Category Archives: Recipes

Chocolate-on-the-Face Mousse…Guaranteed to Please

chocolate-on-the-faceWhen our kids were little, we had a secret password. Whenever someone knocked on our bedroom door, Alan would call out, “What’s the password?” If the child answered, “Chocolate on the face,” Alan would tell them they could come in, on the theory that any kid with chocolate on his (or her) face probably belonged to us.enjoying-chocolate-mousse                     Now we’re on to our next generation of chocolate lovers! baby-eating-chocolate-mousseI know I should be passing along healthy recipes for  things that are super nutritious, but given that last Tuesday was Valentine’s Day and today is Alan and my 44th anniversary, I thought it might not be too off side to share my favorite recipe for chocolate mousse, which is actually fairly healthy as far as desserts go, not to mention so elegant that people think it’s difficult to make (although it’s not, at least not the way I do it), and so delicious that kids will definitely end up with chocolate on their faces!

creamy-chocolate-mousseChocolate-on-the-Face Mousse

Boil 1/4 cup white sugar in 1/2 cup water until sugar has dissolved into syrup

Add 18 oz. chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate, but dark works well too),
1 stick of butter
, and a pinch of salt. Heat and stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

Beat 4 eggs (yes, I use the whites and the yolks) with an electric mixer until frothy, then add  1 cup heavy whipping cream and whip until soft peaks form.

Slowly add the hot chocolate syrup in a small stream to the whipped mixture, continuing to whip everything together until it’s of one gloriously frothy, consistent texture. Immediately spoon into individual serving dishes and chill thoroughly. You can garnish with more whipping cream and shaved chocolate or fruit, but it’s pretty yummy just by itself! Also, this can be divided into 6-8 servings, depending on how much room you think people will have for dessert.

Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.
(Psalm 145:16, speaking of God)

World’s Best (Only) Cheeseburger Meatloaf: And, You Can Eat It with One Hand Tied Behind Your Back!

kathi-and-alan-eating-cheeseburgers-in-paradise-lahaina-maui-hawaiiI love eating juicy cheeseburgers with all the trimmings, don’t you?  cheeseburger-in-paradise-lahaina-mauiHowever, sometimes they’re too big to eat, even with both hands.  tray-of-cheeseburgers-at-cheeseburger-in-paradise-lahaina-maui-hawaiiSometimes they’re even hard to carry, like this platter of specialty burgers…waiter-with-triple-cheeseburger-in-paradis-mauior this triple-decker monster they serve at Cheeseburger in Paradise on Maui. I’m certain I’d be sick if I ate their 1.5-pound glutton-stuffer, wouldn’t you?  huge-hamburger-africaOr, how about this amazing burger Alan and I ate (shared) in South Africa?

cheeseburger-in-paradise-bar-and-grill-lahaina-mauiAnyway, much as Alan and I love burgers, I’m always in pursuit of fewer calories per dining pleasure, and an extra 200+ calories for a big deli-style onion bun is something I’m willing to forego when we’re at home. Still, how do you eat a cheeseburger with all the good stuff and no bun? It was in that mindset that I developed my personalized recipe for one of the best meatloaves you’ll ever eat!

Your Favorite Cheeseburger Meatloaf:
(serves 4)

hamburger-and-egg1 pound ground burger
1 egg
1 cup bread crumbs (which you can leave out if you don’t mind the meatloaf crumbling a bit when you serve it; I leave them out, because I don’t mind). cheesburger-meatloaf-adding-veggiesNext, add everything you love to put on top of your burger (except lettuce)…like:
Pickles, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, tomato, pineapple…get creative, it’s your meatloaf!cheesburger-meatloaf-adding-condimentsAdd all your favorite condiments…no need to go easy, because they won’t be dripping down your arms! Relish, mustard, ketchup…?mayonnaise? etc?cheeseburger-meatloaf-adding-cheese-and-spicesMix thoroughly and then add a generous amount of salt, pepper, and your favorite seasonings. Top with your favorite cheese (or else whatever cheese you have around the house).cheeseburger-meatloaf-extra-ketchupMound into a pan and add more ketchup (if you like ketchup as much as we do),cheesburger-meatloaf-adding-cheese-on-topthen cap with an ample supply of cheese (if you like cheese as much as we do). cheesburger-meatloaf-after-bakingPop it in the oven for an hour at 350° (done when golden brown on top). Enjoy!

cheeseburger-meatloaf-1Actually, if you don’t have an hour to bake it as a meatloaf,
you can do the same thing in your frying pan cheeseburger-meatloaf-3and have it cooked in no longer than it would take
to grill the veggies and burgers.
You get all the flavor and save enough calories for dessert! (Did I say that??)

cheesburger-meatloaf-served-with-sidesFurthermore, you can eat it with just a fork and one hand tied behind your back. See?  What’d I tell you? No more embarrassing dates where you end up with ketchup on your nose and mustard juice running down your arm staining your new outfit! (Of course, you might still have an issue with the corn on the cob…)

I will praise the name of God with a song,
and will magnify him with thanksgiving
” (Psalm 69:30).

An Avocado Boat of Ideas, Especially Fantastic Guacamole with an Orange Twist

avocadosAvocados (also known as “alligator pears” because of their rough, green skin and elongated shape) have won their way up from southern Mexico to America, where their consumption rate has more than tripled in the last 15 years! salad-pine-nuts-guacamoleAlthough technically a fruit (and they are used in fruit smoothies and as flavored milkshakes in some countries), their most common use in America and Mexico is in guacamole, used as a dip with tortilla chips or as a flavorful topping on various dishes. Because of their high fat content, avocados are sometimes used as a meat replacement in vegetarian dishes, although they are not high in protein. (They are high in fiber, however: Half an avocado is about 130 calories and will provide 20% of your daily fiber need.) tossed-salad-with-avocadoAvocados are also used as a garnish, eaten plain as a healthy snack (way better for you than a doughnut!), and are a common additive in vegetable salads, where they are especially useful in providing necessary oil for proper vitamin absorption. If you’re not familiar with avocados, please try them! fruit-bowlChoose firm, green ones with no dents or dark spots but are the least bit giving if you touch them. Keep them on the counter until they are slightly soft (not dark), and then use them immediately or store them in the refrigerator (Ideally, no more than a week). avocado-pit-being-removedTo use, cut lengthwise, and then take the pit out by stabbing with a knife and twisting gently. The California Avocado Commission recommends the “nick and peel” method of slicing the avocado into length-wise, quarter-inch slices and peeling like a banana. avoocado-sliced-in-halfI prefer to use a spoon and scrape off the entire inside lining, which is richest in carotenoid antioxidants. (However, this doesn’t produce the best looking bites, so if you want fresh slices, use the CAC’s method). discoloration-of-avocado-exposed-to-airAvocado does discolor quickly when exposed to air, so either serve it immediately after cutting or protect it with a little citrus juice and plastic wrap. (The first time this happened to me, I thought I must have cut my finger…)avocado-boat-with-ahi-tunaOne clever, simple entrée is to fill half an avocado with shredded meat (chicken breast, tuna, etc.). ahi-tuna-and-avocado-boatI also enjoy them as a simple side dish, known as an avocado boat (best by far with salt and lime juice). Just for the record (studies funded by avocado growers, of course), it’s been found that people who eat avocados tend to be healthier and have less heart disease. (I sometimes wonder if such studies are confounded by the economic status/social class of those studied, as avocados aren’t exactly cheap. [I always wait and buy them on sale.])

At any rate, I want to pass along my all-time favorite recipe for guacamole. Alan and I first fell in love with guacamole when it was made table-side at a little Mexican restaurant along San Antonio’s River Walk, and then we fell in love again in San Diego’s Gaslamp District last year. However, once when we were out of limes, my son Joel altered my recipe (gathered from watching these “bests” being made), and I think his is actually better than the best!

Fantastic Guacamole with an Orange Twist

guacamole-01-17-171 entire orange, peeled and cubed (this is the difference; everybody else uses fresh, squeezed lime juice, which ends up with a thicker guacamole but doesn’t taste as amazing) garlic-cloves1 cup cherry tomatoes cubed
2 garlic cloves peeled and pressed (worth the bother, so don’t substitute garlic powder unless you can’t afford fresh, although you can substitute both garlic and onion powder as needed)
guacamole-with-orange-garlilc-onion-and-tomato1 onion finely chopped
2 avocados peeled and well mashed
Salt (preferably coarse-ground seasalt) and pepper to taste (start light and add)avocado-into-guacamoleThe result is so flavorful that I could eat a bowl for lunch (and have been known to do so). However you serve them, though, I hope you enjoy avocados!

 “Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.” (Daniel 1:11-16) (I’m not a vegetarian, but I do believe in the high value of a largely vegetable and fruit diet with less meat, diary, and grain products.)

P.S.—Although I sometimes add avocado to omelets (just enough to heat through at the end), I’ve read that cooking avocados not only destroys the vitamins but can actually be toxic for some people. Also, guacamole can be frozen, but slices don’t freeze well, so enjoy them fresh!

P.S.S.—Got a favorite way of using avocados? Please share with us!

Any Stuffed Pepper Lovers Out There?

lunch-meal-with-veggiesOne of the things I’ve noticed is that many young adults have never really learned to love cooking. Home economics classes are no longer routinely considered part of a well-rounded education, even in junior high, and unless your mothers were engaging culinary mentors or your father was a professional chef with a penchant for education, then you might not have learned the basics of cooking or discovered just how much fun it is to experiment with food. egg-salad-sandwiches-and-sconesI started baking at three (cookies for my sweet tooth) and by ten was in charge of making dinner Monday through Friday because my mom taught school and I got home first. However, I didn’t fully appreciate the significance of cooking until I got married and noticed that Alan didn’t really like to leave home in the morning without knowing what he could look forward to for dinner that night! salad-with-fresh-fruitIt made me laugh, but I started planning ahead, and I eventually enjoyed the challenge of trying to be creative on a low income and would work out menus based on whatever was on sale at the store that week. stuffed-peppersOne of the cheapest meats was hamburger  (although it’s gotten pretty pricey lately). In the course of trying to find 101 ways to use hamburger, I discovered stuffed peppers. They’re basically big meatballs stuffed inside bell peppers. Here’s how:meatball-mixCombine 1 pound hamburger, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 2 eggs, 1 t. (teaspoon) Montreal Steak seasoning, 1/3 c. (cup) ketchup, 1/2 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper. stuffing-peppersMix thoroughly and divide into four portions.  Wash four peppers,
cut off the tops and clean out the seeds from inside. caps-back-on-stuffed-peppers        Stuff the peppers with the hamburger mix and put the tops back on. baked-stuffed-peppers            Add 1/3 c. water. Bake in a  covered dish for 1.5 hours at 350°F.  fresh-vegetable-salad                        Stuffed peppers go really well paired with a fresh tossed salad!

 The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season.” Psalm 145:14-15

 

High Teas and Birthday Parties: Killing Three Birds with One Party

high-tea               Well, hopefully we didn’t really kill any birds, bees, or bodies, quichebut we really did have fun last week with our annual high tea, and I wanted to share recipes for a couple of high tea staples: cucumber sandwiches and scones. lettuce-wraps      But first, the story, since if there’s anything I love, it’s to repeat a good tale! candle-in-a-tea-cupAfter meeting for several years to spoil each other on our birthdays, Cindi, Susan, and I started feeling a bit guilty for not including our spouses somehow,birthday-cake-flourless-chocolate-torte since they were always working hard to make it possible for us to be “at home” moms who could celebrate birthdays together (now that our kids are grown up).birthday-cakeSo, we started the tradition of a winter high tea (given that the way to a husband’s heart is half through his stomach). birthday-partyRex and Steve’s birthdays are exactly one week apart, so it’s pretty easy to celebrate both their birthdays by scheduling the tea on the weekend in between! korean-beef-kabobsWe each bring two savory and two sweet offerings, drink many cups of tea, savor the sweetness of a leisurely evening together, and go home feeling quite happy. sesame-seedWhen I was a young bride, one of my mentors said her theory on marital contentment was, “Keep him jolly from a little too much eating and groggy from a little too much lovin’.” sharing-a-high-tea-together     In forty-three years, I haven’t found a reason to dispute her wisdom!  🙂

Here’s my recipe for cucumber sandwiches, which I’ve eaten at every high tea from the great Northwest’s Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC, to the Southeast’s Garden View Tea Room at the Grand Floridian in Disney…to London’s Harrod and on many a Princess cruise sailing in the deep blue seas of the world. If you’re going to have an authentic high tea, you really need cucumber sandwiches, and they’re about the easiest thing in the world to make!

cucumber-finger-sandwichesCucumber Finger Sandwiches

1 cucumber sliced very (key word) thin, preferably in a processor. I learned this secret from someone married to an Englishman: Press the cucumber slices gently between paper towels to remove the excess juice.

8  oz. well softened creamed cheese. Stir together gently (not in a food processor).

truffle-saltFlavor with a pinch each of truffle salt (okay, sea salt or table salt works too), pepper, garlic and onion powder (powder, not salt; be careful not to oversalt), basil, dill weed, and chives. Chill.

To serve, slice the crusts off plain white bread and prepare them, but don’t fill the sandwiches until the very last minute, because they’ll get soggy in no time if they sit around. Make up your sandwiches and cut them in half  just when you’re ready to serve them.

gluten-free-blueberry-sconesGluten-free Blueberry Scones

Scones with clotted cream and jams are another classic staple of high teas. Susan needs gluten-free options, so I made these with gluten-free flour, but you can make them exactly the same way using regular flour:

gluten-free-bisquick2 cups Bisquick (gluten-free or regular)
1/2 c. (1 stick) softened butter
3 eggs
1 T. milk

Blend in a mixer only until all the ingredients are mixed. Don’t overblend, or it will make them tough. Add 1 pint blueberries, stirring them in very gently by hand with a spoon. The mix will hardly stick to the blueberries, but it needs to be coarse or the scones will be too wet when they bake. Form into 12 balls (flour your hands if you need to) on a cookie sheet. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 350° for 20 minutes. Turn up the heat to 400° for 5 minutes or until just starting to turn a golden brown.  Serve warm with whipped cream and jams. (The classic term is “clotted” cream, but I make mine “clotted” by whipping it until it’s almost stiff…but not yet butter, and I add 1 T. sugar per cup of cream, but I’m a sugar hawk. You don’t have to do that.)

plate-of-finger-foods-at-high-teaThere is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.” (Ecclesiastes 2:24)salami-and-pepper-roll-ups

 

Yummy Cheese Fondue for a Cold Winter’s Night

cheese-fondueBack in the Days of Hippiedom, when Alan and I were first married (long before the bride and groom registered for gifts at Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond), we received fondue pots from two different wedding guests! (That’s just to let you know how popular fondues were in the dark ages.) As a matter of fact, we were delighted, because we had one pot for cheese and another pot for chocolate, so both the main dish and dessert were dreamy, creamy, and always a hit with company (even it the company was just the two of us). Somewhere amidst the madhouse moments of rearing our big brood, having nine hungry hippos stabbing bites of food with long, sharp forks and jockeying for space around rather small and possible-to-knock-over pots poised above candles lost its romantic charm, and the pots got stored in the basement where they gathered dust for many years. table-set-for-cheese-fondueHowever, on a cold winter’s night over the Christmas holidays, I dug out the pots and decided it was high time to restore this candlelit tradition to our now civil home of high society twenty-something sons and ourselves. Fondues had not lost their charm, and so another generation is enjoying the ambience of slow and measured culinary delight.

If you’re interested in having your own fondue for dinner, you don’t really need a fondue pot with a candle underneath (although it helps). You can set any small pot on top of any incense burner that houses a candle underneath, or you can make your fondue in a double boiler (like I do), and just leave both the pot and the pan of boiling water underneath it sitting on a hot plate. Or, you can set them on a  wooden block on the table, and it will still  keep warm for a good 10-15 minutes (and can be rewarmed as needed).

A basic recipe for fondue is:

1 cup white grape juice in a pan on your stove. Bring to a simmer and add:
1/2 pound shredded Gruyere cheese
1/2 pound shredded Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons flour (or thicken to taste)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt (I use Lawry’s, but use whatever you have and like)
1/4 teaspoon ground white (or black) pepper

Stir until all the ingredients are melted and uniformly smooth. If you don’t want to spend the money on Gruyere or don’t like the taste, you can use mozzarella, Parmesan, cheddar, pepper jack, or any other type of cheese you love, including cream cheese. Just remember, it’s your pot and your taste! Many people use one cup of cooking wine rather than juice, but I don’t actually like the smell or taste of wine, so I use white grape juice, which works great.

Ideas for what to dip (all cut in approximately one-inch cubes or chunks):bite-sized-veggies-bread-and-meat-for-cheese-fondueFresh bread cut into one-inch cubes (the classic “must”)
Steak cut into one-inch cubes and sauteed lightly with seasonings
Veggies: grape tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, cauliflower, (anything you like as a
finger food)
Fruits: Apple, pear, grapes, raspberries, (anything you like as a finger food)
Weird but fun things to try: pickles, chips, marshmallows, olives, pickled veggies  Cheese Fondue                      The most important things are to eat well and have fun!

But he [Jesus] answered, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God
“‘ (Matthew 4:4).

 

Homemade Chocolate Turtles: Even better than See’s!

chocate-turtlesI was roaming the airport in Atlanta restlessly, waiting to catch a flight to GR…cramped legs, bleary-eyed, and brain dead. We’d just survived a sixteen-hour, 40-minute flight from Johannesburg, which Alan and I figured must be in the running for the world’s longest commercial flight, and the thought of enduring two more hours in the airport was…discouraging to say the least. Just when I was thinking that eating breakfast might help,what to my wondering eyes should appear but a See’s candy shop! See’s Candies just happen to produce our favorite chocolates, but they’re based in San Fransisco and have precious few factories anywhere east of Spokane, Washington (yes…just a few miles from our son Jonathan’s home!). See’s used to be available in most major U.S. airports, but in recent years they’ve all but disappeared from airport retails. My eyes lit up, and I thought how pleased Alan would be at my discovery. I sidled up to the counter and asked how much it would cost for a box of turtles (Alan’s favorite).  I’m pretty sure the lady said thirty dollars. I smiled sweetly and left. I have too much Scottish blood to pay out that kind of ransom for anything less than the lifeblood of a loved one. However, I decided that no matter what else I did or didn’t make for Christmas this year, I was going to make chocolate turtles…more for less! If you love chocolate turtles as much as our family does, then you might enjoy trying our recipe, which is easy and pound for pound (this recipe makes about 3 pounds) costs about one-sixteenth what you might pay at a candy shop (at least an airport candy shop…)   caramelsUnwrap 1 pound of caramels. (I like Kraft, but I’ll bet there are lots of good ones out there. However, the quality of the caramel and chocolate make a big difference in the final taste, so make sure you choose flavors you really like.)  melted-caramels-and-pecansAdd 1/4 c. half’n’half and 2 T. butter. Microwave for 1.5 minutes. Stir until completely melted and smooth. While this is heating in the microwave, take time to line two large cookie sheets with waxed paper or butter them heavily.

Add to the caramels 1 pound of roasted, salted pecans (halved, although chopped also works). Stir thoroughly.  turtle-mix-ready-to-spoon-out                            Cool until the mix is starting to form soft balls. caramel-turtle-candiesWorking quickly, drop the mix in rounded teaspoons onto the waxed paper. Chill until very cold. (Overnight in the refrigerator isn’t too long.)  chocolate-chips-and-coconut-oilCombine 1 pound of chocolate chips (milk chocolate, semi sweet, or dark, depending on your taste) with 2 T. coconut oil in a narrow, deep bowl and microwave for 1 minutes. melted-chocolate-chips-and-oil                      Stir until completely melted and uniformly smooth.  fabulous-chocolate-turtle-candiesDip the turtles into the chocolate using two spoons, and place each candy back on the waxed paper. Chill until the chocolate is firm. Store carefully to retain the sheen. (If you’ve got room in the refrigerator, garage, or cold storage area, that’s ideal.) chocolate-covered-nutsP.S—If you have any leftover chocolate, try stirring in a few of your favorite roasted, salted nuts, such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, or macadamia nuts. Spoon into small cups and let them harden. Enjoy!

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” (Psalm 119:9-11)