Monday, December 21, 2009

Peak Pancake

From Susie Demers

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup flour
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Powdered sugar
Fresh berries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place butter in 9 inch glass pie pan* and melt butter in oven. In blender or food processor, combine milk, flour, eggs, salt and vanilla and process until smooth. Remove pan from oven and increase temperature to 425 degrees. Pour batter into pie pan and return to oven. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce temp to 325 degrees and bake another 8-10 minutes. Invert on serving platter. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with fresh fruit or cooked fruit sauce.

*I tried it in a bundt pan because I thought it would be beautiful to have the ring shape. The bundt pan did not work out so well. It stuck horribly so I ended up with a pile of peak pancake instead of a nice round shape.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Winter Chopped Salad

Our friend, Dina Jones, brought this salad to our Harvest Party a week ago. I enjoyed it SO much and have been thinking about it ever since I ate it, wanting more! Yes, it's THAT good! The recipe is from the book, Seriously Simple Holidays by Diane Rossen Worthington. This would be a great dish to take to a party, serve your family for dinner or as a first course at a big family dinner. The flavors mesh so well together and the dressing is subtle but delicious. This salad makes quite a bit so you might need to adjust the size if you have a smaller group to feed.

Serves 6 as a first course or 8 as a main course (I think it really serves much more than that!)


1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

1 head radicchio, cored and finely chopped (the red lettuce)
2 heads romaine lettuce, light green and white leaves only, finely chopped
1 1/4 pounds cooked chicken breasts, skin & bones removed and cut into 1-inch dice (about 3 cups)
1 Fuji, Gala, or Pink Lady apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup candied pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup crumbled blue or fresh goat cheese
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

1. Make the dressing: in a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, honey, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Taste and adjust seasonings.

2. Place the radicchio, romaine, chicken, apple, cranberries, nuts and cheese in a large salad bowl.

3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Sprinkle with pepper (if desired) and serve.

Advance preparation:
Make the dressing up to 2 days ahead, cover, and keep at room temperature. Whisk well before using. Make the salad up to 4 hours ahead, cover, and refrigerate.

The Clever Cook Could:
* Substitute 3 cups diced cooked turkey for the chicken
* Add 6 strips of bacon, fried until crisp and crumbled.
* Omit the chicken and serve the salad as a first course
* If you're not a fan of chopped salad, tear the leaves into bite-size pieces instead of finely chopping them.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Simplest Roast Turkey

If you would like a GOOD, simple and FAST Turkey recipe for the holidays, please try the one below. It makes one of the tastiest, juiciest turkey's that I've ever had and it only takes 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours to cook!!

From Gourmet Magazine (found by Laurie Reynolds)

1 turkey, 14-16 pounds
2 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp black pepper

Note: You must start with a clean oven or be sure. If you don't have a clean oven the fire alarm will let you know when the turkey is really getting there! If you don’t want to hear “from the turkey” then clean your oven before beginning!

Put oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry. Mix salt and pepper in small bowl and sprinkle it evenly in turkey cavities and all over skin. Fold neck skin under body and, if desired secure with metal skewer, then tuck wing tips under breast and tie drumsticks together with kitchen string.
Put turkey on rack in a large flameproof roasting pan. Roast, rotating pan 180 degrees halfway through roasting, until thermometer inserted into fleshy part of each thigh (close but not touching bone) registers 170 degrees, 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours. Carefully tilt turkey so juices from inside large cavity run into the roasting pan. Transfer turkey to a platter and let stand 30 minutes (temperature of thigh meat will rise to 180 degrees. Cut off and discard string from turkey.
Makes 8-10 servings. (I have used larger turkeys up to 20 pounds and they turned out fine, just adjust cooking time and watch temp.)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Grilled Baked Potatoes

I love baked potatoes but hate how long they take to cook. I came across this recipe at and loved it. Grilling them makes the skins so crispy and flavorful.

4 baking potatoes (2 lb.)
1 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup Real Bacon Bits

HEAT grill to medium-high heat.
PIERCE potatoes with fork or small sharp knife. Rub with oil; sprinkle with salt.
MICROWAVE potatoes on microwaveable plate on HIGH 8 min. or until tender, turning after 4 min. Place on greased grate of grill. (you can also wrap them individually in foil before grilling, but the skins will be less crispy)
GRILL 12 to 15 min. or until potatoes are crisp and lightly browned, turning occasionally. Split potatoes. Serve topped with remaining ingredients.

An-Jell-o Food Cake

This is a family favorite on my husband's side, and he always asks for it for birthdays. It is super easy so I never complain!

1 angel food cake, baked (store-bought is just fine!)
1 3 oz. pkg Jell-o (we always use strawberry but other flavors would be great too)
1 8 oz tub Cool Whip, thawed

Slice cake in half horizontally. Fold Jell-o mix into cool whip until blended. Spread 1/3 of the Cool Whip mixture over bottom layer of cake, cover with top layer. Frost top and sides with remaining Cool Whip mixture. Better if refrigerated a couple hours but can also be eaten immediately. Garnish with fresh berries, if desired.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Garlic Cheese Spread

I just had to ask my sister for this recipe again because I misplaced mine. If you love cheese and garlic, you will LOVE this!! It is a delicious cheese spread and great for parties and entertaining.

1/2 lb parmesan, block
1/2 lb Asiago cheese, block
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil (you can lessen this a little)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Remove any rind from the cheeses and chop the cheeses into rough 1 inch chunks. Place in food processor with the garlic, oregano and red pepper. Pulse until reduced to the size of fine pea gravel. Stir in the olive oil and black pepper and pulse again. Cover and let stand at room temp for at least 4 hours before serving.

You can refridgerate this but it is best served at room temperature because the olive oil tends to solidify in the fridge. Serve with triskets or sliced breads.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Chicken Parmesan

3 chicken breasts
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp chives
1/2 tsp rosemary (crush if possible)
1/8 tsp tarragon
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp lemon juice
3 T mayonnaise
3 T mustard (Dijon or regular)

Breaded Topping:
1 T parsley
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp thyme
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Combine chicken and marinade in one bag. Mix well. Mix breaded topping in seperate bag. Can freeze at this point if you'd like to save it for a future meal. When you're ready to cook, coat chicken in breaded topping. Lay in pre-greased baking dish and spray heavily with cooking spray oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until cooked through.

Serve with rice or mashed potatoes and a vegetable dish.

Creamy Chicken Hot Dish

From Joy Zeller

2 celery ribs, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 T butter or margarine
1 to 1 1/2 cups real mayonnaise
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups cubed cooked chicken
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup crushed potato chips

In a small skillet, saute celery and onion in butter. Place in a bowl; add the mayo, soup, peas, lemon. Stir in chicken and rice. Transfer to a greased 7x11 in baking dish (or two smaller dishes). Sprinkle with potato chips. Bake, uncovered for 25-30 minutes until heated through.

Beef Burgundy

From Katie Laven

2 lbs stew meat
1 cup burgundy wine
1 pkg onion soup mix
2 cans golden mushroom soup

Cook all day in slow cooker
30 minutes before serving, add 8 oz sour cream

Slow ‘n’ Easy Barbecued Chicken

From Joy Zeller

¼ cup water
3 T brown sugar
3 T white vinegar
3 T ketchup
2 T butter
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground mustard
½ tsp cayenne pepper

1 broiler/fryer chicken 2 ½ - 3 lbs, cut up and skin removed.

After cooking:
4 tsp cornstarch
1 T cold water

In a small saucepan, combine the first 11 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Place the chicken in a 3 qt slow cooker. Top with sauce. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours or until juices run clear.

Remove chicken to a serving platter and keep warm. Strain cooking juices and skim fat. Transfer to a saucepan. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth then stir into juices. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Spoon some of the sauce over chicken and serve the remaining sauce on the side.

Yield: 4 servings.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Italian Styled Pork Chops

From the Kitchen of Megan Camp

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together: (All of these are approximates. Do what looks right to you.)
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon garlic powder or crushed garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1/8 cup parmesan cheese

Pork chops (as many as you're planning on serving. The mixture above will make enough for about 3-6 pork chops)

Wash and pat dry pork chops. *Dip in flour mixture and fry for 2-3 minutes in a skillet with a little oil. I always sprinkle a little more flour mixture onto the pork chops once they’re in the pan. Flip and fry on the other side.

Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil and place pork chops on cookie sheet. Sprinkle remaining flour mixture over top of each pork chop. Put about 1 tablespoon of grated Italian cheese and parmesan cheese on top of each pork chop. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Bake in oven for about 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and meat is done. The pork chops should be moist, tender and full of flavor. Serve with applesauce if desired.

*If you’d like, you can dip the pork chops in a beaten egg before placing in the flour mixture. I tend to skip this step and it still works out great.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Easy Artichoke Pizza

This is from Pampered Chef, and reminds me of artichoke dip on a pizza. I thought I was taking a bit of risk making it since it's a little different from typical pizza, but my husband and I both loved it. It is another dish I am sharing with our cooking group. I made the topping, froze it in a ziploc, froze the remaining cheese and Italian seasoning separately, and am giving each person a frozen Boboli crust to top when they're ready to eat it.

1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped (be sure they're not marinated, as that will add a little more flavor than necessary)
1/2 cup pitted ripe olives, sliced
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided (shredded works fine as well)
zest of 1 lemon, finely chopped, or 1-3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/3 cup mayo
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 pkg. refrigerated pizza crust (which I don't really like, so I used a Boboli crust instead)
2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced (I'm just leaving these out of the portions for our cooking group, as they don't freeze well)
1 tsp. Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 425. Combine artichokes, olives, 1/4 cup cheese, lemon zest, mayo and garlic, mix well.

If using refrigerated crust, unroll and shape/roll with rolling pin into a circle. Spread artichoke mixture evenly over crust to within 1/2 inch of edge. Cut tomato slices in half; arrange over pizza. Sprinkle with seasoning mix and remaining cheese.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown. Remove from oven; let stand 10 min. Yield 16 servings.

Baked Jambalaya

This is one of the dishes I am bringing to this month's cooking co-op that Megan has mentioned previously. I checked out the book Once a Month Cooking from the library to get some more recipes that freeze well. This came from there.

3 Tbsp. real bacon bits
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 Tbsp. green onions, chopped (tastes fine without)
1/2 pound cooked kielbasa, sliced
1/2 pound cooked diced ham
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (I added more)
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can beef broth
1 1/2 cups uncooked long grain white rice

Mix together in a large mixing bowl all ingredients except rice. If freezing, pour into freezer bag, label and freeze. To prepare, thaw, add rice, and place in greased 9x13" baking dish. Cover and bake at 375 for 1 hour or until rice is tender. Uncover and stir before serving. Makes 8-10 servings.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Daniel's Multi-Grain Dinner Rolls

My brother-in-law created this dinner roll recipe when my sister was diagnosed with gestational diabetes last week. This recipe is low-glycemic, high fiber. I haven't tried them, but Daniel is a very good cook and chose to post his recipe online (see the post here), so I think it is safe to assume that they're good!

Daniel’s Multi-Grain Dinner Rolls

Makes approximately a dozen rolls

¾ cup warm water
1 packet yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
½ cup unbleached flour
½ cup rye flour
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp vital wheat gluten
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 egg, beaten

Mix the water, yeast, sugar and unbleached flour. Let this mixture sit in a warm environment for about 20 minutes, until it becomes light and frothy. (This is the proofing sponge.) Add the remaining ingredients and mix well, then knead for ten minutes or so. Let rise for about an hour. Split dough into twelve equal parts, then split each of those parts into three. Roll each part into a little ball, and place three balls side-by-side into each cavity of a muffin pan. Let rise for at least another 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400° F, and bake for 15 minutes.

Approximate nutrition information per roll:
140 calories
3.6 g fat
87 mg cholesterol
220 mg sodium
19 g total carbohydrate
2.5 g dietary fiber
1.1 g sugars
5.8 g protein

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Banana Crumb Muffins

I found this recipe on, but made some alterations based on some of the reviewer suggestions. I'm listing the recipe as I made it:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (can make muffins with just 1-1/2 cups regular flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp cold butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease 12 regular-size muffin cups or line with muffin papers.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg, oil and vanilla. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tbsp flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two forks until mixture resembles course crumbs. Sprinkle topping over muffins and pat lightly.

Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Spicy Chicken Tomato Soup

This recipe was on a friend's blog, and I adjusted it just a little to suit the time I had and my family's tastes. I'll give you the recipe I made (since that's what I KNOW tasted good!) and give her alterations as optional.

2 cans chicken broth (or 4 cups made from bouillon)
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked & cubed
2 cups frozen corn
1 8oz can tomato sauce (or 6oz can tomato paste if you want more tomato flavor)
1 10oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 med onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin (or 1-2 tsp if you like things HOT)
1/2 tsp chili powder (or 1 tsp for more heat)
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Tortilla chips
Sour cream

Combine all ingredients except for tortilla chips and sour cream in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Serve with tortilla chips and/or sour cream.

(Her original recipe had this mixture cooked in a slow cooker on low for 4 hours and served over rice. I would imagine cooking it that long might make it thicker, and therefore a better option for serving over rice. I didn't have that kind of time, and I think I like this tortilla soup better. I'm sure either way would be delicious!)

Optional recipe for homemade tortilla strips:
4 white corn tortillas (6 inches), cut into 1/4" strips
Place tortilla strips on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 5 minutes; turn. Bake 5 minutes longer.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Stacy's Brownies-Rich, homemade brownies

In college, I used to go to a Friday night Bible Study each week. One of the girls who came to the study was Stacy. Stacy frequently brought homemade quickbread or brownies. Both were super delicious and both would be gone within minutes usually. These brownies are super rich but also super delicious. If you want a special treat, make this recipe. I've never had better.

Stacy's Brownies
1 cup flour
2 cups sugar
9 tablespoons cocoa
pinch salt
3 eggs
1 cup melted butter
Mix all ingredients together
Add 1 bag chocolate chips
Bake 20-25 mins

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Overnight Egg 'n Sausage Strata

I had this dish at one of our MOPS breakfasts and it was so yummy, I asked for the recipe. I just received it so here it is! This is the healthy version as it came from my friend, Cheryl. It includes her tips and changes. Obviously, it's a very flexible dish so make the changes you want!

4 cups slices of white bread, cubed (for a 9x13 I did about 2/3 of a loaf?)
8 eggs, slightly beaten
4 cups milk (low-fat)
2 cups grated cheese (2%, cheddar, Mexican cheese blend, mont jack, whatever - I think I only use 1 cup)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground dry mustard
1 roll Jimmy Dean sausage / reduced fat

Fry up sausage. Rinse in VERY HOT water using a collander, and then blot sausage inbetween paper towel layers. (this helps reduce fat even more)

In large bowl, mix eggs, milk, salt and mustard.

In greased 9x13 baking dish, sprinkle half of your bread cubes. Sprinkle a layer of sausage over cubes, and sprinkle with some cheese. Cover with the rest of your bread cubes and a little more cheese. Pour egg mixture over the bread cubes, trying to get all covered. Use a spoon to gently press down so all cubes soak up some liquid.

Refrigerate overnight.

Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes (it always takes longer than I expect due to altitude.)


cheryl may have to use less or more bread cubes.....I kind of don't really follow the recipe (smile!)......and sometimes make up more egg mixture if it doesn't look like I had enough. Good luck! Oh....original recipe calls for green peppers and scallions......but I left those out in case nursing / pregnant moms had problems with those!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pork Pozole

1 can yellow or white hominy, drained
1 can Mexican-style diced tomatoes
1 can mild green enchilada sauce
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. ground cumin (I'm not a cumin fan and leave this out - still tastes great)
1 1/2 lbs. boneless pork loin
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 T. lime juice
tortilla chips, diced avocado and lime wedges (key limes are especially tasty here) - optional

1. Combine the first six ingredients in a 4-qt. slow cooker. Top with pork, spooning hominy mixture over the meat. Cover and cook on high for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

2. Place pork on a cutting board. Add cilantro and lime juice to the slow cooker. Coarsely chop pork; return to cooker. Stir well and heat through. Spoon into shallow bowls. Serve with chips, avocado and lime as garnish. Makes 6 servings.

This recipe is from Parents magazine and is a far cry from the authentic Mexican version - but much easier, and still tastes delicious. I like it because you can use various cuts of pork loin, which are often on sale and very affordable, but come out of the slow cooker very tender.

Easy Stromboli

1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed
2 eggs, separated
2 T. oil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 oz. pkg. sliced pepperoni
8 oz. pkg. shredded mozzarella
1 T. grated Parmesan cheese

Roll out bread dough into a 12x15" rectangle; set aside. Combine egg yolks, oil, and spices; spread over dough. Arrange pepperoni and cheeses on top. Roll up; place seam-side down on a baking sheet. Brush with egg whites; bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with warm garlic butter or pizza sauce for dipping. Makes 8 servings.

We all love this recipe, and have experimented with different toppings, such as chopped veggies, Italian sausage, and Hawaiian (ham and pineapple - although for that one I leave out the oregano). In my oven, the stromboli is done after about 25 minutes, so watch it carefully.

Also, the trickiest part about this recipe is sealing the edge of the bread dough to prevent the toppings leaking out. I've tried moistening the edges with water, pressing with a fork, etc. Anyone have any ideas for this, or should I just get used to it? :)

This is one of the dishes I'm bringing to the cooking co-op I do with Megan, where we assemble and freeze dinners for each other. For this purpose, I followed the above directions, including baking (as I didn't want to re-freeze unbaked dough). But I left it slightly underbaked, so it won't get too brown when we take it out of the freezer and bake it again. I wrapped the stromboli tightly in aluminum foil, followed by Glad Press 'n Seal, and froze it. Megan or Joy, feel free to leave feedback on how it turns out when you do bake it!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Senate Bean Soup

2 cups dried navy beans (1 lb)
12 cups water
1 ham bone, 2 pounds ham shanks or 2 pounds smoked pork hocks
2 1/2 cups mashed cooked potatoes (with milk and butter)
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup) (I left this out and increased the celery, and it was still full of flavor)
2 medium stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1. Heat beans and water to boiling in Dutch oven. Boil uncovered 2 minutes; remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour.

2. Add ham bone. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer about 2 hours or until beans are tender

3. Stir in remaining ingredients. (The mashed potatoes won't really mix in at first, but after simmering they'll make the broth nicely smooth) Cover and simmer 1 hour.

4. Remove ham bone; remove ham from bone. Trim excess fat from ham; cut ham into 1/2-inch pieces. Stir ham into soup. Makes 12 servings, about 1 cup each.

I found this recipe in my Betty Crocker cookbook, which says it is served in the US Senate cafeteria every day. It's a delicious way to use up leftover Easter ham. I had fully cooked ham on hand, so I used that, but didn't add it until step 3.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sauerkraut Stew

This is a flexible stew that is apparently rather popular in Eastern Europe. I first had it at a restaurant in Old Salem, NC, and liked it so well that I looked up recipes online so I could make it for myself. This recipe is my own adaptation of several variations. One of my favorite things about this recipe is that nothing has to be measured exactly! I like to prepare it in a crock pot for convenience. This recipe is for a 5-6 quart crock pot.

2 lbs meat (I used beef stew meat and kielbasa, but have also made it with beef and pork - any combination will work)
6 medium-large white potatoes
1 lb Carrots
1 lb Sauerkraut
Seasonings, to taste
3-4 cups water

Cut the potatoes and carrots into bite-sized pieces and put into the crock pot. Spread sauerkraut over the carrots and potatoes. The sauerkraut can be drained and rinsed first, if preferred (I do not drain mine). Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces and brown it briefly on the stove. Add meat to crock pot. Add seasonings, to taste (I used black pepper, celery salt, celery flakes, freeze-dried chives and a vegetable bullion cube). Pour water over the meat to draw some of the seasoning down into the vegetables. Cook on low heat for 8-10 hours or on high heat for 4-5 hours. Stir and add water as necessary before serving. You can serve it with sour cream or prepared brown mustard for additional flavor and character.

Prep time is approximately 30 minutes.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spicy Italian Beef (Sandwiches)

1 boneless beef roast (3-4 lbs)
1 jar (12 oz) peperoncini
1 can (14 1/2 oz) beef broth
1 can (12 oz) beer
1 pkg. (1 oz) Italian salad dressing mix
1 loaf French bread, sliced thick
10 slices provolone cheese (optional)

Trim fat from roast. Cut if necessary to fit in slow cooker, leaving meat in as many large pieces as possible. Place in slow cooker.

Drain peppers, remove stem ends and discard. Add peppers, broth, beer and dressing mix to slow cooker; do not stir. Cover; cook on low 8-10 hours.

Remove meat from slow cooker; shred with 2 forks. Return shredded meat to slow cooker; mix well. Serve on French bread, topped with cheese, if desired. Add add'l sauce and peppers if desired.

Beef Porcupine Meatballs

Another dinner-exchange recipe from my friend Katie.

8 oz pkg beef Rice-a-Roni, divided
1 lb ground beef
1 egg, beaten
2 1/2 cups water
Prepared egg noodles

Combine Rice-a-Roni with beef and egg, setting aside seasoning packet from mix. Shape into small meatballs; brown on all sides in a skillet. Drain. Combine contents of seasoning packet with water; pour over meatballs. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30-40 minutes. Serve meatballs and sauce over cooked egg noodles. Makes 4-6 servings.

Pretzel-Crusted Chicken

Another dinner-exchange meal from Joy. Super easy and very tasty.

Cut chicken breasts in half and stuff with honey mustard and ham slices.
Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with crushed pretzels.*

Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees.

*To crush pretzels, place them in a baggie and roll over them with a rolling pin.

Chicken Enchiladas (These are SOOOO good!)

My friend's and I have started a dinner exchange where we get together and each cook two meals times three. When we're done, we each have 6 different meals to take home. Since many of the meals are on the larger side, we can often split the dishes and actually end up with more like 9-10 meals. The best part is, our families get to try new dishes that we've never had before and not only is it fun to get together to cook, but it's so much easier to make dinner on those days when I don't have time to make a full-meal.

The following recipe is from my friend, Joy. Both my husband and I enjoyed this dish so much and I will definitely be making it again (or maybe have Joy make it again). It is one of the best enchilada recipes I've ever tasted. It did freeze well but the tortilla's were a little softer than they would have been if it was made and cooked immediately.

Chicken (recipe doesn't say how much. Adjust to how many it's going to feed).
2 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup onions
4 oz can green chili peppers
3 oz cream cheese
1/4 tsp cumin
1 can cream of mushroom or chicken
8 oz. sour cream
Flour tortillas (I think she used the medium size)

Brown in saucepan: 2 tbsp butter, onions, 1 tbsp green chilis

Mix in bowl: cream cheese, 1 tbsp milk, cumin, cooked onion mixture and cubed cooked chicken.
Spoon into flour tortillas, roll and place in greased baking dish.

Mix in seperate bowl: 1 cup milk, cream of chicken/mushroom soup, sour cream & the rest of 4 oz. can of green chili peppers.

Pour mixture over tortillas. Cover with foil and bake @ 350 for 35 minutes.

Uncover, sprinkle with cheese & cook for another 5-10 minutes to melt the cheese.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Prawns in Coconut Milk

This is an Indian curry I was served by a Bengali friend in Bangladesh. It's a delicious curry and not very difficult to make.

1 1/2 lbs (750 g) large raw prawns
1 tablespoon ghee (butter) or oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 fresh red or green chilies, clit and seeded (optional)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
8 curry leaves
2 cups coconut milk
1 tsp salt
Lemon juice to taste

Wash prawns well. Shell and devein if liked, but some local cooks say the prawn should be in their shells, for they retain more flavor this way. (I would recommend shelling and deveining).
Heat ghee (butter/oil) and fry the oions, garlic and ginger until onions are soft but don't let them brown. Add chillies, turmeric and curry leaves and fry 1 minute longer. Add coconut milk and salt and stir while bringing to simmering point. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then add prawns and cook for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon juice to taste.

Dhal (Lentil Puree)

I went to Bangladesh for a month during college to help out at a school over there. While I was there, one of the Bengali teachers at the school had me and my host family over for dinner. She served us Prawns in Coconut Milk, rice and Dahl. If you're familiar with Indian food, you may know that Dahl is a staple of many Indian diets. It can be eaten as a main course or a side dish. I usually make it as a side dish with a curry & rice being our main dish. Dahl is delicious, healthy and very simple to make. My 14 month old loves it as a meal or a snack.

Here's the recipe as given to me from my Bengali friend:

Any type of lentils can be used for this, but red lentils or moong are the quickest cooking type and do not need soaking. (I was unable to find red lentils so I used green and they worked just fine).

250 grams lentils (This was about half of my 450 g bag)
1 1/2 tablespoons ghee (butter) or oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger (I've substituted powdered ginger but I'm sure fresh tastes much better)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
3 cups hot water
1 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp garam masala (see recipe on this site if you would like to make your own garam masala)

Wash lentils thoroughly, removing those that float on the surface. Drain well. Heat ghee (butter) and fry onion, garlic and ginger until onion is golden brown. Add turmeric and stir well. Add drained lentils and fry for a minute or two then add hot water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until lentils are half cooked. Add salt and garam masala, mix well and continue cooking until lentils are soft and the consistency is similar to porridge. If there is too much liquid, leave the lid off the pan to speed evaporation. Serve dhal plain or garnished with sliced onions, fried until deep golden brown. Eat with boiled rice, Indian breads or as a light meal by itself.

Dhal can be frozen and reheated well. It might get a bit mushier if reheated but it still tastes great. If reheating, add some water to the dish to rehydrate and so it won't burn while heating up.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

I've had a few people send me this recipe. I have yet to try it but thought I'd post it in case anyone's interested in trying it.

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again. Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts (high). The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cajun Sausage and Rice Skillet

This is a Cooking Light magazine dish, and I usually don't make their recipes because they're too involved for my cooking style! :) But this was a definite exception. Besides being light, it's delicious, easy, budget-friendly, a great source of fiber, and pleases both my husband and 2-year old daughter, no easy feat!! If different members of your family like different amounts of spice, you can leave out the Cajun seasoning, and add it individually.

I have made a few changes, but here is the original recipe and nutrition information: (Megan - you'll have to show me how to link things like you do, without the actual address - looks so much nicer!)

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup presliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (more or less to taste - I only use about 1 tsp., which is plenty spicy for us)
8 ounces andouille or turkey smoked sausage, sliced
1 cup Minute rice or Minute brown rice, uncooked
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans or cannelini beans, with liquid

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, garlic, Cajun seasoning, and sausage; sauté 5 minutes. Add rice to pan. Stir in broth and beans. Bring mixture to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir in salt. (Will be somewhat soupy. You can increase or decrease liquid if preferred) Makes 3-4 servings.

I just made this, and forgot to take a picture! But I will post some next time I make it.

Hungry Jack Casserole

1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
1/2 cup chopped onion (my husband doesn't like onion, and it works fine without)
1 can baked beans
3/4 cup barbeque sauce
2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 can refrigerated biscuits

Heat oven to 350. Brown meat with onion, drain. Add remaining ingredients except cheese and biscuits and place in casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Cut each biscuit in half and place on top of casserole. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese melts and biscuits are lightly browned.

This is soooo flavorful. I like it because it's easy to keep most of the ingredients on hand, and make when I can't think of anything else for dinner! I usually use Pillsbury Grands biscuits.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oven Pancakes

Growing up, we often had guests over on Sunday evening after church. This was a quick, easy and tasty dish that we often served our guests. I LOVE oven pancakes. I know there are other names for these as well but I'm not sure what they are. Enjoy this fast and tasty meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner. If you have leftovers, they do heat up well.

Place ½ (or maybe ¼) stick butter in 2 round cake pans* in preheating oven. 425-450 degrees.

In a blender mix together:
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
4 eggs

Once butter in pans is melted, pour half of the mixture in each pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Fruit Topping
½-1 bag of berries/fruit (my favorite is blueberries!)
Cornstarch (1 T/cup of liquid)

Mix about 1 T cornstarch with some water and a little sugar. Slowly add to fruit mixture…don’t add too much or it will become too thick. Cook until fruit is cooked through and you should end up with a nice semi-thick fruity sauce.

*If possible, it's better to use the shiny cake pans (not the non-stick ones). The edges of the pancakes can "grab" the sides better if it's NOT non-stick. They'll grow taller and turn out better overall. If you only have non-stick, it's okay to use them, they just won't have the really lovely, tall crust that they may have otherwise.

Mozzarella Chicken

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup butter
salt and pepper to taste
4 slices mozzarella cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour for coating
1 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup dry white wine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Place chicken breasts between 2 sheets of wax paper. Pound each to 1/4 inch thickness. Spread butter/margarine over the inside, then add salt and pepper to taste.
Place slice of cheese on breast, roll and close with toothpicks. Repeat with each breast. Dip rolled breasts in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Place coated breasts in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish.

To Make Sauce: In a saucepan, melt 1/4 cup butter and add garlic. Add wine and simmer all together. Pour sauce over chicken and bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes.

This is a yummy dinner! I haven't made it very often but I have enjoyed it each time I did make it.

Serving suggestions: mashed potatoes, broccoli, french bread

Monkey Bread

Every Christmas morning our family enjoys a breakfast of Monkey Bread and Eggs Benedict. This is a tradition that stems from my husband's childhood. It's pretty quick to make and sure tastes great.

From the Kitchen of Grandma Joyce Zachary

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

½ cup margarine
½ cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. water
2 (10 oz) cans Hungry Jack Biscuits

In small saucepan melt margarine. Coat bottom and sides of ungreased 12-cup fluted tube pan (or bundt pan) with 2 Tbsp of melted margarine. Sprinkle 3 Tbsp. of the nuts over bottom of pan.

Add remaining nuts, brown sugar and water to remaining margarine; heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Separate dough into 20 biscuits; tear or cut each biscuit into quarters and shape into a ball. Place ½ of the balls into the bottom of the pan. Drizzle half of the caramel sauce over balls. Repeat layers.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. (I’ve found it may even need 30-35 minutes but you may need to put some tinfoil on top to prevent the top from burning if you cook it this long). Invert immediately on a plate and remove from pan.

Optional Variation 1: sprinkle dough generously with cinnamon and add to each layer of dough.
Optional Variation 2: add 1 tsp or so of vanilla to the caramel mixture at the end of cooking. It really enhances the flavor and makes the monkey bread smell delicious.

The last time I made this recipe, I opted to make my own biscuit dough rather than buying store-bought. It turned out great and I actually liked the flavor of the dough better than the store-bought because sometimes I find their dough a little too salty. It also costs a lot less than spending nearly $6 on two tubes of refrigerated dough. If you’d like a good and easy biscuit recipe, I posted my recipe here.

Lemon Pecan Pork Chops

Serves 6-8

4 each 1" boneless pork loin chops
3T margarine
zest of 1 lemon
2-3 T lemon pepper
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 T finely chopped pecans
1 T garlic salt


Slice each pork chop into 2 cutlets. Dry on paper towels and sprinkle both sides with lemon pepper and garlic salt. Melt margarine in heavy bottomed skillet. Brown pork chops in hot skillet on each side till cooked. Remove from skillet and transfer to a serving platter and keep warm in 200F oven. Save pan with drippings. Meanwhile, zest lemon. Juice 3-4 lemons, then take lemon juice and de-glaze pan where pork chops were browned. Add zest. Stir till mixed. Pour de-glazed juice over pork chops in oven. (1/4 teaspoon on each) Be careful, the glaze is strong so just use a little. Sprinkle chopped pecans over pork chops. Serve warm with rice. The sauce tastes very yummy on the rice!

De-glaze: when you pour the lemon juice into the pan, the acid will easily peel up all the little brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Flavor, flavor, flavor!

Lemon-Dill Chicken

From the kitchen of: Kristin Jonas
Found in Betty Crocker’s Good & Easy Cookbook

¼ cup (1/2 stick) margarine or butter
6 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 1\2 lbs)
½ cup dry white wine or chicken broth (or one chicken bullion square with 1 cup hot water)
1 tbs chopped fresh or ½ tsp. dried dill weed
1 tbs. lemon juice
¼ tsp. salt
1 medium green onion, sliced (1-2 stalks)

(I usually double the ingredients for the sauce so I have enough—except for the salt—leave at ¼ tsp)

Melt margarine in large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken in margarine about 6 minutes, turning once, until light brown.

Mix wine, dill weed, lemon juice and salt; pour over chicken. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 10-15 minutes or until juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut. Remove chicken from skillet; keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat wine mixture to boiling. Boil about 3 minutes or until reduced to about half; pour over chicken. (I don’t usually do this part).

Sprinkle with green onion. Serve with rice.

Notes above are from Kristin. I'm not usually big on dill but I actually liked this recipe. It's super easy and quick to make as well.

Chipotle's Flavorful Basmati Rice

I am a fan of Chipotle and Q'doba restaurants. I love their burritos filled with so much flavor. This is just one aspect of what goes into the burritos but it really will liven your rice up. Make it for a side dish or as an ingredient in your own burritos.

1 teaspoon vegetable oil or butter
2 tsp. fresh cilantro
2/3 cup white basmati rice
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Lime

In a 2-quart heavy saucepan, heat oil or butter over low heat, stirring occasionally until melted. Add rice and lime juice, stir for 1 minute. Add water and salt, bring to a full rolling boil. At boiling, cover, turn down to simmer over low heat until rice is tender and the water is absorbed, about 25 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork.

[bahs-MAH-tee]Basmati is a long-grained rice, with a fine texture. It can be found in Middle Eastern and India markets, as well as some supermarkets.The source of this recipe is attributed to Chipolte's Executive Chef (and CEO), Steve Ellis.

My Notes:
I found this recipe on the internet somewhere. Sorry, it was awhile ago so I don't have the exact link. I use the ingredients listed above (except I buy Jasmine rice instead of Basmati because I can't buy Basmati around here) however, I make it in my rice cooker rather than in a saucepan.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Easy Garam Masala

1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Mix cumin, coriander, cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg in a bowl. Place mix in an airtight container, and store in a cool, dry place.

Originally found here on

Crockpot Chicken Makhani

If you know me personally, you may know of my love of Indian food. I LOVE Indian curries, breads, veggies and especially eating at Indian restaurants. Unfortunately, where I live, there are no Indian restaurants within at least 50 miles. I have a pretty good Bengali cookbook that I cook out of pretty frequently but I just stumbled upon THIS recipe two days ago and made it for dinner last night. It was amazing! My house literally took on the smell of an Indian restaurant as this was simmering in the crock pot. I started with chicken leg quarters frozen solid at almost 2:00 and four hours later, dinner was ready! This recipe came from Her notes are a little different than mine so feel free to get a different take on the same dish at her blog.

Crock pot Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (mine were frozen solid)
1 onion sliced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
4 T butter
15 cardamom pods (sewn together!)
2 tsp curry
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 can coconut milk (I used light)
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
2 T lemon juice
1 cup plain yogurt (to add at the end, I used fat free)

The Directions
Use a 5 quart or larger crockpot. Carefully sew together the cardamom pods using a needle and thread. You can put them in a little cheese cloth bundle, instead, if you have that in the house. Put chicken in crockpot, and add onion, garlic, and all of the dry spices. Plop in the butter and tomato paste. Add lemon juice and coconut milk. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4. The chicken should shred easily with 2 forks when fully cooked.Stir in plain yogurt 15 minutes before serving. Discard cardamom pods. Salt to taste, serve with white or brown basmati or jasmine rice.

My Changes
I used 1/2 an onion instead of a whole one. I don't think it makes a huge differences, I just needed my other half an onion for something else.
I used the full amount of butter but think I might leave it out next time or just use 1 T instead. At the end it's just floating on top anyways and it adds unnecessary fat.
My cardamom is crushed into a powder. I used a scant Tablespoon. I've never found whole cardamom pods and always just have to guess how much to use in a recipe. The scant Tablespoon tasted great.
I used the full amount of Cayenne pepper but will probably only use 1/4 tsp next time to make it a little less spicy for my husband.
As I haven't found garam masala in the store, I made my own using a recipe I found on I've included it at the bottom of the post as well.
I used about 3/4 of a can of coconut milk. If you don't have it, I don't think it'll ruin the dish. Just add more yogurt in it's place. I didn't have my coconut milk until right before I served it (Phil picked it up from the store on his way home). The recipe tasted great without it and cooked fine without it as well.

The Verdict
This is so flavorful and delicious. My husband thought the cayenne pepper was a little too strong. If you want flavor from the spices but not spicy, maybe only use a 1/4 tsp or none at all. If you like your food spicy, you might want to double the cayenne. I thought it gave it a little kick but it was not overpowering at all. If you make this, let me know what you think.

If there are any vegetarians out there, I would assume this would be great made with tofu, lentils or veggies. The flavors are so good.

Easy Garam Masala
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Mix cumin, coriander, cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg in a bowl. Place mix in an airtight container, and store in a cool, dry place.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Spaghetti Pie

1 cup ricotta cheese
6 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded

6 oz vermicelli, cooked and drained
1/2 clove garlic
1/4 cup butter (softened)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp dried basil

1/2 lb ground beef
3/4 lb Italian sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup white wine

To make crust, combine vermicelli with other "crust ingredients. Chop mixture with a knife and press mixture into a 10-inch pie plate.

To make filling, cook ground beef, Italian sausage and onion together. Drain fat. Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat thoroughly.

To assemble pie, spread ricotta cheese on "crust". Top with filling and cover with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown. I put a piece of foil under the pie while it's cooking since it sometimes drips.

You can make one really big pie or two smaller ones for a 3 person dinner each. They freeze really well.

Chicken Tetrazzini

This is a recipe from my Aunt Jennifer. Bekah just loves it and eats all that we will put on her plate. By the way, I tried just using 2 % milk instead of half & half and it totally didn't work. The sauce was way too thin.

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half and half (I often use whole milk)
4 cups cut-up cooked chicken
1 pkg (8 oz) spaghetti, cooked and drained
2 Tbsp sherry
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup sliced olives
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Put cooked spaghetti into a baking dish and set aside.

Heat butter in 3-quart casserole at medium-low for 2 minutes, or until melted: stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Gradually add broth and half & half (or milk): stir until smooth. Cook at medium 7-8 minutes, or until sauce is thickened: stir three tiems. Add Parmesan cheese and sir until melted. Add sherry and stir into sauce.

Add sauce to the spaghetti. Stir in chicken and olives. Top with grated cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Friendship Cookies

These are really yummy and super fast to make.

1 box of chocolate cake mix (2 layer size)
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/4 cup water
1 large egg
1 cup white chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients together, except for the chips. Then add the chips and mix. Spoon onto cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 min. Tops will appear cracked. Do not over bake. Let stand for 5 min on the cookie sheet, then move to wire racks. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

It takes about 5 min. to make the cookies and they taste awesome!!
I have tried several types of cake mix. The chocolate is definitely my favorite. The others are Ok too but not as good as the chocolate.