Thursday, January 31, 2008

I'm trying
--Heritage Supper

Heritage Supper
The Complete Cheese Cookbook Copyright 1971

2 tablespoons margarine
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk I used low-fat milk
¼ teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper
½ pound of Velveeta, cubed I used 2% Velveeta
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
1 3-ounce can sliced mushrooms, drained
¼ cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped pimiento
1 8-ounce package thin spaghetti, cooked, drained I used Smart Taste
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 ½ cups cooked ham strips I used turkey ham

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Make white sauce with margarine, flour, milk and seasonings. Add Velveeta, green pepper, mushrooms, onion and pimiento; stir until Velveeta melts. Combine spaghetti and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese; layer half of spaghetti, ham and Velveeta sauce in 12x8-inch baking dish; repeat layers. Top with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 degrees, 25 minutes.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

I’m not sure what drew me to this recipe. Desperation? LOL. Nothing appeals to me these days so something homey must have sounded good. It was pleasant but honestly I shouldn’t be giving my opinion these days because very little thrills me. Pizza Bread was the only thing I ate this week that I did flips over but I’m not sure if you can trust me when I like something either.

This is a Kraft book so ‘Complete Cheese’ is a bit misleading. It does discuss a lot of fancier cheeses but the recipes stick to cheeses that Kraft was producing in 1971.

I went grocery shopping last night and it was depressing. Prices are so high and I had no idea what I would be in the mood for all week so I was throwing things in the cart willy-nilly. I had one of those bad-turning carts and I almost pulled an abdominal muscle pushing it around after it was full. They discontinued my favorite pizza cheese (Freschetta) which was just the right blend and not greasy when baked.

I'm glad this week is over!

Blast From The Past: Old-Time Beef Stew from February 2006. I can't believe I haven't made that again this year yet.

Question of the Day: What's the last meal you ordered at a restaurant? (Maybe that will inspire me! The last meal I had in a restaurant, besides McDs, was a pulled pork sandwich and fries.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Very simple
--Fiesta Chicken

Fiesta Chicken
Home Cooking 2005 Recipe Annual Copyright 2005

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
½ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix I make my own so I can control the sodium
Cracker crumbs
1 cup cheddar cheese I used 2% cheddar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking dish. Pound chicken breasts slightly to flatten them to a uniform size. Coat chicken breasts with sour cream. Combine cracker crumbs and taco seasoning mix. Dredge chicken in mixture. Place in prepared dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes.

Serves 4.

I've been completely exhausted the past couple of weeks so something this simple was just what I needed. It was nothing incredibly special (I seem to say that a lot these days) but it used ingredients I had lying around and it was super quick. I didn't need to cook mine nearly as long as the recipe suggested. It seemed to go over well too - my son even asked for seconds.

I'm in that weird place again where nothing I eat is all that satisfying. Maybe that is why I'm really struggling with next week's menu. Hundreds of cookbooks and I was coming up blank last night. I came up with a few ideas but I may scrap everything and start over.

Blast From The Past: Deep-Dish Chili Pie from February 2006. Maybe I'll make that next week since pizza crust and cheese are on sale.

Question of the Day: Anyone else burned out?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

More from Mamma
--Sausage, Peppers, and Potatoes

Sausage, Peppers, and Potatoes
Cooking and Canning with Mamma D’Amato Copyright 1997

6 potatoes
1 onion, sliced
3 green or red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
1 ½ pounds Italian sausage

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel potatoes and cut into wedges. (I didn't peel my potatoes.)Layer potatoes, onion slices, and peppers in a baking dish and sprinkle with garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Lay sausages on top of mixture and prick each sausage with fork several times. Bake until mixture browns, 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Serves 4 to 6.

Mamma D'Amato knows her way around the kitchen and I have faith in her recipes except for one thing which I almost forgot - don't trust her cooking times and temperatures! I've noticed with other recipes that the cooking time and temps are just too long, too high. After about 30 minutes at 400 degrees, I checked on these and my sausages were already too brown but the potatoes were far from done. I turned down the oven at that point but I would go lower from the start if I do it again.

I made this the night before we ate it and some of my onions and peppers that were on the ends burned and the sausages were a bit overdone so I wasn't sure it would be a success but it was. It was flavorful and really not too heavy considering this dish contained sausage and potatoes. I would usually toss everything in a bit of oil first but this used only the fat from the sausages. Italian sausage is fatty enough without adding more fat so that was a nice plus. It was a bit dry in the sense that there wasn't any real juice but I had a bit of ketchup along side mine.

Blast From The Past: Balsamic Chicken from January 2006, also from Mamma D'Amato.

Question of the Day: Was your mother a good cook?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Baking bread
--Pizza Bread

Pizza Bread
Great Bread Machine Recipes Copyright 1992

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup chopped pepperoni
½ teaspoon dried onion
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoon dry milk
1 ½ teaspoon pizza spice I used Italian seasoning
4 teaspoons Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon garlic salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup warm water
¼ cup tomato sauce I used pizza sauce

Prepare following the instructions in your bread machine booklet.


I don't use my bread machine to bake bread very often. I use it to make pizza dough once each week and I occasionally make the dough for rolls or Italian bread but actually baking a loaf of bread in it is a rarity. I've collected a few nice bread machine cookbooks so I have plenty of recipes.

I had some leftover turkey pepperoni and pizza sauce from making pizza last week so I made this pizza bread which was successful enough that you may see me making bread a lot more often. The nice thing is that my bread machine makes small 1-pound loaves, one or two at a time, and since I'm the only one who really eats the bread, that's good or the rest of me would be expanding along with my waistline.

This was really great toasted with some butter and a scrambled egg and cheese for breakfast. Although, if I'm going to make a habit out of making bread, I'm going to need to make something healthier since this is basically white bread.

Blast From The Past: St. Paddy’s Day Rye from March of last year. I made the dough in my bread machine and finished it off in the oven. It made great Reubens.

Question of the Day: Do you have a bread machine? Do you use it? I might have asked that question before but refresh my memory.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Pretty in Pink
--Big, Soft Sugar Cookies with Strawberry Icing

Big, Soft Sugar Cookies with Strawberry Icing
The All-American Dessert Book Copyright 2005

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
2/3 cup solid white shortening at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon lemon extract
¼ cup sour cream

Strawberry Icing
1 cup strawberries, at room temperature
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
About 4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft but not melted
1 ½ tablespoons light corn syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Water, if needed

In a medium bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, salt and baking powder; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, butter and shortening. With an electric mixture on medium speed, beat until well-blended and fluffy, about 1 ½ minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs, corn syrup, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon extract until smoothly incorporated. Beat in half the dry ingredients, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. On low speed, beat in the sour cream. Then beat or stir in the remaining dry ingredients just until the mixture is well-blended and smooth. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 2 days.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Generously grease several large baking sheets or generously coat with nonstick spray.

On a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper, shape the chilled dough into a 6-inch disk. Cut the disk into quarters. Wrap 3 of the quarters in plastic wrap or wax paper and return to the refrigerator. Cut the remaining quarter into 6 equal pieces. With greased hands, shape each piece into a ball. Arrange the balls on baking sheets, spacing them about 3 inches apart; don’t crowd as the cookies will spread. Lightly dust your palm with flour then press down each ball until it is a scant ½-inch thick and about 2 ½ inches in diameter. Continue shaping the cookies, leaving each dough portion refrigerated until needed.

Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned and the tops just spring back when lightly pressed in the center. Transfer the sheets to wire racks. Let the cookies stand for 1 to 2 minutes to firm up. Using a wide spatula, transfer to the racks. Let cool completely. Set the racks with the cookies over baking parchment or wax paper.

To make the icing: Coarsely chop the strawberries. In a food processor, combine the berries, lemon zest and ¼ cup of the powdered sugar. Process until the strawberries are completely pureed, about 1 ½ minutes. Using a wooden spoon, press as much of the strawberry juice and pulp as possible through a fine sieve into a large bowl; discard the seeds. Stir the butter, corn syrup and vanilla into the strawberries. Stir in 3 ¾ cups more powdered sugar until well blended and smooth. If the icing is too stiff, stir in a little water to think it to a slightly runny consistency. If it’s too runny, stir in more powdered sugar until slightly thickened.

Using a small wide-bladed spatula, spreader or table knife, immediately ice the cookies. For best appearance, swirl the icing in the center of each cookie, leaving ¼ inch all around un-iced; the icing will then flow out towards the edges. Let the cookies stand until the icing sets, at least 2 hours.

This will be quick today as I have a busy day ahead of me. Yesterday I made these cute pink cookies. They weren't anything unique but they were a very good version of a big, soft frosted sugar cookie and if you were looking for a way to make pink cookies for Valentine's Day without using any food dye, this is it.

Sorry this is so short but this blog doesn't pay the bills!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sometimes simple is what you need
--Quick Kielbasa Macaroni and Cheese

Quick Kielbasa Macaroni and Cheese
Comfort Food Makeovers Copyright 2005

Canola oil cooking spray
1 small box macaroni and cheese (with cheese packet)
¼ cup low-fat or fat-free milk
2 tablespoons no or low-trans margarine or butter
8 ounces turkey polska kielbasa sausage, sliced diagonally
¾ cup diced tomato
¼ cup chopped green onions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat an 8x8-inch or 9x9-inch baking dish with the cooking spray.
2. Boil 6 cups of water. Pour in the macaroni from the box and boil for 7 to 10 minutes until tender, stirring occasionally. Drain the macaroni well and return it to the pot.
3. Add the milk, margarine, and cheese-sauce packet and mix well.
4. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook the kielbasa slices until they’re lightly browned on both sides.
5. Stir the kielbasa slices into the macaroni and cheese mixture, along with the tomato and green onions. Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve.

Makes four servings. Per serving: 320 cal, 18 g protein, 41.5 g carbs, 9g fat, 2 g fiber, 984 mg sodium, 45 mg chol

When I'm planning the menu for the next week, I often peruse the cupboards for inspiration. Spying two boxes of Spongebob Macaroni and Cheese, I recalled seeing this recipe for doctored up boxed macaroni and cheese. It's been a long week, I've been really tired and I was so happy to have something so easy on the menu last night. Normally the boxed mac and cheese only comes out on the weekends.

I thought this was very flavorful. I like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese prepared as usual but this made it very different which was very good too. I loved the smokiness from the sausage, the tanginess from the tomatoes and the bite from the green onions. I wasn't sure what my son would think about the tomatoes and the onions but he didn't complain. He was way more into salad last night and asked for more salad twice. You never know what will be popular with him. On Sunday he asked for more green beans about four times and I can't remember the last time he showed any extra interest in green beans.

Blast From The Past: Sausage and Mushroom Pasta from February 2006. I almost forgot about that one - it went over really well in my house. I'll have to make it again soon.

Question of the Day: What have you added to macaroni and cheese (homemade or boxed)? I've added ham, tomatoes, hot dogs and I'm sure some other things I can't think of but mostly I like it straight.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Simple yet satisfying
--Orechiette with Sausage and Sweet Red Peppers

Orechiette with Sausage and Sweet Red Peppers
The Simpler The Better Sensational Italian Meals Copyright 2005

1 ¼ pounds sweet Italian sausage meat
1 ½ large red bell peppers
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 large garlic cloves
1 pound dried orechiette or other short pasta

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Break sausage into small pieces. Finely chop bell peppers.
2. Heat olive oil in large skillet over low heat. Add garlic and cook, turning frequently until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard garlic. Increase heat to high. Add peppers and sausage. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all is lightly crisped and browned, about 10 minutes.
3. Cook pasta until al dente, about 12 minutes. Reserve ¼ cup cooking water, then drain. Return pasta to pot and stir in sausage and peppers. Add reserved water to sausage cooking pan and stir up brown residue over low heat. Add drippings to pasta and heat together over low heat 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Season with salt to taste. Serve hot and generously grind pepper over each plateful.

When I 'scheduled' this recipe, I forgot that orechiette is one of those pasta shapes that I can't find locally. I'll need to get more next time I visit my parents since their local store carries it. Instead, I used something labeled 'cappelletti' which are little hat-shaped pastas but not the meat filled cappelletti that were a huge treat in soup when I was growing up.

This was a simple dish but it was flavorful and didn't seem too heavy even though it was pasta and sausage. Somehow leaving out the tomato sauce makes it seem almost light.

I feel like I'm in a rut. We eat several different proteins - beef, chicken, turkey, pork, fish - but it still feels like we eat the same thing over and over. I'm eating fine and enjoy food but I don't find myself craving anything lately except more of those Black and White Cupcakes. Usually, I end up throwing out most of anything sweet I make (with just two adults and a 4-year old here to indulge) but those cupcakes flew out of here. They only made 12 so I guess that helped. There is one left and I think we'll be fighting over it.

Blast From The Past: Spicy-Sweet Pork Tenderloin from June 2007. I'm trying to think of something to make with pork tenderloin next week. I can't find any new recipes so maybe I'll make that one again.

Question of the Day: What did you have for dinner the past five days, basically speaking (chicken, fish, pork, cheese, eggs, beans, etc)?

Monday, January 21, 2008

And this is what I served with the goulash
--Hungarian Potato Dumplings

Hungarian Potato Dumplings
The Time-Life International Cookbook Copyright 1977

5 medium-sized potatoes, boiled in their jackets, cooled, peeled and riced (about 2 ¾ cups riced)
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup farina or semolina I used semolina
1 egg, beaten lightly
2 teaspoons milk

In a large saucepan, bring 5 quarts of water to a boil. In a mixing bowl, combine the riced potatoes, flour, salt, farina or semolina, egg and milk. Mix them together with a wooden spoon until they form a smooth paste. Dust your hands with flour and form the mixture into balls about 1 inch in diameter.

Drop the dumplings onto the boiling water and bring to a gently boil again. Simmer the dumplings for about 10 minutes, or until they rise to the top.

I don't know why but I've always had a thing for dumplings. My mother would make beef stew (I think) with biscuit like dumplings on top. I loved chicken and dumplings in a can. When I moved to this area I quickly discovered chicken corn soup which is often served with 'dough balls' which is basically a dumpling.

I noticed that you could buy potato dumpling mix in the grocery store and I was intrigued. I decided to make my own. I'm not sure how I felt about them. These weren't large at all, compared to the softball-sized potato dumplings I've seen pictured elsewhere. Never having actually sampled a potato dumpling anywhere else, I don't know if these were 'right' or not. They weren't too heavy. I was worried they were going to disentegrate but they held up well in the leftovers. They weren't very flavorful but dumplings usually aren't.

I think I'll have to do more experimenting. These were okay but nothing extraordinary. Maybe I'll try the boxed potato dumpling mix just to see what it's like.

Blast From The Past: Sweet-Sour Pork on Rice from October 2007. I've been thinking about making that again. I really liked it.

Question of the Day: Do you like any sort of dumplings like this? What kind?

Good on a cold night
--Transylvanian Goulash

Transylvanian Goulash
The Time-Life International Cookbook Copyright 1977

1 pound sauerkraut, fresh, canned or packaged
2 tablespoons lard I used oil
1 cup finely chopped onions
¼ teaspoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
3 cups chicken stock or water I used low-sodium chicken broth
2 pounds boneless shoulder of pork, cut into 1-inch cubes I used boneless spareribs
1 ½ teaspoons caraway seeds
½ cup tomato purée I used tomato paste
½ cup sour cream
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons flour

Wash the sauerkraut thoroughly under cold running water, then soak in cold water for 10 to 20 minutes to reduce its sourness.

Melt the lard in a 5-quart casserole and add the onions. Cook them over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until they are lightly colored, then add the garlic and cook a minute or 2 longer. Off the heat, stir in the paprika, continuing to stir until the onions are well coated. Pour in ½ cup of the stock or water and bring it to a boil, then add the pork cubes.

Now spread the sauerkraut over the pork and sprinkle it with the caraway seeds. In a small bowl, combine the tomato purée and the rest of the stock or water, and pour the mixture over the sauerkraut. Bring the liquid to a boil once more, then reduce the heat to its lowest point, cover the casserole tightly and simmer for 1 hour. Check every now and then to make sure the liquid has not cooked away. Add a little stock or water if it has; the sauerkraut should be moist.

When the pork is tender, combine the sour cream and heavy cream in a mixing bowl. Beat the flour into the cream with a wire whisk, then carefully stir this mixture into the casserole. Simmer for 10 minutes longer. Taste for seasoning. Serve Transylvanian goulash in deep individual plates, accompanied by a bowl of sour cream.

I guess it was a bit misleading when I said I had something more ambitious planned for dinner last night. It wasn't all that ambitious, it just required a bit more time than I usually have on a weeknight. It was actually very easy to put together.

I've had my eye on this recipe for a while and it's basically just a richer, more flavorful version of pork and sauerkraut. I was pleased with it. It was perfect for this cold weather we've been having. The jury is still out on what I served it with, which I'll discuss tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Blast From The Past: Hawaiian Franks from September 2007. I've been craving that again for some reason.

Question of the Day: How's your weather? Colder than usual? Warmer that usual?

Cute and tasty
--Black and White Cupcakes

Black and White Cupcakes
Mrs. Fields I Love Chocolate Cookbook Copyright 1994

Cream Cheese Layer
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ cup sugar
1 large egg

Cake Layer
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (1/2 cup)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with foil or paper muffin cup liners.

Prepare the Cream Cheese Layer: In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the sugar and egg until well blended.

Make the Cake Layer: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, beat the water, oil, egg and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in half of the chocolate chips.

Fill the muffin cups about half full with the chocolate cake batter. Using the remaining cake batter and all of the cream cheese batter, spoon equal amounts on top of the cake batter, creating a top that is half chocolate and half cream cheese. (They don't rise very much so don't worry about going to the top of the muffic cups.) Sprinkle the tops of the cupcakes with the remaining chocolate chips.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the muffin tin on a wire rack to cook for 10 minutes. Turn the cupcakes out of the pan to cool completely.

Yield: 12 cupcakes.

I've owned this cookbook for quite a few years. I think this is the first recipe I've blogged from it, although there's a great peanut butter pie recipe in it that I made years and years ago and forgot about.

The recipes aren't complicated (well maybe years ago I thought they were?) and they all sound delicious so I have no idea why I haven't cooked from it much except that there really aren't enough opportunities to make sweets in life.

These came out well. I wasn't sure how the half-and-half topping would work out but the chocolate batter was very thick so they actually did turn out as pretty as the picture (except I would have used more chocolate chips on top). The chocolate portion has the consistency of a sort of chewy cake brownie and there was just enough cream cheese to balance the chocolate.

I'm off work today and I have a more ambitious dinner planned but I'm not feeling very ambitious. I hope it works out!

Blast From The Past: Wayne’s Beef Macaroni and Cheese from September 2007. This was one of the 100 most dowloaded recipes at Food TV last year. Paula Deen made it. I didn't see the episode but I'll assume she gave credit where credit was due (to Wayne).

Question of the Day: Have you ever eaten a Mrs. Field's cookie? I might have had one from one of her shops, I can't say for sure. I've had the packaged ones. They're okay for a packaged cookie, similar to a Keebler soft batch.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Basic but good
--Lip-Smackin’ Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Lip-Smackin’ Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cook Book Copyright 2004

1 small onion
8 slices American cheese (6 ounces)
2 2/3 cups dried corkscrew macaroni (rotini) or elbow macaroni
¾ cup milk
Dash black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, if you like

1. On a cutting board use a sharp knife to cut onion into small pieces (you should have 1/3 cup). Save until Step 3.
2. Tear cheese slices into bite-size pieces. Save until Step 5.
3. Cook the macaroni in a saucepan following the package directions, except add onion to water along with the uncooked macaroni so they cook together. When macaroni is cooked, turn off the burner. Remove saucepan from burner.
4. Place colander in sink. Carefully pour macaroni mixture into the colander to drain water.
5. Return warm macaroni mixture to saucepan. Use wooden spoon to stir in American cheese, milk and pepper.
6. Put saucepan on burner. Turn the burner to medium heat. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted, stirring all the time. Turn off burner. Remove saucepan from burner. If mixture is too thick, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons additional milk. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if you like.

Add-ins are also suggested (like vegetables and ham). I sautéed some SPAM Lite and added it. Yes, I said SPAM!

I had lots of leftovers from a cheese tray I served at my son's birthday party so I was planning a fancier macaroni and cheese but the leftover cheese was eaten by the big mouse that I married so I ended up making this basic version from a kids' cookbook. They had a copy of this cookbook at my son's daycare and the kids were obsessed with it. They pulled it out first thing every morning. It has vivid pictures and illustrations.

I liked this. It wasn't my favorite macaroni and cheese recipe ever (I prefer some good cheddar in there of course) but it was satisfying enough with the addition of some lite SPAM. My son mostly just ate the SPAM. I liked the slight onion flavor from the boiled onions.

I've having a lot of trouble planning next week's menu. I just don't know what I'm in the mood for.

Blast From The Past: Horn and Hardart’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese from November 2005. Now that's my favorite macaroni and cheese recipe.

Question of the Day: Have you ever eaten at a Horn and Hardart Automat? I guess that question is for the older folks since the last one closed in 1991 (although they might be making a comeback). I most of the way through college by then by I still never visited a Horn and Hardart.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Grasping at straws
--Butterscotch Sauce

Butterscotch Sauce
Busy Woman’s Cookbook Copyright 2000

1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 cup butterscotch flavored pieces
¼ cup milk

In saucepan, add marshmallows, butterscotch, and milk. Heat on low, stirring constantly until smooth. Serve warm over ice cream. Makes 1 ½ cups.

I guess it's obvious that I was desperate for something to post about today. I've been doing more 'reruns' for dinners during the week, and I've been coming up short on recipes to blog about.

I had a surplus of ice cream so I was looking for something simple to do with it. I came up with this recipe since I had mini marshmallows left over from Christmas and butterscotch chips that my son really shouldn't eat. I made half of this recipe but I could have made even less since it was just for me.

I don't find 'fake' butterscotch flavor to be that pleasurable unless it's pudding (I love butterscotch pudding) but this sauce was pretty good over some sugar-free ice cream. If it had been a lot better I would have eaten a lot more of it so it was good that it was satisfying but that I could stop eating it.

I bought this cookbook after seeing it at my sister's house. It's 3 and 4 ingredient recipes. Not that the recipes sounded bad, because they don't, but my main reason for buying this book was to have some super-simple recipes on hand. Easy is good and you never kow when you'll find a real winner. This wasn't a real winner - good but not great. I didn't really expect it to be great either.

Bad weather is headed this way and it's grocery night. Why does it have to be yucky on grocery night? I haven't finished planning my menu and finalizing my shopping list anyway. I clipped coupons last night for the first time in months. I got really lazy about it. I don't use a lot of coupons but with rising grocery prices, they might help, especially now that one local store is tripling some coupons.

Blast From The Past: Cherry Butterscotch Bars from September 2005. That was one of my first recipes for this blog and I remember that my coworkers enjoyed those bars when I shared them with them.

Question of the Day: Do you like buttercotch flavor?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Nothing special
--Pork Tenderloin Slices Gourmet

Pork Tenderloin Slices Gourmet
The New Antoinette Pope School Cookbook Copyright 1961

¼ cup hot butter or shortening I used some canola oil
1 pound pork tenderloin sliced 1/3 inch thick
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chili sauce or catchup I used some of both
¼ cup stock or water I used water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon onion salt
½ teaspoon monosodium glutamate I omitted this
¼ teaspoon dried rosemary crushed

Sauté sliced tenderloin in hot butter over moderate heat until brown on one side. Season with salt and pepper, and brown other side.

When meat is browned on both sides, add all other ingredients. Cover saucepan, and simmer meat about 20 minutes, or until tender. Do not overcook. When done, serve it in center of a bed of well buttered seasoned green noodles or rice. I served it with mashed potatoes.

Serves 3.

This recipe was fine but nothing extraordinary. It used ingredients I had on hand which is always a plus. My son ate quite a bit of it too which was great. I think he's been going through a bit of a growth spurt. I probably won't make this recipe again but only because I have so many great recipes for pork tenderloin.

Many of my older cookbooks use monosodium glutamate (MSG, 'Accent') quite a bit. Now there's an ingredient that went out of favor! I can remember seeing commercials for it but I don't think my mom kept it in the house. I wonder if it really made a difference.

My energy level has dipped again. I'm going to have to chose some super easy recipes for next week in case things continue this way.

Blast From the Past: Creole-Style Pork Tenderloin Patties from July 2007, also from this same cookbook. I enjoyed that recipe more.

Question of the Day: Have you ever used monosodium glutamate at home? Did it make a difference?

Monday, January 14, 2008

A hit
--Green Bean and Artichoke Casserole

Green Bean and Artichoke Casserole
The New Holly Clegg Trim & Terrific Cookbook Copyright 2002, 2006

2 (16-ounce) packages frozen French-cut green beans, thawed
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, quartered and drained
2 cups Italian bread crumbs
½ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
(I halved the recipe but used the entire 14-ounce can of artichokes)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the green beans, artichoke hearts, bread crumbs, olive oil, garlic and cheese. Place in a 3-quart oblong casserole coated with non-stick cooking spray, and bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve.

I had a surplus of Italian bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese so this recipe sounded like a good idea. Apparently, from what I can see from a quick Google search, this is a very popular recipe. This is my first time eating it or making it but I can see why it's so popular. This was a lighter version - some use more cheese, some use canned soups, some use canned green beans, etc - but it was very good. My husband ate a surprising amount of this for someone who will often pass up the vegetable portion of a meal completely. I think I'll be making this again.

I halved the recipe that you see above except I still used the entire 14-ounce can of artichokes since they don't make a smaller can.

I pulled a cookbook off the shelf the other day that I didn't even recognize. I'm sure I bought it from my cookbook guy at the auction but I really didn't remember seeing it before then. I haven't purchased any cookbooks in quite a while but I'm looking forward to looking at the ones I have more closely. When I was buying them every week during the summer, it was hard to keep up with them.

Blast From the Past: Cauliflower with Garlic and Bread Crumbs from June 2006. I've been a fan of vegetables and bread crumbs for a long time.

Question of the Day: Have you ever had Green Bean and Artichoke Casserole?

These were crap
--Chocolate Cupcakes

I convinced my son that I should make the sheet cake yellow and the cupcakes chocolate, thinking that would work out better. But the chocolate cake recipe I loved as a sheet cake did not work for cupcakes. They were a big disaster. Late Friday evening I had to start all over and I chose this recipe which I think I overbaked. They were terribly dry. Thankfully, the yellow sheet cake was wonderful and almost no one asked for a cupcake.

At least I thought, I'll have something to blog about on Monday, even if it wasn't good. Well, I copied the recipe and was just about done with the post when I realized that I had already blogged about this recipe! LOL, it was bound to happen someday I suppose. After almost 600 recipes, it's getting hard to keep track of which recipes I've tried and which ones I haven't. I should make notations in my cookbooks.

So, no new recipe today. Sorry.

So, I have to wonder, what is the deal with cupcakes? They're such a fad lately but practically everytime I see someone on a blog mention a fancy popular cupcake bakery (and there are several), they don't rave over the cupcakes. The icing is usually good but the cake itself is often dry, which is bound to be the case when you think about how hard it is make and keep such a small cake moist. Not that I've never had a good cupcake because I have but they seem to be the exception rather than the rule. You can give me a nice piece of sheet cake over a cupcake anyday.

Blast From The Past: Easy Buttercream from January 2006. That's my go-to frosting recipe and people seem to like it.

Question of the Day: Have you tried a cupcake from a bakery that specializes in cupcakes? Was it any good?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A personal favorite
--Fish Po' Boys

Fish Po' Boys
Everyday Food Great Food Fast Copyright 2007

1 pound skinless flounder fillets, cut into 1 1/2-inch strips, and patted dry
2 tablespoons cornmeal
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 (8 ounce) baguette, cut in half horizontally, and hollowed out slightly
Sliced tomatoes

Spicy Tartar Sauce
1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chili sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
2 tablespoons chopped gerkins (or pickles)
Hot sauce, such as Tabasco, if desired

1. Place fish in a medium bowl. Add cornmeal; season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Brown fish (work in batches if needed) on both sides, 7 to 10 minutes (turn fish carefully). Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate; season with more salt, as desired.
3. Spread both halves of baguette with tartar sauce, and layer with lettuce, tomatoes, and fish. Cut into 4 pieces.

Spicy Tartar Sauce
In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, chili sauce, parsley, mustard, and gerkins. Season with hot sauce. Sauce can be refrigerated, covered, 2 to 3 days.

I'm a sucker for fried fish. I think I used to order fish and chips a lot when I was a child. I'm not sure if it's the fish or the tartar sauce that I enjoy more or maybe it's just a great combination.

I've been making a lot of sandwiches, haven't I? I usually don't make sandwiches for dinner during the week since it seems that practically everything we eat on the weekends is some sort of sandwich but oddly that has changed lately.

These were good but my bread was too thick. Not the recipe's fault - I was at the mercy of the local grocery store bakery and I picked the most appropriate bread they had. I should have hollowed it out. I ended up taking the top off and eating it open-faced.

I also wonder if I could oven bake this fish, spraying it with cooking spray first. I'm not a big fan of standing over a pan of frying fish.

I loved the Spicy Tartar Sauce but that's just my sort of thing.

I have so much to do tonight for my son's birthday party tomorrow. He's four years old today! I have to bake a half sheet cake, cupcakes, slice beef and finish cleaning. I hope I can find good rolls tomorrow morning. It's not easy in this town.

Blast From The Past: All-Purpose Buttery Yellow Cake from August 2007. I'm using this recipe for the cupcakes. My son requested that the cake be chocolate even though I think chocolate cake makes better cupcakes.

Question of the Day: What meals did you usually order when you ate in a sit-down restaurant when you were a child? I'm drawing a blank besides the fish and chips. I remember when salad bars were 'new' and only about 3 feet long but still exciting.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Better than I expected
--Warm Chicken and Orzo Salad

Warm Chicken and Orzo Salad
Prevention’s Ultimate Quick & Healthy Cookbook Copyright 1998

6 ounces orzo or other small pasta
1 ¾ cups defatted reduced-sodium chicken broth
½ cup water
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
4 cups broccoli florets
¼ cup packed Italian parsley springs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 garlic clove, peeled
½ cup diced, drained roasted red peppers (from a jar)

1. Bring a covered medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the past to the boiling water; return to a boil and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions until al dente. Drain in a colander, rinse briefly until cold running water and drain again. Transfer pasta to a large salad bowl.
2. While the pasta is cooking, bring 1 ½ cups of the broth and the water to a boil in a medium skillet. Add the chicken and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to the bowl of orzo; reserve the broth in the skillet.
3. Return the broth to a boil over high heat. Add the broccoli and return to a boil. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the broccoli is crisp-tender. Drain the broccoli in a colander, cool briefly under cold running water and drain again. Add the broccoli to the bowl of orzo.
4. Combine the parsley, oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, black pepper and the remaining ¼ cup broth in a food processor. (I forgot to add the broth and I never even noticed.) With the processor running, drop the garlic clove through the feed tube; process the mixture until puréed.
5. Pour the dressing over the pasta mixture. Add the roasted peppers and toss the salad to mix well. Serve warm.

I tend not to get my hopes up too high on 'light' recipes although the recipes in this book are balanced enough (real fats, carbs, etc in moderation) that I shouldn't have worried. I thoroughly enjoyed this, especially the dressing. I forgot to add the extra broth but it was fine. You know me and Dijon mustard - can't go wrong.

I worked late and then I was stuck in traffic but this meal comes together surprisingly fast. The longest step was making the orzo. I find orzo to be a difficult pasta to cook for some reason. It seems to take forever even though you wouldn't think so. Next time I would use Ronzoni Smart Taste or Dreamfield rotini. I prefer to use the high fiber pasta and I don't see any reason you have to stick to the small pasta.

I'm still very busy. I didn't even get to plan recipes for next week. I won't be able to do that until the weekend, after my son's birthday party. That puts the pressure on.

Blast From The Past: Pasta Caesar Salad With Chicken from May 2006. That was anothe good recipe from this cookbook.

Question of the Day: Do you spend a lot of time stuck in traffic? Thankfully I don't when there are no accidents but when there are, it can be maddening.

Monday, January 07, 2008

A rare recipe using ground chicken
--Chicken Patties on Croissants

Chicken Patties on Croissants
Better Homes and Gardens Chicken Cooking For Today Copyright 1993

1 beaten egg
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped green sweet pepper
1/3 cup fine dry seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon snipped parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground raw chicken
2 tablespoons cooking oil
4 croissants, split lengthwise I used large crescent rolls
1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion
1 teaspoon snipped parsley
1/8 teaspoon dried tarragon, crushed
Dash pepper
4 lettuce leaves
1 large tomato, sliced

1. For tarragon sauce, in small bowl combine mayonnaise or salad dressing, green onion, the 1 teaspoon snipped parsley, tarragon, and pepper. Stir to mix. Cover and chill until serving time.

2. In medium mixing bowl combine egg, celery, green sweet pepper, bread crumbs, onion, the 1 tablespoon snipped parsley, Worcestershire sauce, and salt. Add chicken; mix lightly but well. Shape into four 4-inch oval patties. I made 6.

3. In large skillet cook chicken patties in hot oil over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in side of patty registers 165 degrees F, turning once. Spread each cut side of croissants with some of the tarragon sauce. Arrange a lettuce leaf and a chicken patty on bottom half of each croissant. Top each with additional tarragon sauce and croissant top. Serve with tomato slices. Makes 4 sandwiches.

I had one dinner left up in the air when I went grocery shopping last week. I was running low on meat in the freezer so I decided to see if there was anything on sale that caught my eye. The ground chicken was under $1.80/lb so I grabbed some. The problem though was that you don't see a lot of recipes that specifically call for ground chicken so I was just going to make Russian-Style Chicken Cutlets until I decided to spend a few minutes looking for a different recipe and I came across this one.

Unfortunately croissants aren't easily found around here so I decided on the large-sized crescent rolls but really you could use just about any roll for these. I would definitely make these again. I have to make these again - I was really, really looking forward to having the leftovers for lunch but there were none! My husband ate four of these! He didn't eat them with the crescent rolls but still. My son wasn't really into them - too much 'green' I think. I was a little worried about the green pepper myself since it can be overpowering but it wasn't. Red bell pepper might be milder and add some interesting color.

Why don't you see more recipes for ground chicken? Ground meat is all somewhat interchangeable but they do have different flavors. This recipe wouldn't be the same with turkey or beef. It would probably still be good but it would be very different, tastewise.

I'm so angry with Amazon right now I can't even think straight. The decorated cookies I ordered for my son to take to school on his birthday were 'lost' (never sent is more likely the case) so now I have nothing special for him to take. Homemade treats are not allowed and bakery cupcakes are cross-contaminated with peanuts. I'm not having him eat a different treat on his own birthday! There are other things he can bring but nothing cute or special. How is it the only important item I ever ordered from Amazon was the one they screwed up? I ordered the cookies before Christmas and they were in stock.

Blast From The Past: Light Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs from March 2007. I freestyled some turkey meatballs last night, that we'll eat tonight. I think ground turkey works better in meatballs than ground beef.

Question of the Day: Have you used ground chicken in any recipes? I can't think of anything besides the Russian-Style cutlets right now.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

More healthy cooking
--Balsamic Braised Chicken with Olives

Balsamic Braised Chicken with Olives
The Best Diabetes Slow Cooker Recipes Copyright 2007

1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cracked black peppercorns
½ tsp dried thyme leaves
2 cups chopped peeled tomatoes, including juice, if canned
½ cup lower-salt chicken broth
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 lbs skinless bone-in chicken thighs
2 tbsp chopped pitted black olives I used kalamata olives
2 tbsp drained capers

1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, salt, peppercorns, and thyme and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice, broth and balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil.
2. Arrange chicken over bottom of slow cooker stoneware and cover with vegetable mixture. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours or on HIGH for 3 hours, until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a fork. Add olives and capers and stir well. Serve immediately.

I was drawn in by the lure of capers again. This wasn't something I raved over but I enjoyed it. I'm not sure if it's something I would make again since there are so many chicken recipes out there that haven't been tried yet. Don't get me wrong it was very good, and on the healthy side. It may have been great but my appetite has been on the low side.

Well I had my few days of rest and I started cleaning and cooking for my son's birthday party this coming weekend. Having a baby just a couple of weeks after Christmas is not recommended! I just want to relax after the holidays but then I have to get through this one more thing. I love throwing him a party which is the kicker - I wish I didn't have to do it so soon after Christmas when I'm stressed out. I would love to do it during a less stressful time of year. Of course I have to make it even worse by trying a new recipe but it won't be the only thing I serve if it doesn't work out. Thankfully it for adults, not children. I talked him out of that.

So I might be MIA one day this week since I think I'm a recipe short but I promise things will get back to normal around here eventually.

Blast From The Past: Marinated Beef Sandwiches from September 2006. I'm trying another sliced beef recipe for the party. I bought a meat slicer which I think is key so hopefully I'll get better results.

Question of the Day: How was your birthday celebrated when you were a child? I don't remember having any 'real' cakes when I was younger. It was always Carvel ice cream cakes which surprises me now considering how much more they cost than traditional cake and ice cream. I wish I could find out how they make those crunchies. That has to be the best kept secret in the world.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Thanks, Mom
--Favorite Turkey Burger

Favorite Turkey Burger
Everyday Food Great Food Fast Copyright 2007

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey, preferably 92 to 93 percent lean
1/2 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese
4 thinly sliced scallions
1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 garlic, minced
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Vegetable oil, for grill
4 hamburger buns
Sliced tomatoes, red or white onion, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and lettuce leaves, for serving

1. Heat grill to high. In a medium bowl, use a fork to gently combine ground turkey with cheese, scallions, breadcrumbs, mustard, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Gently form mixture into four 1-inch-thick patties. (I made 5 good-sized patties and I may not have even had 1 1/2 pounds of turkey.)

2. Lightly oil grill. Place patties on the hottest part of the grill; sear until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Move the patties to cooler part of the grill; continue grilling until cooked through, 5 to 10 minutes per side.

My mom bought me this cookbook for Christmas. I don't know how, out of all the cookbooks out there, she not only bought me one I didn't have, but it's one that I wanted. I checked it out of the library some time ago and loved it but I never got a chance to cook from it.

These burgers are aptly named. They're certainly my favorite turkey burger now. They were so flavorful, without tasting like a meatloaf. I'm glad they were a success - the Gruyere was $14/lb but you don't need much. It is a very good cheese but $14/lb? I think you could probably substitute a less expensive Swiss cheese and still get a great burger. I usually skip over recipes with Gruyere due to the price but since I didn't need much for this, and we had eaten a lot of meals away from home due to the holidays, I splurged.

These were so good, last night I ate the leftover one that was supposed to be for my lunch today. I ate it cold, straight of the fridge, Nigella-style.

I used my Cuisinart Griller for these. I was a bit apprehensive because the Griller has no tilt which is great for many things but not when you're making anything that's going to give off some liquid or fat. I've seen online reviews saying that it can get messy but there was no disaster last night. I wouldn't make a real fatty burger on the Griller but these were fine.

I have to put in a pitch for my favorite Dijon mustard again. This recipe uses a lot so a good mustard probably makes a difference. I love Bookbinder's Stone Ground Dijon (no, they didn't pay me to say that. I wish!) I wasn't all that crazy about Dijon mustard until I discovered that one.

Blast From The Past: Russian-Style Chicken Cutlets from August 2006. Ground chicken was on sale cheap last night so I picked some up. I'm going to make these next week.

Question of the Day: Do you ever raid the fridge at night?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

I shouldn't have shared
--Sweet-and-Sour Cabbage

Sweet-and-Sour Cabbage
Reader’s Digest Eat To Beat High Blood Pressure Copyright 2004

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large red onion, cut into small chunks
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 red bell pepper, cut into small chunks
6 cups thickly shredded green cabbage (1 small head)
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
Salt to taste
¼ teaspoon rubbed sage I omitted this
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup cider or rice vinegar

1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and bell pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
2. Stir in cabbage. Sprinkle brown sugar, salt, sage and black pepper over cabbage, and cook, stirring frequently, until cabbage is wilted, about 10 minutes.
3. Add vinegar, increase heat to medium-high, and cook until cabbage is well coated, about 3 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This is just the sort of thing I've been in the mood for lately. I planned to make this for myself, for lunches, but I never got around to it so I ended up making it as a side for dinner. Not a good move because there was hardly any left! I will definitely make this again. I don't get very creative with vegetable sides and I really need to.

I'm getting back into my cooking groove. I'd better enjoy it while I have the time to enjoy it. It really helps that I acquired another bookshelf and now all of my cookbooks are easily accessible instead of piled all over the place. Unfortunately I'm just about out of meat in the freezer which makes it hard to plan recipes but I'll get to Costco soon.

Miracle of all miracles, my local grocery store is offering triple coupons for up to 6 coupons, and only for coupons worth up to 50 cents (they would never double more than 50 cents either). I don't remember the last time I used a coupon and that's not my main shopping venue but this is the first time I've seen triple coupons in this area, except for special limited-time promotions.

Blast From The Past: Cabbage Slaw from July 2006. I think I'm going to make that simple and delicious cole slaw with the rest of the cabbage.

Question of the Day: Do your grocery stores offer triple coupons? Up to what amount?

The last of the Christmas cookies
--Double Chocolate Sour Cream Cookies

Double Chocolate Sour Cream Cookies
Best Recipes from American Country Inns and Bed and Breakfasts Copyright 2004

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
1 square unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
2 eggs at room temperature
1 cup sour cream at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips I used Andes Peppermint bits

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In mixer, combine butter and sugar and mix well. Stir cooled chocolate into butter mixture. Add eggs and blend. Add sour cream and vanilla and blend. Mix in dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. Chill dough 8 to 10 hours or overnight. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet, cool on racks, and watch them disappear.

Yield 4 to 6 dozen cookies.

I've been wanting to try this recipe for a while so when I was looking for a recipe to use the Andes Peppermint bits in, I decided to use this one. It's not an intense chocolate cookie base so I think this would be great with the chocolate chips and I intend to make it with the chocolate chips one day. Double chocolate chip cookies can be too intense for me but sometimes you want a bit more chocolate than a regular chocolate chip cookies. This would be a nice middle ground.

These didn't turn out as cute as I had hoped but they were certainly minty. Those bits were very strong. I have both light and dark cookie sheets. I used parchment paper under all the cookies but the ones on the dark sheets got too brown on the bottom (from the bits I think, not the cookie itself) so make sure if your cookie sheets are dark to turn down the oven (something you should probably always do when using dark bakeware).

And that's the end of my Christmas baking this year. I'm actually surprised I ended up making three new recipes. Between Friday night and Sunday before Christmas I did all my baking and candy making. I made Chocolate-Dipped Caramels (much better this year - I didn't overcook them), Five-Minute Fudge (with mini marshmallows), Welsh cookies, Ruth Wakefield’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (with Christmas Kissables), Peach and Raspberry Kisses, Coconut Butterballs, Spritz, Fruit and Cheese Bread, Sugar Cookies, Kolacky and these Double Chocolate Sour Cream Cookies.

So I got my energy back somewhat but my appetite has been very wonky. It's hard to plan ahead since for one thing I'm not very hungry except for right when I need to eat (I'm used to being perpetually hungry) and the other thing is that my food cravings keep changing. First I wanted junk, now I want healthier food but that might change at any moment. It's hard to be a food blogger right now!

Blast From The Past: Orecchiette with Tuna, Lemon and Caper Sauce from September 2007. I'm going to have to make a list of super easy recipes like this for after the baby comes.

Question of the Day: Do your food cravings change pretty often or do you eat a lot of the same foods over and over?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!
--Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies
Helping Our Kids Grow Copyright 2000

2 eggs
2 c. sugar
1 c. butter
1 c. sour cream combined with 1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
Dash of nutmeg I omitted this
4 c. flour

Mix eggs, sugar, soft butter. Combine 1 tsp. baking soda with sour cream and add to mixture. Add vanilla, salt and dash of nutmeg. Add 2 tsp, baking powder to 4 c. flour, sift into mixture and mix thoroughly. Chill mixture overnight. Roll and cut out cookies. I didn't chill. I scooped the dough with a small scoop and flattened it with the bottom of a wet glass. Bake at 375 degrees for 7-10 minutes according to thickness of cookie. Cover with icing and top with coconut. I used sprinkles.

I didn't get any pictures of the new wing recipe I tried last night. It was good but I didn't feel like frying the wings so they weren't as good as they could be. I didn't get out of work early as I had hoped so dinner was kind of rushed but both guys complimented the meal. I'll try that wing recipe again, the proper way, and report back at a later date.

So here's another cookie recipe. I was really baking by the seat of my pants this year. After making a few planned recipes I realized I needed more cookies to fill up the trays I bought so I decided on this simple sugar cookie recipe. I didn't have any ricotta cheese on hand to make my Ricotta cookies so these were a substitute for those. Those poor Ricotta cookies may have been pushed out of the rotation for good, I liked these sugar cookies so much.

I actually didn't have a taste for sweets while baking this year. I had to force myself to taste each cookie to make sure I didn't forget the sugar. I'm still not craving much in the way of sweets but I do find myself eating two of these cookies with milk almost every night. So these were my stand-out cookie this year, however with pregnancy taste buds, that doesn't mean much I guess. I think I crave the milk more than the cookies.

I'm not doing any culinary resolutions this year since my percentage of completion the past two years has been pretty dismal. I'll use the first six months of this year to try to catch up but the second six months of this year will be useless for any ambitious cooking projects.

Blast From The Past: Sherried Shrimp from January 2006. I miss shrimp a lot. I'll have to talk to my son's allergist about when we might be able to introduce it. We don't really have any reason to believe he's allergic to shrimp but you get paranoid when your kid has food allergies.

Question of the Day: Was your New Year's Eve fun? I was asleep by 9pm. I just couldn't keep my eyes open after working all day and then cooking dinner. I didn't even wake up at midnight. It might have been raining and that might have kept the local firework lovers indoors because I didn't hear anything.