Saturday, February 28, 2009

Quinoa, what?

Shane found an article several years ago on the 'grain' Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah).  We were looking at different ways to eat more healthy and instantly fell in in love with the idea of this whole grain substitute for rice and pototatoes.  Finding it at the store was a little more difficult, but we found it and it's becoming more and more common at regular grocers. 

Quinoa is high in complete protein, gluten-free, and is a whole grain.  It is great for vegetarians and diabetics, as well as those on specialized diets such gluten or wheat-free.  It is technically not a grain, but a seed.  However, for all purposes it is used as a grain.

We have been eating this grain for the past couple of years.  It's a great substitute for rice or potatoes.  In fact, we substitute it for rice in several recipes and it is great!  It's got a great 'meatier' flavor than regular rice.  We've also cooked it for breakfast as a hot-cereal with a little brown sugar or honey.  There are a lot of great recipes on the following sites, as well as great information about this 'grain'.  In addition to being sold as a seed/grain, it's sold as flour and pasta.  We haven't tried these products yet, but look forward to in the future because of their nutritional benefits.


1 tbsp olive oil
1 (8 oz) package mushrooms, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed
3 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

1.  Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Cook adn stir the mushrooms, onion and garlic in the hot oil until browned, about 5 minutes; set aside.

2.  Melt the butter in a pot over medium-high heat.  Add the quinoa to the melted butter and let it brown, about 3 minutes.

3.  Pour the chicken broth over the quinoa; bring to a boil.  Cover and  reduce heat to low; simmer 10 minutes.  Stir in the sauteed mushroom mixture and cook another 2 minutes. 

4.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese to serve.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mmmmm, Meatballs


1 lb. lean ground hamburger (or ground turkey)
1 egg
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs (or crushed croutons)
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp. onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. green pepper, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350°.  Mix all ingredients together.  Shape into 1-inch balls.  Place on greased baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes.  

Great with marinara sauce over spaghetti, or as a sandwich. 

FYI, if you want to sneak veggies into your kids meals without them knowing, dishes like this are great!  My kids don't like onions and peppers, or so they think, but they love foods flavored with them.  So, as long as they aren't visible, ie: chopped really finely, they will get the flavor and vitamins!  You could also try zucchini, carrots or broccoli in these meatballs.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

School Lunch Ideas

Lincoln did not inherit his taste buds from me. Seriously. This child loves bologna, hot dogs, vienna sausages and all manner of processed meats. Ick. No, make that double ick. He also likes tomato soup, pickles on anything (seriously anything) and cocoa puffs. Please don't judge my tastes, or the fact that I do feed these above mentioned items to my children, I want to continue getting cards that read "World's Best Mom" on them.

Lincoln decided a couple of months ago that he would really like to take lunch to school, rather than eat the already prepared and very cheap school lunches. I remember begging my mom for the same thing and therefore could not bear to tell him no. So, I started waking up at the crack of dawn (no, this wasn't new, but it adds so much to the story) to make a healthy, wholesome lunch for my oldest, free of any nastiness mentioned in the above paragraph. I made ham sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, tuna sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and always included a great snack of apple slices and a granola bar. You know what he asked me after a couple of weeks? If he could just have bologna sandwiches. It was at that point I gave up and gave him what he wanted. Seriously, if the kid thrives on salty, processed meats, who am I to stop it, right? (Don't tell him, but I purchased chicken bologna, he mentioned it tasted different than what he's used to, I told him it'd been a long time since he'd had bologna and his tastes must have changed...)

This week after rearranging all of the food in our kitchen to start our remodeling project, I found the chicken vienna sausages that I had stashed toward the back of the pantry. I decided to make the kids' day; y'know what I did? Threw a can of vienna sausages in his lunch sack, with an apple and two cookies. (gross, I know) I don't know who beamed more that evening when he said that it was the best lunch he'd had!

So, for the real reason of this posting. Kids like variety, I'm sure. I'm also sure that they love eating healthy. But sometimes they just love cheap, processed foods.

Tomorrow I'm going to try a new idea...SANDWICH KABOBS. It's a new way to eat all the foods of a great sandwich, without the traditional way of doing so. I think Savannah will love this idea, since she pulls her sandwiches apart and eats everything separately anyway.


Take bamboo skewers and stack them with all sorts of yummy "sandwich" fillings. Cheese chunks, cut up veggies, meat slices, grape's a sandwich on a stick, without the bread.

Also, for other sandwich options:
whipped cream cheese and fruit
flavored cream cheese and veggies
apple butter
pita bread stuffed with cream cheese and veggies
jam and cheese

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Slow Cooker Sunday

This recipe comes from Family Fun Magazine's website, see here
for original recipe.  It looks delicious and very easy.


1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons butter
2 ounces semisweet chocolate (or 1/3 cup chocolate chips)
1 cup sugar (2/3 cup & 1/3 cup, added separately)
3 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup brown sugar
11/2 cups hot water
Whipped cream or ice cream
1. Coat the inside of a 2 1/2- to 5-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. (Note: the cake's cooking time and final appearance will vary depending on your crock's size.) 
2. Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water and mix well. 
3. Whisk in the 2/3 cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons of cocoa, vanilla extract, salt, milk, and egg yolk. Add the flour mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed. 
4. Pour the batter into the slow cooker and spread it evenly. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar, cocoa, and hot water until the sugar is dissolved. 
5. Pour the mixture over the batter in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 1 to 2 hours, depending on the size of the crock pot.
6. Even when done, the cake will be very moist and floating on a layer of molten chocolate, but you'll know it's ready when nearly all of the cake is set and the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pot. (As you check, try not to let the condensed steam from the lid drip onto the cake.) 
7. When it's done, turn off the power and remove the lid. Let it cool for 25 minutes, then serve it in bowls topped with whipped cream or ice cream. Makes 6 to 8 servings. 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Valentine's Cake

What the cake looked like when I made it...I kind of messed up on the ganache glaze.

What the cake looked like after we got into it....mmmm.

Death-by-Chocolate Cake

1 package devils food cake mix
(mix according to directions on package)

1 tub chocolate ready-to-spread frosting

1/3 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

crushed candy, whatever type you wish to use but toffee would be really yummy

1. Heat oven to 350°.  Generously grease 2 round pans. (I used square pans)  Pour cake mix into two separate pans.

2.  Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes.  Run knife around side of pans to loosen cakes and remove from pans to wire rack.  Cool completely, about 1 hour.

3.  Frost layers with tub of ready made frosting.  Stack layers.

4.  Heat whipping cream in saucepan over medium heat until hot, but do NOT boil; remove from heat.  Stir in chocolate chips until melted and smooth.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Carefully pour chocolate mixture onto top center of cake; spread to edge, allowing some to drizzle down side.  Garnish top of cake with crushed candy.  Refrigerate about 1 hour or until chocolate is set. 

(Side note: Next time I make this cake I will add mint extract to either the ready made frosting or the chocolate ganache glaze, it would be sooooo good!)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


This is my all time FAVORITE bread recipe!  Compliments of my mother-in-law, it's a very versitile recipe.  I've used it as rolls, in loaf pans, and originally intended, french bread loaves.  It's got a very smooth texture and sweet taste.  Plus, it's a quick and easy recipe!  It only takes 2 hours and you've got hot bread!


2 packages quick rise yeast (4 1/2 tsp.)
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups warm water
3 tbsp. white sugar
1/2 tbsp. salt
5 tbsp. cooking oil
6 cups flour

In small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tbsp. sugar in 1/2 cup warm water; set aside.  (I run my water until it's hot and use it at that temperature).

In large bowl, mix 2 cups water, sugar, salt, oil and 3 cups flour.  Mix well.

Beat in yeast mixture and mix well-until smooth.

Add remaining flour.  Shape in ball and knead on floured surfae until a little sticky.  (I usually knead for about 10 minutes and add a lot of flour).

Let rise about 30 minutes.  Punch down and divide into 2 loaves (or 2 loaf pans, or rolls...get creative).  Pinch in both ends and make 3 shallow slices on top - if you're making the french loaves.  Place on greased baking sheet and let rise another 20-30 minutes.  Bake @ 375° for about 20-30 minutes.  Glaze top with butter for the last 10 minutes.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Slow Cooker Sunday

I am still kind of a novice at slow cooker, or crockpot, cooking. I think I owned a big, nice crock-pot for 3 years before using it. Now I use it several times a week, so I'm learning. I cook beans in it and freeze them for later, I cook soups in it, I love roasts and chicken that simmer in the sauces all day long. I have realized that most recipes I make can be made in a crock for convenience. I also love the convenience of the slow cooking idea. When the worst (read most hectic) time of day hits at 4:30 p.m., the last thing I usually find myself doing is getting dinner ready. I like to have it already cooking and ready to serve when Shane gets home from work...whenever that is. (One more bonus for slow cookers...if it's already been cooking all day, what's a few more minutes...:) )

My favorite recipe, or rather my kids favorite recipe, lately is Cranberry Chicken. I've cooked it on the stove-top, baked it in the oven and most recently tried it in the crock pot. I actually preferred it in the crock pot because not only was it easier but the flavors blended exceptionally well. (actually just well, but I really wanted to use the word exceptionally in a sentence today...)


1 can jellied cranberry sauce
1 package dried onion soup mix
1 cup catalina dressing
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast or tenders

Because I like my meat browned, and the don't get sufficiently brown in the crock pot, I brown my chicken first. Then mix first three ingredients together and pour over chicken in crock pot. Yes, that's it. I cook it on high for 5 hours. Serve with rice. (side note, I make my rice in a rice cooker that stays on warm for up to 5 hours...say it with me..."Slow cooked rice, how convenient!")

Thursday, February 12, 2009


These chocolate chip cookies work out perfectly, EVERY TIME! They don't spread or fall. You want a fail-proof recipe for the kids ya go!


1 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
3 tbsp. warm water
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cup flour
1 cup nuts, chopped (for my husbands sake, I don't add these, but I love them better with them added...)
1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream shortening and sugars in bowl until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add baking soda, water, salt, and flour until moistened. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.

Spoon onto cookie sheet a spoonful at a time, I make small cookies - think kid size... (like a serving spoon size.) Bake for 8-10 minutes @ 350°. I made 4 dozen this morning with this recipe.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I'm a pretty simplistic person. I like vanilla ice cream, neutral colors, and bare shelves. I also don't love extra complicated, super fancy-schmancy recipes. I like recipes that don't include odd, rare-used ingredients that I never keep in my pantry. I'll go out on a limb every once-in-awhile because I love a challenge, but I don't like to regularly venture into lands unknown. I'm going to work on this. The following recipe, however, does not fall into that category. It's a very simple recipe that I need to make more often. I love it, Shane loves it and I'm sure the kids would too, if I ever made it for them!


16 large pasta shells
8-oz can tomato paste
16-oz can tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 stem fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
1 egg
3 stems fresh parsley, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 375°. Cook pasta shells until al dente, about 10-12 minutes.

Add tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes, oregano, and 1 stem parsley to saucepan. Stir and bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer.

In a separate bowl, add cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, egg and 2 stems parsley. Mix well.

Stuff cooked shells with cheese mixture. Arrange stuffed shells in 8"x8" baking pan. Pour sauce over shells. Bake 20 minutes until heated through.

Side note: I will be working on getting more slow cooker recipes on this blog, and they will be included on the "slow cooker Saturday" postings... enjoy! :)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sugar Cookies

For those of you who can't make it through the Valentine's Day holiday without sugar cookies, this one's for you. It's a good recipe, and that's coming from me, the one person who could probably make it through any holiday without them! Not because I don't love 'em, I absolutely hate making them. Enjoy, martyrs!

Sugar Cookies

4 ½ cups sifted flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup butter
½ cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, shortening, and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and beat well. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture one cup at a time alternating will milk and vanilla. Beat well after each addition. Wrap dough in wax paper or plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Divide dough into four portions. Roll out one portion at a time on a lightly floured surface, to about ¼ inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Bake for 6-8 minutes. Do not over bake.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 lbs. confectioner’s sugar
½ cup butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ cup shortening
2 teaspoons vanilla
Food coloring

In large mixing bowl, cream together sugar, butter, cream cheese, and shortening. Add milk to right consistency. Stir in vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 10 minutes. Add food coloring as desired.

Monday, February 2, 2009

February what?!?

I have been told that as you age, time goes faster. I do remember time going so S-L-O-W-L-Y when I was little. Christmas took forever to get here, Summer vacation just went on forever, the days were longer...but I'm not old and time is FLYING! Seriously, it's been what, 33 days, since we brought in the New Year and I still haven't actually written down my resolutions. By now I usually have written them down, started them and broken them, therefore canning all future resolutions and gotten on living my life. Well, welcome to February!

My husband is a choco-holic. I kid you not, if he could get an IV with chocolate he'd be completely satisfied. I think his mom ate a little too much chocolate while pregnant. That being said, he's very easy to please with desserts. For Valentine's day I try to make him a special dinner, you know all his favorites. He loves lasagna, he loves bread, and he loves chocolate and sweets...voila! Chocolate cheesecake. To be completely honest, for people like me who could easily live without chocolate, it's a little rich. But Shane loves it, so Happy Valentines Day to him!


18 Chocolate Sandwich cookies, finely crushed (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted

3 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pkg. (8 squares) Semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted, cooled slightly
(I usually use the equivalent of cocoa and oil, listed on cocoa container)
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 325° if using a silver 9 inch springform pan (300° if using a dark nonstick 9 inch springform pan). Mix crushed cookies and butter; press firmly onto bottom of pan and bake for 5 minutes.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add melted chocolate; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour over crust.

Bake 55 minutes to 1 hour or until center is almost set. Turn off oven and leave cheesecake in oven for 1 hour. Run knife around side of pan to loosen cake. Cool cake completely before removing side of pan. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Store in refrigerator.

Before serving I usually sprinkle cocoa and powdered sugar over the top of the cake.