Thursday, December 29, 2016

Grilled Salmon with Lemony Dill Sauce

I put this recipe together using Gainey Vineyard's delicious Lemony Dill Seasoning, which pairs amazingly well with salmon. Served on a bed of baby spinach and arugula and topped with crumbled feta, this dish is on the lighter side and OH-SO good!

Grilled Salmon with Lemony Dill Sauce

2 salmon fillets (6 – 8 oz. each)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
5 oz. container of non-fat plain yogurt
2 Tbsp. low-fat sour cream
1 tsp. lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
1 ½ Tbsp. Gainey Vineyard Lemony Dill Seasoning
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
(Seafood seasoning, optional)
1 c. baby spinach and arugula salad mix
1 to 1 ½ Tbsp. feta cheese, crumbled

Heat grill pan on stove top over medium heat. Drizzle with olive oil.

Once oil is heated, placed salmon fillets on grill pan and cook on both sides until done and you’ve achieved grill marks. (Sprinkle with seafood seasoning or salt and pepper if desired).

In medium bowl, combine plain yogurt, sour cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemony dill seasoning, salt and pepper. Whisk all ingredients together until fully combined.

Arrange spinach salad mix on serving plate. Sprinkle with crumbled feta. Place salmon fillets on bed of salad and spoon lemony dill sauce over the top. Enjoy!


Friday, December 16, 2016

Fudgy Rum Chocolates

Yesterday was cold, cloudy and gray - perfect for a SoCal December day :)

Getting a good shot of these amazing little chocolates was definitely a challenge given the lack of natural light. BUT, dear daughter to the rescue! She's a studio photographer and has an amazing eye for lighting and stuff :) These are my photos and they're not perfect, and I'm sure she would say there's still much more editing to be done, but....what can I say? I'm still learning.

Besides, it wasn't really about the photos. It was the time spent with my sweet girl. And the laughs. With her, there is sure to be laughter. Well...except for when there's not :/ We all have our days, so I grab the good ones when I can.

And the reward for our efforts? We get to eat the props!

Actually, these little darlings, in their neat and festive wrappers, make the perfect Christmas gift. I'm packaging these up today along with an assortment of pecan tassies and salted caramels. It's a delicious way to say Merry Christmas!!

Fudgy Rum Chocolates

3 c. powdered sugar, sifted
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 c. semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1 tsp. rum flavored extract
Chocolate sprinkles

In large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Add melted chocolate and mix well. Add flavored extract. Mix until ingredients are well incorporated.

I used a cookie dough scoop to portion out exact amounts and pressed the mixture into a silicone mold (square). Add chocolate sprinkles to each one and press down slightly. Refrigerate for about an hour to set before removing from mold.

These are a rich, decadent treat perfect for gift giving.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

Really, the only word to describe this chili recipe is YUM!!! I started this early yesterday morning in the crock pot and let it go all day. Believe me, letting this simmer all day is the perfect way to cozy up the house on a cold December day :) This recipe has just the right amount of flavor and spice. Honestly, I'm a lightweight when it comes to spice, but if you like a spicier chili, you could certainly add some crushed red pepper flakes or a little more cayenne. But really, this is great as is. That's why I'm sharing it with y'al!!!

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

2 c. chicken, cooked and diced
½ red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
40 oz. can pinto beans
15oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes with garlic
7oz. can diced green chilies, mild
15oz. can whole kernel corn
2 15 oz. cans low-sodium chicken broth
2 tsp. cilantro, chopped (optional)
1 ½ Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 ½ tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 – 1 ½ Tbsp. corn starch

Place chicken, red onion, garlic, beans, tomatoes, green chilies and corn in crock pot.

Add all spices (and cilantro, if using).

Pour in chicken broth. Cook on high for about 5 hours. To thicken, mix corn starch in small container with about 3 Tbsp. of water. Mix well and stir into chili. Cook on low for about another hour.

Serve hot.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Download the Digital Version of Joyful Kitchen Magazine for FREE

As my gift to you, I'm happy to share the holiday issue of Joyful Kitchen Magazine digital version for FREE now until Christmas! Delicious food is meant to be shared and this issue is packed with recipes that will WOW your friends and family not only during the holidays but ALL year long. Download yours today:

Merry Christmas
from my Joyful Kitchen
to yours!


Monday, December 5, 2016

Chocolate Pecan Tassies

Many years ago, right after my husband I were first married, I found a recipe in a magazine for a chocolate pecan pie. I made it. Fell in love with it and I have pulled out that same recipe EVERY year since. It's my once-a-year splurge (usually enjoyed with a great cup of coffee at the end of all the festivities on Christmas Day...sort of a punctuation mark to the season). For me, the wonderful aroma of pecans and chocolate getting all snuggly in a buttery pie crust is a sure sign that it's Christmas time. 

I normally make a full-size version of this in my tart pan, but I have reworked the recipe a bit into these delicious bite-sized treats. I love baking mini versions of great recipes (just in case you haven't noticed by now, LOL). 

Chocolate Pecan Tassies

2 prepared pie crusts (9 inch)
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 – 1 ½ c. chopped pecans
½ stick butter (1/4 c)
½ c. light corn syrup
½ c. granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
½ tsp. vanilla extract
Cooking spray

(This recipe uses 2 mini muffin pans, a 2-inch round biscuit cutter, a wooden tamping tool and a plastic squirt bottle)

Preheat oven to 350°

Spray mini muffin pans with cooking spray and set aside.

In small saucepan over low heat, melt butter, corn syrup and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, roll out pie crusts on a lightly floured surface.

Using biscuit cutter, cut out rounds of crust and tamp into place in mini muffin pans. (I actually used a smaller cutter with the batch pictured here, so they came out a little smaller than normal).

Sprinkle about 5-6 chocolate chips into each crust. Sprinkle pecan pieces over top of chocolate chips.

Once sugar mixture has cooled, stir in beaten eggs and vanilla. Pour mixture into plastic squirt bottle (this makes it much easier to control when pouring over pecans).

Carefully pour sugar mixture over pecans and chocolate chips, making sure not to over fill.

Bake 30-33 minutes. Allow to cool before removing from pan.



Thursday, November 17, 2016

French Macarons

Have you ever been intimidated by a recipe or a technique???

I have. I don't know why, but French Macarons have always been a mystery to me.

But after spending a large part of my day tackling these things, I realize they're not such a big deal after all. They're actually pretty easy - just a little time consuming. And, of course, I did a very basic version.

Granted, my first attempt quickly found its way to the garbage can. So, after wiping my tears and heading back to the internet, I combined 3 different recipes and baking techniques and came up with something half-way decent.

I just went with a plain, no-color version this time, but oh my gosh, the possibilities and flavor combinations are absolutely endless! I will be doing these many more times and you should, too. Don't let a recipe intimidate you. Just jump in and see for yourself! The results are delicious!

French Macarons

3 egg whites (room temperature, if possible)
¼ c. granulated sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract (or almond)
1 c. almond flour
1 2/3 c. powdered sugar

Line 2 flat baking sheets with silicone baking mats and set aside.

Beat egg whites in large bowl of stand mixer until foamy. Beat in granulated sugar and extract. Continue to beat until fluffy and you achieve soft peaks (about 6 to 8 minutes).

In medium bowl, sift powdered sugar with almond flour.

Remove bowl from mixer and quickly fold in powdered sugar and flour mixture. Fold by hand until well incorporated.

Preheat oven to 325°

Scoop macaron batter into piping bag fitted with open round tip. Carefully pipe batter into 1 ½ inch round discs about 2 inches apart on baking sheets.

Gently tap bottom of pan on the counter to release any air bubbles. Allow pans to sit for about 20 minutes. 

Place 1 pan in upper part of preheated oven and place the other pan in the lower portion. Immediately reduce heat to 300° Bake for 8 minutes.

After the first 8 minutes, open the oven. Switch the upper level pan with the lower level pan and bake for another 9 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool about 20-30 minutes. Carefully “peel” macarons from the baking sheet(s) and place on a wire rack.

Fill as desired. (I used a store-bought can frosting, but you could also use seedless jam or other filling).

(Note: to change the color of your macarons, add a few drops of gel food coloring to the beaten egg white mixture just before folding in powdered sugar and almond flour).


Monday, November 14, 2016

The Joyful Kitchen Holiday issue is HERE!!!

You'll find simple, delicious, must-try recipes in the brand new issue of
  Joyful Kitchen Magazine, just in time for the holidays!

Available in digital download OR in print! 

Give the gift of great recipes this Christmas. Order today!


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Grilled Pineapple Cookie Pie

I saw something on TV the other day about grilled fruit and immediately my wheels started turning. I wanted to create something festive for the holidays using grilled fruit in a dessert. I ran to the store looking for plums, but I think their season has come and gone. So, I scouted around the produce department. Found pineapple and there was my AHA! Moment! Grilled pineapple it is!

Grilled Pineapple Cookie Pie

16.5 oz. tube of prepared sugar cookie dough
1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and sliced 1 inch thick (need 7 to 8 slices)
1 c. orange juice
1 Tbsp. honey
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Dash of ground cloves
10 oz. bag of dark melting chocolate
1 c. prepared cream cheese frosting
(10 to 12) Maraschino cherries, stems removed
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using your hands, press cookie dough evenly and slightly up the sides of springform pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Place pineapple slices in shallow baking dish. Set aside.

Combine orange juice with honey, cinnamon and cloves in sauce pan over low heat. Whisk until honey is dissolved and allow to simmer about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool about 10 minutes.

Pour mixture over pineapple slices.

Meanwhile, spray grill pan with cooking spray and heat on stove top.

Use tongs to place pineapple slices on hot grill pan. Grill on each side about 2-3 minutes until nice grill marks are achieved. Remove pineapple slices to a plate.

Melt chocolate in microwave. Stir until smooth. (TIP: I used a 2-cup measuring cup for the chocolate because you will want the depth rather than width of a normal bowl when dipping the pineapple).

Using tongs, dip each pineapple slice half-way into the chocolate. Carefully place on sheet of wax paper to cool and set. Do the same with remaining slices. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, spread cream cheese frosting over cooled cookie.

Carefully arrange chocolate-dipped pineapple slices overlapping as shown.

Decorate with Maraschino cherries and garnish with sprig of mint (optional)

Unlatch springform pan and carefully transfer to serving plate.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thumb-Press Cookies

Sometimes...you just gotta bake cookies. On good days, not-so-good days, rainy days or "I just want to get away from the internet for awhile" days. Cookies are always a good option.

These little darlings take me right back to my grandmother's kitchen. I remember so many times, especially during the holidays, she'd clear everything off the kitchen table and we'd make a big, beautiful mess. I remember swirls of flour, sprinkles of sugar, rolling pins, the old flour sifter and lots of laughs.

But when we baked cookies, we didn't just make one kind. Nope, we had about 3-4 different kinds of cookies going at once. We shuffled cookie sheets in and out of the oven and I'd very carefully remove them to wire racks to cool...eating a couple along the way. Oohhh, she was so patient with me.

This is the time of year I find myself re-visiting so many sweet memories from holidays past. Grandma's flour sifter, her rolling pin and her cast-iron skillet are among the many treasures that now live in MY kitchen and I still feel her love and gentleness every time I use them.

The recipe for these old-fashioned favorites is simple and uncomplicated, but it's the tradition and fond memories that make it so special.
Thumb-Press Cookies
1 c. butter, room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

Filling (suggestions):
Seedless Jam
Chocolate frosting
Chopped nuts (for outer edges)
Colorful sprinkles (for outer edges)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In large bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until combined and fluffy. Add vanilla extract.

Add flour a little at a time. Mix on medium until fully combined and dough pulls away from the edges of the bowl.

Use a cookie dough scoop to form balls. Place them on silicone-lined baking sheets.

Use your thumb (or spoon) to gently press the centers of each. If filling with jam, carefully spoon seedless jam into the centers of each cookie. (For the chocolate-filled version, I baked them first, allowed them to cool completely, then piped in chocolate frosting).

Bake for 12-15 minutes (just enough to set up. Don't overbake).


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Zucchini Sausage Bites

Hello! My name is Debbie and I'm addicted to these new zucchini sausage bites! I'm definitely breaking out this recipe for Thanksgiving and maybe once or twice before then. Gainey Vineyard's delicious Shallots, Scallions & Leeks Seasoning tips the scales on the flavor meter. These are absolutely delicious and are the perfect hors d' oeuvres for family gatherings this holiday season. 

Zucchini Sausage Bites

1 lb. bulk pork sausage (I used Jimmy Dean)
2 Zucchini, shredded (using cheese grater, about 2 cups)
1 ½ c. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 eggs, beaten
¾ c. Italian Bread crumbs
3 Tbsp. Gainey Vineyard Shallots, Scallions & Leeks Seasoning
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°

Spray mini-muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.

Cook sausage in large skillet over medium heat breaking up large chunks as it browns. Drain and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.

In large bowl combine shredded zucchini, grated cheese, bread crumbs and Gainey Vineyard seasoning. Add cooked sausage.

Stir in beaten eggs.

Add bread crumbs and stir well to fully incorporate all ingredients.

Use a cookie dough scoop to scoop out zucchini mixture into mini-muffin tin.

Place in preheated oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes. Yield about 32 mini muffins.

>>>This is a great hors d’oeuvre for holiday gatherings!


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Beef with Noodles and Vegetables

So, THIS is one of those things I had to stop eating so I would have enough for the photo! I put this recipe together using Gainey Vineyard's Pear Balsamic Vinegar and it completely transforms this basic sauce from good to WOW! No kidding. As per dear husband's request, I WILL be making (and devouring this one again....and again....and again). Definitely a winner.

Beef with Noodles and Vegetables

1 ½ - 2 lb. flank steak, sliced in 1-inch strips
2 Tbsp. corn starch
1 tsp. garlic powder
4 Tbsp. cold water
1 Tbsp. Sesame oil
1 Tbsp. Canola oil
½ c. low-Sodium Soy Sauce
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 ½ Tbsp. light brown sugar
2 ½ Tbsp. Gainey Vineyard Pear Balsamic Vinegar
1 med. carrot, sliced thinly
1 med. zucchini, sliced thinly
1 c. broccoli florets
Sesame seeds (optional)
10 oz. pkg of Chinese noodles

Place beef strips in a large bowl.

In smaller bowl, stir together corn starch and garlic powder in water until dissolved. Pour over beef strips. Turn meat over to coat each piece with corn starch mixture.

Heat sesame and canola oils in skillet over medium heat. Add meat to the hot skillet and cook until each strip is browned using tongs to turn.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, combine soy sauce, ground ginger, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. Use a whisk to fully incorporate ingredients. Set aside.

Pour about 4-5 cups water in medium-large pot. Heat to boiling and cook noodles according to package instructions.

Place sliced carrots, zucchini and broccoli in small plastic bowl. Add about a cup of water to bowl. Partially cover and microwave on high for about 3-4 minutes.

Once all meat is browned, remove each piece to a plate and drain remaining juices from the pan.

Return the meat to the skillet and pour soy sauce mixture over the top. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Let simmer for about 30 minutes or until beef is tender.

To serve: place a good amount of drained noodles in serving bowl. Spoon steamed vegetables over noodles. Add several strips of beef over vegetables and spoon desired amount of sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.


Friday, October 28, 2016

Caramel Apple Pull Apart

So, really.....nothing screams FALL like Granny Smith apples, pecans, caramel sauce and cinnamon, right? Well, this little goody has it all. Warning - if you're counting calories (and sugar content), you might want to bypass this one and head for the carrot sticks instead. But, if your week has been one for the record books, then this dreamy, delicious caramel apple pull apart will certainly be the perfect hug on a plate. (It's all about moderation, anyway).

Caramel Apple Pull-Apart

2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 c. pecans, roughly chopped
12.25 oz. jar of caramel sauce (ice cream topping)
2 13oz. tubes of prepared cinnamon rolls (8 rolls each)
1 tsp. lemon juice
½ c. butter, melted
1 c. granulated sugar
1 ½ Tbsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°

Spray inside of a Bundt cake pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Place apple pieces in medium bowl. Toss with lemon juice.

Add chopped pecans.

Pour caramel sauce over apples and use a spatula to stir and mix well making sure to coat apples and evenly distribute. Pour caramel apple mixture into Bundt cake pan and spread evenly.

Cut each cinnamon roll into fourths. (Tip: I stacked one cinnamon roll on top of the other. Slice through both in half and then in fourths).

Place all cinnamon pieces in bowl of melted butter. Use spatula to turn over and coat all pieces.

Pour sugar and cinnamon in 1-gallon plastic bag and either whisk or gently shake to distribute evenly.

Pour cinnamon roll pieces in plastic bag, seal the bag and shake to coat each piece.
Pour cinnamon roll pieces over top of apple mixture in Bundt cake pan. Place on middle rack in preheated oven.

Bake 35-37 minutes. Let it cool about 20-30 minutes before turning out on round dish.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Best-Ever Broccoli Cheese Soup

You will LOVE this thick, rich soup on a chilly fall evening. Great with sandwiches or wraps OR just a really big spoon! A great addition to your soup and sandwich night :) 

I created this recipe using Gainey Vineyard's Italian Seasoning and you'll be so proud of me because I did not add any additional salt. Gainey's Italian Seasoning is loaded with great flavor and there was already enough salt in the ham and the cheese. Also, I opted for reduced fat milk instead of heavy cream with this recipe. :)

Best-Ever Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 medium head of broccoli, cut into chunks leaving about half of stem with each floret
1 medium carrot, diced
2 Tbsp. butter
½ red onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
½ tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 c. cooked ham, diced
16 oz. pkg of processed cheese, cut into chunks (yes, the kind in the box) J
2 c. milk (I used 2% reduced fat)

Place chopped broccoli and diced carrots in small sauce pot. Fill about half-way with water. Bring to boil. Partially cover with lid and allow to cook at a low boil for about 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Return broccoli and carrots to pot.

Use a potato masher to mash broccoli and carrots leaving some pieces larger than others. Set aside.

Meanwhile, melt butter in larger pot. Add diced onion and celery and sprinkle with pepper. Cook and stir over medium low heat until onions are opaque (about 5 minutes).

Sprinkle flour over onions and celery. Cook and stir about 8 minutes. Stir in diced ham.

Add cheese and milk. Keep the heat at medium low to avoid scorching. Stir until cheese is melted.

Once cheese is melted, stir in Italian seasoning.

Add broccoli and carrot mixture and stir well to combine all ingredients. Cover and simmer for at least 20 minutes (but don’t let it boil). Serve hot.

(NOTE: this is sort of a thick soup, but if you’d prefer it a little thinner, just add a little more milk until you reach the desired consistency).