Friday, November 20, 2009

Powerball Recipe - super snacks for super kids

Power Ball Cookie Recipe: Healthy snacks for your little ones.

Mix together 1 cup peanut butter and 1 cup honey until smooth.

Gradually add in 3 cups old-fashioned oats and 1/2 cup ground flaxseed.

Add one cup chocolate chips and 1 cup any combo of nuts and soft dried fruit and mix gently in your standard mixer or mush together by hand.

Roll into ping-pong size balls and put into mini muffin cups.

You can eat them right away, but they’ll be less sticky after a night in the fridge.

Recipe found in Wondertime Magazine

Thank you Jess for letting me use this!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Meatball Soup

MmmmMMMMMMMm .... it's always cloudy with a chance of meatballs at our house. After reading the book "Grandpa's Soup" with Dominic a dozen times, I decided I wanted to make my own meatball soup. I did it in the crock pot since I was teaching RE tonight and needed to have a low-maintenance meal for Daddy to serve. It was delicious!

Mamma Mia Meatball Soup (I just made that up. I'm SO clever I can't take it! :)

meatball mixture

- 1 lb ground beef
- garlic cloves, 2
- italian bread crumbs - maybe about 3/4 cup, I eyeball it and mix in slowly
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Mix, round into balls, pour a little olive oil in a skillet, cover them and cook for about 10 mins on medium high, then turn over until they finish.

crock pot soup mixture

-small baking potatoes (4) OR pasta of your choice, penne, bowtie, wagon wheels etc.
- 14 oz diced tomatoes
- 3 cups beef broth
-2 crushed garlic cloves
-1/2 cup parmesan cheese
-salt and pepper to taste
- frozen veggies, toss in at the last hour

Combine ingredients in crock pot, stir. Add meatballs once those are done cooking. Slow cook on low for about 3-4 hours. Serve with parmesan cheese on top!

*** If you add pasta instead of potatoes, make sure to add 3 more cups of beef broth or pre-boil the pasta...the noodles soak up all the moisture!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mom's Lasagna

I recently hosted my husband's colleagues. It was a big group, so I needed something that would feed a lot of people while not tying me up in the kitchen. I thought Italian would be the best option and Lasagna would be perfect. While everyone seems to have a favorite lasagna recipe, and I, myself, have made several variations in the past, my mom's lasagna always comes out perfectly. I wanted to share it and also keep it for posterity. I'm not sure where the recipe comes from, but this is what she uses:

1 lb ground beef
1 lb lasagna noodles (no need to cook!)
32 oz tomato sauce
1 lb ricotta (or cottage cheese)
1 egg (my addition for easier spreading ability)
1/2 lb shredded mozzarella
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375
2. In a saucepan, brown meat. Drain fat and add sauce to the meat.
3. Mix 1 egg with ricotta cheese.
4. On the bottom of a 9x13 pan, pour 1 C of meat mixture, then layer:
1/2 noodles, 1/2 ricotta cheese/egg mixture, 1/2 mozzarella cheese, (1/2 parmesan cheese,) sauce, repeat.
5. Cook at 375 for about 30 minutes or until noodles are done, cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling.

It's perfect as it is, but there are so many ways to vary this recipe. My mom has made a half beef, half Italian sausage mixture which turns out well. I roasted some red and yellow peppers with 1/2 onion that I then mixed with the ricotta cheese mixture. It was yummy! To be a bit healthier, you could use whole wheat noodles, easily cut out the parmesan cheese, use the mozzarella cheese sparingly, and make sure you are using a lowfat ricotta. It's also a great recipe to sneak in vegetables. I've used fresh spinach in the past. If you make your own sauce, there is so much you can add and the kids won't even notice it! Enjoy!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Gluten Free living

Most of my posts will consist of gluten-free recipes I've tried, the good, bad and the flat out nasty. Case in point: DO NOT try the Bob's Red Mill Hearty Whole grain Bread Mix, even the smell made me nauseous. DO try the new Betty Crocker gluten-free line, I've made the cookies a couple of times and that wonderful yellow box has earned a spot on my pantry shelf as a staple.

I made The Chewy Gluten Free cookies from Alton Brown. They were ok , though I can't recommend them; I think I should have used Katrina's ( otherwise known as the Glutenfreegoddess) alternations.

Also made last week and HIGHLY recommended:

Banana Chocolate Chip BreadPreheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil the bottom of a standard bread loaf pan and dust with rice or corn flour.

Combine in a large bowl:

3-4 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup puree)
1/3 cup light olive oil
1 cup organic light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk together in a separate bowl:

1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (I used a combo of buckwheat/rice/tapioca/potato starch)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons arrowroot starch
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 rounded teaspoon cinnamon

Add the dry ingredients into the banana mixture and stir until smooth. If the batter looks too thin and wet, add more gluten-free flour, a tablespoon at a time, to thicken the batter.

Add in:

1/2 cup vegan soy-free chocolate chips (we used Enjoy Life)

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake in the center of a preheated oven for an hour, until the loaf is firm, a bit crusty, and a wooden pick inserted into the center emerges clean.

Cool the loaf on a wire rack.

Slice and wrap each slice in foil; bag and freeze.

This bread is tasty as is, but- it is truly sublime when grilled in a hot iron skillet with a touch of light olive oil. The chocolate chips melt and the banana fragrance intensifies and your taste buds- well, they get very, very happy.

Makes about 8 or so slices.

This recipe is blissfully gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, nut-free, and corn-free (if you check the source of your xanthan gum and baking powder).
Read more:

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pesto Pasta Salad with Fresh Mozzarella and Cherry Tomatoes

This is my FAVORITE pasta salad. Quick, tasty, healthy, easy and beautiful! Recipe credits I hand to my Mom. :)

1 box penne pasta (spring for whole wheat if you can bear it!)
1 package fresh mozzarella balls
1 package Knorr's creamy pesto sauce packet (or make your own basil sauce from scratch)
1 package cherry tomatoes

Boil pasta. Prepare sauce in saucepan as directed. Chop fresh mozzarella and tomatoes into small pieces. Rinse and drain pasta to cool it off. Pour pesto sauce over it and stir well. Add chopped tomatoes and mozzarella, mix in well. ENJOY!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Beef and Rice Stuffed Bell Peppers

Taken from Simply Recipes online.


* 4 green or red bell peppers
* Salt
* 5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
* 1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
* 1 lb of lean ground beef
* 1 1/2 cup of cooked rice or 3/4 cup of raw instant rice
* 1 cup chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned
* 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp of dried oregano
* Fresh ground pepper
* 1/2 cup ketchup
* 1/2 tsp of Worcestershire Sauce
* Dash of Tabasco sauce


1 Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, cut top off peppers 1 inch from the stem end, and remove seeds. Add several generous pinches of salt to boiling water, then add peppers and boil, using a spoon to keep peppers completely submerged, until brilliant green (or red if red peppers) and their flesh slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Drain, set aside to cool.

2 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat 4 tbsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat, add meat, rice, tomatoes, and oregano, and season generously with salt and pepper. Mix well.

3 Drizzle remaining 1 tbsp. Oil inside peppers, arrange cut side up in a baking dish, then stuff peppers with filling. Combine ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and 1/4 cup of water in a small bowl, then spoon over filling. Add 1/4 cup of water to the baking dish. Place in oven and bake for 40-50 minutes (or longer, depending on how big the peppers are that you are stuffing), until the internal temperature of the stuffed pepper is 150-160°F.

Serves 4.

****** I took a short cut on this one big time, just because I'm lucky to get 20 minutes to cook dinner on a weeknight these days! I just browned the beef, added Italian seasonings and then added a jar of organic spaghetti sauce. I did boil the bell peppers, and then filled them, added parmesan cheese on top, and then baked for about 20 mins at 350. They turned out dee-lish. I made brown rice to add as stuffing but then put it on the side for the kids, who like their meat sauce on top of their rice, with plenty of parm :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hot Cross Buns (A Good Friday tradition)

The Triduum, also known as Holy Week, is the most important and wonderful time of the church year. It is the time right before Easter that we meditate on Jesus' life, ministry, passion and cruxifiction. And then we celebrate our Lord's resurrection with the greatest joy our hearts will ever experience on Easter.

There are so many traditions we love and cherish during Holy Week, and making Hot Cross Buns is just one way of sharing the church's traditions.

1 C milk
2 T yeast
1/2 C sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/3 C butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
4 eggs
5 C flour
1 1/3 C currants or raisins
1 egg white

1 1/3 C confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 tsp. finely chopped lemon zest
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1- 2 T milk

Makes 2 dozen

If you're not familiar with making yeast breads, please follow this link for general instructions first!

In a small saucepan, heat milk to very warm, but not hot (110°F if using a candy thermometer). Fit an electric mixer with a dough hook. Pour warm milk in the bowl of mixer and sprinkle yeast over. Mix to dissolve and let sit for 5 minutes.

With mixer running at low speed, add sugar, salt, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and eggs. Gradually add flour, dough will be wet and sticky, and continue kneading with dough hook until smooth, about 5 minutes. Detach bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough "rest" for 30-45 minutes.

Return bowl to mixer and knead until smooth and elastic, for about 3 more minutes. Add currants or raisins and knead until well mixed. At this point, dough will still be fairly wet and sticky. Shape dough in a ball, place in a buttered dish, cover with plastic wrap and let rise overnight in the refrigerator (see note at right if you're in a hurry). Excess moisture will be absorbed by the morning.

Let dough sit at room temperature for about a half-hour. Line a large baking pan (or pans) with parchment paper (you could also lightly grease a baking pan, but parchment works better). Divide dough into 24 equal pieces (in half, half again, etc., etc.). Shape each portion into a ball and place on baking sheet, about 1/2 inch apart. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

In the meantime, pre-heat oven to 400° F.

When buns have risen, take a sharp or serrated knife and carefully slash buns with a cross. Brush them with egg white and place in oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° F, then bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack. Whisk together glaze ingredients, and spoon over buns in a cross pattern. Serve warm, if possible (Hot Cross Buns).

Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger Pie

This was first brought into my life by my Mother in Law Veronika and became the first official dish I made for company after Bronius and I got married. :)

1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz)
1/2 cup Original Bisquick® mix
1 cup milk
2 eggs

Total Time: 10 min
1. Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray.
2. In 10-inch skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain. Stir in salt. Spread in pie plate. Sprinkle with cheese.
3. In small bowl, stir remaining ingredients with fork or wire whisk until blended. Pour into pie plate.
4. Bake about 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Chicken in a Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Wine Sauce with Pasta

Chicken in a Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato and Wine Sauce served over Pasta
3 T butter
1 T olive oil
4 lg boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into strips
2 T all purpose flour
1 lb bowtie pasta
2 shallots, monced (I used garlic cloves)
1/2 c white wine
1 c whipping cream
1/2 c oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 T chopped fresh basil
salt & pepper

1. Bring large quantity of salted water to a boil in a stockpot.
2. Melt butter and oil in a large skillet. Toss chicken strips in flour and sear over med-high heat until golden brown and just cooked. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate.
3. Add pasta to boiling water. Add shallots to the skillet and saute over medium heat for 1 minute. Stir wine, cream, tomatoes, and basil into the skillet, scraping up bits of chicken. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the sauce thickens.
4. Return chicken to skillet to heat through. Salt & pepper to taste.
5. When pasta is al dente, drain, reserving 1/2 c water to add to sauce if it needs more liquid, or for added richness, add more cream. Serve sauce over pasta.

Serves 4-6

Courtesy of diva cook and dear friend Stephanie Arnold.

Chicken with Rosemary Sauce

Chicken with Rosemary Sauce
Chicken with Rosemary Sauce Cooking Light recipe WW 4 points
1 t Olive Oil
4 4 oz breast halves
1/4 t salt
1/8 t black pepper
1/2 c chopped green onions
1/4 c dry white wine
1 t minced fresh rosemary
1/2 c chicken broth (fat-free and low sodium)
1/2 c half & half

1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with S & P.
2. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side.
3. Add green onions, wine, & rosemary; cook 30 seconds.
4. Stir in broth; cook 2 minutes.
5. Add half & half; cook 2 minutes. Serve
183 calories; 6 g fat; 27.5 g protein, 0.5 g fiber

Courtesy of Stephanie

Greek Pizzas

We have these a lot during Lent. They are SO tasty! I like to make cous cous on the side.

Here's my spin on a quick greek pizza.

1 bag of pita bread
2 packages Feta cheese or 1 bag mozzarella cheese
canned olives
purple onion diced
4 roma tomatoes diced (or canned tomatoes work too)
hummus spread

Spread hummus on pitas. Sprinkle with cheese of choice. Layer with diced onions, tomatoes, olives and any other toppings. Bake in oven until pitas are a little crispy and cheese is melted. I usually make them in our toaster oven on "broil" for about 8 minutes.

Pumpkin pancakes

I am always looking for ways to stuff our kids' food with healthful ingredients. Pancakes in our home are not allowed to be served without fruit, it is just a rule of thumb! :)

1 cup flour
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 egg
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled, plus 1 tbsp for the skillet (I like smart balance...doesn't always taste as good as the real deal, but better for our health. booooo, I know)

1. Preheat a large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. In a bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients.
2. In a large bowl, beat the egg for 30 seconds. Add yogurt, pumpkin puree, and 2 tbsp melted butter and beat well.
3. Stir in dry ingredients and beat just until combined.
4. Grease skillet lightly with butter. Pour 1/4 cup batter per pancake; flip with spatula when tops bubble and edges are slightly dry. Cook until other side is golden brown, 23 mins per side.


No festive meal is complete without this sweet beverage!

Serving size 4.

1 cup red wine
3 cups cranberry juice
2 cups strawberries
2 medium chopped apples
1 orange, wedged
Cinnamon to taste

Mix all together in a pitcher and serve over ice!

Caprese Salad

As if the island of Capri isn't appealing enough, this salad alone could send me packing to Italy and never be seen again! :)

Caprese Salad Recipe

* 2 large, ripe tomatoes
* 1/2 pound fresh cow's milk mozzarella cheese
* 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and well-dried
* Maldon sea salt or kosher salt and pepper, to taste
* 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Wash and slice tomatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices. Slice mozzarella cheese into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place one tomato slice on a serving plate. Top with a few basil leaves, and a slice of mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with one-half tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Repeat with the remaining tomato, mozzarella, basil and olive oil. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 salads.

Per salad: 354 calories, 26 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 67 mg cholesterol, 11 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 21 g protein, 40% vitamin A, 80% vitamin C, 45% calcium, 8% iron

Read more:

Broiled Salmon with Rosemary Potatoes

This is usually our Monday night supper since I shop on Mondays and fish has to be eaten quickly! Sometimes we do brown rice instead of potatoes if we're trying to be less starchy.

-Salmon steaks
***1 steak is enough for two of us usually, so we get 2 for the whole family. HEB sells them pre-packaged and that saves money! It's good to avoid farm raised fish because of mercury content and instead buy wild alaskan sock-eye or the fresh atlantic variety.
- Lemons
-New potatoes, or russet, about 8
-Fresh rosemary (or use spice jar variety), sea salt to taste, olive oil to taste

Quarter the potatoes and boil them until soft. Then roast them along with the salmon with a little bit of sea salt and rosemary, maybe a dash of olive oil. After rinsing off the salmon I marinade it in some lemon juice and sprinkle with a little sea salt. You can also top it with fresh parsley or rosemary if you have extra on hand. I put it in the broiler (with or without the potatoes) for about 10 mins.

My Mom's Chicken Saag (Indian Chicken and Spinach)

Thanks Mama! I love you!


1 package of chicken breasts(usually three breasts per package)
2 bags of frozen chopped spinach
1 15 oz. can of tomato sauce
1 onion - chopped, then pureed in a blender
2 tablespoons of ginger-garlic
cilantro leaves-puree the leaves of about ten stems with the onion, garlic, ginger and some of the tomato sauce
Curry powder, cayenne powder
Sour cream (8 oz.)

1. Trim the breast of fat and arteries, then cut into smaller pieces(each breast into 4 pieces)
2. Coat a large glass baking dish with spray oil. Spread the frozen spinach out over the dish.
3. Lay the chicken pieces on top.
4. Mix together the ground onion, garlic, ginger,cilantro,spices and salt to taste, and mix in all of the tomato sauce and sour cream. Pour that over the chicken evenly.
5. Cover with aluminum foil, make slits to vent, and bake in oven at 375 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.

Enjoy with pita bread and raita.

Once the dish is cooked, you can transfer to other containers. You can double the ingredients, and using two glass baking dishes, bake two quantities if you need a larger quantity.


Roasted Fall Vegetable Pizza with Ricotta Cheese

I got this from Martha Stewart's site and I loved it. I made this for our supper club last fall and I think some of the veggies did not cook long enough, the cook time for the veggies was longer for us than described in the recipe. I think that would have enhanced the overall taste much more, but we really enjoyed it!


With just salt, pepper, a bit of oil, and a hot oven, nearly every vegetable becomes sublime.

To store: Let cool, place in an airtight container, and refrigerate up to 3 days. Pour off any accumulated liquid before using.

Prep: 20 minutes
Total: 1 hour 20 minutes

Serves 8; Makes about 12 cups

* 2 pounds (about 1 medium) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
* 2 pounds red new potatoes (12 to 14), well scrubbed and quartered
* 1 pound medium red onions (about 2 to 3), peeled and quartered
* 1 pound carrots (6 to 8 medium), halved lengthwise, if thick, and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
* 4 to 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* Coarse salt and ground pepper


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Divide vegetables and garlic between two rimmed baking sheets (or line with parchment paper, if desired, for easy cleanup); dividing evenly, toss with oil, 2 teaspoons coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
2. Roast until vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, 40 to 50 minutes, tossing them and rotating sheets from top to bottom halfway through. Serve hot or at room temperature.


Serves 4

* Olive oil, for baking sheet and drizzling
* Flour, for dusting surface
* 1 pound store-bought pizza dough, fresh, or thawed if frozen
* 8 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
* 6 cups (about 1/2 recipe) Roasted Fall Vegetables, drained and coarsely cut
* 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
* 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves (optional)
* Coarse salt and ground pepper


1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Brush a large baking sheet (preferably rimless) with oil, or line with parchment paper, if desired, for easy cleanup.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll and stretch dough into a 12-by-16-inch oval (or as large as will fit on baking sheet); transfer to sheet.
3. Sprinkle dough with half the mozzarella. Scatter vegetables on top, and dollop with ricotta; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and, if using, rosemary. Drizzle with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Bake until bubbling and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve.

Cat's Classic Chocolate Cake

I just love that alliteration. But I love this cake more. And Catharine even more! :)


1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup butter
1 cup chocolate morsels
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 cup chopped walnuts


2/3 cup chocolate morsels
2 tbsp butter
4 tbsp dark corn syrup
2 tsp milk

***Chopped nuts and fresh raspberries as topping


Preheat over to 350. Grease and flour 9 inch baking pan. Combine corn suryp and butter in a sauce pan, boil, stir continuously. Add chocolate until melted. Remove from heat. Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Blend in flour and walnuts. Pour mixture into pan. Bake until toothpick comes out clean , 30 mins. Cool and then turn out.

For glaze, combine chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a sauce pan, cook over low heat until chocolate melts. Remove from heat; stir in milk. Pour over cake. Let stand and serve with fruit and nut toppings - or preserves like Catharine does.

BLT sandwich

This is not a formal recipe but more like a lunch idea for you. This was my lunch obsession while I was pregnant with Milo.

Toasted whole grain bread with mayo on each side, nice hearty, crunchy romaine leaves down first, then salted/peppered roma tomatoes, and then two pieces of center-cut organic bacon. I usually indulge in some sea salt vinegar chips and wild blueberries on the side, and make a strawberry banana smoothie to drink.

Simple Scones

I watch the Barefoot Contessa during Dominic's naptime and she got me ALL in a tizzy about her strawberry scones yesterday. They were on my mind ALL day yesterday and today. All I wanted was a warm, buttery, subtly sweet biscuit with some tea! Her recipe is simple as it is, but I made it even simpler. Granted, these are not the truest scones fit for the Queen, but my Americanized version hit the spot for me in a pinch!

*2.5 cups flour (I used bisquick)
*1/2 cup sugar
*1/2 stick butter melted
*1/2 cup milk (heavy whipping cream is more rich, vanilla or lemon yogurt also yields an interesting flavor and texture)
* A handful of whatever you have on hand (raisins, walnuts, chocolate chips, blueberries - I used lemon zest!)
*Last minute idea for flavor if you have nothing: add 2 tsp almond, vanilla or rum extract
*Stir everything together and drop spoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet (roll into triangles if desired ;)
*Bake on 425 for 10-15 mins
*Pour a tall glass of milk or your favorite tea and enjoy!

I've got 12 happy scones out on a plate cooling, and they're going fast! ;)

Bluberry Lemon Muffins


* 2 cups whole grain organic pastry flour (or flour of your choice!)
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice
* 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
* 6 ounces lemon yogurt (about 2/3 cup)
* 3/4 cup milk
* 4 tablespoons butter, melted
* 2 large eggs
* 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries or frozen blueberries, thawed
* More sugar or cinnamon-sugar, for topping

Heat oven to 400°. Grease and flour muffin cups or line with paper liners.

Combine the flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the lemon juice and zest, yogurt, milk, cooled butter, and eggs; stir in flour mixture just until ingredients are moistened.

Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full and bake for about 20 minutes, until browned and tops spring back when lightly touched with a finger.
Makes 15 to 18 muffins.

*Inspired by my lovely friend Melissa!

Pomegranate Bread Pudding

I made a bunch of butter and jelly sandwiches and had cut them in shapes for Dominic's school Christmas party, and I didn't even think about what to do with the crusts. My ever resourceful husband left a bunch of recipes up for me to see in the morning on the kitchen lap top for bread pudding. Brilliant man! So I got straight to work! I had never made it before, and I was pleased with how it came out. I added pomegranate seeds to give it a little punch and a festive appearance, but it did not turn out very sweet. And I didn't prepare any vanilla sauce with it. So I'd recommend if you try this recipe and you prefer sweetness, then prepare a sauce to serve it with or add more sugar. This is turning out to be an EXCELLENT breakfast.

This recipe yielded two dishes for me, so bring one to a neighbor :) I think we'll make this for breakfast on Christmas day, it's just so warm and yummy. Okay I'm going on and on. This is actually modified from the food networks recipe for peanut butter and jelly bread pudding, which didn't appeal to me, so I left out the pb and j. I'd include a real picture instead of the food network's one, but mine is half eaten already... ;)


* 4 cups whole milk
* 6 large eggs, at room temperature
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 8 cups coarsely chopped bread crust, from 1 (20-ounce) loaf white bread (or the same amount of day-old bread)
* any fruit on hand, preferably dried fruit. Bakers chocolate works well too!
* Unsalted butter, for greasing pan


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 13 by-9-inch baking pan.

Put 2 cups milk, the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl, then whisk in the remaining 2 cups milk. Stir in the bread and set aside to soak for about 10 minutes. Pour this mixture into the prepared baking pan. Place spoonfuls of your favorite fruits or ingredients into the bread mixture, pushing them in a bit with your spoon. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the pudding is browned, puffed, and a little firm. Let cool. Cut into squares to serve.

Shortcut Strawberry Shortcakes & Homemade Whipped Cream

Mouth-wateringly delicious, I promise!

Shortcut Shortcakes

1 quart (4 cups) strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/3 cups Original Bisquick® mix
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

1. Heat oven to 425°F. In large bowl, mix strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar; set aside.
2. In medium bowl, stir Bisquick mix, milk, 3 tablespoons sugar and the butter until soft dough forms. On ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by 6 spoonfuls.
3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, in small bowl, beat whipping cream with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form.
4. Split warm shortcakes; fill and top with strawberries and whipped cream.

For whipped cream:


* 1 pint heavy whipping cream
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/4 cup powdered sugar


1. Mix the liquid ingredients in a bowl. Mix any additional dry ingredients with the powdered sugar then mix the dry ingredient mixture with the liquid ingredients.

2. Whip the mixture with an electric hand mixer until raised peaks form in it and hold their shape. It should take about four minutes (or much longer if using a manual hand mixer or whisk).

3. Serve over your dessert and enjoy!

* Courtesy of Betty Crocker

Campbell's Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Easy Chicken Pot Pie
From: Campbell's Kitchen
Prep: 15 minutes
Bake: 30 minutes
Serves: 4


1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (Regular or 98% Fat Free)*
1 package (about 9 ounces) frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 cup cubed cooked chicken or turkey
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose baking mix


Heat the oven to 400°F.

Stir the soup, vegetables and chicken in a 9-inch pie plate.

Stir the milk, egg and baking mix in a small bowl. Spread the batter over the chicken mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

*Or use Campbell's® Cream of Chicken with Herbs Soup.

Nutrition Information

Using : Calories 320, Total Fat 12g, Saturated Fat 4g, Cholesterol 93mg, Sodium 941mg, Total Carbohydrate 37g, Dietary Fiber 4g, Protein 19g, Vitamin A 71%DV, Vitamin C 11%DV, Calcium 18%DV, Iron 13%DV

Using Campbell's® Condensed 98% Fat Free Cream of Chicken Soup: Calories 300, Total Fat 10g, Saturated Fat 3g, Cholesterol 93mg, Sodium 799mg, Total Carbohydrate 34g, Dietary Fiber 4g, Protein 18g, Vitamin A 72%DV, Vitamin C 11%DV, Calcium 10%DV, Iron 12%DV

*I'd like to make the crust from scratch, but I'm not there yet! I prefer the chicken with herbs soup, helps you save a step of adding herbs if you're looking to save a little time!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

My very very favorite cookie in the whole world.

-2 cup flour (I like King Arthur's)
- 1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tbsp vanilla extract
-3 tbsp milk
-2 eggs
-1/2 lb butter
-1 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup sugar
-3 cups oats
- can't recall if I use one whole bag or a half bag of chocolate chips. It's up to your discretion, just eye ball it :)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients separately. Combine together wet and dry ingredients. Bake at 350 for 16 mins.

Tortilla Soup

-Two cans condensed chicken with rice soup (or one family sized)
-Two cans chicken broth
-small chicken breast
-1 cup salsa
-1 large can red enchilada sauce
-shredded cheese of choice
-tortillas (flour or corn)

Dump all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low. Shred chicken before serving. Serve with strips of tortillas in each bowl. Cover with shredded cheese, sour cream if you have some!

BBQ Chicken Burgers with Cole Slaw


* 1 tablespoon butter, cut into pieces
* 1 small red onion, 1/2 finely chopped, 1/2 thinly sliced
* 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* 2 tablespoons tomato paste
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, eyeball it
* 1 tablespoon hot sauce, eyeball it
* 1 1/4 pounds ground chicken
* 1 tablespoons grill seasoning (recommended: McCormick brand) a palm full
* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
* 2 tablespoons honey, eyeball it
* 1 lemon, juiced
* 3 rounded tablespoons sweet pickle relish
* 2 cups shredded cabbage mix
* Salt and pepper
* 4 cornmeal Keiser rolls, split


In a small skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add chopped onions, garlic and tomato paste and sweat them for 5 minutes to soften and sweeten. Sprinkle in sugar and remove from heat. Cool in a bowl, 5 minutes. Add tomato paste mixture, Worcestershire, hot sauce to bowl and combine. Add chicken to the bowl then grill seasoning and combine the burgers well to evenly distribute the flavors and form 4 patties. Wash up.

Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, a turn of the pan, in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook patties 6 minutes on each side.

Combine the honey, lemon juice, and remaining extra-virgin olive oil in a bowl. Add relish, cabbage mix and sliced onions and season with salt and pepper. Toss the slaw to coat and reserve.

Serve burgers on bun bottoms topped with slaw and bun tops.

*Courtesy of Rachael Ray

Cheddar Quesadillas with Green Bell Peppers

Just a simple snack my Mom often made for us after school to tide us through to dinner.

-Tortillas of choice (I use whole wheat everything much to my husband's displeasure, but his heart will thank me later!)
- Shredded cheddar cheese (mozzarella or any cheese on hand will be fine)
-Green bell pepper

Warm up skillet, no oil needed. Place tortilla in pan, sprinkle with cheese and peppers, fold over, cook for awhile on medium high and flip to the other side. Enjoy with your children after school. :)

Tandoori Shish Kebabs

I got this idea from my wonderful new neighbor Uzma!

-Chicken tenders
-Box of Shan's tandoori seasoning (the quick and easy way!)
- Bell peppers
- 2 or 3 Lemons

Wash and chop chicken tenders. Let them marinate in the juice of a few lemons. Prepare tandoori seasoning and coat the marinated chicken - a little goes a looong way if you use Shan's if you're not accustomed to spicy foods, please be advised! :) Dice up bell peppers, onions and tomatoes into skewable chunks. Alternate meat with vegetables on a skewer. Ideally you would grill them, but we don't have a grill at the moment so I placed them in a pan and covered them with foil and broiled them for about 45 mins or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

World's Easiest Chocolate Mousse

Serves 4
by Deborah Mele

1/2 Cup Whole Milk

1 to 2 Tablespoons Sugar (3 Tablespoons If No Liqueur Is Added)

2 Tablespoons of Flavored Liqueur of Choice (See Above)

1 Cup Finely Chopped Bittersweet Chocolate (Or Chocolate Chips)

3 Extra Large Egg Whites

To Serve:

Sweetened Whip Cream

Garnish Of Choice (See Above)

In a small saucepan, heat the milk with the sugar and liqueur (if using) until it is hot and the sugar has completely dissolved. Do not allow to boil. Place the chocolate in a blender, and pour the hot milk over top. Run the blender until the chocolate has melted, about a minute. Add the egg whites and blend on high until very light, about another minute or so. Pour the mousse into individual cups and refrigerate at least 3 to 4 hours.

To serve, place a dollop of whipped cream on top and garnish with ingredients of your choice.

* Thanks to Catharine for introducing me to this decadence!!!

Pumpkin bread

This is my favorite pumpkin bread recipe EVER - I think the secret is all the eggs. I only used 1 1/2 cup sugar though, because I find the pumpkin is sweet enough on its own. I tried it once with golden juicy plump raisins and pecans, and then again with a cup of chocolate chips. We are snacking on it all day and having it for breakfast and never grow tired of it! :) These would be great as mini loaves wrapped up in festive cellophane as gift ideas! (hmmm...note to self...)

I think I will try some variations with a zuchini loaf and a carrot loaf - I'll post if they end up being a hit around here.


READY IN 1 Hr 5 Min
Original recipe yield 3 - 7x3 inch loaf pans


* 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
* 4 eggs
* 1 cup vegetable oil
* 2/3 cup water
* 3 cups white sugar
* 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans.
2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
3. Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

*I always find the more moisture the better with breads like this. Don't skimp on the moist stuff!

Chicken and Spinach crock pot lasagna

Chicken Lasagna
I got this recipe from my neighbor who I *think* got it from Southern Living's Quick & Easy Weeknight Cookbook. It is so good! I hope you like it.

2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 (10 oz.) pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
1 (9 oz.) pkg frozen diced cooked chicken (or 2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped--rotisserie chicken works great too)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped onion
9 uncooked lasagna noodles
2 cups shredded mozzarella

Combine first 7 ingredients (everything but noodles and mozzarella) in large bowl. Place 3 uncooked noodles in crockpot coakted with cooking spray, breaking noodles in half. Spread 1/2 of the mixtrue over it, sprinkle with 2/3 cup mozzarella. Layer 3 more nooldes, mix and cheese two more times. Top with cheese. Cover and cook on high 1 hour, reduce to low and cook 4 hours, or until pasta is done. Watch it closely, sometimes mine will start to get overdone.

It is VERY important to get as much moisture out of the spinach as possible or else the dish has a bitter taste. After draining it, I squeeze it in a bunch of paper towels and it does the trick.

*This is courtesy of my friend Rachel. This is also a huge favorite!

Cheese and tomato ravioli with artichokes

Cheese Ravioli with Fresh Tomato and Artichoke Sauce
The garden-fresh flavor of Roma tomatoes is complemented by tart marinated artichokes in a delectable sauce that can be prepared in less time than it takes to cook up a package of fresh cheese ravioli.

Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 5 Minutes
Ready In: 25 Minutes
Yields: 6 servings

2 (9 ounce) packages fresh cheese ravioli
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound roma tomatoes - peeled, seeded and chopped
1 (6.5 ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 cup chopped green onions
3 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Cook ravioli according to package directions.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over a medium high flame. Add tomatoes, artichokes, scallions, garlic, and salt and pepper. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are warmed through. Remove from heat.
Drain pasta well. Transfer to a large bowl, and toss with 1 teaspoon oil. Add half of the sauce to the ravioli; toss gently, but thoroughly to mix. Transfer ravioli to a large serving platter. Pour remaining vegetable sauce over ravioli. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

*Never say never. I was not a fan of artichokes until my friend Megan brought this meal to us after Milo was born. I still can't seem to make it as well as she did!

Baked Dijon Chicken

Baked Dijon Chicken

Preheat oven to 420
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I trim it, and cut mine into 4 chunks so it goes farther)
In one plate/wide bowl stir together:
1/4 c. Dijon Mustard
1/4 c. Evaporated Milk
In second plate/wide bowl stir together:
1/4 c. Bread Crumbs (I use italian or add seasoning to plain)
1/4 c. Grated Parmesan Cheese (fresh is better, but the cheapo stuff works great)

Dredge the chicken breasts/pieces in the mustard/milk mixture, and then coat with the bread crumb/parmesan mixture. Place into ungreased baking dish, and bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes until no longer pink in center (depends on how big/thick your chicken pieces are)

Thai Peanut Crock Pot Chicken

Peanut Crock pot chicken

This rich and creamy sauce is brightened with the flavors of lemon juice, ginger root, and salsa in this fun chicken entree recipe.


* 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
* 1 cup chunky salsa
* 1/3 cup peanut butter
* 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
* 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
* 1 tsp. sugar
* 1/2 tsp. salt
* 1/8 tsp. pepper
* 2 tsp. finely chopped ginger root
* 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts


In 3 to 5 quart crockpot, mix all ingredients except chicken. Add chicken and stir to coat. Cover crockpot and cook on LOW for 8-9 hours or until chicken is thoroughly cooked and no longer pink in center.

Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and serve with hot cooked rice. 4 servings

Calories: 410
Fat: 25 grams
Sodium: 550 mg
Vitamin C: 10% DV

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

1 1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast diced into large cubes
1 tablespoon dijon mustard (my substitution for mustard seed oil)
2 ounces milk
5 ounces natural yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 small can of tomato sauce
5 cloves (large size) garlic, finely chopped
1/2 can chopped green chilies
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons garam masala (i couldn't find this but it still turned out fine!)
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
cilantro as garnish


Whisk together all of the ingredients minus chicken in your crockpot. If you want to marinate at this point, place mixture into the fridge to marinate for 24 hours.

It may not be safe to leave chicken which has previously been frozen for longer than 24 hours, but fresh chicken should be left to marinate for 48 hours for best results. If you do not wish to leave the chicken to marinate, simply continue to the next step.

Turn the crockpot on low until the chicken is cooked throughout (6-8 hours). Most people serve over Basmati rice.

This recipe from CDKitchen for Chicken Tikka Masala serves/makes 4

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Midnight Mass crepes

This is a special treat my family makes on Christmas Eve and also sometimes New Years Eve. My Mom has prepared the fillings while my Dad has always made the crepes. This is one of the only traditions in my family that I would dub as official :)

Here it is as documented by my sister Sarah, the keeper of treasured family secrets.

Crepes ala Mendonca family

2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons melted butter
Butter, for coating the pan

In a blender, combine all of the ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.

Heat a small non-stick pan. Add butter to coat. Pour 1 ounce of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to the cutting board. Lay them out flat so they can cool. Continue until all batter is gone. After they have cooled you can stack them and store in sealable plastic bags in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for up to two months. When using frozen crepes, thaw on a rack before gently peeling apart.

Note from Sarah: It helps to let the batter sit for awhile, I've found, before making them. It can also be refrigerated, if you want to make extra for the next day. Double or triple recipe for more people.

* favorite fillings of ours are shrimp and crab mixed with cream cheese and green onions. My favorite is simple butter, lemon juice and powdered sugar. You can fill crepes with any sort of warm fruit compote!

French Vanilla Toast

If yogurt, oatmeal and bananas weren't the easiest breakfast foods on the planet, this would be in second place. We could have this every day, but of course try not to because it wouldn't be special on the weekends if we did. :)

-Multi grain bread
-3 eggs
-1/4 cup milk
- Vanilla extract

Whip together eggs, milk and vanilla. Dredge bread slices on both sides in egg mixture. Put on griddle or skillet till golden on both sides. Serve with favorite syrup or my favorite is just a dusting of powdered sugar with some fresh fruit on the side.

Saltibarsciai (cold beet soup)

This is a traditional Lithuanian soup. I am hoping my Mother in Law and my gourmand Sister in Law will add in their comments and modifications. This soup is also a favorite in our household!

* 8 cups cold buttermilk
* 1 medium cucumber, sliced into thick matchsticks
* 3 medium beets, boiled, peeled, and cut into thick matchsticks
* 2 eggs, hardboiled, sliced into matchstick shapes (as best you can!)
* 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
* 1 Tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
* salt and pepper

Garnish: chopped fresh dill

Whisk the buttermilk in a large bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients. You may add cold water or ice cubes if the soup is too rich or thick for your tastes.

Raita (cucumber and yogurt salad)

This is a staple in our home. It is a traditional Indian food which is actually supposed to be used more like a garnish, but I end up heaping it over spicy Indian food to cool it off.

Here's my version of Raita, plain and simple!

-Plain yogurt
-ground cumin
-dash of milk

Pour yogurt into a big bowl, with a dash of milk to thin out the consistency only a little bit. Mix in 2 tsp of ground cumin (but keep going if you want more!). Dice up some cucumbers and toss them in. MMMmmmm enjoy. Tradtionally served with chopped onions and tomatoes inside as well, but I never seem to get around to adding those.

Sausage with bell peppers and penne pasta

This is something my Mom always tossed together and it's always the meal I make when I don't know what to make. Yummy, healthy, quick!

-Whole wheat penne pasta (or pasta or rice of your choice)
-Sausage of your choice (I try to find sausage without nitrates, but we like Eckrich and Slovacek too)
- Bell peppers and onions of all colors
- Olive oil, sea salt, fresh garlic to taste

Stir fry sausage with bell peppers and onions while rice or pasta is cooking. Toss together with olive oil, sea salt, garlic or whatever you have on hand! Sometimes a little fresh mozzarella is good chopped up and mixed in!

Greek Pitas with beef and spinach

Beef and Spinach Pita Pockets
(makes 2 servings)

# Ingredients 8 ounces ground Beef Top Round
# 6 fresh spinach leaves
# 1 whole wheat pita bread, halved
# 2 tablespoons plain low fat yogurt
# 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
# 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
# 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin
# 1/4 teaspoon of ground coriander
# 1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger
# 1/8 teaspoon of salt
# 1 1/2 cloves of garlic, minced
# 1/8 teaspoon curry powder, (optional)

In a large non-stick skillet, combine the ground beef, the garlic cloves and the crushed red pepper. Cook it over medium heat until it is browned, stirring to crumble the beef. Drain in a colander, discard drippings. Wipe skillet dry with a paper towel. Return beef mixture to skillet; add chopped spinach, spices and salt; and stir it well. Cover and cook it over medium heat for 3 minutes or just until spinach has wilted; remove it from heat. Spoon 1/2 cup of beef mixture into each pita half lined with whole spinach leaves. Mix the yogurt with the curry powder if desired. Top each pita half with 1 tablespoon of yogurt. * Keep your Beef and Spinach Pita Pockets cool until serving. Wrap them up and slip them into your picnic basket or picnic backpack to enjoy on your outdoor dining adventure!

* I actually didn't have fresh spinach leaves on hand the first time I made this, so I just made lean ground beef with these spices and stuffed the whole wheat pitas with cucumbers and some herbed feta. Served it with some Near East Tabolueh salad and I was in heaven. This meal still makes the weekly rotation.

Santa Fe Chicken

Santa Fe Chicken

4 Boneless chicken breasts
2 cups crushed corn chips or tortilla chips
Juice of 2 limes
2 tbsp honey
salt and pepper to taste
2 large avocadoes
4 roma tomatoes

Set oven to 400 degrees, spray a baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Lay out wax paper with crushed chips spread across.

Whisk lime juice, honey, salt and pepper in a bowl. Roll chicken breasts in marinade.

Roll chicken on both sides in crushed chips, place in baking dish.

Cook for 35 mins at 400 degrees.

Dice roma tomatoes, and peel, pit and slice avocado. Serve as garnish on top of baked chicken.

Serve with your favorite rice, and corn on the cob works well too! (we added a little chili and lime to the corn and it was great!)

Sleep it Off Natural Oven Cleaner

Sleep-It-Off Oven Cleaner

Ingredients: salt, baking soda, water, a shaker (I used an old Parmesan cheese shaker), and a spray bottle with water and a couple tablespoons of Dr. Bronner's or dishwashing soap (like Dawn).

Mix ¼ cup salt with ¾ cup baking soda. Fill the shaker.

Spray the oven with soap and water spray. Shake the salt-soda mixture on. Spray again with water until the mixture is slightly damp and pasty. For the side walls, make a thick paste and sponge it on.

Leave it overnight. In the morning, get a putty knife/scraper, and scrape off the goop and pile it onto an old newspaper. Use a scotch-brite sponge to work off any tough spots. Wipe down with a soap and water spray. Rinse.

* I think this is borrowed from my friend Rachel who is a wealth of knowledge in homekeeping!

Natural Carpet Deoderizer

1) A great non-toxic carpet stain remover is club soda. Soak spot immediately with soda and blot until the stain is gone.
2) Pet Urine on Carpets: Dab area with toweling to absorb as much as possible, wash spot with liquid dish detergent, and rinse with 1/2 cup vinegar diluted in 1 qt warm water. Lay towels or paper towels over the spot and weight down to absorb excess moisture. Let stand 4 to 6 hours, then remove toweling, brush up nap and allow to dry completely. Use an electric fan to speed drying.
3) Red wine stains can be removed from carpet by rubbing baking soda in and vacuuming.
4) Sprinkle cornstarch onto carpet, vacuum.
5) To remove grease spots from carpets, first sop up the liquid with a sponge, then rub a liberal amount of baking soda into the spot. Let it absorb overnight. Next day, remove the excess and vacuum the area.
6) To remove grease spots from carpets, first absorb excess with a sponge, then rub a liberal amount of corn starch into the spot. Let sit overnight, then vacuum.
7) Dry cornstarch sprinkled on rug and vacuumed.

8) Carpet Fresher
4 cups baking soda or cornstarch
35 drops Eucalyptus essential oil
30 drops Lavender essential oil
25 drops Rosewood essential oil
or any combination of your favorite essentail oils
Measure 4 cups of baking soda into a bowl, add essential oils. Break up any clumps that form, stir until well mixed. Before vacuuming sprinkle powder from a shaker type can or jar. Let it sit on the carpet for about 15 minutes then vacuum.

* I can't remember where I found this online, I would like to cite it but can not locate it. But I used lemon oil with cornstarch and then vacuumed and it worked beautifully!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My story

Welcome to Eating Out of House and Home!

After seeing the movie Julie & Julia, I thought it would be fantastic to blog my way through a cook book. However, with two little guys at home, I find this to be a little ambitious at the moment. Instead I thought of this blog... an opportunity to be inspired and be challenged to grow as a cook, and to share the experiences with anyone who wants to come along for the ride. And because my recipe box is a mess and this will be an easier way to keep track of them. ;)

My philosophy of food

I love to cook. I enjoy spending all day cooking for people, as rarely as that happens nowadays, it is a JOY when I have the chance. This is not to say that I consider myself a seasoned gourmand. By no means, certainly not this early in my "cooking career." I do believe I have a creativity in the kitchen and a knack for putting interesting, healthy foods together. I have an eccletic taste in all other areas of my life, so it only follows that it would be this way in the kitchen.

My take on food is that it should be healthy, nourishing and running around crazy with good flavors. In an ideal world, I think meals should be interesting and pretty, and a little fancy if possible, not necessarily difficult. I think planning, preparation and presentation are key to cooking. Time-saving gadgets are nice too, but I haven't let myself get too lost in that world yet. I like to keep it simple. A goal of mine right now is to grow a simple herb garden, so that I don't have to run to the store for cilantro and basil which I put in almost everything. It would be fantastic to have fruits and vegetables growing out of my kitchen window one day as well.

I cook pretty standard fare mostly, because I don't have the time or resources to do otherwise. But I like to draw upon international foods for inspirations when I can, my most favorite is Indian but I also enjoy Greek, South American, Thai and anything else I can fuse together! There is so much to learn, discover and EAT - and not enough time! :)

My roots

As my Mom may admit, and my former roomates if they can't resist the temptation to tell, is that I left for college not knowing how to boil water. And not because my Mother did not know how to cook, because my mother could have cooked Julia Child under the table! I suppose I became too used to everything being done FOR me, so college was a wake up call. My idea of a healthful meal was throwing a frozen "Voila" meal in a skillet! Oh brother!

I remember being awestruck when I told my husband I was in the mood for meatloaf in the early days of our marriage, and he wandered into the kitchen and emerged 2 hours later with the most perfect diner-style meatloaf. I thought he was a magician. And he was gleeful to have a break from the usual frozen perogies with sour cream and salt, I'm sure.

So I bought a cook book, and learned that making chicken that doesn't taste like rubber is an art. That baking soda and baking powder are not in fact interchangeable. That broiling fish is a lot faster and tastier sometimes than baking preparing on a skillet. That it's important to grate potatoes from the proper side, your hands will be grateful (no pun intended). And that tossing a little bit of salt in a pot of water helps it to boil a little more quickly. ;)

After I became pregnant with our first child, my sister Sarah introduced me to the world of organic foods and the importance of whole grains, and our lives were never the same. I look forward to all that I will learn and do and eat in the kitchen, and I'm hoping to document a good portion of it here.

Thanks for visiting and I hope you'll come back!

Lettuce Alone!

After speaking to my good friend Jamie who told me she lost 9 pounds in a month simply by cutting carbs from her meals, I determined that I would begin a "lettuce alone campaign." Granted, it's only day 4 or so. But 3 pounds have disappeared into thin air!

So, since those who know me know that I feel that strict recipe adherence is for the birds (which is why my baking isn't as strong as my cooking), you won't be surprised to know that any of "my" recipes which I have devised will more than likely NOT feature specific measurements here, but I promise that if I follow someone else's recipe, they will be posted in their entirety.

Back to the campaign. It seems to be a success (as long as I don't get a midnight craving to make double chocolate drop cookies or run out to IHOP in a mad dash to get my hands on a bacon cheeseburger as quickly as possible.

Here's what I've done the past week.

Taco salad - romaine leaves with shredded chicken, tomatoes, cheese, onions, sour cream, avocado, little bit of spanish rice

Southwest salad - grilled chicken with corn, black beans, tortilla crisps, lime, cheese

Steak on romaine leaves with oranges, red onions, tossed with olive oil and garlic

Tabouleh salad with greek meatballs

I'm putting off seafood as long as humanly possible, but I know it is inevitable.

Ideas coming up are:

Crab and avocado salad

Citrus Shrimp salad

Salad nicoise

I know much can be done with beans, quinoa and even fruit....not to mention cheeses. Oh and the possibilities with cucumbers! The kiddos and the hubby are surprisingly supportive of this crunchy, green new world. Depriving myself of carbohydrates is not my idea of a good time, but I'm willing to see this through for awhile!

Thanks for the read! Written recipes to come soon, hopefully along with some guest chef authors as well!