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!!

Comfort Foods

I had some potatoes to do something with, and was really craving some corn on the cob, so it was a comfort food big dinner yesterday! It was kind of fun to make, since I don't normally make things like this.
Chicken Noodles
Mashed Potatoes
Corn on the Cob
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

One Dish Chicken Noodles1 lb skinless, boneless, chicken breast meat OR 2 cans of chicken breasts
12 oz egg noodles
3 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 pkg chicken gravy, or homemade, or can of gravy (prepare the pkg if that's what you're using)
2 chicken boullion cubes

Heat a tiny bit of oil in skillet. Dissolve boullion cubes in 1/2 c hot water. Cube chicken and brown in oil. Meanwhile, in large saucepan, boil noodles in water until soft, then drain. Add hot cooked noodles to chicken in skillet and pour in gravy, bouillion/water, and peas. Stir together until ingredients are coated in sauce. Cover skillet, reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 10 minutes or until gravy and peas are hot.

Mashed Potatoes:
2 Russet potatoes (or Yukon golds--those make some good mashers!)
3 T skim milk
3 T margarine spread
3 T fat free sour cream

Peel potatoes (I normally like them with peels on, but not for this recipe), cut into chunks, and boil. After they are tender, beat with electric mixer, milk, margarine, and sour cream.

Corn on the cob:
Shuck corn. Boil!!:) Put a little Splenda/Sugar in the water to make it have a bit of a sweet bite.

To get it all done at the same time: Put three pots on to boil (one for corn, one for noodles, and one for potatoes). Then, get started on browning chicken while you thaw frozen peas in the microwave. Prepare gravy, then mix that stuff together while you mash the potatoes. Corn is ready right at the end of this--perfect timing!
Serve chicken noodles over mashed potatoes with corn on the side.

And for a fall-ish dessert:
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 c canned pumpkin
1 c white sugar (or 1/2 c white sugar, 1/2 c Splenda)
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
2 c AP flour
2 t baking powder
2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 t skim milk
1 T vanilla extract
2 t pumpkin pie spice (optional)
2 c semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional)

Combine pumpkin, sugar, applesauce, and egg. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Dissolve the baking soda in the milk and stir in. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
Add vanilla, chocolate chips, and nuts.
Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly brown and firm. It may take a little longer than 10 minutes--make sure they are firm on top.

These are good right after you make them, and really awesome cold from the fridge! They might even make a good breakfast cookie....:) if you can stomach chocolate for breakfast that is..

Friday, September 26, 2008

There IS such a thing as too decadent...

In class today, I let the kids who passed their test yesterday make something from the insider's cookbook while the rest corrected their tests. They picked Snicker's bars.
Well, they made it, but didn't have much time to let it cool and (of course) wanted to eat it TODAY, RIGHT NOW!!! (their drama, not mine:), so they didn't let it cool and turned it more into a bar type dessert. Wow, it was really rich! It did have great flavor though, but I'm not so into the really rich desserts. It would be a perfect dessert for a large group because one "batch" would feed a lot of people--I could only handle a few bites. Give it a try if you have a sweet craving and a lot of other people to feed it to! If we would have had time, it would have been much better and easier to work with to actually follow the refrigeration instructions.

On a much sweeter note, (if possible...) my sister and Zac are coming tonight! I'm makin' some fancy tacos:)

Snickers Candy Bar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups powdered sugar
35 individual Kraft caramels
1 cup dry−roasted unsalted peanuts
1 − 12 oz. bag milk−chocolate chips
With the mixer on high speed, combine the corn syrup, butter, vanilla,
peanut butter, and salt until creamy. Slowly add the powdered sugar.
When the mixture has the consistency of dough, remove it from the bowl
with your hands and press it into a lightly greased 9x9−inch pan. Put in
the refrigerator.
Melt the caramels in a small pan over low heat. When the caramel is
soft, mix in the peanuts. Pour the mixture over the refrigerated nougat
in the pan. Let this cool in the refrigerator.
When the refrigerated mixture is firm, melt the chocolate over low heat
in a double boiler or in a microwave oven set on high for 2 minutes.
Stir halfway through cooking time. When the mixture in the pan has
hardened, cut it into 2x1−inch sections. Set each chunk onto a fork
and dip into the melted chocolate. Tap the fork against the side of the
bowl or pan to knock off any excess chocolate. Then place the chunks on
waxed paper to cool at room temperature, or refrigerate for quicker cooling.

Friday, September 19, 2008

"Stolen"/Borrowed recipes!

I have been checking out a couple of blogs-- BakingBlonde and Ellen's Edibles-- for good stuff. I got the apple jacks recipe from BakingBlonde. I just had an apple in my fridge here at work during my lunch hour and thought I didn't want the one I had left to go to waste. I log on to BakingBlonde and voila--she has an apple cookie recipe up!
I thought I had all the ingredients, but I didn't have any cinnamon. I used a touch of cinnamon oil instead and it had great flavor.
One change I would recommend would be to stir some cinnamon and sugar into the diced apple before folding them into the dough. That would have given them just the right amount of cinnamon.
Just in time for fall, the Apple Jack cookie!
(There is another recipe below, also)

Apple Jacks
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup apple chopped (I would small dice 1 small-medium apple)
1/2 to 3/4 cup Kraft Carmel bits or Heath Baking bits (optional)
Preheat oven to 350.
Line baking sheet with Parchment or lightly spray with PAM.
In a large bowl stir together the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.
Beat the butter with a mixer and add the sugar, vanilla and egg and beat until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture and stir to combine.
Fold in the apple pieces (and any other add-ins).
Drop the dough onto baking sheet about 2 inches apart (these spread a bit).
Bake for 9-12 minutes or until light brown and edges are set. Allow to cool slightly on baking sheet and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
NOTE: *DO NOT store completely covered or they will be very very soft and not hold up well due to the moisture in the apples. I find storing loosely covered in the fridge helps them keep their texture, however then the Caramel Bits get hard. I am thinking Toffee Chips might be a better addition next time. These really are best the day you bake, especially after they have cooled a bit but are still warm!

And this morning, I wanted to whip up something for my 2nd hour, since I made something for my 1st hour a couple of weeks ago. I needed something I already had all of the ingredients for. I did a quick check of Ellen's Edibles and magically, she had recently posted something that would work! (my luck today!!)
She actually got her recipe from BakingBlonde. You can add whatever mix-ins you want. They both recommended peanut butter cups, which would be great. I also think chopped peanuts would be good in them. They were excellent as they were though, and my students really liked them. Many of them had never tried them before.
In the spirit of cooking today, we also made a bacon potato soup in 5th hour, to go with the Apple Jacks. In 6th hour, we made the steak and potato chimichurri salad I posted a while ago, and they really liked it. They enjoyed the "different" flavor and many wanted more to take home. I caught one kid licking his plate. He didn't need a takeout box:)

Here is the Blondie Recipe

Basic Blondies
Baking BlondeYield: 16 bars
6-7 Tbsp butter, melted (I used 6)
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder (optional, creates lighter blondie texture)
Ellen's additions:
1 1/2 ripe bananas, smashed3/4 cup mini peanut butter cups (I used Trader Joe's)
Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8x8 pan with foil and lightly spray with PAM.In a large microwave safe mixing bowl melt the butter. Allow to cool for 5 mintues. Mix the brown sugar with the melted butter and beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla. Add salt, stir in flour and baking powder (if using). Mix in any additions (some ideas below). Pour into prepared pan and use a greased spatula to evenly spread mixture in pan and level the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set in the middle. (I baked for 22 minutes) Cool on rack before cutting.

And the last recipe for today (it was a crazy day in the kitchen for me! So fun!)

Zippy Potato Soup (from allrecipes.com)
my kids practed knife skills yesterday so I was able to throw all the veggies they practiced on into a pot and create this AWESOME potato soup!

Prep Time: 10 MinutesCook Time: 35 Minutes
Ready In: 45 MinutesYields: 14 servings

3/4 pound sliced bacon, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
8 potatoes, peeled and cut into
1 medium carrot, grated
5 cups water
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated
2 tablespoons butter or
4 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh
2 teaspoons Worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1.In a large skillet, cook bacon and onion; drain and set aside. In a soup kettle or Dutch oven, cook the potatoes and carrot in water for 20 minutes or until tender (do not drain). Stir in the remaining ingredients and the bacon mixture. Cook for 10 minutes or until heated through.

We are headed to KC this weekend to see our newest family member, baby Jack!! Then we are going to see my family and our possible new exchange student!
Have a great weekend, and enjoy the recipes:)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Restaurant Recipes

I just got a great recipe book emailed to me (it's a giant PDF file, so I can't post it on here) that is chock full of all sorts of recipes, from how to make a butterfinger bar to Olive Garden salad dressing and all sorts of other things (both healthy and unhealthy!) in between. It's amazing and I can't wait to try things from it!
I will post the recipes I do try, but if you would like me to email you the file, I will certainly be willing to share that with you!
Just leave a comment with the email address you want me to send it to!
(some of you are getting it whether you asked for it or not:)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Golden Sweet Cornbread

We had Jillian and Brian with us last night! It was soooo great to have them here. We got to go for a walk and just hang out.
It was a little windy and chilly yesterday, so it seemed like a good soup day. This is what the Rach would call a "stoup"! I made beef stew with this cornbread. (Any soup will do; the soup I made wasn't all that great, and a little difficult for just a soup, so I'm not going to bother typing it out!)
The cornbread, on the other hand, is AWESOME! It's a little sweet and really great!

Golden Sweet CornbreadSubmitted by: bluegirlRated: 5 out of 5 by 830 members
Prep Time: 10 MinutesCook Time: 25 Minutes
Ready In: 35 MinutesYields: 12 servings

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray or lightly grease a 9 inch round cake pan.
2.In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk and vegetable oil until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
3.Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rain Rain Go Away

park across the street
our yard/new neighbor's front yard/street=river
our yard/new neighbor's front yard
street in front of our house.
our backyard.

I have honestly never known it to rain as much as it has since we have bought this house. Maybe I just notice it even more now that I am a homeowner and have to worry about flooding and such?!?

It has been raining HARD since long before I woke up. It is still raining HARD. As in Norris had to take the afternoon off to suck water out of our living room and put extra piping down from our gutter HARD. As in most schools in our area let out early because bodies of water were flooding and they wanted the kids to get home before they could no longer pass roads HARD. As in five busses couldn't make it to pick up kids today because the roads were impassable. Wow!

And this is nowhere near a hurricane. I feel a little guilty even writing "hard" in all caps because if we think it's raining HARD here, imagine what it must be like in those areas that are "facing certain death" if they stay. I am definitely praying for the people in those areas. And even for the (not so smart) people who chose to stay--mainly that they have enough sense to get the heck out of there before this hits. It's unbelievable. If someone told me a tornado was coming, I would go to where I knew it wouldn't get me, or wouldn't get me as hard, and leave all of my possessions behind immediately. I can't believe the people who are staying because they don't want people to steal things or reasons like that. Get the heck out of there!

Anyway, here are some pictures Norris took this morning of our new lakefront property. Will it bring the property value of our house up if we live this near a body of water?!?

Hope you all enjoy your rainy weekend! We will be hanging close around here so that we don't have a pond in our living room. Plus watching lots of football for sure!

Aaand we have some guests coming. I am so excited for Jillian and Brian to come stay with us!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Norris' favorite cookies= oatmeal raisin cookies. So, I had been wanting to make them (since I am absolutely AWFUL at making chocolate chip cookies that look pretty, and no, I'm not exaggerating). I can make them taste good, but not look good, and I wanted something kind of pretty since I'm planning to bring some to my first hour students tomorrow. Norris isn't back from golfing/dinner yet, so we'll see if there are enough left by tomorrow morning for me to bring any to my kids!

On another note, and to counter the cookies:), we went to spinning tonight. I am going to have some sore legs tomorrow! It was pretty fun, so we'll probably go every Tuesday night, except for "girls night Tuesdays".
I made the chewy version (bake less time) and they are awesome!

Recipe from Big Oven

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 1/4 cups Butter
1 teaspoon Baking soda
3/4 cup Brown sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Egg
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Vanilla
3 cups Oats quick or old-fashioned
1 1/2 cups All purpose flour
1 cup Raisins
Instructions for Oatmeal Raisin CookiesPreheat oven to 375 degrees.Beat margarine and sugars until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add combined flour, baking soda, salt and spices; mix well. Stir in oats and raisins. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8-9 minutes for chewy; 10-11 minutes for crunchy cookies.Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet. Remove to wire rack.Store tightly covered.

Birthday Dinner = Success!

Come look and see how big of a nerd I am! I am posting pictures of our living room decorations and place setting...oh boy! But, I was proud because I felt like a real adult. Married, in our own house, having people over for a dinner that they didn't have to eat off their laps!
I just got these new decos and really like them a lot.
The dinner was really great, if I say so myself. Of course, I forgot/didn't have time to take a picture of the finished chicken dish, but it was very good. I would go a little lighter on the olive oil in the sauteed squash next time. I did add a decent amount of crushed red pepper, and it was pretty spicy. I loved it though, and I am pretty sure they did too!
Happy Birthday again, Papa!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Dining room...in progress

Well, here's the side of the upstairs "living room" place that I have not yet filled. I still want two club chairs and an end table, but haven't found those yet...

Our awesome new chairs! We got them at World Market on super sale times two. I just got our new fall centerpiece and that metal hangy thing behind the table today at Gordman's. Still need a server or china cabinet over there in that corner (there's a lot more room than appears in this picture for it!)

And our new bathroom floor. Bathroom is obviously not finished yet, but this is it's progress so far. Wow that color appears even bluer in pictures! I really like the floor in here. We did the same in the kitchen. I will get updates on here on the house soon. We love to have visitors. Please come visit !!!!:) (people I know anyway...:)