Saturday, November 6, 2010

Firefly Lane

In high school (again... could've been middle school), I read On Mystic Lake by Kristin Hannah. Good book, from what I remember.

Grandma purchased another of Hannah's books this summer, and lent it to me. (Of course, it got in my pile of books-to-be-read-soon, so I had it for about a month before I actually read it, but that's not the point.) I had a hard time getting into this one, to be honest. This may have been in part due to the fact that I was annoyed with the beginning--it starts with a bit of a cliffhanger, and the rest of the book is a flashback. I hate flashbacks.

The book focuses on Kate and Tully, friends who grew up on Firefly Lane in a small town in the northwest. It follows them from the tumultuous times in the 70s, throughout their thirty-year friendship. When they meet in middle school, Kate was the undeniable geek, and Tully was the ultimate cool girl. They form an odd but strong friendship, which is what keeps them going at times, and alters their lives beyond recognition. Throughout the book, Tully is the leader and Kate is the follower, but Kate has many strengths of her own. Each girl has a face she shows to the world, and face she only shows to the other--or herself. They each struggle with insecurities throughout life, some of which they never share. In the end, there is a horrible betrayal, and some pretty disturbing news.

Overall, I would rate the book 3/5 stars. The plot was interesting, and characters were well-developed. However... there are aspects that I very much dislike. The cliffhanger-then-flashback is not a feature I appreciate in any book. Especially when the cliffhanger makes you expect one thing.... which * *plot warning* * is not what actually happens. The ending isn't what I expected at all, and I felt that it wasn't appropriate to the rest of the book. In the end, I thought that the book was worth reading and would recommend it, but I can't help but think of this book with annoyance.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Lady Elizabeth

My ideal trip to the mall includes a very extended trip to the bookstore. The clearance section of Barnes & Noble is one of my favorite places...I could spend 20 minutes in Kohl's attempting to pick out clothes and 2 hours in Barnes in Noble. And yes, I am that level of a dork. :-D

The clearance section is actually where I found The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir. I already took the sticker off, so I don't recall how much it was now, but maybe 5, 6 bucks. It was well worth that!

I have always been interested in England royalty, especially in the 1500s. The story of Henry the 8th is fascinating--gruesome, at times, but fascinating. In high school (possibly middle school...), I read The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell. It was fascinating--I would recommend it--and I have been interested in this story since then. I've picked up a few books since then, but they simply went into the pile of "books-Serena's-collected-but-not-yet read." This is a book I purchased a few months ago, and read last month.

It was fascinating. This story chronicles the life of Elizabeth, daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, from the time she was an infant to the time she becomes aware that she is the Queen of England. (I saw 'aware' because it ends before her actual coronation.) It describes her thoughts, feelings, and actions, as she goes through her life as the 'bastard' second daughter of the King. It describes her times in exile, her times in danger, her relationship with her servants, and her planning as she believes she is ascending to the thrown. Elizabeth is a vivacious character, whose strengths are inspiring and her flaws are damning.
In her lifetime, Elizabeth goes from being Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King Henry and Queen Anne, to Lady Elizabeth, the bastard daughter of a traitor and the King. She endures multiple stepmothers, none of whom last, but one of whom bears the son that becomes the heir to the throne. Surprisingly, there is little animosity between the siblings--Edward, Elizabeth, and Mary (the daughter of Henry's first wife). At least, there is little animosity at first. As Edward becomes King, then Mary becomes Queen, jealousy and differences in religion tear the siblings apart. The threat of treason and the death that would ensue is constantly hanging over everyone's head, and no one knows who will be accused-and hung-next. Elizabeth has multiple situations where she is afraid for her life, and her actions during those periods are both realistic and inspiring.

Throughout the book, Elizabeth struggles with many issues, and overcomes in the end.

I will say that I am uncertain on the historical accuracy, but it was fascinating regardless. I am looking forward to reading further books by Alison Weir, and to reading more about this era in England's history.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Best Apple Bread

When my in-laws visited last, I went with Sue to get some apples from a local orchard. They had a good deal, so we each got 1/2 bushel.

FYI, 1/2 bushel is a LOT of apples. I am not entirely sure what we'll be doing with most of the apples, but that's OK--we're finding things to do with it! Drying apples, apple pie, apple bread....

Apple bread sounded fantastic the other day when I was in a baking mood, and I stumbled across this recipe. I copied the recipe into word to make it easier to print, and... promptly lost the original site. Oops. So, I have no idea where this came from, but it's pretty good.

The Best Apple Bread

3 Cup finely chopped apples
2 Cup sugar
1 Cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Teaspoon Vanilla
3 Cup all purpose flour
2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1/2 Teaspoon salt

Peel and finely chop enough apples to equal 3 cups. Set aside.
Stir together sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl.
Stir together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; add to sugar mixture, stirring just until blended. (Batter will be stiff.) Fold in finely chopped apples.
Divide batter evenly between 2 greased and floured 9- x 5-inch loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pans, and cool on wire racks.

Serving Size: 1 slice
Yields: 10 slices/loaf, 2 loaves
Calories: 207
Mmm... yum!

Opinions: I took some to work, and one loaf to my parents when we visited for Daddy's birthday. (The Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie recipe I made for Daddy will be posted later!) Everyone loved it! Definitely will make that again!

The only problem is that it cracked in the middle--still tasted yummy! :)

Comments are love!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Surprise Pockets

Another one of the blogs that I like to read is Cooking During Stolen Moments. She has some pretty good recipes on there!

This is one that I thought would be definitely worth trying. Her title was Ham & Cheese pockets, but we used a variety of cheeses & meats. I tried marking each pocket, but they didn't always hold. So... these are now Surprise Pockets!

Surprise Pockets
(Cooking During Stolen Moments)

1 Tablespoon yeast
1 Cup warm water, divided
1 Teaspoon sugar
1/4 Cup melted butter, cooled to room temperature
2 1/2-3 Cup flour
1 1/2 Teaspoon salt
ham, chopped
colby jack cheese
cheddar cheese, shredded
2 Tablespoon butter

In a mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Stir in the sugar and let sit for 5 minutes. Pour in the melted and cooled butter and the remaining warm water.
Add 2 c flour and the salt. Mix for 2 minutes. Work as much remaining flour as needed to make a dough that is smooth but not sticky. Knead on a floured surface or continue beating about 10 minutes. Add a bit more flour if the dough starts to get sticky while kneading.
Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Let rise for 1 hour. Punch dough down, cover and let rise for at least another 30 minutes.
Divide dough into 12 evenly sized balls. Roll out into a circle about 6 minutes in diameter. Place some meat/cheese in any combination on one half of the dough. Fold remaining half over the top. Pinch close and then seal with the tines of a fork. Repeat until done.
If desired, brush melted butter over each pocket.
Bake at 375 for 12-18 minutes, until lightly golden brown.

To freeze, cool completely and place as many as will fit into a gallon-sized plastic freezer bags. To reheat, warm in the oven or microwave. Or, simply eat once thawed.

Serves: 12

Opinions: Good! Definitely would do again, next time will try to work on marking it better.

As always--comments are appreciated!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


So, on the Happy Housewife website, I saw a recipe for homemade bagels. I love bagels, and she was talking about how it's cheaper for her to make them homemade vs storebought. Well, of course I have to try it! Unfortunately, her recipe calls for gluten. I could not find gluten anywhere in our local Meijer. Maybe I was just missing it, but I gave up. So, I found another recipe (somewhere; source to be cited when I find it again) which calls for bread flour. Hmm. Don't have that, either. Logically, I then searched on how to substitute for bread flour. Guess what that calls for?
All purpose flour, and gluten.
Seriously? Not cool.

So, I caved and bought bread flour, hoping that these bagels would be good enough that I would use the rest of it before it goes bad.

Oh, we certainly dont have to worry about the flour going bad. I'll be using it, so I can have one of these things every day for the rest of my life. :)


4 Cup bread flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 Teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 Cup warm water


Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Add up to 1 1/2 cup warm water, as needed to get all the dry flour in.

Place dough down on floured counter, and knead for about 10 minutes--until the dough is uniform and smooth.

Separate into 12(ish) equal sized balls, let rest for 10-20 minutes.

Roll each ball into a line, and combine into a circle.
(Guess which ones I made, and which ones Nate made! LOL)

Pre heat your oven to 425.

Let the bagels rest for 20 minutes, and bring a pot of water to boil. Grease a large baking tray lightly.

Add the bagels to the boiling water a few at a time. Keep them apart, and boil for 1 minute. Flip, then boil for another minute. Remove to drying rack; repeat for all bagels. Place bagels on baking tray, bake for 10 minutes. Flip, then bake for 10 additional minutes.

(Let's hope we get better at making them pretty. Eventually.)


To add optional toppings, sprinkle (or dip) immediately after removing from boiling water. Bake as directed.

Serves: 12
Serving Size: 1 bagel
Yields: 12 bagels
Calories: 153

So, would we make this again?
Oh, yeah. A lot. Nate ate two when they were fresh from the oven, and while I waited until the next morning for breakfast, it took quite a lot of self-control. One of these popped in the toaster, and covered in strawberry cream cheese? Mmmm....
They are just as good as the storebought--maybe not as pretty, but that's OK.

As always, comments are love!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Crab Fondue

I adore seafood. (Well, most seafood.) I could eat at Red Lobster every day and be happy. Ages ago, when we were at Red Lobster (maybe for my birthday last year?), we tried their crab & shrimp fondue. It was amazing. Absolutely amazing. I saw this recipe after that, and I had to try it!

Fair warning-the picture below is kinda gross. It did taste slightly better than that, I swear.
Crab Fondue
Betty Crocker

1 Cup shredded swiss cheese
8 Ounce cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoon bell peppers & onions
1/4 Cup dry white wine or milk
1/8 Teaspoon ground red pepper
9 Ounce crabmeat
1/2 Loaf french bread, cut into cubes

In a 2-qt saucepan or chafing dish, heat all ingredients except crabmeat and bread over medium heat, stirring constantly, until cheese is melted. Stir in crabmeat. Pour into fondue pot or chafing dish to keep warm; dip will hold for two hours.
Spear bread cubes with fondue forks; dip into fondue.
If fondue becomes too thick, stir in a small amount of dry white wine or milk.

Serves: 14

Serving Size: 2 1/2 TBSP, 4 bread cubes

...unfortunately, I was disappointed. It as very cream-cheesy; too much so. Nate was disappointed with the one from Red Lobster: too nacho-cheesy. So, I am looking for something between the two! Here is the recipe we tried at home, if you are interested! I think with a little bit of playing, it could be very good.
If you have a similar recipe, please share! I would love to try it!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

MMmm--Potatoes & Cheese!

I have to admit, I have a lot of 'favorite' foods. Chocolate, peanut butter, ice cream, cheese, sausage, shrimp, potatoes, Nutella, apples... the list could go on and on. However, the point is that when two or more of my favorite things are combined, I am a very happy lady.

See below. :)

Potato Cheese Soup

3 Medium potato, peeled & cut into 2" pieces
1 Small onion, finely chopped
1 Cup water
1 Teaspoon salt
3 Cup milk
3 Tablespoon butter, melted
2 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1 Teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/8 Teaspoon pepper
1 Cup shredded swiss cheese

In a large saucepan, bring potatoes, onion, water, and salt to a boil. Reduce heat ; cover and simmer until potatoes are tender. Do not drain; mash slightly. Stir in milk.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, blend the butter, flour, parsley and pepper; stir into the potato mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Remove from the heat; add cheese and stir until almost melted.

Serves: 6
Yields: 1 1/2 quarts
Prep Time: 10 m
Cook Time: 20 m
Total Time: 30 m

So, the overall consensus: YUM! Nate & I both loved this, and definitely want to make it again! Next time, maybe a bit more parsley, but no major changes.

*Sorry, this is an older recipe, no picture!*

Comments are love!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Creamy Hash Brown Potatoes

So, funny story. I recently tried going to meal-planning/grocery buying every two weeks, instead of every week. Of course I forgot a few things and still made multiple trips to Meijer, but that's not the point here. The problem is that my stack of recipes for the week was quite a bit higher than usual. So, when I see a recipe on the floor in the kitchen, I assume it's from that stack, not the stack of all my recipes.
Silly me, I shouldn't have made that assumption. Turns out, it was a recipe I had looked at but decided against, as there was another similar recipe that looked better--which I had bought the whipping cream for. Now, to find a use for that whipping cream before it expires...
Thus (isn't that such an amazing word?), when I placed the hash brown recipe on the table for Nate to make, I didn't look too closely at it. And... this was part of our dinner!

*It tastes better than that. Promise. It just looks funny. :) *

Creamy Hash Brown Potatoes
32 Ounce frozen hashbrown potatoes
10.75 Ounce condensed cream of potato soup, undiluted
2 Cup shredded colby-jack cheese
1/4 Teaspoon pepper
dash salt
8 Ounce cream cheese

Place all ingredients except cream cheese in a greased 3-qt slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 3 1/2-4 hours or until potatoes are tender. Stir in cream cheese, set on low. Heat until cream cheese is melted.

Serves: 6
Calories: 169

It's really not the taste I was going for, but it works. I would say that it needs something to make it smoother-milk, etc. It had a very strong cream-cheese flavor. Other than that, we both liked it. (Definitely went well with venison steaks!!)

The recipe was easy to cut in half.

You know the drill--comments are love.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Kielbasa & Broccoli Linguine

When I first starting cooking by myself, I followed recipes precisely. It said to add 3/4 cup, I added 3/4 cup-evened with a knife, if needed. The recipe called for corn, I added corn. Cook for 35-40 minutes? If it involved meat, it would be 40 just to make sure it was done--but not a minute more!
Now that I've cooked (quite) a bit more... let's just say that I play with my recipes a lot. :)

Kielbasa & Broccoli Linguine
(original from Cooking for Two, but adapted)

4 Ounce uncooked linguine
1 Cup broccoli
1 Cup corn
1 small carrot, chopped
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1/4 Teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 Teaspoon salt
1/8 Teaspoon pepper
3/4 Cup milk
3/4 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 Cup kielbasa, cut into 1/4" pieces

In a large saucepan, cook linguine according to package directions, adding the broccoli, corn, and carrot during the last 7 minutes of cooking.
Meanwhile, in another saucepan, melt butter. Stir in the flower, thyme, salt, and pepper until well blended; gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheese.
Drain linguine and vegetables; transfer to a serving bowl. Add kielbasa and sauce mixture; toss to coat.

Serves: 6
Cook Time: 30 m
Total Time: 30 m

Calories: 291

This is another basic meat & pasta recipe. The original called for ham, & different veggies. Well, I wanted kielbasa, and I don't like cauliflower. So... this is what I made! It turned out pretty well; the sauce was delicious. Both Nate & I loved it, and I definitely plan on making this again!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hash Brown Sausage Bake

I love breakfast foods. One of my favorite things it to have 'breakfast for dinner'--something we had growing up a few times. I'm sure Mama did it as an easy meal, but I LOVED having french toast, bacon, eggs, etc. for dinner. Amazing.

Unfortunately, Nate's not as fond of that. (Crazy boy.) With my recent hypoglycemic diagnosis, I am trying to actually eat breakfast (not that I wasn't before. cough.), so I am getting in 'real' breakfasts most days now. But, I still crave that breakfast-at-dinnertime occasionally. This is one of the recent recipes I've tried, which fit the bill. :)

Hash Brown Sausage Bake

20 Ounce frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
1/3 Cup butter, melted
1 beef bouillon
1 Pound pork sausage
1/3 Cup chopped onion
1 Cup cottage cheese
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 Slice American cheese, chopped

In a large bowl, combine the hash browns, butter, and bouillon. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a greased 10" pie plate. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook sausage and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. In a large bowl, combine the sausage mixture, cottage cheese, eggs, and American cheese.
Pour into crust. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting.

Serves: 8
Serving Size: 1 slice
Yields: 8 slices
Prep Time: 15 m
Cook Time: 1 h 15 m
Total Time: 1 1/2 h

Calories: 291
(So, I probably shouldn't have had my red-striped potholder in the picture. Oh well.)

Opinions: Nate liked it better than the other hashbrown-for-crust recipes I've tried. Quite a bit more, actually. I also think that the inside wasn't ALL egg was a bit selling point for him, too. I liked it--it's not very healthy, but it is yummy.
I will admit, I was nervous about the cottage cheese. (Another 'yuk' from childhood.) The texture/look has always been horribly off-setting for me, but I wouldn't have even known it was here if I didn't make this myself. :)

So... make again? Yes! Nate says not often, but definitely a repeat.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chicken Rice Dish

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I never liked rice growing up. I can't remember ever trying it, but I was POSITIVE I hated the stuff. However, I'm finding now that I'm all grown up and actually listen to my mama (not that I didn't listen to you before Mom!!), I like rice. I like it quite a bit, actually. Put some rice, chicken, whatever veggies sound good at the time, and a few seasonings in a dish, and I am a happy camper.

The basis for this recipe came from TOH, but I definitely played with it already. And of course, it's very versatile. Want peas & carrots instead of asparagus & carrots? Just change it! I think the last time we made this, it was actually broccoli & carrots. Whatever you like!

Chicken Rice Dish

6 Ounce rice
2 Cup asparagus, trimmed and cut
2 Tablespoon butter
3/4 Pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 Clove garlic
1/4 Teaspoon salt
1 Medium carrot, cut into 2" chunks
2 Tablespoon lemon juice

Cook rice and asparagus/carrot separately.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the chicken, garlic, and salt in butter until chicken juices run clear. Add the lemon juice. Combine rice, vegetable, and chicken mixtures.

Serves: 4
Serving Size: 1 1/4 cup

Calories: 247
Cholesterol: 54 mg
Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Protein: 20 g
Carbohydrates: 29 g
Sodium: 668 mg
Fiber: 2 g

So, opinions: Both Nate & I LOVE this recipe. I love the splash of lemon, but I think I want to add another seasoning too. Maybe rosemary?
Many plans to make it again. Maybe with kielbasa next time... who knows. ;)

*FYI, I am trying to get back in the habit of taking pictures of recipes too! As I post older recipes, I won't have them, but I will for the ones we have tried recently.*

As always, comments are love!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Purses For Sale

This July, I started posting some of my purses/bags/scarves on Etsy. This is something I had been considering doing for awhile, but was reluctant to spend the money to get it started. (Fabric, cost of posting on Etsy, etc.) However, with encouragement from a friend who was also in the process of starting her own business (Hello, Kiyona from Ahlanna's!), and encouragement/permission from my husband, I got started!
Now, I have quite a few purses available on my Etsy -- Beautiful Serenity! Go check it out for the items that are available for sale, here are some shots of my favorites!

Gotta love this button!

This is my purse! I LOVE the color combo!

I love scarves. Easy to knit, warmy, comfy...

Inside shot of the bags made special for the ladies of Ahlanna's.

Bag recently made for Mama.
Close-up of the fabric/the button... I love buttons. :)

I sew/craft for many reasons -- the biggest reason being that it's fun. I love matching and coordinating fabrics, playing with buttons and ribbon...and seeing the look on someone's face when you give them something special for them, something that they love, or that purse that they just have been eyeing!

Go check out the Etsy, and let me know what you think! If you have ideas, questions, suggestions... email me!

I also do special orders--if you are interested, just email me at!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cookie Dough Truffles -- aka Happy Birthday Mama!

So, my Mama's birthday is today. (Happy Birthday Mama!) And in case you either don't know her, missed the references in my previous posts, or both--she's basically amazing. Mama & Grandma were the ones who taught me to cook, and taught me to enjoy cooking--especially when it's for other people!

For Mama's birthday, I had to do something special. I'd seen this recipe, and couldn't resist trying it. With the plan that, if it failed, I would make her something else a week late. I never said it was a good plan. Anyways, they were successful!

Cookie Dough Truffles
The Village Cook

1/2 Cup softened butter
3/4 Cup light brown sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
14 Ounce sweetened condensed milk
2 1/4 Cup flour
1/2 Cup milk chocolate chips
12 Ounce milk chocolate chips
1/2 bar paraffin

In a mixer, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla, and sweetened condensed milk. Slowly add the flour. Hand-mix in the 1/2 cup chocolate chips.
Chill dough for 15 minutes or more, until easily forms into small balls. Place balls on wax paper on a cookie sheet, and place in the freezer for 1 hour or until hard enough to dip.
In a double boiler, melt 12 oz chocolate chips and paraffin. Dip the balls with a toothpick in the mixture, or using a spoon. Also may drizzle balls with the chocolate.
Store in the refrigerator.

Serves: 53
Serving Size: 1 truffle
Yields: 53 truffles

Calories: 92

I made some variations from the original recipe, and this is already adjusted for those variations. For the original, check out the website above! I stumbled across this, and will definitely be checking out that site for more amazing-ness!

If you don't have a double-boiler, I'm not sure how well this would work--I've never done paraffin wax in the microwave. However, if you don't have a double-boiler, you really should invest in one. Especially for things like buckeyes. Life is happier with buckeyes, and other things dipped in hardened chocolate. Grandma actually traded me buckeyes for some of these truffles. Mmmm... it's buckeye season...
Oh! Sorry. Truffle Recipe! So... the original called for shortening and not paraffin, but I prefer to have anything like this with paraffin. Not using it makes the coating too soft for me. But, that's personal preference!

So far, I've only heard positive things! We gave Mama hers on Friday at my little brother's football game (GO CATS!!), and she loved them! I think they are a bit too sweet, and won't make them very often. Nate's main comment was that I should use a little less paraffin wax next time; he thought they were a bit waxy.

Also, FYI-truffles that have only been drizzled on, not dipped, will stick to the container/each other.

So - the ultimate question: would I make these again? Most definitely! However, only when I am able to give most of them away! Too sweet for girls with blood sugar problems. :)

As always, comments are love. (And bribery, for those wanting truffles this holiday season! hehe!)

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I am a terrible journal-keeper. Atrocious, really. I have the tendency to write regularly for awhile, then forget or get too busy to write for a few months. (Or more.)
Clearly, I have transferred that habit to my blogging. However, I am going to make a point to do better! Especially when considering that not blogging means that I am not recording any of my recipes in Recipe Manager, which means that I am likely losing some of my recipes. TRAGIC!

So, here I am, back at it.

Tortellini With Mushroom-Wine Sauce

2 Cup chopped mushrooms
14.5 Ounce diced tomatoes
1/4 Cup water
2 1/2 Tablespoon beef broth or dry red wine
2 Clove garlic
1/4 Teaspoon salt
Dash dried rosemary
Dash crushed red pepper
4.5 Ounce frozen tortellini

In a small slow-cooker (approx 2 quart), combine mushrooms, undrained tomatoes, water, red wine/beef broth, garlic, salt, rosemary, and crushed red pepper.
Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 4-6 hours or on high-heat setting for 2-3 hours.
If using low-heat setting, turn slow cooker to high-heat setting. Stir tortellini into sauce. Cover, cook for 30-45 minutes more.

The original recipe called for refrigerated ravioli. I had frozen tortellini that needed to be used, so I substituted. :-D If you would like to used refrigerated ravioli/tortellini, only cook for 20 minutes after adding.

Serves: 4
Prep Time: 15 m
Cook Time (if on low setting, with frozen tortellini): 6 h 45 m
Total Time: 7 h

Nate's opinion: Good, wouldn't mind having it fairly often.
Serena's opinion: Nathan gets the leftovers.
As in, I barely tolerated the first serving I had, made Nate eat all the leftovers for lunch, and will very happily make myself something different the next time I make this for him. I am not a fan of tomatoes, but I thought this was worth a shot anyways. Needless to say, the tomatoes were too much. And I thought the tortellini was horribly dry, but I don't think I liked this kind previously anyways.

So... will I make it again? Yes, but I will cut it down smaller, and make something else for myself! Making two separate dinners might sound time-consuming, but it isn't too bad when one is a crock-pot dinner. I do the same thing when I make Nate chili. And yes, I fully acknowledge that I am a horribly picky eater. I am trying to work on it! I keep trying things with tomatoes, but I just can't seem to get over it. However, I refuse to not make something that Nathan really enjoys because I don't like it! I'm picky, not selfish. hehe!

As always, comments are love!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

S'mores Bars

We tried this recipe tonight, because it's been AGES since I've tried a new dessert. This was a perfect try!! We both loved it.
I personally thought it was a little too sweet, but good nonetheless. I won't make it again when it's just us--I couldn't have more than one or two pieces. But for company/dinner out? Definitely.

In fact, invite us for dinner, & I'll make this for you. :)

S'mores Bars

8-10 whole graham crackers
1 Package fudge brownie mix
4 Cup marshmallows
1 Cup semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 Cup chopped peanuts

Instructions: Arrange graham crackers in a single layer on in a greased 13x9x2 baking pan. Prepare the brownie batter according to the package directions. Spread over crackers.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes clean. Sprinkle with marshmallows, chocolate chips, and peanuts. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until marshmallows are slightly puffed and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack before cutting.

Sorry for the lack of pictures... can't find my camera cord.

Also- I did not use the peanuts, and I cut the recipe in half. Easy enough, just cooked in an 8x8 pan.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Very Veggie Skillet Casserole...

...AKA "Serena Learning to Like Rice"

Growing up, I never liked rice. Don't know why... can't even recall trying eat at home. However, this is one of those things that I WANT to like. So, I've tried it more. Different ways, different seasonings... and this is the baseline for what I am learning to love. :)

In fact, just the other day, we tried something very similar. A Rice Side, mixed with chicken, mushrooms, carrots, some other veggies... yum yum!

Very Veggie Skillet Casserole

3/4 Pound ground turkey
2 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 Cup chopped onion
2 Clove garlic, minced
1/2 Cup finely chopped yellow summer squash
1/2 Cup finely chopped tomato
1/2 Cup sliced celery
1/2 Cup sliced carrot
1 Cup instant brown rice
1 1/2 Cup water
1 chicken bouillon cube

Cook turkey in large, deep nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, or breaking up meat with back of spoon, 8-10 minutes, or until no longer pink. Transfer turkey to medium bowl with slotted spoon.

Warm oil in same skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add squash, tomato, celery, and carrot. Cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are crisp-tender.

Return turkey and any juices to pan. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and stir to combine. Add rice, water, and bouillon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook about 15 minutes, or until rice is tender.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sausage Cheese Balls

Have I mentioned my feelings for Bisquick before? I like it because it's easy... I dislike it because everything you put it in tastes like Bisquick.

These are tolerable, but I would DEFINITELY use a substitute for the baking mix. (To be fair, the recipe called for baking mix... which basically means Bisquick.

Definitely something I would love to try again, but need to substitute the Bisquick.

Sausage Cheese Balls
(Jimmy Dean)

2 Pound pork sausage
1 1/2 Cup Bisquick
4 Cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 Cup finely chopped onion
1/2 Cup finely chopped celery
2 Teaspoon black pepper
2 Teaspoon minced garlic

Preheat oven to 375. Combine all ingredient in a large mixing bowl; stir well. Form into 1" balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet; bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven; cool 5 minutes before removing from pan. Serve with cocktail forks or toothpick.

Yields: 6-9 dozen

Monday, May 10, 2010

Deluxe Pizza Goulash

I have never been a goulash fan. (Ask my Mama. Or not, she thinks I'm too picky anyways; let's not bring it up.) But I like to try new things, and this has 'pizza' in it, so hey, why?
Umm... it was more Goulash than Pizza.
Maybe you should try it. If you like goulash. :)

Deluxe Pizza Goulash
(Betty Crocker)

2 Cup uncooked elbow macaroni
1/2 Pound ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
3.5 Ounce sliced pepperoni
4.5 Ounce sliced mushrooms, drained
30 Ounce pizza sauce
1 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook and drain macaroni as directed on package.
Meanwhile, in a 12" skillet, cook beef & onion over medium-high heat 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in macaroni, pepperoni, mushrooms and pizza sauce.
Cover and cook over medium heat 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until hot. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and let stand 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serves: 6
Serving Size: 1 1/3 cup
Prep Time: 40
Total Time: 40

Calories: 450
Cholesterol: 45 mg
Fat: 21 g
Saturated Fat: 8 g
Calories From Fat: 190
Protein: 22 g
Carbohydrates: 43 g
Sodium: 1160 mg
Fiber: 5 g

As always, sorry for the lack of pictures.

Comments are love.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ranch Pizza Pinwheels

We tried these awhile ago... they were OK. Neither Nate & I are fans of salad dressing, and the ranch taste was a little much. Overall, we liked the idea. Maybe try it without the ranch, and using pizza sauce instead? We've had something similar, but I would be willing to play with this recipe! I will definitely post if I try something else.
They were NOT good re-heated!

Ranch Pizza Pinwheels

13.8 Ounce refrigerated pizza crust
1/4 Cup prepared ranch salad dressing
1/2 Cup shredded colby-jack cheese
1/2 Cup diced pepperoni
1/4 Cup chopped green onions
Pizza sauce, warmed OR additional ranch salad dressing, optional

On a lightly floured surface, roll pizza dough into a 12x10" rectangle. Spread ranch dressing evenly to within 1/4" of edges. Sprinkle with cheese, pepperoni and onions. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side.
Cut into 1" slices. Place cut side down on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 425 for 10-13 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm with pizza sauce or additional ranch dressing if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.

Serves: 12

Sorry for no picture!

As always---comments are love!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Chicken Rice Bowl

This is something we made ages ago... Nathan actually cooked this one. ;) It turned out very yummy.

Chicken Rice Bowl

1 Cup uncooked instant rice
1 Cup chicken broth
1/2 Cup chopped frozen green pepper, thawed
1/4 Cup chopped onion
2 Teaspoon olive oil
9 Ounce chicken
1/2 Cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 Cup frozen peas, thawed
1 Teaspoon dried basil
1 Teaspoon rubbed sage
1/8 Teaspoon salt
1/8 Teaspoon pepper

Cook rice in broth according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the green pepper and onion in oil for 2-3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Stir in the chicken corn, peas, basil, and sage. Cook, uncovered, for 4-5 minutes over medium heat or until heated through. Stir in the rice, salt, and pepper.

Serves: 4

Sorry, no pictures.

As usual, comments are love.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee Cake

Nathan really likes coffee cake, and I am in the search for a great coffee cake recipe for him. This was the first one I tried... and it was not a success. I'm thinking that it was the baking powder we could taste, which definitely is not cool.
I won't be trying this one again. I would kinda like to fiddle with the recipe, but I don't like messing with the amount of baking powder/baking soda in recipes, for fear of destroying the recipe. :)

Sunday Morning Coffee Cake

2 Tablespoon butter, softened
1/2 Cup sugar
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 egg
2/3 Cup milk
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 Cup all purpose flour
3 Teaspoon baking powder
1/4 Cup sugar
2 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 Cup cold butter

In a small bowl, beat butter, sugar, and salt until crumbly. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla; mix well. Combine flour and baking powder, add to butter mixture. Transfer to a greased 8x8 baking dish.
For topping, in a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and cinnamon; cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over batter.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cook on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm if desired.

Serves: 9

As always... comments are love. :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easy Stuffed Shells

I found this recipe, and thought it would be great to use up the stuffed shells/meatballs I had from other recipes. It was an instant hit with Nate!! I cut the recipe to 1/4 of it's original size (posted is the original), and used tomato sauce with Italian seasoning vs using spaghetti sauce, but it was great.
My only complaint was that I don't like those frozen meatballs--and will probably make my own from scratch next time.

Easy Stuffed Shells

12 Ounce jumbo pasta shells
26 Ounce tomato sauce
Italian seasoning
36 frozen cooked italian meatballs
2 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water. Cook meatballs according to package directions.
Mix desired amount of Italian seasoning with sauce.
Place 1/2 cup sauce in a greased 13x9 baking dish. Place a meatball in each shell; transferred to prepared dish. Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with cheese.
Cover and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted.

Serving Size: 1 shell
Yields: 12 servings

As always... comments are love!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Back again-with Cheesy Ham & Potato Casserole!

This time, my 'disappearance' from blogging was for legitimate reasons, I promise! Nate & I recently moved, and this time it was a lot harder than the move from one apartment to another! We are now renting a cottage, and when we moved some of our things in, we also had to move some of their things (dishes etc) out to storage. Not fun. And, I am super particular about how things should be packed.

Not that it was that beneficial--two of my Great-Grandma's fine china dishes still broke. :( Which was pretty devastating, but I have no one to blame but myself. Which is precisely why I insisted that I be the one to pack those---no being mad at Nate!

We are (essentially) moved in now, just finishing up the organizing/cleaning, so hopefully I will have some more time now to type up the recipes I've been hoarding and get them on here!

And I will apologize now for all the recipes without pictures... the camera was MIA off & on during all of this!

Cheesy Ham & Potato Casserole
(Home Cooking)

24 Ounce package golden round potatoes or hash browns
21.5 Ounce cream of mushroom soup
2 Cup diced cooked ham
1 1/2 Cup milk
2 Tablespoon butter
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon chopped onion
8 Ounce cheddar cheese, shredded

Place potatoes, mushroom soup, ham, milk, butter, salt, and onion in slow cooker and turn on low. Cook for 4 hours. Before serving, add cheese until melted.

Serves: 6-8
Prep Time: 5 m
Cook Time: 4 h
Total Time: 4 h 5 m

This turned out very soupy, which may have had something to do with the fact that I used frozen hashbrowns. I would not recommend that--at least thaw them before using!
Nate isn't fond of the ham/cheddar taste, so I probably wouldn't make this again. Otherwise, if it weren't for the soupy-ness, I would say this has quite a bit of potential.

As always... comments are love!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Savory Cheese Soup

After someone recommended cheese soup & cheesy biscuits as a good meal (I can't remember who), I had been wanting to try a cheese soup! I found this recipe, and thought it sounded great. Aside from the cream cheese not melting well which may have been due to lack of patience), I thought it turned out pretty good.
Turns out, Nathan doesn't like cheese soups.

Oh well... a lesson learned. I won't be making this again, but maybe one of you can enjoy it! :)

Savory Cheese Soup

43.5 Ounce chicken broth
1 small onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1/4 Cup chopped sweet red pepper
2 Tablespoon butter
1 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon pepper
1/3 Cup all purpose flour
1/3 Cup cold water
8 Ounce cream cheese, cubed and softened
2 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
croutons, popcorn, cooked crumbled bacon, sliced green onion etc.

In a slow cooker, combine the first eight ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours. Combine flour and water until smooth; stir into soup. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes longer or until soup is thickened.
Stir in cream cheese and cheddar cheese until blended. Cover and cook on low until heated through. Serve with desired toppings.

Yields: 6-8
Prep Time: 15 m
Cook Time: 8.5 h
Total Time: 8 h 45 m

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bob's Crab Cakes

I love crab, so when I came across a recipe for crab cakes that basically boasted it was perfect, I had to try it.

Well, it might've been perfect, but the stupid things wouldn't hold together, so I'll never know.

(There is no picture intentionally. I basically made 'Bob's Crab Stir Fry' by the time it was done. It wasn't pretty.)

If you try this, let me know how it turns out. Maybe I'm just an idiot who couldn't do it right. :)

Bob's Crab Cakes

2 slices day old bread, cut into 1/4" cubes
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
2 Teaspoon worchestershire sauce
1/2 Teaspoon pepper
18 Ounce crabmeat, chopped finely
2 Tablespoon canola oil

In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients; mix well. Add crab; mix gently. Form mixture into eight balls; flatten slightly. In a large nonstick skillet, cook the crab cakes in oil for 4-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Yields: 8 crab cakes
Prep Time: 15 m
Cook Time: 5 m
Total Time: 20 m

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Golden Garlic Bread

This was an AMAZING find. This garlic bread is clog-your-arteries-as-you-eat-it good. (Which means that I REALLY need to find ways to make this healthier!)
The only downside (aside from clogging your arteries) is that it has entirely too much butter. It made it have a greasy taste to it. I'll cut down on the butter (maybe 1/2 cup?) for next time, but I will definitely make this again.

(Also, I cut the recipe in half when I made it... one loaf of garlic bread is too much for two of us! We ate some with dinner, and reheated the rest another time. It reheats surprisingly well, if you just broil it for a couple more minutes again!)
Golden Garlic Bread

3/4 Cup butter, softened
1/2 Cup mayonnaise
3 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 Cup grated parmesan
1/2 Cup onion, chopped
1 Teaspoon italian bread
1-2 Clove garlic, minced
1 Loaf french bread, cut in half lengthwise

In a small mixing bowl, beat butter and mayonnaise until blended. Stir in the cheeses, onions, Italian seasoning, and garlic. Spread over cut sides of bread. Place on an ungreased baking sheet.
Broil 4-6” from heat for 3-5 minutes or until topping is lightly browned and bubbly. Cut into 2” slices.

Yields: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 15
Cook Time: 5
Total Time: 20 m

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Savory Parmesan Bites

Has anyone ever noticed the Meijer 'mealbox' or the recipe cards in the Meijer stores? I've glanced at them before, but never paid too much attention to them. I'm not fond of the Meijer website, and the cards never really catch my attention. This one did, though. We were grocery shopping, and I saw this. I thought it would be worth a try--we had everything but the crescents, and the pepper was probably going to go to waste if I didn't use it here. So, we tried it!
Unfortunately, I was not very fond of these. Nate enjoyed them, but most of them went to waste. I think part of it was that crescents are going lower and lower on the list of my favorite 'bread' type things... but I can't properly explain why. Oh well! I may try this recipe with something else bread-like... and maybe do a small substitution for the cream cheese? We'll see!

Savory Parmesan Bites

4 Ounce cream cheese, softened
1/2 Cup grated parmesan
4 Ounce refrigerated crescent rolls
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

Heat oven to 350.
Beat cream cheese and 1/3 cup parmesan with mixer until well blended.
Separate dough into 4 rectangles; seal seams. Spread with cream cheese mixture; top with peppers and parsley. Fold each rectangle lengthwise into thirds to enclose filling; cut into 4 squares. Place seam side down, on baking sheet; top with remaining parmesan.
Bake 13-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Yields: 16 'bites'
Prep Time: 15 m
Cook Time: 15 m
Total Time: 30 m

Monday, March 1, 2010

Broccoli Stuffed Shells

I don't know where I found this recipe... it was something I found when looking through the recipe books at Mama's.
I love the idea of stuffed shells, but I haven't liked any of the stuffed shells recipes we've tried. This one was OK, it just had too much spaghetti sauce. If I changed that, and maybe added more seasonings, it would have the potential to be pretty good.
Until you re-heat it.
Now remember, my mother taught me well--I HATE wasting food. Hate it. But this was one of those meals that, when re-heated, Nate & I looked at each other and suggested that we get that frozen pizza out of the freezer. It was GROSS.
So... overall rating? Not very impressed.

Broccoli Stuffed Shells

12 jumbo pasta shells
14 Ounce spaghetti sauce
1/2 Tablespoon Margarine
1/2 Pound ricotta cheese
1/2 Cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1/2 egg
5 Ounce chopped broccoli
1/4 Cup shredded parmesan
1/2 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.
Heat sauce, pour enough to cover the bottom of a 9x9 pan. Mix margarine, ricotta, egg, broccoli, and 1/2 of the cheeses. Stuff shells, arrange in pan over sauce. Add rest of sauce and sprinkle with rest of cheese. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Serves: 4
Serving Size: 3 shells
Prep Time: 20 m
Cook Time: 40 m
Total Time: 1 hr

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Warm Savory Cheese Spread

This was another mildly failed attempt at cooking. It was OK, but not something I could have more than a few bites of.
I am not a fan of mayo, so that may have had something to do with it. Maybe we will try it again, when there are more people to taste test? See if anyone else enjoys it more? It had an interesting taste....
We'll see.

(Note: I used my hearty whole wheat bread recipe for this!)

Warm Savory Cheese Spread (TOH)

2 Cup mayonnaise
2 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 Large onion, finely chopped
8 bacon strips, crumbled
1/2 Cup finely chopped sweet red pepper
1/2 Cup finely chopped green pepper
1 Teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 Teaspoon garlic powder
1 round loaf (1 pound) bread

In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. Cut the top fourth off the load of bread; carefully hollow out bottom, leaving a 1" shell. Spoon cheese mixture into bread shell.
Wrap in a piece of heavy-duty foil. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until heated through. Serve with crackers.

Serving Size: 4 cups
Prep Time: 15 m
Cook Time: 1 hr
Total Time: 1 hr 15 m

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chicken & Noodles Skillet

So, you may be wondering why it's been almost a month since I posted last.
I haven't disappeared from the face of the earth.
I haven't stopped cooking.
I just have been accumulating the pile of 'recipes to post' rather than actually posting any recipes.
On the plus side, I should have enough for quite a few posts, without having to cook anything new. :)

This is something I made a little while ago, from some chicken we cooked in the crock pot. You can mix & match with veggies... and make it very interesting!

Chicken & Noodles Skillet
(Betty Crocker)

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 Pound chicken breasts, chopped
1 Medium onion, chopped
2 Cup veggies
1 Cup uncooked egg noddles
14 Ounce chicken broth
10.75 Ounce condensed cream of chicken soup

Instructions: In a 12" nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Cook chicken and onion in oil for 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until browned and onion is just tender.
Stir in remaining ingredients except parsley. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer 5-8 minutes longer, stirring occassionally, until chicken is no longer pink in center and noodles are tender. Sprinkle with parsley.

Serves: 4
Serving Size: 1 1/4 cup
Prep Time: 40
Cook Time: 40
Total Time: 40

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Kielbasa Bow Tie Skillet

Nate loves kielbasa, so I was searching for recipes to try with it--eating it all as snacks just seemed a little too bad. :) I found this recipe at TOH, and it was a clear winner! We'll tweak the recipe over time, and try different veggies (I don't remember what we tried the first time, and I can't seem to find a picture), but it is definitely worth trying again!

Kielbasa Bow Tie Skillet

8 Ounce uncooked bow tie pasta
1 Pound kielbasa, cut into 1/4" pieces
1/2 Cup mushrooms, sliced or chopped
2 Teaspoon minced garlic
2 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 Cup milk
1 1/2 Cup snow peas
1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the sausage, mushrooms, and garlic in butter.
Combine cornstarch and milk until smooth; gradually add to the skillet. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Drain pasta; add to the sausage mixture. Stir in peas and cheese; cook until cheese is melted.

Serves: 4

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Slow Cooker Potato Soup

I don't remember where I got this recipe, but I probably wouldn't try it again. I've tried a couple different potato soups, and this was the least satisfying. It was not thick enough, and had very little flavor. The Italian seasoning is something we added as we were eating, to try to get it to taste better.

We had this when my little brother was visiting for the weekend... his comment? "Why don't you just use Mom's recipe? Her'ss is amazing." reply is that I probably will next time. Maybe this is what I get for trying to perfect something that's already perfect. :)
(We had this with the cheesy onion breadsticks! At least THOSE turned out great!)

On another topic, does anyone else always want to spell 'potato' with an 'e' at the end? It's probably because plural is 'potatoes', but I have to erase the 'e' every darn time I spell that word singular... oh well. :)

Slow Cooker Potato Soup

3 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 Large onion
1 carrot, cut into 2" chunks
1 Stalk celery, cut into 2" pieces
1 Tablespoon Parsley
5 Cup water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 Tablespoon salt
pepper, to taste
Italian seasoning
1 1/2 Cup milk

Place all ingredients but milk in a slow cooker. Cook on low 10 to 12 hours or on high 3 to 4 hours. During the last hour of cooking, add milk.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Cheesy Onion Breadsticks

This is something I made with potato soup when my little brother was visiting over the weekend. The soup was slightly disappointing (recipe to follow), but this turned out AMAZING. Very quick, and Nate rated this almost as good as my Cheddar Biscuits. And those only rate behind cheesecake and his herbed wheat muffins! (I'm making the muffins soon... recipe to follow!)

The recipe calls for onion, but I made it without, and it turned out just great. I think I will try it with onion at some point, however.

Cheesy Onion Breadsticks
(Cooking for Two)

1/2 Cup Bisquick
2 Tablespoon milk
1/4 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 green onion, finely chopped
1/8 Teaspoon garlic powder
2 Teaspoon butter, melted

In a small bowl, combine the bisquick, milk, cheese, onion, and garlic powder. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead 8-10 times. Roll into a 4x6 rectangle. Cut lengthwise into four strips. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with butter.

Serves: 4
Serving Size: 1 breadstick
Prep Time: 5
Cook Time: 15
Total Time: 20

Mmm.... yummy meal!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chicken a la King

This was one more recipe where I used chicken from the whole chicken we cooked! This was surprisingly easy, and surprisingly amazing. I was expecting the green pepper to be a little overwhelming, but it wasn't. Nate was very pleased with this one, also-- definitely something I would make again!

Chicken a la King

1/2 Cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 Cup chopped green pepper
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1 Cup chicken broth
1/2 Cup milk
Dash salt
Dash pepper
1 1/2 Cup cubed cooked chicken
2 slices bread

In a small saucepan, saute mushrooms and green pepper in butter for 3-4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Stir in the flour, broth, milk, salt, and pepper until blended. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 1-2 minutes or until thickened.
Add the chicken, heat through. Serve with toast.

Note: The original recipe called for turkey vs chicken, and called for 2 t diced pimientos, added with the chicken. We had chicken, so I used that, and for the life of me, I can't EVER find pimientos in the store, so I just never add that.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Stuffed Breadsticks

These things are AMAZING. I got this from Kate at Cooking During Stolen Moments.... she has some amazing recipes.
The only fault I have with this recipe is that we didn't like how they re-heated. Oh well, they were still great!

Stuffed Breadsticks
(Cooking During Stolen Moments)

1 Teaspoon yeast
1 Teaspoon sugar
3/4 Cup warm water
1/4 Cup olive oil
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon Italian seasoning
2-3 Cup flour
8 string cheese sticks, cut in half
32 Slice Pepperoni
2 Tablespoon butter, melted
2 Teaspoon Parmesan
1/2 Teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 Teaspoon Italian seasoning

Let yeast and sugar dissolve in warm water in a large mixing bowl for about 5 minutes. Add olive oil, salt, and Italian seasoning. Slowly add the flour until completely combined and dough is no longer sticky. Knead for 5 minutes, place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour.
On a floured surface, roll dough into a rectangle. Cut into 16 squares. At the edge of each square, place one piece of string cheese and 2 pieces of pepperoni. Roll up and tuck in sides. Place on baking sheet.
Brush melted butter over each breadstick. Combine topping ingredients in a small bowl, and sprinkle on top. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Serves: 8
Serving Size: 2 breadsticks
Yields: 16

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chicken Soup with Dumplings

This was something else we made from the chicken we cooked the other day. Most of the measurements here are approximate, because I was just kinda throwing things together. :) The dumplings are Grandma's recipe... this is 1/2 the dumpling recipe. I actually used a full recipe when I made this, but it thickened everything. I definitely would only use 1/2 next time.

It turned out pretty good... I was quite proud of myself. :)

Chicken Soup with Dumplings
(Me, Grandma Mickey)

3 Cup chicken stock
4 1/2 Cup water
1 Small onion, chopped
3 carrots, sliced
2 Stalk celery, sliced
2 Medium potato, peeled & cut into 2" pieces
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 Pound chicken, cooked, cut into small pieces
1/2 Cup flour
1/2 Tablespoon baking soda
1/4 Teaspoon salt
1/2 egg
1/2-3/4 Cup milk

Put stock, boullion cubes, water, and onion in large pot; bring to a boil. Add vegetables and chicken, cook 5-10 minutes or until veggies are tender.
In a small bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add egg and milk. Drop by teaspoonfuls into soup, simmer for another 10 minutes.

(Yes, that is the homemade french bread next to the soup. Amazing.)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Fettuccine Alfredo with Broccoli

We had this Friday night when Kyle was visiting... the guys both like it, but I was pretty disappointed. There isn't much flavor to this. I am going to try adding pea pods, and other seasonings next time. Maybe oregano? We'll see... whatever I'm in the mood for. :)

Fettuccine Alfredo with Broccoli
(Can't remember where I got this one...)

1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1 1/2 Cup milk
3/4 Cup Parmesan
1 Tablespoon butter
6 Ounce fettuccine
4 Cup broccoli
1/4 Teaspoon salt
1/8 Teaspoon pepper

Whisk flour, salt, pepper, and 1/4 c milk in a medium saucepan. Whisk in remaining milk. Bring to a slow simmer, stirring, over medium heat.
Stir in cheese and butter, stirring until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep sauce warm.
Prepare pasta according to package directions. Add broccoli to pasta water during last 5-7 minutes of cooking.
Drain pasta and broccoli. Transfer to a large serving bowl and toss well with cheese sauce and parsley.

Serves: 4

Also: I've updated the chili recipe, with the pictures!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Zippy Slow Cooked Chili

Update: Yay, we now have pictures!

First of all, I want to apologize for the lack of a picture. I have an amazing new camera, and I totally forgot to take a picture of this!

Granted, I probably forgot because I didn't actually eat this... as Nate was eating this, I was eating a sloppy joe. Why, you ask? Well, that would be because I don't like chili. At all. (I know, I know, every family member who reads this is ready to disown me. Don't disown me just yet, please.)

But, I decided that I would be a good wife, and sacrifice for my husband. My house smells like chili. (That was the sacrifice part.) I got this ready before I went to work in the morning, and had it all ready when my husband got home from school. (See? Good wife.)

Family members still waiting to hear why they shouldn't disown me? Well... apparently I make really freakin' good chili. That's why. :) (And because you love me. Admit it.)

Nate said that he's had many chilis much worse than mine, and very few better. Which, for someone making chili for the first time who doesn't like chili, I would say that's pretty impressive.

(Picture will follow.... I'll update later, when we get a picture.)

Zippy Slow-Cooked Chili
(Taste of Home)

1 Pound ground beef
28 Ounce diced tomatoes, undrained
1 Medium onion, chopped
1 Medium green pepper, chopped
15 Ounce vegetarian chili
8 Ounce tomato sauce
2 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon Parsley
1 Tablespoon dried basil
2 Teaspoon ground cumin
4 Clove garlic, minced
1 Teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 Teaspoon pepper
1/8 Teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 Tablespoon minced chives
shredded cheddar cheese

In a nonstick skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Transfer to a 3 qt slow cooker. Add everything but the cheese.
Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Sprinkle with cheese before serving.

Serves: 6

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Homestyle Chicken & Biscuits

This is the first thing we made with our chicken from the other day! Very yummy! Obviously, this is just a general casserole-type recipe, but I was craving a casserole-type thing. :) I haven't made anything like this in awhile, and it sounds like a great way to use our chicken.

It turned out great... I would definitely experiment more with the spices, though.

Homestyle Chicken & Biscuits

10.75 Ounce cream of chicken soup (reduced fat & reduced sodium)
1/4 Cup milk
3/4 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 Teaspoon ground black pepper
Dash cayenne pepper
16 Ounce frozen veggies, thawed
1 Cup chicken, cooked
1 Package Refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

Heat the oven to 400. Stir the soup, milk, cheese, and peppers in a 3-qt shallow baking dish. Stir in the veggies and chicken.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the chicken mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the chicken mixture. Top the chicken mixture with the biscuits.
Bake for 12 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown.

Serves: 4
Prep Time: 5
Cook Time: 27
Total Time: 35

Saturday, January 9, 2010

French Bread

...AKA "I wish I could make bread look pretty."

I love to make bread. It just never turns out pretty.

Take this french bread, for example. Tastes? AMAZING. Looks? Like a 4-year-old made it. Possibly a blind four year old. With his feet.

Oh well, at least it tastes good.

French Bread
(Better Homes & Gardens)

5 1/2-6 Cup flour
4 1/2 Teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 Teaspoon salt
2 Cup warm water (120-130 degrees)
1 egg white
1 Tablespoon water

In a large mixing bowl, stir together 2 c flour, the yeast, and salt. Add the 2 c warm water to the flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (8-10 min). Shape dough into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease dough surface. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double in size (about 1 hour).
Punch dough down. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half. Cover; let rest 10 min. Meanwhile, lightly grease a baking sheet; sprinkle greased basksign sheet with cornmeal.
Roll each dough half into a 15x10 rectangle. Tightly roll up, starting from a long side; seal well. If desired, pinch and slightly pull ends to taper them. Place shaped dough, seam sides down, on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, stir together egg white and the 1 T water. Brush some of the egg white mixture over loaf tops. Let rise until nearly double in size (35-45 minutes).
Preheat oven to 375. Using a sharp knife, make 3-4 diagonal cuts about 1/4" deep across each loaf top. Bake for 20 minutes. Brush again with some of the egg white mixture. Continue baking for 15-20 minutes more or until bread sounds hollow when lightly tapped. Immediately remove loaves from baking sheet. Cool on wire rack.

Serves: 28
Serving Size: 1 slice
Yields: 2 loaves (28 slices)
Total Time: 3 hrs

I think my biggest problem this time was that the cuts were not deep enough... so it cracked. :(

Monday, January 4, 2010

I'm back! And cooking a WHOLE CHICKEN!

I didn't intend to take a break from blogging, but I am most definitely back from "vacation." Between illness, and not being home, I haven't had time to blog. I've barely even been cooking! We had all of our holidays away from home, so I haven't been in the kitchen much.
That is changing now. :)

I have never liked raw poultry. I can handle raw beef, raw venison, raw fish... just don't give me a raw bird. I find it disgusting. I don't like handling raw chicken breasts, so the thought of a whole raw chicken really bothered me, to say the least. Plus, it was just intimidating! So when I saw the Happy Housewife post this, I was pretty excited. Cook a chicken in a crock pot? I just rinse the chicken, dump it in, and walk away for hours? No oven or anything? Hmm... I can try that.
(Granted, I still have to handle the chicken, but this takes away a lot of the intimidation.)

So, we got a whole chicken (85 cents a pound? AWESOME), got a new bigger crockpot (thank you Mama for Christmas money), and tried it!

I put the chicken in at about 8 this morning, sprinkled some spices on it, took it out at about six when I got home, and it was beautiful. Cooked completely (which is a huge fear of mine with cooking meat)--in fact, so completely that it basically fell apart when I took it out of the crockpot.

And let's not forget the fact that my house smells great.

(Isn't my hubby so amazing? I didn't even ask him to help, he just walked in the kitchen as I was pulling the chicken out, helped me get it out, and started tossing bones and the skin back in the crockpot.)

We ate some of the meat right away (yes, it smelled that amazing), put some in a casserole (tomorrow's post!), gave a few bites to the puppy, and put the rest in the freezer.
(This is what it looked like right when I took it out... I had it in for so long, it was falling apart.)

I left all the juices in the crockpot, and added the bones when we de-boned it. Then I added 5 cups of water, and put it back on low. In the morning, I will have lovely chicken broth--ready for soup, and whatever other use later!
(Doesn't Remus look so happy to be cleaning the cutting board?? :) Then he sat and looked at me, practically asking for more. LOL. )