Monday, July 21, 2008

Lunch Lady Bars, a recipe by Mrs.Lee, a nestie

As soon as I saw the recipe and picture of these delightful little cookies in Mrs.Lee's blog, I saved the recipe because I knew that I would be trying them soon. I wanted to make some chocolate chip cookie bars because I figured that they would hold up better for travel and not crumble as easily as "regular" chocolate chip cookies. I immediately thought of this recipe, tucked away in my google documents just waiting for the day that I needed it.

This recipe came out great!!! I made them on Saturday night and let them cool completely before I cut them. I cut them in about 1 1/2 X 1 1/2 inch squares because these cookies are very thick. I don't have an exact amount of time that I baked them because I baked them for 15 minutes and then monitored them after that until they were done, but I would estimate that it took 24-26 minutes. I wanted to make sure that they were good and baked through in the middle and they turned out perfectly.

I would recommend trying this recipe soon. I know I'll be making them again once my husband gets back and can help me eat them!

Here is the link to Mrs.Lee's blog with pictures and recipe:

Dried Fruit Muffins... there's nothing dry about these!

I made these yesterday morning to send with my husband on his trip, but I had to keep a few for myself. My husband is notoriously NOT a morning person, but he needed to leave early for his trip and I have found that if he smells something yummy in the oven it helps to wake him up. While the fruit in these muffins may be dry, the muffins themselves are moist and delicious. I will definitely be making these again, possibly even tonight to freeze since I accidentally bought a 16 oz. container of sour cream instead of 8 oz. For the fruit I used Cherry Berry Blend that I got at Publix and for the nuts I used Walnuts. I really would have liked to use Almonds since they are my favorite but I was all out.

This recipe says that it makes 12 muffins. It really probably technically makes 14 or 15 muffins because after filling my muffin tins I still had plenty of batter left over. So, I just filled each one a little more and they came out HUGE. They stayed together well though and I didn't have any problems with the centers being undercooked while the outsides are overcooked, like you can sometimes have with big muffins like this.

Dried Fruit Muffins
Source: Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook Cook for the Cure (the pink plaid binder cookbook)

Prep: 20 minutes Bake: 20 minutes Oven: 400 degrees Makes 12 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or nutmeg (I used 1/4 teaspoon of each)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup dried cherries, apricots, raisins, and/or cranberries, or dried blueberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, or hazelnuts, toasted
Sugar (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line twelve 2 1/2 inch muffin cups with paper bake cups; set aside. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda; set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add the 1 cup sugar; beat until well combined. Beat in eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until just moistened (batter should be lumpy). Stir in dried fruit and nuts.

3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each almost full. If desired, sprinkle with additional sugar. bake about 20 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cusp; serve warm.

Sending off the husband with some homemade goodies

This week my husband is out of town for work. All week he will dine on steak, ribs and other very expensive, very bad for your things thanks to the project manager's company credit card. I, however, am convinced that he should always be sent off with some homemade goodie to remind him of home, and of me. Before my husband started traveling, and I would see Ina make Jeffrey treats when either of them was going to be gone I thought "get a grip Ina he's a big boy I'm pretty sure he can figure out how to feed himself," but now that my husband travels I understand wanting to send him off with something that reminds him of me.

This time he took:
Lunch Lady Bars (see post above)- basically really yummy chocolate chip cookie bars
Homemade popcorn (not the microwave stuff from a bag)
Dried Fruit Muffins (see post above)- he was leaving early in the morning so I packed some muffins that I made that morning for the road and for breakfast during the week
Cherry tomatoes- I cracked out and bought these for him forgetting that he was leaving so I decided to pack those for him too.

I packed all of this up in a large paper bag from the grocery store so it looks like a really big bagged lunch. Someone already made a comment about his "goodie" bag... they are just jealous.

I can't wait until he gets home. I don't like being separated from him and our girls always go crazy!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bacon, Egg and Chese Strata a recipe from aggiesgirl, a nestie

Are you all getting tired of the nestie recipes yet? :-) Like I said I have been doing a lot of cooking from my google documents, where I store all those great recipes that I find in the nestie blogs.

On Friday we went over to our friends' house for dinner and the wife made her famous challah, which happens to be one of my husband's favorite things ever. She always sends us home with 1/2 a loaf and my favorite thing to do with it is make french toast. If you have never had challah french toast, you do not know what you are missing. Well my husband had to work this weekend and I didn't want to make the french toast just for myself so I started thinking about what I could make with it that I could take to my husband's work to have lunch with him before my pizza making class at Williams Sonoma that afternoon.

I remembered saving some strata recipes to my google documents so I located those and found one for bacon, egg and cheese strata and thought that it would be perfect to make since I had all of the ingredients and my husband LOOOOOOVES bacon. I also really liked that I could prep it the night before and then bake it in the morning. This transported really well and was still warm after transporting it 30 minutes away (I covered it with aluminum foil).

I didn't have enough bread to make a 9X13 pan of this so I used my 8X8 and luckily my husband was there to help me figure out how much of everything to use because otherwise I would still be standing in my kitchen trying to figure it out. :-)

Here is the link to aggie's blog with the recipe: (it is the bottom recipe) Thanks for a great recipe!

Bourbon Chicken, a recipe from Krashed, a nestie

When I was dating my husband and we would hang out at his parents' house his mom would often make big dinners that would take a while to cook and fill the entire house with yummy smells that would make my tummy rumble and just generally drive me crazy with wanting. I told her that these were "mean meals" because I always had to suffer a little before eating them, but that in the end the wait was well worth it.

Well for me, Bourbon Chicken is a "mean meal" it just smells so dadgum good while it is cooking that I had to resist the urge to eat it before it was done. I even told my husband at one point "I don't care how hot that pan is and if I burn off ever single taste bud I have in the process I am going to the kitchen right now to lick every bit of the sauce out of that pan because I can't wait anymore."

Well, I didn't go and burn my tongue on the sauce but I sure was tempted. Thankfully this was even better than I could have imagined. My husband and I both ate in complete silence because we were too busy savoring every bite to talk. When we were done my husband said "you're making this again, right?" He is such a picky eater than when I find an easy to make meal that he really likes I am happy to add it to the regular rotation (I usually make one rotation meal a week and the rest of the time we try something new).

In this case he asked me to make it his welcome home dinner for when he gets back from out of town. I will be happy to, but I wish I didn't have to wait that long to have it again!

Here's the link to Amber's (Krashed) blog with the recipe:

Falling off the bone chicken wings, a recipe from bunney, a nestie

This was so good that my husband and I were both disappointed that I didn't make more. I got 20 whole wings on sale for under $6.00. That means that I got a 40 piece "order" of wings for $6.00. At a restaurant that would be at least $20.00! I didn't fix all of those at once, I divided them into three meals and froze two and just fixed six wings (12 pieces) for this recipe.

I like flats and my husband likes the drumettes so this really works out because we can both get only the things that we like. My husband is going out of town on Sunday and will be gone for a week and he asked that I fix this for him before he leaves even though we just had it last week. I have already starred this recipe in my google documents because I know I will be making it often.

Here is the link to the recipe on bunney's blog. Thanks bunney for a great recipe!

Perfect Pan-Seared Steak, a recipe from mlr513, a nestie!

Over the last couple of weeks I have tried several recipes from other nesties that we have really, really enjoyed so I decided to blog about them all separately otherwise this one post would seem to go on forever. First I am going to blog about my dinner last night. I was reading the blog and came across a recipe for Perfect Pan-Seared Steak. I had a sirloin steak in the freezer so I thought that would be perfect for dinner. It was really great. The flavor was excellent, there was a nice crispy crust on the outside, while the inside was moist and tender. I couldn't have asked for a better steak. Even my husband, who thinks that a steak isn't a steak unless it is grilled, said "this is better than grilled."

Thanks for a great recipe!

Side note: I do not have any cast iron. I just used my big heavy stainless steel skillet that is oven proof to make this.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Product Review- Bertolli Premium Pasta Sauce in a Microwavable Pouch

I have tried a great new product and I want to share a review with my fellow bloggers. I was at the grocery store looking at all the beautiful pasta when something caught my eye. Bertolli is making pasta sauce in a microwavable pouch that takes 90 seconds to heat. I picked up the Summer Crushed Tomato and Basil and it was really great. I bought Champignon and Portobello Pasta Sauce this past weekend and will make it sometime soon.

I like making my own sauce, but for nights when I'm really crunched for time or just plain exhausted, it is nice to have this as an option.

Barefoot Bloggers- Pasta, Pesto and Peas

I am a very bad Barefoot Blogger. This was supposed to be posted by last Thursday. Time really got away from me though and I am late. This is a recipe that I knew I had to try when Michael wasn't going to be eating dinner with me because there is NO WAY he would eat something this green. He doesn't even eat vegetables so he would run at the sight of this.

Because of that, I significantly cut back on the recipe- by 1/2. Believe me... I still had plenty! I used packaged pesto (Classico) instead of making my own. I'll save the homemade pesto for when I have someone to enjoy it with me. (I think this would be good to take to a potluck)

Without further adeu, here's the recipe:

Pasta, Pesto, and Peas
Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa

3/4 pound fusilli pasta (I only used bow tie pasta)
3/4 pound bow tie pasta
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 cups pesto, packaged or see recipe below (I used Classico pesto)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 cups good mayonnaise
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
1/3 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook the fusilli and bow ties separately in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 to 12 minutes until each pasta is al dente. Drain and toss into a bowl with the olive oil. Cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the pesto, spinach, and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise and puree. Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta and then add the Parmesan, peas, pignolis, salt, and pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve at room temperature.

1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.

Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.

To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.

Yield: 4 cups

Dunbar Macaroni

Last week I went up to my parent's house and had dinner with my mom (dad was out of town for work and my husband was working late that night). She made one of my favorite childhood meals, Dunbar Macaroni. This is a recipe that is very popular in the tiny town that my mom grew up in. When someone passes away there family is loaded down with casseroles, pies, cookies, cold salads and large quantities of sweet tea and lemonade. The thinking is that they will not feel like cooking and the neighbors, friends, church members and co-workers who provide the food are simply hoping that they will have some comfort in their time of loss. Well, the funeral home where my mom grew up is Dunbar Funeral home. This recipe is very popular on the comfort food circuit, hence its name, Dunbar Macaroni.

This is a long and somewhat complicated recipe, but it makes enough to feed a few small armies and it freezes and reheats very well. If you are planning to freeze this, get several of the small square aluminum foil pans. Do not put the cheese and bread crumb topping on. Instead put a sheet of saran wrap on the top of the meat & macaroni mixture and then put the cheese and bread crumb mixture in a baggie and place on top of the saran wrap and then wrap the whole thing in aluminum foil. When it is time to cook the dish, remove the saran wrap and bag of cheese & bread crumbs and re-place the aluminum foil. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Then top with the bread crumbs and cheese and bake for another 15-20 minutes.

Here is the recipe, by my mother:

Dunbar Macaroni
1 lb. of lean ground beef or 2 cups of cut up leftover roast beef
8 oz. (2 cups) of dry small elbow macaroni
¾ stick of real butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
8 oz. tomato sauce
1-14 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice, undrained
Salt and pepper to your taste (I give several firm shakes of each.)
3 cups (12 oz.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
2 slices of bread grated or torn into bits by hand (Day old or coarse
textured bread, white or even wheat, is best. The blender is also
good for making the bread crumbs. You want about 2 cups, not
compressed, but loosely packed. You may need more slices to make
the 2 cups.)

Get out your largest sauce pan/frying pan with a lid. I use a 12” straight-sided frying pan. Brown the ground beef and drain. You just want to get the pink out - you can put the cover on the pan and not have to watch it so closely. Then you can do other things, like make the breadcrumbs or get out the other ingredients while the meat is cooking.

Then wipe out the pan with a paper towel and bring a quantity of salted water in the same pan to a boil with the lid on to make it boil faster, and add the macaroni. Cook about 6 – 8 minutes, but don’t get it too soft. Drain.

Wipe out the pan and brown the butter till it is golden, but not dark brown. Be careful. If you burn it, start over. This is what gives the dish its distinctive flavor. Add the Worcestershire sauce to the butter in the frying pan and let it sizzle.

Then add the tomato products and heat. Now combine everything except the cheese and breadcrumbs in the frying pan and blend together.

Heavily Pam a 9 x 13” Pyrex dish. Quickly stir in 2 cups of the cheese into the macaroni and meat mixture. Arrange all that evenly in the dish. Mix the breadcrumbs and the last 1-cup (4 oz.) of cheese together and evenly top the other ingredients with them. Cook 15 – 20 minutes at 425 in the oven, or till the topping is nicely golden brown. Everything in the dish is already cooked and warm so you’re just browning the crumbs on top, not cooking the dish.

Comfort Food- Meatloaf

Recently my husband's beloved childhood dog, Pandora, passed away after a long, happy life. I wanted to make some "comfort food" for him. He is not a big meatloaf fan, but when I saw this recipe I knew that he would like it and I was right. This is so, so good and so easy too! Try the recipe soon because it is a great quick and easy weeknight meal.

Meatloaf Patties, Smashed Potatoes, and Pan Gravy
From: Rachael Ray

1 1/3 pounds ground sirloin, 90 percent lean ground beef
1 slice white bread, spread with softened butter, then cut into small cubes
1/8 cup (a splash) milk
1 egg
2 teaspoons grill seasoning blend, or coarse salt and black pepper combined
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 rounded tablespoon tomato paste
1 medium onion, finely chopped, reserve 1/4 amount
2 pounds small red potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 scallions, chopped, whites and greens
1/2 cup milk

3-Condiment Pan Gravy:
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 medium onion, finely chopped, reserved from meatloaf mixture
2 tablespoons (a handful) all-purpose flour
1 to 1 1/2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 rounded teaspoon spicy brown mustard
1 tablespoon steak sauce

Place meat in a large mixing bowl and create a well in the center of the meat. Fill the well with the bread cubes and dampen them with a splash of milk. Pour 1 beaten egg over bread and add seasoning or salt and pepper, allspice, tomato paste and onion to the bowl.

Form mixture into 4 large oval patties 3/4-inch thick. Pan fry meatloaf patties in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat 7 minutes on each side under a loose tin foil tent. The tent will reflect heat and allow the steam to escape the pan.

Cover the quartered, red-skinned potatoes in water in a medium saucepan. Bring water to a boil and cook potatoes 10 minutes or until fork tender. Turn heat under pan off; drain potatoes and return to hot pan and warm stove top to dry potatoes out. Add butter, sour cream, scallions, and milk to potatoes and smash to your desired consistency. Season potatoes with salt, to taste.
Remove meat loaf patties to a platter and return pan to heat. Reduce heat to medium and add butter and onion to your skillet. Cook the onion 2 minutes and sprinkle pan with flour. Cook flour 1 minute and whisk in 1 cup beef stock. Bring broth to a bubble. If gravy is too thick, thin with additional stock. Stir in condiments and remove gravy from heat.

Slice meatloaf patties and drizzle with gravy. Pile smashed potatoes along side and make a well in the center for sour cream or gravy. Serve meatloaf and smashed potatoes with baby carrots, or with a tossed salad dressed with oil and vinegar.

Pizza Pizza!

There is not much better in the world than biting into hot, fresh pizza that you have completely customized to your tastes. On Friday night my husband and I did just that. I have been wanting to make completely homemade pizza for a long time now but it kept getting pushed to the back burner. Part of the reason is I had NEVER cooked with yeast before. But now I have and it wasn't scary at all!

I have a pizza stone, but I used a cookie sheet to bake this on since I wanted something to help me form the pizza dough since it was a first try. This worked out well and resulted in a very thin crust pizza, which I love!

The very best part about making this pizza was that I could have exactly what I wanted on my half. I had: spinach (put this at the bottom right against the sauce so that it doesn't get burned), sun-dried tomatoes, green bell peppers, vidalia onion and sun-dried tomato & basil chicken sausage (from the IL's recent trip to Trader Joe's). The flavors complimented each other very well and there was definitely a party in my mouth!

Michael had: bacon, cheddar and chicken apple sausage (from Trader Joe's) He said that he loved the bacon and cheddar but wasn't crazy about the chicken sausage with it. He did eat it and he's not one to eat food that he doesn't like so it must have at least tasted decent.

I will have to share the sauce recipe that I use with you later since I don't have my cookbook with me. The recipe comes from a McCall's cookbook from the '60s and it is my absolute favorite cookbook ever!

I got the pizza crust recipe from a fellow nestie and blogger. You can view her blog here:

Crusty Pizza Dough
From: Kitchenaid Mixer Booklet

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2- 3/12 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornmeal


Dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed mixer bowl. Add salt , oil, and 2 1/2 cups flour. Attach bow and Spiral dough hook. Turn to speed 2 and mix for one minute. Continue on speed 2 add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time and mix about 1. 5 minutes. or until dough starts to clean sides of bowl. Knead on speed 2 about 2 minutes longer.

Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover. Let rise in warm place, free from draft, about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Punch dough down. Brush 14 inch pizza pan with oil. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Press dough across bottom of pan, forming a collar around edge to hold toppings. Add toppings as desired. Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Makes 4 servings , quarter of pizza per serving.

For a crowd:Double the ingredients, and prepare in the 6 quart mixer bowl. Makes 8 servings.

I would encourage all of you to step out of your "cooking comfort zone" and try something new. Now that I have successfully used yeast there is a whole world of baking waiting for me.

Moist Bran Muffins

My husband loves bran muffins but they are so hard to find (at least good ones) here in South Carolina. So when I saw these muffins in a blog that I read I knew that I had to try them. They were excellent and Michael really liked them!

Moist Bran Muffins
Where I got the recipe: http://

Where she got the recipe: King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Book

This batter must be baked next-day; it requires an overnight rest in the refrigerator. I'm pretty sure you'll regret it if you skip this step. You can also leave the batter in the fridge for a week, baking as you go. They freeze very well.

3/4 cup (6 oz.) boiling water

1 1/4 cups bran cereal, divided
3/4 cup raisins -I used Trader Joe's Orange Flavored Cranberries
3/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil- I used 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, traditional or white whole wheat
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup (6 oz.) buttermilk
1/2 cup (4 oz.) orange juice

Pour boiling water over 3/4 cup of the bran cereal in a small mixing bowl. Add the raisins, brown sugar and oil. While the bran mixture cools, blend together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Beat the egg with the buttermilk and orange juice in a large measuring cup. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup bran cereal, and then the bran-raisin mixture. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin tin. Fill each cup two-thirds full. Bake the muffin until a tester comes out clean, about 23 to 26 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling, or serve warm.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Cheesecake Squares

Or How Jennifer got her Groove Back...

I have not been spending much time in my kitchen lately. First, it is SO hot that it is miserable to even boil water for pasta. When your kitchen is the size of a postage stamp, it heats up really quickly. And, second, I just plain haven't had time or the inclination.

But, I had been wanting to try this recipe for a very long time (probably 9 months or more) since someone on my message board had mentioned it. I had printed it and lost it so I was very happy to find it in a blog that I read regularly, unfortunately I apparently forgot to note which blog I found it in, so if it was yours please leave me a comment because I would love to give you credit!

These were very yummy! I made them low(er) fat by using the 1/3 reduced fat cheese and reduced fat sour cream. I don't think that you could tell much of a difference because they were still very creamy and very good.

I would highly recommend trying this recipe very soon!

Chocolate Cheesecake Squares
From Martha Stewart

Nonstick cooking spray

8 chocolate wafer cookies 1
bar (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
1 large whole egg plus 1 large egg white
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Line with two crisscrossed pieces of parchment or wax paper, spraying between sheets. Spray lined pan; set aside. (I was SO not going to buy parchment paper just for this recipe-I normally use silicone baking sheets- so I used Reynold's non-stick aluminum foil. It worked fine for me.)

Process cookies in a food processor until finely ground. Gently press crumbs into bottom of prepared pan (do not rinse processor bowl).

Blend cream cheese and sour cream in food processor until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add cocoa, cornstarch, sugar, egg, and egg white; process until smooth. Pour into pan; sprinkle with chocolate chips.

Bake until just set, 35 to 40 minutes; cool completely in pan. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Invert onto a tray; peel off paper, and reinvert crust side down. Cut into 9 squares.

Edit: Yep, you are right! I found the recipe here:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Breakfast for dinner, Bacon and Cheese Fluffy Frittata

So my menu plan went completely out the window last week because Michael again had a crazy schedule. On Friday night I asked what he wanted for dinner and he said that breakfast sounded really good. Well, that sounded great to me since I had 34 eggs to use up since the store had them as buy one get one free this week.

We also had some beautiful thick cut bacon and cheddar and Ementaler cheese so off to the Internet we went. We didn't find any suitable recipes at, my usual standby so off to we went. DH was very intrigued by the fluffy frittata recipe and wanted to try that one so I broiled some bacon, my preferred way of preparing bacon, and then prepared the recipe according to the directions.

My DH asked me to leave out the onion so I did (I would have preferred the recipe made with the onion and maybe some bell pepper too). I put a Tablespoon of the bacon drippings in the bottom of the pan and then proceeded as the recipe directed. This turned out well, but we didn't care very much for the texture of the eggs. I guess we just aren't fluffy egg people. I'll make this again but I'll either beat the egg whites less or just not separate them at all.

Fluffy-Bacon Cheese Frittata

6 bacon strips, diced
1/3 cup chopped onion
5 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

In a skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp; remove to paper towels. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings. In the drippings, saute onion until tender. Remove from the heat; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat egg yolks, milk, flour and paprika until smooth. Add Swiss cheese. In a small mixing bowl, beat egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form. Fold into cheese mixture.
Pour over onion in skillet; cover and cook on medium-low heat for 12-15 minutes or until almost set. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and bacon. Cover and cook 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with parsley.

Lemon Pepper Chicken with brown rice

I was feeling very lazy on Saturday. I just didn't feel like cooking supper and I really didn't feel like going out, so I had to come up with something very quick and simple to have for dinner.

Quick and Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken

7 frozen chicken tenderloins, cut into bite sized chunks
1 green bell pepper
1 sweet onion (I used Vidalia but Peru sweet would also be good)
1/4 cup Ken's Lemon Pepper Marinade
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth

1. Cut the top off of the bell pepper and remove all seeds. Cut off bottom and cut around the stem thing into three chunks. Cut the "body" of the pepper into 5 thick strips and then cut those in half.

2. Cut the onion in half lengthwise. Cut off the top and the bottom "roots." Cut each half into three big wedges. Keep in wedge form (because they will be easier to dig out of marinade.

3. Rinse the ice coating from the chicken so that it can thaw in the marinade. Add the marinade to a large ziplock bag and add pepper, onion and chicken. Allow to marinate for one hour. Chicken should thaw during this time.

4. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Add in 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and 1 Tablespoon of butter. Allow butter to melt and then add the pepper and onion (remove from marinade with tongs). Stir with wooden spoon to break up onion wedges. Cook until onion is translucent. Remove to plate.

5. Add remaining olive oil and butter to skillet. Allow butter to melt. Brown chicken on both sides. Remove from skillet.

6. Deglaze the pan with the chicken broth and add in the used marinade. Boil to kill off any bad stuff. Add the peppers, onions and chicken back to skillet and cook until chicken is cooked through and sauce is reduced.

Serve over brown rice made with half water and half chicken broth.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Steak quesidillas, the reason my husband loves me

This is the most asked for meal in our home. My husband absolutely loves these and doesn't complain one bit about eating them for leftovers (and he HATES leftovers)

I start with my version of carne asada (see recipe below) and then slice it very very thinly against the grain into small strips. I place these on top of a burrito sized tortilla and top with loads of cheese. I usually use a combination of monterrey jack and cheddar cheeses. Then I put another tortilla on top and put it in a non stick skillet. I don't put butter or spray or anything else in the skillet while I am toasting the bread. Then I cut them into quarters and serve with salsa and sour cream.

Carne Asada

from: me!

London broil roast, trimmed of all fat and gristle
Juice and zest from two lemons
1/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
packet of taco seasoning

1. In a large ziplock bag mix together the lemon juice and zest, oil and taco seasoning. Add in the roast and marinate for one hour.

2. Heat a large grill pan over high heat. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sear the meat on both sides (about 3 minutes) and then put in oven for 5 minutes.

3. Remove pan from oven. Set roast on a cutting board. Allow to "rest" for about 10 minutes.

4. Thinly slice the meat against the grain.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day Brunch

I thought it only fitting to blog about the brunch that I prepared for my mom yesterday for Mother's Day. You see, I get my love of all things kitchen gadget, place settings, recipe hunting, bargain finding, taste testing and cooking from my mother. She is the original downhome diva! I wanted a nice, quiet brunch for just the two of us so that we could spend some time together. I don't get to see her as often as I want to (which would probably be as often as we talk on the phone- multiple times a day!) so I wanted some special time with just the two of us.

My mom and I are both chocoholics and so I wanted to incorporate our shared love of all things chocolate into brunch.

On the menu:
Dutch pancake with Nutella, fresh strawberries and powdered sugar
Bellagio Hot Chocolate
a taste of Amano chocolate for dessert

To prepare the bacon, I used my absolute favorite method. I broiled it! I like to use thick sliced bacon, and yesterday I used some Tyson that I had picked up on sale. It was to die for good and had the perfect combination of crispy and chewy. What I do is place the bacon in a single layer on a broiler pan (that's the one with the slots) and put it under the broiler set on high for a few minutes (I would guess about 4) then I flip it over using tongs and broil it for about two more minutes. Remove from the broiler pan and drain on paper towels (although with this method there is really not much to drain as most of the fat cooks off while leaving the wonderful flavor).

For the dutch pancake, I used a recipe that I found from a nestie. I was bad and forgot to write down which blog I stole it from, so if it is yours please leave me a comment and I will give you credit. Sorry about that. I did make a couple of changes to the pancake since I would be serving it with chocolate and strawberries. I added a tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla.

Here is the recipe that I used, with my changes:

Dutch Pancake

4 eggs
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tsp butter

1. In medium mixing bowl, place first 6 ingredients. Beat with an egg beater on medium for about 2 minutes until frothy and well mixed.
2. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 425. Prepare 2 glass 8x8 dishes, or pie dishes, with 1.5 T butter each. Place in oven while it's preheating, so butter gets a nice brown color.
3. Remove pans and pour 1/2 the mixture into each pan. Return to oven and bake at 425 for 15 minutes.

Top with powdered sugar and cinnamon for a fantastic breakfast treat!

Each pancake makes 4 servings, in my opinion. I topped each serving with about 1/2 teaspoon of nutella and spread it very thin. I then piled on the sliced strawberries. I did not sweeten the strawberries since I topped everything with powdered sugar. My mom and I polished off a whole quart of strawberries together, but I suppose you can never really eat too much fruit.

Now, for a funny story. When I was looking for a small strainer to sift powdered sugar on top of the strawberries I found this small shaker that had what I THOUGHT was powdered sugar in it. Well, it was flour. oops. Luckily it did not ruin anything and I just added the powdered sugar on top of that.

I had a wonderful time and am so lucky to have a mom as wonderful as mine! Happy Mother's Day mom, I love you!

Amano chocolate, what they serve in heaven

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Image from

Please visit to find out more about this wonderful chocolate and to purchase the finest quality chocolate bars that I have had the pleasure of eating.

So I recently became a sooper hero on Blake Makes, which means that I get the opportunity to try out all kinds of wonderful food products. Last week I arrived home from work to find three lovely chocolate bars waiting on my front steps. It was very hot that day (hello I live in SC from April to October it can be considered very hot!) and I was a little worried that the chocolate would be one melted mess. I was very happy to discover that while the chocolate had softened, it had maintained it's shape. Talk about impressed! If this chocolate can stand up to the SC heat then it can withstand anything.

I decided that rather than cooking with this chocolate, that I would enjoy it as I would any fine quality chocolate, by eating it as an after dinner treat with coffee. The first night I tried a couple of squares of each and put them away to finish firming back up (they were soft from sitting on my porch all day).

The next day I had a few more bites of each and also asked my husband to try the bars. Now, my husband is not a big dark chocolate fan (I know, I know, how is that even possible?!?) but he liked the Madagascar. I would say that is the creamiest and most mild, so that would be good for someone like him who tends to prefer milk chocolate. My favorite, by the way, is the Ocumare. I ate that whole one by myself and didn't let anyone else try it. Because I am selfish and it was my favorite, that's why!

Then, yesterday, was Mother's Day so I knew that I would be around a lot of dark chocolate lovers so I threw what was left of the Madagascar and the Cuyagua into my purse to tote around and have others try.

First up was my mom. She really liked both types but the Cuyagua was her favorite. I would tend to agree with her, as it was my second favorite, and because I am selfish, she didn't get a chance to try the Ocumare. Sorry about that mom. :)

Next up was my mother-in-law. She is a big fan of the dark chocolate. She liked them both, but again the Cuyagua was her favorite. I believe that she was the one who mentioned that a little of this chocolate goes a long way because it is so pure and rich. I would tend to agree with her. I am a big time chocolate lover and it took me several sittings over several days to pig out on the Ocumare. :)

My father-in-law sampled the chocolate next. He also enjoys dark chocolate. He also preferred the Cuyagua.

Then my brother-in-law's girlfriend sampled both chocolates. She agreed with my husband that the Madagascar was her favorite.

All of these chocolates were beyond wonderful. I was a confirmed Godiva fan before sampling these, but I am now a convert. I can't wait to have more of these, and I think both of our moms would enjoy a bar as a present.

Thank you Blake Makes and Amano for the chance to sample these wonderful chocolates and for my first opportunity to review something for Blake Makes!


Friday, May 9, 2008

Italian Sausage and Potatoes

I saw this recipe in Quick and Simple magazine a few months ago. I used kielbasa instead of Italian sausage since that is what I had. I added the kielbasa in with 15 minutes to go, at the same time that I stirred the potatoes, peppers and onions, and this was the perfect amount of time for the sausage to cook. This is not healthy at all... but it is yummy and quick and very, very easy so it was great for a week night meal.

Italian Sausage And Potatoes.

1 Pound Sweet And/Or Hot Italian Sausage( Or Use Turkey Sausage.) Cut Crosswise Into Thirds.
1 Pound Small Red Or Yellow Potatoes, Scrubbed And Halved.
1 Large Onion, Cut Into 12 Wedges.
2 Red And/Or Yellow Bell Peppers,Cut Into Thick Strips.
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil.
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Pepper.

Preheat Oven To 450 Degrees . In A 15&1/2 X 10&1/2 Jelly-Roll Pan, Toss Together Sausage,Potatoes,Onion, Bell Peppers, Olive Oil,Salt And Pepper.

Roast 30 To 35 Minutes, Or Until Potatoes Are Fork-Tender And Sausage Is Lightly Browned, Stirring Once Halfway Through Roasting.

EDIT 5/21/08- I made this again last night because we needed a quick and easy meal. DH got off of work very late. This takes only one cutting board, one knife and one cookie sheet to make so it doesn't make a huge mess of the kitchen, which is wonderful when you are as tired as we were. I had Italian Sausage this time so I used that. I also sprinkled about a teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning over the potatoes. I preferred this recipe made with the Italian Sausage, but my DH preferred the kielbasa. I guess we'll just alternate, or use whatever is on sale. :-)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

My first ever chicken salad

I know that this may seem weird but sometimes I find that while I have "mastered" cooking techniques that others may be wary of, I have simply not tried many of the basics. Chicken salad was one of those basic things that I had not tried to make before today. I roasted a 6 pound chicken on Sunday (hello it was 49 CENTS a pound!) to use as a base for meals throughout the week.

Yesterday I made chicken, spinach, sun-dried tomato and mozzarella paninis for dinner and found that I still have A LOT of chicken to use up. I had bought some pitas to use for pita pizzas so I decided that I light, refreshing chicken salad would be great to go with them. Here is what I came up with:

Fruity Chicken Salad
By: me!

1 roasted (or rotisserie) chicken breast, cut into large cubes (mine was huge but you may need to add more if your chicken is not as well endowed as mine was)
1/2 stalk of celery, chopped
2 tablespoons almonds, chopped
1/4 cup of crasins or other dried fruit
8 large grapes, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons of light mayo
1 tablespoon Champagne Vinegar (or other vinegar that you may have on hand)
1 teaspoon Pampered Chef Citris & Basil Rub
salt and pepper to taste

Combine everything making sure that the seasonings are well distributed throughout. Enjoy!

Butter Crunch Lemon-Cheese Bars

This is a Cooking Light recipe, although I think I first encountered it in adamswife's blog. The first time I made them, last summer, I forgot to put the eggs in the filling. Well needless to say that didn't exactly work so I decided to give them another try last night. They are so good, so tart and are the perfect treat on these hot Spring days. Give them a try soon, you won't regret it!

Butter Crunch Lemon-Cheese Bars


1/3 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg
1 cup all-purpose flour
Cooking spray

1 cup 1% low-fat cottage cheese
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
1 large egg white

Preheat oven to 350°.
To prepare crust, place first 4 ingredients in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Lightly spoon 1 cup flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Add 1 cup flour to butter mixture, and beat at low speed until well-blended. Press crust into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.

To prepare filling, place cottage cheese in a food processor; process 2 minutes or until smooth, scraping sides of bowl once. Add 1 cup granulated sugar and remaining ingredients, and process until well-blended. Pour filling over crust. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until set (the edges will get lightly browned), and cool. Cover and chill for 8 hours.

8 servings (serving size: 1 bar)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 281(29% from fat); FAT 9g (sat 5.2g,mono 2.6g,poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 6.7g; CHOLESTEROL 49mg; CALCIUM 40mg; SODIUM 298mg; FIBER 0.5g; IRON 1.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 44.5g
Greg Patent , Cooking Light, JANUARY 2001

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tracy, to make your life easier

Here is the recipe that you are looking for:

Basic white sauce turned cheese sauce:
1/2 stick of butter (4 tablespoons)
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/8 teaspoon (or a big pinch) pepper
1 1/2 cups whole milk (do not cheat and used reduced fat or skim or your sauce will taste like a combination of dog poo and wallpaper paste-you have been warned)
1/2 cup heavy cream (we all have to cheat now and again)
one golf ball size portion of Parmesan cheese, finely grated (no cheating and using the stuff in the little green can. Call me if you need a reasonably priced recommendation)

1. Combine flour, salt & pepper in a bowl and set aside.

2. Melt butter over medium heat, stirring constantly. When butter is melted remove pan from heat.

3. Gradually add flour mixture and stir until smooth.

4. Combine the whole milk and heavy cream in a liquid measuring cup with a spout. Slowly whisk into the butter and flour mixture.

5. Place back onto burner over medium heat and whisk constantly until boiling. Boil for two minutes.

6. Remove from heat. Grate in Parmesan cheese and stir until melted.

7. Pat yourself on the back, you have just made a white sauce and then a cheese sauce. You also made a roux (combining the butter and flour and cooking the flour- although we used the heat of the pan to cook it), which is the basis for soups and other yummy goodness.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Best Big Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

This has become my "go to" cookie recipe. It is frequently requested by family and friends (mostly my in-laws who are nuts about the recipe). What I love most about chocolate chip cookies is that they are almost like a medicine for a bad day. To me, making them is soothing and to others, at least I think, eating them is soothing. I recently made these for a friend when she was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (bonus points if you can tell me what book that is from) and realized that they had not made an appearance on my blog. They certainly deserve to be here among my other recipes so, without further ado, here they are:

Best Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie
(Source: Allrecipes)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Creamy Parmesan Orzo, an oldie but goodie

This recipe is from cooking light, but you would never know by the taste. It is one of my favorite recipes, but unfortunately I had lost it. Thanks to the nesties I have found it again and I will be adding it back to my menus. Here it is, I hope by blogging it that I will never lose it again and have to go without the creamy goodness: Creamy Parmesan Orzo
Cooking Light

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup orzo
1 1/4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons pine nuts, toasted

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add orzo, and cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and orzo is done (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in cheese, basil, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with the pine nuts. Serve immediately.

4 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)

Dirty Risotto and why I love Giada

Giada Di Laurentis is single handily responsible for my new love of cooking Italian food. You see, I have always loved to eat all types of food but growing up I was not exposed to many different types of cuisine from around the world. In other words, I was intimidated. But, Giada is so darn lovable that she makes even the most difficult tasks (hello homemade gnocchi) seem like the work of children.

Risotto is a pain in the hiney to make. It just is. You have to stand there and stir it the entire time that it cooks. But, it is creamy and yummy and if you are prepared for the work going into it making it can be very rewarding (and I'm not just taking about the party in your mouth when the first grain hits your tongue.)

This recipe could not possibly be any better. I like to add my own touch to recipes so I added in some garlic but other than that I can't possibly think of anything that could be done to this recipe to make it any better. It is that good.

Here is the recipe, my notes and changes are in italic:

Dirty Risotto
(Source: Food Network)
5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 T. butter
2 oz. pancetta, chopped (you can substitute bacon but it might not be as good)
6 oz. Italian sausage, casing removed
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
4 oz. button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 1/2 c. Arborio rice
3/4 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 T. chopped fresh Italian parsley

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Cover the broth and keep warm over low heat.

2. In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sausage and saute until golden brown about 5 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper and mushrooms and saute until tender, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, about 8 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute, being careful not to burn. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup of the simmering brother and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bit and the mixture is creamy, about 25-30 minutes total.

4. Remove from heat. Stir in 3/4 of the Parmesan. Transfer the risotto to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the parsley and remaining Parmesan and serve immediately.

BakingBlonde's Blondies

Yesterday I went to a baby shower and I wanted to contribute to the menu. I took a spinach & cheese quiche as well as the spinach and sun dried tomato quiche I blogged earlier this month. I wanted to provide something sweet and wasn't in the mood for my stand-by recipe of chocolate chip cookies so I thought that blondies would perfectly fit the bill.

I got this recipe from a nestie. Here is the link to her blog:

I wanted to add a mix-in to the blondies and thought that I would add in some chocolate chips. I had bought a very small bag of very good chocolate chips that was not nearly enough to make cookies but I thought it would be perfect for these. Unfortunately, the chocolate chips completely melted and kept the blondies from setting properly. So I dumped those on a plate and started over. The next time I used mini M&Ms as the mix-in because I thought the shell would keep them from melting, which it did. This worked perfectly and they were a big hit. I hope you'll try them! Here's the recipe:

Basic Blondies
(Source: Bakingblonde)
8 T. butter, melted
1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla or 1/2 tsp. almond extract
pinch salt
1 c. flour

Butter an 8x8" pan.

Mix melted butter with brown sugar-beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla. Add salt, stir in flour. Mix in any additions (some ideas below).

Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until set in the middle.

Cool on rack before cutting.

Add in ideas:1/2 to 1 c. chocolate chips or butterscotch chips 1/2 tsp mint extract in addition to, or in the place of vanilla extract 1/2 c. chopped nuts, chopped up candy bars

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Crockpot "baked" chicken and baked garlic rice pilaf

Last night I tried two recipes from nesties. Both turned out really well. The first I made was the crock pot "baked" chicken by Carrie ( I made a few changes though. I rubbed the outside of the chicken with olive oil and seasoned with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper and then quartered 2 lemons and stuffed that in the cavity along with two smashed cloves of garlic. I cooked without liquids on low all day while I was at work. You don't need to add liquid because SO much liquid cooks out of the chicken, plus I figured that I had the lemons inside to keep it moist anyways. The chicken just completely falls apart and is so tender. You don't even need a knife to cut into serving size or to eat it!

The sides that I made to go with it were baked garlic rice pilaf and sauteed green beans (I just add a Tablespoon or so of olive oil to a skilled and add in the snapped green beans. I keep tossing them to make sure they cook evenly. When they are done I add some balsamic vinegar to the pan and let it reduce for a few moments.)

I got the recipe for the garlic rice pilaf from a nestie. I am not sure which blog I got it from so I'll post the links to both. and
It was really so very good and I highly recommend that you try it. I will definitely be making it again!

Baked Garlic Rice Pilaf
2 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup long-grain white rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon
black pepper
I also used some fresh squeezed lemon, I added it about 15 minutes before it was finished (I did this also)

Preheat oven to 375*. Heat butter in a skillet; add garlic and rice and cook until both are golden brown. Add 1 cup of broth and the salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and pour into a covered casserole; bake for 25 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups broth; cook for another 45 minutes. This can be doubled without increasing the cooking time.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Shephard's pie (kinda)

When Michael and I first got married (almost three years ago!) I made this all the time because he really likes it and it is fairly quick and easy. It is even easier if you are using leftovers.

Shephard's Pie
My no recipe recipe

Leftover ground beef, browned & drained
garlic salt
onion powder
1 small bag frozen corn (or use canned but I just like frozen better)
leftover mashed potatoes
cheese (I like cheddar monterrey jack)

Step 1:
Spray an oven safe baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Step 2:
Place ground beef in the bottom of the cooking dish. Sprinkle garlic salt, pepper and onion powder to taste on top.

Step 3:
Top ground beef with the corn.

Step 4:
Top corn with mashed potatoes. Place small pats of butter on top of potatoes and then cover with cheese.

Step 5:
Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Quiche squared

Last night we went over to the *new* home of some of our friends for movie night! I wanted to contribute to the wonderful feast that we always have so I offered to bring quiche.

I have always loved quiche but really fell in love with it in Paris. Now, I am not even going to pretend for a moment that I make authentic French quiche, but it is good and it is easy and it satisfies the craving so I think it's good enough! I made a bacon, cheddar and Monterrey Jack quiche to satisfy my husband's craving for all things bacon and then I made a spinach, sun-dried tomato, Parmesan and mozzarella quiche because well anything is better with sun-dried tomatoes and it just sounded darn good to me as I was thinking of what to make.

Again I had the problem with measuring ingredients, which I DON'T do because I apparently have some sort of aversion to measuring utensils (which explains why I don't terribly enjoy baking) so here is a rough guideline of what I did:

Bacon Quiche

1 package thick sliced bacon

6 eggs

2-ish Tablespoons heavy whipping cream (don't try to use skim milk I did that once to a terrible result really there is nothing in this world like heavy cream)

1 package shredded cheddar Monterrey Jack blend cheese

white pepper (or use what you like I think white pepper is prettier

1 store bought deep dish pie crust (or make your own but you'll have to find your own recipe since I don't do baking I can't recommend a recipe) *also allow this to thaw while you are preparing other ingredients. If it is not thawed all the way it is ok but take it out before you start the other prep work*

1. Broil the bacon. That's right I said broil it. I recently discovered this technique for cooking bacon and I am now a convert. You turn your broiler on high, lay out the bacon on your broiling pan and then just listen (you should hear it sizzling) and use your sniffer to monitor the bacon. When you really start smelling the bacon, check it and it will probably be ready to turn. Then cook on the other side. You want the bacon to be at least done and leaning towards crispy. No soggy bacon for quiches. Once it has finished cooking, remove to paper towels and blot out the grease. Chop into 1/4 inch thick chunks.

2. Use a hand mixer with the whisk attachment to beat 6 eggs and 2-ish Tablespoons heavy cream until foamy.

3. Add bacon, 1/2 of the cheese and white pepper to the eggs.

4. Pour into the pie crust. Top with remaining cheese.

5. Cook at 375 for 35 minutes and then let cool for 10 minutes before you cut into it. Don't skip the cooling process or it won't set properly. Believe me I tried. :)

Spinach, Sun-Dried Tomato, Parmesan and Mozzarella Quiche

1/2 box frozen spinach, thawed and water completely pressed out

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped (press out the oil first)

6 eggs

2-ish Tablespoons heavy cream

white pepper

garlic powder

onion powder

1/2 bag Mozzarella cheese

1/2 bag *good* Parmesan cheese (don't use crap or the quiche will taste like crap :)

1 frozen deep dish pie crust *again thaw while you prep the other ingredients*

1. Beat the eggs with the heavy cream using a hand mixer until foamy.

2. Add in spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, white pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and all of the Mozzarella.

3. Pour into pie crust and top with the Parmesan cheese

4. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes and allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

I hope you enjoy these "recipes" and again sorry about the whole measuring thing... One day I will learn not to just grab bottles and start throwing ingredients together.