Saturday, August 13, 2011

Salmon Baked in Foil

My family and I would eat fish every day if we could.  It's common knowledge that Isabella is a fish, just kidding.  She just loves the water so much and would spend her whole day at the beach if we let her.LOL

Most nights we head to the beach after work.  This makes dinner time a bit tight if I want to go with them, after all...someone has to cook the dinner.  On these nights when I know that we will be gone or leaving very soon, I will make a fish dish.  

I find that fish is very easy if you stick with simple and fresh ingredients.  I love using (and not all together) olive oil, butter, lemon, capers, onions, garlic, cilantro, salt, pepper and a big piece of foil when making our fish dinners. 

We also use our outside grill when making our fish dishes.  Some times I will skewer the scallops or shrimp.  Once in a while, I will cook fish directly on the grill, but only if it is nice and clean.  I only want the grill marks not last night's rib dinner.

I don't buy fish and freeze it.  I always try to buy if fresh, and living at the beach, it is usually quite fresh.  Some times we even get a catch from that day.  YIPEE!  This salmon is not local, of course, and we did buy it from Whole Foods.  They have a wonderful selection of fish, fresh and frozen.  I learned that salmon comes in a wide range of colors and tastes.  The gentleman who helped me asked how "fishy" I wanted my salmon to be.  For this dinner, I decided to try something in the middle and you will see the piece that I selected above.

I wanted the fish to shine and so I chose to serve it with brown rice and a simple cabbage salad.  I used very few ingredients in preparing my salmon.  I wanted to taste the fish.  I hope you enjoy this simple recipe and you can see how simple and easy a piece of salmon can be to prepare for your family.

Salmon with Lemon and Cilantro

1 large piece of salmon  (this piece of fish served my family of 5 with no leftovers.)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lemon, sliced very thin
1 handful of fresh cilantro

I like to make this on our grill.  I will set the grill outside to medium heat and have this started before I prepare the fish so that the temperature and the inside of the grill are evenly heated and ready to go.

Grab a large piece of heavy-duty foil.  Lay our salmon with the skin down and the red meat up. I sprinkle the EVOO all over the fish.  I take my thinly sliced lemons and lay a row down the middle.   You can do the whole top, but this makes for a very lemony flavor.  I then add my fresh herbs.  I had cilantro for this dinner so that is what I used.  I lay them on the edges and wrap up my foil.

I like the medium heat with the fish because it cooks the fish slowly and gives the herbs and lemon a chance to season the fish.  I would check your salmon after 15 minutes to see if it is to your doneness.  Some people like their salmon not cooked all the way.  We like ours flaky and so I tend to cook the salmon for about 20 minutes.

I serve each person a piece that is 2 inches wide and cut all the way across.  This seems to be a good serving size if you are serving other dishes.  My daughter loves the skin and I don't.  The skin usually separates from the salmon during cooking and this makes it easy to serve the salmon without the skin.

Written by Sherron Watson

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cheese Ravioli with Marinara Sauce

I have been wanting to make homemade ravioli for a very long time.  I kept thinking that I would buy a pasta machine, get the molds, and on and on and on.  I will someday have those things, but for right now I must do it by hand or the old fashion way. No molds and no pasta machine.  

I like getting my hands in the dough and playing in the flour.  This does take some time to prepare, but it is so worth the time and effort to make a good ravioli.  My family absolutely fell in love with these little morsels of heaven.  

I will be making this again and trying some different fillings.  I would love to try a combination of spinach, mushroom, and cheese.

I make a lot of food in my house but this is by far the best tasting pasta dish I have ever made.  I think it has a lot to do with fresh ingredients (herb and pasta), the homemade marinara and my love for cooking.  I have to admit it, making something like this makes me happy and I do feel like betty homemaker when I can whip up a ravioli dinner...LOL

Recipe:  Asiago Cheese Ravioli

If serving the ravioli with the marinara sauce.  Make this first, it is listed below.

You will need your favorite pasta dough. The filling listed below will make about 40-50 ravioli’s, depending on how large you make your squares and how full you stuff them.  If you need a recipe, The Pioneer Woman has an excellent step by step recipe that can be found here with pictures.  It is amazing! 

I use a gluten-free pasta dough that is wonderful and tastes amazing. I never have any problem with it and can roll it very thin.  That recipe can be found here.

2/3 cup of Ricotta Cheese
½ cup of shredded Asiago
1 T. garlic, minced ( we like a lot, so if this is too much, just reduce)
1 T. fresh Basil, chopped
1 tsp. olive oil
½ tsp. of salt

Mix all of the above ingredients together and set aside while you roll out your pasta dough.

Take a large pot and fill with water.  I would add about 10-12 cups of water.  I also add 1 tsp. of olive oil to the water.

For the dough:  I flour my work surface and rolling pin.  I cut my dough into small sections.  

You want equal sections so that you have a top and bottom piece to make your ravioli. Shape your dough like a rectangle (2 short ends/2 long sides).  I roll the dough out very thin.  I roll out the first one, pick it up and set it on a cookie sheet.  Roll out the second piece of dough. I use a cookie scoop to scoop my filling and space them apart on my second piece of dough.  I like my ravioli at about 2 X 2.  I can sometimes get three rows across, but usually just 2.  Once you have placed your filling, grab the first rolled out dough and lay it on top of the second.  I use my fingers and gently push the top down around the scoops. 

I don’t have a ravioli cutter (this is a round or square tool with a handle). I use my pizza cutter and cut the rows of filling into squares.  You will cut long ways and then cut across, forming individual squares or ravioli. You want dough around the ravioli so it does not fall out during boiling.

I have a cookie sheet lined with parchment ready for me to place each ravioli on.  When I pick up the ravioli, I like to pinch the edges to make sure they are sealed.  The pizza roller does not always seal them like a ravioli cutter will.  If they need to be sealed, I part the layers on the edges brush some water in between and pinch again.  I usually lose one or two fillings in the boiling process.

The ravioli will sink to the bottom of the boiling water and rise to the top.  I cook my ravioli’s for about 6-7 minutes.  I want the filling to be warm, the noodle cooked and the cheese starts to melt.  I transfer the ravioli to a large plate, sprinkle with cheese and serve with the marinara.

FOR GLUTEN-FREE DOUGH:  Use white rice flour when rolling out the dough.  Starch is too slippery and will change the color of your dough.

I served the ravioli with a homemade Marinara Sauce.

Recipe: Marinara Sauce

2 (14.5 oz) cans of diced tomatoes, with juice
1 T. fresh oregano
2 tsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
salt to taste
dash of pepper

Combine all ingredients into a small saucepan.  I have the heat set at medium. Once the marinara starts to bubble, turn the heat down to low.  I like for this to be simmering while I am making the ravioli.  I think the longer it simmers the more the flavors have a chance to meld.  I like the tomato chunks in my sauce, if you do not, then you can cut or mash the tomatoes so they are not so big.

Salt is a tricky thing with tomato sauces.  Some people like very little and others a lot.  I always start out with 1/2 tsp and do the: taste, add, taste, add..method.  It is a personal choice of how salty you like your food.  It's always easier to add more then it is to start over because you over-salted something.

Written by Sherron Watson

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies #GlutenFree

I have recipes that I only make during certain season's or holidays like everyone else.  I enjoy having eggnog at Christmas time and Ham with Easter Dinner.  You will soon learn that I love pumpkin all year long.   When I crave a cookie that is soft, warm and filled with the flavors of spices and chocolate, I usually go to my favorite Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.

I was first introduced to this gem of a recipe, 24 years ago by a family friend, Roseanne.  I still remember Roseanne and their family.  They had all boys and we would often house sit for them when they went away.  She would make these cookies for her boys because the recipe would make a whole bunch and the kids loved them.
I had some pumpkin leftover from the scones and decided to attempt this recipe using my GF flours.  I have included the recipe as is (which is wonderful) and with the changes for a GF family favorite.  My family could not get enough of them... POOF and they were gone from the kitchen in a heartbeat.

This past week I have not felt well, a summer cold is not FUN, so I have missed my walks at the beach every day.  I love going to the beach and searching for my beach glass.  I call it beach glass and not sea glass because our glass comes from the Chesapeake Bay and not the wide-open ocean.  Under a microscope, you can tell the difference. The sea impact on the glass is different than the bay.  

I collect the glass and I love it.  I am not picky when picking up the glass on the beach.  I take it all home and then lay it out and sort the glass.  I have glass that is new and old, brown and white, small and large.  I have old china pieces (my favorites to find) and a few in an array of colors: blue, green, lavender, pink and yellow.  It's a hobby that relaxes me and a way that I can bring the beach home with me.

On this particular day, I grabbed my warm cookies and a cup of tea.  I grabbed my bowls of glass and sat by the window just thinking and looking at my glass.  I always wonder "where" did it come from, was it on a ship, who had the glass, was it garbage to someone else?  So many possibilities from one tiny piece of glass.  I can guess to how old the glass is based on how smooth the edges are. How "salted" the glass looks and the color.  History and events have always tugged at my heart and by searching for this glass on the beach I find myself looking BACK in time.  

I don't have the heart to throw away the glass that is not aged. So I keep it.  Someday it will find a new home but today I love seeing it sparkle in the sunshine.

This post is about my glass, but I do collect rocks too.  I have bowls of rocks that my kids have found.  I also like the very flat rocks to stack in my sand garden.  I love nature brought inside.

I love spending some quiet time trying to stack the rocks.  It's very relaxing for me.  The sand also feels good in my hands.

With my cookies in hand, I was able to slow down and enjoy something I loved doing outside of my home.  It's okay to take a minute and find a quiet place to have your thoughts be turned to a memory, a moment or just to say "ah" after a long day of work or a day of not feeling well.  I hope that when you make these cookies, you too, can find a quiet place to say "ah".

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup of pumpkin ( I have used canned and freshly baked..they both work well)
1 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup of butter 
1 egg
2 cups of flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. of milk
1 T. Vanilla extract
1 cup of chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (Optional)

Combine the pumpkin, sugar, butter or egg in a mixing bowl. Using a mixer,  blend together. 

 In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. 

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Mix well.  Add the vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts.  I don't use the nuts in mine.  It's a personal choice.

Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet or baking stone lined with parchment paper. 

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. They should be firm and lightly browned.

Remove to a cooling rack.  Serve with milk, coffee or tea. 

NOTE:  To make this gluten free, I made these changes:

1 cup of pumpkin ( I have used canned and freshly baked..they both work well)
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of butter 
1 egg 
1/2 cup of white rice flour
1/2 cup of brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
3/4 cup almond meal
1 tsp. xantham gum
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. of milk or almond milk
1 T. Vanilla extract
1 cup of chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (Optional)

Follow instructions above to make the cookies. ENJOY!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bacon Gravy and Biscuits

I don't make our gravy super thick, although, you certainly can if that is how you like it.  We also like to eat eggs with our Biscuits and Gravy.  ENJOY!
Every now and then I MUST have biscuits and gravy for breakfast.  It seems lately a lot of blogs that I follow are also sharing their recipes.  If my tummy is going to be tempted, then I must answer it with a scrumptious biscuit and yummilicious bacon gravy.  I like that word, my computer does not know what to do with it...LOL  It's a good word...YUM-MI-LIC-IOUS.  Just sounds good!

Oh, yeah...the gravy.  I like sausage gravy but I love a good bacon gravy.  It's not as bold as sausage so the gravy, really shines.  I don't know when I first started making this for my family, other than I know it's been too long to remember.  It's a family favorite and the more bacon I use the more hugs I get.  LOL

I will encourage you to buy great bacon.  Don't go for the thin stuff...thick is what you will need.  I usually buy my bacon from the deli and spend extra $ for this recipe.  Today I used Boars Head.  Their stuff is all gluten free. You can use pepper, maple or might change the overall flavor a bit, but if your family likes pepper...then buy pepper!  Let's make the family happy.

I will share with you two recipes for biscuits.  One that I LOVE, but cannot eat anymore (wheat).  This is the recipe I used to make.  I will also share a GF biscuit recipe.   I try really hard to always provide something for everyone in my recipes and something that is GF.  I have so many friends that are being diagnosed with Celiac or have a sensitivity to wheat.  I am sure that you do to.  Let me tell you, that if my friends made something special for me and my diet needs, it almost brings a tear to my eye.  It says LOVE when someone WANTS to cook for me, with ME in mind.  That is why I share GF recipes and regular recipes.  It means a lot to those of us who are on a restricted diet.

 Bacon Gravy and Biscuits

1/2 pound of Bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped (small pieces)
1/2 tsp salt.  You will need more, but this is a personal choice and you will need to taste and salt as you go.
1/2-1 tsp pepper.  We like a lot of pepper.  But start small and work up to more.
4 cups of milk
2 T. flour (I use corn starch for the GF version)

Fry cut bacon in a heavy duty skillet until crisp.  I cook my bacon on med to med high heat.  I don't like it to burn, so I would rather take it slow and not rush it.  When bacon is almost to where you think it is done for your family, add the onion and celery.  This combination only needs to cook for about 3-5 minutes.  Enough time for them to not be crunchy.  Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon/celery/onion mixture to a paper towel.

Discard all of the remaining grease except 1 T. bacon grease.  If using flour, add flour to grease and cook on med heat for 3 minutes.  If using corn starch, add the corn starch to a little bit of the 4 cups of milk and whisk together.

Add the milk or starch/milk mixture to the skillet.  Using a whisk and watching the heat, stir until bubbly and thick.  Add the bacon mixture and turn off the heat.  If the gravy is not as thick as you like it add more flour or starch.   NOTE:  Always add your starch to cold milk or water first, then add to the item you are cooking.  I would do the same with flour.  It prevents lumps.

I like to let the gravy sit for a few minutes so that everything has a chance to meld.  The flavors of the bacon, onion and celery need time to adjust to the flour and milk gravy.  This is why I make the gravy first and then make the biscuits.  It seems to work out perfectly.

Recipe: Biscuits

2 cups of flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 cup of cream
1/2 cup of chicken broth
OPTIONAL: 1 cup of cheddar cheese...the men love the cheese with the bacon gravy!

Combine dry ingredients.  Make a well in flour bowl and add milk and broth.  Do not over stir.  Add cheese and drop dough onto a baking stone or greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes.  The should just start to be turning brown.  Every stove is different, so watch them.

Recipe: GF Biscuits (These will taste like a wheat biscuit)

1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup of millet
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup of tapioca starch
1 tsp. xantham gum
2 T. baking powder ( this adds a lot of flavor to the biscuit)
1 tsp. salt

6 T. solid vegetable shortening
4 T. butter, soft
1 cup milk
Optional: 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place pizza stone in oven to preheat. You can use a cookie sheet too.

In a large bowl combine all of the dry ingredients. Using a whisk, blend dry ingredients well.

Add the shortening and butter. Using a pastry cutter, cut into flour until the flour looks like small pebbles.

Gently add milk and form dough. Try not to over mix.

Using rice flour, sprinkle on to the counter and tip dough out of bowl. I used my fingers to press dough to the thickness I needed my biscuits to be....about 1/2 inch. I used a small circle cutter. Remove stone from oven and place biscuits on stone, return to oven. Bake for 12 minutes. If the biscuits are larger, then you may need to bake them for a little bit longer. I was able to get 40 small biscuits  or 16-18 normal size biscuits.

These biscuits are flaky, soft in the center...perfect for using with soups. I did not add any sugar to this recipe because I like it that way. I can use it with savory meals or with sweet treats. If serving with whip cream, the sweetness will come from this and the fruit. Feel free to add sugar if you want it a bit sweeter. If you choose to add this, start with 1T. of sugar. ENJOY

Written by Sherron Watson

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chicken Satay

When we have a BBQ or a crowd at our home, I am always looking for something that I can prepare in the morning and just POP on the grill.  I like this recipe for Chicken Satay for this very's easy and I can make it in the morning. It leaves me with plenty of time before our friends arrive to set the table, work on minor side dishes and get ready! Sometimes I spend the day cooking and forget that I need to look good too. LOL

Marinading the chicken for the day makes the chicken so tender .  It really just melts in your mouth.  I also make the peanut sauce in the morning.  I think the flavors have a chance to blend when given the opportunity to sit.

Brown rice and veggies are what we serve.  I love my rice cooker.  Again, it's something that I can add the ingredients and walk away.  It does it's own thing with out me having to keep track of it.  I love that!

Skewers always add so much to any meal. They look great on the table and the kids love eating their food right off of a stick.  Who does not love food on a stick?

Chicken Satay and Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp curry powder
2 T crunchy or smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
crushed dried chile peppers, to taste

Peanut Sauce:
3/4 cup crunchy or smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 cup coconut milk, unsweetened
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 T. soy sauce (I used Tamarin, it's gf)
2 T. molasses
1 tsp. fresh ginger root, grated
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
cayenne pepper
grated lime zest
fresh cilantro

6 chicken breast halves, boned, skinned and cut into 1/2 inch wide strips

To make the marinade, combine the first 7 ingredients in a large ziplock bag.

Add your chicken.  Let marinade in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours.

One hour before grilling, soak your bamboo skewer in water.  I used a foil pan (the same one that I used to put the skewered chicken in).

Thread the chicken strips onto a bamboo skewer in a serpentine fashion. 

I make sure to spray the grill with Pam (or oil) and add skewers.  They do not take long to cook.  Watch them closely.

Cook the skewered chicken, turning several times and basting with the marinade, until crispy on the outside but still moist on the inside, about 8 minutes.

Make the peanut sauce by combining the next 7 ingredients (peanut butter through garlic) in a saucepan.

Season to taste with cayenne pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce is as thick as heavy cream (about 15 minutes).

Transfer to a food processor or blender and purée briefly. Add chicken broth and cream and blend until smooth.

This mixture can be made several hours ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving. Prepare moderate-hot BBQ grill or broiler.

Sprinkle grilled chicken with lime zest and garnish with cilantro leaves.

Serve with the peanut sauce for dipping.

Written by Sherron Watson


I will admit that one of my all time favorite movies is Ratatouille. I don't know if it's the cooking or the mouse, the goofy dish washer boy or the love story. I just like the whole thing. I never knew what ratatouille was until I saw this movie. I am a huge fan of eggplant. I have always loved it, even as a kid. So it was no surprise that when I found out that this was in the recipe, I was thrilled.

So, why did it take me so long to make it? Several things come to mind. One is the fact that living in Utah, at the time, we did not have an abundant supply of FRESH eggplant. It was not something that I heard my neighbors talk about growing and the stores never had many on the shelves. Out of sight, out of mind. The other reason may have been that I thought it was MUCH more complicated to make than it actually was...after all, Ratatouille is a pretty intense word...LOL OH, but I do love to say it--RAT-A-TOO-eee!

When I announced to my family that we were eating Ratatouille, my 4YO , thought we were having "mouse" for dinner.  Oh MY!  She was relieved when I showed her a plate of veggies...LOL  

When I was first learning to cook, I bought a book.  My favorite cooking book.  It's title is Joy of Cooking.  Two of my favorite things in one title..JOY and COOKING!  Now we are talking.  I have read this book, yes, every single page, at least 3 times.  WHY?  I find it so helpful with all things cooking.  It is the only cookbook that I own that does not have pictures in it.  Every recipe I have ever tried, has worked, taste good and brings me JOY!  

The Ratatouille is from this book and this dish has brought my whole family JOY!  We absolutely loved it!  My husband told me he could eat this dish every day.  Eggplant grows in abundance in Maryland.  They must love the sandy soil.  I have two sitting on my counter and my neighbor's plants are loaded with them.  I am thinking he is going to get his wish of eating it most days...LOL

I will say, that this recipe is wonderful hot or cold.  Fresh or as a leftover.  It's just plain amazing!  I would recommend that you use the BEST extra virgin olive oil that you can.  It adds so much to the flavor of the veggies.   ENJOY!

Fresh from my neighbors garden..Thank you!

Ratatouille from Joy of Cooking


 1/4 cup olive oil

1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes ( 1 lb)

1 lb zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups onions, sliced

2 large red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch squares

3 garlic cloves, chopped

salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste

1 1/2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped seeded peeled

2 -3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaves

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped


    1. Saute in a large skillet or Dutch oven over high heat until the vegetables are golden and just tender, 10 to 12 minutes: 1/4 C olive oil, eggplant and zucchini.
    2. Remove the vegetables and reduce the heat to medium-high. In the same pan, cook until the onions are slightly softened: 2 T of olive oil and onions.
    3. Add and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just tender but not browned, 8 to 12 minutes: red pepper and garlic.
    4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    5. Add: tomatoes, thyme and bay leaf.
    6. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 5 minutes.
    7. Add the eggplant and zucchini and cook until everything is tender, about 20 minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Stir in: basil.

      I served this as a side dish with Chicken Satay.  The Ratatouille can also be a main dish and hold it's own.
      Written by Sherron Watson

    Monday, July 25, 2011

    Green Pea Salad

    I have been craving this salad for two weeks.  I kept forgetting to buy the frozen peas until Saturday.  I sent the hubster to the store and he came home with the PEAS!  Yeah!

    I have several family members that have to go back for seconds on this salad, I have to admit, I am one of those family members.

    I use Boars Head Jack cheese and Velvetta.  I like the two cheese's in the recipe because one adds a sharp taste and the other is smooth and soft on your tongue.  I use Lawry's season salt that has no MSG.  I am very sensitive to this flavoring and they do make it now with no MSG.

    This is a favorite at BBQs or Sunday dinner.  I like to make it in the morning to give the seasoning and flavors a chance to BLOOM. It can be made right before too.  ENJOY

    Green Pea Salad  

    1 bag of frozen peas,  3-4 cups of peas

    ½ cup of diced Celery
    ½ cup of diced Onion
    ½ cup Jack or Cheddar Cheese, cubed
    ½ cup Velveeta cheese, cubed
    2 Hard-boiled eggs, diced
    Lawry's salt to taste
    ½ cup Mayo

    Mix and refrigerate for an hour. Serve.  I like to add extra celery and onion. You can adjust the ingredients to what your family likes.  Add more or less to make it your own.

    Written by Sherron Watson

    Sunday, July 24, 2011

    English Toffee Candy

    I am sharing a recipe that we usually make at Christmas time.  We make it for neighbors, friends and family.   Once they try it, they really REALLY want to remain our friends and stay close to us...LOL

    I know it's not Christmas, but it is July and I have heard a thing or two about Christmas in July.

    Making candy can be tricky and so it does take patience and time.  You cannot speed up the stages and expect to have a quality product. I cannot express enough that GOOD candy comes from the BEST products.

    If you are unfamiliar with the stages of making candy, I have found a site that can tell you and show you this process  here.  Understanding the difference between soft boil and soft crack are what you will need to know for this recipe.

    You also must have several kitchen tools on hand.  A candy thermometer is a must.  The pan you use is also something to consider.  I use a small, heavy sauce pan.  It has a copper lining  between two sheets of steel.  This allows the heat to cook more evenly.  I have made this before in a cheap pan and it does not turn out as well.

    Use exact measurements.   Cooking is a science that does offer a lot of room for adaptations to our own style and taste buds. Candy making is more sensitive to alterations and should not be modified the first time you make a recipe.

    I have made this recipe at high altitudes, sea level, in dry conditions and in the humid air.  The humid air will make it sticky if not left in an airtight container.  This is my only recommendation when making this toffee, keep it in a cool place. I keep mine in the freezer and it stays dry and crunchy.  I know some have had problems with it getting sticky, I have never had this problem in 24 years of making this.

    English Toffee

    2/3 cup butter, soft
    1/2 cup of sugar
    1/2 cup of water
    1/2 tsp salt
    2/3 cups blanched almonds
    1/4 tsp baking soda
    1 cup of chocolate chips
    1/2 -1 cup of pecans, chopped.

    Cook over medium heat the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan, stirring constantly until it boils (5-7 minutes).

    Once it starts to boil,  stop stirring and add a candy thermometer and let it cook until it reaches 236 degrees (softball stage).

    Add the 2/3 cup blanched almonds, continue cooking until the temperature reaches 275 degrees (soft crack stage).  You must stir constantly at this stage to prevent overcooking.

    Remove from heat and add 1/4 tsp. baking soda.

    I used a cookie sheet that I greased with butter first.  Immediately spread the toffee to a 1/4 inch thickness.  Immediately add chocolate chips and let sit for 1 minute.  The chips will melt and you can use the back of a spoon and spread the chocolate over the toffee.  Add the nuts and gently push the nuts into the chocolate with your hands.

    Put your cookie sheet into the freezer for 15 minutes or until hard.  Remove and break into bite-size portions.  Store in an airtight container in a cool place.

    Written by Sherron Watson

    Friday, July 22, 2011

    Orange Delight

    I have moved over 20 times in 25 years.  WHY?  Military, school and hubby's that is.  We like to call ourselves gypsies or bohemians.  I just can't sit still in the same spot for too long.  I love to travel.  I still have my "MUST live here" list. It includes Alaska, Vermont, France, Japan, Hong Kong, and NYC.  Our family is no longer shocked when we say that we are on the move AGAIN.  We are a bit of a joke, I think...LOL

    I see it as, "different strokes for different folks".  My kids have had many great friends, visited awesome places and have a desire to try things.  Especially food.  We love Andrew Zimmern and his show about bizarre foods.  We have eaten a variety of different foods but we have also gotten some of the BEST recipes from friends.

    My friend Kara, who I met when we lived in Illinois, used to make this creamy salad with mandarin oranges.  It was delicious!  She graciously gave me her recipe and over the years I think I have added a few different things to it, but it all started with Kira.  Just like so many of my recipes have started with a special friendship.  I like this because when I make each recipe, I am reminded of the "good times". Just by writing this little bit of an intro I have 3 or 4 friends that I could easily write about that have given me some awesome recipes. Washington, Utah, Oregon, Colorado, Illinois and Texas (states, instead of names)......thanks friends for providing some yummy food during our times together!

    Orange Fruit Salad

     1 large container of Cool Whip
    2 large cans of Mandarin Oranges, Drained
    1 small can of crushed Pineapple, Drained
    1 small box of Orange Jello
    1 small container of Cottage Cheese

    Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and let set in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.  The jello needs time to blend with the other flavors.  I have also used Lime jello, added coconut and bananas.  It's an easy recipe but it sure does bring a smile to my face.

    Written by Sherron Watson

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Corn Casserole

    I visited my sister-n-law, Amy, a few years ago and she made this casserole that was so delicious!  It was warm, creamy and full of corn.  I tried really hard to not eat the whole thing, let alone lick the plate clean.  I had to have the recipe and she shared.  The original recipe was from Jiffy and can be found here.

    I have not had this recipe in almost 2 years because of the fact that I cannot eat wheat.  Jiffy is made with wheat.  While at the Fancy Food Show in DC, I met Bob Hodgson from Hodgson Mill.  They have a great line of gluten free mixes and flours.  I was so excited when they loaded me up with samples and mixes.  That made for a heavy trip home on the Metro...LOL and some rather strange looks.

    I have used several of the products and they all have exceeded my expectation.  I made Flank Steak in the morning and I needed something yummy to go with it.  I saw the cans of corn and thought to myself, "I wonder if I could duplicate the corn casserole that I had ate in Idaho?".

    I started looking around my house to see what I had and it hit me.  I had a yellow cake mix from Hodgson Mill.  Now, this is the great thing about gluten free products.  The ingredients are all listed and you KNOW what the ingredients are.  I know how they function together when combined.  This yellow cake mix was perfect!

    So the adventure began and my fingers were crossed.  I can tell you that it was wonderful and had the same texture and taste as the original.  Thanks Hodgson Mill for making versatile product.

    Corn's also Gluten-Free.

    2 cans of corn, drained
    1/2 cup of cream or milk
    2 eggs, beaten
    2 cups of GF Yellow Cake Mix ( I used Hodgson Mill)
    1 stick of butter
    1/2 c. plain yogurt
    1/2 c. sour cream
    1/2 tsp. garlic powder

    Preheat oven to 375.

    I make my own cream of corn.  Take one can of drained corn and the 1/2 cup of milk or cream.  Blend in a blender.  It does not have to be smooth just combined very well.

    Add creamed corn and the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Spray cooking oil into a 9X13 pan.  Bake for 30-40 minutes.  Use a tooth pick to decide if the center is cooked all the way through.

    NOTE: I used a deep dish pizza pan to make my corn casserole.  I had enough mix that I could also make 6 cupcakes. These make great snacks for the kids.

    This is not a paid advertisement for Hodgson Mill, I just really like their products.  ENJOY>

    Donut Breakfast Casserole

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