Nov 30, 2005

Shepherds Pie

I have always wanted to try making shepherd's Pie but tonight was my first attempt. I must say it was delicious! I perused quite a few recipes on-line and came up with my own recipe based on what I found, which my family really enjoyed.

On another note, I am so excited today! My husband bought me a digital camera which is scheduled to arrive from any day now. I'm so excited that I will be able so share photos of all my creations with you. Stay tuned....

Shepherds Pie

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, sliced thin
1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped
3 carrots, peeled, sliced and cooked
1 can cut green beans, drained
1 tsp. Penzey's Seasoned Salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
3/4 c. water
1/2 tsp browning liquid
3/4 tsp. Penzey's Beef Soup Base
1 Tbsp. corn starch
1/2 tsp. Penzey's Taosted Minced Onion
Instant Mashed Potatoes (8 servings, prepared according to package directions)
1/2 c. Shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. Shredded cheddar cheese

Brown ground beef along with onion, celery and parsley; drain. Put ground beef beef mixture into a 9 x 13 in. pan. Stir in carrots and green beans. Set aside.

In a small sauce pan, combine water and corn starch, mix until dissolved without heating. Turn heat on medium-high and add beef soup base and toasted onions, turn heat to high. Whisk constantly until thickened. Pour over ground beef mixture.

Spread mashed potatoes over ground beef mixture. Top with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Nov 29, 2005

Nanaimo Bars

When I was 18 years old a family friend brought over this wonderful treat as a Christmas gift to our family. She graciously included her recipe and I promptly decided I must learn to make them. I have made them for family and friends for the holidays ever since and am always happy to continue to pass on this delicious recipe. A word of caution, these are VERY rich so cut them very small. These bars are a national dish in Canada.

Mrs. Miles Nanaimo Bars

~ Base ~
2 squares Bakers Semi Sweet Chocolate, melted and cooled
2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 c. coconut
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Press into a 9 in. square pan. Chill.

~ Filling ~
1/4 c. butter, softened
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
2 Tbsp. custard or vanilla pudding mix
2 c. confectioners sugar

Combine butter, milk and custard powder. Blend in sugar until smooth. Spoon over base. Chill at least 15 minutes.

4 squares Baker's Semi Sweet Chocolate
1 Tbsp. butter

Partially melt chocolate with butter over hot water in a double boiler or microwave. Remove from heat and stir until completely melted. Spread over custard layer. Chill. Store in fridge up to one month.

Nov 28, 2005

Holiday Fudge

One of my all time favorite treats at holiday time is fudge. I have been making this recipe since I was in high school. I got the recipe from a jar of Kraft Marshmallow Creme and it is heavenly!

(photo and recipe from

Fantasy Fudge

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
1 small can (5 oz.) evaporated milk (about 2/3 cup)
1-1/2 pkg. (12 squares) BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, chopped
1 jar (7 oz.) JET-PUFFED Marshmallow Creme
1 cup chopped PLANTERS Walnuts
1 tsp. vanilla

LINE 9-inch square pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan; set aside. Place sugar, butter and evaporated milk in large heavy saucepan. Bring to full rolling boil on medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil 4 min. or until candy thermometer reaches 234°F, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat.
ADD chocolate and marshmallow creme; stir until completely melted. Add walnuts and vanilla; mix well.
POUR immediately into prepared pan; spread to evenly cover bottom of pan. Cool at room temperature at least 4 hours; cut into 81 (1-inch) squares. Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.

Nov 27, 2005

Holiday Snickerdoodles

Our family is participating in a cookie exchange this year with our homeschool group. After searching through many recipes the girls chose these at the cookies to make. I am planning to buy the ingredients and make the dough to freezer it so that next week all we have to do is bake them. Can't wait to taste them!

Holiday Snickerdoodles
(Cookie Exchange Quantity

Red and green sugars dress up a best-loved cookie for the holidays.

2 tablespoons Betty Crocker® Decors red sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons Betty Crocker® Decors green sugar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 400ºF. In small bowl, mix red sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon; set aside. In another small bowl, mix green sugar and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon; set aside. In large bowl, beat sugar, shortening, butter and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls. Roll in sugar-cinnamon mixtures. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until centers are almost set. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Nov 26, 2005

Chocolate Chip Blondies

Today is my husband's birthday and I am making his favorite dessert, Chocloate Chip Blondies. These blondies are so buttery and rich with chocolate ... chewy edges... softer in the middle... they are perfect for any occasion.

Chocolate Chip Blondies

1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1 stick of butter (do not use margarine!)
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 oz. chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla, just until blended. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to brown sugar mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread into a greased 9x13x2 in. pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 - 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cut into bars when cooled.

Nov 25, 2005

Store Hopping... Is It Worth It?

Since today is the biggest shopping day of the year it's really got me thinking about grocery shopping. Although not the same as fighting for Black Friday deals, it can be such a feeling of triumph when I find an unexpected great deal.

More often than not, when I shop for groceries, I have kids and husband in tow and am in a hurry. This requires that I have planned in advance and am prepared to pass up some of the good deals I have seen in various sale flyers in order to shop at only one store to make the most of the time I have. However, when I DO have time on my hands and can spend a leisurely day out looking for deals, I like to "store hop".

In the town where we live there is a small IGA grocery store that does not have the best selection but they have the best quality and prices on meat that I have yet to find. So that store is always my first stop for meat.

Another favorite of mine is WalMart Supercenter. Overall, if I have to choose one store to shop at, this would be it. I find that we get the most for our money when we shop there. I also enjoy WalMart because they will honor any sale flyers from other stores and I can purchase many other items I need there besides food.

When time is really an issue, I opt to order our groceries from The prices there are not the best but sometimes the savings in time or an illness make it necessary to order groceries in. They do offer very high quality food and they have excellent store brand items as well.

When I am looking for Mexican food related items and good prices on produce I shop at Food City. They have the BEST tortillas I have had outside of a tortilla factory and have many items you just can't find at any other grocery store.

The best place I have found for organic items and gourmet or specialty foods is Trader Joe's. We don't' shop there often because it's about 45 minutes away but when we do I always stock up on our favorite items and make the most of their great sale items.

I find that it I have the time it is well worth it to shop at more than one store when shopping for a week or more worth of groceries. Not only does it allow for more variety but you can make the most of the sale flyers which will of course give you the most for your money.

Nov 24, 2005

Green Rice

I have loved this rice casserole ever since my great aunt made it for us when she came out to visit when I was a little girl. It's a great recipe to take to a pot luck or as a side dish for any holiday meal. It's very filling and can be a luncheon dish all on it's own.

Wishing you all a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

Green Rice

1/4 c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. butter or margarine
3 c. cooked rice
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 c. minced fresh parsley
1 c. milk
4 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. worshteshire sauce
1 tsp. salt

In a large saucepan, saute onion and garlic in butter until tender. Add remaining ingredients, mix well. Transfer to a greased baking dish. Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 40 - 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Nov 23, 2005

Lasanga Maria

This is the BEST lasanga! I got this recipe many years ago from an issue of Southern Living Magazine. If you enjoy lasanga give this one a try. I often make this around the holidays and we never have leftovers.

Lasanga Maria

1 8 oz. package lasanga noodles
1 lb. mild bulk Italian sausage
1 32 oz. jar spaghetti sauce
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 12 oz. carton ricotta cheese
1 tbsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
2 c. (8 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 (3 1/2 oz.) pkg sliced pepperoni

Cook lasanga then drain. Cook sausage and drain. Stir spaghetti sauce into sausage; set aside. Combine egg and next 5 ingredients, stir well. Spread about 1/2 c. meat sauce into a 13 x 9 x 2 in. pan. Layer 1/2 the noodles, 1/2 the ricotta mixture, 1/3 the mozzarella cheese and 1/3 of the remaining meat mixture. Repeat layers using equal amounts. Arrange pepperoni on top. Spoon remaining meat mixture on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake 5 minutes more.

Nov 22, 2005

Holiday Baking

Today I finally got started on my holiday baking. My husband works on Thanksgiving and there will be a potluck there so I made 2 loaves of Banana Spice bread from my Easy Banana Bread recipe, using spice cake mix and vanilla pudding. In two weeks we have our monthly homeschool meeting so I made a German Apple Cake from a recipe I found on Although the cake is now in the freezer and we won't be cutting it until the day of our meeting, I can tell you from the sample I had from the wonderful little bits that flaked off, it is DELICIOUS! I also baked two pans of corn bread -- one for my turkey stuffing and a second to go with the pinto beans I am cooking tomorrow night. I think I'm going to call it a day... we have plenty of leftovers for dinner and I'm tired! Here's the recipe for German Apple Cake...

German Apple Cake - adapted from

2 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground mace
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups apples - peeled, cored and diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 9x13 inch cake pan. In a mixing bowl; beat oil and eggs with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat well. Combine the flour salt, baking soda, and ground cinnamon together in a bowl. Slowly add this mixture to the egg mixture and mix until combined. The batter will be very thick. Fold in the apples by hand using a wooden spoon. Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 minutes or until cake tests done. Let cake cool on a wire rack. Once cake is cool serve with a dusting of confectioners' sugar or with a Cream Cheese Frosting.

Nov 21, 2005

Crock Pot Scalloped Potatoes

I love scalloped potatoes during the cooler weather. I am planning to make this dish next week as a side dish for our leftover turkey.

Crock Pot Scalloped Potatoes

2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp butter
1 can cream soup of your choice
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

Grease crock pot then add (in layers): potatoes, onions, salt and pepper. On top add butter and soup. Cook on low 7-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours. 30 minutes before done cooking, remove lid, sprinkle with cheese then replace cover and allow to finish cooking.

NOTE: to make this dish into a main meal, incorporate layers of thinly sliced bell pepper and thinly sliced smoked sausage or other meat of your choice.

Nov 20, 2005

Green Bean Casserole

A traditional recipe for Thanksgiving dinner, this is one of my favorites. This recipe and lovely photo comes from

Green Bean Casserole

1 can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 dash pepper
4 c. cooked cut green beans
1 1/3 c. French's French Fried Onions

Mix soup, soy sauce, pepper, green beans and 2/3 c. of the onions in a 1 1/2 qt. casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until hot. Stir and sprinkle with remaining onions. Bake 5 more minutes then serve.

Nov 19, 2005

Leftover Makeovers

Making over leftovers is one of my favorite ways to create exciting meals even when the budget is tight. Take today's lunch for example... I took some leftover rice, a piece of chicken I had left from the Smothered Chicken I made a couple of nights ago, a 1/2 bag of frozen chopped broccoli and some leftover teryaki sauce and viola! we had Teryaki Chicken over rice. Delicious, easy and a great way to clean out the fridge. Here are some of my other common uses for leftovers that always has my family asking for seconds.

Spaghetti Sauce - if it's a meat sauce I will use it to make calzones. I just make a pizza crust and divide it into 4 portions, roll out into circles, fill with the sauce and some cheese then fold over, roll the edges to seal and bake. For non-meat sauces I use them to top a pizza.

Beef Roasts - Any meat leftover from a beef roast often becomes the filling for burritos. I shred or chop the meat and freeze it then use it as burrito filling.

Pinto Beans - I always make refried beans from leftover pinto beans. My kids love refried beans as a side dish with almost any meal and I also make them burritos or tostadas.

chicken - There are so many uses for leftover chicken. Some of my favorites are chicken casseroles, chicken salad, chicken soup, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, sandwiches.

Bread - I always freeze leftover bread. No matter if it's a store bought loaf or homemade, there is always a use for leftover bread. I often make bread pudding, stuffing, bread crumbs for recipes (store in the freezer in a ziploc bag). I recently found a recipe for breadcrumb cookies that I plan to try... stay tuned...

Cooked Vegetables - In my opinion, vegetables tend to lose their flavor very quickly once cooked. I like to make a very quick soup to preserve the flavor of any cooked vegetables. By cooking some egg noodles in chicken broth and adding cooked, cubed chicken and cooked vegetables, you have a very satisfying meal.

Pie Crust - I don't bake pies very often but when I do, I always save the scraps from trimming the crusts. I use it to make little treat for my kids called pinwheels. Roll out leftover pie crust dough, spread with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and roll up jelly roll fashion. Cut into slices and bake at 375 degrees until nicely browned. Leftover pie crust can also be used to make mini quiche for appetizers.

Bananas - most people toss their bananas when they get a little brown. I have found that if you freeze bananas when brown they make an excellent base for smoothies, or they can be thawed for banana muffins, banana bread, banana pancakes or any other recipe calling for bananas.

Carrots, Celery and Onions - when these vegetables start to look a little limp, just put them in the food processor and process until smooth, then put the mixture into a sauce pan with a little water and cook until soft. Cool and put into freezer bags. This mixture is great as a base for sauces, gravies, soups, stews or any recipe that needs a flavor boost.

Before tossing your leftovers or letting them sit around too long, take a moment to see what new creations you can come up with.

Nov 18, 2005

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

The best Pulled Pork is made in an outdoor smoker, but this is a close second which is easily made indoors. This is a great recipe to create a picnic like meal during the cold season. I also make this recipe with beef, chicken or turkey.

Crock Pot Pulled Pork

1 3 lb. pork loin roast, trimmed (or you can use a 3 lb. beef roast or 3 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast or a turkey beast with the skin removed)
1 c. water
1 (18 oz.) bottle barbecue sauce
1/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. hot sauce
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
couple dashes liquid smoke

Put meat in crock pot with water. Cook covered on high for 6-7 hours or until meat is tender and easily shreds with a fork. Add remaining ingredients, mix well and if using turkey remove bones. Reduce to low and cover then cook one more hour. Serve on buns with your choice of sides such as baked beans, cole slaw, macaroni salad or tossed green salad.

Nov 17, 2005


Posole is a traditional Mexican soup, often served around the holidays, especially at New Years. I haven't made it in a while but today my 5 year old was asking me if I would buy some nixtamal (fresh hominy) and make some so I've added it to my list of menus for the week after Thanksgiving.

Nixtamal looks like this:

Nixtamal can be found in any supermarket in the Southwestern US in the dairy/deli cooler. In other areas of the country it can most likely be found in a Mexican or ethnic market. If you can't find it, canned hominy will do just fine.

Traditionally posole is served with a squeeze of lemon juice, a sprinkle of chopped, fresh cilantro, a few dahses of hot sauce and bollilos on the side.


2 qt. water
1 lb. stew meat (beef or pork cut into small cubes)
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 white onion, sliced
1 c. nixtamal, rinsed well (or 2 lb. can hominy, drained)
1 c. dried pinto beans, sorted and rinsed
1 Tbsp. New Mexico chili powder
1 Tbsp salt (or more to taste)

Bring water to a boil, rinse meat and add to water with garlic. When meat begins to brown, add salt. Mix in beans, nixtamal and onion. turn heat down to low and cook 3 hours or until beans and nixtamal are tender. Add more water and stir as needed while cooking.

Nov 16, 2005

Crock Pot Apple Butter

Apple Butter is so easy to make and freezes very well. We love on toast, muffins, bagels or even on pancakes. This will keep for a week in the refrigerator so pack it in small containers and store in the freezer. You can also can this for gift giving.

Crock Pot Apple Butter

4 lbs. cooking apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
3 c. sugar
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground allspice

Put apples and vinegar in crock pot. Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours. Stir in sugars and spices. Reduce to low, cover and cook 4 more hours. Cool and store as desired.

Nov 15, 2005

Red Beans and Rice

Beans take so long to cook on the stove top so I always to prepare any type of bean recipe in the crock pot. This is a great dish because it contains beans, meat and vegetables so all you need is rice to round out the meal. Simple and delicious!

Red Beans and Rice

1 lb. kidney beans, sorted, rinsed and soaked (you can use a 2 lb. can of kidney beans instead, drained)
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, diced
1 lb. smoked sausage, cut into slices (I use turkey smoked sausage)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
3 tbsp. Creole seasoning
Couple dashes hot sauce

Boil beans in a large pot with 7 c. of water for 10 minutes, transfer to crock pot. Add remaining ingredients and cover. Cook on high for 6 - 7 hours. Server over rice, garnished with chopped scallions.

Nov 14, 2005

Crock Pot Smothered Chicken

Smothered Chicken is one of my favorite comfort foods. This is a very loose interpretation of the original recipe, using ingredients I had on hand and made in the crock pot. I'm planning to serve it with rice-a-roni (made from my homemade mix) and Great Northern Beans.

Crock Pot Smothered Chicken

1 whole chicken, cut up and skin removed if desired
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 can cream of potato soup (any cream soup can be substituted)
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp pepper

If desired, dredge chicken in flour and brown (this is not necessary to do). Put vegetables in crock pot, then add chicken. sprinkle with seasoned salt and pepper, add soups. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-5 hours.

Nov 13, 2005

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

Sweet potato pie has been on my mind since I started planning my Thanksgiving menu a few days ago. The recipe I enjoy most is Sweet Potato Pecan Pie. I created this recipe to try to duplicate the pie that my grandfather made for Thanksgiving when I was a kid.

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup evaporated milk
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes (you can use canned yams)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Add milk, sweet potatoes, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt mix well. Sprinkle pecans into pie shell. Pour batter into pie shell. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees; bake 35-40 minutes longer or until pie tests done. Cool then store in refrigerator.

Note: If the crust seems to be browning too quickly, remove it from the oven and lightly cover the crust with foil (just around the edge to cover the crust, do not cover the center of the pie) then return to oven to finish baking.

Nov 11, 2005

Menus and a Recipe

Planning to go to the food co-op tomorrow so I'm working on menus for the next two weeks. These may change a bit depending on what they have available but this is what I have in mind...

Monday - Turkey burgers, fries, baked beans
Tuesday - Crunchy Baked Chicken, Rice Pilaf, California Mix Vegetables
Wednesday - Great Northern beans, greens, corn bread
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Beef and Broccoli, Thai Style Noodles
Saturday - Chili, Rice
Sunday - Leftovers
Monday - Shepherd's Pie (using ground turkey)
Tuesday - Nacho Stuffed Shells (recipe follows), Salad
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - Thanksgiving Dinner
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Leftovers
Sunday - Salisbury Steak, brown rice, green beans
Sunday - Hot Dogs, Baked Beans, Rice-A-Roni
Monday - Pinto beans, corn bread, rice
Tuesday- Leftovers
Wednesday - Tacos, Refried Beans, Spanish Rice

Here's the Nacho Stuffed Shells recipe, I got it from Theresa from A Momma and The Boys Living on a Budget.

Nacho Stuffed Shells

12 ounces jumbo shells (32 to 36 shells) -- uncooked
3/4 pound extra-lean ground beef
1/4 c. quick cooking oats
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 cup water
1 can (16-ounce) refried beans with chilies
1 cup low-fat cheddar cheese -- shredded
3/4 cup salsa
1 can (8-ounce) tomato sauce
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

Prepare pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, saute beef in a large skillet until browned; drain well and add oatmeal. Add taco seasoning mix and water; simmer 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in beans and cheese. Cook until smooth and well-mixed. When pasta is done, drain well. Fill shells with beef mixture (1-2 tablespoons per shell). Combine salsa and tomato sauce in a saucepan. Cook until heated, stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread 1/2 cup sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan that has been lightly greased. Place filled shells side by side on top of sauce; pour remaining sauce evenly over shells. Cover with a tent of aluminum foil; bake 35 to 40 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with green onions. Cover and let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish as desired.

Restaurant Style Teriyaki Sauce

The other night I finally made the Chicken Katsu my daughter has been asking for. It turned out really well, although a couple of the pieces were still pink inside. I found a quick solution. I wrapped each piece in paper towels and microwaved for 2 minutes each. The breading was still perfectly crunchy and the middles were done to perfection. Today I found a new method for cooking the chicken. I think I will try it next time. Dawna from Always In The Kitchen bakes hers and it sounds so much easier and less greasy. Can't wait to give it a try!

I have really been searching for a new recipe for teriyaki sauce. The one I have been using is ok, but I was looking for that thick, rich mouthwatering sauce you find in restaurants. Here is the recipe I came up with based on one I found on It is perfect and went great with our meal.

Restaurant Style Teriyaki Sauce

1/4 c. soy sauce
1 c. water
1 tbsp. orange juice
2 Tbsp pineapple juice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp garlic powder
5 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp corn starch
1/4 c. cold water
dash of pepper squeeze of lime juice

Mix everything except the corn starch and 1/4 c. cold water in a sauce pan. Begin to heat, meanwhile dissolve the corn starch into the cold water. Slowly drizzle the corn starch mixture into the heating ingredients while whisking constantly. continue to whisk while heating to a boil until desired thickness is reached.

Nov 10, 2005

Apricot Chicken

I created this recipe a couple years ago when I was given some canned apricots. I knew my kids wouldn't eat them as is so I put them to a better use. This is very good served with rice or noodles.

Apricot Chicken

1 can apricots (make sure to peel them, they still have the peels onion the can)
1/2 c. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. dried minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. Chinese 5 Spice Powder
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp honey

Drain the apricots (save the juice) and peel them, put them in a mini food processor and puree them. Pour the puree in a bowl and whisk the juice back in. Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk well. Pour over chicken and marinade then bake or put chicken in crock pot and pour marinade over it over the chicken and cook until done.

Nov 9, 2005

Spinach Veggie Dip and Garlic Pita Chips

My girls and I are going to a homeschool meeting tomorrow. These meetings are usually potluck and we usually all bring appetizers. This is what we are taking tomorrow.

Spinach Veggie Dip

1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. ranch dressing
1/2 c. mayonaise
1 envelope onion soup mix
3 scallions, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. minced shallots
1 stalk celery, minced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. pepper

Drain spinach then put it in white paper towels and squeeze dry. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.

Garlic Pita Chips

1 package pita bread
Garlic salt
Olive oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut each pita into sixths then split each piece into two. Lay pieces, outer side down on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt. Bake for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool. When cool, store in an airtight container.

Nov 8, 2005

Spinach and Beef Lasanga

As promised, here's the recipe for Spinach and Beef Lasanga. I got this recipe from

Spinach and Beef Lasanga

1 pound ground beef
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 jar (26 to 30 ounces) spaghetti sauce
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 carton (15 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, drained well
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, slightly beaten
10 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Brown ground beef in large nonstick skillet over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes or until beef is not pink, breaking up into small crumbles. Pour off drippings; season with salt. Stir in spaghetti sauce, tomatoes and red pepper. Set aside. Meanwhile combine ricotta cheese, spinach, Parmesan cheese and egg in medium bowl. Spread 2 cups beef sauce in bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish. Top with 4 noodles, arranged lengthwise in single layer; place fifth noodle crosswise at end of dish, breaking noodle to fit dish. Press noodles lightly into sauce. Spread all the ricotta mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese; top with 2 cups beef sauce. Top with remaining noodles in single layer; press into sauce. Top with remaining beef sauce. Bake in 375 degrees F oven 45 minutes or until noodles are tender. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese; tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let stand 15 minutes. Cut into twelve 3-inch squares. Servings: 12

Source: Cattlemen's Beef Board

Nov 7, 2005

Whole Wheat Pizza with Roasted Peppers and Olives

We had the most amazing pizza for lunch yesterday. I was inspired by the roasted red and yellow bell peppers in my freezer and a half full jar of pasta sauce in the fridge. I tweaked my pizza crust recipe a bit and created a simple pizza with flavors that will make your taste buds sing.

Whole Wheat Pizza with Roasted Peppers and Olives


2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1½ tsp. garlic powder
1 c. warm water
1 pkg. yeast
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of sugar


Mozzarella cheese
Pasta or pizza sauce
Sliced Pepperoni
Roasted red and yellow bell peppers strips
Sliced black olives

Add a pinch of sugar and the package of yeast to the water. Set aside for 5 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, salt, Italian seasoning and garlic powder, mix well. Pour the water and olive oil into the flour mixture and stir until well combined. Knead a few times, until smooth. Allow dough to rest in a covered bowl for 10 minutes. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Form dough into a pizza crust and place on an oiled cookie sheet or corn meal sprinkled, warmed pizza stone. Top pizza with above toppings and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until nicely browned.

Nov 6, 2005

Birria - Mexican Style Pot Roast

Birria (pronounced "vee-dee-a") is one of the foods I always remember from childhood that would make my mouth water just from the smell. My mom would make this for parties or holidays and although her crockpot started out full, by the end of the night it was empty. This dish is traditionally served with flour or corn tortillas (gorditas are best), pinto beans and Spanish rice.

Birria (my mom's recipe)

1 3 to 5 lb. beef roast (preferably brisket - NOT "CORNED" BEEF BRISKET)
1 large can whole tomatoes, crushed (you can do this with kitchen shears right in the can)
3 large carrots shredded
1 large white onion, sliced very thin
2 celery stalks, sliced thin
1 jar medium sized Spanish olives, sliced
Seasonings to taste: salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, garlic powder

Put roast in the crock pot. When roast is done (8 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high) remove it from crock and shred. Remove any fat and save the broth. Layer in the crock pot in equal amounts as follows: meat, tomatoes, onions, carrots, celery, olives, broth. Repeat layers. Allow to heat for 30 minutes so flavors can blend.

Nov 5, 2005

Arroz Dulce - Mexican Rice Pudding

I absolutly love rice pudding... it's so warm and comforting. The recipe I grew up eating is called Arroz Dulce. It's a Mexican style rice pudding that has no eggs in it and it's prepared on the stove top. It simple and very good. Here is my recipe.

Arroz Dulce

2 c. medium grain rice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
½ c. raisins
1/4 tsp salt
14 oz. can evaporated milk
½ c. whole or 2 % milk
Sugar, to taste (about 1/2 c. to 1 c.)

Cook the rice according to package directions with the cinnamon added to the cooking water. Soak the raisins in boiling water with the vanilla added then drain. When the rice is done, mix the salt and canned milk and whole or 2% milk in. Stir in the raisins. Taste and adjust seasonings to taste.

Nov 4, 2005

Homemade English Muffins

(updated info)

Since I first posted this recipe I have made theese muffins, taken photos of the muffins, and also tweaked the recipe a bit. I edited the recipe with my updated version.

I was just surfing through some of my favorite food related blogs and found the most delicious looking picture of homemade English Muffins on Nosheteria. That picture sent me in search of a recipe. I can't wait to make these! I think today I will do a cooking project with my girls and we can make them together. The only problem is I ruied out toaster (don't laugh but I dropped butter inside one of the slots while it was still hot). Oh well... we'll just have to improvise and toast them in a hot skillet! :)

I found this recipe on

Homemade English Muffins

(my version of the recipe)

1 1/4 cup milk, warm
3 tbsp butter or margarine (I melt it in the milk.)
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten ( optional, I beat in the warmed milk and melted butter.)
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. yeast

PREPARATION: This dough can be done in a bread maker... otherwise... Place ingredients in bowl and mix together. Knead in the extra flour until it's not very sticky. Allow to rise until double in bulk. Roll dough out onto cornmeal covered surface. Cut out dough into circles (whatever size you want). Cover and let rise about 30 minutes.

Heat frying pan (or griddle) to medium heat. Place muffing cornmeal side down. Cook about 10 minutes on each side. Split with a fork and use your choice of toppings. Enjoy!

Nov 3, 2005

Thanksgiving Recipes

I’ve been in the mood for comfort foods lately with the warmer weather. I’ve been wanting pinto beans and collard greens. We went grocery shopping at Wal-Mart last weekend and I found that they now have frozen pinto beans (ready in 12 minutes) and collard greens that are already cup up and cleaned. I already had corn bread in the freezer. I will be totally spoiled now, this was too easy.

I have been thinking a lot about Thanksgiving lately. My kids really don’t want turkey but after seeing the recipe for Turkey Soup on Culinary In The Desert, I think I may just have to make one anyhow.

So if I get MY way here is what we will be having for dinner on Thanksgiving.

Turkey – I like to buy a Butterball and rub it down with butter and then sprinkle with some Penzey’s Bicentinial Rub. I don’t stuff my turkey, I fill the cavity with onion, carrots and celery and them make my stuffing in the crock pot (recipe below). I roast the turkey according to the directions that come in the package.

Crock Pot Stuffing

7 c. dry bread cubes (I use half white/wheat bread ends and ½ corn bread)
1 c. minced white onion (not the dry kind)
1 c. minced celery (fresh, not dried)
1 c. chicken or turkey stock
¼ c. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. paprika
½ tsp sage
½ tsp. thyme
1 stick butter or margarine

Rub crock pot with the butter, cut the remainder in small pieces and set aside. Combine all ingredients including butter and put into crock pot. Cook on low 2 – 3 hours.

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy – ok, so shoot me but I use instant potatoes and gravy from a mix.

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

2 c. uncooked macaroni
1/2 c. butter or margarine
1/3 c. finely chopped onion
3 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 3/4 c. milk
1 1/2 c. shredded medium cheddar cheese
Dry bread crumbs
Cook and drain macaroni. Put into a 2 qt. greased casserole dish. In medium sauce pan, melt butter or margarine over med. heat. Add onion, cook until tender, stir occasionally. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick and bubbly. Add cheese, stir until melted. Combine macaroni and cheese sauce, mix well, pour into greased dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake at 35o degrees for 35 - 40 minutes.

Collard Greens

Rolls – I buy frozen ready to bake rolls

Cranberry Sauce – we love the jelled kind in the can.

Sweet Potato Pie – Thanksgiving would not be Thanksgiving without a piece of this pie.

Tropical Cheesecake – this may not sound like a traditional recipe for Thanksgiving but it is so beautiful and festive it has become a holiday tradition in my family.

1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbs. sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. orange juice (reserved from can of mandarin oranges which will be used for topping)
1/2 tsp. pineapple juice (reserved from can of pineapple chunks which will be used for topping)
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
3 eggs
2 Tbsp. butter melted
1 tsp. orange juice (reserved from can of mandarin oranges which will be used for topping)
1 tsp. pineapple juice (reserved from can of pineapple chunks which will be used for topping)

1 small can of mandarin oranges, well drained
1 small can of pineapple chunks, well drained
maraschino cherries
flaked coconut

Combine first 5 ingredients, mixing well. Press mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan. Set aside. Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add 1 cup sugar and flour, mixing well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in 2 Tbsp. melted butter, 1 tsp. pineapple juice and 1 tsp. orange juice. Spoon into prepared pan; bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to serve.When ready to serve add toppings as follows:Around the very edge of the cheesecake place mandarin oranges forming a ring around the cake. Working in towards the center next add a ring of pineapple chunks. Next add a ring of coconut and finally add cherries (cut in half) in the center.

Nov 2, 2005

Crock Pot Beef Stew

With the weather getting cooler, I figured I’d prepare beef stew for dinner. It’s always my favorite comfort food in cool weather, it reminds me of my grandmother. Here’s my recipe.

Crockpot Beef Stew

4 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, chopped
½ pkg. frozen mixed vegetables
1 lb. stew meat
½ can tomato paste
1 pkg. beef stew seasoning
3 c. water

Layer ingredients in order in crock pot. Cook on low 4-5 hours or high 7-8 hours.

Nov 1, 2005

Homemade Rice-A-Roni Mix

It was a very long weekend and I am very tired, so tonight we had a very simple meal.  Hot dogs, baked beans and homemade Rice-A-Roni.  I found the recipe for Rice-A-Roni mix in The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyzen.  It is very good and so much less expensive than the boxed mixes.  Be creative!  You can certainly adapt the recipe to any flavor you’d like, although I went with the book’s traditional chicken version.  Here is the recipe.

Homemade Rice-A-Roni Mix (form The Complete Tightwad Gazette)

2 c. rice
1 c. angel hair, vermicelli or spaghettini pasta, broken into very small pieces
¼ c. parsley
6 Tbsp. chicken bullion powder
2 tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. thyme

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  

To prepare:  Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a skillet.  Add 1 c. of the mix and stir.  Add 2 ¼ c. water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.