Sunday, December 19, 2010


I somehow got caught up in family, life and other things!  Hoping to post something new soon....maybe tonight after the midgets are tucked all snug in their beds!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

10 minute pillowcase tutorial.

Tea party pillowcase for my daughter (all fabrics are Michael Miller), Space pillowcase for one of my sons (can't remember the designer, I bought it on clearance a while ago)!

 Several years ago, my mom made my two boys pillowcases for Christmas, and then for Valentines day. They absolutely love having their own special pillowcases! It's so fun for them to pick out which one they want, and snuggle with it each night.

I'm making a tradition with this, and doing it each year.  This year, instead of doing them all the same, I picked out different fabric combos for each midget, and set to work.  The best part (aside from having something homemade) is that they only take 10 minutes (or less!) each! 

So, pick out some fabric, and add pillowcases to your to-do list. You can have fun, custom made presents for your kids, friends, nieces and me, they'll love them! (If you don't want to make them as gifts, make them for your bed with coordinating fabric!)

This is the way I made pillowcase dresses for my daughter this summer.  I just threw out the dress part, and kept the pillowcase part.  This is such a fun, easy way to make pillowcases.

Even if you think you can't sew: you can do this!  It literally takes sewing 3 straight lines--that's it!
Materials Needed
-3 coordinating fabrics
-sewing machine / thread  or serger  (I used a serger just to make the seams stronger)
-cutting mat, rotary cutter, etc.

-3/4 yard fabric (for the main part of the pillowcase body)
-1/3 yard fabric (for pillowcase cuff--I have also done this with 1/4 yard, but I like it a bit bigger, so I prefer 1/3 yard)
-about an 1/8 yard fabric (for trim)

Cut the fabrics to the following dimensions:
-MAIN BODY (3/4 yard): 27 x 42 inches
-CUFF (1/3 yard): 11 x 42 inches
-TRIM (1/8 yard): 2 x 42 inches

Now, let's get started!!

The 3 coordinating fabrics I chose. (Riley Blake--this line of fabric is SO cute!)

Cut all of your fabric according to the dimensions listed above.  This is the most time consuming part of this project!

Step 2:  Take your trim fabric (the 2 inch width piece) and fold it in half, right side out, and iron.  (My poor ironing board needs me to make it a new cover. It's been killed by steam-a-seam!)
 Step 3: Lay the CUFF fabric on your board or table RIGHT SIDE UP---you'll want it so the short side is going up & down, and the length of it (42 inches) is running the length of your table.
Step 4: Take the trim fabric and lay it ON TOP of the cuff fabric, at the top.  Make the RAW EDGES of the trim fabric line up with the RAW EDGES of the cuff fabric.  They should match up in length, because they are both 42" long.

Step 5: Take the BODY of the fabric and lay it WRONG SIDE UP (or so that RIGHT SIDES are facing) on top of the other two fabrics.  Match up the raw edges at the top.  You should have all 3 fabrics lined up at the top, with the raw edges.  Now, the body of the fabric, should cover up the whole thing, with the wrong side of that fabric facing you.

Step 6: Now take the body of the fabric, and start rolling it up.  Make sure not to include any of the other fabrics as you roll.  Roll it up until you get to the MIDDLE of the cuff fabric.

Step 7: You can see in the picture where I stopped rolling.  Now, take the cuff fabric, and fold it up to the top, OVER the roll you just created.  Line up the raw edge with the other edges at the top.  The WRONG SIDE of the cuff fabric will now be covering everything. 

Step 8: See?  Now you have a little pouch with everything rolled up inside.  Make sure the edges are all lined up at the top, and pin in place down the length (42") of the fabric. 

It should now look like this.  A big long tube all pinned up.

Step 9: Now, using your serger or sewing machine, sew along that raw edge where you pinned.  If you are sewing, don't forget to backstitch at the beginning and end to secure your seams.

Now you have a big tube, with one side all sewn together.

Step 10: Now, pull the inside OUT of the tube.  It's pretty easy, and will just come out with a few tugs.

Step 11: It should look somewhat like this.  Now iron everything, so all the seams are straight and pressed.

Step 12:  Now, just fold it together, wrong sides facing out. 

Step 13: Now sew together the side and the bottom of the pillowcase.

Now turn it right-side out, and that's it!  You are DONE! 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Banana Nut Muffins.

We like muffins. A lot. In case you couldn't tell.  Awesome for breakfast, lunches, after school snacks, and freezing. 
The other day I had a ton of really, really ripe bananas.  I had planned on making a super awesome banana bar/banana cake with a great frosting.  But...I wasn't in the mood.  I didn't want to make banana bread either.  So, I hunted for a new banana muffin recipe, and found this one by Tyler Florence .  (Who is such a cutie, I could totally put him in my pocket!) 

They were fantastic!  I made a tiny change or 2, but they were great just as written!  (Go figure, I guess his career IS validated.  So glad I could give him that validation...) My midgets loved them, and ate them constantly for a few days.  I didn't even get the chance to freeze any!

Banana Nut Muffins
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 or 4 overripe bananas
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • a few shakes of cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans (you can omit if you want, but I wouldn't.)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line muffin tins, or spray tins with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside. 
  3. Mash 1/2 of the bananas with a fork on a plate, so they still have a bit of texture.  In a mixing bowl, (kitchen aid) using your wire whisk attachment, whip the remaining bananas and brown sugar together on high, as Tyler says "like you mean it", for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the melted butter, eggs, vanilla and beat well, scraping down the sides if necessary. 
  5. Mix in the dry ingredients in small batches just until incorporated. 
  6. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. 
  7. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins about 1/2 way full.
  8. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes before turning the muffins out on a cooling rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cranberry BBQ Chicken

Yeah, I know the picture sucks.  It's too dark to get a decent looking picture these days.  Deal.
Did you accidentally buy 43 cans of cranberry sauce when it was on sale?  Join the club.  (Actually I didn't, I like fresh made cranberry sauce.  BUT, don't let that stop you.)  This is a quick, easy, kind of funky dinner!  A great twist on traditional BBQ chicken.

Crockpot Cranberry Barbecue Chicken
  • 3-4 chicken pieces (I used about 1.5 pounds)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 (16 oz.) can WHOLE BERRY cranberry sauce (not the jelly that stays shaped like the can)
  • 1 c. barbecue sauce (your favorite. I'm super picky about BBQ sauces...I like homemade ones, or the Shirley J mix.  Jack Daniels is the best "store bought" one I have found.)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker.  (Spray cooker before adding ingredients, it will make it easier to clean!) 
  2. Cover and bake on high for 4 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours.  (Unless your cooker cooks really high and fast like mine does, then do it for less time!) 
  3. Optional: Before serving you can thicken the sauce with cornstarch.  I can't remember if I did or not...
A quick, no-brainer meal.  We all need those sometimes, right?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Popcorn

When we were growing up, it seemed like during the holidays there was always and abundant amount of "munchie" stuff.  My mom always had some great treat for while we were playing games, watching movies, sitting in the kitchen chatting...  I have such great memories of treats that were only part of the holidays, things we didn't have any other time of year. 

In fact, I remember when my husband and I first got married, I called my mom and had to have this recipe for Christmas.  It was just my husband and I, we had no need for a huge bowl of this, but I made it anyway.  I'm fairly certain most of it got thrown away, because we couldn't eat it all.  But, it wasn't Christmas without it!

These weren't the most fancy recipes---probably nothing you'd find in Martha Stewart.  But maybe that's what makes them so awesome.  They are family friendly, fun, not good for you treats that we can indulge in during those special times of the year.

This recipe is one of those fun recipes.  This recipe SCREAMS Christmas to me.  I can't even remember what my mom called this, but to me, it's "Christmas Popcorn".  I made this the other night for the kids to snack on while we got all of the Christmas stuff out and decorated the tree.  They were thrilled!  They thought it was such a fun treat.  I hope it becomes a fun "food memory" for them, like it is for me.  (And by keeping it to a once or twice a year tradition, I'm hoping the food memory they have won't be clogged arteries.)

I said before: This isn't fancy.  This isn't healthy.  But, it's everything else: Fun.  Gooey.  And something your kids will probably love!

Christmas Popcorn

  • 4 quarts popcorn (hot air popped, not microwave)
  • 1 c. nuts (peanuts---this is optional.  I left them out the last time I made it, because I didn't have any on hand.)
  • 1 c. coconut
  • 3 c. mini marshmallows
  • 1 1/2 c. gumdrops (I used the red & green "spice" ones)
  • 1 c. melted butter
  • 1 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Pop popcorn, and remove all old maids. 
  2. In a very large bowl, mix together popcorn, nuts, coconut, marshmallows and gumdrops.
  3. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the butter, sugar and corn syrup to a boil.  Boil for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  (Be careful if you are using REAL vanilla---which you should be---it contains alcohol, and will pop and splash back at you when you add it to such a hot liquid. 
  4. Cool for 2 minutes, then pour over dry ingredients.  Mix well so everything is coated.
  5. Keep in a covered container. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hot Ham & Cheese Sandwiches

This recipe comes to you  via my sister.  I'm pretty lucky to be surrounded by sisters (and parents) that really know how to cook.  It's a great resource for new (and good) recipes!

I tried this on a whim one night last year, and it has become a family favorite ever since.  My little dudes LOVE when I make these....and included in those little dudes is my husband. 

This recipe makes a dozen dinner sized sandwiches...and I can promise you that you probably won't have any leftover.  It isn't the healthiest of dishes (admittedly), but it's a great go-to every once in a while.  It would also be great served with soup in the winter!

**When I make rolls, I save the other half of the dough in the freezer for these, or I'll bake a dozen rolls (just regular round rolls), and use them for the next night.  I bake them in a 9x13 glass pan, then reuse that same pan for this recipe.

Hot Ham & Cheese Sandwiches
  • 12 dinner rolls (I guess you could use store bought, but.  Don't.)
  • 12 slices swiss cheese
  • 12 slices ham
  • mayonnaise
  1. Cut rolls in half, spread with a light smear of mayo.  Add folded piece of ham to the bottom half of the roll, place folded piece of cheese to the top of the roll.  Close roll and place in a 9 x 13 inch pan.
  • 1/2 T. poppy seeds
  • 1 stick (gulp) melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 T. mustard
  1. Mix ingredients together.
  2. Using a spoon (or...I just mix mine in a liquid measuring cup and pour it out using that), pour mixture over the top of each roll. 
  3. Cover with foil.  Refrigerate for several hours, or overnight (I usually make them the night before, and keep them in the fridge until dinner). 
  4. Loosen foil (don't remove) before baking.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until warmed through. 
In fact, Mason has been requesting these, so I might have to add them to the next menu!  I had planned on making them for a big bash we're having at our house this Saturday, but in the end, I decided they were too messy for people to be eating while wandering around my house.  Greasy fingers galore!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pumpkin Rolls and Cinnamon Butter

Sorry for the craptastic photo.  I actually took this indoors, in the dark, DURING my Thanksgiving dinner.  That's how dedicated I am to giving you a visual.  You are welcome.
...for the WIN!

Seriously, these were good.  Like, GOOD.  So good, in fact, that I ate these rolls for the majority of my Thanksgiving meal.  And when they were gone, I was finding anything and everything to slather with cinnamon butter. 

T-day morning I got up to make my rolls.  And when I was finished (letting them rise the last time), I panicked, thinking there was no way I had made enough rolls!  So, I quickly decided to do something different and whip up a batch of pumpkin rolls and cinnamon butter.  (The pumpkin rolls don't require as much rising as my regular awesome rolls.) 

This, my blog reading friends, will be a new holiday tradition.  I think I'll make them for Christmas as well.  And perhaps New Years, and definitely Presidents Day. 

Even if you "don't like pumpkin" (so says my husband), you'll like these.  The pumpkin taste isn't strong at all!  (And, for the record, in case it has taken you years to notice, I have the most picky husband EVER.)

Pumpkin Rolls
  • 1/4 c. warm water
  • 1 1/4 T. yeast
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 c. hot milk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. pumpkin puree
  • 2 1/2 T. oil
  • 5 c. flour
  1. In a small bowl (I use a liquid measuring cup) proof the yeast.  Add the yeast and 1 tsp. sugar to the warm water.  Stir with your finger to mix and dissolve.  Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a large mixer with dough hook, combine milk, salt, sugar, pumpkin and oil.  Add yeast mixture and blend at a low speed.  Scraping down sides if necessary.  Gradually add flour; continue mixing until dough forms an elastic ball around the hook, leaving sides of bowl.  Cover bowl with towel and let rise until doubled. 
  3. Punch dough down and form into rolls of choice, place rolls on pan, cover with a towel and let rise (in a warm place) again, until doubled. 
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
*The rolls pictured are clover leaf rolls----roll 3 walnut sized balls, and place in a cupcake pan, sprayed with non-stick spray.  You can also roll into cresents, parker house rolls, or just regular rolls. 

Cinnamon Butter

  • 1 c. butter, softened to room temp.
  • 1/3 c. sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 T. corn syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon (more or less to taste, I ended up adding more)
  1. In a mixing bowl, mix butter with electric mixer, until light and fluffy.  Add in milk, corn syrup, salt and cinnamon.  Mix until well combined and fluffy. 
  2. Transfer to a container (I used a small ceramic souffle bowl), refrigerate.  Remove from the fridge a bit before serving for a softer butter.
Spread this on pumpkin rolls, scones, regular rolls, toast, tofu, leather...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pie Dough

I'm pretty sure I've been promising to post this recipe for over a year!  Sadly, I finally remembered the day before Thanksgiving.  In "real" life, I'm ridiculously organized and scheduled, to the point where it becomes a major downfall.  If it isn't on my list, it most likely won't get done.

Posting this recipe never made it to my list.  But, you'll be happy to know that my spices are in alphabetical order, and the labels in my pantry are all facing the right way.  Hey, people, it's all about priorities!
Thankfully this recipe is pretty basic and straight forward, and you should have all of the ingredients on hand anyway! 

I had hoped to have a great picture, but I am making my pies this afternoon.  I have 2 little dudes who are very anxious to help make the pies.  Wish me luck!

This recipe is very similar to the one I use in the Rustic Apple Tart.  The difference is the addition of shortening which makes this crust more flakey, and more suitable for pies.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Perfect Pie Dough
America's Test Kitchen
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 8 T. all-vegetable shortening, CHILLED
  • 12 T. unsalted buter, chilled, cut into 1/4" pieces
  • 6-8 T. ice water
  1. Pulse flour, salt and sugar in food processor until combined.  Add shortening and process until mixture has texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds.  Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture; cut butter into flour until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about ten 1-second pulses.  Turn mixture into medium bowl.
  2. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons ice water over mixture.  With a rubber spatula, fold water into flour mixture.  Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 2 tablespoons more ice water if it won't come together.  Divide dough into two balls and flatten each into 4-inch-wide disk.  Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days before rolling.
**I like to cut up my butter and shortening into pieces, and then place them in the freezer until I need them.  (Obviously, not long term, or you'd have bricks!)  But, I'll put them in the freezer right after I cut them, and while I'm working with the flour.  This will bring them back up to a cold temperature, because they tend to get warm as we work with them.  Cold butter/shortening are the key to a flakey crust!
Bake according to your pie recipe.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mom's Homemade Rolls

It's getting to be that time of year where pictures will be crappy---it gets dark way too early!  It's hard to take a decent picture with no natural light!

So, here's the truth: 

I come from a great heritage of roll makers.  Seriously, my mom makes the best rolls ever.  EVER.  In fact, before a meal that involves rolls, I'd bet that at least everyone in the family "snitches" at least one roll.  Thankfully my mom is smart and makes dozens and dozens of rolls. 

Now, obviously, it's heraditary.  My grandmother made the BEST rolls.  So, I guess my  mom is just living up to her genes. 

That being said, it has taken me several years to finally get it down.  My rolls are good, awesome even, but not quite to my mom's level.  I'll get there, and because of this recipe, you can too!  In fact, I remember one of the first times I tackled this recipe, my oldest son was about 15 months old, and we were having a "dinner party" at my house.  The food was great....and the rolls were.  Well, it was kind of a disaster.  My mom even came over to my apartment to rescue me as best she could.  I still don't know what happened.  Bad yeast??  Sure.
I hope my mom doesn't disown me for posting her recipe on the 'net.  BUT, I think she'll forgive me.  I just can't live my life knowing that people are actually going to be buying rolls from the store for Thanksgiving.  Or *gasp*, even worse, making them from a pop-open tube.  I just can't have that on my watch.

Anna's Mom Can Cook Super Awesome Rolls
  • 2 c. scalded milk
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 T. salt
  • 2 T. yeast
  • 1/4 c. warm water
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 4-6 or even 7 cups flour
  1. Heat milk in a saucepan until scalded. [This DOES NOT mean to boil the milk!!]  Put milk, butter, salt and sugar together in the bowl of your mixer [aka: kitchen aid] to cool.  Putting the hot milk with the butter will melt it, and dissolve the sugar and salt.  Let it cool enough that you can put your finger in it.  You don't want it to kill the yeast!
  2. Meanwhile, add yeast to warm water; let rise.
  3. Once milk mixture has cooled, add yeast, eggs and 4 cups of the flour.  Mix well. [Using your bread hook!]
  4. Now continue to slowly add flour to make a soft dough.  You don't want it to completely pull away from the sides like you would a pizza dough.  You want it to be soft and still a little sticky.  It's kind of a feel thing, you'll get it, I promise!  I usually use at least 6 cups (total, so adding 2 more cups at this point), but sometimes up to 6.5 or so. 
  5. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let rise for 1 hour.  Punch dough down and cover with towel, rise for another hour. 
  6. Pour dough onto a floured surface and roll out for rolls. [The picture shows crescent rolls, but you can do parker house, etc.  Or just ball them and line them in a 9X13 inch sprayed pan.]  For the crescent rolls, roll a big circle, and cut into triangles [like a pizza], and roll tightly from the widest end to the skinniest end, tucking the end under.
  7. Let rise on baking sheet [covered with towel] for 1/2 more or until doubled. 
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  [Watch your oven, I'd set it for 15 and go from there.  20 is how long it takes in my whackadoodle oven!]
  9. Then eat 15 rolls and then have to run 43 miles the next day to make up for it.
This makes a huge batch of rolls.  I usually make this batch, divide it in half, and freeze half of the dough.  To freeze the dough, spray a ziploc bag with cooking spray, and then add dough and put it in the freezer.  Check on it, to make sure it doesn't continue to rise and explode!  To use the frozen dough, just let it defrost and rise one time before use.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Coming Soon!

...I have been having serious issues with Blogger, so I haven't been able to post!

But, hopefully I'll have it all resolved soon.

Coming soon:

The perfect dinner roll (just in time for Thanksgiving)!
General Tso Chicken
Insane Pumpkin Bread
Hot Ham & Cheese Rolls
Perfect Pie Crust

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Yes, I realize that is the worlds longest muffin name.  But, it's necessary.

I made a batch of these the other day [makes 24 muffins], and they were gone in almost 2 days!  One morning, my oldest midget had FOUR muffins for breakfast.  The littles LOVED these!! 

Although the title says "peanut butter" muffins, the peanut butter flavor isn't that strong, it kind of hangs out in the background.  So, don't be scared of all the competeing flavors, the all work together to make a super delicious muffin! 

These bake up really pretty, and present very well!

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar [I know, in a muffin?! Trust me!]
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 large ripe bananas
  • 1 c. milk
  • 3/4 c. smooth peanut butter
  • 3 T. oil [can sub applesauce!]
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. chocolate chips
  1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. 
  2. In another bowl, combine the mashed bananas, milk, peanut butter, egg, oil and vanilla; mix well.  Mix into dry ingredients, stir just to combine.  Add in chocolate chips.  [I do all of this by hand, not with a mixer, it makes a BIG difference in muffins!]
  3. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray, or line with liners [spray inside of liners as well].  Fill 3/4 full, making about 24 muffins. 
    1. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Silhouette Pictures.

Okay, I get that this isn't a recipe. 

Get over it.

This is my creative outlet.  Mostly about cooking, but man, I'm an onion with layers.  I have my hands in so many pots, it isn't even funny.

Remember the old school silhouette pictures?  They remind me of Disneyland, mostly because there is [was?] a place on Main Street that did them. 
I love them!  I think they have kind of a vintage-y charm that can't be duplicated. 

I have wanted some of these FOREVER.  Seriously, ask my husband. I'm really annoying about things when I want to be.  The problem was: THEY HAD TO BE IN OVAL FRAMES!  [Just my opinion, but I think the oval frames are what make them look so vintagey and super wicked cool.]

I have been on the hunt for oval frames forever.  Even scouring thrift stores.  They didn't have to match, I didn't care if they were puke green; I can paint. 

For MONTHS I looked for oval frames, and found NOTHING.

Then, like the mother ship calling me home, they just opened a Hobby Lobby near me.  [Why, oh why must the name be so seriously stupid?  It's got to be a southern thing.  Like Piggly Wiggly.  I just feel stupid saying it.]  Now, Hobby Lobby is a whole separate post for a separate time. 

BUT, I found oval frames there: FOR CHEAP!!  $6/ea!  The best part was, I didn't have to paint them, they had various sizes, and styles!  I was able to find some that had the old school, vintagey look I was going for.   You have no idea how much this thrills me.  Clearly, I'm easy to please!

So, in about 15 minutes [+/- 17 months of searching for frames], I finally had my sihouettes!

If you need a tutorial for these, I'm happy to help, if you can't figure it out.  There are TONS of ways you could make these [including photoshop, which I don't have...I wish]! 

Aren't they awesome?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Indian Butter Chicken

Holy freaking crap.


I had to run a few extra miles just because of this!  But, it was so, completely and totally worth it.  [A super awesome Anna tip: when I make dishes like this, or curry, I only serve mine over like 1 or 2 Tablespoons of rice.  If you mix it all up, you won't miss the massive quantities of rice.  You still get the great flavor of the basmati rice, w/o glueing your insides together with starch.  I really try to watch the amount of starches, especially white starches that I eat.  Hey, every little bit counts.  Or, so says I.]

As a bonus, it was just as good, or even better the next day reheated---which I'm super picky about!!

Dang those Indian and Thai people and their good food.  It gets me every time!

Indian Butter Chicken
  • 4 chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced [smart Indians]
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground corriander
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can [14.5 oz] diced tomatoes
  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • 1 bunch chopped cilantro [traditionally---my husband hates cilantro, so I used flat leaf parsley, or you could omit completely]
  • basmati rice [the best rice ever invented, I don't care what you say]
  1. Combine garlic, salt, peppers, corriander, cumin, cardamom and lime juice.  Pour over chicken and seal in a ziploc bag.  Toss to coat completely.  Let marinate overnight, or all day in the fridge.  [And your fridge will smell like garlic, but it's worth it!]
  2. In a large saucepan, saute the onion in the butter until soft.  Add marinated chicken and cook for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.  Cook for 30 minutes over med-low heat with the lid on.  [I have accidentally added the cream at this point, and it still tastes fabulous, so either way is fine!]
  4. Add the cream and cilantro just before serving.
  5. Serve over basmati rice.
*This is a tiny bit spicy [I don't think so, but you might], you can adjust the spices accordingly.  Adding more cayenne pepper if you like it more spicy!

Baked Chicken Taquitos

So, okay, not admittedly the most fancy food in the world.  I get it.  But seriously, these went over like gangbusters!  I don't make stuff like this very often, maybe that is why it was such a hit.  Or maybe, just maybe the taquitos themselves weren't anything super fantastic.  Maybe it was the taquitos dipped [or, rather, smothered], in my super awesome, homemade jalapeno jelly.

Holy freaking crap, that stuff is awesome.  Have you ever tried it?  Does it scare you?  It shouldn't, because seriously, it's like love in jelly form.  It's sweet with just the right kick.

But, right, this is about taquitos. 

Baked Chicken Taquitos

  • 3 oz. cream cheese [I might have used more like 4, or even 5]
  • 1/4 c. green salsa
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • a few Tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 c. shredded cooked chicken [I boiled mine, then shredded it]
  • 1 c. shredded cheese [I used cheddar, but you could use mexican, pepperjack, etc.]
  • small corn or flour tortillas [I used corn, but next time I'll use flour]
  • kosher salt
  • cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.
  2. Soften cream cheese in microwave for about 20 seconds.  Add salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder.  Stir to combine and then add cilantro, chicken and cheese.  Mix well.
  3. Use a few tortillas at at a time.  Using moist paper towels, wrap them around 4-5 corn tortillas and place in the microwave for 40 seconds.  This will help to soften the tortillas and keep them from cracking as you roll them. 
  4. Place 2-3 T of the chicken mixture on the lower portion of the tortilla and roll up tightly.
  5. Place seam side down on the baking sheet.  Lay all of the taquitos on the baking sheet, and spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle some kosher salt on top.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown.
Dip in jalapano jelly and thank me later!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Beef and Broccoli

Sometimes, just sometimes I really love the crockpot.  On the flipside, sometimes, I really hate it as well.  It seems like most crockpot recipes taste the same, and have the same ingredients: Some type of meat, and some type of canned soup!  I'm just NOT a fan.

However, I love the convenience of it all.  I absolutely DREAD afternoons: kids get home from school [well, I love that part], but then we have homework, chores, making dinner, and the afternoon grumpies [my 2 year-old!].  It's just a chaotic, hectic time of day! [Even moreso when there is some type of sport practice or game!]

THAT is why I love the crockpot.  I use it more in the fall/winter, for obvious reasons.  This time I thought I'd try something different, maybe unexpected from a crock. 

My husband declares this one a winner!  So, if you don't like it, blame him, not me.

Crockpot Beef and Broccoli
  • 3 lbs. beef, cut into strips [I used top round steaks that were cut thin, then I sliced them into strips.  You could also use London Broil, etc.]
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3/4-1 tsp. red pepper flakes [adjust according to your heat level]
  • 1/4 c. chicken broth [or beef broth, I can't remember which I used, whichever was closest]
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. soy sauce
  • 3-4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 2 T. water
  • Garlic broccoli  [at least 3 cups fresh]
  • toasted sesame seeds [optional]
  • rice
  1. Whisk together sesame oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, chicken broth, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Place beef in the bottom of crock pot [sprayed with non-stick spray], pour sauce over the top of the meat and mix together to coat.
  2. Cook on low for 4-6 hours [for MY crockpot, it cooks very hot, you might have to adjust your cooking time]. 
  3. About 10 minutes before serving, prepare garlic broccoli.  Pour contents of crockpot into the pan with the broccoli.  Mix together cornstarch and water and add to pan.  Bring to a slight boil to thicken sauce.  If you need to at this point, you can add a bit more broth. 
  4. Once sauce has thickened, serve over rice and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Balsamic Glazed Drumsticks

Yesterday I learned that my kids are sheltered.  Like, really, seriously sheltered. 

They had no idea that chicken came ON THE BONE.  Mason kept asking me, "Okay, I get it, but how did you MAKE it?"  I kept telling him that you buy it like this, it comes like this [I can't go too far into the "It came off the chicken" without puking in my mouth].  He kept saying, "Okay, I get it.  BUT HOW DID YOU MAKE IT ON THE BONE?!"

Then Camden asked me, "Oh, wow. Cool, are these DOG BONES inside?"

Yoikes.  Lesson learned.  And here I thought I was doing a good job of exposing them to all kinds of food, cultures, etc.  Obviously not.

This recipe is based on a recipe by our clevage baring gal, Giada de Laurentiis.  [As a tip:  If you bear your cleavage, your food tastes better.  Or at least your husband will think so.  Giada has years of culinary tv based solely on this fact.]  Not that I'm jealous.

This recipe is fantastic.  It's fairly foolproof, really easy, and economical.  I didn't realize [obviously, because I never buy them], how cheap chicken drumsticks are!  I got a huge package for $4 --- @ .89 cents a pound. 

Balsamic Glazed Drumsticks
  • 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • molasses
  • 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • 12-14 chicken drumsticks [Giada calls them drumettes--I feel stupid doing that.   Maybe if I wore a lower cut shirt??]
  • 2 T. toasted sesame seeds
  • chopped parsley
  1. Combine the balsamic, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce and a splash of molasses.  Whisk to combine.  Take the sprigs of rosemary and kind of "beat them up" at bit--smash, twist, etc.  This will help to release more of the flavor.  I find if you don't do this, the rosemary taste is pretty much non-existent.  Add rosemary and garlic halves to the sauce.
  2. Add chicken drumsticks into a large resealable plastic bag, pour sauce over the top.  Seal bag and shake around to combine.  Let marinate in fridge for at least 2 hours [I did most of the day].  Throughout the day, continue to rotate, shake and mix up the bag so the marinade coats all of the chicken.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Place the chicken on a foil lined [don't skip this step!] baking sheet.  Bake until the skin is carmalized and very dark in spots, about 30 to 35 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, place the marinade in a small saucepan.  [At this point, I remove the garlic, mince it and add it back in you don't have to do this, but it will increase the garlic flavor].  Bring to a full rolling boil---this is VERY important.  You MUST do this to kill any bacteria from the chicken.  Continue to boil [not on high, but a constant bubble], until the sauce has reduced and is nice and thick.  Remove rosemary.  [This should take about 15 minutes.]
  5. Remove the chicken from the oven, and using a pastry brush, brush chicken with the thick sauce.  Place chicken on platter and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and chopped parsley.
[Great served with asparagus or broccoli!]

Friday, October 1, 2010

recipe revisit.

I revisisted my Pineapple Curry Recipe last night.  I tweaked a few things...

and the result? 

DELICIOUS!  If you haven't tried this yet, you really should.  It's very easy and fast to throw together, and it's so good! I didn't even eat mine with rice! 

[In fact, I'm eating the leftovers right now.  And wearing an apron, so I don't spill bright yellow curry sauce all over my white shirt...]

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Banana Cinnamon Waffles

It's like banana bread in waffle form. 

Needless to say, this went over well.  My 2 year old ate an entire, huge waffle. 

Banana Cinnamon Waffles
  • 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 c. milk
  • 2 smashed, ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil [could also use 1/2 c. melted butter]
  1. Sift all dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  In a smaller mixing bowl, combine egg yolks, milk, oil, vanilla and smashed bananas.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix together by hand, don't overmix. 
  2. In another bowl, whip egg whites [use a hand mixer for faster results] until stiff peaks form.  Fold egg whites into batter -- Do NOT overmix.  You should still be able to see some of the egg whites.
  3. Pour amount of mixture appropriate for your waffle iron into a preheated waffle iron.  Cook for about 3 minutes.
Waffles with be a nice goldeny brown, and slightly crispy on the outside, and chewy on the inside!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Peanut Butter & Jelly [pancake] Sandwiches

My midgets love breakfast foods.  Cereals, oatmeals, pancakes, waffles, crepes, eggs...they love it all!

[In fact, there are the occasional nights where I make breakfast for dinner.  And the kids cheer.]

My friend gave me this recipe, and we thought we'd give it a whirl.  The midgets loved it! 

You definitely don't have to serve this as "sandwiches".  They would be great as regular pancakes---maybe use your jam/jelly, reduce it down to a syrup and serve it that way!

PB Pancake Sandwiches
  • 1 1/4 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. peanut butter [creamy]
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 1/4 c. milk
  • Jelly or Jam [I used homemade raspberry]
  • cream cheese
  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the peanut butter, egg and sugar until combined.  Whisk in the milk until combined.
  3. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined.  [Okay to have a few lumps, don't overmix!]
  4. Cook on a hot griddle for about 2-3 minutes a side.
  5. Set aside to cool.
  6. In a small bowl mix together jam and softened [or whipped] cream cheese until combined.
  7. Take a cooled pancake, spread with jam/cream cheese mixture, and top with another pancake to make a sandwich.
*I also served these just topped with the jam/cream cheese and cut up.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Lima Beans?

You may or may not have a bag of lima beans in your house---even if you don't eat them.  I'll admit that I like MOST things, but I'm not the biggest fan of lima beans.

So...when life hands you lima beans, make a wreath! 

I used large lima beans, because it is what I had, but in hindsight, I wish I had used the smaller ones, I think they would have looked better.  When I was finished I sprayed it with an off white spray paint [you could spray it any color]. 

I'm kind of digging it!

[And, while we are on the subject of my front door, can I just be annoyed for a second?  See that peep hole?  Yeah, whoever built this house/put in the peep hole/etc. must have been 2 feet tall.  When I stand at the door, the peep hole hits me right in the, uh, chest.   I have to bend down like a giant to even see through the thing.  It also makes centering wreaths really awkward.]  So glad I got that off my chest.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pumpkin Bars

Kicking off the first day of fall with Pumpkin Bars!  The little midgets were very excited to smell [and taste] these when they came home from school.

We'll pretend the weather is cooling down, and I can dive into my "fall only" recipes.  This, of course, includes all things pumpkin.  I absolutely LOVE pumpkin anything.  It's very warm and comforting!

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 15 oz. pumpkin
  • 1 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1 c. applesauce
  • 3/4 c. chopped pecans [optional]
  • cream cheese frosting
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, baking soda and salt; set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, pumpkin, sugar and applesauce with electric mixer until combined.  Add the flour mixture; beat until well combined, scraping down the sides as necessary.  If desired, stir in chopped pecans.  Spread the batter into a 15x10x1 inch pan.  [I spray mine with non-stick spray.]
  3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan on wire rack.  Frost.  Cut into squares.  Cover and refrigerate to store.
Cream Cheese Frosting**
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 c. butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffy.  Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating until smooth.
**This will give you enough for a thin, thin layer of frosting.  If you like a thicker layer, double the frosting!

Friday, September 10, 2010


Packing up and heading out on vacation!!  We are taking the band of traveling midgets to DISNEYLAND!

Maybe, just maybe I'll actually COOK again when we get back! 

[I can't help it.  Soccer, school, and life in general are a total time suck right now.]

Monday, August 30, 2010


My fridge, counter, and bowls are packed to the brim with fruits and vegetables!  It's that oh-so-wonderful time of year!  I am seriously going to have to be creative to use all the stuff we have on hand before it goes bad!

I'd also like to thank my sister-in-law for introducing me to bountiful baskets.  For those of you that are in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Washington, check it out!  You won't be disappointed! 

This was our bountiful baskets haul from Saturday morning: in the bag are fresh green beans, sweet potatoes, plums [they are SO good], oranges, bananas, grapes, broccoli, tomatoes, nectarines [also delicious!], mangoes, celery and lettuce!  Not too shabby for $15, right?!

 We were not disappointed this week! Although, now I'm wondering if I should wait to order again until our garden is done producing!  It's insane the amount of stuff I need to eat, freeze, cook or bottle/can this week!
A *tiny* sampling of what we picked from the garden this week.  You'll notice the abundance of romas, jalapenos and onions: I made salsa yesterday! Most of the green and red peppers were used last week when I made jalapeno salsa...but holy snot, I have 10 million jalapenos still in my garden.  Anyone need some?!  I don't know what inspired me to plant TWO jalapeno plants this year! 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cookie Bars/Cookie Pizza

Yesterday afternoon, my dudes and I were trying to figure out what kind of treat to make for our big "Back to School Family Night" last night.  It seemed like everyone wanted something different, and we were also limited to what I had on hand [to say I was in dire need of going grocery shopping would be an understatement!]. 

In the end, we decided to try a cookie bar.  Instead of baking it in a pan, we decided to go for a pizza pan, which the kids totally loved!  It didn't make it taste any different, but to them it was very cool. 

My husband didn't have high hopes for this.  He's very picky about his cookie/treats and LOVES the chocolate chip cookies I make.  However, I think we won him over.  After the kids were in bed last night, I kept catching him slicing off more.  Eventually he looked at me, with his hand full of cookie and said, "These are good!" 
Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars/Cookie Pizza

  • 2 3/4 c. all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 c. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. chocolate chip [we used 1 c. mini m&m's and 1 c. milk chocolate chips]
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 10 x 15 inch jelly roll pan, or a pizza pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar, stirring until smooth.  Stir in the vanilla.  Allow the mixture to cool slightly.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Stir in the flour mixture, then the chocolate chips.  Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake the bars for 24-26 minutes, until their top is shiny and golden.  Don't overbake, or the bars will be dry; a cake tester inserted into the center WILL NOT come out clean.  Remove the bars from the oven and cool to room temperature before cutting.
Enjoy!  My little dudes loved these.  Maybe next time I will let them decorate the top!