Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fast, easy, holiday dessert!

[Once again, sorry for the craptastic photo! I took it inside at about 9:00 PM...not the most ideal circumstances!]

If you are looking for a super easy, kid [and adult] friendly dessert for all of your holiday parties, try these delicious chocolate cupcakes with peppermint buttercream! 

You can make any type of chocolate cupcake, or even used a box mix if you aren't down with making your own.

For the buttercream, simply add 1 tsp. of peppermint extract to your normal recipe [I can post mine if you need it]!  I colored mine with "Christmas red" food gel [the kind you get at a bakery store or craft store], and sprinkled the top with red & white peppermint sugared sprinkles.  You could also sprinkle with crushed up candy canes too! 

These turned out so pretty, and delicious!  My boys absolutely loved them!  Also great served with a scoop of peppermint icecream! 


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Food...of the felt kind.

This is the kind of "cooking" I've been doing lately.

I'm making up a shload of felt food for Zoe for Christmas!  I still have plans to make a bit more, but don't know if I'll have it all done in time for Christmas.  I'm going to do a few more donuts, some cupcakes, some farfalle pasta, ice cream sandwiches...

It's been pretty easy, but does have a slight learning curve.  I made all of these patterns myself.  I'm using regular crafters felt---wishing I could be using nice wool felt, but it's a lot more expensive.

I'm also limited in my colors!  I don't love the color of the bacon, but it's all I had and all I could find...I wanted a brighter pink for the donut frosting, but oh well!

The bacon has pipe cleaner sewed inside of it, so it bends.  Seriously, so freakin' cute.
And I love the eggs. They turned out crazy cute...also one of the easiest, by far.

Hate the first donut [dark chocolate with pink frosting].  It took me FOREVER, and I don't like how it turned out.  Perfected it a bit with the 2nd donut [light brown with pink frosting]...but still have a few things to tweak when I make more.

The cookies were a no-brainer, took minimal time, but still kind of cute. 

Maybe after Christmas I'll be able to cook with real food again!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Crack!

Sorry for the lack of posts.  I'm an all or nothing kind of person, and having "one more thing" to do really stresses me out! I had to take blogging out of the equation for awhile.  I'm really busy making Christmas gifts, enjoying my kiddos and getting ready for the holidays.

Toffee.  I'm not a candy person, but I have loved toffee ever since I was a little girl.  I remember one of my dad's employees always gave him a big "brick" of toffee [from Sees, I think], it came with a little hammer to whack it into pieces.  Mmm.

I don't usually eat things like this [watching that figure!], but Christmas is the perfect time. This recipe is amazing.  It's SO easy.  SO fast.  Cheap.  All signs point to awesomeness.

I didn't create this recipe, in fact, you may have seen it before, but it's too good not to share.  Don't be alarmed of the ghettoness of it, it all tastes and looks fabulous in the end.

Christmas Crack [aka: toffee]
  • 1 sleeve Saltine crackers [I needed 1 sleeve plus a few more crackers]
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 c. butter [real butter]
  • 1 pkg. chocolate chips [or more, depending how thick you like your chocolate "crust"]
  • 3/4 c. chopped nuts [pecans, walnuts, etc.] -- optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a 10x15" cookie sheet [the kind with raised edges] with foil [covering over the edges], and spray with cooking spray.  Cover the sheet with a single layer of saltines.
  3. In a saucepan, over medium-hi heat, bring butter and brown sugar to a boil.  Boil for 3 minutes, stirring with a whisk.  Pour over saltines, and try to spread it as evenly as possible.
  4. Place in the oven and bake for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven carefully, as the liquid will be bubbly and very hot [duh]. 
  6. Allow to cool for about 3 minutes, or until you can see the crackers distinctly.  If your crackers have shifted during baking, move back into place using a fork.  [I didn't need to do this.]
  7. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top and let sit for about 5 minutes to melt.  When all of the chocolate chips are shiney and melted, spread chocolate evenly. [Like you are frosting a cake.]
  8. If desired sprinkle the top with nuts and slightly press into chocolate. 
  9. Let cool a bit and then transfer to fridge to harden.
  10. Once hard, break candy into pieces and store in containers. 
This takes about 10 minutes to make, but tastes like it took a lot longer!! Enjoy!

Monday, November 30, 2009


Hopefully you survived T-day without my beloved pie crust!! What can I say? I was busy with baking, 3 kids, art projects [for table decorations], and busy sewing Christmas gifts.

I'm a bad food-blogger lately. Perhaps I should take a small hiatus??

Sunday, November 22, 2009 come

Coming soon [maybe today/tonight?], my recipe for pie crust. I'm gearing up for a week full of baking. I'm making tons of pies, homemade cranberry sauce, turkey cupcakes [not as gross as they sound!], and many other Thanksgiving classics.

What are you making for T-day this year? Need any recipes? I might have some!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Homemade English Muffins

Okay, seriously. Jackpot.

I've found a lot of recipes for English muffins in the past, but they've all used a lot of milk [in the dough] and shortening, which I'd prefer not to use often, if possible.

I finally found this recipe, the ingredients are basic, the method is easy, and the result is freaking nuts. Seriously. If you've never had a homemade English muffin you are seriously missing out. The are leaps and bounds above the rubbery, preservative filled, store bought kind. Not to mention, SO much more cost effective. It cost me probably .06 cents to make each of these.

Each of these muffins is 110 calories each, 2.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of protein, and 18 grams of carbohydrates. Thank you CIA for the recipe!!

English Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
  • 1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water [110 F]
  • 2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour [next time I'll try half wheat, half regular]
  • 1 T. butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. cornmeal [+/-]
  • small amount of vegetable oil
  1. Place the yeast and the warm water in the bowl of a mixer, and stir to completely dissolve. [I added the sugar during this step, to help the yeast activate quickly!] Let the yeast proof until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the flour, butter, sugar [if you didn't add it in step 1], and salt to the yeast mixture. Mix the ingredients together on low speed [using your dough hook] until well blended, about 2 minutes.
  3. Increase speed to medium-high and mix until the dough is smooth, another 5 minutes. [Mine only took 3 minutes!]
  4. Shape the dough into a ball, being careful not to overwork the dough, and place it in a lightly greased bowl. [I sprayed my glass bowl with non-stick spray.] Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours. [I let mine rise for about 1 1/2 hours.]
  5. Fold the dough gently over itself in 3 or 4 places [DO NOT OVERWORK! Or you'll loose the great airpockets inside your muffin] and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
  6. There are several ways to shape your muffins. You can roll to about 1/2" thick and use a biscuit cutter [or any circle cutter] to cut the dough. You can roll the dough into a nice uniform log and cut 12 equal pieces. Or you can free form shape them [like I did]. Divide your dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece [using your hands, but not overworking] into rounds, and place them onto a sheet pan that has been heavily coated with cornmeal. Turn rounds over, so that each side gets coated with cornmeal.
  7. Cover and let rise until they have risen slightly, about 1/2 hour.
  8. Preheat griddle over medium heat and brush lightly with cooking oil. [I used my big pancake griddle, and had the heat on high.] Cook the English muffins until lightly browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Turn the muffins over and cook about 5 minutes more. [It is okay if they are slightly underdone, they will finish cooking when you toast them. If you aren't going to toast them, the be sure to cook them through.]
  9. Store in a plastic storage bag in the refrigerator. To split the muffins, use a fork and pierce through, in a straight line all the way around the muffin. They will split right open.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ooh La La.

As soon as the little people are in bed tonight, I'm going to make homemade English muffins.

Boo-yah, as Camden would say. I found a new recipe and I'm about to test it out.

[I think I'll make some honey butter, and serve them for breakfast. Or homemade honey peanut butter with bananas... For the people who can eat stuff like that and not weigh 10,000 lbs. In case you were wondering, that doesn't include me.]

Friday, November 13, 2009


That is so not me.

But I dig her fancy hat and pepper grinder.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I debated about not even posting a picture, but then it feels naked. Sorry for the craptastic picture. Taking pictures in the kitchen, when it's dark outside, with flourescent lighting= not a good combo.

But who cares. The soup is freaking tasty, so that's all that matters. My house is in full-blown soup mode, right now. I have recipes waiting to be posted for minestrone, broccoli cheddar, creamy chicken & wildrice... Soup is a good, good thing.

I started making this soup after I had my first baby. I was working my way into the world of "cooking", and trying to learn and teach myself things. This soup was based on the [in]famous taco soup that was [is?] popular at that time. I wanted something with chicken, and I wanted it more loose, and less "Welcome to the church potluck." After some tweakage, this is what I came up with.

*This recipe is very, very versatile. For instance: Chris hates beans. I, however, love beans. I love black beans in this soup. So sometimes I make them without, sometimes I make a big batch, and seperate it into two, and add different [good] stuff to my soup, and leave his alone. You can add pretty much anything, as long as the base stays the same.

Serve this soup with sour cream [serve on top, and then mix to balance the flavors], cheddar cheese, diced avocado, green onion, black olives, or tortilla chips. [I prefer fat free sour cream and avocado. Chris and Mason dig it with cheese & chips. Camden likes it with sour cream, cheese, chips and black olives.]

[Also great with homemade tortilla strips instead of store bought chips.]
Depending on what you top your soup with, it's very healthy and budget friendly! I'm so multi-faceted, you have no idea!

Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ground cumin
  • 2 [14.5] oz. cans chicken broth [or 4 cups of water mixed with Shirley J chicken bouillon]
  • 1 c. frozen corn [a great way to use the stuff you froze from summer!]
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 T. lemon juice [fresh is best]
  • 1 c. chunky salsa
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes, or rotel
  • optional: black beans, kidney beans, etc.
  1. Boil the chicken in chicken stock or water until cooked through. [I like to season the water/broth with spices to give the chicken more flavor.] Shred the chicken and set aside. [Or use leftover rotisserie chicken.] If you don't want to boil the chicken, you can saute it in the oil with the onions until cooked through.
  2. In a large pot, over medium heat, saute the onions in the oil until tender. Add the cooked chicken for the last minute or so. Add minced garlic and cumin. [I don't measure my cumin, I add it until when I stir everything you can see it slightly coat all of the chicken. I'd guess at least 1 tsp.maybe more!]
  3. Mix well and cook for a couple of minutes, making sure not to cook the garlic.
  4. Pour in chicken broth, canned tomatoes, corn, chili powder and cayenne [if using], lemon juice and salsa. [Also add anything else you are using, ie: black beans, etc.]
  5. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
  6. Serve soup with desired toppings.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pumpkin Supreme

I generally like to avoid dishes that are made with whipped topping [aka: cool whip] and jello. It just feels so....pedestrian? Utahn? I don't know!

However, there are times where I make exceptions. I've had this recipe sitting in my "to try" pile for a long, long time. I had to take a dessert to a Halloween party, and I had a ton of pumpkin to use up, so I decided to give this a whirl.

Comments that followed: "This is better than pumpkin pie!" "Ooooooh. This is soooooo goooood."

The graham cracker crust and cheese cake layer are something different. It pairs nicely with the light, cinnamon/nutmeg flavor of the pumpkin layer.

Pumpkin Supreme
  • 1 3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs [reduced fat/low sugar is fine!]
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted [gulp]
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened [light is fine!]
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 pkgs. sugar free vanilla instant pudding mix [3 3/4 oz. size]
  • 1 c. milk
  • 2 c. cooked, mashed pumpkin [or 16 oz can]
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground nutmeg
  • 12 oz. cool whip, thawed [fat free/light works great]
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Make graham cracker crumbs in food processor, this works best to get the right texture. Combine cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and butter. Press into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Set aside.
  3. Combine cream cheese, eggs, and sugar. Beat until fluffy. Spread over crust. Bake for 25 minutes. [Bake until center is close to being set. Jiggle the pan, and if the middle moves a lot, keep baking!] Cool.
  4. Combine pudding mix and milk. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed with electric mixer. Add pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well. Fold in half of the cool whip. Spread over the cooled cream cheese layer.
  5. Cover with remaining cool whip.
  6. Refrigerate.

*I didn't measure my cinnamon and nutmeg. I just sprinkled it in, tasted it, and added more until it was right. You won't need a TON, just enough to give it some flavor. I'd guess I used about 1/2 tsp. of each. Maybe more, maybe less. How is that for vague?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

French Bread

My mom is, hands down, the best bread maker I know. I was lucky enough to grow up on the best homemade rolls, breads, scones, sweet rolls...

For years I was intimidated by dough and breads and rolls. Thankfully my mom has shared her recipes with me, and I have been able to master them. [Maybe not quite to her level, but I'll keep trying!]

French bread, or any white bread is not the norm in my house. My kids call it "french toast bread", mostly because I only buy it/make it when we make french toast. [And only then because my husband says that whole grain wheat bread doesn't taste good in french toast!] So, when I make a loaf [or 2!] of this, it's always a big deal.

This recipe makes 2 big loaves of bread, or 24 rolls. [Or, 1 loaf of bread and 12 rolls.] The bread freezes great, and so does the dough! You can easily bake half of the dough and freeze the rest to use later.

We used this bread for fondue, and later for french toast. It's also a great basic bread.

French Bread
  • 2 T. yeast
  • 1/2 c. warm water
  • 2 c. hot water
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1 T. salt
  • 1/3 c. shortening [or some type of fat]
  • Flour
  1. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup water. [Pour yeast into water, stir it up and let it sit while you do everything else.] Combine hot water, sugar, salt, and shortening in mixing bowl. Let stand until lukewarm. [Shortening/fat will met, that's what you want!]
  2. Add yeast and 3 cups of flour to mixture. Beat until smooth. Add 3 cups more flour. Beat until stiff dough. [If it is sticky add more flour gradually.]
  3. Remove bowl from mixer, and stir dough with a long spoon. Leave spoon in batter; rest 10 minutes. Stir again; rest 10 minutes. Continue until stirring down has been repeated 5 times. [During the rest times, I cover the bowl with a towel.]
  4. Turn dough out of bowl onto floured surface, and divide into 2 parts. Bread: Shape into loaves and slash diagonally. Rolls: Divide each 1/2 into 12 rolls. Place on a greased cookie sheet, cover and let rise 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees. [Rolls: 15 minutes. Bread: 35 minutes.]

*If you want to freeze the dough, spray a gallon sized ziploc storage bag with non-stick spray, place dough in, and freeze. You'll want a bag big enough to allow the dough to expand, otherwise it will explode everywhere! When you are ready to use, defrost in the fridge and use like normal!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fondue= Fun Dinner

This "dark early" stuff is killer! Sorry for the crappy kitchen lighting.

The other night Camden [my middle child, poor kid], asked what we were having for dinner. I told him, "Fondue!" He said, "Oh wow! I love Fun-dinner!"

So, for now, fondue is called fun dinner. Honestly, a perfect name for this! My boys absolutely LOVED having this for dinner. They loved dipping different things into the sauce, picking their own color of "fondue fork", basically playing with their food.

I'm thrilled because they ate a ton of broccoli, carrots, chicken...and they didn't even realize it!

I served this with homemade french bread [recipe to come!], garlic broccoli [you could easily use raw broccoli, but this was SO good in fondue!], raw carrots, and rotisserie style chicken. I put the fondue pot in the middle of the table, and plates lined with the "dippies" surrounding it.

Unfortunately, I wasn't happy with the fondue that I made. It was a recipe that I'd been wanting to try for a seriously LONG time. It had great reviews, so I followed it exactly, and I was pretty disappointed. So...back to the drawing board. It's on the menu again in a few weeks [because the dudes loved it so much!], so I'll be making my own fondue recipe, and I'll post it then!

Stay tuned for the homemade french bread recipe. It's my moms recipe, and it's pretty much awesome.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dear Santa,

Dear Santa,

I know it isn't even Halloween yet, but I thought I'd give you plenty of time...

Remember my old Kitchen Aid mixer? It's time to move on to something bigger and better. I've done a TON of research, and decided that this is what I need. The Cuisinart SM-55 5 1/2 quart stand mixer.

Or, perhaps if you are feeling really generous, I'm not opposed to the Cuisinart SM-70 7 quart mixer.

Either or, really. I'm not overly picky. [Other than, please bring it in chrome, and I'd love some of the fancy attachments. Like the meat grinder, juicer, pasta maker, food processor, blender...]

Hey...a girl can dream right? It'll most likely be handmixers and wooden spoons for me for a long time. Unless, of course, you know someone that is willing to pay my husband closer to what he's worth?


Okay then, I'll keep dreaming.

[P.S. This mixer is highly suggested by ATK & Cooks Illustrated. Need I say more?!]

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ghoulish Goodies

Little Cam-a-roni [Cammo, Cammers, Cam-a-rama-ding-dong, or Camden] had to take snacks to preschool today!

I'm pretty sure he goes to the only school in the country that still allows homemade snacks. [Good and bad, for sure!] Thankfully I'm the only mom that ever makes anything, which is great! That means my kid isn't eating who knows what from random people, but their kids get to eat super awesome stuff made by me! [Oh so humble, I know!]

They were learning about "Monster Math" today, so we tried to do some creepy themed snacks.
These ideas were found at Family Fun. I altered things slightly, but for the most part love their ideas!

Mummy Bones
Made with typical roll/bread/breadstick dough. Roll the dough into long rectangles, and using kitchen shears, cut about 1 1/2" in on each side. Twist and turn to make "balls". Sprinkle with kosher salt and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
I love how these turned out! Gnarly and twisted looking!

Witches fingers
I used string cheese, with I cut in half. Cut out a small section for the "nailbed", and carve out knuckle creases. Fill the nailbed with soft cream cheese and make a "nail" from any type of veggie. [I used black olives, but you could use red or green peppers, carrots, tomatoes, etc.]

Monster Eye balls
Not the healthiest, but we decided to do one treat because it's a holiday!
Make basic cake balls, or buy store bought donut holes. Spear each ball with a plastic fork [I used coffee stirrers, because I didn't have any plastic forks], and dip in melted white chocolate. Before the chocolate hardens, place a chocolate chip, point side in, for the cornea. [You could also use mini m&ms]. Put in the fridge to harden.

Using red decorating icing, or tinted white chocolate, squiggly on the red slimey bits. This was Cammo's favorite part!

Technically not recipes, but something fun for the kids! The dudes LOVED these! I think we'll remake the fingers and breadsticks for halloween lunch or dinner!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkin Muffins

It's pretty much the pumpkin time of year. We've made pumpkin dip [for apples, cinnamon pita chips and gingersnaps], pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bars, pumpkin bread... I even made pumpkin pasta!

The littles love these muffins! They are great for snacks, breakfast, and even in the lunch box! They are pretty versatile, ie: nearly anything can be added/taken away. You can add raisins & nuts, or do like I did and just do chocolate chips.

Pumpkin Muffins
  • 2 1/3 c. and 1 T. flour
  • 2 c. white sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 3 eggs
  • 15 oz. can pumpkin [or 1/2 of the big can]
  • 1/2 c. applesauce
  • 1/2 c. chopped nuts [optional]
  • 3/4 c. raisins, chocolate chips, etc.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin pans, or line with paper muffin liners. If using raisins, soak in hot water for 10 minutes to plump, then drain.
  2. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ground cloves. In a mixing bowl, mix the eggs, pumpkin and applesauce, until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
  3. Stir in the raisins and nuts [or chocolate chips if you are a rebel like me]. Spoon the batter into the prepared tins.
  4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. [Watch them closely, I think mine took a bit less than I expected!]

This should make close to 2 dozen muffins. They freeze great, if you're into that!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Beef Stew & Butter Dip Breadsticks

The first time I ever thought about making, or learning to make, beef stew, was about 7 years ago! Chris and I were living in an apartment, and we had just had our first baby. We were invited to dinner at an older couples house [they were probably older than our parents, at the time]. They were teachers of one of our classes in church, and just all around amazing people.

They invited us to a "home cooked" dinner. She served beef stew, and probably rolls and maybe a salad. I just remember that Chris kept commenting on how good beef stew was, and that he really liked it.

Thus, it became my task to learn how to make it. By this point in time, I was no longer working, and was trying to sharpen my cooking skillz.

I looked up about 1.2 million beef stew recipes. I combined some, tweaked some, and eventually perfected [in our opinion], the recipe.

We are a soup loving family. [Okay, Chris and I are...the littles will get there eventually!] Now that it is October, soup is on!

I served this stew with butter dip breadsticks. Admittedly not the most healthy side in the world, but they remind me of growing up. We had these all the time with soups and stews when I was a kid. They are very quick to make, and seem to go great with a warm fall/wintery dish.

Beef Stew
  • 2 T. oil [veg oil]
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 T. garlic powder
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper [more or less depending on the kick you want your stew to have]
  • 1 lb. stew meat [Honestly, I usually buy about .80 of a pound! I go for cheap, and stretch the meal. ]
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • bay leaf [optional]
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 3 (10.5 oz) cans of beef stock [you can easily sub Shirley J beef bouillon here]
  • 3 T. reserved flour
  • 3 T. [+/-] cold water
  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. In a Ziploc bag, mix together the flour, garlic powder, salt, pepper and red pepper. Add a small handful of meat at a time, and shake until well coated. Continue until all meat is coated. In batches, brown in hot oil, about one minute per side. Remove the browned meat, and continue until all of the meat is browned.
  2. Lower the heat to medium, and add the chopped onions to the pan. [With meat removed!] You should have enough fat left in the pan, but if you don't, add a tiny bit more oil, so the onions don't burn. Brown onions about 4-6 minutes, or until they are tender and brown. If there is any fat in the pot, remove onions and drain fat. [I never have any left in the pot!]
  3. Add browned beef into the pot with the onions; pour in beef broth. Stir all together and bring to a boil. You can add a bay leaf [or 2] here if you'd like. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't! Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Bring stew back to a boil and add vegetables. [potatoes, carrots, celery] Use 3 T. of the reserved seasonsed flour mixture [the flour you coated the beef with ] and combine it with 3 T. [more or less] of cold water. Whisk it together really well, so no lumps remain. Slowly drizzle into the stew [as it is boiling], and stir. This will thicken your stew a bit, but also give it great flavor.
  5. Reduce heat to love, cover and cook for 40 additional minutes, or until the veggies are done.
  6. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Butter Dip Breadsticks

  • 1/3 c. [+/-] melted butter
  • 2 1/4 c. flour
  • 3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 tsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. milk
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt; mix well. Stir in the milk, just until moistened. Turn onto a floured surface; knead 10-15 times until well combined.
  3. Roll into a 12x9" rectangle, and cut into small strips. [I use a pizza cutter, and cut the rectangle in 1/2 or 1/3 depending on how big it is, and the cut it across to make strips.]
  4. Dip each side of the strip in melted butter and then place on a cookie sheet.
  5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Rustic Apple Tart

If I use a word like "rustic" in the title when I name something, it totally gives it the MS [Martha Stewart] factor. It sounds homey, homemade, fresh, simple, and clean. It makes you want to make it. Trust me. If I would have called it Apple Tart, it wouldn't have the same appeal. It's the same reason they give paint colors fancy names. Instead of "brown", which sounds unappealling and blah, they name it "Rich chocolately mocha" and suddenly you can't figure out why every room in your house is painted brown.

I don't make the rules, I just live by them.

In all seriousness, this just screams fall! I absolutely LOVE apples. In fact, so much so, that in the past 2 weeks, I've bought 4 different kinds of apples, and I'd guess that we had over 10-15 lbs. of apples in our house! No worries on wasting, however. The kiddos love them [as do Chris & I], and I LOVE to bake with them. And if all else fails, I can make easy applesauce or apple butter.

I may or may not have tried to make Mason [my oldest] bite really hard into his apple, in hopes that his front tooth would get stuck in the apple. I really think that's an old wives tale. [Are there old wives tale about teeth?] If his tooth doesn't fall out soon, I might just go crazy. He looks like hillbilly, and it's a wee bit creepy when his tooth is pointing right at you when you try to talk to him. He won't let us pull it. [Trust me, we've tried everything! And, we may or may not have pinned him down and told him, "this won't hurt!" while he screamed and thrashed like a 4 year old girl. I'm not above that.] Instead, I end up slicing his apples for him, and secretly cursing his tooth.

But I digress. I made this to take to my inlaws house for dinner on Sunday. It was a big hit, and seriously awesome served warm with vanilla ice cream. I'm not a sucker for sweets, but it was so good!

The crust on this isn't the same as I use for pie dough. I don't make it quite as flaking [no shortening, butter only], but it's still pretty close. It's a touch sweeter than traditional pie crust as well. [I'll be posting my pie crust recipe in the coming weeks/months. I can't wait to start making pies!!] Thank you again ATK!!

Rustic Apple Tart

  • 1 1/4 cups [6.25 ounces] unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 10 T. butter [real butter!], cut into 1/4 inch pieces and chilled
  • 3-4 T. ice water
  1. Pulse flour, salt and sugar in food processor to combine. Add [cold] butter, scattering it around the flour; cut it into flour until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs. At this point the butter pieces will be mixed in, but you don't want any pieces bigger than small peas.

  2. Pour mixture into a medium sized mixing bowl. Sprinkle 3-4 Tablespoons of ice cold water [I fill a big measuring cup with ice cubes and water, and then dip my Tablespoon into fill it.] With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with the broad side of the spatula until dough sticks together. If it won't come together, add 1-2 T more of ice water. [I never need more than 4 total!]

  3. Press together with hands a bit. [Don't knead!] Don't overwork, because we don't want the butter to melt or soften---cold butter makes the best dough!

  4. Flatten dough into a single disk; wrap with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days before rolling.
  • 1 1/4 lbs Granny Smith apples [about 2 medium or 3 small]
  • 1 1/4 lbs Gala or McIntosh apples [about 2 medium or 3 small]
  • 2 T. juice [about 1/2 of 1 lemon]
  • 1/4 c. sugar [1.75 ounces]
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 large egg whites, beaten lightly
  • 2 T. sugar

  1. Remove dough from fridge and let sit at room temperature until it is malleable. [If it was only in the fridge for an hour, you don't need to do this.]

  2. Roll dough between 2 sheets of lightly floured parchment paper. Roll into a 15 inch disk. Slide dough onto a cookie sheet; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while working on the apples.

  3. Peel, core and cut apples into 1/4" thick slices and toss with lemon juice, 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon.

  4. Remove dough from refrigerator and arrange apple slices, thick edges out, in a circular mound, leaving about 3 inches for the border. If there are any juices left in the bowl of apples, pour it over the top of the fruit.

  5. Fold dough border up and over filling, pleating dough to fit snugly around apples. With cupped hands, gently press dough toward filling, reinforcing shape and compacting apples. Chill formed tart on pan for 30 minutes.

  6. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, until pale golden brown. Remove from oven and brush the crust with beaten egg whites and sprinkle apples with remaining 2 T. sugar. [I usually only need about 1 T sugar here.]

  7. Return pan to oven and bake until crust is deep golden brown and apples are tender, about 25 minutes more.

  8. Remove pan from oven and cool tart on pan for 10 minutes. Serve tart warm.

There are a lot of "refrigerate" steps---this is to ensure that the butter in the dough stays cold. This is important to getting a nice tasty, flaky crust.

Also, flour and sugar measurements are shown in measurements and weight. If you have a kitchen scale, it's best to weigh it when making crusts, etc. If not, don't worry about it!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Creamy Orzo with Parmesan, Basil & Tomatoes

I have now seen the inner circles of hell. It involves a road trip [to & from on the same day!], with a 14 month old who is a) getting molars, b) doesn't love riding in the car, and c) very rarely falls asleep in places other than her bed.

In order to wipe the too fresh memory from my brain, I decided to cover it up with cheesey-tomatoey-basily goodness. When all else fails, I'm not against hiding my head in the sand. [And buying stock in tylenol, orajel, teething tablets, and earplugs.]

I love different side dishes. Rice and potatoes can get boring and old really fast! This dish uses orzo, which is one of my favorite ingredients! If you've never used it before, you should totally give it a go. It's a rice shaped pasta, that can be used in so many different ways. I use it in soups, pilaf, side dishes, versatile and quick cooking! Basically, a great way to dress up a boring dinner. [Shown here with grilled chicken. Clearly this dish was made, and picture was taken well before the temperature plunged to a chilly 40 degrees.]

Creamy Orzo with Parm, Basil & Tomatoes
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 c. uncooked orzo pasta
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. Shirley J chicken bouillon
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. dried basil
  • chopped fresh tomatoes
  1. Melt the butter and oil in a saucepan over med-high heat. Add uncooked orzo. Saute until lightly browned. [Being careful, because orzo can go to golden brown to burned really quickly!] Combine water and bouillon and add to saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  2. Cover pan and turn heat to simmer. Simmer until orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Mix in parmesan cheese, basil and tomatoes. Serve.

Monday, September 28, 2009

My beautiful grandmother, one of the greatest cooks I have ever met, passed away on Saturday, Septemeber 26, 2009 from complications of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Words cannot express how dearly I will miss her. Her hands were always kneading dough, making rolls, and feeding people. As much as I miss her and feel sorry for myself and my family that she is gone, I am grateful that those beautiful hands are no longer in pain. I'm grateful that she can take a deep breath, and move on her own. I'm grateful to have known and loved her.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blueberry Muffins to die for.

Blueberries are kind of a big thing around here. My oldest son, Mason, is a blueberry fanatic. If it comes in blueberry, he loves it, he eats it, he wants it. When we were in Maine last October, he ate blueberry everything. Unfortunately, blueberries aren't as readily available here as they are there, but we certainly try.

These muffins are made from frozen blueberries, which I think, give the muffins the best texture. If I had fresh, really good blueberries available, I'd try those. But, I don't, so frozen wild blueberries were the next best option.

Stop. It. These muffins are SO good. The texture and flavor are hands down some of the [if not the] best I've tried. The trick is in the sour cream, and the way it is mixed. There is something very satisfying abou t whisking things by hand! To take them to the next level, make sure to do one of the topping options. [Shown is the cinnamon sugar topping.]

Thank you ATK!!!

We went to Maine Blueberry Muffins

yield 12 muffins

  • 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 4 T. butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 1 1/2 c. frozen wild blueberries

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with non-stick spray.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt. In a 2nd medium bowl, whisk egg until well-combined and light colored, about 20 seconds. Add sugar and whisk vigorously until thick and combined well, about 30 seconds. Add melted butter in 2 or 3 additions, whisking to combine after each addition. Add sour cream in 2 additions, whisking just to combine. You should have a nice pale yellow, smooth mixture at this point.
  3. Add frozen berries to dry ingredients and with your fingers, gently toss to combine. [Making sure berries are coated with flour, this will keep them from sinking during baking.] Add sour cream mixture and fold with rubber spatula until batter comes together and berries are evenly distributed, 25 to 30 seconds. [Small spots of flour may remain and batter will be thick. Don't overmix!] At first it will seem like the batter will not come together by folding, but it will! Don't rush it!
  4. Use an ice cream scoop, another large scoop, or large spoons to drop batter into greased muffin tin. It is okay if the mix fills the entire tin, and even goes above it! That's perfect.
  5. Bake until light golden brown and toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. Invert muffins onto wire rack, stand muffins upright, and cool 5 minutes. Serve as is, or use one of the toppings below.

Cinnamon Sugar-Dipped Blueberry Muffins

  • While muffins are cooking, mix 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a small bowl and melt 4 tablespoons butter in small saucepan. After baked muffins have cooled 5 minutes, and working one at a time, dip top of each muffin into melted butter and then cinnamon sugar. Set muffins upright on wire rack; serve.

Lemon Glazed Blueberry Muffins

  • While muffins are baking, mix 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest and 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Bring 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat; simmer until mixture is thick and syrupy and reduced to about 4 tablespoons. After baked muffins have cooled 5 minutes, brush tops with glaze, then, working one at a time, dip tops of muffins in lemon sugar. Set muffins upright on wire rack; serve.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Classic Grilled Fajitas

I had a better picture, but I deleted my memory card, 'cause I'm cool like that.

I think I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again---I love simple, yet delicious food. This is one of those dishes that has minimal ingredients, basic cooking techniques, but a really awesome dinner.

Plus, it involves avocados. I have a seriously unnatural love for avocados. I could find a way to eat them every meal every day. But, even though they are healthy, and a "healthy" fat, I don't want to be the guinea pig to see what a "healthy fat" does for my girlish figure. If you feel so inclined, go ahead and let me know!

I served these with the basic chunky quac, and fresh tortillas. Nothing else is really necessary! [Although, they'd be killer with some homemade salsa!] The guacamole isn't the kind filled with tomatoes and other unnecessary schtuff. It's basic, it's all about the avocado and it's freakin' amazing. Seriously. If the salsa didn't make you eat your weight in tortilla chips, this just might.

Chunky Guacamole

  • 3-4 ripe Haas avocados [they have the pebbly skin]
  • 1/2 onion, minced fine
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and minced fine
  • 1/4 c. fresh cilantro leaves*
  • salt
  • juice from 1 lime
  1. Halve one avocado, remove pit, and scoop flesh into medium bowl. Mash lightly with onion, garlic, chile, cilantro, and salt with the tines of a fork.
  2. Halve, pit, and cube remaining avocados. [Just like this!] Add cubes to the bowl with the other ingredients.
  3. Sprinkle lime juice over diced avocado and mix entire contents of bowl lightly with fork until combined but still chunky. Adjust seasonings with salt, if necessary, and serve.

*You can subsitute fresh parsley if cilantro is too strong for your tastes. This is best made and served immediately, otherwise it may turn black. You can cover with plastic wrap, pressed directly onto the surface of the mixture, and refrigerate for up to 1 hour...but it's best to make it and serve it fresh.

Classic Fajitas

  • 1 flank steak [size depending on how many you are serving, but about 2 lbs]
  • 1/4 c. lime juice
  • salt, and pepper
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into 1/2" rounds [don't seperate yet]
  • 2 large red and/or green bell peppers, cut and flattened
  • flour tortillas
  1. Preheat grill with all burners set to high and lid down until grill is very hot, about 10-15 minutes. Scrape rack clean with wire brush.
  2. Generously sprinkle both sides of steak with lime juice and salt and pepper. Grill, covered until well seared and brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Flip and continue grilling another 2 to 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer meat to cutting board; cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. While meat rests, adjust heat on the grill to medium. Grill onions and peppers, turning occasionally, until onions are lightly charred [about 6 minutes], and peppers are streaked with grill marks [about 10 minutes]. Remove veggies from grill and cut into long, thin strips.
  5. If using fresh tortillas [found in the refrigerated section of the store], cook them on the grill instead of the stovetop. If using the already cooked kind, warm them on the sides of the grill [low heat].
  6. Slice steak very thin on bias against the grain; adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper if necessary.
  7. Serve immediately with tortillas and guacamole.

And then wonder why your husband doesn't like avocados. Super freak, for sure!

This dish can also be made with chicken, or make both!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kiwifruit Smoothies

The picture is confusing, I know. This isn't a recipe for large forehead bruises or cute little boy fingers. It is, in fact, Cam-a-roni, devouring his "after school snack."

What is it about school that makes kids absolutely famished? I KNOW they eat good breakfasts and lunches. Are they doing military style training all day long? Running laps in the gym with the heat turned on? Whatever it is, it's serious. You've never seen hungry until you've seen a boy [maybe a girl, but I don't have one of those in school yet] come inside from school with the comatose death look in their eyes. It isn't until they've been properly fed again that they start to return to normal.

So...once I learned this, I realized that boxed crackers and milk just weren't going to cut it for my dudes.

The littles LOVE kiwi. All 3 of my kids can go through the jumbo sized box of kiwi in less then a few days. Which is okay with me! Did you know what a super fruit kiwi is? I didn't! One serving of kiwi contains more potassium than a banana, the vitamin C of TWO oranges, and all the fiber in a bowl of bran! Hel-lo?! Why didn't I know this. [From]

I found this recipe inside the big polyg-sized box of kiwi I bought at Sam's [or was it Costco?]. My littles loved to help make it, and it was SO tasty!

KiwiFruit Pear Smoothie

  • 8 oz. plain yogurt [I used vanilla, because it's what I had on hand]

  • 1 c. pears, peeled and diced [I used canned pears, 1 whole pear, and I didn't dice it.]

  • 1 banana peeled and chunked [I did do this!]

  • 1/4 c. honey

  • 1 c. ice cubes

  • 6 green kiwi fruit [I think I used 4 or 5, because we were at the end of our kiwi box]

  1. Combine the yogurt, pears, bananas and honey in a blender. Pulse until smooth. Add ice cubes one at a time and process until smooth. Slice each kiwifruit in half and spoon fruit out into blender. [Much like you scoop out an avocado with a spoon!] Pulse until blended. Makes about 4 servings.

Also, throw in some flax seed to make it even better for you! My boys are forever requesting this now! This would be a great breakfast as well. If you aren't on the kiwi wagon, I highly suggest jumping on soon. It's pretty freakin' awesome.

BBQ Pork Slaw Sandwiches

Let it be known: This is the first time I've ever made something with the word "butt" in the name. I don't know if it is the vegetarian in me, or the normal in me [there is a tiny bit], but seriously, "pork butt"? Is that necessary?? Who named it a 10 year-old boy?

Now, normally I'm all for calling a spade a spade. But there are a few places I think the line can be drawn. I'm okay with being in the dark sometimes. Just call it pork lump or something. Honesty isn't always the best policy.

That being said, this is the first time I've ever cooked pork.

I rode out all of the "other white meat" hype for a long time. But my husband really likes BBQ pork sandwiches, and my pal Guy Fieri gave me some help with Triple D and Guys Big Bite . Well...that, and I just finished reading Charlottes Web with the littles.

I didn't make my sandwich anything like Guy's. He is really into BBQ. The Southern, cult-following, "slow & low" malarkey. Me, not so much!

BBQ Pork Sandwiches w/ Apple Slaw
  • 3-4 lb. boston butt pork roast
  • 1 onion
  • 5 cloves garlic [peeled, but left whole]
  • salt & pepper
  • liquid smoke [I did steal this bit from Guy]
  • BBQ sauce of your choice
  1. Chunk one whole large onion, and lay in the bottom of your crock pot. Layer with the whole cloves of garlic. Season the butt [ha!] with salt and pepper on all sides. Lay on top of the garlic and onions.
  2. Add about 2-3 cups water, maybe more, depending on the size of your crock pot. [Enough to go about 1/2 way up on the meat]. Add a splash of liquid smoke. ***I use the same method people do with "coke"...but I don't want to add all that extra sugar, so I just used water.
  3. Cook on low for about 8 hours.
  4. Remove butt [ha!] from crock pot and drain water, onions, garlic, etc. Shred the pork and return to the crock pot. Add one bottle of barbecue sauce and mix. [The Shirley J BBQ seasoning is wicked awesome here!]
  5. Heat for about 30minutes to 1 hour on high.
  6. Serve on my awesome wheat buns and top with apple slaw for a great crunch!
Basic Apple Slaw
  • 1 bag coleslaw mix [or you can shred your own if you are superhuman and don't have a clingy baby on your hip...]
  • 1 medium red onion, diced small
  • 2 green apples, shredded
  • shredded carrots [I didn't measure, about 1+ cup]
  • fresh parsley
  • 2 T-3T sugar
  • 1 c. mayo
  • 1/3 c. apple cider vinegar [my favorite vinegar EVER, fyi]
  • salt & pepper
  1. Mix veggies together and toss with mixed dressing. Alter according to tastes [more sugar, more s&p, etc.]. Let sit covered in fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.
Now. Just so you know, I made this dish just for my husband, as my feelings about pork have been discussed. I made it, felt a tiny bit proud that I'd conqured butt, dished my husband up a beeee-yootiful looking plate. [He ate after us, because he got home from work late, and I don't hold dinner for him, because I'm just that sucky.]
I asked him, "So....did you like your dinner?" [I'm not above asking for compliments!]
Do you know what he said?! "I'm not a fan of coleslaw."
Oh, yes. He did.
I haven't fed him since.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I swear.

...that by "coming soon" I meant sometime this year!

I have dozens [literally] of recipes to post, but I just can't seem to find the time to get to them all. I can't seem to get into the new "back-to-school" groove.

And, seriously. Having 2 boys in soccer, and 2 games a week [each!], is way overrated.

But, I swear, I'm going to get it together. [Probably not tonight, because I have a haircut. If that doesn't sound exciting to you, it's probably because you are a] a male b]you take your kids with you. But to me, it means an HOUR of blissful ALONE time where I get to chat with my sister [who just happs to do my hair]! I don't have to change diapers, nurse, wash laundry, put laundry away, do dishes, iron clothes, brush teeth, help w/ homework ALL for ONE FULL HOUR.]

It most likely won't be Tuesday either, because that's a preschool and soccer day. Maybe Wednesday? Lucky you!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Coming soon...

A meal inspired by your friend and mine from the Triple D...only better!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fresh Salsa

I am exactly 0% Mexican. I haven't done the research or geneology, but I can say that with 100% certainty. [And if you've ever seen me, you'd probably agree! And if you haven't ever seen me, you aren't missing much!]

Regardless of my lack of Mexican heritage, I have picked up a few skillz here and there. A long time ago, before I had kids, and a mortgage, and nursing boobs, I had a job. A real live, actual paying, Monday through Friday, respectable gig. It just so happens that a girl I worked with [for a while] was Mexican [I'm not sure of her % or pedigree, we weren't that close]. But, I do know, that she gave me a great fresh salsa recipe.

This is one of those things you can make, and eat it for lunch, dinner, snack... Taking one little "sample" may or may not turn into you eating your weight in a Costco size bag of tortilla chips. [Not speaking from experience, however, I did see Chris in a salsa coma the other night. It wasn't pretty, trust me!]

Fresh Salsa
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 2 1/2-3 lbs. tomatoes [romas!]
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 jalapenos
  • salt, pepper & chili powder
  1. In a large saucepan, cover tomatoes, garlic and jalapenos with water. Boil just until tomatoes are tender. [When you see the skin start to break!] This won't take very long, and don't overcook them or you'll end up with water loaded, yucky tomatoes!
  2. Cool tomatoes completely. [At this point, if you prefer, you can take the skin off the tomatoes. I don't, but if you want to, it won't change anything!]
  3. Meanwhile, puree garlic and jalapenos in a blender.
  4. When the tomatoes are cooled, add them, one at a time, to the blender [keep the jalapenos and garlic in the blender]. Pulse tomatoes [add one, pulse, add another, pulse, etc.] quickly. Usually a one second push on the button, and they are good. Continue until all tomatoes are pulsed.
  5. Pour into a large covered dish and cool completely in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  6. Dice onions and chop cilantro and add to the tomato mixture. Season with salt, pepper and chili powder. It may take a lot of seasoning to get it to the right flavor.
  7. Let it sit for about 30 minutes before eating. I prefer to let it sit a bit longer, if you can wait!
  8. This will store in the fridge [covered] for several days.

*Depending on heat levels, you can decrease the jalapenos. I usually take the seeds and ribs out of mine if I know I don't want it too hot.

Also, you don't need a boatload of cilantro, just enough to give it the right taste. If you are hesitant, start of with a handful, mix it in, taste, and go from there. You want it to accent the flavors, not overtake them.

Sometimes it takes a bit to get the right amount of salt, pepper & chili powder just right. I always start off with less [chili powder] and keep adding.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Monster PB cookies [flourless]

These aren't your traditional PB cookies! They are fun, because you can change out the "mix-ins" and alter them to your tastes. The dudes helped me make these, and decided to add peanut butter reese's pieces [the ones made for baking--they are smaller]. You could easily add mini-m&m's, chocolate chips...whatever you have on hand!

These are also a great "pantry" cookie. They use up oats, peanut butter, brown sugar...things that almost everyone always has on hand!

Monster PB cookies

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 1/2 c. peanut butter [creamy, crunchy is gnarly]
  • 4 1/2 c. quick cooking oats
  • mix ins: reeses pieces, plain m&m's, chocolate chips, or a mixture of each!
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except for candies, until well combined. Mix in candies.
  3. Drop cookies by heaping spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets.
  4. Bake about 8 minutes. Do not overbake! Cool for a few minutes on cookie sheets until cookies are set enough to transfer to wire racks. Cool completely.

[Cookies will be soft until they are completely cooled! Even then they will be a softer cookie!]

Friday, August 28, 2009

Coconut Chicken Fingers

Man! I thought once school started [sob], that I'd be able to spend all day cooking. Making pastries, maybe even cooking may way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. [Julie & Julia - I actually read that book. Awesome. Except for a serious use of the "f" word. Yikes.] I actually have no desire to cook from that book. Trust me, that is some seriously...interesting food!

Anyway. I must have forgotten that I have 2 little dudes. Both of them are playing soccer this fall. Both of them are in different leagues. Which means, of course, that nearly EVERY night for the next 5-6 weeks is filled with games, practices, games, and me washing stinky soccer clothes!


So, this is one of those awesome, fast, kid friendly dinners that can be made in a snap! The dudes love the flavor of these, and honestly, so does my husband! The house smells so good while these are cooking!

Coconut Chicken Fingers

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • water
  • 1 c. coconut
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken, cut into strips
  • melted butter

  1. In a shallow dish [like a pie plate] mix together the flour, coconut, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Make sure it is well seasoned, the amounts above are just guesstimations, I don't measure!

  2. In another shallow dish, beat 2 eggs with a few tablespoons of water.

  3. Dredge the chicken in the egg wash, then in the coconut mixture. You might need to "squish" the mixture into each piece of chicken. If you like extra coating, and a little more crunch, start with the dry mixture, then dip in the wet and then back to the dry again.

  4. Place each piece on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Drizzle each piece with a bit of melted butter [don't saturate, just make sure each piece has some butter on it], this will help keep the chicken nice and moist.

  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

You can also do this with full chicken breasts, for a more "grown up" approach. The chicken fingers can be dipped in your favorite "dippies". My boys like the generic kids stuff, but you can "fancy" it up by mixing some storebought orange marmalade with some dijon mustard.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

These aren't your everyday pancakes! These are definitely more rich, time consuming and tasty. They will probably make you fat if you eat a lot of them, so I don't recommend that. Have one or two, and then hit the treadmill!

These were our "1st day of school pancakes." The dudes [and Z-diggity] went crazy for them. They have that oatmeal cookie, banana bread-y taste and quality. I don't think you even need syrup for these, but try telling that to my 6 year-old and my 4 year-old.

If/when I make these, I mix all of the dry ingredients together and store it that way, then add the liquids in the morning when I make them. It saves a lot of time, and makes them less work. [Mason jars are great for this! Premeasure and mix your dry ingredients, put into a jar, seal up the lid and put them in your pantry!]

[Thanks to my friend for the recipe...I only altered it a little bit!]
Oatmeal Cookie/Banana Bread Pancakes

  • 1 c. oats
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 c. sour cream
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 c. melted butter
  • Optional ingredients: 3/4 c. raisins, 1/4 c. walnuts [I didn't add either]

  1. Mix together the dry ingredients. In a different bowl, mix together the sour cream, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Fold into the dry ingredients. Mix in the mashed bananas. Finally, stir in the melted butter.

  2. Cook on a hot griddle.

These are "softer" pancakes. They are tricker to "flip" to cook the other side. They are very filling, but the littles absolutely loved them. In fact, a few hours after breakfast, Camden walked around the house eating cold pancakes all morning.

They also freeze well!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Island Style Grilled Chicken

This was one of those "accidental" dinners. I had originally planned on grilling this chicken and serving it with something else. The rice was to go with a mexican type salad [Cafe Rio style, for you UC'ers {utah county}], but it just ended up like this. In the end, we made them into "tacos" and served them with fresh tortillas, tomatoes from the garden and cheese.

This chicken marinade is based on a chicken my husband and I had on our honeymoon in the Bahamas. It's very lime-y, and island-y and just...yum.

Actually, that's a bold faced lie. I can't remember ANY of the food that we ate in the Bahamas. Wait, we had a kickass [sorry mom] can of Pringles that we bought at some ghetto grocery store while searching desperately for bottled water. [You think I'm kidding?] That's about what I remember of my culinary journey to the Bahamas. That, and while waiting for room service [one time, people] in our hotel [motel] in Florida, I found a lizard/gecko/reptile IN THE BATHROOM. I had a total cartoon moment where I jumped up on the toilet seat and screamed like a girl.

This chicken really has nothing to do with that at all. But it's really good, and actually doesn't remind me of lizards and motel toilets in the slightest.

Island Style Grilled Chicken

  • 3 T. soy sauce
  • 2 T. honey
  • 2 T. oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or just cracked
  • juice from 2 limes, as well as the zest from 1
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  1. Mix ingredients together, add chicken and marinate for up to 24 hours. [I like to add the limes---after they are juiced and zested, right into the marinade!]
  2. Grill to perfection!
*If you wanted more of an asian-island flair, sub some of the oil with sesame oil. Mmm!

Steak. [The reason he still loves me!]

I don't even want to talk about today.
[Except that he loved it, and he didn't even mind being away from me for six and a half hours. He said, "It was the best day ever!" And I cried. And he said, "I can't wait for tomorrow." And I cried some more. Then I called my husband and told him we needed to have more babies. And he laughed.]

So. This steak is the answer to that. If you want your husband to, well, make babies [or mow the lawn, take out the trash, finish painting the bathroom {ahem}, iron clothes, clean behind the fridge...] then this is your answer!

My husband loves this steak. Truth be told, the littles love it too. Shocking, I know!

Baby Makin' Steak Marinade
  • 1/2 c. olive oil [maybe a bit more depending on how many and how big your steaks are]
  • 3 T. steak seasoning [I like to use 2 T. regular and 1 T. spicy]*
  • 3 T. soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced [or just crushed is fine too]
  • steak [whatever kind you prefer]
  1. Combine ingredients and pour over steaks in a plastic bag. Turn bag to make sure steak[s] are completely covered.
  2. Refrigerate and let marinate for 24 hours [trust me], continuing to turn and "rub it in" during the 24 hours. [You can do it for less, but trust me, it's worth it.] [Also, trusting a semi-vegetarian when it comes to steak is a slippery slope. I'm just sayin'.]

*Any kind of steak seasoning will do, but I use the basic McCormicks kind with great success.

*Pictured with Twice Baked Potato [mash], fresh corn on the cob and grilled zucchini.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Corn Salad

I am in love.

[And also avoiding the fact that today is the last day that my "baby" will be home with me all the time. Forever. Seriously, this is it. Unless I decide to homeschool him. Sure, he'll visit in the afternoons and during the weekends, and for a few weeks during the summer. But this is it! I am an emotional, hormonal, wreck.] But, I'm also excited for him. He is so excited, and has been counting down for weeks.

So, this is the kind of dish that makes me happy. It's so good it makes me forget that I should be crying, and packing his bags, and preparing for him to date a girl with a tongue ring. [Pot=Kettle. I know. Another thing you didn't know about me. It was a long time ago, I try to block it out.]

We went to a back-to-school swim party at my brothers house last night. I was asked to bring a salad, which just so happens to be one of my favorite things to bring, because if I know anything, it's salad. I make a million and one good salads.

However, yesterday I decided to do something different. We have tomatoes and herbs coming out our ears, and I wanted to use them! I didn't grow corn this year, because we have access to the best corn ever [Harward Farms] it's literally right next to our house. So I picked up a dozen [or 13] and made a delicious, fresh, summer tasting salad!

Corn Salad

  • 7 [or more] ears of corn
  • tomatoes, seeded and diced [I used Roma], as many or little as you like
  • 1/2 vidala or Walla Walla onion [basically a sweet onion]
  • 1/4-1/2 c. [depending on how much corn you use] fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/4 c + [I added probably 3/8 c.] olive oil
  • 2 T. apple cider vinegar
  • salt & pepper [generous]
  • lemon
  1. Husk and clean corn. Cook corn [either boil or grill]. You don't want it soggy and mushy, still crunchy. I boiled mine for maybe 2 minutes, and it was perfect!

  2. Set corn aside [removed from water] to cool. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, onion, and parsley in a bowl.

  3. Cut corn from the cob. If you want, you can get the "corn milk" and add it to the dressing. Add corn to bowl.

  4. Mix together the olive oil, and vinegar. Pour over salad. Mix to coat. Season with salt and pepper. [I also tossed in some fresh lemon juice [1/2 lemon], but this is totally optional.]

  5. This is best when you cover it and let it sit in the fridge for several hours before serving.

*You could also add some avocados, black beans, and serve it over fish or chicken, or even use it as a dip. However, I love this pure, fresh form.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More to come...

Busy with summer, kids, and life! I will be back soon [this week, maybe? next, for sure!] with some great recipes!

How is "summer" over already?!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I love summer.

I just had fresh, farm grown [from the farm 1 mile from my house], corn on the cob, watermelon and homemade lemonade for lunch.

No fancy cooking or tricky new recipes. Just some seriously good, fresh food.

Ahh. Now I think I'll go pop some cherry tomatoes from my garden into my mouth. Oh, baby.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Zucchini Turkey Burger & Zucchini Fries [2 ways!]

I took a great picture of the burger and the "fries". And then I deleted my memory card before I uploaded the pictures! So, I reheated a burger to retake the picture, but there weren't any fries left. Trust me, they looked like zucchini fries!

Can you take another turkey burger? If not, it's best if you step away now. There are still a few weeks left in summer, and I can't guarantee their won't be more! It's such a fast, healthy, tasty meal!

Yes, I realize this is the millionth zucchini recipe I've posted. Just be grateful I haven't posted everything. I've been a zucchini cooking maniac. I can't help myself, I love the stuff.

The other day, I had a light bulb moment [I know, they don't happen often], and thought if zucchini adds such great moistness to cakes, brownies, breads, surely it can add that to ground turkey, right? I googled "turkey zucchini burgers" to see if it had been done before.

Sadly, a little publication you may have heard of called "Real Simple" beat me to the punch. Their recipe is good and basic, and was my starting point for my burger. Surely I could make it a little better. [It's a thing called Ego, I realize that.]

I was a bit skeptical of the egg in the recipe. I'm not a big fan of egg in burgers, because I feel they taste more "meatloafy" and less burger-y. It actually works in this burger. To be completely honest here, I'm not even sure you need the egg. My mix was rather wet, but cooked off nicely. Next time I'll omit the egg, and hopefully have great results.

Anna's Turkey Zucchini Burger
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 med. zucchini grated
  • 1 med. carrot grated [I used two skinny carrots]
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2-1 diced onion
  • grill seasoning [or you can use salt & pepper, but I have a love affair with grill seasoning]
  • 1 egg
  1. Mix together ingredients with your hands. Be careful not to overmix, or your burger will fall apart on the grill. The amount of "mix" made with this recipe will make about 6 full sized burgers. If you only want 4, I suggest freezing the other patties for later use.
  2. Spray your grill with Pam and cook the burgers over med-hi heat until cooked through.
  3. Turn off the grill and top each patty with a slice of cheese [optional], and close lid to allow cheese to melt. [I used a variety of cheddar and mozzarella, I think.]
  4. Serve on homemade buns or crusty bread. These would also be cool topped with a breaded and baked/fried zucchini circle.

Instead of making the standard oven fries, pomme frites, or even sweet potato fries, I decided to try my hand at zucchini fries. I made them two ways, to see which was better. It ended up being a split decision. Chris [my husband] says they would have been better fried. The same has been said about a snickers, and I disagree. I don't normally fry things, for a few reasons. 1] It is unhealthy. 2] It stinks up my house. 3] It stinks up my hair. 4] It stinks up my clothes. 5] It stinks.

So. Maybe someday I'll try pan frying them, but for now, I was happy with the baked version. My kiddos ate them, so I'll take that as a thumbs up.

The key is in how you slice them, and bake them. Slice them not too thin, and not too thick. And bake them REALLY hot, so they get crispy and not soggy.

Zucchini Fries #1

  • zucchini cut into sticks [like fries]
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2/3 c. flour
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with Pam.
  2. Beat egg white with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add zucchini, tossing to coat. [You can use a milk/egg wash mixture, I just like this way better.]
  3. In a ziploc bag, combine flour and spices. Add zucchini, a few at a time, and shake to coat.
  4. Place on baking sheet, spray fries with Pam. Bake 30-40 minutes [watch carefully], turning once, and spraying with Pam again if necessary.

If these were fried in oil, they'd puff up and be nice crispy fries. You can totally do that, just know, it stinks, and it will probably give you a heart attack.

Zucchini Fries #2

  • zucchini
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 c. seasoned bread crumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray cookie sheet with Pam.
  2. Beat egg with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add zucchini, tossing to coat. [Again, you can use egg whites and milk here if you'd like.]
  3. Dip each "fry" into the combined bread crumbs and parmesan cheese mixture. You'll need to "press" the mixture into each fry a bit, so it will stick.
  4. Bake for 23-35 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Zucchini Brownies

Things you might know about me: I wore Grateful Dead shirts in High School. I don't want my babies to grow up. I once had a crush on Jordan Knight [N.K.O.T.B]. Oh, wait, you didn't know that one. [Just so you know, that was way pre-Jerry Garcia days.] And, I'm not the biggest fan of chocolate. Truth be told, I'm not much of a dessert person.

There, I said it.

Don't get me wrong, I love to bake. I love to make desserts, but eating them. Eh, give or take, most of the time.

Shut the front door! These brownies are HEALTHY [as can be, I guess], and delicious. I've had this recipe for years, but dusted it off yesterday, and the littles and I got to work.

Plus, they help me use up the 14 lbs. of zucchini my garden is producing a day.

Don't think these will taste like zucchini bread. Or even zucchini really. They taste like a moist [one of my least favorite words, by the way, along with 'swab'.], fudgey brownie.

Seriously, try them. I'll be disappointed if you don't. If you need a zucchini [or 10], just let me know, and I can hook you up. [After you weed my flower beds, and mow my lawn, of course.]

Zucchini Brownies
The batter for these will appear DRY until the zucchini is added. It will look crumbly, and make you want to cry and throw it away. Don't! As soon as you add the zucchini and mix it for a minute, it will be moist [there's that stupid word again] and just right. Don't add any eggs or extra liquid. IF, after you've added the zucchini and mixed it well, and it still isn't wet, you can add a Tablespoon of water. I've never had to do that! Zucchinis have tons of water in them, so you'll get your moisture from them.
  • 1/4 c. applesauce*
  • 1/4 c. oil*
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts [I didn't add, but you can if you want]
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the applesauce, oil, sugar and vanilla until well blended.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix 1 cup at a time into the sugar mixture. Mix well. The "batter" will appear dry and crumbly.
  4. Mix in the zucchini and nuts [optional]. Mix until the zucchini turns it into a nice moist batter.
  5. Spread evenly in prepared pan and bake for 25-35 minutes [my oven takes about 35], until brownies spring back when touched. Don't overbake!
  6. Frost when cooled.
Basic Frosting
  • 6 T. cocoa
  • 6 T. butter
  • 3 c. + powdered sugar
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Melt together cocoa and butter in a small saucepan. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Stir in cocoa/butter mixture. Add more powdered sugar [if needed] to reach the desired consistancy.
  3. Spread over cooled brownies.
*You can substitue applesauce for the full amount of the oil if you'd like. I do with great success. Try it both ways and see which you prefer.
At first these will seem cakey [and great!], but after the've been out for a day or so [in the pan covered with foil], they'll be more dense like a traditional brownie. Either way they are great.