Monday, March 31, 2008

Macaroni and Cheese

The boy and I survived our trip to CA. It was my first time flying alone with him, so I was pretty nervous, but he was great! God bless the inventor of the portable DVD player!! We had fun visiting my sis-in-law and nephew's. The boy had a great time with his cousins. He was so sad when we got home.

Now it's back to the daily grind. I wanted relatively easy stuff to make for dinner this week, so I thought we'd start of with my mother-in-law's macaroni and cheese. It's so yummy and so cheesy and so ridiculously easy to make. I'm tempted to mix it up this afternoon and stick it in the fridge, but I'm concerned it wouldn't be as gooey and yummy and cheesy if I did that. Plus I have enough to do during nap time.

Aurelia's Macaroni and Cheese
(these are "unmeasured ingredients", add to your taste)
hot boiled macaroni (8 to 12 ounce bag)
1 bag of shredded cheddar cheese (~8oz)
parmesan cheese (1/4 cup)
butter or margarine (1/2 stick)
few tablespoons of milk

boil macaroni
mix all other ingredients into the hot macaroni
place in 350 oven for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted
(toss in other cheeses as you like. ie american is good)


I was putting cheese away in my cheese drawer after grocery shopping today and realized I have almost a whole block of cheap grocery store brand parmesan cheese, so I'm going to try to use up quite a bit of that in this tonight. I'm going to Costco on Wednesday and want to make the transition to REAL parmigiano-reggiano cheese. I'll feel more justified in doing that if this cheap stuff is gone.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


The lasagna was pretty good. The husband and I agreed it wasn't the best we'd ever had, but it was tasty. The boy hardly at any, but he hasn't been eating much since he was sick over the weekend. Don't you hate when your kids don't eat? It makes me worry...and I worry a lot as it is. I don't know if I'd make this version of lasagna again, maybe if I had all the stuff on hand. The sauce was really good; on its own it would be a great meat sauce for spaghetti. I think I'm going to try and recreate my perfect lasagna next time I do lasagna...only with real meat this time instead of soy.

Pioneer Woman's Best Lasagna Ever

I have a new website obsession. Okay, two websites. The Pioneer Woman and The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Thanks to the BTB girls for turning me on to the cooking one, then I found the other one through there. This woman is HILARIOUS. And she's an awesome photographer. The PW website is under construction right now, so you might have to wait a couple days to check it out. I'm slowly working my way through reading all the recipes on the PWC website...there are some things I'm DYING to try. If I didn't care so much about my weight, I'd probably have made a lot of them by now.

Anyway, I wanted to make lasagna for dinner tonight because the boy and I are heading out of town tomorrow for four days. I figured having lasagna would give the husband leftovers to eat while we're gone instead of him getting pizza every night. Let's hope it works. I'm going to be pretty mad if I come home and the same amount of lasagna is in the fridge as when I left. I'll also be mad if my house is in any state other than what I left it. Love you, husband, but consider yourself warned. Happy wife, happy life.

I digress. I was going to make the same old lasagna recipe I always make (my mom's...which is very yummy), then I saw one on PWC that I thought I'd try. I read through all the comments (all 314 of them) and decided it would be worth trying. A couple food snobs didn't like it (or didn't like her choice of ingredients), but for the most part it got rave reviews from everyone else. I'm excited to try it.

Pioneer Woman's Best Lasagna Ever
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1 pound hot breakfast sausage (Jimmy Dean’s bulk)
2 cloves minced garlic
2 14.5 oz cans whole tomatoes
2 6 oz cans tomato paste
2 T dried parsley flakes
2 T dried basil
1 t salt
10-oz package of lasagna noodles, cooked to al dente
1 lb sliced mozzarella cheese

Mix together:
3 cups lowfat cottage cheese, 2 beaten eggs, ½ cup Kraft Parmesan cheese, 2 T dried parsley flakes, 1 tsp salt

In a skillet, combine 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, 1 pound hot breakfast sausage, and 2 cloves minced garlic. Cook until brown. Drain off about half the fat (or more, to taste). After that, add two 14.5-oz cans of whole tomatoes, two 6-oz cans of tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of dried parsley flakes, 2 tablespoons dried basil and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix together thoroughly and simmer, uncovered, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the meat mixture is cooking, mix 3 cups lowfat cottage cheese in a bowl with 2 beaten eggs. To the cottage cheese, add 1/2 cup Kraft Parmesan Cheese. 2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes, and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix together well.

Now, go ahead and build your assembly line: meat mixture, 1 pound sliced mozzarella cheese, cottage cheese mixture, and cooked lasagna noodles. Lay four cooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of the pan, overlapping as you go. Spread half of the cottage cheese mixture evenly over the noodles. Then lay 1/2 pound of mozzarella cheese slices on top of the cottage cheese mixture. With the spoon, make a line through the middle of the meat mixture so you’ll distribute it evenly. Spread a little less than half of the meat mixture over the mozzarella cheese slices until it’s evenly distributed. Repeat and finish with meat mixture. Top with a pretty generous layer of good ole Kraft grated parm.

Now pop it in a 350-degree oven for 20-30 minutes, until hot and bubbly. (Alternately, you could cover and freeze it, unbaked, at this point or cover and refrigerate, unbaked, for up to two days before baking.)


Quite a few of the reviews said it was too salty, so I think I'll probably leave out the extra salt. I'm using shredded mozzarella because I couldn't find sliced mozzarella, the block of mozzarella was expensive, and I already had an 8 ounce bag, so I only needed to buy one more.

I had recently decided I was only going to use Parmigiano-Reggiano going forward. I used to use the parmesan cheese in a can, then switched to buying it already shredded, then to buying a chunk of parmesan and grating it myself with my awesome microplane. Slowly I'm making the transition to the good stuff. I hesitated to make this recipe when I saw the canned cheese because that's a major step back for me, but I'm going to try it and see how it turns out. The can of cheese was only $2-something, so not a big deal. Can of cheese...that sounds so wrong.

I just mopped my kitchen, so once I've given that time to dry I think I'll assemble the lasagna, so that's one less thing I have to do once the boy is up from his nap. Fingers crossed we like it!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Tofu Lo Mein

The boy and I are heading out of town on Wednesday to visit my sister-in-law and nephews in CA. We're so excited to see them!! I wanted something we had everything on hand for tonight, tomorrow I'm making lasagna. I'm toying with trying a new recipe...we'll see. Anyway, we haven't had this in awhile and I really like it. I have a "stupid Claire" confession I'll post after the recipe. No scrolling down to see that first!

Tofu Lo Mein
1 (16 ounce) package extra firm tofu
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 (3 ounce) packages Oriental flavored ramen noodles
1 (16 ounce) package frozen stir-fry vegetables
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon soy sauce, or to taste

Press tofu between paper towels to remove some of the water; cut in to bite size cubes. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu, and fry until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

Meanwhile bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add noodles from ramen packages, reserving the seasoning envelopes. Boil for about 2 minutes, just until the noodles break apart. Drain.

Add the stir-fry vegetables to the pan with the tofu, and season with the ramen noodle seasoning packet. Cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender, but not mushy. Add noodles, and stir to blend. Season with soy sauce to taste and serve.


So, I've made this a few times and I thought the recipe called for one package of ramen noodles. You can even go back and read the reviews and I flat out say "this should have more noodles" or something along those lines. When I was copying the recipe to paste in here, I realized it DOES call for two packages. D'oh! I'm so dumb. So, if you've read this recipe in the past and thought, "What's she talking about, needing two packages of noodles?! That's what it calls for!" Now you know. I apparently don't know how to read numbers...strange since I used to work in finance and was good at my job.

My tofu is sizzling on the stove as I type this. I'm so hungry. Oooh...I need to see if I still have some egg rolls in the freezer!


The pie was amazing. Lordy mama, she was all lovey-dovey!! I still have two or three slices worth I'll need to eat. The sauce is to die for. I wish I could take a bath in it...but not in a gross way. My mom didn't want any last night, so I left her a piece for today and some sauce. She said she was tempted to drink the sauce from the container I put it in. I told her there's no shame in that. I'll have to take a picture of my piece before I eat it tonight...assuming I remember before devouring it.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Fudge Crostata with Raspberry Sauce

Sounds fancy, doesn't it? Fudge Crostata. This pie makes life worth living. My awesome sister-in-law Tracie sent me this recipe years ago, like a few months after the husband and I had met. Then I lost it. Then she sent it to me again. Then I lost it. Then she sent it to me again. Then I lost it. I just recently asked her for it again after sucking up my pride since I had asked her for it so many times before. She willingly sent it of the reasons she's so awesome! And really I did her a favor because she'd forgotten about it and now wants to make it. But there's no way I'll lose it again. For one thing, it's here...immortalized forever.

The first time I made this was for a girl's night I had a looooooooooong time ago. The raspberry sauce was fan-freakin-tastic. We were dipping anything we could find it. I may have eaten it with a spoon. Or drank it from the container...but I wouldn't ever admit that if questioned. Ah the things you can do when you live alone. The last time I remember making it was a few months before the husband and I got married, probably about five years ago. Way too long.

My mom asked me to bring dessert for Easter dinner, and frankly I jumped at the chance so I could make this luscious, tasty, delectable, amazing, chocolatey dessert. I won't keep you waiting any you go.

Fudge Crostata with Raspberry Sauce
1 pkg semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup ground almonds, optional
1 egg
1 egg, separated

1-12oz pkg frozen raspberries without syrup, thawed
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

whole raspberries, sweetened whipped cream

Prepare pie crust according to package for two crust pie using 10" tart pan or 9 inch pie plate. Place 1 prepared crust in pan, press in bottom and up sides of pan. Trim sides.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. In small saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate chips with 2 Tbsp butter, stirring constantly until smooth. In medium bowl, beat remaining 6 Tbsp butter with 2/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add almonds, 1 egg,, egg yolk and melted chocolate. Blend well. Spread mixture evenly over bottom of pie crust-lined pan.

To make a lattice top, cut remaining crust into 1/2" strips. Arrange strips in a lattice design over chocolate mixture. Trim edges and seal. In small bowl, beat egg white until foamy, brush over lattice. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes. Reduce temp to 350. Bake an additional 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cover edge of pie crust with strips of foil after 15-20 minutes of baking to avoid brown edges. cool.

In a blender, blend raspberries at highest speed until smooth. Press through strainer to remove seeds. In small saucepan, combine raspberry puree, 3/4 cup sugar and lemon juice. blend well. Bring mixture to a boil over medium low heat. Boil 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Cool. Serve pie with sauce.


Are you drooling all over your computer? I am...I'm not ashamed to admit it. I'm probably drooling more than you because I can smell the pie cooling on my counter. I hate melting chocolate. I hate double boilers even more. So I melt chocolate in the microwave. Just make sure you use a glass bowl. I lost my most favorite plastic mixing bowl melting stuff in the microwave...and had a huge mess in my microwave.

Oh, I left out the almonds. I think I've used them when I made it before, but this time I decided to leave them out and just have pure chocolate.

Darn, I should have taken pictures when I was making the lattice crust. It's pretty easy to do, just weave the crust.

The boy is up from his nap, so I need to make the raspberry sauce. I tried to do it when he was sleeping, but he started making noise. Darn noisy blender. My food processor is much quieter.

I'll report back later how it was, but I'm pretty sure it's going to be amazing.

Deviled Eggs

We had to do something with the Easter eggs we colored, and this was all I could think of. My aunt is bringing deviled eggs to Easter dinner already, but the husband loves them, so we figured more is fine. Although the husband thought DEVILED eggs were kind of ironic for Easter. Oh well.

Seeing as I'd only ever made these one other time (not a big egg fan...I always have to look up how to cook hard-boiled eggs), I found a recipe on that sounded good, so I went with that but tweaked it a bit.

Cajun Deviled Eggs
6 eggs
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon prepared Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1. Place eggs in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool and peel.
2. Slice eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and place in a medium bowl. Set aside egg whites. Mashing with a fork, mix mayonnaise, Dijon-style mustard, salt and black pepper with the egg yolks.
3. Fill the hollowed egg white halves with the yolk mixture. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper, adjusting the amount to taste. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until serving.


Instead of cayenne pepper I used Tony Chachere's, and I mixed it in with everything else, then I sprinkled some on the top, too. I think I maybe used a bit too much mayo. Oh well.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


I have a sick kid in my house. For those of you that have kids, you feel my pain I'm sure. We think it started from heat exhaustion, but he still had a fever all day today. Last night we took him to urgent care, the fever was that high. My fingers are crossed that he wakes up tomorrow morning all better. I don't want my little boy sick for Easter! Which reminds me, I need to get his Easter basket together.

When I was figuring out dinners for this week, the husband said we should grill tonight. We don't remember which of us suggested kebabs, but we were both really pleased with them. My bestest friend got us these way cool kebab skewers for Christmas. Aren't bestest friends awesome?! We love you, Brooke!!! (And if you haven't ever been to that website, can easily drop a big chunk of change there on all the cool stuff they have.)

I don't have a real recipe for these. We used chicken, sausage, red and oragne peppers, baby yukon gold potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and mushrooms. Yummy!! We stuck the pieces on the skewers and then threw those on the grill. Unfortunately the husband burned his hand grabbing a skewer to keep it from falling and letting the dog eat raw chicken. Poor guy. Anyway, we left them on there until the chicken was cooked. Some of the potatoes were a little undercooked, but everything else was fine. I LOVE grilled mushrooms. The husband liked the sausage best.

We're headed to my mom's tomorrow for Easter dinner, but I'm taking dessert. I'm making this amazing chocolate pie recipe my sister-in-law Tracie gave me several years ago. I had lost the recipe, but she very graciously sent it to me for something like the millionth time. I can't wait to have it...I think the last time I made it was before the husband and I were married.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Chili Cheese Tortilla Wraps

We were going to have this later in the week, but I realized the dinner I planned for tonight wasn't going to work out. Don't you hate when you figure that out in the afternoon?! I guess better the afternoon than 5:00. That's even worse. It worked out because I was able to throw it together this afternoon instead of having to slave in the kitchen when the husband got home. I hate being a kitchen slave. ;)

I'm excited to have this because we haven't had it in a really long time. It's one we seemed to be having pretty often, so I took it out of rotation. The husband is SO EXCITED we're having's one of his favorites.

Chili Cheese Tortilla Wraps
1 16-oz can nonfat refried beans
1 8-oz package nonfat cream cheese, cut into cubes and softened
1 4-oz can diced green chilies, drained
3/4 cup chopped green onions
1 cup nonfat shredded cheddar cheese
4 98% fat free flour tortillas

Spray inside of slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine refried beans, cream cheese, chilies, and green onions in slow cooker and mix well. Cover and cook on low heat for 4 hours or high heat for 2 hours, stirring once or twice during cooking. If cooking on low heat, increase to high. Stir in 3/4 cup of the cheesse and sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over top. Warm tortillas. Spoon bean mixture into tortillas; roll and serve immediately. Can be served with tortilla chips instead of tortillas.


I skipped the green onions this time because I didn't feel like cutting them up when I was putting everything together...which was good because the green onions I had were pretty pathetic looking. I'll let you in on a secret...I'm not very good about cleaning out the produce drawers in my fridge. At least they were still solid. Yes, produce can turn into liquids if you didn't know that. Learned that one the hard way! Maybe I should delete that. Nah, maybe it will make someone feel better about the state of their fridge. ;)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Shepherd's Pie

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!! Are you wearing your green today? I wasn't...the bank teller reminded me. Not so good for a girl with an Irish husband! So I changed shirts when I got home. Conveniently the boy wanted all of his clothes off when I changed his diaper, so I swapped out his outfit for something with green, too.

I bought a six pack of Guinness when I was grocery shopping today and we're having Shepherd's Pie for dinner. Probably not the most Irish meal, but we had it when we were in Ireland, so I figured it counts. Granted, we also had pizza while we were there, but that wasn't something on the menu everywhere we went. Now if I was really being Irish, I'd make fries to go with it because EVERYTHING we ate in Ireland came with fries. Yes, even the pizza. Seriously.

I actually bought an Irish cookbook while we were there, but I flipped through it last night and nothing really seemed feasible to make. Or rather nothing I wanted to make or nothing that sounded good that all three of us would eat.

Shepherd's Pie
1 lb ground beef
1 packet brown gravy mix
1 package frozen mixed vegetables
Mashed potatoes
Shredded cheddar cheese

Brown ground beef in a skillet until cooked. In a small saucepan, make gravy according to package directions. Once ground beef is done, stir in vegetables and gravy until desired sauciness. Transfer beef/veggie/gravy mixture to a pie pan or 8-inch square pan. Top with mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with cheese. Place under broiler until cheese is melted.


This is so easy to make...I love it. I think I'm going to use Boca Grounds instead of ground beef since we're still trying to cut back more on our meat consumption. I need to get started on it soon. I have a free Coldstone coupon that expires today, so we have to run over there tonight after dinner. I am not one to let free ice cream go to waste!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Stuffed Pork Chops

I was going to post this earlier today, but it was something I was creating as I went, so that wasn't going to work. I had this idea for pork chops a couple weeks ago but kept pushing it back on the menu. Plus I wanted to come up with a sauce and wasn't tasting anything in my head that went with it. Tasting in my head? You know what I mean.

So I knew the basics of what I wanted to do but looked for a recipe anyway. I found one on the Whole Foods website (who knew they had recipes on there?! Guess what I'm doing during nap time tomorrow!!) and one with a sauce kind of like what I was looking for from a Google search (here it is). The second one I liked the idea of the sauce, not the actual recipe. The Whole Foods recipe was pretty close to what I wanted to do.

Darn...I meant to write down what I was doing as I did it. I think I remember all of it.

Stuffed Pork Chops
1 box cornbread Stove Top
2 handfuls Craisins
2 handfuls pecans
4 pork chops
3/4 cup apple juice
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp cornstarch

Prepare Stove Top according to package directions. Chop pecans using food processor or food chopper. Add Craisins and pecans to Stove Top and mix. Make a pocket in each pork chop (similar to how I did the chicken in this recipe) and stuff with Stove Top mixture. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray the pork chops with canola oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. In a medium size skillet, sauté each pork chop for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove each pork chop and place in a sheet pan. Cook the pork chops in the oven for approximately 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the apple juice, syrup, mustard, and butter. Whisk together until almost boiling. Add in corn starch, whisk, and heat until sauce is thickened. Spoon sauce over pork chops.


I hate having to write out my own recipes. I hope it makes sense. The Stove Top was kind of bland, which I probably should have expected. I was originally going to add apples to it but only had Gala, and I thought they'd be too sweet for this. I also meant to use chicken stock instead of water, like in the Whole Foods recipe. I thought after I had stuffed the pork chops some flat leaf parsley would have added some fresh flavor. I wanted to add some sage but didn't have any. Note to self...add sage to grocery list.

So...I'm ridiculously pleased with myself for the sauce. It was AWESOME. I could have eaten the whole saucepan of it and skipped using it on the pork chops. The pork chops were really good too. I assume part of the goodness was the awesome sauce. Did I mention how awesome it was? It was case I hadn't made that clear. ;)

All in all, this was a really good dinner. We had the leftover Stove Top on the side along with Color Glazed Carrots. I would definitely make this again!!

(BTW, the husband said he gives it four thumbs up...which I guess is good.)

Pan-Fried Tilapia with White Wine and Capers

I've fallen behind again...what else is new. The husband and I have had a date weekend...grandma kept the boy starting Friday afternoon through yesterday evening! It was awesome. I didn't cook Friday night or last night, this was our dinner on Thursday. It's a Weight Watchers recipe since we're still trying to each drop a few pounds. I copied it off the WW website before I quit my membership.

Pan-Fried Tilapia with White Wine and Capers
1/4 cup white wine, dry
1/4 cup tomato(es), seeded and chopped
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp capers, drained
1 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 pound raw tilapia, four 6-oz pieces
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 sprays cooking spray
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp light butter
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
1 medium lemon(s), cut in wedges (optional)

Combine first 6 ingredients, stirring well with a whisk; set aside. Sprinkle fillets with salt and pepper. Dredge fillets lightly in flour, and coat both sides of fillets with cooking spray. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fillets; cook 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; turn fillets, and cook 3 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Remove from pan. Add wine mixture to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in butter until melted. Spoon wine mixture over fillets; sprinkle with parsley. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet and 2 tablespoons sauce).


This was pretty good. I love tilapia because it's a really mild fish, and it's super easy to cook. I liked the sauce for this, but I think next time I'd reduce the amount of capers. The flavor of them kind of overpowered the other components of the sauce. It's one I'd make again. We have tilapia pretty often, so I like to have a good rotation of recipes for it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Quick Boca Pasta Dinner

So first of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! Well, yesterday anyway. That's why I've been MIA the past few days. Sunday night we went to my grandma's for my family birthday dinner. She made me veal birds, but it's not really veal. It's round steak pounded thin, then topped with stuffing, and rolled up. My grandma's stuffing is AWESOME, so I thought this was a great way to have it but not have turkey. She also made me carrot cake, again AWESOME.

Anyway, Monday was my actual birthday and the plan I had for dinner fell through. We were going to get Chinese food but decided that didn't sound very good. The husband said he'd cook for me (wow...twice in a year already!) and finally decided on patty melts since I have never had one. For those of you not in the know, a patty melt is a burger with grilled onions in a grilled cheese sandwich. It was so good! I have a fantastic husband!

But tonight it was back to realty. It seemed like we've been on a beef binge lately, so we wanted some vegetarian meals to get back on track. That meant I had to redo my menu for the week, but whatever. I checked the Boca website for recipes and came across this one. I changed it up a bit, however.

Quick BOCA® Pasta Dinner
8 oz. whole wheat corkscrew noodles
1 jar (26 oz.) spaghetti sauce
2 pouches (1 cup each) BOCA Meatless Ground Burger
1 bag (16 oz.) frozen Italian-style vegetable combination
2 Tbsp. KRAFT 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese

COOK pasta as directed on package.
MEANWHILE, mix spaghetti sauce, ground burger and vegetables in large saucepan; cook on medium heat until heated through, stirring occasionally.
DRAIN pasta; place on large platter. Top with sauce; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.


I couldn't find Italian-style veggies, so I used California instead (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots). Once the pasta was drained, I put the sauce in the pan with the pasta and mixed in some feta instead of parmesan cheese. I had way too much sauce for the amount of pasta. Oh, and I used penne instead of corkscrews.

This. Was. Awesome. We all really liked it, and I loved the feta mixed into it! Our friend Ed was here for dinner and had some and gave his approval as well. There's quite a bit left which will be nice for lunches the next couple days!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Pecan Crusted Chicken

So, a few weeks ago my MOPS group had a Mom's Night Out at one of those Dream Dinners places, where you go and prep meals to stick in your freezer. I'd been really curious about them but didn't want to spend the money to actually go to one as the meals seemed on the expensive side to me. But this was free, so I figured it was worth going. We assembled pecan crusted chicken, and I made note of the ingredients in case it was good so I could make it again on my own. My friends Jen A. and Jen B. made theirs already and gave it mixed reviews. Jen A. really liked it, Jen B. thought it was okay.

I couldn't decide if I should type up the recipe like you're going to freeze it or make it, but I decided I'd do it as if you're going to make it. If you want the freeze directions, let me know and I'll post them as well.

Pecan Crusted Chicken
3 frozen chicken breasts
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 Tbsp diced garlic
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2/3 cup crushed pecans

Marinate chicken in buttermilk, thyme, and garlic for one hour to overnight. Combine Panko, salt, pepper, and pecans in a shallow dish. Discard marinade. Place chicken breasts into crumb mixture, pressing crumbs onto both sides.

Place chicken on cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Lightly spray top of chicken. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-18 minutes.


We thought the chicken was only okay. It's probably not something I'd make on a regular basis, but it wasn't bad. I have chicken recipes I make that I like better. And I definitely wouldn't pay the $13 Dream Dinner charged for three servings of it. I had used closer to a tablespoon of garlic, and it kind of overpowered the flavor of everything else. I couldn't taste too much of the pecans. It was nice that it was all put together and all I had to do was stick the whole thing in the fridge to defrost this morning, but like I said I don't think it's something I'd make on my own.

Tomato Basil Quiche

I had some pie crusts in my freezer, so I thought I'd make a quiche because I also had Egg Beaters to use up. We were going to have this on Wednesday night, but since grandma was keeping the boy, we couldn't pass up going out! We had it last night after the boy went to bed. Believe it or not, this was my first time making quiche. It was so easy, I'll definitely be putting more quiche (quiches?) into rotation! I found the recipe on and used some of the modifications suggested in the reviews.

Tomato and Basil Quiche
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 tomatoes, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dried basil
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust
1 1/2 cups shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese, divided

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Bake pie shell in preheated oven for 8 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until soft; remove from skillet. Sprinkle tomato slices with flour and basil, then saute 1 minute on each side. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. season with salt and pepper.
3. Spread 1 cup shredded cheese in the bottom of pie crust. Layer onions over cheese, and top with tomatoes. Cover with egg mixture. sprinkle top with remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until filling is puffed and golden brown. Serve warm.


So, instead of slicing tomatoes I diced them after taking out all the seeds so they wouldn't be too soggy. I also used fresh basil. I put the tomatoes and basil into a bowl and added in some Italian breadcrumbs (didn't measure, just poured) and mixed them around until the tomatoes were coated with the breadcrumbs. I also cooked the onions so they were more caramelized than just soft.

We both really liked it! The husband had three or four servings, actually! There wasn't a whole lot left for today (the recipe said it was for six servings). The nutritional information was given on the website, and it seemed really high to me...383 calories and 26 grams of fat per serving! I'm thinking mine was healthier since I used Egg Beaters instead of regular eggs, skim milk, and 2% cheese.

Cheeseburger Hoagies

Man, my allergies have been killing me this week! I had intended to update my blog yesterday, but I napped while the boy napped because I was just so beat. Thankfully today I'm feeling better, but the weather's gone all cloudy. Of course I was down and out when it was nice. :P Oh well.

We had these cheeseburger hoagies for dinner on Thursday night. Wednesday the husband and I had a pre-birthday celebration date night because the boy was at my mom's. I like to stretch my birthday out for as long as possible (it's this coming Monday, by the way), so I'm off to a decent start. ;) Anyway, we had these quite awhile ago and really liked them. I was reviewing the blog for recipes we hadn't had in awhile and saw this.

Cheeseburger Hoagie Sandwiches
1 package (11 ounces) refrigerated French bread dough
4 slices reduced-fat American cheese, divided
12 ounces 95% lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tsp yellow mustard
1 cup thinly sliced iceberg lettuce
1 plum tomato, sliced

Preheat oven to 350. Place bread dough on cutting board, stretch slightly. Cut dough into four equal portions. Cut three diagonal slits on top of each portion of dough; place seam side down and 3 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake 20-22 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove loaves from baking sheet to a cooling rack.

Cut two slices of the cheese into small pieces. In a 10-inch skillet, cook and stir beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat 8-10 minutes or until no longer pink, breaking beef into crumbles. Drain. Stir in ketchup, mustard, and cut-up cheese; stir until cheese is melted. Remove skillet from heat.

Slice each loaf lengthwise, end to end, cutting halfway through to center of loaf; spread open. Fill evenly with beef mixture; place on baking stone. Bake 6-8 minutes or until bread is toasted and meat mixture is heated through; remove from oven.

Cut remaining cheese slices diagonally in half; top each sandwich with one cheese traingle. Top sandwiches with lettuce and tomato slices.


I think I liked these better the first time I made them. That time I used hoagie rolls instead of the french bread. The "buns" I got from the french bread loaf were really small, maybe three or four inches each, even after I tried stretching them out. I also used shredded cheese instead of slices and skipped the lettuce and tomato because I didn't have any. The filling was really good, but I just didn't like using the french bread. Pampered Chef recipes for whatever reason are all about the Pillsbury refrigerated dough products...I've never understood it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Greek Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Feta

I figured I go back into the recesses of my blog to find stuff for dinner this week. I saw this and realized we haven't had it in months, and it's something we really like. I also realized the few posts I've done with pictures, I like. So I think I'm going to keep our old camera handy in the kitchen and starting adding more pictures of what I'm making. Excitement is oozing out of you, isn't it?!

Greek Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Feta
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 cups diced tomato
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 cups hot cooked thin spaghetti (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta)
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese, divided
Freshly ground pepper
Lemon slices (optional)
Green onions (optional)

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oregano and garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, green onions, 2 tablespoons parsley, and lemon juice; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Combine tomato mixture, spaghetti, and 3/4 cup cheese; toss gently. Top with remaining cheese and parsley, and serve with pepper. Garnish with lemon slices and green onions, if desired.


I didn't think to get bread to go with this, but I think I have some in the freezer we can have. Tonight is bath night for the boy, so it's a perfect night for spaghetti!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Tortilla Pie

Sundays are always kind of a downer. You try to enjoy it because it's the last day of the weekend, but in the back of your mind you know it's just a matter of time until Monday arrives. Even staying at home I feel that way! Probably because Monday is laundry day, and I HATE doing laundry! Before I became a SAHM, the husband and I each did our own laundry. I made sure I had enough clothes to last me a month so I didn't have to do laundry often. Of course then when I did do it, it was horrible. Anyway, I digress...

We're having Tortilla Pie for dinner tonight, and I'm really excited. We haven't had it in quite awhile, and it's one of our favorites.

Tortilla Pie
1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1 cup chunky salsa, divided
2 (4 or 6 ounce) cartons guacamole
1 (8 ounce) package shredded Mexican cheese blend

Combine first three ingredients, stirring well. Place one tortilla in a lightly greased 9-inch cake pan; spread with half of bean mixture and top with another tortilla. Spread with 1/2 cup salsa and top with another tortilla. Spread with half of guacamole and top with another tortilla. Sprinkle with half of cheese and top with another tortilla.

Repeat layers with remaining ingredients except cheese. Pan will be full. Cover and bake at 350 for 20 minutes; uncover and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, 3-5 more minutes. Cut into wedges to serve. Garnish with sour cream, salsa, and guacamole if desired.


I use a springform pan instead of a cake pan; I've found that makes it a lot easier to slice and serve. I also use taco seasoning instead of the chili powder and cumin. I realized once I got started that I only had six tortillas since we used a couple for tacos the other night. So I just put the salsa on top of the beans. We'll see how it turns out.

I also messed up a little on my guacamole. Normally I dice up two avocados, mash them up, and add in some salsa and mix together. I'm ashamed to admit I accidentally added marinara sauce instead of salsa! Luckily I caught my mistake before I spread marinara sauce on the beans, and I did mix in some salsa to the guac, so hopefully I covered it up decently. We'll see how it turns out.

Ever try typing with a two year old standing next to you playing with the mouse? It's not fun...nor is it easy!


The PB&J Bars were AWESOME. I took what was left to church this morning. Oh man, they were so tasty. I was glad to get them out of the house because they were NOT Weight Watchers friendly, what with two sticks of butter and an entire container of peanut butter! It was fun to lick the knife after I was done with the peanut butter. I never eat peanut butter, so it was a big treat.

Once again...score another win for the Barefoot Contessa!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

Did you miss me last night? I had a girl's night out with some friends. We went to Dream Dinners with our MOPS group. I think if I was a working mom, I'd probably use their service somewhat often, but it seemed pretty expensive when I'm fully capable of making my own dinners everything. If you haven't heard of these type of places, you go and pick out a few different entrees you want to make, the provide all the ingredients, you mix up the stuff, and put it in freezable containers. Then you take it all home and just pull a dinner out of the freezer when you need it. My friends I went with are thinking we can do this on our own on a regular basis. It really didn't take very long, maybe 10 minutes. None of us had eaten before we went, so we headed to Z Tejas for some margaritas and appetizers. It was way more fun than Dream Dinners had been!

We're going to Jen B's for dinner tonight, and I'm taking dessert. She and I both heart Barefoot Contessa, so I pulled out my trusty Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook and saw this. I had everything on hand to make them, so my dessert was chosen! The boy just went down for his nap, so I'm off to bake.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter (recommended: Skippy)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (18 ounces) raspberry jam or other jam
2/3 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch cake pan. Line it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.

Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or offset spatula. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don't worry if all the jam isn't covered; it will spread in the oven. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and cut into squares.


Don't they sound yummy?! Ina has never done me wrong with any of her other recipes, so my hopes are high for this. I better get going on it...I want to be able to enjoy some nap time laying out in the beautiful weather we're having reading my book!