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Cooking Concoctions

For your reading convenients below you will find all the Cooking Concoctions published in 2015

January 2015

A new year has begun and it may be a bit nippy where you live, but even if it is not, soup is always a great comforting healthy option for a meal.

As often as possible I will include both traditional and microwavable directions.

Pennsylvania Chicken Noodle Soup
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 large chicken breast, skinned, about 1/2 pound
1 quart chicken broth, canned or homemade
4 ounces noodles, narrow, wide or Dutch
1 cup corn, frozen or canned
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Directions:
Melt butter in a large, heavy saucepan.
Stir in the celery, carrot and onion.
Add the chicken. Cook over medium-low heat, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes.
Turn several times.
Remove chicken. Cut into small cubes. Set aside.
Add the chicken broth to the saucepan.
Bring to a rapid boil.
Add the noodles and corn.
Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes until noodles are just done.
Add the chicken. Heat for a minute or two.
Season with pepper. Add salt, if needed.
Serve steaming hot in large, wide bowls.
Microwave Directions:
In a micro safe 3 quart casserole, combine the butter, celery, carrot and onion.
Microwave on high for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring after 1 minute.
Place the chicken breast on top of the vegetables. Cover.
Microwave on high for 6 to 7 minutes until chicken is done.
Cube chicken. Set aside.
Stir in 2 cups broth, noodles, corn and pepper.
Cover. Microwave on high for 15 minutes. Stir after 5 minutes.
Add remaining broth and chicken. Cover. Microwave on high for 5 minutes until steaming hot.
Serve.
Makes 4 servings.

February 2015

Since February is the month of valentines and sweethearts, I thought I would share an easy yummy chocolate dessert.

Fudge Pie
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup flour
Dash salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Directions:
Melt butter in medium pan. Remove from heat.
Add cocoa, sugar, eggs, flour, salt and vanilla. Beat well.
Pour into a well-greased 9 inch pie pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
Cool. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
Can be cooked in microwave for 6 minutes.

March 2015

In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day here is a traditional Irish recipe.

Old Fashioned Soda Bread
Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/3 teaspoons baking soda
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Dash salt
1 pint plain yogurt or buttermilk
Directions:
In a bowl, combine flours. Add baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.
Add yogurt or buttermilk.
Mix and knead until a soft dough forms, it should still feel wet.
Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead a few times, just until dough sticks together.
Form into a round loaf. With a floured knife, make some slits on top of the loaf.
Place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake at 375 to 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until bread is golden brown and the inside is cooked.
Serve immediately with butter and/or jam or cheese.
Tips:
You may also add some bran flakes to recipe to make it more nutritious.
Increase yogurt or buttermilk to form an even softer dough.
Makes 1 loaf.

April 2015

What to do with the chicken tonight? Well, here is a very flavorful Italian chicken recipe.

Italian Chicken
Ingredients:
4 boneless chicken breasts, halved, skinned
2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup long grain white rice
4 cups marinara sauce (homemade or store bought)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
2 cups Mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Directions:
Place chicken breasts on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan.
Boil water with butter and salt in a medium sauce pan.
Add rice. cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Mix rice with marinara sauce and fresh herbs.
Spread over chicken.
Top with sliced green peppers.
Sprinkle cheeses over green peppers.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until chicken is tender.
Serve immediately with a green salad.
Tips:
This recipe is based on some favorite flavors from the Italian cuisine. You may vary the ingredients according to your preferences of herbs.
Microwave Directions:
Place chicken breasts in the bottom of a microsafe baking pan.
Combine boiling water, butter, salt and rice in a 2 quart microsafe casserole dish.
Cover. Microwave on medium-low for 20 minutes.
Remove from microwave oven. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Mix rice with marinara sauce and herbs.
Spread over chicken. Top with sliced green peppers. Sprinkle cheeses over green pepper.
Cover with microsafe plastic wrap.
Microwave on high for 10 to 12 minutes, or until chicken is tender.
Serve.
Remember:
Cooking the rice in the microwave oven doesn't save any time. You may want to cook it on the stove instead.
Makes 6 servings.

May 2015

May is the month in which we honor moms. So how about making her a very special breakfast. And, the best thing about this recipe is that it can be prepared the night before. But you may also choose the microwave recipe to make it all at once.

Mother’s Day Brunch

Ingredients:
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 1/3 cups cubed ham
2 tablespoons chopped canned green chilies
8 slices firm sandwich bread, white, cracked wheat or sourdough
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cups milk
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

Directions:

Saute the onion in butter until just softened.
Stir in the ham and chilies.
Cut the crusts off the bread, if desired. Cut pieces in halves.
Place half of slices in a buttered baking dish.
Sprinkle with ham mixture and 1 1/4 cups cheese. Top with remaining bread.
Beat together the milk, eggs, salt, if desired, pepper and oregano.
Pour evenly over the bread.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Uncover. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes until puffed and brown.
Serve hot from the oven. It's also very tasty served at room temperature.
Tips:
Cooked pork sausage or chorizo can be used in place of ham.
For extra flavor and crunch, add 1 green pepper, seeded, cut into chunks.

Microwave Directions:
In a medium bowl, melt the butter on medium-high for 10 seconds.
Add the onion. Microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes until soft.
Add ham and chopped chilies.
Slice the crusts off the bread, if desired. Cut slices into triangles.
Place half of them in individual microsafe serving dishes.
Top with ham and onion mixture.
Sprinkle with most of the cheese.
Top with remaining bread.
Beat together milk, eggs, salt, if desired, pepper and oregano.
Pour over bred,sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Let stand covered, for about 30 minutes.
Microwave on medium-high for 6 minutes.
Let stand for 5 minutes.
Microwave again on high for another 6 to 8 minutes until puffed and cheese on top is melted.
Serve.
Good served with:
Fresh fruit such as cut up oranges, pineapples and grapes, and freshly brewed coffee or tea.
Makes 4 to 5 servings.

June 2015

June is the month in which we celebrate fathers. Below is an easy recipe to make the perfect juicy steak for your dad.

Easy Steaks

Ingredients:
4 boneless tender steaks; sirloin, tenderloin or boneless rib-eye
Dash salt
Dash pepper
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, divided
2 medium onions, sliced
2 red peppers, cut into strips
1/3 cup dry red wine, optional
1/3 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon arrowroot or cornstarch

Directions:
Trim steaks, but leave a little fat on the edges. You may trim that fat off after cooking the meat.
In a skillet, saute the onions in 2 tablespoons of butter until soft and lightly brown. Remove, keep warm, and set aside
In same pan, saute the red pepper strips until almost soft but not mushy. Remove, keep warm, and set aside.
Clean skillet. Heat remaining butter in pan.
Add steaks to pan when butter sizzles.
Cook over medium-high to high heat for 2 minutes.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn steaks over.
Cook for 3 more minutes, or done to your liking. Remove steaks, and keep warm.
You may cook steaks up to 5 minutes on each side for well done.
Add red wine if using, and beef broth to pan.
Scrape up pan drippings. Bring to a boil.
Mix cornstarch with a little water. Add to pan.
Bring to a boil. Cook until just thickened.
Reheat onions and peppers.
Serve over steaks.
Drizzle with sauce.

Microwave Directions:
Place onions and half of the butter in a microsafe dish. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
Add pepper strips and remaining butter. Cover and microwave on high for another minute.
Place steaks in a microsafe dish. Brush with soy sauce for better color.
Microwave on high for 2 to 4 minutes, turning steaks over after half the cooking time and turning plate also for even cooking.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add onion and pepper strips.
Reheat on medium-high for a minute or so until onions are hot.
Make sauce, if desired, as indicated above.
Cooking time for steaks depends on tenderness of meat and how rare or well done you want your meat.
Check for doneness. Juices should still run red for rare meat but should run clear for well done.
Makes 4 servings.
Serve with green salad, baked potato,and vegetable.

July 2015

It’s time to fire up the grill for this tasty and healthy fish recipe. but don't worry, microwave directions are also included below.

Swordfish Avocado
Ingredients:
1 1/2 to 2 pounds swordfish steaks, about 1 inch thick

For Marinade:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Avacado Relish:
2 ripe avocados 4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup minced green onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional

Directions:
Place swordfish in a shallow glass dish.
Combine olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, minced garlic, salt (if using), and white pepper.
Pour marinade over swordfish. Cover. Refrigerate for 4 hours, or overnight.
Prepare grill.
, grill fish for 8 to 10 minutes on each side. Baste with marinade while cooking.

Avacado Relish:
Skin avocados. Cut into large chunks.
Combine with lemon juice, olive oil, green onions, minced garlic and salt, if using.
Place swordfish on serving platter. Smother with avocado relish.

Alternative:
Shark can be substituted for swordfish, if desired.

Microwave Directions:
Place swordfish in a shallow dish.
Combine olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, minced garlic, salt (if using), and white pepper.
Pour marinade over swordfish. Cover. Refrigerate 4 hours, or longer.
Remove fish from marinade. Place in an 11 inch round shallow, microsafe dish.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 4 minutes.
Turn fish over. Place less cooked sections toward outside of dish.
Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Check for doneness. Should be flakey, and separate easily when fork is inserted.
If needed, continue to microwave on high in 30 second intervals until done.
Avacado Relish: follow the directions from above
Smother fish with avocado relish.
Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.

August 2015

Fall is on the horizon but here is a yummy side dish for your final outdoor parties, or great to bring to a gathering.

Tortellini Salad
Ingredients:
1/2 pound spinach tortellini, cooked, drained
1/2 pound cheese tortellini, cooked, drained
1/2 pound broccoli flowerets, cooked, drained
1/2 pound carrots, sliced, cooked, drained
1 medium leek, sliced, blanched
1 large red or green bell pepper, cut in strips
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

For Dressing:
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Parsley, for garnish, optional

Directions:
Cook tortellini according to package directions. Set aside to cool.
Combine tortellini, broccoli, carrots, and leek in large bowl.
Add bell pepper, tomatoes, and basil. Toss thoroughly.
To make dressing, blend mayonnaise, lemon peel, thyme, salt and pepper.
Add to tortellini salad, toss well.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired.
Makes 4 servings.

Tip:
For a lighter dressing use your favorite store bought or homemade Italian dressing.

September 2015

One last taste of summer with fresh peaches.
Peach Cobbler

Ingredients:
3 1/2 to 4 cups peeled, sliced peaches
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon granulated sugar mixed with 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:
In a 1 1/2 quart casserole or soufflé dish, combine the peaches, cinnamon, cornstarch and brown sugar. Toss gently.
In a bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in egg.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder.
Stir into butter mixture alternately with the milk to make a batter. Add vanilla.
Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto the peaches.
Sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
Serve warm, , with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.

October 2015

Trick or treat! Here is a fun and easy recipe to make with children, and great for a Halloween party treat!

Worms in Dirt

Ingredients:
15-ounce package Oreo cookies
1 3.9-ounce package instant chocolate pudding
2 cups cold milk
8 ounces whipped topping (Cool Whip)
24 gummy worms

Directions:
Place the Oreo cookies in a large zip lock bag and use a rolling pin to crush them into small pieces.
Do not worry about removing the cream center because as you crush the cookies, it will all blend together. Continue till you have mostly small pieces, a few larger ones are okay. Set aside.
Place the instant pudding mix in a large bowl, and then add the cold milk.
Whisk everything together until all of the dry pudding dissolves and it’s smooth and free of lumps.
Let the pudding sit for about 5 minutes, until it thickens and is no longer liquid.
Add whipped topping And approximately half of the cookie crumbs.
Gently stir everything together until well blended and the cookies are well-mixed into the pudding.
Divide the pudding mixture evenly between eight cups each should hold a little over 1/2-cup of pudding.
You can fill them however you’d like–I prefer to use a large ice cream scoop because I think it’s a little neater and faster that way.
Tap the cups on the countertop a few times to level the pudding, then insert 3 gummy worms into the pudding and press them down a little so that they’re embedded.
Pour the cookie crumbs over the pudding and gummy worms so that the entire top is covered with “dirt.”
Your Worms in Dirt are done! This is such an easy and fun recipe to make with kids!

Tip:
during the summer, if you want to make them even more special, you can hide the cups in small terra cotta flower pots, or make one large batch in a big flower pot. Enjoy!

November 2015

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Here is one of my favorite bread recipes of all time. Enjoy!

Cranberry Bread

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons Butter (softened)
1 cup Sugar
1 Egg
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon Salt
½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
2 Cups Flour
1 cup Orange Juice
1 12-ounce package whole cranberries

Directions:
Cream together the butter and sugar, and then add the egg.
Add in baking powder, salt, baking soda, and flour. Mix well.
Add orange juice, Mix well.
Fold in the cranberries till well blended.
(I use a whole bag)
Pour into a greased loaf pan
Bake at 350 for 50 minutes
Done when a toothpick that has been inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

Tip: You can add ½ cup of your favorite chopped nuts if desired.

December 2015

Happy Holidays! Here is a great recipe for sugar cookies with an added bonus. Follow the directions below and give as a gift.

Sugar Cookies

Recipe for Jar Gift

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Dash of salt
1 ½ cups white sugar
1 cup butter, soften
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a 1-quart largemouth jar, layer the sugar on the bottom and the flour mixture on top.
Attach a tag with the previous “wet” ingredients and the following instructions:
Empty the contents of the jar into a large bowl.
Cut in 1 cup of softened butter until the mixture is crumbly.
In a separate bowl, beat 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until well blended.
Cover bowl and chill for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch in thickness.
Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.
Place cookies 1 1/2 inches apart onto cookie sheets.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until edges begin to brown.
You can sprinkle on some colored sugar before baking or after baking, frost and sprinkle on some colored sugar.

THE END