Sunday, May 31, 2009


Friday officially started my summer break, and it's been pretty great so far!
Yesterday was another HOT day! I won't complain about hot weather though...way better than freezing cold. My dad's kids did awesome at the state track meet. Norris was in a golf tournament yesterday and he got the award for shortest drive...awesome! Best prize of the whole deal--a package of steaks!
Perfect weather last night, fun time. Leaving for Estes Park, CO tonight, back on Thursday!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies

Last fall, I ordered some cookies from a school fundraiser called strawberry shortcake cookies, or something like that, from Otis Spunkmeyer. They were amaaazing. I could not figure out exactly what dough base to make them from and what went in them (although I know there were not any strawberries in them oddly enough!). I searched all over and can't find their recipe or exactly what is in I'm still trying to figure out if it's more of a chocolate chip cookie dough base with different mix-ins or more of a sugar cookie base (it tastes somewhere in between). Anyway, here is one attempt at replicating those, from an All Recipes recipe. These are really good, even though they are not strawberry shortcake tasting!

Be sure to take them out right before they're actually done. Store in an airtight container with a piece of bread to keep them soft. I think these would be a great Christmastime treat, also.

Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon brandy (I used vanilla instead)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries (I used cherry flavored Craisins)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and brandy. Combine the flour and baking soda; stir into the sugar mixture. Mix in the white chocolate chips and cranberries. (At this point, I refrigerated them overnight. I think it helps with the texture of the cookie, so I always do this if I have time.)Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. For best results, take them out while they are still doughy. Allow cookies to cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
**If anybody has a secret trick to the recipe I'm looking for, please do share!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Parmesan-Stuffed Chicken with Melted Strawberries

I get a couple of different daily recipes in my email, including my local paper and Better Homes and Gardens. I have printed off quite a few, but never have I made one the same day I got it. I saw this one from Better Homes and Gardens and had to have it tonight! It also helped that Kris and Mark have a strawberry patch and generously gave me a container of them straight from their backyard (thanks guys!).
I love chicken and strawberries together...when I go through a salad bar I love to get grilled chicken and strawberries on my salad with balsamic vinaigrette (awesome together!) so I knew this recipe would be good. I was not disappointed. I will admit Norris gave me a strange face when I said dinner was ready and told him to put the strawberries on top of his chicken. He liked the strawberries better in his rice--really did taste a lot like sweet and sour sauce. This meal came together very quickly with brown rice and green beans on the side.

Their picture is much prettier, of course!

Parmesan-Stuffed Chicken with Melted Strawberries

from Better Homes and Gardens
(I halved the recipe for us. This is the full version)

3 cups fresh strawberries (halve or quarter if large berries)
2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar (used white wine vinegar)
1/4 cup strawberry jam (used reduced sugar)
Sea salt or salt and black pepper
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 3 lb.)
3 oz. Parmesan or white cheddar cheese (used shredded Parm)
6 large fresh basil leaves (used dried-- about 2 teaspoons to 1 Tablespoon)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
Snipped fresh basil
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a 3-quart baking dish combine strawberries, vinegar, and jam. Sprinkle salt and pepper; set aside.
2. Cut a horizontal pocket in each chicken breast half by cutting from one side almost, but not through, to the other side. Cut Parmesan cheese in six 3x1/2-inch pieces. Wrap a basil leaf around each piece of cheese (at this point, I just combined the cheese and basil in a small bowl); stuff into chicken breast pocket. Secure pockets closed with wooden toothpicks or skewers. (I used heat resistant cooking rubber bands)Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. In 12-inch oven-safe skillet cook garlic in oil over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add chicken and cook 5 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Transfer to oven. Bake, uncovered, 5 minutes. Add baking dish with the strawberry-jam mixture to oven. Bake 10 to 13 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink (170 degrees F) and the berries are softened and jam mixture has thickened. Serve chicken with melted strawberries. Sprinkle with basil. Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition Facts
Calories 395, Total Fat (g) 9, Saturated Fat (g) 4, Monounsaturated Fat (g) 4, PolyunsaturatedFat (g) 1, Cholesterol (mg) 142, Sodium (mg) 461, Carbohydrate (g) 17, Total Sugar (g) 11, Fiber (g) 2, Protein (g) 58, Vitamin C (DV%) 78, Calcium (DV%) 22, Iron (DV%) 13, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tomato Bacon Cups

First of all, let me say: I hate bacon. I saw all those grotesque bacon things around Superbowl time this year, and they grossed me out. The complete mess it makes when you cook it, the stink of the house and your clothes and hair, and the grease burns are hardly worth it. I think it's more the idea that I'm eating bacon than the flavor, although I don't hesitate to put a Skittle in my mouth..hmm...but anyway. I hated it before, and now I hate it more. When I was chopping it up for this recipe, I also chopped off a chunk of my nail and finger. Norris tried to stick it back on, and we've pretty much kept it under wraps since. Hope it sticks. I hate bacon.

For Lauren and Zac's engagement party, Zac asked his mom, my mom, and I to all bring food. I had 2.5 hours to travel with mine, so I needed something I could reheat on my warming trays when I got there. Colleen gave me this idea for an appetizer that I could transport easily.

Despite the fact that I really don't like bacon, I really liked these little bites! They were great straight out of the oven, with melty cheese hanging off the sides and the biscuit bottoms were soft. After a couple hours heating up on my warming trays, however, they were not nearly as awesome. So, I would suggest serving them straight from the oven.
I also brought buffalo chicken dip, which is always a hit! Easiest thing to make, and always gone so fast.

Tomato Bacon Cups
from Colleen,slightly adapted from Paula's Pantry

Makes 40 bites

1 medium tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons real bacon bits (I cooked a package of bacon and chopped it. NEVER AGAIN!)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons shredded swiss cheese
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I like low-fat)
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons dried basil
1 tube (16.3-ounces) Grands refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

I first sauteed the onion in about a tablespoon of margarine. You can do this or not. My stomach just really can't stand uncooked onions, so I wanted to make sure they were already cooked before I put them in the mix.
Combine the tomato, bacon bits, swiss cheese, mayo, onion and basil in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
Cut each biscuit into 5 equal wedges. Work with your fingers to make it as round as possible and press each round into a greased mini-muffin pan. Spoon tomato mixture into cups.
Bake for 10-14 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is slightly bubbly. Serve warm.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Waaahooooo!! Congratulations Lauren and Zac!

If that's not authentic surprise, she's a really great actress!
My younger sister and Zac got engaged this weekend!!! He did an incredible job of planning two big surprises right in a row--he proposed and then got her to come to the place where we were all waiting to celebrate with them. It was a great night and I am so happy for them.

Lauren, I am so excited to be your maid of honor. So excited that I want to offer to make you a dress just like this. I'll wear a dress like the girl on the left, except multi colored, since I know you like color. Okay? One more thing to put a checkmark by--dress-check! It's made completely out of balloons, so I might pass out at the actual wedding from lack of oxygen, but you'll look cool!

If you decide not to take me up on it--:)This is such an exciting time and I am anxious for all the fun things ahead for you guys!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tender Banana Bread

In another attempt to clear the classroom fridge and cabinets for the summer (in hopes that our bond issue is getting us a sweet professional kitchen...!!)I planned an "eat from the pantry" unit to talk about how to budget food dollars and use what you have, which was really just a guise for ridding our kitchen of the extras... I started off just by holding up a few rotten, frozen, then thawed (so really bad looking!) bananas and asked who wanted a banana. They of course gave me the reaction I was looking for, and none of them knew that the best banana bread is made out of those things they are making vomiting noises over!

I know I've said this before, but I can always rely on the recipes at Good Things Catered, so I went there to find the banana bread recipe I wanted to use. I also had a random box of vanilla pudding mix on the shelf so this was the perfect recipe to try.

Tender Banana Bread

1 3/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
2/3 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. shortening
2 eggs
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3 large extra ripe bananas, mashed

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare loaf pan.
-In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pudding mix.
-Whisk to combine and set aside.
-In bowl of stand mixer, combine shortening and sugar.
-Beat on high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
-Add eggs, one at a time until thoroughly combined.
-Add milk and vanilla, then banana to mixture and combine well.
-With mixer on low, add flour mixture until just combined.
-Spread into loaf pan, tap to remove air pockets, and place in oven to bake.
-Bake loaf in oven for 1hr or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
-Let loaf cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely (or serve warm!)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Welcoming Summer

We spent this weekend at the cabin and it was a perfect weekend to be there. It was pretty quiet, relaxing, peaceful, awesome! We always enjoy weekends there. This is the first time we got to bring Bruno, who loved it too. I took this picture of him swimming across the lake...
or I just tried to get the right angle to make it look like he was swimming across!

This was just about the same view as the night Norris proposed to me, and it was just as beautiful. Love this view!

Hey--this one's kind of food related--this was our view from eating dinner! :) It was too nice to sit inside for dinner, so we made a table for two on the back deck and it was so pretty.

The busy week begins today-- preparing the food for Tuesday's senior breakfast (which has somehow ballooned to about 500 people...), regional soccer game, then to school by 5:30 on Tuesday to get that breakfast done and served, then graduation on Tuesday night. After that, I will be sleeping until Thursday if you need me! :) Come on summer!!!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Broccoli Salad: Take Two

THIS is my very favorite broccoli salad! Gram brought it down for Mother's Day. We had so much great food, and ended with some yummy peach cobbler from my other Grandma! I just realized that means we made the mothers bring something...will have to work on that for next year!

Broccoli Salad
(from Gram)

1 head cauliflower, broken into small flowerets 1/3 to 1/2 cup Splenda
2 bunches broccoli, broken into small flowerets 1 cup lite mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped red onion 2 Tbsp. vinegar
1/2 to 1 cup raisins
8 to 12 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled

Combine the broccoli, cauliflower, onion and raisins in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine sugar, mayonnaise, and vinegar; pour dressing over vegetables. Marinate the salad in the dressing at least 1 to 3 hours or overnight before serving. Serves 6 to 8.
It is another "leftover" that gets better every day!!

Tater Taco Casserole

This recipe comes from a magazine I was looking through at my Grandma's house called Taste of Home Cooking Casseroles, Slow Cookers, and Soups (or something like that...that links to the book on Amazon). I jotted down a couple of the recipes I knew would go over well at my house and finally tried our first one. I was definitely craving comfort food and this did the trick! Takes you back to childhood with the tater tot topping! I won't even try to pass this off as healthy, but I do like that it has the starch, meat, and a vegetable all in one dish. Norris really liked it and said I should make it every week. That's definitely not in the plans, but it was good! I think it would also be really good if you replaced one pound of the beef with a can of black beans. I also broiled it on high for about four minutes after the baking time was up to give the tater tots a little more crunch. Top it with a little salsa and it's good to go!

"Our family lives and works on a ranch," remarks Ronna Lewis from Plains, Kansas. "I like to fix this nicely seasoned casserole ahead of time and freeze it for later use. It's good with a tossed salad or nacho chips and dip."-- I copied the review too, because freezing it is a great idea! Plus, a lady that lives not too far away from us submitted it!


2 pounds ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 envelope taco seasoning
2/3 cup water
1 can (11 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
1 can (11 ounces) condensed fiesta nacho cheese soup, undiluted
1 package (32 ounces) frozen Tater Tots
Directions: In a skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in taco seasoning and water. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Stir in corn and soup. Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Arrange Tater Tots in a single layer over the top. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until potatoes are crispy and golden brown. (at this point I broiled on high for another 4 minutes)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Strip Steaks with Shallot Sauce

Say that five times fast--strip steaks with shallot sauce, strip steaks with shallot sauce, ...... !

The sauce is the really great thing about this meal. It would be good on chicken, and probably even good thinned out a little as a pasta sauce! Kids really liked it and I loooved it. So much that I saved the rest of the sauce and have been putting it on random things since. Bear with the picture--it's a small chunk of ribeye with sauce on top. I ate the strip with the sauce too fast, and the next thing we put it on was leftover ribeye, so that's the picture you get today! This whole dish is done very quickly.
Pan Seared Strip Steaks

24 oz. New York Strip Steaks
2 T vegetable oil
½ t salt
¼ t pepper
2 T all purpose flour
1 cup beef broth
4 shallots, thinly sliced
1 t dried basil
1 t dried thyme

1. Place steaks in plastic bag. Add vegetable oil and shake to coat steaks. Season with salt and pepper and shake.
2. Heat a large skillet to medium high.
3. Sear steaks for 3 minutes on each side. Reduce heat to medium.
4. Cook steaks until desired doneness; about 7 minutes on each side.
5. Put steaks on serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm.
6. Stir flour into drippings left in pan, then stir in beef broth.
7. Stirring continuously, cook until slightly thickened, about three minutes.
8. Stir in the remaining ingredients, then drizzle sauce over steaks and serve.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Couscous with tomatoes

In college, my nutrition professor ALWAYS talked about couscous and how good it is for you, and on and on and on. I finally tried it, and at first the texture kinda creeped me out. I have come to really like it, especially if you chill the dish overnight and eat it really cold. I'm really looking forward to these leftovers!! This comes together in NO time---you don't even cook couscous--you just pour boiling water over it and let it sit there. Cool in fridge. Consume. How easy is that??? The best part is that it tastes even better after it's been in the fridge a few days.

Couscous with tomatoes

Serves 4-6

2 cups dried couscous
2 ½ cups boiling water
½ cup frozen peas
½ cup frozen fine beans
1 T tomato paste
½ t fennel seed
½ t dried chili
1 garlic clove, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 t smoked paprika
1 t oregano
1 dash balsamic vinegar
14 oz plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 oz. frozen chopped spinach

1. Put all dry and frozen ingredients in a bowl.
2. Add wet ingredients and stir gently and leave covered for 5 minutes.
3. Heat or eat cold. You could add roasted garlic or parmesan to this dish.
**If serving right away, make sure your veggies are defrosted.
And the final Mediterranean inspired dish--a beef roulade stuffed with sundried tomatoes, feta cheese, and some herbs. It was pretty good and super tender, but I am not going to post the recipe. Not something I would probably make again just because I am not a big beef and gravy fan. I am willing to attempt another roulade though if anybody has any suggestions!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Miracle Baklava

This is called "Miracle Baklava" because it miraculously takes much less time. I guess it's not really that much of a miracle as it is buying prepared phyllo dough, but it comes together very quickly and tastes grrrrrreat! The recipe comes from Taste of Home, who also claims it to be lighter than your average baklava. If you have never had this sweet goodness before, you should treat yourself to some! Buy the phyllo dough in the freezer section next to the frozen fruit.
Miracle Baklava
Servings: 30
From Taste of home

1 package (12 ounces) vanilla wafers, crushed
2 tablespoons Domino® or C&H® Granulated Pure Cane Sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Refrigerated butter-flavored spray (about 4 ounces)
1 package frozen phyllo dough (16 ounce, 14-inch x 9-inch sheet size), thawed
1 cup Domino® or C&H® Granulated Pure Cane Sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine the wafer crumbs, sugar and cinnamon; set aside. Spritz a 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan with butter-flavored spray. Unroll phyllo sheets. Place one sheet of phyllo in pan; spritz with butter-flavored spray and brush to coat evenly. Repeat seven times, spritzing and brushing each layer. Keep remaining phyllo dough covered with plastic wrap to avoid drying out. Sprinkle 1/4 cup crumb mixture over phyllo in pan. Layer with two sheets of phyllo, spritzing and brushing with butter-flavored spray between each. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup crumb mixture; repeat 11 times. Top with one phyllo sheet; spritz and brush with butter-flavored spray. Repeat seven more times, spritzing and brushing each layer. Cut into 15 squares; cut each square in half diagonally. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring the sugar, water, honey and lemon peel to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Cool to lukewarm. Pour syrup over warm baklava. Yield: 30 servings.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Beef Stew with rice

I know this is definitely not stew season, but save this for next time you get a cold front--it's great! It's a nice change in taste. The broth mixed with the marsala cooking wine is a great flavor combination. Loved this! How do you take a good picture of soup??
Beef Stew over Rice
Serves 6-8

½ large onion, chopped
1 ½ t fennel seed
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
¼ c olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
2 lbs stew meat
Salt, pepper, and flour to coat
1/3 to ½ cup marsala cooking wine
2 cups beef broth
½ cup rice

1. Saute vegetables in 2 T olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Saute until soft and onions are translucent. Remove vegetables and set aside.
2. Sprinkle meat with enough flour to lightly coat each side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Brown meat on all sides in 2 T olive oil.
4. Deglaze the pan with marsala, being sure to scrape up all the bits.
5. Add broth, vegetables, and rice. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cream Cheese Icing

For dinner theater last week, they wanted us to make boxed cake mix cupcakes and cream cheese icing. Good Things Catered is always a good place to go for good, reliable recipes. We used this recipe, minus the lemon juice, to top Devil's Food cupcakes. Everyone seemed to love them! I am sending them with Norris for his first graders, and I'm certain they'll get inhaled there too! Oh, and click on the Good Things Catered link and look at her latest entry--who wants to make that strawberry rhubarb pie for me? YUM!!

Cream Cheese Icing

8 oz. cream cheese, room temp
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon juice
3 c. powdered sugar

In bowl of stand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until creamy.
-slowly add sugar, then vanilla and lemon juice.
-Add water or milk 1/2 Tbsp at a time until desired consistency has been reached.
-When cupcakes are completely cooled, frost and serve.

icing for 24 cupcakes

Monday, May 11, 2009

Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Bars

At the end of each school year, I am faced with a bunch of random ingredients that need to be used up before we all leave for the summer. I had a little bit of chocolate chips, some random coconut (why did we even have that??), oatmeal, and staples, so we made some of these. I thought they were good, and I don't even like coconut. The kids (even the normally picky ones) gobbled them up also.

Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Bars

1 cup sugar
1 t cinnamon
1 cup butter or margarine
2 eggs
3 cups uncooked oatmeal
1 cup flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 cup flaked coconut
2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a rectangular baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix sugar, cinnamon, butter or margarine and eggs until creamy.
Blend oatmeal into egg mixture.
Dump flour on top of oatmeal and egg mixture. Sprinkle baking soda over flour. Using a fork, blend baking soda into flour. Continue mixing until all ingredients are blended.
Add coconut and blend into dough.
Press dough into baking dish. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top.
Bake in hot oven until chips are melted and cookie crust is done (about 20 minutes). **We found it to be more like 30-35 minutes.
Cool and cut into bars.


Sunday, May 10, 2009


The student in charge of the salad course for our Mediterranean meal was really stumped, thinking she'd never had anything like that before. I reminded her of a great restaurant in town, Bella Luna, and how much she loves that place--oh yeah!! Fattoush!

We used this recipe from all recipes, and after more than a few trips to different grocery stores, I finally found the mint we needed and we were ready to prep. (I think I should grow my own mint, right? I hear it's easy.... )


3 pita rounds, torn into pieces
oil for frying
6 cups torn romaine lettuce
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 small cucumbers, peeled and diced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 green onions, minced
15 fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon cilantro

1/4 cup lemon juice (I would start with 2 Tablespoons, taste the dressing, and go up to 1/4 cup as necessary--you can get too tangy here)
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1 pinch celery salt
1 pinch garlic powder
1/4 cup olive oil

1.Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place pita pieces into the skillet without crowding. Fry in batches until browned; then remove to paper towels.
2.Place romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, green onions, mint leaves, parsley, and cilantro into a large bowl.
3.Pour lemon juice and white wine vinegar into a small bowl. Season with salt, lemon pepper, onion flakes, celery salt, and garlic powder. Stir in olive oil.
4.Gently toss salad with fried pita pieces and dressing. Adjust seasonings to taste, and serve.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Greek Chicken Wings with cucumber sauce

I am convinced that no matter what cuisine from around the whole world you choose to base a meal around, teenagers will figure out how to work chicken wings into it, whether they're buffalo, barbecue, or, in this case, Greek!

These would be great right alongside the regular buffalo wings at a football party. We found this recipe on Taste of Home.

Greek Chicken Wings
Makes 17 servings
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 pounds frozen chicken wingettes, thawed

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup chopped peeled cucumber
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons snipped fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dill weed
1 garlic clove, peeled
Dash salt

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the lemon juice, oil, honey, oregano, garlic and salt. Add chicken wings; seal bag and toss to coat. Refrigerate overnight. In a blender, combine the sauce ingredients; cover and process until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl; cover and refrigerate until serving. Drain and discard marinade. Place wings on a rack in a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 35-40 minutes or until juices run clear, turning once. Serve with cucumber sauce. Yield: about 3 dozen (1 cup sauce).

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mediterranean Grilled Vegetable Soup

For the final meal preparation in ProStart, the students chose to do a Mediterranean themed meal. They each chose one course to prepare and then had to find a recipe to make. The person who chose soup chose this recipe from Eating Well (another good recipe from them!). It was so easy to make, has no cooking time (although you could serve it hot), really healthy, and so fresh and good tasting! Definitely not a pretty looking dish, but really good!
Mediterranean Grilled Vegetable Soup
2 red bell peppers, cored and quartered lengthwise
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and quartered lengthwise
2 small zucchini, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
1 red onion, peeled and cut into ½ inch thick slices
1 t olive oil
3 large tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled
½ t oregano
¼ c basil leaves, shredded
1 T red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups water or chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/4 cup milk or cream (we added milk and broth AFTER this picture was taken, to make it creamier. Much better!)

Prepare a grill or preheat the broiler. Grill or broil bell peppers, skin side toward the flame, until the skin is blackened, 5 to 10 minutes. Place in a paper bag and set aside for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, brush zucchini and onion slices with oil and grill or broil until well browned and tender, about 5 minutes. Chop coarsely and set aside.
Peel the peppers. Coarsely chop the yellow pepper and set aside with the reserved zucchini and onions. Place the red peppers in a food processor or blender, along with tomatoes, garlic, and oregano; puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 2 cups water or broth, milk or cream, basil, vinegar, and the reserved chopped vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. (we pureed everything together at this point). Cover and refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes. The soup can be stored and covered in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Per serving: (6 servings in recipe): 56 calories, 2 g protein, 1 g fat, 11 g carb, 12 mg sodium

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Crowd Pleaser Cinnamon Rolls

I may have found a new favorite for my cinnamon roll recipe. Most people try a million chooclate chip recipes--I finally found one I love--but I am looking for the perfect cinnamon rolls. This recipe from Better Homes and Gardens is really great, and really easy. This picture also belongs to them--ours actually wound up looking very similar to these! Next time I make them I will be sure to take my own picture! For some reason I've been forgetting lately.

Crowd Pleaser Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 12

4 to 4 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 pkg fast rising active dry yeast
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup water
½ cup sugar
½ cup cooking oil
½ teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
¼ cup butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
1 t light colored corn syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla
Milk to reach drizzling consistency for icing (about 2 T)

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour and yeast. In small saucepan, combine milk, water, the ½ cup sugar, oil, and salt. Heat; stir over medium heat just until warm.
2. Add milk mixture and egg yolks to dry mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl often. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour in as you can.
3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that’s smooth and elastic (3 to 5 minutes). Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
4. Roll out dough to form a 14x12 inch rectangle. Spread with softened butter or margarine. Sprinkle with a mixture of 1/3 cup cinnamon and sugar.
5. Roll up, jelly roll style, starting from long side. Seal seam. Slice into 12 pieces. Place in greased 9x13 pan. Cover; let rise in warm place until nearly doubled (20 minutes).
6. Bake in a 375 oven for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool slightly; remove from pan. Frost warm rolls with vanilla icing. Serve rolls warm or cool on a wire rack. Makes 12 rolls.
Vanilla Glaze:
In a small bowl, stir together 1 ¼ cups sifted powdered sugar, 1 t light colored corn syrup, and ½ teaspoon vanilla. Add enough milk to reach drizzling consistency.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cheesy Lasagna Rolls

These are a variation of a recipe found here. Simple and easy to assemble within the 45 minute time constraint of our class. (I'm one of the few in the building pretty excited for block schedule next year!) This recipe makes enough for 8 hungry teenagers! We sprinkled a little extra of the shredded cheese on top, too. You could easily add meat to these--shredded chicken would be great with the white "sauce" inside.
Cheesy Lasagna Rolls
16 lasagna noodles
2 cups cottage cheese
1/2 c shredded mozzarella
1/2 c shredded parmesan
1 T plus 1 t dried oregano
2 t dried thyme
Pepper to taste
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped fine
2 eggs
2 jars of pasta sauce (we used 1.5 of the "regular" sized spaghetti sauce cans)

Preheat oven to 350.Cook your noodles according to directions until just slightly under cooked. They will cook more in the oven.Combine the cheese in a bowl. Measure out ¼ cup of the mixture and set aside. Mix the remaining ingredients (except for the pasta sauce), into the cheese mixture.
Remove the noodles from the water, and set on a sprayed or lined baking sheet - do not overlap or they will stick together.Prep two 8"x8" baking dishes with oil, then adding a thin layer of pasta sauce to the bottom of each.Take about 2-3 tablespoons of the cheese mixture, and spread it over a lasagna noodle. Roll the noodle and place it in the baking dish seam side down. Repeat with remaining noodles. Top the lasagna rolls with the remainder of the pasta sauce. Then sprinkle on the reserved mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Wrap the baking dish with aluminum foil and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook another 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and starting to turn golden.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Oriental Fried Rice

This is another one of those recipes that can be adjusted according to your preferences very easily. It's best when you make it with rice that's at least one day old! Pour your leftover rice out of the takeout box and add some fresh ingredients to it to stretch that meal one more day. No picture--hungry kids, bell about to ring. It was good stuff! You could stand to cut back on the soy sauce a touch if you want to cut the salt a little.

Oriental Fried Rice
1 ½ c rice
3 c water
1 t salt
1 T margarine

2 T oil
2 eggs
1/3 c chopped green onion
1/3 c chopped green peppers
1/3 c chopped celery
¼ c soy sauce

1 cube chicken bouillon

Combine soy sauce and bouillon in a separate bowl and let sit until dissolved.

Bring water to a boil. Add salt and margarine. Add rice and stir together. Reduce the heat to low and cover with lid. Follow package instructions for time to simmer. After cooked, remove from heat and let sit covered for 3 minutes. Remove lid and fluff with fork.

When the rice is about five minutes from being done, begin this sequence:
Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium heat.
Add eggs and quickly scramble until cooked and in small particles.
Add green onion, green peppers, and celery and stir fry for 2 minutes.
Add soy sauce/bouillon mixture to skillet.
Once everything is combined, add the hot cooked rice to the skillet. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Back for a moment!

I have taken the last week off not out of choice, but because of no time! See, even my dog is giving me the puppy dog eyes that tell me he hasn't seen me enough lately! :)
We successfully fed a little under 300 people at the high school's dinner theater. Many many batches of potato soup and cream cheese icing later, we were done. The meal was simple: salads, turkey and cheese sandwiches, potato soup, and devil's food cupcakes with cream cheese icing. With that and all the other things going on, I am finally back!
This week, Russ and Norris finished our countertops and backsplash and I LOVE it!! I feel like I'm in a new kitchen! These pictures don't do much, but it's great and I love it! No more yellow in the kitchen or the bathroom....woooo hooo!!! Before and after photos...I resorted to prepackages food a couple times this week....made a trip to Great Harvest and it's just as good as I remembered. Wandered around Whole Foods a few minutes and came out with these things. You should make an emergency trip to your nearest Whole Foods or other store like that and treat yourself to some. You won't be disappointed! I guess they must be really good if I felt compelled to take a picture of the actual bag. DORK!!Then we went and wandered through some Parade of Homes places. It's most fun if you go to places you couldn't ever afford. Like this--5000 square foot penthouse corner loft in the new WaterWalk development. This is the view from the bedroom floor (looks out over some of downtown) and the floor below it is living space. The master bathroom counter was so long that I could lay down between the two sinks. Of coures I didn't actually lay down, but I know it was THAT big!! Then the upper floor is your own private rooftop terrace with indoor party room attached. Sweet!! Except you don't have any sort of lawn. Not so cool. The plan for the building is to put a pool on the bottom level and have cafes and shops. Should be a pretty cool area once it's done!

Went to my grandparents' today for my pre birthday dinner, and it was great as always! They are pretty good at throwing together a great lunch considering I called at eight this morning to tell them we were coming... :) But I think grandparents always like surprise visits from their grandkids, right? Thanks again for lunch!!

And I will come to a close because I don't have anything else to say/don't want to bore anyone any more!! Soccer tomorrow night and then I'll actually cook at home a few times this week!