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.


We have muffins probably once a week around here.  Lots of different varieties.  Can't wait for fall to make pumpkin muffins, one of our favorites.  We also enjoy plain, blueberry, oatmeal (on the menu this morning), and banana.  This is a quick and easy recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens plaid cookbook.

Muffins - makes 10-12

1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 beaten egg
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. oil

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Make a well in the center.  combine egg, milk, and oil; add all at once to the flour mixture.  Stir just till moistened.  Lightly grease muffin cups or line with paper cups; fill 2/3 full.  Bake in a 400* oven about 20 minutes or till golden.

I have a large enough liquid measuring cup that I can mix the milk, oil, and egg in and not dirty another bowl.  You can also make these in a mini-muffin pan, great when you have toddlers or little kids since they make a great smack and are easily portable.


Blueberry - add 3/4 c. fresh or frozen blueberries and 1 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel (optional) to batter.
Banana - reduce milk to 1/2 c. Add 3/4 c. mashed banana (I use 2 bananas) and 1/2 c. chopped nuts to flour mixture with egg mixture.  Do not use paper cups.
Pumpkin - add 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp. ground cloves to flour mixture. Add 1/2 c. canned pumpkin to egg mixture.  stir 1/2 c. chopped nuts into batter.  Do not use paper bake cups.
Oatmeal - reduce flour to 1 1/3 c. and add 3/4 c. rolled oats to flour mixture.  Rolled oats seem to "melt" more into the muffins.  I usually used Old Fashioned Oats since it's what I have and the oats keep a crunchier texture, which I like.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lasagna Summer Salad

I'm not sure yet if this one's a keeper or not; it's got cut up tomatoes which Sweet Pea doesn't like.  I also think it needs a bit of tweaking anyway for it to make keeper status.  I do like the idea of making a quintessential winter dish like lasagna into something that's good in the summer.  It still takes some time to put together but you won't have the oven on for an hour in the heat of the summer.  You do need to plan ahead a bit for this.  I got this from the 80-20 blog.

Lasagna Summer Salad
Serves 6

12 oz. dry lasagna noodles
5 oz. tomato bouillon (I used 4 vegetable bouillon cubes)
14 oz. canned crushed tomatoes (I used petite diced since I couldn't find a 14 oz. can of crushed)
3 cloves of garlic, pressed and finely minced
1 tsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped (I used a good sprinkle of Italian seasoning since I didn't have fresh oregano, nor did I have any dried)
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped (I used dried)
1/2 cup fresh basil chiffonade
2 cups fresh tomatoes (roma or cherry), seeded and chopped
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant, 2-3 minutes.  Add crushed tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, salt, parsley, and oregano.  Bring to a low boil,l then reduce heat to a simmer for 8 minutes.  Remove from heat and transfer sauce into a shallow glass ocntainer.  Place in refrigerator for 2 hours.

In a large pot, bring 12 cups of water to a boil.  When water is boiling, add tomato bouillon cubes and stir until dissolved.  Carefully place lasagna noodles into boiling water and cook until al dente, ~9-10 minutes, being careful to not overcook.  Remove from heat, drain and rinse with cold water.

Cut noodles down the center lengthwise, then cut each half crosswise into four pieces (you'll end up with 8 pieces).

Place noodles into a large bowl and add chopped tomoatoes and basil chiffonade.  Toss gently.

To chilled sauce, add ricotta and whisk until combined.  Add sauce to noodle mixture and toss gently to coat.  Serve immediately.

The main comment at dinner tonight was about the basil.  I either needed to make the chiffonade finer or leave it out or use dried.  The fresh basil just seemed overpowering in the dish (and rather unappealing) but overall we enjoyed this dish.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Spaghetti with tomatoes and garlic

Tonight was one of those meals where I was looking around the kitchen to see what there was to put together in to something edible.  Rosie Jane wanted me to use some of her basil (grown from the seed packet on a box of Triscuits) and we've always got pasta of some sort around.  Also found a head of garlic and a tomato, so I made a nice summery pasta dish for dinner.  Too bad it was just Rosie Jane and me.

Just to warn you, this is yet another of those recipes that don't include specific measurements.  You'll probably find lots of those coming.

Spaghetti or some other pasta
Olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic (I used 3 large ones, we like garlic)
a tomato, chopped (add a second if you're serving more than 2 or 3)
fresh basil, sliced

Cook the pasta to al dente.  Mince the garlic or when you're ready to put it in the skillet use a garlic press.  When the pasta is almost done, cover the bottom of a skillet with olive oil.  Add the garlic and stir until not quite golden then add the chopped tomatoes and their juice.  Cook for a minute or so.  Drain and add the pasta.  Toss to mix then add the basil and salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

BLT mac salad

We were just at my brother's for a few days, enjoying the last days of summer before all the kids head back to school.  We had a great time at their pool, riding bikes along the farm lane and through town, and just hanging out.  My sister-in-law doesn't grill and had some chicken to cook for dinner Monday night.  Since David doesn't get home from work until it's too late to grill, I made dinner for us.  I grilled the chicken and made BLT Pasta salad.  We had some other sides to go along with the chicken and salad.  This recipe came from the wrapping of one of those fancy packages of pasta from The Pasta Shoppe.

1 box of pasta (any shape)
2 or 3 tomatoes, chopped
2 green pepper, chopped
5 or 6 strips of bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
salt and pepper

Cook the pasta to al dente.  When it's cooked, drain and run under cool water.  Add the tomatoes and green pepper, toss, then add mayo.  Put in the fridge to chill.  Just before serving, add the bacon and season to taste.

The amounts of tomatoes and green pepper can be adjusted to taste, add more or less as you like.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dinner tonight...or....Fun at the Fair

Today was a fun day, a day filled pretty much with junk food.  Not that our usual meals are super healthy all the time, but today just fun and lots of junk food.  Took Sweet Pea and Rosie Jane to the water park with a couple of friends and had lunch there (pizza for me, chicken fingers and (yucky) french fries for them).  Later ice cream for a late afternoon snack - the cookie ice cream sandwich for two of us and some Shrek neon green thing for the other. 

Tonight we went to the county fair.  Lots of fun!!  Saw all the animals, including some huge cows and tiny baby goats, walked through the exhibit halls and saw some great pictures among other things, rode the rides, and ate dinner.  Rosie Jane decided that she does like roller coasters after all. 

But on to the food.  For dinner, Sweet Pea had a pulled pork sandwich and fries, Bob had a burger and sweet potato fries (all from the Volunteer Fire Dep't. stand).  Rosie Jane and I had chicken skewers.  Later the evening included funnel cake, ice cream, more ice cream.  I think that was it, although it sure seems like we had something else.  On to some better stuff tomorrow.

A lunch favorite

This is a quick, favorite lunch around here that occasionally makes it to the dinner table.  For this one I don't use specific measurements, just adjust for however many you are feeding.

Pasta, spinach, and walnuts

Spaghetti or other pasta
frozen spinach
walnuts (pieces, not the expensive walnut halves or chopped walnuts; I always have a big bag from BJs on hand)

Cook the pasta according to the package to al dente.  When it's almost done, add the spinach to the pasta and in a skillet in some olive oil saute the walnuts until toasted.  Watch that you don't burn the walnuts!  Drain the pasta and spinach and add to the walnuts.  Toss to mix and finish cooking.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Taco soup

First up is taco soup.  I got this recipe from my friend Wendy and it's a good one.  One night last fall, she posted on facebook that she was making taco soup for dinner in her crockpot.  I have much need to use my crockpot these days as the girls are getting older and busier around dinner time and still need me to drive them.  Makes it hard to get dinner on the table.  This is one of those nights!  Sweet Pea has to be at the farm to work, Rosie Jane is babysitting until mid-afternoon, and I've got to meet Sweet Pea at the farm about 6.  No time to cook tonight and I don't think we want to be eating at 8, so taco soup in the crockpot it is.

Taco Soup

1-2 lbs. ground beef (depending on how meaty you want it)
chopped onion (again, use how ever much you want, I'll probably use one and the bit I have leftover from something else)
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans (she used kidney beans, I've used roman beans)
2 cans of tomatoes (she used petite cut, diced and only 1 can, I think I've used 1 can of diced tomatoes)
1 can Mexican style corn (I just used frozen corn)
1 1/2 cups water
1 envelope Hidden Valley Ranch dressing
1 envelope taco seasoning

Brown ground beef and cook with onion.  Throw into crockpot and add remaining ingredients.  Cook on low for a couple of hours.

You can serve with corn bread or chips (I think we'll do chips tonight).  Add a dollop of sour cream on the top of each serving, maybe some shredded cheddar cheese, sliced green onion.  Yum!!


Welcome to my kitchen!  I know there's lots of blogs out there with recipes, some pretty fancy with lots of step-by-step pictures.  This isn't one of those.  This is mostly a place for me to put our family's favorite recipes so that I can find them later when I want them.  And so they'll be around for the girls when they want to cook.  I'm tired of the girls asking for the Chinese pulled pork and I have to search all over the place for the recipe, go online (remembering that I found it on the Sonlight forums) and search all over there for it.  Hopefully this will help fill both my kitchen and your with good smells!