Monday, July 27, 2009

Baked Ziti and a Giveaway

I'm not sure how this hasn't gotten on the blog until now, but it's one of the best recipes EVER! It's from The Best 30 Minute Recipe (aka- our favorite cookbook). I made this easy recipe even easier by adding a jar of spaghetti sauce instead of making it. And since we think more people need this cookbook in their lives, we're giving one away, along with 2 of the cutest potholders from Urban Outfitters. Leave a comment by this Friday at 12:00 noon and we'll randomly select a winner after that. Good luck!

Skillet Baked Ziti

1 T. olive oil
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1 jar spaghetti sauce
3 cups water
12 ounces ziti- 3 3/4 cups (I used penne)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1 cup shredded mozzarella

1. Heat Oven: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees.
2. Simmer Ziti: Combine oil and red pepper flakes in 12 inch ovensafe nonstick skillet and saute over medium high heat about 30 seconds. Add spaghetti sauce, water, and ziti. Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed to maintain vigorous simmer, until ziti is almost tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
3. Add Cheese and Bake: Stir in cream, parmesan and basil. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over ziti. Transfer skillet to oven (or if your skillet isn't ovenproof, transfer to a baking dish) and bake until cheese has melted and browned, about 10 minutes.

July 26 menu

I feel like I've been MIA in the meal-planning dept the past few weeks, and I'm ready to get back in the kitchen. Here's what we're eating for dinner this week:

Sun- filet mignon with goat cheese and balsamic glaze, steamed carrots, Kelli's mashed taters and hot buns, BLT salad, and Maren's homemade chocolate almond ice cream and homemade strawberry ice cream. WOW.

Mon- Green Pizza

T- teriyaki chicken with steamed zucchs, carrots, and rice

W- fajitas

Th- linguini with spring vegetables

F- chicken club salad

Sat- breakfast for dinner

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Stew Over Mashed Potatoes

A friend made this a few years ago, and I HAD to have the recipe. It's been a family favorite ever since! For the best mashed potato recipe, go here.

Stew Over Mashed Potatoes

1 package beef stew meat
2 cans beef consumme (next to the beef broth)
4 or 5 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 packets brown gravy mix

Flour stew meat, then place in large skillet over medium heat. Add beef consumme and cook for about 2 hours until meat is tender, stirring occasionally. Add carrots and cook about 30 minutes or until carrots are soft. Mix gravy packets with 2 cups water, then add to skillet and stir until sauce thickens. Serve over mashed potatoes.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Product Review

I've been in the market for crackers that I can keep on hand at work for snacking. For awhile I was getting the reduced fat wheat thins, and while they are pretty good, they aren't all that nutritious. About all they have going for them is that they are low in fat. So I decided to try out a couple of different brands to try and find a cracker that was still low in fat, but higher in fiber and lower in salt. And of course it still had to taste good. Here's what I found...

The three contenders -

All Bran Multi Grain Crackers

Wheat Thins Reduced Fat Crackers

Special K Multi-Grain Baked Crackers

(* indicates the winner in the category)

All Bran: 130
Wheat Thins: 130
*Special K: 120

All Bran: 6g
Wheat Thins: 3.5g
*Special K: 3g

All Bran: 270mg
*Wheat Thins: 260mg
*Special K: 260mg

*All Bran: 5g
Wheat Thins: 1g
Special K: 2g

*All Bran: 4g
*Wheat Thins: 4g
Special K: 6g

*All Bran: Delish
Wheat Thins: Pretty good
Special K: Barf x 10


All Bran: Won 3 categories, but in my opinion taste counts extra, so this is my pick for the overall winner. Sure, they're a bit higher in fat, but they're also significantly higher in fiber, which is pretty good in my book. And they actually taste good! (Most likely because of the fat.)

Wheat Thins: Won 2 categories; while they're not that impressive nutritionally, they are still pretty delicious crackers.

Special K: Won 3 categories, and probably wins the overall nutrition contest (besides being low in fiber), but they taste awful. Seriously terrible. There is a bit of an onion-y flavor that I absolutely detest. It probably didn't help that I tried this box after the delicious higher fat All Bran crackers, but still, they are nasty. Please, I beg of you, do not waste your money or torture your taste buds with these crackers.

Anyone have any suggestions for me on a healthy cracker that still tastes good?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Peanut Butter Balls

A couple weeks back, we had some neighbor kids over and had a Mom-n-Tot cooking class. When all the kids had their tiny aprons tied and hands washed, we mixed up some peanut butter balls and chowed down. The crushing and rolling makes this a perfect recipe for the kids to help with. It was lots of fun, I want to do it another couple times before summer is over. Maren has made a version of these with even healthier ingredients such as flax seed and wheat germ. A friend of ours keeps a batch in her freezer and tells her kids they are cookie dough. :)

Peanut Butter Balls

1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
1/4 cup quick or old fashioned oats
3/4 cup crisp rice cereal (save 1/2 cup to crush)

In a large mixing bowl, combine peanut butter, honey, dry milk, oats and 1/4 cup of the rice cereal. Shape into 1-inch balls. Put the remaining 1/2 cup rice cereal in a large zip-type bag and crush with hands. Place balls in bag and shake until balls are covered with cereal. Freeze for at least 30 minutes before eating.

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Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Cups

I've had some Teriyaki sauce from Costco that I'd been wanting to try, so I was searching recipes for Teriyaki Chicken and came across this one from Rachael Ray. I had all the ingredients and it was super simple. My kids were hesitant to try it at first, but after one bite they were hooked! So, so good.

Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Cups

  • 1 tablespoon EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, remove each leaf carefully to create cups
  • 4 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 4 zucchini, cut into matchsticks

In a large skillet with 1 turn of the pan of EVOO, brown the chicken on all sides, about 5 minutes.

Add the teriyaki sauce and brown sugar, and cook until the sauce is reduced and the chicken is cooked through, about another 2 minutes.

Serve the chicken in the iceberg lettuce cups garnished with carrots and zucchini sticks.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Wishin' and Hopin'

We've started our Christmas wish lists, and have more than a few kitchen gadgets in mind. Here are just a few of them:

Individual cupcake stands

A Cuisinart Ice Cream maker (OK, Maren couldn't wait til December and just bought this)

A Cuisipro Stack-N-Scoop (at least, we did want one until we read the less than positive reviews on Amazon... there was one titled "Pooper Scooper)

Lastly, all Kelli wants for Christmas is a Ketchup Charlie Spread Head.

It doesn't take much to make us happy.
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Friday, July 10, 2009

Cinnamon Raisin French Toast with Buttermilk Syrup

This French Toast recipe is from Williams-Sonoma and it's always been my favorite. It calls for a baguette, but I had a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread to use and it was delicious! The buttermilk syrup is a new recipe that a friend introduced me to and now no other syrup is good enough- it's the best EVER.

French Toast


1 day-old baguette, cut diagonally into slices
3/4 inch thick (or a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread)

6 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups half-and-half (or you can substitute milk)

1 Tbs. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar

Unsalted butter for cooking

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Blackberries or other berries for garnishing

Buttermilk syrup for serving


In a shallow baking dish, arrange the bread slices in a single layer. In a bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar and whisk until blended. Pour the mixture over the bread, then turn the slices over and let the bread absorb the remaining liquid.

Preheat a griddle according to the manufacturer's instructions and coat generously with butter. When the griddle is hot, cook the bread in batches (do not overcrowd) until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Transfer the French toast to a warmed platter, dust with confectioners' sugar and garnish with berries. Serve immediately with buttermilk syrup alongside. Serves 4.

Buttermilk Syrup

1 stick butter
1/2 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add buttermilk and sugar; bring just to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda. Serve warm, and restrain yourself from drinking the entire pan. You WILL want to.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Berry-lemon Napoleons

Heavens to mergatroid, this is one tasty dessert. I tried two new-to-me things for this: frozen puff pastry and lemon curd. I give both of them a perfect ten. You must make this for those you hold dear.

Berry-Lemon Napoleons

1 box frozen puff pastry
2 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 one small container lemon yogurt
1/2 c. lemon curd
2 C. whipped cream
3/4 C. each fresh raspberries, blueberries, and chopped strawberries
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly coat two cookie sheets with cooking spray. After thawing on countertop for 45 minutes, cut puff pastry into 9 equal squares. Place on cookie sheet, spray dough with cooking spray, and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Bake for 15 minutes, til golden. Meanwhile, stir together lemon yogurt and lemon curd, then fold in whipped cream.

To assemble, place one pastry square on a plate, top with a dollop of lemon cream, add another square, more cream, and sprinkle with berries. Makes 4 and 1/2 desserts if you use two pastry squares per, and 9 if you use only one per.

Recipe for heavenly lemon curd here.
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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sweet teeth

If you know someone who would enjoy a few sugar cookies in the shape of teeth (I know a few), you can find the cookie cutter and more here. In addition to the cookie cutters, I love the skinny candles, unique cake toppers, cupcake liners, and doilies.
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Monday, July 6, 2009

July 5- Menu

Sun- lasagna, green tossed salad, corn, garlic bread, watermelon, cantaloupe, and berry lemon napoleons
(It really was an especially delicious meal... lasagna and dessert recipes to come)

M- orange chicken, broccoli and rice

T- beef soft tacos

W- TJ’s mac n cheese, steamed squash

Th- roast chicken, TJ's sweet potato fries, spinach salad

F- leftovers

Sat- out

...Next week I will be at Girls' Camp and the fam will be dining Dad style. I'm headed to Trader Joe's today to stock our freezer with quick fix options.

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Famous Bread

Here is the recipe for the bread that I made for the sacrament for a few months, and these are the loaves that I just sold to the Turleys. It's really yummy!
1 c. milk
1 heaping T. active dry yeast
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1 egg lightly beaten
1/3 c. butter, margerine, or shortening (softened)
31/2 c. all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350. Heat milk in microwave so that it is warm to the touch, (a trick is to stir it with a fork and make sure all the milk is warm especially when doubling or tripling it) approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add yeast and sugar to milk, mix, and let sit for 10-15 minutes until bubbles form. To yeast mixture, add salt, beaten egg, and butter. Then add the flour, one cup at a time, mixing between each addition. Mix until dough cleans the sides of the bowl and forms one ball in the center. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it for a few minutes. Form it into one big cemi-circle and put it in a greased bowl. Let it rise for about 30 minutes. Then seperate it into sections, and form the dough into ovals. Place them in greased bread pans and let rise for about 10 more minutes. Cook bread until crust is golden brown. Take out of the oven and dump onto cooling rack. Glaze it with butter, and let it cool, or eat it warm!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pan Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Chipotle-Orange Glaze

Another keeper from The Best 30-Minute Recipe. Pretty dang quick, easy, and delicious.

Pan-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Chipotle-Orange Glaze

Try to find small pork tenderloins of equal size so that they will cook quickly and evenly If the tenderloins you find are larger than 1 pound, you will need to increase the roasting time accordingly. The glaze requires no cooking, but if you would like to warm the glaze, place it in a microwave-safe container, cover, and microwave on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

2 pork tenderloins (1 pound each), trimmed
salt and ground black pepper
1 T. vegetable oil

Chipotle-Orange Glaze
1 c. orange marmalade
1 T. minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

  1. Heat oven: Adjust oven rack to upper middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Season and brown pork: Pat tenderloins dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown tenderloins on all sides, about 5 minutes total.
  3. Roast pork: Transfer skillet to oven and roast pork until thickest part of tenderloin register 140 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 18-20 minutes.
  4. Prepare glaze: Process 1 cup orange marmalade and 1 tablespoon minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce in blender (or food processor) until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  5. Rest pork before serving: Transfer tenderloins to carving board, tent with foil, and let rest until the thickets parts of tenderloins reach 150 degrees, about 5 minutes. Cut tenderloins crosswise into thin slices and serve with glaze. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Blueberry Crumb Bars

With July being National Blueberry Month, I thought it fitting to post this dessert. I like blueberries OKAY, but I mostly just put them in my smoothies. But when I saw this recipe, it looked too good to pass up, and I was right! It is a new favorite!

Blueberry Crumb Bars

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup + 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided use
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup cold butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups blueberries
4 teaspoons cornstarch
Optional: Confectioners' sugar for dusting

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 x 13 baking pan.
2) In a medium bowl whisk together 3 cups of flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Use a pastry cutter or fork to cut in butter until mixture is in pieces no larger than a pea. Mix in egg and vanilla extract. Dough will be crumbly but stick together when squeezed. Pat half of the dough into the pan.
3) In another bowl, mix reserved 1/4 cup granulated sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice. Add blueberries and gently toss them to coat. Pour blueberry mixture on top of the dough in pan. Then crumble remainder of dough evenly over surface of berries.
4) Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the top is slightly browned. Cool completely, then cut into squares. Dust with powdered sugar if using. Can be refrigerated for several days. Yield: 15 bars.