Friday, September 30, 2011

The Crock Pot Week

 I did a lot of cooking over the weekend so we must be heading into fall. The black bean soup was made, a pot roast was made, some cookies, muffins and bread were baked. I pulled out the crock pot and started thinking, would I be able to use the crock pot for dinner every evening this week? It was a challenge I was willing to undergo!

Monday night we used the crock pot to reheat and hold the black bean soup and we had that and homemade bread for dinner.  Tuesday is a swim meet night, so the pot roast will be reheated and in the crock pot for dinner whenever anyone needs or wants to eat. Now the challenge...can I create 4-5 more meals using the crock pot? I decided I would really try to cook the entire meal in the crock pot.  The bean soup was a bit of a cheat because I had actually made that on the stove, but the pot roast had been cooked in the crock pot.

I started my search and the first unique use of the crock pot I found was down, 3-4 to go. Maybe a chicken dish? Something Vegetarian?

The menu looks like it will be the following...Crockpot Lasagne Wednesday, Roasted Chicken in a Crock Pot Thursday and Crock Pot Jambalya on Friday. That will make a full week of weeknight meals! Since these are all new recipes to me, they will be blogged about individually as I make them, so stay tuned!

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Corn Chex Squares

I got this recipe years ago from a co-worker after she had it at her daughter in law's house. I'm not a huge fan of marshmallows, so I never made these. I don't like the clean up from rice krispie squares, so I don't usually make those either (and the marshmallow thing). I do enjoy rice krispie treats someone else makes and sometimes find just a tiny bit of the marshmallows may be OK. of the desserts that makes me think about growing up in the 70s:) However, I am stretching a bit to provide a variety of desserts for the swim team spaghetti dinners.

Although we can drop the dessert at the host house the day of the dinner, that just involves an extra step for me, so I'm trying to send the dessert with Eleanor when she goes to school. It's a bit tricky to find something that transports well and can sit in a school locker all day and still be good by evening. So, I found this card and thought I would give it a try.

I'm glad I saved this recipe since it did work out well.

Here it is:
2 c corn chex
2 1/2 c pretzel sticks, broken into pieces
1 1/2 c m &ms (I used peanut)
1/2 c butter
1/3 c peanut butter
bag of mini marshmallows
Stir until melted. Add to above ingredients and spread into 9X13" pan (greased). The note says that it's also good with salted peanuts.

I am so happy Elizabeth's back!

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Roasted Tomato Salsa

 This past week I looked at the counter where I keep tomatoes and thought, wow, what am I going to do with all of those? Then the CSA box came and I got even more tomatoes!  We are a family that likes salsa, but not in abundance so I knew I needed to find a recipe I could freeze. I found Roasted Tomato Salsa at This is an amazingly easy recipe and very quick considering it involves roasting.  I did alter the recipe slightly based on what I had.

I used 3-3.5 pounds of tomatoes, a mixture of grape, plum and regular tomatoes.  I also used a Garden Salsa hot pepper and a Hungarian Yellow hot pepper in place of the jalapeno.  In future batches, I will use less hot pepper, this turned out quite hot! I would also advise against using grape tomatoes, it was a pain to peel them!  In my situation they had to be used, so it was worth the effort not to waste them.

A couple other changes...I didn't add any tomato juice, I think the combination of tomatoes added to the juice content so it wasn't necessary.  I also had just a few sprigs of cilantro, so since we love basil with our tomatoes, I added some fresh basil.  I did use salt and pepper, but omitted the vinegar.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Black Bean Soup

Last summer I made a batch of Day by Day Vegetable Medley from As I recall, it was an attempt to use CSA produce, including eggplant, peppers and tomatoes.  This recipe makes about 10 cups of the Medley and the recipe has meal ideas attached.  I proceeded to make the shrimp recipe that was listed and it was awful.  Needless to say, I had about 7 cups left of the stuff so I threw it in the freezer in 2 batches.

When digging through the freezer today, I found, what to do with it. I decided to try a black bean soup, but did not make the recommended recipe.  Instead, I just went with what seemed to make sense.

First I put the mixture in the cuisinart food processor and pureed it.  I then set about cooking a bag of dried black beans.  I roasted a jalapeno pepper I had received from the CSA.  I added the roasted and seeded jalapeno to the eggplant mixture and then threw everything together with the beans, adding 1 teaspoon of cumin.  This produced more of a stew, so I thinned the mixture with about 2 cups of chicken broth.

The finished product is delicious...I will serve it with sour cream or Greek yogurt and it will be a fantastic Monday night soup!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sweet Potato Baked Doughnuts

I saw this recipe in a Food and Wine magazine I was paging through while waiting to get my hair cut a couple months ago. I copied it but later found it online so I could link it to the title. The first time I made these I ended up being a bit short on time and didn't allow them to rise quite as long as I should have. I thought these would be a good thing to make on a lazy Sunday morning when I could let them rise as long as needed.

I did substitute pumpkin for the sweet potato by using on can of pumpkin. I did not add the rum or the vanilla bean but used 2 t vanilla extract as a substitute. Instead of rolling each one in butter and cinnamon and sugar we brushed the tops with butter and used a shaker with cinnamon and sugar.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Squash and Gorgonzola and Arugula Pizza

I was looking for some meal ideas a couple weeks ago and came across this one on the foodnetwork website (see link above). The funny thing about this is that I had tried a pizza with squash a few years ago but never recorded the recipe. I found this one...then got the current issue of Self magazine (to use up frequent flyer miles on some airline we rarely use) and found another recipe with squash on pizza.

On a recent Sunday I peeled, chopped, and roasted the squash and put the remaining pieces in the freezer. That means I can try the version from the magazine as well. It doesn't look too different just mixing the type of cheese and the type of greens. I think squash...already cooked...just may be one of my favorite freezer items.

So this has become the blog post of links...follow the magazine link to that recipe or the link from the title to the one more similar to the one I made.

I used cheddar cheese instead of mozzarella since I prefer using an open package rather than opening a new one. I used butternut squash and did not roast it with maple syrup but instead with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Rave reviews at this house from all, so I will make it again!
(above picture before it is baked)
(below picture hot out of the oven)

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Broccoli Ramen Slaw

This past summer, I made at least one batch of this per week...After searching for a recipe, I found this one, Broccoli and Ramen Noodle Salad.  I did make some changes...I use 1 package of Ramen, no peanuts and 1/4 c still turns out great, has less fat and less sugar.  As the school year started, I stopped making this, thinking that it wouldn't be eaten.  Both kids asked that I continue to have it around, Jack eating it as an after school snack, and Meghan having it as part of her lunch.  Easy to make, full of fiber and a great way to get the kids to eat veggies!

A note regarding the blog...Now that I am back to blogging, you might get two recipes in a day...Karen is pretty prolific and if I start tacking my posts at the end of her list, you won't see any of my creativity until 2012! More of a joke than reality, but I must say I am impressed with her sticktoitiveness!

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Friday, September 23, 2011

The Weekly Menu and What Really Happened

I make my plans. I shop for groceries. I think I'm ready to go....and then something changes. Here's the rest of the story on what happened after my 9/19 post. I followed my recipes as planned on Sunday and Monday but then had leftovers for Tuesday night's dinner. I made the bean soup planned for Tuesday on Wednesday and moved the chicken pitas to Thursday. On Thursday the CSA box arrived, so I had some additions to that meal as well.

The box was's that time of year. I debate using everything quickly versus stretching it out for the week. Typically I opt to mass reduce on the first day or two of the box. The potatoes hit the pan for some par-boiling and roasting; delicious with the pitas. I had fresh tomatoes (yellow and red) and sliced green pepper for the pita sandwiches as well.

I wasn't cooking on Friday, so I did need to plan ahead a bit. The arugula was the only thing that looked like it may not last into the next week, so I was thinking about a pasta or a pizza fairly soon with that. The edamame, onions, leeks, apples, and carrots will all wait.

We have not yet had the goat cheese panini sandwiches previously planned for Thursday. But, that's OK since the Breadsmith bread is in the freezer and the goat cheese will keep. I had gotten some ground turkey just in case I felt like making meatballs. That will keep in the freezer as well. And, as for my canned spaghetti sauce from Trader Joe's, I think that will keep for a couple years yet!

The picture is the CSA "haul" for the week. We have been members at rareearthfarm for maybe 13 years or so. It's funny though since I have emailed Farmer Steve a couple times and told him about our blog..but haven't heard from him. I guess he must be related to the Penzey spice people since I have told them about our blog as well. No response from either. I guess I'm just a bit more customer service focused than either Bill Penzey or Farmer Steve, since I would have sent an email back to the sender with a note thanking the people for using the product. No such luck from either of these people....but I still do the same CSA and use the same Penzey's spices, so I guess it probably doesn't matter to them. Just funny to me since both portray themselves as customer focused. Maybe the focus is just how to get more customers?

I guess that's my rant for the day. I just find it interesting. Even though healthcare has its problems, we still do care for the client. I recognize that nearly everyone has a story about some healthcare provider not being caring, but I do think most stories are about caring and concerned people. And people responding to customers. And I'm glad about that.

To the next week of meal I said...something with the arugula needs to happen very soon. I think some type of leek soup is in order also. I did freeze leeks last summer by cutting them into rings and placing them on a cookie sheet in the freezer. After frozen I placed them in a ziploc bag. I had thoughts of making leek chili but didn't do that over this last winter instead using the leeks in a burrito recipe. Maybe I'll make that chili this year (and blog about it). Eleanor has a birthday meal coming soon also; I'll have to check what she would like to have.

It really is a fun time of year to cook. It's cool enough for soups and stews but warm enough to plan grilled meals. There is an abundance of vegetables. Fall is a good time of year!
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Arugula, Chevre, and Raspberry Wraps

Hmmm...that lunch thing.

I do like having leftovers for my lunch, but Eleanor does need a lunch every day. I have a tough time being creative, especially since she isn't a sandwich fan. She will eat wraps though, so this idea came from some arugula that needed to be used. I made a couple for her thinking one could be a pre-swim team snack and one could be part of her lunch. I made one for myself....and it was good!
That's all:
goat cheese

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Peach and Raspberry Cobbler

Eleanor found the this recipe when paging through cookbooks on Sunday morning. It's in the Joy of Cooking All About Breakfast and Brunch book she bought as a gift for me. It was excellent timing since I had gone through things in the freezer that morning and found 1/2 bag of frozen raspberries.....and peaches were on sale at Sendik's.

This was a dessert on Sunday evening after our salmon, green beans, and potatoes and then worked as breakfast the next morning. That was a good thing since I slept in a bit on Monday morning...all I had to do was warm this for her.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In unbuttered pan place sliced peaches (recipe says 1 1/2+ pounds). Sprinkle with 2 c raspberries and 1/4 c sugar.
2. Whisk together thoroughly:
1 c flour
1 t baking soda
(recipe called for 1/4 t salt which I omitted)
3. In separate bowl beat until light and fluffy:
4 T butter, softened
1/3 c sugar
4. Beat in egg
5. Add 1/2 dry ingredients and beat until just incorporated and add 1/4 buttermilk (I used yogurt). Add the remaining dry ingredients and beat until batter is smooth.
6. Drop spoonfuls of batter on the fruit leaving a border on the edge of the pan to allow for expansion.
7. Bake until top golden brown...about 45 minutes.

It was part of a Sunday spent in the kitchen. I realized that the milk was stockpiling in the refrigerator, so I made rice pudding. Then I made cobbler. Then I made chocolate chip cookies for the spaghetti dinner on Monday evening. I roasted squash for a recipe (will blog about that in the future), made granola, and par-boiled potatoes for dinner. Every time I went in the family room the Green Bay Packers didn't do well, so I stayed in the kitchen to assist in the victory over Carolina!
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cranberry Bean Soup

When I woke this morning, it was cool and rainy and a Monday.  For those of you who have been following the blog for a while, you are aware that Monday in the fall/winter means soup in our house. This tradition started years ago to accommodate my daughter's swim schedule.  While her schedule has changed dramatically, I still tend to make soup on Monday.

I was feeling a bit under the weather this morning after a long weekend and not as much sleep as I would have liked.  It was homecoming weekend #2, last weekend was my son's school and this past weekend was my daughter's. It was also our annual trip to Octoberfest with Brian's college friends and we had to get Jack off to his Senior retreat early Sunday. So, I decided to take a favorite shortcut.

Last year I blogged about Frontier Soups. For those of you who are new to the blog, Frontier Soups has a large variety of soups that take 30 minutes to a couple hours to make.  The quick varieties are great and a family favorite is the Chicken Tortilla soup.  Today I decided to make a heartier variety, and I chose the Cranberry Bean Soup. The trick to these long cooking soups is to break it into sections.  I set the beans for the initial soak and then went to work. I got back around 10:30 and I cooked the beans for the 1 hour requirement.  I then went about the rest of my day, a little more work, a swim(I missed the AM practice this morning) and a trip to the grocery store.  When I returned, I finished the soup, all except the addition of the spinach which I did right before serving.

The day turned into a beautiful fall day with bright sunshine and 70 degrees, but it was still a Monday so soup and bread was the meal.

I had received a beautiful bunch of Kale in my CSA box last week and I had a load of tomatoes that needed to be used so I did alter the recipe slightly.  When I was sauteeing the onions, I did add some garlic and some chopped tomatoes(about 2 cups?).  I also substituted the fresh Kale for the frozen spinach.

I highly recommend these soups...while they may seem a bit pricey, they really turn into great soups with a homemade taste, unlike most other mixes I have tried. All I added was a bit of tomato, sausage, onion and kale and I have a huge pot of soup, two full meals for the family.

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Fresh Tomato Pie

Yum. Yum. Yum.
I was thinking about what to do with a few remaining tomatoes and had even looked up some tomato pie/tart recipes last weekend. I used most of the tomatoes for other things and moved on. But, at work on Friday my friend Cindy said her dad made tomato pie for us. Now, people often bring food to work but it is usually more sweet than savory dishes; and, while I do like both, I really really like savory things. I could smell this one down the hall and had to try her dad's version.

I did let her know that giving me a recipe gives me the freedom to blog about it, so I'm not surprising her with posting it here. I give credit to the person passing the recipe to me...but it is fair game once it's in my hands!

It was wonderful pie! Cindy brought the recipe since she probably had a feeling one or two of us would want the recipe:) I think everyone wanted it. I came home and made the pie that night with a few adaptations since I really didn't want to go to the store. Mostly I just substituted the kinds of cheese. I used Swiss instead of mozzarella since I had an opened package of Swiss and the fresh mozzarella was still sealed. I did not have Romano but had Parmesan and Asiago. I'm going out on a limb here...but I don't think it matters what cheeses are used. I had white cheddar instead of get the idea. It's a recipe that adapts.

Her dad used a frozen pie crust...which I must say tasted great. She said he picked his basil right before making the pie , but I had some in my refrigerator from the CSA box last week. I made my own crust...just 'cause. I used cheese I had in the refrigerator instead of the kinds he did. Paul raved, and I mean raved, about this.
Here's the version I had at work:
1. Frozen pie crust in pie plate. Prick with fork and brush with 1 egg white. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 min or until golden brown. Let cool completely.
2. Line sides and bottom with mozzarella cheese. Then add a layer of sliced tomatoes chopped onion (vidalia is his recommendation), and chopped basil. Add a layer of baby bella mushrooms (not done in the version I had at work or at home).
3. Lightly sprinkle olive oil over all. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
4. Top with colby, Romano, asiago and a little Parmesan
5. Bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes.

His recommendation is to use roma tomatoes....not as much seeds/juice. I used small regular tomatoes and it was fine. Cindy just said large tomatoes probably wouldn't work as well....too much skin (although you could peel them) and juice (although you could drain them).

It got cold here this week which is early for frost in southern Wisconsin. We didn't get frost...we are right along lake Michigan, but it's coming so these tomatoes have numbered days. This was a great way to enjoy them fresh from the garden.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Weekly planning...or putting it together

In reading my friend Erin's blog, organizednowplease, I'm recognizing that it may be a challenge to pull all the meals together every week. Erin is starting a system with rotating a few plans throughout the year. I'm a bit more haphazard than that just because I like trying new recipes. Certainly different things work for different people and for different times in our lives and even for different weeks/months. Today's blog will a week in preview and review at my house.

I like to have something substantial on Sunday evening....kind of a meat, potato, and veggie meal. Our weeks are a bit crazy, so if we can have something that requires time to be at home while it cooks...then it's a good bet for a Sunday meal. I like to fully use an ingredient, say cilantro, so I'm not wasting 1/2 bunch of something. And I like to rotate some vegetarian, chicken, beef, and pork meals. And I like to have a soup thing, a pizza thing, and a sandwich thing. And I like to have a Tex-Mex thing, and Asian thing, and an Italian thing. Sometimes I can get all of this in the same week....and sometimes not. There's always another week! And I like to use what is in season.

Planning does help. I try to minimize the grocery store trips to save money and time. It's really hard to get to the store during the week. And some nights dinner seems overwhelming if I have to shop as well. As I have said before, a well stocked pantry and freezer can save the day. I can't have it too well-stocked though because I do need to be able to see things. There are a few things I need this week....that's why my grocery list is in the picture (items organized by the store aisles...a bit obsessive, I know). My new favorite quick beverage for variety at work...Crystal Light with stevia. I'm liking that for a mid-afternoon sweet craving:)

I'm also making a few batches of pumpkin muffins for Eleanor's birthday treat this week as well as a couple batches of chocolate chip cookies for the two pre-meet spaghetti dinners she'll be attending. I'm hoping to make a batch of granola too. I have rice pudding in the oven to use up some of the milk...that's gotten away from me this week, so I need to reduce the supplies of it.

OK. It sounds way harder than it is!

For the week I'm talking about we are planning:
Sunday: salmon and potatoes on the grill with sandwich slaw and green beans
Monday: squash and arugula pizza (I have time to let the dough rise on Mondays)
Tuesday: bean soup in the crockpot (ready when we get home from the swim meet late)
Wed: chicken pitas (quickly comes together after meet the teacher night). And I can get the chicken ready when I'm off on Tuesday
Thurs: veggie panini sandwiches (it's CSA box night, so I may have things to use right away)
Friday: both Paul and Eleanor at pasta dinners for their athletic endeavors the following day

That's a pork thing(bean soup), one chicken, one seafood, and two veggie dishes, if you're counting. It's opening a jar of roasted peppers for the pita and the panini sandwiches. I will have celery left from the bean soup, so I will plan something with the remaining bunch next week. It's a nice variety of flavors and should provide some leftovers for lunches. If the veggie panini doesn't happen until Sat..that's OK too. I try to use more perishable things early in the week. My plan is for these to have some type of green from the CSA box (we'll see what we get), goat cheese, roasted red peppers from a jar, and something else from the box. Stir fry is always a good bet on the weekend following the CSA box. I do like to have a meal idea in reserve....for this week it's a can of marinara sauce in the pantry and a pound of ground turkey in the freezer. I can always pull a quick spaghetti dinner together if needed.

This menu should provide quantities for lunches too. Sometimes I don't stick to my planned menu each night...but it's a start. Hmm....I am buying a loaf of Breadsmith bread for panini sandwiches. I often will make my own bread but thought a loaf of this in the freezer for sandwiches may be a good idea.

Athletic endeavors....Eleanor is swimming in an invite at a nearby high school. Paul is doing the Potosi Brewery Bicycle Tour. He's meeting up with some friends from Green Bay and they are planning on riding the metric century....that's 61 miles or thereabout through hilly Mississippi terrain. Yea, good for them. I opted to stay home to go to the swim meet. He's wanted to do this ride for a couple years after hearing about it from my uncle, the mayor of this town. My uncle really is the mayor and has really contributed to making this a destination along the river. The ride is just one more reason to check out this town if you're in southwestern Wisconsin.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Curry Chicken Panini

This is one of those things I'm wondering why I didn't think of it earlier. I read a recipe in a magazine at the orthodontist that was somewhat similar to this. I can't remember what magazine...or exactly the ingredients...but it had some sandwich ideas, and I realized I had the ingredients at home.

On a day off I sprinkled chicken breasts with curry powder and baked them until done. I held them in the refrigerator until I needed a quick meal this week.

The quick meal was needed on a night I went to the Y for body pump and Eleanor was at high school practice. We were all hungry for dinner and this sandwich (and the fresh green beans) came together quickly.

Cream cheese mixed with mango chutney spread on the bread with chopped chicken and sliced apples. I bet cheddar cheese instead of the cream cheese would work well also.

That's it. A very simple dinner but very good.

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Saturday, September 17, 2011


If you're a regular follower of Linkthis blog...or if you know our family...then you know that it's all about the hot breakfast at this house. We started making these when Eleanor was really little after getting the book, Pretend Soup by Mollie Katzen. It's a fun cookbook for kids with illustrations as well as the written recipes.

It's fun to see how cooking has changed since my first cookbook, Buffy's Cookbook. I got this book for Christmas in 1971 from my brothers and do remember making things from this book. I wrote my comments in the book on the recipes I tried...just like my mom did in her cookbooks. This was long before Buffy was a vampire slayer and the name was associated with the television show "Family Affair". A few years ago I was talking about this show with some friends and the question was asked if Uncle Bill and Mr French were a couple. Hmmm.....after asking my 1970s trivia cousin this question he assured me that my memory of this show was safe since these men retired to their own quarters every night. Not that it matters...or as they say on Seinfeld...not that there's anything wrong with that.

Buffy's recipes include a no-cook recipe for marshmallow kebabs. Just so you know I made that on 1/27/72. They were made on a plastic straw (no sharp skewers here) and had pineapple and cherries. Since this was in the early 70s I assume the fruit was canned. For comparison of cooking trends changing there is a Bright Pink Fruit Dip recipe in Pretend Soup that calls for frozen raspberries to be added to the cream cheese for the dip.

Ah...back to the popovers:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Brush muffin tins with melted butter (usually makes 12 popovers)
Break 2 eggs in a mixing bowl. Add 1 c milk and mix well. Add 1 c flour (original recipe says to add 1/4 t salt...I omit this). Whisk until reasonably blended.
Using 1/4 c measure pour into each muffin cup.
Bake 30 minutes without opening the oven.
Remove and prick with a fork to let out the steam.

See the very cool illustrations to help kids make these recipes! There was a restaurant in Minneapolis that served popovers in a basket instead of bread. Very Cool..but I think it's gone now. Guess we'll just have to make them at home either for breakfast or in a basket with dinner...either way...YUM!

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Pasta with Garlic and Parsley

Pasta. Noodles. Macaroni. Carbs. It's what we live on in this house. Guess that's part of having a swimmer....Eleanor loves carbs and craves them before a meet. This high school swimming thing sure means a lot of meets..which means a lot of carbs. In her school the team gets together as a group and eats their pasta and bread and desserts the night before the meet. During club season I make the carbs. This meal was a bit of both...I made it but it was before a high school meet since other activities prohibited Eleanor going to the team dinner that night.

I had fresh garlic and fresh parsley from my CSA box, so it seemed like a good time to make this recipe. I made the oil sauce early in the day and let it sit so the flavors could blend (and for quicker assembly in the evening). It's one of those recipes I like since it takes a very few ingredients and puts them together in a delicious way. Typically I don't use this much oil and butter in a recipe, but it did work for this one. I just couldn't use quite as much as called for, so I used about 1/3 c olive oil and 3 T butter. I know that isn't cutting out much, but I feel a bit more righteous having done that. Just let me pretend that it mattered. Along the same lines, I decreased the salt to 1 t from 1 1/2. Let me pretend that made it healthy too.

I had some tomatoes from our garden, so sliced tomatoes along side this pasta...yum. No Atkins diet in this house!

This recipe was a three "thumbs up", so I will make this again.

And...YES...I'm so glad Elizabeth's back!!
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lets try this again

 Well, I just read Karen's post from Monday of this week...I have been very remiss in my blogging duties and I promise to get back to it. As Karen adjusts to the first year of high school, I am preparing to send my oldest to college next year...As I reflect on this I am amazed how we  are prepared over time for these transitions. The last 12 months have been filled with better decision making but also a distancing.  I know little of what is happening at school, he keeps his work schedule and we no longer have to remind him of outside commitments.  My daughter will be driving in about a month, so my life is definitely changing during these high school years.

The last 6-8 months have been challenging for me, and have contributed to my lack of blogging. In a nutshell, I have been struggling with a chronic health issue. The result has been quite a bit of exhaustion and thus, no real motivation to get creative in the kitchen! While the challenges continue, now that the kids are back at school I will hopefully have a bit more time and motivation.

Fall was in the air yesterday and I made my first soup of the season...I will create an actual blog post about this particular recipe, but more importantly I made my first bread batch in about 6 months! My kids went nuts! I made the Rosemary Flax Baguette recipe from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which turned out great.  The kids asked why it had been so long since I had made bread. I told them that I was waiting to see how long it would take before they asked me to make it.  Jack's response is classic.  He told me he didn't ask because he was afraid I would tell him to make it himself.  For a kid who loves to experiment in the kitchen and cook, it is amazing how much he detests mixing a batch of bread dough and don't even get me started about his klutziness when making the loaves! Anyway, it was great to have the simple meal of soup and bread...while I am sad to see summer go, I am looking forward to some winter cooking.

Hopefully this post is the beginning of a long blogging stretch...

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Sandwich Focaccia

Ah...the weekend. Time to re-group and get ready for the next week. This one seemed to be full of high school fun for Eleanor and a good time for me to get a few things done at home. In addition to a couple nice workouts, a swim meet, dinner out with Paul, loads of laundry, and a list for the week, I was able to make this recipe over the weekend. Specifically, I made it on Sunday afternoon while Eleanor was participating in homecoming activities. I was glad to be home to help shuttle some student council items to the high school for the kids...and that was easy enough to do while the washing machine and the dishwasher were running and I was checking the results from the Wisconsin Ironman. We usually get to Madison to watch part of this incredible feat of athleticism, but homecoming activities interfered with my fun:) It was a beautiful weekend with the feel of fall in the air.

Back to the recipe. I'm not sure where I got this or even if it's a few recipes combined:
2 1/4 t yeast
Stir into 2 c warm water.
1 t sugar
3 T olive oil
1 t salt
1 c whole wheat flour
about 5-6 c white flour..until it's a nice elastic dough. Let rise 1 1/4 hour. Roll it flat into a pizza pan and let rise 1 hour or so. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. dimple dough with fingers and brush with olive oil. Optional (this was done for the picture): sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and herbs (Penzey's Greek seasoning).
Bake 30 minutes or so.

On Monday morning I went for a run and came home to this:

What is it?
It's my beautiful loaf on the floor with dog bite marks around the edges. I'm not sure what this means that she didn't eat it all. Is it good? Bad? I came home too soon and should have made my run longer?
The strange thing is that she is not usually a counter-cruiser dog. We can leave food on the counter without her eating it. We have left her in the car with food...and she hasn't touched it. She had an episode like this a couple years ago at my parent's house....zucchini nut bread at that time. Maybe she doesn't get enough carbs in her dog food?
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bool Kogi

As I was coming out of my recipe funk I stopped at Trader Joe's to grab a few staples. I love the soy chorizo, chicken, apple sausage, and salsa and needed to stock a few of those items to assist with quick meals.

I found this, bool kogi, in the refrigerated section and thought it would be a good thing to throw in the freezer. I had a head of cabbage from the CSA box, so I was thinking an Asisan-y kind of taco may be a good dinner some night. Typically I would buy the ingredients and marinate this myself, but I do like to have a couple nearly ready made items for the nights they are needed. I have thoughts of being so organized that I don't need things like this but I have found no matter how well I plan, a well stocked pantry and freezer can save the day.

I have already blogged about eating Korean barbeque in LA, so I won't repeat that story, although that is what I think about when making and eating Korean food. My sister's med school roommate, who I saw in Chicago recently makes Korean barbecue...and I had meant to ask her how she makes it. Well, since I forgot, I'm just going to go with this for now.

We're pretty light on the beef meals in this house having it very occasionally (that's a bit more than rarely but still not often), so a couple beef recipes may take me a long time to use. I like to eat a bit of everything though being a person who believes the moderation way of living.

I wasn't sure when the package was opened if this was going to be a roast type thing or not. It was in thin strips that grilled very quickly. Paul must have mentioned how good this meal was three or four times. I think that has to do with the meal....or it may be his high level of physical activity that day.....I'm not sure. I think I will grab another one of these packages when I am at Trader Joe's next time and see what we think when we have this again.
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Roasted Chorizo and Vegetables and Fruit

My first thought/plan was turn these into kebabs...but that just wasn't going to work due to grilling time. So I decided to oven roast these vegetables along with some chorizo (the already cooked kind) and have this ready when coming home from a swim meet. I think this means that the grilling days are coming to an end:(
I had been thinking about the fig and chorizo kebabs that I substituted apricots (see 7/17post). When I saw fresh figs coming into season I decided that I wanted to make this as the original recipe recommended. After looking up the recipe I realized that the original called for dates...not figs. I guess I'll still have to try it since now I changed the method of cooking too! I had them all skewered and ready to go but took the skewers out and threw all the items in a pan to match the day a bit better.

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Monday, September 12, 2011


It's feeling a bit lonely here. I'm missing Elizabeth's posts and her energy even though I am connecting with her on Friday afternoons this fall. Her daughter has a violin lesson not too far from my house, so we're able to catch up a bit then. I'm hoping that the blog is OK without her as I wait for her to rejoin me but it's hard to know as I post into cyberspace. I have noticed that the readers of this blog must be like me....a bit introverted. There aren't too many comments made on the blog, but I have heard things in person. And that's OK...maybe I'm just typing as a voice for those of us who register as a strong "I" on the Myers-Briggs scale. Did I say strong "I"? 'Cause that's where I fall, so I'm thinking maybe you do too. We did have a comment the other day about a Nigerian prince needing help, so maybe I should be thankful we aren't getting too many comments.

Anyway, we're getting into the rhythm of fall at this house. For sure high school is an adjustment for the parents as well as the child. But, watching how happy Eleanor is makes it a bit easier as the parent. I"m getting some renewed meal planning energy as the seasons change too. I would love it if these days of clear blue sky and cool evenings/mornings with comfortable days would go on and on and on. But, in Wisconsin, we do know winter is coming. Hoping the Packers have a season like last year...maybe exactly like last year! We can hope. And, if the winter Olympics were on this year it would be even better. And skiing is fun.

The change of seasons makes me pull out some cookbooks and think about chili and soup. These days of fresh tomatoes and lettuce aren't going to last forever.

I hope you have found a recipe or two to make on here. And you don't even need to tell me all about it 'cause I understand that too.
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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Corn and Tomato Salad

There was a lot of corn in the CSA box this week. Paul and I had some for dinner on Friday night but it wasn't that great, so I had to decide what to do with the rest. I didn't want to waste it, so I boiled it, cut it off the cobs, and threw it in a bowl with some of the cherry tomatoes (halved and quartered). I put some lime juice on this mixture and some Penzey's Arizona Dreaming seasoning...a sprinkle of feta...a dash of salt (since this spice mixture is salt free) and had a great salad served with pita chips.

It's one of those inventions I feel pretty good about since I took some things I had and made them into a new thing that's really good!
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Friday, September 9, 2011

General Tso's Chicken

Hmmm...this one comes to me from one of my favorite food blogs (besides this one, of course). Follow the link from the title and arrive at that blog which came from Food and Wine magazine. The bitten word guys did a comparison of take-out and home-made on Genearl Tso's chicken and Pad Thai. I strongly disagree with some of their comments about the work involved in Pad Thai, so if interested in making Pad Thai at home, you'll have to check out my post on it since that is one of our quick "go to" recipes. Anyway, I thought this recipe sounded interesting and had it on my list of things to try.
OK....what I liked about making it wasn't really sweet...more of just a lighter sweetness. It wasn't greasy either which could be since I used a small layer of oil in the pan to stir fry the chicken. It seemed like quite a bit of work to throw together after getting home at 6:00pm, so next time I will make the sauce ahead of time. If it came together a bit quicker I would be a bit happier with it.
I was really hungry by the time I got this finished the other night for dinner, so I maybe was just a bit jaded on my thoughts on it; however, after having it for lunch the next day I'm more positive about it. It's the tiny things making the sauce ahead of time...that will make a difference for me.
The smell was strong when I re-heated it for lunch, but a number of coworkers commented on how good it smelled. Eleanor had been hungry for the pizza I told her I was going to make that night, so she wasn't a huge fan...but that may not be the recipe's fault.

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Monster Cookies

I admit...these are less dramatic when made in the smaller quantity in this link. The monster cookies when I was little called for a dozen eggs, an entire container of oatmeal, etc. These, on the other hand, are more manageable. I made them even easier by making bar type cookies with the dough. I just didn't want to spend my day off pulling pans in and out of the oven. I pressed the dough into the pan to bake....voila....ready for Friday's spaghetti dinner!
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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Meal Planning

I like to think I'm organized. I had a bit of a crisis about that the other morning but it seems like just a few hours later I can have a different view! I use the folder system for papers/bills and get the laundry done before we have worn our last pair of socks or underwear. But, I still struggle with keeping everything together. Some things don't get done...or done as soon as or as often as I would like. But, generally I'm able to find something when asked...and I do work out often...and we do eat good meals...and the papers are together for taxes and our house doesn't have a thick layer of dust on most surfaces.

A friend of mine has a blog about her quest to get organized.....In Pursuit of an Organized Life. She's in a different life stage now than I an with little daughters...and she really is my sister's friend having grown up across the street from my sister when I was no longer living there. But she's still MY friend too and has become a nice grown up!

Often we think other people have it easier. Ah...her kids are little. How nice that was not to have hours of homework being juggled with music practice and swim practice. But all stages are both fun/rewarding and challenging. Since I have one child and work part time I have had people think that makes things easy. And, I admit, it does, in some ways. But there's a flip side to everything. Working part time makes me think I can do it all, so sometimes I get a bit overloaded as well. Whatever stage we're in, it seems like we can improve things with a bit of organization.

In her blog, mentioned above, she talks about rotating the same meals throughout the year. My friend in a past life did just that. She had the same grocery list that she laminated and used every month of the year. She also lived in a St. Paul suburb, so maybe it's in the water there! Anyway, she would rotate through the same menu but added one cooking day every month to put things in the freezer. On the cooking day she would usually make large batches of just a couple chili or be able to pull out. During the month she would often run to the grocery store in between her major run to grab some perishables, but she really kept to her routine month after month for the years I worked with her.

I do plan ahead with making meals, as I have mentioned in previous posts. I do this different ways...sometimes grabbing some cards or thumbing through cookbooks until I find 20-30 recipes and have those all on deck. Then I go through and choose 4 for each week or so. The problem for me is that having any more than 4 meals planned doesn't allow me enough flexibility for grabbing something that looks good in the store, so i try to keep it to 4 or so. The other end of balancing this is that I don't want to buy too much and have more than we can eat/freeze. It's a juggle, for sure.

This week I made the kohlrabi bake from yesterday's post. I'm hoping to make some Kung Pao chicken and Thai tofu pizza (recipes to follow). I have on reserve some Trader Joe's items for the end of the week, since I'm never sure of what will happen then. I don't want to ruin the element of blogging surprise!

In the pantry I like to have canned olives, roasted red peppers, broth, canned and dried beans, and pasta. In the refrigerator/freezer I keep some Trader Joe's chicken apple sausage, peas, cheddar and Parmesan cheese (feta sometimes too), chicken breasts, and soy chorizo. We really do try to eat very little processed items, but I do buy a few things for those nights when needed; they have saved the evening many times. The pictured items are two things I have in my freezer that are non-local processed items that will save the day at some point in the near future. I have fresher items stocked to save the day as well...but just wanted to show that it doesn't have to be all or nothing when it comes to processed items!

We don't use many mixes preferring to make things from scratch. I just don't think it's that hard to put the dry ingredients together for cakes or pancakes or brownies. That being said, I did buy some ready to pour in the pan brownies from Trader Joe's since those desserts for high school swimming spaghetti dinners may not get made ahead of time every time.

The laundry is done for the moment..the bathrooms are clean and the floors are scrubbed, the meals are either fully or partially prepared (sometimes I just chop the ingredients and stick in containers in the fridge for easy assembly), the dessert for the spaghetti dinner is made, I have had some awesome workouts the last couple days so if that doesn't happen in the next day I won't be too crabby, the dog has had some good walks, the dog poops are picked up, fruit is chopped and the rinds discarded, the garbage is out, the groupons are printed...I'm ready!

Oh yea...and the blog post is ready to go!
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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Kohlrabi and Ham Bake

I'm trying to get organized....I'm trying to get organized...I'm trying to get organized. The school year started last week on Thursday and is now in full swing. I was productive yesterday after my run...getting a few last things for Eleanor's school year. Then, I was a bit lazy..maybe we can just say that I used most of the afternoon to recharge?

Anyway, it's the Tuesday after Labor Day and it feels like getting organized for the school year...well, maybe just getting ready for the week... is in order.

I started the day (after making breakfast and lunch) by driving Eleanor to school with her large load....gym clothes, swim meet gear, violin, and regular backpack. On my way home I stopped at Sendik's and got the groceries on my list. Whew...only 7:40 am and done with all that! My work week starts on Wed, so I like to have things in order before getting to that part of the week. That means I'm cleaning a bit today and getting laundry done as well as having some meals ready/close to ready. Produce comes Thursday and I'm not even done with the produce from last time..yikes!

I'm chopping watermelon and canteloupe today in my getting ready mode. The big perk on that is that tomorrow is garbage day so I can get the rinds out of here....we have hungry raccoons in my neighborhood so getting this out and getting it taken away is a plus. I made granola last night and am mixing up some artisan bread dough today. Freshmen are assigned desserts for the swimming spaghetti dinners, so I will make cookies this afternoon to have them ready to go.'s one of those take it or leave it vegetables for me, and it's doubtful I would go out of my way to have it. Before finding this recipe I chopped it and served it in sticks with a bit of salt for dipping. I do remember my mom boiling it when I was a kid. Both of those serving ideas are OK...but I wanted a recipe that made me excited to get kohlrabi in the box. I think I have discovered the secret.....just add butter, ham, cream, and eggs!'s delicious!!!

And now...back to cleaning and laundry!

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

And so it begins....

School...lunches....structure! It started for us on Thursday as I woke up and tried to remember all the morning steps. Eleanor made the making lunch portion of my day a bit easier by finding this inspiration in Teen Vogue or Seventeen or something like that. It's an easy idea.... I just needed an idea to start me thinking.

A tortilla with some cream cheese and crispy vegetables from the CSA box (carrots and cucumbers) was part of the lunch last Thursday and last Friday. I think I have a winner I can expand on for the school year!

I have been a bit behind on posting this week but do have some things to write and download pictures, so there are some new posts coming in the next few days.

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