Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy Holidays

I can't believe the holiday break is coming on its last few days--lots of things to do in the next few days, including planning for a new class I'm teaching this semester!
A little of our Christmas holiday:
country cruising with the dog riding on the tool box, his favorite place

I promise, they really do get along--Bruno and Jack. It appears as though Bruno is sniffing Jack's diaper for some goods!!

Treacherous driving conditions--a semi off on the side of the road. Amazing it didn't flip!
Norris wore a snuggie. The funny part is that this belongs to Zac!! He does not look as excited as a Snuggie model should.

Bruno and Maggie (Lauren and Zac's Akita) got along really morning he woke me up whimpering (not sure I've ever really heard him do that before!) so I took him out to go to the bathroom. Of course, he was just looking for Maggie, so he just stood there and ate snow while I shivered and wanted to go back to bed.

Going to a friend's New Year party tonight, and relaxing the rest of the weekend! Happy 2010!

Monday, December 21, 2009


The hitching went off without a hitch! It was a great weekend of celebration, family, and fun! Lauren had our mom's wedding dress altered a bit (removal of sleeves and hat;) and look at how gorgeous she looked:

The "theme" was Tuscany/wine and cheese. The cake was awesome!
Beautiful flowers (althougth I'm sure you guessed that without my caption)

We had the "Catholic gap" between the ceremony and reception. (no, we're not Catholic!) so we went and hung out at the hotel and waited to go. We had a good time there too!

On the bus on the way over, about thirty minutes after officially becoming husband and wife.
Congratulations Lauren and Zac! Love you guys!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Congratulations Sis!!

Pretty big week for my sister--graduated on Sunday, and she's getting married on Saturday! Congratulations to Lauren and Zac for all the big things happening right now. So proud of you! (and I'll be sure to get some pictures to share from this upcoming big fun weekend!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Giving Back

I am so proud of my students that I have to brag on them. Throughout the year, we sell some pretty amazing chocolate chip cookies (warm between classes..can't beat that for high schoolers!!) and raise money. At the end of this semester, they decided to spend the money they raised on Toys For Tots, two children at the Angel Tree, and another portion to the Humane Society. They also made about 40 scarves to be donated to Norris' students at the school he works at, where they don't have much to keep them warm during this bitter cold. I had them pose with their goods this morning..not convinced they like pictures :) but what great kids! (this is just one group of them). Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 14, 2009


These are from a little Holiday Appetizer cookbook I have. I was looking for a savory finger food for our holiday "party" for my Professional Cooking class and wanted to try something different. They are basically a meatball delivered on a cracker toast. The kids really enjoyed them!
Another perfect appetizer for a holiday party--no forks required (don't even need a toothpick!). Very simple to put together. We made the filling and cut the bread circles a couple days ahead of time, then assembled them and baked them the day of.

1 ¼ lb lean ground beef
½ cup grated cheese
½ cup green pepper, chopped
6 mushrooms, sliced and cooked
1 can cream of mushroom soup
¾ cup bread crumbs
½ cup onion, chopped
1 egg
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
about one loaf of sandwich bread

Mix well all except for last two ingredients.
Using a cup or round cookie cutter, cut bread into rounds. (we got three rounds per slice of bread)Butter one side of rounds and put buttered side down in muffin tins. Add about 1.5 tablespoons of the meat mixture and bake at 375 F for approximately 25 minutes.

Makes 42 toasties.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Easy Popcorn Snack

Another great snack that doesn't need cold or heat. Simple: pop three bags of light butter microwave popcorn (or go all out and pop your own kernels on the stove!). Melt one package of white almond bark. Toss with popcorn, lay out to cool, and consume! Mix in some M&M's or nuts if you like. Cheap, easy, great snack that everyone will enjoy!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cheese Straws

Looking for an easy appetizer to put out at your holiday party or to bring to a work potluck? These don't need any refrigeration OR heat, so they are perfect to set out! They're like a giant fancy cracker kind of--really cheesy and great. You can cut them in whatever shapes you want.
Very simple to make and a great salty snack to balance out all those holiday sweets.

Cheese Straws

· 1 stick plus 6 tablespoons butter (14 tablespoons), room temperature
· 3 cups sharp Cheddar cheese
· 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
· 1/8 teaspoon salt
· 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, more or less
· 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Put the butter and cheese in the container of a food processor. Add the flour, salt, cayenne, and Worcestershire. Cover and blend thoroughly. If a food processor is not used, put the flour, salt and cayenne in a bowl. Add the butter, cheese, and Worcestershire, and using two knives or a pastry blender, blend thoroughly. Wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 300°.
Roll small amounts of dough into a long tube about the width of a straw and cut in desired lengths. Or, roll dough out on a floured surface to about 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thickness, cut into strips, and gently twist. Arrange the strips on 1 or 2 ungreased baking sheets.
Bake in preheated 300° oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the straws are crisp and lightly browned. Remove and let cool.
Tip: If you roll them into straw shapes, use a flat block or flat wide dish bottom to roll them uniformly. Makes about 5 to 6 dozen.

recipe from All Recipes

Friday, December 11, 2009

Black Bean Soup

So, have you figured out yet that we did a soup lab last week? We actually had a successful lab in that everything turned out well and it all tasted good!! This recipe is from All Recipes, but we had to make a few changes in the amount of liquid--the original amount turned out basically refried bean consistency. We also added a little cheese. This was excellent!

Black Bean Soup

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
5 cups chicken broth
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground cumin
Olive oil
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream (optional)

Saute onion, garlic, and green pepper in oil over medium heat until tender. Add beans and water and season with salt, pepper, and cumin. Stir well and simmer for 15 minutes.
Pour half of the soup into blender and puree. Return to pot and reheat over medium low heat.
Pour a few drops of olive oil into each bowl for added flavor before serving. Top with sour cream.

Serves 4 (but with additional liquid, it would probably make six decent sized bowls)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Egg Drop Soup

If you like the popular appetizer soup at Chinese restaurants, you will love this one. I think we all agreed that it is better than the average restaurant's soup. (That might have something to do with the fact that we ate it within minutes of dropped the eggs in, while they probably typically sit for a while before we eat them at restaurants.) This will fill your stomach a little before moving on to the heavier foods--give it a try!

Chi Tan T’ang (Egg Drop Soup)

Serves 6

8 chicken bouillon cubes
6 cups hot water
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp white vinegar
1 egg plus 3 egg whites, beaten
1 green onion, minced

In a large saucepan, dissolve bouillon in hot water. Mix cornstarch with a small amount of water and stir into bouillon. Add soy sauce and vinegar. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally. Gradually pour the beaten eggs into the saucepan while stirring soup.
Sprinkle with green onions. Serve immediately.

from All Recipes

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

French Onion Soup

I used to think I didn't like onions, but finally came around. Then, I finally got around to trying French Onion Soup--wow! The onions were much easier to cut using the slicer attachment of the food processor (remember that pretty one we got here at school??) and this was done in no time. Even my students who claim to not like onions really enjoyed this soup!

French Onion Soup

· 3 tablespoons butter
· 4 medium onions, thinly sliced (preferably Vidalias)
· **can cut onions in food processor!
· 42 oz beef broth
· 4 slices French bread, 1 inch thick
· 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Saute onion until golden in color and beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes.
Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover; simmer for about 20 minutes.
Once soup is finished, pour into four soup ramekins and place French bread on top. Cover bread evenly with the cheese and put under broiler just until cheese is bubbly.

Serves 4

from All Recipes

Friday, December 4, 2009

Baked Santa Fe Dip

My sister is getting married this month! Wow! I can't believe it's already here (I'm sure they are feeling that even more though!). We have celebrated with a few showers, a luncheon, and a bachelorette party so far. It's so great to have everyone together and so much love around.
For her bachelorette party, I made a Baked Santa Fe Dip which was really tasty. I got it from Colleen, where I often get appetizers from becaues they're always good. Remember that Smoky Grilled Red Potato Salad from her earlier this year? That stuff was awesome!

I liked this with tortilla chips, and it was also really good on vegetables.

This is a picture my cousin Amber took...quite a spread! And a beautiful bride to be!
Baked Santa Fe Dip

slightly adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
Makes a 9-inch pie plate
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup light mayo
1 (8-ounce) can whole-kernel corn, drained
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chili peppers, drained
1/2 of a 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup green onion, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried cilantro, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Stir together cheeses, mayo, corn, chilis, beans (if using), chili powder, and garlic powder in large bowl. Spread mixture into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 25 minutes or until heated through.
Combine tomato, green onion, and cilantro in small bowl. Spoon into center of baked dip. Serve with tortilla chips.
This can be covered and chilled up to 24 hours before baking. Store cheese mixture and tomato mixture separately.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Must Read: Redeeming Love

This school year started out in a strange way--with a substitute in our department. One of my coworkers was on maternity leave at the beginning of the school year, and Rebecca came to fill in for the first six weeks. We were so lucky to get her! She is a great lady--still our sub of choice:) and comes by to see us every now and then. Rebecca told me I had to read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (all 478 pages of it..) and she gave it to me one day and said I'd probably be giving it back almost immediately because I wouldn't be able to put it down.
She was right--I think I read our entire time traveling for Thanksgiving, and I normally can't read very long in the car. This book was really incredible. It's set during the Oregon Trail/Gold Rush era and makes you want to go live in those times, if only for a few days. It's an awesome love story and a retelling of the Book of Hosea. If you're looking for a great gift or something to add to your check out list from the library, you have to check this book out!! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cranberry Apple Chutney

This "chutney" (cranberry sauce!) was a hit at our Thanksgiving table. We also sold it for treats at school to teachers to pretend like they made their own, and even our principal came by after to compliment on it.
This is so good we were eating it with a spoon, on top of our turkey, straight from the fridge, and wherever else! We were thinking how good it would be on a turkey sandwich, but it didn't make it that far:) This would be great for any meal!
Cranberry Apple Chutney

Makes about 2.5 cups

1 cup cranberry juice
2/3 cup fresh cranberries
2/3 cup chopped granny smith apples
Juice from ½ of a lemon
1/3 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped (optional--use more apples or cranberries otherwise)
2/3 to 1 cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
½ cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted

Combine juice, apples, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and red pepper flakes in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes. Add cranberries and apricots and simmer until thickened and with a syrup consistency, about 15 more minutes. (add in up to 1/3 cup more sugar here if necessary) Stir in chopped walnuts.
mashed together from a variety of sources, starting with Epicurious

Monday, November 30, 2009

Chicken Enchiladas

I know, I'm supposed to be making creative leftovers out of turkey. Instead, I'm decorating for Christmas and making enchiladas. Mmm...I do have an awesome cranberry chutney recipe to share, though!
This is Annie's husband Ben's favorite recipe, so she named them Benchiladas. I'm pretty sure that there aren't any foods that work with Norris' name. Any ideas??

Look at her pictures--they are much more appetizing than the one I took! I served these with saffron rice, which was so good! I like the filling of these enchiladas, but I think I prefer enchiladas with sauce over the top. The Taste of Home light enchiladas will remain my favorite overall, but I'm thinking a combo of these two would be delicious. I'll let you know!

Cheesy Chicken “Benchiladas”


4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

8 oz. reduced fat sour cream

8 oz. Ranch salad dressing (used reduced fat)

flour tortillas (10-15)

jar of salsa

shredded mexican cheese (I used about 1 cup)


Cook chicken breasts by preferred cooking method until cooked through. Set aside to cool a bit.
While chicken is cooling, mix up the sauce. In a large mixing bowl, combine half of the sour cream and half of the Ranch dressing. In a small bowl, combine the rest of the sour cream and Ranch dressing. Stir both until well combined. Shred or chop the cooked chicken and add to the large mixing bowl. Mix well with sauce.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Grease a 9 x 13″ pan (and possibly another, smaller pan if needed). Take one tortilla and top with a little less than 1 tbsp. of the sauce from the small bowl. Spread over the tortilla in an even layer. Add some of the chicken mixture to the center of the tortilla. Top with salsa to taste. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, to taste. Roll up tortilla and place, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining ingredients (usually makes 10-15 enchiladas).
Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes (30 for a crispier tortilla). Allow to cool a few minutes before serving.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Local "celebrities":)

The article on my kids came out in our little local paper this weekend! Here is the link:
I must have been too relaxed, or frazzled, when I spoke with the reporter, and used the word "cool"--I made myself sound really professional... oops!
I think the kids will be excited to see this--they deserved it!
It will soon be on our cable channel--I'll let you know!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!

My dad had a monumental birthday this year (but I won't tell how many:). We had a great celebration for him and actually got to celebrate with him twice! Love you Dad!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

DIY Christmas Decoration

I almost waited until after Thanksgiving to post this, but, well, I didn't. I had a couple friends over and we made these while watching the terrible K-State game this weekend.
They are much bigger than they appear in this picture, and we all think prettier in person hanging up rather than on the carpet!
If you have 8 bucks, an hour, and a wire hanger (the wire hanger was the hardest part of this equation to find!!), then you can do this too!

We followed Eddie Ross' instructions, except we unwound the tops of our hangers because we couldn't figure out how to do it otherwise. Definitely follow the part where it says to first glue the tops onto the ornaments, or they will pop off all over when you bend it to put it back in a circle! We bought all Dollar Tree ornaments and ribbon, so it wound up being about 8 dollars per wreath. Hope you like them!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Let's Say Thanks

This is a great thing that I remember Xerox doing last year too--you just click, and they will send a card to our troops!

I know, not food again! We are making some Mongolian beef and Oven Chicken Parmesan today, so hopefully they'll be good enough to share!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I finally did it! I made non hockey-puck flaky layered biscuits!

These are like those kind you get in the can that says layers on it--except for way better!

We made homemade sausage gravy to go with them. We couldn't think of anything for dinner and were scouring the cupboards and found some sausage (in the freezer, not the cupboard..). Decided to go for breakfast for dinner--good choice! Joy of Cooking had the perfect biscuit recipe. The only difficult decision was deciding whether to put jam or gravy on them..mmm strawberry apple rhubarb jam. I definitely went for both. oops.

Flaky Rolled Biscuits

it made 8 big ones

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Sift together into a large bowl:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder (I used a touch less)

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

Cut in, using a pastry blender or 2 knives, until the size of small peas:

6 tablespoons chilled butter or shortening, or a combination (I used unsalted butter)

Make a well in the center.

Add all at once:

3/4 cup milk

Stir just until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board.

Roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin to about 1 inch thick.

Cut with a 1 1⁄2-inch biscuit cutter dipped in very little flour, and place on an ungreased baking sheet.

If desired, brush the tops with:
(Milk or melted butter) ..helps with browning

Bake until lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veteran's Day

Thank you so much to everyone who has served. We so appreciate what we have because of you.

Here are a couple of videos of returning soldiers that I just loved...the first is soldiers surprising their kids at school, and then the others are how excited their dogs were to see them. The first will require tissues:) The others are just hilarious!

Surprising Kids

Crazy Dogs

Thank you Veterans!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

Well, we went from being one of two people on our portion of the street to only having one empty house! Practically the whole street moved in during the last few weeks, and the lot next to us sold, so we'll have neighbors within the next six months or so...strange! I decided since we are the "veterans" (ha!) of the street, then we should go greet them and bring them something. Annie had some yummy looking peanut butter chocolate chip muffins that seemed perfect. I was a little nervous bringing them to the family with children (I think they're one of about three houses in our whole neighborhood with kids..everybody else is our age and childless or has grown children!) because of allergy worries, but decided to go for it anyway. I doubled the recipe and it made 28.

Also, if you have it in your heart (or your schedule!), and have an extra card on hand, this was posted by a friend today:
There is a news story about a family with a 5 yr old son Noah. He is in the last stages of a 2 1/2 yr battle with Neuroblastoma Cancer. The family is celebrating Christmas next week and Noahs request is to get lots of Christmas cards. Lets get him some, please send cards to: Noah Biorkman 1141 Fountian Viewcircle South Lyon,Mi 48178 Lets see how many cards we can get to this little guy. Please pass this on.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

from Annie's eats

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup brown sugar
6 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
3/4 cup chocolate chips (remember, I cut back, so you can add in more if you like chocolate)

Preheat oven to 375.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together butter, peanut butter, eggs, and milk until smooth. Stir in flour mixture just until moistened. Stir in chocolate chips.

Bake 17-20 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove to cool completely.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Bars

This is a big deviation from the past few relatively good for you meals. This is total indulgence with eggs, sugar, cake mix, the whole deal. I always loved "dump cake" when my grandma made it, and this is similar in concept but with pumpkin! Again, made for school, and all the kids really enjoyed them. They decided to put them on our "Turkey Treats" list for this year. (we make baked goods and package them up for teachers and community to order and then pass them off as their own over Thanksgiving break:)
This makes quite a few--about 26 bars.

Pumpkin Pie bars

Bottom layer:
1 can (29 oz) pumpkin
1 c milk
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 t cinnamon
½ t nutmeg
½ t ginger
½ t salt

Top layer:
1 yellow cake mix
¾ c walnuts, chopped
1 ½ sticks butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 F.
In large bowl, mix together all ingredients for the bottom layer. Spread mixture into a glass 9x13 pan.
Pat yellow cake mix over bottom layer. Spread walnuts over dry mix. Cover dry mix with melted butter.

Bake 45-55 minutes, or until golden brown.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Chili Burgers..veggie style

You probably won't believe me, but I fed veggie burgers to teenagers and they LIKED them! Some even REALLY liked them! (as in, they are planning on making them for their friends at home!) I have had them saved for a long time after seeing them on A Year in the Kitchen and finally got a chance to make them for my students during our trial of healthy recipes. The smell even drew in the pottery teacher next door, who really liked them and he even asked for the recipe later...I'd say they were a hit!

Try these if you're looking for something a little different. We put slices of pepper jack cheese, ketchup, pickle, and mustard on a whole wheat bun. I used the food processor for the onion and carrot, and had to use a little more of the oats to be able to actually form a patty, so do that if it's too mushy to form a patty.

Chili Burgers

slightly adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Lowfat Favorites
Makes 3-4 patties (hmm...I got 5 good sized patties plus one small one)

1/2 yellow onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, shredded
1 tsp. dark mexican chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 15 oz. can dark red kidney beans, drained
1 tbsp. dark brown mustard
2 tbsp. worchestershire sauce
2 tbsp. ketchup
1/2 c. quick cooking oats

Hamburger buns (light whole wheat)
Sprinkle of monterey jack cheese

Heat a large skillet over medium low. Spray with nonstick spray, saute onion, garlic and carrots for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
While veggies cook, drain beans, and add to a bowl. Mash with a potato masher.
Add mustard, worchestershire, ketchup, chili powder, cumin and oats.
Scrape veggies out of pan, add to bean mixture.
Mix burgers thoroughly, form into 3-4 patties.
Heat same skillet over medium-high. Spray with nonstick spray.
Drop patties into skillet, cook for 5-6 minutes per side.
After flipping, add cheese, cover to melt.
Serve on a bun with condiments.

Friday, November 6, 2009

OCD Thanksgiving

This (which of course is supposed to be from a friend of a coworker, etc., who knows...) is hilarious! This really sounds like the type of Thanksgiving I want to attend, how about you? See you for turkey!

**The Lisa Byron Chesterford family one is especially funny to me...contribute at an adult level!

(an email sent to family)

Re: Happy Thanksgiving!

---From: Marney

As you all know a fabulous Thanksgiving Dinner does not make itself. I need to ask each of you to help by bringing something to complete the meal. I truly appreciate your offers to assist with the meal preparation.Now, while I do have quite a sense of humor and joke around all the time, I COULD NOT BE MORE SERIOUS when I am providing you with your Thanksgiving instructions and orders. I am very particular, so please perform your task EXACTLY as I have requested and read your portion very carefully.
If I ask you to bring your offering in a container that has a lid, bring your offering in a container WITH A LID, NOT ALUMINUM FOIL! If I ask you to bring a serving spoon for your dish, BRING A SERVING SPOON, NOT A SOUP SPOON! And please do not forget anything.All food that is to be cooked should already be prepared, bring it hot and ready to serve, warm or room temp. These are your ONLY THREE options.
Anything meant to be served cold should, of course, already be cold.

HJB—Dinner wine

The Mike Byron Family
1. Turnips in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. Please do not fill the casserole all the way up to the top, it gets too messy. I know this may come as a bit of a surprise to you, but most of us hate turnips so don't feel like you a have to feed an army.
2. Two half gallons of ice cream, one must be VANILLA, I don't care what the other one is. No store brands please. I did see an ad this morning for Hagan Daz Peppermint Bark Ice Cream, yum!! (no pressure here, though).
3. Toppings for the ice cream.
4. A case of bottled water, NOT gallons, any brand is ok.

The Bob Byron Family
1. Green beans or asparagus (not both) in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. If you are making the green beans, please prepare FOUR pounds, if you are making asparagus please prepare FIVE pounds. It is up to you how you wish to prepare them, no soupy sauces, no cheese (you know how Mike is), a light sprinkling of toasted nuts, or pancetta, or some EVOO would be a nice way to jazz them up.
2. A case of beer of your choice (I have Coors Light and Corona) or a bottle of clos du bois chardonnay (you will have to let me know which you will bring prior to 11/22).

The Lisa Byron Chesterford Family
1. Lisa as a married woman you are now required to contribute at the adult level. You can bring an hors d’ouvres. A few helpful hints/suggestions. Keep it very light, and non-filling, NO COCKTAIL SAUCE, no beans of any kind. I think your best bet would be a platter of fresh veggies and dip. Not a huge platter mind you (i.e., not the plastic platter from the supermarket).

The Michelle Bobble Family
1. Stuffing in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please make the stuffing sans meat.
2. 2.5-3 qts. of mashed squash in a casserole with a lid and serving spoon
3. Proscuitto pin wheel - please stick to the recipe, no need to bring a plate.
4. A pie knife

The June Davis Family
1. 15 LBS of mashed potatoes in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please do not use the over-size blue serving dish you used last year. Because you are making such a large batch you can do one of two things: put half the mash in a regulation size casserole with lid and put the other half in a plastic container and we can just replenish with that or use two regulation size casserole dishes with lids. Only one serving spoon is needed.
2. A bottle of clos du bois chardonnay

The Amy Misto Family (why do I even bother she will never read this)
1. A pumpkin pie in a pie dish (please use my silver palate recipe) no knife needed.
2. An apple pie in a pie dish, you can use your own recipe, no knife needed.

Looking forward to the 28th!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Macaroni and Cheese...with Cauliflower!

Before you click right out of this or gag, let me tell you--this is teenager approved! We are looking for some good recipes to use for our upcoming first taping of our little show (little, as in, it will only be aired on our local cable channel!! whew!). Our theme is "Fit, Fast, on a Dime" and we are supposed to make healthy spins of recipes. The kids, even the ones who claim to not like cauliflower, really enjoyed this. I really didn't even notice or see the caulfilower because we chopped it up to be as small or smaller than the elbows.
No pictures--imagine hungry teenagers devouring. That's what it would be!
Macaroni and Cheese With Cauliflower

Serves 10 generous side dishes
Hands-on Time: 15m
Total Time: 45m
· 12 ounces multigrain elbow macaroni
· 1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
· 4 slices multigrain bread, torn
· 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
· 3 tablespoons olive oil
· kosher salt and black pepper
· 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
· 2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar (6 ounces)
· 1 1/2 cups reduced-fat sour cream
· 1/2 cup 1 percent milk
· 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1. Heat oven to 400° F. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the cauliflower during the last 3 minutes of cooking time; drain.
2. Meanwhile, pulse the bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Add the parsley, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and pulse to combine; set aside.
3. Return the pasta pot to medium heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the onion, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, just until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Mix in the pasta, cauliflower, cheese, sour cream, milk, and mustard.
4. Transfer to a shallow 3-quart baking dish, sprinkle with the bread crumbs, and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
Using extra-sharp Cheddar lets you use less cheese without giving up flavor. Tender cauliflower adds fiber and vitamin C.
I am not sure where this recipe came from, except a random piece of paper in my recipe files.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The men in my life..

are awesome!

I love getting emails like this:

Hi Cara,
I made your mexican casserole. It was great. Even better warmed up.

And that's the end of the e-mail I received from my dad. I am still holding on to a note he wrote me and put into my lunchbox in elementary on my birthday. It says:

"Hope you like your lunch. I liked it so much I ate the first one and made you another one."

(I was laughing out loud just typing that!)

And as I was walking out the door last night (to go see Wicked, which was AWESOME!! Shelby, you were right--Elphaba was amazing!)-- Norris sees the chocolate chips and decides to make chocolate chip cookies. I have never seen him make anything from scratch before, so I SO wanted to stay home and watch, but I had to get out the door. He made a batch from scratch, and even put the rest of the dough in the fridge for fresh cookies every night. Way to go!!

And can't forget this guy:

And I have lovely grandpas, and a soon to be brother in law and good guys for in laws on Norris' side. Blessed to be surrounded by good men who always make me laugh!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Weeknight Pizza

I should call this "weekLY" pizza instead of weeknight pizza, because I have made it every week for at least the last four weeks! Norris loves it, and I feel better about it since I know what I put in it. I can put it together in less than thirty minutes, most of which are just waiting time, and bake it in 20. Put a salad on the side and you're good to go--quick weeknight dinner, a lot cheaper than take out!

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

1 package fast rising yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (bread flour is best)
1 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

toppings I pretty much always use:
2% shredded mozzarella cheese (1 cup or so?)
turkey pepperonis (I can normally get three pizza's worth out of the little bag)
pasta sauce (yep, the cheap stuff straight from the jar!)
mushrooms (I buy 5 from the bulk bin and it covers the whole pizza perfectly)

Dissolve yeast and sugar into water in a medium bowl. Let it stand for about 10 minutes, or until it's creamy.
Stir in flour, olive oil, and salt until smooth. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes (depending on TV commercial breaks... :) Preheat oven to 450.
Sprinkle a little cornmeal on your pizza pan and then roll out your dough. I always use a little extra flour at this point too so it doesn't stick to me. I have to press it out from the middle to get it to cover the whole pan.
Top it with whatever you want--I need to branch out here!!--and bake in the 450 oven for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sproles Show

We had a great weekend in KC and going to the Chargers game! We got to watch Sproles, which is always fun and brought me back to college days for a minute. We tailgated with a group of 40 or so, and had a really good view from our seats, even though they were pretty far up there!

Our view (above) during the game. My view (below) during the game. My brother in law, who I almost reported via text to the rowdy fan police :)
This was pretty cool. It was military appreciation day and they actually had a group of people take their oath to start their careers in the military. I have never seen that before, and it was moving. Then a bunch of soldiers went out on the field with the flag. There were a couple of cool flyovers too.
And while we were on our looooong trek back home, my family was in Topeka celebrating Granddad's 80th birthday! Happy Birthday Granddad! (oops, sorry I outed your age..nobody would have ever guessed it though that's for sure!! :)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Microwave Caramel Corn

We are headed to the Chargers/Chiefs game this weekend (let's go SD!!) and we are tailgating with a group of fifty plus! It should be a good time. The hosts are bringing all the main stuff and we were asked to bring a snack/side of some sort. I decided on caramel corn and used the recipe one of the other Foods teachers at schools uses with her Food 1 students-- easy and quick and really good! I made three batches, check out the ridiculousness:

Microwave Caramel Popcorn

15 c popped corn (unsalted)
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c margarine or butter
1/4 c light corn syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda
brown paper grocery sack

Spray paper sack with cooking spray.
Pour popped corn into sack.
In a microwave safe dish, heat sugar, syrup, and butter on high for 5 minutes, stirring after the first and third minutes.
Remove from microwave and stir in soda.
Pour syrup mixture over corn in bag.
Close and shake.
Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes on high (yes, in the paper bag!).
Shake well again.
Pour out on large pan to cool.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mexican Lasagna

This recipe is from Cooking Light, and I found it from Mrs. Sac. I thought it was a little bland the first night we had it, but loved it as leftovers! I will make it again as one of those dishes I make on Sunday, bring to work on Monday and eat every day for lunch. (I do that a lot so I don't have to remember lunch every morning!)( do you photograph a casserole? again, just gotta trust me on this one! :)

Mexican Chicken Casserole

Adapted from Cooking Light

1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 (4.5-ounce) cans chopped green chiles, divided (I used a couple of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce instead because I had some and Norris doesn't like the diced green chiles)
1 3/4 pounds skinned, boned chicken breasts
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup evaporated skim milk
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup (2 ounces) tub-style light cream cheese (I used brick and it was fine)
1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Cooking spray
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 ounce tortilla chips, crushed (about 6 chips)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Combine broth and 1 can of chiles in a large skillet; bring to a boil. Add chicken; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until chicken is done, turning chicken once. Remove chicken from cooking liquid, reserving cooking liquid; cool chicken. Shred meat with two forks, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°.Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 can of chiles and onion; sauté 3 minutes or until soft. Add reserved cooking liquid, milk, Monterey Jack, cream cheese, black beans, and enchilada sauce; stir well. Stir in shredded chicken; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place 4 tortillas in the bottom of a 2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Spoon 2 cups chicken mixture over tortillas. Repeat layers twice, ending with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and chips. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pumpkin Dip

We hosted a baby shower for a friend and coworker. I needed to bring something that was snack/dessert-ish since we decided to have it right after lunch on a teacher work day. This recipe is from Erin's Food Files, adapted from some other places, and eventually made it to me. I didn't have any pumpkin pie spice, so I made my own mixture, and put those ingredients here also.

Pumpkin Dip

16 oz canned pumpkin (my can was 15 oz..I didn't want to open another can for 1 more oz.!)

8 oz cream cheese (used light)

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 t ground ginger

1/8 t ground allspice

1/8 t ground nutmeg

(or use 1 t pumpkin pie spice in place of all of these spices)

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Mix the pumpkin, cream cheese, and pumpkin pie spice until smooth. Add sugar to taste until desired sweetness is reached.

I served with sliced green apples and graham cracker sticks.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Alton's Brownies

Friday night (at the freeeezing football game!) I was talking to someone about treats to bring to a shower this week and realized I'd only made homemade brownies one time before. They weren't as good as the boxed ones!! She said I definitely needed to try a new recipe since they are so much better.

I hardly ever make brownies, but had to after that conversation. I decided to try Alton Brown's, since it was something I saw on one of his episodes. We have most of the Good Eats series at school and occasionally watch an episode in class and I really love his style of explaining everything. He suggests to line the pan with parchment so you can remove them from the pan immediately after removing them from the oven so they stop cooking and they're more fudgy. I didn't have any parchment at home (all at school, oops!) so I just cooled them on a cooling rack and pulled them a little before they were actually done.
These are like eating fudge! Look how thick they are. I think if I make them again, I would make them in a 9x13 because I like them to be thinner. The recipe says it makes 9 or 12, but I think it makes more like 18 because you only need a tiny bite because they are super rich. My friend and I stayed in last night to watch football and eat grilled cheese and tomato soup with our HEATER on (weird, Oct. 10!!) and finished off with these. Yum!

Cocoa Brownies

from Alton Brown

soft butter for greasing the pan (I just sprayed mine)
flour for dusting the pan
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar, sifted
1 cup brown sugar, sifted
8 oz. melted butter (yep, 2 sticks. woah!!)
1 1/4 cups cocoa, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 300. Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan.
Beat eggs at medium speed until fluffy and light yellow. Add both sugars. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix to combine.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 45 minutes. Check for doneness with the toothpick method. This is where Alton's episode says to remove them to cool on a wire rack if you used parchment paper and can pull them out. Otherwise, cool, cut, and eat. Oddly enough, in his episode he also suggests to cut them immediately. I would veto that idea!!
Also, this week was spirit week and we have the best group of freshmen for our advocacy class. There was a door decorating contest, and while other classes used stuffed animals and things like that, our kids came up with everything homemade. They were pretty proud of it and we were proud of them! Hope they stay like this:)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Banana Chocolate Chip Souffle

We had a guest chef from Yia Yia's at Bonnie's a couple weeks ago who had this souffle on his menu. Normally the chefs bring recipes that are their own and typed out nicely, etc. He passed out his recipe--and it was printed straight from the Food Newtork! The only change he made was to use butterscotch chips instead of chocolate, which is amaaaazing. You could also use white chocolate.

This has a lot of different things going on that I thought would be perfect for our ProStart Kitchen Basics lab (weigh ingredients on a food scale, chop, diagonal slice bananas, whip eggs whites, fold in, brown butter, measure, etc.) so I made this for my kids as a demonstration and then they made it themselves. They really enjoyed it! It's also really good with butterscotch chips (that's how I like it best) or with white chocolate chips.

Here's the link.

No pictures. Oops. I wanted the kids to eat it before it started falling (it's something you eat pretty much straight out of the oven). We baked it in these cute little soup crocks and it would be a perfect company dessert. It takes a little extra time to beat the egg whites, but if you have a stand mixer, just set it to go and forget it for a while!

Oohh...this is definitely in my "to make" list chocolate souffle!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Amaretto Peaches

This is so good with those cheap peaches in the grocery store right now.
These really taste like peach candy to me. I think it's enough "marinade" to cover more like 6 peaches. I served these over ice cream with a little sauce drizzled on top and sprinkled with french vanilla granola. YUM!!
Marinated Peaches
Serves 4

Marinated peaches:
¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 T Amaretto
1 T Peach Schnapps
4 large ripe peaches (about 1 ½ lb) seeded, peeled, and sliced
lemon juice or Fruit fresh (optional)—if making ahead, use it so the peaches will not turn brown

1. Combine peach slices, sugars, Amaretto, and Peach Schnapps in a bowl. Stir gently to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes for juices to develop. If peaches will stand longer than 30 minutes, it is best to sprinkle with fruit fresh to hold color (or with lemon juice).

idea from Epicurious

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Israeli Couscous with lemon oregano oil

This is what I served under the salmon and chicken. This is a recipe from Epicurious. The lemon oregano oil smells fantastic. I kept stirring it and breathing in the aroma because it smelled so great. I haven't yet decided what I'm going to do with the rest of it, but I'll find something. Definitely worth it and worth hunting down fresh basil--definitely go for the fresh rather than dried for this one. I did used a sprinkle of dried oregano though. (same picture as before)

Israeli couscous with lemon oregano oil
Serves 6

1 ¼ t sugar
¾ t salt
½ t black pepper
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 fresh basil leaves
12 whole fresh oregano leaves plus 3 T finely chopped
2 t fresh lemon zest
2 T fresh lemon juice
1. Combine sugar, ½ t salt, and ¼ t pepper in small bowl and set aside.
2. Heat oil in a small heavy skillet over medium heat and add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until pale golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and whole oregano leaves.
3. Combine with sugar mixture from before and set aside.

1 T olive oil
2 1/3 cups pearl (Israeli) couscous (12 oz)
2 ¾ c reduced sodium chicken broth
¼ t salt
1/8 t Cayenne pepper
2 ½ T lemon-oregano oil (from earlier recipe)
¼ cup chopped fresh chives
1. Heat olive oil in a 3-qt heavy saucepan over medium heat and add couscous. Cook until toasted, fragrant, and pale golden, about 3 minutes.
2. Add broth, salt, and cayenne pepper; bring back to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed and couscous is al dente—about 10 to 12 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Before serving, stir in 2 ½ tablespoons lemon-oregano oil and fresh chives. Season to taste with more salt if desired.

Serve beneath a salmon filet.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Pistachio Crusted Salmon

We had my grandparents and aunt over for a birthday dinner since both grandparents have birthdays in September. We just barely squeezed it in actually in their birthday month since tomorrow is October! My grandpa loves fish, but grandma's allergic, so I thought it would be fun to serve him some salmon. I just made the same recipe with chicken also and baked it a little longer. I really like the pistachios on top, and served on top of the Israeli couscous (will post recipe tomorrow), it's a great overall combo. It's also light!
I made my own "pesto" but just combined fresh basil leaves and olive oil in my food processor.
I absolutely love this stuff!!

Pistachio Crusted SalmonServes 6
6 (5 oz) boneless, skinless salmon fillets
1 lemon
Salt and pepper
½ cup basil pesto (commercially prepared or homemade)
1 cup roasted, shelled pistachios, chopped coarsely

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Using tweezers or your fingers, remove any bones running down filets. Place the filets on the parchment and season lightly with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a light squeeze of lemon juice. Spread pesto sauce over the tops of the filets. Firmly press the chopped pistachios into the salmon to form a crust.
3. Bake on rack in middle of preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the size of the filets. The salmon should just flake a bit and no longer be transparent in the center. Let rest a minute or two before serving.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Look what he did!!

I'm so excited to start enjoying our new deck! Norris made it about twice the size that it used to be so we can actually put a table on it, plus added steps so we can access our back yard. He even built a bench on the lower part for seating in the yard. (this picture doesn't show the complete bench, as he just pointed out!) Now we can see the pond without leaning over the railing--hey, we're waterfront!
The only bad thing about having steps is now Bruno can come stare at us from outside as we sit at the kitchen table which is right inside the sliding glass door. He licks it the whole time he watches us, like he can taste our food. Weird dog!

MONSTER cookies

Another recipe from my grandpa...he makes this dough and freezes it and gives it out as Christmas gifts! It's so great--then I have a couple any time I want! When Norris and I first started dating, I would make a few every time he came to my house and he was so impressed. I like to say that's one of the reasons he stuck around:) (Thanks G&G!!)
Teenagers were raving about these when we were selling them in the hallway today. And I'll admit, I was totally raving too. They have everything in them and they make a MONSTER batch of cookies, hence the name. Enjoy!

Monster Cookies

12 eggs, beaten
4 ½ cups brown sugar
4 cups white sugar
1 Tbsp corn syrup
1 Tbsp vanilla
8 tsp. baking soda
1 lb. butter
3 lb. peanut butter
18 cups oats
4 cups chocolate chips
4 cups M&M’s

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl in given order. Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 8 to 10 minutes at 350 F.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Round Steak with Gravy

The cow that haunts us cloned itself...
Not only did we get our own 1/8 of a cow (I know, how many times can I remind you of it...?), but some friends' parents unloaded some of theirs on them and us. We're so thankful for free food, so we would never complain--I just don't know what to do with it sometimes!
I have no idea where this recipe came from. I just had it printed out and no name on it at all, so if it's yours, please claim it!!
When I picture down home country cooking for your man that just got done working, this is totally one of those things I pictured. It was pretty good! The gravy had really awesome flavor. It calls for using a dutch oven. I don't have one so I used one of my larger skillets with its lid (they're oven safe).

Round Steak with Gravy

Round steak (mine was about 3 lbs.)
2 T dehydrated onion
2 cubes beef bouillon
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups sliced mushrooms

In a large dutch oven, brown steak on boths ides in a hot pan with a tiny bit of oil, until you have lots of dark brown bits on the bottom of the pan. The browning adds so much flavor to the gravy, so be sure and brown the meat well.
Add water (be careful because it may spit at you)--at least enough to cover the meat. Stir in 2 beef bouillon cubes and 2 T dehydrated onions.
Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and cook in the oven for at least 2 to 3 hours (I did 2) in a 350 F oven, until the meat is fork tender. (It was super tender!!)
Remove from the oven, place the meat on a platter, and cut 2/3 of the steak into individual serving portions. Cube the remaining 1/3 of the steak. (I cut it really small). Cover meat and set aside to keep warm.
To make the gravy, mix about 1/2 cup flour with 1/2 cup water and gradually stir into the pan on the stove over medium heat until it thickens. You may need to add more of the flour mixture or more water to get the desired consistency. Continuously whisk. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add in the mushrooms and let simmer for 5-10 minutes. (You may have to add in a little more water if it starts getting too thick.)

**At this point, the original author suggests to put 1/3 of the gravy and steak into a serving dish and serve with mashed potatoes. Stir the cubed steak into the gravy. After dinner, freeze in freezer baggies in 2 cup portions. (she started with a 6 lb. steak)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake

I saw this recipe Colleen posted from Deborah's Culinary Confections (not sure what the original source is...) and thought it sounded like a perfect snack to have around for the week. I changed it a little to use sugar free pudding plus adding lemon extract since they didn't have sugar free lemon pudding. I did make the glaze, but I only made half, which I thought was plenty. Norris loved this stuff--couldn't wait for it to cool so he could try it!

Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake
Makes 1 bundt cake

1 (18.25 ounce) package lemon cake mix
1 large plus one small SF vanilla pudding mix
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 cup water
1/2 cup applesauce
4 eggs
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 cups blueberries
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon flour

Glaze: (this is the whole recipe; I made half)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
water, as necessary

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10 inch Bundt pan.
In a large bowl of an electric mixer, stir together cake and pudding mixes. Make a well in the center of the mix and pour in water, applesauce, eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat on low speed until blended. Scrape sides of bowl and beat on medium speed for 4 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine blueberries, sugar, and flour; toss to coat. Fold blueberries into cake batter with rubber spatula. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Carefully run a butter knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Allow to cool completely and then invert onto serving platter.
To make glaze, combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Add water a teaspoon at a time until glaze reaches desired consistency. Drizzle over cake.

and the man who always makes me laugh. And claims to "love bundt cake"--how can you love it any more than regular cake??--came into the living room last night to show me his new haircut he gave can't see the back that's not shaved at all yet. Hilarious!! But yes, he did finish the cut before going to school, work, or practice today. And yes, I'm sure as soon as he sees this, I will be deleting it :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Crockpot Hickory Smoked Brisket

I made this the other day since we STILL have more roasts than we can handle. At least it lasts a long time in the freezer.
This was really good-- I made the changes she suggested (2T of liquid smoke and 1/2T of celery salt) and it made for a great dinner to come home from conferences to. I was too tired to take a picture--look at hers:) Just wanted to share in case you're also looking for crockpot ideas. Enjoy!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Guest Blogger(s): My Grandparents!!!

First, I have to say how fortunate I am to have FOUR awesome grandparents! They all live within two hours of me too, which is wonderful.
I talked to Gram the other night, and she said that Granddad (the cookie maker in their house) was going to try those cookies I posted the other day, and that he was going to go out and find almond meal and try them that way. He took that challenge quickly!
He even sent me pictures of them all set up on his tray:) They said they had more of a "mealy" texture...makes me really curious to try almond meal now just to see what they're talking about.

EDIT: (from his email to me after reading this :)
I neglected to tell you that I actually made the almond meal.
Using a cup of unbleached almonds, slightly heaped, I processed them in the Cuisinart, pulsing until the nuts appeared as a texture similar to that of corn meal. That amount produced a cup of meal.
Regarding the "mealy" flavor, after the cookies had thoroughly cooled, the flavor was great -- no more "mealy" stuff.
Look, he even took a close-up so we could see the texture!
Love you grandparents!! (all of you!)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Interesting article on Christianity

I saw this article and thought it was a really interesting read. The gist of it is a Muslim-turned-Christian teen denounced by her parents, but I thought the story was really good.

Any thoughts?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Eating Well Chocolate Chip Cookies

Like the title says, these cookies are from Eating Well-- "Bev's Chocolate Chip Cookies". The interesting part comes where you grind up oatmeal to replace some of the flour, then use only whole wheat flour. I didn't change the recipe, so I'll link you to the original on the Eating Well website. These were great, and the dough tasted pretty darn good too :) These will probably be my new "home" recipe since they have better nutritional stats than the Thick and Chewy. Norris really liked them, but said he likes those greasy cookies (aka the other ones with an entire stick more butter!).

The suggestion says you can use almond meal instead of the rolled oats..I've never worked with almond meal before, but I'm curious to know more about it. Let me know if you try it that way!
99 calories per cookie!--and way better than those 100 calorie bar things you can buy at the store!
FENCE= FINISHED!!! Only have to get the gate done and Bruno has new stomping grounds! We even have little patches of grass for him to roll around in:)
I have parent teacher conferences this week plus I am helping out at a puff pastry class tomorrow (which should mean I have some good new recipes!), but also means I won't be around much. Maybe I'll make something on Tuesday night, the only night I'll be here!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Parmesan Country Frie......oops

I was all set to make a real country cookin' meal-- chicken fried steak--for Norris because he likes stuff like that sometimes. I was also trying to find things to use some of our steak from our cow. (again, not doing that this year!!) It was round steak, and I made the whole recipe, and even the pan gravy, but I was not feeling like it looked or smelled that great. Norris came home and concurred that the steak was definitely too chewy (but he did say the gravy was awesome!) we went out instead! Oops!
I have been wanting to go to Jose Peppers that just opened here and it was really really good! Definitely better than a few of the other chain "Mexican" restaurants around here. Their salsa is really good with fresh cilantro stirred in, and the Corona shrimp tacos were awesome! Fresh avocado on top, served San Diego style. And a little blob of that yummy sweet corn pudding stuff. Awesome!
Cooking FAIL, but we found a new place we liked!!

Buffalo Chicken Tenders

I served these with the mac and cheese for a lighter version of a restaurant meal. (hey, we like "kid" food!!) We liked them--serve with more buffalo sauce if you really like that stuff. I don't really like plain buffalo sauce that much, so the small amount on the chicken is the way to go for me.

Baked Buffalo Chicken Tenders
1/3 cup flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 egg white
1/3 cup buffalo sauce
1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
2 chicken breasts (or six tenderloins)-- cut the chicken breasts into thirds if you use them
Preheat oven to 375.
Prepare three shallow dishes: one with flour, salt, and pepper, next with buffalo sauce and egg white mixed together, and last with bread crumbs.
Dip the chicken tenders into flour mix, then sauce mix, then bread crumbs, then place on baking sheet.
Bake for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through. Serve with extra buffalo sauce or bleu cheese.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Farmer's Bounty salad

I'll totally admit that I wanted to try this salad dressing because it was called "sunny"! And, it was created by Good Things Catered, so I knew it would be good. The only changes I made were using green onion instead of red onion and using dried oregano because I didn't have fresh. It was still excellent!

Farmer’s Bounty Salad
6 c. spring mix salad greens
1/2 c. sliced cucumber
1/4 c. sliced red onion
2 vine ripened tomatoes, sliced
2 small fresh carrots, sliced
3 pink radishes, sliced
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon
1/4 tsp fresh oregano, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/8 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
In large bowl, add salad greens. Top with sliced cucumber, red onion, tomato, carrots, radishes and set aside. In medium bowl, combine vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon, oregano, salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Whisking constantly, slowly add olive oil in thin stream, whisking to emulsify. Once combined well, taste to see if extra salt or pepper is needed (or more lemon if the juice had a weak flavor). Set aside until ready to serve. When ready to serve, whisk dressing and drizzle desired amount over salad and serve.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Moosewood's Mac and Cheese

I should stop prefacing things with "this is healthy" but it is, compared to the regular version of mac and cheese. I certainly don't say that right before I serve something, but for some reason feel compelled to type that..hmm...maybe that will just turn you on or off to this recipe immediately, when I should just let you find out for yourself!

This recipe is from Moosewood's Lowfat cooking, and I got it from Ashlee, who just published a cookbook. How cool is that?!?

Norris loves buffalo chicken stuff AND mac and cheese, so I aimed for a healthier version of both of them--inspired by Ashlee's exact same meal she made for her husband. We both enjoyed this, and it made plenty of leftovers for the lunchbox this week!

Moosewood Low Fat Mac and Cheese

1 1/2 c. 1% cottage cheese
1 1/2 c. nonfat buttermilk
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (left this out)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 onion. minced
1 c. extra-sharp cheddar
1/2 lb. uncooked elbow macaroni (farfalle)
2 tbsp. grated Pecorino or Parmesan Cheeses
1/4 c. bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Prepare a 9 or 10 inch square baking pan with a light coating of cooking spray.In a blender, combine the cottage cheese, buttermilk, mustard, cayenne, salt and pepper and puree until smooth.In a large bowl, combine the puree, the onion, macaroni and cheddar cheese and stir thoroughly.Pour the mixture into your pan.Combine the Pecorino/Parmesan and the bread crumbs and sprinkle on top of the mixture.Bake about 45 minutes, until the top is browned and the center firm.