Friday, January 30, 2009

This Week in Dinner...

On Sunday night, I made a calamitous Beef Brisket. It was bad. It was very, very bad. I threw it away bad, and I don't do that. I don't remember what I had for supper on Monday, but I am sure it involved cheese. Tuesday night, I made Pasta Bake and Italian Bread from a tube. Wednesday night, I made BBQ ribs, and then I augmented the ribs on Thursday night by adding a box of Kraft Shells and Cheese from the pantry.

I just spent a considerable amount of time creating links for all of my recipes. I have previously posted the Pasta Bake recipe, so in order to get it, you need just click on "Pasta Bake" to the left. The link will take you to the post with the recipe. You might have to scroll down a bit, but it will be there. (Thanks, Luis, for the tutorial!)

BBQ Ribs - Slow Cooker Style
2-3 pounds pork spare ribs
1 large bottle BBQ sauce
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Trim the ribs of any excess fat, and cut into portions containing 4-5 ribs. Place the ribs in a large stock pot, and fill the pot with enough water to cover the ribs. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and cayenne. Bring water to a boil, and then allow to boil for 30 minutes on medium high heat.
Pour 1/2 of the BBQ sauce into crock pot, and turn to low. When ribs are finished boiling, place them in the crock pot, and cover with the remaining BBQ sauce. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What does a person do with pounds of apples?

Make apple stuff, apparently. I bought a bag of apples for $1 during one of the grocery stores' big "Lots of Stuff is $1" sale with the express intention of making an apple pie. Then, I bought another bag of apples a week later. I have no excuse or explanation for that one. When I finally sat down the other day to prepare my pie (s), I realized I had a handful of apples I had originally purchased to eat, as well. I had planned to make one apple pie, so I did. This is the only apple pie recipe I use, because it always turns out delicious, and I prefer the crumb topping to two pie crusts.

Apple Pie
1 (9 inch) pie crust
6 cups apples, cored, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons tapioca

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare pie plate with crust. Mix together apples, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour and tapioca. Mix well. Pour mixture into crust. In the same bowl, mix together brown sugar and flour. Cut the butter into the mixture until coarse crumbs form. Gently press the strudel mixture evenly onto the apple mixture. Bake in the preheated oven 25 - 35 minutes or until golden brown.

I still had 12 cups worth of sliced apples, though. I wanted to make some apple bread to freeze, but all of the recipes I could find called for butter, not oil. I like to substitute half or more of the oil with applesauce because it makes it lower in fat, but it doesn't work as well with butter. My brother found the recipe for an apple cake he wanted, but it called for caramel, and I didn't have any, and have been snowed in for several days, so that wasn't an option. I ended up making a second apple pie and tossing it in the freezer (precooked).

I also made an apple-cranberry crisp. This was great, because it used up some of the cranberries in the freezer, too!

Apple Cranberry Crisp
6 cups apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3/4 cup cranberries
1/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup quick-cooking oats
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray an 8 inch square baking dish with non stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together apples, cranberries, white sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Place evenly into baking dish. In the same bowl, combine oats, flour and brown sugar. With a fork, mix in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over apples. Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until topping is golden brown, and apples are tender.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Pesky Pork Loin I Procrastinated...

I got a pork tenderloin out on Wednesday night, but it was not defrosted enough by Thursday to marinade it. On Thursday night, I was too tired to deal with it, so I finally got around to marinating in on Friday night. I made it Saturday morning, and then packed it in Brad's lunch Saturday and Sunday. (I also ate it myself for dinner Saturday night!) I served this delicious pork loin with a box of Stove Top Pork Stuffing from the survivalist cabinet.

Marinated Pork Tenderloin
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons sherry (I use whatever white wine I have available, or chicken broth)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried minced onion
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pinch garlic powder
2 (3/4 pound) pork tenderloins

Place soy sauce, brown sugar, sherry, dried onion, cinnamon, olive oil, and a touch of garlic powder in a large resealable plastic bag. Seal, and shake to mix. Place pork in bag with marinade, seal, and refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours. (I usually stick it in the marinade the night before I want to make it for supper.)

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Place marinated tenderloins in dish. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until thermometer stuck in the middle of the pork reads 160 degrees F.

Allow to sit for a few minutes before slicing.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Thursday night everyone I know was having a bad day. My day was fine, but my empathy coffers were running over because I was really feeling it for my friends and family. As such, I made some pumpkin cookies as a pick-me-up for those who needed one. The recipe for these delicious and highly sought after treats can be found on the Friday, November 14 post (Pumpkin Cookies with Penuche).

Wednesday night, I made a blackberry pie. It was pretty good. Blackberries, have seeds, though, and I feel like there is a little something extra (and unwanted) if my dessert involves seeds. Also, I think I needed many more blackberries than I had, as each bite of pie featured about equal parts crust and fruit middle. However, given that I had pie crusts I needed to use and blackberries I needed to use, I would consider this a successful endeavor.

Blackberry Pie

2 pie crusts (Once again... I used Betty Crocker)
3-4 cups fresh blackberries (I only used about 2 1/2 cups... NOT ENOUGH!)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons tapioca
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons cinnamon/sugar mixture

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Fit bottom pie crust into a 9 inch circular pie plate. Mix blackberries, sugar, cornstarch, tapioca, lemon juice and cinnamon. Pour mixture into pie crust. Set second pie crust on top of fruit mixture. Seal crust edges together, and then sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over top of pie. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Feel Like Chicken Tonight...

...Like Chicken Tonight

Baked Chicken with Mushroom Sauce (from my Mediterranean Flavors cookbook, modified)

4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
salt and pepper

3/4 pound mushrooms, sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
Combine mushrooms and garlic and allow to sit together for a few minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Pat chicken breasts with salt and pepper to taste. Place on baking sheets, and bake in oven for 20 - 25 minutes or until juices are clear.
Meanwhile, heat butter and red pepper flakes in a large skillet on high heat until the butter is melted and sizzling, about 1 minute. Add the mushroom mixture and cook until the mushrooms are limp and have released their juices, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the wine and boil until reduced by half, about 2-3 minutes. Add the cream, chicken stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Stir in the cream cheese and cook until it has completely melted. Continue to cook over high heat until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat, and add Parmesan and Swiss cheeses, stirring until completely melted.
Serve sauce warm over chicken breasts.

Tonight for supper, I also prepared a box of Near East rice pilaf (from the survivalist cupboard) and some frozen green beans. It was really delicious, and there are enough leftovers for Brad and I both to take some for lunch tomorrow.

In other news, Brad and I went out for supper last night (it was his night to cook...) I had concession stand duty for NHS. I had two kids signed up to work, so I was just going to get them started and then leave. Unfortunately, though, one of the kids had to work (even though she signed up for concession stand duty MONTHS ago). Fortunately, though, as I was being informed of this, another kid volunteered to come work, so I was back to the original plan. Upon arriving at the concession stand, though, the kid who was originally scheduled to work said she needed to leave an hour and a half early because she had a lot of homework. As I am the adult in the student/teacher relationship, I of course stayed and worked the concession stand all evening with a girl who hadn't even planned on doing the duty at all...

...So Brad and I did not get to dinner until close to 9 pm. We went to a delicious restaurant called McGurks in O'Fallon. We've been there before, and we really like it because they have coupons on The coupon is for $25 off the purchase of $40 or more. Last night we ordered an AMAZING appetizer, which consisted of scallops baked in a garlic Parmesan cream sauce with smoked bacon, mushrooms and asparagus. YUM! I got an order of fish and chips, minus the chips plus mashed potatoes (didn't want all the fried chips in addition to the fried fish), and Brad ordered the "grande" size beef tenderloin with Cabernet sauce, Gorgonzola mashed potatoes and fresh steamed green beans and carrots, PLUS a glass of wine. Our total after the coupon? $24. It was marvelous. It was also nice to have a lovely date.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Introducing... Pictures!

Coffee Cake with Fruit Preserves
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup cold butter
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup fruit preserves/jam/jelly (I used
seedless blackberry jam)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and sugar; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 1 cup for topping. To the remaining crumb mixture, add the sour cream, baking powder, baking soda, egg and extract; beat until blended. Press onto the bottom and 2 in. up the sides of a greased 9-in. springform pan.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar and egg. Spoon into prepared crust. Top with preserves. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes or until filling is set and crust is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of the pan to loosen; remove sides of pan. Cool for 1-1/2 hours before slicing. Store in the refrigerator.

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.

I made the coffee cake for my riveting professional development meeting at work on Friday, and the cookies for Brad to take to work on Saturday. Deliciousness all around!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Contents of My Freezer

Any of you who have been around since the beginning know I began this blog because I needed to clean out my freezer and pantry, and was recording for posterity the manner in which I attempted that task. It is time to start over, because, once again, my freezer and pantry have reached survivalist capacity, and frankly that isn't a group of individuals with whom I want to be associated.

Last time Katie requested a list of the contents of my freezer so she could keep up on the progress as I posted recipes. I actually made a comprehensive list of what is in my freezer (and organized my freezer at the time), so Katie... this one's for you.

The Contents of My Deep Freezer
2 slabs pork ribs
3 pork tenderloin
5 portions (2-3 servings each) pork tenderloin chops
2 pounds bacon
3 tubes of Jimmy Dean sausage... two regular, one maple flavored
4 Italian sausage links
4 apple cinnamon sausage links (from our trip to Swiss Meats in Hermann, MO last Christmas)
1 package bratwurst

1 whole chicken
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
5 portions (serves 2-3) boneless skinless chicken breast

1 beef brisket
4 (1 pound portions) ground beef
2 hamburgers (From Omaha Steaks)
2 New York strip steaks
1 Polish Sausage Link
1 eye of round roast
1 large sirloin tip
2 chuck roasts

1 (3 pound) box Panko encrusted Tilapia
1 (2 pound) box shrimp scampi
3/4 pound raw, tail on shrimp
2 salmon steaks
1 fresh salmon fillet, frozen
1 pound fresh tilapia, frozen
5 jumbo scallops

2 pounds Butternut Squash Ravioli
2 pounds Brie and Garlic Ravioli
1 pound toasted cheese ravioli
1 pound cheese tortellini

1 Red Baron 5 cheese frozen pizza
1 Palermo Hearth Italian frozen pizza
1 Palermo Greek frozen pizza
1 California Pizza Kitchen BBQ chicken pizza for one
2 small boxes pizza rolls
1 box fried shrimp
1 small box TGIFriday's hot wings
1 large box potato boats
1 box Spanikopita appetizers

1 package Voila Chicken 3 Cheese Chicken meal
1 package Contessa Mongolian Beef
1 package Trader Joe's BBQ Chicken Terriyaki
6 pounds (yes POUNDS) pierogies
1 Marie Calendars individual chicken pot pie

2 packages Trader Joe's frozen naan
1 box Texas toast
1 package yeast rolls
3 packages English Muffins
1 box Pizza Amore Cinnamon sticks

2 boxes Betty crocker whole grain waffles
12 Jimmy Dean Sausage, eggs and cheese croissants
1 Bob Evans pouch sausage gravy

1 (2 pound) bag hash browns
1 bag crinkle cut french fries
2 bags sweet potato fries

11 bags frozen vegetables
4 small boxes frozen vegetables
at least 3 pounds frozen cranberries

2 pie crusts
3 (8 ounce) containers cool whip... 1 regular, 2 light
4 pounds butter

I am just one person.... This CANNOT be normal!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

For the third consecutive year, I have had my family over for lunch on New Year's Day. This year, my grandma and my aunt Jan and my cousin Jessie came as well. I love having people over, but because I live an hour away from everyone, I don't get visitors as often as I would like. We had a fantastic time, though, and here is what we ate...

Beef Barley Soup (From my New England Soup Factory Cookbook, modified)
3 pounds stew beef, cut into bite sized pieces (I buy it already cut up... from Aldi of all places)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
12 cups water
2 teaspoons kosher salt

3 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sized red onion, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, diced
3 portabella mushrooms, diced
1 (8 oz.) package sliced mushrooms, baby portabella or button
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 pound pearl barley (the only kind I could find was quick cooking, and it worked fine)
1 bottle burgundy or other fruity red wine
1 can tomato paste
5 (14 oz.) cans beef broth
2 bay leaves
5 generous dashes Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Place beef, vinegar, water and salt in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Drain. If not using right away, be sure to cover so the meat does not dry out.

Over medium-high heat, in a large stockpot, combine olive oil, garlic, onion, mushrooms, celery and carrots. Saute for 7 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the cooked beef, barley, wine, tomato paste, stock, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring every 15 minutes or so for at least 1 1/2 hours (The longer it simmers the more the water cooks off and leaves just the delicious flavor.) Remove from heat. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Add the Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.

*I actually made this last night, and reheated it, so I think by the time all was said and done, it probably simmered close to hours. It was a hit, though!

Potato, Bacon, and Chive Soup with Horseradish (From my New England Soup Factory Cookbook)
3 tablespoons butter
5 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 large red onion, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, sliced
8 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 (14 oz.) cans chicken broth
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 cup sour cream
2 cups half and half, light cream, heavy cream, 2% milk, or some combination therein
4 tablespoons bottled minced white horseradish
4 generous dashes Worcestershire sauce
4 dashes Tobasco sauce
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, melt butter over medium high heat. Add garlic, red onion and celery. Saute for 7 minutes. Add the potatoes and stir to coat with the butter and vegetables. Add chicken broth, onion powder and garlic powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are soft and tender, 30 - 35 minutes. (Be careful not to let all of the liquid cook out, or you will have a burnt mess...) When potatoes are soft, remove pot from heat.

Puree the potatoes. There are several ways to do this, depending on how many dishes you want to dirty and what kind of equipment you have.
1. Use an immersion blender. This is ideal, but I don't actually know anyone who has one.
2. Mash the mixture together with a potato masher -- this will get the job done, but will be the lumpiest option
3. Use a hand mixer. Be careful not to scratch up your nonstick pans, though
4. Place portions of the mixture in a blender, and blend until smooth

Add sour cream, milk product of choice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and Tobasco sauce. Mix well. Return pot to stove. Add salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 additional minutes. Garnish each serving with bacon, green onions, and sour cream, if desired.

I totally forgot to serve the green onions today, and no one complained! Otherwise, this was a big hit, as well.

Chicken with Wild Rice Soup
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
3 cooked, boneless chicken breast halves, shredded
1 package Uncle Ben's Original flavor quick cooking long grain and wild rice box

1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
2 cups heavy cream, light cream, half and half, or 2% milk, or some combination therein

In a medium pot over medium heat, combine broth, water and chicken. Bring just to boiling, then stir in rice, reserving seasoning packet. Cover and allow to cook on low for 20 minutes or so.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Saute for 7 minutes. Stir in contents of seasoning packet until mixture is bubbly. Reduce heat to low, then stir in flour, salt and pepper. Stir in cream, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth. Cook until thickened, 5 minutes.

Pour rice mixture into cream mixture, and stir until well incorporated. Cook over medium heat until heated through, 10 to 15 minutes. If it gets too thick, add milk or chicken broth to thin it out.

Rosemary Bread *My description of how to make this bread won't do you a whole lot of good if you don't already know how to make yeast bread... If you have questions, let me know.
1 cup warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
about 2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Pour warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast over water, and allow to sit for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, mix together oil, margarine and sugar. Pour in yeast mixture, and stir gently. Add flour to mixture gradually, until a sticky ball forms. On a well floured surface and with floured hands, knead the heck out of the dough. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and rosemary over the dough, and continue to knead until spices are incorporated throughout the loaf. Drizzle olive oil in the bowl, and coat the ball of dough. Cover bowl and put in a warm place for one hour. Punch down dough, and allow to rise for another hour. Shape dough, and place on a greased cookie sheet. coat the top of the loaf with olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake at 375 F until golden brown and crusty... about 25 minutes.

Cherry Pie
2 pie crusts... I used the Pillsbury kind, but if you want to make one from scratch, don't let me stop you...
2 (16 ounce) cans tart cherries
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter or margarine

Line a pie plate with first crust.

Drain cherries, reserving 1/4 cup juice. Mix cherries, juice, sugar, tapioca, extract, and salt; pour into the crust. Dot with butter. Top with second crust. Make sure to seal the edges of the crust tightly.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 55-60 minutes, or until golden brown. Sprinkle with sugar.