Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Change of address...

Well after over 6 months here at blogger we've decided to make the move over to Wordpress. I hope you like the new layout and find the blog easier to navigate! I think the search tool will be especially helpful. See you over there!


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Lettuce Wraps

Well we were finally able to get together all the right ingredients together to make this recipe properly. Last time I tried to make it I couldn't find ground turkey or water chestnuts (Super Target is somewhat lacking as far as groceries go, but it's so close and so convenient!) Tyler made this for us, I tend to shy away from all asian-inspired recipes. He makes all the stir frys for us, and come to think of it, all the fajitas too...couldn't really tell you why, that's just how we do it! I enjoyed this recipe, but it wasn't really rave worthy. Despite lots of cornstarch we just couldn't really get the liquid to thicken, so they were very messy and juicy lettuce wraps! We served them with rice to try to soak up some of the liquid. I think this is a good base recipe that could be tweaked to be made even better, I just don't really know how since I'm not very experienced with these kinds of dishes!

Ground Turkey Lettuce Wraps (from sparkpeople.com)


Ground Turkey, 4 patty (4 oz, raw) (yield after cook (remove)
Cabbage, fresh, 1 cup, chopped (remove)
Onions, raw, .5 cup, chopped (remove)
Carrots, raw, .5 cup, chopped (remove)
Waterchestnuts (water chestnuts), 0.5 cup slices (remove)
*Canola Oil, 1 1tsp (remove)
*Kikkoman Lite Soy Sauce, 4 tbsp (remove)
Teriyaki Sauce, 100 grams (remove)
Green Peppers (bell peppers), .5 cup, strips (remove)
Chicken Broth, .5 cup (8 fl oz) (remove)

Brown the ground turkey in 1tsp oil. Add onion, carrot, and pepper. Add sauces and chicken broth. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Add cabbage and water chestnuts, reseason if needed with more soy. The longer it simmers, the more flavor it will have.
Add 1T cornstarch slurry (with 1T water) if you'd like to thicken the sauce.
Serve with lettuce or rice.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Another new cookie recipe

The urge to bake struck me on Sunday afternoon but I didn't have any entire bag of anything sweet. I had partial bags of chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, coconut, and macadamia nuts. I remembered a yummy looking cookie recipe that called for coconut and with a bit of searching I found the original recipe I was looking for. Wow these cookies were delicious. One of my new favorites. I ate a few and took some to work and sent the rest to work with Tyler. That's a first, he's always resistant to take food to work, I think it's because he's shy and is worried the cookies will attract attention. I think he probably dropped the bag of cookies in the break room and ran, but there were none left at the end of the day so I presume they were a hit!

Coconut Nut Chipsters (original recipe from BakingBlonde's blog)

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
1 egg
1 2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup White Chocolate Chips
1 1/3 cup Coconut (lightly toasting is optional)
1 cup macadamia nut pieces (or other fave nut)

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugars and vanilla until light and creamy. Beat in egg. Slowly add flour mixture and mix just until combined. Gently fold in chips, coconut and nuts by hand just until combined.

Refrigerate dough for about 30 minutes to keep cookies from spreading. Form dough into balls using medium scoop and place on parchment lined baking sheets. Flatten dough balls with a fork.

Bake for 8-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on sheets for 2 minutes and transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

It doesn't get much easier...

Tacos. Why do we never make tacos? Why am I always trying to make complicated meals?! On the way home from church today I realized I was craving tacos, and since we spent the last of our October dining out budget at chick-fil-a the other night (mmmm I love you forever chick-fil-a) it was make tacos myself or let my craving go unfulfilled. Tyler actually made the tacos, while I watched 40 First Dates for the millionth time (oh how I love that movie!) Tacos are truly a 30 minute meal (if that).

Taco Seasoning I (from allrecipes.com)


  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


  1. In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container.

We cooked 1lb of ground beef, then drained the fat. Added 1/2 cup water with the taco seasoning and half a can of black beans. Let it simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes. Served with cheese, lettuce, and spicy guacamole. (FYI to KC area girls, the wholly guacamole can be found in the produce section and is on sale at HyVee this week, 1.87 each, and I used a coupon I clipped a couple of weeks ago for $1 off). On soft taco shells (heated the tortillas on the stove top for about 2 minutes each.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Blue Cheese Please

I love a good burger. My latest favorite burger place is Ted's Montana Grill, I'm especially fond of their blue cheese burger. Tyler always gets a salad there, weird, but he claims it's an amazing salad. We decided to recreate these burgers at home, it was quite simple and very tasty! To make this WW core friendly, use fat free blue cheese (or reduced fat and count the points, I think fat free cheese is terrible) and serve w/o a bun (obviously I did not follow my own advice!) And obviously count the points for the beer ;) Blue Moon is my favorite!

Blue Cheese Burgers (original recipe from allrecipes.com)


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1-1/2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons minced fresh chives
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 4 French rolls or hamburger buns


  1. In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, blue cheese, chives, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, salt, and mustard. Cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. Preheat grill for high heat. Gently form the burger mixture into 4 patties.
  3. Oil the grill grate. Grill patties 5 minutes per side, or until well done. Serve on rolls.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

cranberry hooty-whats?

You can't hide from it, Christmas will be here sooner than you think. I love the Christmas season, the baking, the buying, the family, the giving. It's all great. I plan on giving cookies and other baked goods to friends and co-workers this holiday season. I haven't figured out exactly what I'll make yet but I'm trying out some new recipes. One idea I really like is the "cookie in the jar" mixes you can put together. I already knew that they looked great, but I wanted to make sure they actually tasted good before handing them out to everyone I know! I'm glad I gave them a try because there were some things that needed tweaking. Also, Tyler loved them and I think these will replace the other cranberry white-chocolate cookie recipe I have used in the past.

Cranberry Hootycreeks (from allrecipes.com)


  • 1 cup + 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans


  1. Layer the ingredients in a 1 quart or 1 liter jar, in the order listed.
  2. Attach a tag with the following instructions: Cranberry Hootycreeks
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
    2. In a medium bowl, beat together 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until fluffy (Thanks to the advice of an allrecipes.com reviewer, I found out it takes 5-7 minutes in the electric mixer to get the butter, eggs, and vanilla to become fluffy). Add the entire jar of ingredients, and mix together by hand until well blended (If dough is dry and crumbly, sprinkle with a bit of water so it sticks together better, I also refrigerated the dough about 30 minutes before baking). Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets.
    3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges start to brown. Cool on baking sheets, or remove to cool on wire racks.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies (depending on how much dough you eat!)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Falafel Fun

Sorry for the serious lack of posting again. Tyler has been doing most of the cooking for us and we've been eating some tried and true meals, nothing new until last night. This recipe is from the "best of" Cooking Light magazine from last month. We love falafel but haven't really figured out a place where we could get the good stuff here in Kansas City. Next time I make this I'll experiment with other kinds of beans. I think black beans or garbanzo beans would be equally good. This was also a very fast meal to whip up, which is always nice on a busy day!

I don't count this as a Core recipe (but it could be if you used FF cheese, no chips, and ate it without a pita). On the Flex system it is 6 pts per serving, and the recipe makes 4 servings. If you are thinking about joining Weight Watchers I really encourage you do to it before the holiday season is in full swing, WW is a great program for learning portion control and having some accountability during the tough holiday season! I've lost about 7lbs in the last 3 weeks, so I am clearly a fan! I'm already down a pant size!

Southwestern Falafel with Avocado Spread (from Cooking Light)


1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I used pepperjack)
1/4 cup finely crushed baked tortilla chips (about 3/4 ounce)
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large egg white
1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil

1/4 cup mashed peeled avocado
2 tablespoons finely chopped plum tomato
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 (6-inch) pitas, each cut in half crosswise


To prepare patties, place pinto beans in a medium bowl; partially mash with a fork. Add Monterey Jack cheese and next 5 ingredients (through egg white); stir until well combined. Form into 4 (1/2-inch-thick) oval patties.

Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties; cook 3 minutes on each side or until patties are browned and thoroughly heated.

To prepare spread, while patties cook, combine the avocado, plum tomato, red onion, sour cream, lime juice, and salt. Place 1 patty in each pita half. Spread about 2 tablespoons avocado spread over patty in each pita half.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Husband chef

My husband is too good to me. I've been stressed and worn out the last few weeks working all day and then training at my second job at night. Plus I'm trying to change the way I eat and it's just so...tiring. Tyler volunteered to make dinner tonight plus he's been cooking for himself when I'm not here in the evenings. It's a fantastic arrangement :)

Tonight's dinner was pretty easy. We tried another recipe from Heather's Core blog and were very happy with it. I love me some mushrooms! And of course mashed potatoes, I can never have enough mashed potatoes. I could make them (and eat them) in my sleep at this point :) So glad they are a Core food!

Balsamic Chicken with Mushrooms

2 tsp canola oil
3 TBS balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 lb uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast (four 4-oz pieces)
2 c mushrooms, small, halved
1/3 c chicken broth
1/4 tsp dried thyme, crumbled

Heat 1 tsp oil in a nonstick skillet. In a medium bowl, mix 2 TBS vinegar, the mustard, and the garlic. Add chicken and turn to coat.

Transfer chicken and marinade to skillet. Saute chicken until cooked through, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to a platter and keep warm (We seem to be incapable of getting chicken to cook all the way through in a skillet, so we stuck it in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees after cooking it for 3 minutes on each side on the stove top).

Heat remaining tsp of oil in skillet. Saute mushrooms for 1 minute. Add broth, thyme and remaining TBS of vinegar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are deep brown, about 2 minutes longer.

Serve chicken topped with mushrooms.

Serves 4 (each serving contains 1/2 tsp healthy oil)

Pumpkin lures me out of my baking hiatus

Well, I successfully went one month without baking. It was a long month, lol. I feel like I've gotten ahold of my compulsion to bake bake bake and eat eat eat. I'm trying to cut back to just doing it for special ocassions and focus on baking for others. This week we are celebrating a birthday at work as well as the first day of our new boss. I volunteered to make cornbread and pumpkin bars. I'm still trying to choose the perfect cornbread recipe but I made the pumpkin bars this afternoon. I just tried one and they are great! Thanks to bakingblonde for sharing her aunt's recipe with me. I made one batch for my sister and my parents and then I made a double batch in a 9x13 pan to take to work and share. These squares are not as fluffy as a sheet cake, but not as dense as a cookie bar or brownie. Somewhere in between I guess you'd say.

Pumpkin Squares
1/3 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves (I didn't have any cloves so I went without, but I'm sure it would add a great kick)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Cream cheese frosting (I used store bought instead of making it from scratch)
Chopped walnuts (I used candy corn instead, it's so festive! The candy corn pumpkins would have been fun too)

Preheat oven to 350 (I used a dark non stick pan for my double batch so I lowered the temp 25 degrees to keep the bars from getting too dark).

Lightly spray with 9X9 baking pan with Pam.
In a medium bowl, cream together the oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, spices, salt, and baking powder (I did this step in my KA mixer).
Gently fold in the flour, just until combined (I did this by hand).
Evenly spread the mixture into the prepared pan.
Bake bars for 22-30 minutes, or until a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean.
Frost cooled bars with cream cheese frosting and top with walnuts (or candy corn or whatever you choose!)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Celebrate Chili Season!

Tyler was nice enough to whip up this batch of white chicken chili while I made the beef and bean chili tonight. Honestly I'm not sure where I got the original recipe and it's driving me nuts. If you know please jog my memory! I just have a copy of it that I printed out ages ago, probably off an old email account so I can't really trace the origins! Actually it looks like a photocopy...omg I'm going to drive myself crazy. Here's the recipe!

White Bean Chicken Chili

1 onion, chopped
1 T olive oil
2 tsp chopped garlic
1-2 cups chopped chicken breasts
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 cube chicken bouillon
15 oz can white beans
1 pkg taco seasoning (we were out so we used this recipe instead)

Saute onion in olive oil. Add garlic, chicken, and 1/2 tsp taco seasoning. Cook until chicken is no longer pink. Add canned tomatoes (can be run through the food processor to chop into smaller pieces if desired), chicken bouillon cube, rest of taco seasoning and if necessary some water if too thick. Simmer and then eat! Serve with tortilla chips or tortillas, cheese, sour cream, whatever you like! Tyler adds Tabasco sauce because he loves more heat.

I believe this recipe is WW core friendly.

Officially Chili Season!

Today is the first day of fall, which means I can now make chili without getting yelled at by my dad! (although I heard a rumor that he made a batch last weekend, tsk tsk!) We made a couple of chili's tonight and will freeze quite a bit of it for easy grab n go lunches. First up: traditional beef and bean chili. This is the recipe that has been perfected by Tyler's dad, and it is wonderful chili! We will likely never make another version, this one is just perfect and fits my WW Core diet.

My Father-in-Law's Chili

1lb ground beef
1/2 medium sized onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
2 tsp. chili powder
1 beef bullion cubes
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 Bay Leaf
1 TBS parsley flakes
1/2 TBS sugar
red pepper flakes or tabasco sauce to taste
salt if needed


1. Brown ground beef then drain off grease.
2. Saute onion and garlic with the meat until onion is translucent.
3. Transfer meat/onion/garlic mix to crock pot, add the rest of the ingredients (do not drain any of the beans!) let cook on low 2-3 hours. This could also be done on the stovetop in a stockpot, simmer on low for a couple of hours with the lid on.
4. Serve with cheese, sour cream, crackers, etc.

Who doesn't love a man in the kitchen?

So I confess Tyler actually made this meal 2 weeks ago but I've been dragging my feet about posting it. I'm not really busy...just trying to keep my mind off of food as much as I can, lol. I'm still eating and cooking though, just nothing terribly exciting. We are making 2 kinds of chili tonight, I'll share those recipes later!

We were at the City Market over Labor Day weekend and bought some fresh produce and some unique pasta at a booth that sold Pappardelle's Pasta. It took us FOREVER to decide which pasta to buy but we eventually settled on Tunisian Harissa Fettucine and Tyler was kind enough to offer to make the meal (with each pasta there is a recommended recipe that they give you). It took him 3 hours. Yeah. 3 hours. He is a bit meticulous in the kitchen, so I don't really think that's the average cooking time for this dish. Roasting the peppers was a lengthy process and since it was his first time he had to stop and look at the directions a lot. After 3 hours of cooking we ate dinner around 9 P.M.

It's a different kind of dish for me because I'm used to pasta with some kind of sauce on it. This has no sauce because the pasta itself is flavored and the meat and peppers provide the rest of the flavor. Very tasty, and perhaps a healthy-ish meal (if you use low fat sausage). Not a Core recipe though, but could be made into one with whole wheat pasta and some lean meat. We may try roasting peppers again now that we know what we're doing! We'd also be interested in buying more pasta from Pappardelle's. They had so many delicious looking flavored pastas, and I think they would make great gifts! You can even order online, something to think about as the holidays slowly creep closer.

Tunisian Harissa Pasta with Sausage, Peppers & Tomatoes

1 lb. Pappardelle’s Tunisian Harissa Pasta
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
10 oz. sweet Italian sausage, skinned/crumbled
1 each: roasted red, green and yellow peppers, peeled and cut into long strips (we followed the Food network directions found here)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until lightly golden, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers and continue to sauté for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, season to taste with salt and pepper, cover skillet with lid slightly ajar, reduce heat to low and simmer until the liquid evaporates, about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I'm still here!

Sorry for the post-less week, I haven't really been cooking much. Mostly because I was eating out or making some of my favorite guilty pleasures before I started back on Weight Watchers this week :) Real smart, huh? We had sushi, cheese dip, potstickers, Chipotle, chick-fil-a....ahh such food debauchery. Now I am back on the wagon and back in the kitchen. We are following the Weight Watchers Core plan, which so far I am loving. So brace yourselves for healthier recipes! One of my greatest discoveries was this food blog. Thank you Heather for sharing so many great Core recipes with those of us that have no clue what to make! She is my new food blog goddess.

This meal was so quick to whip up and tasted great. LOVED the guacamole sauce. I will definitely be using that recipe for many other dishes. It'd be great on fajitas! The chicken was a little sweet, which makes sense since there was brown sugar in it, I might cut back on the sugar and increase the spices next time. I served the chicken with corn and a side of black beans simmered in lime juice, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Should have thrown some cilantro in but I spaced it. It feels good to be cooking and eating well again!

Cumin-dusted Chicken Breasts with guacamole sauce

1/4 c finely chopped green onions
1/4 c finely chopped cilantro
1/4 c fat-free sour cream
2 TBS fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1 ripe peeled avocado, seeded and coarsely mashed

2 TBS brown sugar (not Core, but 0 WPAs per serving of this recipe)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 (6 oz) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Cooking spray

To prepare sauce, combine first 8 ingredients; set aside. Preheat oven to 400°.

To prepare chicken, combine sugar, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper; sprinkle evenly over chicken. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over. Place pan in oven; bake at 400° for 10-20 minutes or until done. Serve chicken with sauce.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 breast half and about 3 tablespoons sauce)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Corny corn casserole

Corn is an iffy vegetable for me. I don't like eating it on the cob because it gets stuck in my teeth, and the canned/frozen stuff isn't that tasty. I bookmarked several recipes from the latest issue of Cooking Light and am slowly knocking them off my "to try" list. This recipe was first published in the magazine in June of 1996 and was submitted by a reader from Kansas, who knows, it could be someone just down the road :) I baked it in my Pampered Chef deep dish pie plate, which I think I'd only used once before. It looked so pretty in that pie plate :) I'm all about pretty serving dishes, they are one of my many downfalls. I have far too many pretty serving dishes for my small kitchen. This casserole was much better than plain corn muffins or corn bread, very sweet in taste, but pretty healthy as far as casseroles go.

Easy Corn Casserole (from Cooking Light)

1/4 cup egg substitute (or 1 large egg)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 (8 3/4 oz) can no-salt added whole-kernal corn, drained
1 (8 3/4 oz) can no-salt added cream-style corn
1 (8 1/2 oz) package corn muffin mix
1 (8-oz) carton plain fat free yogurt

Preheat over to 350 degrees
Combine ingredients in a medium bowl; stir well. Pour into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray (or a deep dish pie plate or other medium sized casserole dish). Bake for 45 minutes or until set. Yields 8 servings.

A cold day in September

Well I was trying to hold off on making soup until the first day of fall but it is 59 degrees outside right now and the sun hasn't even gone down yet! I am so pumped :) I am slowly letting fall creep into our apartment, I put out my fall pillows and plugged in a nutmeg air freshener yesterday. The rest of the fall decor WILL wait until the 23rd though!

So for dinner tonight I made broccoli cheddar soup, a kind of soup I love to eat but had never made before. I was a little skeptical about the noodles in the soup, but they were perfect and made it a much heartier soup. I would like to figure out a way to make it a bit thicker/creamier next time. Maybe I won't use skim milk or I'll try adding cornstarch or something. Overall I really enjoyed the soup, Tyler said it was good but kind of "plain" (I don't really know what that means but I think he prefers soups with some kind of meat in it). I will make this soup again on another chilly day!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup, from JMitchKC-another KC real bride.

3/4 c. chopped onion
2 tbsp. olive oil (or vegetable, canola)
6 Chicken Boullion cubes
6 c. water
1 pkg. Egg Noodles (8oz)
2 - 10oz pkgs. of frozen broccoli (I used mini florets)
6 c. milk (I used skim, but the soup may have been creamier if I'd used 1 or 2% instead)
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 lb. Velveeta Cheese (cubed)

Add oil and sautee onions, not brown. Add water and dissolve Boullion cubes.
Bring to a boil and add noodles. Cook until noodles are soft, then add
broccoli. When broccoli is thawed and not hard, add milk, garlic powder,
salt and pepper. It is very important the milk DOES NOT BOIL.
Add cubed velveeta and stir frequently until melted. You will cook
this slow, so that it doesn't boil or the milk & cheese will curdle.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Another popular recipe

I know everyone and their mom has made this orzo recipe by now (at least in my small food blogging circle) but I always come in late in the game :) Tyler offered to make dinner tonight but we ended up cooking together so we could eat sooner. We make a pretty good team most of the time! He prepared the chicken (parmesan dijon chicken, one of our faves) and I whipped up the orzo and the green beans. Both of which I oversalted, whoops. Still yummy though, just needed a big glass of water to wash it down!

Orzo with Parmesan and Basil (original recipe from allrecipes.com)


  • 2 tablespoons butter\
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil


  1. Melt butter in heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in orzo and saute until lightly browned.
  2. Stir in chicken stock and bring to boil. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer until orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15 - 20 minutes.
  3. Mix in Parmesan cheese and basil. Season with salt (go easy, especially if you didn't use low sodium chicken broth) and pepper. Transfer to shallow bowl. Garnish with basil sprigs.

Feast your eyes!

Made the peach-raspberry cobbler again last weekend (had to find some way to use up the 12 peaches crammed in that little bag at the store!) Since I didn't have a picture last time I figured I'd share it now. Here's the original entry with the recipe. I used frozen raspberries this time and it tasted just as good!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Too easy, too yummy

I needed a dessert that I could whip up fast and I didn't want to go through the whole "from scratch trash my kitchen with flour and sugar" mess so I went the easy route. All you need are some peanut butter cups and a box of brownie mix with its required ingredients. The end result: yummy peanut butter cup brownies.

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies (from allrecipes.com)

1 box brownie mix
any ingredients that the box of brownie mix calls for + an extra egg
1 bag mini peanut butter cups

Mix up brownie batter with an extra egg for fluffier brownies.
Pour brownie batter into muffin cups lined with paper or foil wrappers.
Stick one peanut butter cup (all wrapping removed of course) in the center of each brownie
Bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until brownies are fluffy but not gooey inside.
Cool and then eat!

I used a box of pillsbury chocolate chunk brownie mix and it yielded a dozen brownies in a regular sized muffin tin. A mini muffin tin could also be used for bite sized brownies.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More butter please...

It's strange to think that a year ago I could NOT make a batch of cookies from scratch without seriously screwing them up, getting frustrated, and pitching them into the trash can. I have learned several tricks of the trade and feel much more confident now. By the holidays I will have many cookie recipes under my belt (and uh..literally as well I suppose, heh). I'm working my way up to Tyler's favorite cookie recipe, to be revealed at a later date (probably in December). These cookies don't look like Amber's, but they taste great. This was a "recipe of the week" ages ago, but I bookmarked them from Amber's blog because I loved her presentation. A word to the wise, although the cookies taste great the dough basically just tastes like butter, not so good for snacking on!

Buttery Pecan Cookies
(Source: www.williams-sonoma.com)

These buttery cookies are very easy to make. Just roll the dough into a log, slice and bake.

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla. Using an electric mixer, beat the mixture on medium speed until it is smooth. Turn off the mixer a few times so you can scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the flour and nuts. Continue mixing until the dough looks like moist pebbles, then turn off the mixer. (Note, I think I overmixed the dough until it was creamy, which may explain why my cookies came out so thin and crispy, not thick like Amber's).

Gently squeeze the dough together with your hands. When the dough comes together in a mass, place it on a large piece of plastic wrap. Using your hands, shape it into a log 10 inches long and about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the log in the plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line 3 baking sheets with aluminum foil.

Unwrap the dough and place it on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into slices 1/4 inch thick. Arrange the slices about 1 inch apart on the foil-lined baking sheets.

Place 1 baking sheet in the oven and bake the cookies until their edges are golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes. Using oven mitts, remove the baking sheet from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the second and then the third baking sheets.

Lift the cooled cookies off the baking sheets with your fingers. Store the cookies in an airtight container. Makes about 40 cookies.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The Kid's Cookbook, by Abigail Johnson Dodge (Time-Life Books, 2000).

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Indoor grilling

I have to be careful not to go overboard on new kitchen tools and gadgets since our kitchen has such limited space. We were disappointed when we moved into our new apartment earlier this summer and discovered that grills are not allowed. Our George Foreman grill is limited in its abilities, plus it's a pain to clean, so we decided a couple of weeks ago to get a good ol fashioned grill pan and use that on the stovetop. I got some steaks on sale last week and Tyler cooked them up tonight while I whipped up some green beans and mashed potatoes. Very delicious meal!

Steak marinade (from allrecipes.com)


  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-1/4 pounds beef rib eye steaks


  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the soy sauce, onions, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and pepper. Add the steaks. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain and discard marinade. Grill steaks, uncovered, over medium-hot heat for 8-10 minutes or until the meat reaches desired doneness (for medium-rare, a meat thermometer should read 145 degrees F; medium, 160 degrees F; well-done, 170 degrees F).

Loaded mashed potatoes (by Julia)

4 large russet potatoes, washed, peeled, cut up, boiled, then drained.
2 T butter
1/3 cup warm milk
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup diced green onions
salt and pepper to taste

Combine cooked potatoes with other ingredients in mixer, mix to desired consistency.

Better than a trip to the food court

Well I'll be darned, these really do taste just like the soft pretzels you'd buy at the mall! Don't know what I was expecting, but these are darn good! Check out Amber's blog for the original recipe as well as some ideas on variations. I'm still getting the hang of the oven in our new apartment, next time I will turn the heat down so they don't get so dark (and black on the bottom).

Soft Pretzels
(Source: Amber's Delectable Delights)

1/8 cup hot water
1 package active dry yeast

1 1/3 warm water
1/3 cup brown sugar
4+ cups flour
Coarse kosher salt
Baking soda
Butter or shortening (to generously grease cookie sheets)

In a large bowl mix together hot water and yeast until the yeast dissolves. Stir in the warm water and brown sugar and stir until the brown sugar dissolves.

Slowly add 4 cups of flour, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the mixture is smooth and does not stick to the sides of the bowl.

Lightly flour counter. Dip your hands into extra flour. Knead the dough until it is stretchy and smooth. (Push it down and away from you with the palms of your hands, turning the dough as you work)

Grease cookie sheets generously with butter or shortening. Sprinkle greased cookie sheet(s) with kosher salt. Preheat oven to 475. (It is very important that you grease the cookie sheets very well)

Using liquid measuring cup fill a large saucepan at least 1/2 full of water. For each 1 cup of water, add 1 tbls baking soda.

Divide the dough into equal sized pieces.

Using the following 4 steps shape each dough ball into a pretzel shape (obviously I opted to make pretzel sticks instead, I was in a hurry)...

1). Roll the dough into a rope 14" long and as thick as your thumb. Bend the dough into a U shape. (if you have trouble rolling the dough into a rope slightly wet your hands and try again).

2). Cross one end of the rope over the other one. The ropes should cross about three inches from the tips.

3). Twist the crossed ends, making a full turn. Fold the ends back, towards the middle of the U.

4). Open the ends slightly to form a pretzel shape. Press the ends into the dough firmly.

Bring water into saucepan to a gentle boil (not to many bubbles) Use pancake turner to lower each pretzel into the saucepan. Count slowly to 30. Then lift the pretzel onto the greased and salted cookie sheet (shaking off excess water back into the saucepan). Repeat until all the pretzels are done.

Sprinkle some kosher salt on top of the pretzels and put them in preheated oven. Bake for 8 minutes or until the pretzels are golden.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A no shop dinner

Well it's almost the end of the month and I'm pushing it as far as keeping within our grocery budget (but we were still restocking our pantry from our move...at least that's one excuse!) So I'm trying to cook with what we have and do minimal grocery shopping. I will of course go get more milk and fruit and Dr. Pepper as needed, but otherwise I'm going to try not to buy a lot of new food items. I'm glad I chose a simple meal for dinner tonight because somehow I managed to get lost on my way home from work tonight. I thought I was taking a shortcut but it took me twice as long to get home, ugh. I should just stick with what I know! I swear Kansas drivers are so much worse than D.C. drivers though, I have seen some manuevers on the highway this week that literally made my jaw drop. But anyways, you're here to see what I made for dinner, so back to that :)

French Toast, originally from allrecipes.com


  • 6 thick slices bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • salt to taste


  1. Beat together egg, milk, salt, desired spices and vanilla.
  2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle of skillet over medium-high flame.
  3. Dunk each slice of bread in egg mixture, soaking both sides. Place in pan, and cook on both sides until golden. Serve hot.
  4. I like to sprinkle mine with powered sugar and drizzle with syrup.

Scrambled Eggs for Two (how I throw them together, by no means an exact science)

3-4 eggs
some salt
some pepper
a little bit of milk (maybe a 1/4 cup? I just eyeball it)
some cheese, usually I have Mexican blend on hand.

Whisk together eggs, salt, pepper, and milk. Pour into skillet over medium heat, stir constantly until eggs cook up and are the texture you desire. Sprinkle with cheese, allow it to melt over eggs and then serve. Eat promptly unless you like cold eggs!

A classic

I accidentally bought sausage links (dogs?) the other day thinking they were brats. Whoops. So I decided to make meatballs for the first time, and they turned out great! I actually bought the "hot" Johnsonville sausage that has red pepper flakes in it, delicious! We love spicy food and with sausage that flavorful I didn't have to add much seasoning to the mix. Tyler and I really loved these meatballs! They had a lot of zip to them, next time I might try mixing in some ground beef if we had it on hand, my father in law does the beef/sausage mix and it's very tasty! So without further adieu, I give you spaghetti and meatballs...err rotini and meatballs actually since I ran out of spaghetti!

Pasta with Italian Meatballs, another experiment brought to you by Julia

1 lb sausage (I used Johnsonville hot sausage)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup white onion chopped finely
1 egg

Mix sausage, breadcrumbs, parm cheese, onion, and egg in a bowl (I use my hands). Form into small round meatballs, I made about 25 if I remember correctly. Saute in a large skillet with a little bit of oil, when browned drain the grease from the pan and then add a jar of spaghetti sauce, I used Spicy Tomato and Basil by Classico. Allow meatballs to finish cooking through as they simmer in the sauce, about 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil water and cook whatever pasta you prefer, we used rotini since we were low on spaghetti. Serve sauce and meatballs over pasta, sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese (and seriously buy a block and grate it yourself, it tastes so much better than the canned Kraft stuff!)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Yum, cobbler!

So I'm about to commit a big sin in the sphere of food blogging, I am not posting a picture with my recipe! The recipe is just too good not to share and I may not make it again until next summer, so I don't want to deprive you until then! I took this peach-raspberry cobbler to dinner at my in-laws this evening and forgot my camera and then we gobbled the whole thing up! Check out the original recipe here, it's from Cooking Light. I made some changes, the big one was adding raspberries, my favorite fruit! When I make it again I will probably use a little less milk (maybe 3/4 cup) since the cobbler came out pretty juicy and it was hard to tell when it was done cooking.

Peach-Raspberry Cobbler


3 cups sliced peeled ripe peaches (about 2 pounds)
1 cup raspberries
tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
Dash of ground cinnamon
1 cup milk (I prefer skim)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon white or turbinado sugar for topping.


Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare filling, combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl; set aside.

To prepare batter, place butter in an 8-inch square baking dish. Place dish in oven 5 minutes or until butter melts. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through dash of cinnamon) in a medium bowl. Combine milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; add milk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter over butter, spreading evenly (do not stir with the butter at the bottom of dish). Spoon fruit mixture over batter, gently pressing the fruit into the batter. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar (or white if you don't have turbinado on hand), and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until crust is golden.

yields: 8 small servings or 6 good size servings!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A lazy day?

So I attempted to make this several weeks ago only to discover one of my ingredients had gone bad (now I make sure to check all my dairy products before I purchase them, the expiration date is not always a good indicator, check cheese for green stuff!) I was able to successfully pull this recipe off the other night with some non-moldy ricotta. I really liked it, but Tyler was kind of ambivalent. Maybe he doesn't like ricotta? I think he was not impressed with the semi-homemadeness of this meal. I'm not really up for making ravioli and tortellini from scratch just yet. I foresee a week of him cooking every night in the very near future, then we'll talk about taking shortcuts when cooking! ;)

Tortellini with Creamy Tomato Sauce (original recipe from Giada's Family Dinners)

1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds tortellini or ravioli
3 cups marinara sauce (I used one jar of Classico spicy tomato sauce)
1.5 cups ricotta cheese (I used part skim, and next time I will use less ricotta, I tripled the original recipe but it was too cheesy for Tyler)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add about 1/4 cup olive oil to the water to help prevent pasta from sticking. Add the tortellini and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain the tortellini, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Toss the tortellini with the remaining oil to coat.

Meanwhile, bring the marinara sauce to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking often. Whisk in the ricotta and enough reserved cooking water to thin the sauce to desired consistency. For a thicker sauce, use less pasta water; for a thinner sauce, add more water. Return the sauce to a simmer. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon 1/2 cup sauce on plate. Arrange the tortellini over the sauce. Drizzle another 1/2 cup sauce over the tortellini. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and the basil, and serve.

Garlicky Green Beans (experiment by Julia, and a tasty one at that!)

2-3 cups fresh green beans, ends trimmed, washed thoroughly.
2 gloves minced garlic (I'm lazy so I put them through my garlic press instead of chopping them with a knife myself)
1-2 tablespoons butter.
Dash of salt and pepper

Saute green beans with butter and garlic in a large skillet until tender crisp. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, serve hot.

Olive Oil Dipping Sauce (another Julia experiment)

On a small plate mix together some salt, pepper, basil, oregano, Parmesan cheese, and thyme. Add extra-virgin olive oil and serve with your favorite bread!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Update #3

Here's the last update for today! I'm giving you lots of reading material :) Last night we had a delicious dinner at a friend's house and I told her I'd bring something chocolate for dessert. I wanted to try something new and wanted something that had chocolate and raspberry, one of my favorite flavor combos. I wanted something quick and easy so I found this brownie recipe that fit the bill. Very tasty but VERY rich, do not attempt to eat without a glass of milk!

Chocolate Raspberry Brownies (source: Cooking at a Glance - Cookies, recipe as posted on cooking.com)

For Brownies-
1/2 cup butter
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam

For Frosting-
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons boiling water

For Brownies-
In a medium saucepan melt butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Using a wooden spoon, lightly beat in flour until just combined.

Spread batter into a greased 8x8 baking pan, Spoon raspberry jam in dollops over batter, run a knife through batter several times to achieve a marbled effect. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 35 minutes or until set. Cool in pan on a rack.

For Frosting-
In a medium mixing bowl stir together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, melted butter, and vanilla. Stir in enough boiling water to make a frosting of spreading consistency (add it in one tablespoon at a time so you don't put in too much!) Spread over cooled brownies. Cut and serve.

Update #2

I'm gonna keep going with the updates today! Here is my second ode to Amber and her delicious recipes! I know this has been getting raves from many food bloggers. It is absolutely rave worthy! Check out the original recipe here, I'm posting it with my changes.

Spicy Garlic Lime Pasta (Source: Amber's Delectable Delights)

1 cup chicken broth
1.5 tbls lime juice
1 tbls corn starch
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried parsley
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite size pieces)
1 tbls butter
Few drizzles of olive oil
8 oz pasta (I used Barilla Plus penne)
1-2 cups broccoli florets (I used frozen broccoli florets, thawed them before cooking them)
Parmesan cheese for topping

1) Bring pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. During the last 5 minutes of pasta cook time add the broccoli into the boiling water. Drain.
2) Mix together all the sauce ingredients (chicken broth through parsley) and set aside.
3) Meanwhile, heat butter and olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add bite size chicken pieces into heated pan. Cook chicken until no longer pink. Pour the sauce ingredients into the pan with the chicken and bring to a simmer. Let simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened.
4) Toss cooked broccoli and pasta with the chicken and sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve.

Update #1

Time for some updates! I have been cooking and baking the last week but just haven't been updating much. I tried a couple of recipes from a fellow food blogger that I want to rave about! Amber has so many creative and "down-to-earth" recipes. I'm going to try her homemade pretzel recipe this week, can't wait!

I was out of brown sugar but craving cookies with oatmeal in them and found this recipe for no-bake cookies on Amber's blog. So easy to make but beware, they are SERIOUSLY addictive. We got about 3 dozen cookies out of this recipe and they were gone faster than any cookies I've ever made before. I've posted the recipe here with the changes I made, I used chunky peanut butter and added some coconut, delish! Check out Amber's original recipe for other recommendations on add ins.

No Bake Cookies (from Amber's Delectable Delights)

2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
3 cups quick cooking oats
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup flaked coconut

  1. Line 2 large baking sheets with wax paper, parchment paper, or alum. foil and set aside.
  2. Combine sugar, butter, milk, and cocoa in large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and cool 1 minute.
  3. Add peanut butter and stir until melted. Add oats, vanilla, peanuts and coconut (if desired) and mix well.
  4. Quickly drop mixture by heaping tablespoons onto lined cookie sheets.
  5. Place in refrigerator until set. Once set remove cookies from sheet and place in air tight container in a cool, dry place.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Versatile black bean dip

So unemployment does not sit well with me, I have basically been glued to the couch all week (for the 4th week in a row now), occasionally getting up for a Dr. Pepper or to go to a job interview. Hopefully I will be hired soon and out of my funk! Funk=no cooking (except for sugary treats) so I really don't know what we've done for dinner this week...chik fil a, frozen pizza, chicken salad. Tonight I finally snapped out of it and whipped up a real dinner, it felt good to be back in the kitchen chopping and stirring and making a mess (Tyler gets to clean up, hehe).

Tex Mex Black Bean Dip from allrecipes.com (can be eaten w/chips or used as enchilada filling)

  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup mild picante sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

  1. Place black beans in a medium size mixing bowl, partially mash beans -- beans should remain a little chunky.
  2. In a medium size frying pan, heat oil over a medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic and saute for 4 minutes.
  3. Mix beans, corn, tomato, picante sauce, cumin, and chili powder into the frying pan; cook for 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove the pan from the heat, mix in cheese, cilantro and lime juice; stir until cheese is melted.

Black Bean Enchiladas

3 cups Tex Mex Black Bean Dip
5-8 large flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
1 can enchilada sauce

Spoon a rounded 1/2 cup of the black bean mixture down the center of each tortilla, top with some cheese. Fold sides over filling and roll up. Place in a 13x9 baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cover with enchilada sauce. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with cheese and cilantro (optional). Bake 2-3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Chocolate fix

This week definitely called for chocolate, thanks to Peabody for discovering and sharing this fantastic recipe from recipezar! I think I prefer them over the mint brownies I usually make, not quite so rich, just the right balance of chocolate and mint!

Andes Chocolate Mint Cookies
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
Andes mints candies, broken in half

Heat oven to 350°F.
Over low heat, combine butter, sugar and water.
Heat until melted and add chocolate chips until partly melted.
Remove from heat and stir.
Pour into large mixing bowl.
Let stand 10 minutes to cool slightly.
Beat in eggs one at a time on high speed.
Reduce mixer to low speed and add flour, salt and baking soda.
Beat until well-blended.
Chill one hour (dough is almost liquid before chilling but hardens and is easy to shape after chilling).
Roll into balls, place two inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Place an Andes Mint half on top.
Allow to melt slightly and spread with a spoon.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

dessert revealed

Whoops a day late, sorry! Here's the dessert I ended up making this weekend, it was perfect on our picnic last night. Thanks to Deborah for the cake recipe.

Blueberry Almond Cake w/Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 cup blueberries (more for topping if you prefer, I just bought a pint and used the rest on top)

Cream cheese frosting (see recipe below or you can use the canned stuff)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8x8 baking pan.

2. In a large bowl combine butter and granulated sugar, beat until smooth. Beat in egg, sour cream, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix until combined. Fold in almonds and 1 cup blueberries then pour into baking pan - spread evenly.

3. Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted in middle of cake comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting with cream cheese frosting and cutting into squares.

Cream Cheese Frosting from allrecipes.com


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Beat softened butter and cream cheese until well blended.
  2. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until creamy.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Can't help it I'm addicted to orzo

Love that stuff! It's pasta shaped like rice...so cute and so versatile! I decided to liven up our oh so gourmet dinner of hot dogs and baked beans with an orzo salad. This recipe of Joelen's was my inspiration and I got my recipe for the dressing from allrecipes.com. Very tasty result! We will probably take the leftovers with us on a picnic this weekend when we go to watch an outdoor performance of Footloose. I can't wait. Tune in tomorrow to see the dessert I'm whipping up for this picnic. I'll leave you in suspense til then ;)

Orzo Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette.


1 1/2 cups orzo cooked (that's 1 1/2 cups before cooking)
chopped black olives (as much or as little as you like)
chopped celery (as much or as little as you like)
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 bag of baby spinach
feta cheese (I used the tomato and basil kind)

You could also add tomato if you like them, I do not. Poor Tyler.

Cook orzo according to directions on the box. Let cool, then toss with black olives, celery, pepper, spinach, feta, and balsamic vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
  1. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, mustard, salt and pepper in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well before serving. Store in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A little bit of Giada

I decided to try a couple of recipes out of one of my new cookbooks, Giada's Family Dinners
They did not disappoint! In fact it's one of the better meals we've had in a long time, then again I have been living on frozen pizza for what feels like weeks now, so I'm starved for real food :)

Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops
2 large eggs
1 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
4 (1/2 to 3/4-inch thick) center-cut pork loin chops (each about 10 to 12 ounces) (I actually used 5 pork chops and didn't increase anything else, there was plenty of coating for them all)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil
Lemon wedges, for serving
Whisk the eggs in a pie plate to blend. Place the bread crumbs in another pie plate. Place the cheese in a third pie plate. Sprinkle the pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Coat the chops completely with the cheese, patting to adhere. Dip the chops into the eggs, then coat completely with the bread crumbs, patting to adhere.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a very large skillet (or 2 medium/large skillets) over medium heat. Add pork chops, in batches if necessary, and cook until golden brown and the center reaches 150 degrees, about 6 minutes per side. (After 5 minutes on each side the pork chops were getting browned on the outside but still pink in the middle, so I transferred them to a baking sheet and stuck them in the oven for 10-12 minutes, they still came out juicy, flavorful, and actually cooked all the way though!) Transfer the chops to plates and serve with lemon wedges.

Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs
1 tablespoon butter (I used cooking spray instead)
4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used 5 big potatoes, not sure how many lbs it was)
1 cup whole milk (I subbed with skim milk!)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted (I think I only used half a stick, figure it won't kill us as soon)
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (used one of those bags of Kraft Italian cheese blend)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan (see above, Italian cheese blend again)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs (used Progresso Italian bread crumbs)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter (or cooking spray!) and set aside.

Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until they are very tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; return the potatoes to the same pot and mash well. (Note, I transferred it all to my Kitchenaid Mixer instead of doing it by hand) Mix in the milk and melted butter. Mix in the mozzarella and 3/4 cup of the Parmesan. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking dish. Stir the bread crumbs and remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the mashed potatoes. Recipe can be prepared up to this point 6 hours ahead of time; cover and chill.

Bake, uncovered, until the topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Tyler's new favorite cookie...

I made these cookies a week or so ago and although they tasted alright, they looked terrible. I hadn't yet figured out the temperature issues with my oven so I think the problem was that the temp was too high. I have since learned how to work with my unruly oven and the second batch I made yesterday turned out much tastier (and prettier!) Thanks to Amber for sharing this recipe, originally from Cooking Light.

Sweet and Salty Peanut Chocolate Chunk Cookies
(Source: Cookinglight.com)

1/3 cup coarsely chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place nuts in a small baking pan. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes or until lightly toasted; cool.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda, stirring well with a whisk.

Place sugars and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes). Add vanilla and egg; beat until combined. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed until well blended. Stir in peanuts, chocolate chips, and salt.

Drop dough by teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on pans 5 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

I doubled the original recipe and got about 3 dozen cookies.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Millions of peaches...

It's peach season, and I got some huge ones at the store the other day and let them ripen over the course of a few days. I originally intended to make a cobbler but changed my mind at the last minute and made a pie instead. I also intended to make my own crust...but the day was going so well and I get cranky when I make pie crust, so I went with the store bought kind instead. It's just so....easy. The pie was a hit with my family, and Tyler and I just polished off the last two pieces a few minutes ago.

Simple Peach Pie

pie crust for a double crust 9 inch pie
5 cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced (5 large peaches were enough, but you may need more if you have smaller peaches)
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir together flour, 1 cup sugar, and cinnamon, set aside. Wash, peel, and slice peaches. Mix peaches together with dry ingredients. Pour into pie crust (I did not prebake the bottom crust, it turned out fine). Dot with butter. Cover with top crust, cut slits in the top, seal the edges. Sprinkle top with 2 tablespoons sugar. Cover the edges with foil or a crust guard to prevent crust from burning. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through the slits in the crust. You can remove the foil/crust guard for the last few minutes if you want to brown the outer crust a bit. Serve with vanilla ice cream!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Baking the day away

If you like cookies with fruit in them and like more "cake-like" cookies I think you will like these! I actually am not a big fan of cakey cookies but these taste so yummy I don't even mind the consistency. I altered the original recipe so they would not be too sweet. Since I used Craisins that are already sweetened I used less white sugar in the actual dough. I rolled them in sugar for a bit of extra sweetness to balance out the orange flavor. I think they turned out just right, not too orangey, not too sweet. My altered recipe is posted below.

Orange Cranberry Cakey Cookies (adapted from an allrecipes recipe)


  • 1/2 cup white sugar for dough plus another 1/2 cup set aside for topping
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 egg
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups dried cranberries for dough plus another 1/2 cup set aside for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the white sugar, brown sugar, and butter. Stir in the egg, orange juice, orange extract, and orange zest. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; mix into the orange mixture. Stir in the dried cranberries. Use a medium cookie scoop to scoop and shape each cookie, then roll it in white sugar and stick 3-4 dried cranberries on the top, place 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until edges are starting to brown. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.