Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

© Can Stock Photo / NorGal

Chocolate may have been rationed in Rosie’s day, but fortunately for us, those days are long gone. There really is no such thing as too much chocolate, at least not when you’re a chocolate lover like me. During the holidays what better way to celebrate than to add a few touches to a classic recipe and go for the chocolate. This recipe is my own creation, inspired by the classic Nestle Toll House recipe.

Gayle Martin

CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

• 2 sticks butter or margarine, softened
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 3/4 cup brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup cocoa
• 2 tablespoons coffee (if desired)
• 2 1/4 cups flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 large (12 oz) package of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Place flour, baking soda and salt on a piece of wax paper and set aside. Cream butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl. Blend in eggs, mixing thoroughly. Add cocoa and coffee, if desired, and mix thoroughly. Blend in dry ingredients, a little at a time, until moistened. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoon full onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for approximately 10 to 12 minutes.

Note: If the batter should become too dry and crumbly after adding flour simply add small increments of coffee or water, (one tablespoon or smaller), until moistened.

For a little more zing, use pumpkin spice flavored chips, if available, or add a teaspoon of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.

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Turkey and Stuffing Casserole

© Can Stock Photo / MSPhotographics

Post-holiday leftovers are great, and, just like in Rosie’s time, we don’t want them going to waste. However, they can also take up a lot of space in your refrigerator, so here’s a delicious recipe to combine your holiday leftovers into a single casserole dish, saving space in the fridge.

Gayle Martin

 

TURKEY AND STUFFING CASSEROLE

• Vegetable Cooking Spray

• 1 can cream of mushroom soup

• 1 1/2 cups milk, chicken broth or water

• 1 package frozen broccoli, cauliflower and carrot combination, thawed, (or other leftover vegetables)

• 2 cups cubed leftover turkey

• 3 to 4 cups leftover stuffing

• 1/4 cup leftover cranberry sauce (optional)

• 2 tablespoons butter, melted

• 1/4 cup breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400F and spray nonstick cooking spray into a 12 x 8 x 2 inch baking dish. Set aside.

Stir soup and liquid in a large mixing bowl until well blended. Add vegetables, turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce, if desired, and mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into baking dish. Melt butter in the microwave and add the breadcrumbs, stirring until they are moistened. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top of the turkey mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes or until sauce is bubbling.

Note: If you’re short on stuffing slice bread into small cubes and add to stuffing. If you prefer a creamier casserole, add more broth or milk.

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Traditional Cranberry Sauce

© Can Stock Photo / margo555

I’m told the least popular Thanksgiving side dish is the dreaded cranberry sauce. And I have to admit, that jelly looking cranberry colored blob that comes out of the can, shaped like the can, is nasty. So who wants to eat that?? Yuck.

There is, however, a tasty alternative–making your cranberry sauce from scratch. It’s surprisingly easy to prepare, and you can make your cranberry sauce a day or two ahead of time. Best of all, it freezes well, so you can serve the leftover sauce at Christmas.

Believe me, once you’ve tried fresh, you’ll never go back to canned.

Gayle Martin

TRADITIONAL CRANBERRY SAUCE

• 3 cups fresh cranberries

• 1 cup sugar

• 1 cup water

Place cranberries in a colander or strainer and wash thoroughly, removing any damaged berries. Set aside.

Pour water into a 2 quart saucepan and place over medium high heat. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Bring to a boil and add cranberries. Reduce heat to medium, stirring occasionally until cranberry skins begin to pop. Keep stirring for several minutes. If a smoother sauce is desired, keep stirring until most of the skins have popped. Remove from heat and set aside. Sauce will thicken as it cools. Refrigerate sauce once it reaches room temperature.

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My Grandmother’s Green Beans

I think every family has their favorite recipes which have been passed down generation to generation. One of our  favorites was  Grandma’s green beans. She served them at family get-togethers for years, as did my mother. I’ve played with the recipe a little over the years, but not too much. It’s an oldie but a goody, and there are probably a lot of other grandmothers out there who made this dish as well. Here is my interpretation. Please consider this recipe a guide as I never make it the quite the same way twice. (I don’t think Grandma ever did either.)

Gayle Martin

GRANDMA’S HOMEMADE GREEN BEANS

• 1 to 1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans

• 3 or 4 red potatoes

• 3 or 4 slices of bacon

• 1/2 cup chicken broth

• water

Wash green beans, snap off ends, snap into bite-sized pieces and drop into a large mixing bowl. Scrub and dice the potatoes and add them to the beans. Cut bacon slices into small pieces and brown in a small stockpot. Once bacon is browned dump in the green beans and potatoes. Add chicken broth, stir, and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer for approximately 30 to 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and cooked all the way through. Stir occasionally, and, if necessary, add small amounts of water or chicken broth to prevent the beans from scorching. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve as a side dish with pork roast, pork chops or fried chicken.

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A Super Simple Thanksgiving Side Dish

I love cooking a full-course Thanksgiving dinner, even though it’s a lot of work. So much food to prepare in so little time. I have, however, figured out one quick little shortcut that helps save time, and confusion, in the kitchen.

I first discovered baked sweet potatoes at a buffet restaurant. The friend I was dining with pointed them out to me and raved about how delicious they were. While not a huge sweet potato fan myself, I noticed what an easy side dish it would be to prepare. Simply take a sweet potato, or a yam, quarter it, wrap it in foil, and bake it like a regular potato.

I tried it myself a couple of Thanksgivings ago, and it was a big hit. Much less prep time and less hassle than candied yams, with no added sugars or preservatives, no casserole dish to wash, and fewer calories to boot. Best of all, my guests loved them.

Gayle Martin

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The Cure for Mashed Potato Phobia

© Can Stock Photo / olenayemchuk

I’ll bet if I were to take a poll and ask Americans what is their favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal, the answer would mostly likely be mashed potatoes.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the turkey and stuffing too, but Thanksgiving just isn’t Thanksgiving without the mashed potatoes. Amazingly enough, there are people out there who don’t serve mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving because they’re “unhealthy” or “too fattening.” Sorry, but that’s just wrong in so many ways! I’m also thankful I’m not having my Thanksgiving dinner of their houses. If I found out my host or hostess wasn’t serving mashed potatoes I’d bring my own.

No one needs to be “phobic” about mashed potatoes. Especially on a special day like Thanksgiving. There are some really simple ways to make them more “healthy,” so you don’t have to deprive other people of their favorite part of the meal. So, here are my suggestions for dealing with Mashed Potato Phobia.

Keep the skin on the potato

Remember when we were kids and our parents told us that the skin was the best part of the potato? Well, they were right. Potato skins are high in vitamins and a good source of fiber. The skin also has the most flavor. So I leave some of the skin on when I peel my potatoes. Along with being healthier, it adds a wonderful flavor and texture to the finished mashed potatoes.

Use skim milk, 2% milk, chicken stock, or a combination thereof.

Chicken stock, along with the skins, adds even more flavor while cutting back on fat and calories. I would, however, recommend using at least little bit of milk along with it just to add creaminess and thickness.

Skip the margarine.

I think we all know by now that margarine is a trans fat, and trans fats are extremely unhealthy. I no longer allow margarine in my home. In fact, I consider trans fats to be poison. Nowadays I only use real butter. However, if you’re worried about cutting fat and calories, you can also skip the butter and use the chickenstock.

See? How simple was that? With just a few easy steps everyone can enjoy healthier, and more flavorful, mashed potatoes.

Gayle Martin

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Quick Impromptu Spaghetti and Meatballs

© Can Stock Photo / pstudio66

I usually make my spaghetti sauce from scratch, but every once in awhile I’ll get a hankering for spaghetti and meatballs and I simply don’t have the time to prepare my signature sauce. That’s when I have to get creative, and I’ve came up with a tasty alternative. It takes about thirty minutes to prepare, and it’s delicious.

Gayle Martin

QUICK IMPROMPTU SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS

  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1  pound extra lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 (14 1/2 oz) cans Italian style diced tomatoes*
  • 2 small (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • splash of red wine
  • one small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced**
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pasta

Blend bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, black pepper, egg and ground beef together in a large mixing bowl and knead until well blended. Break off small pieces of meat mixture and roll into 1-inch diameter meatballs. Place meatballs on a plate. Pour olive oil in a large, deep skillet or saute pan. Turn stove on medium and heat the oil for about two minutes. Add meatballs, onions and garlic and stir frequently but very gently until meatballs are browned on all sides.

Add canned tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper to taste, and a splash of red wine. Blend well, being careful not to break the meatballs. Once sauce starts to bubble reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If sauce is too thick add a little more wine or a small amount of water.) While sauce is simmering prepare your favorite pasta according to package directions. Yields approximately 24 meatballs.

*If using plain canned tomatoes add two teaspoons Italian seasoning to sauce.

**1 teaspoon of garlic powder may be substituted for fresh garlic.

 

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