Monday, November 23, 2009

I blew NaBloPoMo

On Friday night going to bed early was a major priority after a very,very stressful week, and I forgot to post. Of course, then I found myself wide awake at exactly 12:11 a.m. on Saturday realizing what I did. Oh, well. I've participated every year and have yet to make it through a whole month (well, maybe I did the first year; I don't really remember, and that was at my last blog). What can I say, sometimes a good night sleep trumps my desire to make it to the finish line in a blogging contest apparently.

Anyway, no meal planning this week. Since it's a short, and very, very busy week, we're taking it easy, eating some of the meals I've frozen in the past couple of months (meatballs, pasties), and getting ready for the big eating day (aka Thanksgiving! Can't wait!) and my 30th birthday (on Sunday).

However, I will be baking 3 pies, and I'll share those recipes over the week - a pumpkin pie (standard, can't avoid), a pecan pie (also standard), and something I haven't made before, a sweet potato pie, by special request of Aaron's aunt.

And now I've made myself hungry. I love pie.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pancake Sandwich

I know I'm not the only one, but sometimes I just need a big breakfast for comfort reasons, even if it's not the morning. Enter Brinner, and one of our favorite recipes that we use sparingly because too often would be way too much: The Pancake Sandwich.

Now this sandwich isn't for someone who is watching their calories, that's for sure, but it is delicious and very comforting. This is more of a list than a recipe, but the ingredients are so basic anyone could make this. Really.

Start with a pancake (we usually go with plain, but I can see how blueberry pancakes would add a little something extra). Place it on a plate, and top it with about 1/4 to 1/2 c. scrambled eggs. Top the eggs with a slice of American cheese. Criss cross two strips of bacon (place them on in an X) on top of the cheese, then top all of that with another pancake. Then, if you're really brave, drizzle the whole thing with maple syrup (real syrup, not that fake pancake/maple flavored corn syrup grossness) (just a personal opinion).

There you have it. One delicious, fattening, but really delicious sandwich. Perfect for breakfast, brunch, or brinner!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

0 for 3

So, yeah. We didn't cook again tonight, and I'm calling it a wash. No new recipe today.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Well, so far this week we're 0 for 2 in making the meals we had planned - last night we had a rotisserie chicken and tonight take out Mexican - but only because there's some sort of cold determined to take down everyone in my house this week.

Still, since I'm NaBloPo-ing it this month, I thought I'd share one a delicious dessert recipe that's perfect for this time of year. And that dessert is Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars. Seriously, how can you go wrong with that sort of combination? They're amazing, and also rich, so remember to cut them into fairly small squares. You really won't be sorry if you make these, I promise.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Source: Everyday Food

20 chocolate wafer cookies (half a 9-ounce package) (or the equivalent in chocolate graham crackers, which is what I used)
2 Tbsp. sugar
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

2 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese
1 c. sugar
1 c. canned solid pack pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
3 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. salt
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.

In a food processor, blend cookies with sugar until finely ground; add butter and pulse until moistened. Transfer crumb mixture to prepared pan, and press gently into bottom (I use the bottom of a measuring cup and it works beautifully). Bake until fragrant and slightly firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Place cream cheese in a food processor; blend until smooth. Add sugar, pumpkin, eggs, flour, spice, and salt. Process until combined. Set aside.

Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each, until melted. Add 1 c. of the pumpkin mixture and stir to combine. Set aside.

Pour remaining pumpkin mixture into prepared pan. Drop dollops of the chocolate mixture onto pumpkin mixture; swirl with a knife. Bake until cheesecake is set, but jiggles slightly when gently shaken, 40 to 50 minutes.

Cool in pan. Cover; chill until firm, at least two hours. Using overhang, transfer cake to work surface. With a knife dipped in water, cut into 16 squares. Serve.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Meal Planning 11.16.09

I'm doing things a little different this week; usually I post meal plans that are either what we ate the previous week, or made up of other meals that I've already tried, but this week I'm going to post what we're planning to eat this week. If the recipes turn out, I'll do a post for them coming up. I'll indicate if we've already tried a recipe and enjoyed it that's included in the plan. Here goes!

Monday: Spaghetti and Meatballs, Garlic Bread, Salad

We love these meatballs! The recipe makes a lot, so I freeze half, and we're eating the reheated half tonight. I can't wait!

Tuesday: Beer Glazed Black Beans with Tomatoes, Cheese Grits, Tortillas

Haven't made these yet, but I can't wait to try them. We're planning on going vegetarian for the month of January, so we're testing out a few easy-looking recipes so we have additional staples for that month.

Wednesday: Twice Baked Potatoes, Salad

Thursday: Spicy Autumn Veggie Burgers on Hard Rolls, Tater Tots

Friday: Brinner - Migas, Toast

Saturday: Creamy Pasta with Ham and Broccoli, Rolls, Salad

Sunday: Comfort Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Broccoli

I know, I know...meatballs twice in one week. But! They're almost a week apart. And I love meatballs. So there.

Lots of new recipes this week! I'm currently at home waiting for the stove repairman to show up and replace my stovetop, so I'm celebrating with lots of cooking. I'm so excited to have a fully working stove again I can hardly stand it!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

To Do

Even though I've been cooking and baking for a long time, and have made many things that my friends think take some skill, there are still more than a few things out there that I'd like to try to make. So, I figured tonight I'll post the start of my list and in the next few months I'll try to make them and post about it here. Might as well start tackling my cooking/baking goals, right?

Here are things I'd like to make/master (all from scratch):
  • pierogis
  • whoopie pies
  • macarons
  • coq au vin
  • beef bourguignon
  • cheese - mozzarella, paneer, cheddar, ricotta
  • caramel corn
  • 100% whole wheat bread
  • sourdough bread (with my own starter)
  • granola/granola bars
  • yogurt
I think that's a good start to a list, if not almost a little too ambitious. This is going to take me a while to get through!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Homemade Spaghetti-O's

Last night before I made the special dinner for Aaron, I made a special dinner for Gabbie. We try to feed her as little processed food as possible, as a rule, so I'm often trying to find ways to make some of my childhood favorites from scratch. On a whim  yesterday, I Googled "spaghettios recipe," and found this recipe, which, modified for size, was just what I was looking for. Gabbie wasn't crazy about it last night, but I think that was mostly due to her being able to see my giant pile of shredded cheese (intended for cheese grits; delicious, wonderful cheese grits), because she loved the reheated leftovers today.

Homemade Spaghetti-O's
Adapted from Oven Love

1 large can tomato sauce (28 oz or so - the equivalent of 3 cups)
1 1/2 c. water
2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 lb. small pasta shapes (we used pasta stars)
1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 c. milk
1 Tbsp. butter
salt, to taste

Combine tomato sauce, water, and garlic powder in a large pot. Bring to a boil. When boiling, add the pasta to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently (mostly because the past will stick to the bottom of the pot due to its small size) for about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is soft. Stir in the cheese until melted. Add milk, butter, and salt, and stir to combine. Enjoy!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Night Date Night

I decided to do something special for Aaron tonight as he has had a long week at work. So, I flipped through The Pioneer Woman Cooks and decided on a pan-fried ribeye with whisky cream sauce, cheese grits, and a wedge salad. Delicious! And now, we're about to fall into a food coma, so I'm off. Happy Friday night!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'm going to bake something from the book this weekend, too.

Guess what I finally got today:

(Ignore the mess in the background, Gabbie had just emptied her toy box minutes earlier.)

If you can't tell from the photo (I couldn't get her to hold it up any higher) I finally got The Pioneer Woman Cooks Cookbook. I've already read it cover to cover, and now I have a big decision to make: what should I cook first? Should it be the Chicken Spaghetti? Lasagna? Sherried Tomato Soup? Migas? (It won't be the pulled pork, but only because we're still working on the roast I made earlier in the week, not because it doesn't look amazing, because it totally does.)

What would you make first?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Crockpot Pork Roast with Sweet Potatoes

This one is really easy. It took me all of 5 minutes to throw this in the crockpot, and most of that 5 minutes was for peeling the sweet potatoes. You could do this a million ways, I'm sure, but I stuck with incredibly simple, and it turned out perfectly.

Crockpot Pork Roast with Sweet Potatoes

1 pork loin roast (ours was about 3 pounds)
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch thick slices
chili powder
salt & pepper

Place the pork loin in the crockpot. Sprinkle liberally with chili powder, salt, and pepper. Rub in the spices, flip the pork loin and repeat with the other side. Add in sweet potatoes and 1/2 c. water around the sides. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 to 10 hours.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Roasted Tomato Soup

Tomato soup is one of my very top favorite foods. I love it pretty much any way except for the condensed stuff. No thanks. I've tried a ton of different recipes, including lots of delicious ones, and this is one of the delicious ones. It was a great way to use up the last of our CSA tomatoes (a few weeks ago), but I can also see making it with a couple of pints of grape tomatoes, or a mix of whatever looks best at the store.

Speaking of the CSA tomatoes, the prep for this recipe was beautiful. Check it out:

Then I roasted them, pureed them, and ate them. And they were great.

Roasted Tomato Soup
Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Approx. 4 c. tomatoes, quartered
1 small onion, quartered
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 c. vegetable broth
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. salt/pepper
3/4 c. olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place tomatoes, onions, and garlic on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 45 minutes. Let cookie sheet cool enough to handle and scoop them (and all the yummy juices) into a pot or a blender. Puree the vegetables (if in the pot, use an immersion blender) until smooth. Add broth and simmer over medium heat. Add herbs and any additional salt and pepper.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday Meal Planning 11.9.09

Here's a quickie meal plan tonight. I'll post most of the related recipes throughout the week.

Monday: Crockpot pork roast and sweet potatoes, salad

This was really good and easy. I am loving my crockpot these days.

Tuesday: Mushroom spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad.

I just sautee up some mushrooms in butter and olive oil with some garlic, stir into jarred sauce and serve over pasta. Even though we call this spaghetti, we have been using bow-ties or rotini lately because they're easier for Gabbie to pick up and eat.

Wednesday: Cubano sandwiches and sweet potato fries

These use leftover pork from Monday. We really liked these!

Thursday: Roasted tomato soup, salad

Friday: Pulled pork sandwiches, cole slaw, chips

Using up still more of the pork roast. It made kind of a lot.

Saturday: Steak, Guiness, and Cheese Pie, buttered peas

I LOVE this recipe!

This is totally a week full of quick, filling, delicious meals. My favorite kind of week.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins

Tis the season for pumpkin-flavored goodies. I started the season with a pumpkin muffin at Panera, then got a pumpkin latte or two, and have topped it off with pumpkin creamer for my coffee so I get some every day. But it's time to take it to the next level - pumpkin sweets.

I got this recipe from All & Sundry a couple of years ago, and have made it each fall since. It's easy and delicious, which you know are my two requirements for something I make time and time again. In fact, the first time I made them, we ate them all and then Aaron requested I make another batch immediately. So I did, and we ate all of those too.

(Insanely Good) Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 small can pumpkin (or 1 1/2 c. homemade pumpkin puree)
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. molasses
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and lightly grease a 12 muffin tin (or line with paper liners).

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices together in a large bowl. Mix remaining ingredients except for chocolate chips in another bowl. Pour dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix. Stir in chocolate chips.

Fill muffin cups 2/3rds full. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dad's Pasties

Every time we head to the UP (Michigan's Upper Peninsula), we make sure to have pasties for dinner at least once. These UP staples are hot, hearty, and delicious, made with root vegetables and meat, and perfect for the long, cold winters that are the norm up there. Of course, there were quite a few years when we didn't make it up to the UP. When our pastie cravings got the best of us, my dad found and tweaked a recipe, and I have to admit that they're better than any I've had up north. All they're missing is the ambiance. These do take quite a while to make, but they're totally worth it. Plus, it makes so many that we usually freeze at least half the recipe, which means we have at least two dinners out of every batch. Freezing directions are at the bottom of the recipe.

Dad's Pasties
Adapted from Chef Paul Prudhomme's Seasoned America

Seasoning Mix
2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. onion powder
3/4 tsp. dried thyme leaves
3/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp. ground savory

3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. seasoning mix
9 Tbsp. unsalted butter
10 - 12 Tbsp. cold water

10 oz. lean pork, very finely chopped
3/4 lb. lean beef (I used sirloin), very finely chopped
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. seasoning mix
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 c. chopped onions
1 c. chopped celery
1 1/2 c. finely diced rutabaga
1 to 1 1/2 c. finely diced peeled potato
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic

1 egg
2 Tbsp. water

1. Combine the seasoning mix ingredients thoroughly in a small bowl.

2. For the dough: combine the flour, 1 tsp. seasoning mix, and the butter in a bowl and blend with a fork or pastry blender until the texture is mealy. Gradually add the water and work the dough lightly with your hands until all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Form the dough into a ball. Refrigerate, covered, 1 hour.

3. For the filling: combine the pork and beef in a bowl. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. seasoning mix over the meat and work in well with your hands.

Melt the butter in a 12 inch skillet over high heat. When the butter begins to sizzle, add the onions and celery and cook stirring occasionally until the onions begin to brown about 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in 1 tsp. seasoning mix and cook 4 minutes.

Push the vegetables to one side of the skillet, place the seasoned meat in the cleared space, and cook, stirring occasionally until just brown, about 3 minutes. Mix the meat into the vegetables.

Add the rutabaga, potato, and garlic, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Pour the filling mixture into a shallow pan and refrigerate until cool. (In a Michigan winter, we cover it and put it outside for about 30 minutes, and that does the trick.)

Here's a picture of the filling so you can see the approximate size things should be chopped.
I make about 1 cm cubes of everything.

4. To finish: make an egg wash by beating the egg and water together.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide into 7 equal portions. Sprinkle a clean surface with flour and roll out each portion of dough to a thickness of about 1/16 inch. Using a plate or a pan as a guide (I used a salad plate), cut a 7 to 9 inch round from each portion. When each portion has been rolled out, re-roll the scraps to make additional rounds. I usually get about 9 pasties out of the dough.

Remove the filling from the refrigerator (or bring it inside). Put about 3/4 c. of the filling in the middle of the dough round. Brush the edges of the dough with the egg wash, and fold in half to seal. Crimp the edge with the tines of a fork. Brush egg wash over the top of each pasty.

Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray and place the pasties on the sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 1 hour. Serve warm with beef gravy or (as we do up north) lots of ketchup.

To freeze: Make pasties as directed up through brushing with egg wash. Place on a baking sheet and freeze for 2 hours. Place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Add 10 minutes to the baking time (or more as needed), and bake straight from the freezer.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Delicious Links 11.6.09

Some fun food-related links today:

I have wanted to make these bacon cups for forever. I was thinking they?d be really good filled with scrambled eggs and hash browns. Or maybe Caesar salad. Yummmmm?.

This thread on Ask Metafilter has some great ideas for holiday food gifts. I want to make limoncello this year (here's I want to use), but I need to start soon if that's going to happen!

I really enjoyed this article. It is a very fun read and incredibly interesting to see all of the different things that are going on in the food world these days.

That's it for today! Tomorrow: Pasties: a great food to make and eat, especially on the weekend because they?re a little time consuming. Totally worth it, though.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pear Butter

Hey look! I successfully canned something! It's pear butter and it's delicious. I had to do something with the plethora of pears I had from the tree in our backyard, and this just seemed the way to go. It was incredibly easy using the crock pot, and it's so good that Aaron is sad these jars are marked for giving away as Christmas gifts.

Pear Butter
adapted from Tasty Kitchen

6 pounds pears, peeled and chopped into large pieces
½ cups water
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest (Don't Omit)
½ teaspoons nutmeg
⅓ cups orange juice (or you can do like I did and just use the juice of the orange you zested)

Combine all ingredients in a crockpot. Stir. Cook on low for four hours. Mash or puree using an immersion blender. Cook on low for four more hours.

Ladle hot butter into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Process for 10 minutes in a canner with the lids.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mint Crinkles

There are two things you must know:

1. My official start of the holiday season every year is when I buy the Better Homes and Gardens special Christmas Cookies issue. I love it. I have every one going back to 2003 (plus some other special holiday issues). One year I didn't buy one and my mom, knowing how much I loved this magazine, bought me the issue so I wouldn't miss out on this special dose of holiday joy.
2. The way to my husband's heart is through putting something mint chocolate in his stomach.

Which is why I made these:

And I have to tell you, you must too make these and eat them nice and hot fresh out of the oven with a big glass of milk. Delicious!

Mint Crinkles
Source: BHG Christmas Cookies 2009

3/4 c. Andes mint chocolate and mint pieces (or 24 candies chopped finely)
1/3 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
additional Andes mint pieces, or finely chopped candies

In a heavy small saucepan, heat and stir the 3/4 c. candy pieces until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and cool for about 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, beat shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt; beat until well combined. Beat in cooled melted candy, eggs, and vanilla. Beat or stir in flour. Cover and chill until dough is easy to handle (about 3 hours).

Preheat oven to 350. Drop by rounded tablespoonful (you'll want them fairly ball-shaped before baked) 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges are set (tops should crackle). Sprinkle a few candy pieces on top of each cookie (don't press them into the cookie). Bake 1 minutes more. Cool on wire racks. Makes 30-36 cookies.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Taco Calzones

The other night I stopped by the grocery store with about 10 minutes to spare and no idea what I was making for dinner. I kind of wanted pizza, but I also kind of wanted something Mexicanish, and my main goal was to use as few dishes as possible since I wasn't in the mood for a big mess. A recipe on the cover of a magazine inspired me to combine my two cravings and make Taco Calzones. I totally winged it, and I must say, it turned out to be a fairly easy and delicious dish! Plus, you only dirty a pan, a cookie sheet, a spoon, a knife, and a cutting board. It may sound like a lot, but that's a small mess for me. Goal accomplished!

Of course, these can be played with a lot - more of a technique than a firm recipe. I'm envisioning adding black beans in the future, or maybe even a schmear of refried beans. If I want a spicier version, I can see adding some salsa and pepperjack cheese to the mixture. They're just fine as-is, though. Even Gabbie managed to get down about half of one (she's on a non-eating kick these days; the complete opposite of how she was up until a month ago), so that's progress!

Taco Calzones

1 lb ground chuck
1/2 a medium onion, diced (about 1/3 c.)
Taco seasoning
1 c. shredded cheese
1/2 to 1 c. frozen corn kernels
1/4 to 1/2 c. diced tomato
Pizza crust (I used a Pillsbury tube of thin-crust pizza dough, but you can use whatever you like)

Preheat oven according to pizza crust directions.

In a large sautee pan, brown beef. When beef is almost done, add in onion and cook until translucent. Add in taco seasoning according to package directions. Remove from heat and stir in a handful of cheese, corn, and tomato.

Roll out pizza crust and cut it into 6 equal pieces. Add about 1/3 c. filling to the middle of each square, top with additional cheese, fold in half and seal. Bake according to pizza crust directions (mine took about 13 minutes). Serve with sour cream and taco sauce.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday Meal Planning 11.2.09

I cannot believe it's November already. This year has flown by crazy fast!

My cooking slump seems to have mostly passed, thank goodness. Not only that, but my stove is getting fixed under warranty, so I don't have to shell out two arms and a leg for the repairs. I think that weight lifted made all the difference.

Anyway, I took a week off cooking and then I made up for it today, with pear sauce, mint crinkle cookies, and pasties (recipes all coming soon). I was in the kitchen on my feet for 4 hours straight, and I'm totally wiped out. Totally worth it though. I'm back, Baby!

And since I'm back, here are the meals for this week:

Monday: Spicy Mexican Squash Stew, corn bread

I made this in the crockpot by just throwing everything in and turned it on high for 8 hours. I think next time I'd add some beans of some sort to add bulk and make it more filling. It was good like it was - it tasted like a basic vegetable soup - but I can definitely think of a few ways to make it better.

Tuesday: Chicken wrap-ups, tater tots

We use frozen breaded strips and cook them according to package directions. Then we slice them in wrap them in a tortilla with all different kinds of fillings, depending on our mood. My favorite is basic - lettuce, tomato, cheddar, and ranch dressing with a little hot sauce mixed in. Delicious! (and so, so easy)

Wednesday: BBQ Beans and Sausage, salad

This one is such a huge hit in our house, that I get asked to make it almost every week. I limit it to once a month at the most, because I'm not a big fan of having the same thing over and over and over.

Thursday: Taco Calzones, Mexican Rice

I made this recipe up on Friday, and it turned out great. Recipe coming tomorrow.

Friday: Prosciutto Pasta, Herb Garlic Bread, Salad

Another house favorite, and another easy meal. I also saw Ina Garten make some garlic bread on tv over the weekend that I'm dying to try, and so I needed an excuse to make it. This dish is the perfect excuse.

Saturday: Pasties, pear sauce

Pasties are a northern Michigan favorite, and a household favorite too. My dad went to college in the U.P. and Aaron's family is from there too, so we have lots of northern Michigan traditions in our house. These will blow you away. Promise. Recipe to come soon!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I'm doing NaBloPoMo on both of my sites. Get ready for a lot of new recipes here this month! Starting soon with a recipe of my own creation: Taco Calzones!


Related Posts with Thumbnails