Regular readers of Cooks’ Corner know that I often look to a list of monthly “specials” when I am deciding which type of recipes to feature during a particular week.  Some months are overloaded with ideas, while others are sorely lacking.  April falls in the latter category, having only three designations.  However, one of those is “National Food Month.”  Since pretty much all of my recipes deal with food, I can easily handle that one.  Then again, the subject is so broad that it makes it hard to narrow down.

Last week, I provided several new recipes.  This week, I went through my list of past offerings and chose some that, according to my records, have only appeared in Cooks’ Corner one time, only making one exception. The selections weren’t just random; I picked from different food categories.  My purpose in doing so was to create a meal plan.  Now comes the dilemma (for me) – after going back and reading what I wrote about them, they sound so good that I want to make them all.  I have to remember that now there is only one person in my house and I certainly do not need to eat all that food.  Besides, leftovers from Easter occupy my refrigerator, and it is not necessary to add to them.

Orange Almond Salad with its topping of Pineapple Vinaigrette makes a good starting point.  Follow it with Sweet and Sour Pot Roast, accompanied by Green Beans Caesar and Buttermilk Herb-Mashed Potatoes.  (The potato recipe may need to be doubled or tripled.)  Add Multigrain Bread to the menu.  For dessert, Sunshine Cake rounds out the dinner nicely.  Without further ado, here are the recipes:

Orange-Almond Salad

2/3 cup sliced almonds

1/3 cup sugar

8 cups mixed salad greens

1 (15-ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained and chilled

Pineapple Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Cook almonds and sugar in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, stirring often, 5 to 7 minutes or until almonds are browned and sugar is melted.  Spoon onto wax paper; cool. Break into small pieces.  Toss together salad greens, oranges, almonds, and vinaigrette. 

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Pineapple Vinaigrette

1/4 cup unsweetened pineapple juice frozen concentrate, thawed

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons extra-light olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

Place all ingredients in a small mixing bowl.  Whisk briskly until well combined.  If you have an immersion blender, it works extremely well for this recipe.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator; whisk before serving.

Sweet and Sour Pot Roast

1 (4-pound) eye of round roast (I used a top round roast)

1 tablespoon canola or olive oil

1 medium-sized sweet onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Brown roast on all sides in hot oil in a large Dutch oven.  Add onion and remaining ingredients.

Bake, covered, at 300 degrees for 3 hours or until tender.  Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

Green Beans Caesar

1-1/2 pounds fresh green beans
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon minced onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Paprika (optional)

Prepare and cook beans; cut into 1-inch pieces. Toss beans, oil, vinegar, onion, salt, garlic and pepper. Pour into ungreased 1-quart casserole.

Mix bread crumbs, cheese and butter; sprinkle over beans. Sprinkle with paprika. Cook uncovered in 350 degree oven until heated through, 15-20 minutes. Yield: 4-6 servings.

2 (9-ounce) packages frozen cut green beans cooked and drained can be substituted for the fresh green beans.

Buttermilk-Herb Mashed Potatoes

4 medium round potatoes (red or white), peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

1 clove garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon butter
2 tablespoons nonfat buttermilk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Place potato in a small saucepan and cover with water; add 1/2 teaspoon salt, if desired. Add garlic. Bring to a boil; cook until the potato is tender. Drain; add butter and buttermilk, and mash with a potato masher to the desired consistency. Stir in herbs. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Makes 2 servings.

Multigrain Bread

1 cup water

1 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup olive or canola oil

1/2 cup oats (old-fashioned or quick-cooking)

1/3 cup wheat germ

1/3 cup unprocessed bran

5 to 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 packages quick-rise yeast

2 teaspoons salt

1 egg

For topping: 1 egg, wheat germ or oats

Heat water, yogurt and oil to simmering.  Stir in oats, wheat germ, and bran.  Set aside until cooled to very warm (120 to 130 degrees).

In large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, brown sugar, undissolved yeast, and salt.  Add cooled bran mixture; blend well.  Stir in 1 egg and enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.  Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes.  Cover; let rest on floured surface 10 minutes.

Divide dough in half.  Roll each half to 12-by-7-inch rectangle.  Beginning at short end of each, roll up tightly as for jelly roll.  Pinch seams and ends to seal.  Place, seam sides down, in two greased 8-1/2-by-4-inch loaf pans.  Cover; let rise until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.

With very sharp knife, make 3 diagonal slashes (1/4-inch deep) on each loaf.  Lightly beat egg for topping; brush on loaves.  Sprinkle with wheat germ or oats.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until done.  Remove from pans; let cool on wire racks.  Makes 2 loaves.

Sunshine Cake


3 cups sugar   

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon soda

1/2 cup apricot nectar

1 cup sour cream

1 cup butter, softened

6 eggs

1 teaspoon each orange extract, lemon extract, vanilla extract


3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup apricot nectar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon butter flavoring

1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

Cake: Preheat oven to 325-degrees F.  Grease and lightly flour a 10-inch tube pan with removable bottom.  In mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour, salt, baking soda, apricot nectar, sour cream, butter, eggs and extracts.  Mix all ingredients with electric mixer, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, checking after 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 20 min. and remove cake from pan. 

Meanwhile, prepare glaze:

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, stirring well.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 1 to 2 minutes.  Brush on cake immediately after removing from pan.

Cool completely on wire rack.  Makes 10-12 servings.