Watermelon Slushy

watermelon slushy

Freeze watermelon cubes and add them to lemonade for a lemon-spiked watermelon slushy.

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Ask Cynthia a Question – May 26, 2015

salami2

This is a repeat from May 2014. I thought it was important to note again, which sausages do and which do not need refrigeration during the warm weather months. CB

Shirlee asked: What’s the difference between salami and summer sausage?

My answer: Salami is cured sausage, fermented and air-dried meat, with meat originating from one of a variety of animals. Summer sausage is the general term for any sausage that can be kept without the need of refrigeration. Summer sausage is usually a mixture of pork and other meat such as beef and/or venison. Seasonings may include mustard seeds, black pepper, garlic salt, or sugar. Here’s more about summer sausage vs salami. Thank you, Shirlee, for your question.

 

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Strawberry Pie

Strawberry Pie 3 name loavesanddishes.netMy name is Wendi and I write a comfort food blog at Loaves and Dishes. I am so excited that Cynthia asked me to guest host for her today. In talking about this post, Cynthia asked me, “What does comfort food or old recipes mean to you?” Wow, that is an important question!

I’ll start by saying that everything about comfort food brings back wonderful memories – the smells, the taste and even the preparation. For example, I would never fix today’s Strawberry Pie recipe without thinking of my mother. This is her recipe.

In the early 1970’s, my family loved to eat at “The Shoney’s Big Boy” when we visited the big city. My mother loved Shoney’s strawberry pie.  I believe my mother’s original recipe was Shoney’s official recipe – but I think this pie has always been better than any restaurant pie. I remember my mom telling people, “This is like Shoney’s famous pie,” and then blushing because she was so proud.

This alone is a special memory for me because it is a way that my mother excused her own good cooking – which, as a food blogger, makes me laugh a little. My mother has always said, “I’m not a good cook” (which is a lie, but nonetheless she believed it). I hope you will never fall into the trap of thinking you are a terrible cook. You, too, can be an excellent cook – you simply need some good recipes.  Cynthia’s blog looks like an excellent place to start!

And so – this pie and all comfort food brings back happy memories of good times for me and that is why I cook comfort food, why I write about comfort food and why I encourage other people to cook comfort food.

I wonder, what do comfort foods mean to you?

Thank you for visiting and I hope you try this easy recipe and save it in your “fix this and share it with others” file.  My mother and I both would be proud of you!

wendi-sprakerWendi Spraker is the owner and author of Loaves and Dishes, a comfort food blog found at loavesanddishes.net. Wendi says that she has loved to cook (and eat) comfort foods for as long as she can remember. Please visit Wendi at loavesanddishes.net and follow/friend her on her social media venues at

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/loavesanddishes.net?ref=hl

Pintrest: https://www.pinterest.com/loavesanddishes/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/116920110826306762094/posts?hl=en

Twitter: https://twitter.com/loavesanddishes

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Green Chilie Chicken Lasagna

I’ve been known to finagle recipes out of a few restaurant chefs, but it’s not an easy task. Most chefs guard their recipes and aren’t too keen on sharing.

A few years back, however, at a small Italian restaurant in southern New Mexico, I hit it big with a recipe for the chef’s signature dish for Green Chile Chicken Lasagna. Initially the chef said no but then he weakened and met me halfway with the ingredient list.

He swore me to secrecy as to its origin, but with the passing years, I’ve sliced it, diced it, and used convenient ingredients to the point that it’s probably safe to share the recipe with others. Dinner doesn’t get much better when you serve this lasagna with a tossed green salad and chilled white wine.

Lasagna, Green Chili Chicken3Green Chile Chicken Lasagna

2-15 ounce jars Classico 4-cheese Alfredo, or Classico Alfredo with Sun-dried Tomato
2-16 ounce boxes oven-ready lasagna sheets
3 to 4 cups chicken breasts, poached or grilled without seasoning, diced
1-16 ounce container ricotta cheese
1-16 to 24 ounce bag shredded mozzarella cheese, (reserve 1 to 1 1/2 cups)
2 cups diced green chilies, canned or fresh roasted
Sliced olives, optional
Mushrooms, cooked and drained, optional
2 cups chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9”x13” lasagna pan with cooking spray. Begin layering the lasagna in the pan with enough Alfredo sauce to coat bottom of pan. Cover Alfredo with dry lasagna noodles; then layer one-third of the chicken, ricotta, mozzarella cheese and green chilies. There should be enough ingredients to make 3-layers. Sliced olives and mushrooms folded into the layers are optional.

With layered ingredients in place, gently pour chicken broth over the completed pan of lasagna layers (it may not require the full 2 cups). Top with reserved mozzarella cheese. Cover tightly with foil around edges of pan but loose in the center so cheese doesn’t peel off onto the foil when it’s removed (creating a tent with the foil is ideal).

Bake for about 25 minutes; remove the foil and bake for an additional 20-40 minutes, depending on your oven. I often bake it for nearly an hour. If it begins to dry out on top, and it’s still not done in the center, place an aluminum foil tent over it until the noodles are soft and have absorbed most of the liquid.  When the noodles have absorbed the moisture and the cheese melted, the lasagna is ready to eat. Remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for about 10 to 15 minutes before cutting it so pieces will hold their shape. Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Cook’s Note: The original way of making this lasagna was to use the 4-cheese Classico Alfredo, then I discovered it was good, too, with a hint of sun-dried tomato so I used the Classico Alfredo with Sun-dried Tomato, which gives it a touch more pizzazz and blends well with the chilies. Either Alfredo is delicious. All the ingredients in this recipe are adjustable to your family’s taste. Enjoy!

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Dress up Cakes, Cupcakes or Desserts

Cupcake, Dusted w Powdered Sugar

Dress up cakes, cupcakes or desserts by putting cocoa powder or powdered sugar in a fine sieve and then gently shake it to dust tops of baked goods. A doily helps to make a pretty design but, as seen above, it’s not necessary to add an extra special touch.

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Ask Cynthia a Question – March 23, 2015

Italy, Coffee Cup w I Love Italy Written in Foam

Joleene asked: What is the most interesting food or custom you found when you traveled to Italy?

CB’s answer: I’ve not been to Italy, although I hope to go some day, so I can’t answer you from personal experiences. I did ask a few friends who have traveled Italy.

Bunny said it was intriguing to her that people don’t linger at the coffee bars the way we might at Starbucks. While their espresso is brewing they talk ninety miles per hour to each other, then they shoot down their espresso (not usually a latte or mocha like us) and then they’re off. She said, “It’s really funny, totally different than what I expected at Italian coffee bars.”

Lynda said, “They eat fresh. Everything is fresh, not much commercially processed foods as we do here in the states. In addition, a dinner reservation is for the entire evening, they don’t turn tables like we often experience. The check won’t come until it’s asked for.”

Jim found it interesting that most restaurants are family owned, and the waiters are usually part of the family. Being a waiter is their career not a summer job for a student as we’re accustomed to here in the states.

All three said the predominance of seafood and fish in the coastal areas was surprising, as we don’t often associate fish with Italian cuisine. All three said, “The pizza is fabulous…it’s thin crust and made simply with few ingredients; and the Italian breads and bakeries are fantastic.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to buy a one-way ticket…Thank you, Joleen, for your question.

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Garlic Lime Chicken

Chicken, Garlic Lime, Grilled on SkewersGarlic Lime Chicken is a recipe that says goodbye to winter and hello to warm weather and sunshine.

My friend, Peggy, who now lives in Idaho, sent me this recipe. When Peggy and I lived near each other in Carlsbad, NM, we often shared in the festive cheer of a margarita (or two). Although we’re now separated by many miles we still enjoy our mutual love of fresh, juicy limes by making this zesty dish. We prepare it year-round using chicken breasts, chicken kabobs, or raw shrimp.

Peggy and I both consider this recipe a “keeper” because, not only is it scrumptious to eat, it also uses ingredients we always have on hand, and thankfully, our hubbies are always ready to fire-up the grill whether the sun is shining in Houston or the snow is a foot deep in Idaho.

GARLIC LIME CHICKEN

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup fresh limejuice
1-tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
4 boneless (1 pound), skinless chicken breasts (or chicken cut into cubes for kabobs, as shown) or 1 pound raw peeled shrimp

In a marinating bag, combine first six ingredients. Add chicken breasts to marinade then seal and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove chicken breasts from the marinade and discard (marinade is especially good when cooked and used as a sauce). Place chicken on upper grill and slow cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Allow chicken to rest for 5 to 6 minutes before serving (grill for less time if making kabobs or shrimp).

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

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