Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blueberry Heaven

I posted this on my other blog, but just had to put it up here as well.

Here's a recipe for THE MOST DELICIOUS BLUEBERRY MUFFINS EVER! I am not kidding. FABULOUS! I am confident that I will be gaining a couple pounds over the next few days because of the remaining 10 muffins that are in my kitchen. I made them for Braelyn and me, but she decided she didn't like the warm, fresh blueberries that were oozing with flavor and deliciousness, and I'm not sure I am willing to share with anybody I will be FORCED to eat the rest by myself. I feel convicted that these muffins cannot go to waste and are worth the extra pounds. Anyways, my dear friend, and former apartment tenant, Erica, gave me this cookbook, Cooking with Marie. Marie is the genius that put this blueberry muffin recipe in her cookbook. Enough gabbing...let's get to it:

2 cups flour (I used half white half wheat)
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 large egg
1 cup sugar
4 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup sour cream (I think this is where the magic is)
2 T fat-free milk (cause we're watchin' our calories ;)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 12-cup muffin pan with butter or cooking spary.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt. Add blueberries and toss until coated.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg. Add sugar, butter, sour cream and milk. Whisk until combined. Fold into dry ingredients. until just combined. Do not over mix.

Spoon into muffin cups. I filled mine pretty much to the top. Bake for 25-30 mins. Let cool for a second and then dive into blueberry heaven! Enjoy!
Happy New Year!

New Year's Hoppin' John and Skillet Cornbread

My mother is superstitious. She is a Christian but, she is superstitious. (Sorry Mom, its true!) I have been brainwashed all my life that if I don't eat black eyed peas on New Year's Day, the year will not go well...rather it will not be a 'good' year. I guess you could add even more horrible thoughts to just what might happen if you skip on even just one spoonful of black eyed peas on New Year's Day. So, just so you will not be caught without is my recipe from memory which I plan to make tomorrow if I manage to get out to the grocery store for black eyed peas......oh yeah, I have to don't I Mom?!

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 whole white diced onion
3-4 stalks chopped celery
fresh parsley
veggie bouillon or chicken bouillon
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 pounds fresh black eyed peas (plentiful in the grocery stores right now)

Saute the onions and celery in the oil until clear or tender. Add the bouillon to water per directions (better yet, use your own stock!) You want this to be like soup and not like stew. Bring to simmer (this may be about 10-12 cups of water with bouillon added) Once simmering, add peas and then cook on simmer for about an hour or so until peas are tender and flavors blend. Add the fresh minced parsley and, salt and pepper to taste towards the end of cook time.

Skillet Cornbread

Set oven to 450 degrees first.

Medium skillet
coconut or other high heat oil, including bacon drippings if you are a true Southern girl ;-)
3/4 cup fine to medium ground cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups buttermilk (you can sour your own milk with lemon juice by adding 2-3 Tbsps lemon juice to 1 cup milk and let sit for 15 mins. to sour)

With ingredients ready, put oil in cold skillet and place in oven for 10 minutes. Mix cornmeal, salt, baking soda with whisk then, whisk in buttermilk. Immediately, pour into hot skillet. I put the hot skillet, with an oven gloved pair of hands, on the oven door, then pour in mix, then lift with both hands carefully back onto middle rack of oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Place on table on top of a trivet/hot pad. (tell little ones NOT TO TOUCH)

Serve Hoppin' John in bowls and the cornbread with butter along side. Yum! Thanks Mom! By the way, Mom is a lot of fun, so we forgive her superstitions. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bread and Butter Pudding

This recipe is from Earth to Table, Seasonal Recipes from an Organic Farm, by Jeff Crump.  It's a beautiful new cookbook that I picked up.  This is the first thing I've made from it, and it turned out fantastic.

This is the original recipe, which serves at least 12.  Definitely feel free to half it.

1/4 c dried currants
1/4 c dried cherries
(Note: I used a dried mix of raisins, cherries, cranberries and currants.)
16 cups cubed day-old bread, preferably real-butter croissants or brioche
(I used a big package of croissants from the HEB deli)
6 eggs
1 c sugar (I used white, but I bet brown would be tasty, or maple syrup)
3 c cream
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange
1/4 c chopped pecans, toasted
1/4 c maple syrup

 1. Preheat oven to 350.  Place dried fruit in a bowl and cover with hot water; set aside for between 10 minutes and one hour.
2.  Place bread cubes in a shallow baking dish (I used my largest skillet).
3.  In a bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar.  Stir in cream, nutmeg, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, orange zest and orange juice.
4.  Drain dried fruit and sprinkle over bread cubes, along with pecans.  Pour in egg mixture, pushing bread down into the liquid.  Cover with foil.
5.  Place baking dish in a large roasting pan.  Place in oven and pour in enough hot water to come halfway up sides of dish.  Bake 45 minutes.  Remove foil and bake until golden and puffed, about 15 minutes.  Pour maple syrup over top.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Butternut Squash Pasta

Let's face it. I am busy. I am still working on two little boys Christmas stockings (the TWO sewing machines I own are cranky and I have been trying my luck and patience and minute skills to whip one of them into to shape to do some simple but sturdy applique'...again, note to self, start Christmas crafting much earlier next year) ...not to mention the laundry piles and our dishwasher is temporarily out of service so we are hand washing am not cooking as much as I would like to cook.

Boys eating pb&j as I type. I did toss in some french onion dip and carrots. Remember can always serve raw veggies and fruit when you are busy and all the time for that matter. Easy, easy.

This post may not follow blogging etiquette (is there such thing?) at all. At the least, this is not creative or my creation. I am going to link you to another website that I saw a bit on some variety show while I was getting dressed this morning. So go here to get this quick and healthy pasta dish for your table tonight. (The link says Pumpkin Squash Pasta but you could use any good sweet squash in the same family.) It is going on my table tonight. We love butternut squash but Mama needed a quick way to use it. You may already have all of these ingredients in your kitchen right now. Hope this helps during these last days before the birth celebration of our Saviour.

Merry Christmas!
Dinner addendum: I did realize while making this dish that we would want more. I made basic baked chicken breast with bone in (already thawed out in fridge) with olive oil, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning..cover and bake for 45 mins. on 400 degrees. Also, some whole okra sauteed in olive oil with Bragg's Sprinkle and sea salt.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I wanted to make gingerbread men with my little men and I found this recipe in The Living Cookbook (which I love)! I'll put the recipe from the book and then tell you what I did.

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 t ginger
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t cloves
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup honey (I used real maple syrup b/c that's all I had)
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
sesame seeds

Measure flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and cloves onto wax paper. Beat butter, honey and egg in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add molasses, blending thoroughly. Stir in flour mixture. Shape dough between palms of hands, a level tablespoon at a time, into balls. Roll in sesame seeds. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes.

Cheryl's modification:
After mixing all of the ingredients together I rolled out a hand full of dough at a time on the wax paper and used our handy dandy gingerbread man cookie cutter to cut out little men. We also used a star at Jay's request. I put them on a cookie sheet and baked them for 8-10 minutes. They expand. So don't put them too close together. I think I put them about 3/4 inch apart and they were fine. let them cool or a minute or two and serve! They are a soft cookie and really yummy. The boys loved them. We didn't decorate them or even get a picture of them...they didn't last that long. Those cute little gingerbread didn't even stand a chance against my hungry people!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Marie's Easy Slow Cooker Pot Roast

I don't know who Marie is but she makes one tasty pot roast! =) I put the roast in the marinade overnight and John was supposed to put it on to cook the next morning while I was at Traci's for G6 and W3 birthday party. Well, he forgot....
So it marinaded for 2 nights....maybe THAT was the secret! I used a chuck roast from Yonder Way Farm and it was fabulous! I'll stop gabbing on and on and just post the recipe so you can make it for your family! This is great weather for it! it is!

Marie's Easy Slow Cooker Pot Raost
  • 4 pounds chuck roast
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 packet dry onion soup mix (I used Frontier brand organic b/c the other brands have MSG as a main ingredient and it's yucky! Check your local health food store, they can hook you up!)
  • 1 cup water (I used veggie broth - would have used beef but didn't have any)
  • 1/4 c Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cubed (I used a combo of sweet and red potatoes)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  1. Take the chuck roast and season with salt and pepper to taste. Brown on all sides in a large skillet over high heat.
  2. Place in the slow cooker. Place carrots, onion, potatoes and celery on top. Combine soup mix, water/broth, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic in small bowl or measuring cup, mix well and pour over meat and veggies.
  3. Cover and put in refridgerator for a night or two. Cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours. The meat falls off the bone! It's so yummy!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Turkey and Wild Rice Casserole

Use leftover turkey and cranberry sauce for this delicious meal!

Serves 8


6 cups water
Salt to taste
3 cups uncooked wild rice blend
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth, hot
Ground nutmeg to taste
Pepper to taste
2/3 pound yellow squash, grated (with skin and seeds)
1/2 pound cooked turkey, shredded
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs (such as sage, thyme, rosemary or oregano)


Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a 9- x 13-inch casserole dish; set aside.

Bring 6 cups salted water to a boil in a medium pot. Add rice and bay leaves and stir briefly; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked through, about 40 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves; fluff rice with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes more. Whisk in broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper; set sauce aside.

Heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add squash, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes; transfer to a large bowl. Add reserved cooked rice, sauce and squash and toss to combine. Add turkey, cranberries, walnuts, herbs, salt and pepper and toss again, just until combined. Transfer rice mixture to prepared dish and bake until hot throughout and just golden brown on top, 20 to 30 minutes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

t'afia's best cheesecake

This recipe is from Monica Pope, head chef of our favorite restaurant t'afia.  I just asked her for her cheesecake recipe one night at the restaurant, and lo and behold she printed it out and handed it to me.  She even said "sure, no problem" when I asked about blogging it.  She's very cool.  So, here you are.  I had to scale it down to 2/3; she must use a very tall springform pan.

t'afia's best cheesecake

Crust ingredients:
2 cups nuts, usually walnuts, ground
1/2 c butter, melted
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c flour

Cheesecake ingredients:
2 lbs cream cheese
2 cups sugar
3 T cornstarch
4 eggs
2 vanilla beans, scraped

My favorite variation:
substitute up to 1/3 of the cheese with goat cheese (chevre), or any other soft mild cheese

Other variations listed (just ideas, no specific directions):
Lemon-blackberry with pinenut crust; white chocolate with hazelnut crust; mandarin orange with pistachio crust; fig puree with walnut crust.

1.  Press crust ingredients into 8" springform pan.  Wrap pan base in foil.  Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.  It will be lightly colored and puff slightly.

2.  Cream the cheese with sugar and cornstarch, making sure all the cheese gets mixed in by scraping the bottom of the bowl with a spatula periodically.  Add eggs one at a time and vanilla.  Mixture should be very fluffy.  (I've used vanilla extract and it works ok, but the real vanilla is nice and there's no faking the little black flecks.  Quite charming.  If you've never used vanilla bean before:  just cut a slit lengthwise down one side with a paring knife and scrape out all the stuff in the middle.  That's it.)

3.  Bake in a water bath (roasting pan with boiling water to come halfway up the side of the pan) until lightly brown.  A knife will not come out clean, but the mixture on the knife will not be liquidy; it will be gooey.

4.  Cool at room temperature and then refrigerate a few hours before serving.

*This has a very smooth, creamy texture.  If you want it firmer & denser, as some people like my husband prefer, skip the water bath.  Bake it at 500 for 8 minutes, then open the oven door and let the oven cool to 200.  Bake at 200 for an hour, or until the edges are set and the center jiggles like jell-o.  Doesn't need to brown quite as much as the variation above since it's not done cooking yet.  Prop open oven door with a wooden spoon and let it sit there one hour.  Cool at room temperature and then refrigerate.

*Easy strawberry topping:  Puree a few handfuls of strawberries (frozen work fine) in the blender with some lemon juice and sugar to taste.  Or mixed berries.  Or any berry you want.

*Let me know if you tinker with any of the variations!  They all sound delicious.

*The original recipe, before I scaled it down:  Crust unchanged.  3 lbs cheese, 3 c sugar, 5T cornstarch, 6 eggs, 3 vanilla beans.  It felt audacious to modify her recipe, as if I know what I'm doing.  But the original version spills over the top of my pan, so what's a girl to do?

Chicken (or turkey???) Enchiladas

I posted this recipe on my personal blog last year, but I thought it might make a good disguise for leftover turkey.  Keep it in mind this weekend!

 (Don't worry, you don't have to make that many.  That's a quadruple recipe.  Yes, I'm a crazy person.)

Chicken Enchiladas

2T oil
1 onion, chopped
1 lb cooked chicken, diced
2t chili powder
1/2 t cumin
1 can rotel
salt & pepper
2 cans cream of chicken soup
(or cream of whatever. in a pinch i've used cream of celery or cream of cheddar)
1 cup sour cream
1 4 oz can diced green chiles
12 oz grated cheddar
14-16 flour tortillas

1. This time I tried chopping the chicken (gently poached, or buy a rotisserie chicken at the deli) in the food processor. I used the regular 4mm slicing disc and it turned out great! A timesaver, since I was quadrupling the recipe this time. Chop the onion first with the chopping blade and dump it into the skillet, then put on the slicing disk and do the chicken while the onion cooks.

2. Cook the onion in the oil until tender.
3. Add chicken, chili powder, cumin, rotel, and salt and pepper. Simmer 10 minutes.
4. Mix soup, sour cream, green chiles, and 2/3 of the cheese.
5. Put a little bit of soup mixture into 9x13 baking dish (or a bigger lasagna pan, like 10x15, if you have it). Just enough to cover the bottom. This keeps the enchiladas from coming out too dry.

6. Make an assembly line. I don't recommend doing this part at the stove, as in the picture, unless you happen to enjoy cleaning your stove. Do as I say, not as I do.

 7. Spoon 1T of soup mixture onto a tortilla. (If you want to use corn tortillas, you need to heat them to soften.) Don't use too much soup mix or you won't have enough left to go on top. Top with chicken mixture.

8. Roll 'em up. Don't cram too many in a pan or they won't get any sauce. 12 in a 9x13 works well.
9. Top with rest of soup mixture and rest of cheese.
10. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until warm, or refrigerate and bake later.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Beautiful, Yummy and (Shhh...Easy) Dinner

Homestyle Roasted Chicken

1 lemon
2 sprigs rosemary
1 (4- to 5-pound) whole chicken
10 small red potatoes, halved
3 large carrots, cut into large chunks
1 yellow onion, cut in 6 wedges
1 (1/2-pound) yam, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Pierce lemon all over with a fork. Place whole lemon and rosemary sprigs into cavity of chicken. Truss chicken with butchers' twine and place breast-side up in a large roasting pan. Arrange potatoes, carrots, onions, and yams around the chicken. Pour both and wine over chicken and vegetables, then drizzle chicken with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover chicken tightly with foil and roast chicken and vegetables for 30 minutes.

Reduce to 350°F. Remove foil and set aside for later use. Continue to roast chicken, basting periodically, for 1 1/2 hours more. Transfer chicken to a platter and set aside to let rest for 20 minutes. While chicken is resting, cover vegetables with reserved foil and continue to roast for 20 minutes more.

Carve chicken and serve alongside the roasted vegetables, drizzled with pan juices, if you like.

No Knead Dinner Rolls

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm (105 to 115°F) milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour

To get started, make sure that all ingredients are at room temperature. Put whole wheat flour, sugar, salt and yeast into a large bowl and stir well. Add milk, butter and egg and beat with a spoon until smooth. Add all-purpose flour and mix until fully incorporated and batter is smooth. Cover bowl and set aside in a warm spot to let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, lightly grease a 12-muffin tin with olive oil and set aside.

Stir the batter gently to deflate it. Spoon even amounts of the dough into each cup of the prepared muffin tin and set aside in a warm spot until the dough has risen just over the top of the muffin tins, about 1 hour more.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake rolls until golden brown and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Broccoli Salad {{Lynsey}}

I've finally gotten around to posting an actual recipe here. Slacker!

But, I could not keep this recipe all to myself.

I’m addicted to this salad!!!! This is an original concoction of mine and I’m so pleased with how the recipe turned out.

It’s soooooo good. I make it and keep it in the fridge. When I have the urge, I open the door to my wonderfully awesome salad that is waiting to take me to broccoli heaven.

My girls love it too. They could eat broccoli and cauliflower right off the stem so I knew that they would love this salad. But, they REALLY like this salad.

Broccoli is in season right now, so this is perfect timing.

This salad is also super good for you and has nutritious ingredients in it. It was the perfect addition to our roasted chicken and rosemary & balsamic vinegar red potatoes. I had some leftover so the following day, I shredded up the remaining chicken and put it in the salad for lunch. That was delish as well.

I’ve had similar recipes that call for mayo and sugar for the dressing. But, since I’m mayo-a-phobic, that won’t work for me.

Here is the recipe:

Broccoli Salad

3 heads of broccoli cut up into florets
1 cup dried cranberries (or raisins if you don't have cranberries)
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
½ cup raw cashews
¼ cup chopped red onion
1 cup shredded carrot (I peeled a whole carrot into the salad with a peeler)
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
Optional: shredded chicken for added protein (the picture is shown w/ chicken in the salad)

½ cup cold-pressed olive oil
½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
4 T organic maple syrup
3 T whole grain mustard
1 lime squeezed
salt, pepper, onion powder

Cut up and add all of your veggies and nuts. Mix up dressing and whisk together so dressing is mixed well. Pour on top of salad and mix together. Yum!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

sweet potato pancakes

last night i made sweet potatoes for dinner. we had 1 1/2 leftover- so this morning we made sweet potato pancakes. these are light and airy, and very yummy.

here's what we did:

1 1/2 baked sweet potatoes (i'm pretty sure just one large one would work)
2 cups white whole wheat flour (this is NOT white refined flour- it is from the white variety of whold wheat)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
4 eggs
about 2 tsp vanilla
1 can coconut milk
*milk to thin*

put flour into a large bowl

in a food processor, whip up the sweet potatoes and coconut milk. transfer to a bowl and mix in oil, vanilla, cinnamon and eggs (already beaten). add the wet to the dry.

grease up a skillet and go to town. this made up 16 medium size pancakes for us. so i'll be freezing quite a few.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~side note: if you don't have coconut milk try a plain yogurt- that's just what i had on hand. pancakes are forgiving- go with what you have!~~~~~~~~~~

Sunday, November 15, 2009


It doesn't get more basic than this.  A good stock is handy to have in the freezer and is the key to taking a lot of recipes from "OK" to something special. 

Chicken Stock:

Anytime I cook with a whole chicken, I make a stock from whatever is left.  If I butcher it before cooking, I'll save the back and use it raw.  But even if I just roast the whole chicken, it works fine.  Pick off the meat that you can use leftover and use the rest for stock.  If you are buying chicken just for this purpose, sometimes you can find chicken backs for very, very cheap.

1 chicken carcass
1 onion, quartered (don't bother to peel or chop into tiny pieces)
1 carrot, or a handful of baby carrots
1 stalk celery
1 bay leaf
1T crushed garlic
1T sea salt

Cut the chicken up into 1" pieces, chopping the bones with big heavy scissors or a meat cleaver.  It's not the end of the world if you skip this step; it is messy and takes a few minutes.  But the bone marrow is good for you, and more of it will get into your stock if the bones are chopped up.

Put everything in the crock pot, cover with water.  Cook on low overnight.  Let cool and freeze in 1-2 cup amounts.

I usually start this after dinner, getting it started while I'm doing the dishes, and leave it until morning.

If you need it the same day, cook in a stock pot on simmer a couple of hours.  30 minutes will do in an emergency, but longer is better.

Vegetable Stock:
 Don't be afraid to chop into really large chunks.  There's no need to spend all day peeling and dicing.  5 minutes hands-on prep time, max. From the Bittman book again.

1/3 c olive oil
2 onions, quartered
4 carrots, cut into chunks
2 celery stalks, cut into chunks
1 parsnip, cut into chunks (optional)
2 potatoes, quartered
2 T crushed garlic, or 6 cloves
15-20 mushrooms, halved or sliced
Small bunch parsley
2-3 sprigs thyme
1/4 c soy sauce
10 black peppercorns
1/2 c white wine (optional)
salt & pepper

1.  Best method:  Preheat oven to 450.  Coat onion, carrots, celery, parsnip, potatoes, garlic and mushrooms with oil.  Roast until browned, about 45 minutes, stirring once or twice.
2.  Faster method:  Brown same ingredients in a skillet.
3.  Combine roasted vegetables with herbs, soy sauce, peppercorns, wine, salt & pepper and 2 quarts water in a stockpot over high heat.  Put roasting pan on another burner with 1 quart water.  Bring to a boil and scrape up any stuck food bits.  Add to stockpot.
4.  Simmer until vegetables are very soft.  Strain and adjust seasoning.


Risotto has a bad rap for being difficult.  It really isn't.  It's a bit high-maintenance in the stirring department, so I like to do as much prep work ahead of time as possible.  Don't make this along with several other items that need attention during the last 10-15 minutes before serving.  But it's mindless; just stand there stirring frequently.  I can be doing that while I chat with guests or watch the kids color.  Easily made vegetarian; one of my very favorite meatless dishes.  I don't have a lot of vegetarian recipes that feel hearty without lots of cream and cheese.  Risotto definitely feels like "real food," and it's even vegan if you use olive oil and skip the parmesan.  For some reason this feels seasonal and appropriate to me year-round.

This is my basic recipe, combined from recipes in The Best Recipe and Mark Bittman's vegetarian cookbook (which I reviewed here).  This is my favorite combination, but I'll list other versions below.

Risotto with Mushrooms and Asparagus

1/2 c dried porcini mushrooms
5 cups stock, veggie or chicken
Few saffron threads, optional
6 T butter
2 c Arborio rice
salt & pepper
1/2 c white wine
1 c chopped fresh mushrooms
1/2 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces

1/2 c grated Parmesan, plus extra for passing

1.  Rinse the dried mushrooms, soak in hot water to reconstitute.
2.  Warm the stock in a saucepan, keep it over low heat.  Add saffron if using.
3.  Heat 3T butter in dutch oven or nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, cook until soft.
4.  Add rice and some salt, cook until glossy and coated, 2-3 minutes.
5.  Add wine, let bubble away.  Add 3 cups broth.  Drain mushrooms, chop and add to rice along with half of the soaking liquid.  Let simmer.
6.  Meanwhile, saute the fresh mushrooms and asparagus in the other 3T butter over medium-high heat until lightly brown and almost crisp, about 7-10 minutes.
7.  When the stock is almost evaporated, add more, a ladle (1/2 cup or so) at a time.  This is the high maintenance part.  You don't have to stir constantly, but don't leave it for more than a minute.  It will stick quickly.  Start paying close attention about 20 minutes after it started cooking.  You want to taste frequently and catch it when it's "al dente."  It should be tender and creamy but have a tiny bit of firmness in the center.  This will take another 10 minutes or so.  If you use up all of the broth start adding hot water.
8.  Stir in the mushrooms, asparagus, and parmesan.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve immediately, with extra parmesan at the table.

Basic: either chicken or veggie broth, no veggies added
Just mushrooms, no asparagus
Frozen peas:  thaw and add in last 5 minutes
Carrots, beets, potatoes, broccoli, etc.:  Briefly boil until barely tender,  quickly saute in butter, stir in at last minute

breakfast cookies

***the original recipe can be found at i have to say. thank you randi for such a great idea!***

i tried a modified version of these cookies the other morning for breakfast and they were delicious! the kids were so excited about the idea of cookies for breakfast!

breakfast cookies

2 ripe mashed bananas
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup liquid coconut oil

mix together

3/4 cup whole wheat flour (ww pastry flour optimal if you have it on hand)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder

stir into wet ingredients (or just dump it all in the bowl together like i did)

next add
3/4 cup blueberries (i used frozen)
1 - 1/2 cups traditional oats

drop by tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

very easy and very yummy! i think next time i'll add shredded zuc or carrot to up the nutritional factor. i always feel so accomplished when i can get a vegetable in before 9am.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fish-House Style Green Tomato Pickles

Thought some of you might have some green tomatoes and this recipe is good with pinto beans. It will also give you a chance to can something simple.


2 qts. quartered green tomatoes
2 c. chopped onion (might want to use onion rings) 3/4 c. chopped hot peppers (see
2 c. sugar
3 tbsp salt
2 c. vinegar
1 tsp celery seed
Put tomatoes, onions and hot peppers in large pan. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat immediately and put in hot, sterile jars and seal. (I place the lids in warm water and it seems to help with sealing.)

NOTE: For spicy but not hot pickles, reduce hot pepper to half (I used 1/4 c.) or less the amount called for and fill measure with chopped sweet peppers.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pumpkin French Toast

I'm obsessed....seriously, I love pumpkin!

1/4 c flour (I used whole wheat pastry)
3/4 c milk
1/3 c pumpkin (use the rest of the can for pumpkin scones!)
1/8 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon
3 eggs
1 T butter
9 slices of bread

Mix batter. Coat grill with butter. Dip bread into batter. Cook for about 5 mins on each side.
My Little Helper!

It's a thick delicious batter. Sooo good! Top with maple syrup. Here's a trick I just learned to make your expensive, real maple syrup last longer. Oh man, I'm in love!

From Health Begins with Mom
I melt butter in a small saucepan and add the same amount of maple syrup. (So, that may be 1/4 cup of butter and 1/4 cup of maple syrup if I need a 1/2 cup of syrup in the end.) As it heats through, I stir it vigorously until it is completely combined and a pretty light brown color.
Not only do I get to skip buttering the pancakes... who wants to butter that many pancakes anyway? The children get more syrup on their pancakes, but only half of it is maple syrup. And the syrup is wonderfully warm, sweet, and buttery. Yum!

Honeymoon Green Beans

When Christian and I first got married - back before we became homestead-bound dairy farmers - we loved to take honeymoons. I think we took three by our first anniversary. Sigh.

Our third honeymoon was a week in a small backyard apartment on the North Shore of Oahu. We went out for some meals, but I also threw together a few in our little kitchenette. Our favorite one we named honeymoon tofu. Since then I make it more often with green beans in place of the tofu, as you really need the nice, dried (baked) tofu which is hard to find out here in rural Texas. Our green beans are growing like gangbusters, though, and we felt like honeymooners again last night as we tucked into this favorite. This is the first time I ever tried to measure ingredients, you may need to adjust slightly.

Cook a pot of rice and set green beans on the stove to steam.

While they are cooking, mix the honeymoon sauce in a small bowl:
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
a little less than 1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp jelly or jam, any flavor (on the honeymoon it was raspberry, but last night I used blueberry - it doesn't matter)

YOu may need to add a touch more water to smooth it out - just kind of eyeball it.

Top the rice with a portion of beans then spoon the sauce over. This is enough sauce to feed four. You might also try the sauce with cubed chicken - I imagine that would be good.

Hm. I just realize that fully three of my recipes here have been peanut butter based. How weird is that? I guess it must be my secret pantry weapon.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My 'Preventative Healthcare'

Found this little odd bright beautiful orange thing in the squash bin at HEB. Going to steam with Fuji apples and add little wee bit of brown sugar and butter and raw walnuts to go along with roasted chicken and another side veggie dish. Loaded with vitamin A. It is called an organic Kuri squash....I have never seen one before now. Here it goes....will let you know. I love food adventure.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lamb Mafe

We've had some beautiful grassfed lamb in the freezer for about a year now. We got it before I became a frienditarian, so that's why I hadn't really been in a hurry to cook it. ...didn't know what to do with it and wasn't going to eat it. Now that I am eating home and friend-raised animals, I thought it was time to dig out the goods.

Last night I thawed it out and made this recipe I found at

I halved the recipe to work with 1 pound of meat and added cayenne in lieu of the thyme. It was pretty good, but I would make some more tweaks next time - as noted in red in the recipe. Made with one pound of lamb, this feeds 3 adults.


  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 2 pounds lamb stew meat, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (I used crunchy and it was fine. I would use at least twice as much as called for next time - it wasn't peanutty enough for my taste.)
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 4 large carrots, scraped and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme (I used cayenne instead and would probably use fresh chiles next time. I also googled other mafe recipes and saw that some called for garlic and ginger. That would definitely up the yum factor in my opinion.)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Other recipes I saw said you could add other veggies - eggplant seemed the best fit, but butternut was on the list, too. I was going to add okra, but picked my pods too late and they were too tough to use.


Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan, add the onion, and cook over medium heat until it is translucent. Add the meat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until it is lightly browned on all sides.

In a small bowl, mix the peanut butter with the cold water and pour it over the meat. Dilute the tomato paste with the hot water, pour the liquid over the stew, and stir well to make sure all the ingredients are well mixed. Add the remaining ingredients, lower the heat, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour, or until the meat is tender. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Serve hot over white rice.

My husband and our friend who was over for dinner LOVED this. I liked it, but think the tweaks mentioned would make it even better. The recipe says this works with chicken, too.

I served this on rice and our sides were wilted spinach and grilled bread schmeared with fresh chevre. Delicious.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Linguine with zucchini and chickpeas....yum!

This is super easy and super yummy! My family loved it!

Linguine with zucchini and chickpeas

12 oz linguine
2 T olive oil
3 small zucchini, cut into thin half moons
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 t crushed red pepper
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 c of the pasta water, drain, and return pasta to the pot.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini ans 1/2 t salt. Cook, tossing often, until just tender, 4-5 mins. Add the chickpeas, garlic, and red pepper and cook until heated through, 2-3 mins.

Toss the pasta with the reserved pasta water and 1/4 c of Parm. Divide the pasta among bowls and top with zucchini mixture and remaining 1/4 c Parm.


Friday, October 16, 2009

corn bread

it's that time of year. lots of soup, and with that soup, a skillet of corn bread. after lots of experimenting i have come up with a recipe that i love. as my dad would say "it's so good it makes ya wanna slap yo mama". yeah, he really says stuff like that. i should defend him by saying he (like myself) was born and raised in southern louisiana.

mandi's corn bread

1 C organic corn meal (really shoot for organic with any corn products- as it is such a heavily modified crop)
2/3 C whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 C milk
3/4 C plain yogurt (get a nice sour one- like a greek)
1/4 C organic coconut oil
1 T ground flax mixed in 3 T water (or 1 egg)
(i keep a jar of flax seed in the refrigerator and when i need some meal, i grind it up in a coffee grinder. the seed lasts longer than the meal.)

bake in a well seasoned and greased up cast iron skillet on 375' for about 15-20 minutes. that's when i start checking.

i would have taken a picture, but it was gone really fast.

because it's really good.

it's 'slap yo mama' good!

***disclaimer*** i am in no way encouraging slapping your mama - you hear that all you 3 year olds out there?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Favorite Pumpkin Recipes

As soon as the weather turns cool around here, my boys start asking for Pumpkin Muffins. I agree, Cheryl...something about fall makes me need to eat pumpkin.

I can't wait to try the other two pumpkin recipes given on this blog. Here are some of our favs...

Pumpkin Bread

From Michele Smith

3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
1 cup shortening
3 eggs
1 can pumpkin
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon (heaping)
1 tsp. cloves (heaping)
1 tsp. nutmeg (heaping)
1/4 tsp. salt

Mix shortening, eggs and pumpkin in large bowl. In another bowl, mix all dry ingredients. Then add a little at a time to the liquid ingredients until all is mixed well. Put in loaf pan and bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Pumpkin Muffins
From Melodi Henry

2 1/2 c. sugar
8 oz. pkg. of cream cheese
1/2 c. butter
4 eggs
16 oz. can of pumpkin
3 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 c. nuts (opt)

Combine sugar, softened cream cheese, and softened margarine, mixing until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in pumpkin. Add combined dry ingredients, mixing just until moistened. Fold in nuts. Pour into greased and floured muffin pans. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Pumpkin Pie Crunch
From Jenn Bacak

1 can pumpkin
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
3 eggs
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 t pumpkin pie spice
1/2 t salt
yellow cake mix (butter recipe is best)
1 cup chopped pecan bits
1 cup melted butter
Vanilla Cool Whip

Grease a 9 x 13 pan. Combine pumpkin through salt in a large bowl. Pour it into the pan. Pour cake mix over it evenly. Sprinkle pecans on top. Then drizzle the butter over it, and bake at 350 for 50-55. Golden bubbly. Serve with Cool Whip, and I have paired it with the Vanilla Cool Whip, which is a heavenly combination. I think Vanilla Cool Whip was made specifically for this dessert.

Do you have any favorite pumpkin recipes?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Traci's Easy Crockpot Black Bean Soup

This is certainly someone else's recipe that I cannot remember so since the measurements are approximate...I call it mine. ;-) I triple this for leftovers once or twice for a family of four.

1 cup dry black turtle beans
3 1/2 cups filtered water
1 tsp powdered garlic
2 + tsp. sea salt or Real salt
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp dehydrated onion (or saute' fresh onion and toss in..about 1 large or 2 medium or to taste)
1/2 cup cream sherry (with cooking wines/vinegars in grocery store)

Optional Garnishes: shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream with added water to make a little more soupy and pourable, chopped cilantro

Put it together:
In crock pot, place washed beans and water. Simmer on low for 12 - 14 hours. basically, overnight.

Add the next five ingredients for the last hour of cooking. Before serving, stir in cream sherry (add more or less to taste), then garnish and serve. Add margaritas!? Eat....feel good. ;-)

Friday, October 9, 2009

This one is for you Traci!

I am a little late posting my Beef Stew Recipe for you but thought I would anyway. (Lynsey's sounds fabulous!) I first made this when I was pregnant with Jay. It was the first meal that I was able to keep down and really enjoy during my first trimester.

Beef Stew
2 lb beef chuck or stew meat
1/4 c flour
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1 1/2 c beef broth
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
1 t paprika
4 carrots, sliced
3 potatoes, diced
2 onions, chopped (don't think I did that much oinion)
1 stalk celery, sliced

Place meat in crock pot. Mix flour, salt, and pepper and pour over meat; stir to coat meat with flour. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix well. Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours or high for 4-6 hours. Enjoy!

Prudence Pennywise

I must share this other food blog with you. Turn up the volume too...I cook to this blog sometimes. ;-)

I have not made this recipe or any that she writes about but I love her blog!!

I would like to get links to other food blogs from the authors here. If you have one you happen upon or frequent that you feel MUST be shared because the blog or a seasonal recipe is soooooo good to eat or just a plain appealing blog..share it. If I am out of line Brandi, tell me! Share the food love blogosphere I say. Enjoy!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Little Fishy Lunch!

I grew up on fish sticks and hamburger helper and sometimes the convenience and nostalgia of these meals are sometimes hard to pass up! While planning my menu last week I found this recipe and it's just like those fish sticks I grew up, nevermind...these are better!

Oven-fried Fish Sticks

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly oil a baking sheet

Skin and cut salmon into strips/chunks (1 lb of salmon fed my family of 4 easily. I was worried that I didn't buy enough, but it worked out PERFECTLY)

3/4 c whole wheat breadcrumbs
2 T finely chopped parsley
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
Spread this mixture on a plate

Beat one egg in a bowl

Spread 1/2 c whole wheat flour on another plate

Dip each fish slice first into the flour, then into the egg, and finally into the breadcrumbs to coat.

Place fish on a lightly oiled baking tray and cook in the oven for 15 minutes until the fish is cooked.


Our side dish:

Sweet Potato Cakes

1 1/2 lb sweet potato, shredded

1/2 lb potato, shredded

2 t onion powder

1/3 c flour

1 egg

3/4 t ground ginger

1/4 t cinnamon

1/4 pepper

Line baking sheet with foil and grease with olive oil. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until they are moist enough to hold together. Heat 2 T olive oil in skillet over medium -high heat and drop about 1 T of potato mix into the hot pan and flatten with spatula. Cook 2 minutes; flip, flatten, and cook 1 -2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat and place on baking sheet. Repeat process. Keep the cakes warm in oven (about 300) until ready to serve!

I have also solved my "can't get a salad on our plate to save my life becaue I hate making them even though we all love to eat them " problem. I pre-make them and store them in ziplock baggies! I wash and chop lettuce and spinach, chop carrots, cut broccoli, boil eggs and they are ready to pull out and serve! (I don't store the eggs in the baggies though) It's been GREAT! We eat salad for lunch and dinner and loving it! The prep work takes about an hour (?) but worth the investment. This seems so simple but it's been the best thing to happen in my kitchen in a while. =)

Happy Cooking!

Mandi's Leftover Mustard Chicken Quesadillas

I love this meal. Mandi, on this blog, introduced me to her homemade/invented mustard chicken about 1 1/2 years ago or so and to this day, it is one of my favorite meals...I don't get tired of it! Currently, I make it once a week or every ten days or so. However, this post is a leftover meal from her recipe. (Mandi, you may have to post it here!)
What you need:
Whole grain tortillas
Cold leftover mustard chicken
Cheddar cheese
Chopped raw baby spinach
In iron skillet, warm to medium, when warm, place tortilla in, on one half of tortilla - add handful of shredded cheddar cheese, a handful or so of spinach and two 1/4 inch slices of the chicken breast with all the good seasonings and skin on. After the cheese on the bottom layer looks melted, in a few minutes or so, then fold the other empty side over to meet it, half moon style as you see in the photo. Flip with a spatula and allow cheese to melt and insides to warm again for a maybe 10 minutes but do not burn the tortilla. It should just be a little brown with a bit of a crunch on the outside.
My sister gave me some little tartish limes from her own homegrown and loved lime tree and with a little more than a half cup of fresh lime juice and the juice of one orange, I added almost total 4 cups of cold water and three half droppers of liquid Stevia. I like it tart, but this is pretty tart so add another cup of water or so if necessary. YUMMY man! Great lunch. Hope you like! The lime/orangeade is taken from Cathe Olsen's Mixed Fruitade recipe.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

take that blue bell

for a little snack today we made milk shakes.

well...milk shakes, barnard style.

i threw two 10 oz bags of organic frozen fruit into the blender (one strawberry, one peach). i added milk to this, covering the fruit about half way up. then i squirted in some honey.

and of course added some fruit dyed sprinkles.

to this, my precious girl exclaimed "mmm...this is better than blue bell!!!". be still my heart!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I Have a New Favorite Sandwich

While antiquing in Warrenton this Round Top season, a friend and I stopped at the little trailer at Clutters for a bite to eat. I have eaten at this great little spot before, but this time I had the most FABULOUS sandwich, a sandwich I am ready to declare my new favorite.

It is a goat cheese sandwich with tomato and basil. OH MY GOODNESS!

I have since made it at home. Spread a little softened goat cheese (I pop mine in the microwave for about 5 secs. so it will spread) on a slice of hearty whole wheat bread. Top with a tomato slice, some fresh basil, and I put a little fresh spinach on there as well. Then top 'er off with another slice of bread. AMAZING!!!!! I wish I would have taken a picture of my lunch today, but oh'll just have to make it for your self.

Just Planted Some Swiss Chard... soon as it is ready, I will make my very favorite recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. I know it sounds a little weird, but try it before you decide. It is SO yummy. We eat it over rice or cous cous.

African Pineapple Peanut Stew

  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard (4 cups sliced) - (use the stems. the crunch is fabulous)
  • 2 cups undrained canned crushed pineapple (20-ounce can)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter – (I like using crunchy)
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional, but it really brightens he flavor if you have it)
  • salt to taste
  • crushed skinless peanuts
  • chopped scallions

In a covered saucepan, sauté the onions and garlic in the oil for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are lightly browned. While the onions saute’, wash the Swiss chard. Remove and discard the large stems and any blemished leaves. Stack the leaves on a cutting surface and slice crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices.

Add the pineapple and its juice to the onions and bring to a simmer. Stir in the chard, cover, and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring a couple of times, until just tender. Mix in the peanut butter, Tabasco, and cilantro and simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt to taste, and serve.

Most times I don't add extra peanuts, as I use crunchy PB. I also rarely have the cilantro in the season I make this, so I leave it out a lot. No matter what I do, it is always delicious.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dry Erase Freezer Board

Does this count as a product review? This is my meal planner/product review.
Okay, I am a visual person. Usually I like the visual part to be pretty but this is different. The truth is, I have run out of printer ink with all my homeschooling work I guess and the fact that I have an ink jet that is for people who rarely print. (Am I a nerd for printing my meal plan in the first place??) is my dry erase board..the front of my freezer door! You can see the "B" for breakfast, "Prep" for meal prep/thaw type reminders, "L" for lunch and "D" for dinner. The top has the date and seven days of the week marked. It far and is much safer than my original genius plan to "glue" my dry erase board to my freezer..uh, that would have been dangerous. As it is, this is front and center where I need the fridge and near the pantry and kitchen. It does erase well too..however, my fridge is quite old and has marks and dings on it so I am not afraid to play with it like this. Tell me what you think!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Beef and Vegetable Stew?

Maybe this is not what I am to do but here I you have an excellent Crock pot Beef and Veggie stew recipe? My husband loves stew and I want a crock pot meal this week. Can this happen? I know I could go online and search one out but wanted a tested one by friends...that would be better. If you have one, please post. This seems to be a great staple for the Fall season anyway so hope someone on our club has stew on their mind. Thank you and hope to reciprocate!

Thank you for the pumpkin scone recipe and the clotted perfect together!

Saturday, October 3, 2009


These recipes look good; I particularly love scones and thought I'd send the clotted cream recipe - maybe for a Sunday morning treat. You all may be able to get it but I live 100 miles from the nearest Whole Foods.

1 C. heavy cream
1/3 C. sour cream
1 T. confectioners' sugar

Whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form, remove from mixer and had whisk in the sour cream and confectioners' sugar. Store in refrigerator.


The weather is getting cooler and suddenly the only thing that seems appropriate to eat is pumpkin! Here are two of my favorite pumpkin recipes. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Dip

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon frozen orange juice concentrate

In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Gradually mix in the pumpkin. Stir in the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and orange juice until smooth and well blended. Chill and serve with ginger snaps!

Pumpkin Scones

1 T oil or softened unsalted butter
2 T maple syrup or honey
1 egg
1 C mashed pumpkin
1 C whole wheat or barley flour
1 C whole wheat pastry flour
1 T baking powder
1/4 t sea salt
3/4 t pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 425. Lightly oil a small baking sheet. Beat oil or butter, sweetener, and egg together until smooth. Beat in pumpkin until smooth. In separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and stir until just combined. Turn dough onto floured board and knead lightly until dough holds together. Form dough into a ball. Place in center of prepared pan and flatten to a circle about 1 inch high. Cut into 8 wedges but dont seperate them. Bake 15-20 minutes. To test for doneness, insert toothpick in a scone to see if it comes out dry. Transfer to rack to cool.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Quick and Easy Pasta Salad

This is my first time to ever post anything and I am anxious to see how it appears in the blog.
I have really enjoyed looking at the recipes and applaud all of you for using "healthy" recipes (most of the time).

Quick and Easy Cold Pasta Salad

I use Garden Spiral Pasta and while it is cooking place carrot sticks and broccoli florets in boiling water for about 2 minutes. Remove and place in cold water.
1/2 inch slice of deli-ham cut into small cubes.

Mozzarella Cheese cut into small cubes (I used Colby/Jack in this recipe).

1 medium onion chopped.
When pasta is cooked, drain and add olive oil, (or canola oil), cider vinegar, and a few drops of red pepper sauce (all to taste).
I also add some salt and pepper.

This makes a good lunch pasta - one that my husband thinks is great!

Organizing the Family Supper Club

Okay, so have you made any recipes you have seen here? I have made some and have planned to make some others. But, what to do to keep this thing rolling?

I have decided to take an old binder, print out a cover to insert in the front and make a spine insert labeled in a pretty way, The Family Supper Club. This will be my collection of recipes that I have begun to print off of this blog. I love this chronicle of what we are eating while raising our small children, etc. If any are interested, I can save my cover, binder spine design and forward to you to start your own hard copy collection of recipes.

I discovered just now, that I can select the whole post for a recipe, paste in MSWord and then just delete the part that copies of the list of older posts, comments,etc. The part to delete is all at the bottom, so it is easy to select and delete. I save the recipe to the hd in a recipe folder but then wanted to have a hard copy out too for planning and keeping in my Master Meal Planning file maybe?? Hummmm...anyway, just wanted to share my ideas here. Happy baking to all!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dumplings Alfredo, or, My Second Fail this Week

I wanted to try handmade pasta.  I've never done it before.  Jonas had been sick all week, and so I planned to make his favorite, fettuccine alfredo.  I've been curious about homemade pasta for awhile, so I thought I would give it a go.

Um, not so much.

I made them the same size as the dried noodles in the box.  Just a guess.  Who knew they would quadruple in thickness when cooked???

They really looked, and tasted, like dumplings.

Gross dumplings, not good ones.

I also could have titled this post "The Night We Ate Dinner Twice."

We ended up at KFC.  I am not kidding.

The other fail this week was the first time ever that Pioneer Woman has let me down.  Baked Lemon Pasta was barely edible.  The sauce was clumpy (in a curdled sort of way) and bland.  I had made the quick unbaked version she mentions at the beginning of the post before, and it was good.  That version is a keeper.  The baked one with sour cream....not a winner.  How can pasta and sour cream and butter and lemon go so wrong???

You can thank me for not photographing it.

Pasta in a cream sauce, gone wrong twice in one week?  That's gotta be some kind of a record.

Chicken Pot Pie

Who doesn't like chicken pot pie?

This is a fun recipe because you get to do a little of everything: mixing biscuits, sauteing, and baking. And then it finishes in the oven, so I can clean up all of the other pots and pans while the pie bakes, and sit down to dinner with the kitchen already clean. It can be made ahead and baked at the last minute.

This is from The Best Recipe.


1 recipe biscuit topping, to follow
1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts and/or thighs
2 c chicken broth, preferably homemade
1 1/2 T oil
1 onion, chopped fine
3 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
salt & pepper
4T butter
1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c milk
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3 T dry sherry
3/4 frozen green peas, thawed

first, make biscuit topping:

1c all-purpose flour
1c cake flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1 t sugar
1/2 t salt
8 T butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
3/4 c buttermilk

1. Pulse first 6 ingredients in food processor. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with pea-sized lumps. (Note: this is the only time I ever use bleached flour. Lots of southern cooks swear by White Lily flour for biscuits, so here we go. I think they are a little lighter and fluffier.)

2. Transfer to medium bowl, add buttermilk, stir until dough gathers into moist clumps. Transfer to floured surface, roll to 1/2" thick. Punch out 2 1/2-3" rounds. (You should get 7 or 8, maybe some extra small ones from scraps). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Back to the filling:

1. Heat oven to 400. Simmer chicken in broth until done. Set meat aside and save broth. (I started with leftover chicken and skipped this step. I wasn't sure how much 1 1/2 pounds was; I used this amount and it was maybe a bit too much:

3. Increase heat to medium high, heat oil in now-empty pan. Add onions, carrots, and celery; saute until just tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt & pepper. While vegetables cook, shred chicken. Transfer vegetables to bowl with chicken.

4. Heat butter over medium heat in again-empty pan. When foaming subsides, add flour; cook 1 minute. Whisk in broth, milk, and thyme. Bring to a simmer and simmer until thickened, 1 minute. Season to taste with salt & pepper; stir in sherry.

5. Add chicken & vegetables back to sauce, stir to combine. Stir in peas and adjust seasoning.

6. Make ahead option: At this point you may choose to cover and refrigerate overnight. The biscuit dough shouldn't be made that far ahead though. Reheat the filling before topping with the pastry.

7. Pour mixture into 9x13 pan, top with biscuits, bake until biscuits are golden brown and filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Oh, by the way, if you don't have a dough scraper, I highly recommend one. It makes cleaning up a mess like this quick and easy. Pie crust, biscuits, that sort of thing are much less intimidating if the cleanup is simple.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gluten Free Dutch Baby/Pancake (Fruited Breakfast Torte)

Do you want something pretty, impressive and ladylike for breakfast..pull up a stool..this is it!

Several years ago, I ate only gluten free grain if any grain, to rid myself of asthma and worked! Although currently, I don't have to be so strict, I still rotate our whole grains so we don't get sensitive to any particular one..hopefully! So, here is a common breakfast food that I have made twice in the last two weeks and today, I got a helper to illustrate this tutorial. ;-)
Gather these tools:
pie dish
measure cups
cookie sheet
aluminum foil
Preheat oven 425 degrees.
  • 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter melted
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup cow milk or non-dairy milk
  • 2/4 cups + 1/8 cup Bob's Red Mill GF All Purp Baking Mix (mostly garbanzo bean flour) or, whole wheat flour
  • 1/8 cup ground flax meal
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup raw honey (or more to will have to try this out to see how much sweet you want)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 cups thinly sliced fresh fruit OR, 2 cups, drained frozen fruit

Put it together:

Melt butter and pour into pie dish. A big pool of butter is me!

I always get an egg cracker helper wandering through the kitchen who wants to help. ;-) Combine the eggs, milk, flour, flax mean and salt until just blended. I did help him whisk them together, remove the eggs shells in the bowl, clean up the yolky pile of shells, etc.

Pour into the butter in the pie dish..right on top.
Place fruit in a medium size bowl, add the honey and lemon juice to the fruit and tumble until fruit is coated. (Note: Drain juice off frozen fruit first.)
Place the sugared fruit on top of the batter, either at random or in a spoke pattern.
Line cookie sheet with foil for easy spill over clean up. Put dish on sheet and bake for 20 minutes and check for firmness. You want it cooked but not hard. It will get puffy from the baking mix. If you only use flour, it won't get the pretty poof.
Serve with a dollop of plain or vanilla yogurt. This can be served as the main event to 4 or as an addition to sausage or other breakfast meat and would serve maybe 6 adults or more. (scroll back to top for finished torte from last week..this one is still in the oven)
Notes: You can use almost any fruit. We used raspberries for this one. If using apples, please cook on stove a little first to soften, after you have tumbled them in lemon juice and honey.
(Recipe adapted from More From The Gluten-Free Gourmet by Bette Hagman)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Steph's Casserole Experiment

As you know, last week I made a modified version of a Paula Dean chicken and rice casserole. Happy with the result and intrigued by the possibilities, I committed to inventing my own chicken and rice casserole. Tonight, family and friends (I know...risky sharing my first original recipe with friends!) sat around my table and shared Steph's Southwestern Chicken and Rice Casserole. That's the official name.

The ingredients:
3 Cups Shredded or Cubed Cooked Chicken
1 Box Mexican-Style Rice (I used Uncle Ben's) Cooked to directions
1 Medium Onion, Diced and Saute´d in a lil' butter
1 Can Black Beans
1 Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Can Green Chiles
1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
Lil' Sour Cream (I used about 4 oz)
Lil' Cheddar Cheese (Whatever suits your fancy)
Prepare ingredients. Dump it all together. Mix 'er up and pour into a 9x13. (I sprinkled a handful of cheese into the mixture and then sprinkled a little on top...for the hubs, you know ;). Bake for 25ish minutes at 350. Done.

Final Experiment Results: POSITIVE
To be honest, Casey ate the original casserole, but was definitely not encouraging me to make it again. I really liked it, but apparently, I was the only one. But as for Steph's Southwestern Chicken and Rice Casserole, he really enjoyed it and has approved it for regular meal rotation. YEA!

This was so fun and I really loved the final result. I served with salad, chips and homemade guac.

From Steph's kitchen to yurs... better look out, baby!

Turkey Taco Skillet

I love this recipe. Traci made it for me last year when we did a once a week meal swap. I love it because I have done so many variations on this recipe and they are all easy and so good!

1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 1/3 c tomato soup (or 1 can)
1/2 c salsa
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c water
2 c chopped spinach
6 flour or 4 whole grain tortillas cut into 1 in pieces
1/2 c shredded cheese

Cook meat in skillet until done. Pour off fat. Mix soup and sour cream in a bowl. Add this plus salsa, water and tortillas to skillet. Add spinach and boil for 5 mins Stir! Top with cheese.

Variations that I have tried:
Add black or pinto beans
Replace meat with black or pinto beans and rice
Leave out the tortillas and
Eat as a dip with tortilla chips
Soft taco filling
Topping for baked potato

This is simple and yummy meal! Enjoy!

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Pantry Classic: Gallo Pinto

Last night we had our favorite pantry classic, gallo pinto. The national dish of Costa Rica, it is basically just jazzed up black beans and rice. In addition to being insanely easy to make, it is packed with protein and is probably the most inexpensive meal we have ever eaten and loved - even when using the "pricey" option of canned beans and tomatoes. If you start with dried beans I think you could make this for about 10 cents a serving. I shoud rename this "Recession Rice and Beans."

We always top ours with a fried egg. It's just a fact: every dinner is better with a fried egg on top.

Here's the basic mo-jam for my version of Gallo Pinto to serve 4:

Cook 1 cup of rice. (I use white beacuse it's faster and this dinner is usually made on nights when we get in late from barn chores.)

While rice is cooking, sautee in olive oil:

1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped (or, even better, one giant clove of elephant garlic, diced)

When onions have sweat out a bit, add:

1 can black beans, drained well, but not rinsed
1 can Ro-tel, drained

Heat that through, simmer on lowest setting until rice is done. Dump the rice into the bean mix and stir well. Done.

I highly recommend the fried egg on top. You don't need more protein, but most people need a little more fat than what the olive oil provides. I also like to put a little smoked pepper on the egg. Yum.

I totally broke the yolks on the eggs last night, so no photos of this dish today. Maybe when I heat up leftovers, I'll manage to get one.

This is my super-basic pantry version, but in season I also like to chop and add bell peppers and/or use fresh garden tomatoes and chiles. Whatever. Go nuts.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I Found A Winner!

I want to post each week what we actually ate instead of what I planned to eat, since what I plan and what we actually eat rarely end up being the same thing. I need one of those calendar/menu coordinators. I forget you can't be at soccer practice and cooking something complicated at the same time.

Rotisserie chicken, baked potatoes, salad, homemade bread

White Bean and Swiss Chard Soup from the Whole Foods Market Cookbook .

This soup was good…tasted like a fancy soup you’d order at the Olive Garden. It was very strong. The kids were good sports, but I don’t think this recipe will make a comeback in this house.

I roasted garlic in the oven for 30 minutes. Then squeezed it on top of sliced, homemade bread. I topped the bread and garlic with mozzarella cheese, then broiled all that in the oven for a couple minutes till toasty and melted. I liked the bread more than the soup! I learned how to roast garlic in my new cookbook. DELICIOUS.

Gumbo (chicken/sausage kind)

Southwest King Ranch Casserole

This was a winner. It will definitely make it back on the rotation. It’s CRAZY better the second day. Up until the moment I ate it I was expecting it to have some red in it, even though I never put any tomatoes inside. It wasn't was very green...but we liked it.

3 tablespoons canola oil
1.5 cups diced yellow onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups shredded cooked boneless chicken
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 cups bottled tomatillo sauce
8 corn tortillas
1 ½ cups sour cream
½ cup chopped green chilies, drained

I doubled this recipe. It fed us dinner and many lunches.

Preheat oven to 350. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Add the onions, and cook them until they are translucent. Blend in the garlic, paprika, cumin, black pepper, and salt. Add the chicken, and heat through. Remove the pan from the heat; stir in the cilantro.

To prepare casserole…

In a small bowl, combine the cheese.

On the bottom of an 8x81/2 inch pan at least 2 inches deep, spread 1 cup of the tomatillo sauce. Top with 4 tortillas overlapping as necessary. Spread half the sour cream evenly over the tortillas. Add ½ cup of the remaining tomatillo sauce, 1 ½ cups of the chicken filling, 1 cup of the cheese mixture, and one half of the green chilies. Top with 4 more tortillas, the remainder of the sour cream, tomatillo sauce, and the chicken filling, 1 cup of the cheese mixture, and the remaining green chilies. End with 1 cup of the cheese mixture sprinkled on top.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly on the surface.

This was yummier the second day. Also…it was too spicy. So, the next time I make it I’ll use less black pepper. I tasted the other ingredients and really think the heat came from the black pepper. We ate this with tortilla chips.


Chicken, black beans, seasoned rice (I cooked fresh tomato, cilantro and onion in a skillet. Added leftover brown rice. Seasoned with garlic, salt, chili powder and cumin.) Topped it all with cheddar cheese. We ate this mixture with chips and salsa.

Potluck at church. I’m taking chicken fettuccini alfredo, homemade bread and corn on the cob. Hope you all have a great week!