Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year! and a few dog pics...can't resist..

I couldn't resist starting off with a couple of pictures of Bruno. He traveled really well with us, to three different towns in four days. He slept on the console during the truck rides--he won't fit there for long, so I had to get a picture! He also got a steak for Christmas. It squeaks, and he loves it.

Moving on...
Tomorrow is New Years Eve! We are hosting a party here with all sorts of food and drinks. My friend Laine is helping host it. We are having:
-buffalo chicken dip with celery and chicken crackers
-spinach and artichoke dip with cucumbers, carrots, and tortilla chips
-homemade guacamole
-chicken salad in puff pastry
-candied nuts
-assorted chocolate candies/homemade fudge (finishing off the Christmas stash)
-mini cheescakes with Nilla wafer crust (pretty excited about these!)
-lots of different kinds of drinks-- including our "specialty" Blue Lagoon :)
and most importantly, lots of friends! I am pretty excited to use this cool new server that has two optional warming trays and pans that I got from my brother in law. It will get put to good use! Off to get things together around the house, return a few things from a really wonderful Christmas celebration with ALL of our families. We had a really great Christmas and are extremely blessed with our families and friends.
Happy New Year--see you in 2009!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bakeathon! And home for the holidays...

Look what we did Saturday! We all brought the ingredients to make our favorite Christmas treat, so we had a TON of goodies. You can't even see the full second table. We had peppermint bark, Payday bars (I will have to get the recipe, they're great!), candy cane cookies (more of an experiment, right sis? see pic below...), almond dipped pretzels, Oreo truffles, peanut butter balls, nutty dipped marshmallows, choco PB sandwiches, raisin cinnamon chip cookies, peanut brittle, and I hope I didn't miss any others! It was fun, and we made treat plates to share with everybody we know, since we had plenty:)

a sugar experiment gone wrong.

Norris showed us his "technique" for white chocolate pretzels. Yummy! Oreo truffles and PB balls. So easy, so sinful.

The ultimate Texas AND North Carolina fan himself. According to his stack of new UT and NC gear, anyway!

I'm not sure I've seen my grandpa cook before this moment, and it was great!!

I am in Topeka for Christmas and so glad to be here a couple days just to hang out before the true holiday festivities get underway. We celebrated this weekend with my mom's side and Norris' parents, and we'll be celebrating this week with my family, my dad's side, and Norris' dad. Rather than thinking of it as a lot of driving, I like to think of how blessed we are to have so much family to celebrate with!! Lots of pictures of the family so far...I don't have my computer to put my pictures on so I am just taking my mom's she's uploaded to their computer!
Merry Christmas!!!! Enjoy your time with your loved ones.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

White Whisper Pasta

This is a weight watcher's recipe that we both enjoyed. I would suggest a little less pasta next time. Veggies are already included!

Makes 4 servings

2 t olive oil
2 c sliced mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c skim milk
1/3 c nonfat cottage cheese
3 T basil leaves
3 T parsley leaves
2 T all purpose flour
1 t dried oregano
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese
2 T grated Asiago cheese
4 cups fusilli or penne pasta (we used whole wheat and that added a little more flavor)
1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces

1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Add the mushrooms and garlic; cook, stirring as needed, until the mushrooms release their liquid, 4-5 minutes.
2. In a blender or food processor, puree the milk, cottage cheese, basil, parsley, flour and oregano. Add to the mushroom mixture; stir in the Parmesana nd the Asiago cheeses and cook, stirring as needed, until heated through, about 2 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions, adding the green beans during the last 4 minutes of cooking time. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Immediately top with the mushroom sauce; toss to coat.

Barbecued Beef

It was so snowy when we woke up this morning! I was really kicking myself for not moving my car into the garage last night...the 4-wheeler we are keeping was in there, and I forgot to ask Norris to move it, but tonight my car is in the garage thankfully!!

Anyway, it was really cold and great to come home to a warm meal already cooking. Here it is:

Barbecued Beef (from my All Recipes cookbook)

1 1/2 c ketchup
1/4 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c red wine vinegar
2 T prepared mustard (Dijon or regular)
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t liquid smoke flavoring
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground black pepper
1/4 t garlic powder
1 (4 pound) boneless chuck roast, cut in half, fat trimmed

1. In a slow cooker, combine everything but the roast. Stir well.
2. Place chuck roast halves in slow cooker. Turn meat to oat with ketchup mixture. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Reduce heat to low and cook 7 to 8 hours.
3. Remove roast, shred with two forks, and return to slow cooker. Sitr meat to evenly coat with sauce. Continue cooking on low approximately one hour.
Yield: 12 servings

You can put everything in the crockpot the night before, then stick it on high right when you wake up. Before you leave (about an hour for me), put it back on low.

Serve on toasted sandwich buns with extra sauce. There will be enough sauce that you could use it as a dipping sauce if you like. We had it on toasted rosemary ciabatta buns which was soooo good!

**A good way to skim more fat: put the sauce in a container in the freezer while you shred the beef. The grease will harden on top and then you can skim off the extra grease/fat at the top. Then return the sauce to the slow cooker with the shredded beef to cook for the remaining hour.

Edit: I used the leftover beef for a beef stew, and it was really really good in that. It added a slightly sweet element I don't normally have in beef stew. Definitely do this with leftovers!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Happy Birthday Norris! (and some yummy cookies:)

This is what's going on outside right now. Happy Birthday Norris, the first snow's for you!:) We are celebrating with dinner and relaxing tonight!

These are the addictive Andes mint cookies. I got them from the Sister's Cafe blog, and then I melted some semisweet chocolate squares (with a touch of veg oil to make it easier to drizzle) to put on top. YUM! I might have had a few already today...
Andes Creme de Menthe Chunk Cookies
Submitted by Mindy
1/2 cup salted butter - softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 package (10oz) Andes Creme de Menthe Baking Chips
2 2/3 cups flour
Blend butter, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla and eggs until mixed. Stir in Andes Baking Chips and then flour. Chill approximately one hour in refrigerator. Measure out approximately 1 oz of dough. Form ball and slightly flatten. Raise oven rack one level above middle and bake on non-stick baking pans. Bake at 350 for approximately 8-10 minutes. Cool on pans for two minutes before removing. Drizzle melted chocolate if desired. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Baked Apple Pancake

We made these today in class, and they were excellent! We made two "batches" to feed 10. Everyone got a piece about the size of a piece of medium pizza. I think that would be plenty for a breakfast along with something else. These are so easy to make that you shouldn't wait until guests come over! I had my camera out ready to take a picture of the lovely creation (that looked kind of like a funnel cake after sifting powdered sugar on top) but they got so excited about eating them that by the time I was ready to take a picture, they were done eating! Oops!
Baked Apple Pancake
(recipe from ProStart)

3 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 wedges each (we used some other apple and cut them into slightly thinner slices--I'd say the apple doesn't matter, but I would cut them thinner)
½ c milk
1 egg
2 T oil
½ t vanilla
1 c flour
5 T powdered sugar
¾ t baking powder
¼ t salt
3 T butter or margarine
¼ t cinnamon
Powdered sugar and/or maple syrup for serving

1. Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 425.
2. In a medium bowl, beat milk, egg, oil, and vanilla until well blended. Stir in flour, 3 T powdered sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir until blended.
3. In a 10”, oven proof, non-stick skillet, melt butter over a medium heat. Add apples, 2 T powdered sugar, and cinnamon. Cook, turning often, for 5-7 minutes until apple slices are browned but still hold their shape.
4. Spread slices in an even layer in skillet, stir batter, and pour over hot apples.
5. Place skillet in oven and bake 13-15 minutes, until the batter is cooked and puffs up around the edge of the pan.
6. Remove and loosen the edges from the pan. Place a serving platter over the skillet and flip the pancake onto the serving platter. Garnish with powdered sugar or maple syrup.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Here is our new little love:) He is so cute and little. I am sure he will get big really fast. For now, it's funny watching him not be able to get up the half stair from one room to another and liking to curl up in our arms. He can't get down the stairs, and on the first night we had him, we put him on the stairs. One of these pictures is him trying to back down them because he didn't know what to do!
I admit I am also excited to have a new running partner! We also promise not to dress him in clothes regularly--my sister got him this jacket thing so we had to at least try it on him...it was a little small, so I think the first picture is his disgust toward it, but I thought it was pretty cute and funny!

Review: Gingerbread trifle

This is how good that gingerbread trifle was....I hope he's not too embarrassed that I put this here:) He's a great husband--he likes almost everything I make! (and for many many other reasons as well, of course!)
After my family left, we both needed more of this stuff! He wasn't shy and just sat down with the bowl and a spoon...hey, might as well! You've got to try this stuff. I had extra filling, so I took it to school to make mini ones for my kids and it is definitely teenager approved, also.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Cloverleaf Rolls and Libby's Pumpkin Pie

(photos from culinary.net--I forgot to take my own photos!)
I posted a message on a cooking forum in search of the ultimate pumpkin pie recipe--the undisputed vote was for Libby's straight off the back of the can! We made this recipe for "Turkey Treats" (Thanksgiving treats that we sold and sent home with teachers before Turkey break) and I brought one to Thanksgiving myself. Our Thanksgiving is a whole different story for a whole different time...it was great, though!
We made the yeast rolls, but wanted to make them a little different, so we made cloverleaf. We thought they were best with melted butter mixed with garlic powder brushed on them right before baking. Our first round turned out great, but our last rounds, not so much. Something was definitely up with our industrial mixer, and the dough didn't rise and turned a grayish green color (the dough hook was scraping up bits of the bowl into the dough..yuck!). We had to scrap 13 dozen rolls the morning of delivery, and disappoint a few people. But hey, I'd rather have none than have non-risen, greenish-gray ones, you? Every experience is a learning experience!

Libby’s Pumpkin Pie

¾ c granulated sugar
1 t ground cinnamon
½ t salt
½ t ground ginger
¼ t ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz) pure pumpkin
1 can (12 oz) Evaporated milk
1 pie shell (homemade or store bought)

Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
Pour into pie shell.
Bake in preheated 425 F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 F; bake for 40-50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
Parker House Cloverleaf Rolls

From Joy of Cooking
Yield: 24 2-inch rolls
1 c milk
1 T sugar
2 T butter
¾ t salt
1 package active dry yeast
2 T 105-115 F water
2 2/3 c all-purpose flour, sifted
Melted butter
1 egg

Scald milk.
Add sugar, butter, and salt and stir until dissolved.
Sprinkle yeast over water.
Add the milk mixture when the yeast/water has cooled to lukewarm.
Beat in egg.
Stir in part of the flour; knead in the rest. Use only enough flour to form a dough that can be handled easily. Place in a greased bowl. Brush the top with melted butter.
Cover and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
Punch down the dough. Now, fill greased muffin tins about one-third with 3 small balls (as sketched in Joy of Cooking, page 611).
Brush the tops with melted butter.
Let rise covered in a warm place until about doubled in bulk.
Bake in a preheated 425 F oven 15-18 minutes. Remove at once from pans.

French Bread...just like Panera!

We served another lunch to teachers--this time just to 30, because we were delivering our "Turkey Treats" two days later, which consisted of a TON of baking!

For this lunch, we started with homemade chicken stock (which was hilarious to watch the kids figure out how to cut a chicken and boil the necks and backs of a chicken!) to make chicken noodle soup. We were not brave enough (nor had enough time!) to make our own noodles, but our chicken noodle soup was great. From making the stock, we had some extra veggies, so we decided to puree them and then add them to the soup to thicken it up and add some extra veggies without any chunks. I really liked that idea--more flavor, more veggies, and nobody knows they're eating more veggies.

This french bread is awesome. It is a lot like Panera; kind of a crunch to the outside, which is mainly because of the egg wash--don't skip that step. Most of the people that had it first asked if we ordered it from Panera, then asked for the recipe, which is extremely easy! Then, you could make sandwiches, serve it on the side (great bread for sopping up extra broth in, say, chicken noodle soup???), or make an awesome French toast out of it!

The menu of our lunch was: Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup, french bread, and apple crisp. Add a soda to that and the whole meal was only $6 to order--not bad, huh?:) I was proud of my kids again!

French Bread

Yield: 30 servings
5 2/3 c all purpose flour
2 ½ packages active dry yeast
2 t salt
2 c warm water (110 F)
1 T cornmeal
1 egg white
1 T water
1 T butter
1 t sugar

1. In a small bowl, combine yeast, 1 c of the warm water, and sugar. Let sit until instructed to use.
2. In a large bowl, combine 2 c flour and salt. Stir in the other 1 c warm water. Combine.
3. Add yeast mixture to this and beat until well blended using a stand mixer with a dough attachment. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
4. On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead for about 8-10 minutes total. Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled.
5. Punch dough down and divide in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each half into a large rectangle. Roll up, starting from a long side. Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends.
6. Grease a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly beat the egg white with 1 T water and brush on. With a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about ¼ inch deep across top of each loaf. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until nearly doubled, 35 to 40 minutes.
7. Bake in a preheated oven 375 F for 20 minutes. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until bread tests done. If necessary, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning. Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire rack.

Adapted from http://www.allrecipes.com/
Apple Crisp

Yield: 12 (1/2 c) servings
Fruit Mixture:
6 c sliced apples, peeled if desired
1 T cinnamon
1 T water
1 t lemon juice

1 c rolled oats
¾ c all purpose flour
¾ c firmly packed brown sugar
½ c margarine or butter, softened
1 t nutmeg
½ t ground cloves

1. Heat oven to 375 F. Place fruit in ungreased 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle with cinnamon, water, and lemon juice.
2. In large bowl, combine all topping ingredients. With pastry blender or fork, mix until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over fruit.
3. Bake at 375 F for 25 to 35 minutes or until fruit is tender and topping is golden brown.

Adapted from Pillsbury
Chicken Broth
(just in case you have never made it!)

Yield: 64 oz.
2 lb. chicken backs, necks, and/or wings
2 quarts (8 cups) water
2 small onions, quartered
1 c coarsely chopped celery with leaves
½ c sliced carrots
2 t chopped fresh parsley
1 t salt
¼ t pepper
1 bay leaf
½ t salt

1. In Dutch oven, combine chicken and water. Bring to a boil. Skim and discard residue that rises to surface. Reduce heat; partially cover and simmer 30 minutes.
2. Add all remaining ingredients except ½ t salt; partially cover and simmer an additional 4 hours.
3. Remove bones from broth. Cool slightly. Remove meat from bones; refrigerate or freeze for a later use.
4. Strain broth; stir in ½ t salt. Cool uncovered in refrigerator. Skim fat from broth; discard. Cover; store in refrigerator up to 3 days or freeze up to 6 months.
Chicken Noodle Soup
(slightly different from the "norm", so I had to include it!)

Yield: 5 (1 ½ c) servings

1 ½ c cubed cooked chicken
1 c sliced carrots
½ c chopped celery
½ c chopped onion
1 parsnip, peeled, cubed (3/4 c)
2 t chopped fresh parsley
1 t chopped fresh dill
58 oz. chicken broth
2 c uncooked wide egg noodles

1. In Dutch oven or large saucepan, combine all ingredients except noodles; mix well. Cook over medium heat 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
2. Add egg noodles; cook 15 minutes or until of desired doneness.

From Pillsbury

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a great day with family and friends! Some of my family is coming tonight, so I am running around today trying to get everything together. This is our pretty table:) (pretty to me anyway!)

Tomorrow we are headed to the in-laws, then Saturday I will go home to see my family and Steven will be here from Florida!!

Lots of great things have been made at school and at home since last recipe posting...I have the pictures but the recipes are mostly at school, so I will update soon! I did make Paula Deen's gingerbread pumpkin trifle for tonight, and I am excited about it--I like the looks of it and I know I'll love the taste. I guess my trifle dish isn't quite big enough, because I only used one of the two gingerbread cakes it calls for and about 2/3 of the pudding/pumpkin mixture and cool whip. I will make another small one to bring to my kids on Monday, I guess! Otherwise, we're keeping it pretty simple tonight and my aunt and grandma are bringing some yummy stuff to go with our stand by of the most simple pork chops ever!

Enjoy your holiday and travel safely!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

New addition!

We are getting a puppy! He is the white one closest to the fence. He is so cute:)
We are trying to decide what to name him....any ideas?
We are thinking Bruno or Billy. We get him December 6!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


This is a painting that I found over one year ago, when we were registering for wedding gifts. I looked all over for this thing, after seeing only one at the store we were in. At the time, I didn't have a place to hang it or store it, so I didn't buy it. Then, I wanted it even if I didn't have a place to put it, went back to get it, and it wasn't there. I looked at all the other of the same chain and couldn't find it. Not onilne at that store. I even searched by the name of the picture (Leaf Dance. strange name) online on every site I could find and could not find it.
We went looking at model homes last spring, and hanging above the fireplace of one of the homes was MY PICTURE! I wanted to steal it, but my bag wasn't big enough. We went back to that open house at least two more times, and I can't even tell you what the house looked like; I only know they had my picture and I wanted it!
On Tuesday night, we went to Dillon's Marketplace (geez that place is HUGE! and awesome!) and I wanted to look in the furniture section quickly. I found an entry table for 35 bucks that we really like, so I thought the day was ending great. THEN we walked back to the closeout section and I saw a familiar picture. I told Norris that I knew that was by the same person who made the one I was looking for. We walked around to the other side and it was there! At closeout price!
So, long story short-- I finally found the picture I wanted and it was half price! Now it's hanging in our basement and I love it!!

Caramel Apple Bars

For a taste of fall, try these little lovelies.

I shared them with our neighbor boys, grandparents, and aunt, and we still had some.

If you can find unwrapped caramels, use those. I was getting so frustrated unwrapping all the little caramels!!

Norris loved them; they were gone almost immediately. YUM!!
I got the recipe from "Kickin it in the Kitch", who got it from Betty Crocker. Betty knew what she was talking about when she put these together! Thanks for the recommendation, Kitch! :)
And, she has a much better picture-- I'm not so good at this whole food photographing thing! (or any photography for that matter...although I still love it!)
Betty Crocker's Caramel Apple Bars
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
4 1/2 cups coarsley chopped peeled tart apples (3 medium)
1 bag (14 ounces) caramels
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix brown sugar, butter and shortening in large bowl. Stir in flour, oats, salt and baking soda. Reserve 2 cups oat mixture; press remaining oat mixture in 13x9 pan.
2. Toss apples and 3 tablespoons flour; spread over mixture in pan. Heat caramels over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted; pour evenly over apples. Sprinkle with reserved oat mixture; press lightly.
3. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender.

No Exaggeration here! Chocolate chip cookies...

These were seriously the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had (no offense to those of you who have made me chocolate chip cookies before!) The funny part is that I don't even really love chocolate chip cookies. I am constantly making them trying to find a recipe that doesn't look like a pancake when I bake them. These were big, chewy, and perfectly done. DING DING DING! Here they are!

We made 6 batches/ 135-ish cookies in one of my classes and refrigerated the dough overnight. This morning, we baked them in our awesome industrial ovens (completely irrelevant, yes, but I love them!) and sold them for .50 a piece! The kids made 50 bucks! We are doing it again next week and the week after-- this is their entrepreneurship unit, so they are being little entreprenuers and making and selling cookies!

I got the recipe from the blog A Taste of Life.
(Source: Baking Illustrated, page 434)
Makes about 18 very large cookies.
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.
3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste.
4. Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.
5. Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a side metal spatula.
Oh and P.S.-- I realize the step 4 rotating dough, etc. sounds ridiculous. We actually did it and we are glad we did. Not really sure why, to be honest! The kids asked me why we were doing it, and I said "just trust me-- do it!", which apparently is not a sufficient answer for teenagers. I told them it was because then the tops had more texture and then it was like two little cookies baking pressed next to each other and they might bake differently this way.
Anybody know the actual answer to that question?!? THANKS!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fall Feast!

To kick off the real fall weather (and because I got a big bag of free apples!), we made a fall feast yesterday and today in my classes. We made roasted pork loin, apple stuffing, and pumpkin bread. The pork loin was great because it was marinating overnight and we made some random cuts in it to get the flavor all the way through. The apple stuffing was defnitely different, but I liked it. A little less liquid next time, in my opinion. We also cut the onion in half. The pumpkin bread was SO great. It was so full flavored, and a little spicy with the nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. It was incredible--definitely my favorite! Good thing, because we are going to use that recipe for our fall food sale!
Fall food sale choices were finally made; we will be making that pumpkin bread, the apple spice bars, pumpkin pie, lemon poppyseed bread, cinnamon sugar biscotti, and cloverleaf yeast rolls. We will put the order forms out tomorrow and start baking up a storm in a couple of weeks! Hopefully we have a lot of orders from the teachers in the building--we wrote on the order form that people who order can "fool your family members into thinking you made it yourself!" If that's not a selling point, I don't know what would be !! :)

Today's menu and recipes:

Roasted Pork Loin (from allrecipes.com)

6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (4 pound) boneless pork loin roast

Combine spices and rub over pork loin.
Randomly cut 20 deep slits, 1 in. wide, on inside surface of roast. Fill slits with some of spice mixture. Wrap in foil. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 6 hours (overnight is fine).
After marinating, remove foil and place pork in a shallow baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 450 for ten minutes. Then lower oven temperature to 275 to cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours longer. Check internal temperature to determine doneness.

Apple Stuffing

(I looked at a whole bunch of different recipes, from allrecipes to Joy of Cooking, to decide on the following recipe. It's mostly from Joy of Cooking. I would change it for next time by using about 3/4 of the liquid we used this time.)

8 slices white bread, torn into small pieces
3 apples, peeled and cut fine
½ t rubbed sage
¾ t salt
1 dash pepper
½ c margarine
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
½ c milk
1 egg, beaten

1. Mix bread, apples, sage, salt, and pepper in a bowl and set aside.
2. Melt margarine over stovetop and add chopped onion. Simmer a few minutes.
3. Remove from stove and add milk and egg.
4. Pour this mixture over dry ingredients and mix well.Bake in greased casserole pan at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes.

Pumpkin Bread

from Good Things Catered; originally from Joy of Cooking; funny because I found it in Joy of Cooking and figured I'd browse the internet quickly to see if there were any better ones, and saw it again, and knew it must be good! It is the best pumpkin bread I've ever eaten and I am a pumpkin lover!
We took the allspice out of one batch and left it in the other; they tasted pretty similar; if you don't have it you don't have to go out and buy it for this. It is tasty both ways!

½ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/3 c. milk
½ tsp vanilla
6 Tbsp butter, at room temp
1 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 c. pumpkin puree


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Have all ingredients at room temp and prepare 9x5 loaf pan.
Whisk together flour, soda, powder, salt and spices thoroughly.
In another bowl combine milk and vanilla.
In large bowl of mixer beat butter until creamy (about 30 sec).
Gradually add sugars and beat on high speed until lightened in texture (3-4 min).
Beat in eggs one at a time.
Add pumpkin puree on low speed until just blended.
Add flour mixture in 3 parts alternating with the milk mixture in 2 parts beating on low or stirring with spatula until just combined.
Scrape batter into pan and spread evenly.
Bake about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Survived this week! Plus toasted ravioli, buffalo chicken dip, and BBQ Chops!

It's Friday, which means we made it through both the cinnamon roll sales and the sandwich sales! Whew! We made a good amount of money, which is great because my kids can do more labs with that money and invest it into another food sale. The kids had a lot of fun and took a lot of ownership with the project, and I am so proud of them! The lunch sales definitely went better, probably because it was later in the day....I am so exhausted!
Happy Halloween!

Here are a few recipes that I have made lately and wanted to share: (easy easy easy!)

Toasted Ravioli
8 oz fresh cheese ravioli
2 T extra virgin olive oil
Dry Italian Bread crumbs
Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly spray a baking sheet. Brush ravioli with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Place on baking sheet and bake in preheated oven until golden, about 7-9 minutes. Serve hot with chilled red sauce as an appetizer, or with heated sauce as a meal.
Pork Chops w/ Homemade BBQ Sauce
Norris was helping our neighbors out with sheetrocking last night, so I volunteered to make all the hungry boys dinner. I had made some BBQ sauce a few days ago to baste onto some chops we've had, and we all agreed that these were at least in the top two best chops we've ever had! They cooked perfectly in the oven--I don't have a broiler rack nor do I want one because they're so large and take up valuable space! So, I used a pizza pan with a cookie sheet on the rack underneath to catch any drippings.
6 large chops (we had the "grillers" since they were on sale and they were huge and awesome!)
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c ketchup
2 T W sauce (worcestershire...?)
2 T soy sauce
a few other seasonings if you want (depending on what I have and my mood for spiciness!)- thyme, hot pepper sauce, garlic salt, spicy garlic seasoning, ground red pepper (choose a couple, or none, and add about 1 t of whatever you want; adjust according to taste)
Rub a little salt and pepper on the chops and lay them out on the pan. Baste the top side with some sauce. Put under broiler on high heat for about 8 minutes per side (adjust according to chop size). Flip, baste again, and broil another 8 minutes. Be sure to check to see they are done!
Serve with remaining sauce.
**food safety note: separate the sauce you will use for basting from the sauce you will use for serving so that you don't dip a basting brush with raw chop juice on it into the sauce you will later eat!
I served with roasted spicy garlic potatoes and salad...the hungry boys loved it!
Tonight we are having a sort of Halloween party with our neighbors, so we are making a few things for that. I have seen a bunch of posts on other blogs about this buffalo chicken dip, so I am trying the recipe from allrecipes.com tonight! I am serving it with chicken flavored crackers and celery sticks. I plan to use fat free and low fat versions of everything possible. Hopefully this does not affect the flavor too much. I will be able to just stick it in the crockpot, which is the best part! Now on to figure out something to bring to "Girls' night" which happens to fall on election night and something for next Monday night when Sara and Joey come to stay with us! So excited to have them coming!
Buffalo Chicken Dip
2 (10 ounce) cans chunk chicken, drained
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup Ranch dressing
3/4 cup pepper sauce, such as Franks® Red Hot®
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1 bunch celery, cleaned and cut into 4 inch pieces
1 (8 ounce) box chicken-flavored crackers

Heat chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat, until heated through. Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing. Cook, stirring until well blended and warm. Mix in half of the shredded cheese, and transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, cover, and cook on Low setting until hot and bubbly. Serve with celery sticks and crackers.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

4 monthiversary?

For some reason, even after being in the kitchen all day at work, I really wanted to work in the kitchen at home. I think I get so excited to try ideas and recipes that I think of while at school that I want to do them immediately at home.
This cake could be something simple and semi-impressive to bring to a small get together or something for work, but it probably won't make it there if you're like us.
The "healthy" part of it is:

1 box yellow cake mix
1 regular sized can pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling; not the giant fat can)

Mix together and bake according to package directions. Make it in your Bundt pan to make it a little more special than a regular cake!

Then, Norris wanted me to ice it. I didn't want to make a heavy cream cheese icing. I wanted to make some sort of a glaze. I was burning my Henri Bendel Bitter Orange candle, and it made me think of orange icing!

1 c powdered sugar
3 T orange juice
1 T melted butter

Drizzle it over the top! I did it while it was still warm, so it pretty much soaked into the cake, which I actually like. You could wait until the cake is cooled and the icing is set before doing it and it would probably sit on top of the cake more.
We just ate way too much of this cake and it was so good! You could make it without the icing for a "diet" dessert (hey, it's better than the real cake recipe, right?!?):)

We've been married for a whopping 4 months today. I really can't believe how fast those four months have gone....and am sure I will be saying the same thing about 50 years from now!

Ridiculous, but fun!

We started our preparation for this wild food sale week (what was I thinking scheduling two in one week, anyway??) yesterday with the preparation of cinnamon roll dough-- enough to make 216 rolls. Today, we shaped them, and in the other class, made seven recipes of focaccia and four S'mores cakes. Thank goodness for our industrial mixer and other equipment!!
I am proud of my kids for how well they have done! I have some helpers coming in the morning at about 6:15 (I plan to get there a little before 6) to bake and ice the rolls so they will be fresh out of the oven for the teachers who preordered theirs. That way they can take them to our weekly 7:10 meeting and the meeting will be a little bit better because of them, hopefully! I know some teachers have bought them for their families, their classes, and even to freeze for the holidays, so I really hope they enjoy them. After tomorrow morning, we have our lunch on Thursday. We will be "reflecting" on Friday for sure!
Last night's recipe was toasted ravioli; tonight's is Chicken and rice with lemon poppyseed muffins. Nothing too exciting-- simple but homemade, which is what counts! Happy Halloween week! What are you going to be for Halloween???

Monday, October 27, 2008


No pictures, but brunch was great yesterday! The company was obviously the best part, but the food was pretty good too, and my mom learned how to make homemade cinnamon rolls! She already knew, but just how to make these:)
We had Farmer's casserole, fruit kebabs with dip, and those ninety minute cinnamon rolls from the other day. The best part about this whole meal is that everything could be made the night before or everything could be made the morning of, in not too much time. We only started a couple hours before they arrived, and it was all done (including cinnamon rolls!)


Farmer’s Casserole

Serves 12
Nonstick cooking spray
6 c frozen shredded hash brown potatoes (not with peppers or onions)
1 ½ c shredded Monterey Jack cheese or shredded cheddar cheese
2 c diced cooked ham or bacon (your choice)
8 beaten eggs
3 c milk
¼ t salt
¼ t pepper

1. Coat a 3-qt. baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange potatoes evenly in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with cheese and ham.
2. In a bowl combine eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Pour egg mixture over potato mixture.
3. Bake, uncovered in a 350 oven 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Fruit Kebabs with Fruit Dip

The cinnamon rolls are the same from the other day, and the same that today in 5th hour, we will begin to make 200 of to sell bright and early on Wednesday morning! This crazy food sale week has officially begun! Wish us luck!

½ of a watermelon or any melon of your choice (I would choose watermelon or cantaloupe, depending on which is cheaper)
Grapes (1 bag)
Strawberries (if decent price)- 1 large container
Pineapple (if decent price)
20 wooden party skewers (can find in baking supply aisle)

Basically, just choose three to four of the above fruits. Three is probably best.

Cut fruit into ¼ to ½ inch squares, depending on size of fruit. Thread 3-4 different fruit cubes on to each skewer. Cover and refrigerate.
Serve chilled fruit kebabs with chilled fruit dip.

Fruit Dip
2 c non fat vanilla yogurt
1 c brown sugar
1 t vanilla or almond extract
Combine until well blended. Refrigerate.

Can serve fruit skewers in a bowl lined with lettuce leaves with dip on the side. Can also serve fruit skewers lying down on a tray. (or any way you want)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What a week! So glad I planned ahead...

This has been a heck of week! I have my audit appointment this afternoon, which means they will go through every single paper, training agreement, work employment record, etc. to make sure my students really have jobs where they say they do and that employers are evaluating them. (I teach job skills classes in addition to the cooking classes) I am a little nervous for my appointment, but glad we get this "pre-audit" appointment so we have a chance to get extra things together if we're missing something.

On the planning front, I fortunately had this week pretty well planned ahead so we have actually been eating good dinners each night and I've been getting exercise in while getting other things done. On Tuesday I made some chicken tacos--they were so good--I got chipotle taco seasoning this time and that made a huge difference; we liked the flavor a whole lot more.
Last night I made beef stroganoff, another recipe that I hadn't made before because I've never been a big "meat and potatoes" eater, but in an effort to fill Norris up with good warm food, I tried this one out, and it was actually good. It was pretty easy to make too, and was a good meal that I could get prepped, then go to the gym, then come home and finish it off within about 25 minutes of getting home from the gym. I served it over some garlicky Yukon gold mashed potatoes (best potatoes for mashing!) and a salad. Tonight is my night to help at the cooking school, so I won't get home until around 9:30 or so, yuck. It's poultry night with chef Damien, so hopefully I'll learn something good and different!

Tomorrow night we are going to a coworker's for a bbq, then to the high school football game. I'm pretty excited because my school is playing the school I used to work at! Saturday we are headed to the KSU/OU game (hmm...might not be pretty!) and then to Joey's birthday party/costume party in Topeka! I'm not sure that we'll be dressing up though. Sunday, we are having brunch (that my mom and I are making) with my sister, her bf, his parents, and my parents. Big day! We are making those awesome homemade cinnamon rolls, fruit kebabs with fruit dip, and a farmer's casserole (eggs and meat type dish). It's going to be a full fun weekend!

I also already voted this week by mail. It was crazy to finally see the presidential candidates' names on a ballot--it seemed like this was never going to get here. Glad to have voted!

I am stressing a little bit just thinking about next week. We are going for a lot more rounds of cinnamon rolls as my CC class is taking preorders for cinnamon rolls for teachers to buy before our Wed. morning PLC meeting (starts at 7:10!) This means I will have to get here around 6:15 to get the rolls in the oven and iced before they pick them up! Then we will sell them to students in the hallway before school. THEN on Thursday, we are serving (so far) 46 people, mostly teachers a great lunch of paninis on homemade focaccia, barbecue kettle chips, and S'more snack cake. We will be prepping that next week. It will be a wild week and Friday is Halloween, so we'll be ready for a little bit of a relaxing day!

Anyway, enjoy your weekend! I am going to post the S'more snack cake recipe because it's pretty darn good! We had a practice meal that the kids served each other to make sure the recipes they picked were good. I already posted the focaccia, and you can buy the kettle chips at the store, obviously:) I am also posting the sweet and sour pork with vegetables recipe that we are finishing cooking and eating today in PC class. It is another yummy one! I will post the farmer's casserole recipe on Monday after we make it Sunday.

S’more Snack Cake

Prep Time: 25 minutes (ready in 2 hrs. 15 minutes)
Yield: 16 servings

1 c all-purpose flour
1 ½ c graham cracker crumbs (24 squares)
1 t baking powder
½ t baking soda
½ t salt
1 c firmly packed brown sugar
½ c shortening
3 eggs
1 c milk
1 c mini semisweet chocolate chips
1 (7-oz) jar (1 ½ c) marshmallow crème

1. Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour 13x9 inch pan. In medium bowl, combine flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, baking soda and salt; mix well.
2. In large bowl, combine brown sugar, shortening, and eggs; beat until well blended. Add dry ingredients and milk; beat at low speed until well blended. Beat 1 minute at medium speed. Stir in 2/3 c of the chocolate chips. Spoon and spread batter evenly into greased and floured pan.
3. Bake at 350 F for 25-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in small saucepan, melt remaining 1/3 c chocolate chips over low heat. Spoon teaspoonfuls of marshmallow crème onto top of warm cake; carefully spread with knife dipped in hot water. Drizzle with melted chocolate; swirl chocolate through marshmallow crème to marble. Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled
Sweet and Sour Pork with Mixed Vegetables
1 small onion, quartered and layers separated
1 green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
½ red pepper, cut into thin strips
½ c sliced bamboo shoots
½ c sliced water chestnuts
1 c pineapple chunks

Combine marinade ingredients; pour over pork and marinate meat 30 minutes or longer. (May be marinated overnight in the refrigerator if desired.)
Combine all sauce ingredients by first dissolving cornstarch in water. Then add remaining ingredients. Stir. Cook over medium heat until sauce comes to a boil and is thickened. (Or, microwave until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally). Set aside.
Put rice on to cook according to package directions.
Combine egg and cornstarch. Add pork cubes, drained, to the batter and stir to coat the pieces. (Note: Batter should be very thick; if not, sprinkle in a little more cornstarch).
Heat three inches of oil in deep fat fryer, deep skillet, or wok until 375 degrees F. Deep fry meat, a few pieces at a time, until golden and cooked on the interior. (You may need to cut into a sample piece to check to see if it is done). Transfer meat to paper towels to drain. Repeat process with remaining pork until it is all cooked. Drain all oil from wok except 2 T.
Stir fry vegetable mixture by first stir frying carrot for 1-2 minutes. Then add onion, green, and red peppers. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes until tender crisp. Add bamboo shoots and water chestnuts; stir fry a minute or two until very hot.
Add pineapple and sauce to the work. Toss to combine and to coat ingredients. Return cooked pork to the wok, stirring to coat with sauce. Serve with rice if desired.
Makes 4-6 servings.

Cook’s Tips: Start this recipe the day before if you like to simplify things. Marinate the pork and refrigerate it; it will hold nicely 24 hours. To speed things up a bit, use the microwave to cook the sauce. It may be refrigerated for 24 hours also. Often times I cook the vegetables in the microwave so they are ready to use the minute the meat is cooked.
All you need to do before serving is dip the drained pork pieces into the batter and fry them. Drain oil from work; stir in prepared sauce and microwave-cooked vegetables. Stir until all ingredients are heated and coated with sauce.

Recipe from: Contemporary Cooking, written by Bonnie A.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Homemade pizza and Apple Spice Bars

Before I even talk about these, I do have to say that I have had to kick up my workouts and watch my other foods throughout the day to compensate for these great things I am making...but I still better not do this too often!

Tonight I made homemade pizza with lean ground beef and mushrooms on top. I like making it homemade so I can make a thinner crust, use lean beef, and less cheese. It was really good--Norris approved!:) I just used a Jiffy pizza crust mix, which is super easy and really cheap. You could easily make your own crust. I didn't take a picture because it was coming out of the oven when I got home from the gym and it was time to eat!

So, not a great picture of the apple bars, but an excellent treat! I know, I made treats yesterday...cinnamon rolls. I have had this recipe sitting here printed out since the day I saw it on another food blog-- Good Things Catered and it is so yummy. It tastes a lot like apple pie, but is a whole lot easier to make.

Here is the recipe:
Apple Spice Cookie Bars

2 c. plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice ( I didn't have allspice or cloves, so I just used a dash more of nutmeg)
small pinch ground cloves
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 apples, cored and diced (a little less than 2 c.)
cinnamon sugar for sprinkling (I used Splenda and cinnamon-- same trick)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 9x13 pan with foil and baking spray. **This is my least favorite thing to do in baking, so I am certain it would also work fine with a well greased 9x13 pan.
-In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.
-Whisk to combine well and set aside.
-In another bowl, combine sugars and butter and beat on medium high until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
-Add eggs, one at a time, beating well to combine.
-Add vanilla extract and beat to combine.
-Turn mixer on slow and fold in flour mixture a little at a time until just combined.
-Fold in apples.
-Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan and sprinkle top generously with cinnamon Splenda/sugar.
-Place in oven and bake until cooked through, when top slightly bounces back to the touch, about 33 minutes.
-Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing from pan, cutting and serving. (bars will be very soft)

ENJOY! These would be a great Thanksgiving treat if you wanted a little variation from the typical apple pie. I guess I'm in apple pie mode, since I did those dumplings a couple weeks ago...time to move on to a new flavor!

Tomorrow night: chicken tacos (simple!) and Wed. night, a new recipe for Beef Stroganoff. I used to think this stuff was the grossest when it was served in the cafeteria in elementary, so we'll see if I can get myself to like it this many years later!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cinnamon Rolls....just like Mrs. Powell's

This has been a really great weekend. Friday night, Laine and I carved pumpkins and watched Baby Mama--pretty funny movie. You can kind of tell what our pumpkins are supposed to be, but it's hard since we couldn't figure out how to turn the flash off on my camera. Mine is "Freaky Frank" and hers is a crystal ball and witch. They look pretty cool lit up!
Saturday, Gram and Granddad came down for Auntie Carolyn's surprise 70th birthday party. It was so great to spend the day with them and to be with family that I don't get to see very often! We took a "cousins picture" at the end of the party, and it was so great to be with them, because I don't get to see these cousins nearly as often as the cousins on my other side. It also made me miss my other cousins more too....next weekend I get to see you all!

And this morning...I can't even describe how good the cinnamon rolls are that we just ate (as in, I am so excited about them that I started this post as soon as I finished mine).

Norris has been hunting since Wed. night so I thought he might like something homemade after standing in a field for so many hours (although he didn't go without home cooked meals from his mom!)

These cinnamon rolls can be made in much less time than any other recipe I found. That's why I chose to make them. They are incredible, especially warm. They are easy to make. I made ours with raisins, and I would definitely recommend that! Bake them for no more than 20 minutes (exactly 19 minutes is how long I baked them, and they are just a little gooey, which is perfect in my mind!....they cancel out the WW oatmeal cookies from the other day, but are so worth the indulgence.)

Ninety Minute Cinnamon Rolls

adapted from allrecipes.com

12 servings

3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup margarine, softened
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (divided)
1 (.25 ounce) package instant
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 egg
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
6T margarine, softened
1/2 cup raisins (leave them out if you want)


1.Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in margarine; stir until melted. Let cool until lukewarm.

2.In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 1/4 cup flour, yeast, sugar and salt; mix well. Add water, egg and the milk mixture; beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has just pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. **You will have to add a little more flour as you knead it, as it is super sticky straight from the bowl. Don't add too much--you don't want tough rolls! Just enough to make the dough smooth.

3.Cover the dough with a warm damp cloth and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, and softened margarine.
4.Roll out dough into a 12x9 inch rectangle. Spread dough with margarine/sugar mixture. Sprinkle with raisins if desired. Roll up dough and pinch seam to seal. Cut into 12 equal size rolls and place cut side up into a 9x13 pan (I had to use a 9x13 and a small dish...only 8 fit in the 9x13 with room to spread). Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

5.Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until browned. Ice with Confectioner's Icing (or buttercream, or whatever you want) and serve warm.
Confectioner's Icing
2 c powdered sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla
4 to 6 T skim milk
In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar and vanilla. Add enough milk to make a smooth, creamy glaze that you can drizzle. Spread over warm rolls. If you want a thicker glaze, spread it over the rolls after they have cooled.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies: Weight Watcher's Style

Last night I made some oatmeal raisin cookies for Norris to take with him on his hunting trip. I was under the impression that you could not eat cookies while sitting in your tree stand, since he has to wash his clothes in no-scent stuff and spray himself down with this lovely "earth" scented spray...but anyway...

I wanted to make some cookies that I could enjoy a couple of also, so I went to my WW cookbook and found these: (I changed a couple things, but I just accounted for that in my typing)

1 3/4 c quick cooking oatmeal

1/2 c all purpose flour

1/2 c whole wheat flour (could use all purpose flour if don't have this)

2 T nonfat dry milk (if you have it; if not, leave it out or add in 1 extra T milk)

1 t double-acting baking powder

1 t cinnamon

1/4 t salt

1/2 c firmly packed light brown sugar

1/4 c unsalted stick margarine

1 egg white

1/2 c skim milk

3/4 c raisins

1/2 c chocolate chips (optional--I put them in half of the recipe since Norris likes both raisins and choc chips in his, but I don't like that!)

1 t vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375. Spray baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, combine the oatmeal, flour, dry milk, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

3. In another large bowl, with an electric mixer at high speed, beat the sugar, margarine, and egg white until light and fluffy (takes a while!; get it as frothy/fluffy as you can). With the mixer at low speed, alternately add the skim milk and the flour mixture with the raisins and vanilla; stir just until combined (do not overmix).

4. Drop the dough by tablespoons full (small scooper) onto the baking sheets, making 24 cookies. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool completely on a rack; store in an airtight container for 3-4 days.

I thought they were a little dry last night, but I put them in a tupperware and today they are much better. Hmmm....

They look funny because they don't spread like cookies normally do! They look like the shape of my normal no-bake cookies. They make a good guilt-free breakfast cookie if you need something on the go. Simple, but good---my kind of cooking!

Per serving: 95 calories, 2 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 17 carbs, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein, 34 mg calcium

Sugar Cookies

We finally finished and delivered our Pac-Man cookies to the library today!

It's teen read week, and the theme is "Take A bite out of reading", so our librarian wanted us to make Pac Man cookies. I got what is truly the best sugar cookie recipe I have ever used from the blog Good Things Catered http://goodthingscatered.blogspot.com/ and we made 250 cookies (yes, rolled, cut, and iced....what a process with ten teenagers!!) We made buttercream and royal icing, colored it yellow and red (go Heights!:) and set out to ice them today. Whew---what a project. Fortunately, I have great students who stayed through their lunch hour and came in when they were done with classes to finish icing and helping me clean up. We are so glad to be done!

Next up: tomorrow--teaching another knife skills class, which means another round of Zippy Potato Soup (recipe in a previous post), then next week I am demonstrating cooking techniques, so we are making Sweet and Sour Pork with vegetables and brown rice. I will post that next week--it's great!

And the focaccia from the other night....all gone! We had excellent sandwiches on it on Monday. Last night I made some chicken and rice soup and we finished it off with that. Oh it's sooooo good! I can't wait to make it for our food sale at school!

Oh, and these cookies are sooooo not good for you, but enjoy one anyway!! Don't forget to cream the butter for 5 minutes. We tried not to, and it definitely does make a difference!

BEST EVER Sugar Cookies
from Good Things Catered
1 1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. powdered sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp lemon zest
5 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Powdered sugar, for rolling

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-Cream butter and sugars in a mixer for 5 minutes.
-Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly.
-Add vanilla, almond, and lemon zest.
-Sift in flour, baking powder, and salt a little at a time.
-Do not over mix, this process should take about one minute.
-Chill dough for up to a week in the fridge, or roll out and cut right away.
-Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and bake cookies for 7-8 minutes.
-Wait until cookies are cooled before icing.

I found that this recipe made 30-32 big, thick cookies. I decorated the cookies with an edge of buttercream, filling of royal icing, and decoration with buttercream.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Simple Focaccia Bread

I am planning to make paninis tomorrow with grilled chicken and swiss or cheddar cheese. I have a kind of spicy sauce that I am going to put on them (just something leftover from girls' night from last Tues). We tasted a bite of it tonight and it tastes like an herbed breadstick--it's really good. It could definitely be served on its own as the bread with a meal or as a sandwich. Use as little olive oil as possible to make it best and best for you. (you will have to use some though!)

Blitz Bread: No-Fuss Focaccia

(Somewhat adapted from King Arthur Flour) and I adapted it slightly from another blog! http://heatherdrive.blogspot.com/


1 1/2 cups warm water

3 tbsp. olive oil (plus additional for drizzling)

1 1/4 tsp. salt

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 packet instant yeast (approximately 1 tbsp.)

garlic powder, onion powder, cheese powder, basil, oregano, and parsley (or whatever spices you would like to add)

parmesan cheese, grated (approximately 1/3 cup)


1. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan, and drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom.

2. Combine water, olive oil, salt, flour, yeast, garlic powder, oregano and onion powder (or whatever spices you want to use) and beat at high speed with an electric mixer for 60 seconds.

3. Scoop the sticky batter into the prepared pan, cover the pan, and let it rise at room temperature for 60 minutes.

4. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.

5. Gently poke the dough all over with your index finger. Be careful not to poke all the way through--this is where you could cause problems with the dough not rising! (been there done that...)

6. Drizzle it lightly with olive oil (about 1 T is enough), and sprinkle with the dried herbs of your choice (if desired). (I used dried basil, oregano, and parsley.)

7. Bake the bread until it's golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. In the last 10 minutes of bake time, open the oven and sprinkle the grated parmesan cheese on top.

8. Remove it from the oven, wait 5 minutes, then turn it out of the pan onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Chicken Breasts with Tomatillo Salsa and Spanish Rice

This is the recipe of the day here at school in 5th hour. I think they're going to love it! They prepped yesterday and will do the final steps and eat today. I have homemade foccacia in the oven for 6th hour that smells soooo good! They are making paninis with kettle chips and s'mores cake. I will try to post those recipes tomorrow!

Today's Menu:
Chicken Breasts with Tomatillo salsa serve on top of spanish rice

Chicken Breasts with Tomatillo Salsa
Prep- 25 min, 4 servings
2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 13-ounce can tomatillos
3 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
In a plastic bag combine cornmeal, flour, chili powder, salt, and black pepper. Add chicken pieces, a few at a time, shaking once. In a large skillet cook chicken in hot oil for 8 to 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink (170F), turning once. Meanwhile, for salsa, drain, rinse, and coarsely chop tomatillos. Cilantro, onion, lime juice, and jalapeno pepper. Serve salsa over chicken.

**You could also just buy the verde salsa in a jar. Pace makes it. I would still add fresh cilantro and lime juice, and jalapeno peppers if you want, to make it more fresh tasting.

Spanish Rice
Prep- 15 min., cook- 20
Makes- about 5 cups (6 to 8 side-dish servings)
½ cup chopped onion (1 medium)
½ cup chopped green sweet pepper
1 clove garlic; minced
1 Table spoon cooking oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 28-ounce can tomatoes, un-drained and cut up
¾ cup un-cooked long grain rice
1 4-ounce can diced green chile peppers, un-drained
Several dashes bottled hot pepper sauce (optional)
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
1. In a large skillet cook onion, sweet pepper,and garlic in hot oil until tender. Add chili powder; cook one more minute. Stir in un-drained tomatoes, chile peppers, hot pepper sauce (if desired), one cup water, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, and rice
2. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Simmer covered for about twenty minutes or until rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. If desired, sprinkle with the shredded cheddar cheese.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pork Roast with Root Vegetables, Cheddar-Garlic Biscuits, and Apple Tartlets

I am getting ready for our first ever "Girls Night In" tomorrow night:) (first ever, like it's reeeal dramatic). I just decided to ask a bunch of friends if they wanted to plan a monthly night of cards, TV, whatever, kinda like a bunco thing, but not. I volunteered to play hostess first, so tomorrow night it is! We are going to play Nerts. The "rule" is that the hostess provides drinks, dessert, and house, and everyone else brings appetizer finger food things.

So...tonight I wanted to make Norris good dinner because I feel a little badly for kicking him out tomorrow night. Well, he's not kicked out, but he probably won't want to hang around in the basement or anything.
The whole meal was really great. It smelled so good in our house with the rosemary and the chicken broth going. The potatoes and carrots tasted great cooked in the broth.
The apple pockets-- OH my! They are so good. And you can eat just one and get your taste of apple pie! I am excited to serve them tomorrow night!

Tonight's menu:

Pork Roast with vegetables

Cheddar Garlic Biscuits


Apple Tartlets (getting them ready for tomorrow night; baked a couple of them tonight for us to sample!)

Pork Roast with veggies:

Preheat oven to 350. Preheat a large skillet to hot.

Rub a 2-lb. pork roast with some onion salt, fresh ground black pepper, and rosemary. Sear the roast in the hot skillet for about 1 minute on each side. (this sears in the juices and flavor)

Place roast in baking dish with one cut up potato (skin on). Put 1 T of bay leaves rubbed on top of pork roast, or one bay leaf in with the potatoes. Boil two chicken bouillion cubes in 1/2 c water, and pour this in with the potatoes. Also add 1/2 chopped onion. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and rosemary over the top of the whole dish.

Bake this for 1 hr at 350.

After one hour, add 4 chopped carrots. Stir veggies around.

Continue baking for another 1/2 hour.

Take out to let rest before cutting. During this time, make your biscuits.

Red Lobster Cheese Biscuits
1 1/4 lbs. Bisquik
3 Oz. freshly shredded cheddar cheese
11 Oz. cold water
Garlic Spread:
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teas. garlic powder
1/4 teas. salt
1/8 teas. onion powder
1/8 teas. dried parsley
To cold water, add Bisquik and cheese, blending in a mixing bowl.
Mix until dough is firm.
Using a small scoop, place the dough on a baking pan lined with
baking paper. Bake in 375 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until
golden brown. While biscuits bake, combine spread ingredients.
Brush baked biscuits with the garlic topping.


Your call:)

Apple Pockets

TIME: Prep: 25 min. + rising Bake: 15 min.
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 package (1/4 ounce) quick-rise yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup butter
4 cups thinly sliced peeled Rome Beauty or other baking apples (2 to 3 medium)
1/3 cup Splenda
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup skim milk
4 teaspoons sugar or Splenda

Directions: In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup flour, yeast, sugar and salt. In a saucepan, heat the water and butter to 120°-130°. Add to the dry ingredients; beat just until moistened. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Divide dough into four portions. Roll each portion into an 8-in. square. Cut into four 4-in. squares. Cut apple slices into thirds; toss with sugar, flour and cinnamon. Place 1/4 cup filling on each square; bring up the corners up over the filling and pinch to seal. Secure with a toothpick if needed. Place 3 in. apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray.

Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Brush with milk; sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375° for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Discard toothpicks before serving. Yield: 16 servings.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Easy dinner...made while at spin class!

My friend and I spin on Tuesdays, so I had to find a meal that could be ready when I got home.
I made some Braised Round Steak with Gravy, peas with mushrooms and garlic sauce, and biscuits. It was really pretty great! I have a few more packages of round steak in the deep freeze (they were on good sale!) so I am trying to find something different to do with each package...they need to be braised, so this was the perfect recipe for tonight.

Braised Round Steak with Gravy

2 large round steaks, fat trimmed (about 1.5 lbs worth, up to 2 lbs)
1 can 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup
3 beef bouillion cubes dissolved in 1 cup of boiling water

Heat a large skillet to medium high. Pan sear the steaks (about 1 minute on each side). Whisk together the mushroom soup with beef broth. Pour this mixture over the steaks in the pan to deglaze it and create a pan gravy. Put all of this in a casserole dish/roasting pan and put it on about 275 F for 2.5 hours. If you need it ready quicker, this is one of those recipes you could crank up to about 375 for 1.5-1.75 hours instead, or you could cook it slower if necessary. I think you could also do it in the crock pot. Yummy!!!

Oh, and spin was great tonight...always get a good sweat going with that!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Updates; Proud of my kiddos

Updates to the bathroom; found this picture on the clearance and loved it!
And what I'm so proud of...my kids did demonstrations using small utensils in class over the last few days. The girls today did such a great job and turned out with such a great product. They were so proud of themselves, and they had such a great presentation! They chatted and told stories and what they were doing just like the Food Network Pros!!