Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sausage, Broccoli, Brown Rice and Parmesan Dinner

I truly had every intention of making this meal exactly as it was posted. It looked wonderful and sounded like something my husband would love. The recipe called for cheese filled chicken sausage. This is the second time that I have been on a mission for chicken sausage and I have yet to locate any in our local grocery stores! It's been quite frustrating! :) If anyone has any ideas, please feel free to share! I decided, instead, to go with a turkey Italian sausage (which is the same thing I substituted in the last dish as well). While the prep work on the meal was a bit more difficult using this option, the flavor was incredible. Looking at the pictures on Picky Palate, it seems that the sausage she used was cooked through, making it easy to slice and brown as part of her directions describe. My turkey sausage was uncooked and as I tried to slice it, it was sliding out of the casing. I was afraid that if I cooked it first (before slicing) it would dry out. Instead, I used a serrated knife and slowly cut my slices. My sausage pieces looked more like meatballs in my finished dish, but they held together well and the flavors worked really well together.

Sausage, Broccoli, Brown Rice and Parmesan Dinner
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1.25 lbs turkey Italian sausages, thinly sliced
4 cups broccoli florets, steamed until fork tender
4 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Saute bell pepper for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in garlic; cook for 1 minutes then add sausage slices. Cook for 5 minutes or until sausage is browned on both sides and all pink is gone. Add broccoli, rice and parmesan cheese. Cook for 2 minutes or so, then season with salt and pepper to your liking.
Source: Adapted from Picky Palate

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


A short while ago, I was on bedrest awaiting the birth of my little girl. During this time, an amazing group of people stepped in to help us out with basic household tasks and meals. I was astounded enough that those I love and care about immediately came through to help us out, but I was even more awed by the complete strangers that insisted on helping out, without even meeting me or my family. They simply knew that help was needed and they did not hesitate to jump in. I cannot begin to thank these people enough for what they have done for my family. It was a difficult experience to have to sit and do nothing to take care of my family, and these people kept my household running, my family fed, and made us all feel such love and support.
One dish that was brought over during this time was a goulash. I had never before tasted, much less made, goulash. As we reheated the dish, a wonderful smell filled the house. This is comfort food at its best! My husband had seconds and asked me if I knew how to make it! While I don't have this particular recipe (which was delicious, by the way!) I had seen an episode of Paula Deen where she stated that her son, Bobby, requested her goulash on his birthday every year. Apparently it is his favorite of all of her dishes. With as many good things as she makes, I assumed if this was his favorite it had to be phenomenal! One thing I will make note of is that Paula says the recipe serves 6, unless Bobby is eating. Normally, I find that recipes don't make nearly the servings I would expect-- I guess we are big eaters! I did add a little extra macaroni to the goulash, but even with that, I would say that this makes way more than 6 servings. The recipe calls for 3 pounds of meat, which seems like a lot for only 6 servings, anyway. My husband and I both had a big bowl and I have a very large container of it left in the fridge.
Bobby's Goulash
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 pound ground turkey
2 large yellow onions, chopped
2- 15 oz cans tomato sauce
2- 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon House seasoning (recipe below)
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
2 cups elbow macaroni (uncooked)
In a dutch oven, saute the ground beef and ground turkey over medium-high heat until no pink remains. Break up the meat while sauteing. Spoon off any grease. Add the onions to the pot and saute until they are tender, about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups of water, along with tomato sauce, tomatoes, garlic, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, soy sauce, House seasoning, and seasoned salt. Stir well. Place a lid on the pot and allow this to cook for 15-20 minutes.

Add the elbow macaroni, stir well, return the lid to the pot, and simmer for about 30 minutes. (Paula doesn't say to, but I found that I needed to stir my goulash during this time. With the high sugar content of the tomatoes, it was starting to stick and burn on the bottom of the pot. I would stir randomly through this cooking time.) Turn off the heat, remove the bay leaves, and allow the mixture to sit about 30 minutes before serving.
Serve with garlic bread and a salad.
Source: Paula Deen Celebrates!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Raspberry Sorbet

I'm so excited that the weather is finally warming up! I was looking for a nice cold dessert to make to celebrate the heat and thought immediately about the strawberry sorbet I had made a bit ago. I had some raspberries in the freezer and decided that I would play with them to come up with a new variation. I normally would prefer to use fresh fruit to cook with, but when making sorbet I have found that the frozen fruit more than cuts the total prep time in half! I would much rather use that time playing with my little ones. :) The texture of this sorbet is so smooth and it is sweet enough to satisfy my cravings without compromising my diet! I'd highly recommend it and plan to play with other fruits through the coming months.
Raspberry Sorbet
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 bag frozen raspberries
In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar and boil until the sugar is completely dissolved (making a simple syrup). Set aside. In a food processor, process the frozen raspberries until completely pureed. Add the corn syrup, simple syrup, and lime juice. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer directions.
Source: Adapted from Cuisinart

Friday, April 24, 2009

Chicken Scallopine

This chicken dish does not disappoint! If you have something coming up that you need a special dish for (you know-- like any day that ends in a 'y') I would highly recommend it! It came together much easier than I had expected and really presented well. By pounding out the chicken, it cooked quickly and stayed very moist. It had a great flavor and reminded me a lot of a dish that I used to get in an Italian restaurant. So good! I served it with linguine as was recommended, but I think it would go really well with most any pasta. Make sure that you use a white wine that you would drink on its own. The wine flavor was very prominent in the sauce, so it is important to get a wine that you enjoy. You won't use the whole bottle to make the dish, so you might as well enjoy a nice glass with your meal!

Chicken Scallopine
1 pound linguine
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
12 ounces white mushrooms, sliced thin
1 cup dry white wine
chicken broth (optional)
1 lemon
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 heaping tablespoon capers
fresh parsley

Cook pasta according to package directions (al dente). Flatten chicken breasts to uniform thickness. Salt and pepper both sides, then dredge in flour. Heat butter and oil in large skillet over medium heat. Fry chicken breasts until golden brown (2-3 minutes per side--though mine took a bit longer than that). Remove to a plate and set aside.

Throw mushrooms into the pan and stir. Immediately pour in wine, then squeeze juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon. Stir to deglaze the pan, then cook vigorously for 1 minute, until sauce reduces. Reduce heat to low. Pour in cream and stir, then add capers and parsley, stirring again. Turn off heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place pasta and chicken on platter and cover with sauce. Generously sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Creepy Clowns!

My husband would probably not be too thrilled with me if I stated on my blog that he was deathly afraid of clowns, so I will instead state that he has some serious 'clown issues'. It all started long before I knew him-- something about a funky crayon holder and picture in his room that he never told his parents about his fear of. Needless to say, I don't quite let him live this one down! At our cake decorating class this week, we learned how to make clown figures. Obviously, I had to take advantage and surprise him with his very own clown cake. Mean, I know. I just couldn't help myself!

(He forgave me for the cake, as long as I agreed to let him have a piece that "didn't have a creepy clown on it!")

Monday, April 20, 2009

Beijing Beef

I was craving Chinese food the other day and figured it would be a great opportunity to try a recipe off of a new blog that my sister found. She called me as soon as she found the Blog Chef site as she knew I would love the types of recipes that were posted. This is the first one I tried and I am thrilled that I did. The beef had a really nice texture after being fried (although not the healthiest option!) and the vegetables were nice and crisp. The sauce had a great flavor but I would probably go ahead and double it (the sauce only) the next time I make it. My husband and I both are big 'sauce' people and when I served it, I wished I had extra to spoon over the rice. One other change-- I was out of green peppers when making it, so I went ahead and used only red. It still tasted just as good, but wasn't quite as colorful! :)

Beijing Beef
1lb steak (sliced into thin strips)
6 tablespoons cornstarch (for dusting)
oil (for frying)

1 egg
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch

4 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons vinegar
¼ teaspoon crush chili pepper
2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon garlic (minced)
1 medium red bell pepper (diced)
1 medium green bell pepper (diced)
1 medium white onion (sliced)

Cut beef into thin strips . In a bowl or sealable bag combine all marinade ingredients and mix well. Add beef slices and marinate for 15 minutes. While beef in marinating mix all of the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate. When the beef is done marinating coat the beef slices with 6 tablespoons of cornstarch. Remove any access cornstarch and deep fry (either in a deep fryer or wok) beef slices in batches until floating or golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Add a couple tablespoons of oil to the wok and add minced garlic and stir fry for 10 seconds. Add red and green bell peppers and onions and stir fry for 2 minutes. Remove vegetables and set aside. Pour sauce into the wok and heat until boiling. In a serving dish add beef and vegetables and coat with the sauce.

Source: Blog Chef

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Chocolate Overdose Cake

I am not exhaggerating at all when I say that I LOVE chocolate. This does present quite a problem as I try to lose the rest of my baby weight! :) If you were to tell me that for the rest of my life I was only allowed to make one type of cake, this one would be it! It is a layer of the best brownies I have ever eaten (almost a fudge-like consistency), a layer of creamy chocolate mousse, a layer of rich chocolate cake, topped with a delicious ganache topping. Drooling yet? It really almost sounds 'too' rich, if that is possible, but the combination was perfect and it made an ideal dessert for special occasions.

I will admit that I was a bit intimidated by the recipe. It is long and has many steps involved. Once I forced myself to break it down and work on one layer at a time, however, it was much more accessible. I will warn that it is really best to divide this dessert into two days, starting the day before you want to serve it. Once you assemble the cake, before you spread the ganache, you have to let it cool for at least an hour. I worked up to that point, chilled it overnight, then finished it the following morning. Please do not let the length of the recipe put you off... it was very time consuming but SO worth the effort!

Chocolate Overdose Cake
For the brownie base:
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 1/8 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the chocolate mousse filling:
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, broken into 1/2-oz. pieces
1 7/8 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar

For the chocolate cake:
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/8 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1/4 cup hot water
7/8 cup sugar, divided
7/8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft

For the ganache:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
18 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2-oz. pieces

To make the brownie base, line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a round of parchment paper and spray the sides with nonstick cooking spray. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, salt and baking powder. Stir with a fork to mix. Melt the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. When the chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove the bowl from the saucepan and gradually whisk in the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add in the flour mixture in two additions, folding with a rubber spatula until completely homogenous. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Set aside, prepare the cake batter, and bake the two layers at the same time.

To make the cake, line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with a round of parchment paper. Grease and flour the sides of the pan. Combine the chocolate, cocoa and hot water in a medium heatproof bowl; set the bowl over a saucepan containing 1-inch of simmering water and stir with a rubber spatula until chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of sugar to the chocolate mixture and stir until thick and glossy, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool. Whisk flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Combine buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs and yolks on medium-low speed until combined, about 10 seconds. Add remaining sugar, increase speed to high, and whisk until fluffy and lightened in color, 2 to 3 minutes. Replace whisk with paddle attachment. Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the egg/sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated, 30-45 seconds, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing about 10 seconds after each addition. Add about one third of the flour mixture followed by half of the buttermilk mixture, mixing until incorporated after each addition (about 15 seconds). Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture (batter may appear separated). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium-low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour. Pour into prepared pan; smooth batter to edges of pan with an offset spatula.

Bake the brownie and cake layers at the same time: the brownie for 25-30 minutes and the cake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire cooling rack. Allow the brownie to cool completely in the pan. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto the wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Once the brownie layer has cooled, run a knife around the edges to separate it from the pan. Remove the sides of the springform but leave the brownie layer on the springform base. Form a ring of parchment paper around the brownie layer and extending up the sides of the springform pan - reclose the springform so that the parchment is fitted tightly to the sides.

To make the chocolate mousse filling, place a stand mixer bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer or fridge. Heat 1-inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place the semisweet chocolate in the top half of the double boiler. Tightly cover the top with plastic wrap and allow to heat for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Transfer the melted chocolate to a stainless steel bowl and set aside until needed. Place heavy cream and sugar in the well-chilled bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the chilled whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer. By hand, whisk to combine 1/4 of the whipped cream into the melted chocolate until smooth and completely incorporated. Add the combined whipped cream and chocolate to the remaining whipped cream and use a rubber spatula to fold together. Spread the mousse over the top of the brownie base evenly. Use an offset spatula to smooth the top. Place the cooled cake round over the mousse, pressing down lightly. Chill for at least 1 hour.

To make the ganache, heat the heavy cream and the butter in a saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil. Place the semisweet chocolate in a 3-quart stainless steel bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Chill 1 cup of ganache for 1 hour. Allow the remaining ganache to come to room temperature (about 40 minutes). Remove the springform ring and parchment collar from the assembled cake. Carefully transfer the cake to a serving platter, removing the springform base and parchment round. Use a spatula to smooth the room temperature ganache over the cake top and sides, covering evenly. Place the chilled ganache in a pastry bag fitted with a shell tip and pipe a shell border around the base of the cake. Pipe 12-16 rosettes around the top of the cake to indicate servings. Serve chilled and store leftovers in the fridge. Cut the cake with a hot, dry knife.

Source: Annie's Eats, originally adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Deviled Eggs

These deviled eggs are made at almost every event on my husband's side of the family. I'm not sure who the recipe came from, Aunt Paulette is normally the one to make them but my mother-in-law gave it to me as part of a recipe exchange at my bridal shower. The cousins are always pushing each other aside to grab one (from what I'm told, this has been going on for about as long as they could walk!) and it is always a fight to see who can get the last one. This was my husband's one request for his Easter dinner. I had to laugh because when I took the dish out of the refrigerator to serve with dinner, I found that several eggs were missing from the plate. He didn't even bother to move them around to fill the empty spaces! I told him his cousins would be disappointed that he didn't put more effort into his theft! :) These are by far my favorite deviled egg recipe and they are good for a few days afterwards (though they often don't last that long).

Deviled Eggs
6 eggs, hard boiled and cut in half
1 teaspoon celery, minced
1 teaspoon onion, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 dash pepper
1 dash paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon parsley
2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Mix ingredients with the egg yolks, stuff into halved eggs and sprinkle with paprika. (I use a decorating bag to fill my eggs.)

Cake Decorating Class

I had to post a picture of my first efforts at cake decorating class! I'm taking the Wilton Course 1 and we were working on star tips this week. Don't laugh!! I'm learning! :) If you are anywhere near the west side of Indy, I would highly recommend taking this class with Ronda at JoAnns!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Easter and Congratulations!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend!

I wanted to take a moment to say 'Congratulations' to a fellow blogger! Heidi, from Tried and True Cooking with Heidi, is celebrating her 100th post today! You can go to her site to enter her 100th Post Giveaway. Congratulations, Heidi, on a great blog! I love checking it for new economical and family friendly recipes!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Roast Chicken Thighs with Potatoes, Artichokes, and Lemon

I only recently found the blog "For the Love of Cooking," and I am so happy that I did. Just glancing through it quickly, I found so many recipes that I knew I would be making in the very near future. This particular recipe had me so excited because it incorporates a lot of my favorite flavors all into one dish. I'm always seeing these great recipes using Fingerling Potatoes, but unfortunately do not see them often at our grocery stores. When doing my grocery shopping last week, I found a little bag of different Fingerling varieties. The colors were so amazing that I couldn't leave them on the shelf-- and thought they would be perfect in this dish.
I have to say that this might be one of my new favorite comfort foods. It came together much more easily than I would have imagined and was actually a pretty quick meal to prepare. Even if the chicken didn't taste as amazing as it did, I would be making it again just to make my house smell as wonderful as it did. I was practically drooling while waiting for it to come out of the oven.
Roast Chicken Thighs with Potatoes, Artichokes, and Lemon
3 tbsp olive oil (divided)
5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of any fat
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Dried basil, to taste
15 frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
15 fingerling potatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
1-2 cloves of garlic, sliced into thin slivers
Zest of one lemon and the juice
1 lemon sliced into thin slices
2 tbsp chicken broth
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (garnish)
Heat a pot of water over high heat until it's boiling. Slice the fingerling potatoes down the center lengthwise then add them to the boiling water to par cook for 6-7 minutes. Remove from heat and drain water. Add the garlic slivers, lemon zest, lemon slices, artichoke hearts and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the potatoes. Season with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste, set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Season the trimmed chicken thighs with sea salt, fresh cracked pepper and dried basil to taste. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in an OVEN PROOF SKILLET (I used my dutch oven as I wasn't sure whether or not my skillets were oven proof) over medium high heat. Once VERY HOT add the chicken thighs and cook for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Turn the chicken over and remove from heat. Add the potato and artichoke heart mixture to the pan. Place the skillet in the oven and roast for 15 minutes.
Mix 1 tablespoon of olive oil, juice of one lemon and 2 tablespoons of chicken broth in a bowl. Season with dried basil, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Remove skillet from the oven and pour the lemon juice mixture over the top of everthing. Let the chicken rest for 3-4 minutes before cutting.

Source: For the Love of Cooking

Friday, April 10, 2009

Taco Salad

Sorry for the delay... I have a backlog of old posts that I haven't gotten up yet, so please bear with me!

Please do not judge this dish by its appearance. . . especially my 9 p.m. photograph of it! This taco salad is a favorite of anyone who tries it. With the crushed Doritos mixed through, it tends to be pretty kid friendly as well. I first got this recipe from my sister, but I can't remember for the life of me who she got it from. It sounds simple, but the flavor combinations are wonderful and perfect for the warmer weather. Please be warned that this recipe makes a nice amount of salad! I like it as leftovers just as much but my husband won't touch it past the first night. With the dressing mixed through it, leftovers have much more of a wilted salad consistency (which I like-- but I know a lot of people do not). To dress it up a bit, I bought a package of taco salad shells to bake right before serving. It was definitely a fun way to present it, but not totally necessary if you are looking to make a less expensive meal.

Taco Salad
1 to 1.5 heads of lettuce (depending on the size)
1 large onion, chopped
1-2 cucumbers, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 small can sliced black olives
2 large tomatoes
1.5 pounds ground chuck
1 bottle of your favorite Italian salad dressing
1 bag Doritos

Brown the ground chuck, breaking it up as you do. Drain well. Break apart the lettuce into a large bowl and add onion, cucumbers, green pepper, olives, tomatoes, and beef. Crush the entire bag of Doritos. Right before serving, add in crushed Doritos and salad dressing. Mix well.

(This is an easy meal to make ahead-- brown the beef but store in a container until ready to use. Chop and mix the other salad ingredients, waiting to add the crushed Doritos, beef, and dressing until ready to serve.)

Source: Rachel Guajardo

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Garlic Red Potatoes

As I mentioned on my last post, my mom's meatloaf really requires some good, homemade mashed potatoes served alongside it. My littlest one has been feeling sick and has required a bit of extra attention, so I unfortunately was unable to dedicate the time to peeling, cutting, boiling, mashing, etc. I did have some red new potatoes in the pantry, and after a quick web search, came up with this option. It was a simple recipe that called for everyday things I already had on hand. It was just what I was looking for!
One problem that I did have with this recipe was that the cooking time was way off, resulting in my meatloaf being finished well before my potatoes were. I would suggest either cutting your potatoes into smaller pieces or allowing for a longer cooking time. The flavor of these potatoes was perfect but they required a significant amount more time in order to be finished. I've listed the recipe as I found it.

Garlic Red Potatoes
2 pounds red potatoes, quartered
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place potatoes in an 8x8 inch baking dish. In a small bowl combine melted butter, garlic, salt and lemon juice; pour over potatoes and stir to coat. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over potatoes. Bake, covered, in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Mom's Meatloaf

Meatloaf is one of those meals where no matter where I am or how old I get, I always feel like I am a kid living back at home. My sisters and I were recently teasing our mom that there were certain meals that always came with the same side dishes and the same traditions. Mom's meatloaf was always served with mashed potatoes and spinach, with a side of applesauce and cinnamon, prepared on Friday nights. (Mine would have been served with those same sides had I been able to spend more time in the kitchen making mashed potatoes-- it just doesn't taste the same with out them!) If we were really lucky, we got to eat on our Cabbage Patch TV trays while watching Dallas. Even as I write this, I hear the Dallas theme music in the background. . . scary, huh?

As much as I tease, I love that this meal has such comforting memories attached to it. I can only hope that one day my own children will be able to look back on the moments that we are creating now with as much appreciation and respect.

Mom's Meatloaf

3 pounds ground chuck
3 large eggs
2 medium to large onions
1 small or 1/2 large green pepper
25 saltines, finely crushed
3/4 cup milk
barbeque sauce (I always use Sweet Baby Rays)
1 cup applesauce (optional)
garlic salt

Break apart ground chuck in a large mixing bowl. Place eggs into a food processor and add onions and green pepper (both quartered). Process eggs, onions, and green pepper until finely chopped. Add egg mixture to meat along with the crushed saltines, milk, BBQ sauce to taste, applesauce (if desired), and seasonings. Mix well and place meat mixture in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Form into an oblong loaf. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-75 minutes.

**Note: The meatloaf can be baked adding nothing or you can choose one of the following options: 1.) Brush top with BBQ sauce and also place sliced onion on top, or 2.) Mix one can of tomato or cream of mushroom soup with 1/3 cup of water and pour over meatloaf before baking.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Frosted Mini-Chip Peanut Butter Cupcakes

I decided a while back that I have no choice but to jump on the cupcake bandwagon with the rest of the world! I love the option for personalized decorating and the ability to make these adorable individualized treats for someone special to enjoy. My friend Christy and I both jumped on this recipe in a new cookbook that she received for her birthday. (I kind of feel like it was my birthday as well, since she was nice enough to share her new books with me!) The original recipe was for a simple peanut butter cupcake with cream cheese frosting. Christy had the idea to add the mini chocolate chips to the batter and also as a final garnish. I honestly can't imagine them without this addition. They were wonderful! My husband was excited as well as one of his favorite candies is the Reeses Peanut Butter Cup. He decided that this really was the cupcake form of it. So good and definitely one we will be making again.

Just a side note. . . when making the frosting, we came dangerously close to adding more liquid. It seemed way too thick and definitely needed something. I'm glad we were patient because it eventually loosened up and came together perfectly. It might even be my new favorite frosting! Enjoy!

Frosted Mini-Chip Peanut Butter Cupcakes
4 tablespoons softened butter
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup peanut butter (we used smooth)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1 cup mini chocolate chips (plus additional for garnish)

1 cup softened cream cheese
2 tablespoons softened butter
2 cups confectioners' sugar

Put 16 muffin paper cases in a muffin pan. Put the butter, sugar, and peanut butter in a bowl and beat togeter for 1-2 minutes or until well mixed. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla. Sift in the flour and baking powder and then, using a metal spoon, fold them into the mixture, alternating with the milk. Carefully fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the paper cases. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until well risen and golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

To make the frosting, put the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl and, using a electric whisk, beat together until smooth. Sift the confectioners' sugar into the mixture, then beat together until well mixed. When the cupcakes are cold, spread teh frosting on top of each cupcake, swirling it with a round-bladed knife. Sprinkle the top with additional mini chocolate chips. Store the cupcakes in the refrigerator.

Source: Adapted by Christy's Kitchen Creations, originally from Perfect Baking

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Holy yum. Sorry, but I just can't help myself. I know I've been on a Pioneer Woman kick lately, and even though I feel like I have said it a few times, this one TRULY is my new favorite. This pasta dish tastes like it comes straight from an Italian restaurant. It was incredibly easy to throw together and reheats wonderfully through the week. My husband called it 'girl food' but he had no problem polishing off an entire plate of it. I find myself eating pasta all year long, but this sauce definitely provides a lighter alternative for what will hopefully be warm summer months.

On her website, Pioneer Woman gives some wonderfully detailed directions on roasting your own peppers. I actually took a shortcut and used the rest of the jar of roasted red peppers that I had purchased to make my tuna noodle casserole a little while back. If you can fit these two dishes into your rotation, it is a great way to share ingredients and save a little money.

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

1 jar roasted red pepper pieces
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup heavy cream
Flat leaf parsley, finely minced
Fresh Parmesan, shaved or grated
1 pound pasta (I used bowtie)

Puree roasted red peppers in a food processor or blender. Set aside. Cook pasta according to package directions. In a skillet or pot over medium heat, drizzle in olive oil. Add diced onions and garlic and cook until soft. Pour in pepper puree and stir together. Add plenty of salt.
Pour in cream and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt, if necessary. Add cooked pasta, then stir together. Place pasta into a bowl, top with chopped parsley and plenty of shaved Parmesan.

Source: Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Broiled Parmesan Tilapia

I love seafood! When I go out, I love looking for new seafood dishes and will try most anything (as long as it's cooked-- I haven't been able to do sushi yet!). When it comes to cooking my own, however, I always seem to fall back on my standard salmon recipe. For a long time, salmon was all I would buy. I knew how to make it and I knew it was a safe dish that my husband would eat! My sister has been raving about how much she likes tilapia for quite a while, so I decided that it was about time to try it. She posted a similar recipe on her blog, Rachel vs. The Kitchen, only she warned that hers had a little bit of an extra 'kick' to it. I typically don't cook with a lot of spice, especially while I am nursing my little one. The poor thing would be up miserable all night if I did! I found this recipe on and my husband and I both loved it. It was fast to cook, fast to prep, and had a wonderful flavor. My husband even said it might be a new favorite of his-- who knew! :) I'm anxious to have my sister try this one to see how it compares to hers. I will definitely be making it again!

Broiled Parmesan Tilapia

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
2 pounds tilapia fillets

Preheat your oven's broiler. Grease a broiling pan or line pan with aluminum foil. In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with dried basil, pepper, onion powder and celery salt. Mix well and set aside. Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes. Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to over cook the fish.