Tuesday, December 28, 2010

pasta e fagioli

This recipe is from an everyday food magazine I picked up this month to try something different.  We did some rearranging on this which is probably why it didn't get posted.  DH did a bunch of the cooking this past week as I was busy with candy making, or sewing, or whatever other Holiday thing I was up to.  So I'm not exactly sure what he did to alter.  I have asked and this is what I got.  We upped the recipe some and added some Italian diced tomatoes rather than regular to add some flavor.  I would have preferred a little more flavor - be it more oregano, or more pepper.  That being said, it was fine as it was.  I did eat the left overs, which is alway a judge of how much I liked it.  I just wished it had a bit more flavor - other than plain tomato.  I felt like that was the largest flavor.


  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 3-4 carrots, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz. can Italian diced tomatoes (use 3 of these next time.)
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups ditalini pasta
  • 2 15.5 oz cans great northern beans rinsed and drained
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a large heavy pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add celery, carrots, onion and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.  Saute until veggies are soft (8-10 minutes)  Add oregano, tomatoes and broth.  Increase heat to high and simmer rapidly until liquid thickens slightly, 5 minutes.  Add past and cook, partially covered until tender.  (10-15 minutes.)  Add beans and cook until warmed through, (about 3 minutes.)
  2. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Peanut butter brownies

Recipe coming soon.  DH made these, but changed the pan size for a thicker brownie then had to cut down the peanut butter layer so it wouldn't be as thick.  They were tasty, and when I get details as to what he did, I'll post it.
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Monday, December 27, 2010


This is the one candy I make every year at Christmas.  I'm actually very surprised it didn't get blogged last year.  I love them.  The recipe is from my old plaid betty crocker cookbook.  They really are not difficult to make (unless you over-follow directions like DH tried to this year.   I will make them more clear when I write them here today so he will be able to follow them. :)  The time consuming part of these is the cutting and wrapping.  I usually cut them with a knife and wrap them in plastic wrap.  This year I cut all the rows with a knife and then a few columns with the knife, but then I switched to my kitchen scissors.  That was way easy - loved it for snipping the individual squares off the row of candy.


  • 1 cup butter
  • 16 oz. brown sugar (2 1/4 cups packed)
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Generously butter a 9 x 9 x 2 inch pan (I used a silicon pan this year and they came out of the pan so nicely.)  In a heavy 3 quart saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.  Add sugar, condensed milk, and corn syrup;  mix well.  (I usually just toss everything but the vanilla in the pan and stir it over medium heat until it comes together.)  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it reaches 248 on a candy thermometer.  (This will take about 15 minutes - give or take 5 minutes)  
  2. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.  Pour into buttered pan.  Let cool
  3. When cool, cut into squares with a wet, sharp knife.  Wrap each piece in plastic wrap. 

Mediterranean Pizza

This was our 'crazy' pizza - I've been making more pizza, but so we don't lose the variety, I try to have a very different pizza in addition to our regular pizza.  I alway use our pizza crust recipe which comes from our Peter Reinhart book.  This pizza idea came from my Sandi Richard's book.  Although I didn't add all of the items she added, and I didn't follow her directions too well.  #1 I used our crust, and cooked it the same way we always cook pizza - oven all the way up for 8 minutes (give or take 2 minutes depending on the pizza.)  I also omitted some ingredients.  Mostly because I just plain forgot them (or couldn't find them at the store -like the pine nuts.)    I actually was a bit surprised that I liked it as well as I did because I didn't have super high expectations.  I haven't been a fan of artichoke hearts in the past. So, this is how I made it - the picture also has a picture of one of the other pizzas we had that night - homemade sausage with good mozzarella - That was so tasty.  YUM


  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon rosemary (I used fresh)
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • Dough for 1 pizza
  • 1/3-1/2 of a small zucchini
  • 3-4 artichoke hearts (I sliced these in half)
  • a couple of slices of sweet onion
  • 1/4 red pepper
  • 1/4 yellow pepper 
  • 1/3-1/2 can sliced olives
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese (although I  didn't measure)
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese (didn't measure this either)
  1. Preheat oven with a pizza stone as hot as it will go.  (550 for us)
  2. Mix oil and spices in a small bowl.  
  3. Roll out pizza dough to desired size/thickness.
  4. Brush oil mixture on dough.  Top with zucchini, artichoke hearts, onion, peppers, olives, feta and mozzarella.
  5. Bake on pizza stone for 6-8 minutes - or until crust is golden and cheese is melted.

Chicken in light cream sauce

So here I am posting pictures again, and I don't have this blogged at all.  I thought I had blogged it because I didn't follow directions particularly well, and I thought I had added some info.  Maybe I didn't blog it because I didn't make many changes in the ingredients - who knows?  I'm blogging it because I have more notes than I want to write in my cookbook. I didn't exactly do a good job of following directions, and for a change, I actually found these a bit confusing - first one for this cookbook.  The original recipe comes from my Sandi Richard's book - which I love - Highly recommend it.  This was no exception.  I loved this, and it was simple.  Because I served it with spaghetti noodles, even the 2 year old ate something.   This is how I made it.


  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1.5 lbs chicken breast (3 or 4 for me - I cut them in half.)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 2 - 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups light cream
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 green onions
  • hot chili flakes (if desired)
  1. Heat oil in nonstick frying pan over medium high heat.  Add 2 cups chicken.  Brown on both sides.  Add garlic and toast slightly.  Add chicken stock.  Simmer, flipping chicken occasionally until broth has almost evaporated.  (I actually set a thermometer in my chicken and took the pieces out at 160.)
  2. Once sauce has almost evaporated (or if using a thermometer, when the chicken reaches 160) take it out and set it aside on a plate.  If you are almost out of liquid, add 1/2 cup stock and deglaze the pan with it.  If you have liquid still in the pot, proceed with step 3.
  3. Slowly whisk in cream and sugar.  Return chicken to pan and heat gently in the sauce.  Let simmer for 5-10 minutes - until well heated and the flavors have mixed.  Chop green onions and add to the pan as the sauce simmers.
Serve with spaghetti noodles and a veggie for a complete meal - start the water boiling when you begin the meal, and the noodles can cook while the chicken is cooking.  You can also sprinkle with red pepper flakes.  DH ate his this way and liked it.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tropical waffles

I decided to make some waffles this morning because our 2 year old likes waffles and says the word so cute - who can resist the cute wa - ffull?  Not me.  My computer currently is having some battery issues and can not be unplugged or it will turn off.  (The battery won't hold a charge.) Anyway, since I can't just grab the computer and drag it in the kitchen without having to reboot,  I quickly flipped through a few books and picked a recipe.  However, I went and altered the thing like crazy and had to write myself a few notes.  The resulting waffles were super tasty.  Truly I wanted to make them using the entire can of crushed pineapple, but was worried it would be too much, and I didn't have time to fiddle with it, or be adding extra flour...  The amounts I started with worked, so I went with it.    I actually never use crushed pineapple in heavy syrup, but had a can which I accidentally got instead of the kind packed in juice.   It seemed like a good thing to use that syrup to replace the sugar and some of the oil in the original recipe, plus it helped use up something I normally wouln't use.  Score!    Anyway, here is what I did.  I loved them.  I ate mine plain as I was running around the house looking for kid's shoes.  Why I don't set them out the night before is beyond me.  :)


  • 4 extra large eggs (I just happen to have extra large eggs at the moment.  I'll probably use 5 eggs when I don't have the extra larges.
  • 4 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple in heavy syrup drained, reserve juice
  • 1/2 cup reserved pineapple juice/syrup
  • 3 1/2 cups milk (I used fat free)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons baking powder  
  • 1 heaping teaspoon grated orange peel 
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Heat waffle iron.  Beat eggs in a large bowl with a hand beater (or in a mixer) until fluffy.  Beat in remaining ingredients just until smooth.  (I made mine in my kitchen-aide with the whisk attachment.  I beat the eggs very well, tossed everything in but the coconut, mixed it until incorporated, and added the coconut.  Simple.)
  2. Pour batter in hot waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer's directions.  (My particular waffle iron usually needs almost 2 cups of mix, but only needed about 1 1/2 cups of this mix.)  
Original recipe had more orange peel, but I only had 1 orange.  That would be tasty as well if you want a stronger orange flavor, but I added the almond to compensate for the missing orange, and because I thought it sounded tasty.  Also, the original recipe had macadamia nuts sprinkled on top right before closing the waffle iron.  That would be a tasty addition, but I don't keep those on hand, and these were plenty tasty without them.  Just throwing it out there.  :)

Additional note 1/5 - This can of crushed pineapple didn't have 1/2 cup juice.  I added extra pineapple, but the waffles aren't as sweet today.  I'll probably actually add a bit of syrup. - May want to add a bit of sugar to the recipe if using Dole pineapple.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Cherry cheesecake cookies

Here is a fun cookie I found over on Mel's kitchen cafe.  It is one of my favorite recipe blogs.  These were a lovely, novel, tasty cookie.  I loved that the red made them seem Chirstmasy for our goodie plates as well.  Yum!
She says they only make 2 dozen, but it made 4 dozen for us.


  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 8 oz packages cream cheese (I used the 1/3 less fat with no problems although they are probably richer with the regular stuff.)
  • 2 1/2 sticks butter, softened (1 1/4 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (I didn't measure, we just ground 1 package in the food processor and had some left over.)
  • 2 cans (20 oz.) cherry pie filling (we used the premium more cherries and still needed the second can, but not much of it.)
  1. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  In another bowl with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter and sugar until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix until incorporated.  Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture.  Mix just until combined.  Refrigerate until dough is firm.  (at least 30 minutes.)
  2. Preheat oven to 350.  Line baking sheets with parchment.  Place graham crackers in a bowl.  
  3. Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, then roll the balls in graham cracker crumbs.   Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Using a Tablespoon measure, make an indentation in the center of each ball. (I tried something smaller -like my 1/2 Tablespoon - it was too small for 3 cherries to fit - use the Tablespoon.  It is perfect size.)  Place 3 cherries in the dimple.  Bake 12 to 14 minutes - until golden brown.  Cool for 5 minutes on the sheet then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chocolate peanut butter truffles

I made 1 types of truffles yesterday.  A chocolate cream cheese and a chocolate peanut butter.  Both recipes came from old Kraft food and family magazines.  This one from the holiday 2006 edition.  I went searching there because I remember making truffles in the past that were very simple and I thought they had come from one of the Kraft magazines.  Neither of these were as simple as I remembered.  This one is tasty, but ended up being very sticky.  The original had you roll them in powdered sugar or crushed nuts or coconut, or crushed oreos.  However, I dipped them in melted semi-sweet chocolate.  They were very good that way.  The semi-sweet shell is nice and hard, then the center is nice and creamy with a nice light peanut butter flavor.


  • 2 -2 1/2 packages (8 oz) Semi-sweet baking chocolate squares
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 8 oz. tub cool whip, thawed
  1. Microwave 1 package (8 oz, 8 squares)  chocolate on high for 2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 minutes.  stir until chocolate is completely melted.  
  2. Stir in peanut butter until well blended.  Cool to room temperature.  Gently stir in whipped topping.  refrigerate 1 hour.
  3. Melt remaining package of chocolate in microwave as before (I started with 1 package and had to do 2 more squares to finish, but with the 2 additional squares I also had enough to cover some of the other truffles I had made)
  4. Scoop peanut butter mixture with melon baller or teaspoon (I don't recommend the melon baller.  I used my cookie scoop for these and made them a bit bigger than my other truffles.  It worked well.)  Shape into 1 inch balls.  Dip the balls in the melted chocolate and place on a lined baking sheet (I lined mine with non-stick aluminum foil)  
Makes about 3 dozen (I actually made more like 30)

Chocolate Spritz Reindeer

Well, these cookies looked cute, but there were some issues with them that I wish would have been written in the directions.  I guess that is why it is sometimes better to find recipes online - better info than from a magazine. They make everything sound nice and simple.  I actually didn't make this batter.  DH did while I was out with the kids this morning, but he couldn't figure out how to get the cookie press to work, so I did the tedious part.  I took pictures of many of the reindeer I made.  The original recipe had you put these over a whole pretzel like the ones on the left hand side of the photo.  However I only had so many whole pretzels, so after that, I just used random parts to make lots of fun shaped antlers.  I really liked them with the broken pretzels - gave them personality.  The original recipe also had you use chocolate chips for the nose.  I have a few done like that in the photo, but I liked the mini m & m better, so I stuck with that for most of them.
As far as flavor, these are only OK.  However, they are super cute.

Don't use the cookie press right over the pretzel (like the recipe told me to)  It will either break the pretzel or it won't stick to the pan and come off of the press.  I messed with the first dozen like that before I started making them in my hand.  That worked a lot better, but better still were the ones made with fragments of pretzels because I made the cookie right on the cookie sheet and then stuck the antlers in the top of the already pressed cookie.  I've written directions using pieces.  To use whole, just place the cookie over the top of the bottom curve of the pretzel.  The picture has both type - whole pretzel and pieces.


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 bag large pretzel twists
  • 1 bag semi-sweet mini baking M & M's  (green and blue for eyes, brown or red for noses)
  1. Heat oven to 375.  In large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in sugars and cocoa until well blended.  Beat in milk, vanilla and egg yolk.  On low speed, slowly beat in flour until well blended, scraping the bowl as necessary.
  2. Fill heart template in cookie press; fill cookie press with dough.  Using cookie press, press 12 hearts onto a cookie sheet leaving plenty of room above them for antlers.  Press pretzel pieces into the top of the heart shape, trying to almost put them under the cookie.  Place green or blue M&M's for eyes and brown or red for a nose.  (I liked using the eyes to help shape the cookie and push it down on top of the pretzel that was under it.)
  3. Bake 8-10 minutes or until cookes are firm, but not browned.  Remove from pans to cooling rack.

raspberry cream puffs

Goodie number 2 for the day was cream puffs.  (although I have yet to make the cream to go in them.)  I have never actually tried to make cream puffs before.  They were surprisingly easy. (other than the fact that it gave me a really good arm workout from stirring.)   The recipe is from this month's Everyday food magazine.  First time I have tried that magazine.  I'm not a huge fan of they way they type the recipes up.  They don't list the ingredients in a list.  Oh well, this was a fun new recipe so I'm not going to complain too much.
I followed their recipe exactly for the puffs, I made up my own middle, and followed their directions again for the glaze.  Alone the puffs are quite eggy.  To be expected I'm sure since that seems to be what makes them puff.  However, with the cream and chocolate they are quite good.  I should have taken a better picture - maybe one with the cream puff cut in half - oops.  This is the best I have - never claimed to be a photographer.  :)

The puffs:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 large eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 425.  Line 2 cookie sheet with parchment paper (I ran out and used non-stick aluminum foil.)  In a small saucepan bring water, butter and sugar to a boil over high heat.
  2. Immediately remove from heat.  With a wooden spoon, stir in flour.  Continue to stir until mixture pulls away from sides of the pan. (recipe said 2 minutes, took more like 30 seconds.)  Let cool 2 minutes.
  3. Add eggs 1 at a time, mixing after each addition until batter comes together.  (the arm workout part.)
  4. Transfer batter to a large zip-top bag.  Twist and squeeze bag so batter is in one corner.  With scissors, snip a 1/2 inch opening in the corner.
  5. Pipe batter into desired size mounds on cookie sheet 1 inch apart. (I made mine between 1 and 1 1/2 teaspoons in size.  It made between about 80 puffs)  With a wet finger, smooth pointy tops.  Bake 10 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake until puffs are golden brown and feel light and hollow inside, 20-30 minutes.  Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

The filling and assembly instructions
  • 1 8 oz package neufchatel (1/3 less fat cream cheese), softened
  • 4 oz. fat free cool whip 
  • 1/3 cup raspberry jam
  1. Beat the cream cheese and jam until smooth and creamy.  Fold in the cool whip.
  2. To fill puffs;  Use a toothpick to make a hole in the bottom of the puff.  Place cream cheese mixture in a zip top bag or pastry bag fit with a large holed icing tip.  (recipe showed just the bag with a 1/4 inch opening snipped in the bottom,  but I thought it would be easier to stick something hard and metal in the opening of the puff than something soft and plastic.)  Fill puffs with cream mixture.  
The glaze
  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  1. Heat cream just to a boil.  Immediately pour over chocolate and let sit 2 minutes.  Stir until mixture is smooth.  (Wow, should have followed these directions.  I didn't chop the chocolate and just started stirring when I poured the boiling cream over the chocolate.  I wasn't fond of the method -upon reading directions more carefully I see why.  I can tell it was the end of a very long cooking day. :)
  2. Dip top half of each puff in chocolate glaze.  Place on foil lined baking sheet (just to avoid the mess) and refrigerate, uncovered for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.  (Hmm, mine are going to stay there ovenight.  Hope they are fine.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Raspberry poinsettia blossoms

So, I'm totally slow in getting my Christmas goodies out this year, so today I got busy and got half of it done.  Will get the other half done tomorrow.  This is what I started with in the morning because the dough had to refrigerate.  They were simple, and good, but actually quite sweet with the jello in there.  I used a sugar free jello mix because it is what I had on hand, and it worked fine.


  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened (I used butter)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 box (4 serving size) raspberry flavored gelatin
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 Tablespoons yellow candy sprinkles
  1. In a large bowl, bream butter, sugar, vanilla and egg.  Beat in flour
  2. Shape the dough into 1 1/4 inch balls.  cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
  3. Heat oven to 375.  On ungreased cookie sheet, place balls about 2 inches apart.  With a sharp knife, make 3 cuts in the top of the ball (to cut it in 1/6ths) about 3/4 the way through to make 6 wedges.  Spread wedges apart slightly to form flower petals.  (cookies will separate and flatten as they bake.)  Sprinkle candy sprinkles into center of each cookie.
  4. Bake 9-11 minutes or until set and edges begin to brown.  cool 2-3 minutes, remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

chicken log

I can not believe that I haven't blogged this.  I swear I have a memory of making this with some super dried out chicken in the past year.  I was so excited to use up the dried chicken.  But I can't find it anywhere, so here it is. This recipe is one from my mom.  It is so good, and really rather easy to make especially if you keep pre-cooked chicken in the freezer.  I just whipped up a batch for a Chirstmas party.  It is so tasty that I have decided I should do a snack dinner using it more often - Chicken log, crackers, baby carrots and celery sticks.  Yum.


  • 1 8 oz package of cream cheese softened (I used 1/3 less fat - no problem)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (again I used light)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 drops red hot pepper sauce (although I may have gotten a bit more today)
  • 2 cups finely cut-up cooked chicken (I actually used 1 container of my pre-cooked - defrosted it in the microwave 3 minutes and shredded it in the food processor.  It was 3 1/2 cups and fine. Or you can just boil some chicken and chop it.)
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped (gave these a whirl in the food processor too.)(
  • 1 teaspoon dried onions
  1. Mix cream cheese, mayo, lemon juice, salt, ginger, pepper and pepper sauce and onions.  (I also ended up tossing this in the food processor to get it nice and smooth because my cream cheese wasn't quite softened enough to mix well.)  Sir in chicken and eggs.  
  2. Spoon mixture onto some plastic wrap and shape into a 8 X 2 inch log (or ball, or whatever shape you want.)  wrapping it in the plastic wrap as you go.
  3. Refrigerate until firm -about 4 hours.
  4. Decorate with chopped olives, peppers, sesame seeds or green onions.  Serve with crackers.  

Monday, December 20, 2010

Apple wheat pancakes

I have been wanting to make up a pancake recipe lately using apples and applesauce, and I was checking out Jamie cooks it up when guess what I saw?  Exactly what I was looking for.  We had a few mishaps with these pancakes.  First of all, the first batch looked good, but I was smelling something strange, and smelled the applesauce and it smelled a bit fermented, so out went that batter.  So, we made a second batch with DH and myself dumping in ingredients and he decided to dump in 1 cup of sugar instead of the Tablespoon or 2 they called for.  They got out and I tried a bite and said, wow, these are really sweet - I think he must have confused the cup from the syrup that went with them.  Anyway, we has some seriously sweet pancakes.
We also had some difficulty with the sauce.  DH swears it is because I just tossed everything in the pan and didn't brown the butter, but we've made a similar syrup with buttermilk and I just tossed everything in and it was fine, but it called for a lot less liquid.  This was super runny, so we ended up adding double the sugar.  We also added some vanilla because I thought it would be tasty.
I also made multiple modifications on the pancake recipe, plus my modificaitons on the sauce.  Here is what we did today.  It was super tasty, but I won't make these again with that much sugar in the batter.  I'll probably click on the Jamie cooks it up link and try her syrup following directions next time, but I'm also making the note that my buttermilk recipe is 1/2 cup liquid.


  • 1 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 apple, finely diced
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar (we used 1 cup, but I wouldn't recommend it.)
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 1/4 cup wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Beat all ingredients except apples until smooth.  Stir in apples.  If batter is too thin add a bit more flour, if too thick, add more milk - I added more flour, but put that in the recipe.
  2. Heat skillet and spray with cooking spray.  Pour batter in 1/4 cup increments and cook until top stops bubbling.  Flip and cook until done.

Butter sauce
  • 1/2 can evaporated milk
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
  • 2 cups sugar (I may have been a bit shy of 2 cups, but it was at least 1 and 7/8 - probably 2)
  • 1 Tablespoon corn syrup 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Mix ingredients in a saucepan and cook until boiling.  Boil until thickened.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Baked Mostaccioli

This was an interesting recipe - kind of like a lasagna with a different noodle.  I originally had wanted to make a slow cooker lasagna yesterday, but there was no way I was going to get it into the slow cooker on time with my busy schedule.  However, my piano students all canceled so I actually had time to make dinner at dinner time.  Yea.  I stuck with the same theme since I had wanted to try this when I saw it in my healthy cooking magazine anyway.
Upon reading the recipe, I decided it wasn't going to be flavorful enough for me so I changed a few things - doubled the tomatoes, used Italian style rather than regular, omitted water...  I debated adding extra Italian seasoning and didn't.  I wish I would have.  I did double the pepper, but it wasn't spicy at all.  I totally forgot the put the Parmesan on top.  That would have helped.  With all these complaints, don't get me wrong, this was good.  I just wished it had a bit more flavor and would add some extra Italian seasoning next time.
This was kind of a quicker version of lasagna for me.  I liked that.  I got everything together quickly while the noodles cooked, it tossed together in the pan quickly and was ready to go.
One last fun fact - I had no idea what Mostaccioli pasta was.  I searched for it at the store, but couldn't find it.  The picture in the recipe looked like penne, so that is what I used.  I just looked it up online - Mostaccioli is a pasta that looks just like penne but is smooth.  I even found a picture of it - apparently Barilla makes them, but I couldn't find it at the store.  I suggest just using penne.


  • 8 oz uncooked mostaccioli  (I think I had about 9.5 oz. left in my box.)
  • 10 oz. lean ground beef (use what you want here - original was 1/2 lb turkey, I used a pre-cooked I had that weighte 9.something already cooked.)
  • 1 Tablespoon dehydrated onions (could use 1 small onion chopped, but I was going for speed.)
  • 2 14.5 oz cans Italian style diced tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz. can tomatoe paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper 
  • 1 16 oz. container fat free cottage cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I forgot this, but it would have been good.)
  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, cook ground beef and onion until no longer pink.  Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat;  cover and simmer for 15 minutes (I only let mine simmer until my noodles were done.)
  3. Add the marjoram to the cottage cheese container and stir.
  4. Spread 1/2 cup meat sauce into a 9 X 13 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Layer with 1/2 of the pasta, meat sauce, and mozzarella.  Top with all of the cottage cheese mixture.  Layer with remaining pasta, meat sauce and mozzarella.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  
  5. Bake uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Country chicken with gravy

I found this recipe in my taste of home magazine.  It was quite yummy.  The only change I really made was to use more than 2 Tablespoons of milk to dip the chicken. (Ok, upon further inspection, I changed up the gravy a bit.  It called for condensed chicken broth - couldn't find it.  I also left the chives out just because I didn't buy any.  They would probably be a good addition.)   Next time I think I would probably dip the chicken in the spices and then the corn flakes because they didn't seem to evenly disperse.  However, it didn't seem to matter which piece anyone got.  Everyone really liked it.


  • 3/4 cup crushed cornflakes (I used about 2 cups uncrushed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup or so fat free evaporated milk
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4-6 oz. each)
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup fat free evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  1. In a shallow bowl, combine first 6 ingredients.  Place milk in another shallow bowl or plate. 
  2. (I cut my chicken breasts in half - they are always bigger than the directions say, so I usually cut them to speed cooking and give me more portions.)  Dip chicken in milk, then roll in cornflakes.
  3. In a large non-stick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook chicken in oil over medium heat for 6-8 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 170.  (Watch the heat - I had mine too high and burned the first side, then had to cover them to get them done in the middle without burning the second side.  Luckily they still managed to be good.)
  4. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in flour, pepper and salt until smooth.  Gradually stir in the milk and stock.  Bring to a boil;  cook and stir 1-2 minutes or until thickened.  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

kinda greek salad

If you've checked out my blog much at all, you will know I really love my Sandi Richards cookbook.  Love the complete meals, love the variety, love the set-up....   I also rarely vary from her recipes because they are good and flavorful, so I tend not to publish a lot of them on here if I I haven't made changes.   So, I'm not publishing the entire meal we had - that was tomato-cranberry glazed pork chops with couscous (although I made rice - don't like couscous) and kinda greek salad.  The pork was good.  Probably 4 star, but I absolutely adored the kinda greek salad.  It was a salad without lettuce.  Also the flavors combined extremely well.  I didn't use as much red onion as she did, but the rest I followed exactly.  I was out of reflux medicine (or trying something new that wasn't working)  Anyway, didn't dare add much more onion.  I thought it was absolutely the perfect blend of flavors the way I made it.  I had worried about the feta being a bit much, but really, perfect salad.  Loved it.


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (from a jar - can use 2 cloves minced)
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 1/4 red onion (I used a couple of slices - maybe 1/8 or 1/4 - original was for 1/2)
  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • 3/4 cups feta cheese, crumbles
  1. Pour olive oil, garlic, vinegar and sugar into a large salad bowl and whisk to blend
  2. Chop all veggies adding to bowl as you go.  Add feta cheese.  Toss until veggies are coated.

Income Tax Casserole

This recipe comes from a friend of mine through a church cookbook.  Thanks Amie.  It was very much like a roast, and we had just had roast which didn't enthuse me when I started cooking this meal, but this was much better because I chose to eat these left overs and not the roast left overs.  That is always a good way to tell if I really likes something.  The left overs still sound good enough to eat. :)  It was also pretty simple.  That is alway nice, and it made a lot.


  • 2 lbs stew meat.  (I chopped up a roast or something that I had in the freezer.)
  • stew vegetables (I used the following)
    • 4-5 medium potatoes, cut into large chunks (about 2 inches)
    • 4-5 carrots chopped into 1/4ths or so 
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 3-4 stalks celery, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 Tablespoons tapioca
  • 1 large can v-8 juice - wasn't sure if they wanted the really big jar, but that is what I got.  Worked fine)
  1. Put meat into the bottom of a Dutch oven.  Add the stew vegetables.  Salt and pepper everything (I actually added a bit of salt after I put in the meat, and again after I added the veggies.)  
  2. Sprinkle tapioca over everything.  Pour the v-8 ont top.  Cover and bake at 250 for 7 hours.  (I was out of time for that, so I tossed it in my slow cooker and cooked it on high 4 hours or so.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

gnocchi with white beans

Here is our dinner from last night.  This was the first time I had tried gnocchi.  While I absolutely love to do things different and cook things different all of the time, I'm still skeptical of new menu items at times - particularly new ingredients.  However, here I was pleasantly surprised.  I really liked the gnocchi.  Liked the chewy texture, and liked the taste.  I was also a tiny bit nervous that there wouldn't be enough flavor added to this meal - I actually used way more cheese than called for - just in case ;).  However, the seasoning from the Italian style diced tomatoes was enough.  The meal was great.  Although 4yo griped about it, once he tried it, he ate it all - still didn't like the spinach part, but loved the gnocchi.  11yo, dad, and 13yo all had seconds leaving me with no left overs.  I wasn't the biggest fan of the spinach, but then again, I never am a huge fan of cooked spinach - texture thing mostly.  However, that didn't stop me from having some seconds.  Yum!
Oh, almost forgot.  This recipe is from my taste of home healthy cooking magazine - sent in by Julianne Meyers from Hinesville, Georgia.


  • 1 medium onion, chopped (I used 1/2 of a medium large)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (1 teaspoon jarred minced garlic)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter (original was olive oil, but I can't resist sauteing onions in butter)
  • 1 package (16 oz.) potato gnocchi
  • 1 package (6 oz.) fresh baby spinach
  • 1 can (15 oz.) great northern beans (or other white bean - original was a larger white bean)
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese (I didn't measure, but I used more like 1 cup - I like cheese)
  • 3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (can't say that I measured, but I used about that.)
  1. In a large skillet, saute onion and garlic in butter until tender.  Add gnocchi;  cook and stir for 5-6 minutes or until golden brown.  (Not sure mine were ever "golden brown"  they took on a brown color, but from the toasted butter/onions in the pan more than from cooking - didn't affect the dish though.)  
  2. Stir in spinach;  cook until spinach is wilted.
  3. Add the beans, tomatoes and pepper;  heat through.  Sprinkle with cheeses;  cover and remove from heat.  let stand for 3-4 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Teriyaki pork

This is what we had for dinner this evening.  It is from my Taste of home healthy cooking magazine.  It was great.  Probably could have had a bit more flavor, but nothing at all wrong with it.  Maybe try adding a bit of citrus - lemon or orange next time?  I added a bit more meat to make it feed the whole family, but upped the servings from 4 to 6.
I really liked that there were a lot of veggies in this meal.  It was a very healthy dinner.  It also didn't take an too long to prepare -longer than the 10 min prep, 20 min cook the book said, but still not an hour or anything.  Probably more like 10 min prep - 1 hour marinade, 10 more minutes prep, 15 min cook.


  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1.5 lb boneless pork loin chops cut into thing strips
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 2.5-3 cups broccoli florets
  • 3 medium to large carrots, sliced
  • 3 celery rips, chopped
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage (about 1/2 a small head)
  • 5 green onions, sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • Hot cooked rice
  1. In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup broth, soy sauce, vinegar, honey and garlic powder.  Pour 1/3 cup marinade into a large resealable plastic bag.  Add the pork.  Seal the bag and turn to coat.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.  Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade.  
  2. Drain and discard marinade from the pork.  In a large nonstick skillet or wok, stir-fry pork in oil for 5-6 minutes or until no longer pink.  Remove and keep warm.  (I was left with tons of liquid in the pan.  I poured it down the drain.)  
  3. In the same pan, stir-fry broccoli and carrots in reserved marinade for 2 minutes.  Add celery;  stir-fry for 2 minutes.  Add cabbage and green onions; stir-fry 2-3 minutes longer or until vegetables are crisp-tender.  
  4. Combine cornstarch and remaining 1/2 cup broth until smooth.  stir into vegetable mixture.  Bring to a boil;  cook and stir until thickened.  Return pork to the pan;  heat through.  Serve with rice.
Notes:  (this one is to self)  Don't forget to start the rice cooker when you start cooking the food - duh!!
Also, I think you could possibly speed this along by chopping the veggies in a food processor and cooking the meat and veggies at the same time in 2 separate pans.  I started with chopping the carrots and had the carrots and broccoli ready to go in a container, then I chopped the rest of the veggies as the meat or other veggies were cooking.

candy cane cookies

My goodness, 6 days since I've posted here.  That is how I know life is busy, but then again, it always is at the holidays.  Not to mention DH was out of town last week, 2 of my boys were sick, and we were very over scheduled for some reason.  Anywho, I'm starting with what I made today because it is fresh on my mind, and I still have the tab up on my computer.  It was my turn to teach pre-school and we are doing letter J for Jesus - going with a Christmas theme.  So I decided to read the book the Legend of the Candy Cane and have candy cane shaped cookies for a snack.  (I so have to buy that book - I had to borrow it today.)
I found a recipe on allrecipes.com.  I ended up adding a 1/2 cup flour, but I'm not sure I'd do it again.  (This is a very unsure.  I felt the dough could stand to be a bit stickier so that it wouldn't crack, but I also wouldn't want it to stick to the counter.  Also, I loved the texture of these, kind of a cross between a sugar cookie and one of those Mexican Wedding cookies.  I really liked the texture.  BUT, I also added a few drops of water to my white half.  The red half was just about perfect with the red food coloring I added because I used the liquid kind. -part of the reason I went with the extra flour in the first place.)  Soo, that all being said, next time, I'll have a personal toss up with whether or not to add the extra flour.  I may try it once without, or I may be chicken and want and exact repeat.  Time will tell.  OK, on to how I made them before kids get home from school and I have to get meat in a marinade before I teach piano lessons...
Note on pictures - see the difference between twisting individual cords(top cookie) and rolling the to cords into 1 2 colored cord and twisting the 1 cord (the rest of the cookies.)


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter flavor crisco
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour (see note above to decide whether to go with less or not.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I didn't measure, original had more, but I just poured an amount in my hand that looked good and tossed it in.)
  • red food coloring
  1. Mix butter and crisco together until smooth.  Add powdered sugar and mix until smooth.  Add egg and extracts and mix until smooth. (Or just add it all at once and beat.  I just like to do it separately for some reason.)
  2. Add flour and salt and mix until a dough forms.
  3. Divide dough in half.  Set 1/2 of of dough aside.  Add red food coloring to desired shade in 1/2 of the dough and mix until combined.  
  4. Roll out dough into 4" "snakes" (so said my 2 year old - he thought we were playing with playdough this morning.)  (I actually rolled 2 really long snakes set them side by side and cut them in 4 inch lengths.)  Take your 2 4 inch snakes and roll together into 1 fat snake that is 1/2 red and 1/2 white.  Twist the snake and curve the top over to make a candy cane shape.
  5. Bake at 375 for 9-10 minutes.  (Mine took 10.)
Other notes:  If making J's, make sure to make them face the right direction.  My instinct is to make a candycane go the other way.  Also, I did a bit of trial and error on the rolling.  Originally I started just twisting the 2 strands together, but then I remembered reading a post on Allrecipes.com that said to roll them together.  I tried that and it was way better.  The cookies didn't crack as much.  (see picture for difference in appearance.)
A final note - if you want to add  peppermint flavor, either exchange the almond extract for peppermint or add crushed peppermint candies to the top of the cookies by brushing with heated corn syrup (10-20 seconds in the microwave) and sprinkling on top.  I loved them the way they were, but I'm not a peppermint fan.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

pie crust

I got this recipe at food storage.net.  She has great videos explaining exactly how to make it.  I think it is my favorite that I made so far.  Probably because of the added sugar.  I made some little cinnamon/sugar topped pie crust with my left overs and I didn't share because they were so tasty they were gone before anyone even knew I made them.  (Good thing my kids don't read my blog.  lol)  Anyway, probably the biggest tip from there was to keep everything nice and  cold.  She even refrigerated her bowl, utensils and shortening.  I must say it was a pretty tasty and great textured pie crust.  Thank you Del for a wonderful pie crust.


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt (I just used regular - it is what I have)
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup shortening, cold
  • 12 Tablespoons butter, cold and cubed
  • 1/4-1/2 cup ice water

  1. Chill bowl, pastry cutter or whisk, and all ingredients in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  Sift together dry ingredients.  Cut shortening into dry ingredients to a corn meal consistency.  (I used my pastry cutter, but I think in the video she used her kitchenaid with whisk attachement.  I'd try that next time.)
  2. Slowly cut in butter until the consistency resembles small peas.  Add 3 Tablespoons ice water and mix together with hands.  If more water is needed, add it 1 Tablespoon at a time.  (I needed a couple more Tablespoons, but I think they weren't filling fully or something.  she makes hers on the video with only 3 I believe.)  
  3. Divide dough into 2, flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill dough in fridge for at least 30 minutes.  
  4. Remove dough and place on top of plastic wrap (or on one of those handy pie roller mats - but she likes the plastic wrap for putting the crust into the pan later.  I thought it was a bit more difficult because the plastic on the bottom always got wrinkled and I would have to flip it and smooth it - just adding another step - but putting it in the pie plate was easy.)  Place the plastic the dough was wrapped in on top of the dough - grease side down.  Roll out dough always going from the center out until desired size. 
  5. Place dough on pie pan and fit dough to sides (She leaves the plastic wrap on the top side for this and then isn't touching the dough with her fingers.)  Using a sharp knife, cut excess dough from around edges.  Using thumb, index, and middle finger, pinch dough edges to form a decorative edge.  (Mine for this particular pie had issues and I ended up just pressing the tines of a fork in the edge.  Not sure what my problem was.  My apple pie was great for Thanksgiving, but I couldn't seem to do a crimped shell this day.  So, on a bad day - grab a fork.)
  6. Fill pie with filling and bake according to directions on you pie recipe - or - prebake by placing aluminum foil on top of the pie crust and filling half way with dry, uncooked beans.  Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

Mock Pecan pie

So, I've had this recipe up on my computer so I would try it for a couple of weeks.  I didn't end up going with pecan pies for Thanksgiving this year, so I made it the Saturday after.  It is from everyday foodstorage.  I wanted to try her crust recipe from he pie crust 101 video's anyway, and almost did, but I made myself try 1 whole grain pie crust and 1 regular.  So, this gave me a great excuse to try the other pie crust.  (Great pie crust by the way.  It gets it's own post because it was very good.
So, this pie uses pinto beans in the filling.  That is what makes it a "mock" pecan pie.  It still tasted plenty good.  The texture of the middle was just a little bit different.  I used white beans because when I opened the can of pinto beans that DH had bought they were garlic flavored - not going to work in pecan pie.  It was fine with the white beans.  I liked it.  Great flavor - just different texture.  I did use pecan halves and had to place them nicely on there.  I had bought them early planning to make pie which normal uses halves.  This bottom layer is pretty thick so the nuts won't just float nicely to the top, so I'd probably just use the chopped next time.  Bottom line - this is still a pie - just has a bit of fiber worked into it.
The pie crust I used was great so it will get it's own post.


  • 1 1/2 cups cooked, drained pinto beans (or white beans.)  
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2-3/4 cup finely chopped pecans (use more if desired.  I just covered the top of mine with pecan halves.
  1. Cream butter, sugar, eggs and beans.  Add vanilla and salt.  Pour into a 9 inch unbaked pie shell (I suggest a deep dish - definitely nothing on the shallow side.)
  2. Sprinkle pecans over the mixture.  Cover crust with foil or a crust cover.  Bake at 375 for 25 minutes.  reduce heat to 350 and bake for about 20 minutes more.  (Mine took a good 10-20 minutes longer than that.)  Pie is done when knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Traditional pot roast

I found this recipe in my food Nanny book.  It is just your general everyday pot roast, but it did add sweet potatoes.  I wasn't a huge fan of the sweet potatoes.  They got overcooked.  So did my roast.  It was a bit small, but also a bit frozen, so I though it would be fine, but it wasn't.  The meat was dry.  :(  However, the potatoes and carrots were perfect, and the flavor was fine.  We (meaning Brandon) also made some gravy and biscuits to go with it.  All from Food Nanny's book.  I only really changed the type of potatoes I used - she used reds, I used russets I already had on hand.


  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (3 1/2-4 lb) boneless chuck, rump or shoulder roast (mine was only about 3 lb)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 5 large carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 3 medium russet potatoes peeled and cut in large chunks (I think I cut mine in 1/6th or so)
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered
  • 2 sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and quartered
For gravy
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  1. Preheat the oven to 275 or 325 (275 for 5 hours of roasting, 325 for 3 - we did 325.)
  2. Mix flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper together.  Rub on meat.
  3. In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Brown the meat on all sides;  Drain the fat.  Add the broth, bring to a boil and boil for about 1 minute.  Remove pot from the heat.
  4. Add the carrots, potatoes, onion and sweet potatoes.  Cover with a lid.  Roast for 5 hours (for 275;  3 hours for 325)
  5. Transfer meat to a large platter and surround it with veggies.  Cover with foil to keep warm.  
  6. To make gravy:  Pour pan juices into a 2 cup measuring cup.  Tilt the cup and spoon off the fat that rises to the top.  If necessary, add beef broth or water to total 1 1/2 cups.  Return juices to the pan.
  7. Whisk flour and water together in a small bowl and add to pan juices.  Cook ans stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly.  Cook and stir 1 minutes more.  Season to taste.

Ginger Beef with Egg Noodles and Snap peas

This is tonights meal.  It came from my Sandi Richards book, but I made a few changes to cut the spice - probably should have left a bit more in, but definitely not all of it for my family.  I left out red pepper flakes and cut down on the sweet chili sauce, but I was also using a Tabasco brand.
Anyway, it was good, other than my zucchini was bad - very bitter skin, and we usually like zucchini (except for DH who was out of town anyway.)  We picked those out, but we had raw peas as well, so I was fine.  I liked that it was pretty quick and simple.  Done in 30 minutes.  Would have been even quicker if I would have had some pre-cooked meat, but I am out.


  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 2 Tablespoons jarred minced garlic (or 6 cloves, minced)
  • 1 Tablespoon finely grated ginger (I used the kind that comes pregrated in a jar.)
  • 1 bunch green onion (about 1 cup
  • 1 lb ground beef (I used ground sirloin)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sweet and spicy Tabasco (could have used 2-3)
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 12 oz. egg noodles
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 handful snap peas
  1. Heat oil in a large nonstic frying pan.  Add garlic, ginger and green onions.  Saute 2-3 minutes.  
  2. Add beef and cook until no longer pink.
  3. When beef is getting close to cooked, boil water (I have a kettle for it, but it could be easily done in the microwave as well.)
  4. Add soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and Tabasco.  
  5. Add boiling water then stir in noodles (still uncooked.)  Cover and cook about 7 minutes until pasta is al dente.  
  6. Meanwhile, slice zucchini into long wedges (I cut mine in half then sliced the halves into 8-10 slivers)  Toss them in with the peas in the last minute or 2 of cooking.  Stir to combine.
Serve with additional raw snap peas.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tex-mex chicken

So, this week, I went back to my favorite Sandi Richard's book and decided to try some of the few meals in there that I haven't tried.  While this was not one of my favorites I was reminded how much I really like that book.  Definitely one of my favorites.  I love the way it is written to be time saving (although I'd rearrange this recipe a bit.)  I also love how each recipe is for a complete meal including lots of veggies.  So nice.
So, this is getting a  post because it has various things that I changed in the first place, and other things that I would change for next time.  All of the kids thought the chicken was too spicy, and I had cut the chipotle seasoning in half.  While I liked the sauce that went with the chicken, I thought it could use a bit of a kick.  So, next time I'd put the chipotle in the sauce, and not on the chicken.  The chicken was perfect - perfectly tender and juicy - too often I end up with overcooked, dry chicken.
OK, my final opinion on this recipe - the corn muffins were just ok, but they are hard as rocks today.  I wouldn't make them again with this recipe.  This recipe made a lot of sauce with the chicken that seemed like it needed a rice or noodle to soak it up.  I'd use rice because it seems like it would go better with the dish.   I guess if I did that it would eliminate the fact that she had you make the muffins first - that made the dish take longer for me because I was slow at mixing the muffins.  It ended up making the dish take longer than the hour it said it would, which wasn't good for me yesterday.
So here is how to make the chicken.  I would try it again with modifications.  This smaller pic it what it looked like in the pan.  Not amazing, but I post it to show just how saucy it was.


  • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon dehydrated onion
  • 1 can (15 oz ?) creamed corn
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • dash Italian seasoning (she said she uses Hunts Italian tomato sauce, and called it pasta sauce in the directions, so I sprinkled Italian seasoning on my tomato sauce.)
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1 cup light cheddar cheese or cheese of choice - monterey jack or a mexican blend would be good
  1. Cut chicken breast in half and place chicken in a 9 X 13 pan.  Sprinkle with spices (next time I'd only sprinkle on the oregano - and onion - maybe even double the oregano.)  
  2. Layer creamed corn, corn, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning and salsa over the chicken.  (Next time I'd probably mix the tomato sauce, Italian seasoning -or possibly just oregano and basil, chipotle seasoning and salsa in a bowl and pour that over the 2 corn layers.)  Top with cheese.
  3. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes (uncovered)
Serving suggestions
  • Serve over white or brown rice
  • Serve with a side salad - we had spinach, mandarin oranges and feta.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

menu 12/2 2010

Debated starting some Christmas cooking this week, but DH will be out of town, so we are going to keep it easy. - Reasonably so anyway - a couple of Sandi Richards recipes - love her book they are always pretty simple to prepare and tasty.

cream cheese danish
rice pudding - rizogalo (try the new brown rice)
french toast

Peach black bean soup

Split pea soup - using this recipe but modifying to include a ham hock and probably diced ham
Chicken tortilla soup (PB 9/07 p. 87)
Tomato cranberry pork chops with rice and greek salad (SR -- p. 118)
Traditional pot roast (FN p. 170)
Gingered beef with egg noodles and snap peas (SR p. 94)
Tuna steaks with green onions and orange butter (BC 9/09 p. 50)
Tex-mex chicken with corn muffins and salad (SR p. 92)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oreo Turkeys

I saw these made on a couple of other blogs, but much fancier. I've been making these in my kindergarten class for years, and this year I did them with my pre-schoolers. They are a more simple version of an oreo turkey. Not so much for decoration, but lots of fun for kids.
How it is supposed to be made above, Below, made by a 4 year old

above: the 2 year old didn't do much decorating, but still liked the eating. Below, decorated by another 4 year old.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cereal and cheese pudding

I must admit, the title doesn't sound too appetizing.  Not sure what possessed me to try this out of The Sneaky Chef to the rescue.  Probably the 3 little containers of cottage cheese needing to be used, and the fact that I'm always up for trying something new for breakfast.  I ended up making it today at lunch time because nothing sounded good, but then I didn't want to wait for it to cook, so I ate some left overs.  Then when it came out I got to thinking it sure sounded weird, and it was kind of jiggly  (imagine that - like a pudding)  maybe I didn't want to try it, so it sat on the counter for a while, then I went to put it away and decided to try it first - I felt like the green eggs and ham guy (probably because it is currently my 2 year old's favorite book - along with go dog go.  I've read both many times in the last few day.)  Anyway- Hey, I did like it after all that.  It was actually pretty sweet.  I think I'll serve it for dessert this evening.
I doubt the 2 year old will try it.  Wish he'd learn a lesson from the green eggs and ham book.  Guess I'll just keep reading it and hope something sinks in.  :)


  • 2 cups whole grain cereal flakes (I used Total, and actually added a bit more)
  • 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese (I love breakstone)
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1/4 cup white bean puree (make by pureeing 1 can white beans like great northern beans - rinsed and drained - with 1 Tablespoon water until smooth. -1 can makes 1 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Spray a 9 X 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.  
  2. Place cereal in a ziptop bag and crush to coarsely crushed flakes. 
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cottage cheese, eggs, white bean puree, salt, sugar, and vanilla.
  4. Sprinkle a scant 3/4 cup flakes on the bottom of the prepared pan.  Top with all of the cottage cheese mixture.  Sprinkle with remaining flakes (why I crushed more.  I wanted a bit bigger layer.) 
  5. Spray the top with cooking spray.  Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.

Pumpkin pie with oat crust

I've been debating even posting this recipe because it just wasn't my favorite, but it has grown on me over the 3 days it has been here, and I finished off the entire last piece for breakfast, so it earned postability with that.  The recipe comes from my King Arthur flour book, and since it is a whole grain book, you can bet it uses some whole grain in the crust.  It has barely any wheat, mostly oats, so I really thought it would be very tasty, but I didn't care for it day 1.  Not sure why.  I wasn't a fan of the oaty or wheaty taste in the crust.  I also wasn't a fan of the pumpkiny flavor of the pie.  I know, I know, it is pumpkin pie for Pete's sake what am I saying it was too pumpkiny.  I think that it tasted more like I was eating a squash and less like I was eating a pie, but I can't say it was because it wasn't sweet enough, because it was actually a bit too sweet that first day.  All I can say is that it improved with age, so I would say if making this again, definitely make it the day before, or 2 days before Thanksgiving.  It was definitely much better day 2, and even better today - lost the oaty or wheaty flavor, and somehow the pumpkin blended better with the other ingredients and didn't stick out as badly day 2 or 3, plus the spices and sweetness were better.   Day 1 I would have rated it about 2 or 2.5, Day 2 3-3.5, and today 4 stars.
Other Warnings - the crust was to be refrigerated overnight - didn't plan for that.  After refrigeration, it needs to come warm up for 15 minutes - didn't plan on that either.  (I ought to learn to read ahead better.)  Also, the recipe called for too much milk in the crust, but I have amended that in my version.  I also think I may try it with less ginger and nutmeg and a bit more cinnamon next time (although that was a dislike of the first day and not so much the second or third day, so if made early, the current spice blend may be just fine.)  Final warning is that this took longer to cook than it said.  DH took it out thinking it was done, but it was a bit too soft for me.  I put it back in for another 10 minutes and covered it with foil.  That did the trick.  It still wasn't super set, that happened as it cooled.

The crust

  • 2/3 cup (2 1/4 oz.) rolled oats, ground for 30 seconds in a food processor (I actually did this, this time, last time I just made and used that amount of oat flour by weight.  I would probably use oat flour for a crust in the future.  It is smoother and I think better for a crust.)
  • 1/3 cup (1 1/4 oz.) whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup (1 3/8 oz.) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons (1 oz.) packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 to 3 Tablespoons cold milk or half and half.  (we started with 3 - minimum recommendation in the book - it was way too much.  I was wiping milk off and adding flour.)
  1. Whisk oats, flours, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.  Cut the butter into cubes and work into dry ingredients using fingers or a pastry blender until evenly crumbly.  Gradually add the milk until the dough is cohesive.  (holds together and doesn't seem dry and crumbly.)
  2. Shape dough into a disk 1 inch thick.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 3 days.
  3. About 30 minutes before ready to assemble the pie, take the dough out of the refrigerator.  Allow it to warm until flexible (15-30 minutes.)
  4. Preheat oven to 425
  5. On a floured surface, roll dough into a 12 inch circle.  Transfer to a 9" pie plate that is at least 1 1/4 inch deep (but not deep dish.)  Place crust in fridge while preparing filling.
The filling
  • 1 can (15 oz.) canned pumpkin 
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup half-and half
  • 3/4 cup honey (I actually used 1/2 cup honey and 1/4 cup agave but just because I was using some very dark honey.)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, melted 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until smooth.
  2. Pour into prepared crust.  Cover with a crust shield (1st time I got to use mine - loved it.) or foil  Place pie on the bottom rack of oven and bake for 15 minutes (I was lazy and didn't do this - I didn't want to have to move it later - maybe that is why it wasn't ready at the time it was supposed to be.)  
  3. After the 15 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 350 and move the pie to the middle rack.  Bake until the temperature at the center is at least 170 (mine was when I thought it was too runny.)  and a knif inserted 1 inch from the edge comes our moist but clean (it didn't pass this test at 170.)  35 minutes.  (I had to leave mine longer, but because it came out and back in, I can't give an accurate time for me.  Just expect it to take a bit longer.)
  4. Remove pie and cool to room temperature before serving.

Orzo and Tuna Salad

Wow, I can't believe how much I'm not a fan of Thanksgiving left overs.  Maybe there's just too much of everything.  I think mostly it is that I just don't care for Turkey.  Anyway, not wanting to eat left overs for lunch today, I make Orzo and Tuna Salad for lunch.  It comes from a 2009 Betty Crocker magazine.  I didn't change too much.  Pretty simple, and not bad - seemed a bit liquidy for me, but tasty fine, and the texture wasn't bad even with the extra liquid.  Also a decent dose of veggies, and semi-simple to make.  (Even more simple if you let DH make it and only go help rinse the noodles.  :)


  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (not sure if DH put this in the water or not.)
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo or rosamarina pasta
  • 3 oz. cram cheese, softened (we used neufchatel)
  • 1 1/2 cups diced cucumber (about 1 medium)
  • 3 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 medium stalks celery, thinly sliced (1 cup
  • 2 cans (5 oz. each) tuna in water, drained
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill weed (we used dried and I just sprinkled)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat 2 quarts water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a 3 quart sauce pan.  Add pasta;  cook 7-9 minutes or until tender.  Drain pasta and rinse with cold water.
  2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, place cream cheese, 1 cup of the cucumber, vinegar and oil.  Cover and process until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, mix pasta, cream cheese mixture and remaining ingredients until well combined.  Serve.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Apple pie

I spent much time debating pies this thanksgiving and finally ended up going very traditional.  I also debated a lot which pie crust and which apple pie recipe to use.  My debate was between this on which I found on recipe shoebox and another which I found on everyday food storage.  I still want to try the one on everyday foodstorage, but not for a couple of days.  I need a cooking break for a bit.  :)  Not to mention a couple of days to clean up and blog.  And then there is Christmas to decorate for.
Soo, pies.  I was actually a bit disappointed in the pies.  This apple was definitely my favorite of the 2.  It did have a good flavor, and the crust was decent.  It was flaky.  It was also probably one of the prettiest pies I've ever made,  but it was super juicy on the inside to the point of juicy puddles.  I let it cool like the directions said and we ate it the next day.  It was better when I reheated it.  Definitely suggest that (of course, DH never reheated his and liked it just fine.)  The second half of the pie didn't seem to have the juicy puddle problem either, so go figure on that one.  Maybe it was sitting yet another day.  I love this second picture.  Shows the flaky crust, the cinnamon all stuck to the top, and the pool of juice I was talking about.
If making this pie again, I would definitely mix the sugar, spice and apples together then put them all in the pie.  I didn't like tossing all of the cinnamon/spice on top.  It seemed to just stick to the apples on top.  I did forget to add the butter.  I realized it after I had the top on and crimped.  So not worth trying to get it in there.  It was only 1 Tablespoon.  Anyway, I don't think that would have had any difference in the cinnamon and spices dispersing through the pie.

The crust (according the recipe shoebox it is the Maryland State Fair winner from 1979.)

  • 1 cup crisco (I used butter flavored)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg + enough ice water to make 1/2 cup liquid
  1. Cut shortening into flour and salt until pea size.  
  2. Put egg in 1/2 cup measuring cup and add ice water to the top.  Make a slight well in the flour/salt/shortening mixture.  Add the egg/ice and stir with a fork until barely clinging together.  Knead with hands for 15-20 seconds just until it sticks together. 
  3. Divide dough in 1/2.  Roll out half of the dough on a well floured surface (preferably some type of pie mat or plastic wrap to make it easy to transfer to the pan.  Flip over the pie mat or plastic wrap and center the crust over  the bottom of the pie tin.  Press in place.   Roll out the other 1/2 of the dough and set aside.
Apple pie
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 6-7 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped.  
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  1. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over the bottom of the uncooked pie crust.  
  2. Fill crust with 1/2 of the apples.  Sprinkle on another 1/2 cup sugar, then add the rest of the applse so they mound an inch and a half over the edge.  Combine remaining sugar (1/2 cup) with a pinch of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in a small bowl.  Pour evenly over the top of the apples. Cut butter up into small cubes and place evenly over the top of the apples and spices.  (Next time I'd just combine this whole step - mix all of the apples with all the rest of the sugar (1 cup) and spices and pour it all in the pie.  I'd still put the flour mix on the bottom though.)
  3. Place the top crust over the apples.  Pinch top and bottom layers together, trim, and crimp or form as desired.  (She did this cute thing where she cut out left overs of the crust and put them on top to be decorative.  I was actually very proud of myself for making a leaf - I had no fall cookie cutters so I took a round metal biscuit cutter and squished it to a leaf shape.  Worked perfectly.)
  4. Brush crust lightly with milk.  Sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon of sugar. Poke or cut holes for the steam to escape.  
  5. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 375 and bake for 45 minutes more.  Watch pie carefully the last 20 minutes and tent with foil if necessary to avoid over browning.  Remove and let cool completely.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Reuben Sandwich

Brandon made this sandwich the other day for dinner.  Nothing sounded good, and I wanted something easy. They were really good and I'm not a sauerkraut fan.  It isn't in my regular format because he typed it up, but I'm not changing it.  :)

1 cup sauerkraut
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar
mix and cook on stove top until all the liquid is absorbed

8 slices Rye bread
16 oz corned beef
8 oz Swiss Cheese
Spreadable butter

Spread Spicy Thousand Island on inside of each rye
layer, cheese, corned beef, sauerkraut, and cheese
spread butter on the outside and cook in a Panini press

Also a good addition is pickled onions

Spicy Thousand Island

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped sweet onions
2 Tbsp cocktail sauce
Mix together

Steak Tacos

Here is another one Brandon picked and made.  It too is from the American Test Kitchen 2008 book.  It was good, but not great in my opinion.  Brandon had it marked a 5, but I lowered it.  I know that part of the problem was we used some chuck we had in the freezer so our meat was a bit tough.  I can't hold that against the recipe.  It was totally our fault.  The flavor was still good, I just didn't think it was 5 star.  I did like the combination of the beef with the pickled onions, but honestly, I think the pickled onions added more to the panini Brandon made me the night before. The picture here is just of the meat and the pickled onions.  Those things showed better in the bowls than buried in the tacos.

1.5 to 1.75 lbs sirloin steak cut into 4 equal pieces
Sprinkle steaks with 1 Tbsp salt
Spread herb paste all over the steak, reserving the paste for later use
Let steak and paste sit for 30 mins
Scrape paste from steak
Sprinkle steak with 1/2 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp pepper
Heat 2 Tbsp of oil in saute pan and pan fry steaks 2 to 3 min on each side, and 2 mins on the edges
Let steak rest for 5 mins, then slice thin.
Mix paste mixture with cooked beef

Meat mixture, pickled onions, and if desired sour cream and lettuce.

Herb Paste

1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3 garlic cloves minced
3 scallions roughly chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon or lime squeezed for juice

Place in food processor and blend for 3 to 4 pulses, scrape side if needed
Great with chicken or beef

Pickled onions

Here is another recipe from Brandon.  It actually is from a steak taco recipe in the Americas test kitchen book.  He made these for a roast beef panini he was making.  Then liked them so much he decided to try the tacos the next day since he already had the onions.  This picture is of the onions in my yummy panini.  They are pictures alone in a bowl in the next post.


  • 1 Red onion sliced thin
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 jalapeƱo sliced thin
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Place red onion slices in a quart jar.
  2. Place remaining ingredients in a small saucepan.  Bring mixture to a boil then add to jar. Let sit for 1/2 then drain and transfer to a plastic container.

goes great on roast beef and cheddar paninis

American Farm Sausage

This is the sausage Brandon made to go in our stuffing on Thanksgiving.  We also had it for breakfast.  Very tasty.


  • 5 lbs cubed pork butt
  • 5 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg


  1. Mix all together and grind on course.  

Danish Sausage

5 lbs or pork butt cubed
5 tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice
2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp cloves
1 tsp cardamom
1 large minced onion
mix together and grind on course ground
1 cup cold beef bouillon and mix together

I would use the bouillon if I was stuffing into casing, it not using casing I would use about 1/2 the bouillon.


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