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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tricia's Week 35 Recipe: Ranch Roasted Pork Chops & Red Potatoes

What happens when you combine summer farmer's markets with buy 1/get 1 sales at the local grocer?  A good meat and potato recipe that is healthy and delicious!  I adapted this recipe: from SparkRecipes to the following:

Ranch Roasted Pork Chops & Red Potatoes
    *4 boneless pork chops *400 grams red potatoes, cut to bitesize (8-9 small)...Um, I might have used a few more, I forgot to count *12 small farmers market carrots, peeled and cut to bite sized chunks *1 small garden purple pepper, chopped to bitesize *5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (I used 2 of chili olive oil and three of 'regular') *1 oz. pkt. Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing & Seasoning Mix 1/4 cup water
Preheat oven to 350
1. Rinse and slice potatoes and carrots and pepper into bite-size chunks.
2. Mix olive oil and Ranch seasoning packet in a bowl.
3. Dip pork chops in olive oil mix to coat both sides and place in a 9x13 greased baking dish.
4. Put potatoes, pepper, and carrots into olive oil mix, shake to coat, and place around pork chops.
5. Add water and cover dish.
6. Bake at 350 covered for 40 - 45 minutes, then uncover and bake 15-20 minutes more, or until chops are cooked through and potatoes are tender inside. 
I will definitely make this again.  I happen to think I will add more veg, and perhaps try it in the slow cooker with a pork tenderloin.  Maybe adding a few olives, some mushrooms, or parsnips or beets, or ...  really, it's a great base recipe with low sodium that you can adjust depending on your protein and veg available. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Chris's Week Thirty-Five Recipe: Giant Mutant Carrot Cookie-Scones

Jo came over yesterday and valiantly tried two new recipes. The brownies made with almond meal instead of flour were a total disaster. We tried a bit and then threw out the pan. I want you to be able to sleep nights, gentle readers, so I'm not going to post that recipe.

But the second venture, based on this recipe from Clemson University's extension service, turned out quite well. The original recipe was for monster carrot cookies, but I beefed it up a little until I achieved some sort of mutant cookie-scone.

Giant Mutant Carrot Cookie-Scones

6 T olive oil
1 c grated carrots
1 c honey
2 eggs, well-beaten
1 c raisins
2 c whole wheat flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t cinnamon
3 c Country Choice multigrain cereal (you could use oatmeal instead)

Mix together the olive oil, grated carrots, honey, eggs and raisins.

In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and multigrain cereal.

Combine the dry and wet ingredients and mix well.

Lightly oil (or spray) a large baking sheet and a #20 large scoop. Scoop generous portions of the batter onto the sheet and flatten slightly. Bake at 350F for about 15 min or until starting to brown slightly on the edges.

Would I make this recipe again? Yes! These are great with tea or for breakfast. I especially like the fact you can actually taste the honey in this recipe. Thanks to Jo for being a brave taste tester!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Jennifer's Week Thirty-Four Recipe: Dr. Theophilus's Doctored Devil's Food Cake

Someone made a comment to me that there was not enough chocolate on the blog. So, I decided to help fix that issue. The name of the original recipe was "Too Much Chocolate Cake". A voice in my head said "There is no such thing!" So, I changed the name.

Dr. Theophilus's Doctored Devil's Food Cake

1 (18.25oz) package of Devil's Food Cake mix

1 (5.70z) package of instant chocolate pudding mix

1 cup sour cream

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup warm water

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I just dumped a bag in. I figured it was close!)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 12 cup (or larger) Bundt pan

In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, oil, eggs and water. When well combined, stir in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into the Bundt pan.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the cake thoroughly in the pan for an hour to an hour and a half (or 3 hours, because you got busy with other things and forgot about the cake despite how good your house smelled) before inverting it onto a plate. If desired, top with powdered sugar (or a chocolate glaze)

I think Dr. Theophilus would approve.

Jennifer's Week Thirty-Three Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff

I felt that it was time again for a slow cooker recipe and Rainbow had chicken breasts on sale, so I scoured the interwebs and found a recipe that met three criteria: 1. made in the slow cooker 2. used chicken breasts 3. My guys would eat it. And I found one! I doctored it a bit to kind of sort of make it my own.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cubed

1/8 cup margarine

1 (.7oz) package dry Italian salad dressing mix

1 (8oz) package cream cheese

1 (10.75) can condensed cream of chicken soup

2 healthy dollops sour cream

A nice sprinkling of paprika

Cooked egg noodles for serving

Put the chicken, salad dressing mix and margarine in the slow cooker and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.

Add the rest of the ingredients (sans egg noodles) and mix well, cooking on high for another 30 minutes until heated through. Serve with egg noodles.

Would I make this again? Yes, the men loved it. However, I think I would reduce the amount of salad dressing mix by half. For me, it was a bit overwhelming.

Chris's BONUS Week Thirty-Four Recipe: Refrigerator Pickles

My mom has a good basic recipe for refrigerator pickles that I'm going to share with you. I'll also share the variation I made this week. The proportions are roughly the same, and I had the fun of making my own pickle spice mix based on the list of ingredients from Penzey's pickle spice and whatever I could find in my cupboard!

Refrigerator Pickles

Mix together:

7 c cucumber, thinly sliced
1 c green pepper, thinly sliced
1 c onion, thinly sliced

Sprinkle with:

2 T salt
1 t celery seed

Mix well. Stir together:

2 c sugar
1 c vinegar

and pour over the vegetables. Put in container & cover. Shake the container occasionally. This will keep about a month in the fridge.

Chris's Refrigerator Pickles

Mix together:

2 c cucumber, thinly sliced (2 small cucumbers)
1/3 c banana pepper, thinly sliced (1 banana pepper)
1/3 c onion, thinly sliced

Sprinkle with the following homemade pickle spice mixture:

1/2 t salt
2 slices dried ginger, cracked
1/2 cinnamon stick (smack it to pieces!)
1 bay leaf, cracked
6 peppercorns
2 cloves
2 pinches dill seed

Mix well. Stir together:

2/3 c agave nectar
1/3 c vinegar

and pour over the vegetables. Put in container & cover. Shake the container occasionally. This should keep about a month in the fridge. Note: the pickles taste better after they've had a day or so to think about themselves.

Would I make this recipe again? Yes, I would! At first I thought I'd put in too much agave nectar, but you really have to let this sit around for a day or two before you pass judgement. As it is, I'll certainly be nabbing more cucumbers for another batch.

Guest Recipe from Judy: Bolognaise Sauce

I haven't tried this sauce myself, but Judy declares it to be her speciality! She's sent along these guidelines for aspiring Italian chefs.

Judy's Bolognaise Sauce
  • 3 lb lean hamburger - browned & drained
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 precious bag of delicious frozen concentrated tomatoes saved from the previous summer's harvest
  • 1 can of your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • whatever herbs you have on hand you want to throw in
  • salt & pepper to taste
Simmer for 3-4 hours.

Guest Recipe from Judy: Mrs. Field's Coffee Cake

Another recipe that I asked Judy to send to me! Again, she uses less sugar than stated in the recipe, especially in the crumbled topping. There are fewer directions here, but I think you can extrapolate!

Mrs. Fields' Coffee Cake

1 stick (1/2 c) butter, softened
1 c sugar
3 eggs
2 c flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 c sour cream
dash salt

Transfer mixture to a 9" spring form pan.

Drizzle over the top and cut in:

2 T butter
1 T sugar
1 T brown sugar

Crumble on top:

1 c nuts
1 c brown sugar
1 stick (1/2 c) butter
1 t cinnamon

Bake at 350F for 30 min or until done.

Guest Recipe from Judy: Banana Bars

Judy brought these to work one day and they were so good that I solicited the recipe for the blog. She says she always puts in less sugar - at least 1/2 cup in the bars. She also starts with lower sugar in the icing and works her way up to a level found acceptable by her husband and children!

Banana Bars

1/2 c butter, softened
2 c sugar
3 eggs
1.5 c mashed bananas (3)
1 t vanilla
2 c flour
1 t baking soda
pinch salt

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, bananas, and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Pour in a greased 15x10" pan. Bake at 350F for 25 min or until done.


1/2 c butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese
3 c powdered sugar
2 t vanilla

Allow the bars to cool, then cream together butter and cream cheese. Gradually add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat well. Spread over bars.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tricia's Week 34 Recipe: Taco Pizza

Yes, I've posted pizza recipe before.  No, this is not cheating.  Why?  Because I was trying for a quick, slightly less calorie pizza option.

Taco Pizza

1 Pillsbury thin pizza crust
1 lb ground turkey
taco seasoning
1/3-1/2 cup salsa (medium or hot)
1/3-1/2 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup red pepper
1 jalapeño
1-2 cups mozzarella cheese
1-2 handfulls lettuce
1 small tomato, diced
1-2 handfulls taco chips or shells, crunched
olives, sliced and black
sour cream

Cook and drain ground turkey and make into taco turkey according to directions on taco mix.  set aside.  Open pizza crust and spread on cookie sheet or pizza baking pan.  Bake according to directions for 5 minutes and pull out of oven (I think at 400 degrees).  Let cool for 1 minute.  Mix salsa and pizza sauce together and coat on crust.  add cut up red pepper and jalapeño.  Add all of meat.  Top with cheese (I say 1-2 cup b/c I grab handfuls from bag until it looks right and have BIG bag mozzarella at home.  You do want to go lighter on the cheese than you normally would for a pizza.  Put back in oven and cook about 11 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.  Remove from oven.  **Note, for the next topping instructions, you can choose to top the whole pizza, or if like us you will only end up eating maybe half, you can cut the pizza first and just top the slices you intend to eat.  Up to you **  Top pizza or slices with lettuce,  tomato, olives, crunched shells and sour cream to taste.  Eat.

I will be making taco pizza again!  The ground turkey instead of ground beef was a winner.  The Pillsbury pizza crust wasn't.  It never became crispy in the middle, and we despise soggy thin crust.  It might work OK on a regular Pillsbury rising pizza crust.  I guess we just like my homemade crust recipe too much, so we'll make it on that next time.  Also, the jalapeño was sooooo hot, the bites with it overpowered everything else.  I will either need to chop it up better next time, or leave it off when they get that hot from the garden.

Tricia's Week 33 Recipe: Apple Pie with homemade pie crust

Have you tried the new apple from the University of Minnesota?  It tastes like a sweet-tart!  No kidding.  Though it lends itself more to the tart than the sweet, so it's the perfect pie apple.  It's also very crisp, and the nice man at the farmer's market told me it would stay 6-8 weeks in the crisper as crisp and juicy as when I bought them.  Score!  I've made plenty of apple pies in my day, but never have I made the crust from scratch, so this week I bring you Tricia's Home Made Pie crust (and apple pie recipe).

Pie Crust (Adapted from cookbook that came with my mixer):
2 - 2/14 cups flour (I used unbleached)
3/4 teaspoon salt (I approximated)
1/2 cup (one stick) plus 2 tablespoons butter, well chilled
5-6 tablespoons cold water

Place flour and salt in mixer (yes, I used the kitchen aide mixer and this recipe is adapted from their cookbook), add cold butter, cut into small chunks, and mix until butter is size of small peas.  If you don't have a kitchen aide mixer, use a pastry cutter and cut in the butter to the flour.  Add water one tbsp at a time until all flour is moistened and dough begins to hold together.  Place two sheets cling wrap on counter, pour half dough on each, and wrap up into tight little balls and put in fridge for 15 minutes.  Make pie filling during this time.  Then take out from fridge and roll between two pieces wax paper.

Apple Pie (Adapted from Betty Crocker's Cookbook)
5-6 Apples, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks (about 6 cups)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tbsp apple pie spice (which can be garnered from the St. Paul Farmer's Market from a nice vendor, and is delicious)
dash salt

Place first crust into pie pan, fill, cover with second pie crust.  Flute and cut slits.  Bake at 425 for 40-50 minutes or until crust is brown and juice is bubbly.

Delicious!  I like this crust.  It uses a little less butter/shortening/lard than other crust recipes I've seen (which of course makes it a bit harder to roll out.  Mine wasn't round, and didn't hold together really well, but it tasted good.  Looks come second, right?!)  I also think my water wasn't quite as cold as it could have been, and maybe I could have used one more tbsp.  Darn, I have to try again!  The filling is delicious, I've been making it this way for a while now.  I pick a tart apple based on what is at the farmer's market or what I'v picked up off the ground at my parent's property.  I'll definitely be trying this again!

Tricia's Week 32 Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Salad

I love to eat spicy food, especially anything with buffalo sauce on it.  I eat buffalo chicken salad at restaurants, so I thought to myself, it can't be that hard to make at home.  Right?

Buffalo Chicken Salad 
6 small chicken strips/nuggets
Franks Buffalo Sauce
your favorite greens
1 carrot
2 stalks celery
1 radish (optional)
Lite Ranch Dressing (or 'real', you choose)

Coat strips/nuggets in sauce, cook according to package directions (mine said 375 for 18ish minutes, I went a bit longer b/c of the sauce).  Meanwhile, clean greens, celery, carrot and radish, and chop all in salad fashion.  For me this means 1/2 inch pieces.  Place greens and veg into a bowl.  When strips are done, cut into bite size pieces and place on salad.  drizzle salad with more Franks sauce, and serve w/ ranch dressing on the side.

I will be making this again, whee - loved it!  I think I will dunk the nuggets/strips after cooking, because they didn't crisp up this way, but other than that the salad was a winner.  One could also be healthier and cook a chicken breast and then coat in the Franks sauce.  

Chris's Week Thirty-Four Recipe: Boiled Maize Pudding

I discovered a neat website last night: Feeding America. It's a digitized collection of old American cookbooks from the 18th to the early 20th century. I decided to try a recipe from The Complete Cook, published in 1864:

Stir Indian meal and warm milk together "pretty stiff;" a little salt and two or three "great spoonfuls" of molasses added; also a spoonful of ginger, or any other spice that may be preferred. Boil it in a tightly-covered pan, or in a very thick cloth; if the water gets in, it will ruin it. Leave plenty of room for Indian meal swells very much. The milk with which it is mixed should be merely warmed; if it be scalding hot, the pudding will break to pieces. Some chop suet very fine and warm in the milk; others warm thin slices of apple to be stirred into the pudding. Water will answer instead of milk.

This I translated to:

Mix together:

generous 1/2 c medium grind cornmeal
pinch salt
1/4 t ginger
6 T milk
generous tablespoon of dark molasses

Boil in a double boiler about 10 minutes or until the pudding is set.

Would I try this recipe again? I think I'll have to, just so I can see if I can get it to work right. The pudding was very 'dry' at the end of 10 minutes although the corn meal had softened to what I consider an acceptable level (sort of a cornmeal al dente). I think I needed to add more liquid content to begin with.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Guest Recipe from Judy: Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

Today I mentioned to my much-esteemed coworker Judy that I had some tomatoes I needed to render into sauce, and she gave me her method of oven-roasting tomatoes. I'm going to give you her guidelines and my own variation.

Judy's Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

Clean tomatoes and slice vertically into quarters. Put on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, minced garlic, and salt. Lay fresh thyme on top and put into a 180F oven overnight. Pop into a zip-lock bag and freeze for the long, cold winter.

Chris's Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

I'm sure Judy's roasting method generates fabulous flavor, but my oven's 25 years old and I'm not risking leaving it on all night! And since I'm a messy drizzler, I just mixed everything in a large bowl.

Clean tomatoes and slice vertically into quarters or eighths. Mix in a large bowl with olive oil, minced garlic, and salt. Put everything onto a jelly-roll pan lined with foil and lay fresh thyme on top. Roast at 400F for 45 min or until the tomatoes are starting to char a bit.

If you're making sauce, remove most of the peels. Pop into a zip-lock bag and freeze for the long, cold winter.

Would I make this recipe again? I think you can count on it! I sampled some tomatoes once they'd cooled and I think I wound up eating a whole tomato's worth of sections.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chris's Week Thirty-Three Recipe: Stewed Squash and Tomato

Last week's farmers market zucchini came with a nice little yellow pattypan squash. I've never cooked with one of those before! While noodling around on the Net, I spotted this recipe and after Tricia gave me a few tomatoes from her garden, I decided it was time for....

Stewed Squash and Tomatoes

2 T olive oil
1-2 bell peppers of any color, chopped
1 pattypan squash, chopped
pinch kosher salt
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 cup water
3 cloves garlic, minced
basil leaves, chopped or chiffonaded
chopped green onions
black pepper
brown basmati rice

Cook the basmati rice per package instructions.

Saute the peppers and squash in the olive oil until just tender. Add salt, tomatoes, water, and garlic and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half (about 20 minutes). Serve over brown basmati rice garnished with basil leaves, chopped green onion, and black pepper.

Would I make this recipe again? Probably not. The flavor was great, but I think I could have gotten there just sauteeing the vegetables and saved a lot of cooking time!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chris's BONUS Week Thirty-Two Recipe: Roasted Zucchini and Chickpea Soup

This recipe caught my eye and since there's always too much zucchini at this time of year, I decided to give it a try.

Roasted Zucchini and Chickpea Soup

1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 medium zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
1-15 oz can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
4-5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
approx 2 T olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
2 c vegetable broth
fresh parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet or jellyroll pan with aluminum foil.

Toss all ingredients with olive oil, salt and pepper. (Yes, the garlic cloves are still unpeeled at this point!) Spread out the mix on the baking sheet and bake for 35-40 min.

Peel and mince (or smoosh, if your garlic's really done!) the garlic. Toss all the ingredients into the vegetable broth and warm back up if necessary.

Garnish with fresh parsley and enjoy!

Would I make this recipe again? It was delicious! The original recipe suggested it would be good chilled and I was skeptical, but I tasted the leftovers right out of the fridge and promptly ate it all up chilled.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Jennifer's Week Thirty-Two BONUS Recipe: Savory Chicken Breasts

Last night, while scrounging for ingredients for my dinner, I came across several freezer bags containing chicken breasts. So today I was determined to either find a recipe or make one up without having to purchase anything from the store - and I was successful! Thanks to

Savory Chicken Breasts

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Place chicken breasts in a 9x13 pan. Season with black pepper to taste and top each breast to a slice of cheese.

3. Mix together the soup and the milk and pour it over the chicken. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top and drizzle with the melted butter. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Would I make this again? I think I have to. Chad's comment "Where did you get this recipe? My three favorite things in one dish!" Very comfort food-like. I think I may wait until the weather cools before I make it again

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Update: Experimental Cornbread

As previously stated in this post, I'm always fiddling around with a particular recipe for cornbread. Last weekend when I made Renaissance Meatloaf for Linda & Bruce, I also made a pan of experimental cornbread. I was running short on butter, so I substituted 1/4 c of Oilerie lemon olive oil for 1/4 c butter. The flavor was great, but the cornbread was underdone in the middle.

What I didn't know at the time was that the proper substitution for 1/4 c butter was 3 T of olive oil. So this weekend I tried a batch with 3T olive oil.

Have you caught my mistake?

Yeah, the recipe calls for 1/2 c butter! But you know, the darned cornbread turned out great anyway. I'm definitely going to have to keep experimenting.

Jennifer's Week Thirty-Two Recipe: Mango Rum Sauce

And now for dessert from my Bachelorette Night!

Mango Rum Sauce

1 mango, peeled and mashed
2 teaspoons of sugar, plus some to taste if needed
a healthy splash of rum

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it bubbles. Remove from heat and let it cool for a few minutes. Pour over a nicely sized serving of vanilla ice cream.

Would I make it again? Indeed!

Jennifer's Week Thirty-One Recipe: Ranch Cucumber Salad

Tonight I found myself left to my own devices for dinner. Normally when this happens I am a very bad girl and get takeout. Tonight I was determined to not do so and I daresay I succeeded. I made up two recipes tonight and this is the first.

Ranch Cucumber Salad

1 cucumber, peeled and sliced thin
1 shallot, diced
About 2 tablespoons Ranch dressing (I did not measure)
2 teaspoons sugar
a splash white vinegar
a healthy sprinkling of dill weed (Again, I did not measure)

Peel and thinly slice the cucumber and place in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let them think about themselves for a bit before rinsing and draining well. Place the cucumbers, shallot, dressing, vinegar and dill in a bowl and mix well. Place the bowl in the fridge and let the mix ponder for at least a half hour (the longer, the better).

Would I make this again? Well, maybe. The cucumber salad my step-dad used to make is far superior, but this did in a pinch with what I had in the house.

Chris's Week Thirty-Two Recipe: Farmer's Market Roasted Vegetables

The Woodbury Farmer's Market was chock full 'o delicious fruits and vegetables today, and as I carried home my string bags (yes, the carrots stick out a bit!) I thought it would be nice to make some vegetable casserole. But as I was searching around, this recipe caught my eye. A couple of notes:
  1. True confession: the red pepper came from Kowalski's. There weren't many peppers today at the farmer's market. But everything else is fresh from the market this morning!
  2. The original recipe calls for 1 T olive oil. When I added the herbs & spices to 1 T and shook to mix, the herbs just schlurped up the oil, so I wound up adding another tablespoon of oil. I think you could get away with 1 T if you drizzled the oil over the vegetables, then shook on the herbs & spices and tossed everything together.
  3. I substituted 2 t Penzey's Pasta Sprinkle for 1 t each dried basil & oregano. Yes, there's garlic in the Penzey's mix and yes, I added more minced garlic. I'm a bit like Linda and nutmeg when it comes to garlic.
Farmer's Market Roast Vegetables

about 20 fingerling potatoes, cut in half
5 medium-small carrots, cut in 1/2" slices
2 medium zucchini, cut in 1/2" slices
1 red pepper, cut into 1" chunks
1 banana pepper, cut into 1" chunks
2 T olive oil
2 t Penzey's Pasta Sprinkle
generous pinch of kosher salt
several grinds of black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced

Combine all the chopped vegetables in a large bowl. Mix together the olive oil, herbs & spices, then drizzle over the vegetables and toss to coat (or drizzle the oil over the vegetables, toss on the herbs & spices & toss to coat). Spread the vegetables in a 9x13" pan and cook 30-40 min at 375F or to the desired tenderness.

Would I make this recipe again? The real question is, why haven't I done so before?!?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Tricia's Week 31 Recipe: Garden-veggie Pasta Bake

It begins....the garden is beginning to share its wealth.  In my fridge I had two halves zucchini (the other halves were lost to smooshiness), two jalepenos, one green pepper, one red tomato and one yellow tomato.  In my cupboard, I had a container of Barilla Italian baking sause.  I thought to myself, hrmmm...I bet I could make something like a baked ziti, but with penne since that is what I have!  So, onto the internet I went to find a recipe to try.  I looked, and I looked and I looked, but nothing I found was what I wanted.  So, I did what I always do, I made it up!

Tricia's garden-veggie pasta bake.
1 lb penne noodles
1 jar Barilla Italian baking sause
1 garden zucchini (actually, two halves, each about 1 1/2 inch in diameter)
1 garden yellow tomato (lemon boy variety)
1 garden red tomato (better boy variety)
2 garden jalapeños
1 garden green pepper
2 giant handfuls of mozzarella cheese (maybe about 2 cups?  I should measure)
1/2-1 teaspoon granulated onion
1/2 - 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1-3 teaspoons Italian seasoning

  • Preheat oven to 350 (because everything is cooked at that temperature, it seems)
  • Start by boiling the water for the noodles.  Before you add the noodles, stick tomatoes in water for about 20 seconds and remove, so that their skins peal off easily.  Now, add pasta and cook al dente, about 9 minutes, drain and set aside
  • Cut up both tomatoes and zucchini (one inch cubes).  Add to pan and add all seasonings above along with a little olive oil to keep them from sticking.  Cook until most of the water from the tomatoes is gone.
  • Find a large bowl (large enough for all the above).  Cut up jalapeños, and green pepper into bite sized pieces. Add those to large bowl.  Open baking sauce and add that to large bowl, mix.  When tomatoes and zucchini are done, cool for a bit, then add to bowl and mix.  Add cheese and noodles and mix until all combined.
  • Take out a 3 qt casserole pan (I used a Pyrex 13x9in baking pan).  Add a bit of olive oil to this, and smear about to coat all surfaces.  Pour noodles, sauce, and veg into baking dish.  Put in oven.  I started baking this uncovered for 10 minutes, then changed my mind and covered for the remainder of the baking time.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly, and cheese is melted.
This was delicious!  I will definitely make it again.  Trevor says it can be made w/out the zucchini next time.  I like it that way, but think it would be good w/ other garden veg as well.

Tricia's Week 30 Recipe: Fruit Smoothies

Lately my neighborhood grocer has been offering fruits at buy one, get one free.  This is great, until you can't eat them all and they start to become smooshy!  The solution, a fruit smoothie. This may be cheating slightly, since I have made smoothies in the past, but never have they included raspberries or frozen yogurt.

Cut up and place in blender:
1 banana
10-15 strawberries (add as many as you have left in your container)
1/2 pint raspberries
1-4 to 1-2 cup lemonade
Blend.  Total blended fruit content should be about 2 cups.

Add to this enough fat free frozen yogurt (vanilla in this case) to make 4 cups blended smoothie.  Blend until smooth.

Pour into two glasses and share with a friend!

Would I make this again, yup!  And I did.  I ran out of banana but had strawberries and raspberries left.  (Update: Plain cantaloupe and frozen yogurt is good too!) If I decide to try smoothie with a cantaloupe and lime I will let you know. It sounds refreshing in my mind....

Friday, August 6, 2010

Erik's Guest Recipe: Pasta Salad Noodles with Red Sauce and Meat

When we were at the grocery store, Erik asked if he could pick out stuff for dinner so I said sure. He also claimed to have a recipe. I told him that I would post it on the blog for him, too. So, here you go. Don't expect anything too complicated - he is only six after all. I have tried to keep the recipe as it was told to me unless I felt the need to alter it for clarification.

Pasta Salad Noodles with Red Sauce and Meat

One box of tri-color rigatoni noodles (The tri-color aspect is very important! Monochromatic noodles would not be pasta salad noodles!)

One jar traditional tomato pasta sauce (Think Ragu)

A container of meat (In this case, a pound of lean ground beef)

Some seasonings and spices (salt, pepper and Italian Seasoning)

* Put the meat and seasonings in a pan. When the meat turns brown, pour in the sauce and mix it up really good.

*Boil some water in a big pot. When it starts boiling like crazy, dump in the box of noodles. Not the whole box, just the noodle part. When the noodles are cooked, dump them out into the draining thing (colander).

*Put some noodles in a bowl, then some sauce and meat on top and then some Parmesan cheese. And then you eat it!

Well, kiddo did hit on the mark with this one. Simple dish for me to prepare under his guidance and he ate it!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Jennifer's Week Thirty Recipe: Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

My brother-in-law was kind enough to watch Loki while Chad and I ventured to the North Shore for a few days and I decided to thank him by making him some cookies that he could munch on while he played his video games and talked to his girlfriend. I figured it was also a good time to try out a new recipe. My pantry had someone acquired many bags of chocolate chips, so in an effort to use some of them, I made these.


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional) (I used macadamia nuts)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In large bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; stir into the butter mixture until well blended. Mix in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or just until set. Cool slightly on the cookie sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

These cookies were Joe, Chad and Erik approved. Also, it has been 5 days since I made them and they are still soft. Very yummy and will be made again sometime in the future.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Karin's Updates to Previous Posts

After getting everything posted for the last few weeks, Chris very gently pointed out that I am actually a week ahead of what I had posted. Wonderful! I have now updated my weeks to the appropriate numbers. So, there will be a single Week 29, a single Week 30, and two recipes for Week 31.

I have also updated the response to the cookies from Week 31 - Mor Monsen. You can review it again, by clicking here.

Now, it's off to New York City, where I'll hopefully get ideas on what to make for Week 32!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Update: Spiced Red Wine JELLY!

Upon examining my jars of spiced red wine syrup this morning, it appears that lemon peel has enough natural pectin to produce jelly! I've now got what I consider a 'soft jelly', not stiff, but if you turn the jar sideways you don't get any flow.

What do you think? Serve with crackers and a strong cheese? Other ideas?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Chris's Week Thirty-One Recipe: Spiced Red Wine Syrup

The cognoscenti amongst you have already been wondering, "What is Chris going to do with the rest of that red wine she has leftover from last week's meatloaf recipe?" A very good question, considering that I'm not a fan of Cabernet Sauvignon... especially the $2.99 variety you get at Trader Joe's.

Linda suggested making bolognese sauce or using it to marinate meat, but doing a little creative searching online, I found this recipe from The Splendid Table. I've always enjoyed this radio show whenever I've caught it on NPR, so I thought I'd give the recipe a try. The only change I had to make was using 2 T Penzey's dried lemon peel instead of the zest of an orange (no oranges in the house!).

Spiced Red Wine Syrup

3 c red wine
1.5 c sugar
2 T Penzey's lemon peel (or the zest of one large orange)
pinch salt
1 heaping teaspoon black peppercorns, bruised with a mortar & pestle
1.5 t whole anise seed, bruised with a mortar and pestle
8 bay leaves, broken
6 whole cloves
4" cinnamon stick, broken
pinch ground nutmeg

Combine ingredients in a large skillet and simmer uncovered until syrupy. Stir often. The recipe calls for about 10 minutes in a 12" skillet, but it took 30 minutes in my 10" skillet. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 20 minutes.

Strain the syrup and return it to the pan to let boil for a few more minutes or until a spatula drawn across the bottom of the pan leaves a trail. Cool and refrigerate.

Would I make this recipe again? It's great for leftover wine! I tried a little over honey yogurt and it's quite good - slightly sweet and very spicy.

Karin's Bonus Week 31 Recipe: Poached Fish in White Wine

I think I've been watching too much Top Chef lately, as I seem to want to try out recipes and cooking techniques that seem complicated. We had some tilapia steaks that needed to be cooked before our trip to New York City later this week, so I was on a hunt for a fish recipe. This recipe also finished up the rest of the white wine from last week's bonus recipe. The recipe is from the Joy of Cooking, and once again, I had all the ingredients on hand, so I went ahead and tried out a new fish cooking method.

Poached Fish in White Wine

2 c dry white wine (I used Wollersheim Winery's Dry Riesling)
2 c water
2 T rice, sherry, or white wine vinegar (I used rice vinegar)
1 tsp salt
10 whole black peppercorns, Penzey's Tellicherry Black Peppercorns
10 coriander seeds (didn't have this, but used a scant 1/2 tsp of ground)
2 whole cloves (same situation as the coriander)
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove
several sprigs parsley, thyme, or tarragon, or 1/2 tsp dried (I used Penzey's French Thyme)
1.5-2lb fish steaks, rinsed

Find a pan big enough to hold the fish steaks in a single layer, and deep enough to hold the liquid. Place all ingredients other than the fish into the pan. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 min. Gently place fish into poaching liquid, cover the pan, and simmer for 8 min. Check for doneness. Remove fish when flesh is slightly translucent. Serve hot, at room temp, or chilled. Sauce is optional.

This recipe went together quickly and easily, and did not make the kitchen too hot. This was a bonus, as it was 85deg outside by 11am today. It also smelled really good while it was cooking. The poaching was much easier than I had thought, and I didn't even need a special fish poaching pan. This method of cooking kept the fish nice and moist, and gave it a nice light flavor. Nate voted to have it served with a sauce next time, due to the fact that he thought it was too boring in texture. I might try this again, now that I know how easy it is. I'll just have to find a sauce to go with it.

Karin's Week Thirty-one Recipe: Mor Monsen (Mother Monsen)

This week's recipe is a result of once again getting about 3.5 hr notice that my wonderful husband needed to bring something to work for the weekly potluck. Luckily, his assignment was dessert. That is something that I can generally make with out a trip to the store, and without it taking a lot of time. I've had a cookie recipe that I've wanted to try for awhile now, out of my Norwegian Recipes cookbook. The total number of ingredients in this recipe is 6, which makes it fairly simple. And Tricia, you'll like it because it necessitates the use of a kitchen scale.

Mor Monsen

8oz butter, softened
8oz sugar
5 eggs
8 oz plain flour
Chopped almonds
Chopped stoned raisins or currants (I used dried cranberries, as the other member of my household will not eat raisins, and I generally don't have dried currants on hand.)

Beat butter and sugar until white and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat thoroughly. Add the flour gradually. Grease a large shallow oven tin such as is used for roasting meat and sprinkle with flour. (I used a non stick 9x13, greased but not floured.) Pour in the mixture and smooth out with a spatula to a depth of 1/2". Strew thickly with chopped almonds and chopped stoned raisins or currants. (I think I used about 1 c of each, before chopping.) Bake in slow oven about 300deg for 30-40 minutes. Leave in the tin and while still warm, cut into small diamonds with a sharp pointed knife. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight tin.

Preliminary tasting of the batter said that this would be good. Additional tasting after baking, said the same. Now I am waiting for the feedback from the work crew. The only thing I'd do differently with this recipe is to just cut it into squares, as I am apparently not good at cutting diamonds - mine looked mostly like squares, and took way too long to cut. I'd also try and press the topping into the batter a bit, as I expected it to sink during the baking, and it didn't, causing a slight mess whilst eating. I think this could be good with other types of nuts or dried fruits, and may try that in the future. 

After hearing back from the work crew, I was informed that all tasting results were positive. Even considering there ended up being a picnic along the side of the road due to unfortunate timing of the meal. Apparently, both 2nd and 3rd shifts gave a thumbs up to this recipe. However, I also learned that my wonderful husband has not told the boys at work why he has to get feedback on everything he brings in as a dish to share. :)

Karin's Week Thirty Recipe: Liguine ai Gamberi (Liguine with Shrimp)

After looking at my posts, I am apparently off a week in our endeavor for new recipes, as I have another new recipe, apparently for Week Twenty-Nine. This one is from a brand-new cookbook I recently got, Cucina Rustica. It is recipes that are simple & Italian, which sounded right up my alley. I've also read about this cookbook previously, and it had gotten good reviews. Whilst reading through the pasta section, I came upon this recipe that allowed me to use the frozen shrimp I always have on hand.

Liguine ai Gamberi (Liguine with Shrimp)

1/4 EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
4 garlic cloves, peeled & minced
1/2 tsp red chile pepper flakes (or to taste)
3 lb red tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, approx. 4.5c*
1 c dry white wine
15 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 c chopped Italian parsley, leaves only
1lb medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 lb linguine (we did not have this, so I used spaghetti)

*Due to miscommunication, Nate only purchased 1.5lb of tomatoes at the store, but we did not peel & seed the tomatoes, so ended up with approximately the right amount.

Heat EVOO in a 10-12 inch skillet over low heat. Add the garlic & red chili pepper flakes to the oil and stir. Lightly saute the garlic until it smells rather garlicky, approx 1 min. Add the tomatoes and white wine to the skillet. Cover and cook the tomatoes over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until they begin to break down and release their juice. Add the basil and parsley. Stir frequently and continue cooking over moderate heat, cover removed, until the tomatoes and wine form a sauce (this is still very runny consistency for a sauce), approx 10-15 min.

Add the shrimp to the sauce and cook over high heat just until the shrimp are tender, or just until pink. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until it is al dente. Drain the pasta, and add it into the pan with the sauce. Toss the pasta with the sauce over high heat so that the pasta starts to absorb the sauce. Serve immediately.

Note: We used a normal frying pan approx 10 in in diameter. This is not the right size pan! We ended up adding the sauce to the pasta, instead of the other way around. Use a large DEEP pan if you are going to follow the directions.

This recipe, contrary to my last one, turned out delicious! It was very flavorful, and had just a hint of spice. The shrimp absorbed the flavors really well. We also had it as cold leftovers, and it still tasted great. Nate's response was that I can definitely make this one again. It was super easy and smelled great while cooking. I'm now wondering how it would taste using chicken. This one will get marked in the book for future use.

Karin's Week Twenty-Nine Recipe: Chicken in Peanut Sauce

I had some chicken breasts that were needing to be used up, and thought, why not try a new Indian recipe? I had all the ingredients for this recipe from Six Spices: A simple concept of Indian cooking, and it looked pretty tasty and quick to make.

Chicken in Peanut Sauce

2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
3/4 c water, divided
4 T oil
1 large onion, chopped very fine
2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 tsp salt
1 T lemon juice
2 tsp brown sugar
4 T crushed peanuts

In a small bowl, mix coriander, turmeric, and chili powders with 1/4 c of the water to make a paste. Set aside. In a nonstick frying pan, heat oil. When oil is hot, add chopped onions and saute until onions become soft and translucent.

Add spice paste. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, adding a tablespoon of 1/4 c of water at a time until you reach a 1/4 cup added.  Add chicken; stir to coat pieces with the spices. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add salt and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 cup of water. Add brown sugar and peanuts. Cook for another 5-10 minutes. Serve with boiled rice.

Although this recipe had ingredients that looked good, the recipe itself was really bland. Even for me. It really didn't taste like much of anything. I thought it might get better if I let it sit in the fridge overnight, but nope, still bland. Both Nate and I were rather disappointed, and agreed to continue the quest for a better, more flavorful recipe for Peanut Sauce.