Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Stahle Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe comes from Paul's family and it is awesome! It's the cookie recipe we make most often.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 to 2 cups flour (eyeball this)
3 cups oats
As many chocolate chips as you want

Mix beat the butter and sugar until well blended. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix.

Mix the baking powder, baking soad, salt, and flour in a separate bowl. Add to the butter, sugar, and egg mixture. Mix in oats. Add in chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes (eyeball this too).


When I make these, I like the batter to be a bit stiff so the cookies are a little thicker. If you like a flatter cookie, stay on the lower end of the flour spectrum.

Monday, October 27, 2008


It was cold today and even though I'm not a huge fan of chili, it seemed appropriate. We had meat loaf for dinner on Sunday so I decided to utilize the leftovers.

In a large pot I sweat some onion in olive oil, salt & garlic powder. I added the cold meat loaf cut into 1/2 x 1/2 inch chunks. Two cans of diced tomatoes, 1 can of tomato sauce, 1 can of drained kidney beans, 1 can drained navy beans about 1 tsp cumin and chili powder (we like chili pretty mild so feel free to spice it up for your family), 3/4 tsp smoked paprika, 1-2 cubes beef bouillon and about 1/2 cup water. I simmered for about an hour, made a pan of cornbread and had a warm and delicious dinner!

Taco Ring

Another recipe stolen from my sister- my kids are eating this as we speak, so I thought to post it

2 cans of crescent rolls- layout with the base of the triangles touching as shown in the photos

For the filling, make taco meat with whatever recipe you like. I used:
ground beef
diced tomatoes
package of taco seasoning
can of corn

You can also layer refried beans and add cheese (to be honest, I usually leave out the cheese and it tastes just fine)

Bake 350 for about 20 minutes

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Easy Breezy!

The other night I looked in my pantry wondering that famous question "What's for dinner?"  I had some frozen chicken, some cubed butternut squash, some red onions, and some red potatoes. I cut up all the vegetables so they were the same size and then tossed them with olive oil, dried rosemary, and a couple of chopped garlic cloves.  I defrosted the chicken, put some salt and pepper on it then placed it in a 9x13 pan and covered it with the vegetables.   I baked it at 350 for about 35 minutes and it was so delicious and so easy!!!!

You could use any root vegetable for the roasting...carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, etc.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mock BBQ Chicken Breasts

I used this recipe a couple years ago while I was cookig for a client who was on a diet called The Fat Flush. I truly love this diet and really enjoy the food, as well! This recipe is for Chicken breasts, wonderfully spiced, minus the ketchup, brown sugar, corn syrup, etc found in most BBQ sauces. So once again, a healthy alternative with all the flavor!

Chicken breasts, skinless (and possibly boneless)

Chicken broth

Cayenne, cumin, garlic and onion powder (I mix these in a small bowl rather than applying each one individually, but play with the mixture to suit your tastes, we don't do spicy so I have to go psaringly with the cayenne and light on the cumin). I would also add in some smoked paprika for a sweet smokey flavor (this spice wasn't available when I first started making this dish).

Sprinkle the cayenne, cumin, garlic and onion powder on both sides of the chicken. Place chicken in non stick pan, add broth to the pan until the breasts are half covered. Cover with a tight-fitting lid on medium to medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Turn chicken pieces, cook until done.

Sometimes I have to add more broth to keep from burning the chicken if the pan gets dry. If you're not counting fat and calories, you could certainly use some olive oil.

Lamb and mashed root veggies

This is not a regular dinner for us as lamb is pretty expensive, but it is my husband's favorite and this is such a yummy and simple way to prepare lamb!

1 (3-4 pound) boneless leg of lamb
3 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
3 teaspoons dried dill weed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

Puncture the leg of lamb with the tip of a knife just far enough to insert slivers of garlic into the holes. Mix together the dill, salt and rosemary, and rub over the leg of lamb. Place the lamb, fatty side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.
Roast uncovered for 2 to 2 1/2 hours in the preheated oven, to an internal temperature of 155 degrees F (68 degrees C) for medium. Tent with aluminum foil and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes before carving. The lamb will continue to cook a little bit, and the juices will set up better for carving.

My favorite addition to this lamb is mashed root veggies, as opposed to mashed potatoes. These root veggies are so healthy and do not scream for cream and butter like starchy mashed potatoes.

2 medium celery root (celeriac), peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
4-6 large cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 of medium onion, chopped
1 cup beef broth
1 T. parsley

1) Bring broth to boil in sauce pan. Add in everything but the parsley and cover. Simmer for 25 minutes or until veggies are soft.

2) Pour off any broth and hold onto it. Mash the veggies until they are consistency of mashed potatoes. Add back a little broth if veggies are too thick to mash well.

3) Garnish with parsley. Enjoy

Over-used Recipes Swap

Monday, October 20, 2008

Peanut Butter Pie

My dear friend, Julie Trent, made this pie for a church dinner and my husband fell in love with it. We had some family visiting this evening so I decided to make this pie as a special treat...boy did it get rave reviews! Grandma Ros even requested it for our family's Thanksgiving Eve Pie Night. Thanks Julie, we sure love this pie and you can't beat a good dessert made from ingredients that are always in the pantry!

Julie uses a standard flour and shortening pie crust, but I really prefer a different one; more like a sugar cookie crust.

Pie Crust

1 egg
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces

1. Grease a 9 inch pie pan.
2. In a small bowl, mix egg and sugar together. In a separate bowl, combine salt and flour. Cut in butter. Stir in egg mixture, then knead dough into a smooth ball.
3. Keep refrigerated for 15 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
5. Pat dough evenly into pie pan, no need to roll.
6. Bake in oven for 20 minutes.

Pie Filling

3 eggs, separated
3/4 c sugar, divided
3 T cornstarch
1 T Flour
1/8 t salt
3 c milk
2 t butter
1 t vanilla
3/4 c powdered sugar
1/2 c peanut butter (I use crunchy)
1/4 t cream of tartar

Separate eggs. In saucepan combine 1/2 c sugar, cornstarch, flour, & salt. Add egg yolks & milk. Bring to boil over med. heat. Cook, stirring 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla.

Cut peanut butter into powdered sugar. Sprinkle 1/3 peanut butter crumbs over bottom of crust. Spoon 1/2 filling over crumbs. Sprinkle 1/3 crumbs, top w/ remaining filling.

Combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat until foamy. Beat in remaining sugar until peaks form. Spread meringue over pie. Sprinkle on remaining peanut butter crumbs. Bake 8-10 minutes @ 375 until meringue is light golden. Cool completely.

The Cool completely. step is actually the hardest part of the whole process.

I was able to get a picture, but not before half the pie was already missing. And even though I warned everyone that it should cool more, the compliments kept flooding in about how good it was, even a bit warm. The peanut butter flavor really comes through once it's cool, though.

Shepherd's Pie

Paul loves shepherd's pie. The first time we made it together was when we were engaged. We followed Paul's family's standard recipe that consisted of green beans in tomato soup, topped with ground beef and mashed potatoes. Not bad. But when St. Patrick's Day came around the following year, I decided to make sheperd's pie but searched for a more authentic recipe in honor of the holiday. I'm not sure how truly authentic this recipe is, but it has now become our standard. We love it and hope you will too!

Sheperd's Pie


2 lbs ground beef
1 tablespoon oil
2 onions(finely chopped)
6 large carrots (sliced in rounds)
2 tomatoes(chopped)
1 cup beef stock or bouillon
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper(to taste)
5 large potatoes potatoes (boiled and mashed)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Brown the beef in oil. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. Drain most of the accumulated fat from the pan.
4. Sauté onions and carrots in reserved beef drippings until tender, and then add chopped tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes.
5. Add broth and stir in herbs and seasonings.
6. Add beef to the broth and vegetable mixture and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
7.Transfer all ingredients to a 9x13 inch ovenproof casserole.
8. Top with mashed potatoes and sprinkle cheese on top.
9. Bake uncovered in 375-degree oven for 30-40 minutes, or until cheese is melted. We like to turn on the broiler for the last few minutes to get a nice, bubbly cheese crust on top.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cake Balls!

I totally stole this photo off of http://therecipegirl.blogspot.com/2008/10/pumpkin-cake-pops.html but this is a variation on my famous cakeballs

Here's how you make them:
Bake a cake (any kind)
Get a can of frosting (any kind)
start melting your almond bark (or chocolate chips work fine)

Crumple the cake into a bowl, add 2/3 can of frosting and squish all together. Roll into little balls of cake. Put on a cookie sheet and freeze for a while. Dip them in the melted chocolate, sprinkle with tiny chips or sprinkles.

I've used chocolate cake/chocolate frosting/melted chocolate chips and also yellow cake/white frosting/melted white almond bark. It's all good! They are ESPECIALLY good if you make them from your sister-in-law's leftover raspberry wedding cake! Delish!

Butter Chicken

1oz butter
1 onion chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 large boneless chicken breasts
1t ginger
1t chili powder
1t tumeric
1t cinnamon
1t salt
¾ c cream (I use whole milk just fine)
1T tomato paste
½ t garam masala (I usually forget this and it is fine)

Saute onion and garlic in butter. Cut chicken into bite size pieces. Combine spices and salt and toss chicken until well coated. Saute chicken until golden brown. Stir in cream and tomato paste. Cover pan and simmer 10 min or until cooked through. Sprinkle with garam masala. (I serve with rice)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Roasted Asparagus

This is sort of the same story as my Brussels Sprouts...I never thought I'd get my husband to eat this, but now he loves it! This veggie is simple, very quick and presents well!

You can use fresh or frozen asparagus. If using fresh asparagus, select spears that have purple tips and thin stalks; the thicker the stalk the woodier the texture. Cut or snap off the woody ends. If using frozen, I would suggest petite, whole spears and there is no need to thaw the small spears, they'll cook super quick in the oven.

Spread asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use your hands, massaging the oil onto the asparagus to ensure even coating all around. Place in a 400 degree oven. Time with vary depending on size of stalk. Watch closely as thin and petite spears can take as few at 5 minutes while thicker stalks could take 10-15 minutes. You're looking for a tender stalks but not limp so don't overcook!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Kids and adults alike love these sweet potato fries! My mom buys sweet potatoes every time I visit so I can make these for her.

Peel your sweet potatoes and cut into wedge-type fries. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet, sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper then drizzle with olive oil. I use my hands and massage all the potatoes with the oil to ensure they're coated on all sides. Position potatoes in a single layer again and cook in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Turn all the potatoes, return back to the oven and finish roasting until potatoes are tender.

This roasting process really brings out the natural sweetness of the potato and couple with the oil you get a crispy outer with a soft inner and they're just wonderful!


You an purchase these so there is no prep work, whatsoever. However, not all edamame are the same so pay close attention when purchasing. Edamame is green soy bean (literally in Japanese). You can purchase in the pod or shelled, (we prefer in the pod) fresh or frozen (we prefer frozen).

The reason I prefer frozen is most of what's available frozen has already been cooked (not all so read the package!!!). So preparing frozen, in the pod edamame is as simple as thawing (a microwave or rinsing in warm water can make quick work of this process), sprinkle with kosher salt and serve. My kids would prefer eating these to potato chips. You cannot eat the pod so use your teeth to rake the beans out of the pod and you get a tiny hint of salt from the outside of the pod.

If your edamame are not pre-cooked (whether fresh or frozen), simply toss them in a pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes, drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Salt and eat.

Buttercup Squash

OK, this has NOTHING to do with prep and everything to do with buttercup squash just being delicious! I do find it hard to locate in most grocery stores, but if you ask your produce guy or gal, I'm betting they can order it for you. Buttercup looks like an acorn squash but has a mottled looking skin rather than just the solid green-black skin.

Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds and gunk. Turn upside on microwave safe plate and nuke until soft. Scoop from skin, pile into a bowl, add a bit of butter and tiny bit of salt to serve! You can also try it with a dash of ginger or cinnamon and brown sugar, but my family just prefers it plain. And since this is a winter squash it will store for a longer period of time than summer squashes. So when you find it in the store, don't hesitate to buy a couple and store in a cool, dark place.

Sauteed Spinach

This works for any greens. However, the tougher the green, such as a collard, the longer you would need to cook them. A soft green like spinach or beet greens cooks quickly. Spinach is especially nice because you can purchase baby spinach and never have to prep the greens, just open the bag and dump in the pan. If using a green with a tough spine, remove the spine and cut leaves into small strips.

In a saute pan over medium heat, bring olive oil to medium - medium high temperature, add minced garlic for 30 seconds then pile in the greens. If you have more greens than pan space, be patient and work them in as the greens begin to wilt. Add salt to taste, toss and cook just until wilting begins (just a minute or two). If you're cooking a heavier green, you may need to add a couple teaspoons of water and cover with a lid to cook until tender. Remove from pan and top with some fresh grated parmesan or I like vinegar on my greens.

This is a great way to try new greens to see which one you prefer. Greens have such varying flavors and I must say, I haven't found one I don't like.

Roasted Beets

My girls and I really adore these, not so popular with the males in our family, though. If you are selective about your beets, you can get two veggies out of one bunch of beets! I love beet greens so when I am sorting through bunches of beets i the grocery store, I look for big, green leaves as well as bulbs that are 3 inches or less in diameter (1.5-2 inches is my preference). At one of our local organic markets they separate the bulb from the greens and this is especially nice for sorting through and finding the smaller beets.

If greens aren't separated, snip with a pair of kitchen shears about one inch above the bulbs. Wash but don't feel a need to scrub the outside as you will peel it off once cooked. Place beets on a piece of tin foil, large enough to completely wrap around the beets and make a foil packet. If your beets are large (3 inches or more), cut into smaller pieces for faster cooking. Dice 1-2 shallots and strip 2-3 stems of thyme, add both to beets. Drizzle with olive oil. Salt is not necessary as beets are naturally high in sodium. Wrap in foil making a pouch. Place on pan and roast in 400 degree oven for 40 or so minutes (time will vary greatly based on size of beets). You can check for doneness by inserting a fork into the center of the bulb, when beet is soft all the way through, it's done.

Remove from foil and allow to cool a bit. You can use a knife to rake the outer skin off or you can rub them off by hand, but beware that the beets will stain clothes and skin. I use kitchen grade gloves and a knife to cut the top and bottom off and then run skin off from there.

My father-in-law likes his beets with vinegar on them, I prefer them plan or you can even put a small pat of butter on them. The greens can be prepared in the same manor as sauteed spinach.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

For those of you who know my meat-and-potatoes husband, I can't tell you how hard it was to get him to try Brussels Sprouts for the first time. Now they are his favorite and he requests them often.

I purchase frozen petite Brussels Sprouts and allow them to thaw (microwave makes quick work of this process). In a saute pan, add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, heat oil to medium add finely diced onion and dump in the Brussels Sprouts, saute until sprouts get a bit of brown on the outer leaves. Add 3/4 - 1 cup chicken stock, cover reduce heat and cook until sprouts are tender. Remove lid and reduce until all liquid is gone.

Spread sprouts and onions onto a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle lightly with salt (remember the chicken stock has lots of sodium in it) and roast in 400 degree oven until outer leaves become slightly brown and crispy.

This is more labor-intensive than most of my veggies, but the chicken stock step removes the bitterness of the sprouts and the roasting helps draw out the natural sweetness and moisture out so your sprouts aren't soggy.

Sauteed Broccoli & Cauliflower

My husband and children LOVE this one, too. This is a nice alternative when you tire of steamed veggies.

Cut broccoli and/or cauliflower into small florets (or you can purchase bags of cut-up florets). You can also use frozen broccoli, but you'll need to adjust the cooking time. Thaw broccoli in the microwave for a few minutes and remove any excess moisture from the bag before dumping into the pan.

In a large saute pan, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom and heat to about medium high, toss in some minced garlic for 30 seconds, then add broccoli and/or cauliflower. Season with salt (my husband also likes onion powder on this and if you do not have fresh garlic you can use garlic powder at this stage, too), cover and cook until soft, stirring often. If your veggies are beginning to stick and burn, add a couple teaspoons of water and keep covered until tender. Once broccoli is soft, remove cover and allow any moisture to cook out of the pan. You want the veggies to get some of that yummy brown caramelly coloring and flavor.

A soft, tender veggie with lots of flavor and no need to coat in butter or cheese sauce!

Honey Carrots

This one is so simple, but everyone always says how yummy these are. You can use baby carrots for ease, but I purchase 5lbs bags of regular carrots at Sam's Club to save money. Peel, cut into rounds (I usually shoot for about 1/2 inch thick) plunk into pot. Cover with water and add a big scoop of honey. We also buy bulk honey so sometimes by the time we get to the end of the bottle the honey has started crystallizing. I use this for my carrots since I can't squeeze it onto peanut butter and honey sandwiches, which is also a favorite for my kids.

These are so yummy and do not need butter or salt!

Favorite Veggies

What are your favorite veggies and how do you prepare them?

A friend of ours has been coming to our house for dinner each week and what seems like simple veggies to me, he finds quite tasty and always remarks on them. So I thought it might be an enlightening exercise to have everyone post your favorite veggies and how you prepare them for your family.

Here is my list for favorite family veggies:
Honey Carrots
Sauteed Broccoli & Cauliflower
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Roasted Beets
Sauteed Spinach
Garlicky Green Beans
Buttercup Squash
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Asparagus

Prep on all of these is very simple, which is one reason they're my favorite, as well. I'll post each veggie in a separate post and you can simply click on the veggie above for a direct link.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce

Image and recipe courtesy of www.smittenkitchen.com

One of my new favorite places to find recipes is a website called Smitten Kitchen. I've found dozens of recipes there that I want to try. One we've recently add to our repetoire is for poached eggs in tomato sauce. It could be a breakfast dish or served at dinner with a side of spinach sauteed in garlic (as suggested in the original post.) Enjoy!

Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce

-1 can (14 ounces) tomato puree (I used a can of diced tomatoes, and it worked great)
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1 clove garlic, minced
-Big pinch of sugar
-Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
-Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
-4 large eggs
-4 slices toasted country bread, for serving
-Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add tomato sauce and bring to a boil; season with sugar, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 to 20 minutes.

Gently crack eggs into tomato mixture, cover, and let cook 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat, uncover, and let stand 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer each egg to a piece of toast. Spoon over sauce, garnish with cheese, and season with salt and pepper; serve immediately.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Chicken Casserole

I rarely make casserole anymore (due to high blood pressure and the fact that most casseroles use prepackaged foods with more sodium than I can handle), but this was a favorite when I was growing up and I just needed to share it's simple goodness!

1 chicken cut-up (or whatever kind of chicken you like)
1 pkg pepperidge farm stuffing (small package, can't remember exact ounces)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1/2 stick of butter

Place chicken in large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook until chicken is done, remove from liquid and let cool. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in bottom of 13X9 pan. Pull chicken from bone, removing skin and place chicken pieces in the buttered pan. Combine 2 cans of soup with one can of water then pour over chicken. Mix stuffing with liquid left from cooking chicken. Make a really moist stuffing mixture as it will be baked for awhile and will dry out a bit. Spoon stuffing mixture on top of soup and bake for approximately 30 minutes.

The Beauty of Bread

I am linking this from my sister-in-law's blog. The Beauty of Bread If any of you follow my personal blog you would have recently heard me talking about how much I love this recipe...it's so easy and versatile. The idea is from one batch of yeast dough you can get cinnamon rolls, bread sticks and a leftover-casserole-wrapped-in-bread dinner. I've not made the casserole in bread, but I've made tons of cinnamon rolls, bread sticks (I use less butter and sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesan cheese) and yeast rolls. This recipe is so quick and easy...and I'm not a fan of bread baking.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Refried Beans

When Paul was on his mission in Italy, he served with a Sister from Mexico. She taught him an easy, tasty recipe for refried beans . It is, in my opinion, so much better than the canned refried beans that I grew up eating. It's also super simple.

You'll notice I use canned pinto beans. You can always start with dried beans and soak them if you want. I've done this before, but I found it didn't taste much different than starting with the whole, canned beans.

Refried Beans:

1 can pinto beans, undrained
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons of oil
1 chicken boullion cube (beef also works well.)

Fry the onion in the oil over medium heat. When onions become translucent, add the pinto beans the chicken boullion cube. Cook the beans until they start to become soft and easy to mash(5-10 mins), stirring occasionally. Once beans the beans are soft, take a wooden spoon, scrape some of the beans from the center of the pot and mash them on the side. (I hope this makes sense. You could probably just use a masher, but I don't have one.) Keep mashing the beans until they reach your desired consistency.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sour Cream Scones

Well, since there is officially a scone label on this blog, I have to add in my favorite scone recipe. I recently posted this to my family blog so I'll just copy and paste it in here. ENJOY!

This recipe is one I've used for years and absolutely adore! I don't care for traditional dry scones so this recipe is perfect as it makes the most moist, buttery and melt-in-your mouth scones. This is a lovely base so get creative and add your favorite berries, raisins, orange peel, chocolate chips, etc.

1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
1 egg

In a small bowl, blend the sour cream and baking soda, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt. Cut in the butter. Stir the sour cream mixture and egg into the flour mixture until just moistened.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead briefly. This is a moist dough so only use enough flour to keep from sticking to your work surface. Pat dough into a 3/4 inch thick round. Using a pizza cutter, cut into 12 wedges, and place them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. I also use cookie cutters, especially for Christmas morning breakfast fun, try not to overwork the dough when reshaping excess from cookie cutters.

Bake 18 - 22 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown on the bottom. Tops may not appear to be browning so watch the bottoms.

Connor has become a bit leery of trying new foods this past year so we've created a reward system for him trying new foods. For every 10 new foods he tries, he can have anything he wants for dinner. Now, Connor being the wonderful kid he is, has not figured out that anything could be ice cream, cake, candy, etc. He asks for Frosted Mini Wheats almost every time. Anyway, sorry for the tangent. Connor was not so sure about eating the scone...even though I told him how much he'd love them. He replied with, "I don't want to taste the scum!" Then Lillee chimed in, "I want a scum, I love scum!" This is her response to anything that someone else may be getting and she feels she might miss out on.

I gave the kids the option of hot scone with butter and fresh canned strawberry jam or cinnamon sugar.

After one bite, they were all in love with the scum and begging for seconds within no time. Cinnamon sugar was the favorite amongst the kids, Al included, but I preferred the strawberry jam.

Rosemary Scones

Scones are not usually something I really really enjoy. They are in my opinion very dry and hard, which is why i call them stones.
The following recipe is titled as a scone but is more in the realm of a biscuit.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

2 cups self rising flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp finely choped rosemary
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, grease Baking pan(I use non stick foil)
Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl, stir in rosemary
Cut in butter
Add Milk and mix to form a soft dough knead on a floured board
Roll to a thickness of about 3/4 of an inch
cut into rounds and bake for 8-10 min.

This is great as is, but rest assured that I will try other variations such as blueberry.
Feel free to experiment, but most of all enjoy yourself

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tonight's dinner

Well tonight was a rare occasion. Connor and Lillee had been gone all afternoon with Grandma and I spent this time baking a pear preserve cake and biscuits for my cultural cooking meeting. By the time I cleaned the kitchen and the kids got back home I was running out of time. Lillee said she wanted pancakes for dinner and, I NEVER do this, but I gave in to the exhaustion, being behind schedule and wanting to be out of the kitchen. Pancakes it was...for the kids.

I went to my cultural cooking group and had some really delicious food! Our theme this month was pears, apples and cheese...anything you can do with one or all three of these components. I chose pears. I had canned spicy pear preserves last month and one of my favorite foods growing up was hot biscuits and pear preserves. So I made some fresh biscuits and also put together a pear preserve cake (think spiced bundt cake with layers of pear preserves and pecans).

The other ladies had brought wonderful contributions that served to be a delicious and not too unhealthy dinner. I had 7 different kinds of cheese...my favorites were:

1. Parrano - think Parmesan but softer...a texture like butter that's between fridge cold and room temperature

2. St Andre - think intense brie, but buttery

3. Port Salut - this is a very mild cheese with a soft texture, but with substance. I'm not sure how to describe it, you could poke it with your finger and see an indentation, but it would return to it's original form, yet not rubbery. Loved the texture and the mild flavor, a good cheese to serve to a crowd without fear of it being too overwhelming.

We had several different varieties of apples and pears. A wonderfully balanced salad with spinach, avocado, apple, walnuts and some Paul Newman dressing...LOVELY! There were several truly divine baked goods including an apple cake and an apple, pear and cranberry crumble...YUM!

However, my favorite is something you can easily replicate without a recipe! Take some good feta...my friend Gloree suggested a Bulgarian Feta instead of a Greek Feta, but we actually had a nice Greek Feta (not Athenos brand). Crumble the feta on a plate, sprinkle with chopped walnuts and drizzle with honey. The layers in this simple piece are amazing. You get a silky, yet pungent bite from the feta with a sticky sweet honey flavor mixing with the crunch and the slightly bitter, yet not offensive, taste that is distinctly walnut.

So dinner was pretty shabby for my kids, but a HUGE splurge for them. And mine was spectacular and not at all conventional :) My poor husband got nothing. I bet he'll be nuking a can of spaghettiO's later tonight.

UPDATE: I had no sooner posted this when my husband ran to the kitchen proclaiming he was starved and had to eat....he's making Ramen, his other standby.

Pumpkin Muffins

This is a recipe our family makes all the time. It's a great breakfast or a snack. Better yet, it's healthy and my kids love it. I originally found it here, and have adapted it a little by using whole wheat flour, less sugar, and and chocolate chips instead of raisins. The recipe makes a large batch (36 muffins!) but you can easily scale it down. We usually make the full batch and throw them in the freezer. They do really well warmed up in the microwave for 20 seconds.


Pumpkin Muffins

4 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
6 eggs
1 (29 oz) can pumpkin
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/4 cups chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C). Grease three 12 cup muffin pans, or line with paper muffin liners.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ground cloves. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, pumpkin, and applesauce, until smooth.

3. Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to make a smooth batter. Stir in the chocolate chips. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups.

4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ode to Papaw's Sauce

A few months ago during a visit with my parents, my father unleashed a sauce he'd recently made. My kids LOVED it! Papaw used the sauce to coat pork and then grilled it. The kids were begging for more of the sauce for dipping. I have never witnessed a 2.5 year old eat her weight in pork, but I swear it happened during this meal.

So here is the recipe for the sauce:

1 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until all the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by 1/3, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Now this is Papaw's version...I, of course, did things a little differently. I did not have Worcestershire sauce so I substituted red wine vinegar and soy sauce. I also used granulated garlic to avoid fresh garlic bits getting stuck in the nozzle of my BBQ bottle. And another tip, don't scrape the side of the pot as you're reducing your sauce. The crystallized sugar bits will clog your bottle, as well. I suggest straining through a fine sieve before bottling.

We use this on chicken and pork, for grilling and for dipping. My kids are always asking if we have any of Papaw's sauce...thanks Papaw, I love that the kids are thrilled about your cooking but it sure puts me in a bind when I don't have the ingredients to make this. I just bought a Sam's Club-sized bottle of balsamic just for this purpose :)

Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

All I have to say about this recipe is it is fast and delicious! I'm not a fan of most Rachel Ray dishes, but this one came from Rachel and I really like it. I took it to a church friendship dinner and it got rave reviews! Hint: Start your oven early because it can take a while to heat up to 500 degrees!

4 1/2 pounds pork tenderloins, 2 packages with 2 tenderloins in each package
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 cloves garlic, cracked
Steak seasoning blend or coarse salt and black pepper
4 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves stripped and finely chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped and finely chopped
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Trim silver skin or connective tissue off tenderloins with a very sharp thin knife. (I use my tomato knife for this as the blade is so thin and the serrated edge helps slice through the silver skin).

Place tender loins on a nonstick cookie sheet with a rim. Coat tenderloins in a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, rubbing vinegar into meat. Drizzle tenderloins with extra-virgin olive oil, just enough to coat. Cut small slits into meat and disperse chunks of cracked garlic cloves into meat. Combine steak seasoning blend or coarse salt and pepper with rosemary and thyme and rub meat with blend. Roast in hot oven 20 minutes.

Let meat rest, transfer to a carving board, slice and serve.

Oven fried chicken or pork

A few years ago I came across a Cooking Light Recipe for Oven Fried Chicken. I've not found the recipe again, but I remembered the basic ingredients and have altered it to make quick and tasty chicken for my family. I use to make whole wheat bread crumbs for this recipe, but have recently switched to the more convenient bread crumbs in a cardboard can :)

So here's the basic idea:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

3/4 cup Plain Bread Crumbs
1/4 cup flour
seasonings to taste - I use garlic powder, salt, and onion powder but have also added grated parmessan, black pepper, parsley, thyme and rosemary for additional flavor. My family prefers the garlic, onion and salt, though.

Mix the above ingredients and use to coat your meat. This works really well on boneless, skinless chicken thighs and breasts. If I'm using bone-in meat, it takes longer to cook and I remove all the skin to cut back on excess grease and fat. I also use this for pork chops, but find that they need less salt than the chicken.

Place your coated meat on a baking sheet that has been lightly oiled and use cooking spray to spray the top of each piece of meat. This keeps the breading from drying out and makes a nice crispy coating on the meat, like fried chicken without all the grease. Bake boneless pieces for 20 minutes, with bone-in pieces the time will vary from about 40 minutes to 1 hour.

I usually serve with garlicky green beans - frozen green beans that have been thawed are tossed in a hot skillet with some olive oil, salt and fresh garlic (or powdered garlic if fresh isn't available). Saute until green beans are tender and you have a bit of carmelly brown color to them.

I also serve rice with this. Add 2 tblsp of olive oil to a pot and saute one small onion chopped with a bit of salt. Once onion has browned I add 1.5 cups of rice, saute a couple of minutes then add 3.5 cups of water or chicken stock and water combination. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. This results in flavorful rice that does not scream for lots of butter :)

This has been a recent favorite in our house. Hope your family likes it!

Creamy Pork Chops

tonight we had the most wonderful pork dish;
2 butterflied chops about 3/4" thick seasoned well with fresh cracked pepper cooked in a skillet with 1 tbls butter and 1 tbls of evoo, cook until desired doneness (med.) remove chops from skillet and keep warm. Meantime in skillet deglaze with 3 tbls of chicken stock and 1/4 cup water. then wisk in 3 oz. of cream cheese w/ chives, when cream cheese has melted continue to heat until slightly thickened serve over chops.

I know the sound of cheese (cream or otherwise) and pork didn't exactly rock my world, but when I tasted it, that changed my mind quick.

I served it with green beans seasoned with butter and garlic powder and also rosemary scones (i'll have to add that recipe later).

Needless to say I am glad that my wife loved this as much as i did because it will show up on the menu again real soon

Monday, October 6, 2008


I would like to invite you to join me and hopefully others in a recipe sharing blog. I love to share recipes I've recently tried as well as recipes I've used for years or grew up on. However, I don't often share my basic recipes...the ones my family really loves, those recipes we have over and over for dinner on a regular basis; I tend to forget these recipes.

As my dad and I were talking about recipes on the phone today, I realized I needed to get a forum like this going. So here it is, a place we can share lots of different kinds of recipes. Whatever you're making for dinner, tell us about it! Tell us what sides your family loves, if you have a favorite pasta or bread recipe, what ooey-gooey dessert does your family asks for often? Share it with us! Please do not feel a need to limit yourself just to dinner, you may share your favorite breakfast, lunch or even snack recipes. Chances are, if your family likes it then someone in my family is going to like it, too.

My hope is to share administrative rights with trusted friends and family to get this blog rolling so please let me know if you would like to post a recipe and I'll gladly add you to the list so you can post, as well. I look forward to hearing what you are having for dinner tonight!