Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mexican Gumbo w/Chicken

Mexican Gumbo w/ Chicken
By: Kelli Venezia & Skip Graden

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed of fat and diced (Grill Chicken for additional flavor, any other meats such as Steak, Chorizo, or season Ground Beef may be added or substituted)
3 cups frozen bell pepper and onion mix (about 10 ounces) (1 pkg Southwest Blend of Fajita Veggies) or Grilled/Roast Fresh
1 tablespoon ground cumin (less if desired, 1 teaspoon for mild, 2 for medium)
2 14-ounce cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably with green chiles
1 15-ounce can Black Beans drained
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons lime juice (prefer fresh Lime)
1 cup Instant Rice
1 cup V-8 Juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (add some just before boiling, reserve the rest for garnish)
3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
Sour Cream & Chips for garnish

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. (Unless you have previously Grilled the chicken and veggies) Transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon.
Add pepper-onion mix and cumin to the pot, still complete this step if previously grilled roasted the veggies. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned, or if previously Grilled warmed through, about 4 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, black beans, pepper and lime juice; bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes more.
Return the chicken and any accumulated juice, add the rice & V-8 Juice, at this time to the pot and bring to a low boil then reduce heat to a simmer, stirring, until heated through, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat; stir in cilantro. Garnish with Chips, Cheese, Cilantro, & Sour Cream.

EDIT 9/20/15: As I read this over after completion of becoming Certified Culinarian (actual chef), I am seeing some changes that I would use that I think may elevate a great soup. I would add a small dice of carrots and celery to the peppers and onions. (snd if threre is time to fire roast them before sauteing that would be optimal.) I may also add some minced jalapeno, maybe 1/2 of one? Dependant of how much heat you desire??? Lastly instead of rice, Quinoa could be used.  It adds to the protien punch as Quinoa has 8 of the 9 essential amino acids needed to consider it a perfect protien!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

(serves 20)
From: Tony Dinon of Destino’s Pizza

2# Ground Beef
1# Italian Sausage
1Lg Onion
1Lg Green Pepper
32 oz Tomato Paste
16 oz Crushed or Stewed Tomatoes
1 TB Brown Sugar
1 TB Salt
1 TB Pepper
1 TB Oregano
1 TB Garlic (minced)
1 TB Basil
60 oz of Long Spaghetti (3oz each)
Fresh Ground Parm for Garnish

Brown and drain meat, chop veggies, add veggies to meat and sauté for 3 minutes. Add Tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer for 2-3 hours. May add Sliced Mushrooms while browning the meat.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

SUBMITTED BY: Stephanie Phillips PHOTO BY: Melissa
"A great alternative to pumpkin pie, especially for those cheesecake fans out there."

30 Min
40 Min
4 Hrs 10 Min


2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Blend in eggs one at a time. Remove 1 cup of batter and spread into bottom of crust; set aside.
Add pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to the remaining batter and stir gently until well blended. Carefully spread over the batter in the crust.
Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until center is almost set. Allow to cool, then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Cover with whipped topping before serving.

Nutritional Information
Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake
Servings Per Recipe: 8

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 427

· Total Fat: 29g
· Cholesterol: 115mg
· Sodium: 353mg
· Total Carbs: 35.6g
· Dietary Fiber: 0.8g
· Protein: 7.2g
I have made this recipe several times and have shared it with my friends.... Everyone has raved over it!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mexican Brownies (Foodnetwork)

Mexican Brownies

Directions: Prepare your favorite boxed or homemade brownies, adding 3/4 teaspoon ground Chipotle Chile pepper and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the batter (for a batch that fits a 9-by-13-inch pan). Top each Mexican brownie with a scoop of Dulce de Leche ice cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.

I made this with a friend and again using different brownie mixes each time. First time, with regular then the second time with pieces of Chocolate in the mix. The one with the chocolate pieces was by far better. We also served it with a Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

I am thinking, next time I may swirl Caramel Sauce into the brownie mix before baking? We also have considered swirling honey into the brownies before baking as well? Maybe even a Brownie Cheesecake mix? Play with it, enjoy!

(Personal Note: I found cutting the chipotle in half made a lot of people happy and the brownies more pleasant. I had mixed revues on adding the caramel, may try putting in half way thru baking?)

Ham Tettrazini

This is a family favorite, that we all used to beg my Grandma Graden to make for every family dinner! We could definantly count on having it almost every Easter. I think we all at one time or another went and made it with my Grandmother. Others tried to make this dish but it was never the same as when Grandmother made it! I enjoy making it and have shared it with others here in St Louis and it has always been well recieved!

I would suggest to use fresh fresh fresh! If you have any questions on how to prepare this feel free to ask!

Ham Tettrazini

From the Kitchen of Louise Graden

(I think she clipped it from a newspaper, when she first married my Grandpa)

1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup melted butter

1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms sliced

1/3 cup flour

2 cups milk

2 cups Half n Half

2 T. cooking sherry (optional)

1/4 tsp. salt (I use Sea Salt)

dash of garlic salt & pepper

3/4 shredded parmesan cheese

1 (7 oz.) pkg. spaghetti cooked (I use Whole Wheat)

2 cups small thinly sliced cooked ham pieces

Sauté onion in butter until transparent. Add mushrooms and cook until tender. Blend in flour. Stir in milk and half n half slowly, so it doesn't lump. Continue stirring until mixture is smooth and thickened.

Add sherry, salts, and pepper. Mix together 1/2 cup shredded parmesans, spaghetti in bottom of 2 qt. greased shallow baking dish. Cover with alternative layers of sauce and ham ending with sauce. Sprinkle with remaining cheese over top.

Cover and bake in moderate oven (325 degrees) until bubbly around edges for 20-25 minutes.

Makes 6 to 8 servings or more.(When doubling use a 2 lb. box.)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

To Know You More... (letter to my future lover)

This is a poem that I wrote one night several years ago, there was no one in particular in mind. I am not sure that I will ever meet the person I had in mind when I wrote this but I still have faith in my God, who is faithful!


I want to know you more,

To know you and to know your love,

To see if we are perfect,

as the fit of a pair of fine leather gloves....

I want to know, your touch,

I want to know, your gaze,

I want to know, your silent sweet love....

You are my love,

I seek you day and night,

I seek you in the stars,

I seek you in the crowds,

I seek you in the silence,

I seek you in the music,

I seek you in the solitude,

I seek you in the streets,

I seek for you in the far and wide...

When, oh when, shall you be found?

When will I know you...

Oh, how I long to feel your touch,

Just the brush of your wings,as if an angel has just past by...

For I know that you,

you of all things are a heavenly gift,

a gift from God,

An angel,

complete with silken,

pure white wings...

For only an angel sings as you...

Oh to be in the gaze of your crystal clear eyes,

To see and behold the beauty,

To see and behold the glory,

To see and behold the depth,

of God's great love!

When I am in your presence,

I can feel the love,

The love I have,

The love I want to share,

The love I have to give,

I can feel this love arise...

To hear your voice makes my heart weep and jump for joy,

I want to always keep this vision of the pure beauty that is within you and your heart close to me,

Close to me,

as it reveals the beauty,



and mercy of God...

May He be ever praised!!!

Fish Marinade

Simple little marinade I wrote and used last year (2008) when my brother and father returned from a Salmon Fishing trip to the Great Lakes.

Grilled over a medium heat and used wood chips in a packet.

Fish Marinade

1 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 1/2 Cup Chardonay

1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

4 tspn. Old Bay Seasoning

4 tspn. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 tspn. Liquid Smoke (Hickory or Mesquite)

1 Tbl. of Sea Salt

2 tspn. Parsley Flakes

2 tspn. Garlic Powder

1 tspn. Onion Powder

2 tspn. Crushed Red Pepper

Zest of 1 Lime or Lemon (Sqeeze Juice into marinade)

Blend all ingredients and pour over fish until it is covered, let marinade for 30-45 minutes. Preheat grill to 400 degrees F. Place heavy foil on grill surface and on foil that fish will be placed on, spray with or brush with Olive Oil. Using Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper season fish and place Lime or Lemon slices on fish while cooking.

Grill or smoke fish until done, fish will flake with a fork.(About 12-15 minutes)

Enough Marinade for 4-5 6oz. fresh fish portions.

Suggested sides: serve with Wild Rice medley, Steamed Vegetable Medley, Fresh Garden Salad, and Garlic Bread along with a lemon wedge as garnish.