Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dough great, fillings not so great

The Ugly Binder, from the internet

1 cake yeast
5 cups flour
1/2 pound butter (softened)
1/2 pound crisco
3 egg yolks
1 cup sour cream
Solo Canned Filling - Many varieties to choose from.

Crumble yeast into flour. Add shortening and butter as for pie dough. Add egg yolks and sour cream. Mix well with hands. Shape into ball and cover with wax paper and refrigerate overnight.
On a clean rolling surface sprinkle a little flour and also flour the rolling pin lightly. Roll out only 1/4 of the dough at a time, otherwise the dough will become to soft. Roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch, cut into 3 inch squares. Place 1 tesp of filling into center of square, bring two ends of dough to center of square and pinch together to seal.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, bake on ungreased cookie sheet 15 to 20 minutes till golden. When cool sprinkle with powdered sugar if you like.

I've been wanting to make Kolacky (it has many variations of spellings) for years. I remember this cookie from my childhood although the memory is murky. You can make these cookies using a non-yeast dough, sometimes using a cream cheese dough. My mother has probably made them both ways but I doubt she can remember exactly which recipes she's used over the years (I don't think there was just one). And I could be remembering cookies made by someone else, I'm just not completely sure. Getting older sucks.

One thing for sure is that the fillings I remember the most fondly are nut and farmer's cheese. I couldn't make nut filling since we avoid treenuts in our house and I haven't seen farmer's cheese in any stores locally although I will keep looking until I find it. I found an internet source but the cost with shipping was outrageous. I had to settle for other fillings.

I enjoyed this dough - it was easy to put together and actually very easy to work with. Next time I might roll in out in powdered sugar instead of flour but otherwise it was exactly what I wanted. I didn't care for the Solo fillings I used (prune and apricot) or the cream cheese filling I made. The Solo fillings were fine but they aren't very sweet. That's great when you're using them to fill a sweetened cake or cookie but this dough isn't sweet at all. Growing up, we had access to better lekvar (prune filling) that was sweeter and more flavorful. Cream cheese just isn't a substitute for farmer's cheese either.

So I'll keep working on fillings for this recipe. Maybe someday I'll find farmer's cheese again. I finally found Fage Greek yogurt! I've been looking everywhere for that and I finally found a somewhat local source and it is definitely better than any other plain yogurt I've tried.

I haven't really started cooking again yet. Tonight I'm going to try a new wing recipe, modified a bit and make some regular hot wings, just to be safe in case the new recipe is a bust. I'm going to make a flank steak and then some cocktail weiners in grape jelly and chili sauce. It's sort of a tradition to make dinner out of appetizers on New Year's Eve at our house. I'll round things out with some veggies and dip and maybe pull out some of my homemade pepper jelly and pour it over some cream cheese.

Blast From The Past: Marinated Flank Steak from May 2007. OMG! I can't believe that was from all the way back in May. This year flew. I'm using that recipe tonight. My son loved it.

Question of the Day: Do you have any special plans for New Year's Eve? That's one holiday I think we all celebrate.

Friday, December 28, 2007

I'm alive!

I've really enjoyed taking this little break and I'm feeling rejuvenated. I believe that first trimester fatigue has finally subsided but it was quickly replaced by holiday fatigue. I haven't been completely ignoring my blog - the recipes archives are now completely updated. I was months behind and I really wanted to get them caught up before posting anything else. I'm going to update my links over the weekend and get back to my normal posting schedule on Monday.

I got a couple of new cookbooks, a Cuisinart Griddler and a food processor to play with now. The new year should be fun!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pasta on the table and a bun in the oven
--Rigatoni Con Salsiccia (Rigatoni with Sausage)

Rigatoni Con Salsiccia (Rigatoni with Sausage)
The Art of Italian Cooking Copyright 1948

1 lb rigatoni I used penne because I wanted to use Dreamfield pasta
1 lb Italian pork sausage
3 tbs olive oil
1 chopped onion
1 lb fresh mushrooms
1 bay leaf
1 large can tomato puree
½ cup grated Pecorino cheese
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut sausage in 1-inch pieces; place in hot skillet with olive oil; brown slightly for about 10 minutes. Add onion, mushrooms (well cleaned and sliced), garlic, salt and pepper; simmer for 15 minutes. Add tomato puree and bay leaf. Cover pan; cook slowly for 1 hour. Remove bay leaf.

Cook rigatoni about 20 minutes in 5 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water. When tender, drain and place in baking dish. Add sausage and sauce. Mix. Sprinkle with grated Pecorino cheese. Bake in moderate oven about 10 minutes.

Serve very hot. Serves 6.

This little cookbook is a gem. It's a little Bantam paperback that I think will be one of my favorite Italian cookbooks and I have several Italian cookbooks. It had 40 printings by the 70s but it may be out of print now. There may be more than one book with this title. The author of this one is Maria Lo Pinto.

I almost thought this recipe would be too simple but the sausage provides more than enough flavor. I made the sauce two days ahead of time, then I just heated it up when I cooked the pasta and threw it all together on the night we ate it. It wasn't complicated but it was very good.

Well I can tell you now that the real reason I've been slacking off around here isn't the holidays but instead sheer exhaustion from making a baby. By July 4th, there will be another mouth to feed around here! I'm trying to keep up as best I can but I can tell you there has been at least one Stouffer's family entree on the table recently.

Posting will be sparse since I'm making mostly repeat Christmas cookie recipes this year, if I can even scrounge up the energy to do that.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Not the best start

I won't include the recipe because the first candy I attempted to make this holiday didn't turn out anywhere near to how it should have and it was all my fault.

Well actually I can tell you the recipe, it was just 1 cup sugar, 1 cup dark corn syrup, 1 tablespoon vinegar cooked without stirring to 300 degrees and then stir in 1 tablespoon baking soda. Pour into buttered 13x9 pan (don't spread, it won't fill the pan completely), then crack into pieces when cool and dip in chocolate.

This was similar to a Nigella recipe which uses honey but her recipe just boils 3 minutes. My candy thermometer is wonky and I got impatient and didn't wait for it to get to 300 degrees (it had been cooking way longer than 3 minutes) so instead of crunchy light candy I got chewy, Bit-O-Honey- like candy, without the honey and almonds. Not that bad really but not quite as flavorful at Bit-O-Honey.

I wrapped the candy in wax paper but I'm not sure if it will end up with my treat packages. I don't want to be sued for dental work. It's not any more chewy than Bit-O-Honey, Mary Janes or some types of taffy but I'm not sure what people would be expecting when they bite into this.

I was ready to call it a day but after cleaning up I decided to go ahead and start my Chocolate-Dipped Caramels. They came out perfect this year. I overcooked them last year but they were just right this year. You know what the secret was? I remembered to turn on some Christmas music, something I forgot to do when I tried to make the other candy. I put on my favorite Christmas CD that my online friend Tammy burned for me for a Christmas swap a few years ago and all was right.

It's going to be a crazy week so I probably won't be around every day. I'm sure a lot of my readers won't either. I can't believe it's almost Christmas!

Question of the Day: What is your favorite Christmas CD?

Friday, December 14, 2007

From my favorite cookbook
--Skillet Chili Mac

Skillet Chili Mac
The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Copyright 2006

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound ground beef I used ground turkey
1 onion, chopped medium
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped medium
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin I used about 1/2 tablespoon
8 ounces macaroni (2 cups)
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can tomato puree
1 cup water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
8 ounces Colby cheese, shredded

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the beef and cook, breaking up the pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain the beef through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding the fat.
2. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the skillet and return to medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, bell pepper, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in the macaroni, tomatoes in their juice, tomato puree, water, brown sugar and drained beef. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, about 20 minutes.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the Colby evenly over the top, cover until the cheese melts, about 3 minutes.

This is the cookbook that I recommend most. In fact, it's the only one I ever find myself recommending. I recommend it for beginners or anyone who just wants to start cooking more. Most people will recommend the Joy of Cooking (snore) or Betty Crocker (not bad but I don't have the sentimental attachment to it that many people do) but this is my pick. It's modern, it has detailed instructions, great pictures, a sturdy ring-bound binder design. It's definitely not packed with gourmet recipes (it's a Family Cookbook) but you could find recipes for family or company in this book.

This was great chili mac. I held back on the cumin a bit as I normally do but I think I could have added it all and not minded it. I should trust ATK - they usually know best. Well, I don't always agree with them, that would be odd, but they certainly do put a lot of thought and effort into their recipes and product recommendations.

I missed my regular grocery night due to bad weather. I was prepared but now I have to go a day later and I still don't have my list done. I'm feeling the holiday crunch. Maybe Stouffer's will take over my kitchen next week. Darn, I don't think I have room in my freezer for frozen dinners.

Blast From The Past: Easy Dill Pickles from June 2007. I miss those pickles. I can't wait to get my hand on pickling cukes again.

Question of the Day: What's your favorite cookbook?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I love capers!
--Greek Chicken with Capers and Orzo

Greek Chicken with Capers and Orzo
Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2006 Copyright 2005

1 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta) I used more
Cooking spray
12 ounces chicken breast tenders I used breasts, cut into strips
1 tablespoon salt-free dried Greek seasoning blend mine wasn't salt-free
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic I used fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt I omitted this
1 large red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions

Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.
While orzo cooks, heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; cover and keep warm.

Combine Greek seasoning and next 5 ingredients (through salt); set aside.

Recoat pan with cooking spray. Add bell pepper, and sauté 2 minutes. Add onions; sauté 1 minute or until peppers begin to brown. Return chicken to pan. Stir in caper mixture, tossing gently to coat chicken. Spoon chicken mixture over orzo. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

I came up with this recipe at the last minute. I had everything to make it except the lemon juice so I was going to use bottled key lime juice but I ended up having to go to the grocery store for something else so I picked up the lemon.

I can't believe I went all these years not knowing how much I love capers. I have to find more recipes where I can use these salty little gems. If you don't care for them, I think this recipe would still be very good but you won't find me leaving them out.

The only thing I might do differently next time is to cut the chicken into even smaller pieces. I prefer that since the flavor from the sauce really gets into the chicken that way.

I think the weather is going to screw with my grocery night. That's okay since that gives me a little more time to plan. I need a super-easy week of menus next week.

Blast From The Past: Deep-Dish Chili Pie from February 2006. That might fit the bill for next week.

Question of the Day: Do you like capers?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The last of the pork
--Barbecue Pork Pot Pie

Barbecue Pork Pot Pie
Easy Pies With Pillsbury Crusts Copyright 2004

1 Refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box
1 Container (18 oz) Lloyd's refrigerated fully cooked shredded pork I used homemade pulled pork
1 1/2 cups frozen southern-style diced hashbrowns
1 1/2 cups frozen corn ,thawed
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (6 oz) I used Cabot's 50% light

1. Heat oven to 425. Make pie crust as directed on box for one-crust baked shell using 9 inch glass pie pan. Bake 5 - 7 minutes or until very lightly browned.

2. Remove partially baked crust from oven. Spoon half of the shredded pork into crust. Top with potatoes, thawed corn and half of the cheese. Spoon remaining shredded pork over top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover edge of crust with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning.

4. Return pie to oven; bake 30 -35 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Cut into wedges.

Okay, I didn't let this rest before cutting it. I was too impatient. So the picture is a little bit sloppy but it cut cleaner after it rested a while.

I made this because I had a pie crust from Thanksgiving left over and I had pulled pork in the freezer. I wasn't terrible excited about it until I took the first bite. I can't vouch for this with the Lloyd's since I think I've tried it and it's not as good as my homemade pulled pork. I'm disappointed that I've used up all of that pulled pork.

I have no idea what I'm making for dinner tomorrow night! Well, it's going to be chicken breasts but I have no idea what I'm going to make with it. I had Chicken Piccata on the menu but I forgot to buy lemons.

Blast From The Past: Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms from October 2007. Maybe I'll make this tomorrow night but without the mushrooms. I had some mushrooms leftover from the kabobs the other night but I tossed them thinking I wouldn't be able to use them before they went bad.

Question of the Day: What are you having for dinner tonight?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hard to go wrong with kielbasa
--Grilled Kielbasa Kabobs with Pineapple

Grilled Kielbasa Kabobs with Pineapple
American Profile Hometown Recipes For the Holidays Copyright 2007

1 pound kielbasa sausage, cut into 22 pieces
18 whole mushrooms
1 large green bell pepper, cut into 18 cubes
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces (18 total)
One 20-ounce can pineapple chunks, drained, 18 pieces, reserving remaining chunks for later use
1/3 cup olive or canola oil
1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice all I had was key lime juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Salt and black pepper
Brown rice or couscous

1. Preheat a grill or the broiler to high. I used my GF grill.
2. Thread six 12-inch skewers, alternating the sausage, vegetables, and pineapple. Combine the olive oil, mustard, lemon juice and soy sauce in jar. Season with salt and pepper. Secure the lid and shake to blend thoroughly.
3. Place the skewers on the grill rack and brush with half of the sauce. Cook for 6 minutes, turn, brush with the remaining sauce. Cook until browned, about 4 minutes.

I don't know why I bothered threading all of this stuff onto skewers. I really hate threading food onto skewers. I mean, it would be one thing if I had been presenting it to guests but we just took it off the skewers before we ate it. I could have toss everything in the sauce and tossed it all on the GF grill. Of course, I might have had trouble keeping it all from sliding off the grill. I REALLY want a Griddler. They don't slant, do they?

I loved the sauce, marinade or whatever this technically is. I enjoy practically everything with Dijon mustard, especially since I found a brand that I really like.

I used the pineapple juice in the brown rice along with some soy sauce and that went well with these kabobs.

Blast From The Past: Smoked Sausage Skillet from July 2007. Mmmm that had Dijon mustard in it too.

Question of the Day: Do you realize that Christmas is just two weeks away??!!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

'Tis the season not to cook Fa La La La La La La La La

I didn't want a pictureless post so I included a picture of a favorite cookie from last year, Coconut Butterballs.

This weekend I didn't really do any cooking. I did make a batch of Gingerbread Syrup, which I planned on using to make a clone of Red Robin's Gingerbread Shake for my husband, who pouts when I won't let him order one (it just isn't fair since our peanut-allergic son can't order dessert when we eat there - we can't trust desserts anywhere). I didn't get around to making the shakes but the syrup turned out well. It can be used to make Gingerbread Lattes too. I got these recipes somewhere on the internet. I forgot to note the sources.

Gingerbread Syrup
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Make the gingerbread syrup by combining water, sugar, ginger, cinnamon and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Be sure the pan is not too small or the mixture could easily bubble over.

2. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat and simmer syrup, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove the syrup from the heat when it's done and slap a lid on it.

Gingerbread Shake
1½ oz. gingerbread syrup
2 oz. milk
1 tablespoon Graham Cracker crumbs
14 oz. vanilla ice cream

Blend syrup, milk, ice cream.
Garnish with whipped cream, Graham Cracker crumbs, and a gingersnap.

I also picked up some frozen sausage and pepper calzones in Costco. They were excellent. Packed full of sausage. Terribly decadent of course, but dinner was just those with some spaghetti sauce. The leftovers will be fought over.

That's it. I know I'm not the only one busy this time of year so I won't continue to go on and on about nothing.

Question of the Day: Have you had a gingerbread shake or gingerbread latte?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Some mistakes, still good
--Hot and Sour Pork with Cabbage

Hot and Sour Pork with Cabbage
Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2007 Copyright 2006

1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into strips
1 tablespoon cornstarch, divided
½ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water
½ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Siracha (hot chile sauce, such as Huy Fong) I had the one with garlic
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon peanut oil I used canola oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
12 cups coarsely chopped cabbage (about 2 pounds)
1/3 cup chopped green onions

1. Combine pork, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, white pepper and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
2. Combine 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl, set aside.
3. Combine ketchup and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.
4. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork mixture and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Remove pork from pan; set aside. Add cabbage to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Add ketchup mixture; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in pork; sauté 1 minute. Stir in cornstarch mixture; cook 30 seconds or until thick. Remove from heat. Stir in onions.


Well actually I think I just made one mistake with this recipe. I cut the cabbage too big. It said 'coarsely chopped' so as you can see, my slices were kind of thick. Afterwards I noticed a note at the top that you can use bagged shredded cabbage which would be cut much thinner. I had to cook this much longer than the 2 minutes here and there that the recipe called for. I didn't like the cabbage I had either. Not enough green leaves, too much white stuff.

In the end, I was happy. It wasn't outrageously awesome but it was spicy and flavorful and rather healthy with all of that cabbage. It was a satisfying dinner.

My grocery bill continues to rise. I did stock up on butter since it was on sale for a good price and I'll need it for baking but that wasn't the only reason my bill was higher. Menu planning and shopping while tired is bad news! Even worse than shopping while hungry.

Blast From The Past: Stir-Fried Pork with Sweet Onions from June 1006. I almost forgot about that simple and delicious stir-fry.

Question of the Day: Have you ever cooked with Siracha (hot chile sauce)?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

It's that time of the year again!

Well I warned you that I might not have anything new to post one of these days. Last night we had a repeat of Skillet Chicken Parmigiana which I have been looking forward to since it got pushed off the menu last week.

So I thought this might be a good time to recap some of the cookies I've made for the holidays the past two years in case anyone was looking for holiday baking ideas. Here is a recap of my 2005 cookies (pictured above and pre-peanut allergy diagnosis so you will find the best peanut butter fudge recipe ever there).

Last year I tried a few new recipes, including Chocolate-Peppermint Snaps, Cherry Drop Cookies, Two-Bit Wonders, Coconut Butterballs, Five-Minute Fudge, White Fudge, and the oh-so-good Chocolate-Dipped Caramels.

A little while ago, I tested a recipe that will definitely make it into this year's line-up. Raspberry (Peach) Kisses were fantastic! For their ease, I'll probably do some Spritz Cookies too, making Christmas trees instead of pumpkins, of course.

Two recipes I've used as part of teacher gifts are Sour Cream Banana Bread and Chocolate-Chip Brownies (with Christmas Kissables on top). I really love that brownie recipe. It's very sturdy so they cut nicely and you can stack them nicely in wax bags that you can usually find in the dollar store.

I hope you get a few ideas from these recipe!

Question of the Day: Is there a cookie that you most associate with the holidays?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

These really hit the spot
--Whole-Wheat Pancakes

Whole-Wheat Pancakes
The American’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Copyright 2006

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups buttermilk I used milk soured with vinegar
1 to 2 teaspoons vegetable oil I cooked them in butter

1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Set a wire cooling rack over a baking sheet and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, melted butter and buttermilk. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour the buttermilk mixture in to the well and whisk gently until the buttermilk mixture is just incorporated (a few lumps should remain). Be careful not to overmix the batter.
3. Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Brush the pan bottom with 1 teaspoon oil. Using ¼ cup batter per pancake, add the batter to the skillet (only 2 or 3 pancakes will fit at a time) and cook until large bubbles begin to appear, about 2 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook until golden brown on the second side, about 1 ½ minutes longer. Spread the pancakes over the wire rack on the baking sheet (they shouldn’t overlap) and hold in the warm oven. Repeat with the remaining batter, brushing the skillet with oil between batches.

I picked up some turkey breakfast sausage patties for cheap and they kept falling out of my packed freezer every time I opened it. This happened when I was trying to round out my weekly menu and I thought 'pancakes!'

The last time we had pancakes for dinner was almost two years ago. I don't know why we don't do it more often. Only my son ever has pancakes (frozen) for breakfast. I don't care for them for breakfast but I love them for dinner.

I was a bit ticked that when I stopped at the grocery store for buttermilk after work, they didn't have any. I don't like it when they don't have what I want! But no worries, the soured milk worked just fine. The batter was quite thick so these cooked up nice and fluffy.

Blast From The Past: Out-of-This-World Waffles from January 2007. I've made these so many times but with some whole wheat flour and wheat bran in place of the flour. My husband was on a waffle kick for breakfast for quite a while but I got tired of making them.

Question of the Day: Do you prefer pancakes or waffles?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Fast and yummy
--Hamburger Pie with Corn Bread Topping

Hamburger Pie with Corn Bread Topping
The Busy Moms’ Make It Quick Cookbook Copyright 2004

1 lb. extra-lean ground beef
1 cup frozen diced onions I used fresh
1 cup frozen diced green bell peppers I used fresh
1 cup tomato sauce
¼ cup water
¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons chunky-style salsa
1 cup canned corn kernels or 2 Tablespoons chopped green chiles, optional I used the corn
1 14 ½ oz. package fat-free honey corn bread mix I used 2 smaller pouches of regular corn bread mix

Spray large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add beef, onions, and bell pepper, cook, stirring frequently, until beef is browned and crumbled and vegetables are tender; drain well. Return beef mixture to skillet; stir in tomato sauce, water and salsa (and corn or green chiles, if using). Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray baking dish with cooking spray; spoon beef mixture into baking dish. Prepare corn bread batter according to package directions; let batter stand 5 minutes to thicken. Drop batter by tablespoons onto beef mixture and spread carefully to cover. Bake 15-20 minutes until corn bread is lightly browned and cooked through.

I know this doesn't look too pretty but I couldn't stop eating it. I'm a big fan of corn bread. This was like chili and cornbread all rolled into one. Very easy and delicious. You could play around with this, adding beans to stretch it out too. It seemed really juicy at first but the cornbread soaked it all up so it wasn't the big mess that I thought it would be.

I am soooo behind on the recipe lists. I really need to update those before the end of the year. I had gotten all caught up and then fell right behind again.

Blast From The Past: Beef and Potato Tex-Mex Hash from September 2006. Another quick and delicious recipe from this cookbook.

Question of the Day: What are you behind on?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Not very healthy but delicious
--Apricot Oatmeal Bars

Apricot Oatmeal Bars
William-Sonoma The Kid’s Cookbook Copyright 2000

¾ cup butter, cut up
2 teaspoons soft butter for greasing foil
1 cup firmly packed dried apricots
1 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Put the ¾ cup butter in a small saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until the butter is melted, about 2 minutes. Using a pot holder, remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside to cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with a large piece of aluminum foil (some foil hanging over the edges is fine). Light grease the foil with the soft butter. Using kitchen scissors, snip the apricots into about ½-inch pieces.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the rolled oats, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Mix with a wooden spoon until well blended and no lumps of sugar remain.
4. Add the snipped apricots, melted butter and vanilla to the bowl. Stir until well blended. The dough will be moist and crumbly. Dump the dough into the prepared baking pan. Press the dough into the pan with your fingers.
5. Bake until the top is golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Using oven mitts, remove the pan from the oven and set on a rack to cool completely.
6. Lift the foil and the oatmeal bars from the pan and place on a work surface. Peel away the foil from the sides and the bottom. Using a small, sharp knife, cut the big square into 1 ½ -by-3-inch rectangles. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 18 bar cookies.

Okay, these aren't the healthiest treats with all that butter and sugar but they were good. Come on, butter and brown sugar? What could be better? The turkish apricots I used were very good too. Commercial granola bars aren't found in our cupboards since even the peanut and nut-free ones are almost always made on shared lines and I just don't trust them. So these would satisfy any granola bar cravings I might have and even though they aren't exactly healthy, every ingredient is recognizable. They would be good with raisins, dried cranberries or any other dried fruit of your choice. If nuts or peanuts aren't a problem for you, they would be great thrown in too.

I've been tired and busy and the result of that is my grocery bill is rising again. It requires a lot of focus to keep my grocery bill down and I just haven't had it lately. I need to regain control!

Blast From The Past: Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes from February 2007. I think I'm making pancakes for dinner one night this week. I got a deal on some turkey breakfast sausage patties.

Question of the Day: Do you eat granola bars? What kind do you like?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Simple comfort food
--Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs
Our Favorite Meats Favorites From Home Economics Teachers Copyright MCMLXVI

1 lb. ground beef
1/4 c. fine dry bread crumbs
1/4 c. minced onion
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tbsp. parsley flakes
1 can cream of mushroom soup I used the low-fat version
½ soup can water
1 to 2 tbsp. minced dill pickle
Cooked rice

Mix beef, bread crumbs, onion and parsley (I added salt and pepper); shape into 24 meatballs. Brown meat balls; pour off drippings. Stir in soup, water and pickle. Cover; cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring often. Serve with rice.

Yield: 4 servings.

I chose this recipe for the simplicity. The only thing that I needed to buy to make it was the soup. Recipes like this are a crapshoot but luckily this one was a winner in this house. I'm always pleased when my son likes something, not that he's terribly picky.

I made the meatballs in the morning before work and then I just cooked them up when I got home. I think making them ahead of time, even when you don't cook them ahead of time, gives them better flavor. I thought these might be a bit one-dimensional but once the meatballs simmered in the sauce, it developed a lot of flavor. I liked the addition of the minced pickle. It added a bit of a tart little kick.

My grocery bill is creeping up again. It's like falling off of a diet. I just got tired of depriving myself and my family. It still better than it was but I have to buckle down again.

Blast From The Past: Sweet-Sour Meatballs from November 2005. I've been meaning to make these again. My husband really liked them.

Question of the Day: What are some 'extras' or 'treats' that you like to toss into your grocery cart?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A quick one
--Spicy Mayonnaise

Spicy Mayonnaise
Salads A Recipe Book by Heinz Copyright 1956

Blend ½ cup Mayonnaise, ¼ cup Heinz Tomato Ketchup and 1 teaspoon ground ginger. Chill. Makes ¾ cup.


I won't sugarcoat this - I was being lazy. Well, not lazy exactly but I realized that I didn't have anything to post for today. For dinner, I freestyled some pork with my homemade red onion marmalade again. I had no new recipe to share. I warned you that this month was going to be tough.

The blend of tomato and ginger really appeals to me. This was pleasant, although I think it could have been kicked up a notch, maybe by using chili sauce instead of ketchup.

This little promotional cookbook has a few decent sounding salads which is rare in an older salad book. I don't know why but most 'vintage' salad recipes just don't appeal to me. There are usually plenty of congealed salads and odd combinations which this book has it's share of but there are quite a few other recipes that actually appeal to me.

I'm going to have to make this brief or next week is going to be even more lame since I need to plan my menu for next week.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The roll recipe I've been looking for
--Honey Wheat Sandwich Rolls

Honey Wheat Sandwich Rolls
The Ugly Binder, from

1 1/4 cups warm milk
1 egg, beaten I used egg substitute
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup honey
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoons bread machine yeast
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press start.
When dough cycle has finished, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out 3/4 inch thick. Cut out rolls with a 3 to 4 inch diameter biscuit cutter. I made two sizes, bigger and smaller dinner roll sized. Place on lightly greased cookie sheets; cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes. When rolls are finished baking, brush with melted butter.

This recipe was from I'm sure I have hundreds of dinner roll recipes in my cookbooks but I've seen this one raved about and I didn't have time to mess around. I thought the rolls could use a tad more salt but otherwise, I'm already thinking about making another batch of these rolls. This was the kind of roll I've been looking for. It was soft and a bit sweet.

I had to divide the recipe into two halves since I could only fit half of the recipe in each side of my dual bread machine. That is one nice thing about - they'll do the math for you. It worked out fine. I used egg substitute since I needed to use 1/2 of an egg on each side.

I finally cooked last night. I freestyled some flounder. I topped it with breadcrumbs mixed with melted butter and Old Bay, then I sprinkled on some fresh lemon juice before serving. It was so good! I always forget about Old Bay even though my husband eats it on lots of things. I always found it to be too salty but I started buying the lower sodium version.

Of course, I served the flounder with Spongebob and Scooby Doo Kraft mac and cheese LOL. My son liked that and so did I honestly. That's one of the few convenience foods from my childhood that still tastes good for me.

Blast From The Past: Skillet Chicken Parmigiana from May 2007. I was supposed to make that again this week but it's going to get pushed off until next week. I wish it wasn't though because I'm really looking forward to it.

Question of the Day: Do you like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese?

Extreme chocolate
--Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with Coffee Mascarpone Cream

Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with Coffee
Mascarpone Cream

Food & Wine An Entire Year of Recipes 2004

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
Pinch of salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg yolk

3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 large egg, beaten

1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1 1/2 teaspoons pure coffee extract (see Note)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1. MAKE THE TART SHELL: In a food processor, pulse the flour with the confectioners' sugar and salt. Add the butter and egg yolk and process until a soft, crumbly dough forms. Transfer the dough to a 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Pat the dough over the bottom and up the side of the pan in an even layer. Refrigerate until firm.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line the tart shell with parchment paper and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the shell for 30 minutes, or until golden around the edge and dry in the center. Remove the parchment and weights and cover the rim with foil. Continue to bake the shell for 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a rack; let cool.

3. MAKE THE FILLING: In a small saucepan, heat the cream with the milk over moderate heat until small bubbles appear around the edges. Off the heat, add the chocolate and let stand for 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in the egg; the mixture will thicken slightly.
4. Set the tart shell on a baking sheet and fill it with the chocolate custard. Bake for 25 minutes, or until set around the edges, but still very jiggly in the center. Transfer the tart to a rack to cool, then refrigerate until chilled.
5. MAKE THE TOPPING: In a very small saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the coffee extract and cook over low heat just until the gelatin melts; let cool slightly.
6. In a large bowl, beat the cream, mascarpone and sugar with an electric mixer until firm peaks form. At low speed, scrape the gelatin into the bowl and beat to combine. Dollop the cream onto the tart and swirl decoratively. Sift the cocoa over the cream. Refrigerate the tart until firm before serving.

NOTES If coffee extract is unavailable, dissolve 1 1/2 teaspoons of espresso powder in 1 1/2 teaspoons of water. I used a bit of coffee 'flavoring' and then added some espresso powder dissolved in water.
Something went wrong and the gelatin sort of lumped up in the cream. I'm not sure why that happened. They were small bits so it didn't really
affect much.


I was excited to make this recipe. Besides a bit of lumping coffee gelatin and some overdone crust (just around the bottom edge), it turned out really well but this was very, very rich. A little dab with do ya. It was probably second in popularity to the pumpkin pie, although my sister's apple pie might have pulled ahead of it in leftovers.

Excuse the picture as it was taken about two days after it was made and had travelled quite a bit.

I'll still make other chocolate pies. This was very good but not the ultimate. Years ago my sister made the perfect chocolate pie but by the next year she had forgotten which recipe she used. It's been so long I can't even remember what it was like, only that I really liked it. I think the chocolate base was somewhat dense, but not quite as dense as this tart. I was afraid that this tart here might be too intense with only bittersweet chocolate in the filling but it played out okay. I thought the filling could have used a bit of salt.

This reminded me of a fancy restaurant dessert. You eat a small piece, it's heavenly, but it's so rich, you aren't sitting around dreaming about it because
that little bit was so satisfying.

This cookbook will probably be mostly for when I'm feeling a little ambitious.
Not the the recipes are complicated but they're a bit more involved than my
usual fare these days.

We had pizza for dinner! Take out! Totally not my fault. My husband was supposed
to have a hunting buddy staying over and he neglected to tell me he would be there for dinner and I only had a small bit of flounder out for dinner. Two guys sitting it the woods all day didn't really want flounder for dinner. Turns out the other guy went home but my husband still picked up dinner.

Blast From The Past: Ricotta Cookies from December 2005. It won't be
long now and it will be time to bake cookies. I hope I'm in the mood.

Question of the Day: Are in the holiday spirit? It seems to be coming and going for me.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A surprise success
--Strawberry-Mallow Pie

Strawberry-Mallow Pie
Better Homes and Gardens Encyclopedia of Cooking Parfait Pie to Popcorn Vol. 12 Copyright 1971

3 ½ cups miniature marshmallows
¾ cup milk
1 cup whipping cream
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 baked 9-inch pastry shell, cooled
1 21-ounce can strawberry pie filling

Set aside ½ cup marshmallows; melt remaining marshmallows with milk over low heat, stirring constantly. Chill, without stirring, till partially set. Whip cream. Fold cream, vanilla and dash salt into marshmallow mixture.

Spoon half the mixture into pastry shell. Cover with pie filling, reserving ½ cup. Fold reserved marshmallows into remaining cream mixture; spread over strawberry layer. Garnish with reserved filling. I forgot to garnish the top. Chill thoroughly.

I thought this recipe was going to be a bust. The marshmallow mixture was sort of watery before I folded in the whipped cream and the strawberry filling didn't taste all that great on it's own. When I tasted this the next day, all was well. It tasted like soft-serve vanilla ice cream with strawberry topping. It was very light. Is this how they made light and fluffy pies before Cool Whip was invented?

Well I am beat. And I just had five days off. How will I make it through a full, 5-day work week? I haven't had to work a full week in weeks.

Things are going to be simple around here for the rest of the year. That might mean I might miss a day or two but it's the holiday season season and I have to cut back somewhere. For dinner last night I made frozen meatballs with jarred sauce on soft, squishy rolls. It got rave reviews. Seriously. So you can see why I won't bust my hump when so much other stuff is going on.

Skipping the Blast from the Past today.

Question of the Day: Do you tend to eat take-out and eat out at restaurants more often around the holidays?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Eating like a trucker
--Trucker’s Polish Sausage Sandwich

Trucker’s Polish Sausage Sandwich
The All-American Truck Stop Cookbook Copyright 2002

5 ounces Polish or smoked sausage
½ cup cooked sauerkraut
2 slices mozzarella cheese
1 hoagie roll
Dijon mustard
3 or 4 onion rings I had breaded onion rings
Pickle I skipped the pickle

Slice the sausage horizontally and grill on both sides. Put the sauerkraut on the sausage and melt the cheese over the top. Serve on the grilled hoagie roll with Dijon mustard. Serve with the onion rings and garnish with a pickle.

1 serving

I've had my eye on this sandwich recipe for a while. It just sounded like a good combination to me and I was waiting for an evening when I wanted to make something super easy. What better time than Thanksgiving week? I don't make sandwiches too often for dinner during the week since our weekend meals are usually some type of sandwich and my husband eats sandwiches for lunch every day.

It was good and I balanced it out with some steamed broccoli.

I may be MIA the rest of the week since we'll be away for a couple of days. I should have pie recipes when I get back. I haven't had much luck with new pie recipes so wish me luck!

Blast From The Past: Key Lime Pie from June 2006. I should make that again but I think I've settled on my pie recipes.

Question of the Day: Do you know any truckers?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pretty good pork
--Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Sauce

Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Sauce
The New Holly Clegg Trim & Terrific Cookbook Copyright 2002, 2006

¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
¼ cup bourbon
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat
Mustard Sauce

In an 11 x 7 x 1 ½ -inch non-stick baking dish, combine the soy sauce, bourbon, and brown sugar. Add the tenderloins. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Remove the meat from the marinade, discarding the marinade; place the tenderloins on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 160 degrees F. Serve with the Mustard Sauce.

Mustard Sauce

2/3 cup fat-free sour cream I used lite
2/3 cup light mayonnaise I used regular
2 tablespoons dry mustard
½ cup thinly sliced chopped green onions

In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, dry mustard, and green onion. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

I made this last week and it wasn't bad but the marinade didn't penetrate the pork as much as I would have liked (and I marinated it about 9 hours). The sauce was good too but I really like mayonnaise so it's pretty easy to please me when mayonnaise is in a recipe.

Well I'm tired and I'm running behind so I'm going to skip the Blast From The Past and the Question of the Day. I have to work one more day and then I can make pies!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Best muffin topping
--Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins
Home Cooking 2005 Recipe Annual Copyright 2005

1 ½ cups rolled oats
1 ¼ cups flour I used about 1/3 cup whole wheat flour and the rest AP
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ tablespoon salt
1 cup applesauce
½ cup milk
½ cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons oil
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin cups with paper baking cups.
Combine oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add applesauce, milk, brown sugar, oil and egg; mix just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fill muffin cups almost full.

¼ cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon margarine, melted I used butter
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

For topping combine oats, brown sugar, margarine and cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over muffins before baking. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes 12 muffins.

This would be a great recipe to use with one of those muffin top pans. The topping is so good! Not that they muffins themselves aren't good but the topping was extra good.

I used about 1/3 cup whole wheat flour. The plan was to use more but that's all I had left of my whole wheat flour.

My son had a birthday party to attend at one of those kiddie gyms. It happens to be right next door to a Tuesday Morning. We were a little bit early for the party so we popped in to Tuesday Morning and I walked out with two cookbooks. They don't have a huge selection but the prices weren't too bad. I've never heard of Home Cooking magazine but there are a lot of good recipes in this annual.

I did end up going to auction Friday and it was worth it if for no other reason I picked up the Sopranos Family Cookbook for $2. I already had the Entertaining with the Sopranos and this one looks even better. I picked up several other good cookbooks too. I had to tell my cookbook guy that he probably wouldn't see much of me before spring and I don't think he was too happy. It's rare that I spend over $10 - he can't be getting rich off of me. As much as I enjoy the cheap cookbook fix, I don't enjoy driving up there in the dark.

Blast From The Past: Butterscotch Pie from November 2006. That's my brother's favorite pie and it's time to make it again like I do every Thanksgiving. Haagen Daaz has gone on sale 2 for $5 before Thanksgiving for the past several years. This year it was 2 for $6.

Question of the Day: Are you celebrating Thanksgiving?

Friday, November 16, 2007

I can't pass up free recipes
--Hawaiian Chicken

Hawaiian Chicken
Good Housekeeping Lighter & Easier (pamphlet)

2 8 oz. cans pineapple slices in pineapple juice
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
4 4 oz. skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon salad oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce
2 teaspoons dried chopped chives
¼ teaspoon pepper
Fresh chives for garnish

(I doubled the sauce ingredients and also thickened it with corn starch)

1. Drain pineapple slices, reserving ¼ cup juice. Cut pineapple slices into quarters; set pineapple and juice aside.
2. On waxed paper, mix flour and salt; use to coat chicken breasts.
3. In 10-inch skillet over medium heat, in hot salad oil, cook chicken breasts until golden and fork-tender, about 10 minutes, turning once. Remove chicken breasts to warm platter; keep warm.
4. Into drippings in skillet stir honey, teriyaki sauce, dried chives, pepper, and reserved pineapple juice. Over high heat, heat to boiling; boil 30 seconds. Add pineapple; heat through. Pour sauce over chicken; garnish with fresh chives.

Makes 4 servings.

I avoid collecting small cooking pamphlets as much as possible since I need to draw the line somewhere however my cookbook guy usually throws them in for free when I buy cookbooks from him so how could I say no? And since I have them, I'm going to use them.

I'm always a little bit hesitant with healthy recipes but this came out fine. I did double the sauce since I was serving it over brown rice. One thing I might do differently next time is cutting up the chicken into smaller pieces. I just think the flavor disperses better that way.

Speaking of my cookbook guy, two weeks ago he told me to come back in two weeks because he was getting someone's cookbook collection. It's so dark in the evening now that I really don't want to drive up there but I think I will, one last time this year. If he's not there, I'm going to be ticked.

Blast From The Past: Spicy Meatballs with Fiery Chili Sauce from December 2006. I'm due to make those again soon.

Question of the Day: Do you have dried chives in your spice collection?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Back to our regularly scheduled blogging
--Spicy Ravioli and Cheese

Spicy Ravioli and Cheese
Favorite Brand Name Slow Cooker Casseroles and More Copyright 2002

1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
½ teaspoon seasoned salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder with parsley
¼ teaspoon sugar
1 package (8 or 9 ounces) fresh or frozen ravioli I used a 26 oz bag
1 ½ cups chunky salsa I used 2 cups mild
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced I used more
2 green onions, sliced

Place bell peppers in broilerproof baking dish; sprinkle with oil, seasoned salt, garlic powder and sugar. Broil 15 minutes or until tender and browned, turning once. Prepare ravioli according to package directions. Pour ¾ cup salsa in bottom of 8-inch square baking dish. Alternate layers of bell peppers, ravioli, cheese and green onions. Pour remaining ¾ cup salsa over layers. Cover with foil; bake in 350 degree oven 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese melts.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

The phone company came through and fixed the line. It was their problem thank God.

So now I can tell you about this ravioli 'casserole'. This was part of my quest to make more meatless meals. I haven't had any complaints about the lack of meat yet so I must be making good choices.

This was one of those dishes that I started to doubt as it came closer to the time to make it. I had nothing to worry about because I really liked it. I used a mild salsa so it wasn't exactly 'spicy' but it was still very good. In my mind salsa and mozzarella just didn't seem to go but the salsa didn't scream SALSA, it was just a chunky tomato sauce. I used a good amount of peppers and increased the ravioli and salsa to stretch it out. You don't have to be exact with this recipe. It's basically a vegetable lasagne when all is said and done but much easier. You could easily add other vegetables to the peppers or substitute other vegetables - zucchini, eggplant, onions, mushrooms - anything really. It doesn't serve up as pretty as a lasagna but it's a heck of a lot faster and easier to prepare.

Blast From The Past: Cheeseburger Macaroni from March 2006. That recipes is one I'll probably keep making for years.

Question of the Day: Do you make vegetable lasagna? Which vegetables do you use in it?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

We are experiencing technical difficulties

I have no dial tone at home and that's where all the magic happens. I spoke to a lovely computer (isn't it nice that the phone company doesn't have to deal with so many pesky human employees anymore?) and she said that it was probably their issue and it would be fixed by Thursday. If it's something on our end, I get to pay the lovely sum of $91 just for a service person to come out PLUS $91 for the first half hour and then $46 for every half hour after that. So if a service person came out for an hour it would be $228. $228 for an hour. Compare that to what most Americans make hourly.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Portable oatmeal
--Oatmeal Muffins

Oatmeal Muffins
Best Recipes From The Backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and
Jars Copyright 1979, 1981, 1982

3 cups Elam’s Scotch Style Oatmeal I used some
old-fashioned and some quick oats

3 Tbs. sugar
3 tsps. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups milk
1 egg, beaten
3 Tbs. cooking oil or melted shortening

Combine first 4 ingredients in bowl; mix. Combine milk, egg and oil or melted shortening; beat slightly. Add liquids to dry ingredients; stir until just moistened. Fill greased muffin cups about 7/8 full using an equal amount of batter in each cup. Bake in hot oven (425 degrees F) until done and lightly browned, 20-25 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.

These weren't like traditional muffins. They were more like mini baked oatmeals. I had trouble with them sticking to the muffin tin but if you use liners, you'd lose the best part (the crunchy sides). I think this would be good made in a shallow baking dish. I took the crumbles and poured milk over them. Yummy!

The benefit to this recipe is that they're almost pure oatmeal. If you're eating oatmeal for health reasons, most oatmeal muffins don't really include a whole lot of oatmeal and most include more sugar.

If you don't like oatmeal, you won't like these.

I heard something rather depressing the other day. Kate Gosselin, the mother of two 6-year-olds and six 2-year olds (from the Discovery show Jon & Kate Plus 8) said that she only spends about $150 per week to feed her family of 10, and she buys as much organic as she can. That's almost what I spend on three people!

Blast From The Past: Overnight Oatmeal Muffins from February 2006. That's a more muffin-y oatmeal muffin.

Question of the Day: Have you ever had baked oatmeal?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Didn't thrill me
--Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
Pillsbury Complete Cook Book Copyright 2000, 2006

1 (1 lb 2 2.5 oz) pkg. pudding-included yellow cake mix
1 cup canned pumpkin
½ cup water
1/3 cup oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Cinnamon Frosting

2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 (16-oz) can vanilla frosting

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper baking cups. In large bowl combine all cupcake ingredients except chocolate chips; beat at low speed until moistened. Beat 2 minutes at high speed. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill paper-lined muffin cups ¾ full.
2. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan; cool 20 minutes or until completely cooled.
3. Stir cinnamon into vanilla frosting. Frost cooled cupcakes.

My mother-in-law gave me two boxes of cake mix out of the blue so I went searching for recipes. This is the recipe that caught my eye. I hesitated when it came to canned frosting but I recently had a boxed mix cupcake with canned frosting at my son's fall daycare party and I thought it was the best thing I ever had! They must have used a different brand because I wasn't thrilled with this frosting, maybe because I cheaped out and bought store brand. It was a lot easier than making my own frosting and I don't know if the cupcakes themselves deserved any better. They weren't bad but although they looked pumpkin-y they didn't have a strong pumpkin flavor. The flavor that hit you the most was the semi-sweet chocolate chips.

I don't know what I'll do with all of these cupcakes because I don't think that they're good enough for work and we certainly won't eat them all.

I just remembered that I need to bake a batch of cupcakes for my son again too (to keep in the freezer). He's down to his last and he has a couple of birthdays coming up this week. I should have just made these plain. I do have another box in the cupboard.

Blast From The Past: Gooey Butter Cakes from May 2006. I could have made these and taken them to work. I saw Paula Deen selling these for a small fortune on one of the shopping channels. Unbelievable!

Question of the Day: Do you have any good recipes that use boxed cake mix (yellow)?

Friday, November 09, 2007

I messed up
--Balsamic Pork

Balsamic Pork
Mr. Food Every Day’s A Holiday Diabetic Cookbook Copyright 2002

2 large red onions, thinly sliced
One 1-pound pork tenderloin
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup apple juice
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

1. Coat a large skillet or wok with nonstick cooking spray; sauté the onion slices over high heat for 10 minutes, or until caramelized.
2. Spread the onions to the edge of the skillet and place the tenderloin in the center. Pout the vinegar and apple juice over the tenderloin and onions, and sprinkle with the salt and the pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until desired doneness, turning the tenderloin once during cooking.
3. Thinly slice the tenderloin and serve with the caramelized onions.

I hate when I mess up and then I don't know if the recipe isn't any good or if I ruined it. I forgot to buy apple juice so I had to improvise by squishing up an apple with water. My apples weren't that sweet so then I had to throw in some sugar. I'm not even sure all that I ended up doing to this. In the end it wasn't bad but it wasn't anything I would make again. I've made similar recipes that turned out better.

I've been slipping up a lot. Usually I go over my recipes the night before but I've been getting sloppy.

My grocery bill was higher again this week. It was steady, then it went up around $10, then it went up another $5 this week. Although I know where that $5 came from. My husband wanted something to eat while he hunts and do you know how hard it is to find something that doesn't have nuts or peanuts or is cross-contaminated? He used to take trail mix. I could make a nut-free trail mix but it wouldn't have protein and lots of things I'd like to put in it (like yogurt covered raisins) are cross-contaminated. I had to buy beef jerky which was $5 for 4 ounces.

Blast From The Past: Crumb-Coated Dijon Chicken from September 2006. I know I've mentioned this a few times but it's just so good. We had it for dinner last night. It never disappoints.

Question of the Day: What could I send with my husband hunting? (Something that goes in a baggie.)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

More fun with flounder
--Fillets Baked In Sour Cream

Fillets Baked In Sour Cream
Best Recipes From the backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars Copyright 1979, 1981, 1982

4 tsps. butter or margarine, divided
2 lbs. fish fillets (sole, haddock or flounder)
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. Tabasco pepper sauce
1 Tbs. paprika
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup fine dry bread crumbs.

Grease 2-quart baking dish with 1 tsp. of the butter. Arrange fish in baking dish. Blend, salt, Tabasco pepper sauce paprika, and Parmesan cheese into sour cream. Spread over fish. Top with bread crumbs and dot with remaining 3 tsps. butter. Bake, uncovered, in 350 degree oven 30 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve with lemon slices, if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

After I picked up more flounder in Costco I discovered that a local store carries the 2 pound bags of flounder for a couple of dollars less than Costco. I'll know for next time.

Flounder is really easy to prepare and my husband hasn't complained about it yet so I'm going to keep making it. This was a bit different than the other flounder recipes I've made. I liked it but I would cut back on the paprika next time. It didn't ruin the dish for me but I thought it was a bit overpowering.

Blast From The Past: Celery-Stuffed Flounder from August. This was one of my favorite flounder recipes.

Question of the Day: When did you last eat fish and what type of fish was it?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

It's hard to screw up meatballs
--Turkey Cacciatore Meatballs

Turkey Cacciatore Meatballs
Mr. Food Every Day’s A Holiday Diabetic Cookbook
Copyright 2002

1 pound ground turkey breast
½ cup Italian-flavored bread crumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ of a medium-sized green bell pepper, finely chopped
½ of a medium-sized onion, finely chopped
1 jar (28 ounces) light spaghetti sauce, divided
2 eggs
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup olive oil

1. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, bell pepper, onion, ¼ cup spaghetti sauce, the eggs, garlic powder, oregano, and black pepper. With clean hands, combine the mixture until thoroughly mixed. Form into 24 meatballs; set aside.
2. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Place the meatballs in the pot a few at a time and brown for 2 to 3 minutes, gently turning to brown on all sides.
3. Drain off excess liquid and add the remaining sauce to the pot; reduce the heat to low; cover, and simmer for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.

I don't really ever get tired of meatballs. One nice thing about turkey meatballs is you don't have to cook them for a really, really long time so I put these together the night before but I didn't have to cook them until the next evening when we ate them.

I don't usually put green peppers in my meatballs because they can be overpowering, but since I expected the green peppers to be prominent, they worked here. They really tasted like 'cacciatore'.

I used buccatini or whatever that spaghetti with the hole in the middle is called. It's hard to eat! It's much messier than spaghetti since it doesn't curl around a fork as easily. Thank God I was wearing my husband's shirt while I was eating.

This was a library book. I prefer it to the Mr. Food book I own. It has a lot of promising recipes in it.

Blast From The Past: Cinnamony Apple Streusel Bars from December 2006. I have a surplus of graham crackers and apples - maybe I'll make these again.

Question of the Day: How do you eat spaghetti or
other long pasta? Do you cut it? Do you swirl it
around a fork? Do you use the fork-spoon combo?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Holly comes through again
--Dijon Glazed Carrots

Dijon Glazed Carrots
The New Holly Clegg Trim & Terrific Cookbook Copyright 2002, 2006

1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon margarine
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
¼ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon ground ginger

Steam the carrots in water until crisp-tender, about 10 minutes, or cook in the microwave. Drain the cooking liquid.

In a small saucepan, combine the margarine, mustard, honey, pepper and ginger over low heat, stirring until just combined and the margarine is melted. Pour the sauce over the carrots, toss gently to coat, and serve.

I've been looking for something different to do with carrots. I wasn't sure if I was going to like mustard with carrots but I really did. This was a nice change of pace although either the white pepper or ground ginger had a hint of bitterness. I think next time I might try just 1/8 teaspoon of those two ingredients.

I've been in a rut with some ingredients lately. Vegetables in general have been giving me the most trouble. You would think there would be endless possibilities with vegetables, and they're probably are, but I just can't think of those endless possibilities. It can be frustrating looking for veggie recipes because not a lot is in season right now. Well, not as much as a month or two ago.

Blast From The Past: Orange-Honey Glazed Carrots from January 2007. Those are really good but I don't usually have an orange lying around.

Question of the Day: What fresh veggies are you enjoying the most right now?

Monday, November 05, 2007


Don’t Eat Your Heart Out Cookbook Copyright 1982, 1987

1 cup enriched white flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup oatmeal
2 teaspoons baking soda
Dash salt
½ cup wheat germ
1 cup raisins
1 egg or ¼ cup egg substitute I used an egg
½ cup safflower oil I used canola oil
1 cup skim milk
¼ cup honey
I added a few teaspoons of cinnamon

In a large bowl combine flour, oatmeal, baking soda, salt, wheat germ, raisins and egg. In a separate bowl combine oil, milk and honey; add to flour mixture. Blend with a wooden spoon. Pour into paper-lined muffin cups. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

This isn't the first time I ruined a recipe using stale wheat germ but I won't make that mistake again (well, I certainly won't admit it if I'm dumb enough to do it again). I just wanted a basic, healthy muffin and these would have fit the bill perfectly if not for the rancid wheat germ.

I added cinnamon in an attempt to mask the off-taste and also because I bought a huge thing of cinnamon a while back with plans to add it more foods (it's supposed to be good for regulating blood sugar). This seemed like a good time to put that plan into action.

Oh well, that was all the cooking I did this weekend too. I wouldn't have posted this if I didn't have to!

I fell off the cookbook wagon big time this weekend. Friday, I stepped out for a sandwich at lunchtime and walking past the book store I saw that everything was 50% off. They lost their lease. Now, even at 50% off hardcover cookbooks aren't cheap so I only bought what I had my eye on already (a kid's cookbook and a Williams-Sonoma book that was already marked down).

That evening I hit auction and I got a pile of books. He had good stuff this week and he told me he's getting someone's entire cookbook collection and I should come back in two weeks when he has the rest (what I was buying was just part of it). I wish I could take that day off because he has at least one other cookbook customer who comes earlier in the day. Oh well, there seems to always be plenty left for me.

A cookbook I ordered online came Friday too.

I am just too tired to find a Blast From The Past or think up a Question of the Day. I attended one of those My Gym parties with my son and it was exhausting. You would think I was the one running around. (I've been posting each days post the night before, if you haven't noticed).

Friday, November 02, 2007

Not like mom made but still good
--Marinated Cube Steaks

Marinated Cube Steaks
The New York Times Menu Cook Book Copyright 1966

6 cube steaks
½ cup salad oil
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 scallions, finely chopped I omitted this
1 cup (one 8-ounce can) tomato sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
½ teaspoon salt

1. Place the steaks in a shallow baking dish. Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the steaks. Marinate for at least three hours (I marinated these all days about 9 hours), turning once.
2. Cook on a grill over charcoal or under the broiler for five to ten minutes until cooked to desired degree of doneness.

I think this is first time I've had cube steaks any other way besides pan-fried, on buttered toast. That's the way we ate them when I was growing up. I would definitely make this recipe again, when I can find cube steaks on sale. It was fast and flavorful.

Grocery shopping wasn't as depressing this week. There were some good sales. That seems to happen close to the holidays. It seemed weird seeing all of the Thanksgiving items out but it is only three weeks away. Damn! I haven't given any thoughts to pies yet. I'd better work on that this weekend.

Blast From The Past: Quick Tamale Casserole from October 2006. Another good recipe that I almost forgot about.

Question of the Day: Where are you spending Thanksgiving this year?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Better than I expected
--Purist Chili

Purist Chili
301 Venison Recipes The Ultimate Deer Hunter’s Cookbook Copyright 1992

2 pounds ground venison
4 strips bacon, chopped I used turkey bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
Finely slivered peel of 1 orange I omitted this - I just forgot to get an orange
1-2 tablespoons chili powder I used 2T
2 tablespoons ground cumin I only used 1 tablespoon
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup beef broth
2 teaspoons hot paprika I used regular paprika
3 canned jalapeño peppers, finely chopped I used frozen (1)

Sauté the bacon in a 2 quart enamel saucepan until crisp. Add the onion, garlic and orange peel. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add the meat and cook until light brown in color, about 4 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling; reduce the heat. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until chili has thickened, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Serves 4.

I thought I was going to have to actually skip a post. This week has been busy with more Halloween activities and I have very little weekday evening time as it is. But I think I can squeeze in this post if I make this short.

I was thinking this might be a disappointment when I made this chili the night before we ate it. However, mixed with some Dreamfield pasta and a shredded cheese blend (provolone, mozzarella and cheddar, I think), this was surprisingly good. I usually like my chili with a tomato base and that probably would have made this even better but it was still quite good without it. If I hadn't made it myself I'm not sure I would have known this was venison.

I had a lot leftover and I think I'll use some of it for tacos on the weekend sometime. It reminds me a lot of taco meat, probably from all of that cumin (and I only used half of what the recipe called for).

I've been finding some good recipes in this cookbook but there is no index. That bugs the heck out of me.

Oh yes, since I completely forgot about the September Cookbook Giveaway, I'll give anyone who hasn't already signed up one more day to do so and then I'll pick a winner. After that I'll probably give it a break until I find another good cookbook to giveaway. It may just turn into a once and a while thing.

Today I'll skip the Blast From The Past.

Question of the Day: How do you like to eat chili? Straight? With pasta? With rice? With crackers? Any other way?