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Dip it! Dip it Good!

Feb 3, 2011   //   by marymeals   //   Starters  //  1 Comment

I learned how to make this delicious dip from my roommate back in college. It was a recipe passed around in her family, and after the first time she made it for me (yes, we ate it for our dinner!) I had to know how to make it. Today it’s become one of my most requested party recipes. If I’m having a party, taco dip better be served, or I’m in some serious trouble. It’s an easy to assemble layered dip so feel free to modify the layers with whatever you have on hand at the time. If I have guacamole, I’ll add it in however, it’s still great without it. The secret to the dip is a layer of seasoned sour cream that tastes out of this world! I must warn you, its addicting…

Taco Dip

16oz refried beans
10oz guacamole
16oz sour cream
1 pkg taco seasoning
16oz shredded Mexican cheese blend
1lb cherry tomatoes diced
3 green onions chopped

Combine sour cream and taco seasoning and set aside for a few minutes. On a serving platter spread the refried beans. build a layer of guacamole, the seasoned sour cream, and top with shredded cheese. Sprinkle the top with diced tomatoes and green onions. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips.

Just Wing It

Jan 21, 2011   //   by marymeals   //   Starters  //  3 Comments

baked hot wings

Like many signature dishes, this tasty treat was served up by an industrious chef, looking for a new way to cook up ingredients already on hand. Before the legendary invention, chicken wings were designated scrap for soup stock. An alleged over shipment created one of the greatest bar foods known to man, and catapulted the little Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY into history books. While the actual details of the fated night remain in question, one thing’s for sure, it was a darn delicious idea.

To make it Mary, and a little better for your heart, try my baked recipe instead of breaking out the deep fryer. I guarantee you won’t miss any of that saturated fat with flavor like this! You can also cut even more calories by making your own low fat ranch to dip and cool off those wings.

Baked Hot Wings

3lbs chicken wings
Cajun seasoning
salt and pepper
olive oil
1/2 cup Franks Red Hot
2 tbsp margarine

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking dish with foil to make it easier to clean and arrange chicken wings. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and apply liberal amounts of Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper. Turn to coat on both sides. Bake in oven for 45 minutes. While the wings are baking, melt 2 tbsp margarine in a small saucepan and mix in hot sauce. Once wings are done place in a metal bowl, pour hot sauce mixture over and toss together.

Low fat Ranch dip

1/2 cup low fat Greek style yogurt
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp dill
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and serve with hot wings

Holy Guacamole!

Jan 14, 2011   //   by marymeals   //   Soups and salads, Starters  //  3 Comments

Avocado Salad

I made my first avocado salad for a Mexican cooking show filmed for extra credit in my high school Spanish class. It was called Maria’s Kitchen and it was a complete disaster! Midwesterners back then did not have much experience with the ins and outs of guacamole making, and the avocados that I painstakingly selected for my cooking show masterpiece were rock hard, and took an extreme amount of effort to peel and dice! I had no idea that avocados had to be soft and ripe in order to be eaten! I wish i knew then what I know now! Hilarious! The best way to tell if an avocado is ready for immediate use is to hold it in your hand and give it a gentle squeeze, ready to eat fruit will be firm but give to gentle pressure. So go get your ripe avocados and join me in making this creamy and delicious salad. Don’t feel guilty because it tastes so good! Each serving gives you more then 20 vitamins and minerals that your body needs, and the fat in avocado is the heart healthy kind proven to lower bad cholesterol. I eat this as a salad inside of a whole wheat pita, but you can easily turn this into guacamole dip by mashing the avocado instead of leaving it in bite size pieces.

MaryMeals’ recipe is on the 30th edition of Monday Mania

Avocado Salad

3 ripe avocado cubed
2 large tomatoes diced
1 small red onion diced
2 garlic cloves minced
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 half jalapeno seeded and chopped
juice from 1 lemon
1 tbsp garlic salt

Combine all produce in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice and garlic salt. Simple, and so amazingly delicious.

Honey, I’m home!

Dec 27, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Dessert  //  No Comments

rolled baklava

Layers of paper thin phyllo dough. Sweetened pistachios. A drizzle of cinnamon honey syrup. It’s baklava, one of the most delicious desserts you’ll ever experience. Baklava scares people. One, because they don’t know what it is half of the time, and two, because those sweet layers of finicky dough seem impossible for the everyday cook to master. Traditionally, layer upon layer of individual phyllo is buttered and placed in the pan to build the base and topping for this flaky treat. It can be extremely tedious. Because of the delicate nature of the dough, it can break apart and be ruined before you can complete your baklava. It’s important to handle the dough correctly and have your melted butter and the nut filling ready in an assembly line set up. Once you experience this delicious baklava, you will want to make it all the time. Make it Mary by rolling the dough to create the many flaky layers you’ll need with far less stress.

Mary’s Rolled Pistachio Baklava

For the syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
2 cups water
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick(or 1 tsp cinnamon)

Can be made a day ahead. Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour. Stirring occasionally. When finished it should be reduced to a maple syrup consistency. Let cool. Place in a liquid measuring cup for easy pouring over the finished baklava.

For the filling:
2 cups of pistachios (any of your favorite nuts can be substituted here)
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse to break down the nuts to a coarse chop. Set aside in a bowl for your assembly.

To assemble:

1 16 oz package of frozen phyllo dough(thaw over night in the fridge)
2 sticks of melted butter
brush for melted butter
two damp towels
several sheets of plastic wrap
8×12 baking pan
a knife to cut the rolls into pieces before baking

Arrange your filling ingredients in an assembly line. Phyllo, butter, and nuts. You will need to protect the dough from drying out after it is opened from the package. Lay a damp towel on the counter and cover with plastic wrap. Open your phyllo, unroll and place on the plastic, cover with another sheet of plastic and then another damp towel. This arrangement will keep the phyllo safe while you are assembling. You will have to cover the dough back up in between layers in order to protect it from drying out. Place one sheet on the counter and brush with melted butter. Fold over top and bottom edges of phyllo to fit the width of your pan. (8in) Take another sheet of phyllo and bunch/scrunch it up to fit onto the first flat sheet. The bunching creates additional layers that you don’t have to work for! The idea is to get the bunching sheet to fit onto the flat sheet. Brush layer with butter. The butter will attach the layers together. Place another bunched layer and also brush with butter. You should have three layers buttered together. Now sprinkle the sheets with about 2 spoons of filling spread evenly over the sheet. Roll the baklava up like a log and brush with butter to seal the end of the roll. Place in the pan and brush with butter. Continue building your baklava logs and place them in the pan right next to each other no space in between. Once your pan in full, using a very sharp knife cut across the logs to get bite size pieces. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool. Once cool, pour the syrup all over the baklava and let sit. The pastries will soak up the syrup in about 15 min. Enjoy!

Over the River…

Dec 22, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Dessert  //  2 Comments

Evelynne Trick's date-filled cookies

…to Grandmother’s house we go. There’s nothing more comforting then homemade cookies, warm and fresh, out of grandma’s oven. Memories of cooking beside my own grandma, and the smells coming from her cozy kitchen keep her alive in my mind. I for sure wouldn’t be the cook I am today without those hours of valuable lessons. Today in the marymeals’ kitchen we are honored to share with you a special cookie brought to you by the grandmother of my amazing friends Shane and Joanne. This delicious date filled cookie is courtesy of Evelynne Trick circa 1970. I’ve been hearing about it since we met, and couldn’t wait to try them for myself. Even though dates don’t come from Ohio, Mrs. Trick, you made one mean date filled cookie! Let me tell you these delicious treats do not disappoint, and will be a perfect addition to your holiday table.

Evelynne Trick’s Date Filled Cookies


2 Cups Light Brown Sugar
1 Cup of shortening or margarine
½ tsp Salt
3 eggs well beaten
4 Cups sifted All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Vanilla


1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Flour
1 Cup Water
½ Cup chopped walnuts
1 Cup pitted dates
1 tsp Vanilla


Mix dough and refrigerate over night. Boil filling until thick and refrigerate over night.

To Assemble

Roll dough thin and cut in small circles about 1.75” diameter (or form in to a ball and press). Place each circle on a greased cookie sheet. Place a scant teaspoon of filling on each circle (keeping it in the center). Cover with another circle of dough and seal the edges together by pressing with a fork.

Bake at 375° – 400° for 10-12 minutes (or until brown).

Keep in an air tight container with a piece of apple to make soft (a slice of sandwich bread will also work).

Mary’s note:

Make sure that the dough stays extremely cold during the whole process. I put the cookies back in the fridge be fore pressing with a fork to keep the fork from sticking to the dough. I also decorated the cookies with red and green sprinkles to add a more festive look. Although Shane remembers Grandma Evelynne garnishing them with red and green candied cherries.

Yes soup for you!

Dec 15, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Soups and salads  //  10 Comments

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

As one of natures most nutritious foods, wild rice was a staple of the Chippewa Indian diet, and is still considered sacred to their culture. High in fiber and rich in protein this super-food sustained tribes through long winters, as it preserved indefinitely once cured. Curing also provides the key to wild rice’s delicious nutty flavor. Native to North America, it can still be found growing in lakes and streams that crisscross the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota. The Indians of the Red Lake Band of these Chippewa still harvest it, and the rice provides great sources of revenue for the traditional cultivation of these rich grains. All rice grown on Minnesota State lakes is protected and must still be harvested from a canoe to keep the plants safe from the damage a power boat can cause. Enjoy these wholesome grains set off in a creamy and delicious wild rice soup.

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

To precook the rice:

1 cup wild rice
4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
olive oil

Rinse rice in cool water. Place the wild rice, water and salt in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low cover and cook 45 to 60 minutes, until rice has puffed and most of the liquid has absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit additional 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and drizzle w a tiny amount of olive oil. Set aside.

For the soup:

1 onion diced
1 stalk celery diced
1/2 green pepper diced
1/4 cup carrots diced
2 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp garlic salt
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1 bullion cube
1 tsp thyme
precooked wild rice
2 chicken breasts fully cooked and diced
1 pint half and half
salt and pepper to taste
chopped green onion for garnish (optional)

Heat olive oil in a stock pot and add onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and green pepper. Saute until vegetables are tender. Add butter and once it is melted add 1/4 cup of flour, stirring to coat all vegetables. Once flour is combined into mixture slowly whisk in the chicken stock. The soup will thicken slightly. Add bouillon, water, and stir in cooked rice, garlic salt, and thyme. Simmer 15 minutes and then add chicken and stir in half and half. Let soup heat to serving temperature and check for seasoning. Salt and pepper to taste. Posted on Make a foodie friend mondays!

I get by with a little help from my friends

Nov 22, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Soups and salads  //  2 Comments

Tomato Soup

You know something has got to be good when people are willing to wait in -10℉ weather for over an hour. The Ovens of Brittany in Madison WI had food so amazing they had a line no matter what time of year it was. Dishes in the classical French style highlighted fresh, natural ingredients, paired with attentive preparation, and recipes that simply worked. Ovens transformed the local food scene making something as mundane as eating into a meaningful and delicious experience. A great place to gather with friends, or have a date night, it was also the versatility of the place that contributed to its success. Sadly, The Ovens of Brittany is no longer in operation as a restaurant, however, they still operate a successful catering business to this day. Here in this MaryMeals version I pay tribute to the best tomato soup I’ve ever tasted. It’s close to the original version but I like it to be a bit creamier, and have a little more spice.

Creamy Tomato and Herb Soup

1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
1 onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
32 0z chicken stock
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 small can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup honey
1 tbsp dill
1 tbsp basil
1 tbsp garlic salt
1 tsp chili powder
pinch of red pepper flakes
couple dashes of hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of half and half

Take half of the stick of butter and melt in a small saucepan. Add flour and stir until well blended. Cook on low heat an additional 5 minutes to make a roux. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large soup pot melt remaining butter and saute onions until translucent, then add garlic and saute additional 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Whisk in the roux to thicken the stock until smooth, reduce to a simmer. Add all remaining ingredients except half and half. Continue to simmer 20 minutes test for salt and pepper. Stir in half and half and cook an additional 25 minutes. This recipe added to Veggie Converter’s: meatless Mondays

Viva la Italia

Nov 14, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Main course  //  2 Comments


Italian food brings to mind images of pasta, lasagnas, and pizza, yet the cuisine of Italy is actually quite diverse and influenced by the many different regions of the country. Coastal areas have access to some of the world’s best seafood, and with the island of Sicily’s strategic position on the Mediterranean its various conquerors left many of their culinary traditions, not to mention some great recipes behind. The Inland arid regions eat a more rustic and earthy fare. A traditional Italian dinner, Ossobuco hails from the northern region of Lombardy. It is here in the capital city of Milan that this rich braised veal got its culinary introduction. Simply put, Ossobuco are veal shanks slowly roasted in wine and broth until the meat practically falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. Its quite delicious, requires very little work, and is sure to impress.


3 lb. veal shank( 4pieces 3 inches thick)
4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup carrots diced
1/2 cup celery diced
1 onion diced
4 cloves garlic chopped
1 tsp thyme (if fresh 3 sprigs)
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken or veal stock
flour for dusting meat
salt and pepper and paprika to season meat

Preheat oven to 350
In a dutch oven on the stove melt 2 tbsp butter. Season veal on both sides with salt, pepper, and paprika. Be generous as this is the only seasoning besides the thyme. Spread flour in a shallow dish and dredge meat through flour on both sides. Shake off access and add meat to the melted butter. Increase heat to medium high, sear meat on all sides until well browned. Remove the veal to a plate and set aside. Add the remaining butter to the pan. Once melted add onion, celery, and carrots. Cook until onions are translucent and then add thyme and garlic. Continue to saute until vegetables begin to brown Add the veal back to the pan. Pour in wine, and stock, bring to a simmer and then cover and place in the oven to cook until the meat is tender about and hour and a half. The sauce should be reduced and the meat browned and very tender, you may need to roast an additional half hour.

Traditional topping:

1. handful fresh parsley chopped
2. zest from 1 lemon
3. 2 cloves chopped garlic

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and use to sprinkle on top of veal.

Trick or treats

Oct 31, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Dessert  //  No Comments

Buttered Sugar Cookie

On Halloween it is said that the force separating our world from the spirit world becomes weak enough for some other worldly spirits to seep through. The tradition of wearing ghoulish costumes was an attempt to fool any of the bad spirits who made it. They would think we were just another evil soul roaming around, and ensure we would come to no harm. Because of its spooky delights, traditions like hay rides with warm apple cider, and great decorations, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Use these ghostly sugar cookies to ward of any evil spirits headed your way.

Buttered Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 sticks butter room temp
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar. Beat eggs in one at a time, and add vanilla until smooth. Add flour, baking powder, and salt and stir till combined. Form dough into a disc and cover with plastic wrap. Chill at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 400. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface until 1/2 inch thick cut into fun shapes with cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheets these cookies will bake in 6 to 7 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.

For the Frosting:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp milk
2 tsp brown rice syrup(corn syrup works just as well but I love the flavor of rice syrup!)
1 tsp vanilla paste
assorted food coloring

Whisk together sugar and milk until smooth, then add vanilla and rice (or corn) syrup beat until icing is shiny and smooth. If you need it thinner you can add more syrup. I then divide the frosting into separate bowls and add assorted colorings. I apply the frosting with a “piping bag” made from a sandwich bag with a corner cut out. You can also dip the cookies or paint them with a pastry brush.

Stressed spelled backwards is desserts

Oct 29, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Dessert  //  1 Comment

Pomegranate Cheesecake

You’re going to eat it anyways. Especially over the upcoming holiday season. So why can’t your next sinful escape into dessert territory be indulging in one that is actually good for you? It’s far from fat and calorie free, and you definitely still need to watch your portion control, but this amazing cheesecake has so many good for you benefits its hard to believe you can still call it a dessert. You’ve all heard about the famous Pomegranate, but how many of you have ever tried one? To list all the health benefits of this beautiful red fruit would be an endless chore so let’s just touch for a moment on the most beneficial. Listen to your heart. Pomegranates contain three times the antioxidants of green tea which among many other things promotes a healthy heart and good blood circulation. Regular consumption of this super fruit has shown to stop hardening of artery walls and the build up of plaque, and keeping our arteries clean helps reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. If that alone isn’t enough for you, studies have also shown that the power of pomegranates can have a role in preventing cancer cells, protecting the brain against Alzheimer’s, and preventing cartilage damage. Its also a great way to clear skin, a natural anti-inflammatory and has many anti-aging properties. Long thought to be the actual apple from the garden of Eden Pomegranates are an ancient and original super-food. A pomegranate a day should keep the Dr at bay! Here’s an extremely delicious way to get started eating this amazing fruit.

Pomegranate Cheese Cake

Preheat oven to 350.


1/4 cup melted butter
1 tbsp granulated sugar
10 oz pkg. of shortbread cookies

Shortbread cookies make a delicious alternative for graham crackers. Simply grind in the food processor add sugar and melted butter and pulse together until just starting to combine. Pour mixture into a spring-form pan and press into a crust. Place in fridge until needed. Mary tip: If you don’t have a food processor, just place cookies in a Ziploc bag and press them to pieces with the bottom of a frying pan until they are crushed


16 oz of neufchatel cheese room temp (found next to cream cheese-but has 30% less fat!)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
3 eggs
2 tbsp triple sec (or orange juice)
1 tbsp grated orange zest
Cream together cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Remove crust from fridge and pour cake mixture over crust. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Let cheesecake cool.

Pomegranate Topping:

seeds from 2 pomegranates
1 tsp orange zest
1 cup+ 3 tbsp reserved pomegranate juice
1 1/2 tbsp potato or corn starch

Place 1 cup of juice and orange zest in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Combine reserved 3 tbsp of juice with starch in a small bowl and whisk smooth. Once the juice in the pan is boiling slowly whisk in the starch and juice mixture. The juice will thicken. Remove from heat and add in the pomegranate seeds. Stir together a place in a bowl that can go into the fridge to cool. Once the cake and topping are completely cooled you can spoon the topping onto the cheesecake and return it to the fridge until ready to serve.
Mary tip: a simple way to remove the delicious seeds from this complicated looking fruit is to place them in a large bowl of water after you open them. As you scrape out the seeds the white pith will separate and float to the top of the water and the seeds will sink. You can also cheat a little and buy your pomes already seeded. (although it’s a bit pricey)