Sunday, February 28, 2010

Baked Vegetable Ziti

This is my take on a recipe posted by What a Crock! It made enough to feed a dozen, which is why the author of What a Crock! recommended freezing half. Naturally, I didn't listen and now have a ton of leftovers that will hopefully freeze well. If I try this again, I will add mushrooms to the zucchini and eggplant and have listed them in the direction below.

1 lb whole wheat pasta
1 medium to large eggplant, cut into 1/2" slices
2-3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2" slices
12 oz mushrooms, cut into quarters
1 onion, chopped (I used white)
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 (14 cans diced tomatoes)
1/4 c italian parsley, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
1/4 c basil, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
16 oz shredded cheese (monzarella, parmesan, fontina mix)
salt, pepper, olive oil

Preheat grill or grill pan and oil as necessary. Salt eggplant and let set for 20 minutes. Wipe salt and press moisture out.

Grill zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms in batches until tender. Set aside to cool while you make the sauce.

In a dutch oven or large skillet with 3 inch sides, saute onions in olive oil until tender. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, basil, parsley, crushed red pepper, and generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes on low. In the last five minutes sugar and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Spray two 9 x 13 " pans (or 1 rectangle and 1 square if you don't mind very full pans.

Layer 1/2 of the pasta, 1/2 of the sauce, and all of the veggies. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Give the mixture a rough stir or two in order to distribute the cheese. Top with remaining pasta, sauce, and cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until cheese is melted and golden brown.

Serves 10-12.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Quick Burger Smothered with Mushrooms, Green Peppers, and Cheese

Again, I neglected to take pictures because I was too impatient to eat. This burger is as simple as can be since I used pre-formed hamburger patties from Trader Joe.

Updated 3/12/10 to add pictures.


1 lb ground beef (85/15)divided into 4 patties
8-10 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced into 1 inch strips
4 slices of provolone, swiss, or cheese of choice
4 whole-wheat hamburger buns
salt, pepper
butter, olive oil

Preheat grill or grill pan until screaming hot while you prepare the veggies.

Melt 1-2 tbs of butter in a medium skill coated with olive oil. Saute mushrooms and green pepper until mushrooms and lost much of their moisture and are beginning to brown. Green peppers should be tender. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Sprinkle burgers with salt and pepper (or grill seasoning of choice). Grill burgers about 2-4 minutes per side, depending on degree of doneness desired. The pre-formed burgers from Trader Joe's were a little more than 1/2 inch thick, so my burger was cooked to medium in less than 5 minutes. Add cheese to burger, if desired, in last few minutes of cooking.

Toast buns in skillet used for veggies or on grill.


My burger was layered as follows:

top of bun
bottom of bun


Serves 4.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Low-fat Blueberry Muffins

This recipe is adapted from one that appeared in the latest BBC Good Food. I somehow completely neglected to add the oil and found the result extremely dry. However, a little pat of butter made these fantastic! My coworkers didn't mind them without the fat.


225 g self-rising flour
115 whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
zest of half lemon, about 2 tsp
85 g granulated sugar, 1 Tbs reserved
59 g brown sugar
1 medium banana, mashed
5 tbs oil (canola, vegetable, rapseed)(no disaster if omitted)
284ml buttermilk (my measuring cup only had 250 and 300ml, so I had to eyeball this)
8 oz fresh bluberries (I used minis from Trader Joe's)

1 Tbs sugar, reserved above
Juice of half a lemon, about 1-2 Tbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (The recipe called for 400, but I think this is too hot).

Mix flours, baking powder, lemon zest together with the sugars. Separately mix buttermilk, oil, egg and banana together. Add the wet to the dry ingredients, being careful not to overstir.

Gently add in blueberries.

Using a cookie scoop, divide mixture evening among 12 prepared muffin cups. (They will be full).

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and a tester comes out clean.

While the muffins are baking, stir together reserved sugar and lemon juice. Immediately upon removal of muffins from oven, glaze with lemon-sugar mixture.

Cool for 10 minutes in tins before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Makes 12. Serve with butter if oil was omitted.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Slow Cooker Beef and Mushroom Soup

This recipe has been adapted from the Southern Living Slow-Cooker Cookbook. I prepared the batch as directed, more or less, then added evaporated milk to half of the batch to make a cream soup (picture on the right). I also had a little less meat so I added more mushrooms and veggies. I liked them both although there's a missing spice that I can't put my finger on--maybe add a bay leaf? The recipe is printed how I prepared it.

Photobucket with milk

1.5 - 2 lbs stew meat (I went fancy and bought from Trade Joes)
1/4 c all purpose flour
1 large onion chopped
3-4 celery ribs, chopped
4 garlic cloves, pressed
28 oz beef broth
12-16 oz mushrooms (half baby bellos, half white)
2 tbs fresh thyme
(1 bay leaf--I didn't use, but might help)
1 tsp salt
t tsp pepper
olive oil
3/4 - 1 c evaporated skim milk (since I only added this to half a batch, I used .5 c)

Toss the meat in flour, then brown in olive oil. Transfer to slow cooker.

Saute the onion, celery, and garlic until almost tender, about 4 min.

Add veggies to meat in slow cooker, add remaining ingredients (except milk) and stir well.

Cook on low for 8 hours or until beef is tender. Depending upon the size of your cubes of beef, you may want to break them up a bit.

In the last 30 min of cooking, add milk. Adjust seasons as desired.

Serves 6-8.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Guest Post: Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter

My auntie prepared this recipe which appeared in Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, 2008. I don't think she made any changes, but said it was a little too oniony from the chives.


1/2 c cream
3 oz truffle butter (white, from Whole Foods)
1 package tagliarelle (8oz)
3 tbs fresh chives, chopped
paremesan cheese, shaves
kosher salt and pepper

Cook the pasta in salted water according to the directions.

On medium heat the cream until it comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and melt truffle butter with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.

Toss the pasta with the sauce and garnish with chives and parmesan.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cowl/Neck Warmer

I haven't made any new scarves this year for myself since I've been busy with other things. However, it's been unusually cold this winter and last year's scarves have getting lost of wear which has resulted in some stretching. This whipped up super quickly. I got the idea to make a cowl from our trip to the north woods of Wisconsin where someone brought along a few fleece ones. I like that it covers my nose, if needed.


The pattern is a combination of a few I found online and basically goes like this:

Using an I hook and Lionbrand Homespun yarn, chain 60. This should fit over your head, but not be too loose.

Row 1: Ch 1, turn, *sc, dc*, repeat from * around. Sl st to first ch.
Row 2: Ch 1, turn *dc in each sc, sc in each dc, repeat from * around. Sl st to first ch.
Repeat Row 1 and 2 until cowl is desired height. Sc around.



Sunday, February 14, 2010

Holiday Treat Bags

This pattern appeared in December 2009's Crochet World p. 20. I filled them with homemade caramels and store-bought peppermints. The only deviation I think I made from the printed pattern was to adjust the height. Aren't they just adorable?


Photobucket Photobucket

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lamb Tagine

This recipe was closely adapted from Southern Living's Slow-Cooker Cookbook. The recipe called for beef consomme and frozen pearl onions, which I didn't have. Thus, I used beef broth and a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste and yellow onions. The recipe wasn't untasty, just lacked a punch. If I try it again, I would up the spices and maybe add some cumin or something with heat. The dish thickened up nicely, so I did not add any flour at the end. As for a side, the recipe recommended serving with couscous, but I served it with some quinoa. (recipe at the end)


1.5 lbs boneless leg of lamb, cubed
2 Tbs honey
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp saffron threads, crushed
10.5 oz beef broth, mixed with 2 Tbs tomato paste
1 med onion, chopped
1/2 c prunes, cut into bite-sized pieces

Salt and pepper the lamb cubes and brown in a skillet coated with olive oil. Drain and add to slowcooker.

Whisk together honey - broth mixture. Pour over meat. Cook on low for 3-4 hours.

Add onions and prunes, cook another 2 hours until tender.

Serves 4.

1 c uncooked quinoa
2 med carrots, chopped
1/2 med onion, chopped
2 c chicken broth

Saute carrots and onion in olive oil until tender and beginning to brown. Combine all other ingredients with carrot/onion mixure and bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low for 25 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed.

2009 Christmas Cards - 4 cards

Here's the last of them. It took nearly as long to photograph and upload them as it did to make them ;)

This went to my husband.




2009 Christmas Cards - 4 cards




This went to my auntie, I think.

2009 Christmas Cards - 6 cards







2009 Christmas Cards - 3 cards

Since I'm posting these more than a month after, I have no idea which card went to whom unless otherwise noted. You may also note that I got a lot of use out of both the positive and negative of a particular tree stencil.




2009 Christmas Cards

It took a whole weekend, including late nights, but I managed to finish all my holiday cards before Christmas! Individual shots of the cards will appear in subsequent posts.

Photobucket Photobucket

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Slowcooker Mac and Cheese

Adapted from Southern Living's Slow-Cooker Cookbook. This recipe was super easy and was cooking in the slowcooker in about 5 minutes as there's no boiling of pasta required. I thought it was a little spicy, so have written this with less cayenne than I actually used but you could omit it entirely. I also used whole wheat pasta but would use a lighter pasta next time. The recipe recommends a 3 qt slowcooker, which is smaller than I have. Thus, as you can see from the pictures, it burned a bit around the edges.


16 oz shredded cheese (I used cheddar and parmesan)
2 eggs
12 oz evaporated low-fat or skim milk
1.5 c skim milk
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp dry mustard
pinch of cayenne (less than 1/4 tsp)
1/2 tsp pepper
8 oz small uncooked pasta

Combine all ingredients except pasta and cheese. Pour mixture over pasta and cheese in bottom of slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 hours.

Serves 6-8.

It set up like a cake!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Guest Post: Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup

My auntie prepared this Bobby Flay recipe on Superbowl Sunday. She said that she thought the thyme was a little overpowering, but that the dish was well-received by her guests. She also recommends using an immersion blender rather than a traditional blender. Looks yummy to me and is definitely going on the list to try. Love her step-by-step pictures.


10 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Spanish onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
3 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place tomatoes in a large baking dish and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with the garlic, season with salt and pepper.


Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft.


Heat the remaining olive oil in a medium stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes, garlic, and the juices that have accumulated. Add the stock and fresh thyme and cook for 20 minutes.


Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium high heat and cook until reduced by half. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth, strain into a clean saucepan over low heat, add the reduced cream, and cook for 5 minutes.


Serves 4

Monday, February 8, 2010

Chicken with Dried Plums

This recipe is adapted from this one that appeared in December 2008 Cooking Light. I've prepared it directly as printed and with several modifications based upon available ingredients, all with success. The balsamic vinegar really brings out the flavor in the prunes.


1 lb boneless, skinless chicken (thighs or breasts)
2 c onions, sliced (1-2 med)
2 tsp dried thyme or sage (or 2 TBS fresh)
12 prunes (dried plums), sliced in halves or quarters
1/2 c chicken broth (or 1/4 c each white wine and broth)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt, pepper, olive oil

Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and a little dried sage or thyme and brown in skillet over medium high heat. The chicken should be almost cooked through. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Add a little more olive oil to pan and saute onions until tender, about 3-5 minutes.

Add liquids to the pan and bring to a boil (this won't take long). Add prunes and remaining thyme/sage.

Return the chicken to pan. Cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes.

Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan over pasta, quinoa, or couscous.

4 servings.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Buttermilk Pancakes with Cinnamon-Sugar Apples

You might have noticed that a number of recipes this week involve buttermilk. It all started because I wanted to make Cheddar Biscuits with Sage for dinner one night. The smallest container of buttermilk that they had was a quart, so since then I've looked for other recipes to use up the remaining. Today's objective was two-fold--use the remaining buttermilk and use a bunch of apples that I had bought for snacking during the week, which would likely go bad because I'm going home tomorrow. The result was a marvelous pancake recipe that's not too sweet or dry, which I found at the Joy of Baking. Enjoy!


3 medium Granny Smith Apples, peeled and chopped
2 Tbs brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

In a skillet over medium heat, add apples and cook for 2 minutes until apples begin to soften. Sprinkle salt, cinnamon and sugar over the apples and toss well to combine. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Cover and reduce heat to low and allow apples to soften into a compote-like substance while you make the pancakes.

1 c flour
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 c buttermilk
3 Tbs butter, melted

Whisk together dry ingredients. Make a well in center; add the egg and beat it slightly. Gradually pour in the buttermilk and melted butter, whisking until well batter is smooth.

Cook for 1-2 minutes per side on a preheated, sprayed griddle or skilled. This is a thick batter, so you will need to watch the pancakes carefully and possibly flip before bubbles depending upon your heat source.

Makes 2-4 serving of pancakes with apples. Serve with syrup, if desired.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Easy Buttermilk Biscuits

This recipe is a combination of an Alton Brown recipe available on the Food Network's website and and handful of others that I read while searching for a quick and easy recipe. The most notable thing about the original recipe was that the cooking time was way off (said 15-20, but my biscuits would have been charcoal by then and I use an oven thermometer to check my oven's purported temp).


2 c all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbs butter, cut into small pieces
1 c butter milk

Preheat oven to 450.

Mix dry ingredients together using a whisk or food processor/stand mixer.

Add in butter using a pastry cutter or quick pulses of the machine until mixture has the texture of crumbs or sand.

Add in buttermilk and throughly combined.

Turn mixture out onto floured surface. Roll until about 1/2-3/4" thick. Cut using floured 2" biscuit cutter or other round shape.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. (Mine rose to at least an inch and a half in height.)

Makes 10-12.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

This recipe is from the box of Quaker Oats and is true and reliable. I lighten the eggs a bit, as noted, and sometimes use a little less sugar and wheat flour, but otherwise it stays the same.


1 c butter, softened
1 c brown sugar (3/4 c)
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 eggs (1 egg, 2 whites)
1 tsp vanilla
1.5 c flour (1 c all purpose, 1/2 c wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 c oatmeal (quick 1 minute oats)
1 c raisins (1.5 c)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cookie sheet or use parchment paper.

Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla.

Separately, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

Add dry to wet, mixing until smooth.

Stir in oatmeal and raisins.

Bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Cool for a minute on cookie sheet, then completely on a wire rack.

Makes 4-5 dozen, 1-2" cookies.