Thursday, June 18, 2009

Quick Cool Cucs

When I had gestational diabetes, "carb" was a bad word, right up there with the words that could get your mouth washed out with soap as a kid. (Side note: Ask our daughter to say "fork" .... it's really funny and makes us laugh knowing it sounds naughty!)

My sister, the recipe guru, told me about this snack. I made it a few times while pregnant, but kind of forgot about it until I visited her last week and she whipped up a batch for a family BBQ. They are super simple and fantastic... not to mention refreshing!

Quick, Cool Cucs


  • 1 English cucumber
  • 2 T water
  • 2 T white vinegar
  • 2 packets Equal


  1. Wash and then slice the cucumber into 1/4" (or so) slices.
  2. Soad the slices in a salt water bath for 20 minutes (give or take).
  3. Drain, but don't rinse, the cucumbers.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the water, vinegar, and Equal together until the Equal dissolves.
  5. Pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumber slices.
  6. Enjoy! (They're best if you let them sit in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before eating, but you don't have to.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Artichoke bruschetta

It never fails that as I'm planning a meal, I neglect to think about snacks and appetizers for our guests to nibble on as the final touches are put on our meal. Dessert is covered from the get-go. In fact, I usually have dessert figured out before the main meal! Focusing on the dessert and entree typically leave me scrambling at the last minute for a good appetizer. Here's my solution and I hope it quickly becomes yours!

Artichoke Bruschetta
1 bag pre-sliced baguette (or slice a whole baguette into 1-inch slices)
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts - drained and diced (I use kitchen sheers and cut them right in the jar
5 T red onion - finely chopped
3 T mayonnaise
1/3 c. parmesan cheese - grated
1/8 c. mozzarella cheese - grated
Fresh ground black pepper (to taste)

  1. Place bread in a single layer on a jelly roll pan.
  2. Lightly drizzle bread with olive oil.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium-size bowl and stir until well combined.
  4. Place a heaping spoonful of artichoke mixture on each piece of bread - slightly smooshing it with the back of the spoon to evenly distribute the topping.
  5. Place under broiler until the cheese melts and begins to brown.
  6. Serve warm.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Grilled Tomatoes

When I was a little kid, my family spend a 3 year stint in California. I was very young at that time and have very few memories of our time there. One very distinct memory I do have, though, is the smell of wet tomatoes. I recall seeing my father standing in the garden we had in the back yard; he was watering the tomatoes with the garden hose. To this day, when I smell fresh tomatoes, I am transported back to our Cupertino house's yard.

We had a mini dinner party at our house a week ago. It was hot and I didn't want to heat up the house by using the oven. So, we grilled some fresh Copper River salmon (to die for!) and some grilled tomatoes. There's no sciene to the amounts used in the grilled tomato recipe; it's a pinch here and "to taste" there. You can't go wrong ... except if you don't make enough!

Simply Wonderful Grilled Tomatoes
  • Beefsteak or large roma tomatoes (1 beefsteak per 2 people, 1 roma per person)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper (fresh ground is best)
  • Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • Fresh basil, torn into small pieces


  1. Wash the tomatoes and then slice them horizontally.
  2. Remove the stems
  3. Arrange tomatoes (cut side up) on cookie sheet or plate
  4. Season with salt and pepper (to taste)
  5. Generously coat BBQ grill with olive oil and preheat grill (about 400 degrees).
  6. Place tomatoes (cut side down) on hot grill and close BBQ's lid.
  7. Flip tomatoes over after 3 minutes.
  8. Top with a pinch of basil leaves and then sprinkle with a couple pinches of parmesan cheese.
  9. Close BBQ lid and allow cheese to melt (2-3 minutes)
  10. Remove tomatoes from grill and serve.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

World's Easist Chicken Pot Pies

When I was a kid, my parents let us have Swansons pot pies (I liked the chicken ones the best) on the nights they went out. I recall them going to a lot of bridge parties when I was little. (Will bridge exist in another generation?) The best part of the pot pies was the little disposable pan that they came in. I was intrigued by those little pans and always wanted to save them long after my food was gone. Last year, my father's health declined to the point that he wasn't really able to cook for himself. So, I made a variety of entrees in single serving portions that he could simply pull out of the freezer and put into his oven.... no fuss, no muss. While preparing his menus, I decided chicken pot pies would be a good meal option - protein, carbs, and veggies all in one dish. The best part about the pot pies was I found the mini disposable pie dishes that the Swansons pot pies came in that I remembered so fondly.

When you are part of a family, some dynamics never change. For example, my family is always loud; we perpetually interrupt each other; we laugh a lot. As time passes, other dynamics have changed. Now the "kids" are the ones checking up on the parents; we check that they're getting the right care, get home safely, and have the proper food to eat. Evolution exists .... our roles change was we progress through life. Currently, my generation is responsible for our parents and our children. That's a lot of responsibility, but in the big scheme of things, that is how it should be. We're cared for, take care of others, and eventually circle back to being cared for.

The following recipe is quite a step up from the Swansons pies in terms of flavor, but just about as simple!

World's Easiest Chicken Pot Pies

  • 2 frozen or refrigerated pie crusts (frozen are easier because they are in the pan ready to go)
  • 1-2 packages pre-cooked chicken strips (usually in the refrigerator section with cheeses)
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (no need to defrost, use them frozen)
  • 1 can cream of X (mushroom or chicken work best) soup
  • 1 soup can of milk
  • Salt and pepper, to taste (I use about 1 teaspoon of salt and 3/4 teaspoon of pepper)
  • Poultry seasoning, to taste (I use about 1/2 teaspoon-ish)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. If using frozen pie crust, allow to thaw. If using refrigerated pie crust, place lower crust in a 9-inch pie pan and set aside.
  3. Cut the pre-cooked chicken (quantity depends upon how "chickeny" you like your pot pies) into bite-size pieces.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, vegetables (again, amount depends upon how "vegetabley" you want your pot pie and how big your pie pan is), soup, milk, and seasonings. Stir well until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  5. Pour chicken/vegetable mixture into the lower pie crust. Top with second pie crust and firmly pinch the two crusts at the edge to create a seal.
  6. Cut a few vents (3-5) in the middle of the top crust for steam to escape.
  7. Bake for 30-45 minutes. If the crust begins to brown too much, lightly cover with aluminum foil until the pie's filling is hot.