Friday, September 30, 2011

Lemon Steak Pitas

Here is another recipe I tried last week from deals to meals.   It was pretty good.  The onion yogurt sauce made way more than needed and was a bit runnier than I would have liked.  Could easily have been solved by using Greek yogurt, or draining/patting my shredded cucumbers.  Other than that it was good.
I was impressed that the marinade gave soo much lemon flavor.  Here is our version of the recipe.

**Serves 6
**Needs to marinate all day**


  • 2 cups finely shredded cabbage
  • 4-5 small sweet peppers, sliced.  (or 1 large cut in to thin strips)
  • 1 large tomato, cut into thin strips
  • pita pockets or flat bread
Onion yogurt sauce

  • 1 envelope dried onion soup mix (or try 3-5 Tablespoons of this mix)
  • 1 16 oz container of plain yogurt (definitely recommend a greek if you want a thicker sauce)
  • 1 cup shredded cucumber (that was 1 large English cucumber for me.) 
Marinated steak
  • 1.5-2  lbs boneless steak, cut into thin strips (I used a flank steak sliced thin)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (I used fresh squeezed)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  1. In the morning, mix the steak marinade ingredients in a zip top bag.  Refrigerate and marinate all day.
  2. When ready to serve, mix together the yogurt sauce ingredients.  Keep cold until steak is cooked.  
  3. Pour steak and marinade into a large saute pan.  Cook on high heat until steak is tender and cooked through.  (do not over cook.)  
  4. To serve, place steak, cabbage, bell pepper, and tomatoes in a pita.  Top with yogurt sauce.  

Orange cottage cheese salad

Sometimes I have to admit I'm a bit wacky.  I go on these "we should eat healthier" kicks and then I post a recipe like this.  But hey it is a fruit.  Actually I checked out deals to meals and did a free trial and actually made 1 week of their food.  This recipe is from there, but in no way original I'm sure.  I've seen it at a multitude of church functions.  I'm actually not sure how I've never managed to make (or possibly even eat) this salad before.  I think I've had the orange jello salad with marshmallows but never the cottage cheese version.   I actually really liked it - as did all of the kids (except picky toddler.)


  • 1 16 oz cottage cheese (IMHO it has to be Breakstone - one of the few ingredients I'm super brand specific on.)
  • 1 small package orange gelatin 
  • 1 8 oz container cool whip
  • 1 8 oz can pineapple tidbits, drained 
  • 2 11 oz cans mandarin oranges, drained.
  1. Pour cottage cheese and jello into a bowl.  Stir and mix until jello is evenly mixed into cottage cheese.  
  2. Fold in drained fruit and cool whip.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

soup mixes

So, somehow in the last 2 days I've managed to be out of 2 different soups/mixes that I needed for various recipes.  One was lipton onion soup mix.  I thought I had 3 in the pantry, but was mistaken.  Thank goodness for the internet there.  I found one at  The other was cream of mushroom soup - I've actually been trying to eliminate using those so I haven't bought anymore and I forgot the recipe I decided to make on a whim called for it (more on that next post.)  Luckily I found a great substitute in a book (family feasts for $75  that I have checked out of the library.  So, here are my 2 soup mix substitutes with my commentary.

Onion soup mix


  • 3/4 cup dehydrated onion
  • 1/3 cup beef bouillon powder
  • 4 teaspoon onion powder (I actually had less because I ran out but it was still fine)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed celery seeds (I don't know about crushed, mine just say celery seeds and are very tiny already.)
  • (original called for 1/4 teaspoon sugar -I couldn't see the need to add this so I didn't.)
  1. Combine all ingredients and store in and airtight container.
  2. About 5 Tablespoons are equal to 1 package store bought.  (I used 3 rounded Tablespoons for the recipe I was making and it was plenty strong but I think the bouillon I have is particularly flavorful.)

Cream of anything soup

  • 3 cups powdered milk
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup powdered chicken bouillon (I actually didn't add this when I used it last night and I don't think I would add it next time.  see directions below)
  • 2 Tablespoons onion powder (actually didn't have this at all (see above recipe I had made the night before :)  I just tossed in some extra dehydrated onions to the actual recipe.)
  • 1 teaspoons thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons butter powder (optional - didn't have it for cream of mushroom last night.)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Store in and airtight container at room temperature up to a year.)
To make soup:
  1. In a medium-size saucepan, combine 1/2 cup dry soup mix with 1 1/4 cups water, 1 Tablespoon butter (if you didn't put butter powder in the mix), and desired flavorings (see below)
Cream of chicken - no extra seasonings - although my plan in the future is to make it with chicken stock and not add the bouillon to the mix.  I just didn't think it through last night as I was hurriedly trying to get dinner prepared.
Cream of mushroom:  Add 1/2 cup minced mushrooms.  I actually added the mix (no bouillon) a Tablespoons of beef bouillon, water, and dehydrated/freeze dried (not sure which I have) that I just crushed in my hand.  It was really good that way (in the recipe at least)
Cream of celery:  Add 1/2 cup minced celery.  You can puree soup when it cools if necessary

Monday, September 26, 2011

High protein apple waffles/pancakes

Here is another recipe from the bean book I'm borrowing from a friend.  I don't think it was all that much different than the mix I am currently using, but it did have a higher percentage of bean flour = higher protein and fiber so more nutritious.  They also have a slightly nicer texture than the mix pancakes but I would say that is 90% due to the fact that you mix them with stiff egg whites.  How are they not going to have a nice texture?   Like the other recipe I made from the bean book, these were super filling.

The only problem with them is that they stuck pretty bad to the waffle iron.  Usually with my nice waffle iron, the first will stick on a recipe, but after that the rest will be fine with no cooking spray.  These had to be sprayed well for each waffle or much sticking ensued. Next time I would just make them as pancakes.  The recipe does say they can also be made into Ebelskivers which I had to google to find out what were - Danish pancakes for those not familiar with the term.  But apparently they have their own special pan, so they aren't something I'll be trying in the near future.

Be warned that this recipe does make a ton of waffles/pancakes.  If you don't plan to refrigerate or freeze for later, I would suggest cutting the recipe in half.  Also the warning is nice for choosing a bowl size.  My normal 8 cup bowl did not work.  Not a problem, I just added the ingredients to the kitchen aid bowl that had whipped the egg whites.


  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup fine white bean flour (I have a mill and grind my own)
  • 1 Tablespoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup dry milk powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 3 Tablespoons oil or applesauce (I used applesauce, but added 1 Tablespoon of oil mid way through cooking due to the sticking issues.  Next time I'll just add the oil rather than the applesauce)\
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks
  • 1 large grated apple (I'd probably add 2 next time - you really couldn't taste the apple even though I used applesauce too.)
  1. Combine dry ingredients.  Add honey, buttermilk, water, oil and egg yolks and stir until well combined.  Fold in egg whites and apple.  
  2. Bake as pancakes or waffles.

Grape salad

This salad was simply delicious.  It is basically the dip that I've seen at numerous events, but with the fruit stirred in.  If you ask me, there was a bit too much dip for the amount of grapes, and we used probably double the amount of grapes called for.  This would be delicious with any type of fruit.  Top on my list to try would be strawberries.
Next time I would probably just make a 1/2 batch of sauce.
Update 10/27.  I have made this a couple more times cutting the cream cheese mix in half and it was great that way.  (One time that I paid attention I actually had 3 pounds of grapes and I still only used 1/2 the cream cheese.  Much better than the original 1-2 pounds for the entire batch of cream cheese.)  Forgot the almonds/pecans both times though.  And purposely didn't add the brown sugar. :)


  • 2 bags seedless grapes (we used a black and red)
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • optional - sliced almonds or chopped pecans
  1. Wash, separate and dry the grapes.  
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla. (I like an electric hand mixer for this)  Add grapes and mix until evenly coated.  
  3. Sprinkle with brown sugar and nuts (oops I added my brown sugar to the mix and thought it was just plumb strange to call for 2 types of sugar.  I should so learn to read directions. :)  Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Beefy Tex-Mex (taco salad)

For a super busy Sunday (and fast Sunday at that) we sure managed to do more than our share of cooking yesterday.  3.5 desserts a meal and a fruit salad (the .5 dessert.)  Tavio did make the cookies for the court of honor.  Brandon made the 2 desserts - one for us, one for someone who helped him out with his brakes on Saturday.  I made the meal and fruit salad.  So at least it wasn't one person in the kitchen all day - definitely still too hot for that unfortunately.  Everything turned out pretty well.  I'm starting with dinner because I actually made some changes there.  (Plus of course I actually made it.)  Everyone really liked it -whose to say if it is because they had been fasting all day and were hungry, or if it was super good.  I guess I'd have to go by the fact that the 5 year old ate it with no complaints.  (Of course the 2 year old just dipped some chips in sour cream and left the rest on the plate - didn't even eat his cheese.  The boy kills me.  He wouldn't even try the grapes or the sauce on the grapes...  But that is another story.)
This recipe is originally from Rachael Ray, but I found it on  Here is my adaptation to make it speedier and less spicy.


  • 1-2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 cans mild diced green chilies
  • 1 onion diced (I used about 1/2 but I had a very large onion - probably 1.25 cups)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons chili powder (this was perfectly mild for kids.  If you like spice, you can double this.)
  • 1-1.5 lbs lean ground beef (I used pre-cooked, DH had packaged this batch and filled them a bit fuller than I do - hence the 1-1.5 lbs.  We probably had about 1.25 lbs.)
  • 1 15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • chopped lettuce (I just grabbed a jar from the fridge)
  • tortilla chips, slightly crushed
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • sour cream
  • any other optional toppings like cilantro, salsa, olives, avocado or guacamole, I even put some red and yellow pepper on the left overs at lunch today.
  1. Melt butter in a large skillet.  Add onions and saute until fragrant.  Add green chilies and chili powder and cook and stir until well combined and heated.  Add defrosted meat, beans, and tomato sauce and cook until heated through.  (If not using pre-cooked beef, add it first and cook it until done, then add the beans and tomato sauce.)  I then let this simmer while I got the rest of the meal together (finished dicing tomatoes, set the table, and made a grape salad.)  I just kept an eye on it and turned it to very low when I got worried it might get dry.
  2. To serve, place tortillas on a plate, top with meat/bean mixture followed by cheese lettuce tomatoes and any other optional toppings.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Creamy curry cauliflower and broccoli soup

So, this week I tried something new.  I actually went to and did their free trial and let them plan my menu and do my grocery list.  I'm apparently a big goober because somehow I never found the link for the grocery list.  I'm not sure if I'll continue to do that, but for this week, it was simple -even with making my own list.
I ended up checking out the site yet again because she had a sun oven giveaway going on. That is definitely worth checking out.
So the first recipe I tried out this week was a curry cauliflower broccoli soup.  I did worry about the curry, but had the 2 children at home for dinner that evening smell it and they said they would like it so I went ahead and threw it in.  I liked it just fine.   I don't think either of them did.  I think you could make this soup and omit the curry, but maybe add a bit more garlic and onion.  Maybe some oregano??  Something to give it a different flavor.  DH came through and sampled a bite (he was eating elsewhere with DS1.)  He definitively didn't like it with the curry, but he is not a curry fan.
I found the directions on the site a bit hard to follow - like it wanted you to combine flour and milk but never said how much flour. I actually used white bean flour to thicken it a bit.  That worked well and hey, it added some protein and fiber.  :)
Here is my version of this soup


  • 4 cups chicken stock (1 32 oz. container.)
  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I was out and used 1/2 teaspoon garlic minces.)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 head cauliflower, finely chopped (It seems like a ton finely chopped but it works.)
  • 2 broccoli crowns, finely chopped
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons white bean flour (or regular flour - although I may start with less on the regular flour)
  • 2 cups (or handfuls if you measure like I do) cheddar cheese plus more for serving.
  1. Melt butter in a large stock pot.  Add onion and garlic minces and saute until onion is tender and starting to brown.  Add salt and pepper and the chicken stock.  Add the cauliflower, broccoli and cayenne pepper.  Simmer until vegetables are tender.  
  2. Mix in milk and white bean flour (If using regular flour, whisk it into them milk first then add it to the soup.  Cook and let thicken slightly.  At this point I also stuck in my immersion blender and blended up maybe 1/3 of the broccoli/cauliflower.  That made the soup thicker. 
  3. Add the cheese and stir until combined.  Serve in bowls.  Sprinkle with more cheddar cheese if desired.

Banana nutella rolls

I had these on the menu forever before actually trying them.  They were pretty simple to make.  Not sure how much I really liked them.  They sounded so yummy - nutella and banana, but I'm not a huge fan of mushy banana (although I do like them fried so I thought this would be good.  I do however think this would be excellent with another fruit that maybe wouldn't get mushy, and if you are more of a banana fan, I'm sure these would be great.  I'd love to try them with sliced strawberries or even raspberries.  YUM!
I found the recipe in my Rachael Ray magazine.  Not many changes except I didn't dust mine with powdered sugar and she did.  You could try that if you wanted something sweeter.  I also tried making a couple with just cooking spray (not brushed with butter - mostly because  I had 2 left and no more melted butter.  They are still good, but obviously better with the butter.)
Sorry for the picture -I totally need a new flash.  This also must have
been the week I had no dishwasher since it is on a paper plate.  I chose
this picture rather than a powdered sugar one to show the bananas
and nutella inside.  


  • 8 egg roll wrappers
  • 3 bananas, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 3 Tablespoons Nutella (didn't measure this at all and probably used more)
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  1. Working 1 at a time, spread 1 teaspoon (more or less) of nutella down the center of the egg roll wrapper (leave room all around to roll up)  Top with 4 or 5 slices of banana.  
  2. Brush edges with butter.  Roll up like a burrito.  
  3. Brush the outside with butter and cook in a nonstick skillet over medium heat 4 minutes per side or until nicely browned.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

bbq chicken tortilla pizzas

Here was another totally easy, super quick idea that I loved from my Rachael Ray magazine.  To be honest, she did make hers more high class by using gouda and red onions.  I used either monterey jack or cheddar and sweet onions because that is what I usually have around my house.   I also loved that these used corn tortillas.  I love corn tortillas.  YUM!  These would make a great quick lunch, but we had them one day for dinner.  I'm not listing quantities because it isn't like I measured anything. Rachael Ray had it for 4 corn tortillas.  I think I made 16 or so for dinner.  However many it took to use up my 12-16 oz. package of pre-cooked chicken.  I also didn't add the onions to all of them.  Probably about 1/2 for my kiddos who don't like onions.  They were still tasty.


  • corn tortillas
  • cream cheese
  • pre-cooked chicken
  • Barbecue sauce
  • shredded cheese (we used Monterey Jack, cheddar or a combination of both)
  • diced onion
  1. Toss chicken with Barbecue sauce.  Preheat oven to 375.  
  2. To make each tortilla, Spread with a thin layer of cream cheese, add some of the bbq chicken, sprinkle with cheese and onions if desired. 
  3. Bake for 15 minutes. 

Sweet bean burritos

I found this burrito recipe in my Saving dinner book.  I think half of the time I try something because it sounds different and I can't decide if it will taste good.  Then I'm apprehensive to actually taste what I've made.  This would be one of those meals.  Sweet potato with black bean?  I would have never thought to stick those two together.
Unfortunately for me, I can't remember how much we liked them, or exactly how much spices I added.  I do remember that they were better than I expected.  The sweet potato did make them sweet, but it was still good.  Went well with the cumin.


  • 1-2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed (I may have just used garlic powder - I can't remember)
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed (I made these in the microwave to make them quick and easy - had them cooking while sauteeing my onions)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (I may have added more)
  • cheddar cheese
  • tortillas
  1. In a skillet, saute onions in butter until soft and fragrant.  Add garlic and saute an additional minute.  
  2. Add the beans, mashed sweet potatoes and cumin and mix well.
  3. Heat tortillas.  Put bean mixture and cheese in each burrito and roll up.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pork milanese

Why have I never discovered Rachael Ray before?  I think because I've seen her shows and they have never really impressed me much or something.  However, I picked up her magazine at costco the other day and I have really enjoyed it.  First it has a lot of recipes.  Second, they seem semi healthy (which somehow I though Rachael Ray was not.)  and Third, they look (and so far taste) pretty good.  I think I've found my food magazine subscription for next year.  :)
I was really impressed by how colorful this particular meal was in the picture in the magazine.  Unfortunately, mine just wasn't as colorful because I didn't go and spend 3 times as much for heirloom tomatoes or purple onions.  Sorry Rachael Ray, but my boys just don't care, so I'll go with what is convenient at my grocery store.  I did go with the organic tomatoes, but that is the best I did for this meal.
The meal was absolutely delicious (and I didn't even use fresh thyme)  but it was a bit time consuming (even though the magazine said I could make it in just 30 minutes. HA!!! - luckily I knew better before starting. - and I didn't even have to pound my meat because it was a milanese cut I had in the freezer - actually picked the meal to use the meat - and because it was pretty.)
So, here is how I ended up making it - I'd probably make it the same way if doing it again. Rachael Ray did did things way more sophisticated, used more Parsley, and fresh thyme, "heirloom tomatoes" a fresh ear of corn..... - Unreal that it said you could get it done in 30 minutes.  I guess that would be possible with 30 minutes previous prep.  Anyway, it was still delicious, and I'd love to make it again - the same way we made it this time.
This would have gone great with a rice pilaf or something similar.  However, I just served it like this.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 2-3 Tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
  • 2-3 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-1.5 lb. pork tenderloin pounded to 1/8 inch thick - or just buy the Milanese cut
  • oil for frying
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can corn drained
  • 2-3 Tablespoons finely diced sweet onion
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 300.  Place a rack on a baking sheet.  Place the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs on 3 plates.  Combine the lemon zest, parsley, thyme and garlic on a cutting board and finely chop together to form a gremolata.  Add to the breadcrumbs along with the cheese and mix together. 
  2. In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, corn, onion and basil.  
  3. Season the cutlets with salt and pepper, then coat in flour, eggs and breadcrumbs.  In a large skillet, heat a Tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat.
  4. Fry the cutlets in batches for 1.5-3 minutes per side (depending on thickness -ours were super thin so only needed 1.5-2 minutes per side)  Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and keep warm in the oven as you finish all of the batches.  
  5. Serve topped with tomato-corn salad.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Spinach pasta casserole

Somehow I ended up with a baked rigatoni and spinach pasta casserole only 2 days apart in my actual menu plan a couple of weeks ago. (both pasta sauce based meals)  I don't think I'll blog about the other because this was the better of the 2.  They were very similar only  this one also included spinach -giving it more veggies and in fact was vegetarian.  I ate the left overs a couple of days and so did Duncan - cold even in his school lunch.  That is my new judge of how good a meal was - will anyone eat the left overs?  This meal passes that test.


  • 10 oz pasta (I used a twist pasta, but any would do)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 cup (2 T) oil (I use a healthy blend)
  • 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained - or 10 oz fresh, chopped and sauteed until wilted (that is what I did, but I always have fresh spinach I need to use.  frozen would be quicker and easier.)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 39 oz jar pasta sauce
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese (although I didn't measure and probably used a bit more)
  • small sprinkle of Romano cheese (you could certainly use more, I just worried about some picky eaters and only used a little)
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and place in a large bowl
  3. In a small bowl, mix together egg and oil.  Add to the pasta and toss.  Add the spinach, bread crumbs and Italian seasoning and toss again.
  4. On the bottom of a 2 quart casserole dish, pour half of the spaghetti sauce.  Add half of the pasta mixture.  Sprinkle half of the mozzarella.  Repeat the layers, topping with a bit of Romano.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes till bubbly and slightly browned on top.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

crock bean soup with kale

I knew I was behind but this is ridiculous!  I just counted, and even with my only intermittent cooking lately and the use of tried and true meals and take out pizza a little too often :)  I'm still 10 recipes behind in my posting.  One more today and I must get doing other things for the day.  
I chose this one just because it was very different for me.  It is the first thing I have actually made with kale.  I have bought kale a few times before and thrown it in my green smoothies, but I have never made a meal containing kale.  This made me excited to try this and of course a little apprehensive wondering if A it would taste good to me and B my kids would eat something with green stuff in it.  It went over pretty well though.  I liked it.  I did feel it needed just a bit more flavor.  I added extra salt and pepper to mine and it was fine.  I think maybe next time I'll add additional salt at the beginning of the cooking time - maybe let some sink into the beans.  I've read a lot on adding salt before, during or after to cooking beans, but I just felt like the center of the beans were a bit bland.  The overall soup was better (again with the extra salt and pepper.)  Some of the family loved it, some hated it, and others thought it was OK.
I found this recipe in my Saving dinner book.  I added more veggies and changed the beans - originals were cannellini, but in my grocery store those were $9 something a pound.  Kidneys were $.99.  Plus I'm not as big of fan of white beans anyway so kidney it was for us.  I did do another dumb thing and try to soak these in a quart jar ---Don't do it!!!  They grew way too large and then just got stuck in the jar and I had to dig them out.  No fun.  Seriously.  Choose a larger container.   Quart jars work great for 1 cup of beans.  I have no idea what made me think 1 lb would be fine.  Probably the fact that they fit in there just fine dry - only take up a little more than 1/2 of the jar.  Silly, silly me.  

  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 extra large onion, chopped 
  • 4-5 carrots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 bunch kale, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 pound kidney beans, soaked overnight
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (could have doubled this too I think)
  • 40-50 oz chicken stock (this is approximate - I used a 32 oz box and whatever was left in my other container maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of that box -original just had 3 cans of chicken broth - it depends on how soupy you want the finished product - more like soup, or more like chili)
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce (I actually used a Tablespoon of tomato powder because for some reason I was out of tomato sauce -same thing just not reconstituted and I had used a bit extra stock so I didn't want/need any more liquid)
  • salt and pepper (needed lots)
  1. In a large skillet, saute onions, in butter until soft, add carrots and garlic and continue to saute until carrots soften a bit or onions get nice and golden.  Add kale and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes.
  2. In a slow cooker, place soaked beans, red pepper flakes and the contents of the skillet.  Cover with stock.  Cook on high 8 hours or until beans are tender.  Once beans are tender, add the tomato sauce, salt and pepper to taste.


agave-peanut butter popcorn balls

These are not next on my list if going backwards.  Truthfully I made these for the first time probably a month ago but I was out of agave and used honey and I've wanted to try them with agave before posting.  I was much more pleased with how the agave ones turned out.  I worried that I would have trouble with the mixture spreading to all of the popcorn, but I just kept mixing and it spread out just fine.
Also, the first time I made these I tried adding some chocolate chips.  Of course they just melted and ended up making a mess.  I ended up making about 2/3 of the batch of popcorn balls and the last 1/3 got turned into popcorn 'muddy buddies' because they were so covered in melted chocolate by that time that they would no longer stick together.
This time I used chopped dried cherries as an add in and rolled them in coconut.  Soo yummy.  I'm sure I would have devoured all of them if I hadn't made these evil creatures and devoured them instead.  The popcorn balls are actually still around because I packaged them in baggies and put them at the bottom of the snack bucket.  I can't easily get to them - out of sight, out of mind -but no less delicious.  :)
The original recipe came from Eating well magazine.  I actually double it because that is how much popcorn I make in one batch in my air popper.


  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1/2 cup agave
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
Optional ingredients
  • 1/2 cup add ins (like dried fruits or nuts or pretzel pieces)  I used dried cherries this day - didn't measure 1/2 cup though
  • 1/2 cup roll-ins (coconut, sesame seeds, finely chopped nuts, finely ground granola...)
  1. Pop popcorn kernels in an air popper and remove any unpopped kernels.  (should yield 12-14 cups popped)  Place in a large bowl and pour any add-ins on top of the popcorn.  Prepare a large baking sheet by lining with parchment, wax paper, or a silicon baking mat.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the agave and peanut butter.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it starts to bubble.  Continue cooking and stirring for 15 seconds more.  
  3. Immediately stir into the popcorn mixing until well coated. 
  4. Spray hands with cooking spray (or dip in ice water - I've tried both and they both work)  Quickly and firmly press popcorn mixture into balls.  Roll in any roll-ins you may be using.  Place on prepared baking sheet.  

Salsa black bean burgers

So far, I'm just going backwards in my playing catch up.  These were last night's dinner.  I'm thinking they would have been better if I had not been such a goober and actually followed the directions, but hey they still turned out great -thanks in large part to the wonderful home made guacamole Brandon made.  He used lemon this time rather than lime, but I really liked it. I included the recipe below.  He also thought it was a bit salty, but I thought the burgers turned out to be lacking something - probably salt.  All put together the meal was delicious.  It's rating is as a whole - by themselves the burgers would have been a little bit lacking in flavor, but together it was wonderful.   Of course I worried at first - always do with a vegetarian meal at my house.  :)

I did double the original recipe, and changed the pepper from jalapeno to poblano since I have some anti-spicy kiddos.  Feel free to cut it in half if you want to only make 4 burgers)  I served them on these buns which are now my go-to buns (although I'm getting creative in my uses of flours - today I used 5 or so Tablespoons of brown rice flour (whatever was left in my container), a couple Tablespoons of gluten, some wheat flour (2 cups plus maybe a tablespoon or 2 can't remember), unbleached white flour (1 cup), and 2 Tablespoons hi-maize starch)

Yield: 8-9 burgers


  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/3 can dry bread crumbs  (I ended up using more, but that was from my mistake of adding oil)
  • 2 roma tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped (make sure they are seeded.  You don't want extra moisture in your mix.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and finely chopped (I ran this through the food processor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (would definitely use garlic salt next time and probably twice as much)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil (to fry in - do not add to the mix!! -this is totally for me next time I make this.  I'm such a goober somedays.)
  • buns
  • optional toppings - we used taco sauce, sour cream, guacamole and cheddar cheese.  I also sat out salsa and ketchup which I think some of the kids used.
  1.  The recipe had you mash the beans in a food processor.  Mine didn't do a good job, it just threw them to the side then I had to keep scraping them down which is a chore because in a bosch food processor you have to take the whole thing apart and off of the machine to open it and scrape it down.  Such a pain, but totally another subject -just don't get a bosch food processor - enough said.  I recommend just mashing your black beans with a potato masher.  That is what I have done for other recipes and it works great.  Either that, or maybe an immersion blender.  Either would work much better than the food processor.  (Unless of course you have one that works better than mine.)
  2. Place mashed black beans in a large bowl and add bread crumbs, tomato, poblano, egg, and garlic.  Mix until combined.  Shape into 8-9 patties.  (I did add the oil and added extra bread crumbs and even some instant oatmeal to help my patties form.  If your patties are too sticky and moist that is what I suggest.)
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet and cook patties in batches 4-6 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.  (I actually cooked mine on a large electric skillet sprayed with cooking spray (since I already added the oil.  That allowed me to cook all 8 at once.)  
  4. Serve on buns.  Top with sour cream, guacamole and cheddar cheese if desired.  I put a squirt of taco sauce on the bottom bun.

To make our home-made guacamole last night, My husband smashed up 2 avocados, added 1 seeded diced roma tomato, a couple tablespoons finely diced onions, salt and the juice of 1 lemon.  That's it and it was tasty!!!  

Cranberry Orange breakfast squares

Must. Stop. Slacking!

Ugh.  I can't believe how big of a slacker I've been in cooking, but especially in posting.  It started with couches in my kitchen - followed immediately by a broken dishwasher, but all excuses are gone.  I must get back.  I don't like it when I don't remember what I did or can't find a recipe.  Love my blog for that.

So, I'm starting with what is in the oven right now.  I'll come back and add some details.  This recipe is from a book I'm borrowing from a friend.  It is called Country Beans by Rita Bingham.  (Don't know why but my Amazon thing is not working so no picture or link of the book today.)

I only changed a little in the recipe, but as always, it is better to write it down before I make something else and forget what I did here.

Since starting, these came out of the oven, and were quite tasty.  They got between 4 and 5 stars from everyone.  The topping was like a granola but I loved the addition of the coconut flavor to the cake.  My silly teenage boys decided it looked like it would be good with milk, so they ate their second piece in a bowl with milk.  I'm not one for soggy cake so it looked gross to me, but they assured me it was delicious that way.

Ideas for next time - make them as cupcakes to cook faster.  Make them using my regular waffle mix - I actually want to compare the recipes.  They seem to be quite close.  If they are different, I could just add more bean flour, or make a separate mix.  Either way it would make them be much quicker for breakfast.


  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup white bean flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dry milk powder
  • 1 generous Tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate (they would also be great with some added orange zest)
  • 3/4 cup warm or hot water
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup whole, raw cranberries (I actually pulsed mine in the food processor to break them up a bit because I wanted smaller chunks)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
Topping ingredients
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup white bean flour
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 4 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  1. Mix dry ingredients (first 5) in a bowl.  Mix wet ingredients (next 4) in another bowl.  
  2. Combine wet and dry ingredients.  Stir in nuts and cranberries.  Pour into a 9X13 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
  3. Mix topping ingredients together.  Sprinkle over cake.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes (mine took 25) or until cake tests done.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fruit and nut cereal bars and Giveaway winner

Since my last post was all about snacks, I've wanted to share 2 different recipes I recently found for snacks.  I made both last weekend, but they have had to wait to have their turn on the blog because my home was a little crazy with our floors being re-done.  I actually spent Monday and Tuesday with my couches in my kitchen.  Such fun.  Not really.  Hard to cook with a couch in front of the oven.  I could get to the microwave and stove top though.  But was highly un-enthused.   Add to that the fact that my dishwasher decided to stop working AGAIN.  Who wants to make a ton of dishes then hand wash them all.  Not me.  Top it off with a bit of sickness at our house this week and I really haven't wanted to cook much.  I guess I'm really glad I have a couple of items waiting to be blogged.  :)  I'm also glad my last post was a giveaway that I didn't mind if stayed up all week.  Yea!
Speaking of giveaway, my winner is Marissa - post number 1 again - not sure what is with liking post number 1, but that is what it said again.  Believe me, I tried a few more times to make sure it was working.  :)  So, Congratulations Marissa!!! You should be receiving your package in a couple of weeks.
I happened to love Marissa's comment  she said.  "We love fresh fruit and air-popped popcorn. However, we just recently discovered "energy bites." The kids call them "energy packs" because they are totally obsessed with video games and they think these give them super energy. :) I just use whatever I have on hand, but the recipe is at They all loved them so much, that the neighbor kid that comes over after school asked me to write the recipe down so his mom could make them!"  
I just checked out the link and now I have one more recipe to try for snack.  Thanks Marissa!

On to the post for today.  I found this recipe in my June/July simple and delicious magazine.  I liked the varied healthy ingredients in there, but then they were just stuck together with marshmallow.  (not that I'm complaining - just surprised me.)  So I ended up just calling them beefed up rice crispy treats.  The thing is, with all that marshmallow, they were super tasty.  They disappeared so quickly.  (with me eating more than my share.)    I loved a lot of things about them.  #1 I really needed to use up some corn flakes.  :)  #2 I had just bought a ton of dates and this helped use up some.  #3 They really did make a nice little quick, energy bar for me after my Summer of Seals event (500 m swim, 2 min push-ups, 2 minutes sit ups, 2 min pull ups, 1.5 mile run.)    
Oops - I didn't take a picture of these - Aaaw, I guess I'll have to make them again.  ;(

Suggestions for next time - add any dried fruit or nut.  dates and apricots were super sticky to chop.  They were also time consuming.  I'd consider exchanging one of them for raisins on future batches.  The peanuts could be easily substituted for other nuts, and the sesame seeds could easily be substituted with any other seed - making this recipe incredibly versatile.

On to the recipe...

  • 8 cups cornflakes
  • 1 package (6 oz.) dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 package (16 oz.) large marshmallows
  1. In a large bowl, combine the cornflakes, apricots, peanuts, dates, coconut and sesame seeds.  
  2. In a saucepan over low heat, melt butter and marshmallows - stirring until smooth.
  3. Pour over cereal mixture, stirring to combine.  
  4. Press into a greased 9 X 13 pan.  Cool, cut into bars.  


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