Spinach Dip

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I love this spinach dip! I had it at a party years ago and the hostess shared her recipe. She served her dip in a pumpernickel bread bowl with additional bread for the dip. I like the dip with raw veggies and Ruffles potato chips. This dip also make a nice spread for sandwiches and wraps.

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Spinach Dip

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 envelope (1 ounce) ranch salad dressing mix
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained completely
1 can (8 ounces) water chestnuts, drained, chopped

Beat the cream cheese in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sour cream and ranch salad dressing mix and beat until well combined.

Microwave the frozen chopped spinach for about 3 minutes (until it is defrosted). Drain the spinach in a colander. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Stir the drained, chopped spinach and the chopped water chestnuts into the cream cheese mixture. Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. Serve with raw veggies (carrots, celery, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, etc…), crackers, and/or (toasted or not) pumpernickel bread.


Sour Cream Waffles

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I have a problem. I have too much sour cream in my fridge. Publix had a buy-one-get-one free special on sour cream. With that special and coupons, I got the two 16 ounce cartons of sour cream for 7 cents each. I couldn’t pass up that deal, even though I already had some sour cream at home. Now I’m looking for ways to use all that sour cream (besides dips). This recipe is wonderful. These are possibly the best waffles I have ever made. Even the super, mega picky tween liked them. Win!

Sour Cream Waffles

1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat your waffle iron.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg, sour cream, milk, melted butter, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Gently whisk the dry ingredients into the sour cream mixture until smooth.

Use the batter to prepare waffles according to your waffle iron’s manufacturer’s directions. I recommend spraying the waffle iron with nonstick spray (do this even if your waffle iron has a nonstick surface).


Christmas Spiral Cookies

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These are such cute Christmas cookies. They are adaptable too. You can add flavorings (like peppermint) or not. Add-ins like finely crushed candy canes or nuts would also make these cookies extra special.  I choose not to add a flavoring or add-in to my cookies. I think they turned out wonderfully. To get the vibrant red color, use a food coloring gel found at big craft stores or specialty baking shops.

Christmas Spiral Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla
red food coloring (the gel type is recommended)
peppermint extract (optional)
colorful non-pareils

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and powdered sugar in a food processor and process briefly to mix. Add the cold butter pieces and process with on/off bursts until the mixture is the butter is well distributed and the consistency is like coarse cornmeal. Add the vanilla and continue to process until a ball forms.

Divide the dough in half. Set one one of the halves aside and return the other half to the food processor. Add 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract (or other flavor), if using. Add the red food coloring (about 1/2 teaspoon) and process until incorporated. At this point you may want to add a bit more food coloring to get a more intense red color.

Roll out each half of the dough between two sheets of waxed paper. You want rectangles that measure about 11 X 8 inches. Once both pieces of dough are rolled out, removed the top sheet of waxed paper from both. Invert one of the pieces of dough and stack on top of the other. Press down gently to seal the two pieces together. Remove the top sheet of waxed paper and trim the edges of the dough with a knife so that they are even.

Roll the dough up like a jellyroll, using the waxed paper to help lift and shape the dough into a log.

Place nonpareils in a flat bottom dish large enough to fit the log of dough. Gently place the log on top of the nonpareils and roll to completely cover. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

At this point, the log of dough may be place in the freezer for up to 2 months. Defrost dough in the refrigerator overnight before slicing and baking.

When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Slice the log of dough into 1/8- to 1/4-inch slices. Place the slices on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 17 minutes. The bottoms of the vanilla portions will be golden, but you don’t want the tops to get that dark. Let cookies cool completely.

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Banana Poppy Seed Muffins

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I’ve only recently started buying bananas on a regular basis. My crazy toddler loves them. He’s not always consistent with his banana consumption, though. Some days he will eat two whole bananas and still want more. On other days he will only eat half of a banana and be done. Sometimes he goes weeks without wanting a banana at all. On those weeks, I am often left with a bunch of ripe bananas. Much of the time, I peel and slice the bananas and put them in the freezer. I use the frozen bananas to make smoothies. Right now I have more frozen bananas in the freezer than we can possibly use in the next few weeks.

I’ve been on the lookout for ways to use ripe bananas.  I found this Banana Poppy Seed Muffin recipe in the cookbook, Once Upon a Tart…Soups Salads, Muffins, and More from New York City’s Favorite Bakeshop and Cafe by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau with Carolynn Carreno (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2003).  I adapted the recipe a bit and the muffins turned out perfect. I loved the texture. Most importantly, my picky kids liked them. I will definitely be making these muffins again.

Banana Poppy Seed Muffins

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup sugar
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray the muffin tins with cooking spray and set aside.

Whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds together in a small bowl and set aside.

In a separate, large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until creamy and fluffy. Add the bananas and continue mixing until the bananas are blended with the butter and sugar. Mix the eggs in one at a time. Next, mix in the milk.

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet on low speed until there is no trace of flour left. Do not overmix.

Divide the batter between 12 cups in regular size muffin tin(s). Fill each cup almost to the top.

Place in the oven on the center rack. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.

When done, remove the muffins from the oven and let cool until they are easy to handle. Serve with butter.


Zucchini Bread

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I cannot believe I have never blogged this recipe. It’s a classic in my house. I have used this recipe for at least the past fifteen years. I have never been disappointed. It is a no fail recipe. I baked a batch of 3 mini loaves yesterday and my crazy toddler raved about it. He ate a mini loaf all by himself.

Zucchini Bread

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 cups (lightly packed) unpeeled zucchini, shredded
1/2 cup pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat a 9 X 5 X 3-inch loaf pan (or 3 mini loaf pans)  with cooking spray. Set aside.

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together eggs and oil, then stir in shredded zucchini (and pecans if using). Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix together by hand. The batter will be pretty stiff. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan(s) and bake for 50 minutes (30 – 35 minutes for mini loaves) or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly before serving.


Kale Salad

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I am in love with this kale salad. Sometimes the simplest things are the best. This kale salad is simple and it’s absolutely amazing. I like making this salad with any kale other than the typical curly kale you find in the grocery stores. There are many varieties of kales, so branch out. I got organic purple kale at Earth Fare and it rocks. Kale is one of the most nutritious things you can eat, so I’m always looking for new ways to add it to my diet. This salad will definately be a favorite.

1 bunch kale
juice of 1 lemon, about 2 tablespoons
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, finely grated, to taste
croutons, about 1 cup worth

Wash the kale and spin it dry in a salad spinner (or blot dry with paper towels). Remove the tough ribs and discard. Chop the kale into bite-size or smaller pieces and place in a serving dish.

Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a  small bowl (or shake together in a lidded mason jar). Pour over the kale and toss until coated. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese (I use a couple of tablespoons, but use as much or as little as you like), toss again, and let the salad sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Toss in the croutons and serve.


Lime in the Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup

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This is a quick and flavorful soup. It has the flavors of Southeast Asia, but all of the ingredients can be found in the ethnic foods aisle at the local grocery store. You do not have to be super particular about the rice noodles you use in this soup. There is a dizzying array of variety when it comes to Asian rice noodles. I love the thinner rice vermicelli. Rice noodles do not contain gluten, so they are perfect for those on gluten-free diets. I think sliced white button mushrooms (thrown in the same time as the chicken) would be a nice addition to this soup.

Lime in the Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup

6 ounces dried thin rice noodles (vermicelli or rice sticks)
4 cups chicken broth
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
1 can (approximately 13.5 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
3/4 pound, boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
3 limes
3 tablespoons fish sauce (I recommend Three Crabs brand fish sauce, found at Asian markets)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 jalapeno, stem end removed and thinly sliced
1//2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Soak the rice noodles in very hot water until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain the noodles and set aside.

In a soup pot, bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Add the ginger. Reduce the heat to medium and add the coconut milk. Return to a simmer and then add the chicken. Simmer until the chicken is cooked thorugh, about 3 minutes. Stir in the juice of the 3 limes, the fish sauce, the brown sugar, and the cilantro. Add the drained noodles to the soup and cook one more minute. Stir in the sliced jalapeno and serve. You can garnish the soup with additional fresh cilantro.