Sunday, January 31, 2010

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies
Printable Recipe

4 1/2 c crispy rice cereal
1 3/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c butter
3/4 c sugar
2/3 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 c chocolate chips

Process cereal in food processor. Blend to a fine powder. (Measures about 1 c powder)  Combine this with flour, soda and salt.  Cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. Bake 8-10 min.

These are great!  They are unexpectedly chewy.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Angel Cake Two Ways

Both angel food cakes were great. Cake #1 was more dense and more like a pound cake. Cake #2 was lighter closer to typical angel food cake, although still not as fluffy as the box mix. We served with frozen berries from last summer. Yummy!

Two Golden Angel Cakes

Two. Yes, I made two. I screwed up the first one and I just had to do it right, so I made two. We'll be doing a taste test tonight to see which one is better.

Cake #1: I didn't read the directions closely enough and instead of beating the egg whites separately until they became stiff peaks and then folding the egg whites into the rest of the batter, I accidently just added the egg whites directly to the batter. I decided to go ahead and bake the cake anyway and just see if it came out. It did, but it's about 1/2 the size of the correct angel cake.

Cake #2: A correctly made angel food cake.

It's obviously important to read directions carefully when cooking, but today I also realized it's very important to write down the directions correctly as well. My recipe states that I bake the cake for 6 minutes. When cake #1 was obviously taking a lot longer than that to cook I wondered if part of the reason was because of the egg white mix up. Nope, in cooking cake #2, I realized my recipe is just wrong. I confirmed it by looking up a recipe online too. Angel food cakes take about 30 minutes to cook. Where on earth did I get 6 minutes??

I also made Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies for our Birth To Three get together tomorrow night. The secret ingredient was rice crispies. They're pretty good!

Golden Angel Cake 
From: Lucille (Lois's sister)
Printable Recipe

5 eggs separated
1 1/2  sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c cold water
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cream of tarter

Beat egg yolks until thick and lemony. Add water and beat 4 min. Add sugar and beat 1 min. Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add to mixture. Beat in vanilla.  In a separate bowl: Beat egg whites until foamy.   Add cream of tarter and continue beating till stiff peaks form. Fold in batter. our into ungreased 10' angel food pan. Bake 350 for 30 min.  Invert to cool.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Baked Chili Renellos

I think I messed up this recipe at the grocery store. I wrote down whole green chilies. I didn't really note what size of can to buy. The recipe calls for 3- 4oz cans. I bought 2- 27oz cans. I only ended up using 1- 27oz can tonight. I also realize now that I should have doubled the egg mixture given the size of can I bought, but I didn't. Math is not my strongest subject when I'm frantically trying to prep a meal while Charlotte eats lunch and Penelope is at the end of her nap and liable to wake up any moment.

The flavor was good, but I really think it needed the extra egg. I also think I'm just not a huge chili renellos person. I like chilies, but more an a small addition to a meal rather than the whole meal. It's just a bit too much chili for me. I was fun to go into completely uncharted territory though. I'd never seen or eaten chili renellos before so I had no idea what to expect as that can of green chilies was being opened.

Baked Chili Rellenos 
From: Sheila Blackburn

3-  4-oz  Cans whole green chilies (I used 1- 27 oz can)
½ lb  sharp cheddar cheese
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt

Casserole dish:  I used large casserole.  Can’t remember if I doubled recipe to fill it or not. Butter bottom of casserole. Gently take chilies out of can; Rinse to get rid of the seeds.  Arrange whole chilies in bottom of casserole.  Open each chili and fill with ‘a finger of cheese. Beat eggs, beat in the milk and flour.  Pour over chilies and bake in moderate over (350) for 45-50 minutes or until it sets like a custard or soufflé. Serves 6-8.  Can be reheated.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Crock-pot Salsa Chicken

I've always been scared of the crock-pot. I have no idea why. There is no rational explanation for it. If there was any appliance to be scared of it should be the blender or something. I think I was always worried I burn down the house or something. The idea of leaving something cooking all day while I was gone seemed insane to be and yet all these smart rational people are doing it. I know people who won't leave the dishwasher or dryer going when they're gone (I do), but will leave a crock-pot going. I equate it to leaving something on the stove and I think everyone agrees that's nuts. Why do crock pots get a pass?

I faced my fear today and tried a crock-pot recipe. I even left the house for awhile. I did my friend Wendy's recipe and we're using the chicken for shredded tacos tonight. I liked that I didn't have to touch the chicken at all. I just dumped it right into the pot. Cooking was pretty easy. I was concerned it wouldn't actually cook the chicken completely, but I just shredded it and it's done.

Oh my, it was fantastic! I never knew I could cook chicken this good. I'm so impressed with myself tonight. I made a good dinner! Remember, meat is a big deal for me!

I'm going to have to try her alternate option another time. I thought of adding a bit of Yumm sauce to it too.

Wendy's Crock Pot Salsa Chicken 
From: Wendy Walker
Printable Recipe

Frozen chicken breasts
Can/container of salsa (add a little water if it's really thick salsa)
Dash of lime juice

Let it cook all day on low. 

Shred, then have burritos, fajitas, tacos, nachos, etc.  Or, 10 minutes before eating, stir in a block of cream cheese and a couple of cups of cooked rice and eat with some beans.  Super yummy and super easy!  Also very easy to experiment with (add corn or add half sour cream and half cream cheese).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I got this recipe from my friend Katharine. I didn't read it completely before deciding to do it and making the extra trip to Market of Choice for saffron. As I began prepping it today, I discovered a problem. It includes chicken breasts and suggests that using leftover breasts. That would be perfect if I had leftover chicken breasts, but I don't. I have a pack of frozen breasts and no idea how to cook them. Seriously, I need step by step directions for this kind of thing. Like I've explained, I haven't a clue what to do with meat.

Okay, so I cut up the breasts while they were still semi-frozen and then cooked them in a fry pan with some olive oil. Is that okay? Was that right? Maybe 11 months from now I'll know. I'm proud of myself for not just putting the recipe aside and defrosting some extra homemade tamales for dinner. Before 2010, that's exactly what I would have done.

Penelope and I prepped everything else so it's now at the- throw it all in the pot spot. I find it much easier to make these recipes if I start some prepping after lunch. It's been a bit of life change for me to start thinking this way, but it's also producing a lot of fun in the kitchen.

Penelope and I are going to go practice more rolling over before dinner officially needs to get started.

It's good. I did have to make a quick call to Katharine to double check I was doing it right. I was expecting a "soup", but as the rice cooked it soaked up all the stock and I was ending up with a thick rice stew almost. It was right.

Charlotte liked the carrots, but wouldn't touch it that much. I still think it's a do over meal and it would be pretty simple to do with leftover chicken. I love carrots in this kind of thing, so next time I'll put in more carrots.

This will also be a good meal to eat as leftovers. Y'know how some meals just don't do well the second day? Not this one. Lunch tomorrow!

Austin absolutely loved it and we're fighting over the leftovers for tomorrow's lunch.

Virginia's Mulligatawny
From: Katharine Gallagher
 Printable Recipe 

2/3 to ¾ C rice
3 T butter
1 C onion, chopped
1 C carrot, chopped
1 to 2 t curry
½ t saffron or turmeric
¼ t black pepper
salt to taste
2 Q chicken stock
¼ C flour
½ C milk
1 to 2 cooked, chopped chicken breasts (a great use for leftover chicken)
1 C half and half or milk of any kind

Melt butter in a large saucepan and sauté rice, stirring frequently. Add onion and carrot and sauté until vegetables soften slightly. Add curry powder, saffron / turmeric, pepper, salt and chicken stock. Cook until carrots are done.

Blend flour with milk until smooth. Add to soup to thicken. Add chicken to soup. Stir in half and half / milk and heat carefully, without boiling. Serve.

Monday, January 25, 2010


My mother's manicotti recipe. I remember LOVING this as a child.

Sauce: I'm working on the sauce now. I couldn't find the 2#3oz cans of tomatoes so instead I just bought 1#12oz cans of crushed tomatoes. My recipe also doesn't tell me how much tomato paste to add, it just says "a can". I put in 2 of the 6oz cans cause that's what I had. And, it calls for 1/4c of olive oil? That seems like a lot. It's simmering now and it sure smells yummy!

Filling: I opted to put a bit more parsley in and forget the wooden spoon to mix it. Use your hands.

Shells: Crepes. These things are hard!!! But it's a fun challenge. This HAS to be an old recipe. Melt 1 TBS of butter in the bottom of the pan? That's a lot of butter!! After the first crepe I realized this wouldn't work. Way too much butter. Out went the butter. I used olive oil spray between crepes- much better. I'm still working on my crepe technique, but I got okay at them. It's hard to get the batter to go all the way around the pan without any holes. Maybe I should use a smaller pan.

Wow! It made a ton! I made a huge pan and an additional little pan to freeze and I had a bag of plenty of sauce leftover to freeze for spaghetti sauce sometime. It was pretty labor intensive though. Not hard. Just not something that can be easily whipped together with two kids running around. (Luckily, Charlotte is at grandma and grandpa's.)

It was fantastic! Charlotte liked it too.

Why do I always have to do a messy stove top project right after Austin has cleaned the stove top so nicely? Get out the scrapper!

Mom's Manicotti
Printable Recipe

Manicotti Sauce
1/4 c olive salad oil
1 c finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (2# 3oz) Italian tomatoes (2- 1#12oz cans crushed is what I used)
1 can tomato paste
2 sprig parsley
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/4 c water

Heat oil. Saute onions and garlic until brown- 5 min. Add all else.  Mix well.  Mash tomatoes with fork. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Simmer covered, stirring occasionally 1 hr.

Manicotti Shells
1 1/4 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 c water
5 eggs
olive oil spray

Combine eggs, flour, salt, water with electric mixer. Beat till smooth.  Heat fry pan on med high heat. Spray fry pan. Pour 2 TBS batter in pan, rotate quickly. Spread batter evenly til top dry and bottom not brown. Flip. Turn out on wire rack. Stack wax paper between shells.

Manicotti Filling
2# ricotta cheese
1 pkg (8oz) mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/3 c grated Parmesan, plus 2 TBS Parm, grated
2 eggs
1 TBS chopped parsley
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine 1/3 c Parm and other ingredients. Beat well with wooden spoon (or hands).

Spoon a bit of sauce in a 13x9 pan. Place about 1/4 c filling in center of each shell and roll up. Place seams down in pan. Cover with sauce. Sprinkle with 2 TBS Parm.

Preheat over 350 and bake 30 min or until bubbly.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chocolate Lava Cakes

Absolutely delicious!  Austin called them "goodness in a bowl" and Charlotte helped me put them together. If you like the edge of brownies, you should enjoy this recipe.  I think I let them cook a little too long so they were more like brownies in the middle than gooey lava centers, but they were still delicious.

Chocolate Lava Cakes
Printable Recipe

1 c flour
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 c salted butter, melted
1 c sugar
1 c packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
12 T semi sweet chocolate chip (about 4 1/2 oz)
1 c chilled whipping cream
3 T powdered sugar

Sift flour, cocoa, and baking powder in med bowl. Place butter in large bowl; add both sugars and whisk until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time, then vanilla and almond extracts. Whisk in dry ingredients.

Divide batter among six 1 cup ramekins. Top each with 2 T chocolate chips. Gently press chips into batter. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to one day. Combine cream and powdered sugar, whisk until peaks form. Chill 1 hour.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350. Let mugs with batter stand at room temp for 5 min. Bake uncovered until cakes are puffed and crusty and tester inserted into center comes out with thick batter attached, about 30 min. Cook 5 min and top with whipped cream to serve.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Potato Leek Soup with Cheddar Toast

I love Potato Leek soup and have a recipe I've done a number of times. This one was slightly different and I liked it a lot. Making it was pretty easy for me especially since there was no meat involved. I almost feel like I'm cheating on my resolution when I do easy recipes like this, but it's about finding good new recipes I'll actually make rather than attempting culinary feats.

Since this is Adventures in Cooking, I'll try to divulge all the mishaps in the kitchen too. Today's mishap: Remember that salmon I made two night ago? Right near the end of the salmon cooking I threw into the oven a few extra frozen quiches we had. Then, the salmon was done, I pulled it out, shut off the oven, and completely forgot about the quiche. Today, I preheated the oven for the cheddar toast. I actually let the oven sit for a bit because the soup was taking a bit longer than I expected and I didn't want the toast done too early. When I did open the oven I got a burst of smoke from the burned quiches. Oops.

The soup was great. The cheddar toast was fantastic. I almost ate all of Austin's before he got home. Charlotte was hungry before the soup was done so she entertained herself by eating the pile of shredded cheese I had prepared for the toast- twice. By the time the soup was done she was full. Oh well.

Golden Potato-Leek Soup and Cheddar Toast
Adapted from Parents Magazine article
Printable Recipe

1 Tbs butter
3 c thinly sliced leek (about 3 med)
6 c cubed, peeled Yukon gold potatoes (about 2 1/4 lbs)
2 c water
1/2 tsp salt
2 (14oz) can vegetable broth
2 thyme sprigs
1/3 cup milk
1/4 tsp pepper

8 (1/4 inch thick) slices French bread baguette
Cooking spray
1/2 c shredded sharp cheese
1/8 tsp ground red pepper

Preheat oven 375.
Soup: melt butter.  Add leek, cook 10 min until tender, stirring occasionally. Add potatoes, water, salt, broth, and thyme sprigs. Boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered 20 min or until potatoes tender.  Discard thyme sprigs. Partially mash potatoes with potato masher and stir in cream. Sprinkle with pepper. Serve with toast.

Toast: Place baguette slices on baking sheet. Bake 375 for 7 min or until toasted.  Turn over, coat with spray, sprinkle cheese over each slice  Bake 5 min or until cheese melts.  Sprinkle with red pepper.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Garbanzo Bean Coconut Curry

This isn't a new recipe, but it is a favorite in this house. I got it from my friend Elly when Charlotte was young. I love it because it's one of those put everything in the pan and let cook recipes and you can change up the veggies as needed so you just use whatever is leftover in the fridge. I personally love potatoes and broccoli in it. And, for those worried about the curry being "hot", the curry in the bulk section is not spicy at all, it's just the curry flavor.

Charlotte loves garbanzo beans too so this dinner is always a hit.

Garbanzo Bean Coconut Curry 
From: Elly Vandergrift
Printable Recipe

2 tsp coriander
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp curry
1/2 tsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 15oz can garbanzo beans
1 can coconut milk
Veggies cubed (zucchini, squash, mushrooms, broccoli, peas, corn, carrots, potatoes)
1 can diced tomatoes
2 T dry basil or 10 chopped fresh basil leaves

In large pan, put all ingredients except tomatoes, basil, and rice.  Cook till veggies are tender, 10 min. Remove from heat, add in tomatoes and basil.  Serve over rice.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ginger Salmon and Mashed Edamame

I was excited to find this recipe as I have a ton of salmon in my freezer from my brother-in-law's catch this summer. I love salmon, but haven't really cooked it a ton in my life. I find touching fish much easier than chicken.

The salmon was delicious! The recipe was so simple too! Loved it! I will be doing this recipe again with some of the salmon still in my freezer and I think I'll also try and find a salmon cake recipe to try too.

The mashed edamame was not good. I really like edamame on it's own and this just felt unnecessary to do to edamame. It was slightly difficult as I don't have a food processor to do it in. I might actually have to break down and get a processor soon. I tried the blender and my immersion blender and got a decent consistency. I think maybe if the edamame was cooked a lot more so it was really really mushy it would have been better. But, like I said, I like edamame all on it's own anyway.

Ginger Salmon
Adapted from Parents Magazine article
Printable Recipe

Olive oil spray
1 lb salmon fillet
2 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 425. Line baking sheet with foil, coat with oil spray. Place salmon, skin down, on foil.  Top with soy sauce and spices.  Bake 10 min.

Mashed Edamame
1 lb frozen shelled edamame
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs. olive oil

Cook edamame, drain and reserve some cooking water.  Puree edamame, lemon, oil, salt, and soy sauce in food processor. Add reserved liquid until smooth.

Friday, January 15, 2010

And some nights....

Just so you all don't think I'm a culinary student every night.... tonight we're having mac and cheese... from the box, not homemade.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Split Pea Soup

Sheila gave me the ham bone from Christmas dinner so I could try some split pea soup. I got the split peas out of the bulk section at the grocery store and actually got the recipe right there too! I forgot to measure the peas out before I let them soak overnight, so I'm pretty sure I had more peas than was called for but it turned out yummy anyway! I think the hardest thing about the recipe was being home all afternoon so it could cook. I had planned to be home, but then the rain lifted and I wanted to go out for a walk (I ended up turning off the stove and just going).

Charlotte declared it, "Yep, good" when I asked if she liked it.

And, my goodness it made a lot! I froze about half of it for another time. Yummy and super duper cheap to make! (Especially given that I got the ham bone for free!)

I'd love to try some alterations. Any ideas?

Split Pea Soup
Printable Recipe

2 c dried split peas
1 ham bone
3 stalks celery, chopped fine
3 carrots, chopped
3 qts water
1 large onion
1 spring parsley

Soak peas in water overnight.  Add in ham bone, onion, celery, carrots, parsley. Heat to boiling, cover. Simmer 4-5 hrs until peas are tender and liquid is partially cooked down. Season to taste with salt ad pepper.

Monday, January 11, 2010


One of my recipes from my box that I've never done:

My mom's enchiladas.

Easy to make. Actually, so easy they could be almost considered a quick meal. I liked the addition of the cloves, although I didn't ground them up enough and got a few chunks. A little bit of cloves goes a long way!

Printable Recipe

1 lb ground beef
1 can (6oz) tomato paste
1 can (4 1/2oz) chopped or sliced olives
1/4 tsp ground cloves (or less! A little goes a long way)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 dozen tortillas
1 can (8oz) tomato sauce
1 c shredded cheese

Brown beef. Add rest and simmer 5 min. Heat tortillas in hot oven to make pliable. Put spoonfuls of meat mix in each tortilla.  Roll up and place in shallow baking dish. Top with tomato sauce and cheese. Bake 375 for 20 min.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Boston Cream Pie

Boston Cream Pie
Printable Recipe

3 large eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c sugar
pinch salt
3/4 c cake flour

1/2 c sugar
1/4 c flour
1 1/2 c milk
6 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla
pinch salt

1/2 c sugar
3 Tbs light corn syrup
2 T water
4 oz (4 squares) semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Oven 350. Grease 9' pan. Line with waxed paper. Beat egg yolks and vanilla till blended. Beat in 1/2 c sugar until thick and pale. Use clean, dry beaters. Beat egg whites and salt until foamy peaks appear. Beat in sugar till stiff, but not dry peaks form.  Folk yolk mixture into egg whites. Sift flour over mixture, fold gently.  Do not over mix.  Pour into pan. Bake cake until top spring- 25 min. Remove from pan. Leave paper on and turn upright.

Prepare filling:
In saucepan, mix sugar and flour, whisk in milk, egg yolks, vanilla and slat. Bring to boil over med heat. Boil 1 min, whisk constantly, Strain through sieve bowl. Press plastic wrap on surface. Chill 30 min.

Using serrated knife, ut cake horizontally in half. Spread filling evenly on top. Place top.

In saucepan, heat sugar, corn syrup and water to a boil over low heat stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Remove heat. Add chocolate and let stand 1 min. Whisk until smooth. Pour glaze over cake and allow to drip over sides. Let stand until glaze sets

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Chicken and Brown Rice Soup

No. No no no no no! The directions begin: remove skin from chicken. Unacceptable! How could I not read the directions before deciding to make this. Buying chicken thighs was a feat in itself. I've only ever brought breasts. Luckily, the thighs were easy to find, but I did almost walk off with drumsticks because of a misplaced sign. Now, I have to remove skin! No!! NO NO NO NO NO!!!! (temper tantrum ensues....)

The reasons I don't like to touch chicken are complicated. It's not just that it's slimy. I honestly could probably get over that. It's that it's slimy AND that it's meat. It's a part of an animal! It makes me really think about the fact that I'm touching and plan to eat the flesh and muscle of another animal. I then start wondering what the meat on my body is like. In an odd way touching chicken makes me think of cannibalism. If I touch raw chicken, it's hard for me to bring myself to eat that chicken. I don't know why. It's weird. But, here goes...

The soup was fantastic! A definite do over! Removing the skin wasn't fun, but it wasn't as bad as I expected. Of course, I cooked it way longer than the directions said too, but I wanted to make sure they were done. Right at the end, you remove the chicken from the soup and then have to take the chicken off the bone. This wasn't terribly fun for me either, but it also wasn't as bad as I expected. Hey, I think I'm growing! Good for me!

Chicken and Brown Rice Soup
Adapted from Parents Magazine article
Printable Recipe

1 1/2 lbs chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
2 tsp canola oil
2 c diced onion
1 1/2 c diced celery
1 c frozen diced carrots
2 tsp sage
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp nutmeg
4 c low-salt chicken broth
1 c water
2 c cooked brown rice

Remove skin from chicken and season lightly with salt and pepper. Sear chicken in oil until golden brown, about 10 min. Mix onions, celery, carrots, sage, garlic powder, thyme, and nutmeg. Add to chicken in pan.  Saute until onions are translucent, 5 min. Add broth and water. Cover pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 30 min, until chicken pulls away from bone. Remove chicken, discard bones, add meat back to pot. Mix in rice, heat 2-3 min. Serves 8.

I made my first dessert for tomorrow's dinner. Boston Cream Pie. Yum!!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

All You Do Is...

My wonderful and supportive mom had a great idea for me today. Get a pork roast. Put it in the crock pot. And, voila, shredded pork for all kinds of meals. Maybe I haven't explained my complete ineptness with meat fully...

First of all, I haven't the foggiest what a pork roast looks like. I realize I can read packages, but I'm already intimidated by step 1 of this process. Two, I haven't a clue what else to put in the crock pot, if anything. I'd think something with a little moisture so it doesn't stick to the bottom and burn, but maybe I'm wrong. Three, "all kinds of meals"? Like what?

I know how to do one thing with chicken breasts- put it on the BBQ. I haven't a clue how to bake, broil, boil, or do anything involving the stove or oven with chicken. I know how to do two things with ground beef. Tacos or meat spaghetti sauce. Shredded pork? You might as well give me frog legs or squid to work with.

But hopefully by the end of this year I'll be saying crazy things about pork roasts, crock pots, shredded pork, and all the meals I'm making with them. :-)

Beef and Veggie Stir Fry

The biggest complication of this meal is the beef. It began in the grocery store. The recipe calls for 1 lb of beef strips. I know how to buy chicken breasts and ground beef. That's it. I break into a sweat whenever I'm confronted with buying anything else. It's like I'm staring at thing-a-ma-jigs with foreign language on the packaging. It's almost worse than going to the hardware store in search of random thing-a-ma-jig. Maybe it is worse. At least at the hardware store they don't expect you to know everything. There are actually sales people wandering around ready to help you. At the grocery store, you feel pretty silly being confused by the beef. There were no beef strips. First I asked a nice older lady who was also in the aisle for help. She looked and didn't see any either. That made me feel better. I wasn't a complete idiot. Then, I had to talk to the meat counter people. The good news- they don't make beef strips anymore. I just had to buy the beef patties and slice it into smaller strips myself. Not a huge deal. But, the lady did act a bit like I should just *know* that beef strips were sirloin patties that can just be sliced.

I survived the grocery store and here I am cooking away. The recipe is pretty easy. I'm sure I'll overcook the meat though.

I didn't overcook the meat! And, it was pretty darn good. The stir fry sauce needs a bit of work though. It was a little too strong. Loved the ginger in it though!

Beef and Veggie Stir Fry
Adapted from Parents Magazine article
Printable Recipe

1 lb lean beef strips
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger, divided
3 Tbs reduced sodium soy sauce
2 Tbs water
1 Tbs rice wine vinegar
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 c chopped celery
1 lb mixed frozen stir fry veggies
2 tsp canola oil
2 c cooked brown rice

1. Season beef with salt, pepper and 1/4 tsp ginger. Combine soy sauce, water, vinegar, cornstarch, onion and garlic powders, and remaining ginger in a separate bowl. Mix celery and veggies in another bowl.
2. Heat wok or skillet on med-high. Add oil and beef; stir-fry, 2-3 min. Remove beef and set aside. Add veggies. Stir fry until veggies thawed, 4 min. Return beef to pan. Add sauce. Cook until sauce thickened, 2 min. Serve over rice.

An update on the Penne and Turkey Sausage meal. We had leftovers last night. I had a meeting so was gone when Austin and Charlotte ate. Austin said Charlotte ate the whole thing down, but she didn't like the stuff on the outside of the sausage either. He ended up cutting it off for her and she gobbled the sausage down. Austin said he hardly thinks of the "shrink wrap" when he's eating a sausage. It's almost all I can think about. Like mother like daughter I guess.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Penne with Turkey Sausage and Peppers

You know I really don't like sausage all that much. However, I love brats whenever I'm in Germany. Maybe it's a continent thing.

Thoughts while cooking:
This was my first meal with meat. Some of the sausage was sliding out the ends, thus making it really easy to notice the tubing stuff it's in. First of all, yuck! That just reminds me it's just mashed up parts of an animal. And, two- are they sure that tubing stuff is edible? It looks like shrink wrap. I actually double checked the packaging to make sure there wasn't a warning label about remembering to remove that stuff. How on earth do you brown all sides of a sausage? The curve basically makes that impossible. Austin would laugh at this- y'know when you're partway through a meal and you realize you chose the wrong pan to begin the meal in. Yep, that's what I'm dealing with now. Hmm... I wonder if the recipe has a typo. It calls for 1- 4.5oz can of diced tomatoes. Are they sure they didn't mean 1- 14.5oz can (the standard can size)? Oh well, I'll add it all. Maybe it'll hide the sausage more from me.

Not only would Charlotte not eat it. She wouldn't even come to the table for dinner. Well, she missed out. It was pretty darn tasty. Even though I used less penne than was called for, I still thought the pasta ratio was a little off (too much). I will concede that that sausage was very tasty and after Sheila assured me it was cooked I had less hesitation about eating it, but I still hold that I don't like sausage that much. I think it's the consistency and that weird shrink wrap stuff around it, and the fact it's mashed up parts.... oh, I really shouldn't blog while I'm still eating the meal....

Penne and Turkey Sausage
Adapted from Parents Magazine article
Printable Recipe

2 tsp canola oil
1 lb uncooked Italian turkey sausage links or bulk sausage
1 c chopped onion (about 1/2 onion)
1 16oz bag frozen pepper strips
1 c water
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
1 Tbs dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 lb dried penne pasta (1/2 lb was plenty)

1. Add oil and sausage to pan. Cook until brown, about 4 min. Add onion and saute for 1 min. Add peppers, water, tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic powder, black pepper, and Worcestershire. Cover. Boil. Lower heat, simmer 10 min.

2. Remove sausages and slice. Return to pan and simmer 20 min uncovered. Cook Pasta. Toss with sausage mixture.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Glazed Carrots

My first meal (Spinach Tart) wasn't too hard. No meat involved. It did take longer to cook- by about 20 minutes- then stated. Austin liked it. I thought it was okay. I'm not a huge fan of frozen spinach (love fresh!) and the biggest negative for me was that it was too spinachy. Charlotte wouldn't touch it.

As for the carrots, they were fantastic! Who wouldn't love carrots cooked in butter and brown sugar. The recipe called for pepper too and Charlotte thought they were too "hot". I'm sure it was the pepper. I'd do these again with less pepper.

All in all, a success even though I had to make my daughter a second dinner because she wouldn't touch the first. I'm really against this concept overall, but the pepper issue softened my heart.

Glazed Carrots
Adapted from Parents Magazine article
1 12-oz bag frozen carrots
1/2 c water
1 Tbs butter
3 Tbs  brown sugar

Place carrots, water, butter, and brown sugar in a skillet.  Bring to a boil and cover.  Cook on medium for 7 min.  Uncover and cook another 10-12 min until liquid is evaporated and carrots are soft, stirring occasionally.

First Week Starts

As usual I'm jumping into this project with a bit too much gusto. Instead of tackling one meal this week, I'm doing 5, possibly 6, and a dessert. What can I say. I live in "all or nothing" world. I am taking a break from the cooking mania on Wednesday and going out to delicious dinner of sushi for our 9th anniversary. Oh how I've missed sushi being pregnant!

I found a great article about doing 5 meals on $50 in my Parents magazine. The groceries only cost me a bit over $50 which was nice but I'm worried there won't be quite enough food at each meal to feed my big husband, but I thought I'd give it a shot as most of the meals look relatively easy.

Tonight is Spinach and Cheese Tart with Glazed Carrots. Here we go!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Adventures in Learning to Cook

My 2010 resolution will be to learn how to cook. Yes, I do know how to boil water and I can get a basic meal on the table, but it is time that I have some fun in the kitchen and expand my recipe repertoire!

1. To cook at least one new recipe a week. That's at least 52 recipes. It is a far cry from the Julie & Julia goal (my inspiration for this resolution) of 536 in 365, but remember I do have a 2 year old and 2 month old in the house.
2. To try all recipes in my recipe box that have never been tried before.
3. To cook a complete Thanksgiving and Christmas meal sometime this year.

Let the adventure begin!
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