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.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lunchbox Edition I

With the start of school, I found myself forgetting to bring my lunch since I had been out of the habit all summer!! I don't want to rely on frozen dinners or granola bars, so I've been making larger batches of things to portion out throughout the week. Last week, I made Sweet and Sour Chicken stir fry (will post soon...really healthy stuff!) and a pasta salad, and I thought I'd try another pasta salad this week. It's about the easiest thing ever, since it uses tortellini which cooks in three minutes. I got it from Carrie, and it's from Taste of Home. Great lunch idea with grilled chicken, cucumbers, and tomatoes thrown in. This less than inspiring photo has none of those things since my husband wouldn't go for the veggies in it! (so maybe I should make it with veggies next time to guarantee it's around for a while....:)

Tortellini Salad

2 packages (9 ounces each) refrigerated tricolor cheese tortellini
4 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
1 can (6 ounces) pitted ripe olives, drained and halved
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 cup cubed part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Cook tortellini according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water. In a large bowl, combine the tortellini, chicken, olives, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to coat.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Just before serving, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and toss.

Hey! Look at our fence that's almost finished!!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Eat your veggies II: Pasta Salad

I have been eating this with my veggies...this pasta salad is good hot or cold, and packs in some more veggies!

"Eat your veggies" pasta salad
8 oz whole wheat pasta
2 chicken breasts (cooked)
2 carrots, sliced on diagonal
1 cup mushroom slices
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup ranch dressing
3/4 cup reserved pasta water
1 t Italian seasoning
1 t olive oil
1/2 to 2/3 cup frozen peas
2 t Kosher salt

Cook pasta according to directions. Before draining, reserve 3/4 cup pasta water into the large bowl you'll be mixing everything in.
While pasta is cooking, saute carrots and mushrooms in olive oil just until crisp tender.
In the large bowl, whisk together the pasta water, ranch, Parmesan, and Italian seasonings.
Stir in vegetables (including peas) and toss to coat. Stir in pasta and toss to coat. Toss with salt. (although I decided to put a little salt on top when I portioned out my serving and was ready to eat instead of right now, but you could do it either way)
Store in refrigerator at least a couple hours for flavors to's good hot or cold!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Eat your veggies!!

I am normally good about eating my veggies, but have been a little bored with them lately and need to increase my consumption. I tried a simple variation in them, and it's working so far!

This isn't really a recipe-- I just cut up a bunch of veggies to store in a bowl in the fridge, then each morning before work, I pour a little fat free Italian dressing plus a little Italian seasonings on them, keep them in the fridge at work all morning, then pull them out for lunch and the flavor is great! I used broccoli, cauliflower, green peppers, and carrots this time...would be really good to add in some green onion or red onion for a little bite.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Juicy Strawberry Scones

These are a great way to use those strawberries in the fridge that are on the verge of going bad. Not necessarily healthy besides the strawberries though:) They are a little more biscuit like than regular scones, which is probably because there are fresh strawberries in it.

Great for breakfast, snack, or gifting to the neighbors! I got this recipe from Katie at Good Things Catered, which is the first food blog I ever looked at when I was in search of the perfect chocolate chip cookie a little over a year ago!

Juicy Strawberry Scones

2 ¼ to 2 ½ cups all purpose flour (depends on how ripe your strawberries are)
¼ c granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 T baking powder
¼ t salt
1 stick butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 egg
¼ c yogurt (I used plain nonfat)
¼ c milk ( I used skim)
2 t orange zest
1 c fresh strawberries, diced

Preheat oven to 350 and line baking sheet with parchment (or Silpat).
In small bowl, combine egg, yogurt, milk, and zest and whisk to combine thoroughly and set aside.
In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, powder, salt, and whisk to combine.
Using pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into flour until all pieces are smaller than pea-sized.
Add strawberries and toss to coat.
Add wet ingredients to dry and mix in lightly with fork until dough just comes together. (don’t want them to be tough from being overworked!)
Turn dough out onto well floured surface and pat into large ball.
Cut dough in half.
Shape half the dough into flat disk shape and cut into 8 slices.
Place on baking sheet and repeat with other half of dough.
Sprinkle tops of scones with sugar and place in the oven. Bake until slightly brown, about 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes.
Transfer to wire rack and let cool (or eat right away!).

MMM….good with lemon curd!!