December 28, 2009

Warm Spinach Artichoke Dip

  • 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. In a blender or food processor, place artichoke hearts, Romano cheese, Parmesan cheese and garlic . Pulse until chopped, but not ground. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together spinach, heavy cream, sour cream and mozzarella cheese. Stir in artichoke mixture. Spoon into prepared baking dish.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

December 16, 2009

Butternut Squash Risotto


  • 1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.
  • In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the pancetta and shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter.
  • Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  • Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes.
  • Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total.
  • Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan.
  • Mix well and serve.

Chocolate Brownie Cake

Chocolate Brownie Cake


  • 1/2 pound butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Chocolate Buttermilk Frosting, recipe follows


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) cake pans, then line with parchment paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix until thoroughly combined.
Into a medium mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and cocoa powder together.
In a small mixing bowl whisk the buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla together.
While the mixer is on low speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the liquid ingredients.
Divide the cake batter evenly among the 2 prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the edges of the cake just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 to 35 minutes.
Transfer the cakes to a cooling rack and allow the cakes to cool in the pans. Carefully remove the cakes from the pans and frost as usual for a layered cake with the Chocolate Buttermilk Frosting.
Chocolate Buttermilk Frosting:
1 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
8 ounces cream cheese
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the butter, cocoa powder and cream cheese over low speed and mix until thoroughly combined. Increase speed to high and cream ingredients until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar, buttermilk, and vanilla. Beat until mixture is smooth and thoroughly combined.
Frost cake as usual.

December 5, 2009

Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwich

  • 4 Slices of Sourdough Bread
  • Butter
  • Garlic Salt
  • 4 slices of White Cheddar
  • 2 slices of Havarti cheese
  • 2 slices of Guyere Cheese
  • sliced pepperoncini
honey mustard
sliced onions
thinly sliced ham

1. Butter 1 side of each slice of sourdough bread and sprinkle with garlic salt
2. Flip the bread over and layer 1 slice of Cheddar, pepper rings, Guyere, Harvarti and another slice of cheddar.
3. Heat a shallow pan over medium heat. Add sandwiches and cook on one side until the cheese starts to melt, then flip over. Each side should be golden brown and the cheese on the inside should be melted before serving.
Open and slip in your optional ingredients. Enjoy!

Tomato Bisque

• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1 tablespoon minced bacon (about 1/2 ounce)
• 1 Spanish onion, chopped
• 1 carrot, chopped
• 1 stalk celery, chopped
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 5 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
• 1 (28-ounce) can whole, peeled tomatoes (with liquid), roughly chopped
• 3 parsley sprigs
• 3 fresh thyme sprigs
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until crisp and most of the fat has rendered, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
2. Lower the heat to medium, add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 8 minutes.
3. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.
4. Pour in the broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil while whisking constantly.
5. Tie the parsley sprigs, thyme, and bay leaf together with a piece of kitchen twine and add to the pot. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
6. When the soup base is cool, remove and discard the herb bundle.
7. Working in batches, transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth.
8. Using a sieve over a large bowl, strain the tomato puree. Return the puree to the pot and reheat over medium heat.
9. Whisk the heavy cream and salt into the soup and season with pepper to taste.
10. Divide among warm soup bowls and serve immediately.

November 28, 2009

Jasmine Rice

I love the smell and flavor of Jasmine Rice.  Jasmine rice, sometimes known as Thai fragrant rice, is a long-grain variety of rice that has a nutty aroma and a subtle floral-like fragrance.      Jasmine rice is originally from Thailand.  The grains will cling when cooked, though it is less sticky than other rice.  


* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 2 tablespoons chopped onion
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 1/2 cups dry jasmine rice
* 3 cups chicken broth
* salt and pepper to taste
Optional: Fresh cilantro or parsley.  


  1.  In a large saucepan over a medium-low heat, warm the oil. 
  2. Add onion and saute for 3 to 5 minutes. Mix in bay leaf, and jasmine rice. Stir to coat the rice.
  3. Pour broth into the saucepan and add the salt. 
  4. Increase the heat to medium and have it come to a boil.  Cover. 
  5. Reduce heat to low and let rice simmer lightly, approximately 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed. 
  6. Salt and pepper to taste. Add any fresh herbs. 
Serve with braised meats, stir fry, or alone as a side dish. 

November 9, 2009

Butternut Squash Bisque


  • 3 to 3 1/2 pounds butternut squash, approximately 2, seeded and quartered
  • Unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Place the quartered squash onto a half sheet pan, brush the flesh of the squash with a little butter and season with 1 tablespoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the white pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 30 to 35 minutes or until the flesh is soft and tender.
3. Scoop the flesh from the skin into a 6-quart pot.
4. Add the broth, honey and ginger.
5. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, approximately 7 to 8 minutes.
6. Using a stick blender, puree the mixture until smooth.
7. Stir in the heavy cream and return to a low simmer. 
Season with the remaining salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

October 26, 2009

H1N1 Home Prevention Tips: Unique and Interesting

Swine Flu Home Remedy
Dr. Vinay Goyal is a renowned doctor who visited last week to lecture on the
topic H1N1 (SWINE FLU), its origin and precautions.
To summarize, Dr. Goyal reported that virus H1N1, like other Influenza A
viruses, only infects the upper respiratory tract and proliferates only there. The
only portals of entry are the nostrils and mouth/ throat. In a global epidemic of this
nature, it's almost impossible not coming into contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions.
Contact with H1N1 is not so much of a problem as proliferation is.
Will a face mask protect? What most N95 respirators are designed to filter is
about 95% particulates of 0.3, while the size of H1N1 virus is about 0.1. Hence,
dependence on N95 to protect against H1N1 is like protecting against rain with an
umbrella made of mosquito net.
Tamiflu drug does not kill the virus, but it prevents H1N1 from further proliferation
till the virus limits itself in about 1-2 weeks during the virus’ natural cycle.
While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection,
in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of
secondary infections, some very simple steps not fully highlighted in most official
communications - can be practiced:
1. Frequent hand-washing.
2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach except to eat, bathe, etc.
3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don't trust
salt). H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate
and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation.
In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that
Tamiflu has on an infected person. Don't underestimate this simple, inexpensive
and powerful preventative method.
4. Clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water, swabbing
both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringingdown viral population. BLOW YOUR NOSE HARD SEVERAL TIMES A DAY.
5. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C, or
Vitamin C tablets that contain Zinc to boost absorption.
6. Drink as much of warm liquids as you can. Drinking warm liquids has the
same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating
viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive.

September 25, 2009

The True Value of Your Home: Part 1

When you cook nutritious, tasty meals for your family, you are pointing them to the One who feeds the hungry and who satisfies thirsty souls with Himself. You’re giving them an appetite for Him.
And when you go to the time and effort to be sure that your husband and your kids have adequate clothing that fits, you are pointing them toward the One who clothes us with His righteousness.
See, every aspect of homemaking is meant to reflect some spiritual, eternal truth that we’re trying to picture to our world.
Domesticity. “What in the world does that word mean?” It’s related to the word domestic, home-centered, having a heart for home. It has to do with being devoted to home, having a heart for home, being domestically inclined. One Bible dictionary says, “It’s an efficient management of household responsibilities.” This has to do with the concept of a woman who is not idle in her home, but she’s actively involved in the life of her home and in household duties.
As soon as we get on this whole concept of women working at home, being keepers at home, first of all it’s a concept that’s increasingly foreign in our ure. Secondly, it’s very controversial because for the last fifty years or more there has been a concerted effort to pull women out of their homes and to say that what you do in your home is not nearly as significant as what you do outside of your home in terms of your worth, your value, your significance, your contribution to the society.
Throughout the book of Titus we see how the lives of believers are supposed to be in marked contrast to the lives of those who do not believe. Our lives are supposed to stand out from the rest of the ure. We’re supposed to be different. We’re supposed to be counter-cultural, swimming upstream as salmon, as we have often said on this program.
So where is the stream going? Our ure is characterized by things like , promiscuity, greed, lying, gluttony, debauchery, drunkenness, rebellion, and hatred. All of those things you read about in the book of Titus, by the way.
The world is supposed to be able to look at the church and see a massive difference. We’re supposed to be characterized by just the opposite of those things—love, gentleness, purity, self-control, truthfulness, submissiveness, well-ordered family relationship.
One of the things that is supposed to characterize Christian women is a heart for the home—what was known in the 19th century as the virtue of domesticity. That’s an important virtue for women in every era, starting when the Scripture was written. But I believe it is today in our generation an especially crucial means of revealing the heart of the gospel.
In the 21st century, for various reasons, women by and large spend most of their time in activities and pursuits outside their homes. At best, home or house is not much more than a physical structure where people park their bodies at night, and then people are often running in a hundred different directions the rest of the time. That’s at best.
At worst many homes, so called, and more importantly the people that live in them, show signs of neglect and are in utter disarray. And then at the other extreme you also have people who worship their homes. So they have designer homes that could be on magazine covers but in many cases have really broken fractured family relationships in those homes.
When we talk about working in the home, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to grind your own wheat or make your own bread. It doesn’t mean necessarily that you have a basement full of fruits and vegetables that you’ve grown and picked and canned.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that you make a quilt for every one of your children and your grandchildren. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you sew your own clothes and your kids’ clothes or that you stencil borders on their bedroom walls. Although, if you enjoy doing those things and those are things that minister to and bless your family, great!
What it does mean—working at home—is that you are devoted to managing and meeting the needs of your family. So this woman is working. Where is she doing it? Where is her job? It’s at home. She’s working at home.
That doesn’t mean she never leaves her house. It does mean that her efforts, her productivity, her contribution are based first and foremost out of her home, that her home is the primary sphere of her influence and efforts.
This says something about her priorities, about what matters to her, about the focus of her attention. I want to be quick to say that home working or working at home does not mean necessarily that you can’t have activities or even employment outside your home.In fact, we need to be careful not to speak where Scripture does not speak and not to impose on others an application of Scriptural truth that the Lord may have led us to make in our own lives. We need to realize that each of these principles, including working at home, may look different for different women at different seasons of their lives.

*Excerpted from a transcript of Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss

September 24, 2009

Vegetable Wrap with Red Pepper hummus

One of my favorite lunch items is a fresh vegetable wrap with lots of mixed greens.  I vary the wrap ingredients  based on whats in the fridge, or what I am craving.  You can substitute any of the vegetables for your favorites.  I love the combination of creamy hummus and avocado with the crunch of the onion and red pepper.  When I develop a recipe, I am always concentrating on the flavors AND textures that works well together.  I'm a bit picky that way.


1 red pepper flavored tortilla, or other favorite sandwich wrap
1 slice Gruyere cheese (optional)
2 Tbsp. red pepper hummus
1/2  cup of Spring mix or other greens
4-5 thin slices of cucumber or pickle
Thinly sliced red onion
Thinly sliced sweet red pepper
1/4 thinly sliced avocado (instructions for prepping avocados)
2-3 grape tomatoes, sliced
Vinaigrette of choice

Mix salad greens with sliced vegetables and avocado

  1. Place wrap on a plate 
  2. Top with Gruyere 
  3. Warm in microwave 7 seconds
  4. Spread the hummus over the tortilla
  5. Add salad mixture.
  6. Wrap tightly and enjoy with your favorite salad or chip.

August 20, 2009

Farm Fresh Salsa

This is my very favorite way to make salsa.  Fresh from the Farmers Market, no cooking involved. I like my salsa thin, not chunky,  but you can make it however you like. 

  • 10 cups cherry tomatoes or tomatoes of your choice.
  • 2 large Vidalia onions
  •  3 jalapenos
  •  8 cloves garlic
  •  Juice of 5 limes
  •  1 ½ cup chopped cilantro
  •  Salt and pepper

1. In a food processor, pulse or chopped vegetables to desired consistency.
2. Pour into mixing bowl.
3. Add lime juice.
4. Salt and pepper to taste
5. With a sieve, strain over a bowl. Pour leftover salsa into jars. You may spoon some  remaining liquid into the jars with your salsa if you like a more liquid consistency like I do.
6. If you still have more leftover juice, use it for a base in homemade tomato soup or Bloody Mary mix.

August 18, 2009

Grilled Chicken and Mango Salad

  • 1 head of Romain lettuce
  • 1 head of bibb lettuce
  • 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1/2 small red onion, slivered
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, sliced
  • 1 mango, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Optional:  Sliced avocado
For the Dressing:
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar  
  • salt and freshly  pepper 
  1. Wash and tear lettuce and place on a platter or large bowl.
  2. Place thin slices of chicken, vegetables and mango around the plate and on top of the greens to make a nice platter.
  3. Sprinkle with cilantro
  4. Make dressing and shake well.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

This is a great all purpose recipe for a healthy sweet bread or muffin. My boys love the chocolate chips.  I have made this with banana instead of zucchini, which makes it a bit sweeter. The whole wheat flour makes it a hardier, healthier muffin, but you can substituent any type of flour.  
  • 2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cane sugar (prefer Sugar in the Raw)
  • ½ cup agave nectar
  • 1 cup safflower or olive oil
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate until melted. Stir occasionally until chocolate is smooth.
  2. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, agave nectar, grated zucchini, vanilla and chocolate; beat well. 
  3. Stir in the flour baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a loaf comes out clean.

August 17, 2009

Mole Cheesecake

If you want to wow some guests or arrive at a gathering with
something special, this a must try!
Last week at the Farmer's Market in Holland, Michigan,
I tried a Mole Cheesecake
with some breads and crackers. It was fabulous and interesting.
Something new. The vendor was promoting their spice
rubs and dip mixtures.
Here is the recipe.

16 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter cracker crumbs, more for garnish
1 tsp. lime juice
2 large eggs
3 TBSP. Mole Spice Rub (see below)
1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
3/4 cup cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray 6" spring-pan with cooking spray.  Pour butter crumbs into pan, swirl to coat bottom and sides evenly.
  2. Blend cream cheese and lime juice until smooth.
  3. Add eggs one at a time.
  4. Add the spice rub and cocoa powder, mixing thoroughly.
  5. Fold in Cheddar cheese.
  6. Pout into prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes.  
  7. Let cool and serve at room temperature with crackers.  Enjoy!
   Mole spice rub (This is enough to use several times).
  • 1 tablespoon dried ancho chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

August 16, 2009


I would love for people to post suggestions for this Blog. I have so much to post, I don't know where to begin! I want to be relevant and encouraging. So, please come often and be patient as I seek to come up with a plan.
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