Thursday, April 26, 2012

Beef & Avocado Loaves

This are fun to make! I don't know about you, but I love a hamburger with avocado.. or maybe a meatloaf with avocado. If you're in a creative mood one night and want to try something new and delicious, give this a shot! Why settle for a boring old meatloaf, anyway? right!?

Beef & Avocado Loaves


3/4 - 1 pound lean ground beef
3 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup tomato-based chili sauce
1 egg
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup shredded Jack Cheese
2 tablespoons seeded and diced canned green chilies
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and halved.


1. Mix together ground beef, bread crumbs, 1/4 cup of chili sauce, egg, onion, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire.

2. Divide mixture into 4 equal portions and flatten each of them into an oval patty about 5 inches long.

3. Stuff cheese evenly into avocado halves and place each, cheese side down, on a beef patty. Top with remaining patties and pinch together to enclose avocado.

4. Place, flat side down, on a rimmed baking sheet.

5. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.

6. Top with a little ketchup & parsley to garnish.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cooking Tip #24

Cooking with Apples

  • Store apples in a crisper in the refrigerator to retain quality.
  • About 3 medium apples equals 1 pound.
  • One pound of apples, when diced, will yield about 3 cups.
  • About 2 pounds of apples are needed for one 9-inch pie.
  • To prevent the cut surface of an apple from browning, dip it in lemon or orange juice.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cauliflower-Garlic Soup

I found this recipe in a wonderful little cookbook called Soups, Stews & Casseroles: Food Writers Favorites. I was concerned that the garlic would be overwhelming... I mean, 20 cloves of garlic seems like a lot, right?! Well, you hardly taste it... trust me. The recipe is by Lorrie Guttman, food editor for the Tallahassee Democrat in Florida. She writes, " Garlic becomes surprisingly mellow as it cooks, and the 20 cloves in this soup are just right. "

This soup is also great served cold.

Cauliflower-Garlic Soup


20 cloves garlic, peeled
5 cups chicken broth (homemade or canned)
1 large head cauliflower (8 cups florets)
salt & white pepper, to taste
1 cup half-and-half or light cream
pinch of nutmeg


1. In a covered soup pot, simmer garlic in broth for 20 minutes.

2. Add cauliflower, salt and white pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes.

3. Break up cauliflower with a spoon. Taste and adjust seasonings.

4. Stir in half-and-half, stir and simmer for an addition 10 minutes.

5. Top with a pinch of nutmeg and serve.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cooking Tip # 23

"Bacon can be easily baked in the oven, resulting in amazingly flat slices. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place a rack inside a baking sheet. Lay out slices and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on desired doneness level. Voila! Crispy bacon with no curls. First of all, the splatters not only make a royal mess, but also cause flares. Secondly, it requires much more attention."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Crockpot Beef Bourguignon

The French know how to cook - and any time I hear the words "Beef Bourguignon" I instantly start to salivate. This is my crockpot take on the well known traditional French recipe - inspired by the late, great Julia Child and others. I love using my slow cooker, especially for this recipe. I'm no expert, but I believe that the time it takes to let this cook allows the flavors to blend much more harmoniously and generates all those wonderful flavors that ping your taste buds. You can make this in the morning, after breakfast, and by dinner time it should be finished - the only thing you'd have to make are the mashed potatoes or steamed rice. If your cooking to impress or cooking for fun, try this approach and you'll be pleasantly surprised!

Crockpot Beef Bourguignon


2 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 strips of bacon, reserving the bacon fat
16oz bag of whole frozen carrots
1 bag/box of frozen pearl onions
1 can of Campell's Golden Mushroom Soup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 - 2 cups button mushrooms
All-purpose flour


1. In bowl, cover the beef cubes in about 1 cup of flour - making sure each cube is well coated. Shake off any excess flour from each cube and set aside.

2. In a pan, cook 6 strips of bacon until crispy. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.

3. Cook the flour coated beef cubes in the bacon fat until both sides are brown.

4. Transfer pan to a crockpot and pour the cooked beef cubs inside, along with any extra bacon fat. Add minced garlic, mushrooms, frozen carrots and pearl onions.

5. In a bowl, combined 1 cup of red wine (I recommend a cabernet), 1 can of Golden Mushroom Soup, 4 tablespoons of tomato paste, and 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce. Whisk together until well blended and pour over beef and vegetables in the crockpot.

6. Add 1 bay leaf. Cover and let cook for 8-9 hours on LOW heat... or 5-6 on HIGH heat.

7. Served over a bed of creamy mashed potatoes and a side of roasted rosemary-garlic Brussels sprouts.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cooking Tip # 22

"On a practical level, in a Ziploc bag, freeze all vegetable matter that would be thrown away (i.e., carrot peels, onion skins, asparagus ends) and make vegetable stock from it. On a more philosophical level, always make food that will make guests look forward to the next invitation." - Dawn Casale

Friday, April 6, 2012

Black Bean Salsa

This is a wonderful, healthy snack for parties, potlucks or appetizers. You can serve this with lettuce to make a healthy salad, have by itself or use it as mildly sweet salsa. It's not much to look at, but the combined flavors of all these simple ingredients are quite good.

Black Bean Salsa


2 cans black beans
1 can sweet corn
2 tablespoons red onion, diced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 avocado, chopped
1 small tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro or parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground pepper.


1. In a large bowl add all ingredients. Stir. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.

2, Serve on a bed of romaine lettuce or serve with tortilla chips as a salsa.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Grilled Bruschetta

I could probably eat freshly made bruschetta everyday. It's so simple to make and within 20 minutes you can have a healthy snack or appetizer. Make sure you check out your local bakery to find the perfect type of bread - an Italian loaf or French baguette work well. I personally think this tastes better with a glass of red wine whilst listening to your favorite Italian opera... but that's just me! ;-)

Grilled Bruschetta


3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 medium tomatoes, chop - 2 cups
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppered
Grated Parmesan cheese

A few slices of a French baguette, Italian loaf, or Parmesan bread


1. Stir the oil, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, garlic, black pepper, basil and tomatoes in a bowl. Let the mixture stand for at least 15 minutes or until the flavors are blended well.

2. Lightly oil the grill rack and heat the grill to medium.

3. Grill the toast slices for 2 minutes or until they're browned and heated through, turning once.

4. Divide the tomato mixture evenly among the toast slices. Sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese over each slice. Serve right away.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cooking Tip #21

"Want to know if your oil is hot enough for frying? Here’s a tip: Stick a wooden skewer or spoon in the oil. If bubbles form around the wood, then you are good to go."
- Aaron McCargo, Jr., Big Daddy’s House