Sunday, December 17

Pinwheels & Pot Lucks

We had a Holiday potluck at work, which included all three floors, and that means 5 different teams of people. Out of a potential couple hundred, I think between 75-100 actually joined in. I was not on the committee, but they did a pretty good job, outlining each team to bring a specific category. Our food was appetizer and salads (on the team I was on last week). So I was looking for a good crescent roll pinwheel recipe. I've have made Mexican Confetti pinwheels for another potluck. Those are fun, because you can make them very spicey, which I did. But this time I wanted a calmer version because I didn't know all the people that would be participating in our little dinner. The Pillsbury site has a dozen or so great pinwheel recipes, I chose the Bacon and Cheddar recipe (sans the green onions--someone told me there was an ecoli question with green onions, anyone else heard of that??). They were of course great. But it wasn't until I was in line, and saw that someone had brought a nice vegetarian loaf, in it's box so we could see what it was, that I thought we should have labeled things. When we have our smaller Food Days, there's a potential of 50 or so people, and usually 25-30 bring stuff (and of course, one guy never brings anything, but is always found grazing around the table). In the smaller venue, it's easier to let people know who made what and what's in it. When I made those cathedral windows, and the recipe said pregnant women shouldn't eat them because of the raw eggs, I went straight to the pregnant woman and let her know not to eat them. In a larger group, especially where you don't know everyone, you can't go warn folks individually. So I think we should have somehow labeled things. I think my pinwheels clearly showed the bacon, but I would hate for someone to go against their dietary or religious eating preferences by mistake.
Photo from the Pillsbury site

Mexican Confetti Pinwheels (recipe from Pillsbury)

Prep Time: 15 min ; Start to Finish: 35 min
Makes: 24 appetizers

Nacho cheese dip provides a kick in a tender crescent appetizer.

1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1/4 cup nacho cheese dip
1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper (1/3 medium)
1/3 cup chopped green onions (5 medium)

1 . Heat oven to 350°F. Unroll dough and separate into 4 rectangles; firmly press perforations to seal.
2 . Spread cheese dip over each rectangle to within 1/4 inch of edges. Sprinkle with bell pepper and onions.
3 . Starting with one short side, roll up each rectangle; press edge to seal. With serrated knife, cut each roll into 6 slices; place cut side down on ungreased cookie sheet.
4 . Bake 13 to 17 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Serve warm.

Tuesday, September 5

Bisquit Quiche

Bisquit crust made from Jiffy mix. Eggs and milk, and a handfull of the peppers out of the freezer. Couldn't be easier!

Wednesday, August 30

Birthday Treats

Happy Birthday to my Guy!
Bringing treats to the office for him, and since he's diabetic, I wanted to maybe forgo the traditional cake, so I was excited to find this recipe. It sounds great for a guy to bring for treats for his birthday, right?
Well, he still wanted the cake, and since he promised to only eat one small piece, and give the rest to his co-workers, I gave in. The cake was just box mix and canned frosting, but I made it layered, and it looked nice.
On the sausage pastry puffs, I was so prepared, I had bought the filo dough a few days before, and had put it into the fridge to thaw the day before. I didn't quite understand the part of the recipe that said to roll it out bigger, as I didn't think you could really roll out those thin layers. And I didn't understand why we weren't putting something between the layers. Everything was right on time, the sausage pastry puffs would be done and warm right at the best time to take him his supper.
And that's when I realized my mistake! I had bought filo dough instead of puff pastry. I had filo dough in my head. So I ran over to the close store, found frozen puff pastry, defrosted it a little in the microwave, let it set on the heated stove to finish defrosting. I used this defrosting time to frost the cake, when I had planned on using the cooking time.
Everything was done and delivered and appreciated, just an hour and 1/2 later than I meant to get there. Most of the work folks weren't so hungry by then, but that left more for my guy to save for his supper the next night. I didn't get any photos, being in the rush I was, but they looked as good as they tasted.
And now I have a thawed filo dough in my fridge, I'd better make something good with it this weekend!

Sausage Puff Pastry Bites (from Very Good Things)

Makes approx. 40
Adapted from The Essential Baking Cookbook recipe

1 box of puff pastry, room temperature (You will use both sheets)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 lb sausage (You are gonna laugh, but I actually used some fresh brats and discarded the casings.)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. each of ground sage, nutmeg, black pepper and cloves

Preheat oven to 400f degrees. Lightly grease two cooking sheets.

Roll out puff pastry sheets to about 14"x14". Lightly brush the pastry sheets with some of the beaten egg.

Mix half of the remaining egg with the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, then divide into two portions. Lay puff pastry out on cookie sheets. Pipe or spoon the filling down the center of each piece of pastry, then brush the edges with some of the egg. Fold the pastry over the filling, overlapping the edges and placing the join underneath. Brush the rolls with more egg, then cut into small pieces. Spread apart on baking sheet.

Cut a small slash on top of each roll and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350f degrees and cook for another 15 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Let cool slightly and enjoy.

Friday, August 25

Food Day: Dark Spicey Chocolate Cookies

I had been wanting to try this recipe ever since I saw it. I've always heard that spicey brings out the flavor of good dark chocolate. And boy, did it ever! I made the recipe plain, no filling. They were the best! I had to hunt around town for the Dutch cocoa, but it was totally worth it. Some for all interested parties at work's food day, and a couple to share at home. I'd like to make this recipe, and keep the logs frozen, and cut off just a few at a time. Great cookies anytime.

Maida’s Mexican Chocolate Icebox Cookies (Recipe from Cookie Madness)

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup quality Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa
3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons cayenne
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Whisk the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, and pepper together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Put sugar, vanilla, and egg into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until thick and pale, about three minutes. Add butter and continue to beat on high speed until smooth, about three minutes more. Using your fingers work flour mixture into butter mixture until dough is just combined. Divide dough in half and roll each half into a 9-inch log. Wrap each log in parchment paper, twisting ends tightly to make a uniform cylinder. Freeze dough logs for at least eight hours and as long as overnight.

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Unwrap dough and slice each log into rounds 1/3-inch thick. Place rounds one inch apart on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Bake cookies until slightly puffed and tiny cracks appear on surface, about eight minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to let cool. Makes about four dozen cookies.

Tuesday, August 15

Hot Stuff in the Freezer

I got this idea from my maternal grandmother. When she cleaned out her chest freezer last year, we 'inhereted' several items, including a few bags of chopped onions. She cooks for just herself now, and probably doesn't need even a whole onion.
When I made a recipe that wanted a part of each red, yellow, and green peppers, and red onion, I decided to chop the rest up for the freezer. Other times, I would have a 1/2 pepper left to rot, or just skip the recipe alltogether. Yes, I did think about putting each type seperately, or at least the onions, but this time I chose to put them all together, based on when I think I will use them.

Friday, August 11

Peach Pie

I've been thinking about peaches this week, I bought 5 for making something. I've also been thinking pie lately. I'm still using store-bought crust, but I've made a pie at least once a month lately. I think my goal is a pie a week.
So with the fresh peaches, and the love of pies, I searched for a simple peach pie recipe. So many are peaches and cream, or peach caramel, or something, but I wanted simple, and I wanted to substitute Splenda for the sugar. This is the recipe I found. The only odd thing, is 7/8 of a cup of sugar...I couldn't even find an 1/8 measuring cup in my house. So I just used my 1 cup, and eye-balled how far to fill it up. I think the pie was excellent, but some in the house, are so used to canned peaches, they weren't sure of the texture of the real peaches.
By the way, I just checked out the rest of the site where I found the recipe, Bernice has more great recipes and canning tips. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 8

Food and Memories

I posted this recipe with a story about family June 2004, after my paternal grandmother died. (Read it here if you like.)
This recipe was one of those good memories from my childhood. It's so simple to make, and tasty. Now I make it for my kids every now and then to give them some good memories, too.

from mom's church cookbook
1 2lb can peaches with juice
1 butter brickle cake mix (I don't think they make that kind anymore, works just as well with yellow cake mix)
1 c margarine or butter
1/4 c water
Pour peaches and juice into 9x13 pan. Sprinkle dry cake mix over peaches. Drizzle melted butter and water over cake mix. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned. Let cool for 10 minutes or so before serving.

Sunday, July 30

Cathedral Windows

As my Bloglines blogroll shows, Retro food is all the rage. I found this recipe through Laura Rebecca's Kitchen, she found it on Something So Clever and it's listed on allrecipes. When I saw it, I knew it would be perfect for food day at work. I like sometimes making something very sweet and rich for food day, I can make a big batch, leave a couple servings at home for the boys (two kids who don't need an excess of sugar, and one boyfriend with diabetes), and the work folks can eat the rest.

From AllRecipes:
1/4 cup butter
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs, beaten
1 (10.5 ounce) package rainbow colored miniature marshmallows
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar for decoration
Melt together the butter and chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler or in the microwave. Stir to blend, then stir in the eggs, colored marshmallows and pecans.
Pour the mixture into a 9x5 inch loaf pan, lined with foil. Dust with powdered sugar and refrigerate until firm.
Remove chilled dough from loaf pan, remove the foil, and slice into 1/4 inch slices.

Saturday, July 22

Sweet Scrambled Eggs

I make "french toast" in the most basic way: eggs, milk, cinnamon, sugar or splenda, a little vanilla. Soak the bread a little or a lot, depending on how soggy you want it, and fry on both sides. There's usually some egg mixture left over, and my mom would scramble that up, and my dad loved it. I didn't really like it, and my kids didn't either, so I'd just try to make the egg mixture work out exactly with the bread when I cooked for them. Cooking for my guy, now, is a whole different story. I made the sweet scrambled eggs for him once after making french toast, and now that's his favorite part. Still seems weird to me.

Tuesday, July 18

Meat Wads: My Meatloaf

I didn't make meatloaf my whole adult life until a few years ago when I found this recipe. (come to think of it, I don't think I ever made meatloaf as a kid, either, so I may have actually never made a meatloaf before this) My aversion to meatloaf fell in the category of "Recipes of my Mother's that I didn't like", I never liked my mom's meatloaf. Sorry, Mom!* So I never made meatloaf. (Oh, plus I was vegetarian for many years, and fake-meat doesn't loaf well) When I found this recipe on the back of the Stove Top Stuffing box, and cooking for heavy meat eaters now, I decided to try it. Now I make my modified version at least once a month, either in wad (loaf) form, or as hamburgers or meatballs.

All-American Meat Loaves
Prep: 10 min. Bake: 30 min.
1 pouch (8 oz) Stove Top Stuffing Mix for Chicken
2 lb. ground beef
1 1/2 cups water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup Kraft Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/4 cup ketchup

1. Mix all ingredients except ketchup just until blended.
2. Shape into 4 oval loaves on foil-lined baking sheet. Top with ketchup.
3. Bake at 400 F for 30 minutes or until centers are no longer pink.
Makes 8 servings.

My Modifications:
1. I use aprox 2 lbs of ground beef PLUS aprox 1 lb of pork for each set of 4 loaves. (and I usually at least double this recipe, it is awesome for left-overs, and would freeze well, too, if the guys wouldn't eat them all before I could freeze them!)
2. I don't put in any water, but do put in mustard &/or Worcestershire sauce up to aprox 1/2 cup. Also, I'll usually add garlic powder, maybe some mixed spice for steak, and often add mustard seed &/or caraway seeds (like is found in some pork sausage).
3. I always use sharp cheddar
4. I NEVER put ketchup on it. If you want to put ketchup on it on your plate, do it when I'm not looking!
My kids think it's funny that I like to call them meatwads. But that's basically what they are. And wouldn't you love to get that whiney little guy in your oven? ;p

*Since this recipe gets linked to on a regular basis, let me add this caveot: My mother is a wonderful cook! She was my 4-H leader, too, and always served all four food groups (that's all we had back then!) for supper. She liked to try new recipes she found in magazines, which led me to have no fear of trying a new recipe. She also had many great recipes that were family favorites, some were passed down from the previous generation, including her father's mother's potato soup. In addition to the potato soup, which I've always loved, I have many favorites among her recipes, and I learned to love spinach and brussel sprouts too.

Thursday, July 13

Back of the Box Recipes

15 Min Chicken & Rice Dinner

1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 boneless chicken breast halves
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Campbell's Cream of Chicken or 98% Fat Free Cream of Chicken Soup
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp each paprika and pepper
2 cups Minute White Rice, uncooked*
2 cups fresh or frozen broccoli flowerets

Heat oil in skillet. Add chicken and cook until browned. Remove chicken.

Add soup, water, paprika and pepper; stir. Heat to a boil.

Stir in rice and broccoli. Top with chicken. Season chicken with additional paprika and pepper. Cover and cook over low heat 5 min. or until done.

*For creamier dish, use 1 1/2 cups rice.

Makes 4 servings

This recipe created by Campbell's.

Tuesday, July 11

The finished pie

FRESH_GOOSEBERRY_PIE (recipe replay) Crush 1/2 cup gooseberries , combine with 1 1/2 cups sugar, 3 Tbsps. quick-cooking tapioca, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Cook and stir until mixture thickens and boils. Add 2 1/2 cups whole berries. Fill pastry shell. Dot with 2 Tbsps. butter or oleo. Put on top crust, seal, cut slits for steam to escape. Bake in a hot oven (400) for 30-40 minutes or until crust is browned. Serve warm (or cold).

Tuesday, July 4

Fourth Food

We celebrated the 4th yesterday, since one of us has to work today, and some more of us have to get up tomorrow. Our 4th celebration was pure geek-heaven: we played an RPG (role playing game) all day yesterday, and some the night before, too. It was fun for everyone! In the planning stages, I had to figure out a menu that would work with gaming, and would not make me, as the cook, have to do any extra work on game day.
Here's our menu:

  • Another Dried Beef Cheese Ball like I took to Food Day at work
  • A seafood cheese ball: cream cheese, fake crab, sundried tomatoes in oil, garlic, Worcester sauce. No official recipe, just thrown together. Added extra tomato oil to balance out adding soooo much fake crab. Needs a little salt.
  • Three kinds of crackers
  • A crock pot full of BBQ little smokies. Sauce was just whatever BBQ sauce was in the cupboard, a little plain mustard (I only keep plain mustard for recipes), garlic powder, onion powder, and white pepper.
  • Make your own sandwiches. I purchased hoagie rolls, two kinds of sliced meat, cheese, and of course, good mustard.
  • Tons of soda. Cheesh, I think my 15-year-old chain-drank at least 10 of his 24 pack that is supposed to last him a whole week.

Everyone could get whatever they wanted throughout the game. And I got out the paper plates, so I don't have much to do today to clean up, except the crockpot of course, better go soak that. I'm hoping to make mom's gooseberry pie recipe today!

Friday, June 30

Food Day: Dried Beef Cheese Ball

First, appologies for the photo. Here's what happened: I brought a double batch of this cheese ball recipe to Food Day at work today, set it down on the table, brought my camera back for the photo maybe 10 minutes later, this photo was all I got. So I guess everyone liked it! I'm going to make it again for our 4th celebration.

Dried Beef Cheese Ball
1 package cream cheese (regular or low fat)
1 can black olives
1 package dried beef (or thin deli beef)
1 bunch green onions
1 tsp meat tenderizer-type seasoning

Chop black olives, dried beef, and green onions, and mix with softened cream cheese. Form ball if you wish. Serve with crackers or bagels.

Tuesday, June 27

Kid Favorite:Burrito Bake

Cheap with a capital "Ch" and loved by my kids: Burrito Bake.

  • One package (8-10) frozen burritos of your favorite flavor
  • Two cans refried beans
  • One can/jar taco sauce/enchilada sauce
  • One package (2 cups) shredded cheese of your choice

Spread the beans in a cake pan-type casserole dish. Place the burritos in a single row on the beans. Pour sauce over all burritos. Bake at the temp/time suggested on your frozen burrito package (350 for 30 minutes usually). Sprinkle cheese over all, put back in oven (can turn off the heat) just to melt the cheese, maybe 5 minutes. Feeds 4-6, plus or minus leftovers.
Variations: Use one can regular beans and one can refried beans. (We always use black refried if we can find them), or if you're bean lovers like my kids and I, use two refried plus one regular.
Add any hot sauce, jalapenos, sour cream, etc, that you like.
The kids really love this, and it's much more filling than just eating a plain frozen burrito. Groceries for this, with my Russ's card: $7.59.

Saturday, June 17

Copper Pennies

  • 2-3 pounds sliced carrots
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 3 medium onions, sliced in rings
  • 1 10 1/2 oz can undiluted tomato soup
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcesterchire sauce

Parboil sliced carrots for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender but not too soft. Drain. Mix the rest of the ingredients and add carrots. Let set overnight in refrigerator before serving. Will keep covered and chilled for several weeks. Serve chilled on lettuce as a salad; also good on cottage cheese.

Family picnic and potluck favorite. From the 1990 "Heavenly Calories" church cookbook, that my mom was co-chair of the committee. Photo from Food Day at work May 31, yes, there is still a little left in the fridge. Several weeks is several weeks.

Thursday, June 15

Chicken Awesome

So I want to submit a recipe to All Recipes, so when I was cooking last night, I took several pictures, and made sure to write down all the ingredients and steps. I tend to cook 'by the seat of my pants' and if I try to write down the recipe later, I don't remember everything I did. This recipe is kind of based on one of the recipes we made at Supper Thyme, Cowpokes (#3 in this post. I used cream cheese, green chilies, and black olives for the filling. Found this reference: Hormel Chicken Temperatures, to make sure the chicken was cooked through. Now I'm ready to submit it to All Recipes, except for one thing, the name. When I asked my kids what to name it, the younger son said "Awesome!", but I'm not sure if that's a good name for a recipe.
Any ideas?

Sunday, June 11

Recipe from Mom: Gooseberry pie

Prepare pastry (my recipe to follow) for two-crust 9 inch pie and line pie plate with pastry.
Crush 1/2 cup gooseberries (I use potato masher), combine with 1 1/2 cups sugar, 3 Tbsps. quick-cooking tapioca, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Cook and stir until mixture thickens and boils. Add 2 1/2 cups whole berries. Fill pastry shell. Dot with 2 Tbsps. butter or oleo. Put on top crust, seal, cut slits for steam to escape. Bake in a hot over (400) for 30-40 minutes or until crust is browned. Serve warm (or cold). Good with home made vanilla ice cream.

2 cups flour
2/3 cup salad oil
5 Tbsps. water
salt to taste
Mix all ingredients. Roll 1/2 of dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper to just larger than the pie pan. Remove top sheet of paper and hold dough by second sheet to help put the crust in the pan. Crust is easily repaired with a scrap of dough if needed. Roll second half of dough and have ready. Pour gooseberry mixture into prepared crust, add butter/oleo, then put on top crust. Seal edges, cut slits, Sprinkle a little sugar on top. Bake. This is an easy, flaky crust. Makes a 2-crust pie or two 1-crust pies.

Mom says: It's from BH & G Pies and Cakes cookbook, and it's the one I always use. I think I did make it with Splenda the last time I made it. I think Splenda would be cup for cup.
I say: I love gooseberries. We had a little bush out back, well, they still do as they still live in the house I grew up in. Some years we'd get barely enough berries for one pie, other years we'd get 4-5 pies' worth. It was always rather a treat, since we didn't have it all year long. I have seen gooseberry pie filling in the store, but I'd never buy it, it wouldn't be the same.
However, I do have to admit that I don't love Mom's pie crust recipe. It is definately the easiest homemade crust recipe I've ever seen, but the taste was never my favorite, though Mom and Dad have always loved it. I'll probably buy my pie crust from the store.

Saturday, June 10

Hello again

Since one of the biggest things in my life is cooking, with all that comes with it, the planning, shopping, cleaning up, etc, I think I'll dust off this ol' blog.
Let me outline a bit of my world for some background.
I was always a great cook as a kid. I was in 4-H, took cakes and cookies to the fair, saved all the best recipes out of Seventeen magazine (I'll bet they don't even have recipes anymore), and cooked or helped mom cook most meals at our house. Often on the weekends, I'd spend an afternoon making something more time consuming, like homemade pasta. I saved up my babysitting money to buy a roller pasta maker out of a catalog, it was from Italy! (It now is used for polymer clay)
In college, there were times I didn't have the means or time to cook. In a dorm room with a mini-fridge and microwave, and a meal ticket to the cafeteria, I didn't do much cooking. When I had an acutal apartment, I did cook when I could. I remember one inspired batch of a pasta dish with 3-4 different kinds of pasta, veggies, tomato sauce, cheese and meats, that I got so into cooking, that I had to find people to share it with. I took a pan to a couple small families I knew, and called the party host to ask if I could bring the other huge pan there.
Fast forward a bit:
I've been a single mom for over six years now. Cooking for just kids and maybe making myself cheese and crackers was the menu for most of that. A little over a year ago, my wonderful boyfriend moved in. He loves to eat, likes to cook sometimes, loves to argue with me while we shop, helps with cleaning up, and mostly challenges me to be the great cook I always used to be. Plus, my kids are getting more interested in cooking, my younger son, now 13, has gone back and forth with wanting to be a chef or a starving artist, and is a creative cook.
I'm working with some good tools, All Recipes is awesome. I get their recipe-of-the-day e-mail, and several of those have become favorites. My profile there is seeshells if you want to look me up. Also, working with a great program A Cook's Book, which also has a Yahoo! Group. This tool I'm still figuring out, but we researched several recipe programs before we bought this one.
And my favorite cooking tool, is Alton Brown. In my kitchen, everyone knows, if AB said it, it's gospel. I love the other shows on the Food Network also, I have often spent a whole weekend afternoon with that channel playing while I'm doing chores or arts-n-crafts.
I guess that's all for the background of me for now. I need to plan out the grocery list, the guy and I have a date to go to the warehouse store, and the regular grocery store. Fun will be had by all. I hope ;p