Strawberry Margaritas

 

I do not enjoy icky-sweet cocktails. These Strawberry Margaritas are just right with no added sugar or gross margarita mix. You can easily double, triple, quadruple, etc… this recipe.

Strawberry Margaritas

1 1/2 ounces tequila
1 1/2 ounces triple sec
1 1/2 ounces fresh lime juice
1/4 cup frozen strawberries
ice

lime slices, to garnish (optional)

Blend the tequila, triple sec, fresh lime juice, frozen strawberries, and about 1/2 cup of ice (more or less, to taste) in a blender until smooth. Garnish with a lime slice.


Chocolate Waffle Cookies

Chocolate Waffle Cookies

It is kind of fun to bake cookies on the waffle iron instead of in the oven. These cookies are very similar to brownies and are so easy to make, that my 9-year old could make and bake them with very little assistance.

Chocolate Waffle Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1-oz. squares unsweetened chocolate – melted
1 cup all purpose flour
Powdered sugar

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Beat in eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Blend in melted chocolate. Add flour and mix well.

Drop by large teaspoonfuls one inch apart on a pre-heated waffle iron. I find that I can do 4 cookies at a time on my waffle iron. Bake for two minute (sometimes less baking time is needed, adjust the timing after the first batch). Lift out cookie carefully by easing it loose with a fork, then gently lifting it up and off the iron. Place on a wire rack to cool.

Finish off with a light dusting of powdered sugar.

Makes approx. 3 dozen cookies.


Broccoli Casserole

I was volun-told to make a Broccoli Casserole for a Christmas luncheon at work last week. In the South, a typical Broccoli Casserole contains a boat-load of mayonnaise. I think it is gross. I wasn’t too happy about having to make the dish, but set out to create a Broccoli Casserole recipe I would be proud to serve to people. I wanted to make one that had way less mayo and fat, but still maintained the essential elements of the dish. I think my revamped Broccoli Casserole turned out great. It was creamy, but didn’t have an overpowering mayonnaise taste. I really liked it. I will definitely add this side dish to my repertoire.

Broccoli Casserole

2 12 oz. packages frozen broccoli florets
1 10.5 oz. can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I recommend Duke’s)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 egg
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I use mild)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350º F. Spray a casserole dish (a 9 X 13-inch will work) with cooking spray.

Cook the broccoli according to the package directions (I just zap it in a bowl in the microwave) and drain well in a colander. 

In a large bowl, combine the cream of mushroom soup, mayonnaise, sour cream, egg, cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add the drained broccoli and mix well. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and spread evenly.

Mix the crushed Ritz crackers with the melted butter. Spread evenly over the top of the broccoli mixture. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, until nicely browned.


Minestrone Soup

Minestrone

I have been making this Minestrone Soup recipe for over 20 years. It’s one of our favorite soups. This soup is very versatile and can easily be tweaked to use what you have on hand. Garbanzo or cannellini beans are excellent substitutes for the kidney beans. Other veggies, like green beans, can be added to this soup. If you like a brothier soup, add 1 or 2 cups more of vegetable broth when you add the pasta. This recipe freezes very well.

Minestrone Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups vegetable broth
1 can (15.5 oz.) kidney beans, drained
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with juices
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 – 3 teaspoons dried basil
½ cup dry pasta (small shells, ditalini, or elbow macaroni)
2 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 cup fresh spinach or kale (optional)
salt and black pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, for serving

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and celery and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and sauté 2 more minutes. Add the vegetable broth, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, sliced carrots, and dried basil. Bring the soup to a boil, lower heat to medium low, and simmer 10 minutes. Add the dry pasta; return to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 5 – 7 minutes. Add the zucchini and spinach or kale, if using, and cook until tender, about 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. A sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese is a perfect topping for this soup.


Lemon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Lemon Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think lemon and chocolate is an interesting and delicious flavor combination. These cookies showcase that combination without being overly tart. These cookies do not tend to get golden brown, but they still have a nice crunch while maintaining a soft center.

Lemon Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
zest from one whole lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325º degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Blend in the eggs, lemon zest, lemon extract, and vanilla extract. Set aside. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Gradually mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls (about 1 tablespoon) onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool the cookies on baking sheet for a few minutes, then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.


Southeast Asian Cabbage Salad

Southeast Asian Cabbage Salad

I love this salad! It’s something I make quite a bit. It’s fresh, crunchy, colorful, virtually fat-free, nutritious, and very flavorful. This salad keeps fairly well in the fridge for up to two days.

Southeast Asian Cabbage Salad

1 head green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 to 2 carrots, grated
1/2 to 1 cucumber, seeded, peeled, and chopped
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
2 (or more) fresh chiles (I usually use jalapenos or serranos), seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
chopped roasted peanuts

Combine cabbage, carrot, cucumber, cilantro and chiles in a large bowl. Mix vinegar, sugar, garlic, and fish sauce together in a small bowl. Pour vinegar mixture over cabbage mixture and toss well. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts right before serving.


Kimchi Fried Rice

This is a great way to use up Kimchi. The rice used in this recipe should be at least one day old, otherwise it is too wet.

Kimchi Fried Rice

4 1/2 cups day-old cooked white rice (if you can find it, get a medium grain rice like Kokuho Rose brand)

2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced tablespoon minced ginger
4 ounces baby bella mushrooms, cleaned, halved, and sliced
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 cup kimchi, chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 cup fresh spinach (optional)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
sesame seeds

eggs
butter

Make the rice the day before.

Heat the canola oil in a wok over high heat. Add the diced onions, and cook, stirring, until they start to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute more. Add the mushrooms, carrots, and zucchini and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped kimchi and cook another 1 or 2 minutes to heat through.

Add the rice and cook until warmed through and well combined with the other ingredients, another 3 minutes. Season with the soy sauce, gochujang, and sesame oil, stirring to evenly coat all of the rice and veggies. Mix in the the spinach, if using. Turn the heat down to low while you fry the eggs.

In a small fry pan, melt the butter and fry the eggs to desired doneness (I like mine over-easy).

To serve, place the Kimchi Fried Rice in a dish and top with a fried egg. Sprinkle with sliced scallions and sesame seeds.