Friday, December 31, 2010

Onion and Herb Biscuits

3 c baking mix
1 c buttermilk
1 TBSP dried onion flakes
2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley or 2 tsp chopped dried parsley

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Add buttermilk and onion to a mixing bowl and let stand 5-10 minutes to soften.

Add baking mix and parsley, mix until blended and dough is firm but sticky.

Spoon dropfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet, or sprinkle dough ball with baking mix and roll out to 1/4" on a floured surface. Use a glass or cookie cutter to cut out biscuits. (Something that makes approximately 2-3" biscuits is ideal).

Bake 8-12 minutes until biscuits are golden.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Nifty Tip: Leftover Coffee

Ever have not enough for a full cup left in the pot? Not enough to be worth saving for iced coffee? Really not enough for anything in particular?

I have a spare ice tray that I pour leftover coffee into and freeze to make coffee cubes.

Once they set I throw them into a quart bag and use them for all kinds of things: frozen coffee drinks, adding to milk for a coffee flavor, using in iced coffee so the ice doesn't dilute the coffee as it melts and the most delicious- adding to some Baileys Irish Cream for a little cocktail!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Country Mouse's Beef Stew

My friend Country Mouse (who prefers not to have an Internet presence) is an awesome down-home country cook. Her food never disappoints and this easy, delicious stew blows away anything I have tried before.

1 package beefy or golden onion soup mix
1 onion cut into pieces
2 lbs Meat (any roast or steak)
Carrot pieces
Potato pieces ( small red or baby Yukon hold up the best)
1-2 stalks celery, chopped

Add water to slow cooker to cover. Cook all day on low.

After above is cooked, remove meat, trim remaining fat and pull apart meat with a fork. Return to slow cooker.
can of corn
can of green beans
can of diced tomatoes ( any flavor)
small can of tomato sauce

Cook for one additional hour on high.

If you need a thicker sauce, mix a tablespoon of flour with cold water and add to hot mixture or add 1 packet brown gravy mix.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nifty Tip: Stock Scrap Bag

Ever trim your bonless skinless chicken breast and have meat left between the fatty section and the breast? Or trim a steak or roast and have some meat left behind with the fat, or roast a chicken and have wings/drums that no one wants? Or the skin and bones from a roast that you do not want to use for stock that day? Tomato peels from canning salsa? Stems from bunches of herbs? Or even just the liquids from steaming veggies that hold those precious vitamins and nutrients that cooked out?

I keep "stock scraps" together in my freezer, each in its own labeled bag: poultry, beef, and vegetable.

When I trim meat, I add the fat if it still has meat attached. Same with the veggie liquid, scraps from onions/carrots/celery/etc, and other items listed above.

When I am making stock, I add the scrap bag to boost up the stock.

Next to nothing is wasted in our house!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Minestrone Soup

1 can Northern white beans
2 TBSP olive oil
3 medium carrots, sliced
2 stalk(s) celery, sliced
1 large onion, diced
2 ounce(s) pancetta or bacon, sliced, diced
1 pound(s) all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium (8 ounces each) zucchini, 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 medium (1 pound) head savoy cabbage, sliced to equal 4 cups
1 large garlic clove, crushed
3 1/2 c homemade chicken broth or 2 cans commercial
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery, onion, and pancetta; cook 10 minutes or until onions begin to brown, stirring occasionally.

Add potatoes, zucchini, cabbage, and garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until cabbage wilts.

Add chicken broth, tomatoes with their juice, and 1 cup water; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

In blender or food processor with knife blade attached, blend 1/2 cup beans with 1 cup soup until pureed. Stir salt, bean puree, and remaining beans into soup; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes.

** This is delicious topped with pesto sauce.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sugar Cookies (the Wilton recipe)

I found this recipe on the back of a cookie cutter I bought. Its delish and perfect for Christmas.

1 c unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp clear vanilla extract
1/2 tsp no-color almond extract
2 3/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400°F.
In mixing bowl, cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and extracts.
Mix flour, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition.
Do not chill dough.
Divide dough into 2 balls. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a circle approximately 12 in. wide and 1/8 in. thick. Dip cookie cutter in flour before each use. Bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheet 6-7 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.


1 c confectioners' sugar
2 tsp milk
1/4 tsp flavored extract (I like lemon or peppermint)
1 1/4 c sugar and 1/3 cup water, boiled together to make simple syrup
assorted food coloring

In a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in simple syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more simple syrup.

Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.

Soo Easy Dump Cake

1 can cherry pie filling
1 can crushed pineapple
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix pineapple and cherry filling in a 13x9 baking pan.

Sprinkle the cake mix over the top.

Slice the butter or cut into small cubes and place across the top of the cake mix.

Bake 20-30 minutes until butter is melted and top is golden.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Buffalo Chex Mix

4 cups Rice Chex® cereal
4 cups Wheat Chex® cereal
2 cups Parmesan-flavored crackers
2 cups pretzel twists
6 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 packet ranch dressing mix
2 teaspoons celery seed

In large microwavable bowl, mix cereals, crackers and pretzels; set aside. In small microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on High about 40 seconds or until melted. Stir in hot sauce and seasonings. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated.

Microwave uncovered on High 4 to 5 minutes, thoroughly stirring every 2 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Asian-style Chex mix

3 c. corn Chex
6 c. rice Chex
1 c. Chinese noodles
1 c. Wasabi peas
1 c. raw almonds
2 TBSP soy sauce
5 TBSP butter
1 TBSP sesame oil
1 TBSP chili powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt

Heat oven to 250 degrees. In a 13x9 pan, melt butter, oil and soy sauce. Remove and whisk in the seasonings.

In a large bowl, mix dry snack ingredients. Pour melted butter mixture over cereal and toss well to coat. Return mix to pan.

Cook 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes

OR, in the microwave:

In large microwavable bowl, mix dry snacks; set aside. In small microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on High about 40 seconds or until melted. Stir in soy, sesame oil and seasonings. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated.

Microwave uncovered on High 4 to 5 minutes, thoroughly stirring every 2 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.

You can make this ahead and store up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.

Egg Sausage Bake (a Colehour house favorite!)

2-1/2 c. croutons (or enough to cover bottom of pan)
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1-1/2 lbs. pork sausage, browned and drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 c milk

mix together in blender:
4-6 eggs
2-1/2 c. milk
3/4 tsp. dry mustard

Grease 9 x 13 pan. spread croutons on the bottom. Top with cheese, then sausage. Pour egg mixture over top. Refrigerate overnight.

Before baking - mix soup and 1/2 c. milk and pour over top.

Bake at 300 degrees for 90 minutes.

Giada's Spiced Pork Roast

1/4 c whole grain mustard
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground allspice
1 TBSP dried oregano
1 TBSP brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (2 1/2 pound) pork tenderloin, patted dry with paper towels
1 medium onion, sliced
3 medium carrots, peeled, and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 c low-sodium chicken stock
Salt and black pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix first 7 ingredients in a small bowl. Place pork in a 13X9 roasting pan and coat with the spice rub. Add onions, carrots, and broth.

Roast for an hour and 15 minutes under temp reads 160 degrees. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing to allow juices to settle. Serve with the roasted vegetables, and the pan juices seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chocolate Toffee Fudge

5 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick butter or margarine
10 oz. evaporated milk (1 1/3 c.)
15 oz Marshmallow Fluff
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
16 oz. semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1 c. chopped toffee pieces

Grease a 13X 9-inch baking pan; set aside. In large saucepan combine the first 5 ingredients. Stir over low heat until blended.

Increase heat to Medium and bring to a full-rolling boil being careful not to mistake escaping air bubbles for boiling. Boil slowly, stirring constantly for 5 minutes (use Soft-Ball test).

Remove from heat, stir in extract and chocolate until chocolate is melted. Add 1/2 of the nut pieces and stir in. Turn into greased pan and cool. Cover with the rest of the nut pieces. Makes 5 pounds.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Peppermint Mocha Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix (plus ingredients it calls for)
1-1 1/2 c strong coffee
1 stick softened butter
3-4 c powdered sugar
1/4 c water
1 tsp peppermint extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
5-6 drops red food coloring
20 starlight mints

Make the cake according to package direction, substituting strong coffee for the water (for a real intense flavor try espresso instead).

Whip the butter, extract, food coloring, and water until light and fluffy (I use the Kitchen Aid, slowly turned up to the highest setting). Slowly add powdered sugar and continue to whip on higher setting until frosting is desired consistency, and appears light and fluffy. You can add a small amount of water at a time if its too fluffy.

In a food processor, crush mints to make a chunky dust. Frost the cake with the peppermint frosting, and sprinkle with crushed mints.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holiday Biscotti

This recipe would have been lost when I lost my cookbook if it wasn't for Tracy Foley! I had happened to fax it to her in December, so she just faxed it back. Below are just suggestions for what you use for add-ins, but you can play around with the extract, zests, fruit, nuts and chocolate for endless choices.

Basic Dough
3 TBSP softened butter
1 c sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla (or other) extract
2 c flour
1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 c shelled pistachios and 1/2 c dried cherries
1 TBSP grated ginger and 1 c craisins
1 TBSP grated orange zest and 1 c dark chocolate chips
1/2 c sliced almonds and 1/2 c shredded coconut (use almond extract for vanilla)
1/2 c peanuts, 1/2 c raisins (sub rum extract for vanilla)

Melted white or dark chocolate, sprinkles, chopped nuts, shredded coconut

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat first 6 ingredients in a large bowl with mixer on medium until well combined. Add your choice of flavorings and additions.

Divide dough in half and roll into 12" long logs. Place on an ungreased baking sheet, 3" apart. Bake 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes. If you used chocolate, cool completely. Cut logs into 1/2" thick slices. Place slices upright on a baking sheet and return to oven. Bake 10-12 minutes until pale golden. Cool completely.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler, or in a microwave safe glass dish for 30 seconds at a time, stirring, until smooth. Either dip cookies or use a form to drizzle chocolate over.

Makes 4 dozen.

Oven French Toast

I got this delicious recipe from my mother-in-law and was an instant fan. It's a little rich for everyday eating but makes a great brunch or special day item. I'll be using leftover frozen cranberries from this fall season for our Christmas batch.

1 loaf of French bread, sliced in half the long way (like you are making a sandwich)
8 oz cream cheese
1 dozen eggs
1 c milk
1 c real maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
powdered sugar

Fresh or frozen blueberries, peaches, raspberries, cranberries, blackberries, cherries, walnuts, pecans, shredded coconut, thin sliced apples w/ cinnamon.

Spread cream cheese on the cut sides of the bread. Put halves back together and cut into 1" cubes. Scatter in a buttered 13X9 pan.

Sprinkle fruit/nuts over the cubes.

Mix eggs, milk and syrup. Pour over cubes and let sit overnight.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes. Sprinkle w/ powdered sugar.

Chocolate Walnut Fudge

5 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick butter or margarine
10 oz. evaporated milk (1 1/3 c.)
15 oz Marshmallow Fluff
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
24 oz. semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1 c. chopped walnuts or pecans

Grease a 13X 9-inch baking pan; set aside. In large saucepan combine the first 5 ingredients. Stir over low heat until blended.

Increase heat to Medium and bring to a full-rolling boil being careful not to mistake escaping air bubbles for boiling. Boil slowly, stirring constantly for 5 minutes (use Soft-Ball test).

Remove from heat, stir in extract and chocolate until chocolate is melted. Add 1/2 of the nut pieces and stir in. Turn into greased pan and cool. Cover with the rest of the nut pieces. Makes 5 pounds.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

At home takeout : Fried rice

We make our own fried rice all the time. Its a cheap and quick dinner and great for using things up in the fridge. You can do any leftover meat like pork loin, steak, chicken, shrimp, leftover roast, or just all veggies. Good to add to the collection for making take-out like meals for a fraction of the cost!

1 TBSP vegetable oil
2 c leftover white or brown rice
1 onion, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
2 c shelled edamame (or frozen sweet peas if you prefer)
1 c leftover meat, chopped mushrooms, mixed veggies, etc - (your pick!)
1/2" ginger root, peeled
1-2 TBSP low sodium soy

Heat oil over high heat in a wok or large non-stick skillet. Add rice and cook for 3-4 minutes to crisp. Don't stir too often, just once or twice to keep it from burning. Add onions and garlic and continue to occasionally stir.

Once onions are soft, push the rice to the sides of the pan and make a well in the center. Add eggs and scramble. Once they have firmed a little, incorporate the rice in from the sides.

Add edamame/peas, and leftover meat or veggies of choice. Add in soy slowly until rice is lightly coated, and grate ginger root over pan.

This can be a meal on its on, or you can have it with oven-fried egg rolls, or teriyaki sticks. Picture below is with cream cheese wontons.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Chicken

2 full boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
1 c chopped spinach
1/4 c onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
3-4 slices cappicola or prosciutto, chopped
1 TBSP oil from sun-dried tomatoes OR olive oil
1 roasted red pepper, thin sliced
8 slices bacon

course ground mustard
1 c shredded cheese
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Pound out chicken to 1/4" thickness. Lightly season both sides with salt and pepper.
In a skillet, saute onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add cappicola/prosciutto and cook until fat renders out, add spinach and peppers and cook 1-2 minutes longer.

Sprinkle 1/4 of the cheese on each chicken breast. Top with 1/4 of the spinach mix. Roll chicken breast up, and wrap with 2 slices of bacon. Tie with kitchen string to hold together if needed.

Heat a cast iron skillet or saute pan over medium/high heat until its screaming hot. Add chicken breasts, turning to brown all sides. Baste the top with drippings and drain out the remaining bacon grease.  Drizzle with coarse brown mustard.  Continue cooking in the oven 15-20 minutes.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sausage Soup

1 lb ground sausage (pork, turkey, chicken)
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 sprig thyme (or 1/4 tsp dried)
3 medium sage leaves (or 1/4 tsp dried)
1 bay leaf (fresh or dried)
1 tsp beef bouillon powder or 1 cube
2 14 oz cans tomato (no sodium added), your choice depending on how chunky you like the soup
1 can chick peas, rinsed
1 c frozen spinach
1/4 rice (your choice, I like mixed wild/brown)
ground black and crushed red pepper, to taste 

In a large soup pot, brown meat in olive oil. Once its almost cooked, add onion and garlic, and fresh herbs if using. Cook until soft.

Add tomatoes (I like 1-whole peeled, 1-fire roasted diced), chick peas, dried herbs (if using), bouillon and 3 cans water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Add rice.

Cook 15-20 minutes until rice is done. Add spinach and stir in until mixed.

Monkey Munch

Some people call this Puppy Chow, some Muddy Buddies. Either way it is YUMMY!
9 cups Chex cereal (any variety)
1 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Put chocolate, peanut butter, and butter in a microwaveable casserole dish. Heat 60 seconds, stir, and then return in 30 second increments until everything is smooth and melted. Add vanilla.

Measure cereal in a large bowl. Pour chocolate mixture over cereal and stir well. Add powdered sugar and toss well to coat. (I use a large Tupperware bowl that has a lid so I can shake it up).

Pour onto a baking sheet  and cool in the fridge. Store in a gallon bag or the bowl you used to toss the mix and divide into 1 cup size gift portions.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Movie Night Snacks

Holiday Popcorn
3 c popped popcorn (air popped is the best)
3 TBSP butter, melted
1 TBSP Splenda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Put the popcorn in an extra large bowl. Pour the butter over popcorn, and lightly toss to coat the popcorn. Combine the sugar and spice in a small bowl. Sprinkle it over the popcorn, tossing to coat it completely.

Rich Homemade Cocoa
1 1/2 TBSP cocoa powder
1 TBSP Splenda
1 c milk
dash cinnamon
dash cayenne pepper (optional)

Whisk ingredients over low-medium heat, stirring constantly until hot. Adjust sweetness to taste. Top with whipped cream and a dash of cocoa powder, cinnamon or cayenne for presentation.

Toaster Oven S'mores
 For each s'more:
1 sheet of graham cracker
1/4 of a Hershey bar
1 marshmallow

Brake the cracker in half, place marshmallow on 1 side and chocolate on the other. Put in the toaster oven on broil until the marshmallow turns golden brown, turn over and toast the oven side. Sandwich together and VIOLA.

Kiddie Proof S'mores
 Substitute Nutella for the chocolate and fluff for the marshmallow. Spread 1 tsp of each on half the cracker. Sandwich for your little guys.

Do you have an air popper?

Candy Cane Fudge

This is also known by some as "that pink stuff". Its pretty, its creamy, it tastes just enough like candy canes without being too strong, and the mint helps offset the sweetness of the fudge. I have even had a few people tell  me they don't like fudge, but love this one.

5 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick butter or margarine
10 oz. evaporated milk (1 1/3 c.)
15 oz Marshmallow Fluff
1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
6-8 drops pink food coloring
24 oz.  white chocolate pieces
1  c. chopped candy canes or starlight mints (I use the food processor or crush them in a ziploc with a hammer)

Grease a 13X 9-inch baking pan; set aside. In large saucepan combine the first 5 ingredients. Stir over low heat until blended. Increase heat to Medium and bring to a full-rolling boil being careful not to mistake escaping air bubbles for boiling. Boil slowly, stirring constantly for 5 minutes (use Soft-Ball test). Remove from heat, stir in food coloring, extract and chocolate until chocolate is melted. Add 1/2 of the candy pieces and stir in. Turn into greased pan and cool. Cover with the rest of the candy pieces. Makes 5 pounds.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Homemade Gifts: Flavored Olive Oil

Bormioli Rocco Country Home Helios Glass Oil Bottle
This year we are trying to focus on some love-filled homemade gifts. It not only saves on the budget but shows that you care enough to give your time. To save money I try to think about Christmas all year and pick up things when they are a great deal. My brother James mentioned this idea, and a week or two later I stumbled into a huge sale on the oil and bottles. Must have been meant to be .....

You will need:
Green glass bottles (1 liter) with corks OR glass oil bottles w/ stoppers- washed/dried
Extra virgin olive oil
A variety of herbs, spices, essential oil and/or flavorings (You can make many variations of herb-infused olive oil. Some suggestions for herbs and spices are rosemary, garlic, basil, bay, chives, dill, mint, marjoram, tarragon and thyme- Think of good salad dressing combos)

I picked:
Spicy Garlic Oil: Granulated dried garlic, dried diced jalapenos, crushed red pepper, dried whole Thai chilies
Lemon Rosemary Oil: Dried lemon peel, Dried rosemary sprigs, lemon essential oil

Wash and dry your herbs. After washing, leave your herbs out to dry. Slightly tear or bruise the herbs so that they begin to release their aroma and flavors.

Once completely dried, loosely fill 1-2" of herbs in glass bottle. Use a funnel to pour in the EVOO and cover. Tightly cork/seal and let stand at least 2 weeks.

Create personalized tags including the type of oil, ingredients, and what you think its best for (salad dressing, dipping bread, sauteing/roasting veggies, marinating meat, stir-frying, etc).

Things to Keep in Mind:
- It is unsafe to put anything in the oil that contains any trace of water or moisture ( garlic, lemon peel, fresh peppers, fresh herbs, etc).  The oil will not support bacterial growth but the water containing herbs will.

- Avoid a fresh garlic infused oil. They look great, they taste yummy, you see them in the Gourmet oil but it really isn't safe to make them at home without the commercial machinery. Buy dried granulated garlic, or use already flavored garlic oil for some of the EVOO.

- Garbage in=garbage out. You want to use a quality olive oil or the end quality will suffer. Also, you should use either fresh herbs that you dry, or newly purchased dry herbs (not the ones you got in a housewarming gift Spice Rack back in '01 and  just never knew what to do with them....).

- This project requires some planning ahead. If you want to do a large volume, you will want to shop around in the early fall for deals on glass bottles and the oil itself (I scored mine for $7.99/2L bottle at World Market in October!!!!). You will either need to plan to make the oil a couple weeks ahead, or include when the oil will be ready to use on the gift tag.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nifty Tip: Post Big Meal

Feeling overstuffed and overindulged?

Three to five servings of broccoli, kale or arugula the day after a big meal help flush out toxins from meats and processed foods. (Family Circle December 2010 )

Whats the best way to eat broccoli, kale, and arugula you ask? Here are my FAVES:
Broccoli- Roast with olive oil, chopped garlic, and black pepper in a 450 degree oven 10-15 minutes until ends start to char.
Kale- Saute with olive oil, thin sliced garlic, and the zest/juice from 1 lemon. Season with salt and pepper.
Arugula- Melt 1 TBSP butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 TBSP of flour and whisk until mixture forms a brown paste. Add 1 c light cream, a pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper. Continue whisking until edges just begin to bubble. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir until sauce thickens. Toss with whole wheat spaghetti until coated. Top with 1 c chopped arugula and 1/4 c shredded Parmesan and lightly fold in.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups white flour
1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 sticks of softened, unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup sweetener (granulated works best)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp peppermint extract
8-10 drops green food coloring
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat even to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine first 4 ingredients and set aside.

In a large bowl (or the kitchen aid mixer bowl), beat next 4 ingredients until creamy. Add eggs, separately until incorporated into mixture. Add food coloring and extract and combined. Add flour mixture and beat until well blended.

Mix in by hand (even if you are using the mixer) 1 bag of chocolate chips.

Bake for 8-12 minutes depending on cookie size. Makes 4 dozen small cookies or 2 dozen large cookies.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Homemade Gifts: Snowman Soup

This is more of a gift idea than a recipe, but great to make up and pass out around the holidays.

For each "soup" you will need:

1 packet instant hot cocoa, any flavor or variety
2 candy canes, taped together to form a heart
1/4 c mini marshmallows OR 3-4 Christmas shape/color marshmallows in a snack bag
1-2 Hershey kiss es

On the card/paper of your choice, this message:
Was told you've been good this year
I'm always glad to hear it!
With freezing weather drawing near,
You'll need to warm the spirit.
So here's a little Snowman soup,
Complete with stirring stick.
Add hot water, sip it slow,
It's sure to do the trick!

If you are doing a few, you can just put the ingredients into a cute over sized mug and put the note in with it.

For a large batch, I put everything into a quart bag, and fit the note to the length of the top of the bag leaving the top half blank, then fold it over and staple to cover the zip top.

You can also go to Organized Christmas for really cute bag toppers like whats shown in this photo!

How I Made the Most of Thanksgiving Leftovers

As usual, I made way too much food in my insane worry that someone might go hungry at my house. Here is just some tips and bits about how I made the leftovers a little less painful for my family.

Thanksgiving Day
- Once you remove the turkey from the roasting pan and have made gravy, pour the remaining drippings into a container and refrigerate.
- After you carve the turkey, refrigerate the carcass and any veggies that we in/around the bird
- Wrap up leftovers within 2 hours of serving for safety

1-2 Days Later
- Make stock
- Make soup: Throw the wings/drumsticks into a stock pot. Add 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, 4 cloves garlic, 1 sprig of fresh thyme and cook over a high rolling heat for 1-2 hours until the bones are clean. Strain the stock in a strainer lined with paper towels and add to a large soup pot. Add another couple sliced carrots and celery stalks, 1 sliced onions, and the meat from the strainer carefully checked for bones and cut to bite size. Cook until veggies are tender, salt and pepper to taste
- Make turkey pot pie: Use the leftover dripping to make more 1-2 more cups of gravy. Chop leftover turkey and line the bottom of an 8X8 baking dish. Add a bag of frozen mixed veggies, and pour gravy over the top to cover. Roll out an 8x8 square of pie dough to cover. Bake at 400 until golden brown and crusty.
- Make turkey salad: Throw chopped white and dark meat into a food processor with rough chopped celery and green onions. Add mayo, coarse ground mustard, and hot cherry pepper spread. Pulse until shredded/mixed well.

3-4 Days Later
- Make chocolate cranberry tarts: Roll out pie dough and cut to 3" circles with a glass or cookie cutter. Line dough in a 2.5" muffin pan. Place about 10 semi-sweet chocolate chips in each cup. Fill with 1-2 TBSP cranberry sauce. Bake until crust is golden.
- Make mashed potato cakes: For each 1 c of mashed potatoes add 2 TBSP chopped green onions and 1/4 c shredded cheddar. Mix well and form 5 patties. Dip in a beaten egg, and a mix of equal part bread crumbs and grated Parmesan. Cook over medium heat in a skillet with 2 TBSP vegetable oil, turning once, until golden on both sides.

My Mom's Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bar....and my Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Bars

When I was little my mom always made these yummy little treats when we were going to a party. I recently found the recipe and made them again, and then got the idea to flip them for my chocolate loving friends.

Nonny's Bars                                                             
1 box yellow cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 c water
1/4 c softened butter
1 c crunchy peanut butter
1 bag chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Heavily grease a 13X9" baking pan.

Beat eggs, water, butter and peanut butter to blend. Add the cake mix, 1/2 a box at a time. Stir until mixed well and fold in chocolate chips.

Bake 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Substitute chocolate cake for the yellow, and peanut butter chips for the chocolate.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mexican Beef and Bean Casserole

1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 small onion
2 cans pinto beans, drained and raised
1 can corn, drained
1 can tomato sauce (8oz)
1/2 c chunky salsa
1 can diced tomatoes w/ chilis (Rotel)
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp cumin
1 bunch green onions (thin sliced and separted by whites and greens/tops and bottoms)
1-2 c shredded cheddar or jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Brown the meat in a skillet. Once its almost cooked add onions and cook until softened.

In a an ungreased casserole dish, mix beef, beans, corn, tomatoes, salsa, spices and the whites/bottoms of the green onions.

Cover with foil and bake about 30 minutes, stirring once, until mixture is bubbly. Carefully remove foil and top with cheese and the remaining green/top part of the green onions. Bake another 5 minutes until cheese melts.

This is great alone, with rice, or stuffed into whole wheat tortillas!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Turkey Stock in a Crock

Call me cheap, but I try to make stock out of everything. Turkey/chicken remains, steak bones, extra veggies....its all fair game and I use it for quick soups, pasta dishes, and recipes all winter.  Thanksgiving is always prime-time for a big batch of turkey stock to fill my freezer!

Remove all accessible meat from your turkey carcass. Trim off any fatty skin that did not crisp up, and set aside wings and legs for turkey soup.

Place turkey remains in a large crock pot with any celery/carrots/ onions that were in the cavity or underneath during roasting, and with any leftover fresh herbs that were in the cavity. Add a new bay leaf, a couple carrots, some celery w/ leaves from the heart, a small tomato, 4-5 garlic cloves and some black pepper. Cover with water.

Cook on high 10-12 hours until the bones are clean. Season with salt/pepper to taste (I brined my turkey this year so no extra salt was needed).

Strain through a fine mesh strainer lined with paper towels. Refrigerate stock overnight, and once cooled strain off the fat and portion into freezer bags, ice tray, Tupperware, etc. to store.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Holiday Crangria

This is a great twist on Sangria for a festive holiday drink. I buy tons of fresh cranberries in the fall when they are available and put lots in the freezer for a rainy day (Just wash them, let them dry, and throw into a freezer bag)!

1 orange thin sliced
1 lemon thin sliced and seeded
1 lime thin sliced
1 c fresh cranberries
1 small bottle red wine
1 small bottle white wine
1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 c water

Bring the water and sugar to a boil. Add cranberries and boil 5 minutes to make a simple syrup. Remove from heat, add fruit and let stand at least 1 hour. In a large pitcher, mix fruit/syrup and wine. Serve over ice with a splash of club soda.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pasta e Fagioli

1 TBSP olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
1 large stalk celery
1 14 oz can chicken stock
2 cup water
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup small soup pasta
1 10oz package frozen spinach

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, heat broth and water to a boil over high heat.

Add beans, tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper to large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add broth mixture and pasta, return to a boil. Add spinach and cook 5 minutes longer.

Makes 4 bowls or 8 cups.
Each bowl:  220 calories, 10 g protein, 33 g carbs, 5 g fat, 0 cholesterol, 1265 g sodium

Maple Mustard Crusted Steak with Roasted Garlic Rice

The maple gives this a great flavor. Its a good meal for turkey day meat when you want to steer clear of poultry.

2 lb steak, defrosted
1/2 tsp horseradish
1 TBSP coarse ground mustard
6 garlic cloves
1 TBSP REAL maple syrup
1 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 TBSP + 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP butter
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 c brown rice
3 c low sodium beef brother OR 3 c water  and 1 tsp beef bouillon

Put steak into a gallon bag. Add horseradish, mustard, 2 smashed and chopped garlic cloves, maple syrup, vinegar, and 1 TBSP Worcestershire. Seal the bag and rub the mixture together all over the steak. Let marinade overnight, at least 6 hours. Grill to desired temperature.

Heat butter and oil in a skillet on medium heat. Thinly slice remaining 4 garlic cloves and add to hot butter/oil. Saute until garlic browns, and add rice. Saute 3-5 minutes to toast rice, and add broth. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Cook 15-20 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


2 leaves green lettuce or red lettuce or kale
Tomato Mozzarella salad
Eggplant Caponata
Roasted Zucchini
Marinated Mushrooms
Caramelized Onions
wedge cheese: provolone, sharp cheddar, Asiago, Parmesan
thin sliced meat: salami, pepperoni, capicola ham, prosciutto
Red grapes

Line a serving platter with lettuce or kale. Arrange the salad, caponata, roasted zucchini and mushrooms in the center of the platter.

Cut the cheese to 1/8" triangle shaped slices. Tightly roll the meat. Arrange meat and cheese around the edge of the plate. Fill any gaps with small bunches of red grapes.

Carmelized Onions

2 large white onions
1 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Thinly slice the onions. Cut the butter into small chunks. Mix onions, butter, and remaining ingredients.

Roast in a dark metal 13"x9" pan, stirring every 10 minutes until the onions are browned and have dark spots.

Tomato Mozzarella Salad

2 lbs plum/roma tomatoes
1 lb fresh mozzarella
1 clove garlic
3-4 fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper
1/8 c red wine vinegar
1/8 c extra virgin olive oil

Whisk oil and vinegar together in a serving bowl. Grate garlic and whisk in. Add salt and pepper. Cut tomatoes and mozzarella into bite sized chunks and add to oil and vinegar.

Wash basil leaves and pat dry. Stack, and roll together the long way. Thinly slice across the roll to make thin ribbons. Top the salad with basil and lightly toss. Let sit an hour before serving.

Eggplant Caponata

1 medium eggplant
1 medium red onion
1 small zucchini
4 cloves garlic
2 TBSP chopped sun dried tomatoes with oil
1/4 c capers
2 TBSP pesto sauce

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Chop eggplant and zucchini into 1/4" cubes. Finely chop onion and garlic. Mix eggplant, zucchini, garlic, onion, capers and tomatoes. Roast in a dark metal 13"x9" pan, stirring every 10 minutes until veggies are softened and crispy around the edges.

Add pesto and stir well. Let cool and serve at room temperature with crackers or flat bread crisps.

Roasted Zucchini

2 medium zucchini
extra virgin olive oil
red pepper flakes

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Thinly slice zucchini (I use the food processor so that the slices are uniform). Brush a cooking sheet with olive oil, and lay out zucchini in a single layer. Brush the tops with oil. Lightly sprinkle with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.

Roast 10 minutes, and turn over. Roast another 5-10 minutes.

Marinated Mushrooms

1 jar whole mushrooms
red wine vinegar
balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
pinch salt
pinch pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning

Drain mushrooms and rinse well. In their empty jar, fill 1/3 of the way with red wine vinegar, a splash of balsamic, a splash of olive oil. Add seasoning, salt and pepper. Put mushrooms back into the jar and let sit overnight.

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

18 medium stalks of asparagus
6 thin slices prosciutto
grated Parmesan
fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch asparagus for 3 minutes, remove immediately to a bowl of ice water. Let stand 5 minutes and drain. Let dry on paper towels.

Lay out prosciutto slices and cut into thirds, lengthwise. Sprinkle with Parmesan and black pepper. Wrap prosciutto slices around the asparagus leaving the tips exposed.

Lay spears on a cooking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Roast about 10 minutes until crispy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gorgonzola Green Bean Casserole

2 lbs green beans, washed and snapped to 1"
1/2 lb white mushrooms, finely chopped
1 oz slivered almonds
6 slices bacon
4 green onions, thinly sliced whites and greens
2 1/2 TBSP flour
3 TBSP bacon grease
1 pint heavy cream
5-6 oz Gorgonzola or bleu cheese
4 oz grated Parmesan
1 can fried onions (6 oz)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch green beans 5-6 minutes. Spray a  13x9 pan. Place green beans, mushrooms, and almonds in a large bowl.

In a large skillet, cook bacon until crispy. Drain and return 3 TBSP of grease to the pan. Chop bacon and set aside.

Add flour to the bacon drippings and whisk over medium heat until it forms  a smooth brown paste. Whisk in cream and heat just until the edges start to bubble. Add Gorgonzola, bacon, and green onions. Let cheese melt, but do not boil sauce.

Pour sauce over green beans. Stir well and pour into the baking dish. Add Parmesan and fried onions and bake in the oven until the top is brown and crispy. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

The casserole will set after you remove it from the oven-it is normal if seems a little runny right out of the oven.

MAKE AHEAD: Follow direction up to putting casserole into the oven. Cover with foil until ready to serve. Warm in the oven 20-30 minutes until hot. Top with Parmesan and fried onions, and return to the oven until the top is brown and crispy.

Sweet Sangria

1 orange thin sliced
1 lemon thin sliced and seeded
1 lime thin sliced
1 small bottle red wine
1 small bottle white wine
1/2 c sugar
1 1/2  cup water

Bring the water and sugar to a boil. Boil 5 minutes to make a simple syrup. Remove from heat, add fruit and let stand 1 hour. In a large pitcher, mix fruit/syrup and wine. Serve over ice with a splash of club soda.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Zippy Party Mix

Yeah, you could call it Chex mix..... but I like to use all kinds of cereal. Especially the boxes I bought when they were way cheap that my family is tired of eating.

3 c plain Cheerios
2 c puffed wheat
2 c wheat Chex
2 c rice or corn Chex
1 c dry roasted peanuts
1 c garlic bagel chips
1 c pretzel stix
6 TBSP margarine
1 1/2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1/2 TBSP Tabasco
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp seasoned salt

Preheat oven to 325. In a baking pan, melt the butter, Tabasco and Worcestershire for 45 seconds in the oven. Remove and mix the spices in well.

In a large bowl, mix cereal and snack bits. Pour the melted butter mixture over the dry bowl and mix well. Pour into the baking dish and bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely before serving.

Makes a great gift in small baggies or cute containers.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Easy Cornbread Casserole

1 box instant cornbread mix
8 oz sour cream
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can creamed corn
1 egg

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix ingredients and bake for 1 hour in a greased glass baking dish.

Sweet Potatoes with Balsamic Maple Glaze

2 lb sweet potatoes, cut into 1" cubes
3 peeled and minced shallots
3 TBSP olive oil, divided
3 TBSP real maple syrup, divided
2 TBSP Balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with 2 Tbsp oil and 2 Tbsp
maple syrup until well coated. Spread the sweet potatoes on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Make sure they are spread out well so that they roast evenly.

Roast sweet potatoes in oven for 20-25 minutes, giving a toss halfway through. Roast until fork-tender.

While sweet potatoes are in the oven, saute the shallots in a small saucepan with 1 Tbsp oil until shallots are soft. Add Balsamic vinegar and the remaining 1 Tbsp maple syrup. Simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes until sauce is slightly reduced and thickened. Remove from heat.

Remove sweet potatoes from oven and transfer to medium serving bowl. Drizzle with the sauce and toss to coat.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sausage and Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing

1 bag plain cornbread stuffing or 6 c cubed stale, toasted cornbread
1 lb sage flavored sausage
1 small onion
4 stalks celery thinly sliced (its best right from the heart with the leaves)
1 1/2 c dried cranberries
1 c chopped walnuts
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp sage
1 14 oz can chicken stock (you will want more on hand to add until its the desired texture)

Heat oven to 350°

Brown meat in a skillet over medium heat. Once its almost cooked through, add onions and celery and saute until translucent.

Combine all ingredients, except chicken broth, in a medium casserole dish. Add chicken broth; mix well. (Add more chicken broth for a moister stuffing).

Cover and bake for 30 minutes or until heated through.

Makes about 6 cups.

Taco Ranch Soup

1/2 lb ground turkey
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 TBSP taco seasoning or 1 package store-bought
1 can black beans, undrained
1 can ranch style beans, undrained
1 can kidney beans, undrained
1 can corn, undrained
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 package ranch dressing mix
2 c turkey or chicken stock

Saute the meat until browned. Add the taco seasoning (without water). Add onion, garlic and pepper and cook until transparent (use the fat to work the onions along).
In a large pot, add remaining items and cook on medium heat. Add the meat/onion mixture. Cook 15-20 minutes longer.

Serve with tortilla chips, shredded cheddar cheese, and sour cream.

** You can also make this in the crock pot by cooking the meat and onion, then adding to pot with the remaining ingredients and cooking on low for 4-6 hours.

Beans are inexpensive and flavorful and this soup is full of them. In addition to providing the good fat, they are also chock full of protein and dietary fiber.

Nutrition stats per measured cup: 140 calories, 2g fat, 9g protein,20g carbs, 4g sugar, 642mg sodium

Recipe makes approximately 14 cups.

Megan's Peanut Butter Pie

Easy and delicious all in one.

1 pre-made chocolate pie crust
1 c smooth peanut butter
8 oz cream cheese
1 c whipped topping
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Whip peanut butter, cream cheese, and whipped topping until smooth. Spread in pie crust.

Put chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Heat 30 seconds and stir. Repeat heating for 30 seconds and stirring until fully melted and fluid but be careful not to scorch.

Use a spoon to drizzle chocolate over the pie. Keep refrigerated.

MDP's Turkey Day Menu

Pumpkin Muffins
Fresh fruit

Marinated mushrooms
Shrimp Cocktail
Antipasto plate with crackers
Prosciutto wrapped asparagus
Snack mix

Roasted Turkey
Mashed Potatoes
New England Cranberry Cornbread Sausage Stuffing
Sweet potatoes Balsamic Glazed
Cauliflower Casserole (from our guests)
Roasted veggie medley 
Gorgonzola Green Bean casserole
Corn Casserole
Cranberry Sauce

Pumpkin pie
Apple cranberry crisp (my apple crisp recipe + 1 c fresh cranberries thrown in with the apples)
Walnut Spice Ice Cream

Spiced apple cider
Sweet Sangria
Beer/Wine/Sparkling Juice

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Spaghetti alla Amatriciana

1 box (13.75 oz) whole-wheat short cut pasta
5 slices thick-sliced lean peppered bacon, chopped
1 large onion thin sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 c chicken stock
2- 14oz cans diced fired  roasted tomatoes
Black pepper
basil leaves
shredded Parmesan

Heat water to boil for pasta, cook according to package directions.

In a deep skillet, cook bacon until crisp, about 4-5 minutes. I like to get it good and dark without burning it to render out as much fat as possible. Remove bacon crumbles to a napkin and drain grease from skillet into a glass bowl. Wipe any dark bits from skillet and return 1 tsp of bacon fat from the top (where its the cleanest).

Add onions, garlic and bay leave and cook to soften, 5-6 minutes. Stir in stock, tomatoes, and 1/2 c of starchy looking liquid from pasta. Season with pepper to taste. Simmer sauce 15 minutes.

Toss pasta with sauce and basil. Serve with grated cheese.

* If you can't find thick sliced peppered bacon, you can use regular and add at least 1/2 tsp black pepper.

STATS (makes about 8 1 cup servings)
251 calories, 45g carbs, 6 grams fat, 11 g protein, 6 g sugar, 471 g sodium

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cook Once Eat THREE times!!

This is a great way to tackle a busy week. It not only makes 3 separate meals, but we have lots of leftovers too.

3-4 lb lean, well-trimmed pork loin
1 can sprite

1 c your favorite BBQ sauce
1 c your favorite teriyaki sauce
1 c water + 1 TBSP taco seasoning
1 lime
2 tsp chili powder

Put frozen pork loin in the crock pot w/ soda. Cook on low 10-11 hours until meat falls apart with a fork (you could do a thawed roast as well, but I am usually gone longer than it should be in there without burning and my crock pot doesn't have the auto adjust feature).

Drain the liquid from the meat and remove any remaining fat. Cut into thirds.

Heat water in microwave for 1 minute, add taco seasoning  and chili powder and heat for another 30-60 seconds until its boiling.

Shred each separately and mix 1/3 with BBQ, 1/3 with teriyaki sauce, and 1/3 with the taco seasoning mix and juice from the lime.

BBQ pork is great for pulled pork sandwiches and stuffing loaded baked potatoes.

Teriyaki pork is great for lettuce wraps with water chestnuts and some chopped almonds or peanuts.

And taco pork is good for .... tacos, burritos, nachos, and quesadillas.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Easy 6 Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Muffins

2 cups reduced-fat baking mix
6 tablespoons granulated Splenda
1 1/8 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 egg beaters OR 2 egg whites or 1 egg
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup apple cider (or juice if you don't have any)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray 16 2 1/2" or 6 3" muffin cups with cooking spray; set aside. Combine baking mix, splenda and apple pie spice in large bowl; set aside. Beat egg, applesauce and apple juice in small bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Add to baking mix mixture; stir just until moistened. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Spoon evenly into prepared cups.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes for small, 20-25 minutes for large muffins, or until tops are golden brown and wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Remove to wire racks.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Snickers Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

I tend to hide the Halloween candy and ration it out as needed. A little goes in lunches, a little for treating the kids, and a lot gets used in cakes, cookies, and homemade ice cream. This cake is yummy but you need to plan in advance because you need time for cooling between steps.

16 fun size Snickers
1 box yellow cake mix (plus oil, water, eggs that the box calls for)
1 1/2 c milk
1 box instant chocolate pudding mix
1 8oz block cream cheese
1 stick softened butter
1/2 -1 c cocoa powder (bakers, unsweetened)
1-2 c powdered sugar
caramel sundae syrup

HEAVILY grease and flour 2 8" round cake pans. Make the cake batter as directed on the box.

Pour half the batter into each pan. Bake 15 minutes. While the cakes are baking, chop 8 of the candy bars into thin slices. Remove cakes from the oven and scatter candy pieces in both. Finish cooking the cake based on the directions, checking about 5 minutes early. The cakes are done when  a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cakes cool and remove to a wire rack.

Mix pudding mix and milk in a well chilled bowl. Let firm up 5 minutes in the fridge or freezer. Put one cake upside down on a serving plate. Cover with pudding, and top with the other cake, smoothest side up. Let refrigerate at least 1 hour.

In a mixing bowl, whip butter and cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Add 1/2 c of cocoa powder and
1 1/2 c of powdered sugar (to start) and beat until smooth and fluffy. I have to taste a lot to make it come out the way I want it to, and adjust to get it to the right consistency. If its too dry, you can add a SMALL amount of water (like 1 tsp) to add moisture. If its too sweet add a little cocoa, too bitter a little sugar.

Spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Put the snickers around the top of the cake like 8 evenly spaced numbers on a clock. Drizzle with caramel, putting a little extra on the edges so it drips down the sides.

Keep refrigerated until its time to serve.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Nothing is better on a chilly night than a big bowl of chicken soup and some fresh biscuits or rolls.  I like to make a big pot of soup on the weekend and then have it for lunches and quick meals during the week.

2 tsp vegetable oil
2 lbs boneless chicken
1 large onion
3 large cloves garlic
5 stalks celery
5 medium carrots
1 large parsnip
3 large button mushrooms
1 small zucchini
1 c chopped fresh spinach
1 8 oz can tomato sauce (no salt added)
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 c soup pasta, whole wheat if you have it (something tiny like orzo, stars, ABC's, rings)
salt and pepper

Trim the fat from chicken and cut it into small bit sized chunks (I save the fat/trimmings in a freezer bag for stock making later). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a "soup pot" (mine has 2 handles, about 14" diameter and 4-5" high), heat the oil and brown the chicken.

Once chicken is browned, add onions, garlic, and celery and cook until translucent. Add carrots and parsnips, bouillon cube, and fill pan with water until everything is covered. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium.

In the meantime chop spinach, zucchini, and mushrooms. Add to the pot with tomato sauce. Taste the broth and adjust salt/pepper if needed. Simmer 30-45 minutes.

Add pasta and turn pot off. Let stand 10-15 minutes for pasta to absorb broth and serve!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

At home takeout Chinese: Ginger Beef Stir Fry

1 1/2 lbs beef round steak
1 c beef broth or 1 bouillon cube + 1 c water
6 TBSP low sodium soy sauce
2 TBSP cornstarch
2 tsp splenda
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
6 cups fresh veggies ( sliced peppers, broccoli florets, 1" asparagus or green bean sticks, mushrooms, etc)
1 medium onion, sliced
2 TBSP vegetable oil
2 cups cooked brown rice

Trim all fat from beef (throw trimmings into a freezer bag for making stock later). Slice while still frozen, or put into the freezer for 30 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain into bite size strips. Set aside.

Mix broth (or bouillon dissolved in water and cooled), soy, cornstarch, splenda, and ginger. Set aside.

Spray a large skillet or wok with cooking spray and cook veggies 3-4 minutes until softened but crisp. Remove from pan.

Heat oil in pan. Stir fry the meat 3-5 minutes until browned. Push meat to the sides and pour sauce into the center. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly. Add veggies back in and stir to coat.

Serve over rice.

Makes 8 servings
300 calories
10 grams of fat

Roasted Red Peppers

I like to make my own roasted peppers when bell peppers go on sale in the market. They are great for antipasto, pasta, and even blending for dressings and sauces. Much cheaper when you DIY too ;)

Shop for the brightest, firmest peppers when you are in the store. I don't find size to matter all that much, but I'm sure a normal size pepper is sweeter than a monster size.

On a large baking sheet, lightly coat the surface with olive oil (I use a pastry brush or olive oil spray). Wash the peppers, and place whole onto the oiled sheet.

Roast in a 500 degree oven, turning occasionally, until as much of the surface area is charred as possible.
Remove from the oven and immediately cool in a bowl of ice and water. Soak 3-5 minutes and drain.

Remove the skins. Then pull out cores, ribs, and seeds from the top if possible. If you can't smoothly get things out through the hole the core made, cut the peppers in half and use a pairing knife to clean out the inside.

If you are not using immediately and want to store:
Line a clean baking sheet with wax pepper, and lay out peppers so they are not touching. Freeze 2-3 hours, and then put frozen pieces into a freezer bag.
You can do this with any color bell peppers, but red are amazingly good for you and have as much vitamin C as an orange without as much sugar/calories.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Honey Chili Lime Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
3 cloves garlic
1 lime
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp honey
salt and pepper
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

Trim excess fat from chicken breasts, and pound out high spot so breasts are an even thickness. Drizzle with oil and turn to coat. Smash and chop garlic, and rub into meat. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper, and chili powder. Zest the lime and squeeze the juice over chicken. Drizzle honey.

T-fal Reversible Cast Iron Grill / Griddle - Black (18" x 10")Let chicken sit at least 30 minutes, no more than overnight. Grill on medium heat for 20 minutes, until done by a meat thermometer. You could also use a Foreman grill, grill pan on the stove, or broil on low for about 10 minutes per side (watch closely that it doesn't char)   

Serve with a starch and veggie, or thin sliced over a large green salad.

Need an indoor grill pan? Try:  T-fal Reversible Cast Iron Grill / Griddle - Black (18" x 10")

If you like this, you may also like:
Grilled Chicken with Mango Black Bean Salsa
Mom's Signature Grilled Chicken

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Whats in the Lunchboxes: Grindah Quesadillas

Getting tired of eating sandwiches? Sometimes I get tired just making them. I like to find alternatives so that Tia and Brian aren't always eating the same ol' sammy.

For each portion:

Cooking spray
2 whole wheat tortillas (small or medium)
1/4 c shredded mozzarella
1 slice provolone
3 thin slices each ham and salami
5 slices pepperoni
1 TBSP banana pepper rings or 1 tsp hoagie spread (chopped cherry peppers)
2 thin tomato slices

Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat. Spray pan and one side of each tortilla, place tortillas in pan sprayed side down.

Top each with mozzarella, provolone torn into small pieces, then meats. Cook until the underside of the tortillas are golden brown with dark spots. Add tomato and peppers to one half and top with the other (filling sides together).

Cut into 4 or 6 triangles and serve with marinara, salsa, mustard, or pesto mayonnaise.

You can wrap in foil if there is no microwave and they will still be room temp at lunch time. They stay even warmer if you put them (still wrapped in foil) into a small thermos.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lemon Shortbread or Roll-out Cookies

1 c. unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 egg
1 1/2 c. white sugar
1 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract
2 3/4 c.  white flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg and extracts.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture one cup at a time, mixing well in between each addition. Use at room temperature, do not refrigerate.

Divide dough into 2 halves. Using a well floured flat surface, roll one ball at a time out to 1/8" thickness. Use well floured cookie cutters to form shapes, or use a glass to make circles.

 Bake on an ungreased cooke sheet for 5-8 minutes, depending on the size of the cookie. Remove from the oven as soon as the edges begin to lightly brown. Completely cool on rack before decorating or serving.

 Makes about 3 dozen cookies depending on size.

Cold Night Chicken Pot Pie

This is a combination of using up some things in the fridge and wanting a warm hearty dinner with not a lot of time. It was hot and bubbly and ready in 45 minutes and we all gobbled it up. We had the potatoes leftover from making potato skins, but you can flip it and use the leftover skins to make potato skins another night!

1 pre-made roll out pie crust
1 tsp olive oil
4 medium potatoes
3 carrots
1 large onion
5-6 celery stalks (from the inside with leaves if you have them)
1 sprig rosemary
1 large can chicken breast
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 bouillon cube or 1 c chicken broth
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp black pepper

Scrub potatoes and bake in the microwave. Let sit until they are cool enough to handle. Cut in half vertically and scoop out the flesh.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Use an 8x8" glass baking dish and toothpick to trace a square into the pie dough and cut out with a knife.  Spray dish with cooking spray.

Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a medium skillet. Add onion, celery, and carrots roughly chopped and saute until softened. Chop rosemary and add. Add potatoes, spices, broth or bouillon cube and water to cover. Simmer 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up the potatoes. Stir in chicken (undrained) and soup. Stir until blended.

Pour filling into baking dish. Lay crust on top and use knife to cut slits in the center to vent. Bake 25-30 minutes until the crush is golden brown. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

*** You can either:  bake the potato skins until crispy in the oven now, and top with cheese and bacon and bake until melted; or lay them on a baking sheet lined with wax paper, freeze, and then throw them into a freezer bag until you are ready to use them :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Kid Sized Pumpkin Grilled Cheese

These go GREAT with Halloween black bean soup! Another alternative to the old tomato soup and grilled cheese.

8 slices whole wheat bread
1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
2 TBSP canned pumpkin
1 TBSP cream cheese
1 TBSP margarine

Use a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter to cut the centers of the bread slices into pumpkins (mine is just big enough to get most of the bread but not the crust).

In a small bowl mix up the other ingredients until its a fairly smooth spread (you will still have the cheddar shreds). Divide equally on 4 pumpkins, and top with the rest. Spray each side well with cooking spray and put on a hot griddle on medium heat. Cook until toasted and golden, spray the tops with cooking spray and flip.

My kids don't even know there is pumpkin with the cheese!

Throw your leftover crusts into a bag in the freezer for bread crumbs, stuffing or croutons later.

Mummy Dogs

1lb turkey hot dogs
3 cup baking mix
1 cup buttermilk

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the hot dogs in half the short way, and again the long way if these are for tikes. Set aside.

Mix the baking mix and buttermilk until blended. On a well floured surface, roll the dough into about 1/8" thickness. Sprinkle top with flour. Use a pizza cutter to cut long thin strips in the dough, about 1/4" wide.

Wrap each  dog in the biscuit dough strips, leaving some exposed for the face. Use a short strip to wrap around the top.

Bake 15-25 minutes until dough is cooked and lightly browned. Serve with blood and stomach bile for dipping... I mean ketchup and mustard.

Crusty Old Monster Fingers

These creepy treats are good to serve with spiderweb pizza and mummy dogs!

3-4 large sweet potatoes, washed and peeled (look for the pointiest ended), and cut in half (the short way)
grated Parmesan
salt, pepper, chili powder

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut potatoes into 1/2" strips, like french fries. Spray a cookie sheet with baking spray, and make a single layer with the potatoes. Spray potatoes with cooking spray. Sprinkle lightly with the salt and pepper, and a little more generously with the chili and Parmesan.

Bake 25-40 minutes until potatoes are cooked through and crispy.

Easy 5 Ingredient Pecan Pie Muffins

These are not healthy, but not as bad as real pecan pie. I love to make them for company or a brunch so we don't eat them all!

1/2 c unsalted butter, softened

3/4 c packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c chopped pecans + 6 whole pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 2 1/2 6 muffin tin.

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and mix well. Add flour and stir just until moistened. Gently stir in pecans. Evenly divide into muffin cups and top with whole pecan. Bake about 20-25 minutes.

Apple Spice Muffins

2 cups baking mix
1/4 cup raw/turbinado sugar (white works too if that's what you have)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice + 1 cup unsweetened applesauce OR 1 cup apple butter
1/4 egg beaters OR 2 egg whites OR 1 egg
1/4 cup apple juice

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray 16  2 1/2" muffin cups with cooking spray; set aside. Combine baking mix, sugar and pie spice (if using) in large bowl; set aside. Beat egg, applesauce/apple butter and apple juice in small bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Add to baking mix mixture; stir just until moistened. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Spoon evenly into prepared cups.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until tops are golden brown and wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Remove to wire racks.

Lisa Full's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are a yummy combo of pumpkin, spices, and chocolate chips. They are a very light cookie, with a cake-like texture.

2 sticks softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup (6oz)  semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Beat butter until fluffy. Gradually add sugar to the butter; beat well.
3. Add egg and pumpkin to the butter/sugar mixture and mix well.
4. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add dry mixture to pumpkin mixture. Stir in chocolate and pecans.
5. Drop dough by teaspoon on lightly greased cookie sheet.
6. Bake for approximately 8-13 minutes (watch the first batch very close to figure out the time for your oven/cookie size).  Remove to cooling rack.

Makes approximately 3 to 4 dozen.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

No need to look around and buy zillions of different blends and seasoning mixes. You can just mix this up and store it in an airtight container or reused shaker (just run any reused jar through the dishwasher a couple times. If its plastic, you may want to let it soak overnight with 1 tsp lemon juice and water to make sure there are no lingering smells or tastes from the previous contents before going through the dishwasher)

4 TBSP ground cinnamon
2 TBSP ground ginger 
1 TBSP ground allspice 
1 TBSP ground nutmeg  

Yields 8 TBSP, for a smaller quantity make the recipe with teaspoons instead of tablespoons to make 8 tsp or 2 2/3 TBSP (About the size of the small McCormack's jars)

Cranberry Almond Oatmeal Cookies

I make a lot of variations with my 2 standby cookie recipes. This one is great for fall and the holidays.

2 sticks softened butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs (room temp if possible)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup white flour
3 cup oats
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Mix butter, sugars, vanilla extract and almond extract until fluffy.
3. Add eggs, baking soda, and salt and mix until blended.
4. Beat in flour and oats. Stir in nuts and cranberries gently until incorporated into dough.
5. Use a tablespoon to scoop dough. Roll into a ball and flatten to form each cookie.
6. Bake 8-11 minutes until cookies are lightly browned. Let cool 5-10 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Roasted Fall Vegetables

Any 3 lb combination of the following:
butternut squash
whole fresh pie pumpkin
acorn squash
small round onions
2-3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, nutmeg

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Peel the veggies, and scoop the seeds from the squashes. Cut everything into uniform 1-2" chunks (depending on the thickness of the round part of the pumpkin/butternut and the skinny end of the parsnips).

In a large bowl toss the veggies in olive oil. Spread into a single layer on 2 non-stick baking sheets sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and nutmeg.

Roast from 20-40 minutes (depends on your oven) stirring once or twice. The veggies are done when they are soft and have brown spots.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Black Bean (soup)

This is just a twist on black bean soup, with a lighter broth. It is full of protein and fiber and keeps you full! It only has about 150 calories and 3 grams of fat per 1.5 cup bowl, it easy to make and very budget friendly

4 cups orange squash, peels and cut into large chunks
6-8 stalks celery ( Its best to use the center for soups. You can throw the leaves right in too.)
small onion, chopped
1 inch peeled/sliced ginger root
2 cloves garlic
2 c chicken brown or 2 bouillon cubes
1 can pinto beans, rinsed
2 cans black beans, rinsed
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin

Place vegetables, pinto beans, and broth/bouillon in a large pot. Add water until everything is covered. Cook on medium heat 20-30 minutes until squash softened.

Use an immersion or stand-up blender and puree soup until it is smooth. Add black beans and seasonings and cook another 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Baked Sausage Spinach and Pumpkin Ziti

I made this for the first time tonight after ideas from a few recipes floating around. It was absolutely the most delicious pumpkin dish/item I have made and I can't wait to eat some of the leftovers for lunch tomorrow... It may even be making an appearance for Tia and Nathan's Halloween Spooktacular since its kid and adult friendly!

12 oz box whole-wheat ziti
2-4 cloves garlic
1 large onion
4 links hot Italian sausage (chicken or turkey), frozen
1 can pumpkin (be careful that its not pumpkin pie filling)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 can (12 fl. oz.) fat free evaporated milk
1 small box frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded part-skim or 2% milk reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup (1.5 oz.) shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 375º F. Spray 9"x13" baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Reserve 3/4 cup pasta cooking water and set aside for later use. Drain pasta; return to cooking pot.

While the pasta is cooking, cut the sausage into 1/4" slices on a diagonal (its much easier to cut when still frozen).  Spray a skillet with cooking spray over medium heat. Cook the sausage until its browned, and add the onions. When the onions are soft, add the garlic and cook until onion and garlic are browned. Add to the cooking pot with the pasta.

Turn the heat down in the skillet to low-medium. Add pumpkin, flour, salt, nutmeg and cayenne pepper in medium skillet over medium heat. Slowly add evaporated milk, whisking until smooth. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken slightly. Pour over pasta in pot. Add reserved pasta cooking water; stir well.

Spread half of the pasta mixture into prepared baking dish. Top with spinach. Cover with remaining pasta mixture, then the cheeses.

Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly browned.

It tastes AMAZING and packs a healthy punch of vegetables with the pumpkin and spinach.
Serving Size = 1/12 servings of recipe
Calories 200, Fat =4 grams

Unprocessed Apples and Cinnamon Oatmeal

I like to make this in the morning for my kids before school to give them a good hearty breakfast. I usually start it 10 minutes before they get up, and just let it cook while I am working on lunches. This recipe makes 4 kid-sized bowls [or 2 kids and 1 hungry mom ;)]

1 c Quaker oats
1/8 c whole flax seed
1 TBSP Splenda, honey, agave nectar, or sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
dash cinnamon
2 c skim milk

Mix the ingredients in a small saucepan over low-medium heat. Stir occasionally until thickened, 10-15 minutes. Top with 1/4 c applesauce.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Beer Braised Pork Ribs

1/2 tsp each: chili powder, curry powder, cumin, coriander, kosher salt
1/4 tsp each: black pepper, crushed red pepper
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 rack ribs or 2-3 lbs bone-in spare ribs or 1 1/2-2 lbs boneless country ribs
1 12 oz can beer (something you would drink, the flavor will carry)

Mix the spices together and rub all over the meat. Let sit 15-20 minutes.

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Heat 1 tsp vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet on medium-heat heat. Brown ribs on all sides and transfer to a 9"x13" baking dish. Pour beer into the skillet and whisk or stir to deglaze the pan (loosen up all the brown bits from the meat/seasonings). Pour the beer over the ribs and cover tightly with foil. Cook 2 hours without opening the foil or disturbing.

Remove ribs from oven and raise heat to 375 degrees. Turn the ribs over and baste with the beer/juices. Put back in the oven, and every 15 minutes turn the ribs oven and baste for 1 hour, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Easy Cinnamon Applesauce

This recipe makes a large amount of applesauce, which is great for canning for the winter or storing it in the freezer in quart bags. You can reduce the amount and make a smaller batch, this recipe will make about 3-4 quarts.

8-10 pounds apples ( I like 60% gala, 30% red delicious, 10% granny smith)
2 cinnamon sticks
Sugar (optional)

Peel, core, and cut the applies into 8ths. Put them in a large stock pot, and fill with water to about 2" below the top of the apples. Add cinnamon sticks.

Cook on low-medium heat for about 2 hours, occasionally crushing the apples with a potato masher to desired texture. If you like a real smooth consistency, puree in a blender but be careful not to over blend and turn into baby food.

I don't add any sugar because I don't like things overly sweetened, but if you prefer sweetened applesauce you can add sugar to taste 1 TBSP at a time. If you use sweet apples, its pretty sweet on its own from the natural sugars.

If you are canning some/all of the sauce, heat a water bath to a rolling boil. Wash jars, rings, and seals, and sterilize in boiling water for 10 minutes. Pour sauce into hot jars leaving 1/4" head space at the top. Seal with lids and rings. Process for 40 minutes, remove and let sit overnight. Check that all of the lids have properly sealed (they won't pop anymore when you push the center down) and refrigerate any that did not seal (they will need to be used within a couple weeks, but I have never had this happen before).

I learned how to can last year from my friend Country Mouse. It's a great way to get produce when its cheap and save it for later. I try to buy it as fresh as possible from the farmer's market or local produce market. For more info on canning and processing, see: or just google what you are wanting to can (there are tons of sites out there).

Wondering what a hot water bath is?

A real big (and inexpensive) pot with a rack that you can lift the jars in and out with. You can also use a pressure cooker if you have one.

Thai-ish Peanut Veggie Noodle Bowl

This is something that I created while trying to copy a dish that I had at a Thai fast food take-out place. I'm not sure if it's made with anything close to the original, but the kids love it, its quick to make and it gets some veggies in.

1/2 lb whole wheat spaghetti (if you don't do wheat pasta try Ronzoni smart taste=healthier white pasta)
1lb bag frozen stir fry veggies
1/2 c peanut butter
1/2 c apple juice
1/4 c low sodium soy sauce
1/2" fresh ginger, grated
1 large garlic clove, grated
1 tsp curry powder
black/red pepper to taste
1/2 c peanuts, crushed
1/2 c scallions, finely chopped

Bring water to boil in a large pasta pot. Cook pasta for 5-7 minutes, then add frozen veggies and cook another 5-7 (don't go more than a couple minutes over the directions for al dente). Drain pasta and veggies into a strainer and set aside.

Put the same pan back on the stove over medium heat. Add peanut butter, soy, and apple juice and whisk until blended together. Add garlic, ginger, curry and pepper and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce heat to medium and cook sauce 2-3 minutes to thicken and partially cook garlic.

Toss the pasta and veggies in the peanut sauce. Top with chopped peanuts and scallions.

Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France Cheese, Rösle, Emile Henry, ManPans and Rouxbe.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Best Meatloaf I Have Ever Had (thanks to Tracy Cournoyer-Palana)

This is a recipe from a friend that I met by our love for food, facebook, and Tracy Foley. While I have never actually met her in person, she's on my list of people who I want to eat dinner with, because everytime she mentions what shes making for dinner, my mouth waters!

2 lbs ground chuck (or turkey, or veal/pork/beef mix)
2 eggs
1/4- 1/2 c low sodium soy sauce
1 TBSP parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP mustard
1 c Italian breadcrumbs or stale bread, small cubes + 1 TBSP italian seasoning
1 medium onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper
Heinz Chili Sauce (optional)
2 c (16 oz) grated mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix ground beef and eggs. Add bread. Add dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients. Add onion.

Put 1/2 of the meat mixture in a loaf pan. Add the mozzarella to the center of the loaf, and the rest of the meat on top. Use a rubber spatula to push the meat down on the sides to seal the meatloaf and keep the cheese in. Top with chili sauce to taste.

Bake for 1 hour.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Easy Peasy Broccoli and Cheesy

1 extra large head of broccoli (5-6 cups cut)
2 c cubed velveeta
1 can cream of whatever
1/4 c shredded cheddar
1/2 sleeve whole wheat ritz crackers
2 TBSP butter
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees (or what its set on for other items).

Put 2 inches of water in a large pasta pot and boil. Add the brocoli, cut into florets. Cook 4-5 minutes until soft but still firm.

Drain broccoli, and chop up. Mix with soup, velveeta, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the top with cheddar, then crushed ritz. Cut butter into tiny cubes and place over the top.

Bake in the oven until bubbly and the crumbs are browned. MMMMmmmmmmm

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mexican Mac and Cheese

12 oz box wagon wheel pasta (or other short cut)
2 c milk
2 TBSP flour
1 TBSP butter
1 1/2 c shredded jack cheese
1/2 c queso fresco (or feta if you cant find it)
1 c frozen/canned corn, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes w/ green chilies
1 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1 c crushed tortilla chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9X13" baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook pasta 7-10 minutes (until al dente). Drain and set aside.

While the water is boiling for the pasta, melt butter in a skillet, and add flour. Whisk until it forms a paste. Add in milk, and cook stirring constantly until it just comes to a boil, and reduce heat to low-medium. Add in spices, cheese and tomatoes, and stir until cheese is melted. Mix black beans and corn in.

Pour the cheese sauce into the pasta and mix well. Pour into the baking dish and top with the crushed tortilla chips. Bake about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.