Monthly Archives: November 2009

Quick and Easy: Chicken-Cashew Stir-Fry

I’ve been doing this for many years now, first with my web-based business and now in the blog. My goal has been to make cooking easy. So if the impulse is to reach for fast-food or prepared food, you’ll have an alternative. Quick, easy, tasty meals made with healthy ingredients.  Most of the recipes I post here are far from gourmet, but tasty, nutritious and easy to prepare.  Fool-proof for people who want to cook, but are unsure of their skills.  I hope I’ve succeeded.

Now the holiday madness is in full swing and cooking dinner becomes even more of a challenge. So over the next few weeks I’ll be putting up some of my quickest recipes and tips for quick meals. I’ll start with this 15-minute stir-fry.

Chicken-Cashew Stir-Fry

  • ½ cup boiling water
  • ½ tsp chicken bouillon
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 3 boneless chicken thighs, cubed
  • 16 oz bag frozen stir fry vegetables (usually a broccoli, carrot, snow pea mix)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • ¾ cup whole cashews

wok or deep skillet

Dissolve bouillon in boiling water, mix together with soy sauce, let cool & add cornstarch, mix well. Set aside. Heat 1 tbsp oil in wok, add chicken and stir-fry quickly, 5 – 7 minutes, move to one side. Add remaining oil and vegetables and stir-fry additional 5 minutes. Mix chicken, vegetable and soy mixture, bring to a boil 1 minute, reduce heat and let simmer 2-4 minutes. Serve over rice or with rice noodles.

If you don’t have a wok, don’t let that slow you down. Some well-known chefs dislike them completely, feeling that with our modern stovetops, they do not heat up properly and a deep skillet is a better choice. I’ve been known to use whichever I grab first from the cabinet. What I do find invaluable is a thin wooden spatula that I couldn’t cook without. I’d like to have 5, but haven’t found but one of these ultra-thin tools. I keep looking, so eventually I will find more.


This had me laughing out loud….

I wish I’d stumbled on it before I posted my Cranberry Recipe, because this is just awesome.  Funny (and bit R-rated), this is how to cook something fun and STOP STRESSING ABOUT IT. 

From Wonkette, a Totally Awesome Cranberry Recipe:

No first lady could even fucking imagine making something as wonderful and perfect as your editor’s famous Wonkette’s Actual Awesome Real Cranberry Business. It is one of those things that just blows people away, because they assume it must be so hard to make real cranberry relish because why else would we eat that Jell-o’d aspic glob from the can? IT MUST BE SO HARD. No, it isn’t, so stop whining about everything, for once.

This dish takes exactly three minutes to prepare, and another 10 or 15 minutes in the oven, and you don’t even have to think about it. Pre-heat the oven, prepare the cranberries, “slide in the pyrex,” as they say, and just turn the fucking oven off, go outside, have a cigarette.    More here….

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve started my holiday baking already.  In the oven at the moment are Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies.  They’re easy and just a touch above regular chocolate chip cookies. 

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds or peanuts), chopped

mixing bowl and cookie sheet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream together butter and sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well.  Sift together salt, soda, flour and cocoa, then add to butter mixture, blending well.  Add nuts and chocolate chips.  Spoon onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Cool on cooling rack.

Happy Thanksgiving

I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.  I hope you get to spend it in a way that makes you smile.  There will be no Thursday Night Menu, because I think there will be enough leftover turkey to get you through the weekend.  I’ll be back with that next week.  Have fun, be safe and enjoy the feast.  – TaMara

Lane Cake, Part Two

I was going to do a bit more blogging on cooking turkeys and some holiday sides, but I got sidetracked by a Lane Cake.  I wrote about it in Food In Fiction, but had never made it.  A friend asked me if I would make one for her, and since I owed her big time, it seemed the least I could do.  Thus started my adventure.  It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, but it is far from a simple confectionary.  Here’s the recipe as I made it, a bit tweaked from several I found.  I wish I could have found the original recipe from Emma Lane, but couldn’t.  Though there is rumor it can be found in a southern cookbook, I had no luck finding it.  But what recipe I cobbled together seems to have worked, so I’ll pass it on.  And for those who know To Kill a Mockingbird, yes there is enough ‘shiny in it’  to make you tipsy.  My shiny was in the form of brandy,  your choice may vary.

Lane Cake


  • ¾ cup vegetable oil or butter
  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cups sifted flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup brandy or whisky
  • 3 beaten egg whites

Four 9-inch pie tins, oiled and floured

Cream together oil, sugar and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture and mix until blended. Add water and brandy and mix for 2 minutes on medium. Gently fold in egg whites until mixed in, but don’t over mix or the eggs will deflate. Use ladle to evenly pour into 4 9-inch pie pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until center springs back. Cool thoroughly on racks.


  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup melted and cooled butter
  • 1 cup chopped raisins
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup brandy or whisky
  • ½ tsp vanilla


In saucepan mix together eggs and sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly for 6 minutes. Do not let boil. Add chopped pecans and raisins and cook for 1 minute. Add brandy and vanilla, cook another minute. Set aside to cool.


  • 1 cup butter, melted and cool
  • 3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp brandy or milk (add more as needed)

Mix until smooth and fluffy.


Once cake is fully cooled, place on layer on the serving plate. Add 1/3 of the filling, spread evenly. Repeat for remaining layers and then frost.

For My Brothers: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I found out something about my brothers recently.  While I was away at college they were at home devouring our neighbor’s homemade Whoopie Pies.  I had no idea what they were until the same neighbor showed up at my youngest brother’s wedding last week with a tray full of these pies.  They were devoured before I could even get a taste.  As luck would have it, in my email last week came this gem from author Janet Evanovich:

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Cake Part:
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cups chilled canned 100% pure pumpkin
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Parchment paper for lining the baking sheet
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.
In a second bowl mix the brown sugar and oil until well combined.  Add the pumpkin and mix thoroughly.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Mix until thoroughly combined.  Slowly add flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture, mixing until completely combined. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto parchment paper.  Leave 1 inch between cookies. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool on pan.  Cookies need to be completely cool before filling.
Middle Filling:
  • 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups marshmallow fluff
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
In mixing bowl, beat all ingredients at medium speed until smooth and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Spread filling on the flat half of one cake, and top with another cake to make a whoopie pie.
Enjoy!  Meanwhile, I’ll try to get Pat’s super secret recipe for her chocolate whoopie pies.  xoxo

Thanksgiving Table: Squash Soup

Need to keep everyone out of the kitchen while you finish up dinner prep?  Set up a buffet table with a raw vegetable tray and dip, a bowl of nuts (in their shells) along with a couple of nutcrackers and this soup in a slowcooker to keep it warm and that should keep your guests occupied while you cook.

Winter Squash Soup

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3-1/4 pounds butternut or acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cut into large pieces
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 carrot, quartered
  • 1 celery stalk, quartered
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 4 cups chicken broth*
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Chopped chives (for garnish)

Large sauce pan

Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the squash, onions, carrot, celery and garlic; sauté until slightly softened, about 15 minutes. Add the chicken broth, apple juice, thyme and sage. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from stove. Puree the vegetables until smooth with a hand blender or in batches in the food processor or blender. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if desired.

***Soup can be made to this point 1 day ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator.***

Return soup to pot and bring to a simmer. Add the sherry and simmer about 2 minutes. Stir in the cream, sour cream and nutmeg until well combined. Place soup into large soup tureen and garnish with chives. Place on appetizer table with small bowls & spoons and let everyone help themselves.

*or substitute 4 cups water and 4 tsp (4 cubes) chicken bouillon.

What’s 4 Dinner Solutions’ Website Update, pt. 2

So when I revamped the What’s 4 Dinner Solutions‘ website last month, there was an error in my coding for the pay buttons.  So if you placed an order and it didn’t go through or you didn’t hear from me, that’s why.  Try again or email me.  Sorry for the inconvenience it may have caused and thanks to the members who let me know of the issue. 

Later tonight, another Thanksgiving menu item.  Until then….

Thanksgiving Table: Apple Cranberry Walnut Crisp

One last recipe with cranberries. This is a simple recipe that is great with ice cream and is a great substitute for apple pie if you don’t have the time to make one.

Apple-Cranberry-Walnut Crisp

  • 3 Granny Smith or Braeburn apples, cored & sliced (peeling opt)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup whole raw cranberries, washed
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup flour

8×8 glass baking dish, lightly greased

small mixing bowl

Place apples, cinnamon, cranberries, nuts and ¼ cup sugar in baking dish, mix well.

In mixing bowl, cream butter and remaining sugar, add flour and oats, mix until crumbly. Crumble over the apple mixture.

Bake at 375° for 20-30 minutes until top is golden brown and apples are tender. Let cool completely before serving.

Thanksgiving Table: Cranberry Sauce

I love cranberries and I love cranberry sauce with whole cranberries.  The only problem is the amount of high fructose corn syrup in canned versions.  I’d never made my own until a few days ago, I think because in my head I thought it was complicated.

Those of you who have made it can stop laughing now.   Thank you.

It couldn’t be simpler and fun to make (mostly because the cranberries pop as they cook).  Here’s a basic recipe to get you started:

Cranberry Sauce

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup water or unsweetened cranberry juice (100% cranberry juice)
  • 3/4 cup to 1 cup sugar
  • 12 oz (1 bag) whole, raw cranberries


Wash cranberries. Bring juice and water to a boil, add sugar and stir until sugar dissolves, then add cranberries, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, no more.  Remove to a tempered glass dish or mold, cover and refrigerate for 12 hours.  What you’ll have is a nice thick cranberry sauce with whole cranberries.  You can add different things for a variety of sauces:  pecans, orange rind, apples, walnuts, blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, currants.