Sunday, October 24, 2010

Crustless Onion Dip Quiche

Sorry, I haven't been around much. I am pregnant, due in March, and a little sidetracked. But I have Gestational Diabetes and this was a wonderful recipe for me to share at my book club meeting. I didn't want to forget what I did... so here it is. Enjoy!

2 large onions
2 brick of light philly cream cheese
5 eggs
1 T Light Mayo
1 T Light sour cream
1/4 c sour cream
1 T Brown Mustard
2 T Balsamic Vinegar
1 T olive oil
1 can Artichokes (quartered)
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pinch sugar
1/2 t Paprika
Pinch Sugar

Cut onions in half and slice thinly.

Heat olive oil in large pan and saute the onions, with a pinch of salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar, over a low to medium heat for 20-30 minutes, careful not to brown them, just let them cook into heavenly onion wonderfulness. When they are a deep color and soft and sweet, add mustard and vinegar and set aside to cool. When cool mix in a can of quartered artichokes.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, add milk, softened cream cheese, Mayo and Sour Cream. Salt and Pepper to taste.

Spray a deep dish pie plate with pam.

Spread onion mixture in pan.

Pour egg mixture over the onions and artichokes.

Top with shredded Cheddar and sprinkle with paprika for color.

Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes, or until sides are set and middle is not too soft, (it will cook more as it sits), let it sit for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Something is eating our strawberries. We have a pretty big patch now which has resulted in many unripe strawberries, but no ripe ones. Bah humbug. So we went out east to pick some strawberries today. 7 1/2 pounds of strawberries actually. So, I made some freezer jam. I will freeze some for smoothies also, and we will eat some. And I suppose I will make something, but I dont know what.

But the freezer jam is exciting. And easy.

This is the recipe from the box of pectin:

4 cups of crushed strawberries (You can use a food processor but dont over process, you want some chunks. Or you can use a potato masher.)
4 Tbs fresh lemon juice
4 cups sugar
2 pouches of pectin (I used Certo)

Mixe the sugar and the berries. Let sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix Pectin and Lemon Juice. Add to the berries and stir for about 3 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and it is no longer grainy. Pour into small containers (I used the twist top ziplock brand containers and a few other smaller ones I had in the house), leaving 1/2 inch for expansion while freezing. Let sit at room temp for 24 hours to set. May be stored for up to three weeks in the fridge and up to a year in the freezer.

This recipe makes 8 cups of Jam.

I wish I had a working camera. But it is bright red and beautiful!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Blackberry Pie

I was looking for a pie to make for today (it's Mother's Day! ) and I came across a yummy looking recipe for sour cream apple pie. But I have a big thing of blackberries in the fridge (I overestimated Nathan's consumption), and I thought Blackberries and sour cream sounds good.

So I adapted it.

It is similar to the original but I subbed the berries for the apples and used a roll out crust. But here it is:

Sour Cream Blackberry Pie

1 cup sour cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
3 cups rinsed blackberries
1 9" unbaked pie shell

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix together all ingredients until crumbly.

1 Preheat oven to 400°F.
2 Beat together sour cream, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla and egg (can beat by hand). Add berries, mixing carefully to coat well.
3 Put filling into a pie shell and bake at 400 degrees initially for 25 min.
4 Remove from oven and sprinkle with Cinnamon Crumb Topping. Bake for and additional 20 more minutes. At this point I covered the edges of the crust with foil so it wouldn't burn.

Let cool for a hour before serving. Serves 8.

This is the most beautiful pie! I wish I had a working camera, but you will just have to take my word for it. The top is browned and sparkly, the berries are bursting through the top like purple sunshine.


Edited to add:

Or not. I spit it right out, though my dutiful family ate it. The blackberries got hard. I don't know why. But Yuck. Maybe Strawberries would work better? Or maybe I should have just done it with apples. I also made some whole wheat sugar cookies for the kids for lunches this week, so I served those and I will send Paul out for ice cream tonight. It is Mother's Day, after all!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Nana's Noodle Pudding

My Mom's Mom is obsessed with dieting and exercise. But she makes one, very notable, exception.

Nana's Noodle Pudding

1 pint sour cream
8 oz cream cheese
Scant 1 cup white sugar
5 eggs
1 pound of wide egg noodles
1/2 cup- 1 cup corn flake crumbs
3 T white sugar
3/4 stick of melted butter

Mix the sour cream, cream cheese (This is easier if it is whipped, otherwise you might want to use a mixer), eggs and sugar. Cook noodles to package directions. mix noodles with creamy mixture and spread into a prepared casserole dish (I use an 8 by 13 inch pyrex). Refrigerate overnight.

Bring to room temperature before cooking.

Melt butter and add sugar. Add corn flake crumbs until you get a drippy consistency. Drizzle over the top and spread out a bit. You can make as much or as little of the topping as you like, I like a lot, Nana likes a little.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

I am making this and the Pioneer Woman's BBQ meatballs (though I am using turkey) for Mother's day Lunch with our Mom's. Too bad Nana is in Florida. I am not sure about dessert. I am thinking of going out for ice cream.

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Baked Ziti for Sunday... and another day.

I have been so so so busy... both of my parents are having surgery within these two weeks, my high school reunion was this weekend, two communions, birthday parties, two crazy kids... you know the drill. So I wanted to make something that would have leftovers.

Baked Ziti to the rescue!

My sauce came out yummy today so I am going to record the recipe. Let's call it,

Marinara Sauce

One red onion, chopped
One yellow pepper, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 carrot pealed and chopped fine (I actually use my peeler to make thin strips and then chop those)
1 can of crushed tomatoes
4 cans of petite diced tomatoes
Kosher salt, sugar, oregano, parsley, basil, pepper... to taste
One bay leaf
2 table spoons of olive oil

Heat olive oil in a pot.

Saute chopped veggies until tender. Add some salt and some sugar.

Add crushed tomatoes and two cans of the diced.

Puree with a hand blender.

Add the last two cans of tomatoes. Add spices to taste, including some more salt and sugar.

Simmer for a few hours. I put some in a tupperware for another night, and used the rest for...

Baked Ziti

One pint of part skim ricotta, seasoned
One hunk of Mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
1 1/2 boxes of ziti
about half of the sauce above

For Ricotta-
One egg
a tablespoon of garlic powder
a tablespoon of onion powder
a pinch of salt

Mix all those things together and then add the cheese, stir and set aside till ready to use.

Ladle some sauce into a large lasagna pan to coat the bottom. Boil salted water and prepare pasta according to directions. Put drained pasta into the pan and pour a few cups of sauce on top, stir to coat, add ricotta and fold into pasta mixture, adding more sauce if needed. Lay the slices of Mozzarella cheese on top and bake at 350 until bubbly and hot.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Honey Citrus Chicken

This is a riff on a Rachael Ray recipe I saw on TV. I honestly have no idea what she made because I was at the gym and wasn't listening, but it looked like it had Oranges and Honey and herbs. So here is my take:

One Chicken cut into parts
2 lemons
2 oranges
1 head of garlic
1/2 cup honey
1/2 onion
Kosher Salt
Dried Thyme and Oregano (Or fresh, but I dont have any fresh yet this season)

Rinse the chicken and sprinkle with the juice of one lemon and kosher salt. Refrigerate overnight or for a few hours.

Preheat the oven to 424 F

Take Garlic, cut off the top to expose the inside of most of the cloves, sprinkle with olive oil and salt. Wrap in tin foil.

In a roasting pan, place slices of oranges and the last lemon and the half an onion, sprinkle with olive oil and salt and toss to coat. Move the citrus to the side of then pan and place the chicken around, skin side up. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, oregano and thyme. Rub to coat.

In the microwave, warm the honey to make it more spreadable, drizzle that over the top of the chicken.

Place the roasting pan and the head of garlic in the oven and roast for 45 minutes or until done.

Put the chicken, citrus, onions on a platter. Squeeze out the garlic cloves and scatter them around. Drizzle with the pan juices and serve. I will serve this with some bread, some rice, and probably some corn on the cob.

This is one of those meals that forces us to slow down and savor the time together at dinner, and gives us a reason to take a much needed break from our busy lives.

I think it even deserves homemade bread and maybe a special dessert. I will let you know what I find.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Chicken Taco Burgers and Onion Rings

This tax season thing is really killing my blog. I am just too busy actually living life to write about it. But this came out yummy and I want to remember it. You should try it too!

Chicken Taco Burgers

1 1/2 lb chopped chicken
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1/2 onion, minced (Use the small middles of the two onions for the next recipe, as minced onion in the burgers)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 egg
1 packet of taco seasoning

Mix the meat with all the other stuff other stuff and pop it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. It is easier to work with cool.

Using a 1/3 cup measure to plop a pile of the chicken onto your grill pan or greased grill, flatten with a spatula and cook. Flip. Cook some more. Till done. I served these on potato rolls with some salsa con queso poured on top and a slice of crisp lettuce.

Onion Rings

2 onions cut into 1/4 inch thick rings
2 cups flour
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups canola oil
spices to suit your taste.

Heat oil in a large pot.

Split the flour into two bags and season. Drop a handful of rings into one bag, then dip in a bowl of buttermilk and place in the other bag. Shake to coat. You may have to add some more flour to the second bag and it gets too gooky. Is that a word? Drop in the oil, do not crowd them. Fry for a few minutes and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all the onions are cooked.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Secret to Great Matzoh Balls!!

Shhhhhhhh. No, really. This is a secret. Just between me and you. Promise you wont tell?

This is a compilation of the secrets I got from one very kind cousin who went out on a limb for me. (I mean it, no one else would help me. My cousins are all wonderful women, some of whom read this blog, but they can be tight lipped when it comes to Matzoh balls.) Oh, yes, a compilation of Cousin Susan's tips, some tips I read online, and some of my own ideas....

2 boxes Streits Matzoh Ball and Soup mix
2 boxes Streits Matzoh Ball mix (without soup)
Vegetable oil

Prepare the mixes according to the box, but add one extra tablespoon of oil for each box. (this is the trick... the secret... shhhhh....)

Make the mix, let it sit over night in the fridge. In the morning, make the balls. I used my large cookie scoop and did two scoops per ball. Don't over handle the balls. I know I know. Heat up a big pot of water and add the two soup packets. Taste and add some bouillon if you think it needs it. It should be on the salty side for chicken broth. Drop the balls in and cook for 30 minutes (this will leave them slightly undercooked.) Remove the balls from the broth and cool on a cookie sheet. When cool, put in a Tupperware and refrigerate over night. (I did two nights).

The next day heat up your chicken soup (not the salty boxed broth of course, make your own. I have a few recipes on the blog, but it is easy to make it up yourself. I had made and frozen mine last week), and add some carrots and cook until they are tender. Bring the balls to room temp (this is important, the longer they are in the soup the more they will fall apart), drop the balls into the soup, cover, and heat for about 30 minutes at a simmer.

They were declared the best balls anyone had ever eaten.

Oh, as an extra bonus, and this is not necessary, I fry chicken fingers more often than I should. I save the oil I use and reuse it for a while, until it gets too salty. I used that oil in the balls (I didn't have enough, so I used some fresh oil as well) I am sure that adds even more flavor. So start using and saving your oil a few months before passover. ;)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Linguini with White Clam Sauce and Love

I am in the mood for decadent. This is not a healthy version, but it is soooo good.

1 pound fresh linguine
2 cans minced clams, with their juice
2 cans chopped clams, drained
1/2 cup good quality salted butter
2 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
2 T fresh parsley, chopped
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 freshly grated Parmigiana Reggiano
1/2 cup dry white wine

In cast iron skillet heat olive oil and saute onion until translucent. Add anchovy and saute another 2 or 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add wine and reduce about 50%. Add the clams and the juice from the two cans, the butter, the grated cheese and the red pepper flakes and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes. Add fresh parsley.

Meanwhile, boil the fresh pasta for about 1 minute in salted water. Drain and place in skillet with the sauce. Cook for about 1 more minute together and serve with additional grated cheese and garlic bread.

I am sorry I haven't been more verbose lately, I have been so busy and tired, and when I am not busy and tired and I training for a 5K. I hope your family is enjoying the start of spring, and this recipe is a great one for lent, so dig in!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Boneless Buffalo Nuggets

Boneless Buffalo Nuggets

2 packages of chicken tenders
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups flour
2 eggs beaten with one 1/2 cup water
chicken seasoning
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
1 stick salted butter
1 or 2 cups of hot sauce

Cut tenders into thirds. Marinade in buttermilk and a few spoonfuls of chicken seasoning for a few hours.

Drain in a colander.

Dredge each piece in flour mixed with some more seasoning.

Dip in egg wash.

Coat in bread crumbs.

Heat Canola Oil in a deep pot on the stove.

Fry each piece for a few minutes. Keep the oil hot enough to sizzle, but not so hot that the chicken burns before it is cooked. Usually a small nugget only takes around4 or 5 minutes to fry up. Work in small batches, don't crowd the nuggets.

Melt the butter and mix with desired amount of hot sauce. When chicken is all done drop in the sauce and mix around. Serve with blue cheese or ranch dipping sauce. I think I am going to serve them with some blue cheese mashed potatoes and some kind of veggie.

Also, I am leaving some without sauce for the kids. ;)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

St Patricks Day Dinner- Corned beef and Cabbage

2- 2 1/2 pound corned beefs with spice packets included
10 red potatoes, rinsed
10 carrots, pealed and halved
2 heads of cabbage, quartered
1 yellow onion, halved
2 T Yellow Mustard
2 T ketchup
4 T cider vinegar
1/3 c brown sugar

Trim corned beefs of most of the visible fat. Place in a pot and cover with cold water. Add spice packets. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 2 1/2 hours.

For the final hour add the potatoes and carrots.

Take the meat out, add the cabbage and simmer for 40 minutes while the meat rests.

Mix the sauce ingredients together.

After resting for 20 minutes, place the corned beef pieces in a pan and cover with sauce. Bake in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Slice the corned beef and arrange on a platter with the sauce poured over the top.

Place veggies in a bowl with a few cups of the cooking liquid.

Serve with yellow mustard, rye bread and Irish soda bread.

Today I am thinking of my Father in Law, who passed away last April. I miss him so much. I miss him cooking this meal, but in his honor and for my husband, I will do it each and every year.

Where ever you may be Bill, we love you, and we honor your memory today.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Green Cookies!

Tax season is taking it's toll on us these days. Sophia is home sick. I am tired. Nate is crabby. Paul is busy, and stressed. I haven't been posting much, but I am gearing up for three holidays. I am making Corned beef and cabbage on Sunday, the second night of Passover, and Easter. It's a lot to plan and a lot to cook. I am starting to get in the green spirit. Today at the supermarket I bought green grapes and green juice for my daughters class on Wednesday. I hope she is ready to go back to school for it. These cookies are really just for us. I am in the mood for a sugar cookie. I will make a few for me, without rolling them in sugar.

Luck O the Irish Cookies

1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 cup butter
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
a few spoons of green sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets or line with silpat or parchment.
Cream together sugar and butter.
Beat in egg yolks and vanilla.
Add flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Stir.

Form dough into walnut size balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Roll in green sanding sugar. Flatten slightly with the back of a glass. Bake 9-10 minutes and cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Crumb Cake

My Mother in Law's birthday is today. My Aunt is coming over and she doesn't like too much chocolate. Can you imagine?? In any case, I decided to go with a crumb cake. I adapted this from

Chocolate Chip Crumb Cake

For the crumb topping:
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground fresh nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus two tablespoons butter, melted
1 3/4 cups AP flour

For the cake:
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup AP flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. (I use the baking pam)

2. To make crumbs in a large bowl, whisk sugars, spices and salt into melted butter until smooth. Then, add flour with a spatula or wooden spoon. Push it down into the bottom of the bowl. It will look and feel like a solid dough.

3. To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Add chips and mix for 20 seconds.

4. Spread batter into prepared pan.

5. Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs.

6. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. While warm you can sprinkle with more chocolate chips. Cool completely before serving.

I also made some chicken parmesan and a baked ziti. I don't think I feel like baking bread now, so I guess it will be canned bread and steamed broccoli to go with it.

Happy Birthday Nanny!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Vanilla Oatmeal Cookies

Before we get to the cookies, have you noticed how much I love ziplock bags? I am addicted. They make new greener ones which I am trying to use, but really... the no clean aspect is addictive.

Speaking of addictive, Vanilla Oatmeal Cookies.... can I just say, YUM!

Adapted from

Vanilla Oatmeal Cookies
Yield: 32 cookies

1½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 vanilla bean, scraped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat

Whisk the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt together in a medium bowl.

In your electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Add the sugars; beat until fluffy. Add the scraping of the vanilla bean and beat in the eggs, 1 at a time.

Add the flour mixture and stir in on low speed until just incorporated. Stir in the oats with a wooden spoon.

Scoop out a large tablespoon full of dough at a time and roll into balls. Place on cookie sheet at least 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake until the cookie edges turn golden brown, 18-20 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.

How I am making Chicken Stock today.

There are so many ways, in fact, I never do it the same way twice.

Today my Doctor put me on liquids for a week. A week. This weight loss surgery thing....not easy. But liquids for a week should be effective in my weight loss, though that isn't it's purpose. Long story short... liquids... for a week.

I always keep the carcass from every chicken I make in the freezer. In a ziplock. So I took one out, threw it in a pot, with some peeled carrots (Because I like to eat them after the soup is done. I guess I wont be eating these but maybe I can mix some into something I am making the kids), the leftovers from a bunch of celery (the stem piece and the flowery leafy parts), an onion (halved), 8 cloves of garlic (unpeeled), a handful of fresh thyme I had in the house, two tablespoons of dried dill, a tablespoon of kosher Salt, a teaspoon of black pepper, and 6 bullion cubes.

Boil and simmer for a few hours.

I strain it in a colander draped with cheese cloth.

This can be used for chicken noodle soup, frozen in two cup portions in ziplocks for use in future recipes, or drank straight up, as I intend to do.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Maple Butternut Squash Soup

Still with the soup. I know I know. And it really is nice outside today. But I had a squash in my fridge, all cut up and ready to cook.

1 T butter
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 green apple, peeled cored and cubed
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable)
1/2 cup maple syrup
pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in soup pot and saute onion, carrot and celery for around 5 minutes. Add squash, apple and broth and bring to a boil. Simmer for at least 10 minutes, until the squash is fork tender. Add spices. Blend with immersion blender until smooth. Then add the maple syrup and taste. I usually end up adding some mixed up salt or other seasoning at this point.

It goes well with my chicken tenders which I am frying with abandon. I mean, the soup is healthy, right?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Creamy Baked Potato Soup

Winter is almost over, but just as it is digging in it's heals here in New York, so are my taste buds. Soon I will be ready for grilled chicken and veggies and marinated steaks on the grill, but for today, there is snow outside and I want soup.

This yummy creamy baked potato soup has taken me a few tries to get right. It is garlicy, creamy, cheesy and yummy. (Sorry Kelly, for all the food words, but it is just THAT good.) There are many variations, and you can do it to your taste, but this is my favorite. It is also very forgiving, so if you don't have something on this list, just substitute it with something similar. It's hard to mess this up.

6 medium sized yukon gold potatoes
1 onion, chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups chicken stock or broth
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
3 cups grated cheddar cheese
6 slices well done bacon, crumbled

Wash the potatoes and prick them each a few times with a fork. Bake the potatoes at 450 for 15 minutes and set aside to cool slightly so that you can handle them. Once they are warm, cut them in half, peel away the skin (Use a knife for any stubborn pieces) and cube.

Meanwhile, cook 6 slices of bacon. Make them well done so they crumble easily. Set aside to cool. When cool, pop them in a ziplock and crumble.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Once it is melted add in two spoonfuls of the bacon grease. Saute the onion until soft, add the garlic and saute for another few minutes. add the cubed potatoes and the chicken stock and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender. At this point I add the salt and pepper, taste and see if you need to add any other spices. I like a few dashes of hot sauce and some garlic powder in mine.

In a pyrex measuring cup, mix the milk, buttermilk and flour.

Pour the milk mixture into the soup and simmer until thickened (be sure you reach a full boil for a few minutes so the flour will reach it's thickening potential and be fully cooked)

Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. Some people like it chunky, you can remove some potatoes with a slotted spoon before this step, cube them smaller and put them back in after. I like it silky smooth.

Add the cheese, simmer and stir till melted. Add the bacon. Stir.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Big Family Meat Ball

My kids like meatloaf, but most of the time the way it looks turns them off, or maybe it is just the name of it. I don't know. I make it in a similar way to the way I make meatballs, they should love it. But it often goes over like a ton of bricks. No pun intended.

So may I present to you, the family sized meatball! It is really just a round meatloaf, but shhhhh, I wont tell if you don't. Serve it with pasta if that helps.

2 pounds of chop meat (turkey, sirloin or the meatloaf mix you see in the store)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 small onion, sauteed to soften it up a bit.
1 sleeve of crushed saltines, or ritz or whatever crackers or breadcrumbs you have on hand, about 2 1/2 cups.
3/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar

Mush it all together in a medium sized bowl. When mixed, push into the bowl and flatten the top, then invert the bowl onto a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 f oven for one hour or until cooked through.

I like a glaze of 1 cup Ketchup, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 T mustard and 2 T vinegar, spread over the top for the last 10 minutes of cooking, but my kids don't like it that way, so I usually leave it off.

Serve with mashed potatoes, and a vegetable. Or with Pasta to sell it.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Dinner- Fajitas and Love

Growing up, we never ate dinner as a family. Well, rarely, and always at a restaurant. We didn't all fit in our tiny kitchen and mom wasn't much of a cook. She is and was a wonderful mother, but this was not a strong suit. I always dreamed of having big Sunday dinners where friends and family came to the table and shared a bounty of foods and a bounty of love. I don't quite do it like that, but we make attempts. So tonight, Fajitas, rice, beans, and some taco meat thrown in for the kids who wont do the fajita filling. Left over Orange Scented Chocolate Chip Cake for dessert. Perfect.

I marinated some skirt steak last night in garlic, soy sauce, honey, black pepper, and red wine vinegar. I will grill it in my grill pan and slice thin. Serve with sauteed onions and pepper sprinkled with chipotle chili powder, refried beans, and white rice.

We will sit around the table, beg our little one to eat, plead with the big girl to sit on her butt and eat over the table, try to get my Mother in Law to talk about her day, and try to help daddy wind down from a day at the auto service station fixing my flat tire and working all afternoon (it is still tax season alas), and I will try to take at least one moment to appreciate the gift of the Sunday Dinner.

Oooh I changed my mind, I am going to skip the refried beans and make something I love.... A can of beans, a can of corn both drained, and a half and onion chopped, all sauteed in salted butter. Yummy Yum Yum.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rain rain go away.... Orange Scented Chocolate Chip Cake

Sorry for just a recipe today. I am all out of words. All out of patience. I am having a bad day. Just to give you and idea of how I am feeling, I am making jarred sauce, frozen meatballs and pasta for dinner. But cake always cheers me up. Of course I am baking this for a family gathering on Saturday, but just baking it is cheering me up. A little.

1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon orange flower water (this can be omitted, I just have some so I add it)
6 eggs, room temperature, separated
3 cups sifted self-rising flour (measure after sifting)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temp
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Using an electric mixer, cream shortening with 1 1/2 cups sugar. Blend in vanilla and orange juice. Add egg yolks, one at a time, blending just until smooth after each addition.

Stir baking soda into the buttermilk.

To the first mixture, add sifted flour alternately with buttermilk , blending well after each addition.

In a glass or stainless steel bowl, beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks (this will take a few minutes). Fold chocolate chips and egg white mixture gently into batter until well incorporated.

Spoon batter into a generously greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 75 minutes, or until cake tests done. Cover lightly with foil if it starts to brown before it is done. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.

Cool on rack; carefully remove pan and transfer to cake plate.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am craving the simple pleasure of these wonderful cookies. I now need to make a dinner plan that ends with these.

2 cups all-purpose flour (I have been getting good results with white whole wheat, but I wouldn't call them "perfect")
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In your mixer bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.

Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy.

Mix in the dry ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.

Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart. Big cookies really are better, if you like the middle chewy. But smaller cookies do work fine. I often do them smaller so they fit in the bento boxes.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are just lightly toasted. They should not be done yet. Cool on baking sheets for a 3-5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to finish baking and cool completely on the racks.

What makes this recipe work? A few things.... the extra egg yolk, the ratio of more brown to white sugar, the large size, the different size and weight of the chips which helps them to settle evenly, and the baking that continues outside the oven on the hot cookie sheets.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ditch the box Mac and Cheese

I am home from vacation, I missed you all and this blog more than I expected! This is really becoming a part of my life now. I have an empty fridge. In fact, I may take time out from unpacking to give it a cleaning while I can. Tomorrow the kids are going with Grandma and Grandpa for a while, so food shopping can wait. Seems like a perfect chance to get to making and posting this recipe I have been thinking about. I have some friends who don't like to cook, I can't relate. But they do want to make their kids healthy meals. Over dinner we got to talking about Mac and Cheese and my friend Elaine (Hi Elaine!) asked me if I had a good recipe that came close to the box. This is it! You can make it healthier by using whole grain pasta (I like the yellow barilla box), skim milk and lowfat cheese. Or go full fat and white flour and just feel good about feeding you children something "homemade" and less-processed. I like to make this with some steamed broccoli (the steamers for the microwave are easy and yummy) and a can of reduced fat crescent rolls. Or maybe I will make those pop overs. Ok, let's not complicate this, it is fine by itself. Try it and please, tell me how it works out for you!

2 T salted Butter
1 lb cooked elbow macaroni
2 cups shredded yellow cheddar cheese (I prefer to shred it myself, but the bag of pre- shredded works fine.)
2 C milk
1 1/2 T corn starch

1/2 large sweet onion- grated
3 cloves of garlic- grated
As an alternative to the onion/ garlic- you can use some garlic powder and some onion powder.

8 strips of bacon- cooked and chopped and some shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup of bread crumbs mixed with a few T of melted butter

Basic recipe-
In a skillet, melt butter. (this is where you would add the onion and garlic and saute a few minutes) Mix milk and corn starch in a bowl and add to the skillet slowly. Add any spices you want. Salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder. Stir and cook until it comes to a boil (about 2-3 minutes). Remove from heat and add cheese, stir to melt cheese and combine. Add cooked elbows to the skillet, mix and serve.

Super easy.

If you add the bacon and parm or the bread crumbs, do it when you are done. You can prep this ahead of time and reheat in the oven, or serve right from the skillet.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Scones....oooops, was I supposed to get them gifts?

As I walked Nathan into school today I noticed all the moms had gifts for the teachers.

I no longer feel pressured to buy gifts for the whole class. We make homemade valentines. It makes me crazy when mom's spend a lot of money on crap just to show off... what? how much money and time they have? I would prefer my children to do the work, to show their friends they love them. Isn't that the point? I buy doilies and glitter and paper and markers and pom poms and glue and they go to town. It's fun, and messy.

But I do love Nathan's teachers. And they appreciate my baking. So I ran home to bake up some scones.

4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cold
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a big bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Grate butter large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work butter into dry ingredients till it looks like lumpy sand.

Whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.

Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to finish mixing until it comes together. At this point you can add any mix ins you like. I split it in half and did half craisens and white chocolate and half mini chocolate chips. I love cinnamon chips, but I don't have any. Butterscotch chips and raisins is yummy. Any kind of citrus zest. You could even make these savory with herbs and cheese. Yum!

Place on a lightly floured surface and cut as desired. I used a heart shaped cookie cutter, but you can just make triangles or squares.

Bake until golden, about 12 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

Now I have to pack them in some pretty bags and bring them to the teachers.

I am taking the week off from blogging, but I will be back... with a tan. ;)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Another snow day- kid lunch

So, we are stuck inside again. Actually that isn't true, we went out and built a snowman and this afternoon both kids have karate. They came in from playing in the snow, put on karate clothes and turned on Happy Feet. We usually don't eat in front of the TV, but today is a day for breaking the rules.

Here is their lunch, it's like a bento box for the home....

It is red grapes, green apple, carrot sticks, snap peas, celery, cucumber, low fat chedder cheese, whole grain wheat thins, light ranch dressing, peanuts, roasted almonds, and 4 mini homemade brownies.

I switched Wednesday and Thursday on my weekly meal plan, so today is dinner out and/or leftovers.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sugar Cookies for Valentine's Day

This was adapted from Alton Brown's Recipe. The most important distinction is the added vanilla.

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg plus one yolk, beaten
1 1/2 tablespoon milk
1 t vanilla extract
Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine.

Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color.

Add egg, yolk, vanilla and milk and beat to combine.

Slowly add flour mixture, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar.

Remove 1/2 of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick.

Cut into desired shape. I am thinking hearts? ;) At this point I am going to press in some heart shaped candies I bought. I don't know if they will melt. I really do not want to ice them, but I may have to.

Place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silpat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges.

Cool on sheet for two minutes, then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies, but of course that depends on how large you make them.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What do people do with all those shovels? Or Buffalo Chicken Fettuccine

Ok, seriously, why do people need to rush to Home Depot to buy new shovels each and every time it snows? We don't live in Florida people. Buy a shovel, use it, and keep it! They aren't disposable. I understand the need for more rock salt, or gas for your snow blower... but shovels? And what's with the milk, eggs and bread? Is everyone making french toast after they dispose of their used shovels?

But I digress.

We are supposed to get up to 24 inches of snow. Well, maybe only six, but maybe 24. I wish I were weather man, now there is a low pressure job. No one expects you to know a darn thing!
All I figure I need for such a snow day is some craft projects (I am hiding mood sand in the garage, and we have valentines and hundred day projects to finish), a good bottle of wine, and a few good recipes to keep the house smelling good.

Tonight, BS (Before Snow) we are having that Buffalo Fettuccine I was telling you about, but I changed it up a bit so I thought I would share my version with you. The original recipe is linked up in my previous post.

Buffalo Chicken Fettuccine

1 lb. fettuccine, fully cooked and drained (Save some cooking liquid to thin sauce)
1/2 of that roast chicken I made last week. I think 4 breasts would do or a half a rotisserie chicken)
salt & pepper, to taste
1 c. chicken stock
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 c. hot sauce (more or less, depending on desired intensity. 1/4 c. will be mild to medium in flavor.)
1 c. Blue cheese

1. Shred the chicken with your fingers
2. In a saucepan, combine the cream cheese, hot sauce and chicken stock. Cook over medium-low heat until the cream cheese is completely melted.
3. Add the blue cheese and chicken to the saucepan, stir to combine, and then toss with the cooked fettuccine. Add cooking liquid from the pasta is the sauce is too thick. Or you can add more chicken stock. Salt and pepper to taste.

Tomorrow- Sugar cookie hearts for Valentine's Day

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cookie Bars to the rescue!

First of all, the buffalo chicken dip was a huge hit! I served with with french bread toasts. I just baked up a can of french bread and sliced it thin, sprayed with Pam, some garlic and herb seasoning and toasted at 350f for 8 minutes, flipped, sprayed, spiced and toasted again for 8 minutes. Yum!

I forgot to bake this weekend! Nathan is taking Chips ahoy to school, though I am sure they are stale. I am rushing to bake something (in fact, I could always replace the chips ahoy in his lunch box before I run him to school I guess)

This is adapted from

Her way looks yummy, but I am out of muffin cups and I am not keeping white flour in the house anymore.

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg (Beaten)
1t vanilla extract
3/4 cup of assorted chips (I had chocolate, white and butterscotch)

Melt butter in a sauce pan. Mix your egg and vanilla in a bowl. Mix your flour, BP and salt in a bowl. Add brown sugar to sauce pan, mix and cool slightly. Add egg and vanilla. Add Flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Pour into a parchment lined 8 by 8 pan. Bake at 375f for 30 minutes. Cool and Cut.

Now, on to the prep for the meatballs. How is your day shaping up?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Let them eat chicken! (Menu planning)

Usually during Tax Season I order in too much and just feed the kids easy stuff. But this year, since I am not eating as much myself, I am even less motivated. Resulting in lots of nights of being unprepared and the kids eating random things that aren't even good for them. So, this week I am making a plan.

Right now, at 8am on a Sunday, I am roasting a chicken.

This is my favorite roast chicken. It always comes out good. We are going to a super bowl party tonight so I will make this....

Buffalo Chicken Dip


1/2 of the chicken, meat shredded with a fork
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup ranch salad dressing
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup Hot sauce

Mix together all ingredients until well combined. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serve with crackers, chips, or sliced bread. I think I will make a loaf of french bread (From the can this time) and slice it thin to serve with it. I can also bring some crackers.

It was hard to find one without blue cheese, and I don't have any blue cheese. I suppose I could go to the store.... nah.

On to the menu planning:

Monday night I am going to make the kids, the Mother in law, and I, meatballs. I will make the meatballs on Monday when I get home from the store. These are my "Not a whole day meatballs" Though, I think we will eat them with Rice, not pasta. and some steamed broccoli.

Tuesday night I am going to use the chicken to try this recipe....

I will use fettuccine though, since I have some on hand that is calling to me. Now, I doubt the kids will eat this, and interestingly, they don't usually like fettuccine. But I will leave them each a drum stick. and they can eat the leftover rice and broccoli. I wont even cook until we get home at 6:30 from Karate, so Paul and I will probably eat this one after the kids go to bed.

Wednesday night, Paul works late and my mom is here. We will probably go out to eat.

Thursday, London broil, roasted potatoes, asparagus. And probably some turkey hot dogs for Nathan who really cant seem to chew steak of any kind.


Ok, honestly, I can't think that far ahead. But maybe some fish? I have been in the mood for Salmon, so maybe a maple glazed salmon. I will add Maple Syrup to my shopping list.

Saturday.... now I am pushing my luck. Maybe we can have spaghetti and meatballs with some home baked bread. I can use the meatballs from Monday. That sounds yummy. Now I am hungry.

Do you plan your weekly menus? I need to do more of this.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Polish Mac and Cheese

No, really.

Paul has been away for a few days, then Sophia requested pizza for her birthday from a local shop, and so I havent cooked much. I didnt think to defrost anything but I had some keilbasa in the fridge that I bought with a coupon. I have never even had it. I searched for a recipe, but couldn't find one I loved. So I made this one up. I think you can add anything to it, peas and beans come to mind, but I want my kids to try it so I am going sort of simple this time. I just tasted it, it's good!

2 T Butter
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ring of kielbasa
1 lb cooked bow tie pasta
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 C skim milk
1 1/2 T corn starch

In a skillet, melt butter and saute onion, red pepper, and celery until softened (You could add mushrooms tool if you like that sort of thing, I haven't eaten them since I did a report on Fungus in the eighth grade). Add garlic and kielbasa and saute a few minutes until heated through. Mix milk and corn starch in a bowl and add to the skillet slowly. Stir and cook until it comes to a boil (about 2-3 minutes). Remove from heat and add cheese, stir to melt cheese and combine. Add cooked bowties to the skillet, mix and serve.

Cooking this led me to my next recipe.... easy mac and cheese! I did it! I am excited to share it with you, I just want to tweak it a bit. But it is coming soon.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ice Cream Pie

Sophia's Special Birthday Pie

1 sleeve of Graham Crackers (1 1/2 cups crushed)
6 T butter
1/4 c sugar
1 gallon Chocolate Ice Cream, softened
Heath bar bits
crushed up homemade chocolate chip cookies
1 cup chocolate chips, melted

Mixed Crushed Graham Crackers, sugar and melted butter in a bowl. Press into pie plate and bake at 350 F for 8 minutes.

Fill pie crust half way with softened chocolate ice cream. Top with crushed chocolate chip cookies. Top that layer with another layer of ice cream. On the very top, sprinkle heath bar bits and a drizzle of melted chocolate chips.

On the very top, write, "Happy Birthday Sophia" in sparkly blue icing.

Refreeze for a few hours and serve!


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Birthday Traditions

I am adamant about baking my children their birthday cakes. I love my mother, she is and was a wonderful mother, but bake a cake? Never. We share a birthday, my mom and I. My father and sister share one too, three days before. So birthdays were more like a national holiday in my house, than a personal celebration. So, I overcompensate.

Nathan's pre school doesn't allow home baked goods. Allergies and all. That is a whole debate, in fact I debate it with myself often, and see both sides very clearly.

Sophia's school still allows me to bake cupcakes. I am sure that it is only a matter of time before I am buying boxed munchkins or worse, bringing in carrot sticks. But for now.... I bake! I am happily spending my evening baking and frosting 36 cupcakes and adding a gum drop on top of each and every one.

Tomorrow, I will bake a chocolate cake and write Happy 7th Birthday Sophia in sloppy blue icing on top. She has requested Pizza from the pizza place for dinner, so I don't have to cook.

Her gifts will be outside her door in the morning. A stack of new chapter books and a "Chippettes" t-shirt (blue, of course). Our family will come for dinner and yummy homemade birthday cake. My mother will say, "Just give me a sliver." and then she will eat more, piece by piece, as she does the dishes. Sophia will eat until her belly hurts and she has frosting in her hair. And if there is one thing I know for sure, when she goes to bed, she will know how much I love and cherish her and how proud I am to be her mom and to be the one baking her cake and cupcakes.

Do you have birthday traditions? Do they involve cooking? Cake recipe tomorrow...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Breakfast for Dinner and Stacking the Decks.

Do you ever do that? Have breakfast for dinner? I love breakfast, it is my favorite meal. One of the worst effects of my lap band is my inability to eat before noon. My band is so tight in the mornings and I really don't eat that much, so lunch and dinner it is. But I miss breakfast.

I also love making a big breakfast for my husband on Sunday mornings, but it's tax season (have I mentioned that yet? ;) So this morning at 5:45 am when I woke up to pee, he was already on his way to work. So much for that. I had already bought some breakfast sausage and bacon on Wednesday with the intention of cooking it, so I didn't freeze it.


Buttermilk Whole Wheat Pancakes

I am thinking of a blueberry sauce for the pancakes... I need to go search out a recipe.

Paul asked if we can still have wine. I say, why not?

The party went so well last night. Sophia was doing her "excited dance" all day. She had so many friends here and they all had fun. One of my dearest friends Jenn stayed and helped me, as did Paul, my parents, and my sister and brother in law. My mother and Jenn are both teachers and they had the party running like a well oiled machine. Every parent who came to pick up said how brave I was, and I said, "Nothing a vacuum and a glass of wine can't fix." Truth be told, it took some Excedrin and a quiet day of rest too, but it is over now and boy did we make our little girl happy. It was an entry in my Good Parent column. To be promptly cancelled out by the next three nights while Paul is out of town and we eat fast food, mac and cheese from the blue box, and I loose my patience a gazillion times. Maybe I should throw her a party every month. Stack the decks in my favor?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A promise to my children

We all have bad parenting days, bad parenting moments, moments we wish we could take back. Lord knows, I have many.

But just for today, I will make the right choices. Today I am having a birthday party for Sophia, my social butterfly. She has invited 27 of her BFFs. (This is the daughter of a woman who just cut 100 facebook friends and still has 450, clearly.) So, 27 6 year old girls in my tiny living room, eating pizza and ice cream and doing crafts and watching chipmunk videos, in their pajamas and slippers. Giggles and messes and memories. It is exactly what my little angel wants, and I am going to provide it. I will do it at 5:30pm today. I will do it without spending the whole day yelling and loosing my patience. I will buy balloons, and hang streamers and fill the pinata, and set up more chairs than can really fit around the two tables I have. I will make it happen. I will remember that my children don't ask me to be perfect, they just need me to be present and loving and strong.

Just for today, I am going to succeed. Today, I am going to make a memory that she will talk about with her own children in 40 years with pride.

And tomorrow I will clean it all up, and vow to never ever do it again, until next time.

But first, I am going to take a shower.

Have a great day!

Friday, January 29, 2010

London Broil

What are you cooking for Friday night? Here's what we are having.

London Broil

Really, London Broil is a name for a kind of cooking, but it has come to be known as a cut of meat. Usually a one inch thick steak of top round. This is how I make it:

1 london broil
3 sweet onions
2 T Butter
2 T Olive Oil
2/3 C Soy Sauce
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup Worcester sauce
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 1/2 t cumin
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t black pepper
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup red wine
1 t flour

Trim all connective tissue off meat and using a sharp knife make slits in the meat every few inches on both sides. This helps the marinade to penetrate the meat. In a small bowl mix lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic, Worcester sauce, cumin, hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Add meat to a ziplock bag and pour in marinade. Place in fridge for a few hours or over night. You can even do this and freeze the meat, this way when you defrost it it is busy marinading. I often do this when I first get it home from the store, then I don't have to think about it when I am ready to use it.

There are many ways to cook a london broil. You can Broil it. Grill it. Or as I do, cook it in a cast iron skillet.

Cut up 2 or 3 sweet onions and caramelize them. Cut onions into slices. In cast iron skillet melt 2 T butter and 2 T Olive oil. Over a medium heat, saute onions till translucent. Then lower heat to Medium Low and cook for 40/ 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can do this earlier in the day and set aside in the fridge.

Heat skillet, pat the meat till it isn't drenched in marinade, and cook on each side for 6-8 minutes. This can vary depending on how rare you like it, and how thick your meat is. If it is more than an inch thick, you may want to sear both sides and finish it off in the oven at 350F for 10 minutes or so.

Let the meat sit for 5 minutes. The using a sharp knife cut in thin strips, against the grain and place on a platter.

When it is cooked I make a pan sauce. I deglaze the pan with a drop of red wine. Scraping with my wooden spoon to lift all the flavor from the pan. Then I add the rest of the marinade back into the pan. If I need more liquid, I add some beef broth. Add a teaspoon of flour and cook for 3 minutes, make sure you get the liquid to bubble before you lower the temp for maximum thickening. Now add the caramelized onions, stir and pour over the sliced meat.

I think I may make those pop overs again to serve with it, and some potatoes and broccoli.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I went out last night with girlfriends. It was a last minute choice to go. Paul has been working so hard, and has been so tired, that I had originally said no. But when he got home, it was just about 7pm, the kids were bathed and fed and homework was done. Paul gave his blessing, though I think he may have regretted it. So off I went to meet some friends at H2O, a wonderful Seafood restaurant in town. A glass of wine, yummy dinner, and laughing so much that, 24 hours later, my cheeks still hurt. It was almost worth it. Or maybe it was worth it.

Paul put the kids to bed. But Nathan, who is the ultimate Mama's boy, was none too pleased. He did finally sleep, but he was up at 2 and didn't sleep again till 5. From 2-4, I was mad. But around 4 am I realized that he just wanted me to hold him tight. How much longer will he want that? Now, we just got him to stop spending the second half of every night in our bed. We did this by putting a crib mattress on the floor next to me, and Just Saying No. So, I couldn't just pull him into bed, and my back hurt from lying on the floor next to him. So we went down to his room and I held him. I held him as tightly as I could, and eventually, after many tears and much tossing and turning, he slept. I smelled his sweaty head and felt his heart beat, and tried with all my might to push my fears of being exhausted out of my head, and do what??? Oh yes, count my blessings. Drink him in, the way he drinks me in.

So we were both tired today. But we muddled through. I picked them up from school, we went to Karate and then to Friendly's for dinner. The kids were surprisingly good. They enjoyed their ice cream and Sophia even did her Homework with Nathan's "help". She is such a great big sister.
Nathan got some new books at a book exchange for school, so I convinced them to let me read to them both together when we got home and I have them both asleep by 8pm. One of the books was about Robots and the main character was "wonderbot" We all giggled quite inappropriately at that one and I think my new nick name may be wonder- butt. But, I love when they make me laugh.

So now, I am drinking a glass of Yellow Tail Chardonnay, eating a Reece's Peanut Butter cup Sundae and going upstairs to watch my DVR'ed American Idol auditions. Some days are better than others, and I am not too tired to notice.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mommy, you're the best cooker ever!

Shh, don't tell him. He thinks I am just the greatest and that a lunch like this is magic. You should see his face when we stir the tiny bit of cinnamon sugar into his all natural apple sauce. I need to work on getting green and using less packaging, don't I?

Contents of this oh so special lunch-

2 turkey hot dogs from trader joes
1 all natural apple sauce with about 1/2 t cinnamon sugar mixed in.
1/2 C almonds with sea salt
1 danimals drinkable yogurt
1 bowl of ketchup

Since I didn't go food shopping in the monsoon yesterday, we are a bit short on fresh food. For dinner I am going to use what was left of that meat sauce I made with Philly Cream Cheese, to that I added a can of petite diced tomatoes and a half pint of Ricotta I had left in the fridge. I just needed to stretch it a little and it was a bit too meaty for the kids, who ate well but left a pile of meat on their plates after. So I made some whole grain penne (The yellow box with the added protein), tossed it with the sauce in a 9 by 13 pan and topped with shredded mozzarella. I think I may have to make those pop overs again to go with it. I am addicted!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Holy Monsoon, Batman!

I apologize for the blurry phone picture, but we were running out the door to school in a monsoon type of rain and this is how Nathan came out of his room. Now we are home after a long day of soaking rains, and this is what we snaked on.

Homemade Granola Bars

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup of chopped nuts (I used Pecans)
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 T butter
1/4 t kosher salt
2 t vanilla extract
1/2 C mini chocolate chips
1/4 C dried fruit

Line a 9 by 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
Pre heat the oven to 300 F.
First toast the nuts, oats and wheat germ. You can do this on a cookie sheet in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or in a saute pan on top of the stove. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, salt and vanilla and cook over a low heat until the sugar and butter are melted.
Mix the sugar mixture with the toasted dry ingredients and cook slightly.

Fold in 1/4 C Mini Chocolate chips and/ or any dried fruit you like. I went all chocolate this time.

Press into pan and top with remaining chocolate chips. I used a second piece of parchment to flatten it but you could use a spoon also.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Cool completely and cut into bars.

Next time I am going to crush some pretzels and add them in too. Sweet and salty! Nathan says, "I like these so much I am going to need another one!"

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Seriously, I can make pop overs?

In Amherst, where I went to school there is a restaurant named Judies. They have the most amazing food. And the star attraction is pop-overs. Yummy, buttery pop overs. Did you know you can make them with a muffin tin, a blender, and stuff you have in the house? Really!

So tonight I am making Spaghetti with meat sauce (I added some philly cream cheese since the commercial makes it look so good, and it really is tasty) and pop overs.

I am a rock star.

On a related note, you know, things that seem difficult but are often surprisingly easy, Sophia had a play date today. A little girl, in her grade, just moved in around the corner. I am trying so hard to back off of helicopter parenting and go for a more free range approach, but it is so against the grain for me. But this is wonderful. They played for hours. And other then dropping a plate of cookies that I had just baked in the playroom, and popping some pop corn, I did nothing. We walked her home with no pretty crafts, or just baked cupcakes, just a little dirtier than she came and a lot more tired.

It was wonderful.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Starting Fresh

I had a long hard week. No good reason, just a rough week. Forgetting things, loosing things, running out of time, patience and energy... You know the kind. But my parents took the kids over night last night and we had a lovely evening with old friends. I woke up this morning, did a spin class at the gym, got my nails done and my eyebrows waxed, went shopping.

Shopping with a gift certificate I won on a wonderful Blog that I just found.

Check her out, she is funny and smart and she gave me $50!!! I got a Winter Jacket for like $5!

I am starting this new week out right. So, dinner will be broccoli Cheddar soup. I have some frozen tilapia too, which I will bread and saute I think. Now, I am not deluding myself into thinking that my children will eat this. So, I will have to make them something else, maybe Pasta with butter. ;)

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

2 T Butter
2 T Olive Oil
3 head of broccoli, chopped (Stems and Leaves included)
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic
3 T flour
4 Cups Chicken Stock
1/2 cup Evaporated Milk
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 can Cheddar cheese soup concentrate
Salt and Pepper

Melt Butter with Olive Oil in heavy bottomed pot.

Saute Broccoli, Onion and Carrot and Onion, salt and pepper, until onions are translucent. About 10 minutes.

Add Sliced Garlic and Saute additional minute or two.

Add Flour and Saute another 3 minutes or so.

Add stock (I used Homemade, but from a box is fine) and bring to a boil.

Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until veggies are soft, add Evaporated milk (Cream would be fine here too if you have some on hand), and puree with an immersion blender.

Add cheese and cheese soup, heat till cheese is melted. Blend some more if you like it really creamy.

Salt and pepper to taste and serve with croutons or bread sticks (I am making garlic bread sticks out of a can of pizza dough).

It is so so good!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Comfort Food

Tonight I am trying this, doesn't it look yummy! I wonder if the kids will eat it. I know they will like if they try it. I am thinking of making rice and broccoli with it.

Sounds good, doesn't it? I have breasts in the house, but I bet thighs are even better.

I need some new cookie recipes. Do any of you have any good ones?

I am short winded today, sorry. Feeling a little dried up. Hopefully the chicken wont be dry like I am. ;)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Craziness all around me.

Why do the strangest things always happen to me?

I always go to the same gas station. Full serve and self serve prices. The nice man who owns the station was gone for a few weeks so I asked if all was well, and was told he'd had a baby. Since he has been back I always ask about the baby. Today he asked if I wanted to see pictures. Sure, I said, who doesn't want to see pictures of babies? ... click click click on his IPhone... baby in the high chair, baby with a bottle (sigh), baby in a stroller, and then... wait for it....then comes one of his wife and baby, naked... Both Of Them! Standing in the bathroom, wet from a shower, naked as jaybirds.

It was one of those days where I felt like I was floating above myself watching a movie of me.

I am all out of white wine, so I may resort to a glass of the red my mom hasn't finished.

It's 6:15 and the kids are done with their baths. One good thing about Tax Season nights when Paul works late is that the kids are ready for bed much earlier. It is because we don't wait for him for dinner and also, there is no "daddy's home!" play time.

And really, if they don't go to bed early tonight, I may need more than red wine to sooth my nerves.

So, here is my agenda for the night, get the homework done and earrings back in Sophia (Today was Karate so they are out), keep Nathan calm, dole out bribes, I mean prizes for good behavior (smencils? heard of them?), watch a short video, read books to each one in turn, put them to bed, drink that wine and eat the Mozzarella sticks I got at the Pizza place where I fed the kids, grab a weight watchers ice cream and go watch some American Idol off my DVR. Try to get the image of the naked gas station owner's wife out of my head. ;)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tax Season Monday

The Shrimp scampi I made last night was this one:

It was good. I would double the sauce next time for a whole box of Pasta. I tried to eyeball it but I didn't add quite double and it was a little dry. I would also use smaller shrimp. I had jumbo and it was too much.

Next time I think I will try this one:

It's "Tax Season Monday" around here. Bye Bye Daddy, see you in 13 weeks! Luckily Grandma is coming over today and staying for dinner. Every year it gets harder for Paul to leave the kids for so long, and harder for the kids to miss him so much. But quite frankly, each year gets a little easier for me. The kids are older, they understand that there is only one of me and I can't do everything Daddy does around here. They know how to take care of themselves a little better each year. I miss Paul, but the sacrifice is do-able.

Today is a school holiday, so we are all off to the gym and food shopping together I guess. Hopefully they will behave in the store. I much prefer food shopping alone.

Oh and I wanted to mention something, last night on the news they had a story from Haiti where they showed a back hoe lifting dead bodies into a dump truck. Then a story about that actress from the Eminem movie who died. Brittany Murphy, I think. They were interviewing her husband and her mother (who look like they should be married to each other, incidentally.) The two stories together, it just made me crazy. The way we place value on a single human life is so odd. Shedding tears over a single celeb death and the same tears over the devastation in that faraway place.

How can I blog about my lovely Sunday night, when the blinds close in my warm loving home, while people, mothers just like me, tuck their children (the one's they could find) in on a cardboard box surrounded by rocks to keep the UN tankers from running them over in the streets. Just praying that they will get some clean water in the morning, or worse that their baby wont die before he gets the chance to have his leg amputated with a rusty hack saw.

I guess it is important to be thankful, to be aware of the enormous gifts I have been given. And to do what you can to help. I sent some money. Seems woefully inadequate, but how could I not?

I could so easily be paralyzed by these things. I owe some debt here that will need to be paid back at some point.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Home Sweet Home

My favorite candle is burning. Home Sweet Home. And, for tonight at least, how sweet it is.

My favorite time of a night like this is when Paul closes the living room blinds. It's like the world melts away and all that is left is us, and this wonderful home, and our whiny yet wonderful children, and crazy but cool family.

Football is on, Nanny is here, the kids are playing, the playroom is a mess but the living room is clean, and Ina Garten's Shrimp Scampi is bubbling in my new cast iron skillet.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Here are the cookies we made for this week's school lunches. The kids actually did a lot of the baking, and I tried to teach Sophia fractions while she measured. The only casualty was the first egg, which Sophia cracked well. She just missed the bowl.

Cinnamon Chip Cookies

1. 1 cup butter, softened
2. 1 cup white sugar
3. 1 egg
4. 1 tablespoon molasses
5. 2 t vanilla extract
6. 1 cup all-purpose flour
7. 1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
8. 1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
9. 1/8 t salt
10. 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
11. 2 cups white chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Cream together butter and sugar.
3. Mix in egg, vanilla, and molasses, blending well.
4. Mix flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; add to creamed mixture, mixing well.
5. Fold in chips.
6. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet.
6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Quick Homemade Snackitizer to bring to a party

Ok, I am so going to help you out here. This is a great tip to keep in your back pocket, or rather the back of your fridge.

Next time you are at the store, buy the following:

1 can of pizza crust (you know, by the crescent rolls)

That's all you need, seriously.

Next time you are invited to a party, or a friends house, or a playdate, and realize at the last minute that you don't have anything to bring... Don't be the one who brings the open bag of cheese doodles. Just don't. Pop open that can, and whip this out. Seriously, people will think you slaved away.

Homemade Pretzels with a Honey Mustard dipping sauce
(Adapted from a Pampered Chef Recipe)

1 can of pizza crust
Salt (I like sea salt of some other course salt, but any salt will do)
3/4 cup Mayonnaise (light is fine)
3 T Honey
3 T Dijon Mustard


1)Preheat oven to 425F

2) Open the pizza dough onto a cutting board. Roll or press a little thinner. The thinner you make it, the crispier they will be. I use my mini rolling pin for this, but the side of your Pam can will do in a pinch.

3) Using a Pizza Cutter or a sharp knife, slice it into 18 or so 3/4 inch strips.

4) Onto a pizza stone, or a Parchment Paper lined cookie sheet twist the strips into pretzel like shapes (Or little O's is cute and easy). Now you could even just spray a cookie sheet with Pam if you don't have the other things, let's not get scared away here, ok?

5) Spray the shapes with Pam, sprinkle with salt and bake for about 15 minutes. When they are golden brown, they are done. Now if your oven is like mine, you may see one side getting done faster than the other, so rotate the cookie sheet halfway through.

For the (optional) dipping sauce:

1) Mix the mustard, mayo and honey.

Oh, that's it, only one step.


People will rave and say "Who made the pretzels?" You can be like me and say, "It was easy." Or you can just smile and say, "I did." and let people think you are a domestic goddess.

I brought this to my bookclub last night, a wonderful bunch of women. I have a theory about Cats, that they need to be "purred" at least once a day. You know, you scratch their belly until they Purr. The bookclub is the women's equivalent. More than once each time, someone will say, "My cheeks hurt." You know that feeling? Laughing till your cheeks hurt? Amazing. These women have known each other for a long time (most of them) and they have welcomed me into their fold. I told them about my blog and I am sending them the link, so if you are reading this, "Hi" and thanks for the laughter. See you in March!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Elise's Not So Dirty Rice

OK, I am functioning. Tonight is chicken cutlets (which is a dumb thing to make after the kitchen has just been cleaned, but I digress), broccoli, and sweet potatoes. But I also have a pound of yummy looking chicken sausage with garlic and sun dried tomatoes
that I need to use, so I am also making this.

Elise's Not So Dirty Rice

4 T Olive Oil
2 Cups long grain rice
5 cups chicken stock
One chopped red pepper
One chopped sweet onion
4 cloves chopped garlic
Garlic powder/ Cayenne Pepper to taste
1 T Fresh herbs
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat 2 T Olive Oil in medium sauce pan. Add 2 cups long grain rice (I used Jasmine because I love the herby taste) and saute for a few minutes. Add 4 cups of chicken stock, stir and bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat and simmer twenty minutes over a low heat or until stock is absorbed and rice is tender.

Remove Rice to the side.
Heat 2 T olive oil in pan and brown sliced sausage.
When browned add chopped Red Pepper and onion and saute until vegetable are tender.
I actually added maybe 2 T of additional Olive Oil here since the sausage was so low in fat and I didn't want the veggies to burn. About 5 minutes. Add chopped garlic and saute a minute or two more. Season with salt and pepper. Add one cup of chicken stock and then add Garlic powder or Cayenne pepper to taste. Cook until the stock has reduced a little. Add the rice back to the pot and any fresh herbs you have on hand, parsley, thyme, basil, oregano... just a Tablespoon of combined herbs. Stir and serve.

Tomorrow, 4 packet, slow cooker Pot Roast...

Then, Friday? You guessed it... Left overs! I have book club, so everyone else can have a leftover buffet.

I promise, I took pictures. I used Mom's camera so I will send them home to be downloaded and then post them for you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Can I call a sub?

I am sick. So, how do I call in sick from my job? Is there a sub list somewhere no one told me about? Cause I could really use a day off.

Hope you are all well. I'll be back soon. :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Balsamic Onion Pizza

My husband always says, "What's for lunch?" on weekends. I am often tempted to say, "bologna sandwich? Grilled cheese?" But today, I am making a treat.

Balsamic Onion Pizza

1 Cup Ricotta cheese
1 egg yolk
2 sweet onions
2 shallots
1 pizza dough (I am using a ball I got from the local Pizzeria, but the canned would work fine)
2 cups of freshly grated Gruyere cheese
2 T of freshly grated Parmigiana Reggiano
2 T butter
2 T Olive Oil
1 T Garlic Powder
1 t balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut onion and Shallots into slices. In a saute pan melt butter and Olive oil. Over a medium heat, saute onions/ shallots till translucent. Then lower heat to Medium Low and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add Balsamic Vinegar and cook for ten minutes more.

While the onions are cooking, roll out Pizza Dough to desired shape and put on seasoned or greased pizza stone. (A greased cookie sheet would be fine.) Mix Ricotta with egg yolk, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Spread ricotta mixture on the pizza dough leaving an edge of about 1/2 inch. Grate Gruyere and Parmesan and set aside. pre-heat oven to 425 F. When onions are done, spread evenly over ricotta. Top with Gruyere and Parmesan and cook for about 15 minutes or until dough is cooked and cheese is melty.

Sorry about the lack of photo's I need a new camera.

Easy Pancake Mix

Why shouldn't you just make pancakes from a box? Because you will save money and make your children healthier by making it yourself. And I swear, it will be just as easy.

Do me a favor, just try it. Next week at the store buy a few things:

1) A small bag of flour (Start with all purpose, if I convert you, we can delve into whole grains)

2) Baking powder

3) Salt, if you don't have any that isn't in your shaker

4) Those cute little containers of applesauce, go for the natural, or whatever your kids will eat, since you wont use it all.

5) Agave Nectar (buy a small bottle, it's good for you and I will help you use it. You can find it near the honey, which by the way is a good subsititute here if the words Agave Nectar scare you)

6) Eggs

7) Milk

8) Mini chocolate chips if you are so inclined.

That's it, ok? Come back when you have the stuff...

Back? Good. I haven't lost you yet? ;)

Now, take 4 cups of flour, 4 Tablespoons on Baking Powder and a teaspoon of salt. Mix them together well in a big Ziploc bag and put it away.

Now, come back on Saturday Morning, ok?

Ok, now... take 1 egg and whisk it well, an actual whisk makes it quicker work, but a fork is fine. Whisk until it gets bubbles on top.

Pour it in a big bowl and add 1 1/4 cups of the dry mix you have in that bag. Save the rest for next weekend.

Now, add 3/4 cup of milk, 1 tbsp agave nectar and 2 tbsp of that applesauce in the cute little cup.
Walla, pancake batter! Healthy, homemade, from scratch!

Cook them the same way you cook the mix.

Heat up a pan, spray with Pam, spoon the batter on, flip once. I add the chips when they are cooking, but you can add frozen blueberries too for an even healthier version. Think of the anti-oxidants!

Let me know if you try it, I need feedback here people.

Next quest, easy homemade mac and cheese.... I will start working on it and get back to you.