Artichoke-Stuffed Mushrooms

This is another classic from Serendipitous Reflections, November 17, 2005. Jeni was making stuffed mushrooms last night and reminded me of this recipe.

I made these mushrooms about a month ago for Tish’s birthday dinner. They were a hit. I suggest doubling the recipe if you are having more that 8 people. They are super easy and super yummy. The recipe came from Southern Living (Dec 96, I believe).

Artichoke-Stuffed Mushrooms

1 1/2 lbs large fresh mushroom, button or baby portobellas
1/4 C finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Tbl olive oil
1/4 C dry white wine
1/4 – 1/2 C soft breadcrumbs
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 C mayonnaise
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

With a damp cloth, gently wipe the dirt off the mushrooms. (Rinsing them water will make them tough.) Remove stems, and chop; reserve mushroom caps.

Saute mushroom stems, onions, and garlic in hot oil in a large skillet over medium heat 5 minutes or until onion is tender.

Add wine, and cook 2 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Stir in breadcrumbs. Remove from heat and let cool.

Combine onion mixture, artichoke, and next 5 ingredients. Spoon 1 teaspoonful into each cap. Place on a lightly greased rack in a roasting pan. *

Bake at 350 for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden.

*You can make these up ahead of time, just cover and refrigerate them uncooked, pull them out right before guest are to arrive and bake them.


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Filed under Appetizers, mushrooms

Peanut butter cookies and “Neiman Marcus” cookies

This was originally posted on Serendipitous Reflections on September 8, 2005.

(Oops — this is what happens when I try to help Jeni by transferring a few posts. The Chocolate chocolate chip cookies were already posted with a better picture.)

For the mid-week snack for Patient Appreciation week, I made 280 cookies, peanut butter and chocolate chocolate chip. The chocolate chip cookies come with a story. I have since found out it isn’t true, but I’ve been making the cookies for 10 years with the assumption it was true. Honestly it doesn’t matter because they are awesome! The peanut butter cookies are super simple and very tasty. The chocolate chip cookies are worth every minute in the kitchen.

sidenote: Thanks Tiff for putting on the stickers before we left for the beach.

The Neiman-Marcus Cookie Story
My daughter & I had just finished a salad at Neiman-Marcus Cafe in Dallas & decided to have a small dessert. Because our family are such cookie lovers, we decided to try the “Neiman-Marcus Cookie”. It was so excellent that I asked if they would give me the recipe and they said with a small frown, “I’m afraid not.” Well, I said, would you let me buy the recipe? With a cute smile, she said, “Yes.” I asked how much, and she responded, “Two fifty.” I said with approval, just add it to my tab.
Thirty days later, I received my VISA statement from Neiman-Marcus and it was $285.00. I looked again and I remembered I had only spent $9.95 for two salads and about $20.00 for a scarf. As I glanced at the bottom of the statement, it said, “Cookie Recipe – $250.00.” Boy, was I upset!! I called Neiman’s Accounting Dept. and told them the waitress said it was “two fifty,” and I did not realize she meant $250.00 for a cookie recipe. I asked them to take back the recipe and reduce my bill and they said they were sorry, but because all the recipes were this expensive so not just everyone could duplicate any of our bakery recipes….the bill would stand. I waited, thinking of how I could get even or even try and get any of my money back.
I just said, “Okay, you folks got my $250.00 and now I’m going to have $250.00 worth of fun.” I told her that I was going to see to it that every cookie lover will have a $250.00 cookie recipe from Neiman-Marcus for nothing. She replied, “I wish you wouldn’t do this.” I said, “I’m sorry but this is the only way I feel I could get even,” and I will.

So went to the Neiman Marcus website and this is what they had to say about it.

NM Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe***

An urban myth is a modern folk tale, its origins unknown, its believability enhanced simply by the frequency with which it is repeated. Our signature chocolate chip cookie is the subject of one such myth. If you haven’t heard the story, we won’t perpetuate it here. If you have, the recipe below should serve to refute it. Copy it, print it out, pass it along to friends and family. It’s a terrific recipe. And it’s absolutely free.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, slightly crushed
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Cream the butter with the sugars until fluffy.

Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract.

Combine the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by large spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes, or 10 to 12 minutes for a crispier cookie. Makes 12 to 15 large cookies.

***I personally have not this recipe.

OK, enough about the origin of the cookie recipe – here is the recipe I use. It is absolutely one of my favorite cookies, and my stepmother loves them also. I do recommend a heavy duty mixer to make these or mix them by hand in the later stages of the process.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
5 C old fashioned rolled oats
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 lb (4 sticks) butter, softened
2 C sugar
2 C light brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
4 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
24 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375. Line 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper. (You have to use parchment paper!!)

In a food processor, grind oats into a fine powder. Coarsely chop chocolate and grind with oats. The finer the powder, the better the cookies.

Cream the butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Then gradually beat flour mixture into the butter mixture.

Use a HEAVY DUTY MIXER or hands— add oats mixture and beat it in. Use hands to work chocolate chips in the dough.

Make balls of dough about twice the size of golf balls – 12 per sheet (I use professional baking sheets and they are bigger than the average baking sheet. So use your judgment when putting these on the sheets because you don’t want them to touch when they start spreading out.)

Bake one sheet at a time. Bake 11-12 mins reversing the sheet half-way through baking. The cookies will not appear done, but take them out! (Surface will be covered with cracks.)

Let the cookies cool on the sheet rather than racks. If you transfer when hot, they will drip through the racks.

Store in plastic bags or air-tight container.

yields 48 huge cookies.

Peanut Butter Cookies
1 C all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 C butter
3/4 C light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 C peanut butter, creamy or crunchy

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

In another bowl, mix the egg and vanilla extract, then gradually beat into the butter mixture.

Stir in the peanut butter and blend thoroughly. Stir in the dry ingredients. Chill for at least 30 minutes, until firm.

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease two baking sheets.

Spoon out rounded teaspoonfuls of the dough and roll into balls.

Place the balls the prepared baking sheets and press flat with a fork into circles about 2 1/2″ in diameter, making criss-cross pattern with a fork. (you may need to chill your fork or spray it with Pam)

Bake for 12 -14 minutes, until lightly colored. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Denny’s Favorite – Waldorf Salad

Going way back in the archives again for a favorite from my first recipes on Serendipitous Reflections. Looking back, I’m amazed how our pictures have improved. (But the food’s still good).

If you have every spent a weekend at my in-laws house, you have surely had Denny’s waldorf salad. It’s one of my favorite parts of going to their house. Denny will whip this up for breakfast with some bagels or sausage biscuits. Dean and I sort of got on kick for about two weeks where we were just craving this. It’s super easy and the amounts can be adjusted very easily. Dean and I have made this to our tasting…this isn’t Denny’s exact recipe because he makes it on the fly. Enjoy!

Waldorf Salad
2 large Granny Smith apples, coarsely chopped
juice from a half of lemon
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 C walnuts, coarsely chopped and lightly toast to release the oils*
1/2 to 3/4 C raisins
1/3 C Mayo, regular or low fat
1 tsp sugar
a pinch of salt

In a bowl, toss apples with lemon juice. Add celery, walnuts, and raisins to apples. In a separate bowl, combine mayo, sugar, and salt. Toss mayo mixture with apple mixture. Chill for 1 hour then serve. Waldorf salad can be served over greens if desired.

* To toast walnuts

Stove top method: for small batches
Toast walnuts before chopping. Over med-low heat, place walnuts in a skillet. Heat until you can smell the oils being released. This should take about 4 minutes. Stir or toss walnuts frequently while toasting. Be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

Oven method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toast walnuts BEFORE chopping them into smaller pieces.
Place nuts in a single layer in an ungreased shallow pan or RIMMED baking sheet such as a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. (DO NOT use a baking sheet without sides. You may have nuts all over the oven if you accidentally tip the sheet when removing it from the oven.)
Bake 5 to 10 minutes or until they are GOLDEN brown. A toasted walnut may look more GOLDEN than BROWN. They will continue to brown slightly after they’re removed from the oven. Stir once or twice or shake the pan during toasting to aid in even browning.
Remove from pan to cool.
NOTE: The first time you try toasting walnuts, it’s better to err on the side of under-toasting than over-toasting. As walnuts toast, you’ll notice a change in their fragrance as well as their color.

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Filed under Apples, Fruit, Raisins, Salad, Walnuts

Turkey and Balsamic Onion Quesadillas

This was the first recipe I posted on Serendipitous Reflections back on March 8, 2005. Our food photography has improved a lot since then.

I made these quesadillas a couple of weeks ago. They were fast, simple, and full of flavor. Dean and I loved them. I didn’t use smoked turkey because I don’t care for the taste, so I used oven baked turkey. Also the next time I might saute the onions for a couple of minutes to release the sugars. We added some low fat ranch dressing to the top, but they really didn’t need it. The leftover balsamic vinegar did make a nice dressing for a garden salad.

I really liked this recipe for the plain and simple fact you can change the ingredients to your taste. I think pepper jack or co-jack would be wonderful. So many cheeses, so little time.

Turkey & Balsamic Onion Quesadillas

Eating Well February/March 2005
Fast and Easy

Soaking the onions in balsamic vinegar mellows them and brings out their sweetness. Accompany these delicious quesadillas with greens dressed in the leftover vinegar whisked together with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

1 small red onion, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
4 10-inch whole-wheat flour tortillas
3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
8 slices deli turkey, preferably smoked (8 ounces)

1. Combine onion and vinegar in a bowl; let marinate for 5 minutes. Drain, reserving the vinegar for salad dressing.
2. Place 2 tortillas in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat (they will overlap); warm for about 45 seconds, then flip. Pull the tortillas up the edges of the pan so they are no longer overlapping. Working on one half of each tortilla, sprinkle one-fourth of the cheese, cover with 2 slices of turkey and top with one-fourth of the onion. Fold the tortillas in half, press gently with a spatula to flatten and cook until the cheese starts to melt, about 2 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until the second side is golden, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Make two more quesadillas with the remaining ingredients. Serve warm.

Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 261 calories; 10 g fat (5 g sat, 0 g mono); 56 mg cholesterol; 25 g carbohydrate; 23 g protein; 2 g fiber; 702 mg sodium.

Nutrition bonus: Calcium (22% daily value), Magnesium (12% dv).

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Shrimp Sate with Pineapple Salsa

This blog has been on hiatus for the past year. It has been an excellent resource for me to grab favorite recipes, but life took hold of me and hasn’t allowed me to update. While I get ready to update with some newer recipes, I’ll be reposting some recipes from my other blog to try to get all my recipes in one place and offer visitors some new content. This recipe is reposted from Serendipitous Reflections on January 22, 2006.

Just before New Years, I did another cooking day with Bill and Barbara’s kids. We decided to do all appetizers. It was a lot of fun and all the food turned out awesome.

I just loved this recipe. It was very simple and full of big flavor. The pineapple salsa is perfect just by itself.

A couple of things that I did differently from the recipe:
1. I did use canned pineapple chucks mainly to save time. If you use canned make sure to drain the pineapple.
2. Also I let the shrimp marinate in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before I grilled them.

Shrimp Sate with Pineapple Salsa
(Cooking Light magazine)

3/4 C finely chopped pineapple
1/4 C finely chopped red onion
1 Tablespoon minced seeded jalapeno pepper
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 wooden skewers (6″)

To prepare salsa, combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl.

To prepare sate, combine mint, juice, salt, and chili powder in a large bowl; add shrimp, tossing gently to coat. Thread 3 shrimp onto each skewer. Place shrimp on a preheated grill (coated with cooking spray); grill 1-2 minutes on each side or until shrimp turn pink. Serve with salsa. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

Yields 4 servings (2 skewers and 1/2 C salsa)
Calories 208; fat 3g; protein 34.9g; carbs 8.7 g

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Filed under Appetizers, Pineapple, Salsa, Shrimp

Black Bean – Taco Salad Lime Vinaigrette

Black Bean – Taco Salad Lime Vinaigrette

There are three words that describe this salad — fresh, healthy, and easy. Oh wait, four words – tasty. The night I made this salad it was unseasonably warm and wanted something light for dinner and I remembered this salad. The dressing is incredibly easy to make and it packs a wonderful citrus punch.

The only change I made to the recipe was I added a can of drained corn to the salad and omitted the green pepper.

One change I made the second time I made this salad was to add boiled shrimp instead of chicken. It was fantastic!

Black Bean-Taco Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

With chicken, cheddar cheese, and black beans, this Southwestern-influenced salad needs nothing on the side except some iced tea. Fresh lime gives it a citrusy counterpunch.

1/4 cup chopped seeded tomato
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, peeled

8 cups thinly sliced iceberg lettuce
1 1/2 cups chopped ready-to-eat roasted skinned, boned chicken breast (about 2 breasts)
1 cup chopped tomato
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup finely diced red onion
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups fat-free baked tortilla chips (about 4 ounces)

To prepare vinaigrette, combine first 11 ingredients in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.

To prepare salad, combine lettuce and remaining ingredients except chips in a large bowl. Add vinaigrette; toss well to coat. Serve with chips.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 2 cups salad and 1 cup chips)
CALORIES 402 (28% from fat); FAT 12.6g (sat 3.2g,mono 6.5g,poly 1.9g); IRON 3.6mg; CHOLESTEROL 35mg; CALCIUM 236mg; CARBOHYDRATE 51.6g; SODIUM 861mg; PROTEIN 24.5g; FIBER 8g
Cooking Light, JULY 2000

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Filed under Cheese, Chicken, Cilantro, Cooking Light, Corn, Dinner, Dressing, Entrees, Lettuce, Onions, Red Onions, Salad, Tomatoes, Veggies, Vinegar

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cheese


In an effort to eat a little healthier, I started making a few recipes from Cooking Light. But I didn’t want to sacrifice taste for low fat and calories. So I decided that I would like to fix some recipes with a little zip and when I saw the hot turkey sausage in the ingredients, this was the winner. The tomato and basil really give this recipe a fresh taste. This simple and delicious recipe is purely a comfort food. And a bonus is that it makes a ton!

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cheese

1 (1-pound) package uncooked ziti (short tube-shaped pasta)
1 pound hot turkey Italian sausage links
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 (14.5-ounce) cans petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded fresh mozzarella cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain the pasta, and set aside.
Remove casings from sausage. Cook sausage, onion, and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Combine cooked pasta, sausage mixture, and basil. Place half of the pasta mixture in a 4-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Top with half of mozzarella and half of Parmesan. Repeat layers. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)
CALORIES 413 (26% from fat); FAT 11.8g (sat 6.1g,mono 2.2g,poly 1g); IRON 7.9mg; CHOLESTEROL 49mg; CALCIUM 265mg; CARBOHYDRATE 53g; SODIUM 941mg; PROTEIN 24.1g; FIBER 4.5g

Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2003

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Filed under Basil, Cheese, Cooking Light, Dinner, Entrees, Garlic, Herbs, Hot Italian Sausage, Mozzarella, Onions, Parmesan, Pasta, Pork