Thursday, October 29, 2009

Popcorn Shrimp & Rice

Today was the Fall party in my daughter's kindergarten classroom and I got to come and help out. What fun! The kids are so great, very well behaved and so polite. Well, most of them - there are a couple trouble-makers, but they try. The teacher, Mrs. J, is simply awesome. She has been a kindergarten teacher for 30 years and she is terrific with the kids.

Dinner tonight will be Popcorn Shrimp and Rice. Aldi has great popcorn shrimp for $2 a box and their cocktail sauce is good too. The rice is a Knorr Fiesta Sides Mexican Rice packet, and I will also have a salad on the side.

Tomorrow and Saturday will be very busy so I won't be back here until Sunday. Tomorrow I will grocery shop in the morning, then I have my daughter's parent/teacher conference (my husband is staying home with her), then we will go to Target together, and then clean out the pumpkins to bake the seeds and carve them. On Saturday I will be cleaning the house and getting ready for our neighbors and some close friends to come over around 3pm. We will walk to the park district for the festivities there, come back to the house for pizza, and then go trick-or-treating.

The meal plan for the coming week is: Shepherd's Pie, Chicken Kievs & Mashed Potatoes, Pepperoni Pan Pizza, Tacos, Chicken Pattie Sandwiches, Hamburgers, and frozen pizza (always).

I hope you all have a fun and safe Halloween!
Happy eating!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pastitsio Casserole

I won! I won! One of my favorite blogs Crumbs In The Minivan had a book giveaway and I won! Woo-hoo! Please go check out the Crumbs, Mama Crumb is a great writer and her stories are funny and if you are a mom you can totally relate to her.

My first time as Playground Mom on Tuesday was fun, and the kids wasted no time breaking me in - someone poked someone else in the eye with a wood chip. The word the kids used was stabbed, but I think it was more of a poke. Anyway, I immediately summoned the other, more experienced P.M. and she had me bring the boy to the nurse while she tried to figure out who did it and punish them. The kid was fine and returned with me to the playground to fight, I mean play, again.

Today my daughter's kindergarten class led the chapel time and it was so cute! They did an audience participation story about Martin Luther that was hysterical and then they sang a song. I also got to meet another mom whose daughter is friends with my kid - I see a playdate in our future.

Tonight's dinner is an old favorite of ours called Pastitsio. It is supposed to be an Italian version of Shepherd's Pie. I have no idea where I got the recipe, but I have been making this since I was married. It is a great dish to bring to potlucks.


2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
4 tbsp. butter
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 lb. ground beef
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup beef stock
2 tbsp. parsley
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Part 1: In a large pot, brown ground beef. Drain off fat. Mix in onion powder, garlic powder, tomato paste, beef stock and parsley. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Part 2: Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain well, return to pot. Stir in butter, eggs, and parmesan; mix well.
Part 3: Lightly grease a 2 quart serving dish. Spoon half the macaroni mixture in the bottom. Top with all the meat mixture. Spoon remaining noodles over the meat. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with garlic bread and a salad.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Leftovers We Love

Hello all! I would like to comment on a few comments I received on my last post. First, L.B. - don't be afraid of the yeast! Just make sure it is 1) fresh, 2) does not come in direct contact with salt, and 3) that your liquid is not over 110 degrees. I use a candy thermometer to check my temps - easy and cheap. Second, I am feeling better today, thank you for all the well wishes - they worked! haha! Third, I pound the chicken for the chicken parm because then you get a bigger top surface for more sauce and cheese! The easiest, least messy method I have found is to put the chicken in a gallon size ziploc bag and pound away!

Tonights dinner is going to be leftovers because I have too many in the fridge. There is Indian Corn Stew, Lasagna, Salisbury Steak, and Latvian Meatsauce that need to be eaten. All of these items re-heat very well, thank goodness. I try to make a dent in the leftovers by having them for lunch, but sometimes I just want a turkey sandwich instead. :)

I was asked to be the Playground Mom on Tuesdays at my daughter's school because the mom that did it is moving away. My kid is thrilled because she gets to stay and play with her friends and I am happy to do it for her. I am sure I will not be so happy when it is February and it is freezing cold outside! Ah, the sacrifices we make for our kids.

Happy eating!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chicken Parmesan & Pasta

I would like to start by saying Welcome to all my new followers, I'm so happy to have you here! I am really enjoying being a follower on your blogs too. Next I would like to say that I am going to miss your blog Betty, along with that cute little corgi of yours!

I realized that I forgot (again) to give you guys my meal plan for the week. What is wrong with me lately? haha! So here it is: Shepherd's Pie, frozen pizza (always), Pastitsio, Popcorn Shrimp & Rice, Chicken Kievs & Mashed Potatoes.

Tonight I will make Chicken Parmesan on a bed of Spaghetti. I like to pound my chicken breasts thin, then dredge them in flour, then dip them in an egg-milk mixture, then dredge them in seasoned breadcrumbs. I cook them until golden in a skillet with a little olive oil, then put them in the oven topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese until the cheese melts, about 8 minutes. So easy and yummy. I don't think they re-heat well so I only make two, but I make extra spaghetti because I love that for leftovers!

Well, I am not feeling 100% so I am going to go rest. My daughter and husband have both have colds, so I knew it was only a matter of time before I caught it!

Happy eating!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lasagna & Guest Blogger

Today I am the guest blogger over on This Stop Willoughby! I love Willoughby's blog, she always has great topics and challenges and some of the best drink recipes you'll ever taste. Recently she has been having a Cocktail Party of guest bloggers to promote friendship and help us all find some new blogs to enjoy - please go over and check it out! I got that fancy new picture to the right for participating - cool, huh? :) I have also found a bunch of great new blogs to follow, so thanks again Willoughby!

Tonight I will be making lasagna for dinner. I know there a million recipes for it, some with meat, some with cottage cheese, some with white sauce, the list could go on indefinitely. I make mine by layering no-boil noodles with pasta sauce from a jar, and ricotta cheese mixed with an egg and shredded mozzarella. Easy-peasy. If you haven't tried no-boil noodles, you should. They make making lasagna so much easier!

Happy eating!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Night Pizza

Hi all! It is Friday night and we are ordering a pizza - half cheese, half pepperoni. Yum! Last night we had leftovers for dinner; I had Indian Corn Stew and the hubbie had Salisbury Steak.

Today my daughter's school had a Bowl-A-Thon and I was a volunteer. This is the second time I have ridden a bus in one week in over 20 years! They still smell gross, by the way. LOL It was a good time! The kids were very well behaved (again) and bowled with their chapel families. The chapel family consists of 1-2 kids from each grade in the school, and they work together in chapel time on Wednesdays. I got a sore throat from yelling over all the noise and loud music, but I loved it. I caught myself shouting encouragement just like I did when I was a cheerleader in high school - it's scary how it comes back to you like it was yesterday. My daughter bowled a 112 the first game and a 62 the second game and then got a STRIKE in the first frame of the third game! Of course this was done with bumpers, but it was her first time bowling ever, so I was one proud mama! Plus I got to work with the school's first grade teacher, so I have an "in" with her for next year - haha!

It was also the first time my daughter showed that she was slightly embarrassed of me >GASP!< in public. She told me to "tone it down, mom" when I was clapping for her. I was so shocked that I just said "okay". I knew this day was coming, but I didn't think it would be so soon. I have received some negative criticism for having her in 1/2 day kindergarten (instead of full day), and I do it precisely for this reason - the day will come (way too soon) where she will want little-to-nothing to do with me, so I am relishing all the mommy-time I can get now. Is that so wrong? I think that some of these parents who are shoving their kids into pre-school as soon as possible are going to regret it someday and I don't want to have that regret. Every family had to do what works for them, right? What do you think?

Happy eating!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Venetian Paninis & Latvian Meatsauce

The other night I made fancy grilled cheese on sourdough bread and since I had some bread left I made Venetian Panini sandwiches for lunch today. I LOVE these sandwiches. I have made them for a few friends and they all LOVE these sandwiches too. I got the original recipe from Giada DeLaurentis over at the Food Network, but I have changed a few things. First, I use spicy mustard instead of dijon, and second, I use swiss cheese instead of Gruyere. Anyway, you can find the recipe here.

For dinner tonight I will be making Latvian Meatsauce. This is NOT a traditional Latvian meal; my mom called it Latvian Meatsauce because the recipe came from her mother-in-law who was from Latvia. My dad said he thinks that his mother and her second husband, who was Hungarian, came up with this recipe based on other recipes. He does not remember eating it as a child in Latvia before his mom remarried. Just wanted to clarify that! :)


8 oz. mushrooms, fresh or canned
3 stalks celery, diced
2 medium onions, diced
1/2 large green pepper, diced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped OR 4 tsp. dried parsley
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
2 lbs. ground beef
2/3 cup water
1 - 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. marjoram
1/2 tsp. celery salt
3 tsp. cornstarch mixed with 3 tsp. cold water
3/4 cup sour cream

In a large pot, saute all veggies in butter and oil until partially cooked. In a separate pot, brown the ground beef; drain off fat. Add beef to veggies. Add tomato sauce, water, and spices; stir well. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture and cook until sauce thickens. When ready to serve, turn off heat and let sauce stop simmering. Then add the sour cream, stirring well to mix.


This is really good served over boiled potatoes with a side of pickles. Well, that's how my mom always served it and we loved it. I will only make half the amount of this recipe since only my husband and I will be eating it. I will make my daughter try it, but I'm pretty sure she'll want a hot dog instead.

Happy eating!

Monday, October 19, 2009


Today was the field trip to the pumpkin patch with my daughter's school and it was wonderful! The weather was really great and the kids were well behaved. Whew! Now I am exhausted and my throat is slightly sore from shouting to be heard above the crowds, but we all had a great time.

I wish I could just throw a frozen pizza in the oven for dinner, but I did that last night. And the night before that we went to Steak 'N' Shake for dinner where kids eat free! We did not know that until our waitress told us - it was a nice surprise. Plus we had coupons for our dinners so the bill was pretty cheap.

So, tonight we are having scrambled eggs, sausage patties, and diced potatoes. I will saute some onion to add to the potatoes and throw in some steak seasoning too. The eggs might get some fresh chopped green onion from my garden and maybe a dollop of sour cream for extra creaminess. Mmmmm, I'm getting hungry thinking about it now!

Happy eating!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

New Fancy Grilled Cheese

I love comfort foods and very high on that list is the simple grilled cheese sandwich. I also have a "fancy" grilled cheese recipe that I love and I just found a new one! In the November issue of Everyday With Rachel Ray magazine they reviewed four restaurants across the U.S. with off-beat grilled cheese sandwiches and we are trying one of them tonight. It is from The Cheese Factory Restaurant in Wisconsin Dells, WI and The Specs are "a double-decker sourdough sandwich layered with four-year-aged Wisconsin sharp cheddar and baby Swiss, a pinch of grated romano, tomatoes and Italian herbs." YUM! I don't think I will make mine double-decker, but otherwise I'm sticking to the ingredients.

Last night we had leftovers for dinner and on Thursday I made my favorite Pepperoni Pan Pizzas.

I bought my pumpkins yesterday. I got them at Aldi for $2 each and they are pretty good sized, about 15 lbs. each. I can't wait to clean them out and roast the seeds and carve them! Fun! I also have been buying a bag or two of candy each week for the last few weeks. We get tons of trick-or-treaters here. I must admit I am worried about the weather for this year's trick-or-treating. Last year we had PERFECT weather, temps in the 70's with clear skies, truly perfect. So of course this year is gonna suck, right? There is no way we will get great weather again. I guess I will just pray that it doesn't rain; cold I can deal with, but rain would ruin it. Anyway, my daughter is going to be Corrine from Barbie and the Three Musketeers. We have the dress and sword and boots and we are going to make the mask this week. What are your little ones going to be? Have you started buying candy yet?

The meal plan for the week is: Chicken Parmesan (STILL), New Fancy Grilled Cheese (above), Lativan Meatsauce, frozen pizza (always), Breakfast, and Shepherd's Pie.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Salisbury Steaks

I would like to start by saying that I hope those of you who are in California (Betty & Joanna) are safe from the remnants of that typhoon that is currently dumping tons of rain up and down the west coast causing flooding and landslides. You are in my prayers!

Dinner tonight will be one of my husbands favorites: Salisbury steaks. I don't remember where I got this recipe, but it's fairly easy and really good. I serve it with mashed potatoes, it makes the most wonderful gravy for them, and a salad or veggie.


2 cans Campbells condensed French Onion Soup
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (at least 85% lean)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 tbsp. flour
3/4 cup ketchup
3/4 cup water
3 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp. mustard

In a big bowl, combine half a can of onion soup, bread crumbs, egg, salt and pepper with the ground beef. Shape into 6 patties. In a large skillet over medium high heat, brown the patties a few minutes on each side; pour off any fat. While patties are browning: in a large bowl combine the rest of the onion soup with the flour, whisking until smooth. Add the ketchup, mustard, water, and Worcestershire; mix well. Pour soup mixture over browned patties. Cover and cook over medium low heat for 10 minutes. Flip patties over, cover, and cook another 10 minutes.

I had my dad over for dinner once and served these. He loved them so much that he made me come over to his house to make a double batch (he supplied the ingredients). Then he put them into Gladware and put them in the freezer so he could have one whenever he wanted!

Happy eating!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Do I Know You?!

Last night I was watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations show on The Food Channel. I don't usually watch that show, but this one was about him in Chicago so how could I not watch it? :) They were talking about a restaurant called Moto and then they showed the head chef and I suddenly sat straight up thinking "I KNOW that guy! Where do I know him from?!" Then they said his name was Homaro Cantu and it clicked. My daughter went to preschool last year with his daughter and I saw him repeatedly at drop-off/pick-up! This man has been on Iron Chef! Wow. I can't believe I didn't know he was a big fancy chef.

Actually, I can believe I didn't know; I just can't believe no one at the school told me. I didn't make any best friends there, but I did become friendly with a few of the moms. I have never been to Moto and probably will never go. I know there are people out there (you may be one of them) who are true "foodies" and really get into exotic cuisine, but I am not one of them. Sure I like to try new things, but a 10 course dinner that costs over $100 per person and includes a "cuban cigar" that you can eat is definitely not for me. I have no desire to try foie gras or even caviar. How do you feel about the fancy stuff?

I am not trying to prove a point here, but dinner is (another) frozen pizza. LOL My daughter picked this one, it is her favorite: Tombstone Garlic Bread Cheese Pizza. I am feeling lazy and I don't feel like cooking. My daughter is finally back in school after a 5 day weekend; last Thursday and Friday were teacher meetings and yesterday was Columbus Day - ugh! I am SO happy to be back to my routine.

Happy eating!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Indian Corn Stew

My mom made this stew a few times every winter for as long as I can remember. I have no idea where she got the recipe, but my dad thinks it was an old Girl Scout recipe, which sounds right. For those of you who saw Indian and thought "curry", you are wrong. And I really don't think the Native American Indians made anything remotely like this, so I don't know why it is called Indian Corn Stew. Anyway, I serve this with buttered rye bread.


1/2 onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 lb. ground beef
1 can corn, undrained
1 can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can condensed cream of tomato or tomato bisque soup
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp. cold water

Brown the ground beef with the onion and green pepper. Drain off fat. Add the corn, tomatoes, soup, sugar, salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch/water and simmer for 3 more minutes.

This is so yummy and easy, and would be very easy to make at a campsite. :) It is also easy to double for large families or potlucks, and like chili, always tastes great warmed up.

I got my daughter's school pictures - ugh! She is doing that robot smile that all mothers know and hate. You would think that a professional photographer who works with children all day would have a few jokes up their sleeves to make kids really smile. Oh well, I have learned my lesson. Next year I will order the class photo for $9 and then take her Target and get the same photo package with an $8 coupon AND be able to pick the picture AND make sure she is actually smiling.

I would also like to invite you all to check out the AWESOME giveaway over at Krista's Kitchen. She is one of my favorite blog friends because she has the best recipes and pictures.

Happy eating!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Beef & Rice Fiesta Casserole

I got this recipe ages ago from my brother, but I don't know where he got it from. Doesn't really matter, we love it! I serve this with warm cornbread and a mixed green salad.


1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 cup instant rice
1 - 2 cup bag shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 - 14oz. can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 - 8oz. can tomato sauce
1 can sliced olives, drained
1 pkt. taco seasoning
1 tsp. vinegar
1 cup water
1 1/2 tsp. beef bouillon
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. EACH pepper, basil, onion powder, garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown ground beef with onion and green pepper, drain off fat. Stir in all ingredients, EXCEPT 8oz. tomato sauce AND half the cheese, bring to a boil. Pour mixture into a 3 quart baking dish and cover. Bake for half an hour. Now stir in the tomato sauce, re-cover and bake for 25 minutes. Top with other half of cheese and bake 5 minutes more, or until cheese is melted.

If you want some kick in it you could add a small can of chopped jalapenos. I'm sure a Mexican blend cheese would work great too. One time I tried leaving out the extra spices and only used the taco seasoning packet and it just wasn't the same, so it's worth the extra effort.

The meal plan for the following week is: Chicken Parmesan (still), frozen pizza (again), leftovers, Potato & Sausage Bake, Pepperoni Pan Pizza, Indian Corn Stew, and Salisbury Steaks. Oh yeah! Gotta love those hearty cold weather meals!

Happy eating!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Three Awards (& Tacos)

I sincerely hope that Lissaloo and Willoughby are not mad at me for taking so long to post about the wonderful awards they have passed on to me. I am truly grateful for having such great blog friends! So without further ado, here we go:

The first two awards are from Lissaloo over at One Step At A Time. If you haven't checked out her blog, please go now! She is always posting the most delicious recipes and fun crafts on her blog. The first one is the B.I.N.G.O. award, she gave me the O for Outstanding, and here are the five blogs I would like to pass it to:

B - Beautiful: Marvelously Mundane always has beautiful pictures and stories and recipes on her blog. I have been reading hers the longest and she keeps me coming back for more!

I - Informative: Krista's Kitchen has taught me a lot of things about cooking. She always has such great information along with her recipes - I love her blog!

N - Neighborly: A Corgi In Southern California is always leaving such sweet comments for me, and her own blog makes you feel like grabbing a warm cup of tea and settling in for a lovely chat with an old friend.

G - Gorgeous: Crumbs In The Minivan shares wonderful stories of her gorgeous family and reminds me that I am not alone, as mothers we are all going through pretty much the same ups and downs!

O - Outstanding: Airing My Dirty Laundry is so funny and real and honest - her blog is simply outstanding!

The second award from Lissaloo is the Honest Scrap award and I have to list 10 honest things about myself:

1. I think Twitter is dumb.
2. I can't stand it when people chew with their mouths open.
3. I think people who abuse animals should go to jail.
4. I wear fake nails because my own are thin and weak.
5. I cut my own hair; my daughter's and husband's too.
6. I can parallel park on either side like a pro.
7. I still remember the words to songs I sang 20 years ago in high school choir.
8. I love doing the laundry.
9. I am a chocolate snob and will only eat the good stuff (just like Lissaloo!).
10. I don't like Macy's and miss Marshall Fields more than I should.

The third award is from This Stop Willoughby. (She is an amazing blogger I found from Marvelously Mundane, and she is throwing a really cool cocktail party over on her blog. Please go and check it out, you won't be sorry!) It is the Over The Top award and I have to give one word answers for the following:

Where is your cell phone? kitchen
Your hair: long
Your mother: heaven
Your father: good
Your favorite food? pizza
Your dream last night? scuba
Your favorite drink? wine
Your dream/goal? travel
What room are you in? dining
Your hobby: reading
Your fear: fire
Where do you want to be in 6 years? here
Where were you last night? home
Something you aren't: short
Muffins? no
Wish list item: health
Where did you grow up? suburbs
Last thing you did: stretch
What are you wearing? jeans
Your TV: off
Your pets: none
Your friends: forever
Your life: good
Your mood: happy
Missing someone? mom
Vehicle: Honda
Something you are not wearing: jewelry
Favorite store? Target
Favorite color? green
When was the last time you laughed? today
When was the last time you cried? yesterday
Your best friend: husband
One place I go over & over: bathroom (ha!)
One person who emails me regularly: aunt
Favorite place to eat? steakhouse

I am supposed to pass these last two awards on to a bunch of other people, but I don't follow that many blogs and most of you have received these already. So if you are reading this and do not already have these awards, consider yourself awarded!

For dinner tonight I am making tacos. I have a kit from Old El Paso that includes 6 soft shells, 6 hard shells, taco sauce, and seasoning mix that we got on sale at Target for under $2! I love tacos, but only the American kind. We sometimes order take-out from a very authentic Mexican restaurant and I really don't like their tacos - I'd rather have Taco Bell! Isn't that terrible? haha!

Happy eating!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pizza (& Pain)

Hello folks, thing have been crazy around here lately! I have not had the time to be on the computer writing my blog, and reading and commenting on all your fabulous blogs, and I miss it! I know that a couple of you have awards for me and I am SO sorry I have not posted about them yet - I promise to do it tomorrow!

Let's see, on Sunday night I made spaghetti for dinner and last night I made egg & cheese sandwiches - nothing exciting. Tonight I will be making a frozen pizza, mainly because I am in pain.

Why am I in pain? Because I am old! This morning while cuddling in bed with my daughter, I went to move and couldn't because I was lying on my hair (it's very long). So I turned my head while bringing my arm up to move the hair and simultaneously lifting my shoulders up and I pulled a muscle in my back. I felt a pop and then major pain and I just laid there moaning while my daughter is asking "What's wrong mommy?". I laid there assessing the damage and slowly moving each body part and the pain subsided a little and I was finally able to get out of the bed. This totally sucks! How old AM I that I pull a muscle moving my hair?! Ugh. Anyway, now I have a dull ache in the middle of my back and it hurts to move in certain ways, but I will live. I hope you are all having a better day than me!

Happy eating!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

White Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Swirl

My dear friend and neighbor J. invited us over for dinner Saturday night. My husband was immediately asking why she invited us, which honestly hadn't crossed my mind. I highly doubted she was going to ask us to sell Amway, but you never know... LOL Just kidding!

I asked what I could bring and she said dessert, and I just recently found this recipe for White Chocolate Cheesecake with Strawberry Swirl from Cuisine At Home, so I had to make it. Plus I had most of the ingredients already. I did make a few changes though; first, I had graham cracker crumbs so I used those instead of the chocolate wafer cookies, and second, raspberries were on sale and I already had raspberry jam so I used those instead of strawberries.


10 oz. fresh strawberries, hulled, quartered
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. strawberry preserves
juice of 1/2 lemon (or 1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice)
2 tbsp. water
2 tsp. cornstarch

7 chocolate wafer cookies, crumbled
3 whole graham crackers, crumbled
2 tbsp. sugar
pinch salt
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted (I used salted butter and omitted the pinch of salt)

For The Cheesecake:
8 oz. white chocolate, chopped
3 - 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, room temp
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup cold strawberry sauce

Process berries, sugar, preserves, and lemon juice for the sauce in a food processor until smooth. (I used a small bowl and my immersion blender.) Transfer to a saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth; whisk into berry mixture. Simmer to thicken slightly, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill until cold.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees with rack in the center. Coat a 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray. (I forgot to and it was fine.) Process the cookies, crackers, sugar and salt for crust in a food processor until fine. Add butter as machine is running. (I mixed about 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs with 3 tbsp. melted butter and 2 tbsp. sugar with a fork.) Pat crumbs onto bottom of pan.
Melt white chocolate for the cheesecake over a double boiler and set aside. (I used the microwave) Blend cream cheese and sugar until smooth, using a mixer and scraping the sides of the bowl periodically. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Blend in melted chocolate, vanilla, and lemon juice. Pour batter over crust, then drizzle with 1/4 cup of sauce. Swirl sauce into batter to create a marbled pattern with a toothpick. Place pan on a baking sheet and bake until edges are set and puffed but center is still jiggly, 60-80 minutes. DO NOT over bake. Turn off oven, crack door open with a wooden spoon, an cool cake in the oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool completely. Cover cake with a towel and chill overnight. Serve with remaining sauce.

This cake was SO delicious. There are a lot of ingredients and directions, but it wasn't hard to make.

Happy eating!

Friday, October 2, 2009


I love burritos, especially from Chipotle, where you get to tell them what you want inside of it. Mine are very good too, but I don't offer as many choices! Ha!


1/2 lb. ground beef
1 can refried beans
1 can petite diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 packet burrito seasonings
1 package burrito-size tortillas
1 package shredded Mexican-blend cheese
2-3 cups shredded lettuce
sour cream

Brown the ground beef and drain off the fat. Add the beans, tomatoes, and seasoning packet; stir well. Heat until bubbly, then reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spread desired amount of meat mixture on tortillas, top with lettuce, cheese, and sour cream. Roll up and eat!

If you heat the tortillas in a damp paper towel in the microwave for 20 seconds they will be less likely to tear. I know that one you gave me that tip and I can't remember who, but thanks again!

Well, Chicago did not win the Olympic bid. Whew! Thank goodness that is over. Unfortunately it is still the ONLY thing the newspeople can talk about it. Good to know there isn't ANYTHING else newsworthy going on in this big city.

I also want to say that although I can make and love pumpkin seeds, I have no idea how to actually cook the pumpkin meat itself. I don't like pumpkin, sorry Lissaloo! But I have heard that you can buy small-ish pumpkins, clean out the goo, take the meat out and turn it into soup, and then serve the soup inside the little pumpkins! How cool would that be?!

The meal plan for the coming week is: Chicken Parmesan, Tacos, Beef & Rice Fiesta, frozen pizza, Spaghetti & Breadsticks, Egg & Cheese Sandwiches, and (to bring as dessert to a dinner we were invited to) White Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Swirl.

Happy eating!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fancy Grilled Cheese

I love a good old-fashioned grilled cheese sandwich, but sometimes you need a little extra oomphf. So tonight I will make grilled cheese, but on rye bread, with tomato slices, and one slice each of american, cheddar, and swiss cheese. These are SO good you could serve them to company with a big pot of homemade soup. Everyone loves comfort food, after all. Unfortunately, I will not be making homemade soup tonight, Campbell's will have to do.

After cleaning the house today, I decorated it will all my Halloween decorations. It looks very festive in here - I love it! I can't wait to buy pumpkins and make pumpkin seeds, all my family and friends love my crispy, salty pumpkin seeds. I also love to carve the pumpkins and put them on the front porch. I try to buy at least 4-6 pumpkins - my husband thinks I'm crazy, but I only get to do it once a year! On Nov. 1st this will all come down and the Thanksgiving decorations will go up. Then on Nov. 28th the turkeys will come down and I give myself one week without ANY decorations before "decking the halls" for Christmas. By New Year's Day I am usually itching to take down all the decorations and get my house back to normal.

The news reports here are filled with talk about the Olympic bid that Chicago has in the ring for the 2016 games. A lot of people think this would be a good thing for Chicago, bringing jobs and a boost to our economy with all the tourists. However, our city is just as cash-strapped as every other city out there and most people are worried that Joe Taxpayer is going to end up footing the bill. Plus, it is no secret that crime, mostly from gangs, is a major problem here - especially on the south side where they want to hold most of the events. I personally hope we don't get them. Is there anyone out there who lived in or near a host city for any other Olympic games? Atlanta, perhaps? I would love to hear how it affected your daily life (and tax bill).

Happy eating!