Friday, November 4, 2011

Cranberry Apple Butter

I have never been a fan of apple butter. (I think it's because I've only tried store-bought apple butter and let's be honest - homemade anything is usually better than store-bought.) My brother- and sister-in-law took my daughter and I to The Flying Biscuit Cafe in Sandy Springs, GA, this summer. They serve all of their biscuits with homemade cranberry apple butter. I liked it and thought, "Oh, okay. Apple butter ain't bad."

Fast forward a week and I couldn't get that stuff out of my mind. I was craving it like chocolate and wondering if they sold it by the jar. Lucky for me, an internet search turned up the very recipe that they use in the cafe (thank you, PBS!). I bookmarked it for future use when cranberries came in season again. And here we are!

This year I hope to use my brain and freeze a couple of bags of cranberries so I have them available at other times of the year. Wish me luck.

from The Flying Biscuit Cafe

2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup orange juice (not from concentrate)
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups cranberries
10 Granny Smith apples (about 3 lbs.), peeled, cored, and sliced

In a large saucepan, combine sugar, orange juice, and spices. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add cranberries and simmer until berries begin to pop. Reduce heat to low and stir in apples. Cook, stirring frequently, until apples are soft; about 45 min - 1 hr. Remove cinnamon stick and either blend mixture with an immersion blender or puree in blender or food processor until smooth.

Let cool and refrigerate. Will keep in fridge for 2-3 weeks.

Or fill clean, hot jars with apple butter to within 1/2-inch of rim, wipe rims clean, and screw on hot lids. Immerse in boiling water bath for 10-15 minutes. Cool for 24 hours. If any lids "pop," refrigerate jars and use within 2-3 weeks. Properly sealed jars will keep at room temp for 18 months - 2 years.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Vegetable Beef Soup

If someone out there in blogland would like to donate a DSLR camera to me, I wouldn't mind in the slightest.
It would make my food actually look something you want to eat!

This is a great way to use up a small, boneless roast. Since the beef is slow-cooked you can use a tougher cut like chuck. I make it the way my grandmother made it; with barley.

Quick pearled barley is used as a "thickener" - essentially it's a healthy filler and sucks up some of the extra broth. I've usually found it by the dried beans and rice:


1 1/2 - 2 lb. chuck roast
1 can beef broth
8 cups water
4 tsp. beef bouillon or base
1 small onion, chopped
3-4 celery stalks, sliced
2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 med. potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup quick barley
1 can tomato soup
salt & pepper to taste

Pat roast dry with paper towel(s). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spray bottom of large pot with cooking spray; heat over med-high heat. Brown roast on all sides; add beef broth, water, and bouillon or base and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2 hours.

Add onion, celery, carrots, and potatoes; return to a simmer. Cover and cook for another hour.

Remove roast from pot and shred into bite-size pieces. Return to pot with tomato soup and barley. Cook another 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Monday, October 31, 2011

New York Chicken

Sorry for the lame photo. I took it just before my hubby started eating. My father-in-law loves this chicken. It turns out moist and tender and the sauce is great over white rice or egg noodles.

adapted from

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts; trimmed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
1 cup chicken broth
1 (10.5 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened and cubed
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat chicken breasts dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in skillet over med-high heat. Add chicken and brown both sides; remove to 9x13 baking dish. Reduce heat to med-low and add garlic and rosemary. Slowly stir in chicken broth. Whisk in cream of mushroom soup until combined; cook until hot. Remove from heat and stir in cream cheese until smooth; pour over chicken. Bake, uncovered, for 45-50 minutes or until chicken in no longer pink.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Monster Bark

Here's a Halloween treat for grown-ups and kiddos alike. It's a sweet and salty snack and very colorful. It calls for candy corn, but gosh darn it I hate that stuff. I just couldn't bring myself to use it. And I didn't have quite enough Reeses Pieces and I regret not adding peanuts (totally forgot about them). So the bark in the photo is not truly indicative of what this stuff can be.

I went all over kingdom come trying to find those crazy Halloween Oreos. Finally found a package at the 3rd store I tried. I normally don't go for weird-colored Oreos, but they sure make this bark look more festive.

I do wish I'd made the bark a little thinner - it was really hard to break apart. That is why I've given a range for the amount of Almond Bark needed. You can do it to taste. Most packages I've found are 24 oz. But they come in bricks that you can cut apart. I wouldn't use less than 1 1/2 packages.

adapted from Halloween Candy Bark on Tasty Kitchen

32 - 48 oz. vanilla Almond Bark
2 cups pretzel sticks
15 Halloween Oreos, broken into pieces
1 cup Reeses Pieces
1 cup peanuts
1 cup candy corn
Halloween-themed or chocolate sprinkles, optional

Line a jelly-roll pan with waxed paper. Spread pretzels and Oreo pieces evenly in pan. Melt Almond Bark according to package directions and slowly drizzle over pretzels/Oreos; pound flat. Sprinkle with Reese Pieces, peanuts, candy corn, and sprinkles. Refrigerate until solid, about 30 - 45 minutes. Break into pieces.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cheese and Vegetable Soup

I got this recipe from a friend. I'd had it at her house and really loved the flavor. I think it would be good with broccoli and cauliflower, too.


3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cups (32 oz) chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
3 tsp. chicken bouillon granules, cubes, or base
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 cups frozen corn
1/4 cup (half a stick) butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

In a large pot, bring the potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, chicken broth, water, bouillon, and pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and add frozen corn.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for two minutes. Slowly whisk in milk and, stirring constantly, bring to a slight boil (mixture will thicken). Remove from heat and stir in shredded cheese until completely melted. Add cheese mixture to vegetable pot and stir to combine.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sweet and Moist Cornbread

This is a very sweet cornbread and it's fluffy like a cake, not dense. It should be called Death by Cornbread for how much butter is in it. I grew up on this stuff. I think my mom got the recipe off a box of Bisquick in the 80's or 90's.


2 cups Bisquick
1 cup sugar
2 heaping Tbsp. yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup milk.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish. In a large bowl, beat the eggs then whisk in the milk and melted butter. Stir in dry ingredients until thoroughly combined. Pour into baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tender Beef and Bean Stew

I found this recipe in a magazine years ago. It's one of my favorite slow cooker recipes because you just dump it all in and you've got a one-dish meal. It's great topped with shredded cheddar and a dollop of sour cream.


1 lb. lean beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilies
1 can (2.25 oz) sliced ripe olives, drained
1 cup chopped onion
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
2 Tbsp. uncooked long grain rice
1-2 Tbsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. beef bouillon granules, cubes, or base mixed with 1 cup hot water
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce

In a 5 quart slow cooker, combine all ingredients except tomato sauce. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or until beef is tender. Stir in tomato sauce; cover and cook 30 minutes more or until heated through.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Custard Pear Pie

I found this recipe on At Second Street last year and I finally made it! It was quite popular around here. I love that it uses pears, which are kind of the unsung fall fruit - always overshadowed by all those apple recipes. The almond extract gives it such a unique flavor and Kalleen made the suggestion of baking it in a springform pan instead of a pie plate. I loved that idea. Makes it very easy to serve!

from At Second Street

pastry for 1 crust pie*
3 eggs
1/3 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 pears; peeled, cored, and sliced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out pastry between two pieces of parchment paper. Place pastry in bottom and up sides of pie plate or springoform pan. Trim to fit.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, flour, sugar, almond extract, and melted butter until smooth. Pour into pastry. Arrange pear slices in spokes radiating out from center. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 25-35 minutes or until custard is firm. Cool completely before serving. Garnish with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

*For my crust I used this one on Pioneer Woman, cutting the recipe in half and using all butter. It was delish!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Creamy Chicken and Tortellini Soup

Yay Fall! This is an adaptation from a recipe I found on It went super fast and we barely had any leftovers. It goes great with a crusty piece of Italian or French bread.

adapted from Chicken & Gnocchi Soup on

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 small onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, shredded
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 of a (19 oz.) package frozen cheese tortellini
3/4 cup chopped fresh or frozen spinach (thawed and drained if frozen)
2 cups fat-free half-and-half
salt & pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbsp. cold water (optional)

In a large pot, combine chicken broth, chicken, onion, celery, carrots, and garlic and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Remove chicken breasts; shred or dice and return to pot. Add tortellini and let cook about 3-4 minutes. Stir in spinach and cook about 4-5 minutes more. Add half-and-half and bring back to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. If desired, stir in cornstarch mixture to thicken soup slightly.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bread Bowls

With the fall season starting (at least in some places), I thought this would be a great recipe to share right now. Bread bowls are a great way to serve up your chili, soup, or stew and can make the meal go farther. The bread itself is plain jane - not sourdough, but the outside is nice and chewy and the inside is dense and soft.

Mine turned out a little flat after following the recipe's direction to brush the dough with an egg wash right after rising - bad idea. I'm leaving that step out. You can get 6 good-size bread bowls with this recipe (or you can make 8 smaller ones). Just don't serve them with a thin soup like chicken noodle - the bread will get soggy. Bread bowls are more for thicker soups like cream of broccoli or potato.

According to the recipe, the baked loaves can be frozen up to 1 month if you don't use them all up at once.

adapted from Italian Bread Bowls on

2 packages (.25 oz each) active dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp.)
2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
up to 7 cups all-purpose flour

1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. cold water

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and sugar. Let stand 10 minutes until foamy.

Add salt, oil, and 4 cups of flour to yeast mixture and beat well. Stir in more flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough comes together (you may not need all 7 cups). Knead in mixer until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, turn dough to coat, and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.

Lightly grease two baking sheets with cooking spray. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Punch down dough and divide into 6 or 8 equal portions. Form each portion into a small, round loaf and place on prepared baking sheets, leaving enough space between each loaf for rising. Cover and let rise again until doubled in size, about 35 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake loaves for 15 minutes. Brush each loaf with egg wash and bake for an additional 10 -15 more minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.

To make bowls: using a serrated knife, cut a round out of the top of each loaf and scoop out centers, leaving 3/4-inch thick shells. Fill bowls with hot soup and serve immediately (centers can be used for dipping).

Monday, September 26, 2011

BLT Pasta Salad and Homemade Ranch Dressing

Your favorite sandwich is now a pasta salad! I personally don't care for bottled ranch dressing and I don't always have a packet of dry mix in my pantry, so I've included a recipe for making your own homemade ranch dressing. It makes a little more than you need for this recipe, but I'm sure that you won't have trouble using it up. :)

This recipe serves 6-8 as a side dish. It's easily doubled if you need to serve more.

An easy way to cook bacon is to lay it out evenly on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. To get it crispy enough for crumbling, you may need to leave it in a few minutes longer - but watch it so it doesn't burn. Let cool on a paper towel lined plate.

adapted from

8 oz. rotini pasta (half of a 1 lb. box), uncooked
8 oz. (half a pound) bacon, crisp cooked and crumbled
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 cup packed, chopped Romaine or Bibb leaf lettuce
1 - 1 1/2 cups prepared ranch dressing
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water. In a large bowl, combine pasta, tomatoes, and onions. Fold in 1/2 - 3/4 cup ranch dressing until mixture is well coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Just before serving, add lettuce, bacon, and black pepper to pasta. Add more ranch as necessary, to taste.

adapted from

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. dried chives
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried dill weed
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving to let flavors mingle.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Plum Tart

It may be over 100 degrees here in AZ, but I'm pretending it's Fall. Plums were on sale a week or two ago and I decided to try a recipe I had bookmarked a long time ago. This has a great fall flavor and is very simple to make. It's not a large dessert - it will feed maybe 4-6. The crust is a little shortbread-y and could always be replaced by your favorite pie crust recipe.

adapted from

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 Tbsp. cold water

2 cups sliced plums (about 3 plums)
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1 egg, lightly beaten

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt; cut in the butter until mixture is crumbly. Gradually add water, tossing with fork until a ball forms. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer while you make the filling.

In a bowl, combine the plums, sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil.

Roll dough into a 12-inch circle between two pieces of parchment paper. Place dough on cookie sheet and place filling in center. Bring edges of pastry up around filling, leaving the center uncovered. Brush pastry with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly and crust is golden brown. Cool. Serve with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Apple Raisin Spice Cookies

Fall is my favorite time of year. Best food. Best weather. Well, if you don't live in AZ like I do. It's still high summer here. At least I can still have the food. :)

These can be made with fresh diced apples but be prepared to eat them quick. The extra moisture in the apples will turn your cookies to mush after 24-48 hours. This is why I suggest using dried apples instead.

adapted from

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1 (4.5 oz) package dried apples, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 cup raisins
3/4 cup hot apple cider, juice, or water
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional

1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp.+ milk or half-and-half
1 cup powdered sugar

Place raisins in a bowl and cover with hot cider; set aside.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat butter, shortening, and sugars until well blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in oats, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, baking soda, and flour until thoroughly mixed. Drain raisins and fold in with apples and nuts, if using. Drop by rounded tablespoons about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are golden brown and centers are set (may take longer if using fresh apples). Cool on sheet 2 minutes before transferring to wire rack.

In a small bowl, whisk together glaze ingredients (adding more milk if necessary to reach a drizzling consistency). Drizzle over cooled cookies with a spoon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Zucchini Patties

I'm sure there are gardens out there just finishing up churning out zucchini like a well-oiled machine. Here's one way to use them up.


3 cups shredded zucchini (about 2-3 zucchini, depending on size)
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup chopped green onion (about 4 onions)
1 1/2 cups Italian style bread crumbs, divided
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. prepared pesto, optional
2 Tbsp. butter
spaghetti sauce (I like Prego's Italian Sausage & Garlic)

Place zucchini in a colander and squeeze out excess liquid. In a large bowl, mix together zucchini, eggs, onions, 1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs, flour, Parmesan, mozzarella, garlic, pepper, and pesto if using.

Place remaining 1 cup breadcrumbs in a small bowl. In a large non-stick skillet, melt 1 Tbsp. butter over med-high heat. Form zucchini mixture into patties; dredge in bread crumbs and place into skillet. Cook about 3-5 minutes on each side until brown and crispy. Add remaining tablespoon of butter to skillet if needed to finish remaining patties. Serve with warm spaghetti sauce.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chicken with Orange-Ginger Sauce

I found this recipe in a publication from Sprouts (if you're not from the Southwest, it's like Whole Foods). I made a few changes and I have to say I really enjoyed this dish! It's great served with steamed rice and stir-fry veggies.


2 - 2 1/2 lbs. chicken tenderloins
1 1/4 cup orange juice, divided
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup chicken broth
zest of 1 orange
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. hot sauce
2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1/3 cup chopped green onion + more for garnish (about 2 onions)
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 Tbsp. butter
salt & pepper
sliced almonds for garnish

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup orange juice with cornstarch until dissolved; set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine remaining 1 cup orange juice, chicken broth, orange zest, soy sauce, hot sauce, ginger, 1/3 cup green onion, and garlic. Bring to a boil over medium heat; simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt butter over med-high heat. Add chicken tenderloins and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until browned on both sides and chicken is no longer pink. Remove skillet from heat.

Whisk cornstarch mixture into ginger sauce and boil for 1 minute. Pour sauce over chicken in skillet and return to heat; simmer until chicken is heated through. Garnish with almonds and green onions and serve over steamed rice.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Raspberry Lemonade Bars

Boy have I had a time with these. This is a combination and an adaptation of two different recipes I found online. The first recipe was Strawberry Lemonade Bars on Baking Bites. I made them several months ago and though the crust was great and they were a cute pink color they were way too tart for my taste. Then I saw Raspberry Lemonade Bars on Sophistimom and made them for my nieces' blessing dinner. I really didn't like the crust on those and there was too much filling (and still too tart). So I thought and thought for a few months and decided to try combining the two. So the crust is from the Baking Bites recipe and the filling is adapted from the Sophistimom recipe. Since raspberries have a more distinct flavor, I stuck with them for the filling versus strawberries.


1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed

2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. lemon zest
3/4 cup flour
pinch of salt
1 (12 oz) bag frozen raspberries, thawed
powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan.

Pour thawed raspberries into a fine mesh sieve placed over a glass measuring cup. Using a rubber spatula, press and scrape raspberries to extract juice:

You will need 1/2 cup. Discard seeds and pulp.

To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Press firmly and evenly in bottom of baking dish and bake for 17 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, lemon juice and zest, flour, salt, and raspberry juice. Pour into hot crust and return to oven for 18-20 minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely on a wire rack then chill for at least 2 hours. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into bars with a clean, wet knife.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Soft Pretzels and Pretzel Dogs

I saw this recipe for pretzel dogs on and thought it would be a great way to use up some hotdogs in the fridge (especially since the only buns we had were freezer burned). Turns out, this is Alton Brown's recipe for soft pretzels - just with hot dogs. Mine got a little darker than expected but that's because I have a small, non-standard-sized oven and things cook a little faster. The dogs are great for potlucks and barbecues since the recipe makes a lot (Labor Day, anyone?). I like to dip them in Dijon mustard but they are good alone or with nacho cheese. You will get 18 pretzel dogs out of this recipe.

For the pretzels, obviously you leave out the hot dogs and just twist the dough into pretzel shapes. Other than that, the process is the same. You will get 8 large pretzels out of this recipe.

from Alton Brown and Jan's Pretzel Dogs

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 - 115 degrees)
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 (0.25 oz) package active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp. water
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
kosher salt - to taste
18 hot dogs, optional

Combine the water, sugar, and 2 tsp. kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top.* Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4-5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place for approximately 50-55 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and baking soda to a rolling boil in a large pot.

In the meantime:

For pretzels: turn dough onto lightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press into the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel.

For pretzel dogs: turn dough onto lightly oiled work surface and roll into a 10x20-inch rectangle. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 18 1-inch wide strips, then wrap each strip tightly around a hot dog, pinching the edges to seal, and leaving the ends open. About half an inch of hot dog should peek out from each end.

Place the pretzels or pretzel dogs in the boiling water, 1 by 1 (or up to 3 at a time with the dogs), for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water with a large, flat spatula and place on the prepared baking sheets. Brush each pretzel or pretzel dog with the egg yolk beaten with 1 Tbsp. water. Sprinkle with kosher salt if desired. Bake 12-14 minutes or until dark golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

*The dough can be made in a bread machine: Combine the warm water, sugar, and 2 tsp. kosher salt in a bowl and sprinkle with yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes or until foamy. Place the bread flour and butter in the machine. Add the yeast mixture and select the dough cycle.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Hawaiian" Chicken

Not sure what qualifies this as "Hawaiian." Perhaps the pineapple? Anyway, I got this recipe from my mother-in-law and I admit that when I read the ingredients list I thought it sounded ... frightening. But this is one of those funny recipes where you just have to have faith and you will be rewarded. This makes a sweet and savory sauce that is great served with white rice.

Unfortunately, some of these ingredients can be difficult to find. Russian dressing is not very popular/available anymore, so I've started replacing it with either French or Catalina. (If you don't like any of those dressings on salad, Kraft makes an 8 oz bottle of Catalina which is all you need for this recipe so there is no waste.) As for the apricot pineapple preserves, I've always had luck finding it at Walmart. If you cannot find it, you can use plain apricot preserves.


6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
1 cup Russian (or French or Catalina) dressing
1 cup apricot pineapple preserves
1 envelope onion soup mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together dressing, preserves, and onion soup mix. Spread some of the dressing mixture to coat the bottom of the baking dish. Place chicken breasts on top and pour and spread the remaining dressing over the chicken. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Root Beer Float Cake

I saw this recipe on and thought it sounded like a fun idea. Their plan for the frosting made me gag however, so I've completely changed that. I made this cake for a family birthday party and it was a great hit.

For the best flavor you'll need to purchase either root beer concentrate or root beer flavored syrup. The concentrate can be found in the baking aisle with the spices and extracts. The syrup is usually with ice cream condiments like hot fudge and sprinkles. Here's a photo of both:

They are worth getting because you can either make homemade root beer with the concentrate or put the root beer syrup on vanilla ice cream. Yum!

The root beer flavor will come through more if you refrigerate the cake overnight. As for the garnish, save that for just before serving. The crushed candies will melt after about an hour or two and the syrup will kind of do the same.

adapted from

1 box white cake mix with pudding
3 egg whites
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 (12 oz) can (1 1/2 cups) root beer
2 tsp. root beer concentrate (or 2 Tbsp. root beer flavored syrup)
1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 (8 oz) container Cool Whip, thawed
garnish: crushed root beer barrels or root beer flavored syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray bottom only of 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, beat cake mix, egg whites, vegetable oil, root beer, and root beer concentrate or syrup on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan. Bake for 28-32 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely; about 1 hour.

(Optional: for best root beer flavor, after cooling, cover cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.)

In a large bowl, whisk together pudding mix, milk, and vanilla for 2 minutes. Fold in Cool Whip and spread over cooled cake. Garnish with crushed root beer barrels or syrup just before serving. Keep refrigerated.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

One more recipe from Gina at! I made these last week and they were so good! Carnitas refers to any slow-cooked, seasoned meat and in this case we're using pork. Boneless pork shoulder/Boston Butt to be exact. Do not buy the pork shoulder picnic because it is fattier and has a large bone.

I actually bought my pork at Walmart - it was in a package labeled "boneless pork shoulder for carnitas" and I thought that sounded perfect. I was surprised to discover that once I opened the package I did not have a shoulder roast as I expected, but multiple PIECES of shoulder roasts! At first I was mad but then I looked on the bright side. This was a blessing in disguise. By having the roast in multiple pieces, that left more surface area for browning and seasoning which equals more flavor! So even if you buy a whole roast, I recommend cutting it up into 4-inch pieces for browning.

Dry adobo seasoning can be found in the Mexican section of your grocery store (or you can make your own - recipe here). Chipotle chili powder is made from chipotle peppers, which are smoked jalapenos and very spicy so keep that in mind when flavoring your pork.

adapted from

2.5 lb. pork shoulder blade roast, trimmed of fat
salt & pepper
1 tsp. olive oil
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
dry adobo seasoning
garlic powder
chipotle chili powder (or regular chili powder)

corn tortillas
sliced avocados
diced tomatoes
diced onions
chopped fresh cilantro
sour cream
lime wedges

Cut roast into 4-inch chunks; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and brown pork on all sides. Remove pork to a plate, reduce heat to low, and slowly add water to skillet. Simmer until all browned bits are incorporated and pour into slow cooker. Add bay leaves.

Generously sprinkle and rub adobo, garlic powder, and cumin all over pieces of roast. Sprinkle chipotle chili powder to taste. Place pork in slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. After 8 hours, remove bay leaves and shred pork.

Optional: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place shredded pork and cooking liquid in shallow baking dish. Roast for 5-10 minutes or until edges are crispy:

Serve in corn tortillas with desired toppings and a squeeze of lime.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

This is another recipe from I am really loving that site! These muffins are lowfat and are packed with flavor. The bananas keep them moist and the chocolate chips are wonderful little punches of richness. I've already eaten 5 of them myself over the last two days.

I have noticed that they stick pretty badly to the wrapper the first day. To avoid this problem (I think it comes from the lack of fat), you can lightly spray the liners with Pam before filling.

Gina also drizzles the tops with a powdered sugar glaze for aesthetics. I think it looks nice but it's not really necessary and the muffins soak it up pretty quickly anyway. If you want the directions for the glaze, click on the original recipe link below.


3 1/2 ripe medium bananas, mashed
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (packed)
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Lightly spray liners with cooking spray, if desired.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add egg whites, bananas, applesauce, and vanilla and beat on medium speed until thick. Scrape down sides of the bowl.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt with a wire whisk. Add flour mixture to banana mixture at low speed until combined; do not over mix. Fold in chocolate chips and pour batter into muffin cups.

Bake on the center rack for 30 minutes. Let muffins cool 5 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chicken and White Bean Enchiladas with Creamy Salsa Verde

I discovered another fantastic food blog through a link on a friend's Facebook page. The blog is called Skinny Taste and the recipes are all created or adapted by Gina, who loves to make healthy, flavorful dishes. She even breaks down the nutritional content of each serving and calculates Weight Watcher's points! Her photos are beautiful and I spent over an hour yesterday combing through her archives. When I came across this recipe for enchiladas they looked so good and the title sounded so yummy that I had to make them right away.

I just made a few changes for personal taste (nothing drastic). Mainly I added more chicken since the original recipe's 8 oz was not going to satisfy the stomachs in my house. I left out the jalapenos since the chilies added enough spice for our taste. As always, if you want the original recipe, I've linked to it below.

When purchasing the diced green chilies, please note that you'll need a 4 oz can AND a 7 oz can. I messed up and only bought a 7 oz can but luckily still had a 4 oz can in the back of my pantry.

adapted from

2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilies
1 can (15.8 oz) Navy (or Cannellini) beans, undrained
1/3 can water (empty bean can)
1 chicken bouillon (or 1 tsp chicken base)
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
3 cups shredded, cooked chicken breast

1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup minced onion
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 can (7 oz) chopped green chilies
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped (optional)
salt, to taste
1/2 cup sour cream (light or fat free are fine)

8 medium-sized flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a saute pan, heat olive oil on low. Add onions and garlic and saute until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add chilies, beans, water, bouillon, and cumin. Mix well and cover; simmer on low 15 minutes. Remove cover and add chicken and cook until mixture is thickened and liquid boils down. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook until onions soften and turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add flour and stir well; cook for 1 minute stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth until smooth. Cook until sauce boils and thickens; add green chilies, jalapenos if using, and salt to taste. Cook another minute and then set aside to cool slightly.

Lightly coat a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Fill each tortilla with a little over 1/2 cup of filling, roll, and place in dish.

Pour sauce into a blender and add sour cream; puree until smooth. Pour evenly over tortillas. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Roasted Corn on the Cob

Roasting corn in the oven is one of the best ways to maintain the flavor and sweetness of your corn. And it's very easy - you roast it IN the husk! And believe it or not, the silk and stalk are actually easier to remove after roasting. I've included a a recipe for a flavored butter in case you want to punch it up a notch.


6 (or more ... or less) ears of fresh corn, unhusked

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut off the top of the husks (the grody brown part). Place cobs on oven rack and roast for 35-40 minutes or until corn is soft when you press on it. Allow cobs to cool for 3 minutes before removing husks and silk.


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 tsp. chili powder
zest of 1 lime

Whip together butter with the chili powder and lime zest. Serve with corn on the cob.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

These are the best blueberry muffins I've had in a long time. I've been trying out different blueberry muffin recipes lately trying to find an all-time, go-to recipe and I think this one is it.

My first requirement is great flavor and texture. These have it.

My second requirement is that it had to have streusel on top and not just any streusel, but brown sugar streusel. I'm still searching for the perfect brown sugar-to-flour-to-butter-to cinnamon ratio, but this one works for now. If I find something better, I'll re-post. (Just so you know, these are great without the streusel, too!)

My only regret about this recipe is it makes an odd number of muffins - around 15-18, depending on how much you fill the cups. That bothers me because standard muffin tins make an even dozen. And you know when you bake those last 3-6, they cook faster and can sometimes get burnt - so watch them carefully.

adapted from Blueberry Cream Muffins on

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I substitute half applesauce)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tin (makes 15-18) with paper muffin liners.

In large bowl, beat eggs; gradually add sugar while beating. Continue beating while slowly pouring in oil (and applesauce if using). Stir in vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture alternately with sour cream/yogurt. Gently fold in blueberries. Scoop batter into muffin cups, filling about 3/4 full.

In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, butter, and cinnamon with a pastry cutter until crumbly. Sprinkle over muffins. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until lightly golden and muffins spring back when touched with a finger. Cool in pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Green Beans

Here's something different to try if you're tired of plain steamed green beans. These go great with any Asian-flavored dish and rice. And the flavor is not too intense - just enough.

adapted from

3/4 pound (12 oz) fresh green beans, trimmed
2 tsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. soy sauce (I prefer low-sodium)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. honey
dash of hot sauce
sesame seeds

Arrange a steamer basket in a pot of boiling water and steam the green beans 3-4 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, garlic, honey, and hot sauce.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; add the green beans and fry for 3-5 minutes. Pour in soy sauce mixture. Continue cooking and stirring 2 minutes, or until the liquid is nearly evaporated. Sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cherry Berries on a Cloud

This recipe is in my Betty Crocker cookbook but I also found it on For years I've thought about making it and I finally had all the right ingredients at the same time, so I made it for Father's Day. This is a light and fluffy dessert but the cream cheese does make it rich. You also need to plan ahead to make this since the meringue needs to sit in the oven overnight.

Regarding meringue, here are a few tips to help you if you are new to making it:
  • Meringue works best on a cool, dry day. For some parts of the country, that is a problem. Just accept that if you have a lot of humidity you will probably see your meringue "sweat." This is when the meringue absorbs moisture from the air and becomes sticky. It may develop beads of sugar syrup on the top. Not really a big deal for this recipe since you will cover it up with the filling.
  • Separate your eggs very carefully. Even just a speck of yolk will keep the egg whites from fluffing up.
  • For best results, let your egg whites come to room temperature before beating.
  • Add the sugar slowly (about 1 Tbsp. at a time), so the crystals are absorbed and your meringue will be smooth and not grainy.
  • After adding the sugar, keep beating the egg whites until stiff and glossy peaks form when you lift the beater(s):
I also recommend using a stand mixer if you have one, because this takes some time and it will free you to do other things while you wait for the meringue to fluff.

adapted from

6 large egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar

2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 pkgs. (3 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups miniature marshmallows

2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling
2 tsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan with shortening or butter (cooking spray won't be enough).

Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in a large bowl with electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Beat in sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time; keep beating until egg whites are stiff and glossy. Do not under-beat. Spread into greased baking pan.

Bake for 1 hour. Turn off oven, leaving meringue in the oven with the door closed overnight or for at least 12 hours.

Beat whipping cream in chilled large bowl on high speed until soft peaks form. Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in another bowl until blended. Gently fold cream cheese mixture and marshmallows into whipped cream. Spread over meringue. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Cut into serving pieces; top with topping.

For topping, combine strawberries, pie filling, and lemon juice.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Slow Cooker Meat Loaf

I am generally not a meatloaf fan, but I will eat the meatloaf my mother-in-law makes. For me it's all about the sauce. In fact, I double it when I make it just so there's extra to slather on my slice. Sorry that this looks like a photo of a bloody brain ... not my best work. I promise it doesn't taste like a bloody brain. I've probably just completely ruined this for you, huh?


2 lbs. ground beef
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup dehydrated onion
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1/2 tsp. ground sage
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. Worchestershire sauce

1/2 cup ketchup
6 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, milk, egg, onion, pepper, mustard, sage, celery salt, garlic powder, and Worchestershire sauce and mix well. Shape mixture into an oval and place in slow cooker:

Cook on low for 5-6 hours.

In a small bowl, whisk together ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and nutmeg. Pour over meatloaf, recover and cook on high for 20-30 minutes longer.

Meatloaf can be served out of slow cooker or you can try to very carefully remove it to a platter.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Smoked Sausage with Potatoes and Green Beans

Here's a great one-dish meal that you can throw together quickly and still tastes great. I've included some basic seasoning but you could also try using an Italian dressing mix packet for a different flavor. Or Cajun seasoning. The sausage does lend a lot of flavor on it's own. My personal favorite is Hillshire Farm's Lite Smoked Sausage:

Less fat and calories and still lots of flavor. You can use any flavor sausage you want. I know some people prefer Polska Kielbasa.

This is also a great recipe for using up the fresh green beans from your garden if you are lucky enough to have one.

adapted from Grilled Sausage with Potatoes and Green Beans on

1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced
3/4 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed
1 lb. red potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium onion, wedged
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt (I prefer Kosher salt)
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and toss to coat; transfer to a 9x13 baking dish and cover with foil. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove foil, stir ingredients, and bake for 10-15 minutes more or until potatoes are tender.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tangy Mustard Chicken

In theory this marinade sounded good, but I'll be honest -- once it was made I was thinking, "really?" It looks and smells ... not so delicious. But I stuck with it and I'm so glad I did. It creates amazing flavor!

Of course, the moment I was ready to grill these babies, my grill was not -- it ran out of propane. So I ended up broiling the breasts and they still turned out great. This was my first time broiling with this particular oven and I managed to overcook them and dried them out ever so slightly, but I felt that the tasty glaze the marinade creates more than made up for it.

If you don't have a grill or just want to broil chicken breasts anyway, here's how to do it:

1. Before turning on the oven, place your broiling pan on the top rack to measure the distance from the heating element on the top of the oven. The chicken needs to be about 5-6 inches away from the heat source, so adjust your oven rack accordingly and remove the broiling pan.

2. If your oven is electric, you'll need to preheat your broiler. Spray the broiling pan with cooking spray -- do NOT line it with foil, just use the drip tray underneath:3. Lay the breasts out in an even layer on the broiling pan. For the best results it's best to pound out your breasts before hand so that they are an even thickness.

4. Broil the breasts for 5-7 minutes per side, basting as desired. The chicken is done when it is no longer pink inside and the juices run clear.

adapted from Unbelievable Chicken on

6-8 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, trimmed
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lime, juiced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
ground black pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, garlic, lime juice, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Reserve 1/4 cup marinade in a small container for basting later (keep refrigerated). Combine marinade and chicken breasts in a gallon-size Ziploc bag and marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight (I pound my chicken breasts while they are in the Ziploc bag).

Preheat grill for med-high heat. Grill chicken 6-8 minutes on each side, basting with reserved marinade, until juices run clear.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chicken Noodle Casserole

If you are looking for exciting flavors and textures ... this recipe isn't it. But if you are looking for warm and creamy comfort food, this recipe will make you very happy.

Like most comfort food, there is some fat in here. You could tweak it a bit to reduce the calories. Use reduced fat or fat free condensed soup, reduced fat or fat free sour cream, and low-fat milk. Instead of mixing the cracker crumbs (even the crackers have a reduced fat variety) with melted butter, you could sprinkle them on the casserole and spray them with butter-flavored cooking spray. I have never made it this way so I cannot vouch for it's tastiness but it can't be all bad.

adapted from Chicken Noodle Casserole I on

1 (16 oz) bag egg noodles
4 cups cooked, diced or shredded chicken
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed (about 1 1/2 cups)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook noodles according to package directions; rinse and drain. In a large bowl, whisk together soups, sour cream, milk, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and salt. Fold in chicken and noodles until thoroughly mixed. Pour into baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine cracker crumbs with melted butter and stir with a fork; sprinkle over casserole. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until heated through.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatballs

My daughter is a meatball fanatic. She loooves meatballs. She will even eat them with -heaven forbid- spaghetti sauce!

My problem with meatballs is ... well, they're just not my favorite. They can be too dry, too mushy, or just plain flavorless. Well, I think I finally figured out a meatball recipe that fixes all of those problems.

Most people have bouillon cubes or granules. My parents introduced me to beef (and chicken) base. It's essentially the same thing as bouillon but has a lot less salt. Because of this, you keep it in the fridge once you open it, but it still lasts a long time. This is the kind I get:

I know you can get it at Costco on the east coast. For some reason the Costco's in Arizona don't carry it (why is that?!) so you can order it online (never pay more than $9) or look in your local grocery.

Now why am I talking about beef base? Remember how I always found meatballs to be somewhat flavorless? I figured the best way to beef them up (pardon the pun) was too add more beef flavor. So that's what I did and I think it makes a big difference. Now, if you don't have base, you can use bouillon, but since it does have more salt, I'd leave out the dash of salt called for in the recipe.

You can use your favorite spaghetti sauce or the one I've included here.


1 lb. ground beef
3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
1 tsp. beef base or bouillon or 1 bouillon cube
1/4 cup dehydrated onion
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried basil
dash of salt

2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes with basil and garlic (Italian style)
1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. fennel seed (optional)
1/4 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil

Pour 2 cans of Italian style tomatoes into a blender and puree.

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat and saute onion and garlic until onion is tender. Add pureed tomatoes, petite diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Stir in salt, sugar, pepper, fennel, thyme, oregano, and basil and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray. In a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl, heat milk for 30 seconds or until warm. Add beef base or bouillon and stir until dissolved. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, Parmesan, egg, milk mixture, dehydrated onion, garlic powder, pepper, parsley, oregano, basil, and dash of salt until thoroughly mixed (easiest to do with your hands). Roll into 2-inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until browned. Add meatballs to sauce and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

Serve with 1 (16 oz) box of spaghetti; cooked, rinsed, and drained.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Green Chili Enchilada Casserole

This is another version of chicken enchilada casserole. Much easier than rolling up individual enchiladas. If you are not a fan of green enchilada sauce, this casserole is not for you. I didn't care for this the first time I made it and so this time around I made a few changes, including adding some cottage cheese, and now I like it a lot.

adapted from Quick and Easy Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole on

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (approx 6 cups)
18 corn tortillas
1 (28 oz) can green chili enchilada sauce
2 cups (8 oz) shredded Mexican cheese blend (or Colby-Jack)
1 cup sour cream
2/3 cup cottage cheese
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine sour cream, cottage cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Fold in chicken.

Pour a small amount of enchilada sauce in bottom of 9x13 baking dish and spread to cover. Place 6 tortillas over sauce (tortillas will overlap), and cover with half of chicken mixture. Pour 1/3 of enchilada sauce over chicken and then sprinkle with 1/3 of cheese. Add 6 more tortillas, last half of chicken mixture, another 1/3 of enchilada sauce, and another 1/3 of cheese. Top with remaining 6 tortillas and spread with remaining enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with last 1/3 of cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dilly Potato Salad

Here's a simple potato salad for a picnic or barbecue. Something different from the usual eggs, mustard, and celery variety (that I don't care for much myself). The recipe makes a lot (12 servings), so you can cut it in half if you're only serving 6.

adapted from Mom's Dill Potato Salad on

3 lbs. new red potatoes
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. dried dill weed
4 green onions, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender but still firm. Drain and cool in an ice water bath for about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together mayo and sour cream. Add dill weed, onions, and salt and pepper as desired (I like a lot of pepper).

Leaving skins on, cut potatoes into 1-inch chunks. Fold potatoes into mayo mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight for flavors to mingle.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Barbecue Ribs

You can make tender, fall off the bone ribs at home. The secret to getting the meat so tender? Boiling the ribs before you grill 'em. I know, it sounds gross, but it works.

You can use your favorite barbecue sauce or the one I've included here. For the most flavor, marinate the ribs overnight. (But a couple of hours in the fridge will be fine, too.) Since the ribs are already cooked when you marinate them in the barbecue sauce, there is no risk of passing on bacteria when you baste the ribs with the same sauce as you grill.


5-6 lbs. pork loin back ribs or spare ribs
barbecue sauce

Cut ribs into 6-inch slabs. Place ribs in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour or until meat is tender but not quite falling off the bone. Remove ribs to a large casserole dish and let cool. Slather with barbecue sauce, cover with plastic wrap and marinate in fridge for 2-3 hours or overnight.

Remove ribs from refrigerator and let stand at room temp for 15 minutes. Lightly coat grill with cooking spray. Preheat grill to med-high heat. Grill ribs 10 - 20 minutes, or until well-browned, basting with sauce and turning frequently.

adapted from Barbequed Pork Ribs on

1/4 cup butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. liquid smoke
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic in butter until the onion is tender; remove from heat. In a blender, combine vinegar, water, ketchup, honey, brown sugar, liquid smoke, and lemon juice. Pour in onion mixture and puree. Return mixture to saucepan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.