Tuesday, December 19, 2006

"Starbucks" Cranberry Bliss Bars

Top Secret Recipes version of Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bar by Todd Wilbur

The tangy cranberries and sweet lemon frosting make this cake bar a holiday favorite that evokes piles of cloning requests when Starbucks stops selling it after Christmas. Now, with this easy-to-make clone, this treat can be a perennial hit. Break out this red and white treat for the gang on this holiday and you might be as popular as the guy in the red and white suit.


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup diced dried cranberries
6 ounces white chocolate, cut into chunks


4-ounces cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup diced dried cranberries

Drizzled Icing

1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Make cake by beating butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, ginger, and salt and beat well. Gradually mix in flour until smooth. Mix 3/4 cup diced dried cranberries and white chocolate into the batter by hand. Pour batter into a well-greased 9x13" baking pan. Use a spatula to spread the batter evenly across the pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until cake is light brown on the edges. Allow cake to cool.

3. Make frosting by combining softened cream cheese, 3 cups powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla extract in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. When the cake has cooled, use a spatula to spread frosting over the top of the cake.

4. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of diced cranberries over the frosting on the cake.

5. Whisk together 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and shortening. Drizzle icing over the cranberries in a sweeping motion or use a pastry bag with a fine tip to drizzle frosting across the top of the cake.

6. Allow cake to sit for several hours, then slice the cake lengthwise (the long way) through the middle. Slice the cake across the width three times making a total of eight rectangular slices. Slice each of those rectangles diagonally creating 16 triangular slices.

From: Top Secret Recipes

Makes 16 bars.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Quick Chicken and Dumplings

1 1/2 pounds chicken breast tenders
1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
2 tablespoons butter
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced or thinly sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 rib celery, diced
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning, 1/3 palm full
2 tablespoons flour, a handful
1 quart chicken broth or stock, canned or paper container
1 batch of dumplings made with Bisquick (2 cups Bisquick + 2/3 cup of milk)
Handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
3/4 cup frozen green peas
3/4 cup frozen corn

Dice tenders into bite size pieces and set aside. Wash hands.

Place a large pot* on stove over medium high heat. Add oil, butter, vegetables and bay leaf and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Season mixture with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Add flour to the pan and cook 2 minutes. Stir broth or stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Add chicken to the broth and stir.

Bisquick, milk and parsley. Drop tablespoonfuls of prepared mix into the pot, spacing dumplings evenly. Boil for 10 minues. !dd peas and corn, and stivery gently. Cover pot tightly and reduce heat to medium low. Steam dumplings 8 to 10 minutes. Serve in shallow bowls.

*A wide, low pot is better than a taller narrow pot. I used a tall narrow pot and the dumplings all clumped together.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Ginger Cookies

The hardest part of these cookies is finding the ginger preseves/jelly/jam, but so worth the find.

Ginger Cookie

From Food Network Kitchens

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 30 cookies
User Rating: 4 Stars

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
5 cracks freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for rolling the cookies
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
2 tablespoons ginger preserves (see Cook's note)

Whisk the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, mustard, salt and black pepper together in a medium bowl.

Beat the butter and the sugars with a hand mixer electric mixer on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat on medium speed until just incorporated, about 20 seconds. Add the molasses and ginger preserves and continue beating until the batter is an even light brown color, 30 seconds more.

Add the dry ingredients all at once, beating slowly to make a soft, smooth dough. Use a rubber spatula to make sure all ingredients are combined. Then beat again for 20 seconds. Cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate the dough until firm, about 25 minutes.

Put about 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. With a cookie scoop or a small ice cream scoop, portion the dough into a slightly heaping tablespoon for each cookie. Roll the dough, by hand, into balls. Roll the tops of the balls in the sugar, and space them 2 inches apart on a nonstick or lightly oiled cookie sheet. Refrigerate until firm, about 25 minutes. (The chilling is what gives this cookie a beautiful, crackly crunch on top, and a soft, chewy center.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake until the top is crackly, and the insides peeking out through are dark and moist but not raw, about 15 to 20 minutes. Briefly cool the cookies on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Serve or store in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 weeks.

Cook's Note: Ginger preserves give lots of flavor without the hard chunks of crystallized ginger. It is found in most grocery stores.

Copyright 2005 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pumpkin Pie

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
2 cups cooked pumpkin, or 1 can (15 oz) pureed pumpkin
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell

Mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
Pour into pie shell.
Bake in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 50-60 minutes or until it's no longer "jiggly." Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.

Irish Soda Bread

4 cups flour
3 tbspns sugar
1 tbspn baking powder
1 tspn salt
3/4 tspn baking soda
6 tlbspns butter
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 tbspn caraway seeds
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1. Grease a 2 qt. round casserole. Mix first 5 ingredients. With pastry blender or 2 knives used scissor fashion, cut in butter until mixture resembles course crumbs. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds.

2. In small bowl with fork, beat eggs slightly, remove 1 tblspn. and reserve. Stir buttermilk into remaining egg; stir into flour mixture just until flour is moistened. (Dough will be sticky).

3. Turn dough onto well floured surface. With floured hands, knead about 10 strokes to mix. Shape dough into a ball. With sharp knife, cut a 1" cross about 1/4" deep. Brush dough with egg.

4. Bake at 350 degrees about 1 hour 20 min.or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in casserole on wire rack 10 min.

Irish Soda Bread

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares

Someone passed this on to me, so I don't know where it's originally from. They are excellent!

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Squares

Makes 24; Prep time: 30 minutes; Total time: 2 1/2 hours
In addition to keeping the cake from sticking to the pan, lining the pan with foil makes it easy to lift it out after baking.

2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin purée
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin purée (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

3. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. (I actually ended up cooking them for about a60-70 minutes) Cool completely in pan.

4. Lift cake from pan (using foil as an aid). Peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into 24 squares.

Note: If you can’t find pumpkin-pie spice, substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon each allspice and cloves (all ground).

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Too Hot to Cook!

I didn't forget about this. I just haven't cooked much in the last month or so. Too damn hot!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Cole Slaw

1 head green cabbage

1/4 cup mayo
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar

Core and shred the cabbage, and spread out on a clean surface. Salt generously. Let sit for 2-3 hours or longer. This will remove a lot of the "juice" and water from the caabbage, as well as flavor it. After 2-3 hours, gather cabbage by the handful and squeeze fistfuls of it over the sink, as if you're wringing it out. A LOT of water will come out of it. Rinse the cabbage in cold water for several minutes, then squeeze it again.

While the cabbage drains, mix the dressing, adjusting it to your taste. Do not salt it again.

Add the dressing and chill several hours before serving. Better if chilled overnight.

Avocado Corn Tomato Salad

2 medium or 3 small avocados, diced
1 can whole corn, drained
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
Juice of one lime
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Optional: Cilantro

Mix all ingredients and serve chilled

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Pork Chops with Gravy

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless pork chops
olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup buttermilk* (see below for substitute)

Put the flour in a shallow platter and add the onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels to remove any moisture and then dredge them in the seasoned flour; shaking off the excess.

Heat a large saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat and coat with the oil. When the oil is nice and hot, lay the pork chops in the pan in a single layer and fry for 5 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove the pork chops from the pan and add a little sprinkle of seasoned flour to the pan drippings. Mix the flour into the fat to dissolve and then pour in the chicken broth in. Let the liquid cook down for 5 minutes to reduce and thicken slightly. Stir in the buttermilk to make a creamy gravy and return the pork chops to the pan, covering them with the sauce. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until the pork is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.

*Buttermilk -- if you don't have any buttermilk, add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice to regular milk, and let it sit for 10 minutes at room temperature.

Based on a recipe by Tyler Florence

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Baby Back Ribs (Crock pot)

2 slabs of baby back ribs

8 tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon rubbed thyme
1/2 teaspoon paprika

BBQ sauce

Mix the dry ingredients and rub over ribs, which have been cut short enough to fit in your crock pot. Stand the ribs in the crock, meaty side out. Cook on HIGH for 4 hours. Pour your favorite BBQ sauce over the ribs, and cook on high for another 30 minutes.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Braised Leeks

Leeks look like scallions or green onions with a steriod problem, and although related, are much milder. Select leeks with a clean white slender bulb, at least two to three inches of white, and firm, tightly-rolled dark green tops. The base should be at least 1-/2 inch in diameter, although most are much larger, usually 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches. The younger the leek, the more delicate the flavor and texture is. Look for the slim, cylindrical ones rather than those that are large and bulbous. If the bottoms are beginning to round into bulb shapes, the leeks are a bit too mature, and can have a tough, woody center. If the leek is limp at all, pass it up.

4 leeks
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chicken stock
pinch thyme

Cut the green and root ends of the leeks off, leaving just the white. You should be left with a piece 4 to 5 inches long. Slice this in half long ways, and then into quarters. Rinse very well, making sure to get water in between -- a lot of dirt gets in there as they're growing.

In a pan, melt butter with the oil over medium heat, then add the clean leeks along with salt and pepper. Cook about 20 minutes until the leeks are soft and begin to slightly brown. Add the chicken stock, and thyme, and raise the heat to high. Cook until stock is reduced and leeks just about begin to caramelize.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Creamy Chicken and Black Beans -- Crockpot recipe

1 lb chicken frozen chicken breasts (about 4 breasts)
1 15.5 ounce can black beans, drained
1 10 ounce bag of frozen corn
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes (Muir Glen organic makes these, otherwise you can just chop some fresh tomatoes, or half of a can of whole tomatoes)
half of a medium onion, chopped small
1 jalapeno pepper, or a few rings of jarred jalapeno, diced (use more or less to taste)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 8 ounce package cream cheese

Combine everything except the cream cheese in the crockpot and cook on high 4-5 hours. When it's just about done, shred the chicken in the pot using 2 forks, then add the package cream cheese. Cook for 30 more minutes on low. Stir well to mix the cream cheese in. Serve over rice.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Lemon Garlic Monkfish

2 lemons
2 cloves garlic
2 lbs. monkfish (aka "poor man's lobster")
2 tablespoons oilive oil
Cayenne pepper
salt & pepper

Peel the grayish membrane from the monkfish and place in baking dish. Squeeze the juice from one lemon and set aside. Slice the other lemon into thin slices. Cut garlic into thin slivers. Make small slices in the fish, and stuff with the garlic slices. Sprinkle with half of the lemon juice, cayenne, salt and pepper, drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil, then cover with the lemon slices. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, pour off all the accumulated liquid in the pan. Lower oven to 350, pour the remaining lemon juice and olive oil over fish, continue baking for 20-30 minutes, until it is done.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Glazed Ham Steak

1 Ham Steak (about 1 lb.)
2 tbsp. prepared spicy mustard
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. Rose's lime juice
1 tsp. ground cloves

Heat oven to 450, and mix mustard, brown sugar, lime juice and cloves to form a paste, and spread over the top of the ham steak. The ham will give off a lot of juice during cooking, so be sure to cook in a pan that's at least an inch deep. Cook for 20-30 minutes, until heated through.

Sauteed Spinach

2 Tablespoons Olive oil
Baby spinach leaves, cleaned and rinsed
salt and pepper
1 clove of garlic and/or 1 shallot, chopped
Pinch red pepper flakes
Splash of chicken stock (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a pan, throw in the spinach, salt and pepper, the chopped garlic and/or shallots, red pepper flakes. Keep it moving until it's all cooked down. The chicken stock is optional, but can be added for a bit of taste and it gives it a little "creaminess."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Crock Pot Pot Roast

1 boneless check roast (or any cut labeld for pot roast) 3-4 lbs
1 lb. carrots, cut in chunks
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1.5 cups beef stock
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper

(I use a crock pot liner in my pot. It's a heavy duty plastic bag that doesnt' melt while cooking. You can see it in the image.)

Cut the carrots and onion and place half in the bottom of crock pot. smash 2 garlic cloves and throw in the pot. Add 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce. Lightly salt and pepper everything. Put the roast on top, and put all the rest of the carrots, onions, and smashed garlic in, some of them on top of the roast. Add the beef stock, the other tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.

Cook on low 8 hours.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Pork Chops with Lemon Rosemary Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 pork chops, 1.5 inches thick
1 shallot, chopped
1.5 cups chicken stock
1 sprig fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons well-chilled unsalted butter, cut in 3 pieces
Salt and pepper

Salt and pepper the pork chops. Heat a sautee pan on high and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil shimmers, place pork chops in pan, sautee for 5 minutes then lower heat to medium and turn. Cook pork chops until internal temp reaches 145. Remove from pan and tent with aluminum foil.

Turn heat back to high, and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When oil is hot, add shallot. Stir and cook until translucent. Pour chicken stock in and add rosemary. If using a fresh sprig, do not remove the leaves from the stem. Put the whole sprig in the pan. Cook on high until stock is reduced to about 2/3 cup. Add lemon juice. Whisk in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over sliced chops.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Fresh Salsa

Tomatoes, chopped well (good fresh if you can get them, or canned whole will do)
Garlic, minced fine
1/2 red onion, chopped fine (I don't always use onion)
handful of cilantro chopped -- about 3 tbsp
Chopped pickled (jarred) jalapenos
1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Sometimes I also add a chopped dried ancho chile for a smokey sweet layer

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Open "Stuffed" Snapper

You can use any light, white, flakey fish that you like for this -- snapper, tilapia, cod, etc.

4 snapper filets
1 sleeve of Ritz crackers
4 Tbs butter, melted
1 clove garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

Crush the crackers to small crumbs. Mix in the rest of the ingredients, except the filets. Salt and pepper the filets, and spread crumb mixture on them and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350, or until done. Put under broiler for a minute or two to toast the crumb topping.

Garlic Horseradish Crusted Beef Tenderloin

1 beef tenderloin, 2-3 lbs.
3 Tbs prepared horseradish
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 Tbs kosher salt
1 Tbs fresh ground black pepper
3 Tbs olive oil

Let beef tenderloin come to room temperature, about 30-45 minutes before cooking.

Mix remaining ingredients, and spread over the tenderloin. Roast on a rack to desired done-ness.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Tomato Sauce Baked Tilapia

1 lb. Tilapia filets
1-2 cups tomato sauce (your favorite jarred sauce is fine -- I used Emeril's "Kicked Up Tomato")

Preheat oven to 350.

Spray bottom of a small pan with Pam or non-stick spray (an 8"x8" or so sized pan -- you want the filets to almost cover the bottom of the pan with no space around them)

Pour sauce over the filets -- as much as you like.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until tilapia is flakey and done.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Chicken Piccata Pasta Toss

Makes 4 servings
1 pound penne pasta, cooked to package directions
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1.25 lbs chicken tenders (or cutlets, or breasts pounded thin), cutinto 1 inch pieces
Salt andPepper, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium shallots, chopped (you can use dried*, minced onion,reconstituted, use about 4 teaspoons, dry, soak in water toreconstitute)
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup white wine (if you don't have/want to use wine, increasechicken broth by 1/2 cup and use that 1/2 cup in place of wine in theinstructions)
Juice of 1 lemon, or about 2-3 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice
1 cup chicken broth or stock
3 tablespoons capers, drained (I didn't use these)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (or 1-2 tablespoons dried)

Heat a deep nonstick skillet over medium-high head. Add 1 tablespoonof olive oil and the chicken to the pan. Season with salt and pepper,and brown until lightly golden all over, about 5-6 minutes. Removechicken from pan and set aside. Return the skillet to the heat,reduce heat to medium. To the skillet, add another tablespoon ofolice oil, 1 tablespoon butter, garlic, and shallots, and sautee 3minutes. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes. Whisk in wine and reduceliquid, 1 minute or until it starts to thicken. (I added about 2 moretablespoons flour at this point so that it was VERY thick, almost like paste consistiency.) Whisk lemon juice and broth into sauce. Stir incapers and parsley. When sauce comes to a bubble, add the remainingtablespoon butter. Put chicken back in the pan and het through for aminute or 2. Toss hot pasta with chicken and sauce. Adjust salt andpepper to taste.

Low fat
Takes 30-45 minutes to make.

* I always have these shallots on-hand. They have great flavor, and reconstitute really well. I buy just about all my spices from Penzey's.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Decoded Chicken -- For Monica

Rice takes 30 minutes... 5 to boil the water, 20 for the rice to cook, and 5 to rest. It can sit longer too, and as long as you have the lid on the pot it'll stay warm.

Confession: I microwave most veggies, because we eat a lot of frozen (organic) veggies. If not, I steam them. That takes 10 minutes, fresh or frozen.

If you're grilling chicken (pan or real grill, boneless breasts) start everything except the veggies cooking at the same time. Keep a timer on for the rice, set it for 20 minutes once it boils. When it boils, start grilling the chicken. When you've got 8-10 minutes left on the 20 minute timer, start the veggies steaming. Everything should be done just about at the same time.

The same timing goes for pretty much any boneless chicken breasts, no matter how you cook it. When I'm baking, just to be sure I tend to overcook it, leaving it in for about 30-35 minutes. I've had too many pink ones come out of the oven. Vomitous.

Chicken is extra excellent with corn.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Shrimp in Stout Sauce

It sounds like a strange combo, but it's really tasty. Serve with crusty bread, or over rice.

2 lbs. prawns or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
Grill seasoning such as McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning -- about 1-2 tablespoon. (can substitute salt, coarsely ground pepper, garlic powder, onion flakes, and/or anything else you'd use on steak, just use a lot of pepper)
2 tablespoon. olive oil
1-3 tablespoon. Sriracha hot sauce, or whatever hot sauce you prefer. Season to taste.
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 bottle of dark stout beer, like Guinness
1 bay leaf
Juice of 1 lemon
2 to 3 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional -- if opting out, use and additional 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter)
Salt and pepper

1. Coat the prawns with the grill seasoning. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When the olive oil is hot, place about half the prawns in a single layer, and quickly sear them, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate and reserve. Repeat with the remaining prawns.

2. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet, and the garlic. Cook for one minute. Add the beer, hot sauce, and bay leaf. Boil over high heat to reduce the liquid by half.

3. Return the prawns to the skillet with the sauce and cook, turning once, until just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and remove the bay leaf. Stir in the butter and cream, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 4. Sort of.

Based on a Rachel Ray recipe from the February/March 2006 Everyday Food.

Chicken in Endive with Parsley Sauce

1 lb. chicken thin sliced chicken cutlets
5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
1/4 cup low-fat yogurt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh tarragon or 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons drained capers
3-4 heads Belgian endive (or more depending on the size of the endive available)

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the chicken until cooked through. Cool completely. Chop and toss with 1 teaspoon lime juice.

To make the parsley sauce: Blend the parsley, sour cream, yogurt, and remaining 2 teaspoons lime juice in a food processor until the parsley is finely chopped. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Toss the chicken with the chives, tarragon, capers, and remaining 2 teaspoons of oil in a large bowl to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Separate the endive leaves and arrange on a platter. Spoon about 1 generous tablespoon of the chicken atop each leaf. Drizzle the parsley sauce over the salad and serve immediately.

Adapted from a recipe by Giada De Laurentis

Oven Chimichangas

1 lb. ground or cubed (1/4" cubes) meat of your choice (beef, turkey, chicken, whatever)
olive oil
Chili or taco or southwest seasoning to taste (about 2-3 tbsp)
1 tbsp. dried onion flakes, or 1/4 onion, chopped fine
1 15 oz. can fat free refried beans (I prefer Trader Joe's brand, with jalapenos)
2 cups shredded cheese -- cheddar, jack, or a combo of those or anything you like
6-8 soft flour tortillas
1 tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 350.

Brown your meat of choice with olive oil, adding seasoning when its just about cooked.

Add in onion and refried beans, stirring occasionally to "melt" the beans.

Wrap tortillas in a damp paper towel, and microwave for 20 seconds so that they're soft and pliable.

Spray the bottom of a baking pan with non-stick spray.

Put about 1/4 cup or so of the meat and bean mixture in the center of a tortilla, then add a layer of cheese. Roll and place in pan. Repeat until mixture is gone.

Brush the tops of the chimis with a bit of butter. Bake until they're brown and cripsy, about 20-30 minutes.

Note: These freeze really well, both before and after cooking. I sometimes freeze them individually before cooking and just heat in the microwave for about 1.5 to 2 minutes.

Pork Tenderloin with White Wine Sauce

Cook pork tenderloin to 145 degrees in an oven-proof skillet or sautee pan. (I'm bad with big pieces of meat. I have no idea how long that takes.) When the tenderloin is done, remove from pan, and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

While pork is resting, make the sauce.

1 cup white wine
1/3 cup loosely packed, roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, or 1-2 tablespoons dried parsley
coarse-grained salt (Kosher or sea salt) and cracked black pepper

Over high heat, add the wine to the pork drippings, scraping the bottom of the pan. Reduce wine to 1/3 cup. Add parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. It doesn't make a lot of sauce like a gravy, but just enough to drizzle over the sliced tenderloin.