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!