-Rice, Salsas – Dips – Dressings, Soup & Salad, Beverages, Poultry & Beef, Seafood, Appetizers, Breakfast & Brunch, Rolls – Muffins – Breads.

As you can see I do tend to lean toward the dessert category so much so that I’ve had to split up different kinds of desserts into their own categories. What can I say, I do love to bake!

So, 14 Categories, some with more than one notebook each.  Each page within the notebook isn’t just one recipe, either.  Each page can contain many!

Here’s my thought….somehow I need to go through and actually make these recipes to figure out if I have anything really good in there and if I don’t, lets narrow down the selection!  I already  have several shelves full of cook books – which I love don’t get me wrong – but there comes a point where these three ring binders start to take over and without knowing what I even have….well it’s kind of a pain.

So, my plan of attack is this – COOK!

The initial GOAL: To use at least one recipe out of one notebook twice a week and if I can stand it (which means not eat more than a bite or two), one of those needs to be a dessert.  Look out work, you’ve got a lot of treats coming your way! And while I do this, I’ll take some pictures, share recipes and blog about each of them – letting you know if it’s a keeper or not!

If this goes as planned I’ll have a mess in these notebooks, which will mean a full reorganization process (maybe this time with table of contents and photos for every recipe), but I’m looking forward to the challenge.

So stay tuned!

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