Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.

As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.

Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Friday, December 3, 2010

mache lettuce salad with walnuts and parmesan wafers

by using mache lettuce greens, walnuts and a parmesan wafer, this simple salad resembles any gourmet salad served in a restaurant. to make the parmesan wafer, finely shread parmesan cheese into a bowl.  prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper, so the cheese will not stick or burn to the sheet while baking.

next, place small rounds of the cheese on the paper and decorate the wafers with parsley, dill, or any other fresh herb of choice.  dried herbs work well also, but if fresh herbs are available, choose those first.  then, bake the wafers in the oven on 350 degrees for just a few minutes.  perhaps only two to three depending on your oven.  watch these carefully, as the wafers will burn quickly.  it is acceptable to have browned edges, and that effect will add to the crispiness of the wafer.  allow them to dry on the sheet pan and save until ready to assemble the salads. these wafers were made with parsley. i often serve this salad with peppercorn dressing.

chicken fajitas

almost everyone i know makes fajitas, and here is my recipe for an easy weeknight meal.  first, select a whole wheat, low fat, low carb fajita shell.  there are several brands available at the supermarket.  i spray them lightly with canola or olive oil and place on a sheet pan.  when ready to serve, i gently warm them in a 350 degree oven for approximately four or five minutes.  i watch them through the oven door, so they do not become crispy.

i prepare my toppings in advance.  i use shredded cheddar cheese, but a mix of cheeses can also be selected.  chopped black olives, chopped green onions, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes or a salsa, sour cream, and the chicken are prepared.  i usually grill my chicken breasts in advance and slice into thin strips. 

i serve the fajitas with my homemade tomato or Spanish rice and a few tostito chips to accent the place presentation.  when it is serving time, warm the shells with the cheese on top.  remove them from the oven add the toppings, fold and serve.  sometimes, i grill green peppers and the onions on the stove top and add them after i remove the cheese topped shells from the oven.  then, i complete the fajitas with the toppings. 

the homemade Spanish rice complements the meal and some guests will choose to eat the rice with their blue tostito chips.

ice cream or sorbet extracts

when searching for flavorings for making homemade ice cream or sorbets, i highly recommend this brand. made by lorann gourmet. they are often found in gourmet cooking stores or candy making shops. the taste of these extracts are clean without any aftertaste, and provide a rich and flavorful natural taste to the products.

they are available in many flavors and every one i have tried offers a full body flavor and authentic taste. some extracts are clear and others have color, so keep in mind that they may change the color of the ice cream or sorbet.  most recipes suggest using one teaspoon of flavor and that will be sufficient when using this brand.

caramel pecan topping for ice cream

sometimes i need a quick dessert and surrender to a topping by the silver palate.  this caramel pecan topping is one of the best choices served over vanilla ice cream.  i remove the topping from the jar and gently microwave the sauce until just warm and smooth.  pour over vanilla ice cream in an attractive glass dish and your guests will truly enjoy this treat. be certain to take enough time to scoop the ice cream into attractive balls or use an ice cream form which adds to the presentation of the dessert.  no additional nuts are needed since the silver palate provides plenty of large size nuts that are crunchy and especially tasty when warmed. this jar will serve six people.

sometimes desserts can be easy!

spinach and red pepper quiche

one of the ways i incorporated my leftover turkey white meat this year was in this spinach and red pepper quiche.  the crust is made from crunchy bread crumbs and then is layered with mozzarella and Swiss cheese.  i used one ten ounce box of frozen spinach thawed and drained thoroughly on top of the cheese.

then, i added chopped red pepper, the turkey white meat and some chopped onion.  for the quiche filling, i use eggs, half and half and season to taste.  i pour the filling over the mixture and bake at 350 degrees for at least 25 minutes until quiche filling is set.  for this quiche dish, the cooking time is less, since the circumference is wider than the traditional 8 or 10 inch casserole.