Monday, December 29, 2008

Thanksgiving... Yes, I am that far behind!

For Thanksgiving, Brad had to work. I made a pumpkin roll for him and the other poor schmucks who had to be there while the rest of us were enjoying food and family.

Pumpkin Roll
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch jelly roll pan or cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir in pumpkin puree, eggs, and lemon juice. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Spread the mixture evenly. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes.

Lay a damp linen towel on the counter, sprinkle it with confectioner's sugar, and turn the cake onto the towel. Carefully roll the towel up (lengthwise) with the cake in it. Place the cake-in-towel on a cooling rack and let it cool for 20 minutes.

Make the icing: In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese, butter, vanilla, with a wooden spoon or electric mixer.

When the cake has cooled 20 minutes, unroll it and spread icing onto it. Immediately re-roll (not in the towel this time), and wrap it with plastic wrap. Keep the cake refrigerated. Cut the cake in slices just before serving.

This was really good. I didn't have a linen towel, because frankly, who does? I used one of the kitchen towels with no fuzz. It worked pretty well. I ate the leftovers, and enjoyed every minute of it.

My contribution to the family Thanksgiving was crab bites, salad, mashed potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, salad, chocolate cheesecake and pecan pie.

Crab Bites
2 (12 ounce) packages refrigerated biscuit dough
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (6 ounce) can crab meat, drained
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease 18 mini muffin pans.

Divide rolls in half and press into the prepared pans. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, crab, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, Cheddar cheese, green onions and Worcestershire sauce. Spoon 1 teaspoon of mixture into tarts.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until light brown.

Sweet Potato Casserole (Old family recipe -- from grandma Bach)
5 large sweet potatoes, cubed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon HOT water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Put sweet potatoes in a large saucepan with water to cover. Cook over medium high heat until tender; drain and mash.

n a large bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, salt, butter, milk and vanilla. Add a scoopful of potatoes to the mixture. Stir well. Add this entire mixtures into the mashed sweet potatoes. Mix until smooth. Transfer to a 9x13 inch baking dish.

In medium bowl, mix the cinnamon, sugar and flour. Cut in the butter until the mixture is coarse. Stir in the pecans. Add hot water. Drop mixture evenly over the top of the sweet potatoes.

Bake in the preheated oven 30 minutes, or until the topping is lightly brown.

I have learned after years and years and years of preparing this that it is best to put it in a dish that is at least 1/2 an inch deeper than you need it to be. Otherwise, in the baking process it spills over, and there is almost nothing worse burnt to the racks of your oven than the sugary goodness of sweet potato casserole.

Mashed Potatoes (old family recipe -- from Grandma Mary)
1 5 pound bag of potatoes, peeled, cut into cubes
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
1 (8 oz.) container sour cream

Place peeled, chopped potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover potatoes with water, and boil until fully cooked. Drain water immediately. Place butter in saucepan and allow to melt. Mash potatoes and butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and sour cream. Continue to mash, if needed. Otherwise, stir until fully melted and incorporated. Add milk to make potatoes desired consistency. (I never add more than 1/4 of a cup.) Add salt and pepper to taste.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes (recipe mostly by Pioneer Woman)
6 heads garlic
olive oil
salt pepper

1 5 pound bag of potatoes, peeled and chopped into cubes
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 - 1 cup (milk, half and half or cream)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Generously oil the bottom of a baking dish. Cut the tops off of the heads of garlic to expose the garlic. Generously pour olive oil over the tops of the garlic heads. Sprinkle with kosher salt and a fresh ground pepper. Cover with foil, and bake for 40-45 minutes. Allow garlic to cool for a few minutes. Then, squeeze garlic "meat" out of heads.

While garlic is roasting, place peeled and chopped potatoes into a large saucepan. Cover potatoes with water and boil until thoroughly cooked. Drain potatoes. Add butter and sour cream, and mash until smooth. Stir in milk to achieve desired consistency. Add roasted garlic, and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

These are really good, but the longer they sit, the more potent the garlic flavor becomes. Warning: If making these the day before (as I do for Thanksgiving) use LESS garlic than you would if you are serving them the same day.

Chocolate Cheesecake
1 8 or 9 inch pre-made graham cracker crust
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, melted

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place cream cheese and sugar in a medium sized mixing bowl. Beat with a mixer until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until just incorporated. Stir in vanilla and melted chocolate chips. Pour into crust, and bake for 30 -40 minutes, or until center is firmly set. Cool. Refrigerate 8 hours before serving.

Pecan Pie
1 unbaked pie crust
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy, and stir in melted butter. Stir in the brown sugar, white sugar and the flour; mix well. Lastly, add the milk, vanilla and nuts.

Pour into an unbaked 9-in pie shell. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until done.

I really enjoy THIS particular recipe, because it tastes more like a pecan pie than a corn syrup pie with pecans on top. It is really yummy, and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

From the Beginning...

I have been a major slacker with the recipes, lately, though I have been updating the "Keep me Accountable" page so I would at least remember what I made in order to post the recipes. I will start with the beginning and work my way to the present time, ending with a writing inspired by my friend Eric, which will include the phrase "greased slide to hell." Without a lot of fan fare, I began buying groceries for the pantry and freezer around the beginning of November, and in no time, they were both packed again, so in honor of Katie, I will, once again, take stock of everything I have, and then cease purchasing items for stock, and only buy fresh food and staples as I run out of them.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hold Me Accountable!

I cooked almost every night last week, and my slacker self has not updated. I still haven't posted the Thanksgiving recipes, though that post is almost finished, just not posted. Just so I have a reminder when I finally stop slacking...

Last Monday: Beef Bulgoga/ Chocolate chip pie for lesson dessert
Last Tuesday: Salmon
Last Wednesday: Seafood Pasta
Last Friday: Chicken Caesar Squares
Saturday: Don't remember, but did the Holiday Baking
Sunday: Chicken Sandwiches and Sweet Potato Fries

Monday 12/8 Take-out subs
Tues 12/9 Pork
Wednesday 12/10 chicken dumplings
Thursday 12/11 nothing of consequence
Friday 12/12 Pot Roast
Saturday 12/13 Christmas date
Sunday 12/14 Mushroom pizza with fresh mozzarella

Monday 12/15 swiss fondue
Tuesday 12/16 Pasta with sun dried tomato cream sauce
Wednesday 12/17 Quiche Lorraine
Thursday 12/18 Polish sausage and mashed potatoes
Friday 12/19 nothin'
Saturday 12/20 Chicken with Garlic Sauce, brussel spouts, squash, couscous
Sunday 12/21 appies and dessert for grandma's party... rye dip, crab bites, lemon cake, chocolate cake
Monday 12/22 Lasagna for friends
Tuesday 12/23 Mushroom and Cheddar Soup
Wednesday/Thursday... Christmas/ didn't cook
Friday 12/26: crab bites, sweet and sour coctail weiners, beef bulgoga, rice, roasted vegetables, bananas foster

Saturday 12/27... ran errands with mom and had Chinese Food
Sunday 12/28...
Monday 12/29... Crazy Peruvian came over... pierogies and pork chops, roasted carrots, greenbeans, bananas foster
Tuesday 12/30... Date Day!
Wednesday 12/31...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Our Recent Dinners

I made a big pot of Potato Soup on Sunday, and ate it for lunch, dinner, and an evening snack. The whole point of making it was so I would have something to take for lunch on Monday and Tuesday, but I was so sick of it by the time it came to Monday morning that I ended up buying my lunch both days instead. I thought I had the baked potato soup recipe posted somewhere already, but I cannot find it. If you really want the baked potato soup recipe, leave me a message and I will post it. Otherwise, I will just wait until NEXT time I make it.

For supper on Monday, after Brad's lesson, we went to Outback Steakhouse. It was delicious.

Tuesday night we took chili to a friend's house and hung out with them before we all went to a church function.

Fabulously Thick and Yummy Chili
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 (46 fluid ounce) can tomato juice
1 (29 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (15 ounce) can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 ounce) can chili beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup chili powder

Place ground beef and onions in a large saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain, and crumble. Add tomato juice, tomato sauce, beans, cayenne pepper, sugar, oregano, ground black pepper, salt, cumin and chili powder. Turn heat to high until boiling, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours. (If using a slow cooker, set on low, add ingredients, and cook for 8 to 10 hours.)

I know 1/4 cup of chili powder *seems* like a lot, but the chili is not overly spicy. It has really good flavor and a bit of a kick, but it doesn't burn the taste buds. In addition to the chili, I also made corn bread.

Corn Bread
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
1 (15 ounce) can creamed corn
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (8.5 ounce) package corn bread mix
3 Tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the bottom and sides of a square baking pan.

Stir all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.

I took a pumpkin cheesecake to the church function, but that recipe is in the previous post, so I am not going to take up space with it here.

Wednesday night I made Indian Butter Chicken. It was SOOO GOOOD. I am a pretty decent cook, and I was shocked that I made something that tasted sooo good. Interestingly enough, I had all of these ingredients already in my fridge and was able to make it without a trip to the store. I used the Penzey's ( Garam Masala and Tandoori Seasoning. I served this with Basmati Rice and green beans.

Indian Butter Chicken (aptly named!) From
1 cup butter, divided
1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
3 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garam masala

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons tandoori masala

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic, and cook slowly until the onion caramelizes to a dark brown, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat along with the tomato sauce, heavy cream, salt, cayenne pepper, and garam masala. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low; cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then stir in caramelized onions.

While the sauce is simmering, toss cubed chicken breast with vegetable oil until coated, then season with tandoori masala and spread out onto a baking sheet. Bake chicken in preheated oven until no longer pink in the center, about 12 minutes. Add the chicken to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes before serving.

I am off to make some dinner for Brad, but when I get back, I will tell you all about my Thanksgiving, and the sides I prepared.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Baking Extravaganza

I have done quite a lot of baking over the last few weeks. Brad is getting flight tutoring from one of my colleagues on Mondays, so I make a baked good for them each week. In addition, I had bananas going bad, I sent baked goods as part of my cooking club gift exchange, and one of my friends had a birthday.

Gooey Butter Cake
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Mix cake mix, melted butter or margarine, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 2 eggs with a spoon. Pat into a 9 X 13 inch pan.

Mix cream cheese, 2 eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla with an electric mixer. Slowly beat in 3 3/4 cups confectioner's sugar. Pour over cake layer. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup powdered sugar over cake. Return to oven for 20-25 minutes.

Banana Sour Cream Cake (from the Kraft Foods Magazine)
1 (18.25 oz.) package yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup ripe bananas (about 3 - though I used 5)
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup oil
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup Walnuts, finely chopped (I skipped this. Almost no one at work likes nuts)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat cake mix, eggs, bananas, sour cream and oil with mixer on low until moistened, scraping bottom of bowl often. Beat on medium for 2 minutes.

Pour batter into a greased and floured 13x9 inch pan. Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake completely in pan on wire rack.

Beat cream cheese and butter with mixer on medium until blended. Gradually add sugar, beating well after each addition.

Remove cake from pan. Cut cake in half lengthwise (so you end up with two 6 1/2 x 9 inch rectangles).

Place once half of the cake top-side down, on a plate. spread frosting over the top. Top with remaining cake half, top-side up. Frost top and sides. Press nuts onto sides. Refrigerate.

Pumpkin Cookies with Penuche Frosting (OLD family recipe)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons margarine or butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 - 2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, beat sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 cup margarine until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, vanilla and egg; blend well. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Stir in nuts. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 F for 10 - 12 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Immediately remove from cookie sheets; cool.

In a medium saucepan, combine 3 tablespoons margarine and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat 1 minute or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Cool 10 minutes. Add milk; beat until smooth. Beat in enough powdered sugar until desired spreading consistency. Frost cooled cookies. Allow frosting to set before storing.

Makes 5 dozen cookies.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
1 8 or 9 inch pre-made graham cracker crust
2 (8 oz.) bricks cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350F. Beat cream cheese and sugar until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated. Stir in vanilla, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Mix well. Pour into crust. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until center is set (does not jiggle). Cool two hours. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours before serving.

Chocolate, Chocolate, CHOCOLATE Cake
1 (18.25 ounce) package devil's food, chocolate, chocolate fudge, milk dark chocolate cake mix
1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and Flour a 12 cup bundt pan.

Mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into bundt pan. It will be very, very thick.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake in the pan for one hour. Then, turn cake out onto a plate. Drizzle with icing or dust with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

November WAS GOING TO BE eat at home month...

I have been grading like it is going out of style. When I finally left work on Monday at 6, I didn't want to make the pork I had gotten out to defrost, so I made pigs in a blanket. Yes, you read that correctly, pigs in a blanket. I wanted something really fast. Alas, I had neither tater tots, nor baked beans (In fact, I had to send Brad to the store on his way home from his flight lesson to pick up hot dogs and American cheese). What delicacy did I serve with this treat? Kraft Mac'n Cheese. It was a very trailer park dinner.

Pigs in a Blanket
1 package bun length hot dogs
8 pieces American cheese
2 cans crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 375F. Cut hot dogs in half. Divide each piece of cheese in half diagonally to create triangle shaped pieces of cheese. Unroll crescent rolls. For each sandwich: Place a piece of cheese on top of the crescent roll with the long side of the triangle of cheese along the long side of the crescent roll. Place a hot dog half along the bottom edge of the concoction. Roll. Tuck sides of crescent rolls into the middle. Place on a cookie sheet about 2 inches away from the rest of them. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crescent rolls are golden brown.

Kraft Mac'n Cheese
1 box Kraft Mac'n cheese
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup milk

Bring a medium sized saucepan 2/3 full of water to a boil. Tear open top of package. Pull out envelope of bright orange powdered cheesy goodness. Pour noodles into boiling water. Allow to cook, about 8 minutes. Drain water from noodles. Add butter, milk and contents of the envelope of bright orange powdered cheesy goodness. Stir until dissolved. Add noodles, and stir until well mixed. If you are feeling spunky, add a bit more milk and a couple of slices of American Cheese, to enhance the processed cheese taste.

It turns out the pork chops I got out to defrost had barely defrosted in the 24 hours since I removed them from the deep freeze, so I couldn't have made them anyway. I figured I'd make them on Tuesday.

Tuesday afternoon, I had a kid in my room making stuff up. I also had to leave sub plans for today's meeting, which was actually really productive and useful. When I finally left school around 5, I had to go to the grocery store to pick up food for lunches, because I exhausted my creative prowess last week when I failed to pick up lunch food at the grocery store. By the time I finished at the grocery, I was tired and didn't want to make dinner, so I stopped at KFC and got a bucket of chicken. I figured that since the pork chops hadn't even been defrosted when I checked on Monday, they would live another day.

So Wednesday... This is the part where normally I would say I was tired and didn't want to cook, so I stopped at Mr. Goodcents on my way home, or made a grilled cheese sandwich. But!!!! I didn't. I made the pork chops, and they were darned good!

Pork Chops and Pierogies (from, modified)
1 package (about 12) frozen pierogies
2 (3/4 inch) thick pork loin chops
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 medium sweet onion, sliced
1 Golden Delicious apple, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar

Brink a medium sized saucepan 2/3 full of water to a boil. Place pierogies in boiling water, and cook until they float to the top. Drain. Meanwhile, sprinkle pork chops with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. In a large skillet, cook chops in 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat until juices run clear, about 20 minutes; remove and keep warm.

In the same skillet, saute onion in remaining butter for 3 minutes. Add apple; saute until almost tender. Stir in the sugar, vinegar, and remaining salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Add pork chops and pierogies to skillet; stir to coat.

I served this with frozen peas. It was quite tasty. I was a little apprehensive about the sugar, but it was actually really, really good.

I just typed the following recipe as a friend was IMing it to me. I will leave it here, so I can find it again tomorrow when I want it.

Bulgogi (Recipe from my friend Kelly)
1 pound beef tenderloin
1 teaspoon sesame seeds toasted
3 scallions chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons water
3-4 tablespoons sugar
3-4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Thinly slice beef, and place in a baggie with the marinade. Marinate over night. Stir fry beef. Serve with rice.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

November Will Be Eat at Home Month...

One of the most depressing days of my adult life was when I divided my annual salary by the number of hours I actually work and realized I would make more working the same number of hours at my local Wal-Mart. I had a similar feeling last night when I went through this month's expenses and realized we spent $400 or more on groceries this month, and I have only cooked about once per week. Hmmm. I need to cook more. I haven't been throwing that much away, so what is happening? I need to keep better track.

This week...

Monday... Brad's parents left in the morning. We had Monterrey Chicken for supper, with a Taco Rice pouch and some corn.

Monterrey Chicken
1/2 cup butter, divided
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (8 oz.) package sliced mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - pounded thin

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly grease a medium baking dish.

Melt 1/4 cup butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion, mushrooms and garlic. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in 2 tablespoons flour, chicken stock, celery salt, white pepper and white wine. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened and well blended, about 10 minutes.

Mix 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese into the thickened sauce mixture, and stir until melted.

In a shallow medium bowl, mix 1 cup flour with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken breast halves in the flour mixture to coat. Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook chicken until lightly browned on all sides. Arrange breast halves in the prepared baking dish, and cover with the sauce.

Top chicken breast halves with remaining Monterey Jack cheese. Bake in the preheated oven 25 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

Tuesday... Election Day. I made snacks to munch on all day while we watched the election coverage. We also watched "A Series of Unfortunate Events." It was pretty good. I made taco dip, little wieners, chicken curry puffs and crab bites.

Taco Dip
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
1 (8 oz.) package sour cream
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 (8oz.) package cheese (cheddar, Mexican blend, Colby jack... whatever you want or have...)

Mix cream cheese, sour cream and taco seasoning together. Spread onto a plate or platter. Top with cheese. Let set in refrigerator at least one hour before serving. Serve with corn chips.

Little Wieners
See recipe in "Does Anyone Know CPR" post

Crab Bites
2 (12 ounce) packages refrigerated biscuit dough
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (6 ounce) can crab meat, drained
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch paprika

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray mini muffing pan with cooking spray.
Divide rolls in half and press into the prepared mini muffin pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, crab, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, Cheddar cheese, green onions and Worcestershire sauce. Spoon 1 teaspoon of mixture onto dough and sprinkle with paprika.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until light brown.

Curry Chicken Puffs
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (8 oz. package) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups chopped chicken
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon sweet curry powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400F. Bring water and butter to a boil over medium high heat. Add flour and alt and reduce heat to low. Stir vigorously until a ball forms. Remove from heat. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Drop by tablespoons full onto a wet, but ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 25 minutes or until set and lightly browned.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon sweet curry powder. fry chicken pieces in the mixture until thoroughly cooked. Cool slightly. Combine cream cheese, milk, salt, sweet curry powder and pepper until creamy. Stir into chicken mixture, and heat until warm throughout.

Remove the tops of the puffs, and place 1 teaspoon of filling on top of bottom. Place top on top of filling. Bake at 375F for 5 minutes.

Wednesday I fell asleep before I could make anything for dinner. Thursday I had... what did I have? I think I had leftover appetizers from election night.

Friday, I made pasta bake. It is delicious, but it makes A TON!

Pasta Bake
1 pound dry ziti pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce
8 slices (8 ounces total) provolone cheese
1 1/2 cups sour cream
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain.

In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 cans spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes. Mix sauce mixture in with the noodles and stir well.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish. Pour 1/2 of the remaining spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the pan. Spread. Place 1/3 of the pasta mixture on top of that. Evenly place the provolone cheese over the pasta. Spread the sour cream over the provolone. On top of the sour cream, add 1/3 of the pasta mix. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the pasta. Spread the pasta over the mozzarella. Pour the remaining spaghetti sauce over the top of the final layer of pasta. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted.

Saturday night, Brad heated up an UNO's frozen pizza that we bought last week at Aldi, and I had beef stew at my mom's.

I am not sure what I am cooking tonight, but since I have a refrigerator full of food, I am most certainly going to be cooking something.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Recent Recipes

The last few weeks have been rough at work... lots and lots and lots and lots of grading... concession stand duty... football game gate worker duty... Cappies duty... and then there is that whole having a life outside of work thing... I haven't cooked much, but I have made a few deliciosities. Beginning most recently...

For supper with Brad's 'rents, we had pot roast, mashed potatoes, gravy, glazed carrots, and some rocky road brownies that were largely ignored.

Pot Roast with Gravy (my recipe)
2 pounds chuck roast, trimmed of fat
1/2 cup beef broth
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 packets dry french onion soup mix
sliced mushrooms (about 1 1/2 pounds)

2 beef bullion cubes
4 tablespoons corn starch

Set crock pot on low. Put beef broth, mushroom soup and dry onion soup mix in the bottom of a 4 quart crock pot. Stir. Put beef in crock pot and spoon some of the soup mixture on top. Pack mushrooms on top of beef mixture, almost to the top of the crock pot. Place lid on top, and cook on low for at least 7 hours. Stir occasionally if able.

Carefully remove the beef from the crock pot. Pour the remaining liquid in a large saucepan. Turn burner to low heat. Place two bullion cubes in liquid. Mix the cornstarch with 1/2-1 cup of water, depending on how much liquid you already have. Pour the cornstarchy water slowly into the liquid, and stir well. Repeat with more cornstarchy liquid until gravy is desired consistency.

Mashed Potatoes (grandma's recipe)
1 5 lb bag of potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
1 (16 0z.) container sour cream
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place chopped potatoes in a large saucepan. Add water until potatoes are thoroughly covered with water. Sprinkle salt on top. Turn heat on high until boiling. Turn heat to medium and allow to cook until potatoes are tender. (I stick a fork in to test.)

Drain potatoes in a colander. Return saucepan to heat, and add butter, cream cheese and sour cream. Stir until melted and well blended. Add potatoes to mix, and mash with a potato masher until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. (Add milk bit by bit to desired consistency if they are too thick for your taste. If you think they are too thin, they will thicken up as the cool off...)

Glazed Carrots (my recipe)
1 (8 oz.) bag baby carrots
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Place baby carrots in a small saucepan. Add enough water to thoroughly cover the carrots. Turn heat to medium-high. Cook carrots until al dente. Drain. Add butter, brown sugar and cinnamon to saucepan. Stir until mixed well. Return carrots to saucepan. Toss with glaze.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mallow Bars (From the Kraft Food and Family Magazine)
1 package devil's food cake mix
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
2/3 cup cold milk, divided
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 (7 oz. jar) Marshmallow creme
1/2 cup salted peanuts
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350F. Mix dry cake mix, butter and 1/3 cup milk until blended; press 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch pan. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until center is almost set; cool 3 minutes.

Mix peanut butter and remaining milk; spread onto crust. Top with spoonfuls of marshmallow creme and remaining cake mixture. Sprinkle with nuts and chocolate chips. Press gently into cake mixture.

Bake 18 minutes or just until center is set. Cool before cutting into bars.


The in-laws were in town this weekend. I will write more about that in a few minutes, here, but for now...

The Perfect Cheesecake (any flavor)
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 8 or 9 inch graham cracker crust

Preheat oven to 350F.

Put cream cheese and sugar in a medium bowl. Mix with electric mixer on medium until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, blending just until well incorporated. Mix in vanilla and any other additions (see below). Pour into graham cracker crust. Bake in preheated oven for 30 - 35 minutes, or until middle of cake is set. Remove from oven, and let cool about 30 minutes on counter before covering and continuing to cool in the refrigerator. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

*The joy of this cheesecake is you can add anything to it to make a different kind of cheesecake.
Add 1/4 cup for liquids
1/2 - 1 cup for solids

Some examples...
1/4 cup Amaretto, Bailey's, Kahlua
1/4 cup lemon juice, lime juice, key lime juice (+ 1-2 teaspoons zest)
1/4 cup jam or jelly, swirled in or stirred in
1/4 cup caramel or fudge, swirled in
3/4 cup whole cranberries
1 cup chocolate chips, whole or melted
1 cup pumpkin
1 cup chocolate chip cookie dough pieces
1 cup crushed oreos

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This Week in Dinner...

Due to my complete inability to say no, I said yes on Monday to a colleague who needed a chaperone. He had an outside choreographer coming in to help with this year's musical, and he had a meeting he had to go to before the session was over. He needed an employee present so she was just a "visitor" instead of a "chaperone." The paperwork is different. We'll set aside that I think he found this woman at the Joseph Stalin School of Dance, and fast forward to dinner, which I picked up from Mr. Goodcents on the way home from school at nearly 7:30.

On Tuesday, Brad and I went to our awesome new gym and worked out. I introduced him to the joy and wonderment of the Ancient Roman Torture Machine, my affectionate name for the Precor Elliptical.

I had an eye of round steak that I got out of the freezer. I was going to use it to make pot roast, but I was out of dry onion soup mix. Instead, I used it to make some very delicious stir fry.

Beef Stir Fry
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup plum sauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into thin 2-inch strips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 cup snow peas, edges trimmed
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup bean sprouts
5 green onions, chopped
1 small onion, sliced
3 cloves chopped garlic

Hot cooked rice

In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Stir in the plum sauce, ginger, soy sauce and pepper flakes; set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, stir-fry beef in oil until no longer pink; remove and keep warm.
In the same pan, stir-fry the mushrooms, carrots, onions and garlic until tender. Add the snow peas. Return beef to the pan.

Whisk the plum sauce mixture; stir into skillet. Cook and stir until slightly thickened. Stir in peanuts. Serve over rice.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How do you spell spoiled? B*R*A*D

I had NHS concession stand duty on Thursday evening, so for the second time in a row I did not get home from work until close to 9 pm. I was leaving on Friday morning to go to my cousin's wedding in Atlanta, and all I really needed to do was move the load of laundry from the washer to the dryer. The sticking point, though, was that there were dry clothes already in the dryer. I knew I had to do something with those. I just didn't have the energy to fold them and put them away, and I was feeling guilty about just throwing them on the bed. So, I threw myself on the bed and played on the computer, while intermittently writing the vocabulary test for my honors juniors. I didn't prepare myself dinner. I didn't pack my suitcase. I didn't grade. I was LAZY! Then Brad calls at 10:00 pm to say he's really in the mood for calzones. Of course he is. The late night dining options in the thriving metropolis that is Troy, Missouri include... Sonic. No Calzones. Hardees. No Calzones. Mc Donalds. No Calzones.

Guess who is making Calzones? That'd be me.

Calzones (made entirely from ingredients I had around the house...)
1 refrigerator pizza crust (Like Pillsbury)
1 container ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese
12 slices prosciutto
1 jar spaghetti sauce

Mix ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan and Italian seasoning together.

Divide pizza crust into 6 equal pieces. Roll the first piece out on a floured surface using a floured rolling pin. Roll until very thin. Put 1/6 of the ricotta mixture in the middle. Place two pieces of prosciutto on top, followed by a slice of fresh mozzarella. Fold the dough over. Roll the edges, then press with a fork to seal. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake for 15-20 minutes at 400F or until crust is nicely browned. Serve with spaghetti sauce for dipping.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Problem is...

Education is a particularly hot topic right now because of the impending election and Bush's tragically unsuccessful "No Child Left Behind" Program. Add in Jamie Lee Curtis's commercial featuring the forlorn child reluctantly hoisting up the flags of countries with better education systems than ours, and you have disgruntled Americans of all ages up in arms about the state of the education system.

"I believe that every child deserves an education that allows them to reach their full potential," Curtis states, but what does that mean?

I obviously don't have the answer to the question, because if I did I would have put it to good use, but here are my observations after being both a student and a teacher in the public school system...

Not EVERYONE can be successful, and a major attitude adjustment is needed for even the majority of students to be successful. One reason why "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) was doomed to failure before it began was because it called for 100% proficiency in math and science, English and social studies. In Missouri, it does not account for immigrants who are not proficient in basic English communication, and therefore certainly not able to write an essay to a community leader persuading them to do something. It does not make concessions for the profoundly autistic, or the mentally retarded. There is no conceivable way EVERY student, regardless of race, creed, color, socioeconomic class or innate talent can be proficient in English and Math.

And that, Ms. Curtis, is why other countries are outperforming us in Math. It isn't because Japan's smartest kid is smarter than our smartest kid; it is that Japan's numbers don't include every teenager in the country. Germany's numbers don't include every teenager in the country. China's numbers don't include every teenager in the country. It is easy to say we are being outperformed in Math by these countries when their scores are higher, but it is important to look at why their scores are higher. Only the elite in Germany go to what we refer to as "High School." Many, many German teenagers go to a sort of technical school to learn a trade. In China, only urban students go to "High School" and not all of them at that. The United States has had compulsory secondary education since the 50's, wherein every minor is REQUIRED to attend school until they are 16 years old, and therefore EVERY student gets tested. So yes, Germany's elite are outperforming our total population in math. Of course they are. China's wealthy, urban elite are outperforming our total population in math. Of course they are. They should be. I would certainly hope the the average score on a standardized math test in a country where only the best and the brightest take it would be high. I would hope their scores would be higher than those from a country where the valedictorian and the kid with an IQ of 85 take the same test.

I am okay with that. I relish in the knowledge that I live in a country where everyone gets a free public education. I will put our geniuses up against Asia's geniuses any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Why don't I see commercials that celebrate the public education system, rather than criticize it? It has problems. I will fully admit that there is a discrepancy in the quality of public education depending on district. I will fully admit that there is way too much political motivation in the public schools. I will admit that there are teachers who should no longer be teaching. I will admit that school has gotten too easy. I will admit that grades are inflated. I will admit that some parents have made school too easy for their kids And this, friends, is why Canada is kicking our butts in butts in Math.

If a student gets suspended (OSS) for fighting, or vandalizing, or bringing a weapon to school, I still have to provide him with his homework assignments and accept them for full credit. Doesn't that keep it from being a deterrent and instead make it a vacation. They get to sleep in, not sit through class, hang out at home AND make up their work for full credit.

I have a student whose mother writes all of his essays, and when I try to point out to her that her son's in class writing in NO WAY compares to his out of class writing, she yells at me, telling me in class writing assignments aren't fair because the kids have no time to prepare and revise. I am not talking about the out of class essay being a little better organized. It has words in it the student can't identify. He doesn't even read the essay to know what it is about.

I have a student who does no work all semester. He gets a progress report that says he has an F, and a quarter grade that says he has an F. I email his mom to tell her every time he is missing a big assignment. And then, when wrestling season begins, he comes in crying (literally crying) because he can't participate if he doesn't get his grade up. Then I am ordered by my principal to allow him to make up his work because he is an all state wrestler.

These are extreme examples, but then you get advances in education like multiple intelligences and differentiated instruction. These are efforts to allow EVERYONE to enjoy school based on their preferences or skill. And suddenly everyone can "do" school, and the kid that takes Calculus has the same grade point average as the kid who took a math class that featured Sudoku.

Where do you draw the line? Is school for everyone or should it be school like? Is it okay to leave a few people behind for the sake of the "greater good?" I don't have the answer to these questions, but I do know this: You can't have it both ways. Either school is school with lectures and text books and essays and tests, or school is for everyone with collective learning activities and recess. School is hard and we excel but leave a few people behind, or school is not and we fall behind as a nation, but bring everyone with us.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Does Anyone Know CPR? Part II

In addition to the crab Rangoon, egg rolls, and jalapeno poppers, I also fried pickles and cookie dough, and would have fried mozzarella cheese, but we were full.

Fried Dill Pickles
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup cornmeal
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (32 ounce) jar dill pickle slices

In a large bowl, combine eggs, 1/4 cup of the flour, buttermilk, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, seasoning salt and garlic powder.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, 2 cups flour, salt and 3/4 teaspoon black pepper.

Preheat oil in a deep fryer or pot to 365 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Dip drained pickles into milk mixture and then dredge them in the flour mixture, then back in the milk mixture, and back in the flour mixture. Deep fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with Ranch dressing or marinara sauce.

* I drained the pickles first, then put them on paper towels for about an hour to try to absorb as much of the liquid as possible before dropping them into a vat of bubbly oil.*

My two crock pot appetizers were Chicken Wing Dip and Little Smokies

Chicken Wing Dip
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup pepper sauce, such as Franks® Red Hot®
1 cup Ranch-style salad dressing
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Put all ingredients into a crock pot. Cook on high until cheeses are melted and ingredients are well incorporated. Turn to low to keep warm. Serve with tortilla chips.

Little Smokies
1 package little smokies
1 bottle barbecue sauce

Place all ingredients into a crock pot. Cook on high until hot dogs are thoroughly cooked. Turn to low to keep warm.

I bet y'all are impressed with that recipe. I bet you wouldn't have figured that one out on your own, and are fantastically glad I posted it for you!

I also made fried cookie dough. Brad finds it "disgusting" (exact words), but our friends like it, so I made it.

Fried Cookie Dough
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 pasteurized eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
Egg Roll Wrappers

In a large bowl, beat together margarine or butter and sugars until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla, and mix well. Blend in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chips.

Place about 1/4 cup of dough in the center of the wrapper. Fold edge over to create a tube. Fold sides in, then finish rolling. Fry until golden brown. Serve with ice cream toppings, such as caramel and hot fudge.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Does Anyone Know CPR?

I get my deep fryer out about once every 9 months or so, and usually because I am craving really good crab Rangoon. Then, I fry to my heart's content... or until the oil gets nasty... I scrub the fryer. It sits on my kitchen table for about a month because I am too lazy to drag it to its home in the basement. Eventually it does end up in the basement, where it stays for 8 months until I repeat the aforementioned process.

On Saturday, I had some friends over to eat fried food and play games... in that order. Here's what I made...

Adrienne's Rockin' Crab Rangoon
2 (8 oz) pkgs. cream cheese
1 (8 oz) pkg. imitation crab, chopped
4 cloves crushed garlic
4 green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 package wanton wrappers

Mix the first six ingredients together. Put one teaspoon mixture in the center of a wanton wrapper. Dip your finger in water, and trace it around the perimeter of the wanton wrapper. Fold one corner diagonally across . Pinch to close. Then, fold the remaining two corners up to this corner. Fry at 350 F until golden brown. Serve with sweet and sour sauce and spicy mustard.

Eggs Rolls

1 package pre-shredded slaw mix
1/2 cup fresh bean sprouts
4 green onions, chopped
1 cup shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
black pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
20 egg roll wrappers

Mix together cabbage, sprouts, and onion. Stir in shrimp, soy sauce, garlic powder, and black pepper. Pour beaten egg into a skillet placed over medium heat; cook until done. Remove from skillet, cool, and chop finely. Stir egg into cabbage mixture. Sprinkle top with cornstarch, mix, and allow to sit 10 minutes.

Place 2 or 3 tablespoons of the shrimp mixture into the center of an egg roll skin. Dip your finger in water, then trace the perimeter of the wrapper. Fold the egg roll skin from the bottom over the mixture, making a tight tube of the shrimp mixture. Fold corners in from the sides; then, roll the rest of the way. Repeat with remaining egg roll wrappers.

Fry at 350 F or until golden brown. Serve with sweet and sour sauce and hot mustard.

Jalapeno Popper Spread
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
2 ounces canned diced jalapeno peppers, drained
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Stir together cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in green chiles and jalapeno peppers.

At this point, you can toss this in a crock pot to warm it up, bake it in the oven at 350 F until it is bubbly, or microwave it, if the thought of microwaved mayo doesn't gross you out.

As per my friend Amber's suggestion, I wrapped it in wanton wrappers and fried like crab Rangoon. (See aforementioned crab Rangoon recipe for specifics...) I actually didn't have one, but it got rave reviews from my friends. I served this with Ranch Dressing (Ken's... to be exact.)

At this point, I'm sure you are wondering what else I could have possibly fried. You will have to continue to wonder, because I have to go to sleep. BUT, I will update tomorrow with the rest of the fried items, as well as the two crock pot appetizers I served... Do you think I had too much food for 4 people???

Thursday, October 2, 2008

"Our" Visitor...

I did a lot of cooking this week for various reasons. First, "we" had company. I put "we" in quotes, because I really had almost no interaction with the visitor. He hung out in the office and played Microsoft Flight Simulator for 2 solid days. Due to this, though, I was a good little cooker. On Monday, I made corn chowder, garlic bread, and peach cobbler.

Cheddar-Corn Chowder
1 pound uncooked bacon, diced
1 large Spanish onion, peeled and diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 medium red potatoes, diced into 3/4 inch cubes
6 cups chicken stock or broth
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 (16 oz.) cans whole kernel corn, drained
2 (16 oz.) creamed corn
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups heavy cream
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
2 bunches scallions, sliced

Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until brown and crispy. Remove bacon from skillet, and allow to drain on paper towels.

Place 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease in a stockpot. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic to the drippings and saute for 5 minutes. Add potatoes, stock, cayenne pepper, and coriander. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 35 minutes. Add the corn, cheese, and cream. Simmer additional 7 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Stir in the scallions and crispy bacon pieces.


I've made this several times, and have loved it every time. I used 2% milk instead of cream this time because I am trying to cut back (see earlier post). It was a bit thinner, but just as tasty. I served it with garlic bread, and we had peach cobbler for dessert. (The peach cobbler recipe is posted around July 19... I made it for my mom's birthday.)

On Tuesday, I made baked Tilapia, scallops, green beans, and rice pilaf.

Baked Tilapia
4 tilapia fillets
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon dried parsley

Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place fillets in dish.

Mix lemon juice, butter, garlic and parsley. Pour mixture over fish.

Bake fish in preheated oven until fish is white, and flakes with a fork, about 30 minutes.

Baked Scallops
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 pound large sea scallops

Preheat oven to 450 F. Mix butter, mustard, lemon juice, garlic and parsley together.

Place scallops in a baking dish. Pour butter mixture over scallops. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until scallops are opaque and cooked throughout.

I served this meal with fresh green beans, prepared in the Ziploc steamer bag, and a box of rice pilaf, prepared per the package directions. It was delicious.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On Behalf of Fat Girls Everywhere...

When I was in college we read an article called, "Unpacking the White Knapsack," and it was about all of the aspects "white" Americans take for granted. In it, she makes a list of various assumptions white, upper middle class, heterosexual Americans can make. Some of them are...

"I am never asked to speak for all people of my racial group."
"I can choose bandages in "flesh" color and have them more or less match my skin."
"I can expect figurative language and imagery in all of the arts to testify to my experience of race."

This is what went through my mind today while standing outside of the drama room listening to 20 teenagers repeatedly sing the same bars from "Thoroughly Modern Millie" as my crazy coworker paid me what she thoroughly felt was a compliment.

So... I was walking back to my classroom, minding my own business, when a my crazy coworker made the ever so obvious statement, "You're still here?" Because I am tired, I will update this story later with several tangents about previous encounters I've had with this woman.

"It makes me so happy to see you and (insert name of other colleague here)." I was thoroughly confused, because I don't know her very well, but I have almost nothing in common with this other colleague, and I am very rarely in the same room with her.

"My husband has this daughter who is very fat," she began, "and he is worried that she will never amount to anything." Okay, I am thinking...

"But you have a job, and are successful and are getting married. You found a man who loves you, so there is hope for her, too." This is the point where my jaw drops. Am I really having this conversation? Did she really just tell me that she has hope for her fat step daughter because I am a successful individual? Perhaps I misunderstood. That's a big NO folks. I understood perfectly.

She continues... "You are such a good role model for these twiggy girls. They need to interact with people who are different from them and realize there is more to life than being skinny." Hmm. This is the point, I think, where I might have teared up, if I had enough respect for this woman to care about what she was saying..." She must have noticed the expression on my face, though, because then she launched into a five minute diatribe about how this is a compliment. After all, her favorite aunt probably weighed 600 hundred pounds, and she was the neatest woman ever. She kept telling me not to be offended. I finally just walked away. How does a person respond to that?

First of all, who walks up to a person and says that??? Second of all, I might be a little overweight, but not debilitating so, and I have certainly, in my life, overcome adversity FAR greater than finding a man who loves me for my wit, charm, intelligence and beauty.

So with that, I speak on behalf of all of the fat girls out there...
You are capable of being educated, professional, successful adults.
Men (Or women... I don't judge) will find you attractive for your beauty, inside and out.
Busybody coworkers will find ways, subtle or not, to point out your imperfections, despite the fact that they are at least two pants sizes overweight themselves, are married, and have the same job you do...


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chicken Caesar Squares

Chicken Caesar Squares

2 cups cooked chicken breast, cubed
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons Caesar dressing (I use Newman's Own Creamy Caesar)
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon minced garlic
t teaspoon lemon juice
1 8 oz. can crescent rolls

Heat oven to 375F. In a medium sized bowl, mix all filling ingredients until well combined.

Unroll dough. Separate into 4 rectangles. Press perforations together to make four rectangles. Press to be about 4 x 6 inches. Add 1/4 of filling to each rectangle, and gently fold edges over the filling. Seal well. Place on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 16-21 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Recent Baking Endeavours

I have done a bit of baking in the last month, and I will share those recipes now. The freezer is getting to be slim pickens, which is good, but now I just have a bunch of really odd stuff that requires advanced planning to make sure I have the fresh ingredients necessary. On the top shelf (the meat shelf), I still have 4 (2 person) servings of boneless skinless chicken breast, and about that many pork tenderloin chops, a pork tenderloin, 3 nice NY strip steaks, a slab of ribs, some Italian Sausage, at least 2 pounds of hamburger, a whole chicken, a brisket, another eye of round roast (very pretty, but not as yummy as other cuts of beef), some Italian sausage...

I also still have at least 3 different types of pasta, one of which is squash ravioli and one is some sort of fancy brie ravioli. These are those niche items I need to prepare for in order to serve well. For instance, the brie ravioli would be great with a nice green salad, some crusty bread and perhaps a mushroom sauce, but I have to plan ahead to have any of those ingredients. I still have at least all of one enormous package of pierogies. I still have some salmon, cod (Brad's contribution, a frozen pizza, the Costco chicken pot pie, a bag of Mongolian Beef that Brad found to be "okay," a bag of scallops, some shrimp, frozen veggies and random meals I've frozen for Brad's lunch, as well as a lasagna I made last time I made lasagna. So, I started this escapade on July1, and now, 2 1/2 months later, I still have not purchased anything but fresh fruits and veggies, dairy and produce. Well, and a couple of maintenance items, like mayo and soy sauce, but only because I was out and needed it... I wasn't stock piling.

The Pantry is still full too. I am pathetic. I will not be able to grocery shop until Christmas at the rate I am going.

Tonight I made "Death By Chocolate," which frankly, sounds like a great way to die. I used a cake mix, a box of pudding, a jar of hot fudge, and an open bag of toffee chips. I eliminated major supplies with this one!

Death By Chocolate
1 chocolate cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Milk Chocolate, because that is what I had...)
1 jar hot fudge
6 Heath or Score bars, chopped
1 large package vanilla pudding
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1 16 oz. container cool whip
1 chocolate bar

Prepare cake mix using package directions. Bake in a 13 x 9 inch pan. (Sometimes, if I am feeling spunky, I substitute 1/2 of the water for Kahlua) Allow to cool completely, then slice into very small pieces (like 1 inch squares).

Mix pudding and milk. Stir well, and let sit 5 minutes to set. Add all but 1 1/2 cups of the cool whip to the pudding and mix well. Heat hot fudge until it is drizzleable.

In a pretty glass bowl, put down a layer of cake. Drizzle 1/3 of the hot fudge on top of the cake. Sprinkle 1/3 of the crushed candy on top. Add 1/3 of the pudding mixture. Add another layer of cake, a little less than half of the remaining mixture. Drizzle the rest of the hot fudge on top of the cake, then sprinkle the remaining candy pieces. Spread the remaining pudding mixture on top of the candy pieces. Make a final layer of cake on top of the pudding mixture. Top with the reserved cool whip. Decorate the top of the dessert with shavings from the chocolate bar.

Make one day in advance. It takes about a day for everything to meld together and taste like more than just the individual parts.

This is really really yummy, and very impressive despite the easy preparation. Also, it used multiple pantry ingredient, so it is a red banner recipe!

Recently, I also made some cookies, which I am going to call Nuts about Cookies, because I made up the recipe entirely by myself, and therefore can call it whatever I want. I made these because Brad called at 8 pm and requested a treat to take to work the next day. Bringing in treats increases his street cred at work, so I like to help with that.

Nuts About Cookies
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups mixed nuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix together butter and sugars until thoroughly combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Stir in baking soda and flour. Add nuts and chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 10 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and center is set. Remove from sheet immediately and allow to cool on racks.

Awhile ago, I had bananas going bad, so I made chocolate banana bread.

Chocolate Banana Bread
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup white sugar
4 eggs
6 bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup lite sour cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans.

In a large bowl, cream together margarine, applesauce, sugar and eggs. Stir in bananas and vanilla. Sift in flour, baking soda and cocoa; mix well. Blend in sour cream and chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of a loaf comes out clean.

This was very yummy, and a bit different than the usual banana bread. I made two loafs and froze one. It still tasted delectable out of the freezer!

Friday, September 12, 2008

How do you spell success?

So, if everyone else thought the dinner was good, but I didn't care for it, was it a successful meal? Brad is sick, and he requested comfort food. Comfort food for him is apparently Salisbury Steak, though when I need comfort I turn to crab Rangoon. I knew when he requested it that I wasn't going to love it. I figured I'd like it enough to eat it for a meal. I was wrong. I am not a picky eater. Ask anyone. There are a handful of things I would choose not to eat if given the choice, but can if someone puts it in front of me and says, "here's dinner." I figured it'd be like that, but no. The last few bites were hard to get down.

Brad, however, who has a decent palate, thought it was delicious and exactly what he remembered his grandmother making. In case you want to test it out... (Ringing Endorsement, eh... Well, it wasn't poorly made. I just didn't care for it.)

Salisbury Steak
1 pound lean ground beef
1 egg
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 pound baby portabello mushrooms, sliced
2 small onions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour
1 (14 oz.) can beef broth
2 beef bullion cubes
1 1/4 cup milk

Combine ground beef, egg, garlic, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning in a bowl. Mix well. Make into 4 patties, about 1/2 inch thick. Cook in a skillet for about 3 minutes on each side. Remove from skillet.

In the same skillet, on medium heat, melt butter. Add mushrooms and onions and saute until onions are translucent and mushrooms release their juice. Add flour and stir until well incorporated. Add beef broth, milk and bullion cubes. Cook on medium for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until mixture thickens. Add patties back into sauce. Cover will sauce. Turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

I served tonight's... experience... with fresh green beans made in a Ziploc Steamer bag and egg noodles.

I used up the egg noodles from the pantry, and a pound of ground beef from the freezer.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Mushroom White Cheddar Soup

It rained and rained and rained and rained and rained on Thursday. I love soup, so I took this opporunity to make my first batch of the cool season. I served it with Crescent Rolls (the kind in the tube - baked per the package directions.

Mushroom White Cheddar Soup
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 pounds fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 tablespoon Penzey's Shallot Pepper Seasoning
2 (14 oz.) cans chicken broth
3 cups 2% milk
3 cups sharp white cheddar cheese

On medium high heat, melt butter in large pot. Add garlic and onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add mushrooms, and saute until they release their juices, stirring periodically. Add flour, black pepper, seasoned salt and Shallot Pepper Seasoning and stir until incorporated. Add chicken broth, and stir well. When soup begins to thicken, pour in milk, and stir well. Turn heat to medium. Add cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Season with additional salt and pepper , if desired. Yummo!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tuesday and Wednesday

School has begun and I am officially lazy in the kitchen. It is important to note that I am also lazy in the posting, so even when I DO cook, it takes me a while to actually share this information. I didn't fall asleep last night until 2:30, and I woke up around 6:30 (which is the time I should leave my house!) My classroom is a trailer, which is less than beneficial for several reasons. 1. God does not like trailers. If ever there were a tornado, my students and I would not make it to the building. We would be carried off in a twister, and if we are lucky, we might land in colorful land complete with flying monkeys and little people singing about lollipops. More likely, though, we'd land somewhere really inconvenient, like the middle of the highway, or the river. 2. On days like today when it rains ALL DAY LONG, I get wet a lot. My hair has yet to dry today. I left for school with wet hair (see aforementioned note regarding oversleeping). I walked through the rain from my car to my trailer. Then, I had to open the door for my students between classes. Then, I had to lug a box full of recently copied materials, as well as 50 copies of The Scarlet Letter through the rain. Then, I had to open the door for my students between classes. Then, I had to walk in the rain to lunch. Then, I had to open the door for my students between classes. Then, I had to open the door for my students between classes. Then, I had to walk into the building to distribute various pieces of paper to various offices. Then, I walked to my car. Then I walked from my car. My hair is still wet. I smell like mildew. I had a good day. No, really I did. Just a bad hair day...

Last night for supper, I used up supplies. In fact, all I did was use supplies. I made an Asian Gourmet (from Aldi) box of yellow curry rice. I added about 1/3 of a bag of frozen peas to the rice. I sauteed some chicken breast with onions in a little bit of oil, and then added a Trader Joe's bottle of Yellow Thai Curry sauce. It was delcious, and nutritious. AND... It used up freezer and pantry supplies.

Tuesday night, I made some sort of port reduction with mushrooms sauce for beef. It was pretty yummy, but I would've done it differently if I had it to do over again. I served it with some fresh sugar snap peas, and a box of rice pilaf (from the cupboard).

Beef with Shitaaki Mushrooms and Port Wine Reduction

Beef (I used two large NY strip steaks I had defrosted and needed to use)

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped.
2 cups shitaaki mushrooms, sliced
1 can beef broth
1 bottle mid grade Port
2 Tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Heat olive oil in a large pan. Saute onion and garlic until soft and translucent. Add Bottle of port, and boil on medium for 30 minutes. Add beef broth, jam, Worcestershire sauce and mushrooms and boil for an additional 30 minutes. Sauce should be reduced significantly.

Meanwhile, cook the steaks on the grill or under the broiler to desired doneness. Serve the warm sauce over the beef.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thinning out the Supplies: Not a Gourmet Endeavour

My dog has gotten spunky lately. He is getting more and more brave about jumping up to places he is not allowed to be to get into stuff he is not allowed to get into. Last Sunday, it happened to be the chicken breast that I had removed from the refrigerator and placed on the counter prior to its preparation. I came into my room to print off the recipe, and when I returned to the living room, there were my perfectly defrosted chicken breasts, mauled and strewn throughout the (carpeted) living room. He knew he was in trouble. He put his eyes down and walked immediately to his crate. What really stinks about the situation is that I spent more than a little time planning this meal, finding the recipe, finding sides... I don't remember what we had instead. Probably Sonic.

Monday, Brad went out of town. I ordered pizza from Papa Johns.

Tuesday, Brad was still out of town. I stopped by the grocery store on my way home to purchase more grapes and picked up some pre-made chicken salad, which I had for supper in the form of a sandwich.

Wednesday, I ate leftover Pizza. (This is the part where we all think, wow... I didn't realize she was such a bachelor.)

Thursday, Brad came home and wanted something home cooked, he had been dining out at all of his favorite restaurants for the past three days. Poor guy. We had Tilapia Parmesan, Green Beans and a tube of Italian Bread.

Tilapia Parmesan
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
2 pounds tilapia filets

Preheat broiler. Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Mix together all ingredients but Tilapia.

Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and broil 2-3 additional minutes. (More for thick fillets) Cover fish with Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork.

As previously mentioned, we also had frozen green beans, and I baked a tube of Italian bread. I gotta admit, other than shape, I couldn't tell a difference between it and the tube of French loaf, but for $2 and fresh bread in 20 minutes, I am not going to complain.

This meal used Tilapia from the freezer and green beans from the freezer. Woo Hoo. It was also tasty, but If I did it again, I would make 1/2 as much sauce and just baste the fish with it. If you actually like the taste of fish, the sauce totally overpowers it. If you are trying to disguise fish for a picky eater, it is perfect.

Back to School Cookies

I keep forgetting to mention that I did make cookies the day before school started.

Brad's Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Drop 1/4 cup dough onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. Remove when the middle is set and the edges are brown. If they are nice and evenly brown in the oven, they are overcooked.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Okay folks (both of you)... I know I have been remiss on the updates, but school started 2 1/2 weeks ago, and well, I've been busy. A) Busy and therefore not posting and B)Busy and therefore not cooking. Because it has been close to two weeks since an update, I will make a little sketch here to remind myself what I did when, and then will come back and add stories and updates. I'm going backwards...

Hamburger Helper

Orange Chicken


Dinner at Mom's... I brought blueberry pie

8/23 Taco Bell... Attack of the bacon...

8/22 Spaghetti and bread/ Nut Cookies

8/21 Thursday Parmesan Tilapia and herb rice pouch/ Chocolate Banana Bread

Wednesday, 8/20 Brad out of town...Pizza
Tuesday 8/19 Brad out of town... scrounge
Monday 8/18 Brad out of town... Pizza

Sunday 8/17 ... tragic chicken mishap... don't remember what we had

Friday, August 22, 2008

From the Request Line...

Summer Squash Enchiladas

1 medium chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups chopped zucchini or yellow summer squash
1 4 oz. can diced green chili peppers
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
8 7-8 inch flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes

Cook onion and garlic in hot oil in a large skillet just until tender. Stir in squash, cook 3-5 minutes until just tender. Stir in half of chili peppers, 1 teaspoon of chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir one more minute. Remove from heat. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan melt butter. Stir in flour, salt, remaining 1 teaspoon chili powder and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cook and stir about 1 minute. Stir in milk. Cook and stir until thick. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 cup of cheese until melted. Add the rest of the chili peppers. Stir 1/2 cup of cheese sauce into squash mixture.

Spoon 1/3 cup squash mixture down the center of each tortilla; roll up. Place tortillas in a lightly greased 13x9 inch baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over tortillas. Cover and bake at 400 F for 25 minutes or until heated thoroughly. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and the tomatoes.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

RESERVATIONS = What I Made For Dinner This Week

No Joke. Last night was the first night I'd cooked in a week. Don't believe me?

Last Friday Night, August 8, I made breakfast for dinner. We had french toast, which used up some leftover french bread we had, bacon (from the freezer) and scrambled eggs. The recipes for these items are posted on Thursday, July 17.

Last Saturday Night, August 9, as per a request from my darling fiance, Brad, we had pigs in a blanket.

Pigs in a Blanket
8 bun length all beef hot dogs, cut in half
4 pieces American Cheese, folded in half on the diagonal
2 packages crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 375F. Place one triangle of cheese in the triangle end of the crescent roll. Place a hot dog half at the wide end of the crescent roll, and roll up. Put on a large cookie sheet. Repeat 15 times. Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until rolls are golden brown.

I served this particular delicacy with Ore Ida onion rings, baked in the oven per the package directions.

Last Sunday Night, August 10, I ordered Papa John's Pizza. One of the fund raisers I bought from a kid last year is a discount card, and on it is buy one get one free large pizzas from Papa John's.

This past Monday, August 11, was my first day back to school. We had Chinese Buffet for supper.

Tuesday was the day before the official "First Day of School." We went to a very yummy restaurant in Wentzville called West Allen Grill. They have nightly specials, which are delicious and very inexpensive. Tuesday night is Porterhouse Steak night, which include a porterhouse steak, a salad and a side for the low, low price of $13.99. Wednesday is Ribs and Thursday is Prime Rib. All are delicious.

Wednesday, the first day of school, was EXHAUSTING. I actually fell asleep at the stoplight on my way home. I realized I was in dire need of a nap, so when I got home, around 6, I set my alarm clock for 7. This was an unreasonable expectation, so I reset it for 7:30. I woke up to Brad at 11, very upset because I hadn't called or answered the phone for several hours and he thought something was wrong. I woke up for about 2 hours... long enough to make us both a grilled cheese sandwich and a can of tomato soup, do a few chores. I went back to sleep around 1. I did, however, use some supplies, as the can of tomato soup was from the cupboard. Do I need to post the recipe for grilled cheese? Really? There are whole cookbooks devoted to grilled cheese, so I guess perhaps I should.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich (as I made it on Wednesday)
2 pieces cheap wheat bread
2 pieces American cheese
1 piece Swiss cheese

Turn stove to medium. Lightly butter one side of each piece of bread. Place the buttered side of one piece of bread face down in the skillet. Layer cheese on top. Place the other slice of bread on top, buttered side face up. Cook until first side is golden brown. Flip. Cook until other side is golden brown and cheese is melty.

As for the soup, I made it on the stove top per the package directions.

Thursday, August 13, Brad brought home Sonic from work. We each had a popcorn chicken, and I had a mixed root beer float.

Friday, August 14, Brad brought home Taco Bell. I fell asleep minutes before he walked in the door, so I had my Taco Bell reheated the next day.

... which leads us to Saturday's Pot Roast...

I have two Eye of Round Roasts of approximately 2 pounds each in the freezer. I have no idea what one does with an Eye of Round Roast, but it looked really good when I bought it. After doing careful research, I realized it is a crock pot cut of meat.

Pot Roast
2 lb. Eye of Round
1 envelope dry french onion soup mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup

Place all three ingredients in the crock pot. Cover. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 8-12 hours. (I cooked on low).

This recipe makes its own gravy. The meat was pretty tender because it had cooked all day, but I think I still prefer my usual cut of meat for pot roast, which is chuck roast. I just trim the fat off and toss it in the crock pot with the same ingredients listed here. I think it is even more tender and delicious.

I served the pot roast with some instant mashed potatoes from the pantry and a tube of french bread. It is a whole loaf of french bread squished into a tube, like biscuits and crescent rolls, etc. They are in the refrigerated section at the grocery store.

I used the roast from the freezer and the potatoes from the cupboard. (And I cooked for the first time in a week. Tonight, I think we are having chicken enchiladas -- though that depends on if I go to the store to get tortillas... Either way, I have chicken defrosting.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

From the Request Line...

Seafood Fettuccine
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped green onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled
1 pound sea scallops
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 pound lump crab meat, shell pieces removed
3/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese
8 cups hot cooked fettuccine (about 1 lb. uncooked pasta)

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic; saute 1 minute or until tender. Add shrimp and scallops; saute 3 minutes or until done. Reduce heat to medium-low.

Add half-and-half, salt, pepper and crab meat; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring constantly (do not boil). Gradually sprinkle cheese over seafood mixture, stirring constantly; cook one minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat. Combine pasta and seafood mixture in a large bowl. (Initially, it looks kind of runny. After standing for a few minutes, the pasta will absorb a lot of the liquid).

Friday, August 8, 2008

...all to not waste...

Have you ever wanted really badly not to waste some sort of food item, only to use a lot more ingredients and realize it actually would've been cheaper in the long run to let the original ingredient go bad? I first learned this with canned pumpkin. My favorite pumpkin cookie recipe requires 1 cup of packed canned pumpkin. A can of pumpkin has just under 2 cups in it. What does one do with 1/2 can of pumpkin? I don't know either, so I double the recipe to avoid throwing away a perfectly good can of pumpkin. Instead of wasting 1/2 can of a $.99 can of pumpkin (or worse yet, SAVING it, only to have it get lost in the fridge and resurface months later as a science experiment), I use twice as much flour and sugar and oil to create well over 100 pumpkin cookies. Even teachers won't eat 100 pumpkin cookies before they get stale, so if I have to throw any away, I've now wasted ALL of the ingredients and my time.

Enter the head of broccoli. I bought a head of broccoli at the grocery store last week, and knew I needed to use it up. I wanted to use it in a main course, because it would take us a week to eat that much broccoli as a side dish. What main courses include broccoli? Beef and Broccoli. Yum! (out of soy sauce). Stir fry - Yum! (out of soy sauce) Broccoli cheese soup - Yum. (the heat index today was close to 100) Broccoli casserole... includes cream of mushroom soup and Velveeta cheese. Also, as an extra added bonus, most recipes actually call for frozen broccoli rather than fresh. That just contains too many processed ingredients for me. I found a recipe for lemon broccoli risotto. It was tasty, don't get me wrong. It was darned tasty, even. But check out how many other ingredients I used NOT to let $2.50 worth of broccoli go to waste...

Broccoli and Lemon Risotto
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 large sweet onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup dry white wine (I used Yellow Tail Chardonnay)
4 cans chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups cooked broccoli florets
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until translucent. Add lemon juice, wine and 1 can chicken broth. Let simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until rice absorbs most of the liquid. Add another can of chicken broth. Repeat this step twice more. When most of the liquid has been absorbed from the last can of chicken broth, add the cream, cheese, broccoli and salt and pepper. Stir well. Let simmer another 5 minutes before serving.

I used arborio and chicken broth out of the pantry, and the broccoli didn't go to waste, but in an effort to not waste produce, I chopped onions and garlic, and spent 45 minutes making a rice dish that also included relatively expensive ingredients such as cream and Parmesan cheese. But gosh darn it, I used that broccoli... My grandmother would be so proud.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

White Queso Dip

My friend Laura got me hooked on the white queso dip served at all the local Mexican restaurants. As I don't love Mexican food, and therefore don't thoroughly enjoy eating at Mexican restaurants, I have been trying to emulate the dip. Tonight's experiment proved to be another dissimilar, albeit tasty, attempt.

Mexican Queso Dip
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons flour
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
1 4 oz. can diced chilies , drained
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 oz. Monterrey Jack cheese, grated
1/2 cup heavy cream

Melt butter. Saute onions in butter until translucent. Add flour and stir for about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, chilies and salt, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cheese and stir until melted. Pour in cream, and stir vigorously for 2 minutes.

Serve warm with Tostidos...

It was good. It used a can of tomatoes and a can of chilies from the pantry. It was nothing like the kind they serve at El Maguey (Pronounced correctly, I think, is El Ma' Gway, but a girl I went to grad school with pronounced it El Ma' Gooey and so every time I think of that place I think El Ma Gooey'. What is funny about the situation is she actually thought that was how you pronounced it...) Mine was a lot thicker than theirs and less spicy. It was also kind of pink, and the kind at the restaurant is not pink, but rather white. I think next time I will leave out the flour and the tomatoes, and perhaps add some cumin and maybe some chili powder. Also, it lacked garlic. All food needs garlic. Unless it has chocolate in it -- that would be a bit weird.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Date Night Dinner

I have really been loving the Chesapeake Bay Seasoning from Penzey's ( According to the container, it is a mix of paprika, salt, mustard, celery, ancho, black pepper, red pepper, dill, caraway, allspice, horseradish, cardamom, thyme, ginger, bay, mace, cinnamon, savory and cloves. I have found that overdoing it makes the dish too salty, but I have been rubbing it on seafood lately, and it is very, very good.

For supper tonight, we had shrimpcargo, salmon, Au gratin potatoes, stuffed zucchini, fresh tomato and mozzarella salad, garlic bread and peanut butter pie.

Shrimpcargo (Recipe from my friend Amber... published at
1/4 cup butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 peeled and deveined large shrimp (21 to 25 per lb)
6 mushrooms, stems removed
2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Heat the butter and garlic in a skillet over medium heat until the butter begins to bubble. Stir in the shrimp, and cook until they just turn pink, about 3 minutes.

Divide the cheese evenly and stuff into the mushroom caps. Drizzle a spoonful of the butter/garlic mixture into each mushroom, on top of the cheese. Place one shrimp on top of each mushroom cap. Drizzle any remaining butter mixture over the top of the mushrooms.
Bake in the preheated oven until the mushrooms are tender and the cheese is golden and bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve with bread to mop up any remaining garlic butter goodness.

For the salmon, I just rubbed it with the Chesapeake Bay Seasoning and baked it in the oven until it flaked, about 20 minutes. I also made a dill sauce. The recipe for that is posted on July 31 under "Post Boating Meal." The fresh tomato salad and garlic bread recipes have also been posted previously.

Au Gratin Potatoes (or as Brad says, "Old Rotten Potatoes")
5 medium sized potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 small onions, thinly sliced
1 cup sharp cheddar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, in
seasoned salt

Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a square baking dish with cooking spray. Put down a layer of potatoes. Spread 1/2 of onions over potatoes and 1/2 of cheese over onions. Sprinkle lightly with seasoned salt. Put down another layer of potatoes. Spread the remaining onions and cheese over potatoes. Sprinkle lightly with seasoned salt. Cover with another layer of potatoes. Pour milk evenly over the top layer of potatoes. Sprinkle salt and pepper generously. Evenly space pieces of butter over the top. Cover with foil and bake for about 1 hour. Stick a fork in the middle after about an hour. When the potatoes feel like the texture you would enjoy eating, they are finished. You can also cover them with saran wrap and cook them in the microwave. I begin by cooking in 7 minute increments. As it gets closer to done, I decrease the time.

Stuffed Zucchini

1 medium zucchini
1 8 oz. package fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup white wine (I used Yellow Tail Chardonnay)
1/8 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup 6 cheese Italian blend

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Cut ends off of zucchini, and then cut in half horizontally once and the vertically once, to get 4 pieces.

Cut or scoop pulp out of the center of the zucchini. Set shells aside. Chop pulp. In a nonstick skillet, saute the zucchini pulp, mushrooms and onion in butter for 3-4 minutes or until tender. Add wine. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes or until liquid has evaporated. Stir in salt and pepper, breadcrumbs and cheese. Stir until mixed well. Stuff 1/4 of the stuffing mixture into each shell. Place in a baking dish, and bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on desired doneness of zucchini.

Peanut butter Pie (from, modified)

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 (8 ounce) package frozen whipped topping, thawed
4 Reeses Peanut Butter Cups candies (2 packages containing two each)
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust

Beat together cream cheese and confectioners' sugar. Mix in peanut butter. Beat until smooth. Fold in whipped topping.

Spoon into graham cracker pie shell. Chop candy and sprinkle over the top of pie. Cover and freeze until firm. Store in freezer.

Dinner was really yummy, and used lots of ingredients I had on hand. When I ran to the store, the only items I needed to buy were 6 whole button mushrooms, tomatoes, french bread and cool whip. I bought the zucchini at the grocery store last week after boating, and I had sliced mushrooms in the fridge that needed badly to be used. I opened the package of fresh mozzarella a few days ago, so it was getting near the end of its life. I despise throwing away food, yet I seem to always have something go bad. I was pretty proud of how I used exactly the ingredients I needed to use.

As for the challenge, I used salmon and shrimp from the freezer and peanut butter and pie crust from the pantry. Somehow it seemed like I used more ingredients than that when I was cooking...

It was very very tasty.