Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sad news on the eve of such a joyous occasion

Here I am expecting my second child any minute and I received some very sad information.

He's leaving me.

My Cookbook Guy is leaving me.

He travels quite a distance to peddle his wares at this market and it's just not worth it anymore, with the price of gas being what it is. He used to ride with 'the honey lady' but she doesn't come anymore.

Not only that but he had nothing last night. Nothing.

It's the end of an era. It's probably for the best since I'm out of room and I didn't have the strength to stop myself. Now I can take some time to appreciate the books I've purchased over the past year. I was accumulating them faster than I could use them.

I left the auction empty-handed last night. I didn't need any produce and the guy who sells the candy my son likes (Sour Patch Kids) was MIA (it had rained pretty hard earlier and he has an outdoor stall). It was a depressing evening at the auction.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thank you!

I wanted to thank the ladies that posted positive birth stories for me in the comment section when I requested them the other day. I really did feel better after reading them. I'm probably slightly less terrified than I was before LOL.

I still have a couple more days (hopefully!) so if anyone else has a positive birth story, I'd love to hear it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Comfort Food
--Tuna Casserole

Tuna Casserole
Pillsbury Complete Cook Book Copyright 2000, 2006

1 (7-oz) pkg ( 1 ½ cups) uncooked elbow macaroni I used Smart Taste and probably a bit more than 7-oz
1 cup milk I forgot this!
4 oz (1 cup) shredded Cheddar cheese I used Cabot's 50% Light Cheddar
1 ( 10 ¾ -oz) can condensed cream of mushroom soup I used the lower-sodium version
1 (6-oz.) can tuna, drained, flaked I used 2 cans
1 (4-oz) can mushroom pieces and stems, drained
2 tablespoons chopped pimientos, if desired I omitted these
2 teaspoons instant minced onion I only had about 1/4 teaspoon left so I added some onion powder
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ cup potato chips

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2-quart casserole. Cook macaroni in large saucepan or Dutch oven to desired doneness as directed on package. Drain, return to saucepan.
2. Add all remaining ingredients except potato chips to cooked macaroni, stir to combine. Pour mixture into greased casserole; sprinkle with potato chips.
3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 35 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Yield:6 (1 ¼-cup) servings Per serving: 330 cal, 13g fat, 30mg chol, 660mg sodium, 35g carbs, 2g fiber, 18g protein

I decided that making this recipe was as easy an any alternative I could come up with so you get one more recipe this week. Tonight I'm making (frozen) burgers on the grill to serve with purchased macaroni salad.

This was good but I forgot the milk. I knew something wasn't right but I somehow missed it. It didn't ruin the dish. It wasn't as creamy and probably slightly saltier than it would have been with the addition of the milk but it was still okay. I think I prefer tuna casserole made with egg noodles.

It was weird making my grocery list for next week since I didn't have to plan any meals for next week.

Well, that might be all you hear from me for a while or it might not. We'll see.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Still cooking
--Maple-Glazed Pork Chops

Maple-Glazed Pork Chops
Pillsbury Complete Cook Book Copyright 2000, 2006

Pork Chops:
4 pork chops
¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon coarse ground pepper

Maple Glaze:
¾ cup pure maple syrup or maple-flavored syrup (I had to use both - more fake than real)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1. Heat grill. Rub both sides of pork chops with salt and pepper. In small saucepan, combine all glaze ingredients; mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Set aside.
2. When ready to grill, place pork chops on gas grill over medium heat or on charcoal grill 4 to 5 inches from medium coals. Cook 15 minutes, turning once.
3. Brush pork chops with glaze. Cook an additional 10 minutes or until no longer pink, turning once and brushing frequently with glaze. Bring any remaining glaze to a boil; serve with pork chops.

I used smaller boneless loin chops so my cooking time was less than described above.

Yields: 4 servings. Per serving: 370 cal, 8g fat, 50mg chol, 430 mg sodium, 54 g carbs, 20 g protein

I had originally planned a pork chop and gravy recipe but it seemed more like a grilled pork chop kind of night. Unfortunately I didn't have enough pure maple syrup to make this and had to use mostly pancake syrup which is fine on pancakes and waffles but really an entire different animal than pure maple syrup and I'd prefer not to use it in recipes like this.

These weren't bad but the sauce lacked the oomph the would have made them really special. I really think it was the fake syrup that messed it up. It's sweeter and has a heavier maple flavor that pure maple syrup. The tang from the other ingredients would have shone through a bit more with the real deal.

Yeah, I'm still cooking. I opted to skip the gym last night instead. I'm really looking forward to my vacation from the gym.

I'm still nervous too. If you have a positive (i.e. nontraumatic) birth story to share with me, I'd love to hear it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

No cheese!
--Mom’s Skillet Goulash

Mom’s Skillet Goulash
Pillsbury Complete Cook Book Copyright 2000, 2006

8 oz. 2 ½ cups uncooked rotini I used Smart Taste and added more pasta
1 lb. ground beef I used 1 1/2 pounds
1½ cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
2 (14.5 or 16 –oz.) cans whole tomatoes, undrained, cut up
1 (10 ¾ oz.) can condensed tomato soup I used the lower-sodium version
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

1. Cook rotini to desired doneness as directed on package. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, in large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine ground beef, celery and onions. Cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until beef is thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently. Drain.
3. Add cooked rotini and all remaining ingredients; mix well. Cook 10 to 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally.

Yields 6 1 1/3 cup servings. Per serving: 370 cal, 12g fat, 45mg chol, 750 mg sodium, 45g carbs, 4g fiber, 20g protein

Goulash (the non-Hungarian variety) is a typical dish in this area yet not one that I have personal experience with. Sure, I've eaten and made many similar dishes but I usually add cheese, which isn't usually included in hamburger goulash. We probably eat way more cheese than we should so this was a nice change and it went over well. I only had a larger portion of ground beef in the freezer so I added an entire box of pasta and I was able to stick a nice portion in the freezer, along with putting aside a smaller portion for lunch today.

I might not blog everyday this week. I'm running out of steam. I had recipes planned but I'm just too preoccupied with thoughts of how this having a baby thing ends. Ignorance was bliss the first time around.

Yesterday Randi asked if I had ever posted a picture of all my cookbooks. I did, about 1 1/2 -2 years ago:

But, that was then, before I discovered my cookbook guy - I have an entire other bookshelf filled now and then some. I'll have to get more pictures.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Keeping it brief this week
--Apple Coffee Cake

Apple Coffee Cake
101 More Things To Do With A Cake Mix Copyright 2004

1 yellow cake mix, divided I used butter recipe yellow
1 cup flour
1 envelope (.25 oz) or 2 ¼ tsp. active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
2 large eggs
1 can (21 ounces) apple pie filling I used a jar which was slightly larger - 25 oz I think
1/3 cup butter or margarine I used butter

Glaze: I skipped the glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together 1 ½ cups cake mix, flour, and yeast in a bowl. Add warm water, stirring until smooth. Stir in eggs. Spread batter evenly into greased 9x13-inch pan. Spoon pie filling evenly over batter. In separate bowl, cut butter into remaining cake mix with fork until crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over pie filling. Bake 25-30 minutes or until light golden brown on top. Allow cake to cool.

Combine powdered sugar and milk. Drizzle over cake.

I had a box of cake mix in the cupboard that my mother-in-law gave to me out of the blue once. I've been thinking about using it for something so when I saw this cookbook in Costco, I grabbed it. I didn't even realize it wasn't the original 101 Things To Do With A Cake Mix until I was typing up the recipe.

I thought it was really good. It still tasted like boxed cake mix but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. The yeast gave it a little lift but I wonder if letting the batter set and rise a bit might make it even fluffier.

I skipped the glaze, mostly out of laziness but it certainly doesn't need the added sweetness. It would be nice for the appearance though. The topping was a bit uneven - gooey in places, browned nicely in others, still looking like raw cake mix in some areas. I had trouble knowing when this was done and I think I overbaked it but it was very forgiving.

That's it. A week from now, they're going to try to coax this baby out of me so this is my last week before all heck break loose in my life - if I make it that long! I've no time to look up Blast From the Pasts or think up Questions of the Day. I'll take questions, if you got them (but nothing too taxing on the brain please).

Auction goodies June 20, 2008

Bummer week. My Cookbook Guy was MIA. Oh well, I grabbed a head of iceberg ($1), some celery ($1.50) and 6 ears of corn ($2). I brought my son along and bought him a ridiculously priced triple push-up lollipop ($1.60 I think! - not everything's a bargain at the auction). He got pushed out of the way by some older kids while he was trying to pick something out (as their mother just watched on) so I just grabbed something for him. He immediately got knocked into by some other people and dropped it, losing one of the three pops but we just moved on. It wasn't a great night at the auction but it's like yard saling - you just never know when you're going to score.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Short and simple
--Barbecue Hamburger Steaks

Barbecue Hamburger Steaks
Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook Copyright 2000

1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
½ cup milk
1 cup soft bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. vinegar
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup ketchup

1. Combine beef, salt, pepper, milk and bread crumbs. Mix well. Form into patties. Brown is saucepan and drain.
2. Combine brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup in slow cooker. Add ground beef patties, pushing them down into the sauce, so that each one is well covered.
3. Cover. Cook on Low 4-6 hours.

Makes 4 servings.

I know, this recipe is nothing knew around here. It's very similar to another favorite - Sweet-Sour Meatballs. We happen to like this kind of recipe and more importantly, I usually have all of the ingredients on hand to make something like this.

That's it today. I'm tired. I have way too many things to get done. TGIF! Have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Well, I loved these
--Chicken and Sun-Dried-Tomato Meatballs

Chicken and Sun-Dried-Tomato Meatballs
Food & Wine An Entire Year of Recipes 2004 Copyright 2004

4 oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves, drained and blotted dry
2 garlic cloves
1 large jalapeño—halved, seeded and coarsely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 pound ground chicken breast
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon fat-free milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, for dusting
One 14 1/2-ounce can peeled whole tomatoes with their juices
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

In a food processor, pulse the sun-dried tomatoes, 1 garlic clove, half of the jalapeño, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper until finely chopped. Add the bread crumbs and pulse to combine. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the chicken, egg and milk. Using lightly moistened hands, roll the mixture into 20 meatballs, a scant 1 1/2 tablespoons each. (Mine were larger.) Dust the meatballs lightly with flour, tapping off any excess.

Wipe out the food processor and add the remaining garlic clove and jalapeño half; pulse until chopped. Add the tomatoes and their juices and the oregano and process until smooth.

In a 9-inch cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the meatballs and cook over moderate heat, turning, until golden but not quite cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the tomato sauce to the skillet and simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Return the meatballs to the skillet and simmer, turning, until just cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a bowl, sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

SERVE WITH: Pasta or crusty bread.

Serves 4. Per serving 290 calories, 10.4 gm total fat, 1.8 gm saturated fat, 16 gm carb.

I thought these meatballs were great. They had a slightly different flavor than your average Italian meatball, yet they weren't too 'out there'. There wasn't a lot of sauce (enough for serving with bread or on rolls but I'd probably double it for serving it with pasta again).

I was all set to say that I would definitely make these again (and I still probably will) but while cleaning up, I found 3 meatballs and pasta in the trash. My husband said he couldn't finish it. This is believable I guess - the man cannot judge portions. He just loads up a plate, toppling with food, and sits down and eats what he can. How, after 36 years old, can you not judge portions? There is always a large pool of ketchup or barbecue sauce left on his plate.

Of course, the man has never shopped for his own groceries and has no concept of what anything costs. Yes, I was quite PO'd - that was an entire serving of food (for a normal person). He only left me two meatballs for my lunch and there were three in the trash???

I'm going to have to cut this short. I have way too much real work to do today.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

--Shredded Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

Shredded Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches
Weber’s Real Grilling Copyright 2005

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup minced yellow onion
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 6 ounces each
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 large sandwich rolls

1. To make the sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining sauce ingredients. Stir and cook for 3 minutes.
2. Lightly brush or spray the chicken on both sides with oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill over direct medium heat until the meat is firm to the touch and no longer pink in the center, 8 to 12 minutes, turning once. Remove from the grill and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes. Shred the chicken, add to the sauce, and heat through over medium heat.
3. Grill the rolls over direct heat until lightly toasted, 30 to 60 seconds. Build each sandwich with a roll and some shredded chicken.

Makes 4 servings.

I was trying to keep things simple this week. The other night, I grilled the pork and onions for yesterday's recipe and I grilled the chicken for this recipe. I did it all on the Griddler and it had to take turns but I only had to wash the grill plates once!

So last night I just needed to make the sauce for this and that was it. Okay, it would have been even easier to use a bottled sauce but then what would I blog about?

This was good - lemony, not smokey. Nothing to knock your socks off or anything but I can't say anything bad about it. There were leftovers that should freeze well.

I lose steam as the week goes on. I don't know what I should plan for next week. I need to find the simplest recipes that I can.

Blast From The Past: Baked Flounder with Fresh Lemon Pepper from July 2007. Fish would be quick and simple but I just haven't been in a fish mood.

Question of the Day: Do you often cook ahead, fill the oven, etc. to get a head start on future meals or do you take it one day at a time?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cuban quesadillas
--Pork Quesadillas

Pork Quesadillas
Everyday Food Great Food Fast Copyright 2007

1 large garlic clove
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for grates
1 pork tenderloin, (3/4 to 1 pound)
1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 (10-inch or burrito-size) flour tortillas I used multi-grain tortillas
4 tablespoons spicy brown mustard, plus more for serving
6 ounces thinly sliced baked ham
3 to 4 dill pickles, thinly sliced lengthwise
8 ounces provolone or Swiss cheese, coarsely shredded (about 2 cups) I used slices of Provolone

Use garlic and salt to make a paste. In a small bowl, combine with 1/4 teaspoon pepper and the oil. Rub all over pork.

Heat grill to high; oil grates. Place pork on hottest part of grill; cover. Cook, turning occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part registers 155 degrees. 10 to 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes; thinly slice across the grain.

Meanwhile, place onion slices on cooler part of grill; cover. Cook, turning once, until soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce grill to medium-low.

Spread 1 tablespoon mustard on each tortilla, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Dividing evenly, layer half of each tortilla with ham, pork, onion, pickles, and cheese. Fold tortillas; press to close.

Lightly oil grates. Place quesadillas on grill; cover. Cook, turning once, until browned in spots and cheese has melted, about 4 minutes. Cut into wedges; serve immediately.

I had a small piece of pork tenderloin in the freezer, leftover from something else and not large enough to make a meal out of it, so this recipe caught my eye. Pork quesadilla is really a misnomer - this is really more like a grilled Cuban.

I grilled the pork and onion the night before I made this. I just used the Griddler, which was probably easier than trying to grill the onions on the gas grill outside (put them on a skewer first, if you use the outdoor grill).

It was the grilled onion that really made this recipe for me. My taste buds must be starting to turn around this week. Everything tastes better to me.

Blast From The Past: Grilled Cuban Sandwiches from June 2006. A much simpler grilled Cuban - definitely not as flavorful as this one.

Question of the Day: Any guesses as to when I'll have this baby? It's due July 3rd but I'm not sure I'll last that long. (I absolutely won't go any later due to my age.)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Oh yeah
--Five-Grain Cinnamon Bread

Five-Grain Cinnamon Bread
The Only Bake Sale Cookbook You’ll Ever Need Copyright 2008

½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup rye flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon I used 1 tsp since my applesauce was plain
½ cup rolled oats I used mostly old-fashioned oats with some quick oats
½ cup oat bran
½ cup golden raisins I only had regular raisins
3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 cup honey
1 cup sweetened cinnamon applesauce I used plain applesauce
½ cup low-fat milk

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9x5x2 ½-inch loaf pan with baking spray.
2. Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a large bowl. Add the oats, oat bran, and raisins and stir to incorporate thoroughly. Whisk together the egg whites, honey, applesauce, and milk in a small bowl until well mixed. Add the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring until just moist. Do not overmix.
3. Spoon the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove from the pan to cool completely before slicing.

Makes 1 loaf (10 to 12 slices).

I checked this book out of the library on Saturday and I was perusing it for a recipe to make to bring to work. However, this recipe caught my eye, even though I didn't think it would appeal to the guys at work, it appealed to me. I knew I had everything to make it. I haven't been using up my grains as fast as I should be so the chance to use up some of my rye flour and oat bran was something I couldn't pass up. It uses a lot of honey but I buy the large jug from Costco. Honey is (if there have been no drastic changes) one of those items I can get at Costco for much, much less than the grocery store. Last time I purchased it, the 5 pound jug was under $8.

You know that nothing has been wowing me lately but this wowed me. Sliced and spread with a bit of light butter, it was just so moist and delicious. I don't think I could have stopped myself from consuming quite a bit of this if I didn't have gestational diabetes. You can really taste the honey which I liked even though I'm really not a huge fan of the straight out flavor of honey. I wouldn't want to lose that flavor but I wonder if I could do half honey, half agave nectar.

I don't know if this would be a big bake sale item though. I never would have looked at it and thought it would be so good. People might buy it because it sounds healthy and then they'll be pleasantly surprised that it's delicious too.

Blast From The Past: Oatmeal Raisin Pancakes with Cinnamon Sour Cream from February 2008. The flavors in this bread reminded me of those pancakes.

Question of the Day: Would something like this catch your eye at a bake sale?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Auction goodies 6/13/2008

Sara at I Like To Cook has a great feature where she shows us what she buys at the farmer's market every weekend. That's such a great idea that I decided to steal it!

This is what I bought at 'auction' this week. I know the term auction is confusing but I can't bring myself to call our local farmer's market a farmer's market because everyone around here just calls it 'the auction' since there is an auction going on in a back room during the market.

My cookbook guy had a dry week. He had nothing new, just some stuff I've passed over several times already. He actually gave me that book for free since he's had it for several weeks and couldn't unload it. It's a bit hoity-toity for me but after I got it home, I saw that it had several savory crepe recipes in the back and those are definitely on my to-make list someday. Total so far: $0.

Then I picked up the produce I needed for the week. Red onion, parsley and lemon ($2.10 for all) and 1/2 dozen sweet corn ($2). Nothing was local but it was cheaper than the grocery stores. I think the corn is probably from a zone away or so, I'm really not sure. It's a bit early for local corn, I think, but we've been eating corn for a few weeks and it's not bad - certainly not at it's peak but not bad. Total so far: $4.10.

Then I grabbed up two large canisters of Powerball dishwasher tabs for the dishwasher, 85 count each. Yes, there is much more than just produce at the auction. These go for $18.88 each on Amazon. I paid $13 for both! That will run my dishwasher for about 1/2 of a year (we run it almost everyday) and you don't need to buy separate Jet-Dry with these. I might buy more next week if he has any left but I'm sure that once these are gone, they're gone. The same stuff doesn't fall off the truck every week. (Just kidding - I hope!)

Total for this week's trip: $17.10.

No good cookbooks this week but my coworker brought me a bag of them earlier that day so I had my fix.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Last post of the week
--Potato Chip-Crusted Chicken

Potato Chip-Crusted Chicken
The Most Decadent Diet Ever! Copyright 2008

Two 3-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, visible fat removed
1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
Olive oil spray
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne
1 ½ ounces (about ½ cup) finely crushed Baked! Ruffles Potato Chips

Place the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper on a flat work surface. Use the flat side of a meat mallet to pound them to an even ½-inch thickness. Put the chicken breasts in a resealable plastic bag that is slightly larger than the breasts. Pour the buttermilk over the breasts, seal the bag, then turn the bag to coat. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight, rotating once or twice.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly mist a small nonstick baking sheet with spray. Mix the onion powder, paprika, black pepper, salt and cayenne in a small bowl. Put the chips in a medium shallow bowl. Remove one chicken breast from the buttermilk and let any excess buttermilk drip off. Sprinkle both sides of the breast evenly with half of the seasoning mixture. Then transfer the breast to the bowl of crushed chips and cover completely with the chips.

Place the coated breast on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken breast. Discard any remaining marinade. Lightly mist the top of both breasts with spray. Bake for 4 minutes and then carefully flip the breasts with a spatula, being sure not to remove the coating. Lightly mist the tops with spray and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until the coating is crispy and the chicken is no longer pink inside. Serve immediately.

It was slightly less oppressive last night so I turned on the oven and made this chicken. It was good but nothing incredibly special - that's my mantra these days I think. A women in her ninth month of pregnancy should not be reviewing recipes.

I won't be posting tomorrow. I changed my mind about the recipe I was going to make (too much work for my current energy level). I didn't have time to come up with an alternative so I'm going to take the day off from trying a new recipe.

I came into work this morning and there was a cookbook on my desk! That brightened my day (especially after I overslept and woke up 20 minutes after we were supposed to leave the house!) The coworker who gave it to me said he might have more too. His wife must be de-cluttering.

Blast From the Past: Sweet-Sour Meatballs from November 2005. I think that's what I'm going to make tonight. I wonder if I could fit them in the toaster oven. The only problem was that I was going to make these meatballs this morning so I just had to throw them in the oven but as you can imagine, that didn't get done.

Question of the Day: Do you ever oversleep? I actually think I forgot to set my alarm but I'm so neurotic, I find that hard to believe (I set it, then check it two or three times).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Avoiding the heat
--Barbecued Chicken and Mushroom Patties

Barbecued Chicken and Mushroom Patties
Quick Cooking Copyright 2001

1 lb ground chicken meat
½ cup dried breadcrumbs
1 medium onion, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped parsley I used some dried parsley
½ cup finely chopped mushrooms
Vegetable oil

1. Place ground chicken meat in a large bowl and add remaining ingredients except oil. Mix well to combine ingredients, then knead a little with one hand to make the meat fine in texture. With wet hands, shape into 4 or 5 flat patties.
2. Heat barbecue or grill to medium-high. Spray grill bars or rack with a little oil and place on the patties. Cook for 8 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Patties are cooked when juices run clear after being pricked with a skewer.

I picked up some ground chicken on sale last Thursday and then on Friday I bought this rather generic cookbook from my cookbook guy at the 'auction'. I saw this recipe and thought 'perfect!' since I was a recipe short for the week. I picked up a couple of mushrooms and that was all I needed.

This wasn't supposed to be last night's dinner but it was too hot to turn on the oven (required by my original plan for dinner) or to stand over the grill outside (plan B) so I made these on the Griddler since the Griddler is great for things like this, and I roasted some potato cubes in the toaster oven and cooked some sweet corn on the stove top.

These came out nicely. The onion and mushrooms kept the patties moist and they had good flavor, not too 'meatloaf-ish'. My husband felt compelled to tell me that he really liked these. I've just been in one of those moods where nothing really wows me so it was good to get some unsolicited feedback that I can pass along. He ate his on buns with Lord knows what else poured and piled on them but still, he doesn't comment very often so it might mean something.

These were economical too. I think I paid $1.79/pound for the chicken and the vegetables and bread crumbs stretched it out quite a bit. I got 5 good-sized patties. I could have stretched it out to 6 easily.

Blast From The Past: Chicken Patties on Croissants from January 2008. My husband seemed to like those a lot too. I really should look into more recipes for ground chicken patties.

Question of the Day: How often do you get feedback on your cooking?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Something practical
--Sausage-Beef Spaghetti Sauce

Sausage-Beef Spaghetti Sauce
Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook Copyright 2000

1 lb ground beef
1 lb Italian sausage, sliced
2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
¾ can (28-ounce tomato can) water
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. or more parsley
2 Tbsp. dried oregano
2 12-ounce cans tomato paste
2 12-ounc cans tomato puree

1. Brown ground beef and sausage in skillet. Drain. Transfer to a large slow cooker.
2. Add crushed tomatoes, water, garlic powder, pepper, parsley, and oregano.
3. Cover. Cook on HIGH 30 minutes. Add tomato paste and tomato puree. Cook on LOW 6 hours.

This recipe isn't all that interesting but it made a HUGE amount, so now I have sauce in the freezer for when after the baby comes.

It was good, nothing special but a good basic recipe that hit the spot. It was heavy on the oregano which I thought might bother me at first but it didn't.

I'm too exhausted to form any more coherent thoughts today. I think I set the record for getting up to pee last night.

Blast From The Past: Mini Cocoa Swirl Cheesecakes from October 2007. I should make those again since they're relatively low in carbs.

Question of the Day: Did you get a good night's sleep last night?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Not quite what I wanted
--Cottage Cakes

Cottage Cakes
Best Recipes From American Country Inns and Bed & Breakfasts Copyright 2004

1 cup cottage cheese
4 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
½ cup all-purpose flour

Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and butter together. Fold in flour. Bake on pancake griddle, using medium-high heat. Serve with Vermont maple syrup and apricot sauce.

Yields 2 to 4 servings.

I've been wanting pancakes but not the carbs. I thought these might satisfy my craving but they weren't as pancake-like as I had hoped. They were more like scrambled eggs or french toast without the bread, if that makes any sense.

I'm probably partially to blame - I only made a quarter of the recipe and I was too lazy to get out my electric griddle. The pan I used wasn't the best choice. I only ended up with one 'cake' and the rest was sort of a blob. I topped the mess with some sugar-free strawberry jam. Wasn't all that bad, actually.

I saw the most bizarre thing ever this weekend. Paula Deen made a brunch sandwich using donuts (Krispy Kreme I think) for the bun and filled it with a burger, fried egg and bacon. She didn't even split the donut and use half as the top bun and half as the bottom - she used a full donut on the top and the bottom! Insanity.

Blast From The Past: Sour Cream-Bran Muffins from June 2006. I want to make these again and see if they're as good as I remember.

Question of the Day: Have you ever stayed at a Bed and Breakfast?

Friday, June 06, 2008

A lazy meal
--Cube Steaks with Hasty-Tasty Sauce

Cube Steaks with Hasty-Tasty Sauce
The Good Housekeeping Cookbook Copyright 1963

Buy (don't steal or borrow!) 4 small cube steaks (about 1 lb.). Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and 3 tablespoon flour. In 3 tablespoons hot fat (I sprayed the pan with olive oil spray) in skillet, brown steaks quickly on both sides. Remove.

To fat left in skillet, add 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire, 3 tablespoons chili sauce or ketchup and 2 tablespoon lemon juice. Heat till boiling, stirring. (Mine wasn't really 'saucy' since I didn't use 3 tbs. of fat.) Spoon over steaks. Serve at once.

Makes 4 servings.

It was hot and muggy yesterday. I was glad I had something so simple on the menu. Well, I was going to do something with some potatoes and I was going to make carrots but I just decided to heat up some frozen french fries and use up the leftover cole slaw and pasta salad that was in the fridge and then there's always regular salad if anyone wants it. I admit that it feels good to be lazy sometimes.

I just started buying cube steaks after having them quite often while growing up and then completely forgetting about them for several years. (Well, I think I did buy them every once and a while when I was single.) We only ate them one way when I was growing up - on buttered toast. I'm still not sure if there is an improved use, but this recipe was satisfying and, as I mentioned, simple. Simple is worth a lot these days.

The sauce had a tang from the lemon juice which was nice. If I had used the amount of 'hot fat' the recipe called for, it would have been mellower but I just used cooking spray. I wonder if this is where grandma would have pulled out her stash of bacon grease.

This is a nice, comprehensive old cookbook. It's got over 800 pages and lots of good recipes. Not bad for $3. I wonder if my cookbook guy will have anything for me tonight.

Blast From The Past: Marinated Cube Steaks from November 2007. That's another good cube steak recipe.

Question of the Day: Did your grandmother or anyone else you know keep a can of fat around? (I don't really know if my grandmothers did or not.)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Since I have nothing else to tell you about...

I usually have trouble finding the time for memes but Carla at Chocolate Moosey sent me one last night, which was quite timely since I had nothing to blog about today.

What were you doing 10 years ago?
1998: I was in training for my new job as a computer programmer, living in a hotel Mon-Fri each week.

What are five (non-work) things on my to-do list for today:
*Make dinner.
*Buy groceries.
*Make pizza dough for tomorrow night.
*Drive along with my husband to return his dad's vehicle that he borrowed this week. (although I really don't have time since it's grocery night!)

Five snacks you enjoy? (Keep in mind, I have gestational diabetes right now)
1. high fiber toast with sugar-free jam and light butter
2. cheese
3. sugar-free candy (chocolate, not hard candy)
4. strawberries
5. refrigerator pickles

Five things you would do if you were a billionaire
1. Donate money to good causes.
2. Buy a bigger house, with a cookbook library.
3. Trade in my car for something nicer.
4. Travel.
5. Buy more clothes.

Places you have lived (approximately):
*Scranton, PA
*Philadelphia, PA
*Harrisburg, PA

Jobs you have had:
*Waitress (catering)
*Insurance Adjuster
*Computer Programmer

I'm not going to tag anyone since I know what kind of pressure that puts on people and I think this meme has travelled around quite a bit already.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

My first steak
--Savory Sirloin Steak

Savory Sirloin Steak
Char-Broil Grill Lovers Cookbook Copyright 1985

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs. minced onion
2 tbs. lemon juice
2 tbs. oil
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. instant minced garlic
1 (3 lb) sirloin steak
2 tbs. steak sauce
2 tbs. butter, melted
1 tbs. chopped parsley
1 tsp. Worcestershire

Combine first 6 ingredients. Pour into a heavy plastic bag and add steak. Marinate in refrigerator 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally. Remove steaks from marinade about 1 hour before grilling. Drain. Place on grill over hot fire. Grill about 8 to 12 minutes on each side, or to desired degree of doneness. Combine remaining ingredients and spoon over steak before serving. Slice steak in thin diagonal slices.

Sirloin was my introduction to steak, I believe. It's one of the cheaper cuts you can get away with broiling or grilling. We never saw NY Strip on the table when I was growing up, being a middle-class family of six. Sirloin steak was a special treat, usually a Sunday dinner. I thought this steak was as good as any NY Strip I've made at home. Nostalgia maybe?

I don't think my mom ever marinated her steak but it added a nice touch. We never had steak sauce growing up either (we were condiment deprived) but I really liked the steak sauce mellowed out with the butter here. Ketchup would still be good (that was how I ate it growing up).

This really hit the spot. I bought the steak on a buy one get one free sale so I have another one in the freezer. Something to look forward to.

I may not have anything to blog about tomorrow. Just bad planning on my part this week.

Blast From The Past: Marinated Flank Steak from May 2007. I've used that marinade several times and it's great but this one has a more traditional flavor.

Question of the Day: Did you eat steak very often for dinner when you were growing up?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

No complaints
--Ground Chicken Tacos

Ground Chicken Tacos
The Best Chicken Recipes Copyright 2008

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, minced
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pound ground chicken
½ cup plain tomato sauce
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
Ground black pepper
8-12 store-bought taco shells, warmed

1. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2. Add the chicken and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until almost cooked through but still slightly pink, about 2 minutes.
3. Stir in the tomato sauce, vinegar and sugar and simmer over medium-low heat until thickened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the filling evenly among the taco shells and serve, passing desired accompaniments separately.

I got this book from the library. I do like this 'Best Recipe' series from Cook's Illustrated but I find the books sort of boring. I prefer America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.

I've made Beef Tacos from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, which is about the same recipe with cumin, coriander and cayenne pepper added (and some broth which is a good idea - this mixture was kind of dry). I'm not sure why they left them out of this recipe but knowing CI, they probably had their reasons. These were definitely a milder tasting taco but there were no complaints and no leftovers.

Blast From The Past: Easy Tacos from November 2006. Another variation. Gosh, that was a long time ago. I don't make tacos often enough. I think I'll have to add them to the easy-peasy list for after the baby comes.

Question of the Day: Do you make tacos at home? Do you load them all at once with at least the meat or do you have everyone make their own?

Monday, June 02, 2008

Deja vu again
--Blueberry Crumble Cake

Blueberry Crumble Cake
Reader’s Digest Cakes Copyright 2003

½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut up

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup milk
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 13x9-inch baking pan.

Crumble: Stir together the flour, sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Cake: Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixture at medium speed until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until just blended after each addition. With mixer at low speed, gradually beat in the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk. Stir in the blueberries. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the crumble. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a rack.

I had some blueberries to use up but not a lot of time to go searching for a recipe. I wanted something besides a muffin or cake but I just didn't have the time to find something 'different'.

When I was saving this one to my computer, I noticed a file for Blueberry Buckle. I don't even remember making that but it's basically the same recipe as this one. This one has more butter and eggs and a bit less streusel. Oh well, at least I didn't make the same exact recipe again. I've done that before.

What can I say - this is a good basic blueberry crumb cake. Nothing fancy but there's absolutely nothing wrong about it either. I love blueberries baked into things, even better than eating them fresh (that might have something to do with the blueberries I have access to). I bought these for my son to eat fresh with his lunch but he didn't want them so hence the cake.

Blast From The Past: Blueberry-Lemon Bundt Cake from July 2006. That was a pretty good cake too but I prefer a crumb cake.

Question of the Day: Is Blogger giving you trouble today? I'll be lucky if this post actually posts, I think.