Monday, August 31, 2009

Cheese Enchiladas & Rice

I am so far behind on my blog reading it isn't funny. I tried just now to read everything I want to read and got through most of it, but I want to leave comments too and I can't now because I need to start dinner (my husband just called and said he'd be home in about 35 minutes). My daughter stayed home from school today due to a cold, so hopefully I can catch up on my reading/commenting tomorrow while she is at school and the house is quiet.

So, dinner tonight is going to be Enchiladas and Knorr Fiesta Sides Mexican Rice. The recipe is my husbands and these are yummy and easy to make. Please click on the name to get the recipe that includes a cute husband quirk. :)

Happy eating!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Apple Streusel Cheesecake Bars

I did not post yesterday, but I made these absolutely delicious bars! Yum yum yum! I found the recipe over on One Step At A Time, who got it from My Tasty Treasures. Thanks gals for sharing this awesome recipe!


1 pkg. Betty Crocker oatmeal cookie mix
1/2 cup butter, cold, cut in cubes
2 - 8oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 can apple pie filling
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
Place cookie mix in a large bowl, cut in butter. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of mixture in the fridge; press remaining crumbs into bottom of baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, flour, vanilla and egg on medium speed until smooth. Spread over partially cooked crust.
In a medium bowl, mix apple pie filling and cinnamon. Spoon pie filling over cream cheese. Sprinkle pie filling with reserved cookie mixture, then sprinkle with walnuts.
Bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes on wire rack. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Cut into bars. Store in fridge.

I didn't want to get another bowl dirty so I did not mix the pie filling with the cinnamon. I spread the pie filling over the cream cheese mixture and then just sprinkled it with cinnamon. Also, I had pecan chips in the cabinet so I used those instead of walnuts.

Last night we got Subway subs for dinner. I had tuna with lettuce and tomato on wheat, and my daughter ate almost half of it - good thing I got the 12". :)

For tonight's dinner my husband has asked me to make Baked Potato Soup. It is bright and sunny here, but cold! The high today is only 66 degrees. Click on the soup name to get the recipe, as well as the humorous story of the first time I made it. Other people's kitchen mishaps are always good for a laugh!

Happy eating!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Frozen Pizza

It is Friday so we had pizza - a frozen Tombstone with extra cheese and I put pepperoni on half. We also had some mozzarella sticks for an app. Yum!

Today I got to go grocery shopping alone while my daughter was in school, which will be the norm from now on. I love my kid, but it was great! I was zipping around and got done much faster than when she is with me. Plus it was much earlier in the morning than when we would normally go so the stores were practically empty. JOY!

I am trying something new: to shop for two weeks worth of dinners instead of one. I don't know if this will work because my fridge is at maximum capacity, as is my small deep freeze in the basement. Anyway, here is the meal plan: Potato Pancakes & Sausage, Homemade Pepperoni Pan Pizzas, Cheesy Hamburger Hash, Enchiladas & Mexican Rice, Bobby Deen's Goulash, Cheeseburger Meatloaf, Omelets/Biscuits/Sausage, Dirty Rice, Baked Potato Soup, Soup & Grilled Cheese, Blackened Chicken Sandwiches, and Apple Streusel Cheesecake Bars.

Happy eating!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Creamy Spaghetti

The crock pot is already bubbling away with tonight's dinner which is Creamy Spaghetti. I posted this recipe once before and you can find it here. Today is a cold, rainy day so this warm meal will be perfect with some garlic bread and a garden salad. We really loved this dish last time and I am very much looking forward to dinner tonight!

Thanks to those of you who chimed in with comments on my last post. I agree with all of you and I will not be saying anything. I think the reason I didn't say anything right away is because it felt wrong - we all need to follow our gut instincts more, right?

My daughter was so cranky this morning, I think it was the weather. Plus she is not used to getting up early yet, and then she dilly-dallys and then I am rushing her to get out the door on time. It is not pleasant to say the least. I think we need to move her bedtime up a little and get her up a little earlier so she doesn't have to be rushed, and so she is still getting enough sleep. Any hints or tips any of you more experienced moms can send my way? I'd appreciate it!

Happy eating!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hot Dogs, Burgers, Grape Tomatoes On The Grill, & Fingerling Potatoes

Hi all! I am hoping that the rain is gone for today because I am going to grill tonight. I am doing hot dogs and burgers, plus grape tomatoes on skewers; my normal grilling meal. (I make my burgers with steak seasoning, steak sauce and Worcestershire sauce in them, the grape tomatoes get a coat of olive oil and are sprinkled with salt and pepper.)

I am also going to make fingerling potatoes, I got two recipes from the Food Network. One is from Ina Garten and calls for butter and dill, the other is from the Neelys and calls for olive oil and garlic - which should I choose? Maybe I'll let my hubbie decide. I have never had them before, have you? They were kinda pricey at $4.50 for 1.5 lbs. at Jewel, but I have to try them. "You can eat the thin, delicate skins and they have a more complex flavor than a regular potato" or so I read on the internet somewhere. I'll let you know! Anyway, here are the two recipes:

2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 1/4 lbs. fingerling potatoes, rinsed but not peeled
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot. Add the whole potatoes, salt and pepper, toss well. Cover the pot tightly and cook over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender when tested with a small knife. From time to time, shake the pot without removing the lid to prevent the bottom potatoes from burning. Turn off the heat and allow the potatoes to steam for another 5 minutes. Don't overcook. Toss with dill, serve hot.
1 1/2 lbs. fingerling potatoes
4 tbsp. olive oil
8 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a casserole dish, mix together all ingredients. Roast for 20 minutes.

Okay, now I have a moral dilemma that I would like your opinion on please. When we first toured our daughter's school with the principal he told us that due to state law the child must be 5 years old before Sept. 1st to enroll in kindergarten. Yesterday, while I was chatting with the other moms waiting to pick up our kids, one mom told me that her son was having a birthday and she was going to invite the whole class to go bowling and I said "Oh, he's going to be 6? My daughter is going to be 6 too!" And she said "No, he's going to be 5 on the 11th" and immediately I remembered what the principal told us.

So, what do I do? Do I call the principal and tell him? I don't want to be a tattletale, but because I know of the law do I have any obligation to tell? What difference would it make? Some kids do well in kindergarten at a young age; I was only 4 when I started. What I really want to know is why the school didn't ask the parents how old their kid was; I was required to bring in a copy of my kid's birth certificate to prove her age. Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

Happy eating!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Popcorn Chicken & Mashed Potatoes

I am feeling very unmotivated to make dinner tonight, very blah. Nothing on the list is jumping out at me as exciting. It is another warm day, so I don't want to turn on my oven. Sigh... I guess I will make the popcorn chicken in the toaster oven and instant mashed potatoes on the stove and serve it with the garden salad that is already in the fridge.

I think I am having emotional letdown from the excitement of this morning. It was the first 'real' day of school! Hooray! My little darling did not want to get out of bed, then she took forever to eat her breakfast, and then we had a last minute request for a ponytail. Finally we made it out the door only to run into more traffic than I had expected. The reason for the traffic was due to the police shutting down a main street - the street that runs in front of the school - due to a possible gas leak caused by the construction workers that are resurfacing this street. Are you kidding me?! Thankfully I am familiar with the side street that runs behind the school so once I s-l-o-w-l-y got through the worst of the traffic I zipped to the parking lot. Unfortunately we missed the playground time and so I walked her into the school to the classroom. She was so excited she ran in without giving me a hug or kiss goodbye! I called her back and got the briefest of hugs from her before she scurried back in. At least she wasn't crying and clinging to my legs, right?

Happy eating!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Egg & Cheese Sandwiches

I was reading the blogs I follow and realized that I never wrote on Friday what my meal plan for the week is, so here ya go: Nachos (we had last night), Egg & Cheese Sandwiches, Hot Dogs & Burgers on the grill, Creamy Spaghetti, Potato Pancakes & Sausage, frozen pizza, and Popcorn Chicken & Mashed Potatoes (still on the list from last week).

Tonight I will make the Egg & Cheese Sandwiches (recipe is here) and serve them with cottage cheese. Tonight I am using a loaf of Italian bread I got in the bakery instead of country white. It is pretty warm today, about 80 degrees, so I don't want to stand in front of the stove too long.

I am always writing about how I hate to stand in front of the stove/oven in the summer and maybe I should explain why. Our house was built in 1920 and has baseboard radiators for heat, so we have to use window unit air conditioners in the summer and the cool air just does not flow into the kitchen very well. So if I turn on the oven on an already hot day I will be cooking myself along with the food. LOL

Happy eating!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lemon Bars, Tuna Salad, Spaghetti, & Nachos

Today I made lemon bars for dessert/snacking through the week, tuna salad and spaghetti for lunches, and nachos for dinner. Whew! That's a lot of dishes in my sink - heehee! The lemon bar recipe is from Bakerella and you can get the recipe here. The tuna salad is just canned tuna (drained) with mayo, sour cream, mustard, onion powder and celery salt. The spaghetti was a repeat of one I made the other night and the recipe is here. Last but not least, the nacho recipe can be found here.

Tomorrow is the first day of school! But it's not really because it is Get Acquainted Day and I get to go with my daughter. The day will start in the chapel and then we'll go to her classroom and put away all her supplies and do a little project. Then there is a PTL luncheon and that is it. She doesn't even have to wear her uniform. Tuesday is the real first day.

We went to Rocket Park today, which is not it's real name, but that is what we call it because of the HUGE rocket shaped climbing equipment. It has tons of different ways to climb all over it and lots of slides too. Our daughter loves it and wore herself out, and we had fun watching her have so much fun. I hope you enjoyed your Sunday too!

Happy eating!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sally's Family Restaurant

This morning we were scrambling to get out the door on time for our daughter's eye doctor appointment. She and daddy had toast with butter and strawberry jam for breakfast and I just had coffee with half'n'half. Of course the doctor was running about 1/2 hour behind schedule, at 10:30am no less. I wonder how the rest of her day went... But good news, my little ones eyes are in tip-top shape. I have worn glasses since 5th grade, but my husband has had better than 20/20 vision all his life. Needless to say, I am hoping she takes after him. She already has his blue eyes, so I am keeping my fingers crossed!

Then we did some shopping and came home for lunch. The kid had pepperoni, cheddar cheese, 1/2 a Pink Lady apple, and some Cheez-Its. I had gravy bread (french bread dipped in Italian beef juice) and some grape tomatoes. I don't think my husband ate anything. Then we were lazy, but motivated ourselves to get some yard work done. By the time we realized it it was dinnertime and I was feeling dizzy from lack of food, so we went to Sally's for dinner.

Sally's is a great family place that serves everything all the time and has wonderful service and food. I had a Reuben deluxe that came with the BEST cream of broccoli soup, and since my kid ate most of it I ordered a bowl to take home. The kid had a scrambled egg and sausage and the husband had a patty melt. We thought about dessert, but we were too full. Plus I have cookies'n'cream ice cream in the freezer!

Happy eating!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Kluski Soup and Grilled Cheese

My good friend A., who recently became a nurse, mentioned Kluski noodles in an email a long time ago and I asked what they were. She said they were a lot like egg noodles but skinnier. Huh? I questioned my husband about it and he raved about eating Kluski chicken noodle soup as a kid and so we got some the next time we were at the store.

Now that I have had them, I would describe them simply as a thicker noodle, almost pasta like. We buy Mrs. Weiss' Chicken Flavor Kluski Noodle Soup Mix, although I am sure you could just buy Kluski noodles and use them however you like. I will also be making grilled cheese sandwiches using American cheese and wheat bread.

It has been another unusually cool day here in Chicago, cloudy with a cool breeze and high of 70. The perfect day for a bowl of soup and a sandwich.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cheese Omelet & Sausage

I love breakfast for dinner, it is easy and delicious - and cheap! Tonight we had American cheese omelets and Farmland pork sausage with which I made into patties. I had english muffins too, but we weren't that hungry. I have read many different recipes for omelets, but my favorite is this one.

OMELETS (makes 1)

3 eggs
3 tbsp. water
salt & pepper to taste
2 tsp. butter.
2-3 slices American cheese, cut in half

In a medium skillet melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk the eggs, water, salt and pepper together, pour into skillet. Let the eggs cook for about a minute then swirl the pan slightly. With a rubber scraper, gently push the egg down around the egdes, then swirl again. Repeat until the egg is almost set. Then gently lift the edge of the set egg and let any runny egg run underneath. Repeat on other side of egg if needed. Place your cheese over half the egg. Using a spatula, gently fold over the egg to form the omelet. Continue to cook about 30 seconds, then flip and cook another 30 seconds. Voila!

Some people have trouble flipping over the half of the egg onto the toppings, so you can also place your cheese down the center of the egg and flip over 1/3 of the egg to the center and repeat on the other side. It is more burrito looking than that of a half moon, but who cares?

Happy eating!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Italian Beef Sandwiches

My favorite Italian beef sandwiches are from Portillo's. If you are ever in Chicago you MUST get one for yourself, preferably dipped, peppers are optional. (Dipped means they dip the whole sandwich in the beef juices until the bread is sopping; also called juicy. Peppers can be sweet green bell peppers or hot sport peppers.) Al's Beef is a close second and there are tons of small "beef stands" all around the city that are good, but Portillo's is the BEST.

However, the nearest one to our house is at least 15 minutes away in normal traffic; dinnertime is also rush hour, so Portillo's for dinner during the week is out. I have tried a few frozen Italian beef tubs and Papa Charlies is the best one (so far). Tonight we tried the Aldi brand which is Cattleman's Ranch. It was okay; the meat was good, not chewy, and there was a lot of gravy, but it just didn't have that zip of flavor. Not bad, just not great. Oh well, it was definitely edible. I served it with french bread to make the sandwiches and cold pasta salad on the side.

My daughter is watching the movie Bolt right now, and stuffing her face with popcorn. It is an adorable movie, great for kids as well as adults (the cat steals the show, very funny) - I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it. Borrow a kid to watch it with if you don't have one!

Happy eating!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Chicken Kiev & Rice Pilaf

Tonight's dinner is frozen chicken kievs, Zatarain's rice pilaf, and garden salad. Someday I am going to have to get brave and try to make my own kievs. Anyone got a good recipe they can recommend?

I wanted to go to the library today, but it was closed. All the city offices in Chicago were closed due to a mandatory furlough day, except for 911, police and fire departments. It is one of King Daley's many crazy ideas to save the city money. You may have heard about it on the news, apparently it created quite a stir.

Happy eating!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pepperoni Pan Pizza (again)

Okay, I know I just made this pizza last Tuesday, but it is SO good I had to make it again! I already had the sauce because the recipe makes double what you need, and I already had all the dough ingredients, and we always have pepperoni in the fridge, so I all had to buy was the mozzarella ball for $4. Plus today I had the time, and the taste, for the pizza. It is in the oven now and the house smells heavenly! Click here for the recipe.

Seriously, I would never make this or other things that require real dough before I got the Kitchenaid stand mixer. For instance, peragi. No, not perogi, the icky boiled Polish things with sauerkraut in them. (Sorry, I am half Polish and I love sauerkraut, but I hate perogis.) Peragis are from Latvia and I am half Latvian. They are delicious little baked buns filled with pre-cooked bacon and onion.

I tried to make them ages ago without the stand mixer, but my dough was thick and tough. I will definitely be trying them again now that I have the mixer. Plus my dad, who came to America in 1950(ish), told me that he remembered making them with his grandmother and they would roll out the dough real thin and then cut out circles with a biscuit cutter. I had been tearing off little pieces of dough and rolling them flat, which of course made the dough even tougher from all that handling. When I first looked up the recipe on the internet the measurements were all metric, which was fun to convert (not).

On a completely different topic: I know that you should NEVER wake a sleeping baby, but what about a sleeping husband? He is napping on the couch; do I wake him to share the delicious pizza? He had a long morning working in the heat and it sucked the life out of him, poor baby. Hmmm... decisions, decisions...

Happy eating!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Spaghetti & Garlic Bread

I wanted to make something quick and easy for dinner because after watching my daughter play on her Slip 'n' Slide and then having to throw her in the shower because she got all muddy, I was hungry!

So spaghetti and garlic bread won. I tried a new sauce: Hunt's Zesty & Spicy which was on sale for $1.30. It was pretty good, it didn't even really need extra spices like most of the jarred sauces do (hence the Zesty part), but I couldn't help myself and had to add some salt, pepper, garlic and oregano. As for the Spicy part, after eating a plateful my mouth felt a nice gentle burn, but nothing serious. I do NOT have a high tolerance for spicy foods; my husband, on the other hand, puts hot giardinera on everything.

I also made some cheesy texas toast and while taking it out of the oven I learned the hard way that there is a hole in one of my oven mitts. OUCH! I burned my thumb and now have a nice blister. My daughter is graciously letting me borrow one of her kitty ice packs to hold on it. Thanks hon! I am typing this one-handed, which is not fun, so I'll stop here.

Happy eating! (And be careful!)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Night Pizza

Last night my hubbie got home late and I just did not have an appetite for anything so we ate some leftovers. Plus I was babysitting and my daughter was being Miss Cranky Pants and then I fell asleep with her while putting her to bed. Oops.

Tonight I will be throwing a Palermo's Hearth Italia 'The Siena' frozen pizza in the oven. This is what it says on the box: Natural Artisan Crust, Italian Tomato Sauce, Whole Milk Mozzarella, Crumbled Spicy Italian Sausage, Sliced Italian Sausage, Asiago and Oregano. We have had one of these before and it is VERY good for a frozen pizza. Plus it was on sale for $4. I will serve it with a garden salad with cucumbers from my garden and grape tomatoes from the neighbors garden - yum! - and lettuce and green pepper from the store.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chicken Breasts, Italian Sausage & Grape Tomatoes On The Grill, plus Green Bean Potato Salad and Cauliflower Bake

My dad and my FiL both came to dinner tonight. My dad was suspicious and asked what the occasion was. I assured him I was not pregnant and it was no one's birthday, I just thought it would be nice to have them here together. Really. I thought I may be hitting myself in the head with a skillet by now, but it was a really nice evening. Our neighbor J. and her daughter D. came over too and then it was a party!

First, the Cauliflower Bake. I love this dish, it tastes just like Fried Cauliflower, but it is baked so it is better for you. The problem is my husband is not a fan of it; however my dad is, so I made it for us. This recipe came from my Aunt K. Thanks auntie!


1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup EVOO (approximately)
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and slightly smashed
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs (approximately)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a baking sheet, toss the cauliflower with the garlic, oil, salt & pepper. Spread evenly on pan, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 minutes.

For dinner we had Italian Sausages, Chicken Breasts, and Grape Tomatoes on skewers all cooked on the grill. I seasoned the chicken breasts with butter, garlic powder, paprika, salt & pepper. The grape tomatoes were sprinkled with olive oil, salt & pepper. We also had Green Bean Potato Salad, which has a vinaigrette dressing not a mayo dressing. The recipe is from and can be found here. I changed the recipe slightly to suit my tastes and this is my version.


1 1/2 lbs. red potatoes
3/4 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped
1 red onion, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup EVOO

Cut the potatoes into quarters, or so they are bite-size and place in a large pot. Cover with cold water to 1 inch above potatoes, sprinkle with salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. DO NOT DRAIN INTO SINK! Lift potatoes out with a slotted spoon. Bring water back to a boil and put in the green beans. Cook for 3 minutes, then using a slotted spoon transfer green beans to a bowl of ice water. Drain beans and add them to the potatoes. Add the red onion and sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. While continuously whisking, slowly pour in the olive oil. Pour over salad, toss to coat. Season with more salt & pepper to taste. Refrigerate.

Everything turned out yummy and everyone had a great time. It really brought warm fuzzies to my heart to see all these wonderful people around my dining room table enjoying good food and drinks!

Happy eating (indeed!)!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pepperoni Pan Pizza

I love the TV show Cook's Country which is part of America's Test Kitchen and can be found on the local PBS channels. Both shows are great because 1) you get to see the recipe made from start to finish, 2) because they try many, MANY versions of the recipe to bring it to perfection, and 3) then you can go to their website and get the recipes! Well, you can get the ATK recipes free, the CC ones will cost you.

Ever since the switch to digital (my tiny kitchen TV has rabbit ears) I cannot get the PBS channel anymore, which really makes me mad - that was my favorite channel! On Saturdays PBS would air a bunch of cooking shows and I would prep food for the week or clean the fridge or stove while learning more about ribs or pie crust or tilapia. >sigh<

Anyway, I caught an episode of CC last week (on the living room TV which has cable) and they made Pepperoni Pan Pizza. You know, the pan pizza with the delicious "fried" crust? So since I know the CC recipes are not free, I wrote down the ingredients and instructions and I will share them with you for free! Here ya go:

PEPPERONI PAN PIZZA (makes 2 - 9" pizzas in round cake pans)

2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 pkg. instant yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup skim milk, warmed to 100 degrees (about 1 minute in the microwave)
8 tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 tsp. sugar

1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees and turn it off as soon as it reaches that temp.
Put flour and salt in bowl of stand mixer, mix on low 20 seconds, then add yeast and mix on low again. Pour warm milk in measuring cup and add 2 tbsp. oil and the sugar. With mixer on low speed, pour in milk mixture. Mix on low until combined, then mix on medium for 5 minutes. You may need to scrape sides of bowl with a spatula during the 5 minutes.
2) Knead dough by hand on a floured surface a few times, then place in a lightly oiled glass bowl, turning to coat dough with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in oven for 30 minutes. (While dough is rising make sauce and shred cheese.)
3) Remove dough from oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, cut dough in half. Roll out each half to 7 inch diameter. Place dough on knuckles, like a pizza maker, and gently rotate and pull dough out to 9 inches. Pour 3 tbsp. olive oil each in bottom of two 9 inch cake pans and swirl gently to coat bottom - do not get oil on sides. Then put in the dough, pressing if needed to make it touch the sides of the cake pans.

Sauce & Toppings: (make while dough is rising)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
salt & pepper (I used 1/2 tsp. pepper, 1 1/2 tsp. salt)
3oz. package pepperoni
1 - 16oz. part-skim mozzarella ball/block, shredded

1) In a medium pot over low heat, cook garlic in oil for 2 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes. Season with salt & pepper. (makes enough for 4 pizzas, so freeze the extra)
2) Line a plate with 2 paper towels, place pepperoni in a single layer on towels, cover with 2 more towels. Cook on high in microwave for 30 seconds.
3) Top each crust with 1/2 cup of the sauce, then 1/2 the pepperoni, then 1/2 the cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool 1 minute before removing pizza from pans.

Whew! Zapping the pepperoni in the microwave renders a lot of the grease so your pizza isn't as greasy. The 3 tbsp. of oil in the bottom of the cake pan actually fries the dough a little and gives it that wonderful crispiness. You can use pre-shredded cheese, but that cheese has a chemical on it to keep the cheese from clumping in the bag and it does not melt as well. If you use part-skim instead of whole milk your pizza will be less greasy, but still gooey.

Now I have to say this: THIS PIZZA WAS DELICIOUS!!! It was better than take-out! The crust was wonderful, the sauce was perfect, the cheese was gooey. I cannot believe I made something SO good! I am still amazed. I might have to get a subscription to Cook's Country now.

I love pan pizza almost as much as I love deep dish pizza. I was thrilled to hear I could make pan pizza in cake pans; I have never made deep dish pizza because I do not have the deep cast iron dish that the Chicago pizzerias use and I refuse to try without one. Do you know why deep dish pizza has the cheese on the bottom and the sauce on top? Because the long, high temps needed to cook it would burn the cheese if it were on top.

Now go make this pizza because you will LOVE it!

Happy eating!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Enchilada Casserole & Oreo Truffles

WARNING: This post contains food that is very, very bad for you. Continue at your own risk!

Tonight we are having Enchilada Casserole. I cannot remember where I got this recipe, but I don't make it very often because it has a bazillion calories and tons of sodium and fat. But it is so yummy! You can tell it is good (bad) just from the ingredients.


3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 - 12oz. bag Doritos
1 - 15oz. can chili with beans
1 - 8oz. can tomato sauce
1 - 10oz. can enchilada sauce
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 - 16oz. container sour cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 2 quart casserole dish. Measure out 1 cup of cheese, set aside. Place other 2 cups of cheese in a large bowl. Crush the Doritos until you only have very small pieces. Put 1/3 of the crushed chips in the bowl with the cheese. To the bowl, add the chili, tomato sauce, enchilada sauce and onion powder; mix well. Pour into greased casserole dish and bake for 20 minutes. Remove casserole from oven; spread the top with sour cream, then the rest of the chips, then with the reserved shredded cheese. Return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted.

I remember the first time I made this dish; my husband and I each took a bite at the same time and we both had that "this is SO good!" look on our faces. heehee!

The other thing I made today are Oreo Truffles. I got this recipe from the July issue of Better Homes & Gardens that I borrowed from my neighbor. Again, you can tell from the ingredients how good (bad) these are for you.


1 - 18oz. package Oreo cookies, finely crushed
1 - 8oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 lb. white baking chocolate, melted (I used a bag of white chocolate chips)

In a large mixing bowl combine crushed cookies and cream cheese. Beat with mixer on low speed until well blended. Form 1 inch balls by hand. Dip balls in white chocolate; place on baking sheet covered with waxed paper. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. To store, cover and refrigerate.

I had trouble with the dipping part, so I used a spoon to generously drizzle the chocolate on top of each piece. Then I got a fingerprint in one of them so I had to eat it, right? OH MY HEAVENS!!! My husband will be lucky if there are any left by the time he gets home. Oh, and my whole refrigerator smells like Oreos now. Every time I go in there the smell hits me and I swoon. I am sure they are firm enough by now, I better go cover those babies up!

(Very) Happy eating!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Oven French Toast, Sausage Gravy

This morning I made the Oven French Toast. Actually, I made the OFT last night and just put it in the oven this morning. It was really good! The recipe is from Florida's Natural Orange Juice.


2 eggs
1/2 cup Florida's Natural orange juice
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
8 French bread slices, cut 1 inch thick
(next day) 1/4 cup melted butter, plus extra

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, orange juice, milk, vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Dip both sides of french bread in mixture and place in a buttered 9x13 baking dish; pour remaining mixture over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove cover, pour melted butter over bread, and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.


The hint of orange was fantastic! I ate it with some maple syrup - so good! I also had a roll of breakfast sausage to use up, so I made 3 patties and used the rest to make Sausage Gravy. I learned how to make it from Krista's Kitchen, so this is her recipe.


1 roll pork breakfast sausage
1 tbsp. butter, optional
2-3 tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
salt & pepper

Brown and crumble the sausage in a skillet or medium saucepan over medium heat. When cooked thru, remove sausage with slotted spoon to a plate. Depending on how much fat your sausage rendered you may continue, or add the butter if you need more fat. Once the butter is melted, over medium-low heat, add the flour, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes - do not let burn! Then slowly pour in the milk, stirring constantly and turn up the heat to medium-high. Keep stirring and the mixture will thicken into gravy. Season to taste with salt & pepper (I used 1/4 tsp. each), then add back in the sausage.


I also made biscuits (from a can) in the oven at the same time the OFT was baking, which is what the Sausage Gravy was served over. Why all these different things? Well, I love french toast and my husband loves biscuits and gravy, and we don't really like what the other does, so I made two breakfasts. It really wasn't that much work (cooking to me isn't work because I love to cook) and we are both very happy! And it was fun! I had never made gravy like that before and it was exciting for me to see come together and thicken - I was giggling in the kitchen like a little kid. LOL

Dinner was 'fend for yourself/leftovers', so more tomorrow. I hope you all had lovely weekends!

Happy eating!

Friday, August 7, 2009

BLT Sandwiches

I have some tomatoes that need to be used so we are having Bacon Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches for dinner. I don't need to post a recipe for these right? You toast some bread and spread it lightly with mayo. Cook the bacon until crispy. Layer the toast with lettuce leaves, sliced tomato and bacon - enjoy! We usually have two each so we don't have a side dish, although a cold pasta salad might be good with these (for those of you who aren't a piggie like me and eat only one sandwich). LOL

I am back to planning my own menu, last week my husband came up with all the ideas, and here it is: Homemade Pan Pizzas, Chicken Breast, Italian Sausage, and Grape Tomato skewers on the grill, Green Bean Potato Salad, Oreo Truffles, Cauliflower Bake, and Enchilada Casserole. Plus I still have not made the Klewski Soup & Grilled Cheese or the Oven French Toast & Sausage from last week.

How do I have meal ideas leftover you may ask? Well one night my husband brought me a surprise Gyro sandwich and another night my FiL took us out to dinner. I think I am going to do a "fend for yourself/leftover" night this week and make that Oven French Toast for breakfast on Sunday. I will make a couple of patties out of the sausage and turn the rest into Sausage Gravy and throw some biscuits in the oven for Biscuits & Gravy - my husband will be thrilled! I admit I did not know how to make Sausage Gravy until I read about it over on Krista's Kitchen - boy, is it easy! Thanks Krista!

On a completely unrelated note, the master of 80's teenage angst movies, John Hughes died yesterday. I loved his movies and not just because they were always filmed around Chicago, although Ferris Bueller does a great job of showing off our city. They really touched a nerve with my generation, and even though the clothes and hair and slang will be out of style 10 years from now when my daughter is old enough to watch them, they will speak to her too.

Happy eating!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Big Salad & Cheesy Garlic Toast

I love easy dinners and you can't much easier than this one. I will chop up a head of lettuce and add some chopped up cucumber, green pepper, grape tomato, and shredded cheese. I would add some red onion too, but I am out. Plus, I will make some cheesy garlic toast (the frozen kind) in the toaster oven - voila! That's it folks.

It is another beautiful day here, once again about 75 degrees and sunny with that same cool breeze. I am enjoying it while I can because tomorrow is supposed to be rainy, and then over the weekend the temp is supposed to shoot up into the 90's - blech!

I don't know if any of you followed the story about Laura Ling and Euna Lee, the two journalists who were captured in North Korea, but I am sure you have recently heard of their return which was procured by former President Clinton. I must admit, I had tears in my eyes when I saw Euna get off the plane and grab her daughter and hug her and not let her go; it was a very touching moment. However, the fact that she would put herself in the dangerous position of being so near the border of North Korea, which is notorious for it's harsh regime, when she had a small child at home did not occur to me until I read about it over on Buried With Children. It is an excellent post and challenges the reader to think about what and how much we are willing to sacrifice for our children and our careers.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Grilled Beef Kebabs - Revised

It is a beautiful day here! The temp is about 75 and sunny and there is a deliciously cool lake breeze blowing into my kitchen through the back porch. Aaaah! Life is good! I have decided to make the Grilled Beef Kebabs because it is just so pleasant to be outside today. Plus I really need to use the ground beef. :)
I got this recipe from the Everyday With Rachel Ray magazine.


1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1/2 cup grated English cucumber, wrung out in a kitchen towel
1 tsp. dill
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt & pepper
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (or ground lamb)
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, plus whole leaves for garnish
1 1/2 tbsp. ground cumin
2 tbsp. olive oil
warm pita bread for serving
8 wooden skewers

Soak 8 wooden skewers in water. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, cucumber, dill and half the garlic; season to taste with salt & pepper. Refrigerate.

Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high. In a medium bowl, combine the beef, remaining garlic, chopped parsley and cumin. Add salt & pepper to taste. Divide the beef mixture into 4 sections. Roll each section into a 6 inch log. Thread each log lengthwise onto two parallel skewers. Wrap your index finger and thumb around the log and squeeze lightly from top to bottom to make 4 indented rings. Rub the beef kebabs with olive oil and grill for 6 to 8 minutes on each side, or to desired doneness. Place each kebab on a warm pita and top with the sauce and parsley leaves.


I do not have an English cucumber, just a regular one, but I am sure that will be okay. And I am not sure about the 1 1/2 tbsp. of cumin, that is some powerfully smoky stuff. Maybe I will only use half. I have a huge amount of flat-leaf parsley in my garden I can't wait to use. Now I need to go and get my grill started and make that sauce.

Happy eating!

P.S. These were great! I only used 1 tbsp. cumin and that was perfect. I also sprinkled a little chopped red onion in the pita with the sauce, it gave it a nice extra flavor and crunch. My wonderful neighbor gave me a big bag of grape tomatoes from her garden, so I skewered a bunch, slathered them with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them on the grill next to the kebabs. They were the perfect side dish - yum!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Chicken Strip Tacos

This idea came to me when I was trying to come up with a new and cheap dinner idea. I knew I would have tortillas leftover from the quesadillas and frozen chicken strips are really cheap, and so my idea was born. I had also recently seen the commercial for Long John Silvers new breaded fish taco, but thought breaded chicken would be better.

Basically I just heated up the frozen strips in the toaster oven and served 2 in a tortilla with ranch dressing, chopped lettuce, chopped tomato, and shredded cheddar cheese. They were pretty good! I had also picked up a box of Zatarain's Yellow Rice for $1 and it was the perfect side. Nothing fancy here, but something different for us.

Today we walked to the library. I had so many books to return (18) that I got the stroller out of the attic and pushed them there! haha! (hey, it's 3 long blocks away!) I had 3 to pick up that were on hold, but we didn't get more. Instead, we are going to the Edgebrook Library tomorrow for something different. Plus there is an ice cream parlor next to that library, so my plan is to have lunch at home, then go to the library, then get some ice cream. We are allowed to check out up to 30 books, and I get most of them for my daughter. We read her 3 books each night before bed so they get old fast! I have a whopping 7 books checked out for myself right now, which is unusual. They are:

Dune Road by Jane Green
Farm City by Novella Carpenter
Back To Basics by Ina Garten
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
Rude Awakenings Of A Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
The Brief History Of The Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

Quite an assortment, huh? At most I usually only have 3-4 books out for myself, I am not sure how this happened. :) I need to read Dune Road and Farm City first because they are highly requested right now and I cannot re-new the check out time on these like I can on the others. But I am in the middle of Brief History, so I am trying to get through it quickly. Anyway...

Happy eating!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Big Plate Of Nachos

The other day I was looking around the Krista's Kitchen blog and came across her nachos recipe. They looked so good I added them to my meal plan for the week, and I made them tonight. Like Krista, I like to "make a run for the border" and get the Nachos Bellgrande at Taco Bell. These were just as good, if not better. Thanks for the great idea Krista!


1 bag of tortilla chips
2-3 cups chopped lettuce
1-2 diced tomatoes
sour cream
taco sauce
1 jar salsa con queso
1 can refried beans
1 lb. ground beef
1 taco seasonings packet

Brown the ground beef, drain fat. Add the taco seasonings and 3/4 cup water, simmer for 5-7 minutes. Heat refried beans in a small pot, add enough water to make them pourable, stir well. Gently heat the salsa con queso in the microwave, stirring often.
Spread a bunch of tortilla chips on a plate, top with some taco meat, taco sauce, and then with refried beans. Spoon some salsa con queso on next, then add the tomatoes. Next is the sour cream and finally the lettuce.

Krista made hers slightly different from mine, you can check out her recipe here. My husband and I made our own separate plates of nachos because I like extra tomatoes and sour cream, and he likes extra taco sauce and meat.

Happy eating!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Peppery Cheese Bread

Yesterday morning we went downtown to the Lincoln Park Zoo. The weather was overcast so we were not baking in the sun, and since it was early the zoo was not crowded. It is a small zoo compared to Brookfield Zoo in the suburbs, but it is clean, close, and free. We had a wonderful time. Near the entrance to the zoo is the Lincoln Park Conservatory which was built in 1895 and designed both to showcase exotic plants and to grow the thousands of flowers needed for use in the area parks. It is a quiet, relaxing place and it is also free. I would have loved to stroll through a bit more slowly, but my 6 year old is much less interested in orchids than me. Then we walked up the street to a big playground complete with swings, 2 different climbing structures, and sandbox where our daughter got to run around for about a half hour before it started to rain and we headed home.

Once home, I did some much needed vacuuming and then I made Peppery Cheese Bread. The recipe is from Taste Of Home Feb/March 2009 issue.


2 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup (8oz.) plain yogurt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp. spicy brown mustard
1 cup (4oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, yogurt, oil, milk, and mustard. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in cheese and onions. Transfer to loaf pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack.

This savory bread was good warm out of the oven yesterday, and is good today at room temp too. I think it would be excellent with a bowl of soup for lunch or with a bowl of chili for dinner. I also liked this recipe because I had most of the ingredients in my kitchen; I just needed to buy the green onion and plain yogurt.

Happy eating!