Thursday, January 31, 2008

Banana Split Pie

Hey ladies, where are you? I know, I know, I'm just as bad and haven't added anything to our blog either! You would think with so many of us contributing that we'd be able to add something daily. Ah well, the busy lives we lead.

I came across this old recipe and thought it would be a perfect submission. If you're a sweet lovin' person, this is dynamite in a piecrust.

Banana Split Pie

2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 stick margarine, melted
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 - 5 bananas
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. bottled lemon juice
1 (#2) can crushed pineapple, drained
Cool Whip (12 oz.)
1 c. pecans, chopped
Flaked coconut (frozen or in the bag)
1 qt. strawberries
Sugar to sweeten strawberries

Combine 2 cups graham cracker crumbs, 1 stick melted margarine and 2 tablespoons sugar. Mix and press into bottom of a large 12 x 14 inch casserole. (You can buy a couple of graham cracker piecrusts if you prefer)

Slice bananas onto crust.

Mix quickly condensed milk and lemon juice. Pour over bananas (lemon juice keeps banana from turning brown). Layer crushed pineapple on top of banana / milk mix. Add a layer of Cool Whip - be sure not to use it all. Add a layer of pecans (or other nuts if you prefer). Sprinkle coconut over top to taste. Cover and place in refrigerator.

Just prior to serving clean and hull strawberries. Crush and add sugar to taste. You can also use the frozen already prepared strawberries if you prefer to crust out this step. However, there' s nothing like fresh strawberries! Add to top of pie along with remaining Cool Whip and more nuts if you'd like.

This will keep in the refrigerator for a few days but it's best on the day you make it!

Now, for some variations!

Substitute ice cream for the layer of Cool Whip! Put a layer of ice cream, then the bananas, then the pineapple, and then more ice cream. Add a layer of Hershey's chocolate sauce on top of the ice cream layers and drizzle more on top of the concoction.

Some members of my family have an aversion to nuts so we always leave them off.

This is a recipe you can have FUN with! Get the kids involved in putting on the layers. Take a trip to the grocery store and let them pick out what they'd like on it.

It's definitely not good for the hips, but it is good for the soul. Use fresh fruit and tell yourself you're eating your daily fruit allowance!

For those who DO want to cut back some Cool Whip now makes some sugar free and fat free versions. Also, you can sweeten your fruit with Splenda or your no-calorie sweetener of choice. You can also find pineapple in a can now that is fruit juice sweetened or Splenda sweetened so you have options there, too.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A story to make us appreciate all of our choices!

CC Note: Some years back my ex-husband and I started our married life together in the military (he served - 82nd Airborne as in the story below, I supported). Money was often short and MREs helped to fill in the gaps when it was a choice between groceries and rent. Ah, the good old days of canned foods with whatever I could find to dress it up and make it palatable. Yum. So thankful to be able to run to the grocery store or stop at a local restaurant or drive through! The days of MRE banquets are long gone, but this story brought back memories and helped to make me appreciate today's many culinary options!

Soldier Cooks up Morale in Afghanistan

Soldiers on the front lines are used to meals, ready to eat -- high-energy, high-calorie packaged meals with little emphasis on taste.

Army Spc. Dairo Orozco, of the 82nd Airborne Division's Company F, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, is the cook for paratroopers here, and his skills bring an extra touch to the MREs and unitized group ration meals the soldiers eat.

"A (UGR) is just precooked stuff you put in boiling water for about 45 minutes to an hour, and presto," said Orozco, a 25-year-old Queens, N.Y., native. "You just set it and forget it."

Orozco, called "Roscoe" by the soldiers, arrived at this firebase in the south of Afghanistan's Ghazni province in November.

"I was selected to come out here to do the big Thanksgiving Day meal, because the brigade commander and command sergeant major were coming out," Orozco said. "I never got replaced, so I did the same for Christmas and just stuck around."

Even though it's not hard to please a platoon of paratroopers used to dining on MREs, Orozco has culinary arts in his blood. "My father and uncle are chefs," Orozco explained. "My father is the food production manager at Gate Gourmet, an airline catering company, and my uncle is an executive chef at Intercontinental Hotels."

While Orozco doesn't have the facilities and resources to create gourmet meals, the soldiers at Nawa appreciated his efforts during the holidays.

"Christmas dinner was great," said Army 1st Lt. Mordechai D. Sorkin, 3rd Platoon leader, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. "He's pretty creative; (he) makes do with minimal resources and makes some pretty good stuff."

With a UGR as the canvas for a culinary masterpiece, it's usually difficult for Orozco to constantly rise to the challenge, the Army cook said.

"Pizza-baked spaghetti is the No. 1 product right now, but not by choice," Orozco said. "One of the better UGR meals is the buffalo chicken and lemon chicken, but most of our food stock consists of pizza bake."

Orozco said pizza-bake spaghetti, a meal consisting of meat chunks, noodles and pizza sauce, tops the soldiers' list of worst entrees, but added that he tries to make the meals as enjoyable as possible.

"Roscoe puts a lot more effort into the food than just dropping it in the water, so we're not really eating the same thing every time," said Army Spc. Jeremy A. Clark, 4th Platoon, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. "He's done the best he can with what we have."

Luckily for the paratroopers in Nawa, Orozco has enough knowledge about the local food and spices to make a meal from scratch.

"Probably about once a week he goes out to get local food and cook it up," Clark said. "He's a real good cook, and I think it helps out a lot with the guys' morale."

Orozco said he originally joined the Army for culinary arts, but the service dropped that military occupational speciality and changed everyone in it to food operations specialists.

"The Army hasn't been exactly what I was expecting, but it has made me more mature," Orozco said. "I may not have learned much more about culinary arts than I already knew, but I know I'll make better decisions once I get out because of my training."

(Author: Army Spc. Nathan W. Hutchison serves with 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Flavor of Georgia food contest accepting entries

By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia
Inspired by the coastal low country, Michael Simmons of Savannah, Ga., put concept to plate and created a winning combination of flavors. It was such a good mix that his Low Country Pastry earned Simmons, of Bradley Creek Seafood, the grand prize at the first Flavor of Georgia food competition.

Simmons was one of the 2007 winners. On March 18, the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development and Department of Food Science and Technology will reveal the winners of the second Flavor of Georgia contest. Gov. Sonny Perdue will present awards for the top products in each category and a grand prize for the best overall product at Georgia Ag Day in Atlanta.

Winners earn the right to have their products stamped with the Flavor of Georgia 2008 logo.

Georgia residents can submit entries through Feb. 1 and semifinalists will be announced Feb. 18. Entries for the 2008 contest are already coming into UGA laboratories for testing.

This year, the judges are looking for market-ready foods – whether commercially available or prototypes – from across the state.

Categories this year are barbecue and hot sauces; confections; natural or organic; meat products; wine; snack foods; jams, jellies and sauces; and other. Entries will be judged on flavor, best use of Georgia ingredients, Georgia theme, unique or innovative qualities, commercial appeal and originality.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” Simmons said of last year’s contest. “We put something together that highlighted all-Georgia products.”

Simmons’ strategy worked. CAED marketing analyst Kent Wolfe says the pastry dish stood out because of the Georgia products it included. “The Low Country Pastry was a unique product because it incorporated Wild Georgia shrimp, Georgia’s famous Vidalia onions and locally produced Roger Wood sausage,” Wolfe said.

To register a product, visit and scroll down to Flavor of Georgia. For more information, go to or contact Sharon Kane at (706) 542-2574 or

The annual food contest is sponsored by the University of Georgia, the Governor’s Agricultural Advisory Commission and the Georgia Rural Development Council.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Norwegian Crab Bisque - Great Clam Chowder substitute!

I'm not sure which one of my food-loving fellow contributors left the review of Campbell's Chunky Healthy Request Clam Chowder, but I'm glad you did. I saw it on the shelf and had contemplated trying it. I'll stick to what I know is good thank you very much!

Here's a recipe you might want to try when you're craving clam chowder or fish for that matter. This is a great soup, healthy and fairly low cal. I'm sure you'll be able to make a few modifications to cut back on the calories even further! I substitute clams from the can for the crab for a great tasting clam chowder.

Norwegian Crab Bisque
2 cups water
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium potatoes, diced
2 carrots, sliced*
1 cup frozen peas**
6 - 8 whole allspice
1 tsp. dried dill weed
1/2 tsp. white pepper
2 cans (13 ox. each) evaporated skim milk
1 lb. imitation crab***
1 Tbsp. parsley
Dash of tabasco or other hot pepper sauce
Place water, onions, celery, potatoes, carrots, peas, allspice, dill and white pepper in 4-quart saucepan. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove and discard allspice.
Add mile and simmer (do NOT boil). Gently stir in imitation crab. garnish with parsely and tabasco.
Makes 6 servigns. 229 calories, 0.3 gram fat, 629 mg. sodium, 38 mg cholesterol per serving.

*I use the shredded kind in bags as I don't care for large pieces of carrots
** I usually leave these out as a few in my family don't like peas. I like having veggies in it though so I might put some brocoli on occasion. I tried spinach and loved it, but I was the lonely owner of a whole pot of bique as no one else would try it.
***I prefer not to use the imitation crab as it has a distinctive flavor and it has sugar in it. I have substituted clams, shrimp, and/or boneless fish. You need to simmer long enough to make sure the seafood is cooked if you use fresh, something you don't need to worry about with imitation crab. I usually just use frozen cooked shrimp or canned clams so I don't have to worry. However, the flavor is SO much better with fresh. Sometimes I'll precook the fish in the microwave to save a minute or two. I have also made this with scallops, real crab, shrimp and clams all together, for a great seafood gumbo.

The recipe is from "Light-Hearted Seafood - Tasty, Quick, Healthy" by Janis Harsila, R.D. and Evie Hansen. It's from way back in 1989 and was published by the National Seafood Educators, P.O. Box 60006, Richmond Beach, WA 98160 (206-546-6430 is the phone number listed, but who knows if it's still good). I'd suggest doing an Internet search if you're intersted in trying to find a copy.

It's a great little book if you love seafood like I do!


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Campbell's Chunky Healthy Request New England Clam Chowder... m' m' bad...

I love New England Clam Chowder. Being on a perpetual low-fat, low sodium diet I was very happy to run across Campbell's Chunky Healthy Request New England Chowder. Until I got home and took a bite.

It is 97% fat free and has 45% less sodium, which is a good thing. However, either the can I purchased is getting ready to be on the recall list, or it simply tastes bad.

I tried a bite and grimaced. Knowing Campbell's soups I thought it must be MY taste buds. I sipped some water and tried again. Then I tossed the bowl down the disposal.

I can't begin to describe the taste. It was not good. I drank some soda to get the taste out of my mouth it was that horrible.

I know not to expect a taste that matches the 'real deal' which has so many calories just looking at it adds inches to my hips. But I did think it would be palatable. Especially since I've had other Healthy Request soups and thought they were great.

My suggestion if you're craving New England style clam chowder? Make it yourself and cut whatever corners you can or eat a smaller portion of the regular clam chowder.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Turner Field's 755 Club

Yes, you really couldn't call this a Fayette County restaurant! However, we KNOW how many sports fans there are in the area so we thought we'd toss this in. Looks like a great place to have a business meeting, too.

Take an Eye-Opening Virtual Tour of the 755 Club

The 755 Club at Turner Field, Atlanta’s most unique meeting and event facility, recently debuted a virtual tour showcasing the club’s most spectacular assets and characteristics. The eye-opening virtual tour appears on the 755 Club’s website as a portal to experience all the facility has to offer.

A stunning grand lobby featuring cherry wood and brushed stainless steel welcomes customers to the Club, ushering them into the contemporary, cool atmosphere of the venue. Viewers are able to access the facility’s floor plan and observe the unrivalled views of Turner Field from the 755 Club. The virtual tour displays the numerous venue options available for functions within the 755 Club. Focusing on the club’s special atmosphere, the interactive online tour is the perfect introduction to the 755 Club’s unique ambience. The 755 Club will beckon you to experience the sublime, again and again.

Fernando Saenz, Sales Manager at the 755 Club, states, “The new virtual tour shows customers the elegant d├ęcor of the 755 Club, and demonstrates the breathtaking skyline and stadium views through floor-to-ceiling windows. With the world’s largest high-definition video screen, an onsite, state-of-the-art kitchen staffed with award winning chefs, a wine list to rival any in the city and access to the entire Turner Field Stadium, from Scout’s Alley to the Braves Museum, the 755 Club truly offers the ultimate experience.”

The 755 Club accommodates meeting for 75 to 500 guests and consists of five expansive rooms totaling over 24,000 square-feet. In addition to meeting space, the 755 Club offers event planning for trade shows and corporate events, team building activities, over 70 custom TV monitors, custom menus, wedding/reception planning and reception space for 75 to 3000. The 755 Club delivers the excitement of Turner Field and the storied history of the Braves with service and amenities to rival the finest venues in the city. For more information, visit or Fernando Saenz, Sales Manager, may be reached at 404-614-2413.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Another Vegetable Bread!

While your pumpkin buiscuits sound good I think my yellow squash muffins have them beat! I'm not sure how many vitamins are left after the pumpkin and squash have been baked, but it seems like either would have to be healthier than regular breads doesn't it?

We always called these Murphy's Muffins, why I don't have a clue.

Murphy's Muffins

2 lbs yellow squash
2 eggs
1 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
3 cups flour
1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook the squash in a little water for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain then mash the squash. Beat 2 eggs slightly. Measure 2 cups of squash and combine with the squash. Add the butter and mix. Set aside.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the squash mixture stirring ONLY until moist. Spoon the mixture into greased muffin tins. Bake for approximately 20 minutes.

It should make around 18 muffins depending on the size of your muffin tins.

These muffins are a little more work than your pumpkin biscuits Judy, but they are worth the effort. I tried using frozen squash once but didn't like the results as much as fresh squash. I like to add grated cheese to the mix sometimes.

Judy's Mama's Sweet Potato Biscuits

It's cold outside and so my mind turns toward one of my favorite cold-weather foods, my Mama's Sweet Potato Biscuits. This is a great recipe to keep in mind if you have leftover sweet potatoes.

Mama's Sweet Potato Biscuits

2 cups self-rising flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/3 cup margarine or shortening
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes*
1/3 cup PLUS 2 Tbsp. buttermilk**

Preheat over to 450 degrees. Spray cookie sheet with PAM or grease it the old-fashioned way.

Sprinkle the salt on the mashed sweet potatoes. Sift flour and cut in the shortening or margarine. Add sweet potatoes. Add buttermilk gradually until it's stiff enough to roll out but not too dry! If you add too much milk, make drop biscuits (which is what I always do, lazy me). Roll out on pastry sheet lightly dusted with flour. Cut with lightly floured biscuit cutter and pop them on the cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.

*toss a large sweet potato into the microwave to cook if you're in a hurry. Clean it, then poke it a few times with a fork to break the skin. Wrap it in a damp paper towel and cook it until soft. You can also buy sweet potatoes in a can if you really want to. I don't care for them personally, but when used for cooking they are OK.

**If you don't have buttermilk you can add a little bit of lemon juice or vinegar to the milk and it'll work fine. If you don't have lemon juice or plain vinegar then try substituting plain yogurt or sour cream as either will work fine.

Some variations I've tried include mixing some sausage into the mix (or you can serve them with sausage). I've also added some sugar and made them a morning treat! Another great way to eat these is to cut them open after cooking, slather them with butter, sugar and cinnamon. Sweet potato cinnamon biscuits are the best!


Saturday, January 12, 2008

J. Christopher's when you're in the mood for something different!

If you're looking for a great breakfast or lunch then zip on over to Westpark Walk in Peachtree City and grab a booth or table at J. Christopher's.

Everything from the coffee to omelettes to the soups and sandwiches are a step outside (and above) the norm.

Coffee... European Gourmet, Cafe Mocha, Cappuccino, Espresso...

Lighter fare includes tempting treats like:

Blueberry Scones ($1.79) - These are absolutely yummy! A nice soft triangle of blueberry bread topped with more blueberries. If you love blueberries you'll love this treat. Great for a mid-morning break.

Breakfast Parfait ($4.79) - fat-free yogurt, honey almond granola, strawberries and blueberries with whip cream!

Irish oatmeal, cinnamon rolls, bagels & lox, an assortment of bagels and more. Try the Lo-Carb Platter ($6.89), the South Beach ($6.89), a Sunrise Quesadilla (smoked turkey, bacon bits and Monterrey jack stuffed in a flour tortilla, grilled and then topped with pico de gallo) or the Atkin's Diet Substitute. Still thinking about those blueberries? Try the Berry Crepes!

Lest you think all of the treats are light we'll move onto the The Griddle! Blueberry Crunchcakes (yes, J. Christopher's is a blueberry lover's heaven), Chocolate Chipcakes ($6.79), Maple Toast ($5.79) and Strawberry Toast (maple toast crusted with granola and topped with sweet strawberry compote) are a few of the items I love to watch other's eat while I'm checking out one of the Skillets, Omelettes or Morning Stars! I have to admit that I'm prone to sneaking a bite from my husbands plate while he's not looking.

One of my favorite omelets is the Goddess ($7.59) as I'm always watching my figure. It is an eggwhite omelet with diced tomato, spinach and feta cheese. Another favorite is the Popeye, which comes stuffed with spinach, bacon, krabmeat, mushrooms and cream cheese. I have them hold the bacon.

Omelets are served with roasted potatoes or grits, fruit and an English muffin.

Here's a few other tempting items from the menu: Bleu Bacon Burger, Turkey Dijon BLT, Sante Fe Grille (blackened chicken sandwich all soothed with ranch dressing and avocado), Salmon Salad, Mandarin Chicken Salad and the Patty Melt.

I haven't tried any of their soups yet, but based on the quality of everything else I've tried, they have to be excellent.

The seasonal favorite list makes my mouth water! Fried Green Benedict, Pumpkin Pancakes, Gingerbread Waffle, Chocolate Crepe, Italian Omelette, Caramel French Toast... it is a long, tempting list! I'm going to have to find out when they plan to have the Kahlua Waffle on the day's specials, hips be darned I'm trying that one.

Even the kids (10 & under) can have some fun with their food choices. What child wouldn't want to try Dinosaur Eggs? Just in case they're not up for eggs the menu includes pancakes (chocolate chip or blueberry), french toast, waffles, grilled cheese and chicken fingers. Included in the price ($4,79) are fresh fruit and a beverage.

If you're used to IHOP prices and volume then you might be a tad disappointed in J. Christopher's. I've never heard, or had, anyone complain about a lack of food, but for those who like quantity over quality this might not be on your list of regular stops.

Due to the wide open space the noise levels can get a bit high at times. It's not overwhelming but this isn't meant to be the place you go for a romantic dinner. In fact, they're only open for breakfast, brunch and lunch.

We give J. Christopher's a Fayette High Five!

There are 13 J. Christopher's in the Atlanta area. I'll be looking for other locations as I travel around the city!

J. Christopher's
Breakfast, Brunch & Lunch
264 Commerce Dr.
Westpark Walk
Peachtree City

Open 7 days a week from 7 am to 2 pm.

Monday, January 7, 2008

White Chili

It's hard to think about chili when the temperature has popped up as high as it has today. It feels like it's spring instead of winter but I'm still going to share MY favorite chili recipe.

2 lbs. dried great northern white beans
4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts*
1 1/2 large onions, diced or chopped
1 (27 oz.) can chopped mild green chili peppers
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 gallon chick stock
3/4 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. oregano
1/2 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. onion salt
1/2 Tbsp. seasoning salt
1 (12 oz) can / bottle beer of your choice

Soak the beans in cold water overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all the spices except garlic together. Wash the chicken, cover with half of the spice mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes (just enough to sear the spice mix into the chicken).

Heat the oil in a skillet. Saute the onions until translucent. Add chilies, garlic and remaining spices. Saute one minute.

Drain beans and add to pot along with the chicken stock. Add onions, spice mixture and the beer.

Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for around 2 hours, until the beans are tender.

Dice the chicken and add to the pot. Simmer for at least 20 minutes.

*you can substitute ground turkey or chicken which allows you to skip having to pre-cook the chicken. If you use the ground turkey or chicken, saute it in with the onions and spices.

This is a wonderful dish for cold winter days. I like to serve it with cheese toast. Sometimes I'll even add some rice and vegetables to the "chili" which I suppose turns it into a stew. I've also substituted 1/4 cup of white wine when beer wasn't handy.

Healthy Turkey Chili

Hi gals, sorry it's been a few days since I've contributed to our column. I was off visiting family for the tail end of our Christmas holidays.

I think you'll all like this (except our lone vegetarian in the group):

Judy's Crockpot Turkey Chili

1 lb. ground turkey
1 (15 oz.) can whole tomatoes (do not discard the juice)
1 (15 oz.) can white kidney beans, drained

1 (15 oz.) can red kidney beans

1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce (you can substitute spaghetti sauce if you'd like)
2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (small) can tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 1/2 tsp. basil
red pepper and chili powder to taste

Thoroughly brown the turkey. Drain. Place in your crockpot then add all of the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook for at least 3 hours.

I think you could substitute TVP (textured vegetable protein) for the meat and still have a great vegetarian chili.

High in protein and a bit of healthy red wine tossed in to boot.

I have made it even healthier by adding chopped carrots and mushrooms before.

- Judy

Saturday, January 5, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

I saw a story earlier today about Oklahoma City going on a diet. The mayor wants the city to lose a million pounds as part of its New Year's resolution.

Across the country people are going on diets and attempting to keep resolutions made on new year's day. There are diets for ever lifestyle and every whim.

A few of us who are contributing to the County Cuisine (Fayette Front Page) were talking about the story and we have decided we are going to include some healthy tips on occasion. We are all committed to good eating and good health. You, our readers, are invited to send us your healthy recipes and tips. We will be setting up a special email which will be posted soon (we would do it now, but with all the spammers out there we don't want to use our personal computers so we're considering options).

Here's the story that sparked our healthy conversations:

One of America's 'Fattest' Cities Goes on Diet
OKLAHOMA CITY — With a button-popping spread of cornbread, sausage and gravy, chicken fried steak and pecan pie designated as Oklahoma's official state meal, it's no surprise that Oklahoma City's mayor wants to put the city on a diet. Mick Cornett has challenged the city to shed 1 million pounds as its New Year's resolution.,2933,320187,00.html

Friday, January 4, 2008

Roasted Red Pepper Pistachio Dip,

The dip sounded so good I couldn't resist sharing! A group of friends take turns treating each other at various restaurants. I don't know who's next, but this is going to be my choice for the location when it's our turn! They have locations in Buckhead and Perimeter.

Seasons 52 Restaurant Offers Deliciously Healthful Tips for Creating Hearty Winter Fare
Celebrate Light Seasonal Dishes That are Big on Flavor

Jan. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- This winter, Seasons 52 demonstrates that the season's most savory meals can also be the lightest when they're healthfully prepared. The fresh grill restaurant, known for its lighter approach to seasonal fare, encourages do-it-yourself food enthusiasts to abandon preconceived notions of winter food preparation by offering fresh and flavorful culinary options, available on their website at

"The winter months are often associated with comfort foods, and perhaps a little overindulging during the holidays," notes Seasons 52 Executive Chef Clifford Pleau. However, diners and home cooks can enjoy satisfying, yet easy to prepare dishes, by following Chef Pleau's culinary suggestions.

-- To start your evening on a light, lively note, Pleau recommends Roasted Red Pepper Pistachio Dip. (Recipe below)

Roasted red peppers, lime juice, honey, bread crumbs and pistachios are combined in a food processor. Freshly ground cumin offers an additional dash of flavor. The dip can be served with crudite, fish or poultry.

-- For a novel spin on a comfortable classic, Pleau recommends serving sweet potatoes seasoned with a light vinaigrette in place of butter and brown sugar. Simply roast, then cool and slice potatoes into 1/2 inch discs. Brush with your favorite vinaigrette and broil to add color.

-- For a unique side dish, apply Pleau's simple roasting technique to various fruits, such as pears.

Bosc pears sliced in half and spritzed with olive oil will be glazed with the fruit's natural sugars when roasted in an oven for 30 minutes. Says Pleau, "When roasting fruit, nature provides its own glaze as the sugars concentrate and caramelize; the resulting dish is sweet, nutritious and guilt-free."

No winter meal is complete without the perfect wine pairing. Seasons 52's Master Sommelier George Miliotes understands the art of selecting the ideal vino to maximize your dining experience. -- When serving roast turkey or chicken, Miliotes advises, "really good
Chardonnay never fails ... I recommend a non-oaked varietal, such as a Chablis from France."

-- For a chic wine at a moderate price, Miliotes suggests Spanish white wines made from the Verdejo grape: "Crisp, clean, and palate-cleansing, it pairs well with the diversity of flavors in cocktail party food."

-- Red meat dishes explode with flavor when served with California Cabernets and Merlots from the 2001 vintage, which Miliotes describes as "great wines that are just rounding into their prime."

Roasted Red Pepper Pistachio Dip
1/4 cup pistachios, shelled and toasted (3 oz)
3/4 cup red peppers, roasted*, peeled and chopped (2 oz)
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 ounce lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon chipotle Tabasco
1/2 teaspoon cumin, toasted
1/2 teaspoon salt, Kosher
-- Toast pistachios in 350 degree oven for 5 minutes. Cool to room
-- Pulse pistachios in food processor for 30 seconds to chop nuts.
-- Reserve a tablespoon for garnish.
-- Add all other ingredients to bowl of food processor.
-- Blend in food processor for 1 minute until smooth. Refrigerate for
a few hours.
-- Garnish with reserved chopped pistachios.
-- Serve chilled in small bowl with veggies or chips.
*To roast peppers:
Lightly rub a few red peppers with oil. Broil or grill red peppers to
char the skin. Place in a plastic Ziploc(R) bag or covered container
30 minutes. Remove peels & seeds.

About Seasons 52
Seasons 52 is an award-winning fresh grill restaurant offering a seasonally inspired menu featuring flavorful, lower calorie dishes and an adventurous selection of international wines. Seasons 52 has locations in Orlando, Altamonte Springs, Boca Raton, Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach Gardens and in the Perimeter and Buckhead areas of Atlanta.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Super Subway on South 85 Fayetteville

Some days cooking is impossible. Sitting down at a "nicer" restaurant is likewise out due to time constraints. Choices boil down to tossing something in the microwave, calling out for pizza or Chinese or running through a drive thru restaurant.

Then, there is the take-out option at Subway.

Yesterday I had one of those days where everything took longer than it should and the idea of a microwave dinner didn't appeal in the least.

On the way home I was mentally going through all the options I'd pass on the way. Wendy's, Chic-fil-A, the grocery stores, and the option that grabbed my taste buds, Subway.

I zipped into the Publix shopping center (on Hwy. 85, Fayetteville going south out of town) and managed to get a parking spot right smack in front of Subway. I was meant to be there!

I wasn't the only one who was tempted by their great sandwiches and salads, the line was fairly long. It was cold, not worth going back out to the car so I made the sacrifice. I hate lines.

It went amazingly fast. In no time my sandwiches were made and I was ready to check out. I have to commend the staff, manager, and owner of that Subway. They were courteous, extremely helpful and really, really nice.

I thought my hubbie would like a bowl of their chicken and dumpling soup. Perfect for a cold, cold day. There wasn't enough for a full bowl so the nice folks gave me what was left at no charge. Now I know that's not really a monumental thing in the scheme of things, but what it showed me is that they were nice people. That small thing will have me telling my friends how nice they are and will have me driving past another Subway to patronize that store.

You kind of expect to get the same food from one chain or franchise to the next. Even though the food may be the same, the quality often isn't. Soggy lettuce, watery soup, overcooked burgers and stale sandwiches that have been sitting under the heat lamps for too long are just a few things that set one franchise off from another of the same name.

I always enjoy Subway. They have great choices, you can eat as healthy as you want and you get great value for your hard earned dollars.

The Subway I stopped at last night was a cut above the norm. The people are what made the difference.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Cabbage Roll Up

My mouth was watering as I read the recipe for the Onion Pie. It would be delicious using our very own Vidalia onions! I'm most definitely going to try the Corn and Shrimp Soup, too. I have a recipe for Confetti Soup which has a lot of the same ingredients but no shrimp. I may have to toss some seafood into the Confetti Soup to see what that would taste like. I'll share that recipe later since we already have one corn soup in County Cuisine for now.

Here's another idea for a side item to go with the Onion Pie:

Cabbage Roll Ups

1/4 stick butter (or margarine)
1 cup cooked rice (brown rice works well as does regular white rice)
1 large head cabbage
1 1/2 lb. ground round steak
2 Tbsp. minced fresh onion (I usually increase the amount of onions)
1 can tomato sauce OR 1 can tomatoes
garlic salt to taste

Cut around the core of the cabbage and remove. Put head of cabbage into boiling water. As leaves soften, remove and drain. Add cooked rice to raw meat in separate bowl. Saute onions in the butter. Add onions to meat and rice mixture. Mix well by hand; if the mixture feels too dry, add a little bit of the canned tomatoes or sauce.

Holding a cabbage leaf in hand, put a scoop of the meat mixture into center and fold the leaf around it.

Layer in foil lined baking dish. Cover with any remaining cabbage leaves. Pour tomato sauce or tomatoes over the top. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 275 degrees for approximately 2 hours. You'll need to watch it closely as the cabbage will burn. I usually end up adding more tomato sauce.

As a variation you might want to try some of the excellent canned tomato mixes (Italian, Mexican and others).

Putting a little sausage in the mixture (best to cook it just a bit first, although not completely) adds a nice bite.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

I suggest Corn and Shrimp Soup!

Cindy, I've never tried onion pie but it sounds like something I might have to try. I may cut back some on the butter and try substituting egg beaters for the eggs. I'm always thinking of my cholesterol and calories.

I have a perfect suggestion for a soup that will set the onion pie off to a T. See what you think about this:

Corn and Shrimp Soup

4 - 3 green onions or scallions
1/2 green bell pepper
4 - 6 stalks celery

Chop the vegetables and then saute in butter or margarine. Set aside.

1 cup water
1 (46 oz) can V-8 Juice (hot or regular)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup*

Simmer water, juice and soup in large pot briefly, just long enough to heat and mix. Add sauteed vegetables. Bring to a boil.

When boiling add:

2 (10 oz) pkgs. frozen corn OR 2 cans niblet corn**

1 to 2 lbs fresh, peeled and deveined shrimp

Cook at medium to medium / low for 10 - 15 minutes (or until corn and shrimp are done). Do not overcook shrimp!

Add to taste any of the following (I suggest all):
cayenne pepper (good for your circulation!)
sweet basil

Don't overdo it on the spices. Add a pinch or two of each. Simmer for a minute, then sample.

If you'd like to make a richer version add lump crab meat! You can also add chopped carrots and / or red bell peppers to liven up the colors (and the taste). It makes a beautiful presentation.

*Campbell's makes a low sodium and a Healthy Choice mushroom soup that works great if you're watching your health
**I highly recommend using frozen corn, it has a much better flavor and consistency

- Judy P.

Onion Pie

I enjoyed reading about Pascal's Bistro. I haven't been there in quite some time and had let it slip from my mind. I'm definitely going to have to visit soon as I love the pasta buffet! I was reminded of another restaurant I love while reading the Fayette Front Page. There is an ad for the Village Cafe. I ran over and picked up a couple of gift certificates for Christmas presents. Everyone loved them! I wish I'd had the foresight to save one for myself.

The following recipe was given to me by a gentleman I used to work with. He said it is, and I quote, "best when served with cold beer." I believe I would prefer a nice salad and possibly some homemade tomato or vegetable soup. To each their own!

Art's Onion Pie

1 frozen pie shell
2 lbs. onions, sliced
3 eggs, beaten
1 stick butter
1 cup sour cream
Tabasco sauce to taste
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese to taste

Saute the onion in butter. Combine eggs and sour cream. Add to onion (if you opt to cut back on the butter, this is the perfect time to do so!). Season with Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste. Pour in pie shell. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce heat and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Add grated cheese to top for the last 5 - 10 minutes to melt.

You may want to add some other items including cooked spinach or broccoli, sauteed mushrooms, cheddar cheese, celery, grated carrots, sausage, hamburger or other meats. The variations are many.

You may want to try cooking at 350 degrees for 35 - 40 minutes rather than trying to change the temperature mid-stream. The important thing is to ensure that your eggs are cooked thoroughly.

- Cindy B.