Monday, March 29, 2010

Not Your Typical Tin Foil Dinner

I am sure that most of you will not be shocked to know that I dislike almost everything about camping. One of the things I DO like is the food---there is something kind of fun about fixing your food over a campfire. I always loved the tin foil dinners we used to make. Ours were made with potatoes, hamburger, carrots and a little seasoning. When I found this recipe, I thought it sounded like a nice spin on the traditional tin foil dinners---and the best thing about it: no camping required!! I made them for dinner last night and they were a big hit! They are also healthier than their traditional counterparts (so you won't have to wait until you are off your diet to try this one, Auntie V!)

Foil Pack Taco Chicken

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay out several (one for each dinner you want to make) pieces of heavy duty foil (If you don't have heavy duty, two layers of the normal kind will work). On each piece, layer the following:

1 medium red potato, thinly sliced
1 chicken breast (about 3.5 oz) rubbed with 1 tsp taco seasoning
2 T Salsa
2 T Cheese

Fold up sides and ends of foil, sealing the packet, but leaving room at the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes. Puncture foil with a knife, to release the steam, then open and enjoy! Top with fat-free sour cream, if desired.

If made with fat-free cheddar cheese, each packet contains 300 calories, 37 g protein, 27 g carb, 4 g fat

Friday, March 26, 2010

Smoked gouda macaroni and cheese

I (Sylvia) tried this recipe tonight and we fell in love with the mild smoky taste. wonderful!
This recipe comes out of a Colorado cook book and serves four.

2 cups dry elbow macaroni
1 T butter
2 cloves garlic
2 T flour
2 cups whole milk (I used 1% milk)
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/2 C shredded fontina cheese
1/3 C freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
5 C coarsely chopped fresh spinach
1/4 C smoked Gouda cheese
2 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 t olive oil
1/4 C panka bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water; drain and reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually whisk in milk, salt, pepper until blended. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes or unti lthickened. Stir in fontina and Parmesan cheeses until melted. Add spinach and drained macaroni to cheese sauce and stir until well blended. Spoon into a greased 2-quart baking dish. If mixture seems dry, add some of the pasta water. Sprinkle with Gouda cheese and bacon, mix olive oil with bread crumbs and sprinkle on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly.

I just cumbled up fresh french bread for my bread crumbs, and used the oil to coat them.

Here's the bad news. 475 calories, 19 g saturated fat, 53 mg cholesterol 740 mg sodium
53 g carbohydrates, 8 g sugar, 3 g fiber, 22 g protein.

OK, this isn't something that you are going to have every night, that would be BAD, but once in a while would be fine. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dr. Phil Mac n Cheese

This is a "healthy" Mac and Cheese recipe from Dr. Phil. I haven't actually tried it yet---it is from my stack of recipes to try--but it looks tasty and the other recipes I have tried of his have been pretty good.

Mac and Cheese

2 C skim milk

1 T whole-wheat flour

6 oz shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese

1 ½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp sweet paprika

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp grated nutmeg

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

8 canned artichoke hearts, packed in water, drained, rinsed and roughly chopped

3 C cooked whole-wheat elbow macaroni

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 1 ½ quart high-sided, round baking dish with Pam and set aside.

Heat milk in large saucepan set over medium-low heat. When small bubbles appear around the edge of the pan, whisk in the whole-wheat flour.C ontinue cooking and whisking until thickened, about 20 seconds. Stir in cheese and cook, stirring until it melts and the mixture is smooth.

Stir in the onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt, nutmeg, and pepper; then stir in the artichoke hears and macaroni. Cook just until heated through, about 30 seconds.

Mound the mixture into the prepared baking dish and press down lightly to compact. Bake until bubbling and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Per Serving: 183 calories, 18 g Protein, 27 g Carb, trace Fat

Here is MY (Megan's) version of Fancy Mac

I prefer to use Rigatoni or Ziti noodles, but any short, macaroni noodle would work for this recipe.

1 box Ziti pasta
1/2 lb. Gruyère Cheese
1/4-1/3 lb. Monterey Jack or white cheddar
1/2 C butter
1/2 C flour
1/2 C milk
bread crumbs (I use italian style)
fresh or dried Parmesan

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter on medium high heat. Add the flour and wisk together cook for about 30 seconds stirring constantly. Add the milk, Gruyère, and Monterey and stir until smooth. If you prefer a creamier more liquid sauce, add more milk. Reduce heat the medium low, until your noodles are ready.

Cook the macaroni noodles until tender--do not rinse. Set oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the cheese sauce with the macaroni noodles and pour into a casserole dish. Top the noodles and cheese with the bread crumbs and Parmesan (and butter if you want it to brown and be more crunchy), and let it cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is golden.

The good thing about this dish is even though it has a ridiculous amount of high fat cheese, you can eat very little of it and be totally satisfied.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Let the Macaroni Wars Begin

Who doesn't like macaroni and cheese?
A few weeks ago I came across this macaroni recipe in a Southern Living cook book. I made it for dinner last week and thought it was very good, and easy.

Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese

1 (8 ounce) package of elbow macaroni
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups cottage cheese, I used low fat.( cottage cheese may scare some of you, I know my sons would run screaming from the table)
1 (8 ounce) carton sour cream. once again I use low fat.
3 Tablespoons minced onion
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup soft breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 tsp paprika

Cook macaroni until the noodles are firm but not too soft, drain well
Place macaroni, cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, onion, egg, salt, and pepper in a large bowl: stir gently to combine. Spoon macaroni mixture into a lightly greased 2-quart casserole.
Combine breadcrumbs, melted butter, and paprika in a small bowl, stirring well. Spread bread crumb mixture diagonally across the top of casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Rave Reviews

My Mother in law and I made Ratatouille and Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream. All in the same day!! Both recipes were fantastic! I really loved the flavors of the Ratatouille and all the veggies make you feel like you are eating a hearty and healthy meal.

With the ice cream recipe we made one small change. Instead of using Baker's chocolate we used Hershey's semi sweet chocolate chips. They chips didn't melt all the way because of the wax they put in the chips. It was more like chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips. Don't get me wrong the ice cream was delicious but it wasn't as smooth as it could have been. But we learned something. There is no substitute for bakers chocolate!

Now I'm off to tackle those delicious leftovers. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Here is a recipe for a Ratatoullie casserole I have perfected. It leaves out the traditional bell peppers, but it is very tasty and actually nutritious. If you can chop stuff up, you can make this recipe.


1/2 pound bacon (chopped)
1 large to medium yellow onion (diced)
5 fresh medium tomatoes, diced (or one can of diced)
1 small can of tomato paste
1/3 C vegetable or canola oil
3 cloves of fresh garlic (chopped or pressed)
2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning ( or your preferred seasoning for tomato sauce)

1 large Eggplant (peeled and diced)
4 small zucchini
and 2 yellow squash (diced; you can use whatever combination of the two squashes you like)
sharp cheddar cheese (sliced)

Cut the bacon into small pieces and fry with medium heat in a large skillet. Cook until all the fat has rendered out completely and bacon is crispy. Add the diced yellow onion and saute until the onion is translucent. Add the fresh diced or canned diced tomatoes, the tomato paste, garlic, oil, and Italian seasoning. Stir until all are combined and simmer on medium low until the tomatoes are cooked.

Peel and Dice the eggplant. and dice the zucchini. Layer the ingredients like a lasagna: half the sauce, half the eggplant and zucchini, then cover with a layer of sliced cheddar cheese, and repeat the layers.

Cook uncovered at 375 degrees for about 45-50 minutes. The cheese should be beginning to brown.

I serve this with semolina pasta and fresh Parmesan cheese, but you could serve it with egg noodles, or eat it by itself with blanched veggies as a side.

Happy eating,

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Daughters and cooking

The last few days my husband and I have been able to spend some alone time with our two grown daughters, Alicia and Megan. This is a rare and wonderful treat for parents when their children leave home and have families of their own. We managed to do all the things that we love to do together as a family. We talked about our favorite books, went to a play and a movie, and remembered all the silly things that we have done over the years. We went thrift store shopping, found cool rocks at a lapidary store and even did a craft project. We made fun of our family idiosyncrasies, we laughed, talked, and we also spent time cooking great food. In the midst of the discussions, we decided to create a family recipe blog. Anyone related to me can add a recipe. You just need to contact me and get the details on how to get into the proper area.

So, here is the first recipe!

This is an ice cream recipe that I am dedicating to my two chocolate loving daughters-in-law Rachelle and Tobi. Rachelle is on a beach in Hawaii, and Tobi is the one who cute-a-fied this blog. I love them both.

All of my ice cream recipe's are for a counter top ice cream maker.
They are simple, great, and easy to use. No ice, no salt, and they make about one quart of ice cream. I have two of them and threw out my old Ice cream maker. The brand I use is a Cuisinart and you can buy a two bowel model at Costco.

We made this with two people, which turned out great since there are some things that either need to be done ahead, or done at the same time. If you want to make this successfully on your own, make sure to prepare everything beforehand otherwise you'll have burnt cocoa, scrambled eggs, and no good ice cream.

Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream

1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a small mixing bowl beat the sugar into the eggs yolks until thickened and pale yellow. Set aside. This takes between 2 to 3 minutes with an electic mixer.

Bring the milk to a simmer in a heavy, medium size saucepan. Whisk in the cocoa and bring the milk back to a simmer. Simmer 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly beat the hot milk and cocoa into the eggs and sugar. Pour the entire mixture back into the pan and place over low heat. Stir constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon until the custard thickens slightly. Be careful not to let the mixture boil or the eggs will scramble. Remove from the heat and pour the hot chocolate custard through a strainer into a large, clean bowl. Set aside while you prepare the ganache.

Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Immediately remove from the heat and pour the cream over the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth (it takes a while). Combine the chocolate mixtures, then stir in the vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until cold, or overnight.

Stir the chilled custard, then freeze in your ice cream machine.

The easiest part to mess up is when adding the eggs to the milk. If it even boils for a second it will turn into a chocolate omelet. However, your efforts will not be in vain: this is the most beautiful, creamy dark chocolate ice cream ever. We ate it with a small scoop of coconut ice cream, which will be posted at a later date.

If you have any problems making the custard, don't give up! And be thinking of recipies you would like to add.


Let the cooking commence!

We here at the Wilkinson Center: Parker Extension have decided it is high time we had our own cooking blog. it is! If you would like the password to post your own delicious recipies, contact Sylvia Wilkinson, and she'll hook you up.