Wednesday, July 23, 2008

For those of you who were wondering...

I have a guest writer. I convinced my BFF Stephanie to share her cooking triumphs on my blog as well. Since we are so far apart it is an excellent way of sharing recipes.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Cherry-Berry Jam

I went berry picking yesterday and could not resist making homemade jam and putting it on some fresh, hot biscuits. It's amazing to me how naturally sweet berries are and how little sugar is required to help turn them in to a delicious jam.
What you will need:
  • 2 cups pitted fresh cherries, halved (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups blackberries
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

To make this jam simply combine all ingredients in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to 2 cups (about 1 1/2 hours), stirring occasionally. Spoon into a bowl. Cover and chill. The jam should stay fresh for up to three weeks in the refrigerator.

(The biscuits are simply Bisquick :)

Garlic and Cumin-Seasoned Potato Wedges with Chipotle Ketchup

These seasoned potatoes are delicious. I have a very difficult time stopping myself from devouring them all...but that's not such a bad thing since this recipe is an adaptation from one found in Cooking Light. I would probably recommend these for the fall because you have to turn the oven up so high but you may be able to adapt this to the grill somehow (I don't have a grill or I would have tried it by now ;).
Here is what you will need:
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon grown cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 pounds small red potatoes, cut into quarters or wedges
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • cooking spray

Step 1:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and place the baking sheet in the oven.

Step 2:

To prepare the sauce combine ketchup, sugar, lime juice, and chile powder in a small bowl and place in refrigerator while preparing the remaining items. In a separate small bowl combine cumin, salt, and garlic powder (do not worry that the cumin mixture seems very small, it will sufficiently coat the potatoes).

Step 3:

Toss potatoes with oil. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on preheated baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, turn potatoes, and bake an additional 5 minutes or until golden and crisp. Place potatoes in a large bowl and sprinkle 1/2 of the cumin mixture and gently toss; sprinkle potatoes with the remaining cumin mixture and gently toss again to coat. Serve immediately with ketchup mixture.

This recipe makes 6 servings (sizes are 1 cup of potatoes and 1 tablespoon of ketchup mixture).

Chicken-Orzo Salad with Feta

This salad is very delicious. It is a nice refreshing summer meal. I would actually be happy with leaving the arugula out and just making the Chicken and Orzo as a pasta salad...but that's probably because I LOVE orzo :)

This recipe is an adaptation from Cooking Light's recipe with Goat Cheese one bonus though is that this recipe is fairly good for you.

What you will need:

  • 1 1/4 cups uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 3 cups chopped grilled chicken breast strips (I used the frozen Tyson ones)
  • 1 1/2 cups trimmed arugula
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup prechopped red onion (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) crumbled low fat feta cheese
  1. Start by cooking the the pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well.
  2. Combine pasta, chicken, arugula, tomatoes, red bell pepper, red onion, basil and oregano in a large bowl and toss well.
  3. Combine vinegar, oil, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle vinegar mixture over past and toss well to coat. Sprinkle with cheese.

This makes about 6 (1 1/3 cup) servings.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


The horseshoe sandwich is infamous in central Illinois. By far the best horseshoe around is made at Darcy's Pint. However, not even the cooks there know the secret to their delicious cheese sauce. It is a very well kept Irish family secret. C's mom makes a pretty good horseshoe sauce as well. C is always bugging me to make horseshoes since we are 900+ miles from the horseshoe's native home. A local restaurant, Hyde Park bar & Grill has one on their menu, and while it is good, it just doesn't measure up to Darcy's or C's mom. So I looked and looked for a recipe and had no luck finding one I wanted, so I did what I do best, I made my own!

I give you the horseshoe, not for the light at heart or the artery clogged. It is something you should try though, even if Illinois is not a place you call home.

Horseshoe Sandwich
You will need:
  • Fries (country style, unseasoned)
  • Meat of your choice (hamburger patty, chicken, ham, roast beef, etc)
  • Toast
For cheese sauce you will need:
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • flour
  • milk
  • 1/4 cup beer (Guinness is preferred)
  • 1 T. mustard
  • 1 T. Worecestershire sauce
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar
  • 2 cups Monterey jack cheese
  • paprika
  • pepper
  • chili powder

  • cumin
Start baking the French fries and making your meat. I made a hamburger for myself and C had Roast beef lunch meat.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet with the onion and garlic. Once the butter is melted and the onions have softened at flour one Tablespoon at a time stirring vigorously. You will have added enough flour when it becomes a sticky paste and balls up on itself. Add milk, while stirring constantly. You have added enough milk when the mixture is rather thin (~3 cups). Add in the beer, mustard and Worecestershire sauce. Slowly stir in the cheeses. If the sauce becomes too thick to stir, add more milk. add in paprika (~1/4 tsp), pepper, and chili powder to taste. Add a dash of cumin. Let the sauce thicken.

Toast your bread and then put meat on top. You will have two pieces of bread for a true horseshoe and one for a pony shoe (I always have a pony because it is pretty filling).

Top all that withFrench fries. Add as many as desired.

Top all of that with cheese sauce, the more the better!! Makes about 6 horseshoes. If it is just you and the hubby you can use the remaining cheese sauce to make mac and cheese or broccoli and cheese soup etc. Hope you enjoyed this IL classic! :)

Friendship Bread

This is one of my favorite summer-time meals. It is just so fresh and tasty. It is best eaten with you closest friends and at the peak of tomato freshness. If you have the extra few minutes you should make the Balsamic dressing yourself (recipe to follow) and the focaccia bread as well. This time I did not have time to make my own bread so Central Market's focaccia had to do.

Friendship Bread
You will need:
  • 1 loaf of focaccia bread, preferably something with sundried tomatoes or basil or both
  • 1 large tomato
  • crumbled feta cheese
  • fresh basil leaves
  • balsamic dressing
Place the focaccia loaf on a serving plate. Slice tomato and then cut slices in half. Tear or cut basil leaves into small pieces. Place the basil on top of the focaccia and top with tomato slices. Sprinkle the desired amount of feta on top of that. Slices the bread into the number of wedges desired. Drizzle with balsamic dressing. Serve up the slices and eat immediately (sitting too long will make the bread soggy). Add more balsamic if desired. Makes eight to ten wedges.

Balsamic vinaigrette dressing recipe
You will need:
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T. White wine vinegar
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together all ingredients until creamy. Do not refrigerate leftover dressing. Yum!