Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Do you still need a roll recipe for Thanksgiving?  These are so good.  Do not be scared, they don't really taste pumpkin-y.  Just soft and tender.  Sooo good!  You can easily half the recipe.

original recipe found HERE.

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
Yield: 4 Dozen Rolls
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups warm milk
¼ cup butter, softened or melted (I warm it with the milk above)
2 cups mashed cooked pumpkin (I used canned)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup wheat germ or whole wheat flour
10-12 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
7 teaspoons dry yeast
1. In large mixing bowl, combine sugar, water, milk, butter, pumpkin, and salt. Mix well.
2. Add wheat germ, 7-8 cups of the flour, and yeast. Mix, and then continue adding flour and kneading until dough is elastic and not sticky.
3. Place dough in greased bowl; grease top of dough, cover with a towel, and set in a warm place until doubled (about 60-90 minutes).
4. Punch dough down and divide into thirds. Divide each third into 16 pieces and shape into balls.
5. Place on greased baking sheets, and grease tops. (I use two 11x15-inch baking sheets, and put 24 rolls on each.) Cover and let rise until almost doubled, about 30 minutes.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until tops are golden. Remove to wire racks and cover with a towel. Brush tops with butter if desired, as soon as rolls are removed to the wire racks. Serve warm with butter.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

White Chicken Chili

If I start making soups and stews maybe the weather will cool down!

White Chicken Chili/Soup

Adapted by Loni Jenks from the BYU Cooking Class Recipe Book by Janet

3-4 cans great northern white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 lb. bacon, diced and cooked
1-2 cups of mild salsa
3-4 chicken breasts
8 oz. shredded pepper jack cheese
Chicken stock

Cook the chicken with half the salsa, either in a pot or a slow cooker, then shred
it. Cook the bacon (I like to bake mine in the oven on a cookie sheet lined with
parchment paper because to clean up you just have to wait for the grease to
cool, roll it all up to and throw it away!).

Combine all the ingredients, except the cheese, in a heavy pot or slow cooker.
Add chicken stock as desired to loosen it up. Simmer over medium heat for 15
minutes or so (for a slow cooker about an hour) until ingredients are warmed
through. Stir in the cheese and simmer a little while longer until it's melted. Add
any additional chicken stock to make it your desired consistency.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Printable Menu Planners

I'm always looking for help when planning my weekly menu.  I only do a week at a time so I thought I would share a few of my favorite printable planners:

The One With Lots of Ink but 3 Meals a Day

The One With the Grocery List

The One With Lots of Options

My Menu for the Week (in no special order, most have links):

Peanut Butter & Oatmeal Banana Muffins + Fruit
Tofu Orange Smoothies + Bagels
Breakfast Burritos (make extra to put in freezer)
Cheese Toast + Oranges + Bananas
Pumpkin Pancakes + Maple Sausage
Baked French Toast + Strawberries
Baked Oatmeal

Green Salad + Macaroni and Cheese
PB&J + Carrot Sticks
Ham and Cheese on Crackers + Apples
Tuna and Egg Salad Sandwiches
Bean and Cheese Burritos
Grilled Cheese and Soup (from freezer)
Quesidillas + Green Salad

Chili Frito Pie (Using leftover extra chili in freezer)
Orange Chicken + Rice + Asian Salad
Pork Tenderloin + Mashed Potatoes + Green Beans
Fish Tacos
Steak + Pasta Salad + Fruit Salad
Terriyaki Salmon + Rice + Stir-fry Veggies (will post this recipe soon, we love it)
Halloween Party Potluck - Bringing Halloweenies (adapted) & Monster Eyes

Homemade Granola Bars
Banana Bread

If you are interested in a recipe that I didn't post a link for just leave a comment and let me know.  I'll try to get on it!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkin Season

It's Pumpkin season! Pretty much my favorite season of the year, for fun and for food. I love cooking with pumpkin and i love carving pumpkins. Plus I love Pumpkin spice scented candles.

With this dessert you won't have to light the candles. It brings the scent into your house for real. Plus then you get to eat it and you don't have that waxy aftertaste. (for the record I have never tasted my candles)

Streusel Topped Pumpkin Pie

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin (2 cups)
1 (14 oz.) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 large egg
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (6 oz.) prepared graham cracker pie crust
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons All Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons cold butter
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Whipped cream

HEAT oven to 425°F. Whisk together pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, egg, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt in large bowl. Pour into crust.

BAKE 15 minutes. While pie is baking, combine brown sugar, flour and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in small bowl; cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts.

REMOVE pie from oven; reduce oven to 350°F. Sprinkle streusel mixture over pie.

BAKE 40 minutes or until set. Cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

After School Delight

I don't know about you guys, but no matter what I pack for my kids lunches, they come home starving.
I don't want them to fill up too much before dinner, but I can't stand "starving" my kids.
Here's a new idea. Something filling, pretty healthy, and easy to throw together.

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup cashews
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup pistachios
3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut
1 cup honey
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup craisins
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and stir to coat thoroughly.
Pour granola mixture onto a large baking sheet that has been lightly sprayed with olive oil.
Bake in a 300 degree oven for about 1 hour or until golden. Stir every 15 minutes.
Allow to cool and enjoy!
If you're like my family, and you have to have sugar running through your veins at all times, by all means add M&Ms after you've baked it and it's cooled. There isn't much better than M&M's in trail mix. At least for 5/6 of our family.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Squash and Beans

I'd like to thank Nicole for emailing me today's post. My life has been eaten up with photo shoots, back to school meetings, piano lessons and everything else that a wife/mother-of-4/teacher/chef/etc. has to do. 

Sorry for the absence!

If you've read my past posts (say that 10 times fast) or know me, you know I'm a sucker for black beans, burritos and all kinds of squash. This recipe incorporates all things wonderful. No, I haven't made them yet, but I know Nicole, and I know Nicole's cooking, and it's got to be good. I'm making them this week, and I can't wait.

Seriously, tonight's dinner of baked ham, with homemade augratin potatoes just doesn't seem as good when my mouth is watering for this...

Butternut Squash & Black Bean Burritos (serves 3-4)

3-4 whole wheat flour tortillas
1 1-lb. butternut squash, diced into 1” cubes
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 c fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1/4 c diced yellow or red onion
2 T olive oil, divided
1/2 t salt, divided
1/4 t sugar
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 t minced garlic
1/4 t ground cumin
1/8 t cayenne pepper (optional)
Salsa, sour cream and other burrito fixings of your choice

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a medium bowl toss together the squash, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, sugar and ground black pepper until the squash is evenly coated. Spread onto a foil lined baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes, until the squash is tender and lightly browned. Set aside.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for about 2 minutes or until they begin to soften. Next, add the drained black beans and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring gently. Finally, add the roasted squash and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until everything is completely heated through.

To assemble your 
burritos, take a warm tortilla and fill with a generous amount of the black bean and squash filling. Add a nice handful of chopped spinach on top and roll together (the spinach will wilt slightly inside). Serve with salsa, avocado, cilantro or any burrito fixins that you like!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

We've Gone Ape

Remember how I mentioned I was trying to come up with all sorts of new things to feed my family in the mornings?

It's still going well.  No major complaints, except for quiche (Cael), Johnny Cakes (Landry), breakfast meat (Cael), German pancakes (me)... but seriously, it's going really well.

Then I hit a snag.  I didn't have any ideas for today and I didn't plan ahead last night, so come this morning, at 6:30, I was trying to decide what to make.  Then I remembered a Young Women's activity we had a couple of months ago.  So, I thanked the world for my friend Susan, and her friend Paula Deen, and we had Gorilla Bread - the ever-so-decadent cousin of Monkey Bread.

Do you have refrigerator rolls? Check.
Do you have cream cheese? Check.
Do you have sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter? Check, check, check and check.

(seriously, if you do not have these ingredients in your pantry/refrigerator I will cry for you)

In the time it took me to cook some eggs and bacon to accompany our centerpiece it was baked and ready to eat.  Perfect for a rainy (Yes, rainy!) Thursday school day.  Just like oatmeal, but so much better!

(Originally found here at Paula Deen)
italics indicate changes by me

1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon (at our house we have a shaker full of cinnamon sugar, already mixed that I use)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 (8-oz) pkg. cream cheese
2 (12-oz) cans refrigerator rolls
1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional, and at our house, never used...)

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray. (today I used a 10-in. tart pan, because I wanted it flat instead of molded to cook faster, it worked great)

Mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.  In a saucepan melt butter and brown sugar over low heat, stirring well; set aside.  Cut cream cheese into 20 equal cubes.  Press biscuit dough out, place cube of cheese and cinnamon sugar, wrapping and sealing cheese inside dough.  Layer biscuits, nuts and sauce.  (I simply wrap a cube of cheese inside a biscuit, lay them all out, sprinkle tops of wrapped biscuits with cinnamon sugar, then pour sauce over the entire thing.  It's alot easier and tastes the same...)

Bake for 30 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes.  Invert pan and serve.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Can I See Your Menu?

Do you guys cook from pre-made menus or just wing it? I was rolling more as a free spirit during the summer months, but I realized as we headed into the hectic time of year called school-time we needed to make some changes. 

So….menu time it is.

It helps my life in a lot of ways.  I mean, seriously, who loves to go to the grocery store?  With 3 year old twins? And grocery prices that are seriously crazy high? (this alone makes me long for Utah's low grocery prices, that and the cooler temperatures, and the rain, and the mountains...)

Yeah, not me either.

It’s a great way to save time and gas by planning ahead (gasp, yes) and only having to frequent the grocery store every week or so. 

Of course, we also decided to initiate the hot breakfast during the week routine my husband was raised with.  I am a cold cereal kind of gal, so that is a change for me.  But, after a week and a half of cooking a hot breakfast for my family, I’m convinced it’s a good practice I should have started years ago.  Now we have my beloved cold cereal on the weekends.

It’s expanded our old list of standby’s and the kids have been really good sports about it.  However, I did ad lib last night, because after cooking every day we had a fridge full of left-overs and no room for more.  Hence, the tradition of Wednesday leftovers started…

So, if you do a menu will you share some ideas? I’m anxious to see some new ideas, and I’d love for our menu to not be like the school menu with a four week rotating schedule!

Here's ours for the last/this/next weeks...

Wednesday: Cinnamon Rolls/Scrambled eggs/fruit
          Fried Rice with veggies

Thursday:  Johnny cakes
         Chicken & corn enchiladas

Friday:    Egg/cheese/ham sandwiches
         Ramen w/ veggies
         BBQ ribs w/ corn on cob
Saturday:  Cereal w/ fruit

Sunday: Cereal
       We eat at my in-laws every week, I took a veggie

Monday: Oatmeal
       Fried rice
       Dirty Beans

Tuesday: Hashbrown frittata
        Chili Relleno casserole

Wednesday: French toast

Thursday: Leftovers
        Mac 'n cheese
        Roast w/ mashed sweet potatoes

Friday: Quiche

Saturday: Cereal
        Ravioli (see a trend, I don't cook on Saturdays)
        Parmesan Tilapia

Sunday: Cereal
       I'm taking a dessert...any ideas?

Monday: Biscuits & Gravy
       Ranch chicken

Tuesday: German Pancakes
        Hawaiian chicken w/ rice

Friday, August 19, 2011

Jamie's Asian Noodle Salad

This is a recipe that is making its way around the food blogs.
Have you ever seen the tv show Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution? Messy brown hair, english accent (not to be confused with Guy Fieri's spiky blonde hair or Curtis Stone with the Australian accent)? I've only seen it once, and I watched him bury a family's deep fryer. That was kinda weird.
Anyway, this is one of his recipes... it is sooo good. Even my "I'm not a rabbit" husband liked it. Perfect blend of sweetness and spice.
Do you think Jamie would approve that I served it with grilled tomato and cheese sandwiches? Probably not.
Asian Noodle Salad adapted from Jamie Oliver

1 packages linguine noodles, cooked, rinsed, and cooled
1/2 to 1 head sliced Napa cabbage
1/2 to 1 head sliced purple cabbage
1/2 to 1 bag baby spinach
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
1 orange bell pepper, sliced thin
1 small bag bean sprouts
3 sliced green onion
1 peeled, sliced cucumber (no thanks)
chopped cilantro-to taste
1 can whole cashews, lightly toasted in skillet (didn't use either)

Juice of 1 lime
8 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
6 tablespoons soy sauce (gluten-free)
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 hot peppers or jalapenos, chopped

Mix together salad ingredients in LARGE bowl. Whisk (or use blender, or put in a jar and shake)together dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Mix with tongs and serve in a big bowl or platter.

Friday, August 12, 2011

I Scream For Ice Cream

It's officially ice cream season at our house.  Finally, since it should have started months ago.  While in Utah (for the second time) I purchased a new cookbook (well, we bought four) named Scoop.  It's all about ice cream.  All. About. Ice. Cream....mmmm.

If you know me, you know I love me some ice cream.  I love to make it.  I love to eat it.  I love to experiment.  Now I'm just trying to get behind the science of it all. 

The first one we tried was Banana Cream Pie, which was good but way rich.  If you're lucky I'll post the recipe, sans pictures because it went pretty quickly.  The cookbook also includes recipes for Jalapeno Avacado Ice Cream, which I'm actually going to try.  Yes, I am.

The next recipe I made wasn't from the Scoop cookbook, but one that I'd found earlier this Summer and hadn't tried yet.  Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream.  Yep, buttermilk.

It's tangy and sweet and oh, so refreshing. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Birthday Dinners

Birthday dinners are a HUGE thing at our house.  The birthday person gets to plan the menu for their own, very special birthday dinner.  Whatever they want.  In a family of 6 this is a pretty big deal.  Especially when the mom loves to cook what she likes most of the time…

Savannah’s dinner was the most thought out, well planned meal from a six-year old EVER.  She analyzed her options, she thought long and hard, and came up with pretty much the perfect menu.  Each one of the 15 people who ate the dinner would agree, I’m sure.

Homemade rolls with homemade jam
Tomato/alfredo shrimp pasta bake
Green salad
Grape soda (we also offered Strawberry)
Strawberry lemonade ice cream cake (just use Strawberry Lemonade mix)

Seriously, so fattening, so time-intensive to make, but oh, so delicious!  Thanks Nannah!

  • 16-18 oz. pasta (I use penne, radiatore, or farfalle), cooked as directed on packaging
  • Large jar spaghetti sauce (it doesn't have to be fancy, I use Hunts, it's cheap and the spaghetti sauce isn't the star of this dish)
  • Alfredo sauce (see recipe below, or you can use a large jar of store bought sauce
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, cooked, deveined and tails removed, chopped into bits
  • Mozzarella cheese - enough to cover a 9x13-in. casserole

Preheat oven to 350°.  Cook alfredo sauce, if you're making the homemade (and much, much tastier) sauce.  Once sauce is cooked, add the shrimp to it and stir in.  Line 9x13-in. baking pan with spaghetti sauce, just dump it in and spread it out. Add cooked pasta, then pour the alfredo sauce (w/ shrimp mixed in) over the pasta. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.  Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until it is bubbly.

Amazing Alfredo Sauce:
1 pint heavy cream
1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp. cream cheese
3/4 c. parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. garlic powder
In a saucepan, combine cream, butter and cream cheese.  Simmer until all is melted and mixed well.  Add parmesan cheese and garlic powder.  Stirring constantly, with a whisk, simmer for 15-20 minutes until thick.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Black Bean and Corn Dip

Black Bean and Corn Dip
2 (15 oz) cans black beans rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups frozen sweet corn, thawed
1 avocado, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
6 green onions, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Put the lime juice, oil, garlic, salt and cayenne in a small jar. Cover with lid an shake until well combined.

In a medium bowl, combine the beans, corn, avacado, bell pepper, tomatoes, green onions, hot pepper and cilantro. Pour the lime dressing over the salad. Stir well to coat.
Eat with tortilla chips.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Well, Martha Stewart didn’t pull through for me with this recipe, but I procured the “Most Likely To Put Mrs. Field’s Out Of Business” award for these babies…

Gorgeous, aren’t they?

They’re delicious too.

I found them on Allrecipes.com, here.

(Though I might argue a better name would be the name of my award?)

3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup white sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup vanilla baking chips
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup dried cranberries

1. In a medium bowl set aside flour, baking soda and salt.

2. Cream together white sugar, light brown sugar and butter.  Add slightly beaten eggs and vanilla.

3. Add flour mixture until just mixed.  Stir in vanilla chips, macadamia nuts and dried cranberries. (the dough is thick)

4. Preheat oven to 350°.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet by small spoonfuls (I used a heaping tablespoon).  Bake for 10 minutes or just until set.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Cookies will sink slightly.

5. Variations: To make chocolate cookies omit ½ cup flour and replace with ½ cup cocoa.  To make refrigerator cookies roll dough into 2 rolls, wrap with plastic wrap and chill or freeze.  (If you freeze the dough, then thaw for at least ½ hour).  Slice 1 inch slices, cut into 4 and place on baking sheet point up.  For fancier cookies drizzle melted white chocolate on chocolate cookies and melted dark chocolate on the white cookies.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Martha Stewart-esque

I co-hosted a goodbye party recently.  Basically I provided a roof for the party and my co-host directed and produced an awesome farewell bid to a couple of friends.

I cleaned the house.  She planned the menu.  I offered to help, she asked me to make this.  That's from Martha Stewart people, I am so not a Martha Stewart-esque person.  My friend totally is, she's just shorter than Martha, but with better hair.

The basil infused strawberry shortcake worked better than I thought it would.  So did the rosemary infused pound cake with rosemary infused honey.  So did the Meyer lemon tart, even though it wasn't infused with anything but lemon, and you were supposed to actually eat the lemons.  I think every joke from that night had something to do with infusing something. And I can say that I developed a little more respect for Martha Stewart that night, and for infusing things.

Fast forward a couple of months...

We have a cookie bake-off on Saturday for church.  You know I can't say no to a contest, that involves baking, and sweets...I actually googled "World's Best Cookie" just to see what would come up.  It's a pretty interesting list, most of which was bypassed for more exciting things like this: a list of delectable, delicious Martha Stewart cookies.  Yep, I'm laying my fate as cookie champion in the hands of Ms. Stewart, and based on the recipe we tried tonight, I think I may have found a new favorite cookie recipe, and it's not technically infused with anything but love.   But, for my lovely friend Christina, I'm changing the name from Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies to......

Courtesy of Martha Stewart, but adapted by me
Martha's original recipe found here

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana
1 cup rolled oats
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 375°.  Whisk together flours, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl; set aside.  Put butter and sugars into a bowl and mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low.  Add egg and vanilla; mix until combined.  Mix in banana.  Add flour mixture; mix until just combined.  Stir in oats and chocolate chips.

2)  Using a spoon, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 2 inches apart.  Bake cookies until golden brown and just set, 10-12 minutes.  Let cool on sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes.  Transfer cookies to wire racks, let cool completely.  Cookies can be stored in airtight containers for up to 2 days.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summertime Salad

I love me a good, complicated recipe every once in awhile, but for some reason come Summertime, I'm all about simplicity and lightness.  Hello, salads!  I love combining different ingredients to try new tastes together. Plus, most of our Summer recipes involve pasta, because I've got to provide for my kids energy and endurance somehow.

It seems that whenever I've failed to plan ahead, and dinnertime creeps up on me before I'm ready, and I'm smack dab in the middle of a huge project that I just can't step away from for more than ten minutes, and I've asked the kids what sounds good to them...inevitably they announce unanimously, "Pasta salad!"

Usually our fall back salad is this one, but I experimented a little this time and came up with this winner.  The kids loved it and I couldn't wait to have it for lunch the next day.  We ate it warm for dinner, but it was just as good cold for lunch.  See, versatile!


16 oz. penne pasta
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 lb. small shrimp
1/2 green pepper, chopped
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2-3 oz. freshly grated parmesan cheese
Italian dressing
salt and pepper

- Cook pasta al dente
-While pasta is cooking, steam shrimp
-Chop veggies and place in bowl with parmesan cheese
-Add hot shrimp and rinsed pasta
-Season with salt, pepper, and Italian dressing to your taste. Serve warm, or cold, it's good either way.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sausage and Cabbage Soup

I made this recipe up as I went along so there are not exact measurements, but who follows those anyways? So here are my guidelines for a simple and hearty soup.Sausage and Cabbage Soup

1/2 head cabbage
3/4 link of smoked sausage
1/2 onion
1 leek
Beef broth
Seasoning (garlic, pepper, thyme, maybe a bay leaf)
Brown sausage, remove and cook onions and leek down. When almost tender add shredded cabbage. Cook until a little transparent and add broth.
Add all remaining ingredients (can add to crockpot at this point as well). Cook until potatoes and carrots are tender.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Lemon and Spring

Citrus and Spring go hand in hand, at least to me.  Spring is refreshing after the brown/gray of Winter, and Citrus is refreshing after the heaviness of potatoes and meat, right?

So, even though it's felt like Summer for over a month here in Texas and we haven't had an ounce of moisture since last Fall, we're pretending it's a nice Spring day and we're celebrating with a nice Spring meal.

The sauce in the original recipe was written as a marinade, but since I didn't get on the ball and marinate the meat, (and I usually don't get on the ball to marinate the meat...) I always just use it as a sauce to cook the chicken in, and I double it and thicken it from the original recipe.  So that's what you're getting today, an adaptation of what probably was a good marinade recipe, but now it's an amazing saucy chicken recipe that my kids (and husband) can't get enough of.


6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 chicken boullion cube
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. salt
Cornstarch and cold water, mixed together for thickening - as much as needed to thicken to your preference
Lemon slices for garnish

1. Slice chicken into thin strips, and brown with olive oil in skillet.

2. Mix together all other ingredients excluding cornstarch mixture and add to browned chicken in skillet.  Simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is boiling, add cornstarch mixture until sauce thickens to your preferred thickness.

3. Serve over rice, as usual we used Jasmine rice for it's hearty flavor.  Garnish with lemon slices for fun, or for your family entertainment to see who can suck on the lemon slices longest without flinching...maybe that's just us.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spring Rolls for Springtime

Thai Fried Rice adapted from Thai Table
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tomato, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons soy sauce - mushroom
pinch ground pepper
1 teaspoons fish sauce
1 cup cooked rice (cook earlier and put in fridge to dry and cool)
3 Thai chili pepper (Optional)
1/3 cup pork or chicken
1/2 onion, chopped
1 lime
1 green onion Optional
2 cloves garlic, minced Optional
2 eggs
Other veggies, such as pea pods, bean sprouts (optional)

When the pan is extremely hot (smoking hot), pour in the oil and follow with meat. Stir quickly. It can get real smoky. If you see that there is juice coming out from your meat and pooling on the bottom and not evaporating, your pan is not hot enough. When the meat is cooked, set it aside or just put it on the side of the pan if you can. Add the egg and scramble the egg until the egg is all cooked. Put the egg aside or just push it aside and make some room on the bottom of the wok. Add the fish sauce and soy sauce and stir. Keep stirring and mixing the rice with ingredients. Add all vegetables. Stir for 1 or 2 more minutes. Sprinkle ground pepper.

Some people like to add a fried egg on top of the fried rice. If you do, add 2 teaspoons of oil, crack the egg and fry until the egg white is crispy. Put the egg on top of fried rice.

Serve hot with a 1/4 wedge of lime and whole green onion.

(I got this recipe online somewhere, long ago)

Spring Rolls
•3 cloves garlic, minced
•1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, grated
•2 green onions, sliced into matchstick pieces
•1 red chili, minced, OR 1/2 to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper (omit if you prefer very mild spring rolls)
•1/2 cup shredded or finely chopped cabbage
•4-6 shiitake mushrooms, cut into matchstick pieces
•1/2 cup medium to firm tofu, sliced into matchstick pieces (If non-vegetarian: add 1/2 cup cooked baby shrimp)
•approx. 2 cups bean sprouts
•1/2 cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped
•1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
•2 Tbsp. oil, plus more for deep-frying
•1 pkg. spring roll wrappers (thawed if frozen)

•2 Tbsp. regular soy sauce
•2 Tbsp. fish sauce OR vegetarian stir-fry sauce (I like Lee Kum Kee brand)
•2 Tbsp. lime juice
•1/4 tsp. sugar

•Thai sweet chili sauce (available in most supermarkets, Asian section)

1.Place 2 Tbsp. oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium to high heat. Add garlic, galangal (or ginger), shallots, and chilli. Stir-fry until fragrant (about 1 minute). Stir-frying Tip: Add a little water to the wok/pan when it gets too dry instead of more oil.
2.Add cabbage, mushrooms, and tofu (or shrimp). As you stir-fry, add the sauce. Stir-fry 1-2 minutes, until vegetables have softened.
3.Remove from heat and add bean sprouts, tossing to mix in.
4.Do a taste test for salt, adding 1 Tbsp. more fish or soy sauce if not salty enough.
5.To assemble rolls, place a spring roll wrapper on a clean working surface. Place one heaping Tbsp. of the filling on the wrapper (if using large wrappers, you will need more). Tips: Spread the filling lengthwise along the spring roll wrapper nearer the end closest to you. Also, try not to include too much of the liquid left in the bottom of your wok/pan (a slotted spoon works well for this - drier filling is better.
6.Now sprinkle some of the fresh coriander and basil over the filling.
7.Fold the left and right sides of wrapper over filling, then lift up the wide end nearest you and tuck overtop. Roll to the other end. Secure the roll by dipping your fingers in some water and wetting the end, "pasting" it shut.
8.To fry spring rolls, place some oil (about 1 inch deep) in a wok or deep-sided frying pan over medium-high heat. When bubbles rise, or when the oil begins to form snake-like lines across the bottom of the pan, the oil may be hot enough. To test it, dip one corner of a spring roll into the oil. If it beginsto sizzle and cook, the oil is ready. If not, wait another 30 seconds to one minute and try again.
9.Using tongs, place spring rolls in oil, allowing them to fry about 1 minute on each side. Spring rolls are done when they turn light to medium golden-brown (see photo). Place on paper towels (or a clean dish towel) to drain while you finish frying the rest.
10.Serve spring rolls while still hot with Thai Sweet Chili Sauce, or your own dipping sauce (see recipe bellow). ENJOY!

TO MAKE YOUR OWN DIPPING SAUCE: Mix 1/3 cup plum sauce with 3 Tbsp. soy sauce. Add fresh cut red chili or dried crushed chili as desired.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Drive-Ins, Diners and Dives

I love food networks and cooking shows.  As inspiring as they are, I love most watching whip together food quickly, efficiently and plating it beautifully.  That doesn't happen at our house.  I may whip it together quickly, sometimes efficiently, but the plating is lost in the six of us wolfing it down without stopping to admire the beauty of the dish.  Hence the lack of pictures lately.  Sorry, we're hungry.

Last time Shane and I sat down to watch Triple D (yes, the title post, it's too long to type again) Guy Fieri watched a chef make Pastitsio.  Shane fell in love, but of course the restaurant didn't expose all of it's little secrets or the recipe in total, so we googled it...

This is the closest we could find, from Ina Garten...the restaurant we watched make it used only beef, no lamb.  If I make this I will be using only beef too.


2009, Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved
Picture of Pastitsio Recipe

For the Tomato Meat Sauce:

For the Bechamel:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan or Kasseri cheese
  • 2 extra-large eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup Greek-style yogurt, such as Fage Total
  • 3/4 pound small shells


For the sauce, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the beef and lamb, and saute over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until it's no longer pink, crumbling it with the back of wooden spoon. Drain off any excess liquid, add the wine, and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the garlic, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, and cayenne, and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 45 minutes. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the bechamel, heat the milk and cream together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until simmering. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 2 minutes. Pour the warm milk and cream mixture into the butter and flour mixture, whisking constantly. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth and thick. Add the nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of the tomato and meat sauce, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the eggs and yogurt and set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Don't over-cook because the pasta will later be baked. Drain and set aside.
Add the pasta to the meat and tomato sauce, and pour the mixture into a baking dish. Spread the bechamel evenly to cover the pasta and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown and bubbly. Set aside for 10 minutes and serve hot.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

April Fool's Fail

Last year I went all out for our April Fool's Day dinner.  If you'll remember it involved cupcakes and meatloaf; it was awesome.

This year, between packing Shane and Lincoln up for an overnight camping trip, and babysitting three extra young children, I didn't get it done.  I managed to come up with a lame and complete ineffective food prank...

sugarless Koolaid.

Apparently my husband just thought I was frazzled enough after an afternoon of 7 kids, 6 of which were 6 and under, and I had just forgotten to add the sugar.  Lincoln thought it tasted watered down, but he drank it anyway.  I didn't even try it on the other kids, my prankster high had been blown and it was pointless to go on with it.

I'm getting back in the game next year.  And, I'm refusing to babysit on April Fool's, just in case.

Did any of you do anything fun, exciting and effective for April Fool's?  I mean, I need all the advice/help/ideas that I can get!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patty's Day

We're having our traditional St. Patty's day meal tonight, you know, green eggs and ham.  I love holiday traditions!  I love hitting the grocery store for thick cut smoked ham, eggs, and anything else green that will go with the meal, like asparagus, salad, broccoli, limeade, jello and for dessert we're having no-bake, limey cheesecake.

What are your holiday food traditions?  We're always looking for more!

Creamy, No-Bake Cheesecake

1 graham cracker crust (I make my own with crushed cinnamon grahams)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 8 oz. package cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup lime juice

Cream the cream cheese until fluffy, add milk and mix until smooth.  Add vanilla and lime juice, mix until all incorporated.  Pour into pie shell and refrigerate until set up.

**For St. Patty's day I add a few drops of green food coloring to the filling**

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Night We Ate My Son

Or, at least that's what he thought when we started talking about eating kale in this soup.

When the kids saw the green stuff in the soup it came out that the unknown vegetable was Kale, not Cael, my last born child.  He was sufficiently concerned and didn't touch the green stuff.

However, the rest of us did, and loved it.  This is one of my husband's favorite soups, and because it's one of those recipes that I don't usually have all the ingredients for, we go long periods of time without eating it.  You'll recognize the name if you've ever eaten at The Olive Garden, and if you've ordered their Zuppa Toscana, and liked it, then you now have a copycat recipe.  Though this recipe is not listed on their site, they have a large selection of their recipes online at http://www.olivegarden.com/recipes/.

Zuppa Toscana

1 pound hot or mild Italian sausage
1 bag real bacon bits
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 cups water
5 cubes chicken bouillon
3 potatoes, chopped to 1/4"-ish
1 pint whipping cream (though I usually substitute half and half)
1 cup kale

Brown sausage in a large skillet.  Add bacon bits, onion and garlic and saute together.  Transfer meat mixture to a large pot, add water, bouillon, and potatoes.  Boil until the potatoes are cooked.  Add whipping cream and let simmer until thoroughly heated.  Add kale and let sit until the kale is soft, about 5 minutes.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Leftovers 101

Once a week we do leftovers night.  It's that night where everything that you've got in your fridge gets cleaned out and dumped.  Otherwise known as clean-out-your-fridge night.  I tell my kids the goal is to clean out as many of the containers as possible, it's like a game to them.

This was our leftover offerings last week.

#1 - Steamed butternut squash served with a little bit of butter, salt and pepper.

#2 - Beef roast, cooked in the crockpot for 4 hours with a packet of dry onion soup mix on the top.

#3 - Brown rice pilaf (recipe below), this was found while cooking a diabetic meal for a friend.

#4 - Mandarin-cranberry pork chops (recipe below), I made this one up to see how it worked.  It turned out to be easy and delicious!

#5 - Potatoes and onions, my kids favorite "fries".  Cut up some potatoes and onions, cook with a little bit of olive oil and salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.  Like fries, my kids eat this with ketchup.

#6 - Fresh cut mango.  I have never been good at cutting mangoes, I pretty well massacre them.  Then I asked my babysitter to teach me, because she's the master.  It's really easy, if you follow the directions.  Here is a tutorial, if you're interested.  It's not the way I learned, but it's a workable way as well.

#7 - Fajitas - Sauteed chicken breast, onions, green bell pepper and jalapeños...my kids loved it and it included everything they hate, ie: peppers and onions.  Sometimes it's just how you cook it!

Brown Rice Pilaf

2 cups water
1 cup brown rice
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup frozen vegetables
1/2 tsp. cumin

If you have a rice cooker, throw it all together, and cook.  If you don't have a rice cooker, in a saucepan mix the water, rice, olive oil and salt and bring to a boil.  Mix in the vegetables and cumin.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 45-60 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed.

Mandarin-Cranberry Pork Chops

4 pork chops, or as many as you need to feed your family
1 can, whole berry cranberry sauce
1 large can, mandarin oranges, juice drained
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. curry powder

Preheat oven to 350°.  Brown pork chops in pan, season with a little salt and pepper, then place in baking dish.  In a separate bowl, combine all other ingredients and pour over chops in bowl.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour or until your pork chops are cooked through.  Serve over rice.

**This would also work really well in a slow cooker, just adjust cooking times as needed.**