Friday, December 31, 2010

new years resolutions

And I Resolve...

As we move from 2010 to 2011 one can't help but reflect on the passing year as we also look forward to the future. For some 2010 might have been a banner year and others hope 2011 will be better for them.
I read recently that each January roughly one out of every three Americans resolve to better themselves in some way. But a smaller percentage actually make good on those resolutions. The top resolutions focus on eating healthier, weight loss, more exercise, quitting smoking and saving more money. The drive to exercise more is quite evident when I am at the gym. Attendance numbers will be at an all time high in January and then after two to three months be back to normal. Why is this? Not sure since we all start out with good intentions making our resolutions but some how along the way get side tracked. Perhaps we need to have some kind of support/reward system in place to help us stick with our resolutions. If you are one who has made a resolution be sure it is a worthy one that is attainable and then work on keeping it.

Wishing all of you
Quiet wonders
That touch your soul
Many favorite memories
That make you smile
And peace in your world
Happy New Year

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cooking Lite

Lite Spicy Tomato-Vodka Sauce

Cooking notes: The meat in this recipe calls for using turkey products to save on calories and fat. Example: chopped turkey pepperoni slices.

I thought the sauce tasted fine by adding no meat and I used it as a vegetarian dish. The sauce was served over penne pasta.

Another option for meat would be to use 1lb. of Italian Sweet Sausage cooked and crumbled into small pieces.

At first I thought ½ cup vodka seemed like a lot so I went with 1/3 cup but it cooked down nicely when simmered for 30 minutes.

The recipe called for 1 ½ tsp. red pepper flakes which I did not have so substituted green and red pepper. Adding pepper flakes would kick the flavor up a notch.

The sauce is enough to serve 6-8 and I thought the recipe was easy and it can be made in about 30 minutes

Directions : Heat in a skillet 2 TB. Olive oil

Add and sauté about 3 minutes

  • ½ cup sweet onion chopped
  • ½ cup green pepper chopped
  • ½ cup red pepper chopped

Add in the following and saute 1 minute

  • 1 TB. minced garlic
  • 1 ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

Cooked meat can be added at this point

Add the following and bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes until liquid reduced by half then discard bay leaf

  • 2 cans of chunky basil-oregano-garlic tomatoes
  • 1/3 –1/2-cup vodka
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp salt

After sauce has simmered 20 minutes stir the following in and simmer on low heat about 10 minutes

  • 1 TB. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3-cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Recipe adapted from Cuisine Magazine February 2011

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


This past week my January issues of several magazine subscriptions have been arriving. Each issue seems to have articles that focus on a making a fresh start in the new year with suggestions on how to declutter, organize your home, setting and keeping goals and ways to live a healthier better life in 2011.
One piece that caught my interest was the article that suggested it was time to do CPR on your closet: Categorize, Purge, and Rearrange. It sounds like such a noble thing to do! Personally I have never thought of applying the term CPR to my closet space but it does make sense. The author of the article said one should consider each item. If it doesn't make you feel wonderful or look fabulous, it's a no. So put the item in the "to donate box" and put that box in your car right away before you change your mind.
BHG magazine 25 Ways to Pare Down and Get Organized for a Fresh New Year.

My take is we all are busy people and it is far easier and faster to just throw stuff back in the closet rather than carefully thinking about how these items should be organized/ grouped by color and type or how neatly items could be placed on the hangers.
If you decide to take the plunge to clean your closet I suggest you sort and decide quickly what should go "to the donate box." Consider the following
1. If you have not worn the outfit in the last century-time to ditch it
2. If you are hanging on to a clothing item, hoping you might regain that slimmer figure-let the item go
3. If some treasured clothing piece is out of style and you are hoping the look will come back-do a reality check-toss it
4. If you have have not used/worn an item in last six months consider letting go
5. If you have multiples of one item perhaps one will do
6. And lastly, perhaps time to rethink the thought ... No one can have too many purses and shoes
Reorganizing closets and drawers can be therapeutic and empowering. Putting a system into place is the easy part but its the maintaining part that will be the challenge!
Good Luck
One of my New Year's Resolutions will be to incorporate more recipes that are lighter in calories. Lite Spicy Tomato Vodka Sauce and Lightened Bolognese Sauce will be on the next blog just in time for your New Year's holiday entertaining.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Holiday Story

I thought this story was interesting.
I checked @ and it is indeed

Photo of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

A man named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night.
His 4-year-old daughter Barbara sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bob's wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer. Little Barbara couldn't understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dad's eyes and asked, "Why isn't Mommy just like everybody else's Mommy?" Bob's jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the story of Bob's life. Life always had to be different for Bob.
Even when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he'd rather not remember. From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in. Bob did complete college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn's bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938.
Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn't even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn't buy a gift, he was determined to make one - a storybook! Bob had created an animal character in his own mind and told the animal's story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope. Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the character? What was the story all about? The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose. Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl onChristmas Day. But the story doesn't end there.
The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print,_ Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer _ and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph . That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book.
In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights back to Bob May. The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter. But the story doesn't end there either.
Bob's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore , it was recorded by thesinging cowboy, Gene Autry. "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of "White Christmas."
The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning back to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn't so bad. In fact, being different can be a blessing.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Twas The Night Before Christmas

The Night Before Christmas

By Clement Clarke Moore

with some adaptations of events

that really did occur-FYI Bella is a yellow lab

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse:

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there:

While we were all nestled snug in our beds,

Bella had visions of treats dancing in her head;

I in my nightie and he in his sweats

Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap.

When out in the living room there rose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

And what to my wondering eyes should appear

But Bella making a BIG leap

for those stockings that had been hung with such care,

her hopes were high that the stockings had been filled.

Then away to the window she flew like a flash

Hoping for a glimpse of the jolly old elf.

But he had sprang to his sleigh and gave his team but a whistle

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

Then we heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,


St. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra, Turkey. He was the original and true holiday gift giver. He lived in the 4th century on the Mediterranean coast. The Bishop of Myra was kind and good to children, unmarried maidens as well as the poor. He gave gifts to those in greatest need. The Dutch brought the legend of St. Nicholas to America under the name Sint Nicholas or Sinter Klaas. In 1823 the poem, " A Visit from St. Nicholas" better known as "The Night Before Christmas" by Clement Moore gave a complete description of what we know today as a jolly old elf named as Santa Claus.

I am including two recipes that are fast and easy for your holiday entertaining.

Brie Cherry Cups

  • 1 sheet and ½ of another frozen puff pastry thawed
  • ½-3/4 cup cherry preserves
  • 1 Brie wedge ( 7 oz.) cut in ½ cubes
  • ½ cup crumbled almonds


  • Unfold pastry cut into 36 squares
  • Gently press squares into bottom of each 36 miniature muffin cups that have been sprayed with PAM
  • Bake 375 for 7 minutes. Using the end of a wooden spoon handle make a indentation in the center of each puff pastry bake about 6 minutes longer
  • With handle press each square down again to form an indentation in the center
  • In the center of each puff pastry place Brie cube
  • Spoon ½ rounded teaspoon of preserves on top of each Brie cube
  • Sprinkle nuts on top of cherry preserves
  • Bake 3-5 minutes till cheese melts and starts to bubble
  • Cool slightly on a wire rack-serve warm

Pesto Cheese Tarts


  • 2/3 cup chopped grape cherry tomatoes that have been drained on a paper towel
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 TB. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tsp. prepared Basil Pesto
  • 1 package frozen miniature phyllo tart shells (I used Athens brand) plus half of another box thaw out about 30 minutes


  • In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, cheeses and pesto
  • Arrange tart shells on ungreased cookie sheet
  • Spoon heaping teaspoons into tart shells
  • Top with chopped tomatoes
  • Bake 350 for 8-12 minutes or until lightly browned
  • Cool slightly on a wire rack- serve warm

Wishing All of You A Happy Holiday


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One More Reason...

by Lee Bennett Hopkins
winter winds
begin to
began to blast
begin to growl
winter winds
too gruff
its time
to wear
a pair

Well... we missed seeing the total lunar eclipse due to cloudy conditions in the early morning but lucky us we got another snowfall. And yes, those snow piles just keep piling higher and higher. It is hard to believe today is the REAL first day of winter. Seems like we have had it for a whole month already! But what better day than today, December 21, to wear your ear muffs to honor the man who 110 years got a patent for his ear warmers, Chester Greenwood. The state of Maine even sets this day aside to honor his achievement. How many of you remember wearing ear muffs growing up as a kid and getting them as a Christmas present. You will be proud of me but I manage to resist the urge to buy sock monkey ear muffs at a local department store recently. So far my hat is doing a great job keeping my ears warm.
One more brunch recipe to add to your collection
Italian Brunch Casserole
  • 1- 80z. package of sweet Italian sausage ( cooked, drained, crumbled)
  • 1 large loaf of Italian bread cut in 1 inch cubes-about 8-9 cups
  • 1 cup green onions
  • 1 cup sliced thinly zucchini
  • 1 red and 1 green pepper chopped or 1 small jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1 small package of mushrooms
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups half and half or whole milk
  • 8 eggs
  • 1-2 TB. dried Italian seasonings
  • Cut up bread and set aside
  • In blender mix seasonings, eggs, half and half or milk
  • Saute onions, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini and add sausage set aside
  • Grease a large glass bowl or 13 x 9 pan
  • Spread 4 cups of bread mixture on bottom
  • Place on top 1/2 mushroom mixture/sausage and 1 cup of cheese
  • Place rest of cubes over that mixture
  • Top with remaining mushroom mixture/sausage and rest of cheese
  • Pour milk mixture slowly over that
  • Cover and chill at least 8 hours
  • Bake covered @ 325 for 45 minutes uncover last 10 minutes
adapted from Southern Living January 2003

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Something to think about...

I wanted to share an article I received via e mail from a organization called Lake Region Writers. This non-profit organization was formed to serve writers in west central Minnesota. You can find out more about it by going to website:
Heidi Kratzke's featured article was thought provoking and I wanted to pass it along. The content interested me because as a classroom teacher I often saw students caught up with the different facets of social networking and simple letter writing did indeed get passed by as too labor intensive.

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

December 18, 2010

Here’s an idea: commit to writing a letter. A real letter. In between the typical flurry of daily work, poetry and prose, pens and paper…take out a sheet of stationary and write a letter to someone this holiday season.

As the Christmas cards keep arriving at our home, I find myself thankful for the family photos and accompanying “this year in review” letters from people I haven’t seen for awhile. Yet, there’s nothing better than a handwritten letter mailed from a friend.

In a day where most of our written communication is delivered via e-mail, text, or instant message, a letter in the mail adds an unexpected personal touch. It also gives way writers an opportunity to express emotions and share about daily happenings in a relaxed way, void of much of the usual verbal scrutiny.

Although your letter will not be a literary masterpiece, it just might bring back some of the joy of writing. Simultaneously, it will help brighten someone else’s day. Whenever I get stuck on a writing project, I find it helpful to direct my writing energies into another creative outlet. Let an old-fashioned letter find its way into your writing plans this season.

Now the only questions is: Who are you going to write first?

by Heidi Kratzke, LRWN Board Member


Today I started some holiday cookie baking and tried something new. If you love chocolate then this is for you.

Chocolate Chip and Peppermint Crunch Crackles

Makes 2 dozen

Baking tip: To crush peppermint candies place in a heavy duty plastic bag and use a mallet or in baking aisle look for a 12 oz. bag of peppermint chips

Refrigerate dough in between batches


  • 4 oz. (1 package) of bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 stick or 1/2 cup butter cut in cubes
  • 1- 1/2 oz. chopped unsweetened chocolate ( 2 squares)
  • 1/2 cup crushed hard peppermint candies
  • 6- 1/2 TB. sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • Combine first three ingredients in saucepan with sugar
  • Stir over low heat till chocolate melts
  • Remove from heat and add crushed candies
  • Cool for 20 minutes and stir occasionally
  • Whisk eggs into chocolate mixture, add vanilla and peppermint extracts
  • In a bowl whisk flour, baking powder and salt
  • Fold chocolate mixture into flour mixture and mix well
  • Cover and refrigerate about 4 hours
  • Preheat oven 325
  • Line cookie sheet with parchment paper
  • Shape dough into a generous tablespoon ball and place on sheet
  • Cook about 13 minutes- let rest 5 minutes on sheet before removing
  • Cookies will be puffed and cracked on top but soft to the touch in center

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Eyes on the Prize

Remember that photo I posted yesterday of a recent gift: a very cute sock monkey hat? I really have had it only some 48 hours and thought it was going to be perfect for walks in the dog park with the continued cold weather. But it seems Bella has secretly been plotting how to get this hat for herself.
The minute we left the house for several hours Bella knew her big moment had arrived. She wasted no time digging in the hat/mitten/glove box for the sock monkey hat and proudly added it to her stash. But not before she nibbled at the ear, tugged at the eyes and sucked on the red furry balls attached to the string ties. And if that wasn't enough she also hauled out of the box another one of my hats and chewed at the brim. This is one dog who has way too much time on her paws. Perhaps Bella just wishes she had a hat of her own. Luckily, with a few repairs this sock monkey hat will still be a wearable item.
The following are some salad recipes perfect for a brunch
Orange Walnut Salad with Sweet and Sour Dressing
adapted from Paula Deen
1/2 head bibb lettuce cleaned and torn into bite size pieces
1 small container of spinach leaves
3 oranges, peeled, sectioned, and seeded
1 red onion, sliced and separated into rings
3/4 cup walnuts
1 cucumber cut in thin slices
Sweet and Sour Dressing
or buy a prepared one
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • In a large bowl combine lettuce, spinach, oranges, cucumber and onions
  • In a saucepan saute walnuts in 2 tsp. butter till lightly browned
  • Add to lettuce mixture
  • Combine all the dressing ingredients in a blender and chill for several hours
  • Add dressing to salad just before serving
Oranges with Cinnamon
  • 8-10 oranges-sliced with rim
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1- 2 tsp cinnamon
  • Arrange orange slices in a shallow dish
  • In saucepan whisk all ingredients
  • Heat to almost a boil
  • Remove from heat and add 1/8 cup orange liqueur or Grand Marnier
  • Pour over oranges- cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours
  • To serve drain fruit with a slotted spoon
Grand Orange and Strawberries
recipe from Southern Living May 2003
  • 1/2 orange marmalade
  • 1- 1/2 cup sparkling white grape juice
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur
  • 1- 12 oranges peeled and sectioned
  • 2 cups of sliced strawberries
  • Melt marmalade on low heat stirring constantly
  • Remove from heat and stir in grape juice and Grand Marnier
  • Blend liquid mixture into fruits
  • Cover and chill at least 8 hours
  • Serve fruit mixture in a sherbet glasses by using a slotted spoon
Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries
  • 1 box of long-grain wild rice mix
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or Craisins or dried cherries
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 4 green onions chopped
  • 3 celery ribs chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup sweet and sour dressing prepared or purchased
  • 1 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • Prepare rice mix according to directions
  • Add all other ingredients except peanuts
  • Cover chill at least 2 hours then add in peanuts

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sock Monkey Attire

My sock monkey wardrobe continues to expand with a recent gift, a sock monkey hat. No doubt I will be the envy of those who walk the dog park as I wear such a fun warm hat complete with snugly ear flaps. Check out photo.
While Rocky Socky was busy driving the Sockland Express bus, I decided to take a closer look at one of Will's Christmas gifts to Rocky Socky before it got wrapped Sock Monkey Dreams Daily Life at the Red Heeled Monkey Shelter by Whitney Shroyer and Letitia Walker (info. just in case you may want to pick up your own copy) chronicles the daily life at the Red Heeled Monkey Shelter, a home for abandoned sock monkeys. I learned about the people who run the shelter, the rescue monkeys that are for sale and how these sock species evolved.
As I delved further into the book I was fascinated to learn about all the ways these monkeys arrive at the shelter. Many come from rescue missions from thrift shops, antique malls and yard sales. Some get dropped off or mailed in boxes to the shelter by people who can no longer care for them.
A resident sock monkey named Benny Hathaway writes and edits a newspaper called The Monkey Ape Vine. This newspaper covers the daily events at the shelter with resident interviews. I was just starting to read the chapter: What's Cookin' at Cookie's Counter? when I decided I'd better get a move on my own holiday baking. So at a later date I'll find out more about Cookie, a sock monkey who recently started a new career opening a monkey dinner.
Brunch Recipe Ideas
check back tomorrow on blog for bunch salad recipes

Ham and Asparagus Strata


  • 8 oz. asparagus spears (1 bunch) trimmed that have been cooked in salted boiling water 10 minutes, drained and cut in 2 inch pieces
  • 6 cups of French bread cubes
  • 3 cups white cheddar cheese
  • 2 TB. parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped cooked ham
  • 7 eggs
  • 3 cups half and half
  • 1 small package of mushrooms


  • Sauté mushrooms and onions
  • In a blender add eggs and seasonings
  • Grease glass 13 x 9 pan
  • Place bread crumbs on the bottom of glass pan, add mushrooms, onions
  • Place ham and chopped asparagus over bread cubes
  • Pour half and half mixture over ham mixture
  • Sprinkle with cheese
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight
  • Take out about 30 minutes before cooking
  • Cook uncovered at 325 45 minutes check to make sure center is set
  • Let rest 10-15 minutes before serving

Blueberry French Toast Bake

Adapted from Betty Crocker Berry Good French Toast Bake


  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 ½ cups half and half or whole milk
  • 1 TB. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 1- 6oz. cream cheese cubed
  • 10 slices of French bread cut 1- inch thick in 1- inch cubes
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (thawed)
  • ½ cup almonds


  • Grease a 2-½ quart casserole
  • In blender mix flour, half and half, vanilla, salt, eggs,cinnamon and sugar
  • In a separate bowl add milk mixture to bread cubes
  • Place in greased baking dish
  • Top with ½ inch cream cheese cubes spread evenly over bread mixture, top with blueberries and nuts
  • Cover and refrigerate at least an hour but no longer than 24 hours
  • Heat oven to 400
  • Bake 30 minutes uncovered till golden brown and center is set
  • To serve sprinkle with powdered sugar or syrup

Friday, December 10, 2010

Just in the Nick of Time!

An unexpected delivery to our Up North mailbox was just in the nick of time for the forecasted weekend of the big chill and maybe even blizzard like conditions. YIKES! to think winter does not even start till Dec. 21!!! It certainly was a surprise to receive these slippers from a friend. I am now making a new fashion statement for around the house attire. But I have found the need to be vigilant where these slippers are kept. Bella was sure they were a new type of toy intended just for her. Check out photo of an early holiday arrival.
In the newest issue of SCBWI bulletin I found an article about Alice Pope noteworthy. She has been the editor of the book Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market for 18 years but is now blogging as the industry expert for SCBWI. Check out her
This informational market blog will cover: interviews with agents and editors, feature debut authors and illustrators, highlight markets and new imprints, hosting writers on blog tours and offering general publishing news of interest for authors and illustrators.
If my blog reaches you in an area where you are hunkered down because of cold wintry like conditions perhaps think about trying the following recipe to make the day more palatable with some comfort food.

Chicken Ala King
serve over Pepperidge Farm Patty Shells
  • 1 small package of mushrooms chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 5 TB. butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 4-0z jar drained diced pimento
  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken or ham
  • 1 cup cooked peas
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • optional 1/3 cup Sherry
  • 1 TB. parsley flakes
  • 1 TB. chives
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • Cook mushrooms, green pepper, onion in butter
  • Blend flour with salt and other spices
  • Cook over low heat until bubbly with mushroom mixture
  • Remove from heat, whisk stir in cream and broth
  • Return to heat and slowly cook till thickened
  • Stir in chicken or peas, pimento, peas and sherry
  • Serve in patty shells

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dog Park Psychology 101

It occurred to me today at 7:40 AM as I was doing the dog park walk what a strange breed these dog walkers are that I have now become. As I trudge around in the snow I encounter people who are also bundled up against the cold. We share conversations but I do not know their names while our pets prance, bound and wrestle with each other. They enlighten me with all sorts of fascinating information about their pet's name, breed and age whether I want to hear it or not. Some of their dog tales about near deadly encounters with mean, aggressive dogs has at times raised my level of concern. So I have quickly figured out which are the dogs to avoid and what times not to be in the park! But on the plus side I have learned where to buy that special footwear for slippery walking conditions (hint: Fleet Farm). Some parting words...I think setting up a coffee shop near a dog park could be a very lucrative business and perhaps I should give this some serious consideration.

Chicken and Black Bean Stuffed Burritos

Adapted from Cooking Light December 2010


  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 TB. fresh lime juice
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 2 cups shredded chicken
  • ¼ cup sliced green onion
  • ¾ cup black beans rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup salsa
  • ½ cup refried beans
  • 4 flour tortillas
  • 1 cup Colby-Jack cheese grated


  • Bring first 6 ingredients to boil
  • Stir in chicken
  • Combine beans, salsa and refried beans
  • On each tortilla spread down center, bean mixture and then chicken mixture
  • Sprinkle cheese over this mixture and roll up secure in place with a toothpick
  • Roll each tortilla in foil and place on a baking sheet
  • Cook 15-20 minutes at 350

Meatball Subs


  • 4 Hoagie buns
  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • Grated Mozzarella cheese
  • Marinara sauce (I used Buitoni product found in the refrigerated/dairy section)

Directions:Preheat oven 400

  • Prepare buns by shaving a thin layer off top of each roll
  • Remove some of the interior of the hoagie
  • Brush inside of hollowed out buns with olive oil
  • Place grated cheese inside bun
  • Bake on cookie sheet about 5 minutes till buns are lightly browned and cheese melts
  • Fill each sub with hot tomato sauce place 2 warmed meatballs in each hoagie
  • Sprinkle with Mozzarella cheese
  • Bake 5-7 minutes

Note: Recipe adapted from Cuisine Magazine Winter Edition 2010

Meatballs or Meatloaf

This recipe makes 24 meatballs or one loaf pan size meatloaf


  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • ½ lb. ground pork
  • 2-1/4 cup breadcrumbs made in the food processor with slices of whole wheat bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup half and half
  • 2 cups grated carrots (use food processor)
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 chili sauce
  • ½ chopped onions


  • Shape into meatball size portions and place in a greased 13 x9 pan
  • Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes at 350
  • Place each meatball on paper towels to drain
  • If making meatloaf- grease a loaf pan and add meat mixture to pan. Add the following sauce
  • Cover with foil bake at 350 45 minutes last 10 minutes remove foil
  • Let meat rest 15 minutes before slicing it

Meatloaf Sauce:

  • Mix in a bowl and spread on top of meat mixture
  • 1 TB. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup chili sauce
  • 1 TB. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp. cider vinegar

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holiday Entertaining

With the exit of Thanksgiving the holiday season is in full gear. In the next few weeks I will be posting an assortment of tried and true recipes. Today's posting will focus on appetizers. In the upcoming weeks look for recipes for main dishes including vegetarian and ones from Cooking Light magazine, desserts and cookies.
Sombero Spread- serve with chips
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup catsup
  • 1-2 TB. chili powder
  • 1 8- 0z. can kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 1-2 cups shredded sharp cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped green olives
  • 1 cup chunky salsa
  • 1/2 can refried beans
  • Brown meat with onions
  • Drain and add the rest of the ingredients
  • Simmer on low heat 45 minutes do not cover
Sweet and Sour Sauce for Chicken Wings or Ribs
  • 1 cup catsup
  • 1 cup water mixed with 2 TB cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 TB. celery seed
  • 1 TB. chili powder
  • dash salt and pepper
  • few drops of Tabasco
  • Mix ingredients and bring to boil, simmer till thickened
  • In a 9 x9 pan add cooked meat and pour sauce over it
  • Bake uncovered at 350 for 40 minutes
Pesto Cheese Tarts
  • 2/3 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
  • 3 TB. Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp. prepared pesto
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1 package (2.1 oz) frozen miniature phyllo tart shells
  • In a small bowl combine tomatoes, mayo, cheeses, pesto and pepper
  • Spoon heaping teaspoons into tart shells
  • Place on an ungreased baking sheet
  • Bake 350 8-12 minutes until lightly browned yields: 15 appetizers
Recipe from Simple and Delicious July/August 2007

Cornbread Crostini
1 package of cornbread mix
Suggested toppings:
The following toppings will be heated on the cooked cornbread crostini on a baking pan and broil just till melted (1 minute)
  • shredded barbecue pork, shredded pepper jack cheese, fresh cilantro
  • plum tomato slices, shredded provolone cheese, crumbled bacon
The following toppings are served cold-be bold and creative-try your own ideas
  • Boursin cheese, finely chopped red and yellow peppers and chives
  • Gorgonzola cheese, sliced apples, parsley
  • Goat cheese, cranberry chutney, watercress, freshly ground pepper
Directions for Crostini:
  • Prepare cornbread mixture to manufactures directions but stir only till ingredients are moistened
  • Grease mini-muffin pans
  • Spoon batter into each well about 1 TB. per cup well
  • Bake in batches about 15 minutes @ 400
  • Remove each one and cool on wire rack
  • Then place mini cornbread muffin on baking sheet and bake 375 for 5 minutes to crisp
  • Cool on wire rack again

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

GET TO KNOW YOUR APPLES Pink Lady , great balance of sweet and tart. Granny Smith , maybe the most popular baking apple. A little more tart ...