Monthly Archives: January 2009

Welcome to My Weekday

Last week, Eric and I both had the day off on Monday for MLK Day. It’s a rarity that we are home together during a weekday, so it was fun to have an extra day to hang out. I think he was a little surprised to have a first look at my “home during the week” routine. LOL. I was off work all summer, so I got lots of practice in the whole home all day thing. My summer days usually consisted of getting up at a decent time (no later than 8:00, but usually closer to 7:15-7:30. LOL) and then making sure I had a good, productive day of chores and errands so I could relax a bit in the afternoon before Eric came home.

On weekday afternoons, I always watched a rerun of Full House (LOL. I am so lame. I admit it) and then tuned in to Rachael Ray’s talk show. Say what you want about her but I LOVE her talk show. Her segments are interesting and relevant. She’s not pretentious at all. Not getting to see it is one of the things I miss most now that I am back to work! LOL. I was pretty psyched for my Monday off last week so I could watch. Eric was in an out of the garage working on something and when he came through the living room he said, “Full House reruns and now Rachael Ray?? I can’t believe this!” I just smiled and said, “Welcome to weekdays at home with me.” He just shook his head and laughed.

She always does her what’s for dinner tonight segment and it’s usually something really quick and simple. She did this Cheeseburger Chili Mac and Cheese that day and I decided it was a perfect Eric-Friendly meal. This recipe was just begging for the addition of bacon. Because what’s better than a cheeseburger…why, a bacon cheeseburger, of course! The originally recipe calls for one and half pounds of beef but I just did one pound and I found it to be plenty. I also omitted the olive oil. I just didn’t think I needed it, having cooked bacon in the skillet before browning the beef. Rachael broiled hers in the oven before serving but I baked mine at 400 for about 25 minutes instead.

I was actually surprised how much I liked this!! Sometimes I find dishes like this to be kind of bland and blah, but this was totally yummy! Tasted JUST like a bacon cheeseburger in a bowl. YUM. Eric, of course, inhaled it. I just know him oh so well, don’t I? I will be making this again for sure! Plus, it’s super easy!

BACON CHEESEBURGER CHILI MAC AND CHEESE (Recipe Adapted From: Rachael Ray)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1-2 cups beef stock (I used about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 pound whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp yellow cheddar

DIRECTIONS:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Drain off most the grease, leaving about 1/2 tsp. or so. Add meat and cook until browned. Drain in necessary.

Return meat to skillet. Add the onion and chili powder, salt and pepper and cook until the onion is tender, 4-5 minutes. Add the ketchup, mustard and beef stock, bring up to a bubble and simmer until slightly thickened, 4-5 minutes.

Salt the boiling water and add pasta. Cook to al dente, according to the package directions, then drain thoroughly and return it to the pot.

Add the chili and the bacon to the pot with the pasta and give everything a good toss. Transfer to a casserole dish and top with the shredded cheese. Bake for 25 minutes until cheese is melted and golden brown.

ENJOY! 🙂

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Filed under beef, pasta

You Like Me, You Really Like Me!!

Sorry, I channeled Sally Field there for a minute. LOL.

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks to all my wonderful readers!! Food and words are my two greatest passions in life, so I am excited to share them with everyone and just busting at the seems that you all enjoy them as much as I do.

Two awesome ladies were kind enough to nominate me for a couple blog awards!!

Big thanks to Kayla over at Central Cooking for The Fabulous Blog Award and the Lemonade Award for having a refreshing blog and to Kira at Bite This! for also giving me the Lemonade Award! You gotta check out both these blogs….they totally ROCK! Full of deliciousness you can’t resist! Thanks again, girlies!

fabulous_blog_award

lemonadeaward1

Now for the rules! Gotta have rules!

– Add the logo in your blog.
– Add a link to the person who gave you the award.
– Nominate other (refreshing…like lemonade and fabulous) blogs of your choice.
– Don’t forget to add links to those blogs in yours.
– Also leave a message for your nominees in their blogs, informing them about the award.
Here are my fabulous blog nominees!
Check ’em out! 🙂

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Up to the challenge!

One thing I never thought I’d be comfortable doing in the kitchen would be to make up my own recipe for a baked good. Baking is such a science….and we all know that’s not my strong suit. With cooking, it’s all about feeling around…going with the flow, following your gut. Baking has to be just so or else the flavor and texture will be all wrong.

I’m for sure more confident in my abilities in the kitchen these days and I got inspired after receiving and email about the Pilsbury Bake-Off. Now, I’m pretty sure I’m not Bake-Off ready but I decided I was going to try my hand at making up my own recipe for a sweet treat. Just to give it a shot. First, I had to decide on the kinds of flavors I wanted to go with. For some reason peanut butter was sticking in my brain. But peanut butter  and what? What do I like with peanut butter? Chocolate, of course…that’s a given. But, eh, it’s been done. Peanut butter and banana, peanut butter and jelly…hmmmm… Then it hit me! One of my favorite snacks…peanut butter and apple! Okay, now we’re on to something here!

I decided I wanted some kind of cookie something or another. LOL. In the end I decided on a cookie bar that incorporated oatmeal with an apple and peanut butter filling. After reading a ton of recipes for cookies and bars, I was actually pretty confident in my ability to put something together.

Below is the recipe exactly as I prepared it. I am the first person to admit that it was far from perfect, but just the fact that it was not a total disaster either made me smile a bit. Check out my thoughts and notes on how I plan to improve it. Not bad for a novice!

APPLE PEANUT BUTTER CRUMBLE BARS (Recipe Source: Me)

Bars:

2 ¼ cups all purpose flour

1 cup packed brown sugar

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

1 ½ cups rolled oats

1 cup butter, slightly softened.

Filling:

4 large apples, peeled and chopped

1 cup water

½ cup granulated sugar

½ tsp. cinnamon

2 tsps. Cornstarch

½ cup creamy peanut butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line a 13X9 in. pan with foil. Grease with cooking spray

To prepare filling: In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch. In a medium saucepan, combine apples and sugar mixture. Pour water over apples and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until the apples are tender and the mixture thickens slightly; about 15 minutes. Add peanut butter and stir until the peanut butter melts and the mixture is nice and thick. Set aside.

Meanwhile, combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and oats in a large bowl. Using your hands or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the mixture until coarse crumbs form.

Pour 3 ½ cups of crumb mixture into prepared pan. Press firmly into the pan. Pour filling over the top and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over the top.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until top is golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Cooks Notes:

I noticed two things right off the bat that I think are related. One, the texture was a tad dry and two, the bottom layer was a bit thick for my taste. I think if I decreased the amount of flour by 3/4 of a cup or so that might help some. Then I’m trying to decide if I want to make it more “cookie” like by adding eggs, but then I wouldn’t have a nice crumbly topping….so, I don’t know. I’m going to keep thinking on it.

Anyway, I just wanted to share because I was pretty proud that I even attempted to do something like this. I’ll repost after I tweak it some!

ENJOY! 🙂

7 Comments

Filed under bars, fruit, peanut butter

Holy Freakin’ Deliciousness, Batman!

Taste buds…Prepare to be Delighted! POW! ZAP! ZWAP! MMMM! YUM!

Hee hee….old school Batman is funny.

Okay, moving on…

Seriously this is the most delicious soup I’ve ever had. Ever. I’m not kidding. Go make this. Now. What are you waiting for??? Hurry, hurry! I promise you will not be disappointed. This is a soup loaded with garden fresh ingredients, and the texture is ultra smooth and creamy. But since there’s not a drop of cream anywhere in this recipe, you can feel good about eating it. It’s spicy and sweet and super flavorful. Wow. Just wow. I don’t know what else to say except that it is insanely delicious.

I went to work making this after lunch (had the day off today) and when it was ready, I sat down and practically had me a second lunch. I literally had to tear myself away. Must.Stop.Eating. I can’t wait to chow down on this for lunch all this week.

SWEET AND SPICY PEANUT SOUP (Recipe Source: The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbs. canola oil
  • 1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 medium carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (about 2 cups)
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken broth)
  • One 14.5 oz can no-salt added diced tomatoes, with their juice (I couldn’t find no-salt added and opted for regular here)
  • 2/3 cup creamy natural peanut butter
  • 2 tsps. honey
  • chopped scallions for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and carrots and cook, sitrring until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add the cayenne, black pepper, garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the sweet potato, broth, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Puree the soup in the pot using an immersion blender or in a regular blender in two batches (I used a regular blender) and return to the pot. Add the peanut butter and honey and stir, over low heat, until the peanut butter melts. Serve warm, garnished with scallions.

ENJOY! 🙂

7 Comments

Filed under soup, veggies

I Dream in Sausage…

I have this…thing…for sausage. I love it. Any kind, any time, any place…if its full of sausage-y goodness, I’m pretty much in love. My favorite part is that it’s already perfectly seasoned… a lot less work. I have to say that Italian sausage is for sure one of my faves. I love it with pasta, in chili, on a chewy roll and smothered in sweet bell peppers. Hello, deliciousness!

Now the problem……you could choke a rat with the grease that renders off bulk pork sausage. Everytime I make it, I think, wow, now here’s something I shouldn’t be eating. LOL. In effort to save our hearts and our waistlines, I have given up my beloved pork Italian sausage (unless I’m at Portillo’s…which is a whole different ballgame) in favor of turkey Italian sausage. Man, I love that stuff! I honestly can’t tell the difference and I feel much better about eating it. I almost always have it in the freezer to break out whenever that sausage craving hits.

This recipe from Giada is perfect quick, light, sausage supper. This was on the table in 15 minutes. Add a salad and you’ve got a complete meal. Loved the kick of spice here. I’m for sure adding this to my quick weeknight meal arsenal.

ORZO WITH SAUSAGE, PEPPERS AND TOMATOES (Recipe Source: Giada de Laurentis as seen on Serious Eats)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pound orzo pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 links (7 ounces total) mild Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 jarred roasted red bell peppers, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped (The tomato selection at the store was a particularly hideous brand of nasty on Sunday for some reason…you’ll have that. I subbed two whole canned tomatoes.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (I subbed 1 tbs. dried)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large saucepan, bring the chicken broth and 3 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes.

2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turkey sausage and sauté until cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the bell peppers, tomatoes, and red pepper flakes (if using) to the pan and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.

3. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and transfer it to a large serving bowl. Add the sausage mixture, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well to combine, adding the reserved cooking liquid if needed to loosen the pasta. Top with the Parmesan and sprinkle with the remaining parsley.

ENJOY! 🙂

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Filed under pasta, sausage

This Little Piggy Went to the Market…

As of late, I’ve been really trying to save us some coin by really pouring over the grocery ads and making multiple stops at different stores to get the best deal on different items. Not sure if it’s worth it given all the extra gas that’s blown driving all over town but…..it makes me feel better, so I’m going to keep doing it. LOL.

In addition to saving us money, doing this also gives me the opportunity to branch out and try things I haven’t tried before. I’ve discovered that my ad browsing has really expanded my meat choices. There are cuts that I usually just don’t even bother with because they are too pricey, but I’ve found you can find good deals on those pricey cuts…you just have to know where to look and when. I always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and rarely caught the best deals. Takes a bit more work to get it right…but it’s been well worth it so far!

One of those pricey cuts that I usually just passed on was pork tenderloin. I couldn’t justify the cost for what you get….even though I really do like it. It’s so lean and tender…it would call to me in the store…”buy me, please! you know you want to!” I would stand there and contemplate purchasing one but the $7, $8, $9 price tag would always put me off. Last week I FINALLY found a great price on tenderloins so I snatched one up.

I broke out my new Ellie Kreiger cookbook for inspiration on how to cook my piggy goodness. I was looking to do something other than roast it, as I was afraid I would dry it out. Inside is a recipe for pork medallions with cherry sauce. Sounded yummy!  I loved the idea of cutting it into medallions and cooking it in a skillet on the stove top. And what’s better than deglazing up all those browned bits and making a delicious pan sauce? I’m going to go with NOTHING. Mmmm Mmmmm Good!

I had to make some modifications based on what I had in the house, as there was no way I was venturing out on Saturday with the way the wind was whipping around the snow. It’s funny because it wasn’t ACTUALLY snowing, it was just old snow blowing around. And, man, was it blowing. At one point, we couldn’t even see our neighbor’s house across the street, there was so much snow in the air. This morning the drift in front of our garage door was waist high. Craz-i-ness. Argh!

This recipe comes together super quick and it’s on the table in no time. I swapped out the dried cherries for dried cranberries, and subbed red wine for balsamic vinegar (now that, I thought I had….guess not! HA! But I always have wine and that’s great for pan sauces like this!) The results were so so so good. So flavorful and tender…just a hint of sweetness and tartness from the cranberries. It was a wonderful combo. I can’t wait to find pork tenderloin on sale again so I can whip this up for a second time. YUM!

PORK MEDALLIONS IN A CRANBERRY WINE SAUCE (Recipe Inspired by and Adapted from: Ellie Kreiger, The Food You Crave)

INGREDIENTS:

  • One 1 and one quarter pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of visible fat and sliced into 1/2 inch
  • Salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

DIRECTIONS

  1. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a lare skillet over medium high heat. Cook the meat until desired doneness (3 to 5 minutes per side). Transfer the meat to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
  2. Add remaining oil and shallots to the pan, cooking and stiring until softened (about 2 minutes). Add the broth, wine, 1/4 tsp. of salt, and the cranberries and cook until the liquid has reduced by half, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired, pour sauce over medallions and serve.

ENJOY! 🙂

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Filed under fruit, pork

You say it’s your birthday…

It’s my birthday too, yeah!

Okay, it’s not my birthday. I actually don’t know anyone with a birthday today. And if it’s not your’s either, that’s okay too. If it IS your birthday…well then happy birthday to you!

Who doesn’t love cake, right? Everyone loves cake. And everyone loves ice cream. Everyone loves cake AND ice cream. And I have decided I love cake AS ice cream. HA!I suppose I could have waited until it was at least SOMEBODY’S birthday to whip up this ice cream….but yeah…I just didn’t want to! LOL! I hadn’t made ice cream in a while and this sounded way too delicious to wait until our birthdays in June. 🙂 We’ll just call it any early birthday gift.

This cake batter ice cream came out really delicious. Sweet, creamy with a yummy crunch from the sprinkles and the chocolate chips. I thought an entire tablespoon of vanilla overwhelmed the taste a bit so next time i’ll probably knock that back a bit so the cake batter taste is a bit more prominent, but other than that it is excellent. Not to mention festive and fun…and colorful!

VANILLA BIRTHDAY CAKE BATTER ICE CREAM (Recipe adapted from: Midwest Living Magazine, Januray/February 2009)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 package 1-layer size white cake mix (I used Jiffy)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium saucepan, combine milk, cake mix and sugar. Heat over low heat until the mixture just barely bubbles. Pour hot mixture into a large mixing bowl and whisk briskly. Cover the bowl and cool on the c0unter for 1 hour. Add cream and vanilla and stir to combine. Cover the bowl and chill mixture 8 hours or overnight.

After chilling, freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to it’s direction. About halfway through freezing add sprinkles and chocolate chips and allow the machine to mix them in. After freezing, put the ice cream in an airtight container and freeze for at least two hours. Serve! 🙂

ENJOY! 🙂

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Filed under ice cream