Lemon Mashed Potatoes

When I was a kid, my mom used to make lemon potatoes. She would cut and par-boil her potatoes and then pour lemon juice over them and add some dried parsley. I decided to alter the recipe a bit and came up with this yummy version of lemon mashed potatoes. It is a great side dish to go along with fish and I like to make them with my halibut cakes. They have a lot of lemon flavor without being too sour.

Lemon Mashed Potatoes

2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes
1 C. Milk
1/4 C. Butter
1/3-1/2 C. Lemon juice
2 tsp. Lemon zest
1 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Chopped fresh parsley (or a little bit of dried parsley)
Pepper to taste 

1. Scrub the potatoes and cut them into chunks. Place in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and continue boiling until tender. 10-20 minutes.
2. Drain the potatoes, add in the butter and milk and mash with a masher until you reach your desired consistency.
3. Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley, salt and pepper.


Serves about 6-8

Fluffy Yogurt Frosting

This is a recipe that my mom used to make. It is just whipped cream with yogurt folded in. It is a light alternative to heavy frosting recipes. However, it is a pretty soft consistency and is best suited for sheet cakes or 9×13 baked cakes. You can change the flavor of the frosting by using different yogurt flavors and I like to garnish the cake with fresh fruit that corresponds with the yogurt I use.

1 pint of heavy whipping cream (2 Cups)
1/4-1/2 C. powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
1 or 2 containers (6-12oz.) of yogurt (flavor of your choice)

In a stand mixer of with a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream with the powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.
Fold in the yogurt.
Spread on your cake and garnish with fresh fruit. (refrigerate the leftovers-including the frosted cake)

Play Dough

2 C. Flour
1 C. Table Salt
2 Tbsp. Cream of Tartar
2 Tbsp. oil
2 C. water

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pot. Cook and stir over medium heat til it comes together and clears the sides of the pot. It will get tough to stir. Remove from heat, knead the play dough and add food coloring or essential oils for colored/scented dough. Mix til smooth.

Store cooled play dough in a ziploc bag. It should last for several weeks or a couple months.

Chicken Satay and Thai Peanut Sauce

For this post, you get two recipes in one! The chicken satay recipe came from here. And the most amazing Thai Peanut Sauce recipe came from here.

Thai Chicken Satay:

2 normal to large sized chicken breasts
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 wooden skewers
1. Soak the skewers in water while prepping your chicken and sauce. This will help keep the skewers from burning when you place them on the grill. 

2. Cut the chicken into thin slices. 

3. Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl, add the chicken and massage. The chicken does not need to marinate in the sauce for very long, in fact only a few minutes. Place the chicken on skewers and drop them on the grill at medium heat. Flip the skewer just before you start to see grill marks on the chicken. This makes for the perfect “doneness” without drying it out. 
This marinade also goes great with shrimp! 
For the Thai Peanut Sauce:

One 13.5-ounce can of full-fat, unsweetened coconut milk
2 ounces (approximately ¼ cup) of Thai red or Massaman curry paste
¾ cup unsweetened (natural) creamy peanut butter (Do not use regular peanut butter or anything with added emulsifiers. I get mine fresh ground in the bulk section at Winco.)
½ tablespoon salt
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar (Do not use white wine, red wine, balsamic, or anything else — not even rice vinegar)
½ cup water
Put everything into a medium heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a very gentle boil over medium heat, whisking constantly.
Let the mixture simmer for 3-5 minutes over low heat; be careful not to let the mixture scorch at the bottom of the pot.
Take the pot off the heat, let the sauce cool down to room temperature (or slightly warmer), and serve the sauce with satay or fried tofu.
This peanut sauce keeps in a glass container in the refrigerator for weeks. Refrigerated sauce will thicken up considerably. All you have to do is thin it out with a little bit of water to desired consistency, reheat, and serve. The sauce also freezes beautifully.


Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts get a bad wrap, but if cooked right, they are delicious. This is a simply sauteed then slightly steamed recipe to get some good carmelization and still cook them through.

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

1 lb. Brussels Sprouts, washed and cut in half
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
S and P to taste
1/2 C. water

In a large saute pan with a tight fitting lid, heat up olive oil and butter over med/high heat. Add cleaned Brussels sprouts. Flip them so the cut side is down. Sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Saute in olive oil and butter til cut side is golden brown, just a few minutes. Stir the Brussels sprouts around, then add water to the pan and cover with the lid. Continue cooking (add more water if needed) until sprouts are tender crisp, about 10 minutes or so. Remove lid and let excess water evaporate. Remove from pan, add more S and P if needed, serve.

Baked Spinach-Artichoke Dip

This may not look like much, but it is so yummy. It’s from a Betty Crocker quick and easy cookbook that I have. I have been making it for years and it is always a hit. 
1 C. mayonnaise
1 C. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
1 package (10 oz.) spinach
1/2 C. chopped red bell pepper
1/4 C. shredded mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese
 Toasted baguette slices or assorted crackers (I slice my baguette in half lengthwise, spread with a bit of butter and toast in the oven til just golden on the edges. then I cut it into triangles or simple slices.)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. 
Cook spinach by microwaving in a microwave safe bowl with a touch of water until fully wilted, or by steaming in a pot until wilted. Let cool slightly, then squeeze to drain and roughly chop. 
Meanwhile, combine, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, artichokes, bell peppers in a bowl. Add the chopped spinach. Mix til fully combined.
Place mixture into a baking dish (I use my deep pie dish) and sprinkle with the mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese. 
Cover and bake about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve warm with baguette slices or crackers.

Mushroom Marsala Risotto

I found this recipe a couple years ago. It takes some time (like most Risottos) and is a labor of love, but it is so very very worth it! It is absolutely delicious. It is one of my favorite things to eat. I normally double the recipe too.

Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side dish.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 cup Arborio rice
1 cup Marsala wine, divided
3-4 cups low-sodium broth (chicken or vegetable)
2 cups cremini or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano (I used a lovely grana padano cheese)
2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced (additional whole leaves for garnish, if desired)
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large heavy-bottomed skillet or saute pan over medium heat until foaming subsides.

Add shallots and saute until soft, 2-3 minutes.

Add garlic, tomato paste, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and stir to combine. Cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a separate medium saucepan until simmering.
Add the Arborio rice to the skillet and toast until opaque around the edges, 3-5 minutes.

Add 3/4 cup of the Marsala wine and cook, stirring often, until absorbed, approximately 5 minutes.

Stir in 1 cup of the broth, and stir occasionally until almost absorbed, 8-12 minutes.

Working 1 ladle of broth at at time, continue to add broth, stirring constantly.  Add the next ladle when the broth is almost completely absorbed.

After you have been cooking the risotto for 10 minutes, stir in the mushrooms.  Continue to cook risotto, stirring constantly, until it is al dente, a total of 20-25 minutes.

Remove from heat, and stir in remaining 1/4 cup of Marsala wine, Parmigiano-Reggiano (or Grana Padano) cheese, basil, and remaining 1 tablespoon butter.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste, if necessary.

Garnish with basil leaves.  Serve immediately.


Sausage and Asiago Stuffed Mushrooms

I have always wanted to make stuffed mushrooms. I have had them at parties before, but had never made them up until the other day. I briefly looked online at a few different recipes and then came up with my own recipe on the day I made them. I love Asiago cheese and it lends a different flavor than Parmesan. The mushroom stems are sauteed with shallots and some herbs and then added to a mixture of cream cheese and cooked sausage. They are rich and flavorful and were a huge hit with my family.

20 large cemini (baby bella) mushrooms. You can use button mushrooms if you want.
8 oz. (1/2 package) sausage.
4 oz. cream cheese- softened
1/3 C. grated Asiago cheese
1/4 C. panko bread crumbs. Plus extra for sprinkling on top.
1 medium shallot-diced
mushroom stems chopped (rough end removed)
1/4 tsp. rubbed sage
1/4 tsp. thyme
S and P to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a saute pan, brown the sausage.

Meanwhile, wash the mushrooms and remove the stems. Cut off the rough end of the stem and chop the stems. Set aside. Place the mushroom caps in a 9×13 baking dish.

When sausage is done, remove from pan and drain on a plate lined with paper towel.

In the sausage drippings, add the chopped mushroom stems and diced shallot. Sprinkle with a little salt and fresh ground pepper. Add the sage and thyme. Cook til the mushrooms have shrunk down a little bit and shallots are soft.

In a mixing bowl, add the cream cheese, drained sausage, asiago cheese, panko crumbs, and mushroom stem mixture. Mix til blended.

Fill each mushroom cap with a heaping amount of the filling. Sprinkle each mushroom with a bit of panko bread crumbs, drizzle a little olive oil over the top the mushrooms and bake for about 20-30 minutes.

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

How can you go wrong with something wrapped in bacon? I got the recipe for these little gems from a friend in Florida. You have crunchy little water chestnuts wrapped in smokey bacon with a simple tangy, sweet sauce. A perfect little appetizer.

1 pkg. bacon
2 small cans water chestnuts
1/4 C. Mayonnaise
1/4 C. Chili sauce
1/4 C. Brown sugar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Cut the package of bacon into thirds. Drain the water chestnuts. Take a piece of bacon and wrap it around a water chestnut. Place seam side down on a large baking sheet. Continue process until all water chestnuts are wrapped up.

Place baking sheet in oven, bake for 15-30 minutes, depending on how well done you like your bacon.

Once the bacon is cooked to your liking, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Then remove the water chestnuts from the baking sheet and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

Make your sauce by combining the mayonnaise, chili sauce and brown sugar in a bowl. Whisk til there aren’t any lumps.

Put the water chestnuts in a small baking dish and pour the sauce over top. Place back in the oven to heat the sauce through (you can turn the oven temp down and keep them warm  until ready to serve.)

Serve and enjoy!

Note: I used just one baking sheet for this recipe, but the bacon shrunk down quite a bit and the yield was not very high. I would recommend doubling the recipe if going to a party or something.

Bistro Chicken Twist

This recipe comes from a good ol’ Pampered Chef recipe book. I have been making it for years and used to make it for my family on Christmas Eve before we decorated Christmas cookies.

1 C. Chopped cooked chicken
1/2 C. diced red bell pepper
1/4 C. snipped fresh basil leaves
1/4 C. grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 C. mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 packages (11 ounces each) refrigerated French bread dough-I use frozen bread dough, thawed.

1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 Tbsp Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a bowl, combine chicken, bell pepper, basil, 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, mayonnaise and garlic. Mix well.

Place bread dough on a greased cookie sheet. With a knife, cut each loaf length wise, end to end, halfway through. Then, use your hands to spread the dough about a bit.

Spoon half the chicken mixture into each of the two loaves. Gather up the edges over the filling, pinching to seal. Turn the two loaves over so the seam sides are down.

With the two loaves next to one another, crisscross them together. Leave a 1 1/2 inch space between the two loaves in the centers of the figure eights that you created.

Combine the egg white and the Italian seasoning. Brush over the top of the twist. Cut a small slit in the tops of the twist to expose the filling. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool for 10 minutes.
Slice and serve.