Saturday, December 5, 2009

Busy day = crockpot!

I really think there is nothing better than having a great meal without slaving over it all day. This past Sunday we had big plans - we had to run and errand, put up our outdoor Christmas lights, and get our tree up and house decorated. I knew I wouldn't be in the mood to put a lot of effort into dinner so I gave this recipe I found on the Crock Pot website a whirl. Delicious!

Sweet & Saucy Pork Chops


2 tablespoons olive oil

4 pork chops, bone in

2 cups onions, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup water

1 cup ketchup

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 cup brown sugar

Heat olive oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Add pork chops and brown for 3 minutes on each side.

Remove pork chops and place in slow cooker. Add onion to skillet and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Reduce heat to low. Add garlic, water, ketchup, cider vinegar, soy sauce, mustard, and brown sugar. Stir until the brown sugar is dissolved. Pour sauce over pork chops.

Cook on Low for 8-10 hours.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

For the love of Pioneer Woman!

I am positive every food blogger knows about Pioneer Woman and venerates her as the top dog of the food blogging world. I've made several of her recipes in the past months or so, just been on a Pioneer Woman kick so I wanted to rave about some of the out-of-this-world goodness I have tried lately.

First up, her Baked Lemon Pasta. Run, don't walk, to your nearest store and pick up the ingredients for this! It was delicious and even better as leftovers, if you could imagine that! I actually cut this recipe down and made it as a side dish to tilapia for dinner one night. I would, however, happily make this as a main dish as filed on her site. Yum, yum, YUM!

Next up, I tried her Crash Hot Potatoes. Hello, easy potato insane goodness! Best part of this recipe? It's insanely versatile and would go with anything. I made this as a side to chicken but had extra so I saved them and used them as breakfast potatoes when I made "brinner"(aka breakfast-for-dinner) later that week.

Of course I caved and got Pioneer Woman's cookbook. I couldn't help myself. I also got a copy for my sister-in-law who is really trying to get more into cooking and baking. The pictures and the great stories make it great for someone just getting started.

So far I've tried two recipes from the cookbook: PW's Potato Skins & Edna Mae's Sour Cream Pancakes. If you have the book I highly recommend both! My husband said the potato skins were better than from a restaurant! Not a bad compliment whatsoever.

Sweet potatoes. Oh how I love thee!

I wish I could tell you why I never liked sweet potatoes up until about 3 or 4 years ago. I just didn't. Maybe it was the color, or some crazy pre-conceived notion from when I tried them when I was younger. Perhaps it was because my mother never made them, not being a sweet potato lover herself. Or even because probably most of the sweet potato recipes I'd tasted were very sweet - maybe TOO sweet?

I can't tell you when or where my love for sweet potatoes began but I can tell you my husband fell in love with them around the same time. So now it's nothing out of the ordinary to have sweet potatoes as a side dish to dinner. The other day I decided I wanted to try something a little different than my usual roasted sweet potatoes or my run of the mill mashed sweet potatoes. That's when I came across this little diddy on I love it because it can be easily put together in very little time with ingredients I already have in the house. And I also love it because it's a little sweet and a little savory. As I mentioned above, I think one thing that had turned me off to sweet potatoes in the past were those uber sweet, marshmallow topped casseroles. I'm more of a sweet and savory sweet potato gal, and so is my hubby.

This recipe was seriously delicious and will make it into my typical rotation for all of the reasons mentioned above Also to save time, I just took out my potato masher instead of putting the potatoes through my food processor. I guess that means my potatoes ended up more mashed and less "whipped" but nonetheless they were out of this world!

Honey Mustard Whipped Sweet Potatoes

1 tablespoon margarine
1/2 cup sliced onion
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup low-salt chicken broth

Melt margarine in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sweet potatoes; sauté 5 minutes. Add mustard and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are very tender.

Place sweet potato mixture in a food processor; process until smooth.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Super soup!

I've never made it a secret in this blog that I love my crockpot. Nothing better than throwing a bunch of stuff in it and hours later a great meal being all ready for you.

This time of the year I also love soup so when I came across this particular recipe for a crockpot soup I couldn't wait to make it! I am so glad I did, this came out delicious. The only thing I would suggest is using bigger than a 4.0 - 4.5 quart crockpot, I used mine and the soup came nearly to the top of it while cooking, and I feel this made the cook time longer than indicated in the recipe. Next time if I chose to do this full recipe again I would make it in my larger 5.5 quart crockpot instead. But, this was still delicious! I also made bread bowls as mentioned in the recipe. Nothing better than hearty soup & crusty bread!

Hearty Potato Soup

6 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (2 1/2 pounds)
2 medium onions, diced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups fat-free half-and-half
Italian Bread Bowls
Garnish: fresh celery leaves

Combine first 8 ingredients in a 4 1/2-quart slow cooker.

Cook, covered, at HIGH 3 hours or until vegetables are tender.

Stir together flour and half-and-half; stir into soup. Cover and cook 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve in Italian Bread Bowls, and garnish, if desired

Chicken Rollatini

I was watching the Food Network a couple of weeks ago when Robin Miller came on and made this delicious recipe. My husband and I love spinach and we LOVE goat cheese. This could not have been a better match!

For this recipe I used whole wheat seasoned bread crumbs for the first time. I had bought a cannister a couple of weeks ago when they were on sale and I had a coupon specifically for the whole wheat variety! Quite tasty actually, and aside from the color, one would never know they were whole wheat!

Chicken Rollatini with Ditalini


Cooking spray
2 pounds ditalini pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
8 ounces thinly sliced ham
1 cup baby spinach leaves, chopped
4 ounces goat cheese
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

Cook ditalini according to package directions. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper.

Arrange chicken breasts on a flat surface. Top each piece of chicken with ham. Mix together spinach and goat cheese and spread over ham. Starting from the shorter end, roll up chicken and secure with wooden picks. Brush mustard all over chicken rolls and then roll in bread crumbs.

Heat remaining oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken rolls and cook until golden brown on all sides.

Transfer chicken to oven and bake 20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Serve chicken with half of the ditalini. Reserve extra ditalini for another dish

Monday, October 12, 2009

Chicken, let me count the ways....

Chicken is the universal meat when you think about it. Everything "tastes like chicken." Chicken is most people's "go to" meal when faced with picky eaters. At weddings there is always an option for chicken as a meal. Chicken is a crowd pleaser so why is it so easy to get stuck in a rut when cooking it? Is it just me or does anyone else feel like you sometimes start relying on the same recipes, or same style of recipes when it comes to chicken?

A few weeks ago I had bought a whole chicken on sale and didn't want to reach for my usual method of seasoning/marinating so I did a little searching on, which, by the way, has really become one of my favorite food websites to use. I found this recipe for Baked Curry Chicken. It called for a whole chicken cut up, but, I skipped that part and cooked the chicken whole making sure to make sure the marinade covered the bird well.

The reviews on the website for this recipe were high on praise and I had to agree! The chicken came out so moist and very tasty. Most importantly it was different from my usual whole chicken recipe. I later made chicken stock from the bones and with some of that leftover marinade added in to flavor it. Delicious!

Baked Curry Chicken


1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup yellow mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 (3 1/2- to 4-lb.) whole chicken, cut up

Stir together first 5 ingredients in a shallow dish until blended. Dip chicken in honey mixture, 1 piece at a time, thoroughly coating all sides. Arrange chicken, skin side up, in a single layer in a 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; pour remaining honey mixture over chicken.

Bake at 375° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until done.


A few weeks back I was watching an episode of "Grill It!" with Bobby Flay. I love Bobby Flay with his unique flavor offerings and combinations but ironically this time the recipe that caught my attention the most was one for a Rose Sangria Spritzer.

My sister-in-law was coming over later that week and we were going to have some girlie time together. I had planned on grilling some pizzas for dinner and thought this sangria would be a nice addition to our dinner since we both enjoy rose wine. There was really no way of going wrong.

We both loved this and it was so easy to make. I did not add club soda to it since it was optional and kept the recipe as is. Delicious! I knew Bobby would never steer me in a wrong direction!!

Rose Sangria Spritzer


2 bottles cold rose wine

1 green apple, thinly sliced

1 orange, halved and thinly sliced

1 pint fresh raspberries

Simple syrup, to taste

Ice cubes

Fresh mint leaves, for garnish

Club soda, cold, optional

Combine wine, apple, orange, raspberries in a pitcher, add simple syrup, to taste. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day. Serve over ice, garnish with mint and top with a few splashes of club soda, if desired.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

This recipe should just be named....


My friend Danielle of Make No Little Meals emailed me this recipe a couple weeks ago saying I HAD to try it. Right she was! If you are into the sweet/salty combo this is the recipe for you! I will make these again....and again....and again!

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars

(from Food and Wine)

2 cups all-purpose flour

2. 1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

One 12-ounce bag bittersweet chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups mini pretzels, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons chocolate sprinkles

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper, allowing overhang on the 2 long ends.

2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat the butter with both sugars at medium speed until light, 1 minute. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients. Stir in the chips and pretzels.

3. Spread the batter in the pan and top with the sprinkles. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden; the center will still be a little gooey. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool completely.

4. Run the tip of a knife around the side of the pan and lift the bar out using the parchment paper. Cut into 24 squares and serve.

Our summer '09 potato side dish staple

This year I made my grilled potatoes time and time again as a side dish to meals. I've even served these to company! So I finally decided to write down the recipe and document it for the blog!!!

The olive oil mixture is - in essence - what my mixture is for my breakfast homefries. But that's another recipe I need to write down one of these days.

I actually got the idea for these potatoes after my aunt cooked some on the grill with some olive oil on them. I decided to take things one step further and, as Emeril would say, "kick things up a notch." They are so delicious and easy. Microwaving the potatoes in advance cuts down on the cook time on the grill so things don't overcook. But in my opinion, you want to get a little grilled crust on these - it's amazing what a great taste grilling can give any sort of food!

I've made this recipe with white potatoes and red potatoes. There are merits to either type so I suggest them both equally if you are going to give these a try!

Robin’s Grilled Potatoes

4 medium sized potatoes (I’ve done this with both white & red potatoes, comes out great with either type)

3 – 4 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ - 2 tablespoons yellow mustard

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Dash of salt

¼ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon garlic powder

Scrub potatoes clean, leaving skin on. Pierce each potato several times with a fork and place in microwave for 5-8 minutes or until potatoes are nearly fully cooked (time in microwave will depend on the size & type of potato you use). Let potatoes cool down a bit.

In the meantime, combine the remainder of ingredients in a small bowl.

When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut each potato lengthwise down the middle. Coat each potato generously in olive oil mixture, saving any remaining mixture. Let potatoes “marinate” with mixture on for 10-15 minutes.

Preheat grill to medium heat. Place potatoes on grill, cut side down on grates for 3-4 minutes, then flip over (to skin side). While skin side is cooking, baste cut side of the potatoes with any remaining olive oil mixture. After 3-4 minutes, flip potatoes back over to cut side down on grill grates, baste skin side again if there is any remaining olive oil mixture. Close grill cover and cook for another 2-4 minutes until cut side of the potato is nice and crusty.

Grilling season may be winding down...

...but we're still "getting our grill on."

I watched Giada make this recipe on her show the week before last. It just sounded TOO good not to try, and also perfect timing. I'd just taken chicken breasts out of the freezer that morning to make in a couple of nights for dinner.

We loved this BBQ sauce. I wish I had made extra so I could bottle it or something! It was delicious and I can't wait to try it on steak!

Chicken or Steak with Balsamic BBQ Sauce


For the Balsamic BBQ sauce:

1 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup ketchup

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the chicken or steak:

4 pieces chicken (any combination of breast or leg-and-thigh pieces) or 4 pieces of New York strip or Club strip steak

Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the BBQ sauce:

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until all the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by 1/3, about 15 to 20 minutes.

For the chicken or steak:

Place a grill pan over medium heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Lightly coat with some of the BBQ sauce using a pastry brush. Place the meat on the grill. Place the remaining BBQ sauce, still in the small saucepan, over low heat or on the edge of a gas or charcoal grill and allow to gently simmer while the meat cooks.

Cook the chicken about 8 minutes per side. Cook the steaks starting at about 4 minutes per side until a meat thermometer reads the desired temperature, 120 degrees F for medium rare, 135 degrees F for medium (about 6 minutes per side), 155 degrees F for well done (about 9 minutes per side). Continually brush the meat with BBQ sauce every few minutes. Remove the meat from the grill and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Serve with the heated BBQ sauce alongside.

Alternately, the chicken can be baked in the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the chicken skin side up in a baking dish and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven and spoon the BBQ sauce all over the top of the chicken. Return the baking dish to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kabob time!

This past Labor Day weekend we had some very good friends over for an afternoon/evening of fun. It was just a small crowd of us (5 people) and I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather and definitely do something on the grill. It may be September but we grill here well into October as long s the weather cooperates!

I'd mentioned to my husband a couple weeks earlier how we hadn't done any kind of kabobs on the grill this season at all. When we made plans with our friends to come over this past weekend I looked at it as the perfect opportunity to have grilled kabobs. Any bigger of a crowd I'd question the amount of skewering time (I'd rather be socializing with our friends) but for that many people I could handle it!

I decided to do beef and chicken, alternating with green peppers, yellow summer squash, tomatoes, and onions. They were a thing of beauty and I will eventually have some really fantastic pictures of them for you as our good friend Matt has gotten into photography the past few months and was kind enough to take some before and after pictures for me.

I used two different marinades - a light one for the chicken, tomatoes, and squash and a little bolder flavored one for the beef, onions and peppers. It was a nice mix when all of the food was together. So here are the respective marinades I used, both courtesy of

Chicken Vegetable Kabobs

4 skinned and boned chicken breast halves
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder
8 (8-inch) wooden or metal skewers

Cut chicken into 2- x 1-inch strips.

Whisk together 1/4 cup white wine, orange juice, olive oil, and next 4 ingredients, reserving 1/4 cup for basting. Pour remaining marinade into a shallow dish or large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; add chicken strips. Cover or seal, and chill 2 hours, turning chicken occasionally.

Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes to prevent burning.

Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade.

Thread chicken and vegetables onto 8 (8-inch) skewers.

Grill chicken, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350° to 400°) 15 to 20 minutes or until done, turning occasionally and basting with reserved marinade.

Marinated Beef Kabobs with Vegetables

1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 (3 1/2-pound) eye of round roast, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
12 small whole onions
1 pound large whole mushrooms
2 green bell peppers, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

Stir together first 10 ingredients; reserve 1/2 cup marinade, and chill. Pour remaining marinade into a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Add meat cubes; seal and chill 8 hours. Drain, discarding marinade.

Thread meat and vegetables onto 12-inch skewers.

Grill, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat 16 minutes, basting with reserved marinade and turning often

Way behind, once again

Well I'm just going to stop apologizing and just admit that yes, I made this recipe well over a month ago and am only blogging about it now....

This was a recipe shared by one of the lovely ladies on my Nest board. The ingredients sounded unique and I wasn't sold on it until one of the other ladies tried the recipe and LOVED it. Between a rave review and my curiousity I just had to try this.

And let me just say, I am SO glad I did! This is one fabulous marinade. My pork chops came out so juicy and tender and flavorful! Anyone who did not know the contents of the marinade would never guess coffee and molasses were two of the key ingredients! I highly recommend this one!

Molasses-Coffee Marinated Pork Chops

1 Cup cooled strong coffee
6 Ounces molasses
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 Cloves minced garlic
1 Teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 Teaspoon ground ginger
6 sprigs - 8 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 Teaspoon black pepper
4 (1" thick each) bone in pork chop

Place all of the ingredients into a 1 gallon zip top bag, seal, and shake to combine. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Preheat grill to medium-high.

Remove the pork chops from the marinade. Transfer the marinade to a small saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-high, and boil gently, stirring often, until reduced to about 1/2 cup liquid, 12-15 minutes. Remove the thyme stems after the glaze has reduced.

Meanwhile, grill pork chops 3-4 minutes per side or until they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Allow the pork chops to rest 4-5 minutes before serving with the glaze.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Warning: Crazy lady baking in 90+ degree weather

Yeah. That would be me.

I don't know what came over me the other day. We have had quite an odd summer in New England, a lot of rain, and the typical hot humid summer days only really began coming with frequency the past two weeks or so.

So the hot weather is finally here, we are struggling to keep our 1st floor of the house cool with one window a/c unit and what do I decide I would like to do? You got it: bake a batch of cookies!

In my defense, I only baked half a batch so it was 1 pan and done. Also I threw these right in when I started to preheat and adjusted the cooking time slightly to make up for it (it really was not a huge adjustment either). The urge could not be controlled and I'm glad it couldn't because these suckers came out GREAT!

Oatmeal Cinnamon Chips Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1-2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) HERSHEY'S Cinnamon Chips
3/4 cup raisins

Heat oven to 350°F.

Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in bowl until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Combine flour and baking soda; add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in oats, cinnamon chips and raisins (batter will be stiff). Drop by heaping teaspoons unto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes on until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. About 4 dozen.

BAR VARIATION: Spread batter into lightly greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake at 350°F. for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool; cut into bars. About 3 dozen bars.

Bacon? Did you say bacon?

I just mentioned in my previous post that last week we had my sister-in-law and her boyfriend over for dinner. Her boyfriend LOVES bacon, and, for the record - so does my husband. He says I don't make enough bacon. I, on the other hand, can take or leave bacon so he's probably right that I don't make it enough!

When I decided on a BBQ themed dinner, I thought cornbread was in order but then I thought about how to incorporate bacon into the meal as well. The beans in my previous post took care of that to an extent, but I figured I'd search for a bacon cornbread recipe just to mix things up. Lo and behold I found this incredibly quick & easy recipe which was a hit. Between the 4 of us all but 1 piece was eaten by the end of the night!

Cheese & Bacon Cornbread

1 package corn muffin mix (i.e., Jiffy)
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
6 slices crisply cooked and crumbled bacon
1 egg
Milk, as label directs

Empty corn muffin mix into a medium mixing bowl. Save about 1 tablespoon of shredded cheese and bacon for topping; stir remaining cheese and bacon into muffin mix. Mis in egg and milk, following label directions.

Pour batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square baking dish. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes; sprinkle reserved cheese and bacon over top and bake 10 minutes longer, or until cornbread browned and firm.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Yes. I'm a slacker.

At least I admit it!!!

Summer 2009 has been a fairly busy one, not as busy as last summer when I was a bridesmaid in 2 weddings, a matron of honor in another - that meant 3 bridal showers, 2 bachelorette parties, 3 rehearsal nights. Oh and did I mention there were 3 baby showers last summer too?

This summer has been decidedly more quiet as far as "big events" like those go, but we've been consistently busy on the weekends. I've been sticking to a lot of tried and true recipes and other meals I just know how to make, but I have been trying new things here and there. The frequency of new recipes though, has definitely decreased as we've been on a tighter budget. I love to cook and bake, but it can get pricey. But make no mistake about it - I still love to cook and bake, I'm just trying to do it more frugally than before!

Anyway that's enough of my ramblings - now onto the recipe! Last week we had my sister-in-law and her boyfriend over for dinner. I made a BBQ themed dinner - pulled pork, corn on the cob, cornbread, and baked beans.

The baked bean recipe below is a great "shortcut" recipe. It uses canned beans rather than dried ones which cuts down on a lot of prep time, and for the most part includes a lot of "run of the mill" ingredients you probably have in your house already. I left out the chipotle in this recipe and I know that probably takes out the "blazin'" part of this recipe. But it was a great recipe nonetheless!

Blazin' Baked Beans

1/4 pound finely diced bacon slices (raw)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
5 (16-ounce) cans navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 (18-ounce) jar low-sodium barbecue sauce
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan, and set bacon aside. Add onion to drippings in pan; sauté 3 minutes.
Combine bacon, onion, and remaining ingredients except cooking spray in a large bowl; toss well. Spoon the bean mixture into a 13 x 9-inch or 2 1/2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hamming it up!!

I'm beginning to realize I'm pretty behind on blogging about recipes these days.

This is one I made, well, over a month ago! I had bought a small ham at the market at a great price. Ham's not something I really think to cook unless it's a holiday or special occasion but this little guy was good for a nice meal for my husband & I and enough for some yummy leftovers. We love leftovers here at this house!

Anyway I'm leaving this recipe in tact with the original measurements. Obviously I scaled it down since my ham was not that large. This was a fantastic recipe - so flavorful, easy to make, and the ham was so moist when it came out of the oven. It's a definite keeper!

Fresh Baked Ham with Whisky and Cola Glaze

1 (8-pound) fresh ham (shank and leg of pork)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon Essence, recipe follows
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Whole cloves
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup whisky
4 cups cola drink
Wild Pecan Rice, Bacon, and Tasso Dressing, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

With a sharp knife, puncture and score the skin of the ham, making parallel 1/2-inch-deep incisions. Turn the ham and score again to make a grid-like pattern.

In a small bowl combine the salt, Essence, pepper, and cayenne. Rub evenly all over the ham. Place the ham, fatty side up, in a large roasting pan. Place 1 clove where the lines intersect on the ham. Rub the sugar evenly over the ham, pressing to pack. Pour 2 cups of cola into the bottom of the roasting pan and bake for 1 hour. In a container, combine the whisky and the remaining 2 cups of cola.

Baste the ham with the whiskey and cola and continue to bake, basting every 15 minutes with the whisky and coke mixture and pan juices, until the ham is cooked through, the skin is crisp and dark, and a meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Remove from the oven and let rest at least 20 minutes before carving. To serve, slice the meat thinly across the grain and arrange on a platter.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):

* 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
* 2 tablespoons salt
* 2 tablespoons garlic powder
* 1 tablespoon black pepper
* 1 tablespoon onion powder
* 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
* 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
* 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

Steak - it's what was for dinner

I don't buy a lot of steak here, typically because it's pricier and also because red meat isn't the healthiest thing out there. But every now and again when it's on sale I'll buy us some nice hearty steaks.

Given that it's the summer time I of course wanted to grill these and am always looking for a new marinade recipe to try. This is an Applebee's copycat recipe that I do have to say came out great. The only thing I would change next time is to marinate it a bit longer. I had it marinating about 5 hours and I think I'd prefer to do it at least 8 hours or even overnight just so the steaks soaked up more of that delicious flavor.

Applebee’s Bourbon Street Steak

1/2 Cup steak sauce
1/4 Cup bourbon whiskey
1 Tablespoon honey
2 Teaspoon mustard
4 (10 oz. each) steak

Combine all the ingredients except the steaks in a baking dish or resealable plastic storage bag; mix well. Add the steaks; cover (or seal) and refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight.

Preheat the grill to medium−high heat. Grill the steaks for 12-15 minutes, or until desired doneness, turning them over halfway through the grilling.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

S'more please!!!

As many of us do at this time of year, we had multiple 4th of July cookouts to hit this past weekend. I always like to have something in hand to bring from house to house and usually it is something in a dessert form because, well, dessert is one of the major food groups. Right?

My friend Cathy actually had made these a few weeks back and I had fallen in love with these while at her house one day. That's when I realized it was the perfect dessert to bring to one of the cookouts!

We were not there at the end of the night, however, I was told the last piece of this dessert was fodder for bickering over who would get it. Ha!

Warm Toasted Marshmallow S'more Bars

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup butter or margarine, melted
3 cups milk chocolate chips (18 oz) (I used semi-sweet here)
4 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, stir together cookie mix and crumbs. Stir in melted butter until soft dough forms. Press into ungreased 13x9-inch pan.

Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until set. Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Let stand 3 to 5 minutes or until chocolate begins to melt. Spread chocolate evenly over crust.

Set oven control to broil. Sprinkle marshmallows over melted chocolate. Broil with top 4 to 5 inches from heat 20 to 30 seconds or until marshmallows are toasted. (Watch closely; marshmallows will brown quickly.) Cool 10 minutes. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Serve warm. Store any remaining bars tightly covered.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

An old standby

Here's an old standby recipe I made recently that I've made several times by now because it's just so darn easy and a nice twist on a typical from-the-box brownie.

I don't know where the recipe originated as it was given to me by a friend a few years ago, however, I have seen it in several different variations on different websites since, like

And sorry, no picture again. I'm beginning to feel like the reason I am not taking pictures is that I have an inferiority complex. Some of you take amazing food pictures and I'm probably a bit envious of that!

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

1 Package brownie mix
1/4 Cup vegetable oil
3 Tablespoon water
1 egg
20 miniature peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Combine brownie mix, oil, water, and egg in large bowl. Stir 50 strokes w/ a spoon.

Place paper cupcake cups in pan. Fill each cup to about 3/4 full. Then place peanut butter cup in center of each cupcake. Bake 30-35 minutes. Let peanut butter cup cool and re-harden before serving.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bad blogger

Yes, I am horrible blogger who has been cooking and baking and trying new recipes and not blogging about them. Or taking pictures for that matter. Here's one a tried a few weeks ago. It was good, not great, but good enough to make these again. They were easy and the Fiber One cereal made me not feel so bad about eating them.

Double-Chocolate Muffins

Prep Time:15 min
Start to Finish:35 min
Makes:12 muffins

1 cup Fiber One® original bran cereal
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 egg
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup Gold Medal® whole wheat flour
1/2 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375°F. Place paper baking cup in each of 12 regular-size muffin cups. Place cereal in resealable food-storage plastic bag; seal bag and crush with rolling pin or meat mallet (or crush in food processor).

In medium bowl, mix cereal and buttermilk; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in oil and egg. Stir in remaining ingredients except chocolate chips. Stir in chocolate chips. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately remove from pan. Serve warm

Thursday, May 21, 2009

One more Easter straggler - dessert!

With all of the cooking and cleaning and general preparation I do for Easter, I'm all about finding a simple dessert and letting my mom make the others.

I have found you can really never go wrong with a cheesecake. Cheesecake is always a big hit with my husband, nevermind eeryone else. And when you are short on time and focusing on serving 10 guests a huge brunch, there's nothing better than a 3-step cheesecake!

This cheesecake was easy....delicious....and addicting. I can't be held responsible if you want to make this over and over again!

Philadelphia 3-Step Toffee Crunch Cheesecake

2 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
4 chocolate-covered English toffee bars (1.4 oz. each), chopped (about 1 cup), divided
1 HONEY MAID Graham Pie Crust (6 oz.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs; mix just until blended. Stir in 3/4 cup of the chopped toffee bars.

Pour into crust. Sprinkle with remaining chopped toffee bars.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.

Bruschetta Chicken Bake

This is an easy one from but one that even my tomato-hating hubby enjoyed. Sometimes I can sneak that kind of stuff into his meals and he'll like it! Can't beat when that happens!

If you are looking for a quick one dish meal for a weeknight, this is it!

Bruschetta Chicken Bake

1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 pkg. (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken
1/2 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 cup KRAFT 2% Milk Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray a 11x7-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Place the chicken in a layer into the bottom of the baking dish. Stir together tomatoes, water, garlic, and stuffing mix in a large bowl; set aside to soften. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the chicken, then sprinkle with dried basil. Spread the softened stuffing mixture on top.

Bake uncovered until the chicken cubes have turned white and are no longer pink in the center, about 30 minutes.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Still catching up on Easter recipes....

Every Easter for our Easter brunch I make a French Toast casserole of some sort. You would not believe how many French toast casserole recipes there are out there. As a lover of French toast I have no problem with trying out a new one from time to time.

This recipe, from, is defintely a keeper. I used cinnamon swirl bread instead of cinnamon raisin bread since I had some non-raisin lovers in our crowd of guests but the end result was delicious. Everyone really seemed to enjoy it.

I used regular eggs in this recipe and just online to figure out the conversion of egg substitute to real eggs. I also replaced the sugar with Splenda.

Stuffed French Toast

24 (1-ounce) slices cinnamon-raisin bread
Cooking spray
3 cups 1% low-fat milk
2 cups egg substitute, divided
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 (8-ounce) block fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
Bottled cinnamon-sugar (optional)

Trim crusts from bread. Arrange half of the bread in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Combine milk, 1 1/2 cups egg substitute, half-and-half, and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Pour half of milk mixture over bread in dish.

Combine 1/2 cup egg substitute, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, and cheeses in a food processor or blender; process until smooth. Pour cream cheese mixture over moist bread in dish. Top with remaining bread; pour remaining milk mixture over bread. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Uncover and bake at 350° for 55 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before

Grilin' & Chillin'

It's that time of year again - the nice weather is here and that means one thing. It's time to grill!!!

My husband and I officially broke out the grill again for the season this past weekend. Saturday night we had burgers, there is really nothing like burger hot off the grill!
Last night we had pork tenderloin on the grill and it was fabulous! I swear this must be one of the best marinades on the planet. I actually have used this recipe in the past, prior to my blogging days, and dug it back up out of the woodwork because I remembered it being so good.
The pork was tender, moist, and flavorful. The irony of it all? This recipe is from the Betty Crocker website!

Grilled Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 pork tenderloins (about 3/4 pound each)

Mix all ingredients except pork. Place pork in resealable plastic food-storage bag or shallow glass or plastic dish. Pour marinade over pork; turn pork to coat with marinade. Seal bag or cover dish and refrigerate at least 8 hours but no longer than 24 hours, turning pork occasionally.

Brush grill rack with vegetable oil. If using charcoal grill, place drip pan directly under grilling area, and arrange coals around edge of firebox. Heat coals or gas grill for indirect heat.

Remove pork from marinade; reserve marinade. Cover and grill pork over drip pan or over unheated side of gas grill and 4 to 5 inches from medium heat 25 to 30 minutes, brushing occasionally with marinade and turning once, until pork is slightly pink in center. Cut pork across grain into thin slices.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Easter potatoes

This year, for the 3rd year in a row, my husband and I hosted Easter brunch. I love how Easter lends itself to a brunch since, well, our families love them some brunch! There were 10 of us this year.

I made this recipe 2 Easters ago and it was hit. I've made it since then in a non-brunch setting as well. It's always been a hit. To be honest I'm not sure why I haven't blogged this recipe before now....

I use low fat everything in this (sour cream, cream of chicken soup, shredded cheese) and it's still ridiculously rich - so you can save yourself a few calories if you'd like! Also the goldfish cracker topping was my idea. While I'm sure the breadcrumb topping (as the original recipe called for) would be fabulous in this recipe, one time I was low on breadcrumbs and decided a cracker topping would be just as delicious. I used some goldfish crackers and let me tell you, it's a nice compliment of flavors! The original recipe also calls for just cheddar cheese, I used a combination of cheddar & mozzarella, just my personal preference

Heavenly Potatoes
(original recipe from

5 Pounds cut into 6 pieces each red potato
16 Ounces sour cream
1/2 Cup plus 1/4 cup melted butter
1 Can cream of chicken soup
1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 Cups shredded mozzarella
1/4 Cup chopped green onion (scallions)
1 Dash to taste salt
1 Dash to taste black pepper
1 1/2 Cups finely crushed parmesan flavored goldfish crackers Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 9x13 baking dish. Place potatoes in large pot of water, and bring to a boil. Boil until slightly tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and transfer to large bowl. Mix sour cream, butter, cream of chicken soup, cheese, green onions, salt, and pepper with the potatoes. Spread mixture in baking dish and sprinkle with Goldfish

Monday, April 20, 2009

Yummy & healthy...

That combo isn't one that goes together 100% of the time, but this recipe fits the bill. I found this recipe on and it is delicious and easy.

Creamy Chicken & Pasta Bake

1-1/2 cups multigrain rotini pasta, uncooked
1 small bunch broccoli, cut into florets (about 3 cups)
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 oz. (1/4 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA 1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese, cubed
1 cup KRAFT 2% Milk Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
2 Tbsp. KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese

Heat oven to 375ºF. Cook pasta in large saucepan as directed on package, adding broccoli for the last 3 min.

Meanwhile, heat large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 min. or until no longer pink, stirring frequently. Stir in broth; simmer 3 min. or until chicken is done. Add cream cheese; cook and stir on low heat 1 min. or until cream cheese is melted. Stir in 1/2 cup mozzarella.

Drain pasta and broccoli. Add to chicken mixture; mix lightly. Spoon into 8-inch sq. baking dish; cover.

Bake 15 min. or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Bake, uncovered, 3 min. or until melted. Let stand 5 min.

Super shrimp

And super simple!

I don't cook with fish or seafood a lot, but I'm trying to get better. Lately I've ventured into shrimp, making my own version of paella about a month and 1/2 ago (the synthesization of 3 different recipes) and then about 2 weeks ago I made this dish that I found on The best part about this recipe was not only that it was easy, but that it had simple tastes that altogether were fantastic together. This will definitely continue to make it on the meal rotation at our house.

Lemon-Shrimp Couscous Risotto

2 1/2 cups water
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped green onions
1 cup uncooked couscous
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces medium shrimp, cooked and peeled
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Simmer 2 1/2 cups water and broth; keep warm. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onions 2 minutes. Add couscous. Cook 2 minutes; stir constantly. Stir in 1 cup broth mixture, rind, salt, and pepper; cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is nearly absorbed.

Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time; stir constantly until each portion is absorbed before adding next. Add shrimp. Cook 2 minutes; stir constantly. Remove from heat; stir in cheese and parsley.

Coming out of hiding

Well I have obviously been in hiding, and even I didn't realize it's been well over a month since I last posted. Time really does fly. I have no good excuse for my lack of blogging, in fact I have been cooking and baking and trying new recipes. I just haven't been motivated to take pictures of my food, or blog.

But I do have some recipes to share, unfortunately sans pictures. But maybe a few new entries is what I need to get back on the proverbial horse!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Another Carb-tastic blog entry....

I've noticed a pattern with my last few blog posts - CARBS! Oh well, I love carbs and make no bones about it, one of these days I'll actually post something besides cookies, muffins, and breads but for now I'm still on this carb merry-go-round.

This past weekend I tried my hand at another recipe from my Food Network Magazine - "Almost-Famous Soft Pretzels" which the article touted were the closest you would get to an Auntie Anne pretzel! I just had to try it.

All I can say is, wow, these came out pretty darn good! My husband and I don't like salt on the outside of our pretzels so I skipped that step and dramatically reduced the butter on top of the pretzels after baking and they were still great. I just wish I had better pretzel making technique (example below) but hey, they could have come out looking worse I figure, plus the taste made up it anyway!

Almost-Famous Soft Pretzels
(from Food Network Magazine)

1 cup milk
1 pkg active dry yeast
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 1/4 cups AP flour, plus more for kneading
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/3 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons coarse salt

Warm the milk in a saucepan until it's about 110 degrees; pour into a medium bowl and sprinkle in yeast. Let the yeast sofen, about 2 minutes; stir in brown sugar and 1 cup flour with wooden spoon. Dice 2 tablespoons butter and soften; stir into the mix. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour and fine salt to make a sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth but slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and grease large baking sheet. Punch the dough to deflate t, then turn out ontolightly floured surface. Divide dough into 6 pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms fo your hands into a 30 inch rope holing the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Form each rope into a pretzel shape.

Dissolve 3 baking soda in 3 cups of warm water in a shallow baking dish. Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution then arrange onthe prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake until golden 10-12 minutes.

Melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter in a shallow dish. Dip hot pretzels in the butter, turning to coat; place on a warm wire rack to let excess butter drip of. Serve the pretzels warm.

Irish Soda Bread

I've always wanted to make an Irish Soda bread and with St. Patrick's Day approaching I thought there was really no better time. I've had this recipe from bookmarked for quite some time and finally decided to use it! I thought it came out great! I used 2 9x5 inch pans and cut the bake time down to about 45 minutes.

Irish Soda Bread I

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 pint sour cream
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease two 8x4 inch loaf pans.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, sour cream and raisins and mix until just combined. Distribute batter evenly between the two pans.

Bake loaves at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 1 hour.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Not a good memory lately....

...but I still have a recipe.

I yet again have tried a new recipe and failed to take a picture of it. Sometimes I think I get so excited with how well something comes out that taking a picture is the last thing on my mind, all I want to do is eat!

Despite not having a picture, I am going to blog about this recipe because it was great! I loved the little crumb topping on these muffins. The only change I made was to add a splash or so of extra milk because the batter seemed a tad too thick, this may be because I was using 1% milk so I figured an extra splash wouldn't hurt!

Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Heat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Grease bottoms only of 12 muffin cups or line with baking cups.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, chocolate chips, and salt; mix well. In a small bowl, combine milk, oil and egg; blend well. Add dry ingredients all at once; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened (batter will be lumpy).

Fill cups 2/3 full. Sprinkle tops of muffins before baking with a combination of 3 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoon brown sugar.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 1 minute before removing from pan. Serve warm.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sausage & Vegetable Stew

I recently received my first issue of the Food Network Magazine in the mail, courtesy of Joelen of Joelen's Culinary Adventures and one of her blog giveaways. I must say this magazine is fabulous and there are so many recipes in it that I want to try, as well as many helpful and informative articles.

One of the first recipes that really caught my eye was the one for Sausage & Vegetable Stew, it seems like such a fun twist on stew but also just a great comfort food for cold winter weather. I was really happy with the results of this recipe and this recipe also introduced me to parsnips for the first time ever! Gotta love trying something new!

I pretty much followed this recipe to the T, except I used regular potatoes instead of red, and turkey kielbasa to help with the healthiness factor. Overall a great recipe that I cannot wait to make again!

(Sorry, another recipe with no picture - I am really dropping the ball these days!)

Sausage & Vegetable Stew

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon paprika, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 ounces kielbasa, cut into small chunks
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into large chunks
14 ounces small red-skinned or new potatoes (6 to 8), quartered
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
3/4 cup sour cream
Crusty bread, for serving

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and glistening, about 6 minutes. Add the paprika and 1 teaspoon salt; cook until the oil >> turns deep red, about 1 minute. Add the flour and cook until just toasted, 30 more seconds. Immediately whisk in 4 cups water. Add the kielbasa, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer; cover and cook until the vegetables are tender and the broth has thickened, about 20 minutes. Add the vinegar and season with pepper.

Combine about half of the parsley with the sour cream in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the stew into bowls; top with the remaining parsley, a dollop of herbed sour cream and a sprinkle of paprika. Serve with bread.

Who doesn't love a turkey brine?

I have to confess, I've never made a turkey of any sort, but have always wanted to. When turkey breasts were on sale this week at the supermarket I figured I should give it a whirl and I figured I could also try it in my crockpot (I got the smallest one they had at my market and it just about fit).

I wanted to brine the turkey first, if there's one thing I know, it's that a turkey brine sure does make turkey that much more delicious! So I found this recipe on my favorite site of all - It was simple, easy, and the best part - I had all of the ingredients already in the house!

I also have to say it was a success making this turkey in my crockpot, I put it on for about 9 hours and it came out delicious!

Honey & Thyme Brined Turkey

7 cups water, divided
3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
6 thyme sprigs
1/2 cup kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups ice cubes
1 (6-pound) whole bone-in turkey breast, skinned
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Cooking spray
Fresh thyme sprigs (optional)

Combine 1 cup of water, 2 tablespoons pepper, and thyme sprigs in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and remove from heat. Pour into a large bowl; cool to room temperature. Add remaining 6 cups water, salt, honey, and sugar, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve. Pour salt mixture into a 2-gallon zip-top plastic bag. Add ice and turkey; seal. Refrigerate 24 hours, turning the bag occasionally. Remove turkey from bag, and discard brine. Pat turkey dry with paper towels.

Rub turkey with oil. Combine 1 tablespoon pepper and chopped thyme; rub over turkey.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Place the turkey on a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 1 hour or until thermometer inserted into thickest portion of the breast registers 180°. Place turkey on a platter. Cover with foil; let stand 15 minutes. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.

Bread - the great New England staple

Ever since I got my "Barefoot Contess at Home" cookbook, I have wante to try the Honey White Bread recipe in there. Since overcoming my fear of making bread and using that once-scary thing called yeast, I have bee wanting to make breads more often but always have found some kind of excuse not to.

A couple of weekends ago, I finally decided to dedicate the time to make Ina's recipe - I figured I really should know how to make a basic bread such as this one, especially living in New England - maybe I can avoid running out to the market everytime snow is predicted to get my bread and milk (I kid, I kid).

My end result was a tad dry but I think I know exactly what happened. In the end, where Ina specifically says do not add too much flour....I did. All in all the bread was still very tasty and we used it for sandwiches and toast all week and at least I know what I did wrong so that next time mine comes out as perfect looking as hers does in her cookbook!

Honey White Bread
(from Barefoot Contessa at Home)

1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
2 packages dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups warm whole milk (110 degrees)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
2 extra-large egg yolks
5-6 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Place warm water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Add yeast and sugar; stir and allow them to dissolve for 5 minutes.

Add the milk, butter, and honey. Mix on medium speed until blended. Add the egg yolks, 3 cups of flour and the salt. Mix on low speed for about 5 minutes. With the mixer still on low speed, add 2 more cups of flour. Raise the speed to medium and slowly add just enough of the remaining flour so the dough doesn’t stick to the bowl. Knead on medium speed for about 8 minutes, adding flour as necessary.

Dump dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand for a minute, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Grease a bowl with butter, put the dough in the bowl, then turn it over so the top is lightly buttered. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow to rise for 1 hour, until doubled in volume.

Grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans with butter. Divide the dough in half, roll each half into a loaf shape and place each in a prepared pan. Cover again with the damp towel and allow to rise again for an hour, until doubled in volume.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. When the dough is ready, brush the tops with egg white and bake for 40-45 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped. Turn them out of the pans and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

More cookies!

If you read this blog, you know that a cookie recipe is never far away....and more leftover chocolate chips from Christmas equals more cookies. This time I had chips to use of the mini variety!

I found this quick & easy recipe on Nestle's website, I had everything in the house, includding pudding mix so I was able to whip these up pretty quickly. Sorry for the lack of a picture!

Pudding Chip Cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 pkg. (4 serving size) instant vanilla, butterscotch or chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Combine flour and pudding mix in small bowl. Beat butter in large mixing bowl on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Beat in brown sugar and baking soda until well combined. Beat in egg and egg white. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop dough by rounded teaspoon 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool on baking sheets 2 to 3 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu

Sometimes you want an easy recipe that just looks a little on the fancier side for guests - this recipe fits that bill!

We recently had my parents and my husband's parents over for dinner to celebrate some birthdays. I got the idea for chicken cordon bleu but wanted an easy version of it due to the lack of time, and I found this one.
Instead of crushed croutons I just used seasoned bread crumbs which I already had in the house (saved me a trip to the market!) but I think it would be great with crushed croutons as well! I also used Provolone cheese instead of Swiss. That was a selfish decision on my part, I can't stand Swiss cheese but love Provolone. Either way this was a big hit and I'll definitely be making it again!

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu

Makes 6 servings

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 skinned and boned chicken breast halves
1 (5.5-ounce) box seasoned croutons, crushed
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons water
12 thinly sliced smoked ham slices
6 Swiss cheese slices
Honey mustard dressing (optional)
Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over chicken; set aside.

Combine seasoned crouton crumbs and Parmesan cheese in a large zip-top plastic bag. Whisk together egg whites and 2 tablespoons water in a shallow bowl.

Dip chicken in egg white mixture, and drain. Place 1 breast half in bag; seal and shake to coat. Remove to a lightly greased aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, and repeat with remaining chicken.

Bake at 450° for 20 minutes or until chicken is done. Top each breast half with 2 ham slices and 1 Swiss cheese slice. Bake 5 more minutes or until cheese melts. Serve with honey mustard dressing, if desired.

Sinfully delicious

That is how I would describe this pie.

I did not really do as much baking as I intended this Christmas, that coupled with the fact that I sometimes have trouble resisting a good sale, meant that I've had a lot of extra chocolate chips in the house. I did not want to bake cookies, I wanted to bake something similar, but different.

Off to the Very Best Baking website (powered by Nestle) where I found the below recipe, which is one my mom used to make often. By chance I also had a leftover frozen pie crust, that has gone unused, so it was perfect all around.

This is so delicious, it's sinful, and it should be with 1 1/2 sticks of butter in the recipe! But... sometimes one just has to live it up a little!

NESTLE Toll House Chocolate Chip Pie

1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell *
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup (6 oz.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts
Sweetened whipped cream or ice cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Beat eggs in large mixer bowl on high speed until foamy. Beat in flour, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat in butter. Stir in morsels and nuts. Spoon into pie shell.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Serve warm with whipped cream, if desired.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Crispy Ranch Chicken

Ok, so I made this recipe and it makes me laugh since "Ranch" is part of the title yet I kind of left the ranch part out!

As you will notice this recipe calls for 1 envelope of ranch salad dressing mix. I am not the biggest fan of ranch flavors so instead I just added some salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and dried Italian seasoning to my cripsy rice cereal / parmesan cheese mix. The result? It may have been "ranchless" but it sure was tasty, and fun to make!

Crispy Ranch Chicken

(from Great American Recipes)

2 cups crispy rice cereal
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 envelope (1 oz.) ranch salad dressing mix
2 egg whites, beaten
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (I used chicken breast)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Combine rice cereal, Parmesan cheese, and ranch salad dressing mix in a large bowl.

Place beaten egg whites in a medium bowl. Dip each chicken thigh into the egg whites and then in the cereal mixture to coat evenly.

Arrange the coated chicken on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden and juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a knife, 20-25 minutes. Serve hot.

Parchment Paper Cooking

Lately I have been fascinated by a few shows I've caught on the Food Network where the FN star is using parchment paper as a cooking method - namely for fish. I saw this on Rachael Ray's show first and then shortly after on a Giada episode. I wanted to try it for myself, but wasn't super keen on either of the flavor palates of the recipes on those two shows.

So I turned to, one of my favorite sites, and found this great recipe! I made it for dinner guests this weekend. We had our best friends over to celebrate one couple's recent engagemet. I thought the parchment paper idea was kind of fun to see everyone open up their individual packages of fish!

The only change I made to the recipe was to use green beans instead of asparagus (I made asparagus the last time we had a dinner party with these friends, so I wanted to mix it up!), and fresh rosemary instead of tarragon since there was no tarragon at my local market.

I apologize for the lack of a picture, when we have company I seem to becom absent minded when it comes to picture taking!

Steamed Salmon and Asparagus in Parchment

1 1/2 pounds small new potatoes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
4 salmon fillets (about 6 ounces each)
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 scallions, trimmed and sliced
4 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 lemons, halved

Preheat oven to 400° F. Place a piece of parchment paper on a 13-by-12-inch baking sheet. Put the potatoes on the sheet and season with 1 teaspoon of the salt and ½ teaspoon of the pepper. Distribute the butter over the potatoes. Roast in top of oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until done. Meanwhile, lay out 4 sheets of parchment (at least 13 by 13 inches) and place 1 fillet on each. Top with the asparagus, scallions, and tarragon. Drizzle with the oil and season with the remaining salt and pepper. Top each fillet with a lemon half, after first squeezing on the juice. Pull the sides of the paper over each fillet, folding several times to seal. Fold and twist the ends to form rectangular parcels. Place them on a sheet pan. Bake on lower rack of over for 20 to 25 minutes while the potatoes finish cooking. Place a salmon parcel on each plate and cut open. Serve with the potatoes.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Creamy Italian Dressing

Last night we went to my friend Melanie's house for a couples night filled with good food, good friends, good fun and the Nintendo Wii! I volunteered to bring a salad to the gathering and for some reason I felt compelled to make my own homemade salad dressing.

After a quick search on, I found this recipe for Creamy Italian Dressing - which is one of my favorite salad dressings of all time. This was easy and pretty much all of the ingredients were items I had in my house, except for the heavy cream. I substituted half and half for the heavy cream and it came out fine. I'll defintely be making this again, it seemed to be a hit!

Creamy Italian Dressing

1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Pinch pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

In a mayonnaise jar, combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, cream, sugar, oregano, basil, parsley, and pepper; shake well. Transfer to a bowl and, whisking constantly, slowly add the olive oil.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Like little mini-carrot cakes

For Christmas, my Aunt & Uncle gave me Martha Stewart's Cookies cookbook. They had no idea that I've been wanting the book for awhie so it really was the perfect gift. It is chock full of great recipes and the cookies are split out by different types - crispy, chewy, cakey, etc. And every recipe has a picture, you gotta love that!

I made my first cookie out of the book this week - Carrot Cake cookies. The picture of these little sandwich guys was just calling my name! The finshed product was delicious and I could not help but think that they were like eating a little hand held piece of carrot cake, especially since I baked mine to the point of only being soft. Yum! I cannot wait to make more recipes from this book soon!

Carrot Cake Cookies
(from Martha Stewart's Cookies)

1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots, (about 3 large carrots)
1 cup raisins
Cream Cheese Frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugars and butter; beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until well combined.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger; stir to combine. Gradually add flour to butter mixture; mix on a low speed until just blended. Mix in oats, carrots, and raisins. Chill dough in refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.

Using a 1/2-ounce ice-cream scoop, scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Transfer to oven, and bake until browned and crisped, rotating pan halfway through baking to ensure even color, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat baking process with remaining dough. Once cooled completely, use an offset spatula to spread about 2 teaspoons of cream-cheese filling onto a cookie. Sandwich together with a second cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes about 2 cups

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, soften cream cheese. Gradually add butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Sift in confectioners' sugar, and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla, and stir to combine.

Going bananas!

I have been craving banana bread all week. I am not sure why, maybe because I've been the victim of a nasty cold and banana bread is a comfort food to me. Who knows? Either way I wanted to make banana bread, and after scoring some dramatically-reduced-in-price browning bananas from the market, the banana bread fate was sealed. I've made a few different banana breads which I've posted to this blog before (Apple Banana Bread and Marbled-Chocolate Banana Bread) but I just wanted some down home, traditional banana bread.

This is actually a recipe shared by one of the ladies on my local nest board. It's easy and quick and most importantly, delicious! I actually used 4 bananas in my batter, only because my bananas were a bit short in stature, and oh, I stole a few bites from the first three bananas before I put them in the batter. So 4 bananas it was! I omitted the nuts from this recipe since I prefer my banana bread sans nuts, but I'm sure they would be a great addition for those who love banana nut bread.

Sour Cream Banana Bread

1/2 Cup softened butter
1 Cup sugar
2 Cup flour
1/2 Cup sour cream
2 beaten egg
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Teaspoon baking powder
3 mashed banana
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 for topping chopped pecans or walnuts

Blend the soft butter and sugar until creamy. Add sour cream, bananas, eggs, vanilla and mix well.

Combine all dry ingredients and add that to wet mixture and mix.

Pour into 9x5 inch loaf pan, sprayed with nonstick spray. Top with walnuts or pecans and bake at 350 for about 55 minutes.