Friday, March 23, 2012


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Monday, December 19, 2011


Hot & Cheesy Shrimp Dip

Hot & Cheesy Shrimp Dip Served in Artisan Bread Bowl

1 large or 2 small round(s) of artisan bread (as pictured), cut out top and center and set aside
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Hot Wing Sauce
1/2 cup Italian mix shredded cheese (mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan and Romano cheeses)
1/4 cup ranch dressing
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 scant teaspoon chili powder
10 drops Louisiana hot sauce or 1/2 teaspoon Chipotle in Adobo sauce
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 24-ounce bag medium-size frozen cooked shrimp
1/3 cup Italian mix shredded cheese for garnish, if desired
1/4 cup green onions with tops, chopped for garnish, if desired
Additional soft bread for serving
or Tostito "Scoop" Chips

Thaw and rinse shrimp. Allow shrimp to drain in a colander; remove shells and snip off tails. Spread shrimp onto layered paper towels (about 3 or 4 thicknesses). Roll shrimp up in the paper towels (as for a jelly roll) and gently press out excess moisture; repeat if necessary. Place shrimp on a cutting board (a food processor is not recommended) and chop to desired size (I like to leave the shrimp big enough that it's identifiable). Set shrimp aside.

Place cream cheese in large microwave-safe bowl; stir until smooth. Mix Hot Wing sauce, shredded cheese mix, ranch dressing, yogurt, garlic powder, chili powder, Louisiana hot sauce, and salt with cream cheese; stir to blend. Microwave on High for 2 minutes; stir again. Cover and microwave for another 1 minute. Dip will be bubbling when it's ready to serve.

Pour Hot & Cheesy Shrimp Dip into hollowed out bread bowl. Top with additional shredded cheese and green onions for garnish (green onions on top of this dish are mainly for color). Serve from the bread bowl with large soft bread pieces, or serve dip from a heat-proof bowl with Tostito "Scoop" Chips or fresh vegetables (as shown). Yield: 4 cups dip

Note: Canned or diced cooked chicken or shredded beef
can be used in place of the shrimp.
The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other. ~Johnny Carson

This quote is a bit cynical but it clearly expresses my experience with mailing packages this year. CB
Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Applesauce Fruitcake with Honey

When I was growing up, fruitcake was enjoyed by most grown ups around the holidays. It seemed to be somewhat of an adult treat; a desire for the fruit-filled doorstop escaped me entirely. My mom, her friends and my aunts looked forward to making and eating it, much like we kids longed for frosted sugar cookies and Russian Tea Cakes. I remember fruitcakes being baked in early December, wrapped in rum or brandy soaked cheesecloth, and then tucked away in obscure places around the house to "season."

Years later as a newlywed, and living far away from family, we were given fifteen (that's right, fifteen) foil wrapped fruitcakes by our thoughtful, well-meaning neighbors. They didn't want us to get homesick. And frankly, it was oddly comforting to have fruitcakes stacked in our tiny refrigerator just an arm's length away. Although we appreciated their kindness, neither one of us would eat the stuff.

It was that year, far away from home and with lots of time on my hands, I learned why I didn't like fruitcake. I discovered, through careful dissection, that fruitcakes were largely made up of a suspicious looking mixture called Fruitcake Mix. Ick! Other distasteful culprits in the fruitcakes were identified as dried citrus peel and dark raisins. More ick! One saving grace for the traditional, although aromatic, brick was the dense dark cake, loaded with sugar and spice and everything nice, like applesauce, honey and nuts.

And that's how and why I developed Applesauce Fruitcake with Honey, and other similar recipes for fruitcake. I omitted the suspect fruits and replaced them with candied cherries, candied pineapple, golden raisins or currants, and toasted pecans or walnuts. All of this was folded into just enough spiced cake batter to hold everything together. Now, we're talkin' holiday fruitcake! I've loved it ever since, and that's with or without the rum.

Applesauce Fruitcake with Honey
3 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 3/4 cups granulated white sugar
1 cup shortening or margarine
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups honey

2 cups dates, chopped

2 cups golden raisins
or currants
1 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup candied cherries

1/2 cup candied pineapple

Preheat oven to 250°F. Blend together applesauce, granulated white sugar, and shortening; pour into a medium saucepan; boil gently for 5 minutes. Set mixture aside to cool.

Mix together 4 cups flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and cloves. Gradually add to cooled applesauce mixture.

In a medium bowl, mix together honey, dates, raisins, walnuts, candied cherries and pineapple; fold into the applesauce mixture; add 1/2 cup flour; mix well.

Divide mixture into 3 greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pans; bake in a pan of hot water for 2 hours and 30 minutes. Cool completely.

The fruit and spice flavors of fruitcake are enhanced when it’s wrapped tightly in cheesecloth or plastic wrap and then stored in an air tight container. Storage in a cool dark place helps to preserve moisture and flavor. Slice and serve after 1 week; fruitcake keeps well for 4 to 6 weeks.

Yield: 3 loaves, approximately 36 slices

Baked and cooled fruitcakes can be wrapped in rum or brandy soaked cheesecloth to enhance flavors. This is of course optional.

More fruitcake recipes can be found in my apple cookbook, Sweet Apple Temptations


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Monday, October 31, 2011


Chili Potato Hot Dish

Chili Potato Hot Dish ensures the family gets a nutritious Halloween dinner. It's made completely in the microwave, and if there's any leftover it's excellent warmed up the next day.


Fall was a joy-filled event for our family. It began in September when we started harvesting our own, homegrown fruits and vegetables and ended with Halloween on October 31. We celebrated by bobbing for apples, breaking pinatas in the barn, and often gathering up our neighbors to enjoy hayrides under a breath-taking harvest moon. To my recollection, it was much like a Norman Rockwell scene fresh off the front cover of Saturday Evening Post.

I’ve come to realize that my kids were sheltered from Halloween pranks and shenanigans. Until their teens, they only knew trick or treating as being driven to each neighboring farm. I’d wait in the car while they tiptoed up to the front door, seasonably frightened out of their wits. As they approached the doorstep they’d hear unfamiliar noises in the dark and giggle in weak-kneed terror when an over-grown shrub suddenly grabbed their costume. With their teeth chattering in fear, they’d knock at the door. When it swung open, the kids shouted, “Trick or Treat!”

“Look, Mom, Mrs. Magisos gave me Jack-O-Lantern popcorn balls!” My son, Brian, shouted excitedly when he returned to the car. Like it was an entirely new adventure, at the next house he’d cry, “Mrs. LeVar, made black cat cookies!” The goodies were always different but I took comfort in knowing each neighbor who gave the children treats.

There is one Halloween that remains especially vivid in my memory and that was the time my 6-year-old daughter, Holly, stepped from the school bus and said, “Mom, tonight I want to be a Christmas package for Halloween!”

I was surprised but impressed with her originality. “That’s an unusual costume!” I said. “We’ll climb up in the attic and get some Christmas wrap and ribbon, and put blusher on your cheeks to make...”

“I’m wearing my red tights and I want a giant red bow for the top of my head,” she interrupted. Clearly she was beyond needing my suggestions.

Holly was so inspired at the last minute with her Christmas Package idea that I decided not to dampen her enthusiasm by mentioning her original idea of wearing a wicked witch costume.

We finished tying the giant red bow on top of Holly’s head and she slipped her feet into shiny tap shoes. She looked adorable.

“You could land a part in the Nutcracker Ballet!” I said totally swept away by the simple, but clever costume. Holly beamed and Brian anxiously wiggled about in his green monster costume knowing it was time to join the other creepy creatures of the night.

I was especially glad that I’d planned ahead and prepared my Halloween Chili Potato Hot Dish, which is my own rendition of baked potatoes with chili and cheese. Since the casserole was the kids’ favorite, I was pleased knowing they’d eat a healthy dinner before filling up on sugar-laden treats. We gobbled down the potato chili casserole and rushed out the door.

I started the engine to my nine-passenger Matador while Brian helped Holly climb into the rear of the station wagon. I could hear the rustle of wrapping paper. There was a commotion followed by an exchange of muffled words.

“Mom! Mom!” The shrillness in Brian’s voice rang out from the darkness.

“The package is too big! She doesn’t fit in the car!” Brian yelled.

What were we going to do?

Between Holly’s tears and disappointment, she was swiftly “unwrapped” and the wicked witch costume was revived. For the last time that evening, we slipped out the door and into the car – off to revel in the spooky black night. Happy Halloween!

Halloween Chili Potato Hot Dish

5 medium baking potatoes, scrub skins, cut into halves or quarters

30 ounces canned chicken or beef chili with beans

½ cup green chiles, chopped (optional)

8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated

1 small can sliced olives, drained

1 bunch green onions, sliced

8 ounces sour cream

Guacamole and cilantro (optional)

Spray a 2 ½ - 3 quart, deep-dish style, casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place potatoes, cut side up, in casserole dish, cover and microwave on high for about 6 minutes or until potatoes are done. Leave potatoes in casserole dish, break potatoes open using a potato masher. Pour canned chili and green chilies over potatoes. Sprinkle with cheese and olives. Cover and microwave on high for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese melts and casserole is thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with green onions and chopped cilantro (optional) and serve with sour cream and guacamole (optional) on the side. Yield: 6-8 servings


Last day to enter to win Pork Chops & Applesauce. Just purchase a copy of Sweet Apple Temptation (which contains a collection of over 300 apple dessert recipes) and your names goes into a drawing to win Pork Chops (the book, that is). The winner will be announced November 4, 2011.


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Sunday, October 2, 2011


Pumpkin Flan with Zest

Enjoy it warm, room temperature or chilled.

Any way you like it, it tastes like fall.

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 16-ounce can pumpkin (plain, not pumpkin pie mix)

1 cup low-fat evaporated milk or fat-free half & half

1/4 cup orange juice

Pinch of orange zest

3 eggs

Non-dairy whipped topping or whipped cream

Pecans as garnish as pictured are a nice touch.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar, cinnamon, cloves, cayenne pepper and salt in a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin, milk, orange juice, orange zest and eggs; combine well using either a whisk or a hand mixer.

Pour pumpkin mixture into six 6-ounce custard cups that have been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Set custard cups in a high-rimmed roasting pan; pour boiling water around the outside of the cups to about 1-inch deep. Bake until firm around the edges and slightly puffed in center, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Remove cups from the water, cool completely, cover and refrigerate (can also be served warm, if desired). Before serving top each cup with whipped topping and/or a dash of cinnamon, if desired. Pecans (as pictured) also make a nice autumn touch. Yield: 6 servings


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Thursday, September 29, 2011


Harvest Party Pumpkin Cookies

Freshly baked pumpkin and apple cookies are a sweet reminder

of fall. This is a soft, mouthwatering cookie that's high in fiber

and flavor. Guaranteed you can't eat just one.


1 box yellow cake mix (use dry from the box)

1/2 cup instant oatmeal

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin pie filling

1 cup diced dried apples or currants

1 egg

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoon cooking oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix together cake mix, oatmeal, allspice and cinnamon. Add apples, egg and cooking oil.

Drop by teaspoons full onto greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12-18 minutes or until edges are lightly brown.


3 cups powdered sugar

4 tablespoons orange juice

1 teaspoon orange peel, grated

Orange food coloring, optional

Mix sugar, orange juice and orange peel together to blend. Color glaze with orange food coloring, if desired. Drizzle cookies with glaze while they're still warm. Allow glaze to set up; store cookies in one layer (do not stack) and keep in a cool place. Yield: 36 cookies


Cookbooks that scream FALL!

Get your 2-Cookbook Combo for only $33.00. Any combination of two cookbooks, Pork Chops & Applesauce or Sweet Apple Temptations personally signed by the author and shipped free anywhere in the U.S. Allow 10 days for delivery.


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Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Salmon Fever

Grilled Soy-Sesame Salmon

My dad, R. D. Belles, was bitten by the salmon bug when he was a young man in his early 30s. We’d know he was experiencing a flare-up of what we called “Salmon Fever” when his sleeping and eating patterns took a sudden turn.

Normally, Dad moaned at the buzz of an alarm clock and slept in until noon whenever he got the chance, and routinely he began every day with the hardiest of breakfasts. But when he pointed the truck and boat trailer toward his favorite fishing haunts out on the tip of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, R.D.’s usual sleeping and eating patterns became drastically altered.

During such flareups he’d spring out of bed at 3:30 AM. “No time for breakfast. I have to get out there and wake up those Kings!” he’d whisper slipping out of the cabin like a cat on a late-night prowl.

Well after dark we’d see the running lights of his boat, Bob-Bet, bumping against the dock. R.D.’s broad smile glinting through the darkness told us his catch for the day was abundant. With stubble sprouting from his chin, he’d flop into a chair at the kitchen table and say, “I’m as hungry as a bear coming out of hibernation!” He’d plan the next day’s outing over a platter full of pan-fried red potatoes and his catch of “shaker fish."

Dad took fishing far more serious than anyone else in the family. Once, while fishing with him, I became severely seasick and begged to go back to shore. Foreboding walls of water rocked the twenty six-foot craft back and forth among the powerful waves. Bob-Bet lifted WAY UP and then plunged WAY DOWN, between the rollers. R.D. patiently puffed on his pipe and said, “Oh, you’ll be okay, you’ve just had too much motion today.” Sundown was the only good excuse for Dad to return to shore.

Once, I asked Dad if he’d bring back a dogfish (which is a small shark) for me to fry up for dinner. I’d heard dogfish had a unique texture partnered with a surprisingly non-fishy flavor. He hit the ceiling. “I won’t have the damn stink'n things in my boat. You can’t kill em’- even with a club! If you can’t kill em’ then ya can’t eat em’!” He blasted at me.

My Uncle Ken, also curious about the feasibility of dogfish & chips for dinner, brought me a large, fresh dogfish the next time he went fishing with Dad. Dad was furious with his older brother and acted like he was a traitor to the Salmon Fishing Hall of Fame.

I barbecued a small Coho salmon for Dad and deep-fried the dogfish for my adventurous guests. Dad showed up for dinner, but it was the first vegetarian meal that I’d ever known him to eat. He never ate fish at my house again! By the way, the dogfish was delicious!


In September and October my thoughts turn to my father who probably fished every salmon bed that exists in Pacific Northwest waters. His passion to catch the mighty fish made it possible for salmon to be served frequently in our home. My mother prepared it many, many different ways, and through the years I've gathered some of my own renditions of how to cook the pink-fleshed fish that "puts up one hell of a fight before he lands in the boat." Today I'm sharing three recipes for cooking salmon that you'll be glad "landed" on your dinner table. Enjoy!

Grilled Soy-Sesame Salmon

6 6-ounce salmon fillets, with or without skin


1/4 cup brown sugar or honey

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons dried parsley

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together brown sugar, olive oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic powder, parsley, basil, thyme, lemon and pepper. Pour marinade into large zip-lock bag. Add salmon fillets; squeeze air out of bag and seal. Gently squeeze bag so marinade is surrounding fillets. Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour.

Preheat either an outdoor drill or an indoor grated griddle to medium-high heat. Lightly oil grate with a brush or paper towel. Remove salmon from the marinade; shake off excess marinade and discard any excess marinade. Grill salmon until browned and fish easily flakes, about 5 to 7 minutes on each side. Serve with jasmine rice. Yield: 6 servings

Halibut with Spicy Picante Sauce

2 pounds cod fillets, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Picante Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped or sliced thin

1 clove garlic, minced

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

1 small can mild or medium enchilada sauce

1 bay leaf, broken in half once

2 tablespoons jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

10 pimento -stuffed green olives, sliced

2 tablespoons capers, cut into halves

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Sprinkle fillets with lime juice; cover and set aside. Combine olive oil, onion and garlic in a 6-cup glass measuring cup. Cover measuring cup and microwave on High for 4 minutes. Add tomato sauce, enchilada sauce, bay leaf, jalapeno peppers, olives, capers and oregano to onion garlic mixture. Cover and microwave on High for 4 minutes.

Place fish in a greased 10"X12" glass baking dish; pour picante sauce over fish. Cover and microwave on High for 6 minutes (less or more depending on thickness of fillets), rotating dish once or twice during cooking time. Cook until fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove the bay leaf. Serve with white rice. Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Bobbi’s Salmon & Green Bean Salad

8 to 10 ounces canned, baked or poached salmon, chilled, boned and flaked

3 ti 4 cups fresh green beans, snapped into 2” pieces, steamed to almost done, cooled

1 small Vidalia or Walla Walla sweet onion, separated into rings

1 ½ cups iceberg lettuce, shredded (optional)

1 medium tomato (sliced) or cherry tomatoes (optional)


2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed

2 teaspoons water

4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt

Cracked pepper to taste

1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced

Toss salmon, beans and onion together in a large bowl. Measure vinegar, oil, lemon juice, water, basil, salt, pepper, and garlic into shaker container. Shake well. Pour dressing over salmon mixture and toss. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

Serve on bed of shredded lettuce. Garnish with tomatoes. Yield: 3 to 4 as main dish salad or 8 to 9 as a side salad

This recipe comes from the kitchen of Bobbi Powell, Kent, Washington.


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