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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Asian Chicken Salad

Since I have a husband who works long days in the heat during the summer, the last thing he wants for dinner is a hot meal. I have had difficulty creating a cool summer menu, so I am thrilled to be adding this to our list of regulars. It can be served in a dainty portion as a course salad for a fancy dinner, or it can be piled high to feed a hungry man at the end of a long day.

1 package large egg roll wrappers
2 Tbsp slivered almonds
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded or diced
1/8 cup soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 head romaine lettuce
1/2 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
Chow mein noodles, to taste

Dressing Ingredients:

2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 tsp sesame oil
3 Tbsp rice vinegar

It works well to prepare both the dressing and the chicken marinade in advance to heighten flavor. Combine dressing ingredients in a glass jar and shake well to combine; then let sit in the refrigerator while the chicken marinates. Combine the cooked chicken, soy sauce, and 2 tsp sugar in a plastic bag, allowing them to marinate in the refrigerator for as long as possible. The longer you chill the chicken, the more refreshing and flavorful.

In a 350 degree oven, toast the almonds and sesame seeds until just golden brown. Set aside.

To make decorative wanton bowls for an aesthetic presentation, simply spray a single egg roll wrap with cooking spray on each side and then drape it over an oven-safe bowl. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Cool for a few minutes on the bowl and then remove to cool completely on a wire rack.

Just before serving, combine the lettuce, almonds, sesame seeds, oranges, chow mein noodles, green onions, chicken, and dressing. Serve immediately in prepared wanton bowls. Enjoy!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Homemade Slovak Bread

My friend, Julia Kovacikova, shared with me a fun, authentic bread of her native country—Slovakia. Austin served his mission in the Czech Republic and was excited to report that it’s just as good as he remembers it. I was impressed by how much I liked it when Julia and I sat down to enjoy our spoils and savored half a loaf straight from the oven! Comparable in taste to a buttery rye bread, I can already tell this one will be requested regularly in our household. The outside shell is hard and crusty, and while the inside is soft and pliable, it is a bread that holds its form better than most. Since it is so hearty, it is fabulous for making killer, pile-it-all-on sandwiches!

4.5 cups flour
3 medium potatoes
4 tsp salt
2-3 tsp caraway seed
1 pinch ground fennel (opt)

In combination:

2 Tbsp yeast
2 Tbsp lukewarm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp flour

Peel, boil or bake, and shred potatoes. In a small dish combine yeast, water, sugar and flour. Allow it to rise approximately 10-15 minutes. In a large bowl combine cold potatoes, flour, salt, caraway and fennel (opt). Add yeast mixture along with 2 cups lukewarm water. Knead briefly until dough can be formed into loaves. Divide dough into two portions and form round loaves on a floured cookie sheet. Let rise for about an hour.

Bake the first 10 minutes at 430 degrees, then lower the temperature to 400 degrees and bake another 35 minutes or until ready. Immediately after taking the bread out of the oven, sprinkle the loaves with water for a crunchy crust. If baking in a gas oven, sprinkle with water throughout bake time.

Comments from Julia—a note on Slovak cuisine:

***The traditional meal of Slovakia is Cheese Dumplings. We use a special kind of sheep's cheese which has the texture of cottage cheese. On the top we crumble bacon, grease and all. Milk is the beverage that goes with this yummy dish.

As for the bread, it's crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. It has amazing flavor. It's really good to eat warm with butter and a glass of cold milk. It smells amazing. It's the closest in taste that I've had here in the States.***

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Orange Jello Salad

This is not your usual jello salad. We had one taste at this year's Summit Memorial Day Celebration and knew we needed to find the owner and request the recipe. It isn't airy, but thick and creamy. It is also quick and easy. What more could you ask for? Thanks Loretta Kane!

1 (6 oz.) Orange Jello*
2 cups boiling water
2 (3 oz.) cream cheese
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (8 oz.) carton cool whip
2 cups miniature marshmallows

Mix the jello and boiling water. Whip cream cheese until fluffy. Add jello gradually while still hot. Add milk. Fold in cool whip and marshmallows.

*Try any flavor Jello for variety!
I also made this with all fat free or sugar free ingredients. It wasn't as tasty as the original but still hit the spot for a healthier option.

Chicken Lasagna

I served this Chicken Lasagna to my house full of 23 guest. I chose it first of all because I was short of time and it needed to prepared ahead. Secondly it was easy. Thirdly, it seemed affordable. I certainly hoped it would be tasty, and apparently it was because my son Clark requested the recipe so his stay at home wife "Blake" could make it. Enjoy!

9 uncooked lasagna noodles
2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
2/3 cup milk
1/2 - 1 tsp. curry powder
2-1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
1 onion, chopped
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
18 slices process American cheese

1. Cook noodles according to package directions; drain. In a large saucepan, combine soup, milk, and curry. Cook and stir over low heat until blended. Remove from the heat; stir in vegetables, onion, and chicken. In a greased 9X13 baking dish, layer three noodles, a third of the soup mixture and six cheese slices. Repeat layers twice.

2. Cover and bake at 350* for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until bubbly. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.

NOTE: If you make it ahead of time and refrigerate it, you must adjust for a longer cooking time since all ingredients start out cold. Cooking time should be adjusted to 45 minutes covered and then an additional 15 minutes uncovered. Yield: 15 servings

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Turtle Bars

I wanted to take a treat to our Sunday School class, and thought I'd try this new recipe I had seen online. I can't get over the compliments and the recipe requests for something that is so simple and quick. Enjoy!

1 roll refrigerated sugar cookies
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
*2 cups pecans, chopped
2 cups almonds, slivered
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 jar caramel ice cream topping
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (16 squares)

Preheat oven to 350 F (325 for dark or nonstick pans). Press cookie dough evenly in bottom of ungreased 9x13 inch pan. Sprinkle 1 C of the chocolate chips, 1 C Pecans, 1 C almonds over dough; light press into dough. Set aside.

In a medium-sized saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Stir in brown sugar, caramel topping and graham cracker crumbs. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Pour over crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips and pecans.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until edges are a deep golden brown and pecans are lightly toasted. Cool on a cooling rack 30 minutes. Loosen sides from pan, but do not cut. Cool completely, about 3 hours longer.

*Be sure that you think creatively. Branch out and use whatever you have in your baking cupboard--coconut, marshmallows, you name it. I didn't have pecans, so I used walnuts, and they worked great.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mama Mia Lasagna

My mom's recipe for lasagna is the tastiest and easiest I have found. Whenever I make it for others, I get tons of compliments. It is so easy because you don't have to boil the noodles first. This is also nice because it absorbs the extra liquid so your layers stay stacked when serving. Enjoy!

1 lb. ground beef (I usually do half and half beef and sausage!)
1 onion, chopped
1 qt. canned tomatoes (2 - 14.5 oz cans, don't drain)
6 oz tomato paste
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp parsley flakes
1 tsp basil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 large carton cottage cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. parsley flakes
1 tsp oregano
8 oz uncooked lasagna noodles
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown beef (and sausage) with chopped onion. Mix first eight ingredients and simmer a few minutes. Mix cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and oregano, and set aside. Oil 9x13 pan. Layer half the meat mixture, half the noodles, and spread all the cottage cheese over noodles. Then layer remaining noodles, and meat over all. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour at 350. Remove foil and top with shredded mozzarella and bake another 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cashew Chicken

Another favorite from Momma Gardner, we really enjoy this recipe. The nuts offer a nice change of pace from the typical rice dinner. Enjoy!

1 lb boneless chicken breasts
¾ cup orange juice
1/3 cup honey
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp corn starch
¼ tsp ground ginger
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 large carrots, sliced diagonally
2 stalks celery, sliced diagonally
½ cup cashews or peanuts

Cut chicken into cubes or thin strips and set aside. Combine orange juice, honey, soy sauce, corn starch, and ginger and mix well. Using one Tbsp of the oil over medium-high heat, sauté carrots and celery (just about 3 minutes). Remove vegetables and set aside. Using the other tbsp oil, brown the chicken. Return vegetables to the skillet and then add sauce mixture and nuts. Cook and stir over med high heat until sauce thickens. Serve over hot, cooked rice.