Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chicken Cobbler Casserole

I couldn't wait to make this dinner that Brooke posted a week or so ago. How freaken fabulous does it look?

I changed a couple of things, but overall kept it the same. This was such a great dinner to make on this weird, cold, snowy day.

This was REALLY good... except when my husband complained that I didn't make enough of it for a substantial amount of leftovers. Hee hee!

  • 4 tablespoons melted butter, divided
  • 4 slices cubed whole wheat bread, about 4 cups
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium-size sweet onion, sliced
  • 1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
  • 14oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds) shredded cooked chicken (I diced up three chicken thighs and cooked them up on the stove)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss 4 tablespoons melted butter with next 3 ingredients; set aside. Sauté onions in one tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 10 minutes or until golden brown. Add mushrooms, and sauté 3-5 minutes. Stir in wine and next 3 ingredients; cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until bubbly. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 9-inch square baking dish; top evenly with bread mixture. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

I was really in the mood to make some sort of dessert-y treat, but had already gone to the grocery store for the week. So I needed something that didn't require an extra trip.

I decided on ice cream, but I wanted something COOL, you know? Not just plain old vanilla or chocolate... something with CHUNKS. I love ice cream with chunks!

I realized that I had a handful of mini-Reeses cups in the cabinet, so off to Google I flew, in search of a Reeses recipe.

Well, I found an awesome one on the Cuisinart website!

I pretty much kept the recipe exactly, except that I used 1/2 skim milk in part of the milk addition. Also, for the peanut butter? I used my super cool Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter, which not only gave it a kick-ass taste, but also made it look like chocolate ice cream.

And the taste? A-MAZE-ing. I seriously want to go grab it out of the freezer and have even more.

The pics were taken immediately out of the machine, which is why it's not really solid.

Speaking of pictures... I am sad to say that I have returned my parents' Rebel to its rightful owners. I've had it for several months and have loved every minute of it... I was finally starting to learn how to USE it! But maybe Santa will bring me one this year... I've been a very good girl, don't you think? :)

So future pictures will be taken from my Sony CyberShot or my Fuji FinePix... while I mourn the Rebel that was never mine. Hee hee!


  • 1-1/8 cups good quality peanut butter (not natural)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped chocolate peanut butter cup candies

In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer or whisk to combine the peanut butter and sugar until smooth. Add the milk and mix on low speed until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla.

Turn the machine on; pour the mixture into freezer bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 25 to 35 minutes. Five minutes before mixing is completed, add the chopped candy through the top and let mix in completely. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours.

Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Information per Serving:
Calories 261 (69% from fat) • carb. 15g • pro. 6g • fat 21g • sat. fat 9g • chol. 43mg • sod. 110mg • calc. 49mg • fiber 1g

©2008 CuisinartCuisinart® is a registered trademark of Cuisinart, Stamford, CT 06902.

Pumpkin Scones

I could not wait to try these Pumpkin Scones from Cooking Up Memories. I love scones, and I love pumpkin, so... voila! YAY!

For some reason, though, my glaze wasn't as opaque and glaze-ish as hers; it just kind of saturated the scone and made it unnecessarily soggy. I think I didn't use enough powdered sugar, though - I just finished what was left in the box without measuring. So that was probably the cause! I definitely didn't have enough for the spiced glaze, so I didn't even attempt that.

Anyway, when you scope out these pictures, notice how each shot seems to have fewer and fewer chocolate chips...

What a little grub!


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 7 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 tablespoons half-and-half
  • 1 large egg


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ginger
  • 1 pinch ground cloves

To make the scones:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Using a pastry knife, fork, or food processor, cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter are obvious. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half and half, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Form the dough into a ball.

Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle (about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide). Use a large knife or a pizza cutter to slice the dough twice through the width, making three equal portions. Cut those three slices diagonally so that you have 6 triangular slices of dough. Place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 14–16 minutes. Scones should begin to turn light brown. Place on wire rack to cool.

To make the plain glaze:
Mix the powdered sugar and 2 tbsp milk together until smooth.

When scones are cool, use a brush to paint plain glaze over the top of each scone.

To make the spiced glaze:
Combine the ingredient for the spiced icing together. Drizzle this thicker icing over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (at least 1 hour). A squirt bottle works great for this, or you can drizzle with a whisk.

Chicken Rigatoni with Cream Cheese Sauce

This was a delightful little dish from Lynsey Lou's Place. I love her blend of flavors and creative additions. This is definitely a nice, easy keeper!

  • I think the only thing I'd change is to double the sauce; other than that - big winner!

    Check out my little green bean thief:

  • Busted!


  • 8 ounces rigatoni pasta
  • 3-4 Chicken cutlets -cubed
  • Olive oil-for drizzling
  • Fresh cracked pepper- to taste
  • Garlic salt - to taste
  • 2 1/2-3 Cups sugar snapped peas-prepared as directed
  • Parmesan cheese-for sauce and to garnish

Cream Sauce:

  • 2 ounces cream cheese-at room temperature
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4-1/2 cup milk
  • Fresh cracked pepper-to taste

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook about 8-10 minutes. Once finished, drain the pasta and set aside.

Warm some olive oil in a skillet and then add cubed chicken. Stir in chicken and season with pepper and garlice salt. Cook about 5 minutes, until chicken is cooked entirely through. Remove chicken to drain.

Cream Sauce:
In a small sauce pan add cream cheese and butter, melt together over low to medium heat.

Continue until the blend is smooth and creamy. Stir in milk, fresh cracked pepper and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.

Simmer mixture over low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Once finished combine chicken, pasta, sugar snap peas and cream sauce and mix together.

Serve with parmesan cheese on top along with fresh cracked pepper.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Veggie Pot Pie

The second recipe for October's Barefoot Bloggers was a yummy one: Veggie Pot Pie. Thanks, Deb, for a great selection!

I have to confess, however, that a lack of some ingredients (and a big lack of talent and time!) made me deviate more than a little from the recipe. For Ina's awesome version, click on the link above. Below, you'll find my version. While it may not have tasted as good as the original, it wasn't bad - and it was a whole lot quicker!

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 2 cups sliced yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 1 tsp dried fennel
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups good chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups large-diced potatoes (1/2 pound)
  • 1 package frozen butternut squash
  • 2 cups frozen mixed veggies
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions (1/2 pound)
  • 1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 6 frozen pastry shells

Bake the pastry shells according to package directions.

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and fennel and saute until translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the flour, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Slowly add the stock, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the heavy cream and season to taste. The sauce should be highly seasoned.

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Lift out with a sieve and add to the sauce. Add the squash, frozen onions, frozen veggies, and parsley to the sauce.

Pour over warm pastry shells.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I found this recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken on Colleen's blog (I believe it originated here) and it was... interesting. It wasn't quite as crispy as I was hoping for, but it wasn't bad at all. I would definitely try this again!

Before I get to the recipe, let me just flaunt my adorable son who tried to show off his already-rotting pumpkin, and then stole some carrots:

  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

Cut boneless chicken breasts into chunks. Season with salt and pepper. Dip chicken in cornstarch and then in egg. Fry in a little oil until brown but not cooked through. Place in a single layer in a baking dish. Mix sauce ingredients (below) together and pour over chicken.


  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt

Bake for one hour at 325 degrees. Turn chicken every 15 minutes. If you like extra sauce, make another batch of sauce and bring it to a boil on the stovetop. Stir constantly and let cook over medium heat until thickened and reduced - about 6-8 minutes.

Crockpot Chicken Parisienne

This is another recipe from Don't Panic--Dinner's in the Freezer.

Forgive the picture - I could not capture anything that didn't represent goo. However, while it wasn't bad, it certainly wasn't anything spectacular.

It was kind of lumpy and thick when I took it out of the pot, so I actually added a few spoonfuls of jarred gravy over the top.

  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 10oz can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 6 chicken breasts

Mix wine, soup, and mushrooms together. Stir flour into sour cream and add to soup mixture.

Place chicken and sauce in crockpot. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and paprika over top. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

To freeze: Combine all ingredients in a plastic bag and freeze.

Someone found the Silpat...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Beef and Polenta Pie

I tore this out of Rachael Ray's magazine, and when I later saw it on someone else's blog (I cannot for the life of me remember whose...), I figured that was some divine intervention, telling me I must make this.

So I did.

I guess if I were grading this dinner as I would my students' essays, I'd give it a C+. It was average. Nothing terrible, but nothing fabulous.

Would I make it again? Ehh. I don't know. I'd have to really be in the mood for it.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • One 6-ounce package portobello mushroom caps, cut into cubes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground beef
  • Salt and pepper
  • One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup instant polenta
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, plus more for sprinkling
  • One 10-ounce package frozen green beans, thawed and drained

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the mushrooms and onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the beef, season with salt and pepper and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, lower the heat and simmer.

2. In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups water and 3/4 teaspoon salt to a boil. Whisk in the polenta until thickened, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the cream, cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until smooth; pour into a large casserole dish.

3. Stir the green beans into the beef mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring, until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture over the polenta and top with more parmesan.

Marinara Sauce

Although I usually love anything from Giada, I was not a fan of her Quick Marinara. Therefore, I was a bit reluctant to try her "basic" version from her Everyday Italian book.

I needn't have worried. I know the picture below is blurry and icky, but this sauce was really, really good! Definitely a keeper.

(I threw all the veggies into my chopper for a smoother consistency.)

For some reason, the recipe is doubled in the book, and I doubled that, so I ultimately ended up with 4 times the quantity posted below. Oh well - I'm sure it won't take long before it's gone!

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 dried bay leaves

In a large pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste.

(The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.)


I've been on the hunt for some freezer-friendly foods in another effort to cut back how much time I spend cooking during the week without really cutting back how much I cook. Make sense? :)

I remember that I bought this book, Don't Panic--Dinner's in the Freezer, when I was pregnant with Ryan to try to have food ready for when he was born. While it's not the greatest book ever, it has some good stuff in it.

I was making some marinara sauce, so I figured meatballs would be a great addition to my freezer stash. I doubled this recipe (I used half turkey and half beef) and made about 4 dozen meatballs, give or take. They certainly weren't my grandmother's, but they weren't bad.

  • 1 1/2 ground meat
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T parsley flakes
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/8 t pepper
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients and mix together gently. Shape into balls and place on baking sheet; bake for 30 minutes at 350.

To freeze - place on a jelly roll pan before baking and flash freeze. After frozen, remove from pan and store in freezer-safe ziplocs.

Awesome Autumn Stew

I bookmarked this recipe for an Awesome Autumn Stew in Rachael Ray's newer cookbook - Yum-O! We had plans to go pumpkin picking with my brother, and what better meal for post-pumpkin-ing than an autumn stew?

I decided to just throw everything into the crockpot rather than cook it Rachael's way - much easier and lazier. And I also followed her suggestion and used chicken thighs rather than pork.

The taste was pretty good, although it was just a tad to sweet... even for me. Maybe it was all those craisins... I don't know. I would probably change a few things. Also, there was a LOT of liquid! I'd definitely reduce the amounts of broth and cider next time.

Altogether, though, not too shabby for a meal that cost me about 5 minutes of my life to assemble.


  • 1 package pork tenderloins (2 pieces), trim them up and remove the shiny silver skin and connective tissue or ask the butcher to do this for you
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 large onion, chopped into 1-inch dice
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced on an angle 1/2-inch thick
  • 5-6 ribs celery from the heart of the stalk, sliced 1/2-inch thick on an angle
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
  • 5-6 sprigs thyme
  • 4 McIntosh apples, quartered, core cut away, then cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 2 cups cloudy apple cider
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 loaf crusty whole grain bread

Cube the pork tenderloin into 1 1/2-inch pieces – big bites. Place the cubed tenderloins onto a sheet tray. Season the meat liberally with salt and freshly ground black pepper and toss with the paprika and flour until well coated.

Meanwhile, pre-heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot with the EVOO over medium-high to high heat. Once the oil ripples and begins to very lightly smoke, add the pork to the pot and sear it until it is well browned on all sides, 7-8 minutes (lots of brown bits should be left in the bottom of the pot). Remove the meat to a platter and reserve.

Add the onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf and thyme to the pot and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook the vegetables until they begin to become tender, 6-8 minutes. Add in the apples, allspice and cranberries and allow to sauté until the vegetables are quite tender but the apples still have some legs, 3-4 more minutes.

Pour in the cider and scrape up the brown bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add in the chicken stock and toss the pork back into the hot tub. Bring the mixture to a boil and allow it to simmer for 8-10 minutes or until slightly thickened, cranberries have plumped and apples are tender. Pull out the bay leaf and thyme sprigs from the pot and discard them.

Line the bottom of dinner bowls with a few chunks of bread. Ladle the stew on top of the bread and enjoy!

Sweet "Citrus" Chicken

My awesome friend Jen emailed me this Sweet Citrus Chicken recipe not too long ago, and I think I love her even more now. Was that even possible?

I loved how easy this was to just throw together - unbelievable. And SO GOOD!! I actually forgot to buy orange juice and was way too lazy to go out and buy it... I used apple juice instead. Delish!

This would also work awesome with turkey for a mid-year mini-Thanksgiving feast... throw some craisins in there too, and POOF! Fantastic!

Thanks for the recommendation, Jen!

  • 1-2/3 cups hot water
  • 1 pkg. (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken
  • 6 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1-1/2 lb.), pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted

PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Add hot water to stuffing mix; stir just until moistened. Set aside.

PLACE chicken in 13x9-inch baking dish. Mix juice, sugar and butter until well blended; pour over chicken. Top with prepared stuffing.

BAKE 30 min. or until chicken is cooked through (170ºF).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hilarious! (but not cooking related)

I don't even remember where I first saw this picture, but it absolutely cracks me up every.single.time. Hope it brings you some giggles!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Follow me?

If you are reading this in Google Reader, please click the link at the top of your screen so you are on the actual blog.

Go ahead. I'll give you a sec.

Okay, you there? You're on the blog itself? You see the morbid black background and the picture of me on your right grinning like a moron?


Okay, scroll down a bit. Over on the left, see the little box that says "Followers"?

You really should click on the link that says "Follow This Blog."

I'll be honest - I have no idea what it means to "follow" a blog.

But I assure you - it will make me feel pretty damn special if you did so. ;)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina

I've had Giada's Italian Baked Chicken and Pasta bookmarked for months now and finally am getting around to making it. I thought it'd be good, but didn't expect it to be awesome; it's really just a simple dish.

It was, however, far better than I expected. My son, who currently will not eat anything that isn't a Cheerio, ate a ton of this! That alone makes this dinner a winner, no?

Next time, I must double it. It made just enough for the three of us; there aren't any leftovers. More is better!

Confession: I was totally channeling my inner child while at the store; I went for the little alphabets rather than pastina. I felt so... childlike? while eating them.


  • 1 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Stuffed Pizza Pie

One of the things I love best about Picky Palate (and several other blogs) is that the dishes are "tested" by other little boys. So when I see a successful recipe, I am more confident when I give them to Ryan.

This Stuffed Pizza Pie was no exception. Ryan ate almost an entire slice by himself! Later, he kept coming up to me when I was trying to actually eat dinner myself, begging for more.

I'd like to pretend that the fact that I let him "dunk" into some Ranch Dressing had nothing to do with it...

But this was absolutely delicious, and the fact that it was so simple is just a bonus. I'd love to play around with this and make different variations. The possibilities are endless...!

  • 16 oz whole wheat or white pizza dough
  • 1 Cup ricotta cheese
  • ¼ Cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic (dried or fresh)
  • 2 Cups fresh broccoli florets, steamed until fork tender, about 3 minutes in boiling water
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ Cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 ½ Cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried Italian Seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Spread and press one piece of dough into the bottom and sides of a 9-9 ½ inch round baking dish. In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta and parmesan cheese until well combined. Spread into pressed pizza dough.

2. Place olive oil into a medium skillet over medium heat. Saute spinach until wilted down, about 3 minutes. Place evenly over ricotta cheese layer, and sprinkle garlic on top. Place steamed broccoli florets over spinach and season with a pinch or two of kosher salt. Layer roasted red peppers, then mozzarella cheese over top. Press out remaining piece of dough and place over filling, tucking edges inside of pan. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with Italian Seasoning. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cooked through.

3. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan or cutting into wedges.

Apple Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin-Fest '08 continues in my kitchen, and this time the Big Orange entered the crockpot!

When this was posted on Proceed with Caution, I printed it immediately to be used on my next crockpot Wednesday.

It smelled so amazing in the crockpot, and it was so simple to prepare. I actually threw it together the night before and stashed the insert in the fridge. That morning, all I had to do was pop into the pot and push the buttons. Awesome.

The taste was fabulous, too! Nice and warm and fall-ish... and not too spicy! I LOVE not-too-spicy chili!

For all of you moms, I also figured out that the key to getting my kid to eat dinner is to let him wander underfoot as I'm trying to take pics for the blog. It doesn't matter at ALL how much (or how little) he's eaten - once he sees me fiddling with the dishes and the camera on the window seat or table, he's all over it. I have been catching so many shots lately with little hands fingers sneaking in.

I just might start feeding him at the window seat...!


  • 1 pound ground turkey or chicken, browned in a skillet
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) white beans
  • 1.5 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, cleaned, and sliced
  • one medium shallot, diced
  • 1 granny smith apple, diced
  • 1/2 can pumpkin puree
  • 2.5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • grated cheddar cheese, for topping

Combine all except thickener and cheese in a crockpot. Stir to mix ingredients. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6. Add thickener (equal parts broth and cornstarch) if desired and heat on high for a few minutes to thicken sauce. Serve, topping with grated cheese.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cheeseburger Risotto

Well, folks, it has happened - I have created my own recipe. This is something I've thought up and considered for a month or two now, and finally felt somewhat ready to bring it to life.

I absolutely adore risotto, and I've experimented with a few different flavor combinations. Somewhere, somehow, the idea of making a cheeseburger version popped into my head, and I was unable to shake it out.

I used Bridget's absolutely fabulous risotto as a base, and just kind of threw the rest together!

The taste was pretty good - nice and comfort-food-ish. I did think it lacked something, but I cannot put my finger on it. Any suggestions?

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 to 1 lb ground turkey or beef
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • chopped tomatoes for garnish
1. Brown the turkey in the olive oil and set aside. Bring the broth and water to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover; turn the burner off but keep the pot on the burner.

2. Heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat until the foaming subsides. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring constantly, until rice is opaque, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring until the rice nearly completely absorbs all the liquid, about 1 minute.

3. Add 2 cups of the hot stock and stir occasionally until it’s mostly absorbed (the spoon will leave a trail on the bottom of the pan), about 6 minutes. Continue to add stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring frequently, until each addition is absorbed. Cook until rice is creamy but still somewhat firm in center (add more water in 1/2 cup increments if broth/water mixture runs out), 10 to 12 minutes longer.

4. Stir in cheese and reserved ground turkey. Add the mustard, and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve with tomatoes or garnish of choice.

Mom's Vodka Sauce

This is a nice sentimental blog post for me.

First of all, it is one that reminds me of my childhood. My mom used to make this frequently, and whenever I taste it, I am teleported back to my hometown, sitting in the kitchen of the house I grew up in, eating with my parents and brothers. Though it tastes pretty good when I make it, it's nothing like hers.

This is also one of the very first things my mom taught me to make. I never, EVER cooked before I was married, and it was a huge joke that my husband would have to learn how to love Kraft Mac and Cheese. I honestly could not cook more than that when we got married just over five years ago. My mom very patiently would stand with me in the kitchen every couple of weeks, teaching me a new staple. Those moments are without a doubt what fueled my own, albeit newfound, love of cooking.

This sauce also happens to be the source of one of my biggest almost-mistakes. After having learned how to make this, I was super excited to "entertain" for the first time - my cousin Cheryl and her husband John, also newlyweds. I had my already-splattered recipe on the counter, written in my mom's perfect handwriting, and I had gone shopping for the necessary ingredients earlier that day. I was SO thrilled to be doing this on my own!

However, as I was peeling and chopping garlic, I realized that the process was taking forever. I really didn't remember peeling and chopping for THIS long! I checked out the recipe and it said, sure enough, that I needed 4-6 cloves of garlic. Well, if I counted correctly, how did I end up with a counter FULL of peeled garlic?

Well, I will tell you. This garlic overabundance occurred because yours truly did not know the difference between a CLOVE of garlic and a HEAD. Thank goodness I made a couple of emergency calls before actually cooking all of that!

Anyway, I should stop rambling and get to the food... but before I do: Thank you, Mom. For this, and so much more. I love you!

Okay. The sauce. This time I used half-and-half rather than cream, and that gave it a thin and grainy consistency. But really, the appearance was all that was affected, and that's worth a few saved calories, don't you think?

I doubled this recipe the other night, and ended up with ten two-cup servings which are now hanging out in my freezer!

  • 1 stick butter
  • 2/3 cup vodka
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2-2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 quart light cream
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese

Melt butter in sauce pan. Add vodka and cook until alcohol evaporates.

Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent, and then add seasoning and pepper flakes.

Add both cans of tomatoes and simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Slowly add the cream while stirring, and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the cheese and stir well.

Serve over penne; freeze any leftover sauce.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Squash-Tastic Shepherd's Pie

Once I got past the fact that Hungry Girl likes her Fiber One cereal a tad too much, I found that I really enjoy her cookbook.

This meal by far surpassed my expectations. I expected kind of bland-ish, nothing-to-write-home-about dinner, but was absolutely blown away.

The pictures don't really capture its yumminess, but I assure you, this is one fabulous meal! As soon as my husband took a bite, he made a little yummy noise and said, "Wow, this is really good!" Not to pat myself on the back, but I had to agree. ;)

I usually buy pre-chopped squash, but the store didn't have any, so I bought a whole one. If you don't have to contend with one of those babies, this would definitely be a weeknight meal.

The only changes I made were to sprinkle a bit of all-spice into the squash, and then to top the dish with a bit of shredded cheddar. DE-LISH!


  • 3 1/2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 lb raw extra-lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • dash of garlic powder
  • dash of onion powder
  • dash of black pepper
  • 3/4 cup fat-free gravy
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen mixed veggies
  • 1 tbsp light whipped butter or light buttery spread
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the squash in a large microwave-safe dish with 1/2 cup of water. Cover bowl and cook squash in the microwave for 12 to 14 minutes, until squash is soft. (I steamed mine on the stove.)

Meanwhile, in a medium pan over medium heat, cook onions until slightly browned (2 to 3 minutes).

Add the turkey, minced garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper to the pan. Stir well. Cook until meat is browned.

Drain any excess liquid from the pan. Place meat/onion mixture in a casserole dish. (I used a 9x13 and everything seemed really spread thin. This probably should have gone in my 9x9.) Pour gravy evenly over the mixture. Spread the mixed veggies on top and then set dish aside.

Once squash is cooked, drain excess water and mash well. Add butter and salt to the squash and then mix thoroughly. Layer the mashed squash on top of the veggie layer. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes (until crust looks slightly crispy).

Saturday, October 4, 2008

S'more Brownies

My brother Chris (hi, Chris!!) is a very no-sweets kind of person. Never has dessert, always eats the "healthy" cereals, etc. Weirdo! ;)

But you can imagine my surprise when he emailed me the link to this recipe with a note that said, "Randomly came across this and thought it would be something you’d like to try."

My first thought was, naturally, "How did YOU end up with THIS?"

It was a fleeting thought, however, because I was then way too preoccupied with actually making them, and it didn't take more than a couple of days before I actually did.

These were really good! The brownie part was almost cakish, but not in a bad way. My only complaint was that the marshmallows were a bit... chewy. But that may have been because I stuck the brownies back in the oven for a few more minutes so that the marshmallows would sort of melt into each other. Next time I'll just make a denser layer.



  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch fine salt


  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 4 large cold eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour


  • 4 cups large marshmallows

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8 by-8-inch square baking pan with foil so it hangs over the edges by about 1 inch.

For the crust: Lightly butter the foil with some of the melted butter. Stir the rest of the butter together with the crumbs, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Press the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the brownie. Put the butter and chocolate in a medium microwave safe bowl. Melt in the microwave on 75 percent power for 2 minutes. Stir, and microwave again until completely melted, about 2 minutes more. Alternatively, put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with 1 inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl on the pan without touching the water. Stir occasionally until melted. Stir the light brown and white sugars, vanilla and salt into the melted chocolate. Add the eggs and beat vigorously to make a thick and glossy batter. Add the flour and stir until just incorporated.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the top is crispy and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean, with a few crumbs, about 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and carefully position a rack about 6 inches from the broiler and preheat on low. Layer marshmallows across the top and toast under the broiler until golden, (keep an eye on it, it can go quick), about 2 minutes. Cool on a rack, gently removing the brownies from the pan using the aluminum flaps. Carefully separate any marshmallow from the foil and fold away. Cut into 12 (2-inch) squares.

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownies

I was so excited when Nana told me that Aunt Mill and Uncle Morris were here from Florida this week! We obviously don't get to see them more than once or twice a year, so we really treasure their visits.

I quickly volunteered to bring some dessert, and knew that this would be perfect. These Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownies from Cara's Cravings have been circling my blog circle and keep popping up on my reader. I had to give them a chance!

I suppose it's better late than never, but I only JUST NOW LEARNED that you are supposed to bake brownies for a good 10 minutes longer if you use a glass pan. Do you have ANY idea how many batches of brownies I've eaten with a spoon? Do you know how many times I've used muffin tins just to avoid the embarassment of brownie mush? Have you any clue how many times I've skipped out on the brownie idea altogether out of fear?

Well, live and learn. Unfortunately, that lesson came AFTER I made these guys. ;)

Gooeyness aside, these tasted very yummy! I brought some leftovers to Denise and George when we stopped by today to visit little baby Abby.

Brownie Batter
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
Cheesecake Batter
  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp each ground ginger and ground cloves
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8x8" square metal baking pan.
Beat together melted butter, sugar, and vanilla, then beat in eggs one at a time. Combine dry ingredients and then gradually stir into butter mixture with a wooden spoon. In separate bowl, beat together cheesecake batter ingredients.
Spread about 2/3 of chocolate batter into prepared pan, and spoon cheesecake batter over. Dollop remaining brownie batter over cheesecake batter. Swirl the batters together by running a butter knife back and forth through the pan.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until center is set. Cool completely on wire rack and chill before cutting and serving.
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