Friday, December 11, 2009

thanksgiving dinner {aka: recipe overload}

This Thanksgiving was spent with just our little family, and I was really excited to cook up a feast. I wanted to cook a turkey and all of the fixings, preferably doing many parts from scratch, and I did! {Or rather, WE did... as Derek did as much of the work as I did. He's quite handy in the kitchen, among other rooms... wink!} Here's what we made {I use the term loosely, seeing how some parts- the cranberry sauce, for example- were mostly just served}: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, yams, "squeaky" beans, rolls, cranberry sauce and olives. It took us the better part of Thanksgiving morning, but mmm- was it worth it!

RECIPE: Thanksgiving Turkey
{Note: This turkey recipe was actually a result of our "winging it" (pun not intended but haha- winging it). We had a few ideas originally and then added a few ingredients to make the turkey pair better with the stuffing, etc. It turned out being pretty scrumptious.}
1 10-ish lb. turkey
poultry seasoning
fresh herbs {labeled poultry something-or-other,
including rosemary, sage and tyme}, diced
1 Golden Delicious apple, cored and diced
1 medium onion, diced
ground pepper
sea salt
oven bag {non-edible!}
Defrost turkey if frozen {this takes a good day or two, so think ahead}. Remove innards {giblets?}. Place in oven bag, but keep open- for seasoning. Rub liberally with poultry seasoning, ground pepper and sea salt {to taste}. Sprinkle/pack fresh herbs all over bird. Toss apples and onions in there... on top, wedged into crevices, whatever. Sprinkle a teensy bit of cinnamon on top, and close the bag.
Follow cooking instructions, but I'd recommend cooking the turkey at 300F for 3ish hours (definitely follow the internal temperature on this one, though, not the time itself... no one likes a raw, nasty turkey!). We did ours at 350F for 2 1/2 hours, I think, and it was wonderful and moist... but sort of tough. Strange. We figure more hours at a lower temp would be better. I guess we'll see next year (we don't eat a lot of whole turkeys around here besides).

RECIPE: Sage, Sausage and Apple Stuffing
{Note: This recipe is originally from (Food Network Kitchens). I just cut theoriginal recipe in half (which was plenty and then some for our family of 2 3/4), not quite halving some things, and did my best to follow their instructions. Also, we bought a loaf of French bread, cubed it up into 3/4 in. pieces, then set it out overnight to dry/stale. We probably ended up using 3/4 of the loaf in the end, so more like 12 oz. or so of bread total- more than they recommended. Whatever it was, it was yum.}
12-ish oz. stale bread cubes
4 Tbs. butter, plus more for greasing pan
3/4 lb. sage sausage
1 small onion, chopped
1 Golden Delicious apple, cored and diced
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt
2 c. chicken broth
1-2 tsp. (ish) dried parsley
1/4 c. walnut pieces, chopped {called for "toasted"- totally forgot that part!}
1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 325F. {We still had it on 350F from the turkey, adding this to the oven during the turkey's last little while of cook time.}
Melt 2 Tbs. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and break up with a wooden spoon. Cook until it loses it's pink color, but barely- not so much that it's dry. Add the sausage and pan drippings to the stuffing cubes. Melt the remaining butter in the pan. Add the onion, apple, celery and salt. Cook until the vegetables get soft, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and parsley and bring to a boil.
Pour the vegetable mixture over the stuffing cubes and toss until evenly moistened. Mix in the walnuts and eggs. Loosely pack the stuffing in the prepared pan and cook uncovered until the top forms a crust, about 40 minutes. Drizzle about 2 Tbs. of turkey pan drippings or melted butter over the top. Cook until the top is crisp and golden, about 20 minutes more {we broiled it at the end, I think}. Serve immediately or warm.

RECIPE: Mashed Potatoes
evaporated milk
salt/pepper, to taste
Peel and cube potatoes {the smaller the cubes, the quicker they'll cook}. Put in a pot and cover with cool/luke-warm water. Bring to a boil {this takes a while}, then continue to cook until potatoes are soft. Drain water. Mash the potatoes {you can whip them a little if you want more fluffiness}. Add butter, evaporated milk, and salt/pepper to taste- and/or until the potatoes are the desired consistency. Serve warm with turkey gravy.

RECIPE: Turkey Gravy
3 Tbs. butter
3-4 Tbs. flour
turkey pan drippings, strained
salt/pepper, to taste
Melt butter in skillet over high or medium-high heat. Add flour and quickly whisk. Let the floury taste cook out by letting the mixture bubble for a minute {just don't let it burn}. A little at a time, add the turkey pan drippings, whisking continuously to avoid lumps. Continue whisking and bring to a boil. Add salt/pepper to taste. Whisk and boil and whisk and boil until the gravy is to your desired thickness {it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, imo}. Serve hot.

RECIPE: Candied Yams
2 large yams, peeled and sliced
brown sugar
Rub butter all over the yam slices and place on a baking stone {Pampered Chef is a bazillion times better than other brands, I promise you}. Sprinkle liberally with brown sugar. Bake for 30ish minutes at 350-400F or until yams are soft on the inside {think: potatoes} and slightly crispy on the outside. Remove from stone (put in bowl/on plate/whatever) and sprinkle with a few mini-marshmallows. As the yams rest, the marshmallows will melt a bit, spreading their yummy sweetness. Serve warm.

RECIPE: Roasted "Squeaky" Beans
1 pkg. frozen "squeaky" beans
olive oil (EVOO)
Preheat oven to 350-400F. Dump frozen "squeaky" beans {green/yellow string beans? I'm not actually sure of their technical name} onto a stone, preferably one with raised edges. Lightly drizzle with olive oil {by lightly drizzle, I mean don't dump}. Season with salt/pepper to taste and bake/roast in oven for 30ish minutes. Yummy.

I'm gonna be honest with you. We did nothing whatsoever to invent these rolls. We bought frozen Rhodes rolls {they come as little frozen dough balls}, sprayed Pam {probably the GV equivalent, again- to be honest... and I prefer the canola oil version} into muffin tins, placed one dough ball into each lil' hole, sprayed with Pam again, covered with plastic wrap and let rest for several hours- to rise. Once they were big and beautiful, we baked them according to package directions (10ish minutes?). I think Derek melted butter over the tops when they were done, but I'm not actually sure. They're really easy and better than anything I could make.
Another great idea for Thanksgiving dinner rolls: Golden Corral. I love their rolls. They're big and beautiful and fantastic! If you're not the kneading type, do things my way. You won't regret it. :)

RECIPE: Cranberry Sauce
Again, I did nothing. I like the jellied, canned variety the very best. I think we splurged and went with Ocean Spray brand, but really- I'm pretty sure the cheap stuff is equally good. We just didn't want to risk it, ya know? Anyway, I tossed the can in the fridge the night before so the yummy "sauce" {we all know it's not a sauce, right?} would be cold... then 2 seconds before serving time, I opened the can, plopped the stuff out, sliced it {for prettiness-sake} and DONE. Derek doesn't like the stuff, but I love it... and James seemed to, too. Tart and squishy and pure bliss...

RECIPE: Olives
Same as with the cranberry sauce. Just buy a can, refrigerate, open can, drain and serve. Though some important advice: Large pitted black olives like this absolutely must be eaten off the fingers. Finger puppets a la olive are really the only way to dine. Do it. The Pilgrims will thank you.
And that's it. Happy Thanksgiving to all! {Don't forget your post-dinner naps; you'll need 'em!}

Thursday, October 22, 2009

taco soup

This recipe is in no way my original idea, but since I couldn't find a recipe for it anywhere and decided to wing it... the recipe itself is mine. It turned out really well (sometimes my winging-it doesn't) and is super delicious! And seriously, this recipe is super-duper versatile. Throw in whatever beans sound good to you. Add more or less beef if you're feeling it or have it on hand. Increase the salsa content for a bit more kick. Do your thing. It should work out. Or do it my way. It's good too; I promise. :) Try it on a cold, wonderful day... and enjoy!

RECIPE: Taco Soup

1-1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1 onion
1 taco seasoning packet
1 c. salsa
2 cans diced tomatoes {we used one reg, one with cilantro and lime}
1 can corn
1 can kidney beans
1 can red beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans

Brown ground beef with onion in a med-large pot (whatever you'll do the soup in; who needs more dirty dishes, honestly?). Add all other ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve with shredded cheddar, sour cream, tortilla chips, etc.

PS. My pictures suck. This I know. Lately they have been especially pathetic. Just trust me and not your eyes... it's tasty. Really.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

soothing pumpkin soup with swiss cheese paninis

I got this recipe off Studio5 (recipe submitted by one Laura Wolford) a couple years back. We LOVE it! It's a bit unusual, so we have to be careful who we invite over to share it, but we think it's pretty great. I altered it a bit this time around because I didn't have any cream on hand. Instead, I used 16ish oz. of evaporated milk and threw in a couple tablespoons of butter {can't be too healthy, right?}. It tasted great. We couldn't tell the difference. I think this substitution is ideal for making this even more convenient and easy, but I'll post the original recipe. Who can resist cream, really?

We also grilled up a few swiss cheese paninis on wheat bread for the perfect fall-weather meal! Mmmm... autumn!

RECIPE: Soothing Pumpkin Soup

Serves: 4
Calories: 166

3 c. chicken stock**
1 c. whipping cream
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree {NOT pie filling, just pure pumpkin}
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
dash nutmeg
fresh ground pepper and salt to taste
chopped fresh cilantro or parsley to garnish {not necessary}

**Note: You really want either stock or broth, but not bullion. It comes out way too salty with bullion- especially the Mexican kind. :(

Bring chicken stock and cream to a boil. Whisk in remaining ingredients except garnish. Reduce to simmer and let cook 15 minutes. Season to taste. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish if desired.

RECIPE: Swiss Cheese Paninis

bread slices
swiss cheese, sliced

Easy-peasy. For each panini, just butter two pieces of bread (one side of each) and throw sliced swiss between the two slices (cheese touching the non-buttered sides). Grill them up for a few minutes on each side (use a griddle, frying pan, George Foreman, panini-maker, whatever works), or until cheese is melty and bread is browned and crisp. Slice in half if desired and serve with soup.

Mmm... what a quick, easy, delicious meal. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

banana nut muffins {mine-ish}

These banana nut muffins are my own rendition of my mother-in-law's recipe... which originally came from her mother-in-law... which may or may not have been originally hers! :) I know. That was fun.

Anyway, they're really great. They're uber-moist, almost gooey {though if cooked as muffins and not a loaf, you won't get icky actual goo}, not at all healthy, and super yum.

I took my mother-in-law's recipe, which makes enough for an army- perhaps literally, and reduced it by 5 or so. Then I tweaked a few ingredients, rounded up or down as I thought was best, added some flax seed to make it a bit healthier and voila-- this recipe was born! I hope you like it. Sorry 'bout the hips. ;)

RECIPE: Banana Nut Muffins

6 1/2 Tbs. butter (soft/melted a bit)
1 1/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbs. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. mashed bananas {I used like 3 large ones... it's flexible.}

3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, whatev)
1/4 c. flax seed meal

Whisk together butter, sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla and bananas. In a separate bowl {nice concept; I never do}, combine dry ingredients. Gently add in dry ingredients, a little at a time. Pour into greased muffin tins {only fill the cups about 1/2 full... it's pretty heavy batter and will just goop over the edges otherwise}. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

zucchini bread

I told you, we have lots of zucchini around here! :) This recipe is my friend Brittney's. I don't know if it's hers originally or if she got it somewhere (though she probably altered it to make it milk-free; she tends to do that), but it's yummy. I've made it a few times in the past few months. Hm... probably not the best dieting technique. Anyway- try it out. Let me know what you think.

RECIPE: Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
2 c. sugar
1 c. oil
1 Tbsp. vanilla

2 c. shredded zucchini {I did 3.}

3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. nutmeg {I'd do 1/2.}
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
2-4 tsp. flax seed meal {My addition- to bump up the Omega3. I swear you can't taste it!}

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix wet ingredients {first cluster} until frothy. Add zucchini. In separate bowl {nice theory; I never do}, mix dry ingredients {last cluster}. Mix all together until just wet- don't overstir.

Grease pans {Pam-spray them}. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon around the pans. Pour the batter mixture into two loaf pans. Sprinkle the tops with sugar and cinnamon.

Bake at 350F for 1 hour.

(If making muffins, bake for about 20 min or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

spaghetti with zucchini and parm

We have a good deal of zucchini in our garden right now. Also, I'm pregnant and have an aversion to almost everything. This lil' concoction, however, I came up with one night and have craved it several times since. I love it. Somehow it just hits the spot.

It's very, very simple and super flexible. I'm not even going to attempt to put quantities in the recipe, since really truly you can throw in as much or as little of all of it. I honestly don't think you can go wrong. Try it. Like it. Crave it.

RECIPE: Spaghetti with Zucchini and Parm

spaghetti noodles
olive oil
zucchini, seeded and chopped/diced
onion, diced
garlic (okay- quantity: I do only 1-2 cloves, grated/minced)
parmesan cheese (fresh, shredded)

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, saute the zucchini, onion and garlic in olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. When all of it's done (spaghetti al dente, or to your prefered done-ness... zucchini and onion soft and cooked through), drain the pasta and toss it all together. Add parmesan cheese and toss to coat lightly {don't go too heavy on the cheese or you'll only taste parmesan}. Serve warm. Mmm... enjoy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

sweet and sour meatballs with sticky rice

This recipe actually belongs to my friend, Brittney. She made it for us all the time, and we devoured it without fail. It's really easy and really good! I altered it a little bit {ie. bought pre-made meatballs {sue me} and upped the amounts of onion and garlic}, but pretty much it's the same. Don't worry if you think the sauce will in no way coat the meatballs. It will; I promise. It goes a ton further than you'd think. This meal is really yum. Try it out, and let me know what you think.

RECIPE: Sweet and Sour Meatballs with Rice

white rice
40ish frozen meatballs
2/3 c. ketchup
1/2 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. chopped onion
3/4 tsp. garlic powder

Cook rice according to package directions or your preferred method {we use our rice cooker, throw in some rice, cover it with water, drain, cover it with water, drain, then cover it with water as deep as your first finger joint-- i.e. 1cm-1/2in... it makes it sticky and wonderful}. Also cook meatballs according to package directions.

While the rice and meatballs are cooking, combine all other ingredients in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and keep it comin' for about a minute. You want the sugar to dissolve and the onions to soften- seeping out their yummo flavor. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes.

Once the meatballs are done, toss them with the sauce in a medium-sized bowl. The sauce should coat the meatballs. Serve this combination over rice. Enjoy!

Monday, June 1, 2009

banana nut muffins

Having just moved into a new house, I really needed to bake something {make a floury mess, fill the house with a sweet smell, eat something wonderful} to mark my territory a bit. These muffins were just the thing I needed. Somehow family and food combine to make a house feel like a home like none other.

Tip: I always thought you could only make muffins with old, brown bananas. Turns out fresh ones work just as well; they're just harder to mash {though honestly how "hard" can mashing bananas be?}. Who knew??

Anyway, I got this recipe from my Pretty Pink Bible {okay, so it's really called the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book... but it's the pink, breast cancer version of the classic red plaid... and it's fabulous}. It's on page 126, if any of you have the same, and it's actually the Muffins recipe with the Banana Muffins variation. I altered it a little {ie. dumped all ingredients together instead of separating dry and wet}, but it's pretty much theirs.
The muffins are yummy. Enjoy!

RECIPE: Banana Nut Muffins

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. cooking oil {vegetable}
3/4 c. mashed banana {2 bananas, I think}
1/2 c. chopped nuts {did 1/4 c. pecans}

Directions:Preheat oven to 400F. Grease {spray, whatever} a regular-sized muffin tin... all 12 cups. Combine all ingredients in a medium-large bowl. Stir until just moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each cup evenly. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. A wooden toothpick inserted in centers should come out clean at this point. Let cool a bit, then remove from muffin cups and serve warm.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

spaghetti n' green beans

Nothing fancy. At least not around here. We don't even roll the ground beef into meatballs; we just throw the stuff in. But spaghetti is a go-to meal. It's quick. It's easy. It's hearty. It's delish. Did I mention it's quick?

Derek actually made this meal. I was baggin' and taggin' hairbows and was therefore indisposed. He's a wonderful husband... and as it turns out, a pretty good cook, too!

Note: We make spaghetti lots of ways {from scratch, from a jar, with meat, without meat, with lots of fresh veggies {ie. squash/zucchini-- highly recommended} from our garden, etc.}, but this is how we made it tonight. This is probably the quickest way to do it. Also, maybe it's just the way my mom always did things, but green beans and spaghetti seem like the perfect pair.

RECIPE: Spaghetti N' Green Beans

spaghetti noodles {I honestly cannot tell you how much... I'm a HORRID judge of pasta quantities.}
1/2 - 1lb. ground beef
1 jar/can spaghetti sauce
garlic powder
1 can green beans

Boil water and cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, brown ground beef in a 12-inch-ish frying pan. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Once meat is fully browned, dump in the spaghetti sauce. Mix well and leave on heat until warm. Nuke the green beans for a couple of minutes, or until hot. Serve everything warm, preferably with a glass of cold milk.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

creamy italian chicken

This meal doesn't look like much {crock-pot meals often don't, imo}, but it tastes fabulous! Our friends/family Jon and Ashley made this for us and therefore were matchmakers ... because we're now in love with this scrumptious delight! This meal is super delicious. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

PS. As with all crock-pot meals, feel free to add or reduce quantities to your liking {or to your pantry's preference}. If you have tons of potatoes, throw in a few more. If you hate carrots, don't add them at all. The original recipe was actually just for chicken {no veggies added}. You could do it just chicken, shred it at the end and throw it on top of pasta. Or rice. Or roast the potatoes and carrots separately in the oven {with EVOO, S&P and at 400F for 40ish minutes}. We've done that, and it was fab. Really, your possibilities are endless! Be creative. It's divine either way.

RECIPE: Creamy Italian Chicken

1 packet Italian dressing seasoning (dry)
1-2 lbs. chicken
1/2 c. chicken broth
5 potatoes, quartered
1/2 lb. baby carrots
1 cube cream cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup

Place chicken in crock-pot. Cover with dry Italian dressing seasoning. Add chicken broth {I usually just pour it in around the edges, moisturizing the chicken-meets-crockpot area}. Cover and cook on low for 2 hrs (or on high for 1 hr).

Add potatoes and carrots. Whisk cream cheese and cream of chicken soup together well and dump/spread on top of it all. Cover again and cook on low for about 3 hours (or on high for 1-1/2 hrs) or until veggies are soft and chicken is cooked through.

And you're done! Enjoy!

Monday, April 13, 2009

easter dinner

This is what we had for Easter dinner this year. It was divine. Derek and I loved every bit of it, and James mostly just liked the beans. :) He's crazy for beans, the little weirdo. When James was a baby, he loved yams. Apparently that phase is over, and he thinks they're icky. But Derek and I loved them. The whole meal was a hit!

RECIPE: Easter Dinner

spiral-sliced ham (with honey glaze packet)
Rhodes rolls (frozen)
green and yellow green beans (frozen, steam pack)
yams, 1 per person

Pretty easy, just cook everything according to package directions!

Spray muffin tin with non-stick spray and place one frozen roll in each slot. Spray again and cover with plastic wrap. Put ham in a cake/casserole pan with a little water and cover in foil. Let the rolls rise and bake the ham in a 250F oven-- both for 3 hours (while you're at church... it's Easter, hello).

Once you're home, prepare the honey glaze by boiling the seasoning mix with water. Pour over ham and bake again (cover it with foil again, or your ham will dry out) for 8 minutes or so. Remove ham from oven, keeping covered to keep warm.

Remove the plastic wrap and bake the rolls according to package directions (for about 13 minutes). Meanwhile, wash the yams and poke them with a fork multiple times. Microwave on high until tender... about 20 minutes for 3 yams. Then steam the green/yellow beans for 5 minutes or so, again in the microwave.

Everything should be warm and ready now. Put it all on the table, say your prayers and dig in! Mmm, mmm, Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009


I think Derek makes some pretty great {not to mention quick and easy} guacamole. He tried to dissuade me from posting about it, since he says he just throws stuff together and anyone could do it. But I don't know how to make a great guac... so if only for my reference, here it is.

Note: The measurements are approximate. Adjust each "to taste."

1 large avocado, cut into small chunks
1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. salt

Mix all together in a cereal-sized bowl. Serve with tortilla chips {We strongly recommend Santitas White Corn Chips}. Devour.

bbq chicken pizza

We love to make our own pizza. It feels so festive and is somehow so fulfilling. Usually we go for the supreme variety, but this time we opted for something a little different. We had some bbq sauce in the pantry and some chicken and pizza dough in the freezer. It was meant to be. And it was yummy.

PS. We used way too much sauce the first time (ie. twice as much as needed). You can see the excess gushing out the sides. Anyway, the recommended amount is listed below, so try that. Change it however you'd like. It's your pizza, after all!

RECIPE: BBQ Chicken Pizza

pizza dough {We buy ours frozen at Macey's for 99c.}, thawed
corn meal (optional)
1 c. bbq sauce
1 lb. chicken, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
3/4 lb. mozzarella cheese, shredded

Stretch, pull, flip, roll... whatever... to get your dough into the correct shape and size for your stone. Spread a thin layer of corn meal on the stone (optional) and place dough. Using a fork, poke holes all over the dough, leaving the outer crust-area alone (this will prevent it from ballooning up; it will keep it flat). Bake dough at 400F for about 8-10 minutes, or until golden. Meanwhile, combine bbq sauce and chicken in a pan. Cook over medium heat until chicken is cooked through.

Pull pizza dough out of the oven and dump sauce/chicken mixture on top, spreading it around evenly. Sprinkle the diced onion evenly, then top with mozzerella cheese. Make sure and leave a bit of a crust on the outside perimeter. Bake the whole thing again, still at 400F, until cheese is melted, bubbly and starting to brown. Remove from oven, cut into wedges and serve warm.

chocolate mug cake

This recipe came from Aubrey via our mommy blog, Young Wives' Tales. I have no idea if it is hers alone or if she got the idea elsewhere, but it's so. darned. good. Really. You nuke the stuff right in the mug... I know! It takes less than two minutes and comes out all sorts of chocolatey and gooey and devine. No more worrying about having tons of leftover cake to devour and/or waste... we're talkin' single portions, people! Try it. It really is that good.

RECIPE: Chocolate Mug Cake

5 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
4 Tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt

3 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix the dry ingredients together in your mug of choice. Then add the milk, oil and vanilla. Stir well, making sure to get all the flour mixed in from the bottom corners.

Set your microwave to 2 minutes. Microwave for about 1 minute, 45 seconds. Stop around 50 seconds to let deflate; then continue cooking. Check to make sure the cake is cooked through {by sticking a toothpick into the center; it won't be clean but should have some residual goo, like when checking brownies}.

Top with chocolate chips. Mix it all together if you want {this is best, imo}. Have milk on handy, as it's wonderfully rich. And mmm.... enjoy.

Serves: 1*
Calories: 444

*(unless you share, and you may want to)

cayenne-rubbed chicken with avocado salsa

This recipe is from the lovely Mindy Anderson {author of The Orange Apron}, who got it from an issue of Everyday Food magazine. Phew! :) Anyway, we altered it a bit. Instead of red onions, we used white onions. Don't. It was a bad idea... way too powerful of a punch. Also, we doubled up on the avocado {this was a great idea... mmm, avocado}, halved the amount of onion and added a Roma tomato, since we had a bunch on hand. We also grilled the chicken instead of pan-frying it. All in all, I loved the meal. We ate outside {hence the strange coloring in the pic... natural sunlight- pssh! Weird!}, and it felt like a wonderful summertime meal. Note: If you don't like avocados and will not therefore eat the salsa with the chicken {ahem, James}, the chicken might be pretty spicy. As a combo, though, the flavors and spicy/creamy factors harmonize well and result in a super delicious meal!

RECIPE: Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa

coarse salt
ground pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into strips
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 large avocados, pitted and cut into chunks
1 Roma tomato, diced

Fire up the grill. In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cayenne. Baste chicken with olive oil and rub with seasoning mix. Grill chicken on medium heat until cooked throughout (until opaque and the juices run clear, or until it is at least 165F). Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine onion and lime juice; set aside. Just before serving, fold avocado chunks and diced tomato into onion mixture; season with salt and pepper. Serve chicken topped with salsa.

If your kid doesn't like it, throw a tortilla his way. ;)

Monday, April 6, 2009

balsamic sourdough with mozza and roma

Derek and I were craving bruschetta when we first came up with this idea. It didn't really end up resembling that... it took more of a "marv n joe" turn before we were finished. But regardless of its resemblance, the end result was open faced godliness! Really. Humbly speaking, these little devils were amazing! I cannot wait to make these again!

RECIPE: Balsamic Sourdough with Mozza and Roma
{What the crap, right? Yeah... titling was hard.}

1 loaf artisan sourdough bread, sliced (abt. 12, 1/2"slices)
{Sam's Club has these babies in packs of two, and they're fantastic!}
5 Tbsp. olive oil {EVOO}
1-2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. dried basil
Roma tomatoes (abt. 3, sliced the long way)
salt/pepper (freshly ground, of course, and to taste)
fresh mozzarella cheese (abt. 3/4 lb, sliced)

Place the bread slices on a baking stone {Pampered Chef is superior by far.}. Combine EVOO, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder and basil in a small bowl. Mix well. Spoon and spread mixture onto bread slices. Layer Roma tomato slices next. Then salt and pepper your tomatoes to taste. Top with mozzarella cheese. Broil in the oven until cheese is melty, bubbled and browned. Serve warm.

steak and cheese quesadillas

This recipe is based on one from For the Love of Cooking- a foodie blog I occasionally "stalk." The author does a fantastic job and posts lots of recipes that an average cook might actually cook for dinner that night {unlike many too-fancy-though-fun blogs}. I mostly followed her recipe but changed a few things to accommodate the ingredients I had on hand, as well as the let's-eat-now time frame we had that night. It's pretty tasty. The meat would be awesome in a carne asada burrito... but we were fresh out of avocados atm.

RECIPE: Steak and Cheese Quesadillas

1 lb. steak, thinly sliced {about 1/4"}
1/3 cup vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder {or a few onion rings if you're out}
1 1/2 tsp oregano
2 Tbs. lime juice {or lemon, if it's what's on hand}
6 cloves garlic minced

1/2 onion, diced
1 Tbs. olive oil
cheddar cheese {We love sharp.}, shredded
flour tortillas

Put all above ingredients (the FIRST grouping) in a pan and simmer/boil until meat is thoroughly cooked. Remove meat. {Note: The original recipe uses these ingredients in a marinade... which is a fabulous idea, but we were in a hurry. This worked pretty well, though.}

Caramelize onions in a pan with the olive oil... probably over medium heat. {Be careful not to burn the onions, as they smell like hell and taste icky, too.} Remove from heat.

Butter one side of each flour tortilla. On one {out of the two necessary for a quesadilla} non-buttered side of the tortilla, layer shredded cheese, steak slices and caramelized onion. Add another small layer of cheese, to insure sticking. Top with another tortilla (buttered side out).

In a skillet over medium/medium-low heat, grill the quesadilla until browned -- flip and do the same to the other side. Cut into triangles and serve warm! {Sour cream, salsa and guacamole are all great toppers... so is Cholula hot sauce... yum!}

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

pizza pasta

I love the idea of pizza almost as much as the reality of it. It's easy. It's healthy {well, it can be}. And it feels like a party. I wanted to make something along these lines for dinner tonight, but I didn't have time to defrost the pizza dough (yes, we buy it in a frozen ball) nor the desire to make something so festive when Derek wouldn't be home with us to enjoy it. Instead, then, I made pizza pasta. It's easy, versatile and delicious! Just cook some pasta, drain it, then throw in some sauce and toppings of your choice. {Pizza toppings on a salad is also pretty yummy... but I'd skip the sauce and add some Ranch.} No need to follow my recipe to the T. It really is a super flexible dish. So roll up your sleeves, improvise and enjoy!

RECIPE: Pizza Pasta


2 c. pasta {I used mostaccioli.}
1/2 c. pepperoni slices, quartered
1/2 c. green bell pepper, diced
1 c. mushrooms, diced
1/4 c. olives (black, pitted & sliced)
1/4 c. diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp. garlic powder (or to taste)
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper (or to taste)
2 tsp. pizza seasoning (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. oregano (or to taste)
parmesan/mozzarella cheese, shredded (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pot. Add all other ingredients, mix well. Warm on the stove (med-high heat) until all are heated through. Top with cheese if desired. Serve warm.

Monday, March 2, 2009

broccoli cheese risotto

I'm not sure if this qualifies as a risotto, but it's what I'm going to call it- for lack of a better name. It would also make a good casserole... just sprinkle some cheese on top and pop the whole thing in the oven for a bit, until the cheese is browned and bubbly. It's a great meal (or side dish) to make when you don't have much time and want to use up your leftover cooked rice from a previous dish. It's also great if you have a scrawny kid that you need to fatten up. ;)

RECIPE: Broccoli Cheese Risotto

2 c. broccoli
1/2 med. onion
3/4 c. water
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 c. rice, cooked
1 can cream of chicken/mushroom soup
1-2 c. chicken stock/broth
1/2-1/3 lb. sharp cheddar cheese
salt/pepper to taste

Dice broccoli and onion, toss into a saucepan with water and a bit of oil, over high heat*. Bring to a boil and reduce heat slightly. Cover and boil until soft. Add more water (or chicken stock) if needed. *{You could also roast the veggies, but I was short on time.}

Once veggies are soft, add in cooked rice, cream of chicken/mushroom soup, chicken stock and cheese. Stir frequently, mixing and melting over medium heat. Add salt/pepper to taste {I like lots of pepper... freshly ground, of course}. Serve warm and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

grilled-cheese sammies with mixed veggies

It's a rainy day. Derek's home {no flying... rainy day}. Our happy little family is together and cozy. I threw this together, wanting mostly a super-quick meal... and it was a hit! James couldn't get over the "beddies" {veggies} and kept wanting "meeew" {more}, which made me rediculously proud. And because I used NO butter or seasonings on the veggies {try it; you'll be surprised} and used whole wheat bread, we were able to eat a delicious AND nutritious meal. It's super simple but really yum. Try it. You'll like it.

RECIPE: Grilled-Cheese Sammies with Mixed Veggies

whole wheat bread
sharp cheddar cheese
butter/margarine {We love Canola Oil Harvest.}
frozen mixed veggies

Put veggies and water into a saucepan and cook according to package directions. {Seriously, don't add anything. I know you'll want to, but refrain. Taste them first... You'll be surprised how flavorful they are with nothing added.}

Meanwhile, spread butter on one side of each piece of bread. Slice cheese thinly and stack in between pieces of bread (touching the non-buttered sides). Heat a pan over med heat. Fry/grill {not sure which word is applicable here} each side until beautifully brown and the cheese is melted inside.

Cut the sandwich into four if serving little people, serve up and enjoy! {PS. The veggies are perfectly sized for tiny toddler fingers... and require no cutting to minimize the choking hazard! I know! Amazing.}

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

lasagna soup

This recipe is not mine in any way. I saw it on Studio5, loved it, and "brought it home" with me. I really do love this soup. It's a hearty soup, full of wonderful goodness. It's rediculously easy (a few cans of this, a couple of these, add this mix and BOOM). I make it fairly often and love it each time. Hats off to you, Ms. Cherise Cragun!

RECIPE: Lasagna Soup

1 lbs. Italian Sausage
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 pkg. Lasagna Dinner Mix (Hamburger Helper)
5 cups water
2 cans corn, undrained
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tlbs parmesan cheese
3 small zucchinis, chopped

Brown sausage with onion and drain. Add lasagna sauce mix (not noodles), water, tomatoes, corn and cheese. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add noodles and zucchini. Cook 10 more minutes or until zucchini is done. Serve with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Serves: 12
Calories: 389

*Photo courtesy of Studio5.

Monday, February 9, 2009

french meringues with blackberry syrup

I got this recipe from One More Moore, a creative blog I like to "stalk." I altered her recipe a bit, screwed it up, then altered it more... and the syrup recipe is all mine {though the idea was hers, too, if truth be told}. We had company over last night and had these for dessert. They were good, really good, but they need a little tweaking. Next time I'll do things a little differently {i.e. throw in some vanilla and pay closer attention to the whipping}. But the general concept was too good not to post.

RECIPE: French Meringues

4 egg whites
2 1/4 powdered sugar

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees. Line baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper. Whip the egg whites until foamy. Slowly add all the sugar in small bits. Mix in Kitchen-Aid on medium speed for 30-40* minutes until satiny and looks like whipped cream.

Place in pastry bag and pipe into desired shape (I used a large star shaped tip with my bag). Place in oven and put a wooden spoon in the oven door to keep it slightly propped open (this will avoid getting cracks in the meringues).

Bake for 3 hours. Make sure they are completely dry before pulling them out of the oven.Allow to cool completely & store in an air-tight container.

OR You can do it MY way and over whip them {*note to self: in the future, disregard the time frame and just watch for the stiff peaks to form... lesson learned}, add way too much extra sugar and an extra egg white {why not?} to the mix in attempts to salvage the meringue soup... all the while failing anyway. Then spoon {pour!} the mixture into cupcake tins and bake at 300 until the lil' beauties are pretty much dried out {but slightly pie-top-like-meringuey inside since you have no patience} and more resemble macaroons. Then eat them anyway... and still think they're pretty great. :) {I'm just sayin'... it's an option!}

RECIPE: Blackberry Syrup

1/2 c. water
1 c. sugar (plain ol' white sugar)
2 c. frozen blackberries

Over high heat {faster is better, imo}, bring water to a boil. Add sugar and stir. Let the mix boil for a few minutes to dissolve and thicken a tiny bit. Add blackberries. Bring to a boil again. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occassionally, until the syrup reaches the desired consistency (probably about 5 minutes). Serve hot, over oh-so-yummy meringues... and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

no-bake cookies

I LOVE no-bake cookies! They're so darn delicious, and super duper easy to make. I used to make them a ton as a kid {pre-teen/teenish}, so I associate them with that part of my life. For example.... in eigth grade, I was in a Speech and Drama class {which was awesome, by the way; thanks, Mrs. Shelton!} and did a "How-To" speech on How To Make No-Bake Cookies. I dropped my mom's nice saucepan in the process, so the memory is bittersweet {i.e. impending doom}, but the speech went great... and... um... yeah, that story really has no climax.

Anyway, a friend of mine {Brittney} made these the other day {which inspired- literally- a happy dance on my part}. The recipe is from her mother-in-law, and who knows where she got it. Perhaps it's an original. Perhaps it's from a box or book. But regardless of its origins, it's fantastic. Mmm... pour me a glass of milk, baby! We're havin' cookies tonight!

RECIPE: No-Bake Cookies

Yield: about 30 cookies

1 cube (1/2 c.) margarine
2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. milk
4 Tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. peanut butter
3 c. instant oatmeal

Melt margarine. Add sugar and milk. Bring to a boil. Add cocoa and boil for 1-2 min. Remove from heat and add vanilla, peanut butter and oatmeal. Spoon onto foil/wax paper/parchment paper {the indecision is my addition, not the original recipe} and let cool. Then eat up!

Serves: 12
Calories: 130

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

homemade mac-n-cheese

I was blog-stalking this morning and came across a blog called The Black Apple and a post wherein she mentions that she love, love, loves mac-n-cheese but with one staple ingredient: nutmeg! I thought that was the most interesting {aka: weird} combo, but it also called to me. So when searching my cupboards and freezer for anything edible to eat for lunch, I thought I would try making my own mac-n-cheese. I'd never made a cheese sauce from scratch, but I figured it couldn't be that hard. Luckily, my "wingin' it" worked out to my advantage... because it was really good! Give this recipe a try. You'll be glad you did.

RECIPE: Homemade Mac-N-Cheese

Yield: 10 servings
Calories: 395 per

16 oz. tube-ish pasta {I used 1 box ziti.}
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
2 c. milk
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese (grated)
salt/pepper, to taste
nutmeg {about 4 shakes it to taste}
10 oz. ham (apx 4 thick slices, cubed)

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over high heat, melt butter. Once butter is melted and starting to boil, add flour, a little at a time. Whisk quickly to combine. Let the roux boil for about a minute, to cook out the "floury" taste. Add milk. Whisk to combine. Then add cheese and nutmeg, and again whisk to combine. Reduce heat and continue whisking until the sauce reaches desired consistency.

Drain pasta. Add sauce (a little at a time; you may not want all of it). Then add ham. Toss gently, and serve warm. Top with salt, pepper and/or nutmeg to taste.

Monday, January 26, 2009

roast with potatoes, carrots and gravy

There's nothing like walking into the house after church and getting ambushed by the amazing aroma of a slow-cooked roast. Mmm. Derek actually instigated this dinner. He let me sleep in, and when I woke up, I could already smell the roast cooking. It was a pleasant surprise. My husband is the sweetest.

We cooked the roast, potatoes and carrots in the crockpot for a long time, making it so tender it practically melted in our mouths! I whipped up a quick gravy just before we ate using the drippings, and the whole thing was delish. All three of us loved it. It was a hearty, cozy, wonderful family meal.

RECIPE: Roast with Potatoes and Carrots

Yield: 4 servings

2 lb. beef roast {this was chuck}
4 potatoes
1-2 handfuls of baby carrots
1/2 c. onion, diced
2 c. water
Lawry's seasoning
black pepper (freshly ground)

Rub roast liberally with seasoning and pepper. Wash and cube potatoes. Place roast into crockpot, followed by potatoes, carrots and onions. Add water. Season veggies liberally with seasoning and pepper. Cover with lid (and I usually put a kitchen towel or two on top of the lid, to trap in heat even more). Turn crockpot on a) high for 3 hrs, or until roast is cooked through... or b) low for 5-8 hrs, or until roast is cooked through. {This roast we had alone - with just water - in crockpot on high for 2 hrs, then on low with veggies for about 3-4 hrs more.}

RECIPE: Roast-Top Gravy

Yield: about 1 1/2 c. (depends on drippings)

2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. flour
roast drippings

In a small frying pan over high heat, melt butter. Once butter is melted and starting to boil, add flour, a little at a time. Whisk quickly to combine. Let the roux boil for about a minute, to cook out the "floury" taste. Then add the drippings a little at a time, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Continue simmering/whisking until the gravy reaches desired consistency. Add more salt/seasoning/pepper if needed {ours was plenty tasty}. Serve warm, atop your meal, and enjoy!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

german pancakes with apple

In college, an old roommate of mine {Sarah} introduced me to German Pancakes. She was from the south {Louisiana, I think}, so maybe this is a southern thing. I don't even know. Wherever it came from {GERMANY, perhaps??}, it is really yummy! I didn't have a recipe but wanted to make it one day, so I scoured the web in search of a good recipe. I found a few that looked good, but liked only bits and pieces of them instead of any one as a whole. So I took a little from this one, a little from that -- until I came up with my {sort of} own recipe. Then the other day, I wanted to make it healthier, so I thought of adding the apples {which seemed a natural flavor to pair with the cinnamon} and improvised with that. It turned out really yummy... and pretty, too.

This is a really easy, cheap meal to make. And it's super versatile. I usually make it for breakfast, but it's a perfect brunch/brinner/whatever sort of meal! I often put a square of it on a big plate then decorate it with a zig-zag of maple syrup and a sprinkle of cinnamon. It makes the whole meal feel fancy and fun!

RECIPE: German Pancakes

Yield: 8 servings
Calories: 297

1 apple, cored and diced/sliced
1/4 c. butter
1 c. white flour
1 c. wheat flour
2 c. milk
12 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 F. Put all ingredients into a mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.

Dump the batter into the casserole dish. The apples will likely float to the top. Sprinkle the whole thing with cinnamon, for looks, then pop the whole thing into the oven. I usually put it on the almost-bottom rack, so the top doesn't burn before the mix is cooked through.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the center is stiff and non-jiggly and the apples are nicely browned. Serve with maple syrup... and savor.

steak with roasted broccoli and steak fries

I really dislike most "raw" vegetables. Always have. I have a few exceptions, but broccoli is definitely not one of them. Broccoli was just one of those vegetables... the kind where you're not surprised by the stereotype that always names it as what no kids will eat. I could stomach it {cooked}, but still thought it was blah. Until.... dun dun dun... Rachael Ray introduced me to ROASTED broccoli.

It's divine. It's nutty and somewhat sweet, with crisp edges and tender, savory insides. You'd never guess broccoli could taste this way. I love it. And my family does, too {especially James, which is sayin' something}. So we eat it a lot. A lot a lot. Here is one example of that.

RECIPE: Steak with roasted broccoli and steak fries
Yield: 2 1/2

2 steaks
1/2 bag frozen broccoli (any work, but spears are prettiest)
4-5 potatoes
Lawry's (or your fav seasoned salt)
Spade L Ranch (or your fav steak seasoning)
salt/pepper (I always use freshly ground pepper... it's tons better.)

Preheat oven to 400 F and fire up the grill.

Wash and cut potatoes (into wedges, about 8 wedges per potato).

Place potatoes and broccoli on a cookie sheet/stone. Drizzle EVOO over potatoes and broccoli then rub it in with your hands. Sprinkle generously with pepper and a) salt for broccoli / b) Lawry's for potatoes. Give 'em a rub again if they need it.

Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through and broccoli has blackened edges.

For the steak, make sure it's thawed and rub EVOO on both sides, followed by a thick rub of Spade L Ranch seasoning and ground pepper. Grill until done to your specifications. (In the above picture, we used the George Foreman since our grill is buried under a mound of snow. It's not as pretty, but it was actually very tasty.)

Serve warm, heaped together on a plate, and enjoy!