Secret Recipe Club


I have been in a baking funk. I haven’t felt like doing ANY baking. Which is unusual for me. I LOVE to bake. Even when it’s hot. I bake. Until recently. Thank goodness for SRC because the blog assigned to me was so full of goodies to bake I just HAD to get back into the kitchen. In case you are wondering, SRC is the Secret Recipe Club. Each month we are assigned a blog to cook from and, in Group C, we REVEAL on the third Monday of the month. This month’s assignment was a good one because thanks to Jamie at Our Eating Habits I am out of my baking slump!

I usually pick two or three recipes to feature on the SRC post. Usually savory. But this time I went strickly for baking goodies.

We started out with Jamie’s

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    Blueberry Muffins

This is the first year our Blueberry bushes have yielded enough berries to actually use in something. So exciting to know I will have fresh berries in the freezer.

    3/4 cup milk
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    1 large egg
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup Stevia
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1. Mix together the milk , oil, and egg. Reserve 1 tbl dry ingredient mix. Add remaining dry ingredients to liguid and stir until just combined. Toss berries with about 1 Tbl flour mixture. Gently fold in blueberries.

2. Line muffin tin with paper liners (or grease) and scoop in batter. Bake at 400 degrees for 22 minutes. Original Recipe

I added a simple Lemon glaze. Perfect for Breakfast. Snack. Dessert. Blueberries!

Then we were completely out of cookies, so…..

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Cookies

    1/2 cup butter, softened
    3/4 cup brown sugar
    1/4 cup white sugar + 1/2 cup Stevia
    3/4 cup peanut butter
    1/4 cup Eggbeater
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup whole wheat flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup rolled oats
    1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Beat together the butter, peanut butter, sugars and Stevia.
2. Add Eggbeaters and vanilla, beat together again.
3. Add flours, baking soda, and salt, mix until just comes together.
4. Beat in chocolate chips and oats.
5. Bake for 8 minutes at 375 degrees, transfer to cooling rack. Original Recipe

The cookies didn’t last long. Between the Peanut Butter and the Oatmeal in the cookies they made for one perfect cookie.

The Man eats sandwiches most days for lunch so I bake bread every week. This week I used Jamie’s recipe for

    French Style Baguettes

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Jamie’s recipe made 2 large baguettes but I made 4 by cutting the dough into smaller pieces. I also subbed out some Whole Wheat for some of the flour. These were good and made great sandwiches. Just the right amount of ‘chew’ with the WWF. So much better than ANY store bought bread. You can find the recipe HERE!

So I am out of my Baking Funk. Spending the day with Jamie in the Kitchen was just the therepy I needed. Of course with all the other recipes I pinned there will be more days spent in the kitchen with Jamie.

Discovering new foodie blogs through SRC is always good for one’s baking psyche. Check out the other discoveries from the SRC members below.


Debbie does DELICIOUS!!!

    In more ways than I can count!

And lucky for me she was my assignment for June’s Secred Recipe Club.
For once I did not have any trouble picking a recipe. I WANT to do ALL of them!! But since I only had two weeks and there are TONS of delicious, healthy recipes on Deb’s site, I had to settle for two, or maybe three…

Before we start with the Recipes…Debbie of Debbie does Dinner is a mom and home cook who decided that dieting was the pits unless you had good tasting food. She has adapted and developed tons of recipes that are healthy, delicious, and lower in calorie. Thanks, Debbie. These are just what I needed.


Okay, now for the food!! Breakfast: A Breakfast Smoothie to be exact. With lots of fruit and dairy and SPINACH!! Yeah, I know what some of you are thinking. SPINACH? In a smoothie? But it totally works. AND it means more fiber and protein. Yep!

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All those beautiful healthy colors!!

    10 strawberries
    1 banana
    1 handful of blueberries (or blackberries)
    6 oz. low fat plain yogurt
    1/4 cup low fat milk
    1 big handful of baby spinach

Put all of the ingredients into a blender and mix until you reach desired texture. If you want it cold and icier, freeze the fruit before putting in the blender. {I used all frozen fruit.}
While I make smoothies quite often I have never put spinach in one. There were lots of little pieces of green, red, and blue from the spinach and berries. Great start for the day. {Original Recipe}

And Dinner meant QUINOA. Debbie has several quinoa recipes on the site. If I had had some Sun-dried tomatoes I would have made this one but the Mexican Quinoa was awesome.

P1040409Mexican Quinoa

    1 medium onion, chopped
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 cup yellow corn
    2 tsp. cumin
    2 tsp dried cilantro
    2 cups quinoa, rinsed
    3 cups veggie broth
    1 can diced tomatoes
    1 tsp. oregano
    Salt and pepper

Boil the onion in about 1/4 cup of veggie broth in a large saucepan.
When it is soft add the garlic, cumin and chili powder and cook for about a minute. Add the quinoa, broth, diced tomatoes, corn, oregano, salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil then reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Lots of wonderful flavors in this one. The only change was to add some corn and put some dried cilantro IN the saucepan with the other ingredients. It was a tasty side. For lunch the next day I added some diced roasted chicken. YUMYY!

And Dessert! Of Course!

And lucky for us she had a cheese cake recipe. Lucky because that is our favorite dessert. And then, even better, it had PEANUT BUTTER and CHOCOLATE!!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

    Filling:
    2 (8 oz) bars cream cheese {Lower cal with fat-free}
    3 eggs
    3 egg yolks {I used Egg Beaters}
    1 cup Splenda
    1/2 cup fat free sour cream
    1 cup creamy peanut butter

    Topping:1 cup fat free sour cream
    1 cup milk chocolate chips
    2 tbsp. light brown sugar

DUMP all the ingredients into a food processor. Process until it becomes a silky smooth mixture.
Pour the filling into a springform pan (9″ or 8″) and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the the oven and place it aside allowing it to cool just a bit.
Warm the sour cream and milk chocolate with the brown sugar in a small saucepan over low heat. Gently whisk to blend in the chocolate as it melts, then take the pan off the heat.
Gently pour topping on top of cheesecake and put back into the oven for about 15 minutes.
Cool cheesecake completely before eating. The chocolate topping will harden in the fridge.
Debbie’s original cheese cake had a crust but I made mine crustless. {Original Recipe}

I have so many of Debbie’s recipes pinned. It was hard to pick and I still have to try:

Just to name a few.


So hop (Get it – Blog HOP) on over to Debbie’s blog and try some of her DELICIOUS! recipes.


    If Quiche is one of your fave dishes, like it is mine, you need to visit this blog soon.
    If Dessert is one of your fave dishes, like it is mine, you need to visit this blog soon.
    If Ice Cream is one of your fave dishes, like it is mine, you need to visit this blog soon.

Cause if you do, you will find TONS of recipes in each of those categories, plus TONS more in chicken, pizza, pasta just to name a few of the types of recipes you will find on SARA’s Blog – Cooking with Sara. Sara was my ‘assignment’ this month for Secret Recipe Club. SRC is a monthly cooking group where we cook from different blogs each month. The blogs are new to us and a great way to find new fellow Foodies.

Sarah is in the Midwest and loves to cook. She says her Mom was her inspiration…

    “Much of my love for cooking comes from my Mom, who demonstrated (almost!) every day that an attractive and delicious meal on the table shows love for those around you. I learned much from watching her, and continue to be inspired by her ministry of hospitality.”

Sarah, she taught you well because there are WAY too many recipes to choose just one from, so I didn’t. But even choosing just a couple was very difficult.

I started out with Sara’s…

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I like quiche for lunch more than any other meal. It is light, quick, and you can often tailor a quiche to your own tastes, as I did Sara’s.

    1 medium onion, finely chopped
    1/2 pound medium cooked shrimp, cut in half
    2 tsp. olive oil
    3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
    6 eggs
    1 cup half and half
    1/2 pound asparagus, washed and trimmed
    1 tsp. red pepper flakes
    1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan gruyere cheese
    1 1/2 Tbsp. bread crumbs

{I made a small sized quiche so I cut all the ingredients by about 1/3}

Cut 6 asparagus spears into equal length and blanch them in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes or until bright green. {I actually did this with all the asparagus.} Remove and set aside. Chop the remaining asparagus into bite sized pieces.

Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a pan and add the garlic and onion and saute for several minutes until the onion gets soft. Add the chopped asparagus and saute for 2-3 minutes or until it turns bright green. Add the shrimp and red pepper flakes and mix well to combine. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Whisk the eggs together with the half and half, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Grease a pie plate or quiche pan with non stick spray, then add the bread crumbs, tapping the pan to distribute them evenly across the bottom of the pan. {I would probably leave this out next time.}
Pour the asparagus and shrimp mixture into the prepared pan, and top with the egg mixture.
Sprinkle the cheese over the top and arrange the reserved asparagus on top.
Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let stand a few minutes before serving.

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This was as good as it sounds. The asparagus were soft but not mushy and the shrimp were nice a crisp. Delicious! Sprinkle the cheese over the top means it has a nice crust and you get more of a concentrated cheese flavor.

The Man of the House is big fan of ice cream. Summer! Winter! doesn’t matter. I have several kinds that I make all the time, but I am always looking for new ones. Like this one.

Coconut Macadamia Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

    1 8-oz. can cream of coconut
    2 cups half-and-half
    1/2 cup coconut, toasted
    1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
    1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Whisk the cream of coconut and half and half in a large measuring cup. Pour into ice cream freezer. Near the end of the cycle, add coconut, nuts and chocolate chips. Makes about 1 quart.

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I have made coconut ice cream before but not with crème de coconut. It adds a whole great depth of flavor. Definitely going into the ice cream rotation. And I am already thinking of subbing crushed pineapple for the chocolate chips, or maybe candied pecans for the macadamia. YUM!!!

Those are only two of TONS of recipes. Now if I can just find time to make her

…and at least 15 more I have pinned and waiting. Go. Visit. Sarah!

What did the other members of Secret Recipe Club

    make? Just click on the links below. Awesome food is waiting for you.

I used to think that I would never find ANYTHING on a Vegetarian Blog because I don’t eat a lot of veggies. I have my fave few – brocolli, cauliflower, eggplant, corn, asparagus, lentils – but there are many I don’t eat – well, yet anyway. Asparagus and lentils are new to me, eggplant almost as new. So when the word vegetarian comes up I tend to shy away.

No more! Not since I joined the Secret Recipe club and have been ‘assigned’ several over the past couple of years!! YAY Veggies!!

And April brought me another foray into delicious veggies – I still mainly stick to my faves but I am learning new ways to cook them all the time. And cooking with Nayna at Simply Foods was such fun! Nayna lives in the United Kingdom where she creates all kinds of lovely dishes – including 44 curries. Yes, FORTY-FOUR!! I was in heaven.

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I started with her Aubergine and Pidgeon Peas Curry which I adapted only slightly. I could not find Pidgeon Peas so I used frozen green peas instead. Now I want to make it with yellow lentils!!

    6 baby aubergines {I had one large so I used that.}
    120 grams frozen or fresh pidgeon green peas
    1 teaspoon tumeric
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon chilli powder {I doubled all the spices except for the salt}
    1 teaspoon cumin powder
    1 teaspoon coriander powder
    2 medium tomatoes1 14.5 oz diced tomatoes, drained
    1 teaspoon tomato paste
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 teaspoon garlic paste, diced
    1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
    1 tablespoon fresh chopped coriander for garnish.


Chop the tomatoes and puree them in blender
.
Peel the eggplant and cut into large dice.
Add the oil to a large skillet and when hot, add in the mustard seeds and garlic. Sautee until garlic is tender.
Add the eggplant pieces and peas and saute until tender.
Thoroughly mix in the salt, chilli powder, cumin and coriander powder and turmeric and saute for another 2-3 minutes.
Mix 1/2 cup of water {I used the liquid from the drained canned tomatoes} with the tomato paste and add to the eggplant mixture.
Cover and cook the curry till peas and eggplants are tender and cooked and most of the water is absorbed. (approx 15 minutes)
Transfer to serving dish and garnish with fresh coriander. (Original Recipe)

Or what about Nanya’s Sweet Potato Halwa

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    1 large sweet potato
    3 tablespoons Splenda {only because we are cutting back on our sugar.}
    2 tablespoons milk
    1 tablespoon ghee butter
    Pinch saffron
    Pinch nutmeg
    Chopped Almonds

Cook the sweet potato in a microwaveable dish with until completely cooked – about 5 minutes.
Let cool slightly, peel, and process the sweet potato until smooth.
Heat the milk and add a few strands of saffron and set aside until the saffron flavor has infused the milk.
Melt the butter in a pan and add the mashed sweet potato and milk. Stir.
Add the Splenda and nutmeg and cook about 3 minutes. Keep stirring the halwa at all times.
Spoon into small bowls. Sprinkle with chopped almonds and a few strands of Saffron. Original Recipe


This is listed as a sweet treat, but it makes a nice mid-afternoon snack that is high in protein and low in calories.

Not all of Nayna’s recipes are Indian. On my list to try: Greek Baklava ROLLS (easy roll recipe), Watermelon pops this summer when we harvest ours, Greek Phyllo Triangles Mexican Quesadilla..oh, wait I had that for lunch! And the only thing I changed was to add a little spicy chicken to the mix.

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– just to name a few of the 31 recipes I have pinned. So much good food, so little time!!!

If you want to get to know Nayna just read the poem she wrote:

    Cinnamon clove and star anise
    Fragrant aromas to tantalise and please
    Cooking, baking, mixing with a whizz
    Desserts, cakes, and ice creams that you can freeze please.
    Sweet and sour with a hint of bite
    Maybe a salad for that something lite light?
    Flour, eggs, and buttermilk
    Chocolate soufflés that fall down and sink turn out like silk.
    A savoury touch with some special spice
    Something that gives a kick and goes with rice
    Eastern, Western or a European dish
    Culinary delights to earn you a kiss fulfil your every wish.
    Day and night I think dream of food
    I know for my waistline this is no good
    So instead I write my creations in a blog

      ….and then go visit her blog!! You won’t be sorry!!

And to visit the other MEMBER’s Treats and Goodies :

It has been cold in the Deep South for the last month. In fact, we have had snow and ice four times. Unheard of in the Deep South. So I was looking for something warm and comforting for dinner and beyond. Thank goodness for Secret Recipe Club because I found more than enough tasty dishes to keep us warm and cozy for a few meals. How, you ask? Because I was lucky enough to be matched with Veronica of My Catholic Kitchen for this month’s SRC!!

Vonnie lives in Coastal Virginia with The Hubster, a beauyiful teenage daughter, two turtles and a cute little dog, Meeka. She says she is, ‘a work in progress’, a food writer, and blogger (obviously), and self-taught cook. She taught me a thing or two with all her tempting recipes. To keep us warm. But to cool us off in the hot summer as well.

I have been making potato soup for several years. It is B’s favorite. But I never thought to make it in the crockpot until Veronica showed me how.

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    6 large baking potatoes peeled cut into 1/2 inch cubes
    1 large sweet onion
    1 quart of vegetable broth homemade or canned
    3 garlic cloves minced
    1/4 cup butter
    1 tablespoon salt
    1/2 tablespoon pepper

Put these ingredients into the crockpot and cook for 6 – 8 hours on low until potatoes are tender. Mash the cooked potatoes leaving some chunks. {I used my immersion blender}

    1 cup half and half or cream
    1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    3 tablespoons chopped chives
    1 cup sour cream

Now mix in these last four ingredients. Serve garnished with additional chives, cheese, and, if you wish, crumbled bacon.

Definitely going to keep you warm on a cold night. It is filling, comforting, and delicious.

We are actually trying to watch what we eat. Maybe a few more veggies, a little less sugar, fruit for breakfast. If I can combine some good ingredients together it is definitely a positive thing. Like making Vonnie’s Breakfast Banana Muffins. Moist and tasty. I made a couple of subs just trying to make them a little healthier.

    5 ripe bananas
    1 1/4 cup All Purpose flour {I used 1/2 AP and 1/2 Whole Wheat Flour}
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup sugar {Splenda}
    1/2 cup shortening {used 1/4 cup shortning and 1/4 cup applesauce}
    2 large eggs beaten {1/2 cup egg beaters}

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spray the muffin tins with cooking spray or put liners in each of them. I used some heart shaped silicone holders. These are supposed to be more heart healthy!!
Peel the bananas and place them a bowl and mash them up well. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Add the sugar, shortening, apple sauce, and eggs to the mashed bananas then stir in the flour mixture just until the batter is blended.
Pour the batter into the muffin tins to about 2/3 full and bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the muffin comes out clean.

Perfect for Breakfast. Or a snack.

And then, because I am always looking for new dishes to make in the slow cooker I tried Vonnie’s Slow Cooker Chicken BBQ. We love BBQ chicken and always make extra for sandwiches. But since the weather has simply been uncooperative I decided to try this version instead.

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    8 boneless skinless chicken breasts
    1 cup ketchup
    1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1 Tbl Seasoning Mix {I used Toni’s.}
    1/2 cup cider vinegar

Place chicken in the slow cooker.

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Mix the ketchup, Worcestershire, sugar, hot pepper and vinegar together and pour sauce over chicken. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or on high 4-5 hours. Remove and shred the chicken then mix it back into sauce. If it seems a little dry you can add some water a little at a time.

Served on a toasted bun it was perfect for a quick lunch – several lunches actually.

Okay, that’s three of the 15 recipes I ended up Pinning. There are so many more but somewhere along the line I just had to stop reading and start cooking. But in the future look for her Garlic Cheese Biscuits, Vodka Sauce, Baklava, ………
It’s All Good.

Speaking of good, you really need to hop over to the SRC Members and check out their ‘assignments’ this month. They are below.


A whole new year has begun. That means twelve more months of the Secret Recipe Club. It’s a cooking group where each month we are assigned a Secret Blog. We cook from it and then post what we cooked. It’s all secret until reveal day. Thus the name – SECRET Recipe Club. Every month we get to meet different bloggers. Expand our horizons. Make new friends. This month I added bunches of pins all because I met up with Manuela of Manu’s Menu. So many things I want to make. It’s always hard to choose from so many good things. I stuck with three. All of them a version of something I would have to cook for us to eat.

So we’ll start with Bread.

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    Whole Wheat Bread

If you need a sweetish nutty sandwich bread, this is the one.

    Ingredients: (makes two 23×12.5 cm – 9×5 inch loaves)
    235 ml – 1 cup warm water
    10 gms – 2 tsp active dry yeast
    235 ml – 1 cup milk
    90 ml – ¼ cup honey
    2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    350 gms – 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
    350 gms – 2 ¾ cups whole wheat flour
    1 tbsp salt

Put the warm water in a glass and dissolve the yeast into it. Set it aside for a few minutes to activate.
In the meantime, put the milk, honey, extra virgin olive oil and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the hook attachment. Add the water and yeast, two cups of all-purpose flour and stir to combine the ingredients. Add the rest of the all-purpose and whole wheat flours. Stir to form a rough dough. Let this dough stand for 20 minutes so that the flour can absorb the liquid.

Now, knead the dough for 8-9 minutes. If the dough is very sticky, add extra flour little by little. The dough is ready when “it is smooth, feels slightly tacky, forms a ball without sagging, and springs back when poked”.

Form the dough into a ball, spray it with some olive oil and put it into a bowl. Cover it with cling wrap and put it in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume (this will take at least 1 hour).
Then, divide the dough in two and shape each half into a ball. Let them rest for 10 minutes.

Grease two loaf pans. Shape each ball of dough into a loaf. To do so, gently flatten the balls into rectangles. Now fold the bottom third of the dough over itself (like a letter) and then fold the top of the dough down to overlap the other layers and pinch it closed with your fingers (on all sides). Roll the loaf over so that the seam is down, then fold the 2 sides and tuck them underneath. Now gently put the loaf into the pan. The seams should be on the bottom with the tight surface facing up Let the loaves rise for another 30 minutes. Slash the top with a serrated knife so that it rises evenly in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 220°C – 425°F. Put the loaves in and turn down the heat to 190°C – 375°F. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until dark golden-brown. They will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Let them cool completely before slicing.

This was such good bread. So much flavor. Mine didn’t rise as much as I expected. ot But that’s alright.

And we needed supper one night so I used another of Manuela’s recipes.

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    Penne with Sausage Sauce

We love any kind of of pasta add some sausage to it and it is a perfect meal. As was this dish of Manuela’s I used 1/2 Venison Sausage and 1/2 pork sausage.

    300 gms of Italian style sausage with fennel seeds (you should be able to get this at your local deli)
    2 tins (800 gms) of diced tomatoes
    3 medium carrots
    1 medium onion
    2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
    1 standard shot of Brandy/Cognac {I left this out}
    100 ml of cream
    1 cup of water
    Salt & pepper to taste (depending on the sausage you may need more or less salt)
    400 gms of penne rigate pasta
    Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano – very finely grated, to serve

Clean and finely chop the onion and carrots and cook them with the 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil on a medium fire until they are soft.
Remove the sausage from the skin and chop it coarsely.Then add it to the onion and carrots and mash it with a wooden spoon.
When the sausage has browned, add the diced tomatoes, 1 cup of water, a pinch of salt and pepper.Cover and cook on low fire for approximately 1 hour (when the sauce thickens it is ready).
Add the Brandy/Cognac and cook uncovered on a high flame for 2 minutes. Then lower the flame, add the cream, bring it back to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Check for salt.

In the meantime, cook the penne pasta “al dente” . Serve with the sausage sauce and some grated Parmigiano Reggiano on the top.

Definitely this is a repeat. But maybe next time I will remember to ADD THE CREAM!! I completely left it out. After we finished I found the container of cream STILL SITTING ON THE COUNTER. It was good without the cream. I can imagine how nice and thick and smooth it would be WITH the cream.

We had a cold snap (as did just about everybody else) and ran out of my Chai mix for making tea. Lucky for me Manuela had a recipe for Chai on her blog.

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    10 gms – 2 tsp pepper powder
    10 gms – 2 tsp ginger powder
    7 gms – 1.5 tsp cardamom powder
    7 gms – 1.5 tsp cinnamon powder
    0.5 gm – ¼ tsp clove powder
    0.5 gm – ¼ tsp nutmeg powder

Put all the ingredients in a small container with a lid and stir until well combined. Keep in a well closed jar.

Of course this is just the mix for the tea. To make the tea you can use her Method to make it.

I liked all of the proportions of her spices except for the pepper. I doubled everything except for the pepper. Much more to my taste.

These are only three of the many, many delicious recipes on Manu’s Menu. I only pinned about 30 of her dishes. Enough to keep us eating for a long time. You have to visit with Manuela. You have to try her recipes. You have to see for yourself.

Please visit the other SRC Group C members and see what blogs they cooked from.


Every once in a while a blog name really catches your attention. Usually because you just know it tells you something important about the blogger. So when I was assigned It’s Yummy to my Tummy I knew right away my blogger had children. Isn’t it obvious? How many times have I heard my granddaughter say…

yogabba

    “There’s a party in my tummy. So yummy….”

and I imagine Heather’s two cuties say it a lot too. Especially if they get to eat her treats.

Like the ones I chose to make for Secret Recipe Club. and as usual it wasn’t easy making a choice.

The day I started reading through Heather’s blog is was chilly outside so soup sounded perfect.

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    Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

What a delicious way to warm up. Creamy, full of flavor with all the garlic, parsley, and thyme. And so colorful.

    1 cup cooked chicken, diced
    4 tbsp butter
    4 tbsp flour
    1 quart half and half
    14 ounces chicken broth
    1/2 cup celery, finely diced
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1 cup carrots, finely shredded
    1 cup onion, finely diced
    1 cup spinach, chopped
    1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    1/2 tsp thyme
    1/2 tsp parsley
    1 lb gnocchi
    salt and pepper, to taste

Saute the onion, garlic, and celery in the butter and olive oil, until onion becomes translucent. Add in your flour and make like a paste or a roux. Stirring constantly, cook the mixture for about a minute and then add in your half and half, seasonings, carrots, and chicken. Let mixture begin to simmer and thicken up.
In another pot, cook your gnocchi according to package directions or prepare your homemade gnocchi. Note, if preparing homemade gnocchi for this dish, I would do that before so you don’t have to worry about it at the same time as preparing your soup. As the soup mixture gets thicker, maybe a few minutes of simmering, add in your chicken broth, and let it reduce a few minutes again. Once the gnocchi is ready, add it to the simmering soup, along with your spinach.
Cook for a few additional minutes or until the spinach starts to wilt. Serve with a little parmesan cheese on top if you wish.

Afterward we needed a litle something sweet.

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And this Peanut Butter Fudge was just perfect.
I have been making PB fudge for years. And I have used the same recipe for years. You know the one -with that Puffy White Stuff. Well I am here to tell you this is sooo much better and tons easier to make.

    5 ounces of unsalted butter
    2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
    2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

In a microwaveable bowl, place butter and peanut butter and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for about 1 1/2- 2 minutes. Next stir mixture and microwave another 2 minutes, mixture will be hot and bubbly!
Add in vanilla and salt
Stir in powdered sugar until smooth. Note the mixture starts to get really thick here! So stir it with some muscle to incorporate the powdered sugar well.
Put the fudge into a 9 x 9 pan lined with parchment paper for easier removal. Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator until to cut into pieces and enjoy.

Microwave fudge!! This is way too dangerous a recipe to know about. Maybe I shouldn’t share it?

I don’t make biscuits very often (carbs!)(no self control!) but I decided to try Heather’s with the stew the other night. I needed something to soak up all the extra juices.

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    Fabio's Cheese Bomb Biscuits
      2 cups of sifted flour
      2 tsp of baking powder
      1/2 tsp of salt
      4 tbsp shortening
      1 1/4 cups of half & half
      1 1/2 Asiago cheese

    Mix all the dry ingredients together, including the grated cheese. Next add in the shortening. After you incorporate the shortening, add in the half & half.
    Ordinarily one would drop 1/4 cup of dough onto a greased cookie sheet, but I decided to use a muffin pan which gave me a nice thick biscuit.
    Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.

    Heather used Romano or Parmesan cheese. I used the Asiago instead. And you will need more than 1 1/2 cups if you want a stronger cheesy taste. They were perfect with the stew.

    If you want to find out what else was coming out of the SRC Member's kitchens you need to check out the postings below. I know you will find some great food.

    And just in case you aren't familiar with Secret Recipe Club it is a great group of bloggers who are assigned a blog. We then make something from their blog and all of us post, or reveal, on the same day. Nobody knows who got who until the reveal. Tons of fun.


Moxie’s blog that is! And glad I did cause there are plenty of great recipes there to try. Which is the problem. Which one(s) to make for this months Secret Receipe Club. And if you don’t know what that is you need to visit SRC and get the low down! Every month we get a SECRET blog to cook from and then we all reveal it on the same day. You get to know so many great bloggers and their recipes. Like Moxie!

Moxie lives in Boston with her pug, Ginger. She grew up in Long Island with four siblings. A nice large Italian family with lots of great recipes passed down through the family. So it is no wonder it was hard to pick. I managed to narrow it down to 20 recipes which I pinned for later. I finally narrowed THAT down to three quick ones I knew we would enjoy – often!!

    Like her….

    P1030001

    Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots

There is nothing better than good fresh beans with lovely onions cooked down in butter and brown sugar.

    1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
    2 tablespoons butter
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    2 tablespoons brown sugar
    1 lb shallots, halved lengthwise and peeled
    1/2 tsp fresh thyme OR 1/4 tsp dried thyme
    2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook green beans in boiling salted water for 5 minutes or until semi-tender; drain. Dump green beans into ice water to stop cooking so they don’t get mushy. Drain and set aside.
In a large skillet, melt butter, olive oil and brown sugar over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté 5 minutes, breaking them apart with a wooden spoon. Stir frequently so the sugar does not burn. Reduce heat to medium-low, add thyme and vinegar, and sauté 10 minutes or until shallots are golden brown and tender.
Increase heat to medium-high and add the green beans back to the pan. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Sauté 3-5 minutes or until heated through. Serves 2 as a side dish.

The only thing I did different was to sautee the beans in a little butter and olive oil, instead of boiling them, and then add the cooked onions and cooked a little longer. So good!

One of my favorite soups is Tomato Basil so I am always looking for a good recipe. Moxie had one. And it so good. I am excited, also, because I got to use some Basil from the garden. She served hers with a grilled sandwich and that sounded like a perfect lunch.

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    2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
    1/2 cup olive oil, divided
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 stalks celery, diced
    2 small carrots, diced
    1 large onion, diced
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    3 cups chicken broth
    2 bay leaves
    4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
    1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
    1/2 cup heavy cream, optional

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Drain cans of tomatoes, reserving juice for later. Pour 1/4 cup olive oil on foil-lined baking sheet along with diced tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway through baking.
Meanwhile, in a large stockpot, heat remaining 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots, onion and garlic, cooking until softened, about 15 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes, reserved juices, chicken broth, bay leaves and butter. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add basil and cream, if using. Puree with a hand held immersion blender until smooth. Serves 4.


Instead of her basic grilled cheese, though, I made her

    Grilled Cheese with ‘Shrooms

    1 teaspoon olive oil
    4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
    Dash of thyme
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    2 ounces shredded mozzarella, divided
    2 slices of wheat bread
    Cooking spray

In a small skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Cook mushrooms until they start to turn golden brown, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Set mushrooms aside in a bowl and wipe out your skillet with a paper towel.
Spray your skillet with cooking spray and turn back to medium-high heat. Place one slice of bread in pan and cover with one ounce mozzarella cheese, reserved mushrooms and then remaining one ounce mozzarella cheese. Top with the other slice of bread and spray more cooking spray right over the top.
Grill sandwich about 2-3 minutes per side, just until it starts to turn golden brown and the cheese melts, flipping once. Serves 1.
And I was right. It WAS the perfect lunch. So many more dishes I want to go back for, but until then, as Moxie would say:

    Tutti Mangia!

So here we are again. Time for a whole new batch of blogs and recipes from The Secret Recipe Club.

I have to admit that as I was starting to go through my assigned blog I thought I would have a lot of trouble. I just couldn’t find anything….oh, wait…now I am. How could I have doubted that I would find some wonderful goodies on Eliot’s Eats!!! So now I have a new problem. I can only do so many of Eliot’s recipes….

Of the 16 I narrowed it down to I had to narrow it down even more. I ended up with some sweets and some savories.

But before we ‘eat’ you need to know a little something about Debra. At first I thought her name was Eliot, but….

    “Why the name Eliot’s Eats?

    T. S. Eliot is my favorite poet. (And, your guess would be correct here—I was an English major. Nobody else would be that fond of Eliot’s verse.) So, it was natural that when a stray kitten showed up literally on our doorstep, we named “him” Eliot. We found out later that our little boy kitten was actually a little girl kitten but the name stuck.” {And he is beautiful!}

She is a major movie fan. Many of her blog posts are dishes designed to ‘match’ a movie. This trend is part of her participation in Food-n-Flix. She loves to cook, grown her own veggies, visit local businesses. What’s not to love about all that?

NOW! On to the food!

I love eggplant, and still have a couple left in the garden, so when I saw Eliot’s pasta I knew I had to try it immediately. I made it for lunch.

P1020807

    Spicy Eggplant Sauce and Pasta

It was sooo good. Just the right hint of spice. Next time, yes, there will be, I plan to cut the eggplant larger so I get more of the taste! But it was good!

    1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
    1 1/2 to 2 lbs. eggplant, cut into small dices
    6 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 t. red pepper flakes (more to taste)
    1 (26.4 oz.) carton Pomi diced tomatoes (or two cans diced tomates)
    2 t. fresh oregano, chopped
    1/2 T. balsamic vinegar
    1 c. water
    Sea Salt
    Freshly ground black pepper

1 lb. favorite pasta, cooked according to directions.
In a large sauce pan or kettle, heat oil. Once oil is very warm add eggplant, garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir frequently to prevent eggplant from sticking and cook for about 8 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes, oregano, and water.
Cook another 30-40 minutes on low until eggplant is thoroughly cooked.
Add balsamic and season with salt and pepper.
Cook pasta according to directions. Drain.
Stir pasta into sauce and serve.
May garnish with a bit of fresh herbs or Parmesan.

I made the whole recipe and served it with Penne so the sauce would be everywhere! Good stuff!

I was out of ice cream (GASP!!) and cookies. Problem quickly solved by Debra.

First off I made Chocolate Ice Cream using cake mix!! WHAT a great idea! And it added such great flavor.

P1020820

Chocolate Cake Batter Ice Cream

    1 (4 oz.) container Egg Beaters {I forgot to buy these so I used two eggs instead and heated some of the cream to temper the eggs before adding to the ice cream}
    3/4 c. sugar
    1 pint whipping cream
    1 c. 2% milk
    2 t. vanilla
    1 c. chocolate cake mix

In a mixing bowl, beat Egg Beaters until thick, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in sugar while continuing to beat. Once all the sugar has been added, continue to beat for 1 minute.
Pour in the cream, milk and vanilla. Mix to combine. Mix in 1 cup of cake mix and continue to beat until incorporated.
Chill for one to two hours in the refrigerator then freeze according to ice maker’s instructions.

    Yield: about 1 quart

Talk about good rich flavor, this had it. And, as Debra said, you can use any flavor cake mix. I think maybe Red Velvet next, or maybe carrot cake, or it could be….

Then we had to have cookies to go with the….well, we didn’t HAVE to, but….ice cream. {PS. I needed ice cream this wknd so I used Carrot Cake Mix – Oh, Yeah!! I added some chopped pecans and coconut. Spicey and Perfect!} Like Debra I usually have bits and pieces of chocolate, coconut, sprinkles, candy in the pantry so when I saw her…

P1020809

    Cupboard Cookies

I knew the recipe was perfect!

    3 1/4 c. flour
    1 t. baking soda
    1 t. fine sea salt
    1/2 c. softened butter
    1/2 c. shortening
    3/4 c. sugar
    3/4 c. dark brown sugar
    1 t. pure vanilla
    2 large farm fresh eggs
    2 c. mixed baking chips (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate)
    1 c. roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and shortening. Add sugars and vanilla and continue to beat. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add chips and sunflower seeds and mix until just incorporated.
Using a cookie scoop, drop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets. Place in oven and bake for around 10 minutes (give or take a few). Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes then remove to wire racks.

I followed Debra’s lead but changed my add-ins a little. Yes, to the choco chips, no to the seeds – used macadamia nuts instead, added about 1/4 cup of coconut and 1/4 cup of mini M&Ms and 1/4 cup of butterscotch chips. All ingredients I had just a little of. Every bite of cookie was different. Little chocolate here. Little coconut there. Perfect recipe for using up bits and pieces. Odds and ends. Tads and smidgeons. And now they are all gone.

Okay, three recipes down 13 to go. All pinned. All looking delicious. All on my To Make List!

Thanks, Debra, for so many delicious treats. I will be back!!

There are lots of good recipes going out today from the other members of The Secret Recipe Club (group C) so check them out.



I know what you are thinking. I am really really late with my SRC post. But I’m not. Honest. I changed groups and now I am with Group C. It’s a whole new world with lots of delicious blogs and new friends to make. So, you see, I am not late!

And I am starting with a blogger who had more than 500, YES, 500, recipes to choose from. Egad! It was a hard thing to just pick a couple I knew I could do before leaving town and then starting back to work. This time I chose all SIDE dishes from my August assignment – Kate is Cooking. Kate is in Indiana with her mate and sous chef, Connie, and has been blogging since 2009. So many many good recipes to choose from. And usually a good story to go along with them. Auto wrecks, parties, travels.

I am trying to finish up some dishes I had leftover so I had my main dishes picked out (not wanting to cook this month and have leftovers) but I didn’t have any good sides to go with them – until I started browsing thru’ Kate’s site.

I started with

P1010885

    Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

which matched up beautifully with some brisket. It is a very simple dish to put together.

    3 large baking potatoes
    1-2 T butter
    Big spoonful goat cheese {I used Garlic and Herb from our local goat dairy.}
    1 T chives, chopped
    fresh ground pepper
    a sprinkle of salt

Do not peel the potatoes. {I peeled half of them.} Dice them and cook them until they’re tender. Drain and stir in the butter, goat cheese, chives and pepper. Smash them with a fork.

Told you it was easy!


      *******************************

What’s the old saying – less is more? In this dish that is completely true. And this was so simple I cannot believe I didn’t think of it!

P1010881

Pasta! Specifically Garlic Spaghetti. Melt some butter, add a little olive oil and toss in some finely chopped garlic. Let the oil infuse for a few minutes then toss with the pasta. Add some salt and garlic powder. {If you ckeck out Kate’s recipe you can see I made mine a little differently.} Sprinkle with chopped parsley and Parm cheese. Notice there are no measurements. Kate didn’t have any either. She said just go with it. So I did. While she used it as a meal with a salad I used it as a side with some chicken. And since I had lots of garlic in the chicken it was perfect. AND! It was so good.

      ******************

Okay, one more. I couldn’t resist another simple side.

P1010899

    Individual Potato Gratins

Yeah, I know, that’s THREE picks from Kate’s many many dishes, but they were all just so simple and you always need sides for your meal, right?

Instead of using a large dish and layering TONS of potatoes all you need is one muffin tin and a few potatoes. Especially good when you are cooking for two. Here is her list of ingredients and my changes.

    “B” sized red potatoes {I used small russets.}
    salt
    freshly ground pepper
    garlic powder
    finely shredded romano or parmesan cheese {I used gruyere.}
    cream

Now for the easy part. Slice the potatoes into thin pieces. Layer the ingredients into the muffin pan – two potato slices then salt/pepper/garlic powder. Two more slices with seasonings and about 1Tbl shredded cheese. REPEAT! Ending with just salt and pepper on top. Pour 1 Tbl of cream over each gratin Bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes. {Mine were done in about 25 min.}

P1010895

These were just the right size and you can make as many or as few as you need. Ideal for us.

Okay. That was it. Well for the sides anyway. I couldn’t resist just one one…

P1010894

I HAD to, we needed them for something delicious and ‘handy’ for the road. BTW, Kate, Hubs says this is the best Blueberry Muffin I have made! The recipe is HERE along with another good story.

NOW, about those other 16 recipes I have pinned…..

You really need to go visit Kate

And while you are doing that check out the other bloggers in Group C and enjoy their dishes as well.

Better yet, join The Secret Recipe Club and join in the fun every month!!

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