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.