Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve Menu

We're having some friends over tonight for snacks and games, and hopefully to stay up late enough to watch the ball fall in NYC. They're bring something dessert-y to add to the table.

I've made the sparkling cranberries that have been a hit so far when I've made them. I also made the margarita fruit dip that I really enjoyed at bible study a few months ago. I cheated on the veggie/chip dip and bought a French onion dip from the store. I still need to cut up the fruit and veggies and put out all the food, including the chips and the bean dip. To drink, we've got lemonade or apple cider. Should be a fun evening!

Happy New Year to all!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Doing Some Meal Planning

I'm working on some meal planning for Christmas and New Year's. The biggest thing right now is finding time to get to the grocery store before Christmas Eve! We decided, well, I decided a few years ago that I wanted to enjoy Christmas with everyone and didn't want to be stuck in the kitchen. So now we have our big, fancy Christmas meal on Christmas Eve before we go to church at 8:00. Christmas day is something easy that can be eaten whenever anyone gets hungry for lunch. For the past several years we've had chili, but I'm changing things up this year and everyone seems to be on board (helps that it's one of their favorite meals).

So Christmas Eve will be roast beef, scalloped or au gratin potatoes (a Pioneer Woman recipe) and green beans with wine or apple cider to drink and buche de Noel for dessert. Christmas morning breakfast will be some sort of egg casserole, probably not my favorite one, but one I've made recently that everyone seems to like. Food later will be mac and cheese and a new recipe for bacon and Brussels sprout salad. Hopefully I can make both ahead of time on either Sunday or Tuesday morning.

I was also thinking a bit today about New Year's Eve and day. I like my recipe for hoppin' John so we'll have that on the first, probably with a pork roast and maybe broccoli or a salad. For New Year's Eve, I was thinking of making burgers and baked potato casserole. I'm going to take a look at my apps & snacks board over on pinterest and see what I can find that looks good to make for the evening. Not sure what our plans are yet, but we might have a game night with snacks until midnight. After the ball falls, we'll all be heading to bed!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sparkling Cranberries

My sister made this recipe from Southern Living over Thanksgiving. Oh, my gosh! These are so addictive! The sweet syrup and sugar against the sour cranberries is perfect. The note on the recipe says they can be served with baked Brie or as a garnish on cakes or pies, but they're also super good just eating them out of hand.

Sparkling Cranberries
makes 2 cups

1 c pure maple syrup
2 c fresh cranberries
1 c sugar
parchment paper

Cook maple syrup in a saucepan over medium-low heat 1 to 2 minutes (don't let the syrup get too hot or the cranberries will pop). Remove from heat and stir in cranberries. Cover and chill 8 to 12 hours. Place sugar in a baking dish. Drain cranberries in a colander then add a few cranberries at a time to the sugar; gently toss to coat. Place cranberries in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet; repeat with remaining cranberries. Let stand until completely dry.

Note: I used a full bag of cranberries instead of just 2 cups, kept the rest of the ingredients the same.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Char Siu Pork

This is one of the recipes that inspired me to start my blog. I got it from someone on the Sonlight Forums (a homeschool curriculum company that I use), emailed it to myself and printed it out. It sits in the stack of other printed out recipes, recipes torn out of magazines, and ones I scribbled on scrap paper. Which makes finding it when I want it a challenge. I can't believe that I mentioned it in my opening post and still haven't shared it. Just found the recipe again since we're going to be making it tonight (very modified though) and it needs to be here!

Char Siu Pork
(or more commonly known in our house as Chinese pulled pork)

1/4 c low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 c hoisin sauce
3 Tbsp Ketchup
3 Tbsp honey
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1/2 tsp five-spice powder
2 lbs boneless Boston butt pork roast, trimmed
1/2 c fat-free, less sodium chicken broth

Combine first 8 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well. Place in a large ziplock bag. Add pork to bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator at least 2 hours, turning occasionally.

Place pork and marinade in a crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Remove pork from crockpot using a slotted spoon; place on a cutting board or work surface. Cover with aluminum foil; keep warm.

Add broth to sauce in slow cooker. cover and cook on high for 30 minutes or until sauce thickens. Shred pork with 2 forks; serve with sauce.

Notes: I tend to forget to start this early enough to marinate it but it still turns out really good. I serve it with a side of rice and a veggie.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

This recipe is a mix-up of two different ones. We usually have it at my dad's and everyone loves it.

Chicken and Broccoli

Preheat oven to 350*.

2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 c mayonnaise
1 beef bouillon cube dissolved in 1 soup can of water
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Mix soup and mayonnaise together, add lemon juice and water. Stir well; set aside.

Other stuff
2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-1 1/2 inch chunks
2 stalks broccoli, cut into chunks and flowerets
1 box wild rice mix (original)
2 c. grated cheddar
1 c. bread crumbs
2 or more pats of butter

Cover bottom of 9x13 pan with about 1/2 the sauce; sprinkle rice over the sauce. Arrange chicken pieces and broccoli chunks on top. Sprinkle with the flavoring packet from the rice. You can add some dried parsley or 1 can of drained mushrooms. Cover with remaining sauce; sprinkle with the cheese. Cover with the breadcrumbs. Chope butter into bean-sized chunks and sprinkle on crumbs. Cover and bake about 1 hour. Uncover during the last 15 minutes of cooking to let crust brown. Let sit a few minutes before serving.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Chili

My aunt and uncle are in town visiting and my mom invited us up for dinner. I ended up making dinner for all of us and made both the Three Bean Chili and this recipe since they are vegetarians. This was really good! Just the right hint of spice and heat, balanced by a touch of sweet. I had just enough leftover to eat for lunch today.

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Chili
slightly modified from The Hearty Herbivore

1 large onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 heaping tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder
1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
1 15-oz can chili beans
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can fiesta corn (corn with diced red peppers)
1 4-oz can green chilis
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
cilantro, for garnish

In a large stockpot, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until onion is translucent. Add cocoa powder, cinnamon, and chili powder and saute one more minute.

Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until all are combined. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat, serve hot and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pumpkin Pancakes

I decided to give pumpkin pancakes a try this morning for a change of pace for our Thursday morning pancakes. Usually we do plain or chocolate chip, sometimes blueberry, sometimes buttermilk. I had some leftover pumpkin from something else I made earlier and wanted to use it before it started to grow something. These were just as quick and easy as any other pancakes I've made. And they're lowfat to boot!

Pumpkin Pancakes

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

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Combine the egg, oil, milk, and pumpkin in a small bowl then add to the dry ingredients. Let sit 5 minutes to combine.

To a hot, buttered* skillet/griddle pan, add about 1/4 c batter for each pancake. Turn pancakes when bubbles appear and edges are cooked, about 2 minutes. Cook on second side about 1 1/2 minutes. Serve with butter and syrup.

*these did seem to stick more than "regular" pancakes so you may need to rebutter/spray your griddle in between batches of pancakes

Friday, October 4, 2013

Brisket Tacos

Brisket tacos are Whitney's favorite dish at On the Border; it's what she always orders when we go there. I figured I'd give them a try at home and they were actually pretty easy, if a bit messy, to make. They're just brisket and onion strings with bbq sauce in a tortilla. She said that mine tasted just as good as the ones at On the Border, the only difference was that the bbq sauce was a bit sweeter than what they use (it is her favorite sauce, though).

Brisket Tacos

1 2-3 lb brisket
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp chili powder
3 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz. beef broth
water, if needed

onion strings (recipe below)
taco size flour tortillas
favorite bbq sauce (we used KC Masterpiece Hickory Brown Sugar)

Season the brisket with salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic. Put in a crockpot, add the beef broth, and if needed some water to cover. Cook on low for about 8 hours. Remove from the crockpot and let rest for 15 minutes. Slice against the grain (1/8-1/4" thick).

To serve, put heat tortillas according to the package. Place 2-3 slices of meat on half the tortilla, top with onion strings, and bbq sauce. Enjoy!

Onion Strings
from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

1 or 2 large onions
2 c butermilk
2 c flour
1 scant Tbsp salt
black pepper
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
canola oil for frying

Peel the onion and slice very thin. Separate the onion slices and place them in a shallow dish; pour buttermilk over them. Press the onions down so they're submerged and let them soak for at least an hour.

In a bowl, combine the flour, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Pour 1 to 2 quarts of canola oil into a pot and heat to 375*. Using tongs, remove a handful of onions from the buttermilk and dunk into the flour mixture. Coat the onions in the flour mixture, then tap them to shake off the excess. Plunge the onions into the hot oil. With a spoon, break them apart, then watch closely. When they're golden brown, remove them from the oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining onion slices and serve immediately.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Food Disappointment

Ever hear raving reviews about a restaurant/food place, then go and you find it doesn't live up to the hype? Yep, we've been there.

There's a little general store in a small town that we have passed for years on the way to drop our girls off at summer camp. They have a grill/smoker out front and the food they cook on it smells really good. Really good. This year we drove out there twice a week since Whitney was working there and Sarah went to camp the one week Whitney was off. Smelling that twice a week was really tempting and we decided we should stop by sometime and see what smelled so good.

Sometime last year there was a review of the food in The Washington Post. The article talked about the owners of the general store, the guy who works there and runs the grill. Turns out he's a vegetarian and doesn't eat meat so he's never had the food that he cooks. They also reviewed the food and gave it pretty high marks; this really got me interested in trying it this past summer.

So on one of our last trips out to camp, we stopped for lunch. Smelled so good. We went in, the guy was super friendly, talked a mile a minute. We tasted some samples and it was good. Turns out the sample taste was better than the whole dish.

We got a rack of ribs, mac & cheese, baked beans, and coleslaw. The ribs were ok; there was something weird in the spices in the rub though. After the first rib or two, they weren't as good as we thought. The bbq sauce he made was great. The baked beans were nothing special, the mac & cheese was supposed to be a four cheese mac and cheese but it was that odd orange color. My baked beans and mac & cheese are much better than what we got there.

While we were in the store waiting for our food, a local came in and asked if it was our first time. We said yes and she told us we'd be back. I really don't think we will be. I think we'll just enjoy the smell as we drive by next summer.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Caramel Apple Pull-Apart Bread

I think I came across this recipe last fall, never made it while it was cool, and obviously wasn't going to make it this summer. It's a great "welcome to fall" bread, good for either breakfast or as a dessert. Not too hard to make, but I thought that I could have used another set of hands for the layering part. It was quite tasty!

Caramel Apple Pull-Apart Bread
from Alaska from Scratch

For the dough:

1/4 cup warm water
2-1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup milk
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (plus 1/4 cup or more, if needed)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

For the filling:
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large tart apple, peeled, cored, and diced (Golden Delicious or Granny Smith recommended)

For the caramel glaze:
 2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Combine warm water and yeast in a mixing bowl. Heat milk and butter together until the butter is melted but not too hot. Add the vanilla.

Add flour, sugar, and salt on top of the water/yeast mixture in the mixing bowl. Using a dough hook, turn the mixer on low, add the eggs and stream in the butter/milk, mixing until a soft dough forms. Add the extra flour (as necessary) by tablespoonfuls until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and forms a ball. Knead for 3 minutes. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, about 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt for the filling. Set aside. Prepare the apple and melt butter just before the dough is done rising. Grease a standard 9x5 loaf pan.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and roll into a large rectangle, roughly 12x24. It doesn't need to be perfect and it will be thin.

Brush the dough with the melted butter, then spread the brown sugar mixture over the whole thing. Using a pizza wheel, cut the dough into long strips (I did four). Sprinkle the first strip with 1/4th of the apples, layer on another strip* and another share of apples. Repeat until all the layers are stacked.

Cut the stack into 4-6 squares of roughly equal size (4-5 inches). Stack the squares vertically into the prepared loaf pan. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350* and bake on the middle rack 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden and it is cooked through. If it gets too brown on top before it's done baking, cover it loosely with foil.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the caramel sauce - add the butter, brown sugar, and milk to a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Turn the bread out onto a wire rack over parchment paper. Drizzle the loaf with the caramel sauce. Best eaten the day it's made, but it still tastes good a day or two later (if it lasts that long).

*this is where I could have used another set of hands

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Potato Bacon Casserole

I'm always looking for good breakfast recipes and I found this one on Pinterest. My kids don't like cold cereal, I don't like having muffins, coffee cake, and all those yummy but carb filled breakfasts every day. I also have one that doesn't really like to eat breakfast at all so I need to find things that will appeal to her in her mostly sleepy state at the breakfast table. Guess it's good we homeschool so they have a chance to wake up and can eat a bit later.

Potato Bacon Casserole
serves 6

4 c frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1/2 c chopped onion (1/2 medium onion)
8 oz. bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1 2 tsp seasoned salt

Preheat oven to 350* and grease 8-inch square baking dish.

Layer 1/2 potatoes, 1/2 onion, 1/2 bacon, and 1/2 cheese in baking dish; repeat layers. Combine evaporated milk, egg, and seasoned salt in a small bowl Pour evenly over potato mixture; cover.

Bake 55-60 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving. It may need a bit more baking time for the middle to set.

Modified from a recipe on the Nestle Kitchens website.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Frosty Strawberry Squares

This is a summer dessert that Sarah and I love but this is the first time I've made it this year. <sad face> I ran across the recipe the other day and decided to make it before we dive headfirst into apples and pumpkins. The last burst of strawberry goodness will be nice this evening since it's a hot day. I will warn you though that it can make a mess when you're whipping the egg whites and strawberries together.

Frosty Strawberry Squares
from the Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook
serves 12-16

1 c flour
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c butter, melted
1/4 c packed brown sugar
2 egg whites
2 c sliced strawberries
1 c sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 c whipping cream

For crumb mixture, combine flour, nuts, butter, and brown sugar. Spread evenly into a shallow baking pan. Bake in a 350* oven for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle 2/3 of the crumbs into a 13x9x2 baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg whites, strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Beat with mixer on high speed about 10 minutes or till stiff peaks form. In another mixing bowl, beat the whipping cream till soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream into strawberry mixture. Spoon evenly over crumbs in baking pan; sprinkle remaining crumbs on top. Cover and freeze at least 6 hours or until firm.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

BLT Pasta Salad

This is another super easy summer pasta salad. I think I got the recipe from one of the Pasta Shoppe packages. I'm making it for our Labor Day cookout (not on Labor Day), which also happens to be National Bacon Day.

BLT Pasta Salad

16 oz. pasta, any shape is fine; I usually use rotini or bow ties, wagon wheels would be good as well
2 green peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 pound bacon, cooked and cut into pieces
salt and pepper

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and run under cold water to cool. Toss with the peppers and tomatoes. Add mayonnaise to your liking and salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving add the bacon and stir again, adding more mayo if needed.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

As most of us do at one time or another (or quite often) I had some bananas that were past the point that anyone in our house would eat. I made some banana bread the other day and usually make muffins but had cake on my mind today. It made a great dessert for Sunday dinner. After a short search, I found this really easy, quick recipe from the Brown Eyed Baker blog. Just a note about the frosting, you can double the recipe easily and that will actually take it to what she had on her blog. Although I love cream cheese frosting, I found that half the recipe (which you'll find below) was perfect.

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
serves about 12

For the cake:
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 c sugar
1/4 c vegetable oil
2 eggs
4 ripe bananas, mashed
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c buttermilk

For the frosting:
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 c unsalted butter, at room temperature
pinch salt
2 c powdered sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375*. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Using a mixer, beat the sugar and oil together on medium speed until completely combined. Add both eggs and beat, then add the mashed bananas and vanilla; beat until combined. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, mixing until combined. Pour into pan.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set on a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and salt. Gradually add the powdered sugar until it has all been combined. Add the vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy.

Spread the frosting over cooled cake, cut into squares and serve. Leftovers should be covered with plastic wrap and kept at room temperature or in the fridge for up to four days.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Crockpot Baked Potatoes

Thanks to Lynn's Kitchen Adventures, I know now about making baked potatoes in the crockpot. Never would have thought of it, but it sure is a great way to make baked potatoes in the summer. I also think it will be nice in the winter, throw them in at breakfast, eat at lunch.

Crockpot Baked Potatoes

Four baking potatoes fit nicely in the bottom of my crock. I'm not sure how it would work if you stacked them, they'd probably need to cook all day. You'll have to figure out how many will fit in your crock.

Wash the potatoes and stab them with a fork a few times. Rub with olive oil, put in the crock and sprinkle with sea salt. You can also salt first, then wrap in foil. Cook on high 6-7 hours.

Steak and Spinach Pinwheel with crockpot baked potato

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

I had a hankering for some homemade ice cream the other night. We've got a small ice cream maker, which works great. The only problem I ran into was that it was filled with an inch of ice (it has a canister you have to put in the freezer and somehow it got a bunch of water in it). Once that defrosted and I could get it out, I refroze the container and we were good to go.

Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
makes 1 quart

1 1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1/4 c mini chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions, stirring in the chips towards the end (before it gets too hard).

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cucumber Salad

I'm not sure you could really call this a "salad" since it's really just marinated cucumbers but that's what it was called in the cookbook. It came from a Swedish cookbook my mom has and it's one we've enjoyed for years. The nice, cool, crisp cucumbers really are enjoyable during the hot summer months.

Cucumber Salad

2 cucumbers, thinly sliced
1/2 c vinegar
1 1/2 c water
1/2 c sugar
chopped parsley for garnish

Mix vinegar, water, and sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the sliced cucumber to the marinade and chill in the fridge for several hours. You can reuse the marinade.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Blueberry Buckle

I got this recipe from friends several (many) years ago when I was still working. Kevin must have brought it in to the office one morning when we were doing a potluck and I got the recipe from his wife. A yummy way to use the abundant blueberries at this time of year.

Blueberry Buckle

2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c shortening or butter
1 egg
1/2 c milk
2 c blueberries

1/2 c brown sugar
1/3 c flour
1/2 - 1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c soft butter

For the cake part, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a small bowl. Cream the sugar and shortening or butter. Add the egg and milk. Mix in the dry ingredients. Fold in the blueberries. Spread into a greased 9" pan.

Mix together the topping ingredients with a pastry blender. Sprinkle on top of the blueberry mixture.

Bake at 375* for 45-50 minutes until cake tests done.

You can also double this for a 9x13 pan.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Chicken and Sausage Skewers

This recipe is from the Food section of The Washington Post from a few years ago. I saw it, thought it sounded good, made it a few times and found it to be delicious, then forgot about it. For some reason it came to mind again last month, but it took me a while to find the recipe. Turns out it was in my recipe box. I made it a few weeks ago for the family and again Saturday night when we had friends over. It was a big hit both times. So glad I found it again.

Chicken and Sausage Skewers
serves 6

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 c mild olive oil
1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 to 2 lbs mild link sausage*

In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, mustard, vinegar, oregano, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Pour the mixture into a large ziploc bag and add the chicken pieces. Close the bag and gently shake to combine thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours.

If using precooked sausage, cut into 3/4 inch pieces and refrigerate until ready to use. If using fresh sausage, poach the sausages in simmering water for 20 to 25 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the water and let cool, then cut into 3/4 inch pieces and refrigerate until ready to use.

Prepare the grill. On one skewer thread a piece of chicken, then sausage (sideways, through the skin), repeat ending with a piece of chicken until you have skewered all the meat. Cook on the grill over medium heat about 6 minutes per side.

*You can use any type of sausage you like, pork, turkey, chicken sausage w/seasoning, or sweet Italian, which is what I usually use.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

We made these tonight for Sarah to take to bible study with the youth. I snuck one before she left and I think they'd be a fun eat for a snack or appetizer or they'd make a great lunch with a salad. They're also quick and easy, bonus! We found this on Pinterest.

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs
makes 24

3/4 c flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
pinch of salt
pinch of red pepper
3/4 c milk
1 egg
1 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 c cubed pepperoni (I cut sliced pepperoni into quarters)
1/2 c pizza sauce

Preheaet the oven to 375*. Grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, Italian seasoning, salt and red pepper flakes; whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella, Parmesan, and pepperoni; let stand for 10 minutes.

Stir the batter and put into the pan. Bake until puffed and golden, 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile, microwave the pizza sauce until warmed through. Serve the puffs with the pizza sauce for dipping.

Note: we had extra batter and made one in a regular size muffin pan. You could make these regular size; if you do, you'll need to bake them for 5-8 minutes longer.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Taco Pasta Bake

I'll apologize up front for no picture today. Whitney made this for Bible study last night, I got some before she walked out the door with it and it was gone when she got home...hungry teens and all. It was really good though and super easy to make. Another alternative for Taco Tuesday.

Taco Pasta Bake
serves 6

1/2 box of large pasta (ziti or rigatoni are good)
1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 package of taco seasoning (or the equivalent amount of homemade)
1 c water
4 oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 c shredded cheddar or Mexican blend shredded cheese

Cook pasta until just done, drain, and quickly rinse. Meanwhile, brown ground beef and onion. Mix together the taco seasoning and water and pour over the cooked meat. Let simmer about 5 minutes. Add the cream cheese, stir until melted and combined. Put the pasta into a 9x13 dish and stir in 1 cup of cheese. Top with the meat mixture and stir carefully until the pasta is coated. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake at 350* for about 30 minutes. You may want to cover it in the beginning to prevent drying out.

I found this recipe on Pinterest, from this blog.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Camping food

Now that we're finally getting into some warmer weather, our family's thoughts have turned to camping. We're planning on one big family vacation this summer and a few shorter trips. We tent camp and cook over a Coleman stove, sometimes a campfire. When we're camping, we usually keep things pretty simple, partly due to what we can cook on, partly because we usually want something quick. We spend time hiking, sightseeing, enjoying the day, and don't have the energy at the end of the day for something much more than hot dogs and beans or spaghetti. I'll be posting a few of our favorite camping recipes as the summer progresses. Tonight's is one that I found online, s'mores trail mix.

S'mores Trail Mix
makes lots

1 small box of Golden Grahams
1 bag mini marshmallows
1 bag chocolate chips

Mix all together in a large container. Portion out into sandwich or snack bags to take with you on a hike.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Chicken Enchiladas

I found this recipe a year or more ago and have made it several times. It's pretty easy and the family always likes it. It's from Eat at Home and it's another that doesn't have specific measurements. For the four of us, I use two chicken breasts, a whole can of chilies, and it makes 7-8 enchiladas. You can check out her blog for detailed pictures.

Last night for Cinco de Mayo I served the enchiladas with Mexican black beans and rice. The enchilada isn't pretty in the picture but it sure tasted good!

Chicken Enchiladas
serves 5-6

cooked chicken, shredded or chopped
enchilada sauce, either homemade or store bought
shredded cheddar cheese
small can of diced green chilies

Mix the chicken, chilies, and cheese together. Spray a casserole dish (I use a 9x13 dish) with non-stick spray. Spread a layer of enchilada sauce over the bottom of the dish. Put some of the chicken mixture onto a tortilla, roll up, and put into the baking dish. Repeat until you've used up all the chicken (if you have more chicken than you need, you can freeze the extra chicken or if you have too many enchiladas, you can start a second pan). Spread more enchilada sauce over the top and cover with more cheese. Bake at 350* for about an hour.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Busy Day in the Kitchen

Today was a busy day in the kitchen. We had several bananas that needed to be used and I was tired of banana muffins. I didn't really feel like banana bread either, especially since I have to make some later this week. I found a recipe for banana cake so made that. I was looking around for frosting since the recipe made two round layers. At first I thought I might go with a cream cheese frosting (that goes with banana cake, right?) but then I looked in another cookbook. The banana cake there called for chocolate ganache glaze/frosting. That sounded really good so that's what I went with. We like to occasionally snack on bananas with chocolate so I knew that would work. It was yummy!

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, a holiday all about the food (really, there's no other good reason for it), I made chicken enchiladas, with Mexican black beans and rice. The enchiladas were good, I've made them several times (and am surprised to see that I hadn't put the recipe here yet) and the family likes them. The black beans were pretty good but I was the only one that liked them. Trying to bring some variety to their lives; they appreciate it, but don't always like it. I'll have recipes up soon.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Margarita Fruit Dip

I had this at Bible study last week and it was really good. Then this week I had to bring some snacks to our MOPS meeting at church and thought they would like this. It was a big hit and really easy to make. It goes great with any sort of sliced/chunk fruit - melons, strawberries, blackberries, kiwi, bananas. It does make a lot, so be prepared!

Margarita Fruit Dip

1 8oz. package room temperature cream cheese
1/2 of a 15 oz. can of cream of coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 container cool whip (not frozen)

Mix the cream cheese, cream of coconut, and condensed milk together in a mixer until well blended. Fold in the cool whip. Serve with sliced fruit.

*you can use low-fat/no-fat cream cheese, condensed milk, and cool whip

Monday, March 25, 2013

Honey Lime Shrimp

I made this over the weekend while the seafood haters were out of town. It made just enough for the two of us that were home. It's a definite keeper! They're sweet with a little zing from the lime and red pepper flakes.

Honey Lime Shrimp
serves 2

1/2 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 c olive oil
2 Tbsp honey
juice and zest of a small lime
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

In a medium ziplock bag, combine the marinade ingredients. When well combined, add the shrimp and make sure they all get covered with the marinade. Squeeze out as much air as possible and put in the fridge for 30-60 minutes, flipping every so often to make sure all the shrimp get covered in marinade.

Take the shrimp out of the fridge and let them sit out for 10 minutes. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat (no need to add oil or butter, there's plenty to keep the shrimp from sticking in the marinade). Add the shrimp in a single layer, trying not to crowd them. Cook for a minute or so on the first side, until they are pick and the edges start to curl; flip over and cook for another 30-60 seconds (I actually had to cook mine a bit longer). Remove from the pan and serve immediately.

I found this recipe originally on The Dough Will Rise Again.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Baked Potato Casserole

Yes, we've still been eating, just been incredibly busy. Nothing really creative or new about most anything I've been making recently. I'm just happy most days to get a decent dinner made and on the table or into a thermos. I was clipping some coupons this weekend and came across this baked potato casserole recipe. Since Bob is a meat-and-potatoes man and Whitney loves baked potatoes, I knew this would be a hit at our house. After a long day of snowboarding/skiing and working at the grill, they came home to steak and baked potato casserole.

Baked Potato Casserole
serves 6

8 medium potatoes (about 2.5-3 lbs total), peeled and cut into chunks
1 c evaporated milk
1/2 c light sour cream
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, divided
sliced green onions, optional (I used 3)

Place potatoes in a large pot. cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes or until tender; drain. Preheat oven to 350*. Grease 2.5-3 quart casserole dish.

Return potatoes to saucepan; add evaporated milk, sour cream, salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher until smooth. Stir in 1 1/2 c cheese and half of the bacon. Spoon mixture into casserole dish.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through. top with remaining 1/2 c cheese, remaining bacon, and green onions. Bake for an additional 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Tastes just like a baked potato, but in casserole form.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bean and Bacon Soup

Found this on Lynn's Kitchen Adventures and thought it sounded good. I had planned it for last night, then it was 70* yesterday, not exactly a day for soup. But by dinner time the rain was coming down and it was fine. I thought it needed more molasses flavor but it tasted good and everyone seemed to like it. I served it with Boston brown bread.

Bean and Bacon Soup
serves 5-6

3 cans navy or other white beans, drained and rinsed 
        (or 4 1/2 c dried beans, soaked and cooked)*
1/2 lb bacon, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 can chicken broth
3 Tbsp molasses
2 c milk

Cook the diced bacon in a skillet until it starts to render the fat and turn crisp, then add the onion. Cook until the bacon is crisp and the onion is soft and slightly browned. Put the beans, bacon and onion, chicken broth, and molasses into the crockpot and stir well. Cook on low for 2-3 hours. Add the milk, stir, and cook 30-40 minutes until heated through. Salt to taste and serve.

*I soaked and cooked a 1 pound package of Great Northern beans, then measured out the 4 1/2 cups; the rest went into a container for the freezer. I'm not sure how much dried beans equals 4 1/2 cups.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Red Beans and Rice Soup

I found this in the Food section of the paper a week or two ago and it was a big hit here. It sounded really good and not quite as spicy as red beans and rice. It's actually very mild, described as "kid-friendly" which means that it's husband friendly in our house. For those that like it a bit more heat, just add some hot sauce to your dish.

Red Beans and Rice Soup
serves 10-12

1 pound dried red beans, picked over, then soaked for at least 8 hours or overnight, rinsed
1 Tbsp olive oil
6-8 oz smoked turkey kielbasa, diced
1 onion, chopped
3/4 c diced celery (from 2-3 ribs)
1/2 c diced red bell pepper (from 1 small pepper)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
7 c homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth, more as needed
2/3 c raw basmati or jasmine rice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Place the beans in a large soup pot and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for about 1 hour, adjusting the heat to keep the liquid barely bubbling, just until the beans are al dente, or firm to the bite. Drain in a colander, discarding the cooking liquid.

Return the empty pot to the stove over medium heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the kielbasa and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, brown sugar, thyme, and bay leaves. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the vinegar and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, then add the broth, beans, and rice. Cook uncovered, keeping the liquid barely bubbling, until the rice is cooked, 30 to 45 minutes, adding broth if the soup seems too chunky. Season with the salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaves. Serve hot.

The soup can be frozen up to 3 months. 

from The Washington Post

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chicken Nuggets

I've been meaning to post recipes for the yummy desserts that I've made this week, the butterscotch brownies and the brownie pudding, but life has taken over briefly. I made these chicken nuggets today for lunch. I don't know why I don't make them more often, they're pretty easy and are probably so much better for you. I've changed up the original recipe quite a bit, making it easier. It's from my red, plaid BH&G New Cookbook.

Chicken Nuggets
serves 4

3 Tbsp melted butter
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 pkg. chicken tenders (or 2 whole large chicken breasts), cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 c bread crumbs or panko
1/3 c grated Parmesan cheese

In a bowl stir together the butter and Worcestershire sauce. Add chicken and toss to coat. In a plastic bag stir together the bread crumbs and cheese. Add chicken pieces, a few at a time, closing bag and shaking to coat pieces well. Place chicken pieces in a single layer in a 15x10x1 pan or on a cookie sheet.

Bake in a 450* oven for 7 to 9 minutes or until no longer pink.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Old Time Beef Stew

I can't believe that I haven't posted this one yet. It's my "go to" recipe for beef stew. I modified it from Country Living Recipes, a cookbook I got free years ago from Southern Living. Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients, most are commonly found spices/seasonings that are in your pantry. Last night's turned out really tasty.

Old Time Beef Stew
serves 5-6

1 1/2 lbs boneless chuck, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 clove garlic
2 cups water
1/2 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp paprika
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp Italian seasoning
dash of allspice
6 carrots, peeled and sliced
4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 c cold water
2 Tbsp flour

Cook beef in oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat about 20 minutes, turning often to brown evenly. Stir in the next 14 ingredients (down to the allspice). Cover and simmer about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Add the carrots and potatoes; cover and simmer 30 minutes or until the vegetables are done. Combine 1/4 c cold water and flour in a small bowl, mixing well; pour into stew, stirring constantly until gravy thickens. simmer 5 minutes. Note: you may need to add more water (1/2 - 1 cup) when you add the potatoes and carrots.