Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mexican Lasagna

We love tex-mex food around here and this recipe was awesome! I got it from the cookbook my daughter's preschool put together in 2008. The only things I changed were the amounts of sour cream and salsa - I used WAY more than the recipe calls for! Oh, and I omitted the cilantro (cilantro and I do not get along).


1 lb. lean ground beef
1 pkg. taco seasonings
3/4 cup water
2 green onions, finely chopped, divided
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped, divided
juice from 1 lime
12-15 corn tortillas, taco size
1 cup salsa
3 cups shredded Mexican-blend cheese
1 cup sour cream
2 roma tomatoes, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large saucepan brown the ground beef, drain off fat. Stir in taco seasoning, water, half green onion, half cilantro and lime juice. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Line the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish with some of the tortillas (4-5 should do). Spread some of the sour cream over the tortillas and sprinkle with a generous amount of cheese. Add half the ground beef, layer with some salsa and then sprinkle with more cheese.

Add some more tortillas over the first layer. Spread some more sour cream over the tortillas and sprinkle with cheese. Add the remaining beef, then more salsa, then sprinkle with more cheese.

Add a final layer of tortillas. Spread some sour cream over the tortillas, layer with salsa, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover with tin foil and bake for 25-30 minutes. Let stand, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Top with remaining green onion, cilantro and tomatoes.

I tore some of the tortillas to fit in the holes and I think they were flour, not corn, tortillas. Reading the recipe you can see where I had to use more than just a measly cup of sour cream and salsa, right? Anyway, it was delicious and is definitely being put into heavy rotation around here!

Happy eating!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Al's Veggie-Cheese Subs with Olive Relish

Al's Beefs is almost as popular as Portillo's Beefs here in Chicago, and I have to say I prefer Portillo's beef sandwiches. However, Al's has a veggie-cheese sub sandwich that is SO good that I had to find a way to re-create them at home. I started by going to their website which lists the ingredients to the sub including olive relish. But of course they don't list the ingredients for the relish so I had to come up with it on my own. My husband and I have eaten many veggie-cheese subs at Al's, so I was pretty confidant that I could "taste" my way through the building of the recipe for it.

I started by Google-ing olive relish and found one that sounded good and started there. The following is the Al's veggie-cheese sub recipe and following is my version of the olive relish that goes on it.


1 - 6" cut of french bread
2 slices American cheese
1 slice Provolone cheese
olive relish
tomato slices
thin sliced red onion
roasted red peppers (from a jar)

Spread a thin layer of mayo on the entire inside of the roll. Spoon a generous amount of the olive relish on one side of the roll. Cover the inside of the roll with the 2 American cheese slices, put the Provolone in the middle. Then pile in your lettuce, tomato, red onion and roasted red pepper; choose how much of each according to your taste.

8 black olives
6 kalamata olives
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp. each salt & pepper
1 shallot, minced
1 roasted red pepper (from a jar), diced
splash of red pepper juice from jar
3 large fresh basil leaves, chopped

In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, splash of red pepper juice, salt & pepper; set aside. Chop the olives into small pieces. Add to the vinegar mixture along with the red pepper, shallot and basil. Mix well and let sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours to let flavors blend before using.

You can use your own homemade roasted red peppers if you wish; I used to make my own, but the jarred variety aren't bad and are much easier. Plus I use the juice in this recipe, as well as others. (Keep it in the fridge or keep it even longer in the freezer for your next batch of potato salad or pasta sauce.) I am also lucky enough to have an olive bar at the local grocery store where I can pick up exactly 6 kalamata olives, I hope you are too.

I would also like to send out a WELCOME HOME to my neighbor's daughter K. who just came home from the hospital this past week. She was born at 26 weeks back in April and has beaten all the odds and has come home a very healthy little 6 lb. bundle of joy just before her actual due date! Congrats to my neighbors, J. & J.; little K. is just beautiful!

School starts in a month! Ack!

Happy eating!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mexican Beef & Bean Casserole with Tomato Corn Salad

Last week when I was looking at recipes for the stuffed peppers I checked out the one in my Betty Crocker cookbook. On the adjoining page this recipe, which sounded easy and yummy, caught my eye. Of course, I had to to have some veggies to go with it and I remembered recently cutting out a veggie salad recipe from Gourmet magazine. It was great with the casserole and I would also consider bringing it as a side dish to a barbeque.


1 lb. lean ground beef
2 cans pinto or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 - 8oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 cup thick and chunky salsa
1 tsp. chili powder
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cook beef in a medium saucepan over medium heat 8-10 minutes, breaking up meat into small pieces, until brown; drain off fat. Mix in beans, tomato sauce, salsa and chili powder in ungreased 2 qt. casserole dish. Cover and bake 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through baking. Sprinkle with cheese and put back in oven, uncovered, until cheese is melted.

I only used one can of red beans, I think two cans might be too much. Also, I used Cheddar cheese ILO Mont. Jack, and I used 4 tsp. of chili powder for extra flavor. I think this would also be delicious in a tortilla with lettuce and tomato or as a dip with tortilla chips.


salt & pepper
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1 1/4 lbs. tomatoes, cut into bite size pieces
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped, keeping the white and green parts separate
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 8 ears)

Whisk together oil, vinegar, 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Toss tomatoes with dressing. While tomatoes marinate, cook white parts of scallions in butter with 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 4 minutes. Add corn and saute until just tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool. When corn is room temp, add to tomatoes and toss with green scallions.

I used frozen corn that I had thawed, but I'm sure fresh would be awesome, just more work than I wanted to do. Also, I used rice vinegar because I was out of cider vinegar, and I used a whole tablespoon, not just a teaspoon. This was delicious eaten right after I made it, but it did not do well in the fridge. The next day the tomatoes were mealy and mushy and unpleasant to eat.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My Mother's Day Gift / Stuffed Peppers

No, I didn't get stuffed peppers for Mother's Day! LOL

I received, among other things, the The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook - Every recipe from 10 years of the hit TV show with product ratings and a look behind the scenes. Not to be sacrilegious but this is my new bible. Before each recipe is a little story of what they were trying to achieve as far as taste, ingredients, authenticity and ease of preparation. There are also notes throughout the book on techniques such as brining, use of fond, how to flambe, and more. And at the end are all their favorite products, both food and utensil, from mustard to bread to cheese to vinegar, from skillets to spatulas to food processors to ice cream makers. I LOVE THIS BOOK!

Plus, it has recipes on everything from pastas to steaks to cookies to diner food and everything else in between. But the main reason I love it is because these people have tried everything over and over and are handing me the results so I don't have to do all the guess work myself. That is the gift of time and time is priceless.

So, tonight I made their stuffed peppers recipe, with a few small changes that I will tell you about at the end.

STUFFED PEPPERS from America's Test Kitchen

table salt
4 medium bell peppers, 1/2 inch trimmed off tops, cores and seeds discarded
1/2 cup long grain rice
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
12 oz. ground beef (80/20)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 - 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained, 1/4 cup juice reserved
1 1/4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 tbsp. parsley leaves, chopped
ground black pepper
1/4 cup ketchup

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large stockpot over high heat. Add 1 tbsp. salt and the bell peppers. Cook until just soft, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the peppers from the pot, drain off the excess water, and place the peppers cut side up on paper towels. Return the water to a boil; add the rice and boil until tender, about 13 minutes. Drain the rice and transfer to a large bowl; set aside.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking the beef into small pieces with a spoon, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to the bowl with the rice; stir in the tomatoes, 1 cup of the cheese, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Stir together the ketchup and the reserved tomato juice in a small bowl.

Place the peppers, cut side up, in a 9-inch square baking dish. Using a soup spoon, divide the filling evenly among the peppers. Spoon 2 tbsp. of the ketchup mixture over each filled pepper and sprinkle with 1 tbsp. of the remaining cheese. Bake until the cheese is browned and the filling is heated through, 25-30 minutes. Serve immediately.

I did not have the diced tomatoes on hand, so I poured an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce into the mix. Also, I had shredded Cheddar instead of Mont.Jack and I omitted the parsley. Also, I used my rice cooker to cook the rice, and I did not make the ketchup sauce, I used a can of Hunt's Spaghetti Sauce (which is basically seasoned tomato sauce) and poured it all over the peppers and around them. We like a lot of sauce and it is terrific over the mashed potatoes I made to go with the peppers. I peeled a 3 pound bag of Yukon Gold potatoes, cut them into small pieces and simmered them for 20 minutes. Then I mashed them with a stick of butter and 3/4 cup half-n-half and salt to taste. YUM! I probably could have just spread them on my thighs, but they taste SO good.

Happy eating!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Starting Over

The end of the school year/start of summer really threw me for a loop. There was so much going on and a new schedule to get used to and the fact that I have had my nose in a book and I "lost" the laptop - let's just say it's taken me awhile to adjust.

Plus I have not been in the mood to sit and type, and I have also been making the same old things for dinner lately which gives me nothing new to type about. But I miss blogging and I miss reading everybody's blogs (although I am unapologetic about shortening my reading list and I am not going to be as obsessive about leaving a comment on everything as I have in the past).

Many of you know my love of reading and I have been trying to read one classic novel in between reading the chick-lit/mommy-lit in which I love to indulge. I have read Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith, and I am currently reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. My next classic book will be To Kill A Mockingbird by Nelle Harper Lee. I know that most of us were forced to read at least one or two classic novels in high school or college, but I am really able to appreciate them now and I am really enjoying them. Do you have a favorite to recommend?

I will be trying a few new recipes next week, but this week is all old fare. The rest of this week's menu is: Porcupine Meatballs, Burritos, Caprese Sandwiches, and Veggie Pitas. Next week's menu is: Popcorn Chicken with Mashed Potatoes, Pizza Margherita on the grill, Little Italy Sausage Burgers (new), Homemade Stuffed Peppers (new), Mexican Beef & Bean Casserole with Tomato/Corn Salad (new), Spaghetti & Garlic Toast, and Chicken Fajitas with Rice (new). If you are interested in any of the old recipes you can find them by typing in the key words in Search This Blog which is located at the very bottom of my blog page.

I hope you are all having a lovely summer and I look forward to catching up with you all.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sourdough Starter & Stuffed Poblanos

About a month ago I made a sourdough starter, has anyone else ever done this? I have been feeding it a little sugar once a week and it smells pleasantly sour, but it keeps separating and I don't know if that is normal. The top part is a liquid and the bottom part is dough-like. Is it supposed to be this way? When I feed it I mix it back together with a wood spoon, but it always separates again.

We installed a patio in our backyard! Boy, was it a LOT of work, but it looks great and I can't wait to get a table and chairs for it so we can eat out there. It's in the back left corner of our yard, raised up slightly, 16x16 red patio stones with a plant border along one side. There used to be a big pine tree there, but we didn't like the mess the pine needles made or how shady it made our garden which made it hard to grow anything.

I would like to ask for your prayers for my neighbor J. and her new little baby girl K. who was born very early at 26 weeks. Little K. is now 29 weeks old and is doing great for someone so small, but she still needs all our prayers for continued growth and healthiness. Go baby K! In other baby news, my cousin Z. and his fiance E. had a baby girl too, and I would like to offer my congrats to the new parents and to the new grandma who is also my wonderful Aunt K. Sugar and spice, and everything nice indeed!

Last night we had leftovers for dinner and tonight I will be making Stuffed Shells. But for now I would like to share my Stuffed Poblanos recipe with you, it was so good! I had never had them before and I really liked them. I copied this recipe out of a book, but I can't remember which one. Also, I only made half this recipe since I knew only my husband and I would be eating them.


1 - 28oz. can whole peeled tomatoes in juice
1 jalapeno chile, minced (ribs and seeds removed for less heat if desired)
2 small onions, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves; 2 crushed and 1 minced
salt & pepper
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup shredded pepper-jack cheese
1 tsp. cumin
3/4 cup water
4 large poblano chiles, halved lengthwise (stems left intact), ribs and seeds removed

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a blender, puree tomatoes along with their juice, jalapeno, half the onions, and the crushed garlic until smooth; season with salt. Pour sauce into a 9x13 baking dish and spread to cover evenly.
In a bowl, combine beans, cornmeal, 1/2 cup cheese, remaining onion, minced garlic, cumin, and the water; season with salt and pepper.
Dividing evenly, stuff poblano halves with bean mixture; place on top of sauce in baking dish. Sprinkle poblanos evenly with remaining cheese; cover dish tightly with aluminum foil.
Bake for about 45 minutes. Uncover, and continue baking until sauce thickens slightly and cheese is browned, 10-15 minutes more. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

I served them with a big green salad on the side. Oh, and I also did not use a blender (I hate washing my blender!); I just bought petite diced tomatoes instead of whole, put it in a bowl, and used my potato masher to combine it all. My sauce was not a smooth as the recipe calls for, but it was still great.

Happy eating!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

...and we're back!

Hello all! Did ya miss me? I have missed you all! It has taken me much longer than I thought it would to visit all of your blogs and go back and read all the older posts, but it was worth it. And I have even gained a few new followers to whom I would like to say "hello and welcome" to Kayla, Holly, and Heide. Also, Mrs. Crumb was sad that my email address does not appear when I post a comment to her blog, so here it is: Please feel free to send me a note, if you are so inclined (and please be nice).

A lot has happened since I last posted here almost a month ago, but nothing earth-shattering, so I am just going to continue along as though I wasn't gone. I will, however, share the new recipes I tried while I was "away" and the first one is Warm Black Bean Salad. Over spring break my wonderful Aunt K. took us to Rainforest Cafe, my daughters favorite restaurant. I got the chicken chimmichanga (or something like that) and it came with a delicious warm black bean side dish that I just had to re-create at home... and here is what I came up with.


1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can corn, drained
1 can petite diced tomatoes with chiles, NOT drained (I use Red Gold Zesty)
1 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced (I use my garlic press)
salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Heat over medium-high until warmed through. Serve with a dollop of sour cream on top if you feeling sassy!

This is so easy and so yummy and pretty good for you too!

Tonight I am making Meatball Burgers. The meal plan for the following week is: leftovers, Dirty Rice, frozen pizza, Stuffed Shells, Steakhouse Cheeseburgers (new!), and Hot Dogs with Baked Beans. Some recipes I tried while I was gone and will post here soon are: Apple Dumpling Casserole and Stuffed Poblanos.

Many more recipes to come, glad to be back.

Happy eating!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Please stand-by...

...we are experiencing technical difficulties.

We are having problems with wi-fi on the laptop and I am using DIAL-UP to post this. Do any of you remember how s.....l.....o.....w dial-up is? Ugh. Sorry all, but I won't be posting again until we are back up and running. I will try to read your blogs and maybe even post a comment or two. Just wanted to let you all know I am okay (if you were wondering). :)

Happy eating!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Taco Casserole

Today I made the Creamy Chicken Soup that I made a few weeks ago - so good! I just had to make it again before the cold weather is completely gone and we don't want soup anymore. Once again I paired it with cornbread on the side.

On Saturday I made Taco Casserole and last night I made Cheesy Hamburger Hash. Also planned for this week are Toasted Ravioli, frozen pizza, Fish Sticks & Curly Fries, and leftovers.

I was searching my posts, looking for the Taco Casserole recipe so I could add a link to this post, and then I realized that I have not ever posted it! So here ya go:


1 lb. ground beef
1 - 15oz. can spicy chili beans, undrained
1 cup salsa
1 pkg. taco seasonings
2 cups coarsely broken tortilla chips
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 large tomato, diced
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, brown ground beef, drain fat. Stir in beans, salsa and taco seasonings. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. In a 2 quart casserole dish, place chips. Top with beef. Spread on the sour cream. Sprinkle with the onions and tomato. Cover with cheese. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes.

Yum! I still can't believe I never posted this recipe before. We love tex-mex food and this a nice alternative. Have a great week!

Happy eating!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Corned Beef & Cabbage - Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Here in Chicago most people are Irish by blood, but on St. Patrick's Day ALL of us are Irish! I am not Irish by blood, but my husband is - his great-grandfather's last name was Harrington. Around here the name Harrington is synonymous with corned beef because of Harrington's Deli, but we are not related to them. We live pretty close to the deli and have been there for sandwiches, but today you can't get near the place! There was an article in the Chicago Suntimes last week that said corned beef and cabbage is NOT a traditional Irish meal, yet it is what pretty much everyone (including us) will be eating today.

I got this recipe from the Chicago Suntimes Food Section years ago. My mom always made corned beef on St. Patrick's day, but she would boil everything on the stovetop which requires lots of really big pots and constant supervision - this way is much easier. So while my slow cooker works I'll be listening to my favorite Irish music; U2 and The Cranberries! LOL :)


1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 - 3 lb. flat cut corned beef brisket, with seasoning packet
2 cups baby carrots
1 head green cabbage, cored and quartered
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Place onion and garlic in bottom of 6 quart (or bigger) slow cooker, then put in cabbage. Place corned beef on top of cabbage then add the carrots. Sprinkle with the seasoning packet and pepper. Pour in enough water to just cover the meat. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low heat for 8 hours. Remove meat from slow cooker and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with the cabbage and carrots, discard the onion.

I will also be boiling some red potatoes to serve with this meal; potatoes are a very Irish food. I will also have spicy mustard and rye bread on the table, as my husband prefers to make a sandwich out of his corned beef. Oh, and don't forget the Guinness beer!

Yesterday my daughter was very excited when I picked her up from school - leprechauns had been in the kindergarten classroom! The class had gone outside for a short recess with their teacher, and when they returned to the classroom there were green streamers and gold doubloons everywhere and chairs were knocked over and books on the floor - chaos! Then they made leprechaun finders, which are cardboard toilet paper rolls decorated with shamrocks and covered at one end with green cellophane. When you peer through this device you can see them if you have a quick eye (and a good imagination). :)

Happy eating!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Egg Salad

Can you believe that I have never had egg salad? Today I made it for the first time and I will eat it tomorrow for the first time. The recipe says to let it sit in the fridge overnight before eating it, but I did lick the spoon after mixing it and it tastes wonderful! I got the recipe from and you can get it here or just keep reading. I read some of the reviews and changed it a little based on the comments and based on what I know I like, so this my version.


8 hard boiled eggs, chopped
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. mustard powder
3 tbsp. onion, finely minced
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dill weed
1/3 cup celery stalks (& some leaves), finely diced
1/4 tsp. paprika

In a bowl, gently mix all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

I have heard that celery leaves have good flavor and my mom always threw some in her dishes, so I do it too. Has anyone actually eaten the leaves to see what they taste like? I will have to try it next time I cut up celery! :)

Today I was doing some shopping at Target and needed mayo. I usually buy Kraft in the squeeze bottle unless something else is on sale. At Jewel (our big chain grocery store) the mayo prices are unbelievably high, even for the store brand. Anyway, I found the aisle and scanned the shelves prices and reached for the 24 oz. bottle which was priced at $2.54. I looked up slightly at the 18 oz. bottle and noticed that the price for that one was $2.89! Can you believe that? The smaller bottle cost MORE than the big bottle! Very strange. But it just goes to show that we should all pay attention to what we are buying.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

(Un)Stuffed Peppers Casserole

I'd like to start by saying that (sadly) the cube steak sandwiches were not a big hit. I thought they were pretty good, but not great. The flavor was good and it was worth the effort to butter and toast the rolls, but the meat was too chewy for my liking. My husband didn't even finish his sandwich. As one reader commented, it seemed like an alarming amount of Worcestershire sauce, but I think the butter mellowed it out. Like I said, I liked the flavor, but maybe I will try a more tender cut of meat for this recipe. Another reader commented that they liked cube steak for breakfast; is this a chewy meat or did I do something wrong? I've never used cube steak in a recipe before this.

Tonight's dinner recipe came from Tasty Kitchen by SmilingCountryRanch. We love stuffed peppers, especially the frozen ones from Stouffer's. I have never actually made homemade stuffed peppers, but it's on my list of things to try. In the meantime though this will have to do. :)


1 lb. ground beef
1/3 cup diced onion
1 cup crushed tomatoes (undrained)
1/3 cup white rice, uncooked
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 cup water
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On the stovetop in an oven safe skillet, brown meat with onion; drain grease. Stir in tomatoes, rice, Worcestershire, basil, water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 18-20 minutes until rice is tender. Stir in peppers and half the cheese, then top with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
NOTE: If not using an oven-safe skillet, prepare rice mixture in a saucepan and then pour into a casserole dish before baking in the oven.

I forgot to buy crushed tomatoes, but I had diced, so I used those instead and 'crushed' them with my immersion blender. I also do not have a cast iron skillet, so I used my oval cast iron dutch oven. This was really good! But I missed the tomato sauce that comes on the side of stuffed peppers, so maybe I will make some on the side the next time I make this dish.

The meal plan for next week has nothing new except for my recipe for making Corned Beef & Cabbage for St. Patrick's Day, which is really easy and is done in the slow cooker. I still have to make the fish sticks, chicken picatta and breakfast from last weeks meal plan, and the other ideas for next week are frozen pizza, spaghetti, tacos, and veggie pitas. We are on a tight budget and these are cheap meals! I love that line from the car insurance commercial "there is no budge in my budget". :)

Happy eating!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cube Steak Sandwiches

Two of my favorite new blogs are The Pioneer Woman, and the recipe sharing blog she started, Tasty Kitchen. I discovered Ree after checking her cookbook out from my library and I really love her writing style and photography, as well as her recipes. This recipe sounds really good to me, but I am not sure what my husband (who has to be the only man alive who doesn't love steak) will think of it. Just to clarify, he doesn't hate steak, he would just prefer a ground meat instead. I, on the other hand, could eat filet mignon everyday. Anyway, here is Ree's recipe or you can click here for her printable version.


1 large (or 2 small) onions
2 sticks butter (lots and lots of butter)
2-3 lbs. cube steak (tenderized round steak that's been extra tenderized)
Lawry's seasoned salt
1/2 cup worcestershire sauce
tabasco sauce, to taste
4 whole French/deli rolls (earthgrains are best)

Slice onions and cook in 1/4 stick butter until soft and light brown. Remove and set aside. Slice cube steak against the grain. Season with Lawry's. Heat 2 tbsp. butter over high heat (in same skillet) until melted and beginning to brown. Add meat in a single layer. Cook one side until brown, then flip and cook until brown, about a minute on both sides. Add 1/2 cup (at least) worcestershire sauce, 5-6 shakes of tabasco, and 2 tbsp. butter. Add cooked onions. Stir to combine. Butter halved French rolls and brown in skillet. To assemble, lay bottom half of French roll on plate. Place meat mixture on roll, followed by a spoonful of juice from the pan. Top with other half of roll , cut in half, and devour!

Doesn't that sound good? Not very good for you (all that butter brings Paula Deen to mind), but delicious, no? :)

By the way, those Meatball Burgers I made last week were GREAT! I highly recommend them and will be adding them to our regular rotation!

Happy eating!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Best (Sour Cream) Cheesecake Ever

On Sunday I made Alton Brown's Good Eats Sour Cream Cheesecake recipe and it was SO VERY DELICIOUS!!! My dad, who is 72 and has eaten a lot of cheesecake, said it was the best he has ever tasted. Wow! This cheesecake is moist and rich and creamy; it is the complete opposite of New York style cheesecake which is dryer and tighter (and which I really don't like). In fact the very first cheesecake I ever tasted eons ago was a New York style, and being young and dumb I didn't know that cheesecake could be different, so I thought I hated cheesecake for a long time. Silly girl! You can click on the link to Mr. Brown's original recipe, or you can just keep reading for his wonderful recipe which I changed only slightly so I could use my springform pan.


4 tbsp. butter, melted
1 sleeve graham crackers
1 tbsp. sugar

1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 - 8oz. pkgs. cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Crush the graham crackers in a ziploc bag until very fine. Add sugar to bag, seal, and shake well. Pour crumbs into a small bowl, add butter, and mix well with a fork. Pour crumb mixture into a 9" springform pan and press crust into bottom. (Press with the bottom of a glass tumbler for smooth results.) Bake crust for 15 minutes, then let cool for 10 minutes before filling.

Reduce oven tempurature to 250 degrees.
Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a kettle.

Combine the vanilla, eggs, egg yolks, and cream in a small bowl; set aside.
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese with the sugar for 1 minute on low speed. Scrape down the bowl, add the sour cream and mix on low speed for another 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl again, boost the speed to medium, and beat until lump free, 2-3 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the egg mixture, stopping every now and then to scrape down the bowl. When the mixture is homogenous, pour the filling into the cooled crust.

Using extra-wide tin foil, tear off a square piece and place the springform pan in the middle. Wrap the tin foil up the sides of the pan so no water can get in it. Place a kitchen towel inside a roasting pan, then place the springform pan in the middle and place the whole thing in the oven. Pour the boiling water carefully into the roasting pan until it is 1 1/2 inches up the side of the springform pan.

Bake for 2 hours, then kill the heat. Open the oven door for 1 minute, then close it and keep it closed for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and refrigerate it for at least 6 hours before serving. (Let the water bath cool completely before removing it from the oven.) To serve, release springform side and gently run a butter knife around the edges before lifting side off. Cut slices with the longest, thinnest knife you have, wiping it with a hot, wet paper towel between slices.

The only difference is the crust. I honestly don't why you wouldn't use a springform pan if you have one, it is so much easier.

Last night for dinner I made cheese enchiladas and the night before that I made baked potato soup. Tonight we are having leftovers. The meal plan for the coming week is: frozen pizza (always), Breakfast, Hot Dogs with Tater Tots and Baked Beans, Chicken Picatta with Pasta Salad, Un-Stuffed Peppers (NEW), and Cube Steak Sandwiches (NEW).

My dad came over the other day and brought us 7 boxes of Girl Scout cookies. My mom was my troop leader, along with my best friend D's mom, from the first grade all the way until our senior year of high school. My dad likes to honor her by buying two of every type of cookie they sell each spring, of which he gives us one of each. I have eaten an entire box of Samoas in 3 days! Yikes! I hope I fit into my outfit for the baby shower I have to go to on Sunday. When we were in high school in G.S. we sold cookies at O'hare airport (can't do that now!) and we raised enough money to take a 4 day cruise to the Bahamas on the Carnival cruise-line the summer after we graduated. What great memories!

One of my favorite blogs This Stop Willoughby has opened and Etsy store The Cabbage Rose. Please check out her blog for a great giveaway, and her store for some awesome merchandise!

Happy eating!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Preacher's Delight

This casserole is from the book Cook's Country Best Lost Suppers and it is delicious! I cut this recipe in half, but I will post it here in all it's full ingredient glory. It says it serves 6-8, but I think it would be more like 8-10. Like I said, I only made half and my husband and I each had 2 helpings and we had half the casserole left! Maybe we eat little portions?

1 - 12oz. pkg. egg noodles
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
2 - 15oz. cans tomato sauce
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 - 8oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13x9 baking dish; set aside. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven. Add noodles and 1 tbsp. salt; cook, stirring often, until just shy of al dente. Drain noodles; set aside.
Wipe pot dry. Add oil to pot; return to medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and bell pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (5-7 minutes). Add beef; increase heat to medium high and cook, breaking up any large clumps with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink (about 5 minutes). Stir in tomato sauce, sugar, 1 tsp. salt, and pepper. Bring to simmer; set aside off heat.
Mix cream cheese and sour cream together in a bowl. Spread half of meat sauce over bottom of prepared baking dish. Scatter noodles over sauce in an even layer. Drop dollops of cream cheese mixture on top of noodles; spread mixture into even thickness. Spoon remaining meat sauce over cream cheese mixture, sprinkle evenly with cheese.
Place baking dish on foil-lined rimmed baking sheet; bake until sauce is bubbling and top starts to brown, 25-30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

I used two separate pots for the meat and noodles (to cook simultaneously) so the meal was ready faster, and I also used more shredded cheese on top. We really liked this and the leftovers were fantastic - I will definitely make this again!

Awhile ago, my husband and I started a list of people we want to kick off the island. You know, people to who we would like to say "just go away, already" and it includes Paris Hilton, Heidi & Spencer Pratt, Rod Blagojevich, Drew Peterson, Kelly Ripa, Madonna, John Mayer, the entire cast of The Hills, Puff Daddy or P.Diddy or whatever he is calling himself these days, The Olsen twins, Miley Cyrus, The Kardashians, and Justin Timberlake. Today I would like to add Russell Brand and the entire cast of Jersey Shore. Who would you add to the list?

Happy eating!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Meatball Burgers

I got this recipe from Everyday With Rachel Ray magazine. I'll type it as it is in the mag, but of course I will make some changes to it and I'll list those at the end. We love meatballs and meatball subs, but those can be time consuming to make, rounding all the balls, sauteing them, cooking them - ugh. I like that I just form these into four patties and cook 'em. Yea!


1 1/2 lbs. ground beef, pork, veal mix
2/3 cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup grated percorino-romano cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp. grated onion
a splash of whole milk
1/2 tbsp. rubbed or ground sage
fresh nutmeg
salt & pepper
extra virgin olive oil
8 deli slices provolone cheese
1 - 15oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes
a few leaves fresh basil, torn
a pinch dried oregano or marjoram
4 ciabatta rolls or 1/4 large ciabatta loaf, split and warmed or toasted

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or griddle pan over medium-high heat. In a large bowl, combine the meat, breadcrumbs, parsley, pecorino-romano, egg, garlic, onion, milk and sage; season with nutmeg, salt and lots of pepper; mix well. Form into 4 patties (thinner at the center and thicker at the edges for even cooking).
Drizzle the burgers all over with a liberal amount of EVOO. Place in the hot skillet and cook, turning once, for 10 minutes. Top each burger with 2 slices of provolone and tent with foil to melt.
While the burgers are working, in a medium saucepan, heat the tomatoes. Stir in the basil and oregano; season with salt & pepper.
Place the burgers on the roll bottoms, them top with the sauce and roll tops.

Okay, first I could only find meatloaf mix with beef & pork (no veal), and I only bought 1 lb., so I'll use a little less of the breadcrumbs, etc. Also, I (sadly) do not own a cast-iron skillet (I am asking for one for Mother's Day), so I will use my regular skillet. I will also use dried basil instead of fresh for the sauce. I guess I am not making that many changes after all. :) Anyway, I am making these tonight and I am sure they will be awesome!

Happy eating!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Taco Pasta

Tonight my husband chose for us to have Taco Pasta for dinner (last night I chose Chicken Kievs). I got this recipe from Everyday With Rachel Ray magazine. I have learned from experience that I do not always like the seasonings she uses in her dishes, so I will list my changes at the end.

1 lb. penne rigata
1 tbsp. EVOO
1 lb. ground beef sirloin
1 large onion, chopped
1 large jalapeno, halved, seeded if desired, and thinly sliced crosswise
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 12oz. bottle of beer or 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 cups shredded cheddar or any mexican style blend cheese
2 small plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 head iceburg lettuce, chopped

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat EVOO over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add 3/4 of the onion, the jalapeno, garlic, chili powder, coriander, and cumin; season with salt & pepper. Cook until the onion is soft, 6-7 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste for 1 minute, then stir in the beer.
Add the meat mixture to the pasta and stir well. Spoon into serving dish, top with cheese and tent with foil to melt the cheese. Top with remaining onion, tomatoes and lettuce.

Here are my changes: I did not use any of the spices listed in the recipe and instead used a taco seasoning packet. I did not use ground sirloin and therefore did not need the olive oil. I used half beer and half chicken stock. I stirred the cheese into the meat mixture, and kept the lettuce and tomato on the side for each person to add themselves.

We really liked this! We love tex-mex dishes and this was something different but with the flavors we love. You could also serve it with sour cream and taco sauce on the side for people to customize their dinner.

My daughter went to a birthday party today which started at a nail salon for the girls to get manicures and then moved to the birthday girls house for pizza and cake and games. She had a really great time and her nails are adorable; light pink with tiny white daisies painted on alternate fingers. Cute, huh?

Happy eating!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Meal Plans - Something New (Finally)

Boy, I sure have been a slacker about posting here lately. The problem is that I have already shared most of my recipes with you all. I am going to try to post at least one new recipe a week, but I think my days of posting every day are over.

Last week was pretty uninspired (nothing new), meal-wise. We had Italian Beef Sandwiches, Egg & Cheese Sandwiches, Black Bean Chili, Pepperoni Pan Pizza, Chicken Quesadillas, and Spaghetti. You can find any of these recipes (if you are interested) by using the search box at the very bottom of this blog.

This coming week I have a few new recipes planned - hooray! My meal plan is: Fish Sticks with Curly Fries, Chicken Kievs with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Preacher's Delight Casserole (NEW), Meatball Burgers (NEW), Taco Pasta (NEW), frozen pizza (always), and Breakfast: Eggs, Home Fries, and Sausage.

I don't know about you, but we are ready for spring around here! I am tired of scarves and mittens and snow and colds. I want spring thunderstorms and rain boots and that fresh air smell wafting through my open windows! Is it April yet?

Happy eating!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars

My husband loves chocolate and peanut butter, separate or together, so my daughter and I made these for him as a Valentines Day gift. We celebrate the "holiday", but we do it in a low-key way, so these are perfect.


2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs*
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, melted
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 - 10oz. pkg. Nestle Toll House Swirled Milk Chocolate & Peanut Butter Morsels, divided
2 - 8oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine crumbs, butter, and 1/4 cup sugar in medium bowl with a fork. Remove 1 cup of this mixture and reserve for topping. Press remaining mixture into ungreased 13x9 baking pan. Sprinkle 3/4 cup morsels over crust.
Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar, flour, and vanilla in a large mixer bowl until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Pour evenly over crust and morsels in pan. Sprinkle with remaining morsels and remaining crumb mixture.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until set. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Refrigerate until firm. Cut into bars.

*You can make your own like we did by putting two sleeves of graham crackers in a gallon ziploc bag and taking your frustrations out on it with a meat mallet. My daughter was extremely happy to help with this task. :)

We made them this afternoon and they will spend the night in the fridge; they will be ready for having with our morning coffee! Tomorrow I will also make a brunch of cheese omelets and home fries and sausage, and for dinner I am making my Pepperoni Pan Pizzas. I don't know if the way to my husbands heart is through his stomach, but that is how I intend to get there! haha! I got my daughter a princess painting kit and some glittery headbands from us, and I helped her make some valentines for her daddy a few days ago. I have no idea what my husband got me. Hope your Valentines Day is sweet!

Happy eating!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Spaghetti Incident

Last night I decided to make spaghetti for dinner. I had a taste for it and was looking forward to the leftovers for lunches this week. The water was boiling, the sauce was bubbling and the breadsticks were in the oven. Then I opened the spaghetti box and slid it out into my hand and it looked... weird. Like it was marbled or something. It smelled okay, so I threw it in the water. But after about 5 minutes the spaghetti wasn't cooking normally. First of all, the noodles got soft unusually fast and they tended to break easily. Plus the water looked slick, almost oily, and the pasta wasn't absorbing the water. I have no idea what was wrong with it - have any of you experienced this? I dumped it all in the colander and then threw the pasta out and started fresh water to boil on the stove. As my husband was walking in the front door from work, I was yelling that we had a pasta emergency as I walked out the back door to go to the store for another box of spaghetti. By the time I got back my fresh water was boiling and we were eating 10 minutes later. Of course he thought I was crazy, but he knows not to mess with me when it comes to my food. (Especially THIS week.) :)

Tonight I made Chicago Style hot dogs, which are hot dogs on poppy seed buns with mustard, onion, tomato, pickle, relish, celery salt, and sport peppers. I don't use the sport peppers though, and my buns were seedless. I served the Aldi brand curly fries with an extra sprinkle of seasoned salt as a side and it was a great meal. You don't need a side salad because it's already on your hot dog! LOL

We got a few inches of snow this morning and it was the heavier kind that is a bitch to shovel, but great for snowballs and snowmen. I was Playground Mom today and I swear I had half the kids in time-out on the fence for throwing snowballs, which they are not allowed to do - school rule, not mine. They are generally good kids and I hate to punish them, but I can't be a push-over either.

Happy eating!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sour Cream Apple Pie

This is a recipe from the Christian Family Co-op Cookbook that I got last year when my daughter went to their pre-school. I will not give the lady's name here who submitted the recipe; I don't know if she would want her name listed publicly on a blog. I can say that she is a really great lady who has a very sweet daughter and it was a pleasure to get to know her through the co-op.

I made this yesterday with LOTS of help from my sous-chef/daughter. I made a few slight changes from the original; I added the lemon juice and used pecans instead of walnuts and I made my own crust.


Pillsbury Ready-Made Deep Dish Pie Crust (there are 2 in a box, you'll only need 1)
(Or make your own homemade crust)

Put pie crust in glass pie dish; this pie is very heavy, foil may be too weak. Do not pre-bake crust. (Unless you are making your own crust; then follow your crust recipe.)

5-6 Granny Smith apples
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all ingredients, except apples, in a large bowl; set aside. Peel, core and thinly slice apples. Add apples to sour cream mixture and stir well to coat. Pour gently into pie crust. Put dish on a baking sheet to catch drips, then bake for 30 minutes. Make the topping now.

1 cup minus 2 tbsp. flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
5 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)
3/4 cup butter, chilled and cubed

Mix all ingredients together, adding butter last. Spread over partially baked pie. (This makes A LOT of topping, but trust me, you want to get it all on there!) Place strips of aluminum foil around the edges of the pie crust to prevent burning. Bake pie another 30-40 minutes. Let sit one hour before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

This was SOOO good despite my tough homemade crust. It was my first attempt at making my own crust (because I forgot to buy one at the store), but it was still edible and actually tastes better today. The recipe looks a little complicated, but it was actually really easy - especially if you have an Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer from The Pampered Chef. I have no idea how much I paid for it many years ago, and I have only used it a handful of times, but it is indispensable for making any apple dessert! :)

Let's see, what have I been making for dinner lately? Wednesday was Nachos, Thursday was Pork Roast in which I used what was labeled as "boneless pork roast supreme" instead of a tenderloin and it was still great. On Friday we had Salisbury Steak and I added 1 fresh chopped onion, half to the patties and half to the sauce - yum! On Saturday and Sunday we had leftovers because after a week like that the fridge was full!

Tonight I am going to make Spaghetti. The meal plan for the rest of the week is: Chicago Style Hot Dogs, frozen pizza, Breakfast (eggs, potatoes, bacon), and Shepherds Pie. (I really will make the Shepherds Pie someday soon - really).

Happy eating!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Creamy Chicken Soup

And now, the recipe you've all been waiting for!!! Or not. But it's really yummy, so check it out anyway, won't ya? :)

This recipe is from Sandra Lee on the Food Network and I am typing it in verbatim. I will list the changes I made at the end.


1 store-bought roasted chicken
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrot
4 - 14oz. cans low-sodium chicken broth
2 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup with roasted garlic
2 tsp. fines herbs*
salt & pepper
2 cups egg noodles, cooked

Remove the skin from the chicken and shred the meat from the bone. Put the chicken into a slow cooker along with the onions, celery, and carrots. Stir in broth, mushroom soup, and fines herbs and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 8-9 hours.

When soup is finished, stir in egg noodles. Adjust seasonings and serve.

*Fines herbs are a classic blend of herbs that usually consists of chervil, parsley, chives, and tarragon. Fines herbs can be found pre-blended in the spice section of the grocery store.

I made 2 cups of rice in my rice cooker and added it in about half-way through the cooking time, instead of using egg noodles. I did not have Fines herbs so I used a 1/2 tsp. of tarragon and 1/2 tsp. of parsley (which I had in my cabinet), plus 2 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of pepper. I did not use roasted garlic mushroom soup so I added 1 tsp. of garlic powder as well. Also, I did not use 4 cans of chicken broth, I added 1 tsp. of chicken bouillon per cup of water to equal the amount of broth. At the end of the cooking time it tasted great, but I wanted it to be creamier so I made a roux with butter and flour (3 tbsp. each) and that thickened it right up! I served it with warm cornbread - yummmmmm!!!

On a completely different note, I got The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook from my library today and I can't put it down! I love this cookbook! I know that some of you follow her blog, but for some reason I never checked it out. I will become a follower now though! Her style of writing is clear and funny and makes you instantly want to be her friend. Also, her photographs are just awesome. I also recently read Confections Of A Closet Master Baker which is by Gesine Bullock-Prado , the sister of one of my favorite actresses Sandra Bullock (While You Were Sleeping, Speed, The Blind Side). Her book was more of a biography on how she became a baker, but also full of yummy sounding recipes that I photo-copied and can't wait to try. And now I can go to bed happy because I got to share two of my favorite things with all of you - food and books!

Happy eating!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cajun Chicken Sandwiches

Tonight I will be making cajun chicken sandwiches for dinner. I'll be sprinkling some chicken breasts that I have pounded thin with cajun seasonings and cook them in olive oil in a skillet. I will serve them on kaiser rolls with mayo, lettuce, and tomato with a side of macaroni and cheese. Easy and yummy! If I pound a thick breast very thin then I can get two sandwiches out of one breast and that means leftovers! I could slice some cold chicken into strips to top a salad for lunch, or dice it up and freeze it and use it in quesadillas in the future. I make my own cajun seasoning using a recipe from All Recipes (click on the link above) because it is so easy.

Tomorrow I will be making the Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup *NEW RECIPE* so be sure to check back for the recipe. I just KNOW this one will be delicious!

Happy eating!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Beef & Rice Fiesta Casserole

Coconuts are available at my local grocery store, year-round, for only $2. Good to know! The one I bought said that it was E-Z Open and had a scored line around it where, after draining out the milk inside by poking holes in the "eyes", you just tap it with a hammer and it breaks open. Wrong! I had to whack a screwdriver with a hammer really hard against that score to get the thing to open! Then you have to pry out the meat inside which was no picnic either. I am never volunteering to do anything with coconuts again. :)

Boy, I am really behind on posting meals, but I have not done anything new lately so I haven't felt inspired to post. Tonight we are having Beef & Rice Fiesta casserole, which is a recipe I got from my brother. Last night we had Dirty Rice and the night before that we had Chicken Kievs and the night before that we had Spaghetti. See? Nothing exciting. The meal plan for next week is Creamy Chicken Rice Soup (NEW), Pork Roast, Nachos, Salisbury Steak, and Cajun Chicken Sandwiches.

Kathy from Two Hands Full Of Daisies asked if there was another way to cook the Sausage, Sauerkraut and Potatoes from my last post instead of using a pressure cooker and I would suggest a slow cooker. If you try it, please let me know how it works out for you! Also, Cynthia from Crumbs In The Minivan asked if I had a substitute for the sauerkraut in the same meal and I have been thinking about it, but nothing really comes to me. Does anyone else out there have any ideas for her?

Happy eating!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sausage, Sauerkraut & Potatoes

Hello everyone! I can't believe it has been almost a week since I last posted. Whoops!

Today I took my daughter sledding after lunch and we had a blast! The sun is shining and it is just over 32 degrees, so the weather was perfect. The hill is in the park down the block (not too far to walk) and is steep enough and high enough to be fun, but not to steep or high to make climbing back up difficult. We were the only ones there and stayed for an hour. I thought I would be bored or freezing, but she was so cute about it all that she made me laugh and I even went down a couple of times with her, which she thought was hysterical. And seeing us both on the sled probably was pretty funny for anyone driving by who saw us. :)

Tonight for dinner I am going to make smoked sausage, sauerkraut and potatoes in my pressure cooker. This is only one of two meals (beef stew is the other) that I use the pressure cooker to make - I really should find more uses for the thing. It is a newer model that has a crappy knob on top for adjusting the steam. My mom had a really old one with a weight on top that would jiggle, but my dad won't give it to me because he uses it to make this meal himself. You can find my recipe here.

Last night I made cheeseburger meatloaf and tater tots; the night before that I made pepperoni pan pizzas. Tomorrow I will be making pork chops and spanish rice. I have been working on my grocery list already because I am going to be volunteering in my daughter's classroom tomorrow, so the meal plan for the next week is this: Porcupine Meatballs with Egg Noodles, Beef & Rice Fiesta Casserole, Chicken Kievs and Mashed Potatoes, Dirty Rice, Spaghetti with Garlic Toast, and a frozen pizza (always). Nothing fancy, but good warm meals for these cold January days.

If any of you are looking for something to do while you are trapped indoors by the cold weather, please go check out the book club I am in by clicking the link at the top right of this page. For the month of January we are reading Bittersweet Country by Elaine Long. I am on chapter 7 and it is a really good book! Next month we will be reading Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult; sure to be a great read too.

My daughter's class is having a Luau party next week and I (stupidly) volunteered to bring anything that was needed and the teacher asked me to bring a fresh, cut coconut. Where the heck am I gonna find a fresh coconut in Chicago in January?! And how the heck am I gonna cut one open?! Yikes. I was mumbling about my stupidity and my daughter overheard me and said "One of the boys brought a coconut to class for Secret Sack last week" (don't ask), but she can't remember his name. I am all set to call this kids mother and ask where she got it - as soon as I find out who he is. Again, wish me luck!

Happy eating!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

It's A Snow Day! Potato Corn Chowder & Chili Casserole

Okay, it isn't an official snow day; school IS open today (God only knows why), but I called my daughter in absent. I am NOT driving anywhere today. If she was taking her SAT's I'd take her, but this is half-day kindergarten. We have about 2 inches of snow on the ground now and it is supposed to keep snowing continuously until tomorrow morning and leave us with 10-13 inches! I am sure the streets are okay now, but what will they be like later when I would go to pick her up? I'll do some reading work with her here at home, thank you very much.

The last few dinner nights have not been exciting. On Sunday we ordered a capricciosa pizza, which is like bruschetta topping on a pizza crust covered with mozzarella cheese - it is SO good! On Monday night I made a frozen Tombstone Supreme pizza (yeah, we love pizza), and on Tuesday I made egg & cheese sandwiches.

Last night I made potato corn chowder and it was great! I think I got the recipe from Rachel Ray magazine, but I am not sure. The use of butter and heavy cream makes me think of Paula Deen, so maybe it's her recipe. Anyway, here it is:


1/4 cup butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 3lb. bag red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 - 14.5oz. cans chicken broth
1 - 10oz. bag frozen corn, thawed
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp. minced fresh thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 - 5oz. package shredded Swiss cheese
bread bowls, optional
garnish: fresh thyme sprig

In a large dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic; cook for 6-8 minutes or until veggies are tender. Add potatoes, broth, and corn; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Add cream, thyme, salt, and pepper; simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Add cheese, stirring until melted. Serve soup in bread bowls, and garnish with thyme sprig if desired.

Yum, yum, yum! It was delicious and perfect on a cold day, I only wish I'd thought to make some rolls to go with it. Oh well.

Tonight we are going to have Chili Casserole, I got this recipe from Tried & True Cooking With Heidi. She always has lots of quick and easy (and delicious) recipes on her blog. Go check it out if you haven't already! Here is her recipe:


1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 pkt. chili seasoning
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 cans pinto beans, drained
1 can sliced olives, drained
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup Frito corn chips

Brown ground beef and drain off fat. Add onion, chili seasoning, tomato sauce, and water. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. In a 2 quart casserole dish layer half the meat, beans, olives, and cheese. Repeat the layers ending with the corn chips and cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 5 minutes more or until crispy on top.

I will be using black beans instead of pinto, and a tablespoon or two of chili powder instead of the packet (because I forgot to buy one). I will also make some cornbread to go along with this tonight.

Well, I am going to go get some housework done and then bundle us up and shovel some snow! Have a great day!

Happy eating!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lots Of Good Things

The meatballs were good! Not as good as homemade, but good for only $5, plus I still have half the bag left. On Thursday we had Tombstone Garlic Bread Cheese frozen pizza, my daughter's favorite. On New Year's Day we had BLT's for dinner. I also made a Taco Dip and Lemon Chiffon Pie from Taste The Joy that day. My taco dip recipe is very basic: mix 8oz. cream cheese and 1 cup of sour cream with 1/2 packet of taco seasonings; spread in bottom of 9x9 dish. Top with 1 can chili, then with 1 package shredded cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 until cheese is melted. When it is done you can top it with chopped tomato, olives and green onion if you want to be fancy. :)

Yesterday morning I was in the mood to make cookies and I couldn't decide which to make so I made 3 kinds: Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Oatmeal, and Sugar Cookies. My daughter was a great little helper, she is getting so much better at listening and had a lot of fun putting sprinkles on the Sugar Cookies. After standing in the kitchen for so long I was tired so we went out to dinner. We used a gift card we got for Christmas to Outback Steakhouse - yum! I had the BBQ ribs and they were falling off the bone - so good!

The menu plan for this week is Shepherds Pie, Egg & Cheese Sandwiches, Potato Corn Chowder, Chili Casserole, Grilled Cheese & Soup, and (another) frozen pizza. I don't know what I'll be making tonight yet. I want to get the tree down today, it is bugging me. I took all the other Christmas decorations down 2 days after Christmas. I am not good with clutter. The outdoor lights can stay up until the next warm day I am available to take them down, but the indoor stuff has got to go. Anyone else anxious to get their house back to normal or am I the only one with OCD? :)

Happy eating!