Sunday, December 30, 2007

If You're Going To San Diego...

If you live in or are planning a visit to San Diego, I have the perfect site for you! While planning your trip, make sure you stop by Its a scrumptious collection of San Diego dining establishments that will help tremendously with your dining plans.

When you get to Cafe San Diego, you'll find several options by which to narrow your search. You can search by neighborhood, type of food, atmosphere or special features such as a good place for a business lunch or find a place that offers catering service. I was amazed at the number of restaurants San Diego has!

One click on the restaurant of your choice will give you a map, address, phone/fax info and details about what that particular restaurant offers as far as type of food, what kind of atmosphere and features such as whether a kids menu is available, if there is a bar, patio or sports bar at the establishment.

San Diego restaurants would also benefit from joining the Cafe San Diego community to get word out about your business. They'll even help you with a link to your site, site hosting and/or offering online coupons on your site and theirs!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Banana (Nut) Bread

One of the easiest things to bake has got to be Banana Bread. You can make it with or without nuts. I like mine with nuts, but Mike and the kids prefer it without. Sometimes if I have nuts I want to use up, I will grind them up really finely in my food processor. No one is ever the wiser.

Banana Nut Bread
1/2 cup shortening or margarine
1 C Sugar
2 Eggs
2-3 Ripe Bananas, mashed
2C Flour
1 tsp Soda
Dash of Salt
1/4 C Walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line 2 loaf pans.

Mix shortening or margarine, sugar, eggs and bananas. Sift together flour and soda. Add flour, soda, salt and nuts to banana mixture. Do not over mix. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower oven to 300 degrees and bake an additional 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack and wrap with plastic wrap to store.

~Using margarine rather than shortening gives this a great flavor.
~You can also use banana baby food in place of the bananas. One 4 oz. jar for each banana.
~These freeze well wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and stored in a zip-top bag.
~Kids love to help mash the bananas and sift the flour! Make sure you let them taste test!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Graham Strusel Cake

This is a delectable coffee-cake-like dish. It is wonderful to make ahead for Christmas (or any) morning breakfast and it is always a huge hit at any carry-in or potluck as a dessert. I got the recipe from my sister Stacy.

1 yellow cake mix ( you can use white, but yellow is best)
1C water
1/3C oil
2 eggs

1pkg. graham crackers crushed (there are usually 3 pkg.s in a box)
1 stick of butter (melted)
1C. brown sugar
1T. cinnamon

1-1/2 C powdered sugar
2-3T milk or water
Mix cake ingredients together and pour in a 9x13 pan. Mix topping ingredients and pour on top of cake mixture. Swirl the topping into the cake with a knife. Bake @ 350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes. Drizzle with glaze right before serving.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cooking With Wine

Wine is a wonderful addition with nearly every meal. There are all kinds of wine enthusiasts who will tell you which wine tastes great with which dish as far as drinking goes, but what about cooking with wine? Which wine should you choose to add flavor to which dish?

A good rule of thumb is never cook with a wine you wouldn't drink. Cooking wines are generally salty and may have ingredients that could hinder the flavor of your dish. If you like a Merlot, make that one of your cooking wine choices. We like this idea anyway because you don't have to have one wine for cooking and one or twenty *wink* for drinking. Choosing a good quality- not necessarily expensive, either- wine is your best jumping-off point.

So which wine should you use for which dish? I typically use a color method. If I am making anything with a red sauce, I choose a red wine. Additionally, if I am cooking with a red meat, I also use a red wine. Any cream sauces or white sauces would call for a white wine and chicken, fish, or pork generally call for white wine. I also use sherry with chicken and shell fish at times.

So Easy Sugar Cookies

I got this recipe about 12 years ago from a friend. It is in the Betty Crocker Bake-off Cookies Brownies and Bars book. I love making these for a quick something sweet to have around and they are an easy addition to any cookie tray.

3/4 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Margarine or butter, softened
1/3 Cup Oil
1 Tablespoon Milk
1 to 2 teaspoons Almond Extract
1 Egg
1 & 1/2 Cups Flour
1 & 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon White or Colored Sugar

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl, combine first 6 ingredients; beat until light and fluffy. Add flour, baking powder and salt; mix well. Spread evenly in an ungreased 15x10x1-inch sheet pan; sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon sugar. Bake at 375 for 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. Cut into 48 cookies. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Tips- You can substitute vanilla extract for the almond if you prefer and they come out just as delicious!

These are a great cookie fro kids to make since all you do is mix, pour and bake. There is no messing with "dropping dough by the spoonful" or cutting with cookie cutters. I use red or green colored sugar for Christmas, but they look dazzling in other colors for birthdays or other holidays!

Monday, December 17, 2007


A favorite dish of mine is Stroganoff. I got this recipe out of a Betty Crocker Cookbook long ago, but I've modified it for what I usually have on hand.

3 T Butter or Margarine

3 Lbs. Meat (stew meat, roast, flank steak, venison or whatever you like), Cubed

1 small Onion, chopped

8 0z. Canned Mushrooms, drained

15 oz. Beef Broth (I make mine with soup base and water)

1/4 tsp Garlic Powder

1/4 C Ketchup

4 oz Warm Water or Beef Broth

2 T Flour

8 oz. Sour Cream

5-6 qts. Water

2 T oil

16 oz. package Wide Egg Noodles

Melt butter in skillet over medium to medium high heat. Add cubed meat and brown on all sides. Add onion, mushrooms beef broth, garlic powder and ketchup; cover and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Whisk flour and water (or broth) and pour into meat mixture, stirring as you add. Continue to stir while the mixture thickens. Cover and turn heat to low stirring occasionally. Bring water and oil to a boil and cook egg noodles for 10 minutes; drain. Add sour cream to meat mixture, mix well and heat through. Serve meat mixture on top of noodles.

TIPS: You can replace the noodles with rice if you prefer.

SIDES: Serve with mashed potatoes and corn or peas. I add bread and butter to complete the meal.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Edible Christmas Ornaments

These little Chocolate Pretzel Ornaments are so super easy to make and so super adorable (not to mention yummy) to receive. I got the idea from The Pampered Chef and decided to make some to adorn a cookie tray for a party tonight. What a great little project for the kids to work on as well!!
To make the ornaments, simply melt about 3 squares of semi-sweet baker's chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals; stirring between each heating. I melted mine in a teacup so the chocolate would be deep enough to dip in rather than spreading out over a larger dish.
Dip the rounded bottom of 4 or 5 mini-pretzels into chocolate and arrange them in a circle with chocolate parts touching on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Repeat the process with 4 to 5 additional pretzels, laying them over the joined parts of the bottom layer. Sprinkle the chocolate with sugar crystals or candy sprinkles and refrigerate until set (about 30 minutes).
Additionally, you can loop a ribbon through the center and use these as ornaments or package add-ons. These would also be cute in cellophane bags as part of a cookie, food or baking gift basket.

Friday, December 7, 2007

San Francisco Cookies!

This week, I'll be making the first of my Christmas Cookies. I make a large tray for a friend's party every year. After dinner, we all sit around and scarf down the cookies while talking about how much we don't need the calories.

I make my cookies from scratch, but I use the traditional all-purpose flour, dairy and other ingredients. Nothing like the All Natural Cookies made by the San Francisco Cookie Company. They use heart-healthy oats, whole grains and organic dairy. That would make one heck of a fabulous Gourmet Cookie!!! They even offer corporate gift boxes!!! What a yummy treat for your employees!

Check them out and see how they compare to yours. You can even consider it research which cancels out any and all calories. Right? Right?

Hey, that's my story and I'm sticking to it! :o)