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