Archive for Author Lora Murray

Mushroom Risotto


  • 8 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2-ounce dried porcini or shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 ounces white mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or short-grain white rice
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, optional


Bring the broth to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan. Add the porcini or shiitake mushrooms. Set aside until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Keep the broth warm over very low heat.

Melt the butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the white mushrooms and garlic. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the porcini mushrooms to a cutting board. Finely chop the mushrooms and add to the saucepan. Saute until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and let it toast for a few minutes. Add the wine; cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of hot broth; simmer over medium-low heat until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook until the rice is just tender and the mixture is creamy, adding more broth by cupfuls and stirring often, about 28 minutes (the rice will absorb 6 to 8 cups of broth). Stir in the peas. Mix in the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

This serves at least 8 people.


Roasted Habanero Soup


  • 3tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Habenero Pepper (seeds and membrane included)
  • 1 Medium Yellow/White Onion diced
  • 3 TBS Butter
  • 3 TBS Flour
  • ½ cup White Wine (a wine that you would like to drink)
  • 1 QT. Chicken Stock
  • 2 tbs. Thyme
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream


Roast pepper over open flame on gas stove or in a dry pan over medium heat until lightly charred and soften. Remove from flame or pan and set aside (you can chop the pepper once it is cooled). Sauté onion in olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Add thyme and bay leaves to pot. Stir in flour and butter and cook until flour is lightly browned and develops a nutty smell. Add wine and whisk until lumps disappear. Add chicken stock. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add cream and roasted pepper and remove from heat. Puree soup with hand blender or food processor (I like this soup not totally pureed). You can set aside ½ or ¼ of the soup and puree the rest. Add the soup you set aside to the pot.  Season to taste.

Serve with crusty bread. I make this soup for my boss every March for his birthday. It is very hot (spicy) for this is not for the weak of heart.

Valentine Cake Pops


I was thinking of a treat for Valentine’s Day 2012 and thought of what I had in my pantry. I had white and red dipping chocolate in the freezer left from my cake pops I made during Christmas. I also had a chocolate cake mix and canned fudge frosting and a package of double stuffed Oreo Cookies. Easy….Valentine Cake Pops.

I prepared the cake as instructed and cooled. I took 1/2 the cake and divided that in half. Took each 1/4 cake and frosted the cakes with half the canned frosting. I decorated each 1/4 cake and stored for each of my kid’s for them to take home. It is so nice when my kid’s visit that I always make sure I have something for them to take home and what could be better than cake. I buy foil pans in bulk so I always have storeage pans for take home meals. Check on-line for the best price on the size you are looking for. I like the foil pans with the covers included. Foil pans do not need to be returned and they can be recycled. Great for everyone and the environment.

With the rest of the cake I had (1/2 of the 9 x 13 inch cake) I made cake pops.

Cut the cake in half and rub each piece of the cake together over a bowl (this sounds weird but it is any easy way to crumble the cake). Add the remaining half of the canned fudge frosting to the crumbled cake. Mix with a wooden spoon. This takes a little bit of work but be patient. Roll the crumbled cake and frosting mixture into 1 inch balls. I was able to make 36 cake balls. Place on a tray or plate and place in freezer.

Place 10 of the Double Stuffed Oreo cookies into a food processor and pulse until crumbled. Place on a small plate and reserve.

Melt 12 oz. of the chocolate (I used both the white and red dipping chocolate but use whatever chocolate you have; you can also use chocolate chips.) over a double boiler on low heat (sauce pan filled 1/2 full of water with a bowl over the sauce pan with the chocolate). If you never melted chocolate you might what to do some research on the internet. It can be tricky but the double boiler makes it easy. I use the double boiler method to keep the chocolate warm. Once the chocolate is melted remove the sauce pan from the heat. Take out your cake balls from the freezer.

Dip each cake ball into the melted chocolate until covered. I use lollypop sticks when dipping into the chocolate. Roll into the crumbled Oreo Cookies. Set on parchment paper to dry or if using lollypop sticks press into Styrofoam. Store in air tight containers in the refrigerator or freezer for longer storage.



Zesty Guacamole


  • 3-large Avocado’s
  • ½ of a Lime-squeezed and zested
  • 1-Jalapeno Pepper finely diced
  • 1-small Onion finely diced
  • 1-TBS. Sour Cream



With a fork mash Avocado’s to a chunky consistency. Stir in remaining ingredients. Can be refrigerated for a few hours.

Serve with homemade tortilla chips.

Home Made Tortilla Chips


  • 6-large Flour Tortilla Shells
  • 3/4 cup melted Butter
  • ½ tsp. Garlic Salt
  • ½ tsp. Lemon Pepper


Preheat oven to 300°. Melt Butter. Mix in seasoning.


Butter top of 1st shell. Butter top of 2nd shell and place on top of 1st shell. Continue until all shells are buttered. Cut stack of shells into 8ths. Separate shells and place on 2 large cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes or until brown. Watch so they do not burn. Serve with guacamole.

If serving with other dips or salsa you can sprinkle with additional seasoning for added flavor.

Chewy Granola Bars


  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 2/3 cup Peanut Butter
  • ½ cup Karo Syrup
  • ½ cup melted Butter
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla ( I recommend the vanilla from the Spice House-link listed below)
  • 3 cups Oatmeal
  • ½ cup Coconut
  • ½ cup Sunflower Seeds
  • ½ cup Raisins
  • 1/3 cup Wheat Germ
  • 2 TBS. Sesame Seeds
  • 1 cup Miniature Chocolate Chips


Mix together, pat into a 9 x 13 inch pan and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Cut into bars.

Cinnamon-Fruit Chex Mix


  • 5 cup Wheat Chex cereal
  • ½ stick Butter
  • 1/3 cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 TBS. Light Corn Syrup
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Ginger
  • Cayenne Pepper (I like these spicy so start small and add as needed after baking)
  • ½ cup Salted Almonds
  • ½ cup Salted Sunflower Seeds
  • 1 (7 ounce) package Sun-Maid Dried Fruit Bites
  • ½ cup Sun Dried or Golden Raisins



In a large bowl mix cereal, almonds, sunflower seeds, fruit bites and resins. Pour onto a large cookie sheet covered with foil or parchment paper.

In a microwaveable bowl, microwave butter, brown sugar, light corn syrup, cinnamon, ginger and cayenne pepper uncovered on high for about 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Pour over cereal, nuts and fruit. Stir gently to mix. Bake at 275° for 15-20 minutes stirring ½ ways through. Cool and store in an air tight container or freezer bag.


Seasoned Pretzels


  • 1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch Dip mix
  • 2 tsp. Lemon Pepper
  • 1 bottle Orville Reddenbacher Popcorn Oil
  • 2 pounds Pretzels



Mix together Hidden Valley Ranch Dip mix and Lemon Pepper. Place pretzels in a large storage container and pour mix over pretzels. Drizzle popcorn oil over pretzels and mix well.

Continue to stir occasionally for the next 24 hours.


Oyster Crackers



  • 1 cup melted Butter
  • 2 envelope of Hidden Valley Ranch
  • 1/2 tsp. Lemon Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper (I like these spicy so start small and add as needed after baking)
  • 2-12oz Oyster Crackers
  • 1-6.6oz Goldfish Crackers
  • 1-10.3oz can Mixed Nuts



Wisk together Butter, Hidden Valley Ranch, Lemon Pepper, Garlic Salt and Cayenne Pepper. Pour over Oyster Crackers, Goldfish and Nuts stirring gently to coat. Bake at 275° for 15-20 minutes stirring ½ ways through. Also delicious with a sprinkle of dill weed.

Makes approximately 20 cups. Store in air tight container or place in freezer bags and freeze.





Mincemeat Bars


1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened 
1/4 cup shortening 
1 cup packed brown sugar 
1 3/4 cups Gold Medal all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats 
1 jar (28 ounces) prepared mincemeat 
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or almonds

Heat oven to 400°.
Grease baking pan, 13 x 9 x 2 inches.
Mix margarine, shortening and brown sugar.
Stir in flour, salt, baking soda and oats.
Press half of the crumbly mixture in pan.
Mix mincemeat and walnuts; spread over top.
Sprinkle with remaining crumbly mixture, pressing lightly.
Bake until light brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
While warm, make 1 diagonal cut from corner to corner.
Continue cutting parallel to first cut, each about 1 1/2 inches apart.
Repeat, cutting diagonally in opposite direction.
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