Friday, May 29, 2009

Peanut Butter Pie

I have been making this recipe for a couple years now for gatherings. So I decided to make it last weekend for Memorial Day festivities. This is always a crowd pleaser, and it makes 2 pies! You can take both to the get together or take one and then have another one at home just for your family. Enjoy!

Source: Taste of Home

Servings: 2 pies (6-8 servings each).


  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 cups Domino® or C&H® Pure Cane Powdered Sugar
  • 1 carton (12 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 2 graham cracker crust (9 inches)
  • Dry roasted peanuts (optional; I didn't do this)


In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter and milk until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar. Fold in whipped topping. Spoon into crusts. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Sprinkle with peanuts.

*Sorry no pictures this time!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Spring Time Deliciousness

I made this for lunch today after a friend made it for me last week. It's pretty darn good and healthy too.

The veggies I used:
Red Pepper
Yellow Pepper
Cherry Tomatoes
Red Onion
and Chicken

Drizzle a little olive oil, add some S&P, cover, and put over medium-low heat until everything is soft. Then Stuffed it in a warm wheat pita and you have yourself a delightful lunch (or dinner)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Chicken Cacciatore

Cacciatore is Italian for "hunter." Food prepared hunter-style traditionally includes mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and herbs.

This is a pretty good recipe. I think it's something you can make year round. Yes it's a warm meal, but the sauce is thin, so it's not a heavy dish. My husband and I are just crazy about cooked fresh mushrooms, so it was right up our alley.

I got this recipe from annie's eats.

1 tbsp. olive oil
4 slices turkey bacon, chopped (I used regular bacon)
2 chicken breasts, butterflied in half (4 pieces total)
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
12 oz. white button mushrooms, cleaned and halved
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 sprigs fresh oregano (I used dried)
3 sprigs fresh thyme (I used dried)
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes with garlic and herbs

In a deep saute pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon; set aside.

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pan and brown on both sides, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a platter. Add the onion to the pan and cook until tender and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the bacon, chicken, mushrooms, garlic, oregano, thyme, red wine, chicken broth, and tomatoes (including juices) to the pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Source: adapted from Williams Sonoma

**I may try and add some cornstarch next time to the sauce so it's just a tad thicker.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Potato Salad --- Mayo-free!

I whipped this up tonight in an effort to use up my potatoes before they rotted. I found a mayonnaise-free potato salad recipe in my Simply in Season cookbook (Martin and I both HATE the typical mayo-mustard potato salads) and I changed a thing here and there, resulting in a very delicate and delishus side dish!

-A handful of potatoes, new or russet
-half an onion, chopped
-garlic, minced
-balsamic vinegar
-olive oil
-sea salt
-a handful of mixed fresh oregano and basil. I'm sure dried would be just as tasty

Chop up your potatoes and boil them for awhile, then let them cool while you do everything else. Mix it all together and let it chill in the fridge for awhile. I think mine only chilled for about an hour and it was PERFECT.

We paired it with a simple tuna salad (canned tuna, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, sweet relish) and Ritz crackers. A perfect light meal for a hot summer evening!

And Dessert Alert

Just in case anyone hasn't had a chance to check in at Confabulation in the Kitchen lately, I made those Chocolate Oatmeal Chippers and oh my, are they good! I thought the batter was yummy even before it was cooked. Then the bars came out of the oven, and I thought they were delicious. I froze them in an effort to make them last longer, so of course this morning I already had a few thawing out for me to eat, and they were even better than I remembered after they thawed, so they freeze well, too! In bar form these are quick, easy and scrumptious treat!

Italian Sausage Dinner

This is my variation of a slow cooker recipe from my Fix It and Forget It daily calendar. I'm not a huge fan of Italian sausage but I thought this was pretty good. I froze our leftovers (minus the rice) so we'll see how that turns outs.

Italian Sausage Dinner
1 lb Italian sausage, cut into 3/4'' slices
2 T A1 steak sauce
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 heaping teaspoon oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1. Place all ingredients in slow cooker on low until finished, about 5-6 hours.
2. Serve over cooked rice.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Spaghetti Twice Removed

I think "Frugal" is the word of the day for most of us as of late, and I'm kind of proud of myself these days as I strive to feed my family on a dime.

Last night I made spruced-up spaghetti. I boiled the pasta I had in the pantry, and used a jar of cheap-o spaghetti sauce, but I added in ground beef and some extra seasonings. It was a normal night of spaghetti from a jar. The next night I took the leftovers and dumped them in a casserole dish. I sprinkled the top with grated parmesan cheese. Then I sauteed a little bit of onion and tomato (I cut up some canned whole tomatoes, saving the juice in the can) in olive oil with salt then spread those over the cold leftovers in the dish. I mixed a little water in with the leftover tomato juice in the can and dumped that in as well, then tore up some basil leaves from my garden and sprinkled them over the top of everything. Finally, I topped it all with mozzerella cheese that we had on hand, then I baked it. And it was delicious!!

I wanted to make all the ingredients in this post BOLD, but I don't have time to do that now, as the one baby is too wiggly on my lap and the other baby is standing at the gate yelling for me and has been since I came back here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lemon Bars

I don't know about all of you, but lemon bars just scream SUMMER. My husband loves them, but finally told me he doesn't really care for the boxed, premixed kind; he says they're too "chalky" for him. Since we had some friends over this weekend, it was the perfect time to try these out. Luckily, all the ingredients are pantry staples, except the amount on lemons. The crust is basically a shortbread cookie...YUM! These are so easy, I know I'll never go back to the boxed mix again.

I got this recipe from Ina Garten (my favorite!)


For the crust:

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:

  • 6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 to 6 lemons)
  • 1 cup flour
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut and dust with confectioners' sugar.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Beer Bread

I know I'm about the last person to discover this, but thanks to our friend Mary and the fact that this can literally be thrown together in five minutes, this has become a household staple.

3 c flour
3 T sugar
1 12 oz. bottle or can or beer

Mix it all together, dump it into a loaf pan and

Bake 40-60 minutes @ 350 degrees.

When it's been baking for about 20 minutes, melt a couple tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the top, then continue baking the rest of the way.

This stuff is amazing, not to mention amazingly easy. We've found that Honey Brown makes a tasty loaf. I haven't done much experimentation with different beers, but I've read a few fun things on the internet about which ones make extra yumminess. This bread makes excellent toast and excellent pub-style sandwiches. It's GREAT for leftover potroast, steak, corned beef, or deli pastrami. It also makes a fabulous soup companion!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Rice. It's what's for a side dish

My sister gave me this recipe in a cookbook she made me for a wedding shower. If you like rice as a side dish this one is a must try.

1 T Butter (I used EVOO)
1/2 cup long-grain cooking rice
1 T Onion, minced (I put a little more)
1/4 tsp. salt
Pepper to taste
1/8 tsp. dried tarragon, thyme, basil, parsley
1/2 cup chicken broth

Melt butter in saucepan. Cook & stir rice and onion until onions are translucent. Stir in seasonings; cook for 1-2 more mins. Add broth; bring to a boil. Simmer covered until rice is tender & liquid is absorbed. Serves 2

Her notes and I agree: Check your rice's directions as far as how long to cook & how much liquid to use. I used marjoram instead of tarragon

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Oatmeal Bread

In trying to be frugal in our home, I have started making bread again. I had gotten away from it because my bread never cut well enough for sandwiches. This recipe is awesome, though and makes for great sandwiches. (And it is great with Nutella on it, for those who might have a special affection for Nutella!)

Oatmeal Sandwich and Toasting Bread

3 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour (I used both bread flour and unbleached store brand flour and they work just the same)
1 cup rolled oats (old-fashioned oats)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar or honey (I used honey)
2 teaspoons instant yeast OR 1 packet active dry yeast*
1 1/4 cups lukewarm milk
3/4 cup raisins or currants (optional)
(I also added 4 tsp of Vital Gluten, available in the baking aisle of your grocery store)

*If you use active dry yeast, dissolve it in the warm milk before combining with the remaining ingredients.

Manual Method: In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients, mixing to form a shaggy dough. Knead dough, by hand (10 minutes) or by machine (5 minutes) till it's smooth. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and allow it to rest for 1 hour; it'll become quite puffy, though it may not double in bulk. Shape as directed below.

Bread Machine Method: Place all of the ingredients (except the fruit) into the pan of your machine, program machine for manual or dough, and press Start. About 10 minutes before the end of the second kneading cycle, check dough and adjust its consistency as necessary with additional flour or water; finished dough should be soft and supple. Add the raisins or currants about 3 minutes before the end of the final kneading cycle. Shape as directed below.

Shaping: Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled surface, and shape it into a log. Place the log in a lightly greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, cover the pan (with an acrylic proof cover, or with lightly greased plastic wrap), and allow the dough to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, till it's crested 1 to 2 inches over the rim of the pan.

Baking: Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F. If the bread appears to be browning too quickly, tent it with aluminum foil for the final 10 minutes of baking. Yield: 1 loaf

Also, I make mine in the stand mixer, just dump all the ingredients and mix away. I found that I have to add another cup of flour to bring it all together. When it is done kneading in the mixer, I transfer to a greased bowl and place in a warmed oven for two hours.

Chicken Fried Steak

I was given a Fannie Farmer Cookbook for Christmas of 1990 from my Grandma Kress. It has seen it's time and was a wonderful help for me learning to cook when I was first married. It started to show its age a few years ago, so I put it in "storage". A few weeks back, while at Goodwill, I found a copy like mine and picked it up, so now I am back to using my favorite cookbook. Here is a recipe I found and used last night:

Chicken Fried Steak

1 lbs top round steak (I used cubbed steak)

1 C plus 3 T flour

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3 T vegetable shortening

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

1- C milk

Cut the steak into 4 to 6 serving pieces. Pound 1/4 C flour into the steaks using a meat pounder or the rim of a sturdy plate. Pound in as much flour as you can until the steaks are saturated and quite thin. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Heat the shortening in a large skillet over high heat. Cook the steaks very quickly, about 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove to a platter and keep warm.

Remove all but 2 T of fat. Add the onion and saute, over medium heat, for about 2 minutes, or until soft. Stir the remaining flour into the onion, continuing to stir, and let it cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Slowly add the milk, constantly stirring, and cook until the gravy is thickened. Serve with mashed potatoes.

This recipe served our little family of 4.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Garlic Chicken

Here is a homemade Chinese recipe that will knock your socks off. I never would of thought I could make good Chinese food. Now obviously this is an Americanized recipe, but it fits the bill when it came to me craving take-out. I used a wok, but if you don't have one, no worries; just use the biggest skillet you have.

I got this recipe from "Fast Fix Family Food" by BHG.

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 cup water
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cooking oil (vegetable)
10 green onions, bias sliced
1 cup thinly sliced fresh mushrooms
12 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts (I didn't put these in)
Hot cooked rice

  1. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and place in a resealable plastic bag. For marinade, mix water, soy sauce, and broth. Pour marinade over chicken in bag and seal. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Remove chicken;reserve marinade. Stir cornstarch into marinade; set aside.
  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a wok. Add green onions, mushrooms, and garlic; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until tender. Remove vegetables from wok.
  3. Add chicken to wok; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until no longer pink. Push chicken to the center of the wok.
  4. Stir marinade mixture; add to the center of the wok. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. (this took about 8-10 minutes for me)
  5. Return cooked vegetables to wok. Add water chestnuts. Cook and stir until combined. Serve with hot cooked rice.
Servings: 4

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Annie and her husband invited us to their river cottage for dinner tonight so I thought I'd bring something along to share. I've never made this recipe before so I tried it to make sure it is eatable and it is!

3 large tomatoes
2 tbls parsley, finely chopped
2 tbls chives, finely chopped (I only had dried so I used 1 tbls)
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbls basil, finely chopped (again, only had dried so I put in two tbls)
1/3 cup olive oil
S&P to taste

I'll cut up a french baguette, drizzle extra vigrin olive oil on the pieces, and broil to make crispy.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

This isn't creative cooking, but it sure was yummy.

I had actually never made cupcakes by scratch before, and I was anxious that I would do something really wrong.  But they turned out great!  The cake was a bit more dense than I'm used to with cakemixes-- so maybe I did something wrong?  But it was still great.  And the frosting... mmm, mmm!!!

Billy's Vanilla Cupcakes (from Martha Stewart)

1 3/4 c cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
2 c sugar
1 T baking powder
2/4 t salt
1 c unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 c whole milk
1 t pure vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.

2. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.

3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.

4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter. 

Billy's Chocolate Buttercream (from Martha Stewart)
(the recipe says it makes enough for 30 cupcakes --- but I had some left over)

2 c of unsalted butter, room temperature
12 oz semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
3 T milk
1 1/2 t pure vanilla extract
5 cups of confectioners' sugar


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add chocolate until just combined. Add milk, vanilla, and sugar; mix on medium until well combined, being careful not to overmix.

PS Blogger drives me nuts... so I hope this post actually looks okay.  Right now it looks CRAZY and all my font is different sizes and it's all double-spaced!  My pictures are huge and I can't figure out how to make them smaller.  Grrrr!  Oh well, I'll post and hope for the best!  Sorry if it's huge...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Melons n' Mint

I don't have time for commentary, but at least I'm posting! :P

I made this Melon salad for a picnic in the Park with some other Mommies tomorrow. DH snuck a tasste and heartily approves. :)

1 bunch fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice, from about 1 lemon
1/4 cup simple syrup, recipe follows
1/8 teaspoon amaretto
2 cups watermelon balls, from about half a watermelon
2 cups cantaloupe balls, from about 1 cantaloupe
In a blender, combine mint, lemon juice, simple syrup, and amaretto. Blend until smooth.

In a large bowl, combine the watermelon and the cantaloupe. Add the vinaigrette and toss. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.

Simple Syrup:
1/2 cup water

1 cup sugar

In a saucepan, combine water and sugar over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved. Take pan off heat and cool the syrup. Any extra cooled syrup can be saved in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Yield: 1 cup

NOTE: (Ok, a little commentary...) It seemed to be a "not enough dressing" situation, so I drizzled some balsamic vinegar over the whole thing. ALSO, I went easy on the mint, because us nursing Mamas need to keep that supply up! ;)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Spring Recipes

Spring has arrived, and here is a fantastic way to take advantage of the fresh veggies. Serve this at your next barbecue!

Spring Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Asparagus and Mozzarella

*1 lb penne pasta
*1/2 lb fresh Mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes
*1 large bunch of scallions, about a dozen, sliced into thin rounds
*2 dozen ripe cherry tomatoes, cut in half and drained for 20 minutes in a colander to remove excess liquid
*1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
*zest and juice from 1 lemon
*1/2 lightly toasted cup pinenuts
*large handful fresh basil leaves, lightly chopped

1. Put up a large pot of salted water for cooking the pasta and bring it to a boil. Add the asparagus and blanch it until just tender, about 3 minutes. Scoop the asparagus from the water with a large strainer spoon and place in a colander. Run cold water over it to stop the cooking and to preserve the bright green color. Drain well and slice into small pieces on the diagonal, leaving the tips whole.

2. Bring the water back to a rapid boil and cook the penne until just al dente (tender but slightly firm to the bite). Run the pasta under cold water and drain very well.

3. In a large serving bowl, add the pasta, the blanched asparagus, and all the remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper, and toss well until all the pasta is well coated with dressing. Taste for seasoning. This is best served at room temperature. Serves 4 to 5 as a main course, or 6 to 7 as a first course or side dish.

4. Note: Another lovely addition to this pasta is about 3/4 cup freshly shelled spring peas. Blanch them for 1 minute in the boiling pasta water after you blanch the asparagus. Drain well and add them to the bowl along with the other ingredients.