Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I think I'll take the entire week off

Everything seems to be okay for the moment but I've had a few nights of interrupted sleep. Well, I've had about 6 months of interrupted sleep but these past two nights I've had a bit more interruptions than usual.

Everyone is well for the moment but I'm STRESSED OUT worrying about everyone being healthy for Thanksgiving. I'm only on the hook for pies and mashed potatoes but I really don't want to miss it. I even get to make the pumpkin pies this year (usually my mom makes those).

I'll also be making the best Butterscotch Pie (my brother's favorite).

Every year the Haagen Daaz ice cream I use in that pie goes on sale right before Thanksgiving, 2 for $5 the past few years but it was 2 for $6 this year.

I will also try another new chocolate pie recipe. I still haven't found anything close to the perfect chocolate pie. And there will be one more experimental pie. I'll report on those after the holiday.

Monday, November 24, 2008

No new material today

My weekend started with my 45 minute commute taking 3 1/2 hours. It ended with a sick child. There will be no recipe posted today. Sorry.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Ground Chicken Recipes

I don't see a lot of ground (minced) chicken recipes in my cookbooks, compared to other ground meats. It can be used in place of ground turkey or even ground beef but it does have a different flavor. I thought I'd do a round-up so that anyone looking for ground chicken recipes here can find them all in one place.

I can honestly say that not one of the ground chicken recipes that I've tried has been a disappointment. In fact, most, if not all, of them have been better than average. These aren't my best ground chicken recipes or my favorite ground chicken recipes, they're all my ground chicken recipes because they've all been good - no lie.

Here they are:

Chicken Cakes with Teriyaki Sauce

Cranberry Meatloaf

Spicy Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Chicken Chili

Ground Chicken Gumbo

Savory Apple-Chicken Sausage:

Spanakopita Chicken Meatballs with Spicy Cucumber Yogurt Sauce:

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs:

Cheesy Chicken-Noodle Casserole:

Chicken and Basil Calzones:

Italian Sweet Chicken Sausage Patties with Peppers and Onions from Rachael Ray:

Cacciatore Burgers from Rachael Ray:

Buffalo Chicken- Blue Cheese Meat Loaf:

Herbed Chicken Meat Loaf:

Chicken-Cheese Burgers:

Sloppy Hot Wing Joes from Rachael Ray:

Lo Mein with Stir-Fry Vegetables

Quick Baked Chicken

Chicken and Sun-Dried-Tomato Meatballs

Barbecued Chicken and Mushroom Patties

Ground Chicken Tacos

Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells (I used ground chicken)

Chicken Patties on Croissants:

Hawaiian Chicken Burgers

Russian-Style Chicken Cutlets

Chicken Wonton Soup:

BBQ Chicken Burgers Topped with Honey Slaw:

BBQ Sloppy Chicken Pan Pizza:

Weekly recap

Once again I did not get around to making every recipe that I had planned on making this week. I don't have a new recipe for you today but here's the weekly recap:

Sunday: I made another Sunday dinner - pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes, corn and biscuits. For supper we had American Meatball Soup.

Monday: Smart Taste Rotini with sausage and cheese. I used loose Italian sausage and the rest of the crushed tomatoes I had leftover from the American Meatball Soup. I had mozzarella cheese leftover from making pizza last week.

Tuesday: Cheesesteak sandwiches and french fries. (They weren't the good kind of meat I like to make cheesesteaks with but they were buy one get one free!)

Wednesday: Lo Mein with Stir-Fry Vegetables and egg rolls.

Thursday: Grilled chicken (marinated in some Italian dressing and cooked on the Griddler), buttered rice and green beans.

Salad was available every day.

Tonight is pizza. I've been using the 1 1/2 pound dough recipe and last night I made it with 1 cup of white whole wheat flour and 2 cups AP flour. We'll see how that goes. My oven is back. I installed the new element last night. Now let's hope my range lasts at least until my oldest boy is out of daycare in the fall.

I'm going to post a round-up of my ground chicken recipes since it seems like people are looking for them based on my stats. I'll do that separately from this post.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Shh! Another recipe that's not from a cookbook
--Lo Mein with Stir-Fry Vegetables

Lo Mein with Stir-Fry Vegetables
Another new addition to the Ugly Binder, from Good Housekeeping Magazine

8 ounce(s) linguine or spaghetti I used Smart Taste spaghetti
2 tablespoon(s) vegetable oil
1 pound(s) ground chicken I used ground chicken patties, I just broke them up as they cooked
1 clove(s) garlic, crushed with press
2 green onions, thinly sliced (reserve dark-green tops for garnish)
1 package(s) (10-ounce) sliced white mushrooms
1/2 small head napa cabbage, thinly sliced I used regular green cabbage
1 1/2 cup(s) shredded carrots I used thinly sliced carrots
1/4 cup(s) water
1/4 cup(s) teriyaki sauce I was a little short so I added some soy sauce, dry sherry and a touch of sugar
1 tablespoon(s) grated peeled fresh ginger

Heat large covered saucepot of salted water to boiling on high. Add linguine and cook as label directs.
Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil on medium-high until hot. Add chicken and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink throughout, stirring occasionally. With slotted spoon, transfer chicken to bowl.
To drippings in skillet, add garlic, light parts of green onions, and remaining oil; cook 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms; cook 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Add cabbage, carrots, and water; cook 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender and cabbage wilts, stirring often.
In cup, stir teriyaki sauce and ginger until combined. Drain linguine well and add with teriyaki mixture and chicken to vegetables in skillet; cook 2 minutes to blend flavors and heat through, gently tossing with tongs. Sprinkle with reserved green onion tops to serve.

I did it a little different. I stir-fried all of the veggies together (I gave the mushrooms a slight head start before I decided to add everything else). After they were stir-fried for a while I added the water and let them cook some more. Then I added back the chicken and added the sauce and let that cook so that the meat and veggies absorbed more flavor. Then I added the spaghetti and let it cook for a few more minutes.

I know, another non-cookbook recipe from the Cookbook Junkie? Am I slipping off the cookbook wagon? I couldn't help it. I saw this in Goodhousekeeping magazine while I was working out at the gym and I came home and looked up the recipe online. I knew I still had a couple of packages of Purdue ground chicken patties in the deep freeze. I picked them up cheap at some point but I don't find many recipes calling specifically for ground chicken. I thought the ground chicken was an improvement over chicken breast in a recipe like this. The patties aren't as lean as chicken breasts but they're more flavorful. They're made from the darker meat. You can get the leaner ground chicken for this, if you wish.

I had just about everything I needed on hand to make this except the mushrooms (which are in there but they seem to be hiding). I knew I didn't have enough teriyaki sauce (I had about 2 tablespoons) and I didn't have time to look up a teriyaki sauce recipe so I just winged it and added a little soy sauce, a little dry sherry and a sprinkle of sugar. There was already garlic and ginger in the recipe.

I'll definitely make this again. It really hit the spot. I even had some egg rolls on hand that I picked up in Wal-Mart a couple of weeks ago, that were just waiting for my next Asian-type meal. I have to think ahead for egg rolls anymore since the closest store stopped carrying them and I don't care that much for the brands my regular grocery store carries. I should have picked some up in Costco.

My oven element arrived yesterday. Tonight I'll install it and hope that I don't have to worry about my oven for at least 3 years (that's how long the last element lasted).

Question of the Day: What Asian-style dishes do you prepare at home, if any? We can't do Chinese anymore due to my son's peanut allergy so I've been trying a lot more Asian-style dishes than I used to. It used to be too easy to go out and grab Chinese food when I craved it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Another round of Use That Ingredient!
--Smoked Paprika Pimiento Cheese

Today's ingredient is smoked paprika:

I can't remember exactly why I purchased this smoked paprika. I believe it was for these ribs. I have used it in a few places, in place of other 'smokey' ingredients that I didn't have or couldn't find (liquid smoke, smoked salt, etc) but I still have quite a bit of it left. When I saw this recipe in a cookbook that I checked out of the library, I immediately knew I had to make it:

Smoked Paprika Pimiento Cheese
Cheater BBQ Copyright 2008

8 ounces sharp white Cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups) I used orange Cheddar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice I used bottled since they were only selling lemons by the bag in the grocery store

COMBINE all the ingredients in a medium bowl using a wooden spoon or a fork. Scoop into a serving bowl or use for open-faced melted cheese sandwiches.

I'm familiar with pimiento cheese. I've seen it in cookbooks, I've seen it on Food Network. I think this is my first time experiencing it. It won't be my last. This is goooooooooood stuff. That bit of smokiness really pushed it over the edge for me. Now, I know it looks very decadent but don't worry, that was whole grain white bread I used LOL.

I did try some of it melted under the broiler, and it was good, but I preferred it not melted. I will make this again, someday. I'm going to have to file this one under 'very dangerous' along with Oat-Fashioned Strawberry Dessert and just about any brownie recipe. I couldn't keep my hands off of this stuff.

This cookbook is written by some 'reformed' BBQ'ers. They used to do it the 'right way' but they got tired of it and started using crockpots, the oven ,etc to duplicate the taste of BBQ without all the fuss. I haven't tried any of their BBQ recipes yet but I'm looking forward to it. I might have to pick up my own copy of this book.

My library always has new cookbooks yet the cookbook section never expands. They must be weeding out some of their cookbooks but I've never seen a cookbook at their book sale. I'm jonesing for a cheap cookbook source. I checked out the local consignment shop again and their prices are ridiculous.

Question of the Day: Do you have a lot of spices or do you manage with just a few? I think I have a bit of a 'problem' with spices as well as cookbooks. I have a cupboard filled to the brim with spices and spice blends. My husband tends to put bottles of cheap spices in my Christmas stocking too. That's how I end up with things like 'Cajun blend'. I admit I hold onto spices longer than I probably should but it's just impossible to use it all within a year or so.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More biscuits
--Basic Biscuits

Basic Biscuits
The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook Copyright 1997, 1998

1 (1/4 ounce) package yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup Crisco solid shortening
2 cups buttermilk I used soured milk (milk + lemon juice)

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Dissolve yeast in warm water; set aside. Mix dry ingredients together. Cut in shortening. Add yeast and buttermilk and mix well. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and roll out to desired thickness. Cut with small biscuit cutter and place on greased baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

I found myself making Sunday dinner again this week. I slathered a pork tenderloin with a bit of Dijon mustard and sprinkled it with salt, pepper and garlic powder and stuck in the new toaster oven. I made mashed potatoes, corn and gravy - same as last week. Then I decided to make biscuits again and chose this recipe. It was definitely a step up from the Fluffy Whole Wheat Biscuits I made last week. The flavor was definitely better and they may not have turned out as well as they could have - I'm getting towards the end of a big bag of Costco yeast. When I buy a new bag, I put some in the refrigerator and the rest in the freezer. I'm reaching the end of my freezer stash so it might not be as fresh as it can be. I also used soured milk instead of buttermilk since I didn't have any buttermilk AND I made these in the toaster oven, which may or may not affect how these baked up, I really don't know for sure. Oh, I also halved the recipe but I don't think that mattered.

So these were really good but were they better than canned biscuits? I don't know. I happen to really like canned biscuits. BUT, I don't make it a habit of keeping them on hand so it's more helpful for me to be able to put a batch of biscuits together with pantry ingredients. I was able to whip these up almost in the same amount of time it takes to pop open that can.

Speaking of Costco yeast, I was in Costco this week and I don't think they had any. I don't recall seeing any yeast as I scoured the baking aisles looking for vanilla, which they didn't have either. Vanilla was one of the best deals at Costco. $6.99 for a 16-ounce bottle and it's really good vanilla (IMHO). I expected the price to go up but I wasn't expecting it to disappear. I'm hoping it was just a fluke as I'm getting to the end of my bottle and it's almost time for holiday baking.

My oven element has shipped! I really hope that I don't have any further issues with my oven, at least until after the holidays.

Question of the Day: Have you purchased vanilla lately? Was it expensive? I'm so out of touch - I haven't bought anything but Costco vanilla in years.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Soup of the week
--American Meatball Soup

American Meatball Soup
Soup Makes the Meal Copyright 2001


¾ cup fine fresh bread crumbs
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¾ pound lean ground beef
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-size onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups beef stock
1 ½ cups canned crush tomatoes in puree
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
You may also cook up to 1/2 cup of small pasta on the side and add. I added alphabet pasta.

1. To make the meatballs, mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan, onion, parsley, garlic and herbs together in a large bowl. Pour the egg over the mixture and mix it together lightly with a fork. Add the ground beef, salt and pepper and mix together with your hands to blend. Form into meatballs 1 to 1 ¼ inches in diameter and place them on a plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
2. Heat the olive oil in a medium-size soup pot or large saucepan over moderate heat. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 9 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
3. Drop the meatballs into the simmering broth. Cook at a gentle simmer until there’s no pink at the center of the meatballs, about 10 to 13 minutes. Serve piping hot, passing Parmesan at the table.

I checked this book out of the library. At first glance, I thought the recipes were sort of foofoo, but upon closer inspection I could see that they weren't that complicated. Most of them wouldn't suit my guys but this one was perfect for them. I was afraid that my son would be turned off by the peppers and I do think I caught him spitting those out but he told me that he liked it and he ate it. I think I would use carrots if I make this again.

This soup had nice flavor and it didn't take very long to put together. I made the meatballs earlier in the day so at dinnertime I just had to do a small bit of chopping and pretty soon we had soup. There were only a couple of cups of it left (and no meatballs - it started out with 25 meatballs!) so I'd say it was a success.

AND, we made it through the weekend without going to McDonald's. Not that my son didn't ask, but we managed to avoid it. This soup costs a lot less to make than a trip to McD's.

Would you believe that my toaster oven died on Friday?! I was cooking pizza in it and I noticed the bottom wasn't getting browned. Then I came back in and it was working full blast and you couldn't get it to do anything less. So I picked up this nice one at Costco on Saturday. I only paid $40. It's really nice and bigger than my old one. I can fit small casserole dishes and small baking pans in this one. I'm missing my oven a lot less but hopefully my new element will be here by the end of the week.

Question of the Day: Do you own a toaster oven? How often do you use it? I never had one until about 8 years ago when my sister gave me one when they upgraded. Now, we'd never go without one. It gets used quite a bit.

Friday, November 14, 2008

--Tomato Soup Spaghetti Sauce

Tomato Soup Spaghetti Sauce
A new addition to the Ugly Binder, from the internet

1 pound hamburger I used ground turkey
1 medium onion
2 cans tomato soup I used the 25% less sodium variety
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/2 cup water; (up to 1 cup)

Cook hamburger and onion until meat is done. Add everything else but water - combine. Add water until slightly thinner than you want sauce and simmer until desired thickness. Serve.

Last night we were supposed to have a new recipe, Unstuffed Cabbage, which required over an hour in the oven but, well, I have no oven right now. I thought about making it in the crockpot but I didn't have that kind of time. (I won't leave my crockpot on while I'm at work - I'm gone too long.)

So I took out the ground turkey that recipe called for and I did what I rarely do - I searched the internet for a recipe that used the turkey and the tomato soup that the recipe also called for. I had a box of Smart Taste spaghetti in the cupboard and in the past I've made pasta recipes that used tomato soup with good results so I was zeroing in on a pasta sauce recipe.

I found this and I have to say that I was very pleased. I would definitely make this again. Tomato soup is comfort food and that comfort comes through, even in this sauce. The soup is basically thickened tomato purée that is a little bit sweet but the vinegar cuts the sweetness just enough. I loved this with the ground turkey. I'm a big fan of the turkey-tomato sauce combination. I'm hoping to score some turkey leftovers on Thanksgiving to make Giada's Turkey Bolognese again.

Here's the weekly recap:

Monday I made Hawaiian Franks.

Tuesday I made Tuna Noodle Casserole.

Wednesday we had bacon cheeseburgers on the grill with french fries cooked in the toaster oven.

Last night we had this sauce with spaghetti.

Tonight, well, here's a funny story. I bought everything I needed to make pizza and even made the dough last night. HELLO! I don't have an oven! Well, I'll be standing in front of the toaster oven all night making small pizzas LOL. If I only had a brain.

I went grocery shopping last night. I spent less than I have in ages since I hadn't planned any meals yet. One new thing that I've noticed my grocery store is doing now is that for some of their sales that are 3 for $5, 6 for $10, etc., you must buy the full amount (all 3, all 6, etc.). Not all of these sales require you to buy all of the items (they love to run the 10 for $10 sales and that would just be ridiculous if you actually had to buy 10 of each product), just some of them, which they note on their weekly circular but I'm not sure if they tell you that in the store. Very confusing and I don't like it.

Speaking of grocery stores, my closest store has finally put in the self check-out machines. They're part of a large chain so it's surprising that it took so long. They were supposed to be building a new, bigger store which is why I thought they weren't bothering but I wonder if that is on hold now, with the economy in the crapper and all. There was something very depressing about seeing those machines in the store.

Question of the Day: Do you like tomato soup?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Simple yet satisfying
--Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna Noodle Casserole
Big Kitchen Instruction Book Copyright 1998

4 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk I used 2% milk
3 dashes Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper
2 (6 ½-ounce) cans albacore tuna, drained and flaked I used 2 6-oz cans
8 ounces uncooked egg noodles I used more, probably about 12 oz
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese I used 8 oz of Cabot's 50% Light Cheddar

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Stir in flour and cook over medium heat until butter begins to turn golden brown. Stir in milk and Tabasco sauce. Cook and stir until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Stir tuna into sauce. Slightly undercook noodles, drain, and stir into tuna. I added about half of the cheese to the noodle mixture. Pour into a greased 2-quart baking dish, sprinkle with cheese, and bake for 30 minutes. I could only broil it since my oven died right before I made this.

Makes 6 servings.

This was a simple tuna casserole. I liked it better than the other version I made. I prefer tuna casserole made with egg noodles like this rather than macaroni noodles. I did add twice as much cheese as it called for since I like some cheese mixed in with the noodles but I probably could have held back a little. The Cabot's Light Cheddar is very flavorful. It was good but very cheesy.

My son didn't go for this. I'm not sure if it was the tuna or the cheese. He's funny about cheese. He doesn't dislike it but he's not exactly crazy about it either. My husband and I enjoyed it just fine. It wasn't very expensive either. I found tuna on the marked down table, 99 cents a can for a name brand, albacore tuna.

I didn't get to bake this since my oven had just bitten the dust right before dinnertime. Everything was cooked and the cheese melted from the heat of the noodles and white sauce so I just broiled it for a bit of color and crunch. The light cheese may be delicious and melts really well but it doesn't brown as well as regular cheese.

I don't know when my oven will be back in action and I'm going to miss it. I've been using it a lot lately.

Question of the Day: How many different ways could you cook dinner besides using your oven? I could use the stovetop, microwave, toaster oven, crockpot, Griddler, gas grill, I could even broil using my oven (only the lower element died), and I could probably cook salmon in the dishwasher LOL but I still miss being able to bake in my oven.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's time to play 'Use That Ingredient!'
--Butterscotch Cake

When I asked about ways to make this blog more interesting (either to myself or to my readers), Randi suggested featuring a new ingredient. That sounded like an expensive proposition (not that is has to be but that was just my gut reaction). I started thinking that I already have several strange or uncommon ingredients that I bought and either barely used or didn't use at all. I don't need any more of those odd ingredients lying around. Well, duh, I'll just try to use the stuff I already have before buying some new things to try.

So today's ingredient is butterscotch flavoring.

It's not a weird ingredient but not one I see a lot of recipes calling for. In fact this cookbook might be the only one I have that calls for it. Several recipes in this cookbook call for it so when I saw it at the Amish store, I grabbed a bottle. That was some time ago and this is the first time I've used it.

Butterscotch Cake
Reader’s Digest Cakes Copyright 2003

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1 ½ cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon butterscotch flavoring or vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup milk
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar, to dust

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Beat the butter, brown sugar, and butterscotch in a large bowl with an electric mixer 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. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. I made a frosting out of butter/confectioners's sugar/milk/butterscotch flavoring.


I LOVED this cake. I grew up on Butterscotch Krimpets and this cake, with a simple butter frosting I made using more of the butterscotch flavoring, reminded me of those snack cakes. I saw that Joe at Culinary in the Country also made a version recently, which I think influenced me to choose this recipe. I don't think this recipe is a clone of the Tastycake product like the King Arthur recipe tries to be but it was probably better. This was a darker, moister cake which would have been just fine with just the dust of confectioners' sugar that the recipe called for but I just can't roll that way - I need frosting. I think the frosting was close to the frosting on a Butterscotch Krimpet.

It's probably wrong of me to be so enamored with a recipe that uses artificial flavoring but if it's wrong, I don't want to be right. I will definitely make this again. I still have lots of butterscotch flavoring left - this recipe hardly made a dent in it.

This will be the last cake you see for a while. My oven bit the dust last night. The lower element died - again. I just replaced it about 3 years ago. I briefly got excited about replacing my range completely since it came with the house and it's old, the knobs are falling off, it's white, it's chipped, etc. But when I looked at the ranges I could afford, my excitement diminished. I want an expensive, fancy range. I think I'll just order a new element for this one. Times are tough. This is the only major appliance that we haven't replaced yet but I don't want to skimp.

Of course, I had planned on using my oven this week so I'm going to have to make some changes to the menu now.

Question of the Day: Do you have Tastycakes where you live?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

--Fluffy Whole Wheat Biscuits

Fluffy Whole Wheat Biscuits
Taste of Home Grandma’s Favorites Copyright 2006

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour I used white whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter
1 cup milk

In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, sugar and salt; mix well. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in milk until just moistened.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface; knead gently 8-10 times. Roll to ¾-in. thickness; cut with a 2 ½-in. biscuit cutter and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm.

Yield: 1 dozen

I'm not sure that I would call these fluffy but that could be my fault. I'm not a talented biscuit maker. I think you pay the price for a little healthiness perhaps. They weren't awful and my husband ate a bunch of them (he sometimes skips biscuits all together when I make them).

These were a last minute addition to Sunday dinner. I made a proper Sunday dinner this week. I don't remember the last time I did that. We eat with my in-laws every other week and I used to make a nice meal at home on the Sundays we didn't go there but eventually that stopped and we started grabbing anything, too often running to McDonald's for a quick lunch when I realize there is nothing else to eat.

I was in the grocery store on Saturday night and I saw whole chickens for 99 cents a pound so I grabbed one and we had roast chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, gravy and these biscuits for Sunday dinner. The nice thing was that I only had to buy the chicken and I already had everything else to make the meal. There was enough leftover chicken for another meal and I made broth with the carcass.

Question of the Day: Do you have a special Sunday meal?

Monday, November 10, 2008

My roots are showing
--Sauerkraut Soup

Sauerkraut Soup

Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook Copyright 2000

1 lb. smoked Polish sausage, cut into ½-inch pieces
5 medium potatoes, cubed I only added 2 or 3
2 large onions, chopped I added half of a very large onion
2 large carrots, cut into ¼-inch slices I added 3 or 4 carrots
42-45 oz. can chicken broth
32-oz. can or bag sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
6-oz. can tomato paste

1. Combine all ingredients in large slow cooker. Stir to combine.
2. Cover. Cook on High 2 hours, and then on Low 6-8 hours.
3. Serve with rye bread.

Both my mother's and father's families come from Poland and my husband's family comes from Russia or close to it so dishes like this are a natural fit for us. We grew up eating this sort of thing.

This makes a lot of soup! Well, I would say it's almost a stew. It's very thick. It filled my crockpot practically to the top, and I held back a bit on the potatoes and onion since I was concerned about not having enough room (and I knew I would be freezing some of it so I didn't want to add a lot of potatoes which don't freeze in soup very well).

I thought this came out perfectly. The kielbasi was extremely tender. The potatoes were just right - not mushy, not hard. I did rinse the sauerkraut briefly but the soup still had a lot of zip. It seemed almost medicinal since we're all fighting coughs and colds here.

I may not have had time to make any major changes around here but I have a few extra days off this week and I did a lot of cooking yesterday so I'm feeling a bit revived anyway.

Question of the Day: Do you like sauerkraut? How often do you eat it?

Friday, November 07, 2008

This wasn't good
--Honey and Garlic Pork Roast

Honey and Garlic Pork Roast
500 3-Ingredient Recipes Copyright 2004

4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup honey
1 boneless center-cut pork roast, about 3 pounds

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine the garlic and honey in a small mixing bowl. Put the pork on a rack in a roasting pan and brush well with the honey mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes per pound, basting every 15 minutes with more of the honey, until a meat thermometer reads 150 degrees F. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes, then carve.

Yield: 6 servings

This looked so nice when I pulled it out of the oven. I had high hopes for it. Unfortunately it had a funky smell. Although this was cooked at a low enough temperature that the garlic and honey on the pork didn't burn, the excess that fell onto the foil beneath it burned and I think that infused the meat with an odd odor that really turned me off. It's a shame - it was a really nice piece of pork and it came out very tender.

Thanks for letting me know that I'm not boring all of you but I'd still like to perk things up around here. I'm still thinking on it.

Now for the weekly recap:

Monday was a freestyled Mexican lasagna (tortillas, cheese, taco-seasoned meat, a drizzle of taco sauce) and corn.

Tuesday was this pork, filling (stuffing, dressing, etc) and leftover corn.

Wednesday was supposed to be a stir-fry or beef fried rice with pot stickers but I ended up making the steak with Chamberlain's Rub again, with buttered rice and green beans. I used the Griddler this time since it was too dark outside to grill. Oh, how I hate this time of year. I'll have to move the grill closer to the light out there. Although, the steak came out great on the Griddler.

Last night I pulled out some meatballs I had frozen and made the sauce from this Meatballs Stroganoff recipe. I didn't use the mushrooms or onions but it wasn't bad and it used ingredients I had on hand. I served it over cavatappi and we had corn too. (I know, what's with all the corn? My son loves corn and would eat if every night if he could.)

Salad was available every night too.

Tonight is ............. take out! Pizza, maybe subs. I'm really in love with homemade pizza again but this week was just too hectic.

This week felt 'off'. I think the time change is having a negative effect on me. Hopefully I'll get used to it soon.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Need to breathe some new life into this old blog

I've got the will to blog, just not the time or energy to do it right. I'm boring myself so I know I must be boring my readers. I'm thinking about making some changes around here, I'm just not sure what yet. I won't change the basic core of the blog, cookbook recipes, but I need to find a way to make this blog more enriching for both myself and my readers. I read a lot of blogs and even the best ones can get stale. It's never been my goal to be the biggest, baddest food blogger out there but I don't want to get tossed to the end of the pile either.

Any thoughts or suggestions for me?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Look what came in the mail!
--Raisin Crumb Bars

Raisin Crumb Bars
Gooseberry Patch Family Favorite Recipes with Sun-Maid Raisins and Dried Fruit Copyright 2005

1-3/4 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup sliced and softened butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional) I didn't use these
1-1/2 cup sour cream I use lite
3 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups Sun-Maid Natural Raisins I used golden raisins

Blend oats, flour, brown sugar, butter and baking soda with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. If desired, blend in nuts. Press 3 cups of mixture into a 13"x9" baking pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and set aside.

Stir sour cream and egg yolks together in a medium saucepan. Add sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt; stir until well combined. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture is the thickness of stirred yogurt, about 10 minutes. Add raisins to sour cream mixture.

Spread over baked crust and sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes until topping is golden. Cool before cutting into bars.

A few weeks ago I started musing about free recipe pamphlets and whether or not companies were still making these. I set out on an internet search and I found a few offers for them. It's so fun to come home and find recipes in my mail! This recipe is from one of two Sun-Maid pamplets I requested and received. They have a partnership with Gooseberry Patch.

I run hot and cold with raisins. I like raisins yet I'm usually not in the mood for anything with raisins. I prefer chocolate chips in my oatmeal cookies. I prefer my mom's rice pudding (it's a custard, really) without the raisins. I'd rather have carrot cake and pumpkin cake without raisins. Every once and a while though, a raisin recipe catches my eye and this one did just that.

I had a little trouble with these. My crumb was too dry. I should have worked the butter in a bit more. I knew I had too much crumb left for the top but I piled it all on and hoped for the best. There was a lot of loose crumb on these. That didn't affect the taste but it made them sort of messy to cut and eat. I thought these were delicious - like an oatmeal cookie with a gooey center. They were quite sweet. Using regular raisins instead of the golden ones might cut down a little bit on the sweetness but I'm not sure if that would make any difference. I used golden raisins because that happened to be what I had on hand. These were even better the second day after the raisins softened up even more.

I was worried that the lite sour cream might not work in the recipe so I went out and bought regular. Well, I tried. I came home with another container of lite sour cream! I remember reaching for the regular so I have no idea how that happened but it worked out fine.

Question of the Day: Are you getting less junk mail? I've noticed a decrease. They seem to have given up on the credit offers or at least cut back quite a bit.

Monday, November 03, 2008

This week's soup
--Chicken-Corn Soup

Chicken-Corn Soup
Better Homes and Gardens Heritage Cook Book Copyright 1975

1 5- to 6-pound ready to eat stewing chicken, cut up I used four huge whole chicken legs (4-5lbs)
6 cups water
½ cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
6 ears fresh corn (or 1 16-ounce can cream-style corn)I used 1 8-oz can cream-style corn and 1 8-ounce can whole kernel corn
1 ½ cups uncooked Homemade Noodles I added the whole batch, about 3 cups
1 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons snipped parsley I only had dried so I added a sprinkle of that

In a large kettle, combine the chicken, water, onion, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, till chicken is tender, about 2 hours. Meanwhile, with sharp knife, make cuts down center of corn kernels in each row of the ears. Cut corn off and scrape the cob. (Should be equal to 2 cups of corn.) Remove the chicken from the broth; cool and remove meat from bones. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces. Set aside. Skim excess fat from broth. (I made the broth the day before, chilled it, and removed all of the fat.) Discard bay leaf. Bring the broth to a boil. Add corn, the Homemade Noodles, celery, and parsley. Simmer, covered, till corn and noodles are barely done, about 8 minutes. Add cooked chicken and heat through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 8 servings.

Chicken-corn soup is the big soup in this area. It's usually made with dough balls or rivels (smaller pieces of dough) but I think I prefer the noodles. They usually add chopped hard-boiled eggs too but I don't think they add all that much to the soup. I've made chicken-corn soup plenty of times but this is the first time I followed a recipe. It turned out excellent. It had very good flavor.

I didn't realize this only used a half-batch of noodles so since I made an entire batch, I added all of them. That made for a thicker soup but that's how I like it. I goofed up and added the chicken back before boiling the noodles and the chicken got roughed up a bit too much and some of the pieces fell apart.

Of course, after having practically winter weather all last week, when I made this soup this weekend the weather had warmed up again. Luckily it didn't get too warm (did I just say that?)

Soup has been going over rather well for Sunday dinner. It's relatively inexpensive too. I used about $4 worth of chicken and the rest of the ingredients were inexpensive. I had a couple of lunches left over too. This made a lot of soup but my husband can pack away a lot of soup so other people might end up with more than just a couple of lunches left over.

The time change is really messing me up.

Question of the Day: What do you like in chicken soup - noodles (what shape?), dough balls, rivels, rice? I'll take anything made out of 'dough' over rice. Oooh, growing up, capelettis (little hat-shaped stuffed pastas) in chicken soup were a huge treat.