Sauteed Green Beans with Feta

This is a great, healthy side dish prepared in just a few minutes. You don't even have to measure anything!
I love to use Costco's frozen petite whole green beans.

Just imagine...crisp-tender green beans with creamy feta on top...

Olive oil
Small onion, chopped (or 1/2 of a medium; I like to use red onions)
A few handfuls of fresh or frozen green beans
Salt & Pepper, to taste (I've also used different garlic/herb seasoning blends)
Feta cheese (small handful, depending on how many green beans you're using)

Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Throw in chopped onion and cook until onions begin to soften.  Throw in green beans & saute until crisp-tender. Add in your favorite seasonings and crumble a small handful of feta cheese over beans; stir until melted (it only takes a few seconds). Remove from heat, place in a serving dish, and sprinkle a little extra feta cheese on top.


Almond Sheet Cake with Butter Frosting

Presenting:  Almond and Butter...
in bringing you a
delightfully sweet,
finger lickin'--
yet sophisticated--
absolutely scrumptious

 Perfect for all those baby showers, bridal showers, luncheons, 
even wedding receptions--yes, my mother made an innumerable amount of these (among plenty of other treats!) for my wedding reception and people are still talking about it (almost 4 years later).

The soft, moist almond cake topped with delectable butter frosting & crunchy almonds is, well, irresistible (I'd like to see anyone walk by a piece on the counter and not take a bite...).
The cake will even freeze perfectly for up to three months (see below for freezing instructions)!

...Umm, did I mention this is amazingly delectable?  Try it.

Almond Sheet Cake with Butter Frosting
From my mother
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

1 cup butter
1 cup water
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp almond extract
sliced almonds, for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour a 15 x 11 jelly roll pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients and set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine butter and water--bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Add to flour mixture and stir to combine.
Stir in sour cream, beaten eggs, and almond extract.
Pour into prepared pan and bake 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Spread warm (not hot) cake with butter frosting (recipe below).  Sprinkle with sliced almonds.  Cut into squares and serve.

*Notes:  I don't make the frosting until I'm ready to frost the cake (it will start to harden if it sits).  I also sprinkle the almonds on top while the frosting is still warm so they'll stay in place.

Butter Frosting
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk (the higher the fat content, the richer it will taste)
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 cups powdered sugar

In medium saucepan, combine butter and milk.  Bring to a soft boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, and remove from heat as soon as it boils.  Whisk in almond extract, then gradually whisk in powdered sugar until smooth.  Frost warm almond cake.

*To Freeze:  Wrap cooled, un-frosted cake (still in the pan) in two layers of plastic wrap, then a layer of foil.  Will keep for up to 3 months!  Allow to thaw and frost before serving.


Fresh Cranberry Sauce

I love how spring gives me that new beginning/fresh start feeling!
Among my efforts to spring-clean around the house, I'm also going through my computer and deleting any unneeded items.
Happily, I came upon these pictures of the cranberry sauce I made for Thanksgiving last year...

It was delicious and went perfectly with our stuffing and turkey.
So I thought I'd post it before I forgot again--better late than never!
I love cooking the fresh cranberries and listening to them "pop" on the stove.

(Note:  This was taken near the beginning; it looks mushier when it's done cooking)
(Not sure where the recipe came from...one of those I wrote down years ago without a source.)
*Can be made two days ahead and stored in refrigerator*

New Cranberry Sauce
Makes 12 servings (1/4-cup each)
Source Unknown

1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 12-oz bag fresh cranberries
1 cup 100% pomegranate or cranberry juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 medium apple (or persimmon), peeled/cored and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
rosemary sprig

In a large saucepan, saute onion and garlic in hot oil over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes, or until onions begin to soften.  Add cranberries, pomegranate juice, sugar, and ginger.  Bring to boil; then reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 16-17 minutes, or until mixture is just thickened.  Remove from heat.  Stir in apple.  May serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled (cover and refrigerate up to 48 hours).  Top sauce with a rosemary sprig.  


Barley and Wild Rice Pilaf

I failed when I made this...

but only because I neglected to grab a picture of it before it was DEVOURED.  Ha.
Everything else about this recipe is an epic win.

Just imagine a nutty bite of chewy wild rice with barley
among wholesome and colorful bits of vegetables.

It's invigorating, I tell you.

This will be my side-dish-contribution to barbeques this summer!

*Note:  feel free to switch up the vegetables using whatever you have on hand

Wild Rice and Barley Pilaf
From my mother
Serves 8

2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup uncooked pearl barley
1/2 cup uncooked wild rice (rinsed, if needed)
5 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth (use vegetable broth to make it vegetarian)
2 large bell peppers, chopped (red and yellow make it colorful)
4 oz fresh mushrooms, chopped (I like baby portobello)
1 cup peas (thawed if frozen)
1 cup shredded carrot
2 tsp dried oregano (or 2 Tbsp fresh, added at end)
salt, pepper, & garlic powder, to taste

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until tender (8-10 minutes).  Add barley, rice, and garlic.  Cook and stir for 1 minute.
Stir in broth.  Turn up heat and bring to a boil; then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer about 1 hour or until barley and rice are tender.
Heat remaining 1 Tbsp oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add bell peppers, mushrooms, peas, carrot, and oregano.  Cook and stir 5-6 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  
Combine vegetable mixture with rice mixture; season with salt/pepper/garlic powder.  May serve warm or cold!
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