Friday, December 21, 2012

Baked French Toast

Yesterday our church had their monthly food giveaway to the community. They have partnered with the Salvation Army and a local food bank to bring fruits and vegetables as well as baked goods from local stores to those who need it in our area. The food is free to those who need it. Once the majority of the food has been given out, the leftovers are available to the helpers; we have to find food pantries or homeless shelters with space/need for fresh produce (yesterday there were a LOT of onions left).

The girls and I took a head of cabbage, two small bags of onions, and a loaf of French bread. The bread was pretty stale, which made it perfect for baked French toast. I did a quick search this morning and found this recipe from The Pioneer Woman, gave it a couple of small tweaks and into the oven it went. I really liked it and the stale bread was perfect for this.

Baked French Toast
serves 8
What was left after breakfast

1 loaf crusty French or sourdough bread
8 eggs
2 c whole milk
1/2 c skim milk
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
2 Tbsp vanilla

1/2 c flour
1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
dash of nutmeg
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces

Grease a 9x13 pan; tear the bread into chunks or cut into cubes and put into the pan evenly. Crack the eggs into a large bowl, add the milks, sugars, and vanilla; whisk together. Pour evenly over the bread and press the bread into the egg mixture. At this point, you can cover with plastic wrap and put into the fridge overnight or add the topping to bake now.

For the topping, mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg together; cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine pebbles.

When you're ready to bake the casserole, preheat the oven to 350*. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the casserole. Bake for 45 minutes for a softer casserole, 1 hour for a firmer, crusty casserole.

Serve with butter and syrup.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gingerbread Pancakes

I made these the other day for breakfast and they were a much bigger hit than the last time I made them. Super easy to make and definitely a fall food. I halved the recipe since I was just feeding three of us that morning.

Gingerbread Pancakes
serves 12

4 c buttermilk pancake mix
1 Tbsp each ground cinnamon and ginger
2 1/3 c water mixed with 1/2 c molasses

Stir spices into pancake mix, then add the molasses mixture and mix just until moistened. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Drop 3 tablespoons of batter for each pancake on the griddle. Cook 4-5 minutes, turning once, until puffed and lightly browned.

The girls wanted Christmas pancakes

Christmas tree and bell

Star and gingerbread man

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Kitchen at Christmas

We're busy decorating the house for Christmas and as I was perusing my blog feed I came across this post from Serendipity Refined. I have a ton of cookie cutters that were my grandmother's and some I've bought; I knew I could make something like this. Only thing is that I have no place in my kitchen to put a full wreath so I decided to go with more of a spray of evergreens with the cookie cutters.

When we got our Christmas tree, they cut off the lowest branches and I trimmed a few stems off those to put this together. I tied them together at the top then started tying on the cookie cutters. I used Christmas themed cutters - an angel at the top, a candle, Santa, Christmas tree, a flower, and a train.

This also reminded me of the decorations they put up in Williamsburg at Christmas time. I was thinking I needed a mini-rolling pin, a small pie plate and then it'd look just like something they would do. Next year.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Golden Apple Pork Chops

I searched all over for this recipe tonight before finally finding it in my recipe box! It was in the local grocery store sales flyer a year or so ago and my mom made it for the girls when they were spending the night. They really liked it so I made it once or twice and they've been asking for it again. I was all set to make it tonight but couldn't find the recipe, partly because I thought it was one from the newspaper so I was looking for a different kind of clipping but also because I had copied it and put it in my recipe box.

It's the perfect blend of pork chops, apples, and apple cider.

Golden Apple Pork Chops
serves 4

4 boneless pork chops
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp oil
2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, sliced thin
2/3 c apple cider or juice
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cornstarch

Trim fat from pork chops. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme. Heat oil on med-high in a large skillet. Brown chops on both sides. Reduce heat to medium and add apples, 1/2 c cider and brown sugar. Cook 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, mix remaining cider with the cornstarch. Remove chops and apples and keep warm. Whip cornstarch mixture into pan juices, cook and stir until thickened. Spoon over chops.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sesame Honey Chicken

I found this recipe in the wonderful world known as Pinterest. I made it a few weeks ago, put the leftovers in the freezer, then forgot about them. Pulled it out tonight when I needed something quick and it was really good the second time. This is a quick and easy Chinese flavored chicken dish; I served it over rice with broccoli.

Sesame Honey Chicken
serves 8

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 4 chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup honey
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1/3 cup water
1/2 tablespoon (or more) sesame seeds
3 scallions, chopped

Season chicken with salt and pepper then put in crockpot. In a medium bowl, combine the onion, garlic, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, oil, and red pepper flakes. Pour over the chicken and cook for 4 hours on low or 2 hours on high.

Remove the chicken to a cutting board and shred. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with the water; add to the sauce left in the crockpot* and stir. Cover and cook on high for about 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add back in the chicken. Serve with rice and top the chicken with the sesame seeds and chopped scallions.

*I have an old crockpot that very rarely can make a sauce thicken. I had to put the sauce into a saucepan, add the cornstarch mixture, and thicken on the stove.

modified from The Comfort of Cooking

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Baked Apple Cider "Doughnut Holes"

I was perusing my extensive food pinterest board last night and came across this recipe. I had totally forgotten about it but it sounded good. My girls love apple cider and we all enjoy going to Williamsburg in the fall and getting some hot apple cider to sip on while walking the streets there. The good news for us is that I happened to have everything needed for this recipe. Bob had a huge issue calling these doughnut holes; they're made in a mini muffin pan so he said they were muffins. Either way, they were good.

Baked Apple Cider Doughnut Holes
makes about 48 doughnut holes

2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 large egg
2/3 c brown sugar
1/2 c apple butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c honey
1/3 c apple cider
1/3 c plain yogurt (I used plain Greek yogurt)
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 c sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400* and spray a mini-muffin pan with non-stick spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In another large bowl, whisk the egg, brown sugar, apple butter, vanilla, honey, apple cider, yogurt, and oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir to combine (a few lumps will be ok). Fill each muffin hole about 3/4 full. Bake for approximately 8-10 minutes.

While the donuts are baking, combine the cinnamon and sugar on a dish. When the muffins come out of the oven, dip the tops in the cinnamon-sugar, then coat the sides using a spoon. Serve warm.

The number of holes you get depends on the size of your mini-muffin pan; I got about 44 this morning, although some were rather large so I could have had 48. You could also dust with powdered sugar instead of the cinnamon-sugar if you want.

Modified slightly from Feastie.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Bacon Egg Cups

This was one of many recipes that I've found and pinned on Pinterest. I've been looking for some new breakfast ideas, especially since we're trying to eat together. Sweet Pea really liked this one, Rosie Jane said it was ok. I thought it was really good. Mine sure didn't turn out as nice as the ones in the original picture, but they tasted good.

Bacon Egg Cups
makes 12

12 slices of bacon
8 eggs
1/2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
pinch of salt and 1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat the oven to 350*. Cook the bacon about "halfway," it should still be soft, just starting to crisp up. Whisk the rest of the ingredients together. Spray a muffin pan with nonstick spray. Wrap each piece of bacon around the inside of a muffin cup. Don't worry if the bacon falls in on itself. Fill about 3/4 full with the egg mixture. Bake 30-35 minutes, until the eggs are golden brown and don't jiggle. Run a knife around the muffin cup to get them out. Serve immediately.

You can also add a splash of milk to the eggs. They turn out fluffy that way.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

I saw this in the Parade Magazine in some recent Sunday's paper and wanted to try it. Made it for lunch today and it's very tasty as well as easy and low fat.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup
serves 6

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 small onion, chopped fine
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 c reduced-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 15-oz can pumpkin
1 12-oz can evaporated milk
plain fat-free Greek yogurt for garnish

In a large pot, heat oil over low heat for 30 seconds. Add onion and cook 3 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in spices, salt, and pepper. Cook 1 minute, stirring. Whisk in broth and pumpkin. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add milk and simmer for 2 minutes. If you want a smooth soup, using an immersion blender puree soup until smooth. Add a little more broth to thin, if desired. Ladle into bowls and garnish with yogurt; add pepper to taste.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Southwest Chicken Pot Pie

Last week I was really in the mood for pot pie. Chicken pot pie, to be specific, especially since we had some leftover chicken that needed to be used. I didn't want the usual carrots and potatoes with chicken pot pie, I wanted something more flavorful, southwest-y tasting. I also really wanted a cornmeal crust, instead of a regular pie crust and I wanted the crust to be crust-like, not corn muffin/bread-like. Pretty demanding, huh? I ended up pulling this together and it was really good, even Bob liked it although he didn't want to admit it!

Southwest Chicken Pot Pie
serves 8

for the pot pie:
2-3 c cooked, chopped or shredded chicken 
6 Tbsp butter
1/2 c flour
2 c chicken stock
1 1/2 c whole milk
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 c frozen corn
1 can black beans, rinsed
salt & pepper

for the crust:
1 c flour
1/2 c yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbsp butter, chilled & thinly sliced
1/4 c ice water

First, make the creamed chicken. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan, when melted whisk in flour. Cook, whisking constantly for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chicken stock; whisk until smooth. Whisk in the milk. Increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture just to a simmer, whisking constantly. When smooth and thick, add the cumin and coriander and season with salt and pepper. Let simmer for 1 minute, then add the chicken.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic, stirring until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the drained black beans and corn, cook for 1-2 minutes, then add the creamed chicken. Stir to combine well. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan.

For the crust, mix the flour, cornmeal, and salt in a bowl. Cut in the butter until crumble. Add the water, then toss dough lightly with a fork until it begins to come together. Lightly gather it together, then press into a disk. On a floured surface, roll until it's about 1/4" thick and slightly larger than the casserole dish. Place on top of casserole as you would for a pie, trim the edges, leaving 1/2 " overhang; turn under and crimp. Cut slits to let steam escape.

Bake at 400* for 30-40 minutes. The top should be lightly browned and the inside bubbly warm.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

White Bean Soup

This is one of those dishes that I wanted to make, didn't really read the recipe first and assumed I had what I needed in the pantry. As usual, didn't exactly work out that way but I still made a really good soup. I told Bob last night I probably would have eaten the whole pot if I wasn't full and they didn't need to eat still. The base recipe came from my Joy of Cooking cookbook, Mediterranean White Bean Soup. It calls for large dried white beans, like great Northern or cannelini but I only had Navy beans; they worked fine but large ones would have been better. This was really easy to make, even starting with dried beans.

White Bean Soup

1 c dried white beans
7 c water
3/4 tsp dried rosemary
8 cloves garlic, chopped or sliced
1 can diced tomatoes
1/4 c olive oil
4 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper

Pick over, rinse, and soak the beans.* After the beans are drained, put in a soup pot along with the water, rosemary, and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 to 1.5 hours. Stir in the undrained diced tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients. Serve with crackers or crusty bread.

*I used the quick soak method - cover the beans with water by 2 inches in a pot, bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for an hour or until doubled in size; drain, discarding the soaking water. The other way you can do it is to put them in a pot, cover by 2 inches with water, cover, and let soak overnight. I usually never plan far enough ahead to do this.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pumpkin Pancakes

Still very much in the mood for pumpkin food. I made pumpkin waffles the other morning and had half a can of pumpkin left so decided to make pancakes. I really liked this recipe - it has good flavor, it's low fat and it made the perfect amount for us.

Pumpkin Pancakes
modified from Low Fat Cooking

1 c flour
1/4 c packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp oil
1 c nonfat milk
1/3 c pumpkin

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk the egg, oil, milk, and pumpkin together. Stir pumpkin mixture into the dry ingredients; let sit for 5 minutes. Cook pancakes on a greased griddle until bubbles appear (about 2 minutes), flip and cook about 1 1/2 minutes on the second side. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Menu planning, part 2

So far this fall I'm doing a lot better menu planning. Our schedule is different and I think it's actually better than is has been the last couple of years. It's really helped to sit down on Saturday or Sunday and plan out the menus for the week. The girls also have been making notes on my menu of things they'd like to see on the menu the following week so that's really making things easier. They both still cook one night a week, alternating weeks. Now I just need to figure out when to get to the grocery store and we'll be set.

One thing we're doing this year is having family breakfasts instead of dinner which is requiring me to menu plan a bit better for breakfast. We still have days when it's GYO - get your own, but I fix something most mornings. Years ago when I was working, a friend said that he and his (live-in) girlfriend were menu planning. Their plan was something like pasta on Mondays, taco Tuesdays, fish on Fridays, etc., this gave them the broad outline and they'd fill in the details weekly. At the time I thought that was weird, why would you want pasta every Monday? Now I see the light, at least for breakfast, so Dean, I apologize for thinking you were weird for doing this.

So our breakfast plan is something like this (as always, subject to change):

Sunday - GYO (I always have eggs and toast on Sundays, habit from growing up)
Monday - muffins or coffee cake
Tuesday - GYO
Wednesday - eggs and potatoes (I've got lots of recipes that I want to try pinned at Pinterest)
Thursday - pancakes (plain, chocolate chip, blueberry, whatever strikes our fancy)
Friday - not sure what's going to go here
Saturday - waffles, French toast, or ??

As we get further into winter, I'll probably have days I know I'm cooking in the crockpot (Wednesday and Thursday) just because I'll be away at dinner time and need to leave food for the family that's home. So I sort of follow a generic plan but not really.

Monday, September 24, 2012


We went apple picking on Saturday, made it just in time! Apple season is just about over here; they had some apples left on the trees but not many and not the perfect, eating apples you see earlier in the season. I didn't care too much how they looked since they're going to be used for cooking - pies, applesauce, apple butter, crisp, apple cake and muffins. Lots of good stuff, but the apples don't need to look pretty.

This recipe is mostly from my Joy of Cooking cookbook but modified for what I have on hand today. I really didn't measure anything except the sugar so just adjust to the apples you have (more or less water, lemon juice, and spices) and your tastes.

about 2 pints

about 12-15 medium sized apples, a couple of varieties if you have them
1 - 2 cups of water, apple juice, or apple cider (depends on how juicy the apples are)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 piece of cinnamon stick
big dash of nutmeg
scant 1/2 c sugar

Peel, core, and slice the apples (I've got a counter top peeler, corer, slicer and it makes things SO much easier!). Put into a large pot with the water, lemon juice, and cinnamon stick. If you don't have a cinnamon stick, never fear, you'll be ok without. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 10-15 minutes or until apples are soft and easily broken up. If you used the cinnamon stick, take it out. Use a potato masher to mash the apples to get a mostly smooth, but still a bit chunky sauce. If you want it chunkier, use a wooden spoon to just break up the apples; if you want it smooth, use a food mill to process the apples. If you didn't use a cinnamon stick, add about 1 heaping Tbsp of ground cinnamon along with the nutmeg and sugar. Stir, taste, and adjust the spices. Let cool, then either put up in jars, or prepare it to freeze.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp and Grits

Have I mentioned before how much I love it when my family is gone for dinner and I have time to cook? I usually take advantage and fix something for myself that I know they won't like. Tonight that something was shrimp and grits. I saw this recipe on Food Network a while back, pinned it on Pinterest, and knew I'd make it one night when they were gone. It's really easy, pretty quick, and delicious. Sure wish I had remembered to take a picture, it looked really pretty on the plate.

The recipe serves 4 so I made half and will have the leftovers for supper tomorrow night. And don't do as I did; I quick skimmed the recipe and missed the part where it says "peeled and deveined" about the shrimp. Mine were deveined, but had the shells on; it still turned out fine, I just had to peel them after I put them onto my plate.

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp and Grits
serves 4; from The Food Network

3/4 c quick grits
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/4 lbs medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
2 large cloves garlic, minced
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
juice of 1/2 lemon

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Slowly whisk in the grits, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan and 1 Tbsp butter. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Melt the remaining 2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, garlic, and cayenne, if using, and cook, tossing until the shrimp are pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and add 2 Tbsp water and the lemon juice; stir to coat the shrimp with the sauce.

Divide the grits among shallow bowls and top with the shrimp and sauce.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Anniversary dinner, part 2 (marinade and zucchini)

We really enjoyed our dinner yesterday. I had planned to use our "usual" marinade for the steak but I was out (usually have plenty of McCormick's meat marinade on hand); I found this one that we liked. The zucchini sticks were from a recipe that I found on Pinterest (that came from the King Arthur Flour website). They also had a sweet onion dip with them that I didn't make but was told I need to make the next time I make the zucchini sticks. Maybe for a football afternoon snack.

Meat Marinade
marinades 2 lbs(ish) of meat

1/2 c vegetable oil
1/4 c soy sauce
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Use to marinade any cut of beef.

Baked Zucchini Sticks
about 3 dozen sticks

3 medium zucchini, unpeeled, cut into 3" long ticks
1 Tbsp salt
1 c panko bread crumbs
scant 1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Place the zucchini in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Let the zucchini drain for at least an hour; rinse and pat dry.

Preheat the oven to 425* and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the panko, Parmesan, and Italian seasoning on a large plate. Have the eggs in a bowl (suitable for dredging the zucchini sticks). Dredge the zucchini sticks a few at a time in the egg, then roll in the crumb mixture. Place the sticks on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Serve immediately.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

It's our anniversary!

Today's our anniversary (23 years!!). We thought about going out to dinner, but trying to get in somewhere at lunchtime on a Sunday in a timely manner just isn't happening around here. We decided that I'd grill and fix something here instead. Grilled steak and asparagus, baked zucchini sticks, and bread from the farmer's market. More details tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sweet Rolls

For a second "first day of school" treat I decided to make sweet rolls. We actually started school last week, but after the holiday weekend I figured a yummy breakfast would be good. The basics of this recipe are from the Pioneer Woman. When I make these rolls I use half her recipe (no need for 4 pans of them hanging around!). I tend to vary the fillings, using her chocolate chip cookie one (modified) or sometimes a cinnamon-sugar filling or a gooey pecan filling. Today we made two pans, one chocolate chip (which makes for a great snack or dessert) and one cinnamon-sugar/walnut. The cinnamon-sugar ones had frosting on them but the others didn't; both were really good. The frosting recipe comes from my Fannie Farmer breakfast cookbook.

Sweet Rolls
makes 24

2 c whole milk
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c oil
4 1/2 c flour
1 pkg yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
1/2 Tbsp salt
scant 1/2 tsp baking soda
heaping 1/2 tsp baking powder

Fillings (for 12 rolls, double for 24):
Chocolate chip cookie: heaping 1/4 c each chopped walnuts and mini chocolate chips, 1/2 c brown sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 Tbsp melted butter with 1 tsp vanilla
Cinnamon-sugar/walnut:  1/8 c cinnamon sugar, 1/4 c chopped walnuts, 2 Tbsp melted butter

1 1/2 c powdered sugar
2 Tbsp softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
water (about 1 Tbsp)

For the rolls, mix milk, sugar, and oil in a pot. You need to use a large pot since the dough will be rising in it later. Heat until very warm but not boiling. Allow to cool until slightly warmer than lukewarm. Sprinkle yeast over the surface of the liquid, then add in 4 cups of flour. Stir gently until totally combined. Mixture will be very wet and sticky. Cover with a tea towel, keep in a draft-free place and allow to sit for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, add in the other 1/2 cup flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix until combined. Refrigerate dough, covered until you need it (helps make it easier to handle).

Spread some melted butter in the bottom of 2 pie pans, cake pans, or a 9 x 13 pan. Divide the dough in half (cover the half you're not using). Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out into a large rectangle, about 12 x 10. Drizzle the melted butter over the surface and brush to cover. For the chocolate chip cookie rolls, mix the brown sugar and salt together then sprinkle evenly over the butter. Follow with the chocolate chips and walnuts. For the cinnamon-sugar/walnut rolls: sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the butter, then top with the walnuts.

 chocolate chip cookie rolls being rolled

Preheat the oven to 375*. Beginning at the far, longer side, roll the dough toward you until it's a log. Pinch the edges to seal. Slice a tiny bit off the ends (they don't have any of the yumminess in them), then slice into 12 rolls. Lay the rolls cut side down in the baking dish. Allow to rise for 20 minutes, then place in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until deep golden brown on top. Turn out onto a serving plate.

For the frosting, put the confectioners' sugar in a small bowl then beat in the butter, vanilla, and 2 tsp of water until smooth. You may need a bit more water depending on how thick or thin you like your frosting (more water will give you more of a glaze rather than a frosting). If you frost while the rolls are still warm, the frosting will melt a bit all over them.

what was left after breakfast

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Potato Salad

Just about finished making the potato salad for church tomorrow. The church is celebrating 25 years with a bbq lunch and a baked bean and potato salad taste off. The girls and I decided to make potato salad, we'll see how it does tomorrow. Sure wish it was for dinner tonight! This recipe is from my mom and grandma, which also means that there's nothing specific about it.

Potato Salad

Use freshly boiled potatoes (1 or 2 per person; we usually do 5 pounds for us which is enough for leftovers next day), peel and slice or dice. While warm, stir in some bacon drippings or salad oil and vinegar to taste. When ready to use, add chopped onion and celery, mayonnaise, salt and pepper.

As you can see, nothing specific here. If I'm using 5 lbs of potatoes, I usually use one large onion and 2 or 3 ribs of celery.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Italian Sausage Grinders

I've been having the girls make dinner one night a week. They pick the menu, let me know what they need, and they cook (with help if they need it). They can do something simple (hot dogs and beans) or flip through my cookbooks and find something that will stretch them (or us). It doesn't matter to me, I just want them to get some experience cooking, learn some skills that will help when they head off on their own. Whitney made these awesome subs last week and a basic salad to go with them.

Italian Sausage Grinders
from Anyone Can Cook

1 lb bulk hot or sweet Italian sausage
1 14.5 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes, undrained
1 tsp dried basil, crushed
1 tsp balsamic vinegar (optional)
1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, sliced
1 small green pepper, seeded and cut into strips
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 hoagie buns, split
4 slices provolone cheese

In a 3 quart saucepan cook the sausage over medium heat until no longer pink, stirring to break up meat; drain off fat. Stir in diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, basil, balsamic vinegar (if using), oregano, salt, crushed red pepper, and garlic. Bring to boiling; reduce heaet. Simmer, uncovered, about 30 minutes or until mixture is thickened.

Meanwhile, in a 10-inch skillet cook onion and green pepper in hot oil over medium heat until tender. Set aside and keep warm.

Place split rolls on a baking sheet. Spoon the meat mixture onto the bottom halves of the rolls. Top with the onion mixture and cheese. Broil 4 to 5 inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese melts and is bubbly. Makes 4 sandwiches.

Note: You can use 1 pound of Italian sausage links, just take off the casing and break up the meat as it cooks.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Corn and Cheddar Fritters

I found this recipe in a magazine (Women's Day? Ladies Home Journal?) I was flipping through on vacation and it sounded good. Friday night we had a vegetarian dinner since I had a bunch of things left from the farmer's market I needed to use before they went bad. We had sauteed zucchini and onions, the corn fritters, and roasted asparagus. All of it was really good.

Corn and Cheddar Fritters
makes 8 fritters

1/3 c mayonnaise
1 tsp hot sauce
1/3 c milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 c cornmeal
1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c fresh corn (I used 3 ears)
2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
canola oil

In a small bowl, mix mayo and hot sauce. Set aside in the refrigerator. In a medium bowl, mix milk, egg, baking powder, cornmeal, flour, and salt until smooth. Stir in corn, parsley, and cheese. Pour 1/4 inch of oil into a large skillet and heat. Working in batches, fry 1/4-cup scoops (or a large spoonful) of batter until golden, turning once, about 4 minutes total; transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve hot fritters with spicy mayo.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mexican Pizza

I made chicken enchiladas the other night for dinner and had a lot of enchilada sauce leftover. I decided that a Mexican pizza sounded good and I could use the enchilada sauce in place of pizza sauce. This is a pretty healthy dinner, full of veggies and beans. For the corn, you can used canned or frozen; I had some fresh ears that I got from the farmer's market on Sunday and used two ears.

Mexican Pizza
makes 2 pizzas

cornmeal pizza dough (recipe below)
enchilada sauce
1 tomato, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 can black beans, drained
2 or 3 green onions, thinly sliced
shredded cheddar (or Colby Jack or Mexican blend)
optional toppings: sour cream, salsa, diced avocado

Preheat the oven to 425*. Roll the crust onto a pizza stone or other baking pan. Poke several times with a fork so it doesn't rise. Bake 10-12 minutes until slightly browned.

Remove from the oven and spread on the enchilada sauce then top with tomato, red pepper, black beans, corn and green onions (split toppings between the two crusts, use an amount that looks good to you, I didn't use the full can of beans). Top with cheese. Bake 12 minutes until the pizza is cooked and the cheese is melted.

Cornmeal Pizza Dough

2-2 1/2 c all purpose flour
3/4 c yellow cornmeal
1 pkg active dry yeast
1/4 tsp salt
1 c warm water
2 Tbsp cooking oil

In a mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 c flour, cornmeal, yeast, and salt; add water and oil. Beat with mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, use that. After the dough is mixed, add in at least another 1/2 c of flour. Mix, then knead for 5 minutes. Add in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Divide dough in half; cover and let rest 10 minutes.

Friday, August 10, 2012

We're home!

Summer has been busy with the girls at camp and a wonderful vacation in Alaska. Before we left for Alaska it had been too hot to cook much but hopefully it'll start cooling down soon, at least enough so that I can cook.

We had a great time in Alaska and enjoyed some really good food. We were on a Princess cruise so there was food available pretty much all the time. We had to tell the girls not to get too used to that! They did enjoy having ice cream whenever they wanted and the pizza was good as well. Probably the best meals that I had were at the Copper River Princess Lodge. I had two great salmon meals there, one with a lemon-dill sauce, the other was red salmon with a cranberry-something sauce. While we did go to two salmon bakes and I had salmon in other places, Copper River is known for it's salmon and it sure didn't disappoint.

We (at least Bob and I) enjoyed the local beer. We had several types from the Alaskan Brewing Co. - the summer ale, white, amber, and Stout. In Skagway, Bob had some spruce beer, another local creation. According to the locals, when Captain Cook came ashore, his crew was suffering from scurvy. The local Indians knew just what to do - spruce tea, which apparently tastes pretty bad. The crew started refusing to drink the tea so Captain Cook came up with the idea to make it (or add it, I'm not sure which and think I heard both) into beer; they'd still get the vitamin C benefits but it tasted much better. I also had a red beer from a local brewery which was really good. In Anchorage, we went to the Glacier BrewHouse for my birthday and I had the raspberry wheat and Bob got the amber ale.

So now it's back home and I'll be doing the cooking for quite a while. I have some cookbooks I'm trying out, some new things I've found and put on Pinterest that I need to start trying as well as recipes that I've found in magazines that I want to try. Hopefully lots of good cooking coming!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Italian Sausage and Vegetables

I wanted to make chicken salad today since it was so hot out. After rummaging around in the freezer, I have no boneless chicken. Not sure how that happened! Instead, I found some Italian sausage. I had a zucchini left from the last trip to the farmer's market and some mushrooms leftover from something I made the other day. I threw it all together with some other things I had around and it made a wonderful, easy dinner with lots of good flavors.

Italian Sausage and Vegetables
serves 4

4 Italian sausage links, casing removed
4 oz. mushrooms
1 zucchini
1 onion
1 red bell pepper
Italian seasoning
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese 

Cut all the vegetables into similar sized chunky dice. In a large skillet cook the sausage, breaking it up into smallish pieces. When it's mostly cooked add all the veggies. You may need to add a bit of oil. Stir to mix and cook for about 10 minutes until the sausage is cooked through and the veggies are softened, with some browned parts. Season with about 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Black Bean and Corn Salad

I've been looking for a good black bean and corn salad and found this one yesterday. We had family over for dinner and I was making tacos but wanted some sort of side to go with them. This is super fast (it should be, it's from Rachael Ray) and easy. It's also made with things I usually have on hand so I can make it just about anytime.

Black Bean and Corn Salad
modified from Rachael Ray

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 c frozen corn kernels
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp hot sauce
1 lime, juiced
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
small handful cilantro, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Let stand at least 15 minutes at room temperature for corn to fully defrost and flavors to combine, then toss and serve. Can also be made further ahead and put in the fridge; let come to room temp and toss before serving.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mexican Stuffed Shells

Having a menu plan last week worked out great! Haven't had time to make up one for this week yet and it's going to be a crazy busy start to the week. We all decided these Mexican stuffed shells were great, a nice twist on the traditional stuffed shells. I just need to remember to get mild salsa and taco sauce for my non-heat loving hubby! I think I got medium salsa and mild taco sauce and it might have been a touch too hot for Bob but the rest of us enjoyed it. Serve this with an iceberg lettuce/tomato salad on the side.

Mexican Stuffed Shells
serves 4-5

1 lb. ground beef
1-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
salt to taste
1 c tomato sauce
4 oz cream cheese
14-16 jumbo pasta shells
1 1/2 c salsa
1 c taco sauce
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 c shredded monterey jack cheese
3 green onions
sour cream

Preheat oven to 350*.

Cook the pasta shells according to directions, drain. Meanwhile, in a skillet cook ground beef; add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander and salt to taste. Cook, stirring for 30 seconds then add the tomato sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the cream cheese, cover and simmer until cheese is melted. Blend well. Set aside to cool.

Pour salsa on bottom of 9x13 baking dish. Stuff each shell with the meat mixture. Place shells in the pan, open side up. Cover shells with taco sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, add shredded cheeses and bake for 10-15 more minutes with foil removed. Top with green onions and serve with sour cream and/or more salsa.

Note: You can replace the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and tomato sauce with a package of low-sodium taco seasoning and prepare the meat according to the package directions.

Modified from The Way to His Heart...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sesame Ginger Chicken Pasta

Yum! I got this from my cousin's wife's blog. It was easy, tasted very much like Chinese food, and was enjoyed by everyone. Next time I might add some steamed broccoli to it to make it a full meal in a dish.

Sesame Ginger Chicken Pasta
serves 6

1/2 c vegetable oil
1/3 c light soy sauce
1/4 c rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
3 Tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped
1/4 c sesame seeds
1-16 oz package rotini pasta
1/3 c chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 c sliced green onion

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine vegetable oil, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, ginger, and pepper. Shake well and set aside.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until al dente. Drain pasta and transfer to a large serving bowl.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame seeds and cook, stirring frequently until lightly toasted (keep a close eye on them, they go from lightly toasted to burned quickly!). Remove from heat and set aside. In the same skillet, cook chicken until browned and cooked through. Give the dressing another shake and add to the chicken; cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken to the pasta and toss with the sesame seeds, green onions, and cilantro to coat everything evenly.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sausages and White Beans

Another favorite that I haven't made in a while, it's also super easy and pretty quick to make. This was Rosie Jane approved tonight, she said it was one of her favorites. A recipe from my 365 Easy Italian Recipes cookbook.

Sausages and White Beans
serves 6

1 1/2 lbs lightly spiced sausage, such as luganega, cut into 2-inch pieces (I use sweet Italian sausage)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 c chopped carrot
1 c chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 16-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
salt and pepper to taste

In a nonreactive Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, turning, 5 minutes or until lightly browned all over. Add carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 25-30 minutes, or until sausage is cooked through. Add white beans and simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Menu plan

Yep, I've actually got a menu plan for this week. I'll go to the grocery store tomorrow so I can actually follow my plan.

Monday we're having Sausages and White Beans with bread. I've made this many times before and we really enjoy it. The bread I got at the farmer's market this morning.

Tuesday is a new recipe from my cousin's wife (cousin-in-law?). It's Sesame Ginger Chicken Pasta; she said it was good, we'll find out. If there's any bread left, we'll have it on the side.

Wednesday we're going out to Famous Dave's BBQ, it's a fundraiser for our church's mission team. I know the family will enjoy the ribs and other bbq delights there.

Thursday is a new recipe I found on pinterest - Mexican Stuffed Shells. I figured it's supposed to cool down later in the week so I won't mind having the oven on then.

Friday is Pizza Pockets. I was cleaning off some stuff from the DVR this afternoon and watched "The Sandwich King" episode from a while back and he made these. They looked good, really easy, and since we usually have pizza on Friday nights, it works.

I don't usually plan breakfasts or lunches, but we have plenty of stuff on hand for those meals. I haven't thought of next weekend yet, what we eat depends on what we're doing and the weather. I'll put up new recipes if they're keepers.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chicken Quesadillas

We had some chicken breasts leftover from a cookout we had Saturday night. I thought we had two but Bob had one for lunch yesterday and I didn't realize it so I only had one left. It was suggested that I make chicken quesadillas so I did a bit of looking online and found a good recipe that I tweaked and was told was a keeper. The only thing I might do differently if I wasn't using leftover chicken (that had been marinated) is to add some fajita seasoning to the skillet when cooking the veggies to give it more spice.

Chicken Quesadillas
serves 4

1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small - medium green pepper, chopped
3/4 c corn (frozen is fine, just throw it in as is)
shredded cheddar cheese
large tortillas

Cook the onion and green pepper in a skillet coated with oil to soften. Add the chicken (if desired, add fajita seasoning now) and corn, cook until both are warm.

On a tortilla, put about one quarter the chicken mixture on half the tortilla and sprinkle on some cheese (maybe a couple of tablespoons, I didn't measure) and fold the tortilla in half. Heat some oil in a large skillet and add the quesadilla. Cook on the first side until crispy, flip and cook on second side until the cheese is melted.

Slice and serve with sour cream and/or salsa.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Macaroni Salad

I can't believe that I haven't posted this recipe before since it's one of my staple summertime recipes. It goes great with anything cooked on the grill. I got this one from my mom (who always makes it as well).

Macaroni Salad

1-16 oz. box of macaroni or other shaped pasta
2 tomatoes, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
salt and sugar
celery seed

Cook the macaroni according to the package directions. When done, drain and rise in cold water to cool off. Add a couple of large spoonfuls of mayonnaise, a good shake of salt, about 2 tsp. sugar, and a couple of good shakes of celery seed. Put in the refrigerator to cool. Just before serving, add the celery and tomatoes. Mix those in and add more mayonnaise, if needed.

Easy to double for a large crowd or cut in half if you need less.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Day weekend

Memorial Day weekend is here, the first weekend of summer. It's sure going to feel like it here, hot and humid! We're having two cookouts this weekend, no new recipes though. Today is marinated chicken, bbq'd chicken, BLT pasta salad, our friends are bring baked beans, then we'll have s'mores over the fire while we watch a movie outside.

Tomorrow we're celebrating Sarah's birthday, she was 13 on Thursday. We're having country style ribs, macaroni salad, baked beans, and lemonade cake. If the cake turns out well, I'll post that recipe since that's a new one and being made by special request of the birthday girl.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Grilled Romain Hearts with Caesar Vinaigrette

Yesterday was Mother's Day and the girls always fix me dinner. When Sweet Pea was asking what I wanted (she said fish was off the table, she and Dad didn't know how to cook it), I told her it didn't really matter, whatever she fixed was fine. Then I was looking at my stack of recipes and found this one that I've wanted to try. She was game for it, especially since she was grilling the steaks. She said it was very easy.

Grilled Caesar Salad
serves 4

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
cooking or olive oil spray
2 hearts of Romaine lettuce

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, Worcestershire and pepper. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Heat the grill to medium-high and oil the grill's surface. Remove any wilted outer leaves from the romaine hearts, then cut the hearts in half length-wise leaving the end intact so each half holds together. Spray them lightly all over with the cooking spray.

Grill until grill marks form and the lettuce wilts slightly, about 6 minutes, turning once or twice. Serve drizzled with the vinaigrette.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Almond Pound Cake

I love almond pound cake! I didn't know this until I went to a friend's Tastefully Simple party and bought some. Now, I love the ease of a cake in a box, just add butter and egg, mix and bake. But I don't have a box of almond pound cake around all the time, especially since I haven't been to a TS party recently. I've been on the lookout for a good recipe so I can make one whenever I want and found one last year in Family Circle. I had an opportunity to make it yesterday for an event I was going to and it was easy and delicious.

Almond Pound Cake
serves 12

2 1/2 c flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 c granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 c milk
1 tsp almond extract

Heat oven to 350* and coat a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.  In a medium size bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add sugar and beat until light-colored, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, beat in half the flour mixture. Scrape down the side of bowl and beat in milk (carefully!). Add remaining flour mixture and the almond extract and beat until smooth. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake cake at 350* for 1 hour or until crowned and set. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert to remove and cool upright on rack.

1 c confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 Tbsp sliced almonds, lightly toasted

To make the topping, in a medium size bowl, combine confectioners' sugar, 4 teaspoons water, and the almond extract. Whisk until smooth. Spread over cooled cake and top with toasted nuts. Let icing dry at least 15 minutes before slicing.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Chinese Barbecued Pork Ribs

As usual, I had no plan for dinner tonight. That is until I was getting my hair cut. I remembered that I had seen some boneless pork ribs that I had frozen and thought that making Chinese ribs sounded good. I could serve it with fried rice, an easy, quick dinner. So I got home and perused through my Chinese cookbooks (yes, I've got a couple of those) and found an easy recipe. This is modified from A Wok For All Seasons by Martin Yan.

Chinese Barbecued Pork Ribs
serves 4

2 lbs pork spareribs or boneless country ribs
1/4 c soy sauce
3 Tbsp dry sherry
2 1/2 Tbsp ketchup
2 1/2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice
1/4 tsp salt

Trim and discard excess fat from ribs. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add ribs, turning to coat sides. Let stand for 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350*. Remove ribs from marinade; reserve marinade. Place ribs on a rack in a foil-lined pan (or do as I did and put them on a stoneware bar pan). Bake in oven for 30 minutes; turn meat over, baste with reserved marinade, and continue to bake for 25 minutes or until meat is tender.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Breakfast Quesadillas

Saw this yesterday and it sounded really good! They're super easy, made with stuff I almost always have on hand, and best of all, Sweet Pea really liked it. She's a hard one when it comes to breakfast so I'm always happy to find something she likes.

Breakfast Quesadillas
serves as many as you need it to

eggs (I used 4 for the three of us)
a splash of milk
salt and pepper, to taste
bacon or sausage (about 1 slice/person of bacon or about 1 serving size/person of sausage)
shredded cheddar cheese
tortillas (I had flour ones but corn is fine, you want the small size ones)
salsa and sour cream (optional), for serving

Cook the bacon until crispy and crumble or cook the sausage through and crumble. Set aside. Make scrambled eggs - whisk the eggs with the splash of milk and salt and pepper to taste. In a skillet, melt some butter and add the eggs. When the edges are starting to cook, stir the eggs and keep cooking and stirring until cooked. Set these aside as well.

Assemble the quesadillas - put one tortilla on a plate, top with a portion of the eggs, bacon, then cheese, top with a second tortilla. In a non-stick skillet, or one with a bit of oil, add the quesadilla. Cook on the first side for about two minutes, carefully turn over and cook the second for about two more. The fillings should be warm and the cheese melted. Cut into quarters and serve with salsa and sour cream.

This is one of those easy recipes to make for as many or few people as you want. You can make the eggs and bacon/sausage ahead of time, just cook the quesadillas for a extra minute or two to make sure the filling is warmed through.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Egg Roll Stir-fry

This is basically the insides of an egg roll as a stir fry. I found this recipe browsing pinterest one day and it looked good. Turns out, it is and it was easy enough for Sweet Pea to make it for dinner last Wednesday. Did I mention that I have the girls taking turns on Wednesday nights fixing dinner? They have to plan the menu, let me know what they need, and cook. I need to start having them help with the cleanup as well. Still a work in progress! Anyway, this is from the blog Once a Mom, Always a Cook. I modified it a bit and clarified the directions some for my beginning cook.

Egg Roll Stir-fry
serves 6

1 lb ground beef
1/2 head cabbage
3 medium carrots
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 heaping tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp sesame or vegetable oil
4-5 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Shred the cabbage (large shred is fine) into a large mixing bowl. Shred the carrots using a peeler; toss with the cabbage. Brown the ground beef in a large wok with the onion and minced garlic. Add the cabbage and carrots mixture, ginger, garlic powder, oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and pepper. Toss to mix with tongs; cover and cook over medium heat until the cabbage wilts, tossing occasionally with tongs.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Vegetable Stir Fry

I'm a little surprised at how well this went over last night! It was just something I threw together (got to get dinner on the table, you know) and they all liked it. I guess it's one I'll keep around!

Vegetable Stir Fry
serves 4

2 Tbsp. oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. minced ginger (I used a hefty squirt of minced garlic in a tube)
2 small zucchini, cut into half moons
8 oz. pkg. sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion, sliced
most of a 6 oz. pkg of baby spinach
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. sherry
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. sugar
rice for serving

Mix the soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch, and sugar together in a small bowl and set aside. Heat the oil in a wok or really large skillet. Add the garlic and ginger, stir-fry for a minute, then add the other veggies except the spinach. Stir-fry until the veggies are cooked but still crunchy. Add the spinach, stir until it starts to wilt. Make a space in the middle of the veggies and add the sauce (stir it before adding); stir the sauce until it starts to thicken, then stir everything to combine. Serve over rice.

*This can be adapted to whatever veggies you have on hand. I was going to add some thin sliced carrots but didn't have any.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter dinner

Easter dinner was really good, grilled lamb chops, grilled bacon wrapped asparagus, and roasted potatoes. We're having spice cake for dessert shortly.

the grilled lamb chops

grilled asparagus

my dinner plate
 And finally, Bob enjoying his after dinner nap in the hammock. Dinner was delicious, the weather was beautiful. Happy Easter to everyone!

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Easter is still a few days away but we have good food on the menu.

Right now I'm making hot cross buns for tomorrow's breakfast. I didn't know until a couple of years ago that they were traditionally served on Good Friday. We always had them on Easter but this year, they'll be served on Good Friday. At one point, I had a really good recipe for them that included dried apricots instead of raisins and apricot juice in the frosting. Right now I can't find it so I'm using the Pioneer Woman's recipe.

Not sure what we'll do for Easter breakfast. Bob and Rosie Jane are going to the sunrise service at 6:00 but will be home to eat and change. I'll probably do eggs of some sort. Dinner is the meal that we're all looking forward to eating! I'm making the grilled lamb chops that we had at Disney and loved. To go along with those, we'll have grilled asparagus wrapped in bacon and roasted potatoes. I've been thinking of making a daffodil cake or some other white, spring-y cake. I'd love to do something with strawberries but Sweet Pea doesn't like them and I want everyone to enjoy Sunday's dinner.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Crockpot Coconut Chicken Curry

I found this about a year ago somewhere on the Pioneer Woman's website, I think in her Tasty Kitchen. I printed it out and it got buried on my desk. No big surprise there! I found it last week when I was cleaning my desk looking for something else important that I needed and decided to made it. We all enjoyed it, except Sweet Pea. She was afraid that it would be too much coconut flavor; I didn't really taste it that strongly but she still didn't like it. I'd probably make it again but on some night when she wasn't home.

Coconut Chicken Curry
serves 6

2 lbs boneless chicken breast, cut into large pieces
1 whole onion, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 whole small green pepper, seeded and quartered
1 can tomato paste
1 can coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp garam masala*
2 Tbsp water
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch

Put chicken into the crockpot. Put the rest of the ingredients except the water and cornstarch into a food processor bowl and process together until the mix is smooth(ish). Pour sauce mix on top of the chicken, mix well. Cook on low for 6 hours.

An hour before serving, mix together water and cornstarch until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Add to the chicken curry and mix well. Place the lid back on for the rest of the cooking time.

Serve on top of steaming white rice, either jasmine or basmati rice.

*For the garam masala, I used this recipe from

1 Tbsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Mix all ingredients together. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fettuccine with Sausage, Sweet Onion, and Spinach

I clipped this from the newspaper a while back and last night seemed like a good night to try it. We all really liked it and the only real comment was that it could have used more spinach.

Fettuccine with Sausage, Sweet Onion, and Spinach
4 servings
modified from The Washington Post

8 oz dried fettuccine
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz sweet Italian sausage (I used 3 sausages), casings removed
1 large sweet onion, cur into thin slices (about 2 cups)
1/8 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 large red bell pepper, roasted and cut into 2-inch strips*
      (may substitute 3/4 c sliced jarred roasted red peppers)
6 oz package of baby spinach
3/4 c low-sodium chicken broth
grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

Cook the fettuccine according to the package directions. Drain. While the pasta cooks, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large shallow pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, breaking up any large clumps; cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until it is no longer pink. Use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a paper towel lined plate to drain and cool.

Reduce the heat to medium; add the onion to the pan; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until the onion has softened. Add the roasted bell pepper strips, spinach and broth. Use your fingers to crumble the sausage into the mixture. Increase the heat to medium-high; cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring, until the spinach wilts and the ingredients are well combined.

Add the cooked pasta and the remaining tablespoon of oil; toss to combine. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Serve, passing the grated Parmesan cheese on the side, if desired.

*To roast the bell pepper, place it on a piece of aluminum foil under the broiler, about 4 inches from the flame. Let the pepper become blistered and charred on one side, then rotate so a new side is exposed. Continue until most of the skin is charred. Don't worry if the pepper loses its form. Place the pepper in a bowl covered with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes. When the pepper is cool enough to handle, discard the skin, stem, and seeds.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chicken Jambalaya

This is a fast, easy dish to make. We enjoy it, it's not too hot and spicy for my family. This is one from my "plaid cookbook," the Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook.

Chicken Jambalaya
serves 4

1/3 c chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
1/4 c chopped onion (about 1/2 onion)
1/4 c chopped green pepper (1/2 pepper)
2 Tbsp butter
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c chicken broth
2/3 c long grain rice
1 tsp dried basil or thyme, crushed
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 to 1/2 tsp bottled hot pepper sauce
1 bay leaf
2 c cubed cooked chicken or turkey

In a large skillet cook celery, onion, and green pepper in butter till vegetables are tender. Stir in the undrained tomatoes, chicken broth, rice, basil, garlic salt, pepper, hot pepper sauce, and bay leaf. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes or till rice is tender. Stir in chicken; cook till heated through. Discard bay leaf.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chili-Mac Skillet

I made this the other night when I had no plan for dinner. Fortunately, it uses pantry staples so I had everything on hand to pull it together (except the cheese). Sweet Pea said it was really good and asked when the last time we had it was; it's been a while. This is another one from my plaid cookbook. This would be good served with cornbread or muffins.

Chili-Mac Skillet
serves 6

1 lb ground beef
3/4 c chopped onion
1 15.5 oz can red kidney beans, drained
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 c elbow macaroni (uncooked)
1 4 oz can diced green chili peppers, drained
2-3 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 c shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese

In a large skillet cook meat and onion until meat is brown. Drain fat. Stir in beans, tomato sauce, undrained tomatoes, uncooked pasta, green chilies, chili powder, garlic salt, and 1/4 c water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring often. Top with cheese. Cover and heat 2 minutes or until cheese melts.

Farmer's Markets

Do you like going to farmer's markets? We do and there's two that we go to relatively regularly, especially if you loosely interpret "regularly."

The first is Central Market in Lancaster, PA. We go there whenever we visit my dad. The girls love to go, I enjoy the atmosphere and really, if we lived a lot closer (like in Lancaster) I'd be there often, trying all sorts of stuff. It's the oldest, continuously operating farmer's market in the country. It's in an old historic brick building that they just finished renovating. The stand holders are a mix of what you would typically find in a market - lots of fruits and vegetable stands, meat stands - as well as some that are more unusual, for example there's a couple of coffee stands, The Herb Shop (a favorite of ours, he sells loose tea, spices, and a few packaged specialty items), Rafiki's Deli (they sell a variety of African food that looks really good), The German Deli (German delights), and of course there's several stands that are run by the Amish. Oh, and I can't forget the candy stand; behind The Herb Shop it's the one stand that the girls have to stop at to get their candy fix. The market is open on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and I think my dad must go all three days. He goes for his social time to see his friends, the stand holders; it's good exercise, we always walk to market when we're there (a nice walk through Lancaster), and of course, he goes to buy food.

The other market we go to is much closer to home. It's the Dale City Farmer's Market run by the rec center. This one meets outside in one of the commuter lots on Sunday mornings. During the regular year, it's open from 7am-2pm (I think). This year for the first time, they decided to try a winter market that's open from 10am-1pm and we've been a few times. They have many fewer stands but there's been a milk guy, a meat stand (they had great pork chops and I'll be going there for lamb chops for Easter), one stand with fruit (apples and pears), one or two bread/baked goods stands, and the goat's milk soap lady. There may have been one or two others; the actual stands kind of varied by week and weather. I think they probably had a successful winter trial since the weather in general wasn't too bad. Starting in early April, they'll get back to their regular schedule with the larger market - in addition to the above stands there will be lots more veggie stands, at least a couple more fruit stands, I remember a goat cheese stand, Rosie Jane's favorite is the kettle corn truck, there was also a crepe truck last fall. Last spring there was at least one stand with flowers and plants. I generally try to go every couple of weeks after church to pick up some soap, veggies, fruit, and occasionally a bag of kettle corn.

Hopefully you can find a good farmer's market near you. I can't wait until the spring market starts again!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Artichoke Dip

We don't entertain much but when we do I like to make this dip. I had to bring an appetizer type thing to my MOPS group tonight so I pulled this out. I'm not sure it was the best choice for a day that's in the low 80s but it won't be piping hot when I take it tonight.

Artichoke Dip
modified from Fresh from the Pantry by Longaberger

8 oz. cream cheese, softened, cut into cubes
1 c mayonnaise
1 c sour cream
1 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 14-oz can artichoke hearts, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/8 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor container. Process for 1 to 2 minutes or until blended. Spoon into an oiled baking dish. Bake at 375* for 45-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve with crispy crackers.

I use light mayo and sour cream and neufchatel cream cheese and it turns out fine, although the recipe recommends using regular for best results.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Asian Sloppy Joes

I found this in the Food section of the Washington Post a while back and I really like the twist it puts on sloppy joes. It's a recipe from Ming Tsai, so it's got to be good.

Asian Sloppy Joes
serves 6-8
modified from The Washington Post

2 medium red onions, cut into 1/4 inch dice (about 2 1/2 cups)
3 or 4 ribs celery, cut into small dice (about 1 cup)
6 or 7 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2-inch piece ginger root, minced or 1 Tbsp minced ginger 
1 1/2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 to 1 Tbsp hot chili sauce
1/2 to 1 c hoisin sauce
3/4 lb lean ground beef
3/4 lb ground pork
1 can diced tomatoes
1 lime
shredded lettuce
hamburger buns

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom; once the oil is hot, add the onions, celery, garlic, ginger, and hot chili sauce (to taste), stirring to coat evenly. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring, until the vegetables have started to soften.

Add the hoisin sauce and cook for 1 minute, stirring, then add the beef and pork in pinches. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring often to break up the meat, until it is no longer pink. Cut the lime in half. Add the tomatoes and their juices to the skillet, then squeeze in the juice of the lime halves. Season with pepper to taste. Stir to combine; reduce the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Some of the liquid will evaporate.

While the sloppy joe mixture is cooking, split and toast the buns. Place the bottom half on a plate, add a generous portion of the sloppy joe mixture, then some lettuce and top with the top bun. Serve hot.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

This is a dish I haven't made in a long time. Not sure why since it's one we all like. I made it last week when I was taking a meal to a friend and decided to make it for us that night as well.

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
serves 4

2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1-2 boneless chicken breasts (or thighs would work well), cut into bite size pieces
1 package of Long Grain and Wild Rice
a couple handfuls of shredded cheddar cheese

Melt butter in a skillet and add onion and rice. Cook until rice is golden and the onion is softened. Add water according to the rice package directions (about 2 cups) and the chicken. Bring to a boil and add the cheese and seasoning packet from the rice. Pour into a 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish and bake at 350* for 25-30 minutes. The rice should be soft and the chicken cooked through.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I still have no time to cook. Hopefully in a couple of weeks things will slow done and I'll be home in the afternoons and dinner time so I can start cooking again. I'm not sure anyone else will be since the girls have so many activities that fall at dinner time or just after, but I'm going to start cooking again soon!

I've been thinking of this post since last month. At the beginning of January, along with lots of New Year's resolutions, I saw many of people talking about the books they were going to read this year, either a specific list of books or a number of books per month. I do have a bunch of books on my "to read" list, but this list is my list of cookbooks to dig into this year. I have lots of cookbooks, plus tons of loose recipes. Most of the cookbooks I have I either got from my grandmother's collection or were given to me at some point. I got several new ones relatively recently that I can't wait to use (or use some more).

When Border's closed, I picked up two of Ellie Krieger's cookbooks, The Food You Crave and So Easy. I've looked through both and have found some recipes that will be good for breakfast. Since we do want to eat healthier I'm excited to look through these more.

About the same time I got Jamie's America by Jamie Oliver. I just love the food he cooks! This cookbook isn't typical of what I think of when I think of his food but I want to take a closer look at his take on some typical American dishes.

I think I got The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond at Border's along with the Ellie Krieger books. I have used this one a few times and found several more recipes that I want to make. I know she's coming out with another cookbook soon, which I can't wait for; I'll probably get that one as well. I like her home cooking, it's really my style. I just have to be careful, some of her dishes are really good, but not so good for you.

Giada's Family Dinners is the last one on my list (at least for now). This one by Giada de Laurentiis was a Christmas present. I've had time to look through it, find some things that I know we'll like and I want to try. Now I just need to find the time for a family dinner so I can try some of her recipes.

I think all these cookbooks, except maybe Jamie's America, have easy to make food that my family is going to like. Some of Jamie's recipes look a bit more complicated and some include stuff, like spices, that my meat and potatoes man doesn't care for although if I cook it, he'll eat it. As we go through the year and I make some yummy food from my new cookbooks, I'll come back and give a review on how the dishes tasted and how my family liked them.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chicken Soup

I've caught the cold the rest of the family has had for a few days and decided some chicken soup would be good for dinner. This is a super quick, easy recipe, nothing fancy or long cooked about it.

Chicken Soup
serves 6

1-2 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 box low sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
salt, pepper, basil
cooked noodles

In a soup pot, cook the onions, chicken, garlic, carrots, and celery in some oil until the onion is softened and the chicken is cooked through. Add the chicken broth and water, season to taste with salt and pepper and a couple shakes of basil. Stir and bring to a boil; turn down the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Serve the soup over a portion of noodles.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Apple Pancake

This is one of those special occasion breakfasts, or a "just because" breakfast when we have time. How can you miss with apples and a nice, poufy pancake? You can't!

Apple Pancake
from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham
serves about 3-4

6 Tbsp butter
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 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-inch skillet or shallow pan and take off the heat. If the handle of the skillet is not ovenproof, wrap it with several layers of foil.  Remove 2 tablespoons of the 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 their shape.

In a separate bowl (or blender or food processor) combine the eggs, salt, flour, milk, and the reserved 2 tablespoons of 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.

Notes: I use one of my cast iron skillets so no worries in the oven. I also have never been able to flip the pancake out, so I just cut and serve from the skillet. I also like to use as few dishes as possible, so I melt 4 tablespoons of butter in the skillet, mix up the apples and dump them in, then use the same bowl (microwave safe) and melt the rest of the butter and mix the batter in there. I realized this morning that I got an immersion blender for Christmas that came with a bowl and whisk and should have used that to mix the batter. Oh well, next time.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Not sure why, but I've had whoopie pies on my mind recently and really wanted to try them. Since we don't really need a bunch hanging around, I had to wait for an "event" to make them. Perfect opportunity came up with the church youth group's Super Bowl party. I went with red velvet since Rosie Jane loves red velvet and since they're red, it worked well with Sweet Pea and Bob's love of the New England Patriots. Sadly, we got no love back from them last night.

I used my best friend Google to find a recipe. I thought about using Paula Deen's except she didn't have a cream cheese filling. With red velvet, you must have cream cheese filling so I kept looking. I found this recipe from the Brown Eyed Baker, which does have cream cheese filling.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
modified from browneyedbaker

makes 2 dozen whoopie pies

For the pies:
3 cups flour, sifted
1/2 c cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c vegetable shortening
1/2 c brown sugar
1 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp red food coloring
1 c buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350* and line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Beat the butter, shortening, and both sugars on low speed until just combined.  Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 5 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the vanilla and the red food coloring and beat until just blended.

Add half of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk to the batter and beat on low until just incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the remaining flour mixture and buttermilk and beat until completely combined.

Using a medium cookie scoop, drop a tablespoon of batter onto one of the prepared baking sheets and repeat, spacing them at least 2 inches apart.  Bake one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes each, or until the cakes spring back when pressed gently.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

While the cakes are cooling, prepare the filling....

For the cream cheese filling:
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
4 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed.  Add the sugar and beat on low speed until combined.  Add the vanilla and increase the speed to medium-high; beat until creamy and smooth, about 4 minutes.

To assemble:  spread the filling onto the flat side of one cake using a knife or back of a spoon. Top with another cake, flat side down.  Repeat with the rest of the cakes and filling.

To store:  Assembled whoopie pies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days (like they'll last that long).  If you need to stack layers, place a piece of wax paper between layers.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Beer Burgers

We have been SO busy recently! I haven't been cooking much but when I have, I've been throwing stuff together mostly from what I have at the house. I haven't really had time to do a good grocery store run. We'll survive until March when things slow down.

Tonight is beer burgers and steak fries.  I got this recipe from my brother who made it one time when we were visiting.  Sweet Pea really liked it when we were out there so I had to get it from him

Beer burger sliders
Beer Burgers
serves 4

1 lb hamburger
1/2 c ketchup
1/2 c good beer
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar (either brown or white)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
French bread slices

Brown the hamburgers on both sides.  Mix the rest of the ingredients except the French bread together for the sauce.  Pour the sauce over the burgers.  Simmer until the hamburgers are done as you like them.  Slice the French bread and toast, put a burger on top and pour the sauce over.

I don't usually do the French bread (I don't like soggy bread) but the burgers are good on the bread or just plain.

Updated 10/7/13.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Coffee Cake

Both the girls were away this past weekend so Bob and I really relaxed, especially in the realm of cooking.  This morning Rosie Jane asked for something yummy for breakfast. I suggested a coffee cake and she said that sounded good and she wanted the one with the crunchy topping. Easy enough to do. This recipe actually comes from two different sources, the coffee cake is from my Fanny Farmer Cookbook and the topping is from The Joy of Cooking. Put together they make a yummy breakfast.

Coffee Cake
modified from The Fanny Farmer Cookbook

1 c sugar
1 3/4 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 Tbsp butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c milk

Preheat the oven to 375* and butter an 8-inch square cake pan.  Mix the sugar, flour and baking powder in a large bowl.  Work in the butter with your fingers or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the egg and milk and blend.  Spoon into the pan.  Sprinkle on the topping.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Streusel Topping
modified from The Joy of Cooking

1/3 c flour
1/3 c finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/3 c brown sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt

Blend with a fork or pulse in a food processor untl the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sweet Potatoes

Last night's dinner almost falls into the category of epic fail and I was looking forward to it, too!  It was spicy pasta with sweet potatoes and I saved it for last night because it was supposed to just be Rosie Jane and me home for dinner.  As it turned out the other two were home as well and Bob doesn't like spicy and Sweet Pea doesn't like sweet potatoes.  They ended up with leftovers as I still made this.  The spicy pasta part just didn't taste that great.  I don't like peanut butter and the pasta had a peanut butter/cream cheese/Sriracha/soy sauce sauce.  I figured I'd give it a try since overall it sounded good but the sauce was too creamy, I think.  Neither one of us really liked it.  On the other hand, the sweet potatoes were good.  We decided that we'd try them again, maybe as sweet potato fries or even like this again.

Sweet Potatoes

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes or sticks
1/2 tsp each sugar, chili powder, and cinnamon
1 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 450*.  oil a rimmed baking pan; set aside.  Place sweet potato cubes in a bowl.  Toss with the other ingredients.  Spread in prepared pan; bake 20 minutes or until tender.  May need longer or shorter if you do something besides the cubes.