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Tortellini and Sausage Soup

from Betty Crocker's Shortcut Cooking for the Smart Cook (copyright 1988)

1 lb bulk Italian sausage
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
2 carrots, sliced
1 medium zucchini and/or yellow summer squash, halved and sliced
2 cans (10 3/4 ounces each) condensed tomato soup
8 ounces uncooked dried or frozen cheese- or meat-filled tortellini (2 cups)
Grated Parmesan cheese

Cook and stir sausage and onion in 4-quart dutch oven until sausage is light brown; drain. Stir in remaining ingredients except cheese.

Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer until vegetables and tortellini are tender. about 20 minutes. Serve with cheese.

Variation: use 1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans, drained, instead of tortellini.

Banana Bread with crumb topping

Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook w/variation by me


1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 very ripe bananas (mashed)
1/3 cup shortening, margarine, or butter
(I use butter flavor Crisco)
2 tablespoons milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar

For bread batter:
In a large mixing bowl combine 1 cup of the flour, the granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add mashed banana, shortening, and milk. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until blended, then on high speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs and 3/4 cup flour, beat until blended. Stir in nuts if desired.

For crumb topping:
On a plate or in a shallow bowl, combine 2 tablespoons each of flour, brown sugar and butter. Cut the butter into the brown sugar and flour using a fork until it is crumbly.

Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and top with the crumb topping. Bake at 350 F for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on wire rack. Remove from the pan. Cool thoroughly on a wire rack.

Slice and enjoy with a tall glass of milk!

Chocolate Fondue

By Tyler Florence

16 ounces chocolate (milk, dark or semisweet), broken in pieces
1/2 pint whipping cream
1/2 cup caramel topping
3 tablespoons Torani hazelnut syrup or favorite liqueur

Place all ingredients in a ceramic fondue pot over low heat. Stir constantly until the mixture is melted and smooth. Do not allow to bubble.

Arrange an assortment of bite-sized dipping foods on a lazy Susan around fondue pot. Some suggestions are strawberries, bananas, apples, grapes, cherries, pound cake, marshmallows, raisins and shelled nuts. Spear with fondue forks or wooden skewers, dip, swirl and enjoy!

Four Cheese Risotto

From Williams-Sonoma's Risotto cookbook (page 18)

7-8 cups (56-64 fl oz) chicken stock
1/4 cup (2 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz) finely chopped yellow onion
3 cups (21 oz) Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 cup (8 fl oz) dry white wine, at room temperature
1/2 cup (3 oz) mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup (1 1/2 oz) crumbled dolcelatte Gorgonzola cheese
1/4 cup (1 oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (1 oz) grated Asiago cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the stock to a gentle simmer and maintain over low heat.

In a large heavy saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and stir until each grain is well coated with oil and translucent with a white dot in the center, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and stir until it is completely absorbed.

Add the simmering stock a ladleful at a time, stirring frequently after each addition. Wait until the stock is almost completely absorbed (but the rice is never dry on top) before adding the next ladleful. Reserve 1/4 cup (2 fl oz) stock to add at the end.

When the rice is tender to the bite but slightly firm in the center and looks creamy (after about 20 minutes) remove from the heat and stir in the reserved 1/4 cup stock and the cheeses. season to taste with salt and pepper, sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

King Ranch Chicken

(from Cooks Country magazine)

12 (6 inch) corn tortillas
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 med onions, chopped fine
1 - 2 jalapenos, minced (to taste)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 (10 ounce) cans Ro-Tel tomatoes
5 tblsp all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 lbs chicken
2 tblsp minced fresh cilantro
4 cups shredded Cojack cheese
Salt and pepper
2-1/4 cups Fritos crushed


Heat oven to 450. Spray tortillas on both sides with cooking spray and place on cookie sheet. Crisp in oven (about 12 minutes) and break into pieces.

Heat butter in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook onions, chiles, and cumin until lightly browned (about 8 minutes). Add tomatoes and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 10 min). Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add cream and broth, bring to simmer, and cook until thickened (2-3 minutes). Stir in chicken and cook until no longer pink (about 4 minutes). Off heat, add cilantro and cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper.

Spray 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray and scatter half of tortilla pieces inside. Cover with half of the filling, rest of tortilla pieces, and then rest of filling.

Bake until filling is bubbling (about 15 minutes). Sprinkle crushed Fritos evenly over top and bake until Fritos are lightly browned (about 10 minutes). Cool and serve.

I love to serve this with a caesar salad using a southwestern caesar dressing.

Rack of Lamb with Sun-Dried Cherry Sauce

The sun-dried cherries mirror the flavor of red wine, especially Cabernet Sauvignon, which this dish showcases.

The Sauce can be made several hours in advance and you can put the racks of lamb in to marinate in the morning before cooking them that evening. This recipe should serve 8 - 10 people.

A side note: I often serve this with just a little bit of a chocolate sauce as well. It goes so incredibly with all the rich and fruity flavors in the sauce. I don't make anything special, but if I happen to be making chocolate fondue that night as well, then I just use that.

4 8-bone racks of lamb (1-1/2 pounds each)

2/3 Cup olive oil
1/2 Cup Chardonnay
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. each chopped fresh rosemary and thyme
1 tsp. salt2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together the marinade ingredients. Marinate 6 hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place lamb racks on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes for rare to medium rare.

Sun-Dried Cherry Sauce:

1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 Cup chopped shallots
3/4 Cup minced Shiitake mushrooms
8 Cups rich chicken stock
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/3 Cup port
1/2 Cup fresh orange juice
l tsp. grated orange zest
1 1/2 Cups Cabernet Sauvignon
1/2 Cup Sun Dried CherriesSalt and Pepper

In a saucepan, sauté the shallots and mushrooms in the olive oil until lightly browned. Add the stock, orange zest and wine. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until reduced by half. Add half the cherries, the orange juice, thyme and port and continue simmering until reduced to a light sauce consistency. Strain the sauce and add the remaining 1/4 cup cherries. Season to taste with salt and pepper.