Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Ashley's Cafe is moving to a new location!

You can find all my recipes at my new WordPress blog: Ashley's Cafe. I was able to keep my name!

It's a work in progress, but it's good progress. :o)

Hope to "see" you there!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Jalapeño Pineapple Pork Chops

1 pkg. pork chops
olive oil spray
salt & pepper to taste

1 Tbsp. butter
1 can crushed pineapple, including juice
2 fresh jalapeño peppers, diced

Make a reduction sauce: Melt butter in saucepan until bubbling. Add pineapple and jalapeños. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until liquid is gone.

While sauce is reducing, brown pork chops in skillet until cooked through.

When jalapeño pineapple "sauce" is ready, pour over pork chops.

Serve over rice.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Crock Pot Chicken

It's a pretty generic name, but it's some really good stuff. And I'm surprised I haven't added this recipe before! It's an old stand-by from my mama's kitchen, with a few tweaks...

3-4 large chicken breasts, frozen
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 packet Lipton onion soup mix
1 medium onion, sliced
1 package fresh mushrooms, washed and quartered
1/2 c. water

Put all ingredients in Crock Pot and cook on high for 3 hours, then reduce heat to low for another 4-5 hours. Stir occasionally to mix ingredients. Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sugar Cookies

This is an old family recipe that I grew up eating. They aren't your usual soft, chewy cookie; they're crisp - and perfect with a morning cup of hot chocolate. :o)

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter (or margarine)
1 c. sugar
1 medium egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking powder
2 c. flour, sifted
colored sugar sprinkles

Cream together butter and sugar. Blend in egg and vanilla, then baking powder. Stir flour into mixture a few spoonfuls at a time. (By the end of the flour, you may need to work the dough with your hands...) Chill.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll some dough onto floured mat and cut with cookie cutters. Sprinkle with colored sugar, if desired. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool on cooling rack before storing.

*You can make these a little softer by rolling your dough thicker and baking for 8 minutes. For crisper cookies, roll your dough thin and bake slightly longer.

*I've never iced cookies, but I'm sure it would work fine on these. It would probably be easier on thicker, softer cookies than the thinner, crisper ones.

*You don't need to grease your cookie sheet since there's a good bit of butter in the dough. Just don't let the cookies cool to the pan or they will stick.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Homemade Pasta Sauce

I learned how to make this when I read How to Cook Without a Book by Pam Anderson (no, that's not Pamela Anderson...) several months ago. After I read the recipe, I realized that's basically what I did with store-bought sauce. I never used it straight from the jar; I always doctored it up. I also realized it's cheaper to buy crushed tomatoes and tweak it than to buy name-brand sauce and tweak it, too.

I do adjust it according to what ingredients I have on hand, but it's basically the same.

Meat Sauce
1 medium onion, diced
1 small bell pepper, diced, optional
1 lb. ground beef or Italian sausage (removed from casings)
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, pressed
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced or quartered, optional
Italian seasoning to taste
* brown sugar to taste, optional
salt and pepper

Brown onion, bell pepper, and meat in large saucepan until cooked through. Drain grease, but leave some in the pan - say whatever sticks to the bottom and sides. (You need some fat or your sauce will have a bland, tomatoey taste.)

Return meat mixture to pan and add crushed tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms, and seasonings.

* Add brown sugar to taste. (Since we like a sweet sauce, I usually add a small handful, let it simmer a few minutes, then taste to see if I need more. If you're using Italian sausage in your sauce, don't add as much brown sugar since the sausage adds some sweetness. If you like a zestier sauce, omit the brown sugar.)

Simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over hot pasta.

Meatless Sauce
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 small bell pepper, diced, optional
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, pressed
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced or quartered, optional
Italian seasoning to taste
* brown sugar to taste, optional
salt and pepper

Saute onion and pepper in oil for 2-3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms, seasonings, and brown sugar (optional). Simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over hot pasta.

** If you like a spicier sauce, you can add 1/4 tsp. (or more, depending on taste) of red pepper flakes.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cherry Limeade

One year for Teacher Appreciation Week, when I was teaching middle school at Trinity Heights Christian Academy, one of the moms made us the best cherry limeade I've ever had! I've made it several times since then and it's always been a big hit.

1 can frozen limeade concentrate
1 liter of Sprite
1/4 c. maraschino cherry juice
maraschino cherries (preferably with stems)
1 lime, sliced

Combine limeade concentrate with Sprite, following amount directed on can, and cherry juice. Mix well.

Serve over ice (crushed is great!) with one or two cherries and a slice of lime.

*If you like Sonic's cherry limeade, you'll LOVE this one! It's not as syrupy sweet and has a good kick to it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dessert Quesadillas

Following a basic technique, you can make all sorts of delicious dessert quesadillas. So far, we've made some with pear preserves and with cream cheese and cinnamon apples (my favorite so far!).

flour tortillas
olive oil or butter
filling combinations: fruit and cream cheese, fruit and nutella, nutella and cream cheese, peanut butter with honey and bananas, etc.
complimentary toppings: chocolate syrup, cinnamon apple drippings, powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, etc.

Heat skillet over medium heat. Spray lightly with olive oil or melt a little butter to prevent sticking.

Spread cream cheese, nutella, or peanut butter on one side of tortilla. Place other side down in the skillet. Add fillings to half the tortilla, then fold over with a spatula. Let brown lightly, then flip to the other side to brown. Remove from skillet and add desired topping(s). Serve hot. (Some combinations go well with ice cream.)

Filling/topping suggestions (though the possibilities are endless...):
* cinnamon apples with cream cheese/cinnamon sugar and cinnamon apple drippings
* peanut butter and honey with bananas (cream cheese optional)/honey and powdered sugar
* bananas with nutella/chocolate syrup
* strawberries with cream cheese/powdered sugar
* peaches with cream cheese/powdered sugar
* blueberries with cream cheese/powdered sugar
* strawberries and bananas with nutella/chocolate syrup
* nutella with chopped almonds or pecans and coconut/chocolate syrup

If you don't want to use fresh fruit, you can cook some down with a little sugar and butter to make a pie-like filling for them.


A Greek friend of mine had her sister teach a group of us how to make baklava. It's not too hard a process, just a long one, but the end result is well worth the time!

1 lb. pecans, walnuts, almonds, or pistachios, finely chopped
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 lb. phyllo dough
1 lb. butter, melted

3 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 c. honey

Combine the chopped nuts with the 1/2 c. sugar and the cinnamon; set aside.

Open box of phyllo, placing the thin dough sheets on a sheet of parchment or wax paper. Cover the dough with another sheet of wax paper, and cover that with a damp towel to keep the dough moist.

Line the bottom of a buttered 9x12 pan with 10-12 sheets of phyllo, brushing each sheet with melted butter as you go.

Sprinkle the top of the 10-12 sheets with a thin layer of the nut mixture.

Cover with 3 more phyllo sheets, brushing each sheet with melted butter; sprinkle with more nut mixture. Repeat once more, making a total of 3 nut mixture layers.

Cover with remaining phyllo, brushing each sheet with butter.

Chill for 25 minutes; make syrup: Combine 3 c. sugar, water, and lemon juice in medium saucepan. Boil for 10 minutes. Slowly add honey and simmer an additional 5 minutes. Let cool completely while baklava bakes. (*The syrup must be cool when you pour it over the hot baklava.)

Cut the uncooked pastry into small diamond shapes by cutting lengthwise strips, then diagonal strips. Brush with melted butter.

Bake at 325 degrees for about an hour and a half, or until slightly browned.

Remove from oven, recut along original cut marks, then slowly pour syrup over the hot baklava until it is completely absorbed. You may not need all the syrup.

Cool baklava completely before serving.

Since the baklava is preserved with honey, it will last at room temperature in a tightly closed container for several days, but it's best to refrigerate unused portions. Baklava can be refrigerated for several weeks.

Optional: Whole cloves can be stuck into each diamond shape before baking. Be sure they are removed before serving.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cheesy Serrano Sour Cream Sauce

One of my neighbors gave me a paper sack with a few handfuls of serrano peppers inside. I'd never used them before, so I did a little research. On the Scoville Scale, serranos are about 5 times hotter than jalapenos. That had me a little concerned, but I was still game to try them. Since we have a good supply of Chicken Enchiladas in the freezer, I decided to bake some for supper and make a spicy cream sauce to top them. And so this sauce was made from my imagination.

2-3 serrano peppers, seeded and finely diced
†2/3 c. sour cream (full fat)
†2/3 c. shredded Mexican blend cheese

†Measurements are rough estimates. I "eyeballed" amounts.

Heat peppers and sour cream over low heat, stirring frequently. Once warm, stir in cheese, stirring frequently until melted. Top enchiladas with sauce and additional shredded cheese.

If you don't have serrano peppers, jalapenos will also work.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sausage with Fried Cabbage and Onions

1 pkg. link sausage (I like to use the John Morrell brand. It's skinless and very tender.)
1 medium onion
1 bag shredded coleslaw mix or 1 medium head cabbage, coarsely shredded
salt and pepper to taste

Heat large skillet over medium heat.

Slice sausage in half lengthwise, then into 1/4-inch pieces. Cut onion into 1/4- to 1/2-inch wedges. Cook together in skillet until sausage begins to brown; add about 1 Tbsp. butter.

When onion begins to turn clear, add cabbage and salt and pepper. Add more butter as needed to keep food from burning. Saute 3 or 4 minutes or until cabbage cooks down and starts to turn clear.

Serve hot with cornbread.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas

4-5 chicken breasts, boiled and torn into bite-size pieces
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cans sliced mushrooms
1 can chopped green chilies
1 16-oz. container sour cream
1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 1/2 c. shredded sharp cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
25 small flour tortillas (or 15 large ones)

In a large bowl, combine chicken, soups, mushrooms, chilies, sour cream, jalapeno, and cheese. Mix well. Put about 2 Tbsp. filling (or more if using larger tortillas) on one side of tortilla, then roll. (Wrap individually in wax paper, then place in freezer bag to freeze.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes if thawed, 35 minutes if frozen.

Top with sour cream and shredded cheese or salsa.

Makes about 20 enchiladas, depending on tortilla size and how much filling you use for each.

*Tip: Freeze your leftover chicken broth for use in other recipes. You can season your broth by cooking onion, pepper, and celery trimmings with your chicken. This is much healthier than store-bought broth, which tends to be high in sodium.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Potato Chip Chicken

I found the original recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook I got when Billy and I got married in '92. I've since tweaked it to fit our preferences.

3-4 chicken breasts, cut into smaller pieces,
OR 6-8 chicken tenders
1 1/2 c. finely crushed potato chips in the flavor of your choice
1/2 c. milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Dip chicken pieces in milk, then coat with potato chips. Arrange pieces on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.

*I've used barbecue chips, regular potato chips and added my own seasoning, and Sun Chips for coatings, and they've all been delicious. Doritos would work well, too.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Peperoncini Roast

1 3-lb. round roast
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 16-oz. jar peperoncini peppers, with juice
2 pkgs. Good Seasonings Italian Dressing Mix
1/2 c. water

Trim roast as needed. Place in Crock Pot along with onion, peppers, dressing mix, and water. Add about 1/2 the peperoncini juice. Cook on HIGH for 6 hours or until roast shreds easily with fork.

Great complement to veggies and crusty bread! Also great on toasted hamburger buns with a slice of melted provolone cheese.

*Chuck roast can be used, but it typically has a large ribbon of fat running through the middle. It's hard work to cut it out; plus, that fat was included in the price. I like something a little leaner, though it may be a little pricier. In the end, I get more for my money.

*Adding too much of the peperoncini juice can make the roast too tangy. If spice is an issue, use half the peppers, less juice, and more water.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower

I fell in love with roasted cauliflower at Fadi's, a local Mediterranean restaurant. Not long ago, I found it on the buffet at Ali Baba, another Mediterranean eatery. It's better at the buffet because there I can eat my fill! :o)

1 head of cauliflower
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Set oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut cauliflower into 1 1/2-inch size florets; rinse well. Dry with a kitchen towel to absorb moisture; water will keep the cauliflower from browning.

Toss cauliflower florets in a medium bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper, mixing well.

Pour onto a baking sheet and spread evenly. Bake about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even browning. Brown until deep golden spots appear.

*For some extra flavor, try snipping about 7-8 fresh sage leaves into tiny pieces and tossing in with the cauliflower before roasting. Delicious!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


1 1/4 c. nuts (pecans, walnuts, peanuts), broken pieces
3 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 c. almonds, halves or slivers
1/4 c. sunflower seeds

1/3 c. canola oil
1/4 c. real maple syrup
1/4 c. honey

1/2 cup raisins, dried cranberries, or other dried fruit (optional)

Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 325 degrees.

Mix oats, nuts, seeds, and coconut together in large bowl.

Heat maple syrup, honey, and oil in small saucepan, whisking occasionally until warm.

Pour mixture over dry ingredients; stir with spatula until mixture is thoroughly coated. Turn mixture onto an 11-by-7-inch jelly roll pan, spreading mixture in an even layer.

Bake, stirring and respreading mixture into an even layer every 5-10 minutes, until granola is golden brown. Immediately turn granola onto another jelly roll pan to stop cooking process.

Stir in dried fruit if desired, then spread granola evenly in pan; set on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Loosen dried granola with a spatula; store in airtight container.

*You can use whatever combination of nuts and seeds you like: pecans, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, sesame seeds, etc. Just try to keep the amount of dry ingredients to 5 1/2 c. or the syrup mixture won't provide a good coverage.

*I like to mix 1/4 c. granola with 1 heaping Tbsp. of plain, nonfat yogurt for breakfast.