Quick Puff Pastry

I have always wanted to try and make my own puff pastry, but the traditional method kind of made me nervous. Making a big slab of butter? I wasn’t sure if I could do it properly, and that is a LOT of butter to waste if it didn’t work out right. When I came across another method to make quick puff pastry I was hooked!


Quick Puff Pastry
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 ¼ sticks butter
  • ½ cup cold water
  1. Cut up butter into small cubes. Coat in flour and put it and the rest of the flour into the food processor. Pulse 3-5 times.
  2. Add the water and pulse 3 more times.
  3. Dump out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape with your hands into a rectangle. Fold over in thirds, like a business letter. Turn 90 degrees and do another fold. Repeat two more times for a total of 4 turns. Chill for 45 minutes to an hour.
  4. Remove from fridge and place on lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin this time, roll out into a rectangle and do three more turns folding over in thirds, turning 90 degrees, and repeating the process.
  5. After the 7th turn, roll out to about ½ inch in thickness, cut out to desired shapes, and use according to your favorite recipe directions!

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Creamy Peaches and Rice

Quickly prepared, this dish featuring canned peaches are rice is made into something special with the addition of spices.

Creamy Peaches and Rice
Serves: 4
Prep time: 
Total time: 
  • ½ cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1½ cups boiling water
  • 1 can (16 oz) sliced freestone peaches in heavy syrup
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tbs. butter or margarine
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • ½ cup whipping cream or half-and-half
  1. Cook rice with the salt in the boiling water for 15 minutes or until rice is tender. Drain, if necessary but leave in saucepan.
  2. Drain peaches, reserving ¼ cup syrup. Set aside 4 to 8 peach slices. Chop remaining peaches.
  3. Mix chopped peaches, reserved syrup, sugar, butter, spices and lemon juice. Add to hot cooked rice, mixing well. Put saucepan over medium heat and cook mixture for 5 minutes.
  4. Turn into buttered, shallow 1½-quart baking dish. Pour cream over. Arrange reserved peach slices on top.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Serve warm. Or let cool, serve in individual dishes with additional cream.


Pork Chops Dijon

Pork Chops Dijon
Slow cooked pork chops pair nicely with a Dijon cream sauce for a tasty twist to your usual pork chop routine.
Recipe type: Pork and Lamb
Serves: 6
  • 3-4 TBSP Vegetable oil
  • 6-8 Center Cut Pork Chops
  • 2-3 cups Onions, thinly sliced
  • 1.5 TBSP Garlic, diced
  • 1.5 tsp Dry Mustard
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ¼ tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • ¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 3 TBSP Flour
  • 2 TBSP Cider Vinegar
  • ¾ Cup White Wine
  • 2 TBSP Dijon Mustard
  • ½ cup Heavy Cream
  1. Season trimmed center-cut chops well with salt, pepper, garlic salt, onion powder, and Lawry's Seasoning salt. Heat 2 TBSP of vegetable oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Brown chops well on both sides and remove to slow cooker.
  2. Thinly slice 2 large onions and place into pan with an additional 1 TBSP of oil. Add in 1.5 tsp of dry mustard, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp ground black pepper, and ¼ tsp cayenne pepper. Stir well and cook over medium-low heat until onions are cooked, caramelized, and developed in color.
  3. Add to skillet 1.5 TBSP of minced garlic. Cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add 3 TBSP of flour. Stir until well combined and cook 2 minutes. Add ¾ cup of white wine and 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar. Cook until thickened and pour over chops in slow cooker.
  4. Cook 6-7 hours on medium, or 4-5 hours on high. Check approximately 1 hour before end of cook time as total cooking time will depend on your particular model of slow cooker.
  5. When chops are fork tender remove from cooker. Add in 2 TBSP Dijon mustard and ½ cup heavy cream. Stir well and pour over chops on serving plate.
  6. Serve with garlic mashed potatoes or egg noodles.

 Cooking Lesson

This is a unique pork chop dish for when you are in the mood for something different. It only takes about 30 minutes to throw together and get into the crock pot in the morning, and then in the evening all you have to do is either mash some potatoes, or boil some egg noodles with a vegetable on the side for a delicious, easy, filling meal.

Start out by seasoning some boneless center cut pork chops with salt, pepper, garlic salt, onion powder, and Lawry’s seasoning salt.  Make sure they are thick cut chops, you want them at least 1″ thick. I usually buy a whole pork loin and trim and slice it myself.


Heat some vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until its almost smoking. Add in seasoned chops and brown well on each side.



While the chops are browning, thinly slice about 2-3 cups of onions.


Place browned chops into a preheated crock pot. If you will be starting this in the morning, put it on medium. If you are starting this in the early afternoon, put it on high.


Add a few tablespoons of additional oil to the pan if necessary and allow to heat up. Add onions to the pan and season with 1.5 tsp dry mustard, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper. Cook over medium-low heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are cooked through and developing a nice color.


Add to skillet 1.5 TBSP of minced garlic. Cook, while stirring, for 1 minute. Add in 3 TBSP of flour. Stir until moistened and cook over low heat for 2 minutes. Add in 3/4 cup of dry white wine (I use Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio), and 2 TBSP of apple cider vinegar.  Stir and cook until the mixture is thickened. Immediately pour over the pork chops in the crock pot.


Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours, on medium for 6-7 hours, depending on the heat of your particular model.

When the chops are fork tender, remove from crock pot leaving behind as much of the sauce as possible. Stir in 2 TBSP of dijon mustard and 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream. Pour over chops on serving plate.

Comfort Foods

Comfort foods can be defined as food that has been prepared simply and brings a feeling of satisfaction to the one who eats it. It could likewise be specified as any type of food that a person can link with home or his youth. Comfort foods are also those meals that are commonly eaten when a person is under emotional stress.

Typical Comfort Foods

The most usual comfort foods often include a high amount of sugar or carbohydrate and fat. Foods that are most typically reported as comfort foods include biscuits, potato chips and gelato. Another record showed that ladies favor comfort foods like chocolate. Women also typically eat snack foods as comfort foods. Men, on the other hand, prefer entire meals as comfort food. Young people prefer snack foods and also sugary foods, just as women do, while older people prefer hot, rather than cold, meals as comfort food.

Usual comfort foods include apple pie, banana pudding, pot roast, chicken soup, fried chicken, frankfurters, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, pumpkin pie, pastas as well as beef stew.

Just what is in a Comfort Food?

Food scientist researchers guess that there is a connection between the person’s mood and also consuming specific meals. It is thought that some foods that have high carbohydrate content increases tryptophan. Tryptophan raises the quantity of serotonin in the human brain, which then causes enhancing the expert’s state of mind.

An additional possible description for why specific meals supply comfort is that tasty meals add to the system releasing opioids, which modify a person’s mood. Another explanation offered by scientists is that this is a result of an expert’s sensations of nostalgia. A person feels comfort whenever they prep as well as eat food that recognizes to them, is indulgent, and offers a feeling of psychological as well as physical convenience.

There are cases when a person eats way too much of what they consider comfort food, specifically when they want to be distracted from handling stressful situations. Comfort foods can help to improve one’s moods. My suggestion is not to indulge in these meals very often or to “slim down” the recipe using less fattening ingredients. Since a majority of these comfort foods contain a high amount of fat and salt, overindulgence in these foods can cause the advancement of heart disease and also other sorts of diseases. Likewise, many comfort foods contain high carbohydrate content and so overindulging, little physical activity can lead to weight gain or health problems.

Baked Spinach and Tomato

Baked Spinach and Tomato
Good served with Steamed chicken, carrots, Bibb lettuce salad.
Recipe type: Vegetables
Serves: 4
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 lb. fresh leaf spinach or Swiss chard
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, quartered
  • 4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions, minced
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 2 Tbs. butter or margarine
  1. Spread spinach over bottom of lightly buttered, shallow 8- or 9-inch tart pan or square oven-to-table pan. Spread tomato mixture over center, allowing some of the green to show around edges. Dot with butter. (This much can be done ahead, covered and refrigerated for later heating and serving.)
  2. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve hot.


Spaghetti Alfredo with Spinach

Spaghetti Alfredo with Spinach
Serve with baked chicken and broccoli for a tasty meal.
Recipe type: Rice and Pasta
Serves: 4
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 24 ounces dry spaghetti pasta
  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ tsp garlic salt
  • 1 large bunch fresh spinach leaves, washed
  • 1 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add spaghetti pasta and cook for about 10 minutes or until done to preference; drain.
  2. Melt butter in a large pan. Add cream and mix well while heating. Add salt, pepper and garlic salt. Increase heat to medium and add grated cheese. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce has thickened.
  3. Add fresh, cleaned spinach leaves and cook a few minutes until limp.
  4. Add spaghetti to sauce. Be sure it is thoroughly coated. Serve immediately.


Spiced Winter Squash

Spiced Winter Squash
Use butternut, acorn, hubbard, or any of the yellow winter squashes for this dish. It is excellent if you blend a variety of squashes, including pureed cooked pumpkin.
Serves: 4
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 4 cups cooked, mashed or pureed winter squash
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp. ground mace
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine
  • ½ cup brown sugar, well packed
  • ¼ cup fine bread crumbs
  • 3 Tbs. melted butter or margarine
  1. Mix the squash with the salt, coriander, mace, ginger and flour. turn into a buttered 1-quart shallow casserole. Drizzle with 2 Tbs. melted butter.
  2. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar.
  3. Mix the bread crumbs with the 3 Tbs. melted butter. Sprinkle over the squash. (Recipe may be made ahead to this point and refrigerated.)
  4. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until crumbs are golden and sugar has melted.
Good served with Roast chicken or turkey and wild or brown rice.


Bean and Vegetable Medley

Bean and Vegetable Medley
A variety of beans makes this a nutritious, high in protein and tasty main course. If you wish to change it into a non-vegetarian main dish, add your favorite sausages before final baking.
Recipe type: Vegetarian
Serves: 4
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 3 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 medium green pepper, cut into strips
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cans (15½ oz. each) red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 pkg. (10 9z..) frozen baby lima beans
  • 1 cup quick-cooking barley
  • ⅔ cup chopped parsley
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dried basil leaves
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 2 Tbs. grated Cheddar cheese
  1. Heat oil in large skillet. Add onion, celery and green pepper. Cook slowly for 10 minutes. Do not brown.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, kidney beans, lima beans, barley, parsely, salt, basil and black pepper.
  3. Transfer mixture to a buttered 2 to 3 quart casserole with lid. Add boiling water. Cover.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 1½ hours or until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle with grated cheese before serving.
Good served with marinated, slightly blanched mixed vegetables, hot French bread and butter.


Crisp Crusted Baked Chicken

Crisp Crusted Baked Chicken
This family favorite oven-baked "fried" chicken is quick to prepare or can be made in advance, except for the baking.
Recipe type: Poultry
  • 1 frying chicken, 3 to 3½ lbs. cut up
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbs. milk
  • 1 cup instant potato flakes
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup butter or margarine
  1. Wash chicken pieces and pat dry. Set aside.
  2. Beat egg and milk in bowl.
  3. In another bowl mix potato flakes, garlic salt and Parmesan cheese.
  4. Roll chicken first in egg mix, then in the potato flakes mixture.
  5. Melt butter in shallow baking pan. Roll coated chicken pieces in the butter and place them skin side up in the pan.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until juices from thighs run clear when pierced with a fork.
  8. For a guest meal, you may substitute 6 to 8 chicken breasts for the whole chicken.


Around the World with Seasonings

Herbs, spices and other seasonings are a natural and healthy way to add a lot of flavor to your recipes without adding a lot of extra calories. With a little practice, you can create an endless variety of delicious recipes, such as Mediterranean-inspired favorites bursting with the fresh flavors of lemon, garlic and rosemary and spicy Mexican dishes featuring cilantro, cumin and chili powder.

Of course, your options won’t end there. A wide range of herbs, spices and seasonings are used throughout the world to make food taste better, and in some cases, last longer. Over time, certain flavors have come to represent the culinary identity of the areas where they originated. In large part, the seasonings you choose will define the direction of your own culinary development, as well.

With a little creativity, you can put a fresh spin on some of your favorite tried-and-true recipes by simply swapping out the herbs, spices and seasonings you use. For example, if you add fresh or dried basil or oregano to diced tomatoes, chopped onion and finely minced garlic, you have the makings of a wonderful red Italian pasta sauce. On the other hand, if you replace the basil and oregano with cilantro and lime juice, those same ingredients become the foundation for a fabulous homemade salsa recipe.

To help inspire you, the following chart shows some of the most popular culinary ingredients based on geographic region.

Most Popular Kitchen Seasonings From Around the World

Cuisine: Popular Herbs, Spices & Seasonings

basil, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, parsley

thyme, French tarragon, rosemary, basil, sage, mint, marjoram

dill, lemon, oregano, fennel

saffron, smoked and regular paprika, rosemary, thyme

mustard, rye, caraway seeds, borage

cilantro, chili powder, cumin, Mexican oregano

curry powder, coriander, cumin, turmeric

five-spice powder, star anise, fennel seed, cloves, cinnamon, ginger

Thai basil, cumin, turmeric, lemon grass, cinnamon

Of course, this chart is far from comprehensive, but it can serve as a good reference point for assembling your own collection of must-have herbs, spices and seasonings.

Keep in mind, some herbs, spices and seasonings, such as salt, black pepper and garlic, have an almost universal appeal that isn’t limited by geographic borders. Chances are you will notice those items popping up in recipes from all over the world. As a result, you may want to keep an adequate supply of these basic ingredients in your own pantry or spice rack.

You will also see a lot of crossover among dishes from countries that border one another. For example, French, Italian, Greek and Spanish dishes often feature many of the same herbs, such as basil, rosemary, oregano and thyme. Of course, this isn’t surprising when you consider how these populations interacted with and melded together over the course of history. Depending on your personal tastes and cooking habits, these ingredients may be good to keep on hand, as well.

While assembling your own collection of herbs, spices and seasonings from around the world, remember you can save money by growing your own. Fresh herbs are super easy to grow from seed or from cuttings in your own garden and many can be brought indoors for year-round enjoyment. However, if growing fresh herbs isn’t your thing, many popular fresh and dried varieties are readily available. Dried herbs can be a great alternative to fresh, but take note of expiration dates and suggested storage methods. Dried herbs, spices and seasonings can be quite expensive, so buy smaller amounts at one time if you won’t be using them often.