Sunday, April 12, 2015

Crack Dip...Really!

I couldn't pass up a recipe named Award Winning "Crack Dip"........who could?  Sounds intriguing. How did it get its name?  Well, Michaela at an Affair from the Heart, says it is so because it is addicting.  It is one of those dips that goes to the party and folks hoover over it and before the evening really gets started, they are gazing at an empty bowl!

I learned about Michaela's blog because she was my assignment for the Secret Recipe Club this month.   She is a gal after my heart...she too is a believer that the family should eat dinner together and she made certain that the family gathered together for the evening meal and, as was often the case at our house, whomever was there or whomever stopped by was also welcome!   There was always plenty of food.  It is the best way to share the day...

I have to admit that as I paged through her blog, I had a really hard time trying to choose which recipe I was going to make.  I really wanted to make her....."the best" Bloody Mary.  Like me she loves her Bloody Mary spicy with a salad on top!  I did get all of the ingredients and I will be making them...  Then I was distracted by her Frozen Triple Berry Lemonade and the Slow Cooker Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole.  But...the Crack Dip kept calling to me.....much like an addiction I imagine, and I hadn't tasted it yet!

For the recipe to really step up and knock you over, it must sit overnight or all day before serving....Michaela suggests twelve hours.  I, of course, couldn't wait....I had some right away and she is really get the full impact of flavors, it needs to rest.  Mr. T and I had it the next day....oh my goodness, I kept hoping it would have an alarm that said, "Please step away from the bowl."   To help myself, I packaged some up and sent it away so others could enjoy the addiction.  "smile"

Crack Dip

Yield:  About 5-6 cups

2 cans Mexicorn, drained
1 can green chiles, drained
1/2 cup Deli-sliced jalapeno peppers, chopped
Tops of 1 to 2 bunches of green onions, sliced (I only used one bunch of onions and included some of the light green onion, too.)
8-ounce package of Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese
1 cup real mayonnaise
1 cup real sour cream
Tortilla chips for serving

Mix together the mayonnaise and sour cream.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and place in the refrigerator.  Let the dip sit at least twelve hours before serving.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Variation:  Since the recipe makes quite a bit of dip...about 5-6 cups, we had a great deal left after our initial fix.  So Mr. T. thought we should use up the last four slices of bacon and add that to the mix...  He chopped up the bacon and cooked until crisp.  After letting it cool, he stirred it in.  Oh my...maybe it is now Crack on Steroids!


No, I do not know what it is about this dip that has one scooping up bite after bite.  But I do know that I will take it to the next party.  I will probably add a few crudities to go along with the tortilla chips...that can be my rationale for eating just one more bite...before the alarm goes off!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

David's Chicken Marsala

Sometimes there are dishes that have a broad appeal.  I think that is the way with David Lebovitz's Chicken Marsala  recipe.  I first saw it on his blog, here.   Then Monique at La Table De Nana tried it and said it was worth making again.  That was followed by Penny at Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen who had also seen Monique's post and made a variation.  Well, there you have it...from my perspective, Chicken Marsala was a must to make.  Monique mentioned that she only used two chicken breasts but didn't reduce the sauce accordingly.  That was a great recommendation and as Monique says, "You can't have too much sauce."  That is what I did...and I agree with Monique!

This is one recipe that I can see being repeated for company or just the two of us.  It was delicious and worthy of numerous repetitions!

Chicken Marsala
adapted from David Lebovitz's blog Living the Sweet Life in Paris

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half crosswise
salt and freshly ground pepper
10 oz mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 tsp corn starch
2/3 cup Marsala wine (preferably dry)
1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp chopped parsley

Place the breasts in a ziplock or between sheets of wax paper and pound to 1/2-inch thickness.  Place in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over high heat.  When butter sizzles, add the sliced mushrooms, season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are seared and cooked through, 6-8 minutes.  Add the minced garlic to the mushrooms and cook, stirring for about a minute.

Scrape the mushrooms and garlic onto a plate.  Wipe the pan clean to remove any bits of garlic.

Dredge half of the chicken in flour, shake off any excess.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter.  Add the chicken in a single layer, do not crowd.  If you are using a large skillet and they won't be crowded, all of the breasts may be cooked at once.

Saute the breasts, cooking and turning midway until browned on both sides.  When browned remove them to a plate.  If cooking half of the chicken at a time, repeat the above with the remaining chicken pieces.  While the chicken is cooking, stir the cornstarch into the chicken stock until completely dissolved, then mix it into the Marsala.

When the chicken has been removed from the pan, pour about one-third of the Marsala mixture into the pan, scraping up any browned bits.  Add the remaining Marsala mixture to the pan, then return the mushrooms and the chicken pieces to the skillet.

Cook the chicken and mushrooms with the sauce over a medium heat.  Turn the chicken pieces occasionally to make certain that they are basted in the sauce.  Continue cooking until the chicken is cooked and the sauce has thickened, about 5-6 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter, the balsamic vinegar and the chopped parsley.  Taste the sauce and season with salt if needed.

Serve the Chicken Marsala with warm, wide noodles.


We had enough left over for a second meal.  We were both sorry to see it disappear!

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Cowboy Vegetable Scramble, Blogger CLUE

It is April....already.  School will be out in eight weeks, the sun will be baking us with its rays and there will be nary a breeze to enjoy.  Geez, the things I have to look forward to...  Sounds pretty depressing, doesn't it?  But, let's enjoy is breezy, there is a possibility of rain and the sun's rays are a welcome warmth.  That sounds like a much better picture and there is a lot to look forward to...

Today, I am looking forward to the Blogger C.L.U.E. reveal day.  It is the second time that I have participated in this group's recipe exchange.  It is so much fun.  So, here's the deal:  1) a blog is assigned; 2) a clue is provided, 3) find a recipe that matches the clue!  This was dreamed up by Liz at That Skinny Kid Can Bake.  Thank you Liz and thank you fellow C.L.U.E. bloggers for sharing some rock solid recipes!

I was so excited to be assigned Making Miracles authored by Rebekah.  I loved her words to live by:

There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.
-Albert Einstein

I quickly started sifting through Rebekah's blog.  I landed on a wonderful beverage...a Red Wine Berry Cooler, very sangria-esque she says...I was sold.  But then, I found a recipes for Baked Potato Skins and Pretzel Bites with Mustard.  Those would go with the Sangria.   But wait, I forgot all about the clue....I needed a vegetable recipe!  Sadly, no wine for me today, no pretzels either.  Back to the recipe index......Then, I found it, Cowboy Scramble.  We had just gotten home from vacation and I hadn't done any major grocery shopping.  This matched the clue and the available groceries!

I made a few adjustments as I was only serving two and added two vegetables that were in the frig in need of a recipe.  We usually do not fry in a large amount of oil so we used our method for preparing the potatoes.  I guess this could become a scramble but I took Rebekah's suggestion and added a fried egg on top!

Cowboy Vegetable Scramble
adapted from Rebekah at Making Miracles

Yield 2 servings

5-6 small white or red potatoes
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 - 1 tsp hot sauce (optional), not Tabasco
1/4 - 1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
6 mushrooms, sliced
1 handful of spinach, trimmed and sliced in strips
4 thin tomato slices
1/3 - 1/2 lb. ground sausage
1 - 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 eggs, fried
1 Tbsp chopped parsley (optional)

Place the potatoes in a skillet and cover with water.  Bring it to a simmer.  Cook until the potatoes are just starting to become soft.  Drain.  Add one tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of olive oil, and hot sauce, if desired.  Continue cooking the potatoes on medium-low heat until soft.  Stirring occasionally.  When soft, remove from heat and set aside.

In another skillet, combine crumbled sausage, onion and pepper and cook until it is no longer pink. Halfway through add the mushrooms and toward the end stir in the spinach.  When the spinach is wilted, add the potatoes and stir to mix. Wipe out the potato skillet.

Top the mixture with the desired amount of cheese.  Cover with a lid and remove from the heat. Allow to sit for five minutes to let the cheese melt and while you fry the eggs in the skillet used for the potatoes.

Dish up the potatoes, sausage and veggies.  Top with two slices of tomato and place the egg on top.
Sprinkle with parsley if desired and serve!

Rebekah, thank you for the great recipe!  We were so jetlagged after our travel, and with our inner clocks so very confused, we had breakfast for dinner.  It was quite is sure to become a family favorite!  Delicious.  I am still going to make the Red Wine Berry Cooler to go with the potato skins and the pretzel bites!

Join me as I check out the April recipes from fellow C.L.U.E. participants!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Surim or Surum - A Forgotten Food

When it comes to Armenian dishes, I seem to always select the one that is "not authentic".  I say that because my neighbor, whom you will remember is Armenian and a fantastic cook, will ever so politely let me know that this may just be a dish that she has never heard of....and, since it can't be found in any of her numerous Armenian cookbooks either, I could surmise that this dish might be an Armenian-American dish.  Maybe it was dubbed Armenian because the family was Armenian and in the 50s the mom was trying to come up a dish that would appeal to kids when they wanted Mac and Cheese for dinner just like their friends at school were having.  It is a thought.....

While that sounds feasible, I decided to do some more digging.  I do love to research and guess what I learned?  This is a for-real dish!  I found it spelled Surum and it was referenced as a "forgotten food"!!  Wait until I tell my neighbor that I found it.

I was reading a post on the Armenian Kitchen that shared a journal entry by Dr. Carolann Najarian. Dr Najarian was active in establishing medical facilities, assistance and training to various regions in Armenia.  On one of her trips, the guide shared with them that they would be served two local specialties at mealtime.  One of them was surum.  Dr. Najarian was thrilled, she described her childhood memories of the dish:
For years we have enjoyed surum (or serim) in or family, but today, few people are familiar with this dish - it is not in any recipe book or on any menu.  It is a forgotten food!  ...I simply could not believe that surum was here, in this desolate town.  During the summer, on the days our grandmother baked the flat round bread on the sheet of zinc - the sahye - over the outdoor fire, she would make surum for lunch.  Some of the flat rounds of bread would be cooked until thoroughly dried and hard making it possible to store the breads for weeks while others were taken off the sahye while still soft.  These she rolled and placed in a large baking pan layered with garlic, butter, and with her own madzoon (yogurt), and then baked.  This is surum!
The traditional method of preparing this dish is labor intensive and may just "take a village" but today with pasta readily available it is a simple side dish that can be enjoyed often.

Surum - The Forgotten Food
adapted from the Gutsy Gourmet and the Armenian Kitchen

Yield:  4-6 servings

3 cloves garlic, chopped
6 Tbsp. butter
2 cups Greek yogurt
1 cup Feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
1 pound orrichetti or other small pasta that will hold the sauce
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley

Saute the garlic in butter.  Do not brown.  When the garlic is soft and translucent, add the yogurt slowly so that it does not curdle.

Add the feta cheese and stir to melt.

Boil the pasta in salted water following package directions.  Drain and place in a serving bowl.

Pour the sauce over the freshly cooked and toss.

Sprinkle the top with the chopped fresh parsley and serve.

Note:  There is not normally cheese in Surum.  It is usually served with just the garlic-yogurt sauce. This recipe included Feta among the ingredients.  If you decide to add the Feta, it is recommended that salt not be added as Feta is usually quite salty.


We really enjoyed this side dish.  It is one that I will definitely make again!  Delicious!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Potato and White Bean Soup with Sage, Blogger CLUE

I am very pleased to be a part of a new recipe exchange group called Blogger C.L.U.E.  Each month members are assigned a blog, a theme and challenged to find a recipe that meets the theme!  How fun is that?!  I love a challenge...I love exploring new blogs....I love to cook....and, I do love to eat new things.  I was so excited to get my first blog assignment:  Anna Dishes.  Anna's blog is packed with "homegrown, flavor-packed recipe creations".  I saw so many dishes that I would prepare that I had a hard time focusing on the theme...and what was the theme for March?  Well, of course, it was the potato!

I tried not to get distracted  by the lovely Salmon with a White Wine Cream Sauce, or the Drunk London Broil...instead I focused on Twice Baked Smashed Potatoes and Balsamic Roasted Fingerling Potatoes.   Then I spied the Potato and White Bean Soup with Sage!  Eureka!

Potato with White Bean Soup with Sage
adapted from Anna Dishes

2 lbs Yukon potatoes
2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, rinsed and chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
8-10 sage leaves, chopped
4 cups chicken broth or stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
4 cans of Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1/2-3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
a splash of white balsamic vinegar (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the leeks, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring frequently until they are very soft but not browned, about 10-12 minutes.  Add the garlic and continue to cook.  Add the sage leaves and saute until the leaves are softened.

Add the potatoes and bay leaves and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Add the stock.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce to a gentle simmer and cover.  Cook until the potatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes.  

Stir in the heavy cream, milk and parmesan.  Stir to blend.  Add the beans and stir to evenly distribute.  Simmer about 10-12 minutes.  Remove the bay leaves.

Remove about three cups of the soup and transfer it to a blender.  Puree and add the mixture back into the soup pot.  Stir well to combine.  Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.  Add the splash of white balsamic vinegar if desired.

1) I only used two cups of dairy as I reduced the amount of heavy cream by one cup.  If you desire more liquid, add the additional cup of cream.  
2) The amount of parmesan is my guesstimate as there wasn't a measurement listed in the recipe. 
3) Instead of removing some of the soup to a blender, I used an immersion blender until it was the desired consistency, being careful to leave some potato chunks and beans!
4) The mister had just finished frying some bacon so I took a few pieces to crumble as a garnish...pretty tasty.  Doesn't everything go better with bacon?  "smile"

Serve hot with crusty bread.

We really enjoyed this soup.  I loved the addition of cannellini beans to the potato soup!  Delicious! We had leftovers the next day and I do believe that the soup was even better the next day.  This soup is worthy of landing a spot on the soup rotation!

Join me to explore the potato recipes that the other Blogger CLUE participants have prepared!


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Southwest Skillet Dip

Are you a fan of the Mexican Layered Dip?  We are.  It is one of those taste combinations that is hard to get enough of...and even harder to make the chips and the dip come out even!  There are many variations of the layered dip but I was especially intrigued by this Southwest Skillet Dip that I found on Miz Helen's blog, Miz Helen's Country Kitchen.  First, I love the idea of making a hot layered dip and second I love the idea of using a skillet!  Miz Helen's blog was my assignment for the Secret Recipe Club this month...and what fun that assignment has been!

I served the Southwest Skillet Dip as an appetizer when we had some friends over for dinner. Everybody enjoyed dipping in to discover what layers just might be under the melted cheese!  I did change it a bit in that when it came out of the oven I added the avocado, tomato and olives along with the sprinkling of green onions. What I missed in it was the salsa and its punch of flavor. I will add a salsa layer the next time I make this....and there will be a next time.

Southwest Skillet Dip

1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed
2 cans roasted green chilies, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped with tops, divided
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/3 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup sour cream
1 cup pepper Jack cheese, grated
1-2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated, separated
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped, for garnish
1 can sliced black olives, for garnish
1 avocado chopped, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400° F.

In a large mixing bowl, add the drained pinto beans, black beans, whole kernel corn, green chilies and 1/2 of the chopped green onions (reserve the remaining onions for garnish). Stir to combine.  Add the sour cream and seasonings.  Mix well.  Stir in the pepper Jack cheese and 1 cup of the cheddar (if desired).

Lightly spray the bottom of a 10 1/2 inch cast iron skillet or a 9 X 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Pour the mixture into the skillet or baking dish.

Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the oven and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese on top. Return to the oven and bake an additional 10 minutes, until the cheese melts and is lightly browned.

Garnish with the avocado, tomato and black olives and then sprinkle with the remaining green onion.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Note:  Adjust the amount of cheese to your liking.  Consider adding a layer of salsa.


As I mentioned earlier, it has been a fun month exploring Miz Helen's blog.  There were quite a few recipes that caught my eye.  I love the garlic mashed potatoes at Buca di Peppo so when I saw a recipe for Buca Garlic Mashed Potatoes I quicked added that recipe to a menu and made them for a Sunday dinner.  (They will appear later this week...)  Then there was the recipe for Smoked Texas Brisket which I pinned for a later time.  Miz Helen offers a big Texas welcome and a cup of tea to those who stop by her blog where she shares simple family friendly meal plans and recipes...and, don't forget to say hi to Max her Bichon who is more than willing to cuddle up while you drink your tea and browse!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tabouli or Tabouleh...It's a Salad!

The first time I ever ate Tabouli was when my daughter made it. It was a wonderful combination of fresh flavors and just the right salad for the meal that she had prepared. It was different and I really enjoyed it. So, when our gourmet group had an Armenian theme menu, I opted to prepare the Tabouli.

Tabouli can prepared anytime of the year as it uses vegetables and herbs that are readily available. Do not you love the verdant green? It just has a spring "feel" to it! Preparing Tabouli Involves lots of chopping but it is worth every bit of time it takes! That said, my daughter was to the rescue again! When she Gave me the garlic mincer that I Mentioned in an Earlier post , she Also Gave me a Microplane Herb Mill . It was the perfect tool to have when finely chopping cups of parsley and mint!


Yield: 12 to 16 servings

2 cups bulgur or cracked wheat
2 cups very hot water
1 cucumber, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
8 green onions, sliced, tops included
1/2 cup chopped fresh minted
2 cups fresh chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
Romaine leaves, separated, washed and dried

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste

In a small bowl, soak the bulgur in the hot water until the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Drain any excess water and squeeze dry.

Prepare the salad dressing and set aside.

Separate, wash and dry the Romaine leaves. Set aside.

Prepare the vegetables and herbs. The key to a good Tabouli is to finely chop the parsley and mint and not to skimp on either of them. Set aside the vegetables and herbs.

Stir the bulgur, vegetables and dressing together in a large bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve the salad chilled or at room temperature. Place the Romaine leaves around a platter. Spoon the Tabouli onto the leaves. Tabouli any remaining mound in the center of the platter.

Notes: There are numerous variations to this dish. A friend adjusts the dressing by adding a little lemon zest, paprika or cumin. It is a matter of taste. My Armenian neighbor Tells me that she keeps the dressing simple Because it is usually Accompanying of foods that may be more spicy.


We enjoyed the Tabouli and had enough left over for lunch the next day! If you are looking for a vegetarian dish and something light and flavorful, you MIGHT want to try Tabouli!