Saturday, May 31, 2008

Peanut Butter Cream Pie

I was so impressed with myself for getting those three recipes posted in one day and then never got around to posting the fourth. Sigh. So here it is. It's from a random baking cookbook I got at Costco something like nine years ago. It has awesome recipes in it. I haven't made anything from it that's been bad. Just wait until I make my special brownies sometime. Not that kind of special!! I think I first made this pie for Easter dinner with my friend Gina and her husband Mike. It was awesome. I kind of forget about it, so when I make it it's a huge treat.

Peanut Butter Cream Pie
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 baked 9-inch pie crust
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
1 package (4-serving size) instant French Vanilla pudding mix
5 peanut butter candy cups, divided
2 cups thawed Cool Whip

Combine peanut butter and powdered sugar with fork in medium bowl. Place evenly in bottom of pie crust. Place milk and sour cream in large bowl. Add pudding mix. Beat with wire whisk or electric beater 1 to 2 minutes or until thickened. Pour half of filling over peanut butter mixture. Coarsely chop 4 candy cups; sprinkle over filling. Top with remaining filling. Spread Cool Whip over filling. Cut remaining peanut butter cup into 8 pieces; place on top of pie. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Beatty's Chocolate Cake

Phew...almost caught up. One more after this. Can you believe FOUR recipes in one day?! I know, amazing. Today is my friend Jen A's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JEN!! We're having a lunch party for her today, and I am in charge of bringing the cake. I actually made this same cake for her birthday last year. It was super yummy, and I've been dying to have an occasion to make it again. The recipe is from the "Barefoot Contessa at Home" cookbook, and you know how much I heart Barefoot Contessa.

Beatty's Chocolate Cake
Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting:
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.


I need to mix up the frosting this morning before we go, but I did the cakes yesterday. I also had a fantastic invention idea...parchment paper that was already cut to the size you need, like an 8-inch round for a cake pan. I hate tracing the cake pan and then cutting it out. The cake batter I sampled yesterday was yummy, so I assume the cake will be, too.

Off to make frosting! The fourth recipe of the day will come later today when I have to make a pie to take to dinner tonight at some friend's. I don't know what I'm going to do with all these desserts!

Tres Leches Cake

We had a Mexican themed Bunco last night as a belated Cinco de Mayo celebration. When I saw what people were bringing it was mostly appetizers and main dishes, so I opted for a dessert. My mom had given me this recipe awhile ago, but I'd never made it. Seemed easy enough, and I heart Tres Leches Cake, so I figured I'd give it a go. My parents used to live in El Paso, TX, and Tres Leches Cake is big over there. Actually I had a really good one near Monterrey, CA last summer, too. But now I can just make my own!

Tres Leches (Three Milk) Cake
1 yellow cake mix (with pudding) baked as directed in 13 by 9-inch pan
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup rum (or to taste)
Whipped cream, to cover cake
5 ounces sweetened coconut

Poke holes in the cake with a fork all over. Pour topping mixture (evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, whipping cream, rum) over cake. Let mixture absorb completely in refrigerator.

Cover with whipped cream or cool whip and sprinkle sweetened coconut over top of cake. OPTIONAL: Add macadamia nuts, cherries and/or pineapple.


The cake was a big hit!! I only put coconut on half of it because a lot of people--for whatever crazy reason--don't like coconut. But, wouldn't you know, only the half with coconut was eaten. So I have half a Tres Leches Cake sitting in my fridge. Just what a pregnant lady needs...half a cake to indulge in later in the day. Or for breakfast. ;) When I mixed up the topping, it looked like a lot of liquid, but it did all soak in. Make sure you poke a lot of holes in the cake so the liquid can soak in well.

All this talk about it, I think I'll sneak a piece in the kitchen while the boy's watching Sesame Street.

Chili Cornbread Casserole

I was too busy in the kitchen baking yesterday to get around to updating my blog. But, that means you get a plethora of recipes today!! I think the last time I did this much baking was at Christmas two years ago, maybe three.

I had Bunco last night but made dinner anyway because I was STARVING all day yesterday. Baby must be having a growth spurt or something because I could not get enough to eat. I did a bit of menu rearranging and moved this to last night. It's kind of a white trash dinner, but it's cheap, quick, and easy. Hard to beat that!!

Chili Cornbread Casserole
2 cans chili w/beans
Cheese (shredded or sliced)
1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
1 egg
1/3 c. milk

Spread chili in a greased 8x11 dish. Top with cheese. Stir milk and egg into cornbread mix and spread on top. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until cornbread is done.


Doesn't get much easier than that! A lot of times my grocery store has Hormel chili on sale for $1 a can but there's coupons on the paper for $0.50 off, so it ends up being $0.50 a can. This is a super budget dinner! I like to use turkey chili because it's a little healthier.

We really like this dinner. I wasn't sure if the boy would eat it or not, but he gobbled it up. I was pretty surprised.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Catfish Po'Boys

I was going through the tags of my blog trying to find this recipe because I could have sworn I'd posted it on here, but it wasn't under "fish" nor was it under "sandwiches" so I must not have made it since my blog's been going. I could have SWORN I had because I remember buying three packages of catfish at the store, one plain and two Cajun seasoned. No, I know I've made this because the recipe calls for broccoli slaw, and I actually used it last time I made it whereas I normally use regular cole slaw mix.

Found it. It's like the one entry that didn't have any tags! At least I know I'm not going crazy! Much easier if I can copy the recipe from a previous blog entry instead of having to find it online. This was originally from Cooking Light.

Catfish Po'Boys
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
1 pound catfish fillets, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (such as McCormick)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fat-free sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Dash of crushed red pepper
2 cups bagged broccoli coleslaw
4 (2 1/2-ounce) hoagie rolls with sesame seeds, toasted

Combine milk and catfish in a large bowl, tossing gently to coat. Remove fish from bowl; shake off excess milk. Sprinkle fish with salt. Combine cornmeal and Cajun seasoning in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add fish to bag. Seal and shake to coat.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish; cook 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

While fish cooks, combine vinegar and next 4 ingredients (vinegar through pepper) in a medium bowl. Add broccoli coleslaw; toss well to coat. Spoon 1/2 cup slaw mixture onto bottom half of each roll. Arrange fish evenly over each serving, and top with top halves of rolls.


The husband got really excited when I told him this is what we were having. I knew he'd like it, and today was his first day at a new job, so I wanted something he'd enjoy. What can I say, I'm a good wife. :)

Like I said above, I use regular cole slaw mix, not broccoli slaw. I tried it once with the broccoli and didn't like it. I've also used a baguette for the roll instead of sandwich rolls, but I kind of forgot that when I was at the grocery store this morning.

Now to make sure I tag this one...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Grilled Pizzas

Back to the daily grind of cooking dinner! I have had a fantastic Memorial Day weekend. Hope you have too! Saturday it was just the boy and me as the husband spent the afternoon playing golf. The husband and my uncle installed a ceiling fan in our play room before golfing, so the boy and I hung out in there since it wasn't so blazing hot in there anymore. Yesterday we went to church, returned a ceiling fan at Lowe's and then hung out at home for the afternoon. My mom came over after the boy's nap and took him home with her so the husband and I could have a date night. Woo hoo for date night!!! We went and saw the new Indiana Jones movie (pretty decent, kind of cheesy ending, but worth seeing on the big screen) and went out for dinner. What a treat! This morning we were super productive...he did yard work and I worked on cleaning out our disaster area of a garage. I only got one wall of it done (hey, I said disaster area!) before our garbage can and recycle bin were full, but it's a vast improvement. Hopefully I can get the other two walls done before it gets ridiculously hot here. It's been so nice this weekend, I wish the weather would last!! I was supposed to get a pedicure today, but all the nail places around here were closed! So I got some Coldstone instead. ;) once the boy got home from my mom's, I got busy listing stuff on Freecycle and Craigslist that I had found in the garage. Hopefully it will earn me some extra moolah!

ANYWAY. Since it is Memorial Day, I figured we couldn't go all weekend without grilling, so we'd grill tonight. Actually I'll grill tonight because it's game #2 in the Stanley Cup finals, so the husband will be glued to the TV watching that and cheering on the Red Wings. I've been trying to use up things we have in our freezers and pantry, and we had an almost full pacakge of frozen bread dough, so I figured grilled pizzas were the way to go! And we haven't had them in quite awhile. I'll probably put them back in to rotation now that it's heating up because we like to grill in the summer so the kitchen doesn't get as hot.

Here's a nice tutorial on grilling pizzas if you haven't done it before:

Cooking Light's How To Grill Pizzas

My directions for it are below. I use the frozen bread dough you get at the grocery store, like Rhodes. Only I get the store brand because it's cheaper. You can also make them with the refrigerated dough from stores like Trader Joe's or Fresh & Easy. I don't think I've tried them with the Pillsbury refrigerated pizza dough, but I imagine it would work. Or you can make your own dough. I've done that before when we didn't have the frozen bread dough. I just like the frozen becaue it's cheap and easy. I'm all about cheap and easy. I make two pizzas from each loaf of frozen bread dough, then we can pick our own toppings.

Grilled Pizzas
Preheat grill to medium heat. Place dough on grill rack, close lid. Dough will take 5-7 minutes. Check it occasionally for bubbles. Once the bottom is golden brown (or at least not burned...ours don't always get golden brown I guess), flip the crust over. This can be tricky and may require two spatulas, depending on the size of your crust. Turn heat down to low or move pizza(s) to top rack if your grill has one. Put toppings on the side you just cooked. Close lid. Check after five minutes, cook until cheese is melted.


Tonight I'm making four different pizzas. Last time we had grilled pizzas as a family, I found out that one loaf of dough wasn't really enough for the three of us, so I'm using two loaves tonight. We're having:

  • pepperoni
  • cheese
  • mushroom and black olive
  • spinach, roased red peppers, and caramelized onion

    Normally I throw some feta on the red pepper pizza, but this baby growing inside me makes me think feta tastes like puke. So, no feta this time. Oh how I miss it so!! I haven't decided yet if I'll saute the spinach first or just throw the leaves on the pizza. I wanted to do a super veggie pizza, but I cheaped out when I was at the grocery store. Green peppers were $1.25 each!! Lordy mama that's expensive! They were the same price as red peppers. So, mushroom and black olive it will be. Which is fine with me...that's one of my favorites, and I rarely get to have it becaue the husband doesn't like olives.

    Man alive, this was a long post! I'm off to continue my productive day and assemble a bookcase for our play room. It's only been sitting out in the garage since March.
  • Thursday, May 22, 2008

    Chicken Casserole Surprise

    I forgot to post this last night after I made it. Darn, and I had been doing so well this week! I had planned on making something slightly different but when it came time to start dinner, I realized I didn't have some of the ingredients. Oops. So I came up with this all on my own.

    Chicken Casserole Surprise
    2-3 cups cooked chicken
    1 can green beans (or half a bag of frozen, defrosted)
    1 can cream of mushroom soup
    1 cup cheddar cheese
    1 box Stove Top, prepared per pacakage directions

    Preheat oven to 375. Mix together chicken, green beans, soup, and cheese. Spread in 11x7 casserole dish. Top with Stove Top. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until heated through.


    Pretty easy. It was really good, too. I didn't really know how long to bake it for, so I started with 20 minutes and checked it every five minutes from there. The boy didn't really eat it, but he's had a fever off and on for the past couple days, so his eating habits have been a bit unusual. The husband and I both really liked it. And it didn't make an insane amount, so we won't be eating it for days and days.

    I won't be posting for a few days...I don't have to make dinner again until Sunday!! Tonight I'm going out with some friends, tomorrow is the husband's last day at his current job so he's going to happy hour with friends, and Saturday he's playing golf and won't be home until after dinner. I guess technically I'll be making something for the boy and me, but it won't be anything fancy. So, enjoy the long weekend, and I'll be back on Sunday!

    Tuesday, May 20, 2008


    The biscuits and gravy were fan-freakin'-tastic!! We were both quite impressed with them. I thought the gravy could have used a little more flavor, but the husband really liked it. We both had seconds which doesn't happen very often. I buy Morningstar Farms veggie sausage patties, so I cooked those in a skillet and then cut them up into small pieces for the gravy. They kind of crumbled as I was cutting, so it worked out.

    This is something I will definitely make again! My timing for everything was a bit off but only because I'd never cooked the sausage in a skillet (normally we cook one or two at a time and do them in the microwave). But now I know how long they'll take and can adjust everything for that.

    Oh, I think it would work just fine with regular (i.e. non-veggie) sausage, too.

    Biscuits and Vegetarian Sausage Gravy

    This definitely hasn't happened in a long time...I'm posting before I even eat lunch! Although I am starving and really want to go make a sandwich. My kid came down with a random fever while we were out running some errands, so I've been tending to him. Poor little guy, although he seems to be on the mend which is good. It's ridiculously hot here in Phoenix alreay, and I wonder if he got a little heat stroke or somethng playing outside last night--even though our yard was shaded and he was playing in a sprinkler. Who knows.

    Anyway. I saw this recipe in one of my Cooking Light cookbooks recently and thought it sounded good. We buy vegetarian sausage from Costco, so all I needed to get were biscuits. I suppose I could have made my own, but I've never had good luck with that. Much easier to pop open a tube of Grands and call it good. I'm excited for this dinner. I love breakfast for dinner, and I love biscuits and gravy!!

    Biscuits and Vegetarian Sausage Gravy
    1 (16.3-ounce) can reduced-fat refrigerated biscuit dough
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    1/2 (14-ounce) package meatless fat-free sausage (such as Lightlife Gimme Lean)
    1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    3 cups 1% low-fat milk
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    Prepare biscuits according to package directions.
    Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Crumble sausage into 1/2-inch pieces; return to pan.

    Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and 1% low-fat milk, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add milk mixture, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to pan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 3 minutes or until thick. Split the biscuits in half. Top each serving with about 1/3 cup gravy. Serve immediately.


    I think we'll have hashbrowns with it and maybe some fruit. I bought watermelon, strawberries, and grapes at the store today, so maybe I'll make up some kind of fruit salad.

    Monday, May 19, 2008

    Cap'n Crunch Chicken and potato salad

    Alright, I'm back on track!! Posting the same day as I made something...are you shocked? Did you fall out of your chair? I almost did. Not really. This was one of the things I was going to make last week but then never did. I was going to make it Friday but realized I had no oil to fry the chicken, so the boy and I ran to the store after his nap, and I got oil. Unfortunately it was almost 6:00 when we got home, and I hadn't gotten out the chicken to defrost yet. Oops. So the husband stopped and got pizza for us on his way home. I heart my husband. :) He was way bummed we weren't having this, so I made sure it was first up this week.

    This recipe was in the cookbook put together by members of a parenting message board I frequent. I first came across the recipe when I was in college, and used to make it every now and then. I think it was one of the first things I made for the husband when we started dating, but I haven't made it in FOREVER. We were really excited for dinner tonight.

    I went to the Phoenix farmer's market on Saturday morning (don't you love farmer's markets?!) and got some red potatoes and some fresh dill. I'm a sucker for fresh dill. I love the smell of it, the taste of it...I just love it. I went to trusty and searched on "potato" and "dill" (but not first all the recipes had dill pickles) and salad. The below recipe sounded good, and I had everything for it. I found one on the FOod Network website but was missing a couple ingredients.

    First...the chicken!

    Planet Hollywood Cap'n Crunch Chicken
    2 cups Cap'n Crunch cereal
    1 1/2 cups Corn flakes
    1 egg
    1 cup milk
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    chicken breast tenders
    vegetable oil -- for frying

    Coarsely grind or crush the Cap'n Crunch and Cornflakes. Set aside. Beat the egg with the milk. Set aside. Stir together the flour, onion and garlic powders and black pepper. Set aside. Dip the chicken pieces into the seasoned flour. Move around to coat well, then shake off excess flour. Dip into the egg wash, coating well, then dip into the Cap'n Crunch/Cornflakes mixture, coating well. Heat oil in a large heavy skillet to 325°F. Drop coated chicken tenders carefully into the hot oil and cook until golden brown and fully cooked.


    I put the cereals in a gallon size Ziploc bags and crush them (actually I had the boy help me...he loved it!) and then put the coated chicken tenders in there and shook them around to coat. Super easy! I also used two sets of for moving the chicken pieces through the coating process and one for frying. This was super yummy!! We all really liked it. Now that I have the recipe somewhere (instead of a loose piece of paper floating around my kitchen), I hope to make it more often.

    Now the potato salad...

    Dill Potato Salad (I renamed it)
    6 red potatoes, cut into chunks
    3/4 cup mayonnaise
    1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon dried dill weed
    1 teaspoon celery salt
    salt and pepper to taste

    1. Place potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover, and bring to a boil. Cook 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and cool.
    2. In a bowl, gently toss potatoes, mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, dill, celery salt, salt, and pepper. Cover, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.


    I mixed up the dressing while the potatoes were cooking. Some of the reviews said the dressing made too much, so I mixed it up in a separate bowl to add in to the potatoes. I tasted it after making it per the directions (except I used fresh dill and a lot more than 1 Tbsp...and I didn't have celery salt), and it tasted way too mayonnaise-y. I chopped up more dill, but it still tasted off. I added garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper but still off. I added another Tbsp or so of Dijon mustard, and it was getting a little better. I had some Pampered Chef dill seasoning, so I added that in and it FINALLY tasted right! The salad was really good...super easy (once I got the dressing right) and fast to put together. Oh, and I only used about half the dressing I made, and it was PLENTY.

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    Tofu Lo Mein

    This was our other vegetarian dish for the week. The husband is getting antsy for me to finish up so we can start our shows, so no fanfare, just the recipe.

    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.

    Easy Stuffed Peppers

    This is a recipe from the new cookbook I mentioned last week. It was my first time making stuffed peppers. I've only ever had the frozen Stouffers kind before, which I didn't think were bad at all. This seemed really easy, and I wanted some vegetarian dinners this week, so it sounded perfect!

    Easy Stuffed Peppers
    2-3/4 cup cooked brown rice
    1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
    1 cup spaghetti sauce
    1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
    4 medium green peppers, seeded, tops removed

    Preheat oven to 400. Mix rice, mushrooms, spaghetti sauce, and 3/4 cup of the cheese. Place peppers in 2-quart baking dish. Fill with rice mixture, cover dish. Bake 30-35 minutes or until peppers are crisp-tender and filling is heated through. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.


    I used two cups of dried rice and got slightly more than the 2-3/4 cup called for. I used all of it and added in some additional sauce to make up for it...I was worried the extra rice would make the filling kind of dry. And I missed the part about covering the dish, but I don't think it made too much difference, although I have nothing else to compare it to.

    Overall, the peppers were good. I think I'd use different sauce next time because the one I used was a bit bland. I might try and add something more to the filling, too. I'm not sure what, I'll have to think on it. They were really filling...I could only eat half of one. The husband ate a whole one, the boy ate all of the filling out of half a pepper.

    Pot Roast

    Once again, I've fallen behind. BUT, you're going to get three posts tonight! Exciting, huh? I really have no excuse except that I've been lazy. Here's an example of just how lazy. I went grocery shopping on Monday morning. I came home, put the cold stuff in our garage fridge, left everything else in the back, and went to pick up the husband. All week I've been going to the fridge or car and getting what I needed. I just tonight brought everything inside. See what I mean?

    So Monday night we had pot roast. Darn it, I had pictures to include and forgot to upload. We all know how bad I am at uploading after the fact, so you may very well never see them, but I'll try to do it tomorrow. Anyway, I can't remember if I shared that on my recent San Diego trip, I treated myself to a beautiful Le Creuset 6-3/4 quart French oven. I heart it very much and have coveted it for years now. YEARS. So this was my first use of it. This was also my first time doing a pot roast not in the crock pot.

    Pot Roast
    1 3-pound roast
    1/3 cup red wine
    2 cans beef broth

    Coat bottom of pot with olive oil (make sure it's a pot that can also go into the oven). Slice onions in half (I used two), and once oil is heated, place flat side down in oil and brown. Flip over and brown the other side. Remove onions, brown carrots. Remove carrots. Season roast with salt and pepper (I also used some Montreal steak seasoning). Sear roast on all sides in pot, adding some more oil if you need it. Remove roast. Pour in wine and deglaze pot (you could also use beef broth for this). Once deglazed, add roast back to pot. Add in onions, beef broth, and carrots, placing onions and carrots around the roast. Move pot to oven preheated to 275. Check after three hours (for a three pound roast). When cooked, remove roast and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Serve with carrots (and onions if you like to eat them).


    The roast turned out pretty well. The meat was a little tough, but I think it was just the cut of meat, not my beautiful new pot. I can't remember now what the cut of meat was. I think next time I'll do it in the crockpot. The carrots were yummy. The roast was good, just a little hard to chew. The boy had a hard time with it so he mostly had carrots. I had wanted to make mashed potatoes to go with it, but my potatoes were bad and I didn't have enough instant. Oh, and usually when I make a pot roast I like to season it with a packet of Lipton Onion Soup, but I didn't have any this time.

    Edit: I uploaded the pictures!! I can follow through on some things! First, a picture of my beautiful Le Creuset pot:

    Isn't it so pretty? Don't you want one, too? Okay, next is the onions browning in the pot...and my new silicone-tipped tongs! I heart Williams-Sonoma!

    Here's the roast being seared:

    Isn't it nice to have pictures?! I should do this more often. :)

    Saturday, May 10, 2008

    Pan-Fried Onion Dip

    I had planned on making risotto for dinner on Thursday night, but there was so much pasta left over, we just had that again. It was just as good the second time. The husband had thirds, the boy had seconds. I added some balsamic vinegar to it--just a splash or two--and it was really yummy.

    Now I have a reprieve from cooking until Monday! There will be some good recipes coming up, too. I just got a new cookbook with a ton of recipes I'm dying to try, so I think the next couple weeks will be meals solely from that.

    Last night I had some friends over to scrapbook, so I didn't have dinner, just snacks. I made Chex Mix and a dip from the Barefoot Contessa cookbook. I heart Ina Garten...I heart her a lot. I'd like to be her, just for a day. I also wouldn't mind being Gayle King for a day, I decided yesterday as I was watching Oprah. Anyway, I had seen this recipe in her cookbook and wanted to try it for a long time. I'm a sucker for Lipton Onion Dip, so I thought a made-from-scratch version would be worth trying.

    Pan-Fried Onion Dip
    2 large yellow onions
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
    1/2 cup sour cream
    1/2 cup good mayonnaise

    Cut the onions in half and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions.) Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.

    Place the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well. Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature.


    I was a bit shy on the sour cream, so I added in a little extra mayo to make up for it, and I could really taste the mayo. I think next time I'd cut back a bit on that and maybe add in a touch more cream cheese and sour cream to compensate for it (or maybe Miracle Whip Light doesn't count as "good mayonnaise"?). I also thought the onion slices were a little too big, so instead of half-rounds I think I'd cut them into quarters. It wasn't really comparable to the Lipton dip, but it was really good, and my friends all liked it. Or at least they said they did. ;) Oh, and I used Vidalia onions because they were the only yellow onions I could find at the store, and they were on sale for cheap. They were maybe a little too sweet for the dip. But, again like I said, it was pretty tasty. There's quite a bit left, too, so I'll be snacking on it all weekend!

    Thursday, May 8, 2008


    The pasta was REALLY yummy!! I can't wait to try it in the summer with fresh, ripe tomatoes instead of the under-ripe Romas we got from the grocery store. It was a really light dinner, too...would be great for the summer. It would make a good pasta salad, too, with a little balsamic vinegar added in and some chunks of mozzarella. We will definitely be having this one again!

    Oh, and the boy LOVED IT! He had seconds even which is pretty rare for him.

    Wednesday, May 7, 2008

    Fresh Tomato Basil Pasta

    A message board I frequent put together a cookbook of recipes compiled from members of the website. My copy came last week I think it was, and I just finished reading through it last night. There are a TON of good recipes in there I cannot wait to make. I think the next couple weeks will be all about this cookbook. There are some recipes I had at one point but lost, so I'm excited to have copies of them again--and in a printed book instead of emails I've printed out and tried to keep track of since college.

    I was originally going to make a pasta recipe I found in a Cooking Light cookbook, but when flipping through this new book I saw this one and thought it sounded yummy. Plus I had fresh basil left over from when we had caprese paninis last week (they were AWESOME, by the way). I hate wasting fresh herbs, so I thought this would be a good way to use up what was left. The other recipe called for kalamata olives. I like kalamata olives, but my husband--bless his heart--did the grocery shopping for me this week, and I figured he'd never be able to find them since he has trouble finding the cereal aisle. I had him get regular black olives, but I'll just use those for something else.

    Fresh Tomato Basil Pasta
    1 pound pasta, bow-tie or penne
    3 cups ripe tomatoes, diced
    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    1/4 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
    salt and pepper
    garlic to taste, freshly chopped
    Parmesan or Romano cheese, freshly grated

    Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente, 10-12 minutes. Combine tomatoes, oil, basil, garlic, and salt & pepper to taste in a large bowl. Drain cooked pasta, then add it to the tomato/basil mixture and toss to blend. Sprinkle with cheese to taste.


    Doesn't that sound yummy?! I can't wait to make it this summer (assuming we like it anyway) with fresh tomatoes from the farmer's market. I'm using penne for my pasta, and I didn't freshly chop the garlic. I just don't do that because it takes forever. So I used a few spoonfuls of already chopped garlic.

    I'm just waiting on my pasta to finish cooking so I can mix it all together and we can eat. It smells awesome...or maybe that's the Pillsbury garlic breadsticks I baked (thanks, Laura!!). Either way, I'm starving and can't wait for dinner!

    Monday, May 5, 2008

    Tortilla Pie

    Okay, I think I'm caught up and current now. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I wanted something Mexican for dinner tonight. I went through my blog to find something other than the chicken taco idea that first popped in my head. I saw this recipe and realized we haven't had it in quite awhile, so this is what it will be. I'm excited for's super yummy.

    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 make my own guacamole, too. It's really easy, so don't be intimidated if you've never tried it. Slice an avocado in half the long way. Plunk a sharp knife down onto the pit and twist to remove the pit. Then dice up the avocado in the shell (if I think of it, I'll take a picture when I'm doing this tonight) and then toss it out into a bowl. Add in a few spoonfuls of salsa and mix. Add a little salt, too. Then taste it and see how it is. Add more salsa if you need it. Start slow with the salsa because if you add to much, you'll need to add more avocado, which is fine if you have more just don't want to run to the store in an angry fit because you need another avocado.

    Smoked Salmon Dip

    My grandma turned 90 last Thursday, and we had her weekend birthday celebration this past Saturday and Sunday. My whole family was in town for it which was so fun. Saturday night we had a party for her at my mom's house, then yesterday we all went to brunch. For the past several years my grandma has had a happy hour party for her birthday...drinks and appetizers. We all bring a few things, and it's usually quite the feast. This year was no exception. My uncle made stuffed mushrooms, my mom made a seven layer dip, artichoke dip, and a crab spread, there was a cheese and cracker tray, a veggie tray, and I made baked brie, two kinds of hummus, and this smoked salmon dip. Jealous you weren't there, aren't you? Oh, and since I can't drink I made a yummy punch with ginger ale, white grape juice, and pineapple juice. When I'm not pregnant, I may make it with some vodka or Malibu.

    Anyway, back to the dip recipe. I saw it in the March issue of Cooking Light and thought it sounded awesome. I had originally planned on doing baked brie and prosciutto wrapped asparagus for the party (yes, we start planning early), but when I saw this I decided to skip the asparagus (although if you've never had prosciutto wrapped asparagus, I highly recommend you try it) and make the smoked salmon dip instead. It was super easy and super yummy. The husband and I just about finished up what was left for dinner last night.

    Smoked Salmon Dip
    (8-ounce) tub light cream cheese
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    4 ounces smoked salmon, chopped, divided
    Dill sprigs (optional)

    1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a food processor. Add half of salmon; process until smooth. Fold in remaining half of salmon. Garnish with dill sprigs, if desired.


    I love fresh dill, and any excuse to use it is a good one with me. And Trader Joe's had organic fresh dill for super cheap, so that's even better. I didn't use tub cream cheese, I used a regular block and it worked fine. The color of the dip is really pretty after the salmon is processed with the cream cheese. I had a hard time getting my chopped salmon folded in evenly, but it didn't seem to matter too much. And normally I'm not much of a garnisher, but I did this time since it was a special occasion. Wish I would have taken a picture of it because I even used a fancy bowl for it. You know those fancy got them as a wedding present and now they sit in the back of a cabinet and maybe get used once a year. I used Kashi's TLC 7-grain crackers with it, and they were really good.

    Veal Marsala

    Okay, I'm back from San Diego and trying to get back into the swing of things. We got home Thursday, but the weekend was spent celebrating my grandma's 90th birthday. Needless to say, things have been pretty darn crazy the past few days. Now this week I'm going to try and get everything back to normal and on a regular schedule. Figured I'd get up before everyone else and get a jump on the day. So far I've sat at the computer...there's a ridiculously large pile of laundry waiting for me downstairs that I'm trying to avoid.

    Anyway, we had this one night for dinner before I left for CA. We waited and ate after the boy was in bed because frankly two year olds don't need to eat veal (although when he was a baby I saw Gerber veal baby food...seemed a bit ridiculous). I know veal is super controversial, but it's just so darn good. My brother has a theory that it's so good because it's so wrong to eat it. I have to agree. I try to just savor the deliciousness when I eat it and not think about where it came from.

    I had found veal cutlets for super cheap and had them in the freezer. I checked for a veal marsala recipe. I'd only ever made veal once or twice before, so it wasn't anything I wanted to wing. There were a few recipes I found but one especially seemed super easy. I modified it a bit, but I'll add that at the end.

    Veal Marsala
    1 1/2 pounds veal scallops, pounded to 1/4 inch thickness
    salt and pepper to taste
    3/4 cup all-purpose flour for coating
    2 tablespoons butter
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 cup dry Marsala wine
    1/2 cup chicken stock, divided
    2 tablespoons butter, softened

    Season veal with salt and pepper to taste; dredge in flour to coat. Shake off excess flour. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. When foam subsides, add veal 3 to 4 pieces at a time and saute for 2 to 3 minutes each side, until browned. Transfer meat to a plate.

    Pour most of the fat off from the skillet; add wine and 1/4 cup of the stock and bring to a boil over high heat for 1 or 2 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides of the skillet.

    Return meat to skillet; cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, basting meat with pan juices occasionally. Transfer meat to a platter.

    Add remaining 1/4 cup stock to skillet and bring to a boil, scraping bottom and sides of skillet. When sauce has reduces to a thick, syrupy consistency, remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in 2 tablespoons softened butter and pour sauce over meat.


    I like mushrooms with my marsala, so I added in a package of sliced mushrooms after the meat was done and before the 1/4 cup stock at the end. I let them saute a bit before adding in the stock. I think I ended up adding in a bit more marsala and stock because the mushrooms took some of the sauce. I honestly don't remember...pregnancy brain is hitting me hard this time.

    It turned out really yummy. I had three veal cutlets to make, and the husband ate two of them. I was going to get all fancy and make roasted garlic mashed potatoes to go with it, but I was lazy and we just had baked potatoes instead.

    I have no idea what else we had for dinner that week, so I guess this is the only catch-up recipe I'll post. I did a ham in the crockpot, but it was pretty uneventful. The ham was good, but the way I did it wasn't anything special.