Friday, October 31, 2008

Amish White Bread

This is such a great sweet tasting bread. It is the first time I have ever baked bread without a bread machine. I got rid of the bread machine,the bread never tasted good. This is almost gone as I type this. I used extra-virgin olive oil and I only made one loaf because bread baking is usually a disaster, well not today. I plan on making this again and again.
Here is the link: Amish White Bread

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Basic Biscuits

  • 2 cups all purpose flour sifted, plus some for rolling
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder, sifted
  • 4 tbsp. butter, diced
  • 2 eggs
  • 7 tablespoons milk
  • 1 beaten egg to glaze


  1. combine flour, baking powder and butter
  2. add eggs and milk (originally the recipe called for 1 egg, but it was so dry that I added two, use your discretion)
  3. roll out on a floured surface to about 3/4 in. thickness
  4. cut with a biscuit cutter or a drinking glass
  5. lightly grease baking sheet and transfer
  6. use beaten egg to glaze
  7. bake for 8-10 minutes on 425

We served this with Chunky Beef Stew, which you can find my recipe for on this blog to the right.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Make your own Salad Night

In our home we have radically different ideas about salad and what we like in it and not in it.
So I provided the following ingredients:
1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 lb of bacon crumbled
dried cranberries
a rotisserie chicken, shredded and warm
sliced almonds
tomatoes, chopped
goat cheese
onion, chopped
hard boiled eggs
various dressings
The master salad is supposed to have lettuce, chicken, almonds, cranberries and goat cheese topped with a balsamic dressing-- i.e. my salad.

Here are the results:

The Mama Bear

The Papa Bear

The Baby Bear #1

The Baby Bear #2

Monday, October 27, 2008

Baji's Butter Chicken

I prepared everything according to the directions on the box. I added some vegetables that I had on hand, celery (sauteed first), thinly peeled carrot, onion and green pepper. I know it is probably not very authentic that way, but it stretched the meal out and provided some extra vegetables in our diet. I thought this was a pretty good product, it had the right amount of spice and was good. I've never eaten Indian food before so I have nothing to compare this to. I bought this at Costco because it looked really good, I am looking forward to trying the Chicken Tikka Masala.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tex-Mex Casserole

  • 1-1/4 lbs ground beef
  • Taco seasoning:
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • dash of cayenne or chipotle powder optional
  • sea salt, according to preference
  • pepper, according to preference
  • 1 small can tomato sauce or tomato juice
  • 1/2 green pepper chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper chopped
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 medium onion chopped
  • 2-3 cups Mexican cheese
  • 1 lb (1box) of pasta, like penne or farfalle


  1. Brown ground beef with onions, peppers, taco seasoning, (drain beef if necessary) adding tomato juice after beef is nearly done browning.
  2. boil pasta to al dente, and strain
  3. combine beef mixture, beans and corn with pasta in a big bowl or pot that you boiled pasta in
  4. layer pasta mixture with cheese
  5. bake at 300 for 1 hour or 325 for 40 minutes or until cheese bubbles.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Restaurant Reviews

The reason there have been no posts, has been because I have not been cooking. It dawned on me that I should review some of the restaurants that I have been to recently.

We took my father-in-law to Border's Cafe for his birthday. I love this place and I'll tell you why:
They serve Tex-Mex and Cajun food, what could be better? But not only that, the prices for everything are reasonable and they have the best tasting Mexican food in the area. Every other place I have ever been to in this area is bland. I have tried most of the things from the "Mexican" side of the menu. The Cajun choices sound good, but I enjoy the Guadalajara Chicken (stuffed with chorizo) and their shredded beef Burros too much to think about defecting to the other side... of the menu that is. If you have a choice for sides, get the jambalaya, it is great.

You will find medium sized portions, but everything is so reasonably priced that you could just order an appetizer without breaking the bank or have some endless warm chips and delicious salsa for gratis. Kids meals are 2.99, come with apple slices, fries, a drink and a candy for dessert.

The only complaints I have about this place is that it is too crowded inside and really noisy. The waitstaff are always kind and courteous.

Second review:

We were going to go to Chili's. We should have gone to Chili's. I know Chili's isn't gourmet dining, but it is pretty decent for a chain. For years, we had passed this place on the highway. It looked really good. The Chateau seemed to have an overflowing parking lot and usually that means good food in my book. I did not know it could also mean that a lot of people have bad taste in Italian food, but it does.

It was classy, clean and had great furnishings. But I was going there to eat, not to admire pictures of immigrants or my dining chair. My problem is that I have expectations, maybe they are high, but when I order homemade ravioli, I want it to be filled with ricotta, and warm. My ravioli had a dab of ricotta and was a little cold in the middle. I am also a red sauce snob, so I was not impressed with theirs. I ordered Chicken Francaise, which was supposed to chicken fried lightly in egg with a lemon wine sauce with mushrooms and prosciutto. What I got was Lemon Chicken Strips with Ham and Canned Mushrooms with ravioli on the side.

Everything on the menu was overpriced for the quality and portion. I have never left an Italian restaurant hungry, so this was a new experience for me. Even the kids wanted to eat dinner when they got home. So they obviously considered it a snack.

I will be going back at some point, as they have a good Sunday Brunch, where no Italian food is served.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Oh-boy-you-have-to-make-this Beef Brisket

I bought this beef brisket from Costco and used this amazing recipe. I cannot tell you how good it was. Well, actually, yes I can...

I only deviated in that, I did not have Merlot, so I used Cabernet. I also added some taters, precious. Otherwise I followed this recipe to the letter, and let me tell you... using onions as a roasting rack-- ingenious! I'm not normally an onion person but they were delicious. There was a lot of liquid left in the pan, so I strained it and popped it in the freezer to use as beef stock later.

Make this! You will not be disappointed!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sausage and 'Shroom Calzone

I started out with this recipe for a guide, but actually my mother had made something similar in the past.

I made one big one, out of some store bought pizza dough. I used a combination of hot and sweet Italian sausage and waaaay more cheese than the original recipe. I also sauteed 1/2 of a green pepper and 1/2 of a medium onion with my sausage and mushrooms. I was so eager to cut this thing up, that I forgot to take a picture of it after it was baked. I did serve it with pizza sauce; we all loved it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Shredded Chicken Sandwiches AKA "Ohio Chicken"

Alright, now I will divulge my deepest secret: How to make shredded chicken.

I found out that outside of Ohio, this is not a common thing. My husband, a New Englander, calls this "Ohio Chicken" and it is one of his favorites. I've always thought of it as either a hick food or some kind of traditional depression era cooking. Well I like it anyways so here it is:

  • 1 whole cooked chicken de-boned
  • 2 stalks of celery diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1-1 1/2 c. chicken stock, or 2-3 cubes chicken bullion
  • pepper
  • water
  • 2-3 tbsp. constarch
  • cooking oil
  • buns or rolls


  1. in a medium to large sauce pan, add 1 tbsp cooking oil, celery, and 1/4 cup broth or 2 bullion cubes and 1/4 c. water
  2. sautee celery for 4-5 minutes over medium heat
  3. add onions and cook until onions and celery are tender, add broth as needed
  4. add chicken, stirring and shredding it with a fork, adding broth as needed to keep chicken from burning
  5. dissolve cornstarch in water and add to pan, stirring frequently until thickened
  6. season with pepper to taste

If extra salt is desired, add a bullion cube (or even a little sea salt) dissolved in a little water between step 4 and 5.

Serve on a bun or your choice of bread.

Note: I usually use a chicken that I have made stock from, making a smaller batch of shredded chicken and reserving some of the meat for chicken soup

Friday, October 17, 2008

Penguin Natural Foods: Cornbread

This was so good, and easy to make. I picked it up at Costco after trying a sample. Mix, oil, milk and bake. I used half and half because we were out of milk and it was delicious and moist. I like mine with butter and honey. I'd say it is one of the best boxed products I have tried in a long time.
We had sort of a cheaper version of a Boston Market night, I picked up a rotisserie chicken form Costco and I made boiled potatoes.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

White Bean, Chicken, Poblano Chili and Tortillas

I got this recipe from Rachel Ray's Magazine it can be found here.

The only thing I did differently, as you can see, I used a food processor and instead of 3 poblanos, I used two. Also, I used the shredded Mexican cheese that I had on hand. I thought it needed extra cumin, and there were a little too many beans for my liking, but the flavor was good and I even made tortillas. It was my first time making them and they were very easy and fun to make.

For the tortillas, I use this recipe. I did not make whole wheat ones, and I halved the recipe, also I used olive oil instead of shortening. They turned out great, I would definately make them again, though I am a little worried about setting off the fire alarm again. They really made the meal, and a lot of smoke in my apartment. I wish someone had told me sooner how easy it is to make tortillas, and to open a window if I were to try it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Favorite Spinach Dip

I cannot remember where this one came from, but my mother first made it for my graduation party and we've been making it ever since.

  • box of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess water strained
  • 8oz brick of cream cheese
  • 2 cups shredded cheese, cheddar ( I use a Mexican Blend)
  • 1 bunch of green onions sliced
  • 1 small tomato, diced


  1. In a microwavable bowl, add spinach, cream cheese, shredded cheese and green onions
  2. microwave for 3 minutes in 1 minute intervals, stirring between each interval
  3. add tomatoes and mix well
  4. serve with crackers or pretzels

Note: Reduced fat cream cheese and cheeses work fine in this recipe. Sometimes, I make a tomato rose for the center, if I am bring this to a party.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fast Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

ice cream
candy sprinkles

Allow ice cream to soften and scoop onto cookie to make sandwich, press cookies together until ice cream is even, roll sides in sprinkes. Place in plastic baggies and put back into freezer for at leat 1-2 hours, or until ice cream is hard again.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Quick Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Appetizer

fresh mozzarella
fresh ground pepper
fine ground sea salt
extra virgin olive oil

Slice tomatoes and mozzarella, arranging in a fan or a line.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Drizzle with olive oil.

Optional: Add fresh basil leaves and or sliced onion

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Greek Pork Tenderloin

The Marinade Ingredients

Mix it up

Don't forget some wine for you

Served with green beans and baby potatoes


  • pork tenderloin, I buy the 2 packs at the wholesale club

  • 1 cup white wine, I usually buy Pinot Grigio, but even cheap cooking wine tastes great, just omit salt if you use it

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 4-5 cloves garlic, smashed

  • 1/4 tsp oregano

  • 1 small lemon juiced

  • 2 bay leaves

  • pinch of sea salt

  • pepper


  1. Mix everything in a big bowl, marinade tenderloin overnight, or at least 5-6 hours in fridge

  2. Cook on 325, for 45 -65 minutes or until thermometer reaches 155 or juices run clear, pork can be slightly pink in the middle, according to the new guidelines

  3. serve with your favorite sides

Note: this is also the marinade for pork souvlaki that I use, but I do not have use of a grill this week

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Chunky Beef Stew

  • 4lbs beef top round roast, cubed
  • water
  • 4-6 red potatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 lb green beans
  • 3-4 carrots, sliced and peeled
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 lb of pasta
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 8 cubes beef bullion
  • 4 bay leaves
  • pepper


  1. Add beef, onion, celery, and bay leaves to pot, covering with cold water
  2. cook on low heat for 2 hours or until beef is cooked through, stirring occasionally
  3. strain any fat or grease off of the top, remove onions, celery and bay leaves
  4. add bullion, pepper,carrots and potatoes, cook on low-medium for 1 hour
  5. add pasta, corn and green beans
  6. cook until pasta, green beans and potatoes and carrots a done
  7. add salt cautiously, if needed and pepper to taste, sometimes I even add more bullion instead of salt, if needed
    Serve with dinner rolls

Normally I make this recipe with soup bones as well, but I forgot them. This is a great recipe because you can add any of your favorite vegetables, or even beans. Overall, this is a pretty wallet-friendly recipe, and you can eat the leftovers for lunch or serve them with a grilled ham and cheese sandwich for dinner the next night.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 16-20 large stuffing mushrooms, save 10-12 of the stems
  • 1 small green pepper or 3/4 of a large green pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • garlic powder
  • 1-1.25 lbs bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup grated hard cheese such as Romano or Parmesan


  1. begin to brown sausage over medium heat
  2. chop onions, green peppers and about 10 of the stems and add to pan with a few dashes of garlic powder
  3. brown meat and cook off any excess liquid
  4. add butter and melt it, mixing it into the other ingredients
  5. allow mixture to cool enough that you can work with it
  6. grate cheese into a large bowl
  7. add meat mixture and breadcrumbs
  8. preheat oven to 350
  9. stuff mushrooms with mixture
  10. cook for 15-20 minutes or until mushrooms are tender

This can be a great appetizer or can be served as a meal with a side salad.

Save a few dollars:

  • buy store brand sausage
  • or buy sausage in bulk
  • buy mushrooms (and a big wedge of grating cheese) at a wholesale club and save any extras for dinner on another night
  • make or use your own bread crumbs


  • make your own sausage (I have yet to do this but I just bought a grinder!)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ranch Taco Salad

  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1- 1 1/4 lb ground beef, sirloin if you want to spend the extra money
  • 1/2 c. frozen corn
  • 1 carrot, shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 2-3 cups of your favorite shredded cheese, I like Kirlkand Mexican Blend
  • 1 small can tomato sauce or 1 small can tomato juice
  • Your favorite tortilla chips, I like Garden of Eatin Blues
  • Ranch Dressing
  • Hot sauce, optional
  • Taco seasoning, you can use a packet or make your own:
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • dash of cayenne or chipotle powder optional
  • sea salt, according to preference
  • pepper, according to preference


  1. Brown beef with carrots and add taco seasonings, drain fat if necessary or desired
  2. Add can of tomato juice or sauce
  3. Add corn and simmer
  4. Assemble your salad, crumbling tortilla chips on top

Save money on this meal:

  • buy beef and cheese in bulk and freeze in appropriate proportions for your family size
  • keep a good stock of seasonings on hand to avoid convenience foods, which are almost always more expensive in the long run
  • add pinto beans or black beans (at the end) with less meat or the same amount to stretch it out
  • eat leftovers in a tortilla for lunch


  • use ground sirloin (it is a lot more flavorful that regular old ground beef)
  • use a specialty cheese (like chipotle cheddar and grate it yourself)
  • use 2-3 cloves of minced garlic in place of real garlic
  • serve with cornbread on the side