Thursday, August 15, 2013

Baked Hawaiian Ham Sandwiches

So chances are good that if you're on Pinterest, you've seen this recipe and/or pinned it.  We had these last night, and I couldn't believe they weren't on my blog because I've made them several times, and they're completely easy and delicious.

I've always loved the">King's Hawaiian breads
, and it seems that now they're a whole lot easier to find than they were many years ago.  It used to be a big treat to find them, now pretty much every grocery store has them.  And I love them.  That was selling point number one for these sandwiches.  Although it just occurred to me that I've never looked at the ingredient list.  Sigh.  I probably should, but I'm fairly certain that means I won't want to buy them anymore.  Do you ever run into this conundrum if you try and mainly eat real food?  I suppose I could find a recipe to make my own...surely there's one out there.  But I digress...
I also love sandwiches.  I'd say who doesn't love them, but I do know of someone that doesn't.  She doesn't like mixing her food together, which I understand I guess, but man alive is she missing out!  I can see not wanting your mashed potatoes and peas to mingle together on your plate, but a sandwich is something completely different.  These sounded super easy when I first saw the recipe, and I'm always up for an easy to prepare dinner!  Especially if it's a delicious sandwich.

Baked Hawaiian Ham Sandwiches

One 12-count package">King's Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls
3 sticks butter
3 Tbsp dijon mustard
1-1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 onion, somewhere between finely chopped and diced
1 pound thin sliced ham
6 slices Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter and add in mustard, worcestershire, poppy seeds, and onion.  Let simmer 5-7 minutes.

Slice entire package of rolls in half horizontally, so you have 12 bottoms and 12 tops.  Keep them connected--don't break them apart into separate rolls.

Place bottom halves of rolls into a foil-lined 9x13 baking dish.  Brush 1/3 to 1/2 butter mixture on rolls.  Place ham on top, layering evenly across rolls.  Lay cheese slices in single layer on top of ham.  Place top halves of rolls over the cheese and brush remaining butter mixture on the top of the rolls.

Cover with foil.  Bake approximately 15 minutes.  Remove foil cover and bake another 5-7.  Slice into individual rolls and serve.


Obviously you can probably tell from my initial comments that these are a huge hit at my house.  My kids don't like the pieces of onion on theirs that inevitably end up on the top of the roll, so they just push them off and have a little onion pile on their plate, which is okay by me.  I'm not sure how many times I've made them, but last night I actually doubled the recipe so there'd be leftovers because we'll eat a whole batch in one meal.  But then of course today, Boy #1 wanted to buy lunch at school, and the husband had an all day meeting with lunch being served, so there's a whole pan of them just sitting in my fridge now.  Good thing it's leftover clean-up for dinner tonight!

By the way, does anyone know of a ham that is free of nitrates and nitrites?  Try as I might, I cannot find one.  I'm starting to think unless I get a fresh ham and cook it myself, it's not going to happen.  And if that's the case, I'll either stick with the nitrites or do away with ham altogether.

Who am I kidding...I would never do away with ham.

Speaking of ham...check out Boy #2 posing with the sandwiches!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Grilled Chicken and Zucchini Yakitori

Well, so much for my plan of keeping my blog updated over the summer.  Boy #1 started second grade last Monday, and Boy #2 starts his last year of preschool this afternoon.  I don't know how they got to be this old.  One of my friends posted a picture on Facebook of Boy #1 and one of his BFFs on the first day of school.  They've been friends since they were one, and seeing them so big and starting second grade had me in tears.  Anyway, now that school is back in the swing, and I have four afternoons a week to myself, I'm hoping to get back on the blog wagon.  The past few weeks I haven't made a whole lot of new stuff.  It's hard to find the time to come  up with meal plans that include a bunch of new recipes when I have both kids at home.

This recipe has been one of our new favorites over the summer.  The first time I made it I was watching my friend Amanda's daughters, and I wasn't sure how the kids would receive it.  I mean, it's grilled chicken, so I figured it would be okay.  Turns out I had nothing to worry about.  This is from, which is one of my favorite healthy cooking blogs.  I don't think I've ever been disappointed with a recipe I've used from her website.  I love grilling in the summer, especially if we're hanging out in our pool, but I get tired of always grilling the same stuff, so finding a new grilled chicken recipe is pretty fantastic in my book.

Grilled Chicken and Zucchini Yakitori
Source: Adapted from">

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce (for GF use low sodium Tamari)
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, all fat trimmed
2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rings
18 (10 inch) bamboo skewers

Bring vinegar, low sodium soy sauce, honey and crushed garlic to a boil in a medium-sized sauce pan, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces and place in a ziplock bag; pour half of the marinade over the chicken. Place the zucchini in a second large ziplock bag and pour the remaining marinade over the zucchini. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, soak the skewers in water 30 minutes so they don't burn.

Thread the chicken onto skewers, discarding the chicken marinade.

Thread the zucchini onto skewers, reserving the marinade for basting.

Preheat the grill or a grill pan over medium-high heat. When hot, spray with oil then reduced heat to medium; grill the zucchini and chicken skewers about 5 to 6 minutes on each side brushing both sides of the skewers with the yakitori sauce during the last few minutes of cooking time.


I said above that when I made this for my family and my friend's daughters I didn't have to worry about them not liking it.  The kids all had seconds of the chicken.  There were no leftovers from this, which was kind of disappointing because I had hoped to have some for the husband and me for lunch the next day.  The kids didn't eat the zucchini, but the husband and I loved it.  This thick-zucchini-slices-on-bamboo-skewers was actually my go-to way to grill zucchini over the summer when we'd have it as a side dish.  So easy!  If I wasn't making this recipe I'd brush the slices with some olive oil and sprinkle with some Lawry's or Tony Chachere's and throw them on the grill with whatever protein I was cooking.

This is super easy to put together (as long as you plan ahead for marinating time), and so good.  The original recipe called for sake instead of the rice wine vinegar, but since I didn't have sake on hand I substituted the vinegar.  It also called for green onions to be on the skewers between chicken pieces and zucchini pieces, but I haven't ever done that, so I took it out of the ingredient list.

I have already made this so many times this summer, but it's so easy and my family loves it, so it's definitely going to stay one of my go-to chicken thigh recipes!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Grilled Pork Ribs

I just love to grill in the summer.  It does have its downsides being in Phoenix and standing outside in the roasting heat over a hot grill, but it creates significantly less dirty dishes and doesn't heat up my kitchen by using the oven.  Plus we have a pool, so a lot of times whomever is grilling will take pool breaks or just hang out in the pool while dinner cooks.  It's a pretty sweet system.

I've always been a fan of boneless ribs.  Gnawing on ribs with the bones in them has always seemed gross and honestly a little barbaric to me.  although for a lot of years I wouldn't even eat meat with bones in it because it reminded me that it once was walking around.  Can you tell I lived with vegetarians in college?  I don't think I had my first buffalo wing until I was in my mid-20s.  I've gotten over it now, but I still won't eat bone-in ribs.  Recently boneless ribs were on sale for a super good price, so I bought a package of them planning on grilling them.  I wasn't really sure how to grill them, if I just threw them on there or what, so a little Googling directed me to a brine recipe, and I ran with it.  My uncle makes really fantastic grilled ribs, but I knew I'd need ingredients I didn't have, and I try to limit grocery store trips in the summer since I have to drag both kids with me.  This was also my first attempt at a brine, so I was pretty excited to try it out.

Grilled Boneless Pork Ribs

1 cup water
1/4 salt
1 T. sugar
3 pounds boneless country style pork ribs

In a gallon Ziploc bag, combine water, salt, and sugar.  Add in ribs, squeeze out excess air, and let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

Preheat your grill for indirect heat grilling (is that the right phrase?).  My grill has four burners, I turned on all four to heat it up, then reduced the middle two super low.  Lay ribs in the middle of the grill and cook for 10 minutes.  Flip them over and grill another 10.  Their internal temperature should be 145 degrees.  Remove from grill and serve with your favorite barbecue sauce (or make your own if you're an overachiever like me).


I really had no idea how this was going to turn out.  I'll be honest--I had visions of dried out, tough, inedible ribs, and I was working on a back up dinner plan in the back of my head the whole time.  My original plan had been to only cook about half the package of ribs, but Boy #2 was helping me make dinner, and he said we should do all of them so there'd be leftovers.  Thankfully he's a lot more optimistic than his mama because I didn't know if we should plan on leftovers in case they were awful.

These turned out AMAZING.  I don't know why I doubted myself.  Normally my go-to method of cooking boneless ribs is throwing them in the crockpot with a sweet and sour barbecue sauce that's my great aunt's recipe, but this may very well be my new go to.  It was a huge hit with my family.  There were leftovers but not many.  They were good on their own, they were good with the barbecue sauce (although my kids preferred them without the sauce, the husband and I were torn on which was better).  This was an all around winner!!

 My grill could maybe use a cleaning.

 I tried to make this one a little scenic.  See my failing garden in the background?  Those green things are my sad basil plants that are the only remnant of what I had hoped to be a successful summer garden.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rosemary Crackers

I have a love/hate relationship with crackers.  I love to eat them, but I hate the ingredients in most of them.  Ak-Mak crackers are the exception, but I don't buy them very often because no one else in my family likes them.  Actually I don't buy crackers very often anyway because this family is a bunch of cracker monsters.  Crackers just do not last at my house.  I don't know what it is.  I recently found a recipe to make my own crackers and figured it was worth a shot...especially since it was easy and I had all the ingredients on hand.  Plus making my own crackers sounds kind of kitchen bad ass, which I really like.  Okay, maybe not bad ass but definitely impressive, right?

Rosemary Crackers
Source: Budget Bytes blog

 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt (plus more for sprinkling)
1 Tbsp rosemary
to taste freshly cracked pepper
4 Tbsp cold butter
½ to ¾ cup cold water

Chop the rosemary well so that there are no large, sharp pieces. Add the rosemary, flour, baking powder, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to a food processor and pulse until the mixture is evenly mixed (or just stir them together in a bowl).

Cut the butter into pieces and add it to the food processor. Pulse the mixture until the butter is completely incorporated and no chunks remain. Or, cut the butter into the flour mixture with pastry cutter, two knives, or just with your hands until the butter is completely worked into the flour mixture.

Slowly add cold water to the food processor while pulsing, just until it forms a dough (or stir it in by hand until a dough forms). Depending on the humidity and moisture level in your flour, it will take between ½ and ¾ cup water. (I used closer to 3/4 cup).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out until it is approximately 1/16th inch thick. Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut the dough into small rectangles, squares, or triangles. Prick each “cracker” with a fork. Carefully transfer the cut crackers to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Sprinkle the crackers lightly with salt, if desired. Bake the crackers for 20-25 minutes, or until they are golden brown. The total amount of baking time needed will depend greatly on the thickness and size of the crackers, so watch them closely. Allow the crackers to cool and then store in an air-tight container at room temperature.


See what I mean?!  Super easy!  You can be a kitchen bad ass, too, and impress your friends and colleagues or whomever by making your own crackers.  Plus I love stuff that's all done in the food processor.  These were super, super tasty.  But she's right about watching them while they bake--the thinner ones came out a little too dark for my liking.  Personally I loved dipping these into homemade hummus, and they were good with some slices of cheese on top.  I've made these several times and the cracker monsters have always gobbled them up.

(Why, yes, the picture up top is from Instagram...I had to brag on my kitchen bad ass-ness when I made them the first time!)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ham and Artichoke Sandwich

So I was just looking up my dinner recipe for tonight on my blog (Crockpot Beer Chicken Fajitas, if you're curious) and saw I've only done nine blog posts for the whole year.  Nine!  And it's June!  Yowza.  I need to get back to blogging.  I promptly opened my "cooking blog" photos folder and scoured for something to post.  I'll be honest, when I saw these pictures I couldn't remember exactly what it was, until I saw the artichoke hearts and then remembered.

Every January (well, this year and last year anyway) we go up north to Flagstaff, AZ with my mama the last weekend of winter break.  I love Flagstaff.  It reminds me a lot of where I went to college, and in the summer it's a great escape from the Phoenix heat, and in the winter it's a great place to go get a bit of winter. When the husband and I were there one time years and years ago we stumbled upon a brewery that we fell in love with, now we always make it a point to go there when we're visiting.  Beaver Street Brewery.  Awesome beer (they have a scotch ale which also reminds me of my favorite brewery where I went to college), great food, good place to take kids.  We actually went twice this past trip...once on a date night dinner while my mom kept the boys and then with my mom for lunch one day.  The husband and I always get pizza when we go for dinner (actually he might have gotten pizza again for lunch this trip), but for lunch I wanted to try something new.  This sandwich sounded fantastic (and it was), so I tried to recreate it once we were home.

Ham and Artichoke Sandwich
Source: adapted from Beaver Street Brewery's Wood Fired Ham and Artichoke Sandwich

1 French roll
Few slices of ham
2 slices provolone cheese
Marinated artichoke hearts

Split roll in half lengthwise and toast.  Place ham slices on bottom half of roll.  Top with marinated artichoke hearts and place cheese on top of artichoke hearts.  Place sandwiches (but not the top half of roll) on a cookie sheet and heat under the broiler until cheese melts.  Top sandwich with top half of roll and serve.


Obviously the ingredients above are for one sandwich, so adapt as necessary to fit your needs.  This was a tasty sandwich but not nearly as good as the one at Beaver Street.  I used real ham for mine, not just deli ham, because it's what I had but either would work.  Next time I would brush some of the marinade from the artichoke hearts onto the rolls to give it a little extra boost of flavor.  For those of you that have an aversion to ham, I bet it would be tasty with chicken as well.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Chocolate Snack Cake

Quite awhile ago now, my dear friend Betty sent me a recipe for a chocolate snack cake that sounded super easy to make.  It's no secret that I'm not a fan of baking, which is both bad and good.  Bad because I really love baked good and good because I really love baked goods.  Not wanting to ever take the time to make them or dirty all the dishes involved (seriously, is it just me or does baking dirty way more dishes than cooking?!) makes it pretty easy to stay away from cookies or cakes or pies that I'm just going to sit and gorge on if I make them.  But, I have two little kids, so some times I have to bake things to appease them.  For one thing they like to help me, and for another, they really love to eat stuff that I bake.  Recently we were having a family fun night, and I decided to make this cake.  I wanted a fun dessert for my family, and this sounded super easy.  And the best part?!  You mix it up in the baking dish, so there aren't a ton of dishes to deal with once you're done!  Jackpot!

Chocolate Snack Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 cup cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In an 8-inch square baking pan, whisk together all-purpose flour, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, and coarse salt.

Make a well in center of flour mixture and add vegetable oil, pure vanilla extract, white vinegar, and cold water. Whisk until well combined. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.


Let me tell family devoured this cake.  The consistency was similar to a cake-like brownie.  It was a little denser than a chocolate cake you'd make from a box mix but not chewy like a brownie, if that makes sense.  It did not last maybe until the end of the movie we were watching.  I also really liked that it was vegan because my brother and his girlfriend are vegan, so it's nice to have options I can make for them when they come visit.  Normally they come for each of my kid's birthdays, and I want them to be able to have cake to celebrate with us.  Anyway, this is super easy, hardly dirties any dishes, and it's stuff I always have on hand.  I kind of wish I'd had this recipe when I was pregnant either time because I bought a lot of chocolate cake mixes and randomly baked cakes both times.

Actually writing this out and seeing the pictures kind of makes me want to whip one up to share with my boys tonight!

Note to self: put away dishes before taking pictures for blog.  A cheese grater in the chocolate cake picture?!  Come on, Claire!  Class things up a bit around here!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Calico Relish

I think I've shared my childhood aversion to zucchini before.  I really didn't like it, and somehow my mom always had an abundance of it in the summers when I was little.  I don't remember her growing it, so I have no idea how it would end up in our kitchen, but she would use it in everything.  My mom was never big on baking, so my brother and I learned to get very skeptical if all of a sudden there were cookies since it usually meant there was zucchini in them.

There was a delicious relish we'd have a lot in the summer with grilled hot dogs or sausages or brats.  It was my dad's aunt's recipe, and I loved it.  Then I found out the main ingredient was zucchini.  I stopped eating it.  I didn't want anything to do with it because of the zucchini.  I kind of forgot about said relish until recently.  I've since learned to appreciate zucchini and actually eat it pretty often.  I don't begrudge my kids a whole lot for not eating it since I didn't when I was little.  Plus there are enough vegetables they eat willingly that I don't see the point in fighting with them about one that they don't like.

Anyway, remember how I recently mentioned Market on the Move?  One of last month's offerings was a ton of zucchini.  Not an actual ton, but it may have come close.  I was trying to figure out what to do with it since there's only so much sauteed zucchini or zucchini bread one can eat.  Well, maybe not on zucchini bread, especially chocolate zucchini bread.  But I digress.  I remembered I had gotten this recipe from my mom (once I learned to embrace the zucchini) maybe last summer when for some reason I had a bunch of zucchini to use up.  I was so excited to make up some of this, especially with it getting to be the time of year that I do a lot of grilling, so I know we'll be having it alongside a lot of meals coming up.

Calico Relish
Source: my great aunt Irene

4-6 unpared zucchini, coarsely ground (3.5 cups)
6 medium carrots, ground (1.5 cups)
2 medium onions, ground (1 cup)
2 Tbsp uniodized salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vinegar
1 1/2 tsp celery seed
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard

Combine ground vegetables, stir in salt.  Let stand 3 hours.  Drain well, squeeze if necessary.  Combine remaining ingredients and bring to boil.  Add vegetables, simmer 20 minutes uncovered.  Seal in jars.  Makes 2-1/2 pints.


I found the easiest way to do this was bust out my food processor.  Oh how I love my food processor.  I put in one of the grating/shredding blades (I'm sure there's an official name for it, but I can't think of it and don't feel like looking it up...I only have 15 minutes until I need to leave to pick up kids from school) and put it on the finer of the two options so my shreds of everything would be smaller.  Actually for the onions I put in the regular blade and just pulsed until the pieces of onion were tiny.

I could barely wait to have some of this.  Shortly after making it the husband and I had grilled sausages for dinner one night after the kids had gone to bed, so I got out one of my jars and served some up with our sausage.  Oh it was so tasty!  Just as good as I remembered.  And the husband liked it, too!  It's super easy to make up, and it will be a great way to use up some of that summer bounty of vegetables!

My shredded veggies, awaiting their salt.

Boy #2 was helping with the process. This kid loves the food processor!  He wanted in on one of the pictures.  Don't mind his shaggy-way-overdue-for-a-haircut face or the yogurt stains on the table behind him.  Hmmm...maybe I shouldn't have pointed those out?

Relish cooking away.

 How freakin' adorable are these jars?!  They're wide mouth half pint jars.  I love them.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Refrigerator Pickles

If you follow me on Facebook you might have seen me say recently that I have some great posts to do but was in the middle of a big recipe card project using my camera. My great uncle recently passed away, so my mom went back to Kansas to get some things from their house that had been left to her and things she wanted to keep. Her aunt died 12 or 13 years ago, my grandma's oldest sister. One of the things my mom brought back was her aunt's recipe collection. In case it's not obvious, I'm a sucker for a recipe collection. Especially old ones written on recipe cards in swirly, cursive handwriting and filed away in recipe card boxes. Conveniently shortly after she returned from that trip my mom left on another trip (she's a traveling fool, that lady!), so I brought the box of recipes home with me to take pictures of ones I wanted to have. It was quite an undertaking. I wanted to wait to upload my memory card until I was done, so that meant blog updates got put on hold.

Now, as if that wasn't enough of a tangent, do you have Market on the Move where you live? I don't know if it's just an AZ thing, but it's pretty awesome. The first saturday of the month (dates vary by location, I believe. Mine just happens to be the first Saturday.) you can get up to 60 pounds of produce for $10. Yup...60 pounds, $10. It's all stuff that's too ripe for grocery stores to take, so they sell it for super cheap. This last MOM (as it's affectionately known as) had butternut squash, zucchini, yellow squash, green and red peppers, poblano peppers, roma tomatoes and cucumbers. There are certain amounts of some things you can take, others are unlimited. This time each person was allowed 19 cucumbers. Did I mention they were organic? Score!! I decided to try my hand at making refrigerator pickles. I had wanted to try them at some other point when I had a bunch of cucumbers, but I never did. I don't remember why. Probably my kids ate them. Or they were forgotten in my garage fridge. But this time I was not going to let that happen! I busted out my cukes, vinegar, sugar, and some canning jars, and got busy!

Refrigerator Pickles
Source: adapted from

1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tbsp salt
2 cups white sugar
6 cups sliced cucumbers
1 cup sliced onions

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil. Boil until the sugar has dissolved, about 10 minutes. Place the cucumbers and onions in a large bowl. Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables. Transfer to sterile containers and store in the refrigerator.


I had slightly more than six cups of cucumbers. I think I used five cukes, but they were pretty big. I really wasn't sure how this was going to turn out, but we had some on turkey burgers a few nights later, and they were really good! They're on the sweeter side, but not as sweet as an actual sweet pickle. They were just so crisp and fresh tasting. I loved them! So much better than store bought pickles, and I know exactly what went in to them! In fact, I liked these so much I made a second batch a few days later. So now I have six jars of pickles in my fridge. From what I read they'll last up to several months in the fridge. These were also super fast to make. While the vinegar/sugar/salt mixture was coming to a boil I did all my slicing. I did let it all cool in the bowl a little before I put them in jars. And you'll probably want to wipe off your jars after you're done--mine were really sticky!

(Complete side note...speaking of jars, I was at Costco last week, and they had a sozen pint canning jars for $6! That's a smokin' deal! I bought three packages--one for me and two for my friend Amy. One of the employees said they were going really fast, so if you want some, I suggest going soon to check on them!)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fontina Macaroni and Cheese

It's no secret that we're cheese lovers at my house. Nor is it a secret or surprise that we also love macaroni and cheese. I grew up eating the stuff in the blue box and honestly when I was little, I didn't like homemade mac and cheese. Now that's switched, and I'd much rather have a big plate of homemade than the stuff from the box. I really try and avoid giving it to my kiddos, too, because of all the junk that's put in it. By the way, did you know there's currently a petition going around attempting to get Kraft to remove harmful food dyes from the blue boxed mac and cheese? Interestingly the same product sold in the UK does not contain these dyes because of consumer outcry there. Why not take a second and add your name to the petition? I believe the goal was to get 250,000 names, and it's currently at 249,910! So close!!

Petition to remove harmful dyes from Kraft mac and cheese

I'll get down off my soapbox now and back to my regularly scheduled post.

Although I have a go-to mac and cheese that I make pretty often and we all love, I'm easily convinced to try a new version. The husband helped me meal plan recently, and I pulled up a few things on Pinterest that I'd been wanting to try. This is one he chose because, like I said, we're a family of suckers for mac and cheese. Plus I love fontina cheese, so I jumped on board with the idea. We made sure to have it before a big cardio workout day to really justify having it as our main course instead of a side.

Fontina Macaroni and Cheese
Source: Annie's Eats via Pinterest

1 lb. small or medium pasta shells
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. Fontina cheese, shredded
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to the package directions just until 1-2 minutes shy of al dente.

Meanwhile, dice 4 tablespoons of the butter and place in a large mixing bowl. Warm the cream in a small saucepan or the microwave. Cover to keep warm.

Once the pasta is cooked, add to the bowl with the butter and toss to coat well. Stir in the warm cream and the Fontina until the cheese starts to melt. Mix in salt to taste, and add the nutmeg.

Pour the mixture into a buttered 2-quart casserole dish. In a small bowl, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Mix in the panko breadcrumbs and shredded Parmesan. Toss with a fork to coat evenly with the butter. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the pasta in the baking dish.

Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the topping turns golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.


Talk about decadent!! Butter, cream, cheese. Yowza! This was definitely a hit with my family. This was definitely tasty, but I don't think it will necessary replace my normal mac and cheese just because it was so rich and decadent. It was definitely a nice change of pace and something I'd make again when I had a hankering for fancy mac and cheese!

I'll admit, it's a little blah looking before going in the oven. I left panko off one end because one of my kids didn't want any on theirs. Worked for me.


Friday, March 15, 2013

GG's Lasagna

I cannot believe I've never done a post about my grandma's lasagna recipe. But, alas, that must be the case because when I went to make it recently I couldn't find it here on the ol' blog. For those of you that don't know her, my grandma is awesome. Seriously, I've never met someone that doesn't love her as soon as they meet her. She'll be 95 in May, and she's still going strong. She takes one medication and only because her doctor thinks a woman her age should be on some sort of medication. Sheesh. She grew up on a farm in Hale, Missouri during the Great Depression, and I (still) love when she tells me stories about her youth. She is hands down one of my favorite people in the world.

We all love her lasagna recipe, and it is Boy #1's absolute favorite food in the world. He turned seven last month, and while my brother and his girlfriend were here visiting for the weekend for his birthday we had a lasagna dinner at my mom's. My grandma made her lasagna, and my brother made a vegan one. That was on a Saturday night, I think it was. The boy's birthday was Wednesday, and I asked him what he wanted me to make for his birthday dinner one night that week, and he said, "GG's lasagna." I said, "Really? But we just had that." He said, "I know, it's my favorite." Okay...I can't argue with that! So we had GG's lasagna again later that week. A few years ago I took my scanner to my grandparents' house and sat down with my grandma's recipe box to scan some of my favorite recipes of hers. I love that I have the recipe in her handwriting, too.

GG's Lasagna
Source: my awesome grandma

1-1/2 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 T. dried parsley
1 t. oregano
3/4 t. salt
1/4 t. thyme
1 bay leaf

Simmer. Remove bay leaf before using sauce.

Other ingredients:
1 cup sour cream
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces lasagna noodles, cooked
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Mix together sour cream and cream cheese.

Assemble in a flat baking dish and layer:
1/3 cup sauce, noodles, cream cheese and sour cream, mozzarella. Keep layering until mozzarella cheese is on top.

Bake 45 minutes at 350.


This lasagna does not last when I make it. There's maybe one or two servings leftover, and normally Boy #1 has it for breakfast the next day or wants to take it in his lunch. I really think he'd eat this every day if I'd make it that often.

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Special Valentines Drink

I'll come right out and say it. I'm not a huge fan of Valentines Day. I kind of attribute it to many years of being boyfriend-less and seeing other girls with flowers, balloons, etc. and I had nothing. It's okay, I know it's a petty reason, but tell me you're not still holding on to issues like that of some sort from high school. ;) Thankfully the husband isn't really a big fan of it either, so we've never made a big deal out of it. Actually when we first met it was a few weeks before V-Day, and he randomly said one night, "So, what are you doing next Wednesday?" My response--not realizing what day that was--was something along the lines of, "Probably working late, maybe having some wine when I get home." You know, because my roommate at the time and her boyfriend would be there being all lovey-dovey. So we've never made a big deal out of it. But now that I have little boys, I really want to teach them that they should make a big deal out of it, so I'm trying to mend my ways. This year I planned a bunch of secret stuff to do for them while they were both at school. I dropped off Boy #2 at preschool and headed to the dollar store for some decorations. Note to self: next year get them ahead of time because there's not a whole lot left at the dollar store on Valentines Day. But I made do. I wanted to give my boys a fancy, fun snack when they got home from school and I had seen this on Pinterest. They rarely get soda--especially one whose main ingredients are HFCS, corn syrup, sugar, and red dye #40--so I knew they'd freakin' flip for this. It probably helped I also bought them each a bag of Cheetos.

A Special Valentines Drink
Source: Adapted from Sweet Cheeks Tasty Treats

Strawberry sherbet
Red Fanta (I think it's strawberry flavor?)
Whipped cream
Valentine sprinkles

In a tall glass (or short glass if you want a little drink), place one or two scoops strawberry sherbet. Slowly pour soda over the sherbet. Top with a swirl of whipped cream and Valentine sprinkles.


Easy peasy! The original recipe called for raspberry sherbet and raspberry ginger ale, but I couldn't find those at my store, so I went the strawberry route. Actually I think it was a strawberry sorbet that I got, if you want to be all fancy. Want to know one of my pet peeves? When people say sherBERT instead of sherBET. There's no "r" in the word! It drives me freakin' nuts and no one believes me when I complain about it that they're pronouncing it wrong. So I've learned to keep my mouth shut about it.

Anyway, my boys loved this. I made one for myself, too, and it was quite tasty. This could easily be adapted to any holiday, just change the color of your ingredients. If I can figure a non-Mountain Dew green soda I may make it again for St. Patrick's Day using lime sherbet. I guess I could do Sprite and that would work.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Spicy Sweet and Sour Pork

My Wine Pie post was the swift kick in the pants I needed to get back to my blog. I really have quite a few things to share that I've made recently, so hopefully now I can get back on track and make my ol' blog here a priority again. I mean, right now I should be cleaning up my kitchen and putting a load of towels into the washer, but I'm sacrificing those things to write this. Ha! Like that was a tough decision.

I've been trying to have the husband help me meal plan some each week, and this was one of his choices a couple weeks ago. I pulled up some recipes I'd saved on Pinterest and had him flip through them and see what looked good. This is one he chose. I'm always down for a stir fry, and my kids love sweet and sour anything, so I figured this would be a good choice.

Spicy Sweet and Sour Pork
Source: adapted from Cooking Light

1 pound boneless pork chops, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, divided
1 (8-ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice, undrained
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoons Sriracha (hot chile sauce, such as Huy Fong)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup chopped green bell pepper

Combine pork, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon soy sauce; toss well to coat. Drain pineapple in a sieve over a bowl, reserving juice. Combine juice, remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch, remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, vinegar, and next 3 ingredients (through Sriracha), stirring with a whisk.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add pork to pan; sauté 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1 cup onion, ginger, and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in pineapple and bell pepper; sauté 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in vinegar mixture; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Serve.


The original recipe called for pork tenderloin, but I had pork chops on hand. Although, instead of grabbing two packages of pork chops from my freezer, I accidentally grabbed a package of pork chops and a package of chicken breasts. Oops. So ours was a pork/chicken combo. It worked out okay, and my kids thought it was kind of fun to try and figure out which pieces were pork and which were chicken. Anyway, it also called for more Sriracha, but I cut back on it since my kids don't like spicy food.

This was a total winner of a dinner! Everyone in my family loved it. Boy #1 even wanted to take leftovers to school for lunch the next day!! What?! I believe he rated this a "triple A+, 100" which is pretty freakin' good. I'll definitely make it again since my whole family enjoyed it!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wine Pie

Oh, dear blog, how I've missed you. I have no good excuse for why I've been away (except maybe Candy Crush Saga). As I was scrolling back through pictures in my "Cooking Blog" photo folder, I saw these and giggled and thought it would be perfect, albeit probably not very helpful or interesting or even entertaining to anyone except Jen.

In 2011 Jen and her family came and celebrated Thanksgiving with my family at my mom's house. It was a blast. This past Thanksgiving it turned out her family was going to be alone again, so they joined us for 2012 Thanksgiving as well. We were both taking a side dish and pie. Neither of us are bakers, and the husband had plans to go out with a friend the night before Thanksgiving, so Jen came over here and we threw back a few bottles of wine and made our pies together. I don't remember what hers was...something with pudding maybe? At some point (maybe because I had an extra crust?) we had the idea to make a pie with random ingredients and see how it turned out. Wine Pie was born.

We started with taking any potential pie ingredients out of my pantry, fridge, and freezer. I'm not sure if the Goldfish were out as a consideration or had been left out after my kids had a snack. And maybe Jen's pie was pumpkin of some sort, hence the opened can of pumpkin.

We systematically went through the ingredients to figured out what was realistic to use and what wasn't. By process of elimination, this is what we ended up with. Cool Whip, Nutella, Bananas, Puffins cereal, Teddy Grahams, chocolate chips, pudding mix, Cookie Butter (although I don't see it in this picture), almonds, a Toblerone bar. I think that was it. Oh, I think we dug through my kids' Halloween candy buckets, too.

Now, how to proceed. A layer of cookie butter spread on the crust. By the way, if you haven't tried Cookie Butter, I'm really torn on whether or not to advise you to try it. Crack in a Jar is what it could easily be called. My brother bought it when he was here for Boy #2's birthday, and we all ate it by the spoonful. And it's vegan! Or at least I assume it is because my brother is vegan. It's the consistency of peanut butter but tastes like cookies.

Cookie Butter was topped with another crack-like ingredient, Nutella.

Lovely Jen layering on some bananas. The bananas were a delicious addition to Wine Pie, but the husband and I had to run to the store the next morning to get some for fuel before a seven mile run. Oops. We were a couple bottles deep at this point.

Next: vanilla pudding.

Topped with Cool Whip...because what's a pie without Cool Whip on top?

And to really show off how drunk we were, the toppings. Mini chocolate chips, sliced almonds, crumbled Puffins cereal and Teddy Grahams, and to make it really festive: candy corns.

So, the verdict? This pie was AWESOME. Seriously, it was so good!! So don't let the lack of an official recipe for something hinder your kitchen creativeness. Great things can come from randomly combining ingredients you have on hand!

And the last picture...the pie after having been cut into on Thanksgiving: