If at first you don't succeed... order pizza.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Welcome Fall!

Is anyone still out there??

I can't believe I haven't posted anything since the middle of July-- and that was just pictures!! :/
It seems that adding yummy recipes and photos just continued to get pushed farther and farther towards the bottom of my to-do list.

I know I still haven't added the recipes to the last post, and I have so many photos and recipes to add from the summer, but since it is now Fall, I thought I would do a quick post on a few fall recipes and backtrack to the rest.

Because, let's face it, if I don't do these now, you won't be reading them until Christmas!

The first thing is applesauce... homemade, orchard picked applesauce... yum. And it couldn't be simpler! Seriously! Besides using an apple mill, which I inherited from my mother-in-law's grandma (?), all you need is a large pot, apples, cinnamon and sugar. Easy Peasy.

Well let's get started:
Step 1: Go to the apple orchard and pick some apples... Ok, I guess you can just go to the grocery store, but it won't be as fun! (Plus I think apples you pick yourself taste sooo much better)

We picked Wealthy, McIntosh and Cortland (all great baking and drying apples)

Step 2: Wash about 12 apples. Cut into quarters and cut out any bad spots.
Step 3: Add to a large stock pot (peels, seeds and all!) with an inch or two of water.

Step 4: Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer (covered) for two hours, or until all apples are falling apart and the sauce has thickened slightly.

Now comes the fun part!
Step 5: Place apple mill over a large glass bowl. Start ladling the apples into the food mill and use the wooden dowel to push the softened apples and juice through the tiny holes in the side. It is best to use a circular motion for this. Continue until all apples have been turned to sauce :)

Just look at how little is left behind! All those seeds and skin that were used to flavor the sauce and lend their nutrients have been reduced to next to nothing.

Step 5: Sweeten and Flavor. Depending on how sweet you like it you can adjust these amounts to your own tastes, but I add 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp. ground cinnamon. These amounts just lend a touch of sweetness while still letting the apple flavor shine through.

Step 6: Put into jars and enjoy! This recipe made enough to fill two large jars (think spaghetti sauce size). We put one in the freezer and are still eating the other! In fact, I am enjoying a bowl right now :)

On to recipe #2: PIZZA!!!

Now I know there is nothing about pizza that screams Fall but hear me out. These little mini pizzas are made with simple ingredients that can always be kept on hand, whether in the fridge or the freezer. They are easier, faster and tastier than a bagel bite... and you use real cheese! :)

Oh right, why Fall? Well I don't know about you but, besides the wondrous weather change, Fall (to me) means adding just a few more things to my schedule. Wednesday morning bible study picks up, MOPs picks up, school starts and life gets a little hectic.

So what is a mother to feed her children/family when there just isn't any time to make anything else (either after school when the kids are famished or after a morning activity when the time because getting home and nap is short) ?

Yup, you got it, these pizzas.

Ok enough about the why, how about the how!

For these pizza's I started with a deli thin. I know you've seen them in the stores, buns that are 1/4 the thickness that they should be? They have much fewer calories and more whole grains than regular buns and bread. And who doesn't need help getting more whole grains into their children? Oh who am I kidding, who doesn't need help getting more whole grains into themselves??

So split open a deli thin (I used honey whole wheat) and toast in your toaster oven (or regular toaster).

Once toasted, place on a baking sheet and switch the toaster oven to broil (or turn on your broiler). Spread with a spoonful of spaghetti sauce, add some pepperoni and whatever other toppings you choose, and then top with cheese! I like to keep pepperoni and shredded cheese in my freezer. They thaw incredibly quickly and the pepperoni can even be put on these pizzas frozen.

Once topped, place under the broiler until the cheese melts. We had these for lunch today and they just hit the spot! Like I said earlier, they make a great quick lunch, but they are also the perfect size for an after school snack-- small enough not to ruin the dinner appetite but just enough to ward off those hunger pains for a few more hours:)
Now to leave you with a little cutie love :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Stay tuned...

Got some yummy recipes coming your way! Stay tuned :)

Fresh roasted tomato and garlic spaghetti

Egg salad lettuce cups :)

Pretzel dogs... you can find the recipe here: A Dash of Sass

Chocolate pavlova... mmm ;)

Homemade pickles :)

Grilled veggies... hey I can do this recipe right now! 1) pick your favorite veggies... 2) cut about 1/2 inch thick... 3) drizzle with olive oil and your favorite seasoning... 4) grill until they have reached your desired doneness... (in the picture are summer squash, zucchini, red and yellow peppers and onions)

Carmelized onion, cheddar and bacon stuffed burgers...
Also to come:
-Greek Salad Bruschetta
-Cheddar Garlic Mashed Potatoes
-The best ever marinated, grilled salmon
-Marinated Flank Steak

Peanut Butter Stuffed Chocolate Cookies.... A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

So I found this recipe one day while I was doing my daily search of allrecipes.com. I immediately wished my cookie jar was already full of them so I knew it was a definite must-save recipe. So I saved it.

But that just wasn't good enough for me. I had to make them. So I put in a Dora tape, gave Mayce a snack and some apple juice and headed for my kitchen :)

To say these cookies are easy to make is a complete understatement. I am not a baker. But if you can read a recipe, you can make these cookies.

And I am proud to say that not even four days later, my cookie jar is empty- that's right- I have eaten pretty much every single one of them. And it won't be empty for long, as soon as I get more butter, I am making these little delights once again.

Magic Peanut Butter Middles

I took the advice of some of the reviewers and decreased the amount of sugar in the dough from 1/2 cup of each brown and white sugar to 1/3 cup of each- it is definitely sweet enough and the chocolate tastes much more rich without so much sugar in the dough. I also added 1 Tbl of milk as the very last step of the dough. Some of the reviewers said they had a problem with the dough being too crumbly and hard to wrap around the peanut butter so I think this helped moisten it up a bit.

The peanut butter mixture takes a little time to mix together. I finally gave up using a spoon after a few minutes of getting nowhere and just went in with my hands. Kneading it and letting the heat from your hands warm up the peanut butter a little really helped get the mixture together. It will look a lot like play-do when you are done with it.

I also took the time to divide both the chocolate batter and the peanut butter mixture into thirty balls before I started putting them together. This way I was sure not to waste any part of this delightful cookie. (Quick tip, form both mixtures into a log-like the chocolate mixture above- and cut it into three sections. Then cut each of those sections into half and make 5 balls out of each part.)

In the recipe, there isn't really a clear direction on how to wrap the chocolate dough around the peanut butter ball. I found that if you flatten one of your pre-measured chocolate balls into a disc, they are a cinch to wrap around the peanut butter.

I only needed to use two large jelly-roll pans to bake all thirty cookies. They do not spread as you bake them, so a lot of extra room is not needed.

Before you bake them, dip a small drinking glass into a bowl of sugar and flatten the cookies to about a 1/2 inch thick.
The recipe says to bake them for 7-9 minutes. I baked mine for the full 9 minutes. The tops of the cookies will still seem like they are not finished cooking but as long as the edges have set up, the tops will firm up as the cookies cool.
Pour yourself a large glass of milk and enjoy! Speaking from experience, these cookies make the perfect breakfast, lunch or dinner. Just make sure you spend the rest of your day on the treadmill ;)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Summertime Treats :)

These are some of my favorite summer time treats...

Chex Mix
Mix in large roasting pan:
6 cups chex (corn or rice)
6 cups plain cheerios
4-5 cups cheddar crackers (goldfish, whales, cheeze-its...)
2 cups wheat chex
1 bag goldfish pretzels
2 cups mixed nu
1.5 sticks butter
Add 2 Tbl. garlic salt, a little less than 1 Tbl. season salt and the same of onion powder, 1 Tbl. Worcestershire sauce. Mix well and pour over dry ingredients, tossing until all are evenly coated.
Bake at 250 for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

Here is Mayce enjoying a homemade strawberry popsicle that we made in my new Zoku frozen pops maker... I highly suggest getting one of these! I have only made one kind of popsicle so far but I am already addicted! I can't wait to make chocolate pudding pops, strawberry lemonade pops, rootbeer float bars... maybe even a mojito pop!! ;)

This is the Zoku pop maker, you just pop this little thing in the freezer, wait 24 hours, and then fill it with any kind of juice or blended fruit that you like! Wait 7-10 minutes and then just pop them out! It is amazing :)

Strawberry Pops:
2 cups chopped strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
Splash lemonade and limeade
Blend in blender until fully incorporated but still a bit chunky.
Pour into Zoku molds or into your own popsicle molds.

Donut Muffins!!!
Lovely little pastries... mix together a few ingredients, bake them in a mini muffin pan, dip in butter and then in cinnamon sugar... tastes like an old-fashioned donut... mm mm good. You could probably even skip the butter step and just roll the hot muffins in the cinnamon sugar and it would still stick pretty well I bet. Find the recipe here!

Pasta Salad :)
Yes I know, pasta salad is simple. But that is what makes this salad so good. I like to make it with regular pasta or even with tortellini... perfect for picnics, potlucks or just lunch and dinner at home!
1 lb. pasta (cooked and semi-cooled)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 jar black olives, drained
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, diced
1/3 lb. thick cut pepperoni, diced
1 pkg Good Seasonings Italian dressing (prepared according to package directions)
Mix everything together, chill.

Yes, I am still alive and cooking ;)

Ok... to start off... I think it is only fair for me to apologize for my lack of posts lately. I am going to make a bunch of excuses but I will start by saying I am sorry. I have no idea how many people actually read this blog or are interested in my recipes but if any of you are, I apologize for being so delinquent lately.
As for my excuses? Well, I really haven't been cooking! It is summer, so we try to grill as much as the weather and our schedules will allow. And once you post on steak or chicken, there isn't much left to add. And as far as our schedules go, Alex plays baseball or softball more nights than he is home (ok I might be exaggerating here a little, but it is my blog so I can do that right?) and how exciting is it to post on hot dogs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches??
So the following recipes/photos are from quite a while ago, but they stretch 2-3 weeks and incorporate a lot of the same ingredients- which helps during menu planning and keeps the costs low!
I hope you enjoy them and try a few!

Baked Chicken and Cheese Taquitos with Avocado-Mango Salsa
I could eat a big ol' bowl of this salsa with a spoon. It is so light and refreshing and amazing. And the taquitos aren't bad either. ;)
For the taquitos-
Saute 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite size pieces) in a non-stick pan sprayed with cooking spray with a few shakes of onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder and salt and pepper. Once fully cooked, place in a large glass bowl to cool slightly.
Heat 8-10 small tortillas wrapped in a towel in the microwave for about 30 seconds, until warm.
Divide the chicken amongst the tortillas and top with as much shredded cheddar cheese as you like. (The cheese is my fave part, especially when it oozes out the ends of the taquitos while baking and gets all crispy and chewy on the pan!)
Next, wrap the tortillas up tightly and place on a greased baking sheet. Then spray all the tops and sides with the cooking spray as well- this helps the tortillas get nice and crispy, as if they were fried!
Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until they are at your desired crispness. You will want to watch the edges because they tend to brown the fastest and remember that the tortillas will crisp as they cool slightly.
I even tried adding some mango to a few of the taquitos before I baked them and I loved it! Alex wouldn't even try it so I don't have a second opinion but I thought it was delicious, like a Hawaiian pizza, sweet and salty :) And feel free to add your own favorite ingredients to the fillings... jalapenos, black beans, sauteed peppers and onions... the sky is the limit.

For the salsa- simple, simple, simple
Dice up 2 mangoes and two small (or one large avocado).
Mix with a splash of lemon juice and a pinch of salt.

Sausage, Shrimp, and Tomato Kabobs (my own version of this Bon Appetit recipe)
I saw this magazine on the cover of Bon Appetit's June issue and knew right away I had to make them. Kabobs filled with plump, juicy shrimp, baby tomatoes, red onion and salty, savory andouille sausage are my idea of the perfect main dish. I mean, what else do you need?? ;)
The original recipe includes a smoky paprika glaze that you coat the skewers with while grilling them. However, I had my own idea of a glaze I thought would work perfectly for these. Kind of my (well originally my mothers- with a few of my own ingredients added) idea of a homemade barbecue sauce.

Take equal amounts of ketchup and brown sugar, mix well and then add a few dashes of onion powder and garlic powder. For this one recipe, I used about 3/4 cup of each the ketchup and the brown sugar. You can use a little less brown sugar than ketchup if you aren't a fan of super sweet barbecue sauces.

When you grill the kabobs, grease the grates of the grill before putting the kabobs on. Once you flip the kabobs, put the glaze on the cooked side. Then when you flip them again, the glaze on the first side will cook a bit and somewhat carmelize as you put the glaze on the other side. Then flip once more the cook the sauce on the second side and they are done!

BLTTA ;) Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Turkey and Avocado Sandwich
This sandwich is so good and so easy (which makes it even better!) There is no need for mayo because the avocado is so creamy! The amounts of ingredients really vary from person to person, I like a little less turkey and bacon on mine and a little more avocado but Alex prefers more meat- so make them how you like! Just toast a few slices of your favorite bread, layer on the ingredients and enjoy!
Oh, a little hint-- I have found that if you sprinkle the tomatoes with a little salt and pepper after cutting them, it really makes them taste 100% better.

The perfect summer salad... Mixed greens, Mango, Strawberries, Chicken and Raspberry Walnut vinaigrette. I could eat this for all three meals every single day during the summer (and I probably should! My clothes wouldn't be so tight!) You can put any variety of berries on top that you like- blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and don't forget the mango. I love the ataulfo mangoes because they are incredibly sweet and the large crates at Sam's Club last me weeks! (I also use them in the avocado-mango salsa and my favorite pork chops with mango salsa!) I also enjoy putting candied pecans on top for a special treat every once in a while.
Candied Pecans (I haven't actually tried this recipe, but since I eyeball mine whenever I make it I thought I would actually look a recipe up, I will try this and if it is no good I will find another one and repost) From Emeril Lagasse :
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pecans and cook, stirring, until golden brown and toasted, 3 minutes. Add the sugar and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer to a piece of waxed paper to cool.

Yield: 1/2 cup candied pecans

Sausage, Pepper and Onion Subs
Wow, I feel like simplicity has kind of been the theme of this post! This recipe is no different-- well I made my own french bread (which in the bread machine is still more simple than it sounds!) but you can definitely buy yours-- all you need is cooked sausage (like andoille, you find it near the hot dogs and bacon), a bell pepper or your choosing, an onion, some mozzerella cheese and a small amount of warmed up spaghetti sauce if you like dipping things as much as I do :)
Heat a large, non-stick skillet or med-high heat.
Cut the sausage into small, bite size pieces and the pepper and onion into thin strips.
Saute the sausage first until they begin to release some of their oils and then add the peppers and onions. This will allow the sausage to get warmed through and a little crispy while maintaining a little crunch in the veg.
Next, heat the broiler, slice the bread down the top (make sure you don't go all the way through), fill with as much sausage mixture as you wish, top with shredded mozzerella cheese and broil until browned and bubbly.

And finally! Turkey Pitas.
This recipe is also my mother's and I am pretty sure it was created by her in an attempt to satisfy her craving for a sandwich she used to eat while living on Maui, after she didn't live there anymore. (Right, mom?)
You know those quarter pound or half pound turkey breasts that you see all shrink wrapped by the deli meat section that you've always wondered what you'd do with? Well buy some up, because you are going to want to make these!
And you may also want to pick up some pitas, alfalfa sprouts and avocado-- if you want to make this dish, that it ;)
Just place the turkey in a covered baking dish and bake at 350 for about a half hour, you just want it to be warmed through.
Then mix 1/2 cup mayo with 1/2 cup ketchup and a Tbl. of honey. This thousand island type dressing brings the whole pita together.
Once the turkey is warmed, just slice and layer in the pita with a few slices of fresh avocado, some dressing and top with a nice bunch of sprouts. Mm-mmm.

AND... if you happen to have some turkey left over (which I usually plan on) you can make this spin on the D'Amico turkey, cherry pasta salad. (Also a recipe my mother tried-successfully- to replicate)
Dice up the turkey, cook some pasta (amount would depend on how much turkey you have), mix with some dried cherries, chopped smoked almonds and creamy, poppyseed dressing.
Great anytime of the day!

Monday, June 14, 2010

New Page!

Hello Readers!! I have added a new page! :)

Check it out--it is called Dishes Galore.

I will try my very hardest to post some new recipes and photos tomorrow, hope you all are having a great week!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Recipe Request!: Dowel Picnic

I am pretty sure this is a Dishes and Disasters first! A recipe request!! :)

I had a good friend from Rochester write me today and ask if I could post on... let's see how she put it, "those tasty things we used to make around the campfire at your parents. It was like dough on a stick and then you cooked it over the fire and pulled it off and filled it with cheese and some kind of sauce..."

I just had to use her words because they perfectly describe this fantastic dish from my childhood.

They are called Dowel Picnic and my family has been making them for probably more than 15 years. Where they came from? I am not completely sure. What are they? Besides amazing, you mean?

Dowel picnic is a meal in a biscuit, and yet you don't even have to turn on the oven. (And according to my sister, making them in the oven doesn't even compare!) All you need for this summer favorite is a campfire, some thicker dowels (about 1.5 inches across), peanut butter, large raw buttermilk biscuits, shredded cheddar cheese, and leftover spaghetti meat sauce.

Sound confusing? Let me explain.

Once the fire has burnt down to mainly coals. Take the wooden dowel and a small amount of peanut butter and spread it thinly on one tip and down that side about 6 inches (this allows the biscuit to slide off easily).

Next, take one buttermilk biscuit, place the center directly on the tip of the dowel and slowly stretch it thinly down the peanut butter covered end. You will want to make sure you do this gently to avoid tears. Be careful to maintain the same thickness so the entire biscuit cooks evenly.

Then, cook it over the coals. You will want to use the rotisserie method and turn the biscuit quite frequently to prevent burning. Remember, you are cooking a biscuit here and not a hot dog. Simply charring the outside will not cut it. Another tip? The tip burns easily so make sure it isn't always pointing down into the fire.

Once the biscuit is completely cooked (takes about 5-10 minutes, depending on the heat of the coals) simply slide it directly off the dowel. Be careful, its hot!

Finally! Fill with cheese and warm spaghetti sauce and enjoy!!

The actual filling strategy has seemed to evolve over the years. At the beginning, we would alternate small amounts of cheese with small amounts of sauce in order to ensure getting some of each in every bite. Now we have figure out that if you cut it in half length-wise and just fill each half with cheese and then cover it with sauce, you a) get to enjoy it twice for the same amount of work and b) it takes a lot of the work out of the stuffing part of dowel picnic.

You can take your pick, if you want this to be a completely knife and fork free meal then just alternate fillings and there ya go! :)

Trust me, give this dish a try. You will most likely be making it 15 years from now.

If you don't have leftover spaghetti sauce, here is my mom's recipe:
Saute 1/2 cup diced onions and 1/2 cup diced celery in a small amount of butter until soft and translucent.
Add 1 lb. ground beef and cook until completely browned.
Add one jar of Prego (whichever flavor you prefer) and simmer for about 30 minutes.

(Correct me if any parts of this are wrong mom!)