Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pigs in Rice

This recipe is based on a recipe from my favorite cookbook, 52 Weeks of Proven Recipes for Picky Eaters but I've made a few changes based on what I have in my pantry, so here is my version of Pigs in Rice!
Pigs in Rice

You'll need:
  • 1 lb. mild sausage (although I'm sure the spicy would be very good too!)
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can Mexican stewed tomatoes
  • 1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese
  1. Cook the rice according to the directions.
  2. Brown the sausage and drain most of the grease. Put the meat aside and cover with foil to keep warm.
  3. In the remaining grease, cook the onions for a few minutes until soft and translucent.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients except the cheese and cook for about 10 minutes or so until heated through, stirring often. (If you don't like big chunks of tomato, you can break it up in the pan while you're cooking.)
  5. Top with cheese before serving.
I also made a cheese and peas salad as a side dish, although I think the onions were a bit strong, but here's the recipe for that too.

Combine 2 16-oz. bags of frozen peas, thawed with:
  • 1/2 c. cubed cheddar
  • 1/2 c. cubed mozzerella
  • 1 c. mayonaise
  • 1 small onion, chopped (this is what the recipe called for, I only used half and saved the rest for the pigs in rice, and it was still a lot. I think 1/4 of an onion or less, or using dried onions would be better and not so strong.)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Combine well, then chill until ready to serve. Top with 4 strips of bacon, crumbled, before serving.

Sweet & Sour Meatballs

Thanks, Mindi, for this yummy recipe! My boys just devoured this up tonight! This was my first attempt with meatballs and they weren't as hard as I was anticipating. I think they would work well in almost any recipe calling for meat balls. I might try them next time I make spaghetti.Sweet & Sour Meatballs

Make meatballs by combining:
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 6 Ritz crackers, crushed (I used bread crumbs instead, about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Minced onion to taste
Fry in a skillet and set aside.

For the sauce you'll need:
  • 3 cubes beef bouillon dissolved in 1 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 c. vinegar
  • 1 can pineapple tidbits (I used crushed)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 2 T. corn starch
  • 1/4 c. cold water
In a saucepan, combine beef bouillon, undrained pineapple, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and salt. Blend well and simmer about 15 minutes.

Combine cornstarch with the cold water and stir into boiling mixture stirring constantly. Simmer and stir until thickened and clear. Add meatballs and simmer an additional 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve over cooked fluffy rice.

Serves 6 to 8.

Oatmeal Raisin (or chocolate!) Cookies

I saw this recipe the other day over at the Homesteading Housewife and tried it out last night. I knew that Jarom isn't the biggest fan of raisins baked in things, and I don't have any raisins in my pantry any way, so I just substituted them for chocolate chips and they were very tasty!
"Better than Grandma's Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies"


Dry Ingredients
  • 2 Cups all-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Wet Ingredients
  • 1 Cup Unsalted Butter (I have used "regular" butter with great results too!)
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar (firmly packed)
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
Then Add
  • 3 cups oats (NOT instant)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups raisins
  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees f.
  2. whisk dry ingredients together, set aside.
  3. combine wet ingredients with mixer on low speed to combine; Turn mixer speed to HIGH and cream together until color lightens and the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. Stir the flour mixture into the creamed mixture until no flour is visible (DO NOT OVER MIX!!)
  5. Add Oats and raisins and stir to combine.
  6. Drop Approx 2 tablespoons of dough onto a greased cookie sheet spaced about 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake 11-13 min (on center rack of oven) until golden, but still moist in the cracks.
  8. cool on cookie sheet for approx 2 min before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. ENJOY!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mexican Lasagna

Need a yummy lasagna variation that doesn't take hours to bake? Try this one! Instead of noodles, you use corn tortillas (making it gluten free for the wonderful Celiacs in my life) and tastes pretty darn good!
Mexican Lasagna

1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 pkg.taco seasoning mix
1 tsp. Lawry's seasoned salt
1 c. diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
1 (15-oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (4-oz.) can diced green chilies
1 c. ricotta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 t. dried cilantro
10 corn tortillas
2 1/2 c. grated Monterrey Jack cheese

In large skillet, brown ground beef, stirring until cooked through, drain fat. Add taco seasoning mix, seasoned salt, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and chilies and blend well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, then simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, eggs, and cilantro.

Now you can assemble your lasagna!

In bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2 in. baking dish, spread 1/2 cup of the meat mixture. Top with 1/2 tortillas (I cut mine in half to make it fit the dish easier); spread 1/2 of ricotta cheese mixture over tortillas and top with 1/2 of the grated Monterrey Jack cheese. Repeat layering, ending with grated cheese. Bake, uncovered, in 350 degree oven 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into squares.


And what's the perfect companion to... well, just about any entree? Asparagus. I saw this while I was at the store yesterday and it was just calling to me. I just sauteed it up with some butter, coarse salt, and True Lemon (crystallized lemon juice), then right before taking it off the heat, I added a little bit of chopped parsley. Even Isaac devoured it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Still not doing tons of cooking this week with this darn infection, but I did muster up enough enthusiasm to make my fam a Valentine's breakfast. We had pink heart-shaped waffles with home made strawberry syrup made from the last few frozen strawberries lingering in my freezer. Yum! What did you cook for you loved ones?

Hamburger Soup

I haven't been feeling too good lately, suffering from a lovely sinus infection, so the home cooking has been a bit minimal. But the other night I called my mother-in-law to get her recipe for Hamburger Soup. It just sounded good. It was easy to make, and I just used what I already had in my pantry. And what goes fabulously with a nice, warm bowl of soup? Bread sticks, of course!Hamburger Soup

In a skillet, brown 1 lb. of ground beef. Drain excess grease.

In a large soup pan, add:
  • One tall can (46 oz.) of tomato juice
  • One can water
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • Cooked meat
  • 2 T. dried onion
  • 5 beef bouillon cubes
Then add any other veggies you have on hand. I added about 2 cups of frozen mixed veggies (corn, peas, green beans, and carrots). You could also add diced potatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers, you name it.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for at least an hour so the flavors can blend. You could also put everything in a crock pot for a few hours.

When we ate leftovers for lunch the next day, we added some Parmesan cheese on top, very tasty!

Jello Popcorn

Looking for a light, tasty treat? Try this little gem I found on the back of the church announcements last Sunday:
Jello Popcorn

In a saucepan, boil:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • One 3-oz. package of Jello, any flavor.
Pour over 24 cups of air-popped popcorn. (I popped 1 cup of raw kernels and it was a little bit much, even with helpers taking the crown off the top of the bowl, so I would guess that if you popped 1/2 cup of kernels, it would turn out great!)

Mix carefully, mixture is very hot! Cool and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

I saw this recipe in the Kraft Foods magazine and gave it a try last night. It was pretty good! I love sweet potatoes and want to try to incorporate them into our diet a little better, not just at Thanksgiving. I forgot to take my own pictures so I'll just use the ones from the website. Mine turned out almost as beautiful. Ok, not quite. But they were yummy! (And here's a small confession, I didn't have pecans on hand, but I did have some mini-marshallows. I think you know where I'm heading with this one...)

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
What You Need!
2 large sweet potatoes (1-1/2 lb.)
2 oz. (1/4 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese, cubed
2 Tbsp. fat-free milk
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup PLANTERS Pecan Pieces

Make It!

HEAT oven to 425ºF.

CUT potatoes lengthwise in half; place, cut-sides down, in foil-lined 15x10x1-inch pan. Bake 30 to 35 min. or until tender.

SCOOP out centers of potatoes into bowl, leaving 1/4-inch-thick shells. Add Neufchatel cheese, milk, sugar and cinnamon to potatoes; mash until blended.

FILL shells with potato mixture; top with nuts. Bake 8 min. or until potatoes are heated through and nuts are toasted.

Quick and Easy Fettuccine Alfredo

Here's another repost. You really need to try this one, it's just heavenly.
Quick Fettuccine Alfredo

1/2 lb. dry fettuccine (although any pasta works in a pinch!)
1 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. butter
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (not the canned stuff)
pepper to taste

Cook fettuccine in a large saucepan according to package directions. Drain well. In the same saucepan, heat cream, butter, and salt over medium-high heat, bringing to a boil. Remove from heat. Add fettuccine and cheese, tossing to combine well. Continue cooking over low heat, tossing continuously, about 2 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Sprinkle with pepper.


Here's a repost of the breadsticks I originally put on my other blog, but this is a much better home for it. I've made these a few times now and each time they turn out fabulously. I've also used it as pizza dough and everyone loved it!
Bread Sticks:

2 Tbls. sugar
1 Tbls. yeast
1 2/3 c. warm water
1 tsp. salt
3 c. flour

Mix above ingredients add another 1 c. flour or more to make a soft dough. (Usually I add just 1 then let rise. After I add just a little more to work with it). Cover and leave 10 minutes. Grease sheet cake pan and spread dough out. Melt 1/4 margarine. Spread over dough. Sprinkle on salad supreme, onion, garlic salt, garlic powder or Parmesan cheese. Cut in half and then lengthwise in strips. Let rise 20-30 minutes. Bake 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

Caution, this will happen, even as you try to document your own bread stick triumph:And this.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Homemade Oreo Cookies

This fun little recipe comes from Real Mom Kitchen and I made these tonight to bring to my in-laws for dinner tomorrow. The preliminary report? Excellent! As you can tell by my picture though, I didn't have two boxes of Devils Food cake mix to use, so I used one box of dark chocolate, and to really live on the wild side, I used a box of confetti cake and made them up in two separate batches. The confetti cake cookies turned out a little flatter while the chocolate ones were more puffy, but they both taste very good. I used my small Pampered Chef scoop and it worked very well to give the cookies a nice, uniform shape. Homemade Oreos

2 boxes devil food mix
2/3 cup oil
4 eggs

Mix by hand, drop spoonfuls on to cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake @ 350° for 8-9 minutes. Will make 48 cookies, so 24 sandwiches.


4 oz cream cheese
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 Cups powdered sugar
Food coloring (optional)

Mix together, it will seem really thick but just keep mixing.

Tater Tot Casserole

For dinner the other night, I made Tater Tot Casserole. I got the idea from a cookbook my friend's neighborhood put together, and it was a new idea for me, so I'll pass it along in case you haven't made it before. It's essentially Shepherd's Pie, only you use tater tots instead of mashed potatoes.
Tater Tot Casserole
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Cook a pound or so of ground beef in a skillet, you can add some chopped onions if your family likes that kind of thing (ours does). Drain the fat, then add a can of cream of mushroom soup and a little milk so loosen things up.

Pour the meat in an 8 x 8 baking dish (a little Pam on the dish is a good idea), then add a layer of vegetables (corn, green beans, mixed veggies, whatever).

Sprinkle a generous layer of shredded cheese on top of the veggies (a good cupful). Then layer your tater tots on top of the cheese.

Bake in the oven for at last a half hour, or until the cheese has melted and the tater tots are hot.



Connie got a cute book for the kids, Arnie the Doughnut, and after reading that, I really wanted to eat a donut (go figure), so instead of heading over to the store, I thought I would try making my own. I've never made donuts before, so I started with a google search and found this recipe. They tasted very good, but I realized a few things like I was making them that I will do better next time around (especially making sure the oil is a little bit hotter before cooking so they all turn out nice and golden, not just the last few...). Enjoy!
Secret Donut Recipe
(makes about one dozen donuts)

Before you get started, microwave a potato until it's nice and soft, then scoop out a half a cup to be added to the recipe and set aside.

Microwave 1 cup of milk so that it is warm (not hot) add the 5 teaspoons of yeast (2 packets) and a pinch of sugar and stir. Let stand for about 5 minutes.In a bowl combine:
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of warm mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
In the bowl add:
  • The milk mixture
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
Mix the dough well by hand or in a mixer with a dough hook for 3 minutes.

Prepare your kneading surface by spreading a few tablespoons of flour on a smooth surface.

Put the dough in the middle of the flour and sprinkle a little flour on top and on your hands. Knead the dough a few times. Once the dough has been kneaded, spread it out to be a half inch thick with your hands or with a rolling pin.

Now it is time to cut out the donuts. You can use a donut cutter or just use something about the same size and then find something to make the hole with.

Place the donuts on a floured pan to let rise as you get the oil ready. Let them rise for a total of ten minutes (it takes about five minutes for the oil to heat up).

Pour about a half inch of oil (vegetable oil) into a cast iron pan. An electric fry pan works great also.

The oil needs to be about 360 degrees which on my stove is about Medium to Medium High. If the oil starts to smoke it is way too hot.

Test the oil with some of the scraps of dough and when it is ready cook the donuts until golden brown on each side.

Allow the donuts to cool on a rack or on some paper towels so that the oil soaks off.

While they are cooling, you can prepare the glaze. Put a slightly warm donut face down in the glaze, turn slightly and remove, then allow to dry for a couple minutes.

Vanilla Glaze:

Heat 2 Tablespoons milk in the microwave until warm, then add:
1 cup of powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
If you a really thin glaze, just add a little more milk.

Chocolate Glaze:
Heat 3 Tablespoons of milk in the microwave until warm, then add:
1 cup of powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons of Hershey Cocoa