Friday, June 28, 2013

Jane's Dressing

Jane’s Dressing
(about 1 ½ cups)


1Tsp. Dry Mustard
1/3 Cup Sugar
1Tsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Poppy Seeds
2 Tbsp. Dry Onion
½ Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 Cup Canola Oil


Mix all the ingredients in a medium size bowl or a jar with a tight lid. In the bowl, you will need whisk the ingredients together. In the jar, you will just need to shake it well. Once you have it mixed, pour on salad as needed. Be sure to refrigerate any leftover dressing for a future use.

Note: The dressing recipe makes more than you will probably use for the salad recipe in this book. When you refrigerate the dressing, you will notice that it will solidify a little. To use again, leave out at room temperature about an hour before needing it or microwave it for a few seconds and then shake well. Microwave time will vary by microwave, so use 5 or 10 seconds at a time and repeat as needed.

Note: This dressing is very good on any salad in my opinion. So try it on other salad inventions you make to eat.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Jane's Salad

Jane’s Salad
(6-8 entree servings)


3 Heads of Romaine Lettuce, chopped
1 ½ Cup Whole Cashews
1 ½ Cup Craisins
2 Granny Smith Apples, diced and unpeeled
2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 ½ lb. Grilled Chicken Breast, sliced (hot or cold)
Dressing recipe follows


Combine all the ingredients except the sliced chicken and mix together. Add the dressing for this salad and toss well. The amount of dressing is based on your personal tastes. Divide the salad on dinner plates or large pasta bowls and top with the sliced chicken and serve.

Note: You can also try grilled salmon instead of chicken with this salad.

Note: You can also omit the protein and reduce the serving size to make a great first course salad for a dinner.

Note: You can mix everything up with or without the chicken in the large bowl and let everyone just serve themselves for a buffet style dinner.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Italian Baked Chicken

Italian Baked Chicken
(4-6 servings)


1 Cup Italian Bread Crumbs
1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/8 Cup Dry Parsley
¼ Tsp. Garlic Powder
1 Tsp. Salt
½ Tsp. Black Pepper
8 Tbsp. Butter
6 – 4 to 6 oz. BLSL Chicken Breasts


Mix the first 6 ingredients together in a large dish. Next melt the butter in the microwave in a flat microwaveable dish. To melt butter use 10 to 15 second times on high in the microwave. Repeat until butter has melted. You don’t want it too hot. Using the dry hand wet hand method put a piece of chicken in the butter and then the bread crumb mixture. Place coated chicken on a sheet pan and repeat process until all the chicken is coated. Place in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until nicely browned and chicken is done. You may need to adjust time based on piece size and oven.

Note: You can pound out the chicken to get a uniformed thickness. It does help in the cooking process.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Book Signing in Mantorville

My assistant and I at our book signing
This past Saturday I had a book signing at the "County Seat Coffeehouse" in Mantorville.  We had a great time and met some wonderful people.  Especially, Kristin (co-owner) and her daughter.  Kristin and her partner offer great food and, of course, delicious coffee drinks.  They offer a variety of sandwiches, salads, soups and desserts for lunch.  Breakfast is offered all day.  The soups, desserts and breakfast pastries are freshly made each day.  It's a neat little town about 20 miles from Rochester, MN.  If you get an opportunity to visit Mantorville, please stop by the "County Seat Coffeehouse" and say "Hi!" for me.  My blog assistant enjoyed her time there too as you can see by the photo.

Because of the book signing this past week, I was looking back through the cookbook and decided to give you a couple of my favorite recipes from "More Than Your First Cookbook."  The first is an entree called "Italian Baked Chicken."  The coating you use for the chicken can be used on pork chops with as tasty a result as the original.  The second recipe is for "Jane's Salad" which can be used as a side dish or an entree salad for a satisfying meal.  On Friday, I'll put the recipe for "Jane's Dressing" which is needed if you're going to make "Jane 's Salad" work.  This dressing works well on just about any salad you wish to put it on too.

Maybe trying these recipes will get some of you that don't have my cookbook yet to get moving.  Remember you can get in "print" or as an "e-book."  Just go to the right side of the blog page and click on the link to buy the cookbook.  Thanks in advance to those that make a purchase.

Well enjoy the week and "Happy Cooking."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Olive Crostini

Olive Crostini


1 cup Pitted Kalamata Olives, drained
6 fillets Anchovies
2 tbsp. Capers, drained
2 cloves Fresh Garlic, peeled
¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
16 slices Crostini (see note)


Place the olives, anchovies, capers and garlic in a food processor. Finely chop this mixture and turn out into a medium bowl. Stir in the olive oil until well mixed. Spread the mixture on the Crostini pieces and serve.

Note: Cut a baguette on the bias to make 16 ½ inch slices. Discard the ends for another use.

Note: As a variation, top each completed slice with some fresh mozzarella and bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 5 minutes before serving.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hot Spice Olives

Hot Spiced Olives
(3 cups)


4 cloves Fresh Garlic, peeled
2 cups Kalamata Olives, drained
2 (1-inch) springs Fresh Rosemary (or 1 tsp. Dried Rosemary)
2 (1-inch) strips Fresh Orange Zest
½ tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
½ tsp. Black Peppercorns
1 cup (about) Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Using the side of a chef knife, lightly crush the garlic & remove the stem end. In a quart jar, layer ½ cup of olives, 2 garlic cloves, a rosemary sprig, a piece of zest and 1/8 tsp. of red pepper and peppercorns. Repeat this layering three more times. Now add the oil to just cover the ingredients. Seal with a lid and refrigerate at least 1 week. As the olives are used, add additional oil to keep ingredients covered. Serve olives at room temperature. They will keep at least a month in the refrigerator.

Note: You can easily double the recipe.

Note: You can also use black olives in this recipes or a mixture.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Part 10 of Italian (Antipasto) Cooking

Nora's New Car
As you can see in the photo, my "blog assistant" has a NEW car.  OMG, she is only one year old (ha!ha!).  I was 21 when I got my first car (and it was used-really used).  My first NEW car was at the age of 23.  She is really enjoying it and already knows where the horn is and how to use it.  I wonder if I tell her parents what I need if I'll get one?  She's teaching the old guy some new things too.  I hope I'm a quick learner.

Just a reminder that I'm having a book signing coming up this Saturday.  That is Saturday, June 22nd, at "County Seat Coffeehouse" in Mantorville, Minnesota.  The address is 1 5th W Street and I'll be there between 1:00 and 3:00 PM.  If you, family and/or friends are in the area, please stop in and see me.  Mantorville is just a little west of Rochester in case you're not familiar with the area.  Also help spread the word for me.  Thanks.

Now let's talk "Italian."  The week it's "Antipasto" and what that means in Italian cooking.  Antipasto literally means "Before the Meal."  In Italian culture, it would be the first course, an appetizer or the beginning of the feast.

It can  be almost anything in the line of food but generally follows a few basic rules.  Antipasto dishes are usually easy to make, use fresh ingredients that are in season and don't require difficult cooking techniques.  One of these dishes maybe a salad, vegetables (usually pickled or roasted), fish or seafood, cold meats, cheeses and/or breads.  They can be an individual dish or a platter of assorted items.

The best thing about it, these dishes are usually light and healthy (or at least somewhat) because of the fresh ingredients being used.  Also there are marinades and olive oil instead of heavy dressings when needed for a dish.  It's all about flavor and color too.

Even though "Antipasto" is suppose to be the first course, many of the recipes can be used as side dishes or even a main course.  It can make for a light and refreshing dinner.

Many other cultures have something similar to the Italians.  In Spain, there are "Tapas" although they are a little more involved in cooking processes and many just make them their meal.  The USA has it's onion rings, artichoke dips, etc. too.  But it is just a little more defined in the Italian culture.

So try to take advantage of the many "Antipasto" dishes and try eating and making them.

Tenuta's in Kenosha, WI
I have two easy recipes this week.  Both have to do with olives.  So on my recent visit to Tenuta's (my favorite Italian grocery store and deli) in Kenosha, Wisconsin, I took a photo of their olive offerings in the deli case.  If you have not tried all the varieties of olives available at many local grocery stores, please do so.  There are some great ones out there besides just the green and black ones many of us are used to eating.  Have an adventure and see what other olives you may like as much or even more.

The first is for "Hot Spiced Olives" and is made at least a week before you need them.  They will last a few months in the refrigerator (assuming they are hidden because they will be eaten quickly).  You can adjust the heat level and mix and match olives.  The olives can be pitted or not.  However, the unpitted are better for this dish.  Just have a bowl for the pits.

The second recipe this week is for "Olive Crostini" and works well for parties too.  Now many may go "icky" because this recipe calls for "Anchovies."  They are chopped up in your food processor so you will never see them in the spread.  However, they give great flavor to the dish.  Actually, that goes for any dish that calls for them.  Please give them a try.  You'll be surprised at the result.

Enjoy the olive recipes and "Happy Cooking"  until next week.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tasty Stuffed Pork Chops

Tasty Stuffed Pork Chops


2 tbsp. Butter
½ cup Yellow Onion, chopped
1 cup Fresh Mushrooms, chopped
¼ tsp. Dried Sage
¼ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Black Pepper
1 cup Bread Crumbs
2 tbsp. Vegetable Broth (can use water)
4 (1 ½ inch thick) Bone-in Rib Pork Chops
as needed Salt & Black Pepper


In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat and add the onions and mushrooms. Saute until tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and add the sage, salt, pepper and bread crumbs. Now add enough of the broth to moisten and hold stuffing together. Set aside and take each pork chop and trim excess fat off. Then cut a pocket in each chop into the bone but leaving 3 sides intact. Sprinkle the inside of pockets with salt and pepper. Spoon the stuffing into the pockets and secure with kitchen twine or toothpicks. Place the chops in a 9x13 baking dish, add any remaining stuffing and broth before covering. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Under the dish and continue baking for another 20 minutes or until chops are tender and done. Remove twine or tooth before serving.

Note: Add 1/3 cup of sour cream or plain yogurt to stuffing before putting it in chop for a little different taste.

Note: When buying pork chops look for pale pink ones. The darker colored ones tend to be t ough and have less flavor.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Marinated Flank Steak

Marinated Flank Steak


1 medium Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
¾ cup White Wine (can use chicken broth instead)
¼ cup White-Wine Vinegar
2 tbsp. Canola Oil
1 tbsp. Fresh Basil (or 1 tsp. dried basil)
½ tsp. Salt
as desired Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 ½ lb. Flank Steak
1 large clove Fresh Garlic, halved


In a shallow glass baking dish, combine the onion, wine, vinegar, oil, basil, salt and red pepper. Make many slits in the steak at an angle with the sharp point of the knife. Now rub both sides of the steak with the garlic halves and then place steak in the marinade turning to coat. Cover dish and place in refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes. Remove dish from the refrigerator, remove steak and pat dry with paper towels. Grill steak over medium-high heat (gas or charcoal) for about 6 minutes per side for a medium doneness. A little less or more if you prefer a different doneness for your steak. Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes covered with foil. Slice the steak on the bias across the grain starting at the thin end. Serve when sliced.

Note: Remember to discard the marinade after removing the steak.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Father's Day Coming Up Sunday

The first thing I'd like to tell everyone is I have another book signing coming up.  It is Saturday, June 22nd, at "County Seat Coffeehouse" in Mantorville, Minnesota.  The address is 1 5th W Street and I'll be there between 1:00 and 3:00 PM.  If you, family and/or friends are in the area, please stop in and see me.  Mantorville is just a little west of Rochester in case you're not familiar with the area.  Also help spread the word for me.  Thanks.

This Sunday is "Father's Day" in the USA.  I'm not sure if any other country celebrates this day.  If anyone (some of you blog followers from other countries) could let me know please.  I'd appreciate the knowledge.

As best that I can remember, my dad always told me that "If you didn't learn something new today, it was a wasted day."  My father passed away when I was just 19 years old.  I've always attributed that to him and tried to live my life by it too.  I don't remember too many days that I didn't learn something.  That probably came from my mother.  She has always been inquisitive about anything and everything.

Friends and former fellow workers would always ask me little known questions.  Most the time I had the answers.  I've was teased about knowing all these obscure bits of knowledge.  But I enjoy learning, just never liked it when I was in school.

I think I did a pretty good job as a dad.  I seemed to have had more than just my own look at me as a father figure.  I enjoyed that too.  Now I'm working on being a good grandfather.  Hopefully my blog assistant (granddaughter) will think so too as she grows.

Well enough about me and Father's Day.  Many a dad likes his protein so this week I have 2 recipes that should be a hit for them.  The first is "Marinated Flank Steak" and you might be surprised that the marinade uses white wine instead of red.  The second one is for "Tasty Stuffed Pork Chops" and these are baked.  The flank steak is for the grill.  Now if you don't feel comfortable on the grill, I'm sure dad would be more than willing to do the grilling.  Even on his special day.

Now the blog already has quite a few recipes that would be great for Father's Day.  Whether you are looking for an entree, side dish or dessert, just go to the top of the page and click on the recipe section you need.

I want to wish ALL the DADS out there a very "Happy Father's Day" and "Happy Cooking" too.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Basic Sangria Recipe

A Basic Sangria Recipe
(about ½ gallon)


2 (750 ml) bottles Dry Red Wine
2 tbsp. Sugar
2 large Oranges, juiced
2 large Lemons, juiced
1 large Orange, sliced (¼ inch) crosswise
1 large Lemon, sliced (¼ inch) crosswise
4 medium Peaches, peeled, pitted & sliced
2 cups Club Soda, cold


Combine all ingredients except the club soda in a large container with a lid. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours before serving. Just before serving, add the club soda and mix.

Note: You can change this recipe up by adding different fruits to the mix. Let your taste-buds be your guide.

Note: You may want to try using a dry white wine if you are not into the red wines.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Homemade Lemonade

Homemade Lemonade
(about ¾ of a gallon)


2 cups Water
2 cups Sugar
2 cups Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
8 cups Water


In a large sauce pan, combine the 2 cups of water and sugar. Over medium-high heat bring mixture to a boil and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Set this mixture aside to cool and squeeze lemons to produce the amount of juice needed. In a large bowl or beverage container mix the lemon juice, water/sugar mixture (simple syrup) and remaining water. Taste the lemonade a few times before adding all the additional water. You may need more or less based on your taste desires.

Note: This recipe can be easily halved or doubled depending on the amount you will need.

Note: A nice trick so that the lemonade does not get diluted is to pour some of a batch into ice cube trays and freeze. This way you can keep the lemonade cold during a party by using these ice cubes without losing the quality of your lemonade.

Note: You can also flavor your lemonade with additional ingredients. For example, try adding strawberries for a “Strawberry-Lemonade” drink.

Note: This drink can be made into an adult beverage by adding some of your favorite spirits. I prefer vodka or tequila in my lemonade.

Note: Don't forget that you can make an “Arnold Palmer“ drink by adding fresh brewed tea. It is just a 50/50 mix of the lemonade and tea.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Summertime Drinks

Our Tour Guide, Brandon
Before I get into this week's topic, I 'd like to share a little of my experience at the "World's Largest Bratfest" I attended over Memorial Day Weekend.  It takes place in Madison, Wisconsin each year on Memorial Day Weekend.  It  is a 4-day event with lots of entertainment (bands, carnival rides, etc.) and fireworks.  This year was down a little in attendance because of the weather but still a good time.  Claudia and I enjoyed our nephew, Brandon, acting as our tour guide.  He lives in Madison and recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin.  Just to give you an idea of the size of these "Bratfest," the "largest single day consumption" of brats was over 209,000.  I guess they have some hungry people that attend this event.  I suggest that if you are ever near Madison on Memorial Day Weekend, you take in the event and have a brat for me.  Now to this week's topic, "Summertime Drinks."  Oh, the "Bratfest" had a great variety of beverages too.  If that might help get you there.

As we get into the joy of summer everyone gets outside more.  We tend to have more get-together's with family and friends (large & small).  One of  the nice things to offer when hosting one of these is a punch or large quantity drink.  It makes it much easier than dealing with all those individual beverages and trying to satisfy everyone with their favorite choice.

Now you may still have to offer some individual beverages especially if you have a mixed crowd of adults and children.  But by offering a quantity style drink you can cut back on the number and types of individual drinks.  I'd be sure to offer one of these type drinks to both the adults and the children.  Just be sure to make them look different so you can easily tell if the children are getting into the wrong beverage.

An adult punch or drink is a nice touch to add to beer and wine parties.  There are some people just not into beer and wine.  It's also good to have a non-alcoholic beverage for those adults that don't partake in adult beverages.  A punch or some other quantity style beverage makes it much easier on party planning and all the running around one does to get ready.

I have two recipes this week which are both easy to throw together.  The first is a non-alcoholic drink that can be converted into an adult beverage by just adding your favorite hard liquor.  It is "Homemade Lemonade" and it doesn't take long to make and the results will make you a big hit with the consumers.

I much in one of the notes in the recipe that making a batch and freezing it in ice cube trays is a great way to keep the dispenser of it cold.  By using the lemonade ice cubes you don't dilute the drink so the last drink tastes as good as the first one of the night.

You can do this with most of your non-alcoholic drinks.  It doesn't work well for the adult beverages because alcohol doesn't freeze.  You can get great slushie drinks with many of  the adult beverages but not good ice cubes.

Another note on that recipe this week mentions the drink called the "Arnold Palmer."  That is just a 50/50 mix of lemonade and fresh brewed tea.  If you make a large batch of it, I'd just make lemonade ice cubes and not any tea ones.  Just doesn't have the look you want.

The second recipe for the week is for "A Basic Sangria Recipe"  The nice thing about this recipe is you can make changes to meet your tastes.  Be sure and give it a try.

I know this week I'm only offering two drink recipes when there are hundreds of them out there.  Don't be afraid to jump on the internet and fine some others.  There are also a few other drink recipes under the "Drink Recipes" tab at the top of the blog page.  Check those out too.

Have a great summer cooking and drinking just be sure to watch the weather and make the needed adjustments.  "Happy Cooking!"