Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My new favorite pizza dough
--Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough
Great Bread Machine Recipes Copyright 1992

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
5 ½ ounces warm water
(makes 1-pound of dough)
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
8 ounces warm water
(makes 1 1/2 pounds of dough)

Use the appropriate dough setting for your bread machine and add ingredients in the order suggested by your bread machine. I made it the night before and refrigerated it. I nuked it on defrost for a couple of minutes before rolling it out. It made a very thin 16-inch pizza - use a 12 or 14-inch pan if you like a thicker crust. I always cook my pizza at 500 degrees (the hottest temperature that my oven claims to reach) and I use perforated pans.

We generally have pizza every Friday. I had reached the point where I was so sick of homemade pizza on Fridays. I changed it up every which way I could as far as toppings go. I made tomato sauced pizza with various configurations of pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, peppers, sausage, pineapple, ham. I made bbq chicken pizza. I made pizza with white sauce, bacon and mushrooms. I tried different cheeses.

Although I was very happy with the crust I was using for some time, I was sick of that too and now it was time to change it up since I had changed everything else. Last week I used the rectangular premade crust I can get locally and while they were good, they remind me of frozen pizza (and not the good, rising crust type). I happen to love all frozen pizza but when it comes to Friday pizza, I want something more substantial.

So, I went looking for another pizza dough recipe for my bread machine. I was going to try a Pizza Hut knockoff but it used 3 cups of flour which would probably overwhelm my bread machine so at the last minute I chose this recipe. I thought I had made this recipe once before but when I tasted it, I knew I hadn't or I would have made it more than once. I loved this so much I can't wait until next Friday. It just had great flavor and texture. I refrigerated the dough overnight which I believe really does change things as far as texture and flavor so keep that in mind if you make this. I'm not saying it wouldn't be as good straight out of the bread machine but that's not how I tested it.

It's funny that most pizza dough recipe use the same basic ingredients - water, salt, sugar, oil, yeast and flour but slight variations in those ingredients make a huge difference. I don't want to mess with this too much but I do feel better making a whole wheat crust so I may try some white whole wheat flour in this at some point.

P.S. I took this picture the next day when I reheated a slice in the toaster oven which is why the crust is that dark.

Question of the Day: How often do you eat pizza?

Monday, September 29, 2008

--Snickerdoodle Pan Cookies

Snickerdoodle Pan Cookies
Land-O-Lake's 5th Annual Holiday Cookies, 1998

1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts I omitted these and Snickerdoodles don't have nuts anyway!

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

1. Heat oven to 375F. In a small bowl combine all topping ingredients.

2. In a large mixer bowl, combine sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add remaining bar ingredients. Beat until well mixed.

3. Spread batter evenly into 15x10x2-inch jelly roll pan. I used a 14x11-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with topping mixture. Bake 11-13 minutes or until light golden brown and bars begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool 5 minutes. I would cool them longer - they're still pretty soft at 5 minutes. Cut into 2-inch squares; cut each diagonally into triangles.

I've been so exhausted that lifting up cookbooks is just too much work. When I have a couple of minutes, I'll usually peruse the small pamphlet type books that I've acquired. They have a tendency to get ignored since they're kept in baskets and aren't staring out at me from my shelves.

I saw this recipe in this booklet from 1998 and since my son loves Snickerdoodles and this recipe was less work than (although essentially the same as) my regular Snickerdoodle recipe, I immediately decided to make these.

These were so buttery and delicious. They were delicate though so they won't be replacing my regular Snickerdoodle cookies on my Christmas cookie trays, but I prefer the bars personally. I love the gooey part of cookies so I love cookies made into bars. I did have one problem that as I was cutting them, they kept disappearing. One after the other. Once I got a taste I couldn't stop and my son felt the same way. He has one in his lunch today (I add one small cookie to a regular home prepared lunch so he doesn't miss having a Lunchable like some of the other kids bring. Not that I feel superior packing a home prepared lunch but I bought him Lunchables and he really only liked the cookies and the meat - what a waste.)

Question of the Day: Are you cutting back on your holiday cooking and/or baking due to higher prices this year?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Many mistakes but not a disaster
--Chocolate Mint Brownies

Chocolate Mint Brownies
The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion Copyright 2004

Use 9x13-inch brownie recipe of your choice. I used the KA Fudgy Brownie recipe. You can use peppermint patties or the mint filling recipe. I used the mint filling recipe.

Fudgy Brownies
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks, 6 ounces) unsalted butter
2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
1 cup (4 ounces) Dutch-process cocoa I used black cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup (4-1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped walnuts or pecans (optional) I didn't use these
1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips (optional) I didn't use these

In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it’s hot (about 110 degrees to 120 degrees), but not bubbling; it’ll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.

Stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs, stirring until smooth; then add the flour and optional nuts and chips, again stirring until smooth.

Mint Filling
4 cups (16 ounces) confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup (4 3/4 ounces) vegetable shortening
1/4 teaspoon peppermint oil, or 1 to 2 teaspoons peppermint extract (to taste) I used extract
1/4 cup (1 ounce) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or Signature Secrets Culinary Thickener (3/4 ounce) I used flour
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) heavy cream I used milk

To make the mint filling: Beat the filling ingredients together till they're cohesive; the mixture will be the consistency of stiff cookie dough. Spread the filling, on a piece of lightly greased plastic wrap, into a rectangle just slightly smaller than a 9" x 13" pan; this is most easily done on a work surface that you've dusted with confectioners' sugar or on a piece of plastic wrap.

Spread half the batter into the prepared pan. Top with filling, patting it down gently. Top with remaining batter. Bake as directed for chosen brownies, adding 5 to 8 minutes to bake time. (Fudgy Brownies bake 29 to 32 minutes on their own, at 325 degrees.)


This was a case where many mistakes were made but thankfully they were forgiven, at least forgiven enough not to have wasted any ingredients.

First of all, it was Friday evening and we had plans to attend a cookout at one of my husband's coworker's home the next day. Hubby asked me if I was making anything to bring. I thought, well no. I was tired and it really just didn't occur to me.

However, Saturday morning it occurred to me that my son might not be able to eat any desserts if I didn't bring something (due to his peanut allergy). So I started baking. Before I had my coffee. Bad idea.

First problem, I read 'Dutch' cocoa and for some reason thought that meant black cocoa (since I'm used to seeing 'natural' instead of Dutch). Rookie mistake. Black cocoa needs tweaking as far as leavening goes but since these were 'fudgy' brownies, it wasn't a big deal. The black cocoa gave them an Oreo-like quality (someone even asked if I used Oreos to make them).

Second problem (maybe) - I had no heavy cream. I decided to use a bit of milk. My filling was much flatter after baking than in the picture in the cookbook (and on KA's site). Of course, the cookbook didn't mention refrigerating the filling but the KA site does. I was happy to even have a filling in the middle since I was sure that it must have melted away completely.

Actually on KA's site, the filling is half butter/half shortening but in the book it's all shortening. Not sure what difference that makes, besides flavor of course.

I wasn't going to do a topping, but I decided it needed one. I used the topping from the Glazed Chocolate Chip Brownies. The chocolate didn't 'match' but think of a chocolate-covered Oreo.

Like I said, I was sure that the filling would be nonexistant after these were baked. When I finally cut into these, I did find a filling, in the middle of the pan. Much was lost around the edges of the pan where there was not only no filling but some bubbled up and left crunchy craters. What a waste.

But, they were delicious and people at the cookout seemed to like them. I figured lots of people like thin mints. The first person I saw try them said they weren't much of a mint person. Then another person said 'oooh mint!' (they liked mint). My son liked them (he likes mint). I'm in the middle. Mint is okay but I was always more of a Trefoil gal than a Thin Mint gal.

I would like to make these the correct way someday and see if I get better results with the filling.

Question of the Day: Which Girl Scout cookies are your favorite? Trefoils were my favorite when I was young (and I swear they used to be sprinkled with sugar). These days none of them really do all that much for me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Better than it smelled (or looks)
--Kielbasa with Beer & Onions

Kielbasa with Beer & Onions
Cooking with Beer Copyright 2008

1/3 cup honey mustard I used some Dijon mixed with honey
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
18 ounces brown ale or beer I used 12 ounces
2 kielbasa sausages (16 ounces each), cut into 4-inch pieces I used Lite
2 onions, quartered

Combine honey mustard and brownsugar in Crock-Pot slow cooker. Whisk in ale. Add sausage pieces. Top with onions.

Cover; cook on Low 4 to 5 hours,stirring occasionally.

Okay, so this picture doesn't do this recipe justice but I thought it turned out really well. I wasn't so sure while it was cooking - the beer smell didn't do much for me. But it happened that the taste was great and the kielbasa was nice and tender. I didn't get any of the juice in the picture but there was plenty of it, so this would be great served with some crusty bread. I didn't have any crusty bread so I made some mashed potatoes.

I think this would be nice as party food too, for a casual party. It's good 'man food'.

This was one of those pamphlets from the supermarket checkout that I picked up. The prices are ridiculous on those ($3.99 for this little one I think) but sometimes I just need a fix.

Question of the Day: Do you ever throw parties? How often?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Very good, not great
--Pineapple Banana Bread

Pineapple Banana Bread
Home Cooking 2005 Recipe Annual Copyright 2005
1 cup butter, softened
2 2/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup honey
3 eggs
1 tbs. vanilla
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1 (20oz) can crushed pineapple
4 1/2 cups flour
1 cup chopped walnuts I left these out
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 3 (8 x 5 x 3 inch)large loaf pans.
In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar and honey; beat in eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in banana and pineapple. Stir in flour, walnuts, cinnamon , baking soda and salt until moistened. Pour into prepared loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Makes 3 loaves.

The photograph of this bread in the cookbook just looked so good that I couldn't wait to make this. I hesitated though since it made three loaves. I already have a go-to banana bread recipe.

I don't think it came out exactly like the picture in the cookbook. My bread looks darker. I may have cooked it too long, although it wasn't dry. It was quite moist from the pineapple yet it didn't have as much pineapple flavor as I would have liked, or banana flavor really. I liked the honey flavor. It was definitely a nice, moist, delicious bread, just wasn't anything special as far as banana bread goes. I prefer my go-to recipe yet I wouldn't call this disappointing. I really missed the nuts in this recipe (we're a nut-free house for those of you who might be new to this blog).

I froze the other loaves. They may have turned out a bit lighter. I used two different kinds of loaf pans. The one I used for the loaf I cut into already was the darkest pan. I love the shape of the pan but I think it overbrowns sweet breads like this. I suspect that my oven might be starting to go too. I really want a new stove but now is just not a great time for a major appliance to go.

Question of the Day: What kind of loaf pan do you prefer? I only have metal ones but I'd like to get some that aren't made of metal - glass, stoneware or ceramic maybe.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Water, in a cookie?
--Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
Best Recipes From the Backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars Copyright 1979, 1981 and 1982

1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 egg
¼ cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 6-oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix sugar, margarine, egg, water and vanilla. Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until almost no indentation remains when touched, 10 to 12 minutes. Immediately remove from cookie sheet.

Makes about 5 ½ dozen cookies

I feel a little less guilty making cookies with oatmeal since oatmeal is supposed to help my milk supply. I wasn't expecting to like these as much as I did since I'm usually not a fan of double chocolate cookies but I loved these.

They seemed to take a long time to cook and I'm not sure if I cooked them as long as I should have. They were still chewy, as I like cookies, but maybe they're supposed to be a crispy cookie. I've never added water to a cookie recipe before that I can remember. I wonder if that's why they seemed to take longer to bake.

My son was okay with these but if it were up to him, I'd make Creamier and Chewier Oatmeal Cookies every week.

Question of the Day: What was your favorite cookie when you were a youngster? I don't think I was that picky and loved all cookies. My mom didn't pick up the same cookies every week. When I was a little bit older I remember loving Brown Edged Wafers and Fig Newtons but I don't think my mom bought those.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Made it through another week
--Baked Lemon Chicken

Baked Lemon Chicken
Taste of Home Cookbooks Copyright 2006

3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)

Directions: In a shallow dish, combine the butter, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Place bread crumbs in another dish. Dip chicken in butter mixture, then coat with crumbs. Place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Drizzle with remaining butter mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until juices run clear.

Yield: 4 servings.

This is a slight variation on your standard breaded, baked chicken. In the past, I've used a similar 'glue' to hold the breadcrumbs onto the chicken but the lemon is new for me. It's nice to have that bit of tang. I liked the flavor but it didn't get as crispy as I would have liked it to. My chicken breasts were so thin, I probably should have used a higher temperature. If I had cooked them long enough to get crispy at 350 degrees, the meat would have been too dry.

Well, it looks like I'll make it through another week. Monday we had the grilled meat loaf, that I made on Sunday evening. I also cooked some whole wheat egg noodles on Sunday evening. Monday I just grilled the meat loaf, nuked the noodles and heated up some canned green beans.

Tuesday I was going to make a beef stir-fry which morphed into beef fried rice. Totally free-styled and totally delicious. I cut up the vegetables (just carrots, celery and green onions), cooked the rice and sliced and marinated the meat the night before. I also boiled some potstickers. When I got home from work, I pan-fried the potstickers while I made the fried rice.

Wednesday we had an old-favorite, from my pre-blogging days. A free-styled Mexican lasagne of sorts - taco meat mixed with corn layered with cheese and a drizzle of taco sauce between flour tortillas. I made it the night before and we just nuked it and had salad with it. I used my homemade taco seasoning.

Last night we had this chicken and a free-styled pasta salad.

Tonight we're having pizza but I'm not making the dough. I bought prebaked rectangular pizza shells they sell in the refrigerated section of my grocery store (2 1-lb shells for $2.99). I used to use them a lot before I started making my own pizza dough. It's a compromise. I'm tired and I really want take-out but our bill for 2 personal subs (for son and I), a foot-long sub (for hubby), a medium pizza (for all of us and for leftovers) and 6 chicken wings (the full wings - for hubby) was $32 last week! Now, we didn't really need the medium pizza I guess but my son has just started asking for a sub and I wasn't sure if he would eat it (he did). You used to be able to eat a nice meal in a casual sit-down restaurant for $32 (and that included beverages!) I'll be able to make two large pizzas (with pepperoni) for less than $10.

So basically I come home and heat up dinner, eat, hang out with the baby, then clean up and make dinner for the next night after the baby goes to sleep. If I just came home and cooked dinner, we would all be weak with hunger by the time it hit the table and when I was finally done, the baby would be asleep.

I'm trying to do more on the weekend. I made a bunch of meatballs when I cooked the meat loaf on Sunday and stuck them in the freezer. I bought some disposable casserole trays with lids from the Amish store and I hope to fill those with something I could freeze. If I was smart I would have made two meat loaves this week and two Mexican lasagnes.

Question of the Day: Have you been eating out/getting take-out less often?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Apples Apples Apples

It's that time of the year when I start thinking more about apples. I'm not sure why since apples are pretty much available all year long. Here are some recipes that I've made that used apples:

Apple Oat Bran Muffins:

Cinnamon-Cider-Cranberry Cake:

Apple-Oat Muffins:

Cinnamon-Apple Cake:

Cinnamony Apple Streusel Bars:

Washington State Granny Smith Apple Pie:

Mountain Dew Apple Cobbler:

I've made a few recipes that used applesauce:

Five-Grain Cinnamon Bread:

Easy Spicy Apple Sauce Muffins:

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins:

Whole Wheat Applesauce Waffles:

Here's a savory apple recipe:

Red Cabbage With Apples:

Question of the Day: What's your favorite apple recipe?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Much better than it looks - honestly!
--Dutch Meat Loaf

Dutch Meat Loaf
Best Recipes From the Backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars Copyright 1979, 1981 and 1982

1 ½ lbs. lean ground beef
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 medium onion, chopped
1 8-oz. can Hunt’s tomato sauce
1 egg
1 ½ tsps. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
¾ cup water
2 Tbs. brown sugar, packed
2 Tbs. prepared mustard
1 Tbs. vinegar

In medium bowl, lightly mix beef, bread crumbs, onion, ½ can Hunt’s tomato sauce, egg, salt and pepper. Shape into loaf in shallow baking pan. Combine remaining Hunt’s sauce with rest of ingredients; pour over loaf. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 ¼ hours. Baste loaf several times.

Makes 5-6 servings.

I never realized how unattractive meat loaf was until I saw this picture. No wonder it gets a bad rap. Sorry, but there is little time in my schedule for getting decent pictures these days. Honestly, this is one of the best meat loaves I've ever made. It's pretty standard and if you don't like meat loaf, this probably won't change your mind, but if you do like meat loaf, I thought this was a really good version of one. This is a recipe from Hunt's and from doing a quick Google search, I think it's a popular meat loaf recipe. According to the cookbook, it was one of Hunt's most requested recipes.

I cooked it on Sunday night and Monday when I got home from work, I sliced it and grilled it on my Griddler. That's my favorite way to cook meat loaf and it's fast too (faster than heating up a whole meat loaf in the oven and tastier than nuking it). I wish I had made two and frozen one. I'm definitely going to make this again.

Many recipes in this cookbook say that they were the most requested from consumers. I wonder how many requests for recipes companies actually received. Before the internet, I think a lot of people went to companies for recipes. I've acquired loads of small recipe booklets that companies would send out at the consumer's request. Usually there was an address on the package or in a magazine - now there's a web address. I wonder if companies are still producing these recipe booklets. Hmmm. I'm going to have to look into that.

Question of the Day: Have you ever requested a recipe or recipe booklet from a company? I don't think I ever have. My cookbook guy occasionally sold me boxes of recipes clippings, small recipe booklets, etc that he would get along with the cookbook lots he bought at auction. I can tell from this evidence that some women made a major hobby out of it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Back to the bread machine
--Whole-Wheat Oat Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Whole-Wheat Oat Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Great Bread Machine Recipes Copyright 1992

1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 ½ teaspoons gluten (optional)I used this
1 ½ teaspoons dough enhancer (optional) I didn't use this
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons olive oil I used canola oil
4 teaspoons honey
5 ½ ounces warm water
½ cup raisins I used golden raisins

Add ingredients per your bread machines instructions.

Makes 1 1-lb loaf

I've been meaning to make a loaf of bread for weeks now but I kept putting it off. I don't know why - it doesn't get much easier than making bread in a bread machine. I usually get on a tangent with the bread machine. There are so many bread recipes I want to try. I should aim to make one each week.

This was not as sweet as most commercial raisin breads but that's a good thing - who needs extra sugar? There was plenty of sweetness coming from the raisins. My loaf was slightly on the dense side but that was probably partly the fault of my yeast which is starting to get old. It is all whole-wheat flour though which makes a denser loaf of bread. I find the added gluten really helps the texture.

This makes a lovely quick breakfast, toasted and spread with some light butter.

Since my bread machine makes 1-lb loaves, those are the measurements I've given here. If anyone wants the measurements for the 1 1/2-lb loaf, let me know.

Question of the Day: What types of bread do you usually have on hand? I buy whole-wheat sandwich rolls for my husband and son for their lunch (whatever brand is cheapest). I usually have Lite-35 bread for myself.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Something amiss
--Fudge Frosted Brownies

Fudge Frosted Brownies
Taste of Home Contest-Winning Desserts Copyright 2008

1 cup butter plus 3 tablespoons butter, cubed
¾ cup baking cocoa
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/ 2 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ to 1/3 cup milk

In a saucepan, melt butter. Remove from the heat. Stir in cocoa; cool. In a large mixing bowl, beat and sugar, until blended. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually add to egg mixture. Stir in vanilla and the cooled chocolate mixture until well blended.

Spread into a greased 13x9-inchx2-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (do not overbake). Cool on a wire rack.
For frosting, in a large mixing bowl, cream butter and confectioners’s sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in cocoa and vanilla. Add enough milk until the frosting achieves spreading consistency. Spread over the brownies. Cut into bars.

This recipe was in the same booklet as the Glazed Chocolate Chip Brownies I've made to great acclaim a couple of times recently. I wasn't as crazy about this recipe and I thought it was because it had too much cocoa but now I see that it has the same amount as the other brownies. It may be that this recipe has too much salt. There was a bit of an aftertaste that I thought was the cocoa but not I think it might be the salt. Or it could be the baking powder I'm tasting (I always use aluminum-free). I'm not sure what it is but there is something that catches my tastebuds when I eat these.

I loved the texture so it's a shame. I think the ideal combination might be the brownie from the Glazed Chocolate Chip Brownie recipe and the frosting from this recipe. I like the glaze on the other recipe but I think this frosting might be a bit better.

Let me say that I haven't heard anyone else complain about these brownies. They certainly aren't bad and I promise to continue taste-testing them until they're gone.

Question of the Day: What brand of cocoa powder do you use? I always use Hershey's. I wish I could get Ghiardelli's but I haven't found that anywhere in my area.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Autumn is on the way

I can't believe these Maple Walnut Cupcakes are from two years ago. I can't believe that fall is almost here. I love fall, I really do. Unfortunately winter comes after fall and since I now have to operate a vehicle during that season, I can no longer enjoy it. That is one thing I miss about living in the city - not having to worry about road conditions.

Hopefully I will have something new to post about next week. I can't promise anything exciting but I'm at least going to try to make a couple of new recipes to share with you. I woke up today thinking 'TGIF!' but then I realized that I don't really get a break on the weekend - I need to spend it getting ready for next week. Oh well, it gets easier. Eventually.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Will I ever cook again?

Well, I'm cooking but when will I have time to make anything new? Can I even continue to get dinner on the table everynight? Last night I was supposed to do my shopping list and plan my menu and I didn't work on it at all.

Monday we had meatballs that I made on Sunday night, with pasta and jarred sauce, and salad. Tuesday we had BBQ chicken the I cooked the night before, with a brown rice pilaf made with rice I had cooked last week and froze, and salad. Last night we had grilled ham slices and potatoes au gratin (which I made the night before - freestyled, using unpeeled potatoes - who has time to peel potatoes??) and canned green beans (my son's favorite). Tonight will be burgers and frozen french fries and salad. Friday will be pizza and subs from the local pizzaria I think.

I'm trying to think of some recipes I've already made that can be prepared ahead of time.

Maybe Salisbury Steak Deluxe:

Or Everyone's Favorite Lasagna:

Or Picadillo a la Marlen:

Or Sweet-Sour Meatballs (I actually prefer these made ahead of time):

Or Jumbo Stuffed Shells:

Or Porcupines:

I'm actually feeling a little better now. With some planning I can continue to keep getting dinner on the table. The challenge will be new recipes but if I devote some time to finding them on the weekends, I should be okay. Gone are the days when I can do my menu and shopping list mid-week.

Question of the Day: Any cook-ahead entrees you can suggest (especially something that freezes well)?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pot roast in the middle of the week!
--Pot Roast with Vegetables

Pot Roast with Vegetables
Our Favorite Meats Favorites From Home Economics Teachers Copyright MCMLXVI

1 4-lb chuck roast
1 c. water or tomato juice I used tomato juice
Salt and pepper
6 to 8 medium potatoes, cut into halves
4 carrots, cut into halves I used baby cut carrots

Trim off portion of suet; dice. Fry in electric skillet or fry pan. (I just used some canola oil.) Roll meat in flour; brown in suet drippings. Add water or tomato juice and 1 ½ teaspoons salt and pepper. Simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours. Add potatoes and carrots; sprinkle with a small amount of salt and pepper. Cook for 30 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender.

Yield: 6 servings.

I picked up this good looking 'natural' pot roast, marked down. Since it was my last week before going back to work, and I had time to cook a pot roast, I did - even though it was about 90 degrees that day.

Pot roast is a very nostalgic taste for me. It was a common Sunday dinner when I was growing up. It still is a common Sunday dinner, at my ILs, but we haven't been making it to dinner over there as often so I was missing it. It hit the spot, although I think next time I'll make all carrots. Pot roasted potatoes really don't do anything for me. I love carrots cooked with pot roast. It's my favorite way to eat carrots.

Yesterday I caught a break. I had to leave work early to get my car inspected (Sunday I noticed it expired at the end of August!) so I ended up home a little earlier and it gave me some time to catch up around the house. I had cooked some bbq chicken the night before that just needed to be heated up. I had precooked some brown rice and stuck it in the freezer last week. I made a little pilaf out of that. Add salad, and we had dinner. The only way I'm going to keep getting dinner on the table is by preparing some of it ahead of time but I don't have much time to spare anywhere in my schedule right now. I'm going to have to try to do more on the weekend.

Question of the Day: What vegetables do you like cooked with pot roast?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Wiped Out

I did have a recipe to post today but I was wiped out last night. I completely forgot about blogging. Day one back at work was exhausting - not the work but the transporting of two children and all of our gear. My husband actually got home from work before I did. I have to work a longer day since I take two breaks to pump milk.

It will get better. I hope so or we'll end up having sandwiches for dinner everynight.

Since I don't have a recipe, here's something even better:

Monday, September 08, 2008

Worth waiting for
--Mountain Dew Apple Cobbler

Mountain Dew Apple Cobbler
Very Scrumptious Cuisine Vandenberg Spouses Club Copyright 2007

2 cans crescent rolls
2 Granny Smith apples
1 stick real butter
1 ½ c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 (12-oz) can Mountain Dew

Cut apples into eighths. Separate crescent rolls into triangles and roll one wedge of apple starting at the fat end of the dough and rolling to the narrow end. (I think I rolled mine wrong but it doesn't really matter.) Place in a 13x9-inch lightly greased pan. Melt butter, sugar and cinnamon in microwave, just until butter is melted. Pour over apples. (My mixture wasn't really pourable - more like spreadable). Pour one can of Mountain Dew over all. DO NOT STIR! Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Really good with vanilla ice cream.

I'm not sure if I did this right. I rolled my apples wrong and poured the Mountain Dew around the dumplings instead of over the dumplings. I ended up with an uneven sugary crust on top but it didn't ruin it. I've been waiting forever to make this recipe and it was everything I had hoped for. It was so good. Dough - good. Apples - good. Sweet syrup - good. It is rather sweet but the tart apples helped balance everything out.

I've seen this recipe made with 2 sticks of butter but one was plenty. You can use any lemon-lime type soda and you can use peaches instead of apples.

Well, my maternity leave is over and I'm behind on the archives. I haven't added one recipe to the archives the entire time I was on leave. I'll catch up eventually.

Oh wow. Today is my 3 year bloggiversary! I can't believe it's been 3 years. Pop in and say hi, even if you're a lurker.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

My last week of maternity leave

Well, my 'vacation' is over. No, it didn't feel like a vacation. Dan is a very good baby but between him and Nick, pumping milk, driving Nick downtown for school 3 days a week, working out and my chores, there just wasn't as much time for cooking as I had hoped there would be on my leave.

I made a few more repeats lately:

Banana Cake. One of the most popular recipes on the internet and rightly so. I made this for an annual cookout at my in-laws. It's requested every year and raved over.

Glazed Chocolate Chip Brownies. I won't be surprised if these are requested next year at that same cookout. They were a big hit.

Cheeseburger Macaroni. That's an old stand-by around here now.

Multigrain Snickerdoodles. I didn't want to make those oatmeal cookies again (well, really I did but I thought it was time for something different).

That's about all I can remember right now. I have other things I meant to catch up on here over the weekend but I never found the time.