Monday, January 25, 2010

Cancer, Cooking and Klique-ing!

Where have I been? That has been a question I have been hearing a lot lately. All I can say is I have been living! Living with my kids homework, with my dirty house, with carpooling, with my menu planning - and loving every minute of it! 3 years ago today - January 25, 2007 - my sweet little doctor called me and told me I had 5 cm of invasive cancer. 3 years ago today - I had to call my parents and tell them that their baby was taking an unexpected journey. 3 years ago I had to call my hubby while he was on a business trip and tell him he was taking this journey with me. 3 years ago today - I sat my 1st grader and 3rd grader down and told them their mommy had cancer - but just like their Gumma - I was going to kick "cancers" butt!

3 years ago, about a million thoughts were passing through my brain. One of which was that I needed to document some memories for my girls. I had done some scrapbooks for them - but I wasn't current - and those were mostly photos. I wanted them to have something tangible with my thoughts and memories. My good friend Robin of Big Red Kitchen had started her blog - and I determined - that was how I would share my recipes and memories of those recipes with my girls.

I have done that my friends. I have documented most of the recipes I cook on a regular basis. My mother has shared her memories of dishes she has made for me. I have connected with old friends, new friends, and made many blog friends along the way. Thanks to I was able to give each of my daughters a hard bound Kitchen Klique cookbook. They now are the proud owner of a 210 page book of recipes and memories.

They are 12 and almost 10 today and I am sure they do not appreciate what that book means - but someday - when I'm not here to give them that recipe for their Gumma's potato souffle or Aunt Ruthie's Blueberry Buckle - they will only need to turn to the index of the book to know that their mommy loved them so much.

Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for leaving comments. Your company was the unexpected benefit for giving this gift to my daughters. You are in my Kitchen Klique!

So, for now, I am busy living life, I am busy loving my girls, and I am busy clowning around in my kitchen. I might stop by from time to time to say hello, share a recipe or tell you about my latest kitchen disaster, but for now - enjoy my older posts - and frankly - JUST ENJOY LIFE!

This was our Christmas photo this year. I've come a long way since that picture at the top. Thank you God - Your love is EXTRAVAGANT!

Last but not least - a big thanks to my mom and dad, Curt and Bobi Benton. Thank you for telling me I can do anything - and believing it! You are part of that Extravagant love God shows me every day!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cookies, Crackers and Cluckers!

Fall is here....which I guess I interpreted as - Falling off the Blogging train!!! I have been busy with nothing and everything, and blogging seemed so easy to let "Fall" by the wayside - But I'm back!!!!
The other night I was faced with the task of eating chicken one more time! In an attempt to be creative - I went pantry diving. Usually my pantry diving is met with "No way Mom", "I'd never eat that combo mom" and my favorite "Well - if you made it - would I HAVE to try it?". This was not the case when I re-entered the kitchen with this combo!

I told my girls I was going to put crackers and cookies on their chicken - and there was applause from the peanut gallery!

I washed and dried my chicken tenders. Blended one sleeve of Ritz Crackers (approximately 35 crackers), 8 Nilla Waffer cookies, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in my food processor. Dipped my chicken in a beaten egg and then rolled them in the cracker "concoction". I placed them directly on a cookie sheet and baked them for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
My kids and I agreed - it was our favorite nuggets ever! The Pantry diving paid off - and my family actually enjoy another chicken dinner!

Serve this and tell your kids they are getting cookies, crackers and cluckers for dinner tonight!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lunching with Paul...well sort of!

My Girlfriend Meredith, you know the one...(refresh your memory HERE) had some ladies over for lunch the other day! She thought we needed a "Back to school, welcome to getting on top of the housework, have fun trying to help your middle schooler with that math, what do I pack for my kids lunch day after day" lunch. Wasn't that nice of her? When we got there, she had a beautiful table set and the salad was fantastic! She calls it her "Paul Newman Chicken Salad".

Paul Newman Salad

1 bag assorted greens
4 boneless chicken breasts
1 pkg slivered almonds
1 med. Onion chopped
1/2 pkg fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 box of Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice
1 bottle of Paul Newman's Olive Oil salad dressing

Chop chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. Brown in a skillet with a small amount of butter or oil. Place in a mixing bowl. Cook rice according to directions. Mix chicken, rice, ¾ of almond pkg, onion, mushrooms and ½ bottle of salad dressing together. Chill. Spoon mixture over greens and top with remainder of almonds. Serve remaining dressing on the side to taste.

Thanks Meredith for a wonderful afternoon!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Charlie's Potato Salad!

I guess I need to start with an apology. My girls have been back to school for one week and I don't know who is busier, them or me? I had grand plans to keep to a schedule for my blog once school started, but between homework, laundry, PTF, sports and just keeping up with the life is crazy. Enough of the excuses - back to the good stuff.
As my mom and I were looking through my blog this summer, neither one of us could believe I hadn't posted our favorite potato salad- Charlie's Potato Salad! My parents discovered this delicious recipe when they lived in Minnesota and ate at Charlie's Restaurant in Minneapolis. The key ingredient, which is different from most, is the Pimientos. You will find these little guys living among the olives on your grocery store shelf.

Charlie's Potato Salad
5 Medium cooked potatoes- freshly cooked
1 teaspoon salt
dash of white pepper
1 (4oz) jar chopped Pimiento (somewhat drained)
2 Tablespoons chopped green onions (sometimes I just throw in some onion powder)
3 hard cooked eggs
1 1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup diced celery

Boil potatoes until tender. Cut into cubes.
In separate bowl combine Mayo, salt, white pepper, Pimientos, green onions, and celery.
Gently combine potatoes into mixture. Add hard boiled eggs.

Enjoy - and try to remember summer!!!!

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Season's Last Blueberries!

My Aunt Ruthie made our last blueberry pie of the season - and it was WONDERFUL! Even though it was 60 degrees and raining up here in the Catskills - it tasted like summer - and we didn't want it to end!

Summer's last Blueberry Pie
1 (9 inch) pie shell - baked
1 (8 oz) cream cheese
3 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 quart blueberries (to be divided)
2/3 cup water

1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup water

In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend cream cheese with 3 Tablespoons sugar, salt milk, and vanilla extract. Using the back of a spoon, carefully spread this cheese mixture over bottom and sides of baked pie shell, bringing it well up on the sides.

Wash and drain blueberries.

Simmer together for 3 minutes - 1 cup blueberries and 2/3 cup water. Blend and add to boiling mixture - 1 cup sugar, 3 Tablespoons cornstarch, 1/3 cup water. Boil one minute stirring constantly. Cool.

Save out 1/2 cup choice berries; put remaining 2 1/2 cups berries in baked pie shell. Cover with cooked mixture, and garnish with the 1/2 cup berries. Refrigerate until firm - about 2 hours. Serve with sweetened whipped cream.

Enjoy the last days of summer - Fall is on the way!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Raspberry Rugelach from the Gingerbread House!

If you tuned in Monday - you read all about one of our favorite neighbors up in White Lake - "Mrs. Margaret". This is her "Gingerbread Cottage", and just like in the fairy tales - Yummy things stream out of that door!

"Mrs. Margaret" is on the right and her sister, Marie, is on the left. These two lovely ladies not only made Israel salad the other day - they made a delicious batch of Raspberry Rugelach. How lucky were we?

Rugelach is a traditional European Jewish pastry, in a small crescent-shape made of cream cheese dough with a filling of nuts, raisins, and cinnamon or raspberry jam. Her sister Marie makes these delicious cookies and everyone enjoys them. On this visit, she got into the kitchen and baked up some delicious rugelach...

1 cup butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp of salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup seedless raspberry preserves
3/4 cup dried apricots

1. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat butter with cream cheese until blended and smooth. Beat in vanilla extract, salt, 1 cup flour, and 1/4 cup sugar until blended.
2. With spoon, stir in remaining flour. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.
3. To prepare Filling. In medium bowl, with spoon, stir walnuts, apricots, brown sugar, 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar and 1/2 cinnamon until well mixed.
4. Line 2 large baking sheets with foil and grease foil.
5. On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll 1 piece of chilled dough into a 9 inch round, keeping remaining dough refrigerated. Spread dough with 2 tablespoons raspberry preserves. Sprinkle with about 1/2 cup apricot filling, gently press filling onto dough. With pastry wheel or sharp knife, cut dough into 12 equal wedges. Starting at curved edge, roll up each wedge, jelly-roll fashion. Place cookies on foil-lined cookie sheet, point-side down, about 1/2 inch apart. Repeat with remaing dough, one-fourth at a time.
6. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
7. In cup, mix remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon. With pastry brush, brush rugelach with milk. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.

8. Bake rugelach at 325 degrees F on 2 oven racks about 30 to 35 minutes until golden, rotating cookie sheets between upper and lower racks halfway through baking time. Immediately remove rugelach to wire racks to cool. Store in tightly covered container.

*****You can eliminate the apricots and use chocolate chips or change the jam to strawberry. Or not use any jam and just use the cinnamon/sugar and chopped walnut creative!!

Thanks "Mrs. Margaret" and Marie for sharing your yummy recipes with the "Klique"! Come back any time to share more!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Gingerbread - More than a Cookie!

We are back up at White Lake again and loving the last bit of summer with its cooler temperatures. My parents have some dear friends up here - and one of my favorites is "Mrs. Margaret"! As a child I would come to the lake and LOVE to see the "Gingerbread Houses". Two such houses exist in our little community, one of which belongs to "Mrs. Margaret". Looking at these houses I am sure one could wonder if a fairy godmother or a witch could live in such a story book home. Thank goodness for us - they are both occupied by lovely families!

"Mrs. Margaret" spent one of her summer days cooking with her sister and took some photos for me to share with the "Klique".

Her sister Marie is a great cook and makes some interesting and different food that her family enjoys. She was a teacher/principal in NYC and has retired to Florida. Marie comes home to White Lake, for a few weeks every summer to enjoy the cool Catskill mountain air and to bond with the family. One of the activities that she enjoys is to cook and reminisce about life growing up in the 50's and 60's.

This Israeli salad is very basic and simple in ingredients, but the flavors meld and it is very refreshing and yummy. If you are on Weight Watchers, it would be 0 points if you use the splenda.

Use 1 or 2 cucumbers (remove the seeds) chopped chunky
3-4 chopped chunky ripe tomatoes
handful of fresh parsley (chopped)
half of a large vidalia or other sweet onion chopped
1 whole lemon (squeezed)
sprinkle of kosher salt
sprinkle of pepper
sugar or (1 packet splenda)
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Put all ingredients into a large bowl,stir, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. After you make it once and you like it, you can always adjust the different ingredients to your taste. You can also add other ingredients...such as green and red pepper, garbanzo beans, chopped zuchinni, carrots...etc....

Thanks "Mrs. Margaret" for sharing your recipes. You are our "Fairy god Friend" in our favorite "Gingerbread" House!

Check back this Wednesday for another of the sister's recipes!