Saturday, April 30, 2011

Grilled Mojito Lime Chicken with Fresh Black Bean Salsa

I was never a big fan of cilantro until about 2 years ago.  The smell of it used to make me choke and it tasted like soap to me.  I read somewhere that you have to have a bitter taste perception gene to like cilantro.
There is actually a website for people that hate cilantro!

I have neighbors and friends from Costa Rica and enjoyed their food at parties and BBQ's and I guess I've acquired a taste for it now.  No latin dish with be authentic or taste the same without it.  We took a trip to Costa Rica a few years ago.  It's a beautiful country.

The hacienda where we stayed

Here is the Marinade:
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped mint
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
Combine all ingredients and marinate 2 lbs. thinly sliced chicken breasts.  Marinate for at least one hour.

Costa Rican Transportation

While chicken is marinating, prepare the Black Bean Salsa.
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. chopped, fresh jalapeno
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1 15-oz. can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Mix all the above ingredients in a medium size bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

My outside grill is still covered with snow, so I took out my handy, dandy GF grill.  I actually think it did a better job.  The chicken was juicy and I saved the drippings that were in the drip tray to pour over the chicken.  Serve with tortilla chips or soft flour tortillas.

Original Post was in February.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

No-Bake Whipped Cream Cheesecake

I met a lovely new friend at one of my Pampered Chef get-togethers who shared this amazing cheesecake recipe with me.  It's light but very rich...whipped cream heaven!

Crust:  1-1/4 graham cracker crumbs
           4 Tbsp. melted butter
           3 Tbsp. sugar

Combine all ingredients and press into springform pan or 10" tube pan.  Refrigerate while you make the cream cheese filling.  Set aside 2 Tbsp. for garnish.

Filling:
  • 1 pkg. Lemon Jello (small box)
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 2 - 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Dissolve Jello in 1/2 cup boiling water.  Set aside to cool.  Whip 3 cups heavy cream until stiff.  In a clean bowl whip cream cheese until fluffy.  Add sugar, Jello and vanilla and mix well.  Fold in whipped cream.  Refrigerate overnight or until set.

~G. Billiams
This recipe was linked to Miz Helen's Country Cottage 
and Sweets for Saturday
and So Sweet Sunday
and Cupcake Apothecary - A Themed Baker's Sunday

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - My Cottage Garden

This is the beginning of my Cottage Garden.   I love, love, love blue flowers!  I found a garden plan on-line but most of the plants are only sold in the UK, so I had to subsitute.  I can't wait for it to fill in!

 
Jebediah - Keeping things neat and tidy.
His Gnome Home
English Ivy
 
Hydrangea - "Blau Doneau"

  Columbine - "Blue Angel'

I Lost the tag for this one!

Spunkmeyer - Always playing!

 Fescue Grass - 'Elijah Blue"

Violas
Five Rosemary plants will create a background hedge.  "Tuscan Blue"
Bulbs:  Gladiolus x 12 - Violetta
            Iris x 6 - Deep Black
Still waiting for my Azurea - Electric Blue Summer Flowers

Fudwick and Lumbiddle looks like they have been hittin the sauce!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Slovakia Sweet Egg Cheese


 This recipe for Slovak sweet egg cheese is typically served at Easter time and goes by various names including hrudka, cirak, sirok, sirecz and on and on. It's an interesting concoction that's made the same way fresh cheese is.  It's variously called hrudka, sirok, Typically, hrudka is made without sugar, but some cooks prefer it sweet. Another way I like to serve it is sliced, dredged in flour and sautéed in butter. If the hrudka is sweet, you can sprinkle it with granulated or confectioners' sugar or even serve it with syrup as it tastes a lot like French toast without the bread! 
This is a recipe passed down from my sister's mother-in-law.


  • 15 eggs
  • 1 quart of milk
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • Pinch of sugar
Put all ingredients in a heavy-bottoms 3 quart saucepan.  Beat together well with electric hand mixer.  Cook slowly over low heat stirring constantly.  When the mixture begins to get hot, you will see bits of the egg beginning to make curds.  When it looks like cottage cheese and the liquid begins to separate, remove from heat.

Pour into cheesecloth-line large bowl.


Bring up sides of cheesecloth and form into a ball.  Squeeze out as much liquid as possible (let cool slightly) and tie the cheesecloth closed.  Set over a strainer and let moisture drain; about 2 hours.  I hang mine off the cabinet knob with a bowl underneath.


Refrigerate overnight.  Remove cheesecloth and slice.  You can also bread lightly in flour and fry like french toast and serve with maple syrup.

Click here for more Traditional Eastern European Recipes

Babka - Grandmother's Bread

Babka is  brioche-like yeast cake traditionally baked for Easter.  Babka comes from "baba or babci" meaning Grandmother.  This is my mother's recipe.  Perfect in the morning just with butter and a hot cup of coffee.

You will need:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1-1/4 cup scalded milk
  • 2 pkgs. dry yeast
  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. each orange and lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup golden raisans
Scald milk; add butter and sugar and stir until butter melts.  Cool to lukewarm.  In your stand mixer, add milk mixture.  Add yeast and 2-1/2 cups of the flour, beat well.  Add eggs, one at a time until well blended.  Add zest, raisans and remaining flour.  Mix to incorporate and knead 10 minutes.  Dough will be a little sticky, but don't add any more flour.  Transfer to a large, oiled bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.  Punch down dough and place in a well buttered tube pan.  Cover and let rise again; about 45 minutes.


Brush the top of the dough with beaten egg.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
This makes fabulous French Toast!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Glazed Lemon Cupcakes with Blueberries

These are light, airy cakes with blueberry filling and a lemony, white chocolate ganache glaze.  The original recipes was made with raspberry, which would be just as good.  I have a small ethnic store nearby and was able to find blueberry jam.  You can substitute any filling for these little cakes.

Cupcakes:
  • 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/3 cup plain non-fat yogurt
  • 1/3 cup 2% milk
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon extract
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup blueberry jam
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place cupcake liners into wells of muffin pan.  Zest lemon to measure 1 Tablespoon.  In a medium bowl, combine sugar and oil; whisk well.  Add zest, yogurt, milk and extract; whisk until blended.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl; mix well.  Sift flour mixture into wet ingredients; whisk until blended.  Whisk egg white vigorously about 1 minute until very foamy; fold into batter.  Scoop batter into liners.  Mix blueberry jam with cornstarch; place about 1 tsp. of jam onto center of cupcakes; push in gently with back of spoon.
Bake 15-17 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly pressed.

Ganache & Garnish:
  • 3 oz. white chocolate chips (1/2 cup)
  • 2 Tbsp. plain, nonfat yogurt
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract
  • Fresh blueberries
Place chocolate in microwaveable bowl.  Microwave on high 45-60 second or until almost melted; stir until smooth.  Sitr in yogurt and extract.  Dip tops of cupcakes into ganache, coating tops evenly.  Garnish with blueberries.

~Adapted from Season's Best Recipe Collection
This recipes is linked to Miz Helen's Country Cottage

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chicken Ceasar Salad Wraps

I always get this wrap at the local diner.  They have the most delicious ceasar salad dressing!  This is my version and it comes pretty darn close.  I switched it up and added cucumber and wrapped it in a sun-dried tomato tortilla.

  • 2 cups cooked chicken, cubed or shredded (grilled chicken would be great!)
  • 2 cups romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/2 cup Ceasar Salad Dressing
Ceasar Salad Dressing:
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. anchovy paste (more if you like or omit if you don't)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Toss all salad ingredients in a medium bowl.  Take about 2 cups of the salad mixture and place in the center of the tortilla.  Take the side closest to you and fold it over the salad.

Fold both sides into the center and roll the whole thing away from you closing up the tortilla.  Wrap in parchment paper and cut in half.

Great to take to work for lunch!


Friday, April 15, 2011

Salt 'N' Vinegar Roasted Potatoes

Did you every buy authentic fish & chips?  The fried fish dripping with malt vinegar?  We just turned it around in this recipe.  The vinegar is on the potatoes!


  • 1-1/2 lbs. small round potatoes
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup malt vinegar (cider vinegar can be substituted
In a medium pot, bring potatoes to a boil over high heat in salted water.  Cook at a rapid simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.  Place a folded dishtowel or paper towel on a work surface and place a potato inside.  Gently...and i mean gently, smash the potato so that it is flattened but still in one piece.  The edges on the potato will split.  Repeat with remaining potatoes.
That guy on the end didn't make it.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Brush a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil.  Place potatoes on sheet and brush tops with remaining 1 tablespoon oil.  Bake until crisp and golden, 35 minutes, flipping them halfway through.  Remove from oven, toss with vinegar and season with coarse salt.

I served these yummy potatoes with Parmesan crusted Tilapia - As good as any chippery!

~Adapted from Everyday Food


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Little Garden Tip

I just planted some radishes and beets in my garden and wanted to share a quick tip.  Wrap the seed packets in plastic wrap and thread bamboo skewers through the packet and stick it back in the ground.  A quick marker to let you know what is growing where.  The plastic wrap will protect the packet from the rain so you can refer back to it when your seeds are growing and when they will be ready for picking!  Put a date on the packet for easy reference.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sweet-Sour Cocktail Meatballs

These are my "famous" "Patti's Meatballs"!  Everytime we have a party or a get-together, I am asked to bring these along.  I have been making this recipe for years and we still never tire of them.  I bought a Pillsbury paperback cookbook, "Winter Food for Friends" and have used several recipes from that book for appetizers and snacks.  I hope you'll try them for your next party - I guarantee everyone will love them!


  • 20 oz. can pineapple chunks, drained, reserving liquid
  • 3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 1 small green pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. chicken-flavor bouillon
  • 1 cup liquid (remaining pineapple liquid plus water)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Measure 1/3 cup of reserved pineapple liquid; set remaining liquid aside.  In a large bowl, combine 1/3 cup pineapple liquid, breadcrumbs and garlic; blend well.  Add egg and ground meats and mix well.  Shape into 1-inch balls; place on ungreased baking pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until browned and thoroughly baked.

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and bouillon.  Add remaining sauce ingredients.  Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly.  Add pineapple chunks and green pepper; cook until thoroughly heated.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer hot meatballs into serving dish.  Add warm green pepper and pineapple mixture and mix gently.

~Adapted from Pillsbury - Winter Food for Friends
 This recipe can also be found on This Week's Cravings 
and also on The Culinary Enthusiast - Secret Recipe Club Manic Monday Button

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Easter Butter Lamb

 Easter Butter Lamb - Baranek Weikanocny

The Easter Lamb bearing a Resurrection Banner - like marshmallow Peeps, the butter lamb is an Easter icon of Polish Tradition.

Isn't he cute?

When I was growing up, I would be the one to make the lamb.  I made it free form, by hand and most of them came out looking like a Sphinx! (sorry, no pics available).  I didn't have the web to look up instructions, and my mom never told me that they have molds specifically for this.  Maybe she did tell me, but I don't recall.  I would sculpt my little lamb, put him in the fridge to get hard, then take a toothpick and make all kinds of swirlies on him to make it look like wool.  I put two peppercorns for eyes, and a sprig of parsely in his mouth. Just the smell of the parsley when I decorated this little guy, brought me right back to my mom's kitchen table.  There are handcarved wooden molds available from Poland that cost over $100.00. 

Swieconka - Blessing of the Easter Food

The blessing of the Easter food is an old lovely tradition that I was raised with.  It is common for most Eastern European Catholics.  On Holy Saturday, we would set the dining room table with all our food to be blessed.  Father Joe - from St. Hedwig's Parish would make a visit to the house to bless our food.  None of the churches do this anymore.

These are the most important part of the Easter table and their meanings:

Baranek - A lamb, representing Christ Resurrected.  A typical Polish Easter symbol.

Pepper and Horseradish - These symbolize the bitter herbs of the Passover and Exodus.

Bread - A symbol of Christ, "The Bread of life".

Salt - "You are the salt of the Earth".

Vinegar - Symbolizes the gall given to Christ at the Crucifixtion.

Wine - Symbolizes the blood of sacrifice spilt by Christ at the Crucifixtion.

In the old days, all types of pork were forbidden until the coming of Christ.

Father Joe won't be coming to bless the food anymore, but he has blessed us with many special Easter memories.
Pysanky - Ukrainian Easter Egg art
I tried this once but it's very involved - but beautiful!

Make your own Easter Butter Lamb

Polish Art Center - Plastic Butter Lamb Mold

How to make Ukrainian Easter Eggs

This lamb has joined the So Sweet Linky Party! 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Strawberry Amaretto Pastries

With very few ingredients, you can make these impressive pastries!


  • 1/2 pkg. frozen puff pastry sheet, thawed (1 sheet)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 container (8 oz.) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1-1/2 cups whipped cream
  • 12 large strawberries, sliced
  • Orange zest
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Unfold pastry dough onto baking pan.  Finely chop half of the almonds and combine with granulated sugar.  Sprinkle evenly over surface of dough.  Lightly press almond mixture into dough.

Cut dough lengthwise into three strips; cut strips crosswise into four squares for a total of 12 squares.  Gently separate squares evenly over surface of pan.  Bake 16-18 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.  Remove from pan onto cooling rack.

Meanwhile, place remaining almonds into a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat 2-3 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and cool.  Coarsely chop.

Whisk sour cream, powdered sugar and almond extract in a medium bowl.  Fold in whipped cream.  Slice strawberries.  Split open each pastry square;  arrange half of the strawberries into bottom of each shell.  Top with about 2 heaping tablespoons of the filling and sprinkle with chopped almonds.  Top with remaining strawberries.  Zest orange over strawberries.  Place tops of pastry shells over filling.  Serve immediately.

These are dainty and delectable
~Adapted from The Pampered Chef
Cooks Tip:  If not serving immediately, fill right before serving.  Sliced peaches can be substitued for the strawberries.
This recipe is being featured on Fresh, Clean, and Pure Fridays - la bella vita
and on Sweet as Sugar Cookies - Sweet for Saturday,
Joy of Desserts
What's Cookin Wednesday

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Confetti Turkey Meatballs

Down the Produce Aisle near the bagged lettuce, you will find Mann's Broccoli Cole Slaw.  It consists of hearts of broccoli, carrots and a small amount of red cabbage.  This recipe was on the back of the bag.  I've been meaning to make something with ground turkey in it...and voila!  I thought the veg in the turkey meatballs would keep the meat moist.  This is an inexpensive, healthy meal.  Lean turkey and veggies all in one! The Broccoli Cole Slaw was $2.49 and the turkey was $3.21 - that's only $5.70 and can feed a family of four.

  • 1 (12 oz) pkg. Mann's Broccoli Cole Slaw
  • 1-1/4 lbs. lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 5 tsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped garlic
  • 1-1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place bag of Broccoli Cole Slaw in microwave.  Microwave on high for 4 minutes.  Let cool before adding to the other ingredients.  In a large bowl, add all of the above ingredients and mix until well combined.  Spray baking sheet with cooking spray.  Use about 1/4 cup of mixture for each meatball.  The mixture will be very soft.  Bake on prepared baking sheet for 30 minutes.

    I made a quick marinara and simmered the meatballs in the sauce for an additional 20 minutes.

    Quick Marinara:  Take one 35 oz. can of whole peeled Italian tomatoes and process in blender.  In about 2 Tablespoons olive oil, saute 3 smashed garlic cloves and a pinch of red pepper flakes.  Saute until garlic starts to turn golden.  Add tomatoes and simmer 20 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste and fresh basil.

    These meatballs are great served plain, with marinara sauce or as a hot sandwich.  Makes about 20 meatballs.  These meatballs were very juicy and moist and really delicious!  Something different!

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Salata Jarzynowa (Polish Vegetable Salad)

    This salad is served at family tables for any of the holidays.  Every family has their own recipe, but the common ingredients are diced potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, carrots and mayonnaise.  Many years ago I had a Polish co-worker who brought this in work one day for me to try.  His mom used to come from Poland and stay for a few months, and I suppose cooked for him the whole time she was here!  I always ate this on top of a Ritz cracker - the taste reminds me of shrimp salad!

    • 4 large potatoes, boiled with their skin, then peeled and diced
    • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
    • 6 eggs, hard-boiled, grated on box grater
    • 1 pkg. peas and carrots, thawed
    • 1/4 cup dill pickle, diced
    • 1-1/2 cups mayonnaise
    • Salt and Pepper to taste
    • 1 Tbsp. horseradish (optional)
    Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix in mayonnaise and add salt and pepper to taste.

    This recipe was added to Full Plate Thursday @ Miz Helen's Country Cottage

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    Blackened Chicken Tenders with Orange Marmalade Dipping Sauce

    This chicken is very similar to a dish we order from our favorite Mexican Restaurant - Jose Tejas.  Their version is very, very spicy.  I had to tone down the rub mixture to my own taste.  You really should cook these in a cast iron skillet to get the full blackened effect (and lots of smoke) but I used my GF grill and they came out perfect.  Experiment and add what you like - they will still be delicious!  The sweet marmalade dipping sauce cuts the heat and really goes well.  I served this over coconut rice.

    Spice Rub:
    • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
    • 1 tsp. each paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, Kosher salt
    • 1/2 tsp. oregano
    • 2 lbs. chicken tenders
    Dipping Sauce:
    • 1 cup orange marmalade
    • 2 Tbsp. butter
    • Juice from 1 lime
    Preheat cast iron skillet and add 1 tsp. oil.  Dredge chicken tenders in spice rub and add to skillet until blackened and cooked through.  In a small saucepan, warm butter, orange marmalade and lime juice.

    Serve with coconute rice
     
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