22 July, 2015

Gourmet Spread for Burgers

Gourmet Spread for Burgers ingredients (9)
Makes 6 servings
1 (8-oz) pkg Neufchâtel cheese, softened
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

For serving
6 burger patties
1 large tomato, sliced
1 medium red onion, sliced
6 lettuce leaves, cleaned and dried well
6 Lewis Bakeries, Inc. Original Bunny Deluxe Hamburger Buns

Gourmet Spread for Burgers Directions
Prepare spread
In a medium bowl, combine all of the Spread ingredients; cover and set aside.

Prepare burgers and buns
On a preheated grill, cook burger patties until well done, about five to ten (5 - 10) minutes on each side.

On the grill, toast the split buns for one to two (1 - 2) minutes.

Assemble burgers
On the top and bottom of each bun, spread 1.5 Tbsp of the prepared Spread. Place a cooked burger on the bottom of each bun.

Then, dress each burger with the other condiments in the order listed. Add the top bun and serve at once.

Slightly adapts Lewis Bakeries, Inc. "Gourmet Cheese Spread for Burgers." Original Bunny Deluxe Buns package. (Evansville: Lewis Brothers Bakeries, Inc. n.d.), n.pg.

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Condiments > Spreads > savory    

17 July, 2015

Blueberry Lemon Yogurt No-Bake Pie | The Dinner Doctor

Blueberry Lemon Yogurt No-Bake Pie ingredients (9)
Makes 8 servings
1 (14-oz / 396g) can fat free sweetened condensed milk
1 cup low-fat lemon yogurt
1 tsp grated lemon zest 
2 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice (about one medium-size)

2 Tbsp water
1 (4-oz) envelope unflavored gelatin

1 (9-oz / 255g) Keebler® Ready Crust® Graham 2 Extra Serving Pie Crust (10-inch / 25.4cm diameter)
1 pint fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained well
1 Tbsp confectioners' sugar

Blueberry Lemon Yogurt No-Bake Pie directions
Prepare filling
In a large mixing bowl, combine the first four (4) ingredients (sweetened condensed milk through lemon juice).

Bloom gelatin in hot water bath
In a small heatproof bowl, place the 2 Tbsp water. Gently sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the water, to avoid lumps, but do not stir. Set the gelatin aside to absorb the water and soften for one (1) minute.

Meanwhile, and into a skillet over Medium-High heat, pour water to a depth of one-inch (1") and bring to a simmer.

When the water is quite hot, turn off the heat and place the bowl of gelatin into the skillet. Stir the gelatin until it dissolves and becomes translucent.

Combine the filling and bloomed (softened) gelatin
Whisk the dissolved gelatin into the prepared filling.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate the mixture until it begins to set, about fifteen (15) minutes.

Assemble pie and chill
When the filling is chilled and has begun to set, use a rubber spatula to scrape it into the graham cracker crumb crust.

Smooth the top; then, arrange the blueberries evenly on the top. Use plastic wrap to lightly cover the pie and refrigerate until set, about one (1) hour.

Just before serving, sift the confectioners' sugar over the top. Slice and serve. 

Cover any unused portions with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to one (1) week. 

Slightly adapts Byrne,Anne. The Dinner Doctor: Quick Cooking When Time Is Short. (New York: Workman Publishing Company, Inc., 2003), 497 - 498.

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Dessert > Pies > fridge

11 July, 2015

Mexican Corn and Tomato Salad

Mexican Corn and Tomato Salad

Mexican Corn and Tomato Salad ingredients (10)
Makes about 8 servings
1 Tbsp freshly-grated lime zest
1 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp granulated garlic, more or less according to personal preference

Olive oil, for roasting corn
1 (16-oz / 453g) bag frozen Birds Eye® Pure & Simple Sweet Kernel Corn, defrosted and well drained
1-pint grape tomatoes, halved
Half of one (8-oz. / 226g) package Karoun Dairies' Queso Del Valle® Queso Blanco (cheese), crumbled, more or less according to personal preference
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Lemon Pepper, to taste

Mexican Corn and Tomato Salad directions
Get ready
Assemble ingredients. If oven-roasting the corn, preheat oven.

Prepare vinaigrette
In a measuring glass, whisk together all of the Vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.

Roast corn
There are several ways to roast corn; use your preferred method. I use a version of Chef Rick Bayless' oven method.

Frozen corn, defrosted, drained and tossed with bit of olive oil is ready to oven-roast

Combine Salad ingredients
In a medium bowl, combine all of the Salad ingredients (roasted corn through Lemon Pepper). Pour over the vinaigrette dressing and toss lightly. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve Mexican Corn and Tomato Salad at room temperature.

Mexican Corn and Tomato Salad 

Mexican Corn and Tomato Salad notes
  • Adjust the vinaigrette to suit your family. I prefer 1 tsp granulated garlic to taste more cilantro; family prefers 2 tsp granulated garlic. Fresh minced garlic, or even puréed roasted garlic (recipe here) could also be used. 

  • Sometimes, I add a small amount of Kosher salt when roasting corn; however, I do not for this salad because I don't wish to overpower the lightly-salted cheese.

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How To
Latin / Latin-style

Coconut Tres Leches Cake | The Dinner Doctor

Coconut Tres Leches Cake ingredients (11 + optional)
Makes 16 - 20 servings
Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 (18.25-oz) box plain yellow cake mix
1 (3.4-oz.) box vanilla instant pudding
1 cup milk
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs, at room temperature

Milk Syrup
1 (15-oz.) can cream of coconut
1 (12-oz.) can evaporated milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp Malibu Rum

Optional garnishes
1 cup of Toasted Salted Coconut (double this 1/2 cup recipe)
2 cups Sweetened Cream
2 medium-size ripe bananas

Coconut Tres Leches Cake directions
Get ready
Assemble the ingredients.  Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF.

Use the vegetable oil spray to lightly mist a (13- x 9- x 2-inch) baking dish; set aside.

Prepare cake batter
Into a large bowl, place the Cake Ingredients (cake mix through eggs).

Using an electric mixer on Low speed, beat the Cake Ingredients until well combined, about one (1) minute.

Stop; use a rubber spatula to scrape down the side of the bowl. Then, increase the mixer speed to Medium and beat two (2) minutes more. If needed, scrape the side again.

Pour cake batter into the prepared baking pan. Use a rubber spatula to smooth the top.

Bake cake (and toast coconut)
Bake the cake until it is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, about thirty-two to thirty-four (32 - 34) minutes.

Remove cake from the oven when done, and place it on a wire rack to cool completely, one (1) hour.

If using, prepare the Toasted Salted Coconut before turning oven off.

Prepare Milk Syrup
While the cake is cooling, and in a medium bowl, whisk together all five (5) of the Milk Syrup Ingredients (cream of coconut through Malibu Rum) until smooth.

Saturate cooled cake with Milk Syrup
Use a thin wood skewer or the tines of a fork to pierce the entire top of the cooled cake.

Then, use a large spoon or ladle to spoon some of the Milk Syrup over the cake. Stop; let the Milk Syrup soak into the cake before adding more.

Add more Milk Syrup to the top of the cake by repeating the spoon and stop process. Continue spooning over the Milk Syrup until you have used all of it.

When you finish, not all of the Milk Syrup will be completely absorbed. Any Milk Syrup pooling on the top of the cake should be absorbed while the cake rests in the refrigerator.

Cover the cake loosely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate cake until all of the Milk Syrup is absorbed, about two (2) hours.

Prepare remaining optional garnishes
After the cake has rested and absorbed all of the Milk Syrup, prepare the Sweetened Cream shortly before serving, if using.

If using the bananas, cut them crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.

Slice cake and, if desired, serve with the Sweetened Cream, sliced bananas, and toasted coconut. (See plated cake via Mel's Kitchen Cafe.)

If there are any portions remaining, loosely cover them with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Slightly adapts Byrn, Anne. The Dinner Doctor: Quick Cooking When Time Is Short. (New York: Workman Publishing Company, Inc., 2003), 476 - 478.

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Dessert > Booze & wine
Latin / Latin-style

7 UP® Peach Cobbler

You could use fewer peaches for a single-layer of fruit in this cobbler. We use two layers of peaches because we prefer a more equivalent ratio of fruit to topping.

While trying variations of this recipe, I have added a modest sprinkling of dark brown sugar over the top of both fruit layers before baking; however, we prefer this 7 UP® Peach Cobbler without the sugar added. If you don't have a fresh lemon on hand, just omit the zest. This 7 UP® Peach Cobbler will still be delicious.   

Just-baked 7 UP® Peach Cobbler

7 UP® Peach Cobbler ingredients (5)
Makes about 12 servings
About 7 fresh medium- to large-size peaches
Zest of one lemon
1 (16.5-oz. /468g) box Duncan Hines® Classic Yellow Cake Mix
Half of one (8-Tbsp) stick unsalted butter (= 4 Tbsp)
1 (12-oz) can (original) 7 UP®

Optional for serving
Frozen yogurt, ice cream or non-dairy whipped topping or whipped cream

7 UP® Peach Cobbler directions
Get ready
Assemble the ingredients.

Add cold water to stockpot, filling about 2/3; set on Medium-High heat and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, set-up two (2) cold-bath stations by pouring cold water into baking pans (or large bowls), leaving enough space for adding whole peaches without the water overflowing onto your work area.

Lightly apply non-stick vegetable cooking spray to the inside of (3-quart / 2.8-liter) baking dish and set aside.

Prepare the fresh peaches
Some folks scald peaches one-at-at-time; I do not because a) I'm impatient, and b) I prefer not to have steam in the kitchen for extended times during an already humid summer. Instead, I scald small batches of peaches at one time, and pay attention to the boiling water so that I can use a wooden spoon to separate the fruit should they start hitting one another while bobbing in the water. Choose what works best for you.

My method is to carefully place the peaches, four (4) at a time, into the boiling water for two (2) minutes.

With a slotted spoon, transfer scalded peaches to the cold-bath. Allow five (5) minutes before removing the peel ("the jacket") from each peach and then placing the fruit into a medium bowl. I gently rub each cooled peach to remove the peel; I do not use a knife unless I'm cutting away a brown, mushy section from the peach.

Scalded peaches resting in cold water bath
 ( I use double-layer of disposable aluminum roasting pans.)

While the first four (4) peaches are in the cold water bath, carefully place the next group into the boiling water and repeat the same procedures as above.

Over the medium bowl to capture the peach juices, cut each skinned peach to separate the flesh from the pit. Then, cut into slices of about the same size and place them in a single-layer to cover the bottom of the prepared baking pan.

First layer of peaches with the collected juices and lemon zest

Pour the peach juice collected in the bowl into the baking pan. Scatter half the lemon zest over the sliced peaches.

Repeat for second layer of peaches, ending with lemon zest sprinkled on top.

Add topping
Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Sprinkle the dry cake mix evenly over the sliced peaches, crumbling any lumps along the way.

Slice the butter into small squares and place them somewhat evenly over the dry cake mix.

Small-diced butter over the dry cake mix topping

Gently pour some of the 7 UP® into each corner of the baking pan, and over the topping.

7 UP® gently poured into each corner and over the diced butter-cake mix topping

Bake and serve
Bake, uncovered, in preheated 350ºF oven until the top is golden brown, about forty-five (45) minutes.

Remove from oven when done and let rest ten (10) minutes before slicing to serve warm.

If desired, serve with frozen yogurt, ice cream, non-dairy whipped topping, or whipped cream, according to personal preferences.

Cover any unused portions with aluminum foil.

7 UP® Peach Cobbler served with Vanilla Greek Yogurt 

Adapts Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

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Dessert > Cobblers, crumbles & crisps

10 July, 2015

Heirloom Yellow Tomato Salsa

Heirloom Yellow Tomato Salsa

Heirloom Yellow Tomato Salsa ingredients (8)
Makes about one cup
1-lb. heirloom yellow tomatoes (about 4 - 5)
1 tsp. grated Vidalia Onion
1 tsp. finely-minced Serrano chile pepper (about 1/4 of one chile, seeds and membrane removed)
1 tsp. lime zest
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. granulated garlic powder
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. (= 4 tsp.) white wine vinegar

For serving
As a condiment, grilled or broiled chicken, or grilled fish
As a dip, Fritos® Lightly Salted Corn Chips, or small, baked chips like Simply Tostitos® Blue Corn Tortilla Chips (halved)

Heirloom Yellow Tomato Salsa directions
Seed the yellow tomatoes. Over a small bowl to capture the juices, dice the tomatoes and drop them into the bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients; toss to combine well.

Cover and refrigerate three (3) hours before serving as a condiment with grilled chicken or fish, or as a dip with chips.

Inspired by the (Rosewood) Mansion on Turtle Creek Restaurant recipe contributed to the Memphis Child Advocacy Center and Folk's Folly, Folks in the Kitchen: Favorite Recipes From Family & Friends. (Adamsville: Keepsake Cookbooks, 1996), 18.

Appetizers and Snacks > Salsas
Latin / Latin-style

06 July, 2015

Fresh Peach-Chipotle Salsa

Fresh Peach-Chipotle Salsa

Fresh Peach-Chipotle Salsa ingredients (10)
Makes about 2.5 cups
6 fresh, medium-size peaches
1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper (about half of one large)
1/4 cup diced sweet red onion
1/4 tsp ground chipotle chili pepper
(1 Tbsp / 0.5-oz.) honey
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (about one medium lemon)
Pinch Morton Lite Salt
2 tsp puréed fresh cilantro with apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
1 tsp white wine vinegar (7% acidity)

For serving
As a condiment, grilled chicken
As a dip, scoop corn chips

For kickier Fresh Peach-Mango Salsa (Makes 3.5 cups), add the following:
1 cup diced fresh mango
Zest of one lemon
Fresh juice of one lemon
1/4 of one fresh serrano chile pepper, seeded and finely minced

Fresh Peach-Chipotle Salsa directions
Prepare fresh peaches
Add water to fill stock pot two thirds (2/3) and bring to a rolling boil. Then, one at a time, carefully place peaches into the pot. Scald peaches for three (3) minutes and then place immediately in cold water bath (see next photo) for three (3) minutes before gently removing the jackets.

Scalded peaches in cold water before removing jackets
 (I used double layer of disposable roasting pans for the cold water bath.) 

Fresh ingredients include scalded peaches with jackets removed

Remove any bruised or mushy portions of the scalded peaches to purée for a different purpose. Then, cut the peaches into medium-size chunks over a bowl (to catch the juice). Drop peaches into the bowl.

Combine and let rest
Add remaining salsa ingredients to the bowl and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate two (2) hours.

Serve within twenty-four (24) hours
To serve as condiment, spoon over grilled chicken.

Serve as dip with scoop corn chips.

Appetizers and Snacks > Salsas
Latin / Latin-style

Page Last Modified 10 July 2015

05 July, 2015

Mel's Caprese Skewers

Quick, easy, delicious. Sandwich a folded fresh basil leaf between halved grape tomato (the bottom) and a square or ball of fresh mozzarella (the top) on a pick. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar vinegar, according to personal preference.

Mel's Caprese Skewers with balsamic vinegar drizzle

Mel's Caprese Skewers ingredients (4)
Makes about 280 pieces
For the skewers
2-lbs grape tomatoes
2 (1-lb) pkgs fresh mozzarella cheese
About 3 (0.66-oz / 18g) pkgs fresh organic basil leaves (look for freshest, largest leaves)

For serving
24 dozen bamboo skewers or wood picks
Balsamic vinegar

Mel's Caprese Skewers Directions
Getting ready
Wash and thoroughly dry the tomatoes; refrigerate.

Wash and thoroughly dry basil stems.

Before slicing tomatoes, line 2-Qt covered casserole with two layers of flattened coffee filters; set dish aside. Using the coffee filters to absorb some liquid draining from the sliced grape tomatoes is very helpful maintaining freshness and texture when preparing Mel's Caprese Skewers in advance.

Draining sliced grape tomatoes on coffee filters

Seeds left by draining grape tomatoes

Slice and drain tomatoes
Slice each grape tomato in half horizontally; cover bottom of prepared casserole dish with the tomato halves, cut-side down. When you finish the first layer, cover it with two more layers of coffee filters and cut tomatoes; continue adding more layers as needed.

Cover tightly and refrigerate.

Prepare cheese
Cut each slice of fresh mozzarella in half lengthwise. Then, depending upon the size of the grape tomatoes, vertically slice the mozzarella halves into four or five equal-size pieces each.

If not assembling Mel's Caprese Skewers immediately, place mozzarella pieces in a covered container and refrigerate.

Mel's Caprese Skewer before balsamic vinegar drizzle

Assemble skewers
Using largest leaves first, tear fresh, clean, and dry basil leaves into strips about twice the length of the mozzarella pieces. Remove basil stems as you go, and avoid any browned areas.

Fold basil strip in half and insert pick through its middle; if using small basil leaves, place two on the pick. Then, insert pick into the rounded, uncut end of a grape tomato halve, without piercing the flat, cut end. This way, the tomato will rest flat on a serving tray and the pick will stand upright (vertically straight).  

Gently slide basil down the pick until it is resting on top of the grape tomato.

Gently center mozzarella piece on the pick, on top of the basil; nestle together.

Set aside in coffee filter-lined covered container until ready to serve. (See Notes below.)

About twenty to thirty (20 - 30) minutes before serving, drizzle balsamic vinegar over the mozzarella tops.

Tray Mel's Caprese Skewers and serve. (See Notes below.)

Mel's Caprese Skewers Notes

  • If you are preparing a large quantity, I find it helpful to prepare the ingredients and then compose each piece, assembly-line fashion. Also, some in my family prefer this appetizer without the balsamic vinegar; typically, I drizzle only half of Mel's Caprese Skewers with balsamic vinegar.  

  • I have success assembling this appetizer twenty-four (24) hours in advance when I wait until serving time to add the balsamic vinegar; I use double layers of coffee filters on the bottom, cover the container tightly, and refrigerate flat to keep the picks upright. Once, I stacked two layers of skewers, with coffee filters in between; however, I think it was only beginner's luck that the bottom layer survived so well. Therefore, after assembly, I think it is better to have single layers of snugly-packed Mel's Caprese Skewers, rather than multiple layers stored in the refrigerator.  

  • As is true with other cheese, I think the flavor of this appetizer is better when it is served with the mozzarella at room temperature.

  • I use pre-sliced mozzarella cheese (photo below) for a neat appearance and as a convenience to save some time.

Often available at Costco

Appetizers and Snacks  > Finger foods 
Christmas Eve
July 4
My recipes

Page last modified 3 January 2016

03 July, 2015

Menu: July 4th Potluck

Appetizers and Snacks

Sunshine Pico de Gallo 

Crackers and chips *


Pineapple Salsa Chicken with tortillas or wraps & accoutrements *


Root Beer Shredded Pork Sandwiches with deli-style rolls



7 UP® (fresh) Peach Cobbler with Light Vanilla Ice Cream (Cinnamon Swirl optional) *  
or Cherries Jubilee Ice Cream Pie


(Need ice)


Page last modified 27 December 2015

Anne Byrn's Sweetened Cream | The Dinner Doctor

Anne Byrn's Sweetened Cream ingredients (3)
Makes 2 cups
1 cup heavy cream, very cold
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Anne Byrn's Sweetened Cream directions
Get ready
Chill a large mixing bowl and a pair of electric mixer beaters for fifteen (15) minutes.

When ready to begin, assemble ingredients.

Whip the cream
Pour the heavy whipping cream into the chilled bowl.  Using the chilled beaters, beat heavy cream on High speed until thickened, ninety (90) seconds. Stop the machine.

Sweeten the cream
Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract to the bowl. Beat on High speed until stiff peaks form, one to two (1 - 2) minutes more.

Serve at once.

01 July, 2015

Billie's "English" Trifle | Favorite Recipes 2006

I like Billie's riff on an "English" trifle (she actually uses the quotation marks) because it simplifies what could be a more labor-intensive and time-consuming preparation process. In addition to Billie's recipe, I suggest a few variations I plan to try for adapting to homemade brandied cherries I like to make.

Billie's "English" Trifle ingredients (5)
Makes up to about 12 servings 
Can be scaled for different size bowls
One package Jell-O French Vanilla Instant Pudding, and all ingredients to prepare it according to the directions on the box
One big jelly roll or one package of four (4) small jelly rolls
1/2 cup "sweet Sherry" (a fortified wine from Spain)
1 (12-oz) tub non-dairy whipped topping (like Cool Whip), defrosted
"Lots of" maraschino cherries, drained and sliced
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Billie's "English" Trifle Directions
Prepare instant pudding as directed on the box. 

Cut jelly roll(s) into 1/2-inch slices and place half in the bottom of your trifle bowl (or other glass bowl, usually clear). Sprinkle with half of the Sherry (or brandy or cherry liqueur).

Use half of the prepared pudding to cover the jelly roll slices, spreading to the edge. 

Repeat layers.

At this point, Billie covers with the non-dairy whipped topping, sprinkles the cherries and almonds on top, and serves. (See Notes.) 

Billie's "English" Trifle Notes
  • For variation, use cherry brandy instead of the Sherry.

  • I will test different finishing procedures. Instead, securely cover second layer of pudding with plastic wrap and refrigerate four (4) hours to give all the flavors a chance to blend. If that results in too soggy jelly roll, I'll reduce to two (2) hours the next time. Either way, about thirty (30) minutes before serving, I'll remove the trifle from the fridge to bring to cool rather than cold temperature. Just before serving, I'll remove the plastic wrap, spread the whipped topping and scatter the cherries and almonds.

  • If cherries are in season, go one step further and brandy some, slicing or chopping them after the infusion. My personal favorites are Jack Daniel's Vanilla Cherries which I make (I'm looking for and will post my recipe); Barker and Mills Bourbon Vanilla Cocktail Cherries have been recommended to me, however, they are a limited edition product. When using infused cherries and their liquor syrup, you may not need the sherry (or brandy). 
I think any of the following recipes on a sister web site will be lovely in this recipe:

  • To lighten up, use product like Bird's Eye® Fat Free Cool Whip Non-Dairy Whipped Topping,

Dessert > Booze & wine

Page Last Modified 8 July 2016

Ruby's Cherry Cream Surprise (freezer cake)

Ruby's Cherry Cream Surprise ingredients (4)
Freezer cake
10 ice cream sandwiches
2 (21-oz) cans cherry pie filling
1 (12-oz) tub frozen whipped topping, defrosted

Optional garnish
Chocolate candy bar shavings

Ruby's Cherry Cream Surprise directions
Assemble layers
Unwrap ice cream sandwiches and place in a single-layer in the bottom of rectangular (13- x 9- x 2-inch) pan.

Pour over the cherry pie filling, spreading evenly to the edges.

Gently smooth whipped topping over the cherries. If using the chocolate candy bar shavings, distribute them over the whipped topping.

Cover and freeze four (4) hours, or longer (up to two months according to the original recipe).

Slice and serve
Remove from freezer ten (10) minutes before slicing to serve.

Compiled by Crye-Leike, Inc. Favorite Recipes 2006 Presented by Crye-Leike (Vol. XXVI). (Collierville: Fundcraft Publishing Company, 2006), 144.

Dessert > Cakes > no bake