Monday, June 30, 2008

Fast and Easy Veggie Skillet

I love summer food, especially the vegetables that are abundant and cheap. This is a little meal that I kind of pulled together at the last minute, but I had gone to the store that day and picked up all the vegetables. It's yummy and easy and you can basically use whatever vegetables you want. If you want you can even skip the pasta and add some grilled chicken or shrimp.

Easy Veggie Skillet

2-3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion (you can use the whole onion if you want)
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1/2 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 box penne or rotini pasta
1/2-1 cup Parmesean cheese

Dice up all the vegetables and saute them (all except the tomatoes) in the oil for about 5 minutes until they're soft. Add the tomatoes toward the end of the 5 minutes. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top and stir to coat the vegetables. Meanwhile cook pasta and drain. Preheat oven to 350. In a quart baking dish combine the cooked pasta and vegetables, sprinkle generously with Parmesean cheese (as much as you want) and stick it in the oven for about 20 minutes to warm everything up and melt the cheese.

Quick Bread

I purchased some chocolate chips for cheap yesterday from Aldi's and thought I'd put them to use today. I didn't want cookies though. I wanted a quick bread. I found one alright! It's quick to make and quite delicious.
A note: Do watch the cooking time. My pans were a bit smaller than called for so I expected a longer cooking time, but in fact both of my loaves were finished in 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.
Edited to add another note: after about 20 minutes, I had to cover the top with foil to prevent over-browning.
I chose to freeze one of the loaves so I'm interested to see how that turns out when we defrost and reheat it.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Something New (again)

So I did the meal planning, and it worked quite well, with unforseen additional benefits (besides my peace of mind). However, I'm trying something new already. I have read in a couple of different food threads on Danielle Bean's blog about wives who cook the same rotation of meals weekly. So we're going to try something of that variety over here.

Peter and I came up with a list of 14 main dishes that we really enjoy. So we have a set meal plan for two weeks at a time. I realize this really wouldn't appeal to some people, and it may turn out that we won't like it at all either. But I'm willing to give it a try. I'm hoping that it will making grocery shopping easier and less expensive. Plus I won't give up trying to plan meals because I can't come up with different ideas, etc.

Also, I may try some different side dish recipes or do a bit more baking with my extra time, but I don't have to feel obligated to, as long as I get a well-balanced dinner on the table. This is an adventure in the kitchen to be sure! I suppose we'll start this next week as the grocery shopping for this week is done.

I should mention that we'll be using a summer rotation of foods right now. I hope to change at least some of the main meals with each season, and of course for veggies, etc. we'll buy what's in season or on sale! Our list right now is also kind of loose, if you will. For example, I have chicken and rice for one night, but I could do a chicken broccoli rice casserole one week and chicken with pineapple and rice the next.

Do any of you guys do anything special for planning meals? How do you come up with your meals each week? Just curious.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Italian Omlettes

In our house the weekly grocery shopping is done on Monday evening. This week I forgot to buy any meat so now this weekend has found us scrounging for food. I was pretty proud of my Italian omlettes that I resourcefully pulled together tonight!

-4 eggs
-chopped onion
-diced tomato (I would've used fresh, but they aren't ripe yet! I had a can in the pantry.)
-fresh basil, chopped
-shredded parmesean

They were great! Unfortunately, it looks like we're down to spoonfuls of peanut butter for all our meals tomorrow... Kidding, kidding.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lemonicious Chicken

Lemonicious Chicken by Annie

You will need:
-Lemon Juice
-Minced Garlic
-Fresh Thyme (or dried)
-Bread Crumbs (seasoned or unseasoned)
-Olive Oil
-Salt & Peppah
-Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

Start with your melted butter in a bowl (about one Tbs) and 2-3 Tbs of lemon juice. Add in a sprinkling of bread crumbs to thicken it, about 3 cloves of minced garlic, and a good amount of fresh thyme. Salt and pepper the stuff as you go. If it's too dry, add a little bit of olive oil. Once it's a good marinade-ish consistency, roll your chicken breasts around in it and place them in a baking dish. You can dump the rest of the mixture on top, but add some more bread crumbs so it's thicker. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until the chicken is done. Sprinkle more fresh thyme on top before serving.

Yum yum!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Haha, oops...

Well, um, I didn't realize when I switched the template that all our lovely photos would be gone forever. Oopsey. Sorry.

So if you all would be so kind as to email me a picture once more that would be fabulous.

I'll save the pictures this time...or leave the template alone.

Key Lime Pie

OH I have a picture!!
We had limes that needed to be used + Kristine feels the need to bake SOMETHING at 10pm last night =

Key Lime Pie
Makes 1 9'' pie

1 & 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 TB unsalted butter, melted
1 TB sugar
2 TSP lime zest
4 egg yolks
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lime freshly squeezed key limes juice

preheat oven to 350. To make crust, combine graham crumbs, butter, sugar and zest in a bowl. Press into the bottom of a pie pan with spatuala. Bake 6-8 mins, remove and let cool completely.

very gently beat egg yolks with fork or whisk without beating air into them. stir in condensed milk unti blended. Stir in lime juice until it is smooth.

pour into pie pan and put the pie pan onto a cookie sheet. (like the way it is done in the photo) bake at 350 for 15 mins. remove, let cool and chill for several hour before serving.

My notes:
-I used regular limes. Mom says the only reason it's called Key Lime is because that was what was in the region when the pie was created.
-We didn't have graham crackers, but we did have regular pie crusts frozen. I baked one for 10 mins in the oven at 350. I forgot to poke holes in the crust. So I had to deflate the little air pockets that formed. No biggie. Must not forget next time.
-Since I didn't use lime zest in the crust, I used it in the actual custard. I found that one lime = about 1/4 cup of juice.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New Template?

You might have noticed a template change around here. I'm not leaving it at this one, but I got lazy right after I picked this one. If any of you other cookin' ladies finds a template you'd like to use, let me know. I just got sick of the old one. I'll keep looking too.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


wow, I've been gone so long I think I forget how to do this whole thing...

Tonight we had the BEST ribs. The kind of ribs that you can't pick up in one piece. The kind of ribs that require no struggle to get the meat off the bone. The kind of ribs that look like this when you're through:

They were probably the best ribs I've ever had in my whole entire life. Dad got the recipe from a pharmaceutical rep, and now I pass it on to you...

(we had about three pounds of baby back ribs, which generally have the most meat and least fat)

1. Rub ribs in Emeril's rib rub and brown sugar. Lay in pan.
2. Pour Coca-Cola over ribs; we used three cans. The Coke was about 1/2 in thick in the pan.
3. Cover pan with foil; bake at 250 for four hours.
4. Take out of oven and cover with favorite BBQ sauce; back in oven for 30 minutes (we only covered the pan partially with foil this time)
5. Remove from oven; Let sit for 10-15 minutes on the counter, then cover with more BBQ sauce and place on hot grill (indirect heat) for 5 minutes. It'll be hard to get them off the grill-- Dad had to use a spatula because they just fell apart.

Mmm, mmm!
(I said "we," throughout the recipe... but it was really just my Dad. Thanks, Dad!)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Black Bean Brownies - Don't Skip This Post...

Um. Can I say I am blown away? My mom, the skeptic, is also blown away.
I don't have any pictures, they got eaten too fast at work, but they look like regular, DARK brownies. Very soft and gooey. Rather fudge like in appearance and taste really.

Seriously you guys, these are amazing. I think it's the little bit of coffee graunales that really brings out the chocolate flavor. I used unsweetened chocolate like the recipe calls for. Actually, I pretty much did the recipe to a T, I just cut it in half otherwise you'll get 45 brownies and that's a lot, even for my coworkers.

And the kicker is how, um.. healthy? they are ? I mean, we are talking about a flourless brownie, with agave nectar which has a lower glycemic index than other sugar. And they have black beans in WHAT???

don't be a skeptic. Make them for your next get together. No one will know what's in them..

just remember to referidgerate them because these puppies are SOFT and WILL fall apart.

Thanks, Heidi for finding this awesome recipe. I posted the link in my previous post, but here's the recipe with Heidi's notes:

Amazing Black Bean Brownie Recipe
For those of you who have a hard time tracking down agave nectar (which is becoming much more readily available) substitute honey 1:1 for the agave nectar. Ania's head notes encourage you to keep these brownies in the refrigerator, they will slice much better if refrigerated several hours or preferably overnight. I used instant coffee this time around, but you can find natural coffee substitute at many natural food stores.

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups soft-cooked black beans, drained well (hs: canned is fine)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup (granulated) natural coffee substitute (or instant coffee, for gluten-sensitive)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
4 large eggs
1½ cups light agave nectar

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 11- by 18-inch (rimmed) baking pan (hs note: or jellyroll pan) with parchment paper and lightly oil with canola oil spray.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on high. Stir with a spoon to melt the chocolate completely. Place the beans, 1/2 cup of the walnuts, the vanilla extract, and a couple of spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Blend about 2 minutes, or until smooth. The batter should be thick and the beans smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts, remaining melted chocolate mixture, coffee substitute, and salt. Mix well and set aside.

In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer beat the eggs until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the agave nectar and beat well. Set aside.

Add the bean/chocolate mixture to the coffee/chocolate mixture. Stir until blended well.

Add the egg mixture, reserving about 1/2 cup. Mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1/2 cup egg mixture until light and fluffy. Drizzle over the brownie batter. Use a wooden toothpick to pull the egg mixture through the batter, creating a marbled effect. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the brownies are set. Let cool in the pan completely before cutting into squares. (They will be soft until refrigerated.)

Makes 45 (2-inch) brownies.

Reprinted with permission from Baking With Agave Nectar: Over 100 Recipes Using Nature’s Ultimate Sweetener by Ania Catalano. (Ten Speed Press 2008)

Thursday, June 19, 2008


So I've discovered another bonus of planning and making real meals everyday: frozen leftovers! I usually make our meals according to the recipes and don't take into account the fact that there are only two of us eating. So we are often left with leftovers...sometimes lots of leftovers. And so I have in my freezer from the past two weeks enough frozen leftovers for at least four meals next week.

This is good. When we get settled in our new place, I will continue freezing leftovers, only I won't serve them quite so readily so when No. 2 arrives we will hopefully have a freezer stocked with meals while we make all the necessary adjustments of adding a new baby to the family. This is especially important because 1. I no longer live surrounded by dear friends who will provide us meals for up to three weeks after the birth. I will be living by strangers. and 2. Should I happen to find myself with a second csection, making meals would be even more difficult than I'm sure they already are after having a baby. It's nice to have back-up.

Also Peter gets paid on Tuesdays. When I want to do my shopping on the weekends, I often borrow money from savings until we get his paycheck and then I transfer some extra money to savings to cover what I took. But as the weather is so nice and Charles is getting older, I really enjoy taking the car from time to time. So I think I'll just do my grocery shopping for next week on Wednesday or sometime after Peter gets paid.

Garby, I'm very eager to hear about those brownies. I totally believe in the possibility of them!

Call Me Crazy...

but I'm making these tonight to bring for my co workers in the printshop who did me a favor.

Will let you know how they turn out..

thanks to Heidi at for the recipe, she got it from :
Reprinted with permission from Baking With Agave Nectar: Over 100 Recipes Using Nature’s Ultimate Sweetener by Ania Catalano. (Ten Speed Press 2008)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


for dinner tonight.

Here is the recipe that I'm tentatively using.

I'm actually using it mostly for the cooking technique part of the recipe.

I'll post afterwards and let you know my version.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Lemon Chick Pea Dip (not quite hummus)

Lemon Chick Pea Dip (not quite hummus)
Rachel Ray

Mix in food processor :

1 can chick peas rinsed and drained
Lemon and juice of one lemon
2 large thyme stalks (pull the leaves off backwards)
1 large garlic clove minced
Hot sauce or pepper flakes to taste
pinch of salt

While processor is on, drizzle in 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil until hummus consistency is achieved.

* I have made this multiple times and it is delicious! the lemon flavor is there but not overpowering, it also works well as a sandwich spread. Light enough for appetizer, also good as a side dish.

It is not quite hummus because there is no tahini. I don't like the gritty texture of tahini so I don't add it. Also, if you're trying to watch your fat intake this is a good recipe because tahini has a high fat content

Friday, June 13, 2008

Crispy Seasoned French Fries

We're having dinner guests over and these are on the menu. I haven't made them before but Dan wanted fries with our "one bad meal". We get one bad meal a week these days and tonight is it! I didn't have a recipe for fries so I went searching and I liked this one the most out of what I saw.

2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup water, or as needed
1 cup vegetable oil for frying

Slice potatoes into French fries, and place into cold water so they won't turn brown while you prepare the oil.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. While the oil is heating, sift the flour, garlic salt, onion salt, (regular) salt, and paprika into a large bowl. Gradually stir in enough water so that the mixture can be drizzled from a spoon.
Dip potato slices into the batter one at a time, and place in the hot oil so they are not touching at first. The fries must be placed into the skillet one at a time, or they will clump together. Fry until golden brown and crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Side Note: You can also bake these at 350 for 45 mintues and get the same thing but healthier.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

It's Working!

I am loving planning weekly meals. Not only was my shopping last week fast and frugal, but there was at least one, maybe two, days this week where I was not feeling creative or homemake-y and in normal circumstances dinner probably would have been something frozen. But since my list was right there on the fridge, I already knew what I was doing that evening. Even if that meal did not particularly appeal to me, I made it anyway. And it just feels good to be serving in this way.

I scheduled a leftovers night this week, as I will continue to do It avoids wasting food and gives me a break in the kitchen. Tonight was easy too. We're having hamburgers, so I made a side dish. Italian Pasta Salad. It's fun to get to make a side dish here and there, too.

I'm getting my list ready for next week. Shopping tomorrow!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Corn on the cob

The season for fresh corn is fast approaching! In our house it has already begun. We had some delicious corn on the cob on Saturday, and I just scraped the leftovers off the cob today for a quick snack. So good.

Now I really want one of these!


P.S. So far the meal planning and making is going quite well. Dinner for tonight is the crockpot as I type. I made this once before and really enjoyed it. This time I tried slicing the sausage into coin shaped pieces. I'm anxious to eat it. It smells so good!

One more thing: if you want a very easy, make ahead, crowd pleaser be sure to give the Italian Beef Sandwiches a try. Everyone raved. My dad told me about three different times how delicious they were. Guess what I'm eating for lunch this week?!

Friday, June 6, 2008


It always seems to take me awhile to rebound from morning sickness. I've been feeling fine for a number of weeks now, but am I back to planning meals? No. Do I have a decent dinner on the table for my husband every night? No.

I think even though morning sickness is over, with little ones life is ever-changing. Now I have to figure out how to have a meal hot and ready to go when Peter gets home at 7 o'clock while Charles is winding down for bed, coveting my attention. He seems to especially "need" me whenever I'm in the kitchen...curious. :)

I also have to be sure not to get my feelings hurt if Peter is not particularly hungry some night. It seems to be a pattern that if I make the effort to get a meal on the table and Peter doesn't eat it or much of it, then I lose my enthusiasm for making a meal the next day. But the fact is, it's my job. And really, I'm no gourmet chef over here. At all. I really can't expect Peter to get too fired up about dinner after a 2 hour commute home.

So I am going to do much like well-organized Barbara. I am going to make a list of dinners for a whole week, and I'm going to write my grocery list based on the dinner list. Then I'm going to post our dinners for the week on the fridge or somewhere around here so Peter will know what's for dinner each night and I'll know what I'm making without having to think about it!

I'm starting today as I'll make a trip to the food market tomorrow. And boy it's harder than I remember it being to make a weekly menu. I think it's because food doesn't really appeal that much to me right now, even though I'm not nauseous. So I'm scouring all of our blog links looking for those good meals!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

One Year

So we're having a gathering of family this Sunday to celebrate Charles. Because it will be his first birthday. So this is the menu we're planning.

Slower Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches
Potato Salad
Cucumber Salad
some sort of jello-fruity dish
Eclair Dessert

I'm responsible for the sandwiches, cucumber salad, and dessert. So here are a few of the recipes.

Slower Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches
3 lb round or shoulder roast
8 oz jar of pepperoncini with juice - no stems
3 cloves garlic
2 t oregano
1 can beef broth
1 can beer (optional)
S&P to taste

Place in slow cooker on low until done. I don't remember how long it takes and the recipe doesn't specify, so I'll try to come back and let you know. I'm going to check it at 5 hours. Shred beef and serve on (sweet italian) rolls with provlone cheese.

Eclair Dessert
my grandma's recipe
2 pkgs graham crackers
2 pkgs instant french vanilla pudding
8 oz cool whip
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 T butter
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
4 T milk

Mix pudding with 3 cups of milk and beat. Add cool whip. Line a 9x13 pan with whole graham crackers. Pour 1/2 pudding mixture over crackers. Add another layer of crackers. Add remaining pudding mixture. Top off with a final layer of crackers.
Melt butter and chocolate together. Add sugar and milk, beat until smooth. Spread on top layer of crackers.
Keep refrigerated after preparation until serving, at least about 2 hours.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


I made this yesterday. And then I took a picture of it upside down. Because the top got a little burnt. But it still tasted really good, even if it was too hot to be baking in the oven. I love the taste of warm freshly made bread and butter. Yum-ee!
Oh, and also I finally mopped my floor - hey it's in the kitchen!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Dinner Last Night

It was too hot for a pot pie, but I made one anyway. We are using up what we have around here this week. So I just happened to have all that I needed for this dish. It turned out really well as it was my first time. And aside from making the pie crusts, there is virtually no prep time involved!!

Chicken Pot Pie
1 can cream of potato soup
2-3 cups of frozen mixed veggies
2 1/2 cups chicken, cooked and chopped
1/2 c milk
2 9-inch pie crusts (I used Barbara's)

Preheat oven to 375. Mix filling ingredients together. Pour into pie crust. Top with remaining pie crust. Seal edges with fork. Slit the top crust. Bakes for 40 minutes.

edited: I had some leftovers for lunch and it was a bit too dry. The orignial recipe calls for 2 cans of soup...maybe that would fix the problem, I only had one. Or add some more milk. I'm not sure but if you're going to be using leftovers, you need more liquid!