Saturday, December 31, 2011

Just for Jen :)

So we saw my cousin and his wife over the holidays.  She gave me a hard time for not having pictures on my blog so she could compare her Italian pasta dish with mine.  Little does she know how hard it is to get dinner on the table with a teen and almost teen asking every 30 seconds when dinner is; picture taking is just not happening with that going on!!  So just for you, Jen, here's some pictures of the pretzel-chocolate treats that I blogged about and we made again for snacks tonight for New Year's Eve.

First, you need a totally awesome chef assistant.

Then you take the waffle pretzels and spread them on a cookie sheet, preferably a rimmed one so they don't slide off.  Top each pretzel with an unwrapped chocolate kiss.

Bake in the oven (250*) for about 5-7 minutes until the kisses are soft.

When they're soft, take them out and top each pretzel/kiss with an M&M.  Push the M&Ms down so they flatten the kisses a bit.  We used the red and green Christmas ones last time, today it was the regular colored ones.

Let them cool so the chocolate hardens, then you can enjoy!  Watch out because they can be quite addictive!

So Jen, just for you some lovely pictures of us creating the pretzel-chocolate treats.  Don't expect more pictures anytime soon. :)  It was pretty hard to remember to take pictures going along just making these.

Happy New Year, everyone!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ham and Bean Soup

Merry Christmas!!  We enjoyed our relaxed Christmas day at home, then my family came over on the 26th for some fun together.  I made a ham, mac and cheese, and salad for dinner that night, something that everyone would like.  Now I have leftover ham to make into something.  Bob has used some of it for breakfast the last two days, but I was thinking more like soup/stew.  I had a bag of Appaloosa beans I had gotten from The Herb Shop at Lancaster, PA's Central Market.  The recipe on the back got the juices flowing for a soup, but it wasn't quite what I wanted (it had salsa in it, not something Bob really likes).  So after a quick web search, I found something better that I made to our liking.

Ham and Bean Soup

1 ham bone with some meat left on
1 lb. Appaloosa beans
3 c chicken broth
3 c water
1 heaping Tbsp brown sugar
1 heaping Tbsp parsley
2 bay leaves
a few grinds of pepper

Put all the ingredients into a large soup pot.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 2-3 hours until beans are soft.  Pull out the ham bone and meat; cut up the meat and return to the pot.  Heat for a couple of minutes to reheat the meat and serve.

This can also be cooked in a crockpot on low all day or on high for 3-4 hours.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas is coming!

Christmas food traditions vary from home to home.  Growing up we always had what amounted to Thanksgiving, Part II for Christmas Day dinner.  Instead of pumpkin pie for dessert, we had plum pudding and hard sauce, but otherwise it was turkey with all the fixings.  While I enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, once is enough for me.  I think it's the turkey, I'm really not that crazy about it. 

For several years, when it was just the two of us, Bob and I would do something similar if we were on our own.  When we had the girls and started spending Christmas at home, we'd have roast beef for Christmas Eve dinner, then turkey or something else nice on Christmas.  I decided a couple of years ago that we didn't need two big meals back to back and I didn't want to spend Christmas in the kitchen cooking, I wanted to play with my new toys too!  So we've moved to a much more casual Christmas meal, keeping the nice one on Christmas Eve.

Our menu for this year:

Christmas Eve breakfast - coffee cake made in my tree shaped pan, coffee, tea, juice
Christmas Eve dinner - roast beef, scalloped potatoes, green beans, and a Buche de Noel
Christmas morning - sweet rolls (I think I'm going to use the Pioneer Woman's recipe), coffee, tea, juice
Christmas lunch/dinner - chili, mini corn bread muffins

The roast beef and chili have become traditions for our family though the sides vary with what I feel like making.  The Buche de Noel was suggested by Sweet Pea; her French teacher encouraged them to make one for extra credit for class.  Can't wait to try it!

Merry Christmas to all!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Crunchy Oat & Cranberry Muffins

Yes, more cranberries!!  I made these muffins because I like them.  Bob wasn't home by the time I made breakfast this morning, Sweet Pea doesn't like cranberries (otherwise I think she'd like these muffins), and Rosie Jane doesn't like oats in her muffins.  I got this off the web a long time ago but haven't made them recently; I had just the right amount of cranberries leftover from making something else so it worked out perfectly (except that I'm the only one eating them).

Crunchy Oat & Cranberry Muffins
makes 12 muffins

3/4 c flour
3/4 whole wheat flour
1 c regular oatmeal
1/2 c brown sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 c fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 c butter
1 c milk (room temp)
1 egg

Heat oven to 425*.  Butter muffin cups.  In a bowl combine dry ingredients and blend well.  Toss the cranberries with 1 Tbsp. of dry ingredients and set aside.

Melt butter.  Off heat stir in milk and egg.  Stir butter mixture into dry ingredients and, when well mixed, stir in cranberries.  Put into muffin pan.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned.  Let stand 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Beef Pot Pie

This is a great way to use up leftover roast beef.  The family looks forward to this more than the roast beef sometimes.  I usually don't make gravy, we just weren't a gravy family growing up and so I don't usually make it.  This calls for gravy but I also have a recipe for an improvised gravy that I use to make this.  You need a deep dish pie plate or a casserole dish; I use my favorite pie plate that I got at a potter's near my cousin's in Tallahassee, FL.  You can use more or less potatoes and carrots to your family's taste.

Beef Pot Pie
modified from The Fanny Farmer Cookbook

1 onion, chopped
3 Tbsp butter
1 lb.cooked beef, in bite size pieces
1 1/2 c. gravy, leftover or improvised
4 carrots, cooked and sliced
3 potatoes, cooked, peeled, and diced
1/2 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper
1 pie crust (from refrigerated package or make your own)

Cook the onion in the butter until soft.  Add the beef, gravy, carrots, potatoes, and cinnamon, stirring constantly until bubbling.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Put beef mixture into a deep pie dish or shallow casserole.  Preheat the oven to 425*.  Roll out the pastry (or unroll) and place on top; crimp the edges and cut a small vent on top.  Bake about 20 minutes or until bubbling and top is golden.

Improvised Gravy
from The Fanny Farmer Cookbook

2 Tbsp minced shallots, scallions, or onion
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 c red wine or dry vermouth (optionsl)
1 1/2 c beef broth
leftover drippings or additional tablespoon butter
salt and pepper

Saute the minced onion in the butter until translucent.  Stir in the flour and cooking slowly, stir until it turns light brown.  Remove the pan from the fire, add the wine, if you are using it, and an equal amount of broth.  Stir until smooth, return to the fire, and slowly add the remaining broth, stirring constantly.  Continue to cook, stirring often, for another 5 minutes.  Swirl in leftover drippings or butter, salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tuscan Sausage and Bean Soup

I needed something for the crockpot last night; we were making a trip to the ski slopes and were planning on getting in back just in time to get Rosie Jane to dance.  I wanted dinner to be ready when Sweet Pea and I got home so we could eat as it was going to be late.  This was good, first time we'd tried it.  One thing I need to remember is to add things like Italian sausage close to the end.  For some reason, it looses all it's flavor when it cooks all day.  Not sure if it's just me or what, but fully cooking it then adding at the end works much better.

Tuscan Sausage and Bean Soup
modified from

1 1/4 c dry Great Northern beans
1 3/4 c beef broth
1/2 c chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning, crushed
12 oz fresh Italian sausage links, cut into1/2 inch slices
1 medium yellow summer squash or zuchini, sliced
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/3 c dry red wine or water
1/2 of a 10 oz. package frozed chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
grated Parmesan cheese

Rinse beans.  In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine beans and 4 cups cold water.  Boil uncovered for 10 minutes; drain.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet cook Italian sausage until brown.  Drain well on paper towels.  In a crockpot combine the drained beans, 4 cups fresh water, beef broth, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, undrained tomatoes, and red wine or water.  Cook, covered, on low heat setting for 22-12 hours or until beans are tender.

About 30 minutes before serving add the fully cooked sausage and squash.  Just before serving, stir spinach into soup.  If desired, sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese.

Depending on how hot your crockpot cooks, you may need less time.  I think I dished up our soup after 8 or 9 hours and the beans were fully cooked.  It will depend also on how fresh your dried beans are when you use them.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chocolate Pretzel treats

Why, oh why, did I make these?  They're SO stinking addictive!  Easy, too.

Chocolate Pretzel treats
makes as many as you want!!

waffle pretzels (or I saw some the other day made with Christmas tree pretzels)
chocolate kisses or hugs (just not the ones with almonds)

Spread the pretzels on a cookie sheet.  Top each one with a kiss.  Bake in a 200* oven for about 5 minutes until the kisses are soft.  Take them out and top with an M&M.  Let cool/harden.

This time I used the special dark kisses (didn't even know they had them!).  I also had part of a bag of Christmas red and green M&Ms and thought they were dark chocolate but they were milk chocolate.  Didn't really notice, so you can mix and match your chocolate.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chicken in White Wine

My mom called me looking for this recipe.  It was one she got from a cooking class she took YEARS ago with her friend.  She makes it often for company, which she's having next week, and couldn't find her copy today. I have a copy of a copy that was probably a mimeographed copy in the beginning. I decided that since I found the recipe that I'd better do something about it so in a couple of years I'll still be able to read it. I can't say that I've made it but I do enjoy it when Mom makes it. Maybe I'll make it for a Sunday dinner sometime soon since it's something my family likes.

Chicken in White Wine

4 to 6 chicken breasts
1/4 lb butter
1 c onions, sliced
1/4 lb mushrooms
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 c flour
1/4 tsp thyme leaves
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
1 can chicken broth
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 c sauturn or white wine

Brown chicken in a large dutch oven with fitting lid, adding butter as needed.  Remove chicken; add onions, mushrooms, garlic and brown for 5 minutes.  Remove pan from heat.  Add salt, pepper, flour, and thyme, stirring into onion mixture.  Stir in broth and bouillon; bring to a boil stirring; reduce heat and add wine and chicken.  Bake in oven at 400* for 45 minutes, covered.  Serve with long grain and wild rice.

Can be made up to 2 days ahead for better flavor.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Italian sausage and pasta casserole

I had to come up with a name for this dish since several friends asked for the recipe.  It's one of those dishes that I pulled together from what I had available in the pantry.  It's really an easy riff on my aunt's delicious baked ziti.  It's also one of those dishes that you can expand to easily feed more and one with no real recipe.  Enjoy!

Italian Sausage and Pasta Casserole
serves 6

1 box of pasta (I used rotini, all I had, and actually about 2/3 of the box)
4 Italian sausages
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
Italian seasoning, salt & pepper
shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook the pasta according to the directions (slightly undercooked is better).  Cut the sausages into pieces.  In a large skillet, cook the onions and garlic in oil until just soft; add the sausage and cook thorough.  Add the crushed tomatoes and season with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.  Let simmer for a few minutes.  Mix the cooked pasta and sauce in a 9 x 13 dish.  Add a couple of handfuls of mozzarella cheese and stir.  Top with more mozzarella.  Bake at 350* for 25 minutes or until warm through.

You could also top with Parmesan as well, which I meant to do but forgot.  You can add more or less onion and garlic, more sausage, whatever you need to do to feed your family how they'd like it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas cookies!!

I love this time of year when I can make lots of cookies.  We have plenty of family favorites.  Today I needed cookies for a cookie exchange at MOPS and was planning on making Chocolate Walnut Puffs.  Since it's been pouring out since yesterday making meringue cookies wasn't really a good idea.  Went to plan B which also included chocolate and walnuts and made Chocolate Walnut Jumbos. Both are really good, the Jumbos are chewy chocolate and walnut goodness and the Puffs just melt in your mouth.  Here's both recipes.

Chocolate Walnut Puffs
makes 3 dozen

1 6 oz. package (1 cup) chocolate chips
2 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp vinegar
3/4 c chopped walnuts

Melt chocolate.  Beat egg whites with salt until foamy.  Gradually add sugar, beat until stiff peaks form.  Beat in vanilla and vinegar.  Fold in chocolate and walnuts.  Drop on greased cookie sheets.  Bake at 350* for 10 minutes.  Remove immediately to cooling racks.

Chocolate Walnut Jumbos
makes 30

1/4 c soft butter
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/2 c flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 c coarsely chopped walnuts

Stir butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla together; beat with a spoon until just smooth.  Add chocolate.  Sift dry ingredients and add.  Stir in walnuts.  Drop on greased cookie sheets.  Bake at 350* only 10 minutes.  Should be soft.  Cool on rack.

I doubled the Jumbo recipe today (except the salt, I left that at 1/2 tsp) and it works out fine.  I think you only get 30 cookies if you make really small ones.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cranberry bread

Time to get back to cranberries.  I have a bunch of recipes that I'll try to remember to share using fresh cranberries as well as crasins (have I mentioned that I love the Ocean Spray commercials??).  This is a family tradition in our house, Mom always made this cranberry bread at Christmas time and I now make it as well.  I love the orange and cranberry flavor and I've never seen another cranberry bread recipe like it.  This recipe will give your food processor a workout!  I use it to chop shred the oranges, then chop the cranberries and nuts.  Mom used to hand chop the cranberries, I can't imagine doing that but I would for this bread.

Cranberry Bread
makes 3 large loaves

4 c flour
2 c sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 oranges, quartered, seeded, and grated (leave the peel on)
4 Tbsp butter plus boiling water to = 1 1/2 cups
2 eggs
2 cups chopped walnuts
4 cups coarsely chopped cranberries (fresh or frozen)

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Mix the oranges with the butter/water mixture and add the eggs.  Blend liquid into dry ingredients, stirring only until mixture is dampened.  Add the nuts and cranberries.  Pour into 3 large loaf pans and let sit 20 minutes before baking.  Bake 40-60 minutes at 350*.

The bread is yummy fresh out of the oven with butter or cream cheese.  It's also good the next day, toasted with cream cheese on top.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Chicken with Walnuts

We had this the other night for dinner, it's just been a crazy week and I haven't had a chance to post it yet.  I almost always have chicken in the freezer as well as walnuts so this was pretty easy to throw together.  This is a favorite stir fry of ours.  It gave me a chance to again use a new discovery.  I had wondered about the pre-grated ginger in a tube.  Used it and loved it!  Yes, it's more expensive than buying a piece of gingerroot but it sure is easier and there's probably less waste.

Chicken with Walnuts

3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. dry sherry
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
2 boneless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp. cooking oil
1 c broken walnuts
1 tsp. grated gingerroot
2 medium green peppers, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
4 green onions, bias-sliced into 1 inch pieces
2 c hot cooked rice

For sauce, in a bowl stir together soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch, sugar, and red pepper. Set aside. Rinse chicken and pat dry.  Cut into 1-inch pieces; set aside.

Preheat a wok or large skillet over high heat; add oil.  (Add more as necessary during cooking)  Stir-fry walnuts in hot oil about 1 minute or till lightly toasted.  Remove from wok or skillet.  Add gingerroot; stir-fry for 15 seconds.  Add green peppers and green onions; stir-fry about 3 minutes or till crisp-tender.  Remove vegetables from the wok.

Add the chicken to the wok; stir-fry for 2-3 minutes or till no longer pink.  Push chicken from the center of the wok.  Stir sauce; add to center of wok.  Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly.  Stir in walnuts and vegetables; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes more or til heated through.  Serve with rice.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Taco salad

Couldn't decide what to have for dinner tonight.  I wanted soup, perfect day for it, but didn't have the chance to look up a recipe before we went out to run errands and buy a few groceries.  Ended up deciding on taco salad.  One fatal flaw in my plan is that Target doesn't sell tomatoes (at least I didn't see any) which I figured was ok since I had salsa at home, except that I didn't.  The taco salad really could have used some tomatoes or salsa on it but it was still good.  This is also the recipe I use for taco meat when we have tacos.

Taco Salad
serves 4

For the meat:
 modified from Joy of Cooking
2 Tbsp. veg. oil
1/2 medium red onion, minced (I usually leave this out since I don't have them on hand)
1 lb ground beef
1-3 cloves garlic, minced (I use 3)
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
dash of salt
1 c tomato sauce

Heat the oil in a medium skillet until hot and add the onion.  Cook stirring often until softened.  Add the meat and cook until no longer pink.  Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, and salt.  Cook and stir for 30 seconds then add the tomato sauce.  Cook, stirring occasionally over low heat for 10 minutes.

Rest of the salad:
chopped/shredded lettuce
sliced green onion
1 tomato, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
shredded cheese, cheddar or Monterey Jack
tortilla chips (we used the Tostitos Crispy Rounds)

Layer in a bowl, starting with the chips on the bottom, then lettuce, meat, cheese and the rest of the toppings.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


If pumpkin is my love in the fall, cranberries are my favorite in winter.  I love cranberries in just about any form, except it's "natural state" as my husband calls it...that would be in a cylindrical form with ridges on the side.  Don't really care for cranberries that way, but any other way I love them.  I LOVE the Ocean Spray commercials on tv, they're quite funny.  I was pretty excited to see their cranberry bog in Epcot when we were at Disney earlier this month.

So tonight after I got the stew going for dinner I made a couple of cranberry dishes to take with us for Thanksgiving dinner, first was cranberry-orange relish then a cranberry pie dessert.  I'll have more cranberry recipes to share in coming weeks.

Cranberry-Orange Relish

1 bag of fresh cranberries (can be frozen)
1 seedless navel orange
1/4-1/2 c walnut pieces

Using a food processor, chop the cranberries.  Cut the orange into quarters then chop it and the walnuts.  Mix together in a bowl.  Add sugar to taste.  This is pretty subjective but you want a nice blend of sweet and tart.  Start with about 1/4 c of sugar, mix and let it sit for a few minutes.  Taste and add more sugar if needed.

Cranberry Pie Dessert
In family history, this recipe came to us from my brother's second grade class.  I think they must have made it for their Thanksgiving "dinner" at school.

2 c raw cranberries
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c chopped nuts
2 eggs, beaeten well
1 c sugar
1 c flour
1/2 c butter, melted

Grease a 10" pie pan.  Mix cranberries, 1/2 c sugar, and nuts.  Press into bottom of pan.  Beat eggs with 1 c sugar; add flour and butter.  Beat well and pour over cranberry mix in pan.  Spread it to cover.

Bake at 325* for 60 minutes until golden brown.

The recipe I copied this from says that it freezes well, but I only make one when I need one and there's never any to freeze.  Maybe I should try making two and freezing one?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chili and Beer Bread

I was on the phone catching up with my mom when I realized that I'd better get busy with something for dinner.  Found some ground turkey in the freezer, knew I had beans and diced tomatoes in the pantry, and I had some beer bread mix (Tastefully Simple), sounds like chili with beer bread.  I also found some leftover rice in the fridge so that's going into the mix as well.


1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 small green pepper, diced
1 small can tomato sauce
salt & pepper
1 Tbsp. chili powder

Brown the ground beef, onion, and garlic. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Add more or less chili powder to taste.

Beer Bread

The easy way - use a package of Tastefully Simple beer bread; mix and bake according to package directions.

The not quite as easy, but still pretty easy, way (from Joy of Cooking) -

1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. old fashioned rolled oats
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. light or dark beer (not stout), cold or at room temperature, but not flat

Preheat oven to 400*. Grease loaf pan.  Whisk together in a large bowl all ingredients except the beer.  Add the beer and fold just until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center and all the way to the bottom of the pan comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.  Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5-10 minutes before unmolding to cool completely on the rack.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chicken with cheesy rice and broccoli

Tonight I had to help at church with the senior high youth so I needed a quick dinner.  This meal is a good example of how just a little bit of meat can stretch to feed a family.

Chicken with cheesy rice and broccoli

1 chicken breast (mine was pretty darn big)
1 box of Rice a Roni Broccoli au Gratin
1 cup-ish of broccoli flourets

Cut the chicken into bit sized pieces.  Heat some oil or butter in a skillet and add the chicken.  Cook until browned; add the rice and brown a bit.  Following the directions on the rice box, add water and the seasonings, stir and cook following the directions.  Cook the broccoli in either the microwave or in a pot just until tender.  When the chicken/rice is done, stir in the broccoli and serve.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pot Roast

It's been a busy week, but I've been able to get the dinner on the table in good time most nights since I had a plan.  I had to shift things around a bit because I forgot to get the pot roast out of the freezer in time to make it but it worked just as well the night I did make it.  I had the plan, just forgot the details like taking the meat out of the freezer.  I have two different ways that I make it and I'll post both here.

Pot Roast #1

3-4 lb pot roast
2 medium onions, sliced
1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes
salt & pepper

Put the sliced onions on the bottom of the crockpot and place the meat on top.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour the crushed tomatoes over top.  Cook on low 8 hours.  Serve with noodles on the side and put the tomato/onion on top of everything.

Pot Roast #2

3-4 lb pot roast
4 potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 onion, sliced
1 package of onion soup mix

Put the vegetables on the bottom of the crockpot and put the meat on top.  Dump the soup mix on top and add 1-2 cups of water.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Stuffed Acorn Squash

I haven't made stuffed acorn squash in a long time.  I used to just make it up as I went along - some sausage, maybe chopped apples, onion, bread crumbs.  Always turned out well.  Not sure why I haven't made it since it's something I really like and it really has the feeling of fall to it.  I found this recipe in the same Family Circle where I got the Korean Rice Bowl.  They had 10 recipes for ground beef beyond the burger and so far the ones we've tried have been a hit.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

2 medium acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
4 slices of bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 lb ground beef
1/4 c dark brown sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
2 Tbsp dry bread crumbs

Heat oven to 350*.  Place squash halves cut-side down on a rimmed dish.  Add 2 cups water to dish and bake for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat for 4 minutes.  Add onion and aple.  Cook an additional 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in ground beef.  Cook, breaking meat apart with a wooden spoon, 5 minutes.  Add brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, sage, salt and pepper.  Cook 1 minute.  Remove from heat and stir in bread crumbs.

Drain water from baking dish and flip over squash.  Spoon meat mixture into squash halves.  Return to oven and bake at 350* for 20 minutes.  Serve warm.

I made the meat filling ahead of time, except for adding the bread crumbs.  When I was ready to fix dinner, I cooked the squash as directed, added the bread crumbs to the meat mixture, and continued on.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Grilled Lamb Chops with Shiraz Reduction

I'm going to post this recipe while I can still find it.  While at Disney last week, we were there during the Epcot Food & Wine Fest.  One night we snacked our way around the world, with stops in Singapore, South Africa, Mexico, and Australia.  Probably the best thing we had was the lamb chops from Australia.  The chops were so yummy, seasoned really nicely, grilled to perfection and the sauce was very tasty.  Epcot has a handful of the recipes from the Festival online and that's where I found this one.  So before the paper I printed it out on gets lost, here it is.  It's already been requested for Easter dinner!

Grilled Lamb Chops with Shiraz Reduction

For the Lamb Chops:
3/4 c olive oil
1 Tbsp. lime zest
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic
1/4 c finely chopped mint
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt
8 Australian lamb chops

For the Shiraz reduction:
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 c thinly sliced onions
1 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic
Coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 c Shiraz wine

Combine olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, garlic, mint, pepper, and salt in a shallow dish large enough to place the lamb chops in one layer.  Coat both sides of the chops in the marinade and leave for 2 hours at room temperature, or up to 24 hours refrigerated.

For the sauce, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic and saute for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in wine and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for at least 1 hour, or until mixture thickens and reduces to approximately 1 cup.  The glaze should be the consistency of syrup.

Grill the chops for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until desired doneness.  Serve 2 chops per person with Shiraz sauce.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chili-Mac Soup

Just getting back from vacation, I had no plan for dinner, no groceries really either so today I spent a bit of time menu planning for the next few days and getting my grocery list ready.  I also quickly flipped through a few of the blogs that I follow and that's where I found this recipe.  I had been thinking about chili for tonight so this Chili-Mac Soup sounded perfect!

Chili-Mac Soup
modified from Kathie Cooks

1 lb. ground beef
1/4 c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can black beans, drained
1 can sweet corn, drained
3 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can tomato soup (I used Campbell's condensed)
1 can chopped green chili
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 carton beef broth
1/2 box of macaroni, cooked and drained
Toppings:  shredded cheddar cheese, Fritos

Cook the macaroni according to the package and drain.  In a skillet brown the ground beef with the onion and garlic.  When both of these are done, put everything into a large soup pot, stir and cook to boiling.  Top each serving with some shredded cheddar cheese and Fritos.


We just got back last night from an awesome five days in Disney, which means that I haven't cooked in many days and we had lots of eating out.  We stayed at the All Star Sports Resort, a first for us; usually we stay at the Fort Wilderness Campground.  I have to say, we really enjoyed the food at the resort; it was tasty, had enough of a variety to please all of us, and was freshly made.  I had salmon there twice for dinner, really good.  Sweet Pea and Bob both had salads one night; they were individually tossed for them and topped with some really good steak.  For breakfast, Sweet Pea and I both enjoyed the Western Omelet with home fries (twice!) and Rosie Jane had Mickey waffles with strawberry topping.

We also ate a lot in the parks.  I think Bob's favorite was the rib lunch he got in Animal Kingdom.  We also had our share of cheeseburgers which were mostly good.  The best (I think) were the ones in Hollywood Studios with onion straws underneath. One thing I was disappointed about was not getting to the Backlot Express before they closed.  They have a really good Southwest Salad that I wanted to get.  I had it the last time we were there and was disappointed to have missed out this time.  Instead we went to the ABC Commissary and I got the fish and chips there (they were fine, but would have liked the salad better).

We had the quick serve meal plan and made full use of it.  We each had two quick serve meals plus two snacks each day.  We usually ate lunch and dinner in the parks (or dinner a couple of times at the hotel where we had come back to rest before heading out again for the evening).  For snacks, we sometimes got water bottles but we also enjoyed the Mickey ice cream bars, frozen bananas, and lots of popcorn.  A couple of days we used our snack allotment and got bagels or muffins for breakfast. 

Probably the best use of our snacks was at Epcot.  We were there during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.  Yummy!!  We stopped at several countries booths to taste some different food.  Bob got something at the Singapore booth that sounded good (and smelled good) but was too spicy for him.  I thought it was good.  Then Rosie Jane got some steak over sweet potatoes from South Africa.  Awesome!  The steak was tender on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes.  Wandered some more, smelled awesome things as we walked by South Korea (a long line there), made a quick stop in Mexico to try the shrimp tacos and flan. The taco was great, I wasn't a big fan of the flan but Bob and Rosie Jane liked it. Then we made our way to Australia.  Got some REALLY tasty lamb chops there.  It was on a bed of red potato salad with a shiraz reduction sauce.  I got a glass of Greg Norman's shiraz to go with the lamb.  After that we split up and Sweet Pea decided that she was hungry after all and so I got in line to get her some lamb and I just had to try the shrimp on the barbie (tasty with a spicy berry sauce).  I need to go to the Food and Wine Festival's website to find the recipe for the lamb chops; it's been requested for Easter dinner.

All in all, we had a great time at Disney and had some really good food but I'm glad to be home.  Even using the quick serve dining plan with no sit down meals, I still feel like there was an abundance of food.  I'll be glad to get back to more normal food portions.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bubble and Squeak

No, I'm not writing about bubble baths or dog toys.  Bubble and squeak is a British dish that I found a while back that uses cabbage and potatoes.  It's a simple, tasty dish.

Bubble and Squeak
serves 4

5-6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
1/2 small head of cabbage, sliced, then cut crossways (you'll end up with squares)

Put the cabbage and potatoes into a pot and cover with water.  Boil until potatoes are tender.  Drain.  Heat a cast iron skillet and melt some butter in it.  Add the potatoes and cabbage.  Lightly mash the mixture and cook until lightly browned.  Season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Three Bean Chili

This is a dish I found on the internet when Rosie Jane was a vegetarian.  That lasted for several months before she decided to eat meat again.  She's always tended to eat less meat than the rest of us so it wasn't a surprise that she tried this and I wouldn't be surprised if she did it again.  I blame this stint squarely on the shoulders of Mike Rowe and Dirty Jobs.  Rosie Jane watched the episode where he went to a small butcher and butchered a cow.  Totally turned her off from eating meat for months.

Three Bean Chili

1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can Great Northern or cannelini beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 c frozen corn (optional)
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. black pepper
salt to taste
hot sauce to taste

Add all ingredients to a large saucepan or Dutch oven.  Bring up to a simmer, cook covered for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sausage, Apple, Sweet Potato

This is a casserole dish we had growing up.  Easy, almost dump and cook easy but not quite.  The only issue we have is that Sweet Pea doesn't like sweet potatoes. :(  That means that I don't make it nearly often enough to suit Rosie Jane.  I try to make it if Sweet Pea is eating elsewhere or is gone for some reason.  Tonight we're having this and Sweet Pea is going to have baked potatoes.

Sausage, Apple, Sweet Potato
serves 4-5

1 12oz. roll of breakfast sausage (I use Jimmy Dean low fat)
1 40 oz. can sweet potatoes/yams
apples - if you can find it, a 14 or 15 oz can of sliced apples; I can't find those anymore so I used 4-5 small apples thickly sliced
brown sugar

Cook the sausage through.  Put it into a casserole dish along with the mostly drained sweet potatoes and (drained) apples.  Gently mix.  Top with a sprinkling of brown sugar.  Bake at 325* for 25-20 minutes or until heated through.

This can also be cooked in the crockpot.  I've mixed everything in, topped with the brown sugar, then cooked on low for about 3-4 hours.  Makes it easy for when you have time earlier and need to be out right before dinner.  You don't want to cook it too long in the crockpot.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday dinner

We usually try to have Sunday dinner sometime early afternoon.  Bob and the girls head back to church mid-afternoon for youth group. Depending on what they're doing and how much they chat after youth, they get home at a different time each week so it doesn't really work to have a family dinner later.  It's always a meal we sit down to together, sometimes "fancy," sometimes not.  Supper on Sunday nights is get what you can - leftovers, cereal, sandwiches, anything I don't have to fix for you.

Today's dinner was easy, but nice.  I was thinking of grilling but Rosie Jane didn't want her pork chops grilled plus she said it would take too long for the grill to be ready (true).  I did make her eat outside on the deck since it's a lovely day.  We had boneless pork chops (seasoned with salt, pepper, and sage, cooked in the cast iron skillet), red potatoes, and Brussels sprouts fresh from the farmer's market.  For the Brussels sprouts, I cleaned them, cut them in half, and put them in a shallow roasting pan.  Drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, and chopped/minced garlic; gave it all a toss and cooked at 425* for about 20 min.  When they were done I put them in a serving dish, gave them another light drizzle of olive oil and some balsamic vinegar, another toss and served.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cowboy Spaghetti

Another favorite of ours.  This one is good for those chilly fall days like it was today or for when you have a group of friends over to watch a football game.  This is a Rachael Ray recipe and it really does only take 30 minutes.

Cowboy Spaghetti
serves 8

1 lb spaghetti
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 slices of smoky bacon, chopped
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp hot sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c beer
1 can chopped fire-roasted tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
8 oz sharp Cheddar, shredded
4 scallions, chopped

Cook spaghetti according to directions.

Meanwhile, heat a deep skillet over med-high heat. Add olive oil then bacon. Brown and crisp bacon 5 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel. Drain off excess fat from the pan if necessary. Add beef and brown. Add onion and garlic and stir. Season meat with salt, pepper, hot sauce, and Worcestershire. Add beer and deglaze pan. Cook 5-6 minutes more then stir in tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Cook another minute or two.

Add hot spaghetti to meat and combine.  Garnish with cheese, scallions, and bacon.

I don't have a pan large enough to hold the sauce and spaghetti.  I do have a large pasta bowl.  I put in the pasta when it's cooked, add the sauce when it's done and gently toss/stir.

Ice cream cake

Sweet Pea and I were talking about her birthday this morning, trying to figure out when she was going to have her party.  The day she usually does it, she'll be busy.  It's so hard to plan birthday parties when you have a birthday near Thanksgiving.  Talking about her party reminded me that she always asks for ice cream cake for her party.  My friend Wendy gave me this recipe years ago that we've used ever since for Sweet Pea's birthday parties.  The really nice thing about it is that you can get the ice cream flavors that you want and it's super easy to make.

Ice Cream Cake
makes a 9x13 cake

1 package of Oreos (or similar sandwich cookie)
2 gallons of ice cream, softened; can be the same flavor or different
frosting (optional)

Put half of the cookies into a ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin.  Spread them in the bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Scoop the first flavor of ice cream on top, smoothing it.  Crush the rest of the cookies and spread them on top of the ice cream.  Scoop the second flavor of ice cream, smoothing the top.  You may not use all the ice cream, it depends on how deep your pan is, when you put down the first layer of ice cream make sure to leave enough room for the second layer.  If you want you can frost and decorate the cake (I usually don't).  Cover the cake with tinfoil and put it in the freezer until hard.  Take it out 15-30 minutes before you want to serve it to soften up enough to cut into slices.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Turkey loaf

Turkey loaf, you say?  Yes, and I make it much more often than meatloaf.  It's similar but different. I think I've only made meatloaf once or twice and I had to call my mom to find out how.  I just like turkey loaf better.  Tonight I'm going to try turkey loaf muffins.  Rosie Jane said that a friend from church was talking about his mom's meatloaf muffins last week and she wanted to try them.  So I'll make the turkey loaf and cook it in my muffin pan and see how it goes.  We're going to "frost" them with mashed potatoes and sprinkle peas on top, asparagus on the side.  It's a perfect day for a dish like this.

Turkey Loaf

1 pkg ground turkey (the ones I get are 20.8oz)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 egg
1/4 c bread crumbs
1/2 c mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything together.  Cook in a loaf pan or 8x8 size pan at 350* for about 45 minutes.  Or chill and make into patties, roll in bread crumbs and broil.

This made 12 muffins if you want to try that.  Cook at 350* for 25-30 minutes.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Another hit and miss night

Last night was very much in the hit and miss category.  Sweet Pea and I really liked the baked potatoes, Bob and Rosie Jane not so much.  None of us liked the apple pie very much and I had such high hopes for it!  So to save myself lots of typing today I'm linking to the baked potato recipe.  Now somehow I missed the part where it says "sweet potato!"  Not sure how I did that but I did.  The toppings still tasted great on regular baking potatoes.  The recipe is from the Eighty Twenty blog, recipes that are good for you 80% of the time and then there's the other 20%, still good but not so good for you.  I've found several things that I like there and the writer is a nutritionist so she knows what she's talking about.  Here's the link to the Gourmet Broccoli and Baked Spud.

So that was the hit (at least with some of us).  The miss was the apple, cheddar, and maple pie that I was really looking forward to having.  It sounded so good but it was pretty much a total miss.  It wasn't bad, just not nearly as good as we were thinking it was going to be.  The problem was with the cheese, it just didn't work well.  It ended up being clumpy, not melted and tasty.  So we'll head back to the plain apple pies.  I'll probably make one this weekend to make up for the miss last night.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pumpkin scones

This past weekend, the MOPS* group that I belong to was having a bake sale at church. I immediately signed up for scones or cookies.  I was hoping to find a good scone recipe; who doesn't love a good scone and cup of tea?  It's getting to be that time of year when tea sounds good in the afternoon.  Anyway, I found two recipes, one for pumpkin scones and one for cranberry scones.  I think the cranberry one needs a bit of tweaking before I post it but both were really good and sold well at the bake sale.

Pumpkin Scones
from Joy of Baking

2 c flour
1/3 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 c raisins
1/4 c toasted and chopped pecans or walnuts
1/3 - 1/2 c buttermilk
1/2 c pumpkin
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Egg wash: 1 large egg and 1 Tbsp. milk or cream

Preheat oven to 400*. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives.  The mixture shoudl look like coarse crumbs.  Stir in the raisins and pecans, if using.  In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, pumpkin puree, and vanilla and then add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture.  Mix just until the dough comes together.  Do not over mix the dough.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead dough gently four or five times and then pat the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches round and about 1 1/2 inches thick.  Cut this circle in half, then cut each half into 4 pie-shaped wedges.  Place the scones on the baking sheet.  Brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool

*MOPS = Mothers of Preschoolers; no, I don't have preschoolers but they asked me to be a mentor mom to a group of moms.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I very rarely make brownies from a box these days.  I have a recipe from a cookbook that I usually use that makes brownies that are fine, nothing special.  These taste just like Betty Crocker brownies and I'm not sure why I don't make them more often (except that I'd eat too many of them!!).  I don't remember where I got this recipe from, I think someone on the Sonlight forums a while back.


Mix together:  1 2/3 c sugar, 1 1/2 sticks butter, melted, and 2 Tbsp water

Add:  2 eggs, beaten and 2 tsp vanilla

Mix separately: 1 1/3 c flour, 3/4 c cocoa, 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt

Mix the wet and dry together.  Add around 1 c chocolate chips or walnuts (if you want them).  Pour into a greased 13x9 dish.  Bake at 350* for 18-25 minutes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pizza Soup

Found the pizza soup recipe and this is a perfect day for it, cool and rainy, plus it's a day we're all going to be eating dinner at different times.  We'll have this for dinner with some garlic bread.  I don't remember where I found this one, somewhere on the web.  Sweet Pea loves a soup Campbell's makes (we can't find it anymore so I'm not sure if they still make it or not) that has sausage, pepperoni, pasta, and a tomato broth base and this is pretty much it.  Super easy since it's a crockpot meal.

Pizza Soup

1 (14 oz) jar pizza sauce
3 empty jars full of water
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 c sliced mushrooms
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
2-3 Italian sausages, cooked
1 c sliced pepperoni, cut into quarters
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 1/2 Tbsp dried)
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1/2 to 1/3 c dried pasts (if your pasta is tiny, use 1/3 cup, if it's big, use 1/2)
shredded mozzarella cheese

Use a 5 or 6 quart crockpot. Put the veggies into the crockpot.  Add the basil and oregano.  Pour in the pizza sauce and follow with three empty jars of water.  Cover and cook on low 7 hours.  About 30 minutes before serving add the sausage (cut into small pieces, half moons are good), pepperoni and pasta.  Turn the crockpot to high and cook until the pasta is cooked and the sausage is warm.  Garnish with shredded mozzarella cheese when serving.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mac & Cheese Soup

Mac and cheese soup, you say?  Yes, and it's yummy good on a cold day.  I was looking for my pizza soup recipe so I can make it tomorrow and found this one instead.  The girls and I love it, Bob not so much as he doesn't really like cream based soups so I usually make it when he's not home for dinner.  We found this in an NFL cookbook at the library (of course, my sports loving daughter had to check it out!).

Mac and Cheese Soup
serves 8

10 slices thick-cut bacon
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 c flour
14-oz. vegetable broth
3 c whole milk
1 Tbsp chili powder
1tsp black pepper
1 tsp dry mustard
4 c shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 c dried elbow macaroni, cooked
chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Cut the bacon strips into quarters. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp.  Remove it to paper towels to drain.  Add a little oil to the pan if needed, then add the onion.  Cook the onion for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and continue cooking until the onion is soft and lightly browned, about another 5 minutes.  Add the flour and mix well.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Add the broth and bring to a simmer, stirring often.  Ad the milk, chili powder, pepper, and mustard.  Return the soup to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  Cook for 3 minutes.  Add the cheese and continue cooking and stirring until well blended, about 4 minutes.  Add the macaroni and bacon and return to a simmer.  Remove from the heat and serve, sprinkling with parsley.

You could also leave out the bacon, chop it a bit more and sprinkle it on top of each bowl.

Edited 12/15/12: After making this a few times, we usually leave the bacon out of the soup and sprinkle it on top. If you add it in, it tends to get soft, especially if you don't eat all the soup at one time and have leftovers. We really enjoy having the crunch of the bacon as a garnish.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Apple Butter

I love apple butter!  I usually get it when I visit my dad and we go to Central Market in Lancaster, PA, good Amish made stuff. Since we don't get up there nearly often enough and I had a bunch of apples around, I thought I'd try making my own.  Wow, easy and it turned out really good.  It's dark, spicy, flavorful; tastes great on toast or a sandwich with cream cheese.  I found the basic recipe at Pick Your Own and mostly followed it.  You need lots of apple sauce, preferrable homemade, a few spices, a crockpot and time.  That's about it!

Once you've got the apple butter made you'll either need to put it in jelly jars and freeze it or into jelly or quart jars and can it (process it in a hot water bath).  Just be prepared for lots of apple butter and have plenty of jars ready.

Apple Butter

9 quarts of applesauce
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. allspice
4 c. sugar (probably less)

Fill your crockpot to within about 1" of the top with applesauce (you won't use all of it now).  Add the spices and 2 cups of the sugar, stir well.  Turn the crockpot to low and put on the cover, but leave open.  This is one dish you don't want the lid on tight.  I used two chopsticks propped across the top then set the lid on that.  It may spatter so you want the lid on some but leave it open so the water will evaporate.  It will need to cook 8-18 hours, depending on how thick you like it and how your crockpot cooks.  You can give it a stir a few times if you want.  I cooked mine probably close to 18 hours total, started it late in the afternoon and let it cook all night.  In the morning check it; it should have cooked down quite a bit.  Add the rest of the applesauce and 1 cup of sugar.  Let it cook down a few more hours to blend the flavors.  Give it a taste and add the extra cup of sugar if you feel it needs it.  It totally depends on your taste and the type of apples in your applesauce.

At this point your apple butter is done and ready to can/freeze.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Finally . . . good Boston Baked Beans!!

My wonderful husband is from New England which means that one of his staple foods growing up was baked beans.  His favorite is B&M Baked Beans, which I do enjoy as well, but I've been looking for a good homemade baked bean recipe.  Now I've got the one for baked beans with hamburger, bacon, chickpeas, and all that other good stuff, but that's really just fancied up baked beans, not plain Boston baked beans.  I've tried several recipes but the beans are always bland and not really the right color.  You start with navy beans; which are white, don't ask me why they're "navy" beans; add a bunch of stuff and cook.  In the past, my beans have ended up still white or maybe a little tan.  Baked beans are supposed to be a nice, deep brown color.  Finally we have achieved bean nirvana!  The beans I made this weekend had a nice brown color and good flavor; the bacon and onions just melted into the beans.  Yum!  Best part is that my New England hubby really liked them.

Boston Baked Beans
adapted from

2 1/2 c. navy beans (1 package)
1/2 pound bacon, diced
1 onion, finely diced
1/3 c molasses
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard (I usually add more)
2/3 c ketchup
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 c brown sugar

Soak the beans overnight in cold water to cover.  Simmer the beans in the same water until tender, approx. 1 to 2 hours.  Drain and reserve the liquid.

Preheat oven to 325*.  Put the beans in a 2 quart bean pot or casserole dish with the onion and bacon; stir to mix.  In a saucepan, combine molasses, salt, pepper, dry mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar.  Bring the mixture to a boil and pour over the beans.  Pour in just enough of the reserved bean water to cover the beans.  Cover the dish with a lid or aluminum foil.

Bake for 3 to 4 hours in the preheated oven, until beans are tender.  Stir a couple of times during baking and add more liquid as necessary so the beans don't dry out.  Take the lid off for the last 30 min.

These could also be done in a crockpot.  Not having done it I'm just guessing but you'd probably want to cook them all day on low or 3-4 hours on high.  I've got a nice traditional bean pot so that's how I make them.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Korean Rice Bowl

This was a pretty easy, quick dinner the other night.  Sweet Pea and I really enjoyed it so I'll probably make it for lunch again sometime when Bob isn't home or for dinner one night when he's not going to be home.

Korean Rice Bowl, 4 servings
from Family Circle

1 1/2 c sushi rice
1/4 c rice vinegar
3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp peeled, minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp chili-garlic sauce (such as Sriracha)
1 zucchini, cut into matchsticks
2 c shiitake mushroom caps, thinly sliced
1 c shredded carrot
1 lb ground beef
4 large eggs (optional)

Prepare rice: combine 2 cups of water and rice in a medium, lidded saucepan.  Bring to a soft boil.  Cover and simmer over medium-low heat, 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, blend rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, cornstarch, sesame oil, and chili-garlic sauce.  Set aside.

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray.  Add vegetables and 3 Tbsp water.  Cook over medium-high heat for 4 minutes or until just softened.  Remove to a bowl and keep warm.

Crumble beef into same skillet.  Cook 5 minutes, breaking apart with a spoon.  Add sauce mixture and cook 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a second skillet fry eggs, if using: coat skillet with nonstick spray; heat over medium to medium-high heat.  Crack 2 eggs into the skillet.  Cook 1 minute, then flip.  Cook 1 more minute.  Transfer to a plate.  Repeat with remaining 2 eggs.  Place a mound of rice into 4 bowls.  Top each with 1/2 cup meat mixture and 1/3 cup vegetables.  Finish each with a fried egg, if using.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Hit or Miss, Mostly Miss

So the last couple of days of trying some new recipes were rather hit or miss.  The Korean Rice Bowl was a hit with Sweet Pea and I, Rosie Jane said it was not bad (hopefully that means she'll eat it again) and of course Bob thought it was too spicy.  I think I'll make it again, but for lunch when Bob's not here.  That recipe came from Family Circle magazine in an article about 10 things to do with ground beef.  I'll be trying a few of the others as well soon.  We also tried breakfast burritos from one of Ellie Kreiger's cookbooks.  Again, Sweet Pea and I thought they were really good and filling, something to make again, Rosie Jane took a pass that morning, and Bob...too spicy (he doesn't do salsa, even the mild kind).

Yesterday since we were going to be gone all day and come home needing a quick dinner before having to head out to drop Rosie Jane at dance, I had dinner cooking in the crockpot.  I found a recipe on Better Homes & Gardens website and thought I'd try it; worked out even better since Giant had the country ribs that I needed on sale.  I think this one was pretty much a bust on all sides.  It was Ale-Sauced Pork Ribs and Vegetables.  I didn't think the "sauce" turned out very well, it really lacked flavor, but I thought the ribs and veggies were fine.  Sweet Pea and Bob wanted BBQ sauce on the ribs, Rosie Jane doesn't really like veggies cooked in the crockpot with other stuff (now she tells me!).  The dog did enjoy her portion, I gave her what Rosie Jane had left on her plate.

I'll post the Korean Rice Bowl recipe later, it's one I don't want to lose.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Spanish rice

This is one of those comfort foods, at it a lot growing up foods.  I'm sure it's not terribly "Spanish" as we think of it, but that's what we called it.  It's good, simple, and pretty quick to pull together.  After the main recipe, I'll put the healthier version that I usually make and some other optional add-ins (that Mom would roll her eyes at but we enjoy them).  I usually serve this with biscuits.

Spanish Rice
serves 4-5

1 lb. hamburger
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup-ish rice
salt and pepper

Put the hamburger, onion, and green pepper into a large pot and cook until until the meat is browned.  Add the tomatoes, rice, and a little less water per the rice directions (you'll have liquid from the tomatoes so you won't need all the water called for in cooking the rice).  Cook until the rice is done; salt and pepper to taste.
*you can add more or less of any of the ingredients to suit your taste

Healthier take on Spanish rice - I will more often use ground turkey instead of hamburger and brown rice for white.  Using turkey and brown rice gives it a more earthy flavor, one which I really like.

Stuff I add in - I usually throw in a clove or two of garlic, sometimes frozen corn, a can of drained and rinsed black beans, a few dashes of hot sauce.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mexican Pizza

I'm sure there are lots of variations on this but Mexican pizza was on the menu for lunch today.  I had some pizza dough in the freezer which I pulled out last night.  I thought it was regular dough but nope, it was cornmeal dough.  No problem, we always seem to have shredded cheddar around and salsa so Mexican pizza it was.  Easy as pie!  Now that I think about it, I think the dough was leftover from making Taco Pizzas one night.  I'll have to find that recipe and post it as well.

Mexican Pizza

cornmeal pizza dough
salsa (spicy or not, your choice)
shredded cheddar
black beans, about 1/2 can

Preheat the oven to 425* and roll out the pizza dough.  I use a pizza stone for our pizzas.  Bake the crust about 10 minutes.  Pull it out and top with salsa, the black beans, and a couple of good handfuls of cheese.  Bake about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

And good news!  I found the recipe for the Cheddar, Maple, and Apple Pie I mentioned.  Very excited!  We'll be trying it out this weekend since it's supposed to be nice and fall like and will let you know how we like it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dinner and a movie

So the gang's still gone and it was just me at home again for dinner tonight.  I passed on the shrimp I mentioned yesterday since I found a pork chop in the freezer.  Why there was only one pork chop, I have no idea, but I pulled it out this morning.  I was thinking of doing the pork chop with apples, but didn't have any cider (I have a great recipe for pork chops with apples in a cider sauce).  It was a pretty simple dinner.  Since I still wanted apples I made a Waldorf salad (alas, no celery), cooked the pork chop with salt and pepper in the cast iron skillet in olive oil and butter, and sliced zucchini and cooked that up with salt and pepper.  Very good.  I'm going to use the leftover zucchini tomorrow morning in an omelet.

Since I was by myself again I decided to watch a movie and pulled out Julie and Julia.  Sweet Pea took me out to see it for my birthday when it was in the theaters a couple of years ago and we really enjoyed it.  I have a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I'm sure from one of the first printings.  My grandmother had a large collection of cookbooks and I got quite a few from her collection, including this one.  One of the ways I take after her is my large cookbook collection.

After we saw the movie, Sweet Pea and I decided to make the Boeuf Bourgonine (perhaps I should go find out how to spell that!).  We followed Julia's recipe and it turned out really good.  Now that it's finally getting cooler again, perhaps we'll pull that recipe out to make again.  Hm, I'll have to add that to our menu plan in a few weeks. Sounds like a good Saturday night dinner when we have time to make it, and time to enjoy eating it.

Bon Appetite!

Friday, September 23, 2011

On my own

Tonight is one of those dinners that I love.  My family is gone for the weekend to a huge Christian concert/festival and won't be back until Sunday afternoon.  That means that I've got two dinners on my own and it always means that I fix things that I love that no one else likes.  So on tonight's menu is salmon, potatoes, and maybe spinach.  I'll probably bake the salmon, maybe put on some teriyaki sauce.  The potatoes will be cut into chunky fries and baked; the spinach is just frozen spinach, dolled up with a bit of butter, pepper, and shredded Parm cheese.  Not sure what I'll do tomorrow night, maybe I'll head to the grocery store and get some shrimp.  I do enjoy the occasional quiet house so that I can cook things that I normally wouldn't fix.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Corned beef (a two-fer)

One of our favorite dinners easily becomes one of our favorite breakfasts, if there's enough leftovers. Bob called this a boiled dinner, Rosie Jane for a long time was asking for dinner in the crockpot meaning this (although I cook many other things in the crockpot).  We all enjoy corned beef, potatoes, carrots, and cabbage.  It's an easy fix in the morning, cooks all day in the crockpot, and is ready to enjoy at dinner time.

Corned Beef (dinner)

corned beef
4-5 potatoes, cut into chunks
3-4 carrots, cut into chunks
1 onion, quartered (I don't always put this in)
1 small cabbage, cut into quarters or eighths

Put the veggies on the bottom of your crockpot then put the meat on top.  If there's a seasoning packet add it as well.  Add about 2 cups of water.  Cook on low for about 8 hours or high for 4.  Take out the meat and veggies and keep warm; add the cabbage to the crockpot and cook on high for 30 minutes.

If there's leftovers, they can become:

Corned Beef Hash (breakfast)

the leftover corned beef, potatoes, and onion

Cut all into dice, roughly the same size.  I don't usually use the leftover carrots in this and if I didn't have onion in the original dish I'll dice some extra for this.  Using a skillet (cast iron is best), melt some butter in it and add the diced leftovers.  Cook until it becomes crispy and browned, stirring occasionally.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  You may not need much salt at all as the corned beef is kind of salty to begin with.

We don't always have enough leftover corned beef for this, we all love it and eat it at dinner.  I don't usually find a large enough one so that we have leftovers.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Apple Cake

Just for the record, I'm getting a little tired of sweet apple things.  I'm going to have to find some savory dishes, like pork chops and apples. 

I made this the other night, it's yummy and easy.  It could either be a dessert cake, good after dinner or with tea in the afternoon, or coffee cake in the morning for breakfast.  I got the recipe from my mom.

Apple Cake

1 3/4 c. sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 c. oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
4 c. chopped apples
1 c. chopped walnuts

Beat sugar and eggs together.  Add oil and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients and combine with creamed mixture.  Add nuts and apples.  Sprinkle with the topping: 1/2 c. brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. butter, and 2 Tbsp. flour, mix until crumbly.

Bake at 375* for 45 minutes.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Easy summer to fall meal

We had an easy dinner today; it being Sunday it was at lunchtime but it was dinner.  Later it'll be "get whatever you can find" to eat for supper, cereal or soup or sandwiches.  This was a season transition meal as well.  We had grilled flank steak, mashed potatoes, and spinach.  This meal was about as easy as can be.  For the flank steak, I marinated it in McCormick's Meat Marinade, then cooked it on the grill to medium-rare.  Slice flank steak against the grain.  Sweet Pea peeled and diced the potatoes and got them started while I was working on the meat.  When done, the potatoes were mashed with milk and butter, a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  The spinach was frozen, chopped spinach, cooked in the microwave with a little butter and shredded Parmesan cheese.  I'm making apple something for dessert, maybe apple cake, if I can find the recipe.  It's one from Mom so I know it's around here somewhere.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Apple, maple, and cheddar pie

This is exactly why I started this blog.  I saw a great recipe for apple pie with a touch of maple syrup and cheddar cheese.  Sounded delish and we've got a bunch of apples still to go through.  Now I can't find the recipe.  I could swear that it's in one of my fall magazines, especially since I've already gone through the three new cookbooks that I got recently and didn't find it there.  I guess I'll keep looking until I find it.

In the mean time, I've made several apple crisps, Sweet Pea made a couple of apple pies yesterday, the apple butter is done (and good), but like I said, we've still got a bunch of apples to take care of tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Spaghetti Carbonnara

I'm sure there's a bazillion versions of this Italian dish out there.  Bob's roommate from way back when made an awesome version of this and I've never been able to replicate it nearly as good.  This is one my family likes a lot (it's got bacon!) and since it's quick and easy we eat it often.  It's a dish that I almost always have the ingredients on hand.  I found this version in the Better Homes & Garden Plaid Cookbook.

Spaghetti Carbonnara
modified from BH&G Plaid Cookbook
serves 4

this is one of those technical recipes with lots of exact measurements :)

3 or 4 handfuls of spaghetti, enough for 4 servings
an egg
some milk
grated Parmesan (in the green can is fine)
6 pieces of bacon, cooked to crispy and broken into small pieces

Cook the spaghetti according to the package.  When it's done, drain and put it back in the pot.  Whisk the egg and some milk together (maybe about 1/4 c).  Add about 1 Tbsp of butter to the spaghetti and turn the heat back on low.  When the butter is melted and coats the spaghetti, add the milk/egg.  When it's cooked add a couple of good shakes of Parm and the bacon bits.  Stir to mix in the cheese and bacon.  Enjoy!

I'm also working on some apple butter now to use up more of our apples.  If it works out well, I'll have a report tomorrow along with a recipe.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Apple time!

We've still got plenty of apples around.  Sweet Pea is making another apple crisp and hopefully there will be enough leftover for breakfast.  Tonight we're going to have it with ice cream.  The applesauce I made last week was good, if a bit thick.  I may make more and turn it into apple butter.  I need to find a good recipe for that.  We've got lots of apples to get through and do something with before they go bad.  This morning was another breakfast favorite, an apple pancake.

Apple Pancake
from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham ("Fannie Farmer")

6 Tbsp butter
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
about 5 Tbsp confectioners' sugar (depending on the sweetness of the apples)
3 eggs, room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c flour
1/2 c milk

Preheat the oven to 425*.
Melt the butter in a 10-in oven-proof skillet or shallow pan and take off the heat.  Remove 2 Tbsp melted butter and set aside in a small bowl.

Put the apple slices in a large bowl with the lemon juice.  Stir the cinnamon into the sugar and sprinkle the sugar mixture over the apple slices.  Toss to mix.  Put the skillet back on the burner and turn the heat to medium.  Add the apples and cook, stirring often, for about 3 or 4 minutes, or until the apples are tender but still hold thier shape.

In a separate bowl (or blender or food processor), combine the eggs, salt, flour, milk, and the 2Tbsp melted butter.  Beat until smooth.  Spread the apples evenly over the bottom of the skillet and pour the batter on top.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden and puffy.  Turn immediately onto a warm platter so the apples are on top.  Dust with a little confectioners' sugar and serve at once.

I make this in my cast iron skillet and it works great except for the turning out.  I just cut it into four pieces, dust with the confectioners' sugar and serve.

Something a little different

Thought I'd do something a little different today.  Our anniversary was on Friday (9/9) and Bob and I went to Williamsburg, VA for the weekend.  Our anniversary dinner was certainly nothing to write home about (McDonald's on the road) but the rest of the weekend was great to awesome so I thought I'd do some restaurant reviews.

Lunch at The Cheese Shop - on Duke of Gloucester Street  They carry high end food stuffs and cheeses but at the back of the shop they sell sandwiches, chips, and drinks.  The sandwiches are awesome!  We stop there every time we're down there for lunch.  I usually get either roast beef, provolone on rye or Virginia ham, cheddar on French bread.  They make a great house dressing.  You can buy the house dressing to take home along with bread ends.  The girls always get grilled cheese, which looks good.

We had breakfast twice and lunch once at Aromas. The breakfasts were really good.  I had a garden veggie quiche and fruit one morning and a Southwest omelet the next.  Both were really good, the omelet had chicken, black beans, cheddar cheese in the omelet and salsa on top.  Bob had the scrambled egg breakfast both days, scrambled eggs, hash browns, toast (a really good multi-grain thick sliced toast), and bacon one day, sausage the next.  We stopped by yesterday for lunch.  Bob had the BLT and I had a huge sesame chicken salad.

Probably the best meal we had there was at The Trellis.  It's pretty upscale, but perfect for an anniversary dinner.  The dress was casual (there were people there in shorts) but nice. We started with a garden greens salad (greens with parm cheese and a vinaigrette dressing).  Bob had a duck dish which he said was really good.  I had planked salmon with green beans and fingerling potatoes.  For dessert I had key lime pie and Bob had a chocolate tart with caramel something.  I didn't taste his tart, but my pie was delicious.  Instead of being a pie, it was made in a small rectangular tart pan.  It was then thinly sliced across the short way.  My plate had 3 slices with some graham cracker crumbs across the top and a raspberry sauce on the side.  There were two things that made the dinner really nice (besides the food and company!), first, the waiter didn't ask us 100 times if everything was good.  He didn't ask at all.  He was very attentive to our needs and was there when we needed something but wasn't always interrupting.  The second thing was that the meal was filling but we didn't leave feeling stuffed which was really nice.  It was a change to be able to eat a salad, meal, and dessert and not feel like it was Thanksgiving.

So now when you go to Williamsburg you know where to eat.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sausages with Green Pepper and Onion

Another quick and easy dinner.  I was told when I was making up my shopping list that I had to get potato chips as it's tradition to have them with these sandwiches.  These are just like the ones you can get at the county fair.

Sausages w/green pepper and onion
Serves 5

1 pkg. of Italian sausage (we like sweet but you can get hot, whichever you prefer)
1 green pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
olive oil
steak rolls

Cook the Italian sausage (a bit of water in a skillet covered for about 10 min, then uncovered until browned).  Heat some olive oil in a second skillet and when hot add the green pepper and onion.  Cook until softened and slightly brown.  Split the rolls, put in one sausage and some onions and peppers.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Menu planning = saving money

Since I don't really have any great recipes to share today and my brain is getting overloaded with apple thoughts, I'll share a few tips that I hope will help my girls when they're on their own in a few years.

First off, make a menu plan for the week.  Or month.  One way to plan for the month is to designate each day a specific type of meal then you can pick from that.  A few examples, Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday (anything Mexican works), Fish Friday (I think I'd have a revolt on my hands is I did this).  This way, if you know on Wednesdays you cook a pasta dish, it takes a bit less thinking to menu plan since you only need to think through pasts dishes.  I don't tend to plan this way.  I usually try to sit down on Sunday and plan the meals for the week.  I made up a chart in Excel that had each day down the left side and Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner across the top.  I found a really cool one online but couldn't find it again so I had to make my own (which isn't as pretty).  I do pretty good getting stuff for dinner, I just forget about breakfast and lunch which is why they're on the menu.  Since the girls and I are home for lunch most days, I need to remember to plan for this.  Plan the weekly menu, then only buy what you need. 

Tip #2, use coupons judiciously.  Don't buy stuff just because you've got a coupon, buy it because you need it/eat it/will use it.  If you need more tips on couponing, there's lots of websites/blogs out there.  I'm not a fanatic about it but I do try to coupon.  I run into problems because of tip #3, buy store brands.  For most things, I find store brands to be indistinguishable from national brands.  There are some things I like store brands better, like boxed mac & cheese.  There are a very few things that I only buy the national brand.  Chocolate chips are one, must have Nestle, Cheerios are another; the store brand just isn't as good. 

I try to shop at Aldi when I can although I don't try to go out of my way to shop there.  You need to be careful shopping at places like Aldi and BJs/Costco.  Sometimes although Aldi is inexpensive overall, you can sometimes find better deals at the grocery store.  For example, pasta on sale is always cheaper at the grocery store than Aldi.  You just need to be price aware and know what's a good deal and what may not be.

OK, I lied, I do have a a quick recipe to share.  My girls love veggies, all sorts of veggies.  I had bought a really nice head of cauliflower at the farmer's market on Sunday.  I fixed a roast, roasted cauliflower and apple sauce for dinner.  For the cauliflower, I cut it into thick slices, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, and cooked on a baking sheet for about 20 min. in a 425* oven.  Yum!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Apple Crisp

This is a two-fer recipe.  Apple crisp is great for dessert, hot out of the oven with some vanilla ice cream alongside.  It's also great the next morning for breakfast, if there's any leftover.  There usually isn't in our house but I made it in a 9 x 13 pan this time so there had better be leftovers for breakfast!

We went apple picking and I told everyone I only wanted 2 bags (1/2 bushel) today.  When we went to find the Gala apples, there weren't any (all picked already and the few that were left were split) so Bob and Sweet Pea went and got more Jonagolds, a lot more!  They were only supposed to get enough to fill the rest of the second bag but got enough for probably most of another bag!  Oh well.  Guess I'll be really busy this week.  Besides tonight's apple crisp, I'll be making apple sauce, slicing some apples for pie, trying apple butter (I love it, Bob not so much), and I'll have to find some other things to make before the apples go bad.  Hopefully some will get eaten!

Apple Crisp  modified from a recipe that I got from my mom

2 1/2 lbs. apples peeled & sliced
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
a sprinkle of water

1/2 lb. brown sugar
1 c. flour
2/3 c. rolled oats
1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/3 tsp. salt
3/4 c. butter

Toss the apples with the lemon juice and water then spread in baking dish.  For the topping, mix all the ingredients together and sprinkle over the apples.  Bake in a 350* oven for about 40-45 minutes until the apples are soft.  Enjoy with ice cream.

I use Pampered Chef's Cinnamon Plus Spice Blend instead of cinnamon because I've got it but it doesn't really matter which you use.  I think the Cinnamon Plus just adds a little bit of extra spice since it's a blend.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Mozzarella Cheese

This is a yummy, easy summer dish.  My mom found it years ago when my vegetarian aunt and uncle were coming to visit.  We all enjoy it a lot here.  It's another of those dishes that don't have specific measurements, just adjust to how many you are cooking for that night.  For the four of us tonight I'm using:

Olive oil
2 zucchini, sliced
1 onion, half moon slices
2 tomatoes (you can also use a can or two of diced tomatoes), sliced
a few sprinkles of Italian seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste
a couple of handfuls of shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large skillet (I use my large cast iron one), to some olive oil add the zucchini and onion.  Cook until softened (we like them on the browned side) then add the tomatoes and seasonings.  Cook for a few more minutes until everything is warm.  Put a couple of handfuls of mozzarella cheese on top and cook until melted.

I usually serve this with some kind of bread; rosemary foccacia would be really good.  I should have bought some at the farmer's market this morning.  I don't have any tonight and didn't have time to make any today so we'll do without it.  I just thought that this would be really good if you put it under the broiler a few minutes at the end to finish melting and brown the cheese.  Think I'll give that a try.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese I

This is my special occasion mac and cheese.  We call it the ewey-gooey mac and cheese because it's got lots of cheese and is plenty gooey.  I only cook it occasionally since it's definitely not low cal!  I have a different recipe I use much more often for homemade mac and cheese.  This recipe came from the wrapping of a pasta package from The Pasta Shoppe.  Can't wait until it gets cool enough out so I can make this!

Macaroni & Cheese
Serves 6-8 as an entree; 8-10 as a side dish.

14 oz. pasta (I usually just use a 16 oz. package of something smallish)
7 Tbsp. butter
1/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. flour
4 c. whole milk
1 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/8 tsp. cayenne
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 c. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 c. sour cream
1 1/3 c.  grated Parmesan cheese
1  1/2 c. fresh bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350* and butter a 3 to 4 quart baking dish (9x13).

In heavy saucepan, melt 6 Tbsp. butter over med-low heat.  Add flour and whisk for 3 minutes.  Add milk in a stream, whisking and bring to a boil, whisking.  Add mustard, cayenne, salt and pepper, and simmer, whisking until thickened, approximately 2 minutes.

Cook pasta until al dente.  Drain pasta and in a large bowl gently combine pasta, sauce, cheddar cheese, 1 cup of the Parmesan, and sour cream.  Put into the baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs and remaining 1/3 c. Parmesan and sprinkle over the pasta. Cut up the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter and top bread crumbs.

Bake pasta for 25-30 minutes until golden and bubbling.

I changed the amount of bread crumbs for the topping.  When I made this again it's just too much to use a full cup of bread crumbs plus the cheese; 1/2 c bread crumbs will be enough.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Spaghetti squash

This is one I saw in a magazine that I'm reading through to send to the recycle bin.  Just wanted to get it here before I lose it.  It will make a good side in the cool months coming up.

Spaghetti squash

Cut squash in half; scoop out seeds.  Place cut-side down in a roasting pan with 1/2 inch water; cover with foil. Bake at 350* for 1 hour or until tender.  Using a fork, pull squash into strands.  Stir together with 1/4 c. chicken broth, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, chopped parsley and salt and pepper.  Top with Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Summer pasta salad

This is one I make quite often, an easy, pretty quick summer pasta salad.  I almost always serve it with bread of some sort, usually either biscuits or sourdough bread, tonight I served it with cornbread.  This is a recipe that is so easy to expand to serve more as needed.

Summer Pasta Salad

8 oz. pasta
green pepper
whatever other raw veggie you have around
smoked sausage
vinaigrette dressing

Cook the pasta according to the directions.  Use something big, like bow ties.  Cut the tomato and pepper into chunks, cut the cucumber in half then slice, slice the carrots.  Slice the smoked sausage; cook in a skillet until warm and crispy on the edges.  When the pasta is done, run it under cool water.  Toss everything together.  Enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fish wrapped in bacon

OK, so in making this I know already it's not going to be a big hit with my family.  I've made it before and enjoyed it, but since I have two non-fish lovers...  I do have a wonderful hubby who will eat anything I cook.  He may not like it but he'll eat it.  After, he may request not to have it again but he does put a good face on in front of the girls.  I'm sensitive to his likes and won't cook stuff that I love but know he won't eat like shrimp.  I don't even bother with that.  I know he isn't fond of fish but he'll put up with it on occasion as long as it's a bland, boring white fish (I don't cook more yummy fish like salmon at home unless it's for lunch and he's not here).  This dish has bacon and everything is better with bacon but Sweet Pea still doesn't like it.  At least I'm serving it with fried potatoes and green beans tonight, both of which she loves.

Fish Wrapped in Bacon
Modified from a recipe in Better Homes and Gardens

1 lemon
1 1/2 lbs. cod or haddock fillets, cut into 4 pieces
1 1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
fresh ground black pepper
8 slices of thin-sliced bacon or pancetta
1 tsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 450*. From lemon, grate 1 1/2 tsp. peel.  Evenly season fish with rosemary, lemon peel, and pepper.  Lay 2 slices of bacon on a cutting board, overlapping slices slightly.  Place 1 piece of fish across bacon and wrap bacon around fish. Repeat with remaining bacon slices and fish.

Heat oil in a large oven-safe skillet on medium heat until hot.  Add fish to skillet, with seam side of bacon down, and cook 2 minutes. With wide metal spatula, turn fish over and cook 1 minute longer.  Turn fish over again so bacon is seam side down.  Place pan in oven and roast fish 6-8 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Serves 4.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

More recipes to try

So in trying to find something to occupy my time with yesterday while the hurricane rained and blew outside, I decided to read through some magazines that I hadn't gotten to yet.  Much more fun then the cleaning I should have been doing.  The end result is that I need to cook more!  I now have a new pile of recipes to try.  Then I was reading one of my new cookbooks by Ellie Krieger that I got at Border's last week  We found some great breakfast things that Sweet Pea was interested in trying.  I'm happy about that since she doesn't really like most breakfast foods, no cold cereal, no eggs, no berries or melons; makes it hard to make sure she eats before school. So we're looking forward to trying some of those.  Besides finding some great breakfast recipes, I also found some for lunch as well.  And I have her other cookbook to re-look through...and Rosie Jane and I watched two Food Network shows today that we recorded and found some more things we wanted to try.  Now I just have to remember all these great sounding recipes and get them on the menu!

Today being Sunday, we ate dinner early.  We usually eat dinner at 1 or 2 on Sundays then have a light supper later.  It just makes it easier and we can all eat together for one meal on Sundays since the rest of the gang is so busy and doesn't always have the same schedule.  They all head back to church for youth group or Venture Crew mid-afternoon and after the chit-chatting when they're finished, it's pretty late for a big meal when they get back.  So big meal in the middle of the afternoon and supper (whatever anyone can find/feels like eating) later after youth or whatever they're doing.  Today's meal was pretty easy, ham steak, zucchini (slice in half longways, sprinkle on some olive oil, salt and pepper, shredded Parm, bake at 400* for about 20 min), and cheesy-broccoli rice.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Steak Teriyaki

Hurricane Irene is coming through today/tonight and I saw on Facebook that friends are cooking all sorts of good stuff today - one is making chili and cheeseburger soup, my sister-in-law made spaghetti.  I think everyone is planning on eating early tonight so the cooking can be done before power goes out.  We've got steak teriyaki over rice on tap with chocolate chip cookies Rosie Jane made earlier for dessert.

Steak Teriyaki  Modified from a recipe from Tastefully Simple
Serves 4

1 lb. beef sirloin steak
1 tbsp. oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
5 c. stir-fry veggies
1/3 - 1/2 c. Tastefully Simple Honey Teriyaki Sauce

Cut steak into 1/4 in. strips.  heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat.  Add garlic, cook 30 seconds and add beef.  Cook 3-4 minutes; add seasoned salt.  Remove beef from the wok.  Add veggies to wok and cook 3-4 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Return steak to wok and add teriyaki sauce; cook until heated through.  Serve over rice.

Easiest to slice the beef if you slightly freeze it first.  Just let it finish thawing before cooking otherwise you'll end up with a lot of extra liquid and will end up boiling the meat instead of stir frying.

You can use any kind of teriyaki sauce that you've got or can find in the store.  I was at a Tastefully Simple party not too long ago and this tasted really good so I got it.