Saturday, January 31, 2009

Week 4, Hunger Pangs.....

As I figure out what meals to blog about for the week, it occurs to me that although these meals are intended as a means to being "thrifty" during the week, how incredibly fortunate we are that we can at least provide a hot dinner every night for our families when millions of Americans cannot. However, even with rising food costs, breakfast, lunch and dinner can be had for less then 10 dollars a day. The United States Department of Agriculture's Recipe Finder Database, is a useful tool in order to do this. Use this website if you need it, or pass it along to someone who might. There are also some great tips on how to get your kids to help out in the kitchen!

This weeks recipes are: Smoked Turkey Wraps and Spicy Tomato Soup, Chicken Divan, Fish Veracruz, Farfelle with Watercress and Cherry Tomatoes and Feta.

Enjoy this week's recipes, and let me know what you think! Also, check out this week's dessert recipe. Hot Date, Hot Chocolate Cake.....perfect for a Valentine's Date with your sweetie!!

Items already in the pantry or fridge:

black pepper
olive oil
orange juice
Tabasco sauce
dried dill weed
chili powder
dried basil
white wine

Shopping List:**

8 oz farfalle pasta
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 pints of cherry tomatoes
2 bunches of watercress
2 onions
1 bulb of garlic
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with jalapenos
1/4 cup pimento-stuffed green olives
4 6oz white fish fillets
1 290z can tomato sauce
1 29 oz can diced tomatoes
1 bag of croutons (optional)
6 10" sun-dried tomato basil or spinach herb tortillas
1 7oz container or roasted red pepper hummus, or regular hummus
3/4 lb thinly sliced smoked turkey
1 head Boston bibb lettuce
1 red onion
2 tomatoes
12 slices of bacon
2 10z bags of frozen chopped broccoli
6 chicken breasts (about 4lbs)
1 10 3/4 cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 8oz container of sour cream
1 16oz bag of shredded cheddar cheese
1 lemon
Parmesan cheese
bread crumbs
3 cups chicken broth

**Most recipes are for 4-6 servings. If you are making more, or less, you will need to adjust the shopping list accordingly**

Smoked Turkey Wraps with Spicy Tomato Soup (serves 4-6)

Spicy Tomato Soup:
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 3 tbsp of butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
3 cups of chicken broth
1 29 oz can tomato sauce
1 29 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 dashes of favorite hot sauce
1/4 cup of honey
1 tbsp dried dill weed
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried basil
Croutons (optional)

In a heavy saucepan, melt 5 1/2 tbsp of the butter. When melted add the flour and stir until very smooth. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, until thick and smooth.

In a small skillet, melt the remaining butter. Add the garlic and onion, cook on low heat until translucent-about 3-4 minutes.

Add the onion and garlic mixture to the flour mixture and combine. Slowly add the chicken broth, 1 cup at a time. Stir well after each addition, allowing the mixture to thicken before you add the next cup. When all the broth has been added, begin to add all of the tomato sauce and diced tomato sauce one cup at a time, allowing the mixture to thicken before you add the next cup.

Season the soup with the hot sauce, honey, dill weed, pepper, chili powder and basil. Ladle into bowls and serve with croutons on top.

Smoked Turkey Wraps:
6 10" tortilla wraps (dried tomato, basil or spinach-herb)
1 7oz container hummus (roasted red pepper or original)
3/4 lb very thinly sliced smoked turkey breast
Bibb lettuce leaves
1/4 red onion, slivered
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
12 slices bacon, cooked crisp**
salt and pepper

Heat each wrap for about 10 seconds in a hot skillet or the microwave.

Spread each wrap with hummus. In the center of each wrap, place some smoked turkey, a lettuce leaf, 2-3 onion slivers, and 2 tomato slices. Top with two slices of bacon and sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired. Fold in each side and roll tightly. You can anchor with toothpicks and cut the wrap into halves or thirds.

**In most stores you can find bacon that is already cooked. Simply place the desired amount onto a microwave safe plate and reheat to desired crispiness.

Chicken Divan (serves 6-8)

2 10-oz packages frozen chopped broccoli
6 chicken breast halves, cooked, boned and shredded*
2 10 3/4-oz cans of condensed mushroom soup
1 cup mayo
1 cup sour cream
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp curry powder
salt and pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp butter

Thaw the broccoli according to package directions. Drain, combine in a large bowl with the shredded chicken.

In a medium bowl, combine the soup, mayo, sour cream, cheddar cheese, lemon juice, curry powder, salt and pepper to taste, and wine. Whisk together to make a sauce. Pour the sauce over the broccoli and chicken. Mix well.

Place the mixture into an 11 by 7 inch casserole pan or two 9 inch disposable casserole dishes that have been sprayed with vegetable cooking spray.

Combine Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs and spread over the casserole. Dot with butter. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, until bubbly.

Fish Veracruz (serves 4)

1 tbsp of olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves minced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with jalapeno
1/4 cup chopped pimiento stuffed green olives
2 tbsp orange juice
4 6-oz white fish fillets

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. coat a baking dish with nonstick spray. heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook for 4 minutes or until softened. Add the tomatoes, olives and orange juice; cook 5 minutes. Place the fish in a the baking dish and top with tomato mixture. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until fish is no longer translucent. Serve with a green salad.

Farfelle with Watercress, Cherry Tomatoes and Feta (serves 4)

8 oz farfelle pasta
1cup crumbled feta cheese
2 pints of cherry tomatoes, halved
3 cups watercress leaves (from 2 small bunches)
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp black pepper

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Place the cheese in a large bowl; top with the watercress. Before draining the pasta, take 1/4 cup of the cooking water from the pot and pour it over the watercress. (Watercress will wilt slightly, and the cheese will get soft.) To blanch the tomatoes; place into a colander and drain the pasta on top. Add olive oil to the watercress and cheese, toss with pasta and tomatoes; sprinkle with pepper and serve.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Week 3, Getting Into My Groove....

Week three of this blog and I am really getting into this. I am so excited about all of the positive feedback! Feel free to comment on the recipes, and don't be shy if you didn't like something! If you have a substitution, or just a different way of doing the recipe I would love to hear it!

This week's recipes are ultra-easy, and very delicious: Swordfish Tacos with Fruit Salad, Southwest Style Chicken Burgers with Macaroni and Cheese, Pasta e Fagioli and Chinese Stir-Fry. I like them all, but my favorites are the Swordfish Tacos and the Chinese Stir-Fry.

The tacos are a great combination of flavors. The fresh, delicate seafood and the savory, spicy sauce with the crunchy cabbage and taco shells-it's really terrific! This recipe can be made with fresh or frozen swordfish-or use your leftover swordfish steaks from the night before. Essentially, any fish can be used in this recipe. However, I think swordfish holds up the best in a taco.

The Chinese Stir-Fry recipe is a simple, healthy and cheaper alternative then ordering take out. However, last week when I told my 3 year old that we were having Chinese food for dinner, she told me that she didn't want me to make it; she wanted the Chinese food guy to deliver it. My recipe is a quick, yummy alternative, but nothing beats the original!

Remember if you are buying all of your ingredients in advance, and do not immediately freeze the fish or poultry, that they should be used first. Both fish and poultry are highly perishable.

Enjoy! Happy Cooking!!

Items already in pantry or fridge:

Eggs, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, olive oil, cumin, mayo, dried rosemary, Parmesan cheese, sugar

Shopping List**

1 9 oz bag of plain or nacho flavored tortilla chips
1 green pepper
1 lb ground chicken
2 oz Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno
1 avocado
1 head of iceberg lettuce
2 limes
1 lb fresh or frozen swordfish steaks (preferably 1" thick)
1 medium tomato
1 bunch cilantro
1 red onion
1 bulb of garlic
1 onion
1 bunch of carrots
1 12 oz bag of coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage
fruit of choice for fruit salad
8 corn taco shells
1 box of favorite macaroni and cheese
1 jar of hoisin sauce*
1 16 oz bag of frozen Asian vegetables (I recommend the brand Seapoint Farms)
1 9oz box Purdue Shortcuts chicken (original flavor)
1 bottle soy sauce
1 bag of white rice
1 jar sesame oil
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 jar of salsa
1 jar of mango salsa (optional)
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes with oregano, basil, garlic
16 oz box of small bow tie pasta
2 15 oz cans of white cannelini beans
1 8oz can of water chestnuts
1 pkg taco seasoning

**Most recipes are for 4-6 servings. If you are making more, or less, you will need to adjust the shopping list accordingly**

*hoisin sauce [ HOY-sihn; hoy-SIHN ]
Also called Peking sauce, this thick, reddish-brown sauce is sweet and spicy, and widely used in Chinese cooking. It's a mixture of soybeans, garlic, chili peppers and various spices. Hoisin sauce is mainly used as a table condiment and as a flavoring agent for many meat, poultry and shellfish dishes. It can be found in Asian markets and many large supermarkets.

Swordfish Tacos with Fruit Salad (4 servings)

1 lb of fresh or frozen swordfish

3 tbsp olive oil

1 pkg taco seasoning

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp of sugar

3 tbsp mayo

1 tbsp of cilantro chopped

2 tsp lime juice

1 1/2 cups packaged shredded cabbage or coleslaw

8 corn tacos

Thaw the fish, if frozen. Rinse the fish and pat dry with paper towel. Cut the fish crosswise into 3/4 inch slices. Place fish in a single layer in a greased shallow baking pan. Combine the olive oil and taco seasoning. Brush this mixture over the fish. Cook the fish in a 450 degree oven for 4-6 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine the mayo, lime juice, cumin, cilantro, garlic powder, sugar and chili powder. Add to coleslaw mix and toss to coat. If the coleslaw is not moist enough, add more lime juice, or a little milk.

Spoon the coleslaw mixture into the taco shells, cover with fish slices. Top this with mango salsa. Serve with fruit salad.

Optional condiments for fish tacos: fried sweet peppers with onions (usually sold in jar by the roasted peppers), black olives, avocados, chopped tomatoes, chopped red onion

Southwest Style Chicken Burgers with Macaroni and Cheese (4 servings)

1 slightly beaten egg

1/4 cup of finely crushed nacho-flavor or plain tortilla chips

3 tbsp finely chopped green pepper

3/4 tsp of chili powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 pound ground uncooked chicken

2 oz Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers, sliced

4 kaiser rolls

1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and sliced


1 medium tomato

1 red onion

1/4 cup of salsa

1 box of favorite macaroni and cheese

In a medium bowl combine egg, tortilla chips, green pepper, chili powder, salt and black pepper. Add the chicken and mix well. (Mixture will be wet.) Shape the chicken mixture into four 3/5 inch thick round patties.

Place patties on a greased broiler pan. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 14-18 minutes or until no longer pink and an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees. Turn the patties once during broiling time. Top the burgers with the cheese slices and broil 1 minute longer until the cheese melts.

Serve the burgers on the kaiser rolls (toasted if you want), top with avocado, red onion, lettuce and tomato. Serve with favorite macaroni and cheese.

Pasta e Fagioli (4 servings)

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

2 garlic cloves minced

1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed

2 carrots, chopped

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 14.5 can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano

1 1/2 cups of small bow-tie pasta

1 15 oz cans white cannellini beans drained and rinsed*

1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium/high heat. Add the onion, garlic, rosemary and carrots; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften. Add the broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Stir in the pasta and cook 8 minutes, or until nearly al dente*. Add the beans; cook 2 minutes, or until pasta is done. Ladle into bowls and top with cheese. Serve with Italian bread.

*Rinsing the beans is important. By rinsing you can make sure that this soup doesn't repeat on your family! :)

*Al denté: Describes foods, especially pasta, cooked only until soft enough to eat, but not overdone. The Italian translation is "to the teeth."

Chinese Stir- Fry (4 servings)

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves of garlic

1 16 oz bag of frozen Asian vegetables

2 tbsp of soy sauce

2 tbsp of hoisin sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

1 9 oz box of Purdue Shortcuts chicken

1 80z can of water chestnuts drained

Heat oil in a medium pan on medium/high heat. Add garlic, cook until fragrant. Add frozen vegetables, cook until heated through. Add the hoisin sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil. Add chicken and drained water chestnuts, heat through. Serve on a bed of rice.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Week 2, Winter in Connecticut.....

I'm not sure if it's ever going to stop snowing here in Connecticut! But, one thing is for certain, when it's snowing outside nothing is better then a hearty, warm meal inside. (I think I might be stealing that line from a Campbell's soup commercial) Which brings me to this week's recipes: BBQ Beef Brisket with Steamed Veggies, Chicken Burritos and Spanish Rice, Caramelized Onion, Spinach and Goat Cheese Quesadillas and Vegetable Soup, and Tuna Noodle Casserole with Veggies.

The last recipe is similar to one that my mom would make for my brothers and I growing up, it's a total comfort, nostalgic meal for me. The veggies are my healthy addition. If tuna is not your thing, then substitute canned chicken. The Beef Brisket recipe is cooked in a crock pot. Don't worry if you don't have one, I will give directions on how to make it without. However, if you are so inclined to purchase a crock pot, it can be a real life-saver! Throw all the ingredients in, in the morning, and by dinnertime you have a great meal. If you are purchasing one, you DO NOT need one with all the bells and whistles. A 5-6qt crock-pot, a great size for a family of 4 plus, with a low and high setting will suffice.

Finally, don't be discouraged by any of these recipes. I have picked them so that not only the preparation time is short, but so that even a beginner cook can create them. Times are tough, and a lot of people are on budgets, I have taken this into account. For instance, this shopping list (assuming you have the "pantry items" already) will cost you approximately $65.00. I find that if I plan out my meals for the week, I end up saving money that I would have spent on takeout, or already prepared meals-plus I eliminate frequent trips to the grocery store and save money on gas!!

All right, enough chatter-let's get to the recipes!!

Items that you may already have in the fridge or pantry:

olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper, butter/margarine, flour, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, chili powder, red pepper, ketchup, brown sugar, bread crumbs

**Shopping list:

2 onions

1 head of garlic

9 oz baby spinach

4 oz semi-soft goat cheese

12- 8 inch whole wheat (or regular flour) tortillas

2 medium tomatoes

3 1/2 oz elbow macaroni

1 bunch of celery

2- 5oz cans of tuna

4 oz of cheddar cheese cubes

7 oz jar roasted peppers

1 cup frozen vegetable of choice

1 box of beef bouillon (Herb-Ox or Knorr)

2 1/2 pounds of fresh beef brisket (not corned)

1 rotisserie chicken

1 jar of salsa

1- 3/8 0z can of jalapeno-flavored bean dip (or refried beans)

1 pkg of fajita seasoning

8 oz Monterrey jack cheese

8 oz sour cream

8 oz box of Spanish rice

7 oz can of corn giblets

2-3 cans of favorite vegetable soup

**Most recipes are for 4-6 servings. If you are making more, or less, you will need to adjust the shopping list accordingly**

Beef Brisket with Barbecue Sauce

3/4 cup of water

1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp of vinegar

1 tsp of instant beef bouillon

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp ground red pepper

2 cloves of garlic minced

2 1/2 pound fresh beef brisket

1/4 cup ketchup

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp butter or margarine

For cooking liquid, in a bowl combine water, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, bouillon granules, dry mustard, chili powder, red pepper, and garlic. Reserve 1/2 cup of liquid for sauce; set aside in the refrigerator. Trim fat from meat. If necessary, cut brisket to fit into a 3/1 or 4 qt crockery cooker. Pour remaining liquid over the brisket.

Cover and cook on a low heat seating for 10-12 hours OR on high-heat setting for 5-6 hours. For sauce, in a small saucepan combine the 1/2 cup reserved liquid, ketchup, brown sugar, and butter. Heat and pass sauce with meat.

Serve with favorite steamed vegetables.

If cooking with a 5-6 qt crock-pot double the cooking liquid, reserving 1/2 cup for the sauce. Leave all other amounts the same. If cooking in the oven, follow the above recipe, however cook the brisket, uncovered, in a roasting pan in a 350 degree oven for approximately 4 hours.

Chicken Burritos

8- 8 inch flour tortillas

1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1 cup bottled salsa

1- 3 1/8 oz can jalapeno-flavored bean dip

1 tsp fajita seasoning

8 oz Monterrey jack cheese

sour cream


In a large bowl combine chicken, 1 cup of salsa, the bean dip and fajita seasoning

To assemble, spoon 1/3 cup meat mixture onto each tortilla near one edge. Top meat mixture with a stick of cheese. Fold in sides, and roll up, starting from edge with the filling. Place tortillas, seam sides down, in a greased 3 qt rectangular baking dish.

Top the burritos with shredded cheese, and a little bit of salsa.

Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven about 30 minutes or until heated through. Serve with more salsa and sour cream

Serve with Spanish rice. Add can of corn giblets to the Spanish rice when rice is almost done cooking.

Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onion and Spinach Quesadillas

1 tbsp olive oil

2 cups thinly sliced onion

1 tsp of sugar

1/4 tsp of salt

9 ounces of baby spinach

4 ounces of semisoft goat cheese

4 8-inch whole wheat flour tortillas

2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, sugar and salt; cook stirring occasionally, until onion is a dark golden brown. Remove from pan. Add the spinach and 1 tbsp water to the skillet; cook 2 minutes, or until spinach is just wilted. Remove from skillet and turn off the heat. Spread a quarter of the goat cheese on each tortilla and top with tomato, onion and spinach. Fold closed and press lightly. Heat the skillet and place two folded quesadillas in it (you may need to add a little more oi). Cook two minutes per side, or until golden brown and lightly crisp. Repeat.

Serve with favorite canned vegetable soup.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

To save time, substitute a 10 3/4 ounce can of condensed cream of mushroom soup mixed with 3/4 cup milk for the sauce.

1 cup elbow macaroni

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 tbsp butter or margarine, melted

1 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 cups of milk

2- 5 oz cans of tuna, drained and broken into chunks

1 cup of cheddar cheese cubes

1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers.

1 cup frozen vegetables thawed.

Cook the noodles according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, combine the bread crumbs and 1 tbsp of melted butter; set aside.

For sauce, in a medium saucepan cook celery and onion in the 1/4 cup of butter until tender. Stir in flour, salt, dry mustard, and black pepper. Add milk all at once, cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Combine sauce, tuna, cheese, roasted pepper, thawed vegetables and cooked noodles. Transfer to a 1 1/2 qt casserole. Sprinkle with crumb mixture. Bake, uncovered, in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and crumb topping is golden.

Serve with garden salad or fruit salad.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Week One, trial and error....

A friend of mine, who's a great cook, came for dinner this past Saturday night. Every time we've eaten at their house the food has been fantastic. For dinner I made Jambalaya, which I kept insisting is a very simple recipe. Prep time was about 15 minutes, and then it cooks on the stove for about 45 min-what could be easier?! I think she was slightly incredulous. She told me that one of the reasons that she finds it difficult to cook well during the week, is that she's not organized enough to do it. Organization is key to good cooking!

So, that got me thinking. I would create a weekly blog where I would list the recipes that I am making for the week, as well as a shopping list. Yes, it is slightly egotistical to think anyone would give a rat's ass as to what I am making for the week, but if it helps one busy mom out then it's all worth it. Plus, when you're cooking for your family every freakin' night, sometimes it's hard to be creative and think of what to make!

Now, I'm a realist. I know that some nights you just need to order a pizza. That's why I'm going to give you four recipes. I'll try to make sure that one of the recipes can be used for a "left-over" night, and then you have one night for take out, tuna sandwiches-whatever. The weekends are up to you!

Feel free to substitute according to your diet, whole milk replace with fat free, Italian sausage replace with turkey or chicken. Remember, these recipes are for our families, so they don't need to be that impressive, just tasty!

I would love feedback on the recipes as well. Anything you substituted, or added. Don't worry, future blogs will be more concise. I'll get right to the recipes. I created this blog later then I would have liked. I will aim to have them created on Saturday evening or Sunday morning. Enjoy!-Jenn

This week's recipes: Jambalaya, Salmon Burgers with Dill Sauce, Country Turkey Casserole, Baked Ziti with Spinach

Items you may already have in the pantry or fridge:

vegetable oil

olive oil

dried basil

dried thyme

bay leaves

cayenne pepper



hot sauce

white wine



Shopping List


2 onions

1 green bell pepper

1 red onion

1 bunch of flat leaf Italian parsley

1 lemon

1 bunch of dill

1 bag of spinach

2 lb turkey, chicken or Italian sausage (this is for two different recipes)

1/2 lb ham

16 oz chicken broth

white rice

14 oz canned tomatoes (can use diced, with basil)

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

2 salmon fillets (or 3 6 oz cans of salmon)

1 8 oz cream cheese

heavy cream

1 can cream of celery soup

1 can cream of potato soup

2 cooked turkey breasts OR 1 rotisserie chicken (Stop and Shop sells the turkey breasts cooked)

4 cups of prepared herb seasoned stuffing

16 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

8 oz Parmesan cheese

10 oz penne pasta

2 8 oz cans sliced carrots

2 8 oz cans sliced green beans


3 tbsp vegetable oil

2 cloves of garlic

1 onion

1/2 green bell pepper

1 sprig of fresh parsley

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 bay leaf

cayenne pepper to taste

1 pound chicken, turkey or Italian sausage

1/2 pound ham

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup dry white wine OR additional cup chicken broth

1 cup uncooked white rice

1 cup canned tomatoes, with liquid

hot pepper sauce to taste

Chop garlic, onion and green pepper. Snip parsley; crumble basil and thyme. Place herbs in a small bowl with bay leaf, chili powder and cayenne pepper.

Heat oil over medium heat in large heavy pan or dutch oven. Add garlic, onion, bell pepper, herbs and spices. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are almost tender. 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut sausage an ham into 1/2 inch pieces. Add sausage, ham, broth, wine (if using), rice and tomatoes to vegetables. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender about 40-45 minutes.

Serve with hot pepper sauce. Serve with garlic bread. Makes about 6 servings.

Grilled Salmon Burgers with Dill Sauce
2 salmon fillets, skinned and chopped
2 tbsp chopped red onion
1 egg
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

2 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped dill
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

For burgers: combine salmon, red onion, egg, grated lemon rind, juice and pepper. Form into 6 four inch patties. Chill for two hours.
For the sauce: In a small saucepan or microwave safe bowl, melt the cream cheese with heavy cream. Cool a few minutes. Stir in the dill, salt and pepper; set aside.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook patties 3 minutes per side, until just cooked through. Serve topped with sauce.

Serve with choice of steamed vegetables or green salad.

Country Turkey Casserole

1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of potato soup
1 cup of milk
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves, crushed
1/8 tsp pepper
4 cups cooked cut up vegetables
2 cups cubed cooked turkey or chicken
4 cups prepared herb stuffing

Mix soups, milk, thyme, pepper, vegetables and turkey/chicken in 3 qt shallow baking dish. Top with stuffing.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until hot, serves 5.

Serve with a Caesar salad and prepared cranberry sauce.

Baked Ziti with Spinach

3/4 pound Italian sausage, cut into pieces

1 large onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 28-oz can of peeled tomatoes

10 oz penne pasta, cooked

1 10 oz bag of spinach, chopped

6 oz grated mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Meanwhile, heat saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sausage and onion and saute until sausage is cooked through, approximately 10 minutes. Add garlic and saute another 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and reduce heat to simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. combine pasta, spinach, mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese in large bowl. Stir in tomato and sausage mixture. Transfer into a baking pan and pour remaining Parmesan cheese on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

**Substitute whole wheat penne, add 8 oz ricotta cheese to mixture, and top with mozzarella cheese**

Serve with salad and Italian bread.