Friday, October 29, 2010

slow cooker pesto chicken and sweet potatoes

I now teach 2 days of piano lessons until dinner time so I'm trying to make more slow cooker meals, but I'm just not very good at it.  I guess I need to read more on 365 crockpot.  I tried another recipe from there today, but ended up with dry chicken - very dry.  I overcooked it - it is totally my fault.  Why do I not follow directions?  It was supposed to cook on high for 4-5 hours, but I left it 5 1/2.  I thought that would be ok because my chicken was frozen and my sweet potatoes were a bit large, but it wasn't.  The flavor of the meal was good, and the chicken was redeemable when soaked in the juices from the bottom of the slow cooker.  We topped the sweet potatoes with butter and cinnamon, but even they were overdone.  If you are a better crock pot cook than I am, this could be good. :)  It was also pretty simple to make.  I actually tried it because it was a layered meal in the crockpot.  The idea intrigued me.  Too bad it didn't work better for me.  I think that is part of the reason I overdid it.  I couldn't see the chicken and I could tell nothing just by looking at the sweet potatoes.  Live and learn.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon or lime juice (I used lime juice)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 2 Tablespoons pinenuts, walnuts or sunflower seeds (I used walnuts)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Meal ingredients
  • 4 chicken thighs or breast halves (I used 1 lb 9 oz. of breast halves - may have only been 3, they were in a big block frozen when I tossed them in the crockpot.)
  • sliced mozzarella cheese (enough slices to cover the chicken)
  • aluminum foil
  • 4 small sweet potatoes, washed well, skin on (Mine were larger than I wanted, but the smallest they had at the store so I chopped them in half.  Not sure that was such a good idea.  They blackened on the edges.
  1. Combine all pesto ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree.  When it is liquefied, taste and season if necessary.
  2. Place the chicken in the bottom of a 6 quart slow cooker.  Top with mozzarella cheese.  Pour pesto evenly on top.  Cover with aluminum foil.
  3. Clean sweet potatoes well and place on top of the foil.  Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 6-7.  

sugar cookies with cream cheese icing

So today for playgroup I decided it would be fun to let the kids decorate some pumpkin cookies, and it gave me an excuse to try a new cookie recipe with a good way to get rid of a lot of cookies without eating them all.  I need that.  I have no willpower when it comes to eating cookies.  I had seen this recipe on My kitchen cafe this past week,  and I wanted to try it, but not if they were going to sit in my house for me to eat.   I was more than happy to give it a try to share.
After all Mel's bragging about these cookies I was sadly not super impressed.  Maybe I overstirred the batter, maybe I added too much flour (I did add a Tablespoon or 2, but I had also turned my mixer on too fast and poofed out a lot of flour and the dough was very wet.  To me I was replacing the flour on my counter)  Anyway, not sure what would make these end up dry, but I found them a bit dry.  I overcooked a couple of batches according to mel's directions to not let the bottoms brown at all, but even the not brown batch seemed a bit dry.   Doesn't seem possible as wet as the dough was - it was a bit hard to roll.  I had to roll it with plenty of flour.  I also had to be gentle so it wouldn't be totally stuck to the counter.  Anyway, from the look of the dough, I really thought they would live up to the melt in your mouth review that Mel had given them.  The dough was light and fluffy.  The cookies look light and fluffy, but when eating the cookie I felt like I need more and more icing.  ?? What I did like was the flavor.   I liked the lemon zest, almond, and vanilla.
Mel's icing was also good.  Nice and fluffy, and wonderfully tasty with the cream cheese.  It was delicious.  However I'm not sure it is better enough to be worth all of the cream in it.  I guess I'm just a simpleton in my cookies.  I want them to roll out easy, not need refrigeration and my icing just has to be thick, not fluffy and creamy.
Mel has lots of notes about exactly how to cook these here, but I'm just putting the simple directions from  Good things catered.  I may try them again because the flavor was good, but I would definitely not follow the mel directions of adding 2 cups flour first.  I'd just add it all and stir it less.  Her other directions are good though.


  • 1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks) room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest (2 lemons for me.)
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Cream butter and sugars in a mixer for 5 minutes
  3. Add eggs 1 at a time, mixing thoroughly.  Add vanilla, almond and lemon zest.
  4. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt a little at a time.  Do not over mix, this process should take about 1 minute.
  5. Chill dough or roll and cut right away.
  6. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or spray lightly with cooking spray.  Bake cookies for 7-8 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool and frost.

Here is Mel's icing


  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  1. In a large bowl, combine softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla.  Mix until very smooth and light with no lumps.  In a separate bowl, beat the cream to stiff peaks.  (I actually used both my kitchenaid and bosch to do this - one beat the cream cheese and one beat the whipping cream - was done super fast.)  
  2. Add the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture.  Mix until well combined and smooth.  Store in the fridge.

Pumpkin pancakes with cinnamon brown butter

For some reason I feel obliged to do some things at least things pumpkin or Halloween.  Maybe it is because so many of the other blogs I read are doing it.  However, I'm just not into making a lot of sugary sweets around Halloween because the kids are going to get a lot of candy anyway.  But I have been enjoying trying cute dinners, and pumpkin dishes.  This morning we had pumpkin pancakes from my taste of home magazine.  They were good.  A bit thick, but tasty.  The syrup that went with them was Awesome!  Unhealthy, but delectable.  I was only going to try 1 bite with syrup, then either switch to regular syrup or yogurt, or eat them plain like I do a lot of the time.  Should have tried the syrup at the end, not the beginning.  I did just pour small amounts on my plate and dip into it, but oh my, it was tasty.  I loved the toasty flavor you got from baking the butter, and the cinnamon, and the pecans.  YUM!  
The pancakes?  Hmm, under the buttery syrup I'm not sure what their actual flavor was.  I would think they were OK.  I remember trying a bite and wanting to use the syrup again, but that is just because the syrup was sooo good.  

  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  1. In a small heavy saucepan, cook butter over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.  Add the maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Remove from the heat; stir in pecans.
  2. In a small bowl combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, pumpkin and cheese.  Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.  (This looked a bit hard to do - the just until moistened part - because the batter was rather thick - but I was just catching glimpses in between my exercising.)
  3. Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a greased hot griddle;  turn when bubbles form on top.  Cook until the second side is golden brown.  Serve with brown butter.

sloppy joe pie

I started out following a recipe I saw in some of my old Pillsbury magazines.  I was looking for something cute and halloweeny.  It was titled sloppy joe pie, so I had in my head sloppy joes.  It called for turkey sausage, so I had Brandon make some chicken sausage (recipe to follow.)  As I was cooking this up, I decided the kids were going to think it was too spicy.  It had sausage, green chilis, salsa, onion, and chili sauce.  I didn't really feel like spicy, I thought sloppy joe sounded better, so I ended up just making something up.  It turned out OK.  Would have been way better with just plain ground beef or turkey rather than sausage.  I wasn't a fan of the fennel flavor of the sausage combined with the sloppy joe flavor of the Mamwich I threw in there.  (Yes, we made home made sausage and then I threw in a can of Mamwich.  Don't judge me, I was making it up at the last minute, and I actually like mamwich better than the few homemade sloppy joe recipes I've tried.)


  • 1 lb. chicken sausage (I'd use ground beef or turkey next time though
  • 1 refrigerated pie crust, softened
  • 1 can mamwhich
  • 1 cup frozen corn (I didn't measure this - may have been a bit more - about 1/2 the small bag)
  • 1 can black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (or 1 Tablespoon minced dried)
  1. Heat oven to 450.  Remove pie crust from pouch.  Unfold crust.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet.  With a sharp knife, cut jack-o-lantern face from the crust.  Use the eye, nose and mouth scraps to make a stem, leaves, and tendrils.  Pinch in place (can also use a bit of water.)  Bake at 450 for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown (mine took all 11.)  (In my other cookbook with the same recipe, they made an orange egg wash to brush on, but I didn't feel like doing that. 
  2. Meanwhile, crumble sausage into a large non-stick skillet.  Add onion;  Cook 8-10 minutes unilt no longer pink.  Add all remaining ingredients and mix well.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes to heat through and combine flavors, but not too long so it doesn't dry out.
  3. Place pie crust on top of sloppy joe mix to serve.

Chicken Enchilada chili (slow cooker)

I found this recipe on 365 crockpot and it looked good so I decided to give it a try.
I am trying hard to learn to use dried beans, so I thought I'd try it with this recipe.  After all, Stephanie said I could use them.  After having bad luck with the last beans and rice recipe I tried, and because it said on the blog that if I were using dry beans, it may take a bit longer to cook, I decided to try a new method to see if the beans would get done faster - No luck.  :(  Rather than just toss everything in the slow cooker, I put just the beans (soaked overnight and everything)  and liquids in the slow cooker.  Then I cooked that on high for a few hours.  Then I added my chicken and cooked it on low for 5-5 1/2 hours, but it still wasn't ready, so I shredded my chicken and bumped it back up to high.  It still wasn't done at 6:30.  Most of the beans were ok, so I served it anyway - kids had to get to scouts, but then I put it back on the slow cooker and left it for another hour and a half.  Then the beans were nice.  Next time, I think I'll try boiling the beans in a pot for an hour then putting them in the crock pot.  From some of the things I've read I don't think the beans absorb liquid well when they are in with acidic foods like tomatoes.  I didn't want to use canned beans because I thought they would turn to mush with so much cooking, but I will have to experiment to actually get the results I want.
As far as flavor goes, this was OK.  I was hoping it would have a bit stronger enchilada flavor than it did.  The tomatoes seemed to make the enchilada flavor lessen.  If making again, I may just use more enchilada sauce, and/or drain my tomatoes??  Not to sure.  I did use this for taco salad today where I added some taco sauce and that helped the flavor, but then again I love taco sauce.
Here is how I made it.  Including all of the directions to get my beans to be soft enough.


  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken (I used boneless skinless chicken breast)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) enchilada sauce
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans pinto or kidney beans, undrained (or 1 cup dried pinto beans, soaked overnight-I tried to use these but was not super successful.)
  • 1 onion, diced (or 1 Tablespoon dried, minced onion flakes - I used these because I was out of onion.)
  • 1-2 teaspoons chili powder 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
Directions (if using dry beans.)
  1. Pour enchilada sauce and canned tomatoes into the bottom of a 6 quart slow cooker.  Add beans, celery, onion and spices.  Stir to combine.  Cover and cook on high for 3 hours.
  2. Add the chicken.  Cover and cook on low for 4 1/2 -5 hours.
  3. Shred the chicken.  Cover and cook on high for 1-3 more hours until beans are desired tenderness.

If using canned beans, just put everything in the crockpot, cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours.

We served ours with sour cream and white cheddar cheese on top.  I made some cheddar quesadillas to go on the side.  I would have liked it with chips as well.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Menu 10/27/2010

I'm actually starting early on my menu this week.  Yea!

Pumpkin pancakes with cinnamon brown butter TOH p. 101
Pumpkin filled crescent rolls TOH p. 100
Chocolate chip banana belgian waffles TOH p. 108

candy corn pizza 
Jack-o-lantern sloppy joe pie (pb 01 p. 58 or pb 06, p. 30)
Dinner in a pumkin (from Karley)
Potato crusted snapper with orange maple veggie ribbons (S&D p. 22)
Lemon Chicken (from Karley)
Pesto chicken with sweet potato (slow cooker)
Herb crusted pork loin (Test kitchen p. 179)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

everything bread

This recipe was marked in my Taste of Home magazine as one I wanted to try, so I decided to make it to go with out tuna salad last night.  I did some altering of the recipe to suit my tastes, and make it a bit healthier.  I also skipped the first rise and just let the dough rest.  It still turned out well.  DH loved the salt on top (I actually halved the salt and still didn't like it, but I know I'm not a salt fan.)  I wasn't a fan of the caraway seed which I had also halved from the original recipe.  DH said it was the salt and onion that made this for him, so next time I'll probably leave the caraway seed off altogether.  Even at 1/2 teaspoon I thought it took over too much of the flavor because it is so strong of a seed.  Other than that, I really liked the bread.  I think I may have left it in just a tad long.  I was looking for a hot pad, but also thinking it had to look darker because the picture in the magazine did.  I'd take it out right at the 22 minute mark next time as well.


  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 3/4 cups warm water
  • 1 cup warm milk (I used skim)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse seas salt or kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced onion (I only had chopped, but I crushed that with my mortar and pestle)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  1. In a large bowl or mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add the milk, butter, sugar, egg yolk, salt and wheat flour.  Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.  Stir in enough of the flour to form a firm dough (It took all 2 1/2 cups for me yesterday.)  Knead until smooth. (by hand or in a mixer -5-8 minutes depending on mixer/by hand.) 
  2.  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top.  cover and let rise until doubled (about 1 hour.) (I did skip this step.  I just let it rest for 5 minutes, separated it into 3, rolled them a bit, let them rest, and rolled them all the way out.)
  3. Punch dough down.  Turn onto a lightly floured (or greased) surface;  divide into thirds.  Shape each into a 20 inch rope.  Place ropes on a large greased baking sheet and braid.  Pinch ends to seal and tuck under.)  Cover and let rise until doubled (I boil water in my microwave and then stick my bread in there when it gets all steamy to let it rise.)
  4. Combine egg white and water.  Brush over dough.  Combine salt, onion, and seeds;  sprinkle over bread.  Bake at 375 for 22-28 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.  (that was easier said than done because it made a nice large loaf.

baked oatmeal 2

I have wanted to try another baked oatmeal since I tried the first one a while back.  I found this recipe at Jamie Cooks it up.  I would have subbed out the butter for applesauce if I had had any, but I didn't.  Instead I reduced the butter to 1/2 of the original.  It was really good.  I'm glad I stuck with the butter.  It gave a super crisp kind of caramelized crunch to the bits that stuck to the pan.  It truly was like eating an oatmeal cookie for breakfast.  It didn't make as much as I expected.  I guess if I had been making it I would have noticed that when mixing the ingredients that it wasn't a lot but Dear Hubby was making it as I was trying to get a migraine to go away.  So sweet of him.  Who can blame him for not doubling - the recipe says it makes 6 servings.  Luckily the big boys had gone to school already.  There just are no left overs for them for tomorrow.
I did warm some berries to add on top.  I decided to sprinkle a little brown sugar (maybe a teaspoon) on the berries so they wouldn't be tart, but not too much because the oatmeal was very sweet.  It was good with the berries, and I felt it was better for me to add some fruit, but it was super tasty dry like a cookie.  I think next time I will reduce the sugar a bit.  Not too much because the caramelization was great, but 2 Tablespoons per serving was a lot for me.
2 pictures today - one of the oatmeal on the pan - kind of messy looking, but shows how it crisped up, then one in the bowl with berries - much more appetizing.


  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Optional toppings

  • frozen berries (I used 1/4-1/3 cup raspberries, blueberries and 5-7 large strawberries)
  • brown sugar (I only used about a teaspoon)
  1. Combine all ingredients and mix well.  
  2. Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray and spread the batter out evenly.  (I think I would line with parchment or foil sprayed with cooking spray next time.)
  3. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Top with warm berries and brown sugar if desired.  (I sprinkled the berries with brown sugar then warmed them in the microwave about 2 1/2 minutes (stirring and checking temperature after each minute.)

Kidney bean tuna salad

Yet another recipe from  I picked it and put it in the menu, then it never looked good, but there was no way I had time to make the other option for dinner, so this won last night.  I was plenty glad it did because it turned out delicious.  I did change some things a bit, but nothing massive.   Reduced the oil, didn't add cilantro, doubled it, used limes instead of lemons because that is what I had etc.  I really was surprised at how much I liked this.  I loved the texture of the beans in the salad, and the flavors went together so well.  I was afraid it would be too much dill, that I wouldn't like the olives, etc.  Not so.   I liked everything about it.  I ended up just wrapping mine in the large piece of lettuce I dished it on and eating it as a wrap.  Yum!


  • 1 15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 5 oz. cans water-packed tuna, drained
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese (we used white cheddar)
  • 6 Tablespoons chopped olives (probably about 1 small can, but I didn't have any)
  • 1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
Dressing Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons lime juice (I kind of overflowed all of my teaspoons though.)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Optional ingredients for serving
  • Lettuce leaves, or pitas, or bread
  1. In a bowl, combine first 6 ingredients.  Whisk dressing ingredients in a bowl until well combined.  Stir everything together and serve on lettuce.  (or as a sandwich, or in pitas.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

pumpkin cake with pecan coconut topping

This is probably my favorite thing to make with canned pumpkin.  I couldn't believe I hadn't posted it, so I finally made it just to post it, and that was 2 weeks ago.
This particular time, the cake came out thicker than normal and kind of cakey.  Usually it is a bit thinner.  I'm thinking it is because I was using a Betty crocker mix which has more than 4 cups in it.  Duncan Hines has less than 4 cups.  I don't have notes on Pillsbury.  
I originally got this recipe from a coworker.  It had you melt butter and pour it on top of the sugar, coconut, pecan mixture, but I didn't like making it that way.  I made it into a crumble.  That is my preferred way to make it and how I'm writing it up now.
Everyone around here loves this cake.  I personally love coconut and pecan.  How can you go wrong with that.  I really should have thought to take a nice picture of this on a plate.  I was a bit busy and had company when we made it so my picture isn't the greatest.

  • 1 box yellow cake mix (4 cups)
  • 1 regular can of pumpkin (original recipe has pumpkin pie filling, but I have never used it.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional -this is new this time around - it is still wonderful without it.)
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup butter
  1. Combine 3 cups of the box cake mix, eggs, pumpkin, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice in the bowl of a mixer.  Blend on medium speed for 2 minutes until well blended.  
  2. Meanwhile, combine remaining 1 cup cake mix, coconut, brown sugar, and butter and pecans in a bowl until crumbly.  (I usually do this with my hands.)  
  3. Pour cake batter into a greased 9X13 pan.  Sprinkle with coconut/pecan mixture.  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  

Stuffed potato pancakes

This is another recipe I found going through my e-mails.  It too is from  I did not like this one as well as the soup though.  I had many problems with it.  Maybe because I'm no expert at potato pancakes or something, but it was just way too much work for results I was less than thrilled with.  First of all I followed the recipe exactly for the potato part.  For the meat, I didn't have an onion so I added onion powder.  I used 8 potatoes, but that seemed like a lot for the amount of meat that I had.  I also thought the potato mixture was a bit runny.  They didn't stay together well like a pancake which made the whole putting them together a bit difficult.
Today I went and reread the reviews on allrecipes and cam away feeling like I don't know how to cook.  No one else mentions the potato part being so runny. I wonder if it is just lack of experience with potato pancakes.  Maybe I was supposed to dry my potatoes after shredding?  I'm sure if the thought ever crosses my mind to try these again I will shred my potatoes with the fine side of my shredder, not the thicker.  That would let them cook better (some potato pieces were not completely cooked even thought he meat was)  and maybe form into better "pancakes."  The picture I was looking at had shredded cheese on top and I mistook that for the thickness of the potatoes.  I also think I would not use 8 potatoes unless they were all very tiny.  Or use 8 potatoes and 1 lb. of beef.  I had to make a second batch of meat even after making some very large pancakes on my second batch.

Here is how I made them.


  • 8 potatoes, peeled and shredded (would only use 5 or 6 next time)
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • garlic seasoning (added after the first batch)
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • onion powder (I just poured)
  • garlic salt (I also just poured some on -1/4-1/2 teaspoon?)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs

  • 2 teaspoon vegetable oil
  1. Mix together potatoes, flour, baking powder, 3 eggs, salt and pepper in a bowl.  I whisked everything but the potatoes then mixed them in.)  In another bowl, mix ground beef, onion powder, garlic salt, egg and bread crumbs.
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-low heat, and drop a rounded tablespoon of potato mixture into the hot skillet.  Spread and flatten the pancake out a little, and place about 2 teaspoons of beef mixture on the pancake, spreading the filling out almost to the edges of the pancake.  Drop another rounded tablespoon of potato mixture on top of the beef and spread it out to completely cover the beef.  Fry until the bottom of the pancake is golden brown, about 5 minutes, then flip and fry the other side until golden, 1-2 more minutes.  (we fried equal minutes on both sides to completely cook the potatoes. 
Good luck.  Like I said, they were well rated on allrecipes.  Their flavor was ok, I just didn't like how the potato pancake part worked.  If you have any pointers let me know.


Pasta Fagioli Soup

I get a lot of e-mails from different places of recipes and I am famous for not looking at them.  I never want to erase them because I want to look at them and see if there is anything I would like to try.  I finally looked through a few of them the other day and that is where I found this recipe.  It is from
I must admit, I did get lazy and just used a can of diced tomatoes because I was running short on time, and I didn't find any spinach pasta that the recipe called for, but the soup still turned out very nice.  A bit spicier than I expected.   1/4 teaspoon just didn't seem like an overabundance of red pepper flakes.   I would probably cut the red pepper flakes in half next time for my anti-spicy family, but it was still good.  I served it with a Caesar salad.


  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 Tablespoon butter (not in original recipe, but we needed something to cook the veggies in.)
  • 1 onion. chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained (original recipe had 2 peeled, chopped tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked pasta 
  • 1 15 oz. can great northern beans, undrained
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook celery, onion, garlic, parsley, Italian seasoning, red pepper and salt until onion is translucent.  Stir in chicken broth, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Add pasta and cook until pasta is tender (we did 7 minutes because that is what our pasta box said to cook it for.)
  3. Stir in beans and heat through.  Serve with grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.


  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook celery, onion, garlic, parsley, Italian seasoning, red pepper and salt until onion is translucent. Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes and tomato sauce, and simmer on low for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Add pasta and cook 10 minutes, until pasta is tender.
  3. Add undrained beans and mix well. Heat through. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Chex mixes

For some reason I'm on a chex mix kick this week.  I want to try all of their recipes.  I think it is because I tried some snacky popcorn recipes, and these are similar.  I'm also trying to combine things I learn with the popcorns, chex mixes, and granolas to my making of snack mixes knowledge.  
For example, the first chex mix is from a chex ad in my taste of home magazine.  It called for 1/4 cup butter, but in a granola I recently used, they used applesauce as a binder.  I decided to try and apply that to the chex mix since it was an apple flavored mix anyway, and it seemed to work reasonably well.  It wasn't my favorite flavor wise because of the wheat chex, but it was the healthiest of the mixes I've made so far thanks to the wheat chex.
The chocolate caramel chex mix is from the back of the chocolate chex box.  I found it to be a bit over the top on sweetness, and I didn't add the melted white chocolate chips that it called for.  It was good, but I couldn't eat too much of it.  I think if I made it again, I would probably use 1/2 chocolate chex, and 1/2 rice chex or something to make it less sweet, and I would probably also add more than 8 cups total of cereal for that amount of caramel.
The third recipe is also from the back of a chex box.  I did have to change it up.  I wanted a bit more mix, so I initially increased the amount of cereal by 1/2 cup each type, and the amount of popcorn by 1 cup, and later another cup.  I did not increase the butter, and after adding 1/2 of the sugar/cinnamon mix, I tasted it and it was plenty sweet so I did not add the second 1/2 of the sugar mixture.  I really liked this mix.  Probably my favorite of the 3.
I still have a couple more mixes I want to try, but here are the first 3.
Cinnamon apple chex mix

  • 5 cups wheat chex
  • 1 cup lightly salted almonds
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup (I used reduced calorie)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped dried apples
  • 1/2 cup yogurt covered raisins 
  1. In a large microwavable bowl mix chex and almonds.  
  2. In a 2 cup microwavable cup, microwave applesauce, butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and cinnamon uncovered on high for about 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute until mixture is boiling.  Stir
  3. Pour over cereal and stir until evenly coated.  Microwave on high for 3 minutes stirring after each minute. Stir in apples.  Microwave on high for 2 minutes or until apples begin to brown.  (I just did 2 minutes.  My apples really didn't brown.)
  4. Pour onto wax paper or aluminum foil.  Cool for 5 minutes.  Stir in raisins.  (Make sure the mixture is super cool.  I thought it was cool when I mixed in my raisins but they melted all over the place.  Tasted good but was messy.)
Chocolate caramel crunch chex mix

  • 8 cups Chocolate chex cereal (That is almost the whole box)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  1. In a large microwavable bowl, measure cereal; set aside.  
  2. In a 2 cup microwavable measuring cup, microwave brown sugar, butter and corn syrup uncovered on high 1-2 minutes until melted and smooth, stirring after 1 minute.  Stir in baking soda until dissolved.  Pour over cereal stirring until evenly coated.
  3. Microwave on high 3 minutes stirring every minute.  Spread on wax paper or foil.  Let cool 10 minutes.  Break into bite-size pieces.  

Snickerdoodle Chex mix

  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups cinnamon chex cereal
  • 2 1/2 cups chocolate chex
  • 6 cups popped popcorn
  • 1/4 cup butter
  1. In a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon; set aside.  In a large microwavable bowl, mix cereals and popcorn
  2. Melt butter in microwave on high about 40 seconds.  Pour over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly coated.
  3. Microwave uncovered on high 2 minutes stirring after 1 minutes.  Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mixture evenly over cereal mixture stirring to coat.  (Just noticing I was supposed to microwave this for 1 more minute.  I'll have to make some more tomorrow and try that.  I'll just use the other 1/2 of the cinnamon sugar I mixed up yesterday.)

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Chicken apple pizza

We have been trying to have pizza a bit more often since everyone likes it, but in addition to a regular pizza, I like to try something new. This was our something new this past week. The original recipe called for a chicken-apple sausage. I would have loved to try this with chicken apple sausage, but I didn't go and find any. Saw a couple of recipes for chicken apple sausage, but I really didn't have time to make them because we ended up doing pizza on a piano lesson day (my regular slow cooker night because I'm busy teaching and don't have time to make an elaborate meal.) I'd love to try this with a chicken apple sausage.  I saw an intriguing recipe at  And another rather different, yet still intriguing recipe at  They used ice rather than fat in their sausage - very interesting.  Another day.  
This recipe was in my Taste of home magazine, but it was in an add for lucky leaf pie filling.  
I have to be honest, I was a bit worried to try this pizza.  I mean, apple slices, onion, chicken and gouda - I wasn't sure if I even liked gouda, but this pizza was really good.  I loved the caramelized onions on it.  Yum.
This recipe also had baby arugula on it.  I bought arugula and everything then forgot to add it at the end.  Silly me.  I'm writing it how I made it because I changed a few things.  Our pizza was a bit smaller than the original recipe.  It wanted you to make a 14" pizza but our pizza peel and pizza stone won't really accommodate a pizza quite that large.  I've adjusted the amounts accordingly where I could.  Some things like cheese and chicken I don't measure.  I just add until it looks nice.  We also never follow directions for cooking pizza.  The original had you cook it cooler, cook the crust part way, add the toppings and cook again.  We just put the oven as hot as it goes and cook it raw crust with toppings until the cheese is melted and crust is done.


  • 1/2 Tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion sliced 1/4 inch thick 
  • pre-cooked chicken (not sure on an amount)
  • 1 pizza crust - we used a roman dough, but you could use a tube refrigerated crust.
  • 1 can premium pie filling (we used the sugar free.  It had tons of apples.)
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups shredded gouda cheese (original called for gouda or provolone)
  1. Pre heat oven as hot as it will go.  (550 for us.)  
  2. In a small skillet, saute onions in butter until tender and slightly caramelized.  
  3. On a floured or greased surface, roll dough into a 10-12 inch round pizza.  Spread with pie filling.  (We did not use the whole can.  Maybe 2/3 of it.)  Top with onion and chicken.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake 8-10 minutes until cheese is melted and crust is golden.  (You may want to check it after 5, but it seems like this one took a bit longer to cook.)
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German roast

I had this on the menu last week, but the original recipe called for a beer or nonalcoholic beer.  I wasn't going to put beer in my beef, and couldn't decide what to substitute.  On Thursday I needed a slow cooker meal and it was this or one that I should have soaked beans overnight for, so this one.  I decided to sub out the beer with beef broth.  It turned out really well.  I particularly liked the gravy.  I also liked that I just tossed in the whole frozen beef and let the crock pot do all the work.  (OK, not entirely true, I did cut off a large layer of fat first. 

  • 1 boneless beef chuck roast (4 lbs.) trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cold water.
  1. Sprinkle beef with pepper.  Place in a 5 quart slow cooker with the sliced onions.  Combine broth, ketchup, and brown sugar in a bowl.  Pour over beef.  
  2. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until meat is tender.
  3. Remove meat and onions to a serving platter; keep warm.  Skim fat from cooking juices; transfer to a small saucepan. (I had a ton of liquid, and it was hard to skim the fat from the top, so I just started sucking it out with my turkey baster and putting it in the saucepan.  I just took it from the bottom so I wasn't getting any of the fat floating on top.  I probably used 1.5-2 cups liquid, but I had like 4-5 cups.)  Bring liquid to a boil. In a small bowl, combine flour and water until smooth.  Gradually stir into the pan.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Serve with roast.
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slow cooker red beans and rice

I made this red beans and rice at some time last week.  I'm trying to make more dishes with dry beans to better learn how to use them.  I'd like to have more vegetarian days cooking and beans are a great source of protein and fiber.  I just don't know how to make them well.  I tried this recipe I found at crockpot 365.  It was only OK.  I liked the flavor ok.  It was a bit spicy for my liking, and I wished that the coconut flavor was just a touch stronger.  Actually I think that the spiciness just distracted from the coconut for me.    I was expecting a stronger coconut, and less bite.    I also didn't like the rice cooking with the beans.  By the time the beans were done the rice was more like rice pudding than anything else.  While I love rice pudding, that only added to my expectation of a strong coconut flavor and left me expecting sweetness, not spiciness.
I do however like the idea of this meal which is why I am posting it.  I liked the coconut flavor with the lime, and I liked the red beans and rice, but I would probably cook the beans in the slow cooker in the chicken broth on high for a few hours, then add the rice and coconut milk later.  I also left out the salt, thinking that it would be salty enough with the chicken stock, but it needed it.  I added it close to the end when I added a bit more water because the beans were not done.  I also read up on crockpot 365 that she doesn 't like the crockpot I own because it has a couple of wholes in the top where a spoon can clip to the top of it.  I was actually happy with it because it is the first one I have had in a while that didn't cook too hot, but apparently too much liquid can steam out of the wholes.  I'm thinking maybe this could have contributed to the beans not being done on time, and my having to add extra liquid.   Last time I used it I shoved toothpicks in the holes to lessen the escaping steam.  With those modifications and less red pepper I think I would really like this meal.
Recap of my for next time ideas
  • block holes in my crock pot's lid with toothpicks
  • start beans in chicken broth, onions, garlic and red pepper flakes early in the morning
  • add rice, coconut milk, lime juice and salt after the beans are starting to soften in the afternoon
  • use less red pepper flakes - 1/4-1/2 teaspoon  

  • 1 cup dried small red beans 
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I'd use less next time.)
  • 1 14.5 oz. can coconut milk (full fat is best.  If using the light, add a couple drops of coconut extract- I may actually add a couple of drops of coconut extract even with full fat.)
  • 3 cups chicken broth (I used stock)
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain basmati white rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 limes (original recipe had these cut in wedges as an option, but I squeezed them in when I added extra liquid.)
  1. Place sorted beans in a 4 quart slow cooker.  Cover with water and soak overnight.  In the morning, drain the water and place beans in a large pot of fresh water.  Boil rapidly on the stovetop for at least 10 minutes before draining and placing in the crockpot.  click here to see the good reason why.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Pour in the coconut milk and chicken broth.  Stir in rice and salt.  Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or until beans are bite tender.  Before eating, squeeze on a bit of lime juice.  
Those are the directions from 365 crockpot.  She apparently had better luck than me, but she knows her crock pot.  I did find out a lot of good information on her site and recommend stopping by and reading it if you ever had any questions about crock pots.  I also read about her flops and found them quite amusing.  Definitely a site worth checking out.
As we ate this I give it only 2.5 star.  It was fine, but could have been better.  My changes for next time are above.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

peanut butter and jelly muffins

Here is another breakfast recipe from recipe shoebox.  This is actually the first recipe I have tried from there that I just did not have any luck with.  It looks so nice and simple on that site.  Just put the dough in the muffin tin, nicely add the jelly, top with more dough and whah la, cute little stuffed muffins.  Well, that was not the case for me.  The dough was very thick for some reason so it was semi hard to get it into the muffin tins in the first place.  Then the jam I was using was home-made and a tiny bit thin (not syrupy or anything, just not jelly, jam or preserves.)  Anyway, it tried to slide all over the place.  Then when I topped the jam with the last bits of dough, it didn't cover well.  That led to some awful problems when these cooked - the jelly melted and came out the sides of the muffin all over the top of the muffin tin.  So messy.  They were also a bit dry (maybe due to the fact that they were soo thick.)  I followed the recipe except that I used full fat peanut butter not reduced (should have made them less dry right?)  I also didn't use sugar free spreadable fruit, just regular homemade strawberry jam. I can't imagine those 2 changes making that big of a difference in the muffin.  Not sure what went wrong.
I'm not posting the recipe, just the link to the recipe.  I like the concept of these and I like the flavor of peanut butter and jelly.  If I try these again, I will probably add a bit of sweetener to the muffin dough.  Maybe honey or agave to make the batter a little less thick.   I'd probably also thin out the batter a bit. Maybe add a banana?
If you want cute pictures check out the link above.  Here are some photos of my fiasco.
You can see the mess they were.  A couple ended up with holes in the bottom and the jelly leaked.  They were a bit dry and crumbly.
Below they are in the pan jelly oozing everywhere.

carrot cake pancakes with maple cream cheese

I know I'm behind on blogging because it has been a busy week, but I can't really decide where to start, so I'll just start with this morning's breakfast.  Brandon fed everyone cold cereal while I was out running, but I didn't want that.  I've had cereal 2 days in a row, and it is Saturday - definitely not a cereal day in my book, so after much debate I decided that it was still worth making pancakes even just for me.  I was trying these for myself anyway because I love carrot cake.  I found the recipe over at recipe shoebox.  Love that site because she has tons of awesome breakfast recipes.  These did not disappoint.  I liked them a lot plain.  Of course with the cream cheese they were still good although I'm not sure which way I liked them better.  One was just different.
I do want to mess with this recipe a little bit and almost did today, but it was late and I was the only one eating, so I decided against it.  I'd love to try it with pineapple in it sometime though because that's how I love actual carrot cake.  My only other note to self would be to shred the carrots on the thinner side of the grater.  Thicker was fine, the carrots were fine, I just think they would spread out in the pancake a little better if there were more thinner shreds.  I did love the toasted flavor of the pecans.  I almost didn't toast them, but I'm glad I did.
Here is the recipe with my adaptations.


  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flower
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  1. Put carrots in a microwave safe bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Heat on high for 1 minute to soften.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Toast pecans in a small frying pan just until fragrant.  Set aside.
  3. Whisk together dry ingredients and pecans. Mix Wet ingredients.  Mix wet and dry together just until combined.  Stir in carrots.
  4. Bake on griddle at about 350.  
Yield (15 pancakes for me - about 3-4 inches)

Maple cream cheese spread

  • 3 ounces cream cheese at room temperature (I used neufchatel and nuked it for 15 seconds to soften.)
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together.  Serve on pancakes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Menu 10/20/2010

Breakfasts to try
Baked oatmeal
Cranberry orange bagels (HC p. 28)
Carrot Cake pancakes

sweet and savory chicken sausage and apple pizza TOH p. 115, + regular pizza
Slow cooker chicken enchilada chili with cheddar cheese tortillas
Pasta fagioli Serve with Cesar Salad
Stuffed potato pancakes with green beans
Chinese BBQ pork (American Test Kitchen book.  P 182) with stir fry veggies
Kidney bean and tuna salad, serve on lettuce.  Top with chow mein noodles?  Serve with everything bread.
German style beef roast (S&D p. 17)  with feta zucchini pancakes

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Inside out stuffed cabbage

This is what we had last night.  Yet again DH made dinner.  I was still busily cleaning up and trying to get stuff ready for preschool this morning.  It turned out pretty well.  I liked the flavor.  I remember wondering when I saw the recipe if it would be too spicy but it wasn't.  Brandon actually added hot sauce.  If I weren't afraid of hot sauce I may have added a dash myself because it did taste like it could use a bit more bite.
The recipe comes from my taste of home simple and delicious magazine.


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped (we used red)
  • 6 cups chopped cabbage
  • 1 can (11.5 oz) spicy hot V8 juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 envelope beefy onion soup mix
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup uncooked instant brown rice.
  1. In a dutch oven, cook beef, squash and green pepper over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.  (We used pre-cooked beef, so we just sauteed the pepper and squash for a few minutes, then added the beef with the next set of ingredients.)  
  2. Stir in cabbage, juice, water, soup mix and brown sugar.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until cabbage is tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in rice.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 5 minutes or until rice is tender.

Confetti rice

I had planned to make this with a pork chop meal because it was pictured with it in my Taste of home magazine. However, I ended up making it with a chicken meal.  It went well with the meal, but I had just made Mexican white rice.  This was too much rice too close together for me.  While this was good, I prefer the Mexican white rice.  Something about the sweetness of the toasted corn, and the addition of milk really make it a nice side dish.
Don't get me wrong, this was a lovely side dish of rice.  I liked it, thought it would look great at Christmas with the red peppers and green peas. I did double this, but I'm writing the single recipe.


  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup diced red pepper (or 1/2 green, 1/2 red)
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
(I just read the actual instructions and they had you add the peas at the end then let them sit while they warmed up.  Probably would have made for sweeter peas which would have been yummy.  I will try that next time.)

Lemon herb roast chicken with pan gravy

I'm getting a bit behind with my blogging for some reason.  I got 2 done this morning, but I still have 2 or 3 to go not to mention the pictures I haven't added.
This recipe is from my dinner on Sunday.  It came from my Taste of home magazine, but it was actually a Campbell's recipe.  I changed it up a bit by using split chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken.  I almost bought the chicken, but then I remembered that I had the split breasts in the freezer so that won.  It worked out better because we invited extra people over and this gave us more meat.  My plan was to serve this with green beans, but our guest was bringing a salad, so I made confetti rice.
They baked up beautifully.  We just popped a kitchen thermometer in them and let them get to 160.  Not sure how long that took.  They were good with the gravy as well.
DH was in charge of making the gravy.  It called for white wine.  I'm pretty sure he used chicken stock instead so that is what I'll write in the recipe.

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (1 1/2 -2 lemons)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice (only 1/2 -1 lemon)
  • 1 can Cream of chicken soup (I use the lower fat one.
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves (or 1 teaspoon crushed - we used fresh here)
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed (used dried here)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 roasting chicken 5-7 lbs.  (we used split breast 6-7 lbs -6  breasts)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup water 
  1. Heat oven to 375.  Place chicken into a shallow roasting pan (we don't have one.  We roasted ours on our cooling rack on a cookie sheet.) Roast chicken for 20 minutes.
  2.  Meanwhile, Stir lemon zest, lemon juice, soup, rosemary, thyme and garlic in medium bowl.  Reserve 1 cup soup mix for gravy.  Brush chicken with 1/4 cup soup mixture. 
  3. Return to oven and roast 1 hour 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (160 on meat thermometer.  Pretty sure this took less than 1 hour and 15 - more like 45-60 minutes for us.)  Remove chicken to a serving platter.  
  4. At this point you can spoon off the fat from the pan juices then make a gravy in the roasting pan, but we didn't use a roasting pan, so we just heated the soup mix in a saucepan adding a bit of the drippings along with the chicken stock and water.

Wheat bread 2

So I finally ventured away from my wheat bread recipe and tried something new.  I have wanted to try a new recipe for a long time, but I really like my recipe so I haven't attempted it.  I have really wanted to try the bosch recipe (found here on page 27) ever since I got my bosch, but I have never had Dough Enhancer.  Another reason I haven't tried something different.  I saw that Mel and My kitchen cafe  had made it without the dough enhancer.  I also liked that she let the yeast sponge for a bit, and I was very curious to try her method to cook the bread - putting it in a cold oven.  The bread I make has multiple dough enhancers, so I decided to try my hand at bosch bread - upping the yeast like mel did, letting it sponge like mel, and baking it like mel, but I added 2 Tablespoons of buttermilk powder, 2 Tablespoons of potato flakes, and 2 Tablespoons of vinegar.  The resulting bread had a wonderful texture.  It was nice and soft.  I prefer the flavor of my other bread a little bit, but this was still very good.    I ended up adding all 15 cups of flour, and making 5 loaves (but one of my pans is a 1.5 lb pan.)  Here is what I did.


  • 6 cups warm water
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons instant yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoons vital wheat gluten
  • 2 Tablespoons buttermilk powder (or powdered milk)
  • 2 Tablespoons potato flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 12-15 cups whole wheat flour (fresh ground is best if possible)
  1. Mix warm water, yeast and 8 cups flour in the bowl of a bosch.  Stir to combine.  Let sit to sponge for 10-15 minutes.  (I got the rest of my stuff together while I was waiting -ground the 2nd half of my wheat, and got out the rest of my ingredients.)
  2. Add salt, oil, honey, gluten, buttermilk powder, potato flakes, and vinegar.  Mix to combine.  Add flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Continue mixing for 5 -8 minutes.  
  3. Spray loaf pans with cooking spray.  Spray hands and counter with cooking spray.  Turn dough onto counter and divide into 5-6 pieces.  Put into prepared loaf pans.  Cover and let rise until they are 1 inch over the pan.  (This time I actually sprayed my loaves with cooking spray and covered them with plastic wrap.  I really like to make my microwave a proofing box by boiling some water in there and then when it is nice and steamy, putting the loaves in there.  I wasn't sure all of the loaves would fit, and I didn't want to get out the microwave shelf and try it today, so I didn't, but usually, that is what I do.)
  4. When bread is risen, place in a cold oven.  Turn oven on to 350 and bake for 38 minutes.  
This baking method worked pretty well.  I wish I would have rotated my bread at about 32 minutes and maybe left them a total fo 40 minutes so that they would have been more golden everywhere, but part of that is also my pans.  I love my chicago metal loaf pan, but I only have 1.  It turned out much better than my pyrex pans or the silicon pan I have.  I have the 1.5 lb size, but I think I will order some in the 1 lb size so they will fit into bags a bit better.  They really are a great loaf pan.  I think next time I will also get the nonstick so I can use them to bake the 5 minute a day type bread.Chicago Metallic Professional Nonstick 1-Pound Loaf Pan

pumpkin granola 2

Ok, so it was another 2 breakfast morning.  What can I say.  I figured I should use the oven while I already had it on right?  Anyway, I decided to try the  pumpkin granola from baking bites.  It was the link on the site I tried the granola from  the other day.  I liked this granola more than the other.  I had DH buy some regular oats at the store, and I added the rice puffs.  I also added some coconut and pecans.  Very tasty.  I may still toss in a craisin or 2.  Still undecided about that.
I'm slow in posting and I have not tried it with  craisins yet, but it is very good with the pecans and coconuts.  I loved adding them for the last 15-20 minutes of toasting time.  Gave them a wonderful flavor.


  • 3 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 1/2 cups puffed rice cereal
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice mix (see below)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plain pureed pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup plain applesauce
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (I used light)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 325.   Line a large cookie sheet with non-stick foil or parchment.  
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats and puffed rice.  In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin pie spice, salt, sugar, applesauce, pumpkin puree, maple syrup and vanilla.  Whisk until very smooth.
  3. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients.  Stir until evenly covered.  Spread on prepared pan in 1 even layer.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, then add nuts and coconut.  Stir, and continue baking for an additional 15 minutes.  (This didn't seem very crisp so I added another 5 minutes.  It still didn't seem very crisp, but it crisped a lot as it cooled.)

Pumpkin pie spice (also from baking bites)
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom(optional) -I added a pinch
  1. Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Store in an airtight container.
I saw another pumpkin pie spice recipe that included mace.  I never have that on hand.  I did have some cardamom so I added a pinch to my mix.  I was happy to find this because I had used up the last of my pumpkin pie spice mix just this past week.


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