Lemon Wine Sugar Scrub

It’s officially spring around here and I have been searching for something to help get my winter skin ready… I think this recipe is a FABULOUS way to give you the soft skin you want as we start wearing less layers each day.  I looked at hundreds of recipes that called for so many wonderful-sounding ingredients, but it all came down to the idea that I wanted to find something easy to make (and remake) anytime I want.  I hope you’ll find this recipe to be the easiest… and one that can be altered in a myriad of ways to suit anyone’s taste preference.LemonWineSugarScrub (1)

I started with one cup of white sugar and one cup of brown sugar.  To this, I blended in one quarter cup of coconut oil and one quarter cup of olive oil as well as one Tablespoon of lemon extract and one Tablespoon of white wine (I used a Chardonnay for this recipe).  Once all the ingredients are mixed together in the bowl, use a whisk and thoroughly incorporate the ingredients until they resemble a very light and airy cookie dough.  They will separate at a later point, but this is your scrub.

Once the sugar scrub is light and thoroughly blended, spoon it into resealable containers.  You can see that I chose one plastic jar and one glass jar for the photo – this is simply because I had both on hand.  Use whatever you prefer or choose to use.

This scrub will keep for a few weeks… it’s not necessary to refrigerate the scrub as the oils will solidify and have to be warmed up before use if you do so.  I like to use this scrub on my feet and hands to keep both soft and smooth.  Feel free to keep some by the kitchen sink to use after doing dishes or in the bathroom for use in the shower or at bedtime.  It smells lovely and your hands & feet will appreciate the attention. This makes a wonderful and thoughtful gift for anyone on your list.

Aunt Louise’s Blueberry Cream Pie (with wine)

I have to say that this is a recipe that was handed down to me by my mother, from her mother’s sister, so the original recipe did not contain wine.  That being said, it wasn’t hard to add a splash of wine so I could include this delicious pie on my blog. It’s simple, yet elegant… and one that most everyone in our family loves to have as the sweet ending to a meal.  It’s definitely not a “low cal” sort of dessert, but it could be made a bit lighter if you’re inclined to tweak things here and there.  For me, it’ll all about recreating a beloved dessert, so I don’t adjust it too much.BlueberryCreamPie (1)

Ingredients:

  • one small package of cream cheese (I’ve been instructed not to use light or non-fat for this dessert)
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 pint heavy whipping cream (again, don’t skimp for calorie sake or the flavor will fall flat)
  • Pie shell – use your favorite, but we found that we like a pastry shell more than a graham cracker crust
  • 1/2 can blueberry pie filling
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of white wine (or use lemon juice if you prefer)

Directions:

  • Cream room temperature cream cheese  and add sugar and vanilla, then beat well
  • In a separate bowl, beat the whipping cream just until stiff peaks form
  • Fold the cream cheese mixture into the whipped cream with great care
  • Pour into pie shell.
  • Blend wine into the pie filling and top the pie with the blueberry mixture
  • Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

This pie has been on our Easter table for years… it’s also a fabulous addition to any picnic or family gathering.  You can substitute fresh fruit for the pie filling if you prefer…. it’s all about making something that your own family will love. Traditional or not, making food for those you love is the whole idea.  Enjoy!

Starter Recipe: Chocolate Fudge “Jury Gems”

As a Starter Recipe, I try to make things easy and simple so that anyone just learning to cook can make the recipe.  This snack food fits the bill, in my opinion.  I was put on a jury recently and wanted to make something to share with my fellow jurors on our final day… this was the food I brought to keep us focused as we concluded our duty.

Ingredients:ChocolateFudgeJuryGems (1)

  • 1 box chocolate fudge brownie mix (or your favorite box mix)
  • 1 can solid pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • Mini chocolate chips (I used about 1/4 cup)
  • Red wine (I used a Pinot Noir, but you could use any dry red wine or even substitute espresso if you prefer)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and spray your cupcake tins with cooking spray.  I used two small cupcake pans (12 small cupcakes in each) and one mini cupcake pan (also with 12 mini cupcakes).
  2. Empty the brownie mix, pumpkin, and chocolate chips into a large mixing bowl.  Pour in a small bit of wine/liquid (start with 1/4 cup) and mix all ingredients together until well incorporated.  If the batter seems too thick, add a bit more wine/liquid.  I like this batter to be fairly thick, but not so thick that the batter could stand alone, like a cookie dough.
  3. Using a cookie scoop, ladle out the dough into the cupcake tins.  I used a medium scoop for the small cupcake tins and a small scoop for the mini cupcake tin.
  4. Sprinkle with decorations, if desired (I used gold sugar) and put the tins into the oven.  I baked the mini cupcakes for 15 minutes and the small cupcakes for 3 minutes longer (18 minutes total).  Use a toothpick to test when making sure the fudge-cupcakes are cooked thoroughly.

These fudge-y cupcakes will get very sticky if served the following day, so be sure to allow them to dry a bit so they don’t actually stick to the fingers of your guests.  I got lots of positive comments on these snacks from my fellow jurors and that solidified the name for me… Jury Gems.  We had three days together and I hope that everyone feels they did their best according to the law, as required.

If you have a chance to make this recipe for your friends, feel free to alter the name a bit… these are delicious, healthy, and surprisingly filling.  Enjoy!

Starter Recipe: Easy Lemon Shrimp

It’s been awhile since I last wrote… but that doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped cooking, or planning out recipes for this blog! Here’s an amazing (and easy) recipe that is sure to impress even the pickiest of guests who enjoy shrimp.  I love pulling a dinner together in under 20-30 minutes, and this recipe is one that delivers every single time.  I hope you’ll try it and make it your own!

Ingredients:EasyLemonShrimp

1 bag of frozen raw shrimp (I buy mine whenever they’re on sale at the local grocer and keep them in the freezer… anything sized large or above is worth the money, in my opinion)

1 lemon

1 jar of your favorite preserves (I happen to like using fig preserves these days, but apricot or any light colored fruit would work well)

Butter (just a pat to sear the shrimp) and olive oil (just 1T for searing shrimp)

Wine (or your preferred liquid of choice)

1 package microwave brown rice (for convenience… feel free to use the cheaper stuff if you’d prefer)

Directions:

  1. Peel shrimp and have them ready to cook.  I always remove the tails because I hate the idea of having to put the empty tail shell back on my plate.  I also like to salt/pepper my shrimp prior to cooking, but it’s up to you if you want to do this step.
  2. Put butter and olive oil into a large skillet and turn the heat on to medium high.  Allow the fats to mingle and get really hot..
  3. Sear shrimp on both sides in the hot butter/oil mixture – my husband likes them to have a bit of “crisp” to the edges, so that’s how I make it in our house.  Just make sure the shrimp is thoroughly cooked before making your sauce.
  4. In a small bowl, make your sauce using the juice of the lemon, some wine (I used a half cup of sparkling white wine that we had in the fridge, but feel free to use whatever you have), and a few spoonfuls of preserves.  Mix everything together.
  5. Add sauce to the cooked shrimp and allow to thicken.
  6. Pop brown rice in the microwave and cook on high for 90 seconds (this is why I prefer to use this type of rice… so easy and quick!)
  7. Once the sauce has thickened, plate your meal with some brown rice, spoon the shrimp evenly between the dishes, and pour over the sauce.
  8. Yes, it’s just THAT easy.  Now, enjoy the compliments that come raining your way.

I have altered this recipe in many different ways, but I really love the way that lemon compliments shrimp.  If you want, you can make a vegetable and top the veggie with some lemon zest… brings all parts of the meal together nicely.  Last time, I used a bag of green beans, tossed the cooked beans with a pat of butter, salt/pepper, and the lemon zest. It was fabulous! Using the preserves counteracts the strong tart taste of the lemon juice and really does a nice job of pulling everything together.  Enjoy!

NOTE:  If making this shrimp dish, don’t use a red or deep colored preserve as it will make the shrimp look as if it’s under cooked or raw.  Trust me… I did this once and will never forget the reaction.

Starter Recipe: Easy Mazetti

Another one of our family “staple” recipes is this easy and simple Mazetti, a recipe that my mother-in-law gave me early in my marriage.  Over the years, I’ve adjusted the recipe she gave me to either include lots of “hidden vegetables” or to use whatever quick ingredients I had on hand.  NOTE:  for those who are interested in the history of the name of this recipe, I would point you toward my friend, Jenna, at The Gleeful Gourmand, who wrote up this version of “Johnny Marzetti“.  I was fascinated to read the back-story of this great recipe, including her own recipe.  Back to my simple Mazetti… here’s the “down and dirty” of making a quick, hearty meal using just a few ingredients.EasyMazetti

Main Ingredients:

  • One package of ground turkey
  • 1-2 cans tomato soup (I would use one can soup and one can of red wine)
  • 1 1/2 cups of your favorite pasta
  • Cheese (for topping, as desired)

Directions:

  1. Brown your ground turkey in a large skillet in a small amount of olive oil or margarine (whatever you have on hand).  I also like to add 1/2-1 whole diced onion or some green pepper if I have things on hand and want to stretch the food a bit.  I typically will add some red wine and brown the turkey and veggies until the liquid is totally absorbed.
  2. Once the turkey is browned and starting to get a bit crispy, add your tomato soup (or soup and water/wine) and your pasta.  I really like to use large elbow macaroni, but have used ziti, bow tie pasta, or even small shells… use your favorite pasta shape but don’t use egg noodles as they won’t hold up to the cooking process.  NOTE:  You are welcome to cook your pasta separately, but I like the way the sauce flavors the pasta pieces.  Again, it’s entirely up to you.
  3. I enjoy playing with flavors at this point, so I have the unique flavor that I want from each mazetti dish.  I have been known to add more red wine at this point, but I’ve also added a shot of espresso (this darkens the flavor considerably), or just some stock or water.  If the liquid is absorbed and the pasta isn’t thoroughly cooked, you just need to add more liquid.  The pasta will soak up the liquid and become more al dente’… don’t ever give up on the dish as you’re cooking.
  4. To serve, you can pop this into a casserole dish, top it with some shredded cheese and warm it up in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until everything is bubbly.  If you’re serving from the skillet, you can either omit the cheese or add it on top just before serving and put the lid on your pan to give the cheese time to melt.  Either way is delicious… my boys have eaten this dish in many different variations and have loved it each time.

An extra way to make this dish special is to top it with buttered bread crumbs.  I have a recipe for making buttered bread crumbs on my website as a “bonus recipe”, included with “How to make a sauce“.  Both of these recipes would qualify as “starter recipes”, so please feel free to check this one out as well. I’ve just added the “starter recipe” tag, so you should be able to find it that way as well.

I hope you’ll check out Jenna’s recipe and her history of this recipe… it’s so interesting to find out where recipes originate! Since my Mother-in-Law lives in Michigan and is originally from Rhode Island, her recipe could be a variation of Johnny Marzetti, but it will forever be one of my favorites from her.  I was so touched when she shared one of her favorite recipes with me… it always reminds me of her, no matter how I actually end up making the final dish… it’s comfort food to me.

  

Starter Recipe: Easy Chicken Pie

A quick note about this new term; “Starter Recipe”… I have two sons who are learning to cook.  E has been playing around with recipes and ingredients for awhile now, but D has just started to venture into making his own meals.  Because of D’s newly found interest, I’m going to start posting recipes (aptly named “Starter Recipes”) to help those, like D, who want to cook but are intimidated by huge lists of ingredients or just want to make something that can be pulled together with things that are easy to keep on hand.  Use the search engine on my blog for more “Starter Recipes”… until I get more recipes posted, here’s our first of what I hope will become a long list of easy-to-follow and delicious recipes.EasyChickenPie

D wanted to use some of the leftover turkey that I had given him to take back to his apartment, but he didn’t just want to make a few sandwiches… he wanted to make a Chicken pie (with turkey).  We started with a short list of ingredients.

Ingredients:

  1. Leftover turkey/chicken NOTE: You can pull meat off a pre-roasted chicken if you don’t have any leftover from a previous meal.
  2. One can of mixed vegetables. NOTE: I like to use a can of “Veg-all” because it includes potatoes.
  3.  One can Cream of Chicken soup, undiluted. NOTE: If I were making this, I would add a bit of white wine here.
  4. One can of pre-made Biscuits NOTE: Use whatever biscuits you like best… these will be your topping.

Directions:

  1. Spray a 9×9 baking pan with cooking spray and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Chop or shred meat and cover the bottom of your pan with bite-sized pieces.
  3. Open and drain the canned vegetables.  Spread them over top the meat in an even layer.
  4. Open and spoon the soup over the vegetables.  If you would prefer to mix these three ingredients together and then pour them into the pan, feel free to do so.  This is your dish, so make it however you like.
  5. Top with approximately 5 biscuits (as shown in the photo).  You can also cut each biscuit into smaller pieces and layer them on top of your pie… again, this is your dish.
  6. Spray top of biscuits with cooking spray (“Pam” is cooking spray) so they brown as they cook.
  7. Put pan in oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling.  Serves 2-4 (depending on serving sizes)

I do hope that you’ll try this recipe, especially if you’ve never cooked before.  Cooking can be a relaxing experience, as long as you have all your ingredients at hand and feel confident that your final outcome will be tasty and satisfying.  By following these recipes, I hope to help you learn how to become more comfortable with cooking for yourself and for others.  There’s really nothing as wonderful as making a meal that satisfies both body and soul.

Enjoy the journey!

Leftover Recipe: Holiday Turkey Casserole

I have to confess that I absolutely LOVE our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.  I love cooking them, I love serving them to my family, and I especially love the leftovers.  Creating a new meal from the leftovers is just so much fun!  Everything has already been cooked at some point, so all you’re really doing is re-assembling the foods in a new and different way… how hard can that be?  TurkeyCasserole

Last year, I used the stuffing to create “stuffing waffles”… if you haven’t tried this before, you HAVE to try it.  They were simply incredible!  You can check out my recipe here, which also talks about topping them with turkey gravy.  Serious “yum” factor here.  This year, I decided not to get the waffle iron down, so I came up with this new casserole.  Same sort of “yum” to the flavor… just a whole new twist.

I layered about 2 cups of our Green Pea Casserole (it’s the same “green bean casserole” that everyone else does… we just use frozen peas instead.  GENIUS!), sprinkled 1 cup of diced turkey on top, then spooned 3/4 cup of leftover gravy just to cover the turkey.  To finish this off, I took scoops of leftover stuffing and put stuffing balls over the entire casserole, then smooshed them down with my fingers to “connect” them as a topping.  Just for extra flavor, I crumbled about 3 slices of bacon over top, but these really weren’t necessary… this casserole was stellar all by itself.

NOTE:  Before you ask where the “wine” is in this recipe, remember that I used wine when I made the stuffing AND the gravy (and usually it’s in the peas as well), so I didn’t really feel the need to add more, but you’re welcome to add a little to the gravy if you think it’s too thick.  Just use your best judgement.  

Once everything was assembled, I baked the casserole for dinner at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until the gravy was visibly bubbling.  This dish was honestly so good that we ate it for two nights in a row… all the flavors of a holiday dinner wrapped up in one meal.  YUM!