Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Damn good pancakes

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes
Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2003 Copyright 2002

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 large egg white
Cooking spray I fried them in a bit of Promise margarine
¾ cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons butter

1. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine buttermilk, oil, egg, and egg white, stirring with a whisk; add to flour mixture, stirring until just moist.
2. Heat a nonstick griddle or nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Spoon about ¼ cup batter for each pancake onto griddle. Turn pancakes when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Serve with syrup and butter.

Yield: 6 servings Per serving: 351 calories, 10 gms fat, 7.6 gms protein, 59.7 gms carbs, 2.3 gms fiber, 55 mg cholesterol, 2.1 mg iron, 570 mg sodium, 176 mg calcium

One of the best things the internet has brought me is Pancake Day, the Tuesday before Lent. I never knew about this holiday before hearing about it online. This isn't traditionally celebrated in my area. We celebrate Fasnacht Day. Fasnachts are fried donuts, usually with potatoes in the dough. They are delicious if you have a good source but unfortunately I don't have a good source so no fasnachts for me this year. Which is just as well because as much as I love donuts, they really aren't a good nutritional start to my day. Neither are pancakes really (too starchy), which is why I rarely eat them. But I love pancakes, and I've totally embraced Pancake Day since it's a great excuse to have pancakes for dinner.

Usually I use a boxed whole wheat pancake mix and I even had an unopened box in the pantry but I opted to make this recipe instead and I can tell you right now, that box of pancake mix just lost it's job. These were so fluffy and flavorful. Mmmmmm. I wish I had another one right now.

This recipe is a prime example of why I like Cooking Light. These aren't the lowest calorie pancakes you could make, but they are lighter and healthier than traditional pancakes yet still incredibly delicious. They don't tell you to use reduced-calorie syrup and margarine on these beauties - they know pancakes as good as these deserve real maple syrup and real butter.

This book of annual recipes is exciting me a lot more than the Best of Cooking Light. You'll be seeing many more recipes from this book.

Question of the Day: Do you ever eat breakfast for dinner?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Note to self: Add this to my husband's list of favorites

Deep-Dish Chili Pie
Weight Watchers Five Ingredient 15 Minute Cookbook Copyright 2006

1 pound ground round I used ground turkey
1 (15-ounce) can seasoned diced tomatoes sauce for chili (such as Hunt’s) I used Del Monte
1 (13.8-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust dough I couldn't find one exactly this weight so I just bought the storebrand
Cooking Spray
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese, divided I used a 2% Colby/Jack blend
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Cook beef in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain well; return meat to pan. Add tomato sauce; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until heated.
3. While beef cooks, unroll pizza crust dough and press into bottom and halfway up sides of a 13x9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle ½ cup Cheddar cheese over pizza crust; top with ground beef mixture.
4. Bake, uncovered, at 425 degrees for 12 minutes. Top with remaining ½ cup Cheddar cheese and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until crust is browned and cheese melts. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings Per serving: 6 points, 266 calories, 7.4 gms fat, 21.6 gms protein, 28.1 gms carbs, 1.5 gms fiber, 42 mg chol, 2.2 mg iron, 791 mg sodium, 128 mg calcium

My husband doesn't normally comment on my recipes, unless he really likes something or really never wants to be faced with it again. I don't mind this arrangement, as this is a man who puts barbecue sauce on almost anything, even if it already has a sauce. This is a man who ate my Mushroom and Chicken Risotto off of a cheap, paper plate. (Why? I don't know. He doesn't do the dishes but he thinks there is some advantage to not dirtying a real plate.) This is a man who would probably name my hot Italian subs (roll, mayo, pepper spread, meats, and cheese wrapped in foil and baked) as his favorite meal.

So, while I'm happy when he enjoys something, I don't seek out his praise. But this simple, could-definitely-see-Sandra-Lee-making-this-on-her-show recipe received high praise. I agree, that is was very good. That's why I paid $10 for another Weight Watchers Five Ingredient 15 Minute Cookbook. As I learned after buying last year's version of this magazine-style cookbook, these simple recipes may be simple but they're quite good too.

I had a bit too much liquid in my pie (not enough to ruin it) which may not have been a problem if I had drained the turkey properly (ground turkey has a lot more liquid than ground beef, I've found). Also, I used Del Monte diced tomatos, zesty chili style, which may be different from the Hunt's tomatoes that they suggested. I didn't read the directions carefully enough and threw everything together and cooked it all at once (instead of waiting to add the last bit of cheese) but it turned out fine.

I'll definitely make this again. I work 40 hours/week, spend about 1.5 hours/day commuting, and I have a 2-year old. Recipes like this give me a much needed break. We only do take-out or eat out on weekends in our house.

Question of the Day: How often do you grab take-out or eat out?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A pasta dish for ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday

Ditalini With Zucchini
Favorite Brand Name Pasta 365 Recipes Copyright 1997

8 ounces uncooked ditalini pasta
¼ cup olive oil I only used 2 tablespoons, probably could have used less
1 pound zucchini, trimmed and cut into thin rounds
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tomato
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente (tender but still firm). Drain. In medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add zucchini and onion; cook and stir 10 minutes or until zucchini is tender crisp. Place tomato in small saucepan of boiling water; boil 1 minute. Place in bowl of ice water for 10 seconds. Remove skin with paring knife; chop tomato. In large bowl, combine zucchini mixture, tomato and parsley. Toss with pasta. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 3 or 4 servings.

Honestly, I chose this recipe because I had zucchini I picked up off the clearance table and this recipe didn't require any other special ingredients (I had ditalini on hand from making Pasta E Fagioli With Sausage). I didn't expect this to be anything special but this was so good, I almost couldn't stop eating it after I made it, and I was making it to take for lunch not to eat right away. Simple flavors but they worked very well together. Before tasting it I thought I might add some Parmesan or Romano cheese, which would have worked, but it wasn't necessary.

I'm going to admit that I used jarred tomato in this. Yes, jarred tomato! This time of year, even premium priced tomatoes aren't all that great and fresh tomatoes only excite me at their very best so I tried the new jarred petite diced tomatoes from Del Monte. They taste like canned tomatoes, just without the juice, but I like canned tomatoes so I was happy.

I was surprised to read that zucchinis are antioxidant rich. Maybe not near the top, but it sounds like they're more nutritious than I assumed they were. They may look a lot like a cucumber but they're way more advanced, nutrition-wise. So this is my contribution to Sweetnick's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday this week.

This is only the second recipe I've tried from this cookbook but I'm sure they'll be many more in my future. Who doesn't love pasta?

Question of the Day: How many different shapes/varieties of pasta are in your pantry right now?

Awesome muffins

Overnight Oatmeal Muffins
Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2003
Copyright 2002

1 cup regular oats
2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1 2/3 cups whole wheat flour
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup dried blueberries I used golden raisins

1. Combine oats and buttermilk in a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, level with a knife. Place buttermilk mixture, flour and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Fold in blueberries.
4. Spoon ¼ cup batter into each of 24 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pans immediately; place on a wire rack.

Yield: 24 muffins Per muffin: 105 cal, 2.3 gms fat, 3.1 gms protein,
19.4 gms carbs, 1.7 gms fiber, 19 mg cholesterol, 201 mg sodium, 49 mg calcium

I'm on sort of a muffin kick, having made my Apple Oat Bran Muffins the past two weeks but I thought it was time for a change. These Overnight Oatmeal Muffins were great. They're lighter and smoother than the Apple Oat Bran muffins. They don't have much sugar but the raisins I used added a lot of sweetness. The streaks you see in the picture are from the dark brown sugar. I've been having some lumping problems with my current bag.

I only made a half batch of these to see what they were like and they're disappearing quickly. My son and my husband have been enjoying them too. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

I received a gift subscription to Cooking Light back in 2002. I've kept the issues all this time but they were difficult to sort through so I broke down and ordered the book - used, but still almost $10. The book doesn't include as many pictures, which is disappointing, but it's a trade-off for having all the recipes in one place. I actually like this book better than the Best of Cooking Light. I did get really confused trying to find this book since I didn't realize it at first, but everytime I tried to look inside this book on Amazon it would actually show me a different year's version and I couldn't figure out why none of the books had the 2002 recipes (and why call it the 2003 recipes, when they were in the 2o02 magazines??)

Question of the Day:Do you hold onto old magazines?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Just an average dish

Whole Wheat Spaghetti With Sausage and Peppers
Food and Wine Magazine’s Quick From Scratch Pasta Cookbook Copyright 1996, 2001, 2002, 2004

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound mild or hot Italian sausage
1 onion, chopped
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 ¾ teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree
1 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
2 tablespoons dry vermouth or dry white wine I used red wine
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley it's in there but I can't see it in the picture
¾ pound whole-wheat spaghetti I used Dreamfields linguine
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the sausage and cook, turning, until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Remove. When the sausage is cool enough to handle, cut it into ½-inch slices.
2. Add the onion, peppers, and ¾ teaspoon of the salt to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 3 minutes longer. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, broth, vermouth, the reserved sausage and any accumulated juices, the parsley, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a simmer.
3. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the spaghetti until done, about 12 minutes. Drain and toss with the sausage and pepper mixture and the Parmesan. Serve with additional Parmesan.

Serves 4.

This was okay but I really prefer my sausage slow-cooked for a long time. I should have just freestyled this but it wasn't like this was awful or anything. My son ate an unsual (for him) amount of this (just the pasta and sauce). I used Dreamfields because I really prefer it to the whole wheat pasta. I thought I had enough of the spaghetti but I didn't so I used linguine instead.

I wasn't going to make this unless I found red peppers on sale. I just refuse to pay $3.99 for them anymore. Quite often one supermarket I shop at has big bags of them for under $1.50, usually mixed with green, yellow, or orange peppers but this time they had all red. I got about 6 peppers for less than I would pay for one pepper at regular price. Yay!

Okay, I'm not even going to look into any of my Food and Wine Quick From Scratch books for a a couple of weeks since I'm sure everyone is getting sick of them. Between trying to lose weight and trying to work with what I have on hand, it's been a little boring around here and probably will be for a bit longer.

Question of the Week: Do you buy marked down produce and/or meat?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I eat veggies too

Roasted Asparagus with Shaved Parmesan
Weight Watchers Five Ingredient 15 Minute Cookbook Copyright 2006

1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed
½ teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons shaved fresh Parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Toss asparagus with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on a nonstick baking sheet.
3. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender and lightly browned.
4. Place asparagus on a serving platter; sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese.

Yield: 4 servings (about 8 spears) Per serving: 0 points, 30 calories, 1.5 gms fat, 2.5 gms protein, 2.7 gms carbs, 1.4 gms Fiber, 3 mg chol, 200 mg sodium, 53 mg calcium

I know I don't post that many side dishes because side dishes are usually quite simple in our house, not really requiring a recipe. This recipe is so simple, you can hardly call it a recipe but it was in a cookbook so here it is. I've roasted asparagus before but I never thought to throw some lemon juice on it. The Parmesan is really just icing on the cake here - the asparagus is tasty without it too. 'Shaved' Parmesan may be a bit classier, but I think grated Parmesan would have been more functional.

This is a new Weight Watchers Five Ingredient 15 Minute Cookbook. I'm not positive but it looks like it comes out once each year. I saw this on the magazine rack and grabbed it, even though it was $10, since this isn't going to show up on a discount rack anywhere and I really liked the recipes in last year's version.

Question of the Day: What are the last five fruits or veggies you've eaten?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I've been waiting a long time to make this again

Linguine Carbonara
Food and Wine Magazine’s Quick From Scratch Pasta Cookbook Copyright 1996, 2001, 2002, 2004

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
¼ pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup red or white wine I used white with a splash of red because I was a little short on white
½ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
2 eggs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
½ teaspoon salt
¾ pound linguine I used Dreamfields pasta
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. In a small stainless-steel frying pan, heat the oil and butter over moderate heat. Add the bacon and cook until brown but not crisp, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, wine, and pepper. Simmer until wine is reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cheese, and salt.
2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the linguine until just done, about 12 minutes. Drain the pasta, add it to the egg-and-cheese mixture and toss quickly. Pour the bacon mixture over the linguine. Add the parsley and toss just until mixed. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan.

Serves 4.

The first savory recipe I ever followed, word for word, was a recipe for carbonara. It was out of a magazine, possibly Young Miss. I did a lot of cooking as a child, most of the family cooking actually, and I would use recipes for guidelines but this was the first time I did everything as stated in a recipe, with no substitutions. I had never had carbonara before and I haven't had it since. It was delicious so why have I avoided it? Probably because I made this when I home alone and ate it all myself. It's taken me about 25 years to get over the guilt associated with this dish. Bacon. Eggs. Butter. Cheese. I know I make dishes all of the time that are more caloric than this but I had a real mental block when it came to making this again. (But maybe I'm not being ridiculous - Kristen at The Way The Cookie Crumbles made this three weeks ago and hasn't blogged since. Did she suffer a massive coronary? Is she laid up with a bad case of gout?)

But I'm glad I got over it. This was awesome. My two year old loved it too and it was so simple to prepare. I'm not going to start making this everyday but I will make it again. And again. Hey, at least I used Dreamfields pasta, even though it costs 3 times as much as regular pasta.

I think I have maybe one more recipe from this series this week and then I'm going to pack them away for a while since I've been relying on them too heavily. I had a recent cookbook buying binge (yikes!- but I'm still under my $100 budget for the year) so I'd like to give those new books a chance as well as the shelves full of older books you still haven't seen anything from.

Question of the Day: Are you willing to pay a premium for healthier food choices?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Soup for ARF/-5-A-Day Tuesday

Lentil Soup With Smoked Sausage
Food and Wine Magazine’s Quick From Scratch Herbs and Spices Cookbook Copyright 1998, 2002, 2004

2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 pound lentils (about 2 1/3 cups)
1 ½ cups drained canned diced tomatoes (one 15-ounce can)
2 ½ quarts water, more if needed
4 teaspoons dried summer savory, or ¼ cup chopped fresh savory I used dried
1 bay leaf
1 ¾ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
½ pound kielbasa or other smoked sausage I used smoked turkey sausage

1. In a large pot, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the celery, onion, and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Add the lentils, tomatoes, water, dried savory, if using, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and cook, partially covered, until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick frying pan over moderately high heat. Add the sausage and cook, turning, until browned, about 3 minutes in all. Remove. When the sausage cooks enough to handle, cut crosswise into ¼ -inch thick slices.
4. Stir the sausage and fresh savory, if using, into the soup and simmer for 5 minutes longer. Remove the bay leaf. If the soup is too thick for your taste, thin it with additional water.

I haven't made as many soups as I thought I would this winter, due to an unusually warm season. But we're finally getting some good soup weather here. I've had my eye on this recipe for a while but I didn't have any savory on hand and it was very expensive for an ingredient I can honestly say that I rarely (or should I say, never) see called for in other recipes. I was going to substitute thyme until I found some savory at a good price in the local Amish store. I don't know if it was summer savory and truthfully, this could actually be thyme because it sure tasted a lot like thyme to me.

I used to make lentils quite often but I haven't made them in years. I forgot how much I enjoy them and they're healthy too. I don't know where they rank but they're supposedly high in antioxidants, so this is my contribution to Sweetnick's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesdays. Sweetnick had a rough week and had her gallbladder removed (which my sister insisted was more painful than childbirth, even after having two children). I hope she's feeling better.

The soup was delicious, healthy and filling. They were smart and added the smoked sausage in towards the end. Otherwise, the smoked sausage would lose all of it's flavor into the broth.

I'm starting to think I should rename this blog The Food and Wine Magazine's Quick From Scratch Cookbook Junkie. I can't help but keep reaching for these books.

Question of the Day: Have you been making (or eating) a lot of soup this winter?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Finally a good baked buffalo wing recipe

Baked Buffalo Chicken Wings
Food and Wine Magazine’s Quick From Scratch Chicken Cookbook Copyright 1997, 2001, 2004

4 pounds chicken wings
3 tablespoons cooking oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 ¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons cayenne
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
¼ pound blue cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
2 scallions, including green tops, chopped
5 teaspoons vinegar
¼ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
¼ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce ( I used Crytal Hot Sauce)
8 ribs celery, cut into sticks

1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the wings, oil, garlic, 1 ½ teaspoons of the salt, and the cayenne. Arrange the wings in a single layer on two large baking sheets. Bake until just done, about 25 minutes. I had the full wings and cooked these much, much longer.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium glass or stainless-steel bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, blue cheese, scallions, 1 teaspoon of the vinegar, the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and the black pepper.
3. In a large bowl, combine the ketchup, the remaining 4 teaspoons vinegar, and the Tabasco sauce. Add the wings and toss to coat. Serve with the celery stick and blue-cheese dressing alongside.

I kept the proportions of this recipe the same but for about 12- 14 full-wings, I made 1 1/2 times the recipe for the wing sauce and I only made half the recipe for the blue cheese dip. I was curious how this recipe would be since I've never seen a buffalo chicken wing recipe using ketchup before but these were great. They weren't terribly hot since I used Crystal instead of Tabasco but that's how I prefer them. The blue cheese dip was excellent too. I almost left the scallions out but I'm glad I didn't. I liked the slight oniony taste they gave the dip. Most of the commercial blue cheese dressings aren't very flavorful. My two-year old loved the blue cheese dip but he's a horrible, double-dipper. Actually he just used the celery as a spoon basically, even George Costanza would have been mortified.

I've tried to make baked buffalo wings before but this is my first success. Other times the wings weren't crispy enough but this time they were. These aren't really much healthier than deep-fried wings I suppose but it's just not worth filling our deep fryer with oil for as much as we use it. It does take quite a while longer to get wings crispy in the oven compared to how long it takes to deep fry them but we weren't in a hurry.

I forget exactly what the score is with these Food and Wine cookbooks but it's many, many successes to only one failure. I would definitely make these wings again. Hopefully next time, I'll have the wingettes and drummies on hand. I don't mind the full wings but I prefer them broken down (I'm a wingette girl).

Question of the Day: Do you prefer the 'drummie' or the 'wingette' part of the wing, or don't you care for wings at all?

Friday, February 17, 2006

It's Pizza Friday!

Pizza Crust
From the Breadman TR2828 Instruction Manual

¾ cup water, 80 degrees
1 TBL olive oil
1 TBL sugar
½ tsp salt
2 ¼ cups bread flour
1 tsp active dry yeast

Makes 2 (12-inch) crusts or 1 thin 16-inch crust

Use Dough mode and 3 Pizza Menu

1. Divide dough into 2 parts. On lightly floured surface, roll or pat dough into a 12-inch circle. Place on a greased pizza pan.
2. Spread/sprinkle with favorite pizza toppings. Bake at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes or until toppings are bubbling and/or melted.

This is the pizza I made last week. I tried the regular pizza crust recipe instead of the whole wheat (minor difference in the recipe -sub 1/2 cup of whole wheat for 1/2 cup of the bread flour). I decided the whole wheat crust was better but I'm still going to look for other recipes. It's not that easy since my double loaf machine only makes 1 pound loaves and a maximum of only about 2 1/2 cups of flour is recommended for recipes. Most pizza crust recipes I've seen are larger. I'm afraid the larger recipes might not knead and rise properly in my machine so I'll have to scale them down.

I also made a ham and pineapple pizza last week but I didn't get a picture. I used the whole wheat crust recipe for that. Tonight is the sixth time I'm using my bread machine so after that I can cross it off of my list of resolutions. I bought some fresh mozzarella for tonight's pizza.

Sorry for the boring week but I lost three pounds! I had a crazy busy week and I never got around to making a few things I had planned so hopefully you'll see those next week. I also made a pork stew we didn't eat last night, opting for McD's instead, after a particularly crazy day. I'll probably freeze it and maybe post about it when we actually eat it.

Question of the Day: What toppings do you like on pizza?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Short on time this week

Suzie’s Sloppy Joes
Favorite Brand Name 100 Best Hamburger Recipes Copyright 2003

3 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ¼ cups ketchup
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
5 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons vinegar
3 tablespoon prepared mustard
2 teaspoons chili powder
Hamburger buns I used whole wheat buns

Brown ground beef, onion and garlic in large skillet. Drain excess fat. Combine ketchup, bell pepper, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard and chili powder in slow cooker. Stir in beef mixture. Cover and cook on LOW 6 to 8 hours. Spoon into hamburger buns.

I didn't make this in the slow cooker. I just browned the meat with the onion, garlic and pepper and then added the other ingredients and simmered it for about 10-15 minutes.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

I grew up eating 'wimpies' and they're still one of my favorite quick meals. I've made them before here, but I like this recipe better. This is a very personal thing, how you prefer your sloppy joes, but I happen to like ketchup. I remember Sara Moulton making sloppy joes using a lot of ketchup once too and she has worked with Julia Child so don't look down your nose at me!

I needed a more modern hamburger cookbook since the other one I have is from 1971. I always have ground beef or ground turkey on hand and it's surprisingly difficult to think of ways to use them sometimes. This cookbook should help.

Question of the Day:What are some of your favorite ground meat dishes?

I wish I could add audio to this

Sausage and Mushroom Pasta
Favorite Brand Name Slow Cooker Casseroles and More Copyright 2002

1 can (10 ¾ ounces) reduced-fat condensed tomato soup I used the regular stuff
¼ cup fat-free(skim) milk
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 cup sliced mushrooms
½ teaspoon salt (optional) this isn't necessary
1 (7-ounce package) reduced-fat smoked turkey sausage, cut into 1/8-inch slices
2 cups cooked bow tie pasta

Combine soup and milk in small bowl, mix well and set aside. Spray large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion, pepper, garlic and Italian seasoning; cook and stir until onion and pepper are tender. Add mushrooms and salt, if desired; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes. Add sausage, mix well. (I added the soup mixture here although they didn't mention it.) Reduce heat; cover and simmer an additional 2 minutes. Add pasta; toss until coated with sauce.

Makes 6 servings.

This was my kid-friendly choice of the week. My son really loved this. I heard so many 'Mmmmmmmmmms' while he was eating this. It was too funny.

I've always liked smoked sausage in a tomato base but I've usually used jarred pasta sauce or tomato sauce in the past, which are also fine but I like the slight creaminess the tomato soup and milk mixture gives this. And I got to use up another can of tomato soup from my stash. The smoked sausage adds so much great flavor to the sauce.

I don't think I've pulled out this cookbook since the crab enchilada casserole disaster (a very close second to the cauliflower, potato and pea curry disaster). But I'm a forgiving person and this really is a great cookbook.

Question of the Day:Do you lose a little bit of faith in a cookbook after a recipe fails?

Monday, February 13, 2006

ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday Plan B

Apple Oat Bran Muffins
Have Your Cake and Eat It Too Copyright 1993

Butter-flavor no stick cooking spray
1 ½ Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apples I used Gala
2 large egg whites
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider or apple juice I used low-fat buttermilk
3 tablespoons canola or safflower oil
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
½ cup unsifted all-purpose flour
½ cup unsifted whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup oat bran
½ cup seedless raisins
granulated sugar

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Coat the muffin cups with cooking spray.
2. Peel apples and grate on medium-size holes of box or mandoline grated to make 1 ½ cups grated apples. I used the large holes on my grater.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, cider or juice, oil, brown sugar, and apples. Set a strainer over the bowl and add both flours, the baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir and sift the dry ingredients onto the egg mixture. Add the oat bran and raisins and stir well to blend.
4. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle a little granulated sugar over the batter. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in a muffin comes out clean. (Watch these closely after 15-20 minutes.) Cool the muffins in the pan on a wire rack for about 5 minutes, then gently pry them for the pan with a fork. Serve warm. They're good when they're not warm too!

Makes 12 2 ½-inch muffins. Per muffin (with juice or cider) : 145 calories, 3 g protein, 4 g fat, .4 g sat fat, 27 g. carbs, 156 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol.

This wasn't supposed to be my contribution to this week's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesdays over at Sweetnicks. Sunday night I made a Cauliflower, Potato and Pea Curry from Food and Wine Magazine's Quick From Scratch Herbs and Spices Cookbook. I decided not to blog about is as I don't think words and phrases such as 'gag', 'nauseating', 'almost puked' and 'I'd rather stick my head up a baboon's ass than ever smell that odor again' belong in a food blog. I was still sickened by the thought of this dish the next day, long after it was in the trash and moved out of the kitchen. I don't think it was the recipe, I think it came down to their being some flavors and aromas that I just don't care for and this dish fell squarely into that category.

As much as I hated the curry dish, I love these muffins. I've actually made these several times, although not recently and never with buttermilk. They were moist and delicious but they were on the small side. They probably would have risen a taller if I had adjusted the leavening agent since I replaced the liquid with buttermilk. I know there are 'formulas' for that since buttermilk is more acidic than most liquids (but is it more acidic than apple cider or apple juice??). Anyone have any suggestions in this regard for next time? Should I have gone with just baking soda and if so, how much?

Although Gala apples are high in antioxidants, I didn't use the skin here, which is where most of the antioxidants in apples are found. But I used 2 whole apples in these so each muffin has 1/6 of an apple, raisins (which are rich in antioxidants), whole wheat flour and oat bran. They're low in fat and although the fiber wasn't in the nutritional breakdown, I believe the author mentioned in the text that each muffin had 2 grams of fiber. Not a earth-shattering amount of fiber but I give kudos any time a food has any measurable amount of fiber. Personally I think these would be great packed in a lunchbox. I packed one in my lunch bag, in fact.

I really need to try more recipes in this book. I really like the author's approach - she crunches the numbers but she seems to have really put an effort into getting a quality final product.

Question of the Day: What was your worst culinary failure?

Another shot at macaroni and cheese

Baked Macaroni
Joy of Cooking Copyright 1931, 1936, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1946, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1975

Boil in salted water:
4 oz macaroni, 1 cup
Drain it.
Preheat oven to 350 degreed.
Place layers of macaroni in a buttered baking dish.
Sprinkle the layers with:
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Beat until blended:
1 or 2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon paprika
a few grains of cayenne
1 slice pimiento, optional I omitted this
¼ cup chopped green peppers or 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, optional I omitted this
1 tablespoon grated onion, optional I added this
Pour this mixture over the macaroni. Sprinkle top with dry bread crumbs, dots of butter and grated cheese.
Bake the macaroni about 40 minutes.

I made this a few weeks ago but never got around to posting it. It didn't wow me but I happen to personally know a few people (well, at least one) who like this type of baked macaroni and cheese so I thought it was worth sharing. I guess I'm just not a fan of custardy baked macaroni and cheese. I like my mac n cheese to be ooey and gooey. I really wanted Alton's Brown's stovetop version when I made this but I didn't have evaporated milk on hand. I should have made Horn and Hardart’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese again. I loved that recipe but I always think that no matter how good my mac n cheese turns out that there is always a better recipe out there.

Can I be honest? Joy of Cooking is just not one of my favorite cookbooks. No where even near the top of the list. Sure, it has a recipe for practically everything and it's been around forever but it just doesn't have that cookbook 'magic' I look for in a cookbook. It's comprehensive, I'll give you that, so if you need a recipe for kidneys or brains, you'll probably find one there but I don't think it necessarily has the 'best' recipes.

Question of the Day: Is there a dish that you keep trying a new recipe for, searching for the 'best' version or maybe a version you remember from your past?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I guess sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't

Venison Paprika
301 Venison Recipes: The Ultimate Deer Hunter's Cookbook Copyright 1992

¼ cup shortening I used canola oil
2 pounds cubed venison
1 cup onion, sliced
1 small clove garlic, minced
¾ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon dry mustard
1 ½ cups water
dash hot pepper

water and flour to thicken

Melt shortening in large skillet. Add meat, onion and garlic. Cook and stir until meat is brown and onion is tender. Stir in ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, salt, paprika, mustard, hot pepper and 1 ½ cups water. Cover and simmer for 2 to 2 ½ hours. Blend flour and water, stir in gradually to meat mixture. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Serve over noodles.

Some of you may recall that weeks ago I really liked the venison from the latest deer my husband killed. Well, we ate it twice more (not in new recipes) and I found myself wondering if I had been secretly hypnotized and I had finally snapped out of it - I didn't care for it again. So this time I soaked this meat in salted water first, then buttermilk and hot sauce before making this dish. I also made this the night before we ate it for dinner, since it had such a long cooking time, and I think that helped the (good) flavors develop. I actually liked this a lot. My two-year old scarfed it down too.

The deer this meat came from is now staring down at me in my living room (my husband is an aspiring taxidermist) . It's a little unsettling.

Since I wasn't sure if I would be able to eat this, instead of noodles I made Alton Brown's Stove-Top Mac n Cheese, a recipe from the Ugly Binder, to go along with this. I've made this many, many times. Randi made it recently, if you want the recipe. You can also find it on the Food TV site too. I used all the odds and ends of cheese I had building up in the refrigerator. I suggest putting the recipe together and then just adding as much cheese as you think is necessary because personally I think it calls for more than it needs (and I love cheese!).

This cookbook is a sloppy collection of venison recipes, many quite similar, maybe some exactly the same. They were sent in to deer hunter magazines and collected from other sources. Many have the same name - there are several 'Venison Paprika' recipes, as well as several 'Venison Stroganoff' recipes, for instance. It doesn't really inspire a lot of confidence since I don't get the feeling that anyone tested these recipes, but it makes up for that with the sheer volume of recipes to chose from. I've learned to look for recipes with stronger flavors (or at least some sort of tomato base) because those seem to be the recipes I like to use venison in. This recipe would also be good with beef or pork.

Question of the Day: Are you going to be cooking anything this weekend?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Pasta with a twist

Tex-Mex Cavatappi
Food and Wine Magazine’s Quick From Scratch Pasta Cookbook Copyright 1996,2001,2002,2004

2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 pound ground beef I used ground turkey
1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
2 cups (one 16-ounce jar) chunky tomato salsa I used chipotle salsa
¾ pound cavatappi
2 teaspoons lime juice or red-wine vinegar I used red-wine vinegar
¼ cup chopped cilantro or parsley I used parsley
6 ounces cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 ½ cups) I used a cheddar-jack blend
Lime wedges for serving (optional)

1. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add the ground beef (or turkey) and cook until well browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, salt and pepper. Add the salsa and simmer over low heat to allow the flavors to combine, about 10 minutes.
2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the cavatappi until just done, about 13 minutes. Drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce, lime juice, cilantro and 1 cup of the cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup cheese and serve with wedges of lime if you like.

A while back I bought an expensive jar of chipotle salsa from the wife of a coworker. I think the brand is Wildtree Herbs - it's one of those party sales thingies but there was no party, just a book. A book of expensive products.

So, of course, if you pay $8.00 for salsa (16 oz, not the big jug like Costco's peach manga salsa - yum), you aren't going to run home and eat it with store-brand tortilla chips, right? So this was just sitting on the shelf, waiting for it's moment. I saw this recipe several times before my brain clicked in and I remembered this salsa. This was such a perfect use for this salsa. I'm not sure how good this recipe would be with an 'everyday' jarred salsa - get something sassy! The only ripple was that this dish had extra tang since I added the red-wine vinegar but since lime juice was the second ingredient in this salsa, I probably didn't need to add that ingredient.

This was super, super, super (yes, three 'supers'!) simple. Not even and onion or clove of garlic to chop, just a bit of parsley, which really isn't essential (there's probably cilantro in most salsas). The cavatappi is such a beautiful and fun pasta shape but I took the last bag off the shelf and I'm frightened I won't be able to find it anymore. I have the worst time finding the pasta shapes I want (you can't even get small shells locally!)

As you can see, I'm just addicted to these Food and Wine Magazine's Quick From Scratch Cookbooks. I just can't say enough good things about these books. I'm definitely grabbing them if the house burns down.

They say salsa is the most popular condiment.
Question of the Day: How much salsa do you consume?

Time for something sweet

Brown Mountain Cake
Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook Copyright 1959, 1972

1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
3 c. sifted flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
3 tblsp. cocoa
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
½ c. warm water

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Soft together flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa; add alternately with buttermilk to creamed mixture. Stir in vanilla and warm water. Pour batter into a lightly greased and floured 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees) about 45 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool cake on rack. Frost with your favorite chocolate frosting.

Creamy Chocolate Frosting
Hershey’s 1934 Cookbook Copyright 1992

2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup cocoa
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon light corn syrup (optional)
5 to 6 tablespoons milk

In a medium bowl, stir together powdered sugar and cocoa; set aside. In small mixture bowl, beat butter until creamy; add ½ cup powdered sugar mixture, corn syrup, if desired, and vanilla, beating until well blended. Add remaining powdered sugar mixture alternately with milk until of spreading consistency.

I had buttermilk that I needed to use up and I thought my coworkers were due for a treat. This simple chocolate cake recipe is what I settled on. I like the light hand with the cocoa in this. This was so moist and stayed moist (in a lidded Pyrex baking dish) even though I work with a small team and it can take us a few days to finish off a cake. This is definitely a recipe I'll use again.

I'm not usually a big fan of chocolate frosting on a chocolate cake but since the cake recipe suggested a chocolate frosting, I went along this one time. I think a vanilla buttercream would have worked very well here too. Or a light mocha frosting. Or a peanut butter frosting.

Another winning recipe from the Farm Journal's Country Cookbook.

Question of the Day: If I told you that you could have any cake that you want right now, what kind of cake would you ask for?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Good stuff (another ugly one)

Pasta E Fagioli With Sausage
Food and Wine Magazine’s Quick From Scratch Italian Cookbook Copyright 1998, 2002, 2004

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound mild Italian sausage
1 carrot, chopped fine
1 onion, chopped fine
1 rib celery, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
6 cups drained and rinsed canned kidney beans ( three 19-ounce cans) I used three 15.5-ounce cans
2 ¾ cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup tubetti or other small macaroni
½ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

1. In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Add the sausages and cook, turning, until browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove. When cool enough to handle, halve the sausages and then cut crosswise into slices.
2. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the pot over moderately low heat. Add the carrot, onion, celery, garlic, and rosemary. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 10 minutes.
3. Puree 4 cups of the beans along with 1 ¼ cups of the broth in a blender or food processor. Add the puree to the pot along with the remaining 1 ½ cups broth, the whole beans, bay leaf, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes.
4. Stir in the pasta. Cook the soup over moderate heat, partially covered, stirring frequently, until the pasta is done, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Stir in the sausage and the pepper. Cook until the sausage is warmed through, about 1 minute.

The thought of pasta and beans doesn't usually excite me. I usually think of a meatless dish with white beans. This recipe with the kidney beans and sausage caught my eye though. I thought it would be perfect for Sweetnick's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday, which is actually being hosted by Stephanie at Dispensing Happiness this week. I used one of my favorite sweet Italian sausages and this stuff was just packed with flavor.

Will Food and Wine Magazine's Quick From Scratch series ever let me down??? I'm going to be very surprised the day that happens.

Question of the Day: Can you 'handle' beans (if you know what I mean)?

Read this quickly before it disappears!

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
Breadman TR2828 Instruction Manual

¾ cup water, 80 degrees
1 TBL olive oil
1 TBL sugar
½ tsp salt
1 ¾ cups bread flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp active dry yeast

Makes 2 (12-inch) crusts (Or one 16-inch)

Use Dough mode and 3 Pizza Menu

1. Divide dough into 2 parts. On lightly floured surface, roll or pat dough into a 12-inch circle. Place on a greased pizza pan.
2. Spread/sprinkle with favorite pizza toppings. Bake at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes or until toppings are bubbling and/or melted.

Blogger has been eating my posts all weekend so hopefully that bug has been fixed by now. Fortunately I hadn't posted any recipes over the weekend.

I finally made pizza! It was so easy with my new bread machine. It only takes 50 minutes to make the dough. One of the reasons I've put off making my own crust is that Friday night is pizza night in our house and I work full-time. We don't like to eat dinner late. I can have this done by the time my husband gets home.

I made the whole-wheat version of pizza crusts from my manual and I topped it with jarred sauce, an Italian blend of cheeses, cheddar cheese and then some fresh grated Romano. I also had some pepperoni on hand. I used the screened pizza pans.

I thought it was really good. The crust really reminded me of take-out except that it was whole-wheat. Take-out around here usually isn't cooked right (too soggy and underdone) and the cheese they use can get really greasy. This was so much better.

So I can cross another one off my list of culinary New Year's Resolutions. And I used my bread machine for a third time so I'm halfway to crossing that resolution off the list.

Question of the Day: Do you have a standard meal that you eat on a certain day of the week?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Just like the old days

I rarely used to use a recipe for savory foods but now I find myself almost exclusively using recipes, so I can blog about them. It's been almost five months now since I started this blog and I'm having trouble recollecting what we used to eat for dinner when I was a 'freestyle' cook.

Last night I found myself without a recipe planned. Well, venison was on the menu but I wasn't excited about it. My new-found love of deer meat was as short-lived as most of my romantic relationships. I wasn't too upset when our large freezer crapped out and my husband gave most of the venison away.

Anyway, I needed a quick replacement and I happened to have a package of flour tortillas on hand. I decided to make an old 'freestyle' favorite - quesadillas. I was going to post a Basic Quesadilla recipe from a Martha Stewart cookbook (well, she had some fancy filling options along with it, of course) but really, who needs a recipe for quesadillas?? It's way more fun to make something like a quesadilla without a recipe.

This is what I did:
I tossed chicken tenders and sliced onions, sliced red, yellow and green peppers with homemade taco seasoning, salt (I leave the salt out of the seasoning when I mix it up) and a little bit of oil. I threw it all on the George Foreman grill until the chicken was cooked through. I pulled it all off the grill and wiped the grill down. I roughly chopped the chicken, onions, and peppers and sandwiched that with cheese (I thought I had enough cheddar but I didn't so I also added deli-style American cheese) between two flours tortillas, which I sprayed with a bit of cooking spray, on the sides that would hit the grill. I threw them back on the GF grill (one by one - these were dinner plate sized) and that was it. I topped them with some taco sauce, sour cream and pickled jalepeños.

My husband was so excited to see these. I don't know if he really loves quesadillas or if he was just glad to see something he recognized for a change. He ate two of these (and they were huge!) I know him well enough to have known I didn't need to make any sides with this but in the past I've accompanied this with some pretty good freestyle rice.

So there you have it, it was a recipe free night. A blast from the past.

Question of the Day: Which foods do you enjoy making 'freestyle'?

I wish this looked as good as it tasted

Old-Time Beef Stew
America The Beautiful Cookbook Copyright 1990

3 lbs stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes I only used about 1.75 lbs
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped I sliced two medium onions
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour I accidentally added too much, making my gravy too thick
1 cup beef stock
1 ½ cups dark beer I used Coors Light lol
1 ½ tablespoons dark brown sugar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or pinch of dried thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pat the beef cubes dry with paper towels. Sprinkle well with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons butter with the oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sauté the meat, a few pieces at a time, until well browned and transfer to a plate. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Add the onion; cook for 1 minute. Add the garlic; cook 4 minutes longer. Stir in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Whisk in the stock, scraping the sides and bottom of the pot. Add the beer, sugar, vinegar, thyme and sautéed meat. Heat to boiling. Cover and bake in the oven for 1 ½ hours. Let cool. Reheat, covered, on top of stove and sprinkle with parsley before serving.

I loved this stew! I debated over several stew recipes - some including carrots - but settled on this one and it was so good. It had a touch of sweetness which I liked. I overthickened it a bit but otherwise it was perfect. I would definitely make this again. They tell you that it's best reheated but it tasted pretty good when I tasted it right out of the oven too.

This is a large softcover cookbook that offers authentic regional American recipes. It's the kind of cookbook that you can just flip through over and over. It has lots of great pictures and commentary too. This beef stew recipe is supposedly something that is popular in Wisconsin. This book was part of a series and I'm kicking myself that this is the only one I purchased.

Okay, time for the Question of the Day. Do you eat red meat? Why or why not?

I'm easily confused

My Mother’s Tuesday Night Meatball Soup
Primi Piatti Italian First Courses That Make A Meal Copyright 1989

½ pound lean ground beef
¼ cup (loosely packed) finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
1 egg
2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

3 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
3 large carrots, peeled and trimmed
3 celery ribs, trimmed and sliced
Half a 3-pound frying chicken, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup alphabet pasta
1 cup diced fresh or canned Italian tomatoes
Grated Romano cheese

Combine all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until thoroughly blended. Chill the mixture up to 4 hours.

Heat the broth, water, carrots and celery in a 5-quart pot over high heat to boiling. Add the chicken, reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer, skimming the surface occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 40 minutes.

Remove the chicken pieces from the broth to a plate. Cool to room temperature.
For m the meat mixture into ¾-inch meatballs, rolling them smooth between your palms. Refrigerate until needed, up to 3 hours.

Pick the meat from the chicken bones. Shred as much as you would like to add to the soup. Reserve the remaining meat for another use. (The cookbook author said that his mom would sauté the extra chicken with potatoes and serve it along with this soup.)

Add the pasta to the soup. Heat to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the tomatoes, meatballs and shredded chicken. Cook until the pasta is tender and the meatballs are cooked through, about 6 minutes. Ladle into soup bowls, passing cheese separately.

One simple thing threw me off in this recipe. He didn't say to slice the carrots. Were the carrots supposed to be removed from the broth or sliced in the soup? I ended up cooking some carrots and celery with the chicken, then discarding those and adding more chopped carrots and celery to the broth before completing the soup.

This was good soup. Very filling. I love the flavor from the Romano cheese.

This recipe is from one of my older cookbooks, from my book warehouse days, and this is the first I've ever cooked from it. The recipes aren't bad, however, with no pictures I've just never gotten very excited about this book. And to be honest, when I first acquired this book, a lot of the recipes probably seemed more exotic to me than they do now.

On the bread front, I baked two more loaves last night. Randi asked which bread machine I'm using. It's the Breadman TR2828 but I didn't pay $99.99. I actually didn't pay for it at all - it was a gift from my husband but I picked it out at Ollie's Bargain Outlet so I know it was only $39.99. It wasn't reconditioned either, like many of the appliances they sell there. It was an impulse buy and I'm still not sure how I feel about it making the two smaller loaves, instead of one larger loaf. My plan is to eventually mainly use it to do all the work and then bake things off in the oven. I've never baked bread before so I've taking things slowly.

So far I've only made plain white bread, since this was emergency bread for my husband and I don't have any whole wheat flour on hand. It's quite a treat for us since I never buy white sandwich bread.

Okay, here's a new feature at the Cookbook Junkie - the Question of the Day. Just my way of trying to encourage more comments. Okay, today's question is:

What kind of soup reminds you of your childhood?