Meatless Mondays.....

I've been doing a lot less meat in my dinners lately.  I usually have enough protein by adding legumes instead.  But, this is my favorite vegetarian dinner by far.  It's easy and filling too.  Just delicious.  It takes about 15 minutes for chopping and you can literally add any vegetables you want.  Although, if you have things like broccoli and cauliflower on hand, just blanch them for a minute before stir frying them.

2 cups of chopped or sliced vegetables (kept uniform in size) 
1 T. olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeno, diced finely
2 compari tomatoes, or 1 medium tomato, cored and diced
1/2 cup cooked white or brown rice
1 tsp of kosher salt
1/2 tsp. of black pepper

My favorite mix of vegetables for this dish are red pepper, mushrooms, pea pods, onion and zucchini.  

Place skillet on stove top, turn to medium heat.  Add oil and let heat until hot and add vegetables, sitr. Turn heat to medium low after 5 minutes.  Add in jalapeno, stir again.  Let cook for another 2 minutes.  Add garlic and toss.  Add chopped tomatoes and turn stove off.  Add rice, salt & pepper, and stir again.  Let sit another minute and transfer to plate.

By the way, this is a very low calorie dinner.  But, by no means does it taste low calorie.  Does it look like you'll be deprived?

It's yummy and filling too~


Make ahead Bacon and Cheese Potato Gratin ~

If you are like me and are having guests for either dinner or a Holiday, you love dishes that you make ahead. And there aren't many successful potato dishes to make ahead though, but this is one of them.  I've made this dish for a few years now, and it works wonderfully!

I bake this dish half way the night before, covered in aluminum foil and then let it cool to refrigerate overnight.  Then take it out of the refrigerator for an hour to let come to room temperature.  Then I place it back in a preheated 350 degree oven, uncovered for 1 hour.  No fussing, no trying to get everything done at the same time.  It fits all of my categories, easy and excellent!  The gruyere and bacon take it over the top too!

I don't recommend doing it more than one day in advance though.  The color of the potatoes may turn brownish on you.

If you have a food processor, this dish is extremely simple to make. If not, you can either thinly slice the potatoes or use a mandolin on a fine setting.

Here's the recipe:

4 cups of thinly sliced red bliss potatoes, (I don't peel them)
2 cups of grated cheese, Swiss or Gruyere (even cheddar will work)
3 cups whole milk or light cream (I use whole milk)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 lb. bacon, finely chopped
2 T. butter
1 T. vegetable oil
3 T. flour
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 T. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Place a dutch oven on medium heat on stove top, add oil.  Add chopped bacon and render fat, until almost gone and you are left with brown bacon meat.  Turn heat down to low and remove bacon, set aside on a paper towel.  Add chopped onion and cook for about 5 minutes to soften.  Add butter and flour, stir and cook for just a minute.  Add milk and stir, then add salt, pepper and ground nutmeg.  Turn stove to medium heat while stirring and bring to a simmer.  Add cheese a little at a time, stirring in between so it melts into sauce.  Turn off heat.
Put cleaned potatoes into your food processor until all are sliced and add into the cheese sauce.  Stir with wooden spoon until all potato slices are covered.  Stir in bacon bits.  
Pour potato mixture into a 9 x 13 (or similar) size baking pan and sprinkle with grated cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour.  Take out of oven and let cool.  Place into the refrigerator overnight.
Two hours before serving, bring potatoes out onto counter to bring to room temperature.  One hour before serving, remove foil from potatoes and place into a pre-heated, 375 degrees oven for one hour.  Take out of oven and let rest for 5 minutes.  

You can do this dish all at once, but it will need to cook for 2 hours.  Remove foil the last half of baking though.

Adding this post to Rattlebridge Farms, Foodie Friday!


Dark Chocolate Almond Macaroons ~

Like many people, I love the Smitten Kitchen blog.  She thinks of a new twist on even the simplest recipes, things that are right in front of your nose.   Dark Chocolate Macaroons is just one example.  I make the regular ones and dip them in chocolate and everyone loves them.  But, these are taken to a new level of scrumptious.

I added my own flair, which I love as well.  Instead of vanilla extract, I use almond extract.  I wanted more of an almond joy kind of flavor!  And these don't disappoint.

Here's the link to Smitten Kitchen's recipe, so you can decide for yourself.  She uses a cookie scoop to make hers, but I used a rounded teaspoonful.


These are so easy to make and even easier to eat!

I'm linking this to Michael West's blog on Foodie Friday.



Kathy's Italian Cookies ~

A co-worker Kathy gave me this recipe after she was sharing her story of making them for lots of family functions.  I then begged her for the recipe.  I love good Italian cookies and this one does not disappoint. The only thing I did differently was to add almond extract instead of anise and almond milk instead of regular milk in both the cookie and the frosting.

I wanted an easy dessert for Easter and the added bonus for me is any recipe I can make ahead and freeze.   So I made them yesterday and froze them and then today I defrosted two and had them 1/2 hr. after they defrosted.  They are fabulous!  Thanks Kathy ~

2 eggs
1 Tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons anise extract (or almond extract)
1 cup crisco
4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk (or almond milk)

For the Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
2 - 3 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon anise extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar, extract and baking powder.
  3. Add the crisco and milk, then the flouone cup at a time, until well combined.
  4. Pinch off walnut-sized pieces of dough, and roll smooth between your palms.  Flour your hands if the dough is too sticky.  Arrange the balls of dough 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until bottoms of the cookies are a light golden brown.  The tops will still be pale.
  6. Remove from the oven, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  7. Combine the glaze ingredients in a bowl until just smooth.  You want it more thick than thin, but still runny.
  8. Dip the tops of the cooled cookies into the glaze, then return to the wire rack, allowing the glaze to drip down the sides of the cookie.  After every 3 cookies you dip, top with sprinkles or else they won't stick.
Makes around 30 cookies.


Real women love quiche ~

In the mid 70's, when I was a young bride, I watched Julia Child every afternoon.  She didn't have a fancy show, it was also in my house at least, still black and white.  But boy did she have character.  She was easy to watch and mostly, she was funny.  She never made her audience feel incompetent, or that something was too hard to make.  She convinced me and many, many other women to get into the kitchen and cook good meals.

One of my favorite things to make still is her quiche.  It's not fancy and yet I find it sublime.  I remember during the 80's,  along came that cute cliche that "real men ate quiche".  It was a great statement, but long before that statement, real women ate quiche too and adored it!  I still do.

Thanks for the memories and the great food, Ms. Child.

Here's a link to her recipe for quiche.  I added 3 roma tomatoes, sliced and salted, then patted dry.


Spicy Chicken Thai Soup from Allrecipes ~


I was looking for a soup that had all of those luscious Thai flavors I love, while not having to go out to a Thai restaurant.  I also needed it to be able to be made quickly, after all it was a week night.  This soup filled all of my requirements.  The only thing I changed about it was right at the end of cooking, I added 1 cup leftover cooked basmati rice and 2 cups of fresh, chopped spinach. I made it as an entrée and felt without those doing that, it is more of a soup to serve as an appetizer course.  By the way, this soup is one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day, even though the flavors are spectacular from the start!

I liked steeping the lemongrass, garlic and fresh ginger chunky with chicken stock separately and then straining it into the sautéed chicken, red onion and mushrooms. That way you don't have to chop and mince it, while still maintaining all the integrity of those great flavors.  Makes for an easy dinner on a busy week night.

Here's the link to the recipe on how to make this wonderful soup.


Serve with thinly sliced jalapeno peppers and cilantro, if you like a little extra heat like me.