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This is a great dish when you’re feeding a crowd. It should be prepared the night before, but I’ve done it just a few hours ahead and it’s still delicious. I also have a similar recipe which uses green olives and no tomatoes. Some day I’ll make and post that one.

Mediterranean Chicken Mancini

Mediterranean Chicken Mancini

2 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into serving size portions (apx. 8 pieces from each breast)

1 cup chopped red onion

4-6 plum tomatoes, chopped or 2 14oz. cans

1 cup pitted prunes

8 cloves garlic, chopped

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 Tbsp. oregano

6 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. capers, drained

1 tsp. paprika

4 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

Mix all ingredients together in a 13 x 9″ baking dish. Marinate overnight. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1-1/2 hours. Serves 6-8.

Mix everything together in a 9 x 13″ baking dish. I usually add the chicken last. And this day I didn’t have red onion, only yellow. Still tastes good.

Add the chicken pieces. Marinate overnight. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for an hour and a half.

Mediterranean Chicken Mancini served with Lemon Artichoke Orzo and Eggplant au Gratin.

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This is a simple, yet hearty meal we affectionately call Brunch for Lunch. I used to make this after church on Sundays and sometimes before school on weekdays. It is easy to add more ingredients or change the ingredients to what you have on hand.

Brunch for Lunch

Brunch for Lunch

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

2# bag of frozen Southern style hash browns (cubed potatoes)

1# bulk breakfast sausage (or use bacon or ham or chopped links or whatever meat you want or no meat at all)

Optional: sliced onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and/or chopped tomatoes.

6 eggs, beaten

1-1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (or Parmesan or whatever kind of cheese you have)

You will need two skillets (1 very large apx 14″ and 1 medium apx 12″). In the biggest skillet, melt butter over high heat. Add frozen hash browns and let fry on high heat until browned. Meanwhile in smaller skillet, fry breakfast sausage until cooked through. Turn the hashbrowns when brown and add sausage to the top of the hashbrowns. Don’t turn again until bottom is browned. Meanwhile, saute the optional ingredients over medium heat in the smaller skillet until they are cooked. Add to the top of the sausage in the hashbrown skillet. Scramble the eggs in the smaller skillet until cooked through. By this time the hashbrowns should be browned and you should start turning them so they cook through and are browned a little. Stir in the meat and veges. Add the eggs and stir in. Once the potatoes are all cooked, sprinkle cheese over the top. Turn the skillet to low. Turn the medium skillet upside down on the large skillet to make the cheese melt faster on the top. Once the cheese is mostly melted, remove the medium skillet and serve. Serves 6-8.

Melt butter in very large skillet.
Fry bulk sausage in medium skillet.
Fry frozen hash browns in large skillet.
When the sausage is cooked . . .
add it to the top of the hashbrown skillet.
Make scrambled eggs in the medium skillet. It picks up bits of the sausage or veges previously cooked in it. (Just cook beaten eggs over low heat, nothing more. It’s simple.)
Stir sausage into hashbrowns in skillet.
Add eggs to the hashbrown skillet.
Sprinkle cheese over top.
Flip the smaller skillet upside down to act as a dome over the larger skillet so the cheese melts.
Finished.

Final word: yes, the cretins here put ketchup on it. I use Tabasco.

Oat Pancakes

My kids are home from college and they’ve brought friends with them. The friends are from Sweden. We talked about the use of airplanes instead of cars in Alaska and I pulled out the Alaska maps so they could get oriented. I pointed out Nome where I was born and Naknek where I graduated high school. One girl asked if all the food was flown to Nome. They use barges for the most part, I said. When I was a young child, my mother placed her food order for the year and she got very excited when the ice moved out so the barge could come in. At this point of the conversation with the Swedes my youngest daughter started laughing. My pantry could probably feed a family for several months. I’m not a survivalist or preparing for the apocalypse, it’s just the “waiting for the barge” mentality. I have never been able to shake the food stockpile habit. My daughter laughed because her friends would come over to bake cookies or what not and they would decide to double or triple the recipe and her friends would say, “We’ll have to go to the store if we do that.” And my daughter would reply, “No, it’s no problem. Look,” and off to the pantry room they would go, to look at pounds of chocolate chips and boxes of graham crackers and cases of sweetened condensed milk. It’s not normal in this city. You can take the girl out of the Bush, but you can’t take the Bush out of the girl. That’s what I always say.

So, I am cooking for a crowd of about ten people now. This morning I made Oat Pancakes. Please note that this must be started the night before, so planning is involved.

The night before, combine 2 cups rolled oats and 2 cups buttermilk. Cover and let stand in refrigerator overnight.

In a medium bowl stir together 1/2 cup flour, 2 Tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/3 tsp. salt. I do this part the night before as well. That way when I wake up there are only a few steps remaining.

The next morning beat 2 eggs and melt 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter. Stir into oat mixture just until blended.

Stir in dry ingredients, just until moistened. If the batter seems too thick, add a tablespoon or two of buttermilk to thin it out.

Lightly grease griddle. I spray mine with canola oil. Spoon batter, about 1/3 cup for each pancake, onto griddle, and spread out to make circles about 4 inches in diameter.

These pancakes cannot be hurried. There is a tendency to not cook in the middle if you try to use high heat and hurry things along. No more than medium heat should be used. It does take time. When they begin to look dry around the edges and bubbles form throughout, then flip them over.

Oat Pancakes

2 cups rolled oats

2 cups buttermilk

2 eggs

4 Tbsp. melted butter

1/2 cup flour

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

In a large bowl, combine oats and buttermilk. Cover and let stand in refrigerator overnight.

The next day, beat eggs and add to oat mixture, along with butter. Stir together just until blended. In a medium bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; add to oat mixture and stir just until moistened. If batter seems too thick, add more buttermilk (up to 3 Tablespoons).

Preheat a griddle or wide frying pan over medium heat; grease lightly. Spoon batter, about 1/3 cup for each pancake, onto griddle, and spread out to make circles about 4 inches in diameter. Cook until tops are bubbly and appear dry; turn and cook until other sides are browned. Makes about 1-1/2 dozen pancakes.

My friend Jan really likes these lemon bars and asked me to post the recipe here. I make these frequently.

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

Crust:

2 cups flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) cold butter

In a large bowl use a pastry cutter to mix the flour and powdered sugar and then cut in the butter until it is pea-sized. Distribute evenly across a greased 13 x 9″ baking dish and press down. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Topping:

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

1/3 cup lemon juice

2 tsp. lemon zest

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 cup flour

While the crust bakes, prepare the topping by whisking together the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and zest. Whisk in the baking powder and 1/2 cup flour. Pour over hot crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool and then cut into bars. Consume.

Mix together flour and powdered sugar. Cut in cold butter. Yes, must be butter and must be cold.

Distribute evenly across a greased 13 x 9″ baking dish and press down. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

Whisk in baking powder and flour.

Whisk together until it is all fully incorporated. It will get foamy on top as it sits while you wait for the crust to finish baking. I believe this is the baking powder reacting with the lemon juice.

Pull the crust out of the oven. The indentations where the butter melted is normal.

Stir down the egg mixture and pour it over the crust. Scrape the bowl. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees, until light golden brown.

Remove from oven and let cool. A sprinkling of powdered sugar over the top would make it look nice. You’d have to wait until it cooled thoroughly, though. I’ve never had these last long enough to cool off. They’re just that good.

This recipe is not posted on FoodNetwork.com, but it’s from Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives show which can be seen on the Food Network. You can watch the Youtube video if you search for “The Fly Trap in Michigan and Guy Fieri.”

All quantities are eyeballed . . .

Salmon Burgers

In a food processor put:

About 1.5# raw salmon, bones removed, cut into 1” cubes

2 Tbsp. black sesame seeds

¼ cup chopped green onion

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. sambala (it’s a spicy Asian condiment—use your own judgement—easy to find, very common)

Form into patties and fry in a little olive oil until done.

Serve on toasted (and perhaps buttered) buns with Aioli Sauce (ingredients follow) and sliced cucumber, sprouts, tomato, cabbage, whatever.

 Aioli Sauce: Mayo, lime juice, garlic powder, Dijon mustard. Mix together.

Put salmon chunks with into food processor.

Add green onions, soy sauce, black sesame seeds, sambala. Whir until well mixed.

Form into patties. If you occasionally wet your hands, the fish won’t stick to them as much.

Fry in a little olive oil.

Serve on a buttered, toasted bun with Aioli Sauce and favorite veges (cabbage, lettuce, tomato, cucumber). My favorite is English cucumber slices and tomato.

This recipe is based upon a stuffed manicotti recipe in Sunset Magazine’s December 1991 issue. I’ve made the stuffed manicotti many times, but it’s time consuming. I was looking for something more simple using the feta I love. This lasagna turned out surprisingly well. It’s a hit! Take note that I eyeballed every bit of this, I didn’t  measure anything. Feel free to do the same. One thing that I tried to keep in mind was that I didn’t want runny lasagna, so I was careful about the amount of liquid used. Another thing to keep in mind is that the spinach cooks down so the dish is a little more compact than the thick slices of hearty lasagna I usually make.

Spinach Feta Lasagna, Eggplant au Gratin, and garlic bread.

Spinach Feta Lasagna

1/2 lb. dried lasagna noodles

24 oz. tomato pasta sauce

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large onion

1 bell pepper

3/4 cup (about 5 oz.) feta cheese, crumbled

1 cup (1/2 lb.) ricotta cheese

1/3 lb. chopped fresh spinach leaves

Ground pepper

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Cook eleven lasagna noodles (about 1/2 lb.) according to the package directions for al dente. Do NOT overcook. Drain. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 24 oz. tomato pasta sauce. Simmer for awhile so it’s somewhat thick. Use a spatter guard.

Meanwhile, saute onion and bell pepper together in olive oil until soft. Let cool.

In a large bowl, stir together feta, ricotta, spinach, pepper, and onion-bell pepper mixture. You may need to use your hands as it will be quite dry. Do not squeeze, just stir together.

In a greased 9 x 13″ pan, place 5 lasagna noodles across the bottom. Distribute all  the cheese, spinach, onion mixture across the lasagna noodles. Place a layer of six noodles across the cheese mixture. You may press down a little now. Spoon pasta sauce evenly across the top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Yummy goodness!

Cook the lasagna noodles, saute the onions with bell pepper (I used yellow bell peppers), simmer the pasta sauce using a spatter guard, and chop the raw spinach leaves.

Mix feta, ricotta, and spinach.

Place a row of lasagna noodles across the bottom of a greased 13 x 9″ baking dish.

Distribute the feta, ricotta, spinach mixture across the lasagna. Place another layer of lasagna.

Spoon pasta sauce evenly across the top.

Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over all and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Spinach Feta Lasagna

Granola

At my house granola has been a work in progress. The whole family really likes granola. It’s easy to make. The availability of parchment paper has made it easier still. Most of the ingredients I purchase in bulk at the natural foods section of the grocery store. I’ve spent the last couple years experimenting with various recipes. I used one recipe consistently that called for honey and had little oil. It seemed more healthy. Then last summer my friend Kate gave me a recipe that was like candy and I was cured of trying to be healthy. The granola was a little unwieldy because it stuck together in a glob. This did not detract from the taste whatsoever and no one cares how much trouble it is if they’re not the ones making it. The real problem with granola is that my family members eat it so quickly that I have to make it a couple times a week and it becomes a chore. And that’s using double batches. Sigh.

I’ve found a new recipe to try. It’s based on Best Ever Granola at Alexandra’s Kitchen. She makes candied nuts and adds them, with dried fruit, to the granola at the end. Oh, my. Two of my kids are coming home from college soon. They are bringing several visitors from Sweden. I need to stock up on food, like granola, so here goes. I’m going to give you the doubled recipe. I just don’t know how normal people can make four cups of granola and call it good. Go big or go home.

First, make the candied nuts.

Candied Nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two rimmed baking sheets by covering with parchment paper. Don’t trim the paper too close, make sure to leave enough along the edges to grasp with your fingers.

Prepare the pans with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan stir together 2/3 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cinnamon. Bring to a boil.

Make a syrup.

Stir in 3 cups raw whole cashews and 3 cups raw whole almonds. Let simmer one minute.

Stir in nuts.

Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and distribute across the prepared pans.

Resist the temptation to pour the leftover syrup onto the pans because it will burn. (I was really, really tempted. Note to self here . . . next time, after pulling out the nuts, sprinkle a little cayenne into the leftover syrup and dredge pecans through it, then bake the pecans, and use for a different purpose, like spinach salad. I think it would work and would taste amazing. I digress.)

Spread nuts on paper and place into 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and stir around. You’ll need to hold the parchment paper between your fingers so that it doesn’t slide off the pan onto the floor while you’re stirring. The pan is hot, of course, but the paper you should be able to grip. Put the pans back in the oven for another five minutes or so. Keep a good eye on it and remove when the nuts turn golden.

Bake until golden.

Let them cool on the pans for a little while, then transfer to a bowl. Do not throw away the paper, set it back on the pans.

Granola

In a sauce pan stir together 1 cup oil (I used canola), 1-1/3 cups honey, 2 tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp. salt. Warm the mixture.

Heat the liquid ingredients.

Meanwhile, in a very, very large bowl (mine is a 32-cup Tupperware) mix together 8 cups rolled oats, 14 oz. (4 cups) shredded coconut, and 4 cups sliced raw almonds.

Mix together dry ingredients.

Stir in the warmed oil and honey mixture until it is mixed through. Distribute evenly across the two parchment-prepared pans.

Spread granola across two prepared pans.

Place in the oven to bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and stir. You’re trying to move the more browned parts away from the edges and under. Place back in oven for 5 minutes. Remove and stir. Back into the oven again. Keep repeating the process, reducing the amount of time in the oven until it has turned golden. Watch it carefully, a minute or two in the oven toward the end. Let cool. Another note: try to work quickly or you’ll find that you’ve eaten all the candied nuts by the time you’re finished toasting the granola.

Voila! Toasted granola and candied nuts.

Once cool, break up the granola a little and mix with the candied nuts. Add a couple cups of dried fruit, like cherries or cranberries. Tastes great with yogurt or milk or ice cream.

Granola

What kind?