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.

Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Bread

Mmmmmm.... fall

A year hasn't gone by since Tia's been born that I haven't made at least 1 batch of pumpkin bread or muffins. Some years there have been several. We share them, freeze them, and eat them for breakfast and snacks.

I can't remember how many muffins you get, because I tend to make breads (of all sizes). Usually we line up a tray or two, depending on what size muffin, and just pour whatever batter is left in to make a loaf.

1 cup vegetable oil

3 cup white sugar
4 eggs
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree (or 2 cups fresh)

2/3 cup water
3 1/2 c all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2  c chopped walnuts
1 c dried cranberries
Heat oven to 350 degrees Grease and flour three 7 x 3 inch loaf pans (or line muffin tins).

Mix oil, sugar, and eggs together in a large bowl. Mix in pumpkin puree and water. Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add to the pumpkin mixture, and mix until just combined. Stir in 3/4 cup nuts and craisins. Divide batter into prepared pans (if making muffins, fill 2/3 of the muffin cups). Finely chop the rest of the nuts, and sprinkle them on top.

Bake for 1 hour (start with 15 minutes and check with toothpick every 5 min for muffins). Cool on wire racks.

Little Chili Pies

Great idea for using up your leftover chili!!

4 c. chili, like Tia's chili  or Pumpkin Ancho Chili , heated
1 c. shredded cheese
1 box instant cornbread mix, like Jiffy
1 c frozen/canned (drained) corn
2 TBSP thin sliced green onions

Spray 4 oven safe bowls with cooking spray.  Put  1 c. chili in the bottom of each bowl, top with cheese.

Mix the cornbread batter according to the directions on the box and add the corn and onions, divide batter equally in each bowl.

Cook according to package directions (use the time for muffins). Use the toothpick test to make sure cornbread is done and serve!

*** You will need to let the bowls sit a few minutes so that they are safe to handle ESPECIALLY for little ones.

Leftover bread stuffing

Being as financially saavy (cheap) as I try to be we save all leftover bread in a bag in the freezer. Leftover sandwich rolls, hotdog buns, the ends of the loaf, homemade bread that gets stale quick, its all game. Besides stuffing to go along with pork chops and chicken for dinner, I also use it whenever I make meatballs/meatlof, make croutons, and toast/process it for breadcrumbs for coating.

1 small onion
1 celery stalk
1 apple, cored and in thin slices, sliced cut in half
5 to 6 slices of white or whole wheat bread, cubed
1/2-1 stick butter
1/4 tsp dried sage
salt and pepper

Cube bread slices. Chop onion and celery and apple.

In large frying pan, sauté celery and onion in about 2 tbsp butter.

When onion and celery have softened, melt about 2 tbsp of butter in pan and add bread cubes and apples. Mix, adding butter as needed, until all the bread has been lightly fried and coated in butter. Try not to overmix, letting the bottom layer brown up between turning the pan. Salt and pepper to taste.
If not serving it immediately, put it in a casserole dish in a warm oven along with whatever else you are cooking.

Chicken Pastina

I got this idea from Giada's Everyday Italian. It was one of her kid friendly dishes, and we all love it in my house.

1 c pastina pasta or any small pasta
2 TBSP olive oil
1 c cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
1/2 c diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced fire roasted tomatoes with juice
1 c shredded mozzarella
1/4 c chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c bread crumbs
1/4 c grated Parmesan
1 TBSP butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish.

In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Miss Vee's FAMOUS Spinach Dip

Well, almost. This is one of the recipes that I can't find but made it so many times I am pretty sure I have it close. I have made a couple MDP twists, but started with her recipe for success.

1 box frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 8oz block of cream cheese
1 c cheddar cheese
1 c mozzarella
1/2 c parmesan
8 oz sour cream
1 packet veggie soup mix
small onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 can artichoke hearts, drained

Spray a medium size saucepan with cooking spray. Saute onions and peppers until soft, add spinach. Add cream cheese and stir until melted, add remaining ingredients but reserving1/2 c of the cheddar cheese. Once everything is blended together, put in a glass pie pan. Sprinkle with the remaining cheddar. Bake in a 350 oven for 15-20 minutes.

Serve with veggies, tortilla chips , crackers, or bread.

Get a round loaf of bread from your favorite bakery and cut/tear the center out. Tear into chunks for dipping.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Everything Bagelish Pinwheel Calzones

I have been making these forever- they are great for lunches, snacks or parties. I have made my own dough since getting my Kitchen Aid mixer, but have done many batches with Pillsbury roll out refrigerated pizza dough or a dough ball from Zaccanini's, and they are just as good. You can do almost any combination of meats and cheeses, so I am just going to go with a couple favorites to give you an idea.

1 batch pizza dough OR 1 pre-made refrigerated pizza dough
1 egg, beaten
sesame seeds
poppy seeds
dried onion flakes
garlic powder

sliced ham
sliced salami
sliced pepperoni (thin)
1/2 c roasted red peppers
1/2 c onions (sliced SUPER thin)
1 c mozzarella
1/4 c shredded Parmesan

sliced turkey breast or ham
1 c broccoli florets (cooked, drained, and chopped)
3/4  c cheddar cheese
1/2 c mozzarella

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle, about 1/4" thick. Layer each meat across the dough (or 2 layers of meat if you are just doing 1 type), leaving 2" at the top empty. Repeat with the veggies, then cheese.

Begin to roll the dough upwards towards the empty space at the top, pinching the ends to hold the toppings in as you roll up. Once you have wrapped all the topped dough, pull the empty dough (kind of tightly) and stretch it over the roll and pinch down to seal everything together.

Lay the roll on a baking sheet, seem side down. Add 2 TBSP of water to the egg and beat. Using a pastry brush, coat the roll with egg wash.

Sprinkle the loaf with the seeds, onion flakes, and garlic powder.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown and the sesame seeds are toasted. Let cool (at least until room temp) before slicing.

This sauce is great to go with them, and can be served hot, room temp, or even cold!
1 can Hunts fire roasted tomatoes
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Italian seasoning
salt and black pepper to taste

Puree in a blender/processor (I use my old baby food grinder since we don't have much use for it and its just the right size) 15-30 seconds until blended.

You want to make sure that any veggies you use are sliced real thin, and partially or fully cooked ahead of time to eliminate too much moisture inside the calzone, which will make steam and and blow a hole.

If you are using a few leafs of spinach or some thin tomato slices, just make sure they washed and well dried but anything like broccoli, peppers, onions, etc needs to be pre-cooked.

You may get a small hole from the action inside the magical roll. As long as its just a small, slow leak, nothing to worry about and your roll will still be full of goodness.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Zucchini Squares

My mom gave me this recipe a couple years ago when we had an abundant crop of zucchini and were growing tired of grilled zucchini, zucchini and scrambled eggs, and sauteed zucchini. The recipe called for zucchini or summer squash, but after making it a few times I started using all kinds of veggies. Its real quick and easy and packs a huge punch of vegetables.

2 medium zucchini or summer squash, thinly sliced OR 1 head of broccoli chopped or 2 cups cooked/drained spinach, 1/2 c shredded carrots OR 2 c mushrooms OR any 2 c combination
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 c Bisquick
1/2 c thinly sliced and chopped onion
1/2 c cheddar cheese
1/4 c Parmesan
2 eggs

Grease or spray with nonstick cooking spray, the bottom of casserole dish. Mix all ingredients together in large bowl until the vegetables look coated. Pour into casserole dish and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Let it stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Potlucks, brunches, snacking, turkey day app- I have made it for all kinds of different occasions!
I also make this in a 12 cup muffin tin and call it "veggie bites"

Duh, its full of vegetables.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chef Bratty Girl's Sausage and Pepper Ravioli

Way back in 2003 my friends rallied together on short noticed to move me out of a dumpy little apartment that was going downhill fast in the 2 months I lived there. To says thanks to one friend (Mr. Richard St. George) for this and many other super heroic acts over the course of our friendship, I cooked him this meal.  Chef Bratty Girl was his nickname for me way back before I was Mom vs Food.

Mom and St.George circa 2005
1 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage links, cut into 1" chunks
3-4 garlic gloves
2 large bell peppers (any color)
1 large onion 
1 large can (28oz) crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 tsp Italian seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste
crushed red pepper  (a couple shakes, depending on how spicy you like your food)
1 lb frozen cheese ravioli

Cook ravioli according to package directions. Drain well.

In a large skillet, brown sausage chunks on medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic, rough chopped. Add peppers, cut into thin strips. Once veggies have softened, add the tomato sauce and seasonings. Simmer 15-20 minutes.
Serve sausage and peppers over the ravioli, topped with grated Parmesan.

* Bell papers are full of vitamin C and A, antioxidants and lycopene
* Onions and garlic are believed to be good for fighting off colds and germs
* Tomatoes  have lots of vitamins and minerals plus they are an excellent source of lycopene and beta carotene

If you like this recipe, you may also like:
Sausage and Pepper Egg Bake
Spinach and Pumpkin Ziti
Sausage Soup
Kielbasa and Pepper Skillet

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

After a success on turning yellow cake into peanut butter cake, I discovered I love peanut butter desserts. I plan on bringing this cake (bundt style drizzled with chocolate icing) to a spaghetti dinner tomorrow night at church. I don't always have time for a fancy layered cake so a bundt makes it quick to make and easy to decorate.

2 1/4 cups white flour
1 1/3 c sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 c creamy peanut butter
1/2 c softened butter
1/4 c shortening
1 1/4 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 c chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan.
Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, or stand mixer bowl. Add peanut butter, butter, shortening, milk and vanilla. Beat 2 minutes on low/medium, or 1 minute with the flat beater on #2 for stand mixer.

Scrape bowl, add eggs, beat for 1 minute on low/medium or 30 seconds #2 w/stand. Scrape bowl and beat for 2 minutes on high, 1 minute #6 w/stand.

Add chocolate chips and stir by hand, or mix in on stir for stand (10-15 seconds).

Pour into pan and bake 45 minutes for bundt. Test doneness by inserting a toothpick into center, the cake is done when pick comes out clean.

Let sit 15 minutes, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Best topped with Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting or glazed with Chocolate Glaze.

I always dreamed and wanted a kitchenaid, and Santa figured me out and had one under the tree last year!!!! Best friend a kitchen girl could have.

If you like this recipe, check out:

Monday, October 4, 2010

QUICK banana nut waffles

I love to surprise my kids every once in a while with something homemade for breakfast before school. These are pretty quick to whip up, and I work on lunches in the 6 minute periods they are in the waffle iron.

1 overripe banana
1/2 c chopped walnuts
2 c baking mix
1 1/2 c  buttermilk
2 eggs

Turn on the waffle iron and let it heat up well.

Use a fork to mash the banana in a medium mixing bowl. Add in buttermilk and eggs and blend well (or you can get it real smooth with an immersion blender or put in a regular blender). Add in the baking mix and walnuts.

Pour into waffle iron, flip, and follow manufacturers directions for cooking time (mine is 6 minutes each).

Creamy Roasted Zucchini Rice

2 TBSP chicken drippings
1/4 c. orzo, small pasta, spaghetti broken into small bits
1 c. white rice
2 c. white wine
2 c. chicken stock
1 zucchini, cut into matchsticks
cooking spray
salt and pepper

Take 2 TBSP drippings from a roasted chicken, trying to get more of the fat than juice. Heat in a medium heat skillet for 30-45 seconds until the liquid has dissipated and remaining is hot. Add the pasta, and cook until browned. Once browned, add the rice and toast until browned.

Spray a small baking sheet, spread out zucchini, and cover the top with cooking spray. Season with garlic salt and pepper. Cook under a low broiler, stirring occasionally until roasted and there are dark brown spots.

Add in 1/2 c of the stock and cook, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed. Continue adding liquid, 1/2 c. at a time alternating the wine and stock. If rice still doesn't seem cooked after its all been added, add in 1/2 c water at a time until its the firmness desired. Mix zucchini into rice and serve.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Oven roasted chicken

I love to roast up a whole chicken on Sunday afternoons for a yummy home style dinner. I grab them when they are nice and cheap and keep a few on hand in the freezer for just such a day. This is great with creamy roasted zucchini rice as a side.

1 fryer/oven stuffer roaster/other name whole chicken- 3-5 lbs (thawed, washed, gut packet removed)
1 lemon
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 apple, peeled and chopped into small cubes
1 rib celery, sliced
1 TBSP olive oil
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning

Place whole chicken in a roasting pan, breast side up. Using a knife, cut skin away from the meat above the breast, creating a pocket.

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the yellow peel from the outside of the lemon, avoiding the white. In small bowl, mix lemon peel, olive oil, salt and pepper, and 2 of the rosemary sprigs but into 1" chunks. Stuff into the pocket between the skin and the meat, using a toothpick to hold together if needed.

In the same bowl, add 1/4 tsp poultry seasoning, salt and pepper, apple, celery, and the juice from the lemon. Mix together, and stuff into the center cavity of the chicken. Stick the 2 remaining whole rosemary sprigs into cavity.  Use a toothpick to close cavity and keep stuffing in.

Roast chicken in a 325 degree oven until a thermometer reads at least 165 degrees (about 2-3 hours). Let stand for 15 minutes before carving.

VARIATION: This is also DELICIOUS if instead of lemon, apple, and rosemary you use orange, cranberries and fresh sage leaves.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sunny morning blueberry muffins

These muffins are delicious and have a bright taste from the lemon. They are great with fresh picked blueberries, but you can use frozen too.

Blueberry picking with Johnna

1 c. white flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. white sugar
1 TBSP baking powder
lemon rind from 1 lemon (grate into large bowl, avoiding the white part)
2 egg whites
2/3 c. buttermilk
1/3 c. unsweetened apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla
1 c blueberries

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 6- 3" muffin  cups with cooking spray for large muffins, or 12- 2 1/2" cups for small.

In large bowl mix flours, sugar, baking powder and lemon rind. Make a hole in the center of the dry mix.

In a small bowl, whip whites until foamy, then add in buttermilk, applesauce, and vanilla and mix until blended.

Add wet mix into the well in the middle of the dry mix and gently stir until just moistened. Fold in blueberries.

Spoon the batter into cups and bake 22-25 minutes for large, 18-20 minutes for small. Use a toothpick in the center of the muffin to make sure they are done and cool 5 minutes on a wire rack before eating.

* Blueberries are full of antioxidants.
* Instead of butter or oil these muffins have applesauce and buttermilk (which is usually fat-free or very low-fat)
* Leaving out the egg yolks lowers the fat content.
* Each large muffin has about 280 calories and less than 1 gram of fat compared to 400 calories and 14 grams if you didnt make the substitutions)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Harvest Mac and Cheese

I have to make a few dishes with hidden veggies to get my family to eat them. One big one is hiding squash from Brian .... sadly he is starting to catch on, but for the first time EVER I saw him eat squash. This is probably a little fatty, almost in a Paula Deen kind of way, but so yummy.

1/2 medium size butternut squash, peeled and in 1" cubes
1 lb of shortcut pasta (I love gemelli, small shells or radiatori)
1/2 lb thick sliced bacon
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 TBSP flour
2 c. milk
2 c. cheese ( I liked a mix of cheddar, pepper jack, and something funky like blue or Gorgonzola)
pinch nutmeg, cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat broiler to low. 

Fill a large pasta pot with water and add squash cubes. Bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Add pasta and cook 7-9 minutes based on package directions. Drain and set aside in colander.

Keep bacon together and cut into 1/2" pieces across the stack of slices. Cook bacon in skillet until crispy, use a metal slotted spoon to remove the pieces and put into the empty/dry pasta pot.

Add the onions to the hot bacon grease and cook until brown and crispy. Use the slotted spoon, and move onions to the pasta pot with the bacon. Discard the bacon grease, carefully wipe the skillet with a paper towel, and add 2 TBSP of butter. Once the butter is melted, sprinkle flour and whisk together to form a roux. Once butter and flour have turned to a lightly browned paste, add the milk, nutmeg, cumin and a dash of salt and pepper. Wisk frequently, and as soon as the milk mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to low.

Add cheeses, stirring until melted and mixed together, and taste the mixture so that you can adjust salt and pepper. Because of the bacon and cheese, it will already have a good amount of salt.

Add pasta back to the pot with the onions and bacon, then pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and mix until its well blended.

Butter a 9"x13" baking dish, and pour the cheesy pasta in.

Mix breadcrumbs and butter together to form a crumb topping. Sprinkle across the top of the pasta.

Put under the broiler for a few minutes (watching closely) until the top is golden brown.