Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cheater Sweet and Sour Chicken

Really, the best reason for this post is to brag on the fact that I had the coolest guest speakers today!! :) My grandparents drove two hours to come to my classroom to teach my ProStart students the art of the cream puff (and give away the secret that they're really not that hard!!) Gram makes them look even easier after fifty-some years of practice. She won't give away the exact number of years--Granddad threw in that it is definitely over fifty though. She has done all sorts of experimenting to come up with her perfect recipe for them, and shared that with my students today. They got to stuff their faces with beautiful little cream puffs, and they will be making themselves tomorrow! Thanks so much for coming!!

So, dinner after I might have consumed a couple of those lovely little puffs... (I did go to the gym though!)...

This is truly my kind of weeknight meal--use up leftover stuff, get it done quickly. Not really a recipe, just my "note to self" to remember to do it again!

20 minute meal:
frozen precut pepper and onion blend
brown rice
prepared sweet and sour sauce (leftover from food sale Friday)
crunchy thingies (La Choy things) leftover from salad!

Chop chicken into bite sized pieces and coat with a SMALL amount of cornstarch and stir fry seasonings (ginger, sesame seed, crushed red pepper).
Cook rice. Heat up pepper/onion blend. Heat up sweet and sour sauce.
Heat up 1 1/2 t oil in a wok. Once hot, stir fry chicken in it.
Plate rice, then chicken, vegetables, sauce, and crunchies. Done!
Back tomorrow with the cream puff recipe!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Happy Birthday little sis!!!

She's 22 today! This is the first birthday in four years that I haven't spent with her, and it's sad!! They were supposed to get to come here, but that blizzard thing yesterday kept them off the roads. Miss you lots and love you! Happy Birthday!!! (of course I also told her this myself, don't worry:)

Cinnamon Raisin Pull Apart Bread

Since we were blizzarding Friday night, it was a good chili night. When it's cold outside, I go into baking mode even more, and cinnamon rolls were always what went with chili in the elementary school cafeteria, and that stuck with me!

I saw these monkey bread like muffin things on this website, complete with droolworthy pictures (seriously, for good pictures, click that link; for my not good pictures, keep scrolling). If you're going to make these, make sure you read through the whole thing first to catch all of the ingredients...I took a couple pictures along the way to help me remember next time, so the recipe is written as we go here, too.

First, you make the dough:

Stir this together:
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c AP flour
2 t salt
1 1/2 t active dry yeast

1 c + 2 T lukewarm water
2 T olive oil

Stir this together, then turn out onto floured surface (every last bit!), put the bowl over it, and let it sit there five minutes (great tip from Joy!).
Go back and knead it for a couple minutes to form a smooth ball (again, look at her great step by step pictures for more info...)

Spray your bowl (yes, you can keep using the same one!) with Pam, then toss the dough back in, turn it to coat, and cover it with sprayed plastic wrap. Let it sit in a warm place for 2 to 2.5 hours, or put it in the fridge overnight to return to it tomorrow. (read her instructions for more on that...)

After the first rise, lightly press out the dough, knead it again for about three minutes, and let it sit for another thirty.

Preheat your oven to 350--you're almost there!

Grease a muffin pan (12) or baking dish with spray and sprinkle with flour.

Get the dough back out onto your floured surface and press it out to 3/4 inch thick. Start cutting into 1 inch chunks. After all your chunks are cut, sprinkle them with flour, then sugar, then cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, combine: (I changed my measurements slightly to reflect my preferences..)
1/2 c unsalted butter
1 c brown sugar
1/3 c granulated sugar
3 T flour
1/2 t cornstarch
1/2 c raisins
1 1/2 t cinnamon

Start filling your muffin tins/baking dish--
for the muffins-- put about three chunks in the bottom, loosely filling it halfway. Top with 1 T of the brown sugar mixture, a few more chunks, and another part of the brown sugar mixture. If using a baking dish, just layer chunks, brown sugar mixture, chunks, b.s. mixture... (again, look at her pictures!)

Bake for about 15 minutes, let cool for 15 minutes, loosen with knife, and take out of tin to devour, because you've waited long enough!! Ours was gone by the next morning's breakfast....

Mine didn't stick together, and I think it's because there was too much brown sugar compared to the melty butter...that's why I changed my measurements to cut back on the b.s. and keep the same amount of butter.
I don't think anybody noticed though...they were awesome!
If you don't feel like waiting around for dough to rise, you could just cut lots of corners and use refrigerated biscuit dough, but then that just isn't the same, is it??

Saturday, March 28, 2009

March Blizzard

I am pretty sure my calendar says March 28, but this is what it looked like outside this morning:

Trees were bending over with ice and it was more of a winter scene that we had all winter.
By this afternoon, icicles were falling off the power lines and trees like crazy. I just tried not to get hit when we took Bruno outside. He loved it!

It will just be a river of slush by the morning, and then probably back to shorts weather in a few days!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Barbecue Sauce

This is the BBQ sauce for the brisket, but I bet it would be good on anything...

Barbecue Sauce

Emeril Lagasse
Yield: 5 cups

4 cups ketchup
1 c finely chopped yellow onions
½ c Steen’s 100% pure cane syrup (I used dark corn syrup, couldn't find Steen's)
½ c dry red wine (I used cooking wine...we were at school!)
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 T Creole mustard (spicy brown)
2 T dark brown sugar
1 T minced garlic
1 T minced jalapenos
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t hot pepper sauce
1 t salt
½ t cayenne

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir to mix well. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Barbecue Brisket

We made this at school as part of our cooking techniques unit, and I had to share the recipe. It is SO good! I would think you could put it at lower temp and cook it all day while you're gone at work if you need to....would be a great meal to come home to!

Definitely don't know how to get a decent picture of a huge hunk of meat...

Barbecued Beef Brisket Sandwiches
Emeril Lagasse

Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 5 hours Serves: 8 to 10
1 (5 to 6 lb) beef brisket, trimmed
3 T Essence
3 ½ t salt
1 T olive oil
4 c Barbecue sauce
2 c low sodium beef broth
8 to 10 rolls, warmed

Preheat the oven to 325 F.
Season the brisket on both sides with the Essence and 1 ½ t of the salt.
Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet or large roasting pan over high heat. Add the meat and sear, turning once, until evenly browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a large roasting pan.
Combine the barbecue sauce, stock, and the remaining 2 t salt in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Pour the mixture over the brisket and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 2 ½ hours. (**If unable to find low sodium beef broth, use regular broth and omit the salt in this step.)
Turn the meat over, cover again, and continue baking for another 2 ½ hours, or until very tender.
Let stand for 15 minutes before carving. Slice the meat across the grain and arrange onto warm onion rolls. Serve with the pan juices spooned over each sandwich.

Essence Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast)
Emeril Lagasse
Yield: 2/3 c

2 ½ T paprika
2 T salt
2 T garlic powder
1 T black pepper
1 T onion powder
1 T cayenne pepper
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lemon Parmesan Shrimp Pasta

Sometimes when things are on sale, I stock up, and then wonder what in the heck I will do with them. This week's sale was lemons, and I wound up with four. Not a ton, but I sure didn't have any plans for them.

I remember seeing lemon pasta a lot from Giada on the Food Network, so I went in search of something similar.

This is a SparkPeople recipe that looked really great, and springy! I am so excited for the storms and sun and everything else spring and summer bring.

Lemon Parmesan Shrimp Pasta

1/2 lb. whole wheat angel hair pasta
1 lb. peeled, deveined shrimp (medium or small sized)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter (or whatever butter like substance you have)
1/4 c lemon juice
1/3-1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese, depending on your taste
1 cup reserved pasta water

1. Bring large pot of water to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, heat butter in large skillet. Saute shrimp and garlic until cooked through.
3. Cook pasta according to package directions.
4. Add lemon juice and parmesan to chicken shortly before pasta is done.
5. Toss the cooked pasta with the chicken mixture.
6. Ladle in 1 cup of pasta water to extend the sauce.

Chipped Beef On Toast

I had to share this post because:

a)This is one of Norris' favorite things his mom makes him. I think she makes it every time he goes home to hunt, and he says he always eats about 10 pieces of toast...oy!

b)the nickname for it is hilarious-- S.O.S., or "S*** on a shingle". I just think that's a hilarious thing to call food that you actually like to eat! I mean, just look at the picture..not exactly an appetizing picture, but he loves this stuff!

This recipe is just like I like it--simple and fast. He was even in the kitchen helping out to get it done faster. I probably asked him ten times if it looked like it was supposed to, because I didn't want to mess up his mom's recipe!

I have to say though...this was not my thing. I was on board to try it, but I had PB&J instead (nothing wrong with that, it's one of my favorites!). Too paprika-ish for me, but the hubs loved it! I will definitely be making it many more times for him. I think I might make my own on the side minus paprika, more like a sausage gravy type thing.

His mom wrote the recipe down for me so I could make it for him here:

Chipped Beef on Toast

source: Deb :)

1 pkg (2.5 oz) Hormel Sliced and Dried beef, chopped

1/4 c butter or margarine

1/4 c flour

1 T paprika

2 c milk

1 t Worcestershire sauce

1 small can mushroom pieces

Melt butter, then stir in flour and paprika.

Stir until thick and bubbly.

Add milk, and stir until thickened.

Add beef, mushrooms, and W sauce, cook 1 minute, and serve over toast.

WW Chicken and Grapes

I am presenting another kind of strange ingredient combo: chicken and grapes! I was in search of some light recipes and came across this. We have a ton of grapes in our fridge from a big sale on them, and all of the other ingredients are staple stuff, so I figured I should at least try it...

The link is to the original recipe, and it is pretty good, but nothing spectacular (I did add basil, because just S&P seemed too plain!). I am going to write it out how I think a similar idea would be really really good:

hmm...maybe I should have considered a green garnish? Looking a little bland!!
Chicken and Grapes

original source: Weight Watchers Total Turnaround


2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 lbs total weight)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly gound pepper

1 t dried basil

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/2 pound seedless grapes, removed from the stem (or 1/2 cup raisins)

2 cups hot cooked brown rice (use chicken broth instead of water to cook your rice)
1/4 c toasted almonds
Rinse and dry the chicken breasts. Heat canola oil over medium heat in large nonstick skillet.

Season chicken with salt, basil, and pepper.Add chicken to the skillet and cook until browned on each side, approximately 5-7 minutes on each side.

Once browned, add chicken broth to the skillet bringing to a boil.Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer until chicken finishes cooking, about 12 minutes. Using your spatula, chop the chicken into smaller pieces (about 1 inch pieces).

Add grapes to skillet, cover and cook for 2 minutes. (do not overcook!) Once cooked, remove the chicken and grapes from the broth mixture, place on a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.

Bring the remaining broth to a boil and whisk in 2 T flour. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for about 3 minutes, until sauce has thickened up.

Spread rice on a serving platter. Top with chicken and grapes, then with pan sauce. Top with toasted almonds and serve.

Servings: 4
And if you've made it this far...I have to say that those burritos are awesome for lunch! I took one out of the freezer this morning and it was thawed by lunchtime, pop into the microwave for a couple minutes and I have a homemade lunch! It kept me full for about 6 hours with all those beans and sweet potatoes!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos

This is another recipe from my allrecipes book that I have had marked for a long time to make! I have to admit, I think I was a little scared of the combo, and even while making them I was thinking I was hoping it wasn't going to be a waste of time and ingredients! They are really really good, and I can see why the original name is "addictive". I am a meat eater, and I didn't miss the meat in these, because there is substantial filling. Something fun and a little out of the ordinary to try!

I debated whether to post this, knowing Norris would see it, and that seeing the ingredients might lessen the chance that he will eat them...sometimes it's better to tell the ingredients after someone says it tastes good!! I individually wrapped them for the freezer to take to work and eat on nights I don't feel like cooking. I kept one out and had it for lunch with a big ole pile of the slaw, and they were really great!

The original creator suggests serving these with sour cream, chopped green onions, and salsa. She also suggests deep frying them, but I think I'll pass on that! You could also buy refried beans to skip the cooking and mashing step.

Appetizing, huh? At this point, I was really wondering what I was doing...

Looking a little better with cheese!!
Addictive Sweet Potato Burritos

from AllRecipes (with a few changes; link to original recipe above)

1 T vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups black beans, drained (4 cans)
2 cups water
3 T chili powder
2 t ground cumin
4 t prepared mustard
pinch cayenne pepper
3 T soy sauce
12 (10 inch) flour tortillas, warmed (I did half whole wheat, half regular)
4 c cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
8 oz shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Heat oil in a medium skillet and saute garlic until soft. Stir in beans and mash. Gradually stir in water and heat until warm. Remove from heat and stir in chili powder, cumin, mustard, cayenne pepper, and soy sauce.

3. Divide bean mixture evenly among the warm flour tortillas. Spread sweet potatoes evenly over bean layer and top with cheese. Roll up tortillas, burrito style, and place in a singly layer on a lightly greased baking sheet. (this is the point you could freeze them to heat later)

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes and serve.
Yield: 12 servings

And the WW tortilla version, all ready to go. My tortilla had obviously dried out by the time I wrapped this one. Be sure to microwave your tortillas with DAMP paper towels on either side for about 40 seconds to get foldable tortillas, and then use them immediately (the last one may look like this one because it dried...:)

Spicy Southwestern Slaw

This is just a variation on a pile of vegetables, but a nice, refreshing, different way to eat your veggies. With cabbage on sale last week for super cheap, it made this recipe low cost, healthy, and great tasting! You could do different variations-- mix of red/green cabbage, use prepackaged shredded cabbage or broccoli, red/green peppers, regular onions, less cayenne (or more if you're brave!), less jalapeno (or again, more!), etc. Adjust to your own preference. I got the original idea from my allrecipes book, which has tons of great stuff in it. A suggestion by the original creator is to serve it on top of tacos, which sounds excellent!
Also, I thought that 1/2 cup of canola oil was a little excessive, and I have made this before only to have a lot of extra dressing standing at the bottom of the bowl. I changed the recipe to reflect my tastes; you change it to yours!
Spicy Southwestern Slaw
3 cups shredded cabbage
2 large carrots, small diced or shredded
3 green onion stalks, small diced
1 bell pepper, small diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1/4 c canola oil
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T white sugar
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 t cayenne pepper
1 T fresh chopped cilantro (I left this out)
In a large bowl, toss together the cabbage, carrot, onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, and cilantro. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Pour over vegetable mixture and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.
Yield: 8 servings
Per serving (with 1/2 c oil, rather than 1/4 c): about 152 calories

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut butter + chocolate chips + M&M's. Do I need to say much more about these? I will say that I got them from "Noodle Nights and Muffin Mornings", and I can see why they have these at every family gathering!

Al’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Makes 48 medium cookies)

2 cups Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 cup Chunky Peanut Butter(or smooth, but I prefer chunky)
1 1/2 sticks Softened Butter
3/4 cup Sugar
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Eggs
3/4 cup Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Milk Chocolate M&Ms

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl combine flour and baking powder; set aside. In a large bowl cream, butter, peanut butter and sugars. Add eggs one a time; mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Slowly add flour mixture and mix until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and M&Ms.
Roll into one inch balls and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for two minutes before cooling on wire rack.
**I made three different batches. The first ones, I left in the scoop shape, and they pretty much stayed in scoop shape. The next ones, I did the fork crosscut like regular pb cookies, and the third I just smashed down a little before baking. Any way works, but I like the smashed one best because you can bake them for slightly less time and get that gooey inside! orrr....maybe you like your cookies all the way done (crazy!), and you would like them non smashed better.

Honey Bun Cake: LightER anyway!

(I took my piece out, then realized i forgot to take a picture! :)

Norris is going out of town this weekend for a bachelor party in Dallas. I used that as my excuse to bake a couple things--I like to bake something and then make it leave our house. Save one piece for myself and out it goes. This cake was really really great. Norris claims it to be the best cake he's ever had. It really does taste like a cross between a honey bun and a cinnamon roll. Make it the day before you want to eat it, and glaze it warm. That will give it plenty of time to get the glaze soaked into the cake. Plus, don't feel tooooo bad about eating it--egg whites, fat free sour cream, unsweetened applesauce--pretty good version of a "cake"! And really, only about half of the glaze actually stays on the cake so if you only want to make half, that would work too. I got this recipe from Macaroni and Cheesecake, (click on that if you want to see a MUCH prettier picture sans crazy dark kitchen shadows!) who got it from all recipes. I will be pulling out a couple more allrecipes recipes in the days to come...when the man is away the woman will cook enough food to serve everybody I know...and then stick it in the freezer for another day that I don't feel like cooking! Those recipes to come.
Honey Bun Cake
Honey Bun Cake
Source: Allrecipes.com

1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow or whitecake mix
4 egg whites
1 cup sour cream (fat free works)
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

For Filling:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

For Glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry cake mix, egg whites, sour cream and applesauce. Beat on low speed until moistened. Beat on medium for 2 minutes.
2. Pour half into a greased 9 x 13 or bundt pan. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over batter. Cover with remaining batter; cut through with a knife to swirl. Bake at 325 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (If using bundt pan, bake for 40-45 minutes). Cool on a wire rack. Flip over onto serving dish.
3. For glaze, combine confectioners' sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth; drizzle over warm cake. Store at room temperature.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Luck of the Irish: Blarney Stones

Blarney Stones:
Gram and Granddad always make Blarney Stones for St. Patty's day and they are something to look forward to all year long! They are basically a cake square dipped in a warm icing and rolled in crushed peanuts, but there is a lot of love and tradition that go into them:)

According to legend, kissing the Blarney Stone is good luck and gives the kisser the gift of gab (which, strangely, doesn't mean to talk a lot!) We have always kissed our Blarney stones before we've eaten them, even when we eat five in one sitting:)

I can't remember Gram ever not making these things...I have childhood friends who still ask around this time about the blarney stones. They turn them into a production in their dining room and crank out sheet after sheet of these things. They are so great, and I plan to always have these around St. Patty's day--they are a great tradition to continue! Thanks for that Gram and Granddad!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Chow Mein Chicken Salad

We celebrated one of my coworkers' birthday today with a birthday lunch! I got this from Priscilla and made just a few changes and additions. It was really great--all four of us loved it!

Chow Mein Chicken Salad

8 cups shredded lettuce
3/4 cup chow mein noodles
2/3 cup cubed cooked chicken breast
2 green onions, chopped
4 teaspoons sliced almonds, toasted
4 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
1 small can of mandarin oranges, drained and rinsed
1/2 cucumber, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup vegetable oil
4-1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 t soy sauce

Combine all the salad ingredients and chill. Combine the dressing ingredients, shake well, and chill. After chilling (at least 30 minutes), shake dressing well again, and combine. Easy enough!:)

Thursday, March 12, 2009


When I saw these "oreos" on Lovestoeat (what a great name! I concur with that thought!) I wanted to try them, but didn't want to make them at home because I eat way too many of things I make for just the two of us! It's almost spring break, so I am sending my kids off with "oreos", along with the recipe. Maybe they'll try them over break?
I colored them green for St. Patty's day, since it is over break! I made about 1/3 of them mint, and I loved the mint ones--just a few drops of peppermint extract did the trick! The cookies are actually crunchy too, which I was really surprised about for some reason!
The original source is the Food Network magazine.


1 1/3 c Dutch processed cocoa powder (or regular cocoa powder)
1 ½ c all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
¼ t salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla

1 stick unsalted butter
½ c regular flavored vegetable shortening
3 c sifted powdered sugar
1 t vanilla extract

Sift together cocoa, flour, and salt.
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Once creamed, add each egg, mixing well before adding the next egg. Once incorporated, add vanilla. Mix well.
Add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated, scraping the bottom of the bowl to get all the dry ingredients incorporated.
Divide the dough into 2 pieces and place one between two sheets of lightly floured waxed paper or parchment paper. Roll out to ¼ inch thick. Do the same with the other half of the dour. Chill both sheets for 1 hour up to several days.
Using a 2 inch round cookie cutter, cut out the dough into 64 circles. Reroll the scraps once if needed. Place the cookies on a sheet about 2 inches apart and chill for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
Bake cookies until they are set and slightly darker around the edges. This should take around 20 minutes. Cool completely.
Prepare the filling. In a mixer, cream the butter and shortening until fluffy. Beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla.
Top half of the cookies (upside down) with filling. Top with the other cookies to make sandwiches. Only use about a T of filling for each cookie.
Makes 32 sandwich cookies.

**Add in mint extract and green food coloring to make mint oreos!

Lentil Soup

Another "new" food in our house--lentils! A great way to get a lot of bulk for cheap. Norris wanted to know what they were, and I was trying to explain them as kind of like beans or seeds...they're just lentils! Look them up if you want!
This recipe is just kind of based on what I had in my cabinets. I made chicken tostadas last night, so I made sure to keep some chicken for tonight, and will make a sausage and egg dish for dinner tomorrow night, so just cooked the sausage early and used some tonight. Use all chicken or all sausage, or neither one, if you want.

I used the greenish brown ones. It is difficult to take a picture of a steaming bowl of soup. When dinner was ready, Norris looked at it and called it "interesting", but I won him over on lentils--he liked it! I served it with sweet cornbread and a few kale chips for myself.

Lentil Soup

Makes 6 servings

Nonstick cooking spray
1 c chopped onion (optional)
1 c coarsely chopped carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 t dried basil
4 c coarsely chopped kale
¼ t salt
1/8 t black pepper
½ c cooked cubed chicken
½ c cooked sausage
2/3 c lentils
1 t crushed red pepper (optional, for topping)

Coat an unheated large nonstick saucepan with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat over medium-heat. Add onion, carrots, and garlic to hot saucepan. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are nearly tender, stirring occasionally.
Add chicken broth and dried basil to vegetable mixture. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in kale, salt, and pepper. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in chicken, sausage, and lentils. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes more or until kale and lentils are tender.
Finish with more sea salt and/or crushed red pepper, if desired.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Not going to be a small one...

Go back to December with me for a minute....this is Bruno when we brought him home. He couldn't go up or down the stairs by himself and curled up nicely in my lap with plenty of room to spare....

And on our way home from Christmas, sleeping on the console. We predicted it wouldn't be long until he couldn't fit any longer. But, when Norris looked at his paws, he kept saying that he was going to be a small dog...
We took him to the vet today, and he most definitely does not fit there! He now weighs 42 lbs (up 26 from two months ago...glad I don't grow that fast!!:). After the vet, we took him to the pet store to get a new name tag and collar, since he was growing out of his old one. His collar, not his nametag--we haven't even had one until now. Bad owners! He was tired, so he slept. Sprawled out on the truck floor.

This picture's angle makes him look even bigger than he seems to me, or maybe I can't believe he's really that big! We got him a new John Deere collar (Norris' choice, obviously!) and a nametag. Hopefully he never runs away and nobody has to actually use his nametag!

Tennessee Kale Chips

I first have to laugh about the trip to the grocery store when kale was acquired. I told Norris we were trying a new green in our house, but he was off to take pictures of this:
The Tennessee Pride sausage people were in the store giving out coupons (that made sausage $1!) and their mascot was walking around. Norris snapped a couple photos and we waved about six times. They loved us!! :)

I got these straight from a great website and have been wanting to try them for a while. I finally felt brave enough to try them tonight, since I was using kale anyway. They actually are surprisingly good! Decent replacement for chips/fries on the side! I went ahead and prepped the kale to bake again in the next couple days--I think they will grow on me more. **Norris did not try them--I think the kale in the soup was enough new for him for one night!

Kale Chips

2 c washed kale (tear the leaves off the thick stems into bite sized pieces)
1 t olive oil
1 t Sea or Kosher Salt
Seasonings of your choice (Parmesan, Asiago, etc.)

Preheat oven to 375.
Spread kale onto cookie sheets. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle seasonings over it.
Bake for about 15 minutes until edges are brown and kale is crispy.
Top with some ketchup!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Exciting news!

According to the blogger thing, this is my 100th post. This is also an exciting post to write!

I just found out that I won a NRAEF scholarship to attend ProStart Summer Institute this summer! It's a $1750 scholarship that covers the registration fee plus travel and food, etc., fees. I am so excited to go. I was planning to go (my district was going to send me) but with the budget cuts and all that, it was a little iffy. I feel really honored to get the scholarship and excited about what it means for me and for my students next year.

I'll be going to the Orlando institute (hopefully) June 14-19. It's at the Orlando Culinary Academy. My second choice located is the New England Culinary Institute in Essex Junction, VT toward the end of July. Woooohooo!!!!!!!

Friday, March 6, 2009


The best pictures I got of these guys was already wrapped up. We made HUGE cookies, as the group requested. We made one batch, accidentally, with the cinnamon and sugar all mixed in (rather than rolling the dough in the cinnamon/sugar) and they were actually really good too! Try it either way.
Snickerdoodle Cookies

From recipezaar
24 minutes/ 15 minutes prep
36 cookies

½ c butter (softened)
½ c shortening
1 ½ c sugar
2 large eggs
2 ¾ c flour
2 t cream of tartar
1 t baking soda
¼ t salt
3 T sugar
1 ½ t cinnamon

1. Cream together the butter shortening, sugar, and eggs.
2. In a separate bowl, mix flour, cream of tartar, soda, and salt.
3. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture.
4. Mix cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.
5. Shape dough into balls and roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Chocolate Crinkles

I will just go with the other picture--I didn't get any good closeups. They are really good cookies. We had a problem with the powdered sugar blowing around and burning in our industrial convection oven, so we just skipped the powdered sugar step and basically made fudge cookies. Good stuff for a chocolate lover. This is from recipezaar.

Chocolate Crinkles

22 min/10 min prep
24-36 cookies

½ c shortening
2 c flour
1 2/3 c sugar
2 t baking powder
2 t vanilla
½ t salt
2 eggs
1/3 c milk
2 (1 oz) unsweetened chocolate squares, melted
1 (1 lb) box powdered sugar (for rolling cookies)

1. Cream shortening, sugar, and vanilla together.
2. Beat in eggs, then chocolate.
3. In another bowl, sift 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt; mix well.
4. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk to shortening mixture, mixing well after each addition.
5. Chill for 2 hours.
6. Form into one-inch balls and roll in powdered sugar.
7. Place on greased cookie sheet 2-3 inches apart.
8. Bake at 350 F for about 10 minutes for soft cookies.
9. Cool slightly before removing from cookie sheet, then cool on wire racks.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies III

Yes, my third, um oops--fourth-- attempt at oatmeal raisin cookies in the last six months. That's not that much, is it? I love those things, and finally found my favorite (although the ones with brown butter glaze are probably tied...) We had to make a big order of cookies that a teacher ordered, so we went with the classics: chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, snickerdoodle, and chocolate. They are all packaged up and probably just about to get consumed as I type...

This recipe comes from Quaker themselves. I'm glad the people that produce the oatmeal also provide a great recipe!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

From Quaker
4 dozen; ready in 45 minutes

½ lb. butter, softened
1 c firmly packed brown sugar
½ c sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 ½ c all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1 t ground cinnamon
½ t salt
3 c old fashioned oats, uncooked
1 c raisins

Heat oven to 350 F. In large bowl, beat margarine and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well. (Refrigerate for about an hour if you have time; I always think this turns out better cookies)
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Spring Salad

First things first: We have a high of 86 degrees here today! I am so excited!!

This salad reminds me that Spring is just about here, so that's what I'm calling it today. I just had to post this because it was pretty and it was so good! Salad's not really a recipe, I know, but I want to make sure I make this dressing again. I looked at a few random recipes on the internet, but wound up with my own concoction. I post recipes just because they're fun to share and so that I can have a place to store them and remember them! Hope you enjoy some of them too. This would be great in the summertime....strawberries are just about here in full swing!!

My salad combination:
romaine lettuce
toasted almonds
sliced strawberries
sliced mushrooms
shredded Mozzarella
strawberry vinaigrette

Strawberry Vinaigrette
¼ c olive oil
½ c sliced strawberries
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 cranks of fresh ground pepper (a couple dashes of regular?)
1/8 t salt
1/8 t basil
1 T Splenda

Combine in food processor. Chill before serving over salad.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride!

Well, the name sounds fun, right? And for zero calories, you can go on your own sleigh ride:)

So corny, I know. But I finally found a hot tea that I like. I have tried a ton of different kinds and I just can't get into it. I have had this box for a little while and finally broke into it today to give it another shot. It's really good! Actually tastes kind of like a sugar cookie! If you can still find it in the store, give it a try.

And that's my random thought for today. We are about to make over 300 cookies that were ordered by a group at school, so I gearing up by getting far too many boxes of butter out to soften and mixers all lined up. My big bench mixer is broken right now, of all times...

My sister and her team won last night and played a great game! Woah senior year. I bet it went fast for her too. It's hard to believe my younger sister is a senior in college. I am so lucky to have her.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Not-Fried Chicken Strips

Still sad that my sister's basketball game was cancelled due to snow yesterday :( What snow?? It must have been bad in Iowa--that's where the other team was coming in from.

I did read a whole book this weekend (The Almost Archer Sisters...it was okay, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it), got a lot of school work done, and got my grocery lists together. Norris and I also spent a lot of time together, which was nice! We had friends over Friday night for smoked meats. Jason brought his smoker and a ton of ribs and jalapeno poppers. They were so good! I just made focaccia bread and fruit salad.

Chicken was on major sale, so we will be having that a lot in the weeks to come. I made a simple chicken strip recipe tonight, just playing around with some seasonings from the cabinet. The mustard makes it stick, gives it more flavor, and is better than adding another egg--try it! These are a little spicy (not toooo much) so cut back on the red pepper if you want (specifically meant for my dad:). Hope you try them--they're really good! No picture. Don't know why. I even sat down and said--I should take a picture. They have a nice crispy looking outside. Norris wants me to try the coating with fish fillets this summer--think that will be really good too!

It's the end of another weekend. Two weeks until spring break. I love my job, I really do, but I am also excited for spring break!

Tomorrow night, we are headed on a roundtrip to Baker and back for my sister's senior night. Unbelievable that is here!

Oh, if you try these with buffalo sauce, be careful not to itch your eye with that same hand afterward. I learned that the hard way tonight. Oops!

Not-Fried Chicken Strips

1/3 c cornmeal
1/3 c plain bread crumbs
¾ t paprika
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
½ t ground red pepper (control the spice here—less if you want)
1 t seasoned salt
1 whole egg, or 2 egg whites
2 T yellow mustard
8 chicken tenderloins (thawed)

Preheat oven to 375.
In a small bowl, combine paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper, and seasoned salt.
In a shallow dish, combine cornmeal and half of the seasoning mixture.
In a shallow dish, combine egg and mustard.
In a shallow dish, combine bread crumbs and half of the seasoning mixture.
Working with one piece of chicken at a time, dredge in cornmeal mixture, dip in egg/mustard mixture, then coat with breadcrumb mixture. Place on greased baking sheet. Repeat with all chicken pieces. Spray a light mist of cooking spray over the tops of the chicken pieces.
Bake in oven for 15 minutes, turning over halfway, and spraying the turned up side with cooking spray.
Serve with favorite sauce (we liked it with buffalo and with barbecue).

Party Punch

This is the basic recipe I use, that I got from Kraft foods, called "Crystal Light Juicy Punch". They provide a lot of different options for flavors. I know it's really basic, but it's been enjoyed at everything I have brought it to. It's also low cal (under 20 calories per cup), which most people appreciate. Those that don't care whether it's low cal won't notice--it's just as sweet as that other stuff!!

2 tubs of Crystal Light Drink Mix
3 qts chilled club soda
2 cups cold juice
1 T flavoring (lime or lemon juice)
Slices of lemons, limes, grapefruit, or oranges

Pour the drink mix into the pitcher FIRST! The club soda will cause it to bubble a LOT. Add the club soda, and stir it in. Then add the juice and flavoring, stirring to combine well. Toss the lemon or lime slices in for extra flavor and to make it look pretty:)
My favorite flavor combo: pink lemonade Crystal light, pink grapefruit juice, and lime juice. Another good one is raspberry ice Crystal Light, limeade "juice", and lemon juice. Like to keep a pitcher of this stuff in the fridge for a good water alternative. Caffeine free as a bonus!