Sunday, September 19, 2010

Praline Pecans & Cranberries and More

Today we were reminded of the results that occur when we have made room for God to work through us. The scripture was from 2 Kings 4:8-37: the story of the Shunammite who made a room for Elisha, the man of God.  The results of her kindness-her womb was opened, & she had a son. It was a powerful message. The prophetic word was given to us, "My hand is on you to be one who lives in my presence; to be an example and an illustration to all who walk here."
This afternoon we went to the Astros/Reds game. The 'stros won :) The christian band, Mercy Me had a concert after the game. We had seats very close to the stage for the concert!!!
We have a busy week planned. I know the presence of God goes with me.
I have a food styling event this Wed. It includes about 30 hrs. of preparation. I'll spend Mon. & Tues. shopping & chopping to prepare the demonstration food & samples for 75 consumers. I am so very thankful for this job opportunity. For a little appreciation gift to the client for choosing the consulting firm I work for, I'm making gift bags of "Praline Pecans & Cranberries". I usually make these in the fall. It isn't feeling like autumn here in Houston at the moment, but they are a perfect choice for gift-giving. They are sweet, and crunchy, and the tart cranberries add a burst of color. I've added the recipe below the pictures of our afternoon @ the concert.
Bart Millard

Jim & I @ the Mercy Me concert after the Astros game.

Mercy Me


3 1/2 cups pecan halves
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch pan.
In large mixing bowl, combine pecans and cranberries.  Set aside.  In medium saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup.  Heat to a rolling boil.  Remove from heat.  Add baking soda, caution, mixture will foam up.  Add vanilla and stir.  Pour mixture over pecans and cranberries.  Stir to coat well.  Pour coated pecans into 9” x 13” pan.  Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 – 20 minutes.  Transfer to a large baking sheet that has been covered with heavy duty aluminum foil, spreading pecans evenly with lightly greased spoon.  Cool completely.  Break pecans apart with a wooden spoon.  Store in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Servings: 5 cups


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Ultimate Go-to list

I am an independent consultant for the company, Kitchen Consultants. I had some exciting news today. I'll be shopping & preparing the food for a guest chef's cooking demonstration. I'll also be preparing food, purchasing games, & delivering those to a radio station to promote National Board game day. In addition I met the members of the Fort Bend Pecan/Citrus Growers committee today. I believe this may lead to promotion opportunities. I know my steps are ordered by the Lord & He opens doors in His perfect timing.

Below are helpful hints I refer to constantly, especially the buttermilk substitute.

Sandra Lee’s Basic Pantry List
Adapted from Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade Money Saving Meals

Dinner from the Deli:
Rotisserie chicken:
An average 2-pound cooked chicken yields 3 to 3 ½ cups of meat.
If you’re not going to serve it right away, pull the meat from the bones and refrigerate it in a shallow container. The chicken can be refrigerated for four days or frozen up to four months.
Remove the meat and toss the skin and bones into a simmering pot of packaged broth to make it doubly rich. Freeze in ice cube trays, then store cubes in freezer bags.

Freezer Ease:
Spend a day cooking and freezing meals for delicious thaw-and eat dinners on busy nights. Just transfer soups, stews, chilies, and casseroles to air-tight containers and freeze for up to 3 months.

Stock Your Shelves:
Go-To Pantry
Store flour, sugar, and shortening with sweet spices in one area; savory spices, sauces, and marinades in another. Stack food on risers and in clear, airtight containers so you won’t waste time searching for ingredients.
Keep it cold:
Items like olives, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, and marinated vegetables can be stored in the refrigerator. Add them to salads and omelets for extra flavor. Jarred fruit makes quick snacks.
From the Pantry:
Pasta, rice, couscous, marinara, broth, and salad dressing are all must-haves for every pantry.
Pesto Power:
Basil pesto is the one item every pantry should have. It’s a simple and delicious stir-in for pasta, salads, and sauces. It’s also divine as a spread for crusty bread. Other similar products to keep on hand are olive tapenade, jarred bruschetta, and sun-dried tomato pesto.
Spice it up:
Spice blends are convenient for flavoring soups or sprinkling on meat before cooking.

Think small
Buy good-quality herbs in the smallest containers possible. Date and alphabetize them. Discard after six months.

Pantry shortcuts: copy p. 19
Buttermilk substitute: Measure one teaspoon to one tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice in one cup measuring cup. Add milk to the one-cup line. Stir and allow to sit for a few moments. May also substitute 1 cup sour cream if consistency allows.
Evaporated milk has 60% less water. Swap it for regular milk to make a dish richer and creamier. Powdered milk is a thrifty for cooking-it works exactly the same in recipes.
Group like items together:
Store flour, sugar, and shortening with sweet spices in one area; savory spices, sauces, and marinades in another. Stack food on risers and in clear, airtight containers so you won’t waste time searching for ingredients.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Caesar Salad & Homemade Croutons

My sister asked for my recipe for homemade croutons. I couldn't pass that along without sharing our favorite Caesar salad dressing. I always double the dressing recipe so we have it the following week as well. It doesn't stay fresh for longer than a week in the frig. At our house, it is gone long before that. I made this for a Ladies Night Out @ our church.

Caesar Salad

Prep time: 10 min

1-2 head romaine lettuce, rinsed, dried, torn into bite sized pieces (enough to fill a large salad bowl) One head serves about 8 people. The pre-washed/pre-packaged heads only serve 6 people (in our household, we don't use the ribs, we discard that part)

1 cup crouton, to taste (purchased or homemade, see recipe below); optional


In a food processor, combine the following ingredients until thoroughly blended:

3 garlic cloves

3/4 - 1 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1 lemon

2 1/2 - 3 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 - 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese Salt and pepper to taste

Add to the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to process:

1/4 cup light olive oil

Process until mixture is emulsified (a mixture of one liquid with another that cannot normally be combined smoothly)

Pour some of the dressing over lettuce, as much or as little as you prefer, and toss well to coat leaves with dressing; I tend to use less and have extra to save for another salad later in the week.

Set one clean hand over your salad bowl and squeeze the lemon half over it- letting the juice drip through your fingers, but catching the pits (discard pits).

Grind some black pepper over the salad to taste.

Add Parmesan cheese and stir to coat.

Taste for seasonings, adding a little more salt, pepper, or cheese if desired.

When the seasonings are correct, add the croutons to the top, give a quick stir, and serve immediately.

This does not keep well- if you need to make in advance, prepare the salad dressing alone and then toss everything together just before serving.

SERVES 8 -10


Food Network

Cook Time: 15 min; Level: Easy


Day old French bread

Olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut bread into cubes and place in a large bowl. Drizzle cubes with olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Mix well.

Spread seasoned bread onto a sheet pan and bake for about 15 minutes.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Weekend blessings

Our Sunday service was fantastic. Dr. Bobby Hill was the guest speaker, sharing a sermon about "Praying for the Harvest". Here is the link: http://www.flcf.com/podcasts.html  It was so timely, as Jim & I are trying to pray specifically for our neighborhood. It was the same type of teaching we always heard at Faith Chapel in O'Fallon http://www.faithchapelag.com/index.php God equips us to bring in the harvest, we have been given that authority. We are committed to putting the Word into practice!
Lunch was almost ready when we arrived home from church, thanks to another slow-cooker recipe. I simply placed a chuck roast in the slow-cooker, sprinkled a package of onion soup over it, & cooked it on high for 4 hours. All that was left to do was prepare a salad & some rice.
I'm trying a new recipe tomorrow night from the Texas Beef Council. We love the homemade tortillas available at all the grocery stores.    http://txbeef.org/recipe_book/search/margarita_fajitas

Saturdays to serve

On Saturday Jim & I had the privilege of serving food at our church's Parenting conference. We didn't prepare the food, it was all purchased from Sam's, Subway, & Sweet Tomatoes, http://www.sweettomatoes.com/  I am very thankful our schedule allows us time to help with these events. There are advantages to not being involved in committees & organizations at this point in our lives. We can say yes to serving without feeling worn out or stressed.

Dinner at our house was a quick-fix meal: Taco Chicken from a previous post, served over baked potatoes, with sour cream & chopped green onions for garnish. I think I'll be making this chicken dish at least once-a-month. Anyone know where I can get coupons for Ro-tel tomatoes? I plan to stock up on them. Below is the Taco Seasoning recipe I use from the Taste of Home website. Enjoy!

Taco Seasoning Mix
PREP 10 min.

TOTAL 10 min.


1/4 cup dried minced onion

1/4 cup chili powder

3 tablespoons salt

4 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon dried minced garlic

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules

1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 pound ground beef

1/3 to 1/2 cup water


Combine the first nine ingredients. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 1 year.
Yield: 6-7 batches (about 3/4 cup total).

To prepare tacos: In a skillet, brown beef; drain. Add 2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix and water. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings per batch.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thursdays with my Sister Chicks

Our new semester of bible study began today. I'm taking the Here and Now There and Then study by Beth Moore. Most of by Sister Chicks from the Newcomers class are there. I'm thrilled I'll still get to see them each week. We lunched at Red Oak Grill http://www.redoak-grill.com/home.htm A few of the other classmates came along as well. They have only been in Katy a yr. or 2. It's always fun meeting another newby who is planting roots in our new community.
Dinner was an old stand-by, northern beans, seasoned & cooked until they're mushy. I always make enough for leftovers. We think they taste better the 2nd day. I purchased some rustic artisan bread from a gourmet bakery. I had gotten this last June for a food styling event, & have wanted to try it for myself ever since. They did not disappoint. It was delicious.
Jim & I are setting up & serving at our church's parent conference this weekend. There are plenty of leftovers from this week's meals for lunches & dinners on the run.
Northern Beans
Rinse & sort beans in a large pot. For 2 cups beans, add 8 cups hot water. Bring to a rapid boil, boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover 7 let stand 1 hour. Drain soak water & rinse beans.
Add 6 cups of hot water to drained & rinsed beans. Add 2 strips cooked bacon; half of a medium onion, quartered, 1 teaspoon garlic. Season with salt & pepper.
Simmer gently with lid tilted until desired tenderness is reached, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Serve with cornbread (or the delicious artisan bread I got from the bakery)
I made fresh salsa for snacking this weekend. I've determined I'll only eat fresh salsa from now on. None of that cooked salsa for me!
1 small tomato, finely chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 to one whole fresh jalapeno, finely diced (ours were from our garden)
2 tablespoons cilantro, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Salt & pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients and chill for at least 1 hour. You can combine ingredients in a blender or food processor for a smoother consistency.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Basic Waffle Recipe

This is the recipe I follow somewhat for whipping up a large batch of waffles. I freeze the extras to keep on hand for breakfasts or snacks throughout the week. If your family doesn't have time for breakfast together in the morning, try making these for dinner. Scramble a dozen eggs and sprinkle them with your favorite cheese. My friend calls this meal "brinner". No problem, just as long as you call me :)

Basic Waffle Recipe

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2005

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Inactive Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: approximately 6 (8-inch round) waffles

4 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 1 cup

4 3/4 ounces whole-wheat flour, approximately 1 cup

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons sugar

3 whole eggs, separated

2 ounces unsalted butter, melted

16 ounces buttermilk, room temperature *see note below

Vegetable spray, for waffle iron

Preheat waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In another bowl beat together egg yolks and melted butter, and then add the buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold into the batter. Do not over beat.

Ladle the recommended amount of waffle batter onto the iron according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Close iron top and cook until the waffle is golden on both sides and is easily removed from iron. Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree F oven until ready to serve.

*Buttermilk substitute: Measure one teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice in one cup measuring cup. Add milk to the one-cup line. Stir and allow to sit for a few moments.

Basic egg preparations:

Taco Chicken

Wed. has long been a favorite day of mine. For many years I had the privilege of attending a bible study in St. Peters, MO on Wed. mornings. In our final year in St. Peters, our home church, Faith Chapel, http://www.faithchapelag.com/index.php began a prayer & worship time, mid-day each Wed. It became the highlight of my week. Now that we are here in Houston, TX, I have been able to set aside a worship time each Wed. Today the line from a Kari Jobe http://karijobe.com/index.php worship song keeps running through my head, "No sweeter name than the name of Jesus, no sweeter name have I ever known" I long for God's kingdom to be fulfilled in & through me.
On the practical side of day to day life, I am continuing to choose dinner menus from items already in the freezer/pantry. Today I'm following a simple slow cooker recipe from one of my "Sister Chicks".
Taco Chicken
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can Rotel tomatoes
I packet taco seasoning
In bottom of slow cooker, stir tomatoes & seasonings. Add chicken  breasts. Cook on low for 6 hours. Shred chicken & serve on nachos, use for tacos, or baked potatoes. It's a versatile dish. I'll try to make Mexican rice again. I definitely need more practice with that one, and of course we'll have tortilla chips on the side.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kraft Red Velvet Cupcakes

Yesterday evening we invited the new neighbors over for dessert & coffee. We made the recipe below, however we took the short-cut & made it in a 9"x13" pan. We have previously made it as cupcakes. They make a dramatic presentation. I hope you will try these easy sweet treats.

Kraft Red Velvet Cupcakes                                                                

prep time 15 min
total time 1 hr 10 min
makes 24 servings

1 pkg. (2-layer size) red velvet cake mix

1 pkg. (3.9 oz.) JELL-O Chocolate Instant Pudding

1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened

1 pkg. (16 oz.) powdered sugar (about 4 cups)

1 cup thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping

1 square BAKER'S White Chocolate, shaved into curls

PREPARE cake batter and bake as directed on package for 24 cupcakes, blending dry pudding mix into batter before spooning into prepared muffin cups. Cool.

MEANWHILE, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Gradually beat in sugar. Whisk in COOL WHIP. Spoon 1-1/2 cups into small freezer-weight resealable plastic bag; seal bag. Cut small corner off bottom of bag. Insert tip of bag into top of each cupcake to pipe about 1 Tbsp. frosting into center of cupcake.

FROST cupcakes with remaining frosting. Top with chocolate curls. Keep refrigerated.

*If baking in 9”x13” pan, bake for 28-32 minutes.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

grilled pizza

A rustic grilled pizza for a taste of Tuscany.
Pizza Crust
3 cups all-purpose flour

1 envelope fast-rising dry yeast

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup very warm water (115 degrees to 120 degrees F)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons cornmeal, for pan

Position oven rack in lowest position. Heat oven to 450 degrees F.

Mix flour, yeast, sugar and salt in bowl. Stir in very warm water and olive oil until dough forms. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead 10 minutes. Cover; let rest 20 minutes.

Sprinkle pizza pan (15 3/4-inch) with cornmeal. Pat dough over pan, stretching and shaping to make 1/2-inch high rim around edge.

Bake pizza on bottom rack for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through and crust is golden brown.

I baked it directly on the grill, heated to 400˚. It began baking/crisping up right away. I baked it about 5-7 min. on each side. When baked through, I removed the crust from grill, loaded it with the family’s favorite toppings, & placed it back on the grill just long enough to melt the cheese.

Seasoned Tomato Sauce:

1/2 cup no-salt-added tomato sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning

Combine tomato sauce, garlic and Italian seasoning in small bowl.

Homemade sauce & lots of mozzerella cheese.
The imperfect shape didn't keep us from devouring it.

The finale!

The crust-grilled to perfection. Veggies roasting for our pizza.

Pasta Con Broccoli

Theresa made one of our family's favorite pasta dishes for lunch today. We added a bit of cooked bacon, finely chopped. It's part of my EXTREME effort to choose meals from ingredients we already have in the pantry.

Pasta Con Broccoli

A creamy, buttery tomato sauce, flavored with garlic and loaded with broccoli, is tossed with cooked noodles and gently simmered. Fresh sliced mushrooms and Parmesan cheese complete the dish."


4 ounces dry fettuccine pasta

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons butter

1 ounce tomato sauce

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic 1/2 cup broccoli florets

1/4 cup fresh sliced mushrooms

salt to taste

ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


1. Cook fettuccine in a large pot of boiling salted water until "almost" done. Drain, and return noodles to pot.

2. Stir cream, butter or margarine, tomato sauce, garlic, and broccoli into the noodles. Simmer until noodles are done. Stir in sliced mushrooms, and remove from heat. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Servings: 2

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Buffalo Horns

Buffalo Horns
¼ cup cooked chicken, chopped

Buffalo wing sauce, enough to cover the chopped chicken plus 1 ½ tablespoons

6 hard cooked eggs, peeled, cut in half, and yolks removed

¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened

3 tablespoon sour cream

½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1 teaspoon chopped celery, plus more for garnish

Salt and black pepper to taste

1. Place the chicken in small bowl and pour in enough Buffalo wing sauce to cover; let sit for at least 5 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, mash yolks. Add the butter and sour cream; mix thoroughly. Stir in the Tabasco and celery. Lift the chicken from the wing sauce and drain slightly. Add chicken to the yolk mixture, along with the remaining 5 teaspoons Buffalo wing sauce. Taste, then season with salt and lots of pepper.

3. Fill the whites evenly with the yolk mixture; garnish each egg half with some chopped celery. Refrigerate at least 15 to 20 minutes before serving to let the flavors develop.

Makes 12
Egg information: www.incredibleegg.org
This recipe is courtesy of Deviled Eggs by Debbie Moose

This is the video from Great Day St. Louis when I prepared these picnic treats. You will have to fast forward through the interview of the previous guest-the cooking segment is about half way through.


Spinach Egg Quiche

Spinach Egg Quiche


6 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
½ teaspoon Herbes de Provence
Salt and pepper
2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 Roma tomato, sliced thinly

1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crust, fitted in a deep-dish, 9-inch glass pie plate
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, Herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper; set aside. Layer the spinach, bacon, and cheese in the bottom of the pie crust, then pour the egg mixture on top. Bake for 25 minutes. Arrange 5 to 6 slices of tomato on top of quiche. Continue baking for 15 to 20 minutes longer until the egg mixture is set.
Cut into 8 wedges.
Egg information: http://www.incredibleegg.org/

This is the video from the segment on KSDK's Show Me St. Louis.

Mediterranean Egg Salad

Mediterranean Egg Salad

1 bag (10 - 12 ounces) mixed salad greens
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, about 6 ounces
1 cup grape tomatoes
½ cup crumbled or chopped feta cheese
4 hard-cooked eggs, cut into 6 wedges each
8 tablespoons Greek or olive oil and vinegar salad dressing

Combine greens, olives, tomatoes, and cheese. Divide evenly onto four salad plates. Top with 6 egg wedges. Drizzle with salad dressing.
Makes 4 servings

To hard-cook eggs: Place eggs in single layer in saucepan. Add water to cover by one inch. Cover and quickly bring just to boiling. Turn off heat; remove pan from burner, if necessary. Let eggs stand, covered, in the hot water about 15 minutes for large eggs. 12 minutes for medium eggs. Immediately run cold water over eggs or place them in ice water until completely cooled. To remove shell, crackle it by tapping gently all over. Roll egg between hands to loosen shell. Peel eggs, starting at large end. Hold egg under cold running water or dip in bowl of ice water to help ease off shell.

This is the video from the segment on KSDK’s Show Me St. Louis.