Monday, December 31, 2012

Chocolate Brownie Pudding Cake

This is a recipe I have had for a long time.  Years and years since I got it from my aunt.  I do remember making it, but I think it was a long time must have been long ago since Eleanor did not remember ever having this.  A few weeks ago Eleanor said that she was in the mood for something for dessert, I thought of this.  Luisa and I made it as a surprise for her and it was done just about the time she was completing her homework.

This was from a couple weeks ago, since we are a well-stocked chocolate house after St. Nick's arrival last week.  He brought us chocolate....and Luisa's family sent us an Advent calendar for two of Lindt chocolate and each girl received a Ritter Advent calendar.

And, let's just talk about St.'s a German tradition, for sure, that has been embraced by Milwaukeeans as well as Green Bay-ites.  Growing up St. Nick did not stop at my house; however, many of my friends had him stop with just a bit of a Christmas preview.  Outside of Germany, Wisconsin just may be his only stop that night.  I think Luisa was a bit surprised that he makes a stop in Wisconsin that night as well...but she placed her boot outside as well and it had chocolate in the morning!

This dessert is not something that photographs well....but it fulfilled the chocolate craving and was easy to make and only dirtied one pan.  That made for an all around fun weeknight dessert.

Place dry ingredients in a 9" baking dish:
3/4 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/3 c cocoa

In the baking dish put all the above ingredients.  This really goes into the baking dish:)

Combine ingredients listed below in a bowl:
1/2 c milk
3 T melted butter
1 t vanilla
Pour this into the baking pan and stir until just combined.

Combine 1/2 c brown sugar and 1/4 c cocoa and mix in 1 3/4 c water.  Pour over the top of the mixture in the baking pan but DO NOT STIR.
Bake 350 degrees for 35-38 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes or so and serve.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


OK....just to start right from the beginning of this post, this is not something that can be whipped up with ingredients on hand.  Nor can it be made for a really quick and effortless dinner.  But, with a bit of preparation ahead of time it would come together quickly.  And, it was delicious so it was worth the work (even with my shortcut).  So, I would make this again.  I made it on a Friday night after work....starting around 6:15 and we were eating by 7:30; however, that was with a bit of assistance.

This was in the January issue of Bon Appetit; however, I wasn't able to find it online to link to this post; possibly that will be out in the future.  Then you can see some really nice pictures.  I just didn't have time to take pictures along the way since we were all hungry (some of us had done a double swim practice).

Here's my shortcut.  I had the meat, bulgogi, in my freezer from Trader Joe's.  It was a great use for it....if there's a TJs near you I would recommend doing that as well.  There was an unusual ingredient found in a number of the vegetables (although I will explain what I did a bit later), guchujang.  Bon Appetit recommends a "recipe" to make a substitute for that using miso and rooster sauce, so that was my plan until Paul told me he had gotten some guchujang sauce at an Asian market in the Twin Cities last year.  Really!  That worked out well.  Like I said, this isn't likely something to just make with ingredients you have on hand.  It falls into the category of adventurous cooking.  Follow the link above for a recipe for bulgogi, if you're even more adventurous than I am.  I can't speak to anything about the recipe linked other than it looks like mine did.

Having never had bilimbap in my life, I had no idea what it was and the headline in the magazine to "make it at home" was lost on me.  But, now I have done it!  Some of the portions of items in the original recipe were a bit too large so I used 1/2 for most of them.  My approximate portions are listed below. I also kept the chili sauce out of the vegetables, being the crowd pleaser that I am:)

  • So, saute the meat.
  • In my rice cooker I made the rice.  I got this going right away since it needs to be crisped in the skillet before eating.  It took about 15 minutes for the already cooked rice to crisp in the skillet.
  • I didn't make the eggs until the end.  I used the method in Bon Appetit of baking them in a 350 degree oven for 4-5 minutes.  
  • Sesame Carrots:  Shred carrots(about 4 carrots) in a food processor and saute in sesame oil (1 tsp) for a couple minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Sesame Bean Sprouts: Cooked 1 c bean sprouts in boiling water and drained.  Tossed with 1/2 tsp sesame oil and sesame seeds. 
  • Garlicky Spinach: Cook 10 oz fresh spinach in boiling water for a couple minutes.  Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water.  Drain.  Heat 1 tsp sesame oil in skillet.  Add 1 clove minced garlic.  Add spinach, 1 T soy sauce, 1/2 t rice vinegar, dash each of salt and pepper. 
  • Soy glazed mushrooms:  Bring 1 oz shitake mushrooms, 1/4 soy sauce, 1/2 T brown sugar, and 1/2 c water to a boil.  Cover pan and simmer for 15 minutes.  Let mushrooms cool slightly and thinly slice.  Transfer to a small bowl and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  • Sauteed zucchini: Cut 1 medium zucchini into matchsticks.  Saute in 1 tsp-2tsp sesame oil until tender. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  • Scallion slaw: Cut 2 bunches scallions into 3" lengths and slice lengthwise.  Put in ice water to crisp.  Drain and add 1 T rice vinegar, 1 T sesame oil.
  • Gochujang Date Sauce:  Place 5 pitted dates in a bowl and cover with water until softened (10 minutes or so).  Drain and put in food processor with 3/4 c guchujang sauce and 2 T sesame oil.
  • Wakame:  I did not make this recommended condiment.  But, I did make all the others.
So, if you don't happen to have gochujang sauce in your pantry, the article recommends 3/4 c yellow miso with 1/4 c Sriracha sauce.  Even if you don't have those items in your larder, at least they may be easier to get than the Korean hot pepper paste I happened to have!

So, I went all out and made this since it was our 21st wedding anniversary and it was fun to have something a bit special; however, I think that next time I will use the TJs beef, make the rice, fried eggs, whatever vegetables I have on hand, and the date sauce.  Oh, and maybe the mushrooms.  This would be a great way to use up vegetable odds and ends. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Steak and Bleu Cheese Roll-ups

Bleu Cheese Steak Roll Ups 

I'm not a huge red meat kind of gal; however, I do think there is value in having this bit of protein on occasion, so this recipe sounded good.  It just sounded like something a bit outside of what I usually make....and it's made in the crockpot, so it seemed like a good plan for it to be on the menu at our house!

Let me just say, this was about the most un-photogenic thing I have ever made; however, it tasted great.  I used about 3/4 pound flat steak and pounded it flat.  It was in the crockpot for an entire long time day....I'm talking probably 12 hours, so it just fell apart.  It tasted good though!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sweet Corn Pancakes

Sometimes the picture just doesn't do justice to the food.'s an example of that since these were absolutely delicious.  I'm a huge fan of blueberry cornmeal pancakes, getting those nearly every time I have had breakfast at Beans and Barley on Milwaukee's east side.  This reminds me of those, although maybe even a tiny bit better.  I have made these twice adjusting the sugar a bit on the 2nd time.  I was a bit hesitant to decrease the sugar too much on my first round since Nicole of mentioned she had decreased the sugar in her version.  We found that the blueberry compote was too sweet for our tastes, so day two it was even better.  
Sweet Corn Pancakes:
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 egg
1  cup non fat yogurt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white wheat flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp cornstarch

1/2 c skim milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
Blueberry Balsamic Sauce:
In a small saucepan, heat the blueberries, water and sugar until boiling. Boil gently over low heat for 5-7 minutes. Mix the balsamic and cornstarch until the cornstarch dissolves and add it to the pan.   Simmer until thick, with a syrupy consistency, about 4-5 additional minutes.
In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add in the corn kernels and saute until just starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Toss in a pinch of salt, stir and remove to a bowl to cool, reserving pan.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg until lightly beaten. Whisk in the buttermilk,milk,  vanilla, sugar, and corn. In a separate, smaller bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir the dry into the wet ingredients just until combined.
Heat the skillet that was used to cook the corn over medium heat. Ladle 1/4 cup batter at a time onto the pan, leaving about 2 inches in-between each pancake. Cook on one side until small bubbles start to form on the top of the pancakes and the sides are just set and then flip and cook for another minute. Repeat with remaining batter.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Crockpot Yogurt

I have experienced success with making yogurt on the stovetop; however, I have been intrigued with the idea of making it in the crockpot.  It just seems like a good idea to make it based on time instead of stirring it and checking the temperature.  That's not really much work; but I like the idea of streamlining the work time a bit more.  

This method worked great for me, and I don't have a fancy crockpot.  In fact, the crock has a chip of ceramic missing from the rim and it is basic.  We're talking low and high heat and that's it.  I placed 1/2 gallon of skim milk in the crockpot and turned it on low for 2 1/2 hours.  I did this on a Sunday morning while I headed to the Y and by the time I came back it was ready for the next stage.  Scoop out 2 cups of milk and mix with a container of plain yogurt; then pour that back into the crock and stir well.  Many instructions recommend swaddling the crockpot in towels and letting it sit; however, I just put the covered crock in the oven overnight.  It's runny and requires draining at this point but nothing that a dishtowel in a strainer can't take care of:)

This really worked!  I like having both methods; however, I think I'm going to go with this crockpot method again and again.  No thermometer needed.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hot Vegetable Sandwiches

This idea comes from the Ovens of Brittany Cookbook, one I have raved about in the past on the blog.  It was a restaurant in Madison during my Badger days and was THE place to have your parents take you to eat on a visit to campus.  Sad that it isn't there any more since it was ahead of its time with the pure ingredients and local food bend.  I have the well worn cookbook that my mom had given me years and years ago.

Dill Mustard Sauce:
Mix to taste a bit of mayonnaise, dijon mustard, dill and lemon juice and slather it on the bread.

Saute broccoli and mushrooms and onions.

Place a slice of cheese on top of the vegetable mixture on the bread.

Sandwich night is still going strong at this house, so it's nice to have another one to add to the sandwich recipe catalogue:)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Spinach Prosciutto and Mozzarella Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
This was an idea I found and thought it would make a good Sunday evening dinner, with a few modifications, of course.  The idea of stuffed pork tenderloin just sounded so good after a weekend of eating things on the run during a swim meet.  This came together quickly, so I didn't have to spend hours making dinner after being on my feet all day.  I used a recipe from for inspiration; however, I think I may deviate a bit more the next time and use this idea to be a bit more creative about stuffing a pork tenderloin.  This recipe called for prosciutto, which was a lost flavor in this so I wouldn't use that for stuffing next time.  Also, I did not use sun dried tomatoes due to Eleanor's tomato issue.  I guess I could have used tomatoes in part of it, but that seemed like too much work at the time I was making this.  I like how festive the original is with the red and the green...but festive wasn't my goal this time. 

I wasn't sure just one would be enough now that there are four of us, but it was....even ended up with a couple pieces for lunch the next day.

I flattened the pork tenderolin by pounding and pounding it flat.  Awesome way to get my anger issues taken care of in a creative way:)

I spread mustard on the inside, then placed some mozzarella and spinach and rolled it together and tied it with twine.  I baked it at 425 degrees for 35 minutes or so using a meat probe and checking that it was done. 

Busy busy week now...but aren't they all?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Spice Cookies

Hmmm...that photo app needs a bit of work as far as rotating the picture.  I guess I will need to work on that a bit.  I had hoped to make these for a swim meet the other weekend; however, I coordinated volunteers for part of the meet, made a salad, and made puppy chow.  That seemed to be where my capabilities ended....and I knew that there were enough cookies in the contest already.  I did have the dough just lurking in the refrigerator though, so I rolled these out and baked them.  I was feeling especially proud of my artistic photo and the fact that I uploaded it from my phone.  Now I just have to learn to use the rotation app.
Biscoff Cookie Recipe is linked from here; however, I didn't really think these tasted like Biscoff, but I thought they were good spice cookies.  I did not make the frosting....that seemed like overload to me.

I'm not much of a Christmas cookie baker since I end up eating them.  I usually make a thing or two....and end it right there.  I should probably spend my time figuring out how to rotate pictures....just may be time better spent.

I also learned how to snapchat today, so I'm feeling a bit fiesty and techy.  Not bad for a rainy weekend day.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Crockpot Tacos

How 'bout that picture off my cell phone?  Just trying a few things off my phone and trying to be a bit wiser about the apps.  I'm liking the picture....almost as much as I liked these tacos.  I found the recipe while exploring the skinnytaste blog and these caught my eye.  Ah.....a recipe with tomatoes sounded like the perfect thing to make while Eleanor was swimming at the meet in Oklahoma City.  

After raving about these, Paul admitted that he was s bit skeptical when I mentioned these earlier in the day; however, the three of us in Wisconsin liked these.  They couldn't be easier.  Really. 

Put the following in the slow cooker and stir a bit:
15 oz can black beans, drained
1 chicken breast
10 oz can Rotel
1 1/2 t chili powder
1 t ground cumin
1 t oregano

I put this in the crockpot on low for about 4-5 hours; shredded the chicken and put it back in the crockpot for another hour or so.  That's how it fit into my day.  It was a bit runny but we just drained it from the spoon a bit before stuffing the taco shells. 

2 c shredded red cabbage (I used pre-packaged Dole brand)
1/4 c cilantro
2 t rice vinegar
Stir and let sit about 15 minutes.

Served on crunchy taco shells. with the filling from the crockpot, a bit of cheddar cheese (if desired), some of the cabbage and some salsa.

Yum!  I would make these again, for sure.  Really easy and really good. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Buffalo Turkey Lasagna

If it's Buffalo chicken-like, it must be from  I think that's how it goes.  As you know, I enjoy the flavors but not the mess, so this recipe caught my eye.  It's tomato-y, so I don't know that Eleanor would be a fan; that's why I decided to make this while she was traveling for a swim meet.  I still have a bit of leftover turkey in the freezer from Thanksgiving; and, while I love smoked turkey, it's a bit limiting in how it can be used in recipes after the main meal.  For example, a turkey carcass from a smoked turkey is NOT a good soup choice.  And I speak from experience.

I had some leftover marinara sauce from the high school spaghetti dinner just lurking in my freezer as well.  I decided I needed to thaw both of these items and put them together into a tasty new dish.  There has been quite a bit of chaos and mess in my house recently...just too many weekends jam packed with events.  Trying to pick up the house on a weeknight isn't realistic for me.  Just making dinner, doing a small amount of job work on the computer, perhaps throwing in a load of laundry...that's about all I can manage.  Anyway, I was feeling the need to tidy things up a bit, so I thought cleaning out the freezer would be a manageable task that would accomplish getting dinner on the table as well.

This coming weekend for me promises to leave a few moments of de-trashing the house time.  As I look around I realize it's all about entropy....heading to maximum disorder.  I do know that it only takes a few minutes (like 30-60) to get it to a place that I can feel comfortable.  I just need to have that time to get it under control.  As my former co-worker would say, "an option to cleaning the house is to lower your standard".  This has worked for me for quite awhile, but eventually I don't feel my standard can get much lower.  I did clean bathrooms last weekend, since just having those clean often helps me to feel better....and it did.  But now, the de-clutter must happen.  So, starting with the freezer, her I go:

I suspected the smoked turkey would stand up to the strong flavors, and it did.  This was perfectly fine....not a favorite in this house yet solidly good:)

Here's the recipe:
Buffalo Chicken Lasagna
Check out that blog for a picture as well.....I forgot to take one!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sandwiches for Dinner....

Sandwiches for dinner....just what my friend Kelly figured out a couple years ago.  Guess I'm a bit slow since it's taken me until now to realize what a brilliant idea this is.  We have been having them on Thursday nights....panini sandwiches.  It works well since it's healthy, tasty, and quick.  Thursday nights are a late practice night and a yoga night at this house, so when we arrive home from school and work and the Y around 7:45 pm we need something quick.  Thanks for the idea, Kelly:)

I didn't get a picture of the creation from last night (sandwich night moved to Tuesday this week due to a change in schedule due to Eleanor's travel to Oklahoma City this week).

Here's the idea:
prosciutto (I only used it because I had it from another did not add much, so I wouldn't use it next time I make these)
fig jam

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pasta with Butternut Squash and Spinach

Butternut Squash Spicy Sausage and Spinach Pasta recipe

I thought this sounded like just the yummy thing for a bit of pre-swimming carbs for the girls.  I bought the spinach but ended up using the entire pound in green smoothies....and that's not a bad thing.  Eleanor was fighting a bit of a cold, so I loaded her up on the orange juice, banana, strawberry, and spinach smoothies.  Along with what we call "Paul's concoction" (a not so secret blend of hot water, lemon, and honey), a bit of rest and some Airborne, I think she may be fighting off this bug.  Anyway, all this did mean that I needed to re-load on the baby spinach so I could make this recipe.

As you know, I am struggling with the mid week grocery runs; however, I was "lucky" enough to have a medical appointment mid week above Whole Foods.  Ah, lucky.  It was time for a female exam, something I rate somewhere between poking my eyes out and sitting at the DMV.  I guess that's the reason I have skipped a time or two (no, I didn't make the appointment and not show up....I just didn't schedule it).  I was dreading going to this appointment since I thought I may be reprimanded for:
1.  Not going for a couple years
2.  Drinking coffee
3.  Drinking wine
4. Having jiggly thighs and hairy legs

Ah....none of the above; although I did what I could by shaving my legs the morning of my appointment.   I really really like my GYN.  OK, I have to admit I like her best when I run into her in the hall or the grocery store rather than in stirrups.  But, all is seemingly well.  And, as a bonus, I got to run into Whole Foods to get the spinach! She has a good gift of making you feel OK about things, so I have to revise my ranking scale. like going to see her much better than I had made up for a few months.  She's way way way better than going to the DMV...more efficient and much more pleasant.  I'm not sure how she would feel about that ranking, so I'll have to think on one that's a bit more accurate.  Sometimes I need to meet with her in a work sort of way, and I suspect she puts me in the DMV category at that time too.  Ah, the things we must do!

But, let me get back to the spinach and the tortillas.  I ran to Whole Foods after my appointment before walking back to work and grabbed spinach and tortillas.  Really, I should have gotten a treat for myself too, but I didn't...preferring to get back to work to minimize the time away from my desk so I wouldn't need to stay so late.

The tortillas....Paul's been stepping it up a bit on meals though his tend to focus primarily on the red meat group.  However, we had leftover steak...and some sliced bell peppers in the freezer, and two avocados (I don't remember why), so...with some tortillas we were able to have a fajita night. came together quickly for a dinner wedged between a violin concert and a swim practice.

This dinner, the pasta with butternut squash and spinach was made by Paul for all of us.  Eleanor and I were at a swim meet and Luisa was at a basketball game.  We all enjoyed this meal though.  Good combination of spicy sausage and the pasta.  

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Fluffernutters...or Fat Elvis....Outside the Comfort Zone

Perhaps you're wondering how I ended up with marshmallow fluff in the larder?  I tend toward the healthy and less processed side of foods, yet I found a recipe for pumpkin pie fudge a number of months ago.  I got the ingredients to make it and charged the girls with spending a fall Sunday afternoon making it.  Needless to say, the softball stage wasn't measured quite right, and we ended up with a gooey sweet mess.  A few spoonfuls of that ended up being enough sugar to sustain us for quite awhile.  And, to be completely honest, I sent Paul and our exchange student to do the dirty work of purchasing the marshmallow fluff.  I have an image to maintain, you know.  Wink.  Wink.

As the pumpkin pie fudge was attempting to be made, I remembered the fat Elvis sandwich that Eleanor loved.  A restaurant that has since closed made it...marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, banana slices.  Theirs was toasted and served with chocolate dipping sauce.  I was also remembering a co-worker in a past life telling me that whenever she was away for the evening her husband and her daughter made fluffernutters.  That term was new to me at the time....and I couldn't imagine I would ever make one.  But, I had a few dollops of marshmallow cream (although I think it is spelled "creme"), so I thought it would be a fun change for the girls to have in their lunches.  I didn't have chocolate dipping sauce (aka Hershey's syrup), so I sprinkled a few chocolate ships in the sandwich.  This sandwich got rave reviews!  I even had enough fluff to make it one more day in the same week.

Now, I'm out of fluff.  I'm debating how I can get some in the future.  A disguise when grocery shopping?  A trip to a far away suburb?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Sweet Potato Pizza

Sweet Potato Black Bean and Goat Cheese Pizza

I like the combo of flavors on this pizza...and that's why it caught my eye. beans and sweet potatoes (one of my favorite burrito combinations)....add some goat cheese and pizza crust...and I am in!  I thought I would go entirely the way of the foodiebride and try the dough recipe she recommends as well.

The week started with unseasonably warm temperatures for Wisconsin.  I mean, 60 degrees feels good and all, but I have to say that it is a bit concerning since it is December.  Global warming?  There sure is something odd about this.  I think if it were a sunny day I would like it a bit better than having a fog hanging over us.  Anyway, it really wasn't a great night for pea soup, even though the fog was as thick as pea soup.  It was one of those recipes that seemed like a good idea when I was meal planning; however, it ended up being a bit of a dud the night we were having it.  It was all OK....because the crockpot pea soup was followed by this pizza.

The crockpot pea soup rocks...throw everything in and it's ready upon arrival home.  It is a bit of a struggle to get past the look of it.  I was the only one who would take it to work...and a co-worker ate a bit of it too.  No one else is brave enough to have those leftovers in their lunch.  The taste is worth it to me.

And it does make me wonder about the expression, "the fog is as thick as pea soup".  Really?  What an odd thing.  A quick online search revealed it is possibly related to yellow pea soup and yellowish industrial fog as referred to in 19th century British literature.  Well, our fog hasn't been yellow but it was thick near the lake.

Anyway, I'm a fan of the flavors black bean and sweet potato...especially together.  Throw in goat cheese.....and I'm sold!  I used the James Lahey dough recipe, which freezes nicely.  I didn't freeze the remainder yet, since I'm sure that I will need a quick meal at some point on this cRAzY busy weekend ahead.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Roast Beef with Havarti and more...

Oooooahhhhh....thumbing through Williams-Sonoma catalogue is a fun way to spend a few minutes.  And I came out of it with this recipe.
I was not able to find the recipe from the catalogue online, but that's OK because I changed it up a bit anyway.  I used sliced deli roast beef, horseradish havarti, roasted red peppers, carmelized onions (I used balsamic vinegar when carmelizing), and a mixture of spinach and arugula.

We're now thinking that a once a week sandwich night (perhaps Thursdays when we get home about 7:30) would be a good plan!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Skinnytaste Egg Nog

Egg of the things that rings in the Christmas season.  I like it; however, often the store version is a bit too sweet for me.  Typically I add a bit of milk to it and end up with just the right amount of sweetness.  It's not something I drink every day during the Christmas season...but as an occasional dessert.....I'm there.  Since my intake is so limited, I really wasn't in the market for a lighter version of it; however, I thought it would be fun to try making the version from Gina, of skinnytaste. is where the recipe can be found.  Or use this hyperlink to get directly to the recipe skinnytaste eggnog.  Paul and I enjoyed this for round one after it was made; however, I wasn't a fan of the texture after it sat for a bit.  So, a good experiment...a fun little project...likely I will make it next year.  I will still likely order my fully sweet and whole-milk version from lwdairy, as I usually purchase one per year.  It's as rich as the chocolate milk we order from our local milkman on each of our birthdays and really speaks to limiting the amounts of decadent beverages....I guess I would rather have a tiny bit of the really good stuff than more of the not so good stuff.  But, that's me:)

Skinny Eggnog

  • 3 cups 1% milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish
  • rum
Heat 3 cups milk in a medium saucepan with vanilla.  Simmer over medium heat.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and cornstarch until it turns light yellow.

Temper the eggs by gradually pouring the hot milk mixture, about 1 cup at a time, into the egg mixture, whisking constantly (this is important, otherwise you'll make scrambled eggs). Pour the mixture back into the pan. Place over medium heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the eggnog begins to thicken, about 6-7 minutes. 
Spike the eggnog with liquor, if desired , and garnish with nutmeg.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sweet Georgia Brown Chili

This recipe came as part of's chili contest.  It's one of those contests that I think I should enter, but the time period passes before I get my act together.  Too many other things to do before that right now, I guess.  But, I still can reap the rewards of getting a few new recipes.  I'm not much of a collector of anything except recipes, but I really love my collection of any recipe but especially chili recipes.

I adapted this recipe.  Shocking, I know.  And I really like how it turned out.  I debated throwing in that much brown sugar and putting in any whisky.  Glad that I did on both counts since I think those are key.  I made the chili on a Sunday night through the 20 minute cooking time.  All I needed to do on Monday after work was add the last few ingredients and chop a few items for garnishes which came together quickly.

Sweet Georgia Brown Chili adapted from contest where it was the chili contest winner!
2 oz dried ancho chiles, seeded and torn into large chunks
2 cups water
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large green bell peppers, chopped
1 large red bell peppers, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
20 oz 99% lean ground turkey breast
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) petite diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) + 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
6 oz tomato paste
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1/2 Tbsp ancho chile powder
1 1/2 Tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp cocoa

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup whiskey
1.5 oz bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa)
Combine ancho chiles and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium-low heat for 5-6 minutes or until tender. Cool slightly and transfer to a blender. Blend until smooth.
In a large stockpot, heat canola oil over medium-high heat; add onions, bell peppers, and garlic. Sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the ground turkey; cook until no longer pink, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon. Mix well until incorporated throughout the meat and vegetables.
Add the pureed ancho chiles, black beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Add spices, stirring to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for approximately 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop.
Let cook for 5 minutes to allow the mixture to thicken. Add brown sugar, whisky, and chocloate and let simmer for about 10 more minutes. Serve garnished with grated bittersweet chocolate.
Yield: 12 cups.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Another Good Lunch

Yea....guess who is rockin' lunch lately?  I woke early in the morning trying to think of what I had to put in lunches.  With all the Thanksgiving shopping and pre-Thanksgiving shopping (groceries) I was a bit low.  Besides, there were two days of school this week..that's all.  I came downstairs and was so excited when I had this idea.  I had one avocado left from our sushi making adventure.  It wasn't ripe that night.  I scooped out some of the avocado, mixed it with some drained tuna, and added a tiny bit of mayonnaise.  I rubbed the avocado that was exposed with a cut lemon and filled the middle.

It's for creations like these that I like to get a bit low on ingredients.....necessity really is the mother of invention!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Best Sandwich Ever!!!

Yep.  That's what Eleanor said about this one. I have to agree:
leftover smoked turkey
mango chutney
cranberry white cheddar cheese ( was on sale)
sliced apple

Made into a panini.  Now that's the way to eat Thanksgiving leftovers!

Saturday, November 24, 2012


My never ending quest to find a way to make sushi even I went to a sushi making class.  Actually I was  coerced in the friendliest of ways to go to the class as part of a Healthy Living class at the Y.  My friend, Kelly, convinced me to go to this; although the truth be told, she paid my $5 class fee.  

I learned how to make spicy mayo...hooray!

It was really fun to run out of work to go to a cooking class in the middle of the day.  For an occasional activity it was well worth the going in early and staying late to have this right in the middle of the day in the middle of the week.  

I learned to cut my nori a bit smaller and to sharpen the knife if you aren't purchasing the $200 sushi knife.  Those tips...along with the spicy mayo recipe may be the gems of the day.  

Spicy mayo:
Sriarcha aka rooster sauce
sesame oil
That's it....mix to taste.  I do need to remember to keep a bottle from the Sriracha and then put the spicy may on that bottle.  That way I can make cute rows and swirls with it....on the sushi and on the plate.  

Another fun thing about this class was the $5 gift card to the Fresh Market which I offered to Kelly since she paid for my class.  And we got the Fresh Market flyer which has a few yummy looking recipes as well.  So, I got to have a long and fun lunch, see Kelly in the middle of the day, have sushi for lunch, get a few recipes, help Kelly fill a class that needed participants, and get the spicy mayo recipe.  I'd say that's a pretty good Wednesday!

Making the spicy mayo and adding canned tuna and spreading that on the nori.  Oooolala.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pumpkin Biscoff Bread

Pumpkin Nutella Bread
I think weekends were just made for baking (and laundry and errands and cleaning).  I love the feeling of pulling something extra special out of the oven before the week begins.  There is just too much to do during the week to allow extra time for something as decadent as pumpkin bread.  I mean, there is laundry to do and workouts to be done and meals to be made.  And often there are some work tasks to complete as well.

I try to get meals planned and groceries purchased before the week begins.  I like to make some yogurt and granola as well (how earthy does that sound?).  And, then it's fun to make something a bit extra...perhaps caramel sauce bread.  I miss having a bit of time during the week to do a few little fun things, but I like working full time as well, so these things move to the weekend.  Maybe, after I build my PTO bank a bit more, I can take an occasional day off during the week to get back a bit of that type of life.  I'm also thinking that over the Thanksgiving weekend I may get a little nap on either Saturday or Sunday.  Sigh....we'll see what really happens!

Nutella Pumpkin Bread

from Two Peas and Pod via thesweetslifeIngredients:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup water
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp Biscoff
Directions:1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray loaf pans with cooking spray.2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.3. In a separate bowl, mix sugar, oil, water, pumpkin, eggs, and extract until smooth.4. Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet mixture, stirring until completely mixed.5. Evenly divide batter among loaf pans. Drop 4 tbsp of Nutella per loaf (or 2 if using mini) onto the top of the batter. Using a knife, swirl Biscoff into batter.6. Bake loaf pans for 35-40 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool pans completely on a wire rack before removing loaves from pan and slicing. Can be eaten warm or cold.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Waffle Recipe

Waffle Recipe
The hot breakfasts continue at this house.....but I did need a version for the days when I don't plan ahead and get the batter going the night before.  Actually, Eleanor found this recipe when she wanted waffles this summer and didn't want to wait.  I have converted to using this recipe quite a bit since there's only so much planning I can do.

So, Thanksgiving ahead.  The sweet potato biscuits I made a couple years ago will be in the menu again.  The request is that I make a double batch!  I am planning on making mashed potatoes, twice baked sweet potatoes, arugula salad and dressing.  Paul is making the turkey.  My parents and Paul's sister and brother in law will all be here....hooray!  We're excited to have them here as well as celebrate Luisa's first Thanksgiving.  The girls will have swim practice and we will eat early since my parents are leaving the next day for a few weeks....they just may need a few hours to get ready.

Hot's what we do here.

I don't have a picture of these....but I guess they aren't that exciting to look at anyway!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mushroom Stroganoff

Mushroom Stroganoff
I'm thinking about Noodles and Company....and love their mushroom stroganoff.  I thought it would be a good autumn dish...and I was right.  This is one of those recipes that tastes best the day it is made, so my recommendation is to make just what is needed.   It wasn't bad reheated....but not nearly as good as the first time around.

My version was adapted from the link above to find her recipe.  I'm not usually a fan of low fat ingredients, so that's why I changed the sour cream to the real thing.  I tend more to being a whole food kind of person since I find a long list of ingredients a bit more frightening than a bit of fat.  But, that's just me.  Read a cool whip ingredient list and compare it to whipping cream....then tell me what you think:)  For sure there is room for disagreement on that one.

Anyway, I am back to blogging a bit.  I miss it since it is a fun hobby.  Not too much is new with us.....swimming for the girls (club season now), work and exercise and cooking and cleaning for me, traveling and doing his stuff for Paul.

Gearing up a bit for Thanksgiving....we are having it at our house!

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 oz sliced Cremini mushrooms
  • 8 oz sliced baby Bella mushrooms
  • 3.5 oz Shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp red wine
  • 1/4 cup  sour cream
  • 8 oz uncooked noodles 
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish


Cook noodles in a pot of salted water according to package directions, I like to under-cook them a bit so I can mix it with the sauce and let it finish cooking.

Meanwhile, while the water starts to boil for the noodles, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Melt butter over medium heat and add onions to the pan. Cook 2 - 3 minutes over medium-low heat.

Add flour; stir with a wooden spoon for 30 seconds. Gradually add broth, and Worcestershire sauce, stirring constantly. Add mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper; stir and cook 4-5 minutes or until thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Potatoes

This came courtesy of Nicole, preventionrd.  I love the Buffalo flavors...the vinegariness of the wing sauce...the spiciness of it...and the creamy bleu cheese.  I'm just not a fan of it in Buffalo wing form.  It's just another place that Paul and I disagree since he is fanatical about wings.  If he sees them on a menu it is hard to hold him back from placing an order.  It just may be a bit of my OCD-ness that I don't like food that requires getting hands dirty.  I don't like ribs and I don't like chicken wings.  It could be the hand thing or it could be that the meat cuts are named too close to what they are...not really sure.  But, I do know that I don't like having to wash hands immediately after eating.  Yikes...who wants to eat something that is served with a handwipe?  Not me. 

That being said, I love the Buffalo flavors.  Let me say that again....LOVE those flavors:)

 I wasn't so thrilled with these as a main dish; however, I would probably make them again as a side dish.  Or maybe I should just have these when I am not as hungry as I was the night these were the headline.  The blog linked above (and below) is really one of my favorites when I'm searching for a quick and new recipe.  I haven't gotten too much time to look through too many online sources for recipes.  I know they are there, but I think I'll have some time on a cold and snowy (non skiing...non running...non Y) sort of evening or weekend!

Buffalo Chicken Topped Potatoes

3 medium potatoes
3/4 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 Tbsp white vinegar
3 Tbsp calorie-free buffalo wing sauce, divided
1/2 cupcheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 oz blue cheese, crumbled
chives, diced
Scrub and pierce potatoes. On a lined baking sheet, bake potatoes at 375 F for 1 hour or until tender. When cool enough to handle, cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp, leaving thin shells.
Meanwhile, spray a skillet with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add diced chicken and saute 4-5 minutes until no longer pink. Add the vinegar and 1 tablespoon of buffalo wing sauce. Continue cooking until cooked through, an additional 3-4 minutes.
In a large bowl, mash the potato pulp with cheese, yogurt and remaining 2 tablespoons buffalo wing sauce; add chicken. Spoon into potato shells.
Place on a baking sheet. Bake 8-12 minutes longer or until heated through. Top with blue cheese and green onions. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sunday Dinner

I like a good and hearty meal on a Sunday night (as well as all the laundry done and clean sheets and clean bathroom and stocked refrigerator).  This was a meal that made both girls happy at the end of a weekend.  Sweet potatoes and harvest grains were both from Trader Joe's.  The harvest grain blend is one of our favorite things....and arugula salad...yum.  Seriously, the sweet potatoes were frozen into discs that I cooked.  The chicken was as follows:
Pound chicken breasts into thin and fairly even layers.  Dip in buttermilk.  Then in cornmeal mixed with some Parmesan cheese.  Bake until done.  I was planning on breading the the chicken with breadcrumbs; however, my well-stocked pantry wasn't as well stocked as I had thought it was.  Oops.  But, that gave me the opportunity to make it in a different way. 

The weeks are flying by without too much blogging dedication from me.  We still are eating well, so I am managing a post every now and then.  Some of it is the shift in my work schedule...and some of it is that I need to shuffle my workout times a bit for Eleanor and Luisa's schedules.  And, yea, sometimes I just run out of day. 

Today I was able to take a long lunch and go to a sushi making workshop with a friend.  It was such a nice break to get away from my desk and listen and watch and eat.  Yep, I will need to remember to do that a bit more often since it was decadently fun.  I am planning on making a bit of sushi over the weekend, if I can find a tiny bit of spare time.  We're over the high school swim season (hooray...but that's another story) and back to club swimming, so that is changing a bit of my time.  There are a couple meets coming up in the next few weeks, so that may keep me busy as well.  I think a bit of sushi time will be in order though. 

The crockpot is a is planning ahead.  I find that I really need to keep things a bit ahead....prepping things for dinner the following night after dinner.  I get it; I want to sit as well and unwind...but I do know that just 20 minutes more of work makes the next night so much better as far as dinner.

Tomorrow night is the high school swim banquet, so dinner is done for tomorrow.  Guess that's why I can type a quick blog post tonight. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Lunch Wraps struggle nearly every morning.  I'm just not a good lunch maker.  Here's a good idea though: hummus, black olives, feta, and arugula.  Maybe I could become a super-duper lunch maker (and eater)?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Indonesian Peanut Saute

Indonesion Peanut Saute

My friend Judy posted this on her facebook and commented that she needs to make this now that she lives miles and miles from a Noodles and Co restaurant.  She moved from our little 'burb to a ranch in California.  It looks like she's in a beautiful spot...and now that she can make this for her family all is well in the teenage world at her house!

This is one of my favorite items at the restaurant, so it was a fun idea to try it at home.  I have made quite a few similar things, but wanted to try this recipe too.  Hey, there's always room for another recipe in my house.   Paul had a recent trip to a couple Indonesian locations, and he says that this is a made up name since the food he sampled in that country wasn't very good.  Although he isn't a fan of Noodles and Co, so maybe there is a bit more authenticity than I think!

I made this with tofu since we had a number of chicken items on the menu already for the week I was making this.

Indonesian Peanut Saute with Tofu
Saute cubed tofu in:
1 T oil with...
1 T Sriracha
lime juice (juice from one lime)
ginger (about 2 T)
garlic (3 cloves, minced)
soy sauce (2 T)
Toss in grated carrots and chopped broccoli and cook for just a couple minutes.  I like my veggies slightly crisp, so it just took a minute or two.

Cook 1 lb noodles.  I used linguine.

Peanut Sauce:
1 c chicken broth
6 T peanut butter
2 t Sriracha
3 T honey
6 T soy sauce
3 T ginger
4 cloves garlic
Heat the above ingredients in a pan until blended.
Put it all together and garnish with limes, peanuts, and cilantro.

The girls and I really liked this dinner.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Olive Biscuit Cookies

Olive Biscuit Cookies

I ran into this recipe while cruising the web a couple months ago and was intrigued.  I just needed to make these for the perfect occasion, which I knew would present itself at some point.  The thing is, with working full time, I have lost the niceties in life.  Sending my SIL flowers after a recent surgery.....not done.  Getting together with friends....not done as much as I would like.  However, I really miss my peeps from the dorms at violin camp.  Our kids have grown and don't need us at camp for the entire week any more.  It's a bit sad...these kids all big teenagers now.  But, our kids all still take violin from the awesome-est teacher....and our friendship remains, even though we aren't all getting reprimanded by the RA in the dorm (I really have been reprimanded more as an adult in the dorm than as a college student).

It just takes a bit of planning to get all of us together a couple times a year.  We like to meet for coffee; however, I had the idea for a late afternoon/early evening party since our kids are now all in the group that meets on Friday from 4:30-6.  Hmm...doesn't seem like coffee should be the beverage of choice now......

So, I decided to have a wine and whine party.  And throw in some crab to go with our wine.  And these little biscuits seemed like just the thing to add to the party as well.

We really are not a whiny bunch though.  We tend to be "glass half full" people either because we have been indoctrinated in the Suzuki method or because we lean that way normally and are attracted to the Suzuki method.  That being said, there really isn't much to whine about.  It was a crazy week at work...but we tend to be more of the people who are thankful for work and productivity and being busy, etc.  So the party really wasn't so much about whining but more about catching up.  And I like the IDEA of a crab and whine and wine party. 

So, along with my goal to set aside time to meet up with friends a bit more frequently...and get back into the blog habit, I'm trying to get a bit better about keeping the things in life that are nice and special.  And, I really do like the work that I do.  It's just a bit to juggle with exercise and eating healthy and cleaning my house.

And these cookies were just the thing to make.  I really really liked these!

This is from the blog, 101Cookbooks
I made it exactly like the recipe, believe it or not:)
I used regular canned black olives; nothing exotic on the mushroom front.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Tacos

Buffalo Chicken Taco
Buffalo Chicken Tacos slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is by and then by me into the following:

1  lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
large pinch of cayenne peppe
1/3 cup buffalo wing sauce (I used Frank’s Buffalo Wing) + 4 Tbsp, for drizzling
1 Tbsp olive oil
10 6-inch corn tortillas

1 avocado, sliced
4 oz gorgonzola
broccoli slaw
lime wedges

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.
In a large bowl, combine cornstarch, flour, cayenne, and garlic powder. Stir in chicken. 

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and once it gets hot, add chicken and brown on both sides – about 3-4 minutes per side. Once the chicken is done, set it aside in a bowl and toss with 1/3 cup buffalo wing sauce.

Add toppings and serve. 

All three of us (the three of us who are in town and not entertaining Asian employees) really liked this!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Squash Soup

Wolfgang Puck's Squash Soup

I have raved about the "other" squash soup recipe.  You know, the one with apples and apple cider.  I was looking for another one; I still like the original, but I like this one too.  It's just a bit more savory than the other recipe.  We're a squash and pumpkin family, eating both of those items with great frequency in the fall and winter.  As I'm sure you can tell from my recipes, there is plenty of pumpkin and squash to be eaten here.  the curry and apple flavors are delicious, but it's fun to have some other flavors as well.

I like to roast the squash whole with a few fork pricks in it.  None of this trying to chop it in half for me.  That's just crazy.  I remember my mom hitting the squash with a hatchet in the garage before baking the squash halves.  Yikes.....we need to be done with that method.  I'm not sure what crazy person thought of that idea.  The "baked potato" method is much better, so that's what I did for this recipe.  I did not rub the squash with butter either.  I really did use the did give it some great flavors.

I haven't been a dedicated blogger this fall.  In part because of my full time job part because of computer availability with two teenagers in the house....and I haven't been too creative lately and have been sticking with some old favorites.

I decreased the butter to about half of what the original recipe said.  And the only garnish we had...pumpkin seeds.

I guess I can't have too many good sqaush soup recipes!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Brisket Taco

I have to say, I'm feeling a bit let down on this one.  Nicole of had not let me down until this one.  The brie was good and the mango barbeque sauce was good; however, the meat seemed a bit bland to me.  Perhaps it ws my substitution of Coke for the Dr. Pepper.  We aren't big soda drinkers around here, and I somehow had a can of coke in the pantry.  I'm willing to admit that may have been the reason for the lack of flavor, but I don't know that I will try this one again! I do think that with some tweaks and adding a little something for more flavor this could be really good...and I think I'll make the mango barbecue sauce again...but it just didn't do it for me the other night:(

This one kept giving since I ended up with leftovers that no one ate.  That's unusual since we're pretty good at eating the food that we buy; however, it just wasn't that good.  I put the leftovers (about 1 1/2 c or so) down the garbage disposal.  Umm...bad idea.  Garbage disposals are not really to be used for disposing garbage, I guess.  I ended up with a clog (Paul was out of the country), so I washed dishes in the washtub in the basement until  he came home and  got it down the pipes.  I tried re-setting the garbage disposal, removing the J pipe, and snaking the drain.  I even called a friend and asked for help.  Still...the great clog of 2012.  Paul installed a cleanout (where there should have been one anyway) and quickly got rid of the clog.

So, this was not may favorite recipe, and I probably won't repeat it.  I love the source blog, so we'll try another one from there soon.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Gingerbread Biscotti

Gingerbread Biscotti
Loved these!  Just thinking about fall flavors and ginger comes to mind; however, our exchange student thought it smelled a bit like Christmas.  Yes, that too!

These were a bit crumbly and took quite a bit more time (and a few more bowls) than other biscotti recipes. Although the flavor was really good.  I think that if I plugged the taste and work into an equation they wouldn't work out as a very high scoring item.  However, the flavors were good, so my plan is to adapt this recipe a bit so the work is more similar to a previous blog post for Mocha Almond Biscotti, one of my favorite recipes from Eating Well years and years ago.  Check out the link at the top of this post for this recipe....go ahead and try them and let me know what you think!

I'll blog about my adapatations of this recipe since the flavors are great.  In fact, maybe I will need to do that very soon.  I'm sure I can find some willing tasters in my house!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Grape Infusion

What to do with all those grapes being harvested off the vines?  Paul planted grapes and constructed a beautiful arbor years ago after we were in Napa Valley.  It seemed like a good solution to a corner lot and kids cutting through our yard after school.  Since that time, we had a child and our yard standards were lowered...and lowered...and lowered again.  Not just blaming Eleanor..but just a change in priorities over the years.  However, the arbor still stands and the grapes have matured so we get quite a crop every year at the end of the summer.  We're never quite sure what to do with them...a few for eating depending on the sweetness; however, we're a family that really enjoys seedless grapes.  Maybe I should be more of a purist and not admit that, but it's the truth!

Anyway, this year Paul decided to put the grapes in with some vodka for this infusion.  The grapes and the vodka and the pretty bottle are in the refrigerator just waiting.  Waiting for what?  I'm not sure what he'll concoct out of this, but stay tuned.....

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Spiced Latte with Caramel Sauce

From Confections of a Foodie Bride
I found this recipe while wandering around cyberspace the other day.  So many fun things to find.  I'm not thinking that this type of thing brings out the best in me.  That is, my productive task oreinted nature seems to go away while I wander around looking from food blog to food blog.  I'm not even sure of my exact path that got me to the webiste listed above; however, I'm glad that I found it.

We don't have cable TV.  It's for the same type of reason related to my poor timing.  I know that I can watch show after show...and suddently an entire afternoon is gone.  My SIL thinks that if we had cable we would have some self control, but I don't think so.  I admit I have been a bit like this my entire life.  I remember looking up something in an encyclopedia (yes, the precursor to wikipedia, folks) and getting sidetracked.  I guess it's a good think I have a bit more stucture in my day...because there are so many great blogs out there.  In fact, it made me feel a little bit bad about myself.  I took a deep breath and realized that I may not have the most awesome photography and multiple dish sets for photography or the right lighting for photos, or even the "print page" button on each blog right now, but I am finding blogging fun.  I guess if I waited for everything to be perfect it wouldn't really happen for me.  It is easy to critique someone else's work, but the fact is there are many of us actually doing it.  It's like watching a large person run, I guess.  You have to say, "good for you"!

What I'm most impressed by, as I troll through other blogs, is the energy in these blogs.  The great photograhy and the enthusiasm.  It seems that most of these food bloggers are very young.  I love that cooking is cool (along with knitting...whoda thunk it) and talking about cooking is cool. 

Back to the blog where I got this recipe.  I love everything about it...the cute design the clever name, and the caramel sauce.  Can I just tell you how much I love the caramel sauce?  I'm a sucker for anything with the words "salted" and "caramel".  Neither word alone does anything for me, but if you put them together I want to make it.  And I did with my sea salt from Sicily. 

The spicy latte syrup was delicious and the caramel sauce was fabulous.  My only substituion in this was 1 t or so of vanilla instead of using the vanilla pods.  My guess is that it would be better with the vanilla beans, but I was doing this without running to the store. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Squash Soup

Squash Soup
OK...maybe everyone has this recipe by now.  If so, that's because it's a good one.

1 T butter
2 large onions, chopped
4-5 t curry powder
2 T brown sugar
3 c chicken stock
2 c apple cider
2 1/2-3 lb squash, peeled and chopped (or poke a few holes in it and bake until soft)
2 apples, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper
optional garnishes:  plain yogurt or sour cream, parsley, bleu cheese, chives

Melt butter in stockpot.  Add onion and curry powder.  Cook until onions are soft.  Stir in brown sugar.  Add stock, cider, squash, and apples.  Simmer until tender.  Process until smooth or simply mash in pan.

This one is a classic around here, and I don't think we have had a fall without it in years and years.  A friend of mine was telling me that she enjoys a similar soup at our local City Market; however, theirs does not have apple.  Lucky for her since she has an apple allergy.  That did get me to thinking that this may be good with pears instead...maybe pear juice substituted for the apple cider.  I'm going to try that next time; however, my plan is to omit the brown sugar since pear juice seems a bit sweeter to me.

If you're not a curry fan, this may be a good way to get a bit of good-for-you tumeric into your body:)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Yes, Nicole does it again with a great quick and healthy recipe.  Have I told you how much I love this woman's blog?  Do you like how I call her Nicole even though I never met her?  I always have to chuckle when people call a television or radio personality by his/her first name even though they have never met.  You know, like "Katie (Couric) said blah blah blah"  or "Brian (Williams) mentioned blah blah blah".  So, here I am mentioning my virtual friend, Nicole!  I do think I want to be her...although maybe I like her because she is the younger version of up a storm, climbing the work ladder, and working out a bit.  I'm just the older more tired version of that person!!!!

Enough of the envy, I just really love the recipes and her pictures.  Her blog is my go to place when I'm in the mood to try a new recipe, especially during the week.  They are healthy, quick and have been tasty.  Ah, all the things I need.  This one sounded great....and was a MUST MAKE when the romaine heads arrived in the CSA box last week.  We grilled bratwurst on Sunday (during the Packers victory...hooray) and I threw on 2 chicken breasts in anticipation of this dinner.  We were having it after a high school swim meet and had to have a dinner that could be thrown together quickly when we arrived home.  I made the dressing the night before, so all I had to do was boil the water and cook the pasta!
Chicken Caesar with a Twist from www.preventionrd

1/3 cup light mayonnaise
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp anchovy paste
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp ground red pepper

Mix all ingredients together.

12 oz boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 oz dry rotini
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp Greek seasoning
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
2 heads Romaine lettuce, washed and torn into pieces
2 oz Parmesan, shredded

When the pasta is cooked; drain and return to the pot. Toss with olive oil, salt, seasoning, and grated Parmesan.
Toss the lettuce with the dressing and shredded Parmesan. Divide salad among 4 plates and top with 1/4 of the pasta and 1/4 of the chicken
I think I'm back!