Monday, May 30, 2011

popcorn fun

So lately I've been having fun making up some new popcorn creations.  I have fed my kids pizza popcorn a couple of times for lunch, and they love it, so they keep asking me to make it.  I thought it would be more fun to try some other new creations.  I have some non-dairy creamer that I bought to make some Hungry girl recipe one time.  Not that it is the best thing in the world for you, but it is a pretty tasty flavor enhancer.  Here are some combinations we have liked

Peaches and cream

  • French vanilla non dairy creamer
  • freeze dried peaches
  • salt
Apples and Cinnamon
  • cinnamon and sugar mix
  • dehydrated apples
  • salt
Tropical or Pina colada
  • Freeze dried pineapple
  • coconut
  • almonds
  • french vanilla non dairy creamer
  • salt
  1. Pop 1/2 cup popcorn in an air popper.  Spray with spray butter and sprinkle with seasonings as it come out of the popper.  I like to try and toss it a bit, but that always makes all the flavoring fall to the bottom, so be careful.  

Cranberry cole slaw

This was a simple cole slaw that was suggested in my no whine with dinner book to go with the pulled pork in the previous post.  However, I totally forgot to make it that day.  We did have it the next day because it looked so simple and good.  It was.  Nice simple cole slaw and good too.


  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
  • 3 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 16 oz. package cole slaw mix
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  1. In a large bowl, stir mayonnaise, vinegar, syrup and salt together until smooth.  Add cole slaw and cranberries.  Stir to coat.  Serve.

pulled pork primavera

This recipe came from my no whine with dinner cookbook.  It is not one that I had included in my menu for the week, but for some reason I hadn't made Friday a slow cooker meal day.  That is pretty necessary for me because I teach piano lessons all afternoon on Friday, so I need dinner to be ready when I'm done.  So I went looking through my cookbooks and found this recipe.  It is a super simple pulled pork recipe with the addition of some extra veggies.  I liked that idea.  It turned out surprisingly well considering the fact that I didn't have nearly enough barbecue sauce.  I had DH pick me some up on the way home from work, but I'm sure it would have been even more flavorful if it had been simmering in more sauce.  (It may also have shredded better, but that is another story.)
I added some extra carrot from the original recipe, but that is about it.


  • 2-3 pounds pork loin, trimmed of fat and cut into 3 -4 pieces
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and shredded (2 cups)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced (2 cups)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 12 oz. jar barbecue sauce
  • 8-10 hamburger buns
  1. Place pork, carrot, bell pepper, onion and barbecue sauce in a 5 or 6 quart slow cooker and stir to combine.  (you can use 1/2 of the barbecue sauce now, and 1/2 later - I actually used only 1/4-1/3 of the barbecue sauce, because that was all I had at the time.)  Cover and cook on low until the pork is tender.  6-8 hours.  
  2. When meat is done, remove from slow cooker and shred.  Stir meat back into the slow cooker until well combined with the sauce/veggie mixture.  Serve on buns.

Apple Cinnamon Omelet

There was a cool section on omelets in my Taste of home simple and delicious magazine.  Some were nothing interesting - or at least for me.  I grew up with a dad that would make a peanut butter and jelly omelet and I have made that for my kids before.  The other ideas tomato and green pepper, ham and swiss, chorizo/salsa, Italian, potato bacon - just normal stuff you toss in an omelet (or at least for me) but I never would have thought to make an apple cinnamon omelet.  I guess normal people probably don't think of peanut butter and jelly, but knowing the sweetness of jelly was good in an omelet, I decided I really wanted to try apple cinnamon.  It was pretty tasty.  I liked it.  This will definitely go in my repertoire as an omelet filling.  You could also use other fruits.  Peaches and cinnamon would be good, so would berries, or a tropical.  This one recipe opened up a whole new dimension of possibilities for omelet making. Thank you Taste of home magazine.  
One final thing I really liked about this that changed the flavor of the omelet a bit was that they had you saute the apples in cinnamon and butter and then pour them on a plate, but add the egg mixture directly to the pan.  That ended up giving the actual omelet a little bit of cinnamon which I really liked.   This did make an enormous omelet.  We split them between 2 people. - or 3 if little kids were involved.  I'm not sure if we actually followed the directions particularly well on the number of eggs we used, nor am I sure if we added the water.  I'm writing the recipe as in the book, but I will note that I usually just make my omelets with egg - no water, and I'm sure I just added a dash of salt and pepper.

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced, peeled tart apple - we actually just used 1 medium granny smith, diced (not peeled)
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 3 eggs (I think we used 4 - we were using a larger pan than normal)
  • 3 Tablespoons water (Pretty sure we didn't use this on either batch)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper - I didn't measure just tossed in a dash.
  1. Whisk together the eggs, water (if using) salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  2. In a nonstick skillet, saute the apple, cinnamon and sugar in butter.  Remove from skillet.    Pour egg mixture into the pan and cook.  Recipe in magazine has you "push cooked edges toward the center, letting uncooked portion flow underneath."  I've always made an omelet by pouring the egg in, putting a lid on the pan and cooking until the top is set.  Either way, when set,  place filling on one half of the omelet and fold the other half over the top.  Top with shipped cream.  

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tuna Pastry

This recipe is from a relatively new cookbook I have called healthy meals for less.  I have to say, it isn't particularly my favorite mostly because although it says healthy, I don't find the recipes to be all that healthy.  In that I am a bit disappointed.  However, this was good.  It originally intrigued me because it is quite similar to a recipe I have called Tuna biscuit ring.  That is actually something I ate growing up, and both Brandon and I like it, but the kids don't.  This had a different middle, and had you make individual pastries.  That was fun, but time consuming.  I don't think I'd do that again.  I did like the different flavors of the tuna part though.  I'm not a huge fan of the parsley in Tuna biscuit ring, but I liked the lemon/dill flavor of this.
I did make modifications to the recipe in the book.  It called for twice as much fat as my Tuna biscuit ring, and I didn't add that.  I did toss in the teaspoon of sugar that was different.  This recipe didn't call for a cheese sauce, but I really like the cheese sauce of Tuna biscuit ring, so I made a 1/2 batch (since I know the kids don't like it.)  That worked out well.
I kind of got creative with my folding techniques.  Made some look like balls, some I left with the pinched part at the top, and some I folded more like an empanada.  Neither shape worked really any better or quicker for me, so no suggestions there.  Just pick one you like.

  • 2 5-6 oz. cans tuna, drained
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 2 Tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons diced onion
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cold butter or shortening
  1. Mix all of the filling ingredients in a large bowl.  Set aside.
  2. In another large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.  Cut in the butter with a pastry knife, fork, or fingers.  Add the milk and mix until a dough forms.
  3. Roll the dough into a 1/4 in thickness on a floured board.  Cut into 3 inch circles.  Place 1 heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of the dough round.  (Man I did this wrong - would be nice if I read the directions better when I baked rather than when blogging.)  At this point, I pulled the dough up around the tuna and pinched it closed, or folded it and pinched it...  The actual directions say to add another dough round on top and pinch the edges closed.  
  4. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings and marinara

When I made these I thought they were OK, I figured I wouldn't bother to blog them, but Duncan absolutely loved them - took them for lunch the next day, and I actually liked them more than I expected, so I guess they are blog worthy.  My major problem with them is just the fact that I don't actually care for dumplings of any type - not a fan of the texture.  However, like I said, I actually liked them more than I expected. I'd probably rate them a 3.5, possibly 4 - they get a 5 from Duncan though, which brings my rating right up to a 4.
This recipe would also have been easier if I had remembered to buy frozen chopped spinach, but I didn't (or chose not to - can't remember at this point - but I do know I used fresh Spinach so I had to cook and chop it first.)  The recipe comes from my Food Network Magazine.  I have slightly adapted it mostly to cut some of the 32 grams of fat in the original recipe.  I'm also pretty sure I used 16 oz. spinach, 2 cups ricotta.... - extra because the original said it was only 4 servings.  However, unfortunately I didn't make notes in my original recipe like I normally do, and some of it was by feel - like the flour, so I leave the original quantities.


  • 1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (or 10 oz fresh spinach chopped and cooked until just barely wilted - I do that in a frying pan - no water or anything.  I just saute it.)
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta (I used fat free, but recipe called for whole-milk)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 Tablespoons flour plus more for rolling
  • 2 large eggs
  • freshly ground pepper
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 cups prepared marinara sauce (I used the recipe that follows -which is a mini, quick version of the marinara I like to make in my slow cooker)
Marinara sauce ingredients
  • 2 15 oz. cans crushed tomatoes (although for the amount I made (16 oz. spinach) I would use a third can next time.)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tablespoon dehydrated, minced onion
  • 2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil (I may or may not have added this, I can't remember)
  • salt and pepper to taste - I think I used 1/2 teaspoon of each
  1. Combine all Marinara sauce ingredients in a large skillet.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer while preparing the rest of the meal. (If not making homemade marinara, put it in the large skillet and start to heat after step 3.)
  2. Bring a large wide pot of salted water to a simmer.  (I used my saute pan, but it is kind of shaped like a wok, and rather deep.  I had sauteed my spinach in it, so I just used the same pan.  A large dutch oven would be a great choice if using frozen spinach.)
  3. Put the spinach in a large bowl and separate it with you hands.  Add the ricotta, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, the flour, eggs, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and the nutmeg.  Mix with a fork to form a slightly sticky dough.  
  4. Spread some flour on a plate.  Scoop out heaping Tablespoonfuls of the spinach-ricotta mixture and roll into about 24 balls.  Roll the balls in flour.  If not making homemade marinara, put it in a large skillet over medium heat.
  5. Gently lower the dumplings into the simmering water and cook until they rise to the surface and are firm, about 5 minutes (although I cooked mine a bit longer - like 8-10.)  remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon, letting water drain off and add to the sauce.  Gently toss to coat, then transfer to plates and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

Octoberfest German Potato Salad

I wanted a potato salad the other day to use up some potatoes and because it seemed like it would go very well with our pulled pork sandwiches, so I went searching for one.  I found this one on  I love that site just for all of the reviews.  Makes it so much easier to choose something.  This was a super simple salad, and honestly I worried about it having enough flavor because it didn't have many ingredients, but it was quite tasty, especially after it had sat for a while, cooled, and the flavors had blended.  I even left out the oil in the original recipe figuring it looked like it had plenty of liquid, and I was right.  It had plenty of liquid and didn't need the extra oil.


  • 3 pounds potatoes, sliced (I used red potatoes and did not peel them.)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used lite-the olive oil one)
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons parsley (I used fresh)
  • ground pepper to taste
  1. Cook potatoes in a large pot of salted water until firm but not mushy.  (15-20 minutes)
  2. In another bowl, whisk together salt, mayonnaise, cider vinegar, sugar, parsley, and pepper.  Stir in onions and potatoes.  Let sit for at least 1 hour to let flavors blend (although I'm sure I didn't originally, but the left overs were tastier after flavors blended.)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Asian beef with noodles

This was a pretty simple recipe from my Taste of home Simple and Delicious magazine.  Quick and easy with a decent amount of veggies.  Great sauce (although I probably could have used a tiny bit more, but I think I used a few extra noodles, so that is partly my fault.)
The only prep work was to chop 1 pepper, green onion, and slice the beef.  Other than that, this went together really quickly.  However, I did change up the directions a bit.  Originally they had you toss the veggies in with the pasta - I wanted them even more crisp, so I just tossed them with the beef just before adding the noodles.


  • 8 oz angel hair (or spaghetti) noodles, broken in half
  • 3 cups fresh sugar snap peas
  • 1 sweet red pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Catalina salad dressing (I used lite or fat free)
  • 12 oz. sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
  • 2 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 green onions sliced
  • dry roasted peanuts as desired for sprinkling.
  1. In a large saucepan, cook spaghetti according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat salad dressing over medium-high heat.  Add beef, cook for 8-10 minutes or until meat reaches desired doneness.    Add peanut butter and soy sauce.  Stir until smooth. Add peas and red peppers.  Heat through.  Add noodles and onions.  Stir to combine.  Serve.  Sprinkle each serving with peanuts as desired.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ham and cheese casserole

I know I'm still behind in blogging, but this was this evening's dinner, it is fresh on the brain, and the original recipe (with notes) is readily available, so it wins the "what should I blog while keeping an eye on the little boys in the tub?" contest.  The original is from my Taste of home Simple and delicious magazine.
This meal was pretty good.  I loved the flavor.  My only suggestion for next time would be to just heat through in the pot on the stove.  I stuck it in the oven for less time than called for in the original, but I think all it really did was dry out the noodles on top.  You could easily heat this through on the stovetop, have a more cheesy, less dry meal that is done 15 minutes earlier and used 1 less dish.  What is not to love about that?
Also another tidbit of info - the original called for a 10 oz package of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry.  I have been using fresh in place of this lately and did today, so I wrote the recipe that way.  It really didn't take any more time, or more dishes.  I prepared it and the sauce while the noodles were cooking in the same pan.  Use what works for you.
Here is how I made it today.


  • 1 package (16 oz) of noodles - I used mezzo penne today, but you could use any shape
  • 1/4 cup butter - I actually used about 3 Tablespoons butter and 1 Tablespoon coconut oil -do what works for you.
  • 1/4 cup flour -I used whole wheat
  • 2 cups milk (I used fat free)
  • 1 Tablespoon minced dehydrated onion
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 oz. diced ham (I used 1 store bought package for convenience)
  • 10 oz. spinach
  1. Prepare noodles according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large Sauce pan or dutch oven, heat and chop the spinach until wilted. ( For me, the spinach fills my large pan to the top at first, but when cooked, it looks the same size as the 10 oz. frozen box.  I toss the spinach in the pot, grab my kitchen scissors and start chopping while it cooks.  I do that and stir, and by the time I'm done chopping, the spinach is wilted and bright green.  I don't add water or anything, and I don't drain water off.  If I didn't get enough chopping done, I finish chopping at the end.)  Move spinach to a plate.
  3. In the same pan, melt butter (and coconut oil if using.)  Stir in flour until smooth;  gradually add milk.  Add onions.  Bring to a boil;  cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Reduce heat.  Stir in cheeses, garlic powder and pepper;  cook and stir until cheese is melted.  Stir in ham. (at this point my noodles were not ready so I just turned the burner all the way down to keep it warm while I waited on the noodles.)  Stir in spinach.
  4. Drain noodles; add to the cheese mixture.  (If desired, transfer to a 9 X 13 and cook for 15 minutes at 375.  However, I find it unnecessary unless you want to add a crispy topping or a bit more cheese to the top.)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chili crusted sweet potato fries

I made these to go with the tilapia, and the picture for these is even more pitiful than the others. The original recipe is also from no whine dinner.   Unfortunately I ended up leaving these in the oven too long because I didn't stick a timer on them thinking I'd only leave them a couple of minutes more.  I was going for crispy, and although the recipe promised they would be crispy due to the cornmeal, I was still hoping for a crispier fry.  While the corn meal did add a depth of texture, it didn't hit the spot for the "crispy" that I expect from a fry.  I haven't been able to truly find a baked recipe that does that, but I continue to look.  However, even having said that, these were gobbled up by the family and everyone wanted more (except picky 2 yr. old who used to like these but now only gags if I attempt to feed him any.)
I made some changes in amounts because my sweet potatoes were huge, and I even added a bit of oil - hoping for more crispiness.  Maybe I'll have to try them using the exact recipe.  They also weren't too spicy.  I had mildly reduced the chili powder and I would not need to do that again.  I also used a full egg, and the original was 2 egg whites (no oil)  But, I think I was out of eggs and used powdered eggs - I'd love to try these again with egg whites and see how they come out.  Then I will have to modify my commentary.  I'm sure no one will complain.  They all love sweet potato fries.

Here is my version:


  • 2 sweet potatoes (mine were enormous)
  • 4.5 Tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon oil
  1. Preheat oven to 425.  Oil, or coat a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. Cut the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 6 wedges, and cut the wedges in half, lengthwise so you end up with 48 fries (that works if using medium sweet potatoes.  I had to just keep cutting them to a nice fry size.)
  3. Whisk together cornmeal, sugar, chili powder, cumin, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder in a large bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk egg with the oil until frothy.  Add the fries and toss to coat evenly.
  5. Add the sweet potatoes to the cornmeal mixture and toss until lightly coated.  Place on prepared baking sheet and spray with cooking spray.  
  6. Bake until golden brown on the bottom (about 12 minutes.)  Remove from the oven, turn each fry with a spatula or tongs, and bake until slightly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, 10 to 12 minutes.

Almond crusted Tilapia

Wow, I'm trying to upload pictures and I came across this picture - not the greatest because I totally forgot to take it on a plate - I just got one when I put everything in a little plastic container to put in the fridge.  I'm blogging it because I remember it being tasty, and I had to make a decent amount of changes because the original called for Old Bay Seasoning.  I looked it up and then figured out my own easy mix to approximate it.  The original recipe came from my No Whine with dinner book.  I like that book.  Most of the recipes have been nice.


  • 1 1/2 lbs tilapia (4-6 fillets)
  • 1 cup sliced or slivered almonds, finely chopped (I threw them in my blender.)
  • 3 Tablespoons dry bread crumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (a home-made version I had)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup flour
  1. Preheat oven to 425.  Place each tilapia on a cutting board and slice it down the center to make 2 smaller fillets.  Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Coat a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and aside.  Combine almonds, bread crumbs, brown sugar, celery salt, pumpkin pie spice, salt, cinnamon, and pepper on a plate.  Whisk together the egg and water on another plate, and place the flour on a third plate.
  3. To bread the fish, coat both sides with flour and shake off excess.  D ip in the egg, then coat evenly with the nut mixture.  Place fish on prepared pan, mist with nonstick cooking spray and bake until golden brown, and the fish is cooked through.  (about 15 minutes.)

Thai fried chicken

This is another recipe from my taste of home simple and delicious magazine from this month.  I really liked the sauce that you made with this one.  Quite tasty.  I kept stealing sauce from my 2 yr. old next to me so I didn't have to get up and get more.  He wasn't using it anyway - I gave him a piece and he gagged and whined, (however, later I saw him eat some more.  Don't let him know I saw it.  :)
Again, I changed this up, but not as much as some recipes - mostly just put less cayenne pepper in it.  If you like things spicier - try adding 1/4 teaspoon.


  • 1 1/2 cups flour, divided
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • dash cayenne pepper (I just used a small sprinkle really)
  • 10 chicken legs, skinned (or whatever type chicken - thighs or a whole chicken cut up -skinned is also a matter of preference I suppose.  I try to be semi healthy, so I skinned them)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
Sauce ingredients
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (I used lite -lower sodium)
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons peanut butter
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  1. Place 1/2 cup flour on a plate.  Place coconut milk on another plate.  On a third plate, combine the remaining flour, salt, garlic powder, ginger, and cayenne pepper.  
  2. Grease a 9 X 13 inch baking dish.  Preheat oven to 400.  Heat oil in a large skillet.
  3. Dip chicken in flour, coconut milk, then flour mixture.  Brown chicken in oil in batches.  Transfer to the 9 X 13 when done browning.
  4. Bake uncovered for 25-35 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165-180.  (the magazine says 180, but my thermometer is automatically set for 165 for poultry, and there is always some carry over, so I cooked them to 165 -at least the largest one that had the thermometer in it.)
  5. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine all sauce ingredients.  bring to a boil;  cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Serve with chicken.

Soda pop chops with smashed potatoes

Man, I shouldn't get so behind in my blogging - it makes me forget how much everyone liked the meal.  I remember this being good, but no more details than that.  I think I still have left overs.  Maybe I'll try them this evening.  :)  This original recipe came from my Taste of Home Simple and Delicious magazine, but I changed it up quite a bit.  This is how I made it. (Thank goodness for notes in my magazine.)  As I remember, it was pretty good, and I liked the sauce - how can something that comes with sauce be bad right??

  • 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes
  • 1 12 oz. can root beer
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2-1 1/2 lbs pork loin chops (I used boneless - semi thick chops which I sliced in half to make thinner chops.)
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil (can use olive or vegetable if you want.)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter (can use more if desired
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water.  bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine root beer, ketchup, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder;  Set aside.  
  3. In a large resealable bag -or on a plate, (I started this in a bag, but dumped it onto a plate.  I would definitely do the plate again next time.combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add pork to bag and shake to coat - or just dip each side in the flour mixture on a plate.  
  4. In a large skillet, brown chops in oil. (a couple minutes on each side) Add root beer mixture and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until meat is tenter, turning once.  (I just stuck a thermometer in mine and set the alarm to go off when done.  
  5. Remove the pork and keep warm.  Bring sauce to a boil;  cook until liquid is reduced by half.
  6. Meanwhile, drain potatoes; mash with butter, garlic powder and remaining salt and pepper.  Serve with pork chops and sauce. 

Italian Bread sticks

I made these to go along with our spinach ricotta dumplings (recipe to follow) that I made the other day.  They were decent.  I particularly loved that they were quick - except for the twisting, and honestly, I quit twisting at the end because I needed to get them ready early enough to be eaten before scouts.  My last few were just a normal bread stick.  My only real change was omitting brushing these with oil and sprinkling them with salt.  I think I'd rather butter (or spray butter) them and sprinkle them with garlic salt or garlic and herb mix.)  I did that to my second bread stick and it was delicious.
I liked that these had a bit of Italian seasoning in them as well.  Gave them a good flavor.


  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons hot water (I actually used warm, I didn't want to kill my yeast, and my flour was warm because it was fresh ground.)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups white flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground flaxseed 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon yeast
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the hot water with 1 cup flour (I didn't use super hot water because I was afraid of killing my yeast - my flour was freshly ground so it was also warm.)  Add the salt, olive oil, flaxseed, sugar, and yeast.  Mix together to make a "spongy" dough.  Let rest for 10-15 minutes.  Grease a baking sheet (or cover with parchment.)
  2. Add remaining flour, and Italian seasoning, and Parmesan.  Knead until it is smooth.  (I just mixed it in my kitchenaid.)  
  3. Divide dough into muffin-size balls.  Shape as desired - For an easy shape, just roll out like a bread stick  To make a twist, Roll balls into skinny, long pieces.  Let rest as you roll the rest of the pieces.  Go back and fold the pieces in half and twist together.
  4. Let rise for 30 minutes in a warm place (I like my microwave - after boiling water in it for a minute)  Preheat oven to 350.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes.  Baking time depends on thickness of breadsticks.  Mine took about 15 minutes.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Maple Pecan pancakes

So glad I made a menu for the rest of the month.  It is totally letting me have time to blog since I don't have to do that today, or even go shopping - maybe just for a couple of things if I change my mind on tomorrow's menu.  (How funny, I wrote that this morning then got side tracked by tons of other things.  Life is so like that.)
Anyway, I made these pancakes a couple of days ago.  I tried to use coconut oil in them, and even tried to work it into the dough like you do with shortening, so it wouldn't clump, but it still clumped horribly when it got cold when the milk and eggs were added.  Not sure how to solve the problem - other than not use coconut oil.
Original recipe is from $5 dinner mom.  Here is my modification


  • 2 cups wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Truvia
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 Tablespoons coconut oil (although I may try vegetable oil or applesauce next time)
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 -1 cup chopped pecans (I made only 3/4 with pecans since I have some kiddos who don't like nuts and have braces.) 

  1. Preheat electric griddle to 350 or heat a skillet over medium high heat.
  2. In a large bowl, combine wheat flour, AP flour, Truvia, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Add the maple syrup, eggs, oil and milk and whisk until a smooth batter forms.  Fold in chopped pecans.  (I baked a few before adding the pecans for 2 of my anti-nuts kids) 
  3.  Bake on griddle until pancakes bubble - flip and cook on the other side.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ciabatta Integrale

This is the bread recipe I used for the previous sandwiches.  I had wanted to try a ciabatta and I found this recipe in my King Arthur Flour cookbook.  I had not done the pre-ferment overnight, and I only looked at page 1 and thought I only needed 3 hours of rise time, so I went ahead and started it in the morning.  Got all the way ready to bake it, and realized I needed another 2 hours of rise time - Oops.  I just tried to quick rise it in a steamy microwave.  It turned out pretty well.  I'm sure I would have had some better bubbles in there if it would have gotten it's full 2 hour rise, but sadly I didn't have the time.  Even with my mistakes, the bread was good, so it is definitely a keeper.  Just be warned - start the night before, then allow 5-6 hours for rising time.


  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of instant yeast
  • All of the pre-ferment
  • 1 1/4 cups wheat flour
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached flour (oops, just noticed I should have used bread flour)
  • 1 1/4 cups cool water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon yeast
  1. Mix the pre-ferment ingredients in a small bowl (2-3 cup).  Cover and let rest ovenigt at room temperature.
  2. In a mixer, combine all dough ingredients.  (At this point, it says to stop and let the mixture rest for 45 minutes - I didn't -hadn't read ahead and incorporated that 45 minutes either.)  Knead at low speed for 10 minutes.  (This is a wet dough, it will never form a ball.)  Lightly grease a large bowl.  Scrape the dough into the greased bowl.  (I just scraped my dough to one side of my mixer bowl, sprayed it with non-stick spray, scraped it to the other side and sprayed that side - worked fine for me.) 
  3. Cover and let rise for 3 hours, gently deflating and turning over after 1 hour, then again after 2 hours and again after 3 hours.
  4. Let the dough rest in the bowl for 10 minutes while preparing 2 baking sheets lined with parchment (I only used 1.  I just placed my loaves side by side.  Next time I'd just put them on parchment on my pizza peel because I transfered it to the baking stone anyway.)
  5. Grease hands, divide dough in half.  Leaving 1/2 in the bowl.  Gently stretch the other piece until it is about 10 inches long.  Place on parchment and continue to stretch and pat until 12 inches long and 3-4 inches long.  (Basically I did this all in one step.  I just took my dough and made it about a 12 inch log and sat it on the parchment.)  Repeat with other half of the dough.
  6. Cover with greased plastic wrap.  Allow to rise until puffy (about 2 hours)  (or if you're me who didn't turn the page of the recipe, put in the microwave shelf, boil some water on the bottom shelf to get it nice and steamy, and put the bread on the top to have a nice warm rise in a reduced time.)
  7. Near the end of rising, preheat the oven to 425.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.   (I took mine out at this point but the directions say) Turn off the oven, crack it open about 2 inches, remove ciabatta from pans and place directly on the oven racks.  Allow to cool in the oven. (I'm sure the directions would have yielded a bit different loaf, but like I said, the way I made it, was still good, and it was ready a few hours earlier.  :)

Italian Roast Beef Sandwiches

I've had a week off from blogging while we went to Disney World.  So nice to take a vacation.  AND we ate so well every day.  Of course I had my favorite places.  Probably topping my list was the Tusker House at Animal Kingdom.  We had breakfast there and it was soooo good.  I looked at a couple of Disney cookbooks while I was there.  If I had seen any recipes for anything I ate at that breakfast, I would have been highly persuaded to buy one.  :)  Probably second on my list was The Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios.  I also liked the German and the Chinese restaurants at Epcot.  So much fun, and so many things to try - we even had Moroccan food one night.  Anyway, I've spent the last 3 days blogging about our trip on my family blog so I'm now 3 days behind here (not to mention the couple of recipes I missed while frantically trying to get ready for the vacation.)  So much for the vacation.  :)
I'm starting with last night's dinner for no particular reason other than it was the first book I grabbed.  
The menu was Italian Roast beef Sandwich with a cheddar broccoli soup.  I wasn't a huge fan of the soup.  It had beef broth and Worcestershire sauce in it.  While the flavor was fine with those ingredients, it just tasted like some other soup - not cheddar broccoli.  Beef and broccoli maybe?  Anyway, not worth typing up - not to mention I can hardly read my notes in my magazine.  (Original from Taste of Home Simple and Delicious Magazine.)  Here is how I made them.

Servings 8-10 - 

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing (I used lite)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 cups spinach
  • 2 large ciabatta loaves (recipe to follow) sliced in half
  • 10 oz sliced roast beef (No idea on exact amount.  I just put folded slices all the way down the bread)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, cut in half, seeded, and sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced olives, drained
  1. In a large bowl, combine salad dressing, Parmesan cheese, pepper, and spinach.  Toss to combine.
  2. Place 1/2 of the salad mixture on bottom of one loaf, top with 1/2 of the roast beef, tomato, cucumber and olives.  Replace top of the loaf and slice into individual servings.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Baked southwest eggrolls

This past week has been so nice.  I've had left overs, freezer meals, or super simple meals all week.  I thought of doing another freezer meal yesterday because I have one, and I didn't go shopping because we are headed to Disney World next week, so I don't need a ton of groceries.  However, upon looking at my calendar with my menu later in the day, I discovered that I had this dish written down, then I was thinking that it was 5 de mayo, so I figured I may as well go with it and make the dish.   The most wonderful thing about this meal - It used up a lot of stuff I needed to use.  peppers, spinach, 2 -1/2 full packets of pre-cooked chicken, sour cream, a jalapeno, 1/2 of a large onion...  And, other than the tortillas, I had everything on hand (and technically I could have made tortillas but was out and about, so I bought some.)  Man, I just remembered that I saw some avocados in my fridge and was going to serve this with guacamole, but I forgot to make it.  These would be wonderful with guacamole.  They would also be a great vegetarian meal if you skipped the chicken and added another can of beans.  
I served this with ripe plantains which I fried in coconut oil.  YUM. (Just happened to see these at the store when I went to buy tortillas.  Great addition.
This is from Mel's kitchen cafe.  Now you know why it was wonderful right?  The link has a lovely discussion on picky eaters in the comments if you would like suggestions there as well.  
I wasn't going to write out the recipe, but I want to write some notes, so I will.

  • 1 tablespoon oil (I used about 1/2 Tablespoon butter, and 1/2 Tablespoon canola - I just love my onions sauteed in butter.)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 cups chopped pre-cooked chicken (or 1.5 lb raw)
  • 1 green or red pepper, diced small
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, membranes removed, seeded and finely minced 
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 10 ounces spinach, chopped (original called for frozen, thawed and drained, 10 oz looks like a lot in the pot, but it cooks down.
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (original was 1 teaspoon.  I'd use 1 next time.  I'm just always leery of too much spice, and where this had a jalapeno too, I cut the chili powder.)
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2-3 cups shredded cheese, such as Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack or Cheddar
  •  tortillas  (i used a 20 pack of regular sized.  I ended up with 16 rolls)

Chipotle Dipping Sauce: (I didn't actually measure any of this - it was the sour cream left in the container with what looked like 1/4 as much salsa tossed on top and stirred)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • dash of chipotle chili powder (to taste)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil and lightly grease with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the dipping sauce ingredients. Mix well and set aside or refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the oil/butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the cubed chicken  and peppers and cook over medium or medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is warmed through, (or cooked if using raw  3-5 minutes.)  Add the rinsed and drained black beans, spinach, corn, cilantro and seasonings. Mix well and cook until the mixture is heated through.   (Using fresh spinach, I added everything then tossed the spinach on top.  It filled my pan completely.  I then sat there with my kitchen scissors and chopped the spinach into pieces, and stirred it in until it wilted. Worked out just fine.)  Add the cheese and stir well, cooking, until the mixture is hot  and cheese is mostly melted.
  4. Warm the tortillas. (Mine were fresh baked from the store so I didn't need to warm them, but you can warm them in the microwave between moist paper towels.)   Place some of the filling on each tortilla and roll up tightly, egg-roll style, folding in the edges. Place seam side down on the prepared baking sheets (secure with a toothpick if needed).  
  5. Spray with coking spray and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, until the rolls are lightly browned and heated through. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

sweet pineapple and red bean bundles

This recipe also comes from my no whine with dinner book.  This is the second bundle idea I have made in the past week, planned that way on purpose to use up the other half of the egg roll wrappers.  Unfortunately 1 package is less than 24 wrappers, so I only had wrappers for for 8 today.  However, I tasted the rice mixture and LOVED it, so I wasn't sad to just eat that.  I would definitely make the rice mix for lunch or just as is for dinner.  Yum.  The rest of the family didn't seem as impressed, but I really liked the combination of the cumin, rice, beans and pineapple.  I am not as hip on the wrappers.  Either they don't cook enough for my liking, or they crisp too much.   Maybe wrapped as an egg roll, baked in the oven and then flipped?  This time I did spray the bottom of the muffin tin, that seemed to help the bottom brown a bit better, but still I was not impressed.  Here is the recipe for the rice mixture though - super tasty, and super easy, especially if you have a rice cooker.


  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice (I used white for time yesterday, but will try brown next time.)
  • 1 15 oz can red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 8 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 3/4 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (original was 3/4 - 1/2 was not really spicy at all, but I liked it that way, and my kids ate it with no complaints that way)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (1/4-1/2 teaspoon)
  1. Mix it all together in a large bowl.  
  2. If you want to, wrap into bundles like these, but I don't think it is necessary.

coconut curry pork

This is yet another recipe from my no whine with dinner cookbook.  I'm liking that book pretty well.  We have liked most of the things we tired from it.   I worried about this being a bit strong on the curry, but it was still good.  Not sure it was a family favorite, but for a curry dish, I liked it.  I also wanted to write that the authors of this cookbook have a website


  • 2 1/2 lbs pork loin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 large red pepper, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced (Pretty sure I used dehydrated)
  • 1 14 oz. can light coconut milk
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 cup frozen petite peas
  1. Place pork, bell pepper, onion, coconut milk, garlic, brown sugar, curry, ginger, salt and pepper in a 5-6 quart slow cooker.  Stir to combine.  Cover and cook on low until the pork is tender (about 6 hours.)  
  2. When done, whisk together cornstarch and lime juice until well combined.  add to the pork with the peas.  Cover and cook until the liquid thickens and the peas warm through, about 5 minutes.
  3. Serve over noodles or rice.  

Luau Chicken with pineapple and carrots

This recipe came from my new no whine with dinner book's slow cooker section. It was super simple to make.  I wished it had a bit more teriyaki flavor - maybe a bit more pineapple?  But other than that it was pretty good, and like I said, simple which is always a plus.  As an extra added bonus to me, my 2 year old also actually ate some of the chicken - I don't think he has tried anything meat in at least 2 weeks maybe 4.   My only change to the original was adding the entire bag of carrots.  Who knows why with 3 lbs of chicken they only added 1/2 the bag.


  • 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
  • 1 16 oz. package baby carrots
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1 glove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple packed in juice (I'd probably use 2 next time)
  1. Place chicken, carrots, teriyaki sauce, garlic and ginger into a 5-6 quart slow cooker and stir to combine.  (If using a larger can of pineapple, I'd add 1/2 of the juice -drained from the crushed pineapple- here as well.)  Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 - or until chicken is cooked through and carrots are tender.
  2. When done, drain juice out of the pineapple into a bowl.  Add the crushed pineapple to the slow cooker.  Whisk the cornstarch into the juice, then stir that into the slow cooker.  Cover and continue cooking until the juices thicken - about 5 minutes.
  3. Serve over rice or noodles.  (We had it over brown rice.)

Monday, May 2, 2011

msemmen (Algerian flatbread)

This past 2 week's I've had the healthy bread in 5 minutes a day checked out of the library.  I have tried a few recipes from there - a broccoli bread - not super impressed, a German bread called vollkornbrot -I didn't care for that either, but Brandon said it tasted like it should.  I was so looking forward to trying this because it had rye flakes and wheat berries in the dough, but the flavor was not what I was expecting.  My favorite of all the breads I've tried in this book is this msemmen.  It was good.  I tried it with the spices written in the book but it was way too spicy. (I used 1 Tablespoon less oil on that batch. The next batch I didn't add any cayenne pepper, but mixed it in the same bowl.  That was perfect for me and the kids.  I did like that one.

Here is how I made it


  • 1/4 lb master recipe (see below)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil (I used only 1 on the second batch)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (second batch I left this out)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 1/2 cups wheat flour
  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 4 cups lukewarm water
Dough directions
  1. Basically mix everything together in a large lidded container until well combined.  Leave on the counter for 2 hours.  Put in the fridge overnight - Use as directed in whatever recipe.
Msemmen directions
  1. Mix oil, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and salt in a small bowl.  Roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thick.  
  2. Spread oil over the dough to within 1/2 inch of the edge.  Roll up into a log like you would a cinnamon roll.  Take the log and roll it into a coil.  Let rest loosely covered with plastic wrap for 20 minutes.
  3. After the rest, roll the coil out flat until it is an 1/8 inch thick circle.  
  4. I baked mine on my electric skillet like I do tortillas.  Bake 2 to 5 minutes each side until done.

Coconut chicken fingers

 I made these chicken fingers a couple of weeks ago.  They were so tasty I decided to go ahead and make a second batch while I was at it and freeze them for future use.  This week ended up busy because it was my pre-school week, so I ended up making it a no grocery shopping week.  So we will be having these again sometime this week.  It's OK, because they were good enough to eat only a couple of weeks later.  :)
Unfortunately, since I made this 2 weeks ago and I can't exactly remember my changes.    I'm trying to write it as I made it, but I'm not 100% sure on proportions of ginger and garlic powder I used, but I am probably 80% sure this is what I did.  :)

Servings - 6
Prep time: - 30 minutes


  • 1.25-1.5 lbs chicken breast halves
  • 3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 extra large egg, beaten (I happened to have this size on hand this week.)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1.5 Tablespoons canola oil (although I think I'd try coconut oil next time and that is a guess on the measures, I just add some to the pan.)
  1. Cut the chicken breasts into 1/2 inch thick strips.
  2. Mix the coconut, bread crumbs, salt, ginger and garlic powder until well combined  on a plate.  Beat the egg on another plate, and place the flour on a third plate.
  3. Heat a couple teaspoons of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  While that is heating, begin breading the chicken.  Coat both sides with flour, shake off excess.  Dip in egg, then coat evenly with the coconut mixture.
  4. When oil is heated, add the chicken and cook until the bottoms are golden brown 4-5 minutes.  Flip chicken strips, adding another couple teaspoons of oil as necessary and cook until no longer pink and bottoms are golden brown.  


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