Sunday, January 31, 2010

Red Lentil Soup

When we lived in the Persian Gulf our church group put together a cookbook (thanks, Kristin!), and one of my favorite recipes from it is Red Lentil Soup, submitted by Michelle Jordan.  It's easy to make, only takes an hour to cook, and is delicious!  I especially love it on a snowy day, like we're having today.  We serve it with a dollop of plain yogurt on top (you could also use sour cream) and corn bread on the side. 

Red Lentil Soup

2 T olive oil  
15-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp coriander
6 cups broth (chicken, beef, or veggie)
1 T lemon juice
1 lb red lentils (about 2 1/4 cups)
1/2 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Combine everything in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer for 50-60 minutes.  Serves 6.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Veggie Mini-Pies

Tonight I had no plans for dinner.  I have been trying to plan a whole week's worth of menus, but I really only tend to come up with about four for a whole week, and I was out of plans tonight.  I decided to see what fun thing I could come up with on the fly, and decided on making some individual-sized pot pies.  I was going to do chicken but all my chicken was frozen, so I went with just veggies.  You could, of course, use chicken (or any meat).  Just throw it in when the recipe says to put in the veggies.  The great thing about pies is you really could throw in or take out most of the solid ingredients and it would still taste great.  So tailor this to what you have in your kitchen, and enjoy a hot beautiful pie for dinner.  This is the recipe the way I made it.

Veggie Mini-Pies

1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 cup peas, corn, or mixed vegetables (fresh, frozen, or canned)
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1 cup milk, divided
2 T flour
1/2 cup water
1 cup chicken broth
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 425F.  Remove puff pastry from freezer and lay out to thaw.

In a large saucepan heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add all vegetables, thyme and oregano and stir for 1 minute, then add 1/2 cup of milk.  Turn heat to medium and cook for 5-10 minutes, or until carrots are beginning to soften, stirring often.  Add the flour and stir in, then the water, broth, and rest of the milk.  Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a nice boil, then turn down to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, using your individual serving dishes as a guide, cut circles of the puff pastry that are about 1/8" larger than your dish. 

Taste the vegetable mixture and season with salt and pepper as desired.  Divide the vegetable mixture between your serving dishes (mine filled 4 8-oz souffle dishes).  Using the beaten egg, lightly coat the top rim of the serving dishes.  Place a round of puff pastry over each dish, pressing down the overhang, then use a fork to press the edges to the rim.  The overhang and the pressing insure the pastry won't shrink off the edges during baking. 

Brush more of the egg wash over the top of each pie, then place all dishes on a baking sheet.  Bake at 425F for 15 minutes, or until beautifully brown and crispy.  Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 4.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Javanese Chicken Curry

This is another recipe from my M-I-L.  Thanks, Ruth, for all the great things you've taught me, especially to love Indian food!  And I do love it!  In fact, since marrying into this family I've learned to love curry in lots of forms, be it Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, whatever.  It's just good!  I don't like it too spicy (one pepper on the menu is perfect, two is do-able but just barely, three is HOT MAMA get me some chocolate milk!), but I do like it.  This, again, is my version of her recipe.  My kids LOVE this.  I know, they're weird kids.  They love curry, and won't touch mac-n-cheese.  Somehow that doesn't bother me much.

Javanese Chicken Curry

1/2 small onion, chopped
1 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp peanut butter
1 tsp tomato paste
1/4 cup curry powder (I use mild, but you can adjust the spiciness and amount of curry to taste)
1 tsp brown sugar
1 cup cream
2 T butter, melted
4 tsp flour
1 lemon, juiced
1 mango, peeled, pitted, and diced
1 lb chicken, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces (use leftover chicken or grill up 2 large chicken breasts)
Shredded coconut
Chopped almonds
Mango chutney
Steamed rice

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Saute onion and garlic for 1 minute, then add 1 cup of the chicken broth and heat until warm.  Stir in cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, peanut butter, tomato paste, and curry powder.  Stir and simmer 10 minutes, reducing heat to medium-low.  Add remaining broth and the brown sugar, then let simmer while you prepare the cream.

In a small mixing bowl combine the melted butter and flour until a smooth paste forms.  In a separate small saucepan heat the cream over medium-high heat for 1 minute.  Stir in the flour mixture and whisk together until the cream begins to thicken.  Remove from heat and whisk cream mixture into the curry mixture.  Add lemon juice, then stir in mango and chicken.

Serve over hot steamed rice, and top with shredded coconut, sliced almonds, and a hefty dollop of mango chutney.

Serves 5-6.

Mango Chutney

Mango chutney is one of my favorite sides.  I love it.  I love it, I should say, when it's homemade.  I am not a fan of the store-bought stuff, which tastes (to me, anyway) like floor cleaner with some sugar stirred in.  I like my mango chutney sweet and sour and spicy and sticky and delicious.  I love it on curry. It's also good poured abundantly over a whole package of plain cream cheese, and then dipped into with crackers.  My mother-in-law makes a mean mango chutney.  This is her recipe, the way I make it.  It keeps practically forever if you put it in jars in your fridge or freezer.  Enjoy!

Mango Chutney

3 large mangos (unripe is better than ripe)
1 stick cinnamon, or 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 T ginger root, grated OR 1/2 tsp ground dried ginger 
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp chili powder 
1 T salt
1/4 cup white raisins (regular are also fine)
1 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced
4 cups sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Put all ingredients in a large saucepan and stir well.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for about 30 minutes.  It should be really juicy by this point.  Remove the cover, turn the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thick, about 45 minutes.  Pour into jars and let cool completely before covering.  Chutney will thicken upon standing. 

Makes about 6 cups.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is one of my mom's favorite recipes.  She gave me a copy of it a couple of years ago, and I saw that it had the name "Emeril" on it.  So I guess it's actually his recipe!  It's a great one, with such a fun combination of flavors.  And it's super quick--it takes longer to chop up the ingredients than it does to cook it!  I apologize for the lack of photo; we were having friends for dinner and I forgot to snap some photos!

Chicken Tortilla Soup
by Emeril Lagasse

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 T olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 green or red bell pepper, diced
1 T minced garlic
1/2 small jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (about 2 t) OR 1/4 t cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground coriander
3 T lime juice
1 t chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish if desired
1 cup chopped tomatoes
crushed tortilla chips
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
Sour cream (optional)
Cheddar cheese, grated (optional)

Season chicken with salt and pepper and set aside.  Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring 2-3 minutes, or until vegetables are softened.  Add garlic and jalapeno and saute for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add chicken and cook for about 3 minutes. The chicken will brown slightly.  Stir in chicken broth, cumin, coriander, and lime juice.  Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Stir in cilantro and tomatoes and simmer an additional 5 minutes.

To serve, place about 1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips in a serving bowl.  Ladle the hot soup over the chips and garnish with a little cilantro, diced avocado, sour cream, and grated cheese as desired.
Serves 5-6.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Balsamic and Rosemary Roast Chicken

My friend Taunya posted this recipe a few months ago, and I am just now getting around to trying it.  I had never roasted a whole chicken before, but I figured after doing a few Thanksgiving turkeys it would be no problem.  When the boys saw me pull an entire chicken out of a bag they thought it was hilarious, so they took a few pictures.  So luckily I have some pictures of this recipe (though they are post-drumstick)!

This was pretty easy to make, though it does have to cook a long time.  We loved the 'dipping sauce,' and the kids did as well.  We served it with my whole wheat and flax seed bread and some steamed veggies; she recommended to serve it with roasted potatoes and salad.  Either way, it was delicious!

Balsamic and Rosemary Roast Chicken

1 whole roasting chicken, about 4 pounds
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 clove of garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 sprigs fresh rosemary

Dipping Sauce:
2 teaspoons soy sauce
8 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 to 4 teaspoons brown sugar

Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold running water. Pat it dry with paper towels.
In a small bowl, mince together 1 tablespoon of rosemary and 1 clove of garlic. Loosen the chicken skin (you may need to cut the membrane at the front a bit) and rub the flesh with olive oil and then the herb mixture. Sprinkle with black pepper. Put 2 rosemary sprigs into the cavity of the chicken. Place the chicken in a roasting bag and put 2 more rosemary springs next to the chicken. Refrigerate up to 24 hours before cooking. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes per pound (about 1 hour 20 minutes) at 350 degrees.

Just before serving, in a small saucepan, combine the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Heat until warmed but don't boil.

Carve the chicken and remove the skin. Use the sauce as a dipping sauce while eating.

Whole Wheat Bread with Flax Seeds

Thursday night, after making that calzone and cinnamon roll dinner, I attended an activity sponsored by our church about Heart Healthy Eating.  Needless to say I was instantly reminded of the unhealthy dinner I had just eaten, and vowed to do better.  Actually, I'm pretty healthy most of the time, eating mostly whole-grains, and a fair amounts of fruits and veggies, etc.  ANYWAY, the one thing that I left with was the benefits of Flax Seeds.

Flax seeds are apparently the best source of Omega-3 fatty acids out there, better than salmon or walnuts or anything else by a large margin.  Omega's are the ones that improve your good (HDL) cholesterol and lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol.  Flax seeds also have lots of fiber, and other scientific things that I can't remember but are very good for us.  So on Friday when I went to the store I bought some flax seeds.

First thing to know about flax seeds is that they can jam up your very expensive wheat grinder, and if you don't have a husband who can fix things that's very bad news.  The good thing is that a coffee grinder grinds them perfectly without any jamming.  First lesson learned!

So I decided to make some whole wheat bread with both ground flax seeds as well as some whole flax seeds, just to see how it would work out.  Honestly, this is the best bread I've ever tasted.  I love it.  We ate half a loaf with dinner last night and the rest of it is already gone today.  I'm going to make more tomorrow, but this time double the recipe so I can eat it for longer than a day.  So here it is!

Whole Wheat Bread with Flax Seeds

1 cup scalded milk (scalded means you bring it to a boil, then immediately remove from heat)
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 T canola oil
1 T yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 egg
2 cups white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup ground flax seeds (flax meal)
3 T whole flax seeds

In a large bowl, combine the scalded milk, honey, salt, and oil.  Let sit until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.  In a small bowl, combine the yeast and warm water.  Let sit 5 minutes.  Add the egg to the milk mixture and mix well, then add the yeast mixture and stir again.  Add the flours and flax meal and mix until a soft dough forms, then add the whole flax seeds and stir until evenly distributed.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5-8 minutes.  Shape into a smooth ball and place in a greased bowl.  Brush the top of the dough with oil, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 1- 1 1/2 hours.  Punch dough down, then shape into a loaf shape.  Place in a greased loaf pan and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Let rise in warm place until double, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Bake at 375F for 30 minutes.  Makes one loaf, though recipe is easily doubled or tripled.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I had plans to make something else for dinner tonight but we were missing a few key ingredients and I didn't have time to go to the store today (Crazy Thursdays at our house), so I decided to make Calzone instead.  They're easy, I had everything on hand, and I knew I could use the leftover dough to make cinnamon rolls for dessert.  So other than my arteries, nobody was complaining!

You can use your favorite pizza dough recipe, or if you're in a hurry you can use this recipe:

Quick Bread Dough

2 1/4 cups warm water
2 T yeast
2 T sugar
1 T salt
5-6 cups flour

Preheat oven to 425F.  Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water.  Set aside for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine 5 cups flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add the yeast mixture and mix until a dough forms.  Turn onto floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, incorporating as much of the remaining cup of flour as necessary.  Form into a ball and cover;  let rest for 15 minutes.  Punch dough down, then form into desired shape.  Let rest additional 10 minutes, then bake for 13-15 minutes.


Pizza or bread dough
Pizza or pasta sauce
Mozzarella cheese, sliced or grated
Favorite pizza toppings, such as (pre-cooked) meat, peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives, etc.

Using a ball of dough that is approximately 3 inches in diameter, roll into a 1/4"-thick circle.  Or, if you are making one large calzone, use a 6-inch ball of dough and roll into a large 1/4"-thick circle.  Spread pizza sauce on half of the circle, leaving a 1/2" border around edge.  Then place desired pizza toppings, followed by mozzarella cheese.  Pull the empty dough over the top of the filled dough, essentially 'folding' the circle of dough in half, to form a half-circle.  Seal the edges of the half-circle with fingers or by pressing the flat tines of a fork against the edges.  Carefully remove the calzone and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet.  Let rest 10 minutes.

Bake calzones for approximately 13 minutes at 425F, or until lightly browned on top.  Let cool 5 minutes before serving, as cheese and other filling will be extremely hot!

If you use my dough recipe, you can make approximately 12 small calzones or 4 large ones.  Or you can use half the dough, and make 15 cinnamon rolls with the rest!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cobb Salad

Cobb Salad is one of my all-time favorite salads.  This recipe is originally from America's Test Kitchen, with only a few changes by me.  It is a little more time-consuming to make than your average throw-it-all-together salad, but it doesn't take much longer than making an average cooked dinner.  And since its so delicious and covers your basic dinner needs (i.e., protein and veggies), you can eat it as a meal in and of itself.  Which is what I did tonight.  Since it's a salad, you can leave out an ingredient or two and it won't horribly change the overall flavor.  It also keeps pretty well for an extra day, so you can have the leftovers for lunch.

Cobb Salad

Chicken Ingredients:
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T salt
1/2 cup sugar

Dissolve salt and sugar in 1 qt cool water in a large Ziplock bag.  Submerge the chicken and let brine in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Adjust oven rack so it is 6 inches from the broiler element.  Remove chicken from the brine solution and dry with paper towels.  Place on a greased broiler pan and broil 3 1/2 to 4 minutes per side, or until lightly browned and cooked throughout.
Slice chicken on the bias into 1/4-inch-thick pieces; set aside.

Dressing Ingredients:
1/2 t Dijon mustard
1 t lemon juice
1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
1 small clove garlic, minced (about 1/2 t)
2 T red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 t sugar
1/4 t salt
pinch ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together.  Set aside.

Salad Ingredients:
8 cups salad greens (romaine, Boston, iceberg, endive, watercress, arugula, etc.  I usually buy the Organics mix)
2 hard-boiled eggs, each sliced into 8 slices
2 avocados, sliced into 1/2" wide slices
2 medium tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4" wedges
6 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
1 T minced fresh chives
2 oz blue or feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/4 cup)

Toss the salad greens with 1/3 cup of the dressing in a large salad bowl.  Arrange chicken slices and wedges of hard-boiled egg on top of greens and drizzle with 2 T of the dressing.  Toss the avocados and tomatoes in the remaining dressing, then arrange over the salad.  Sprinkle bacon, chives, and cheese over the salad.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6 as a main course.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cherry Crisp

The other day I was dreaming of Tiger's Blood--you know, that slushee flavor that was everyone's favorite.  I learned once that it was cherry mixed with coconut, and my what a delicious combination.  That thought led to me thinking about another great cherry combo, that being the cherry-almond mix that was the original scent of so many liquid handsoaps.  I thought, I would love a cherry dessert that incorporates coconut and almonds!  And this is the brainchild of my reminiscing.  It is to die for, and will create lasting memories of its own!

Cherry Crisp

 Cherry Filling Ingredients:
1 16-oz can cherries, packed in water
1/2 cup sugar
1 T cornstarch
2 tsp. butter
1 tsp lemon juice
3 drops red food coloring

Drain the cherries, reserving the juice.  Mix together sugar, cornstarch, and reserved juice in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and boil 1 minutes, stirring constantly.  Turn heat to medium and stir in butter, lemon juice, and food coloring.  Remove from heat and add cherries.  Keep in hot pan while you make the topping.

Topping ingredients:
6 T flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 T shredded coconut
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup chopped almonds
6 T butter, chilled and cut into 1/2" pieces

Preheat oven to 400F.  Mix all dry ingredients, then cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until evenly distributed throughout.

To assemble:
Pour cherry mixture into an 8" or 9" square pan.  Spread topping evenly over cherry mixture.  Bake at 400F for 20 minutes.  Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

French Bread

I was looking through all my old cookbooks and found a series of little cookbooks called "Confident Cooking."  I decided to browse the bread one and found this fantastic recipe for French Bread.  I was amazed how much it was like a real baguette, and I was in heaven with memories of my sister and I sitting in Paris and eating freshly made baguette. Yum!

French Bread

2 1/4 - 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour (if you don't have this you can use all white)
1 t salt
1 packet (1 T) yeast
1 cup warm water
1 egg white
1 T water

1.  Oil your largest baking sheet.  In a small bowl, soften the yeast in the 1 cup warm water; let sit 5 minutes.  Mix together the 2 1/4 cup white flour with the wheat flour and the salt in a large bowl.  Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour the yeast mixture in.  Using a wooden spoon, mix the dough into a rough sticky ball.
2.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead for 10 minutes, incorporating up to 1/4 cup more flour if necessary, until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Place dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and brush surface of dough with oil.  Cover tightly and set in warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled.
3.  Punch down dough and then turn onto lightly floured surface.  Knead one minute, then roll or flatten dough into an 18"x7" rectangle.  Roll up firmly into a long sausage shape.  Taper the ends, then place diagonally on your prepared baking sheet.  Cover tightly and set aside in a warm place for about 40 minutes, or until well-risen.
4.  Preheat oven to 425F.  Pour 2 cups of water into a shallow baking dish (like a pie tin) and place on the lowest rack in the oven.  This helps make the crust of the bread.  Combine the egg white and 1 T water, then brush gently over the loaf.  Slash the loaf diagonally with a sharp knife at regular intervals about 2 inches apart.  Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.  Lower the oven temperature to 350F, re-brush the loaf with the egg wash, and bake for another 15 minutes.
5.  Remove from sheet and cool on a wire rack.  Best if eaten same day.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sweet and Sour Chicken

When I was a kid and we would go to a Chinese restaurant, the only thing I would ever order was Sweet and Sour Chicken.  Years ago, when my brother and sister-in-law lived in Hawaii, they got me a Hawaiian cookbook.  I was delighted to find this recipe in it, which is a more Hawaiian version of sweet and sour chicken.  Their directions were terrible and their quantities and cooking times were also pretty off, so I revamped the recipe a few times, until I came up with this version. I love it!

Sweet and Sour Chicken

1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken (breasts, tenders, thighs, whatever you prefer)
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 T oil
1 red or green bell pepper, sliced in 1/4"-thick rings
1 (10 oz) cans of pineapple in juice (rings or chunks), drained, reserving juice
OR 6-8 fresh pineapple rings

3/4 cups pineapple juice
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 T corn starch
1 t ground ginger
1 cup sugar
1 cube of chicken bullion

Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut the chicken into 1" cubes.  Place flour, salt, and pepper in a large Ziplock bag.  Add chicken and toss to coat.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add floured chicken and cook about 5 minutes, turning once, or until very lightly browned.  Remove chicken from pan and place in a 9"x13" pan.  Arrange peppers and pineapple on top of chicken and put in oven for 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce.  Put all ingredients in medium saucepan.  Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.  Boil for 2 minutes, still stirring, until sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from heat and pour over already-baking chicken.  Continue to cook chicken with sauce until fully cooked.

Serve over rice.

Serves 6.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I made this for dinner on Sunday, and we did an impromptu invite of another family from church, which meant that there weren't a ton of leftovers.  Like, not enough for a weeks worth of meals like I was hoping.  And then I ended up taking the leftovers to a friend who just sprained her ankle, which meant that there weren't ANY leftovers for me.

I've been thinking about it non-stop since then, so when I was at Costco today I bought the meat to make it again.  Really, since it was Costco, I bought enough meat to make it again tonight as well as three more times in the future.

This is so easy, and sooo delicious.  Just thinking about it now is making me drool.  Really.  My keyboard is slippery with slobber. Try it.  You'll thank me.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

1/2 pork shoulder (even half of it is a huge chunk of meat)
1 packet dry onion soup mix (I use Lipton)
1/2 cup water

Sandwich buns (I like whole wheat with poppy seeds)
Barbecue sauce (your favorite brand)

Spray a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray, then put in the meat.  Sprinkle the onion soup mix on top, then pour in the water.  Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or until meat falls apart when touched with a fork.

Using two forks, shred the meat, removing fatty bits as you go.  Spoon about a half a cup onto a sandwich bun, then top with a good drizzle of barbecue sauce.  Enjoy.  Finger lickin' good.

Serves about 8, unless everyone goes back for seconds.  Which they will.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Irma's Raspberry Dessert

For me, this dessert is the best part of Christmas!  The recipe is my grandmother's, and I think it's one that will be passed down forever.  It's just that good. 

Make this the day ahead, and be prepared to use every bowl in your house for the making of it!

As a note, Danish Dessert is made by a company called Junket, and can be purchased on  I can't find it in the stores here, but in Utah they do sell it in the grocery stores.

Grandma Irma's Raspberry Dessert
Makes one 9x13" pan and one 9" square pan

Crust Layer:
1 stick butter, melted
2 sleeves graham crackers, crushed
1/2 cup sugar

Mix all together and press into bottom of one 9"x13" pan and one 9" square pan.  Refrigerate to set.

Raspberry Layer:
3 cups frozen raspberries
2 packages raspberry flavored Danish Dessert

Thaw and drain the raspberries, saving the juice.  Set aside.  Mix the Danish Dessert according to the package directions for Pie Filling, substituting the raspberry juice for part of the water.  After cooked on stove, put in fridge to cool slightly, then stir in raspberries.  Set aside to cool.
Cream Layer:
2 8-oz packages of cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 large carton of Cool Whip OR 4 cups sweetened whipped cream (whipped, of course)

Whip cream cheese until smooth, then add sugar.  Mix with whipped cream or cool whip.

To Assemble:
Spread cream layer on top of crust layer, then spread cooled raspberry layer on top.  Refrigerate overnight.  Cut into squares to serve.

Carmelized New Potatoes

This is my mother-in-law's recipe, and I LOVE it.  After watching her do it a hundred times I think I finally have the technique down.  There are two tricks that you must do or it won't work. The first one is to rinse the potatoes right before you put them in the sugar so they are wet.  The second one is to keep cooking past the time when the sugar hardens a bit; it will melt again and stick to the potatoes.  Let me know if you have questions!

Ruth's Carmelized New Potatoes

10-12 new white potatoes (the small ones), or as many as will fit in a large skillet
1 cup white sugar

The morning before you want to eat these potatoes, boil the potatoes in salted water until they are very tender, about 20-30 minutes.  Try not to poke them too much when testing to see if they're done.  They should remain as whole as possible.  After they're fully cooked, drain them and set them aside to cool. 

About 15 minutes prior to eating, peel the skins off the cool potatoes.  Throw the skins away and set the peeled whole potatoes aside. 

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the sugar over medium to medium-high heat.  For awhile it won't do anything, then it will begin to melt.  You don't need to stir it.  When it's fully melted, give the potatoes a quick rinse in water, then carefully transfer them to the skillet.  BE CAREFUL!  Melted sugar can cause serious burns, as my right ring finger can attest!

Once all the potatoes are in the skillet, start stirring them gently with a heat-proof spoon or stiff spatula.  The sugar may crystalize or harden a bit, but keep on stirring.  If it looks like the sugar is burning, turn the heat down a little, but not below medium heat.  After about 5 minutes the potatoes should be coated in the melted sugar, and there won't be much left over in the pan.  Remove from heat and serve.

Mandarin Pork Tenderloin

This is what we had as the main course for Christmas Dinner.  It's a recipe I got from a church dinner a long time ago, when J and I had just gotten married, and its been one of my favorites ever since.  Here it is:

Mandarin Pork Tenderloin

Pork tenderloin (two sections)
2 t salt
1 t season all
1 t orange zest
1/2 t minced garlic
1/2 t dry mustard
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/2 t dried thyme
1 T oil
1/2 can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
3 T honey

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix salt, season all, orange zest, garlic, mustard, pepper, and thyme in a small bowl.  Pat onto all sides of meat. 

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown the meat on all sides, then transfer to a baking dish (I use a 9x13" pan). 

In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice concentrate and the honey.  Pour over the meat in the baking dish.  Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes at 350F, or until meat reaches an internal temperature of 170F.  Can baste periodically while cooking if desired.

We served this with carmelized new potatoes, steamed green beans, salad, and rolls.